Wisdom Arises Through Understanding

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Fixation on Results

I was observing that there is a fixation through out my life towards results. The eyes and the mind is turned towards results so much that the whole existence seemed to be about getting the results, for instance the position in class, the status at work, the amount of money in the bank account, how much material goods amassed etc. The other thing that the mind is fixated in terms of results are feelings be it feelings like happy, sad, joyful, angry, upset, tired etc. Because of this fixation, life seemed to be lived in a state of holding on to a result or avoiding a result or supressing a result or expanding a result or duplicating a result. There seem to be no peace, only an ongoing struggle.

Why this fixation when all these are result of a cause that had already taken place? There is no way NOW to change the bank book balance that reflects less money that I expected or to say I am NOT angry/upset/happy etc when I'm experiencing the feelings now. Being fixated seems to be irrational but the ego mind does not seem to know otherwise. Because of this, life is lived kind of like backwards putting the cart before the horse.

I remember my teacher saying that its unwise to be focused on result when its the cause that we should be working on because when we change a cause, the results changes. Such simple logic but the ego mind seem to be able to comprehend it in theory but not in practical. In the past, when I was training people in problem solving techniques, I observed that people were very caught up with the symptoms of a problem. There seem to be difficulty in differentiating the symptoms from the causes. Only when a person has a clear mind that they can tell the difference between the two and only then the investigation for the true cause of a problem can start.

So, its the same for me, when the mind is cluttered and mindless, there is a fixation to the wrong thing which is the results instead of causes. When there is mindfulness, the mind is able to observe the result for what they are and then work on the cause. A healer, Mr Hari had mentioned before that when we don't like the results... its ok.... we need not hang on to it,  we just need to change or create a new cause so that what is experienced is a new result.....

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Blessings of a Good Teacher

I had the opportunity to be around my meditation teacher who came for a 1 week trip. During the time, I played the role of host and also helper. In the 1 week of interaction, I could clearly see how a person who has wisdom and mindfulness live. He was authentic in his expression and seem to see things from a perspective that is very different from me. He was not concerned on how people view him and is ever willing to share his teachings.

For the whole week, I had the chance to ask him questions, listen to him giving instructions, participate in guided meditation sessions and also listen to how he responds to questions from the audience.

In listening to him, I realised that seeds information which he calls Right View are implanted into the mind that will germinate and assist in my journey of mindfulness and understanding. A few things that I clearly remember is :-
a. Thoughts and feelings are seemed strong because there is a like or a dislike
b. Understanding cannot be forced, we need to practice and wisdom will arise naturally
c. Natural awareness does not need any forcing or focusing. All it needs is to remember to be aware. How hard could that be ??? well harder than I thought
d. Only with the awareness of cessation of something, do we see the arising of another..... I thought this was profound because if I am not aware of cessation, I would have the concept of permanence and also there would be a gap in the awareness.
e. When in doubt..... do nothing first.
f. We don't have to control anything but be aware of all that that is happening
g. When I think I've lost it ..... just start again... no need for guilt

I am counting my blessing to have this experience because from the movie "Inception", I learnt that all it takes is for us to believe a tiny idea and with strong emotions about it, the idea will take root in the mind and steer our lives. This can happen with a good or bad idea. So I feel blessed because a mind that has Right View and attitude is just going to make life better and better, freer and freer, more and more balanced and equanimous.
This is the blessing of having a good teacher. 

Monday, July 19, 2010

Loss of Mindfulness

This week has been an unordinary week as my teacher SUT is here to conduct a tour reteat. The concept of the tour retreat is about maintaining natural awareness throughout the day. As we are going out enjoying the sights, there must be a constant reminder to maintain awareness of the 6 sense doors - sight, hearing, smelling, touching, tasting and the mind.

From the teacher's explanation it seem easy but when it comes to practice, its not as easy as I thought. Mindfulness can be lost at the blink of an eye. I notice in myself, I'm less mindful when I'm tired. The teacher gave a very good advice which is when we are tired, its good to be aware of what is happening within us and not to put attention on the outside world so much because this will further draw away or deplete our energy further. We can observe the irritation in the mind, the blame or unhappy thoughts, the discomforts in the body and of course watch this with a gentle attitude. Doing this will prevent a person from acting out from tiredness and it could help a person to gain clarity of mind thus making wise decision and doing wise actions.

During the trip, there was one evening that I felt really tired and I could sense that the scope of the awareness was not wide.... it would like I was in safe mode just being aware of minimal things. I also notice that the mind is rather one track. One funny incident was when I went to collect teacher's clothes to be laundered before I went out with the group for dinner, the mind was tired and after collecting the clothes, I invited the teacher to dinner without the awareness that teacher only eats 2 meals a day. When he looked surprise, I saw the mind feeling irritated as to why the teacher is not making a move. Then when the teacher said that he do not eat dinner, suddenly the mind woke up. It was rather funny to see the mind stuck in a perception and experiencing a suddenly awakening of the mind.  

Monday, July 12, 2010

Fear and Its Gifts

Today is the last day of my rice fasting. This is the day I've been waiting for since I started this. Throughout this journey of just eating rice for every meal in a day, I've gone through many experiences.

In the first few days, as the body adjust to the change in diet, a lot of fear thoughts we on "Can i make it through the whole thing and its still so many days away" At this point the mind was very clear that an intention was already set to go through it. With clear intention, there was also clear resolute.

But as the days goes by.... the mind starts to count the days closely and thinking of ways to speed up the process etc. Just watching this was quite funny because the mind is thinking of ways to go back to a comfortable position. The mind do not like changes because it disturbs status quo.

When I passed the half way mark (in the mind there is a half way mark), there was a new type of fear thoughts emerging.... "I've come so far.... what if I fail now" . I notice there were hardly any positive thoughts at this point. To avoid thinking of the negative thoughts, many a times I deployed distraction strategies like watching television, reading, cooking, etc. All this while, there was also a tiny thought that holds the mind steady "See the day as a day. Be present". I see this thought as a wisdom because I cannot be anywhere else but where I am at that moment.

As I neared the 9th days, uncomfortable feelings start to emerge and more thought like " Oh no.... I'm going to fail". In fact, I called R about the uncomfortable hoping to hear that "Don't worry, everything will be ok", instead I hear him say that normally, people feel uncomfortable the first few days and then the rest of the days will be ok. But since my discomfort started so late, I'll have a difficult time......Whoa... that was not what I want to hear...... Strangely.... after hearing this.... there was an even greater clarity to stay in the moment and not project to the future..... the next day all the discomfort disappeared.

As I neared the last 3 days....... there were some paranoia about telling people that I was almost near completion because of fear again about failing at the last minute.....

The whole journey has been an interesting one watching the various forms of fear but I believe it all boils down to fear of losing face and having to repeat something which in turn spells failure. I have pondered that for the longest time, fear has always lead the way but it need not be so. What is the gift behind all this fear? For every fear that presents itself to me..... it is a call to see the gift it bring. What are the gifts I got ?? Its the gift of perseverence, the gift of patience, the gift of gentleness, the gift of intention and the gift support.

Friday, July 9, 2010

Getting Clearer and Clearer

I was having a frank discussion with TL recently and we were talking of how at every turn in our daily experiences the ego is there to egg us on. I was describing to him my understanding of the progress and process in gaining understanding from situations we encounter.

I described that at the beginning when I did not have much wisdom cultivate, I would react based on a default program/idea that is unconscious to me. In fact I would not have any thoughts of questioning the program but point to the outside world as the cause of any unhappiness.

When the practice of remembering to be mindful becomes more constant and consistent, I would start to observe what happens as an observer, observing the thoughts and feeling. I could still be embroiled in the drama around the situation but the stickiness to the drama will be shorter.

When mindfulness becomes a default program, the mind not only sees the thoughts and feelings but also can start to ask questions and find out the ideas that is powering the thoughts and feeling. At this point in our discussion, I told TL that when the defilement is perceived to be bigger than whatever wisdom I have at the moment.... I would normally go into a distraction strategy where I'll do other things while occasionally give attention to the thoughts and feelings until the mind has some clarity to identify the idea behind.

TL then brought up a new and interesting dimension to our discussion by asking Why is there a need to see a defilement as big or small ? He asked, "What if, when something happens and we are feeling dis-ease from it, we accept that it is happening now, we immediately face it and identify the idea behind it. Wouldn't that clear the whole situation quickly?" I agree with this idea and it seem to be what people like Byron Katie and Eckhart Tolle does. This means a person can do it when they are constantly present and mindful moment to moment.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Being Appreciated & Supported

The weekend workshop I organised completed today quite smoothly and I was told that the participants were happy with the workshop. I was feeling quite happy and when TL related to me about the workshop and what happened there, I was rejoicing. He told me that I must appreciate the work I put into organising the workshop and to reward myself with a higher program manager fee.

When he said that, I was feeling a bit sheepish about rewarding myself but I noticed an interesting feeling popped up... I was enjoying the fact that someone appreciated me.... That feeling... no money could buy. I also reflected that I felt really good and motivated these few days with TL & LF supporting me verbally and physically on my journey of rice fasting. This feeling seemed to buoyed me and motivated me further to continue.

I guess this is human nature and countless studies have been made to proof that when a person is appreciated and supported, they shine, they grow, they do things beyond expectation etc. I raised a question to the mind on " What would happen if there was no appreciation for things that you do?". The answer that I got was that I am not at the level where I'm not affected by appreciation or criticism. I still have a journey of learning to be equanimous and accepting things as it is. There is no sadness in it when the answer came to me because this is where I am now. I admit that there is still a liking for appreciation and support and a dislike for criticism and things that do not go my way.

Because of the awareness of this liking and disliking, it sort of makes the emotional swing of feeling good/high and feeling negative/low not so wider. In a way, there is a sense of goundedness and not be too carried away to each end of the continuum. Maybe if the swing of emotion get smaller and smaller, the closer to the middle path a person would be.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Making Sense of Senses

During these few days of rice fasting, I had  interesting experiences with the sense of taste, smell and sight.

When someone is cooking something and the nose picks up the smell.... I experienced a lot of joy and inhaled the smell deeply and I observed the mind to see if there is a desire to eat.... strangely there was no desire present except the enjoyment of the smell.

When I see the food being cooked, I just experienced the look of the food. And found that the food looked really beautiful.
I started to wonder ..... where is the desire ? Was I enjoying sight for just what it is?

So I experimented with having the rice in my mouth and smelling and looking at the food.... All I experienced that they were all distinct doing their own function and I could enjoy their function as it is. It was indeed an interesting experience because I could let others enjoy the food while I eat my rice. There was no thoughts of "poor me"

Then I pondered, if I enjoyed the sight and smell of the food though I'm not participating in the eating, would this enjoyment mean that there is still desire?? I have not found out the answer to this question yet. I guess more observation is needed.

I realised that I normally connect the 3 senses as one package, when the eye picks up a sight, and the nose picks up a scent, the mouth start to salivate, imagining how the food will taste like. This is the start of the wanting if the imagination was a delicious one. On the other hand, if the sight and smell were undesirable, there will be a major turn off.