Using Desire As Fuel To Life

February 16, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured

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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Wedding Anniversary

August 9, 2010 by  
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I have never been too keen on dates but August is a difficult month for me.  August 15th marks two years of my husband’ passing.  August 26th is my forth wedding anniversary but the groom won’t be present.

Without me realizing the weight of these two dates have sneaked up on me and I grief for the man who used to walk around the Silver Lake reservoir singing with me theme songs I had authored for our dog.

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Learning to Appreciate What We Already Have

June 26, 2010 by  
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“All appears to change when we change.” -Henri-Frédéric Amiel

“…our moment-to-moment happiness is largely determined by our outlook.  In fact, whether we are feeling happy or unhappy at any given moment often has very little to do with our absolute conditions but, rather it is a function of how we perceive our situation, how satisfied we are with what we have.” – Dalai Lama

It is okay for us to have dreams and work towards achieving them but having an appreciation for our already achieved accomplishments is what gives us a sense of well being.  If our eyes are always in the future, then our present has no value and we feel depleted and dissatisfied.  Life is meant to be lived in the present.

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How To Stop Being Self-Destructive

June 25, 2010 by  
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heart on the beach

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.” Jalal ad-Din Rumi

Why are we so self-destructive?  Often the answer is fear. Somehow we are afraid of both succeeding and failing in the things we consider important and we turn to aggression and self-destruction as a way of keeping us from truly going after what we desire.

This life dynamics starts early in our development.  Think back to when we were kids and we liked the girl in pigtails or the boy with the banged up knees.  Most of us pulled the girls’ hair or ignored the boy instead of demonstrating how much we like them for fear of being exposed and rejected.

While that behavior can be cute when we are ten years-old it is destructive when we are adults.

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Robin Hood And Me

May 15, 2010 by  
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I went to see Robin Hood last night.  I’m not a film critic so I won’t be reviewing the film here but want I want to talk about, is how it tugged at my romantic strings.  Now I am by all accounts an independent and strong woman but I wanted to be Lady Marian so Robin Hood could come and rescue me.  I left the screening with a want in my heart for my courageous, strong and sexy man to kick my door down so we could get going in living happily ever after.

It’s really interesting how these hero stories, built on archetypal characters, still have such emotional impact even after we have lived life and learned differently because the truth is while Robin is courageous, strong and perfect in reality he would also have many other traits that are not so attractive.  Also, in reality, once the excitement of hugging, kissing and making love to a person wears out, if the relationship is to survive, it has to become about love, trust and commitment.  It almost sounds like a let down but it really isn’t.  When I talk about commitment, I’m referring to committing to see the other person, to give them our time, attention and in return get the same.  I’m talking about caring for the well being and happiness of the other and in return getting the same.  And I’m talking about having compassion for the other and in return getting the same. Nothing boring about that, because a “good” relationship produces a sense of emotional safety based on the time, caring and compassion given to each other. Read more


Steps to Love according to WikiHow

June 28, 2009 by  
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Love is a strange thing.  It can be the most amazing feeling in the world, or it can really hurt, but in the end love is something most, if not all of us, will face. It does not make you a bad person to desire someone else’s love, even if they do not love you.  However, to truly love someone, you must let them be free.  It is selfish to blame them for your feelings.  While there are many different ways to define love and there are many different ways to love someone (even yourself),  here is a general guide to loving.


1.     Say it. When you say the words “I Love You”, they should carry with them the desire to show someone that you love them, not what you simply want to feel. When you say it make sure you really mean it and are willing to do anything for that special person.

2.     Empathize. Put yourself in someone else’s shoes. Rather than impose your own expectations or attempt to control them, try to understand how they feel, where they come from, and who they are. Realize how they could also love you back just as well.

3.     Love unconditionally. If you cannot love another person without attaching stipulations, then it is not love at all, but deep-seated opportunism (one who makes the most of an advantage, often unmindful of others). If your interest is not in the other person as such, but rather in how that person can enhance your experience of life, then it is not unconditional. If you have no intention of improving that person’s life, or allowing that person to be themselves and accepting them as they are, and not who you want them to be, then you are not striving to love them unconditionally.

4.     Expect nothing in return. That doesn’t mean you should allow someone to mistreat or undervalue you. It means that giving love does not guarantee receiving love. Try loving just for the sake of love. Realize that someone may have a different way of showing his or her love for you, do not expect to be loved back in exactly the same way.

5.     Realize it can be lost. If you realize that you can lose the one you love, then you have a greater appreciation of what you have. Think how lucky you are to have someone to love. Don’t make an idol of the person you love. This will place them under undue pressure and will likely result in you losing them.


Darkness Within Darkness

June 17, 2009 by  
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The tao that can be told

Is not the eternal Tao.

The name that can be named

Is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.

Naming is the origin of all particular things.

Free from desire, you realize the mystery.

Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations.

Yet mystery and manifestations arise from the same source.

This source is called darkness.

Darkness within darkness.

The gateway to all understanding. 

          – Lao Tzu (571? – ? B.C.E.)

In this poetic reflection on the Tao, written over 2500 years ago, Lao Tzu addresses matters of ultimate reality, and aspects of the human condition that are essentially unchanging. Of course, the particulars of human life have changed dramatically over the course of the past 2500 years; advances in technology, a scientific framework of understanding, as well as many societal customs, comprise circumstances that differ greatly from those of Lao Tzu’s era. One major difference, pertaining to the theme of this poem, involves the degree of connection that the average person experiences between the natural world and daily life. In Lao Tzu’s age, nature was not perceived in the abstract, as a domain that existed “somewhere out there”, at a safe remove from one’s living room. There were no towering cityscapes to obscure the limitless expanses of the natural world from view. It was the sphere within which the whole of human life unfolded, from birth to death. Connection to the living earth, to its creatures, and its forces of climate and weather, was viscerally felt; these were the immediate determinants of experience that gave the world its shape.

Similarly, the Tao of which Lao Tzu speaks does not refer to an abstract concept, a comforting notion that bestows harmony upon the world. Rather, this Tao is discerned in the encounter with the physical world that surrounds and dwarfs human beings – and the cosmos beyond it, that dwarfs everything else. It is in directly confronting this natural vastness that the mind is overwhelmed by a sense of incomprehensibility, by the appearance of inexplicable questions that seem to reverberate through all existence. Such questions bring a sweet metaphysical ache to the mind that has been transfixed by them. They take the form of koans such as “How can any of this be?” This poem is Lao Tzu’s response.

“Free from desire, you realize the mystery. / Caught in desire, you see only the manifestations”, writes Lao Tzu; that is, we see with a limited view, aware only of the phenomena that our senses take in and convey to the mind. Caught in the grasp of gnawing desires we are distracted, in a state of disharmony that leaves us unable to perceive the presence of “mystery”, the essential reality that inhabits all things. This essence, “the eternal Tao” and its recognition or discovery amidst the world, are the central themes that shine across this poetic statement.

How is it that desire can place such blinders upon the mind, obscuring awareness of the awe-inspiring and mysterious Tao that Lao Tzu understands to be at the heart of all things? How do the habitual longings that dwell in our minds, alter our daily encounter with the world, negating the sensibility of wonder that Lao Tzu tells us would otherwise be present. It is the nature of desire to demand attention, to siphon and divert it from the encounter with present reality. Its binding power generates a mental state that is narrowly focused upon the objects of desire that do not appear in the current picture of the world – the stuff of greener grass and bluer skies. A mind so enthralled is intent upon altering this picture to accord with the images of its imagination and dreams, notions toward which the universe is generally indifferent.

The tendency to wish for certain conditions to be otherwise is the definition of dissatisfaction, or Dukkha as it is referred to in the Buddhist tradition. It is regarded as the central dilemma of human life, depriving us of happiness, rendering us unable to perceive the mysterious fullness and abundance that surrounds us. It is in proportion to the intensity of the forces of our own cravings, of our hankerings and yens, that Dukkha enters and dominates experience. This is the mental ballast we schlep on the path to enlightened experience. I believe it was also Lao Tzu, (or someone that played him on TV) that said – it is only our Yens that keep us from our Zens.

Lao Tzu’s poem is not a moralistic verdict on the human condition. It is an analysis of the encounter of the human mind with reality, an examination of how structures of human consciousness and embodied existence impose barriers to the encounter and comprehension of reality in its ultimate form – the eternal Tao.

The terms Lao Tzu has used to convey this theme are significant: “manifestation” and its shadowy twin “mystery”. “Manifestation” refers to the mundane world that is driven by cycles of production and consumption, by concerns for achievement and accolade. In contrast, “mystery” points to an experience of the world that is born of gratitude and reverence, based on the recognition of an enduring aspect that underlies all things. This quality has been given various names – the ground of Being, Godhead, ultimate reality, Emptiness, the eternal Tao – each tradition responding to the encounter with reality on its own terms. Or it has simply been acknowledged as the very fact or condition of existence.

The realization of the “mystery” of Lao Tzu’s poem involves an approach to life that is primarily concerned with an experience of being (rather than with the ceaseless pursuits of “doing”), and the ultimate reward of happiness that this ordering of ones affairs brings. Such attainment is not rooted in belief or tradition; it is grounded entirely in experience. As Lao Tzu has made clear in his opening stanza, “The tao that can be told / is not the eternal Tao. / The name that can be named / is not the eternal Name.” Attempts on the part of the world’s traditions to enshrine the Tao in texts or rituals, lead only to its entombment. It cannot be sealed in form or formula; it will ever evade verbal and conceptual captivity.      

Lao Tzu’s passage which speaks of the “Darkness within darkness.” is the most enigmatic of lines. It expresses a paradox of concealed illumination, implying that wisdom is available through the navigation of these regions. The unenlightened mind can only speculate as to the nature of this statement. Is he describing a mind that has emptied its own vessel, attained a state of clarity that is coextensive with the “Original Mind” of which Zen tradition speaks? 

“…you realize the mystery.” is another enigmatic statement. It does not suggest an unraveling but rather an entry, or immersion into the midst of the unknowable. Again, it is reminiscent of the Zen tradition in which attainment of a state of “Great Doubt” is considered the springboard for “Great Enlightenment”.

In this poem, Lao Tzu has drawn a clear line of demarcation between two disparate orders of human experience. “Yet” he goes on to say “mystery and manifestations / arise from the same source.” – that is “darkness”. In the Buddhist tradition this common origin is referred to as emptiness, the undifferentiated source from which all phenomena emerge. It is in this opaque region that “The gateway to all understanding.” evidently lingers. By pointing to their original unified state, Lao Tzu brings about a synthesis of these seemingly disconnected facets of the world. It is a reminder that the life of the spirit unfolds within the sphere of daily human experience. There is nowhere else for it to go, or to be.


Wikipedia’s Love

June 5, 2009 by  
Filed under Featured

Love is any of a number of emotions and experiences related to a sense of strong affection and attachment. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure to intense interpersonal attraction. The word love can refer to a variety of different feelings, states, and attitudes, ranging from generic pleasure (“I loved that meal”) to intense interpersonal attraction (“I love my girlfriend”). This diversity of uses and meanings, combined with the complexity of the feelings involved, makes love unusually difficult to consistently define, even compared to other emotional states.

As an abstract concept, love usually refers to a deep, ineffable feeling of tenderly caring for another person. Even this limited conception of love, however, encompasses a wealth of different feelings, from the passionate desire and intimacy of romantic love to the nonsexual emotional closeness of familial and platonic love to the profound oneness or devotion of religious love. Love in its various forms acts as a major facilitator of interpersonal relationships and, owing to its central psychological importance, is one of the most common themes in the creative arts.

From a scientifically testable frame of reference, love is a type of interpersonal relationship where mutual assumption of good faith results in a state of emergence, i.e. constituents individually perceive the group’s social evolution as both beneficial and greater than what could be achieved by the sum of the relationship’s parts.

Biological sciences such as evolutionary psychology, evolutionary biology, anthropology and neuroscience have begun to explore the nature and function of love. Specific chemical substances such as oxytocin are studied in the context of their roles in producing human experiences and behaviors that are associated with love.

Evolutionary Psychology
From the perspective of evolutionary psychology the experiences and behaviors associated with love can be investigated in terms of how they have been shaped by human evolution. For example, it has been suggested that human language has been selected during evolution as a type of “mating signal” that allows potential mates to judge reproductive fitness. Miller described evolutionary psychology as a starting place for further research: “Cognitive neuroscience could try to localize courtship adaptations in the brain. Most importantly, we need much better observations concerning real-life human courtship, including the measurable aspects of courtship that influence mate choice, the reproductive (or at least sexual) consequences of individual variation in those aspects, and the social-cognitive and emotional mechanisms of falling in love.” Since Darwin’s time there have been similar speculations about the evolution of human interest in music also as a potential signaling system for attracting and judging the fitness of potential mates. It has been suggested that the human capacity to experience love has been evolved as a signal to potential mates that the partner will be a good parent and be likely to help pass genes to future generations.