Category: wisdom


By Amoda Maa Jeevan, author of Embodied Enlightenment

A surprising number of people, especially in today’s materially oriented world, experience a lack of self-worth.

There’s a common belief, even in spiritual circles, that not having enough money is a sign of unworthiness. This usually translates into “I am unable to receive,” “I don’t love myself,” or “I’m not good enough.” What often follows is an attempt to improve self-worth in order to attract more money in order to feel abundant, and therefore to believe yourself to be worthy. Sometimes this works (at least for a while), but mostly it does not.

The acquisition of psychological and spiritual tools for fixing yourself and getting what you want in order to feel better about yourself is a huge error of attention. By giving allegiance to the story of “me” and “my life,” the ping-pong of feeling worthy and feeling unworthy is prolonged. It’s a perpetuation of the seeking mechanism, and there is no fulfillment in this.

True fulfillment comes only when you awaken out of the dream of separation. When you fulfill your inner purpose of awakening to your true nature as the unboundedness of being, the polarity of worthiness and unworthiness collapses into the totality of now. You do not need to feel abundant, because abundance is here as the fullness of this moment. There is no one to judge you as worthy or unworthy. It was only ever yourself judging yourself. When you awaken out of the dream of separation, this is seen to be ludicrous (and a waste of time)!

When you stop right here and rest deeply in the softness of your belly, in the gentle throb of your heartbeat, in the pregnant pause between each breath, in the alive awakeness of now, you may well discover that this moment is rich beyond measure, and that there is no limit to abundance.

Amoda Maa Jeevan is the author of Embodied Enlightenment: Living Your Awakening in Every Moment, published by New Harbinger Publications. Copyright 2017.

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Published on Sep 19, 2017

TaraTalks: Mirroring the Gold in One Another – with Tara Brach

In our relating with others, how do we deepen our attention so that a place in us regularly scans for “What do you need right now? How can I respond in a way that reminds you that you belong?”

September 12, 2017

By The Dalai Lama: Almost six decades have passed since I left my homeland, Tibet, and became a refugee…

Thanks to the kindness of the government and people of India, we Tibetans found a second home where we could live in dignity and freedom, able to keep our language, culture and Buddhist traditions alive.

My generation has witnessed so much violence — some historians estimate that more than 200 million people were killed in conflicts in the 20th century.

Today, there is no end in sight to the horrific violence in the Middle East, which in the case of Syria has led to the greatest refugee crisis in a generation. Appalling terrorist attacks — as we were sadly reminded this weekend — have created deep-seated fear. While it would be easy to feel a sense of hopelessness and despair, it is all the more necessary in the early years of the 21st century to be realistic and optimistic.

There are many reasons for us to be hopeful. Recognition of universal human rights, including the right to self-determination, has expanded beyond anything imagined a century ago. There is growing international consensus in support of gender equality and respect for women. Particularly among the younger generation, there is a widespread rejection of war as a means of solving problems. Across the world, many are doing valuable work to prevent terrorism, recognizing the depths of misunderstanding and the divisive idea of “us” and “them” that is so dangerous. Significant reductions in the world’s arsenal of nuclear weapons mean that setting a timetable for further reductions and ultimately the elimination of nuclear weapons — a sentiment President Obama recently reiterated in Hiroshima, Japan — no longer seem a mere dream.

The notion of absolute victory for one side and defeat of another is thoroughly outdated; in some situations, following conflict, suffering arises from a state that cannot be described as either war or peace. Violence inevitably incurs further violence. Indeed, history has shown that nonviolent resistance ushers in more durable and peaceful democracies and is more successful in removing authoritarian regimes than violent struggle.

It is not enough simply to pray. There are solutions to many of the problems we face; new mechanisms for dialogue need to be created, along with systems of education to inculcate moral values. These must be grounded in the perspective that we all belong to one human family and that together we can take action to address global challenges.

It is encouraging that we have seen many ordinary people across the world displaying great compassion toward the plight of refugees, from those who have rescued them from the sea, to those who have taken them in and provided friendship and support. As a refugee myself, I feel a strong empathy for their situation, and when we see their anguish, we should do all we can to help them. I can also understand the fears of people in host countries, who may feel overwhelmed. The combination of circumstances draws attention to the vital importance of collective action toward restoring genuine peace to the lands these refugees are fleeing.

Tibetan refugees have firsthand experience of living through such circumstances and, although we have not yet been able to return to our homeland, we are grateful for the humanitarian support we have received through the decades from friends, including the people of the United States.

A further source of hope is the genuine cooperation among the world’s nations toward a common goal evident in the Paris accord on climate change. When global warming threatens the health of this planet that is our only home, it is only by considering the larger global interest that local and national interests will be met.

I have a personal connection to this issue because Tibet is the world’s highest plateau and is an epicenter of global climate change, warming nearly three times as fast as the rest of the world. It is the largest repository of water outside the two poles and the source of the Earth’s most extensive river system, critical to the world’s 10 most densely populated nations.

To find solutions to the environmental crisis and violent conflicts that confront us in the 21st century, we need to seek new answers. Even though I am a Buddhist monk, I believe that these solutions lie beyond religion in the promotion of a concept I call secular ethics. This is an approach to educating ourselves based on scientific findings, common experience and common sense — a more universal approach to the promotion of our shared human values.

Over more than three decades, my discussions with scientists, educators and social workers from across the globe have revealed common concerns. As a result, we have developed a system that incorporates an education of the heart, but one that is based on study of the workings of the mind and emotions through scholarship and scientific research rather than religious practice. Since we need moral principles — compassion, respect for others, kindness, taking responsibility — in every field of human activity, we are working to help schools and colleges create opportunities for young people to develop greater self-awareness, to learn how to manage destructive emotions and cultivate social skills. Such training is being incorporated into the curriculum of many schools in North America and Europe — I am involved with work at Emory University on a new curriculum on secular ethics that is being introduced in several schools in India and the United States.

It is our collective responsibility to ensure that the 21st century does not repeat the pain and bloodshed of the past. Because human nature is basically compassionate, I believe it is possible that decades from now we will see an era of peace — but we must work together as global citizens of a shared planet.

Source: dalai lama


Three Blessings in Spiritual Life – Part 3: A Mirror

08/09/2017 This 3- part series explores three capacities we all have, that when cultivated, bring spiritual awakening and serve the healing of our world. Drawing on an ancient teaching story from India, we explore together the power of a forgiving heart, the inner fire that expresses as courage and dedication, and the inquiry of “who am I” that reveals our deepest nature. From the talk: “These are three qualities often described as the essence of awareness: wakeful, open, tender.” And a blessing: “May all beings everywhere remember and trust the loving awareness that is our source. May all beings everywhere live in natural and great peace. May we touch true joy in living. May all beings everywhere awaken and be free.”


We do need to have certain narratives about the world that alert us to real danger. We also need to recognize when those stories are taking over, blinding and separating us from our hearts, our awareness, and each other.

Nothing is Personal

There is an ancient and well-kept secret to happiness which the Great Ones have known for centuries. They rarely speak of it, but they use it all the time, and it is fundamental to good mental health. This secret is called The Fine Art of Not Being Offended. In order to truly be a master of this art, one must be able to see that every statement, action and reaction of another human being is the sum result of their total life experience to date.

In other words, the majority of people in our world say and do what they do from their own set of fears, conclusions, defences and attempts to survive. Most of it, even when aimed directly at us, has nothing to do with us. Usually, it has more to do with all the other times, and in particular the first few times, that this person experienced a similar situation, usually when they were young.


Study of the Soul

Yes, this is psychodynamic. But let’s face it, we live in a world where psychodynamics are what make the world go around. An individual who wishes to live successfully in the world as a spiritual person really needs to understand that psychology is as spiritual as prayer. In fact, the word psychology literally means ‘the study of the soul’.

Every statement, action and reaction is the result of our total life experience to date.

All of that said, almost nothing is personal. Even with our closest loved ones, our beloved partners, our children and our friends. We are all swimming in the projections and filters of each other’s life experiences and often we are just the stand-ins, the chess pieces of life to which our loved ones have their own built-in reactions. This is not to dehumanize life or take away the intimacy from our relationships, but mainly for us to know that almost every time we get offended, we are actually just in a misunderstanding.

Are They Hurting?

A true embodiment of this idea actually allows for more intimacy and less suffering throughout all of our relationships. When we know that we are just the one who happens to be standing in the right place at the right psychodynamic time for someone to say or do what they are doing—we don’t have to take life personally. If it weren’t us, it would likely be someone else.

This frees us to be a little more detached from the reactions of people around us. How often do we react to a statement of another by being offended rather than seeing that the other might actually be hurting? In fact, every time we get offended, it is actually an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering—even if they themselves do not appear that way on the surface.

Getting offended is an opportunity to extend kindness to one who may be suffering.

All anger, all acting out, all harshness, all criticism, is in truth a form of suffering. When we provide no velcro for it to stick, something changes in the world. We do not even have to say a thing. In fact, it is usually better not to say a thing.

People who are suffering on the inside, but not showing it on the outside, are usually not keen on someone pointing out to them that they are suffering. We do not have to be our loved one’s therapist. We need only understand the situation and move on. In the least, we ourselves experience less suffering and at best, we have a chance to make the world a better place.

No Harm to Self

This is also not to be confused with allowing ourselves to be hurt, neglected or taken advantage of. True compassion does not allow harm to ourselves either. But when we know that nothing is personal, a magical thing happens. Many of the seeming abusers of the world start to leave our lives. Once we are conscious, so-called abuse can only happen if we believe what the other is saying.

We don’t feel abused because we know that what the other is saying is not about us.

When we know nothing is personal, we also do not end up feeling abused. We can say, “Thank you for sharing,” and move on. We are not hooked by what another does or says, since we know it is not about us. When we know that our inherent worth is not determined by what another says, does or believes, we can take the world a little less seriously. And if necessary, we can just walk away without creating more misery for ourselves or having to convince the other person that we are good and worthy people.

The great challenge of our world is to live a life of contentment regardless of what other people do, say, think or believe. The fine art of not being offended is one of the many skills for being a practical mystic. Though it may take a lifetime of practice, it is truly one of the best kept secrets for living a happy life.

“Most of our troubles are due to our passionate desire for and attachment to things that we misapprehend as enduring entities.” ~Dalai Lama

If there’s one thing we all have in common, it’s that we want to feel happy; and on the other side of that coin, we want to avoid hurting. Yet we consistently put ourselves in situations that set us up for pain.

We pin our happiness to people, circumstances, and things and hold onto them for dear life. We stress about the possibility of losing them when something seems amiss. Then we melt into grief when something changes—a lay off, a breakup, or a transfer.

We attach to feelings as if they define us, and ironically, not just positive ones. If you’ve wallowed in regret or disappointment for years, it can seem safe and even comforting to suffer.

In trying to hold on to what’s familiar, we limit our ability to experience joy in the present. A moment can’t possibly radiate fully when you’re suffocating it in fear.

When you stop trying to grasp, own, and control the world around you, you give it the freedom to fulfill you without the power to destroy you. That’s why letting go is so important— letting go is letting happiness in.

It’s no simple undertaking to let go of attachment—not a one-time decision, like pulling off a band-aid. Instead, it’s a day-to-day, moment-to-moment commitment that involves changing the way you experience and interact with everything you instinctively want to grasp.

The best approach is to start simple, at the beginning, and work your way to Zen.

Experiencing Without Attachment

Accept the moment for what it is.

Don’t try to turn it into yesterday; that moment’s gone. Don’t plot about how you can make the moment last forever. Just seep into the moment and enjoy it, because it will eventually pass. Nothing is permanent. Fighting that reality will only cause you pain.

Believe now is enough.

It’s true—tomorrow may not look the same as today, no matter how much you try to control it. A relationship might end. You might have to move. You’ll deal with those moments when they come. All you need right now is to appreciate and enjoy what you have. It’s enough.
Call yourself out.

Learn what it looks like to grasp at people, things, or circumstances so you can redirect your thoughts when they veer toward attachment—when you dwell on keeping, controlling, manipulating, or losing something instead of simply experiencing it.

Define yourself in fluid terms
.

We are all constantly evolving and growing. Define yourself in terms that can withstand change. Defining yourself by possessions, roles, and relationships breeds attachment, because loss entails losing not just what you have, but also who you are.

Enjoy now fully.

No matter how much time you have in an experience or with someone you love, it will never feel like enough. So don’t think about it in terms of quantity; aim for quality instead. Attach to the idea of living well from moment to moment. That’s an attachment that can do you no harm.

Letting Go of Attachment to People

Friend yourself.

It will be harder to let people go when necessary if you depend on them for your sense of worth. Believe you’re worthy whether someone else tells you or not. This way, you relate to people, not just how they make you feel about yourself.

Go it alone sometimes.

Take time to foster your own interests, ones that nothing and no one can take away. Don’t let them hinge on anyone or anything other than your values and passion.

Hold lightly.

This one isn’t just about releasing attachments; it’s also about maintaining healthy relationships. Contrary to romantic notions, you are not someone’s other half. You’re separate and whole. You can still hold someone to close to your heart; just remember, if you squeeze too tightly, you’ll both be suffocated.

Interact with lots of people.

If you limit yourself to one or two relationships, they will seem like your lifelines. Everyone needs people, and there are billions on the planet. Stay open to new connections. Accept the possibility your future involves a lot of love whether you cling to a select few people or not.

Justify less.

I can’t let him go—I’ll be miserable without him. I’d die if I lost her—she’s all that I have. These thoughts reinforce beliefs that are not fact, even if they feel like it. The only way to let go and feel less pain is to believe you’re strong enough to carry on if and when things change.

Letting Go of Attachment to the Past

Know you can’t change the past.

Even if you think about over and over again. Even if you punish yourself. Even if you refuse to accept it. It’s done. The only way to relieve your pain about what happened is to give yourself relief. No one and nothing else can create peace in your head for you.

Love instead of fearing.

When you hold onto the past, it often has to do with fear—fear you messed up your chance at happiness, or fear you’ll never know such happiness again. Focus on what you love and you’ll create happiness instead of worrying about it.

Make now count.

Instead of thinking of what you did or didn’t do, the type of person you were or weren’t, do something worthwhile now. Be someone worthwhile now. Take a class. Join a group. Help someone who needs it. Make today so full and meaningful there’s no room to dwell on yesterday.

Narrate calmly.

How we experience the world is largely a result of how we internalize it. Instead of telling yourself dramatic stories about the past—how hurt you were or how hard it was—challenge your emotions and focus on lessons learned. That’s all you really need from yesterday.
Open your mind.

We often cling to things, situations, or people because we’re comfortable with them. We know how they’ll make us feel, whether it’s happy or safe. Consider that new things, situations, and people may affect you the same. The only way to find out is to let go of what’s come and gone.
Letting Go of Attachment to Outcomes

Practice letting things be.

That doesn’t mean you can’t actively work to create a different tomorrow. It just means you make peace with the moment as it is, without worrying that something’s wrong with you or your life, and then operate from a place of acceptance.
Question your attachment.

If you’re attached to a specific outcome—a dream job or the perfect relationship—you may be indulging an illusion about some day when everything will be lined up for happiness. No moment will ever be worthier of your joy than now because that’s all there ever is.

Release the need to know.

Life entails uncertainty, no matter how strong your intention. Obsessing about tomorrow wastes your life because there will always be a tomorrow on the horizon. There are no guarantees about how it will play out. Just know it hinges on how well you live today.

Serve your purpose now.

You don’t need to have x-amount of money in the bank to live a meaningful life right now. Figure out what matters to you, and fill pockets of time indulging it. Audition for community theater. Volunteer with animals. Whatever you love, do it. Don’t wait—do it now.

Teach others.

It’s human nature to hope for things in the future. Even the most enlightened people fall into the habit from time to time. Remind yourself to stay open to possibilities by sharing the idea with other people. Blog about it. Talk about it. Tweet about it. Opening up helps keep you open.

Letting Go of Attachment to Feelings

Understand that pain is unavoidable.

No matter how well you do everything on this list, or on your own short list for peace, you will lose things that matter and feel some level of pain. But it doesn’t have to be as bad as you think. As the saying goes, pain is inevitable, suffering is optional.

Vocalize your feelings.

Feel them, acknowledge them, express them, and then let them naturally transform. Even if you want to dwell in anger, sadness, or frustration—especially if you feel like dwelling—save yourself the pain and commit to working through them.

Write it down.

Then toss it out. You won’t always have the opportunity to express your feelings to the people who inspired them. That doesn’t mean you need to swallow them. Write in a journal. Write a letter and burn it. Anything that helps you let go.

Xie Xie.

t means thank you in Chinese. Fully embrace your happy moments—love with abandon; be so passionate it’s contagious. If a darker moment follows, remember: It will teach you something, and soon enough you’ll be in another happy moment to appreciate. Everything is cyclical.

Yield to peace.

The ultimate desire is to feel happy and peaceful. Even if you think you want to stay angry, what you really want is to be at peace with what happened or will happen. It takes a conscious choice. Make it.

Zen your now.

Experience, appreciate, enjoy, and let go to welcome another experience.

It won’t always be easy. Sometimes you’ll feel compelled to attach yourself physically and mentally to people and ideas—as if it gives you some sense of control or security. You may even strongly believe you’ll be happy if you struggle to hold onto what you have. That’s okay. It’s human nature.

Just know you have the power to choose from moment to moment how you experience things you enjoy: with a sense of ownership, anxiety, and fear, or with a sense of freedom, peace, and love.

The most important question: What do you choose right now?


About Lori Deschene

Lori Deschene is the founder of Tiny Buddha and Recreate Your Life Story, an online course that helps you let go of the past and live a life you love. Her latest book Tiny Buddha’s Gratitude Journal, which includes 15 coloring pages, is now available for purchase. For daily wisdom, follow Tiny Buddha on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram..

Published on Aug 10, 2017

http://adyashanti.org – Adyashanti addresses one of the most common spiritual questions: How do you live from your own depth? Living with that curiosity informs your actions and has the potential to transform your life.

Video Excerpted from “Silent Meditation Day Vol. 3” (ID# 676):

http://bit.ly/2dDIRf8

Quotes from this Video:

“’What would it be like to live this moment from my depth?’ There’s no prescription for how to do it. You just live with that curiosity.”

“Human beings naturally feel this pull to live a rich, meaningful existence. So we have to live from a rich and meaningful place inside of us.”


Published on Aug 8, 2017

Tara Talks: Reflection on Impermanence – with Tara Brach

This guided practice helps us live from the realization of life’s ever-changing stream with a sense of love and wisdom.

Posted on August 3, 2017 

A lot of people take things personally…



And because they get so caught up in this unhealthy game over who is right and who is wrong, they fail to realize that other people’s opinions of them don’t matter at all.

Today I would like to share with you 10 awesome reasons why you should no longer take things personally…

so that you can live your life in peace and harmony and focus on what truly matters.

10 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD NO LONGER TAKE THINGS PERSONALLY
1. It has nothing to do with you

Whether people love you or hate you, it has absolutely nothing to do with you. It’s all about them. The things they see in you are mirroring back at them what’s already within them. Don’t take it personally.

2. None of it has any real value

You might think that other people’s opinions of you have the power to add or take value from you and your life. But that’s not true at all. You are who you are and nothing others say or do to you can make become a more valuable, or less valuable human being. None of it has any real value.

3. Truth needs no defending

Who you truly are underneath it all needs no defending. And if you ever catch yourself trying to defend yourself, know that what you are defending is just an illusion. Truth needs no defending. Let it go. Don’t take it personally.

4. It’s all just a distraction

The things you take personally are all meant to distract you from what truly matters in life and slow down your spiritual progress. It’s all just a distraction.

5.When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance

In the Tao Te Ching, more than 2500 years ago, Lao Tzu spoke about this in a way that only he knew how:

“Whether you go up the ladder or down it, your position is shaky. When you stand with your two feet on the ground, you will always keep your balance.” ~ Lao Tzu

6. It’s not worth it

No matter how many silly things people will say to you and about you, and no matter how hard they will try to convince you that their opinion of you has any real value, you should never try to defend what is being “attacked”. Nor should you try to argue with them. Nonsense is just nonsense and it should be treated as such. Don’t waste your time and energy on it.

7. People will try to attack what they don’t understand

Whenever someone tries to judge or criticize you, instead of taking things personally, remember this awesome quote from Star Trek:

“Small words from a small being, trying to attack what it doesn’t understand.” ~ Borg Queen

8. Hurt people hurt people

Hurt people hurt people. And if somebody tries to make you feel anything other than loved, it’s only because they are hurting inside. Just look how beautifully Don Miguel Ruiz spoke about this in his book, The Four Agreements:

“But it is not what I am saying that is hurting you; it is that you have wounds that I touch by what I have said. You are hurting yourself. There is no way I can take this personally.” ~ Miguel Ruiz

9. What we put out there will always come back to us

Be wise enough not to judge, attack or criticize those who judge or criticize you. Instead, send them your peace and a silent blessing. Always remember that what you put out there, will come back to you. Put only good.

10. If others don’t value you is only because they don’t value themselves

We are all sacred beings whose real value can’t be counted. We were all born this way – priceless. And if other people don’t recognize your true value, that’s only because they don’t recognize their own. Don’t take it personally.

Source: Purpose Fairy

“The Fight” by Helena Perez García.

:
Unruly beings are like space.
There’s not enough time to overcome them.
Overcoming these angry thoughts.
Is like defeating all of our enemies.

—Shantideva

The nagging, negative voice of self-judgement, says Christina Feldman, is a powerful affliction best met with courage, kindness, and understanding…

The Buddha sat beneath the Bodhi tree on the eve of his enlightenment and was assailed by Mara, representing all of the afflictions we meet in the landscape of our minds: worry and restlessness, dullness and resistance, craving, aversion, and doubt. The one affliction that did not make an appearance in this story is the powerful voice of the inner critic—the inner judge that can torment us on a daily basis, undermining our well-being and distorting our relationship with life. The inner critic is the voice of shame, blame, belittlement, aversion, and contempt. To many of us, it is so familiar that it seems almost hardwired into our hearts.

Before exploring the nature of the judgmental mind, it is essential to mark the distinction between the voice of the inner critic and our capacity for discernment and discriminating wisdom. Discriminating wisdom is what brings us to our cushion to meditate and inspires us to act in ways that bring suffering and harm to an end. Discriminating wisdom is the source of every wise act and word. Discernment draws upon ethics, compassion, and wisdom and teaches us moment by moment to discover the Buddha in ourselves and in others.
The judging mind is optional; it can be understood and released.

The inner critic is a creature of a different nature. With the inner critic, we may still come to our cushion but we come accompanied by a story that tells us we are unworthy or inadequate. With the inner critic, we still act, speak, and make choices, yet moment by moment we feel endlessly criticized, compared, and belittled. The judgmental mind draws not upon all that is wise but upon Mara, the patterns of aversion, doubt, ill will, and fear. Rarely is the judgmental heart the source of wise action or speech, nor does it lead to the end of suffering. The judgmental mind is suffering and compounds suffering. It suffocates ethics, the guidelines of kindness and care, and it wounds our hearts and lives.

Discriminating wisdom is essential and must be cultivated. The judging mind is optional; it can be understood and released. Thomas Merton, the great Christian mystic described the essence of the spiritual path as a search for truth that springs from love. Beneath the Bodhi tree, Mara’s power over Siddhartha ended the moment he was able to look Mara in the eye and simply say, “I know you.” These few words were a reflection of a profound shift in Siddhartha’s heart: the shift from being intimidated and overpowered by Mara to having the courage to open a dialogue of understanding with Mara, and bringing intimidation to an end.

The judgmental mind that causes so much pain in our lives cannot be exempted from our practice. The judgmental mind needs to be met with the same courage and investigation we bring to any other afflictive emotion. The judgmental mind does not respond well to suppression, avoidance, or aversion. It needs kindness and understanding. The late Jiyu-Kennett Roshi, a Zen teacher, said the training of liberation begins with compassion for the self, and that cultivating a non-judgmental mind toward ourselves is the key to a genuine compassion for all beings.

We begin this process by asking what a non-judgmental mind looks like, and what it means to be free of the burden of the inner critic. To understand these questions experientially, we need to turn our attention to the judgmental mind and embrace its pain with the same mindfulness we would bring to a pain in our body or to another’s sorrow.

The essence of mindfulness is to see, to understand, and to find freedom within everything that feels intractable and clouded by confusion. Mindfulness is a present-moment experience, concerned with embracing and understanding the entirety of each moment with tenderness, warmth, and interest. In the light of this engaged attention, we discover it is impossible to hate or fear anything we truly understand, including the judgmental mind. We begin to see that the greatest barrier to compassion and freedom is not the pain or adversity we meet in our lives but the ongoing tendency to criticize and fear the simple truths of the moment. Instead of just wanting the judgmental mind to go away, we could begin to ask what it is teaching us. Abhirupa Nanda, a nun from the time of the Buddha, suggested meditating on the unconditioned. Liberate the tendency to judge yourself as being above, below, or the same as others. By penetrating deeply into judgment, you will live at peace.
Looking closely at the judgmental mind, we see that it is rarely truthful or able to see the whole of anything.

Although it may seem so, we were not born with a judgmental, aversive mind. It is a learned way of seeing and relating, and it can be unlearned. Looking closely at the judgmental mind, we see that it is rarely truthful or able to see the whole of anything. Instead, the judgmental mind is governed by seizing upon the particulars of ourselves and others and mistaking those particulars for the truth. A friend neglects to return a phone call, and this triggers a cascade of anxious thinking that convinces us they are an indifferent person or we are unworthy of their attention. We arrive late for an appointment and in moments the inner critic determines we are a mindless failure. The practice of meditation, of discovering what is true, suggests there is another path that can be followed.

In the Sufi tradition it is suggested that our thoughts should pass through three gates. At the first gate, we ask of our thought, “Is it true?” If so, we let the thought pass through to the second gate, where we ask, “Is it necessary or useful?” If this also is so, we let the thought continue on its way to the third gate, where we ask, “Is this thought rooted in love and kindness?” Judgmental thoughts, which are neither true, helpful, nor kind, falter at the gates.

Students often wonder why the judgmental mind does not appear in the traditional list of afflictions that Siddhartha met under the Bodhi tree. Perhaps it is because the judgmental mind is not one affliction or hindrance but a compounded hindrance. If you explore just one moment during which the inner critic is operating, you sense how the winds of all of the hindrances flow through it. There is craving, which takes form in the expectations and ideals we hold for ourselves and others. There is restlessness and worry — the shoulds and expectations generating endless thought and emotion as we struggle to avoid imperfection. And there is aversion and ill will, directed toward ourselves and others when our shoulds and expectations are disappointed. Doubt makes a powerful appearance too—doubt in our worthiness, goodness, and capacity. Then there is the affliction of dullness, which makes a disguised appearance in the form of despair, resignation, and numbness.

Holding all of these afflictions together are the beliefs we have regarding who we are and who we are not, which continually fuel the afflictive emotions. But the path of awakening invites us to understand this compound of the inner critic, to learn how to loosen its hold and power, and to rediscover all that is true within ourselves and others. The path invites us to extend kindness, rather than harshness, to ourselves and all beings and to learn to see a thought as a thought, rather than as a description of reality. On the path, we can begin to see that self-judgment or judgment of another is no more than a thought that is laden with ill will and aversion. There is a profound liberation in knowing this so deeply that we can let go of ill will.
Nurturing our capacity to be mindful and present is the first step to understanding and disempowering the identity and power of the inner critic.

The Buddha taught that what we dwell upon becomes the shape of our mind. If we dwell on ill will, directed outwardly or inwardly in the form of blame, disparagement, or aversion, it will become the shape of our mind until all that we see is that which is broken, flawed, imperfect, and impossible. In India there is a saying that when a pickpocket meets a saint in the marketplace, all he sees are the saint’s pockets. Habit and awareness do not co-exist. Nurturing our capacity to be mindful and present is the first step to understanding and disempowering the identity and power of the inner critic.

We can learn to pause and to listen deeply to the voice of the inner judge, with its endless symphony of blame and shame, and we can surround it with the kindness of mindfulness. We can investigate the truth of its story. We can begin to sense that the inner critic truly warrants compassion, as does any suffering and affliction. Instead of fleeing the painfulness of the judgmental mind we can turn toward it, sensing that everything we are invited to understand in the journey of awakening can be understood within the judgmental mind. Letting go, compassion, the emptiness of self, equanimity, and wisdom are the lessons we are invited to explore with this most powerful of afflictions. The alchemy of mindfulness is to nurture a sense of possibility. We are encouraged to imagine a life free from ill will, blame, and shame. To imagine a life and a heart of compassion, wisdom, and peace.
Source: Lions Roar
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Materialism doesn’t lead to well-being, but altruism does.

So many of us strive so hard for material success that you might think there was a clear relationship between wealth and happiness. The media and our governments encourage us to believe this, since they need us to keep earning and spending to boost economic growth. From school onwards, we’re taught that long term well-being stems from achievement and economic prosperity – from ‘getting on’ or ‘making it’, accumulating more and more wealth, achievement and success.

Consequently, it comes as a shock for many people to learn that there is no straightforward relationship between wealth and well-being. Once our basic material needs are satisfied (i.e. once we’re assured of regular food and adequate shelter and a basic degree of financial security), wealth only has a negligible effect on well-being.

For example, studies have shown that, in general, lottery winners do not become significantly happier than they were before, and that even extremely rich people – such as billionaires – are not significantly happier than others.

Studies have shown that American and British people are less contented now than they were 50 years ago, although their material wealth is much higher. On an international level, there does appear to some correlation between wealth and well-being, partly because there are many countries in the world where people’s basic material needs are not satisfied. But this correlation is not a straightforward one, since wealthier countries tend to be more politically stable, more peaceful and democratic, with less oppression and more freedom – all of which are themselves important factors in well-being.

So why do we put so much effort into acquiring wealth and material goods? You could compare it to a man who keeps knocking at a door, even though he’s been told that the person he’s looking for isn’t at home. ‘But he must be in there!” he shouts, and barges in to explore the house. He storms out again, but returns to the house a couple of minutes later, to knock again. Seeking well-being through material success is just as irrational as this.

Well-Being Through Giving

If anything, it appears that there is a relationship between non-materialism and well-being. While possessing wealth and material goods doesn’t lead to happiness, giving them away actually does. Generosity is strongly associated with well-being. For example, studies of people who practise volunteering have shown that they have better psychological and mental health and increased longevity. The benefits of volunteering have been found to be greater than taking up exercise, or attending religious services – in fact, even greater than giving up smoking.

Another study found that, when people were given a sum of money, they gained more well-being if they spent it on other people, or gave it away, rather than spending it on themselves. This sense of well-being is more than just feeling good about ourselves – it comes from a powerful sense of connection to others, an empathic and compassionate transcendence of separateness, and of our own self-centredness.

In fact, paradoxically, another study has shown that this is one way in which money actually can bring happiness: if you give away the money you earn. This research – by Dunn, Gilbert and Wilson – also showed that money is more likely to bring happiness is you spend it on experiences, rather than material goods. (1) Another study (by Joseph Chancellor and Sonja Lyubomirsky) has suggested that consciously living a lifestyle of ‘strategic under-consumption’ (or thrift) can also lead to well-being. (2)

So if you really want enhance your well-being – and as long as your basic material needs are satisfied – don’t try to accumulate money in your bank account, and don’t treat yourself to material goods you don’t really need. Be more generous and altruistic – increase the amount of money you give to people in need, give more of your time to volunteering, or spend more time helping other people, or behaving more kindly to everyone around you. Ignore the ‘happiness means consumption’ messages we’re bombarded with by the media.

A lifestyle of generosity and under-consumption may not suit the needs of economists and politicians — but it will certainly make us happier.

We would do well to heed the words of the American Indian, Ohiyesa, speaking of his Sioux people:

‘It was our belief that the love of possessions is a weakness to be overcome. Its appeal is to the material part, and if allowed its way, it will in time disturb one’s spiritual balance. Therefore, children must early learn the beauty of generosity. They are taught to give what they prize most, that they may taste the happiness of giving.’

References:

(1) http://www.wjh.harvard.edu/~dtg/DUNN%20GILBERT%20&%20WILSON%20(2011).pdf
(2) http://sonjalyubomirsky.com/files/2012/09/CLinpress.pdf

Steve Taylor holds a Ph.D in Transpersonal Psychology and is a senior lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Metropolitan University, UK. For the last three years Steve has been included in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the ‘100 most spiritually influential living people’ (coming in at #31 in 2014).

Steve is also the author of Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of Our Minds and The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era. His books have been published in 16 languages and his research has appeared in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, The Journal of Consciousness Studies, The Transpersonal Psychology Review, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, as well as the popular media in the UK, including on BBC World TV, The Guardian, and The Independent.


Published on May 2, 2017

Tara Talks – What Are You Unwilling to Feel? with Tara Brach

When we spiritually re-parent ourselves, we commit to staying with our inner experience, no matter what it is, as we get in touch with what those hurting places really want or need.

Great ideas and discoveries don’t come from thinking or doing, but from being.

In general, there are three different modes in which we can live our lives: doing, thinking and being. Most of the day we’re busy doing – working in our jobs, doing chores, following our hobbies and enjoying ourselves in our free time. Thinking usually takes place between activities, when there’s nothing to occupy our attention, or during activities which are more repetitive and undemanding, when we don’t need to concentrate too much.

And being? In general, we don’t spend much time being. Being occurs when we’re relatively inactive and relaxing. It’s when our minds aren’t chattering away with thoughts, and when we aren’t concentrating our attention on tasks or activities. In this mode, we usually pay a lot of our attention to our surroundings, and to our own experience. We’re in this mode when we go for a leisurely walk, do sports such as swimming or running, meditate, do yoga or listen to music.

Of these three modes, our culture prizes the first two far above the third. Doing and thinking are seen as the engines of achievement. Thinking logically enables us to solve problems and come up with ideas. If we have a problem, we sit down and think it through. And doing – working and being busy – enables us to achieve our goals, to be productive, to make money and become successful.

But being is unproductive. It is equated with laziness, and wasted time. Why waste our precious hours doing nothing when we could be filling them with activity and achievement?

Our politicians and business leaders would agree with this too. They need us to work long hours to keep the economy growing. For them, doing nothing means less production, a less competitive workforce and a lower GNP.

The Benefits of Being

But all of this is very misleading. On a psychological and a spiritual level, it’s extremely beneficial for us to spend time in being. It enables us to regenerate our energies, to re-attune to ourselves, and to regain the feeling of well-being and connection to the world around us. And even in terms of achievement, relaxing and ‘doing nothing’ can be extremely beneficial. States of being and inactivity allow the creative potentials of the mind to manifest themselves. They allow insights and inspirations to flow. It’s in these states that ideas suddenly come to us, seemingly out of nowhere – when songwriters have ideas for songs, when writers have ideas for stories, when scientists suddenly ‘see’ the answers to problems that have vexed them, when inventors have ideas for new inventions. These creative potentials are usually blocked by the busy-ness of our minds and our lives. In order for them to emerge, both our lives and our minds have to become relatively empty and quiet.

This is why many — perhaps most — of the greatest discoveries, inventions and creative ideas in human history have not come about through ‘hard work’ or sustained logical thinking, but by doing nothing. That is, they have mostly occurred by accident, or unconscious intuition, in states of relaxation.

The physicist Newton described how the ‘notion of gravitation came into his mind’ when he sat ‘in contemplative mood’ and saw an apple fall from a tree. (The apple didn’t actually fall on him, as is popularly believed.) The concept of coordinate geometry suddenly occurred to Rene Descartes when he was half asleep in bed, watching a fly buzz around the room. James Watt solved the problem of loss of heat in steam engines while walking in a park, an idea which led to the industrial revolution. (‘I had not walked further than the golf house when the whole thing was arranged in my mind,’ Watt wrote.) And as one final example, the physicist Nils Bohr effectively won the Noble Prize while unconscious. Drifting off to sleep, he dreamt he saw the nucleus of the atom, with the electrons spinning around it, just like our solar system with the sun and planets – and in this way he ‘discovered’ the structure of the atom.

It’s true that these ideas usually don’t occur completely out of nowhere – in many cases, the scientists had been grappling hard with the issues before the final ‘aha’ moment occurred. But certainly the scientists needed to allow themselves to relax and their minds to become empty and quiet in order for these solutions to arise.

A high proportion of the world’s great works of art were also inspired and conceived during moments of relaxed inactivity. The most recorded song of all time, “Yesterday” by The Beatles, was ‘heard’ by Paul McCartney as he was waking up one morning. The melody was fully formed in his mind, and he went straight to the piano in his bedroom to find the chords to go with it, and later found words to fit the melody. Mozart described how his musical ideas ‘flow best and most abundantly.’ when he was alone ‘traveling in a carriage or walking after a good meal, or during the night when I cannot sleep… Whence and how they come, I know not, nor can I force them.’ Similarly, Tchaikovsky described how the idea for a composition usually came ‘suddenly and unexpectedly… It takes root with extraordinary force and rapidity, shoots up through the earth, puts forth branches and leaves, and finally blossoms.’ Similarly, many writers and poets have spoken of a ‘muse’ or ‘daemon’ which is the source of the creativity, which is beyond their conscious control, and provides them with inspiration.

A New Attitude to Inactivity

All of this illustrates that we have the wrong attitude to ‘doing nothing’. Perhaps we should stop thinking of relaxation and inactivity in such a negative light, and begin to see them as essential – not only for our well-being, but for our creativity and even our productivity.

Great ideas and insights don’t come from thinking or activity – they usually come through us, when we’re sufficiently relaxed. They come when we’re open to them, and thinking and doing usually close us to them.

Therefore progress of any kind – personal, spiritual, or creative development, collective economic or political development – does not lie in more activity, more hard work or longer working hours. If anywhere, it lies in more relaxation, more leisure time, more empty time to do nothing in. As long as we ensure that we fill this free time with being rather than doing, we might find that it transforms us from tired automatons into happier, more creative and innovative beings, with a greater contribution to make to the world.

About the author:

Steve-Taylor

Steve Taylor holds a Ph.D in Transpersonal Psychology and is a senior lecturer in Psychology at Leeds Beckett University, UK. For the last five years Steve has been included in Mind, Body, Spirit magazine’s list of the ‘100 most spiritually influential living people’.

Steve is also the author of Back to Sanity: Healing the Madness of Our Minds and The Fall: The Insanity of the Ego in Human History and the Dawning of A New Era. His books have been published in 19 languages and his research has appeared in The Journal of Transpersonal Psychology, The Journal of Consciousness Studies, The Transpersonal Psychology Review, The International Journal of Transpersonal Studies, as well as the popular media in the UK, including BBC World TV, The Guardian, and The Independent.

Connect with Steve at StevenMTaylor.com and Facebook.com/SteveTaylorAuthor.

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