Archive for February, 2008

The ZEN Sredding video…
February 29, 2008

The “I”llusion of self esteem…
February 28, 2008

  

All psychology, spirituality and religion is based on the belief in the existence of a subject “I”.  The agenda is to improve, transform, save or reframe how we feel about this “I”.  We do affirmations, go to therapy, chant our mantras and pray to our god, gods or goddesses with the hope it will make us “feel” better, be saved, go to heaven or become enlightened as an “I”.While these tools CAN be helpful, providing some comfort in life, inevitably these methods are only a band aid to the ongoing suffering we experience.  They unfortunately reinforce not only the existence of an “I” (me, mine, you, us, them) but also the source of our personal and worldly suffering in the first place ~ not knowing the true Self which is beyond the “I”. 

When we focus and identifying with the false self, the “I” that has a body, a past, an imagined future, a story of pleasure and pain, suffering and joy, we perpetuate the lie of the “I”.  To focus only on making a better or more improved “I”, will not eliminate the suffering and pain you experience in life because you will always be caught up in the swing of a pendulum.  For every positive thought there is always a negative thought. 

To eliminate suffering you need to move beyond the swing of the pendulum, beyond the duality, beyond the perception of seeing your self and others as separate, individual things or “I”s.  Extra stress, confusion and denial will occur in your life if you think you always have to have positive thoughts.  It’s fine to have positive thoughts when you’re having them, but you may have noticed they are never permanent.  There will always be another thought and at some point it will become a “negative” thought.  One day you will have high esteem, the next day you will feel like you have no esteem.  You end up getting stuck in tape loop process, fixated on the kinds of thoughts you are having or not having. 

Psychology, Spirituality and religion place an added detriment by labeling and suggesting positive thoughts are  “saintly”, “good” and “righteous”, while negative thoughts are correspondingly “bad”, “evil” and wrong, which only further perpetuates the feeling  “there is something’s wrong with me”… eliminating any gained esteem.  The only way out of this dilemma is to acknowledge a deeper truth that exists.  That at the deepest level it does no matter whether you have esteem or not, that it does not really matter if you are having positive or negative thoughts because they ultimately come from the same place as does everything else that exists.  Everything arises and subsides “too and from the same place”.  To know this experientially, to be vigilant in recognizing this, to come to terms with this allows you to move beyond the swing of pendulum and the trance of duality that the majority of the population lives in.  

You can spend the rest of your life trying to improve your self esteem, trying to deal with the memories, emotions, thoughts, feelings, beliefs, attitudes that perpetuate the illusion of an “I” that has esteem, or not.  Or you can awaken the observer/witness within you and learn to watch all of it arise and subside without judgment, evaluation, assessment or significance. 

 With practice, it is possible experience a level of detachment that provides you with a taste of freedom.  You notice things appear to exist as an expression of duality, but you become less distracted and disturbed by them.  You begin to accept the co-existence of opposites in life, but you are no longer caught up in the hysteria and drama because you are no longer identified too and as them.  You know experientially those thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions, memories and body are not who you are.  

Ironically the mind can become more and more settled.  You begin to notice that the mind is silent while you are thinking, because you are no longer identifying with the thought and its drama, but instead, you identify with the timeless source from where all thought emerges from.  There is a time when a thought that is needed will arise spontaneously, effortlessly, and it will be the “perfect” thought for the moment, it will be the right response or thought for that moment.  Your esteem has become a non issue, the psychology that was the “I” has become a non issue. 

There are many people in life who have practiced meditation, spirituality, religion and therapy and are still stuck because they still perceive reality through the perception of the “I” that needs to be managed, an “I” that will always have limits. They still believe in the lie of the “I”. 

Say by to the “I”     

Death of the subject “I”…
February 25, 2008

I think if people really knew the ultimate purpose of meditation they would probably think twice about pursuing the practice!  This might sound funny coming from a meditation instructor; fortunately, most people who learn to meditate show up for some of the more tangible benefits that have been known to manifest as a result of the experience over even a short period of tenure and practice: reduction or elimination of stress and anxiety, increased creativity, strengthened immunity, improved brain wave coherence… the list is endless ~ check out Googles 31300 entries for “benefits of meditation”.   

There are many stories aback of the purpose of Spiritual practice.  If you have immersed yourself into a more new age approaches spirituality will probably fall into a healing, transformation or create the perfect life kind of narrative.  If you’re grabbing spirituality by the balls, enlightenment is typically the most popular, most storied and most misunderstood of all the favored “goals”.   

When one visits a diverse expression or variety of the wisdom traditions you can often find reflections of “truth” itself, threads of insight pleasantly suggest all paths have the potential and ability to lead one to the unified whole!  Whether you want to call it enlightenment, realization, transcendence, cosmic consciousness, or what ever, ultimately all these terms result in the death of the subject “I”. 

The wisdom tradition of Vedanta suggests that most of our suffering is based on the illusion of the existence of the subject “I”.  It’s the suffering of not knowing the true Self a choice to “I”dentify with the ego or small self which grasps and fears the transient and unreal, while also resisting the illusion of its ultimate demise.  This is a proven formulae, a platform for the experience pain and suffering; enough too last a lifetime. 

One problem with many spiritual paths is they emphasize a doing aspect that is based not only a judgment of the present moment, but also places a significance on an improved tomorrow.  There are two traps involved in this methodology:  

One is that it negates the fact the bigger part of the real you is free now and can be embraced now,  

and secondly,  

it reinforces rather than deconstructs the existence and illusion of the subject “I”.   

Most teachings perpetuate or enhance not only the existence of an “I”, but also the possibility of getting, having or achieving a new and improved self or “I”.  A rehabilitated or transformed “I” that will provide you with the perfect little life.  While there can be benefits to using a variety of different methods to improve the quality and way you do life, in a Spiritual context it’s valuable to recognize early on that less of the “I” is more. Giving up something of the “I” now, allows you to reveal more of your true nature and Self and in doing so, reduce the amount of pain and suffering you experience in your life.  

The seers and sages of our distant past navigated, mapped and in a few cases “mastered” the “territory” of  the spiritual journey as a progressive “evolution” of consciousness into more expanded states and ultimately, real “I” zation.  Most of the population is very familiar with and will spend their entire lives living in the first three, of seven “states” of consciousness: deep sleep, dreaming and waking; a few more adventurous Souls may take the time to step out of their conditioned perception of reality by “force” or by  “choice” to awaken the observer or witness within and the first step in the ultimate demise of the “I”ndividual.   

The immersion of oneself into the depths of one’s true nature using some sort of successful meditation practice allows one to “travel” back and forth from waking state of awareness into the fourth state of transcendental consciousness.  It allows the mind that was once bound to become unbound.  This “journey” allows one to begin to realize that the world perceived is not necessarily the world to be experienced.   This subtle shift in attention and perception while gentle often provides many dramatic left turns in the life of someone who has made the choice to abandon the foreground of their life for the background of eternity and the true Self that had previously been marginalized.  The task at hand is noble, grand and necessary, what’s at stake is freedom.  For as long as the “I” remains in the foreground of our attention we will continue to experience reality through the veil of chaos and suffering. 

As we begin to peak behind the curtain of distinction we realize that what the “I” had created through its thoughts, memories, associations, perceptions and body “I”dentification had no substance or truth except at the level of the mind, as a projection.  We are awakened from the trance of our dream.  It’s not that clues have not been left behind informing us of our ultimate destiny and demise.  Spoken words often hide unspoken truth, behind a journey so infrequently travelled.  Sleep has often been called ‘the little death”, Samadhe a Sanskrit word describing the experience of “slipping into the gap” or silence of meditation, means “No me”; Nirvana means extinction!   

As one “progresses” through transcendental consciousness to the fifth state of Cosmic consciousness, one foot is in “heaven” the other on earth. The boundary between time and space is beginning to bleed into the timelessness of eternity.  It is here that the defined “I” begins to unravel.  The “you” and the “me” that had a past, a present and a future, that once believe it was born to die will be recognized for what it is, a role player cast among many roles, many stories, many lives.  It is here that one begins to lose the hysteria and mellow drama of our scripted lives.  It is here that one recognizes one is in the world but not of it.   

The fifth leads to the sixth; divine consciousness.  Here, there is no distinction between the sinner and the Saint.  Here, the rich and the poor the joy and the suffering are seen as “one”.    A bridge of equanimity has replaced the perception of the subject/object split.  The “I” has been upstaged, for it no longer holds the trump card of perception.  The mind is quiet; the body is still, the Self has awakened to itSelf.  “You” finally get over yourself.  The divinity within now recognizes the divinity without.  Life is no longer experienced or perceived as up or down, inner or outer.  There is simply a divine play of consciousness.  Recognition takes place of denial and the true miracle of creation ~ inclusion, is unleashed for the benefit of all humankind. 

 At the seventh level of consciousness the “I” ceases to be an “I” as pure, undisturbed consciousness erases the illusion of all boundaries. 

“Here” the person ceases to be a person. 

“Here”; there is no coming, there is no going. 

“Here”, there is no arising, there is no subsiding. 

“Here”, nothing is the same, nothing is different. 

“Here”, nothing exists, nothing does not exist… 

The purpose of meditation is not to attain but to reveal.

In silence, my mind remembers and my Soul awakens.

Here,

my mind is still,

my body is quiet,

my breath is deep.

Here,

my life flows with effortless ease.

Here,

I am aware of my own inner perfection.

In Solitude I belong to my Self.

In Solitude, I realize the One Spirit that dwells within me.

Here,

the seed of divinity that lies within me contains the whole truth.

 Are you ready to remember?           

              

another sneak preview…
February 21, 2008

OK, so I can be an impatient kinda guy…

I’m still looking out about three weeks [end march?] for the release of my book, so I’m going to shamelessly publicize it by sharing another excerpt from:

ZEN Shredding: Insights, Questions and Confessions of a Meditator and Novice Snowboarder on the pursuit of dreams, inspiration, passion and change.

Here is the first few pages of the intro, copied and pasted for your enjoyment (or not). 

If you have not had a chance to see the accompanying slideshow/video that I released on the internet a few days ago, head to my main website: 

http://www.zenshredding.com and download the ZEN Shredding movie. 

If it inspires you great! 

If you are also feeling generous, perhaps you can make a donation to the Zero Ceiling Initiative that is part of the slideshow/movie and book,

if you have lots of extra cash but like to get great deals you can pre-order the book at a very attractive discount!

Inspire yourself, inspire others!

here she is…  

Sometimes we just need to show up in life.  When we spontaneously show up we often have an opportunity to take the time to experience our lives in new and exciting ways, perhaps for the very first time.  When we show up, we create the opportunity to learn more about the gifts, talents, dreams and passions we have.  We allow the Spirit in our life to move through us in ecstatic ways.  When we have an opportunity to share our gifts, talents, dreams and passions we also have the ability to engage change creatively while discovering more about the  mystery of who we really are and who we can become.   

I believe human beings crave inspiration, and the intent of this work is to inspire you to cultivate inspiration and change in your life.  It is my hope that these words and insights will ignite your own passions and, too support you in cultivating the pursuit of your own dreams.  I believe many of us have lost touch with the value and meaning of inspiration and the effect it can have on our life.  The word inspiration comes from the Latin word Spirare, meaning Spirit; to infuse with an encouraging or exalting influence; to animate or give life; to stimulation by divinity and genius.  We ignite the fire of inspiration within us by getting in touch with who we are while also cultivating and pursuing the dreams we were born with.  As we discover who we are and get in touch with those dreams I believe almost anything is possible.  When we are inspired change occurs at a very organic level and we approach and experience life from a place where Nature nurtures us.  

Most of us have been conditioned to live life in very conventional ways of being many of which are based on struggle.  I believe that our world would be a completely different place if it was filled with human beings who lived their lives more actively in the pursuit and cultivation of inspiration, while also discovering who they are.  When we surround ourselves with people who inspire us, mentors that lead us, teachers that support us and experiences that nurture our Soul at a very deepest level, effortless change becomes the natural way of living and Being in life.  

When you witness the experience and story of someone who genuinely enjoys life, you will often find that they have taken time to uncover, refine and express an inner inspiration that ripples as passion into all their relationships. There is no more important task for us than to pursue and experience deeper levels of inspiration in our life, to look directly into the mystery of our being and embrace it wholeheartedly.  This has been an underlying theme and hunger in my own life and the lives of a few inspiring people that I have had the honor of meeting and befriending.  This is not a book in any conventional sense of the word. In January of 2005 another birthday rolled around for me and I decided that it would be an auspicious time to learn how to snowboard.  For someone living in Whistler, B.C., one of the worlds foremost winter playgrounds, this would seem like an obvious choice.  I’d simply reached a point in my life were I was tired of standing on the sidelines; I didn’t want to watch others playing any more, it was time for me to play.  The intention behind the choice was simple: I wanted to bring more inspiration into my life, to push some personal boundaries, to get back into my body, to enjoy the freedom and bliss of being in the body, on the mountains, while playing in the snow. 

I have pursued many passions in my life, the most important being my Spiritual Journey.  During the last twenty years or so, I have been blessed with experiences that have dramatically changed the way I see and experience my life. Sometimes simple choices have a way of weaving new experiences and possibilities into our lives.  My immersion into my snowboarding adventure is in its third season as I type these words in the fall of 2007.  On the surface Zen Shredding is a fusion of different experiences and different worlds.  Zen Shredding is a culmination and synthesis of my ongoing Spiritual Journey, expressed as insights, filtered through the experience of snowboarding. I hope it truly inspires you to push your own boundaries, to take risks in the journey and to discover who you are. 

Since this is not a conventional book,let me make a few suggestions that could enhance your experience and understanding of this work.  While you could choose to read this as a book from cover to cover, my suggestion is that you don’t!  Perhaps after reading the introduction you might progressively make your way through each insight, one at a time.    As an approach you might simply read the insight and stay with it for a day and note what it brings up for you.  Perhaps the next day you would read the explanation and commentary I have written and again, see where it takes you.  Finally, you might ask yourself the question to anchor it into the everyday reality of your life.  Whether you choose to stay with the experience of one insight a day or week, feel comfortable with your own rhythm, get to know your own rhythm.  Using this somewhat unconventional approach, I think you will find a deeper appreciation for the value and impact the insights and book can have on your life by intentionally making it a process rather than a read.  Journaling all of these steps will also deepen and enliven your experience.  I continue to work with most of these insights as they have served me well in my life.  I trust that some may serve or even inspire you in your own journey of transformation and change while on the path of discovery to the one divinity and humanity that lies within us all. 

On a final note I need to confess that I have taken artistic liberty in borrowing the term Zen for the title of this book.  I am not a practicing Buddhist nor am I a Zen meditator.  I have been meditating daily since the fall of 1989 and over those years have been exposed to knowledge and experience that has lead me to the belief that all meditative practices when successful have the potential to lead us to the same “destination”.  My affinity with the title, its basic definition and the archetypal representation of the Buddha, encapsulates for me a fleeting state I have touched; it speaks directly to a way of being I seek to cultivate.

Thanks for showing up!  

The art of revelation, not mastery…
February 19, 2008

This entry is NOT about revelations in the bible!   

 I’m not interested in speculating or projecting the kind of rhetoric or vitriol usually associated with this particular tract of the bible… 

I’m going to ask you to pause the “play” button on the story of what you tell yourself, what you have been told and what you think spirituality is all about.  I’m requesting you examine for yourself, perhaps for the first time, if you really believe your divinity is based on something that has to be earned, gained or achieved, through some degree of meditative practice, merit, asana, mudra or pose.  I’m going to suggest that all disciplines and mastery’s, however challenging, fulfilling, or entertaining are musings of the mind and body only.   

 I am going to ask you too consider for a moment that true spirituality has nothing to do with what you put into your mouth [food], or what comes out of your mouth [words].  That your divinity (spirituality) has nothing to do with the color of your skin, who you’re sleeping with or whether you are an atheist, Christian, Muslim, Hindu or Jew.   

I’m not interested in perpetuating the idea that if you change your thoughts you can change your reality ~ that spirituality itself, is about being positive and loving and not having a negative thought.  I’m not going to “drop you off” at some weigh station on your imagined journey to the divine that suggests if you master a secret or law of attraction you will have the perfect little life.   

You can decide for yourself what kind of lifestyle you want to live, but we need to be very clear that living a lifestyle has nothing to do with finding out Who You Are.  While that lifestyle may be nice, comfortable, safe or fulfilling, all lifestyles are maintained and enhanced by the existence of an “I” that thinks and feels; that has memories, associations, perceptions, ideas, beliefs, rules, regulations and concepts about the idea of Spirituality and divinity, which have nothing to do with Spirituality or your present, all pervading, divinity. 

I’m going to suggest that your divinity is independent of all these concepts, that your divinity is all together “above” your mind; that the divine is their before your thoughts, during your thought and after your thoughts.

I’m going to suggest that most of us marginalize our true Self and our innate divinity as well as the ever present divinity of others because we focus our attention on the foreground of what is conventional reality, the outer world of phenomena and form.  As a result of our external focus, we loose touch with the innocence that constantly thrives in the marginalized background of absolute reality.    

I’m interested in your attention; I’m interested in where you place your attention!  Is your attention in the noise and drama of your life?  Have you lost yourself in the story of your experience and your idea’s of what you think spirituality is or is not? Do you believe that your divinity and Spirituality is something that needs to be mastered, that you need to pass certain levels of completion, to finally reach a place of purity and perfection that only a “chosen” few have or can realize? 

I’m going to ask you to consider for a moment that all of this is of the mind only, that the simplicity of a quiet mind and still body is so overlooked, so marginalized by the distraction, hysteria and story of our lives and the nonsense of what is described as spiritual truth, that we blindly ignore the doorway to eternity and our true freedom.  

Is it so outrageous to suggest that your innate divinity and your ability to know yourSelf requires no effort, no knowledge, no understanding, no practice, no mastery, no time, no theology, no amount of Spiritual purification to be recognized or realized? 

Who You Are is has nothing to do with what you have achieved or not achieved in life.   

Who You Are has nothing to do with the level or tenure you may or may not have reached in your so called spiritual practice.    

Who You Are is something to be revealed…  

it can never be gained, 

  

because 

   it   

was  

never 

l o s t . . .   

 …You wander from room to room

hunting for the diamond necklace

that is already around your neck! 

~ Djalal ad-Din Rumi   

     

Born to struggle???
February 15, 2008

 “I” bumped into my head this morning ~ twice!  Once on a low hanging entrance, the next time while getting into a truck.  This was shortly after a brief snow shoveling adventure, [ NOT ] my favorite activity in life…  

This event was before a friend confided to me that her mother in law had been just diagnosed with inoperable cancer.  She was distressed; I hugged and tried to console her… 

Later in the Whistler Blackcomb day lot, a snow boarding dude was just a little pissed because his car had got stuck in a small pot hole.  Now, I’m not so butch by any means, but the princess inside me decided to find her inner male and we eventually freed the “dude” from his tribulation ~ Yeah!   This was after he had ranted about the difficulties of living in the resort town that we are… 

People suffer.  “I” suffer.  Recently the feeling of struggle/suffering has been percolating to the surface of my awareness ~ again.  I’ve done enough work on “myself” to realize this particular trance when it arises, and have varying degrees of ability to navigate it’s currants or submerge myself in it’s all too familiar whirlpools.   

At a meeting once we did an introductory question:   “If you had one supper power what would it be?”   “I” thought it was a great question.  My super power would be the ability to take away, with the snap of my fingers “someone’s suffering”. 

A friend once confided to me that she opened a very famous book that began with the sentence… “life is a struggle”, and ended up slamming it shut, never to read it or the contents contained, just because of the opening sentence…

  

We suffer, humanity suffers.  The “I” suffers.  As long as we continue to identify with the “I” and all its thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions and associations we will struggle and suffer in life.  While the desire to eliminate the suffering and struggle in life might be based on some noble virtue, most of humanity is simply not interested in discovering the source of suffering that exists in the world today.   It’s simply too easy to find so many things “wrong’ on the outside, to begin to scratch the surface of what’s really going on “inside.”  Collin Sisson once said “you are completely in charge of your life to the degree you are aware of your own inner perfection…”  What a profoundly simple statement. 

Wisdom traditions teach us that there can never be an external change without first having an internal change.  The purest of these teachings suggest that it is “I”dentification, that causes our problems.  We live our lives with our attention focused and distracted to the foreground of the mirage self or “I”, while missing the background of our true self that existed all along.   In our “forget”   “full”   “ness”,  and depending on the degree of “I”dentification, we get stuck in the little or big potholes that life has a tendency to present to us.   “I” do not believe that life is a struggle.  “I” believe that we believe that life is a struggle because most of us never get to experience the perfection that exists before, during and after the struggling and suffering arises and subsides. 

Most of us never get to have an alternative experience contrary to the struggling and suffering and as a result continue to do life in the same old ways that the majority of the planet subscribes too.  “I” need to be clear that there is no judgment on this particular and most popular method of doing life; I’m just encouraging and challenging the status quo that assumes it’s the only way to do life… 

After the heroics of my parking lot experience “I” went to see a movie, [ ONE ] of my favorite activities in life…  I was pleasantly surprised as the mgr. cashier “comped” me with a free ticket to the movie.  The nice thing about struggle and suffering is that it is not permanent; there is always the opposite swing of the pendulum…  

“Like two golden birds perched on the selfsame tree, intimate friends, the ego [ “I” ] and the Self dwell in the same body.  The former eats the sweet and sour fruits of the tree of life, while the latter looks on in detachment.”

The Mundaka Upanishad

What’s your supper power?

The ZEN Shredding video…
February 13, 2008

 
In the spring of 2007, I was preparing a “fun”, alternative, addition to my programming for the annual Whistler Wellness week and wanted to try something a little more unconventional than my planned workshop lineup.  If you visit the link below, you will find an inspiring 13 minute slide-show with images, words and music that celebrates the joy of taking risks in life while pursuing our most important dreams, desires, and personal transformation. 
 
 
This slideshow was a precursor to what now has become the book “Zen Shredding: Insights, Questions and Confessions of a Meditator and Novice Snowboarder on the pursuit of dreams, inspiration, passion and change.” 
 
 
A note of importance; if you enjoy the slide-show, which in itself is a standalone project and would like to support the Zero Ceiling Society/Initiative please feel free to make a donation to their cause, by following the provided links. 
 
 
All proceeds from slide-show donations are given to Zero Ceiling. 
10% of net proceeds of the sale of my book Zen Shredding will also be donated to Zero Ceiling Society! 
 
Check out the available information on my site, surf to the Zero Ceiling Website.
 
Inspire yourSelf, inspire others by supporting this important project…
 
 
 
Enjoy the show…
 
 
michael sean Symonds
 
 
http://www.zenshredding.com/

 

%d bloggers like this: