#345 Humility: a hidden force towards equanimity Dec. 2 20

 Humility: one of our hidden force towards equanimity

 The following talk sounds distant from Zen philosophy, but stay tuned to the end.

Suppose you are at a job interview with the HR recruiter, and she/he is asking the following: “ What is one of your best qualities?”… and, after a short pause, you answered: “ Humility.” At this point, you probably just killed any hope of getting the job, regardless of your CV and experience.

Humility is a ‘no go’ in our Western rat-race world, especially in business. Its meanings carry negativity, such as docility, low self-esteem, meekness, resignation, inferiority complex, lack of pride and ambition, and so on.

In fact, based on the recent psychological research, being humble simply means to have the ability to accurately assess our deficiencies without denying our strengths and skills. Knowing what we don’t know is true knowledge — a kind of intellectual wisdom.

On the other hand, having this constant delusion of knowing a lot is, besides being arrogant, a trait of genuine ignorance,

To be humble is to be attentive and disposed to our own limitations, weaknesses, and mistakes.

A humble person does not ignore, avoid, or try to deny her/his limits or deficiencies.

On the contrary, if you’re humble, you do not carry a load of negative qualities, overconfidence, judgmental and patronizing behavior, etc….; all of them are traps in which we are stuck.

True humility is not thinking less of ourselves, it is thinking less of what we think! Learning from others is also an excellent trait of not only humility but also true self-confidence.

A mistake, that makes you humble, has far more positive impacts than any achievement that makes you proud and even overconfident.

 When we come to the point where we have no need to impress anyone, our freedom and equanimity rise. The social and professional consequences of humility are obvious, i.e., the link between humility triggering forgiveness. Humility appears to be a great asset to sentimental, social, and professional relationships.

It’s also found that someone who is more humble is more likely to:

1) Initiate a long-term, romantic relationship, perhaps, because they’re less likely to see themselves as ‘too good’ for someone else.

2) Better listener,

2) Less judgmental.

3) Less intimidating,

4) Forgive more easily; the ability to forgive is very important because pain is an inevitable part of any social and professional relationships.  

We mess up often. Saying something we don’t mean, being inconsiderate or forgetting an important event. So, when looking for a partner, it is a good idea to find someone who recognizes that making mistakes is part of being human. 

Where Zen fits into all of this?

One of the key teachings of Zen is the practice of “Don’t know mind.” Initially understood as practicing ‘being ignorant” the meaning is exactly the opposite: it means to have an open and receptive mind rather than having a mind-set on everything.

Believing that we know a lot can be a great source of bitter delusions and restless minds whereas accepting “not knowing or open mind” brings serenity.   

Thank you.

#344: Start with the end in mind ….by Gaurav Dec. 20th 20

Start with the end in mind…

So what happens in the end? We become dirt. We may be buried, cremated, or as in the case of Zoroastrianism left to be fed to birds of prey and then become bird poop. Either way, the end is dirt. So why are we, the walking pile of ‘eventual’ dirt, so consumed by our individuality. We will mix in with the same dirt like everyone else. Yet we stress our importance and our insecurities like we are at the center of the universe! It is quite something. If we start to look at not just our problems but also simple joys with this lens we will see that what ‘matters’ to us doesn’t really matter in the grand scheme of things. Our attachment to our physicality, mental problems, and material possessions lead to much sorrow but to what end.

But knowing this isn’t enough of course. There is an entire life to be lived until…well when we become dirt. But in another sense, it is over in a blink. The key is to regularly meditate on the end…to remember the temporariness of it all. No matter who we are this one single truth cannot be denied or ignored. Too often out of fear we shy away from this topic but focusing on the end can be very therapeutic. It may sound daunting but when done regularly it will not depress but bring you the kind of liberation and peace that is hard to describe in words. Bhutan is considered one of the ‘happiest’ places in the world by several measures but the reality is that Bhutanese peoples train to meditate on death from very early on in their lives.

We want to admit it or not, choose to see it or not, the end is coming. We can hide or prepare by focusing on it regularly. The concept to embrace here is that there is life after death…not necessarily in the context of reincarnation but the fact that consciousness survives and as much as we will become dirt we will facilitate life after we are gone. Our physical individuality will merge with the very elements it was created from.

Thank you


#343 A Winning mind Dec.13th 20

Wanting to be happier

Wanting to be happier is a universal daily expectation.

The scientific study of happiness called positive psychology has mushroomed over the last two decades. Major research institutions have taken on provoking search into the joy of joy, with surprising results. Here are few:

Researchers from UK used MRI, heart-rate monitors and blood levels of several hormones and neuropeotides as biomarkers to analyze what they called “mood-boosting triggers”. Using different stimulus on 600 adult participants, they were assessing the degree of happiness or pleasure generated. Among all possible triggers, one came above all the time:

What was this magic stimulus?

A smile.

Maybe this why smiling is an ongoing trait of all of my Zen teachers.

Smiling, involving 43 muscles has truly remarkable biological-related positive emotional effects.

It actually makes you feel good for a short duration even if you’re not feeling good in the moment.

A 2009 fMRI study in Munich demonstrated conclusively that the brain’s happiness circuitry is activated when you smile (regardless of your current mood). If you’re down, smiling actually prompts your brain to produce feel-good hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin for a short period of time.

Smiling is also a predictor of longevity.

In a 2010 out of Wayne State University, researchers looked at Major League baseball players.

They found that the frequency, duration of a player’s smile, and frequency intensity of laughing actually increase lifespan, all things being considered statistically.

A 30-year longitudinal study out of UC Berkeley examined the smiles of students with spooky results. Students’ smiling attitude  turned out to be accurate predictors of:

1)  High their standardized psychometric tests of well-being.

2)  How inspiring they are to others.

3)  How fulfilling their sentimental life will be.

Research also demonstrates that when we smile, we look better to others and make them more relaxed. Not only are we perceived as more likable and courteous, but those who benefit from our sunny face actually see us as more competent.

Finally these weird statistics.:

     Young children, especially below 5 crack a smile around 400/day.

     Around 30% of us smile over 20 times a day.

     Under 14% of adults smile fewer than 5 times a day.

Smiling consciously or even laughing on a regular basis and without a specific reason is a difficult skill to learn and practice.

Our society, especially in our working environment, is expecting us to look serious and in deep thoughts.

However, smiling will make us feeling good, making us looking good, and will get us to better. interpersonal skills and relationships.

Smiling once a while will not fix our mood 24/7 but it is better than the doom and gloom of a frozen face.

Thank you.

#342 Controlling anger Dec. 6 20

Controlling anger

Anger is an emotional involuntary reflex mostly ego-driven. Its onset is impossible to prevent.

This destructive emotion is very hard to control because it takes over our rational thinking, pushing us into further detrimental consequences.

Whatever its sources and they are many, anger is affecting not only you and me but also people around us.

At its onset, we behave like a volcano projecting tons of hot larva and toxic gases around.

Anger makes us radioactive to others because, when the damage is done there is no return point.

It will remain anchor in the mind of others whatever how they try to forgive you.

So, what to do?  

1) During acute blast of anger:

   a) To pay attention to it and look at its triggers. Without this phase, you will remain prisoner of it.

   b) Then channel your angry energy into constructive and helpful actions.

       For example: Leave the room, go for a walk, do something constructive to burn of your negative energy.

2) During ongoing chronic state of anger:

     a) Change your anger habit to achieve a long-term constructive approach:

         We spend a consistent amount of time being angry about this and that. It may become a sort of addiction

         The best way is to write down in an “anger diary”. Analyze your anger: triggers, frequency duration. Once you get a sense of how much time of your life you spend angry, you can work on its frequency and duration. It is like quitting smoking because chronic anger can be, again an addiction.

     b) Paying attention to your anger-triggers is key:

         As you become more familiar with the anger-triggers you will be able to see them coming and make an effort to respond differently. You learn how you get angry and become curious about how it arises and how to cool down.

        When becoming angry becomes an habit, it will overrides all subtle emotions causing anger.

        Anger often arises from feelings of anxiety, helplessness, frustration or jealousy.

        As you are approaching your anger with awareness, you will get better at feeling these more emotions.

3) As mentioned previously, the other victims of your anger are people around you:

   Unloading your anger at people is like emitting radioactivity.

   Self-defense and counter-anger measures arise from them as they try to protect themselves from your radioactive blast.

   Remember the anger creates suffering not only for you but also for others. The consequence is often irreversible for life.

To summarize:

What triggers anger is mostly ego-driven and multifactorial such as:

Unsatisfied desires, hatred, illusions, regrets of the past, anxiety of the future, people, circumstances  and many other negative feelings can or will trigger anger.

Learning to be detached from the triggers and paying attention to our anger are keys.

Remember that you are the one pulling that trigger and when the bullet is fired you cannot retrieve it.

Thank you