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 #72 ~ ZEN Shredding…
March 4, 2010


Spend more time in Nature.  


There is a rhythm, flow (and chairlift) in Nature that connects us to Harmony. Spending time in the rhythm and flow of Nature allows our minds, bodies and Spirit to recalibrate to the very same power that creates a baby and orchestrates a Universe. 

You can have moments in Nature, when everything dissolves into everything else, where there is no “I”, “me”, or “mine”.  Being in nature can often lead to spontaneous meditative states that can fulfill you on the deepest, most natural levels of your Being. 

Extended commentary:

Everything is always dissolving into everything else, because it’s all really nothing disguised as something.  Without “nothing” you could not have or appreciate something.  Everything is nothing and that nothing sometimes becomes something; eventually it will subside into back into nothing.

There’s more to the experience and beauty of nature than the infinite visual expressions of diversity that dance before our eyes.  The essence of nature’s beauty lies in its naked, direct, unbridled expression; nothing masquerades as something.  A few hours in nature is equivalent to one thousand sessions of therapy; without the necessary understanding or expense.  A few hours spent in nature allows you slip into the rhythm, flow and movement of your own Being; the same Being that is the life throb of divinity itself. 

In the stillness of nature that appears to be something; the impulse of nothing begins to dissolve mind made barriers; distinctions that would normally elevate our personal suffering subside, and the mind that once thought it was something, becomes nothing.  Gently, quietly, we are seduced and intoxicated by nature’s sweetness.  Form becomes Being, Being becomes form.  In these sacred, immersed moments in nature, we are reminded at the deepest level that form is Being and Being is form.  When form is experienced as Being, and Being is experienced as form, we realize there is no form and there is no Being; the personal becomes impersonal. 

Notice with the appreciation of your attention the gift of  nothing as it becomes the something we call nature; notice by spending time in nature that in that something we call nature there is actually nothing, and in that moment of nothing, you will find everything…           



When was the last time you went for a walk in the park or looked for a shooting star in the night sky?


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…


When you get a chance, please visit the home of my latest work:


The Essentials of a Good Life…


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

After thought #20
February 26, 2010



Who are you Being?

 Who you are Being has nothing to do with what you are doing.   Being happens long before the doing and the “I” occur.  Doing is the “final” expression of Being; the “I” a sequel.  Most human Beings place all of their attention on the foreground of the doing, and in doing so lose touch with background of Being. 

We have become especially obsessed with the thinking, the being, the having and the doing of life and we wonder why we suffer.  We imagine there is something special, in the process of doing; doing for the most part is placed over the essence of Being. 

Being becomes relegated to the background and doing is emphasized in the foreground where it is idolized and worshiped; placed highly above the value of Being.  The marginalization of Being paves way to the neurosis of doing, and in the neurosis of that thinking, having, being and doing we lose touch with the innocence and value of Being.

You are not the doer, “you” are Being.

The “you” that you imagine yourself to be arrives long after the brush stroke of Being has expressed its nature.  The doer and the doing are an illusion; the thinker and the thinking are irrelevant; erroneous footnotes of an “I” that has sliced and diced the moment with labels and premature cognitive commitments on the now. 

The having or not having just occur; the thinking and the being, the doing or not doing, just occur; just as Being also, always, spontaneously occurs.  Prior to thinking there is Being, prior to the having there is Being, and prior to the doing there is always Being.  The thinking, the being, the having and the doing arise and fall as an impulse of Being and are One.

If we were to focus less on the doing, the thinking, the having and the being we might glimpse the value of Being itself; we might realize it as our essential nature.  With a quiet attention on the background of Being, we might unleash the impulse of life that becomes the thinking, the being, the having and the doing.  We might for once innocently know the impulse of life that knows no bounds; where the knowing of one’s Self is the Being of ones Self.

There will always be doing, the question arises: who is the doer?

If we take care of the Being, the doing, the thinking, the having and the being will take care of itself…

Please watch this short, delicious video on the “The Joy of Being”

After thought #14
December 23, 2009


We could say that most people are meditating all the time. 

Their meditations are focused on what they are thinking, who they are being, what they are doing and what they have or do not have in life. 

There is nothing inherently wrong with this unconscious style of meditation, except for the fact that it is a very “sloppy” because there has been no instruction and there is no understanding in how to harness the power of attention.  This style of unconscious meditation that focuses attention only on thinking, being, doing and having, or not having is enough to make anyone feel crazy; and it does.

With a little instruction, with a small amount of understanding, everyone who is presently practicing these very unconscious, sloppy, styles of meditation could be “converted” into “master meditators”.  Instead of focusing on the external world of form and phenomena; instead of filling and losing oneself in the activity of their present style of meditation, one could begin to taste the freedom that lies in stillness.  One would have the opportunity to experience the many dynamic benefits of true meditation, which can be cultivated and thrive in the stillness in “non activity”.

There is nothing inherently wrong with thinking, being, doing and having; it will always appear to be occurring at the body/mind level.  But something magical can happen when the activity of thinking, being, doing and having is infused with the non activity of true meditation; meditation that allows one to experience the stillness that exists at the heart of all experience.  A little daily experience of non activity or restful alertness is enough to have an infinitely more dynamic impact on the expression of thinking, being, doing and having than any activity could ever have.

After thought #7
November 12, 2009


For most of my life I thought and believed that what was important was to think something, be something, do something and have something.  I mean isn’t that what life is about?  We’re born and our reason for being is to think certain things, be a certain way, do certain things and hopefully accumulate certain results that allow us to say we have lived a fulfilled life and we know who we are.

I’m not so sure any more, especially in the context of finding out Who We Are.  I’m not so sure, and I’m not so confident that at the deepest level, from a so-called “spiritual perspective”, that the mechanics of this assumption and process is valid.  If we look at the mechanics innocently, most spiritual philosophies follow a similar “my” theology.  In order to be “spiritual”, we need to think spiritual thoughts, do spiritual things, have spiritual experiences that will hopefully allow us to be who we are spiritually.  

I’m starting to realize inherently there is no difference to the mechanics or approach of this perceived new way of being.  It is not a new way of Being, and it certainly does not necessarily lead us to be any more “closer” to finding out Who We Are.  The same, exact mechanics are in operation here.  It’s the same way of being, with a different content; it just looks more exciting, sometimes feels more exciting, and on one level appears to be a more sociably acceptable form, or new way of living that will reduce or eliminate our suffering.  In the best case scenario, it may provide more happiness and fulfillment, but it still entails thinking, being, doing and having, and if “our” “intention” is to find out Who We Are, if our “intention” is for radical transformation, it is a very seductive distraction and illusion. 

If “our intention” is for “transformation”, to redefine “our sense of self” so that we can move beyond suffering and ways of being that do not serve, one that is not based on thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions, associations or memories, then the inherent mechanics of our approach; changing the content of our thinking, being, having and doing, is flawed. 

It is the mechanics of our thinking, being, doing and having itself, that are flawed.  Changing the content of our thinking, being, having and doing, will not eliminate the suffering and it will not lead to Self, it will only serve to create yet another, potential, obstacle, towards the inherent discovery and allowing of Who We Are.  Prior to thinking something, being something, doing something and having something, you are…


September 17, 2009



In the beginning,

it’s ALL about the mind,

it feels and seems that it’s all-ways about the mind,

and it’s all about “you”.


There is seduction and perceived safety in the mind;

the knowing and the not knowing,

and the you.


In the beginning, it’s all about the mind and its needs, wants and desires. 

It’s all about the gains and loses,

the successes and failures that only a mind or you,

can come up with.


It’s all about its likes and dislikes,

it’s concerns,


and its anxieties.


It’s all about its strengths and weaknesses,

JOY’s and sorrows,

its perceived past,

and its imagined future.


It’s all about its frustrations,

dreams and misunderstandings;

and the pain and pleasure that it creates or does not create,

for now.


For now,

it’s all about the mind,

and it’s all about the “you”;

it’s all about the you,

you imagine yourself to be as a result of identifying with the mind, as you.


There comes a time for some, when all this drama and all this nonsense begins to fade, when the deepest part of Self seems to say enough!  By taking our attention off the mind and its wanderings and instead, placing it on the One who is aware of the mind, its wanderings and its obsessions. 

There comes a time when the mind AS you, can begin to fade, where the “you” you imagine yourself to be, begins to realize that there is more to the “you” than you could ever, possibly have imagined. More than the story of the good and the bad, more than the story of the highs and lows, more than the fantasies and phobia’s, the obsessions, compulsions, fixations and neurosis of a perceived mind that has its impulses and urges.

It is possible for a time to come when it is no longer about the mind only; a shift occurs when what is important, is not what we understand or know, what we have learned or not learned, but instead our ability to discern the difference between the mind, and all activity of the mind: the knower, the known and the knowing, the observer, the observed and the observing, the experiencer, the experience and the experiencing collapse into the One awareness of Being.

 There is a time when a space occurs, when there is a cut between the thought, the thinking and the thinker, the past and the future; where the perceiver, perceived and perceiving can end, where the thoughts, feelings, emotions, perceptions and associations subside. 

This is the space where freedom occurs, where there is no “in” or “out”, “up” or “down”, “here” or “there”, where there is no mind, no knower and no known.

This is the space where freedom occurs, where “pure”, “undivided” awareness arises, where there is no this and that.


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

Insight #57 ~ ZEN Shredding…
September 10, 2009

Picture 001

[exceprted from ZEN Shredding]

After a few months of snowboarding practice, I began to actively seek opportunities to develop, refine and enhance my skills.  My initial fear and anxiety gave way to joy and anticipation.  Increased confidence in my own abilities provided greater levels of comfort and ease, so I could simply show up and have fun.  The flow of time, experience and knowledge began to serve as a gateway of clarity to the rhythm and flow of my life. I decided to participate in a weeklong ‘ride and learn’ club.  It was an opportunity to meet new people, explore new terrain and improve my skills in the process. 

There were a couple of Australians in our group who knew how to play hard.  One was a surfer who had unfortunately hurt his arm while surfing just prior to coming to Canada.  He not only had a big heart but buckets of bravado and stamina.  As each day progressed he fell again and again on his injured shoulder.  But he showed up every day.  He justified his unstoppable attendance by the expense of his trip and the boy inside who did not want to miss out for even one moment.

It’s good to listen to your body.  It provides you with relevant guidance to what may or may not be possible.  During the first season I learned quickly, sometimes painfully, to listen to my body.  I had a pass that provided me with unlimited trips to the hill.  I did not have to show up every day to make sure I got my money’s worth; I did not need to spend long days on the hill because I was only in town for a very expensive, week long holiday.  It was liberating for me to be able to discover and determine my own rhythm of being on the hill, while also recognizing that this rhythm could be enhanced if I remained flexible as it ebbed and flowed through the days, weeks, months and years…






Engage the moment as it is. 


Conditions can change dramatically in your life.  While those conditions may conflict with your predetermined agenda, they are as they are ~ or not.  In those moments when your visibility is tempered by distraction, being OK with what is will provide you with a heightened level of presence that enables you to navigate your most challenging extremes.


Extended commentary:

We cannot change the content of the present moment.  In the moment of our greatest fear or suffering, pain or sadness, joy or confusion; we cannot change the content of what is.  We can however change the approach we have to the moment; how we see, subjectively experience, interpret, understand or perceive that moment.  We can have an alert appreciation of the moment, regardless of what content is occurring in the moment. 

 Do you react to the moment?

Do you run from the moment?   

Do you resist the moment by judging, evaluating or by placing erroneous significance on the moment?  

For anything to happen, the entire Universe must conspire for that moment, event, circumstance or situation to unfold, as it is.  Everything is the cause of everything else.  What makes you imagine that the contents of what is occurring in that moment can somehow be changed by the you, you imagine yourself to be?

You can Be aware of that moment, you can be present to that moment.  “You” can have your attention on the process of that moment, or not. In that moment “you” can allow your attention to be on that moment completely, fully, unconditionally, “allowing” that moment to simply Be; by Being.

In the stillness of attention, as it is placed on that moment, as it stands in Being, there is no need for anything to be changed, fixed, transformed or healed.  In the letting go of the need of  “trying” to let go, the ever present, unbounded, Essence of Who You Are can gently move from the unnoticed, background of your attention, to the foreground of Being; where condition, circumstance and situation are irrelevant, where the “good” and the “bad”, the “perfect” and the “imperfect”, are seen as “One”.    

“You” cannot change the present moment.  “You” don’t have to force yourself to even “like” that moment, but “you” can with attention, step out of habitual, conditioned ways of seeing, thinking, and doing life; allowing the many perceived obstacles that are constantly created by the mind to evaporate; that prevent your Essential Self from Being present and available to that moment. 

In the moment of Being there can be no judgment.  In the moment of Being it is possible for there to be no evaluation, and in the moment of Being the significance and fixation that one would normally place on the content of that moment, can end; abandoned forever, so that the innocence of Being, in which all content arises, can once again be revealed and experienced…    

Can you be present with your conditions without assessing, evaluating and comparing 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…



 When you get a chance, please visit the home of my latest work:



The Essentials of a Good Life…


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


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