Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - July 17, 2019 đź’Ś

You go from using the spiritual journey in the service of your psychodynamics to using your psychodynamics in the service of your spiritual journey. 

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: A Guide to Generosity

Two important things about true giving: First, it requires some sacrifice on the part of the giver. To give away something that one doesn’t need is not dana. Second, the act must not be condescending but must show respect to the one who receives the gift. In fact, one is grateful to the recipient who makes the act of giving possible.

—Taitetsu Unno, “Three Grapefruits

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Moon Landing Launch Day 2019

I am pretty sure I know now when my fall from grace began… It involved the NASA Space Program and a summer church camp. 

Let me explain.

From the very beginning, the space launches were very much part of my psyche - and still are. 
In those days the world stopped every time an astronaut was sent into space. Like most kids my age, I begged my parents to buy me the plastic  models of each rocket and spent countless hours in my bedroom gluing pieces together and patently applying paint and decals to each model... Mercury, Gemini and then a huge almost 1m high Saturn V, with a tiny little LM that you could detach and connect to the Apollo spaceship. Later I made Enterprises and Jupiter spaceships to mess around with in my own little universe. When I left the USA, I still had that Saturn V in a box, it went to the estate sale, I hope someone is taking great care of it.
It was an age of promise with a few air raid drills (mostly 2nd and 3rd grade) in between. Moonshots, atomic menace, giant  monsters on the 4 o´clock KTVU after school movie. Our games on long summer evenings with kids on the block were hide n seek plus duck n cover. 
In 6th grade my family uprooted us from San JosĂ© and moved to my father´s boyhood town of Grants Pass, Oregon. It was my first experience with travel, adventure and new friends, new beginnings. We were closer to Grandmother, Aunts and Uncles on the ranch in Northern California, and soon my parents would send my sister and I on the Greyhound for long weekends…
Neighbors got new tv´s, big things in fancy consoles – with hi fidelity record players with the TV in front. Once, a neighbor invited everyone over to see the Wizard of Oz in color. My students and my own kids think I am crazy, but it WAS a big deal.
So it was that Mrs. Olsen, who lived next door and brought us her homemade Swedish pastries every Saturday morning, invited us to watch the launch of Apollo 11 with her and on her TV. Though it was 50 years ago today, I remember sitting on the rug and counting down with almost everyone in the world as the rocket motors engaged and the thing took off.  Everyone was proud and listened to every last communication, I had followed every step of the program since it began, I was a nerd, and this was religious. Soon we were going to have moon and Mars bases. 2001 had come out, and I was going to work in space for sure!
By accident, I was headed to a Church Camp, the next day or so.
I was so anxious to see them land, and a couple of us snuck up to the camp counselor´s house to look in the window. Yet the owners of the camp shooed us away from their window while watching the landing themselves.
And, that was the beginning of the end of my Christianity. 
To this very day, I can´t for the life of me understand why the  reverend couldn´t have moved his tv to the window of his house and allowed all off us to watch something so massively mind-bendingly world changing. The reverend could have used that as topic for his evening campfire sermons and had me forever in his congregation. Nope. 
That week away, though was also the first time I developed a crush on a guy, a kid from Medford, dark Italian features… don´t remember his name. He looked great in his swimsuit, and me a gangly skinny kid he invited me with two girls he knew to make out in one of the abandoned cabins. He and his girl on one bed, me the other on another bed. Nothing more than kissing, I wouldn´t have known n what to do anyway at that stage. I remember that the young lady  and I got shushed by the other couple, as were giggling hysterically with fear that our braces would get caught. Nothing really happened, but it was my first make out session, and also my wondering began as to what was so great about it. I mean I liked girls as people, still do, the other stuff not so much. In those days no one knew anything about LGBTQ anything.
So it was that 50 years ago my first questioning of organized religion and sexuality happened (it wasn´t until 25 or so years later,  a series of uncomfortable relationships with good women, trying to like  heterosex while not knowing what was gay sex, marriage that ended in a train wreck with an extraordinary son) that I discovered what was bugging me. 
So, both spiritually and sexually - a giant 30 story Saturn V rocket and its phallic representation and all - this is how and why I have such deep appreciation for NASA and for everything that is good in my life.
Freud explica tudo...

P.S. just as I was shutting down my computer I heard whisps of the Blue Danube playing somewhere...


Via Daily Dharma: Consuming With Wisdom

Mindful consumption requires us to pay attention to the whole multitude of causes and effects that result from our lives as consumers. It asks us to learn about the issues, inform ourselves, and adjust our behavior accordingly.

—Interview with Allan Hunt Badiner by Peter Alsop, “Spending Wisely

Monday, July 15, 2019

Via zenwords / Consciousness

Consciousness exists on two levels: as seeds and as manifestations of these seeds.  Suppose we have a seed of anger in us.  When conditions are favorable, that seed may manifest as a zone of energy called anger.  It is burning, and it makes us suffer a lot.  It is very difficult for us to be joyful at the moment the seed of anger manifests.  Every time a seed has an occasion to manifest itself, it produces new seeds of the same kind.  If we are angry for five minutes, new seeds of anger are produced and deposited in the soil of our unconscious mind during those five minutes.  That is why we have to be careful in selecting the kind of life we lead and the emotions we express.  When I smile, the seeds of smiling and joy have come up.  As long as they manifest, new seeds of smiling and joy are planted.  But if I don’t practice smiling for a number of years, that seed will weaken, and I may not be able to smile anymore.
— Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step —

Via Tricycle: Buddhism by the Numbers: The Economics of Mindfulness

The happiest and unhappiest apps, apps’ annual revenues, the ranking of meditation apps, and more data on the economics of mindfulness

Via Daily Dharma: Practicing Nothing

You lack nothing, therefore you practice. Therefore you must realize and manifest this no-lack, this realized life, this awakened life that you are.

—Elihu Genmyo Smith, “No Need to Do Zazen, Therefore Must Do Zazen

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom - July 14, 2019 đź’Ś

The interesting question is, "How do you put yourself in a position so that you can allow ‘what is’ to be?" The enemy turns out to be the creation of mind. Because when you are just in the moment, doing what you are doing, there is no fear. The fear is when you stand back to think about it. The fear is not in the actions. The fear is in the thought about the actions. 

- Ram Dass -

Via Daily Dharma: Pain and Pleasure, Here and Now

Buddhism is a practice of penetrating and accepting the here and now—not only the bliss of meditation, but the irritations of mundane human interaction and the pain in the morning paper. Just as the lotus needs muddy water to live, the pain of the world can inspire compassionate and effective action.

—Katy Butler, “The Lotus and the Ballot Box

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: Stay Open to the Unexpected

Emptiness refers to the absence of something that, for some reason, one expects to find—as when we say a glass, normally used to hold liquids, is empty even though it is full of air. The point is not that there is nothing there at all, but rather that what is there differs from your expectations.

—William S. Cobb, “The Game of Go

Friday, July 12, 2019

Via Daily Dharma: A Simple Unity

Without the feeling of separation from the rest of the world, we lose the need to strain and stress to be better, more clever, or more accomplished. We can start to just be. That’s all there is to it.

—Ayya Khema, “The Elemental Self

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Buteyko method

The Buteyko method or Buteyko Breathing Technique is a form of complementary or alternative physical therapy that proposes the use of breathing exercises as a treatment for asthma as well as other conditions. 

The method takes its name from Ukrainian doctor Konstantin Pavlovich Buteyko, who first formulated its principles during the 1950s. This method is based on the assumption that numerous medical conditions, including asthma, are caused by chronically increased respiratory rate or deeper breathing (hyperventilation).  However, this theory is not widely supported in the medical community due to the lack of evidence supporting either the theory behind the method or that it works in practice. This method purportedly retrains the breathing pattern through chronic repetitive breathing exercises to correct the hyperventilation, which, according to the method's proponents, will therefore treat or cure asthma as well as any other conditions purportedly caused by hyperventilation. At the core of the Buteyko method is a series of reduced-breathing exercises that focus on nasal-breathing, breath-holding and relaxation. 

Research into the use of the Buteyko method has focused almost exclusively on the treatment of asthma, and have had methodological problems. Studies have not found objective measures to support its use such as improvement in lung function, though there are results showing it may improve subjective measures such as asthma symptoms and quality of life. Reviews of this medical literature have come to different conclusions about the strength of evidence supporting the Buteyko method, with some literature saying the evidence does not support its use, while others have concluded the evidence is enough to consider qualified support. The literature that supports considering its use note the Buteyko method should be used with traditional therapies (and not in place of mainstream treatment) and is unlikely to affect the underlying cause of asthma. There is no support for the use of the Buteyko method in other diseases, such as diabetes mellitus or any of the over 150 diseases supporters of this method claim to treat.

Buteyko Breathing Exercises in 3 minutes by Patrick McKeown

Via Daily Dharma: Inquiring into the Unconscious

To see clearly—to perceive things as they are—we must break the chain between the percept and the concept. This break comes after the senses connect with the object of perception, but before the great flywheel of mental habit boxes that perception in stale cubbyholes of thoughts and feelings.

—Interview with Tara Bennett-Goleman, “Emotional Alchemy: How the Mind Can Heal the Heart

Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Via Lion's Roar / How to Practice Shamatha Meditation

How to Practice Shamatha Meditation

Shamatha meditation—mindfulness or concentration—is the foundation of Buddhist practice. Lama Rod Owens teaches us a version from the Vajrayana tradition.

Illustration by Carole Henaff.

Shamatha means “peaceful abiding” or “tranquility.” Also called mindfulness or concentration meditation, shamatha is an important introductory practice that leads to the practice of vipashyana, or insight meditation.

The purpose of shamatha meditation is to stabilize the mind by cultivating a steady awareness of the object of meditation. The traditional practice of shamatha uses different kinds of supports or anchors for our practice. Eventually, this leads to practicing without supports and meditating on emptiness itself in an open awareness. For this particular practice, the instructions will be for shamatha meditation using the breath as the focus of our practice.

Shamatha mediation allows us to experience our mind as it is. When we practice shamatha, we are able to see that our mind is full of thoughts, some conducive to our happiness and further realization, and others not. It is not extraordinary that our minds are full of thoughts, and it is important to understand that it is natural to have so much happening in the mind.
Over time, practicing shamatha meditation calms our thoughts and emotions. We experience tranquility of mind and calmly abide with our thoughts as they are. Eventually, this leads to a decrease in unhelpful thoughts.

When we experience stable awareness, we are then ready to practice vipashyana, in which we develop insight into what “mind” is by investigating the nature of thoughts themselves. In the Vajrayana tradition of Buddhism, the ultimate goal is to practice calm abiding and insight in union, which opens the door to realizing the true nature of mind.

Traditionally, shamatha practice is taught through instructions on the physical body and then looking at the meditation instructions themselves.

The Seven-Point Posture

The seven-point posture of Vairochana is an ancient set of posture points that are said to align the physical body with our energetic body. The posture has been practiced for thousands of years by Hindu and Buddhist yogis. The seven points are:

  1. Sit cross-legged.
  2. Hands in lap or on knees.
  3. Have a straight back.
  4. Widen the shoulders to open the heart center.
  5. Lower the chin.
  6. Open mouth slightly with the tongue resting on the roof of the mouth.
  7. Eyes open, gazing about four finger widths past the tip of nose.

A Body-Sensitive Posture

We all have different bodies and capabilities. It is important to adjust this demanding traditional posture to meet the needs of our own bodies, and not struggle to adapt our bodies to the posture. What is most important in terms of body posture is keeping the back and spine as straight as possible and remaining comfortable. So the seven points of a more body-sensitive posture could be:

  1. Sit on a cushion or a chair, stand, or lie down.
  2. Arrange your hands in any way that is comfortable.
  3. Hold your back as straight as possible.
  4. Keep your shoulders relaxed and chest open.
  5. Hold your head at whatever level is comfortable.
  6. Keep your lower jaw slightly open.
  7. Keep the eyes closed or open.

The Meditation

There are many kinds of breath meditations. Some have been written down, while others have only been transmitted orally from teacher to student. The following is a basic breath meditation from the Vajrayana tradition:

  1. Adjust the body into a comfortable position, and start the practice by becoming aware of your breath. Notice the inhalation and exhalation.
  2. As you notice the breath, continue to let go of thoughts as they arise. Each time you are distracted by clinging to a thought, return to the breath. Keep doing this over and over again.
  3. Eventually, as you exhale, become aware of your breath escaping and dissolving into space. Experience the same thing with the inhalation.
  4. Slowing down, begin to allow your awareness to mix into open space with the breath on both the inhale and exhale.
  5. To deepen the practice, begin to hold the breath after the inhalation for a few seconds before exhaling. By doing this, you are splitting the breath into three parts: inhalation, holding, and exhalation. Keep doing this.
  6. As you inhale, begin to chant om to yourself. As you hold, chant ah. As you exhale, chant hung. Chanting these sacred syllables helps to further support awareness and is believed to purify our minds.
  7. As you continue with exhalation, relax more. Continue awareness practice, letting go of thoughts and returning to the breath. Do this for as long as you can.

Via Daily Dharma: How Much Can We Forgive?

Consider the possibility, and I am only saying consider the possibility, that maybe nothing is unforgivable. Maybe there is a way to find forgiveness even for what we have believed for so long to be unforgivable. Explore this mindfully.

—Allan Lokos, “Lighten Your Load

Via Ram Dass ? Words of Wisdom - July 10, 2019 đź’Ś

Working to accept death does not exclude efforts to heal the body. In other words, you can go and swim with the dolphins, have chemotherapy or radiation, or whatever, if simultaneously you are also working on death. So that you can keep the balance even. ‘Ah, death. Ah, life.’ That’s the optimum place.
Not, ‘I wish for death’ or, ‘I’m going towards death.’ Also not, ‘I must have life’ or, ‘I can’t possibly have death.’ Because it’s the aversion and attraction that are the root of the suffering which turns into a problem at the moment of death.

- Ram Dass -

Via Paper Cranes to Fort Sill – In Solidarity with Detailed Asylum Seekers

Paper Cranes to Fort Sill – In Solidarity with Detailed Asylum Seekers

9 de jul de 2019 — 

Dream Action Oklahoma (affiliated with United We Dream, the nation’s largest immigration youth-led network) is organizing a coalition of groups in Oklahoma for a large peaceful protest at Fort Sill on Saturday, July 20, 2019.

This past March, Tsuru for Solidarity, a direct action, nonviolent project of allied organizations within the Japanese American community, gathered in Crystal City, Oklahoma in collaboration with pilgrims from allied national organizations and networks. Crystal City, a former WWII internment camp in Texas, housed over 2,000 persons of Japanese ancestry. The gathering was to protest conditions at the nearby South Texas Family Residential Center in Dilley, Texas. 30,000 tsuru(origami cranes) were strung on the fences surrounding the detention center to demonstrate solidarity with those detained, including unaccompanied children separated from their families.

Last month, the Dept. of Health and Human Services announced that up to 1,400 unaccompanied migrant children would be transferred from Texas to Fort Sill, Oklahoma—another former WWII internment camp that held 700 persons of Japanese ancestry, including 90 Buddhist priests. Tsuru for Solidarity has been invited to participate and a Buddhist memorial service will be part of the day’s events.

Fort Sill, a military site, is a historic concentration camp that was used to imprison indigenous people forcibly removed from their lands. It is a place where native children were forcibly taken from their families and placed in re-education schools. It is a site where over 700 American men from the Japanese American community, including 90 Buddhist monks, were imprisoned during WWII. 

Concentration camps are used to indefinitely detain minority groups in violation of human and civil rights and without due process. Fort Sill is being prepared to once again become a concentration camp. Concentration camps are now being used across the U.S. on a scale not seen since the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans.

It's time for us to reclaim our moral center and our human commitment to one another. 

We are interconnected. What happens to one of us affects all of us. 

Speak out, show up, and get involved.

Please join us in this movement. 

We invite you to get involved by: 

2) FOLDING & SENDING paper cranes
Click here for detailed instructions & a video on how to fold paper cranes.

4) SHARING the message
Click here for more information.


Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Via Lion's Roar / Seeing Beyond the Screen

Seeing Beyond the Screen
Yael Shy on how to bring mindfulness into your digital life.
The key to mindful living “off the cushion” is building in a pause to check in with our intention, our body, and our heart before we reach for our favorite distractions. Nowhere is this more palpable and powerful than in our relationships to our devices. When do you reach for your phone? When do you click on social media sites? How do you feel right before heading to your page on the site? What happens in your mind while scrolling or posting? How do you feel afterward?