Patterns of Thought, Neurons, Psychic Development and Spiritual Evolution

Neurons Gossip
Neurons Gossip

Patterns of Thought, Neurons, Psychic Development and Spiritual Evolution

How do all those things relate?  Patterns that I’m referring to have to do with what sometime’s I’ve heard called “gossipy neurons” or “ground consciousness” — either way, karmic repetition.  I really appreciate how the Dalai Lama of Tibet has joined Buddhists theory with scientific theory to understand the mind and how it works.

So patterns of thought and neurons that react to stimuli (see What the Bleep Do we Know?) — gossipy neurons!  I love that image of neurons gossiping and we could then see how and why the work of Byron Katie has been helpful to so many–i.e. question that thought and who would you be without it?

Neurons gossip — stimulus happens (some life event or experience) and then old dialogue begins accompanied by old pictures.

In my work as a psychic I’ve learned how to listen to observe to create a space for information to come through and I can’t have any neurons gossiping in the background when i do this.   I think meditation and working in those areas with the mind enables one to recognize when ground or karmic consciousness takes over or said another way, when the neurons start gossiping and firing and kicking up those old connections.

When we notice those neurons gossiping we can become aware and break those old patterned connections through intention–creating a new pathway, one that includes compassion and love instead.

I often point out how psychic development (I offer an Online Course) is an aid to our personal spiritual evolution.  This is yet another example!  Awareness rocks!

Angry? Fearful? Disappointed? Dont’ worry: things are not as they appear to our ego-based delusion

July 18 2014 shadow clouds in the mountains

Holy smoke!  Ego’s get rabidly angry when they hear that life is an illusion and that they are too.  My gosh, how folks fight for their ego’s identity; it never fails to amaze me.  Just try mentioning to another human that there is no self and just watch the resistance and anger that manifests.  This is the same reason people fear death.  Self-cherishing!

Okay then.  Let’s say that life is not actually a dream, and not an illusion, and not a bubble; HOWEVER, life is LIKE a dream, an illusion, a bubble.  Things are not as they appear to us in our ego-based delusion. For instance, an object like a table is just made up of protons and neutrons. A physicist would tell us that a table is basically just empty energy. But, of course, if someone threw a table at you (let’s just say), it would hurt (*mostly because we believe it would.) Ultimately it is empty, but on a relative level it appears as solid and our memories will make it feel solid. Those who can, as we have read about, walk through walls do so because they know the truth of reality. Ultimately what we see is an illusion (like the reflection of the moon in the water or a reflection in a mirror) and this illusion is presented by our various senses and the memories associated with those senses over eons of lifetimes which create the reality as we now experience it. The point is that things re not what they seem to be.  In meditation one can experience the direct realization of this truth (intellectually knowing doesn’t do it)  and this experience of direct realization in meditation  is truly trans-form-ative!

The world, including ourselves, are like a dream, a rainbow, a bubble, a flash of lightening–ungraspable and in an impermanent contestant flux.  Life may look substantially solid and (‘Lordie knows’, as the saying goes) how the gods and angels above might laugh at all the crazy tactics and dramas that we monkey’s create as we try to make ourselves righteous and indignant in our self-cherishing attempt to create a solid identity.  It’s laughable really.

Shadows.  Rainbows.  Let’s take a rainbow for an example.  It is created by conditions, by rain and Sun and by many other causes, but when we try to find it, we cannot.  Just the same way, in a dream everything seems so real but the dream doesn’t have any core reality that exists outside of our very own mind.  A bubble seems real but prick it and it is just empty air.  Life itself is this way.

“May I see all things as illusions and, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.” — that’s the ending of the Eight Verses of Mind Training.

What kind of bondage?  Ego bondage.

Duality and Oneness are so misunderstood.  Self and other:  this duality.  And we watch how we and others create causes and conditions which create self-cherishing responses to life which create more and more separation and ego-based delusion.  People will say things like “I must protect myself from this or that”  or “I must do certain things that make me feel good”–all of which emphasizes and reinforces the sense of self, the sense of ego.

Putting self last and other’s first is a way to break the spell of ego-based delusion and best of all it increases happiness.  People are very concerned for their self when they are asleep and deluded but then this is instinctive isn’t it?  I mean this whole self-preservation instinctive behavior is what causes us great suffering if you think about it and it is the furthest point from true spirituality that there can be.

One of the antidotes to self-cherishing and ego-based delusion is to put others before the self but not, of course, in a masochistic type of way.  I’m referring to a way of balancing that all important self-clinging that gets us into trouble and causes so much suffering for self and others.  I monitor this in myself when I am awake and clear and centered and I admit that I fail at times and loose my way in my own ego-based delusion many times.  I cling to my own self importance when other humans seem obnoxious to me and I actually want to run from them, forgetting the rainbow, the bubble and the illusion of causes and conditions playing out before my eyes, ears, and all my senses.  It’s tricky; it’s a pickle; it’s often lost but then picked up again, and again–always coming back to these Eight Verses (below) as an inspiration.

I can somtraining-the-mind-imageetimes realize in the ‘heat of the moment’ so-to-speak about how silly it is to become angry at something or someone that/who doesn’t really exist in the first place, at least not in the way they appear.  Again, in all relationships to person, place or thing– “May I see all things as illusions and, without attachment, gain freedom from bondage.”  But then meanwhile, may I at least put others before myself as a way of releasing self-cherishing so that I can let go enough to wake up from the sleep of self-importance.  See what I mean?

Well, anyway… the Eight Verses in their entirety appear below and by the way, it is said that His Holiness The Dalai Lama who is called the Embodiment of Compassion repeats /recites these verses every day.   Personally, I fail miserably as I try to follow the path of someone like The Dalai Lama but I do aspire to these verses in my life view, my attitude and actions to avert ego-clinging.

Just as in meditation thoughts wander and we bring them back to center, to breath, to the focal point, this how we can bring ourselves back from ego-clinging which is what indignant righteous self-protection is all bout and what worry, fear and anger is about too.

Anyway, the inspirational antidote, the meditation and contemplation to counter-balance and hopefully release all of that anger, fear, worry and self-protection and self-cherishing  are the following versus offered here for the reader’s consideration:

With a determination to achieve the highest aim
For the benefit of all sentient beings
Which surpasses even the wish-fulfilling gem,
May I hold them dear at all times.

Whenever I interact with someone,
May I view myself as the lowest amongst all,
And, from the very depths of my heart,
Respectfully hold others as superior.

In all my deeds may I probe into my mind,
And as soon as mental and emotional afflictions arise-
As they endanger myself and others-
May I strongly confront them and avert them.

When I see beings of unpleasant character
Oppressed by strong negativity and suffering,
May I hold them dear-for they are rare to find-
As if I have discovered a jewel treasure!

When others, out of jealousy
Treat me wrongly with abuse, slander, and scorn,
May I take upon myself the defeat
And offer to others the victory.

When someone whom I have helped,
Or in whom I have placed great hopes,
Mistreats me in extremely hurtful ways,
May I regard him still as my precious teacher.

In brief, may I offer benefit and joy
To all my mothers, both directly and indirectly,
May I quietly take upon myself
All hurts and pains of my mothers.

May all this remain undefiled
By the stains of the eight mundane concerns;
And may I, recognizing all things as illusion,
Devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.

 

May all who need to find and read this post, find it and by  reading even one line here that is helpful, may they be so helped, aided and thereby served.

Examining beliefs about reality and taking refuge, July 1/2 price 30-min. Psychic Readings

July 2 2014 sunrise

Hello to you and hello to July!

As the curtain opens on the 2nd day of July 2014, life is but a dream.  I’ve been saying this a lot lately, doing my very best to instill this truth more deeply into the psyche.  My new living arrangement with my sister and niece is going very well; we all agree.  It seems a type of  heaven to me not to hear human voices or guitars in my space but I remind myself that life is changeable, constantly changing and shifting and not to become particularly attached to or have aversion toward anything whatsoever.
Finances.  Always it is the finances!  Warning!  Astro babble:   Saturn is conjunct my lunar nodes and squaring my natal Saturn really challenges me to look closely at reality and deeply questioning some aspects of my life where I have been treading water.  If this sounds vague, it’s meant to.  I share way too much personal information here… TMI as they call it.  :0

Jupiter is trining (making a trine aspect to) my natal Jupiter — and I’m examining my goals, my beliefs and ideals, looking at what is really important.  And today while there is a huge lack in one area, the challenge is to feel balanced, peaceful and secure despite that, taking refuge in my Jupiter/beliefs–the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha.  (Always when saying the combination of those words the image of the Dalai Lama appears before me.)

The month of June was quite the blur with the moving frenzie;  but I’m so happy to be settled into the new apartment that I share with my sister now.  It’s nice to have companionship for a short while in the evenings as we tell about our day in the shade of the back porch near the pine trees.  And there’s the company of her cat all day long (my niece is gone a lot and my sister has a job outside of the home so it’s me and kitty).

I’m considering some sort of reduced rate or special for readings in July.  Several people have asked me about having another reduced rate reading special lately, so I will take that as a “hint” from the universe.

Physically I am not ready to go back to the Y for a workout yet… well, I’m toying with the idea of a treadmill workout later today at the Y if I get some things done that need doing…  I’ve some clients to contact and student communications to reply to.

Anyway Happy 4th of July 2014 to America!!

If you see this blog but do not receive my newsletter and would like the half price 30-minute phone reading or mp3 audio reading, you can email me, joystar777@gmail.com or I will come back to this blog post and add the paypal button for the reduced rate later.

We can make the appointment for you anytime throughout the month of July; you won’t have to have the reading this weekend.

Cheers!

Wishing you a happy July 2014 and amazing day today!

I came back to insert the paypal order buttons:

button (13)

button (14)

Regular price for years has been $65 for half hour sessions; so I made the half price amount $33 because 33 is a Master Number (numerology).  The MP3 audio session is handled this way:  you email me your questions (3 to 5 in number) by email or by filling out the form you are directed to after the purchase.  I record the reading and send you an email with a link download from the FTP server… you simply click, save, listen.

Enlightenment Practice #32 of the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva Including Divination

My first thought when I drew the paper with number 32 out of the basket today and read the words associated with this practice was to recoil and to think, “Wait, I don’t do that!”  Following which I knew this must be a “biggie” if I had such a strong adverse reaction.  “You’d better look closer at this one Joy!” was the next thought.

I turned to the commentary by Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamtso Rinpoche to help with this.  I think my problem was that I interpreted the wording of the original root text that read, “…if you point out the faults of another Bodhisattva…” That brought to mind the Dalai Lama or Kwan Yin or even someone like the 17th Karmapa or any of the Rinpoche’s or Lamas or even Buddhist nuns—take Pema Chodron and the like.  I revere, admire and venerate teachers of this nature; I can’t imagine ever criticizing any of them.  I honestly sat stupefied and then solemn for a moment and deeply inquired if I’ve criticized other Bodhisattvas.

Well, maybe Christians who still tend to irk the jesus out of me, pardon the pun.  I admit that I’m still healing the wound from prior life religious persecutions—but of course it is just mind latching onto an identity as one who was supposedly persecuted.  I get that intellectually and sometimes emotionally but not when the wound takes a direct hit.  Okay, okay—let’s say I’m working on that.  It’s a little bit difficult for me to see a Christian practitioner as a Bodhisattva but maybe I need to reconsider that.

Meanwhile, back to  what Khenpo Tsultrim  says about practice 32… he links this to The Seven Points of Mind Training.  The Buddhist seem to have a lot of numbers associated with their teachings:  the 3 this, the 4 that, the 6 this and the 7 that.  Probably a good way to memorize teachings!

Anyway, Khenpo Tsultrim says that one stanza in The Seven Points of Mind Training directs the reader to think that all positive qualities belong to other sentient beings and that all faults are one’s own. This is the correct attitude. [that will develop humility for sure!] Generally, most people think just the opposite: someone else is always wrong, while they are always right. This attitude is to be given up.  Patrul Rinpoche advises students to acknowledge their own deficiency first; and then, when they recognize it in someone else, to pray that the guru grants blessings to them both. It is always beneficial to see that the perceived fault in yourself is greater than it is in the other. Then you know that person is no different from you. [I highlighted what I felt where the most important points there.]

Oh Lordie, I do see how I worry/am concerned about one of my family members and their relationship to money and that this fault is greater in myself.  

The Dalai Lama spoke on each of the 37 practices of a bodhisattva and he wrote one line very succinctly which says it all, “We must try to conquer our own illusions rather than those we ‘think’ we see in others.”—pg 101, Essential Teachings

Most of what I come up with while investigating the meaning of practice 32 relates to infighting amongst various schools of Buddhism criticizing each other or student’s critiquing other students or teachers.

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DIVINATION ~ MESSAGE

Through examining this practice as it applies to my own life experience I can see how I am repulsed and disgusted with Christians to are always quoting scriptures.  Yet, am I not right here and now quoting Buddhist scriptures in the same way?

Buddhist teachings are helping me a good deal but I must remember that Christian teachings are in the same way helping those humans who, like me, are only hoping to be better humans and grow and evolve and become a better compassionate and loving soul—a bodhisattva!

Oh, and on that relationship to money thing… better go look at the bills I’ve been avoiding looking at and work on ‘my own’ illusion!

Enlightenment Practice #30 of the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva Including Divination

Shantideva (who wrote A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life AKA Bodhicaryavatara
Shantideva (who wrote A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life AKA Bodhicaryavatara

The humble monk (Ngulchu Thogme) wrote the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva it in a cave in the Himalayas around the 13th century.  It’s a guide for travelers on the path to enlightenment—practically advice on how to actually live day-to-day.  Are you trying to consciously travel this path?   Me too; c’mon let’s figure this out!

So like I’ve been saying how I’m going to write about the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva (guidance to live by). You know the Dalai Lama? He is said to be the Bodhisattva of Compassion incarnate. Oh, to be like him! Anyway, I’ve got (like most of you) about 1,000 coals-in-the-fire-of –life’ as the saying goes (busy/whatever) but I want to get started here. So I’m writing numbers from 1 to 37 onto 37 small slips of paper and have now put them in a small basked. I will draw one at a time and write about that one while asking that it bring importance guidance for something currently relating to my life on the day the number is drawn!  Ready?

Divination Message 3/16/13 from the Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva:  Today I’ve drawn Practice Number 30!  I don’t know these by heart, so I’ve got to grab the book and have a look; let’s together see what it says.  I guess you already know that a bodhisattva (essentially) is someone who wants to work for enlightenment not only for their own benefit but for the benefit of others in order to end suffering.  You probably already knew that.

Bodhisattva Practice #30

Reading and typing and divining as we go along here… right away I see it’s about virtue with heart.  Maybe this is about putting our whole heart into attempts to be virtuous?

Gosh, I’m remembering (flashing on) something my “spirit-guides” (as it goes) conveyed and at the time (as I did with many things then), I shrugged and felt it to be too simplistic.  You know, I was looking for something more profound after all—I was looking for something really sensational when I asked why I was here and what my purpose is.  I was told we are here to develop and practice virtue—I completely blew that off back then.  Yet, divine irony of irony, here I am studying the 37 Practices and Buddhism and that’s exactly what it’s about!

As I look at this little book of Essential Teachings (the one I carried unknowing with me for 6-weeks –see previous blog—which is the writing of the Dalai Lama himself), he’s talking about having the “right view”.  The word “view” in Buddhism (email me if I’m wrong if you’re a Buddhist monk or someone more expert than myself a humble student) has to do with understanding the nature of reality and the 8-fold path.

“Right View” as they call it has to do with the type of wisdom that has to do with understanding of things as they are which of course has to do with those 4 main truths:  there’s suffering, get real about it and then understand what causes it and the good news is that there’s a way to end it *(yay!) and following the 8-fold path enables us create that cessation.  And back to the 8 fold path again of which right view is a part.  Didn’t we just make a circle, a loop—right view leads back to right view. Ingenious!

Hey, by the way, thanks for being patient while I work through this.

Not to let all the cats out of the bag at once creating confusion but the 8 fold path (just as a preview and curiosity satisfy-er) and no, I’m not going into all this right now but they are as follows:  right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness and right concentration.  But hey, let’s just stick with the view for the moment—right view.  And let’s get back to the #30 practice of a Bodhisattva.

The Dalai Lama the guru teacher here says that this view in practice #30 has to do with realizing that the person who acts in any kind of way to do any kind of thing or who takes any action +plus the action itself that is taken +plus the person who may receive the action that we take don’t (in the right view) actually inherently exist.  Wow, that’s a tough one to explain to the average bear on the street human if you know what I mean!

This IS samsara after all, don’t you know?  This is a dream-like state of reality.  That is what we’re being asked to remember.  Things exist on a conventional level but ultimately—no, they don’t.  It’s really not that hard to understand with the new science where we look at atoms and the core of the atom itself doesn’t even exist only if we put our mind on it.  You know what I mean!?  You’ve heard this!  The chair you sit on or the table or any object is solid according to our perceptions but it is because the vibration is very, very, very slow.  On the quantum physics microscopic level (hope I said that right), it’s nothing but energy molecules vibrating—just a bunch of atoms which are empty at their very core!

So, let’s say you give someone a gift, you could say something like, “There is no giver, no action of giving, no gift, and no receiver of the gift”—that’s ultimate truth.  Conventionally, there is all that, but ultimately NO.  So that’s the right view of things which, if you think about it, is quite liberating and there’s a part of us that says, “Okay, I get that and now I can tell myself to stop worrying about every little thing!”  Or  that’s one view you could take and it would be ‘ultimately’ right, correct, on the quantum or ultimate level.

Whew!  Hope that makes sense.  The bottom line of this practice is:  No subject, No object.

So, what do we do?– we practice this.  We hold this in our mind and remember it and function in life with this view right alongside conventional reality—to practice this it changes our behaviors, our attitudes, and we become a teacher of the dharma (phenomenon and the truth of phenomenon) by our very being via our life being witnessed by others.

Right view is called the word “prajna” in Buddhist teachings.   If we get this one thing, in my humble opinion, it is the best thing we can understand and it really answers most any question we have about life and addresses any concern.  Upset? Worried or fearful?  Remember practice #30 of The 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva – understand the emptiness of reality and shazam, this right view just calms it all right down for ya’!  Totally and fer’ real as they say! What is real isn’t real—totally dude! Samsara is an illusion.

Another way of saying it since this practice #30 is the 6th of the Six Paramitas (more on that another time)… the 30th is about cultivating  “non-conceptual superior knowledge” and in the words of the monk himself or at least one common translation:


Without superior knowledge,
it is not possible to attain perfect enlightenment through the first five paramitas alone. Therefore, joining it with skillful means and not conceptualizing about the three spheres is the practice of a Bodhisattva.

And another translation:

Since five perfections without wisdom cannot bring perfect enlightenment, along with skillful means cultivate the wisdom that does not conceive of the three spheres [as real].

Note to reader:  the three spheres in Buddhism are 1) self 2) other and 3) connecting action.

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THE DIVINATION

Now.  How can I apply this personally in my own daily life?  Ha!  I’m reminded lately of the story of the monk who, so inspired by teachings on generosity, gave away his worldly possessions, two of which included his food bowl and his shoes!  Since his generosity was not accompanied by wisdom he had to ask for them back when it came time to eat and then to go somewhere!  I was very inspirit-ed to work with generosity yesterday in my efforts to be an ‘active’ Bodhisattva!  In other words, it is one thing to wish all beings be relieved of suffering and I do that plenty but what about “putting one’s money where one’s mouth is?”—as the saying goes.

I did that to the point of pain yesterday—giving when it doesn’t hurt really doesn’t count in my book.  If you’re going to give, make it a bit of a sacrifice at least!  So with that attitude, I did so in a fairly large way; in fact, I gulped hard several times in the process thinking, “Yike, I hope I’m not being like the monk who gave away his bowl.”–!!

And today’s Bodhisattva Practice 30 is a great message for me (using the 37 practices as divination messages here)!

I’m being reminded that the 3 spheres of giver, gift and receiver are not ultimately real; self, other and connecting action don’t exist;  and to remember this and embrace it is a practice of a Bodhisattva! 

The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva – Reach Up from the Mud of Samsara – The Deeper in the Mud, the More Beautiful the Lotus Blooms

The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva – Another Attempt to Reach Up from the Mud of Samsara

Can we really do this?

The more deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms.  How deep in the mud are you?
The more deeper the mud, the more beautiful the lotus blooms. How deep in the mud are you?

Something is being encouraged on deeper levels and something wants to reach up out of the mud of samsara (life/earth living/the illusion of the suffering of this dimension) and is growing and reaching toward the Sun like the Lotus (the flower associated with Buddhism).

The Universe, the Light of Divine Intelligence, the Harmony of Helios or however you want to name it, but some energy encourages this, as it always does and I even carried that encouragement around in my purse/handbag for nearly 5 weeks without realizing it!

And yesterday!  Yesterday I received a reply email communication from a Tibetan Lama (the real Lama, not a secretary!)—my ego is impressed—in which the parting line was, “May all beings benefit from your practice of the dharma!”  And my mind and body froze as if they were my marching orders from the head spiritual warrior!—or something like that.  I felt the directive, the dictate, the command, the instruction, and the order deep within my heart, mind and soul.

“Deny samsara and help others do the same!”–  Aye aye Captain!  I was being given my marching papers or assigned my official mission from a Lama!  Ha!  And the Lama was probably simply just using a phrase to close the email with a customary, “May all beings benefit from your practice of the dharma!”  Sounds like a simple wish to end an email with like “sincerely” or “may you have a nice day”– but for me it stopped my breath and my world for a moment as I swallowed hard and felt like, “Okay, this is IT.” And it’s time to get dead serious about it too!  Especially since each day we get closer by-the-day to those final marching orders too.

Anyway, “dharma” is a word used to describe the teachings—practicing the dharma is doing the spiritual practices, following the teachings of Buddha who—and this is the part I love—said firstly that transformation of the mind is what is needed to alleviate suffering but most importantly he recommends examining the teachings carefully and objectively in order to know if it is something we can work with or live by or adopt.  And secondly, if we do accept the teaching it is because we have done the (here comes my favorite phrase)… we have done the observation and correlation of the teaching.  We apply it and see if there’s any truth to it through our own objective life experience and then if it turns out to be helpful and works for us, then (and only then) do we accept it as part of our own truth.  Then, thirdly, we have the responsibility to put it into practice—to live the teaching.

When we do this, we create “bodhichitta” which is the mind of awakening or the enlightened mind that strives toward compassion for the benefit of all sentient (living) beings. It is a sudden and lasting compassion for all beings, accompanied by a falling away of the attachment to the illusion of an inherently-existing self.  That last part is a kicker and I’ve been working on that one for some good long time now but since the purse-thing, finding that I’ve been carrying around the help for weeks now, is another strong synchronizing “hint” of encouragement.

One day shortly after I broke my toe (don’t ask) and while accompanying my daughter on some errands found myself at our local Goodwill store looking at the dusty old book section (no surprise, right?)  Lo and behold I found a little book with a picture of the Dalai Lama on the front and the book was entitled “Essential Teachings”.  Next thing you know my daughter calls out, “C’mon Mom we’re ready to go, are you ready?”  Making my way to the checkout I pay something like 50 cents for the book, slide it into my purse/handbag and forgot about it.

In the meanwhile, 6 weeks later here, I’m watching a DVD of a Buddhist Lama teaching the Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva and although it wasn’t the first time I viewed it, and even though I have a good number of Buddhist books on the shelf in my apartment (and have read every one!), this time something really caught hold of me.  That Lama seemed to explain it so well this time when I listened–and it was the very same Lama who gave me my mission via the email signature!

I’ve read the translations of The Middle Way:  Nargajuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika and a number of books like it including quite few on Mahamudra.  We also have ‘A Guide to the Boddhisattva Way of Life” by Shantideva to name a few.  And I’ve spent hour upon hour viewing of teachings on DVD of the Dalai Lama on these very topics and teachings.  This is conveyed, least you think that the path is very new–I’ve been traveling this way for a while and integrating Buddhism gradually.  Anyway, so much for history…

His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet
His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet

A few days ago, I thought to blog about the Thirty Seven Practices (dharma teachings) to help myself and others—although I should have phrase that the other way around I suppose; but you get the idea.  And from that thought, I began to wish to have these practices written down in a simple form just the way the Lama spoke about them. Well, I thought, why not look to see what’s out there from the Lama of Lamas:  His Holiness the Dalai Lama of Tibet!  He says things so simply and he makes everything so easy to understand!

I could not find anything online and then had to stop my search anyway to go pick up my niece from her High School Driver’s Education Class.  I didn’t want to be late.  Once I got there,  putting the car in park, and taking a breath, then found myself wishing I had a book along with me to read while I waited for my niece.

Then (light bulb turns on in the mind!) remembering that I had that old book from the Goodwill Store—the one I’d paid 50 cents for so many weeks ago—I smiled and pulled it out.  I looked at the chapter headings and felt so moved and smiled  from my heart seeing how this book by the Dalai Lama contains 37 chapters–each chapter being one of the 37 practices explained in his own simple words!  There it was, just exactly what I was looking for and I had it with me all along.  When the student is ready, the teacher… well, you know.

So I will be working with these now and blogging about them.   Time’s up for now.  If you follow along with future blogs, maybe (just maybe) we can do more to further create a ‘mind of awakening’ as we practice the dharma here.

“May all beings benefit from my practice of the dharma”–just like the Lama says!

Working the graveyard shift of your mind and advice from a spiritual teacher on triggers

ARCHANGEL MICHAELI heard a spiritual teacher once say something very encouraging– in reference to the Native American story that you’ve likely already heard – about the white wolf and the dark wolf inside of us.  Here is the story for quick review if you’ve never heard it:

A Cherokee Legend

An old Cherokee is teaching his grandson about life. “A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves. One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.” He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

 The encouragement from the spiritual teacher is that –well, first of all my own observation.  I see the dark wolf in myself and of course in others; but seeing it in my self is the most painful and disheartening.  It is dispiriting to see others feeding the dark wolf also; and it is for these who have no knowledge of their actions whatsoever that can evoke greatest compassion.  And I say this without a grain of self-righteousness being intended.

I recognize in my past the states of being totally asleep as to which wolf was being fed (to continue with the Native American teaching example)—not to mention knowing that there were two wolves in the first place!  Ignorance is bliss only temporarily for eventually awakening (whether in this lifetime or the next) awakening is bound to eventually occur.

And when that awakening does begin to happen one can be filled with great regret—we see unflattering and embarrassing things about ourselves then and that usually happens at 2 am or throughout half the night!  It all bubbles up and there are, at least in my own experience, cycles or layers of time between these realizations about how the dark wolf was fed—sometimes knowingly and sometimes unknowingly.  The light shines upon our awareness and what we were not conscious of or about (because we were busy feeding the wrong wolf) suddenly comes squarely before us.  We don’t want to look because it is painful.

And sometimes this is where people turn to anything to rid themselves of the pain of sorrow or regret over their mistakes.  Who knows how long this process takes—lifetimes maybe, who knows?  But when we get to the point where we have to acknowledge the two truths, the two wolves, that is when we become awakened or fully conscious of ego and how it operates.

However, even when we ‘are’ conscious and aware of feeding the wrong wolf, there is a period in which we cannot seem to stop ourselves—due to habit (brain patterns/proclivities), prior soul wounds, due to the wiring of our psyche for whatever reason, even when we are conscious that we are doing it and we know we are feeding the wrong wolf we do it anyway!

Now what?  I see this in my self.  I am conscious that the wound has taken over (again) and aware that I am reacting in the old patterned ways which, after all, are only for the purpose of wanting to avoid pain and I see myself doing it anyway!  This is called, in some circles, responding in a patterned way to the trigger!

But now the difference is that we are aware we are doing it and that awareness is 99.999% of the battle that the spiritual warrior fights.  The encouraging news from the spiritual teacher is that success is guaranteed once awareness occurs.  And if you think about it, that makes sense.  Once you know—you know and can no longer ‘not know’.  Once you are conscious, you are conscious and can no longer ‘not be conscious’.  Oh yeah, we can try and that’s called denial but in the end we become conscious of that too—it just causes more pain.

Again, what do we do?  One thing is that this can bring us into great feelings of compassion for ourselves and for others and the general human condition.  We can see in others the struggle they are suffering through because we are currently or have been in that same struggle.  For those who have no level of consciousness about feeding any wolf at all (totally asleep)—and these are often (but not always) the folks that seem to trigger us in the first place—we can have great compassion for them but first we must create that compassion for our own self.  (Both at the same time really in many cases I think.)

What I do is go quiet when triggered and since I’ve moved closer to family and since financial demands have been greater all with impositions on time and energy (well, who amongst us does NOT have concerns like these?)—however, the point being that I’ve been triggered every which way but loose and old ghosts of the past are knocking at the door asking to be fed again!  Each one wanting, no demanding, something different—in moments it becomes overwhelming.  And I’ve had to watch myself dealing with the two wolves—some days more successfully than others; yet always aware.

And again that’s the good news—once we are aware we are guaranteed success but then the success becomes challenged again over and over.  More good news is that we can relax about that too once we know it is simply life and impermanent and always changing!  Like my mother’s wisdom goes:  Hang in there, it won’t last.  I add, hang in there and remain aware, conscious.  Don’t let the dark wolf take over completely by going into denial because eventually that, too, will need to be brought to the light of consciousness and again usually at 2 or 3 in the morning!

So often I think of the people of Tibet and the Dalai Lama and that suffering and the example of the refusal to feed the dark wolf that His Holiness has demonstrated and how much discipline, courage and compassion this required of him individually.  Yesterday was human rights day 2012 and still Tibet is not free; it is heartbreaking if we let our mind take us there… and to be more like the Dalai Lama in the face of that the Chinese takeover that his country suffered… well, he continues to be the example for me.  The Buddhists train themselves purposefully to handle intense fear and to handle death by contemplating both.  I sometimes think of the charnel training that some developing monks are sent by their teachers to do.

I’ve read about this numerous times and heard it referred to in documentaries and so my sensitivity to this is not as strong as it is would be if I were hearing about this the first time.  So this may be a bit shocking to the reader who does not know of this.  That high in the Himalayas the ground is often too frozen to have an actual ground burial when someone dies and burning bodies is not practical because of the situation with trees.  Therefore, the way that the bodies are dealt with after death involve feeding them to the vulcher birds and wild animals after the charnel ground workers chop up the bodies. The charnel ground is much like a very exposed grave yard and to be there at all one is to face great fear from many levels as you can imagine (body parts everywhere and all that) but to be there at night… the monks send the students there to learn to deal with highly intense emotion using various tools of the mind.  Sometimes I wonder if this is why folks get themselves so attracted to graveyard ghost chasing experiences and freakish paranormal phenomenon fascinations and magnetisms.  I wonder if they are not trying to induce their own somewhat milder charnel ground experience in order to teach themselves to remain calm during intense situations—or some degree of this somehow.  I don’t know.  Probably some of that is dark wolf stuff too; we shouldn’t make a blanket statement there.

I’ve heard it said that everyone is (in some way) is either trying to avoid pain or induce pleasure.  I’d like to think we’re a bit more sophisticated than that; but perhaps not. Life is sometimes pleasurable and sometimes painful all on its own.  The question is can we be with it either way without fanning either flame or feeding either wolf?  Can we just sit with that—can we sit with whatever it is that comes up in the charnel ground of life even though the whole time we hear the calls of the hungry dark wolf?  He will quiet down and wander off if we just give it a little time—or so that has been my experience.

twowolvesI think to withdraw and not react for a while until you know how you want to react even if it takes months to make peace with it all—a better alternative than its opposite. Then, of course, we see how life is such a balance of up’s and down’s and irritations and joys and we don’t need to necessarily over-react to any of it.  But if we do over react and are aware we are doing so… the bottom line encouragement is to take heart because once the awareness is there, the good quality we want to substitute will eventually take hold.  Will we ever stop being triggered?  Probably best to expect that we always will be but our response to the trigger, with enough charnel ground practice, will be something we are less attached to.  And then I think too we can trust our response by not labeling it good or bad; we can say that we are acting consciously and in the end maybe that is the best any of us can do.  And that’s staying awake.   Being too strict with ourselves or too forgiving with ourselves–neither one is favorable as Buddha taught.  The middle path is best.  We have to love both wolves but not let either take over!

My own intuition was working as a guide last night when after doing yoga stretches on the floor and being at eye level with the bottom bookshelf (a row of Buddhists books), I noticed a strong attraction to one of the books.  I looked at it for a long time just allowing myself to be sure of the pull from the book; my eyes just kept going back to it in my post-yoga relaxation phase.  Without my glasses on, I could not see the title.  I took it off the shelf, retrieved my glasses to find that the name of the book is The Fundamental Wisdom of the Middle Way – Nagarjuna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika (yes, the last word is really that long and when pronounced  is very beautiful IMHO).  I’m reading some other books and doing my own writing, but there’s something in this book I’m about to revisit!

Day #8 Fireball in the Duck Pond and Compassion when Aries meets Pisces

“I feel that the moment you adopt a sense of caring for others, it brings you inner strength. Inner strength brings inner tranquility, greater self-confidence. Because of such attitudes, even when things going on around you seem hostile and negative, you can still sustain your peace of mind.”

 – Dalai Lama

I’m an imperfect soul—but then you already knew that.  I’ve been laser focused, committed and moving forward.  It’s Day #8.  The Moon was in Aries today as she was yesterday when the fireball (Aries is a fire sign) in my consciousness (I was moving right along getting ‘er done, as we say)… anyway, when my fireball landed in a Pisces (air-head, confusion type) duck pond! 

I could feel myself beginning the process of inner-raging at someone who represented a duck in a duck pond and there we were with a consciousness to deal with that was a mix of corporate-we-have-our-rules consciousness blended with an inability-to- focus-on-a-conversation-without-distracting-myself-mind.   My Aries Fireball Consciousness had a hard time handling that other mind without feeling impatient and frustrated.

This individual is of my generation too and I’m a little embarrassed to say so!  C’mon, we may be getting old but heck can’t we still function?  I had the distinct feeling that I was talking to someone who had one too many sedatives and could only function in the world inside the corporate box.  “Quack, quack, quack, quack-quack-quack!” 

Maybe she has a high muckety-muck nephew running the corporation but no matter how it is, I let my fireball go out in her duck pond.  And that was MY fault. 

There was a sizzle and then a flat line.  Quick, code blue, get the paddles, CLEAR…. Charge again!   I recovered.  Nobody had to call it.

I’m back at it again today but will focus my energy in a different direction.  Going to give that situation over to the Angels and other friends of Light to handle for me—got to let that go.  Too many other things to do! 

Meanwhile, as things go, I will contemplate yesterday’s duck pond event and ask myself if this la-la-land lady is some kind of reflection of my own self; O please, I hope not.  But I will have to examine that. More than less, I’m feeling like the whole event was me assuming and standing in a new kind of power within myself and seeing how quickly I can go into despair and fear (but yesterday more like frustration because despair and fear took off down the road so-to-speak when my Aries fireball hit the duck pond).  The sizzling noise of the duck pond water meeting the fireball sent my old friends dispair and fear running!  (Higher Mind speaks:  Joy’s inner-power has been cranked up a few notches and those old energies left town–and only minor frustration and impatience remain.  She’s handling those appropriately.)

Since my last report there has been a lot of progress.  Magic has happened.  A number of things that could have potentially been problems magically haven’t been—it’s been easy, smooth.  And as major things fall into place so easily, each one that does reinforces that I’ve made the right choice with this commitment. 

Yesterday was a minor bump in the road.  However, I was reminded that there are still many levels of consciousness (think Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs) and the world has blind rule followers—we would find most of them in church on Sunday morning.  I’d forgotten how inhumane corporate mind can be and how rule followers throw common sense humanity out the window as they bow to the almighty rule.  But then what makes anyone do what they do?  I mean what’s the motivation?  Like the Dalai Lama says, everyone is trying to avoid suffering and is seeking happiness.  Perhaps the confused, unfocused old rule-follower that I spoke with yesterday has her own fears – maybe common sense was lost along the way as dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s became the master. 

Compassion and understanding for the duck in the duck pond and my self will be the order of the day.  I will not permit it to overshadow and outweigh the magical synchronistic door-opening events of that have occurred since my last blog post. 

Here’s an example:

I ♥ love this! ♥ I couple of nice mountain farmer type gentlemen (I think they were Ascended Masters in disguise; but that’s me)… anyway, they helped me with something yesterday and in return I offered my two recently potted evergreens–the Indian Hawthorns that I lovingly potted last month. THEN this morning, here’s the “message from the universe” from tut.com that I received… I love how the universe works and how today’s message relates back to … well, I looked out back and sort of missed my missing hawthorn’s this morning and returning my attention to my email, opened this message that soooooooo relates:
“Take it from the farmer in me, Joy…
The more seeds you sow, the more plants we’ll grow.
I love wearing overalls,
— The Universe”

I will hold the Dalai Lama quote (at the top of this post)  very close today!