Virtues of the negative way

Throughout our lives many have and will tell us how best to live: what views to hold, what behaviours to adopt, what to perceive as right and wrong and so forth. Good or bad, if these influences persist long enough, the mind, with its ability to conceptualise, crystallise, model and predict will inevitably weave these views into the mechanisms we use to define the world around us.

 

While everyone is largely free to choose what views they hold, feeding these views with the energies of belief and unquestioningly adhering to them in thought and action can cause them to overpower the very mind that formed them. They become rigid, inflexible and absolute, laying the path to fundamentalism, obscurity and varying degrees of general unpleasantness.

 

Naturally, an alternative/substitutive view or belief structure offered by this or that individual or group that would allegedly remedy the situation is, in itself, a contradiction – to borrow the essence of several parables, one can’t remove tea leaves from water by putting more tea in the pot. The concepts and views are only symptomatic – it is the continued act of conceptualisation and of holding views that clouds awareness.Thus, practicing a negative method – quietening the views that are already there – may help to clear the water, so to speak.

 

To be clear, ‘negative’ in this context does not suggest contradictory or nihilistic. In this ‘negative’ method, one does not deny or refute one’s beliefs; such dramatic introspection would only lead to self-doubt and would make one exceedingly upset at oneself. Further, as a method (an action), it does not seek to substitute alternatives. It is a temporary but sincere effort that does not confront but allows space and perspective.

 

The temporary silencing of all views without the subsequent substitution of new views is a means to become aware of thought patterns that have become so habitual that the thinker has forgotten he/she was sustaining them. One can only determine if a window is clean or dirty if one is aware that they’re looking through it.

 

Practising the method is simple and approaches are diverse. A personal favourite derives from the practice of shikantaza:
Set aside 10 minutes or more in which you commit to silence. Gradually but diligently seek to become fully aware of your immediate surroundings. Note the experiences flowing through each sensory channel – the rhythm of your breathing, gravity pulling down, the floor pushing up, the sounds near and far, all impressions in your visual field (whether your eyelids are open or not, does not affect this) and so on. As thoughts and feelings arise, treat them as sense objects – experience them, study them, or redouble attention on your surroundings – but do not react to them with more thought or emotion and they will settle and pass. If you find yourself getting bored, it’s unlikely you’re paying full attention to the task. After the time set aside is up, simply stretch continue with your day. This method will not give you new insights or answer any questions, but hopefully, it will help clean the figurative windows of the mind.

 

PS:
It’s no secret that the negative method is at the core of many meditative traditions, in particular Buddhist practices. Find out more!

A Very Happy Diwali: Diwali Recipes

Recipe for GUJIA

Gujia

INGREDIENTS

Flour 250 grams

Happy Diwali 2008!

Hey Intent community just wishing all of you a Happy Diwali 08! I wont re-published my universalcollectiveprayer postings here as they are mostly pictorial and videos. But I invite you guys to check them out on my blog…hopefully it will bring joy to those who are aware of the festival and celebrate it already and some appreciation about it to others who know less. Also on the whole I think it will show all of you how the festival is celebrated in my country of Trinidad and Tobago! Please check out my blog it you get change http://universalcollectiveprayer.blogspot.com

Lung Cancer & Living for Today

November 20th is National Smokeout Day, and November is Lung Cancer Awareness month. This post speaks to lung cancer, the toll it takes on loved ones and the quest for a cure.

My 82-year-old mom just went through one of the most difficult experiences of her life: surgery for lung cancer.  I will say that she is amazingly resilient for all her apparent frailties, and has bounced back. In just a little over two weeks, she is chipper, happy, pain and cancer free, and has regained her twinkling smile.

While I noted that this was a most difficult experience for my mom — she stated over and over again that "I didn’t think I was going to make it," it was also an earth-moving, mind-altering experience for me. I had to see my mother in great pain. I had to watch her cry, and see her put through really tough treatments. I felt helpless, horrified, and angry at the unfairness of it all. Why the pain? Why did she need to suffer so much of it?  

Obviously, fairness has nothing to do with cancer. Sobering statistics suggest that one in three of us will be affected by cancer at some point in our lives. My mom got lung cancer — ironically she has never touched a cigarette in her life. She doesn’t drink alcohol or coffee either. Go figure.

Though the first few days were admittedly torturous for her, she is one of the lucky ones. The surgery was successful. This time, cancer didn’t win. But like most of you, I have family members and dear friends who fought the battle of cancer, and lost. It’s not a disease we can take lightly. Finding a cure is something we should all be very committed to – and I will do my part. 

But today, I am counting my blessings, living in this moment, and enjoying my mom’s smile. 

Blessings for the Mirror

Anahola River Mandala

 

Life is moving quickly,
feedback continuously looping
creation, co-creating
reflecting the infinite
being that we are.

– Blessings for the mirror

Mandala~ created from a photo of the Anahola River on Kauai.
Words inspired by Wayne

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