Here are several log entries that got lost when I moved from one to several separate logs:
Mon Dec 09, 11:47:26 AM
Happiness & Choice
Happiness is a choice. Simple, but not easy…
Happiness comes from within, independent of external situations. It is chosen, or not. Of course, realizing it to the point where there is a real choice, takes skills and practice.
We are thoroughly trained, especially in our western culture, to experience our happiness as completely dependent on external situations. External situations “create” responses and feelings in us, just like a mathematical formula (2+2=4). Of course, this is not true, but it takes insight, practice and patience to turn this around.
Choosing happiness, independent on circumstances, can be learned, and the tools are there. I have found the most effective ones in the Tibetan mind-training (lo jong) teachings. (Lama Zopa’s “Transforming Suffering Into Happiness” is an excellent beginning).
Sun Dec 08, 07:35:25 PM
Dreams of Impermanence
I did a solo retreat this weekend, and had the following dream on the last day:
An experienced diver lead me through a series of underground caverns. They were filled with ice cold water and I wore a dry suit as protection. The opening to the first cavern was a small hole in the ground, and I experienced a surprising amount of apprehension before entering.
The cavern was dark and cold. We dove down, and the floor was lit up by our headlamps. I noticed that the rock looked volcanic and ancient.
The entrance to the second cavern was small, as the first one. The surface was some feet below, and we had to drop down. Diving down, we saw shapes in the rock resembling a petrified city. We saw people in cars, light rail, streets, buildings. It reminded me of cities I have lived in.
The entrance to the third cavern was small, and with a drop to the surface. There, on the floor of the cavern, we saw fossilized imprints of the Earth and many similar planets which had harbored life.
In the fourth cavern, we saw the imprints of a multitude of Universes.
Throughout, there was a strong sense of impermanence: Human civilization, planets and Universes exists only temporarily. Then, there will be no trace of them.
At the last opening, we left the series of caverns and entered a sunlit natural landscape full of life. My guide was exhilarated and joyful.
I was left with a strong sense of the impermanence of everything. Of the importance of making the most out of what we experience at the moment, and the pointlessness of seeking fame and wealth, as there will be no trace left. Most of all, I was left with a sense of urgency in engaging fully in my spiritual practice.
Thu Dec 05, 12:38:21 PM
I had food poisoning over the weekend (from a gift of smoked salmon).
It was an excellent lesson in just being with what is occuring. With no separation, without adding anything. Letting any thoughts (of self-pity, past, future, cause) pass. Holding on to them only added suffering to discomfort.
Extreme situations are often our best teachers, magnifying the patterns of our mind and their effects.
Fri Nov 29, 09:57:05 AM
I have practiced visualizations regularly for about a year now. I was initially skeptical, but have found it a valuable practice, and sometimes remarkably effective. It seems to work in setting a clear direction and purpose, which in turn gives guidelines for choices and actions.
I tend to visualize what I would like in my life, in long and short term.
For health, I visualize general good health, and the healing of specific ailments (e.g. scoliosis, food allergies). For my scoliosis, I visualize a smooth and supple spine, and it has encouraged me to seek out practices and therapies that may bring that about, such as yoga and therapeutic massage. The scoliosis has improved markedly over the months I have engaged in visualization. For my food allergies, it has helped me choose food that is good for me and does not give me reactions.
For relationships, I visualize clear communication, a good connection, and smooth cooperation. I use it with people I interact with regularly, as well as before meetings and other situations where I will interact with new people.
For work, I use it for ease, effectiveness, and efficiency. It has even proved valuable for nitty-gritty tasks such as computer programming. If I get stuck, I go for a walk, clear my mind, and visualize finding the solution with ease. It sometimes works!