When we talk about self-care, we usually referring to proper diet, exercise and sleep. This is only part of global self-care.
In Zen, however, self-care is an oxymoron. Why?
A fundamental teaching of Zen Buddhism is the concept of “no-self”. No-self does not mean that we don’t exist as living being. This is absurd. It means simply that the self is not a unique, permanent, independent, separate self-entity with a self-intrinsic life. We are all interconnected and interdependent with our environment, which is providing life to us.
Our ego or self has 2 faces. The constructive/positive and the destructive/negative one.
The good self is critical to grow, to survive, to have pleasure, and to function and interact properly.
No brainer here.
The bad self: Ego is our main source of “pain”, affliction we all have in common. Because of our restlessness quest to get this and that, to be better, smarter, stronger, richer, we are stuck by nagging feeling of frustration, weariness and self-doubt.
Too many desires, hatred, irrational expectations and illusions are all coming from our ego-driven mind. (more…)
Most of us start to practice Zen mindfulness-based meditation because of problems such as dissatisfaction, unhappiness, physical/emotional pain and disillusion or for any other specific reasons happening in life. These reasons are called “suffering”.
“Maybe Zen meditation is going to fix my problems and make me happy”.
Internet and books are full of this statement and I am hearing these words very often.
Unfortunately, it never works because we are mistaken about the true cause of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction. External causes inducing “suffering” do occur but they are minority and are transient.
Everything we do in life is driven by only one thing and that is to seek happiness and avoid suffering. But what is happiness? Happiness is not one thing but a continuum and evolves as the person evolves. For simplicity, we can consider this evolution to be made up of four stages of the emotional mind state and it moves from the gross to the more subtle. These four stages can be classified as Pleasure, Happiness Joy and Bliss or Serenity.
At the Pleasure level, the mind operates at the lowest level of the five senses of the human body. Even animals operate at this level of the five senses. However, pleasure is transient and needs constant inputs from external sources. For example, if one likes alcohol then regular inputs of alcohol are required. This is how our reward brain circuits work. (more…)
Black, White and Shades of Grey by Harish member of our Sat. group
In our journey through life, we are constantly making decisions and passing judgments on one issue or another. The result of this process subjects us to emotional highs and lows. So how do we cope with the suffering brought on by this roller coaster ride of emotions and thoughts?
For around 30 long years Buddha meditated on this issue to find an answer to human suffering. He contemplated on the two paths that a person could follow. One was the path of punishment whereby a person denied himself the fulfillment of his desires and the pleasures of this world. The other path was one of indulgence. It was “live it up” attitude – eat what you want, buy what you want, do what you want and fulfill the desires of the senses.
In Zen Buddhism, desire (I want), it opposite hatred (I don’t want)and illusion are considered our 3 main roots of unhappiness, struggle, disappointment and dissatisfaction because they are directly related to our ego-mind.
Many think that Zen spiritual life must be free from desire. This is misunderstanding Zen message.
Desire and hatred is day-to-day ongoing reality. Getting rid off our desires and hatred is impossible because our ego mind loves to dream.
As soon you wake up you want to sleep a bit more.
As soon you go to bed, you want, most of the time, to fall asleep fast.
At 4 PM even sooner, you want to go home and so on.
Being mindful to nothingness. This is one of these weird, and obscure wordings frequently found in Zen literature. How can we be mindful to nothing since being mindful is to focus on something x, y, z w/o analytic, discriminating or judgmental decision? What is nothing?
Here are few examples:
Can you do “nothing”? “Is nothing something?”
Can you thing about “nothing”?
Can an empty cup or gas tank being, beside air, full of nothing?