Treading lightly the path to enlightenment.

Posts tagged ‘thinking’

Cowlture Clash

They say that a gallon of milk costs $15 US in Alaska.

People decry the cost of living so far north.

 

Inuits lived here for 25,000 years without ever seeing a dairy cow.

 

Use your head for something more than a hat rack.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Three Q’s

Wedding Dancers

 

Could I really be this happy?

Or am I crazy?

Does it matter?

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Kind Words versus Critical

Rerun: This post was originally published in 2011. – Paz

 

I was reading a thing recently about a crew demolishing a building. Someone asks the foreman how long it would take to knock the building down, and what sort of skills were required by the crew. To sum it up, the guy replies that they should be able to knock the whole thing down within a week, and aside from knowing how to work safely, no special skills were required. The observation concludes that it would take many weeks or months, maybe a year or more, to construct the building, and the construction would require many people with well-developed skills. Masons for foundations, welders for steel, electricians & plumbers, painters & roofers, and perhaps consultants for interior design.

In short, it takes longer and requires more skills to build something up than to tear it down.

This is also true of people, and the words we use with one another.

Like the unskilled demolition crew, anyone can speak words of criticism. Complaints, judgement, even derision. These words are pretty easy to come by in the human brain, especially when motivated by aggravation, frustration or anger.

By contrast, it requires greater effort to hold one’s tongue, keep one’s opinions to one’s self, to avoid getting on the band wagon with others complaining or condemning, and especially to keep hurtful things from spitting out of our mouths in the course of an argument, particularly an angry one.

So too, it requires a different and perhaps greater skill to look for the good in situations, to compliment people on the degree to which they got things right, not criticize them for the degree of wrong.

In the heat of battle or when someone is railing or ranting, the conversational side of the brain will feed you many thoughts that it wants you to speak. Maybe it’s the way you feel, or maybe you want to defend a position, or maybe you want to agree with a condemnation being offered.

The sage will understand the old adage “less said the better”. With concentrated effort, one can express that one understands or at least hears the other’s point of view without agreeing or arguing.

In any situation, look for the positive. With any person, look for the chance to share a kind word, and watch for those verbal grenades your automated-language-based brain tries to toss past your teeth.

We went to see an apartment into which someone had recently moved. The street was not well-to-do, or of the newest part of town. The houses were mostly multi-family rentals, and were generally well-worn. One could not describe the sidewalks or alleys as neat or clean. The apartment was at the top of a steep, narrow, windowless staircase. The windows could have used cleaning, and with some effort one could see above the dormers of the house next door, and catch a sliver of the sky and the city beyond. The kitchen floor was from the last century. It looked, in many places, exactly like what is was: a medium-sized second story apartment in an older house, whose tenants probably never stayed more than a year or two.  A few marks showed on the walls and woodwork, where families had probably raised rambunctious children, and the landlord probably repainted only when needed.

When asked, I described it thusly:

“It’s quite spacious, with good-sized rooms. It has a brand new carpet in the living room, and a brand new space heater, like the ones I have in my house. A Big kitchen! The windows are big. Tall, old-fashioned windows that let in the light. On sort of  a side street, where the traffic seemed pretty light. And cozy! Probably quite efficient to heat!”

Next time you have a chance to describe something or someone, an apartment or even adversary, put your effort into the use of the skills of “craftsmen of the human spirit”, “masters of language”, developed by being practitioners and tradesmen in the arts of compassion and empathy, and build with the materials of positivity, hope, caring and dignity.

Be at peace,

Paz

Zen in our Techno-Monetary society

This journal entry was originally posted in 2012.

It seemed worth repeating.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

Sunset Moon

It wasn’t easy choosing a name for the blog Armchair Zen, though that’s how I’ve referred to my personal philosophy for some time. Names like “Zen in the modern world” and “Everyday Zen” and the like seemed to be taken. I guess everyone has the same idea.

Mostly the idea of ACZ is to share thoughts and philosophy with those that want to seek enlightenment, peace in their daily lives, harmony with the world, nature, the cosmos and life itself. It’s not about achieving perfection or some higher plane or a place in the next life or eternity. It’s about understanding our capabilities and limitations in this life, it’s about acceptance, understanding, compassion, forgiving and letting go.

As it says in About, these things are nothing new. Applying them to today’s world is not always that easy. We live in a world I term a Techno-Monetary society. We’re surrounded by wonderful technologies from life-saving medicine, global communications, electronic entertainment, space exploration and productivity greater than mankind has ever known, bolstered by the machines and artificial intelligences of our modern world.

In ancient times and old days, individuals and whole communities were isolated, and did not have the benefit of the vast volumes of knowledge mankind has compiled since. Their lives were filled with strife, at the mercy of the elements, filled with superstitions, fears, and lack of understanding of things that seem simple to us today. The sun, the solar system, what makes rain, thunder, tornadoes. They had more time, and perhaps a greater need, to seek peace within their lives.

We are also slaves to the monetary system. In all the developed countries (probably 90% of the globe), we need to work at something to earn money for rent, taxes, clothing, food, transportation, and the list goes on. This is really not new, nor does it strictly apply to developed countries or societies. Go back a couple thousand years and we find people did not live the simple agrarian lives we might imagine. Subsistence farmers & ranchers, mountain-men and even minimalist communities of today need to barter goods or trade cash for the things they can’t make. Cooking kettles, sewing needles, broadcloth, tack supplies, sugar, salt, bacon.

Finding our personal zen and peace within our lives seems like a considerable challenge after negotiating traffic, signing in at work, talking to customers, clients or co-workers that are not seeking enlightened ways, and any number of non-zen, non-nature, non-peace-encouraging things we must do.

Still, I find my ACZ to be pervasive. It hasn’t always been that way. I was “Two Jakes” for many years, seeking solace in nature and creative expression during my precious evenings and weekends, and turning off the peace machine when going to battle with the world. After some years of concentration, practice and informal self-cognitive behavioral therapy, the zen has spread to all hours of the day.

Nowadays there are few interactions with others wherein the conscious-competence of ACZ does not rule. Filter-monitoring, managing emotions & reactions, thinking forgiveness & acceptance, seeking to navigate all situations for the best outcome of all under the guidance of enlightened thought & behavior. Spread loving compassion by being loving and compassionate. Spread forgiveness and acceptance by being forgiving and accepting. Appreciate the beauty of the world around us by opening our eyes and minds and truly seeing. It’s not always easy, but it’s always simple!

That’s really all for this post. Perhaps it’s not a lot of meat, but an encouragement to those that may be seeking the path to peace. Sure, it takes a little time and concentration, but it can be done without extensive training or effort or money or social status or massive brain power.

You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be beautiful, you don’t have to be perfect. Everyone is welcome.

The cosmos, and I, love each and every thing without judgement.

That includes you!

Be at peace,

Paz

An Award? For ACZ? Yay!

How Exciting! Dan and Fiona of  360exposure have nominated ACZ for a Sunshine Blogger Award!

Thanks Dan & Fiona, your gesture is genuinely appreciated.

(360exposure.wordpress.com)

sunshine-blog-award

Rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions set by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven other blogs and give them eleven questions to answer.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post.

Dan & Fiona’s questions:

What made you start blogging?

I’ve always enjoyed writing; poetry, songs, radio comedy. I’ve also written journals for many years, sort of a diary. A blog seemed like a logical next step. Like many, at first I thought I was framing up a book, but then the blog community stole my heart.

If money was no object, what would you do?

I’d spend much of my time in service to others. Refugees of war-torn countries, VISTA stuff, Veterans, the blind and illiterate, and animals.

What do you prefer Marine or Terrestrial environments?

As a terrestrial mammal raised on Terra Firma, I like dry land. I love water’s beauty and value, but I’m a little uncomfortable in an environment where I can’t see things that are big enough to eat me.

If you were kind and you knew then what you know now. Would you have chosen a different profession and what would it be?

As dichotomous as it sounds, if I could do it again I’d probably be a monk or a drill sergeant.

Do you prefer sweet or savory?

Sweet all the way.

If you could save one animal on the planet which animal would it be?

Dogs. Selfish, I know, but it’s my answer. Don’t get me started on dogs…

Favourite music genre and/or band?

Not sure what you’d call it, but it would be Rickie Lee Jones.

If you could earn a salary from blogging, would you do it?

For legitimate publishing, yes. Not as a vendor or tech support or anything.

What are your views and thoughts on global population numbers.

This question may be too big for me. There are a lot of people and there must be a limit of some kind. Quite honestly, in my true Armchair Zen heart I don’t think humans are the best thing for this planet. Maybe it sounds a little crazy, but frankly the planet would be better off without them (or perhaps a total world population of a million or two). My eye to the cosmos says our little globe will be glad when they’re gone.

Where do you live now? If you had to move to a foreign country where would you go to?

I live in New York State, the northeast United States, not far from the confluence of two famous rivers; the Hudson, named for Hendrick who landed here in 1609, and the Mohawk, made famous by the tales of James Fennimore Cooper. If I was forced to move I’d go to Canada, but then our neighbors and our countries are quite similar. Otherwise, in a total fantasy answer, maybe Australia.

When was the last time you spent the entire day without your cellphone and/or iPad?

Every year I have the great privilege of camping at Forked Lake in the wilderness of the Adirondack Mountains. There are no cell towers in the High Peaks region, and therefore I have a perfect excuse to leave the phone in the car. It is the most peaceful time of my entire year.

 

My nominees for the Sunshine Blogger Award are as follows:

Rabbit Patch Diary (rabbitpatchdiary.com)

Brian and Lily (lilyandardberg.wordpress.com)

By India Blue (indiablue.co.uk)

Livenowandzen (livenowandzen.com)

Whippet Wisdom (whippetwisdom.com)

Mrs. Twinkle (mrs-twinkle.com)

Cancer Killing Recipe (cancerkillingrecipe.me)

My Zen City (myzencity.com)

Dhamma Footsteps (dhammafootsteps.com)

Catwoods Porch Party (catwoodsporchparty.wordpress.com)

Fun Wunderlust (funwunderlust.wordpress.com)

 

My questions for the nominees:

How do you come to be a blogger?

Tell us a bit about where you live.

What other creative talents or outlets do you have, besides your blog?

If you could send a text to everyone in the world simultaneously, what would you say?

How would you describe humankind to an alien that knows nothing of humans?

What, in your opinion, is the most important or valuable invention of modern man?

What attributes of your favorite season do you most admire?

What is your earliest childhood memory?

In what ways do you now differ from the person you thought you’d be when you were a teenager?

Who has been an inspiration or hero in your life?

If you could be a different species, what would it be?

Thanks again to Dan & Fiona at 360exposure. This has been an honor, and a lot of fun!

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

 

 

Reach

Zen lesson while fishing with son Ryan.

Bass, Corporation Pond, and Ryan

Bass, Corporation Pond, Ryan on the Far Shore

My grandfather set a pretty high bar.

It’s been my driving force, my goal throughout my adult life, to reach that high.

Make no mistake, it’s not my grandfather’s bar for which I reach, and neither shall you.

That bar is a hard-earned badge of honor, a talisman that he will take with him into future lives.

Dominic Trimarco’s legacy was not to leave us an arbitrary list of criteria by which a man shall be judged.

His gift to us, across the generations, is much more enduring.

He taught us, by silent living example, that those altruists enlightened to these ideals will seize this opportunity.

That we have a right, a near-sacred duty, to determine,

each of us,

how high we shall set the bar for ourselves.

 

Seek peace,

 

Paz

 

The amazing brain, and You 2’s reign

quote.gif

 

If you haven’t fully realized this yet, you should be aware that there are two of you.

There’s You you think of as you, the you that thinks conscious thoughts, makes conscious decisions, and the like.

Then there’s the second you, in Armchair Zen world referred to as You 2.

Perhaps a number of other psychometric or philosophic names are given to You 2. The alter ego, the Id, the sub-conscious, etc.

I’m no expert on that stuff, so we’ll just talk about You 2 as if you know what I mean.

Folks talk about how we only use six percent of our brain’s capacity, or something like that.  All that brain tissue in there and we’re not really sure what it does. Real science has discovered some wonderful stuff with machines examining brain activity. Others have done volumes of work studying the subconscious, the “unused” sections of the brain, ways in which the brain functions, etc. You should read that stuff some time and see if it interests you.

Meanwhile, let’s look again at your amazing brain, and its ability to work just fine without (or in spite of) your conscious efforts! Actually, we’ll be looking at your brain working the way it’s supposed to, which is really amazing and uses (in my opinion) most of that space much of the time.

One of the most amazing things about our species is spoken language. Clearly, the ability to assemble a bunch of symbols like the ones you’re reading now, and having others, many others, be able to receive information from those symbols, is a great advantage. This allows us to teach one another without every lesson being one-on-one in real-time, the way other animals do. In fact, even the one-on-one teaching of other animals pales in comparison, as purely visual lessons can be misunderstood or missed entirely.

Some written languages, Chinese as an example, use a picture symbol for each word as opposed to words made up of letters. We think that it must be difficult to learn all those symbols and remember them, recall them as they’re needed.

Cut to the fun stuff! Okay, here’s a little exercise that will have your amazing brain amazing you in minutes! In past presentations, we’ve talked about your brain’s ability to take in information, seeing, hearing, feeling, and so forth, and retain those events for retrieval later.

(See Archives: Creativity & seeing Nov.2012, Seeing 2: the amazing brain Dec. 2012, You can predict the future! Dec.2012, You times two, Apr.2013)

Now we’re going to discover a cool way to “bait” your brain and make it retrieve stuff from that vast mass of gray matter in your head! This is really simple, so that’s why we had to get all the good descriptive dialogue and such out-of-the-way first. Here’s the drill:

I’m going to give you a trigger word, and you’re going to have about a half-dozen words on average come flying in to your conscious brain from the subconscious side!

How? Rhyming. Yes. I’ll give you the first word, but after that you can pick any word you want (except orange) and your brain will instantly provide you with rhyming words!

So, maybe you think this is infantile, a game played with second graders to improve their literacy. But if you stop and smell the amazing roses, you’ll find your brain (or You 2’s brain) is lightning fast with this. It really is amazing when you get on a roll! Okay: here’s your trigger word. Count how many rhyming words you come up with in about 30 seconds. Most folks, with most words, will almost-instantly produce about six rhyming words. That’s your instant-fast brain. There’s much more in your brain, but You (not You 2) need to “send” a request to get more. After your initial six words, start actively thinking and let your brain find other words that rhyme. that’s where it gets really fun, as you start to think of multi-syllable words, words in foreign languages, and homonyms that sound the same but are spelled differently. Ready? Here’s your first trigger word, think of rhyming words for:

HOLE

You’re already amazed I bet!

I got the idea for this post from something even more amazing! I am an armchair poet and singer-songwriter. If you write or read poetry, or even the verses on greeting cards, you’ll know that this uses meter, a number of syllables that are the same length as other corresponding lines in the poem or song. Not all poems (or songs for that matter) follow a meter, but it’s the most common. Written music, another set of symbols that amazing brains can learn, read and instantly decipher, is set to a specific meter, in beats or bars if you’re familiar with the terms. You can try this, too, and be even more amazed at your amazing brain! Make up a rhyme. Let any words at all come into your head and just let it flow. Some of the lines will be somewhat nonsensical, but you’ll be amazed at how quickly your brain can come up with ideas that fit the meter and rhyme the end word. (Called end rhyming, not unnaturally)

I’m going to start a silly diddy. You can use the same line to start with. I’m going to let my brain write the next three lines and I’ll leave them in the post just the way they came out.

I went outside on a beautiful day.

Hoping to find someone to play

And run with me through fields of hay,

And send my cares off and away.

Okay, so my brain stopped me and made me backspace the last line, but I threw this up in about twenty seconds!

Try this! It will make you appreciate your brain’s speed and power! (It won’t make You 2 appreciate anything, as far as I know. typically You 2 thinks it knows everything already. More some other time on why You 2 brain thinks it is always right, when it argues with itself, and why these things are healthy as well as amazing!)

Be at peace,

Paz

 

What year is it?

Clocks and calendars. Measuring sticks.

Mechanical human creations. To “keep track” of time.

An attempt to force order on the universe’s chaos?

Temple

Temple

In the west, yesterday marked the first day of the new calendar year 2014.

Everyone that marches to this calendar perceives this as a new time period. A new beginning of a record of time.

Folks are filled with ideas for commitment to goals, they call them “New Year’s Resolutions”.

I find my resolutions to be no different than at any other time of the year.

Take time to wonder. Share blessings. See the beauty in all things.

Remember you are but a flash in the universe’s timeline. A tiny unseen spark on a tiny rock, one of trillions of rocks riding the invisible gravity train around a star.

You live in a galaxy hurtling through space at 600 kilometers per second, bound on a collision course with a neighboring galaxy. Every moment is good fortune!

In Armchair Zen world, the year has already started. It began with the solstice.

It began at the time the Earth stopped tilting her frozen North Pole away from the sun.

The subtle, imperceptible yet predictable pause in the rocking of the planet, as it begins the swing back toward summer solstice.

Prior to this, since the Julian June, days became shorter a couple minutes at a time.

Now the pendulum swings past center, and the arc rises.

The “new” year is the same as the “old” year as far as the universe is concerned.

If you had to put a number on it, it would really be something like 14,500,000,000.

No wait: for those super-ordered buffs, let’s say it’s 14,500,000,001.

I hear a giant mechanical gear in a giant mechanical clockpiece, creaking and grinding as it throws another lever and drops a number for another year.

Perhaps that’s someone’s order of the universe.

Mine is counted in heartbeats.

Maxi-mouse

Maxi-mouse

My heartbeat, slow & steady, as I rock my baby granddaughter. My wife’s, unsteady as a newborn foal, as she palpitates her way through another year.

Counted in breaths of air.

Cold air, warm air, dusty & dry, smelling like rain, smelling like snow, smelling the mud of spring, the fishes of summer, the crisp leaves of autumn.

October rain

October rain

Counted in silent moments of awe-inspiring beauty, in the unspoken communication of eyes meeting.

In the automatic and natural gesture of holding hands.

Counted in the rare moments that will never repeat.

A captivating sunset, prisms in the grass, rainbows, ice-off, the first freeze.

 

Bowmaker morning

Bowmaker morning

Each day brings a new start. Any given day could be numbered “ONE”, the first of 365.25 consecutive days that represent that measuring stick called a year.

Yes, every day is a new day. Every day is a new year’s day.

So whether you follow the sun, the moon, the stars or the Julian calendar, my wish for you is good fortune in great measure.

Oh yeah, and good luck with those resolutions.

Be at peace,

Paz

You times two

There are two of you within you.

There’s the you you know, the dialogue in your head, your conscious actions and feelings.

There’s a You 2, too. This is the you that’s living deep in that brain. An instinct you and subconscious you. This you helps you out by reminding your heart to keep pumping, reminding your diaphragm to expand and contract your lungs resulting in respiration.

You 2 tells you to run when you hear a very loud noise. Tells you to stay when you see the one you love. Tells you to salivate when you smell burgers cooking.

You 2 is the you that you don’t really control. You can train You 2 a little.  To recognize that a hummingbird’s buzz is not a giant wasp buzz.  To override fear in order to jump out of a perfectly good airplane if you skydive.

Most of what You 2 does is out of your control. Like the lessons on “Seeing” that which is not there. You 2 is very good at seeing what’s not there, hearing what’s not said, fearing what’s not happening, not fearing that which in fact IS happening. 

You can’t control You 2, but you can listen. When You 2 is scared, you can reassure. When You 2 calls out a warning, you can heed.

Just be careful when You 2 does what it does best, which is to make stuff up and predict the future based on experience.

Unless you’ve led a perfect life, You 2 is operating on imperfect information.

Be at peace, both of you.

Paz

Zen in our Techno-Monetary society

Sunset Moon

It wasn’t easy choosing a name for the blog Armchair Zen, though that’s how I’ve referred to my personal philosophy for some time. Names like “Zen in the modern world” and “Everyday Zen” and the like seemed to be taken. I guess everyone has the same idea.

Mostly the idea of ACZ is to share thoughts and philosophy with those that want to seek enlightenment, peace in their daily lives, harmony with the world, nature, the cosmos and life itself. It’s not about achieving perfection or some higher plane or a place in the next life or eternity. It’s about understanding our capabilities and limitations in this life, it’s about acceptance, understanding, compassion, forgiving and letting go.

As it says in About, these things are nothing new. Applying them to today’s world is not always that easy. We live in a world I term a Techno-Monetary society. We’re surrounded by wonderful technologies from life-saving medicine, global communications, electronic entertainment, space exploration and productivity greater than mankind has ever known, bolstered by the machines and artificial intelligences of our modern world.

In ancient times and old days, individuals and whole communities were isolated, and did not have the benefit of the vast volumes of knowledge mankind has compiled since. Their lives were filled with strife, at the mercy of the elements, filled with superstitions, fears, and lack of understanding of things that seem simple to us today. The sun, the solar system, what makes rain, thunder, tornadoes. They had more time, and perhaps a greater need, to seek peace within their lives.

We are also slaves to the monetary system. In all the developed countries (probably 90% of the globe), we need to work at something to earn money for rent, taxes, clothing, food, transportation, and the list goes on. This is really not new, nor does it strictly apply to developed countries or societies. Go back a couple thousand years and we find people did not live the simple agrarian lives we might imagine. Subsistence farmers & ranchers, mountain-men and even minimalist communities of today need to barter goods or trade cash for the things they can’t make. Cooking kettles, sewing needles, broadcloth, tack supplies, sugar, salt, bacon.

Finding our personal zen and peace within our lives seems like a considerable challenge after negotiating traffic, signing in at work, talking to customers, clients or co-workers that are not seeking enlightened ways, and any number of non-zen, non-nature, non-peace-encouraging things we must do.

Still, I find my ACZ to be pervasive. It hasn’t always been that way. I was “Two Jakes” for many years, seeking solace in nature and creative expression during my precious evenings and weekends, and turning off the peace machine when going to battle with the world. After some years of concentration, practice and informal self-cognitive behavioral therapy, the zen has spread to all hours of the day.

Nowadays there are few interactions with others wherein the conscious-competence of ACZ does not rule. Filter-monitoring, managing emotions & reactions, thinking forgiveness & acceptance, seeking to navigate all situations for the best outcome of all under the guidance of enlightened thought & behavior. Spread loving compassion by being loving and compassionate. Spread forgiveness and acceptance by being forgiving and accepting. Appreciate the beauty of the world around us by opening our eyes and minds and truly seeing. It’s not always easy, but it’s always simple!

That’s really all for this post. Perhaps it’s not a lot of meat, but an encouragement to those that may be seeking the path to peace. Sure, it takes a little time and concentration, but it can be done without extensive training or effort or money or social status or massive brain power.

You don’t have to be rich, you don’t have to be beautiful, you don’t have to be perfect. Everyone is welcome.

The cosmos, and I, love each and every thing without judgement.

That includes you!

Be at peace,

Paz

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