BREAKING THE HABIT

All bad habits must be broken! Otherwise they become addictions that you can’t control! And then they dominate your life! And make you miserable!

Thinking is an addiction – it’s a habit of the mind that must be broken – and the only way to stop a bad habit is to quit it! So meditation is the practice of NOT THINKING – until you’re no longer addicted to it! Thinking dominates your life and dominates your mind and dominates your consciousness – all you can think about is your next thought! And you don’t even think that you can do anything about it – or that you should – and you think you’re a hopeless victim of your own mind – with no way to stop it and no way out!

Even just the thought of not thinking your next thought brings on fear, anxiety and boredom! And doing nothing becomes absolutely impossible! And you become absolutely panic-stricken! And doing nothing becomes your greatest adversary and your greatest friend!

Freedom is not freedom for the mind – it’s freedom from the mind! True freedom is being liberated from the mind – and it’s grip on your consciousness – and the grip of anxiety that has dominated your whole life!

And it all boils down to practice and training!…

BREAKING FREE FROM THE GRIP OF ANXIETY – THE 4 ANTIDOTES

“Some of us need to discover that we will not begin to live more fully until we have the courage to do and see and taste and experience much less than usual. There are times then when in order to keep ourselves in existence at all we simply have to sit back for a while and do nothing. And for a man who has let himself be drawn completely out of himself by his activity, nothing is more difficult than to sit still and rest doing nothing at all. The very act of resting is the hardest and most courageous act he can perform.           -Thomas Merton

 

Breaking free from the grip of anxiety is almost impossible. The anxiety-ridden mind is like a vice grip that will never let go. And as Thomas Merton has pointed out we are constantly being drawn out of our center by all the constant activity going on in our hectic lives. And after years of working on yourself, reading all the self-help books, taking all the seminars and workshops, and every kind of medicine out there, you always find yourself back at square one. And the reason is that you haven’t gotten down to and addressed the root cause of it all. So you will just go around in circles, spinning your wheels and getting nowhere fast. The root cause is your own mind and your only hope is to get in there and stop it. And that’s where the 4 Antidotes come in:

1. Sitting still
2. Doing nothing
3. Abiding in silence

4. Witnessing

At first, these ideas may seem as impossible as breaking free in the first place. But as Thomas Merton says we must have the courage to actually sit still, do nothing, abide in silence, just watching. Practicing these techniques takes a lot of courage, strength, and discipline, but it’s the only thing that really works because it’s the only way to actually address the anxiety-ridden mind. And after a while you will actually start to love doing this work and you will crave it. You begin to find that you can’t wait to sit, and that’s when you know that your discipline is really working…

BASIC TRAINING

“Discipline is freedom!” – BuddhaBarry

 

When I was in the Army I had to go through a vigorous program called BASIC TRAINING designed to save my life if I ever had to go into battle. It was mandatory. I had no choice. And it was a blessing in disguise. I developed an exercise program that I have been doing ever since which has keep me in shape for my whole life. (And helped me to keep up with my three kids!) And the blessing in disguise is that when you are forced into doing a discipline – it works! And you develop the NECESSARY STRENGTH you need to do this work on this path. Joe Pearce has a great phrase – MUSCULAR MINDEDNESS. I call it the INNER PUSHUPS. We get that have to go to the gym to exercise our muscles but we don’t get that we need to discipline and exercise our minds. And I say that this is our only problem, our only obstacle on the path. There is nothing wrong with you and there is nothing wrong with the path you are on. It’s just a matter of having enough strength, stamina and endurance to do the work. When you force yourself to actually sit down, sit still and do nothing, at first is seems absolutely impossible. But in making the effort it’s like an inner pushup and you begin to develop your inner muscles, and after awhile you find that it becomes easier and easier. After I had been doing this discipline for some time, I actually couldn’t wait to sit. This is what the first three months is all about. This is BASIC TRAINING – developing the necessary strength you need to succeed in battle. And you must realize that this is actually a matter of life and death – yours! And you must win! That’s why I love to say that PERSONAL BEST IS MANDATORY!  In THE WAY OF THE PEACEFUL WARRIOR (Millman) & SHAMBHALA: THE SACRED PATH OF THE WARRIOR (Trungpa) they understand that this is an inner war that is raging in your mind and controlling your life and you must be able to stop it to save your life and return yourself to the peace, love, clarity and happiness you deserve…

Welcome to the path…

TOTAL MINDFULNESS

Mindfulness is the new buzz word on the spiritual path. Everyone is into it. It’s sweeping the planet. And rightfully so because it is the key to all spiritual progress. But in this world of spiritual materialism how can you be sure that your ego is not co-opting it for its own sake and jeopardizing your work. Only TOTAL MINDFULNESS works. Any other approach leaves plenty of room for your ego to secretly maintain itself. I call it selective inattention or selective mindfulness or BLINDFULNESS! It’s the A LA CARTE approach. You let your ego pick and choose what it likes or dislikes about the Path and disregard the rest – unaware that that is exactly what your ego wants and ironically your suffering continues as you blindfully go down the self-improvement path. It’s all or nothing. Bringing mindfulness to everything you do 24/7 is the only way to insure that your ego is not in control. There’s a great story about a Zen Master who calls in three of his disciples and hands them each a chicken and says: “Go and kill your chicken where no one can see!” Soon they all came back and the Master called to the first one and asked: “Where did you kill your chicken?” “Behind the barn,” he replied. Then he asked the second one: “Where did you kill your chicken?” “Behind the tree,” he replied. Then he came to the third disciple who was standing there still holding his chicken in his hand. He said: “I told you to go and kill your chicken where no one can see. Why are you still holding your chicken?” “Master” he replied, “wherever I go the chicken can see!” When your mindfulness practice embraces your whole life you begin to extricate yourself from your ego and you begin to see clearly and you begin to notice every little thing you do. This is TOTAL MINDFULNESS.

Do you want a blind chicken?…

SURRENDER

“If you’re not who you think are – how can you defend your position?”

You must give up! You must surrender! But this concept is the hardest to swallow. Maybe that’s why Eckhart Tolle saves the chapter on Surrender in his monumental book THE POWER OF NOW for last. As I have said before WORK is a 4 letter word in this world. But only DISCIPLINE IS FREEDOM! There are no shortcuts. If you’re not who you think you are, then everything you think, you feel, you do maintains the illusion of the false self. That’s why it’s so essential to commit and surrender to a discipline that works. Otherwise, you’re just hiding in ambiguity under the cover of spiritual materialism – thinking that you’re working on yourself while secretly maintaining yourself. It’s a vicious cycle. That’s why ZEN RENOVATION works. It rips you down to the studs. And then there is no place to hide. Only then can you get your house in order. In this world of EGO there is nothing worse than thinking about surrendering. The entire course of civilization and of our own personal development is all about maintaining a strong sense of self. That’s why true surrender goes completely against the grain. It’s counterintuitive. It’s frightening!  And that’s why the ego thinks of a million reasons not to surrender – only to end up procrastinating your own path. But once you see that you are actually getting in your own way – that everything you think, feel and do is actually perpetuating your own suffering – you stop it – you give up – you surrender…This is the hardest work of the path. This is the ultimate challenge…

SILENCE

“Abide in silence.”  – Swami Muktananda

Silence is golden. Silence is the key. Silence is the key to the doorway to the Kingdom of Heaven which is within you. Eckhart Tolle (The Power of Now) calls these doors “portals.” And he says that we can not access these portals because of all the “mental noise” going on in our heads which prevent these doors from opening. “Unless ye be converted and become SILENT ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven!” There are no shortcuts. You can not think and talk your way in. There is no Tower of Babel or Stairway to Heaven. This is why the path is so difficult, because at first it seems almost impossible. Achieving silence is beyond belief! The mind just never stops. It seems hopeless. And this is your only hope. Only in embracing despair and hopelessness do you actually begin to do the work. And this is why basic training is so important, because without the necessary strength it actually is impossible to achieve silence. So we sit still and do nothing for long periods of time. What we are doing is actually practicing being silent. We’re so used to talking and thinking 24/7 that we don’t even realize that there is anything wrong with it. And after a while you suddenly have a fleeting glimpse of silence and you get so excited you start talking over it and the moment’s gone. And this is where the ongoing practice comes in. You just go right back to your breath and carry on…The idea is to elongate these fleeting glimpses into long periods of time…to bask in silence…to enter the Kingdom…and then the tears will roll down your cheeks…

YOU’RE THE BUDDHA

If you hold up a rose
And you smile –
You’re the Buddha!
If tears come to your eyes
While you eat –
You’re the Buddha!
If you’re happy
And there’s a smile
On your face
Because of absolutely
No reason whatsoever –
You’re the Buddha!
If you’re awake –
You’re the Buddha!…