Sunday, July 27, 2008

Pain vs Suffering a workout

By being aware of physical pain and mental suffering we can transcend suffering.

If we think of the human body as a robot with a mechanical body and a computer for a central communication system it might help us better understand its function. All the mechanical parts are necessary but it only produces movement by the computers command. The major mechanics would be the cardiovascular system, muscular system, and skeletal system. The computer would be the nervous system. The nervous system is broken down into two parts, the central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and the peripheral nervous system (nerves that branch out from the brain and spinal cord) to the entire body. The peripheral nervous system is loaded with sensory receptors that gather information about our internal and external environments, this information gets transferred to the central nervous system for processing, then back out to the peripheral nervous system for the body's neuromuscular response. For example when you touch something hot the sensory receptors in your hand sense the change in temperature, this information gets sent to you brain where it gets interpreted as danger, then this information gets sent back out to the peripheral nervous system and your hand automatically retracts from the hot object. This seems to happen independent of mind activity such as thought, contemplation or rational discrimination.

When it comes to improving the body's physical fitness the body must be stressed according to the intended goal. For example when we are looking to improve the body's stability we must place it in an unstable environment. Keep in mind that when I use the word stress here it has no negative connotations. It simply means to take the body safely beyond its current level of fitness. This means constantly exploring new physical capabilities. Eventually the body adapts and comes to a plateau. If further improvement is desired the body needs to be put under new stresses. You could call this exploring the unknown with the body. The more we look into the actual function of the body we see that its constantly changing and adapting to its internal and external environments which are constantly changing. Now lets take a look at how the mind relates to the exploration of the unknown.

As I pointed out in the last paragraph the body functions as a living organism capable of interpreting its internal and external environments and responding with or without the mind. Yes this comment may seem bold and will definitely ruffle some feathers to those of you who place the highest level of importance on your own rational minds. Now I am not at all saying the mind, rational and irrational as it is has no importance. What I am saying is that the mind is no more important than any other function that makes up a human being. Just like the sensory receptors of the peripheral nervous system, the mind plays an equal role in the survival of a human being.

The mind has an amazing capability to cross reference past experience with present conditions which assist survival. For instance the central and peripheral nervous systems play a role in retracting the hand from the frying pan on the hot stove so it dose not get burned. It seems almost simultaneously the mind records this experience as memory. This memory is what we call knowledge, you now know that when you touch the frying pan on the hot stove you will get burned. If it wasn't for the mind the body would be constantly learning some pretty tough lessons. Just imagine having to touch the hot pan every time you cooked instead of remembering that the hot pan burns. You would be walking around with some pretty charred up hands. So this is the nature of the mind to constantly interpret by cross referencing the present moment with a past memory.

The mind can only dwell in the known or the memory of the known. This is why we are so uncomfortable with not knowing, big changes, and being confused. If we depend on the mind in a fresh new unknown (to the mind) moment we will suffer. In a sense you could say the mind can only judge a book by its cover, and if we remember how the saying goes this will most often lead to misinterpretation. To misinterpret is to not see things clearly and to not see things clearly doesn't give much potential for an appropriate response. If we watch the mind objectively as we are pushing the body beyond its current level of fitness (the unknown) we can see the minds efforts which most often result in aversion due to a past memory or the fact that pain in any form is uncomfortable. So dose the minds aversion to pain mean that pain is bad. I think we all know the answer to that, no, pain is a part of the human body's existence, it is what it is, like it or not.There is a difference between discomfort and pain that signals potential injury to the body. A fitness professional can help you distinguish between the two. The fact is that the body experiences pain from birth to death, but who suffers?

This brings us to an interesting question. Who suffers? If we are aware of the body sensing pain and we are aware of the mind in aversion to it, who is aware of the body and mind. Don't answer too quickly, investigate. Go work out, get healthy and be aware of your body, mind, and the relation between them. Be aware of the sensation of your muscles while they are burning, be aware of your mind resisting or doing what ever its doing. Both are impermanent, be aware as they come and go, be objective, silent, awareness.You will soon discover that suffering is not necessary.

The same is true of your whole life, Enjoy!

Why Fat Free Buddha?

Fat free Buddha philosophy
Fat free Buddha's philosophy is in the name. It's awakening, with nothing extra, no fillers, no spiritual fluff, just direct awareness (It's just like this). Awakening to your life as it is, and responding to it as it is. To be a Buddha is to respond appropriately, and this starts with you, your life, your body , your mind. There's this image of the Buddha as this pudgy, sedentary, inactive, awakened being who promoted seated meditation and a spiritual life -- a life that seems to look nothing like the one in front of us right now. Would the Buddha have not treated his own body with as much compassion as he treated every other living organism?

One of the most common shared understandings is ,"being I have to lead a (house holders) life I don't have the time to give to a life of meditation, better luck next lifetime". What if the Buddha did not want to teach people how to be or what their lives should look like, but how to look at their life directly as it is. What if the Buddha did not teach how to be a good Buddhist, but how to awaken to the true nature of our existence. That becoming a "good Buddhist" is just a natural by product of gaining deeper understanding of ones life. Buddha means literally (the awakened one). What we can do is kill the Buddha or cut the fat off the Buddha, which means throw away the historical image of the Buddha and find the Buddha/awakened one in the very life we are living. What would it look like to cut the fat off the Buddha?

This would mean letting go of all concepts of how to be and not try to be like the Buddha or any historical enlightened being but do what the Buddha and others have done. Have a direct intimacy with our lives, get up close with every moment, objectively study ourselves. Two obvious factors of our experience are, one there is a body that functions voluntarily and involuntarily, two there is a mind that functions voluntarily and involuntarily. The third and not so obvious factor to our existence is this presence,this sense of being before the thought of being this or that , this that makes every thing alive, this that is aware of this body and mind. We can use awareness to get up close and study ourselves. How well do we understand our body's and minds? Have we ever really taken the time to look for ourselves what is happening right here, now, without an idea of what should be happening or what it should look like?

Fat Free Buddha is an invitation to take a look for yourself! Through tuning into the body we have the ability to gain deep insight into our lives. All to often we look to others to understand ourselves instead of looking deeply into the very moment in which what we are trying to understand is happening. We want someone to tell us whats going on so we can know how to respond to our lives appropriately. We want someone to tell us what to do to get the results that we want but we rarely want to become intimate with the proses. Imagine I asked someone for a map of the very territory I was walking on, and as I was walking I was looking at the map to try and figure out the easiest safest route to walk. Now imagine I couldn't interpret the map until after I was already on the territory because my mind could not keep up with my walking. I would be finding myself on unsafe territory and over correcting at times, which would send me right back onto more unsafe territory just repeating the same process. Now that just wouldn't work out to well would it, and for me in my lifetime it hasn't. Not that looking to others is not useful, sometimes others can give us good maps of the territory we are looking to understand. But we don't need to stop there we can use the map to see that we are already on the territory and experience it ourselves. In this case the map will lead you right back to your own life as it is in the very present moment. So start there or should I say start here. Your body, your mind, your life.

It takes a simple approach to find a simple truth, Good Day

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Awareness and Appropriate Response

The broader our awareness of our ever present moment and (ALL) that it includes, the more appropriately,(i.e freely) we can respond rather than blindly react to our whole life. What is your whole life? What ever is present right now. If you are a human being reading this, that (right now) includes a body, a mind, and what some might call spirit. What would it look like to respond appropriately to your body? A healthy and balanced diet:proper ratio of carbs, fats, proteins, and calorie intake based on your body type, proper mineral and vitamin intake, and proper hydration. A regular exercise routine done safely and efficiently: flexibility, cardio, stability, core, resistance, balance, and reactive for a total program for functional mobility. Last but not least, adequate rest. What would it look like to respond to your mind appropriately? Simply bring awareness to its function. Awareness brings understanding, understanding breaks down false identification with conditioned, habitual thought patterns which gives space for an appropriate response rather than a blind reaction. What would it look like to respond appropriately to spirit? Spirit is your life, just become intimate with it, bring awareness to your whole life. Regular meditation is key, and not as difficult as it seems. Meditation is always happening (right now), most are just not aware of it due to ideas and concepts of what it is. Being that it is happening every moment we are alive we cant miss it if we just bring awareness to the present moment . Awareness reveals appropriate response, appropriate response reveals peace and clarity of mind.

When I talk about "awareness" its very simple and direct. Not some mystical, spiritual, deep meditative ability. Although the insights one might have upon looking at any aspect of ones life with "direct, objective, awareness" can be profound. Why is that? Objective awareness is awareness before mind activity, that which is aware of mind activity such as thought, perception,and so on. When I turn this awareness on the mental activity happening here and now at any given moment I realize how crazy, creative, rational, and limited this mind is. When I rest in awareness this mind is no hindrance. When its crazy I watch it, then when it judges itself for being crazy I watch it. When its rational I watch it, then if it claims rational superiority I watch it. Being it has this tenancy towards extremes I can find myself in the middle,centered, balanced in awareness seeing things clearly as they are with now the potential to respond appropriately. Profoundly simple, or simply profound! Take a look! An invitation to explore awareness. Have fun!!!!!

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Finding meaning and purpose

Whats my purpose in life? Whats the meaning behind it all? This seems to be one of the biggest questions people ask the wise sages of the past and present. How about this, no thing has meaning and every thing is the meaning. The meaning or purpose is whats unfolding as your life right now, like it or not. It seems we only become aware of the thirst for purpose or meaning when we find ourselves in doubt and confusion. When we like the way our life looks we are fine with the purpose being whats happening here now, even though we usually have a skewed misinterpretation of what it is that's happening or what is going to happen. When we don't like the way our life looks we start to look for purpose outside of whats unfolding here now. The meaning behind it all is in every moment, and the purpose is to completely be it, whatever it is in every moment.