Tripping over Joy

What is the difference
Between your experience of Existence
And that of a saint?

The saint knows
That the spiritual path
Is a sublime chess game with God

And that the Beloved
Has just made such a Fantastic Move

that the saint is now continually
Tripping over Joy
And bursting out in Laughter
And saying, “I Surrender!”

Whereas, my dear,
I’m afraid you still think

You have a thousand serious moves.

-Hafiz

Advertisements

A Great East-West Teaching Embraced by Teachers of Multiple Faiths

Genpo Roshi began developing the Big Mind process in 1999, after having taught traditional Zen meditation and koan study for more than twenty years as a senior student, then Dharma successor of Taizan Maezumi Roshi, and as a Zen Master in both Soto and Rinzai lineages. The process is intended to allow anyone —including non-Buddhists—to experience the enlightenment of the Buddha. The process is designed as a combination of Eastern meditation and Western psychological techniques to transmit the essence of Zen teachings in a way that is readily accessible and relevant to Westerners, a realization they can further deepen through meditation. The Big Mindprocess enables participants to get in touch with various aspects of themselves by inviting them to identify as and speak from these aspects or states of mind. He walks them through interactions with different aspects of their mind, including ordinary, finite ones such as the Protector, the Skeptic and Desiring Mind; and less familiar, transcendent ones such as the Non-Seeking Non-Grasping Mind, the Way, and Big Mind and Big Heart.

Zen teachers and masters, including such representatives of the tradition as Bishop Gengo Akiba, Abbot of the headquarters of the Soto Zen school in North America, have embraced Big Mind as a profound blending of the heritage of Zen with western culture which is pointing the way to the future of Zen, not only in the West, but in the world. Among leading representatives of Western spiritual traditions, Father Thomas Keating has written of his “great admiration of the creativity and originality” of Genpo Roshi’s work, predicting that “it will make a significant contribution to the East West dialogue and the needs of the growing populations of those seekers who are attracted to move beyond seeking.” And Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi has written, “The masters of Jewish mysticism guided advanced seekers to the levels of Great Mind and Extended Heart. In our day Genpo Roshi, aka Reb Merzel, offers the trans-denominational seeker a contemporary gate to the highest awareness.” In the foreword to Merzel’s book Big Mind, Big Heart, author and integral theorist Ken Wilber wrote about the merits of the Big Mind process: “The Big Mind process founded by Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel is arguably the most important and original discovery in the last two centuries of Buddhism. It is an astonishingly original, profound, and effective path for waking up, or seeing one’s True Nature. . . . It will show you that part of your own awareness, which is already enlightened, already one with Spirit, already fully awakened. Once you spot that, an entirely different world opens for you.” Wilber ends the foreword by expressing deep thanks to Dennis Genpo Merzel for discovering this simple and innovative process.

Find more videos on Big Mind Network

Logos Made Flesh: Jesus and Vedanta

Platonic Forms

“The concept of the avatar evolved from the theory of Logos in both Western and Eastern philosophy. In the west, the theory of Logos was first developed by the Greeks to bridge the gulf that separates God from man, the known from the unknown. Plato projected Logos as the supreme Good, under which all lesser ideas, i.e. archetypes of things, relations, qualities and values are subsumed. Later, the Stoics denied the validity of Plato’s supersensual archetypes. They perceived the principle of reason to be immanent and active in the universe. Philo, and Alexandrian Jew and contemporary of Jesus, combined Stoic reason with Plato’s transcendentalism, and added them to Hebraism. He declared that Logos was not only immanent in the universe but was transcendent as well, one with God. The author of the Fourth Gospel then used Philo’s Logos theory as the basis for his interpretation of the life of Christ, but gave it new vision…He stressed that the conception of Logos as word rather than reason, interpreting it as an expression of the divine will, an outpouring of God’s goodness, power, light, and love. To quote St. John:

‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.’

The Logos, the “only begotten of the Father’ was ‘made flesh’ in Jesus Christ.

In the Vedas we find passages almost identical with the opening sequence of the Gospel of John: ‘In the beginning was the Lord of Creatures, second to him was the Word.’ ‘The word was verily Brahman.’ According to the Hindus, Brahman was conditioned by Maya, his creative power, is first manifested as the eternal undifferentiated Word, our of which the concrete sensible world then evolves. To the Hindus, therefore, the Word is incarnated through all beings, each of whom may directly realize God through he divine power of the Word. But like St. John, Hindus believe that in a special sense the Logos made flesh in the avatar-the avatar being the descent of God, whereas the ordinary man ascends toward God.”

Excerpt from ” The Sermon on the Mount According to Vedanta”  by Swami Prabhavananda, Vedanta Press 1946.

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

A Mindful Approach to Depression

“What characterizes despair is just this — that it is ignorant of being despair.” -Kierkegaard

Depression has woven its way in and out of my experience for years. My own struggles and those of family, friends, clients, and my professional studies have led me to make an important distinction when dealing with depression. One can be free from depression without being free from sadness and the beautiful and complex depth of human pain. Sadness can be restorative, lead to creative expression, new ways of thinking and new depths of compassion. Jung knew that by avoiding negative emotions, we repress our shadow self. The shadow will inevitably emerge in patterns of unconscious behavior and compulsion. We can embrace our shadow and the depth of our own pain without spiraling into depression.

Depression is triggered by identification with negative thoughts; the self feels completely immersed and unable to find perspective. The depression feels eternal, the sufferer cannot fathom a state outside of it. When looking into the past or future at happy state, one distrusts it, thinking that the depressed state always lies hidden beneath and is the true state of things. To release this state, we must approach ourselves with absolute kindness. When we respond to our own depression with derision, guilt, or criticism, we only add fuel to the negative cycle of thoughts. The first step is to approach the fact that we are depressed with acceptance and compassion. Paradoxically, only through acceptance of the present are we able to move into a new state of being. Your depressed mind will reject compassion, it will reject your desire to be mindful of it. Be mindful of the rejection. It does not matter what you start to think or feel, let it out, acknowledge it, accept it. If you start to think, “I cannot accept this,” accept your non-acceptance.

As you begin to develop non-judgmental, kind awareness of your depressed state, you will slowly begin to move outside of your identification with it. You will probably be amazed at the subtle judgments that you are constantly making of yourself and of your own condition. The unceasing critic does not want to be recognized,  it wants to distract you from your real emotions. As you become aware of your critic, you might become angry at it for keeping you in the negative spiral. Yet, remember to have kindness even for the critic, it is serving its purpose, only acting out of pain and ignorance. If we start judging the judge, the cycle will just repeat. The more we approach ourselves with compassion, the more we can become liberated from any one state of being. Rather than being trapped in depression, we can experience sadness fully and deeply and appreciate its transformative power and ability to unite us with others in compassion. Sadness is not an evil, without the ability to feel pain we would not be human. Sadness, like any state of being, is temporary and part of life’s eternal ebb and flow.

MEDITATION ON AFFLICTION

Assailed by afflictions, we discover Dharma
And find the way to liberation. Thank you, evil forces!

When sorrows invade the mind, we discover Dharma
And find lasting happiness. Thank you, sorrows!

Through harm caused by spirits we discover Dharma
And find fearlessness. Thank you, ghosts and demons!

Through people’s hate we discover Dharma
And find benefits and happiness. Thank you, those who hate us!

Through cruel adversity, we discover Dharma
And find the unchanging way. Thank you, adversity!

Through being impelled to by others, we discover Dharma
And find the essential meaning. Thank you, all who drive us on!

We dedicate our merit to you all, to repay your kindness.

Gyalwa Longchenpa

-Link to a good Breathing Meditation

Warriors: A call for the healing of veterans with PTSD

National statistics show that about one-third of the adult homeless population are veterans. About 56 percent of all homeless veterans are African American or Hispanic, despite only accounting for 12.8 percent and 15.4 percent of the U.S. population respectively. Almost 23% of returning veterans suffer from some form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

Yet, how many bumper stickers have we seen saying we “Support our Troops”? Something is deeply contradictory and disturbing about the plight of the veteran in modern US society.

Dr. Edward Tick, author of the groundbreaking book “War and the Soul” and founder of Soldier’s Heart, writes about how healing cannot happen in the individual soldier alone, it must come from the community honoring and having a place for the warrior. To be a warrior has spiritual meaning and should be highly valued in a society with a balanced relationship to war.

WHAT IS A WARRIOR? Excerpt from WAR AND THE SOUL By Edward Tick

“A Warrior is not just one who has been to war and returned. Warrior has been recognized as a basic ideal, pattern of thinking and behaving, and social role that has occurred since the beginning of time. Becoming a warrior is an achievement of character. A veteran with post-traumatic stress disorder can use the ideal of warriorhood as a guide and goal for healing and growth.
What are the characteristics of the warrior? The ideal warrior is assertive, active and energized. He or she is clear-minded, strategic, and alert. A warrior uses both body and mind in harmony and cooperation. A warrior is disciplined. A warrior assesses both his own resources and skills and those arrayed against him. A warrior is a servant of civilization and its future, guiding, protecting, and passing on information and wisdom. A warrior is devoted to causes he judges to be more important and greater than himself or any personal relationships or gain. Having confronted death, a warrior knows how precious and fragile life is and does not abuse or profane it.
A warrior knows what he is fighting to preserve. Like a bull buffalo flanking his herd to protect it from predators, a warrior knows he is essential to his people’s survival. He knows he belongs. He receives honor and blessing from his community for the service he willingly provides, and he in turn blesses his community with his devotion and willingness to sacrifice his life, if necessary, for its well-being.

Moreover, warriorhood must be directed toward transcendent goals. It must be based upon universal principles and connected to divine and honorable powers and purposes.

Warriors are meant to play major roles in the lives of their communities, providing help in times of need and restraining rather than encouraging violence. They need guidance from others who have been through similar experiences, and they need to pass their values, wisdom, and experiences on to younger initiates. Ideally, during all phases of service, warriors interact with their people rather than remain separate from them.

A society cannot be healthy without its warriors. And societies with a class of mature warriors to remind the leadership and people of the realities of war are healthier, stronger, and less prone to violence.
We need warriors. The call to veterans, and a way to heal post-traumatic stress disorder, is to follow the path of the honorable returned warrior.”

And, excerpted from Edward Tick’s “Heal the Warrior, Heal the Country”

“Our veterans cannot heal unless society accepts responsibility for its war making. To the veteran, our leaders and people must say, “You did this in our name, because you were subject to our orders, and because we put you in untenable and even atrocity-producing situations. We lift the burden of your actions from you and take it onto our shoulders. We are responsible for you, for what you did, and for the consequences.”

Without this transfer of responsibility, the veteran carries war’s secret grief and guilt for us all. Too many veterans collapse into a silent suffering disability and thus serve as our broken scapegoats while the rest of us proceed with “business as usual.””

Information and Resources:

National Coalition of Homeless Veterans

Soldier’s Heart: A Veteran’s Healing Project

National Center for PTSD

Iraq War Veterans Organization

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

South Park Creators Animate Alan Watts

These are some great shorts by South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone that are set to Alan Watts‘ recordings. Enjoy!

Nothing

Man searches for what’s not there
to practice his craft.
A builder looks for the rotten hole
where the roof caved in. A water-carrier
picks the empty pot. A carpenter
stops at the house with no door.

Workers rush toward some hint
of emptiness, which they then
start to fill. Their hope, though,
is for emptiness, so don’t think
you must avoid it. It contains
what you need!

Dear soul, if you were not friends
with the vast nothing inside,
why would you always be casting your net
into it, and waiting so patiently?

This invisible ocean has given you such abundance,
but still you call it “death”,
that which provides you sustenance and work.

God has allowed some magical reversal to occur,
so that you see the scorpion pit
as an object of desire,
and all the beautiful expanse around it,
as dangerous and swarming with snakes.

-Rumi

Wrathful Guardians: Iconography of Tibetan Buddhism

A magical walk in Sikkim

Traveling to Sikkim in India, I came across loads of images of fiery demons in intricate and colorful paintings and mandalas. We spent our days in Sikkim walking many miles on narrow roads in the ethereal Himalayan mist to visit the various monasteries, where this art form was at its spectacular peak.

There are many ‘wrathful deities’, some of which are called ‘dharmapalas’ which is Sanskrit for “defender of the dharma.”  They may be off-putting at first glace, especially to the Western eyeball. Worship of the dharmapalas began in the 8th century when the holy Padmasambhava is believed to have conquered the demons in Tibet and forced them to protect Buddhists and path of Buddhism from that point on. The demons were transformed, and became agents of the divine. They represent the kind of fierceness we should have against obstacles of the spiritual path. We are meant to be warriors, the protectors of our own path, defending against the inner and outer enemies.

A key group of wrathful deities are the eight dharampalas of Vajrayana (the diamond thunderbolt vehicle) Buddhism:

  • Yama, the God of Death;
  • Mahakala, the Great Black One;
  • Yamantaka, the Conqueror of Death;
  • Kubera or Vaisravana, the God of Wealth;
  • Hayagriva, the Horse-necked one;
  • Palden Lhamo, The Goddess;
  • Tshangs Pa or ‘White Brahma’;
  • Begtse, the God of War.

For more pictures and descriptions of myths surrounding each ‘wrathful deity,’ click here.

A great exhibit on the Tibetan Book of the Dead from University of Virginia.

Full text of Tibetan Book of the Dead online

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

Tagore-Writer, Philosopher, Musician, Mystic

Maya

That I should make much of myself and turn it on all sides, thus casting colored shadows on thy radiance —such is thy Maya.

Thou settest a barrier in thine own being
and then callest thy severed self in myriad notes.
This thy self-separation has taken body in me.

The poignant song is echoed through all the sky in many-coloued tears
and smiles, alarms and hopes; waves rise up and sink again,
dreams break and form.
In me is thy own defeat of self.

This screen that thou hast raised is painted with innumerable figures
with the brush of the night and the day.
Behind it thy seat is woven in wondrous mysteries of curves,
casting away all barren lines of straightness.

The great pageant of thee and me has overspread the sky.
With the tune of thee and me all the air is vibrant,
and all ages pass with the hiding and seeking of thee and me.

Rabindranath Tagore (1861 – 1941, Calcutta, India)

  • Click here for a transcript of a conversation between Einstein and Tagore in 1930


More Tagore Poems

Science and Art

1) Voss-Andreae’s Quantum Physics-Inspired Art: “What I want is to increase the audience’s capacity to intuit the deeper nature of reality by sensually experiencing the works.”

Symmetry Breaking, a Fermilab blog, describes how Voss Andreae “infuses the classical representations of quantum objects with some philosophical interpretation….His piece “Night Path,” interprets Richard Feynman’s technique to measure all possible paths that a particle could take by “slicing up” segments of space-time and creating all possible paths. The result is a stunning work of art in which a divided up black box holds taut gold threat that collectively trace a curved path. Voss-Andreae says the path “connects the idea of the quantum mechanical path to the image of a meteor, a rock falling through the dark of the night, often believed to be connected to a meaningful event.”

2) Caleb Charland: Scientific Curiosity as an Art

3) SEED Magazine has a great article “The Future of Science is….Art.” Here are some excerpts but I would definitely suggest reading the entire article:

“In this sense, the arts are an incredibly rich data set, providing science with a glimpse into its blind spots…the surreal nature of physics is precisely why it needs the help of artists. The science has progressed beyond our ability to understand it, at least in any literal sense. As Richard Feynman put it, “Our imagination is stretched to the utmost, not, as in fiction, to imagine things which are not really there, but just to comprehend those things which are there.” It’s a brute fact of psychology that the human mind cannot comprehend the double-digit dimensions of string theory, or the possibility of parallel universes. Our mind evolved in a simplified world, where matter is certain, time flows forward and there are only three dimensions. When we venture beyond these innate intuitions, we are forced to resort to metaphor. This is the irony of modern physics: It seeks reality in its most fundamental form, and yet we are utterly incapable of comprehending these fundaments beyond the math we use to represent them. The only way to know the universe is through analogy.

As a result, the history of physics is littered with metaphorical leaps. Einstein grasped relativity while thinking about moving trains. Arthur Eddington compared the expansion of the universe to an inflated balloon. James Clerk Maxwell thought of magnetic fields as little whirlpools in space, which he called vortices. The Big Bang was just a cosmic firecracker. Schrödinger’s cat, trapped in a cosmic purgatory, helped illustrate the paradoxes of quantum mechanics. It’s hard to imagine string theory without its garden hose.”

4) “What is Art?” Excerpts, by Leo Tolstoy

Add to: Facebook | Digg | Del.icio.us | Stumbleupon | Reddit | Blinklist | Twitter | Technorati | Yahoo Buzz | Newsvine

« Older entries