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In meditation we seem to be sitting by ourselves, but we do not sit just for ourselves. By focusing our attention on the breath, the body, thoughts, feelings, and sensations, or any other facet of our experience in meditation, we become more mindful—not mindless—through the transformative power of moment-to-moment alertness and presence of mind. Instead of absentmindedly stumbling through life like sleepwalkers, we can use contemplative practice to achieve extraordinary insight into ourselves and the world in which we live; to inhabit and appreciate more fully the here and now; to free our minds and open our hearts, and to relax into our natural state. The cultivation of mindfulness helps us wake up to things as they are rather than as we would like them to be. And as we wake up to truth, to reality, we become a force for universal awakening, working with what actually is, not delusive fictions.

A good traveler has no fixed plans, and is not intent on arriving.

What makes for a meaningful life? I consider each day, not just the life as a whole. I look at four ingredients. First, was it a day of virtue? I’m talking about basic Buddhist ethics—avoiding harmful behavior of body, speech, and mind; devoting ourselves to wholesome behavior and to qualities like awareness and compassion. Second, I’d like to feel happy rather than miserable. The realized beings I’ve known exemplify extraordinary states of well-being, and it shows in their demeanor, their way of dealing with adversity, with life, with other people. And third, pursuit of the truth—seeking to understand the nature of life, of reality, of interpersonal relationships, or the nature of mind. But you could do all that sitting quietly in a room. None of us exists in isolation, however, so there is a fourth ingredient: a meaningful life must also answer the question, “What have I brought to the world?” If I can look at a day and see that virtue, happiness, truth, and living an altruistic life are prominent elements, I can say, “You know, I’m a happy camper.” Pursuing happiness does not depend on my checkbook, or the behavior of my spouse, or my job, or my salary. I can live a meaningful life even if I only have ten minutes left.

Why is it that some of us are driven blindly, madly, and passionately to struggle to transcend our own limitations? And to do so not merely for our own sake but for the sake of a higher purpose that we feel yet can barely see? Why is it that in those precious moments when we are most conscious and most awake, we intuit a deeper sense of conscience and care that is not personal? What is that soft vibration that tugs on our hearts and beckons us to courageously leap beyond the small confines of our ego so that we will participate in the life process in a much deeper and more authentic way? In the way I understand it, this is the deepest and most profound manifestation of the evolutionary impulse itself—the very same energy and intelligence that initiated the creative process fourteen billion years ago. That energy and intelligence is now awakening to itself as the spiritual impulse, the mysterious compulsion towards consciousness that serious seekers feel stirring deep within their very own souls. Why is it that some of us who come from a completely secular background find ourselves compelled towards our own spiritual depths, seemingly out of the blue? For many it feels like Consciousness or Spirit is calling the Self to Itself, unprompted by external circumstances. And where does this mystical summons originate? It comes from the same fathomless source that the big bang came from!

We human beings have regularly been faced with overwhelming crises ever since we first stood up on two legs. Survival-as an attitude, as an inner posture, as a natural reflex-is a highly developed capacity within our species. Why? Because we’ve been completely consumed by the necessity to survive for a very long time, since the first single-celled life form emerged around 3 billion years ago.

Slowly but surely, however, something new is beginning to emerge at the leading edge of the development of human consciousness-a new posture, a new attitude, a new reflex, and a new instinct. And that is the instinct to evolve, to consciously evolve. An entirely new perspective is emerging: a new orientation to life itself, based upon not merely the instinct to survive but an instinct that compels us toward higher, as yet unmanifest human potentials and possibilities. As we awaken to this evolutionary impulse, we begin to understand that Life is, in its essence, the will to exist, the urge to become, the creative spark behind the unfolding cosmos. We recognize that merely surviving is not what we are here for. Consciously and intentionally striving to evolve, individually and collectively, for the sake of the evolution of the entire creative process, is what imbues human life with a higher meaning and purpose. And what an extraordinary world we can create when we are in touch with this very best part of ourselves!

Needless to say, if we don’t find a way to overcome our collective crises and survive, then the evolution of consciousness will be a moot point. So we must survive-but not for the sake of survival alone. We must survive for the sake of our collective evolution, for the emergence of our as yet unmanifest higher potentials-those hidden treasures that we have yet to contribute to the larger life process in so many ways.

As the powerful energy and intelligence that initiated the creative process gradually awakens to itself in the light of humanity’s highly evolved, self-reflective awareness—especially in those who are at the most advanced stage of our own culture’s development—something very important begins to happen. As the self becomes more highly individuated, simultaneously its powers of autonomy, volition, free agency, consciousness, and cognition increase exponentially. And the growing complexity of the self-structure is the prism through which the light of that evolutionary impulse shines into this world. This prism is alive and conscious, and it possesses the powers of both self-reflectivity and choice. That is why, when the evolutionary impulse awakens and surges through a highly evolved vehicle, it is the development of that individual that enables the very essence of the evolutionary impulse itself to actually evolve and to refine itself as it moves through them. It is none other than our uniquely human capacities for autonomy, volition, free agency, consciousness, and cognition that enable this impulse—which is the manifest God—to effect change in the world and in the universe.

Nothing is more becoming a man than silence. It is not the preaching but the practice which ought to be considered important. A profusion of words is sure to lead to error.

When the petty ego appears, do not be concerned with it. Simply ignore it. When a negative thought strikes you, acknowledge it, then drop it.

The Zen saying goes, “The occurrence of an evil thought is an affliction; not to continue it is the remedy.

The foundation of any authentic path to higher development must, in the end, be based upon a deep conviction in one’s own capacity to consciously evolve and a commitment to ensuring that it will occur. Penetrating into the deeper and higher dimensions of our own being is not an impossible feat that only spiritually gifted people can accomplish. It just requires an authentic personally felt compulsion to find something bigger, deeper, higher, and infinitely more real than anything one has ever known. And above all, it requires that one make room for the possibility that one can actually succeed, at the deepest level of one’s being, in becoming that something which one cannot yet grasp but feels choicelessly compelled to reach for.

When we are not attached to who we think we are, life can move through us, playing us like an instrument. Understanding how everything is in continual transformation, we release our futile attempts to control circumstances. When we live in this easy connection with life, we live in joy.

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Running Out of Gas

Drive your car like your running out of gas…. ‘cuz we actually are running out of gas. If you pay attention to your gas mileage (via a calculator at the pump or if your car does it for you), you’ll start to notice just how much you can save by changing the way you drive. Imagine just coasting in to a red light rather than accelerating until the last second (we’ve all been there a time or two as we’re unconsciously rushing around town). You can easily save a few MPG by driving consciously which saves money, resources, and emissions.…

by David

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