Archive for October, 2008

ZEN Shredding ~ Insight #20
October 29, 2008


Be gentle, be

effortless, and be easy.



Find the rhythm of your own life.  When you live according to your own rhythm you’ll also have connected to the greater universal rhythm.  Then your life will flow with effortless ease.  Be gentle in your mind, be effortless in your body, and be easy in your Spirit. 


Extended commentary:


It does not take a lot of awareness to become familiar with your personal modus operandi in life.  A quick innocent assessment on “how you do” life can reveal attitudes, approaches and ways of being that may or may not support, nurture and elevate the success you desire in your endeavors.


For most of us, it is clearly our conditioning that shapes the outcome of how and what we express and experience in life.  The touch taste and smell of our personal reality, is based on our subjective understanding of who we are and how we imagine life works; inevitably, it impacts who we will be and what we will do in life.


 As a result of conditioning, emphasis is placed primarily on the doing, rather than Being; while at all times, Being is the basis of doing.  Our external obsessions, our addictions, and our conditioning all contribute to ways of being that cater to results orientated, expression focus; what is going on “out there” is deemed more valuable than what is going on “in here.”


With our attention on expression much of what we do in fact is done very unconsciously, without awareness, with inattentiveness.  With a choice to change the direction of your attention from what you are doing to who you are Being; you ignite the fires of transformation to engulf your life; to spread rapid change in any and all directions.


 In the beginning it seems necessary to kindle the fires of transformation, to actively demonstrate a priority, significance and value in who we are Being, over what we are doing.  While expressed vigilance, ongoing commitment and discipline practice, appear to lend success in the breaking of the chains of our conditioning; often, it is in moments of allowing, and the presence of Being, that we cultivate the greatest recognition and realization of Who We Are.  This inevitably becomes the foundation and expression of who we will become…   




How can you be gentler, easier and more

effortless in your life?


To order a copy of ZEN Shredding please visit:




Check out “Living The Dream”, the gift book version of the slideshow/movie that is available to view free on You tube or the ZEN Shredding website; an inspiring read with full color photo’s of Whistler/Blackcomb Alpine…



(c) Copyright – Michael Sean Symonds. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.







ZEN Shredding ~ Insight #19
October 22, 2008


If it feels like push, it’s probably time to play.




When your favorite ways of being no longer generate joy, consider that you may be hitting an unrealistic barrier of compulsive expectation.  While discipline sometimes enhances the success of your commitments, it’s often in the moment of play that you will find your greatest insights, breakthroughs and inspiration. 


Extended commentary:


It would be nice if we could find a singular, all encompassing formulae to fulfill the core need of happiness in life.  There are thousands of strategies to elevate the level of success we experience in life; some of them very functional.  Most human beings look for ways to improve the quality of their life and then continue to live the same predictable way.  An assumption can be made, that a consistent experience of happiness will be guaranteed by practicing a tried and proven method.


While the desire for happiness may remain consistent for most of, the how, the what, the where, the when and the why are always in flux, they will always change!  Sometimes we become so obsessed with maintaining the pursuit and experience of happiness, we forget that there is a rhythm and flow to all life which inherently includes expansion AND contraction. 


All life is subject to the trends and influence of “bull-expansion and “bear-contraction”; what strategy worked very well for us yesterday, may not work so well today.  Our flexibility and adaptability to life’s constant change, can be enhanced when we acknowledge and remain open to new ways of being, that improve the quality of our resilience in navigating the ebb and flow of experience.  Inherent within this rhythm and experience there will be times when:


Expansion exists,


and expansion does not exist,


Contraction will exists,


and contraction does not exist,


Both expansion and contraction will exist,


and expansion and contraction will not exist.


A moment of discipline may inherently resist the prevailing rhythm and flow of your life; a moment of play inherently allows one to be with what is, because you can never change what is.        


Do you force yourself to ‘do’ life?


To order a copy of ZEN Shredding please visit:




Check out “Living The Dream”, the gift book version of the slideshow/movie that is available to view free on You tube or the ZEN Shredding website; an inspiring read with full color photo’s of Whistler/Blackcomb Alpine…



(c) Copyright – Michael Sean Symonds. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.






The Story Of YOU…
October 21, 2008



 “ YOU are always there.


The YOU that is always there,


is the ONE


that always goes unnoticed…”



Stephen H Wolinsky




YOU are always there.  You were there before you began searching, you were there while you are searching, and you will be there after you give up searching…


The fact that YOU are already there, is so blatant, it goes un-witnessed.  YOU are so oblivious to your Self, the real YOU that YOU are, that YOU look outside your Self instead.  YOU look to the stories about a YOU, instead of the real YOU that is always there.


The stories about YOU are very seductive; they have to be otherwise they would not make great stories.  The best of those stories turn into mythologies, dogmas, traditions or religions ~ stories about the birth of YOU, stories about the loss of YOU, stories about searching for YOU.  While those stories contain many experiences had by some YOU; some, even direct experiences or realization; it has now become a story which is not YOU.


YOU are not your story.  The story is happening in, or on YOU.  YOU are not the details of the story, the experiences or circumstances contained within that story.  When YOU spend a lot of time focused on the story of YOU; the labeling, the evaluating, the assessing, the judging and the placing significance or importance of certain details, ignoring other details within the story; trying to manipulate the story for good or for the bad, YOU create confusion; YOU start to identify with the story.


When YOU identify with the story, YOU lose touch with the YOU that YOU are.  By placing attention on the details of the story which has nothing to do with YOU, YOU are seduced by the pain and the pleasure of the story instead of the Self which YOU are, which is independent of the pain and the pleasure.  Spirituality and Psychology are infatuated by the story, through incest they create stories within stories; they create stories about the YOU in the story; stories about the pain and the pleasure.


When your attention is on the story of who YOU are, and the pain and pleasure that occurs within that story, YOU begin to place more significance on that story and its pain and pleasure, rather than the truth, which YOU are.  YOU become obsessed by the story.  In your neurosis, YOU begin to imagine that YOU are the story; not YOU.  YOU start to fantasize that YOU can create the story, change the story, understand the story, develop or resist the story.  YOU do your best to sanitize it, suppress it, and edit It, to some imagined likening and when it does not fit that likening, YOU go into denial of the story that was not YOU or true, to begin with, and when YOU can, YOU try to switch your present story for another story about YOU.  In most cases YOU become overwhelmed by the story and the endless details of the story; YOU become overshadowed by the you, YOU imagine yourself to be.


Once YOU are lost in the story: the imaginings, the illusions, the ideas, the notions, the perceptions, the understandings, the concepts and the drama contained within that story, YOU spend the rest of your time trying to find a way out of the story. 


If YOU are not a story, then what reason do YOU need to find your way out of it? 


If YOU are not your story, what reasons do you need to change it? 


If YOU are not the details, circumstances or situations within the story, then why place such importance on it? 


If YOU are not your story, then YOU are also not someone else’s story either, whether it is about the imagined YOU, or not. 


Who is more important; YOU or the story of YOU? 


What is more important; the story of YOU or YOU?


Who is the YOU?


What is the YOU?


The YOU that YOU are, is already free.  YOU cannot accept your freedom, because you are lost in the overwhelming details your story.  Spirituality and psychology, loves to endorse the story YOU; of how YOU got lost, of why YOU got lost, of when YOU got lost, of what and where YOU need to do/go in order to find, once again, the YOU that YOU always were.


If YOU are always were, then there is no need to go looking, especially out there.  If YOU always there, there is no need to do anything, be anything, achieve anything, gain anything, lose anything or find anything to the YOU, that YOU are.


How can YOU find something that was lost only in a story?


When the story of who YOU are, becomes more important than the realization of who YOU are, YOU become manipulated by the details of the story, you become a victim within the story. 


If the YOU that YOU are is already there, where is the need for conversion?


If the YOU that YOU are is already free, where is the need for salvation?


When the story of who YOU are becomes more important than the recognition of who YOU are, the story at once determines who YOU are, by emphasizing what YOU are doing or not doing in the story, rather than who YOU are Being.  The story of what YOU could be doing or not doing takes precedence over the simplicity of the YOU that exists in the present moment, now.


YOU are inherently perfect, now.  The degree, to which you experience the rhythm and flow of YOU, will be determined by the degree of awareness YOU have of YOU and its inherent perfection.  YOU can accept what is said about YOU; YOU can adopt a story about YOU, or YOU can simply be YOU.


YOU are ancient and unborn.  If YOU are unborn, YOU cannot die.  The purest of wisdom traditions suggested that water cannot wet YOU, fire cannot burn YOU, wind cannot dry YOU and iron cannot cleave YOU.  For to long, YOU have relied on external sources to validate who YOU are.  For to long YOU have depended on confirmation of an imagined YOU, defined by the story.  YOU define yourself by affirmations that exist only in the world of form and phenomena that serve only to entrench YOU; your milestones have become the millstones of pain and suffering.


YOU already know this.  YOU already know, that YOU are; what YOU are, YOU do not know.  YOU already sense that the story of YOU is not the real YOU; otherwise YOU would not always be looking.  YOU just need to stop looking out there.  That does not mean that YOU cannot enjoy the story for what it is.  There will always be a story.  As long as YOU have a body/mind, there will be a story.  It is possible to be in the story but not of it.  It is possible to participate out there, in an infinite number of ways while in the story; as long as your attention is on YOU.


Now is the time to get to know the real YOU, because that’s all that there was, is and will ever be.  As you get to know the real YOU, YOU begin to let go of the story of YOU.  YOU become more and more detached from the story and the impact of the YOU, living in that story.  YOU let go of the filters of doubt, which always creates confusion, the confusion disturbs your clarity and when you lose clarity, YOU lose the inner peace that YOU are.


The inattentiveness of your attention gets caught up out there. In a moment of hypnosis, YOU temporarily redefine your understanding, perception and experience of who YOU are, through the story of who YOU are.  Who YOU are; what YOU are; when YOU are; where YOU are; and why YOU are; are irrelevant, because YOU are YOU.  The divine YOU manifests all-ways, in everyday happenings.


Now is the time to trust who YOU are.  As YOU trust who YOU are, YOU will no longer be dependent on the story or anything contained within the story for your safety, security or freedom. YOU will Be.  YOU will recognize the freedom YOU are, even though YOU appear to be in the story.  YOU are always YOU, and YOU are always there.  What ever YOU do and where ever YOU go, YOU can Be your Self.  But this is just another story about how YOU became me; and YOU are not the story, YOU are YOU!



(c) Copyright – Michael Sean Symonds. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.


The Spell of Practice…
October 16, 2008


“ You are always there.  The you that is always there, is the one that always goes unnoticed…” 


Stephen H. Wolinsky



There comes a time in a practice where one often, simply by tenure of experience, realizes certain things about ones practice; ones motivation within the practice, ones limitations, and ones understanding and misunderstanding within the practice.  Often the purpose of the practice may be questioned, and once in a great while the direction of the path itself will be investigated.


I think it is safe to say that most of us begin the journey of seeking Who We Are by listening too and learning from others.  There can be great benefits in spending quality time with teachers, mentors and friends who are also pursuing with courage, risk and passion the discovery of Who They Are.


Personal tenure of practice often provides a certain comfort and spontaneous levels of detachment as a result of multiple exposures to situations and circumstances within that practice lending to us the wisdom of experience. 


Within any practice there can also be many traps.  Significant, hidden, distractions that take the form of assumptions that serve as obstacles in the finding out of Who We Are.  When the pursuit of the practice itself is substituted for, and overshadows the deeper quest in the finding out of Who We Are, we lose ourselves not only to the story of the practice, but also Who We Are. 


The practice is a practice.  In itself the practice has nothing to do with Who We Are.  The practice is a tool, to be used to help navigate the personal, self engendered challenges we have and face that prevent us from being Who We Are.  The practice is a temporary resource, a tool to yoke our attention and senses, from “out there”, to “in here”.    


We are Who We Are, regardless of the practice.  The practice does not change, influence or impact at any level Who We Are, Who We Were and Who We always will be.      


The longer I meditate, the more I realize the distinctions and the unrealistic expectations, placed on the practice; any practice.  As a long term meditator of 19 years, I have for instance given up the notion and necessity that “I have or had to stop my thoughts”.  After a few years of meditation, it became very clear through experience, that thoughts will always come and go ~ or not; that successful meditation has nothing to do with stopping, changing, fixing or even dare I say it, improving ones thoughts. 


More importantly said the practice, in this case meditation, allows the field of attention to notice for the first time not “this” or “that”, but the ever present silence that surrounds the “this” and “that”; in this case “this” being the thought.  To notice first hand the silence that was there before the thought, the silence that was there during the thought and the silence that will be there after the thought has long gone.


But the cut does not stop there when it comes to investigation of the assumptions we place on the practice ~ any practice.  The cut must be deep and precise.  It must penetrate and sever all assumptions, all ideas, all notions, all understandings within the practice. 

As we dig deeply, the enquiry must uncover the heart of the concept ~ every concept; concepts that entangle and concepts that mislead.


My study of the work of Stephen Wolinsky and one of his most significant teachers, Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj, has provided much new fodder to revisit, revise and refine some of the assumptions and learning’s of the concepts, I have gathered so easily over the last 20 years or so of my “spiritual journey”. 


To be clearer, I have been blessed (?) with “the choice” to challenge and examine every frame of reference the intellect can provide; to distinguish between the witness and the intellect, to discern between what is real, and the abundance of numerous, nonsense teachings that are continually regurgitated from teacher to student to teacher.  To question the very validity and basis the dogmas that most religions and for that matter, Spirituality hide behind or within.


In the West we frequently get caught up in “the doing”.  The emphasis on doing becomes so relevant in conventional reality that we wrongly assume that Being itself, can be influenced by doing.  The practice is doing.  Any attempt by the subject “I” to influence, gain, attain, remove or harness Being, is redundant.  Doing is not the basis of Being; Being is the basis of doing.  To imagine that any doing will in some way influence or impact the nature of Being is, well… ludicrous!


When spirituality becomes organized with a dogma or path, we embrace and then emphasize doing over Being.  What was at once innocent becomes systemized, regulated and controlled.  Spirituality is Not University.  There are no perquisites for realization.  No certifications or tenures, no achievements are needed to qualify in order to Be.   When the practice is codified there is a danger that we can lose touch with the intention behind the practice as we shift our focus to attainment and gain.  Our attention is caught up in the doing. 


It does not matter which level of attainment you imagine you have reached within your practice.  It does not matter if you have practiced meditation for one year or twenty, or whether you’ve mastered your first or sixth level Ashtanga, or that you or someone else calls you a Grand Master.  While this may be of importance to the “I” mind, while this may have some validity and relevance in the world of form and phenomena, within the very system of origin that created it; it has no relevance, no stature, no bearing on the finding out of Who You Are. It is still, only, ever, about doing.


You are Who You Are.  The you that you are, was always there, you just did not notice it.  Your attention was rapped up, out there, focused on the doing rather than the Being.  The practice was a way to break the spell of achievement, to abandon the doing, while noticing the Being.  The practice was not the goal.  There never was a goal or target to be reached, controlled or mastered.  Realization is not the goal, for the self cannot master the Self; the self has no mastery over the Self. 


You are the goal.  You were the goal before you started seeking, you were the goal while you are seeking, and you will be the goal after you give up seeking.  Freedom lies in the Being, not in the doing.  It’s ok to have a practice.  It’s ok to have a good life, to be more peaceful, to enjoy life more fully in the Being rather than the doing.  When we take care of Being, the doing will spontaneously be expressed.  When we take care of Being, effortless doing will naturally be experienced, Being and doing become one.  Then we realize there was no Being and there is no doing…



“ You are always there.  The you that is always there, is the one that always goes unnoticed…” 


Stephen H. Wolinsky





ZEN Shredding ~ Insight # 18
October 15, 2008


Recognize struggle in your life.


Most of us have been conditioned to believe that we must struggle, strive and work hard in order to achieve or be successful. When you recognize struggle you can choose to momentarily pause and pull back your attention from that struggle.  This creates space and within the space you will find the freedom to choose a different way of Being. 


Extended commentary:


Someone once said we were born to struggle.  While there is still, occasional struggle in my own life, I have learned to indentify it as primarily a subjective state of mind.  There are times when an outer occurrence could cause great angst and it does not, and there are times when something really irrelevant triggers a cascade of emotions that undermine my attempts to navigate the present moment. 


My exploration and training in a process known as Rebirthing has provided much awareness and understanding into the story we build around struggle.  According to the precepts of Rebirthing our conditioning around struggle is primarily or at least heavily based on the experience of the birth process itself.  If we had a “difficult” birth (and for most it was not effortless!) we will wrongly assume that all experiences thereafter will also be based on struggle and precedent of that “first experience.  As a concept and explanation of suffering, it sits well with me.  I have witnessed enough of my own process and the lives of others to recognize the familiar patterns of struggle when they show up and the debilitating effects it can have on personal well being.


The wisdom tradition of Vedanta takes us a little deeper and more directly into the jugular when addressing the concept of struggle, suggesting the source of all suffering is a result of forgetfulness, of not knowing our true Self or Nature.  While there may be fear and grasping to that which is transient and unreal or identification to an imagined false core self or “I”; it is a lack of awareness of the ONE Self that causes a cascade of effects and immediate ramifications into our life.  The philosophy goes on to say that by discovering our true nature and Self we have the ability to resolve or transform all levels of suffering including the fear of death by pursuing a quest for Who We Are.


Regardless of the story, we have created around struggle, by objectifying the subjective; we break the spell of its hold on our life.  By becoming aware of the pattern of struggle itself, by witnessing its unique details within our body mind system, we loosen the ties that bind, and for a second the finite touches the infinite. 



What areas of your life feel like they are a struggle?


To order a copy of ZEN Shredding please visit:




Check out “Living The Dream”, the gift book version of the slideshow/movie that is available to view free on You tube or the ZEN Shredding website; an inspiring read with full color photo’s of Whistler/Blackcomb Alpine…



(c) Copyright – Michael Sean Symonds. All Rights Reserved Worldwide.




The Art of Renunciation…
October 9, 2008

“ Attachment destroys courage. The giver is always ready to give. The taker is absent. Freedom means letting go. People just do not care to let go of everything. They do not know that the finite is the price of the infinite, as death is the price of immortality. Spiritual maturity lies in the readiness to let go everything. The giving up is the first step. But the real giving up is in realizing that there is nothing to give up, for nothing is your own. It is like deep sleep – you do not give up your bed when you fall asleep – you just forget it..”.


Sri Nisargaddata Maharaj: from  (“I AM THAT” Page 363/364)


Renunciation, for the most part is a very misunderstood subject.  It’s wrapped up in philosophies and practices, ideas and understandings that at best distort and distract from any sort freedom, let alone realization.  Instead, most seekers are lead to simply more confusion and frustration as a result of the interpretations and misinterpretations of ideas that are added onto, an already complex concept.  


ZEN Shredding ~ Insight #17
October 7, 2008


It’s OK to fall. 


Pursuing happiness often leads into circumstances and situations that make you feel derailed.  Sometimes you just need to stop, take a breath and recapture your focus ~ in most cases the pain is only temporary.


Extended commentary:


How would you feel differently about yourself if you gave yourself permission to make mistakes more freely, without judgment?


How would you feel about your past if you could forgive yourself for the perceived failures and shortcomings?


What would your relationship to the present moment look like if you no longer lived according to some expectation of how you should perform, do, or achieve in life?


There are no external critiques.  The only imagined critique is the mind.  While we may have learned to assess, evaluate and rate our personal performance from outside ourselves, through role modeling, at some point we all consciously or unconsciously decided to adopt, to some degree the voice of an external critique(s).  In this moment we abandoned the voice of our own innocence, as we lost ourselves to self engendered beliefs.  We became our own, worst critique and we did a much better job than anyone on the outside could ever do.  For some, it became a twenty-four-seven job!


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