Thank you so much for being here for Week Eight of Beyond Self 2012 in SunnyRoomStudio — a creative, sunny space for kindred spirits.

I appreciate your participation in this retreat for many reasons.  For one thing, as I write these posts each week, I’ve discovered this to be a wonderful spiritual practice in and of itself.  So I hope you are participating with a journal, because there is something about the process of writing that clarifies and illuminates.  As most of you know, I’ve closed blog comments until we finish our retreat in late December, so you are free to focus on your spiritual practice during this time.  The days are passing quickly it seems; here we are, already on the 8th week.  If you missed a post, you can return anytime via the link above or by clicking on previous posts via the sidebar menu.

  • For those of you who are just joining us, we are following a spiritual thread that is a key to ancient Zen teachings … the thread of “beyond self” and how to transcend self to become fully realized in the spiritual sense.  How are you doing with this premise?  Finding it difficult?  Why do you think this is such an important teaching?

Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries.
Without them, humanity cannot survive.
~ Dalai Lama

WEEK EIGHT: Beyond Self 2012

Week One: Extend Your Gaze
Week Two: Always Evaluating
Week Three: Being Brevity
Week Four: Entanglement
Week Five: Beyond Attachment
Week Six: Eternal Nature
Week Seven: If Only

When you say “yes” to the “isness” of life, when you accept this moment as it is, you can feel a sense of spaciousness within
you that is deeply peaceful.”
  ~ Eckhart Tolle

Mindfulness practice is something we hear more and more about these days.  There are various ways of looking at this, of understanding this facet of a spiritual practice.  Someone once asked me if achieving “no thought” and “mindfulness” were of the same realm.

  • Have you considered this?

Mindfulness is about awareness, while going beyond thought, or seeking to calm the mind to transcend it, is also about achieving greater awareness.  The terms, however, at face value, can sound somewhat contradictory, but when I delve into them, it seems they are all part of the same equation.  In fact, greater mindfulness facilitates less obsessive thinking, the kind that is seriously dysfunctional, repeating itself in our heads ad infinitum — the kind that represents “an untamed mind,” per Mark W. Muesse.

“Mindfulness is the skill of being deliberately attentive to one’s experience as it unfolds — without the superimposition of our usual commentary and conceptualizing.”  ~ Mark Muesse

Muesse has a Ph.D. in the Study of Religion from Harvard University and produced a course called “Practicing Mindfulness: An Introduction to Meditation” for The Great Courses program.  If you want to explore mindfulness in detail, I strongly recommend this audio program, which is a college level course.  Professor Muesse is at once practical and enlightened; challenging and supportive; and extremely knowledgeable about the practice of mindfulness.  As he points out …

“Practicing mindfulness over time reveals and develops the qualities of wisdom and compassion, the twin virtues of the discipline.  Wisdom means seeing clearly into the fundamental nature of reality.  Through meditative practice, we can deeply recognize the eternal arising and passing away of all phenomena and see the unsatisfactory quality of ordinary human experience that derives from the illusion of the self as an entity separate from the rest of reality.”

 We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.
Thich Nhat Hanh

But if you are like most of us, there is resistance to letting go of the “illusion of separateness.”  How do you resist this reality?  Are your methods subtle or obvious?  Are you even aware of your resistance?

  • What is the price of your resistance?

Most spiritual leaders would point to needless suffering as the answer.

When have you created suffering for yourself, have you noticed it happening in the moment or only after-the-fact?  Why is this distinction so important?

“Pain is a relatively objective, physical phenomenon; suffering is our psychological resistance to what happens. Events may create physical pain, but they do not in themselves create suffering. Resistance creates suffering. Stress happens when your mind resists what is… The only problem in your life is your mind’s resistance to life as it unfolds.” ~ Dan Millman, Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior

  “Buddha says there are two kinds of suffering: the kind that leads to more suffering and the kind that brings an end to suffering.”
Terry Tempest Williams, Refuge: An Unnatural History of Family and Place

This week consider bringing more nonresistance into your life.  If you are confronted with a painful situation, for instance, how can you reduce your suffering?  Muesse notes that our belief that “pain shouldn’t happen to us” causes suffering, and creates resistance.  He adds that this common belief is “delusional,” because it is “inconsistent with the nature of the world.”  What does he suggest we do?

  •  … respond to pain with compassionate mindfulness.

Does our belief in the “illusion of separateness” contribute to our resistance, our suffering?  What do you think?

Undoubtedly, suffering is a great teacher — if not “the” greatest teacher.

I’ve often said, for instance, that we discover our true depth as human beings through loss.  And to this end most of us suffer greatly when faced with the realities of death.  Yet, maybe as we evolve in the spiritual sense, it becomes easier to tap into our “true depth” when needed, thereby reducing our resistance and, therefore, our suffering.

  • I don’t know about all of you, but I’m counting on this.  And will try to look life and loss square in the eye, knowing each as one, yet, simultaneously.  The only way they can be fully known.  ~ dh

If you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Blog posts by DazyDayWriter @ work in SunnyRoomStudio: all rights reserved.

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