zen

Mindfulness lesson: Keep practicing, even when you don’t want to

Today’s mindfulness “lesson of the day” (mostly for myself) is a reminder to keep practicing, even when you don’t feel like it. You don’t get to choose when moments of enlightenment happen, so the best thing you can do is keep practicing so those moments will be possible when the right circumstances (karma?) come into alignment.

What happens is that over time, both the mindfulness and the enlightenment bits change the wrinkles in your brain, change your perspective and attitude, and cleanse the environmental conditioning of whatever happened to get you to this point. With continued practice you evolve (think “metamorphosis”) into a new person over time — this time a person of your own choosing, rather than a person conditioned by where and when you were born and lived.

Namaste. ;)

The Tao of The RZA (and Ghost Dog)

This short interview titled The Tao of The RZA reminds me of the movie Ghost Dog:

“According to what one of the Elders say,
taking an enemy on the battlefield
is like a hawk taking a bird;

Even though it enters into
the midst of a thousand of them,
it pays no attention to any bird
other than the one that it has first marked.”

Linji ~ If you want to be free

If you want to be free,
Get to know your real self.

It has no form, no appearance,
No root, no basis, no abode,
But is lively and buoyant.

It responds with versatile facility,
But its function cannot be located.

Therefore when you look for it,
You become further from it;
When you seek it,
You turn away from it all the more.

~ Linji

Emptiness vs interdependence in Buddhism

I’ve often wondered about the difference between the terms emptiness and interdependence in Buddhism, and came across this excellent Accidental Buddhist blog post recently, which includes this paragraph about a conversation the Dalai Lama had:

“In the course of one of these conversations, His Holiness tells Victor Chan that for decades he has meditated every day on interconnectedness and emptiness. He said that there are two types of reality. Firstly, there is ‘standard’ reality. He gestures towards a mug of water. When we look at it we see water. When we touch it we feel water. We know it is water. But then he described how we can look at it with ‘ultimate’ reality in which the mug is a combination of particles, atoms, electrons and quarks — none of these particles can be described as ‘a mug’. The term mug is just an every-day label for this collection of particles.”

“The mug has come into existence because of a complex web of causes and conditions. Therefore it does not and could not exist independently. It cannot come into being by itself, of its own volition. It is empty of intrinsic, inherent existence. In other words, empty is another word for interdependent.”

The intensity of a monk’s meditation states befuddles science

“While his brain was probed by the fMRI, Mingyur (a Buddhist monk) followed the instruction to engage compassion. Once again the minds of everyone watching in the control room felt as though they had stopped. The reason: Mingyur’s brain circuitry for empathy rose to an activity level 700 to 800 times greater than it had been in the rest period just before.”

“Such an extreme increase befuddles science; the intensity with which those states were activated in Mingyur’s brain far exceeds any that had ever been seen in ‘normal’ people. The closest resemblance is for epileptic seizures, but those episodes last brief seconds, not for a full minute. And besides, brains are controlled by seizures, in contrast to Mingyur’s display of intentionally controlling his brain activity.”

~ from a story about brainwave tests of a monk in 2002

Reflections on a 10-day meditation course

From this article:

“Shortly after starting the session, my mind became as sharp as I’ve ever felt it in my life. I was in complete control of a lucid, concentrated mind.

I became meta aware of this mental clarity. It’s how I imagine it feels to ’wake up’ in the middle of your dreams and control them. I directed my attention away from my body to a random thought. And then brought it right back. Then away. Then back. All by choice.”

David Lynch, transcendental meditation proponent alvin March 10, 2018 - 1:09pm

David Lynch (the director, not the realtor I knew in Kentucky) is a big proponent of transcendental meditation (TM). He writes about how he started with it, and about the transcendental meditation technique (with clips from Jerry Seinfeld, Ellen DeGeneres, and others). Here’s a YouTube video titled, David Lynch on Consciousness, Creativity and the Brain, and here’s a related Jerry Seinfeld video on TM.