They are called seals because there are the landmarks of Buddha 50 years verbal teaching. They are SUFFERING, IMPERMANENCE, NO-SELF and NIRVANA. They represent the 4 standing blocks of his philosophy. Everything else rests on them.These words seem weird, complex and esoteric but we will see how logical and useful they are in our daily life. Meditation will help you to discover and experience them. We will see also that they are deeply related and interconnected.
We all have an individual consciousness (IC) that is a state of awareness even if most of the time we behave in our life on an auto pilot mode with our mind wandering around continuously and usually not been in the present moment.
In addition to our individual consciousness we are also part of a collective consciousness (CC). In our very individualistic society CC is not mentioned very often and yet this global consciousness is very important and probably is affecting us probably far more than we think or want. Just as Internet is made up of millions of individual sites and as the universe is composed of billion of individual stars CC is made up of billion of ICs from all living beings. There is no Internet without individual site and there is no individual site without Internet. The same can be applied to consciousness: there is no CC without the individual ones and vise versa. Furthermore CC contains all IC components and IC contains all elements of the collective consciousness.
Words are wonderful thinking and communication tools and we are addicted to them non stop.
1- We are thinking through words. No other choice.
Words are the fuel of our mind producing our thoughts, concepts, ideas and opinions. No word, no mind.
When we think we talk to ourselves and we talk to ourselves all the time during day and night (dream)
2- We are communicating with words. No other choice. Listening, talking, writing and reading.
In short we are words slaves, rapped with them by necessity.
Unfortunately words are also very powerful and deceptive instruments to dissociate ourselves from others and to be fooled by our mind.
At the same time improper or displaced words can be the basic building blocks to improper communication. They can be lethal weapons not only to the receivers but also to the senders and they cannot be retrieved.
How often during the day we are “sleep walking” doing things from pure habits, conventions and routine? How often are we in auto pilot mode submitted to our ongoing thoughts like thinking zombies? The answer is almost all the time.
There is nothing wrong to follow our daily routine but it should be within a certain limit. To wake up from it will help us to realize who we really are. When we always act from our habits, we are like an old record that has become stuck in a groove and is repeating the same song over and over again endlessly. Physically we are, most of the time, on cruse mode without paying too much attention to what we are doing or saying at the present moment since our mind is firing continuously thoughts after thoughts making us thinking zombies living most of the time in the past and more often in the future.
Zen teachers are infamous for suddenly saying, answering and doing crazy things. They are doing this to shock their students and bring them out of their habitual cocoon state of mind towards the immediacy and beauty of the spontaneous present moment that is NOW. When Zen Masters intuitively or consciously respond in a bizarre, funny, incomprehensible, stupid and even somewhat provocative, rude or disrespectful way, students do not know whether to be insulted, lost, angry, puzzled or simply amused. They suddenly don’t know how to react and what to do. These reactions are expected and teachers know that very well.
The 6 Realities of life that our ego centered mind is distorting all the time:
Nothing lasts including self. Good & bad stuff are transient. This is part of Life & Evolution. Without the endless circle of birth & death Life & Evolution would not exist. Believing otherwise is an illusion.
Nothing can becontrolled including self (body/mind). Believing otherwise is an illusion.
Only now (present) Past and future are very useful inventions but remain illusions.
No living being has a permanent, independent, unique and separate self-entity. This is what Zen Buddhist calls “emptiness” or empty of self entity. We are all interconnected & interrelated, dependent of Nature & the Universe to survive. Global consciousness is made of all individual ones and each individual one is a component of the collective one. Believing otherwise is an illusion.
Life, people, events, things and environment are what they are and not what our ego mind wants them to be. Believing otherwise is an illusion.
Our ego centered mind is the main source of our illusions, unhappiness, dissatisfaction, suffering causing attachments, desire, fear, anger, resentment and negative emotions, etc. Meditation (pillar # 1 below) will help us to control this beast. Believing otherwise is an illusion.
Are we behaving like Easter Bunnies? From a rabbit mind to a Zen mind
We are spending most of our life searching continuously for “outside happiness”, running around like 7.244 billions * “Easter rabbits” looking for one egg after another, all lifelong with an endless and never satisfied appetite. We become slave of our craving, desire, expectation, and attachments and totally captive of our ego centered over thinking.
We are even worse than these cute little rabbits!
We regret the past dearly and worry about the future all the time as if they really do exist.
We believe in our subconscious level that everything is permanent and that each of us has a unique and separate self entity.
We have these pretentious and crazy illusions of being in control of our life and of almost every around us. BUT do we really control anything or something?
Over the last 30 years or so meditation – like yoga – is enjoying huge interest as THE holy grail which is going to solve every personal problem such as stress, anxiety, sexual dysfunctions, poor self image, chronic fatigue, poor relationships, better mental concentration and many more.Based on unofficial figures the numbers of North American centers offering meditation courses increased by x100-150 over the last 30 years! Why such an explosive trend?
We can identified 5 main reasons:
The demand is very strong especially for adults in their the mid forties and older
The teaching of meditation is not regulated opening the door to charlatans and pseudo-experts.
The business of teaching meditation can be very lucrative.
Being Oriental in its origin the practice of meditation carries some sort of exotic, divine and mysterious flavor with the expectation that it may produce unique skills to the student.
Meditation has been very well advertised with the help of marketing experts:
Advertising for meditation courses and retreats locally and also online is promising automatic happiness, well being, total relaxation, great self image, job promotion, weight control and even enlightenment! This is exactly what most of us want and are dreaming about.
Advertising guaranties that these dream goals will be achieved rapidly.
Finally advertising claims that the student will not have to make too much effort.
These 5 factors and the fact that we are always looking for a quick fix with the least effort is a perfect guaranty of success for those who teach meditation but not necessarily so for those who pay for the courses.
Think about it. During several minutes we sit still like a statue and focus on our body, on our mind anchor and incoming thoughts like a drill digging into the mystery of our inner self. This daily meditative exercise is just the opposite of what is happening during the day since during the day, continuously and without our knowledge our mind jumps from one thought to another and our body is moving all the time. We are in constant motion physically and mentally without being totally mindful to our thoughts. Therefore as we settle into sitting meditation, our drill bit can be perceived as very dull, frozen and totally useless. When our drill bit is dull, meditation becomes dull and boring. Meditation is simply perceived to be boring but in fact meditation is neither boring nor exiting or anything, meditation is just what it is. Only the meditator is bored.