Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Via Ram Dass

Ultimately you live simultaneously in all of the planes of consciousness all the time, so that in a way, it’s like a vertical cut up – you look at somebody, they’re there; they’re not there.

There’s an interesting series of stages in Karma Yoga, the yoga of living daily life as an exercise in becoming pungent, where you develop a witness – a place in yourself that watches your whole melodrama, your dance. It doesn’t judge you, it doesn’t try to change you, it’s not trying to become enlightened, it’s just watching the whole thing.

- Ram Dass -

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/31/17

“The truth simply is. There’s nothing to argue with, because it is permanent. It doesn’t change at all, despite the interventions and creations of the mind. When the truth reveals itself, you perceive yourself as satchitananda: absolute existence, awareness and bliss. Therefore, truth is synonymous with the human being’s ultimate reality.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma: Freedom from Who We Think We Are

What gets in the way of this movement toward our authentic self, more than anything, is our insistence on identifying with the small self—preserving our narrow world of being special, of needing to look and feel a particular way.

—Ezra Bayda, “No One Special To Be

Via Sri Prem Baba: What envy is trying to tell you

What envy is trying to tell you: Feelings of inferiority, inadequacy and helplessness are behind envy.

Envy is a force that must be understood.  It is a defense mechanism created to numb the pain we feel when we believe we are inferior to others.  At some point we develop the belief that we are incapable and powerless to achieve certain things. This shock of helplessness was possibly installed in us very early on in life, while still a baby and trying to nurse but couldn’t, either because our mother didn’t have any milk or because the milk was contaminated by hatred, fear, or other manifestations of lovelessness.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Via Impact: A Zen Master's Advice On Coping With Trump

“Trump’s grand and vulgar self-absorption is inviting all of us to examine our own selfishness. His ignorance calls us to attend to our own blind spots. The fears that he stokes and the isolation he promotes goad us to be braver, more generous.” 

- Thich Nhat Hanh

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/30/17

“To free ourselves from fear, we must first throw out all the trash we hold down in the basement of our unconscious. Fear is synonymous with trash in the system. Our minds and our emotions are polluted by beliefs and conditionings based on distorted images from the past. Free yourself from the past, and you will no longer have fear.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma: Don't Bully Yourself

It never works to bully the body, or the heart, into poses it’s not ready to enter.

—Anne Cushman, “The Yoga of Creativity

Monday, May 29, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/29/17

“The divine plan on Planet Earth has two main points. The first is about the awareness of the soul’s purpose: it’s about putting your gifts and talents into service of the something greater. The second is about giving new meaning to relationships - familial relationships and, as a result, the way our whole society functions. These are the main pathways to internal transformation. When these pathways are open, we naturally expand into greater spheres of awareness.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma: Making Our Own Contribution to World Peace

I came to the realization that fighting against the system, at least in my mind, wasn’t working. Somehow I had to recognize that I was a part of the system and the system was a part of me. In the end, I got great satisfaction out of knowing that my little peace might be making a contribution to world peace.

—Ed Winchester, from Tracy Cochran's “The Pentagon Meditation Club

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Via Ram Dass

When we first understand there’s a journey, a path, we tend to get somewhat hysterical. We want to sell it to everybody, change everybody, and whichever path we buy first, we try to convert everybody to it. The zeal is based on our lack of faith, 'cause we’re not sure of what we’re doing, so we figure if we convince everybody else...

But we’re all kind of moving into a new space, we’re sort of finished with the first wild hysteria, and we’re settling down into humdrum process of living out our incarnation as consciously as we know how to do. If in the course it turns out this is your last round to get enlightened, fine. If not, that’s the way it is. Nothing you can do about it.

You can’t bulldoze anybody to beat the system – you are the system. The desire to beat the system is part of it.

- Ram Dass -

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/28/17

“Spirituality is a commitment to the truth. Committing to the truth means committing to the end of illusion. It means committing to the de-identification from all the stories and characters that you have created, and that you now believe are your identity. This commitment is what makes true freedom possible, because freedom means being who you really are.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma: When Things Don't Bring Us Happiness Inbox x

We keep assuming that because things aren’t bringing us happiness, they’re the wrong things, rather than recognizing that the pursuit itself is futile—that regardless of what we achieve in the pursuit of stuff, it’s never going to bring about an enduring state of happiness.

—Daniel Gilbert, “The Pleasure Paradox

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/27/17

“The human being’s greater purpose is to unveil love. For this to take place, we inevitably have to undergo difficult tests in our relationships. These tests require us to learn to deal with our emotions, suppressed feelings, and mental conditionings. We do this until we can free ourselves from our own issues. The less love we received in childhood, the more difficult this test will be for us. This is because the more we missed out on, the more we will fear loneliness, and consequently, the more we will need to control the other.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma: Taking Care of What Is Not Broken

The most comfortable and wisest people are those who watch their health when they are healthy; guard their country when it is untroubled; and cultivate their fields well when weeds are nonexistent or scarce.

—Venerable Chwasan, “The Grace in This World

Via FB:

Friday, May 26, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/26/17

“Our work is to activate our memory in order to access what we already know but have forgotten. Forgetfulness is part of the game on this plane. We forget and remember. We remember and forget. We lose things and find them.
We open and close. This is natural; it’s inevitable. It will continue to happen until we are able to eliminate all contradiction from our systems; until we can attune ourselves to the cosmic symphony and sustain an open heart.
This is the only way to get a one-way ticket to Heaven.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma: Challenging Your Ego

When you challenge ego-mind, be firm but gentle, penetrating but never aggressive. Just say to your ego-mind, “Show me your face!” When no mind shows up saying, “Here I am,” ego-mind will begin to lose its hold on you and your struggles will lighten up.

—Dzigar Kongtrul, “Searching for Self

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Those who dance...

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/25/17

“Our work is to open paths to a new way of life that includes love, respect, kindness and honesty. We propose a true revolution of human consciousness - a change in global culture that, in essence, represents the transition from fear to trust, from hatred to love, from selfishness to altruism and from a state of separation to a state of union.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma: Embracing Difference

Diversity strengthens us. Diversity is not something to be tolerated—it is to be celebrated. We should welcome it with curiosity, delight, and joy. This is what fear fears.

—Gyalwang Drukpa, “How to Combat Fear

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/24/17

We need to be the change we want to see in the world."

This means that the work starts here, inside of us. But how can we promote internal change without self-knowledge? How can we transform the world if we still cannot understand the mechanics of the mind and the ego? In the first place, we need to understand that we are where we have put ourselves - that the external is a reflection of the internal. Whether it’s happening in our own homes or elsewhere on the planet, everything that happens in our lives is a manifestation - a materialization - of our thoughts and feelings.
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma: We're All in the Same Boat

We’re all in the same boat. I don’t know how to save the world, yet I must save the world. I don’t know how to save myself, yet I must save myself. I don’t know where my soul resides, yet I must discover my soul because I live within it.

—Josh Fox, “What Makes Humanity Worth Saving

Via Ram Dass

When you look at another person, what do you see? Body? That’s desire. What do you see? Personality? …That’s attachment.

Beyond body, beyond personality, way back in here, way back behind all the things you think you are, here we are. That’s the being you serve.

- Ram Dass -

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/23/17

“Self-knowledge needs to be offered on a large scale because it is the only way out for the human race in this moment where we are on the brink of collapse.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharam / Confidence in Our Basic Nature

Letting go of incessantly measuring and comparing ourselves to others leads to spontaneous acts of courage and compassion. It’s like learning a dance step well enough that we no longer need to keep looking down at our feet.

—Gaylon Ferguson, “Natural Bravery

Monday, May 22, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/22/17

“It is natural that the masculine searches for the feminine and vice versa. Eros is the aspect of human consciousness that seeks this fusion. It is the force that moves us in the direction of the experience of union through the meeting of these polarities. This happens when the masculine and feminine principles unite inside of us. However, often before being able to achieve this inner alchemy, we need to stop looking outside to the other and look within.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Suffering Makes Way for Joy

Our suffering is not our enemy. It is only through a relationship with my pain, my sadness, that I can truly know and touch the opposite—my pleasure, my joy, and my happiness.

—Claude AnShin Thomas, “Conceptions of Happiness

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/19/17

“It is not possible to control the process of the expansion of consciousness. It is a flowering. We can plant the seed but it is not possible to determine when it will sprout, flower and bare fruit. We do our part without being concerned with the result. We keep the seed nourished through spiritual practices and by the cultivation of silence, and we focus on the present moment. Everything we need flourishes from presence. In the here and now exists the possibility of a miracle.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / The Best Spiritual Teacher

The best spiritual teacher is to challenge your weaknesses.

—Atisha, “Your Best

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/20/17

“When the mind becomes quiet, regardless of the situation, we are able to see the divine game acting behind even the most destructive distortions. We see that the shadow and light are two aspects, or two sides of the same coin. We are able to see the relation between cause and effect in life’s circumstances.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Telling New Stories

To see stories as the problem is to blame the victim. Instead of getting rid of stories one can liberate them: storying more flexibly, according to the situation.

—David Loy, as quoted in Daisy Hernández' “A Second Arrow Story

Via Ram Dass

The spiritual journey is individual, highly personal. It can't be organized or regulated. It isn't true that everyone should follow one path. Listen to your own truth.

Ram Dass

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/21/17

“We are compulsively trying to find something outside of ourselves to fill the emptiness that lies within. Many times, when we are with someone, we are not able to relax and dive deeply into the mysteries of relating, of love and of union, precisely because we are so addicted to looking outside.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / A Healthy Body Image

The more you can free yourself from your internalization of the gaze of others, the more liberated you feel.

—Thanissaro Bhikkhu, “Under Your Skin

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Via Lion's Roar / Healthy Desire: A Buddhist’s View of Mindfulness & Sex

Buddhist practitioner Ray Buckner shares how bringing mindfulness into sex helps us develop a healthier relationship with both ourselves and our partner, and deepens our connection between mind and body.

Eyes wide, out of breath, I remember my exact words. Spoken slowly and softly, I said, “Wow. That was literally the most amazing experience I have ever had in my entire life.” And I meant it.

My body completely still, struck by the awe of the moment, I looked at her. My eyes met her eyes. My smile met her smile. Our love and care met right there in that moment. It was one of my most present experiences. My mind was nowhere else but in my body with me, and in the room with her. It was, simply, a moment of mindfulness.

We don’t often ponder “mindfulness” and have “sex” arise as the next natural association. And yet, the two go hand in hand.

How so?

Let’s assume we all know what sex is (although it is often differently defined by hetero/cisgender men and women, queers, and trans-folks) and instead move on to some basic aspects of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is about bringing a certain quiet attention to your lived experience. It’s about being right there with what you are experiencing, touching your experience as intimately as possible, without judgment or blame.

In a moment of mindfulness, your mind is connected with your body. Your thoughts are not elsewhere but are right there in the present moment. Effectively, mind and body are one.

In many ways, it is only natural for sex and mindfulness to, well, come together. When we are engaging in sex our body is, essentially, awakening to a multitude of arising sensations.
Mindfulness during sex does not always mean experiencing euphoria. Sometimes, it means getting in touch with painful sensations like fear, self-hatred, and confusion.
“Awakening” here does not always refer to sensations. Sometimes, aliveness is in the dullness, the numbness, the lack of feeling arising in one’s body. For example, when my body is touched, it may experience joy and excitement, or a sense of tightness. It may be at ease and wanting more, or it may be numbing, closing down and developing a sense that something is wrong or off. Finally, my mind may be in the present moment, or it may be pulling away to traumatic memories.

So, mindfulness during sex does not always mean experiencing euphoria (as is the case with my experience described above). Sometimes, it means getting in touch with painful sensations like fear, self-hatred, and confusion. This can be difficult, but is important in fostering a healthy relationship with oneself and crucial communication with another.

Why is this so important? Why do we need to pay attention to these inner voices of suffering and joy? The answer lies, in part, in understanding the jewels of impermanence and non-self.
  • Impermanence shows us that no two moments are the same; the sensations, emotions, ideas, and relationships that arise and play out are always already in flux. None of these are pre-determined, set, or stable; all are moving and impermanent.
  • Non-self teaches us that because all realms and sensations are changing, there is nothing inherent or stable to our very being.
When our “self” makes contact with another’s, this contact will have an impact—on us and the people we’re with. The two forms of contact are intrinsically connected. Contact between our own mind and body are connected as well: the body cannot function without the mind and the mind cannot function without the body. The two inter-are, actively affecting and changing one another. My body tenses during sex, and so does my mind. My mind feels fear during sex, and so does my body. Such is dependent arising: “this is because that is.” To try to separate the sensations of the mind and body leads to suffering and ultimately disconnection from the knowing wisdom of this interconnected self.

And yet, during sex—a time when you really want to be in touch with what arising in the mind and body—an unfortunate and dangerous disconnection can take place. The mind tries to disconnect from the body and the body loses its crucial connection with the mind.

This disconnection may be partly, if not largely, due to societal norms about sex and gender. Society has taught us (particularly women and queers) that we need to act and perform in particular ways during sex. While the pleasure of one partner may be deemed important, the pleasure of another may be silenced or ignored. In my own life, when feelings of fear or confusion have arisen, people have sometimes used these moments to ridicule or shame me. My reservations were “difficult,” “a pain,” or the workings of someone too young to know what they wanted or needed. We learn to silence negative sensations in order to avoid shame and physical and sexual violence toward our bodies and minds. In addition, we fear that to speak could mean touching the reality that our bodily and spiritual desires will be ignored, demeaned, or used against us in the face of our expressed yearning.
We need to find a way to return to our body and mind, to softly touch our experience and allow communication to blossom again.
While sex should be a space of impermanence that allows (and encourages!) the infinite arising of sensations, we instead are forced to function in a limited space in which our bodies and our minds perform happily and simply without sadness, or fear, or confusion. Though a sense of permanence during sex is limiting, it can take hold and imprison our mind and body.

We need to find a way to return to our body and mind, to softly touch our experience and allow communication to blossom again.

The key is to listen closely to whatever arises, and meet these sensations with kindness. If we can take the time to listen, openness and clarity will soon arise, leading to greater joy and happiness.
I have practiced this myself. A previous partner and I were having sex. We were both very turned on and I said something seductive. She said something back to the effect of, “Stop speaking.”

Immediately something shifted. I went from aroused to turned off, scared, and upset. I felt like I did something wrong, that my voice was ugly, that I ruined the moment, and that I was unwanted. But applying mindfulness helped me recognize the anxiety in my chest, the deep sensation that something was wrong, and that I was distraught.
Bringing mindfulness to sex is a brilliant way to deepen the connections between mind and body, self and other.
I also could quickly recognize where these sensations hailed from. I’d once had an abusive partner who shushed me or scolded me, or ordered me not to speak, if I made sounds during sex. No wonder, then, that sensations of fear and shame arose with my more recent partner.

Seeing clearly the origins of my troubled feelings, I was now able to stop and articulate my experience of panic to my partner in the moment. She apologized and clarified what she meant by her words — simply, that my voice turned her on and she playfully could not handle any more of that! We were back to feeling excited, present, and in touch with one another.

Bringing mindfulness to sex is a brilliant way to deepen the connections between mind and body, self and other, and to transform moments of pain and trauma into experiences of understanding, kindness, and connection.

To read the original and more make the jump here

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/17/17

“Fear of loneliness, just like any other fear, is but a ghost. It is the fear of something that doesn’t exist in the present moment, even though we may have actually experienced it in the past. Deep down, we fear to relive the pain of abandonment  that we suffered in our past. This pain is recorded in our system and causes this fear. To free ourselves from this fear, we need to first free ourselves from this pain. In this case, we may need to come into contact, yet again, with our abandonment wounds of the past. We may need to find the core of pain and stay present within it. Once we are able to do this, we will see that this fear is just a reaction to the residue of this memory.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Making Amends after Mistakes

To repent is not to feel remorse, but to face one’s faults, realizing they are faults, and try one’s best not to make the same mistake again. If one does that, one is already making amends.

—Master Sheng-Yen, “How To Be Faultless

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/16/17

“Separation is a dream. It is an aspect of illusion. Be careful not to fall into this trap, or the trap that lies beyond it - of judgment and comparison. These are creations of the mind. When we become silent and meditative, we become aware of the interdependence that exists between all things in life. Everything becomes sacred. When we have a pure mind, purity is all we see, and we see it in everything.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / A Buddhist Teaching in a Cup of Tea

In a way, a perfect cup of tea is a miracle of causes and conditions, and when one meets our lips, we should give praise.

—Noa Jones, “A Perfect Cup of Tea

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/15/17

“Love is the cure for all evil. Only love can cure the ancestral wounds that we carry. Forgiveness, friendship, trust, freedom, gratitude, honesty and respect are some of the diverse dimensions of love that act as miraculous, spiritual remedies. These are the ingredients that make up the elixir of love.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Life Is an Awkward Struggle

I suspect there will never be answers. Instead, there will be only the awkwardness of the struggle—and perhaps the struggle is a sublime kind of grace in itself, which merely disguises itself as awkwardness.

—Rick Bass, “Bonfire

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Via Ram Dass

I’m allowing myself more and more to trust my intuitive wisdom rather than my analytic mind as to how I should proceed. Because the more analytical mind can’t really handle the complexity of the situation so you go from moment to moment just listening...
- Ram Dass

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/14/17

“The mother represents a spiritual portal. Through this maternal portal, the mysteries of existence are revealed to us. As we understand and integrate the aspects related to the mother in the personal sphere, we evolve to experience the greater reality of feminine power, the Universal Mother, which frees us from all fears and attachments.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Honoring Your Mother(s)

All sentient beings have at one time been your mother—birthing you, nursing you, caring for you through a helpless stage of life. Imagine this and generate appreciation and goodwill for all sentient beings, whether they cut you off in traffic, compliment your smile, or walk past you without a glance.

—A Tibetan teaching recounted in Sarah Aceto’s, “As If I Were Your Mother

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Via Daily Dharma / What You Can Learn from a Toothache

When I have a toothache, I discover that not having a toothache is a wonderful thing. That is peace. I had to have a toothache in order to be enlightened, to know that not having one is wonderful.

—Thich Nhat Hanh in Pamela Gayle White’s, “Skunked by Gratitude

Friday, May 12, 2017

Via Daily Dharma / Learning to See Clearly

The practice of bearing witness is to see all of the aspects of a situation including your attachments and judgments...  When you bear witness you open to the uniqueness of whatever is arising and meet it just as it is.

—Wendy Egyoku Nakao Roshi, “Hold to the Center!

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Via Departures / 10 Labyrinths Worth Exploring

Mythical, historical and altogether intriguing, these far-flung mazes are journeys in and of themselves.
The wonder of travel lies equally with adventure and misadventure—there is nothing like getting thoroughly lost in a riddling country or culture that is not your own. But it is hard these days, with our ultra-planned excursions, fixers and 4G service, to get properly disoriented. Labyrinths, however, can remind us how it's done.

These mazes have appeared in various corners of the world throughout history. One can be found in a petroglyph on a river shore in Goa, India; cut into the stones of Ireland's many medieval churches; and arranged in a contemporary land-art installation at Lands End in San Francisco. Traditionally, they kept evil in and invaders out. They have been used as pleasure walks, meditative journeys and symbolic life-into-death pilgrimages.

Classical thinkers Herodotus, Pliny and Strabo each praised the Egyptian maze of Middle Kingdom that Pharaoh Amenemhat III constructed in the 19th century B.C. to protect his Hawara tomb. (Strabo called it a wonder of the world.) Before taking to the high seas, Scandinavian sailors built stone labyrinths to trap sinister winds that might follow them. Daedalus famously used one to trap a minotaur.

Literary figures also embraced the labyrinth. Argentinian writer Jorge Luis Borges's peculiar love of them is well known—he wrote once of gods who lived in them, encircled by forking paths. Lesser known is Jane Austen's affinity, particularly for the large rambling hedge maze at Sydney Garden in Bath, England (since gone), where she wished to walk every day.

Proust once wrote, "The only true voyage of discovery...would be not to visit strange lands but to possess other eyes, to behold the universe through the eyes of another." That heightened sense isn't developed so much by traveling the world as by remembering to focus on where we stand. And the wonder of unexpected encounters, the anticipation of what might lie around the next corner, is a charm of labyrinths of all kinds, from the underground city of Derinkuyu in Cappadocia, Turkey, to the overhanging gardens of Marqueyssac in Périgord, France.

Via Goodman Project: 5 Honest Questions to Ask Yourself About Being Good

Author Jay Cradeur poses questions he asks himself and which every man might ask himself to stay true to his masculine path.

I have been in hundreds of men’s groups and men’s weekend events, sitting in a sacred circle, asking this tough question. My answer and your answer are a good indicator, akin to taking your masculine temperature, of how things are going. Note to women: the majority of men do not feel very good about themselves as a man in the world today. If we men are honest, we fall short. If we did not fall short somewhere, our lives would not be very interesting. We men like projects. We like to have a goal toward which we can march . We men may be confused by our dual and seemingly incompatible roles of being strong and being sensitive at the same time. We are challenged by the demands of family and work, and very often mired in self doubt and fear. Are we living up to our own expectations?  Can we?

These are questions I struggle with and thought, what the hell, why not share these with the world? That is a big “gulp” moment, but such is the life of an author. Remain vulnerable and humble and grateful.
I offer 5 questions I ask myself. These are on my wall and I see them every day. I find it helps me to get a bearing on my life path. There are no right or wrong answers. Like meditation, all there is to do is observe what comes up. If something is triggered, then you may chose to take some actions to rectify that which is at issue. These are questions I struggle with and thought, what the hell, why not share these with the world? That is a big “gulp” moment, but such is the life of an author. Remain vulnerable and humble and grateful.  On to the questions.

Am I an honest man?

“If you tell the truth you don’t have to remember anything” – Mark Twain
Let’s jump beyond the obvious forms of dishonesty such as an affair or material theft. The real question for me is, do I tell the truth? When it comes to telling the truth, I admit that I am a liar to myself. I tend to tell myself things are better than they really are. I tend to be dishonest when it comes to assessing and taking action to resolve problems that come up in my life. Rather than address key challenges head on, I push them to the side until they reach crisis mode. This is a subtle, yet pernicious form of lying.

My internal lying shows up in the way that I appear ungrounded. I don’t carry a certain weight. That makes me a lightweight. I am not a solid man. I am inauthentic.
Here is the ridiculous thing I observe about lying to myself.   For a long time, I actually thought I was fooling everyone around me! I have come to realize everyone close to me can see when I lie to myself. My internal lying shows up in the way that I appear ungrounded. I don’t carry a certain weight. That makes me a lightweight. I am not a solid man. I am inauthentic. I appear to be a bit of a con artist. I suffer from imposter syndrome.   This all leads to a lack of trust in myself, which bleeds out to everyone in my life. Are you honest?

Am I trustable?

“Just trust yourself, then you will know how to live.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe

Clearly, if I cannot be honest with myself, how can anybody trust me? In social situations, I am trustable. I can show up on time. I can share my honest opinions. I can do what I say I will do. However, when the going gets tough, those close to me do not feel confident that I can truly, no bullshit, be counted on. In our men’s group, we often discussed the scenario of being in a war during a firefight with two men, literally back to back, with life on the line. 

Can you trust your brother to have your back? Can you trust yourself to have your brother’s back? This is a serious question. Are you the man who will stand in the fire and endure the heat, or will you throw in your cards and walk away?

“When the shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay.”
There is a great scene of Al Pacino in The Scent of a Woman (video link below) in which he expands upon this.   “When the shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay.” When you made the commitment to love her till death do you part, was that a conditional promise in your mind, based on your wife being a certain way? What if things change, as they often do? How much can your woman share of herself and trust that you will stick around? Are you trustable?

Am I taking full responsibility for my life?

“If it’s never our fault, we can’t take responsibility for it. If we can’t take responsibility for it, we’ll always be its victim.” — Richard Bach

Do you realize all your emotions, thoughts and feelings are your own? When your woman says that thing (and we all have that thing, don’t we?) that sets you off, are you willing to sit with the feelings, and accept them as your own? Are you going to deal with the issue internally rather than blaming someone else? During men’s group sessions, men often rail against their wives or girlfriends or partners. A man may say, “She told me __________, and that really pissed me off. And then she did this ______________ and I was even more livid!” At this point, I tell the man to stay with the feelings, and forget about her. She is not the issue. She is the catalyst (and a wonderful teacher), but all the feelings are our own to manage and process. This is a tough lesson, and it usually takes hold for just a few minutes, for ours is a culture of blame. Do you blame someone else for your feelings and emotions?  Are you still blaming your parents? I ask myself, am I a responsible adult male who accepts that all the stuff that gets stirred up within is my own? In fact, it is the source of my greatest moments of awakening.  Am I truly responsible?

Am I a solid provider?

“What does a man do Walter? A man provides for his family.
And a man, a man provides. And he does it even when he’s not appreciated, or respected, or even loved. He simply bears up and he does it. Because he’s a man.” — Gus Fring, Breaking Bad.

This is a tough question for most men that I know. It is the toughest question for me. I have earned great sums of money in my life, but I have also spent great sums of money. I am not a solid provider. 

The answer to this question is also a strong indicator of your capacity to be a good husband and a good father? Are you? When your child asks for financial assistance, are you there for him or her? If your good friend in Madagascar needs your presence, can you drop everything, jump on a plan, and spend some time with him in his dire moment of need? When you retire, will you and your partner be set for life? Does your partner live with financial stress? Does she live with the burden of your shortcomings? Are you solid like a brick house? Or are you financially shaky like a house of cards?

In most relationships, providing is the man’s job. Chris Rock presents a great comedy skit about this exact scenario.  He shares how nobody seems to appreciate the man for providing. “Nobody ever says, Thanks Daddy for knocking out the rent!” (Video link below).  It is a great 3 minutes of comedy and truth.   It is our job to provide. Are you doing your job? Are you a solid provider?

Am I a man of knowledge?

“A man goes to knowledge as he goes to war: wide-awake, with fear, with respect, and with absolute assurance. Going to knowledge or going to war in any other manner is a mistake, and whoever makes it might never live to regret it” — Carlos Castaneda, The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge

I have observed that the greatest men in my life, and the greatest men I have admired through their words, all have a powerful unquenchable desire to learn more about themselves and about all human beings. Naturally as a writer, most of my heroes are authors. 

These men like Thoreau and Whitman lived with a few seminal questions: What does it mean to be a human being? What exactly is this experience on Earth? Why am I here? Who am I? What is a right and honorable way to live?

When you come to the end of your days, will you look back and marvel at how far you have come, or will you instead wonder where the time went? Are you a man of knowledge?
I have found meditation, group workshops, writing, reading, interaction with the feminine, and my close male relationships are all sources of greater awareness and self-knowledge. Women can tell the difference between a man of depth and a man just piddling about in life. What is your big picture path? Do you have one? When you come to the end of your days, will you look back and marvel at how far you have come, or will you instead wonder where the time went? Are you a man of knowledge?

These are my questions. I share them with you. I invite you to live within the question. How do you fare? As I ask these questions, I am guided to keep striving forward, making tweaks in my life as I see necessary.  I once heard Werner Erhard call this trim tabbing, making small adjustments, or iterations in life, and over time, great things are accomplished. I hope you experienced some value from these questions, and find some areas that you might trim tab as well. Finally, I invite you to be gentle with yourself. These questions are not designed to make you feel bad or shameful or guilty. If you find an area that resonates as an area for improvement, it is a time to be grateful for such a huge opportunity in your life.  You would not be reading this article unless you wanted some little piece of wisdom. Reading an article on this website is a good sign that you are on your way, as we all are, to being good and honorable men!

Via FB:

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/11/17

“How would your life be without fear? To live without fear is a great goal; to live without the fear of scarcity, abandonment, betrayal, humiliation, being alone, losing one’s job, death, etc. To live without fear is to be free. Freedom is to live without fear.”
Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / Awakening Takes Work

We do have the potential to awaken, but we must do the hard work of distinguishing when we are motivated by greed, hatred, and delusion, and when we are motivated by their opposites—generosity, kindness, and wisdom.

—Lynn Kelly, “First Thought, Worst Thought

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Via Ram Dass

It’s only when caterpillarness is done that one becomes a butterfly. That again is part of this paradox. You cannot rip away caterpillarness. The whole trip occurs in an unfolding process of which we have no control.

- Ram Dass

Via Sri Prem Baba – Awaken Love / Flower of the Day: 05/10/17


Via Daily Dharma / Accepting Pain Can Help You Grow

Acceptance often means fully acknowledging just how much pain we may be feeling at a given moment, which inevitably leads to greater empowerment and creative change.

—Christopher K. Germer, “Getting Along

Tuesday, May 9, 2017

CRANE SONG - Tenzin Choegyal. Filmed in LEH Ladakh

Via Lion's Roar / Buddhist Visualization Practice Is Pure, Clear, and Vibrant

Art by Lama Sherab Gyatso.

Visualization practice sometimes involves traditional symbolism that Westerners have trouble relating to, says Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. He shows us how we can make the most of this powerful method for transforming perception.

The technique of visualization is employed throughout the Vajrayana practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Its use of our imagination makes it quite different from other meditations, such as shamatha, or calm abiding. Imagination also plays a major part in our deluded experience of life. Everything we encounter and perceive in our daily life is a product of our imagination, but because we believe in the illusions we create, they become such deeply rooted mental habits that we completely forget they are little more than fantasy. The imagination is therefore one of our most powerful tools, and working with it by changing the ways we look at our world is what we call the practice of visualization.
One small problem for beginners is that the English word visualization can be misleading. Most people think visualization means focusing on an image and then holding it in their mind’s eye. But physical appearance is only one element of visualization practice, and by no means the whole story. 

Peoples’ attitudes and understanding change according to their situations and education. Until very recently, Buddhist masters brought up in Tibet would have looked on salad and green vegetables as animal fodder and would never have willingly eaten it themselves. Now that Tibetans have become familiar with food outside of Tibet, their attitudes have changed, and it is precisely this kind of shift in our perception that we work with in our visualization, which is also called “creation meditation.”

Another example of the way we adapt our attitudes to situations can be found on the World Wide Web. Most erotic pictures are usually quite small—certainly nowhere near life-size. Logically, it is hard to believe that such tiny images could cause living, breathing human beings to become aroused, but they do. Our habits are so entrenched that, having programmed ourselves to respond to a specific kind of image, it will consistently have the power to turn us on or make us angry, sad, or even depressed, even when we see it on a tiny YouTube screen. To a certain extent, this is how visualization works, and neither size nor so-called realism have anything to do with it.

Were you to tell a worldly friend that everything we see around us—the houses, cars, trees, and shops—does not truly exist as we believe we see it, he would most likely think you had finally lost it. 

Yet, according to Vajrayana theory, your perception of this world is unique; it is not seen or experienced in the same way by anyone else because what you see does not exist externally. Vajrayana students who were born and brought up in the modern world often have dif­ficulties with visualization practice. Part of the problem, I think, is that Tibetan teachers like myself assume all sentient beings process things the same way Tibetans do. We teach you to picture the Buddha the way he is traditionally depicted in Tibet, adorned with ornaments that are valued by Tibetans and convey specific mean­ings to them. But becoming a perfect Tibetan iconographer is not the point of visualization practice. 

The main purpose of visualization practice is to purify our ordinary, impure perception of the phenomenal world by developing “pure perception.” Unfortunately, though, pure per­ception is yet another notion that tends to be misunderstood. Students often try to re-create a photographic image of a Tibetan painting in their mind, with two-dimensional deities who never blink, surrounded by clouds frozen in space, and with consorts who look like grown-up babies. Practicing this erroneous version of visualization instills in you a far worse form of perception than the one you were born with, and in the process the whole point of pure perception is destroyed.

What, then, is really meant by the terms pure perception and impure perception? “Impure” does not mean that the object of our visualization is covered with dirt or is polluted or defiled in any way; the impurity isn’t “out there.” “Impure,” in this context, means that the problem is “in here”—that is, we look at the world through emotional filters that we label “desire,” “jeal­ousy,” “pride,” “ignorance,” and “aggression.” Everything we perceive is colored by myriad variations of these five emotions. For example, imagine you go to a party, and as you glance at someone you find attractive, your passion filter quickly clicks into place and you immediately label that person “desirable.” If someone else gets in the way, your aggression filter is activated and you label this other person “hideous.” As the evening wears on, other people provoke your insecurities, causing you to sit in judgment of them, make comparisons, defend your choices, and bolster your personal pride by denigrating others—all of which is triggered by the filter of profound ignorance. And the list goes on and on.

These different perceptions arise in our very own mind and are then filtered through our emo­tions. In fact, everything we experience, big and small, will always lead to disappointment because we perpetually forget that everything we perceive is a product of our own mind. Instead, we fixate on perceptions “out there” that we are convinced truly exist. This dynamic is what we work with in the Vajrayana practice of visualization.

It’s all a matter of training the mind. One of the many methods offered within the three yanas of the Mahayana teachings is that of the Shravakayana, the “path of the listener.” In the Shravakayana, the student relinquishes clinging to “self” by disciplining body and speech using particular methods—for example, shaving the head, begging for alms, wearing saffron-colored robes, and refraining from worldly activities like getting married or having sex. Training the mind in the Bodhisattvayana is also about practicing discipline in body and speech as well as meditat­ing on compassion, arousing bodhichitta, and so on. Lastly, the Vajrayana not only trains the mind through discipline and meditation on compas­sion, but it also offers methods for transforming our impure perception into pure perception.