Meditation will not make you happy, but it may help you see that happiness is always here and available.

What is it that motivates a person to practice meditation (prayer, or whatever term you choose to use)? Is it a belief that by beginning this practice will lead to some kind of improvement, some kind of happiness which you do not currently actualize?

I would propose that in many cases people meditate because they believe it is good for them in some manner. Because of this, people do not really meditate. You may sit, walk, or consciously choose to do other activities and call it a practice of meditation. But with the underlying presumption that it is good, you do not meditate, you are always somewhere else.

Now, in the practice of meditation it is true that you may experience happiness and peace. So, I am not saying “do not practice meditation.” What I am saying is that we examine and inquire as to what meditation is. “What do you meditate on?” is a common question asked of someone who meditates. However, this question evokes a certain amount of puzzlement from those who truly practice meditation. Meditation does not meditate on anything at all. It is a practice of seeing existence for what it really is beyond all words, ideas, images, and abstract creations of thought. As we commonly say, “talking to one’s self is the first sign of madness.” And so in this sense, a person who is always thinking is always talking to themselves. Thus, they are out of touch with reality.

Meditation seeks to gain nothing nor does it lose anything. It sees that all of life is a relationship and completely connected with itself. The separation of things and identities which we convince ourselves to be real through our thoughts, ideas, and measurements to bring definition to matter, evaporate. We see that there is no past nor is there any future. Both past and future begin now. If you hope to gain happiness in the future through practicing meditation you are living in the delusion that the future is something real. As long as you are practicing meditation with that sort of mindset, you are like a donkey who is being lead by a carrot tied on the end of a stick. The donkey is always hoping to get the carrot but of course, never really does.

The human mind has the tendency to desire a straightening out of the world in which we live. We are always attempting to straighten out the vast wiggles of nature so that it will make some kind of sense to our way of thinking. We desire formulas and methods we can use to gain something to improve us, to make “me” a better person. Certainly, there are many books, products, and teachers on meditation, spirituality, and becoming a better person which have made a fortune capitalizing on this desire many of us have. But who is it that is in need of improvement? And if you identify your-self in terms of thoughts and ideas – who you think you are – you will always be attempting to improve yourself using the very thing you presume needs to be improved. Which is like cleaning a dirty plate with a dirty rag.

As long as you believe yourself to be unhappy you will be unhappy. As long as you believe yourself to be in need of improvement you will need to be improved. As is well said “anyone who thinks they need to see a psychiatrist ought to have their head examined.” Meditation can be greatly beneficial for us as human beings to practice. But when it becomes formulaic, which is to say something we do for some reason, some purpose of betterment, it is undermined by desire and therefore does not see reality for what it is.

Meditation like any method of doing something can provide useful functions for the way in which we live. It can bring us to an actualization of the present and the enjoyment of being alive. But the present is always here. You cannot escape the present.

Meditation will not make you happy, but it may help you see that happiness is always here and available.

What is your motivation to practice meditation?

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Listening: Do I hear what they are saying, or what my own inner-filter is saying?

The need for control seems to be a lifelong battle and struggle for many of us. We look upon the actions of others and indeed our own actions with the eye of judgment; ever watchful that we do what in our minds we perceive as being right. when we do not act in accordance with our point of view of was right, we then feel guilt, propelling us into a cycle of negative behaviour.

It is much easier to point our lens of focus – our lens of judgment – toward the actions of others. This ease of looking at others as opposed to ourselves is the initial, natural supposition in the way we view life, as one of course cannot look at their own eye with their own eye. And so we look at others. Indeed we only know ourselves by how we know and what we know, from others. Everything which enters into the eye and to the mind creates our perception of truth, reality, and who we are.

But there still seems to be something, some pervasive voice telling us that what we see is not how life should be. There are socially agreed upon notions of morality and proper behaviour which we learn in early childhood, demanding that we judge the world outside of thinking skull. In conversations of religious, political, or scientific topics we listen to what a person is saying to determine whether or not we agree or disagree. But what they are saying is not what we agree or disagree with; rather, our own interpretation of their words is what we are attempting to reach a conclusion towards. And so we are not really listening to them at all but to ourselves – to our own chatter in the skull.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen Master with great insight into “deep listening”:

In our interactions with one another, how can we truly listen to what each other is saying? How can we pause our judgments in order to more deeply investigate, inquire, and truly hear what another is saying? I might even go so far as to say that we may never reach a point of making a judgment about what another human being has said, unless we only hear what they superficially are saying. Conversation is a lifelong relational journey we take with one another. If our initial inclination is to make a judgment about what another says, let us ask ourselves, what is important? Is it important that I let them know my judgment, my conclusion about what they have said according to my own interpretation, or is it important that I investigate what they think with them? Is it more important that I do not judge, but place myself in their shoes to understand what they are saying as we learn from one another?

Can we recognize the content of words apart from the ego who offers them?

The word preaching to me, has a certain connotation. It has an inference that one is giving a message to others they think others ought to believe or adhere to. Certainly, there are definitions of preaching which differ from this connotation that I perceive, but this is the sense to which I am addressing what it means to preach. This connotation to preaching is why I say I do not like preaching.

A criticism of the preacher is often that he does not practice what he preaches (please forgive the sexist “he” as I mean this pronoun in a more inclusive sense). But I feel that we as writers and speakers must give the message of which we believe we have to give, in the same way that a stream of water gives water to the thirsty traveler. I wish not to write with a purpose of giving instruction or or teaching that you ought to receive; rather, that I have thoughts and as the stream quenches the thirst of the hiker, perhaps the words I write may at some time inspire others to a greater understanding of what these words mean, even if it is a meaning that I myself do not yet grasp.

If one does not practice what they preach, is their message invalidated? If their message, although perhaps not lived by the speaker, their words may still inspire others to a greater depth of understanding life. So can we recognize the content of words apart from the ego who offers them?

Who are you beyond who you think you are?

I wonder if you see who I really am. I wonder what it is you are using to define who I am. Are you using your senses, your eyesight? I wonder if you are using your abilities of thought. Are the words I which I use for the purpose of communication creating an image within your mind of who I am? Do you use your memories and experience of interaction with me to determine a definition of how you view me?
Would it be accurate to say, that nearly each one of us forms a point of view, idea, and conception of who another person is, by using our abilities of thinking? Does our ability to think create an accurate perception and awareness of the real identity of a human being we see as an “other”?
Who are you beyond who you think you are?
That is a question I have been contemplating for some time. I use the term “contemplating” because this word, to me, means something a bit different – a bit deeper – than simply thinking about something. Contemplation means to see through thoughts themselves into a reality which lies beneath or perhaps more accurately – beyond the thoughts themselves. It is as though thoughts act as a fog in the mind and contemplation is a Way in which we see through the fog and discover a place of clarity. We see that which is unseen.
Contemplation is coming to a vision of nothing. Not nothing in the sense of being void or empty, but nothing in the sense that in silence and in rest we find peace. What does sound look like from the point of view of silence? What does your body look like from the point of view of all the space which surrounds your body? Perhaps the silence would wish to investigate and inquire as to the nature of these sounds emanating from itself. Perhaps surrounding space which to our eyes appears blank (although when we look with tools that can detect other frequency of light, we see space is not empty at all) would investigate the things we call objects and matter, in the same way that we human beings talk of exploring space.
The question and investigation of “who am I?” is vital to living a healthy and sane life in relationship to the world around us. When we feel separate from others, separate from nature itself, this creates a feeling a strangeness and distrust of life itself. We see life as something to be conquered or as a problem to be solved. And so we’re constantly and perhaps unknowingly looking for problems we might solve through our own efforts and work. We look at the problem of poverty and think something must be done to change this state of circumstance in our world. Perhaps we ourselves feel impoverished. Even the richest person may be driven in life by a belief in the fear of poverty. Perhaps some become rich in order to use their wealth to help the poor. But of course, we do not have the poor without the rich, so these efforts to obtain wealth to help others is limited by the fact that richness exists only in relationship with poverty.
In reality, there is no poverty and there is no wealthy. The earth produces enough resources for all people to live well, but because we see ourselves – who am I? – as separate from one another there are some who hoard wealth while others suffer greatly. When we see our unconditional relationship to all people and all of life, poverty and wealth evaporate and the grand resources of earth are shared so that no person is in lack. I am not talking about politics or forms of law and economics to enforce the sharing of resources. I am saying that sharing and generosity naturally arises within the freedom of truly understanding relationship and connection to life.
When a person asks the question “who am I?” I wonder who is asking this question. We all identify ourselves with this letter-word “I.” It is perhaps the most used letter-word by those who use the English language. But what does “I” mean? What is it referring to? Everyone is “I” in the simple example that this how we each refer to ourselves. Perhaps we think that when we use the letter-word “I” we are referring to something inside of the skin or in the brain. Perhaps we are referring to some sort of spirit that is trapped within our body to finally find escape and liberation upon our death. But does what one might mean by the spirit have thoughts? Who is the thinker? What is beyond thought?

Answering the question “Who Am I?”

It may be one of the very first questions, and still most important questions, mankind has ever thought to ask, who am I?

It’s a funny question that can present immense difficulties in answering. As the art of poetry attempts to express what is inexpressable in terms of words, so it is with attempting to answer the question of one’s identity in terms of thoughts.

The answer I have found, through my own experience here on earth, is that the true essence of all things is that which can be found in the force of Love. But in order to communicate just what I mean by “Love” we have to disegard all conceptions that we have made as to what “Love” is.

The word “Love” may rise images of a lover or romantic relationship we’ve had, the love we knew from our parents, or the many other forms which society has marked as being called Love. But the Love I write about, to be understood, is a Love beyond thoughts, ideas, and conceptions. When I speak on the subject of Love to others, it is implied that we are actually discussing is something beyond the mere words we are exchanging; therefore, there is a certain amount of unspoken trust required to have a true discussion on the matter at all.

“I” is what “I” identify as being th universal self. Not the self as though who I am is something trapped within this body encapsulated by skin, but a self which only knows itself by everything surrounding, everything there is. And so when we see our true self as being in everything else, everything other, we see that root of everything which is Love, God, Brahmin, or whatever you want to call it. We then feel moved with love and compassion for everything, and in this way we are liberated from the box of skin we commonly identify with, into the liberation and freedom of a life lived for Love.

Thank you for reading this contemplation.

-MR

Understanding Unemployment

When there’s no work there’s no dignity.” – Pope Franics


Many of us find our identity and self-worth in our ability to work for our living. But there is a question which goes deeper that I think we need to ask ourselves: what is work?

For most people, work is doing something of which we may have some skill in order to receive a paycheck to pay for our homes, cell phone, automobile, and the other coasts of living we incur within society. It’s rarely about what we do, but what we can obtain in exchange for what we do which determines that identity we have attached to our being employed.

I have recently been studying the caste system, and see many aspects of how this system is incredibly active today. The caste system breaks down the roles of members within a society into four groups: the priests or education; warriors and leaders or political and military; merchants and tradesmen or what we might call the small business owners of today, and the labor caste.

One of the main and most often points we hear most politicians today talk about is that “we need jobs!” Being that politicians rarely say anything that isn’t in their interest of gaining votes, this would highly suggest that the majority of voters is in need or would like jobs and better jobs. We know that unemployment is rising and economic inequality is rising (rather quickly), and so it is safe to assume that this fear is one on the minds of many voting Americans.

When we lose a job or do not have a job we can grow disheartened and stagnate, because we do not recognize that our job as a living breathing being is not something which has worth tied to an amount on a paycheck. Our job is to build relationships with one another and work on the things we love to do. When we stop wallowing in our own frustration over perhaps lacking the funds to pay for house, car, etc. our life and world opens to us and we begin to discover what exactly it is we are here to do.

We all have a job. A job not dictated by society’s structures and systems, but by the system of our very nature, the system of God. The system of God is one of freedom, loving one another, and living a life full of enjoyment. Is our enjoyment of life dependent on the insane symbolic attachment we have with money? Or is our enjoyment of life found in the simple fact that we are living, and as we are here we have access to the joy of life, which carries us into success – whatever that may be.

On What It Means to Be Bored

To be a bore means to be tiresome and dull. Therefore, we can ensue that feeling the property of boredom is a similar felling or conscious emotional state.

Life is a rhythm of pulsating tones generating a melody of astounding and marvelous beauty. There is hardly anything which I think can be said to be boring about life, yet, most of us still experience boredom within our lives at some point and on some level.

I often begin working on a project initiated by an idea that I find to be exciting and a worthwhile endeavor to undertake. After working on that project awhile, I tend to creep closer and closer to becoming bored with it, which happens when I feel that I simply repeating the same pattern over and over. I eventually hit a wall, and often neglect to take the project or idea further until I let it go, and see if it comes back to me at a later point in time.

But how did that idea which I was so initially passionate about eventually become boring?

It is well said that surprise is the spice of life. When we lose the surprise nature of life, we step into the realm of boredom. Which can b a tricky path to navigate between. Because if we were to be looking for surprises, they wouldn’t really be surprises, would they? A true surprise must be something completely unexpected and unsought.

Living in the present, in the Now, is the only place we can never get out of. It’s where we are. When we recognize this is where we are and that it is all there truly is, everything becomes a surprise.

And surprise is a function of reality that is totally subversive to our own attempts to control nature and reality.

The Rhythm of Life

Orchestra1_2It starts with one, simplistic beat of a drum. Then a slow flowing cello enters the floor and begins to sooth. Next, the light string picking of an acoustic guitar serenades us as the beginning drum beat and cello welcome this new member of the melody. A piano then enters to add yet another dimension with each key that is pressed. A saxophone then plays an upbeat tune, yet, still in perfect accord with the melody of the other instruments.

And that is the way life is. Each musical note is as varied as each individual person. Yet, each note yields itself in the creation of this masterpiece we call existence. The initial drum beat would become quite boring if that were the only aspect of the song. As each new instrument is introduced the song becomes even more interesting and complex, yet all of the instruments join together to fill the space that is always available.

With the introduction of each instrument there is also more space that is created. More space to invite and welcome yet another instrument, another artist’s contribution the Great Song of Life.

To Those Who Fear Technology

c3b03f75caf02c0f_office-spaceI know it’s scary. New technological devices coming out everyday and the pressures of society bombarding you with the demand that you need to be the latest and greatest tools of communication and sharing information. It can be very overwhelming.

I think that as the progress of technology seemingly speeds faster and faster, those who were not raised in this environment have a much wider gap of understanding smartphones, apps, and programs of computing. I think that in many ways the younger generation, being raised with technology, have their brains wired in such a way that we can better understand how computers work and thus; they are in more in tune with how computers work and think in a more similar manner.

But if you are someone who has difficulty or frustration with understanding and using new technology, there is hope!

First, recognize that frustration blocks you from the goal of understanding how to use your smartphone, tablet, or whatever device you are attempting to use to better your life (because bettering your life is the goal, right?). Do not think that you need to instantly “get it.” Learning happens – without frustration – when we play. If you accidentally hit the wrong button that causes your device to do something you don’t understand, don’t worry, you haven’t messed anything up.

See what it is you would like your technology to do for you. Oftentimes we become frustrated because we see our technology as something that performs a function that is cool or helpful, but we don’t really have an idea of that cool and helpful function is we would like it to do. We know that an app or program is supposed to do something, but if we aren’t certain of what we want it to do, we will run into walls that can create a desire to give up on it and go back to what we’re comfortable with. Start with what you are comfortable with, and look for small ways to expand that comfort zone. Perhaps you’ve mastered how to send a text message, now play with sending a picture message or MMS (MultiMedia Message). With each new thing you learn, you’ll be taking small steps, and you’ll be amazed at all the things you’ll learn to do when you look back from where you started.

Questioning the Limitations of Thought

Beliefs often act as walls which ultimately result in our disconnected feeling of the time we spend alive. We formulate a belief – a resounding absolution of acceptance – based on perhaps what we’ve been taught as a youth we ought to believe, perhaps because we want security in something, or perhaps because we wanted to be accepted by others and so we adopted their beliefs whether knowingly or because that was the environment of thought we surrounded ourselves with.

“Beliefs cling, but faith lets go…” – Alan Watts

If you’ve ever engaged in conversation with a person who stands on their beliefs concretely – whatever they may be – you’ve likely experienced the frustration of actually having a discussion with them. Take a person who believes the Bible to be the literal “Word of God” for example. For every topic of conversation they have a verse ready to tell you the un-discussable truth. Thus, it becomes impossible to really have a discussion of concepts and ideas.

The science of the past 200 years, with its many accomplishments, has also done a great disservice to the way we see.

Science has produced a general outlook that what is reality is what is seen or can be observed in the physical sense. I would like to say early on, that my philosophical viewpoint does not necessarily differentiate the spiritual and the physical, as though they are two aspects to be believed or not; rather, my philosophy is that the two go together. There is no separation (although there is perhaps a perceived separation), between the somethingness (physical) and the spacial nothingness (spiritual). Because without one you cannot have the other. And so we see that they go together.

We often form our thoughts about reality from the point of view of what our physical eyes see. However, we must recognize that this leads us to forming a highly limited and small-minded perception of what is truly here and there. The eyes take in an immense amount of light in every moment, but our attention excludes nearly all of it so that we can focus on something particular. Therefore, since we know we are excluding so much of what is really happening, we can also be assured that our perception of reality, based in thought, is incredibly reduced.

So how do we see, really see?

We see by detaching ourselves from the belief that what is reality is merely what we see with our physical eyes. Which means, in one sense, we must let go of our attachment to thoughts. Which is not to say that thoughts are useless or that we should try not to think, simply that we see for ourselves what thoughts truly are.

Thoughts are exceptional in how they allows us to function with one another, but thoughts are not who we really are deep down, they are but a tool for us to use for the advancement of societal ideas and communication. As one would use a hammer to drive in a nail, so we use thoughts for a proper purpose.

When our attachment to thoughts is gone – attachment in the sense that who we think we are is who we are – we are liberated to truly see.