consciousness

If you are new to meditation practice, you may well think that you have no choice about how you experience suffering. You may have some problem from your past or in your current situation that seems as though it can be understood only as unrelenting pain—an abusive family history, a torturous marriage, economic woes, a hideous wrong done to you, a disabled child whose affliction breaks your heart. But if you give yourself the chance to investigate your suffering more deeply, you will discover that being “with” your pain can lead to wisdom and happiness. The event or circumstances itself does not lose its unpleasantness or unfortunate quality, but by going through it consciously you arrive at a peaceful and luminous state of mind.

We live in the same world, but in different worlds. The differences come partly from our living in different places. If you live to the east of a mountain and I to the west, my world will have a mountain blocking its sunrises, and yours its sunsets. But—depending on what we want out of the world—our worlds can also differ even when we stand in he same place. A painter, a skier, and a miner looking at a mountain from the same side will see different mountains.

Coming back to the present moment takes some effort, but the effort is very light. The instruction is to “touch and go.” We touch thoughts by acknowledging them as thinking and then we let them go. It’s a way of relaxing our struggle, like touching a bubble with a feather. It’s a nonaggressive approach to being here.

Breathing in, breathing out, feeling resentful, feeling happy, being able to drop it, not being able to drop it, eating our food, brushing our teeth, walking, sitting—whatever we’re doing could be done with one intention. That intention is that we want to wake up, we want to ripen our compassion, and we want to ripen our ability to let go, we want to realize our connection with all beings. Everything in our lives has the potential to wake us up or to put us to sleep. Allowing it to awaken us is up to us.

Slow down and concentrate on the one thing you’re doing right now. And take a deep breath while you’re at it. Doesn’t it feel good to recognize that you’re actually here… right now? This is where it’s all happening. See how long you can stay here before being swept away by the external world again.

Heaven or Hell: Your Choice

A big, burly samurai comes to a Zen master and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.”

The Zen master looks him in the face and says, “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you? A worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?”

Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword and raises it to cut off the master’s head.

The Zen master says, “That’s hell.”

Instantly, the samurai understands that he has created his own hell—black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment. He sees that he was so deep in hell that he was ready to kill someone. Tears fill his eyes as he puts his palms together to bow in gratitude for this insight.

The Zen master says, “That’s heaven.”

The silence between two heartbeats embraces the whole universe.

Every man takes the limits of his own field of vision for the limits of the world.

Have you ever been in a situation where someone looked miserable, discouraged, mad, or somehow they just annoyed you? Have you then asked yourself, what is their problem or… why can’t they merely enjoy life instead of being such a “downer”? Well, in all honesty, I have (once or twice ;). Whether it’s someone in traffic who is honking and swearing or someone in the market who’s zooming past everyone with an angry look on his or her face, it can be easy for me to fall into judgment about them. The problem though (as if there is only one), is that I’m in no position to judge. I have no idea what’s going on their world. They could be…

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Aspire to Be Great

Individuals at the leading edge who change in a dramatic way and who are consistently able to manifest what evolutionary development and spiritual enlightenment look like will inevitably affect, in a powerful way, the world they come into contact with. Humbly aspiring to be a good person just won’t be enough to make any real difference. Boldly aspiring to be a great person, as much as we may fall short of that goal, makes room for the evolutionary impulse, which is our own Authentic Self, to surge through the very core of our being. And that is what has the…

- Andrew Cohen

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