Posts by Arnaud Painvin:

#274 WALKING: a detoxing step against burnout Sun. June 9th 19

                       Walking:  a detoxing step against burnout

“Have a walk” is a good advice to someone who needs to cool down somewhat.

Burnout has become the # 1buzzword over the last 10 years. Modern life doesn’t seem to be relaxing us or even care. Media are increasingly talking about anxiety, anger, fatigue, depression, etc. Self-help books, relaxation apps and wellness gurus are widely available to many and yet emotions such as anxiety, anger, burnout,depression, nostalgia are the #1 causes of medical consultation in our Western civilization.

Some of our daily struggles include Internet overload, feeling of loneliness despite social media, competitive working world, lack of time and multi tasking and so on.

In our frantic pace and time contraction we are unable to keep our focus more than few min. on one single target. The reason? Our mind is in constant boiling state.

Ask yourself this bizarre question: “ How often do I think that I am walking?”  Of course Never.

Walking is a basic reflex starting between 9 and 12 months old.

Subconsciously we average 7,000 steps/day.

That is around 180,000 Km during a 80 years lifespan. This is lot of steps to think about. And yet, when we put one foot in front of the other our mind is running around non-stop but certainly not on paying attention on our subconscious automatic walking.

Walking is used to move our body from A to B. It is a basic mechanical activity during which our mind is not walking but running non-stop about this and that.

For must of us, we never use walking as a tool to quiet our mind.

Greek and Roman philosophers wrote about the benefits of walking. There is a Latin sentence saying

“It is solved by walking,” and, by “it” I mean almost anything.

 For zillions of years back, walking is one of the keys to health, well-being, and creativity. Not only its physical part is important even if the number of calories burned is minimal, but its mental and emotional impacts one are also critical.

 Shakespeare wrote in The Tempest, “A turn or two I’ll walk, to still my beating mind”

How to walk in a mindful way?

Not easy but you don’t need to be a genius to walk in a mindful way if you are looking to achieve a quieter mind. In fact, the only tool we need is to pay attention to your our steps. Here are the recipes:

Slow down the pace, keep a straight back, breath normally and focus on each step one by one by feeling the ground. Looking few meters away but don’t be distracted by what you see.

Do this for few min during which your cell phone is off. (An impossibility for many already addicted to it)

Over time, we will be able to repeat this “moving mindfulness meditation” exercise every time we walk. 

Like its sitting meditation sister, walking meditation is also a practical act with spiritual ramifications. 

In Walking Meditation the great Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh explains that walking and paying attention to our steps are acts of enlightenment. He points out that by cultivating this habit of walking attentively, we can start to see the world around us more clearly.

In many retreat centres walking meditation is as important than the sitting one because more challenging.

Walking forces the mind to focus on each of our steps. Therefore, the mind has no options but to slowdown the flow of thoughts the same way that breathing does during sitting meditation.

Breathing and steps are powerful mind anchors. They are twins as far the effects.

We become more present to the moment and its surrounding reality.

In the long term it will ease anxiety, spark creativity, increase productivity, and detox us from digital overload (that is, if you don’t walk with your thumbs pressing frenetically the keyboard of your cell phone ).

#273 It is not what we think Sun. June 2 19

                                                 It’s Not What We Think   

One of the strangest mysteries of life is that people, events and things are, usually, not what we think they are.  Taking an analogy with a computer, each of our individual perception is triggered by zillion of gigabits  coming nonstop from the outside world. This is the data input.  

Then, we think and think and think and all of that thinking shapes our values, beliefs, decisions, behavior and life in general. That is information output.

Between the input and the output is our mind filtrating everything for the good and the bad.

This output is made of thoughts very often distorted from the inputs: reality is not what we think.

Our mind-made world is shaped and reshaped non-stop by our 5 senses, previous education, learning experience, judgment, beliefs, people and events.  

Many of of our and judgment and beliefs are important and help us survive others are useless and even dangerous. What we think is sometimes based on true external reality but , more often, it is coming from mind-made fictional world. Whatever our thoughts are true or false, right or wrong, useful or not,  all of them affect our behavior, how we see things and how we rethink again .

Our thoughts about people, events, things are our personal mental output on how we perceive our outside world.

Whether based on reality or pure fiction, wise or deluded, our thoughts carry, most the time, an emotional dimension that affects our lives 24/7 non-stop. This is why, genuine reality is not what we think.

If we spend our days thinking about things that make us nostalgic, angry, anxious, jealous , worried or craving, we will live in an nostalgic, angry, anxious ,worried lives and craving for this and that.

If we spend our time thinking about sadness, we have sad lives. If we spend our time thinking about how grateful we are, we have lives marked by gratitude.  If we spend our lives thinking about harmony, we learn to live in harmony. If you learn to be compassionate with self, you will learn to be compassionate with others…and so on.

To live in harmony with our world, we have to be, first, in harmony with ourselves that is our body and our mind.

It means to accept not only our physical self as it is but also our emotional self-made of positive and negative feelings such as desires, hatred, sadness, anger, anxiety, fear, illusions.

These emotional weather will always be there not only because we are creating them but also because there are also created by our surrounding world such as injustice making us angry, tragedies to make us sad, dangers to bring us fear. However, there will always be love, compassion and understanding to hold us together.

Reminding ourselves all the time, that people, events and things are not always what we think they are or should be can help us to keep a more serene and quieter mind and how to interact with our surrounding world.

When we are at peace, we think better than when we are angry, when we are afraid or even, when we are super excited.

Even with an imperfect past and unknown future, you can find peace in the present. If you are suffering in the present moment, you pay attention to its impermanence or you can evoke compassion coming from us or from others and

Whenever you have an opportunity to consider compassion, practice compassion, or receive compassion, you are inviting peace and harmony into your life.

In a more peaceful present you gain better perspective and think better thoughts.

No matter how wonderful or dreadful your thoughts get, they are still transient immaterial entities.

Good or bad, what we think about x,y,z . are just thoughts. Even coming from your mind, that are not necessary truth and reality. The world is what it is and not what we think it is or want it to be.

Thank you.

#271 The GREATEST ILLUSIONIST is our MIND 26 May 19

                                   The Greatest illusionist is …our mind

Great illusionists are very skillful to mislead or falsely persuade us that what they are doing is real.

Remember Uri Geller bending spoons few meters away or someone cutting a person in half while in a coffin. These shows are very entertaining but we know they are just wonderful illusions performed by masters so we do not believe in them.

Yet, the greatest illusionist of all time is the human mind. The difference between human magicians and our mind is that we believe what our mind is telling us because we are producing the show. We are at the same time the producer, the object and the spectator. A recipe for potential suffering.    

Of course thinking is critical in our day-to-day life but most of the time, our thoughts, opinions, judgments and our addictions to be in past/future are just ongoing inner audiovisual illusions. Those thoughts are too often self-centered, useless and trapping us in a virtual prison.

Remember that around 100,000 immaterial thoughts are produced every day. How many are real or fiction?

Learning to be aware of our thoughts / emotions and to assess whether or not they are real, useful or illusions is a critical step towards our serenity. There is no other way.

What is fooling us all the time? The outside world or our inside mind-created world?

This is an important question to ask yourself all the time. If you find the answer and deal with it, how you see your life  will change for the better and forever.

Here is a short list, in a non-specific order, of 8 mind-generated illusions/delusions that Zen Buddhism has identified over the last 2500 years. Each illusion listed below can be a great mindfulness-based focusing point during your meditation practice.

1) Because they are coming from our mind, we trust our thoughts. They exist but they are not real and not necessary truthful. Most of them are just ego-centered wishful thinking or acquired values, opinions and judgments. Don’t believe in all your thoughts. Observe them before trusting them.

2) Our mind loves to travel nonstop, wandering back and forth in the future or in the past, doing something else instead of being in the present moment where our body is. It happens mostly when we are on routine and automatic behavior. The mind loves excitement not routine, repetitive  or boring stuff of the moment .

We exist only in the present moment. ”Past-you and future-you” are pure illusion, sort of mind-made holograms since we cannot exist in two different space-times. These space-times dissociations between the “present-you and the past or future you” are a great source of nostalgia, guilt, anxiety, worries and other negative feelings.

3) Mostly subconsciously, we believe and expect that things, situations and living beings will remain permanent because, based on our 200,000 years evaluative experience, we resist against change and love our comfort zones. Good and bad stuff are transient and life cannot exist w/o impermanence.

4) We believe that we are a permanent, independent, unique, separate self-entity with a self-intrinsic life.

Indeed, we are physically, mentally & emotionally unique only at our DNA level. In fact all living beings are interconnected and interdependent to each other’s. We cannot survive w/o trees, water, sun and so on.

5) We have this illusion that we are in control of our life. Think twice: do we control our family members, boss, health, weather, relationship, the content of next week, traffic, etc.?

6) We have this illusion that happiness comes from outside and accumulation of goods will do the trick.

Our list of needs can be endless and therefore happiness from outside will never be achieved.

Commercials are brainwashing us with “the more the better”. This is mega illusion.

7) Very often we have this illusion that “Life is not fair”. Is life a living being? Does it care about us?

8) Subconsciously, we are perceiving and judging people (and events) mostly thru an emotional process w/o being in their shoes. Is it reality or illusion?

All of the above are mind-generated and, too often,  source of delusions. As long we are aware of their origin we should be able to differentiate genuine  thoughts from fictional ones and meditation can be of great help. The human mind is a fantastic instrument but also our worse deceiver. Don’t be attached too much to this magnificent illusionist.

#270 ONLY ONGOING CHANGE is PERMANENT 19 May 19

Only ongoing change is permanent. Part 1

We like comfort and stability but resist and even fear the ongoing changes. It is probably liked to our 200,000 years evolution where search for stability is a default mode.

The last words of the Buddha before dying from mushroom poison were:

“Everything is transient. Understand, accept and behave accordingly to this fundamental reality of life”

Impermanence means that everything changes and nothing remains the same in any consecutive moment even if we have the strong perception that nothing changes too much day by day.

The practice and understanding of impermanence is not just another description of absolute reality, it is a practical tool helping us in our adaptation, transformation, acceptance of this and that . It will help in healing and, eventually achieving serenity.

Impermanence makes everything, including life, possible.

We are often sad and suffer a lot when good and positive things change, but change and impermanence have a positive side. Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. Bad moments don’t last and Life itself is possible.

If a grain of corn is not impermanent, it can never be transformed into corn.

If our kids are not impermanent, they cannot grow up to become adults.

So instead of resisting and complaining about impermanence, we should accept it as a fact of life  and behave accordingly.

When we can see the miracle of impermanence our sadness and suffering about disasters, losses, anger, fear, nostalgia, jealousy will pass.

Impermanence should also be understood in the light of  our interconnection and interdependence between living beings.

Because all living beings are interconnected and interdependent, they are constantly influencing each other. It is said a butterfly’s wings flapping on one side of the planet can affect the weather on the other side.

Nothing stays the same because everything is influenced by zillion of independent and unrelated factors totally out of our control.

Practicing Impermanence

All of us can understand impermanence with our intellect, but this is not yet true understanding, just a cognitive stage. Our intellect alone will not lead us to acceptance, freedom or enlightenment.  

When we look deeply and see the nature of impermanence everywhere, we can then be concentrated on its deep meaning and meditation on impermanence will help greatly.

This is how our insight of impermanence becomes part of our being and our daily experience.

Continually, we have to maintain our insight of impermanence in order to accept life, people and events as they are and and not as we want them to be. No resistance, no fight, no frustration.Life becomes more manageable and solutions to problems must be considered eventually.

Using impermanence as a focusing object of our meditation, we will become familiar with it and it will be inside us every day.

With this practice, impermanence becomes a key part of our life and we discover that it is an integral part of fundamental reality.

Most of the time we behave –subconsciously- as if people, events, feelings will stay as they are now. The list is infinite: kids, relationship, job, health, house, goods, environment, peace, Earth and so on will remained as they are. This list also includes our positive and negative feelings. Love, anger, fear, worries, nostalgia, hatred, beliefs, etc..all change all the time.

Our mind activity is changing non-stop 24/7  with around 90 to 100 thousands thoughts/day.

Therefore we do not value 100% each moment because we have this illusion of permanency.

Knowing that impermanence is permanent or everything is transient is helping us to appreciate good things, events and people right now.

You may ask: what about bad moments and negative emotions? Despite being painful, should we accept them too? Of course yes, but focusing on their transient features will help you to accept them and be patient rather than being mad or sad.

Nothing can escape from being transient: from the sub-particles in quantum physic to clouds, weather, and health good and bad stuff, the universe, you and me. Again, impermanence is a very good reality to focus on while meditating.

At this very moment, this talk is finished that is transient and all of us are already different entities from few min. ago at the beginning of the talk.

Thank you all. Sunim

#269 Meditation: material & immaterial focus points May 4 – 19

                 Meditation on material & immaterial focus points

The opposite of meditation is mental distraction since, apart from few moments of concentration

during the day, we are distracted by around 90,000 thoughts on a daily basis. In other words,we are not just talking to ourselves all the time but we are also our own  faithful listeners. Very weird.

Focus points during meditation, also called anchors, can be either material or immaterial.

Material & immaterial anchors are infinite. We use them one at a time to slow down our train of thoughts.

Meditation using a material focus point or anchor.

Material anchors can be- breathing-candle-mantra-sound- doors, trees, blue sky, a brook, etc.

As we begin mindfulness meditation practice, the discipline is to bring our relentless mind to slow down by enhancing its awareness on an material object usually breathing. By doing so, we expect our mind to stay there. If we become distracted, which is always the case, we simply force our mind to go back to the focus target. Give our monkey mind the job of remaining focused, in a mindful way, on the subject and stopping jumping around endlessly is the prime goal of meditation. By doing so, we experience, consciously the reality of the moment, the only existing time and the only moment when and where we are alive. No matter what and how our mind is jumping around, we can always return its attention to the material object of the meditation. This is anchoring. As said, our breath is the #1 focusing point and material object for meditation because it is here all the time, because breathing is the only vital function of our body that we can control consciously and because breathing out produces a powerful calming effect.

Other material focus points can be anything. Using one of our 5 senses is the only way to go.

Sight for colors, hearing for music/sounds/noises, tasting, touching, smelling.Whatever the material anchor used, it is critical to pay attention in a mindful way. I will come back  at the end to this important skill.

Meditation  using  an immaterial focus point or anchor:

Anchoring our mind on thoughts and feelings is far more challenging that using  material anchor.

The main reasons are: 1) the object is virtual and 2) because it is very difficult to remain a non-analytic and non-emotional while focusing, in a mindful way, on a nostalgic event, a mistake of the past, or a worry of the future.

It is even more challenging to focus on a specific feeling w/o looking for the “why-what-when-how and why”! . For example, meditating on anger, fear, grief, anxiety, jealousy, desires, hatred, death w/o becoming ……emotional is very tricky but feasible with practice. In fact, mindfulness is a wonderful mental tool to learn to accept these feelings rather than ignoring, resisting or fighting against.

Mindfulness-based acceptance of what we are emotionally stuck with is some sort of “mental desensitization” similar to the one used in medicine  against allergies.

Final words:

Computers can do only 1 task at once ,as well our mind/brain cannot compute 2 thoughts at the same time. In other words he cannot focus on x and wanders at the same time on something else usually in the past or future. This is the key of meditation-based mind control.

Whatever the focus point you are using during meditation the following 3 fundamentals purposes should be repeated over and over:

      Focusing i.e. paying attention to x or y or z impose to our mind to slow down that is to become glued to one thought that is the anchor rather than producing zillions of thoughts in many space-time.

     To focus in a mindful way, that is passively w/o a discriminating mind, w/o analysis, judgment and decision regarding the object. Example: “I am worry about this…..and that’s okay” . This is acceptance.

      To experience the concrete reality of the moment that is the only existing space-time and the only time where we are alive. Being aware of this fact is being enlightened.

#268 The A,B,C…of Mindfulness meditation Sat. 27 Ap. 19

                        The A,B,C,………. of  mindfulness meditation

Mindfulness meditation is a challenging  physical and mental skill to grasp.

Here are  the key attributes, in alphabetic order, to consider. This list is not exhaustive.

ATTITUDE:   Attitude is a mental trait. Having an open mind is important to understand, consider and practice meditation. Meditation is still an alien activity for most Westerners.

APTITUDES:   Aptitudes are both mental and physical skills. In respect to meditation, the aptitude to stay still during several minutes is essential as well as trust and patience.

AWARENESS: This is a state of high consciousness.  Without it, meditation is impossible.

ACCEPTANCE: Accepting that the practice of meditation is very challenging and its quality can vary greatly from one session to the next. This is why, being non-judgmental about the quality of your practice is so important.      Many quit, like I did, because of negative judgment on the quality of their meditation. Practice does not affect the quality of meditation but will do on the quality of life.

BREATHING:  Breathing is the usual focus point that is the anchor we use to slow-down if not to control our wandering mind. With experience, the focus point can be anything

BACK: In Zen we say: “ Straight back, straight mind; still back, still mind

You will focus far better when the back is straight and still, even on a chair away  from the back of it.

CONFIDENCE:  Trusting your practice is challenging especially when its lousy and when we have no time because “no time” is always the first excuse

COMPASSION: Don’t judge  yourself if you miss your session or if, one day, you cannot meditate the way you want. Happens all the time. Just let it go.

CUMULATIVE: The practice of meditation is cumulative regardless its quality. You will discover that controlling emotions and vision of life will improve greatly with time.

DAILY: The optimal way (see cumulative) to practice. Few min. will do.

DETERMINATION: Not easy to keep. Up to 90% of new comers quit meditation within 3 months.

DISCIPLINE: Like determination, discipline is a state of mind. W/o it , no meditation is possible.

EFFICIENCY:    See “Cumulative”. Meditation is efficient and effective physically, mentally and emotionally. But it is not a quick fix. Scientific proofs are numerous.

EMPTY MIND:  Does not exist literally & figuratively. Quieter mind is a better expression.

EYES: To stay fully awake, it is advised to keep eyes semi open and looking down 3 to 4 feet away w/o staring or analyzing.

FOCUSING:  …..in a mindful way i.e. No analysis, no judgment, no decision. We call this: Thinking thoughtlessly.

FINDING TIME:  We always find time for priorities, never for what we perceive are not. Finding no time to meditate is a bad sign. Quitting is coming.

GROUNDING:   The closer to the ground, the better. This is why a mat & meditation cushion are recommended. I will advise you where to get them.

GROUP: Group practice is more powerful than the solo one. Weekly is the rule. Retreats are excellent.

NON JUDGEMENTAL: Very important. Just do it bad or good, good or bad, excited or down.

ONCE A WHILE: Meditating when we feel like it is a waste of time. Quite.

ON-THE-GO: Being mindful few min. on something ,several times a day is an excellent exercise.

OBJECTIVES:    Its physical, mental and emotional impacts are achieved via

     1) Experiencing current reality, the only time where you are alive 

     2) Taming the mind.

3) And, eventually, serenity.

PATIENCE: Not a problem if you have the determination.

SILENCE: Silence is a wonderful and powerful anchor to quiet the mind.

SOLO:  Daily solo practice demands organization, dedication and discipline.

WANDERING MIND: The mind will always wander while meditating. Just let go the thought and go back to the anchor.

WALKING:  An excellent way to tame the mind by focusing on each step at slow pace.

#267 LETTING GO Ap. 20 19

                       Letting go

With different wording this is the forth talk over the last 5 years about letting go because it is a difficult but important skill to learn and master.

The most efficient trap to get a monkey is the box with a small round hole in front and a large banana inside.  The monkey grabs the banana but cannot get out while holding the banana.

He cannot let go because he wants, at all cost, keep and eat the banana.

Most monkeys learn quickly and don’t get trapped because they are too smart.

They realize that, releasing the banana will be painful for their ego and hunger but it will make them free.  We, humans, are very close to the trapped monkeys because, we too, don’t want and don’t know how to let go a thought, an emotion or an action x, y, z because of the feeling of backing up, failure or weakness and cowardice.

This is weird because we all know that, in order to find some peace of mind and happiness we just have to let go many things glued in our minds especially if we are right.

Like all simple advises, letting go is very challenging because, as said before, it is part of our identity and self-defense mechanism.

One of the reasons that it is so difficult to let go is that we have to release of something with is perceived to be part of us it is like a lost, even if we realize that this “something” can be detrimental.

If you think about yourself, you will realize that we are holding zillion of things that we don’t want to let go.

     Most of them are stored in our subconscious like a safe in our mind. Often…….

     We have to let go of some of our ego reactions, our neuroses, or mistakes.

     We have to let go of some of our habits, addiction, mind-set and useless judgments.

     We have to let go of our unrealistic desires, anger, anxiety, fear, grief, failures, nostalgia, and on and on .It can be difficult or even impossible to erase these things out of our mind.

So: What to do?

What we need to do, first, is let go of our understanding about letting go. As I said earlier, letting go is not a sign of failure, weakness or cowardice. In fact, it is a sign of being a smart monkey.

To find peace and happiness, we don’t have to actively fight, release or mentally erase things from our mind. This is active elimination and this is not letting go. The effort is too demanding.

Trying to erase a strong attachment will never work because the emotional bond is too powerful.

The closer we are with this attachment, habit, thought or emotion the stronger it becomes.

Compare this with 2 magnets getting closer. The attraction gets stronger when the magnets are closer to each other’s. 

Letting go is allowing the banana trap to leave your mind and not you to leave the trap.

Like for any negative emotions, we have to realize that we are strongly attached, then that we have to accept the fact w/o trying to fight with.

Only after acceptance, things will go on their own and the magnets are moving away from each other. To let go is like acting like a mirror. A mirror reflects everything without passing judgement or getting stuck with the images that appear on its surface. It lets things come and go.

Although we should be mirrors reflecting things as they go, we are also participants interacting with things, people and environment.

Letting things go does not mean that we should withdrawn and not interact with the surrounding world. Our attachments to anger, desire, behavior and ego tricks come all the time and they will go

if we just reflect to them as they are.

There are even situations where we are 100% right and giving up your action, thoughts, position or goal will be inappropriate if not wrong. Letting go them become very hard if not impossible.

Again, when we talk about letting go we are talking about dealing with our emotional reactions in order to act is a more appropriate and constructive way.

Accepting  them w/o trying to fight or be attached is letting go. At this point you will release the banana and become a happy monkey.

Thank you

#266 MATRIX movies & ZEN philosophy Apr. 14th 19

                                             The
Matrix movies: an allegory to Zen Buddhism philosophy

It took 4 years for the brothers Wachoskis to find a studio and cast to produce this very ambitious Trilogy made of theology, religions, philosophy and cyber science. Hollywood found it too intellectual.

Here are 6 allegories related to Zen philosophy

     The name NEO is an anagram.

Neo
Neo is an anagram of the word “ONE. “or the Savior is other religions. In fact, Neo is referred to as The One throughout many parts of the film. How does this relate to Zen Buddhism? Eastern philosophy reflects the notion that all living beings are one entity forming the world. It’s true that Neo doesn’t exactly show his most peaceful side throughout the film, but, being the chosen one to deliver humans from the bondage of their  minds does elevate him to a sort of messianic status and to become the
teacher for a better free world with less suffering.
This is similar to Buddha’s teaching.
Awakening in the real world.
As the founder of Buddhism in 520BC, Siddhartha Gautama known as
the Buddha meaning “the awakened one.” His mean teaching was
“to wake up by escaping our mind-made illusions”. Morpheus also is asking his people to wake up that is to escape the AI-made Matrix virtual reality.
Much of The Matrix involves Neo/Mr. Anderson coming to terms with the fact that the world he lives in is a mind-made illusion created by this super AI and that he must wake up and escape so he can experience the true world or genuine reality as opposed to the computerized cyber virtual reality called the Matrix. This true world does not mean bliss as Agent Smith said.
Our modern world is more and more computer-based virtual reality controlling our behaviors, thinking and emotions. One of the main teachings that Morpheus tells Neo is that the world in which his alter  ego Mr. Anderson – and us-  live in the Matrix, sort of Super AI  cyber-world made of virtual reality supposed to be perfect but it is the  opposite. The Matrix gets its energy from humans body encapsulated  in pods. He tells him that this AI cyber world is an illusion, a pseudo  reality generated by powerful programs affecting or minds. The minds of human trapped in the Matrix simply absorbs external signals generated by the AI thru sight, heating, touch, smell, taste. These minds then computerizes and interpret these external data to finally creates an artificial world on their own as a sort of virtual reality in which they believe.
This is exactly what Zen is Teaching. We are leaving, most of the day, in a mind-made virtual and imaginary world made of desires, hatred, emotions, past and future. Zen calls this state “ Day sleep walking” or “Zombie behavior” . We behave, most of the time, on auto-pilot whereas our mind is elsewhere doing something else. Neo was freed to protect the world, release others from their mind prisons and prevent further suffering (what Buddhism refers to as “Samsara”).
Impermanence: The idea of someone is dying or will in a material sense is common to our beliefs. Biological death is final for most f us. But are we dying in an imaginary world? Is our physical death final? Does our incarnated consciousness comes at birth and leaves at death? During Neo’s training, he is taken to the top of a skyscraper. Failing the first time and plunging to the ground, he is extracted from the matrix world and re-emerges in the real world. Noticing his mouth is bleeding (despite the training occurring in a virtual realm), he questions Morpheus. I thought it wasn’t real,” he states.
 “Your mind makes it real,” replied Morpheus. This, again brings to light the Buddhist ideas of how important the mind is. By training it, resting it and controlling it
 (via mindfulness meditation) we can escape  our self-made matrix and its deceptive illusions.
Rebirth One of the most recognizable beliefs about Zen Buddhism is the belief that a person will reborn after their physical body expires, cycles after cycles.
Indeed, The Matrix features the rebirth of Neo twice.

Final words
Do our 5 senses and brain bio-electrical interpretation is telling us the true i.e. the genuine reality of the moment? Maybe, maybe  not.
Go back to the scene where the little boy is bending a spoon and tells Neo there is no spoon.
 In my opinion, Agent Smith ( a program) is right, saying the same thing than the Buddha: we, humans do create a mind-made world of suffering for ourselves.
But Morpheus is also right: we can exit this world of suffering by controlling it .
Maybe what our brain /mind perceives as reality is only an illusion but we cannot
prove it.       .    

 
 
 
 
 
 

#265 HOW TO BE FRIEND WITH SELF Part 2 March 30 19

 The Path to be friend with self: Knowing, Accepting, Loving. Part 2

 The way our minds works is always by opposites and contrast—good-bad, up-down, in-out, right-wrong black or white etc.—so what we see positively simultaneously provide of the opposite.

That contrast is challenging but it is where the real work of to be friend with yourself begins.

As we practice, we uncover our layers and layers of ideas about ourselves. It is clear that we are accepting some aspects of ourselves and rejecting others. Some parts of us are so well hidden away that we can pretend they are not there at all. Friendship with self is reduced to like and dislike.

The challenge of the path of meditation is to continually expand the bounds of our heart, of our love and friendship. We start with ourselves by simply looking inside like a flash light looking in the dark.

We come up against our fear of opening up to our negative views about ourselves.

We also come up against the opposite that is our arrogance.

By taking a mindful and honest look at the kinds of thoughts and feelings we have about self, we learn about the limits we place on our friendship with self and others.

Why meditation can be useful in our self-discovery?

This meditative path is one of greater acceptance. We are learning to accept and befriend not just the parts we like of course, but also the parts o we dislike /hatred as well. Sometimes we identify with only our acceptable side, with our successes, and at other times we identify with our flaws and failures.

But as our meditation practice progresses, we become the watcher, the observer of our stream of thoughts and opinions. Rather than clinging to one positive or one negative trait, we find we do not need to fixate on either extreme. We are all those things, and our experience is constantly in flux.

Of course, there will always be aspects of ourselves we like and those we dislike, aspects we are proud of and other aspects we are ashamed of. But the more clearly we come to know all these aspects, the more we are able to accept and relax.  Instead of seeing parts of self, we discover the whole self as it is. You don’t fight anymore with yourself because you are signing a peace treaty with yourself. In fact, we may discover that our failures and flaws are more powerful teachers than our successes

With the benefit of sitting practice without overthinking or trying to fix anything right away, we become clearer and less emotional about our strengths, weaknesses, our accomplishments, failures, our obstacles and our breakthroughs.

Coming to appreciate ourselves in this way doesn’t mean we become complacent, egoistic or narcissistic.  Accepting our extremes doesn’t mean that we cannot make decisions about what is beneficial, what is harmful and how to fix ourselves.We should not take it too seriously or even personally, it is just information. Now, when we meditate, we do so from a realistic perspective and from a feeling of warmth and friendship. Meditation practice is almost like a courtship with ourselves.

We become less defensive. We make discoveries and experience breakthroughs. It is hard to cut through our fantasies and take a realistic look at ourselves, but it is also a big relief.

There is something very enjoyable about the whole process. We find that the more aspects of ourselves we welcome the lighter we feel about self. The burden of self-protection is a heavy one, and it feels good to let it go. We are more likeable without this self-protective shield shield.

Final words:

There is no particular end point to the process of making friend with yourself. It can be a life time quest and no rush is required.

But there is a wonderful spill over: each time you accept and open your heart to yourself you become a bit more open to those around you. As you develop a base of friendship with yourself, the quality of your daily social relationship will enhance.

With meditation practice, you are simultaneously taming the mind and opening the heart. It is so simple and natural: from interest comes knowing, from knowing comes acceptance, and from acceptance comes love.

It is impossible to express empathy and compassion to others w/o starting with self. Enjoy the wonderful quest to self-discovery.

#264 HOW TO BE FRIEND WITH SELF March 17-19 Part 1

                                               Being friend with our self. Part 1

“What am I?” is a classic koan given to Zen students to solve.  What do we really know about ourselves.?

We put many different masks depending of the circumstances and goals. There are so many choices. Our participation in this social game of appearances can become so second nature to us that we hardly notice it. Apart from all these appearances, who am I really? Do I actually know? We also might wonder, do I really want to know? We are afraid of what we might find out. Are we friends with ourselves? Are we accepting self as it is, notwithstanding that improvements are always possible. Are we creating a self before even knowing the self?

Because of our Western education & culture, ego-centered mentality to be the best, to win, control and achieve perfection, self-doubt and poor self-image are very frequent and we need constant reassurance thru achievements such as work, money, control, loved ones and friends.

Strangely, although you are your most intimate companion your true self is hidden deep.

So the process of making friend with yourself goes to know yourself at a deeper, almost spiritual level far beyond its mundane profile

To truly make friends with yourself, you need to remove all social masks that you are using since young age. This journey of truly making friend with yourself is a difficult and tricky one since one has to avoid being too self-centered and narcissist.

It goes beyond simply feeling good about you, and it is not based on convincing yourself of anything or being convinced by others.  This journey of deep friendship with self does not rely on credentials or affirmations but on a tender step-by-step process of opening yourself to yourself in the most natural way. It happens on the path of meditation because this intimate quest of self- discovery has nothing to do with better insight or analytic and cognitive thinking such as CBT or psychoanalysis.

Simply just sit with nothing to do and no one to impress. This step is all about being curious, inquisitor and the longing to meet yourself at a deeper level. No mind set. It will end-up that what you will discover be reliable, true, genuine, worthy and that too many of your flaws are a mind-set distorted view.

We are taught how our thoughts capture us, and how we can simply let them come and go like clouds in the sky.

We are encouraged to be steady as our emotional states rise and fall, rather than being jerked up and down by every roller coaster passing moods.

In short, we are encouraged to take a fresh look at our experience. In the context of making friends with yourself, starting fresh means that we drop all our ideas of who you are or who you should be and just look in a mindfully way. (You could also try this approach when you meet a new acquaintance—pause for a moment, instead of instantly sizing them up, and try to see that person with fresh eyes.)

There is a quality of tenderness in meditation practice. It is a mental open window and you catch a glimpse of something trustworthy and good within yourself. That glimpse awakens a longing within you.

You know you have discovered something valuable and you want to figure out how to go further with it.

You realize that you have tapped into an inner dynamism or force for growth.Although you might have many such glimpses, they usually come and go.

They tend to be not only brief but subtle, and because such glimpses are not all that graspable, self-doubt easily creeps back in. You are pretty sure you are onto something good, but maybe it’s too good to be true. At the same time, without your familiar masks and credentials, you feel a bit naked and groundless because what you discover is not what you thought about yourself.