Enjoy The Ride

This is the last section from the final chapter of 'Neurodharma' by Rick Hanson:

Enjoy the Ride

It's a wild life. Here we are on a small planet going around an ordinary star on the edge of one galaxy amidst a couple of trillion others. Nearly 14 billion years have passed since our universe bubbled into being. And here we are now. Countless creatures have died so that tiny improvements in their capabilities could be stabilised through evolution in increasingly complex species, and eventually in us today. So many, many things have happened already. And here we are.

It's strange isn't it, this life? You live and love and then you leave. My time will come, and yours, and everyone else's. Meanwhile, we can be gobsmacked with awe and gratitude , and committed to enjoying this life as best we can while learning as much as we can and contributing as much as we can each day.

Along the way, take in the good, helping your beneficial experiences sink in and become lasting strengths inside, woven into the fabric of your body. So many opportunities for this mindful cultivation occur in even the hardest life. Recognise what is wholesome, helpful, beautiful in yourself and in others and in everything. Let it land in you, becoming you.

I once asked the teacher Joseph Goldstein about an experience while wondering if I was on the right track. He listened and nodded and said, "Yes, that's it." And then he emailed and said, "Keep on going." (p. 252)

   -  Rick Hanson

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Today, like every other day

Today, like every other day, we wake up

empty

and frightened. Don't open the door to the 

study

and begin reading. Take down the dulcimer.

 

Let the beauty we love be what we do.

There are hundreds of ways to kneel and

kiss the ground.

 

 - Rumi

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Buddha Travels West

The following is an extract from the article 'Buddha Travels West' by Peter Abbs, published in the journal 'Philosophy Now' ( Issue 38, June/July 2020)

Talking about the work of Stephen Bachelor, contemporary scholar and ex-Buddhist monk, Abbs says in his concluding paragraph:

'What matters most for Bachelor is the search for personal meaning. He links this to the historical Buddha, who always demoted large metaphysical questions and their dogmatic answers and promoted an open quest for understanding based on the mindful examination of experience, on meditation, and on work within the sangha - the community. What may be perennially significant in Buddhism is precisely this pilgrimage for wisdom within and solidarity without - a search which in the West has been darkly overshadowed by the blinkered pursuit of objective knowledge and technological mastery. We now need to place alongside science and technology the counterpart of wisdom and the courage to be. Or to express it more politically, we need to marry the political triad of liberty, equality and fraternity with the spiritual triad of being, reflecting and caring. For in our bewildered global age the marriage of two forms of enlightenment is now possible: of the rational and the spiritual ... and our very survival may well depend upon it. (p21)

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The Plague & The Plague

From 'The Plague & The Plague' by Dylan Daniel published in 'Philosophy Now' (Issue 138, June/July2020)

'In essence, The Plague was written to teach us to treasure the moments of happiness and joy we share, just because humanity is, absurdly, ridiculously, painfully inadequately equipped to cope with stressors and stimuli it encounters. How could it not be so? The passing of time dulls our attention to detail, and despite the power of our civilisation, the mass of humanity remains slow to responds to threats. The quintessence of the absurdity of existence for Camus in The Plague - just as it is for us reacting to our current plague - is that individuals die when the collective fails to recognise or respond adequately to foreseeable threats. So, as predicted by the narrator of The Plague, 'the plague' is not over and will likely never be over. We can only hope and love and act, and be as good as we can be. Yet it is no more right to say we deserve our fate (as father Paneloux would have it), than it's correct to assume that one day the mass of humanity will be able to respond to all threats to it without loss of life. And insofar as we continue to live unawares in the midst of this conflict between our species and nature, life and death will continue to be dictated by means beyond our control, even our understanding. That is to say, life will remain absurd.' (p. 24)

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Good Practice

The following is taken from 'Neurodharma' by Rick Hanson:'

'Try to approach each day as an opportunity for practice. It's a chance to learn about yourself, manage your reactions, heal and grow. When you first wake up, you could establish the intention to practice that day. Then, as you go to sleep, you could appreciate how you practiced that day.

Bring to mind someone you respect. perhaps it's someone you know personally, or whose words you've heard or read. Pick something that you find admirable about this person. Then see if you can get some sense of this quality already present in yourself. It might feel subtle, but it's real and you can develop it. For a day or longer, focus on bringing this quality into your experience and actions, and see how this feels. And then try this practice using other people you respect and other qualities you'd like to develop.

Every so often, slow down to recognise that life in general, and your body and brain in particular, are making this moment's experience of hearing and seeing, thinking and feeling.

When you want, just be with your experience for a minute or more, without trying to change them in any way. This is the fundamental practice: accepting sensations and feelings and thoughts as they are, adding as little as possible to them, and letting them flow as they will. Overall, a growing sense of simply letting be can fill your day' (p21 -22)

Of course we can add other personal 'practices' -  physical exercise, spiritual practices, creative activities, music, service to others, to our daily lives.

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