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Everything posted by steve

  1. Expressing gratitude for material things

    No judgement of what others choose to post but I spend so much time noticing and voicing the negativity of my environment (be it internally or externally) that I’m going to restrict myself only to sharing gratitude in this thread.
  2. Welcome back! I hope you find what you are looking for.
  3. Martial Arts demonstrations gone wrong

    No video but I’ll share a martial misadventure. I made my first pair of nunchaku around age 14 and taught myself some moves. I got pretty good with the little buggers. One day I was really in the groove in my back yard, missed an over the shoulder flip, whacked myself hard in the jaw and knocked myself flat on my back. It was a great lesson in their effectiveness!
  4. Martial Arts demonstrations gone wrong

    It's pretty intense the first time the lights go out...
  5. Expressing gratitude for material things

    I’m grateful for the 100 year old Martin guitar I lucked into last year for a very fair price. It needed a little work but sounds and plays great. Also grateful for my meditation cushion. It’s had to put up with my bottom for quite a few years!
  6. Dancing

    Nureyev I saw a lesser known artist (Mel Tomlinson, friend of my brother) dance this part and literally transformed into the faun. It has stayed with me for 30 years.
  7. Dancing

    I debated whether to post that. The cheeks are a little risqué but her flow is just sublime. PS - happy to remove if anyone finds it objectionable (feel free to PM)
  8. Reading Zhuang zi

    There are differences and there are similarities, between cultures, between families, between individuals. We can focus on either but it is important not to focus on one or the other exclusively, otherwise we restrict our potential. Texts do not rely on commentaries, people rely on commentaries. Zhuangzi is capable of speaking across millennia, bridging language and culture, communicating very directly and personally. We are the ones that need to be open and prepared to hear what he has to say. Certainly there are challenges but when you hear what he is saying, you know. When he speaks of the archer going blind when he is more focused on the prize than the act of releasing his bow, I know exactly what he is saying, as does every soccer pro who ever missed a penalty shot, or golfer that missed a 2 foot putt. When he speaks of the ambiguity of waking and dreaming, the sudden feeling of uncertainty, of mystery and possibility is unmistakable and pure. No need for commentary or cultural translation. While I agree that there is value in cultural and linguistic coloration, subtlety, and precision, it is not an all or none proposition. I think you are selling yourself and others short, especially the old masters who wrote down these profound lessons. There is a reason why these teachings are held so dear that they are passed down for hundreds and thousands of years. They are not limited to any particular scholarly, linguistic, or cultural tradition. They are able to express something deep and valuable, and not only to a limited few but to anyone, anywhere potentially. And the meanings, very much like poetry or other forms of art, are not restricted to a particular perspective. No one can claim complete authority over the meaning of profound spiritual texts or art. In part this is because what we need from a teaching as individuals is not necessarily an answer or a piece of information; what we often need (some may say always) is something that loosens an obstacle or a blockage in us, allowing the truth that is deep and hidden, but always already present, to shine forth. Profound spiritual lessons are not so much like learning a new mathematical equation or grammatical rule, it is more like being guided to a feeling of coming home to something very deep, very certain, very supportive and nourishing; and it often feels like waking up from a long to dream to something you somehow knew all along.
  9. Reading Zhuang zi

    If we do not read and speak Chinese, our only option is to read translations. Fortunately, there are many translations available in a variety of languages. Even if one does speak and read Chinese, that is no guarantee of an accurate or better understanding than someone dependent on translations. All we have to work with is what our karma provides and that is not limited to fluency in any particular language. There are many other variables that affect our understanding, our ability to connect to a teaching. All we can do is work with what we have or work to improve our circumstances and conditions if we don't find them satisfying or supportive.
  10. Reading Zhuang zi

    When we know, we know. Words don't get in the way. When there is uncertainty or doubt, words can be as much an obstacle as a guide.
  11. Dancing

    Some neo-swing... And a little shuffle!
  12. Dancing

    I love this performance! The music is sublime, the lyrics like a Rumi poem, the dancers on fire, and Yousou N’dour...
  13. Dancing

    One of my favorite dance moments in film!
  14. An opinion or observation of madness

    A lot of truth... It is why I keep returning here. It is where I am more likely to connect with people who are more fully awake more often.
  15. I drink coffee infrequently and often nurse it until it’s cold. I like it like that. I usually take chamomile or turmeric tea to work in a big clear cup and people ask if I’m drinking urine...
  16. Remaining Centered - Simply Be

    A classic taijiquan saying is "invest in loss." Every time we fail there is an opportunity to learn something about ourselves. Winning simply demonstrates something we already know.
  17. What I mention in that post is the core practice of dzogchen which is to simply rest in the Nature of Mind, completely open and clear without intentionally engaging the discursive mind at all. As you say, it's not where we start. There are things that are necessary for most people before that, otherwise it is very easy to get off the path or never find it in the first place. More often than not we think we are resting in Nature but actually the mind is subtly active and we are simply wasting our time. Step one is the preliminary practices. Step two is introduction to the Nature of Mind. The first part of this introduction involves settling and stabilizing the busy mind. This is called zhiné in Bön, or calm abiding. It's comparable to shamatha. It is meditation on a fixed object, typically the Tibetan letter ཨ. Once we have achieved and stabilized that state of calm abiding, only then do we begin to look back at the one who is looking. Similar to vipassana. If we try to do that before there is stability, the mind is far too active to really observe carefully. There are different approaches in Bön, one of which is to ask questions about the nature of that experience as we meditate on the fixed object. Questions like where is my mind? what color is it? what size? can I show it to anyone? can I measure it? who, what, and where is the one who is looking at the ཨ? who is looking at the one who is looking? etc... In the old days the master would literally send the student out into the wilds of the Himalayas and tell them not to come back until they find it. That doesn't work so well for the sophisticated and educated minds of the West. Different story when teaching uneducated yak herders or young, naive monks. When we look long and hard enough, we may be fortunate enough to find it. What do we find? We find absolutely nothing. That is the empty aspect. And the longer and harder we look, the more real and conclusive that realization is. Just to read and think about it is very superficial. One needs to do that work. Stabilize the mind and then deeply look at it, nakedly and directly. And even though we find nothing at all that we can identify as mind, we need to ask what is it that is aware of that nothing? It is aware of itself, that is the clarity aspect, that is rigpa. And the conclusion cannot be an intellectual one, that is essentially worthless. It needs to be a direct experience of emptiness and clarity. It needs to be so definitive that we no longer have any doubt about what it means to rest in Nature. Once we reach that certainty, that is the meaning of introduction to the Nature of Mind. I wrote the long answer for the benefit of those who may have interest in dzogchen but have not been exposed to any of its teachings.
  18. Remaining Centered - Simply Be

    We have a specific practice for that. Our teachings tend to divide practices such that they address body, speech, and mind. In this practice we exhaust the activities of body, speech, and mind. We reflect on activity of the body going back as far as possible, recalling and embodying the feeling of all of the endless physical activity we've engaged in since our earliest memories. We sit with that and really bring it alive internally. If done right you can really feel the exertion and exhaustion. Once we've stayed with that for a time, long enough to really feel the immensity of it all, we take a slow deep breath, exhale, and let all of that go completely. Once we let go we simply rest in that openness and presence that was filled with activity. We rest there for as long as it is uncontrived and fresh and open. It is generally done in a sitting posture but the feeling is as if we've come home from an extremely long and tough journey or difficult day at work. We imagine lying down on our bed or sitting in our favorite chair and letting it all go... AAAAAHHHHHHHH........ The same is done with the activity of speech, both the external and internal stories of our lives and beliefs, all of the talking to ourselves and others, etc... Then we do it with the activity of mind/heart - emotions, images, memories, thoughts, etc... It's a fantastic exercise to help recognize effortlessness and distinguish that from the subtle efforts we exert in our meditative practice.
  19. Remaining Centered - Simply Be

    If you're away from the center, you must return. If you are centered, you remain... Three steps in practicing meditation for me - - notice when I am disconnected - reconnect (return) - continue (remain)
  20. Remaining Centered - Simply Be

    I've put in a hell of a lot of effort to find effortlessness...
  21. Remaining Centered - Simply Be

    As you know, this is also essentially my view and practice - dzogchen. And yet I think it is extremely important to recognize and acknowledge that this approach simply doesn't work for everyone. In fact, it works for a very small number of individuals based on their karma. Others may never get this view throughout their lifetime. One of the reasons that dzogchen has traditionally been highly secretive is someone not karmically connected to this view and teaching can find it confusing, frustrating, even harmful. They may denigrate the teaching or it may lead to reckless behavior, or loss of confidence in the dharma. I've seen that happen. In the history of Buddhism there are countless criticisms and arguments against the dzogchen view by highly accomplished masters, it's not just a matter of laypeople "not getting it." It is a precious and priceless teaching but just sharing it with people is no assurance they will "get it." So I say all this because while some are extremely fortunate to have connected with this view, there needs to be a degree of sensitivity that many people will not connect, maybe never. When they do not connect, those continuing to espouse this view can come across as arrogant or demeaning. It can be frustrating and painful to listen to others proclaim how simple and effortless it all is when to any given individual, it may not feel at all simple or effortless. We see that here from time to time. For this reason in both Buddhism and Bon there are many other paths - sutra, tantra, all the causal paths of Bon; all of which are there to allow those who cannot connect to the simple path to find a way forward, a way out of confusion and suffering. I post this not to be critical but to be supportive of those who may be interested in this type of view but not be able to connect with it yet. Not being able to connect with this, or any other, view does not mean the view is not correct; nor does it mean that we are lesser practitioners or mistaken. It simply means the view is not correct for ME at this moment in my life due to the complex interaction of causes and conditions that are my karma. I can, and hopefully will, remain open to the possibility that I may "get it" at some point in the future but I may need to go through other things before that occurs - life experiences, practices, receiving of blessings, etc... I think that's a valuable way to approach anything we don't understand - remain open and it may become more clear at some point in the future. This is far better, IMO, than shutting it out and labeling it "wrong." I feel that this is important to mention during any public discussion of the "absolute view." I'm posting simply as a member, not as a moderator.
  22. Great point and subject for discussion. I once read a book that hammered this point home for me titled: The Question to Life's Answers: Spirituality Beyond Belief by Steven Harrison. The basic point being that questions are alive, full of potential, and can serve as our path. Answers are dead ends, rather than open us they close us to new and unexpected possibilities. In the tradition I currently follow, it is taken one step further. No need for questions, no need for answers, not even a need for curiosity. Conceptual and intellectual constructs are allowed to be as they are without engaging or following after the mind's activity and content. Just be... Leave everything as it is and simply be... In a sense, it is a form of curiosity disengaged from the discursive mind.