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Dealing with Death – Ours and Others

We lose loved ones all the time. We hope for an afterlife. The self wants to grow and be powerful and young. It is completely opposed to it’s own extinction. So there is fear and panic around the thought of death for many. In fact, many people can’t even discuss it. But all living things seem to pass away. How do we deal with that?

Today we’re going to talk about death of the body, but also death of the self. We’ll talk about how meditation relates to death, and how putting your life in perspective can be meaningful. We’ll talk about the death of others and how to deal with that. We’ll talk about the desire for an afterlife, and how death really makes everything deeply meaningful. Death is a part of life, so let’s talk about it.

We’ve discussed in the past, that we are not only self. We are also in some way connected to everything. Can that other identity help us deal not only with our own death, but also the death of others, and finally other types of change as well?

All living things die. But we can expand the idea of death from there. Situations die, friends change, we get divorced. All of these things are mini-deaths. We “die” in a different way as well. I am not the same 10 year old boy I once was. That boy is gone forever. So we are all changing. Everything is in a state of change. Death s a kind of change.

Meditation actually teaches us a death of self. We are putting down the ego and just identifying with the big mind. You obviously don’t actually die, and you can retain your “self” as much as you wish, but each time you enter this other mind, you will see it is a death of self in that moment. You will find that this type of practice can change you fundamentally. It can make you more able to deal with change, and hence your own death, and the death of others.

Truly being in the Now is about not thinking about the future. The entire thing is to watch the mind that wants to leave this moment. So in that, the Now becomes much fuller. Our entire attention is on it, and it becomes rich and thick. The understanding of this type of mind leads spiritual leaders to talk about eternity. Many talk about no death, in the death of self. So the temporary idea of you, or your ego, dies in that moment. And what is born is a fuller understanding of timelessness, or eternity.

Pulling away from your life and looking at it on a time line is very helpful and can put your life into a different context. Often we find ourselves just drifting along, but all events are precious, so it can be useful to find that context and check in.

There’s an old saying, or it might have been a viral email that went around way back, about filling a jar with a marble for every year of your life expectancy, and removing one on your birthday. It shows the significance of our lives. That could potentially give a deeper context to your life as well.

The desire for an afterlife comes from the mind that that is unhappy and wants salvation. It also may have been used as a carrot and stick for controlling people. But whether that’s true or not, it is really important to expose the mind that craves a better future, the ultimate of which would be a glorious afterlife.

We think that to stay moral, our culture needs to be held in a “proper space” with the appropriate carrot and stick. Meaning, if I were to take away the idea of living a good life being the thing that gets us into heaven, people might begin to behave poorly because there’s no point in behaving well. The idea of putting down the external carrot and stick scares many people. They immediately image anarchy and insanity ensuing from removing those guidelines. But a sincere morality comes from seeing the beauty that’s here, not a future hoped for beauty.

We need to become OK with who we are, without the hope for a prize. Because fear of not getting the prize does not work as our motivation. Fear based morality will not work. The example of extremists who die to get to heaven also cause great pain and suffering. They want the “prize” too much. Their morality is quite different, but also belief based. Either type of morality doesn’t seem to be working. To be clear, I’m not attacking peoples beliefs necessarily, I’m just saying that the mind that thinks about salvation, or hopes for it, or gets attached to it, is not the healthiest mind. It is ego based, and fear based. Seeing the beauty right in front of us, rather than being controlled by fear will work much better.

Death of others is very hard to deal with. It is very hard to lose a family member or loved one. We are attached to permanence, which doesn’t exist. This is a fault of the egoic mind. While losing things we care about will always be hard, I want to point out that the natural desire for permanence can make dealing with death and change even more difficult. If we realize that nothing is permanent, then we don’t have unrealistic expectations around things like a loved one dying. We need to learn to face non-permanence.

Fear of death and the unknown is enormous. But death makes everything matter. Living forever would take value away from lots of things. You’d be able to take literally forever to master things, so being a master chef as an example would have little meaning. We’d constantly be approaching everyone knowing everything, with no risk because we’d have forever to fix any problems, etc. It would be a very different existence for sure. Certainly different than most people would fantasize. Death is a part of life, and it is something we’ll do well to get more comfortable with.

Show Music: Live At Tonic by Christian McBride

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.

Can We Make It All Sacred

If we want to evolve it would be good to learn that everything is sacred. Using certain objects to wake up is useful, but we need to watch how attached to those objects, places, etc. we become.

What good comes from making things sacred? It is normal to notice certain things as more orderly or beautiful than other things. We tend to make some of those things sacred. But we should watch how we do this. It is a certain type or quality of mind that wants to do this. Again, it’s normal, but normal is not necessarily good. We have the challenge to better ourselves by going for good, without degrading ourselves by getting too attached in the process.

What problems does turning some things sacred create? Good necessitates bad. Many religious wars have been caused by minds too attached to sacred things (Middle Eastern land, etc.). This is also one of the problems with New Age ideas of today. The mind that makes a certain charm, or symbol, or building, or area more sacred than another can become problematic as we get too attached to those objects. The more power we give these symbols as being sacred, the more we have the potential to depend on them.

So is this idea important? I think this has the potential to end wars. If we as a people could see the importance in loosening our attachment to sacred things, or rather, notice that everything is sacred, we could begin to end conflict. No land is better than any other land. Everything has the essence of being in it. Space does, objects do. That awareness is in you, so learn to foster it. Realize that when you are in a mind of preference, that you might be able to look at things differently. You might be able to see that it’s all sacred.

Show Music: Wholeness & Separation by Halou

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.

You Can’t Kill God

This is a talk about fear and fear based teaching.

Any teacher that offers fear should be watched very closely.  There is nothing to fear.  You cannot kill god.  The death of bird, the Exxon spill, 911, tsunami’s and hurricanes, all of it can’t kill god.  We may not understand it, but it is OK.  Even the extinction of the human race can’t kill god.

If we can learn to identify with god-consciousness, we will see that we are a part of the whole.  That realization allows us to not fear things.  We are temporary, but we are part of the infinite.  All things in the infinite will change, but the infinite itself is timeless.

The idea that we need to save the planet is quite funny.  What we really feel is the need to save ourselves.  When we set up the idea that we need protection, we introduce the birth of fear.

The planet will be just fine whether we litter a five feet deep layer on it, or blow craters the size of Texas in the side of it.  It will be fine.  It’s us who feel we need the protecting.  Wildlife extinct itself and yet new species are born.  Change is constant.  I’m not at all saying we should try to extinct things, but as we do, we don’t kill god.

Leave a plot of earth barren or in any horribly assaulted condition and eventually life will come back to it.  We’re getting better at making it barren for longer periods of time, but we still can’t stop life.  Life wants to come forth.  And so it will.  There is nothing to fear.

Fear based teachings aren’t helpful.  We need to learn to grow past fear.  “Bad” actions, like mistakes and killing things come from a fear based mind.  If we open to a fearless state of mind, we will make better choices.  Not a reckless state of mind, but a truly fearless one.

There has always been catastrophic things to fear.  War, famine, sickness, nuclear attacks, etc.  Our current struggles are nothing new.  They won’t end until we evolve past the idea of fear.

We all die, and need to learn not to fear that.  But we most importantly need to learn to live.  The illusion is that we’re not OK.  This world is perfect as it is.  This moment never has anything wrong with it.
Referenced: Tao Te Ching #46

Turning Anger into Compassion

Anger has its place. It is there to move us. It tells us things aren’t right. But we don’t want to get lost in anger. We need to be conscious of it.

Compassion means: Deep awareness of the suffering of another coupled with the wish to relieve it.

There are two phases to turning anger into compassion. Phase one is looking at the situation from the other person’s perspective. Phase two is understanding that people must be in pain to act the way they act.

There are things that people do unintentionally that upset us. Phase one would be to take the time to see things from the other person’s perspective. There is really no need to be upset once we understand that we are all trying to get somewhere in our car. Once we see that that person doesn’t know our situation, and was just acting probably as we would act if we were them. That perspective allows space into the situation. It allows perspective and understanding.

Then there are times when the other person is actually being malicious. They are trying to sabotage us in our work environment, take our job, abusing power, trying to embarrass us in public, or they are treating us poorly in one way or another on purpose. What do we do then? Well, you still use phase one, which is looking at the situation from their perspective. Once we realize that that person is doing something we don’t understand, we try to find compassion.

The way we find compassion is we begin to realize, right now, that people don’t act poorly like that unless they are in pain. Unless they have been wronged in the past.

I will point out that it’s interesting that humans don’t need to be taught to lie. A small child will lie about being caught in the cookie jar all by themselves. But that’s just self preservation, it’s not really malicious.

If we make it a practice to one, look at problems from the other person’s perspective, and two, understand that people are in pain and act poorly because of it, we can turn our own anger into compassion.

Language is a Lie

This talk is about the box of language. The main point is that since we are all one, when we create the separate reality (the one to talk about), we are “lying” to ourselves.

Language creates a box of agreement. But we are still separated by perspective. A smaller point but something we tend to miss. Perspective is what language is trying to relate, but we trust memories as if there was little or no perspective. Again, this is a different point than the main theme, but still important.

Language will always be incomplete. You can’t capture things with language, you can only point. The structure of thinking ends up being a detriment because we tend to remember our judgements about things. The language of the situation. We tend to get stuck in the labeling mind rather than the listening mind. The party was “bad”. But not to someone who enjoyed the party.

Language is a descriptor. It is an abstraction of truth. It adds a layer onto truth. So, what’s the point? Why discuss the box of language? Well, as we’re trying to open our minds, we need to learn that we can think differently.

I discuss the need to talk. The need to fill space with commentary. Truth comes from the act of listening, not speaking.

I also mentioned oneness and unity consciousness. Mentioned the book Cosmic Consciousness by Richard Bucke, and Ken Wilber’s No Boundary. All the greats had this state of mind, or state of being.

Other interesting points: Math is a language. We use words to define other words.

You Don’t Have to Fix It

As we grow and consciously evolve, we will find wisdom in many situations.  However, we should watch how attached to those opinions we become.  We often will want to tell other people how to be, and get very attached to what is “supposed” to happen.

The main point of this talk is that once you find yourself with strong opinions, use that as an anchor to wake up.  Even if you are morally correct, once you are attached to an idea, you start to become just as lost as someone doing wrong.  It is much more important to bring presence to a situation, than the right action.

New-agers often get lost here.  It’s not about getting to the right beliefs, it’s about seeing all your beliefs.  It may be right to not want war, but as we fight for that idea, we begin another war, or argument, or conflict.  That’s when the idea of being right, or fixing the situation breaks down.

We may have opinions about how other people should live, eat, and behave.  All those opinions can come from a deep caring, and our advise can often be sound.  However, when we get too attached to our idea we’ve gotten a little lost.  Learn acceptance instead of righteousness.

Referenced: Joel Goldsmith

Show Music: Building the Bass Castle Vol. I by Voltage

From Form to Feeling

What is the definition of form?  I’m not sure I’ve seen as many different definitions for a word before.  On dictionary.com there are twelve different definitions before moving into forming and other variations of the word.  So what I’ll do is try to tell you how I mean it here…

In the total of experience, if we were to leave that as one thing, there would be no forms.  Forms then arise out of that oneness.  These forms are the things that we separate out, like people, cars, and trees.

So far, they seem to be separate “things” but I want to take that further.  They can also be ideas, and anything else we can name and feel separate from.  They can be a job.  A job has no physical form, but it has an idea form.  Anything that is not us and can be named can be called a form for the purposes of this talk.

A feeling is the experience of a situation, the form is the idea of the situation.  Another way to think of it is that forms seem external to us, and feeling seems internal to us.  All forms are in the thought realm.  Something becomes a form when we give value to a separate entity, giving it a name, etc.

Feeling is open and receptive; it is listening.  Form is naming, or talking.

Two points to make today:

  • There is a literal practice of bringing our attention from the form realm to the experience of feeling realm.
  • When we’re not doing that practice, we become very attached and sad unnecessarily.

We get lost in the idea, or form, of something.  We stick to it past it’s usefulness:

  • salaries – why do we stay in a job when we are unhappy?
  • cars – why do we think they’re beautiful?  What about them do we find beautiful?

“Attached to the idea about something” is how most of us live, but that’s not what we really want.  We want to feel good.  When I believe that money will do that for me I make money my entire focus.  That’s the error.  How many people do you know that are doing jobs they hate because they think they need money?  Do they really know how much money they need?  Have they spent any time trying to figure out where their happiness really comes from?  Wouldn’t that be a better use of their time?

One example of stopping the identification with form can be seen while playing sports.  We can begin to realize that playing a sport is done for the fun of it, not the score of it.  When we get mad at ourselves for scoring a certain way in a game, we’re stuck in the form world.

Another example is when we look at an expensive car and like it, but don’t know why.  We could say we are a little lost in the form world then.  Do we like how pretty it is?  The power in connotes?  Do we know what we like about it?

The fundamental shift is bringing our attention away from forms, beliefs, values, to the feeling of situations, and dancing between those two states.  Ultimately. we could realize that the feeling of a situation is what we really want.

Somewhere we’ve gotten lost in the idea of things instead of the feeling of the moment.

Good vs. Evil

A discussion about duality, morality, and the motion of pleasure and pain.

Story of farmer and his horses shows the relativistic qualities of good and bad.

Judgment is the common theme underneath the motion of time and the attributes of good and bad.

Exercise of pinching your arm can be used to learn to sit in discomfort without judgment.

Duality is born from the self’s original feeling of separation. Me-not me, up-down, in-out, good-bad are all born from that.

Would learning about the relativity of good and bad affect the world?

Anchors of language – learn to watch your own thoughts and words.