About Me

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I have recovered from the disease of Alcoholism. I believe there is only one person really,.. everybody. And that peace of mind is everything. -So treat your neighbor as you would treat yourself, because your neighbor IS yourself. I think most of recovery is what I would call common sense, but that learning to be ordinary is a true gift very few people acquire. My ambition is to accept everything unflinchingly, with compassion, and therefore be intrinsically comfortable in my own skin, no matter what. I am comfortable being uncomfortable and am willing to go to any lengths to improve my life. I believe the Big Book was divinely inspired, and is extraordinarily powerful. Unfortunately AA's best kept secret a lot of the time. (In my opinion). I just try to do what works, no matter what it is.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Happy New Year :) 22yrs tomorrow! And Cainer says you can cast positive resolutions in concrete tonight.


Right. Yeah, another ! year on the sober block, as opposed to up some alcoholic creek without a paddle. Hehehe A creek I got to know ALL too well before I decided to take the advice of some friendly alcohol counselors and put the drinking on hold and go to aa meetings. Cool. Now all I need to do is maintain (what I consider to be) a respectably low fat percentage, then I will have !! everything! ...Just kidding.. But yeah its always work staying the weight you want to be. There are "no days off" with that one either! Shame! I have to undo the December excesses. Oh well.

More importantly. Cainer says your thoughts will become things that STICK this new year. Enabling you to cast a positive resolution in concrete. So to speak. Great!

Cainer said yesterday:
Tomorrow brings the awkward convergence of an earthly tradition and a cosmic apparition. Normally, New Year’s Eves come and go without too much fuss. We celebrate. We sing. We make our resolutions then we carry on. But what if some heavenly force were secretly listening in to our every vow, offering full celestial support in ensuring those promises were completely carried out? Tomorrow night, Saturn turns stationary. Such conditions favour those who wish to make a decision and ‘cast it in concrete’ so that it can never be changed. Be very careful not to make a ‘negative’ resolution.
And today he said:
It’s rare to have New Year with a stationary Saturn. Resolutions made under this cosmic climate will prove particularly powerful and unnervingly easy to keep!

Hehe I know what resolutions I want this year.
There are study ones, career ones, fat percentage ones, gym ones, and nearest and dearest ones. Loads! So I am getting busy formulating my desired destinations in my mind today to garner momentum and staying power from the freakishly rare unmoving hulk of Saturn. Cool.

So I hope you all have a peaceful new year and for those of you that are newer to sobriety, don't suffer to much from peer pressure that convinces you that you OUGHT to be doing ?? Something expensive overcrowded and unfunny, just because you feel imposed upon by ? nameless social conventions. Life is too !! short. Do whatever you fancy and don't feel guilty about it. If you don't want to stand for 40mins in a !! freezing queue to get in to some sort of 'exclusive' club only to find it full of lurching unintelligible alcohol sodden, or 'wired' people functioning only on the most reduced limbic brain state, well, you will be glad !! to hear that you ! don't ! have ! to! Thank god. Leave that 'luxury' to the active alcoholics, and THEY can pay 50 quid to stand in an overcrowded bar with slightly overweight red faced lurching individuals who have difficulty forming sentences. :) Trust me, you'll meet a MUCH nicer bunch in the gym. Or basically ! anywhere where the main form of entertainment is NOT being anesthetized, and out of control. Basically. Hehe

Right well you can tell how much I enjoy the company of active alcoholics on their home turf. Not much basically. They are bearable when they are sober but get repetitive and dull after a few so I make my excuses and leave when their social skills get clumsy which sadly can happen quite quickly. I manage to enjoy those sorts of occasions by just seeing what I can do for others while I'm there. Without being a doormat that is. As there are plenty of awkward ! social moment due to the disihibiting affects of alcohol, there are plenty of opportunities for service to change the subject quickly and gloss things over in a social sense.
There are loads of AA new years nights here if you like that kind of thing. They can be quite sweet. Like a wedding disco or something. A wide mix of people catching up with each other, throwing a few shapes, and not taking themselves too seriously.
Plus they have seriously great fireworks by the river and millennium wheel over here, and smaller displays all over. If you can bear the cold!

Or, you can enter the new year with 5 - 20 mins of meditation.
Ajahn Chah used to say, "If you want to change the world learn to make your mind still. To a mind that is still, the whole universe surrenders."

Brahmavihara Meditation (Boundless Equanimity, Love, Appreciative Joy and Compassion) - mp3, 20mins
World Peace Meditation - mp3, 15mins
You can use any of these to enter the new year meditating...or simply sit in receptive silence.
As part of the meditation session it will be good to focus loving, peaceful thoughts to the troubled regions in our world today.
"Khanti paramam tapo titikha"
Patient endurance is the supreme austerity.
Wishing you an equanimous new year.

Right. Gym. Essays.
Have a good one, whatever you do :)

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Increased sensitivity toward others AND acceptance means: "It hurts you more but it bothers you less"

On a relative level, it hurts you MORE. On an absolute level, it bothers you LESS
"There is a GREAT freedom from the suffering that you feel. Much MUCH more intensely."
Quote at 6.15 of the video.

This is like a master class on emotional intelligence by Ken Wilber. Bless im.
This is for those of you that tend to get steamrollered by your emotions or fear that life will tear you apart unless you close your eyes to the suffering in the world. Ken has a very good explanation as to how more advanced practitioners view that ongoing tension.

My words:
Firstly. He distinguishes between what he calls RELATIVE reality, and ABSOLUTE reality.
Lets call the relative reality the ? world. 'People places and things', such as emotions, patterns of the mind. Al the emotional and mental 'traffic' we experience.

Then lets call the ABSOLUTE reality ? ..God, HP the power of AA as a whole. ? Whatever. Just something beyond the daily push and pull. Doesn't really matter what you call it. Its that place that feels ? beyond the surface of things. ? ..Gawd knows what it is, but it is beyond people, places and things. Including the capacity of the thinking mind.

In retrospect, I think this ? 'dual' reality he describes, of both a 'relative' and 'absolute' nature, (Buddhists call it 'conditioned' and 'unconditioned' reality, but it doesn't really matter what you call it) is the thing I was ! trying to describe in the July 2007 post called: The Spiritual Life: One foot in the 'World', One foot in the 'Ether' And another Dec 2006 post called: A strange 'dual' mind space shared by myself and my Sponsees. (And their Sponsees)

Anyway. regarding RELATIVE reality: Ken says at 5.06 of the video:
"The more awakened you become, the more INVOLVED you become, the more you actually FEEL, and the more painful it becomes. So the pain increases. (So do the positive emotions BTW.)
You become SO sensitive you can feel EVERYTHING that's arising for everybody. All that becomes something that you TASTE and you FEEL CONSTANTLY.

He then says at 6.03 of the video:
"On the ABSOLUTE side, it bothers you LESS.
So there is a GREAT freedom from the suffering that you feel. Much MUCH more intensely.

We have to give ourselves PLENTY of room to feel BOTH:
The ABSOLUTE PERFECTION in everything that arises.
..And yet see ONE person starving and you will start crying so hard it will kill you.
And if you are not doing BOTH, you are doing something WRONG."

My words:
AA's learn to see 'perfection' in this way by developing the spiritual principle of Acceptance p417 of the Big book
""When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation-some FACT of my life unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I ACCEPT that person, place, thing or situation as being EXACTLY the way it is supposed to be at this moment.

NOTHING, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes."

(p417, AA Big Book) you can view the story this comes from called "Acceptance was the answer" here

*Apologies for the music on this vid BTW. Hey i didn't choose it!!.. but hey never mind.. :)

There is another ongoing tension with emotions between REPRESSION and INDULGENCE. But that's another post.
There are plenty of other Ken Wilber vids on Utube. Plus he has a website if you are interested..

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Which 'race' are you when push comes to shove? The decent or indecent man?

"From all this we may learn that there are two races of men in this world, but only these two-the '"race" of the decent man and the "race" of the indecent man. Both are found everywhere, they penetrate into all groups of society. No group consists entirely of decent or indecent people. In this sense no group is of pure race and therefore one occasionally found a decent fellow among the camp guards."
p94 Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Viktor E. Frankl was a therapist who was in the concentration camps. Its a very dignified exposition of the beauty of the human spirit and what makes us 'good' and 'bad'. Riveting. Fascinating.

LOVE this book. Very short very readable.

Some prisoners when their backs were against the wall became horribly ruthless and cruel in order to survive at !!!! any price. Others maintained their dignity despite the ravages of the situation and would offer their last piece of bread to another in the most frightful and despairing circumstances.
So you see. We CHOOSE the next right thing (moral restraint and impulse control) or giving in to our reptilian survival impulses, oblivious to the next man. Heedlessly following the instinctual, habitual path of least resistance. Which one would you like to be?

"Live as if you were living already for the second time and as if you had acted as wrongly as you are about to act now!"
p114 Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

I realized that I do the above without realizing when I speak to newcomers or sponsor people. I easily see the fork ahead in the road leading to an alternate destination were I to NOT explain to them how to dig themselves out of the hole. It is what motivates me to pass it on. The !!!! carnage and destruction down road B motivates me to TRY to educate them to travel down road A. so yeah I like this maxim.

..and describing a talk he gave his fellow prisoners after a !!! bleak and awful day:
"I asked the poor creatures listening to me attentively in the darkness of the hut (reminds me of Bill Wilson talking gravely to the assembled huddle of alcoholics in his kitchen) to face up to the seriousness of our position. They must not lose hope but must keep their courage in the certainty that the hopelessness of our struggle did not detract from its dignity and its meaning. I said that someone looks down on each of us in difficult hours-a frind, a wife, somebody alive or dead, or a God-and he would not expect us to disappoint him. He would hope to find us suffering proudly -not miserably....................The purpose of my words was to find a full meaning in our life, then and there, in that hut, and in that practically hopeless situation. I saw that my efforts had been successful. When the electric bulb flared up again, I saw the miserable figures of my friends limping toward me to think me with tears in their eyes."
p91 Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor E. Frankl

Fantastic book. Go get it. Takes an afternoon to read.
Have a fabulous Thursday!

I am oblivious to xmas so far. Just concentrating on study at the moment. Trust me. "Its just another day". Really. "There are no big deals" and all that. Hehe but I !! LOVE swerving all the seasonal palaver. Social ritual seems utterly meaningless to me. "It is only with the heart that one can see rightly. What is essential is invisible to the eye" as they say.

Outward stuff is just 'stuff'. So I am not terribly interested in it. I try to make sure I have no ketchup stains on my shirt (heheh) and all that, but above and beyond presentation (for the purposes of being considerate), my interest in plumage and ? nest building is a big fat zero. Hehe
So yeah do all that stuff if you REALLY want to but Im telling you it means NOTHING to me. Absolutely nothing. Kindness never goes out of fashion, but the palaver and running around I can do without.

Right gotta go.!!! Mind your head! :) Especially if you are in your first year. (Because it's nearly xmas and people tend to go a bit mad if they are not vigilant)

Buy half price vitamins in November and December

Because they are FULL price in January.
I bought about a years worth of super !! high quality vitamins today at half price. I remembered that this time of year is a GREAT time to buy cheap vitamins as everyone is waaay too busy buying mince pies and things that make you fat. So yeah. Now's a good time. Just thought id mention that.
But who knows perhaps they will be cheap all year due to the economics? Gawd knows.
Whatever. Just thought I would share that.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

AA is not a social club: Friendship in AA is a bonus, not a given.

Firstly let me say I DO know people in AA that are real friends and whose friendship I do value. What I mean here is that I do not use AA as a social club.
I do not go there to 'take', I go to 'give' and therefore "perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others" (p14, AA Big Book)
Because I want to 'survive the certain trials and low spots ahead" (p15, AA Big Book)
Because the big book tells me it is "imperative to work with others as he had worked with me. Faith without works was dead" (p14, AA Big Book)
So yeah. Meetings are for doing SERVICE.
Everything else is secondary.

12 step meetings are for doing service. Not for making friends. As such. Would you look to make friends from people in a psychiatric ward? We are here because we have a VERY serious mental illness, of which one of the symptoms is a devastating recurring blind spot that conveniently forgets "the suffering and humiliation" (p24, AA Big Book) of past drinking. Amongst other things.

"We are unable, at certain times, to bring into our consciousness with sufficient force the memory of the suffering and humiliation of even a week or a month ago. We are without defense against the first drink." (p24, AA Big Book)
Even though we "vaguely sense I was not being any too smart," (p36, AA Big Book)
We have the "curious mental phenomenon that parallel with our sound reasoning there inevitably ran some insanely trivial excuse for taking the first drink." (p37, AA Big Book)
So basically we are a pretty !! mad bunch. In SIGNIFICANT ways. Not minor ones.
Our blind spots are life threatening, until we rid ourselves of this "curious mental phenomenon" (p37, AA Big Book) by completing the first nine steps with the help of a competent sponsor. And keeping it in remission with steps 10 11 and 12.

Most are preoccupied with self. Few seriously think of others. We are all different. It takes ages to teach people how to think of others. 12 step progs can provide a great excuse to become terribly self absorbed whilst deluding oneself that one is a spiritual giant. Easy to do!

I look for friends outside AA mostly, and if friendship occurs in AA I see it as a bonus. Sponsees are good friends as they understand me better than most regardless of how little I see them or speak to them. (more like ex Sponsees at the moment as I am waaay to busy to sponsor at the mo)

I have found face to face is not necessary for friendship and support, but yes we are social animals and we tend to perform worse without the pressures and conflicts social interaction provide. Without these rough spots, we never grow tolerance patience or acceptance.
I find I need time spent being sociable with friends less and less, as I feel connected to them all the time anyway. But yes I need social stimulation to function well.

So I like being around others because I learn from them and am supported by them. But friendship and support comes from absent friends too. People who are not 'in the building'. Books can be friends. Books can be teachers.
Active imagination can feel as real to me as people are. Sometimes feels more real than physical presence. So I can get support without the other needing to be in the building. So to speak.

As regards general friendship. It is the norm that whomever instigates social functions inevitably deals with reluctance and flakiness from those they invite and organize for.
If you are naturally thoughtful of others, be grateful for this natural orientation of the mind that you possess, but do not expect to find it often in others. Do not think people feel and think the same as you and get surprised when you find out they are not. That would be a great recipe for disillusionment. You would be falling prey to Idealism.

My home group was very ? Girl guide aa. Meaning we did it by the book. Were very morally/ethically restrained. In the same way you might expect a paid professional to be. Restraint of tongue and pen. Etc. (Step 10 12x12) a basic ethics principle of 'do onto others as you would.."

10th step 12x12
“Our first objective will be the development of self-restraint. This carries a top priority rating. When we speak or act hastily or rashly, the ability to be fair-minded and tolerant evaporates on the spot. One unkind tirade or one willful snap judgment can ruin our relation with another person for a whole day, or maybe a whole year. Nothing pays off like restraint of tongue and pen.”

Most meetings do not work from a basic ethics principle of "Helping others IS the foundation of your recovery". (p97, AA Big Book) or "constant thought of others and how we can help meet their needs" (p20, AA Big Book)
so yeah, people can be very flaky and unreliable.
In the main, my home group members could be relied upon absolutely as they were expected to be in 'service mode' ! constantly. It just went with the territory. Service, service and !!! more service!!!!
"the absolute necessity of demonstrating these principles* in all my affairs" (p14, AA Big Book)
*The principle here refers to: "to perfect and enlarge his spiritual life through work and self-sacrifice for others" (p14, AA Big Book) and "constant thought of others and how we can help meet their needs" (p20, AA Big Book)

So. For finding people who are capable of being good friends in AA, it is always a good idea to find the MOST SERVICE ORIENTATED members and meetings in your area that you can find, as they tend by and large to be more reliable and considerate than others. Stick with the winners as best you can. Principles before personalities*. Just go to where there is most recovery, and don't get sidetracked by other social trends such as similar background or other considerations.

*(Tradition 12: "ever reminding us to place principles BEFORE personalities.")

So if you want friends that better meet your needs I suggest:
Ask your HP to guide you to the people, places and things that support your spiritual growth the MOST.
And ask for the KNOWLEDGE and POWER to carry out that journey. No matter WHERE it takes you.

"praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." Step 11. (p59, AA Big Book)
Then do the footwork. You paddle. God steers.

Cool huh? Scary as well. But that's what growing up is about. We never know where we will end up..
TRUE open mindedness is not for the faint hearted!

Hey gotta go. Have a great Tuesday!!

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Attending AA Meetings in Second Life

Second life is a virtual world and here is their website.

Here is a pic of the 12 Step Recovery Meeting Hall. Inset is the interior and the sunset pic is an example of a more ! attractive environment one could create as a meeting venue. Meaning the range of options is !!! limitless and this recovery hall looks a little ! Spartan. The meeting could be held in space, in a jungle, anywhere ! really. Gawd knows. Perhaps a more 'plain' one is better.. ? No idea.
To set up a 12 step meeting.
Figure out a weekly time that suits you.
Then IM Spike Willard to request a schedule weekly meeting.
That's it. Job done.

Or else just show up at the same time after you tell your mates in SL.
Or set up your own meeting hall. Even better!

I had a look at second life and immediately saw !!! Loads of stuff that hadn't been added yet and immediately wanted to create about a !! dozen environments.
Anyway. This is only the online version of 'cleaning under the cooker' when a more !!! onerous task presents itself. Of which right now I have MANY :)
A pointless distraction basically.

But yeah. Its interesting, but I imagine it's use will reflect the web trend of being led primarily by po*n and sexual activity. But hey, just like the web has done, beter things will piggy back on that online trend and eventually environments will emerge that appeal to our vastly superior (Yeah right!) Tastes!! :)

So yeah. Go waste even MORE time than you already do on the net by sorting yourself out some Avatar and waste MASSES of time being a tourist in virtual environments. Hehe
There is a bog standard naff looking avatar you can get upon registration, but it should do. First name is the interesting. Second name is predesignated. Ie so a bit naff. But first name is whatever you like to call oneself.

So there you go. Just thought I would share that with you :)

Like any new medium I advise being a tourist and hanging around before you commit to anything. But that's just me. I always prefer to err on the side of caution.

But seriously there is a TON of stuff I would love to set up but my free time is a bit too thin on the ground right now so I figured I would put the idea out there for all you guys to jump on in your inimitably enthusiastic ! alcoholic fashion. ...If you ? fancy it anyway. Or just to mull over.
I don't use online meetings as typing takes far too long and I don't feel the urge to take part. SL meetings offer you the option to talk as well as type. So the time wasting part of typing can be avoided. Whatever. Other people could eavesdrop though unless you restrict access to the meeting space. Also there may be audio controls you can implement which will restrict who can overhear spoken conversations. I'm sure it's all doable though, if you can be ! bothered figuring it all out. So yeah privacy issues may be relevant. Anonymity as well. Obviously. So yeah there is stuff to figure out. But im sure you tech heads will figure it out in a heartbeat. :)
There are tools online (including the HStick - Proximity Scanner) that allow you to detect the presence of other visitors to your site
Hehe Go shopping crazy in onrez.com and go buy yourself a castle as a venue :)
If you LOVE shopping you may find Second Life very !! addictive Im afraid!

So there you go.
Right I'm off!
Too much stuff to do! Oh well
Doesn't help that I'm sat here instead of getting on with it!
Have a gorgeous Tuesday! :)

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Happy Joyous and Free: Inspirational Speech by Dr. Randy Pausch

This is great if you haven't already seen it. There are many entries on you tube and the full length final speech is also on there.
I really like his approach.
No victim mentality.
Fun. Enthusiasm. "We insist upon enjoying life" What that means...being "Happy joyous and Free"
The love inherent in constructive criticism.
Loads !! really. Its a great lecture. This is the short 10min version he did on Oprah. Hope you like :)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Andrew at The 4th Avenue Blues is precisely ONE YEAR sober today

Andrew at The 4th Avenue Blues is precisely ONE YEAR sober today.
I have been watching him deal with all manner of difficult circumstances and am terribly !!! happy to see that he has accomplished one years recovery a day at a time. I find him particularly generous hearted and totally without arrogance or unkindness, except unconsciously toward himself in the form of self doubt and deprecation.
What a lovely guy! He has come an ! astonishingly long way in the last 365 days and is an example to all of us, that presuppose our life circumstances mean we cannot get well using the programme of recovery.
His recovery inspires me and I am profoundly happy to see how differently he relates to his family and the world since he realized drinking was no longer working for him. His steady improvement is wildly impressive.

His kindness and generosity literally shine out of what he writes, but I know he cannot see these things anything like as clearly as others are able to see them in him. I look forward to the day when he is better able to see what a worthwhile, inspirational, kind and compassionate human being he truly is.
Ah bless. So go wish him happy aa anniversary if you feel so inclined. :)

Well !! done !! Andrew. Happy AA Anniversary!!!!!
There are PLENTY more of those anniversaries available to you, a day at a time. Virtual cake and streamers your way!
Keep coming back Friend. It gets better.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008

'Unlocated': Distresses and exasperates the thinking mind.

That's my favorite word of the day. Something that defies ? Location. Cannot specify its boundaries. Does not have a 'postcode'. Like no beginning and no end. Doesn't start 'here' and end 'there'.
Cant be grasped by the mind. Cannot be held. Cannot be possessed. Defies being 'pinned down' to a specific meaning or place in the world.
Feels slippery in the mind. And makes the mind flail around getting more and more upset as its limited range of function cannot 'get' it. Very upsetting for the mind. Very frustrating.
Cannot be encapsulated by a neat mental code or description. Just when you think you've got it you haven't. Like trying to capture a butterfly in your hand. The moment you exert yourself to contain it, the moment vanishes and the butterfly is squashed by the act of grasping.
Its like walking a rope but forcing yourself not to look down. You deprive yourself of the opportunity to get a 'fix' on your location. And you STAY that way. Free floating unlocated undefined experience. Scary!

I think the first time AA's get this type of experience is when they try to define a higher power. ..Well once they have settled into AA and start trying to think about what an HP actually is.
When people are new they tend to be very !!! confident about whatever their belief happens to be. That there IS a god, or there is NO god, or that they are an ATHEIST. Basically its all very neat and tidy. All sorted. Even if they are undecided they are very confident about the fact that they are undecided. Full of confidence in their beliefs basically.

The 'HP' defies definition. And so the act of mentally trying to define it will exasperate the mind, and always have an unfinished quality. Something lacking. Something not yet located.
This is what Amaro calls unlocated, and he often refers to this term when he talks about things.
I have the same experience when I (!) try to understand monastics or the like. I get the same slippery exasperating, unfinished quality of mind in their presence.

The pathetic hankering of the mind to satisfy it's need to DEFINE everything and create boundaries for every experience makes me laugh. Its pathetic really. Such an inadequate attempt to nail down some thing that cannot be nailed down. Reminds me of a cat pathetically pawing at the door trying to get in. kind of feeble. Gets the mind nowhere. Just an instinctive ITCH (what Amaro would call the grasping mind) to get an answer. To define and categorize everything.

Being around unlocated people is weird too. I get that feeling around monks and nuns and the like. They are neither one thing nor the other. They are neither here nor there. You cannot nail em down. They !!!!! confuse the brain. Thankfully they also create something whilst in their presence that reassures sufficiently so as to not create a sense of !! total flailing. There is a parallel experience of 'all is well' in addition to the unlocated presence they emanate.

Every now and again I (stupidly) think I can second guess these kinds of people. I try really hard to guess what they will reply to questions and answers sessions for instance. What I LOVE about them, is that they never say what I anticipate. Which is great.

An example of just how valuable this quality is, is to examine its polar opposite. (This is just an idea and may be worthless BTW). But we all have got to know a troll who posts abusive hate speech about AA in defiance of the regulations Blogger and google imposes upon such acts.
But that's beside the point. What's very interesting is how 'located' his thought forms are. There is nothing inherent in his statements that renders uncertainty in any form. All is certain. All is 'placed'. All is nailed down.
Well I don't think you can nail the universe down. Or any of its constituent elements. There are many clues in his speech which point to greed hatred and delusion, so I'm not claiming to have stumbled upon anything particularly clever here. I'm just saying that the 'fixed position' is the opposite of 'unlocated'.
And that I do not trust any kind of fixed position. I see the exception to the rule, splintering the validity of the 'rule'.
But there you go. Open minded versus fixed closed positions on the world. Nothing new there. But yeah I am in love with the word 'unlocated' at the moment. It is helping me see where I would like my mind to be, and to teach me to learn how to endure the distress in the mind when all attempts to categories and name 'it', fail.
But there you go.

Hehe. Anyway. That's today's pointless meanderings. Like I always say. Amaro say it much, much better than I ever could, and manages mot to sound like a pompous fool when he says them. So if any of this piques your curiosity, then listen to how he explains it in his mp3's. He's very, very good. Well I think so..

And I hope you americans manage to do the 'next right thing' when you vote today. Which I hope you will. I am sure I need not remind you of the voting conditions that led to the last US president being voted in. Basically ALL the votes would appear to count after all, if the last election is anything to go by.
My favorite old timer used to say "Ask yourself.. Which is the most COMPASSIONATE person/party? ..when deciding who to vote for" which I found useful.
We may not have an ideal person or party to vote for, but the least we can do is vote for the lousy best out there and see what happens. If we wait for ideal conditions, we will be waiting a Loooonnng!!!! time! So please follow your conscience and express your right to choose the lousy best out there. It may help or it may not, but you just never !!!!! know. No harm in trying.
So yes, good luck to all you ! anxious americans out there. Hope your nerves are not too shattered. :) Good luck!
Anyway. I'm off. I have essays to write :) as usual! Have yourselves a grand old Tuesday.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Life is a lot more like Vanilla Sky than you would think

Vanilla sky is about a man who is experiencing a nightmare which he believes is his real life until he is FORCED to examine his experience more carefully because of 'pain and unremitting suffering'.
Admittedly. His experience is a bit trippy at times. One person changes into another for instance. So we won't experience it in quite this (!) dramatic way. But yeah. He is dreaming. But he doesn't know it.
The nightmare gets his attention, and he struggles with familiar unconscious parts of himself (the therapist and old friend) in his attempt to make sense of the predicament he finds himself in.

More importantly the film VERY ACCURATELY shows how the TINIEST act can literally pull the whole thing apart.
Not just a mediocre of average thing.
But a SERIOUSLY GREAT, seemingly bullet proof thing.
Yes. I'm afraid that's a reality we are ALL capable of experiencing. At one year sober or 50 years sober. Our flaws and lack of judgment, or innocent oversight can pull everything down around our ears. Everything.

Basically its a lesson in cause and effect, impermanence, (that everything can disappear in a moment) and the maxim, 'you snooze you lose'. Very painfully illustrated by the devastating effect of Toms momentary decision to take a short car ride with Cameron.
Yeah I know its a very theatrical scene in the sense that Cameron acts like a !! total loon in the car, but even if we do not meet total loonys, we can STILL fall foul of poor choices that REALLY land us in it. They can be VERY SMALL and SEEMINGLY INSIGNIFICANT choices. And in their isolated sense, they probably are.
But in regard to the knock on effect down the line. They are NOT.
And that is how the world IS im afraid.
You would become TOTALLY paranoid about the smallest acts if you knew how tragic events trail back to insignificant sources. So its just as well we cannot see the causal links so clearly.
Anyway. I digress. As usual.

But yeah. Life is like vanilla sky. It really is. More so than you realize.
Its a great undiscovered film. Nobody realizes what a great metaphor it is.
Very accurate in a lot of ways.

For those of you that routinely experience the metal tape loop of

"when anyone said they liked me I used to think one of two things.
They were either LYING
Or they were STUPID"

(And I count myself among one of the people that experience that particular mental tape loop of destructive self loathing)
Then the TOTAL MISJUDGEMENT of the love that Toms character HAD during his life THAT HE HAD NO CLUE EXISTED
Is a valuable and VERY HUMBLING lesson.

Yes we are VERY OFTEN oblivious to the love and concern that others REALLY have for us.
That's why we look to ? 'feed' off of other fixes. Food. Tv, anything really to absorb into as an 'out', a way of running away from what Amaro calls 'the craving mind' (Tahana) or the hungry ghost as other call it.

Anyway. In his (Toms) despair, he DOES NOT SEE Penelope's love, or his friends love. He is oblivious to the GOOD people in his life. He FAILS to notice them because he is in pain and cannot see the wood for the trees. But unless you really PRACTICE gratitude and ACTIVELY LOOK for the GOOD people and GOOD things in your life, then YOU TOO will miss these wonderful people in your life. They are there already! You just forget to keep looking out for them! Thank god. We all have SOMEBODY who looks out (of HAS looked out for us). Well I think so. Even if we cannot see them. I am sure they are there.

Anyway I digress yet again.
What im saying is that this film is a fantastic illustration of how we unconsciously 'dream' our existence into being, and how the tiniest acts can destroy or save us. How we do not notice the love around us, and how we GET IT WRONG. ALL. THE. TIME.
Even if we are 'nice people'
Even if we 'mean well'
Even when we 'try hard'
Even when we 'do our best'

So yes we are pretty much at the mercy of our habitual thinking, and view of the world. Every (!!) act and thought counts. You snooze you lose. And sometimes you can lose everything on a dime. The tiniest thing.

Is it any wonder that it is so essential to connect with something greater than ourselves?
To 'move toward and become like' something greater than ourselves in order to make sense of the impeccable complexity partnered with utter simplicity? How in !! Gawds name are we supposed to make ANY sense of it all without that?
I have no idea.
Thank god the ? 'heart wisdom' is infinitely more expansive than the mind and can hold dozens of contradictions in place and STILL see the wood for the trees.
Complicated and simple at the same time. And the faultless infinite complexity need not be a problem. Just a feature of the landscape. Just another 'thing' in the mix.

So yes. The mind just doesn't have a strong enough 'engine' to get you there. Whereas the heart is like some sort of ? portal. A gateway into the world the mind simply cannot see. A landscape that sees all. Can hold it all.

Yes it means dropping the thinking mind temporarily. Which can throw you into BLIND PANIC if the only way you have ever ! Tried to make sense of the world is by being able to frame it in some cozy little mental box of classifications.
But yeah. If you can stand the SQIRMING mind bleating in the background because it can't 'fit' the experience into a neat little box,
AND you can resist the urge to let the mind gallop off like a dog with a stick the !! moment it sees a juicy morsel to THINK about, then you might !! just be able to enjoy a nice moment of what sogyal rinpoche calls Just BE (ing)

I have no idea why I decided to type all that.
What I MEANT to say was, Vanilla Sky is a GREAT film and works on MANY levels. All true. So watch it a few times and see what you think.

Imagine (for one horror stricken moment,) that the 'story', might not be such a 'story' after all. But more real than most of the stuff you think of as your daily reality.
Now THAT'S a scary thought. But I am afraid to say I see a lot of reality in that film. Not all of it. But a lot more than you see in most. Which IS scary I suppose.
But never mind eh.
We just do our lousy best and try to stay in (reasonably) fit spiritual condition.
That's all we can do really. Seeing as how we see through the (god dammed) glass SO !!! darkly. Its like we don't really have much choice!

The OTHER great thing about this film, is that it is an accurate reflection of the inherent UNREALITY of the 'nightmare'. is that the nightmare is JUST THAT. A nightmare. Its an illusion. A 'seeming' as Amaro calls it. Important only insofar as to our need to RECOGNIZE it for what it is so that it becomes transparent to us, as opposed to this large looming chunk of reality staring at us. It is not 'real'.
The good news? Like some monk said.. IT IS ALL. ALL. RIGHT. Yet at the same time we are required to be aware of this subtle trick of the mind in order to not be consumed by it. Easy to say. Hard to do.
So there you go. A vaguely cheery note to end on. :)

Sorry for rambling on.
It just once I start I cant stop :)

Right Id better go do some mundane household stuff. Go clean the bathroom and put some laundry on.
Same ol same ol basically.

BTW I am tempted to put a ? warning disclaimer on some of these posts because they are not ? Quite what I normally put here, and I am just kindof typing the first thing that comes into my head. So please do not feel that you have to agree with me or like it. Or anything really. Im just thinking out loud. And I may have got it wrong as I am not used to writing about this. So forgive me if I am sounding a bit cr*p. Im afraid its jus one of those things. Its VERY easy (unfortunately) to sound like a bit f a tw*t when you talk about these things, so you will just have to bear with me while I figure out (if ever!) how to write about ? this type of thing without sounding like a grandiose loon. It aint easy!

Hehe. Right off to tackle the bathroom with a strong cup of tea!

In the meantime, have a great Sunday! I on the other hand.. Have some serious cleaning up to do! Hey ho. Amaros 'zen bliss' (a my sister calls it) will keep me amused in the background!

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Compassion for the 'enemy': The 114yr old monk who stayed alive to protect his attackers karma

At 35mins into the downloadable mp3 of the talk by Amaro called Listening to the mind there is a cool story which I thought I would share about having compassion for ones enemies. It sort of goes like this. Its a true story but I cant make out the spelling of the monks name. Amaro will know, but I haven't emailed nim to ask.

The true story of great master (cannot tell spelling from audio which is a shame) Siu yung.who at the age of 114 was attacked by the red guard.
He restored monasteries that were being destroyed by the communist party. He was so influential and so loved in china that at the time of the communist revolution the red guard came round and beat him up when he was 114 years old. They beat him with wooden clubs and left him for dead. Broken and bleeding. But he survived. He didn't die.
His fellow monastic took care of him, looked after him and were amazed at his strength and his resilience and he recovered.
Some weeks later the red guard found out he was still alive and they went back and beat him up again with steel bars. Broke his bones, and bust his head and he was incredibly injured. And everyone was sure he was going to die.
He was Incredibly hurt and was in incredible pain. And even his disciples, who loved him dearly, thought, "even though he'd been so injured and so hurt, the great master isn't dying. It must be out of compassion for us, that he's holding on, because he knows how upset we'll be if he passes away.
So they said to him. 'please, don't just hang on to life. Your bones are all broken, your organs are smashed, you're in such terrible pain. Please don't hold on to life just because you think that we will be upset if you pass away. If its time for you to die. Please don't just hang on to life for our sake. "
He said. "its not for you. I am deliberately holding on and staying alive. But its not for you. Its for the soldiers who beat me. Because if I died, the karma that they would create would be so terrible, I couldn't be responsible for that. So I'm staying alive. But its for their sake. Not for you."
And he lived for another SIX years after that. Wisely the communist army left him alone an he lived till 1959."

Nice huh?
Well I liked it.
Just goes to show. There's no excuse for hatred. Amazing !! levels of compassion are possible. Wow.
Right I'm off. Have a fabulous Wednesday!

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

A little Ego massaging diversion from the repetitive realities of life

Apparently I am the guru! Hehehe.. ermmm. yeah right. As Lydia from Writerquake said.. 'well hardly' but yeah, like her I can recognize myself in some parts of this description. Probably we all can, on some level or other. But that doesn't matter.

"You Are the Guru

You are a naturally good counselor. You are inspiring, encouraging, and compassionate.
You are eager to help everyone who crosses your path, even those who don't want to be helped.

You are a natural healer. People feel at peace when they are with you.
You are so good for people, in fact, that they go through withdrawal once you're gone.

You quietly do your own thing, without openly resisting. You secretly try to fix every problem.
Your biggest regret is not being able to help as many people as you'd like."

Cool. No mention of 'restless, irritable and discontent' which is always nice to hear! If somewhat (!!!) idealistic. ..but hey what do you expect..they seem to have ! skipped the fallible human bit, but I'm not complaining! Rose tinted? Bring it on! hehee

Go check out the link and get yourself a blemish-free character portrayal from this site. A little bit of pointless ego massaging can be fun if you take it with a pinch of salt..
What role do you play?

I got it from johnos blog, who found it through Lydia @ Writerquake who also appears to be a guru! Cool! There are clearly far more Gurus and Kings around than I thought there were!
Its kind of fun :)

Tired? SUPER healthy RAW veg soup that tastes like 'normal' veg soup to give you more energy

When I am stressed and have a LOT on, eating raw vegtables can double my energy levels and allows my body and mind to cope with the flurry of activity. I get more done. I need less sleep. I call this 'exam food', as I used it when I was sleeping very little coming up to exams. Partly because I was a bit wired about the exams and partly because I was trying to revise as many hours as I could. I figured out a few raw food recipes, but i particularly liked this one.
Its just a variation of bog standard miso soup, but including a BIG serving of RAW broccoli (or some other green veg) to be eaten without you ever noticing ! you are eating raw food.

Just thought I would share that with you as I 'discovered' this last Easter when I REALLY needed all the physical and mental energy I could get my hands on!
Its a neat trick. Raw foods made a HUGE impact on my energy levels and I am not much good at eating tons of raw veg in their 'normal' state, (apart from carrot sticks which are EASY) so this soup was a way of sneaking MORE raw broccoli etc into my diet without me noticing. It seemed to work! I was sleeping for two to three hours and getting up and doing a full days revision. I would wake at 2am and start studying because I was wide awake. So yeah, it enables you to crank more hours out of the day. Oh and of course MASSES of cups of tea help to keep me awake as well!

Tastes like 'normal' vegetable soup to me. I would have NO idea it was all raw veg added to previously boiled water. Its a kind of comfort food. I think it tastes great. You may hate it and that's fine too! It sounds a bit bleh! But tastes like the 'proper' vegetable soups they serve in fancy restaurants in central London. If you like DECENT broccoli or veg soup, (as opposed to the glutinous artificial stuff you get in tins and packets), you will like this. Its tastes better than it sounds. Basically. Sounds a bit 'goody two shoes' (meaning a bit cr*p) but actually tastes really nice. Well I think so..

So in the time it takes to boil some ginger and garlic for five minutes and whizz some broccoli in the blender, your meal is ready!
I can have two HUGE bowls of this in one sitting as a meal. It really feeds the body without making you feel 'stuffed'.
The only fats are in the Udo oil blend, but they are essentail fats, so that is ok. But go easy on the oil. You don't need much.

This amount will serves one hungry person or two very restrained people. Makes 2 BIG bowls of very low calorie and extremely nutritious soup. Its an instant food in that you have to eat it as soon as you make it as it the vegetables will oxidize and become less raw if you leave it. Raw shredded vegetables generally are much better if you eat them straight away.

The cooking part
2 cloves of Garlic
Fresh Ginger
5-10 Almonds if you want protein
A mushroom or two if you want.

Put a pint and a half water in pot. Add Marigold Organic Swiss Vegetable Bouillon Low Salt Cubes (small amount) Bring to the boil.
While the waer is coming to the boil, pulverise ginger, garlic, almonds, mushrooms in magimix using big rotating blade. Put the 'mooshed' bits into the water.
Let it rapid boil for 5 minutes or so.
While its boiling, use a hand blender in the pan to whizz it up even more

Turn the heat off. Let the water calm down.
Add all the other ingredients and then use the hand blender in the pan to pulverize it all and mix it up
Serve immediately

The raw ingredients.
Raw vegetables. Can be:
Head of Broccoli
Pack of Sugar snap peas
Bag of Raw spinach leaves
A bag of Alfalfa Sprouts, or mixed sprouts

Ideally something GREEN. Not too starchy. I haven't tried Savoy cabbage, as I really like the broccoli version. All are 'mooshed' in the magimix and then added to the previously boiled water once the heat has been turned off.

The raw condiments
Organic Miso paste
Organic Sprouted Flax Powder
Marigold Engevita Nutritional Yeast Flakes
Udo's Choice Ultimate Oil Blend or another 3, 6 9 oil.
You can also add Bragg Liquid Amino Seasoning but its a bit salty so you probably wont need it.

No added salt or pepper
Miso and Bouillon add salt
Raw ginger acts as pepper

If you add bread to the soup, it will make you tired and reduce the energizing effects significantly. Bread just makes you TIRED. Oh well. Plus its addictive! ..For people like me anyway!

Another good healthy food is brown basamti rice with chick peas or some other kind of pulse. The Udo oil, yeast flakes, flax sprouts and amino seasoning added at the end make it even more nutritious.
I am not so good at this food because it is more starchy and I can eat rice like it Is going out of fashion. But yeah. This gives the body all it wants in terms of nutrients. Apparently. Rice and beans is a staple vegetarian meal.

Right I'm off. Have a great Tuesday!

Thursday, September 11, 2008

The World (of the 'Self') that has been pulled over your eyes, to blind you from the truth

At the risk of sounding like someone who does not really know !!! (at ALL) what they are talking about, (!) I thought I would share this..
I KNOW I am not the greatest (!!) Authority about this, but I am very excited about this, like I am with most new things I am TRYING to learn, and in my attempt to understand it better myself, I thought that if I TRIED to put it into my own words, it MIGHT make more sense to me, or I might just organize my thoughts better so here goes...
(It helps me even if it makes no sense to you whatsoever!! Heehe )

The above utube (here is a link to the Matrix blue/red pill scene because the link above appears to be no longer working. The part I like starts 50 seconds in.) the is a dialogue clip from the Matrix which I think works as a VERY useful metaphor on loads of levels. A metaphor for The 'dream world' we inhabit when we are 'captivated' or 'caught up' by the hopelessly ! misleading (but VERY compelling) information habitually flooding our senses and mind. A metaphor for the underlying reality of Non duality that goes unseen. No self: the illusion of self. Non existence of time: the illusion of time.

Its like we are little babies getting distracted by a 'glittering bauble' being dangled in front of our eyes, and we are failing to notice all the OTHER !! conditions around us. All we can see is the 'glittery thing' that glints and catches our attention. The glittery thing is sight, sound, the chatter and murmurings of the mind. The WORDLESS BELIEFS in the mind. The surges of the mind to ? GET something, or get AWAY from something. Primal SURGES of one thing or another. Such as..
Can I eat it? Can it eat me? Can I mate with it? .. (As Amaro says in his talks) They take centre stage, And we don't even notice. Shame really.

Or they HIJACK us from the wings with whispered blurry unquestioned half-truths we just never think to question because they feel so .. 'normal'.
Basically the way our senses and our mind are conditioned to interpret the world is very partial, habitual, and accepted unquestioningly.
If you look closer what you find is all the senses look hopelessly inadequate. And the way the mind habitually interprets them is very lazy and pathetically caught up in itself. Not logical at all. If you calm down enough to see ? 'past' all the mental chatter and pointless mind meanderings, and actually question the reliability of the information coming in via the senses, it all starts to look a LOT !! More insubstantial. Like a cloud passing by. Vapor. So one the 'worldly objects' are reduced to ? Nothing containing any substance. Whereas the space in which all those things arise and disappear takes on a WHOLE new significance and looks like the REAL thing going on in the background.
Or something.

Anyway. Its what's BEHIND all that ? activity we get caught up in, that Is interesting. The more quiet the mind gets, the easier it is to watch for those pauses between breaths of bits of inactivity. Plus as you get more chilled out with all the different distracting baubles floating about in the ? Mind, then you can kind of watch them without breaking a sweat and stand firm, resisting the tidal surge to heedlessly follow each new impulse.
Basically kind of watch the 'show' from the sidelines, instead of being IN the 'show'.
And when you do that, you start to see that the 'show' is not really YOU.
Just some weird sh*t 'happening' on the stage in front of you.
Anyway. When that happens, the whole sense of identity shifts from a 'personal' ME to a more ? Impersonal ? Awareness. Not a ME. Something else. A cooler ? Something ? else, which is not a ME.
Anyway. Whatever it is. It feels more spacious. More free. Less personal. Not from the world of ? THOUGHT. Comes from a ? Feeling place. A 'quiet knowing'.
Its nice whatever it is.
But yeah every time you start congratulating yourself on what a COOL person you are for managing to get even ! This far. You are immediately SUCKED back onto the stage where you are right back to being a ME again. Sheesh..
There are no days off basically.
But yeah its a nice trick. Anyone can do it I reckon.
Its quite funny. There you are sitting watching the show. Trying VERY hard to resist the urge to listen to a POINTLESS CONVERSATION going on in the row behind you (somewhere else in the mind) that sounds TERRIBLY INTERESTING, and you manage that, but then don't notice SELF has appeared in the form of a self congratulatory remark, and you start listening to it and BINGO. There you are. Back in the self again. Just goes on and on really. Just when you think you've got it. You don't! Hahaah. Funny old game.

I'm pleased with my progress of my awareness of the 'show' WITHOUT getting caught up in it, when it feels similar to someone persistently COUGHING when you are trying to concentrate on your golf swing. Like I am the golfer, and the coughing is NOT putting me off. Like that really. The ? Reptile brain or Mara as the Buddha liked to call it. The ? 'Evil tempter.' Is ALWAYS trying to put us off our game. And 99.9% of the time it wins. !
But its nice to score a few points against Mara every now and again. Not get SUCKED IN to some POINTLESS inner drama or DISTRACTION, and instead notice the glittering baubles dangling alluringly in the consciousness, are NOT ALL THAT. That there is actually something a LOT more SIGNIFICANT and RESONANT going on VERY quietly in the background. The land of no self. Cool!

But yeah. Sometimes the 'bauble' is indifference, disinterest, dullness. lethargy or boredom. All those are not what you would call a 'quiet' mind. A very sleepy mind! But not a quiet one. So snoozing, or having a mental tea-break, or being 'zoned out' doesn't count I'm afraid! Never mind eh? Rome wasn't built in a day as they say..

Anyway. When you get a better sense of the underlying stuff, you feel a bit SWINDLED by the mind and the senses, and the SELF it conjures up. In much the same way as you feel a bit swindled by the whole 'getting drunk is great' notion after you stop drinking for any length of time. You think... Why didn't anyone tell me it was like THIS??? Jeez. There I have been believing all this SELF sh*te for gawd knows how long, when in fact it was some poxy MIRAGE masquerading as SUBSTANCE. Whatever.
Well that's kind of what it feels like. Like most things. Once you see them for yourself, they seem OBVIOUS and you feel completely CONNED all the time you had no idea. Oh well. Never mind.
Thank you Mr Amaro for helping me look in the right direction and helping me see that. Even if it was just a ! glimpse. It all helps. Doesn't 'cure' me of my senses, but at least I have a SLIGHTLY ! better idea of what I am up against.

In this clip (the way I see it anyway) the 'prison' is the 'world' (meaning 5 senses and the MIND,) and the object being imprisoned by the senses and the chattering mind is the IMPERSONAL existence of 'no-self.' Poor ol NO SELF doesn't get a chance, because there is this MASSIVE smokescreen of SELF going on. MY nose, MY ears, MY thoughts. MY emotions.. etc etc. Yeah right! Look a little closer and there's NOTHING there. ..Meaning the REAL me isn't the endless flow of thoughts emotions and god knows what else. its the ? 'thing' (some people call it the witness) that is AWARE of all that trivial and pretty pointless mind-stuff. Timeless, impersonal unconditioned awareness. not a 'thing'. not a 'person'. Just plain ol awareness! A universal quality. Not a ME quality. Cool not hot. Undistracted not distracted. Steady not fluctuating. There just isn't ANYTHING 'personal' about it.

Anyway here's the part of the Matrix script I like:
I can see it in your eyes.
You have the look of a man who accepts what he sees,
Because he is expecting to wake up.
Ironically, this is not far from the truth....
Do you believe in fate, Neo?

Because I don't like the idea that I'm not in control of my own life.
I know.. exactly what you mean.

Let me tell you why you're here.
You're here because you know something.

What you know you can't explain.
But you feel it.
You've felt it your entire life.

That there's something wrong with the world.
You don't know what it is, but it's there...
Like a splinter in you're mind.
Driving you mad.

It is this feeling that has brought you to me.
Do you know what I'm talking about?

The Matrix?

Do you want to know..what it is?

The Matrix is everywhere.
It's all around us
Even in this very room.
You can see it when you look out your window.
Or when you turn on your television.
You can feel it when you go to work.
When you pay your taxes.

The Matrix is the world that has been pulled over your eyes,
to blind you from the truth.

What truth?

That you are a slave, Neo.
Like everyone else.
You were born into bondage
Born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch.
A prison...for your mind.

Unfortunately, no one can be told what the Matrix is.
You have to see it for yourself.

This is your last chance.
After this. There is no turning back.
You take the blue pill.
The story ends.
You wake up.
And believe.. whatever you want to believe.

You take the red pill.
You stay in wonderland.
And I show you just how deep the rabbit hole goes

Tuesday, September 09, 2008

What do you WANT to happen? Well then, ..IMAGINE living !! that reality

The above video is Adventures in Success by Will Powers.
This ? Trick was called Metaphysics by ? booksellers. All the books i bought ages ago had the typed label 'Metaphysics' as a subject guide on the back. Perhaps they classify them as something else now. I dont know as I haven't looked at a new one for at least ? 10 years.
It is encapsulated (as are so man other realities) by one of my favorite ! slogans:

You MOVE TOWARDS, and BECOME LIKE, THAT WHICH YOU THINK ABOUT, whether it is good for you, or bad for you

Similar slogans are:
You'll see it when you believe it
"We are what we think. All that we are arises with our thought. With our thoughts, we make our world." ~The Buddha
What you 'see' is what you 'get'
Thoughts Become Things...choose the good ones!

Basically. Whatever you tend to dwell on shows up more and MORE.
So if you have a habitually complaining mind. Guess what shows up? Yep. More of the complain type stuff. Well that's what I find.
Like attracts like.
The same principle is explained in the film The Secret
Cosmic ordering works along the same principle. There are a ton of books on Metaphysics. Called Manifestation, cosmic ordering and gawd knows what else. TONS of books basically all saying just about the same thing.

The AA version goes like this:
"The more you think about the problem, the bigger the problem gets. The more you think about the solution, the bigger the solution gets."
"When I focus on what's good today, I have a good day, and when I focus on what's bad, I have a bad day. If I focus on a problem the problem increases: if I focus on the answer, the answer increases."
(p451, AA Big Book) Third Edition. Personal stories: Doctor, Alcoholic Addict

The jist is.
You IMAGINE living the ? Thing you want. And well.. This is where it starts sounding a bit ! Odd. Well I find that it pretty much tends to come into being.
I'm a little lazy with this technique as I tend to wait untill my back is against the wall and I really need to GET (whatever it is) sorted in a very short while, and THEN I get round to doing this!
But yeah. Every time I do it, it seems to work.
SO while I am on a short study break I am going to do some of this stuff. Jobs id like to get down the line, etc etc. I feel no sense of urgency at the moment because I don't have any ? Immediate problems as such, but it will help me no end if I get a CRYSTAL CLEAR image in my mind of EXACTLY the reality I would like to see myself in.

Reminds me of that song Adventure in Success by Will powers.
But I much prefer the Stanton Warriors version which is not for sale on iTunes, which is a total drag.
Stanton Warriors - Adventures In Success by 679 Recordings If you REALLY want I can tell you where you can get an mp3 of the 679 vinyl track, but you'll have to email me!

So ! STOP!!!!!!! Dwelling on the PROBLEM
Think instead of " What would it look like WITHOUT !! the problem?"
Go on! Imagine it!!!!
Yes. It requires a bit of imagination and WORK. But yeah its worth it.
Sit down and paint the picture. Write it down. Like a list.
Then step into the shoes of the new imaginary You and see how it feels to be that person. To have that life. To feel inside the way you always wanted to feel inside. Imagine what it feels like to be 'there' NOW.
What's it like? Was it what you thought it would be ?
Interesting isn't it?
And just 'visit' this new you by stepping into the shoes for 5mins a day or so. A little trip to the new psyche you always wanted, and just 'be' in that new persona for 5 mins or so. Like breaking in a new pair of shoes. Till it starts feeling VERY normal. Usual. Same ol same ol.

Oh yeah. This ? type of 'exercise' is included in my Step 2 with Sponsees. They are required (as I was) to get to see their powerlessness AND unmanageablity in Step 1. A very specific, CRYSTAL CLEAR list of their failings. Their inabilty to control their drinking, etc.
In Step 2 I asked them on EACH failing. "What would it look like WITHOUT !! the problem?"
so htey had to go away and think.. "What would it look like WITHOUT !! the alcohol problem?" (ie the need or desire to drink) and they would imagine things like..
''I am having the MOST fun at this party and I am the only one not drinking! Heheee
"I feel fantastic! when I'm out and about, and the thought of a drink could not be further away from my list of things I want to do this evening!"
I LOVE! not drinking. Not drinking when i'm with people seems like the most natural thing in the world!"
"I LOVE dancing on the speakers/ tables sober! Falling off them is no longer a problem! Ha!"

etc etc. You get the picture.
WHY do they do this? Because ther is NO POINT in asking a higher power to 'restore you to sanity' if you have NO CLUE what 'sanity' looks like!!! The EASIER it is to 'see' what sanity IS, the more motivated you will be to get there!
I see no point in mouthing the ords of the steps if all they are is just a WORD. I want each sponsee to know EXACTLY what sanity would look like IN THIER LIFE.
After all the Big Book tells us we need to be SPECIFIC (p20, AA Big Book) (ie not vague) in the ay we do the steps. So a VAGUE understanding of what sanity IS, will NOT DO. Heheh.
Step 2 is like dangling a carrot in front of the sponsee.
Once they see what sanity looks like, they get excited about getting well. they start looking forward to step 9. thank GOD. Makes my job easier, and thats all that matters !!! Hhehee

Another cool trick is to imagine a person you admire. (Can be anyone)
Think of all the cool things you like about them. Why you appreciate them.
Imagine them standing in the room with you.
Stand up and walk over to where they 'are'. Stand inside their 'space'.
See the world through their eyes.
What does the world look like now?
How do you feel about the situations presenting themselves to you now?

Lyrics to Adventures in Success by Will Powers.
"You are an important person.
A rare individual.
A unique creature.
There has never been anyone just like you and never will be.
You have talents and abilities no one else has.
In some ways you're superior to any other living person.
The power to do ANYTHING you can imagine is within you when you discover your real self by practicing a few simple laws of success.

First law of success.
Take inventory of your assets.
Don't be modest or critical.
Be open and objective.
Get a pencil and paper.
Write down every good thins about yourself you can think of.

Second law of success.
Write a description of the person you'd like to be.
Describe your personal dress, your home, your automobile, your desired occupation and income.
Now, go even deeper
Describe the INNER person you'd like to be.
Let your mind run WILD.
Assume you can become ANYTHING that you desire.
The fact is, you WILL become the person you HONESTLY describe.
You CAN'T avoid it.

Third law of success.
Concentrate on a mental image of the person you'd like to be.
Paint a picture in your imagination of who you want to become.
Constantly hold this visual in your mind's eye.
See yourself performing and responding like a champion.
Feel the confidence and courage that RADIATE from this type of person.

These three laws are powerful and effective in changing lives.
They'll work for you without fail if you're persistent in applying them."

If you liked this track, other slightly corny but enjoyable ones are on Will Powers Dancing For Mental Health listed here with mp3 samples. But the Stanton warriors 679 Breakbeat version of Adventures in Success is my personal favorite.

Right. On that note! I'm off! Have a fabulous Tuesday!

Sunday, September 07, 2008

What is Love?

Hmm. Yes. Love is very interesting thing. So many different ideas about what it is.
I find "The end of love and hate" by Amaro as very interesting. He mentions sticky, possessive, restrictive, attachment, fixed views, type of love.

I see love as a commitment to doing the next right thing. Being willing to go to any lengths (p76,79, AA Big Book) to do so. Whether my feelings support that aspiration or not.
But I like the aspiration of abandoning all craving. All clinging. "let go absolutely' (p58, AA Big Book) ..as they say
Being able to hold the moment. (not feverishly cling to it) Understand that it is beautiful, but not cling to it or hang on to it longer than it will last. Ask more of the moment than it can deliver.
All beautiful moments pass away and are replaced by other moments. The craving mind is the enemy (for want of a better word) that destroys the peace. Not the inevitable passing of all conditioned reality. The coming and going of all people places and things. 'This too shall pass' as they say. well yes. It does.

Like an aa member in my home group said ? ages ago. Pain is not caused by change. It is caused by RESISTANCE to change.

But I see resistance as nothing more than the CRAVING mind. Trying to hold on to an 'old idea'. (p58, AA Big Book)
It is the craving, the clinging that is the cause of the suffering. Not the conditions.
Anyway, I think you would find Amaros explanation of love and hate as very interesting.

At 16.56 minutes in the talk called "We Are More Than Our Feelings" Munindo talks about fully surrendering to the delight of the moment without getting 'lost' in it. A quiet knowing of the relativity of experience. The impermanence. Its a fabulous talk. Well I think so.

I like Tom's description of love, in his myspace post called "Run from the heard"

"What I find most odd is the extreme confusion over such a simple concept as Love. As a society, we've grown so self-obsessed that most confuse love with lust, and have totally lost the notion of Love as a perfect ideal that's unchanging, true, and an object to die for. It's quite a simple concept when you think about it. However, it's easy for selfish desires to "drug" within us any notion of objective idealism, creating deep rooted subjective confusion. So we can now actually believe such erroneous statements as "we are no longer in love," or "we grew apart," etc. to explain failed relationships.

C.S. Lewis said that "we don't fall into and out of Love like bathwater." Precisely. If we are in Love, we shall forever be in Love. If we presume to have fallen out of Love, then we were never in love in the first place.

The disheartening fact that most relationships break-up or end in divorce suggests that most, sadly, never find true love. But how can they, when they've lost the notion of a perfect ideal to some ever-changing, relativistic lustful feeling construed as Love? I read recently that 10 out of the last 11 relationships on The Bachelor have failed. Well is it any surprise when there's no aspiration to common values, morals, or spiritual beliefs – the necessary elements of Love? Isn't it all rather self-centered chaos ending in recycled failure? When shall we break this tiresome cycle of recycled errors?

I'm not jaded; I'm just not drugged. Whatever I do in this life, I shall not be a herd statistic, and conform to a pervasive and undermining motive of self-centeredness. I'd rather die trying to discover a perfect ideal implanted in my heart by a higher Source, a perfect notion of Love, everlasting beyond Time immemorial, a Love that is the "same yesterday, today and forever," not dependent on fleeting feeling or emotion, though the cause of romantic emotion, beyond happiness and sadness, and underpinned by godly morals and values."

He's linked on my blog in my list of 'people I like' as opposed to an alcoholic blogger. An interesting guy. He's very !! much IN the world, but not OF it. Nice bloke.

Thursday, September 04, 2008

Indescribably wonderful (p17, AA Big Book)

"there exists among us a fellowship, a friendliness, and an understanding which is indescribably wonderful." (p17, AA Big Book)

"We have entered the world of the Spirit." (p83, AA Big Book)

I have no idea how to describe the Thich Nhat Hanh retreat so I'm not even going to try.
Thank GOD, once again it provided me with more answers, more guidance, more insight. I rely completely on stuff like this.
I have no idea how people manage without it. It was magical and special, as usual.

The reason I'm not posting much these days is because I have been using the summer break to try to really get to grips with the talks by Munindo and Amaro. I am really trying to understand the suggested path they are proposing.
What I am finding out, is that it is a very subtle and carefully constructed plan, spanning from heart wisdom and indefinable places. Basically I cannot explain it.
And thankfully I don't have to because Munindo and Amaro do such a fantastic job. My explanation is not required. But yes, I am struggling to grasp what they are saying. I love it, but am very much a beginner in this subject so I find it very hard to remember. I keep forgetting bits and so I keep having to go back over it. Not sure if I am stupid or it is just a very subtle teaching.
Whatever. It is my FAVORITE path at the moment. It makes more sense than all the others. For the time being anyway. Its a weird one.
Very similar and yet very different to AA. More paradoxes than you can shake a stick at. But seriously great. So that's where my brain is at, and has been at most of the summer.
Its hard! Seems much harder than my term time study! But I think I'm addicted.
2 other AA's came along and really loved it. Whatever. Its pointless trying to explain this in words. Its one of those things that doesn't really make sense unless you actually GO. Same as meetings basically. You could never explain a meeting to somebody who had never been. Well retreats with this type of rare individual are very similar. Doesn't really reveal itself to you, till you SHOW UP. Shame, but there you go..

Anyway. There is a very senior Lama (Khensur Lobsang Tenzin Rinpoche) teaching over a three week period in the Jamyang Centre quite soon. I suggest you book very quickly as they sell out faster than hot cakes.

Also I am strongly tempted to attend a retreat with Sogyal Rinpoche as I have never seen 'Crazy Wisdom' in action ,and I think I might like it. It is a less formally restrained type of teaching. I like to think I have adopted a less restrained approach with sponsees so I might find his style of teaching very interesting.
Whatever. I have enough to be getting on with. A heavy duty academic year kicking off in three weeks. Head down till May basically.
Oh well.

But yeah I am a very blissed out bunny at the moment. Very happy with my 'education' into meditation practice over the summer.
Basically I don't watch TV. I very rarely listen to the radio. I only listen to music to keep me awake or during exercise, and the rest of the time I am listening to Amaro and Munindo. So im kindof getting in the groove, and want to hang on to it by maintaining what I have learned for as long as I can. Its SO easy to let this stuff slip.
I've started sitting for a mere 30mins in the morning and I have to say it is a blessed relief. Wonderful. But there you go.
I'm blissed out. I just want to listen to dharma talks and get 'in (and stay in) the zone. We shall see.

Oh yeah. And just as many mountains to climb as ever. I am still (aren't we all?) trying to figure out ways around my negative mental habits. Nothing changes! But I ! love the way it feels at the moment.
I am SO grateful for those recorded talks. That's all I can say. I've ordered DVDs of Thich Nhat Hanh retreat so that will remind me if I've forgotten anything..

Have a great Thursday!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

Thich Nhat Hanh UK Retreat 2008: Nottingham 24th-29th August

There's still time to book this retreat if you feel the urge.
If applications and payment arrive in their office before Tuesday, you are in with a chance. Still places left I think.

350 or 450 quid for Sunday to Friday. All expenses included.
Accommodation is in the Nottingham university campus. Which is a lovely campus as far as know. Green and rambling. Very easy to get to by train from London.

Thich Nhat Hanh is around about 80 yrs old, and he doesn't teach in the UK very often, so for that reason its good to see him if you get the chance. He does regular retreats in France, but its always easier to see him in the uk I think.
Whatever. Just thought I would let you know.
The London talk is sold out. I didn't manage to get tickets as I didn't get one fast enough. The London talk is worth going to. I certainly enjoyed the last one I went to.
Right better be off. Have a nice Sunday!

Retreat details here
Application form here

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Listening to what your mind is saying is like randomly passing through different radio stations

This is stuff I typed from Ajahn Amaro's talk called Imbibing Peace in Body and Mind
The Bracketed numbers are minutes and seconds references to the talk, so you know where to find the bits once you download the mp3 onto your itunes or ipod. Its all his talk. I really like his stuff. Theres a great bit on worry at the beginning but I didn't include it. Here's the talk:

Listening to what your mind is saying is like randomly passing through different radio stations
It has: Different things to say
Different moods
Different flavors
Some are worthwhile and interesting
Some are meaningless
Like: Some politician trying to get you to vote for them
Someone wanting you to buy a truck from their showroom
Someone wanting you to get excited about their new song
A lot of of it is pointless and biased,
and just reiterations of the conditioning of a lifetime.

So its just developing a relaxed attitude toward our own thinking.
The things we are excited about.
The things we are annoyed about.
The things we are afraid of.
The things we are irritated by.
The things we are inspired by.
Get a little bit of distance with our own thinking and own own opinions.

So often the mind has just a reactive, compulsive, lurching quality
Chasing one opinion after another.

"I like this"
"I don't like that"

"This is good"
"That's bad"

"This is right "
"That's wrong"

"It should be this way"
"It shouldn't be like that"

"This is beautiful"
"That's ugly"

"I approve"
"I don't approve"

Like a frantic bunny caught in the headlights dashing from one side of the road to the next in an effort to avoid the oncoming car
Bouncing one way, after another, and another.

Just to be able to step back. Listen to the mind.
Not buy into all of its bouncing around.
Lurching this way and that.
Just to listen to the statements it makes. Like:
"Wow this is really great"
And then just to say, or to ask,.."Is that so?'
"This is terrible!" "This is awful!" "That's the worst thing I've ever seen!"
Respond with: ..Oh. .."Is that so?'

"I'm never ever going to do that again. That was a totally stupid mistake! A total disaster. I'm never going to do that again!"
"This is great! This is it! I am totally with the programme! This is the true way. I'm never going to wobble again. This is absolutely clear to me. This is totally the thing for me!"

Whatever it might be.
Something we are inspired by,
or irritated by,
Or afraid of,
Running away from,

The mind makes all kinds of assertions and judgments:
"This is good"
"That's bad"

"This is right"
"That's wrong"

"It should be this way"
"It shouldn't be like that"

"This is beautiful"
"That's ugly"

"I approve"
"I don't approve"

"This is totally uninteresting. Completely mediocre. Unimportant"

Respond with:
Is that so?

Just to notice. There needs to be an effort.
Normally, what we like to do is pursue our moods. Which is creating the causes of unhappiness.
Blindly follow our moods.
Chase after them. Its a habit. Its a familiar pattern of being.

But if we make the effort to introduce a little bit of a gap, a little bit of space in it.
To give ourselves that room to consider:
Is that so?
Is it really that way?
Is that the whole story?

When the mind says: "This is GREAT!"
Is it so great?
Is is always going to be great?

When the mind says: "Its TERRIBLE!"
Is it so terrible?
Or is it just terrible to me?
How does it feel to other people?
Is this just a point of view?
Or is this an absolute truth?


Even when the mind is vehemently asserting
"Its NOT just an opinion! This is TRUTH!"
"This is GOOD!"
"That's BAD!"
Yes well you really have a strong opinion that this is the truth.
That's a very very strong feeling. A lot of people have other feelings don't they?
Ah. Oh yes..

So just applying that small amount of effort, allowing that small amount of space. Our own natural wisdom is brought into play (35.45) and suddenly we find the world is much more in balance. We are able to harmonize with others. Its not that we are becoming wishy washy, or nebulous, or indecisive about what we do. Its just seeing the whole picture. Feeling how the whole thing fits together. (36.06)

Sometimes just the feeling of trying to dispel a particular kind of attitude.
Maybe the mind is very stuck on an obsession of really wanting something.
Just obsessed with getting this or getting that.
Or obsessed with getting away from something. (37.19)
We can get so used to trying to dispel a feeling, or attitude, that we get habituated to that

"This is bad"
"This is wrong"
"I don't want to feel this way"
"I've got to get rid of this. This thought. This feeling. This attitude. This fear. This aversion. This desire." (37.41)

And so rather than always trying to move away from it, or diminish it, or dissolve it, sometimes the way that we provide that same sort of space around it, the same kind of balancing out, is you take that attitude and you inflate it.
The capacity to take things to absurdity.
So lets say the mind is moving towards self criticism.
"I'm so useless"
"I cant do this properly"

And what I mean by inflating it is
Listening to those judgments
Noticing what the mind is doing
Think it all through and taking it to its logical extremes

"I'm useless"
"I cant concentrate my mind at all"
"I'm a hopeless meditator"
"I'm a hopeless AA member" (added by me IFOB)

Just to say to ourselves:
I probably have the most busy, polluted, unstable, anxious mind in the whole universe.
Of all the human beings that have ever existed, I'm sure that MY mind is the MOST obsessive, compulsive, unstable, superficial, agitated.
There's never been anyone with a mind which is a busy or confused as mine.
I have more hatred than ANYONE else in the whole world.

And if you want something 'x':
Whatever it is that the mind is pursuing..
"I wanna have this!"
"I wanna have that!"

If I had X, and x , and x..
THEN I'd be happy!
I want to own everything in the whole world.
Not just this world. Every world.
If I had EVERYTHING, then I'd REALLY be happy!

You cant even finish the sentence without it being totally absurd.
So sometimes if the mind is obsessively greedy, pursuing. And we are thinking.
"I shouldn't be feeling this
"I've got to get rid of the greed
"Dissolve it
"Let go of it
"I shouldn't be greedy
"I shouldn't be feeling this"

That very urge to let go, gets taken over by a fearfulness, or a repressiveness, and we inflate the issue
is sometimes turning around and saying YES!
I want to have it
I've got to have it all now
All for me! That's good.
And if I had it. I'd be SO happy.

And you know. You cant even finish the sentence without realising. This is totally farcical. It couldn't be that way.

So we end up finding tha quality of spaciousness around the thought or the feeling, or the compulsion. The aversion.
By feeding it
by giving it everything it asks for.
You want some? Have more!
Don't stop now. Take more. Take more!

So these are different ways of working with our minds to provide an awakening. To trigger an awakening to the spaciousness that exist within us.
The spaciousness around our moods, our feelings, our thoughts.
Recognizing that there's actually a lot more room in our lives, more room in our hearts than we recognize. the mind gets so fixed upon objects.
Fixed upon attitudes and plans, and ideas, that we don't notice that. (43.33)
But the more that we are able to notice what the mind is doing.
Seeing that the world is very much the way it is, because of the way that we hold it. And that loosening the grip a little, so that we hold the world rather than feverishly clinging to it.
Pick it up
Hold it
Put it down.

So then we discover a whole quality of ease and spaciousness in our lives, so that then we are able to deal with the possibilities of each moment. The qualities of the past, the present, the future. The kind of work we do in the world. The way we relate to one another. The different people we live and work with. The people in our families. In the world around us.

There's a balanced quality. Simply by remembering.
These are mental states.
These are attitudes that we are creating. And that when we recognize it as being created, we can relax with it.
We realize, we don't have to create this.
We don't have to pursue this, to run away from that.
I don't have to believe that this opinion is an absolute truth. (45.01)

And in that recognition, in awakening to that true spaciousness, then we find a quality of ease and balance within ourselves. We discover that peace which is always here, but we miss it because we are always so busy with this regret and that annoyance. This fear and that passion. We don't notice that peace us already here. We just have to notice it. To imbibe it.

And when we do that, its important to realize that this isn't just a favor to ourselves. When we discover that quality of peacefulness, that quality of inner contentment and happiness in relationship to our own body and our own mind states, because we live together, we affect each other. Wherever we are in our lives, the more that we are able to just take that moment to let go, recognize the tension we are creating. We let it go.

That ease and that peacefulness that is experienced in that moment is a blessing to us, but it is also a blessing to everyone we come into contact with. Whether its the person living next door to you, or the person we are doing dishes with at the sink, or the person we are sharing the freeway with.

Each moment of clarity and peacefulness within us is a blessing to the world around us. It is a benediction to the world. Even in the smallest ways. Even in the tiny and apparently subtle ways. Its a gift to the world.

If we are able to establish those qualities of purity, peacefulness, and contentment, It is then intrinsically conveyed to everyone our life is connected with. (Whether they notice it or not, is another thing,) but it IS conveyed. Because its there. That's what we are manifesting. That's what we are bringing into the world. Whatever we touch. Other creatures. Other people. All that our lives are connected with. They HAVE to be affected by that. It brings some degree of peace and clarity, and quality of ease, into THEIR lives as well. It HAS to be that way. That's the way that nature works.
Just like if we are agitated and busy, and angry and restless, and reactive, then that has its effects on all the beings around us too.
So that we can see for ourselves. So its not just by listening to these words and considering them to be true, because they are being said in a dharma talk but see this for ourselves.
And its not like some sort of grand programme we have to launch into but right in this very moment. This very time. Just seeing the effect of that choice. Making that choice to relax. Let go. Be at ease. And right here we can notice the brightening of the heart. The quality of contentment. The quality of peacefulness. That's right here. Its nowhere else. And we can see for ourselves, how that spreads within us. And spreads around us.

So I offer these thoughts for consideration this evening.

Ajahn Amaro
Imbibing Peace in Body and Mind