Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #9)

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


Tranquility does not pace the floor.  It does not check its email every five minutes.  It does not watch the clock, check the Internet constantly, or tap its fingers impatiently.  Tranquility does not get bored.  It does not sigh impatiently.

Tranquility can sit with a long moment. It can be happy listening to itself breath.

It can focus on one thing without rushing off to start another.  Tranquility does not multi-task.  It can listen patiently to the most boring people, and be pleasant about it.

Restlessness isn't the opposite of tranquility, but it is damned close.  Fidgety thinking that one should be doing something else is a product of the mind, and if you are paying attention, meditating on what the mind is up to, this thinking can be observed and counteracted.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #8)

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

This is #8: CONCEIT

Of course you still have self-esteem to some measure. You have worth; you are useful in some way or another. You have empathy and love toward yourself in the same way you have empathy and love toward others. In fact, if you have empathy and love toward the universe in general, you include yourself.

So in the absence of conceit, you can still have, for all practical purposes, a sense of self worth.

An absence of conceit is an absence of comparing, either good, worse, or equal, yourself to anyone else or anything else, because comparing ANY two parts of the universe (any two beings or things) doesn't make any sense. What is more important or better? Your heart or your lungs?  Which is better? Pizza or dandelion?  Which is better in a car? Steering wheel or tires?

The idea that you are better, worse, or equal to another person doesn't make sense.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The Ten Fetters (Fetter #7)

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


The desire for an afterlife, or a more spiritual life, or "enlightenment," is still a desire.  This fetter is also described as the desire for "formlessness."

Wanting to be more "enlightened" than one already is creates a duality.  There is "you" and there is the "you" you imagine.  Imagining a more perfect version of you somewhere in an imagined future removes the mind from the Present Moment, which is where it needs to be in order to get the Zen on.

You are already perfect.  All circumstances have led up to you being exactly as you are.  Throughout all space and time, you are the sum total of all existence of the universe.  Pretty special huh?

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Paying Attention by Paying Attention to Breathing (book excerpt)

If we can remind ourselves to get into the Moment, we can stay there, at least for a little while.  Focusing on the breath (counting or not) can snap us into the Moment almost instantaneously.  It can help us focus on what is at hand, right now.  It seems like a little thing.  It seems so simple, but it is the most difficult thing to do in the world.  The brain reacts to certain stimuli in certain ways.  There are neural pathways that result in reactionary habits over which we have almost no control.  These preconditioned responses get us into all kinds of mental trouble.  Bad habits, even harmful habits are cooked into our brain noodles so we can get that sweet dopamine fix.  We need a way to catch ourselves and give ourselves new habits.  Better habits.  But we can only get new habits to replace the old habits.  Trying not to do something is almost impossible.  We have to remind ourselves to do something else.

That something else is paying attention.  And the reminder is our breathing.

(This is a excerpt from the book I'm working on to follow up Get Your Zen On)