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Mindful shopping

Unable to resolve my love of shoes (which are almost all leather) and my repulsion of the destruction caused by the leather industry, I had to think pretty hard. It just occurred to me that when I buy leather shoes from GoodWill I just paid a company to keep them out of the landfill (not to mention all the other great things that company does which I like to support). When I buy leather shoes from a new-stuff store, I pay the company that will order the replacement (indirectly, asking someone to go kill another cow please and pour the dyes and other toxic water chemical treatments into our water supply; and god knows all the effects on all the people involved). I don’t like the idea of paying someone to live a life of killing animals; or to help create a world of living among the carcasses (ie., you can see youtubes of discarded skins piled along side the Ganges). Still I am very attached to what I am used to. Although I haven’t eaten cow since the 1980’s, etc. I have a very long way to go.

On a different mindful shopping experience:

I just bought a 1968 Raleigh, made in England. It is, IMO, a thing of beauty. Built from a strong heritage of dependance on the bike as the main mode of transportation, the way it rides is like a sculpted extension of the body. The bike store successfully kept these out of the landfill. The salesperson mentioned, it isn’t another mass produced item just shipped across the world, it has been giving rides for decades now. No mistaking, I am a big fan of genius green manufacturing processes when they happens; reinventing that wheel can be one of the greatest ways to help the environment.

I looked at the long lines of new bikes also in the store; so many emblazoned with large, loud, brave fonts and there was my black, elegant, simple, creaky beauty. Too bad I did have to listen to the salesperson who had taken the time to listen to me; I didn’t know before I arrived how much pleasure this old thing would bring me.

How many discoveries are out there waiting for us to take the time to listen, think and see? So many thanks to Thich Nhat Hanh for saying, all the conditions for happiness are right here in this precious moment. We can for example, think of the eyes. We can see how lucky we are to have eyes that work. And like an xray we can use the ray of mindfulness to go through the entire body that way.

In those moments we escape feeling we need anything else, we see all that we already have is more than enough. When we don’t escape that we can still apply mindfulness to shopping. We can discover how things are made that we find joy in and we can make mindful choices. Even if all we do is read amazon reviewers we can see more than what the marketer wants us to see. We can think outside this box. Maybe we can get outside the box altogether and just recycle it! LOL


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In what experiences do you have patience? What steals it away? When wanting mind becomes so strong it can mean we miss seeing that on the way to getting what we want we got lots of what we didn’t want. We can create all these unnecessary and unwanted experiences in the veracious grasping and clinging to getting something we want. If we just want it a little, we can see, oh there is all this about the way in which we are getting there…that is the patience, noticing all the stuff about the way we get there and caring for that too.

I think during in-patience we stop seeing the moment we’re helping create on the way. I think it happens when we are wanting something so badly that it makes us blind.

That blindness is a pretty uncomfortable because of the tension that you could fall into a pot hole at any moment. When we are just plainly seeing what is, there is security in that and that feels very good. Even if what we are seeing isn’t pleasing, we know it’s temporary. Seeing what is, also means seeing it is all temporary. How can we cling so hard to what is fleeting? There is the notion that there is nothing to hold on to.

If we can get familiar with all the moments we have of wishlessness or patience, it to helps us recreate them. I think patience happens when we have this deep sense of no where to be, no where to go. Like in that moment we don’t have to be a movie star. We can still work hard for that just not that we HAVE to be that or ELSE.

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Art of Disappearing – Ajahn Brahm

Just finished one of Ajahn Brahm‘s books, the Art of Disappearing, and since I keep thinking about it and I have a chance to toss some quick notes (mostly quotes from the book) here, voila:

“We expect and ask impossible things from this world”

“By practicing and deepening your meditation, stage by stage, your sense of self, your ego, starts to vanish…monastic life is set up for you to disappear..And as you practice your meditation, you see that when even a little bit of you disappears, you have more peace, freedom, and joy.”

“In meditation, when things get still, they disappear.”

“…it’s useful to practice skillful means like anatta-sanna, or nonself perception. It’s very clear in the suttas that there’s no such thing as a self; indeed, that’s basic Buddhism. In scientific journals, too, psychologists tell you that there’s no self; it’s just a construct…It follows that an arahant gets into jhana very easily and that even the anagami, a nonreturner, does so without problems or difficulties.”

Wikipedia has a neat entry on anatta-sanna, here is a small part, “If the word “soul” refers to a non-bodily component in a person that can continue in some way after death, then Buddhism does not deny the existence of a soul.[4] In fact, persons (Pāli: puggala; Sanskrit, pudgala) are said to be characterized by an ever-evolving consciousness (Pali: samvattanika viññana),[5][6] stream of consciousness (Pali: viññana sotam;[7] Sanskrit: vijñana srotām), or mind-continuity (Sanskrit: citta-saṃtāna) which, upon the death or dissolution of the aggregates (skandhas), becomes one of the contributing causes for the arising of a new group of skandhas. However, Buddhism denies the existence of a permanent or static entity that remains constant behind the changing bodily and non-bodily components of a living being. Reportedly, the Buddha reprimanded a disciple who thought that in the process of rebirth the same consciousness is reborn without change.[8] Just as the body changes from moment to moment, so thoughts come and go; and according to the anattā doctrine, there is no permanent conscious substance that experiences these thoughts, as in Cartesianism: rather, conscious thoughts simply arise and perish with no “thinker” behind them.[9] When the body dies, the incorporeal mental processes continue and are reborn in a new body.[4] Because the mental processes are constantly changing, the new being is neither exactly the same as, nor completely different from, the being that died.[10]…Neuroscientists and philosophers of conscious have started incorporating the notion that there is no self in to current theory with Daniel Dennett being a well known advocate of this position in his theory of consciousness.”

This one is taking some thinking for me. I am thinking are we all like a part of an ocean, the waves are showing up and changing constantly and everything being a part of everything (literally we are all a swarm of molecules and energy) there is no one separate self.

“You just watch and gather the data…We all have our escape strategies. But remember: when you use those escapes, you’re not learning anymore; you’re just wasting time. It’s important to observe your reactions to things. This practice is wise in itself, and it develops further wisdom; it helps you go far deeper in your meditation. Whenever anything comes up that is unsatisfactory – that’s when you observe…and gather data because you want to understand…to learn from your experiences…Here is the data for insight, the dung for your garden…you don’t own them. You don’t escape from suffering on a retreat; you face it and disengage from it.”

“Be with [frustration] for a long, long time, until you know it thoroughly. When you do, you become free from it.”

I think it’s important to add you are doing that with a lot of compassion and non-judging.

“Always remember that it’s not that you can do it [meditate]; it’s that you aren’t getting in the way. The process happens when “you” disappear. When you’re demanding, you are there. When you have ill will, you are there. When you have craving, you are there. When you have boredom, you are there. All these things create a sense of self that thinks it owns thing and gets involved. You are the problem. And you can’t just go somewhere else: wherever you go , you take you with you. So everyone should disrobe: take off the “I-garment.” That which you take yourself to be, that sense of self, should leave and vanish. When the sense of you disappears, there’s no ill will or desire, because they’re part of the ego and the illusion of self. Then there can only be contentment and peace.”

“When you see clearly, you stop expecting things from life that it will never be able to give. That’s my definition of suffering: expecting from life what it can never provide. If you want too much from life, you suffer. You create that suffering with your expectation. When you understand the limitations of life and the limitations of your abilities, you know that all you can do is try your best to be helpful and not harm others. But even with the best of intentions, sometimes you won’t succeed. That’s life; you can’t do anything about it. A wise sensitivity to the world around you comes from seeing things as they truly are-seeing that the nature of the jungle is harm and suffering. Right now, we all have old age, sickness, and death latent in our bodies. This is the nature of our bodies. ”

“The Buddha said that the amount of tears you’ve cried is more than all the oceans of the world (SN 15:3). You’ve died so many times that if you piled up all your bones, the heap would be greater than a mountain (SN 15:10)…Fortunately, there’s a way out…”

There is a concept in Buddhism that your consciousness can be released after the body dies and not return to a new body, instead stay out of the cycle of samsara and move into a great and beautiful other realm.

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Thich Nhat Hanh playlist

I created this play list via Youtube of my favorite of his talks.  At about 33 minutes of the one titled Awakening the Heart, he describes how the tops of the trees blowing in a huge storm (look like the tree will fall) are like the mind in a strong emotion (like anger or fear); the base of the tree (look like the tree will stand strong deeply rooted) are like the abdominal area where you have deep breath. When in the middle of a strong emotion if you can bring awareness to your deep breath it transforms your experience. The emotion doesn’t last no matter what you do, if you do a mindfulness practice in that moment or not. He relates the concern about youth suicide and people losing themselves to an overwhleming emotion. Learning and practicing coming back to breath can save people from so much needless pain (the 2nd arrow). It is a great talk. The other two are shorter and also great. Please enjoy them. We are so lucky to have the chance to listen to talks on Youtube.


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Brooks Palmer Clutter Busting with Mindfulness and Compassion

Brooks has been meditating for many years. His books have mindfulness all through them. He inspires you to see what your feeling tone is and what your stories are about your stuff – this clear seeing and compassionate approach takes you from where you are and creates empty new fresh spaces for the actual you to be in. He inspired so many old me’s and old stories about me to walk out the door (with the stuff going to goodwill). The stuff was holding the old stories that I had to realize just weren’t me anymore. Immediately the actual me had more room to be. His books are truly amazing. We are so lucky he picked this to do. I am so grateful for his approach and his work. Also enjoy his blog.

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loka samasta sukhino bhavantu

Nearing my 400th yoga class now, I have fallen in love with this song often played by various teachers at the studio. Translation: May all beings (Loka) everywhere (Samasta) be happy (Sukhino) and free (Bhavantu) .

Here it is as sung by Girish.


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Ending Conflict talk by Ajahn Brahm

Another excellent talk of his posted on youtube. He is not talking about bullying or worse, he is talking about general disagreements where people need to find a way to work together and get past things. I don’t want anyone to think its about staying in abusive situations, get out of those. I embedded it below my notes, quotes:

You have to know where someone is coming from to really empathize with them to respect your enemy. We have to meet with people we disagree with. And allow that disagreement to occur. And to realize the only way we can have peace and harmony, is to say yes disagreements are there but that is perfect to have disagreements. Because if you think they shouldn’t be there then conflict will always be there.

Unfortunately in the western world we have this terrible concept of justice which is revenge; an eye for an eye; seeking revenge and to punish. In Buddhism the focus is acknowledge you made a mistake, give forgivenss and strategies to work with to keep it from happening again. Punishment creates more conflict. If you’re a Buddhist karma will resolve it. No one gets away with anything there is always a sort of natural justice. That gives of the freedom to forgive and not to need to punish. Otherwise conflicts will never end if we think that the opponent has not been punished enough yet.

Instead Buddhism focuses on what strategies will work so that it will never happen again. Reordering priorities. Standing back and thinking what is really important. Being right is not that important, justice is not that important. Then conflict can be ended. Mostly they are based on ego: I am right. Ajahn encourages people to disagree with him so it can be worked through. “That would be terrible if people always agreed with me, that would be like a cult…if you don’t disagree with me I will get very upset, but not too much please.” LOL

Its not about you, its not about someone else, its about us. Change your priorities and you end conflict. Whose right whose wrong matters is the focus. We’re all always halfway in between somewhere of right and wrong. When we change the priorities where peace and harmony matter more than who is right in that moment, we end conflict.

Don’t keep bringing it up, let grass grow over it. Forgive. Let the us be bigger than the: I am right. The best result is that the “us” is healthy and strong. Let all that pain of the past go. Sometimes people send Ajahn complaints; he deletes those; he keeps the kind ones. Why not? It encourages him to do more.

He tells the story about a broken motor on a boat that is way out to sea. In the stress two people repairing the engine get in such a terrible fight one of them says I am leaving, literally packs their bag and shows up on deck. Realizing the idiocy of it through his rage. He goes back to work on the engine. There is no escape for us right away sometimes.

We realize that blame doesn’t really help at all. Its all about us, the big us that is important. Get those priorities right and we can have a very peaceful world. Don’t give up hope there is a path there is a way. Focus on the beautiful stuff, that is actually much bigger. Someone gets angry with you that is a short time, compared to the many times that it worked out. Two bad bricks is not reason enough to destroy a wall. We let that go.

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