#349 How the ego intellectualizes existence by Angela May 30 21

                               How the ego intellectualizes existence  Angela

I am struggling with the contrast between the roles that I perform, the clinging and aversion that are attached to these roles, and the desire to be free of it all.  I know that my roles are just social constructs and are not “real” but as a mother, spouse, friend, family member, community citizen and manager of two hospital programs in the middle of wave 3 of this ongoing pandemic I can’t help but feel that these roles are important.  They help guide my priorities, mainly towards investing my time in the service of others, which I feel allows me to contribute to the world around me in meaningful and tangible ways.  Through my meditation practice I have learned that these are labels, not real, and often it’s my ego that is attached to thinking about myself in these terms.  But without these roles who/what am I?  Or maybe it doesn’t matter?  Maybe these types of questions are my ego’s way of distracting from the point – the ego’s way of intellectualizing my existence.  The point is, I am, and I am not, any of these things.   These labels are based on my understanding of past events or projection of my actions into the future, and are not based on what is happening in the now.  I think perhaps the way to think about it is, who I am in this world is more connected to what I am doing at any given moment and how my senses are interacting with the world around me, rather than how my mind or ego is thinking about it. 

My comments

This excellent Dharma talk from Angela is touching the root of Zen:

Indeed, our society is like a play in which each of us is acting in many roles at the same time and in different settings such as family, friends and work.

This is how most of us see herself or himself, and how the society perceives each

us interacting within.

As Angela pointed out well: are these societal acting roles are the real me, that is my genuine entity?

For most people, the answer is yes: we are a separate, independent, unique biological and social body-mind entity who comes and goes.

For few, we are more than this reductionist materialistic description. Our genuine self has nothing to do with its materialistic role-playing description.

It is not just an useless philosophical /metaphysical question but a very practical one:

When you realize that you are more than what you think you are that just a material being, serenity is around the corner.

This is the basics of the Koan “ What/Who am I”? that Zen student have to solve before

the teacher.

#348 Why boredom is exciting May 22 21

            Why boredom is exciting

When we’re bored, we become uncomfortable and restless like a withdrawal from an addiction.

In our Western culture, being bored carries the feelings loneliness, laziness or even being useless. Our self-image is wounded because our ego perceives boredom negatively, sort of failure.

Our ego say “ I must be busy and show to others that I am busy  ”

When someone is asking: “ How are you doing?”, the #1 reply among adults is “busy”

The word “boredom” was used for the first time by C. Dickens in the 1850s.

Before then boredom was never mentioned. In earlier times people found meaning and connection through village squares, church and social gatherings. Rat race did not exist.

Being bored is a secular disease. Why?

Because we are in the rat race, because we are multi-tasking, because we create “To do list”, because “doing is being”, because we are addicted to IT which, by-the-way is now recognized as a medical condition similar to chemical addiction since the level od dopamine (so called molecule of happiness) increased while we are interacting with the screen.

What is triggering boredom?

Boredom occurs during 2 main instances:

  1. We can be bored when we are facing repetitive, automatic and non-stimulating

     stuff such as daily duties, social events and even people. I call it active boredom.

   2) When we are disconnected from our addictions such as IT. This is passive boredom.

When boredom strikes, we feel some void and the negative feeling of being unproductive, useless, impatient, restless or even lazy in the current moment.

Boredom can make us uncomfortable. When there’s nothing stimulating, flashy, and distracting, we experience the urge to seek distractions a.s.a.p. and the #1 source of distraction is, again, the IT world. We Google, text and call for no specific reason.

The moment we start chasing something, we create its opposite.  Examples:

   When we are chasing happiness, sadness is waiting around the corner.

   When we are chasing distractions, we become subconsciously aware that, w/o these distractions we will be easily bored.

Our smartphones and Skype only provide fictional human connection and w/o the physical interaction, dissatisfaction and frustration may occur, which, in turn, can evoke cravings for stimulation. This is a vicious circle.

So, what to do?

Rather than trying to find something “exciting” to escape from our feelings of restlessness, just pay attention to your boredom and meditate on it in a mindful way.

When you meditate on your boredom, you are not bored anymore because you are doing something actively rather than “doing nothing”!.

Boredom becomes even exciting because you become busy again.

No need to jump on your cell phone, Netflix or chocolate.

Beside focusing on your boredom, you can also focus, in a mindful way, on your connection and interaction to your surroundings by using your 5 senses.

You will realize that there is no void, boredom evaporates like a miracle.

Boredom, void feeling useless are just in our head. Thank you

#347 Dialog between student & teacher by Kris may 15th 2021

DIALOG BETWEEN STUDENT AND HIS SPIRITUAL MASTER

These 11 Q&A are presented to new monks and spiritual aspirants.

Ramakrishna Paramahamsa is a well-known Hindu saint who passed away in 1886. He suffered from throat cancer but did not let the disease to limit him. He led a very productive life and his many sayings have been captured in a book called the “Gospel of Sri Ramakrishna”. He had 18 close disciples, the most famous being Swami Vivekananda.

 Swami Vivekananda came to United States in 1893 to give a speech on Vedanta to the World Council of Religion and he was very well received. That is when the seeds of meditation, yoga and Vedantic studies were established in USA.

There are Ramakrishna missions all over the world including Toronto and Montreal.

The dialog below took place when he was a lay student around 1950’s

Question : I can’t find free time. Life has become too hectic.

Answer :  Activity gets you busy. However, productivity gets you free.

Question Swami: Why has our life become complicated now?

Answer : Stop analyzing life… It makes it complicated. Just live it.

Question:  Why are we then constantly so unhappy?

Answer:  Worrying has become your habit. That’s why you are not happy.

Question: Why do good people always suffer?

Answer:  Diamond cannot be polished without friction. Gold cannot be purified and refined without fire. Good people go through trials, but don’t suffer. With that experience, their life becomes better, not bitter.

 Question : You mean to say such experience is useful?

Answer : Yes. In every term of the word, Experience is a hard teacher. She gives the test first and the lessons later.

Question : Because of so many problems, we don’t know where we are heading…

Answer : If you look outside,  you will not know where you are heading. Look inside. Eyes provide sight. Heart provides the way.

Question:  Does failure hurt more than moving in the right direction?

Answer: Success is a measure as decided by others. Satisfaction is a measure, as decided by you.

Question: In tough times, how do you stay motivated?

Answer: Always look at how far you have come, rather than how far you have to go. Always count your blessing, not what you are missing.

Question : What surprises you about people?

Answer: When they suffer they ask, “why me?” When they prosper, they never ask “Why me?”

Question :  How  can I get the best out of life?

Answer : Face your PAST  without regret. Handle your PRESENT with confidence. Prepare for the FUTURE, without fear.

Question : One last question. Sometimes I feel, my prayers are not answered.

Answer:

 There are no unanswered prayers Keep the faith and drop the fear, Life is a mystery to solve, not a problem to resolve. Trust me. Life is wonderful if you know how to live.

Stay Happy Always! In conclusion, even though the questions and answers are very simple, they are very profound and applicable to all spiritual seekers to reduce their worldly cravings. The spiritual process is to first listen/read these answers, then meditate on it. If it makes sense then internalize it and PRACTICE it daily to start your spiritual

#346: Suffering: a mental hbit May 09 21

                                                                        Suffering: a mental habit

Apart from external painful events, suffering is a self-generated mental habit: doubt, guilt, shame, resentment, regrets, anger, fear, frustration, blame, I want, I don’t want  and many more.

This mental habit is affecting not only you but also others and these persons may impose their mental habit on you.

A common painful mental habit is, quite often, our own judgments about self and others and

the judgment of others causing pain to themselves and us.

It is very hard to stop our own double judging habit and it is even harder for us to help others stop their judgment.

Judging more consciously, less automatically, gives us the opportunity to be more compassionate

to self but also to others.

The practice to apply only decisional judgment should help but it takes time and effort and mindfulness meditation should help.

Either way, we are the ones who suffer from those feelings, so we need to create mindful habit to disconnect ourselves from this mental habit of automatic judging.

Another painful mental habits are guilt and blame.

They are alike because when we feel guilty we blame ourselves, and when we cast blame, we also assign guilt to others. Whether we accept or assign blame, we fuel negative feelings either about ourselves or another person or both. What a mess!

Pride and shame are the polar ends of the ego spectrum. They are also painful mental habit.

This spectrum represents our basic evaluation of ourselves in our relative world.

In this relative world, we are better or worse depending on our situation and how we are using pride and shame to rank ourselves among each other.

We even compare ourselves to other imaginative versions of ourselves, sort of mental avatar, comparing who we think we are to who we want to be or should nor be.

That ranking system, which is mostly unconscious and fluctuates widely with our moods, causes a lot of suffering and feeds into all kinds of judgments, leading to more guilt, shame, pride, and blame. Another self-inflecting catch 22 scenario.

Practicing mindfulness awareness of our detrimental mental habits starts by practicing mindfulness meditation because, while meditating, we learn to practice conscious awareness on our breathing.

When you bring your attention to your breath, you become present and aware.

Also, once a while, practice self-compassion that is remember your basic goodness.

Your basic goodness means that you don’t want to self induce suffering  nor cause suffering.

Negative feelings are strong habits that will always find new and creative ways to invade themselves in our emotional mind.

Practicing mindfulness during meditation and on the go will not make our negative mental habit

go away, but it will slow them down some how and even stop them from keeping you slave of your painful self-talk.

T Y

#345 :I am awake” said the Buddha! May 2nd 21

       “I am awake” said the Buddha What did he mean?

                          From over-thinking to awakening: a path towards serenity & compassion

“ I am awake” declared suddenly and loudly Prince Siddhartha Gautama 2500 years ago

 after 9 years of ongoing meditation.

This is why he received his nickname “the Buddha” meaning “the awakened one.”

What did he mean?  “I am aware / conscious” of the current genuine reality of what life is all about and not from the fictional world of our mind. In other words: “ I am not daydreaming”

Being aware is to focus or to pay attention consciously on something or someone in a mindful way

that is to simply observe and reflect like a mirror.

No thinking, no analysis, no judgment, no decision, no ego-driven mind. 

It is like being in a state of pure and thoughtless consciousness.

Going further, being awakened or enlightened means:

  1) That our awareness takes over our cognitive self. Instead of being in charge of our life, thinking becomes the servant of our awareness rather than us being its slave.

The way towards awakening is based on mindfulness meditation practice and not from blind faith or reading books. If you are trying to achieve enlightenment or awakening using your thinking, then

 it is your ego trying to add it to itself making itself even bigger and more important.

   2) That our powerful ego- centered thinking ceases to be a self-serving mentor that is taking possession of us 24/7 by trapping us in its mind-made fictional world and could ruin our life.

So, what is the process and what are the glimpses of awakening?

Realizing and accepting that life carries its loads of “suffering” in the forms of negative feelings  from “I want this”,I don’t want that”, from external causes and from our mind-made illusions/delusions.

Such illusions are:

          Now that is the present moment is the only reality of space-time since past and future

              exist only in our mind, pictures and cell phone calendar.

          Nothing lasts: everything is transient in order for the evolution to move on.

          Nothing can be controlled 100%.

          Nothing has a permanent, unique, independent, separate and self-sustained self-entity.

          Life, people, events and surrounding are what they are and not what we want them to be.

          Our mind is a wonderful instrument but also our worst deceptive friend.

     Not understanding these illusions causes suffering.

     Ounce we are able to be mindful of these illusions, we become able to dissociate them

      from the genuine concrete reality of our surroundings in the present moment.

And what about after awakening?

Once you have a glimpse of awareness you know it firsthand. It is no longer just a concept in you mind or from teaching or in the books but a way of life in which the ego- centered mind is under controlled rather than the opposite. Serenity and compassion for self and others are around the corner.

Thank you.