Tag Archives: Sanity

Some Thoughts on Media

I know — everyone (who is ‘everyone’?) says that in order to get word out about what one is doing then one has to post blogs, write on various sites, and Tweet like a stricken partridge.

I happen to think my books have some good things in them, things the larger world needs to know about, so that means I have to blog, tweet, facebook, post to Intent.com, New Consciousness Review, and and….

I’ve nothing against this. The slight drawback is that it gets in the way of developing the new ideas I’m exploring.  In fact publicizing becomes an end in itself which threatens to squash all future development.

Perhaps this is just the way the world is now, and I’m simply going to sound like a whiner for even mentioning the fact that I don’t spend 17 hours a day promoting what I write.

Still, I’ll focus on what I think is useful. And if you agree that it has merit then I’ll have to ask you good people to mention it to others.

Sending you all a large smile…..

Are You Going Out of Your Mind?

Often one of the most insulting things someone can say to us is, "Are you out of your mind?" But what if it is actually the coolest thing we could say? What if being out of your mind meant you are not disturbed by the madness of your mind and are more in touch with your feelings, your heart, and your freedom!

Have you ever wondered how extraordinary the mind is? How it can reach from the sublime heights of intellectual ecstasy to the depths of suicidal despair, from piercing clarity to confused schizophrenia? It is the same mind that longs for that sumptuous chocolate cake or that stunning dress or shirt, then afterwards may wonder why we ate something so rich, or lets the clothing go unworn in the closet and feels guilty that we bought it in the first place.

This mind is capable of understanding the most intricate scientific and mathematical theories and can make complicated corporate decisions, yet the same mind can get caught up in trivia and nonsense, becoming upset or even unglued over a seemingly harmless remark. It runs out lives, pushing us in all directions, from attraction to repulsion, creating endless dramas that act out our insecurities and fears.

There is no denying the importance and value of the mind—there is great brilliance and beauty here—but there is also great absurdity. Thinking, for instance, is not wrong at all, but are our thoughts constructive ones or do they generate further confusion? For no matter how intellectually astute or creative we may be, this aptitude often has little or no effect upon the habitual mind and its repetitive patterns: the fear, guilt, anxiety, neurosis, shame, and self-centeredness.

Humankind has come a long way in terms of physical evolution; we have developed our world beyond any other known life form and have achieved enormous technical advancement, but there is still a long way to go in the evolution of consciousness. Evolution takes us from the gross to the subtle, while involution takes us from the subtle to the sublime. We have yet to touch the depth of true wisdom and liberation that is our natural state by turning within instead of outside ourselves.

The tragedy is that this mental play is considered to be normal. We become exhausted maintaining our dramas and thinking patterns—"My mind is so busy it is driving me crazy!"—as if this were some sort of achievement. In order to reinforce these patterns we surround ourselves with people who think and feel the same way. It is a basic human need to feel loved and that we belong, so as long as there are others out there supporting and agreeing with us we feel fine.

When we get out of our minds and into our heart, then we get away from our insecurities, worries, judgments and self-centeredness, away from everything that keeps us lost, scattered and fearful, away from the dramas and stories that reinforce who we think we are. As we said in our blog, The Greatest Gift You Can Give Yourself, on Oprah.com/spirit, "In essence, meditation is simply about calming our chattering monkey-like mind and being aware and present in this moment." And the great Zen teacher Alan Watts, said, "We all need to go out of our minds at least once a day!" In other words, we all need to come out our minds and into our hearts.

Imagine you are free of all the limitations and difficulties you are dealing with, see if you can actually create that vision of being free of who you think you are. Just close your eyes and see yourself as a completely free being with nothing stopping you from being or doing anything you want to. You can be happy! You can be free!

Have you ever felt you were out your mind? How did you deal with it? Do comment below. You can order a copy of our latest book: BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You and the World.


See our Friday weekly blogs on Oprah.com/spirit

 Ed and Deb Shapiro’s book, BE THE CHANGE, How Meditation Can Transform You And The World, forewords by the Dalai Lama and Robert Thurman, with contributors Marianne Williamson, astronaut Edgar Mitchell, Jane Fonda, and others.

 We will be teaching at the Institute of Noetic Sciences June 18-20, with special guest speaker astronaut Edgar Mitchell

 Our 3 meditation CD’s: Metta—Loving kindness and Forgiveness; Samadhi–Breath Awareness and Insight; and Yoga Nidra–Inner Conscious Relaxation, are available at: www.EdandDebShapiro.com  

Beyond Sanity & Madness

 Maezumi Roshi entrusted his successors with a great challenge and responsibility.  Having seen himself as a bridge, a stepping stone, for bringing the Buddhadharma from the East to the West, he asked us, his Dharma heirs, to help Zen take root in the West by making it accessible to Westerners and by enriching it with the important insights that Western culture could contribute to those of the East.

My entire career as a teacher has been dedicated to fulfilling this request, and I think the Big Mind process which I discovered and have been developing for ten years does this as a Upaya, a skillful means, to nurture both spiritual growth and psychological health.  As you may know, the Big Mind process uses the format and some of the techniques of Voice Dialogue, a therapy developed by Drs. Hal and Sidra Stone, to address and speak from different aspects, or voices, of the self.  While Big Mind is not a form of psychotherapy, since one of its goals is to make us aware of the very insubstantiality of the self, it does have the beneficial effect of allowing aspects of the self to become more conscious, to emerge from the shadows, to be owned and thereby to realize the transcendent wisdom inherent in each and every voice. 

Reality can be broken up into three aspects: relative reality which is the apparent reality that we take for real.  This is the reality where we see our self as an entity or being, separate from others and from the world.  This is a very essential view, because it allows us to survive as a species.  However, there is another reality, called the absolute reality, which in Zen Buddhism we would refer to as the Real reality. This is the reality of oneness or non-duality.  This is what we could call pure being, where we are in the present, the here and now, with no separation between self and other, the world and oneself.  In this reality there is no fear, no suffering, and no one to suffer.  This has been referred to as the awakened state of mind, or enlightened mind.  There is still a third aspect, the non-duality of these two, the relative and absolute reality, for they are in reality one.  It is the inseparability of absolute and relative, form and emptiness.  In this article, I use a triangle as a metaphor to emphasize my point.  If we look at the left hand base corner as relative reality, the right hand base corner as the absolute reality, the apex of our triangle is the identity of relative and absolute, which I sometimes refer to as the integrated free-functioning human being, where the human is the relative reality and the being is the absolute reality.

In the hands of a facilitator who is skilled in the nuances of the Big Mind process and at the same time deeply grounded in Zen, the process can have remarkably profound and sudden effects on individual participants – even individuals in large groups – enabling them to experience deep insights and even realizations or kensho experiences that are both psychological and spiritual.  Of course, as I always remind audiences, these insights need to be integrated and stabilized by meditation or zazen and conscious practice, but the openings are real and life-changing.

Interested readers can find many examples of Big Mind facilitation in action on our website, www.bigmind.org and elsewhere on the internet.  What I would like to offer here is an example of how the Big Mind process can be used to evoke the voices of Sanity and Insanity, and then the Apex of the triangle which both includes and transcends these two voices.  In the process of this dialogue, I also speak to the voices of both Sanity and Insanity at various stages, for example when they are disowned, or manifesting covertly, and when they are fully owned and embodied, mature, healthy and integrated.

Here is how such a dialogue could go:


Genpo Roshi: May I now speak to the Mind of Sanity that has been disowned please?


Mind of Sanity that has been disowned: Yes I am the Mind of Sanity that has been disowned.  What would you like from me?


Genpo Roshi: I wish to know more about you and who you are.


Mind of Sanity that has been disowned: I have been disowned so I really don’t know who I am. I am looking to find out who and what I am. I am supposed to be sane but I don’t know what that means. I have never known what that is. He, the self, is looking for so-called sanity but he also has no clue about me. He likes to think that he is sane but he isn’t really. People think that he is but he has most of them fooled. Some see through his disguise of being sane, but he works hard and it is exhausting to keep others fooled. He is a fraud because he doesn’t want people to see that he has disowned me.


Genpo Roshi: How do you come out in a covert or unhealthy way?


Mind of Sanity that has been disowned: I come out as immature behavior and not taking responsibility for his actions and reactions. Because I am so disowned he acts crazy and as if he were a self-centered asshole. It is always all about him, as if the world actually revolved around him. I can even do insane and perverted things because I have been disowned. I am not healthy for him or others, especially loved ones and close friends and family.


Genpo Roshi: What would it look like if you were owned and embodied, honored and respected?


Mind of Sanity that has been disowned: He would be and act in a more sane and appropriate way. He would take responsibility for his actions and reactions. His choices would be wise and well thought out. He wouldn’t act so immaturely and unhealthily. His actions would be appropriate to the situation like a hand and a glove or a box and its lid. I wouldn’t have to manifest in bizarre behavior any longer or look for release through alcohol and drugs or all kinds of addictions. His anger and rage would either cease or at least be appropriate to the situation.


Genpo Roshi: May I please speak to Sanity owned and embodied, honored and respected?


The Mind of Sanity: Yes I am the mind of Sanity. I take responsibility not as a big burden but more as responding to the situation appropriately. I see things as they truly are and respond to them without a gap. My behavior is dignified and respectful towards others. My actions are healthy and mature and yet I am not old and stuffy. My mind is resilient and open, aware and attentive. Because he has owned and embodied me I no longer come out in all those immature and unhealthy ways as I did before.


Genpo Roshi:  I would now like to please speak to the voice of Insanity Disowned.


Insanity Disowned:  I am Insanity Disowned what do you want from me?


Genpo Roshi: I want to know who really are and why you have been disowned and by whom?


Insanity Disowned: I don’t really know who or what I am, I guess because I have been disowned. I have been disowned by him, the self, that guy. He is quite afraid of me, very afraid of me, downright terrified of me. He keeps me under lock and key. He doesn’t let me out of the dungeon at all even for a moment. Well that isn’t exactly correct.  I do get out on a rare occasion, when he gets drunk or does some drug, or gets really angry and violent. When he loses control I get out. He only knows me on those bizarre occasions. That is why he is so afraid of me. He thinks the very worst of me. He thinks that I could do some terrible things, maybe even kill someone. He fears and hates me. He will do just about anything to keep anyone from seeing me, including himself.


Because I am disowned I come out in bizarre ways that are very immature and perverted, very unhealthy ways. In fact I cause him to do things that are considered crazy by most people’s standards. I am behind a lot of his bad decisions and self-destructive behavior when I am not owned and acknowledged. He over-controls everything and everyone because he won’t honor me and let me out of the basement. He looks like a control freak because he won’t embody me. He lives in fear that he is going to lose his mind. He holds on so tight that he is always uptight and scared. Then he over-thinks everything and isn’t able to be really free. He therefore seeks freedom and wants to let go but can’t. He knows that he needs to let go but is too afraid to, so he clings even harder to everything, even when it causes him tremendous pain and suffering. His face gets wrinkles and lines in it. He looks older than he is because of this uptightness. If only he wouldn’t be so afraid of me he could let go and relax. I am really not insane but complete chaos. I am an unfettered mind that is absolutely free. 


Genpo Roshi: How do you manifest in a covert way because you are disowned? 


Mind of Insanity Disowned: I am not free and therefore he is not free or liberated. He is not happy or joyful because he doesn’t acknowledge me in a healthy way. If he owned and embodied me he would be completely liberated and happy. He would stop trying to control everything and everyone. His life would be his life, not trying to live up to others’ standards and attitudes. He would be enlightened or at least awakened. I could offer him himself. He would no longer be busy comparing himself with others or judging himself in relation to others. The comparisons would stop.


Genpo Roshi: Would you please let me speak to Insanity Owned and Embodied


Insanity Owned and Embodied: I am Insanity Owned and Embodied, honored and respected by the self. I am just me. I can just be myself and don’t have to put on an act any longer. I am insane and I know it and acknowledge it. I can be real now for the first time in my life. The facade is dropped. I am what I am. You are who you are and I am at peace with that. I am completely free and liberated. I am pure chaos and that is not a problem. I am unpredictable but not irresponsible. Every moment is new and fresh, like seeing things for the first time ever. My mind is creative and open, no longer closed and stuck.


Genpo Roshi: I would like now to speak to the Apex that which includes and transcends sanity and insanity, Beyond Sanity and Madness.


Beyond Sanity and Madness: I am the voice that is Beyond Sanity and Madness: I embrace both my sanity and my insanity.  I am neither just sane nor insane, and yet free to be whatever. I am completely free and still absolutely functional in the world, able to be with and to identify with anyone from any walk of life.


Sometimes I appear to be very focused and thoughtful and at times very carefree and unattached to things and even people. My heart is open without limits or boundaries and yet I can maintain a protective mandala (boundary) around me. Some may even think I am mad, and at other times completely sane. Sometimes I am what is called the Crazy Wisdom of a Sage. I return to the marketplace with gift-bestowing hands, awakening all human beings who wish to be awakened. I have consciously owned the many aspects of the marketplace mind that can appear to be competitive, self-promoting and even greedy to others. I have owned my dark side as well as my light side. From here I bridge all the seeming opposites and extremes in life. When it is time to appear in robes I put on my robes, when it is appropriate to be in a business suit I put on a suit. In Maui I wear shorts and in the mountains I put on my down jacket. I sit by the stream in deep silence for hours at my cabin and facilitate and empower very large groups of people in workshops. Some call me Roshi or Zen Master and others Genpo. Some even call me Dennis.

Zen Master Genpo Roshi founded the Kanzeon Sangha, an international Zen community in 1984, with groups and centers throughout Europe and the U.S., and is abbot of Big Mind Zen Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, which he founded in 1993. He discovered the Big Mind process in 1999. His newest book is Big Mind Big Heart: Finding Your Way.



6 Holiday Wellness Tips

Staying grounded during the holidays is difficult for most everyone. Financial stressors, substance abuse issues (yours or someone else’s) or a history of trauma can only exacerbate the problem. Add to that the fact that old family roles kick in during family gatherings and well-adjusted, normally sane people suddenly find themselves acting like 5 year olds. How do you maintain your peace of mind and stay balanced? Here is a list of suggestions for maintaining your mental health during the holiday season.

1. Maintain your Self Care

If you have a regular exercise routine, a healthy diet or a relaxation program that gets you through the rest of the year, the holidays are not the time to forego them. In fact you often need them more this time of year. Eat as healthily as you can. Maintain your workout or relaxation regime as best you can. Use suggestion #2 to save time for these very important practices.

2. Just say "No"

Maintain your boundaries and your sanity. The holiday can be a great time for getting together with friends and family. However, too many parties or gatherings can leave you exhausted and compromise your self care.

Things you might think about saying "No" to:

  • Attending every single holiday invitation you receive
  • Being pressured to eat or drink too much
  • Buying presents for every single person you know or ever met
  • Buying expensive presents that break your budget
  • Being pressured into bypassing your self care (exercise, diet, relaxation techniques, etc.)
  • Attending family gatherings which deteriorate into drunken brawls, finger pointing contests or other dysfunctional patterns

You may even want to create a holiday gathering of your own and forego dysfunctional family dynamics. We don’t often think of it, but many people have been cast out of their families of origin. The gay and lesbian community is one community which has been very strong in creating their own healthy families and having their own gatherings. We should all learn from their example. "Family" doesn’t have to be biologically relevant.

Individuals who are newly sober might be compromised by a family which drinks heavily. Individuals who have experienced childhood abuse or violence within their families may not feel safe returning to them if their abuser or molester is still present. If attending a family gathering is not possible for any reason, don’t miss out on the season. Create your own community and have your own gathering that is safe, supportive and healthy.

3. Maintain moderation

Eating, drinking and partying too much can wipe out the good health you strive for the rest of the year. Be mindful of how much you do of each and try to maintain moderation. It’s not necessary to taste everything or drink as much as uncle Fred. Do what is best for you. Refer back to #2, learn to say "No".

4. Drink up

Water, that is. It’s cold out there and most people have their houses nicely heated this time of year. Combine that with the stressors of airplane travel, non-stop shopping, overeating and increased alcohol intake and dehydration can be an issue. Keep drinking your water to stay hydrated and energized.

5. Stay connected

If you have a support system that helps you get through the rest of the year, don’t abandon it now. Exchange phone numbers or emails if you are traveling and determine ahead of time the best method for getting, or giving, support during these next few weeks.

6. Get real

Every year I watch as people motor off to the Normal Rockwell family Christmas they have created in their heads. And every year I watch them crawl back to work totally disillusioned and depressed. Get real about your family’s dynamics and how Christmases really turn out. Having more realistic expectations will keep you from having that great let down on December 31st and allow you to develop strategies for having a Christmas that is more realistically likely to happen.

See more articles about mental health issues at my blog: Kellevision.com

The Holiday Blur


Hello Every"one"

I must admit the last few day have been a blur.  I can’t imagine that the next few weeks will be any slower.  As I approach this holiday season I wonder what I will do to stay grounded and I am so grateful to have found INTENT! Thanks for giving my insanities in written form a platform. Venting will = Sanity!   =0.) Till my next post.


All my best



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