Mistakes of a different sort

In my previous post I discussed mistakes in one's personal relations and how we have to get around them and keep on living.  There is another type of mistake which I don't really consider a mistake but an attempt that needs modified.  Each attempt in life is a stepping stone towards success.

We often hear that mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow.  While this is true, I don't think many of us really view our mistakes in this manner and "one liners" are of very little value unless we internalize them and truly believe them.  Spend some time realizing how many "mistakes" Thomas Edison had to make before inventing a light bulb that was useful.  Realize that even a top-notch, professional baseball player fails to get a hit at least 70 percent of the time. Read an autobiography by someone you respect and notice how they too had many regrets.  There really are lessons in our mistakes if we look closely enough. 

The only way to avoid mistakes is to quit trying anything new and continue to do the same tried and true things everyday.  The problem with this approach is that  the world has changed since yesterday and what worked then might not work today.  I also believe that we, as well as all living beings, are designed to constantly evolve and explore ideas and ways of doing things.

There is no sure thing. Everyday is a risk so don't be lulled into thinking otherwise. This doesn't mean that we have to live in fear, instead be eager for a challenge. Just as a jet flying across country must continuously correct it's course, we must do the same. Each day we fine tune our course and direction, learning to listen to the voice within and make our own path. For each mistake, we learn and move on.

Life is what it is, live it.

“Do not fear mistakes.  There are none” ~ Miles Davis

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

p.s  I have a lot of respect for Seth Godin.  Much of his writing contains some very meaningful and helpful wisdom.  Below I have linked to a couple of his articles on mistakes.  I hope you find them useful.

Two Kinds of Mistakes

The Difference Between a Failure and a Mistake

Mistakes Part 1

Looking back, I realize there are a lot of things that I could have done differently, particularly in my relationships with friends and family. There were situations I didn't fully understand. If I'm not careful I can be filled with regret.

There are people that don't like me.  I rub them the wrong way. 

There are people I've hurt that are angry with me. I've made mistakes. 

There are people that don't understand me. They don't know what I've been through.

But I do good work.  I love the best I can.  I almost always do what I think is right and I'm gonna get up tomorrow and do it all again.  I hope you do the same.


Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

P.S.  My friend Courtney's post for today is really nice - Holding on for Dear Life.

on Memorial Day

Mixed emotions
Joy, pride, grief, sorrow
Soldiers die, people live
On Memorial Day

Universal truth
Respect for all or none
Nothing neutral
On Memorial Day

Life expands
My daughter is leading
A young man retreats
On Memorial Day

Beautiful skies
Sun, clouds, rain, & wind
Warm but hollow
On Memorial Day

There is nothing Zen
Is it Summer yet?

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


Enlightenment... what is it? What is it that we seek? Are we that seek it misfits , mal-contents that don't know how to just be? I've never been content with living life as I typically see it  lived - running on a treadmill to nowhere, working for the biggest home or the nicest toys. I've always searched for for the "meat" of life and what it really means.

Buddha said "To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one's family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one's own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him." Is that what we need to learn - to control our minds?

I practice daily - I sit, I focus on life, and I look deeply at my thoughts and almost daily I get lost. Never ending, this search for the elusive. Again today I take the vows of the Bodhisattva:

However innumerable beings are, I vow to meet them with kindness and interest.
However inexhaustible the states of suffering are, I vow to touch them with patience and love.
However immeasurable the Dharmas are, I vow to explore them deeply.
However incomparable the mystery of interbeing, I vow to surrender to it freely.

Translation by Thich Nhat Hanh

“Maybe that’s enlightenment enough: to know that there is no final resting place of the mind; no moment of smug clarity. Perhaps wisdom...is realizing how small I am, and unwise, and how far I have yet to go." ~ Anthony Bourdain

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Rainy Days and Headless Chickens

It's raining and cold.  I chose to live here because I like it warm and dry.  It's Saturday and I'm working while my wife and granddaughter are at the Mike the Headless Chicken Festival ( in the rain.)

The world doesn't know I prefer hot, dry weather.  The organizers of the festival didn't know I'd be scheduled to work.  I could take it personal and have a bad day. 

Time to turn off my self centeredness.  Time to stop resisting things and enjoy the moment.  I've got Pandora tuned to my favorite jazz station.  The Grand Valley is draped in silver clouds. What a nice rainy day.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Mindful Reading

Lately I've read several interesting and helpful books that I thought I'd share with you.

Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself: How to Lose Your Mind and Create a New One by Dr. Joe Dispenza is an interesting read.  He discusses his theories of how our consciousness interacts with the quantum possibilities in the universe to create reality.  He also provides several meditations to improve our awareness of our deeper selves.

Jamie Smart's easy style makes for an enjoyable read in Clarity: Clear Mind, Better Performance, Bigger Results.  Jamie's method is to declutter your mind, get rid of the noise, and listen to your inner voice.

Sharon Salzberg is an icon in the American meditation and Zen movement.  Real Happiness: The Power of Meditation: A 28-Day Program is a nice easy approach to implementing a daily meditation practice.  She includes a link to download several free guided meditations.  My wife and I use them with great results.  Highly recommended.

Don't Get Drunk and Chase Bears

I truly believe in minimalism and simple living, not for it's own sake, but for the sake of happiness. When we complicate things life gets harder.  I also believe that much  of the wisdom we need to be happy and successful in life is very simple.  I firmly believe that if we followed the lessons we were presented as children we'd be fine.  Often the problem isn't knowing what to do, but doing it. 

The problem is that we are human - imperfect beings with fear, emotion, and confusion.  Being mindful and centering ourselves can get us back to where we need to be to practice simple wisdom.

A collection of simple wisdom found on the internet today:

  • Always drink upstream from the herd.

Nothing is cooler than sharing. Spread the word below.

Bigger - Why it Matters

“The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.” 
                                                                                                                                                                                   ~ Carl Sagan

Originally posted 2013

Life is bigger than you, much bigger, and yes it matters.

If you read any Buddhism at all, you will come across the idea of  inter-being, the idea that we are all connected and that there is no separation.  At first (and for quite some time) this can be very hard  to wrap your head around.  For many years I misunderstood it to mean that you and I are one, when so obviously we are two different people.  I've now come to understand inter-being as the idea that we are a part of something much larger than ourselves - much as our hearts and lungs do not exist independently, neither do we.  All of our organs are a part of our bodies, there really is no separation.  At what point does your heart end?  There is no exact point at which your lungs end - they are all connected - your body is a system.  You (and I) are a part of the entirety of all that is.  We may feel that we are separate, but that is illusion.

Living as a self-centered individual leads to fear and doubt.  We build walls, our world closes in, and our heart tightens up like a clenched fist. 

In order to open our world we must realize that everything that we do and experience contributes to the process and evolution of the Universe. Our contributions will continue to reverberate forever.  We cannot separate ourselves from everything else out there.  We are part of "it" and "it" has no end.

Realizing this, selfish or hateful acts no longer make sense.  Being selfish or harmful to other beings when we are a part of the whole is like the heart refusing to pump blood to the lungs or the lungs refusing to supply oxygen to the remainder of the body.  We are all interconnected and part of one great system.

Why is this important?  Because as we come to realize this deep down, then we understand that we need not fear death, we need not be greedy, we need not be selfish.  As we begin to truly see the connectedness of all that is then we see life in a new way and everything changes.  Our fear slowly dissipates and our heart begins to unclench.  Our thinking becomes more clear and the path (life) seems less confusing

It's not easy to consciously live as a part of the whole, moment by moment, realizing that we need not be greedy or fear the death of this thing we call "I". Our egos will fight it.  As an ancient Zen master once said, "It is like swallowing a red-hot iron ball.  You try to vomit it out, but you cannot."  It requires concentration and commitment.  As first we may intellectually realize the truth of inter-being, but that is only the beginning.  Quiet meditation and looking deeply will eventually help us to realize this truth on an entirely new level.  Maybe just a little at first, but that's a start.  It's the start of a whole new way of living.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


Constant Craving

We all search for happiness, excitement, adventure, safety, contentment....constant craving.  Always searching for the silver bullet, the one fix that will forever make our lives better. 

Some come to Zen looking to root out this craving, treating Zen as the final answer.  Seeking the fix is a form of seeking.  Craving to end the craving is craving. 

Observe, look deeply, accept, and appreciate.    Accept that constant craving is a part of being human.  Life forever pushes on evolving. 

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

Creating Reality

What is reality? I'm not sure anyone knows. A great deal of science implies that there is no one "reality" outside of our consciousness. The universe exists as a wave of possibilities to be experienced by us and my reality may or may not be the same as yours. I'm not saying that you are imagining everything and that there is no physical reality (I really don't know), but that our minds and consciousness directly affect reality - whatever that may be.

At the very least our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs determine our experienced reality. Weather that I enjoy may ruin your day. A dip in the stock market may send you reeling while I see it as the investment opportunity of a lifetime.

Our thoughts, emotions, and beliefs can be much harder to change than first believed. Less than 10% of our brains deal with conscious thought. For some it takes years of listening to ourselves to identify and change our thoughts and beliefs. Meditation and quiet activities can help with this.

Not only can our thoughts change the way we experience an event but they can greatly affect our future reality as well. I challenge you to go a step further than putting a positive spin on everything. Yes positive thinking can improve our attitude and experience, but a positive outlook can improve the way we interact with the world as well.  Put in the hard work of examining your deepest levels of thought.  Look for opportunity to grow, believe that things can turn out good, learn to deal with imperfection, and realize your potential as a creative force.  It will change your life.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living