Where’s your center? Where’s your centre?

Sign of the times....

Sign of the (past) times….

 

In some ways, it seems like the ‘art of writing’ is dying. A hand written letter is the thing of fables now-a-days it seems. Spelling is auto-corrected as we go, so you just need to kinda get the word correct and that’s fine! (I always feel a little bummed at myself when the auto-correct has no clue what word I am trying to spell!). Of course, when I type the word color, I get a squiggly redline as I am using a British spell-check, not an American one.

When i write reports for work, I find a strong sense to hold on to my American spelling of things, like ‘analyze’ and ‘meter’. I think when I feel stressed, I am more likely to ‘go American’! This is because when stressed, we naturally get more defensive, and that means digging down into the basics of what we know and what is comfortable. When I write ‘center’ with intent, I allow myself to attach myself to the notion I have of myself and what that means. I am not overly patriotic, though I am proud to be an American. I am also proud to be British now. But this pride, what is it really? It mainly is (though perhaps not fully is) a way to reinforce the concept we have of our own selves, it gives us an identity.

So, my auto-correct and my stubbornness to write ‘litre’ are great teachers of Zen!

 

 

As an aside: whenever I do write ‘centre’ or ‘litre’ I say them aloud in my head as ‘cen-tree’ and ‘lee-tree’! lol

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Escaping Pain

You can run, and you can hide, but always right arounf the corner you will be staring right back at yourself, or a sheep!

You can run, and you can hide, but always right around the corner you will be staring right back at yourself, or a sheep!

Having lots on your plate to get done while having chronic fatigue is difficult. When this extends over an extended period of time with minimal relief on the horizon, it can be more than mere deflating. Being mindful of each moment, as that’s all there really is, certainly is the best mode of attack, if you will. However, one thing I have noticed, is that it is times like these, where difficulty can be safely predicted to be constant for the foreseeable future, that being mindful of the present can be experienced as unrelenting stress and pain. This is certainly one of the birthplaces where ‘escaping reality’ takes place. Now, i don’t want to give the impression this is how my life is, because whilst individual moments may be experienced in this way, many other moments are magical. Such as holding my wife’s hand, or flying my 4 month old daughter around the house like Superman, or rather Supergirl I suppose! Last night my 3-year-old son wanted to help me get stuff from the attic, but I explained it was too dangerous. Then, as I was finished, and about to move the ladder back outside, I took him up the ladder to show him the great mysterious unknown above. The look on his face was of pure amazement and exhilaration! He felt like the luckiest kid on Earth I think! lol.

Back to ‘escaping reality’ … Sometimes people use booze or drugs. Many people use television or surf the internet. Perhaps more dangerous are the subtle escapes, like, for example, reading books. Things that have positive connotations, such as reading, can remain forever hidden as a possible obstruction. We all know watching too much tv or drinking too much booze isn’t really good for us.. but how many people think that reading too much is bad for us?! Only nutters! lol.

If we do feel the need to escape, to have a stiff drink, or a good read, perhaps we can try to be mindful of those moments, and, when we are, something magical happens, the escape drops away and we are where we started, where we always have been. Sure our problems will still be there after the next chapter or the next episode, but if we can face our escape head on, then we learn to not be so afraid of our problems and feel we can live within them. Over time, the need to have a stiff drink or a good novel fades away and our problems and pain are best ‘solved’ head-on, with loving compassion for ourselves.

Spring into your heart!

Spring!

Spring!

Flowers have been used as a metaphor for Enlightenment numerous times. In fact, not merely as metaphor. The first transmission of the Dharma from the Buddha to his successor, was done without words, when the Buddha held up a single flower. Mind to mind transmission.

All winter long, does not the flower exist already, waiting to come into being under the correct conditions?

Our buddha nature is like this…. it has always been there..it is there right now! But unlike a flower, the conditions are always correct to unfold our true selves before us.

Some conditions may be more favourable than others, and we must work hard…tend to our spiritual garden… adding nutrients, watering, weeding…. and before you know it, our true selves may emerge effortlessly before us.

However, it is also nothing like this at all. lol. There are no defilements, no weeds, no lack of water or nutrients. Where you are right now, is perfect and complete. BAM! Who are you?

A drunkard gardener with a plot full of weeds and slugs? No problem if your heart-mind opens itself. One moment of truth in your heart is all you need to start the blossoming of your beautiful Buddha flower…. no matter if your drunk or angry or racist or poor…. truth is pure and, over time, if truth is allowed to been seen inside one’s heart, ‘defilements’ will eventually fade away….

Smoke and Mirrors

IMG_1374

If you meditate, who do you do this for?

Often we hear that before we can help others we must help ourselves. Well, maybe we don’t hear it often, but it is said from time to time. lol. There is a lot of value in those words, and they certainly have helped people turn their lives around. However, it is completely false! Well, sort of. Kinda. Perhaps. lol.

What do I mean? Well, we may feel that to better help other people, whether this may be our partner, our family, our society, or even extend to other animals and the whole world, that we must make sure we are in pretty good shape. Perhaps this means toning up the trifecta of mind, body and spirit. We may go to the gym, read lots of books and sit and meditate every day. That will gear us up to helping others, and we feel ‘prepared’ for it now.

But in reality, this ‘better-ing’ oneself, may reinforce the dualism of ‘us’ and other beings. In a way, it could prop up our egos.

Now, I am not saying that exercise, reading and meditating are bad news! Certainly not. But we must be clear about the reason we do these things. Even if the reason is to help other brings and our world. We can easily, without realizing, have our selfless ambitions turn into a ‘self’ affirming machine! So be careful and keep being awesome.

In the end, we don’t need to be physically fit, be well-educated nor meditate for hours every day. All we need to do is allow our heart-mind to be open. That’s really it. Nothing special. Sometimes it is painful, sometimes joyous, but when open, the love and compassion naturally flow and know where to go…. without effort… just like a puff of smoke disperses without effort, our love does too. No amount of cross-training, PhD’s and meditation retreats will supply it for you!