#361 Complaining: our favorite ego’s food. 28/08/21

Complaining: our ego’s favorite food

Complaining is one of our ego’s favorite strategies for strengthening itself.
We are complaining almost all the time about anything. It can be verbal, from thoughts but it is mostly subconscious as demonstrated using hypnosis.

We are complaining about everything, even if there is nothing we can do about it.
Complaining aloud or only in thoughts make no difference.
The list of complaints is endless dealing from the past, present and future and triggered
by people, events and even self.
How often do you catch yourself complaining about whomever, whatever, whenever
or even your life and life in general?

Why complaining is part of our identity?:
On rare occasions in life, complaining is totally justified i.e.
When you have a recurrent water leak the day following the repair done by the plumber.
But these occasions are in fact rare.

Every complaint is a little story our ego-mind is creating and, strangely enough, we completely believe in it. It is an integral part of our ongoing day dreaming state and most of them are meaningless, sort of small talk to others and to self.

Many egos that don’t have too much else to offer for self-identification can survive very easily
by feeding themselves in complaining alone about every things and all the time.
So, complaining is a very common way of self-identification. “I am complaining therefore I am”

Complaining is like an iceberg: when we are in the grip of such ego trick, especially about complaining about other people, it is usually subtle if not subconscious which means that you don’t realize it. This is the iceberg below water.
The tip of the iceberg is when our complaint becomes conscious thru thoughts and verbal process.
Complaining is an on-going negative feeling that should be incorporated in the same basket
that other negative feelings such as anger, regret, worry, guilt, anxiety, and so on.
To complain is always non-acceptance of what things, events and people are.
Similar to other negative feelings, complaining always produces negative energy and
makes you a victim. Remember that negative feelings means negative energy and negative
energy is sucking a lot of our mental and emotional energy which should be used for more
positive activities.

So, what to do?
If the complaint remains subconscious, there is obviously nothing we can do about it despite burning energy as I said.
Otherwise learn to catch yourself complaining about x. y, z that is practicing mindfulness awareness of your complain verbal or by thought. Then:
Fix the cause it if you can which is, as I said, very rare.
If not: accept it…….and let it go in a mindful way.
All else is pure stupidity or even madness. Thank you.

#360 Genuine compassion Aug. 22th 21

Only genuine compassion is enough.
Adapted from the writings of the Dalai Lama

“It’s not sufficient, says the Dalai Lama, to simply think that compassion is important. We must transform our thoughts and behavior on a daily basis to cultivate compassion without attachment” What he just said is not an oxymoron and I will try to explain it.
Before we can generate compassion and love, it is important to have a clear understanding of what we understand compassion and love to be.
Compassion and love can be defined as positive thoughts and feelings that give rise to such essential things in life as forgiveness, hope, and courage.
In the Buddhist tradition, compassion and love are the 2 sides of the same coin meaning: “Compassion is the wish for another being to be free from suffering and love is wanting them to have serenity if not at least happiness.”
It is not enough to believe that compassion is important and nice to practice.
Self-centered behavior inhibits our compassion and love to others, and we are all afflicted by it to one degree or another.
For true serenity to emerge, we need to cultivate a calm mind, and such peace of mind will arise
only from the practice of a compassionate attitude not only towards others’ living beings but also to ourselves.
How can we develop this attitude? Obviously, it is not enough for us simply to believe that compassion is important and nice.
We need to make a concerted effort to develop it; we must use all the events of our daily life to transform our thoughts and behavior in order to practice compassion.
Unfortunately, many forms of compassionate feeling are mixed with desire and attachment.
For instance, the love that parents feel for their child is often strongly associated with their own emotional needs, so it is not fully compassionate.
Usually, when we are concerned about a close friend, we call this compassion, but there is always some sort of attachment behind it.
“Even in marriage, the love between husband and wife—particularly at the beginning, when each partner still may not know the other’s deeper character very well—depends more on attachment than genuine love,” says the Dalai Lama.
Our desire can be so strong that the person to whom we are attached appears flawless, when in fact he or she has many faults. In addition, attachment makes us exaggerate small, positive qualities. When this happens, it indicates that our love is motivated more by personal needs than by genuine care for another.
Many marriages last only for a short time because they are lacking compassion; they are produced by emotional attachment based on projection and expectation, and as soon as the projections change, the attachment disappears, so does the relationship.
Compassion without attachment is possible. Therefore, we need to clarify the distinctions between compassion and attachment.
True compassion is not just an emotional response but a firm commitment founded on reason. Because of this firm foundation, a truly compassionate attitude toward others does not change even if they behave negatively. Genuine compassion to others is based not on our own needs and expectations, but rather on the needs of the other: irrespective of whether another person is a close friend or an enemy, as long as that person wishes to overcome suffering to achieve peace and happiness, then, on that basis, we should develop genuine concern for their problem. This is genuine compassion. For a Buddhist practitioner, the goal is to develop this genuine compassion for the well-being of self and others, in fact for every living being that we like or dislike through the universe.
Text adapted from the Dalai Lama book “The compassionate life” Thank you.

#359 Actual vs Virtual realities…

Actual reality, virtual reality, and spacetimes. A Zen perspective.

It is 8 pm. Imagine yourself sitting in a movie theater and watching an exciting movie.
In this setting there are 2 space-times:
– Your space-time is your immediate surrounding (Space) at 8pm (Time) also called the present
– What is going on on the screen, represents many “movie space-times.”
Your space-time defines actual and concrete reality.
The movie-space time defines virtual reality because people, actions, surroundings, and various time
periods are just 2D projections on the screen.
So, here is a fundamental question:
What are the differences between actual and virtual realities?
This question is not academic. It has significant implications as far as Zen practice is concerned.
1) Actual reality:
Is what we are experiencing concretely and mindfully i.e. 1- what our body is doing,
2- what our 5 senses are perceiving, 3- our surroundings with their contents, events, and actions.
All of these are in the single present moment.
Here, obviously, space-time is a single entity since one cannot be at 2 different places and times at the same time.
2) Virtual reality:
This is our mind-made reality. It is virtual since it does have any of the components of the actual
reality. Thoughts, feelings do exist but are virtual by definition. When our mind is wandering,
many successive space-times, contents, and events occur in which you may or not be present.
So, our mind is producing a self-made on-going inner movie somewhat equivalent to the movie
on the screen of the movie theater.
The analogy with you, in the movie theater, and you, outside it, stop right there because there is a fundamental difference.
In the theater, we are actively observing the virtual reality on the screen made of events, people, actions in many different space-times.
If your favorite movie is online, you can even stop it, go backward or forward.

But, during the day, are we actively observing our mind-made movie as much as in the theater?
Apart from its cognitive activities requiring attention, our mind is wandering no-stop, producing
zillion of thoughts, feelings in many different space-times: over 90,000/ day from neuroimaging.
Rather than being the active observers of the movie like in a theater, we are the opposite, sort of
victimized recipient of our permanent inner mind-made virtual world even w/o being fully aware of it.
Our inner little voice is pure self-talking.
Our wandering mind is never where our body is and what it is doing. Its powerful grasp is such that we identify ourselves with our thoughts and feelings non-stop
to the point where we behave during the day in auto-pilot under the control of our mind.

What Zen teaching is telling us?
Zen is telling us that we are “day sleepwalkers”. We are constantly in a dreaming state.
We identify ourselves with our ego-driven movie.
Being in this fictional world is a great source of suffering from desires, hatred, and delusions.
Like in the movie theater, Zen is telling us to be the observer of our fictional world and its content, to be the awareness of our thoughts and emotions. By doing so, you are not the thinker but the one who watches the thinker. This watcher is your True self.
We become the controller of your mind rather than being under its control.
Serenity cannot be achieved if you cannot dissociate yourself from your mind-made ego-driven fictional world maybe not permanently but as much as possible. Thank you

#358 Breathing: a miracle moment 8/8/21

Breathing: A Miracle Moment

First, we sit comfortably on a cushion or a chair. Then we keep your back erect without straining or overarching and keep your chin horizontal. Close your eyes. If not, gaze gently a few feet in front of you w/o staring. Aim for a state of alert relaxation. Take three or four slow deep breaths, feeling the air entering your nostrils.
Then let your breathing settles into its natural rhythm, without forcing or controlling it.
All you have to do is just to feel breathing, as it happens, nothing more.
Notice where you feel your breath. Perhaps it’s predominant at the nostrils, perhaps at the chest or abdomen. Don’t modify it.
Become aware of your breathing sensations. If you’re focusing on the breath at the nostrils, for example, you may experience tingling, vibration, or cold and warmth. You may observe that the breath is cooler when it comes in through the nostrils and warmer when it goes out.
If you’re focusing on the breath at the abdomen, you may feel the in and out movements.
Don’t analyze them, simply feel them in a mindful way.
Let your attention resting on the feeling of your natural breathing, especially by focusing on your exhale. (Notice how often the word “resting” comes up in this instruction? Breathing should be a restful practice. You don’t need to change it or “to do it right”.
You may find that the rhythm of your breathing changes. Just allow the change whatever it is.
Sometimes people get a little self-conscious about watching themselves breathing and they start hyperventilating a little, or the opposite, holding their breath without fully realizing what they’re doing. If that happens, just go back to your natural breathing.

Many distractions will arise:
Thoughts, images, emotions, aches, pains, wandering in the past or future.
Just be aware of them, then let them go by going back to your mind anchor that is your breathing.
You don’t need to avoid your thoughts or analyze them.
Accept them as they are and refocus on your exhale breathing, over and over and over.
Meditation is moving the mind back and forth from breathing to thoughts.
By doing so, you are taming your mind progressively. It is a sort of mental workout.
You don’t have to get mad at yourself for having thoughts, they will happen many times during meditation. Just acknowledge their presence and let them go one by one. When you notice that your mind is wandering, just take him back to your exhale.
The magic moment:
The moment you realize you’ve been distracted by thought and you are going back to your exhale breathing is a magic moment.
It’s a chance to become different by simply learning to letting go the intruder rather than being his victim as we are too often and, at the same time, being in the present moment.
By doing so, you are controlling your mind, forcing him to re-focus on his anchor that is your breathing. At this point, the thought evaporates because the mind cannot have
two thoughts at the same time!
You may have to let go of wandering thoughts thousands of times during meditation and it is just fine. There are not thousands of roadblocks to your practice, just the opportunity in controlling your mind thousands of times. That’s life: starting over, one breath at a time w/o being discouraged since the overall beneficial effect of meditation is cumulative with its practice.
Finally: counting your exhale from 1 to 10 then 10 to 1 is an excellent adjuvant when concentration is lacking. Thank you all

#357 How to apply mindfulness in dealing with our suffering.

How to apply mindfulness in dealing with our suffering
Edited from a Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh

Dealing with our suffering using the usual “fight”:
We try our best to get rid of it our suffering. Psychologists like the expression, “getting it out of your system.” which is venting the cause of suffering. Some psychologists say that when the energy of anger arises in you, you should ventilate it by hitting a pillow, kicking something, or by going into the forest to yell and shout.
People who use venting techniques like hitting a pillow or even shouting are actually rehearsing suffering because they are using some sort of fightback approach thru resistance non-acceptance and even attempt to suppress.
Zen calls this, dealing with aggression. This is a dangerous habit because not only the cause of suffering usually will persist but any attempt to suppress it is, by itself, a source of
1) Suffering and 2) Negative energy from consumption of it while fighting suffering and causes.
Dealing with our suffering using mindfulness-based acceptance:
Mindfulness-based insight is paying attention / observing our suffering w/o an analytic purpose. It has the power of liberating us from the self-inflicted trap.
Mindfulness does not fight suffering and its causes, it observes and accepts it.
It is used to recognize/being aware of it in the present moment and then to accept it as it is.
The approach is opposite to the previous one since there is no tentative of resistance or suppression.
Therefore the practice of mindfulness creates, by itself positive energy since no energy is used to fight but instead abound of unity becomes a source of positive energy
When it is cold in your room, you turn on the heater, and the heater begins to send out waves of hot air. The cold air doesn’t have to leave the room for the room to become warm. The cold air is embraced by the hot air and becomes warm—there’s no fighting at all between them.
Mindfulness works like this hot air.
In Zen, the practice of mindfulness meditation should be the practice of embracing and transforming what we dislike, what we resist to, what we refuse and not of fighting.
How to make good use of suffering:
To grow the tree of Awakening, we must, first, make good use of our suffering.
It does not mean to become masochistic since a masochistic one is searching pleasure from pain or the more pain the more pleasure, which has nothing to do with Zen practice.
Using suffering is like growing lotus flowers says Thich Nat Hanh.
We cannot grow a lotus (serenity) without mud (suffering)
Practitioners of mindfulness meditation do not reject their suffering and do not transform themselves into a battlefield, good fighting evil.
We should treat our afflictions with the acceptance and compassion of an observer rather than a victim.
Mindfulness recognizes, embraces then relieves us from suffering at least partially.
It helps us to look deeper beyond our ego-driven emotional reflex of fighting suffering.
Becoming a non-emotional observer of our suffering, you become the subject rather than the object of it. This is the Buddhist practice of taking care of suffering and its causes. Every time you give your internal pain a bath of warm positive energy of mindfulness, the knot of pain in you starts to loosing up. If you know how to generate this positive energy of mindfulness, it will act as a healing tool while facing suffering every time it pops up.
Mindfulness does the work of entangling our knots of suffering. You have to allow suffering and its causes to circulate freely and not be afraid of nor fighting again. If you learn not to fear your knots of suffering, you can learn how to accept them with the energy of mindfulness.
At this point, the emotional pain will evaporate. Thank you.