Removing Suffering In The Modern Age

Get Results: pain we create is avoidable
Get Results: pain we create is avoidable

I recently came across a question in a discussion group, which went..

“Attachments and expectations are the main reason for suffering and disappointment, It’s easy to say let go of attachments but how in ‘real’ life can we be without attachments and emotions, I mean not everybody can leave our loved ones in the midnight and go to a forest and just meditate under a tree, come on lets be practical, so my question is how to be like Buddha in this modern age?”

This is an interesting question, and one I’ve contemplated myself many times. The question misses something though. There is another element that is required for suffering to take place. As well as EXPECTATIONS and ATTACHMENTS you need PERCEPTION OF REALITY. These are all elements of what is known in spirituality circles as “THE PAIN GAP”, otherwise known as the EQUATION OF EMOTIONS. If we can change our perceptions, which are conditioned into us by the society we grow up in, we can break the pain gap. Our perceptions come from our beliefs and values, which are built on assumptions and inferences rather than facts and evidence. If you don’t believe me, question yourself about your own beliefs and values, where are they from, what are they based on?

As well as dealing with our perceptions of reality, we can work on reducing or removing our EXPECTATIONS for any given situation, whilst reducing or removing our ATTACHMENTS.

Rather than holding any EXPECTATIONS, we should instead embrace a sense of appreciation. Nothing in life is promised, so being grateful is a much healthy psychological position to take.

ATTACHMENTS are, by their very nature, impermanent. The life that you live, the house that you live in, the car that you drive, the relationships that you share, are all destined to end one day. Accepting this fact, while enjoying them while they last is much more pain free than refusing to accept the reality of the situation. Surrendering to WHAT IS, is the sensible thing to do.

If any one of these elements is resolved, PERCEPTION OF REALITY, EXPECTATIONS, or ATTACHMENTS, we can reduce or remove the pain gap (otherwise known as the equation of emotion), which will reduce or remove suffering from our lives.

However ultimately we should aim to do as Thrangu Rinpoche advises in Pointing Out the Dharmakaya.

“We cannot get rid of suffering by saying, “I will not suffer.” We cannot eliminate attachment by saying, “I will not be attached to anything,” nor eliminate aggression by saying, “I will never become angry.” Yet, we do want to get rid of suffering and the disturbing emotions that are the immediate cause of suffering.

The only way to eliminate suffering is to actually recognize the experience of a self as a misconception, which we do by proving directly to ourselves that there is no such personal self. We must actually realize this. Once we do, then automatically the misconception of a self and our fixation on that self will disappear. Only by directly experiencing selflessness can we end the process of confused projection.”

For more about spirituality, check out our spirituality guide, and a number of spirituality posts.

Fulfilment Is Not Beyond Achievement

Get Results: achievement and fulfilment
Get Results: achievement and fulfilment

In the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to get swept along with the emotion of circumstance. Sometimes there may be good days, other times, bad. Debts might be piling up in one corner of life, relationship problems in another, an upcoming holiday to look forward to elsewhere, which gives us a sense of hope.

We might feel we are finally getting somewhere, only to find the next moment pulls us back a dozen steps, like a frustrating game of snakes and ladders.

Society has conditioned us to be restless, we have been taught to strive for more if we want to be more. We are shown what could be, if we work hard enough and do what needs to be done, particularly in the accumulation of wealth and status.

If we’re lucky to climb a few rungs towards success, we might feel some sense of achievement, at least for a short while, but underneath it all there is usually a sense of “is this it?”

Well the pursuit of achievement is a fools errand, if you’re looking for fulfilment. You see achievement is conditional, it depends on something outside of yourself happening. Fulfilment is not at the end of this road, you will never find it beyond achievement or success, it’s somewhere else entirely, it’s inside you.

Jim Carrey, wearing his philosophy hat said “I think everybody should get rich and famous and do everything they ever dreamed of so they can see that it’s not the answer.”

Something I discovered a while ago was to learn to look at life through fresh eyes, to strip away all the BS, and focus on the really important things, the things that matter, and what are they you may ask? Well a truly enlightened person would say, there isn’t anything that really matters, because everything you can engage or interact with is part of “form” which is by it’s very nature, fleeting and impermanent.

The house you live in, might be legally owned by you, but in reality, it’s not yours, it will pass to someone else at some point in the future, whether you like it or not. Same with the car in the driveway, and all of your possessions.

Even the relationships you currently enjoy, will pass over one day.

You can accumulate all the wealth in the world, a billion dollars if you like, but one day, that too will be gone from your possession, you can’t take it from this life. You can’t take any form beyond death.

In reality, you own nothing of form, and that shouldn’t really be a troubling thought, because, form doesn’t matter, in the great scheme of things, it just isn’t important. It’s within the realms of achievement.

So if achievement and the pursuit of form is a fools errand, what should we be focused on, what should we spend our attention on, where will we find fulfilment?

Well, EVERYTHING ELSE, is the answer, and what is everything else, when you take away FORM, which is the physical world? Eckhart Tolle would answer… THE FORMLESS. The formless that allows form to be, after all, without space, the planets could not orbit, without the observer of form, form could not be.

Space, the formless is not something you can see or touch, that is the problem for many, they only believe what they can see, touch and prove, everything else is seen as fantasy.

At the same time, we are happy to be completely controlled, directed and driven by THOUGHT, we “think” more than we do anything else. We incessantly talk to ourselves in our heads, reliving past glories, re-running past arguments, projecting future scenarios, telling ourselves stories of this and that. We use thoughts to work things out, to make sense of things, and to find answers. Yet thoughts can’t be touched or seen in the material world, yet they exist without doubt. But thought are not formless in the sense that, we should be focusing our attention on them, in fact, we should be spending less time than we do in thought, particularly emotionally driven thought that we invest in, with our sense of self.

We should use thought, and not be used by it. It’s a kind of form focused formless ability that we have, but it’s not who we are. Thought is in fact a barrier to finding who or what we really are. Take BELIEFS, which are really just rigid thought patterns; we hold onto them, defend them, fight for them, even kill for them. They are our beliefs and they matter to us. In reality most beliefs are built on assumptions and inferences, rather than evidence and fact. Go through your beliefs, write them down, then ask yourself where they come from, what are they based on? Show me the evidence of your convictions.

Beyond THOUGHT and beyond FORM is where we should be focusing attention, it’s the space and formless that flows through us, and everything else in the world, this is where fulfilment can be found, it’s in us, everyone of us. We are connected by the space between objects, between planets. It weaves its way through and around all form, allowing all form to be, we are that space, we exist in it, we are part of it, we experience it through CONSCIOUSNESS, which is attention in the moment. You can find it when you rise above thought and above form or at least the thought of form.

From consciousness, you can enjoy form, play with form, appreciate form, but are not burdened by being tethered to it.

From consciousness you can use thought to navigate the world of form, but are not used by it. There is a big difference.

In the realm of consciousness, fear does not exist, because fear is part of thought, and part of form. If the real you is formless, what have you got to fear?

So in the hustle and bustle of life, it’s easy to get swept along with the emotion of circumstance. Sometimes there may be good days, other times, bad. Debts might be piling up in one corner of life, relationship problems in another, an upcoming holiday to look forward to elsewhere, which gives us a sense of hope. But none of that really matters does it?

For more about spirituality, check out our spirituality guide, and other posts about spirituality.


Warning: Beliefs, Opinions and Convictions Are Present

Get Results: Never ASSUME
Get Results: Never ASSUME

I Grew up thinking strong beliefs and convictions were a sign of strength, but having become more spiritual over recent years I’m more aligned to the school of thought that thinks belief systems are more of a hindrance than a help.

We shape our sense-of-self through our beliefs. They become part of us and how we see ourselves in the world.

We have a tendency to look for confirmation of our own beliefs and any opinions that flow from them. Confirmation is designed to uphold our sense-of-self. We may even go as far as to defend our beliefs with our very own live’s. How many have died to defend their belief systems, history is littered with examples.

Surely we would be better advised to do as science does, and formulate a hypothesis which we then try to disprove. This approach frees us from beliefs supported by nothing more than assumptions and inferences and ensures we only believe things backed by actual evidence and facts.

What beliefs do you hold with any kind of conviction, and what evidence supports them? Is it a belief built from the testimony of experts? If so, what evidence supports what the expert is telling you, and has this evidence been interpreted without personal bias and preference by the expert that promotes it? You may find much of what you believe or have heard from others to be made up of a great deal of inference and assumption, on your part and theirs.

So what can you believe? Even personal past experiences can be unreliable. For instance memories can be mistaken, if you could meet yourself at different ages memories would likely to be different in each of yourselves at different ages.

When we experience an event we use all our senses woven together with our internal model of the world to make up that experience and as the memory gets older it becomes less vivid, and subsequent events can supersede it and affect how we feel about it.

It’s even possible to implant completely false memories, if plausible enough. In a past experiment, a participant was told they had been lost in a mall as a child, and after the passing of some time, more and more detail began to creep into the false memory. The participant embellished the false memory, because as humans we are very imaginative storytellers, and we are all capable of doing this.

Our memory of the past is not a faithful record, it’s a reconstruction, a mythology. Our memories are not particularly reliable because they don’t just record what happens, they allows us to simulate what is coming next. It is a narrative that links the past with the future, so that we can work out what we need to do tomorrow.

Also past experience doesn’t necessarily predict the future. People’s behaviour is greatly influenced by their environment and circumstances far more than we give credit for, and we’re not always privy to the underlying context of other people’s behaviour, we may just be witness to the resulting actions. We then build a narrative around this behaviour which says more about what’s going on inside us, rather than anything else. We kind of project our thoughts on to what others are doing and believe this to be the other person’s truth.

So maybe we should all be more skeptical about our own beliefs and opinions, and those of other people as well, I’ve learned to do what the wise man does and question everything, and believe nothing at face value because this actually leaves us more open to alternative ideas, methods of thinking and doing as well as different approaches to living life. We also become more tolerant and empathetic as a result.

You might think the opposite would be true, that skepticism closes you off to new ideas, when in fact holding rigid beliefs does that far more effectively. When you have a fixed mental position, you will reject anything that counters that position, because your sense-of-self depends on it.

Don’t invest anything of yourself into ideas, beliefs and opinions, stay clear of convictions and be open to provable evidence and facts, and even then be wary of any possible misinterpretation of these.

Remember what the famous quote says; “The more I know the more I realise how little I actually know.”

Finding Enlightenment Beyond Awareness

Get Results: awakening
Get Results: Awakening: the moment you become aware of the Ego in you, it is strictly speaking no longer the ego, but just an old conditioned mind pattern. Ego implies unawareness, awareness and Ego cannon coexist

AWARENESS comes from the separation of THOUGHT and SENSE-OF-SELF and the realisation you are not your thoughts. Awareness helps break the identification and the investment of self in thought.

ENLIGHTENMENT is a step beyond awareness and can only come from acceptance of the Ego and its madness in other people. This is often more challenging, because other people are outside your control or influence. You might find yourself trying to help sufferers discover the path to enlightenment so as to enrich their own lives, but this can easily become Ego servicing for you if you’re not careful.

Ego-madness comes from strongly held beliefs and opinions (all of which are THOUGHTS) regarding religious, political, and social inclinations, particularly taken from the Ego’s view that it (you) are in sole possession of THE FACTS, THE TRUTH. Sufferers may find themselves thinking and saying “I am right, you are wrong”, “you’re being fooled”, “you’re foolish”, “you just don’t get it”,” you’re not as educated/intelligent as me” or things to that effect.

The Egoic mind is clever, it attempts to find points of difference to forge SEPARATION between “me” and the “other”, or collectively, “us” versus “them”, in its effort to raise the SELF above, or lower the OTHER below, both designed to increase your SENSE OF SELF.

On the flip side, the Ego also ATTACHES to people, possessions, ideas, thoughts, beliefs and values, bringing them into your sense of self. “The more I have the more I am” is its core belief. So the “I” easily becomes the “us”, and the dysfunction in the “us” can be much more destructive when the collective-self forges separation with the collective-other.

To see proof the Ego’s compulsion for separation and attachment, just look at the countless wars that have ever existed, a “us” versus “them” narrative is carried in all of them.

So Enlightenment becomes your SPIRITUAL PRACTICE, acceptance that the Ego is as it is in the world. The moment you become fearful or upset with other people’s Ego; their lack of clarity, lack of understanding, stubbornness, or whatever the issue is, you know your own Ego is at work.

You can only point to the truth, and hope those that are ready to see it do so.

For more about spirituality check out our spirituality and wellbeing guide.

Intention, Execution and Consequences

Get Results: intent execution consequences
Get Results: intent execution consequences

Of late, I’ve been doing a bit of reading up on the history of philosophy, and came across some information regarding Utilitarianism, and it got me thinking….

For the purpose of this post, I’m not going to go into detail about Utilitarianism other than say it is a philosophical moral theory that focuses on the RESULTS, or CONSEQUENCES, of our actions, and treats INTENTIONS as irrelevant.

For sure consequences are what we have to live with, they are the results of action or inaction that effect us and others, after the events that lead to them, but should intentions be considered to greater extent than they often are?

If someone else’s actions result in you becoming worse off in some way, either economically or emotionally, should you focus on what that person intended to happen or on their execution and consequently, the consequences you are left with.

For instance, if a friend is trying to do you a good turn, by say, reuniting you with a relative you’ve lost contact with, and as surprise, arranges a surprise meeting, but when you’re confronted with that person, you are angry having been put in an uncomfortable situation. Should you react to the consequences of their intervention, or focus on their good intention.

If a friend convinces you to invest money into a business venture, but they fail to make a success of it, and it ends up costing you your investment, do you fixate on their inept execution or their intention of doing their best to make a success of the venture.

I guess, how the friend deals with their failings, in either of the situations detailed above, has some baring on your response. If in the latter example, the friend tries to hide the fact that the business is failing, is dishonest about their business acumen, doesn’t show remorse when it all goes pear shaped, or isn’t prepared to try to make the situation right, will affect how you feel about it, and them, in the end.

It’s true that many people will take a balanced, considered view, appreciating all the aspects that contributed to the failing, but there will equally be those that fixate on the consequences, and find it difficult to look beyond these.

Empathy and compassion is required in order to be able take the other persons view, and to be able to seriously consider their intent, at least as much as their inadequate or inappropriate execution. This can be especially difficult in the wake consequences that negatively impact you.

Empathy and compassion, come naturally to some people,  but require some development in others. It’s important to remember that we have all been guilty of doing things that didn’t turn out as planned, and which impacted other people.

Generally, when things go wrong, the intention is seldom for it to be so, however we should always be mindful of our actions and their impact on others, and generally they will impact someone else at some point. Think your actions through thoroughly before taking them, and be more empathetic to others when their actions don’t turn out as intended.

For more about Emotional intelligence click here.

Crash Course in PHILOSOPHY

Get Results: mindworks
Get Results: mindworks

I came across this crash course in Philosophy a while ago and thought it might be interesting for you to check out. The whole course is accessable below. The videos are embedded as a playlist so will follow on from one another automatically, so sit back and enjoy.

Fish Love

Get Results: fish love
Get Results: fish love

Rabbi Dr. Abraham Twerski nails this explanation about the difference between Ego love (fish love) and True love…

“Why are you eating that fish?”
“Because I love fish!”
“Oh you love the fish, that’s why you took it out of the water and killed it and boiled it.”
“Don’t tell me you love fish, you love yourself.”
“And because the fish tastes good to you.”
“That’s why you took it out of the water and killed and boiled it.”
“So much of what is love is fish love.”
True love isn’t about what you get from another, it’s about what you give of yourself to another, everything else is FISH LOVE.

When a young couple fall in love,

They see in each other someone who can satisfy their emotional and physical needs,

Each is looking out for their own needs,

The other becomes a vehicle for their own gratification,

External love is not what you’re going to get but what you’re going to give,

People make the mistake of thinking you give to those that you love, the real answer is you love those to which you give,

If I give something to you, I’ve invested part of myself in you, and because self love is a given, there’s now part of me I love, in you,

True love is a love of giving not a love of receiving.

If you want to learn more about spirituality and the Ego, check out our guide here.

4 Realisations When ENLIGHTENED

Get Results:at peace in the present
Get Results:at peace in the present

If you’ve ever dug into the subject of SPIRITUALITY, you’ll no doubt realise that the aim of spirituality is about becoming ENLIGHTENED, which is the process of bringing awareness to the fact that most of mankind’s woes come from his enslavement by the EGO.

The Ego is best described as a state of mind which is completely IDENTIFIED WITH THOUGHT, which means that thoughts, particular rigid thought patterns and habits such as beliefs and values, become part of WHO WE THINK WE ARE, that is, we invest it with our sense of self. Furthermore we mistake our thoughts about the world around us, to be the world around us, rather than just thoughts about the world around us, which is all they actually are, and in so doing, we reduce everything to a mind-constructed abstraction, grossly simplified to aid understanding and navigation.

When ENLIGHTENED, the world becomes a vibrant, ecosystem of wonder. The two dimensional, simplified version, we held to be THE TRUTH, opens up into a vastness of multi-sensory, wonderfulness, that brings with it a sense of awe. You come away from the necessity of thought, into the present moment where LIFE unfolds. There comes with it a number of realisations…

Everything has a purpose and a place

Good and evil, up and down, right and wrong, front and back, ally and enemy, each by its very existence inferring its polar opposite. Alan watts referred to it as “the game of black and white” in his book THE BIBLE. It’s all part of the same thing, intrinsically interconnected, and necessary to make up the rich tapestry of life.

Life is a game

You shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, after all, it’s all small stuff. Problems look big from close up. Zoom out and see the bigger picture. Everything looks small from a 50 thousand foot view.

FEAR is the route of all evil

We think FEAR keeps us alive and it does to some extent, but when out of control it is as likely to be the agent of death. Fear drives greed and the need for power which results in war and destruction. It increases insecurity and leads to even greater fear.

Mainstream media and politics keep fear front and centre to satisfy the public’s appetite (we are hardwired through evolution to take more interest in threats, and negative news), as well as pursuing their own benefit, such as profit and political ambitions. But in doing so, they report a skewed picture of the world, highlighting the negatives but under reporting the positives. There is an argument for avoiding the news altogether, or at least viewing it with an awareness of its imbalanced nature.

Life only exists IN THIS MOMENT

We can only interact directly with life in the moment it unfolds. A preoccupation with thinking and living inside our head’s is a distraction. It’s necessary to some extent of course, to use mental processes to navigate the world, accessing memory, using critical thinking and the likes, but we should live as much as possible, in the moment. All thought is preoccupied with past and future and that’s where our problems and pain also reside.

For more about Spirituality check out my guide here.

For more spirituality posts, click here.

How To Have A Better Life

Get Results: life gives you what you take from it
Get Results: life gives you what you take from it

Following the list below will inevitably improve your quality of life, and those who you share it with. Remember it’s not about what happens to you, but rather how you deal with whatever happens to you.

Get Results: live a better life
Get Results: live a better life

Find out more about spirituality here.

What Is Eckhart Tolle Teaching?

Get Results: eckhart tolle
Get Results: eckhart tolle

I like Eckhart Tolle and his teachings, they resonate with me in a profound way. I’m not a devout follower of his, nor anyone else, but having put much of what he teaches into practice, I feel a greater sense of peace in myself. Some people “get” what Eckhart is saying and others don’t. So I thought I would try to do a walk through his teachings in a more summarised format.

This is my interpretation of what Eckhart Tolle is teaching…

Eckhart Tolle’s teaching boils down to….

Living in the moment, without identification with thought

and here’s the working out bit…

We identify with thought when we mistake them (our thoughts) to be part of us, part of who we are.

We’re not referring to thoughts that pass fleetingly in and out of our minds,

but rather rigid/habitual thought patterns.

They are what we refer to as our beliefs,

Strongly held beliefs are wholly responsible for our behaviours and the way we live our lives

What are our beliefs based on?

Usually nothing more than assumptions

Some of what we learn comes from first hand experience, but much more comes from what we see and hear..

from others, from the media, from so called authorities and experts.

We are conditioned/ taught to believe what we are told, we assume we are being told the truth, by people that know best, and who have our best interests at heart.

Many people are aware of this fact and question such assumptions more critically,

but many more blindly follow.

If you have strong beliefs, you close down openness and willingness to learn, to take a different view, to tolerate other ideas and approaches, to empathise

Strongly held beliefs cause us to be judgmental of others and ourselves.

Strongly held beliefs cause division, and force a “them and us” mentality.

Strongly held beliefs are driven by fear, and life, from a base of fear is scary rather than wondrous.

Strongly held beliefs are responsible for all the wars that have ever been, for all pain and suffering in ourselves and others. It is what is likely to end mankind’s time on earth, unless we wake up to the madness of identifying with thought.

How do you do this?

You spend more time “in the now”, in this moment, and less time in your head, thinking.

Check out some Eckhart Tolle quotes here.

For more about spirituality check here.