Archive for March, 2011

If you have thought about rebooting your brain, you might be interested in the next step (which may take a bit longer).  I talked a bit about the lens of your ego, and how it needs to be clear and free of astigmatism in order for you to perceive the world make the changes you desire in your life, and the lives of others.

How do you do that?

The more I thought about this post the more I realized one would not be enough, but how to break it down?  As the old adage states, a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step.  I didn’t learn this in a day, I can’t convey it in a day, either.  You can start with meditation, a good zen book will start you off learning how to do that.  Sometimes that is too difficult.  In that case I recommend reading a book of zen koans.  These little parables convey the essence of what you are looking for without too much pain.  The beauty of the koans, is that even if they don’t seem to make sense to you when you read them, your brain will mull over them as you go about your day, and the meaning will suddenly pop in when you are doing something else.  This is especially wonderful when you have read a koan, then encounter a similar physical event at the office or at school.  You do a mental double-take.  You have just lived a physical representation of a metaphysical lesson.  I love when that happens.  Zen is just the first chapter.  It is a tried and true method for the re-boot.  It is not an end in itself.  After the re-boot, the exploration begins.

The biggest hurdle, and the one to be most proud of when you have eliminated it, is the very deep association you have with your personal definition of your self.  America has become very selfish since the end of World War Two.  Americans have lost their sense of community.  Individualism has become the new religion.  People ask themselves, “What’s in it for ME?” before they consider any other criteria.  This is not because individualism is bad, per se, but that folks believe that without themselves, they cease to exist.  With so much focus on themselves there is no room for anything greater.  Somehow they have come to believe that they are the most important person in their world.   (cough cough advertising cough).

When you read a zen koan that suggests your goal is nothingness, it can be very threatening.  You think, “I don’t WANT to be nothing!”  What happens to ME when the nothingness occurs?

The problem is the word “nothingness” and I will not presume to define what the Zen Masters are saying to their students, but I will encourage you to know that it is not what you think it is.  It is not the loss of you.  The goal of nothingness is the re-boot.  The goal is to wipe the brain of all the gunk…like wiping the hard drive that if full of bugs and viruses so you can re-load Windows…

Once you have achieved nothingness, then you can reload a fresh program, one that brings you a Universe of understanding and the power to create a whole new you, a better you, an upgraded you, and in that sense, a whole new world.

Lift your foot, set it down.  You have taken the first step:

(when you get to this site, please click on the tiny little link that says “show all koans”)


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You see your world through the lens of your eye, but also the lens of your mind.  The images collected by the eye are interpreted by your brain and then filed and saved and linked as memory.  If you do not think about it, you allow your brain to do the filing based on the last software upload.  By software upload I mean belief-system.

For example, if you see a tree, you brain may interpret the tree as similar to the one that held a tire swing when you were six years old.  Or it may link the tree to a picnic you had with your first lover when you were eighteen,  or if you are a biologist, the poor tree may be reduced to merely Kingdom, Order and Phylum.  This system is all very good if you are not using your brain for much– if you are just cruisin’ through life lookin’ at trees.

However, if you plan on using your brain as the awesome tool that it is, you must have periodic upgrades.  You can’t play WoW on a Commodore 64.

It is as simple to reboot your brain as it is your computer.  Yoda, the Zen Master, said it:  “You must unlearn what you have learned.”   Remember that everything that you know is true, is actually just a belief about reality.  Even something as ubiquitous as gravity.  On a quantum level gravity does not exist.  You may argue that you don’t exist on a quantum level, and here I will have to tell you…you do.  How can you not?  Your body is made of molecules and atoms and protons and neutrons and quanta.  What is your mind made of?

Think about this for a while.

Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era (1868-1912), received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen.

Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring.

The professor watched the overflow until he no longer could restrain himself. “It is overfull. No more will go in!”

“Like this cup,” Nan-in said, “you are full of your own opinions and speculations. How can I show you Zen unless you first empty your cup?”

The old beliefs do not have to be destroyed, but they do have to be loosened up somewhat.  They WILL fade away of their own accord as they are gradually replaced with more productive and beneficial ones.

Empty your cup and be ready for tea-time.

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