#261 How & when DOES our EGO FEED itself? Feb. 24 19

                           How and when does our ego feed itself?

Ego means “I”. It is the mental symbol of how we see ourselves physically mentally and emotionally.”

It is our immaterial self-entity and self-image hidden deep in our subconscious and emerging during emotional storms..

Our self-entity is crucial to survive and function at all levels.

It is the root of “I want, I don’t want, I am fighting.”

To control, to enjoy, to hate, to analyze, to judge, etc…are all actions & emotions driven, by definition, from our self-centered ego.

Despite being immaterial our ego, like anything else, needs some sort of energy.

Where is this immaterial energy coming from?

Being essentially self-centered, our emotions and feelings are back-feeding our ego.

He (ego) loves to generate feelings/emotions because, not only they boost and provide food to the ego but also because we believe –subconsciously- that our emotions/feelings define our identity as much as our biological and social identity in our day-to-day routine.

Our ego lives and feeds itself from the permanent emotional roller coaster made of “I want”, “I don’t want”, my anger, my fear, my nostalgia, my guilt, my past, my future, my thoughts, my pleasure, my pain, my judgments, my expectation, me vs. the others and many many more “I, me, myself, mine”.

Here are classical day-to-day examples:

“I am angry at you because you did not tell me….”

This anger is, by definition, self-centered – this you and not some body else- and this anger represents also the energy fuelling the ego. It cannot be otherwise. The more angry we are, the more ego-driven self-centered we are. If we did not have an ego, anger would not exist and we would not react with emotion.

“ I am upset because I did not get what I want”

“I am fearful about the future”

“ I regret the past. It was more fun those days”  Etc…..No point to list zillions of examples.

They are all identical: ego triggers + and – emotion, + & – emotion feeds and boosts the ego and self-image.

This is a vicious Catch22. This is why it is so difficult not to fall in this trap. We all do.

In fact, the more angry I am, the better my ego feels. All of this is subconscious.

So, how to get out this vicious circle?

Shunryu Suzuki gave his usual ironic answer to a student asking, “ How much ego do we need?  He replied: “Just enough to cross the street without being hit by a bus”. Typical  Zen irony

Like for anything else, a proper balance between too much and not enough ego is the solution.

It has been showed over and over that huge ego and not enough of it do not bring happiness but rather suffering.

When you are reacting emotionally or when negative feelings are popping out of your mind, try to pause and become the observer rather than being a victim trying to fight back. It means do not react.

It means saying to yourself: “OK, I am accepting”. Accepting does not mean to be weak or coward but to control the emotional hurricane, which will blow you away.  

Easy to say but very hard to master because our emotional brain centers react 20 to 30 times faster than our rational one localized in our prefrontal cortex. Mindfulness is the tool to use. Watch w/o judgment,

w/o decision. Learn to mind the mind. If you can do it for 1 or 2 min. you will notice that the sudden emotional flame is down.

If we react and fight about something, we are adding fuel to your ego. This is, again, the vicious circle.

Our Western culture is brainwashing us about having a strong personality, to fight, to resist and to win all the time. Eastern culture is far less dogmatic, more philosophical, and, probably somewhat wiser.

Like for anything else in Zen philosophy, the ego is like a coin. It has 2 sides and w/o 2 sides the coin or the ego cannot exist.  A proper balance between the good ego and the bad must be achieved.

The good one is giving us joy, the bad one …pain. As long as we accept this balance, we are dong OK.

THANK YOU Oakville Zen Team

#260 OUR SOUNDLESS VOICE Feb. 17th 19

                            Our soundless voice 

This soundless voice comes from our brain- mind in the form of thoughts and feelings either positive or negative.

Between 70,000 and 150,000/day. This inner voice is continuous and, coming from our own mind, we are, therefore, talking to ourselves and, on the top of that, we are also faithful listeners to what we are saying to ourselves. Because the talker and the listener are the same person and coming from the same mind, we strongly believe in our inner soundless fictional voice. Crazy situation! Of course we do need to think when judgments and decisions must be taken in our day-to-day activities but these decisional thoughts represent a very small proportion of this silent and relentless mind-made sound track.

Zen teaching is very clear on this wacky phenomenon:  “Watch your mind all the time and don’t trust all its thoughts and feelings, since many of them are ego driven, or just dreams and w/o decision “

This is mindfulness in action.

Here are several “recordings” of our mind-made ego-driven inner voice followed by their Zen replies.

I want happiness as much as I can & as often as possible says my little voice.

——Zen: Being happy is fine but seeking ongoing search for happiness, material or not will never stop.  This ongoing, never ended search is, by definition, the antithesis of happiness.

I must resist and fight my negative emotions such as anger, fear, grief, resentment, boredom, anxiety, negative judgment. Etc. says the inner voice.

——-Zen: On the contrary. If you do so, you are feeding energy to your negative emotions and pain will increase. This pain is self-created as long as your unobserved mind runs your life. The pain that we created    is almost always some form of non-acceptance and subconscious resistance to your feelings. Accepting them is key if you want to deal with them effectively.

I am thinking therefore I am says the little voice. Descartes said that 400 years ago and we believe that.

——–Zen: Not so. When you observe your thoughts you are achieving a higher level of consciousness.  You then discover that thoughts are just that and represent only a little part of yourself Rather then believing that you are our thoughts and feelings, be the awareness and observer of them. By doing so, you realize that you not the thoughts but an independent entity from them.

I am in control of my life says the voice.

——–Zen: Only a tiny part of it. It is just a wishful thinking. We don’t control anything such as events and people. Trying to master this outside world is a great source of frustration & unhappiness

I am missing the past and regret dearly my previous mistake says the voice.

——–Zen: The past is dead. Accept it rather then being prisoner of your past all the time.

I am anxious and worried about the future says the voice.

——–Zen: Of course, planning is necessary but the future is not born and still fictional. Negative feelings about its potential events are also a tool of our mind to upset our present moment and making it miserable.

Consider past/present as very efficient tools of the mind to control you and spoiling the present moment, the only reality whatever exiting or mundane.

I am unhappy most of the time says the silent  voice.

——–Zen: We believe people, events and situations are causing suffering, dissatisfaction and unhappiness but, ultimately, this is not so. Our resistance and non-acceptance to them are the real culprits since most of these outside factors are not in our control.

Things can last; I have time says the voice.

———Zen: Nothing , good or bad, lasts forever. Only ongoing change is permanent and everything is transient.

For many reasons, I don’t like too much myself says the soundless voice.

———Zen: Because of our education to push for better insight and self-criticism, poor self-image is an endemic disease in our Western world. Fixing our flaws is one thing to be done but suffering from an permanent poor-self image is counter productive, even destructive. Accept yourself as you are and don’t identify yourself with your negativities. Rather, express self-compassion and empathy. It will help you greatly to do the same for others.

#259 EGO: Best friend & worse enemy Jan. 26th 19

                        Our ego: best friend and worse enemy

Definition:   Our opinion and perception of ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally and socially.It is our own created self-image with its positive and negative components, which can be true or false.By definition, our ego takes everything personally whether the causes are right or wrong.

Like an iceberg, most of our ego is submerged deep into our subconscious mind and, yet, its poweris such that our day-to-day behaviors such as physical, mental and emotional are almost totally under its control. Ego is like a coin. It has 2 sides. They are entangled and one cannot exist w/o the other one. What is good and what is bad?

What is good about our ego?

It is our best friend. Without it, our survival, our body- mental-emotional functions and our numerous daily functions would be impossible. Without the powerful protective shield of our ego, we would not survive in this demanding/changing world.

There are no points to enumerate all beneficial values of our ego.

What is bad about our ego?

Being over protective and a relentless fighter, our ego is also our worse enemy. This is the other side of the coin.

This second aspect of the ego is more important to deal with than the first one because knowing its negative attributes is the only way to minimize its impacts and to get inner serenity.

Imagine your ego being a silent octopus with multiple sprawling arms:

1) Shield and scaffold to protect our self-entity, 2) Mighty warrior to conquer, to control, to convince, to fight and to win, 3) A mask that we put to act in different roles such as family, and socio-professional,  4) and finally, a very powerful hacker of our own mind.

The power of our ego to hack our mind is extremely efficient. Here are some tricks used by our ego-mind.

1 Its most used and effective tool to hack our mind is by creating emotions whatever positive or negative and to create infinite illusions, delusions and unrealistic expectations. Our ego-driven emotions are the best trick to control us, and our ego-mind loves to control us using emotions as weapon.

Examples: He is a master in creating poor self-image, negative feelings such as anger, fear, resentment, grief, jealousy, worries and many more. All of them are addictive even if we want to get rid-off them.

2 The second effective tool of our ego-mind is to create and maintain a mind-set full of opinions, ideas intolerance, and judgments. We feel “good” about them but at the same time this mind-set is a trap.  This is why Zen cultivates the opposite that is an “Open mind also called “No mind”

3 The third tool to hack us is to transport us into the past and future in which we believe that we exist.

4 The forth weapon of the ego is to create this false notion that we are a permanent, unique, independent, separate and self-sustained entity. All of this is not true. We are all interdependent. These illusions create a feeling of separateness from others, if not loneliness.

5 The fifth weapon of our ego-mind is probably the most important because it is the main source of our endless desires, craving, attachment, hatred and illusion/ delusion called ignorance. All of them are responsible of our unhappiness and dissatisfaction.

How to overcome our ego?

We cannot because, like the coin, it is impossible to remove one side w/o removing the other one.

The practice of meditation is a wonderful way to explore our ego and try to deal with it efficiently that is in a pragmatic way..

Here are few tricks that you can learn and use to minimize the negative or detrimental ego:Is it my ego thinking or doing this and why?   

1) Are “X” true reality or ego-made fiction?

2)  If it is my ego, is it the good or the bad one?

3)Accept yourself, your self-image and your negative feelings as they are such as anger, grief, worries, etc Improvements are possible as long as the emotional state is under control and acceptance is the key tool to achieve this goal.

4) Stop being offended or feeling that you are a victim or that you are always right or always wrong.

5)Letting go the following: control, being always right or thinking that you are, useless judgments, having more and more of this and that, identifying yourself with your achievements, being too often in past and future where you don’t exist practicing selfish behavior,

6)Accepting that events, people and the world are what they are and not what you want them to be.

7)Be empathic if not compassionate with yourself if you want to achieve the same with others.


#258: The nature of consciousness Jan. 20th 19

The Nature of Consciousness from the perspective of Eastern Philosophy

Just as the Bible and the Koran form the basis of Christian and Muslim beliefs, the Vedas ( literally means Books of Knowledge ) written by several saints and sages going back over 10,000 years ago, form the basis of Hinduism. The knowledge contained in the Vedas is collectively known as Vedanta.

Vedanta acknowledges the fact that all human beings come in this world with different personalities. The common thread which runs through each of these personalities is “Consciousness”. The consciousness can simply be understood as Energy. In fact, it is this energy that enlivens the three factors of the human personality.  These are:  the physical aspect, (body), the emotional or psychological aspect ( mind) and the thinking or rational aspect( intellect). To understand the relationship between the Consciousness, the body, emotions and thought aspect we can consider consciousness as the electrical energy that energizes the circuit of body, emotions and thought which, by themselves, are inert.

Our daily interaction in the world is based on what the mind, through its senses, sees, hears, feels or desires. Because the world around us is constantly changing, our mind is also in a constant state of flux.  This is the source of emotional turbulence. Twenty five hundred years ago, Buddha recognized this and based his teachings on the control of the mind.

So how can we manage this turbulence? The answer is meditation through mindfulness. One of the ways of doing it is to sit comfortably and observe our breath going in and out. One can substitute anything else as the anchor point of one’s meditation such as total darkness, the sounds of nature etc.  Thus the busy mind has something to do and does not go into its default settings of the past regrets and anxieties of the future. The trick is to be alert to the wanderings of the mind. As soon as you realize that it is wandering, immediately bring it back to the anchor point.

To summarize, the real us is the Consciousness which is pure, stable, eternal and unchanging. It is in a constant state of equanimity and balance. However, through ignorance, we identify ourselves with the Body and Mind (which are both always changing) and thus face the world of change and experience suffering and turbulence. Inner spiritual journey starts with “taming” the mind. We can achieve this by regular meditation.  Over a period of time of regular meditation, we develop this inner tranquility and equanimity which is our real Self. This is what the great spiritual masters have been advocating.

#257 USING OUR 5 SENSES TO “PAUSE” our restless mind Jan 13 19

                                   Using one of our 5 senses to “pause” our restless mind

Description of this short mindfulness on-the-go exercise:

Several times a day, pause, pick one of your 5 senses such as vision, hearing, touch, taste or smell and then, pay attention , at this precise moment, to a selected target. The mind/brain, being very sensitive to our 5 senses, has no other choice but to comply. You are pressing the pause key by shortening the circuits of our restless mind. By doing so, you will discover what you are failing to notice all day long.

Most of the time, the process is reversed because our attention is always dictated by what our mind is thinking. We are, as Zen says, on mind-made auto-pilot or automatic physical and mental behavior.


#256 Mindfulness meditation: how it works & what it does?

                                          Mindfulness Meditation: What it does & how it works?


Meditation: Sitting meditation technique that focus our attention, in a mindful way, on body

posture/sensations, breathing , environment and, after awhile, mental relaxation.

Mindfulness: focusing /paying attention to x, y, z w/o intention, analysis, judgment and decision.

Mindfulness meditation: Is recognized now as a special form of cognitive behavioral therapy in which

cognitive or analytic process is replaced by simple observation, that is reflecting things as they are

and not as we want them to be. It is acting like a like a mirror.

What makes mindfulness meditation different from other types of meditation is the absence of external instruments such as music, video, guidance or mantra. No gimmicks, you are on your own.

How the benefits of mindfulness meditation leading to self-awareness come from?


#255 The 8 PILLARS of Zen Philosophy & Practice Dec. 23th -18

The 8 pillars of Zen philosophy & practice

The following are not in specific order.

     1) Being mindful to the present moment and its content, the only existing reality.

That is to pay attention in a non-analytic and non-decisional way to the current and concrete reality of the NOW, the only reality that exists. In this space-time called NOW we experience true reality in many ways such as being mindful to our body, what we are doing, the use of our 5 senses to sense and scan our surrounding environment. Daydreaming in the past and future made of zillions of thoughts, feelings, regrets and expectations is definitely not Zen since they are the products of or restless mind and therefore pure virtual realities even if they exist.


#254 The practice of Meditation: to be or not to be Dec 16-18

   The practice of Meditation : to be or not to to be

During a 2014 retreat in France, famous Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh asked:

“ Do you want to know what meditation is all about?”

His students were eager for the answer.

“He said: “ The secret of meditation is “thoughtless thinking” that is focusing w/o analysis, w/o judgment and w/o decision. It is practicing mindfulness in its purest form that is JUST BE……JUST BE IN THE NOW


#253 WHAT A. EINSTEIN SAID about ZEN BUDDHISM Dec. 12th 18


 An interesting statement from a special mind.

“Zen Buddhism has the characteristics of what our modern world can expect for a so-called

“Universal religion” even if it is not a religion in its strict theological sense.

It transcends personal god or gods, avoids dogmas, theology, divinities, miracles and hierarchy.

It covers both the material and immaterial or spiritual worlds.

It is based from the connection, personal experience and empathy with all living beings and the world

around them, in a conscious mindful way, creating, therefore, a meaningful unity called “Oneness”, which will last forever and no one can explain.



#252 Meditation practice: difficulty, hesitation & doubt Dec 2nd 18

Meditation: difficulties, hesitation and doubts about our practice  Dec. 2nd 18

Maybe we have the will and good reasons such as dealing with our current issues to start meditation and keep doing it. Unfortunately, it does not work that way:

We simply are too busy with zillions of things on your plate to meditate.

We are lacking energy and discipline to sit still even for few min. every day and for many months.

We are struggling because our mind is constantly racing and we cannot control it as you wish and as

We have been told. Our mind is very talkative (~200,000 thoughts/day) and they cannot be stopped.

We doubt about meditation because you do not sense any immediate benefits from your ongoing

practice   and we don’t have the patience to wait for results.

We are finding many excuses to skip your group and solo practice and even decided to quit like 90%

of new comers after 3 months everywhere.

We don’t understand very well how meditation works or, even, we don’t believe in this Oriental practice.

Finally, we are, automatically judging negatively the quality of our meditation and its progress.