Posts in the “zen” category

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

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. 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.

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.

Some of Shinzen Young’s sayings in the first core lessons of the Brightmind app

As a “note to self,” I like some of Shinzen Young’s sayings/analogies/metaphors in the first core lessons of the Brightmind app. The ones that come to mind are:

  • Try to listen to your mental talk in your head just like it’s a sound in nature, like listening to a bird. In this way, “you” can observe the thoughts in your head as the fly by, without getting attached to them.
  • In regards to your awareness, you can think of it in two different ways: (a) aiming your attention at a spot/area, or (b) hugging a friend.

For more details, check out the Brightmind app.

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.)

Shinzen Young’s story of Shingon/Shinto training

Years before I heard of Shinzen Young, I had always “enjoyed” practicing meditation in the cold. Some part of it probably goes back to childhood, when I had to wait for the schoolbus in the freezing cold of northern Illinois winters. (This was in the time before global warming.) I used to stand there without moving, and mentally I’d concentrate on not being cold, or at least not feeling the cold.

Many years later when I lived in Alaska, I used to enjoy going up into the mountains to basically inflict the same thing on myself. I always thought the “meditate deeply or suffer the consequences” approach forced me to meditate more deeply. This past winter that same “Do or die, there is not try” mentality forced me to maintain my focus and helped to combat my medically-induced lack of energy.

Should I buy Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha?

I recently bought the second edition of Mastering the Core Teachings of the Buddha: An Unusually Hardcore Dharma Book (I already read the first edition), and it occurred to me as I was reading the introductory pages why I like this book so much: As the author (Daniel Ingram) writes, “... it is a very strange thing to have such a completely different language, set of experiences, and perspectives from most of the people around me. I can often feel like an alien wearing a trench coat of normalcy ... If you go way into this stuff, you will discover this same loneliness.” I know that feeling well.

If you’re debating about whether this book might be right for you, my recommendation is that if that description applies to you, this book is probably right for you.

Also, you don’t have to be a Buddhist to read the book. Mr. Ingram often explains mindfulness and meditation techniques in great detail, and without archaic language.

In fact, I think one of the prime reasons to buy the book might be the thought, “I had some sort of unusual experience that I find hard to talk to other people about, but I’m courageous enough to want to learn more about it, and understand it.” As Mr. Ingram explains, sometimes experiences that happen to some people while meditating happen to other people who have never meditated a moment before in their life.

I suspect that some of my early experiences happened because I was a pitcher on baseball teams in my high school years, and I took that very seriously and concentrated hard while pitching. While other players had more talent, I had great concentration (and control). These days when I meditate I sometimes think, “Yep, this feels just like the concentration required while pitching.”

If you want a truly hardcore book with no-nonsense language from someone who is willing to talk about these things, this book is for you.

A moth is a mapmaking creature (and Zen koans)

A moth is a mapmaking creature. When it flies into a candle it’s working from an erroneous map. Maybe the moth’s map says, “Mating opportunities here.”

A human is also a mapmaking creature. Everyone operates from a map, and the map is always getting out of date. Life, the territory described by the map, moves quickly. This means that the map drifts away from the territory, eventually becoming more of a historical artifact than a useful guide.

When there is a wide gap between the map and current world, the person who made the map feels discomfort.

For however long it worked, it was a nice map, and now it doesn’t work any more. In this situation, unlike moths, humans have two choices. One is the path of discovery, in which the map is abandoned or redrawn over and over again.

The other path is one in which the more doubts you have about a map, the more strongly you insist it’s accurate. This is the path that leads the moth into the flame. If you follow this path, you’re living by a fiction, an erroneous map ... essentially what you’re doing is building a prison cell of non-reality to live in, your own little Alcatraz.

It’s the job of the koan to take down your prison walls, to undermine your fictions. Then you might discover that you’re not really suffering from other people or from circumstances. You’re suffering from your maps, your fictions, the prison you yourself have created.

A quote from a book titled, Bring Me the Rhinoceros: And Other Zen Koans That Will Save Your Life, by John Tarrant