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Does the subject of my thinking bring me suffering or peace?

Friends, here is another piece that emerged this morning – I trust these writings are useful.

Does the subject of my thinking bring me suffering or peace? Consider any topic you spend time thinking about and ask yourself this one question: Does the subject of my thinking bring me suffering or peace? It would seem that some forms of thought perpetuate suffering and some forms of thought bring us to peace, resolution and understanding.

In contemplation I ask myself three further questions.

  • What makes these forms of thought different?
  • How can I characterise the difference?
  • How can I increase my ability to choose between them?

To the first question, when I reflect on the difference I see the following. In suffering thoughts I run an enemy narrative – I believe something or someone has the power to take away my power. In most cases I have given it away and continue to give away my power in these situations. In peaceful thoughts there is a co-creation narrative – I see my part in the play.

To the second question, when I reflect on what characterises the difference I see that: In suffering thoughts, there is much judgment, blame and accusation. In peaceful thoughts, there is empathy, curiosity and compassion.

To the third question and with the above in mind, as I consider ways to increase my ability for the latter of the two – naturally, practices like meditation, loving kindness and mindfulness come to mind.

Too add to these I’d like to share a recent practice that has been helping me get to peaceful thoughts and reduce suffering thoughts.

I believe this practice is about taking full ownership of my part in the play.

To explain: I am working from the premise that Life is constantly co-creating itself. Life is in co-creation with itself and everything physical and non physical is connected and in relationship. Using this premise I then ask myself: What if everything that causes me to perpetuate hurt and anguish is, at the deepest level of significance, an opportunity to see my part in the co-creation of the hurt and anguish itself?

And further, What if everything I judge and is causing me suffering is signifying, a blind spot?

What might this mean? Well firstly, it means I’ve got work to do.

Today my work is to catch in myself the voices of judgment and fear, the physical contractions, the mental narrowing on the problem, the ruminating, in fact anything that takes me down the rabbit hole of suffering thoughts.The first part being to recognise this.The next step is the kicker and its where I turn the ‘what if’ questions to statements. I do have a part in this, I am responsible for that part. I have a blind spot.

Then I’ve been taking it one step further.
Whatever I judge in another I reverse it. For those that know Byron Katie’s work, I’ve been inspired by what she calls ‘the turnaround’ – turning the judgement back on oneself.

What I’ve discovered is not only the neutralising effect this has on the ‘suffering thoughts’ this reversal also takes me directly to ownership of my part in the interplay and begins to illuminate a blind spot.

To give you a recent example. I judged a person close to me for their lack of grace and consideration of others. Happily I caught the judgment and then proceeded to explore when lacking grace and being inconsiderate of others was true for me. Taking full ownership I saw very clearly that there were times when this was true.

Talk about a way to extinguish self righteousness.

In continuing this practice I’ve never yet found a moment where what I’m judging in another is not also true for me and/or where I’m playing a part. Of course when I’m hot with emotion and feeling wounded this practice feels impossible. In waiting for the heat to cool I can usually get there in time.

It works for historic incidents as well. Many years back I felt betrayed by two work colleagues – and you could say there was good justification for this. However even years later without doing this work I’m still suffering. So I applied the reversal of judgment and saw that in their eyes I had betrayed my colleagues in terms of their expectations as we’d never had clear and constructive conversation about any of the undercurrents at play. Voila – peaceful thoughts of acceptance.

Another example – I recently judged a family member for ‘throwing me under the bus’. When I reversed the judgement, guess what – in their experience I’d done the same. Suffering gone. Blind spot lit.

Ownership plus blind spot illuminated = ego reduction. And therefor with ego-mind reduced an eco-mind is enhanced and from this comes more peaceful thoughts. I’m excited about this practice because it allows me to really see what is being co-created when I show up with contracted – suffering thoughts. I perpetuate the suffering by not taking ownership and falling into the trap of the enemy narrative.

I’m coming to understand that this is tapping into a universal truth or natural law.

What I judge is what I fear and this points me to where my work is.

With love
Martin
© 2020

Observation #11 in the Art of Self Leadership

 

When we ‘don’t know’ something – it’s very helpful to work with curiosity. 

When we do ‘know’ something – it’s very helpful to work with curiosity.

 

Martinos © 2020

Expectation or Anticipation

 

Expectations, often prefaced with: it should, they should, I should, he should, she should…

will sooner or later lead to disappointment.

 

Anticipations, often prefaced with: let’s see if, it’s likely that, it’s possible to…

will always be revealed one way or another.

 

And no ego will suffer in the making.

Martin @ 2020

The Benefits of Relentless Ownership

 

Unwavering authenticity arises

when I practice relentless ownership of everything

i say, think, and do, in all environments.

Curiously, I’ve discovered that remarkable things happen

when I show up this way

and more particularly, when I show up in service of others.

Martinos © 2019

5 Maxims for Leading Self

What I judge in others
I fear in myself

What I react to
Is where my work is

When I criticise another’s faults
I’ve named my own blind spots

I suffer when I believe my own thoughts, when
They insist on disagreeing and arguing with what is actually happening

My perception of the world is not the world
My curiosity however, will get me closer to it

Martinos © 2019

Podcast Reading: spoken and written by Mathew Brensilver: Amplify Your Compassion

Podcast Reading, spoken and written by Mathew Brensilver on March the 3rd 2019 at The Insight Meditation Centre, Redwood City, California.


I transcribed this section of Mathew’s Dharma Talk and posted it here as it is a piece of writing that calls me back again and again; to contemplate, to hold and to let sink ever deeper into the part of me that is eternally true.

Martinos


Sila (Ethics) Reflection

Make of yourself a refuge for all beings. The Buddha enjoins us to cultivate this radical heart. A cultivation expressing not only Sila (Ethics) but also Samadhi (Unification of Mind) and Panyo (Wisdom). 

To be safe for others entails a path of self discovery, humility, sensitivity and willingness to be softened by one’s own suffering.

Goodness ripens through a process of letting go and letting go involves a measure of grief. 

We grieve the harm done to us and the harm done by us, we grieve the human condition, the indivisibility of life and suffering.

This process is autobiographical, idiosyncratic and universal. To be mindful of goodness brings love, to be mindful of pain also brings love. This asymmetry is the miracle. 

The more attuned we are to our heart and its instant karmic reverberations the clearer our ethical life will be. The more unified the mind becomes the deeper the love will be. Boundless, nothing but warmth. The effortless care that is the face of emptiness.

And we learn unwaveringly that hatred is never the last word. Sila [ethics] expresses the entire path. And then we begin again. The story we tell about love is never final, new questions, complexities and debts arise.

Might I know more than I suppose? The ego complicates everything – I want to think of myself as a really good person and I don’t really want to change my behaviour – ethical development stagnates when we rationalise our preferences. 

It’s conceivable that goodness entails much more than even we good people are accustomed to giving. Just because the saint is extremely rare, doesn’t mean that anything less, strictly speaking, is justifiable. I can imagine in the not distant future a major reconfiguration of our ethical obligations, to non-human animals, to the egregious suffering of the most vulnerable around the globe and to future generations. 

This is a time for radical hearts.

I don’t usually feel up to the task, but I am steadfast in keeping a relationship with my own sense of moral incoherence. From that relationship I hope that I evolve and contribute more of what I owe to the welfare of others.

The path unfolds and then at some point it’s time to die. The final gesture of letting go which is both deeply poignant and also not such a big deal. 

Your life was made complete by what you gave away.

Mathew Brensilver

Quiet Walk

This morning
In the first light
On the road back to home
– the air backlit
We were invited to pause
To breathe deeply and take in 
the thick aroma from the
camphor laurel stand
We took heed and breathed
For all our might
Our quiet walk alive
with significance.

Martinos © 2020

Prayer for Surrender

That moment
When you are swamped by your own rage
You feel the desperate abandonment that comes
With the loss of what you once stood for
And the sheer absence of loving kindness that left you
When the centre did not hold

Ahead you see the long dark climb, back
To where you once held the light
With the knowledge that should you arrive as you have before
You will in certainty, as night ends day,
Be cast off again by your own fragility
To face the fated narratives you’ve been assigned or have subscribed to,
These that have set their course through your beginnings
To lead you to certain destinations of frailty and fear.

And then, that moment
When you see all this with sheer egoless clarity, and know
The all encompassing darkness to be but the temporary absence of any light

That moment
When you, cast off the last vestiges of your clinging
And say in full throated prayer to the unknowable greatness that is beyond you and within you

I surrender
I surrender
I do Surrender

Martinos © 2020

At Once Together

outside the window and at once together
a hawk and a butterfly

the hawk high with the wind
the butterfly low to the flower

to the dance a flutter
and the grace of wing

fields fell silent
grasses dipped

and a bottlebrush,
it’s vermillion tipped

 

Martinos © 2020

Ego Awareness – a contemplation

How to know when our ego is serving or harming us?

First Principle
It is serving us when we are serving ourselves and others through conscious and constructive thoughts, words and actions. Detached observation, acceptance, forgiveness, empathy, kindness, compassion, humility, candour, curiosity, accountability and ownership are hallmarks and manifest in any weather.

It is not serving us when we are hurting ourselves and others through unconscious, defensive and unconstructive thoughts, words and actions. Blame, excuse, denial, unkindness, judgmentalism, aggression, projection, self interest, disownership and lack of accountability are hallmarks and can manifest in any weather.

Second Principle
Without governance, guidance, and good gardening, left to its own devices our ego will serve itself at any cost and choose the latter.

Third Principle
Our ego is masterful at hiding in plain sight: Self-righteousness, projection and judgment are primary indicators of our blind spots.

Fourth Principle
Our bodies, emotions, ways of thinking and our relationships feel expansive and spacious when we are in service to ourselves and others.

Our bodies, emotions, ways of thinking and our relationships feel contracted when we are not.

Fifth Principle
An ego with awareness will see itself as a connected part of the greater whole.

An ego without awareness will see itself as the centre of the whole.

Sixth Principle
It is possible to know the difference and choose to move from one ego state to another. But not without an intent to do so. And then only, with practice, patience, persistence and loving kindness.

Seventh Principle
In stillness and with attentive grace it is possible to contemplate beyond all separateness, to the unity and connectedness of all.

Martin @ 2020

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