Brain vs. Body

Sun on the tops of leaves, Sun on the tops of our heads.... seeping into our brains and bodies, loving each without difference.

Sun on the tops of leaves, Sun on the tops of our heads…. seeping into our brains and bodies, loving each without difference.

When I was growing up there was a weekly magazine that came with the newspaper which had a column written by the person with the highest recorded IQ. I really enjoyed it but one thing she wrote has always stuck in my head. She said the brain is just like your body, it needs to be exercised to perform better. My first thought was that is stupid…. Some things are physical and some are mental and there is no room for crossover. But my second thought was, wait a second, this is the SMARTEST person in the world (more or less, I won’t argue about the quality of IQ tests, etc, but suffice to say she is an extremely intelligent person!).. so if the smartest person in the world says this about the organ that makes you smart, I have to trust she knows what she is talking about!!

We must take care of our bodies, eat well, exercise, etc. But we must also take care of our brains… brain exercises! Puzzles, crosswords, Sudoku, singing, math, etc, etc… anything that gets the brain firing!!

Now, how we take care of our physical bodies also affects our brain chemistry, which affects our well we do brain exercises. However, the converse is true as well, our well we take care of our brains affects how well we look after our bodies…

If we are depressed, we tend to not exercise, not eat well… and then this rolls over into our brain, and a negative cycle, feedback loop, is created.

If we don’t exercise or eat well… this can roll over into our brain chemistry and we can become depressed and/or have decreased mental abilities, and this again, can create a negative feedback loop.

Of course the converse is true… if take care of our bodies, it helps our brain and if we take care of our brains, this helps our bodies….

So, we need to be kind to ourselves, both mentally and physically, and realize how important or rather, realize how not unimportant taking care of our brains truly is. (and our bodies too, but most of us already now that, regardless if we follow through, lol).

All of this can extend into the spiritual, if one considers this another level, in addition to mental and physical. We must make sure we exercise not only our bodies and our brains, but also our hearts (I don’t mean the raw physical heart, but rather our Buddha-heart, our Buddha-nature, our Buddha-mind, our spiritual heart).

Tending to each, supports the others and all grow together. Ignoring each, lessens the others and all regress together. Let us be kind to ourselves.

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Buddha Super Hero!

Buddha

Buddha

Buddhism is rich with examples of ‘supernatural’ experiences and abilities. Things such as prophecy, telepathy and telekinesis are found throughout Buddhist texts and stories. So, it is natural after this exposure that one may think of the Buddha as a super-duper supernatural superhero!! He said things such as he wouldn’t explain the utter complexity and underlying realities unseen in an unenlightened state because they would not be believed. When I read that I wonder, wow, what did the Buddha see?! Maybe he could realize the myriad of Universes overlapping the one we know so well? Are there overlapping Universes? I don’t know! Did he mean that the world is secretly run by a tribe of Yeti’s?! I doubt it, but again, I don’t know!

Does it matter?

In Zen, it is taught that when doing zazen meditation, many glorious and interesting images will arise in your mind. In Zen, these are thought of almost as traps, as the ego mind gets seduced by the beauty and mystery and, instead of focusing on the task at hand, we end up in a cycle of feeding our ego. It would be very hard to not be attached to a vision in which a council of Bigfoot’s are gathered discussing global warming!! Lol. But that is just it. It is hard…. but also very easy. The hardest and easiest thing to do is to not be attached to our thoughts. That is different from ignoring our thoughts. That is not wise. A subtle yet monumental difference.

So, the Buddha. Was he a superhero who could read our minds and fly in the air?! Perhaps. Perhaps not. If true, it must be contemplated why he never flew around the skies for 50 years proclaiming “Look at me, I am enlightened, I am super awesome, I am flying in the air!” What a promotional tool that would have been! Lol. But he didn’t do that. Why? Well, the Occam’s razor answer is simply that he couldn’t. It goes against known science. But suppose he could, we must think about why he didn’t fly about. … A Superman who doesn’t fly… just eats when hungry and sleeps when tired. That’s the magic, the power of the Buddha. Nothing special, just living within our natural function.

Zen Master Cho-Ban

Sometimes our world is turned upside down and we need to learn how to grow all over again

Sometimes our world is turned upside down and we need to learn how to grow all over again.

I have been toying with an idea for a novel and here is a draft of the opening of the book.

He was a well-known and respected Zen teacher. Some even called him a ‘Zen Master’! Although this was always said with utter reverence, he always had to chuckle when he heard it. Visions of his orange robe turning into a superhero’s costume, complete with cape, would roll across his mind’s eye.

One time, during an open teaching session at a University, someone asked him a question. They addressed him as ‘Zen Master Cho-Ban’.  His answer was:  “Why yes, of course, we are ALL already superheroes!!”

The questioner, and the rest of the crowd, gave a nervous laugh, not quite sure what to make of that answer.  …Considering that the question was: “Do you recall any of your past reincarnations?”

He authored a handful of books and was the default ‘leader’ of Zen Buddhism in the West. His enlightenment was said to have occurred when he was only 22 years old. He remained ‘low-key’ for years, as it was very rare for someone to realize that someone of his young age could be an enlightened being. His teachings went mostly unrealized. People want a Buddha, a saviour, a religious and spiritual leader to be old, have a long white beard perhaps, to, well, look Enlightened!

Over the years, his face aged, his body aged and his presence, well, it simply was undeniable. People often did double-takes after interacting with him. His way of teaching was like the planting of a seed. And his seeds were the fast germinating kind! He loved planting seeds. Sometimes they grew right away, sometimes they didn’t grow at all. But like any plant knows, you can produce hundreds or thousands of seeds and if only one germinates and grows, that means success. In fact, sometimes when people called him ‘Zen Master Cho-Ban’ he would say “Oh no, I am Johnny Cho-Ban, AppleSeed Master!” and pretend to throw apple seeds all over the person, laughing.

Sometimes people thought this was hilarious! Sometimes people thought he was like a child! Sometimes he was planting Seeds not for the person he was interacting with, but for the person watching from the side. He tried to plant as many Seeds as he could. Always being Johnny AppleSeed!

He was the West’s version of the Dali Lama. Now, what a silly thing to say, but it gives the context in which he was viewed, outside of the Buddhist community. He was a household name.

Then one day the hammer fell. Literally. On his head. From 2 stories high. BAM! He was rushed to the hospital. He cracked his skull and injured his brain. He was unconscious for many days. Then one day, he woke up and his daughter was by his side. He looked at her, deeply into her eyes and blurted out: “What the hell are you looking at?!” She was frozen with shock! After a few moments, she was able to finally reply, to which she said “Papa?” with tears in her eyes… both for joy he woke up and sadness at his words. He then said: “Perhaps that is correct. I do not know. I do not feel well. Leave me alone.”

His daughter was oh so ever confused. Her father was alive, yes, but he was different. His memory was not all there and he was, well, grumpy! Who was this man who woke up?

She said to him: “I will do whatever you ask of me father, but please tell me this: Where did my Papa go?”

He listened and thought deeply about this. He just looked into her eyes, without talking and just contemplated her question. It was this question that become the focus of the rest of his life. For now, he replied ;” I just don’t know. I feel like shit. I hate this. I remember Cho-Ban, the appleseed man. He was weak.  I am stronger than him. Now leave and let me be”.

She gave him a kiss on the cheek and with eyes full of tears, she said goodbye and she would see him later on.

He laid in bed, nurses and doctors now aware he was awake and they were all around him, taking notes, and all the stuff medical people do. He lay there, in a bad mood with bad memory. He thought of Cho-Ban. He knew him deeply, but it was as if he knew him as a different person. He was not Cho-Ban.

Syncing Out of Time

Blossoming in Autumn

Blossoming in Autumn.

Winter is coming. How do you prepare? Well, in the tropics, it is more of a name than an event. Outside of the tropics, it is more profound. Nature can be seen to be hunkering down, closing up shop…. Sometimes though, we see things blossoming, coming to life…. Is it Spring? lol.

It is our conception of what autumn and winter are that makes us question a blossoming flower. The flower knows what it is doing, lol. What about ourselves? How do we prepare for Winter? Do we do it consciously? Subconsciously? Do we do it at all? lol.

My mind tends to turn more inwards during the Winter months. A natural flux, a transition that my being lets flow. What does this mean? I don’t know! haha.

Let us stop to smell the flowers, so they say, and contemplate our connection with the smell, the sight, the wonder and beauty… How many times have we danced with this flower? The flower with us? …countless times yet this is the only time ever it has happened…

Our Fire

fire

Sometimes the winds come and without warning, extinguish our fire.

Our fire was built long ago.

We gathered the wood throughout many lifetimes.

Our parents provided the spark and BAM!

We became alight…alive!

We may have gathered the best wood, nice and dry, or maybe it’s a bit green. Maybe we gathered just a little bit of wood, or maybe a whole forest.

Sometimes even the strongest fire cannot survive the strongest storms. It happens. Sometimes, the weakest fire, just barely alight, can continue on and on for a very long time.

Circumstances…. Sometimes our fires endure many storms, sometimes they endure few. Sometimes our fires end oh so early, sometimes they burn and burn and burn.

Let our fires be our lamps upon ourselves and take good care.

 

fire2

 

This post is dedicated in the honor of relative who recently passed away. She was proud of her Native American heritage. For you Bunnie.

The photos used in this post are not mine.