Garage Guru, Learning self love

Once not too long ago I was a fledgling mechanic, one of the opportunities that came to me was an apprenticeship.  This is where I met Gary.  He was a troll of a man maybe 5′ tall if he was in his big boy shoes.  He had the haggard face that you’d expect a man who had been a mechanic for 45+ years.  His face had pock marks all over it from a radiator explosion that resulted from a water pump he didn’t properly install.  In the old days water pumps weren’t ready to go out of the box and he didn’t swap the impeller which means the water pump couldn’t move anything.  It apparently blasted him with boiling hot antifreeze and sent him to the hospital as it made the skin sluff off of his face.  So needless to say the long healed trauma left it’s mark.  He was a hard worker and an even harder player.  He drank regularly despite many court ordered visits to AA.  He also smoked like a runaway freight train.  The only place he wouldn’t light one up was in a customer’s car.  One of many lessons he’d pass onto me.  If I wanted to work with him I had to earn my way there

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The struggle was real then too…

I had to put in some work  to earn my way into the apprenticeship.  So I worked my way up from installing tires outside.  So if it was 90 out we did tires, if there was a foot of snow on the ground, we did tires outside.  The only break from the elements was the machines to mount and balance were at least in the building and shaded.  I was told just how far I could fuck off if I didn’t like it.  So I swallowed some pride and rode it out eventually I became the “supervisor”, which meant I got yelled at if any of the other delinquent assholes screwed up, or needed training.  No raise just responsibility, but hey it was a move.  Once the chance presented itself I jumped at the opportunity to get out of that suck fest.

 

The apprenticeship program at this place was a major assembly line the guy in front of me finished a day or two before I started.  Gary always used to bitch “I’m teaching myself out of a job”.  In all honesty he loved it, he taught in that old school ‘let you struggle it out sort of way’ you know because screw you…  From what he said he had gotten no better from his teacher some 45 years prior.  He left home at the ripe old age of 15 because his Dad was abusive toward him, his brothers, and, his mom.  The last instance his Dad came home drunk my teacher, at 15 years old mind you, pulled a shotgun out and said “…this is the last time me and Mom are gonna be hit”.  Apparently police came and talked it down, his Mom was a scared enabler so she didn’t press any charges.  That meant my dude had to get the hell out, as of then he was living on the lamb!  Of course he had probably lived as much life as 3 people by this point.

 

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We formally meet

The first time we met he was told about the fact I had gone to tech school, and we had met before as I had seen him around having worked at the same place for a couple years.

His first words to me were “You went to tech school, why the hell did you do that?”

To which I replied “Yeah because…”

He interrupted and said “Forget all the bullshit they taught you, you don’t know a damn thing”.

My jaw hit the floor, the manager of the service department, who had just introduced us, just laughed.  The manager said “Alright, I’ll leave you two to it.  Here are your tickets to start the day”

Gary said “I’m not here to teach you how to fix cars, I’m here to teach you how to make a living.  After all that’s what you drive here for right?”

To which I quickly said “Of course”

Time to learn something beyond auto repair

We had worked together for a couple of weeks when he made a comment about how I was unsure in my diagnosis of problems.  He was right I was always scared to commit to a solution mostly because the cost often freaked me out.   I didn’t want some poor bastard to drop bank because I did’t remember to test a circuit or something.  Gary talked to me many times about it, until one day he’d had enough.

“Do you love yourself?”  he asked point blank, in that not nonsense way of his

“What!?” I replied.  I mean who gets asked this kind of question at work.  Especially by this kind of a hard ass, you know?

“Yeah, I guess” I said in the most uncertain of statements

He then gave me some instructions.  Not like the normal “Pull this car in” or “Take the belt off of this one”.  I’m talking real deep stuff.

“Tomorrow, when you get up before you do anything to get ready, I want you to look in the mirror, look that ugly fuck in the eyes, and tell him you love him”

I laughed this off and thought he was messing with me.  Until the next morning came he asked me if I completed my homework.  I didn’t because I thought he was messing with me.  We had already gotten our pile of tickets, it was summer time it’s always busy as hell in the summer.  Once I answered him he took the pile of tickets dropped them in the drawer of his old Snap-On tool box and locked it, and said “Come with me”.  This was incredibly unusual we always came in and started doing the things the minute the work hit the box.  He had me follow him to the bathroom mirror.  Now let me paint this picture for you.  Imagine a nasty truck stop, or 7-11 bathroom, hot, smelly, providing very little if any privacy, with a urinal, and a toilet stall that had door that just rested shut.  I always smelled like B.O., and ass.  As you’d expect the heat made it 50 times worse

He pointed at the mirror and said “Do it!”

I said “Do what?” incredulously

He said “You’re homework!”

He wasn’t gonna let me go til I did so I did it, so I did.    We repeated this cycle every day if I didn’t do it he’d send me to the rest room, which was a fairly public place, I’d have to say “I love you” to myself right where my coworkers could see.  So I began doing it at home, way less embarrassing that way.

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I Finally learned a thing

At first it felt dumb, really dumb, then I finally realized after a couple of weeks he was right.  I didn’t love me.  I was 20 something years old and had been told my whole life I was an accident, that I wasn’t going to be much etc..  I had 2 emotionally abusive, alcoholic, parents.  I had spent most my life to that point trying not to arouse their drunken wrath.  For the first time in my life as a young adult I realized that didn’t matter, at the end of the day no one cared, I had responsibilities and was growing a career.  I felt like I was born again in the bathroom of my shitty little apartment.  It was like the world began anew.  I realized to be a self actualized and complete human being I needed this vital ingredient – Self Love.  I had to get over the not enough or too much whatever from my parents and stand on my feet, under my own power.  Well of course my workmanship improved, my confidence in what I was doing spiked, hell my ability to not take my self so seriously all blossomed.  For the 1st time in my whole life I felt conscious, like really conscious.  It was then I realized… for the first time, I wasn’t broken, damaged, or, dumb.  Just like that I knew

The Sinner is The Sage.

by J.Martin

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

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Tips to meditate like a boss!

The question comes up a lot, “How can I improve my practice?”. There are a few key points I bring up when I’m asked this question: 1 Make time, 2 Keep at It, 3 If you had a positive or negative meditation experience leave it in the past, 4 Always come back to that ‘Beginner’s Mind’

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At first adding a meditation practice can seem a bit daunting with all the demands placed on our daily lives, ‘me time’ is probably near the end for most of us. I can assure making that 5 or 10 minutes a day can make a world of difference. You can find spare time in many places. Gaming is fun and entertaining but if you’re an aggressive gamer (like myself) it can lead to more stress and frustration, you know because Mario won’t jump correctly. If you’re in the car rather than jammin to 2 Chains, or whatever the kids are into these days, find a good guided meditation or try a little   Vipassana  here’s a link to our piece on Vipassana.  A little head to toe scan of the body can be just the thing.  Vipassana and Mindfulness are so powerful due to their infinite mobility  Mindfulness and no BS pt. 1  that’s a link to our 1st of a 4 part series diving into that more thoroughly.  The point is to find those little over sights in time usage a boom you’re in business.  Persistence is another big key

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One of the most overlooked points on beginning a new habit, big secret here, is just do it!  Persistence is key in all things.  Some try to pull an over think of Buddhist philosophy saying “Oh well that’s just too much desire”.  Don’t bring that weak garbage into my dojo!  Don’t let meditation be the reason you exist but there is a huge divide between the level of desire that would incur bad Karma and a healthy desire of a regular practice.  The Buddha didn’t attain Enlightenment because he quit, he didn’t just say screw it when it got too hard.  He pressed on, he pushed through the knee pain, boredom, and, the monsters that live inside.  If his persistence paid off, why not our own?  You may not get that big E Enlightenment but you could always improve.  My next point on improving practice… leave past sessions behind you.

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One thing we all do when we have an intense experience, good or bad, is cling to it.  The experience you had was for you then.  At that point in time the conditions were right for that experience, now is not the time for yesterday’s biz.  Some of the things we dig up when we meditate can be scary, or make us over joyed and clinging to those things is just a waste of energy and effort.  You didn’t start your practice to have the same experience repeatedly did you?  Of course not the whole plan is to be that objective observer and watch these movie frame like experiences roll on frame by frame.  Both clinging to and aversion from things, ideas, or, experiences all serve to hold you back.  Drop that baggage and level up mane!  If a bad experiences comes up shed those tears and get back to the hustle, don’t sour today with yesterday BS.  I saved the best for last, keep the Beginner’s Mind!

The final, and probably most effective, pieces of advice I ever received was to keep the Beginner’s Mind.  This means don’t act like you carry a full cup of knowledge.  As we all know a container is most useful under 2 conditions 1 it’s empty and 2 it doesn’t have holes in it.  So if you pick up a book don’t be so quick to dismiss stuff as “Well he’s/she’s doing it wrong.”.  Just because it’s not your norm doesn’t make it wrong.  Same goes for a teacher in person if you come woth questions don’t try to teach the person you asked… you asked for a reason.  Keeping the mind free and unattached to a particular pattern may be just what you need to bust a rut, now or even in the future, as they arise all at once most times.  Adding tools to the tool box is a good way to view it, meditation is an abstract and diverse practice.  As such there is really no one way but there could always be a better way for you.  So keep that head on a swivel and don’t lock in on a method while downing others.

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Your practice as it continues to grow and change will look different from year to year, day to day, and, breath to breath.  Following these simple little pieces of advice will not take you to the promised land or shangri-la or whatever other goal you’ve set for your practice.  It will, however, make you flexible and well rounded as well as more able to accept the good stuff the the universe is dangling out there.  As always it’s your practice, OWN IT!

 

by J.Martin

Disclosure: Please note that some of the links above are affiliate links, and at no additional cost to you, I will earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase after clicking through the link. Please understand that I have experienced all of these companies, and I recommend them because they are helpful and useful, not because of the small commissions I make if you decide to buy something through my links. Please do not spend any money on these products unless you feel you need them or that they will help you achieve your goals.

The 5 Aggregates, looking for the core

Last month we discussed Anatta as it applies to existence, follow the link to read more(3 Characteristics of Existence, Anatta). Let’s get a little deeper into the philosophy of Anatta. As we discussed before, the Buddha never said people don’t exist he simply suggested that, what we take to be ourselves is a compounded thing like any other. Stated most simply, we can break it down to smaller pieces. This illusion of simplicity and wholeness of self is tricky and even once it’s outlined it’s a hard pill to swallow.

So if self is not real, what are the components we can break it down to? Enter the 5 Aggregates, you may see the word ‘skandhas’ it means heaps. For me calling them heaps brings to mind images of sorting one big pile of crap into other smaller piles of crap, for parents you know, cleaning your kids room… So what are our piles that this self thing can be broken down to. Form, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formations, and, Consciousness. By those piles combined we are living breathing thinking feeling emotional train wrecks, ha myself included. Let’s outline these 5 in turn.

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Form, is the physical portion of your being. Your physical body which houses the mind, the sense faculties, and, the tissues upon which they rely. Everything corporeal about us lives here. The eyes with rods and cones that react to light, the optic nerve, the brain itself to process. All of that is what helps us see. Without any single link in that chain seeing is difficult if it’s even possible. The same can be said of all the senses. Our body houses all the sense organs and the bits make them work. Even this component is made of components. (That is an underlying lesson in this teaching, even the pieces have pieces). With that one fifth fraction of the 5 we are done talking about the physical portion of being.

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That in itself is another hard pill to swallow, some find it hard to believe that the body is only 20% of the being. According to the Buddha’s teaching that’s it. Now for Feelings, most people immediately thing of: happiness, sadness, anger etc. To be clear those are emotions not feelings. I know you’re thinking “What the hell are feelings then?” In Buddhism Feelings are an initial “taste” of objects or phenomenon. The feelings are of 3 kinds Pleasant\good, neutral\indifferent, and, unpleasant\painful. Each time something comes into contact with our sensitive meats one of these 3 classifications is evoked. We usually don’t even acknowledge that we do, this but we do, every single sensation is met labeled and tucked in the memory banks for later use. Obviously, this is a big piece of the puzzle to make the whole Samsara rat race. Now to breakdown Perception, we gon’ learn today!

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Perception is another building block in the Lego tower of what makes us… well us. Perception is where we begin to experience things and label them. It’s a way to kind of put a handle on things so we can make further use of them. Perception says: This is a chair, He’s tall, She has brown hair and so on. In Perception we begin to quantify the world around us. We then apply our findings to the game of gathering pleasant things and distancing ourselves from the unpleasant things. Perception arises when we contact things either physically, through our sense gates (sight, sound, touch, and, so on), or we contact things in a non-physical manner ie. thoughts, visions, or, symbols. Now we move on to Mental Formations

Until this point we (meaning the self) are reactionary in nature. Mental Formations is where we start doing things about it. This is where our karma comes from, this is where our intentions come from, this place is a big leap we begin to manipulate things to our advantage here. For the most part our manipulations are benign, even to an extent benevolent. But like all powers this is where it can go sideways too. For example we decided in our Perception that a big ass house was a ‘good’ thing. As we now big houses generally require big money, and we have to go about getting it, so far this is pretty ambivalent just making connections, then we decide how we are going to go about making that money. We will apply our principles to our money making, but largely it’s up to us. There is no real ‘right or wrong’ just consequences, an honest job or selling drugs, either can get you to the desired outcome but the choice was made. Dualistic thinking was not something the Buddha was into as it is a subjective game, however, we can judge a choice by it’s fruit. Just like in farming, we plant cantaloupe seeds with a solid concept of the result. In similar fashion robbing people or selling drugs has undesirable side effects, and none of us can find shelter from our choices, one day they catch up to us. If you believe in rebirth then you know karma can catch that ass down the road too. Now that I’ve successfully killed the joy in the room, let’s talk Consciousness.

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Consciousness is the most interesting of the Five in my opinion. It plays a few key roles here. Most basically, it is the generalized ‘light’ of awareness. It also plays a huge role in digesting the sense inputs. Obviously hearing something relies on more than just sound hitting ear drums, there has to be something to handle the input and make sense of it. This is true of all the senses, the consciousness has to process them all. Consciousness also has the unique ability to process it’s own class of stuffs. Thoughts, ideas, notions, symbols, visions all these things are in the territory of consciousness. This is one of the more slippery concepts. Understanding this part is more a matter of experience than a standardized explanation. I know, I know, buck well passed, sadly the path is up to each individual to walk and it isn’t always easy to convey in words. So what lessons can we draw from this things?

To wrap this up and draw some conclusions. Hopefully we are now all on the same page in our knowledge of the pieces that compose this ‘self’ idea that we suffer under. So what else can we draw from the 5 Aggregates? We now have a wealth of ground To meditate upon. Now that we have an intellectual basis upon which we can build now comes the work of realizing these things. If we practice enough we can start to find the seems among not only ourselves but our experiences as well. That is some powerful biz. From this perch you can really begin to see the lay of the land in actuality!

By J.Martin

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MEDITATION IN A NUTSHELL

So it’s 2018, by now you’ve heard of meditation and or mindfulness. If you haven’t take a look around, it’s in the news, social media, churches, and, even a few open-minded schools. You may ask yourself why, what benefits are there, how is it done? There are many styles and many more schools, each trying to push it’s favorite version as the the right one. So let’s dive into meditation and a little rundown on it. Let’s look into why people meditate.

Most meditators would answer the question of “Why meditate?” with a Morpheus style “Welcome to the desert of the real” type monologue. One only needs to glance at the world in which we live to see, war, poverty, hatred, violence, and on and on. We live in a world of fast paced information driven, full of disappointments, and a generally pervasive malice. Why it gotta be like that… Like most things stuff gets in a position of lameness due to good intentions and a series of compromises. Does meditation end all of these things, sadly, no. Meditation in no direct way could or would save the world, even if everyone started a meditation practice today. So if it doesn’t save the world, what the hell good is it, and why should I do it?

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Meditation can give you powers, what powers you ask, how about the power to kill a yak… with mind bullets!! Obviously that isn’t true, but you were buying it for a minute it’s okay to admit it. All joking aside meditation has many life changing benefits backed science. Meditators experience 50% less illness, this is due to the boost the immune system experiences thanks to the decreased stress levels. 30% of meditators experience decreased anxiety, and 65% stated an increase in the feeling of well being. Meditation has been proven to cause a reduction in the size of the amygdala which is the area of the brain that is active in the famed “fight or flight” response. With reduced amygdala also comes less fear based impulsive behavior. As a meditator. with 9 years at it, there are benefits which cannot be quantified. There arises a base level of joy, it’s weird and hard to explain but it is just a hanging positive vibe. Even though I have perfected 0 meditation practices, there is still this amazing amount of focus. Like having exercised a muscle the focus gets stronger in short order. You will notice an increase in your compassion and empathy towards others as well as towards yourself. Something about getting to know the way you tick helps you to understand the way everyone else ticks. And once you know that how mad can you really get a someone else, even if they screw up? So let’s get into the how of the thing.

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How does one meditate? I’m sure you envisioned some old guy, with a dope fu manchu, robes, and, a bald head. First off that’s profiling, and profiling is wrong… Just kidding things like that mental image come to mind when we think of meditation because that is the image we are fed by movies and it’s just not true. Yes there are sects of hermits that hide away in mountain cave and monasteries spending nearly every waking minute devoted to the practice of meditation. Most simplistically you can perform a serenity meditation (or as Buddhists, the O.G.s of meditation, call it Samatha for more check out the link). To do this style of meditation find a straight backed chair, one which you can sit with nice straight backed posture. The straighter your back the less fatigue you will feel. Or if you’d like to get even more traditional you can sit on the floor. If you choose to sit on the floor you’ll want to use a rolled up pillow or blankets to key your buns elevated above your knees, as for your legs any variation of cross legged posture you find comfortable will do. Play around with cushion configurations until you find the winner, everyone is different but if you’re willing you’ll find the winning combo. I prefer to take a bed pillow and roll it up, it sounds weird but it works for me. Once you’ve found a cozy little spot it’s time to get on the brain work. Your eyes can be open or half closed which ever you find more comfortable. Now breathe where do you feel your breath? Some answer under the nose, or the upper lip, still others find the rise and fall sensation of the diaphragm more noticeable, again it’s all about what works best for you. And… that’s it, set yourself a timer so you don’t stay too long, and just focus on that sensation in and out… in and out… or rise and fall lather, rinse, repeat. I know it sounds simple but the results are no less than profound. Let’s get mindful!

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Mindfulness is a little different from Serenity meditation in a few key ways but is no less profound in it’s effects. First, Mindfulness meditation has a few names. Mindfulness, Insight, or, Vipasana are all synonymous(for more on Vipassana check out the link). To practice mindfulness there really are no prerequisites. You merely need to pay attention to your senses and what arises you make a mental note. When you’re walking “left, right, etc”, when thinking “thinking”. The key is to keep the notes very vanilla and don’t attach to any one of them. The purpose is to build up a more objective point of view. For some this style is easier as it is more mobile and it can be taken any where. For others this method is too dry, it really comes down to you and your temperament and mental strengths. This article is just to pique your interests, and provide a little background knowledge

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Whether you seek to follow meditation to the point of Enlightenment or you just want to start a mental hygiene practice. Meditation has the ability to completely change your life for the better. It isn’t about morals or ethics but leads to a more moral and ethical individuals. You may catch some static from Christians stuck in the old way of things but you aren’t doing this for them. So stay strong, build that practice, and THRIVE!!

Remember it’s your practice own it!

By J.Martin

 

3 Characteristics of Existence, Dukhata

We’ve moved into the Third Characteristic of Existence, Dukhata. In case you missed the first 2 parts 3 Characteristics of Existence, Anatta and 3 Characteristics of Existence, Anicca . These 3 pieces comes together to explain the larger picture that the Buddha’s teaching was meant to address. So let’s dive in to some Dukhata.

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Dukhata or Dukha is the inherent principle of suck that life possesses. When asked what exactly Dukha was he said “To be separated from the pleasant, or united with the unpleasant, that is Dukha.” We talked a bit about Dukha in the The First Noble Truth, I see you talkin’ Dukha and as well as the rest of that series, we discovered Dukha exists at all levels. Even those movie stars and pop stars that are idolized know their fair share of Dukha. We think things like “If I were rich, I would run the world”, When in fact as Biggie said it best “Mo’ money, mo’ problems!!”. I know, I know, the rich have problems and they seem to be good problems to have. Look at all the people who sky-rocket to fame and fortune, only lose it all over night. There is a reason they call it the “Lottery Curse”. Once wealth, power, or, stature is gained, the likelihood of losing everything is more possible than increasing or maintaining it. So to many, victory, or gaining many possessions leaves a great many things to worry about. Protecting these gains can become a real problem, one that many of us don’t know anything about. Let’s expand on our view of Dukha.

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Let’s examine further the span that seems to have. In average everyday life we seem to find ourselves suffering some sense of lack, constantly in fact. Some of us desire things so badly that getting the object of desire isn’t close to the satisfaction of the release of the feeling of want we have been enduring. Yes you read that… we want to stop wanting. That’s it! We want to stop the ride and get off. The release from desire is that positive feeling we get when we get that hot new phone, that sweet zafu, or, really anything would could ever desire. To draw another parallel to a fire, when we add a big ol’ log to a campfire, what happens? The fire seems to go down a little at first. Then, that mofo goes wide open!! We are similarly inclined. We want something so bad it hurts, we get the thing or circumstance, then, the desire subsides a little. We get those warm and fuzzy feelings you might even say to your self “I am happy now”. But in due time the thirst for something else comes along and POW! All the sudden that iPhone isn’t as cool as the new plus… or that older laptop only has a 1 TB drive not 1.4, and, so on, you get the idea. Well what the Hell do we do about it?

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So in breaking down how we can remedy this let’s ponder the why. Why do we do this? Some of it has to do with ad campaigns, social media, the generic one-up game we are all caught in. Still more ways to pass the buck on this are blaming upbringing, family members, society, blah blah blah. Let’s get to the core of things, it’s us. Me, you, us, this desirous nature, we all have it. Time to burst the bubble. The change, that we’re after at least, happens when we can look objectively at ourselves.

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Meditation is a gold standard on fixing this problem. It’s one we have spent a lifetime, and depending on your particular beliefs, lifetimes building. When we meditate we can begin to create an objective mindset and grow into the perfect remedy for this rat race in which we have found ourselves. As trite as it may sound, it really is about freeing our minds, changing our feelings (in the Buddhist sense good, bad or, neutral), altering our perceptions (the mental labels we’ve added to arbitrary things), and finally, changing our mental formations (where we formulate our plans and actions and start creating karmas).

For more resources on meditation check these

Vipassana

Samatha

Mantra

Metta

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3 Characteristics of Existence, Anatta

Earlier this week we discussed Anicca/Impermanence (Anicca Link) and it’s bearing on our life experience as a whole. Now we’ll to the next thing that can make life suck, Anatta. Anatta is usually translated as selflessness, or no-self. Yes you read that correctly, no-self, Anatta… insert Oprah quote “You dont have a self, and you don’t have a self, and you don’t have a self.”. That is not to say you don’t exist but that core of this topic is there is no core to what we take to be ourselves. We as humans, just like all other things or phenomenon, being impermanent, are also devoid of a core.

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If we simply examine ourselves this becomes more and more apparent. We take ourselves to be a self or to have a self when in reality we aren’t and don’t. If you were to think of self you’d have 2 real, solid, choices, identity or difference with the body. Meaning you’d either have to identify this ‘self’ with the body or without the body. Identifying the self without the body would raise weird questions of… where does it hang out, how does it get there and how does my ‘self’ manage to come back here from moment to moment. Identifying self with the body makes slightly more sense until we really ponder that one. If ‘self’ is in this rig where does it live? In one place or dispersed throughout. If self were dispersed throughout then tying your pinky finger would equate to tying the whole person. If it lived in one localized spot, that would make more sense but when we consider how the body continues endures. We eat different foods, breathe in different particles of oxygen, expel various wastes, this whole process is a flux. How can something based on an ever changing pile of causes and conditions create a singular unchanging ‘self’? The answer it can’t. We are the result of a succession of moments adding on to the moments before it, like a chain going back into beginning-less time, with no real first point. What we call ourselves is really a process
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We are a process more like a flame (this is my favorite analogy to explain the individuation process). Imagine a candle you light the candle and walk away (don’t actually do that… it’s a terrible fire hazard) you come back and look at the candle. Is it the same? Not really, it is a process requiring air, wick, wax etc. all the ingredients are different from moment to moment. How can their product be the same continuous result? The answer it can’t, a math problem with changing variables cannot continuously result in the same answer. Now let’s take this analogy a little further. Let’s say at the end of this particular candle’s life, with the last wisps of flame, you catch the flame to another candle. The process of this flame now has a completely new basis air, wick, wax, all different. The only thing that is constant is the process which only appears as constant, and is actually ever changing. This is my favorite analogy for the process of selfhood because it also explains rebirth. No core, no nucleus, soul, atman, whatever you wish to phrase it, as is not essential to the process of individuation. The Buddha spoke a lot about this topic one of the most comprehensive theories of ‘self’ is that of the 5
Aggregates
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The 5 Aggregates could be their own in depth dissertation worthy of a masters in philosophy. To quickly name the list Form, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formations, and, Consciousness. Form being the physical organism, the meat sack we get to pilot. Feeling meaning Good, Bad, or, Neutral. It is the sensation we are met with as we come into contact with outside objects and ideas (not to be confused with emotions). Perceptions are the result of things coming into contact with their corresponding sense organ. For example sights contacting the eyes, sounds contacting the ears, tangibles contacting the tactile areas of the body etc. Mental Formations is a pretty heavy category that houses the emotions but more importantly the factors of will (karma – chosen actions). Consciousness built outta the sweet thinking meat. It processes all the others as well as it’s class of things; ideas, symbols, abstract stuffs, and, so on. The Buddha said that everything you could conceive your ‘self’ to be is in one or more of these categories. All of these things exist… you guessed it… with no ‘self’ or core behind them.
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This is a topic that is dear to me, as I spend a lot of time meditating on it. So if you want to discuss it or if you have any questions on the topic feel free to catch up with us in any of the places we social media!

3 Characteristics of Existence, Anicca

So if we’re going to talk big over arcing concepts of Buddhism one of the biggest would be the 3 Characteristics of Existence. They are so prevalent the Buddha said they are literally woven into the fabric of being. What are they? Anicca (pronounced A-knee-cha), Anatta (pronounced A-nah-tah), and Dukhata (pronounced Du-kah-tah). Those are the Pali words (Pali is the language of early Buddhist Canon, most likely spoken by the Buddha himself.), in English the best translation would be Impermanence, Selflessness, and, Unsatisfactoriness. As I said these factors are considered to be all up in the mix, meaning they cannot be separated from existence. Whether you’re rich or poor, smart or dull, weak or strong all of us come to know these 3 Characteristics of Existence without even realizing it. We’ll lay out each Characteristic in turn. First, comes Anicca or Impermanence.

Impermanence is so basic we all know it, we’ve all seen it. Some of us know it through loss of loved ones, friends that moved away, pets that passed away and so on. This Impermanence is caused by the simple fact that all phenomena, every existing thing or circumstance, is compounded. Simply stated nothing exists as an island. We are born with the fact that we will some day die, we make friends even though we will someday lose them, we pick a job or career despite the fact one day we’ll find another or retire. All of these circumstances and things are built on the foundation of other things, they have no core or nucleus

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It is said of this world of Samsara that it oppresses by means of rise and fall.  In a sense that is true, we go about our lives with a very narrow scope of reality, while hinging our happiness on things and circumstances that simply cannot last.  Nothing in endures, things may seem to last, and in a relative sense they do.  As anyone who has watched the Discovery Channel can tell you stars die, planets invert poles randomly, black holes eat solar systems, and, all the other crazy phenomenon that take place over trillions of years.  To us, in our small picture mindset, these things seem unending or unchanging because of the scale upon which they operate.  As the Buddha said all conditioned phenomenon will end.  Simply stated if the thing in question has a birthday, it will also have an end.  This would be the idea of causality, the idea that for anything to exist it’s causes must be in place and operative.

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So when most read this there is a tendency to get down about it.  I mean if it doesn’t last what is the point, right?  The answer lies in your point of view.  I like to see the positive notion that lies implicit.  All things even the bad ones end.  If your circumstances suck one way or another it will end.  When we use our intention we can influence whether things end badly or not.  When we know that all our relationships will someday come to an end isn’t that all the more reason to savor them?  Enjoy that hug, meal, day off, party night, quiet night in, and, so on because it like everything else will one day fade away.  Instead of living in mourning of what was, celebrate that it even got to happen at all.

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To really realize Anicca/Impermanence can be a bit of a bummer, but like most things your perception is your reality, finding the good in all things is a big part of becoming a self actualized being.  Not to mention it makes you a dope yogi!  This characteristic of existence can’t be swerved or changed but it can be accepted.  Accepting this factor of life will begin to open the door to gratitude, which is by far the greatest super power we existent beings possess.  So get out there and look Anicca in the eye and smile, no matter what you believe in nothing, we as finite beings can comprehend, lasts forever.  So go ahead and celebrate your Impermanence!