Finding Inner Calm and Deeper Wisdom

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Posts Tagged ‘Zen 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

Take What You Want, Take What You Need

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The practice of Zen meditation is self-administered and self-regulating. There’s nobody telling you what to do. You might increase your practice—or maybe even neglect it for a while—depending on what’s happening in your life. There is no guilt associated with how much or how little you practice. You just take what you need.

I’ve noticed that many of my church-going friends need a certain amount of regulation. They need to be told what they should do. And they even appear to need to feel guilty when they don’t do it. I imagine carrying the guilt for a while makes them feel even better when they finally do get to church. That’s okay with me. I accept what they need, and I certainly have no interest in trying to change them.

My purpose in life, as was given to me, is to give others who ask for it what I was given. I like that. I like that I was not instructed to go forth and be a disciple to save the world. Or any kind of religious nonsense. I don’t have to be a missionary. I don’t have to recruit people into a belief system. For years now, all I’ve done in fulfillment of my challenge is write this blog and publish a few books. Once in a while somebody shows up and wants some coaching with their meditation. No problem.

If a Zen practitioner’s life gets tough, he or she will increase the length and number of meditations. And when things are going smoothly, a practitioner is likely to slack off a bit, maybe just to enjoy life a bit more. After all, Zen encourages a moderate amount of responsible hedonism. Interestingly, some practitioners develop their own need to meditate daily. That’s okay; take as much as you want.

Now, aren’t you glad you don’t have to come here once a week and listen to me preach?

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

January 17, 2016 at 3:37 pm

Uh Oh, Where’s My Body?

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This morning a humorous situation happened to me. I had an early supine meditation that was deeper than usual. I can do supine only in the morning when I’m thoroughly rested; otherwise I fall asleep. It was so peaceful that I wanted to come out very slowly. Then for some reason I stopped right on the edge, just before the conscious mind goes active.

HapiWithSignIn case you’re interested, that state of mind has a name: hypnagogia. It’s that state of mind where you sometimes have a flash of brilliance or one of those eureka moments of discovery. It works because the conscious mind is quieted, and you’re listening to parts of the brain you normally can’t hear. And it usually lasts only a moment or two.

Unless memory fails me, today was the first time in my life I was able to stop right there—on the border between the Zen state and being awake—and then stay there for a while. Believe me, it is a magical place. But then, I had a short moment of anxiety when I realized I couldn’t feel any connection to my body.

What an incredible feeling that was! I became aware that “I” (whoever that is) was floating in a warm comfortable place without a body. I was awake and aware of being, but not aware of my physical body, and of course not thinking. Somewhere nearby, I could feel the urge of my conscious mind to start thinking. I sent a message telling it to relax.

Now, hours later sitting here at my computer, I can think about the experience and write about it. But at that time I was only noticing, not thinking. One of the first things I noticed was the sublime joy and peace of being without any connection to the physical world. At one point my silly conscious mind blurted, “Are we dead?” which, as I remember, made me want to chuckle.

In a while, the conscious mind’s question came more into focus. Was I dead? I widened my noticing to see if I could pick up anything. Voila, I felt my heart beating. Ahah! My body is still alive. Then I noticed the pulsation of blood pressure radiating out from my heart, especially coming up into my head. I was feeling the carotid artery. But as far as muscles were concerned, they were all asleep.

Then I noticed pulsations of heartbeat in my fingertips. But I did not feel any sensation coming back from my feet. Maybe that’s because the feet are so much farther away. Oh, and then I noticed the slight rise and fall of my chest. Something was making me breathe and my heart beat, but I couldn’t detect the source. My meditative state wasn’t deep enough to reach the autonomic nervous system. I’ve read that some masters can do that.

Soon I began to feel the meditative state slipping away from me. Alas, I would have to go back to life in the real world. And sure enough, my conscious mind leaped into action and started planning how I was going to write this piece. But before I moved—while I was still physically inert—I took the time to relish those last few moments of peace and relaxation.

What I experienced today might be a little preview of what it’s like when the body dies. I discovered the human spirit can be at peace when it departs the body. There’s nothing to fear.

Seeking Spirituality

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These days I hear a lot of people who say they’re leaving religion behind and seeking spirituality instead. Ah, those are sweet words to my ears. It’s my opinion that spirituality—true spirituality—is more rewarding and satisfying to the individual, and may possibly contribute to world peace. Why? Because religion divides people against each other, whereas knowledge brings people together. True spirituality comes as a result of receiving knowledge. And knowledge is at the opposite end of the scale from religion.

You will not find true spirituality in church.

The whole matter of seeking spirituality depends on the seeker’s definition of the word. If your definition of spirituality is what you get from worshiping a mythical deity and reading the scriptures people have written about it, then yes, church is for you.

However, most seekers would rather find something real. Something with real-world benefits. They don’t want to be forced to accept dogma, to believe something that other people invented—which is the case with all religions.

Opening the door to spirituality is done by discovering your own human spirit. It’s just that simple. Your human spirit is found only by going inward. You won’t find it in a church. And you won’t find it by reading scriptures. Nor will you find it by listening to preachers. For that matter, you won’t find it by listening to anybody. Instead, you find it by going to a quiet place, sitting still, and stopping your mind. It’s called meditation.

You don’t need help from anybody unless you are unable to quiet your mind. That seems to be the greatest hurdle for most beginning seekers of spirituality. If that’s the case with you, start off by reading a few books by people who themselves have had success with meditation. And if you need even more help, seek out one of those writers (who is still living), and ask for help.

Written by Eduardo Mitchell

September 15, 2015 at 10:37 pm