The Wandering Monk

Brewmaster Rysu – New Posts On Tuesdays


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The Addiction to the Busy Mind

Think back to a time in your life where you were very busy. It may not be hard to do; you may find it easy to remember when you were busy. Perhaps even easier than to remember when you weren’t. Think about a time when your mind had trouble stopping even when it was time to sleep. When you awoke and instantly the hampster jumped up on the wheel and began running as fast as he could, from the moment light crept past the lids of your eyes.

Did you find to difficult to shed that business? When you do that long enough you’re left with the feeling of near addiction to the sensation of a busy mind. It makes facing yourself in calm silence feel terrible, uncomfortable, or odd. It makes being alone frightful, and in the wake of such a response, we can do terrible things with our lives to avoid it.

We call it loneliness, but it’s not so much loneliness as it is a fear of facing ourselves. We aren’t afraid of being alone, we’re afraid of what we’ll find when we are — that when we are alone we’re not truly alone, we’re sort of trapped in a dark room with the aspects of ourselves we’ve avoided in our busier states. We tell ourselves we will deal with those things when we are done being busy but you may recall that you always try to stay busy.

Consider this video:

True happiness comes when you are alone with your inner self and not only accept them but love them, truly, like a child or a close friend.

Don’t run away from you.
Image courtesy of http://www.biblestudytools.com/bible-study/topical-studies/the-saint-must-walk-alone-11638845.html

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Thoughts about Science and Philosophy

I was piecing through a notebook of mine and came across a little journal entry on my thoughts about Philosophy and Science and how they play together.  Here’s what’s written:

 

“[On Science]: How all things function and operate demands the exploration of Science.  I use such a broad term because granular forms of science miss the point.  To say “The science of …” is to omit all sciences not specified.  To understand how things work, all sciences must be considered.”

“[On Philosophy]:  When exploring science, one is naturally lead to the ‘why.’  How specific you are determines where you’re studying.  If, for example, I ask “Why do humans sweat?”  Both Science and Philosophy will have a response, yet their responses are wildly different.  Science will say it’s because our bodies are hot and so we use the process of evaporation and the laws of thermodynamics to cool ourselves.  Science isn’t wrong, but the philosopher will say that it is a social, or even emotional response, taking “sweat” to mean “stress” or “worry”.

This is the line we draw between the two.  If one walks this line long enough, one may begin to blur their distinction entirely.  Both follow “thought models” and accept truth as it is discovered, without first dismissing evidence because it is an inconvenience.  I find this perspective enriching and use it to highlight an even greater truth.  That is, that all things are one.”

“[On Spirituality]: Once we approach “oneness”, we also see that science merges with philosophy and both merge with spirituality.  Viewing that all things are one naturally brings us to ourselves and how we fit into this “oneness”.  Of course, or perhaps in response, we believe all the universe exists and then there’s us — separate, unique, standing outside of the box, as it were.  But, of course, this can’t be right; that’s just bias or belief talking.  Yet the perspective exists and we are evidently the only ones with it.  Surely, if we are all one, then there must be a reason the individual can even see themselves as an individual at all.  It’s as if the universe is fooling itself; tricking itself into these roles.  This is precisely what much of the Hindu perspective suggests, according to Alan Watts.  “The Drama as he describes.

Isn’t it interesting that there exists such grand and undeniable evidence that such intergalactic oneness exists, yet simultaneously, the very perspective of its opposite does, as well?  This may be the grandest example of this nature of existence on its most fundamental and incredible level.  The truth behind all truths:

/Nothing can exist without its opposite./

Dark and light, matter and space, oneness and individuality.  So, this reveals what all perspectives converge on — All that there is and isn’t is completely perceive within the contrast between the total or present state of all things.  Those things, from Stars to Nebula to bugs and dirt, are in the state of constant flux; constant change.  This is the second fundamental law of nature — that all there is and isn’t never remains in that state –> it always changes.

Considering all of this; oneness, impermanence, and distinction/contrast, we can begin to view the universe as a singular, unified thing yet with many distinct contrasts or components.  Stars, the oceans, and even us, are all the distinctions the universe expresses itself as.  It can be said that we are perhaps bad actors in the pretend drama of the universe; at least, those of us that know that we’re acting, because we sometimes detach from the act and remember our true selves.”

“[One View]: Taking all of this into account, we can see where my true view on all things lies.  Understanding how it all works tgoether, exploring scientifically, philsophically, and spirtually, I can hopefully find a path that leads me to the root answer of all things.  Or, perhaps, the answer will lie within the journey itself and that experience — perhaps all experiences — are their own reward.  Perhaps we’re all one and we’re trying to feel everything possible in as many dynamics and flavors as we can.  Perhaps we are acting with ourselves to flesh out the heart of empathy and kindness, of contrast and realization.

Just as the time comes in our live where we look inward to understand our deepest selves, perhaps so too the universe looks inward to discover it’s truest self.  And as wise and divine as it — we! — all are, it crafts all of creation and all of creation’s expressions in order to explore this fundamental goal.

That sounds wonderful to me.”

 

Image and good reading courtesy of: http://theconversation.com/when-science-and-philosophy-collide-in-a-fine-tuned-universe-25067

 


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Communication

Consider the world a moment.  Not your world, but the greater world, beyond the artificial boundaries we construct.  If you’re having a hard time doing this, then let’s do an exercise together to allow it.

First, settle into this moment.  You’re reading these words, and you’re doing this exercise, so for now, nothing else matters.  No other part of life or the world matters, right now.  You breath in and you’re aware of this moment as you read.  You breathe out, and the moment is yours.

Now, with that in mind, expand your awareness outward.  Think about your world; your family and friends, your job, your significant other, and all the things attached to them.  Nothing specific, but just visualize them as they are — objects within the placement of your world.

Take a step further.  Imagine where those things are in their world.  Your significant other’s work life, their family.  Their friends.  Their past and futures.  Imagine your children if you have them, or your pets.  Your friend’s children or pets.

Now imagine your city or town.  Imagine all of those people.  Imagine your state or providence.  Imagine the people 50 miles in every direction.  100.  500.  5,000.

Imagine the world.

Keep this image in your mind and sharpen it.  Each person has their own world as complex as the one you first began in, as intertwined and as influential as yours.  Each dot of humanity, a definition-less object of thought that can not be bound by any single ideal anymore than you can.

Now imagine, with such intensely unique and perhaps even withdrawn points across the entire world, that you must communicate with them.  You’ll need to tell them your inner-most secrets.  You’ll have to explain to them how you feel deep down, layers below the surface of your own world.

I expect you’ll realize that no one can truly grasp how you feel as intimately as you do.  

This is the true challenge of communication.

It has occurred to me that we live in a world where the things we say and do are often just analogies.  They’re approximations designed to invoke a certain impression that is somewhat like what we mean.  We use phrases and gestures to suggest ideas and allude to what we mean.  All our words are symbols for ideas, and all of our ideas are unique yet must somehow align to a common view.  We try to hone and specify the validity of our points.  We try to shed the ambiguity of our intentions by being deliberate.

When miscommunication happens, we react as if in defense of an entire ideal.  A disagreement is all-to-often the clashing of perspectives that don’t seem to align as our complicated minds understand them.  You and I may read the same words but intuit very different meanings — even from this very blog post.  You’ll read it and think something perhaps that I am not intending to say.  As has happened many times, I have read over some of my own blog posts and drew different perspectives than what I had when I had written them.

This is how communication is both amazing and horribly flawed.  It happens most critically in our relationships.  

We see those in our lives and we think we understand how our communication with them operates.  Have you ever felt like someone operates on the same wave length as you?  It isn’t so much the words that you say to each other as it is the thought processes that seem to jive.  To me, this is the foundation of every relationship.  If a person’s on the same page as you — the same wave length — then you simply need less words and can communicate more powerfully.  If a person isn’t, then perhaps all the words in the world won’t truly bring you both to the same understanding.

I am facing a communication challenge lately in my own life.  It isn’t so much a problem with the person as it is with finding ways to align perspectives and to find practical means for problem solving.  When I think about it, the problem seems clear to me — almost painfully so:  People who don’t say what they mean, who don’t speak directly and honestly, or who are afraid of describing the truth as they see it, are doomed to be misinterpreted.

We cannot be afraid to speak our minds, even if we aren’t sure how they will be interpreted.  There are caveats to this, because speaking is only one half of our communication.  So, let’s talk about some general rules to good communication:

 

  1. Always say what you believe, feel, or think.
  2. Always be willing to hear what someone else believes, feels, or thinks.
  3. Always be willing to accept that what you believe, feel, or think has room for improvement or correction.
  4. Always accept that the truth is the outcome of facts, experiences, perspectives, and life-lessons and that those lessons can be influenced both by your own life and the lives of others.
  5. Always remember that we are all unique and so experience the world uniquely; there aren’t always universal truths to the same point of view.
  6. Always accept that you’re not better or worse than anyone else and that your views are just as valuable and malleable as others’ are.
  7. Always be open to change but always demand the honest truth for it to occur.

 

I hope this is a good way to strengthen yourself and your own communication.  Perhaps the most important rule is that, just like with love, you must effectively communicate with yourself before you can effectively communicate with others.

Talk to you soon.

 

Image from Life Hack.


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Emotional Strength and the Holy Grail

At the time of this writing, it’s about 11:00 PM and I’ve found little purchase in sleeping.  Instead of trying to fight against it, I decided to look at what was going on objectively; as if I were a third party observing keenly into the mind of a subject.  I realized I had a lot on my mind and it centered on my perspective on emotional strength vs emotional weakness.  On my own strengths and weaknesses, to be more precise.

2016 was an incredible year.  It was what I’ll call the year of rebirth, rediscovery, and reconnection.  In many ways I learned more about myself than I ever had in just that one year, and those lessons were even tested after being learned.  I asked myself how I got to where I am now after having gone through so much in such a short span of time.  While 2016 may have been an incredible year, 2015 was terrifying.  Cataclysmic even.  

Yet, I lived through it.

Despite everything, even my own twisted perspectives, I made it.  I reflect on that now as emotional strength.  But where was that strength born from?  Ah, it’s counter, my emotional weaknesses.  See, some strange part of me saw the terrible things I was going through, deep down, as a test.  A problem I needed to solve.  I wanted to be happy, but I had to solve the problem of being happy.  I had approached the problem like you’d approach any problem: I am here, unhappy, and I want to be happy, as my destination.  I want to solve the problems that prevent each step and make each step until I’ve achieved it.  With most goals, this is a sound practice. But the problem that I had discovered was that, despite my sincerest personal inventories, I couldn’t discover what made me happy.  I couldn’t find anything that would give me the kind of happiness I wanted, nor could I understand what exactly it was that I was really, really searching for.

Then it hit me, I was looking for happiness as if it were a treasure.  As if it were the Holy Grail.  

So, all at once, I stopped.  I stopped trying to do things that would resonate with me.  I stopped faking that this or that was making me happy.  I just stopped everything and decided that, until I understood what happiness was, in its full nature, I couldn’t pursue it.  Attempting to would be folly, as I had learned the hard way.  It was then, when I had let go of it all, that I felt free — I had removed the weight from my shoulders.  It wasn’t apathy, it was acceptance.  The kind that you get when you find peace in the chaos of the world.  The kind you feel when you sit in silence for long enough that you begin to lose track of where the lines between who you are, and who everyone and everything around you are.  And that freedom, for the first time in a long time, gave me true happiness.  

I awoke the next day and smiled, and I was happy.  And my happiness began to reflect in how my fingers poured my tea, or how my attitude towards my co-workers formed.  Feeling free and connected to everything, I felt a natural compassion towards everyone I saw, everything around me, because it was me in some way.  And when I awoke with happiness and it touched all that I was doing, those things began to spread happiness too.  I drove with happiness and kindness, and others followed suit.  I spoke with kind speech and others’ tones changed to match the happiness in my own.  I became thankful for what I had and for who entered and exited my life because I accepted both that life will do all the things it must, and that my happiness didn’t depend on it.

My happiness depended only on me.

That brings us back to Emotional Strength.  I look back on 2016 and further to 2015 and I realize that my mindfulness is what gave me the strength I needed.  My weaknesses were the clues I needed to seek out the happiness I felt later.  I faced the world and my troubles with acceptance and with mindful dedication, and so I had found my emotional strength.  I had discovered through my own struggles, like clues in a mystery, that I had the keys to being emotionally strong all along.  

Now, I dare say I can face anything.  That isn’t to say I will not suffer or feel emotional pain — I am an empathetic person, how could I not? It just means that I know that my happiness doesn’t and indeed must not depend on someone else.  It depends on me, on my perspective, and on how I see the world.  When my view of the world changes, so too does my state of mind.  And happiness, like all emotional forms, is a state of mind.  

So when I have forgotten this, I hope that future me returns to this blog post and reads it.  I hope he sees this and remembers that letting go of sadness is as simple as accepting it and as embracing it.  It is as joyful as loving yourself, as breathing, and as being one with all things.  When we shed our fear, we can shed our sadness, our anger, and our suffering.  And when we shed those things, all that is left is love and compassion. 
Don’t forget.


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Meditation and the Phantom

Meditation.  

You hear the word and you picture a certain something, don’t you? Perhaps it’s a robed, bald, asian man, serenely sitting with his eyes half closed, muttering or chanting, deep in the foothills of Tibet.  Or perhaps you envision a cross-legged yoga-goer, beautifully calm with curled index-and-thumb resting atop her knees. Better still, you picture the euphoric meta-physical embodiment of energy; human in shape but with an aura of color, pinned light at the various chakras, pulsing with enigmatic glow.

Whatever you imagine, it certainly seems special, spiritual, deliberate, and at times, unattainable.  But what if I told you that the vast majority of those who imagine meditation … imagine it as virtually the exact opposite of what it truly is?

See, meditation is a funny thing.  Some imagine that it’s is the vessel that will bring us towards inner peace.  Through some spiritually-intensive practice, wrought with discipline and with karmatic intention, we can dig deep and become some spiritually-realized creature who can project ones metaphysical self into the cosmos and travel vast geographical distances in an instant simply because we have found surpreme intergalactic oneness.

Well, if you’re one of the people that thinks this, then I hate to be the one to break it to you, but those wild, beautiful imaginations of meditation are, simply put, wrong.

Meditation has nothing to do with any of that.  

Let us, for a moment, forget every preconception about meditation.  Let’s forget that we’re even talking about it.  Now, instead, I want you to picture yourself, reading this blog post.  Imagine if you froze yourself in time right now.  Then, as if a careful scientist examining the results from an experiment, observed the frozen moment in great detail.  What would you see?  Let’s assume that your vision is impermeable; that it can see through all barriers and that it can see and examine thoughts and feelings and the spirit just as assuredly as it can examine the physical world.  What would you see?

Well, for starters, you’d see that as you read this, you’re forming certain opinions in your mind and that your fantastical and complicated mind is likely also formulating opinions and decisions based on those opinions, both conscious and subconsciously.  You’d likely see that, somewhere, you’re focused on your day or your week — both in the past and in the future — and the myriad of mental calculations that are simultaneously going on while you’re reading these words.  

In fact, you’d end up seeing a lot of busy buzzing in the mind and in the heart; our emotional responses would be intertwined with our vision of the past and future, of plans and reactions.  While we’d have previously thought that our conscious mind was fixated on reading the blog post, it is, in fact, far from it.  It is focused on a variety of topics and ideas, least of all are involved with the digestion of the information from a random no-name blogger whose article you’ve stumbled upon while you were bored at work.

Yet, your thoughts of meditation imagine spiritually attunement to a singularity.  They project an image of having left ones current environment and having been whisked away into a temple or a hall of some kind to contemplate, free of distraction.  That, after all, is the only way one could possible meditate, right? 

Well, now that we’ve painted this picture, let’s take a look at it together as both author and reader.  We’ve stepped away from both the frozen reader and the examiner and we’re in a kind of 4th wall moment where we see ourselves both in the first and second person.  We watch ourselves examine ourselves.  We watch our examined self as well as our examiner self.  

This part’s important.

That you are watching those two and doing nothing more than watching those two, means that you are meditating.  

I know, crazy right?  What do I mean? What have I done to trick you? What fool’s facts am I inundating you with? The truth is, meditation is anything but the pursuit of something.  It’s, quite literally, the act of letting go.  When one considers meditation, one must first consider mindfulness.  

Mindfulness, or awareness set upon a specific thing that is happening right now, is perhaps the essence, or even the framework, of meditation.  To be intentionally aware of something that you’re’ doing and to pay no mind to any other thing — both physically and mentally — is meditation.  If I am washing the dishes, then I am only washing the dishes, and I am not thinking about my day or my future, or thinking about another distraction.  I am thankful and joyful of the water I am given, the fact that I have a place to make my dishes clean, and that I have given myself both the energy for discipline in washing those dishes and the food that I had eaten and will eat off of them in the future.  

When I am mindful of what I am doing, all else fades away.  All other worries vanish.  The aura of magical light we talked about earlier? That is the symbol of our cognative awareness, reaching into the space around us to feel all that there is.  Those hands curled at our knees? Gentle reminders for us to remain grounded and connected, yet dedicated.  The chanting, the robes, the ritual — all that you have ever seen or associated with meditation can ultimately be drawn back to the simple idea that all meditation, both when done as a deliberate act, and when done through mindfulness in our daily and deliberate tasks, is the act of spending all of our awareness on the present, given moment, and to use that awareness to discover the joy in that moment.

But Rysu, the past and the future are important! If I forget about them, then I will not be prepared and I will suffer! 

Guess what? Your’re suffering right now, simply by presuming that.  

The future is unknown.  It’s power over you comes from your fear and expectation.  Fear and expectation of something bad comes from being unconfident with ones current position.  One is unconfident now because they are stuck worrying about the future and not on improving the present.  Ergo, the world’s many possible futures only gain their power when you give it to them in your mind; else they have no power and never will, until they are in the present.  When they are in the present, your ability to dedicate your entire awareness to the now will translate into your being able to negotiate any situation that arrives.  Your ability to do so will diminish the existence of regret and will, in turn, obliterate the power of the past. 

So you see, living the present removes the power of the future(s) and the past.  And nothing has every happened in the future or in the past.  They are merely ghosts and ghouls that haunt you as specters in your memory or in your imagination and can only be given the power over you that you grant them.

Consider this the next time you are worried.  Abstractly, consider what the problem is as you see it now, and what the problem is as the past would describe and as the future would predict.  Consider these distinctly, and then remove the future and the past from the equation.  You’re left with the present.  Try it once and you will see that acting in the now, with your whole self, will make the best possible future a reality and the worst pasts a forgotten memory.  You will find your heart and your soul, your confidence and your true self, and you will shed both the phantoms that have haunted you all this time.