Archive for the ‘Principles for better living’ Category

Honoring Fallen Heroes

Once upon a time a universe came into existence.

Although slumbering in Being for countless eons before the invention of time, consciousness became aware of itself and began to stir.

Separateness (the Ego) was born.

The manifestation of mind brought forth the winds of time and space.

The song of Om began to echo across the ethers. Vibrations matured into fluctuations of solidified energy (matter).

A high temperature quark-gluon plasma came into existence 10-6 seconds after the Big Bang. Subatomic particles along with baryons (photon, neutrinos, electrons and quarks) made an appearance. The nucleosynthesis of light element creation started after the first second. The lighter leptons reacted with baryons to create more complex states of matter. Protons and neutrons came together to form heavier states of hydrogen (deuterium).

After only three minutes matter dominated the Universe.

The Ego descended further into creation giving rise (via mind) to thought and intellect.

Although photons (light) were fashioned at the onset of the creation process, the extremely high temperature and pressure of the plasma prevented those photons from escaping and actually being seen. After spending the first 300,000 years in darkness, the Universe lit up and finally became visible.

The distinction between rishi (the knower), devata (the process of knowing) and chandas (the known) took hold.

The awesome temperatures and densities began to dissipate.

Then stars began to shine.

Thermonuclear reactions inside of stars created heavier and heavier chemical elements. As time progressed the expression of cosmic intelligence took on more refined physical structures:

Atoms
Galaxies
Stars
Supernova
Molecules
Solar Systems
Earths
Life
Bacteria
Invertebrates
Fish
Amphibians
Early plants
Reptiles
Flowers
Mammals

… and people.

The senses, organs of action, and physical sensation (smell, taste, form, touch, and sound) now directed the Ego’s experience.

Today we live within the confines and structure of mind; which we have meticulously assembled around ourselves.

All too often we identify first and foremost with the physical body. The sense of “I” and “mine” predominate. Our first allegiance seems to be toward self and family.

Since different laws of nature predominate over different areas of the Earth, it is natural that human variation in appearance, speech, and mannerism has developed. But unfortunately gripped by the power of Maya (illusion) differences divide rather than unit.

The mind, not strong enough to maintain it essential nature (bliss consciousness) remains overshadowed and a fraction of its inherent infinite potential.

As difference predominates the drumbeat of war and conflagration increase.

There are many causes contributing toward war. Militarism, competing national alliances, religion and cultural difference, poverty, lack of opportunity, hunger, revenge, hatred, and a warped sense of justice – to name a few.

Lack of full development of the individual, family and society, shroud the mind with problems. Without clear vision alternatives are not seen.

Mankind is bound up in the hypnotic trance of materialism, immersed in the outward stroke of evolution.

The Ego has become a citizen of a human tribe, specific to location, race, religion and culture.

There are people who rationalize their bad behavior by blaming others. Not taking responsibility for their own actions, they feel justified in perpetuating tyranny and violence.

As the human ego completed its descent into the realms of fatigue, confusion and problems, a small light of understanding began to shine forth. The tide began to turn.

From time to time some brave souls stand up to defend themselves. Freedom from oppression and tyranny is their goal.

Today we honor those who have fallen in that pursuit.

Afghan War Memorial, Yekaterinburg, Russian

Armenian Genocide Memorial

Boer War Memorial, Palmerston, South Africa

Cenotaph War Memorial, Hong Kong

Civil War Memorial, Denver, CO, USA

Corp Museum Memorial Wall, Israel

Iran - Iraq War Memorial, Baghdad, Iraq

Jewish Holocaust Memorial, New Haven, Australia

Korean War Memorial, Canada

Language Martyrs Monument of Bangladesh, Dhaka, Bangladesh

Latvia War Memorial

Memorial dedicated to the victims of Taiping, China

Memorial Tower for the people, genocide under Pol Pot, Cambodia

National War Memorial, Ottawa, Canada

Polish War Memorial

Sarajevo War Memorial

Soldier and Sailors Monument, Cleveland, Ohio, USA

The Philippine Chinese War Memorial Hall

Turkish War Memorial

Uganda Gulu Peace Memorial

Ukrainian Genocide Famine Memorial

USS Arizona Memorial, Pearl Harbor, Hawai'i

Vietnam War Memorial, Washington, DC

War Memorial Suez Canal Bayonet

War Memorial, Canberra, Australia

War Memorial, Ireland

War Memorial, Nice, France

War Memorial, Viharamahadevi Park, Colombo, Sri Lanka

World War I & II, Hainault England War Memorial

World War I Memorial, Elie and Earlsferry, North East Fife, Scotland

Put revenge back into its box. Otherwise, plan on digging a grave for yourself also.

Man did not fall from grace. Rather man is fulfilling his predestined journey traveling from unconsciousness (mineral) to semi-awareness (vegetable) to daytime awareness (animal) to Enlightenment (all men, women and children).

All of the Universe is alive, it’s just in different states of awareness (expressed eternal intelligence).

Today humanity is on the inward stroke of evolution. Looking within to find its essential nature.

This is all part of a marvelous design.

The Unmanifest Self illuminates the ego, which in turn animates the mind. The individual mind has its seat in the human brain. The world of space/time/causality is created, seen and experienced by the mind.

The mind entertains thoughts. It incessantly seems to wander. Connected to the brainstem and spinal column, sensation and spatiality are experienced and made real.

The mind entertains the flow of thought, that is a primary function. So don’t blame it when it ceaselessly wanders about.

Yet, when the mind turns inward during meditation objective knowledge ceases. The mind, illumined by the Self, discovers its true parent. The mind sees its own source and becomes that.

The Ego now becomes a citizen of humanity.

The human mind seeks to merge with cosmic mind.

Sat Chit Ananda (Eternal being, knowledge, bliss):
Maya cannot obscure Sat, but is does obscure Chit and Ananda, making them appear as specifics (a process called Visesha, apparent differentiation by Maya)

On Enlightenment:
There is nothing to realize. It is nitya suddha buddha mukta (the Eternal, pure, aware and liberated) state. It is natural and eternal. There is nothing new to gain. On the other hand a man/women must lose their ignorance. That is all.

This ignorance can be traced to its origin. In this world there is subject (inner) and object (outer). Such duality is characteristic of the mind.

With the birth of mind comes distinction and separateness, the whole field of multiplicity. Good and evil then become relative terms of importance. They are measurements of gain or loss with respect to the ego.

The human Ego is now becoming a citizen of the cosmic mind.

§§

Human evolution propels us forward.

Meditation allows us to take giant leaps ahead. This skill hastens the day of Enlightenment.

Some teachers say “be here now,” or simply, “be in the present moment.” That advice is true coming from their level of consciousness, but not readily realizable for most others.

The disillusion of ignorance remains everyone’s responsibility. Meditate every day.

Let these wars be the last that humankind ever sees. Rise up to that exalted state of eternal absolute bliss consciousness.

It’s best to avert the danger that has yet to come.

Honor fallen heroes by meditating every day. Lay the seeds of compassion and love.

That platform (Enlightenment) of consciousness is abundant life in all its stellar values. Wake up and realize your true eternal identity.

Once upon a time a universe came into existence. But whether that existence is real or not depends upon ones frame of reference.

The Ego is now dissolving into the embrace of eternal bliss. Realize your heritage.

Posted by on August 27th, 2011 Comments Off on Honoring Fallen Heroes

Timeless words of wisdom

Dear friends,

Here is a short collection of works that I hope will bring you joy and wonder…

Desiderata

Go placidly amid the noise and haste,
and remember what peace there may be in silence.
As far as possible, without surrender,
be on good terms with all persons.

Speak your truth quietly and clearly;
and listen to others,
even to the dull and ignorant;
they too have their story.

Avoid loud and aggressive persons;
they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others,
you may become vain or bitter,
for always there will be greater
and lesser persons than yourself.

Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans.
Keep interested in your own career, however humble,
it’s a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs,
for the world is full of trickery.
But let this not blind you to what virtue there is;
many persons strive for high ideals,
and everywhere life is full of heroism.

Be yourself.
Especially do not feign affection.
Neither be cynical about love;
for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment,
it is as perennial as the grass.

Take kindly the counsel of the years,
gracefully surrendering the things of youth.

Nurture strength of spirit
to shield you in sudden misfortune.
But do not distress yourself with dark imaginings.
Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline,
be gentle with yourself.
You are a child of the universe
no less than the trees and the stars;
you have a right to be here.
And whether or not it is clear to you,
no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God,
whatever you conceive him to be.
And whatever your labors and aspirations,
in the noisy confusion of life,
keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams,
it is still a beautiful world.
Be cheerful.
Strive to be happy.

(Written between 1906 & 1920 by Max Ehrmann (1872-1945))

Believe In Yourself

There may be days when you get up in the morning and things aren’t the way you had hoped they would be, ….that’s when you have to tell yourself that things will get better.

There are times when people disappoint you and let you down,
but those are the times when you must remind yourself to trust your own judgments and opinions, to keep your life focused on believing in yourself and all that you are capable of.

There will be challenges to face and changes to make in your life, and it is up to you to accept them.

Constantly keep yourself headed in the right direction for you. It may not be easy at times, but in those times of struggle you will find a stronger sense of who you are, So when the days come that are filled with frustration and unexpected responsibilities,
remember to believe in yourself and all you want your life to be, because the challenges and changes will only help you to find the goals that you know are meant to come true for you.

Keep believing in yourself.

(Author Unknown)

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Relationships

Relationships – of all kinds – are like sand held in your hand.
Held loosely with an open hand,
the sand remains where it is.

The minute you close your hand and squeeze tightly to hold on,
the sand trickles through your fingers.
You may hold on to some of it, but most will be spilled.

A relationship is like that.
Held loosely, with respect and freedom for the other person,
it is likely to remain intact. But hold too tightly, too possessively,
and the relationship slips away and is lost.

(Author Unknown)

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The most satisfying work … Helping Others
The most endangered species … Dedicated Leaders
The greatest natural resource … Our Youth
The greatest shot in the arm … Encouragement
The greatest problem to overcome … Fear
The most effective sleeping pill … Peace of Mind
The most crippling failure disease … Excuses
The most powerful force in life … Love
The worlds most incredible computer … The Brain
The worst thing to be without … Hope
The most powerful relationship tool … The Tongue
The two most power-filled words … “I Can”
The most powerful communication … Prayer
The greatest asset … Faith
The most worthless emotion … Self-pity
The most prized possession … Self-esteem
The most contagious spirit … Enthusiasm
The most beautiful attire … Smile

(Author Unknown)

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Native American wisdom …

Cherokee Prayer Blessing

May the Warm Winds of Heaven
Blow softly upon your house.
May the Great Spirit
Bless all who enter there.
May your Moccasins
Make happy tracks
in many snows,
and may the Rainbow
Always touch your shoulder.

*

Native American Prayer

Oh, Great Spirit
Whose voice I hear in the winds,
And whose breath gives life to all the world,
hear me, I am small and weak,
I need your strength and wisdom.
Let me walk in beauty and make my eyes ever behold
the red and purple sunset.
Make my hands respect the things you have
made and my ears sharp to hear your voice.
Make me wise so that I may understand the things
you have taught my people.
Let me learn the lessons you have
hidden in every leaf and rock.

I seek strength, not to be greater than my brother,
but to fight my greatest enemy – myself.
Make me always ready to come to you
with clean hands and straight eyes.
So when life fades, as the fading sunset,
my Spirit may come to you without shame.

(Lakota Sioux Chief Yellow Lark in 1887)

*

Lakota Instructions for Living

Friend do it this way – that is,
whatever you do in life,
do the very best you can
with both your heart and mind.

And if you do it that way,
the Power Of The Universe
will come to your assistance,
if your heart and mind are in Unity.

When one sits in the Hoop Of The People,
one must be responsible because
All of Creation is related.
And the hurt of one is the hurt of all.
And the honor of one is the honor of all.
And whatever we do effects everything in the universe.

If you do it that way – that is,
if you truly join your heart and mind
as One – whatever you ask for,
that’s the Way It’s Going To Be.

*

Earth, Teach Me

Earth teach me quiet ~ as the grasses are still with new light.
Earth teach me suffering ~ as old stones suffer with memory.
Earth teach me humility ~ as blossoms are humble with beginning.
Earth teach me caring ~ as mothers nurture their young.
Earth teach me courage ~ as the tree that stands alone.
Earth teach me limitation ~ as the ant that crawls on the ground.
Earth teach me freedom ~ as the eagle that soars in the sky.
Earth teach me acceptance ~ as the leaves that die each fall.
Earth teach me renewal ~ as the seed that rises in the spring.
Earth teach me to forget myself ~ as melted snow forgets its life.
Earth teach me to remember kindness ~ as dry fields weep with rain.

(Ute Prayer)

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A human being is a part of a whole, called by us a universe, a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest … a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
— Albert Einstein

Everyone is a genius.  But if you judge a fish on its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing it is stupid.
— Albert Einstein

*

“The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious. It is the fundamental emotion that stands at the cradle of true art and true science.

Whoever does not know it and can no longer wonder, no longer marvel, is as good as dead, and his eyes are dimmed. It was the experience of mystery — even if mixed with fear — that engendered religion. A knowledge of the existence of something we cannot penetrate, our perceptions of the profoundest reason and the most radiant beauty, which only in their most primitive forms are accessible to our minds: it is this knowledge and this emotion that constitute true religiosity. In this sense, and only this sense, I am a deeply religious man… I am satisfied with the mystery of life’s eternity and with a knowledge, a sense, of the marvelous structure of existence — as well as the humble attempt to understand even a tiny portion of the Reason that manifests itself in nature.”

(Albert Einstein – part of “The World As I See It”)

Bertrand Russell

The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, but wiser people so full of doubts.
— Bertrand Russell

The way through the world is more difficult to find than the way beyond it.
— Wallace Stevens

Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
—Jean Paul Sartre

Before you talk, listen
Before you react, think
Before you spend, earn
Before you criticize, wait
Before you pray, forgive
Before you quit, try
—Ernest Hemingway

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Buddhist teaching …

On life’s journey
Faith is nourishment,
Virtuous deeds are a shelter,
Wisdom is the light by day and
Right mindfulness is the protection by night.
If a man lives a pure life nothing can destroy him;
If he has conquered greed nothing can limit his freedom.

(Buddha)

*

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion.
If you want to be happy, practice compassion

(The Dalai Lama)

*

We are what we think.
All that we are arises with our thoughts.
With our thoughts, we make our world.

(Buddha)

*

The Four Reliance’s

First, rely on the spirit and meaning of the teachings,
not on the words;

Second, rely on the teachings,
not on the personality of the teacher;

Third, rely on real wisdom,
not superficial interpretation;

And fourth, rely on the essence of your pure Wisdom Mind,
not on judgmental perceptions.

(Traditional Buddhist teaching)

Lama Surya Das

Pray
Meditate
Be aware/Stay awake
Bow
Practice yoga
Feel
Chant and sing
Breathe and smile
Relax/Enjoy/Laugh/Play
Create/Envision
Let Go/Forgive/Accept
Walk/Exercise/Move
Work/Serve/Contribute
Listen/Learn/Enquire
Consider/Reflect
Cultivate oneself/Enhance competencies
Cultivate contentment
Cultivate flexibility
Cultivate friendship and collaboration
Lighten up
Celebrate and appreciate
Dream
Give thanks
Evolve
Love
Share/Give/Receive
Walk softly/Live gently
Expand/Radiate/Dissolve
Simplify
Surrender/Trust
Be born anew

(from Awakening The Buddha Within by Lama Surya Das)

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Contemplate these timeless words of wisdom. Use them as a guide and inspiration for life. Close the eyes, meditate, and bask in the realm of timeless peace.

Posted by on July 2nd, 2011 Comments Off on Timeless words of wisdom

The Escape velocity of thought is zero

When the first artificial satellite (named Sputnik) was launched into orbit in 1957 the world awoke to a new reality.  Long bound to the Earth’s surface by the irresistible force of gravity, mankind was finally able to break those chains.

Today man is also trapped by the incessant rambling of the mind.  One thought after another seems to spring up on its own, hardly ever giving us a moment of peace.

To leave the Earth’s surface and open ourselves up to new and exciting vistas, we need to travel at faster and faster speeds.  But to unfold our full human potential we need to do the opposite; travel slower and slower (less thought but more refined).  When the mind is completely stilled in meditation, we are eternally free from the binding influence of thought, obsession, and suffering.

What is escape velocity?  It’s the speed that an object needs to travel in order to escape a planetary bodies surface, due to gravitational pull.

We can throw a baseball up into the sky, but it will come back down.  We can fire a cannon ball into the blue and it will ascend to even greater heights, but it will also come back down.

In the famous book “From the Earth to the Moon” by Jules Verne, his story describes the building of a projectile at Stone Hill, how it is outfitted for passengers, and how 400,000 pounds of gun-cotton was used to launch the capsule into space.  Centered around a personal romantic plot, this is also Verne’s story of how to exceed escape velocity and travel into space.

When the human race was in its infancy we developed the art of throwing rocks and other hard objects to incapacitate and eventually capture prey.  Bows, arrows and spears kept us feed.

After some time we learned the principle of the “lever,” and how we could multiply force to hurl objects ever greater distances.  The catapult, onager, trebuchet, and ballista were developed more for warfare than for catching prey, but these devices do represent advancement in aerial ballistics.

Trebuchet - Castelnaud France

This early siege weapon first appeared on the battlefield in the 4th Century BCE.  The Greeks and the Chinese used an early version of it, which was man powered.

A Trebuchet using counterweights instead of human muscle made its debut in the Mediterranean area circa 12th century AD.  It was very popular and became an invaluable weapon until the invention of gunpowder in the 13th century.

The first artillery pieces were tubes cast in iron or bronze.  Buy the early 1420’s artillery became powerful enough to destroy fortress walls.  Joan of Arc found her forces up against gunpowder weaponry when she led the French against the English at the Battle of Tourelles, in 1430.

The “bombard” and other forms of cannon subsequently developed (1453).  The combination of shot and powder into a single cartridge occurred in the 1620’s.  By 1650 the first artillery manual was written and artillery engineers became a part of the army squadron.   World War II saw the introduction and use of the howitzer, mortar, field gun, and rocket artillery.  Today elaborate computer operated firing mechanisms can launch GPS guided munitions.

If you have ever played soccer, football or baseball you are already familiar with the concepts of trajectory.

When playing football the quarterback looks for an open receiver and then throws the ball, upward as well as downrange, to reach the player.  A good quarterback needs to judge not only where the ball catching receiver will be in a few seconds as he continues his run, as well as how high and with what force to throw the ball.  He is well aware of the fact that the ball, once thrown, will follow an arching pattern.  In mathematics we describe that trajectory path as a parabola.

To gain maximum downrange distance, the ball is thrown at a 45 degree angle to the ground.  The angle of incidence and the initial velocity of the ball determine how far it will travel before hitting the ground.

Projectile distance depends upon its initial speed and angle of incidence

Galileo Galilei was first to correctly analyze and accurately describe a projectile’s motion.  He conducted many experiments involving dropping and propelling objects from the top of a tower.  He reasoned that the path of a projectile was influenced by two forces; gravity (vertical up-down motion) and the forward momentum (horizontal motion) as determined by the speed and drag (wind) of the object.  He precisely described the path as parabolic, the mathematical model developed by the Greeks.

The motion that acts vertically is the force of gravity, and this pulls an object towards the earth at 9.8 meters per second squared.

Modern artillery takes several forces into account in order to correctly target where/when a projectile will land.  These include:

• Gravity – acceleration and decelerating of the vertical motion
• Drag – air resistance decelerates the projectile with a force proportional to the square of the velocity
• Wind speed and direction – affects both the vertical and horizontal motion
• Coriolis/Eotvos drift – caused by the affect of the Earth’s rotation
• Atmospheric pressure – thinner air at higher elevations offers less drag
• Movement of the launch vehicle – as in projectile fired from a moving tank
• Launch vehicle position (latitude) on the Earth – as the gravitational constant g varies (between 9.78 and 9.82 m/s2) since the Earth’s shape is not an exact sphere

Formulas for projectile motion:

Vy = Vyo – gt     The vertical velocity is equal to the initial vertical velocity minus gravity times time

Vx = Vyo t  – ½gt2      The vertical distance is equal to the initial vertical velocity times time, minus one half gravity times the time squared.

g (gravity) = 9.8 m/sec2

Projectile motion

Now when we throw an object directly up, how high it travels before it stops and comes back down due to gravity depends upon its initial velocity.  The faster we can throw it, the higher it will go before returning back to the Earth’s surface.  So we can hypothesize that there must a velocity at which we can throw the ball such that it escapes the downward pull of gravity, and eventually goes off into space.  That speed is called the Escape Velocity.

Since that velocity depends upon the strength of gravity (g), and gravity being dependent upon mass, it stands to reason that escape velocity would vary for each of the different planets and satellites in our solar system.

Reference and location Escape velocity
To escape the planet Mercury, from its surface 4.3 km/sec
To escape the planet Venus, from its surface 10.3 km/sec
To escape the Earth, from its surface 11.2 km/sec
To escape the Sun, our solar system, from Earth 42.1 km/sec
To escape the Moon, from its surface 2.4 km/sec
To escape the planet Mars, from its surface 5.0 km/sec
To escape the planet Jupiter, from its surface 59.5 km/sec
To escape the planet Saturn, from its surface 35.6 km/sec
To escape the planet Uranus, from its surface 21.2 km/sec
To escape the planet Neptune, from its surface 23.6 km/sec
To escape the Milky Way galaxy, from our solar system 525 km/sec

A spacecraft leaving the surface of Earth needs to be going 7 miles per second, or nearly 25,000 miles per hour, to enter orbit.

Three spacecraft (Voyager 1 & 2 and Pioneer 10) are currently traveling the outer reaches of our solar system.

Voyager 1 - March 1976 Jupiter's Great Red Spot

Distance from the Sun (as of June 8, 2011) was 117.3 AU, 17,424,901,500 km, traveling at 17.26 km/sec.

Flew by Jupiter and Saturn before continuing on toward interstellar space.

(Note: 1 AU = 1 Astronomical Unit; the mean distance between the Earth and the Sun, 149,597,870.7 kilometers)

Voyager 2

Distance from the Sun (as of June 8, 2011) was 95.56 AU, 14,295,661,600 km

Flew by Jupiter and Saturn and went on to explore Uranus and Neptune. It is still the only spacecraft to have visited those outer planets.

§§

Pioneer 10

Distance from the Sun (as of April 1, 2011) was 103.017 AU, traveling at 12.51 km/sec, or .000041 the speed of light.

Pioneer 10 is heading in the direction of the star Aldebaran in the constellation Taurus at approximately 2.6 AU per year. If Aldebaran had zero relative velocity, it would take Pioneer 10 approximately 2 million years to reach the star.

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Escaping the binding influence of thought does not involve thinking more, or faster.  Instead it requires just the opposite, the complete cessation of mental activity during meditation.  The escape velocity of thought is zero.

For centuries sages have described a state of consciousness where the mind is free from thought.  During that period of inner silence they experience timelessness and the realization that their true nature is unbounded.  They recognize that their small self (ego) is just localized infinite awareness.

But today, shrouded by the influence of the mind and immersed in the field of time/space/causation, we are performing as actors on the stage of life.

After hearing about this wondrous phenomenon some people got the wrong idea about how to attain that state.  All manner of practices were developed.

It’s important to understand that the silent mind (no thought) is a natural condition of an enlightened person in meditation.   Their physiology supports that experience.  They are THAT, through and through to the very core.  Embedded within their DNA is only the possibility of right action to enliven all values of life.  They take one breath after another, beyond the sphere of suffering, immersed in the eternal bliss of the absolute life.

Do not confuse an attribute of the enlightened condition (no thought) with the goal itself.

You cannot gain enlightenment through the practice of cessation of thought. Closing the eyes and trying to prevent thought only dulls the mind.  It fosters disconnection between mind and body, and is unhealthy.

Observing thought and the thought process is fine; just don’t purposely try to prevent thought.

On the other hand, meditation techniques that naturally allow the mind to settle down through the release of stress foster a human physiology that supports greater and deeper states of silence.  Thought experienced outside of meditation is then more dynamic and intelligent.  The mind becomes less “cluttered” with useless and disturbing thoughts.  Mental wondering occurs less frequently.  Thoughts and regrets that used to haunt you about past experiences come up less often, and when they do they seem to be not as dramatic or life threatening as they once were.  The events of life no longer grip the mind with such ferocity.  Bad habits naturally fall away.  New possibilities abound.  We can see events and the beautiful sweet Earth more clearly.

The Enlightened person does have thought during the day, but thoughts come at the right time to support positive action in the environment.

As an interesting exercise let’s compare two forms of meditation to see how they handle thought.

Vipassana is a classical Buddhist meditation practice.  It starts by sitting quietly and becoming aware of the breath.  As if serving as a sentry on duty, become aware of the incoming and outgoing breath at the nostrils (nose).  Or as an alternate method, become aware of the rising and falling of the abdomen with each breath.

While you are attentive to the breath, random thoughts naturally occur and begin to flood the mind.  You may think “later I will need to prepare dinner,” or “my back still hurts,” or “I’m sorry about what I said to my best friend this morning.”  The mind just goes on and on.  Then suddenly we are released from the flow of thought and realize, “I have been thinking.”  So now at that point we classify that stream of thought as “planning,” or “hurting” or “sad.”  Then back to sentry duty watching the breath again.

Vipassana process is:
1) awareness of breath
2) random thoughts naturally occurring
3) realization that I was thinking (release from the stream of thought)
4) classification of the thought
5) back to … awareness of breath

The process of transcending meditation is similar, yet very different.

Transcending process is:
1) thinking the mantra
2) random thoughts naturally occurring
3) realization that I was thinking (release from the stream of thought)
4) back to … thinking the mantra

In both practices (step 2) the mind once again begins its incessant march.  In transcending meditation this stream of thought is the “by product” of the release of stress.  As the mind settles down with the mantra the corresponding affect on the body is physical rest.  That physical rest causes stress and strain to be released from the nervous system.  That little increase of physical activity initiates though as its counterpart in the mind.  The intimate relationship between body and mind expresses itself.

In Vipassana meditation, step 2 is the result of the natural wondering of the mind on the surface conscious level (normal waking state), and the byproduct of the release of stress to the extent that deeper rest was achieved by mind/body.

The major difference between the two practices is the last step for each.  In Vipassana meditation one returns back to breath sentry duty – awareness is shifted for the mind (inwardly) back to the physical world (outwardly).  Whereas in transcending practices – awareness is shifted back to the mantra (inwardly) for deeper dives into finer realms of consciousness (more inwardly).

In both cases the goal is to develop that natural state where thoughts do not occur during mediation and awareness is experienced to be unbounded and eternal.

Both forms of meditation have their place, and are extremely valuable as tools for human development.

“This Immutable is never seen, but is the witness; It is never heard, but is the hearer; It is never thought about, but is the thinker; It is never known, but is the knower.  There is no other witness but this, no other hearer but this, no other thinker but this, no other knower but this.  By this Immutable is the (unmanifested) ether pervaded”
(Brihadaranyaka Up., Ill, VIII, 2).

More people are discovering that through the regular practice of meditation the mind naturally becomes more silent and peaceful.  Continue your practice each day to step beyond the realm of thought (escape velocity zero) into the realization that life is infinitely beautiful.

Posted by on June 12th, 2011 Comments Off on The Escape velocity of thought is zero

Three lessons from the Buddha

Buddhist Sutra

The Kakacupama Sutta, The Parable of the Saw
(Translated from the Pali by Acharya Buddharakkhita)

“Phagguna, if anyone were to reproach you right to your face, even then you should abandon those urges and thoughts which are worldly. There, Phagguna, you should train yourself thus: “Neither shall my mind be affected by this, nor shall I give vent to evil words; but I shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and I shall not give in to hatred.” This is how, Phagguna, you should train yourself.

“Phagguna, if anyone were to give you a blow with the hand, or hit you with a clod of earth, or with a stick, or with a sword, even then you should abandon those urges and thoughts which are worldly. There, Phagguna, you should train yourself thus: “Neither shall my mind be affected by this, nor shall I give vent to evil words; but I shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and I shall not give in to hatred.” This is how, Phagguna, you should train yourself.

The Story of the Mistress Vedehika

“In the past, monks, in this very Savatthi, there was a mistress, Vedehika by name. And, monks, this good reputation had spread about the mistress Vedehika: “The mistress Vedehika is gentle, the mistress Vedehika is meek, the mistress Vedehika is calm.” Now, monks, the mistress Vedehika had a maid-servant, Kali by name, who was able, energetic and very methodical in her work. Then, monks, it occurred to Kali, the maid-servant: “this good reputation has spread about my lady: “The mistress Vedehika is gentle, the mistress Vedehika is meek, the mistress Vedehika is calm.” Could it be that my lady does have anger within her which she does not show, or could it be that she does not have anger? Or is it because I am methodical in my job that my lady, though she does have anger within, does not show it, and not because she does not have anger? Why don’t I test my lady?”

“Thus, monks, the maid-servant Kali got up late the next morning. And, monks, the mistress Vedehika told this to the maid-servant Kali:

“Hey, you Kali!”
“What is it, lady?”
“Why did you get up so late?”
“Oh, that is nothing, lady.”
“What!”

“That is nothing, indeed! You bad maid-servant, you got up late!” Angry and displeased, she frowned. “Then, monks, it occurred to Kali the maid-servant:

“Though she does have anger within, my lady does not show it; it is not that she does not have anger. It is because I am methodical in my job that, though she does have anger within, my lady does not show it, and not because she does not have anger. Why don’t I test my lady further?”

“Now, monks, Kali the maid-servant got up even later than before. Then, monks, the mistress Vedehika told the maid-servant Kali:

“Hey, you Kali!”
“What is it, lady?”
“Why did you get up even later than before?”
“Oh, that is nothing, lady.”
“What!”

“That is nothing, indeed! You bad maid-servant, you got up even later than before!” Angry and displeased, she gave vent to her displeasure.

“Then, monks, it occurred to the maid-servant Kali:

“Though she does have anger within, my lady does not show it; it is not that she does not have anger. It is because I am methodical in my job that, though she does have anger within, my lady does not show it, and not because she does not have anger. Why don’t I test my lady further?”

“And, monks, the maid-servant Kali got up even later than before. Then, monks, the mistress Vedehika told the maid-servant Kali:

“Hey, you Kali!”
“What is it, lady?”
“Why did you get up so late?”
“Oh, that is nothing, lady.”
“What! That is nothing, indeed!”
“You bad maid-servant, you got up so late!”
And angry and displeased, she hit her on the head with the door-bar. And this injured her head.

“Now, monks, the maid-servant Kali, with her head injured and blood oozing, went about among the neighbors, shouting:

“Look, sirs, at the deed of the gentle one! Look, sirs, at the deed of the meek one! Look, sirs, at the deed of the calm one! How can she, saying to her own maid-servant, “You got up late today,” angry and displeased, having taken a door-bar, give me a blow on the head and injure my head?”

“And then, monks, this ill-repute spread thereafter about the mistress Vedehika:

“The mistress Vedehika is violent, the mistress Vedehika is arrogant, the mistress Vedehika is not calm.”

“In the same way, monks, some monk here is very gentle, very meek, and very calm, so long as disagreeable ways of speech do not assail him; but when disagreeable ways of speech do assail the monk, it is then that the monk is to be judged whether he is “gentle,” “meek,” or “calm.” Monks, I do not call that monk “dutiful,” who is dutiful on account of the requisites he gets, i.e., the robe, alms food, lodging and medicaments, whereby he falls into pseudo-dutifulness.  And why? For, monks, when that monk fails to get the requisites of the robe, alms food, lodging and medicaments, he ceases to be dutiful, and is not in keeping with the norms of dutifulness. But, monks, whichever monk out of reverence for the Teaching, out of respect for the Teaching, out of dedication to the Teaching, showing honor to the Teaching, and giving regard to the Teaching, comes to be dutiful and is in keeping with the norms of dutifulness, him do I consider as dutiful. Therefore, monks, you should consider: “Only out of reverence for the Teaching, out of respect for the Teaching, out of dedication to the Teaching, showing honor to the Teaching, and giving regard to the Teaching, shall we become dutiful, shall we be in keeping with the norms of dutifulness.” Thus, indeed, monks, you should train yourselves.

Positive Response of Love

“Monks, there are these five modes of speech which people might use when speaking to you — speech that is timely or untimely, true or false, gentle or harsh, with a good or a harmful motive, and with a loving heart or hostility.

“Monks, some might speak to you using speech that is timely or untimely; monks, some might speak to you according to truth or falsely; monks, some might speak to you gently or harshly; monks, some might speak to you with a good motive or with a harmful motive; monks, some might speak to you with a loving heart or with hostility. On all occasions, monks, you should train yourselves thus: “Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to that very person, making him as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.” It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.

The Great Earth

“Suppose, monks, a person were to come to you, holding a hoe and a basket and he were to say: “I shall make this great earth earthless.” Then he would strew the earth here and there, spit here and there, and urinate here and there, and would say:” “Be earthless, be earthless.” What do you think, monks, would this person render this great earth earthless?”

“No, indeed not, most venerable sir.”

“And why?”

“Because this great earth, most venerable sir, is deep and without measure. It cannot possibly be turned earthless. On the contrary, that person would only reap weariness and frustration.”

“In the same way, monks, others may use these five modes of speech when speaking to you — speech that is timely or untimely, true or false, gentle or harsh, with a good or a harmful motive, and with a loving heart or hostility. In this way, monks, you should train yourselves: “Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to that very person, making him as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.” It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.

Empty Space

“Suppose, monks, a person were to approach you, carrying paints of lacquer, turmeric, indigo or carmine, and he were to say: “I will draw this picture, I will make this painting appear on this empty space.” What do you think, monks, could he make this painting appear on empty space?”

“No, indeed not, most venerable sir.”

“And why not?”

“Because this empty space, most venerable sir, is formless and invisible. He cannot possibly draw a picture or make a painting appear on this empty space. On the contrary, that person will only reap weariness and frustration.”

“In the same way, monks, others may use these five modes of speech when speaking to you — speech that is timely or untimely, true or false, gentle or harsh, with a good or a harmful motive, and with a loving heart or hostility. In this way, monks, you should train yourselves: “Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to that very person, making him as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.” It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.

The River Ganges

“Suppose, monks, a person were to come holding a burning grass-torch, and he were to say: “With this burning grass-torch I shall set fire to and scorch this river Ganges.” What do you think, monks, could that person set fire to and scorch the river Ganges with a grass-torch?”

“No, indeed not, most venerable sir.”

“And why not?”

“Because, most venerable sir, the river Ganges is deep and without measure. It is not possible to set fire to and scorch the river Ganges with a burning grass-torch. On the contrary, that person will only reap weariness and frustration.”

“In the same way, monks, others may use these five modes of speech when speaking to you — speech that is timely or untimely, true or false, gentle or harsh, with a good or a harmful motive, and with a loving heart or hostility. In this way, monks, you should train yourselves:
“Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to that very person, making him as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.”
It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.

The Catskin Bag

“Suppose, monks, there was a supple and silky leather bag made of catskin that had been beaten, tanned, cured and fully processed, and made completely free of all creases and wrinkles. Then a man were to come with a stick or mallet and say, “With this stick or mallet I shall make creases and wrinkles in this supple and silky catskin bag which has been beaten, tanned, cured and fully processed, and made free of creases and wrinkles.” What do you think, monks, could that person with a stick or mallet make creases and wrinkles in that supple and silky catskin bag which has been beaten, tanned, cured and fully processed, and made free of creases and wrinkles?”

“No, indeed not, most venerable sir.”

“And why not?”

“Because, most venerable sir, that supple and silky leather bag made of catskin has been beaten, tanned, cured and fully processed, and made free of creases and wrinkles. It is not possible to make creases and wrinkles in it with a stick or mallet. On the contrary, he will only reap weariness and frustration.”

“In the same way, monks, others may use these five modes of speech when speaking to you — speech that is timely or untimely, true or false, gentle or harsh, with a good or a harmful motive, and with a loving heart or hostility. In this way, monks, you should train yourselves: “Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to that very person, making him as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.” It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.

The Parable of the Saw

“Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching. Monks, even in such a situation you should train yourselves thus: “Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to those very persons, making them as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.” It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.

“Monks, if you should keep this instruction on the Parable of the Saw constantly in mind, do you see any mode of speech, subtle or gross, that you could not endure?”

“No, Lord.”

“Therefore, monks, you should keep this instruction on the Parable of the Saw constantly in mind. That will conduce to your well-being and happiness for long indeed.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Delighted, those monks acclaimed the Teaching of the Blessed One.

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The Anapanasati Sutta (Mindfulness of Breathing)

Mindfulness of In-and -Out Breathing
The Four Frames of Reference
The Seven Factors of Awakening
Clear Knowing and Release

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Savatthi in the Eastern Monastery, the palace of Migara’s mother, together with many well-known elder disciples — with Ven. Sariputta, Ven. Maha Moggallana, Ven. Maha Kassapa, Ven. Maha Kaccayana, Ven. Maha Kotthita, Ven. Maha Kappina, Ven. Maha Cunda, Ven. Revata, Ven. Ananda, and other well-known elder disciples. On that occasion the elder monks were teaching and instructing. Some elder monks were teaching and instructing ten monks, some were teaching and instructing twenty monks, some were teaching and instructing thirty monks, some were teaching and instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught and instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion — the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the Pavarana ceremony — the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, he addressed them:

“Monks, I am content with this practice. I am content at heart with this practice. So arouse even more intense persistence for the attaining of the as-yet-unattained, the reaching of the as-yet-unreached, the realization of the as-yet-unrealized. I will remain right here at Savatthi (for another month) through the “White water-lily” month, the fourth month of the rains.”

The monks in the countryside heard, “The Blessed One, they say, will remain right there at Savatthi through the White water-lily month, the fourth month of the rains.” So they left for Savatthi to see the Blessed One.

Then the elder monks taught and instructed even more intensely. Some elder monks were teaching and instructing ten monks, some were teaching and instructing twenty monks, some were teaching and instructing thirty monks, some were teaching and instructing forty monks. The new monks, being taught and instructed by the elder monks, were discerning grand, successive distinctions.

Now on that occasion — the Uposatha day of the fifteenth, the full-moon night of the White water-lily month, the fourth month of the rains — the Blessed One was seated in the open air surrounded by the community of monks. Surveying the silent community of monks, he addressed them:

“Monks, this assembly is free from idle chatter, devoid of idle chatter, and is established on pure heartwood: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that is worthy of gifts, worthy of hospitality, worthy of offerings, worthy of respect, an incomparable field of merit for the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly to which a small gift, when given, becomes great, and a great gift greater: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly. The sort of assembly that it is rare to see in the world: such is this community of monks, such is this assembly — the sort of assembly that it would be worth traveling for leagues, taking along provisions, in order to see.

“In this community of monks there are monks who are Arhants, whose mental effluents are ended, who have reached fulfillment, done the task, laid down the burden, attained the true goal, totally destroyed the fetter of becoming (five higher fetters), and who are released through right gnosis: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of the first set of five fetters (five lower fetters), are due to be reborn (in the Pure Abodes), there to be totally unbound, never again to return from that world (anagamin): such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of (the first) three fetters, and with the attenuation of passion, aversion, and  delusion, are once-returners (sakrdagamin), who — on returning only one more time to this world — will make an ending to stress: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who, with the total ending of (the first) three fetters, are stream-winners (srotapanna), steadfast, never again destined for states of woe, headed for self-awakening: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of the four frames of reference…the four right exertions…the four bases of power…the five faculties…the five strengths…the seven factors of awakening…the noble eightfold path (thirty-seven factors of enlightenment): such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to the development of good will…compassion…appreciation…equanimity (Four Limitless States of Mind)…(the perception of the) foulness (of the body)(asubha)…the perception of inconstancy: such are the monks in this community of monks.

“In this community of monks there are monks who remain devoted to mindfulness of in-and -out breathing.

“Mindfulness of in-and -out breathing, when developed and pursued, is of great fruit, of great benefit. Mindfulness of in-and -out breathing, when developed and pursued, brings the four frames of reference to their culmination. The four frames of reference, when developed and pursued, bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination. The seven factors of awakening, when developed and pursued, bring clear knowing and  release to their culmination.

Mindfulness of In-and -Out Breathing

“Now how is mindfulness of in-and -out breathing developed and pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination?

“There is the case where a monk, having gone to the wilderness, to the shade of a tree, or to an empty building, sits down folding his legs crosswise, holding his body erect, and setting mindfulness to the fore. Always mindful, he breathes in; mindful he breathes out.

• Breathing in long, he discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, he discerns that he is breathing out long.
• Or breathing in short, he discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, he discerns that he is breathing out short.
• He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the entire body, and to breathe out sensitive to the entire body.
• He trains himself to breathe in calming the bodily processes, and to breathe out calming the bodily processes.
• He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to rapture, and to breathe out sensitive to rapture.
• He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to pleasure, and to breathe out sensitive to pleasure.
• He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to mental processes, and to breathe out sensitive to mental processes.
• He trains himself to breathe in calming mental processes, and to breathe out calming mental processes.
• He trains himself to breathe in sensitive to the mind, and to breathe out sensitive to the mind.
• He trains himself to breathe in satisfying the mind, and to breathe out satisfying the mind.
• He trains himself to breathe in steadying the mind, and to breathe out steadying the mind.
• He trains himself to breathe in releasing the mind, and to breathe out releasing the mind.
• He trains himself to breathe in focusing on inconstancy, and to breathe out focusing on inconstancy.
• He trains himself to breathe in focusing on dispassion (literally, fading), and to breathe out focusing on dispassion.
• He trains himself to breathe in focusing on cessation, and to breathe out focusing on cessation.
• He trains himself to breathe in focusing on relinquishment, and to breathe out focusing on relinquishment.

The Four Frames of Reference

1) Now, on whatever occasion a monk breathing in long discerns that he is breathing in long; or breathing out long, discerns that he is breathing out long; or breathing in short, discerns that he is breathing in short; or breathing out short, discerns that he is breathing out short; trains himself to breathe in…and …out sensitive to the entire body; trains himself to breathe in…and …out calming the bodily processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the body in and  of itself — ardent, alert, and  mindful — subduing greed and  distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — the in-and -out breath — is classed as a body among bodies, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the body in and  of itself — ardent, alert, and  mindful — putting aside greed and  distress with reference to the world.

2) On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in…and …out sensitive to rapture; trains himself to breathe in…and …out sensitive to pleasure; trains himself to breathe in…and …out sensitive to mental processes; trains himself to breathe in…and …out calming mental processes: On that occasion the monk remains focused on feelings in and  of themselves — ardent, alert, and  mindful — subduing greed and  distress with reference to the world. I tell you, monks, that this — close attention to in-and -out breaths — is classed as a feeling among feelings, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on feelings in and  of themselves — ardent, alert, and  mindful — putting aside greed and  distress with reference to the world.

3) On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in…and …out sensitive to the mind; trains himself to breathe in…and …out satisfying the mind; trains himself to breathe in…and …out steadying the mind; trains himself to breathe in…and …out releasing the mind: On that occasion the monk remains focused on the mind in and  of itself — ardent, alert, and  mindful — subduing greed and  distress with reference to the world. I don’t say that there is mindfulness of in-and -out breathing in one of confused mindfulness and no alertness, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on the mind in and  of itself — ardent, alert, and  mindful — putting aside greed and  distress with reference to the world.

4) On whatever occasion a monk trains himself to breathe in…and …out focusing on inconstancy; trains himself to breathe in…and …out focusing on dispassion; trains himself to breathe in…and …out focusing on cessation; trains himself to breathe in…and …out focusing on relinquishment: On that occasion the monk remains focused on mental qualities in and  of themselves — ardent, alert, and  mindful — subduing greed and  distress with reference to the world. He who sees clearly with discernment the abandoning of greed and distress is one who oversees with equanimity, which is why the monk on that occasion remains focused on mental qualities in and of themselves — ardent, alert, and mindful — putting aside greed and  distress with reference to the world.

“This is how mindfulness of in-and -out breathing is developed and pursued so as to bring the four frames of reference to their culmination.

The Seven Factors Of Awakening (Branches of Enlightenment)

“And how are the four frames of reference developed and pursued so as to bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination?

1) Mindfulness: On whatever occasion the monk remains focused on the body in and of itself — ardent, alert, and mindful — putting aside greed and distress with reference to the world, on that occasion his mindfulness is steady and without lapse. When his mindfulness is steady and without lapse, then mindfulness as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

2) Wisdom: Remaining mindful in this way, he examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment. When he remains mindful in this way, examining, analyzing, and coming to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

3) Effort: In one who examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, unflagging persistence is aroused. When unflagging persistence is aroused in one who examines, analyzes, and comes to a comprehension of that quality with discernment, then persistence as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

4) Joy: In one whose persistence is aroused, a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises. When a rapture not-of-the-flesh arises in one whose persistence is aroused, then rapture as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

5) Subtleness: For one who is enraptured, the body grows calm and the mind grows calm. When the body and mind of an enraptured monk grow calm, then serenity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

6) Concentration: For one who is at ease — his body calmed — the mind becomes concentrated. When the mind of one who is at ease — his body calmed — becomes concentrated, then concentration as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

7) Equanimity: He oversees the mind thus concentrated with equanimity. When he oversees the mind thus concentrated with equanimity, equanimity as a factor of awakening becomes aroused. He develops it, and for him it goes to the culmination of its development.

(Similarly with the other three frames of reference: feelings, mind, and mental qualities.)

“This is how the four frames of reference are developed and pursued so as to bring the seven factors of awakening to their culmination.

Clear Knowing and  Release

“And how are the seven factors of awakening developed and pursued so as to bring clear knowing and release to their culmination? There is the case where a monk develops mindfulness as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion…dispassion…cessation, resulting in relinquishment. He develops analysis of qualities as a factor of awakening…persistence as a factor of awakening…rapture as a factor of awakening…serenity as a factor of awakening…concentration as a factor of awakening…equanimity as a factor of awakening dependent on seclusion…dispassion…cessation, resulting in relinquishment.

“This is how the seven factors of awakening, when developed and pursued, bring clear knowing and release to their culmination.”

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the monks delighted in the Blessed One’s words.

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Anatta-lakkhana Sutta, The Discourse on the Not-self Characteristic
(Translated from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu)

I have heard that on one occasion the Blessed One was staying at Varanasi in the Game Refuge (Deer Park) at Isipatana (Sarnath). There he addressed the group of five monks:

“Form, monks, is not self. If form were the self, this form would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to form, “Let this form be thus. Let this form not be thus.” But precisely because form is not self, form lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to form, “Let this form be thus. Let this form not be thus.”

“Feeling is not self…

“Perception is not self…

“(Mental) fabrications are not self…

“Consciousness is not self. If consciousness were the self, this consciousness would not lend itself to dis-ease. It would be possible (to say) with regard to consciousness, “Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.” But precisely because consciousness is not self, consciousness lends itself to dis-ease. And it is not possible (to say) with regard to consciousness, “Let my consciousness be thus. Let my consciousness not be thus.”

“What do you think, monks — Is form constant or inconstant?”

“Inconstant, lord.”

“And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?”

“Stressful, lord.”

“And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: “This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am”?”

“No, lord.”

“…Is feeling constant or inconstant?”

“Inconstant, lord.”…

“…Is perception constant or inconstant?”

“Inconstant, lord.”…

“…Are fabrications constant or inconstant?”

“Inconstant, lord.”…

“What do you think, monks — Is consciousness constant or inconstant?”

“Inconstant, lord.”

“And is that which is inconstant easeful or stressful?”

“Stressful, lord.”

“And is it fitting to regard what is inconstant, stressful, subject to change as: “This is mine. This is my self. This is what I am”?”

“No, lord.”

“Thus, monks, any body whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every body is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: “This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.”

“Any feeling whatsoever…

“Any perception whatsoever…

“Any fabrications whatsoever…

“Any consciousness whatsoever that is past, future, or present; internal or external; blatant or subtle; common or sublime; far or near: every consciousness is to be seen as it actually is with right discernment as: “This is not mine. This is not my self. This is not what I am.”

“Seeing thus, the well-instructed disciple of the noble ones grows disenchanted with the body, disenchanted with feeling, disenchanted with perception, disenchanted with fabrications, disenchanted with consciousness. Disenchanted, he becomes dispassionate. Through dispassion, he is fully released. With full release, there is the knowledge, “Fully released.” He discerns that “Birth is ended, the holy life fulfilled, the task done. There is nothing further for this world.””

That is what the Blessed One said. Gratified, the group of five monks delighted at his words. And while this explanation was being given, the hearts of the group of five monks, through not clinging (not being sustained), were fully released from fermentation/effluents.

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I hope that these teachings (Dharma) will inspire you to meditate every day.

Posted by on June 5th, 2011 Comments Off on Three lessons from the Buddha

Can a leopard change his spots?

The Leopard

In the story “How the Leopard Got His spots,” by Rudyard Kipling, it is suggested that the leopard was once without spots, but granted his Ethiopian traveling companion the honor of painting his coat………

“Well, make up your mind,” said the Ethiopian, “because I’d hate to go hunting without you, but I must if you insist on looking like a sun-flower against a tarred fence.”

“I’ll take spots, then,” said the Leopard; “but don’t make ’em too vulgar-big. I wouldn’t look like Giraffe–not for ever so.”

“I’ll make ’em with the tips of my fingers,” said the Ethiopian. “There’s plenty of black left on my skin still. Stand over!”

Then the Ethiopian put his five fingers close together (there was plenty of black left on his new skin still) and pressed them all over the Leopard, and wherever the five fingers touched they left five little black marks, all close together. You can see them on any Leopard’s skin you like, Best Beloved. Sometimes the fingers slipped and the marks got a little blurred; but if you look closely at any Leopard now you will see that there are always five spots–off five fat black finger-tips.

“Now you are a beauty!” said the Ethiopian. “You can lie out on the bare ground and look like a heap of pebbles. You can lie out on the naked rocks and look like a piece of pudding-stone. You can lie out on a leafy branch and look like sunshine sifting through the leaves; and you can lie right across the centre of a path and look like nothing in particular. Think of that and purr!” ………

Oh, now and then you will hear grown-ups say, “Can the Ethiopian change his skin or the Leopard his spots?” I don’t think even grown-ups would keep on saying such a silly thing if the Leopard and the Ethiopian hadn’t done it once–do you? But they will never do it again, Best Beloved. They are quite contented as they are.

Snow Leopard

The idiom, “Can a leopard change his spots?” is used today to imply that just as a leopard cannot change spots, so to human beings cannot change their essential innate nature.

All too often we hear, “you cannot change who you are, people are set in their ways, and you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”  And no amount of trying will help.

But this contemporary aphorism is quickly falling by the ways side.

Zoologists and conservationists alike study the animal kingdom.  They tell us that an adult male leopard can weigh up to 200 pounds, is about 4-½ feet long and often sports a tail in excess of 2-½ feet.  They are the smallest of the 4 big cats (leopard, tiger, lion and jaguar) and their spotted pattern provides camouflage in an environment filled with trees, bushes, and patchy shadows.

Why the leopard has spots while the tiger has strips is not scientifically understood, but it is usually attributed to the nature of their habitat.  A January 2010 issue of the Genetics journal suggests that at least three different pigmentation genes are involved in the emergence of stripes, spots, and other markings on domestic cats.

Researchers at the University of Bristol have developed a mathematical model that links the patterning of the leopard and 34 other species of wild cats to their different habitats.

All leopards have spots over their bodies. Most leopards are yellowish or tan with black spots. Some leopards, however, are born all black, but even they have spots.

There are many types of leopards and over 30 subspecies:

• African Leopard (Panthera pardus pardus) in Africa.
• Amur leopard (Panthera pardus orientalis) in the Russian Far East, northern China, and Korea.
• Arabian Leopard (Panthera pardus nimr) in Arabian Peninsula.
• Anatolian Leopard (Panthera pardus tulliana)
• Barbary Leopard (Panthera pardus panthera)
• Caucasian Leopard (Panthera ciscaucasica) in Asia.
• Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) in India, southeastern Nepal, and northern Bangladesh, and parts of Pakistan.
• Indo-Chinese Leopard (Panthera pardus delacouri) in Mainland Southeast Asia.
• Iran Leopard (Pathera pardus saxicolor)
• Javan Leopard (Pathera pardus melas) in Java, Indonesia.
• Melanistic Leopard also known as Black Panther in Malaya Peninsula.
• North China Leopard (Pathera pardus japonensis) in Northern China.
• Persian Leopard (Pathera pardus saxicolor) in Asia.
• Sinai Leopard (Pathera pardus jarvisi)
• South Arabian Leopard (Pathera pardus nimr)
• Sri Lanka Leopard (Pathera pardus kotiya) in Sir Lanka.
• Zanzibar Leopard (Pathera pardus adersi)

Clouded Leopard

Human evolution and growth is the process of changing spots.

The more inert the mind, the harder it is to change.  But change indeed is what happens when we properly apply intellect (Buddhi) and heart (Hridaya) to our daily activities.

What are the human attributes of growth orientated living?

Take responsibility for your actions and do not blame others
Focus on solutions, not problems
Be in the present but learn from the past
Expand your comfort zone and try new things
Take failure in stride but learn from it
Be humble, not egotistical
Continue to hone and leverage your skills
Set goals
Take consistent action
Dream during the day, not during the night
Control and set your own destiny, don’t leave yourself to fate
Listen while others speak
Help others to achieve their highest goals
Be kind and courteous
Make personal develop your priority
Face your fears, accept them, and take the leap
Believe that there are always new things to learn and places to discover
Give more than you take
etc….

Snow Leopard Cubs

Meditation greatly accelerates human growth.   Scientific studies have shown that meditation:

Is the experience of restful alertness
Increases intelligence growth rate
Improves memory
Increases orderliness of thinking
Increases productivity
Provides for greater job satisfaction
Improves relationships between family and friends
Increases physiological, psychological, and sociological adaptability
Improves physiological, psychological, and sociological stability
Improves reaction time
Help to relieve stress and high blood pressure
Reduces the use of alcohol, cigarettes and non-prescribed drugs
Improves the rehabilitation rate of jail inmates
… and is just fun

A Zen Master once said that a single 20-minute meditation was equivalent to one life time of human growth.  Such is the benefit of closing the eyes and transcending the world of change.

People’s lives can change from suffering to greater happiness.  Your mood and vision of life mostly depends upon what is between your two ears – the content and quality of your mind.

Change hate to love, and embrace all that life has to offer.  The world is as you are.

The artist of creation sits silently behind each and every moment, waiting for you to discover.  Immersed in our garden of dreams we do not see through the veil of ignorance.  But the master weaver sows bliss and eternal consciousness into every fabric.  Just awaken, and be here now.

Maybe a leopard cannot change his spots, but you can.

Posted by on May 2nd, 2011 Comments Off on Can a leopard change his spots?

Dancing Feather and the Inipi (Sweat Lodge) Ceremony

Sweat Lodge

Dancing Feather lived among the rolling hills, protected and revered by the Lakota Nation. Although once part of the Sioux tribe his ancestors broke away to establish their own settlements. Their lands stretched from what is known today as Wisconsin, Minnesota, and the Dakotas (North and South).

The great people of the plains roamed freely, raised their families, and lived in harmony with nature.

Having completed the 24-hour fast Dancing Feather was now ready to start the sweat lodge session, with an opening prayer to the Great Spirit. This was the first time that he was given the privilege to lead the ceremony. Having conducted the tribe’s Sun Dances four years in a row to qualify for this opportunity, he now held the respect of the tribe elders.

The lodge itself was a small domed hut built from cedar and covered with skins. It could hold about 8 members. In the center was a small pit, with wooden embers burning brightly.

There was going to be four prayer rounds today. The first was now starting with the entry of the Grandfathers (i.e., the hot rocks). The single solitary entrance to the lodge was then closed.

The sweat lodge symbolizes the womb of Grandmother Earth and the hot stones represent her body. She supports and provides sustenance for all beings. The fire that heats the rocks represents the enduring light of the world, and is the source of power. The water slowly releases the heat in the stones, which rises as steam and permeates the air to create a humid atmosphere conducive to prayer, healing and purification.

Dancing Feather led the opening prayer. The elders started to sing, rattles were shaken, chants filled the air, and the drums were beating. A prayer to the four directions (Waziyata/North, Itokagata/South, Wiyohiya Pata/East, and Wiyohpe Yata/West) and to the elements of nature was next performed.

This sacred ceremony for the healing of body, mind, and personal spirit was now well underway.

Water was poured over the hot rocks. The steam generated is reverently regarded as “the breath of the grandfathers.”

The Inipi Ceremony (Sweat Lodge Ceremony in Lakota) is considered to be “a tool for life.” It consists of prayer, physical cleansing, group therapy, Shamanic journeys into altered states, and the purification of consciousness. It fosters equanimity of mind and thought, and sensitivity to the flow and grandeur of nature.

Around the sacred fire tobacco is smoked; three different types to take our prayers directly to the Great Spirit. We use …

sage to cleanse body, mind, heart, and spirit
cedar for protection against unfavorable spirits
and sweet grass for the pleasure of the Great Spirit.

After a little while (about 45-minutes) the door is opened and five more rocks are put onto the fire. The first round has ended. For the remainder of the day, time was spent alternating between prayer, pouring water over the hot stones to create steam for sweat and cleansing, the smoking of tobacco, and silent meditation.

Black Elk

Words from Black Elk of the Lakota tribe:
The sweat lodge utilizes all powers of the universe: earth, and things that grow from the earth; water; fire; and air.

**

The Native American Code of Ethics:

Rise with the sun to pray. Pray alone. Pray often.
The Great Spirit will listen, if you only speak.

Be tolerant of those who are lost on their path.
Ignorance, conceit, anger, jealousy and greed stem
from a lost soul. Pray that they will find guidance.

Search for yourself, by yourself. Do not allow others
to make your path for you. It is your road, and
yours alone. Others may walk it with you,
but no one can walk it for you.

Treat the guests in your home with much consideration.
Serve them the best food, give them the best
bed and treat them with respect and honor.

Do not take what is not yours whether from
a person, a community, the wilderness or from a
culture. It was not earned nor given. It is not yours.

Respect all things that are placed upon
this earth – whether it be people or plant.

Honor other people’s thoughts, wishes and words.
Never interrupt another or mock or rudely mimic them.
Allow each person the right to personal expression.

Never speak of others in a bad way. The negative
energy that you put out into the universe
will multiply when it returns to you.

All persons make mistakes.
And all mistakes can be forgiven.

Bad thoughts cause illness of the mind,
body and spirit. Practice optimism.

Nature is not FOR us, it is a PART of us.
They are part of your worldly family.

Children are the seeds of our future. Plant
love in their hearts and water them with
wisdom and life’s lessons. When they
are grown, give them space to grow.

Avoid hurting the hearts of others.
The poison of your pain will return to you.

Be truthful at all times. Honesty is the
test of one’s will within this universe.

Keep yourself balanced. Your Mental self, Spiritual
self, Emotional self, and Physical self – all need
to be strong, pure and healthy. Work out
the body to strengthen the mind. Grow
rich in spirit to cure emotional ails.

Make conscious decisions as to who
you will be and how you will react. Be
responsible for your own actions.

Respect the privacy and personal space of
others. Do not touch the personal property of
others – especially sacred and religious
objects. This is forbidden.

Be true to yourself first. You cannot
nurture and help others if you cannot
nurture and help yourself first.

Respect others religious beliefs.
Do not force your belief on others.

Share your good fortune with others.
Participate in charity.

**

Sweat lodge practices (minus the steam) are similar to Buddhist mindfulness meditation, and many other physical/spiritual enhancing techniques of similar traditions.

Different peoples throughout history have found ways to enliven human growth. Native American cultures lived in harmony with nature, in ways that we as city dwellers cannot appreciate.

But our practice of meditation brings us back to our roots. We are all expressions of the one indelible spirit.

We were asleep as an insentient being, and awoke to our life as plant
We were asleep as a plant, and awoke to our life as animal
We were asleep as animal, and awoke to our life as human
We are asleep as human, and awake to our life as divine

Cherish life in all its forms. Experience the seed of absolute existence found at the source of thought. Dive within each day, and come out brighter and happier.

Posted by on March 15th, 2011 Comments Off on Dancing Feather and the Inipi (Sweat Lodge) Ceremony