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Pangea Day – The Most Poorly Publicized Wonderful Thing EVER!

The idea of nations is dying. Or at least it should be…

The lines we paint on our planet to form nations cause some of the deepest rifts in our humanity. I’ve done a lot of talking about the importance of each of us developing a world view perspective. This is why I’m sad that I only heard about Pangea Day just before it happened. I’m even sadder that I did nothing whatsoever to promote it. But I’m absolutely thrilled I got to be a part of it.

Pangea Day really was absolutely amazing. The 4 hour event featured short films submitted by people around the world, all of which enabled us better see the world through the eyes of “the other.”

Having the world come together – at the same time – to watch the same films – was an amazingly powerful thing. I sat in a room with strangers watching the world talk about itself. We experienced standing up together to do laughing yoga. We also participated in listening to the world’s heartbeat as percussionists from all of the world drummed together.

It was moving to say the least.

I don’t do it justice talking about it. Instead, here’s a few links to some of my favorite films. Check out all of them at www.pangeaday.org… And maybe even pick a cause to help.

My favs:

Pale Blue Dot

Encounterpoint

WalleyBall

Laughter Club

Introduction to Transparency

When something is transparent it is able to be seen through. In this talk I make an effort to show the link between transparency and awareness, making the assumption that awareness is healthy. Transparency is an idea that can be applied to any system to allow that system to behave healthily and naturally. Systems mentioned include self, companies, governments and society in general.

Exposure puts natural pressure on behavior that is only OK behind closed doors. Lies in personal relationships, corporate dumping, dishonest motivations of governments all become fixable when we are aware of them. For us to be aware of them, these systems need to make efforts toward transparency. While it’s true that most entities may not immediately want to become transparent, there are many reasons to motivate them to foster transparency. Companies can become more profitable by fostering internal and external transparency. Governments can run more smoothly and efficiently as well. As more individuals understand this concept and want to foster it, we can bring these ideas to the systems we’re a part of.

We all have emotions to help us make appropriate behavioral decisions. If we allow for too much privacy, we can hide behind walls and bury emotions of shame and guilt. Those feelings would naturally curb behaviors if we were only to remove the walls of privacy. It’s easy to continue doing destructive things if we think no one is watching. Once we know others can see us, natural systems kick in to guide us.

Our legal system is losing the battle of specifics. We can’t write specific laws to govern all action successfully. We need a more elegant and complete idea to work from. Any elegant solution ends up being a simple solution. Transparency offers us a simple central theme to work with any system. It fosters awareness in any size system and helps us all resonate at wider levels of identification.

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Dive In or Drop It

This talk is inspired by the question: In meditation, do we dive into frustration when it arises or do we drop it? I use this question to do an overview of meditation, and then answer at the end.

Meditation is really about state management. We are trying to foster a better state of mind. To do that, we try to become aware of all that we are. What we are ends up being thoughts, emotions, and physical sensations. The investigation of these aspects of our self ends up being our spiritual experience. Many of us begin to meditate to deal with Busy Mind. To quell Busy Mind we try to separate thoughts from emotions and physical experience. That is the practice of meditation.

To become aware of all these aspects of our self we use mindfulness, which is placing the mind on an anchor and leaving it. We fail repeatedly so that we can foster awareness. Where is our mind? What is it doing? As we try to leave it somewhere, it wanders. As we become more aware of that wandering, we wake up more and more. This practice allows our mind the ability to still.

So during this training, and in life, do I dive into frustration, or drop it? What is the real practice here? Well, we actually do both. We dive into the feeling of frustration, the emotion and physical sensation, but we drop the thought of frustration. This allows us to become less attached to our thoughts. That lack of attachment allows us to foster stillness and ultimately gives us more control of our minds. For beginning meditators, the most immediate benefit is combating Busy Mind. As you meditate more and more, the benefits go all the way down.

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Realizing We Have Enough

It makes sense that people who don’t have much feel a sense of lack. It doesn’t make as much sense that people who have tons of stuff, lots of money and means, also feel lack. One point of this talk is that the sense of external lack is driven by an internal lack. If we learn to get our joy from inside, we don’t need these external things to the same extent. Another point is addressing the actual lack in people and places on this planet.

I’ve talked before about the state of consciousness that expresses enlightenment comes from a place of abundance. It has arrived. It has what it needs. It’s interesting to see that the external things we want, all the Christmas gifts, and all the status we shoot for, they are fleeting. As I make a higher salary, I still want a higher salary. There is a treadmill here, and I’m not going anywhere no matter what I get or accomplish. Can we see this fictitious sense of lack and expose it?

Real lack does exist on our planet. There are lots of people without enough food. Lots of people without homes and basic needs being met. But at what point do we realize that we are abundant? For those of us that are not starving, and do have shelter, at what point do we feel abundant? Most of us never do.

This sense of lack drives our governments and our corporations. If we were to realize, deeply realize that we are abundant internally. What would change on this planet? One way we can make a dent in the actual lack on this planet is realizing we have enough both internally and externally. If we have enough, we can begin to share.

One could argue that there has been an evolutionary need for the feeling of lack. In small circles without enough resources the strong survive. But now we can see the entire planet, and we’ve never been able to do that before. We all have enough. There is enough food. There is enough money. For the first time in the history of the world, we can see that there is enough.

Those literal external expressions of lack are probably not fixed only by a redistribution. We can’t necessarily just feed the hungry. Historically that ends up creating more dependence and corruption than help. So the issues of lack are complex. But we have the capacity at this point to realize that we all can make it. In the past only some of us, the strongest of us, were going to be able to make it. But now we have the technology and the capacity to work toward all of us making it. All of us having meaningful and productive lives.

What would change on this planet if we all realized that there is enough? There is enough joy. There is enough food. There is enough money. The world is abundant. We are not stuck. The only thing keeping us stuck is our own erroneous sense of lack.

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Getting to the Beauty

This talk is really an exercise looking at the split between internal/external, and thinking/experiencing. I discuss the words below and ask you to identify with each word as I do.

thinking experiencing
form feeling
outer inner
external internal
different similar
motion stillness
time now
attachment freedom
expectation actual
them us
you we
disconnect awareness

First we go one by one down the rows identifying with each side. Then we look at the left column, and identifying with all those states of being. Lastly we look at the right column.

The point of this is to show that we often find ourselves living external thinking lives only. We should balance that with the internal feeling experience from time to time. Being able to dance freely between these different states of identification is a deep fundamental shift.

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The Pleasure Pain Treadmill

Basic ideas:

  • Seeing that good and bad, or pleasure and pain are in all things.
  • We can use pain to promote change.
  • Ultimately, we can get off the treadmill of pain and pleasure.

Our desire to avoid pain and experience pleasure tends to push us around if we are not paying attention. When we use introspection to learn about the mind we see that we all try to avoid pain and move toward pleasure in everything we do. This is a huge thing to understand fully.

Pain tells us something is wrong, but we tend to overreact and begin to avoid all pain and discomfort. This creates a treadmill of pain and pleasure. Where we are constantly trying to manage our states of mind by moving away from pain and toward pleasure.

We can deal with this three ways:

  • Do nothing.
    • How does this hurt us? Well, if we’re unconscious of it we end up not being very durable. We end up running from any and all pain we see. We might think we deserve no pain, and so whenever it comes up, we feel like we’re cursed or unlucky.
  • Secondly we can learn to use pain effectively.
    • Think of someone who’s life situation is fine, versus someone who is in pain. The person in pain is motivated to change. The person who is fine, may want to change, but will often not go through the bother or work to change because there is really no motivation to do so. This is the first way to use pain effectively. Become aware of it.
    • We can also use pain for gain. This is a way to develop in a worldly sense. It can help us do things like lose weight, or perform better at sports, and evolve spiritually or behaviorally. We can learn to associate pain to things we’d like to change, rather than where they happen to fall. Examples of this might be associating pain with being out of shape, or associating pain to not meditating.
  • Lastly, we can get off the treadmill of pain and pleasure.
    • Pain is inherent in all things. The duality of being shows us that there is both good and bad in all things. Good and bad are facets or opinions of things and situations. So it is unwise to try to always get the “good.” It just won’t work. Seeing this truth is a huge teaching.
    • Learning to accept pain as a part of the experience is a great teaching of meditation. Pain/pleasure treadmill response is the normal human response to being. What would an exceptional response look like? How can we achieve that state? Meditation is one way.
    • We place ourselves in an accepting mode, and train that response to stimuli. Boredom and frustration, and even physical pain can come up during meditation. It is training to learn about the nature of our relationship to pain and pleasure, and ultimately have the ability to get off that treadmill.
    • We learn to stay through different painful events and not judge them. That lack of judging gives us a different, and better, experience of both pain and pleasure. Then we are off the treadmill.

Learning about this allows us to wake up to the understanding that this is how we’re built. We also learn that we can use pain to grow. And lastly, we learn that not fearing pain or being attached to pleasure allows us a deep freedom. Those experiences are a part of the oneness of being. We can learn to relate to them differently.

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Finding the Similarity

It would help us greatly if we decided to look at others for our similarities instead of for our differences. It is very natural to see someone of different color, or ideas, and focus only on the differences. In this show I discuss some examples of how we focus on the differences, and how things might be different if we were to realize how alike we all really are.

When we come from a place of looking first at differences, we tend to assume that everything about the person is different. If we can realize that we are basically similar, and that the differences are in the details and perspectives, then we would have much less conflict in our lives.

The ways in which we are all similar:

  • emotions
  • physical traits
  • needs
  • behaviors
  • we all want to prosper
  • etc.

Focusing on differences is very natural. Similarities seem boring. Of course we all breathe. Of course we all feel fear. Not very exciting stuff. But coming into a situation with that literally on our mind helps us to see things in a cooperative way instead of a conflicting way.

What if nations focused on similarities? What if religions did? How might that change our world?

Show Music: A Lesson In Crime by Tokyo Police Club

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Why We Can’t Hold On To Stillness

In this talk I want to discuss what might be our biggest challenge. To find a state of stillness, and remain productive in the world. How do we accomplish, while remaining present.

Why are most of us unable to hold on to stillness? Many of us can find stillness, but why isn’t it easier to just stay there? This talk assumes that you know what I mean when I say stillness. Some call it big mind, or a state of presence.

I did a talk before called Stillness in Motion. While this talk is similar, it will differ in the level we’re talking about. Stillness in motion was a talk about the feeling of holding stillness while we do things.

I’ve heard Ken Wilber say things like you can’t be in a non-dual state and in a state of duality at the same time. I’d be interested to speak with him about that because I have a deep sense of being still, or in a non-dual state while still seeing and being aware of, and able to function in the world full of duality.

This talk will discuss, and point out that we definitely still have the desire to accomplish and do things. We may drop the attachment to that desire, but we still discern.

At the base of our being is a function of judgement. This judgement leads to most of our discomfort. It puts us on the treadmill of time. Judgement says this situation isn’t as I would like it to be, so let’s change it. It leads to inner becoming. I’m not enough, etc. Many spiritual teachings seem to imply that this is a bad thing. But it’s important that we don’t vilify this idea. We need this function to survive. It’s the same impulse that tells us we’re in danger. It also allows for us to better the world.

We don’t lose the ability to judge when we’re still. I usually begin to describe this judgement as “discerning” to show that there is a difference. It isn’t a lost, deeply judgemental, place that we come from, but we can tell what our preference would be. We do chose to walk, and eat, and talk, etc.

Many stereotypical representations of meditation imply that the meditator is unable to discern when in a deep meditative state. That’s just not accurate. I mentioned before the Burning Monk, who had gasoline (or some flammable liquid) poured over him and lit. Then there was a picture taken of him not moving. While his experience of that might have been different than yours or mine, he still was aware that he was burning. The amazing thing is not some otherworldly state of mind he found, but rather the choice to stay. The discipline to stay.

The trick is going to be to learn to remain still while we judge and think. Can we remain aware while we judge? We need to learn to watch our judgements. The subtle distinction is this: A frustrated meditator learns about a pleasurable state of mind and then catches themselves thinking and discredits all the stillness they achieved. Whereas, a centered meditator finds himself or herself in a thinking state and watches it, thereby remaining centered.

In this world, we have things to accomplish. There is work to be done. In every moment we look at the world and have opinions about how it could be better, things we need, things we want to have, or do, or give. None of that is wrong. It’s really important that we allow for that. There is such a thing as growth. There is betterment.

So is stillness in conflict with betterment? Doesn’t stillness imply that we’re done? While it is an appreciative state, we can be aware of movement, and the need for change while holding on to stillness. Stillness is a state of awareness. One that is realized and awake to the truth of a situation. If there is betterment to be done, do it, but try to remain aware.

Our innate ability and need to create and judge is what’s impairing our ability to remain still. And that’s a wonderful thing. The work we’re here to do is to marry the two. We’re here to blend the duality. We can engage in both experiences, and do our best to remain aware of where we are and what we’re doing.

Referenced: Ken Wilber, and Burning Monk

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Ending Addiction For Good

We’re going to discuss what addiction is, and then talk about how we can come to terms with it and what can we do to stop it.  To do this, I’ll talk about addiction, in broad terms.  Then we’ll do a quick exercise that might help you find what your addictions are.  This could be considered an addiction “workshop”, albeit a very short one.  Then we’re going to discuss the different quality of being that allows for better choices.  That state of mind, one of presence, can help us end addiction.

What is addiction?  Addiction lives on the pleasure pain level of being.  So there will be lots of references to good and bad in this podcast.  What are the different addictions?  Drugs and drinking and smoking, of course, but also watching TV, shopping, eating sugary foods, and working out. Some of these are obviously better for you than others.  Some are manageable, and some aren’t.  Ultimately, addiction can end up really ruining a person, but it’s ugliness doesn’t have to wait for that extreme.  All forms of addiction stem from a choice in attention.

I talk about the unhappiness that becomes so big that we end up choosing to drink or drug because we can’t face the pain.  The problem with this is that the problems grow.  We’re Pavlovian, and want to move toward pleasure.  So it is a slippery slope to not become addicted on some level.  It’s important to watch how we manage our lives.

What happens when we’re addicted?  While responsibilities are piling up, they become completely unmanageable.  We need the courage to face that, and it’s very hard to do.  We usually aren’t motivated enough unless there is enough pain.

How do we stop addiction?  What is the different quality of being that allows for change?  I mention the conscious use of pain, and also the use of being awake.  Those two things will allow us to quit our addictions.

Pain is the reason we change or stop.  It may seem odd that pain may also be the reason we started.  That makes sense when we realize that in the beginning, the thing that makes us feel good hadn’t become painful yet.  So how painful is your addiction?  Can we make our pain unacceptable before it truly becomes unbearable?  That would be like getting free from addiction early.

So here’s how to stop.  You must go into the feeling of the addiction.  When you are faced with that moment of choice, which you’ve just become aware of, how do you make a different choice?  You feel into the feeling of conflict.  You breathe into it.  In that moment you give yourself enough space to make a different decision.  If you choose poorly, just gather data and don’t beat yourself up.  Becoming aware allows us to see the moments.  Those moments, when we see them, we have the power to get free.   We can’t face all our problems at once, we need to face them one at a time.  So this is a constant vigil.  This conflict and the needed attention to it will soften over time.

In conclusion, we need to realize the pain addiction is causing us, and that needs to become greater than the pleasure it gives us.

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The Pressure We Create

We create pressure in our lives unconsciously that can end up making us very unhappy.  Some of these pressures are deeper and some are more superficial.  One person creates a “have to” situation with accomplishments he/she wants to create at work.  Someone else on a daily basis sets up to-do after to-do and then feels bad for what they didn’t accomplish rather than good about what they did accomplish.  Jobs can be self created pressure.  So can houses, cars, and salaries.

We often aren’t able to appreciate our success once it comes, because it tends to move.  I’ve been with successful people and watched them accomplish goals, and rather than enjoy the accomplishment, they immediately and unconsciously create new goals.

So what pressure are you creating?  This talk points out that we can spend time working on, or watching, what pressures we create for ourselves.  The exercise we could do would be to learn to find your self created limits, or pressures.  Once you see what yours are, you may choose to soften them, or you may not.  It’s nice to learn that you can lose your job  You can move.  Your life could be different.  The other side of that is the fact that a conscious goal is a powerful one.  We can choose to work harder for our pressures if we really want to hold onto them.

External pressure is often actually created by us, and thus is internal pressure.  Watch when pressure is created in your life and see if it’s really external pressure.  An interesting point is how unconscious these things become.  We sit and think “Of course I have to do these things…”  It’s good to realize that we can live in the smaller house.  We can drive a cheaper car.  The kids can go to public school.  But they also may not have to.  Becoming aware of our pressures allows us to support them or put them down as necessary.  It’s up to us.