Stereotypes

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Can we focus properly? What does our own focus mean? We may see the moon brightly but not yet understand this Truth. In seeking understanding, we make many assumptions of what this Truth must be, yet, in the end, all assumptions fall short. One day we will simply reach up into the sky and pull down the moon with our bare hands and place it deep within our hearts to shine for all to see. 

Every person’s condition, situation, experience is unique…different. The interpretation, the fascination, the joy, the depression, the horror, the glee…

So much boils over inside us, … highs and low… maybe just mind-numbing evenness. Some are manic, some are calm.

I remember once a teacher in school once told the class… ‘Next time you are in the supermarket, just observe the people around you.. pick one person… study them, think about what their whole life is about, what their personality is like, what their shopping cart’s contents tell you about them, what their clothes say about them, what their hair… their grooming, their posture.. etc, etc.’

I remember doing this ‘exercise’ many years ago… and what it taught me was that I hold lots and lots of inherent stereotypes about people. That scared the shit out of me.  But it also taught me that this was natural. It is what we do with these stereotypes that matters. For example, if a 40 year old woman had Coco-Pops kids cereal in their shopping cart, I would stereotype her as a mother of young children/child. In and of itself, this assumption isn’t bad. But it could very well be totally wrong. She might love Coco-pops and never had children in her life! So, attaching ourselves to our stereotypes is where we run into trouble. If we think our assumptions are correct we run into danger. If we think are assumptions might be correct, then we are open to the new evidence that may prove our assumptions wrong. No one likes to be proved wrong. Perhaps it is even harder to admit to our own selves if we are wrong.

But here in lies a secret power we all have…. the power that emerges when we allow ourselves to examine our assumptions. In fact, we should always attack our assumptions head-on. Hey, this is what science does. Prove it, prove it , prove it! I will try my best to disprove your theory to see if it contains truth. Thats our secret power. To attack our own beliefs, assumptions, preconceptions, prejudices, stereotypes… Attack them with all we have to see what is left standing.

Ultimately, nothing would remain standing. Nothing has a leg to stand on.  All truths are stacks of cards. So what happens when you destroy your whole world? What good is that as a secret power?! lol.

With nothing left to lose, we walk as if we are already dead, free from the limitations of worry. Free from the confines of our illusionary self. We can roam the world free, with helping hands, to end all beings suffering, to hug them deeply with all our heart, to love them, cry for them, hold them until they see what burns infinitely bright inside them. That lamp is nothing short of the Entire Cosmos.

What a stack of cards we belong to! The whole Universe has got your back!

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Terrorism and hate

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I look to the Buddha’s teachings to understand my own true nature. What I always find is that Love binds all beings.

Choosing forgiveness and love over hate and fear is sometimes portrayed as being weak, ignorant and unpatriotic. It is easy to let fear make our choices for us. We can even rationalize the prejudices they blossom.

When terrorists attack, fear is a natural state of mind. We naturally look for clues to keep us and our loved ones safe and protected. Sometimes we look at a particular aspect of the form. Take ‘Islamic Terrorists’. Yes, there are people who commit horrific acts who do so wearing the cover of Islam. Does this mean we should fear Islam? Should we let these people define our fear? And hence our modes of protecting ourselves? When we calm down and think deeply, we may begin to realize that these people do not represent their faith, that they want to play on our fears and their agenda grows strongest when anger and fear create separation.

So, instead of letting adrenaline focus our minds on the form, which is useful in evolutionary terms when identifying venomous spiders, let us focus our minds on the function. These terrorist attacks… they occur from human beings. These people are clearly suffering in their own minds and hearts. So much so they kill people such as they do. Killing is wrong. Hating hate is not useful. It spins the wheel of hatred. This is how the Islamic State grows. When terrorists are killed ‘pro-actively’, it breeds more hatred, on both sides, and simply makes the world more dangerous, not safer.

Do I suggest simply doing nothing and letting more attacks to happen? No, self protection is natural. But I do not suggest pre-emptive murder to protect against murder. We must look into the reasons why people become ‘radicalized’. After all, these are human beings. They must be suffering horribly to become convinced to murder. Love and compassion are the way to stop the violence. Now, angry dogs bark at buddhas… That means, some people will always be too ill in this life to grasp the nature of love and they will end up harming and killing people. Murder and hate will not be abolished fully. But thinking of terrorists as human beings is an important starting point.

Just as Islam has been hijacked by some, do not let your mind be hijacked by hate and prejudice. This is what the Islamic State, for example, wants. They want you to hate them. This is a part of their agenda. This makes them stronger. So, if you really want to protect the world from terrorism, put down your hate for them. As in Christianity it is said to Love they Neighbour. .. Love… not like, not tolerate, certainly not condemn and kill, but Love… Love they neighbour… It is the Way, the Light. Love.

I am human. When I see a terrorist attack, i feel fear and deep anger. Hatred for the horrific acts. My blood may boil. This is natural. This is human. I am not anything above this reaction, or below it.

We must learn to realize that we are human in our reaction to such events. But this reaction has evolved for a response almost certainly not applicable to these events, as we almost certainly will not be directly in the mist of an attack. If we are, then adrenaline is certainly our friend, and real time thoughts and actions are valuable. But, sitting on a warm couch, seeing things unfold on tv… our evolution betrays us… our natural reaction isn’t appropriate and not very useful.

We need to feel with our hearts, tempered by rational thought. To fill the world with love.

In Buddhism, there is the concept of Bodhisattvas…people who realize their own inherent Enlightened state but delay final release from human form in order to save all beings from suffering. All beings. Every single being. So they know their task will never end, but they also know it can only ever end this way. In the End, all beings will understand. We are all teammates, even the beings that we, as humans, may hate with all our being.

Alignment

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Aligning the trees with the Sun.

Harmonic vibrations of love pulsating within the inter-connectedness of all things fill hearts with sympathetic joy.

Aligning ourselves towards our true function opens the floodgates and clarity ensues.

Like a flower unfolding under the right conditions of warmth and light, our hearts too respond to the circumstances around us.

All Buddhas have experienced Enlightenment only through circumstances. Gautama Buddha saw Venus and BAM…alignment with the Universe’s heart was precise.

Although it is important to provide our soil with the correct nutrients and warmth and light, even the roasting and suffocating surface of Venus can spark this magical unfolding… this alignment.

Be still and honest within yourself and do not deny proper care to your garden. The Buddha, before Enlightenment, was a prince, living with amazing luxuries… he gave that all up and denied himself even the most basic of nourishment and grew sick and hungry. Years passed and a compassionate woman gave him some milk infused with rice… nourishment and his body responded to this love, this care. He discovered the Middle Way. Do not live in excess, yet do not deny yourself of proper care.

Do not seek heaven for reward and do not seek hell for self punishment.

The Universe has taken billions of years to get you where you are… it knows what it is doing.. having faith in this allows our alignment towards Truth and Freedom and Love to blossom.

Let us be gentle and kind to ourselves.

Seeking

leaves, green, photosynthesis, growth... what thoughts arise in an attempt to seek meaning of  experiencing 'leaves'. What remains when we let go of our seeking thoughts?

Leaves, green, photosynthesis, growth… what thoughts arise in an attempt to seek meaning of experiencing ‘leaves’. What remains when we let go of our seeking thoughts?

Our ears react to vibrations in the air and our eyes react to photons. Our nose reacts to chemicals as do our tongues….They do not seek these things, they simply experience them as they come and go. What is there for them to seek beyond this?

Only the illusion of our mind seeks meaning. The eyes see light, the ears hear sound, the mind … does it covet this information or does it let it go?

You know, it will come back if we need it… our minds build cages and build foundations and towers from the coveted information, transforming them into a grand illusions.

In Zen, we say, when we see a green light, we go, and a red light we stop. When the dishes are dirty, we wash them and when we are hungry, we eat. What about our minds? When we think deeply, we think deeply, when we don’t think deeply, we don’t. It doesn’t matter if we are smart or dumb…but are we wise?

Let us let the brain do what it does without the cages we have built up over the years. Zazen meditation… it isn’t to better oneself, to gain insights, or even to experience Enlightenment. It can be see as a tool, a diamond tipped tool with the finest blade. It cuts to the core of our house of cards in our minds. When we cut out the illusion we created of our own selves, who remains? what remains?

Our cages can be built as quickly as we tear them down. It is like land in New York City… you tear down an out-of-date building but it is replaced, with something you assume is better. The real estate in our brains is too valuable to not rebuild on! lol. Buy hey, what happens if we don’t rebuild? Can we focus on that moment? Do we see the rebuilding occurring? We can! We Can! So, WHO is rebuilding it! I didn’t authorize that! What is going on?

Distinguish-ation

Woof.

Woof.

Our senses distinguish…. That is not an incomplete sentence.* I was going to write ‘Our senses distinguish things’.. but I stopped myself. Our senses make things.. through distinguishation.  Wow, that is an ugly made-up word! Lol. Distinguishation. Perhaps differentiation is better.

So, our eyes see brown, our hands feel roughness, our nose smells cinnamon**, our tongue tastes wood***, our ears hear… cracking?,… our mind makes soup with them and it becomes Bark. Bark soup.  Now, it is our brains making bark… but surely the bark had to pre-exist for it to make our mouths taste cinnamon. We didn’t just make that up!!

So, Is it possible that the Universe is simply a creation of our brain’s soup making? Is it possible that soup is made from the Universe?

I remember reading about a Zen teacher who said that when our minds cease to exist, the Universe ceases to exist. This is a tough pill to swallow.. surely before I was born and certainly after I die, the Sun will still rise in the East.. for billions of more years.. it doesn’t rely its existence on me! OR does it?! How could it? It is such a super-selfish way of thinking.. The Universe literally exists for me… because of me!!

Now, it is not that way, not exactly. But there is something there… Something to think about.. Why would a teacher of Zen teach something that seems to reinforce the importance of EGO? Surely he should do the opposite! Lol.

I thought lots about this. Why would he say that?

Lets think about it…

The Buddha said that our lives are like dreams…. Not dreams, but like dreams… they are illusionary.. they are real, but not what they seem. Where does this life-long illusion come from? Our Ego-mind. Our perception that we are separate from the Universe. ‘There is the Universe and then there is me.’ This separation is illusionary, so when we realize this, not simply understand it, but realize this, both our ‘mind’ and the ‘Universe’ cease to exist.

The Buddha, when he realized his Enlightened nature, he did not disappear into thin air! Lol. He taught, he walked, he ate and urinated and defecated. And if someone yelled over to him ‘Yo Gautama, over here dude!’****, he would understand that he was being called. Although he realized his selfless nature, he still understood what Gautama meant.

So, when we die, the Universe, our illusion of the Universe dies too. Is there a real Universe beyond the illusion? Is not the illusion based on something?  The Buddha said our lives are like dreams, but he did not say they are dreams.

So, if a Zen Master picks up a rock and asks you if that rock exists.. how do you answer? If you say no, it doesn’t it is just an illusion, he may hit you upside the head with it, perhaps saying ‘How’s that illusion feel now?!’ Haha. If you say yes, it does exist but you do not know its reality beyond its illusion, he may throw it at you and make you duck, saying ‘if you do not know what ‘rock’ is, then how did you know to duck. You know rock.’

* Well, perhaps it technically is an incomplete sentence, I don’t know.. I am a scientist not a writer, lol.

** Cinnamon is just a type of tree bark, though not the one pictured above.

*** Why are we licking bark? lol

**** Gautama is one of the Buddha’s names.

What dictates our lives?

We can mow the grass or let it grow...

We can mow the grass or let it grow…

Some people wander through life letting the circumstances surrounding them to dictate their lives. Some people carefully construct the circumstances around their lives so they can dictate their lives.

Now, life, and people, are not that simple.. though people can tend to fall within one camp or the other…. One side says that the World is the master and we follow it and the other side says we are the master and make the world follow us.

Of course controlling circumstances can never be a one-way street… so it is important to realize this two-way flow…. So, if you feel that ‘fate’ controls your life for the most part…. It is time to contemplate the fact that it controls less than you realize and that you have more control than you understand. Experiment, and find just how much control you have. Conversely, if you feel that your ‘free will’ dictates your life… it may be time to think about how little control you actually have… how much reliance is placed on external functions.

So, it is important to have a good balance… to make sure we do not have bad self-worth, but also to make sure we do not have too much self-worth! Lol. Both feed our ego mind.

In the end, fate and free will are inventions, illusions…. They depend on the separation of ourselves from the world, which is illusionary, so they crumble away in an instant.

So, there is this dance. I write often about this dance… the dance we have with the Universe. It loves to dance.. .to dance with us…a joyful give and take… full of love and interplay…

The Finality of Infinity

lots and lots of flowers.... how many before there are an infinite amount?! hahaha.

lots and lots of flowers…. how many before there are an infinite amount?! hahaha.

I think about whether the Universe is infinite quite a bit. It really fascinates me. One path of thinking my brain takes me shows that it is beyond ludicrous for it to be infinite… there would be an infinite amount of totally insane things occurring that my mind simply can’t accept. However, another path of thinking my brain takes me along shows me that it has to be infinite. There simply cannot be an end.

This is a paradox. This is my own koan, if you will.

So, I begin to think about what the word ‘infinite’ actually means. Does the word even make sense?

Now, in Buddhism, there is no beginning, there is ‘co-dependant origination’… the beginning-less beginning.  Nothing is born without being held up by all other things. So… it seems to follow that there is no end… the endless ending.

What is it that cannot even begin yet also can never end?

Fifty feet below Pluto’s surface, a golden Buddha is buried, fluorescing throughout the ice. A demon flies in Saturn’s rings and a pine tree on Earth makes its cones.

Rain patters a metal roof as coffee warms up dry bones.

The Trickster Universe

What we seek is bound by our illusions...it is right in front of our eyes.

What we seek is bound by our illusions…it is right in front of our eyes.

The cosmos’s fabric reveals its bumps within the shadows we overlook. Peering down the hole illuminates the darkness and the lumps smooth into one, destroying the hidden connections which never existed.

We sometimes find unimaginable treasures… truths and realizations which link vastly separate and distinct things and then in this instant, these very links reveal that all links fall away.

We are given the most valuable thing, yet this same thing takes all value away.

Sometimes you have to laugh at the witty Universe, oh you clever trickster, full of only Love, hiding in plain sight.

Everything… today.

fleetingly forever

fleetingly forever

Contained within a moment exists all that ever was and all that ever will be. How can it be any other way? Just as the Big Bang contained all that ever could exist, it is that same right now, billions of years later.

In that moment, billions of years ago, there was no time, no space, no matter… vast emptiness… yet it certainly was not nothingness. It was everything-ness! Lol. And perhaps that emptiness wasn’t vast, but the opposite… tinier than tiny, lol. In fact, size didn’t exist. There was just emptiness. The fullest emptiness ever, lol.

That moment, it was timeless, and, by definition, it penetrates now. It transcends now. It is now.

The speed of light is the cosmic speed limit, yet within a Universe that began timeless, that limit doesn’t apply… it cannot apply.

Feeling one with all that is… feeling interconnected with all that is….. these are not airy-fairy, hippy-dippy words. They are not head-in-the-clouds, out of touch with ‘reality’ words. Yes, they can be, and perhaps they frequently are used in that manner, but when purpose and intent fall away from these words… these words ring true…ring Truth.

Now, I am not trying to say that science proves transcendental wisdom, that physics proves Buddhist philosophy.

Seeking truth requires honesty. It also requires courage… courage to temporarily let go of our deepest beliefs and see what we see remains.

A soft heart is not a weak heart… its softness actually is its strength. Let’s melt our hardened hearts a bit, let go of what we think is ‘protecting’ them and see what happens. What Truth emerges today? It has been patient for billions of years… is today a day for its freedom? For our freedom?

The Truth is Far Out, Man!

This is beautiful! This is Truth!

This is beautiful! This is Truth!

From what I understand, the Buddha said he would not explain the depth of his understanding because people would simply not believe it. He understood that his value as a teacher would be greater if he kept his mouth shut about certain things he understood to be true.

Oh, my mind races with this! Lol. What did he know that he couldn’t tell us? I mean, he did teach very deeply about the underlying nature of reality, and that in itself is pretty unbelievable! Lol.   But I think he meant understandings that would frighten people or make people think he was insane, incorrect, or worse. Perhaps he understood something like we are all living in many multi-verses, where infinite versions of ourselves exist. Maybe not. Maybe he knew of extra-terrestrial beings. Maybe not.  Maybe he knew of ways to transcend time and space and therefore could witness any point of the history of the cosmos, past, present or future. Maybe not. Maybe he knew of secrets that are even more insane and unreal! Maybe not!

Oh, my brain loves thinking about these things. Now, in and of itself, this is not good and not bad. It just is the mind working. Now, when I get caught up in these thoughts and attach to them, then I can feel the Buddha reaching through space-time and tap me on the shoulder! Tut-tut! I smile and realize that exploring truth is joyful and correct.. but when I attach an idea of what the truth will be before I experience it, then I fall. You know, the same is true with science. Proper, good science always is done without an attachment to the result.  When we think we know what the answer will be beforehand, then we might skew the result. Maybe that’s the simple reason the Buddha withheld information.. so we do not skew our results!!