• Tag Archives introspection
  • Nothing is real, so cheer up!

    ” So if you really go the whole way and see how you feel at the prospect of vanishing forever. Have all your efforts, and all your achievements, and all your attainments turning into dust and nothingness. What is the feeling? What happens to you?

    So in this way, by seeing that nothingness is the fundamental reality, and you see it’s your reality. Then how can anything contaminate you? All the idea of you being scared, and put out and worried, and so on, this is nothing, it’s a dream. Because you’re really nothing.

    So cheer up. ”

    Something byAzedia

    courtesy of Metrolyrics

    posted by MixHound


  • Dream Reality

    We all dream but nobody really talks about their dreams, do they?

    We dream every night for hours, the dreams themselves consist of moments, hours or even lifetimes. Yet we remember them as false memories; blurred and difficult to recollect, something clearly separate from our reality.

    The taunting paradox is that we experience dreams, we perceive them through experience, but deny they are an experience rooted to a specific reality. What if they were the same thing?

    What comes first, the perception of reality we experience, or the act of experiencing this reality? Both equally coexist as true and false. Perception is equally biochemical and neurological in nature; our ability to remember comes from experience that in itself is based around perception. This logic produces the same outcome to both dreams and reality.

     

     


  • My Way

    There is no teacher who can teach anything new, he can just help us to remember the things we always knew” –
    Michael Cretu: Engima – Odyssey of The Mind

     

    My journey into the spiritual, the metaphysical, the awareness of Buddhism, of philosophy, and my interests in the ways of Zen, is a unique one. In a way these things have always been with me, but as my understanding grows I can now identify these things that have always been present in my life. By identifying them I mean I can now put names to the things that have always been with me, however I never really held much stock for the name of a thing.

    My earliest and retrospectively my most fundamental discovery of meditation, of observing ones thoughts from a higher consciousness, started when I was five. Understand that it is difficult to describe this awareness without diminishing the essence of what I experienced. I have always felt selflessness. Even as a young boy I felt there was something inside of me that is bigger than me, connected to everything.

    In a way I feel there have always been two parts of me, or perhaps to put it more succinctly, I have always believed there have been two of me. The outer me, that which bears my personality, and the inner me, that which is beyond perception. The inner me resembles a still empty space, not dormant but attentive, a passive watchfulness.

    Like many people of today whose parents have divorced, I experienced unhappy times in my younger days, surrounded by confusion and grief. As a five year old I remember going to bed and simply crying for attention, I would stay awake for hours listening to the fighting downstairs. One particular night I became entirely exhausted through upset and sadness, and after a time I quieted. I withdrew completely into the darkness of my bed. Instead of seeking attention I decided to try and make myself disappear, to close myself off completely from everyone and everything. I remember fantasising about dying and that if I remain completely still and slowed my breathing I would eventually fade away. So I decided to focus all my attention, my vision, my thoughts, on a single point on my Care Bear wallpaper. Not looking at the wallpaper but looking into the wallpaper, not moving my gaze to any other point. Slowly and with practice I found that by staring at a single point for long enough everything would go dark, all sight was lost to darkness, this void was not that associated with sleep but that of a waking darkness, eyes open and alert.

    Over time I explored this new sensation by focusing on different objects, a lamp, the ceiling, and found that each time I did so my feelings, whatever emotion I brought with me would be lost. I had found something amazing, a secret sanctuary known only to me, a space I could go to anytime I wanted. By focusing long enough I would enter a space where all conflict, unhappiness, people and life’s problems were no longer there, they existed outside this place, and as I grew older I realised they don’t exists at all. My five year old self believed I was floating in space, observing thoughts like distant stars.

    I remember on several occasions this experience became too intense, all senses would become hypersensitive, every sound became amplified, time seemingly slowed down to the point where I could hear everything, my breathing would become a loud rhythmic beat and I could almost sense myself floating above me – a peripheral vision or feeling above my body. And as a five year old this experience was frightening, something I tried to explain to my mother but was unable to describe it.

    The Zen Mind is the beginner’s mind, 
    which sees everything as if for the first time
    Daniel Levin – The Zen Book (2005: inlay)

     

    Now being 31 I am able to recognise this story as one of meditation, of finding the present moment. I regard these early accounts as something truly profound because at the age of 5 I was unable to recognise these very acts as ones of meditation, of mindfulness, to me these things had no names, no actions or correct practices, they were totally natural. To my 5 year old self it was a secret I used to escape my emotions. At the time I certainly had read no books on the subject nor was I influenced by media or other people. And so I stumbled upon a practice that was pure without even being aware of such a thing – and to me this is something as adults we spend our lives trying to achieve. When we are older it is difficult to perceive without the interference of concept, we are constantly driven to name things, to think about things we see instead of simply seeing them, of simply being present.

    That is how my journey started, but maybe it would be more accurate to say that at the age of 5 I re-joined my path to awareness, my path to knowing who I am. This practice is not something that can be learned, this practice is something we already know, it can only be experienced, and by doing so we remember that which we always knew, a bit like life really.

    A note on the opening paragraph:

    In the opening paragraph I described my experience as a journey into the spiritual and philosophical realm, I mentioned my belief in Buddhism and Zen, but to now end this discussion I would say this. These established arts, these beliefs and interests are useless, they are irrelevant. Simply put they are all based on memory, they are learned but not in the true sense. One can study Zen, one can be learned in the many teachings of Buddha, but these are static, they are memorised and recalled at will, but learning is always in motion, and my approach is to experience these things, spirituality, Zen, and then forget them, to look at them without knowing, to experience them from a fresh naive perspective always. Jiddu Krishnamurti discusses this most succinctly in his opening to The Limitations In Our Mind.

    Profound Related Links / Posts:

    Conversations on Compassion with Eckhart Tolle
    How do we break the habit of excessive thinking?
    Krishnamurti – How Does One Learn About Oneself ?
    Jiddu Krishnamurti – The Limitations In Our Mind.

  • Ain’t Nothing but a Thing!

    Today’s: Mind Nugget.

    We fear that which we do not understand. Today I was afraid of performing an Oracle database process, my fear stayed with me up until the precise moment it didn’t. And this is not dissimilar to life really.

    The process itself was straightforward, yet I was afraid because it was unknown to me, something I had not encountered before. I feared everything before that process and the possibilities of everything after it. The moment I executed the process my fear was gone, cleared from the deep murmurings of the mind.  A fitting analogy then for how we experience life, the importance of truly being aware of the present moment. We are not present in the past nor can we experience the future, so why the fear?

    J.K Rowling’s Hermione had it right. “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.

    Why fear the future or worry about the past, we exist in neither plain.

    Live now.

    Love now.

    Fear not the past, it cannot be changed.

    Fear not the future. It hasn’t happened.

    And certainly don’t fear the present, by the time you do that moment will have passed.


  • Mind-fullness

    Mind-fullness

    mind the gap!

    What follows is an account of the value of mindfulness.

    It is the nature of a busy mind to become lost in thought. Of course there are warnings along the way. Life has a way of reminding us that we have gone astray from ourselves, but these go unnoticed as we wander blindly through life.

    After a very stressful day at work I eventually got home and made myself a bath, something intended to help me relax, help me tune down and find my neutral space. As a lay in the hot water I began to contemplate.

    the drive to work, how I had spent the entire day with wet feet, the resulting smell of my shoes and worrying about what people might think, the report that wasn’t processed properly, was it my fault, did I do something wrong….I am still quite new to the company, would they consider firing me….? I really don’t fit in very well, I try to be smart but this does not feel right to me,…oh my shoes really smelled bad today,….are they monitoring my performance…oh I hope I am meeting my targets, I have come so far and would be lost without my flat…

    But instead of being in a relaxed state I found my thoughts racing, I wasn’t unwinding, I was deeply lost in thought, watching them race by as I lay trying keep up. Thoughts endlessly tangled like brambles confined between the walls of my mind, each mini-thought leading me down a path of new useless avenues. Without truly being aware, the bath had turned cold. 45 minutes had passed by and I achieved nothing. Sure my body was clean, my muscles relaxed, but my mind, my sense of self, still stressed and work focused. My thoughts were entirely focused on the past, the future, but blissfully unaware of the present moment.

    Then as if waking to my senses for the first time I stood back from thinking, the thoughts were there but now I simply began watching them pass by, choosing not to entertain them. Only then did I register the bath’s temperature, only then did I begin to relax.

    The lesson learned here [the realisation was] is I too easily get lost in thought. The true value of this awareness comes precisely at the moment when one stops following the tangle of thoughts. The fascinating paradox here is that one cannot think about not thinking, it’s a state of mind achieved only in practice.

    — Related Posts: —

    I am Nothing


  • I am nothing

    If I talk to myself, who is talking to who. I have split my mind into two me’s. But wait, look it this saying again “I have split my mind into two me’s” – well this creates three entities – the two me’s and the I that split them. It is this I that we can never “know”, it is this I that we truly are. This I is not something, some object or version of me, it is nothing, – or better put it is no thing. It is not my name, nor my personality, these are simply more splits, more externalisations – more interpretations of the true I.

    I am not a name, I am not my person, as my person changes, it grows old, its cells are ever changing and it, the body, is not permanent. Yesterday, tomorrow, later, as I type this, these moments have passed or are yet to come, but they not a part of who I am, they do not belong to my now, to I.

    The events, jobs, possessions, do not make up who I am. My nationality, age, parents, are not part of who I am, they are what I perceive them to be, what I see them as in my mind. I see my couch, but it does not belong to me, my lounge is littered with furniture and shelves and these occupy my living space but they are not in my inner space, they share no connection.

    I watch my thoughts pass by but I do not belong to them, I stand back away from them in a stillness, I let them go by without following them, they are not I…. Understand that I do not need to let them go, because I was never holding onto them.

    Spirituality and Happiness – teachings by Eckhart Tolle

    The above interpretation was inspired by a teaching from Eckhart Tolle, click here. Eckhart Tolle is a learned spiritual teacher of Beyond The Thinking Mind and many other Zen and wider spiritual teachings, he is also a gifted public speaker and offers many talks, lessons and guided meditations – his online site can be found here.

    Advice for those who would follow:

    Of course we can read the many self-help books, the many excellent literary works on Zen, spirituality, the many Buddhist teachers, journals on Thought, guided meditation texts, however at a primary level these have already lost their essence through their inevitable transformation into text (the core data, the true lesson, has been converted into information – a book). Books adhere to a format – chapters, titles, structure, language and vocabulary – in my experience it is best to first listen to a teaching, cast away all preconceived notions of structure and simply have dialog with a teacher. There is nothing wrong with reading but the written word lacks the organic spontaneity of speech, the immediate awareness of dialog, the connection.

    Applying awareness to life

    Having been introduced to a new (or very old) way of thinking, a way of finding that attentive stillness, stepping into that spatial calmness, what then would happen if we apply this knowledge to the scenario mentioned previously in On Speaking and Listening? If as children we were guided down this path, would we then have the ability to truly listen, to speak truly? How would this affect our Western culture, our ingrained way of life?

    Whats next?

    The concept of I, oneness, is something fundamental to Zen Buddhism, here we have had an introduction, a window into finding that inner space, but I am to explore further – and exploring is exactly how we [ I ] perceive these lessons, its an exploration of the spaces behind thought, behind the busy mind, beyond the this and that. I look forward to publishing more soon.


  • On speaking and listening

    “The louder a man shout’s, the more profoundly he’s wrong” (Gallagher 2009)

    One early evening, around 5.30pm, I caught a bus from Northampton town centre, a routine commute after work, travelling back to my home town Kettering. It was a slow journey and I was in a particularly stilled frame of mind, senses keen and thoughts clear. I decided to listen in to the conversations of my fellow passengers. It dawned on me that many of us, given the correct social setting, will talk and talk and talk, without communicating a single interesting idea, without contributing anything of substance to the discussion. Why is it that we to0 often invest such energy into talking but fail so triumphantly at not actually saying anything of consequence.

    The art of storytelling, of truly connecting to a person through speech has been lost. Television, smart phones, social media, and cultural shifts at large have made the once tribal celebration of speech, the art of talking, unnecessary. We now communicate feelings more aptly through abbreviated digital messages than we do through talking. Spiritually connected to the wafer-thin glass-fronted box of lights than we are with each other.

    And if we have lost the art of talking, how then does this affect our ability to listen?

    Like those on the bus, often our egocentric nature relentlessly drives us to have our say. Our inability to sit back and absorb a conversation results in nothing more than driving a conversation into a debate, a verbal abyss where no wisdom is conveyed nor any connection made. Now this may be expected on a cramped bus, already swamped with the noise of traffic and commuters, but let’s now take this example and place it in a care setting, or among the elderly, or in a therapeutic environment where listening is fundamental to all those involved.

    In a care-home environment, often the only pleasure for its residents is to be listened to – the opportunity to tell a story and rejoice in having somebody kind enough to listen, to share in their experience. Empathy cannot be achieved without being able to listen, and in the fields of psychotherapy this is essential, it is primal and it is something modern man has forgotten. When working with Kettering MIND the following exert was given to me on the instruction that I read it before beginning my training in the skills of listening:

    To hear, one must be silent, says a wise man to his apprentice in a fantasy novel. The silence extends to calmness, as far as possible in the physical setting, but in any case within the listener. Yet the silence is far from passive: active listening, albeit watching, thoughtful monitoring of oneself – all go to make up the skills of listening, enabling us the better to hear what the speaker is really saying. Only then dare the helper presume to speak.” (Jacobs, 1985)

    At the end of a particularly riveting lecture on Business Information Systems I, having remained silent throughout the discussion, I was asked my opinion on the subject. More to satisfy my tutor’s curiosity than contribute, I spoke my mind. Just before I left the lecture hall my tutor pulled me aside and said this: I talk little but what I say is profound. This has stayed with me over the years, and has confirmed the importance of active silence, of truly listening.

    Like a virus, this slow decay of our ability to talk and listen may affect our other senses, a slow death of the instincts transforming us into slaves of our own advances.

    We live busy stressful lives, always connected and available on-demand, indeed actor and comedian George Carlin one described modern man as “a high-tech low life”, “a top gun bottom feeder” “a raging workaholic, and a working rageaholic” – spoken with true wisdom during his his 2005 stand-up, Life is worth Losing

    During a 6 mile walk through rich fragrant blossom filled streets my senses were on overdrive, I stopped at nearly every tree, every flower, and simply breathed the air, filling my very soul with sunshine. I realised then that smell is potentially another endangered sense – think about it – when was the last time you walked down the street and simply smelled? When did you last smell a flower, when was the last time you acknowledged the freshness early morning rain or the sweetness of blossom, the earthy smell of fresh tilled soil?

    This deprivation of sense may be seen to effect memory – and with dementia on the increase in the over 60s are all these things contributing factors? Are we really that disconnected to our instinctual primal abilities – are we dead on the inside?

    [recommended reading: The Alchemy of Voice by Stewart Pearce: yes it’s a form of self-help book but I discovered this great read during my studies in 2004, its informative writings on the origins of speech and its use in modern times was enlightening, and complimentary when looking into the art of listening – how often do we listen to ourselves (listen to how we speak not just what we say)?

    —[more on this to come]—

    * Gallagher, B: The Prisoner: 2009, AMC and ITV television miniseries.

    * Jackons, M, 1985

     


  • Oh, the Places You’ll Go

    Sometime in January 2009 I had an unexpected introspection, of which I found the following excerpt to summarise my feelings aptly – from Oh, The Places You’ll Go by Dr Seuss 1990.

    Do you dare to stay out?  Do you dare to go in?

    How much can you lose? How much can you win?

    And IF you go in, should you turn left or right…

    or right-and-three-quarters? Or, maybe, not quite?

    Or go around back and sneak in from behind?

    Simple it’s not, I’m afraid you will find,

    for a mind-maker-upper to make up his mind.

    You can get so confused

    that you’ll start in to race

    down long wiggled roads at a break-necking pace

    and grind on for miles across weirdish wild space,

    headed, I fear, toward a most useless place.

    The Waiting Place…

    …for people just waiting.

    Waiting for a  train to go

    or a bus to come, or a plane to go

    or the mail to come, or the rain to go

    or the phone to ring, or the snow to snow

    or waiting around for a Yes or a No

    or waiting for their hair to grow.

    Everyone is just waiting.

    Waiting for the fish to bite

    or waiting for wind to fly a kite

    or waiting around for Friday night

    or waiting, perhaps, for their Uncle Jake

    or a pot to boil, or a Better Break

    or a sting of pearls, or a pair of pants

    or a wig with curls, or Another Chance.

     


  • on being 31

    Thirty-one divided by twice is 15 and a half which inexorably means I am quadruple the mental age of many wannabe adults. I have discovered the power of NO, and have learned the importance of silence in a stressful situation. My ignorance of how I look and what I wear is now something of beauty and I still laugh inside when observing those dull conformists and mindless fashion followers.

    My love of coffee has finally outgrown that of tea.

    My new obsession is that of polishing and waxing wood.

    I still loath clutter with absolute integrity.

    Sleep is something welcomed and no longer a chore, though my waking hours are more.

    I hate rudeness in any form and am quick to develop an inherent animosity for those who exercise it towards others.

    I find even more things and people funny, and only joke about the serious things in life.