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Found 11 results

  1. "Breathing in, I am aware of my heart. Breathing out, I smile to my heart and know that my heart still functions normally. I feel grateful for my heart." -Thích Nhất Hạnh Dear Tao Bums, Students and Practitioners of Buddhism, Please take a moment in silent light and benevolence to offer grace and blessing to thây Thích Nhất Hạnh who passed away on January 22nd, 2022 at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam. Thây Hạnh was the teacher of Thiền Buddhism- a Vietnamese form of Zen Buddhism, author of 130 books and founder of both Deer Park and Plum Village Monasteries. Among his many writings, were "The Miracle of Mindfulness", "Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames", and "Peace is Every Step". Record of his funeral procession in Vietnam, his final parting words of merit and wish for the compassionate community to continue the cultivation of bodhicitta can be seen here: His dedication, teachings and compassion have touched many lives. May we offer our gratitude and blessing not only in our hearts and through prayer, but also in action through our continued living dedication in heartfelt cultivation, practice and compassion. "The real power of the Buddha was that he had so much love. He saw people trapped in their notions of small separate self, feeling guilty or proud of that self, and he offered revolutionary teachings that resounded like a lion's roar, like a great rising tide, helping people to wake up and break free from the prison of ignorance" -Thích Nhất Hạnh May we all love, love deeply, and love truly.
  2. Beautiful

    The food we consume - is the all that we take in We bring in through the eyes vast cubic miles every day The ears hear a thousand vibrations we never notice The nose speaks directly to our ancestry in each breath Our skin sinks to the marrow Please share here beauty that you have found so that it might be a well of delight and wonder
  3. One of the reasons for much of the suffering that we go through in life is taking life too seriously. It is not uncommon though; almost everyone is so serious about the drama of life. So, everyone has assumed that there is no way out of it. But, there is a potential for a change in your attitude towards life which will make you to treat life as the lifelong movie in which we all are just characters. There is also a potential to remove all the unwanted suffering that we have imposed on ourselves by removing the serious identification with the character called ‘you’ and your story.. I went through a journey myself that helped me to realize this potential and make it possible. (You can read more about my journey here: The Journey of a Seeker). I will call that whole process as ‘Awakening Through Mindfulness (ATM)’. If you believe in God, you can use the belief itself as an aid towards changing your attitude. Many people consider themselves as a puppet of the God’s hands. That helps them change the way they react to the situations and stop taking everything personal. But it is just a coping mechanism; No one is actually sitting up there and directing your life. Life and the force of the life itself is a deep and interesting mystery. If you want to call that force God, you can. That is a beautiful personification. Warning! For many people, beliefs have actually been a hindrance in the whole process. There is a way to really experience life as a movie and to be not affected by your self-image. You can completely detach yourself from the identification you have with the self image. .. Changing the attitude is the first step to ending the self created suffering and experience the life impersonally.. Your personality and your ego that projects the personality are just a part of the mask that you, as the character of this movie, are wearing. What hurts the mask doesn’t hurt you anymore, once you start experiencing life this way. Not only your ego and personality, but every thought, emotion, experience and knowledge that you witness in your consciousness is a part of that mask. Remembering this analogy of the mask and contemplating on it can help you to change your attitude to be favorable in the process of awakening. As you proceed with this journey, you will eventually have to drop a lot of your beliefs and directly choose to know what you believed is true or false. Then, either you know or you don’t know. There is no need in believing something. The sense of security that we get from beliefs will not at all be needed anymore once you start experiencing the life devoid of self-created suffering. You don’t need any solace from the beliefs anymore. That life experience which stands apart and independent from your identity is what I call as an ‘awakened life’. What you Call as Self is an Illusion! The next step is just to realize and remember always that there is no self; I am not kidding! It is a scientific fact. What you perceive, think and experience every moment is the result of millions of neurons in your brain communicating with the neighboring neurons through electrochemical signals. This constant perceptual activity gives an illusion that there is a static self. This self which is experienced as being the one who inhabits the body, being the one who is thinking the thoughts, being the one experiencing emotions, being the agent of actions and having free will is an illusion. Also, every person you see is a complex network of forces communicating with each other in cell level, chemical level and atomic level. 2500 years ago, a man called Gautama Buddha revealed the truth of the no-self for the first time. Seeing this in neuroscientific perspective, what you experience as you and your story is just a result of activity happens in a combination of brain structures called Default Mode Network DMN). This network is active when you are mind-wandering,thinking about others, thinking about yourself, remembering the past, and planning for the future. Hyperconnectivity of the default network has been linked to rumination in depression. Studies have shown that meditators and people who claim spiritual awakening have less or almost no activity in DMN. This illusory self is not consistent and static; it is ever changing. But the only thing which is consistent and constant throughout your life is your existence; the conscious, moment to moment experience that you are alive. Three Aspects of the Absolute Reality There are three aspects to what that is consistent: Existence, Consciousness and experiencing. Existence can be defined as whatever that exists in the ultimate, absolute level. You perceive and know that objects exist because of this. It is the sense of being alive.The objects may keep changing but the existence itself is something that is constant. It is not a ‘thing’ though. It is the basis of anything that is subjective. Consciousness is like a light that shines up everything in the existence. It can be compared to the light in a movie screen using which your thoughts, emotions, perceptions and experiences are constantly being played. The movie screen is static all the time. It also exists in sleep, but there is nothing to show. Since consciousness is completely dark and since voluntary functions of the mind are shut off, there is actually nothing much is happening that is worth to be recorded in the brain and stored in long term memory. Experiencing is not about various experiences that you go through every moment. It is the base of all experience, which is naturally peaceful. Peace is always the first and last experience of the lifetime. Even in death, the final moment is peace; a lot of scientists believe that a neurotransmitter called Dimethyltryptamine or DMT released in the brain during the last moment of death which gives peace and bliss. You are so peaceful during the birth too. You can obviously see that in the new born babies. Even throughout the life, you go through a lot of peaceful moments where you are ultimately content, all drives seem to be temporarily satisfied and you experience the ultimate peace and contentment. That peace is not really something that comes and goes. It is the subtle backdrop of all the noisy perceptions happening in the mind and never changes too. It is the base experience of all the experiences. An awakened person may often go through peak experiences (rare, exciting, oceanic, deeply moving, exhilarating, elevating experiences that generate an advanced form of perceiving reality, and are even mystic and magical in their effect upon the experimenter – Abraham Maslow) when they touch the ultimate level of peace. During peak experiences, the boundaries of experiencer, experiencing and the experience dissolve and they all become one. The same happens with the knowledge as well. The knower, knowing and the known become one. Note that, when I say experiencing, I am talking about the ‘experiencing’ aspect of your existence; not about an independent experience. Any experience, including the peak experience com and go. But the ‘experiencing’ part of that which is consistent never changes. It would be better to use a different word than experiencing but I can’t think of anything that comes closer right now. So, whatever that is consistent which has the aspects of existence, consciousness and experiencing can be called with any name you want to use. You can call it XYZ if you want! Some words that have been used in eastern traditions are absolute, Om, brahman, Sat-Chit-Ananda etc… Some call it as your ‘true self’. The problem with all these labels is that you start to see this XYZ as some object, a thing; Something that can be either perceived, experienced or known. But it is actually like the space or the field in which everything is perceived, experienced or known. So, it is very important to not to get too attached to the word. Seeing the illusory self for what it is and completely removing the identification with it lets you to relax yourself in the truth of being alive and conscious. It will eventually let you free from hedonic treadmill and the pursuit of subjective self worth. You will feel liberated from the prison of this illusory self. This will give you a tremendous acceptance of what is; You will see life as a game with its own rules and challenges. But seeing that as just a game which will eventually end, makes you to play it with enjoyment and a great sense of peace. Many practices have been suggested which help you to go through this process of awakening; self-inquiry, contemplation of the truth and so on. The practice that I can suggest for you is the one which worked for me.. It is called Sati in buddhism, Shikantaza in Zen, Shakshi bhav in Upanishads and mindfulness by buddhists as well as modern psychologists. Mindfulness is used not only as a path to awakening, but also in modern therapies as a means to decrease depression and stress, increase well being, control addictions, slow down emotional reactivity etc. What is Mindfulness and How to Practice it? Mindfulness can be defined as focused nonjudgmental attention to experiences of thoughts, emotions, and body sensation in the present moment that is practiced by simply observing them as they arise and pass away. The paper ‘Mindfulness: A Proposed Operational Definition’ which was published by University of Toronto in 2014 suggests a two-component model of mindfulness: 1) Regulation of attention in order to maintain it on the immediate experience 2) Approaching one’s experiences with an orientation of curiosity,openness, and acceptance, regardless of their valence and desirability. When you try to observe your thought process, you may lose your attention many times. Once you notice that the mind has wandered, you just bring it back to the awareness of thought process or body sensations again. No matter how many times the mind wanders away, you must take it easy and accept it. You can do this while doing whatever you are doing, like walking, eating, working out, waiting in a queue etc. Notice the flow of thoughts as if you are watching a stream flowing or traffic moving. Eventually you can extend the time that you practice mindfulness to most of the waking hours of the day. This may take years and years of practice. When practicing mindfulness, don’t approach it as if you are working towards a goal. That would simply mean that you are enhancing the self-concept and strengthening the identification with it .Awakening is not an achievement. It is getting rid of the craving for any achievement that increases your self-worth or enhances your self-concept. Seeing mindfulness as a means for something to be achieved itself is a trap which may slow down the process of awakening. In a couple of months of practice you may start noticing gaps in your thought process.You may also notice reduction in the number of thoughts. Also, a lot of unconscious patterns and repressed thoughts may start to come up and appear in the light of your conscious observation. It is quite normal. Just pay attention to whatever that comes up without reacting to it. But if you do react to it, that’s ok. Just notice that and wait to see what comes up next. As you do it more and more, the gaps will be more frequent and you may even start to wait for the next thought or feeling to arise. In a few months, you will start to feel more peaceful and relaxed. Your emotional regulation would also have improved. While practicing, become aware of the defense mechanisms of the ego whenever you notice them. Notice the repeated thought patterns and your attempts to maintain and protect your self-esteem. Reading the authentic sources of Zen and Advaita can help you a lot in moving through the process. Personally for me, reading the transcribed talks of Osho and J.Krishnamurti were helpful in understanding how mindfulness works and how to go about practicing it. Osho called it ‘witnessing’ and J.Krishnamurti called it as ‘Choiceless awareness’. The names are different but the meaning is exactly the same. Once you have practiced mindfulness for long term for a year or two, you may go through a crisis at times, usually called ‘Spiritual Crisis,’ a form of identity crisis where you experience drastic changes to your meaning system (your unique purposes, goals, values, attitude and beliefs, identity, and focus). It may cause a lot of disturbance, but don’t be alarmed. It happens to everyone but it will pass. The fruits of mindfulness always outweighs the disturbances caused by spiritual crisis. Benefits of Mindfulness I came across an interesting paper ‘How Does Mindfulness Meditation Work? Proposing Mechanisms of Action From a Conceptual and Neural Perspective’ published in 2011 by Association For Psychological Science. It lists 5 major benefits of mindfulness and also lists the details of studies which support them. Here are those five benefits: Attention regulation Body awareness Emotion regulation, including a. Reappraisal b. Exposure, extinction, and reconsolidation Change in perspective on the self. The fourth one, ‘Change in perspective on the self’ is very important, which explains in detail about a lot of what we discussed about ‘Self’ in this post. You can search for this paper in ‘Academia’ and download it for free. There have been many other studies done on mindfulness which show that mindfulness decreases suffering and increases subjective well being. Buddha prescribed mindfulness as the path to spiritual enlightenment. Whether you are looking for spiritual enlightenment or just improved well being, there is no doubt that mindfulness is the way to go. Also published in my blog:
  4. Hello everyone...Here is the story of my spritual journey: post starts from how I viewed life in my early childhood, clouded by the irratational beleifs that I had.. Then I explain how my spiritual search started. I have written about evey significant event that happened along my spritual journey. I have talked about the spiritual awakening that I had in 2014 and what followed after. At last, I have also put the concept of spiritual enlightenment in a scientific perspective and tried to explain it using the terminology of academic psychology. It is a very long post. But since it goes like a story, I believe it will be easier for you to read. I am looking forward to your comments and questions...
  5. Martial Arts as Meditation

    I started lurking on the Tao Bums about 10 years ago (Wow, time flies!) and this is something that would have been helpful to me at that time. Hope this will answer questions for those just starting out on this journey.
  6. hey! in the upcoming days, i have defense for my research in front of committee of Jury and i was wondering how to handle not saying something wrong, or look weak, not confident, knowing that i m generally a shy person... The thing is, in my old presentation in class and such... while I'm in focus and presenting, suddenly my mind becomes empty and i forget what i was about to say, or thoughts of nonsense strike in disturbing my focus. some of these thoughts are like " probably they think I'm not that good in my presentation or they are thinking that i m not doing well in my presentation... I do have fear that the presentation is what affects the grade, knowing that my supervisor ensured me that i have a great research and would get a good grade. but no matter what, stress and worry is striking me. Any suggestions? meditation, qigong,...? I m trying to rehearse as much as possible my presentation. I asked confident presenter and they told me not to rehearse a lot or will get me lost during the presentation. what is your secret confident speakers???
  7. Many times, I've been told when thoughts that makes me feel sad or have a an emotion that is not desirable and such that i should be in the now and not dwell on the past or what is going to happen. It is true that not thinking or just thinking about what is in the now.. makes me feel better and relax and such... but i see it as a kind of escapism of the thoughts that makes me feel is like not dealing with them and with what they are trying to point to.. and running into the now where they don't exist. No matter how a person stays in the now and train his mind to be in the present moment, there are triggers that is going to appear in the now that will awaken back the thoughts he tried to escape from by altering his focusing in the now. these thoughts will always stay there waiting for you to get triggered or lose your focus back into them to. these thoughts are there for a reason, and demand your attention to be healed and transformed. they are the result of the past and exist in the now, but need to be triggered and if not healed, they will be in your future. what do you think, is it an escapism? and how to actually deal with these thoughts without escaping them? Thank you
  8. We may long for wholeness, suggests Jon Kabat-Zinn, but the truth is that it is already here and already ours. The practice of mindfulness holds the possibility of not just a fleeting sense of contentment, but a true embracing of a deeper unity that envelops and permeates our lives. With Mindfulness for Beginners you are invited to learn how to transform your relationship to the way you think, feel, love, work, and play—and thereby awaken to and embody more completely who you really are. Here, the teacher, scientist, and clinician who first demonstrated the benefits of mindfulness within mainstream Western medicine offers a book that you can use in three unique ways: as a collection of reflections and practices to be opened and explored at random; as an illuminating and engaging start-to-finish read; or as an unfolding “lesson- a-day” primer on mindfulness practice. Beginning and advanced meditators alike will discover in these pages a valuable distillation of the key attitudes and essential practices that Jon Kabat-Zinn has found most useful with his students, including: Why heartfulness is synonymous with true mindfulness The value of coming back to our bodies and to our senses over and over again How our thoughts “self-liberate” when touched by awareness Moving beyond our “story” into direct experience Stabilizing our attention and presence amidst daily activities The three poisons that cause suffering—and their antidotes How mindfulness heals, even after the fact Reclaiming our wholeness, and more The prescription for living a more mindful life seems simple enough: return your awareness again and again to whatever is going on. But if you’ve tried it, you know that here is where all the questions and challenges really begin. Mindfulness for Beginners provides welcome answers, insights, and instruction to help us make that shift, moment by moment, into a more spacious, clear, reliable, and loving connection with ourselves and the world. Includes a complete CD with five guided mindfulness meditations by Jon Kabat-Zinn, selected from the audio program that inspired this book. Source
  9. If you were scheduling a retreat, how would you lay it out on a timeline and what would you put in the slots?
  10. A great deal of our growth in the arena of expanding our awareness and on the path of enlightenment has more to do with the simple basics and far less to do with the so called "advanced" practices. Advanced practice is reached primarily from basic practice. Basic practice becomes advanced all on its own. As you progress on the path, the simple teachings are in fact by a very long shot the most important and the easiest to skip over - pushing them aside in a race to "master" the basics. It can also be hard to think straight in your teens and early 20s with what for some of us is a raging hormone storm and this may create the feeling of the urgency to "master" the basics aside from the intense desire to do so. Included in the basics are meditation, some breathing techniques, and some posture basics. Often wholly brushed aside is diet - or as is freqently the case - it is an egotistical way of life diet of only organic items and a very full identification with this diet (certainly nothing wrong with the diet - it is a very good diet - but the identification is often so enuciated it should be obviously an area to work on). Also brushed aside in general is the Ego - we see this all across these boards - statements of surety that is so obviously way beyond actual experience, the over use of quotes as though this redeems a lack of thinking or real experience. Almost no desire to consider what Right Thinking actually might mean - little discussion of it if any - an assumed understanding - ["my" understanding] Right view Right intention Ethical conduct Right action Right effort Right mindfulness Right concentration Take right effort: About 99% of the effort is done towards Gain The gaining of advanced practice skills, and the effort to maintain a good practice in order to continue "up" along the path. We indulge in poor food, alcohol, smoking and a limitless supply of energy reducing behaviours and think nothing of it. Even if we eat well, do not smoke and our drinking is none or well within a composed fashion, we attach ourselves to every cause under the sun and compress huge amounts of judgement into them and cast our will about the universe with abandon - often ready to pounce upon any protrusion from our indefatigable indignation. We practice this daily! It is our story and our biggest practice! It is primarily how we die - and how most of us are completely dead by the age of 45 - deadend to our story - our treasured illusion. We come out of it briefly in our old age when it hits us that we have been way off and need to purcase some insurance. Or we do not come out of it - and our after death is quite a delay for us. Another thing we skip over - though this practice is now coming to light - is the mindfulness to those energies we have come to know: If you have come to feel a particular chakra or energy center - try to stay aware of it at all times. This is a primary way to Awaken Say you feel the warmth of your 4th chakra in meditation and everytime you put your awareness on it you can feel it - then put your attention on it and be with it during the day. Slowly but surely it will be present more and more - and with it will come an increase in other awarenesses as well. Soon you will be more in this space than not - perhaps all the time. Practice not venting your energies on your story - stay with your being - notice when you leave your awareness space - you will find it leaves you often during the "you" that you believe you know best (the one you identify with). Many of the most "advanced" practices become your story - your new story - you are identified with your prowess of stretching, your ability to do some esoteric practice - and your ability to use the word esoteric as though you know what it means to be inside the innermost 3rd circle. If you ignore the basics - the balancing basics, then learning the "higher" forms present much more danger than they afford apportunity and growth. Another form of over engineering comes from fear - but this is a long enough beginning for now. Please join this discussion!