Posts by Arnaud Painvin:

#321 “Why me!…I shall not suffer” July 5th 20

                                        “ Why me ! I shall not suffer.”

Of course we never say “I shall not suffer” but silently we say “Why me” .

This emotional defense mechanism is a fundamental part of our mind-based ego.

It is so deep in our subconscious and so powerful from our Western education and philosophy that, even the possibility and expectation of some sort of suffering is perceived like a nightmare.

“ Why me, it is unfair, life is terrible”

The presence and recognition of suffering in life is the absolute center of Zen-Buddhism teaching.

The Buddha talked about it every day during 50 years 2500 years ago.

In fact, Zen-Buddhism has been seen as a very pessimistic if not masochistic philosophy of life until very late in our current century.

The word suffering came from a poor translation. We should use softer words such as dissatisfaction, unhappiness, and all other negative emotions like grief, nostalgia, anger, frustration, jealousy, fear envy, and so on.

Our Western culture is telling us to “be happy” all the time. It is even written in the American Constitution.!

Avoiding and denying unhappiness at all costs is an integral obligation in our daily way of life.

In fact, consumption-based capitalistic economy is the main tool in our quest for happiness:

New car, more money, bigger house, zillion of friends, travelling non-stop, more and more etc., etc….

All of the above are just mirage, deception and illusions since they are transient and never provide steady happiness. In fact, they create the opposite because they are inducing an ongoing thirst for happiness which will be never satisfied.

This avoidance and denial of “suffering” is viewed by our Oriental counter-parts as very weird because:

   1)  Avoidance  of suffering is simply impossible and

   2)  Denial of suffering, when its strikes, is added more suffering to the existing one.

Wen suffering strikes and it will always strikes, our ego is reacting violently:

“ I don’t want to suffer, I want to be pain-free”

Again, this ongoing subconscious sound track is making us suffering more because we are twisting the knife in our own wound. This is craziness at its max.

Blaming life and its events as a person does not make too much sense either since “life” is not a person who has something against you. Life is a genetic material, which has no enemies.

This mind gap between avoidance/ denial of pain and actual experience of pain is one of the main cause of second degree suffering beside desire, hatred, illusion and deception of reality. 

The wider the gap the deeper the suffering.

This gap “ being pain-free vs. presence of pain ” will always be present, so, what can we do?

We have to say YES to suffering which does not mean to become masochistic which, by the way, means pathological active search for pain.

Without this acceptance of an obvious reality of Life, we cannot fill this gap.

If we cannot fill this gap, we cannot transcend it.

If we cannot transcend it, we will remain inmates in our illusion-made prison and be part of zillion of greyhounds racing around a ring to catch a dummy rabbit called happiness and without being able to grab it permanently.

All of them will widening our mind-made gap. Try to narrow it thru meditation.

Thanks you all

#320 Attributes of our ego Sun June 28 -20

        Attributes of our ego:

Our subconscious ego has zillion of way to express itself non-stop.

The following attributes vary in frequency, prevalence and degree for each of us.

Severe narcissism, paranoid, sociopath and even psychopathic behaviors are among the extreme forms requesting therapy.

Here is the list in non-specific order. Few of them will sound familiar.

   Having poor insight

   Judging, accusing, gossiping and complaining.

   Needing to be right, to appear important, wanted and indispensible.

   Taking things, statements, and events personally.

   Need have “enemies”.

   Applying negative labels to people & situations

   Making yourself right and the others wrong through futile mental or verbal complaints.

   Expecting recognition for something you did and getting angry or upset if you don’t get it.

   Trying to get attention in whatever situations.

   Creating and maintaining a self-image made of: guilt, resentment, anger, blame and complain.

    Feeling being the victim of this and that.

   Giving your opinion when nobody is asking for.

    Being always concerned with how people judge you.

  Trying to always make a positive impression on others through various tools such as education,

     possessions, good look, socio-professional status, achievements, etc…

  Referring to “important people”  for ego booster.

   Triggering an ego storm through anger, jealousy, and threat against someone or something.

What to do?

Not much since our “ I, me, myself and mine” are vital to survive.

The key is to prevent its detrimental impacts.

The moment you become aware of your hidden ego and what he is doing negatively it is, strictly speaking, no longer the ego, but just an old, conditioned mind-pattern and mind-set that you are observing in a mindful way.

Observing implies awareness and ego implies unawareness because hidden.  

Therefore, awareness and ego cannot coexist.

Print this list and score each trait from N/A, 0 to 5. 

The highest score, the bigger the ego is.

Thank you all. arnaud

#319: Zen mindfulness: an antidote to A.D.H.D. June 21 20

                         Zen mindfulness: the antidote to A.D.H.D.

/Canadian Here are the latest ADHD stats from the CDC & American Psychological Association.

1) Attention span:

        Young: around 5 to 7min. (because, most of the time they are under guided supervision).

        Adult:   around 3 to 4 min.

        Adult dog :45 sec. (adult)

        Goldfish: 7 sec.

        Over the last 15 years, attention span has dropped by around 30%, especially among adults.

        Reasons?: multitasking, distractions, overthinking and search for instant results.

        Talking produces around 120 words/min. A 3min. speech has around 360 words.

        After 3 min., the attention span of the audience drops by around 30% /min.

        Therefore, you will probably talk to yourself if your speech is more than 6min.

2) Hyperactivity:

        Means doing many things at the same time or changing activity very quickly w/o significant outcome. Multitasking, a form of ASDHD is a growing cause of anxiety and burnout.


As far Zen is concerned, learning to pay attention in a mindful way is a vital skill to practice in order to achieve serenity.  

The word attention, in Zen teaching, has nothing to do with concentration or straining that we are trying to do during our various activities at home or at work.

Attention, in its Zen meaning, means having the mental openness of a young child that is an open but still concentrated mind.

An open mind is paying attention with non-analytic, non-judgmental, non-decisional and without tension. This is mindfulness at its best.

Zen Master Suzuki calls it “Beginner mind” in his book with the same title.

A young child mind is not yet dominated by beliefs, ideas, opinion, expectations, judgment, analysis and decisions.

a Her/his mental openness is like a mirror reflecting things as they are, sort of simple pure concentrated awareness without a wandering mind. It is the opposite to the conceptual, dualistic, and gateway mind of an adult, trapping us in a constant fictional world full of ongoing thoughts.

Practicing mental openness is freeing us from this mental cage that our education, beliefs, and experiences are creating.

How to practice it?

We talk about it zillions of time.

.Stop the schizophrenic space/times between body and mind

Bring your wandering mind to the present moment, where your body is and what it is doing.

Is it boring? Probably yes for most of the time, but just do it.

Your attention becomes 100% and you are not anymore hyperactive nor multitasking.

Thank you

#318 About “Self Hypnosis” June 14 -20

        “Self-hypnosis”

Hypnosis:

Mental state associating relaxation focused attention, reduced peripheral sensorial awareness, and an enhanced capacity to respond to verbal suggestions or commands.

During hypnotherapy, the patient remains fully conscious, awake, cooperative, and cooperative.

Therefore, hypnosis is neither a mind control nor a brainwashing tool.

Around 20% of the population is resistant to hypnosis.

Used for centuries, it is a recognized and accepted therapy by the Canadian & American Medical Association as long as it is under the control of a certified health professional.

Hypnotherapy is frequently recommended for anxiety, phobias, addictions, sexual dysfunctions, guilt prolonged grieving, procrastination, depression and poor self-image.

Zen perspective:

Psychiatrist and psychoanalyst Carl Jung ( student of Freud) knew Zen philosophy very well, was practicing meditation, and recommended it to his patients.

He realized very quickly the similitude between zazen that is Zen meditation and hypnosis. Indeed, mindfulness meditation is an induced mental state associating relaxation, focusing attention on breathing, and reduced peripheral sensorial awareness therefore very similar to hypnosis.

However, the only difference is the absence of external from a therapist.

We estimate that our brain/mind produces around 100,000 thoughts every day.

A very tiny proportion of them is decisional, meaning useful in our day-to-day life.

But the immense majority of them are just a constant background sound, sort of inner voice that I call self-talk.

We are spending a huge amount of time chatting to ourselves rather than talking to others.

This self-talk is, in fact, a form of self-hypnosis focusing on past events, future expectations, self-analysis, judgment, emotions, etc.

However and contrary to hypnotherapy, our self-talk that is self-hypnosis has no therapeutic value what so ever.

On the contrary, it is often detrimental, inducing more negative feelings more than positives ones.

Finally:

To awaken or enlightenment is to be free from this self-talk or self-hypnosis because its content, coming from our mind is, by definition, fictional and not necessarily true.

Thank you

#317 The detachment conundrum by Roque June 7 20

                                                The Detachment conundrum

Of all the Zen teachings and ideas, detachment is one of the hardest ones for me to grasp.

Our daughter was born 3 weeks premature, came home weighing a little over 5lbs. As she could not get enough to eat, she cried constantly for the first three months of her life. We watched her grow, and become an independent woman with a keen talent for storytelling which serves her very well as a budding journalist. You are probably wondering where this is going. Well …. she called us on Friday in tears after breaking up with her boyfriend of two years, her heartbreaking in pieces, wanting someone to just listen and offer some reassurance. Reassurance – that someday, she would find someone who really loves her and treats her as she wants to be treated. ….A very reasonable expectation we thought.

Is it truly possible to be detached at these events? To be an observer, a mirror, …. and listen to her words, be a witness to pain without judgment or emotion? To be more detached, to be emotionally aloof?

Now……. is this what Detachment really means?

Eastern philosophies look at detachment from slightly different angles, often calling it non-attachment (which I prefer), but they all agree that it is a condition in which a person overcomes their attachment to desire for things, people or concepts of the world and thus attains a heightened perspective. Concepts of the world: such as money, power, status, feelings of control, feelings of permanence, “the pursuit of constant happiness” (or better – aversion to pain and sadness), a desire to see things as we want them to be and not as they are.

Attachment to desire and things feeds the ego, many of us become attached to our work, and our sense of value is linked to our social status, to the clothing we wear, to having the latest i-phone and, let’s not forget about driving the latest ……. German-engineered SUV.

Attachment also feeds the illusion we are in control, that if we stay on top of these things – nothing bad will happen to us, instead of recognizing that we are in fact a lot more fragile than we might want to believe. Some of these attachments can lead to addictions of many types; we become workaholics, narcissistic egomaniacs, controlling freaks, dependent on alcohol and drugs, even totally self-absorbed and unaware of our impact on others and our planet.

I think this is the type of attachment that Zen philosophy refers to. The unhealthy type. The type that sooner or later leads to a lot more suffering, to an empty, meaningless and lonely state.

In Hinduism, attachment is viewed as the main obstacle towards a serene and fulfilled life, leading to continuous worries and restlessness produced by desire and personal ambitions. The retired president of Uruguay was recently asked, what would you be doing if you had the billions that Bill Gates has, he replied: “I would be worried about who is trying to steal it from me”. The accumulation and value assigned to material things inevitably lead to perpetual worrying about losing them.

Another translation for detachment is “renunciation”, in this sense the meaning is directed to a sense of “giving up the world and leading a holy life” or “freedom from lust, craving, and desires”. In Zen detachment is also linked to the concept of no-thought, meaning that one must be separated (detached) from one’s own thoughts and opinions in detail as to not be harmed mentally and emotionally by them.

A Buddhist writing states: “One who performs his duty without attachment, surrendering the results unto the Supreme Lord, is unaffected by sinful action, as the lotus is untouched by muddy water.”

The Zen symbol of detachment is the lotus flower rising above the muddy waters.

I think it is impossible not to be attached to your children or your aging mother or your Zen Master, but be mindful of why you are doing it, question whether the act is selfless or if you are trying to control or escape some aspect of your life. Moreover, one must accept the realities of life and to recognize that, with attachment, always comes some level of suffering, and this is not necessarily a bad thing.

How do we let go of attachment? We cannot. Don’t even try.

Attachment to things may drop away by itself when we no longer seek to find ourselves in them.

#316 An incomprehensible statement June 3 2020

A cynical said that, by far, the first cause of death is Life since Life has, by definition, an100% mortality rate in which unexpected events such as accidents+ illnesses+ war+ disasters represent only a very, very tiny proportion.

​#1 ​So:​

Maybe ​finding ​the secret of Life is to die** before death in order to realize that there is, in fact, no death per se since no one can die twice.

​#2​​ Then:​

If there is no death, then life is eternal.

​#3 But:

If Life is eternal, how ​can one find its secret by dying?   


#315 My Learning with meditation …so far by Gaurav May 24 -20

                                 My Learning with Meditation so far

When Arnaud mentioned that it takes him under 10 seconds to know if someone will quit meditation, I felt for people who find this idea of focusing their mind so daunting. I am sharing my learnings to motivate all of us to not give up and try a little harder.

1. It is what it is – as cliché as it sounds this really is the crux. I realize now that it is neither half-full nor half-empty – it is just half-a-glass-of-water. I have understood (not realized) the definition of enlightenment – it is to see everything for what it is without being analytical or judgmental…to take life as it is. Each time I tried to control the outcomes or people it caused me and those around me tremendous pain. Meditation has allowed me to focus on what I can control.

2. Religion is a coping mechanism and perhaps a theory – there is a difference between being religious and spiritual. I grew up as a Hindu, but I was always confused about the idea of religion. Because I was so physically, emotionally and mentally fragile I needed something to hold on to. Over time I began to identify myself with this notion of religion and became one with it. I now understand that meditation elevates us spiritually while religion enslaves us with dogmas and false beliefs.

3. Identifying myself with my thoughts or senses seriously messed me up – I understand now that the main reason of epidemics is that we don’t do a good job with washing our hands…why? Because we are busy watching ourselves in the mirror not focusing on washing our hands! I let my senses feed my mind uncontrollably and I was reacting to every random thought that popped up in my head. As I started meditating, I have become more aware of my thoughts. I can predict and better control my reactions. It feels as though Meditation is putting me in touch with my consciousness. Although Science hasn’t been able to determine how mind generates consciousness…I am just going with the belief.

4. While I cannot erase memories or experiences from my mind, I must find a way to deal with them – The feeling of guilt is probably the worst feeling that I have had to deal with but Meditation has given me the ability to become aware of what my mind is up to and learn to forgive myself.

5. ‘I’ is an interesting but unreal concept – what this entity called ‘I’ really means I have no idea. I continue to struggle with the question that which one of the trillions of cells that make up my physical existence constitutes me? As Nisargadatta Maharaj says you need to rule out what you are not to get to what you really are. This practically takes out everything I see or experience.

Learning and Realization are fundamentally different so I truly believe meditation will eventually help me realize who I really am.

#314 From anger to forgiveness by Gentiana 17-05-20

                                               From Anger to forgiveness

Hello everyone, my name is Gentiana. I started meditating for several years now and followed an inner discipline that feels right for me. Thanks to our Zen Master, that gave me a Dharma talk, I got to discover different aspects about events in my life. Dharma talk facilitated my thinking to go on a path that I thought was closed 30 years ago. The subject of Dharma talk is “From Anger to Forgiveness in Zen”.  My initial response was: “I don’t usually get angry and it seems natural and fairly easy for me to forgive, therefore realistically speaking there is no Dharma talk for me”

But as we all know, our minds love to keep digging, inquiring and making good use of our attention. I kept looking for a time in my life when I was angry, not sad or hurt, but angry.  My mind located the event 30 years ago.

Here is a short context of the event I am referring to: I was lucky to be born in a beautiful, established family with values, in the central part of Romania (Transylvania); even with the communism regime where the electricity and gas was cut off and thus was doing homework at the candle light, we still led a good and decent life, thanks to my parents.  In 1989 I was in high-school, and for those that love history, know that in December Romania took place a revolution where blood was poured and wasted. The students started the revolution and in few hours the revolution extended throughout the entire country because Romanians wanted democracy. People were shot and bodies were buried. The president was executed on Christmas Day and a new president came to power. I am alive because although I was taking part in the revolution no bullets came my way and I made it home. In the next 2 weeks, I hoped, and I dreamed, I was breathing in the new change and I believed in a good future and then…ANGER. To me, anger is a way of responding to unmet needs or wishes; I realized that people died for nothing; nothing had changed: the mentality, the regime stayed the same. I had so much anger. Anger for what happened; I had anger towards the injustice, anger towards the unfairness, compassion for the families of those that died, and I had anger towards myself because I believed in a new world. I saw myself as not smart enough because I did not see the larger picture. Looking back I now understand that the anger was EGO driven.

I realized though that nothing is permanent and that I don’t have enough life to live to see the changes I wanted to see and I accepted the situation but I had decided to leave the country. The stars aligned only when I forgave myself, when my anger was replaced by forgiveness. It took time; the anger dissipated in time and it only happened because forgiveness took its place. I got the visa and came to Canada 6 and a half years later.

Thank you for listening.

#313 The Buddha story about the 2 arrows by Erin May 15th 20

        The story of the 2 arrows                         

A few years ago, my first meditation teacher spoke of the Parable of the Second Arrow, and it was the first time I saw how the skills I was developing during meditation practice could translate into everyday life. 

The parable of the Second Arrow goes like this:

The Buddha once asked a student, “If a person is struck by an arrow, is it painful?” The student replied, “It is.” The Buddha then asked, “If the person is struck by a second arrow, is that even more painful?” The student replied again, “It is.” The Buddha then explained, “In life, we cannot always control the first arrow. However, the second arrow is our reaction to the first. And with this second arrow comes the possibility of choice.”

So while we can’t always control the situations life throws at us, this parable helps us understand how emotional reactions can make matters worse.

When I first heard this story I was taking an MBSR class to help me cope with chronic pain. Hearing this parable helped me to connect the dots between how the physical pain I experienced was being impacted my thoughts. I noticed that when the pain was bad, I would get emotional and have anxious and fearful thoughts about the pain, which then made the pain worse, which then caused more fear and anxiety. And I would end up in a cycle of where the pain would get worse and worse and I would get more and more freaked out and anxious. Once I heard the parable, it dawned on me that I was in fact continuously shooting myself with the second arrow. Now, this realization didn’t magically solve the pain, but once I was aware of the second arrow, I started to understand how my reactive thoughts affected me. 

Life will always throw first arrows our way: a major life event happens, or someone says something upsetting to you, or you get a parking ticket. First arrows can also be more mundane like waiting in a grocery store line up that just isn’t moving, or coming home to a sink full of dirty dishes.  Often our reactions to first arrows play a large role in how we interpret and experience the event. We like to point the finger, lay blame, complain, condemn ourselves and over analyze. 

What if, instead of shooting ourselves with the second arrow, we recognize that those thoughts, feelings and emotions are there, but they aren’t inherently a part of us and don’t necessarily define us. We can stand back from our thoughts and emotions, observe them, but not get carried away in them. And if we no longer identify with our reactive thoughts and feelings we can start to see that life events are what they are, and our reactions to these events are just experiences that are passing through. 

So next time that first arrow hits you, watch out for the second arrow right around the corner, don’t just react but instead respond to the situation. Going from reacting to responding is not easy to do, but once we start to recognize our own patterns of reactive thoughts and emotions, we can try to start to change them.

The “Two Arrows” is not about denying our initial reaction to pain. It is about being self-aware enough to realize that we have a choice, and we don’t necessarily have to turn our pain into suffering. 

#312 Anxiety has a bad reputation May 9 -20

                                      Anxiety has a bad reputation

Worries, anxiety and fear are, at different degrees, the mind-mad anticipation of a negative or positive future scenario. They can be imminent or anytime after.

Everyday anxiety is a fact of life and can actually be helpful “How we use it makes all the difference,”

As the world gets faster and more uncertain, it’s easy to be overwhelmed by anxiety.

We are hijacked by anxiety coming from our reptilian brain, source of fear and excitement.

Denying or running away from anxiety make it worse.”

We view anxiety through a negative lens, something to fear and avoid. That thinking is self-defeating.  We need to accept it as a natural part of our emotional spectrum.

Another cause of anxiety is our faulty thinking around change.

For centuries, change was viewed as dangerous.. But stability and permanence are total illusion, and uncertainty of life is reality. It makes us anxious and vulnerable, and leads us  to worry or run away because we realize that we are not in control of life. This is anxiogenic.

People often move back and forth between too much, just enough, and too little anxiety.

Anxiety is contagious. We communicate our level of anxiety to others because we’re far more connected to each other than we think.

Anxiety is energy, and we must strike the right balance if you know what to look for:

Too Much Anxiety:

The most frequent form. It is a burden but it is also an advantage: by doing so, they are not badly surprised when a negative scenario happens.

Too much anxiety is created when we are telling yourself about a positive or negative outcome which does not exist. For example, “If I don’t do a good job I’ll get fired.” It is not the current scenario that causes anxiety, it is its potential outcome that we creating in our mind.

Severe forms of anxiety require medical treatment.

Too Little Anxiety:

Too little anxiety isn’t good either. Those people value status quo and live in a rosy bubble.

It is nice to be optimistic but it is also a curse when we are badly surprised when negative scenarios happen.

Good Anxiety:

Living with the right amount of anxiety provides  enough tension to drive us forward without causing we to resist, give up, or try to control what happens. “It’s a productive energy,”

The first step is to accept being uncomfortable. A lot of people think the goal of life is to be happy, but the goal is to experience life with its good and bad moments.

Listen to your body; it is the proxy of your mental state. We talked already about the physical symptoms of anxiety.

Ask yourself why you’re anxious. Is it because you’re excited or fearful?

Is your anxiety: good or bad. If you’re about to give a speech, anxiety is good. If you’re not anxious, you’re probably not going to give a great speech. And if you’re too anxious, that won’t be a great speech, either.”

All change happens in the gap that the mind is creating between current reality and desired or fearful future scenarios. We create a problem we want to solve or have a goal we want to accomplish.

In this gap sits our motivation, our engagement, and our anxiety. Anxiety becomes a positive energy needed to cross the gap. No other way. Meditation brings body and mind together, the first step to analyze both of them and reduce this gap between reality and future scenarios.