Where Science and Enlightenment Collide

General Spirituality

Never Forget!

teardropsFirstly before I get into today’s post I want to you the reader to know that what I am about to say, although it may ruffle feathers or raise some hackles, this posting comes from a place of love, understanding and compassion towards all life.

Now the topic:

9-11 was tragic indeed! It is important however not to buy into the ‘kool-aid’ certain political groups use to try and fuel the anti-Muslim hatred. 9-11 was done by Muslim terrorists not by Muslims.

A Terrorist
noun
1.the use of violence and threats to intimidate or coerce, especially for political purposes.
2.the state of fear and submission produced by terrorism or terrorization.
3.a terroristic method of governing or of resisting a government.

See how the definition does not bring up a particular faith. It is important to keep in mind that a Terrorist can be of ANY FAITH, yes even CHRISTIAN!

On Wednesday June 8th 2016 Target store in Evanston, Ill.,
The station reports that police are not ruling out the possibility that Wednesday’s attack is somehow connected to the backlash the big-box retailer has faced since affirming in April that transgender customers and employees nationwide can use the store bathroom and changing room that corresponds with their gender identity.

The bombing took place on the same day Target shareholders gathered for their annual meeting, where the company’s trans-affirmative policies were expected to be discussed.

Gary Matson and Winfield Mowder, a gay couple, were murdered on July 1, 1999, by white supremacist brothers Matthew and Tyler Williams in Redding, California. Tyler Williams was sentenced to a minimum of 33 years in prison, to be served after his completion of a 21-year sentence for firebombing synagogues and an abortion clinic. Benjamin Williams claimed that by killing the couple he was “obeying the laws of the Creator”. He committed suicide in 2003 while awaiting trial. Their former pastor described the brothers as “zealous in their faith” but “far from kooks”

These are just two of many many many examples of terrorism committed by white Christian ultra conservatives against American citizens. Terrorism is a world wide epidemic, it is not limited to one faith but it is limited to assholes!

But besides Pearl Harbor, 9-11 is the only attack on US soil conducted by a foreign interest group or government, is what you might hear. Well obviously someone has forgotten the war of 1812!

The Burning of Washington in 1814 was an attack during the War of 1812 between British forces and those of the United States of America. On August 24, 1814, after defeating the Americans at the Battle of Bladensburg, a British force led by Major General Robert Ross occupied Washington, D.C., and set fire to many public buildings, including the White House (known as the Presidential Mansion at the time), and the Capitol, as well as other facilities of the U.S. government.

Where is our War of 1812 day? where is the annual constant reminder to fuel our hatred of Canadians and British? No where, because its not the corporate propaganda to line the pockets of the rich and corrupt.

Please remember all lives lost and remember the true enemy, Avarice, Bigotry, Racism, Hate, Greed, Sexism, and Sexualism! #NeverForget #911 #TheRealEnemy


The Year of Change

16_origThis year has turned out to be the year that everything changes, for everyone I suppose.  Elections and what not here in the United States.  For me however there have been plenty of personal life changes.  For those of you who don’t know I am a disabled Veteran of the United States Army.  That’s right this peace loving hippie was once a soldier *chuckles*.

This year is the year my claim with the VA was finally approved.  Financial situations changed and now I am looking at buying my first house.  As things are pending I find that its a perfect time to let go of material possessions that no longer serve me.  Let go of earthy attachments.  The important lesson I have learned is, as my grandfather would put it, “the sun shines on a dog’s ass once in awhile!”.
According to the teachings of the Buddha, life is comparable to a river. It is a progressive moment, a successive series of different moments, joining together to give the impression of one continuous flow. It moves from cause to cause, effect to effect, one point to another, one state of existence to another, giving an outward impression that it is one continuous and unified movement, where as in reality it is not. The river of yesterday is not the same as the river of today. The river of this moment is not going to be the same as the river of the next moment. So does life. It changes continuously, becomes something or the other from moment to moment.

Even from a scientific point of view this is true. We know cell divisions take place in each living being continuously. Old cells in our bodies die and yield place continuously to the new ones that are forming. Like the waves in a sea, every moment, many thoughts arise and die in each individual . Psychologically and physically he is never the same all the time. Technically speaking, no individual is ever composed of the same amount of energy. Mental stuff and cellular material all the time. He is subject to change and the change is a continuous movement.

So when you find yourself dealing with issues that arise, take comfort in knowing that in this existence, the only thing that is constant is that everything changes at its own pace and in its own time.

Namaste


An Update to Ujjayi Breath

pranayama2I originally had meant to post this weeks ago when I first recieved it from my Yogini, but life events came up and pushed posting this quite a bit.  It was when I was watching, or re watching(again), the show Chuck on Netflix when I came across an episode where Morgan defeated a laser grid using his Yogi skills and Ujjayi breath that I remembered to post!

So to you my readers I give you from my personal Yogini, Ujjayi Pranyama for beginner’s!

Ujjayi: Ud-jaya-ii
Simply put, Ud, when attached to verbs and nouns means upward or superiority in rank, it also means expanding, conveying the sense of pre-emenence and power. Jaya means conquest, victory, triumph or success. Ujjayi is the process in which the lungs are fully expanded and the chest puffed out like a proud conqueror.

Pranayama: Prana-yam
Prana means life-force or personal energy. Yama means distribution of that force or energy.
Prana is the basis of everything. It can be consciously directed to heal and strengthen the body. The breath becomes the Yogi’s key to health, strength, and vitality. Without breath there is no life. This is why, in English, we translate this Sanskrit Ujjayi Pranayama to “Victorious breath”.

We also sometimes hear this victorious breath referred to as “Ocean breath”. As the waves form the beach, so too does the breath form the Yoga practice. Your inner waves set the rhythm. The murmuring of your breath becomes the murmuring of your inner ocean while waves of inhalation flood your inner coast. The rhythmic sound of Ujjayi Pranayama might sound like waves rolling into the shore, which can be wonderful imagery during your practice!

While I joke around about Ujjayi being Darth Vader breath, in fact, it is not at all. Darth Vader wore a life support system that had a respirator and a microphone. We certainly aren’t trying to achieve that! However, the muscles we use in our throat during Ujjayi Pranayama are the same ones we use when practicing our best “Luke, I am your father”. So go ahead and practice that for a moment, and let’s get to it.

  1. 1. Sitting in a comfortable position, preferably Padmasana (lotus pose) or Siddhasana (easy seated pose), keep the back erect and rigid, spine tall and strong. Stretch the arms out in front of you, then relax the back of the wrists onto your knees. Here you can perform Jnana Mudra (seal of knowledge) by gently resting the thumb to the index finger. However, this is not necessary to practice Ujjayi.
  2. 2. Close your eyes and look inward.
  3. 3. Exhale completely.
  4. 4. Take the palm of one hand up to your mouth.  Imagine your hand is a mirror and that you are going to “fog” up with your breath with your mouth open.  When you do this it produces a clean “hollow” sound kind of like “haaaaaaaaaaa” (think Darth Vader).  It feels warm against your skin.

The tricky part is making the same sound on the inhale.  You can hold up a hand in front of your mouth and another at the back of your neck—two mirrors.  Try to fog them both up—the exhale fogs up the front mirror, the inhale the back.

Once you are adept at fogging up the “mirrors”, create the same sound and sensation—by breathing through your nose only.

Breathe in a balanced manner in through the nose and out through the nose.  The inhale and exhale are equal and the quality of sound is even.

Breathing in this way causes a slight constriction of the throat.  The glottis partially closes just like when you whisper speech.  As the air goes in and out it causes a slight “rubbing” sensation of the throat.

Now that you have the feel for the Ujjayi sound, it’s important to add diaphragmatic breathing.

Exhale completely by drawing your abdomen towards your spine.  Inhale by gently releasing the abdomen.  As it goes out it will automatically draw air in.  Start the breath (inhale) as low as you can—the pelvic floor, and fill your entire torso full.  The exhale empties the breath from the top down.

Now add chest breathing.
As you inhale, try to fill your chest.  Notice how all four sides of your torso expand in opposite directions.  You can feel this if you place your hands on the sides of your ribs.  As you exhale the air from the chest, all four sides draw in.

Put the two together.

Exhale by drawing in your abdomen towards your spine.  Inhale by releasing your abdomen.  Air comes in.  Begin the Ujjayi at this time.  Direct the air towards your sternum, as this will expand your chest.  As you continue to inhale fill the air all the way to the top of the chest and notice how it widens.

Exhale by relaxing and drawing the abdomen in.  Breathe the air out slowly and rhythmically finishing the Ujjayi breath.

It is important the abdominals are relaxed and soft above your bellybutton, yet firm (not hard) below it.  This allows your diaphragm to move freely.

The breath is never forced or done using strain.  Both are a sign that you are “pushing” too hard and are moving from a place of ego instead of taking care of yourself.

Work to reduce the amount of effort the Ujjayi takes.  It is a strong, deep breath done in a relaxed, even delicate manner.

Begin with practicing 10 victorious breaths in the morning and night. Increase as you become more comfortable with this style of breathing.

The Upanishads (sacred ancient teachings Yoga derives from) specify that the inhalation should be like drinking water through the stem of a blue water lily—unbroken as though you were drinking through a straw—as if your breath were liquid.  The exhalation is compared to the flow of oil—smooth and uniform as when you poor oil from a ladle.
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika says the breath is felt “from the throat to the heart.”

Ujjayi can be a specific practice but it happens spontaneously when concentration deepens. This is the only pranyama technique that is appropriate to use throughout all area of you yoga practice.

As you become very well rehearsed, to an advanced practitioner of Ujjayi Pranyama, you can begin adding other pranayma techniques as well. Until then, may the force be with you!


Mirror mirror on the status….

mirrorEven as a child I found social interactions confusing, often I would find myself unsure of how to act or react so I would sit quietly watching the interactions of others, often feeling like an outsider to the species (figuratively), if you will.

I have come to the long standing conclusion that often what we fear, what we hate in ourselves is what we hate in others.  I know not a very profound statement considering this has been a belief long held by psychologists.  But even my untrained eye can see what is right in front of it.  I will give an example.

I was following an interaction on a politically fueled discussion in regards to an argument of Liberals vs Conservatives.  It was a short lived argument because the Liberal decided not to engage (something I wish I had the strength of foresight to do often). The Liberal minded person made a statement (something I wont mention because I feel it will distract from the topic at hand), and the conservative persons response was as follows:

“You stupid ‘Libtard’ you are so uneducated are you a high school droup oute, or go to some libtard college?”

And that was where the altercation ended.  I did find it fascinating that the conservative minded person was angry, because they believed that the Liberally minded person was uneducated, yet themselves could not properly use punctuation marks, real words, or correctly spell the most basic of words.  I don’t mention this to insult, I know my own punctuation can be lacking due to thoughts streaming out into posts with little regard to editing,  merely to point out the very thing he hated in the liberally minded person was what was true in his own heart.

I often find myself wondering if those who hate others for other various reasons also do so out of such fears.  Hating those who are homosexual out of fear that they might be homosexual in their own hearts comes to mind.

1. When you catch yourself having a defining thought about someone, step back and ask, “What do I really know about this person?”

Often, the answer is a version of “not very much.” This behavior acts as a pattern interrupt, and forces you to stop and consider where the judgment is coming from.

2. When you hear yourself criticizing someone to others, stop and take a moment to come up with one thing you like about that person. Then praise them, out loud, for that quality.

This is another version of a pattern interrupt, and is also a reminder that they too are human, and like us all, have both attractive and not-so-attractive qualities.

3. When you find yourself in one of those incessant loop thought patterns of judgment about someone else’s behaviors, ask the hard question: Do I myself exhibit this same behavior or attitude that I judge in this person?

Almost always, the answer is yes (not that one always comes to that yes easily). You probably already know that the stuff that irritates us the most about others tends to be attributes we don’t necessarily realize we ourselves have. This was the single most difficult tool I used. It was also probably the most effective.

“Whatever a monk keeps pursuing with his thinking and pondering, that becomes the inclination of his awareness.” -Buddha

“By doing this you are like a man who wants to hit another and picks up a burning ember or excrement in his hand and so first burns himself or makes himself stink.” -Buddhaghosa Visuddhimagga IX, 23.


Advice from a brother in Buddha

Something we can do for our New Year’s eve celebrations suggested by a fellow Buddhist.

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Burning Bowl Ceremony

On New Year’s Eve, get together with some close friends, and write on pieces of paper the things you do not wish to carry with us into the new year.

Then sit around a bowl of fire, and take turns visually letting it all go…. Share some of the challenges out loud with the group, and simply burn other challenges in silent support of one another.

Let go of what’s killing you, even if it’s killing you to let go.. and then you’ll have room in your life for the abundance of love that awaits


Truth…

849c3b75c4dcf7dda97cdccf01b2f9ebOne thing I have learned in life is that truth is always subjective but is often given more weight than fact.  Often we substitute our own personal truths in place of facts, because we cannot often handle them.  Honor the truths of your fellow sentient life form temper your minds with compassion and you will know peace!


Ego monsters rise again!

egoserpentOnce again the ego monster has reared it’s head on the net. People who have not trained under a master, who rely on their own egos corrupt the teachings of the Buddha, to put down or belittle people they feel do not agree with what their egos are telling them. I do not view this as condemnation or judgement, because I feel everyone has their own personal truths, I do however think we all (including myself) need a refresher of some of the Basic tenants of Buddhism.

Zen Teachings & Beliefs

  1. All sentient beings have Buddha-nature.
  2. Knowledge can be acquired from all aspects of life.
  3. Such knowledge helps to achieve enlightenment.
  4. The six paramitas (perfections) are the six principles of enlightened living. They are:
    • Dana paramita: unattached generosity, boundless openness. Open heart, mind and hand.
    • Sila paramita: virtue, morality.
    • Shanti paramita: patience, tolerance, acceptance, endurance.
    • Virya paramita: energy, diligence, courage, enthusiasm, effort.
    • Dhyana paramita: meditation, absorption, concentration, contemplation.
    • Prajna: transcendental wisdom.
  5. Meditation and mindfulness help in achieving new insights which leads to enlightenment.
  6. The experiencing of mu (or ‘wu’, the lack of presence, emptiness) leads to satori (spiritual awakening

“Well so ‘n so believes in stuff that I think is new age hippie BS and not Buddhism, because they are talking about coming from a place of spiritual love and compassion.”

Well, to be honest one of the basic teachings of Buddhism is the act of Altruism (the belief in or practice of disinterested and selfless concern for the well-being of others.)

‘Is this what you have in mind,’ I asked the Dalai Lama, ‘when you say in teachings that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the world are the most selfish beings of all, that by cultivating altruism they actually achieve ultimate happiness for themselves?’

Yes. That’s wise selfish,’ he replied. ‘Helping others not means we do this at our own expense. Not like this. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, these people very wise. All their lives they only want one thing: to achieve ultimate happiness. How to do this? By cultivating compassion, by cultivating altruism.
The root of happiness is altruism — the wish to be of service to others. -Dalai Lama

As for the confusion of Spiritualism, often people still mistake the No-Self or No-Soul means there is not room for spirituality in Buddhism. If Buddhism does not believe in an immortal soul, then what and who will be reborn in the cycle of samsāra?

This is an interesting question. Buddhism definitely does not accept the belief that there is an immortal and perpetual soul. As mentioned in the teaching of non-self, no permanent self or soul entity exists permanently and invariably—only the current of karmic consciousness of sentient beings flowing constantly like the running of a river. If there were an immortal and invariable soul, an animal would not be able—after cultivating wholesome karmas through multiple lives—to become a human and a human would not be able to become a Bodhisattva or even a Buddha (See Jataka Tales for more information). Here, it is the very karmic current of consciousness that continually operates and transforms itself from this life to the next life in the cycle of samsāra in which the mind of each individual is the only foundation for this operation. Consequently, Buddhism does not accept the existence of an immortal soul, although it does accept that a transformation of the mind occurs throughout the journey of birth and rebirth. Until a practitioner—after a long term of spiritual training—attains sainted fruits such as Arhat, Buddha, or Bodhisattva in the eighth stage, he or she will break the cycle of samsāra. At this point of the spiritual journey, the motivation of birth and rebirth belongs to the devotional vow of each Bodhisattva; it is no longer pushed by the karmic force. Speaking of problems of rebirth or samsāra, you should note that Buddhism does not use the term soul, but rather mind.


The Sound of Silence

the-sound-of-silenceThe sound of being silent, or knowing when to be silent!

As a rule, I generally only post what I practice, or at least what I strive to practice. I know I am not a perfect individual and I still struggle with the ego mind that acts as my own worst critic. Often, however, I have to “kill the Buddha I see in the mirror” as it were because I have turned my practice into an extension of my own ego. When ever it goes too far to the opposite tangent I tend to step back and pull away from sharing what I learn when I start to feel that I need to lead others, especially when I am lacking in my own practice. Namaste my friends!

A disciple once asked, “Master, what is the value of silence?” The master told the disciple, “ So long as the bee is outside the petals of the lotus, and has not tasted its honey, it hovers around the flower, emitting its buzzing sound; but when it is inside the flower, it drinks its nectar silently. If a man quarrels and disputes about doctrines and dogmas, he has not tasted the nectar of the Tao; when he has tasted it he becomes still.”


Illusions faced in our modern Era

814fef964575afa493e93845fc6e8fc3Often, through the means of social media, with the anonymity that comes with it, we find there are many with self appointed authority on any given subject. Whether it is spirituality or through other subjects. Often it is easy to get wrapped up in the egos of ourselves and the egos of others.

No one man should one be regarded more than another, this was the first illusion Buddha shed when he discarded his princely riches.

We must remember no one man is more holier than another, what is divine in ourselves is divine also in others. If you seek validation, you will only find the ego, and the ego leads to suffering. Seek only genuine connections, and help, free yourselves from the illusion of the digital media age.

Romans 14:3-6
3 The man who eats everything must not look down on him who does not, and the man who does not eat everything must not condemn the man who does, for God has accepted him. 4 Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To his own master he stands or falls. And he will stand, for the Lord is able to make him stand. 5 One man considers one day more sacred than another; another man considers every day alike. Each one should be fully convinced in his own mind. 6 He who regards one day as special, does so to the Lord. He who eats meat, eats to the Lord, for he gives thanks to God; and he who abstains, does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God.  -NIV Bible

“If you find no one to support you on the spiritual path, walk alone. There is no companionship with the immature.” -Buddha


Facts vs Truths

the-truthOften it has been a matter of debate about what is a truth.  As a follower of Yoga I practice the Yamas, one of this is Satya or Truthfulness.  “So to someone online I may say, in the spirit of Satya and Ahimsa (Non Violence) I wish you peace, Namaste!” Often this brings up further debate, especially if I say something that expresses ownership of the truth not being shared by me, but what is Truth?

Fact:
noun

  • A thing that is indisputably the case: she lacks political experience—a fact that becomes clear when she appears in public a body of fact

Truth:
noun (plural truths /tro͞oT͟Hz, tro͞oTHs/)

  • The quality or state of being true:
    A fact or belief that is accepted as true:
  • A fact or belief that is accepted as true:

Because a truth can also be a belief, it does not have to be true necessarily for everyone, in this context all facts are truths but not all truths are facts. So when I have accepted something has been your truth I am neither denying it nor am I accepting it, it is something that is your truth and that is ok!  I only pray that your truths bring you peace, Namste!

 

Archaeology is the search for fact… not truth. If it’s truth you’re looking for, Dr. Tyree’s philosophy class is right down the hall.  – Dr. Henry “Indiana” Jones JR.