Using Desire As Fuel To Life

February 16, 2011 by  
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Read the below post by Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche on the Huffington Post today and wanted to share.

Although having a name that is difficult for most of us civilians to pronounce, the wisdom of his words are nothing but fully inclusive.

In his post Dzogchen discusses the nature of desire; the fuel for every human action.  We desire a good meal, relationship, comfort, pleasure, and all is good.  The difficulties only arise when those desires turn from fuel to obsession.  Wanting to have a better job to feel more engaged is one type of desire.  Wanting a better job just because we want to show how smart, how superior we are, is empty.

Dzogchen writes: “Our desire may be to help others, to create something of transcendent beauty, or to realize union with God. It may simply be to find a perfect love in our life.

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Turning Loss Into Depth And Wisdom

January 15, 2011 by  
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By Angie Rubin

A couple of days ago, I had lunch with a woman who had been my late husband’s friend.  I had seen her once before since his passing two and a half years ago.

The friend wanted to check in with me and again offer her support.  We talked for a while and then the conversation shifted to her brother.  She said we both had a lot in common; he’s a Buddhist – she said. Even though I don’t know her brother, I intuitively knew what she was trying to say.  She was referring to the quality of acceptance.

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Bob Thurman And Happiness

March 15, 2010 by  
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Fantastic Ted Talk by Bob Thurman on happiness. Thurman’s focus is on the balance between inner insight and cultural harmony. In interpreting the teachings of Buddha, he argues that happiness can be reliable and satisfying in an enduring way without depriving others.

He considers Buddhism to be primarily a system of education, a science that guides individuals to live life to its fullest.

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Blah, Blah, Blah

December 14, 2009 by  
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I haven’t had much to talk about lately.  I was in Brazil working on a film for a few weeks and have just come back.

December 13th was my birthday and soon it will be Christmas and New Years.  I don’t have any major plans and would normally be looking forward to hanging with the dogs and watching all the films that come to my door – courtesy of being a member of the Producers Guild of America –  except that I’m feeling Blah.

Let me define Blah.  Blah is when I can’t really complain about anything but don’t have much energy.  Blah is when I’m lacking passion and everything is beige.   Nothing wrong with the color but between you and me, beige is just not exciting.

Am I feeling blah because I have been trying to fulfill all these tasks that I have set myself up to finish before the end of the year?  Make money, write a book, produce a film, write a blog, be good, be descent.   Or am I feeling blah because I’m unconsciously putting on a lid on my feelings as not to have them overflow?  Probably a bit of both.

I brought back a puppy with me from Brazil.  Shai (the new puppy) was a good source of companionship and a receptacle of love for me while I was in Rio de Janeiro but even Shai can’t now keep the blah away.

I’m thinking maybe I need to exercise more.  Sweating and getting a shot of endorphins might help with the blah.  I might even get a Thai massage – nothing like having a person walking and elbowing you to get you going and hopefully help you get hid of the blah.

Maybe what I really need is a bit of dating and dreaming and a bit of hugging and touching.  But how do I do that?  Internet dating?  Can’t hack it.  Too much work and too much exposure.  Looking for Mr. Goodbar?  I’ve never been very good about meeting strangers plus it can be too risky. Friends?  It would be great except that we would have to look at each other in the morning and acknowledge a different level of intimacy that could jeopardize the friendship.  So nope, couldn’t do it.

I wish there was a pill for blah; one that I could walk into a drugstore and tell the pharmacist that I had blah and then wait while he put little white pills into an orange or blue jar.

I think I have a lot of blah ahead of me but I promise if I find a cure I will share as I don’t believe I’m the only blah sufferer around.

It is the season for giving so I have to try my best not to spread my blah around and to not get myself into a situation so as to push my blah away.  Chaos can always distract me from my blah but as I have experienced before it is only temporary and the price is almost always too high.

This whole blah dissertation makes me think of Buddhism which if taken at face value promotes the idea of not reacting one way or another to anything, so the highs are not so high and the lows not so low.  It sounds a bit like blah but I know that is not what Buddhism supports.  I think they actually are more into making one’s existence the center of one’s life so the world doesn’t have such a hold on us.

Of course the demand to be jolly for birthday, Christmas and New Years is of no help to a blah cure.   So I have just decided to take a warm shower and then ride my bike before my blah blah blah sends me into a blah coma.

And please do me a favor.  If you know what to do about blah send me an email or post it on my facebook page or send me a tweet.

P.S.  While having the hot water run over my body I thought that blah is probably the result of not enough stimulus.  We live in a world that everything runs fast and we are bombarded by information and requests.  Our systems are on the go and sometimes when we slow down we go into withdrawal.  So I’m going to breathe deeply and slow down even more and I’m going to connect with the root that keeps me grounded in this planet, my body, and I’m going to observe and appreciate what surrounds me and I know by New Years blah will be just a thing of 2009.

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The Human Mind

November 18, 2009 by  
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I had lunch the other day with a fellow who held a rather dim view of the process of psychotherapy. He referred to its methodology as “hideously inefficient”, while granting that it actually served some valid purpose. A severe case of damning with faint praise. My somewhat defensive response ( I am currently in therapy myself, and there was also a friend present who is a therapist herself ) was that the hideous inefficiency of the process lies mostly within the human mind itself. I thought I was just trying to come up a clever response (which I was ), but it also strikes me that there is something to the idea. After all, the problems that plague the mind don’t lend themselves to fixes that are both quick and lasting. The quick ones, such as mind-altering substances, don’t last, whereas the array of options that hold out the possibility for real growth and transformation are invariably arduous and plodding in nature.

We were on a lunch break from a daylong Buddhist meditation retreat and the comment got me thinking about the innumerable lifetimes the Buddhists speak of in describing the journey toward enlightenment. I wonder whether this fellow has gauged the efficiency of a path that measures progress not in years but in lifetimes. Whether one takes this terminology literally or figuratively it does point to the laborious, lengthy and difficult task of reconfiguring the human mind in a way that accords consistently with a happy state.

The persistence of any of these algorithms or systems – the numerous forms of modern psychotherapy, as well as the variety of ancient spiritual disciplines – that are aimed at the problems of the human mind, points to the fact that human existence is plagued by a set of stubborn problems that simply won’t fade quietly away. The mind seems to be very good at solving an almost unlimited array of worldly problems with great efficiency. However, when it comes to resolving the thorny problems that beset its own nature, it keeps falling down on the job. Which isn’t really a problem at all, so long as we keep on getting up.

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Existential Reverie

June 18, 2009 by  
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I offer no excuse nor any title for this existential reverie

Saw a play by the playwright Eugene Ionesco a few days ago. I guess he is considered to be an existentialist, absurdist, intentionally enigmatic and paradoxical, not for the sake of cultivating an air of mystery, but because those are the tricks that he needed to employ in order to burrow more deeply into life, to get beneath the surface of routines and facades, the way things appear in the light of day. For Ionesco, paradox and enigma were part of a language designed to convey a more accurate representation of the state of affairs man finds himself in. Maybe they are the most accurate means by which to depict human experience, the very points of contact between mystified human consciousness and a fundamentally inexplicable universe. Anyway it seems to ring true. Not that this is an inherently negative, necessarily depressing state we find ourselves stuck in. The willingness to acknowledge the uncertainty that permeates life is conducive to wellbeing simply because it accords with the way things are. The recognition of limits in our own understanding of the world spurs us to investigate, to head out for deeper waters of meaning. There is a saying in Zen Buddhism:

Small doubt, small enlightenment / Great doubt, great enlightenment.

This saying describes a state of mind that is vigilant and engaged, that has confronted the paradoxes and enigmas that characterize existence. Simply being is an inescapable and fundamentally mysterious set of circumstances although we have gotten quite used to it so it seems normal, ordinary, neatly tied up by the big bang on one end and mortality on the other. Well those ends of the known universe seem a bit frayed to me when I manage to bring them into focus. The uncreated creator and his creation are one giant Koan that looms all over the waking world. But rather than casting a shadow, it imparts a fascinating and lovely glow. Paradox has not departed the earth, sealed in the tombs of the old existentialists. It is a reality that is still in vogue, it is here to stay (at least as long as we are). Might as well keep a keen eye on it, revel in it even, and see what emerges when mysteries cleave and bear fruit.

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