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.

"Myself."

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.