Who Are You, and What Are You?

What Is Your Real Purpose in Life?

Why I Love Sunday

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Sunday is a great day for several reasons. It’s especially nice because most of the true believers are in their churches and we non-believers have the world to ourselves. Well, mostly.

What’s wrong with that you ask? Nothing, actually. Most of us are doing what we want to do. As for myself, I make a point of sleeping late on Sunday. I hardly ever wake up on Sunday without having at least a fleeting thought about the people kneeling and praying in their churches. And appreciating my own freedom to roll over and take an extra snooze.

I can’t imagine living in a country where the government is a religion, and a religion is the government. That is true enslavement, and it is a genuine justification for revolt.

One thing I’ve noticed about religions is they all have stories to tell. When you pick a religion (or if you were indoctrinated when you were young), you are taught that religion’s stories. Each religion’s stories are a little different.

They have books of stories. And they sing songs that tell their stories. And for emphasis, their preachers will shout and rant about their stories. Whether or not their stories are actually true doesn’t really matter. They encourage you to believe them. Because Belief is how you create Faith. And Faith is what gets you into Paradise later. That is, if you choose to believe all that.

In truth, Belief is the easy way out. Show up for church now and then, put some money in the offering plate, and you’re covered. Oh, and quit reading sacrilegious stuff written by heathens like me.

When you step way back and take a hard look at all the possible stories offered to you, you might discover one very crucial fact:

All of the stories in all the religions of the world are merely what other people believe about God. Bottom line: Every religion wants you to accept and believe what other people believe. None of them encourages or helps you take a path of learning for yourself. None of them encourages spiritual self-development.

Compared to just signing on to an organized religion, Zen might be a harder path. You actually have to do something: Practice meditation. Open yourself to your own inner knowledge. But there are no belief systems in Zen. It is a path of seeking the truth. That makes it a very rewarding path. If you stick to it.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

October 8, 2017 at 12:38 pm

How I Go To Sleep

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SleepingGirl

So many people have difficulty getting good sleep. I’m astounded at the huge industry of sleeping pills and other aids. I’ve never used sleeping pills in my entire life. You might think I’m just lucky. But there’s a little more to it than that.

Typically, when I go to bed at night or take an afternoon nap, I fall asleep in about ten or fifteen seconds. People have asked me how I do that. So for the last few nights, I “watched” myself during the process just so I could describe it.

Oh by the way, a short answer to that question is: Many decades of regular meditation practice and training my mind. But a thorough answer takes a few more words.

When I’m headed for bed, I usually start my mental “falling asleep” process well before I actually hit the sheets. I might be brushing my teeth or taking my clothes off, but I’m winding down the thinking machine. I’m telling myself, “Okay, now is not the time to be worrying about things. Let’s slow the mind down. Just quit thinking.”

That is the first part of my secret: actually preparing the mind for sleep well before bedtime. Maybe it’s the decades of self-training kicking in, but as I slow the mind down, I can sense the heavy feelings of tiredness, fatigue, and low energy flowing downward into my whole body. Thus, with my thinking mind very near to stopping and the body already aching for rest, I’m close to falling asleep by the time I slip into the sheets.

Settling into bed, I’m letting my body find the most comfortable position for sleep. For me, this is already a well-practiced position that minimizes pain and suffering from my old body and a few old injuries. Everybody needs to know his own body and how it can best be positioned to minimize aches and pains. So, unless I’m dealing with  unusual bodily stress, getting myself positioned for dropping off to sleep takes me only a couple of seconds.

And now, it’s time for my “mini-meditation” that I use for going to sleep. Once again, this is where the many years of meditation practice pay off. My mind does a relaxation scan in one or two seconds, and I can feel my body going limp from top to bottom. At this point, the world around me is beginning to disappear. Sleep is near.

Now I focus my remaining consciousness on watching my breath and my heartbeat. The breath is already slow and relaxed, and now it is gradually slowing even more. I can feel my heart beating in my chest, and I also notice it in my fingertips and my temples. The heart rate is also slowing, and I can detect a lower blood pressures. And that is usually the last thing I’m aware of. I am asleep. It is a deep dreamless sleep.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

September 14, 2017 at 11:31 am

Who, Me? Asleep?

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Decades ago, I remember reading books by certain teachers and masters who asserted that I (and most people) are walking through life mostly asleep. That frustrated me, because I envisioned myself as a smart, alert person. What is it about my life that makes me “asleep?”

I recall a time when I once stood in front of a mirror and smacked myself in the face to see if that would have any effect. (It did not.)

Time went on, and I didn’t worry about it. I rarely thought about it. But all during that time I kept on with my meditation practice, which gave me a considerable amount of inner peace, steadiness, and balance—that I noticed most people around me didn’t have.

Years later, during one of my typical quiet early-morning meditations, my world was shaken by an enormous totally unexpected earth-shattering event. It seemed like a massive explosion near my house. Except it wasn’t. It was in my mind. It was an awakening, the likes of which I had never before imagined.

In one moment, I became separated from both my body and my mind—floating free in a dimensionless space. I was able to “see” like I had never imagined possible. I was able to view my body and my puny human mind as separate entities. Suddenly, I had vision and knowledge that is not possible in the ordinary human conscious state. There, for a brief few moments, I was awake.

In the minutes and hours after that meditation, I found that I could not recreate the type of vision I’d had. And I could recall only fragments of the knowledge I had experienced. At first I didn’t know if it had been a dream—or an actual experience. Which is why I began writing about it that same morning. I wanted to capture that experience in writing. And I wanted to prove to myself whether the experience was genuine or if I was losing my mind.

Several more “awakening” experiences happened to me during the next two years, which I faithfully recorded in my journal. One was an event where I discovered my self-nature, which among other things taught me who I am and what I am at the deepest level of my being, without the masks and delusions of my own conscious mind. That was powerful. And that made a big change in the way I live. Now, I’m sure I have a good idea what the masters meant when they wrote about sleepers.

One of my teachers, Osho, taught it this way: Silence is the space in which you can awaken. The noisy mind is the space where you will remain asleep. He’s right.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

August 7, 2017 at 1:10 am

Torment of the Mind

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Almost everybody I know suffers from an overactive mind. They tell me they can’t sleep, can’t concentrate, and never get any real rest from all the stuff they worry about. Yes, I know the problem.

More accurately, I knew the problem all too well–until I learned a certain skill. Decades later, I wrote a book about it. To me, it’s the most important knowledge I’ve gained since I was born. But judging from the apparent popularity, it’s the most boring subject in modern civilization.

If it’s not too boring, read some more about ending your torment: Original Zen.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

July 2, 2017 at 11:59 am

Original Zen Now in Paperback

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It took me a year, but now it’s active and available on amazon. For several years, folks have urged me to put the Original Zen ebook into ink-on-paper. So this was my very first effort at turning an ebook into something that doesn’t require electricity or batteries. Of course, the ebook version is still available.

During this work, I revised and updated the ebook (from its original Sept 2013 version), adding a couple of chapters and some additional words and clarifications about things that weren’t clear enough to some readers. I introduced the notion of using mindfulness meditation as a stepping stone into the Zen state.

The first two paperback copies from amazon just arrived (only two days after ordering), and I’m very pleased with the result. It’s a 6×9 inch quality trade paperback with a full-color cover and 160 pages. At the back is a glossary of terms that might be useful to a new student. Right now the price is only $13, which in the future might have to go up a bit.

Click into Original Zen on amazon and take a look. Your feedback and comments will be greatly appreciated.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

June 10, 2017 at 1:30 pm

The Value of Aloneness

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Being alone can result in one of two states of mind: either loneliness or aloneness. The first is being alone and not happy about it. The second is being alone and liking it.

lonelygirl01I spent many of my younger years trying to avoid loneliness. And hating every minute I was lonely. I did all the typical things people do to avoid being alone. I scheduled my life so I’d be busy all the time. If I found myself alone for some reason, I’d make sure there were several radios and televisions making noise to keep my mind occupied. And during that time, I had no inkling of what aloneness was all about.

Then something happened way back when: I heard a song on the radio that reminded me that we all die alone. I know from stuff I learned in collidge that the human body dies from the outside in. That is, we lose contact with our sensory organs and our physical body while our mind is still functioning. So, that means my whole body will shut down and essentially be “dead” while I’m still alive somewhere deep in my brain. I imagined that could be utterly terrifying.

Then, a few decades ago and with the help of a teacher I know, I began deliberately changing my attitude about being alone. I began to appreciate aloneness. And that was about the same time I began loving myself a bit more than I had earlier in life. Looking back, this worked out very well with Zen meditation, and it really did enhance my practice.

In certain ways, aloneness and meditation are the same things. And in other perspectives, they are complementary and work well together.

Simply put, being alone with yourself and observing your mind is known as Mindfulness meditation. Being alone with yourself and not thinking is Zen meditation. I like to do both, sometimes alternating one with the other.

Now that I’m getting into my senior years, my meditations are sometimes very deep and I lose contact with my body for a while. In case I’ve never told you, that is a great experience. And not terrifying at all. For me, there’s not a shred of fear about the possibility of not “waking up.” I would just go on through the Window and see what happens next.

Let’s get back to the point of this blog. Aloneness is good. Start switching the gears in your mind to be more appreciative of aloneness. Even to the point of seeking it and planning for it. You don’t need the radios and TVs playing all the time. You don’t need somebody there for you all the time. And you don’t have to be “bored” by silence. You can learn to be comfortable and at ease being alone all by yourself. Just being with yourself.

Aloneness is a state that can be comforting and nourishing. It creates an atmosphere conducive to inner growth and self-development. It can also provide an opportunity for healing from the daily slings and arrows.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

February 20, 2017 at 8:20 am

Get Ready to Jump

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One of the nicest parts of becoming a spiritually aware person is a big change in attitude about “dying.” And by spiritually aware, I mean becoming aware of one’s spiritual being. (And as you should know by now, this does not entail any kind of religious belief.)

A person who spends enough time focused inward in search of his own self-nature, ultimately discovers an inner being known as the human spirit. That discovery is a significant step toward Enlightenment. It has a huge, life-changing effect on everyone who experiences it.

Stated simply, the human spirit is an energy form that cannot be destroyed. When the human body can no longer host its spiritual being (that it, the body “dies”), the spirit returns to its previous, non-physical, purely spiritual state. I like to think of it as a jump. When my body “gives up the ghost,” as it’s been called for millennia, I will make the jump back into the pure spiritual state. If you want to know why I’m so sure about that, ask me some time.

A well-spent life is one where a person spends sufficient time and energy in preparation for the jump. Part of that preparation is making a few practice jumps—something that can happen in a deep meditative state. Once you pass through the so-called Window of Light (and come back again), you’ll never be the same again.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

October 30, 2016 at 7:55 pm