Posts in the “zen” category

A story about attachment, from Ram Dass

I can’t find the exact story or specific details, but it goes something like this ... after his initial work with Maharaji in India, Ram Dass came back to the U.S. and lectured on spirituality. As he says it, “I was supposed to be a spiritual teacher with no attachments, but the reality is that wherever I went, I had these nine boxes of things that were of sentimental value to me.” So he’d go from city to city lecturing about how to have no attachments, and all the time he was lugging these nine boxes around behind him.

One day he realized that he really needed to give up his attachments to those things, so he did his best to give everything away, but at the end he still had three boxes remaining. “I’m sorry, Maharaji,” he said, “that’s all I can do for now, this is killing me.”

“That was a few years ago,” Ram Dass said. “Now I have thirteen boxes.”

:)

The day becomes something that happens within your meditation

“You can meditate while talking to someone, while washing the dishes, while driving. As your experience grows, you eventually come to a point where you are so present that there is a kind of merging of inside and outside. When that happens, ‘focus’ becomes more than an extremely interesting and pleasant experience; it becomes a transformative experience.”

“Eventually a delicious figure-ground reversal takes place. In the beginning, meditation is something that happens within your day. Eventually, the day becomes something that happens within your meditation.”

~ From “The Science of Enlightenment: How Meditation Works

The same cosmic forces that mold galaxies, stars, and atoms ...

“The same cosmic forces that mold galaxies, stars, and atoms also mold each moment of self and world. The inner self and outer self are born in the cleft between expansion and contraction. By giving yourself to those forces, you become those forces, and through that you experience a kind of immortality — you live in the breath and pulse of every animal, in the polarization of electrons and protons, in the interplay of the thermal expansion and self-gravity that molds stars, in the interplay of dark matter that holds galaxies together and dark energy that stretches space apart.”

~ Part of a quote from The Science of Enlightenment, How Meditation Works, by Shinzen Young

Make a game of active mindfulness meditation

The best advice I’ve gotten for practicing mindfulness meditation while not sitting in meditation – i.e., in active meditation – is to make something of a game of it. When I wash the dishes it’s like, “How deep can I get while I wash these dishes?” Or when talking to another person, you both put down the cellphones and think, “Okay, we’re both here right now, how much can we focus only on each other and be here in this moment while we talk? How deep can we go?”

I was reminded of this when I read this line recently: “Finally, I got it! The menial tasks I had been assigned to around the temple were meant to be an exercise in meditation. Whatever I was doing, my job was to try to stay in samadhi.

(That quote comes from the book, The Science of Meditation.)

A description of Enlightenment, from Shinzen Young

“There is nothing intrinsically problematic about this ordinary perspective. The problem comes when it is the only perspective available to a person, which unfortunately is the usual case.

Enlightenment, or freedom, comes when we also have a complementary perspective that we can access at any time. To have this complementary perspective, we must come into direct contact with the third level of consciousness, the Source. When we are in direct contact with the Source, self is not perceived as a separate particle, objects are not perceived as solid, and space becomes elastic and can collapse to a dimensionless point, taking everything with it to the Unborn. And time is cyclic — self and scene arise from and return to that unborn Source over and over.

We can call this perspective many things, such as God, Brahman, the Tao, the Unborn, the Undying, the nature of Nature, Zero, Emptiness, Completeness. The words don’t really matter. What matters is direct contact.”

From the book, The Science of Enlightenment: How Meditation Works by Shinzen Young.

Quotes about work and Zen (practicing Zen at work)

For many years I struggled with how to combine two of my main interests, Zen and work. I have read that the Zen mind is the mind before thinking, so it seems like Zen and work must be totally unrelated; you need your mind to work. And then over time I came to understand phrases like, when working, just work.

This article contains a collection of quotes that have been helpful to me in understanding the relationship between Zen and work. Please note that I don’t wrap each quote in double quotes, and I also try to attribute each quote to the correct author/speaker. If you’re interested in how to combine Zen and work, I hope you’ll find them helpful.

You are not your thoughts (a note on the Shinzen Young hear/rest meditation technique)

You are not your thoughts.

As you learn in this meditation technique, it’s easily possible to sit back and observe all the crap that spews out of your brain. As you’ll quickly find out, “you” are the observer, and all those thoughts — I’m too fat, I’m not smart enough, I’m too sexy for my shirt — just keep spewing out of your socially-conditioned brain machine.

Observing the thoughts is the beginning of ending them.

Stopping breathing during meditation

Apparently I have sleep apnea. But during the day. During meditation.

When I was meditating this morning my body stopped breathing several times for more than a minute and a half. At first I observed and wondered about it, but then I just let it be. The new normal.

~ July 6, 2021

Over 100 of my favorite “mindfulness” quotes

This page contains a list of my favorite “mindfulness reminder” quotes. In particular these are short, concise quotes that I think work well with my “Just Be” mobile app.

Just Be is currently an app for Android users. If you haven’t seen it before, this is what the reminders/notifications look like when you receive them on an Android phone or tablet:

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How wonderful is enlightenment?

“People tend to overestimate or underestimate how wonderful the experience (enlightenment) is. How wonderful is it? Well, I would say that anyone who has entered into the world of no-self, emptiness, and wisdom mind, who abides in that world, if you gave them a choice to live one day knowing what they know, or live an entire lifetime but not be allowed to know that, I think — I can’t speak for everyone — but I would say most people who live in that world would say, ‘I’d rather have one day knowing what I know than a lifetime of not being able to know this.’ So that’s how wonderful it is.”

~ Shinzen Young, in this video

Ram Dass, Buddha, Maharaj-ji, and Yoda on non-duality

Inspired by a conversation with a friend recently about “trying to love everyone,” I dug into things a little more and found the following information from Ram Dass, Zen masters, the Maharaj-ji (Neem Karoli Baba), and Yoda.

As I keep trying to figure out what Ram Dass means when he says, “love everyone,” I dug through his book, be love now and found these two quotes:

Two notes from meditating this morning (Feb.11, 2021)

As a note to self, while I was doing a Shinzen Young style “noting” meditating this morning (Feb. 11, 2021), I felt pressure on the right side of my head. It was like if you have a sinus infection or had some dental work, and the right side of your face has that pressure. Meanwhile, the left side of my face/head felt perfectly clear. So in addition to noting “rest” and “hear,” I started noting “pressure.” The more I focused on the pressure, it eventually went away.

Another thought from this morning is that many thoughts come and go during meditation, but some of them are particularly sticky. You try to let them come and go, but they’re like flypaper or something — ridiculously sticky. I felt like a cat who gets tape on its paw and keeps shaking the paw, but the tape won’t come off. This reminded me of Pema Chodron talking about getting stuck and unstuck, though I can’t remember her exact terminology.

Thich Nhat Hanh fake oil painting

Here’s another “fake oil painting” I created with Gimp recently. This one is of Thich Nhat Hanh meditating. I don’t remember the original source of this image (before I converted the original photo to an oil painting), but I’m pretty sure I found it on Facebook. On this one I manipulated the colors quite a bit, and also did a Gaussian Blur on the background.