Posts Tagged thought

LA FItness: The Real Weight Loss Program



I have found that going to the gym is a great place to observe the self.

Liberation is the realization that what we are depends on absolutely no thought. We see that what is true for ourselves is true for everything in the universe. Before thought, things are. Thought is, always, a secondary happening. Nothing wrong with that, but it is never the thing itself. It is a form of reflection of what is.

But normally, life is far from so straightforward.

Let’s see what happens at the gym.

I hate the gym. I hate the gym because I would prefer to do anything else but to exercise mechanically. So when I go to the gym I immediately get consumed by purpose, so I can get something out of this painful experience. I’m doing what I hate to burn calories, to get more fit, and to look better. The elliptical machine provides me with feedback about some of my purposes. It tells me how many calories I’ve burned, how “far” I would have travelled, and how long I’ve been working out.

As I observe all of these values, I can see that what I’m really doing is “measurement”. This is such an important word. I am busy evaluating my “progress”. Measurement is the religion of the ego.

Measurement, when applied to an achieving or declining self is the very model of separation (duality). On one side is ME who needs to be thinner and more fit and on the other is the drudgery of exercise that is intended to provide me with these tenuous rewards (they might also kill me).

In the process I assert a personal me with its given assessment, as well as the projected, much better me who is slimmer and in better physical condition.

My contempt of exercise brings all of these issues of ego to clear focus. It is really a beautiful example of “life as suffering” (Buddha’s first noble truth). Everything is a mental projection based on other mental projections. So not only is it largely fantasy, but its filled with arbitrary personal identification. My value as a human being is on the line. I am, in effect, split into three discrete entities. The current overweight me – the projected less heavy me – and the internal evaluator that is ceaselessly evaluating my self-improvement. It is, entirely, a thought based construct. Can it get more brutal and ridiculous than that?

Now let’s contrast that level of consciousness with that of just seeing.

When everything is seen without value or purpose or even recognition – which is to say, when everything is seen without the thick haze of personal conditioning, then a wonderful lightness fills the experience. There is just movement, color, physical strain, a sense of the body, sound, etc. Everything is exactly as it is. Everything is embodied in the perfect trust in this moment. Because only a thought could distrust this moment and that too can be seen. I can’t tell you what a wonderful feeling this is. The instant we can disengage from the plodding narrative of the personal me, life lived as thought, which is totally a head-trip in the first place, we experience immediate liberation.

Here’s the key: when we are personally identified with our conditioned sense of self, there is the birth of a million stories. Over time we get really, really familiar with these stories. They get monotonous and predictable. And finally, they just run out of gas. We stop believing them and as we stop believing them, we stop believing in the story-teller. It all just starts running out of gas. When that happens, and it eventually will, the whole edifice of the personal self just collapses all on its own. As we merge into presence, the heaviness of the personal self becomes lighter (and sometimes it contracts and becomes heavier than ever) … and then, one day, … it just crumbles.

This is the one weight loss program LA Fitness cannot claim – but you can.


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Let’s Relax and Touch the Mysterious


If Awakening has an enemy (and it doesn’t), it is the energy of contraction. What we are is this moment full and allowing without limit. But then we notice another energy, one that is effortlessly linked to the separate “I/me”, it is likely to be the energy of attention (not awareness, which is holds attention).

Things call to us. They demand our attention. This is natural to life. But I’ve noticed that the energy of attention links back to the idea of a separate “I/me”. I am reading this blog, I am focusing on this report, I need to attend to my partner’s needs, etc.

So the question becomes, why is this so? The conditioned self is a direct function of our individual and unique socialization. This process is as real as anything else in our universe. But our pain and suffering, that which is psychologically rooted, is a direct consequence of our family’s and culture’s projection of inadequacy and insufficiency onto us, which we began to absorb even before we could verbalize the experience.

Once we agree with this projection, it becomes who we believe ourselves to be. So begins the life of endless seeking.

For this reason we become hard workers. We try to figure all of this out. We seek pleasant mind states to avoid the pain, We work to become better. It’s important to be heard, to be respected, to prevail in life. We work and work and work. So much of the attention energy circulates around this identification with inadequacy.

Like EVERYTHING else in the universe, every quality is dialectical (it comes in two flavors). There is attention rooted in open love and there is attention rooted in our struggle with inadequacy/insufficiency. All of this can be seen as the interplay of light and dark in our lives.

Rather than work, yet again, on this “problem”, is it possible to just see and experience this without seeking any mind state from the process – without seeking any outcome – without wanting any understanding? Just letting it be as it needs to be?

This calls on us to just relax in this moment, then watch that same inadequacy contraction arising, then we might ask ourselves, what is the beauty of this moment? What if I just love this fragile inadequacy? … What if, I cease being the harsh parent? … What if I see the lost child in this experience? … What if I just reach out and touch this feeling?


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Let's Relax and Touch the Mysterious


If Awakening has an enemy (and it doesn’t), it is the energy of contraction. What we are is this moment full and allowing without limit. But then we notice another energy, one that is effortlessly linked to the separate “I/me”, it is likely to be the energy of attention (not awareness, which is holds attention).

Things call to us. They demand our attention. This is natural to life. But I’ve noticed that the energy of attention links back to the idea of a separate “I/me”. I am reading this blog, I am focusing on this report, I need to attend to my partner’s needs, etc.

So the question becomes, why is this so? The conditioned self is a direct function of our individual and unique socialization. This process is as real as anything else in our universe. But our pain and suffering, that which is psychologically rooted, is a direct consequence of our family’s and culture’s projection of inadequacy and insufficiency onto us, which we began to absorb even before we could verbalize the experience.

Once we agree with this projection, it becomes who we believe ourselves to be. So begins the life of endless seeking.

For this reason we become hard workers. We try to figure all of this out. We seek pleasant mind states to avoid the pain, We work to become better. It’s important to be heard, to be respected, to prevail in life. We work and work and work. So much of the attention energy circulates around this identification with inadequacy.

Like EVERYTHING else in the universe, every quality is dialectical (it comes in two flavors). There is attention rooted in open love and there is attention rooted in our struggle with inadequacy/insufficiency. All of this can be seen as the interplay of light and dark in our lives.

Rather than work, yet again, on this “problem”, is it possible to just see and experience this without seeking any mind state from the process – without seeking any outcome – without wanting any understanding? Just letting it be as it needs to be?

This calls on us to just relax in this moment, then watch that same inadequacy contraction arising, then we might ask ourselves, what is the beauty of this moment? What if I just love this fragile inadequacy? … What if, I cease being the harsh parent? … What if I see the lost child in this experience? … What if I just reach out and touch this feeling?


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The Fatal Flaw: The Problem with Eastern Spiritual Philosophy – Part 1 of 3


It’s time to move on from what is simply false in Eastern philosophy (Buddhism, Advaita/nonduality, and some Taoism). Jesus said the truth will set you free and the whole purpose of this blog is to identify the false, so that the ineffable truth of being and life can shine forth.

1. The basic tenant of Eastern spiritual philosophy is that we are not our thoughts and feelings. We are, therefore, not who we “think” we are. So far, so good.

2. Our thoughts and feelings change, but, as these philosophies point out, there is a part of us that doesn’t change. This part is that presence that observes our passing thoughts and feelings. We are, they say, this changeless entity. Now we’re getting on some shaky ground, but let’s continue.

3. This presence, which is our true self is separate from the body/mind. It is neither born nor will it ever die. It is eternal consciousness. Here the philosophies collapse. I will try to show this below.

My experience shows that Point 1 is partly correct. Clearly, we are not our thoughts. Our thoughts, do, indeed, change. One day we “think” we love our wife/husband, then something happens and then we discover to our shame and disbelief that we now are not the one who loves this wife/husband. Life has changed completely. But we can also observe that some of our thoughts change constantly, other thoughts change only occasionally, and still others are nearly constant in our life. Within this array of change, we can detect patterns of thought and feeling. These patterns suggest an individuality that is, in fact, real. For example, I know that I love to explore issues, that with all my heart and soul I stand up for those who have been victims of unjustice, I love the music of Brahms and Mozart, etc.

Our Eastern Philosopher will say that my seemingly consistent thoughts/feelings are merely an outcome of my conditioning. They are “mere” appearances on the utterly changeless and characterless ground of being. They will further assert that this is not a theory, but the the outcome of direct experience, it is therefore not an issue of philosophy, but of direct experience. I can respond that the same is true for me. I am able to employ the power of presence, that power that is central to Eastern spiritual tradition (EST), to detect and identify these patterns. I can, therefore, make the same experiential claim. It is something I can directly observe.

But more importantly, I can also experience what is pointed to in EST and assert that the ESTer is drawing a decisive line of separation between “presence” and thought/feeling/experience, in which it is posited that one’s true identity is exclusively on one side of the experiential dimension. Our ESTer posits that Reality is the ground of experience and sensed experience (thoughts/feelings/observations) itself is mere appearance. All objects (thoughts/feelings/sensed objects) are passing and insubstantial. It is highly ironic that a philosophy that eschews separation so depends on this division, that this Maginot Line of separation is posited between one’s true identity and what is mere passing appearance. I can see the mere passing appearance of that tree just outside my window. I can look away and the tree is no longer in view (the tree ceases to exist!), but when I look back – what do I see??? – it’s remarkable, but it appears to be that same tree. Yes, the direction of sunlight might have changed a bit, but I am very sure that it’s the same true – perhaps five seconds older.

Now before moving on, let’s take a deep breath. What is the EST person really doing? Is it not possible that by labeling all sensed objects (thoughts/feelings) as mere passing appearance, he is negating his own role in this sensed life? Consider that possibility. Is this any different from the substance abuser who is also seeking to avoid the challenges of life through booze and drugs? Is this any different from the depressed person who lifts himself out of the anguish of his psychological being by adopting a zealous faith-based attitude on this life? Is this any different from the religious fanatic who believes that this life is just a preparation for the real life that begins at death and he can avoid all of the messiness and unpredictability of everyday life and dream of living an eternity in heaven?

I do not seek to judge the ESTer, but it is possible to detect a pattern in human history that revolves around the negation of everyday life – because life can be challenging, it can be complex, it calls on us to make tough decisions, it brings to light all of the empty faith-based beliefs we might cling to out of fear of the unknown. This is what life is. Wake up to its fantastic messiness. Life calls on us to be challenged. Anyone who has parented a little baby into adulthood knows this is true. Anyone in touch with their heart senses the vapid emptiness of EST.

Welcome to the challenge of your life. Make the best of it, for time is passing.

This is just part one of a three part series. Tomorrow I will comment on Point 2.

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The Gift of Anger


The false self takes control of our life through the vehicle of attaching to selected thoughts. The fear-based thoughts arise in our life in ways that are obvious and ways the are extremely subtle. Since the obvious is obvious, let’s briefly talk about the subtle.

In my own experience the most subtle arousal of the Fear-Self always involves sustaining the belief in a “me”. This me has rights, entitlements, special knowledge, and essential preferences. But, and here’s the important point, it activates each of these thought based centers through its near constant assessment of its environment. Notice how this assessment manifests in your own life. It’s this delicate energy that is evaluating your moment to moment life.

Who is the person who can easily notice this cluster of me based behaviors? THIS is our essential self. It is utterly open to whatever is happening, including this assessing self, all of the time, but it is all but invisible, because on some level we are attaching to a me based thought cluster.

So, when anger happens we can see that it’s based on some thought construct. Life is unfair. I’m never the lucky one. I shouldn’t be treated this way. Everyone deserves respect. There shouldn’t be traffic on this road at this time. This is bullshit. I hate know-it-all people. I like her because she likes me. I like him because he respects me. I like him because he’s smart (his opinions agree with mine). I love my kids because they listen to me. And on and on it goes.

Anger is the conduit revealing the falseness of our me based thoughts. Our ego tells us how fantastic we are and it uses assessment to establish our greatness. When life doesn’t measure up to how we think it should be, anger or disappointment happens. There is absolutely no problem with that. It is exactly how life should be operating and, if anything, we ought to be grateful for life not to be living up to our perfectly honed expectations.

Thus, anger is a gift. Disappointment is a gift. They are gifts that push us to what is true in the moment. We refuse these gifts when we ignore their generosity. We thus resist life and even resist god (if you believe in a deity – I don’t), when you resist your own anger and disappointment.

So next time you get angry or disappointed, stop for a moment and explore what identity your ego is asserting. See what’s happening as what’s happening. See the insanity of the underlying thought pattern. See the suffering instigated by the ego’s demands. See it and the path to a happier you will have begun.

Finally, notice how this deepest, most fundamental you is affected by neither success or failure – good fortune or bad fortune. All such labels are just reference points that originate with the false me.

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The Difference between Awareness and Attention


Nearly every sophisticated (a term I use guardedly) spiritual teaching ultimately refers to our fundamental nature as awareness. In my own experience, this is truth. But a lot of us can get hung up on just what the word means. If identification with awareness were so simple, all of us would be enlightened.

I would suggest that one of the obstacles to understanding what awareness really is lies in how we understand what it means to be aware. We often confuse attention with awareness. How are they different?

Yoyo Ma Focusing

Yoyo Ma Focusing

Every object identified, categorized, and defined by the mind is an example of thought imposing itself onto the world. Anytime we look at a chair and think “chair” we have created not only a separate chair, but we have created separation between the thinker and the thought. This is just what the mind does and there is really not much of a problem with it. It’s just part of life.

The chair is an obvious example. But the act of attention is also thought based. There is a me concentrating his attention on something. Attention includes a thought structure that says that we need to focus on something, usually for some reason. If we are learning a foreign language, we will focus on word lists. If we are listening to some music, we might attend to the guitar. Attention is, therefore, a type of thought. It asserts a “me” attending to “something” for some “purpose”.

Awareness is NOT attention. Attention is included within the field of awareness. Awareness is the “isness” of existence. It is the immediate reflection of our essential nature in moment-to-moment living. This same field includes every object, including the fictional self that “thinks” it is reading this post. Awareness includes anything and everything.

If we are identifying with our attention, we sustain the fiction of our separate self. It is not awakening. It is, rather, another form the self embraces; a role it possesses in everyday life.

Awakening is the full, shining, openness to THIS. It happens prior to any thought. The mind can attend to elements within awareness, but awareness cannot attend to anything within its own field. Its own field is, simultaneously always changing and always staying exactly the same. This is one of the paradoxes of awakening.

When we resist something in our aware field, we experience the pain of the separate self. It’s not a problem and it never will be a problem, when it is seen and experienced with this understanding.

When we see the world – the universe – with all of its qualities (warts and all) as ourselves, then we can respond to our world in a manner that is loving and full of empathy, for we are responding to ourselves.

We are that aware field – as seer and seen. The seer stays the same. The seen is in constant change. Stillness and motion are one.

Attention can rest in awareness and the self can claim a “spiritual victory”. This is a false victory, because we are continuing to identify ourselves with the attending energy. We now can see that is a fiction. It is the small self pretending to be awakened. This is all seen within the field of awareness.

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Invasion of the Body Snatchers – Wake Up Before It’s Too Late!


If we’ve done any Buddhist practice or have been exposed to nonduality philosophy at all, most of us already know that psychological thought is, essentially, garbage. It is the source of all our suffering.

People Still Worship Psychological Thought

People Still Worship Psychological Thought

We know this, but how many people live their lives from this level of understanding?

Here is a trap I have fallen into many times. I start with this understanding, but here’s where the trouble starts. I then seek a thought designed to make this “Now” meaningful or pleasant. In other words, I drift right back to the thought world. I “think” I’m resting in full openness, when, in fact, I’m still seeking good feeling thoughts.

Have you seen this in your own experience?

The key is to see the pattern. It is the weight of many, many years of living life as a habit. It is the shadow of the false self and it is this shadow which darkens nearly every moment of our lives.

Thought makes a commodity out of life. It “feels” so familiar – and it is! The Now is always new and we won’t be able to experience its newness when it is covered over by a grey level of thought. It’s like living life with filthy glasses. This is the thought of “getting something” out of what’s happening. Psychological thought is always of the ego. It’s always on the hunt to get something, anything out of whatever is happening. And, whenever, it is seeking, it is also projecting a better future than any Now.

So to truly live the now, we need to see this “hunting” self as precisely the false self that takes us over.

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Have you seen the movie “Invasion of the Body Snatchers”? In this wonderful film, aliens, in the form of huge seed pods, land on earth with an assigned human to “take over”. When the person falls asleep (see the connection?), the alien form assumes the exact form of the living, feeling human being and takes it over.

Our lives are little different when we are dominated by our psychological thought.

Stop being an alien (“before it’s too late (taken right from the film)) – and rest in the perfect openness that you are.

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