Posted in Meditation, Psychology

Our fear of opening up

There is a secret about human love that is commonly overlooked: Receiving it is much more scary and threatening than giving it. How many times in your life have you been unable to let in someone’s love or even pushed it away? Much as we proclaim the wish to be truly loved, we are often afraid of that, and so find it difficult to open to love or let it all the way in.”

John Welwood

I suppose most, if not all, of us would have had some emotional scars in our lives. This may explain why many of us would have had difficulty in opening up to receive love, and to trust people in certain circumstances.

When unpleasant memories of our past hurts seem to surface from nowhere, it’s probably part of our inner journey as we meditate, and we can observe our thoughts and emotions in silence without having to engage them or act upon them or suppress them. Perhaps it is a necessary process of growing and healing of past wounds for us human beings.


Posted in Grace, Psychology

Princess – Public Forgiveness Shoot, June 11, 2011 – SMOOCH

Video commentary:

On June 11, 2011 we held our second public shoot, asking random people off the street about their perspectives on forgiveness. That is when we met Princess.

North Minneapolis, MN

Director: Dawn Mikkelson
Interview Camera: Heidi Tungseth
Additional Camera: Matt Ehling
Edit: Monte Swann

Posted in Identity, Meditation

My default mode/mood is joy

On my way back to office from lunch yesterday, this line of thought came to me:

“Our default mode (and mood) is joy, which comes from resting in our true identity (as Beloved and Innocent).”

Yea, like what I learnt from Osho’s post on how life is a cosmic joke, I can rest in the knowledge that all that I need is already within me, and that knowledge produces a deep sense of joy, which is my default mode – it is also my default mood because as a normal human being, I may experience different moods from time to time – happy or sad, high or low, etc – but I have come to realise that perhaps there is a default mood, which remains more or less constant – that steady, stable place where I can rest in – and that default mood is joy, because when everything else is stripped away and all the conditionings of the world, whether religious or social conditionings, are removed from my mindset, what remains in my innermost being has to be – not sadness, not sorrow, not even happiness (which depends on happenings outside) but joy, which brings to mind Jesus’ words – “I (our true divine Self) will see you again, and your heart will rejoice, and your joy (the joy of the Lord, our true identity) no one will take away from you.” (John 16:22)

I have come across some meditation techniques in a book yesterday while browsing books in the library, and one meditation technique suggests practising laughter for one week, and then crying for the second week, and then remain neutral and silent for the third week. To me, this meditation practice might work for some, but it sounds a bit too structured for me – I prefer to remain spontaneous when it comes to expressing emotions or moods. So that was how the above line of thought came to me just now – to rest in our true identity, and remain in the default mode/mood of joy.

Posted in Identity, Love, Meditation, Peace, Unity and harmony

Some thoughts on “The Hunger Games”

I have only watched some preview scenes of the movie “The Hunger Games” in Youtube, besides the official trailer. At first, I thought the movie sounded cool, as there was much talk about the great acting performances, which I came across when I was doing research for the movie review for my magazine project, hence I decided to check out the preview videos. But I felt disturbed upon watching a scene of a teenage girl running towards another teenage girl armed with an axe to attack her. Maybe the message of the story is about the sad effects of living in a dystopian society, but nevertheless I can’t help feeling that stories like these based on violence and gore tend to be part of propaganda themselves, and they are probably being marketed to feed the attention of the society that is hungry for action, to stimulate their senses (and perhaps also to escape from having to explore and deal with the inner depths of their own souls).

I think there is a certain danger that over-exposure to media that are filled with violence can cause people to become numb to our basic human emotions and sensibilities. At the same time, I believe everyone has a dark and light side in themselves, and when people feed only on one side, either light or dark, they tend to harm themselves and others indirectly, by becoming either too legalistic and judgmental (by preaching behaviour modification and enforcing conformity – don’t we all hate moralising and condemning sermons by preachers, however well-meaning?), or too soulless and callous (by accepting harm done to a neighbour as a necessity in the name of revenge or survival).

In the face of all this, how can we make a change? I don’t know. I suppose each of us has to find our own answer because ultimately, we do not want to impose our own beliefs or convictions onto other people too. For me, I will choose the way of meditation and contemplation because I am realising more and more that we are all connected as One, so if one being is hurt, the rest of the beings are hurt as well. Similarly, if one of us is peaceful, the rest of us will benefit as well. Maybe the realisation of our interconnectedness and oneness will be able to override the society’s mindset of “us” versus “them” that is based on the illusion of ego and separation.

I believe peace is possible, and yet it is not something that is boring or ethereal or unrealistic. There is a difference between fake niceness and genuine kindness, which I find lacking in the movie story. Maybe it is intended to be that way, since people will watch and despair at how the characters struggle to make sense of the brutal reality of being ruled by a totalitarian government and having their human dignity snatched away by the harsh circumstances in which they have to fight for survival.

Maybe a buddhist might willingly give his or her life in such a scenario. Or anyone who has awakened to the truth of our oneness. To die in such a brutal reality may seem like losing, but then again, much of the society tends to think only in terms of good and bad, or us and them. We can move beyond the concept of duality in order to embrace the totality of our existence. Life is more than “winning” or “losing”. In a war, no one is truly a winner. No wonder by the end of the story (the third part of the trilogy), even those who survive the war (Hunger Games) through bloodshed and violence are left feeling forlorn, each a jaded and crestfallen being. Why? Because the senseless killing of one another does not honour our true Self. I feel that each of us intuitively knows we are designed to be loved and to love. We are beloved and innocent children of Divine Love at our innermost core, when all else is stripped away, when all the conditionings of the society/religion/politics are removed.

Related post:

“Hunger Games–Disturbing? Indeed…”

Posted in Mythology

Thoughts on the Personal Myth

I have returned home from a public library and I have borrowed a book by Joseph Campbell called “Pathways to Bliss – Mythology and Personal Transformation”. I found some parts of the chapter “Personal Myth” interesting and here’s sharing them here:

“I think one of the great calamities of contemporary life is that the religions that we have inherited have insisted on the concrete historicity of their symbols. The Virgin Birth, for example, or the ascension into heaven – these are symbols that are found in the mythologies of the world. Their primary reference must be to the psyche from which they have come. They speak to us of something in ourselves. They cannot primarily refer to historical events. And one of the great problems that is confronting us now is that the authority of the institutions that have been presenting us with these symbols – the religions in which we have been raised – has come into doubt simply because they have insisted on talking about their underlying myths as historical events somewhere. The image of the Virgin Birth: what does it refer to? A historical, biological problem? Or is it a psychological, spiritual metaphor?

The way to find your own myth is to determine those traditional symbols that speak to you and use them, you might say, as bases for meditation. Let then work on you.”

Yea, to me it makes more sense to see these events as symbols that can speak to us in a personal way. Besides, we learnt that such symbols tend to be universal, since the Virgin Birth is found in other myths and cultures as well, such as the Egyptian culture, besides Christianity.

Posted in Meditation, Peace

Meditation Practice for Daily Living

The following is an excerpt from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book “Being Peace”, which I found to be a timely reminder for me.

When we walk in the meditation hall, we make careful steps, very slowly. But when we go to the airport, we are quite another person. We walk very differently, less mindfully. How can we practise at the airport and in the market? That is engaged Buddhism. Engaged Buddhism does not only mean to use Buddhism to solve social and political problems, protesting against the bombs, and protesting against social injustice. First of all, we have to bring Buddhism into our daily lives. I have a friend who breathes between telephone calls, and it helps her very much. Another friend does walking meditation between business appointments, walking mindfully between buildings in downtown Denver. Passers-by smile at him, and his meetings, even with difficult persons, often turn out to be very pleasant, and very successful.

We should be able to bring the practice from the meditation hall into our daily lives. How can we practise to penetrate our feelings, our perceptions during daily life? We don’t deal with our perceptions and our feelings only during sitting practice. We have to deal with them all the time. We need to discuss among ourselves how to do it. Do you practise breathing between phone calls? Do you practise smiling while cutting carrots? Do you practise relaxation after hours of hard work? These questions are very practical. If you know how to apply Buddhism to dinner time, leisure time, sleeping time, I think Buddhism will become engaged in your daily life. Then it will have a tremendous effect on social concerns. Buddha, Dharma and Sangha become the matters of everyday life, each minute, each hour of our daily life, and not just a description of something far away.

(From the chapter “The Heart of Practice”)

Posted in Identity

Free from Conditionings (of the Society and Religion)

While I was browsing through the mystical and new age books in a large book store yesterday, I was pleasantly surprised to find Osho’s books as well. Here’s sharing here an interesting passage from his book “Living Dangerously”:

“The most difficult thing in life is to drop the past – to drop the past means to drop the whole identity, to drop the whole personality. It is to drop yourself. You are nothing but your conditionings.

It is not like dropping clothes – it is as if one’s skin is being peeled off. Your past is all that you know you are. Dropping is difficult, arduous – the most difficult thing in life. But those who can dare to drop it, only they live. Others pretend to live, others simply go on dragging themselves somehow. They don’t have any vitality – they can’t have. They live at the minimum, to live at the minimum is to miss the whole thing.

It is only when you live at the optimum of your potential that blossoming happens. It is only at the optimum expression of your being, of your truth, that God arrives – that you start feeling the presence of the divine.

The more you disappear, the more you feel the presence of the divine. But the presence will be felt only later on. The first condition to be fulfilled is disappearing. It is a kind of death.

Hence it is difficult. And conditioning has gone very deep – because you have been conditioned from the very beginning; from the first moment you were born, conditioning started. By the time you became alert, a little aware, it had already reached to the deepest core of your being. Unless you penetrate yourself to this deepest core that was not conditioned at all, that was before conditioning started, unless you become that silent and that innocent, you will never know who you are.

You will know you are a Hindu, a Christian, a communist. You will know you are an Indian, a Chinese, a Japanese, and you will know many things – but those things are just conditionings imposed upon you. You had come into the world utterly silent, pure, innocent. Your innocence was absolute.

Meditation means to penetrate to that core, to that innermost core. Zen people call it knowing the ‘original face’.”

(from the chapter “Belief is borrowed, trust is yours”)

This is enlightening, eh? The truth of our true identity that is pure and innocent and free from conditionings resonates fully with me. Yes, I am essentially and fundamentally neither a Christian nor a Chinese. I am a pure and free and innocent child of the Divine Love.

Related post:

331 Days ’til 40: Defining Ourselves

Posted in Meditation, Origin

Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and Meditation

Perhaps Near Death Experiences (NDEs) are somewhat like meditation, when one’s senses are heightened and inner perception is sharpened. Maybe precisely because the person is physiologically inactive, that state of stillness and detachment from the hustle and bustle of the outside world creates a conducive environment for the person to be more attuned to extra sensory perception of the invisible realm, compared to those who are physiologically active and having their senses stimulated by sight, sound, taste, smell and touch in the material world all the time.

After all, when a person is approaching death and lying still on the bed for hours or days, there is nothing much the person can do except to rest, and from that state of rest, one can’t help but be more conscious of one’s breathing, which may help one get in touch with one’s inner self better. It could be part of Nature’s way to help a soul to prepare to depart from this physical world as one becomes spiritually ready to embrace the next realm of existence, just as one form of energy is ready to be transformed into another form of energy.

We are children of the invisible world, as John O’Donohue wrote in his book (either “Divine Embrace” or “Eternal Echoes”), from where we came when we were born, and I think, it will be likewise to where we will go when we die or make a transition.

Posted in Love, Meditation, Philosophy

Do not resist evil

Osho – This is the Buddhist alchemy: all evil can be transformed into the bodhi path, the path to become a buddha. Evil is not against you, you just don’t know how to use it. Poison is not your enemy, you just don’t know how to make medicine out of it. In wise hands poison becomes medicinal, in foolish hands medicine can become poison. It all depends on you, on your artfulness.

Have you ever looked at the word evil? Read backwards, it is live. Life can become evil, evil can become life; it all depends on how you read it. There are three things to be understood about this sutra, to change bad conditions to the bodhi path so that you can attain to bodhichitta, the mind or no-mind of a buddha. The first is: do not resist evil.

That is a saying of Jesus; there is every possibility that Jesus got it from Buddhist sources. He traveled in India; he had lived in India before he started his mission in Israel.

This interesting article  Buddhist alchemy: all evil can be transformed into the bodhi path” by Osho offers a great insight on transforming evil into good, as taught in Buddhism. I also think it is likely that Jesus’ teaching on not returning an eye for an eye and loving and blessing the enemies is borrowed from the Buddhist teachings, which mirror the unconditional love of the Father/Creator/Source.

I agree with Osho’s conclusion about transforming evil into something good:

“it is not a question of destroying evil in the world, but of transforming evil into something beneficial; transforming poison into nectar.”

This reminds me of the enlightenment scene in the movie “Little Buddha“, when Siddhartha learnt to meditate under a tree and finally saw through the illusion of ego and separation that causes suffering in this world, and he also learnt how to transform evil into something beneficial. I thought the visual illustration of this enlightenment (such as the fiery arrows shot at him being transformed into beautiful flowers falling down peacefully and blissfully) is both powerful as well as empowering.