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Showing posts from October, 2011

So, what does healing look like?

the rootwe start off life with a fully functioning amygdala, ad a non-functioning hippocampus—this means we're capable of experiencing fear, anxiousness, wailing disappointment, traumatic big emotions without any narrative contextualization—the amygdala tags as threatening anything we experience during an emotional stateif we're scared and our parents are too busy paying bills, working, dealing with their own lives, we experience 'people not paying attention to us' with vulnerability and fear—again, we have no hippocampus in crucial, formative years, to bring a sense of background perspective into why our felt needs aren't being met—regardless of how attentive or inattentive our families really were, the mind can build up these associations (of not being emotionally mirrored when we need it) into entire complexes of traumatic feelings, such as being abandoned, rejected, unconnected, unprotected, unloved.being abandoned is the most threatening vulnerable experience …

david foster wallace & the ending of obsessive thought

[quotes at first are from David Foster Wallace's Kenyon commencement speech. He starts out by telling the story of fish that don't know what water is...]DFW: "everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe; the realest, most vivid and important person in existence. We rarely think about this sort of natural, basic self-centerdness because it's so socially repulsive. But it's pretty much the same for all of us. It is our default setting, hard-wired into our boards at birth. "Think about it: there is no experience you have had that you are not the absolute centre of. The world as you experience it is there in front of YOU or behind YOU, to the left or right of YOU, on YOUR TV or YOUR monitor. "…[DFW goes on to say that the work is] getting free of my natural, hard-wired default setting which is to be deeply and literally self-centered [where everything is interpreted] through this lens of sel…

grasping and resisting

the mind's circuit board is hardwired to feel insecure, unprotected
so we look around for things to make us feel secure—feeding off the world, upadana
clinging onto the pleasant sensations, phenomena for security—sensual pleasure, financial gain, approval, productivity, etc.
beating back, fending off the sensations & phenomena —sensual discomfort, financial loss/instability, disapproval, unproductiveness, etc.
as we consume and repel the world, the feelings of security last for a short while, then we are returned once again to the insecurity that is our default wiring—this is what keeps us running around
worse, eventually as we feed off of these things, be it money, or approval, or health, we're setting ourselves up for horrible states in the future, as we eventually lose the ability to find peace elsewhere—the energy, momentum, karma, of clinging and resisting creates —grasping and resisting is stress, it is dukkha
so we all need to practice letting go. this requires a place a…

dealing with a crowd of inner voices

inner community wherever we move into our inner experience a similar cast of characters come out. some of them are wise characters: —desiring peace, virtuous integrity, ease, generosity, effort, awareness, etc—these voices are stable, generally not too loud or repetitive, dramatic, agitated
others aren't as wise in the long term (nivaranas)i want: craving love & approval, status, things that make us feel good, pleasant events, etcdislike and fear: disapproval, loss of status or things, unpleasant events restlessness, busyness: so much too do, can't relax, but it can never pinpoint what the exact most important thing we have to do, just a general we're not getting it doneescapist laziness: its all too much to deal with, i want to check out & feel nothing (not ease or relaxed, more annihilation)mistrust, suspicion: nothing will work to bring me peace, its not for me, no confidence
often we've relied on these voices for security; they're great short term solutio…

putting the punx in dharma punx

what is punk?punk rock as a rejection of self-indulgence in music, specifically long guitar solos, tolkeinesque lyrics, complex interludes set up to display musical chops, 10 minute sludge like, plodding songs of pink floyd, the whispy melodism of pop music.—for every decent act like hawkwind or syd barrett, there were countless dozens of yes, emerson lake & palmer, etc.—trying to make rock palatable to make it more commercial, it sabotaged the beauty of eddie cochran, jerry lee louis, chuck berry, etc.—the core energy & power of the music became diluted. ("lets spend the night together" "mother's little helper" turned to fleetwood mac, chicago, journey.)
punk rock revolted, espousing short songs, bereft of solos and needless show offy musical passages, lyrics about real challenges of inner city life, etc.—a return to the purity of the form—it dared to question the established order; more is better, include everything in the pie less we offend anyone.—an…

letting go

external sources of happiness are unsatisfactory:we try to find lasting security, purpose, self-esteem, from unsatisfactory sourcespleasures (sex, drugs, drink, etc)gain (accumulating money and things)approval (people pleasing, attaching to positive reviews, etc)fame (having lots of friends, prestige in one's field of work, etc)
1) they're unreliable; people don't say what we want them to, money can vanish, etc2) they're conditional; they're not always available3) their rewards are short term and require exponential fulfillment—the hedonic treadmill, "as a person makes more money, expectations and desires rise in tandem, which results in no permanent gain in happiness." —Brickman & Campbell people report about the same level of happiness before and after economic gains and losses, so long as they can meet basic needs.
the more we try to grab at happiness from unsatisfactory sources, the more controlling and self-sabotaging we become—eventually we exper…

dealing with idiots

there's a difference between the stress that comes from the world, and its inconsistencies, and the stress that comes from our craving to change the world so it fits our agenda
the buddha said the way things are: —all phenomena is impermanent—all phenomena is stressful—all phenomena is without lasting identity
but the stress that comes from craving (as taught in the four noble truths & paticca sammupada) arises from our ignorance, and that's something we can do something about—the core of wisdom is seeing what we are responsible for, what we can change—and what we're not responsible for, what we cannot change (not our duty or burden)
This is exemplified in learning how to deal with difficult people:
how to tell if someone is one worthy of respect (sangaha sutta):—Generosity, compassion, beneficial wisdom, consistencyadditional qualities to consider (vassakara sutta):—someone who helps people—someone who thinks skillfully and doesn't worry needlessly—someone who has att…

Working with Depression

its important to see things in the mind in terms of intentional acts (kamma), the results if past intentional acts (vipaka), and events which are mere activity (kiriya) and the obsessive thoughts (papanca) of an agitated mind.—its important to avoid getting tangled up in what the mind is always pointing to in the world, what its representing.
we do this by becoming very observational of what's going on moment by moment: the way we discern what's what is clear from how events arise.
karma always has an intentional element to it, its suffused with goals and agendas that we're aware of; whereas it begins with contact and vedana, gut feelings, almost immediately there's vitakka or purposeful thinking present.
—incoming results of previous mind states, vipaka, arise as vedana, gut reactions to what's occuring.—vipaka starts off as Sukha-vedana (feeling good about what's occuring and wanting more); Dukkha-vedana (stress & gut discomfort with what's occuring, wa…

what does right livelihood mean?

which jobs to reflect onovertly, the lists five professions that are to be avoided—trading in poison, weapons, human beings as slaves, trading meats, intoxicants. —if we do work as bartenders, or waiters in steakhouses, we start by being aware of what effect our work has on our mind.
The buddha was not a proseltyzer and didn’t set out on a crusade against specific professions. Only if he was pushed would he condemn a particular occupation. —when a soldier came to the buddha 3 times refused to answer when pressed if his occupation was unskillful. eventually the buddha replied: "if, while, in the midst of battle, the desire for the killing or causing harm to other beings arises, that mind state will take you to future realms of suffering. —note PTSD
from the precepts, the buddha's teachings ask us reflect on whether or not our livelihood:1) harm other beings? 2) does it steal from other beings?3) Does it involve lying? 4) Does it involve unskillful mental states such as promotin…

what does staying heedful mean?

the buddha's last words, he didn't talk about not self, emptiness, dependent co-arising:achieve completion through heedfulness (appamada)vigilance in protecting the mind against detrimental mental states
—The greatest danger is the mind's creative capacity for self-deception through rationalization of its obsessions
heedfulness (appamada)is based on an awareness of kamma:—just as our selfish, craving born actions lead to long term kiriya and dukkha vipaka—our skillful, selfless actions also have long peaceful ramifications for the mind
heedfulness is the wisdom that sees we don't have much time and we want to accumulate as much merit as we canits not possible to find inner peace if we're constantly engaged in dramas & attachments—dramas keep us ignorant of the peace & security available in the present, as it diverts our attention away to concerns that are not present based.—we don't want to wait until greed or aversion are big trees in the mind—opportuniti…

judicious versus judgmental

actions are helpful in relieving stress and which one's create more suffering.
the importance of surrounding ourselves with wise practitioners
how do we judge people to discern who is worthy of our time, and who isn't?—comparing ourselves with others is always a form of conceit; the only time a conceit is useful is to spur us on in the practice.—many comparisons are completely speculative based on guessing at what other people are experiencing inside (speculative) or lead to discouragement—if our comparisons rest on objectifications, turning ourselves or others into static, static characteristics, it'll often cause unskillfulness—it may be worth seeing that someone could use our help, or that someone is better at something than us and could help us learn
sometimes things start as skillful, early in the practice, then become less skillful later on.—self can be useful early in the practice, but then after awhile we don't need it to spur us on—skillful thinking is useful in …

notes for a talk about relationships

how do i meet the right person?someone who loves, understands, accepts, supports us & shares my life?The question is, why aren't we providing these things for ourself? In order to be understood, supported, accepted, we have to give all those things to ourselves. All the acceptance in the world is empty when we don't truly have acceptance for all of our experience.We have to arrive in relationships from a place of wholeness, rather than being needy, lonely, desperate. Neediness is utterly unattractive.self-confidence and inner peace is very very attractive to others.When we can give ourselves what we need, we have no need to control our partners.Why do we need there to be a single person who knows everything?Why can't we give that to ourselves?
THE TESTclose eyes and ask ourselves what we most want from a new relationship or present one. whatever it is we're searching for is what we haven't developed yet:if we want support, its because we haven't rewarded our…

its all in the reaction

its important to see things in the mind in terms of intentional acts (kamma), the results if past intentional acts (vipaka), and events which are mere activity (kiriya) and the obsessive thoughts (papanca) of an agitated mind.—its important to avoid getting tangled up in what the mind is always pointing to in the world, what its representing.
we do this by becoming very observational of what's going on moment by moment: the way we discern what's what is clear from how events arise.
karma always has an intentional element to it, its suffused with goals and agendas that we're aware of; whereas it begins with contact and vedana, gut feelings, almost immediately there's vitakka or purposeful thinking present.
—incoming results of previous mind states, vipaka, arise as vedana, gut reactions to what's occuring.—vipaka starts off as Sukha-vedana (feeling good about what's occuring and wanting more); Dukkha-vedana (stress & gut discomfort with what's occuring, wa…

seven factors of awakening

there are times when the mind is calm and tranquil, and there are times when the mind is anxious and jumpy. drugs can have two possible overall effects: to chill or to thrillin spiritual practice the tools are aimed for developing calm and the for developing insight, clarity, wisdom—to develop calm, we use one set of tools—to develop wisdom, we use another set of tools—we start out in our spiritual journey with a few tools (calming the breath, metta); as we develop our practice, we pick up a variety of tools
when we fall asleep there's tranquility but no clarity, no insight, —its understandable, as most people live agitated lifestyles where we find it difficult to find times of peace; when we stop, we really switch off—when we go to dullness and sleepiness, we need to develop qualities of investigation, perseverance, joy,
if when we sit to meditate we carry on the agitated momentum and the mind is jumping about, unable to concentrate peacefully, we need to develop spiritual qualiti…

the alienation effect

rats that have been subjected to stress fall back into addictive behavior (Nicholas Goeders, Neuroscientist at LSU), the less stress changes food intake (mart, barcelona), or preferably cocaine—people who are subject to stress fall back into habit driven behavior—whether or not the actions help, we fall back on what's neurally hardwired—often its a behavior that makes the stress go away for a short period, but doesn't address the underlying cause
this creates a circle of misery in our lives; its called samsara, as it become cyclical—we get stressed out by work, by money, by relationships—we fall into an addictive pattern of relieving tension via food, drink, sex, shopping, television, mindless gossip—the unaddressed, underlying stress, work, remains the same—then we've added a second problem on top: addiction to sensual pleasures
tanha: then on top of that craving is not only addiction to the pleasure itself, its the mind's addiction to thinking and strategizing about ge…

filling your space

stay away from the baitsin meditation we're deliberately focusing the mind, training it, avoiding the bias that snag our attention and pulls us away from present awareness—the smaller the area of our awareness, the more compelling the bait—for example, a fish swimming in a fish bowl would be less successful avoiding bait that a fish swimming in a large lake—likewise the wider we make the mind, the less alluring and visible are the baits
imponderables1) pondering the imponderable. what do other people think about me?2) what will happen to me in the future?3) what really happened to me in the past?4) what is going on between people when i'm not there?5) what will be the outcomes of dramas at work or with other people
8 worldly winds we attach to for happiness—attaching to sensual pleasures we become distraught when they stop working for us; —the same for money, fame, approval from others. the world shifts gear and blows us the other way, or we become acclimatized to the money and …

some strategies for working with "character defects"

basic coping strategies:1) avoidance; 2) defensiveness (rationalization); 3) aggression; 4) external hypervigilance; 5) dishonesty
these strategies are1) short term solutions only, leading to long term insecurity & hypervigilance2) reactive as opposed to responsive; train us to talk before weighing options3) ignorant of the subjectivity of "facts" as we experience them, not hearing the feelings of others4) hinderances to long term strategies in properly maintaining long term meaningful friendships
mindfulness is not limited to their interior existence—The Buddha taught we should practice mindfulness in all things—we need to develop a detachment during communication that allows for internal awareness—bring skills we learn in bhavana into our interactions
1) sati. a complete commitment to the present—drop our stories, our past, our agendas, bring the mind to the present—thinking is not always preparation, sometimes it can cause more stress—dropping our inner warnings doesn…