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Posts Tagged ‘meditation

People Who Laugh at Death

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Why do people who receive enlightening experiences have no fear of death? Are they just out of their mind, or do they know something that we don’t know?

GreatAlexander_1x1The correct answer: Some of both.

Enlightenment is an experience that opens avenues in the mind not available to a typical person. Let me be clear: This is not a new-age, pop culture fantasy that came from smoking too much weed. Rather, it is one of the most well-known benefits of Zen meditation, something known and taught by masters over thousands of years.

A long-term practice of Zen typically results in the creation of new neural pathways that allow the practitioner to have out-of-body and out-of-mind experiences during meditation. Now, hold that thought for a minute.

Have you heard about people who’ve had near-death experiences or who actually died, were resuscitated, and who experienced passing through the legendary Window of Light? Enlightened Zen practitioners are people who have visited the Window but without the necessity of dying. They experienced the process of passing through the Window—and then coming back. Quite a few of them are walking around the planet today. We call them “masters.” And you can believe me, they know something other people don’t know—they know there is no such thing as “death.”

Wow, what a life-changing, world-transforming concept. That’s chiefly because when your spirit is on the other side of the Window, it can see things a mortal human cannot see. You’re able to grasp a bigger picture than the ordinary human mind can comprehend. Or can be expressed in our pathetically inadequate human languages. Nevertheless, after you’ve been there, you know that death of the human body is just a transformation. It’s merely the next step. It’s the start of a whole new chapter.

This is why Zen practitioners might giggle during a funeral. It really, really is a cause for celebration.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

May 2, 2016 at 2:14 pm

What is “Mindfulness Meditation?”

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These days we hear a lot about mindfulness meditation. But do you really know what that means? You may have noticed that I never use that term. At best, that terminology is off-target. I’ve tried several times to see if there’s something I’ve missed. But each time I read what various people have to say about it, I come up with muddled meanings and unclear ideas. That doesn’t satisfy me. I want straight answers with clear meanings.

If the teachers who promote mindfulness mean awareness of the mind and what the mind is doing, then I agree in principle. Although, that may also lead many students away from self-development aimed at attaining the true meditative state. Yes, you need to be aware of what your mind is doing, but you also need to train it to be still.

But just being aware of your mind—and, for example, knowing that it’s worrying about your income taxes or changing the oil in your car—is not enough. That will not bring you to the true meditative state. In addition to being mindful, you must also train the conscious mind to be still. You must empty your mind of all thought. You must be wide awake, fully aware, and have an empty mind. That is the true meditative state. That is the Zen state.

Yes, becoming mindful—that is, aware of what your mind is doing—is indeed a necessary step toward learning meditation. But it is not the meditative state. Thus, teaching “mindfulness meditation” might be a disservice to many students.

Go see for yourself. The way of the empty mind is the primary teaching of Buddha, Bodhidharma, the recently departed Osho, and other enlightened masters. You’ll find a synopsis of their teachings in my ebook, Original Zen, on


Written by Eduardo Mitchell

August 18, 2014 at 6:52 pm

Get Over All That Stuff

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“Each experience you hold onto defines your expression in life.  In Yoga/Hinduism it is called ‘samskara;’ the belief that each thought, feeling and emotion leaves one impression on each cell within the body.  Your expression is the sum total of these expressions.  Yoga and mantra are designed to cleanse these impressions, as they often obstruct one from perceiving their true essence.  This is the journey of life, to clear these impressions and perceive ones true nature.”–Yogi Baba Prem
Thanks to the Yogi Baba for permission to reprint the above. English doesn’t (yet) have a word for this sense of samskara, but that knowledge is emerging from neurology, psychology and other disciplines, especially Gestalt. Ergo, the human being is a multi-media recording recording device that runs 24/7 from before birth until after death. The undeveloped person is a raw expression of all those experiences. If you don’t process and organize those experiences consciously, you are the victim of everything that has ever happened to you. As a perhaps humorous example, if somebody smacked you with a fly swatter when you were two, you’ll always have a “thing” about fly swatters. You just need to get over it. Worst of all, you’ll never discover your own depths and your self-nature until you begin healing and growing from your samskara.
The yogi and I travel parallel paths of inner development. His is Hinduism, mine is Zen. Both are paths of healing, growth, and discovery. We both know that discovering your own self-nature is the path to persistent joy and enlightening experiences.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

March 14, 2014 at 11:29 am

Getting Away from Your Body

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Leaving your body for a while is a meditative skill that takes place entirely in the mind. It is something you can learn to do a little bit at a time. Essentially, it means deepening your meditative state, and requires becoming more advanced in your meditation skills. I learned it accidentally over a long period of time. But, when you know what to do and you focus on doing it, you’ll learn it a lot quicker than I did.

Learn, train, read, study, get help from a teacher, and practice until you can achieve the meditative state (totally awake but without any thought) for ten or fifteen seconds each time. Start practicing for fifteen minutes a day for at least five days a week until you can maintain non-thought for a minute. Practice, practice, practice until you can maintain non-thought for two minutes. Learn to really LOVE your practice, and make it an important part of every day until you can stay in the meditative state for five minutes. By this time, in most of your meditations, you will begin sensing small traces of the joy and energy that are always found in the human spirit.

Don’t stop. Use those delicious little tastes of spiritual inner peace to deepen your commitment to the practice. Have many short meditations in your daily life, while standing in line at the checkout counter, during a long traffic stop, whenever you are bored, and every time you get in bed and can’t sleep. When you are a meditator, you eagerly use every episode of insomnia as an opportunity to practice and deepen your meditative state.

Then one day, you’ll discover that you are meditating ten to fifteen minutes each time—with ease. You might reach this stage of your practice in a year or two. Or, depending upon your dedication and consistency, perhaps in a few months. It took me thirty years. But, if I had known what I’ve just written in the two paragraphs above, it would have been much, much sooner for me.

By this point in your practice, you will have developed an ability to block some sensory inputs from your mind—to one degree or another. You’ll know how to block out a distracting noise, perhaps a buzzing insect, or whatever seeks to disturb your meditative state. Then, voila! One day you realize that you can block out the annoying pain in your knee, or the throbbing place where you hurt your hand. Perhaps even a headache. Simply by deepening your meditative state and silently telling the mind to turn off a particular sensory input, you have begun to separate yourself from your body.

As you explore your own mental geography and practice the skill of turning off sensory inputs, you will learn—again, one small step at a time—the art of leaving your body. Generally speaking, each “trip” away from the physical body brings you into the proximity of your own human spirit. There you may discover a vast resource of knowledge and joy like you have never known or imagined.