Awakin.org

Waking up to Wisdom
In Stillness and Community

Previous Comments By 'rahul_brown'

Small Graces, by Kent Neburn

FaceBook  On Dec 1, 2017 rahul wrote:

 Enoughness of small graces is a paradox, akin to the concept of human perfection.  Shunryu Suzuki summed it up perfectly when he said, "Each of you is perfect the way you are ... and you can use a little improvement."  When we consider human evolution, paying attention to all the little things that are not quite right is what allowed our ancestors to survive on the savannah, whereas basking in the gratitude and sufficiency of small graces might lead to inattention toward fundamental survival threats.  In the modern world, we must balance the ever-rising tide of hedonic adapation-- where we get so used to every new comfort and advantage that it ceases to bring us joy-- with gratitude for both the blessings and challenges we encounter.  In my personal experience, this is very difficult to do without both a meditation and a gratitude practice.  Meditation is what trains and restrains the momentum of the powerful subconscious mind that operates wildly like our ancestors from the savannah.  Gratitude is the precious food that puts a higher clarity and perspective in charge.

 

With Fullness in Life, Everything is Possible, by Facundo Cabral

FaceBook  On Jul 17, 2016 rahul wrote:

Another way of re-stating this is that life is offering sufficiency at every turn for the task at hand.  Our distractions keeps us unaware of the underlying ebb and flow, and never quite clear enough to know our purpose in the moment because of the momentum of the past or the grasping for the future.  We experience that dissipation and energetic gap as depression.  For all those who face some form of clinical depression, the question I hold is whether depression preceded thought, did thought precede depression, or do they arise together and support one another?  Do we believe what we experience, or do we experience what we believe?  I suspect that getting to the bottom of these questions will create the space and energy to rise from the downward spiral we experience in depression.

 

Staying In Your Own Business, by Byron Katie

FaceBook  On May 16, 2014 rahul wrote:

This reminds me of the classic 'circle of influence' and 'circle of concern' which is always a superset of the first.  Our greatest power is always in our circle of influence, but we often discount the tremendous ripple power of authentically inhabiting that limiting circle.  As the Servicespace ecosystem often says, "Change yourself, change the world."

 

Maybe, Said the Farmer, by Author Unknown

FaceBook  On May 11, 2014 rahul wrote:

I've heard humility defined as, "Suspending judgment to allow what is, to arise."  How natural it is for the farmer to be humble, how difficult for us, with our multiplicity of wants, needs, desires, and views.  Remembering personal history, and how often things which seemed like victories came with barbs and traps, while that which often felt like defeat was actually a gateway to brighter vistas is of great help to me in staying balanced with the present moment.

 

Beyond the Conflict of Inner Forces, by Cherokee Story

FaceBook  On Feb 1, 2013 Rahul wrote:
Loved the extension of this story back to its original roots.  Made me think of whether we can apply the same analogy to the external world i.e.  we have unsavory characters who embody the black wolf more than the white in many parts of our workplaces and official institutions.  Is this a wise choice, mindful of the wisdom of this passage?  Is the black wolf within, and the black wolves without, content not reign supreme and dominate the white wolf?  Personally, I am unsure, but I once heard of people complaining to a well-known saint about mischief done by unsavory characters in her organization.  Her response was that she had to keep them close, or they'd create much more mischief in the outside world.
 

Is the Universe Friendly?, by Albert Einstein

FaceBook  On May 6, 2012 rahul wrote:

A true friend is one who acts for your benefit.  So before you can answer whether the universe is friendly, you must deeply consider both the nature of what benefits you most and the question of who or what "you" are. If your concept of self is individualistic, then achievements, ambitions, dreams, fame, power, possessions, pleasures, successes, etc are the things that seem to benefit you the most.  From this lens, the universe is a decidedly unfriendly place, as all of these things come into your grasp only fleetingly, with circumstance, people, or time ultimately snatching or shattering them all.  Most of us begin our journey's as true believers in an individualistic self, only to be repeatedly crushed or slowly sapped by the universe until we're thoroughly convinced that we've swallowed a flawed or incomplete picture. If you begin with the truth that all you have will be taken from you, then you are forced to re-evaluate your notion of self and self-benefit.  The interconnection and interdependence you witness from acceptance of the inescapable impermanence around you and inside you are a pleasant ways of saying that you will both eat and be eaten in every domain of your existence.  Your first food was your mother's body through nursing, and this eating and being eaten were filled with affection, joy, even pleasure for both.  If you can get past the guilt of eating and the fear of being eaten, you begin to touch the joy of witnessing the flow of life.  And the more you witness that joy, the more it seems to be the only thing that makes sense about who you are and why you're here. The universe manifests you, maintains you for a while, and then mercilessly chews and crushes you until you have no choice but to burst with joy and wonder at every second and every square inch of the humming, buzzing symphony of existence.  And that chewing is probably the most friendly thing that's ever happen  See full.

A true friend is one who acts for your benefit.  So before you can answer whether the universe is friendly, you must deeply consider both the nature of what benefits you most and the question of who or what "you" are.

If your concept of self is individualistic, then achievements, ambitions, dreams, fame, power, possessions, pleasures, successes, etc are the things that seem to benefit you the most.  From this lens, the universe is a decidedly unfriendly place, as all of these things come into your grasp only fleetingly, with circumstance, people, or time ultimately snatching or shattering them all.  Most of us begin our journey's as true believers in an individualistic self, only to be repeatedly crushed or slowly sapped by the universe until we're thoroughly convinced that we've swallowed a flawed or incomplete picture.

If you begin with the truth that all you have will be taken from you, then you are forced to re-evaluate your notion of self and self-benefit.  The interconnection and interdependence you witness from acceptance of the inescapable impermanence around you and inside you are a pleasant ways of saying that you will both eat and be eaten in every domain of your existence.  Your first food was your mother's body through nursing, and this eating and being eaten were filled with affection, joy, even pleasure for both.  If you can get past the guilt of eating and the fear of being eaten, you begin to touch the joy of witnessing the flow of life.  And the more you witness that joy, the more it seems to be the only thing that makes sense about who you are and why you're here.

The universe manifests you, maintains you for a while, and then mercilessly chews and crushes you until you have no choice but to burst with joy and wonder at every second and every square inch of the humming, buzzing symphony of existence.  And that chewing is probably the most friendly thing that's ever happened to you, even if feels like pain in every bite.

Hide full comment.

 

Evolution's Gold Standard, by Diane Ackerman

FaceBook  On Aug 14, 2011 rahul wrote:

The passage reminds me a of a conversation I was having with a friend where I complained about the insidiousness of the media world, continually snagging, distracting, trapping, and dissipating people.  He responded by acknowledging that truth, but pointing out that to get snagged, you have to have hooks.  The lesson for me was that its more important to work on smoothing out those latent tendencies and desires that lead us to our own entrapment than complaining about the systems that are designed to trap people.

Anyone who has bought organic vegetables knows that they spoil much faster than industrial vegetables.  Anyone who has visited a tropical forest knows that there are tons of bugs that want to eat a little piece of your body. It seems that wherever there is some life energy, there is something that is trying to take a little bit of that energy for itself.  In a modern western environment where we have largely eliminated the natural pests that perform this function, we seem to have incorporated the pestilence into our collective nature, where to varying degrees, people live off the energy, attention, and inattention of their fellow man.  To some degree, this is a statement of our interconnectedness, but just beyond that is the realm of our individual intentions in the world.  We must take to live, but we must also give to live.  What is the most skillful way to dance in that reality?

The only answer seems to come from concentrating and deepening our attention so we're conscious of our hooks, and put some space between us and our lures.  The space gives us choice, and choice offers us increasing freedom in outsmarting our evolutionary hooks.

 

A Blessing for One Who is Exhausted, by John O'Donohue

FaceBook  On Jul 23, 2011 rahul wrote:

In the last few months, I've been feeling like my life exists somewhere at a place in the middle of this poem.  All of the stuff at the end seems too inconcievable for me to understand at the moment, but I can understand the line that reads "travelled too fast over false ground" and "open up, to all the small miracles..."  When I slow down enough, I can see magic in the chaos.  Ironically, meditation alone seems to be kicking up more dust that tends to stick in my eyes and cloud my clarity, while combining it with running (esp in the early a.m.) helps me slow down enough to dance through the dust storm.  And I suppose running may be an apt analogy for wherever someone finds their life to be along the spectrum of this poem.  The destination may not be clear, and the path hazy and narrow, but all we need to understand is the next step and muster the stamina to take it.

 

Two Ways of Learning Relaxation, by Shinzen Young

FaceBook  On Jul 17, 2011 rahul wrote:

An important element in skillfully watching tension is tremendous humility, patience and kindness towards oneself.  I've found that when I'm seriously working on my edges, the challenges I'm confronted with are just beyond the range of my capacity to endure with equanimity.  While it is very true that strength and stability comes from overcoming these obstacles, its also true that I stumble and fall often (and I don't think I'm alone).  When I'm able to forgive myself and bring patience and kindness to my failure to be equanamous, that's the impetus to keep working with these challenges.  Lack of humility, patience and self-kindness is a dead-end that stops all progress.


Anyone has seen a baby learn how to walk can appreciate the idea that if we had to take on such an analogously challenging endeavor in our adult lives, many of us would simply rule it out as impossible.  How many times does a child fall before it can even walk across a room?  The key is to get up and keep trying.  Paramahansa Yogananda said, "A saint is a sinner who never gave up."

 

Giving Within For-Give-Ness, by Michael Bernard Beckwith

FaceBook  On Apr 24, 2011 rahul wrote:

When someone hurts/harms me out of ignorance, I find it much easier to 'turn the other cheek,' than when I'm hurt with intention.  What has helped me when I'm intentionally attacked is 1. to observe my bodily pain  2. recognize that the other person is in pain too, and the pain they're giving me is just a small fraction of their own pain  3. remember the most severe physical pain I've been able to endure calmly so I can muster the strength to keep calmly observing  4. speak only after pain has mostly subsided  5. let first words be those of acknowledgement, followed by apology for the role I played in the other's pain  6. hug or smile as soon as possible, if possible :-)  Marriage has taught me more about forgiveness than anything else in my life because arguments and even silent disagreement spoil the atmosphere more quickly than anything else, laying the basis for continual escalation.  Paraphrasing the wisdom of Sun Tzu as heard from a 4th grader, "Those who win arguments will want to argue more.  Those who lose arguments will want to win arguments and thus argue more."  Forgiveness is the only path to peace and sanity.

 

Before You Know What Kindness Really Is, by Naomi Shihab Nye

FaceBook  On Apr 19, 2011 rahul wrote:

This passage was about attention for me: that to know kindness requires tuning into the constancy of the gifts that sustain us.  The challenge with constancy is that its so easy to take that flow for granted and lose gratitude for the kindness which continually charges us up.  Hence to know kindness, the author says we must go to the extreme end where its flow is nearly choked off such that even the smallest trickle gives rise to an abundant gratitude which ultimately transforms how we live.  There is truth in this, but also think there's a golden middle path that's found in fully accepting the challenges life throws at us.  Many examples of this: if somehow you don't get a meal or two, be with your hunger and watch how it changes all your lenses; if a car or train isn't available, let your muscles strain on the long journey home by foot or bicycle; if you feel ignored, embrace your fundamental aloneness past the point of discomfort; and through all of these things you will taste food, and sip time, and respect space, and honor love like never before.

 

A 9-Year-Old's Hidden Self, by Jacob Needleman

FaceBook  On Apr 15, 2011 rahul wrote:

The first thing this passage brought up for me was presence, and that with a given quality of presence always comes permission to respond in harmony its energy.  The neurological basis of this is what are called ‘mirror neurons’ which essentially pick up on the mental states of those around us and cause us to replicate their inner states within ourselves.  Research has shown that you’re much more likely to be happy if you have happy friends.  Not just that, but if a friend of your friend is happy, your chances of happiness go up.  A different study even showed that having an obese friend increase your probability of being obese. This continual exchange between you and the people around you, puts high importance on the type of people you surround yourself with .  Emerson said, “Show me who a man’s friends are and I will show you the man.”  Yet many of us have mixed communities with different kids of friends that hold a range of sometimes conflicting values.  Maybe there’s someone in your family who clashes with your values, or maybe there’s not a complete alignment at your office, or maybe you have problems structural violence in your society.  How do you impact those energies positively instead of being impacted in a negative way?  We're often seduced towards big:  talking louder, faster, on a larger scale, in more media—and this may have some short term impact, but I suspect it doesn't last.  Who will remember an insensitve, loud politician or media personality after they're gone? Is there another answer?  I think it may be the power of attention towards the subtle that helps us respond to negative influences. Last week something I said triggered an attack-like response from my boss, and I noticed unpleasant feelings starting inside of me.  So I watched those for a second, wondering what I should do and I decided to see if I could disarm the a  See full.

The first thing this passage brought up for me was presence, and that with a given quality of presence always comes permission to respond in harmony its energy.  The neurological basis of this is what are called ‘mirror neurons’ which essentially pick up on the mental states of those around us and cause us to replicate their inner states within ourselves.  Research has shown that you’re much more likely to be happy if you have happy friends.  Not just that, but if a friend of your friend is happy, your chances of happiness go up.  A different study even showed that having an obese friend increase your probability of being obese.

This continual exchange between you and the people around you, puts high importance on the type of people you surround yourself with .  Emerson said, “Show me who a man’s friends are and I will show you the man.”  Yet many of us have mixed communities with different kids of friends that hold a range of sometimes conflicting values.  Maybe there’s someone in your family who clashes with your values, or maybe there’s not a complete alignment at your office, or maybe you have problems structural violence in your society.  How do you impact those energies positively instead of being impacted in a negative way?  We're often seduced towards big:  talking louder, faster, on a larger scale, in more media—and this may have some short term impact, but I suspect it doesn't last.  Who will remember an insensitve, loud politician or media personality after they're gone?

Is there another answer?  I think it may be the power of attention towards the subtle that helps us respond to negative influences.

Last week something I said triggered an attack-like response from my boss, and I noticed unpleasant feelings starting inside of me.  So I watched those for a second, wondering what I should do and I decided to see if I could disarm the attack.  As my boss was proceeding on his annoyed monologue, I cracked a little smile and took a tiny step towards him.  I noticed a little change in his expression, but he kept going on his rant.  So I smiled bigger, and took one more tiny step towards him.  I noticed a little bit of confusion in his face, but he kept going.  So I smiled even bigger, and took another little step toward him.  His rant turned into just talking, and in another few seconds, he just ran out of steam.  I was still smiling and just kind of nodded my head, and he kind of had this flash of ‘what’s going on here?’.  Next minute I said something and he laughed, not knowing what hit him.  The whole experience seemed to feel like loudness wasn’t the answer; that tuning into the things most subtle within ourselves and being able to smile at whatever is happening there gives us the best chance to influence instead of being influenced.  This feels like that quality of attention the author was talking about that mankind is, and is made for.

 

Hide full comment.

 

Do-Nothing Cultivation, by Masanobu Fukuoka

FaceBook  On Nov 22, 2007 rahul wrote:
One Straw Revolution is available on a gift-economy basis at: http://www.soilandhealth.org/copyform.aspx?bookcode=010140.fukuoka The founder of the site, Steve Soloman, has been doing this tirelessly for 8 years at his own expense. If you'd like to send him a note of gratitude, you can write to him at: stsolomo [ {a t} ] soilandhealth [[dot]] org