Archive for May, 2010

After Thought #30
May 26, 2010



…A few years ago I asked a teacher a question about soul. “I” had been doing some reading outside my usual posse of authors and was beginning to expose myself to some “pure” Buddhist teachings that were being used by another teacher of mine in the context of Advaita or non-duality. 

When “I” asked this teacher he kind of shrugged “me” off with some statement that implied the question was not so important; he implied by what he said “I” assume, that it was not really something to worry about.

One can never understand why a teacher might respond the way they respond to any question especially when it comes to the level of awareness.  “I” could make an assumption that since the teachings of his organization were primarily based on a more “Hindu” philosophical approach to spirituality i.e. the belief in the existence of a soul that reincarnates from life time to lifetime, that he might not want or feel that it was important to go too deep into the question or validity of such two opposing and confrontational perspectives: i.e. soul, no soul.  The risk in asking the question, the risk in exploring and exposing the question deeply, can open a Pandora’s Box with regards to the fundamental principles and techniques being used and sold by the organization he represented and by many spiritual philosophies and teachings that are available out there.

To create a little more context for this post; the main philosophical difference between what we call most “Hindu teachings” and Buddhism for example; can be really reduced down to the one defining question of soul; no soul.  Though it may not be discussed by many, Siddhartha Gautama, later to be known as Gautama Buddha, was actually a Hindu; prior to “his” realization.  Then again, Jesus of Nazareth was also a Jew; prior to his realization and “becoming” the Christ! 

They are unfortunate facts that often go unnoticed in both camps and especially by outsiders to those systems of thought, which are greatly influenced by those systems.  Those facts go unnoticed and they go mostly unspoken, as do the ramifications and implications of those very simple, obvious and important facts.  If you are on the “path” of finding out Who You Are; when it comes down to understanding the philosophical differences they are relevant.

Siddhartha Gautama’s realization under the Boddhi Tree some 2500 years ago was essentially based on the realization that there is no soul that reincarnates from lifetime to lifetime.  It is arguably the understated foundation of what was to become the Buddhist paradigm from which all teachings arose, which “I” now: 

 Form is emptiness; emptiness is form.  Form is none other than emptiness; emptiness is none other than form.

Plainly said, there is no soul. 

Better said, there is no soul; even if there appears to be a soul. 

Most accurately said; there is ONLY soul or, everything is soul/not soul.

Said another way: the soul exists and the soul does not exist simultaneously and there is no individual in it all.  Everything is the “One” substance that appears to be many substances.

Back then, when “I” asked the question “soul, no soul?”; when “I” was shrugged off by the reply of this teacher, “I” felt uncomfortable.  “I” felt incomplete with his response.  “I” felt like something unspoken, needed to be spoken.  “I” felt at the time, that what was not being said, was more important than what was being said and “I” needed to find out why what was not being said, seemed so important to “me”.

Naturally, as every naughty little aspirant does, “I” continued to pursue “my personal” agenda of finding out more of what was not being spoken and it lead “me” in directions that “I” could never have imagined.  There was a question in side “me” that was screaming investigation; it was begging enquiry.  There was no damn way “I” was going to shrug this question off as unimportant.  After all this was “my” spirituality we were talking about!  If my trip was to find out Who “I” AM, it felt damn important to answer a question that was obviously the source and foundation of so many spiritual beliefs, philosophies, and so called spiritual truths or paths.

I’m glad “I” did, and “I’m” glad “I” listened to that voice inside “me”. 

I’m glad that “I” did not accept his response so casually ~ so unconsciously as is so easy to do with so many teachers and their accepted teachings that are passed down and regurgitated over, and over and over again, to the masses.  After all, conventional religion has been feeding us nonsense teachings for thousands of years, what makes contemporary, alternative spirituality any different?


The perception of a soul, a body, creation, the mind or our world, comes from an “I” that imagines it is separate from the “one” substance and declares: “there is a soul”; “there is a body”; “there is a mind”; “there is a world”.

Only an “I” can perceive something, and in doing so forgets everything. 

In our search for something we give up everything.  To an “I” that stands on the outside looking in there is separation, distance, time, past, present and future.  To an “I” living in the foreground of life, there is a process, an evolution, and devolution.  There is a cause and effect; there is an up and a down; there is a right way and a wrong way.  There is a source and not source.  With separation, there is a path to unification. 

With separation, there is also a reason for everything.  And if there is a reason for everything, then that something that is out there, can be controlled, changed, fixed or transformed.  That something can be purified to become everything ~ potentially.

Only an “I” could come up with such thinking, such distinction, such delusion.  Only an “I” could be caught up in the web of its own confusion and delusion, trying to explain a story and separation and distinction; a soul trying to find its way home.

As the “I” conceives and perceives the story of its imagined distinction and then identifies itself to those fictitious stories of separation, it loses touch with its knowing.  Instead of knowing “the not I” as the “one substance”, it grasps, clings and holds onto the explanation and story of the “I” itself, and all its delusions.  Distinction leads to separation and struggle and are symptoms of the absence of love; love is the absence of distinction, separation and struggle…

Insight #75 ZEN Shredding…
May 20, 2010


[… An excerpt from ZEN Shredding]


It’s about clarity, courage and letting go



For many years I had been developing a negative view towards my body.  The combination of moving further away from the biology of my youth, and the cumulative diet of morning muffins with lattes and pasta dinners was having its effect.  My first few lessons on the hill were reality checks of just how bad things had become ~ I could barely reach over to strap into my bindings.

There is something vulnerable and paradoxical about some learning experiences.  You show up to learn something new and all of a sudden, the moment is hijacked by memories of your past failures or fears of future catastrophes.  There was a moment during my first lesson of snowboarding where my coach had us practice a side slipping technique, where your board is horizontal to the incline of the mountain with both feet strapped in.  The skill was practiced first, facing up the hill and then looking down the hill.  In both variations we were to hold the hands of the instructor for stability, without looking at the ground or our feet.  This skill practice in particular required complete trust, a letting go and relying on another human being ~ not something I’m so practiced at. 

I will never forget the intense intimacy and security I felt as I held onto my instructor’s hands while gazing directly into his eyes.  For a brief moment it felt like there was no past or future, for a moment it felt like I was completely present and completely vulnerable to another human being. In that moment I did not fall, in that moment I bridged the fears of my mind to be present in the possibilities of the moment.  My choice to surrender to the moment by relying on someone else’s support allowed me to digest the skill at hand and a much deeper learning. It was a reminder of the importance to surround yourself with people who are big enough or skilled enough to support you with the dreams you have for your life.

Mentors are essentially people you can trust, people that can provide you with alternative information and new perspectives or skills. Having another point of view helps to prevent you from falling into the traps of self engendered thinking and conditioning, behavior or action…

To order a copy of ZEN Shredding please visit:


Visit my new Blog for daily quotes based on my writings and the book ZEN Shredding:


Other work:

ZEN Shredding: The Prequel



The Essentials of a Good Life…


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


After Thought #29
May 13, 2010



 What’s happening?

Things are happening or not happening all the time.  The problem is the way things happen or do not happen is very different than the way we imagine things happen or do not happen. 

Things happen in a way we don’t understand; they happen in different ways than we think or imagine.  They happen in ways that we can never comprehend.

Human beings think they are so smart because they come up with ideas about how things happen or do not happen all the time.  And when they can’t find a good enough reason to explain why something happened or did not happen they create speculative stories to fill in the gaps of the “why”.  We love to create and indulge in our explanations, reasons and justifications as to why something happened or did not happen and we will go to extreme lengths to convince ourselves and others of those explanations.

Everything that is going to happen will happen and anything that is not going to happen will not happen; we cannot do anything about what’s happening or not going to happen.  We cannot prevent what is going to happen, and we cannot create what is not going to happen either.

There is no “you” that can play a role in making something happen or not happen.  Things happen or they don’t happen; period.

The you that you imagine yourself to be, arrives long after what’s happening, has occurred.  You are constantly arriving late to your so called present moment; the moment that appears to be happening.  What happens or does not happen in the present moment occurs before you arrive; you’re not really ever present for the moment or for what is happening or not happening, even though you might think that you are, or have been told so.  When you do finally arrive, the you that you imagine yourself to be spins a story of why, in a desperate attempt to organize what is un-organizable; to control what is uncontrollable.

Even though we constantly make up stories [philosophies, teachings and religions] to explain why something happens or does not happen, they are at best, sanitized speculations; they are at best words only, which exist in language only.  The explanation lives in language only.  At worst, they are conspiracies of denial.  They are personal editorializations; filtered versions of a selective viewpoint and understanding of reality, based on ideas about how things happen or do not happen. 

They may be our subjective experience of reality, but they are not reality itself.

If we really understood the depth of what’s happening or not happening, we could finally let go of pretending that we have any control over anything.  We could finally let go of imagining that we have some ability to affect what is happening or not happening.  We could dive deeply in the chaos of the Universe, prior to the appearance of creation.  Prior to the “I” that imagines it knows.

The more we can drop the narcissistic delusion of the “I”, especially the “I” that shows up in “I” spirituality, the more we could recognize that life happens or it does not happen independently of what we think, say or believe.  The more we would see that things happen or don’t happen in much grander ways than we could ever, possibly imagine. 

With awareness, we could focus more on letting go of our ideas about what we imagine needs to happen and let what’s going to happen, happen, while also ignoring what we imagine or fear might happen that will actually not happen; we could sit back and let things happen or not. 

We could let life Be.

Now, before your “I” mind runs away on some tangent about being reckless or irresponsible, or thinks that I’m encouraging us all to become radical victims of anarchy; I want to let you in on a very big secret.  It’s not some imaginary or delusionary secret about how to create or co-create your reality or get more money; to be more, do more or have more. It’s not about some short cut to enlightenment.  It’s certainly not some nonsense teaching based on mind made ideas of some “law of attraction” that will lead you to the perfect little life, that every “I” in us all, wants, needs and desires.  “I” won’t delude you.  “I” won’t lead you down that dead end path of your perceived psychology.  This is a simple secret that may or may not change how you see your life forever: 

What’s going to happen will happen.  What’s not going to happen will not happen.   How things happen or do not happen, have nothing to do with “you”.  They have nothing to do with the “I” that you think you are, because the “I” perceiver does not show up until after the event or action takes place.

The “I” has no power. 

There is no “I” that can claim doership; that has separate will or volition.  It is the one substance alone that is contracting or expanding that “produces” the appearance of an event, circumstance or situation that arises or does not arise in your so called life. 

Radical Spirituality is the realization that there is no “I” in the world that can take authorship or ownership, to what happens or does not happen in life.  Radical Spirituality is the realization that there is no world and there is no “I”. 

If something happens or does not happen, it’s because it was going to happen or it was not going to happen; regardless of what you might think or believe to be true. 

Radical Spirituality does not seek to understand mind made ideas of cause or effect to justify reality or outcome; to control perceived reality or outcome for its own means. 

Radical Spirituality does not seek reason or even understanding in a story of what is, was or will be that is spun by a delusional “I” mind; wrapped up as some pseudo, spiritual philosophy called Karma.

What is, is; or it’s not.  Radical Spirituality recognizes no relationships, other than the “One” substance that constantly arises and subsides.

What happens or does not happen, can only be perceived by an “I” that imagines it is separate from the One substance.  In the awareness of separation, in awareness of self consciousness, there will be an appearance of choice, will, volition, cause, effect or reason. 

When you slip into the gap there is no “I” and there is no happening or not happening.  Prior to happening or not happening, there is no “I”; stay there.  Prior to the explanation, justification or reason; just stay their.  To stay there, forget this attempt at explaining why something happens or does not happen; because it’s just another story and explanation. 

Prior to the “I”, and prior to the story, just stay there…


… inpspired by the work of Stephen H Wolinsky


the teachings of Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj.

After Thought #28
May 6, 2010





At the end of the day, I’m just someone who wants to love and be loved; nothing more, nothing less. 

It’s really that simple.

Deep down all human beings want to give love and receive love.

In the giving and receiving of love, we our reminded of our innate wholeness; we are reminded of our interdependence and interconnectedness with all humanity and the underlying unity of all humanity.

Things get complicated when we substitute the giving and receiving of love, for the object of love.  When the objects of love become more important than the giving and receiving that is found in love, our attention becomes distracted and scattered, it becomes fixated on things and we lose touch with our essence, love. 

It was never about the objects.  It was never about “what could be got, achieved, or experienced”.  It was always, only, about the giving and receiving.  It was never about the goal, but a process of sharing, that appears to occur, that ends up as a goal.

When we focus on the object of our love versus the giving and the receiving of love, we lose touch with the inherent love that exists in us all.  We temporarily lose touch with the experience of wholeness as we become more and more fixated on the object of love that appears to be out there, versus the love that resides within here, as the giving and receiving.

No matter whom we are or what we do or do not do, it’s always about giving and receiving.  Once in while, when we can truly come to terms with the giving and receiving of love; in that recognition and appreciation, we realize that there is actually no giving and there is no receiving; there is just a movement, a flow, an exchange of love, as Being.  Love Being expressed and love Being experienced; a love that comes from a place of no want or need.

After Thought #27…
May 4, 2010



[… STAY with me!]



What is known is more important than what is unknown. 

What is unknown; is.


What is known becomes a temporary obstacle to the perception and “experience” of what is unknown.


It hides and it masks; it distracts and seduces the “you” you imagine yourself to be, from what is unknown.


What is known has been learned. What has been learned must be unlearned.


When attention is given to the known; the obstacles that have been learned, they can be examined and investigated; they can be unpacked.  They can at once be revealed for what they are: as a known obstacle, a distraction and mask, a falsehood that appears to hide what is presently unknown.



Something has become a temporary barrier to nothing.  The learned known, appears to prevent us from seeing the unknown. 



Nothing is; a learned something, is not.



Your vision of the unknown can be clarified by revealing and removing the obstacles of the known.  What has been learned can also be unlearned.  In the space of that knowing; in the space of that unlearning, the unknown can be revealed and what appeared to be something, becomes nothing.



What is learned finally becomes unlearned.



If nothing is and something is not, then there is no nothing and there is no something; there is nothing and something simultaneously, or not.



There is no learning or unlearning; everything just is, or not.



What are those obstacles of the known that you appear to have, which prevent you from seeing the unknown; and the nothing?


What known appears to prevent the unknown?


What is known, must be unknown.


What do you need to unlearn?



The Next Top Spiritual Author…
May 2, 2010

Hi all!

This is the last few days [May 3rd, ~ 12pm] of my chance [and a chance for others ] to be voted through to round 2 of “The Next Top Spiritual Author” competition.  Its a chance [for “me”] to be published by one of the BIG Boys of publishing: Hampton Roads Publishing and my self published book “ZEN Shredding: Insights, Questions and Confessions of a Meditator and Novice Snowboarder on the pursuit of dreams, inspiration, passion and change”, that came out in 2008.

As a writer, it’s always good to have access to wider circulation channels, so this is a BIG opportunity. 

So, f you hav’nt found the time to vote here’s the scoop for a chance to win one of 5 free books [original ZEN] that i’m giving away as part of the fun!

1) Head to the link below

2) Sign in.

3) Vote ~ for me : )

4) After you have finished voting, a pop up will give you some details on entering a draw for a chance to win one of 5 free Books from my original ZEN Shredding…

Note: 250ppl will progress into round two, where a new vote will be activated on May 24th, you might have to come back again if I progress to round two!!!

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