Archive for the ‘Book Notes’ Category

  • Creativity is the fragrance of individual freedom.
  • Consciousness is being, compassion is feeling, creativity is action.
  • Logic is dry, poetry is alive… Only poetry can love, only poetry can take the jump into the paradox of love.
  • Relaxation is like flowing, you cannot force it.
    • A relaxed person is simply non-obsessive, and the energy starts accumulating within me. He conserves his energy, it is conserved automatically, and then when the moment for action comes his total being flows into it. That’s why action is total.
  • … it simply falls, just like a dead leaf from the tree… when something drops by itself, on its own accord, it leaves no trace on you. If you force it then a trace is left, then a scar is left.
  • Relaxation comes to you when there is no urge to activity; the energy is at home, not moving anywhere.
  • Relaxation is an absence, absence of activity.
  • But for this type of energy the goal is never reached, because this type of energy goes on changing every present moment into a means for something else, into the future. The goal always remains on the horizon. You go on running, but the distance remains the same.
  • Be the celebrators, celebrate! Already there is too much – the flowers have bloomed, the birds are singing, the sun is there in the sky – celebrate it! You are breathing and you are alive and you have consciousness, celebrate it!
  • Here is all. The whole existence culminates in this moment, it converges into this moment.
  • Act unmotivated, just an overflow of your energy. Share but don’t trade, don’t make bargains. Give because you have, don’t give to take back – because then you will be in misery.
  • You need not become anything – simply realize who you are, that’s all.
  • What is to be practiced then? To be more and more at ease. To be more and more here and now. To be more and more in action, and less and less in activity. To be more and more hollow, empty, passive. To be more and more a watcher – indifferent, not expecting anything, not desiring anything. To be happy with yourself as you are. To be celebrating.
  • … allowing something to happen through you. It is not a doing, it is an allowing.

Life is occupied both in perpetuating itself and in surpassing itself; if all it does is maintain itself, then living is only not dying. – Simone de Beauvoir

  • You can be with the whole in harmony, or you can be in conflict with the whole in disharmony.
    • Harmony naturally results in a deep silence, joy, delight. Conflict results in anxiety, anguish, stress, tension.
  • Try to make something perfect and it will remain imperfect. Do it naturally and it is always perfect. Nature is perfect, effort is imperfect. So whenever you are doing something too much, you are destroying.
  • Whenever you try to perform something, you are seeking food for the ego.
  • Self-consciousness is weakness. Self-forgetfulness is strength.
  • These are the poets, the painters, the dancers, the musicians – they absorb the universe in deep receptivity and then they pour whatsoever they have absorbed into their imagination.
    • First you become receptive and then you become creative.
  • The true artist disappears utterly. These other people are only technicians; I will not call them artists but only technicians. I will not call them creators, I will call them only composers. yes, to compose a poem is one thing, to create a poem is quite another. To compose poetry one needs to know language, grammar, rules of poetics. It is a game with words and if you know the whole game, you can create poetry. It will not be very poetic, but it will have the appearance of poetry. Technically it may be perfect, but it will have only the body – the soul will be missing.
  • The real artist thinks certainly of totality but never of perfection.
    • On the contrary, the more they think of perfection the more neurotic they become. They have ideals. They are always comparing and they are always falling short.
  • A law need not to be known in order to function… Apples used to fall before Newtons, too!
  • … the questions that life raises are always new.
  • Experience always remains open… Belief is always complete and finished.
  • You work if you love it, don’t ask for recognition.
  • Life consists of small things.
  • Whenever you are creating, you will have the taste of life – and it will depend on your intensity, on your totality. Life is not a philosophical problem, it is a religious mystery. Then anything can become the door – even cleaning the floor. If you can do it creatively, lovingly, totally, you will have some taste of life.
  • A creator fools around. He does not know what is the right way to do a thing so he goes on seeking and searching again again in different directions.
  • Risk is his love affair.
  • You can vomit the same thing if you have not digested it, remember.
  • One who is ready to learn is a disciple, and the process of being ready to learn is discipline.

I know only one thing, that I know nothing. – Socrates

  • Try to be alive, with all its inconsistencies, and live each moment without any reference to the past and without any reference to the future either. Live the moment in the context of the moment, and your response will be total. And that totality has beauty and that totality is creativity. Then whatsoever you do will have a beauty of its own.

A housewife was so pleased with the promptness shown by the grocer’s boy that she asked him his name. “Shakespeare,” replied the boy.

“Well, that is quite a famous name.”

It should be. I have been delivering in this neighborhood for almost three years now.”

  • Life consists of small things. They become great if you love.
  • The greatness is in the consciousness that you bring while you do it.
  • You have a song in your heart to be sung and you have a dance to be danced, but the dance is invisible, and the song – even you have not heard it yet. It is deep down hidden in the innermost core of your being; it has to be brought to the surface, it has to be expressed. That’s what is meant by “self-actualization.”
  • Psychological memory vs. factual memory
  • In the present moment all past is contained, and in the present moment all future is potential.
  • Let the new penetrate you. Let the new come and thrill your heart. The past will be needed, but not now; the past will be needed when you start expressing this new experience. Then the past will be needed because the language will be needed – language comes from the past.
  • There is great difference between creation and composition. You go on arranging your old known things in different ways, but they are old; nothing is new there. you simply manage to change the structure.
    • Technician vs. creative person
  • The creative person is one who brings something from the unknown into the world of the known, who brings something from God into the world…
  • Meaning is always in reference to something bigger than you.
  • Life in itself has no meaning. Life is an opportunity to create meaning. Meaning has not to be discovered: it has to be created. You will find meaning only if you create it. It is not lying there somewhere behind the bushes, so you can go and you search a little bit and find it. It is not there like a rock that you will find. It is a poetry to be composed, it is a song to be sung, it is a dance to be danced.
  • Meaning is a by-product of richness.
  • Don’t allow you life to become just a dead ritual. Let there be moments, unexplainable. Let there be a few things that are mysterious, for which you cannot supply any reason. Let there be a few doing for which people will think you are a little crazy. A man who is a hundred percent sane is dead. A little bit of craziness by the side is always a great joy. Go on doing a few crazy things, too. And the meaning will be possible.
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Born to Run by Christopher McDougall

Posted: January 15, 2015 in Book Notes
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  • Every morning in Africa, a gazelle wakes up, it knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa, a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle, or it will starve. It doesn’t matter whether you’re the lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you’d better be running.

Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxes at all because we never push through the obstruction. – William James

When you run on the earth and run with the earth, you can run forever. – Tarahumara saying

  • Eat as though you were a poor person.
  • You can’t hate the beast and expect to beat it; the only way to truly conquer something, as every great philosopher and geneticist will tell you, is to love it.
  • Sometimes, making the “right choice” in life is difficult because it involves some sacrifice of our momentary pleasures… But framing any decision we face with the question “Will this bring me happiness?” can be a powerful strategy… Shifting the focus from what we are denying ourselves to what we are truly seeking – ultimate happiness.
  • If you possess this inner quality, a calmness of mind, a degree of stability within, then even if you lack various external facilities that you would normally consider necessary for happiness, it is still possible to live a happy and joyful life.
  • How can we achieve inner contentment? Not to have what we want, but rather to want what we have.
  • A tree with strong roots can withstand the most violent storm, but the tree can’t grow root just as the storm appears on the horizon.
  • If we think about the injustice done to us, the ways that we have been unfairly treated, and keep thinking about it over and over, it feeds the hatred. Through this constant familiarity and thinking, we ourselves can make our emotions more intense and powerful.
  • The ability to shift perspective – asking, “How can I see this differently?” – can be one of the most powerful and effective tools we have to help us cope with life’s daily problems.
  • The essential ingredients to happiness.
    • Determination, effort, time.
  • Feelings of grief and anxiety are natural responses to loss. But if you allow these feelings of loss and worry to persist, there’s danger: if these feelings are left unchecked, they can lead to a kind of self-absorption.
  • I’ve found that sincere motivation acts as an antidote to reduce fear and anxiety.
  • Real spiritual practice is in some sense like a voltage stabilizer. The function of the stabilizer is to prevent irregular power surges and instead give you a stable and constant source of power.

When Firdaus asked, “What do you have to thank Durga for? You worshipped her for nine days and on the tenth she took your wife.”

Pandit Pyarelal replied, “When you pray for what you most want in the world, its opposite comes along with it. I was given a woman whom I truly loved and who truly loved me. The opposite side of such a love is the pain of its loss. I can only feel such pain today because until yesterday I knew that love, and that is surely a thing for which to thank whoever or whatever you like, the goddess, or fate, or just my lucky stars.

  • No mysteries here or depths; only surfaces and revelations.
  • Again with the religious imagery. New images urgently needed to be made. Images for a godless world. Until the language of irreligion caught up with the holy stuff, until there was a sufficient poetry and iconography of godlessness, these sainted echoes would never fade, would retain their problematic power, even over her.
  • … a frontierless newfound land of infinite possibility.
  • [The words Hindu and Muslim] were merely descriptions, not divisions.
  • … her ravenous longing for something she could not yet name, and that as she grew older her life’s insufficiency would only grow harder and more painful to bear.
  • Thus power does its work by stealth, and the powerful can subsequently deny that their strength was ever used at all.
  • … not only discretion and seriousness but also complete docility, absolute compliance, maximum attentiveness, exceptional eagerness to please and unlimited access…
  • It is not easy to look down on others when one’s own position lacks elevation.
  • All that remained between them was death, but the deferment of death was life.
  • He went into his blighted apple orchard, seated himself cross-legged beneath a tree, closed his eyes, heard the verses of the Rig-Veda fill the world with beauty and ceased upon the midnight with no pain.

 

The Palace of Power

“The palace of power is a labyrinth of interconnecting rooms,” Max once said to his sleepy child. She imagined it into being, walked towards it, half-dreaming, half-awake. “It’s windowless,” Max said, “and there is no visible door. Your first task is to find out how to get in. When you’ve solved that riddle, when you come as a supplicant into the first anteroom of power, you will find in it a man with the head of a jackal, who will try to chase you out again. If you stay, he will try to gobble you up. If you can trick your way past him, you will enter a second room, guarded this time by a man with the head of a rabid dog, and in the room after that you’ll face a man with the head of a hungry bear, and so on. In the last room but one there’s a man with the head of a fox. This man will not try to keep you away from the last room, in which the man of true power sits. Rather, he will try to convince you that you are already in that room and that he himself is that man. If you succeed in seeing through the fox-man’s tricks, and if you get past him, you will find yourself in the room of power. The room of power is unimpressive and in it the man of power faces you across an empty desk. He looks small, insignificant, fearful; for now that you have penetrated his defences he must give you your heart’s desire. That’s the rule. But on the way out the fox-man, the bear-man, the dog-man and the jackal-man are no longer there. Instead, the rooms are full of half human flying monsters, winged men with the heads of birds, eagle-men and vulture-men, man-gannets and hawk-men. They swoop down and rip at your treasure. Each of them claws back a little piece of it. How much of it will you manage to bring out of the house of power? You beat at them, you shield the treasure with your body. They rake at your back with gleaming blue-white claws. And when you’ve made it and are outside again, squinting painfully in the bright light and clutching your poor, torn remnant, you must persuade the skeptical crowd- the envious, impotent crowd- that you have returned with everything you wanted. If you don’t, you’ll be marked as a failure forever.”

Breathing in, I know I am breathing in.
Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.
In/Out.

Breathing in, I see myself as a flower.
Breathing out, I feel fresh.
Flower/Fresh.

Breathing in, I see myself as a mountain.
Breathing out, I feel solid.
Mountain/Solid.

Breathing in, I see myself as still water.
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.
Water/Reflecting.

Breathing in, I see myself as space.
Breathing out, I feel free.
Space/Free.

  • Our body is here, but our mind is somewhere else – in the past or the future, possessed by anger, frustration, hopes, or dreams.
  • As we breathe in, we know we are breathing in, and as we breathe out, we know we are breathing out.
  • Breathing in, I am aware of my eyes. Breathing out, I smile to my eyes.
  • When we get in touch with our eyes, our heart, our liver, our breathing, and our non-toothache and really enjoy them, we see that the conditions for peace and happiness are already present.
  • Peace is already with them. We only need to help them cultivate the habit of touching peace in each moment.
  • In the way that a gardener knows how to transform compost into flowers, we can learn the art of transforming anger, depression, and racial discrimination into love and understanding.
  • We live in forgetfulness, looking for happiness somewhere else, ignoring and crushing the precious elements of happiness that are already in us and around us.
  • When mindfulness touches something beautiful, it reveals its beauty. When it touches something painful, it transforms and heals it.
  • We believe that happiness is possible only in the future. That is why the practice “I have arrived” is very important. The realization that we have already arrived, that we don’t have to travel any further, that we are already here, can give us peace and joy. The conditions for our happiness are already sufficient.
    • There is no need for us to struggle to arrive somewhere else. We know that our final destination is the cemetery. Why are we in a hurry to get there? Why not step in the direction of life, which is in the present moment?
  • We have to live in a way that liberates the ancestors and future generations who are inside of us.
  • Everything we do for ourselves is for others, everything we do for others is for us.
  • The happiness of one person
    • We see that the other person, like us, has both flowers and compost inside, and we accept this. Our practice is to water the flowerness in her and not bring her more garbage. We avoid blaming and arguing. When we try to grow flowers, if the flowers do not grow well, we do not blame or argue with them. We blame ourselves for not taking care of them well. Our partner is a flower. If we take care of her well, she will grow beautifully. If we take care of her poorly, she will wither. To help a flower grow well, we must understand her nature. How much water does she need? How much sunshine?
    • Each of us has our own suchness (difficulties, aspirations, suffering, anxiety). If we want to live in peace and happiness with another person, we have to understand his or her suchness and our own.
    • “This is difficult, darling, but I have faith you can do it.”
    • Living together is an art. Even with good will, you can make your partner quite unhappy. Art is the essence of life. We have to be artful in our speech and action. The substance of art is mindfulness.
    • You form a community of two in order to practice of live – taking care of each other , helping your partner blossom, and making happiness something real in that small community.
My friend, do not rely on anything outside of yourselves. Be an island unto yourself, and take refuge in the island of yourself. – Buddha
  • See how
    • I have seed of unkindness and anger as well as the habit energy to make the other person unhappy.
    • I have mistakenly thought that making the other person suffer would relieve my own suffering.
    • By making him or her suffer, I make myself suffer.
  • “I am sorry, I was unmindful. I got angry too easily and without any basis. Please forgive me.”
  • …tax their bodies and minds…
  • We have to teach ourselves and our children how to appreciate the simple joys that are available.
  • We have to make the effort to heal words by using them properly and carefully.
  • … loving speech and deep listening…
  • I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure.
  • The teaching of interbeing
    • Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos.
  • Life is an art. We should all be artists in order to live a happy life.
    • During dinner time we feel grateful that we are together, we have food to eat, and we really enjoy the food and the presence of each other.
  • We have to find ways to rebuild the foundations of our communities and to offer people something to believe in.
  • Mindfulness is something we can believe in.
    • It is our capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment.
  • Faith is the first of five powers taught by the Buddha.
    • Energy -> Mindfulness -> Concentration -> Understanding
    • A good friend is someone who can inspire faith.
  • You will never find a perfect sangha.
    • An imperfect sangha is good enough. Rather than complain too much about your sangha, do your best to transform yourself in a good element of the sangha. Accept the sangha and build on it.
  • A sangha is also a community of resistance, resisting the speed, violence, and unwholesome ways of living that are prevalent in our society.
  • To know how to reborn into a new life at every moment is the secret of eternal youth.
  • There is an old age much more dangerous and much more real than the amassing of years: the incapacity to grow and progress.
  • Above all, one must be convinced of a limitless possibility of progress.
  • … Avoid wasting your energies in useless agitation. Whatever you do, do it in a quiet and composed poise. In peace and silence is the greatest strength.
  • Consecrate your life to the realization of something higher and broader than yourself and you will never feel the weight of the passing years.
  • The moment one is satisfied and no longer aspires, one begins to die. Life is movement, it is effort, it is a march forward, the scaling of a mountain, the climb towards new revelations, towards future realizations.
  • Each new dawn brings the possibility of a new progress. We move forward without haste, for we are sure of the future.
  •  Expect nothing from death. Life is your salvation.
    • It is in life that you must transform yourself. It is upon earth that you progress and it is upon earth that you realize. It is in the body that you win the Victory.
  • Don’t confuse the teacher with the lesson, the ritual with the ecstasy, the transmitter of the symbol with the symbol itself.
    • The Tradition is linked to our encounter with the forces of life and not with the people who bring this about.
  • Pity those who seek for shepherds, instead of longing for freedom!
  • Everything moves, and everything moves to a rhythm. And everything that moves to a rhythm creates a sound.
  • What is a teacher? I’ll tell you: it isn’t someone who teaches something, but someone who inspires the student to give of her best in order to discover what she already knows.
    • The true teacher gives the disciple the courage to throw his or her world off balance, even though the disciple is afraid of things already encountered and more afraid still of what might be around the next corner.
  • It’s the same thing with repetition: it may seem the same, but it’s always different.
  • In order to forget the rules, you must know them and respect them.
  • The important thing is to allow fate to intervene in our lives and to decide what is best for everyone.
  • Like all storms, it will pass. The more violent it is, the more quickly it will pass.
  • We don’t believe that God made the universe. We believe that God is the universe and that we are contained in Him, and He in us.
    • … here we are part of everything and we celebrate rather than pray.
  • The truth is that with each step we take, we arrive.
    • You are on the right path… arriving with each step you take.
  • When we step out of our normal world and leave behind us all the usual barriers and prejudices, we tend to become more adventurous.
  • Everything is worship if you are focus on the present moment.
    • When you are washing up, pray. Be thankful that there are plates to be washed; that means there was food, that fed someone, that you’ve lavished care on one or more people, that you cooked and laid the table.
  • Laugh at your worries and insecurities. View your anxieties with humor.
  • … because we all know everything: it’s merely a question of believing.
  • Live now what others will only live in the future.
  • [Love] It cannot be held prisoner because it is a river and will overflow its banks. Anyone who tries to imprison love will cut off the spring that feeds it, and the trapped water will grow stagnant and rank.
  • Anyone who believes they have failed will always fail. Anyone who has decided that they cannot behave any differently will be destroyed by routine. Anyone who has decided to block all changes will be transformed into dust.
  • … there were two traditions, one that makes us repeat the same thing for centuries at a time, and another that opens the door into the unknown.
  • … common sense will prevail and religions will revert to being a refuge for the weak, who are always in search of guidance.
  • In order for the more substantial pieces of wood to catch fire, the kindling must burn first. In order for us to liberate the energy of our strength, our weakness must first have a chance to reveal itself.

Wolf Totem by Jiang Rong

Posted: October 8, 2013 in Book Notes
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  • Tengger is the father, the grassland is the mother, and the wolves kill only animals that harm the grassland.
  • War demands patience. Opportunities present themselves only to the patient…
  • The nomadic inhabitants safeguarded the “big life” – the survival of the grassland and of nature were more precious than the survival of people. Tillers of the land, on the other hand, safeguarded “little lives” – the most prescious of which were people, their survival the most important. But as Bilgee had said, without the big life, the little lives were doomed.
  • Half of a Mongol is hunter. If we could not hunt, our lives would be like meat with no salt, tasteless.
  • Chinese write their books to advocate Chinese causes. The Mongols suffer because they can’t write books.
  • On the Mongolian grassland, peace does not follow peace, but danger always follows danger.
  • …we’re farming people, not nomads, and we seek to impose our habits and customs on other people.
  • The grassland had always been a battlefield, and those that survived were the strongest and wisest, the ones best suited to eating and fighting, animals who could eat their fill yet never forget what it was like to be hungry.
  • The most important thing for an overpopuplated race is to stay alive. There can’t be any nutrients left over to feed aesthetic cells.
  • It is very important to surround yourself with people who have loving kindness, understanding, and compassion, because day and night we are influenced by the collective consciousness.
  • When you observe your mind, you use your mind… If your mind is caught in anger, confusion, discrimination, then it’s not clear enough to do the work of observation, even if you have expensive scientific instruments.
  • It’s not important that you remember what was said, but that you are free.
  • The nature of a seed is that its manifestation, its fruit, is already contained in the seed.
    • You need a few conditions to help them manifest.
    • The seed and the fruit are not two different things.
    • You need the kind of environment where the seed of Buddhahood can manifest to the maximum. These are supporting conditions.
  • Sometimes obstacles and difficulties help you to succeed.
    • If the pine encounters only easy conditions along the way, then its roots may not go as deeply and firmly in the earth, and when the strong winds come it may be blown over.
  • A practitioner should be strong in order to accept both kinds of supporting causes: same direction or opposite direction.
  • Transformation and healing need to be steady and continuous.
  • Everywhere there is a perception, there is a delusion.
  • The Four Reflective Inquiries
    1. The Name – We tend to believe that since the name remains the same, the reality has remained the same also.
    2. The Meaning of the Word – We are always ready to label things with the names and concepts that we already have.
    3. Conventional Designation
    4. The Particular
  • Nondualism gives rise to nonviolence.
  • The nature of interbeing: Everything contains everything else; everything penetrates everything else. Looking into the one, you see the presence of the many, the presence of the all.
  • Every thought, every speech, every act bears your signature – you can’t escape.
    • If you produce something not so beautiful you can’t take it back – it has already gone out ahead in the future and begun to produce a chain of action and reaction.
  • We are a continuation. It’s like the stream of water on Earth is a continuation of the cloud in the sky. And the stream of water has not been born. It’s only a continuation of the cloud.
    • A cloud may become rain or snow or ice or water. But it is impossible for a cloud to become nothing.
  • The substance with which the future is made is the present moment.
    • If there is peace, harmony, right effort, and mindfulness now, we know the future will be good.
  • The Six Paramita (The Six Perfections)
  • When your heart is small, you suffer a lot. But when your heart becomes bigger, very big, then the same thing does not make you suffer anymore. So the secret is how to help your heart to grow.
  • Liberation is found on the other shore. But it is not a matter of time, not a matter of distance to reach the other shore – it is a matter of insight, of realization.
    • Releasing the shore of ignorance, of delusion, of attachment, of wrong perceptions we are already touching the shore of freedom, of happiness. It is not a matter of time.
  • When we love each other, we are not the possession of the other, we are not an object of consumption for the other person. Love has the substance of maitri inside, that is, the capacity to offer friendship and happiness.
  • The four element of love
    • Maitri – friendship
    • Karuna – loving kindness
    • Mudita – joy
    • Upeksha – equanimity, non-discrimination
  • You don’t really need a lot of money, or fame, or power to be happy. We need mindfulness in order to be happy. We need freedom – freedom from our worries, craving, and anxiety – so we are able to get in touch with the wonders of the life that are available in the here and the now.
  • The Five Earth-Touchings

Walking Meditation

The mind can go in a thousand directions.
But on this beautiful path, I walk in peace.
With each step, the wind blows.
With each step, a flower blooms.

I have arrived.
I am home
in the here,
in the now.
I am solid.
I am free.
In the ultimate
I dwell.