My Weather

I
stay up late at night
arguing
with myself and others
clarifying who I am.

I
feel strong some days
basking
in the sunlight
warm in how I feel.

I
crumble some days
confused
in the rain
questioning who I am.

The adiabatic proccess -
weather comes and goes.
I watch it from above.
sometimes with fascination
sometimes with terror.

Your opinion
or my delusion?
Subject and object are incoherent
I'm weary of thunder,
I need Shuurai.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

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Today



I am a new day rising
I'm a brand new sky
to hang the stars upon tonight
I'm a little divided
do I stay or run away
and leave it all behind?

It's times like these you learn to live again
It's times like these you give and give again
It's times like these you learn to love again
It's times like these time and time again.

~ Grohl, Taylor, Mendel, & Shiflett

I'm a week into my 30 days of now experiment.  It hasn't been easy staying focused in the moment, but like anything else it seems to be getting easier with practice.  Meditation and mindfulness are skills. When I'm successful it's like a bright new morning and everything is beautiful.  The catch is that our minds have many levels.  I thought I was being totally present on my drive home from work yesterday evening.  The sun was setting and it was beautiful.  Overall I was feeling pleasant but felt a minor irritation in the background.  Looking deeper I found that somewhere deep inside I was thinking back on former drama in my life.  As soon as I recognized this, it seemed to release and I was totally present for the remainder of the drive.  The evening became even more beautiful.  I hope that you have experienced the joy of being totally present in such a moment.

Today my coffe is warm and rich. Today a bird is singing across the desert field. The weather is perfect - sunny, warm, no wind, and blue skies.

Every day is today - again and again - over and over we are given a fresh new start. Again and again we are given another chance to make choices, to choose who we are and what we will stand for. Every day a chance to live.




Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

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30 Days of Now



A few days ago I began an experiment.  I decided that I would spend thirty days living in the present moment.  For thirty days I will not dwell in the past or worry about the future.

I've read Eckhart Tolle's The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (several times), read Thich Nhat Han and other Zen masters who insist we should live each moment here and now, but never have I been able to comprehend truly living only in the present.  It seems we all look back at our past with fondness or regret and towards the future with anticipation or fear. How can we live without planning for the future?

I decided since I couldn't overcome the skeptical ego-mind, then I could compromise and at least try it for 30 days.  For one month I can take a break from always planning for tomorrow and just live in the moment to see what happens as the Universe collides with my presence.  This isn't particularly easy right now considering that my wife and I both have temporary jobs with the National Park Service  and a lease which will expire this fall. 

I decided to write about my experience  here for two reasons:
To share the experience good or bad, and to keep myself more accountable.

So far I have been able to focus on the present about half of the time and I am more at peace with life in gerneral, -BUT, when doubt and fear creep in they seem to hit harder.  My ego thinks I'm crazy and is putting up a fight.  Meditation and focus are helping but it can be a struggle. 

So until August 15th I will pay bills and budget for the week, but not worry where my next job will be.  I will think about my day and how I will spend it, but not about what the weekend will bring.  I will live as close to the present moment as possible.  I'll be checking in every few days or as the occasion calls for it.  We'll see what life brings.


Namaste,

Dan

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


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The Cost of Freedom - Sunday Morning Reading

“If you’re only okay in certain circumstances, you’re already fucked.” — Godfrey Devereux

All living beings desire freedom but few of us really feel free from the pressures and restrictions life places upon us.  What if I told you that it was you and not life or someone "out there" placing these limits upon you?

We spend most of our lives avoiding discomfort.  Whether we are willing to admit it or not, fear dominates our lives. We are three to five times more likely to avoid discomfort than to seek pleasure.  We build fences around ourselves within which we feel safe, but the feeling of safety rarely last very long.  In order to be free and truly happy we must face and process our fears instead of protecting ourselves or hiding.

Michael Singer explains it very well below.

If you want to be happy -"You cannot spend your life avoiding things that are not actually happening, or everything will become negative.  All you will end up seeing is how much can potentially go wrong.  Do you have any idea how many things can cause inner pain and disturbance?  ....If you want to grow and be free to explore life, you cannot spend your life avoiding the myriad of things that might hurt your heart or mind."   ~ Michael Singer from The Untethered Soul

Something to ponder if you truly want to grow.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


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Simple Reminders



A few simple notes from the past for today:

As a reminder:

Less Can Be More

Tomorrow Never Comes.

Small Steps for Big Change

Intention is Powerful

We Are All Weird

The World is Full of Assholes, so be kind.

and most of all.....

You are alive.  Enjoy.

Peace is every step.
The shining red sun is my heart.
Each flower smiles with me.
How green, how fresh all that grows.
How cool the wind blows.
Peace is every step.
It turns the endless path to joy.
                                                            ~ Thich Nhat Hanh



Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living












Your False Self (Your Personality Sucks)


Stop your wandering,
Look penetratingly into your inherent nature,
And, concentrating your spiritual energy,
Sit in meditation
And break through.
                                           ~ Bassui

Please read to the end to understand why this is important.


Zen and Buddhism in general often speak of the self, true-self, false-self, and some times of the no-self.  I have to admit that even after studying Zen for years it mostly leaves me confused.  Modern psychologist and new age gurus speak of the ego and how it isn't our deepest self.  Mostly I get it, but once again I've found it hard to wrap my"self" around the fact that that's not who I am. 

One of the easiest ways to begin to see this is to picture the last time you were really upset or angry.  Maybe you cussed up a storm and threw things.  Was that you?  I hope not.  That was an emotion and behavior.  Conclusion - we are not our emotions.

Last night while meditating at the Dharma Mountain Zen Center an analogy came to me.  Our personality or false self is much like our body.  When I go to the gym I am shaping and creating my body.  The foods that I ingest shape and form my body.  The sunshine, the air, the environment - they all shape my body.  It is "my" body but I am not my body.  In the same way the things that occur to me, the things that I experience, and how I react and handle these experiences all shape my personality.  This "me" is a collection of thoughts and emotions based upon beliefs.  It is not my true-self.

When one realizes that we (and our environment) have created this false-self, we realize that it is not what is holy in us and can be changed, disbanded, and ignored. 
Why is this important?  Because the tangled emotions, false beliefs, and crippling doubt that holds us back in life and causes us so much pain are within this "false self".  This is not our true nature. 

I have never experienced a state of no-self which enlightened masters speak of, but I have experienced what I call "true self" - a deeper sense of being in touch with the flow of life.  When I'm experiencing life at this level I feel connected to the source.  I feel more "alive" and grateful.  I don't know about you but I'll take that over the confusion and frustration of my ego any day.

Meditation can help us to separate our everyday experience from our tangled emotions and insecurities so that we may begin to enjoy the pure radiance of life as it is meant to be.  Below I've listed a few books that have helped me along the path.




p.s - I stole the intro poem from my friend David's post, Breaking Through,  this morning.  Please read it here.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living

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Just this is it

Blue
Sky
Warm feeling.
Quiet
Mind
Heart beating.
Right
Now
Life is flowing inside of me.
or
The other way around.
Either way,
This is it.

Just this is it.  Right here and right now.  Life is directly in front of you.  Touch the moment directly, without the emotions and confusion that normally filter and taint our life experience.  Direct contact.  You don't have to believe every thought your mind speaks.  You don't have to fall into that trap.  Right here, right now life is happening.  Be it.

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living


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The Little Engine that Could ( I think I can )



I think most of you have heard the children's story of  The Little Engine That Could .  It is a great story that teaches children the value of optimism and hard work and has been around in one form or another since at least 1902.

While I'm a huge fan of positive thinking and being optimistic, I've realized something new recently -  you often "can" even if you don't think you can.  You see, the nagging voice in your head that is often so negative comes from a part of your brain called the amygdala.  The amygdala is a part of a very primitive area of our brain which gives negative thoughts and emotions much more attention that positive ones.  It evolved to save us from the many dangers of living in the prehistoric world.

The thing is that we can identify the negative voices in our head and with enough mindfulness separate ourselves from these voices, emotions, and feelings and see them for what they are - thoughts.  You are not your thoughts or emotions and they only have power over you if you let them.  Yes, please use mantras and positive thinking, but realize that often we can even if we don't think we can.  Do it!

Zen Presence - Ideas for Meaningful Living