Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Hunyuan Yilu

There are times when words just don't do justice.  Viewing the below video is a good example of one of those times.  This is a great performance.


Nuff Said

Monday, January 14, 2013

Time: Making It, Finding It

How diligent are we?  How often do we set our intention to practice, work on certain skills, begin a new practice, or even read something related to our practice only to never really do it?  It's not as if we set out to deceive ourselves, or to set goals that we know we won't live up to.  It's not uncommon to really mean to do this or that, but never really get around to it.  So, how does that happen?  Really.  What is up with that?

Despite paving the road to hell, and so forth, good intentions do have their place.  And, even though most of us would rather not face up to it, it's really not about time.  Is it?  In so many cases, it's about follow through. It's about discipline.  Further, it's about changing behavior.  And it's about priorities.  One has to get to a place in life where he/she faces the question: What do I want; really want?

We practice these arts because we believe in and want transformation.  And that is of course possible, but we have to do the hard work.  We must have the time.  We have to find it or make it.  The best way to do that is to take a hard look at life.  What do we do with the time we have?  How much of it is spent surfing the internet; playing on Facebook; watching sitcom reruns?  Perhaps we feel we deserve a glass of wine after work, and then we don't really want to practice after having a drink.  Or perhaps we have a hobby that is taking a lot of our time.  Again, ask the question:  What do I really want?

If these arts lead to transformation, and that is what one wants, then one makes the time to practice.  The way to do that is to look.  Look at your priorities.  Look at your current activities.  Look at your practice; maybe it's not the right one for you, or with the right teacher.  Look at the hours in your day and how you spend them.  Look in your heart; determine if you really want to do the hard work, or if it's a romantic dream.  Better, determine if you really want to do this at all.

I am not writing this from a place on high, as one who has conquered these challenges.  I struggle as much as the next guy.  I'm also not saying that my path is the right and only path.  What I am saying is, if you are really interested in these arts and want more from the practice, put more in to the practice.  If at the end of the day, you look back and say "I didn't practice today because I didn't have time.", be honest with yourself.  You will likely get another chance tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Same as It Ever Was

Welcome to 2013.  Now, what to expect?  Probably much the same as 2012, and 1992, and 1962....  I mean that in terms of our actual, internal experience.  While "the world", that that is out there, changes and spins and turns, and rises and falls, "the Self", that that is within, and always has been, always will be, is pretty much the same.  The Self, is unconditioned, eternal, is beyond the grasp of "the world" and all our associated ups and downs.  Thus, if we focus within, we find this rock; we find real peace.

Granted, that is easy to say, another thing altogether to do.  But that is why we practice: to transcend the conditioned and abide in the unconditioned.  We must remember, the unconditioned is and always has been present.  Realization is just a matter of where we attune our awareness.  Do we reside in the world of ups and downs, or a world of rock-solid peace?  Of course, as sentient beings we do  reside in the material world, but the trick, the aim of our practice, is to be in the world and not of the world; to sail through these storms and not be affected.  And that is exactly where practice comes in.

The one notable contradiction I have been struggling with over the last couple of years has been my motivation to write, or perhaps my resistance to writing.  Writing is something that has defined me for some time now--pretty much most of my life.  Upon reflection I realized that that in itself is the problem.  As practice leads us to focus within, we begin to notice conditioning, and how we ourselves contribute to the process.  Writing, as a method of self-definition, is a major ego exercise.  It has taken me a year to come to terms with that statement.  Rather, it has taken me a year to get that statement past the well-honed defenses of my ego.  I am not saying that writing is wrong, or a bad practice.  I am saying that as we progress in our practice we need to examine everything, especially our communication.

Sri Ramana Maharshi was reluctant to speak, even though he had a constant group of followers and devotees surrounding him.  It is said that he could impart much knowledge and understanding just by his presence.  However, there is a time and place for words, and even Ramana would speak when necessary.  And those words have had a profound effect for many, many people.

Which leaves me, as a communicator, in the position to carefully examine the words I use, however I use them.  I am not going to quit writing, or take a vow of silence.  However, I will try to be more mindful of my communication in all forms.

“All this is only activity of the mind. The more you exercise the mind and the more success you have in composing verses the less peace you have. What use is it to acquire such accomplishments if you don’t acquire peace? But if you tell such people this it doesn’t appeal to them; they can’t keep quiet."  Sri Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi