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My Favorite Quotes

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I will probably take all the bible quotes here and others, and soon do a separate note like the Qur’anic quotes one.

“The purpose of life is to find the gifts God gave you, the meaning of life is to give them away.” – Unsure

“People demand freedom of speech to make up for the freedom of thought which they avoid.” – Kierkegaard

“Problems can never be solved with the same minds that created them.” – Einstein

Those who would give up Essential Liberty to purchase a little Temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety. – Ben Franklin

“Everybody has to believe in something. I believe I’ll have another beer.”
— W.C. Fields

“It is better for the thinker to control the thoughts than for the thoughts to control the thinker.” – Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow
citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household,”
– Ephesians 2:19

“There are only four questions in life, Don Octavio. What is sacred? what is the spirit made of? what is worth living for, and what is worth dying for? the answer to each is the same. Only love. ”

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be
transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test
and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”-
Romans 12:2

The one who would be frequent in happiness must frequently change. (fortune cookie)

The eye is not strong enough to look at the brilliant sun,
But you can watch its light reflected in water.
Pure Being is too bright to behold,
yet it can be seen reflected in the mirror of this world …
Every particle of the world is a mirror.
In each atom lies the light of a thousand suns.
~Shabistari, The Secret Rose Garden

“No one is afraid of heights, they are afraid of the fall; No one is afraid to play, they are afraid to lose;
No one is afraid of the dark, they are afraid of what’s in it;
No one is afraid to say “I love you”, they are afraid of the response.” – some facebook thing

“When someone tells you you’re cute, they’re looking at your face.
When someone tells you you’re hot, they’re looking at your body.
When someone tells you you’re beautiful, they’re looking at your heart.” – another facebook thing

“God (Brahman) is one without a second. [Its] name is Truth. [She] is the creator, devoid of fear and enmity. He is immortal, unborn, and self-existent. [It] is truth, consciousness, and bliss. [She] is omnipresent, omnipotent, and omniscient. He is changeless and flawless.” – the Adi Granth (Sikhism)

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, “Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?” Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. – a Christian evangelist

In the 0 dimension, there can only be 1 point, that is infinitely thin, short, and cramped. However, because there is only 1 single point, and no other, everything must exist at that point, whether a 1 dimensional, 2 dimensional, or 3 dimensional being. Because of that, we all share at least 1 point in the universe, with everything. – someone on a random online physics forum

Surely the fate of human beings is like that of the animals; the same fate awaits them both: As one dies, so dies the other. All have the same breath (/spirit); humans have no advantage over animals. Everything is meaningless. – Ecclesiastes 3:19

Our problem is that inside us there’s a mind going, “Impossible, impossible, impossible. I can’t, I can’t, I can’t.” We have to banish that mind from this solar system. Anything is possible; everything is possible. Sometimes you feel that your dreams are impossible, but they’re not. Human beings have great potential; they can do anything. The power of the mind is incredible, limitless.
~~ Lama Yeshe ~~

Dr. Ekman once read to the Dalai Lama a passage from Charles Darwin’s The Descent of Man that said one of humankind’s noblest virtues “seems to arise incidentally from our sympathies becoming more tender and more widely diffused, until they are extended to all sentient beings.” After hearing this, His Holiness told Dr Ekman, “I am a Darwinian.” – an online article which now escapes me

Winter Break Poems

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I wrote these a few months ago obviously, but I felt they were worth posting here, now.

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Escape Into Reality
December 16th, 2010

Poor men and women, poor families
going to the church, the temple, the mosque, and calling forth in prayer-
they lose sight of You in trance.

Poor swallowers of inebriating joys…
they are deaf and blind to the great
drunkenness-unparalleled.

Your being alone do I drink;
ne’er do I trance into myself,
but by the glorious sight of non-being.

I am drunk, my mind lost in Your beautiful oblivion.
Joys yet unbeknownst to Thine world.
You will show them.
One day.

—————————————————–

Suffer is Waste
December 24th, 2010

In the frame of a lifetime,
a joy is but a moment:
why be concerned?
Pain is but a moment:
why be concerned?
All shall come and pass.
Life too will come and pass:
why be concerned?
Strive to make use of the gift of
time.
Benefit others;
conquer self:
this is the inexorable,
and unending truth of happiness:
this is the truth of Love.
Love openly, but not loosely.
What you seek is right there.
Have no worry, have no fear.
Why be concerned
when you have Love to share?

—————————————————————

Reaching the Ocean
January 11th, 2011

The greatest endeavors, lost in time
But caught in the blink of an eye,
Do see the light of inward eternity,
And move on, til I give it a try.

Minutes age, and then become years;
This road has been littered with many tears.
But signposts abound, they compel me to fight,
To continue through these darkest of nights.

Thus this battle will prove to be won,
Or else I’ll find a new path to the sun.
Year or minute, it matters not-
For time is merely the veil of my lot.

I enter the now, reality crumbles to my feet
Embracing the will, even it i’ll defeat.
To the ground falls thought and ephemeral dream,
I’ve entered mind’s ocean of truth, so it seems.

———————————————-

Time Will Fall
January 18th, 2011

O dear Meditation,
thrust me beyond the ways of the living,
beside the mind of the dead.
time will fall,
time will surely fall.
self will be broken,
will shall destroy
itself. but Action, thy ways
know me well.
by you i see the face of the
Transcendent. and across the gateway,
through the arches, do lie
contentment. but time,
surely it will fall,
so never do i suffer but the moment
i live before i enter
Eternity. like a raindrop enters
the vast sea; like this i am.

———————————–

Back: Longing
January 23rd, 2011

I’m back from an eternity of unity!
Back into the now, of time;
Back into the everything of stuff-ness;
Back into the being of existence.

I long to return to non-existence!
to be one again with Is;
to be the consciousness through consciousness;
to simply Be.

A List of My Favorite Quotes from the Qur’an

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Surah 1
Surah 2: 62 and 136
Surah 3: 64 and 133-34
Surah 4: 85
Surah 5: 46-48
Surah 7: 199
Surah 16: 97
Surah 19: 16-21
Surah 24: 35
Surah 29: 46
Surah 49: 13
Surah 70: 19-24
Surah 73
Surah 90: 12-17
Surah 103

This site has three translations of the Qur’an back-to-back, verse-by-verse. Look up these verses. Seriously. http://www.usc.edu/schools/college/crcc/engagement/resources/texts/muslim/quran/

On Acts of Kindness Under the Eyes of God

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An act of kindness or compassion generates the same merit regardless of who does it; a prayer to God is the same regardless of the faith of the person presenting it; in sum: a good act is a good act. There is no double-standard with God. One cannot do God’s work without God; thus, the religion in question is irrelevant.

If people from religions A, B, C, and D all donate $100 to charity, whose donation was the greatest in God’s eyes? First let’s assume the religions are all completely differing in beliefs, especially about the nature of God, and that they all donated to the same charity. Now we must look at the two types of merit: merit derived through physical actions, and merit through non-physical actions or mental formations (thoughts and feelings). Now certainly, physically speaking the merit could differ in terms of the sacrifice each of these individuals made of their time, energy, and total amount of wealth (Bill Gates donating $100 is not the equivalent of a homeless man donating $100), but for the sake of argument here, we will assume that these men lead equally busy lives, doing the same profession, and have equal amounts of total wealth. This removes any confounding variables for our thought experiment.

Now, I have heard the argument that God would favor the person following religion “X,” because they are donating in the name of “X’s” deity, which is the proper deity. I have also heard the argument that it is anyone but the follower of religion “X,” because they are all ignorant of the “truth” and are thereby committing the good act without the help of [proper deity X] and simply from the kindness of their own heart alone (not that this will save the person from eternal torment in hell). The really cracker-jack people (sarcasm) would say that only followers of religion X are committing a virtuous deed, and that all others are not really virtuous deeds, but are simply deceptions induced by evil which are meant to trick the good followers of X away from [proper deity X].

But today I submit to you for your own consideration that it is the intention and emotion with which the person donates the money which determines the amount of non-physical merit in God’s eyes. If person from religion A gives the money with pride in his heart, person from religion B gives the money with regret and attachment to the money, person from religion C gives the money because “deity C ‘said so’,” and person from religion D gives the money out of nothing at all but genuine compassion and kindness for the people benefiting from the donation, it will be the person from religion D whose act is most favored by the “supreme deity” whether it’s deity A, B, C, or D. If all act from true compassion and kindness, then it will be the levels of genuine compassion and kindness they each possess by which the merit or virtue of their actions is judged. And true compassion is always a more favorable reason than “because God said so.” Biblical example: Mark 12:41-44 and/or Luke 21:1-4

What follows from this conclusion is that virtue acted out from the genuine emotions of compassion and kindness are more favorable to God than acting simply because God commanded us to. God says in the scriptures of the world to love your neighbor, not just to act kindly toward him/her, but to actually have the emotion of compassion, kindness, or if realized enough: agape (transcendent, unconditional, non-dual love) – or bodhicitta for my readers familiar with Buddhist terminology. Truly virtuous and moral actions by any individual are thus inherently following God.

As for the side of prayer, any prayer is inherently directed to the same thing. The nature of the functioning of the mind itself necessitates that prayer go in the direction of what we call in the West: God. If one prays, they are establishing a relationship with God, and it does not matter by which name the individual refers to God. If you have the gall, the audacity, the sheer pretentiousness required to assert that another’s prayer is illegitimate, then you really need to look at yourself in the mirror of discriminating awareness and reflect internally on the nature of yourself and your faith.

Godliness is measured by communion with that which is the most Transcendent and Immanent, the Ultimate Reality, the seed of the clear light of consciousness itself, and, in addition, by one’s virtuous and moral actions in relation to others. To deny others of this is not only wrong, but utterly disgraceful.

The New Christianity

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John 14:10-12:
“[10] Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you I do not speak on my own authority. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. [11] Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the works themselves. [12] Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father.”
and John 14:20:
“[20] On that day you will realize that I am in my Father, and you are in me, and I am in you.”
when taken together imply directly that God is within you. And through that, you can do essentially anything (“greater works than Christ” basically implies doing anything). Furthermore, Luke records Christ’s explanation that the “Kingdom of God/Heaven is within you” (Luke 17:21), where “Kingdom of God/Heaven” has been described as in its simplest form “being with God for eternity.” The conclusion one must draw from the Bible if looking at explicit verses is that our most basic nature is God. The deepest part of our being is God, and if you can fully take Christ as an example, you can tap into that infinite potential. Conclusion: according to the Bible we all have Christ-nature at the deepest level of our being, just as Buddha taught that we have Buddha-nature, and Krishna taught that we have a soul synonymous with God which is Him.

The implications which follow from this are needless to say, highly profound, as everything expounded by the Eastern religions (and Buddhism in particular) now becomes highly relevant to Christians. Having “an eternal unity with God” with you (Luke 17:21) and being one with the one who is one with God (Christ [John 14:20]) are fairly clear in delineating our unity with the Absolute. If that’s not enough John 14:12 says that through realizing this unity with the Absolute we obtain something akin to omnipotence. I’ll be continuing this look at how Christians can learn valuable lessons from Eastern texts that take this conclusion further in future posts.

I Wonder…

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I wonder what the truth really is.
Do we really know it?
Maybe some religions hold the truth
And others don’t.
Maybe none of them do.
Maybe it’s just certain fortunate individuals who’ve found the truth
Maybe it’s just God who knows the truth,
And that’s why he’s God.
Or perhaps God is truth.
Maybe all the religions hold the truth somewhere
Maybe everything in life is permeated by truth to some degree
And also falsity.
Maybe we have souls separate from the aggregate of our psycho-physical constituents
Maybe we don’t have souls.
Maybe the mind is the soul.
Maybe morality exists.
Maybe it doesn’t.
If it does, maybe that’s the meaning of life.
Perhaps there is no meaning of of life.
Does the meaning of life relate to the nature of reality?
Does it relate to morality, or the mind, or truth, or God?
Probably, but I don’t know.
Can we know truth?
Can we know the mind?
Can we know reality, or God?
Certainly we can know God.
Or maybe not.
Is he personal or impersonal?
Maybe he’s both.
Is he a “he”?
Or a “she”?
Is she transcendent or immanent?
Maybe she’s both.
Or perhaps she’s an “it”
Maybe it’s within all of us.
Maybe it’s completely beyond us.
Maybe it’s the Creator.
Or maybe everything just was and will be for eternity
Is love the greatest human faculty?
Or maybe the capacity for enlightenment.
Maybe we can’t reach enlightenment.
Does God exist?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Or maybe God exists, but not as we’ve known God to exist.
Does existence exist?
Maybe. Maybe not.
Or maybe it exists, but not as we tend to think it exists.
Is there worth to asking these questions?
Maybe there is.
Or maybe the worth lies solely in the answers.
Maybe these questions are all of what it is to be human.
Maybe mystery is what breathes life into instruments by the hands of miniature creators,
Mimicking God.
Maybe mystery is what drives poets and adventurers mad with passion.
Maybe it drove Einstein, Lao-tze, Christ, and Muhammad.
Maybe mystery permeates the greatest sacred books the world has ever known.
Maybe it’s mystery which creates beauty and happiness and peace.
Maybe mystery is the greatest thing that we can know.
How funny would that be! The greatest wisdom is ignorance!
Or maybe not.

Strengthening the Will

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Willpower is one of the greatest gifts of humankind. It gives us self-control. In the words of an acquaintance: “If you can’t control yourself, someone else will.” Emotion is one of the strongest sources of lost control. This is why it’s so essential to remember that even if you are hurting emotionally, you don’t necessarily have to be hurting in other areas of your mind. We really shouldn’t break down and lose the ability to think when we’re in emotional pain. When we’re angry we often say and do things we don’t mean to people and hurt them. This is because our emotion consumes the rest of our mind and handicaps our rationality. It’s fine to feel anger, but our rationality should never go by the wayside. If we don’t have control, then we’ve given up our will, and our will is quite possibly the greatest gift we have. That’s the point of fasting, for instance: to strengthen our will power.

Strong will means strong love, too. The love of someone with more willpower is more valuable than the love of one who has next to no willpower and is at the mercy of their innate tendencies because it comes from a place of true compassion or intentional devotion rather than their biological desire for the person. Innate tendencies push us to be what we don’t want to be. It takes a great deal of strength to assure otherwise. Emotions in part are natural reactions to things, but they don’t have to consume us so far that we lose the rest of our mind. If we do, that indicates a lack of willpower and self-control. Animals cannot control their emotions and think rationally. We as humans have the amazing gift (and duty) to be above that, and fully utilize our will.

Emotion is not the only source of lost control. More commonly it is the senses which reduce our will. Pleasures of tongue, touch, smell, eye, and ear bind us, while avoiding certain things unpleasant to the senses helps secure that bondage. In the spirit of this i’ve outlined the sense experiences in my life which i most need to gain control over:

1.) Sleep – My inability to control my sleepy mind and to retain full awareness when tired; the inability to force myself to wake up after taking a nap.
2.) Eating and drinking – i’ve pretty much gotten control over my drinking habits by drinking water almost exclusively for the last couple weeks. i was nearly addicted to soda and energy drinks, but now they are beneath me, and it hasn’t been too hard to maintain. In terms of eating however, i’ve had little luck. When i eat typically i don’t feel full until i feel sick. Actually even then i still usually feel hungry, which i attribute to the food i eat. Delicious food is extremely attractive to my sense of taste, and i don’t have much command over it. i also typically have eaten anything and everything put in front of me. Now i’m avoiding sugar and meat as much as possible (sugar makes me crash and the meat makes me groggy because of the energy it takes to digest it).
3.) Exercise – i have avoided exercise thus-far in my life because i don’t like to feel tired, nor the minor discomfort of physical exertion. Now i’m attempting daily exercise, however minimal such as push-ups, sit-ups, yoga, jogging, etc. Anything at all really.
4.) Sexuality – i am a teenage boy. so sexual desire comes with the territory. a firm reminder to control myself so as not to let sexual thoughts arise, or to prevent sexual arousal is a MASSIVE test of my willpower.

We’ll see how these new lifestyle changes go from now on, as i don’t plan to stop at any point if i can help it. Hopefully my willpower will be strengthened significantly to increase my ability in focus and concentration, especially in meditation. The added willpower i will gain from this will go to my effort in trying to always bear in mind patience, and awareness of the present moment, awareness of the dream-like nature of phenomena (for dream yoga), and awareness of my innate Buddha-nature and capacity to affect the world as an enlightened being one day. In addition it will go to my simply trying to get my work done.

The Mind and Consciousness

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Outline:
-Intro
-Consciousness
-The Source
-The Mind
-Reality
-What Meditation Is
-How to Meditate
-Conclusion

Intro

What is the hell is the mind? What the hell is this thing we all seem to have up there in our heads? We don’t quite seem to understand it too much. Even psychologists who claim to understand it rarely exhibit much more control or understanding of their own mind than the rest of us. i don’t claim to fully understand it, but through studying the words of those who have come to understand it, and by taking what i consider to be baby steps towards understanding it (including intensive study and some level of basic practices), i’ve come to some conclusions about it.

So let’s begin with an experiment. Look at your mind. No, not your thoughts, and not your emotions either. i’m referring to the thing over which all the stuff in your head takes place: the mind itself. Look at it. Go on, i’ll wait….
…..
So how’d that go? Not so well i’m guessing. And how crazy is that, to think that you rely on the mind for literally EVERYTHING. i mean, it’s YOU. Yet you have no idea what it is. You can’t even really locate it within yourself. Well let’s see if one little blog post might take you a step or two closer to knowing what it is and how to find it.

Consciousness

Consciousness is really just clarity and awareness, or arising and engaging. Sensory and thought objects arise, and then we engage with them. For them to arise we must be able to clearly recognize them, and then in engaging with them, what we’re really doing is being aware of them. Consciousness is non-conceptual, while all conceptual thought is tied to the 5 senses (see my older note on “the Nature of Transcendence”). The mind is the aggregate of root-consciousness and sensory-consciousness, from which manifests conceptuality, the self, etc. When i say to look at the mind, i’m really saying to look at your root-consciousness. What is root-consciousness? Clarity and awareness. Root-consciousness – accessed through awareness – is the pure non-conceptuality into which one can dissolve all sensory-based conceptual thought. If you can observe it long enough, bliss arises within your mind. Sometimes eastern religions talk about mindfulness, but how is mindfulness different from awareness? The Abrahamic faiths are choc-full of commandments and rules and things to bear in mind; What are these but things to increase your awareness? The soul is measured in awareness, because the soul is awareness. At the most basic level we all have the very same awareness that is pure, spotless, boundless, infinite, and so on. At the conventional level of things, however, some have tapped into this more than others, and these individuals can be thought of as closer to their soul than those who are not so aware. These are usually the great artists, philosophers, passionate scientists, and spiritual masters scattered throughout history.

The Source

Consciousness is also the source of existence. Whether you believe in a personal Creator god, or not, consciousness is really the source of reality. At the most obvious level, everything that you know and perceive is seen through the lens of the mind, and so for you and every other individual, reality originates in the mind. Penetrate to less obvious levels and you reach the realm of ontology (the branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of being). Many religions describe the process of the creation of the universe involving God or gods or so on. But what’s really happening in these stories? Creation originates in the minds of these deities, who are conscious beings: which is to say, creation began with consciousness. Even if they are completely above and beyond ourselves, if they are conscious, they utilize the same process of at least root-consciousness as we mortal and mundane beings do. No matter how you slice it, if there is a Creator or creators, physical existence originated in consciousness. On the other end of the spectrum of generally accepted ontological opinions, there is science. You might be surprised to learn that modern science says that conscious observers are responsible for reality’s organization as we see it; that is, we create history by observing it, rather than just observing history creating itself and us. Thus, top-down causality has been proven infeasible. Reality is not rigidly defined the way we conventionally consider it to be: it’s a) ever changing, and b) dependent upon our consciousness to determine how it will arrange itself. *

*There are 3 main views of the nature of reality. Creationism, emanationism, and materialism. This paragraph addressed creationism and materialism, but not emanationism for simplicity’s sake. Emanationism is, however, just as much if not more in support of the notion of consciousness being the origin of existence in some way.

The Mind

Let’s broaden our scope a little further to include the mind as a whole, which includes – in addition to consciousness and the senses – feeling, perception, and mental formations or dispositions. To expand on the previous paragraph’s ontological discussion of the implications of consciousness, let us examine things from a more psychological perspective. Reality (that is to say, a reality) exists, but not in the manner of which we are accustom to talking about. This usual way of speaking about phenomena is an impossible manner of existence. Our mind takes in sensory information and engages with it through consciousness and then we see everything imbued with qualifiers and statements of being. What’s more, positive or negative feelings about what we perceive arise, and then our mind fits what we perceive in with our deeply ingrained mental dispositions (schemas). The positive or negative feelings which arise we tend to mistake as genuine perception of some aspect of the phenomena which we experience, and the influence of our mental dispositions is nearly always ignored or forgotten.

Reality

Qualifiers and statements of being must inherently be derivations of one’s own mind. When something is perceived, it is translated through the lens of sense-based conceptuality. For example, consider a beautiful sunset as i was when this realization dawned upon me. The sunset is not beautiful inherently by it’s own nature, but rather its beauty is inherently from the mind itself that is perceiving the sunset. To phrase it a little less verbosely; you make (or your mind makes) the sunset beautiful. Beauty is not present in the arrangement of photons flying through the atmosphere. The beauty is in your mind. Any statement of being is the mind itself. Another example i often cite when explaining anything about the mind to people is the notion of happiness or contentment, which is something that in everyday life we attribute to objects and individuals around us. We want a candy-bar and the want creates a sort of dis-ease or tension in us that getting a candy-bar removes. We get the candy-bar and feel so happy! But we mistakenly attribute happiness to the candy-bar itself. There is no happiness inside a physical candy-bar. The mind draws happiness from itself and then mistakenly attributes or imbues the happiness upon the candy-bar. This works for all things and people. Happiness, beauty, pain, fear, depression, anxiety, contentment, peace, bliss, all are aspects of the mind itself which the mind brings out of itself. Here is where meditation becomes relevant. And now that we’ve established what consciousness is, as well as its being the source of existence, and that the greater mind as a whole is the source of reality existing in the conventional manner we are used to, let’s examine how to go about knowing/perceiving the mind. Let’s examine meditating on the mind.

What Meditation Is

Meditation at its core is essentially about prolonged concentration or abiding on something unwaveringly. Concentration is essentially awareness, which we saw in preceding paragraphs is able to dissolve conceptual thought and sensation. If you’ve meditated before, it was probably the breath that you meditated upon, non-judgmentally watching it rise and fall. Maybe you’ve done some body-scanning to generate greater awareness of yourself. These are fantastic foundations, but they are just the first few steps! In this meditation i’m about to explain to you, called mahamudra, instead of becoming completely focused on the breath, you focus on the mind itself: you watch your own consciousness. How do you do this? Well thousands of years of philosophies and meditative practices are about to be condensed into a few sentences, so bear with me.

How to Meditate

To begin this meditation, watch the 5 senses. By this i mean, watch yourself seeing as opposed to the sight objects you see. Then focus on your hearing as opposed to sounds. Then focus on your smelling, rather than the smells themselves. Then touch itself as opposed to the physical sensations themselves. Lastly taste itself, rather than the myriad tastes you experience. Now, if you can do this (which i’ll admit, for some people, is not easy), focus on the mind as opposed to the mind objects (thoughts and emotions). Thoughts and feelings are like clouds which take place over the back-drop of the clear, expansive sky. Some days are cloudier than others, but even when you can’t see the sky, you know it’s there. If you can see the sky (mind) underneath the clouds (thoughts and emotions), then focus on it! If a cloud (mind-object) moves in the way of the sky (mind), first recognize that, then either wait for the cloud (mind-object) to move out of your way, look at a different part of the sky (mind), or, my usual method, examine the cloud (mind-object) itself. Look deeply into this thought or emotion’s nature and like a cloud it will simply dissipate! The mind-objects, like clouds in the sky, arise in the mind and dissolve in the mind. Thus, they are really just part of the mind itself. If you maintain awareness of the mind-object it will dissipate into the mind, because awareness is the mind. If you suddenly move from being aware of your awareness, then focus your awareness on the thought and as it’s part of the mind, you’re ultimately bombarding awareness with awareness, and driving it back into awareness!

Conclusion

If you practice doing this enough, eventually observing the mind will become more and more effortless. In time, a sort of peaceful bliss will begin to arise- remember the mind is the source of all happiness. This is only the beginning of mahamudra. i haven’t bothered to go into vipashyana mahamudra, as i haven’t even gotten close to this myself. Nonetheless, i hope this helped you in some way come to understand your mind a little better!

The Nature of Transcendence

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June 9, 2010

I dedicate this recent realization,
From my young, naïve, and unlearned mind,
To the sentient beings who seek comfort in wisdom.
May they gain something positive from this essay,
And go on to find refuge from suffering,
In whatever school of thought they ascribe to.
I pray that I am forgiven for my ignorance,
And that my misgivings be respectfully corrected,
So that eventually I may refine my thinking
Enough to benefit the entire world.

The Nature of Transcendence

The mind thinks in terms of conceptual thought. Such is the nature of thought itself. Almost always, these thoughts can only be conceptualized in terms of the five senses. For instance, it is impossible (at least impossible for me) to conceptualize a number without utilizing one of the five senses*. Take the number five. In your mind you may see the number symbol “5,” or the word “five,” or see five objects. You may hear the word “five,” in english or any number of other languages. If you can read braille, you may be able to feel the symbol for “5,” or in general you may be able to imagine feeling five separate objects. In any case, you are unable to perceive of the true concept of “five” without utilizing any of the five senses or memory of them.

The only concepts which can be fathomed by the mind but are beyond the five senses are the “ineffable” concepts of pure nothingness, infinity, pure unity (singularity; infinite smallness; the opposite of infinity), pure being, and consciousness itself. These are ineffable because you cannot perceive of them in relation to your senses, only your mind. In this way, they are pure mental objects. Being beyond the senses, these objects are truly transcendent from the world we’re all used to, which is the one completely steeped in sense-based conceptual perception. All being transcendent, these ineffable concepts are truly the different sides of the same hand. Furthermore, I believe that as these ineffables have the very same transcendent nature, that this nature in and of itself is the concept which is called “God.”

The enlightened mind therefore, is one which has brought these slightly different concepts of transcendence onto the same level; in other words, unified them into a single perception of transcendence. This perception brings pure peace, because all negative emotions, such as worry, are based on sensory-based conceptual thought. The ineffables bringing one’s mind to a truly transcendent state leads to peace, and a subsequent joy rooted within that feeling of pure peace. Even generally positive emotions arise from this sensory-based conceptual thought. Strong love generally requires at the very least a duality of self and that which is not the self. The only exception to this is having transcendent love, that is, infinite love; unconditional love, known in greek as “agape” (pronounced “a-ga-pay”). In the case of having agape as a predisposition, one needn’t stray long from the perception of the ineffable to have the emotion. A truly realized master, needn’t even stray at all. They simply give compassion and acceptance to whatever unconceptualized perceptions they face at any given moment, including the self, other beings, and even inanimate objects, as they are all one and the same as far as their transcendent nature is concerned. Thus is the nature of enlightenment; a mind steeped in the nature of the Transcendent, or what we call God.

To realize a unification of the handful of ineffable concepts does certainly require some bit of either extraordinary mental capacities or considerable effort. This isn’t to say it is beyond anyone, as, I would argue, since the concepts are pure thought alone, they are reflections of the base nature of consciousness itself; however, those who have some extraordinary faculties of thought, or who have strong enough drives and the means to put forth great effort, are naturally more likely to have an easier time with the process. For the vast number of people who either do not have the extraordinary faculties, who aren’t aware of their faculties, who are burdened by time and emotional constraints, and the like, bringing to mind the true common nature of the ineffable concepts (God) is not feasible. So to bring the ineffable into the realm of sensory-based conceptual thought, God is made personal. Since these people are in the majority, it is unsurprising that most religious traditions in the world have attempted to make God personal, and it is not wrong or false. The true nature of these ineffable concepts is an experience, and therefore is rooted in the first person. Each individual is given different personalities which are based on the causes and conditions of that individual’s past, and so for some, the experience of the ineffables may have to be personal, otherwise it is completely beyond that person either in what they can experience or in what they want to experience; the only remaining option being to revert to atheism, agnosticism, or skepticism.

Certain religious traditions such as Buddhism,Taoism, and certain schools of Hinduism have almost perfectly captured the nature of the transcendent qualities, and developed rituals, practices, and philosophies which follow from it. Other traditions (to be honest, most traditions) began from the premise that the process of arriving at the enlightened mind, where the common nature of the ineffable concepts is the basis of perception, is beyond the capacities of most people or otherwise outside the common desires of people, and so they immediately reverted to giving God personal attributes as to be more suitable to the minds of the masses. Not to say that these religions were developed purposefully and intentionally in such a manner, but rather they developed naturally alongside the collective minds of each of the myriad world societies. Both systems point to the very same truth however, and I believe that in the spirit of overcoming the sensory-based conceptual thought, the goal now should be widespread recognition of this fact and looking past the names and rituals which divide the wisdom traditions.

I hope this essay was useful, helpful in some way, or at the very least, did not increase your suffering.

-Jake

*The numbers 1, and 0, can effectively correspond with the ineffable concepts of unity and pure nothingness, which are addressed in the next paragraph. They are unique numbers in this regard.

On Escaping From Adversity and Suffering

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Topical Outline:
Preface/Dedication
Introduction
The Ultimate Refuge
The Inner World
Karma
How to Cultivate the Inner World
4 Types of Escapes
Conclusion

This is a long post, but that’s because its content has long been in the works in my mind and the message in detail is fairly needed at the moment. It is my sincere hope that it serves to benefit even at least a single person.

By the virtues collected in the three times
by myself and all beings in samsara and nirvana
and by the innate root of virtue,
may I and all sentient beings quickly attain
unsurpassed, perfect, complete, precious Enlightenment.

Introduction

Everyone experiences great suffering: this is a fact of life itself. For those who frequent facebook, it can often be very clear as to the extent of this suffering- how pervasive, vast, unending, and common it is – by simply scrolling down their news feed. It is therefore natural that people (and you know this applies to you too) seek to escape this suffering by any means necessary, though typically it’s the means that requires the least effort and shows the quickest results in the immediate moment. Simple causality shows where this can be problematic, as much future suffering inevitably is the fruit of actions that were intended to reduce the suffering of the past. Therefore, cultivating escapes that are mindful of more than just this moment are essential to reaching lasting periods of peace and happiness free from this pervasive suffering. This does not mean that all short-term benefiting escapes are inherently bad, wrong, sinful, or will lead to pain in the future; but realistically most will.

The Ultimate Refuge

Before I attempt to describe a model of escapes which should prove useful in making the conscious choices that will lead one to a future free from much of the suffering of the present (one that is applicable to people of all faiths), I should like to make clear a point which embodies the scope of my message here. So many people have life conditions at present that are so conducive to their suffering, it is like very fertile soil that when a seed-cause meets it, it immediately grows into the effect of suffering. These individuals typically have the natural urge to literally escape in a physical sense, from the place they’re at to a new place (or perhaps more appropriately, a new living condition). Psychologically there is certainly real truth to this being efficacious to a large extent; however, for some leaving the place they are at is for the time-being all but a pipe dream. So they continue suffering each day, and dreaming of one day leaving the suffering, but really don’t get any closer to realizing that dream. The great secret (which isn’t actually a secret) is: they have a place to escape to whenever they need. In fact, you are no exception. In everyone there is a refuge unlike any other in this world, and that is inside one’s own mind.

The Inner World

The Christians say Christ, the Muslims say God, the Hindus say the supreme Self, and the Buddhists say the expansive mind that ultimately lacks any fixed self, but ultimately all are psychologically the same (metaphysically though, the floor is open for debate). In every instance there is a rich inner reality that serves as the basis for peace of mind and even true happiness, regardless of the strife present in the outer world. If you ever feel like you want to run away from the difficulties you face in the present, you always have a whole entire other world to run to. You can call it by the name of a deity that you like, or call it the self or the non-self, or just simply “mind,” but the psychological effect is unambiguously the same. The Christian really did find comfort in Christ, the Muslim really did find solace in Allah, the Hindu really did find peace in Eternity, as did the Buddhist in emptiness and selflessness (which provides a meaningful unity with all things in paradoxically the same way as the Hindus who come at it from the opposite perspective). All religions are true. I hold this as the basis of my life because my short life-experience has proven it to be reality. But my Omnism aside, my point still stands: cultivate your inner world, because it is the greatest place of refuge you can ever have in this life.

But Jake, how do I do that? Good question, hypothetical-curious-person.

Karma

Let us return to paragraph 2, where I described how living conditions are like soil which allow the seeds of causes to take root and grow into effects. If effects are like trees, then the choices we can make when faced with that resulting effect are like the trees’ fruit. Fruit can be consumed on the spot when picked, or it can be planted into a new tree (sometimes both), and here we have the law of karma. Karma literally translates from the original Sanskrit as “action,” and since both cause and effect are themselves the other, the overarching aspect which defines causality is appropriately called “action.” Even the fruit of effects (the choices you can make when faced with them) can be considered action, for your final choice is your choice of action. So this is the law of karma- or in biblical terms “reaping what you sow.” I also consider it to be the very same as the “will of God.” Regardless of your metaphysical beliefs, again, the idea and effect is exactly the same. Good actions lead to good things (happiness), bad actions lead to bad things (suffering). Things aren’t so black and white as this of course, thus all actions will bear bad and good fruit, and ultimately what seems to matter more than action itself is one’s choice of action: which fruit from the tree you will choose to take.

How to Cultivate the Inner World

Typically people “choose” unconsciously; they feel angry so they act violently, which makes them feel more hatred and ultimately anger; or they’ll feel lonely and so withdraw from others, which contributes to the loneliness. And while these are specific, isolated examples, they illustrate the point I’m trying to make, which is that you have to choose consciously. When an effect grows to maturity and bears fruit, you get to choose what fruit to take and either eat or plant for the future (example: if your karma bears wealth, you can spend it on yourself, or put it in a bank, or help others with it). The effect growing to maturity means that you will feel a certain emotion, and it is your range of options of what to do with that emotion which is the choice of fruit. Choosing consciously means living consciously, and living consciously means growth as an individual, happiness, and over time, wisdom. The awareness which is so important to Eastern traditions, is basically another way of describing living consciously. Rather than getting stuck in the loop of negative action -> negative karma -> negative emotion -> negative action, you take the best fruit you can from the negative emotion and choose consciously a positive action. People don’t usually consider this, but making the responsible choice, especially in the majority of negative experiences, is true and authentic power. If you want to escape a difficult living situation because you feel you have no control, generating authentic power through conscious living is the first step. Yet even beyond that, you begin the cultivation of the inner world. If you can do this long enough, your inner world will pretty much create itself. A few pointers to bear in mind, however:
-don’t be afraid of your mind
-spend at least some time in solitude and quiet every day
-don’t let emotions take the reigns of your life (they are extensions of you, you aren’t extensions of them)
-if something seems painful or difficult to accept, don’t ignore it
-maintain clarity of mind wherever possible, and don’t forget that negative actions will always muddy the mind

The 4 Types of Escapes

Now back to the original topic which is escapes*. Escapes exist on a spectrum between simple casual recreation and extreme, dependency-driven addictions. For simplicity’s sake I call everything of this anti-suffering nature “escapes.” Thus, all of the experience of life can be boiled down between suffering and escapes or “non-suffering.” I mentioned in the first paragraph though (and have alluded to throughout the rest of this essay), that certain recreations lead to more suffering in the future, while others generate the conditions for future happiness. So now we have a second dichotomy within escapes themselves. And there is a third dichotomy between the nature of the escape as being of a psycho-physical nature or a primarily psychological one. These two divisions of escapes create four primary groups of all activities of non-suffering:

1) Group 1 is things that affect one psycho-physically in a positive manner as regards one’s future happiness and the cultivation of one’s inner world. These activities are the least social, taking place entirely within oneself; are the least commonly practiced forms of escape/recreation; and arguably are the most effective means of growth as an individual and hence, generating a rich, vast, complex inner world. Activities of Group 1 are capable of removing suffering entirely, of putting someone on a new, different growth path, or of leading to stagnation in the case that a person always resorts to these and never seeks to expand them. Prominent examples are: meditation, prayer (so long as it’s not simply ritual), yoga, and tai chi.

2) Group 2 consists of purely psychologically involved actions which are positive as regards growth of oneself and their inner world. These actions have at least the capacity to be social, though typically are not very much so (with the notable exception of altruism), and are more common than Group 1. Group 2 allows for the expansion of the mind into new areas, easing suffering to manageable points a little less than Group 1 but still considerably, and giving the means for the release of suffering in a method that moves one forward. Group 2 by nature almost can’t lead to stagnation of growth. Examples are: acts of altruism/helping people, poetry, philosophy, the arts, imagination, and meaningful discussion.

3) Group 3 consists of the psycho-physical actions which do not lead to personal growth or developing of one’s inner world. These activities are typically far more social than those of Group 2, and are more common forms of recreation/escape than Group 2. Group 3 is very easily (and commonly) abused. Examples include: substances, self-mutilation (like cutting), emotional eating, anorexia, sex, masturbation, and adrenaline rushes.

4) Group 4 activities are those non-psycho-physically affective actions which do not contribute to growth or future happiness. These are the most social actions, almost always requiring interaction with others, and are the most common non-suffering actions humans engage in. Many of these activities are simple habituations. Examples are: games, dancing, ritual, media (of entertainment, that is; most anything on your Iphone), meaningless discussion (gossip, idle chatter, etc.).
A few notes about the four groups:
-The examples given in each case are by no means a comprehensive list.
-All these non-suffering activities are emotionally meaningful, but Groups 1 and 2 have the added benefit of being intellectually meaningful.
-Groups 3 and 4 are temporary relief from suffering, but create little to no lasting conditions for peace and happiness, in fact, they tend to create conditions for future adversity and suffering.
-Substances**, ritual, and media have the capacity and are frequently given the defense that they often open people up to Groups 1 and 2. While very true, that cannot be easily planned or predicted, and these activities are rarely used with this positive goal in mind. If this is the goal in mind, they are much more likely to be fruitful.

*Please note that by “escapes” what I’m referring to is any and all actions that generate a mental state of non-suffering/contentment/happiness – calling them “escapes” is much shorter, which is why I chose to use it.

**A wise man, and respected friend of mine gave me this anecdotal representation of what drugs can do for one spiritually which I felt was worth noting:
Imagine you’re traveling through the desert seeking the holy city, but you don’t know where the holy city is. If you look through a telescope you might possibly be lucky enough that you point it in the direction of the holy city. But should you be so lucky, what good does it do you to set up camp right there and just periodically point your telescope in the direction of your goal? As it stands you’re merely getting a small glimpse of the beauty from afar. Complete your journey and you enter the beauty itself. Sometimes, you’re not even seeing the actual city, but are actually seeing a mirage because the telescope lense is dirty.

Conclusion

Nobody wants to suffer, and thus all actions can really be considered actions of non-suffering, because that is the goal in every instance. The question here is one of the karma of the actions we choose and how those choices will affect us in the future. If your goal is to find peace and happiness, or to simply have a place of refuge to go from the suffering and difficulties of life, then try to make your recreation consist of Groups 1 and 2 more, and likewise try to cut back somewhat on dependency on Groups 3 and 4. Cultivate your inner world as much as possible, and try always to be mindful of karma so that you take control of your life by living consciously and intentionally at all times. If you seek escape from adversity and suffering, to sum up the essence of this essay: do not neglect the world of spirit.

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