Release from the Bondage of Time

Most folks don’t contemplate how  “past” and “future” are happening right now.   On some level when we are calm and contemplative, we do realize that all experiences are a series of unfolding present moments. 

There’s like this agreement we all have about time, mostly because it’s useful.  These concepts about time do serve a useful purpose,  but when we make them ‘too real’ and by not getting that they are just part of our mental projections and part of our own process of thoughts, we create a sort of bondage.  It’s a trap.

In this trap, we have companions called worry, regret, anxiety, and fear about the future.

Next time we find ourselves trapped with those companions, we can break out and shatter those boundaries of time.  How? by settling down into the body and into the experience of this moment.  When we settle down in this way, it is natural and quite easy to have the awareness that past and future are simply thoughts in the present.  And it’s all they ever were or will be.

Instant detachment.  It costs nothing; you need no equipment and you can do it anywhere.

Driveby Painted Rock – Sign of Progress

Maybe this is a vent in disguise but I’d like to think it’s more of a hopeful sign.  Just wanted to put it out there in the cyber world.  Should have snapped a photo.  Didn’t so you’ll just have to believe me.  Here’s the deal. I’m down off the mountain now living at the foot of the foothills.  However, my residence was in the Appalachian Mountains for many a year, near 20 give or take.  Point is the contrast.  I wanted to write something about the whole Jesus thing.  Around here there are these huge boulders placed in front of schools and there are messages painted on them that change from time to time.  Once when my granddaughter was in elementary school, her mom and dad rented the rock to paint a big happy birthday message to her.   It’s a ‘thing’ around here.

So the thing is that in driving by the other day,  caught sight of a huge rock in front of our local high school which read HAPPY HOLIDAYS and beneath it were various symbols of various religions.  I felt encouraged by that.

Christians, it seems to me, way too often assume everybody else is or should be just as they are and we get the Jesus thing shoved in our Jewish, Buddhist., Hindu, Druid, Taoist, Islam, Shinto, Wicca … you get the idea… faces!

What about the contrast, the point of this blog post, that was mentioned above?

Well, when living in Appalachia, in my desire to tend App State University, the local college, in reviewing my transcripts,  indicated I needed a few more electives.  Turns out I didn’t but that’s another story.   Point is that when walking into a classroom there was written on the board in huge letters, JESUS LOVES YOU.  Not only that but one day one of the local Baptist ministers was standing outside the main building trying to give away Bibles.

Here’s another example.  In the small mountain community, there was — and then there wasn’t — a yoga studio.  I inquired about it and was told that the landlord would not rent to the yoga people because his minister said not to do so since yoga relates to the devil.  True story.  I know it sounds unbelievable, but I wouldn’t lie!

Anyway… what a distinct difference between those examples of religion in the Appalachians and the painted rock outside of the High School yesterday!  An acknowledgment that the acceptance of differences in humanities theology is alive and well (at least down here in the foothills!)

Amen.  and PS – if I get by that rock again before it’s painted over into a different message, I’ll grab a photo with my cell and post it here.

Astrology!

blogging-image.jpg

Yes, well, I did put an exclamation point after that word in the heading.  I finally figured out how to add a “sign up for blog form” on my newer website (JoyStarPsychicAstro.com).  I’ve been told that the Goog likes websites that continually add content.  Therefore, I created a blog for astrology on that website but the WordPress theme I’d chosen for that website didn’t have a widget for that.  All that means in WordPress terms was that an RSS needed to be created and linked to it.  Sounds easy? It wasn’t–not for me anyhow.

Slow brain here (getting old) that’s not to computer savvy resulted in way too many hours invested to achieve the goal. But today?  Yes, today!  Finally, I have it (mostly) figured out.  I signed up for my own astrology blog post and it actually arrived in my email box!  Thus the reason for the exclamation point in the header subject.

Below I have included are some of the recent astrology posts that were part of my herculean efforts.   I hope someone out there will find them useful.

Once you are on the website, you may like to sign up for the astro blog posts.  I’m no astrological whiz kid but share what I know.

I will continue to blog here, however, and will remain at sending out my newsletters “Thoughts Along The Path” as well.

Here are links to the most recent astrology posts . . .

The 5th House in Astrology

Transiting Juno – What’s that all about?

Mercury conjunct Jupiter Boosts Your Creativity Currently

Mars Culminating at 29° Scorpio New Years Day 2020

New Year’s Eve 2019

The Numerology of 2020 – a Universal 4 Year

While I’m at it, here’s a link to my latest Newsletter:

HAPPINESS FOR THE NEW YEAR 

 

 

 

 

Life – Is it one unchanging moment of happiness?

Unchanging HappinessIs it possible that any moment in our life would be one that we would wish to have unchanging, remaining the same for eternity?  We do this with life maybe subconsciously but we seem to continually be leaning forward to try to achieve that unchanging and happy moment.  Here are some thoughts about that from my view.  My life does not seem to be one unchanging moment of happiness.  That’s likely true for you too, right?   No matter how we try consciously (or subconsciously) to achieve a continually unending moment of bliss, we know it’s not possible.  Yet we still try for it.

What to do then?  We can pull back from striving to reach for that unending happy moment and instead make peace with this here moment no matter how it appears for us.  How?  By believing that this moment is more than enough.  Its not that difficult really.  We can do it by developing stability and the state of wellbeing with intentionality. ( Fake it until you make it using the tool of meditation. ) This then is the gateway to freedom from the suffering that consumes us due to yearning for some other moment (s).

It is to our great benefit to have the kind of confidence in our overall life that any moment has, contained within it, the seed of freedom from the suffering that yearning creates – said another way, enlightenment comes from making peace with the human condition. 

When we don’t argue with the way things ‘are’ and when we don’t make life wrong by believing like . . . “it shouldn’t be this way” . . .  and when we can make peace with life in such a way that we do not become tired of life or weary of the trials that are natural to this dimensional reality.

Let’s face it.  Life does turn sour on occasion or as I have heard it recently referred, “. . . when life turns rancid.”   But what I am referring to here is that to make peace with life and its many ups, downs, and experiences keeps us out of that kind of yearning that causes our unhappiness.

Psychologists tell us that even if we intellectually admit that difficulties in life happen and we concede that trauma does occur in life,  when we bump up against such energy there’s a part of the mind that is incredulous–its doubtful about it’s happening.  And in that type of unacceptance, we suffer even more.  In Buddhist thought, this is referred to as ‘the second arrow’ if you are familiar.  Double suffering is another way to say that.  There’s a part of the mind that cannot conceive that suffering can occur in our life! And want’s to deny that it shouldn’t be the way it is.

We set ourselves up when we try to reach out to find that which we believe will complete or fulfill our hearts.

The fact that we think our heart is lacking that which something outside ourselves can provide is the first step in the confusion about all this.

Whatever we reach out for in order to bring the heart to its fulfillment it (or to complete it) will eventually disappoint us.  Clinging or grasping for what we think we don’t already have can never work in the end.

Imperfection, disappointment, anger, even hatred energies exist in this realm and are woven into the fact of being human.  It’s just how things are on earth.  Yet, remember, as you just read that last sentence, there was likely that part of your mind that disbelieves it.  Or believes those energies bump into others but not myself. 

Stress occurs by not making peace with that way things are and resisting or arguing with it all.  I often quote this phrase, “Whenever you argue with life, you lose.”  Meaning you suffer.

My final thought:  All difficulties or suffering bring opportunities for growth and insight.  When we understand life in the ways I’ve written about here, we develop wisdom.  Then the mind feels strength, energy, freedom, detachment and becomes devoid of craving and the sources or causes of suffering. 

Awakening, Karma, Virtue, Cats and the Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama and his cat
The Dalai Lama and his cat

I recently listened to the Dalai Lama (through his translator) say something on a karma related subject. He said that even a simple act of virtue like feeding an animal (even ants) when it is done with an altruistic attitude (intention of helpfulness and compassion) with the idea of benefiting those sentient beings that this is what is meant by the term “bodhicitta”.  The word translates from Sanskrit this way:  bodhi means enlightened or awakened and citta means mind or consciousness.  So we could say that bodhicitta means awakened mind and it is the compassionate act of a bodhisattva practitioner.  To take it further, A person who has a spontaneous realization or motivation of bodhicitta is called a bodhisattva.

I would not go so far as to refer to myself as a bodhisattva but the Dalai Lama says even a simple act of conduct or action done in virtue with the intention of helpfulness and compassion are transformed into conditions of full enlightenment.  I think of conditions being transformed in such a way that awakening, at least in moments, is favorable.  So even simple acts of loving intention, he said, are like an elixir that transforms base metals into gold.

Only a true Buddhist would consider feeding ants.  That has never occurred to me to do, but maybe will since the great teacher Dalai Lama mentioned it.  However, I do feed stray cats.  There is one little Buddha-Cat who honestly cracks my heart open every time he comes with the others to eat.  He had a lot of fear right after he was born–really significantly frightened more than his brother or sisters.  Now, he is warming up to me and the other neighbor here who feeds him.  Here’s the thing.  The others dive into the food platter — a clear plastic party platter works well for them, each having their own compartment.  However, while he may be positioned to eat, he doesn’t start until he looks up into your eyes and reaches his head up so as to rub noses with you.

Each time I feed this cat, my heart opens more and he makes it easy for me to create the mindstate of a Bodhisattva.  I accept any conditions that would lead me to full awakening.  This sweet cat is helping me; may he remain protected and happy.

PS it is said that His Holiness rescued his cat from the slums of Dharmsala.  

 

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Having quite a time with the human vulgars lately.  Define vulgar?  Sure.   Went to the dictionary.  Meaning: of or relating to the common people (and most especially these types):  morally crude, undeveloped, lacking sophistication or good taste; unrefined.  Gawd, drawing in weird stuff and humans lately–had to find a name.  Recent example.  I am walking at a city park that has a walk/jog trail, baseball diamonds, playgrounds and lots and lots of trees.

Right you are! Its the trail with the trees that attracted me.  The schools were still in session so all the kids were elsewhere and this being a beautiful and quiet day with a cool breeze, it was my choice for a walk with the trees.  Forty minutes later, still quiet, I found myself a tree on a little hill not far from the car park and sat to meditate.  I was still listening to my mp3 player, actually Lord of the Rings Album playing to block out any accidental noisy situations that should come upon me.  Sitting in half lotus with hands in my lap — what’s the problem, right?

T’was lovely.  For about 10 minutes, going deeper and deeper into meditation.  Then a car pulls up across the way and a woman gets out and lights a cigarette and looks over at me.  Huh? I think to the Universe, Are you kidding me?  It took my attention but no matter– ignoring the situation, I looked up at the clear blue sky and various fall colored maple leaves and found the mind considering how to paint them.  Next thing I realize the car was gone so returned to my deep inner space.  Not long after there comes a police car right in front of my location and there went my attention again. I look up and the cop is talking to me. Huh?

I take out my earbuds and say What? and he asks if I am Okay.

Huh?  For buddha’s sake!  WTF? So I say, Yes; I’m just meditating, is that okay?

Yeah, well okay. I was doing my own personal “sit in” not wanting to return to the Human Vulgars of the apartment building where this body (and the rest of me) currently resides. But alone under a tree just sitting there . . .  and I think can I be arrested for this? 

He tells me that someone reported to him that I was just staring off into space.

Dang, since when was this something to report to the police?  I do it all the time!  hahaha

Experiences like that and so many more around this human/dog city life make me miss the mountains enough to have a really good cry.  Maybe I will.

I’m just a soul whose intentions are good

Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Zen, Cats, Deer, the Outdoors and Meditation

Animal Zen Masters

It’s true and if you are a careful observer, you will know this for certain.  Watch any animal in nature while being in nature yourself (without your cell phone or other tech distractions) and you will see their Zen-ness.  We can find our own animal zen nature when out in the woods or even outside our back door (woods are better!).  Here’s what I mean.  Animals in nature are still and alert — this is exactly what we humans who seek to meditate and to be more Zen-like and peaceful aim for — stillness while remaining alert!  And to be beyond our ego-personality daily stressful thinking.  Just going outside achieves a disconnect from our own mental residue that bounces off the walls.

I have a one-bedroom apartment surrounded by many lunatic humans — sorry, but you could fact check this and if you lived here, you’d know the truth of that as well.  And I also feed feral cats — kittens born just feet from my back door.  (They are as big as an adult cat now.)  I watch them and think how, in their wild animal nature, they possess what I strive for in my meditation practice:  still alertness.  They perk up at any sound that they’re not accustomed to and yet right afterward they are able to return to their former peaceful stillness again, totally letting it all go and being fully present.

Watch any animal in nature; take deer for example.  They are always alert and attentive yet are able to return to a peaceful state rather quickly after they tense up or perk up due to a perceived threat.  They are alert — not hyper-alert however.

I feel so trapped and smothered living here in this city and in an apartment complex sometimes.  This is because even the outdoors here in this apartment complex can be chaotic with barking dogs and boisterous humans.  Life.  Its what we are, life itself. Rather difficult to merge with you have an aversion to, but it’s my current path here surrounded by human animals.

I am thinking soon to have a nice long hike in the woods.  My trekking poles are always in my car and unfortunately, it’s necessary to drive 20 minutes to get to a state park.  It’s not like when I lived in the mountains. But I can’t mentally “go there” today — makes me too sad.  Anyway . . . I digress.

When we are out in nature (again, without the phones, etc.) it becomes so easy to let the trees, rocks, lakes and all of nature merge with our own energy.  And then we can forget the human self and go once again into the animal self.  We have to be aware when in a natural setting — snakes and the like, you know?  Yet in the state park that I mentioned above, the greatest predators are humans and their dogs, not wild animals.  Either way, one’s tendency in the wood is to be still and alert–or at least it’s that way for me.  And that is very meditative.

Sometimes, I just want to dash out the door and get a bit of exercise when in between writing bursts or watercolor painting.  Lately, I’ve stopped walking loops in this apartment complex (for numerous reasons not to be included here) and have chosen instead to take my walks along the highway on the bike lane.  Now there is a place to be hyper-alert like in the woods!  One must be in the present moment there too!  Traffic is whizzing by 5 feet from my shoulder.  I don’t walk on the highway every day and only for about 30 minutes all together out and back usually.  It surely isn’t a pleasant walk in the woods,  but there are dangers and the necessity to be alert and present.

I find I can be much more present in a group weight lifting class at the gym, but sometimes one just wants to walk out the door, not having the time or inclination to drive off to the gym or take 40 minutes to get to and from the state park.

Well, these are thoughts that crop up today.  Being outside is expansive and meditative states are natural.  Next time you watch a wild animal, see if it isn’t true — they are zen teachers!

 

Writing, Painting, Creativity, Intention and Happiness

Hello, Greetings, Namaste!

Has it been eons since I’ve posted on this blog?  Yes, it is so but here I am today in a mood to write and have set a Pomodoro timer to put out some thoughts and words here for 25 minutes.   I’ve been attending a writing group in the community where I live and we are encouraged with a brief writing prompt to write for a timed period of time and then share what we’ve written.  We are not to correct our grammar or cross any words out but to just keep writing.  In other words, no editing or no editor.  That’s how I’m writing this blog too.  You will probably realize if you haven’t already that there’s been no editing. Writing in a group of others seems to up the anty a bit especially if you know you will be asked, as we round the table if you wish to read what you wrote or to pass.  It’s a jolly good group and we do have fun with our writing prompts.  It’s amazing what comes out of our individual and collective heads.

I’ve had book ideas floating around in my head for years and recently the leader of our group gave us an outline to follow and I’ve just started to use it and found that I’m writing a book that would include survival following a large and fast-moving CME from the Sun which knocks out power and essentially levels the playing field with regard to physical endurance, stamina, and patience.  I’ve not fully worked it all out but its a wee start of something that may completely change or alter dramatically but at least a start.

I think that my artwork helps too in that lately this has been another level of meditation and concentration for me — call it “samadhi” if you know the word’s meaning but you probably get the idea.  I am typing just what flows out of my head and keyboard right at the moment with 15 more minutes of this writing practice.

Another aspect of my life that I’d mention here since I’m sort of free-flowing letting my mind just spew it out happens to involve requisites for happiness and how to take a deeper look at that.  In other words, conditions that we believe we must have first in order to feel happy.  Why must there be conditions for happiness at all?  So this takes me back to the basic core Buddhist teachings that I hold or try to hold near and dear.

Yes, I forget at times just like even highly respected Buddhist teachers and monks admit doing, when getting pulled into the drama of life or the reactionary responses and then not remembering how I intend to live.  I’ve taken to repeating that intention to myself at the start of each day before getting out of bed and believe that this helps.

But back to the conditions for happiness or what conditions that I think I need to remain in this state — I’m looking at that and observing it in others.  Maybe idea this will be something that I work into a book that I want to write woven in with the result of what happens when people do not have any conditions that they are used to do to huge disruptions in their way of life.

Maybe it is going to be a dystopian themed book.  Who knows.  And as I even type here about my writing a book that critical part of my mind is kicking up and laughing at the idea.   Just how many times have you said you were going to write a book anyway?  huh? 

Yeah, I can feel a bit like a fraud if I contemplate that.  When one has a goal or makes the self a promise and then fails to reach the goal or keep the promise it can be . . . let’s just say challenging.

What’s life without a good challenge or two?  Well, there’s only one minute left on the Pomodoro timer and this 25-minute writing in which I’m just letting it flow is about done flowing.

Just a final thought — using creative activities (painting or writing, etc.) and exercise (weight lifting at the gym) can help develop one-pointed concentration (samadhi) like deep meditative states.  Same diff to a great degree.

Time’s up! Have a great day!