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#1851 - Wednesday, July 7, 2004 - Editor: Jerry
This issue features articles from http://www.innerself.com/: Inner Self, a place of mainstream spirituality. I like seeing how some of the harder core nondual teachings are re-packaged for a general population. While having been re-packaged, these articles speak to the habit of re-packaging. In fact, here's a good inquiry one could ask at times throughout the day: "Re-packaging?"
The website was brought to my attention by Mary Bianco through the NDS News list. She sent a couple of articles, which re-appear here.
Buddha Wanted - Apply Within
by Jack Kornfield
These are extraordinary times for a spiritual seeker. Modern
spiritual bookstores bulge with texts of Christian, Jewish, Sufi, and
Hindu mystical practices. The many contradictory perspectives we
encounter pose one of the great dilemmas of spiritual life: What are
we to believe?
Initially, in our enthusiasm for our practice,
we tend to take
everything we hear or read as the gospel truth. This attitude often
becomes even stronger when we join a community, follow a teacher,
undertake a discipline. Yet all of the teachings of books, maps, and
beliefs have little to do with wisdom or compassion. At best they are
a signpost, a finger pointing at the moon, or the leftover dialogue
from a time when someone received some true spiritual nourishment. To
make spiritual practice come alive, we must discover within ourselves
our own way to become conscious, to live a life of the spirit.
When we are faced with a variety of spiritual
teachings and practice,
we must keep a genuine sense of inquiry: What is the effect of this
teaching and practice on myself and others? Am I being led to greater
kindness and greater understanding, to greater peace or freedom?
Spiritual practice can never be fulfilled by
imitation of an outer
form of perfection. This leads us only to "acting spiritual". In
fact, initially, spiritual practice may feel like it is leading us in
the opposite direction. As we awaken, we tend to see our faults and
fears, our limitations and selfishness, more clearly than ever
before. When we begin to encounter our own limitations directly, we
may then try to look for another form of practice, a faster way, or
we may decide to change our life radically move our home, get
divorced, join a monastery.
In our initial discouragement, we may blame our
practice, or the
community around us, or we may blame our teacher. This happened to me
in my first year as a monk. I was practicing diligently, but I became
quite frustrated after a time. The restlessness, doubt, reactivity,
and judgmental mind I encountered were very difficult for me.
The more frustrated I became, the more the
monastery looked sloppy
and not conducive to enlightenment. Even my image of the master began
to fit right in with this frame of mind. So I went to confront him. I
bowed and paid my respects and told him I wanted to leave for a
stricter monastery, that there wasn't enough time to meditate where I
was. "Eh," he said, "there isn't enough time to be aware?" "No," I
answered, somewhat taken aback by his question. But my frustration
was strong, so I went on, "Besides that, the monks are too sloppy and
even you aren't silent enough. You are inconsistent and
contradictory. This doesn't seem like what the Buddha taught to me."
Only a Westerner would say something like this, and it made him
laugh. "It's a good thing I don't appear like the Buddha," he
answered. Somewhat annoyed I replied, "Oh, yes, why is that?"
"Because," he said, "you would still be caught in looking at the
Buddha outside of yourself. He isn't out here!" With that he sent me
back to continue my meditation.
"It is our very search for perfection
outside ourselves that causes
our suffering," said the Buddha. Even the most perfect moment or
thing will change just a moment later. It is not perfection we must
seek, but freedom of the heart.
The Third Patriarch of Zen Buddhism explained
that liberation arises
when we are "without anxiety about non-perfection". The world is not
supposed to be perfect according to our ideas. We have tried so long
to change the world, yet liberation is not to be found by changing
it, by perfecting it, or ourselves. Whether we seek enlightenment
through altered states, or in community, or in our everyday life, it
will never come to us when we seek perfection. The Buddha arises when
we are able to see ourselves and the world with honesty and
compassion. In many spiritual traditions there is only one important
question to answer, and that question is: Who am I?
What images do we hold of ourselves, of our
spiritual life, of
others? Are all these images and ideas who we really are? Is this our
true nature? Liberation comes not as a process of self-improvement,
of perfecting the body or personality. Instead, in living a spiritual
life, we are challenged to discover another way of seeing, rather
than seeing with our usual images, ideals, and hopes. We learn to see
with the heart, which loves, rather than with the mind, which
compares and defines. This is a radical way of being that takes us
by Carlos Warter, M.D., Ph.D.
When we feel like closing our hearts,
generosity can take us beyond
fear and help us keep them open. Our wisdom and awareness will tell
us what generosity might be in any particular situation. Knowing what
the situation demands depends on generously giving ourselves enough
space to see clearly, which in turn depends on not holding anything
back for ourselves. The true point of generosity is to free ourselves
from wanting anything. If we are free from wanting anything for
ourselves -- including confirmation, peace, freedom, and
enlightenment --- it is possible to give away anything we might have.
Here are some ideas about how to be generous:
Generosity is allowing yourself to feel your
feelings -- even if you
think they're selfish. Acting out your feelings, however, may not
always be generous.
Generosity is giving yourself time to feel the
space around any
situation. It's inherently contained in taking a deep breath. In many
cases, being silent is a form of generosity.
Generosity can be honoring your own needs first
and then looking to
the needs of others. It's giving yourself good food, rest, and
relaxation when you need it. It is making friends with yourself. This
may require accepting qualities, opinions, and actions that are
beneath the standard of your internal judge.
It's very generous to become aware of your
story lines and learn to
jump over them. The best way to do this is to touch in with the
present moment. You can do this with your senses.
Generosity is the willingness to connect with
others. It is also
allowing others their opinions, without trying to change them.
It's generous to let your children be
themselves. Notice when you're
trying to control them. Are you acting for their safety, education,
or well-being-- or for your own convenience?
Generosity is knowing when to let things be,
without trying to "fix"
them. It's knowing that truth is more satisfying than happiness.
Generosity is saying yes instead of no. This
may mean activating your
will and going beyond habitual patterns of addiction, depression,
anger, and other negative emotions. It's being willing to open
yourself to yourself.
There's generosity in not expressing every
complaint. Can you see an
opportunity in whatever arises?
It's generous to be satisfied with what you have.
Generosity is allowing life to flow through your being.
Above all, it's being fully involved with whatever you are doing.
One teaching says, "Generosity is the
virtue that produces peace."
Try it and see if you think this is true.
Read and/or leave comments about this article.
This article was excerpted by permission from
Carlos Warter's book
Pathways to the Soul, copyright 2000, published by Hay House Inc.
Info/Order this book.
was excerpted from his book "A Path With Heart"
published by Bantam Books. For on-line information about other
Random House Inc. books and authors, see Internet Web Site at www.randomhouse.com
H J Kramer, Tiburon, CA
Reviewed by Marie T. Russell
Have you ever been to Japan? I haven't, but Ray Brooks' new novel, Blowing Zen, gave me a glimpse of that country, its people, its traditions, and even inside views of Buddhist monasteries.
Ray, while living in London, starts to wake up to the fact that is he leading a meaningless existence, drinking, partying, and living without purpose and true satisfaction. He begins his journey to find an "authentic life" while in London, and ends up, with his wife, in Tokyo where they both teach English to Japanese students. This book takes place in Japan, with some flashback to previous experiences in London, as well as in India.
Ray's path while in Japan takes him to a meditation retreat where he connects with a shakuhachi (Zen flute) player. Enough said about the story, other than Ray's journey becomes the readers journey... looking into ourselves for patience, persistence, clarity, humility, joy, spontaneity, trust, intuition, and mastery.
This book reads like a story-book (my favorite), yet is packed with insights, wisdom, and entertainment.
Reading this book will give you knowledge of Japan and its people, of the Zen way of life, of the connection between music and spirit, and an understanding of yourself.
I enjoyed reading it. It is the story of the author, who is now internationally known in Shakuhachi circles as a master performer, composer, and teacher. Studying the shakuhachi is more than simply "learning the flute" -- it is a path in learning "the self" and how to live life itself.
Whose Pictures Are You Taking Home?
by Alan Cohen
While walking through Costco, I noticed the large bin of photographs
that had been processed and were waiting for customers to pick up.
There were probably a couple of hundred packets listed alphabetically
according to customers names. I was struck by the fact that all of
these personal bags of photos were just sitting out in the open, to
be purchased on the honor system. Anyone could have stolen any of
them, or taken someone elses package and paid for it as their own.
Then it occurred to me that this system works because no one
wants to take someone elses photos home. Who wants to see Joshua
Bernsteins Bar Mitzvah pictures? Or little Ashleigh in her high
chair with goopy baby food dripping from her lips? Or the Hendersons
motor home vacation to Florida? No, no one really wants to take
anyone elses pictures home.
Yet on a psychological level, we do this all the time ¾ and
regret it. The photos we erroneously purchase are other peoples
pictures of reality. We adopt our parents model of relationship; our
mothers fears about money; our older brothers attitude about sex;
our ministers relationship with God; our teachers opinion about
politics; and on, and on. And we pay dearly for them. Most peoples
pictures of reality are fear-based and limiting, and do not serve us.
Yet we take them home and replicate them in our own lives, to the
point that we believe theyre our own. Then, if we are not careful,
we pass them on to our children. Then we wonder why we, and the
people we know, are so unhappy. All because we accepted and paid for
boring or unhappy pictures that never belonged to us in the first
Contrary to what you have been taught, the reality you live in
choice. You generate reality by the images you focus on. The more you
pay attention to any picture of reality, the more real it becomes to
you. You can create and live in vast worlds simply by thinking they
are real. This does not mean they are real; it just means you have
given them a great deal of attention and belief.
A classic story tells of a man who went to visit a friend in
country home. In the middle of the night, the man got up to go to the
bathroom and found a huge deadly snake coiled up on the floor, ready
to strike him. The next morning the host awoke to find his guest dead
on the floor, lying next to a coiled up piece of large rope. The
fellow died not of a snakebite, but of fright. He was just as dead as
if the snake had been real. His murderer was not a snake; it was his
This parable applies to every fear we experience. Enlightened
teachers tell us that nothing we fear is real at all; the objects we
fear exist only in our imagination. The word "fear" is an acronym for
"false evidence appearing real." A Course in Miracles poignantly
adds, "You can indeed afford to laugh at fear thoughts, remembering
that God goes with you wherever you go."
In a world where many people are afraid, and reinforce their
attacking the objects of their fear, you can bring significant
healing by remaining sane and recognizing perceived snakes as actual
ropes. Nothing can hurt you unless you give it power with your
thoughts. When you remember the presence of love in a situation where
others have forgotten it, you are returning unwanted photos back to
their bin, and taking your own home.
The critical voice is not your own. Your were not born with
of judgment, lack, and separateness. They are all learned -- and can
be unlearned. Children and animals are our greatest teachers because
they have not yet passed the photo department and taken home other
peoples yucky albums. Children are connected to God and have not
been taught otherwise. Thank God for children, animals, and nature;
they are our lifelines to Original Innocence.
A five-year-old boy observed his parents bringing his newborn
brother home from the hospital. For days he pestered his parents to
let him be alone with his little brother. Fearing the older child
would hurt the infant, the parents resisted. But the boy persisted.
Finally the parents gave in, and hooked up an intercom in the babys
room so they could monitor any potential disturbance. Instead, they
heard the older brother close the door behind him, gently approach
the babys crib, lean over, look into the infants eyes, and speak
these words: "Would you please tell me about God? Im starting to
At this time of year we celebrate the holidays of Easter and
-- both powerful lessons in letting go of the old and limiting so we
can step into a life of greater freedom and aliveness. In essence,
both Jesus and the Hebrew nation returned unwanted photos to the bin,
and took home their own instead. In doing so, they set the stage for
us to do the same. Those dark pictures never belonged to you anyway.
You have your own and better to enjoy.
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