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An introduction to Mindfulness

Getting back your balance

Dealing with thoughts

The main idea of Mindfulness meditation is about observing thoughts. We do not try to control, analyse or judge the thoughts that go through our mind. Instead, we observe them for exactly what they are. Thoughts do not control or define us. We learn to look at thoughts in a detached way. Most of the time, we think that thoughts are part of us and define us. What if I tell you that they are not?

Most of the thoughts that come to our minds come from whatever we are reading, watching or what people have been telling us. They can be part of our belief system, our upbringing or even education. Do they really define who we are? Are they part of our authentic self? Once we realise that thoughts are not exactly part of our inner being, we view them as just thoughts and we are freed from them in a certain way. It’s the best moment as a practitioner when students realise this the first time.

We do not ignore the thoughts though, no matter how disturbing they can be. In Mindfulness, we do not say that all is love and light and put things under the carpet. Well, it’s not what I teach anyway. We welcome the distracting thoughts, sensations or physical discomfort we are experiencing in the present moment and accept them.

We do so because whenever we resist emotions we are feeling in the body, we make things worse. It is totally fine to be angry, sad, vulnerable and so on. Acknowldeging how we are feeling helps us to know where we need to work on and gives guidance on where the knots are so that we are work on them.

In our my next blog, I am going to explore ways of increasing awareness through deep breathing and teach some simple techniques you can try on a daily basis.

The Philosophy of Star Wars

Inside a man’s heart lies good and evil.  Evil is tempting as it gives us a sense of power, dominance, vengeance, control, anarchy, and ruthlessness.  However, it’s the path of the coward.  On the other hand, self-control, reason, and compassion are traits which are far harder to master but they are worth the effort in the long run.  Nevertheless, there’s no peace without suffering and there’s no strong man born without a past of suffering. Confidence and resilience are mastered when we push ourselves through hard situations consistently and endure the pain in the present moment to prepare ourselves for the coming chaos.  This is usually noticed when we exercise daily.  We voluntarily push ourselves and feel pain knowing that it is building endurance for the future.

Anakin’s decent to the dark side

I am going to use the character Anakin to go over the fundamentals of the Jedi Philosophy which is influenced by Buddhism and Stoicism.  Anakin was the chosen one in Star Wars.  He was very skillful and could have been the best Jedi ever.  However, as he faced challenges, he turned bitter, resentful, and full of hatred.  The death of his mother, attachment in his romantic life and the fear of abandonment turned him into the Darth Vader.  The story of Anakin teaches us that life can take the best of us and destroy us by creating certain situations.  We need to be ready for such things.  Life has taught me that good and bad things happen to both good and bad people.  There’s no guarantee that if you do good things, good things will always happen to you.  In my experience, while trying to do the best things for others, things got worse at times.  However, what really keeps me going?  It’s not really results but knowing that my intent was right.  The next paragraphs will be about the attitude we need to develop to survive the chaos of life, inspired from Star Wars.

Detachment sets us free

Attachment is sometimes justified as genuine caring of the other person.  However, is this really the case? Attachment makes us a slave of the other person and blurs our vision.  Attachment sometimes doesn’t allow us to see reality as it is and not let us know that we might be manipulated by the other person. Detachment is a value that we need to cultivate through practice and Master Yoda teaches in the Star Wars that we need to be ready to lose the thing we are most afraid of losing and we should visualize losing this thing every day.  Stoics like me like running the worse things in our heads so that we build mental fortitude and see things as the way they are.  There’s no hiding from the pain.  See things as they are.  Let life burn you completely so that you can be reborn.

Equanimity is the key but not the end goal

George Lucas views himself as a progressive Buddhist and I believe he took this concept from Buddhism.  Equanimity, in a Buddhist sense, means to treat all aspects of life the same way.  When good things happen, rejoice, and know that they won’t last.  When bad things happen, take them boldly and know that they won’t last too.  More suffering happens when we push away bad moments and try to cling to good moments.  Moments are just the way they are.  I’d say that this aspect is linked to detachment in a sense that with detachment, we can really see things with equanimity.  However, this is not the end of the practice.  We need to live a life of honour while practising equanimity.  Stoics called it a life of virtues.  The Buddhists had their eightfold path.  Jedis have their moral compass, sense of justice and fairness.  It was about doing the right thing and being a good human being.

Fear leads to darkness

Fear leads to anger and anger leads to hatred.  In this way, fear leads to darkness and once we are there, we may get stuck for a long time.  Hence, it’s very important to practise living mindfully so that we are constantly aware of our emotions and view them with detachment.  When the emotions are too strong, then we can actively pursue something like sports so that we can be regenerated.  If we stay in this dark phase for too long, it starts to consume us, eating us in the inside and making us lose all our good traits just like it did with Anakin.  Hence, awareness is very important.

Cowards are those follow the dark side

Yoda famously said that Cowards follow the dark side.  What he means by that is it’s very easy to get carried by anger, greed and ignorance and do damage to oneself and others.  It’s harder to live a life of self-control, compassion and discipline and cowards will choose the easiest way rather than the harder one.

It’s easy to fall into one of the traps but the whole point of writing this article is a reminder that I still battle these inner demons and I wanted to share them with you.  May the force be with you.

Lots of love,

Geerish.

Enemies in disguise

As a human being we need to be aware of 5 states of mind which can be very harmful to us. These are:  Hatred, Anger, Stagnation, Doubt, and Desires.  We need to continuously reflect on our actions and check whether our behavior is reinforcing or creating any of these mental states. Hence, the first step is always to look at ourselves first. However, there are also people who close to us who may not be the best companions for us without us realizing it. They are usually named toxic relationships, and I am going to call them enemies in disguise here.

While Buddhism is about loving kindness to everyone, we do include ourselves in the saving of all sentient beings and we also do recognize that there is malevolence in people. I’d say that we think that people act in destructive ways out of ignorance, and they are not necessarily born evil. Nevertheless, this can be debated. I am going to use the Sigalovada Sutta to explain the 4 categories of people we need to be careful about.

These four enemies can be categorised as follows:

 The taker

There are some friends who ask a lot and give very little in friendships. They are usually not interested in the friendship but what they can get out of it. So, you will notice that it’s always you who does more and more, and it’s not reciprocated. You may notice that you are taken for granted and not a priority. You may see that the person always approaches you when there is a need for you. It’s not about you but how the person can use you for his/her own self.

 The talker

This kind of friend uses words to manipulate you. The person will elevate you to a level whereby you think that the person really likes you. The person will promise a lot and tell you how he/she will always be here for you, but the person will do very little. You will notice that when the road gets tough, the person will disappear. The talker can be identified as follows:

Reminder of past generosity, for ex, I did this, this, and this.

Mouthing empty words of kindness which mean nothing.

Protesting personal misfortune and how the world is against the person especially when the person acts wrongly towards you or others; thus, kind of justifying one’s bad actions.

Promising future generosity

The flatterer

The person supports both your good and bad behavior. For example, if you do something wrong, the person will tell you that’s good as well. So, the person will encourage you to act your worse behaviors. In this way, the person doesn’t really have your best interest in mind. The person will praise you to your face but put you down behind your back. The person will flatter you a lot to create a sort of dependency towards him/her. That’s where you are the most vulnerable and the person can do the most damage. Thus, it’s very dangerous.

 The reckless companion

The person encourages you to live an extreme life. So, the person will accompany you in drinking, roam at night with you, party, and gamble.  Such people are trying to forget about their misery of life not by confronting it as it is but by getting into extremes to ease their pain and they will make you jump into this tornado of self-created hell.

Now, we may be displaying such behavior as well and the whole idea behind writing this article is to make us aware of what kind of behavior is unhealthy for us and others.

Love to all,

Geerish.

Misfortune, the warrior mindset and Zen

The Rock Metaphor and Zen

As waves break on a rock, the rock stands firm.  The rock is unaffected, unconcerned with all the chaos around it and keeps doing its job, which is to be a rock.  We, men are so swayed by emotions and our intellect sometimes can be our worse enemy.  Reality is just as it is.  We interpret things, feel about them, and create our own heaven or hell which in real just exist in our imagination, or our fantasy of what reality should be.  In Zen, we look at things the way they are.  We neither hold on to things nor hold them too loose.  We live the present moment and go with whatever life brings us.  However, this is not a passive way of living.  We live a life where we take full responsibility of our actions, our thoughts, and our intent.  We also realize that we are not in control of so many other things.  When we live this way, we are fully content that we are doing our maximum with things in our control and practicing detachment from things we can’t control.  This gives us the freedom we all want.

Bad Luck, the warrior mindset and owning your life

When tragedy punches you in your face, what do you do? I am quite sure that you say that it is my bad luck, and this has happened to me.  What about the following:  It is my good luck that this has happened to me? This will allow me to see my limitations and go on war against them. I will enjoy being in this mud with blood rolling down my face.  I will destroy my weaknesses and rise above them. I shall rise above this pathetic loser who wants comfort inside of me right now.

Create the Beast inside

We want to think that life is against us, and people are doing things to us. What about taking it all inside of you and use it as fuel? Change the inner talk to the following:  Although this has happened to me, I can bear it without pain, neither crushed by the present nor fearful about the future. Why do we see misfortune in the event than the good fortune in our ability to bear it? Let’s look at Batman. The worse thing that happened to Bruce, which was the death of his parents turned him into the Batman, a resilient, uncompromising, powerful and dangerous entity. So, it’s all about perspective.

If we keep finding excuses for the things which happen to us instead of us looking deep inside of us and fighting our inner demons, we will never push ourselves to unleash our true potential by facing our weaknesses.

May the force be with you.

Much love, Geerish.

Suffering and self inflicted suffering

Suffering is inevitable and is part of life.  Perhaps, we could say that life is suffering.  Birth is pain, death is pain and living happens through pain.  While pain is just part of life and is actually a very important part of growth in many ways, there also exists pain which we inflict on ourselves, and this is where we can improve through Spiritual practice.

Imagine an arrow hits you.  You feel pain.  If you receive another arrow on the same spot, you feel more pain, perhaps doubled.  If you receive a further arrow on that spot, the pain is more than a hundred times.  The second and third arrows represent our resistance, complaining and mental struggle after that we have received initial suffering from life in the form of the first arrow. So, there’s no denying that there’s suffering in life.  The wise will know that one shouldn’t make things worse through the battling of the mind. So, when good happens to you, take it with a smile.  When bad happens to you, take it with a smile as well.  This is called the middle way.

Just looking at things with equanimity doesn’t solve the problem though.  We need to put in the work.  There is a famous zen tale about the disciple who asked the master about how to overcome suffering.  The master asked the disciple to push a boulder to the top of the mountain which the disciple did.  The student collapsed as he reached the top of the mountain.  The student laid unconscious for a while.  When the student got up, the master pushed the boulder with a stick.  Then, he told the student to bring the boulder back to the top of the mountain. 

What’s the essence of the story?  The only way to overcome suffering is to face it till the end and after that you’ve conquered it, there will be another suffering which will surface.  Why is it like that?  Well, that is because life is suffering, whether you like it or not.

Renunciation

Renunciation is an important part of growth.  To grow, we need to give up our old selves.  Another way of looking at it is that we give up what no longer serves us to build new skills, attitudes and learn new ways which will help us to cope better with the challenges of lives.   However, there are certain general human traits which are part of all of us and renunciation of them will liberate us from the suffering in so many ways. The three traits we will consider today are desires, attachment and expectation.

Desires

Desires are not bad as they keep us moving.  However, having no desire will make us lethargic.  On the other hand, having too many desires because we think that we are not good enough isn’t good as well. We will always be chasing something thinking that it will make our lives better.  This can be money, status, or relationships.  Having said that, it’s fine to have healthy desires.  It’s fine to want to improve our lives for the betterment of ourselves and others.  So, we can renunciate desires which make us less harmonious towards ourselves and others and embrace desires which make us better human beings.  For example, the desire to have a better health, stability and peace in our lives is vital for making a better world for everyone who live in it.

Attachment

We tend to cling to things which give us a sense of safety, warmness, meaning or worth in our lives.  However, in a world of impermanence, nothing lasts and everything we cling to will not always be here.  While this can make us cynical, we need not live a life which feels like a burden on us and others.  The way out is to give ourselves fully to what life offers to us and detach ourselves after giving ourselves fully to life that presents to us.  It’s like living a life and not carrying the weight of our actions in us.  It’s about doing what is right without continuously thinking that we are doing the right thing.  In Buddhism, the biggest renunciation is that of giving up our storyline where we always keep telling ourselves that we are doing this, that or the other thing.

Expectation

We expect life to be a certain way and it isn’t.  This makes us suffer.  We expect people to behave a certain way and they don’t. This makes us suffer. We expect love and we don’t get it.  This makes us suffer.  So why expect?  If we expect good to happen when we are doing good, it’s still greed and doing for oneself.  An act of giving is pure when there’s just giving.  Hence, doing what is ethical and right and moving on day after day no matter whether there’s encouragement or no is the right thing to do.  Everyday is an opportunity to practice the way and get better day after day or in a way we can view ourselves as getting closer and closer to our true nature.  That is the path to enlightenment.  Every time we act like a buddha, we became the buddha.  The buddha lives in us.

Take care, Geerish.

What to do when your life falls apart?

Impermanence

Nothing lasts.  If you are feeling joyful today, it won’t last.  If you are unhappy, it won’t last too.  So don’t get carried away when you are happy and don’t be dragged in the mud when life kicks you around.  However, when you are in the gutter, at the back of your mind, you need to keep telling yourself that this won’t last.  I will be back from it stronger, faster, and wiser.  Life can break me, and it can either leave a mark of victory or defeat.  I choose how the scar will appear on my skin.

8 Worldly concerns

As per Buddhism, we are affected by the 8 worldly concerns. We are constantly dragged by opposite forces, and we should be aware and be wise to stay in the middle of them.  What are they?

Happiness and suffering

The problem is that we always want to be happy and never want to suffer.   Life doesn’t work like this, and you get both along the way.  However, if you act in unhealthy ways, you mostly get suffering.  Hence, choose wisely how you act. It’s true that life is impermanent but it shouldn’t make us life in a less responsible way as this will lead to disaster too. We should realize that each action has its effects on our lives.

Fame and Insignificance

We want people to love us and sometimes we act in ways or say things so that we get appreciated and are drawn by fame.  We also don’t want to live an insignificant life and sometimes end up chasing more and more objects, wealth, and other material things to be significant without these necessarily bringing true significance to our lives.

Praise and Blame

We crave for praises and don’t want to get blamed for mistakes we do.  Getting praised isn’t a bad thing if we are doing something good.  However, a fake mechanism may be created where we praise someone to get praised back.  I please your ego so that you please mine. We need to be very aware of that and we need to own our mistakes so that we learn and grow out of them.

Gain and Loss

We want to get more and more things to feel more valuable, significant, important, and so on.  We don’t want to lose things as we will feel less significant.  Ultimately, life works in such a way that we lose and gain things regularly.  It’s an ever-ending loop which we must accept.

Perception

You can choose to have the observer approach where you observe what is happening both inside and outside of you and make the best decisions for you and others. Otherwise, you can think that everything is happening to you and choose to be the victim.  We should be wise and choose a framework for seeing the world which is beneficial to us and others.

Attachment and letting go

We cling to things, moments, or people because they give us a sense of comfort, importance, and stability.  However, in a world of impermanence, attachment is an illusion.

Fantasy and Responsibility

We expect things to be in a certain way.  We expect people to behave in a certain way and we expect something, or someone will come into our lives and make things better.  Nothing of that sort will happen and it’s just another illusion in our minds.  We need to take full responsibility and do our very best with what life throws at us, whether good or bad.  It’s our life and we need to accept it fully in all its forms.

Joy in misery

While fighting demons, you can become one.  Just like in the dark knight it’s mentioned that you either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.  This is a warning that being exposed to the harshness of life for too long may make us become the villain as it’s very easy to give up and become the very thing you hate because you see no hope.  One way of cruising through misery is having a sense of humor.  So, laugh at your misery.  Laugh at yourself.  If you can laugh at what happens to you, you will be able to bear the pain more and uplift others.

Wishing you strength and resilience,

Geerish.

Betrayal and Heartbreak

Betrayal is inevitable as we open ourselves to life experiences.  It’s perhaps a topic we’d not like to talk about because it involves so much pain, confusion and at times resentment towards the other person and ourselves.  Betrayal can happen in many different contexts.  It can be in a romantic relationship, between friends and at work as well.  I am lucky to have experienced it in all the three spheres of life.  It’s not to be taken lightly as it can be destabilizing and can cause serious long-term trauma.  In Dante’s Inferno which is about the nine circles of torment located within earth, Treachery was the highest in the hierarchy of hell.  Hence, it’s the worst thing to happen to us, humans.  I must admit, from personal experience that between chronic illness and a heartbreak, there’s not much difference.

A quick Fact about relationships

Most relationships break up between 3 to 5 months from the day they begin.  This is because the chemical disbalance in the brain wears out over time and the two people start to see each other as they truly are.  Hence, if your heartbreak fits this time frame, get over it.  It was a fantasy even if the pain is real.

Some stats on heartbreak

39% of people in the US and 33% of people in the UK have experienced a heartbreak.  Emotional pain for Women: Men is 6.84:6.58 and Physical pain for Women: Men is 4.21:3.75.This means that Women feel more Emotional and Physical pain during a break up.  According to Craig Morris, research associate from Binghamton University, women recover fully and come out stronger emotionally while men never fully recover.  Women usually have a bigger support network and they can easily find a shoulder to cry on and come back to reality.  Men are supposed to suck it up and the survey showed that most men cope by being at the Pub or partying and never really face what happened and come in terms with reality.

Facing reality through self-reflection

I never develop resentment towards people because I am highly critical to me.  I think everything is my fault.  This helped me to develop a thick skin and face parts of us we’d be afraid of exploring.  I have created some questions which will be helpful to you as you get over this difficult phase of your life.  First, it’s important to be grounded before we do this exercise.  Some breathing technique which slows us down and help us see things from a detached manner as an observer is very important here.

Make a list of the most painful episodes you have lived.

  1.  Explore your vulnerabilities.  Why have you suffered?
  2. What illusions about life and people have you lost?
  3. What knowledge about life or people have you gained?
  4. What knowledge have you gained which will replace the illusion?
  5. How can I make this knowledge useful so that it prepares me for the future?

I have also created a series of podcasts on this theme which can be found here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HnvbkL93Nrk&t=3s

I hope that you found this useful.

Take care,

Geerish.

The 10 rules of existentialism

1. Minimalism

We have limited time, energy and concentration. Hence, it’s important to have few targets and focus on them with all our energy. Having a minimalist approach also works against the tendency to acquire things needlessly. We tend to think that we need more and more to be happy, safe, and fulfilled. However, we do not need to have a lot. All we need is enough money to survive, enough people in our lives who we can call friends and enough passion to make our lives worthwhile.

2. Authenticity

It takes a lot of courage to live a life you’d value. What we truly value may be against society, our families or society. However, lying to oneself and living for others will be like cheating ourselves and we’d not be happy. Ideally, we’d want to live a life which is correct for others and us. A life which is good for us end up affecting others also in a good way because others and we form part of the same system. Therefore, being at your best is good for everyone. From a Buddhist point of view too, others and we are just one. Improving oneself improves everything around us.

3. Look for wisdom and not Knowledge

Knowledge is what we acquire from reading while wisdom is what we obtain from living life experiences and learning from those experiences. To learn from life, we need to expose ourselves to experiences. Thus, it’s important to take risks, try new things and learn at the expense of failing at times. At some point, we need to enjoy the process of learning. We need to relish the challenges, pain and suffering which accompany the process as well.

4. Put your will into things.

There are people who believe in destiny, God or some other powers out there who will take care of us. Existentialists take full responsibility of their lives. They have the will to work hard and take full responsibility of what they do and their consequences. Existentialists take full responsibility of their lives.

5. Love your destiny.

Nietzsche mentioned the term Amor Fati which means “Love your faith.” It means to accept your destiny fully and not to complain about things in your life. From a zen perspective, real power lies in fully accepting both the good and bad of lives. We should live our life in such a way that we’d want to live it repeatedly if we had the opportunity to do so. This is setting a very high standard about the kind of life we are living. This is setting a very high standard about the kind of life we are living.

6. Don’t fear failure.

Let failure burn us into ashes and let us be reborn like the phoenix. We need to view our greatest failures as opportunities to kill ourselves and be reborn from such experiences. We need to find meaning in our suffering. The weak lets himself drowns in their suffering. We are not weak. Look at your oppressor in the eye and say I am waiting for you.

7. Always speak your truth.

Every time you don’t speak the truth. You die. You die as you think your input isn’t valuable and not worth it. Standing for your truth isn’t always comfortable, but it’s what makes you feel alive. Speak about what you think is real. It gives another energy to your actions.

8. Stay connected to nature.

Fresh air, exercise and being out is good for the body and mind. Make it a priority to exercise daily.

9. Be Pragmatic

Learn from experience and always sacrifice your little ego for wisdom, experience, and the quest for the bigger truth. You don’t need to win arguments. You need to look for the truth and try to always look at things from all angles to have a wholesome perspective on things. Don’t think that you are the centre of the universe, and everything is just happening to you. You are dust. Give yourself to the universe and rise.

10. Be a superhuman

In your mind, you should be more than just a man. You should strive to see beyond your weaknesses, emotions, and limits of being a human. You have the power to turn your setbacks into learning experiences. You have the power to take your worst feelings and turn them into fuel to propel you to your better life. You are the master of your destiny. Rise.

Will to Power, Discipline and the Shadow

If there’s one thing I have learnt from illness, betrayal and backstabbing or even heart stabbing, it’s that we must do it on our own.  In my darkest moments battling epilepsy or collecting the naïve parts of myself which people destroyed, I realized one thing.  There was a fierce power inside of me which was just waiting to be unleashed.  Nietzsche called it the “will power” while Carl Jung named it the shadow.  Jordan Peterson usually talks about incorporating the shadow to one’s persona to have full control over one’s abilities.  In the next two paragraphs, I will elaborate on the will to power and the shadow from my perspective and experience.

The will to power

The only way to become strong is by overcoming adversity.  Just like a muscle needs tension to develop, we need challenges to develop creativity, new skills and become useful for ourselves and our community.  However, I often get asked about how to awaken the willingness in us.  I usually think of two things.  One is how much better my life will be if I do the things which are right for me, and I attain my targets.  The second visualisation exercise I do is thinking about the most terrible things that happened to me and get pumped enough to not face such moments again.  No one wants to be in a hole and we have to behave in such a way that we are not pushed there.

Everything is in the mindset and the mindset is something constantly evolving.  We just need to make sure that it’s evolving in a way which is healthy to us and everyone around us.  Nietzsche described the will to power as the ability to overcome, grow, explore, and expand.  Hence, if we want to really grow and stretch ourselves, we should be willing to take risks, bite the dust at times, face our inner demons and face the judgements of others when we fail.  Hence, a good dose of courage is important if we really want to become the better version of ourselves.  Courage doesn’t mean not to fear.  It means to see through the fears and sometimes embody the fear and move forward with it.  One can think about Batman who takes his worst fear, the fear of bats and embodies it to become a fearless creature.

Discipline is important to build that kind of mindset.  When one lacks self-discipline, one gets carried away by one’s emotions and one becomes easily manipulated by others.  My zen background made me realize a long time ago that the discipline starts with oneself, by becoming aware of us and conducting ourselves in a way that is healthy for ourselves and others.  There are two alternatives to life.  One is having a slave morality where you doubt yourself and end up living a shadow life.  The other mentality to have is to have clear goals, be very critical about the way we conduct ourselves and to obey our gut feelings and deepest ideals which are buried deep inside of us.

The shadow self

When I was low in my life, I remember consciously trying to bring back or wake up something mighty, relentless that has no pity in me to break the weak part of myself.  When I look back now, I can honestly say that I hated certain parts of myself, especially the naïve parts of me which were exploited throughout my lifetime. In that sense, I can say that even hate is extremely powerful in unleashing our true power.  It really is.  We tend to view emotions in a divisive way, but I think that each emotion carries a unique possibility for growth in a way. The bravest things I have ever done were the ones done during the time of adversity. How can I really explain its power?  Let’s say, someone stabs a knife in your heart.  You’d look in the person’s eye and say go deeper.  We all have that kind of power in us if we really let that shadow manifest itself and fully tame it in a way that it becomes a watchful protector in us.  Nietzsche tells a story which I think points to the shadow and how it can manifest and destroy our weak interior to unleash the Overman like he really likes to call it.  Here is a text below that describes the process in a story.

The sage, assuming that the snake must have crawled into the young man’s mouth while he lay sleeping, runs to his help and pulls at the loathsome reptile with all his might, but in vain. At last, in despair, Zarathustra appeals to the young man’s will. Knowing full well what a ghastly operation he is recommending, he nevertheless cries, “Bite! Bite! Its head off! Bite!” as the only possible solution of the difficulty. The young shepherd bites, and far away he spits the snake’s head, whereupon he rises, “No longer shepherd, no longer man–a transfigured being, a light-surrounded being, that LAUGHED! Never on earth laughed a man as he laughed!”

NOTES ON “THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA” 

In my experience, it takes a lot of training, fear of the unknown and experimentation to fully embody the shadow.  However, in this cruel world, life will always throw things which will require us to manifest this side of us so that we can be strong enough and survive this life which is good at times but also bad at other times.

Lots of love,

Geerish.

The power of thoughts

All our actions are a result of our thoughts. All the pain or gain we feel is also dependent on the kind of thoughts we have in our minds. We can view thoughts as skillful or unskillful thoughts. Skillful thoughts are thoughts which create generosity and kindness in us while unskillful thoughts are driven by senses, desires, pleasure or anger. To live a healthy life we need to become aware of such thoughts and maximize/optimize the skillful ones and minimize the unskillful ones.

However, the struggle at least for me at times is the repetitive/obsessive thoughts I have in my mind. How can we deal with such thoughts? First, we have to look at the origin of thoughts. Where do they come from? Basically, our sense organs come into contact with things or people and it’s either a pleasant, unpleasant or a neutral experience.

Buddha’s idea was as follows: “What you feel, you perceive”. He viewed perception and feeling as two separate things and interestingly, feeling came before perception. No one would view it in this order but it makes sense. For example, if I have feelings of love towards someone, my perception of that person would be that the person is the most wonderful creature on the planet. Humans develop the same kind of perception for their cars or pets as well. While this seems to be a beautiful and romantic way of looking at it, we can realize how our perception of reality in terms of cultures, racism and many other things can be a result of this mechanism. So, we need to be very aware of this process.

We can’t control our feelings as they are automatic. The feelings are not the problem. The problem lies in the craving for the pleasant feelings and a rejection of the unpleasant feelings. This rejection for the unpleasant feelings is actually ego driven as we want to feel good. This is not wrong to be honest but if such thoughts become obsessive, our thinking gets distorted and we may ruin our own health or affect adversely our surroundings and loved ones.

What is the real problem and what do we do?

The problem is that we think of people or things as having the potential of giving us permanent happiness. We give them too much weight and this makes us obsess about it thinking we may get happiness. This is what Samsara is. There are three truths which Buddhist guys like me run in our heads the whole time. They are: Impermanence, unhappiness and No self.

Now that I have broken your optimism, what can we really do? There are three things which I practise and which help me get up everyday in the Samsaric world. The first one is meditation itself. Dedicated practice everyday where I observe my thoughts with detachment is the most important and powerful activity of my day and life. Second, is ethical living. Giving our life meaning through an exemplary conduct, loving kindness and deepest respect for everything and everyone around us makes life worth living. The third one is about being true to oneself. Living a life which is not fully ours makes us bitter towards ourselves and others. Hence, behaving in a way which is true and unique to ourselves is painful in the short term as you will end up being judged and rejected at times. However, it’s really rewarding in the long run when you start shining being yourself.

Deep bows and Unconditional love,

Geerish.

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