Sunday, December 23, 2012

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #6)

There are Ten Fetters that keep us from getting our Zen on.


How can we keep from wanting Material Existence?  We have to want to at least exist, don't we?

Do we?

The human that is "you" (and the human that is "I") naturally wants to survive.  That's the survival instinct, and it exists in sparrows, badgers, and humans alike.

The "survival instinct" is really just your stomach saying, "EAT! NOW" and your skin saying "SHIVER! MAKE A FIRE! GO INSIDE" and your brain saying, "GET ALONG WITH THESE HUMANS SO YOU CAN MAKE SOME MONEY AND GET SOME FOOD."

Even the basest, non-aware person knows at least this.  The stomach, for better or worse, makes damned sure we get up in the morning and maintain our material existence.

But with practice, we can see that this person our awareness rides around in is eventually either going to:
  1. Die from old age.
  2. Die early by accident or violence.
  3. Die early due to illness.
These are the only ways out folks.

This sixth fetter manifests itself when the human (you or I) imagines and is attached to the idea that the human is in any way a permanent thing.  We are brief spasms of biologic activity.  This awareness, if that even exists, is a lucky manifestation of the universe.  There is no "you" or "I" to want to exist in the first place.

This fetter doesn't counteract or negate the survival instinct in all of us.  "Not wanting material existence" doesn't mean we go out and kill ourselves.

But wanting to be a separate and distinct "thing" separate from the universe, with its own form and substance, is the problem.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

There are two states of mind.

You can either be aware, or you can be distracted.


Friday, December 21, 2012

THE MEANING OF LIFE (close enough anyway)

There is none, but there is a close, close approximation.

On this, the end of the world (?) {December 21, 2012} I am writing that yesterday, the day before the end of the world, I watched Monty Python's "The Meaning of Life" (1983).

I have watched this movie many time throughout my 46 years, because I am that way.  I think it is hilarious, and I have always thought, that at the end of the movie, they summed it up in an offhand way with this quote, which I had memorized for along time, being a Monty Python fan.  It goes like this:
M-hmm. Well, it's nothing very special. Uh, try and be nice to people, avoid eating fat, read a good book every now and then, get some walking in, and try and live together in peace and harmony with people of all creeds and nations. 
And for years, I thought this was a great summary of some good advice, but it isn't, of course the MEANING OF LIFE, as the movie title suggests, but just some sound advice, and it's funny because it is basically saying, "there isn't any meaning of life, just be nice."

But last night, watching the movie again, I finally found, after close to thirty years of loving this movie, the true nugget of the film.  It happens in a board meeting of corporate executives.  One of them starts off asking about "item six" on the agenda.
Exec #1: Item six on the agenda: "The Meaning of Life" Now uh, Harry, you've had some thoughts on this.

Exec #2: Yeah, I've had a team working on this over the past few weeks, and what we've come up with can be reduced to two fundamental concepts. One: People aren't wearing enough hats. Two: . . . this "soul" does not exist ab initio as orthodox Christianity teaches; it has to be brought into existence by a process of guided self-observation. However, this is rarely achieved owing to man's unique ability to be distracted from spiritual matters by everyday trivia. 

Exec #3: What was that about hats again?
This is the entire crux of the movie, and I have been missing it for thirty years.

Now this isn't the "meaning of life" as there is no intrinsic "meaning of life" but it is so close, it bears discussion . . .  { there's more, but this is a book excerpt from the book I'm working on.}

here's the clip:

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Tea "Time."

When it is in the teapot, it is "now."
When I pick up the teapot, it is "now."
When I pour it into the cup, it is "now."
When it is in the cup, it is "now."
 Is it in two places at once?

If "now" is the same time, it was in the teapot and in the cup at the same time.  But we see it as a sequence of events.  It isn't a sequence of events.  There is just the Present Moment, changing.

~ excerpt from the new book I'm working on.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Just raw existence.

Use every aspect of your mind for reflection of this grand universe we get to exist in, for this brief Moment.  It will be over soon enough.  No sappy sentimentality.  Just raw existence. Be kind to yourself.  Be kind to others.  Why not? Forgive yourself. Forgive others.  Our minds are just reactionary things.  The minds of others are also just reactionary things.  There is no human reason.  There is no grand design.  It is just your brain and the things it sees and hears.  The things it feels and tastes.  That is all there is in this entire universe.

Violins and bulldozers.  Galaxies and atoms.  Friends, strangers, acquaintances and family. Everything part of the Great Circumstance.  The One Result.  The Present Moment. To close your eyes, in the Present Moment, and breathe in.  Breathe in this One, True, Present Moment.  Everything has led up to this.

Monday, December 3, 2012

There are three conceits:

I am better than _______.
I am worst than _______.
I am equal to     _______.

All of these notions lead to the false idea that we are separate from the things with which we compare ourselves. Everything is one Circumstance.  What are the two things being compared?  Comparison is duality.

So conceit, as in, "I am better ... (than this or they or that) is out.


This is an excerpt from the book I'm working on, a follow up to my first book about Zen, Get Your Zen On.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #5)

There are Ten Fetters that keep us from getting our Zen on.

This is #5: ILL WILL

Ill Will has a spot in two Buddhist Lists.  It is the second of the Five Hindrances, and it is the fifth of this list.  Ill Will exists because of a lack of empathy.  It is very difficult to get rid of Ill Will, because some people seem to be such assholes.  There, I said it.  There are many people on our little planet that seem to be making things much worse for others.

The problem with the illusion that there are "bad" people and "good" people is this: the "bad" people, the ones that seem the like the most horrible sociopath, are empty phenomena, just like you and I, Dear Reader.  A hurricane is an empty and selfless phenomenon, and so is a murder, child molester, or general douchebag around the office.

Hurricanes are unfortunate, when they wipe out cities and kill people.  "Bad" people are also unfortunate, when they annoy or hurt people.  We build levies to protect cities from ocean surges during weather events, and we pass laws and build prisons to protect people from people who are just out to make others miserable.

But all phenomena are empty and selfless.  All phenomena.  You and I, Dear Reader, and the sociopath staring out from the mug shot on the news are all empty and selfless phenomena.

Meditate on empathy.  You and I and that other "horrible" person are just interlocking parts of the universe.  Humans are just brains reacting to outside stimuli.  They are electrical activity in the brainpan, and nothing more.  All humans are suffering.  Practice empathy for even the most heinous of annoying people.  They are one with the universe, just like You and I.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #4)

There are Ten Fetters that keep us from getting our Zen on.  This is #3:


Wanting it is just wanting, just like any other wanting except...

The urges of the human body create an added difficulty in that the body wants to procreate.  It is an attribute of our human design.

This fetter is almost one I would want to take off the list.  No one can keep "sensual desire" from happening.  It is best to get it out of the way so you can carry on with your day without thinking about sex all the time.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #3)

There are Ten Fetters that keep us from getting our Zen on.  This is #3:


We all have rituals.  I take a hot bath almost every Sunday morning.  I meditate in the same place in my office, with an incense burning for a timer.  I get a a bag of sunflower seeds on my way to programming school.  Do I have to mention coffee? Rituals are habits, superstitions sometimes, and there isn't anything particularly "wrong" with them.  Some people get lots of peace from routine and rituals.

But it is the attachment to rituals that can keep us from getting our Zen on.  The idea that a ritual can continue indefinitely, the efforts to maintain a ritual when it has run its course, the effort to maintain something that no longer makes sense, or worse, is doing harm in some way, can keep us from liberating the mind.

The only thing constant is change, but rituals are, in a way, an attempt to keep things the same, which is impossible, because nothing is ever the same, not even for a second.

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #2)

There are Ten Fetters that keep us from getting our Zen on.  This is #2:


The second fetter is about doubt. What is there to doubt, when reality is our only teacher? Can you doubt reality? Can you doubt the universe? And what else is going into your brain, except the reality of the great circumstance, which has us all?

The second fetter, the second thing that will keep you from getting your Zen on, is doubt that that practice is worthwhile. The doubt that special effort need be spent on paying attention to the Present Moment. Doubt in the legitimate need to take special pains in order to practice paying attention, which is difficult, what with these reactionary monkey brains of ours.

The doubt that this fetter addresses is the doubt that the mind must be trained.  This type of doubt makes us wonder, what's the point? It is a doubt about the importance of Getting One's Zen On.

It is a doubt about whether or not Zen is important enough to practice.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #1)

There are Ten Fetters that keep us from getting our Zen on.  This is #1:


There are many "distractions," as in, entertainment.  There is reading, watching movies and television, hobbies, sports, watching sports.  These are distractions.  Distractions from what?  Distractions are popular because they are absorbing or intense.  A good movie distracts us from something.  What?

The self.

The self is our illusion of self perception. We perceive an illusion because we are perceiving something that isn't there. It is also our collection of perceived problems.  The self is something that must be maintained, because it is an illusion, and at the same time, it is the thing that causes all the suffering in the world. Maintaining this illusion of the self is a chore.  That's why people need distractions.

It's not that you don't have a self.  That would imply a "you" which lacks a self. There is no "you" to do the lacking in the first place.  There just isn't a self.

I write more about this in the book I'm working on right now.  I list the other nine fetters here.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

There are Four Noble Truths

There are four Noble Truths.  Here they are:

1. Life is suffering.
2. Suffering is caused by selfish craving.
3. Selfish craving can be destroyed.
4. It can be destroyed by following the Eightfold Path.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Ten Fetters (Intro)

There are Ten Fetters.  A "fetter" is something that confines.  There are Ten Fetters that will keep you from getting your Zen on:

  1. Belief in the "self"
  2. Doubt (about Zen)
  3. Attachment to rituals
  4. Sensual desire
  5. Ill Will
  6. Desire for material existence
  7. Desire for supernatural existence
  8. Conceit
  9. Restlessness
  10. Ingorance
I'm going to write about each one later, but there they are.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

The Lady Who Walked Her Dogs

There was once a woman who walked her dogs through the neighborhood every day. Rain or shine, snow or heat, she walked her dogs through the neighborhood.

A family moved into the neighborhood.  The man who lived there never acknowledged her as she walked by.  If he was getting into his car in the driveway, he never made eye contact.  If he was out by the mailbox, nothing. It was the same thing year after year.  He never said hello or waved.

This went on for years, until one day, the man smiled and waved, said hello and introduced himself.  He petted her dogs and from then on, he always smiled and waved when she came by.

One day, she asked, "Why did you wait so long to introduce yourself?"

"I had something on my mind," the man said.

"Whatever could you have possibly been thinking about all that time?" the woman asked.


Sunday, August 12, 2012

Your circumstances are the universe.

The universe depends on you, and you depend on the universe.  One cannot be the way it is now without the other being the way it is.  You and the universe are mutually dependent on the other.  One cannot be exactly as is without the other being exactly as is.  You and the universe are locked in the same exact chain of causes and effects.  You and the universe ARE the same exact chain of causes and effects.  The same instant, right now, exists and encompasses you and everything else that exists.

Your circumstances ARE the universe.  The bills, the conflicts with others, the boredom, the contentment, or the happiness — whatever is happening right now — is the only thing that could be happening.  It is perfect and exactly as it should be.

The circumstance that is the universe is what it is.  Do with it what you will.

-- paraphrased from/inspired by an Alan Watts lecture.

Sunday, August 5, 2012

All Composite Phenomena Are Impermanent

The question of the origin of the universe is simple, if you ignore one of the assumptions people seem to have:

Whenever people talk about the beginning of the universe, there always seems to be the assumption that there was a point previous to the "beginning of the universe" when there was "nothing."

What if the universe was just always there?

There is no "origin of the universe" if it simply always existed.

Why do we assume it had a "beginning" point?

*  *  *

Everything we see seems to have a beginning, middle and end, but those things are just combinations of other things.  Things are composed of atoms and molecules for awhile, and then they decompose.  They are made of "universe" stuff.

But the universe might be a special case:

The universe itself, since it encompasses "everything" cannot be a composite thing.  It has no beginning, middle, or end.  It cannot be put together, since it is already "together" as the set of all things.

And it cannot "decompose," because where would its individual parts go?  Its parts must always be "in" the universe.

*  *  *

The things we see are all part of a subset of the set of all things; they are composed of other things, and they have beginnings, middles, and ends.

But the universe is the "set of all things."

There is only one "set of all things," so what applies to subsets may not apply to the single "set of all things."

Friday, August 3, 2012

Listen to Your Breath

Hear it no matter where you are. Listening to your breath is not a "breathing exercise." Breathing is the thing you do with the atmosphere and your lungs to stay alive.  So it's kind of important.  You should probably pay attention to it.

You know who could always hear his own breath? Darth Vader.  And that guy was super-focused.

What's the use of hearing and focusing on your own breath? In order to do that, you have to forget about what the Yammering Mind is yammering about and focus on paying attention to your breath, which happens to be happening in the Present Moment, which is where you should be paying attention in the first place.

Hear your breath during meditation, at work, while exercising, watching TV (if you have to do that sort of thing), during sexy-time, while walking, while falling asleep. Pretty much any time you can remember to.  Because if you can remember to pay attention to your breathing, you can remember to pay attention to the Present Moment.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Purpose of Life is __________.

Fill in the blank. Some say that the purpose of life is to be happy.  That sounds nice, but it has this simplistic answer "be happy." Already that creates a goal to be grasped at.  That answer seems like one of those smarmy inspirational posters.  No.

Some say the purpose of life is to serve God. This makes no sense.  Serve God what? What do you get the God who has everything? If God exists, He/She/It is all-powerful and can take care of Him/Her/Itself. If God is everywhere and is everything, what could one possibly serve to God?  So no.

Here's my stab at it, and I cheat a little:

The word "purpose" is like the word "unicorn."  It is a word in our language.  It has a definition.  But in this case (when applied to "life" itself) it is one of those extra words that aren't attached to anything real.  There is no "purpose" to figure out the meaning of.  The sentence,

"The purpose of life is __________."

makes about as much sense as

"The color of unicorn is ___________."

And even the word "life," as used in this meaningless question is an oversimplification.

Life can be enjoyed, and it can be full of meaning.  But it has no particular purpose.  Let go of looking for that, because it isn't there.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Stop Hitting My Knee!

If all human activity is reflex action, then we need a reflex action called "observation" to observe our reflex actions and thoughts so we can act instead of reacting.

Our brains react to outside stimuli, be it sounds, sights, or ideas.  It reacts to news and information.  Why do our brains act this way?  In its "normal" state, the brain grasps at things that it imagines secures and strengthens (our physical well being, our security within society, the perpetuation of our beliefs and ideas) and rejects things that it imagines are threats.

Our physical body "flinches" at loud noises.  The knee straightens when the doctor taps it with that little hammer to "test our reflexes."

That normal state of reacting to outside things is "normal" for a cat or a squirrel, and also for a human.  But we humans are not exactly "normal" because we have this echo chamber called consciousness.  We are aware that we exist.  We are too aware of possible futures.  A brain too big for its own good.  We reflect and think about things, and our brain reacts to THOSE inputs as well.  Round and round it goes.

In order to calm down, we need to practice stepping out of this echo chamber with awareness.  The Self churns and reacts.  Our awareness observes this and says, "Calm down, you're in a loop."

A dog freaks out over thunder because it doesn't understand thunder.  A human freaks out over change because it doesn't understand change. A human freaks out over its own thoughts because it doesn't understand that it's own thoughts are just thoughts.  Understand that your life is one long change.  Observe the various ups and downs and don't get caught up in them through reaction.

Act.  Don't react.

Friday, July 20, 2012

High-Five the Void

What is the meaning of meaning? The reason no one can find the meaning of life (beyond pre-packaged dogma) is that a separate "meaning" that must be sought after, worked toward, and "discovered" does not exist.

There is no "meaning" out there to find. Your life, exactly as it is now, in this dumb "modern" age, is the only meaning there is, and the only meaning you need. (Meaning is for sissies. Look into the meaningless void and give it a big high-five.)

As "screwed up" as you think your life might be, with disappointments, physical flaws, relationship problems, bad habits, vices, secrets, insecurities, or anything else, as screwed up as you think your life might be, it is perfect.

But that does not mean life is "meaningless."  It has all the meaning you will ever need.  Just look around.  It's right there, and it is fantastic.  Just open your eyes and open your mind.  Breath deep that deeper meaning.

Or not.  Whatever.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Clare Torry

"Great Gig In The Sky"
Greatest rock vocals ever
Sung without a word.

Monday, July 16, 2012

World On Your Shoulders (NOT!)

There is nothing more than this Present Moment.  There is nothing else to search for, no "enlightenment," no "Nirvana," no progress to be made, no goal to achieve, no future endpoint, none of that.

In fact, your entire life has led up to you reading this sentence.

Most human activity is complete nonsense, especially the stuff we seem to care about the most.

The goals that have been set for us, if they consume us, consume us.  Most human behavior is nonsense, and if we can realize that these labels, material goods, roles, expectations, achievements and failures have nothing to do with what we are, then we can act without clinging to results.

Paying attention is all one has to do, if one even has to do that. Let go of the looking, the seeking for an "answer," the thinking there is a problem in the first place.  That nagging feeling that you should be doing more, or accomplishing something, or being productive?  That's Worry, one of the Five Hindrances.

You aren't carrying the world on your shoulders.  That's just your brain bugging the crap out of you.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Your Particular Brain

You are the meaning of your own life. There is no supernatural being separate from you, no dogma, or scripture to follow. There is just you, experiencing the world right now, always now, This Moment.

There will be no enlightenment, great reward, afterlife, punishment, or self fulfillment somewhere down the line. All you can do is the best you can with the circumstances that exist right now. Every change, cause, and effect has led you up to this moment.  This one. You are complete Right Now. 

Your "messed up" view of the world isn't messed up at all; your particular brain is the one you use to see the world. How could it not be perfect, when it came from the very universe it observes?

Monday, July 9, 2012

The Sweet Lovin' of Thousands of Generations

Not only is there nothing to seek, there is also nothing to escape. You are one with the universe, corny as it sounds. Nothing mystical or spiritual about it. Through the sweet lovin' of thousands of generations, we spring from this frail nameless planet, live in it and on it and with it and eventually return to it. We are also part of the solar system and everything beyond, spinning along on this rock with all the other silly humans.

What is there to seek, and what is there to escape from when you are already one with everything?

Friday, July 6, 2012

Goals and Other Games of Chance

Practicing Zen and being comfortable with "things as they are" does not mean you sit and do nothing. The body "you" happen to be riding around in needs certain things, and it likes certain comforts. You are not defined by this particular human you inhabit, nor are you separate from it. So go ahead: "improve" your lot in life if that's the game you want to play. If the game you choose includes money and creature comforts, then that is the game you choose, and there is certainly nothing "wrong" with that.

But while you play whatever game you play, remember that you are already complete. Your brain sprung from the universe, it is part of the universe, and it is all you have to work with.  Of course you are the way you are.  How could you be any other way? Your ambition is perfect, if that is what your brain likes to do. But observe it from a "higher" level. Observe your own behavior, detached and unconcerned with results.

You must remember that while the goals you have seem like choices you made, you made those choices with your brain, but you didn't get to choose your brain, nor did you choose the circumstances that led up to that particular brain existing as it does. The very "thought out" and "deliberate" choices you make are made with a brain you ended up with completely by chance.

No matter what goal is in your brain, what is happening right now, right now, is all that really matters.  There may be a goal in your head, but it is there right now.  It is also part of the Present Moment.

Flow toward your goals, like water seeking the path it must follow. Don't let the goal lock you into a certain course. Don't let your goals become your masters. Make sure your game isn't forced. If you aren't having fun, you aren't necessarily doing it "wrong" but you could probably accomplish whatever you are accomplishing, and have fun at the same time, if only you did it a little different, and you wouldn't force things. Have fun if getting and spending is what you like to do, and remember that it does not define you. You are beyond definition. Yes, You, Dear Reader reading this paragraph. Now go have fun.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

A Little Something From What I'm Working On Now

"Trying to describe reality with words has about as much chance of success as trying to draw the Mona Lisa on a glass vase with a jackhammer." 

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Winner of the July 4th Book Giveaway

Congrats to Danny R for winning the July 4th Book Giveaway!

He went to my page at and did the comment, and now he won a free book! For Freedom!

There will be another givaway during one of the next holidays, whenever.  Happy 4th everyone! For Freedom!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Minnie Pearl's Hat

Everything you think you are is false.  You are not a Christian, Muslim, American, European, Atheist, Cynic, Believer, Skeptic, Accountant, Fireman, Temp, Laborer, Chef, Cook, Busboy, Waitress, Taxpayer, Consumer, Citizen, Viewer, User, Payee, Soldier, Sailor, Father, Mother, Child, Adult, Octogenarian, Vegan, Republican, Democrat, Skeptic, Prisoner, Millionaire, Bankrupt, Success, or Failure.

The label isn't there, like a price tag.  A price tag puts an arbitrary value on something. You are a collection of thoughts that thinks it is this or that, but you are none of those things. You are simply an expression of the Moment.

You have no label. You are simply part of the universe.  You are part of and one with the Present Moment, which is all that exists.

Be responsible.  Fulfill your role, because despite metaphysical ramblings on a blog, you must function within society to survive.  Don't be defined by these artificial roles you have in society; remember that "society" is just the shared delusion of around 7 billion confused sentient beings.

Let go of these illusions, no matter where they came from.  They are false.  Let go and embrace the Present Moment.  That's all you are.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

4th of July Book Giveaway

Head over to my Facebook page ( to enter the book giveaway.  Just "Like" the page and comment on the giveaway post.  Have a good weekend!

Friday, June 29, 2012


Words cannot describe reality. We must observe it without weighing it down with thoughts. There is no room for verbs and nouns in the gossamer, shimmering, transient and eternal Moment.

Language is not only insufficient to describe our existence, it gets in the way of seeing our existence.  All those thoughts in your head? They drown out the only real thing that has ever existed, which is simply the Present Moment.

Through meditation, we quiet the mind in order to finally arrive in the Present Moment. Yammering Mind must quiet down before we can hear the world around us.

If nothing else, take a minute to breathe and count breaths. Stop the plans, monologs, and soliloquies that play out in the self.  Put them on hold for a few minutes, and simply listen and see.

Meditate every day to quiet the mind and observe the Present Moment.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Work On My New Book is Underway

Now that I have looked up how to spell the word "consciousness,"  my new book can begin.  I'm writing right now about how babies don't seem to ever worry about bank balances, and other nonsense.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

The Knower & The Known are One

The experience and the person experiencing it are the same thing.  There is just experience, happening.  You and the thing experienced are not separate, you are the same thing.  The knower and the known are one.

'The notion of a separate thinker, of an "I" distinct from experience, comes from memory and from the rapidity with which thought changes...When you see clearly that memory is a form of present experience, it will be obvious that trying to separate yourself from this experience is as impossible as trying to make your teeth bite themselves. There is simply experience. There is not something or someone experiencing experience! You do not feel feelings, think thoughts, or sense sensations any more than you hear hearing, see sight, or smell smelling.' – Alan Watts

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Practice, Practice, Practice

There's a joke that goes like this:

Q: “How do you get to Carnegie Hall?”
A: “Practice, practice, practice.”

The reason it's called "Zen practice" is because you aren't working toward something you will accomplish in the future.  Zen happens now, all the time.  There is no Carnegie Hall Super Enlightenment Concert waiting at the end of a few years of practice.

You practice in the same way you would practice anything else: pay attention and put forth all of your effort . . . to pay attention to the Present Moment.

You will never get to Zen Carnegie Hall.  All of the world, the entire Universe is your practice studio.  You must practice every day to get "good" at seeing the Present Moment, but even that cannot be your goal. You cannot even have the goal in mind to get "better" at focusing in the Present at some point in the "future."  You must just focus on the Present right now.

Practice itself is the end we seek. It is not a means for some future success.  It is the practice and the concert all rolled into one.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012


Congrats to Jim for winning the Father's Day book giveaway.  He'll be getting a copy of Get Your Zen On in the mail.  Congrats!  There will be another giveaway on another holiday, not sure which just yet.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Don't Overdo It

Fill your bowl to the brim and it will spill. Keep sharpening your knife and it will blunt.Chase after money and security and your heart will never unclench.Care about people's approval and you will be their prisoner.
Do your work, then step back. The only path to serenity. 
-- Lao Tzu, the Tao Che Ching

You can't expect everything to go perfect, nor can you expect everything to go your way. Well, you can expect those things, but you will be sadly disappointed.  

Pushing too hard ruins everything.

In the same way you shouldn't swing too hard during a golf swing, you shouldn't keep piling onto a situation until it collapses (or you collapse).  There is such a thing as finesse and understatement.  Have you ever seen one of those yards where there are too many lawn ornaments?  Or been around someone who has put on too much cologne or perfume?

You can screw up life itself if you add too much, force the issue, or fail to see when it is time to quit.

Do what needs to be done, but nothing more.  That work ethic they've been preaching?  That's just a trick to make you work harder.  Do a good job, but don't kill yourself over it.

Relax and do your work.  Ignore other people.

Sunday, June 17, 2012


For Father's Day, I'm giving away a free copy of my book, Get Your Zen On.  Simply go to my Facebook page "Like" the Dan Manning Author page (if you haven't already)  then "Share" the Status Update that is linked back to this post.


You can G+ it with the Google Plus button on this page.  You can do both, but it won't increase your chances.  But knock yourself out!

Winner will be picked at random Tuesday, June 19 at 12 noon EST.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

A Dandelion Is Also

Everything you have been told about who you should be, and everything you have told yourself you should be, is false.  You already are what you should be.  Many of the ideas you have about who and what you should be are put there as a means to some other end.

You are not a means to some other end.  You do not exist to parent.  You do not exist to work. You do not exist to make money. You do not exist to study.  You do not exist to be a friend to someone else, nor do you exist to be dependent on someone else. You do not exist to serve a higher power, an idea or a dream. You do not even exist to exist.

You exist.

Reexamine all of these expectations from within and without and question everything.  Abandon reason. Do those other things.  Be responsible.  Help others.  But know that those activities do not define who and what you are.

You are beyond definition.  You are a complete manifestation of the universe. (Don't let it go to your head.  A dandelion is also a complete manifestation of the universe.)  The entire universe, all causes and effects up to this moment, have led up to you being exactly as you are. Everything you have been told about who you should be, and everything you have told yourself you should be, is false.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

One Super-Long Splash

A splash of water is many different droplets of water that separate temporarily before dropping back into the lake, stream, ocean, or glass.  There is one splash, but the droplets seem separate.

Do you have anything against certain groups of people?  The ones blowing things up, or "taking advantage of the system," or daring to believe in political or religious ideas different from your own? The ones with too much money, or not enough?  Do people who look different or sound different make you uncomfortable?

(Hint: It's okay; humans fear the unknown and unfamiliar.  The answer is "yes.")

All of those "other people" are just part of a splash of humanity that has been in one super-long splash for at least 12K years, but the chain of causes causing all of this human activity goes back all the way to infinity.  The 7+ billion people on this planet are just a temporary spasm of biological activity.  The chain of causes and effects that causes everyone to do everything they do is working not only on you, but also everyone around you.  The same chain of causes and effects connects every synapse and the activity of every synapse in every brain.  The great splash of humanity will one day return to the earth, because time and gravity is going to make darn sure it happens.

So you and all of the people who annoy you are all part of the same splash of causes and effects.  They're just going through changes, just like you.

There Is No Such Thing As Angry Buddha

Anger and frustration stem from craving for things to be other than they are.  Everything happens at the exact time it should, in the exact way.  "Misfortune" is the result of an infinite series of causes and effects.  Anger results when we crave things to be different from the way they are.  Examine your anger.  It is coming from your brain.

Patience is a science.  That's why the two words have similar spellings.  Science stuff involves a lot of trial and error.

Of course we work to improve our lives and the lives of others, but we must practice doing it with calm and patience.  This takes lots of practice.  You have your entire life to work with.

There is no such thing as Angry Buddha.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Stoplight Kindness Meditation

If we add it all up, we spend a lot of time waiting at red lights.  Take this time to meditate on how you and all those other people (traffic) are sharing the road.

Remember when you are at a busy intersection and you are waiting at a red light, that although you have to wait, all those other people get to go.  Be happy for them.  Don't just think about it intellectually.  Don't force yourself to think it.  Feel it.  Meditate on that next time you are at a red light.  Those people are as important as you.  Their errands seem to them to be the most important errands in the world.  Meditate on that until you can actually feel happy for them while you wait your turn.  That takes a lot of practice.
Hello, My name is Dan Manning, and I've written a book titled "Get Your Zen On."

In this blog I hope to share my thoughts about Zen and meditation.

I'll post soon.  Until then, close your eyes for a few second and take a deep breath.


Get the books!