silence is the medium

Ruth Whippman’s short article (on page 22 of the August 8th issue of Time Magazine) on “Women’s empowerment” was eye-opening. In her write up, Time mentions she has a book coming out October 4th entitled How Our Pursuit of Happiness Is Creating a Nation of Nervous Wrecks.

I know a little about the subject of pursuing happiness. She is right. It’s the pursuit that’s the culprit.

Here’s the deal, most psychology professionals will agree that when we pursue something we have to have, the pursued tends to be harder to catch. So, to obtain it, somehow we must get to the point where it doesn’t matter whether we have it or not.

This is the point where many professionals may part company. The ancients say a deep-down satisfaction cannot be found, it finds you. So here’s where the “somehow” comes in. How can this happen? The ancients say satisfaction is residing inside of us, and when we do helpful things for ourselves and others, happiness or satisfaction will happen. What could happen to influence us to be more helpful?

The ancients say the top most respectable thing we can do is to honor and be truly grateful for our own human animal.

They say our happiness is not out in the world around us; it’s in our animal, and we can commune with it and do it on a regular basis as you would commune with a loved one.

Silence is the medium.

Our animal is our all. Our appreciation of our being’s skills, talent and awareness is key.

Our animal keeps us safe in a pattern in its brain. [I don’t know if the ancients would agree with that statement.] And long ago, our animals put you an me in charge of their care about the time we learned to respond to our names.

So, how does this communing work? We use the animal’s awareness. Classical meditation (using a mantra and correct posture) helps at this point and allows us to drop our language habit for longer and longer periods and in different circumstances.

When there are no thoughts, you and I do not exist and our animal responds to this recognition of its total underpinning of our existence. Awareness or sleep happens. We need to practice being in the moment until we no longer need to practice it.

When we are in regular touch with our animal, our being, it can give us a continuous deep satisfaction even when we experience sad or hurtful situations. Happiness is something else and happens in a wide spectrum from joy at an enemy’s death to giving birth to a normal and healthy baby.

Deep satisfaction happens and is available if we don’t have to have it.

Meditation without expectation.

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feeling sorry

If an agnostic has the quality of not having to be right, do we automatically know what an atheist feels when he or she claims the belief that there is no God? Would that feeling be the same feeling the religious fundamentalists love to feel? The rightness of it all, with the “all” hidden in a cloud of faith and words.

It’s wonderful to know and feel one is right. But what makes it wonderful? Traditional religions are zero-sum games, so everyone not believing as one should believe gets the ax.

The members of each of the thousands of religions are feeling sorry for rest of the world because even the very good and faithful folks of all the other religions will not end up in their god’s favor because their god has not been acknowledged.

And yet a deep natural freedom and relaxation can be found by living life not having to know for sure about some of the most important issues which confront us in life. And the benefits of freedom and relaxation are hidden because as human animals we are unknowingly trapped in a stream of language of our own making. Being trapped allows us to experience becoming free and relaxed. Being trapped by language is the setup to the ultimate spiritual game.

How is the game played? Sometime during a person’s life he or she may begin to ask the questions of Who am I? and Why am I here? When one gets past the answer “You are a child of the only true God and you are here to serve Him”, then one may start looking for better answers, and all of a sudden, folks with answers are everywhere, and normally, they are asking for money. 

Eventually, one might come to the sayings of the great sages of history. They give the same answers but expressed in a different ways. Of the major religions, Buddhist teachings come the closest to reality for me.

There are many factions in Buddhism just as there are many in Christianity. Main-line Buddhism teaches there is no afterlife, or god, and we suffer and are trapped by the strong habit language.

Buddhists use Zen meditation to escape from the language corral and as a centering tool to deal better with suffering and desire.

Only in the sweet silence of the present moment can a human sense the universe as a tree senses it. How is this possible? We are able to feel the universe because our bodies are units of its expression just like trees are.

We identities are in the way, and can be explained away, but what we need most is a daily period of silence.

It’s best to have the practice of sitting down in a comfortable position daily and then with eyes closed paying attention to one’s breath or a mantra for at least 20 to 30 minutes and by calmly coming back each time without blame or regret for not paying attention to every moment.

Getting better at paying attention is part of the trip, and this skill opens up the world to the seeker.

In this game, everyone can win because attempting is the only posture needed, sitting comfortably with silence as the horizon.

For those interested, I recommend the book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Informal talks on Zen meditation and practice by Shunryu Suzuki. It is a small book (138 pages) and is full of practical advice and insights. In it he states “The world is its own magic.”

I learned to meditate using Transcendental Meditation (TM) which the Maharishi Mahesh Yogi made popular in the western world a little over two-thirds of the way through the 20th century. Shunryu Suzuki arrived here in the USA a little before the Maharishi, and their messages are still changing lives.

Their work prompted science to test and then adopt meditation as an important tool. We are fortunate to have had these missionaries from the east.

Suzuki’s book recommends you eventually be able to sit with legs crossed to meditate which takes a bit of dedication.

TM recommends “a straight-back chair with feet flat on the floor.” I have found that a comfortable car seat works well too. (Of course the car stays stationary if you’re in the driver seat.) The traditional Hindu mantra “OM” will work for anyone.

While researching TM in the early 1970s, Dr. Herbert Benson used the word “one” as a mantra instead of a TM mantra and found almost the same results as a similar group of TM students using the TM mantra given to them by their TM instructor. All of the participants of both group’s breathing rates, types of brain waves, and galvanic skin responses were recorded during their meditation and the results were almost the same. For the full story read Dr. Benson’s famous book The Relaxation Response.

It turns out almost any short nonsensical sounds ending with m or n will do the job. These two sounds have ending sounds which vibrate naturally (the mantras can be repeated silently in the mind or sounded out) and the vibration can last several breaths until it fades on its own and then restarted after a period of silence.

There are no rules. It’s what feels best for you that counts. TM recommends two twenty minute periods of meditation each day. A seeker can use meditation to lessen stress, gain a more positive attitude, better sleep, etc.

Today there a various digital meditation aids available which give positive results and work well along with traditional meditation.

It’s best not to be concerned about enlightenment. Then and only then, the sages say, can the mystery: the universe (in the form of your amazing body) come calling.

There are copies of the two books above being sold for bargain prices on Amazon.com and ebay.com. Libraries also may have copies.

All the best,

Marvin

life is a search

If life is a search for purpose and completion (often called “meaning”), what type of life is best? One type is about the desire of making lots of money and is tempting but crowded with sharks of many descriptions where large sums of money can be made and lost by participating.

There are other ways to live where there is one satisfactory completion after another and where there’s love, joy, peace, and gratitude.

Both rich and poor and almost all in-between are in existence’s constant here and now-ness and are constantly thinking, breathing, getting thirsty, working, being hungry, interacting with people, and getting older, yet we don’t know we are missing most of reality, and for humanity, it has been this way for a long-long time.

So, I ask myself, do I have to be rich or famous to live a meaningful life, and I’m thinking…of course not, living a meaningful life is what freedom is about. How do we opt out of the race for fame and/or riches for an normal, everyday life, given the chance?

Maybe by asking “Is there more to life than the race to have fame and more than enough money to survive and retire on”? Why can’t we have our cake and eat it too? Is it up to us?

Here’s the key question. Why wait to become rich or famous in order to relax and savor life? If we wait, relaxing and savoring life may never happen for us. Why do we keep straining?

Knowing we’re already home and set (not having to have the expensive toys of wealth) gives us different options. Plus, taking time to slow down can allow us to see better the speed and direction to go. Relaxation and savoring life has a way of bringing interesting thoughts and trails into our lives.

As we slow down, we are able to notice and appreciate more of what life is full of.

One can be relaxed while building a fortune if one knows a sure way to build a fortune and is willing and able to apply the knowledge without worry or stress by knowing it’s just a matter of time.

What is the need to worry or hurry when we are already content? It’s strange but true…not having to have something makes it easier to obtain.

Can unapplied knowledge come back to haunt us? Yes, it’s called guilt. It’s a psychological instrument we know how to use…by pushing it on others or having to pull it.

Notice guilt for what it is…a reminder. It bothers us or it doesn’t, depending on what it’s about. How strong can guilt be when it’s rightly ignored? Guilt is part of the “would-a” “could-a” “should-a” tradition and has a use or it wouldn’t exist.

forget about happiness

Down through the ages wise folks have said having to have something makes the something harder to procure.

If so, why is this? If you want something, it probably means a lot of other people are wanting it too, so the commodity is harder to come by or will cost more than it should. Is this also true for happiness which comes from inside of us? 

It seems the best way to experience happiness is not to pursue it but to become involved in doing things which are interesting and productive and forget about happiness, and then somehow happiness keeps showing up as a side effect.

So what’s the best strategy for getting a boyfriend or a girlfriend? Is it to become satisfied with not having one?

sitting on the bench

Below
our constant
use of language and

our unease and uncertainties
is an undiscovered
land

of
quiet
and relaxation
fitted with a dwelling place.

It’s new real estate ready for use.
Our lives go on all
around it

and we
don’t miss it
because we are occupied using it.

It’s our awareness
produced
by
our
beings,
our precious animals,
awarenesses without words.

What about being only the animal
while we’re sitting on
the bench?

What
would
that be like?

working it out

Is the
key to life
working it out
so when one wakes after sleep, one
usually has something
interesting
to do?

Can one miss the chance of that
by chasing after riches?
But what about
if one
is good at
reeling in the riches?

Does every day broadcast a
day-of-all-days feeling
and our receivers
are usually

tuned
elsewhere?