Revive or Release? Review your most cherished core beliefs – a New Year’s Clarity Exercise

Getting clarity in 2015 despite the ego not wanting to appear to be ‘the fool’

Core-BeliefsThe mind holds beliefs and the ego/personality wants consistency and doesn’t want to appear ‘The Fool’ even to itself; therefore , a result of this can relate to how we tend to follow our own habitual ways of thinking without changing them.

We can then start appearing a bit delusional to others because the ego unchallenged and unaccustomed to letting go enough to examine a belief (stories) can be really thick.

Again, ego/personality wants consistency and status quo and prefers not to change because to change may mean we’ve been wrong which horrifies that part of us.

However, if we have the courage to question those core beliefs it can be a huge relief.

Yet, we can (at first) become shocked, angry, and unsettled especially when we realize these ideas that we’ve been anchoring into were only stories that we told our self.  Again, to let go of those stories represents inconsistency and this frightens the ego/personality part of the psyche.

What happens when we do question and release some of those beliefs that need to be discharged is that we experience a huge relief and real liberation.  It’s like when you’ve been holding something in your hand or in your arms for or a very long time and when you get to put it down—ahhh, what relief.  Right?

In doing psychic work sometimes I see folks who hold one particular belief about the spirit world that affects every aspect of what they do; but it causes confusion because that belief doesn’t square with all other experiences.  They may call me hoping I will validate a belief that they are trying to be consistent with but doesn’t resonate fully anymore.  I see how they struggle with it not wanting to change the habitual thought and  how they go back to clinging to it and then letting it go again—it takes courage to open your mind sometimes.   It can be frightening, shocking and very unsettling when one’s reality shifts suddenly.

There’s no need to berate one’s self after seeing the light–it is best to see it as a necessary part of the path and the process of growth and evolution.

Another example.  I knew a person who as an adult well into her 40’s blurted out one day that her aged mother was responsible for her lifelong and current overeating problem because her mother overfed her as a baby.  She was serious about this lifelong belief and when I did a double-take and repeated back to her what she had just said because I could hardly believe my ears she became momentarily enraged and shouted back, “Well, who else’s fault would it be?”  This is a true story and really drives home the point that I’m writing about.  This individual had, obviously, never questioned her own assumption and carried it for decades.  It could speak to an overall tendency to blame others, not take responsibility in other areas of life too.  I don’t know if she has let it go fully or if she is still holding it but hopefully you get the point I’m trying to make through this example–we hold to the strangest beliefs sometimes without realizing it.

It’s the New Year 2015 and we’re one week in now so I thought it to be a good exercise for myself to sit down and write down on a steno pad my deepest-held core beliefs and examine them.  This of course requires bare-bones honesty and deep contemplation.

I used the 12 houses of astrology to list 12 areas of life and then to examine those, asking myself if any could be erroneous or ridiculous beliefs I’m still holding or that I’ve outgrown.

Going through this exercise is radical because it really makes you come face-to-face with what ‘you’ believe and it may be an eye-opening experience helping you to see the points-of-view which you’ve held that you may not even have been aware you were holding.   Releasing those, I believe, is a way to help you on your way to enlightenment.

You may, through this exercise, see that you no longer agree with your old self and recognize inner conflicts which have been holding you back or keeping you from clarity and preventing you from being fully open to the grace of the universe.

If you wish to give this New Year’s exercise a whirl, here are 12 life categories you may like to use to stimulate your review.

My suggestion is that for each category, ask yourself what is your most cherished core belief.  These categories are based on the 12 houses of astrology.

Some of the houses hold more than one basic category or meaning.  The suggestion is to select the one category from each house that seems most significant for you. This is a good exercise to come back to, perhaps starting with one house category on one day and the next on another.  All categories or areas don’t have to be accomplished all at one sitting.

Some beliefs you may wish to keep holding which  will serve to rededicate your values; but others may need to be laughed at and sent out of your mind and heart and on their way!

The 1st houset: the self, demeanor, physical body, public image, and vitality.

The 2nd house: money earned and material goods; what is valued; issues of survival and self-reliance

The 3rd house: immediate surroundings, siblings, short trips, left brain/intellect, communication

The 4th house:  self-image, family, home, origins, heredity, and the nurturing parent

The 5th house: creativity, love matters, pleasure, leisure, children, self-expression

The 6th house: everyday life/routine, daily work (job) and colleagues, mentors, small animals/pets and health

The 7th house: relating to others, partnerships, other people

The 8th house: power/control issues, psychology, occult, passions and crises, transformations, death, financial investments, inheritance, other people’s money and sexuality

The 9th house: philosophy, long distance travels, abstract and higher concepts (right brain), religion, and foreign matters.

The 10th house:  social success, professional destiny/career, authoritative parent

The 11th house: friends, collective projects, supports and wounds

The 12th house: spirituality, what is hidden,   difficulties, solitude

If you do work with this exercise and find it helpful, I’d love to hear from you.

You can email me:  joystar777@gmail.com.

 

The Nature of the Mind – The Nature of Reality – The Fascinating Study of Enlightenment and the Karma of Ego

nature of the mind

This is IT for me, you know?  Contemplating the nature of the mind and reality makes it all bearable.  No.  Not right.   Much more than bearable; it makes life a total celebratory event.

You see, we all think (or feel) that we have our own personal single mind that is so very real because it experiences and recognizes things.  Yet, how often (if ever) do we stop and examine those experiences that the mind thinks are so real?  Break them apart, open them up, see what’s there at the core–do people do that?

Trauma or crisis can help us contemplate this type of thing (or not)–happiness too; any intense experience.   Many times doing that drives us to addictive distraction instead of some level of enlightenment and joy.  But if we really examine the experiences that the mind is having and we do so carefully, and we really contemplate this experience that this mind has and we look for that mind that has this crisis or happy experience, we cannot find a single thing!  Not one single thing but a blend of many components that we call “consciousness’.    It’s NOT YOU!

Here’s what I mean–there is no solid mind or self at the core of the experience or no real experience-ER.  I know, it sounds crazy if you’ve never thought about it but give me a chance to explain.

Consciousness has many various components–parts!  You know like a car, a vehicle has many components, parts–engine, tires, frame, door and so forth.  Is not our mind and our consciousness the same?  Consciousness has awareness of visual objects (forms, shapes, colors) and then there is awareness of sound, touch (tactile consciousness), taste consciousness and all these are separate parts or functions of the mind.  It’s like the car analogy–separate parts, gas tank, gas pedal, speedometer, steering wheel and so forth.

Consider the experience of anything for a moment–it doesn’t have to be crisis or trauma.  Anything.  Happy experience let’s say.  If we consider that each type of consciousness recognizes a particular field of experience (sound awareness or consciousness recognizes sound and visual consciousness is aware of shapes and colors of forms)… if we consider this as part of any experience we see that each of the types of consciousnesses function in an independent way from the others.

So the mind is a blend of consciousnesses and not one single unit or not one single, unitary thing.  Rather it is a compound object just like the car, the vehicle.

There are said to be six consciousnesses and in some books I’ve read there are eight.  And one of those eight include the consciousness which clings to the notion of EGO or “I”.  And another consciousness that is part of what we think of as “me” is called ground consciousness — and I wrote about this a week or so ago.  

The ground consciousness  stores information from all other levels of consciousness and accumulated past lives.  You can see how this level of mind would easily support the idea of an individual identity called “me”.  It would seem so ‘real’ but it is a grouping of consciousness; a grouping of experiences.

To explain further, it is fairly easy to grasp that the visual consciousness perceives objects–that’s the potential of the visual consciousness.  If you look at a red cloth, you see red.  If you look at snow on a mountain, you see white.  We are able also, quite obviously, to see things in succession–first seeing one thing and then the next with one thing disappearing and the next thing appearing in consciousness.  So visual consciousness is multiple and successive and has the potential to see many things at once and so is not single or solitary or one thing.  Nor is it one single solitary unit of time.

strawberry fields foreverEven if we could isolate a single solitary unit of time, it would only occur within the framework of ongoing consciousness because awareness is never static–its fluid.  So every moment has to relate to a previous moment and a future moment—meaning, it is not any more singular than we ourselves are.  The future moment is the present being the past in relation to it.  Yeah, I know that last sentence is pretty deep; but the point is that time is not solid, solitary and static and neither is consciousness and neither are we!  

There is no single unit of identifiable reality in either the external world of appearances or in the subjective mind.  Even space does not have a fundamentally real, inherent existence. Space is not a compound, and does consist of various parts like the car or like our mind.  Space is not a thing–it seems to exist but it is the negation of a particular appears of anything else.  Even the space in a room only exists because of the walls–take away the walls and the space that you thought existed in the room is not there and only depended upon the walls around it to appear as if it existed.

So the whole point in this blog post brings me to the point of liberation–even if I can’t fully understand it all in a way to describe it in words; in an experiential way I’ve known this truth from meditation…   it’s all true.

For example, in a contemplative meditation last evening, I tried to find… well, I asked, “Where is Joy?  Where am I located?”  It took less than a nano-second to realize I’m not my body and once you get past that basic truth, look for the location and you will find it’s everywhere!  And now here!  and nowhere!

And this, my friend, helps me to chill-ax (chill out and relax) and to see the humor in it all…. appearances are empty forms!  And again, quoting the Beatles once more, in the Strawberry Fields song, “Nothing is real; and it’s nothing to get hung about.”  

DEDICATION:  May this post help another in a way that is in divine order when they come upon this post–for this is my true intent in writing it today!  

On the Life Path: Boulders, Vows, Evaluating Goals, Tarot 7 of Swords, Wood Bethony, and Buddhism

Imagine standing at the edge of a forest and  you want to reach the other side...
THE FOREST OF LIFE!  Imagine standing at the edge of a forest and you want to reach the other side…

Imagine standing at the edge of a forest, and that you want to reach the other side. 

Would you walk a straight line through it? Or, might the path meander in every possible direction, around boulders, between trees, along a stream, feeding the deer, conversing with the owls, and roasting marshmallows? 

Yeah, every possible direction, because this is how things are in a forest. 

Tree! 
    The Universe

[the clever lines above received by email this morning from tut.com]

I’d just been thinking such a similar set of mental phrases.  I sure am going the long way around wherever I’m going — and I quit trying to second-guess the ultimate destination a while back.  I adapted the attitude of one of my teachers who said, “… you go where you’re sent in life.”

Today I am also thinking of the Bodhisattva  vow:  May I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings.  May my action bodhichitta grow

Yeah, okay.  I’m doing my best–so don’t laugh!  And I seem to be meandering around a few boulders in the forest of life  this year in general and this week most recently, but as my grandmother used to say “little by little” progress is made. So T-minus 4 days to take off!  The next move is in 4 days and some final cleaning took place here in the kitchen yesterday and the skin on my fingertips are a  bit raw to prove it.  Never have gotten used to cleaning using rubber gloves.  Clumsy and too much time taking them on an off as I’m pulled in other directions while cleaning–take answering the phone  for one example.

Where is the ultimate destination?  I don’t know!  But I’m willing to let that be okay.  I’ve located a number of possible paths and applied for the hiking permit (so-to-speak, speaking symbolically) and we’ll see what opens up.

Meanwhile, I have two small mirrors to un-anchor from the wall and some things to drive over to storage before the end of the week, aside from that, I don’t know what more I can do as I’ve always applied that girl scout motto:  BE PREPARED

My trip to the rental office yesterday was productive in that I was able to tie up the loose ends and end the confusion about final notices and paperwork:  there was a change of staff right in the midst of the apartment change.  (Long story–don’t ask.)  All’s well that ends well and I’m ending my association with this particular apartment about as well as I can do it.

So on to the next adventure, around this boulder here in 4 days.  Maybe then I will see more clearly what’s ahead.  I think sometimes my vision is blocked for good reason–perhaps I’m being spared in some way and that’s a blessing.

As I sometimes do, let me pull a card and ask (reaching for my tarot cards)… let me ask what is ahead around this current boulder, perhaps the card will show me?  (I do love divination! but then I’m a psychic after all and should, right?)

For clarity sake, the boulder represents the current move into the new apartment with my sister.  What is beyond that?  At least for the near future–this is my question.  Near future representing let us say the next 6 months.  So here we go…  asking for just one card, just to get a feel for the energy beyond the T-minus 4 days….

7 of swords wood betony collage

Well, it’s the 7 of Swords.  Well first thing I get here is “confrontations being avoided” — and that may be a good thing.  The herb associated with this card is WOOD BETONY which some wear to avoid evil spirits.  That’s a bit dramatic.  Let’s just say that Wood Betony can help one release fearful visions of the future… that I’ll go with.   It helps with one’s nerves when used medicinally.  There’s some reference to hidden intentions and deceptions.  Sounds like honesty all around will be important on the other side of this boulder.

The affirmation for this card [according to the book] is:  “With a peaceful heart, I gather information and truth for my plans and goals.”

This card involves “keeping something to yourself”  and being a loner–like those blackbirds who keep to themselves and bow and then fly away when they see other birds.  (Just this past week many blackbirds have been coming to the feeder–highly unusual)  Blackbirds stay to them selves so much that it is said when you actually see two blackbirds together at once, it’s a good omen.

So this “keeping to one’s self” sounds like blackbird medicine advice.  This card is also about preferring solitude–and that of course is no secret about me.  This will likely not change is what the card is indicating.  This card involves “separation from others”.   And further, this card relates to self-reliance and using one’s own wits to solve problems and resources.

Boy O boy!  The feeling that I’m getting here is that my life won’t really change all that much from what it is now.  That “loner” and “self-reliant” energy that I carry (that blackbird energy) will not change.  That’s a comfort to me.

This card also carries a meaning that relates to “running away” in some way—and that has to do with confrontations being avoided in this case (or so it feels).  There’s a testy teenager who will be part of the household and since this card applies to my question about what is around the corner for me, the avoidance of confrontations (bow and fly away; blackbird energy) may be what this card indicates.  (Astrologically speaking:  If you’re an astrologer, this girl is a Leo Moon and Aries Sun with Saturn (in Aries)  in the 7th, Virgo rising–3rd house Pluto.  My Sun and Moon are  in her 1st house within orb of her Chiron.   Her Moon is on my 12th house Mars/Pluto/Saturn  stellium.  My sister is an very early Leo Sun and Aquarius Moon affecting her daughter’s 5th House Uranus.)  Yeah, that 7 of Swords and Blackbird loner stuff …. probably good advice.  A big message of the 7 of Swords has to do with the need to be calm and to keep things to yourself–I so get that.

I may re-evaluate my plans or goals once I get on the other side of the boulder too but meanwhile, I will meander just  as I have been through the forest of life and enjoy whatever is beyond the boulder or around the curve in the path.   Meanwhile, I will do my best to hold to my Bodhisattva vows and the 37 Practices.

I also may totally plan a get away camping trip for a week  or so in the mountains too, providing I have the increase in $$ to do so.   Anybody want to order a reading or sign up for my class?  🙂   Help!  LOL

Part of the Vow:

Just as all the previous Sugatas, the Buddhas
Generated the mind of enlightenment
And accomplished all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training,
So will I too, for the sake of all beings,
Generate the mind of enlightenment
And accomplish all the stages
Of the Bodhisattva training

This includes practice the “six perfections”:  giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom in order to attain enlightenment for the sake of all beings.

Apathy and indifference when caught between a rock and a hard place – Knight of Wands

knight of wands herbal tarotApathy and indifference!  How to “handle that” when there’s a lot to do and you don’t feel like doing it?  I drew a tarot card for insight.  I have packing to do and my heart’s not exactly in that–except when the guy downstairs play’s his guitar and sings like a dog howling at the Moon.  That’s motivation!  But back to the card I drew.  We all have times like that, don’t we?  Stuff to do and we don’t feel like it and know we will never feel like doing that thing–right?  Well, the KNIGHT OF WANDS brings guidance.  He’s indifferent and apathetic at times on his negative side but he also has great courage and he moves forward, although awkwardly.  All he needs is a cause… to create an attitude of service to others and then the apathy disappears.

Fire within—there has to be some type of desire that is stronger than what you don’t want to do.  I don’t want to go in the direction that I have chosen to go but I don’t want to maintain the current course either—that feels like being “between the rock and the hard place” as that saying goes.  I don’t want to go where I’m going but I don’t want to stay here either and I know that I have to go—must go and really DO want to go!  But where I’m going doesn’t seem all that enticing either.  But I know I will be helping someone and will be able to save money.  And it’s only temporary—that last part is what I need to keep remembering!

So I have to pack and there’s the pickle!  I drew a card for my apathy and indifference and lack of motivation about that.

It’s interesting that the herbal tarot connects this card [Knight of Wands] with MONKSHOOD which is actually a very poisonous plant.   It’s a metabolic stimulant and in small doses can be a used [Chinese medicine] for low metabolism.

Suddenly I think of using this apathetic indifference about packing as an athletic challenge—use it as a “work out”.  Make it exercise, work fast and it becomes nearly aerobic.  Yeah, okay—maybe that is something that I could use to change the attitude and motivate self.

What about selfless service? I  could think about how I will be helping my sister save money and how we will both be using less energy—conserving mother earth; things like that.  Yeah, maybe I could expand that and make it work as an antidote to my apathy and indifference about packing.

I can think about the guitar player neighbor downstairs and his howling with his guitar and how I’ll be rid of that aversion.

I can think about how poisonous this angry kid’s energy is and how getting away from that will be a good thing.

Determination is what is needed when this card comes up in reply to a question.  In this case, the question or concern is about my not wanting to do what I know I must—continue packing!

Between a rock and a hard place!  That’s how I feel.  I can’t stay and I feel resistance to going where I’m going.  Where did that phrase come from anyway?   Of course we know that it means, “In difficulty, faced with a choice between two unsatisfactory options.”  Just like “between the devil and the deep blue sea”.

Well, Knights [in tarot] like adventure and change!  Moving from the mountains in the first place was that indeed!  And another move will be adventure and change too—moving in with my LEO sister and ARIES niece!  If you know astrology then, yeah, beginning to see why the lack of motivation and apathy?  But the good news is neither of them plays guitar (same notes over and over and over) while howling like a dog at the Moon.  I must think of myself as a monk going into a monastery!  devote my time for the benefit of all sentient beings and do my best to create some merit, somehow.  Must review the 37 practices of a Bodhisattva!  Must be a better Buddhist!

I don’t think Ram Das really said this but there was a recent quote on Facebook that read, “If you think you’re enlightened, go spend a week with your family.”   Oh, enlightenment and initiations and packing and never mind all that because my daughter just texted me about going to the Y for a work out.

Didn’t want to pack anyway!  It’s a no brainer; I’m outa here!  I’ll pack some more later or another day!  I think about Monkshood and motivation and attitude while I swim and maybe come back with a better attitude.  Something.   For now, I’m outahere!

Fear can be the guru that helps awaken but will it ever go away? Dealing with fear and The Two Truths

What if it doesn't work out?
What if I don’t have enough?

Last evening after a ‘house-tidy’ and a glance at the bills and monies, that last part tickled and awakened ‘the familiars’ that rest in the stomach pit area; and while they are definitely weakening as I age, they don’t seem to cease entirely.  And maybe they never will.   I’ve learned to live with their now-and-again visits, those familiars!

What do those fear-familiars want?  I think to be acknowledged, recognized for the purpose of deeper realization and awakening.

“Okay”, I say, “but just for a little while and then I’m going out the door for a walk.”

I knew it would work–the walk. That was my intuition, my inner guide making that known.

It was a brisk, windy October night and it could not have been clearer to me that I needed to walk out the door after I dealt with them.

I think it was teacher Ajahn Chah who said that it is okay to get some control of where your mind goes by shouting at yourself.  I’m not into that exactly,  but I get the point he was trying to make about discipline of the mind–in fact I’ve been writing about that in my blog and newsletter lately.

What’s the point of being here in this reality in these (many times) trying circumstances?  And don’t’ forget we have beautiful experiences too which balance them out.   And actually the idea overall or what is recommended by the spiritual teachers is to take neither polarity too seriously, meaning the good or the bad–not getting attached to either one.  Good times, bad times—attach to neither.

Oh, here’s another example.  For instance, we can take love and hate–those polarities too.  We suffer if we attach too greedily to either emotion.  If we attach excessively to family, lovers and friends, when there is death or change (and there inevitably is—remember about impermanence?), this turns to suffering.  So that’s what I mean.  Not saying we shouldn’t love one another but not in extreme ways.

Well, getting back to it now….  the point of or purpose of these fear guru’s in our lives  (and yes, fear can be our teacher)  is to teach us—remind us really because we already know this but forgot—about the impermanence of life and those things that we over-identify with  which aren’t real yet when we think they are.  And that, in a nutshell, causes our suffering.

For me it always brings me back to the two truths of conventional and ultimate reality–with that understanding the mind becomes comfortable and at peace.

We, in our conversations with our fear, realize that we become attached to seeing our life a certain way and then we become attached to that view, you see?  We can explain that to our fears and they say, “Thank you, we simply forgot.”

Circumstances that are difficult help us to awaken; otherwise we would remain in blissful sleep.  Life difficulties help us to work through and work out those issues that keep us from developing virtue.

Yeah, and that reminds me of it.  Of what?  One of my early channeling sessions my communication was spirit involved my question—why are we here?  What’s the purpose?  And the answer I received seemed too simple then and I nearly discarded it but always kept it on a shelf in my mind and over the years with all my spiritual study and life experience (today I have reached my double 6 birthday, so I have a little of that)… anyway, in all that I’ve studied and lived that answer, being here to develop virtue, makes more-and-more sense.  It gets clearer every year—virtue.  Like what?  Well, patience is a virtue and what are some of the rest?

Well, here’s the great Benjamin Franklin’s list of virtues:

  1. TEMPERANCE. Eat not to dullness; drink not to elevation.
  2. SILENCE. Speak not but what may benefit others or yourself; avoid trifling conversation.
  3. ORDER. Let all your things have their places; let each part of your business have its time.
  4. RESOLUTION. Resolve to perform what you ought; perform without fail what you resolve.
  5. FRUGALITY. Make no expense but to do good to others or yourself; i.e., waste nothing.
  6. INDUSTRY. Lose no time; be always employ’d in something useful; cut off all unnecessary actions.
  7. SINCERITY. Use no hurtful deceit; think innocently and justly, and, if you speak, speak accordingly.
  8. JUSTICE. Wrong none by doing injuries, or omitting the benefits that are your duty.
  9. MODERATION. Avoid extremes; forbear resenting injuries so much as you think they deserve.
  10. CLEANLINESS. Tolerate no uncleanliness in body, clothes, or habitation.
  11. TRANQUILITY. Be not disturbed at trifles, or at accidents common or unavoidable.
  12. CHASTITY. Rarely use venery but for health or offspring, never to dullness, weakness, or the injury of your own or another’s peace or reputation.
  13. HUMILITY. Imitate Jesus and Socrates.

Well that gives you one idea–there are many virtues.

Developing the virtues is basically about being the best human you can be–which isn’t as easy as it sounds.  Anyway..,.

Going back to the topic here, let me add that it helps for me to think in terms of the reasons for what is happening; and so then I think difficulties are there to help awaken us to the ultimate reality, otherwise we may never get it.

So my glance at the bills and money situation ultimately caused a moment of remembering and deeper awakening thanks to the tea with the fear gurus.

And then I bounced down the steps and out the door into the night air, breathing deeply into the wind, shaking my shoulders.  I shook my head too in order to wobble and jiggle away the tears that had been forming behind the throat and eyes.

I walked into the darkness having another conversation…. this time with my inner guide, my wisdom guru.  Although I remained a bit unsteady emotionally for a while, that was further remedied by my guide (after our talk) then suggesting a pop-in surprise visit with my sister and niece.  So I walked to their door and knocked.   We caught up with things and then ordered pizza (which was not that good for my trim and slim goals) yet was totally and completely soul-satisfying.  I must say the Pizza Hut pineapple pizza was excellent and thoroughly enjoyed each bite!  So…
What’s the moral of the story?

I think that the old seeds and old fear habits are always there, but that’s not  “who we are” since essentially there is no self.  And because that is so, those seeds and habits are just life being what life is—the nature of human existence.

Our body and emotional nature contain those habits because we are human, but we don’t have to over-identify with it all.

Why?  Because ultimately there is no self.

But while we are here in human form we still make efforts to be the best human we can be.  How do we do that?  Where and when distress appears we do our best to transcend it.  It is called transcending the world and destroying delusions. 

“No mud, no lotus”—this is a saying that we could translate into “No fear/distress, no awakening”.   You disagree?  You say your life is nothing but total bliss and you’ve reached enlightenment 24-7?  Hmmmm….. give that one a bit more thought because you may be simply asleep.  Just sayen’.

Earth living and it’s downers are what keep us having realizations, keep us awake, help us to learn to breathe in and out in the present moment, releasing attachment, aversions, fears.  One does get to have time-outs, rest periods, of course; but then it seems to come again for us on deeper levels like peeling layers of an onion.

Don’t get too full of ego and mistake the rest and recovery period for enlightenment–through observation it seems to me that the universe loves nothing more than to crush smug ego’s.

Maybe that’s why those ‘familiars’ don’t seem to completely ever go away, they’re always there lurking–to help us stay aware, remain humble, and so that we do not fall into lazy patterns (see above paragraph).

But none of this is who I am… the “I AM” that is beyond, beyond, completely beyond just observes this and smiles.

Further, I don’t need to become attached either way and that’s where the peace is located–in that place of non-attachment.

No aversion, no attraction.

Yes, yes, we have to deal with that which everyone else (and a part of us) agrees is conventionally real, but ultimately none of it exists.  Outwardly we have to agree; after all, when my rent is due (which is the thought that started this blog post!), I cannot go into the rental office to tell the Lords of the Land that ultimately neither they, nor I, nor the apartment itself exists and therefore, I don’t need to pay my rent.  Outwardly I have to agree, but inwardly I know the truth.  That’s the “pickle” (as the saying goes) that many of us light-workers (as they call us) live within.

Fear guru’s help us to remember these things.  My personal fear guru?  Oh, he’s much gentler and kinder than he used to be; but still I don’t like his presence at any time whatsoever!  Yet, the tea and cookie that I give him and little talk we have seems to comfort him (and me too-wink!) so that then we can resume the life-game here with greater ease!

Let the games begin!—that is what I say to myself when I wake up in the morning sometimes, mostly when I’m not so afraid.

Giving Up Concern for this Life–Can We? Enlightenment Practice #4 of the 37 Practices of a Bodhisattva

Vajrasattva
Vajrasattva

I asked a vajra teacher, a Lama that I’ve been communicating with, for a 2nd best book to continue my sort of self-made dharma lessons on The Thirty Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva.   Oh, maybe vajra teacher is incorrect phrasing according to custom.   I think the word for spiritual teacher in Tibetan Buddhism is vajracary or vajrasattva is probably more technically correct but I can’t say for sure being an American who is trying to pick up where haven left off from previous incarnations—not that I could prove this.  Which actually brings me to the 2nd best book since the 1st best was $150 (totally out of the budget).

I asked a Lama of the Karmapa lineage and was referred to a book by the 17th Karmapa (who I have heard speak on TV and really admired) called ‘Traveling the Path of Compassion’, a book on the 37 Practices, which I’m now reading.

I just finished a passage written by the Karmapa on Practice #4 which was cool because he wrote about death (specifically, there’s no death) and reincarnation—he gently points out how it is almost impossible to feel that a loved one who has died is totally gone and never present in some way!  “Most people”, he writes, “have a feeling that a loved one who has passed away is still somehow still available.”

He says death is not nothingness.   Nor is it a blank state; it is the time when we transfer our light to another way of being.  We are, he says, not a candle that is finished when the flame goes out but instead a torch, a light shining everywhere that can be transferred one bright flame to the next.

Well, I had to include that here and write about that first before I start to write what I’m REALLY writing about today!  HA!  So here we go—the real reason I’m writing today!  And it still relates to Practice #4 which is about attachments.

The teaching is about being attached to this life and of course if you practice the dharma or said another way if you subscribe to the Buddhist philosophy of life and therefore relate to and start to apply the teachings to your own life (in order to increase happiness and decrease suffering first for self and then for others) then what you do in Buddhist language is that you “practice the dharma”.  Which in this case the word dharma means “the teachings” –but the word also translates to “phenomenon” and I’ll write on the correlation there another time.  Getting back to the practice of dharma, he says that we have to release attachments to life if we are going to call ourselves a Buddhist and in particular a Bodhisattva…. [paraphrased].

BODHISATTVA, WHAT?

By the way the word bodhi translates into “understanding the nature of things” or “enlightenment” –the root word “budh” means ‘to awake, become aware, notice, know or understand).   Sattva in sanskrit means purity and reality.  One could say bodhi means enlightened and sattva means existence.  So, a Bodhisattva is one who lives an enlightened existence.  And the 37 practices was written in the 13th-14th century by a highly respected and devotedly compassionate monk instructing others on how to live an enlightened existence.  That could be one way to put it which I think would be a fairly correct interpretation based on what I’ve read and surmised and I offer it to the reader with the highest intentions.

Anyway, the point that I wish to make here is that I was reading a passage written by the 17th Karmapa on the 4th Practice of a Bodhisattva in which he refers to those who turn to the dharma when in a crisis of some sort and the rest of the time their main attraction is to life and the world or the world’s entertainments.  He says that we consider our worldly possessions crucial to our lives and the very source of our happiness.

Personally, I see people who hang to each other in that same way, seeing the ‘other’ as the very source of their happiness as well.  And as he points out, even if we do not think these things consciously, they are at the background of our minds—our unconscious attitudes hold to worldly things as if our happiness depends on them.

Personally, I am guilty of this fault but am, through effort now, working to keep the dharma teachings working at all times in the background instead of my attachments and aversions running the show.  It’s a process!  There are slippery patches and tricky spots but I’m taking those and really more consciously working with them—sometimes I go unconscious and fall back into  the old habitually created karmic patterns.  (There’s an actual word for that; it sounds like “bach-tah” but I cannot seem to find the proper spelling and definition…sigh! I looked thru the glossaries of 3 Buddhists text I have here on the shelf and consulted a number of online Buddhists dictionaries! )  Well, there’s another  lesson in practice #4, letting go and non attachment!  (I’ve been highly obsessed and attached to finding that word for a good while now! ugh! letting go!)

Yeah, so anyway there’s a word for those patterns and I’ve just turned all my writing time into google time instead trying to find that right word and in giving up now must conclude this writing!

Here’s the note from the universe this morning that somewhat resembles what I’ve been trying to convey here to some extent—using life challenges to reach non-attachment and therefore happiness is what I’m trying to say and the thing below that showed up in my email says it better than I could in 10 pages of writing which is why I’m including it.  And with this, will have to wish you a good day—my time is up!

NOTE FROM THE UNIVERSE IN MY EMAIL BOX TODAY WHICH CORRESPONDS TO MY CURRENT BUDDHIST STUDIES:

(www.tut.com)

It’s not that your life totally rocks, Joy, except for a few tricky spots, slippery patches, and challenges.

But that your life totally rocks, in large part, because of the tricky spots, slippery patches, and challenges.

Stranger than fiction,
The Universe

By the way Enlightenment Practice #4 of the 37 Practices reads this way:

Everyone will part from relatives and old friends;

The wealth of long labor will be left behind;

The guest, the consciousness, leaves its lodging, the body behind:

To give up concern for this life is the practice of a bodhisattva.

Oh, and by the way, (in addition to my own personal experiences and the work that I do as a medium), I’ll take the 17th Karmapa’s word on the afterlife and reincarnation since he’s the official incarnation of the 16th Karmapa’s previous life… well, you know what I mean.  He passed the tests involved in determining the lineage continuation–he was the 16th Karmapa in his last life, and now he’s back as the 17th Karmapa!  So I supposed that if anybody should know about this reincarnation stuff, it’d be him.  Or I’d like to think so; and we have to trust, eh?

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.

divider3-15-13

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!