Monday, May 31, 2010

Memorial Day


I've shared with you many times that the true purpose of meditation is to decrease suffering and increase happiness. I have just discovered a little quiz that gives you your Be Happy Index that was used by scientists for the BBC documentary "How to Be Happy".

You can find it right here.

I think the questions are simply excellent. It's worth taking the quiz just to find out what the questions are. They would all be great questions for the "reflection process" (that we learn in Session 5 of the Foundations Course here at the Center.)

And here is a corresponding page on 10 Ways to Increase Your Happiness.

Here's a brief passage:
Happiness is your original nature—it is what you first experienced before you began to identify with a body, a family role, some school grades, your nationality, your business card, your Social Security number and any other labels you keep. True happiness is being faithful to your true nature.

As you know, meditation (especially refuge practice) puts us powerfully in touch with our true nature.

Let's all ponder these things, okay?

Sunday, May 30, 2010

For when you need to let go of stress


A reminder

People! Have you visited our Cynthia's blog lately? Please visit soon as she's got some new photographs up.

I promise you that if you spend some time over there just browsing (go into archives as well as looking at the front page) you will have a truly meditative experience.

In case some of you don't know this, Cynthia won the "Best in Show" prize in the Tulsa Garden Center photography contest this year.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Meditation and research

I've shared with you before on this blog about recent research regarding the benefits of meditation. Today I just read a short article that includes the following statment:
In fact, the results of more than 1,000 peer-reviewed articles on meditation suggest that regular practice of meditation is associated with "significant relief from a variety of stress related physical and mental problems, a stronger immune system, longer life, increased energy and positive changes in brain function."
That's a very large number for peer-reviewed material.

If you're not sure what it means for an article to be peer-reviewed, please go here.

The little article is called "Master the Art of Meditation" and it's from a website I just discovered called To Your Health.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Friday cat blogging!



Below is an excerpt from a little article entitled "Motivation to Meditate" :
With a little consideration, it’s easy to see what meditation can do for you. Study after study has proven that it makes you a much healthier individual overall. It improves your immune system, your energy level, and your cardiovascular system. Above even that, it helps you to gain control of the mental war that is going on in your head. Without getting clear and quiet, it is difficult to tap into the inner voice and thoughts that are so important. Listening to this intuition will guide you in the right direction. With this inner guidance system loud and clear, you’ll make fewer mistakes. In contemplation of these many benefits, it should hopefully be easier for you to find motivation to meditate.
[After a while of meditating consistently], you will start to notice a change in the way you deal with people. You will not jump to conclusions as quickly. Your interpersonal relationships will most likely improve. You will probably be in a much better mood throughout the day. Things that used to get on your nerves will not do so as much any more.
Unskillful habits are hard to break and helpful habits are hard to cultivate. No one disputes this. Making an effort is so worth it, however!

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Something about experience

I especially like the last sentence of the following quotation:

Experience is not a matter of having actually swum the Hellespont, or danced with the dervishes, or slept in a doss-house. It is a matter of sensibility and intuition, of seeing, and hearing the significant thing, of paying attention at the right moments, of understanding and coordinating. Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you.

-- Aldous Huxley

Although Huxley does not use this precise word, he's really talking about mindfulness, isn't he?

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The wrong way to happiness:

[The] innate world view that happiness and suffering come from external sources leads us to believe that if we could only make others and the world be what we wanted them to be, then we would be happy. Thus, we endeavor to rearrange the world and the people in it, gathering towards us those we consider happiness-producing and struggling to be free from those we think cause pain. Although we have tried to do this, no one has succeeded in making the external environment exactly what he or she wants it to be. Even in those occasional situations in which we are able to arrange external people and things to be what we want, they don't remain that way for long. Or, they aren't as good as we thought they would be and we are left feeling disappointed and disillusioned. In effect, the supposed path to happiness through external things and people is doomed from the start because no matter how powerful, wealthy, popular, or respected someone is, he or she is unable to control all external conditions.

-- The Verenable Thubten Chodron

When you think about it, the belief that happiness comes from controlling external conditions is undoubtedly the fundamental cause of all wars.

The excerpt above is from a longer piece by Thubten Chodron you can find right here.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Monday meditative picture blogging


Inside my empty bottle I was constructing a lighthouse while all the others were making ships.

-- Charles Simic

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Something about giving people room

Oh, my. There's really a lot to think about here. Quite a lot:

A hasid complains to his rebbe that wherever he goes, people step on his toes. The rebbe says, "You don't give people room, so they have no where to step but on your toes."

Nilton Bonder

Friday, May 21, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Makes sense to me!

There's some unmistakable clarity here:

Here is a test to find out whether your mission in life is complete. If you're alive, it isn't.

-- Richard Bach

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Something about celebration

Has it ever occurred to you that many of us don't celebrate enough? Here's a little reminder:

The clouds above us come together
and disperse; The breeze in the
courtyard departs and returns.
Life is like that, so why not relax?
Who can keep us from celebrating?

- Lu-Yu

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Oh, wow. What a question!

Just look:

If someone were to pay you $.10 for every kind word you ever spoke and collect $.05 for every unkind word, would you be rich or poor?

-- Anonymous

Sunday, May 16, 2010


I usually get a couple of emails a day from the Care2 folks. Here's an excerpt from a little article by Zen teacher Marc Lesser:
I saw a cartoon in a recent New Yorker magazine in which two people were finishing their dinners at a Chinese restaurant and had just opened their fortune cookies. One fortune read, “You are going to die.”

If you let this fact sink in — that life is short, and we all die — it can actually act as a powerful motivating force to help maintain focus and priorities. Everything changes and is impermanent, so are we fully present and making the most of this fleeting moment? Are we fully aware of what we are doing? Appreciating impermanence clarifies priorities, and it helps us identify any frenetic, shallow and ineffective activities we’re being distracted by. We see clearly the things that exhaust us and distract us from experiencing the blessing and opportunity of each particular day.
We often uncritically think of impermanence as something terrible or, at least, unfortunate. Actually, it is wonderfully consoling. Just think about it for a while.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday cat blogging!


Something about anxiety


You can read a little bit about Ayya Khema right here. Many of her dharma talks can be found online. She was an excellent, excellent teacher.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Something about the inner life

One of my very favorite writers said this:

I am a writer who came from a sheltered life. A sheltered life can be a daring life as well. For all serious daring starts from within.

- Eudora Welty

Hmm. All seriousness about everything, really, starts from within.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging



I have had great appreciation for this saying for many years now:

Meditation is not a means to an end. It is both the means and the end.

-- Krishnamurti

If that does not make a lot of sense to you right away, never mind. Just ponder it from time to time. Take years at it if you like. And, of course, keep meditating. It will slowly become a vital part of your deeper understanding.

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Good advice:

Isn't this nice?

It's a print I just bought from Etsy right here.

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Clarity of mission

Who could not wish to live this way?

When you know who you are;
when your mission is clear and you
burn with the inner fire of unbreakable will;
no cold can touch your heart;
no deluge can dampen your purpose.
You know that you are alive.

-- Chief Seattle

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Something about encouragement

Anyone who has ever had a friend or a boss who was a fault-finder understands how important encouragement is and how disheartening the lack of it can be. Here's another reason to make it part of your way of being in the world:

Note how good you feel after you have encouraged someone else. No other argument is necessary to suggest that one never miss the opportunity to give encouragement.

-- George M. Adams

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Wednesday life form blogging



Really, really think about this last sentence:

How simple it is to see that all the worry in the world cannot control the future. How simple it is to see that we can only be happy now. And that there will never be a time when it is not now.

-- Gerald Jampolsky

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Sayings to ponder

A friend of mine sent me the following quotations this morning. I think they are all excellent:
There’s a fine line between fishing and just standing on the shore like an idiot.

As a man danced so the drums were beaten for him. (Ibo proverb, from Chinhua Achebe)

If you seek, how is that different from pursuing sound and form? If you don’t seek, how are you different from earth, wood, or stone? You must seek without seeking. (Fo-Yan)

Get away from any man who argues every time he talks. (Abbot Pastor)

Any trial whatever that comes to you can be conquered by silence. (Abbot Pastor)

Clear mind is like the full moon in the sky. Sometimes clouds come and cover it, but the moon is always behind them. Clouds go away, then the moon shines brightly. So don't worry about clear mind: it is always there. When thinking comes, behind it is clear mind. When thinking goes, there is only clear mind. Thinking comes and goes, comes and goes. You must not be attached to the coming or the going. (Zen Master Seung Sahn)
I particularly like the one about staying away from someone who perpetually argues. It's not good for you. And it's also not good for that person.

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A little Sunday morning levity

Just for fun:

Actually, from a meditative point of view, this gives us a lot of excellent material for reflection! Think about it. (Those of you who are familiar with the Tibetan Book of the Dead will especially recognize what I'm talking about here.)

Saturday, May 01, 2010

It's May Day!

"May Day" by Kate Greenaway

Let's spend some time outdoors if we can:

Where shall we keep the holiday,
And duly greet the entering May?
Too strait and low our cottage doors,
And all unmeet our carpet floors;
Nor spacious court, nor monarch's hall,
Suffice to hold the festival.
Up and away! where haughty woods
Front the liberated floods:
We will climb the broad-backed hills,
Hear the uproar of their joy;
We will mark the leaps and gleams
Of the new-delivered streams,
And the murmuring rivers of sap
Mount in the pipes of the trees,
Giddy with day, to the topmost spire,
Which for a spike of tender green
Bartered its powdery cap;
And the colors of joy in the bird,
And the love in its carol heard,
Frog and lizard in holiday coats,
And turtle brave in his golden spots;
While cheerful cries of crag and plain
Reply to the thunder of river and main.

-- Ralph Waldo Emerson

That's right: Up and away! And duly greet the entering May.

I hope everyone's day is just lovely.