Two Monks: A Short Story On Living In The Moment

Two traveling monks reached a river with a strong current where they met a young woman. The woman asked them if they could help her across the river, and even though the monks had vowed to avoid contact with women, the older monk picked her up and carried her across the river.

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The younger monk couldn’t believe what happened as they continued on their way.

Hours had passed and the younger monk, still wondering about the event, was unable to hold his silence and said, “Brother, our spiritual training teachers us to avoid any contact with women, but you picked that one up and carried her!”

“Brother,” the older monk replied, “I set her down hours ago, why are you still carrying her?”

 

This story shares a message about living in the present moment. So often we all carry around past hurts, holding grudges, or even carrying past joys that may be unattainable to reach again, when all this does is hurt ourselves. Maybe we even carry around a past pain of someone else, and try to remind them of past hurts, but what good does that do?

Do you invest your money into things that only bring you misery? Not purposefully, so why would you invest misery into your mind?

We all go through tough times. People betray us, they try to sabotage us sometimes and we can’t understand why. We can choose to hold onto the past but it will only weigh us down from experiencing a wonderful present moment. Let us choose to let go of what doesn’t help us and concentrate on the present moment. This moment, right now, is where happiness is to be had.

6 Insights from a Retired Life Coach

This is a guest post by Mershon Niesner, retired Certified Life Coach & Author of http://motherloss.blog

Mershon gives 6 insights into some of the most important aspects of life coaching and how you can use these tips to enhance your life:

Professional Coaching or Life Coaching does not replace therapy, or counseling or good common sense. However, coaching does help people get unstuck, move forward, solve their own problems and live a healthier, happier and more successful personal & professional life.

I started coaching in 1997 and was certified as a coach in 2000, long before most people had heard of coaching and certainly before coaches started writing guest columns in magazines and there were such things as blogs. Retired now, I’ve turned to writing a daily blog that includes coaching questions and I’m currently writing a book, When Lightning Strikes, to be published in 2019. Here are some things I learned during my coaching years:

1. People know the answers to their own important questions

Perhaps they don’t know how to access the answers, perhaps they don’t even know the important questions, but once they discover the question, chances are that somewhere deep inside, they have the answer. The coach’s job is to ask the questions that help people find their own powerful answers. When the answer comes from within, folks are motivated to act and results are infinitely more likely to happen. You know the feeling…when you’re told to do something you might drag your feet, but when you make the decision yourself to take meaningful action, you’re eager to try out your theory and experience the results. Coaches trust this process. They believe in their clients and create an atmosphere of trust, self-worth, and compassion.

2. Big changes sometimes start small

I had a client that was unmotivated, constantly tired, angry at herself for “not getting anything done.” When I had her do a life style assessment, I noticed she self reported that she didn’t make her bed. So, the first request I had for her was to make her bed for a week and report back. The next week she was surprised at her progress…no more naps, more energy, a greater sense of well-being and self-worth. She started her day with purpose by making her bed. She didn’t want to “mess it up” by taking a nap so she had better nighttime sleep and more energy. Did this solve all of her problems? Of course not, but it was a powerful start. Another client did an online class with me about having more fun. She realized that as a very busy corporate person she had zero fun in her life and did nothing for her own joy. Her assignment, “Buy yourself flowers once a week and put them on your desk to remind yourself that you count.” She did. She later quit her corporate job and became a coach. She was a client for several years. Little things can make a difference.

3. Most people thrive with accountability

Our profession is called coaching because in some ways, we show up like athletic coaches especially as it relates to accountability. For instance, if someone wanted to sell more widgets, I’d ask them, “How many sales calls will you make this week?” They know they are paying their coach good money to hold them accountable so that is part of the motivation. Another aspect is simply wanting to say, “Hey, Coach, I met my goal this week!” Some say, “I did such and such because I didn’t want to disappoint you.” Whatever the motivation, calls are made that would not have been made otherwise, sales increase, self-esteem rises and soon the coach is no longer needed.

4. Generally, people give themselves bigger and better challenges

As a coach or a parent or even a boss, it is tempting to “be in charge” and hand out the goals or punishment. It has been my experience as a coach and as a parent that generally well-meaning people will give themselves an even bigger challenge/punishment than you might give them. Have you ever asked your child what kind of punishment he or she deserves for a particular offense? Maybe you would take away their electronic device for a day. Depending on how bad they feel about their behavior, they will possibly say two. Remember the guy selling widgets? I might have asked him to make 10 sales calls but, likely, he will challenge himself to 15. If he says 5, I would ask him what it would take to double that and see what he says. It’s still his decision…that’s where the power lies.

5. It’s all about the listening

Few people have someone in their corner who truly listens to them. Not half listens, not listens while checking for messages, not listens while stirring the pot but listens with their whole mind and beyond…heart to heart listening. Most of my coaching was done over the telephone. I had clients all around the country and occasionally in exotic places like India. I always called them at the appointed time. Often I “had them at hello.” With just a word, I could tell much about their state of mind and would immediately ask, “what’s up?” surprising them with my “knowing.” When folks are really heard, they begin to shine as if they are on a stage with a spotlight. When they know they are valued and understood, trusted and cared about, listened to with the heart…their life begins to change. You don’t have to be a coach to really listen to the people in your life.

6. Coaching, like life in general, is messy

And finally, I used to tell my clients, “Sometimes you have to throw a lot of spaghetti against the wall and see what sticks.” Living life is a messy business. To have a successful, joy-filled life, you have to try new things, step out of your comfort zone, trust yourself and your instincts (which aren’t always 100 percent), and really live this messy life to the fullest. You have to get out of your own way, have compassion for yourself and others, tap into your faith, make mistakes in order to learn and allow others to do the same. Professional or business coaching may start out to be about marketing or business plans or climbing the ladder but it always evolves into life coaching. We are whole people, experiencing life through a wide lens, not a pin hole. What’s keeping you from being all you can be? What’s one action you will take today to move towards your Future Self?

Contact me if you would like to submit a guest post — kthompson7814@gmail.com

Thoreau Pondering Quotes

I began looking at thoughtful quotes from a multitude of great thinkers of the past, and as I was looking at Thoreau’s quotes, they kept pulling me in and in—he has some amazing things to say that can impact your life. Take time to ponder these quotes that make you think:

“Happiness is like a butterfly; the more you chase it, the more it will elude you. But if you turn you attention to other things, it will come and sit softly on your shoulder.” 

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“Do not hire a man who does your work for money, but him who does it for love of it.”

“We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.”

“The greatest compliment that was ever paid me was when one asked me what I thought, and attended to my answer.”

“If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.”

“If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

“I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.”

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“The universe is wider than our views of it.”

“It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.”

“It is what a man thinks of himself that really determines his fate.”

“Things do not change; we change.”

“Rather than love, than money, than fame, give me truth.”

“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find eternity in each moment.”

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“Wealth is the ability to fully experience life.”

“Though I do not believe that a plant will spring up where no seed has been, I have great faith in a seed…Convince me that you have a seed there, and I am prepared to expect wonders.”

“There will never be a reality free and enlightened State until the State comes to recognize the individual as a higher and independent power, from which all its own power and authority are derived, and treats him accordingly.”

“What is called genius is the abundance of life and health.”

“It is not enough to be busy. So are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”

“In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.”

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“Nay, be a Columbus to whole new continents and worlds within you, opening new channels, not of trade, but of thought.”

“The Artist is he who detects and applies the law from observation of the works of genius, whether of man or Nature. The artisan is he who merely applies the rules which others have detected.”

“To a philosopher all news, as it is called, is gossip, and they who edit and read it are old women over their tea.”

“Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured or far away.”

“Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.” 

“It is better to have your head in the clouds, and know where you are…than to breathe the clearer atmosphere below them, and think you’re in paradise.” 

“A man cannot be said to succeed in this life who does not satisfy one friend.”

“The only obligation which I have a right to assume is to do at any time what I think right.”

“Money is not required to buy one necessity of the soul.”

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“Read the best books first, or you may not have a chance to read them at all.”

“The perception of beauty is a moral test.”

“It is never too late to give up our prejudices.”

“Our houses are such unwieldy property that we are often imprisoned rather than housed by them.”

“If you can speak what you will never hear, if you can write what you will never read, you have done rare things.”

“The rarest quality in an epitaph is truth.”

“A man is rich in proportion to the number of things he can afford to let alone.”

“If you would convince a man that he does wrong, do right. Men will believe what they see.”

“Not until we are lost do we begin to understand ourselves.”

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“Books can only reveal us to ourselves, and as often as they do us this service we lay them aside.”

“There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living.”

“Instead of noblemen, let us have noble villages of men.”

“That government is best which governs least.”

“If the machine of government is of such a nature that it requires you to be the agent of injustice to another, then, I say, break the law.”

“So thoroughly and sincerely are we compelled to live, reverencing our life, and denying the possibility of change. This is the only way, we say; but there are as many ways as there can be drawn radii from one centre. All change is a miracle to contemplate; but it is a miracle which is taking place every instant.”

“The smallest seed of faith is better than the largest fruit of happiness.”

“That man is rich whose pleasures are the cheapest.”

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”None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.”

“To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.”

“If a man constantly aspires is he not elevated?”

“The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.”

“As you simplify your life, the laws of the universe will be simpler; solitude will not be solitude, poverty will not be poverty, nor weakness weakness.”

“To be awake is to be alive.”

“If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.”

“Live your beliefs and you can turn the world around.”

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“In human intercourse the tragedy begins, not when there is misunderstanding about words, but when silence is not understood.”

“There is no value in life except what you choose to place upon it and no happiness in any place except what you bring to it yourself.”

“A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.”

“Live the Life you’ve dreamed”

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“When I hear music, I fear no danger. I am invulnerable. I see no foe. I am related to the earliest times, and to the latest.”

“I have always been regretting that I was not as wise as the day I was born.”

“I know of no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of man to elevate his life by conscious endeavor.”

“Most of the luxuries and many of the so-called comforts of life are not only not indispensable, but positive hindrances to the elevation of mankind.”

“Books are the treasured wealth of the world and the fit inheritance of generations and nations.”

“Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.”

“Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves.”

“Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends…Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts.”

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Painting by John Latermilch of Thoreau

Other good Thoreau Quotes:

“How could youths better learn to live than by at once trying the experiment of living?”

“Every generation laughs at old fashions, but follows religiously the new.”

“In wilderness is the preservation of the world.”

“It is the greatest of all advantages to enjoy no advantages at all.”

“The language of excitement is at best picturesque merely. You must be calm before you can utter oracles.”

“Make the most of your regrets; never smother your sorrow, but tend and cherish it till it comes to have a separate and integral interest. To regret deeply is to live afresh.”

“‘Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other’s eyes for an instant?

“Our truest life is when we are in dreams awake.”

“Time is but the stream I go a-fishing in.”

“How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live.”

“Men have become the tools of their tools.”

“Men are born to succeed, not to fail.”

“Til healthy to be sick sometimes.”

“Generally speaking, a howling wilderness does not howl: it is the imagination of the traveler that does the howling.”

 

I’m sure I have left out some great ones. Which is your favorite? Please share any thoughtful quotes in the comments.

Think Less to Live More

How much time do you spend in your mind?

I have spent quite a bit of time in my mind, and have realized that I am more fully alive when I am NOT living in my mind.

It’s good to rationalize and make the best choices you can, but it’s even better when you can make those choices without thinking too much. This takes practice…

Would you like to live a more present life, being more in the moment & less in your thoughts?

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“The birth of the mind is the death of the senses,” says Dan Millman, but it is by living through our senses that make us feel most alive. This is why many people drink alcohol or do drugs; it is because they want to escape their thoughts & live more in the present moment. Well you can reach this state of mind without the use of drugs or alcohol.

So how can we get back to living through our senses in a healthy way? 

Through Mindfulness Meditation: Defined as “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

We live in a world where distractions are all around us. The cell phones we carry with us at all times may be our biggest distraction; they have the ability to make you anticipate a text or call, bring you social media updates, or give you some “important” news.  I keep my phone on silent 90% of the time and have most of my notifications turned off. I rarely watch the news because most of it is there to put fear into its watchers.

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So in this World of technology & constant distractions, how can we make time for practicing Mindfulness Meditation?

To begin, you don’t need to make time for practicing Mindfulness Meditation. You can practice it in the morning as you wake up, on your commute to work, during work, and at any moment during your day.

Example of practicing Mindfulness Meditation:

It is nice to take a specific amount of devoted time for Mindfulness Meditation, but when you are just beginning you should try to practice it within your already established daily routines. The next time you are commuting to work, practice observing the things around you. Get into your senses. Don’t think about what you are seeing, see. Don’t think about what you are hearing, hear. Don’t think about what you are feeling, feel. Don’t think about what you are smelling, smell. Taste.

Don’t label the traffic as “good” or “bad,” allow it to be as it is; see it & hear it. Don’t label the weather or other drivers, just observe them, letting go of your thoughts & tapping into your senses. It’s simple, but we make it difficult.

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As you practice this, there will be a tendency for thoughts to arise, and they will. Be patient with your thoughts. Hear them in your head and then go back to observing. Take a deep breath when needed, putting your focus on your breath and then your surroundings, free of judgment.

“Turn on, tune in, drop out,” said Timothy Leary. There are many interpretations of this, but it can also relate to Mindfulness Meditation as you are dropping your thoughts & tuning in to your senses.

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“You’ve become bored to things because they exist only as names to you. The dry concepts of mind obscure your direct perception.” Dan Millman

Millman also discusses this state of mind as Satori, “which is the warrior’s state of being; it occurs when the mind is free of thought, pure awareness; the body is active, sensitive, relaxed, and the emotions are open and free.”

Reading Dan Millmans, Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, has helped me get more into this mindset.

Getting into the present moment helps us stop dwelling on past thoughts, and to stop anticipating the future. Millman says, “Stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for.  The warrior is here, now. Your sorrow, your fear & anger, regret & guilt, your envy and plans and cravings live only in the past, or in the future.”

Overall Mindfulness Meditation is when you look at everything surrounding you without labeling it or judging it. You don’t look around & think “I see a chair, a cup of water, a tree. I’m tired. I need more money.” You just sit and observe, letting go of thoughts as they arise. This requires practice as all great things do, but it can be done! You don’t need to drink that 6 pack of Bud Light each night to relax. Dilly dilly. Drink in moderation sure, but this mindfulness practice can help you live more fully in a healthier way.

Again, don’t judge your thoughts as they arise, be patient with them.

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Dan Millman

The more you practice this, the more awake and alive you will feel throughout your days. You can practice Mindfulness Meditation wherever you are, and I highly encourage you to practice it everywhere.

Use your thinking mind when you need to take appropriate action, and then take action & live in the moment. Choose to pay attention to your surroundings on purpose. Stop letting your phantom mind drag you backwards. Don’t believe everything you think, we are often wrong anyway. Practice Mindfulness Meditation throughout your day. It won’t always be easy, but you have a choice.

“Old urges continue to arise, but urges do not matter; only actions do. A warrior is as a warrior does…Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. It’s only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.” Millman

Some of the answers to our biggest question are found not in thinking more, but in thinking less. In being in touch with your senses, you are able to live fully.

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Let us get back to our natural and blissful way of living. Regain your curiosity for life. Learn & observe all things.

“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to love. Love is the path. There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.” Millman

“My name doesn’t matter; neither does yours.  What is important is what lies beyond names and beyond questions.” Millman

I encourage you to listen to and read anything from Dan Millman, Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh & all the many other teachers of living a fuller & happier life in the present moment. You can read a summary of Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, by Clicking Here.

Let me know how you practice mindfulness! I love connecting with like minded individuals.

5 Life-Changing Takeaways from the Book, “Way Of The Peaceful Warrior”

Way of the Peaceful Warrior: A Book That Changes Lives

Book Written By Dan Millman

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Dan signing my Peaceful Warrior book!

Click on Dan’s name above to go to his website & learn more about him. (Also can scroll down to go straight to the 5 life-changing takeaways if you’d like).

Growing wise through personal and spiritual experiences, this story follows a World Champion Gymnast, Dan, who seemed to “have it all” in the eyes of society.  Even though he had everything he desired in the physical realm, he was still not happy.

I think many people can relate to this^.  We get what we think we want and then find out that it doesn’t bring lasting fulfillment. We hear about rich & famous people committing suicide, although many people often desire that famous/rich life. Dan is still alive & well today, but he went through many struggles to be able to live life beyond his ego.

I feel good, sometimes I don’t, ay,” said Drake in his popular song “God’s Plan.”

Everyone feels bad at times, no matter how much ‘success’ they have in this world. And it’s okay to feel bad, even though the media only portrays happy people having a good time. Remember that what you see on tv usually isn’t an accurate example of real life.  You can check out an article I wrote on accepting our feelings by Clicking Here.

Anyway, one night, while Dan was still in college, he went to a gas station after waking up in the middle of the night.  He met a unique old man who he named Socrates later on. (“Socrates” never told Dan his real name).

Socrates became Dan’s guru/mentor/teacher. Helping to enlighten Dan, Socrates teaches him many things throughout the book that ultimately opens Dan’s mind and allows him to awaken; to be happy now without a reason.  Like many people in the World today, Dan was living through his ego before he met Socrates.  He pursued worldly pleasures & accomplishments only to find out that those “fulfilling” moments don’t last.  Led by his teacher, Socrates, Dan is able to experience life beyond his ego, and live in peace.

The “living in peace” phrase just created another thought through me; we always say Rest in Peace when someone dies, but why don’t we ever say Live in Peace when we are living??

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Way of the Peaceful Warrior was one of the first books that had a big impact on my life.  I read it for the first time when I was around the age of 19, and have continued to read it again & again.

After I finished reading this book for the first time it immediately became my favorite book, and remains my favorite to this day. It opened up my mind to new ideas & a different way of viewing & living life. Way of the Peaceful Warrior has helped me live joyfully in the present moment, to be happy now without reason, to focus on things that really matter, to take action instead of dwelling in thought, to live non-judgmentally, & to live life in love.

I do not always remain in this state of bliss, but when I accept my feelings & situations as they are, this brings me peace. I shared this earlier, but click here if you’d like to read an article on this.

The author, Dan Millan, said he wrote this book “to inspire, uplift, and to remind readers of life’s bigger picture & higher promise.”  This book definitely inspired me & gave me more insight into the bigger picture of life.

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“Be happy now, without reason, or you’ll never be happy.”

~I truly believe that this book should be read throughout schools all around the world.  The ideas & ways of thinking this book explains could benefit the education system & our future tremendously~

In this post I will summarize some of the main points of the Way of the Peaceful Warrior. I will discuss how I have been using what I’ve learned from this book, will provide you with many of my favorite quotes from the book that relate to each takeaway & I’ve added some thought provoking quotes from the book at the end. Thank you for reading & Enjoy!

**I also want to encourage you to not just read this, but to put these ideas into practice. Ask yourself, “How can I apply this to my life?” These life-changing ideas need to be more than just read. Be patient when practicing these, & continue to remind yourself of these ideas throughout your days for them to become second nature.**

1) BE HAPPY NOW, WITHOUT REASON.

  • Millman’s words helped me see that happiness lies in the journey, not in the destination.  Many people are working at jobs only to make money for retirement.  Retirement does not equal happiness. I have used this knowledge to do more of what I love & to practice being fully present in each moment.  I am able to enjoy the ‘little things’ in life, such as a cup of coffee, a book, playing basketball, teaching, hanging out with family/friends, and the list goes on.

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Why waste half your life doing things you don’t enjoy doing if you have an opportunity to do something you enjoy?

Happiness happens now, in this present moment.  The future never really comes, the future only happens as another present moment.

Here are great quotes from the book that can open your eyes to being happy now, without reason:

* “‘What do I do then, now? Where do I go from here?’ Dan asked Socrates.

‘Who cares?’ He yelled gleefully.  ‘A fool is ‘happy’ when his cravings are satisfied. A warrior is happy without reason.  That’s what makes happiness the ultimate discipline—above all else I have taught you.’”

“Reality never matched their dreams; happiness was just around the corner — a corner they never turned. And the source of it all was the human mind.”

“There is no need to search; achievement leads to nowhere. It makes no difference at all, so just be happy now! Love is the only reality of the world, because it is all One, you see. And the only laws are paradox, humor and change. There is no problem, never was, and never will be. Release your struggle, let go of your mind, throw away your concerns, and relax into the world. No need to resist life, just do your best. Open your eyes and see that you are far more than you imagine. You are the world, you are the universe; you are yourself and everyone else, too! It’s all the marvelous Play of God. Wake up, regain your humor. Don’t worry, just be happy. You are already free!” 

“Sometimes sorrow, sometimes joy. But beneath it all remember the innate perfection of your life unfolding. That is the secret of unreasonable happiness.” 

“You Don’t need a reason to be happy. If you do that reason can be taken away.” 

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“And so I awoke to reality, free of any meaning or any search. What could there possibly be to search for? All of Socrate’s words had come alive with my death. This was the paradox of it all, the humor of it all, and the great change. All searches, all achievements, all goals, were equally enjoyable, and equally unnecessary.” 

“Act happy, be happy, without a reason in the world. Then you can love, and do what you will.”

“The secret of happiness, you see, is not found in seeking more, but in developing the capacity to enjoy less.”

2) You are much more than what you think

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Live in the Present.

  • Our thoughts limit our experience.  When you can let go of your thoughts, you can be fully alive in the present moment.  The answers you seek lie beyond thought.

“My name doesn’t matter; neither does yours.  What is important is what lies beyond names and beyond questions.”

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“The birth of the mind is the death of the senses” 

^^ I’ve been realizing this more & more lately that we are most alive when we are not dwelling in thoughts.  We can take time to have rational thoughts, but take some time to meditate in nothingness.  Let go of your thoughts by focusing on your external environment.  Tap into your senses. What do you see? Hear? Smell? Taste? Feel?  Try to do this for at least a few minutes.

When you are only in your mind, thinking, you are never fully in the present moment. Practice focusing your attention to things outside of you.

* “Satori is the warrior’s state of being; it occurs at the moment when the mind is free of thought, pure awareness; the body is active, sensitive, relaxed; and the emotions are open and free.”

“Remember, every-moment satori.”

“The warrior is Here, Now.”

“You have to ‘lose your mind’ before you can come to your senses.” 

“Stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for.  The warrior is here, now. Your sorrow, your fear & anger, regret & guilt, your envy and plans and cravings live only in the past, or in the future.”

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“Your business is not to ‘get somewhere’ — it is to be here.

“You have been immortal since before you were born and will be long after the body dissolves. The body is Consciousness; never born; never dies; only changes. The mind — your ego, personal beliefs, history, and identity — is all that ends at death.”

^^This quote reminds me of the philosophy stoicism. I wrote a post about it that you can check out by Clicking Here.

3) Life is much more than what you can think.

  • This book helped me view the external environment without judging it. Instead of looking outside & thinking “Ooo I love or hate this weather. There is a bird & a tree, and wow that car is going really fast,” I practice just looking outside & dwelling on what is, letting thoughts come & then go like passing clouds. I practice not judging things around me, seeing them just as they are, with no thinking needed. I am not like this all the time, but it is good to practice this technique!

“You now see everything through a veil of associations about things, projected over a direct, simple awareness. You’ve ‘seen it all before’; it’s like watching a movie for the twentieth time. You see only memories of things, so you become bored. Boredom, you see, is fundamental non-awareness of life; boredom is awareness, trapped in the mind. You’ll have to lose your mind before you can come to your senses.”

“You’ve become bored to things because they exist only as names to you. The dry concepts of mind obscure your direct perception.”

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“Like most people, you’ve been taught to gather information from outside yourself; from books, magazines, experts.  Like this car, you open up and let the facts pour in.  Sometimes the information is premium and sometimes it’s low octane.  You buy your knowledge at the current market rates, much like you buy gasoline.  Like this gas tank, you are overflowing with preconceptions; full of useless knowledge.  You hold many facts and opinions, yet know little of yourself.  Before you can learn, you’ll have to first empty your tank.

4) Actions are more important than thoughts.

“Your thoughts are like wild monkeys stung by a scorpion.”

Don’t believe everything you think; I have heard this phrase many times & it relates to this idea.

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We can’t always control what we think, but we do have control of our actions.

Yes, try to think positive & focus on the best, but don’t try to force thoughts away. Embrace them; let it come & then let them go like clouds passing by.

“You don’t need to control emotion,” Socrates said. “Emotions are natural, like passing weather. Sometimes it’s fear, sometimes sorrow or anger. Emotions are not the problem. The key is to transform the energy of emotion into constructive action.”

“Old urges continue to arise, but urges do not matter; only actions do. A warrior is as a warrior does.”

“. . Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. It’s only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.”

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Paying attention is also an action, and one of the most important actions:

“A Zen student asked his roshi the most important element of Zen.  The roshi replied, ‘Attention.’ 

‘Yes, thank you,’ the student replied. ‘But can you tell me the second most important element?’ And the roshi replied, ‘Attention.’”

Practice paying attention.

“Ultimately you will learn to meditate your every action.”

“Use whatever knowledge you have but see its limitations. Knowledge alone does not suffice; it has no heart. No amount of knowledge will nourish or sustain your spirit; it can never bring you ultimate happiness or peace. Life requires more than knowledge; it requires intense feeling and constant energy. Life demands right action if knowledge is to come alive.” 

“Full attention to every moment is my desire and my pleasure. Attention costs no money; your only investment is training.”

5) On Life & Death.

* “Experts devote their life to training. Masters devote their training to life.”

“I’ve tried to show you by example that a warrior’s life is not about imagined perfection or victory; it is about love. Love is the warrior’s sword; wherever it cuts, it gives life, not death.”

* “Everyone tells you what’s good for you. they don’t want you to find your own answers. they want you to believe theirs.”

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* “‘Why worry? Better to live until you die.  I am a warrior; my way is action,’ Socrates said. ‘I am a teacher, I teach by example.  Someday you too may teach others as I have shown you—then you’ll understand that words are not enough; you too must teach by example, and only what you’ve realized through your own experience.’”

“The World out there, is a school, Dan.  Life is the only real teacher.  It offers many experiences, and if experience alone brought wisdom and fulfillment, then elderly people would all be happy, enlightened masters

..But the lessons of experience are hidden.  I can help you learn from experience to see the world clearly, and clarity is something you desperately need right now.  Your intuition knows this is true, but your mind rebels; you’ve experienced much, but you’ve learned little.”

“Think of death as a transformation — a bit more radical than puberty, but nothing to get particularly upset about.” 

“Death is not sad; the sad thing is that most people don’t really live at all.”

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“Where are you? Here. What time is it? Now. What are you? This moment.”

“You fear death and crave survival. You want Forever, you desire Eternity. In your deluded belief that you are this ‘mind’ or ‘spirit’ or ‘soul,’ you find the escape clause in your contract with mortality.” 

“Wake up! If you knew for certain that you had a terminal illness – if you had precious little time left to make use of your life and consider who you are, you’d not waste time on self-indulgence or fear, lethargy or ambition.  You do have a terminal illness – it is death. Be happy now, without reason – or you never will be at all.”

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Thank you for reading! I hope you enjoyed these book notes as much as I enjoyed the book.  I think many people can relate to this incredible story.

Let us be happy now, without reason, and we will live our best life.

You can purchase The Way of the Peaceful Warrior book from Amazon by clicking here if you’d like.

More thought provoking quotes from the book:

* “So I’m a fool, huh?” Says Millman.  Socrates responds with, “We’re all fools together.  It’s just that a few people know it; others don’t.”

“Your mind is your predicament. It wants to be free of change, free of pain, free of the obligations of life and death.  But change is a law, and no amount of pretending will alter that reality.”

“Enlightenment is not an attainment, it is a realization. And when you wake up, everything changes and nothing changes.” 

“How do you know you haven’t been asleep your whole life?  How do you know you’re not asleep right now?”

“Understanding is the one-dimensional comprehension of the intellect. It leads to knowledge. Realization is three-dimensional — a simultaneous comprehension of head, heart, and instinct. It comes only from direct experience.” 

“Focus all your energy not on struggling with the old, but on building the new.” 

“Embody what you teach, and teach only what you have embodied.”

“Stress happens when the mind resists what is.”

“There are no ordinary moments!”

*Story about a younger traveler, Milarepa who has been seeking enlightenment everywhere.  He eventually sees an old man carrying a heavy sack down a mountain & thinks the man knows the answer to his question… 

Milarepa says, “‘Old man, please tell me what you know. What is enlightenment?’ The old man smiled at him for a moment, and swung the heavy burden off his shoulders, and stood straight.

‘Yes, I see!’ Cried Milarepa. ‘My everlasting gratitude. But please, one question more. What is after enlightenment?’

Smiling again, the old man picked up the sack once again, slung it over his shoulders, steadied his burden, and continued on his way.”

I had to read this story^ a few times before I understood it. I hope you can see it.

“Life is not suffering; it’s just that you will suffer it, rather than enjoy it, until you let go of your mind’s attachments and just go for the ride freely, no matter what happens.”

“If you don’t get what you want, you suffer; if you get what you don’t want, you suffer; even when you get exactly what you want, you still suffer because you can’t hold on to it forever.”

“Reading the future is based on a realistic perception of the present.  Don’t be concerned about seeing the future until you can clearly see the present.”

“Meditating an action is different from doing it. To do, there must be a doer, a self-conscious someone performing.  But when you meditate an action, you’ve already released all thoughts, even the thought of, ‘I.’ There’s no ‘you’ left to do it.  In forgetting yourself, you become what you do, so your action is free, spontaneous, without ambition, inhibition, or fear.’”

“The journey is what brings us happiness not the destination.”

I hope you enjoyed the quotes as well as the summary! Now it’s time to put what you’ve learned into practice! Start today, ask “How can I apply these ideas to my daily life?” Let these ideas sink in to who you are.

I also recommend reading Dan’s second & third books in the Peaceful Warrior trilogy. (Sacred Journey of the Peaceful Warrior & The Hidden School) which you can purchase from Amazon if you’d like by clicking on their title.

Get the books from a library or buy them; either way it will be worth your while! I read both & thoroughly enjoyed them.

Happy Reading! I wish you well on your journey toward becoming a Peaceful Warrior.

4 Philosophy ideas that can bring you temporary peace

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Disclaimer—This might change your perspective on life. Hopefully for the better. 

The choice is yours.

The 4 philosophy ideas I discuss stem from a philosophy called stoicism.

I wanted to title this post: “Stoicism 101; an old philosophy that can liberate you,” but I’m not sure if many people have heard about stoicism, and I know most people have heard of philosophy.

So what is stoicism? (scroll down to ‘4 Main Points‘ section for just the main points if you’d like).

Stoicism is defined as: “The endurance of pain or hardship without a display of feelings and without complaint.”

It is being okay with everything that happens & accepting how you feel.  It is focusing on what you can control, and letting go of the rest.  

Stoicism is liberating.

Stoicism can help you: 

  • Become a better person & friend
  • Deal with people & external events appropriately
  • Deal with adversity
  • Maintain a level head through praise & criticism
  • Come to peace with death
  • Overcome destructive emotions, and many more.

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Stoicism is also defined as: “An ancient Greek school of philosophy founded at Athens by Zeno of Citium. The school taught that virtue, the highest good, is based on knowledge, and that the wise live in harmony with the divine Reason (also identified with Fate and Providence) that governs nature, and are indifferent to the vicissitudes of fortune and to pleasure and pain.”

Stoicism helps us accept life as it is.  It helps us get past our labels of “good” & “bad.” Stoicism helps put us in a mindful state of awareness, getting us out of our constantly judging mind, enabling us to experience life fully, non-judgmentally.

In relation to living non-judgmentally, I’ve heard this quote: “What is chaos to the fly is normal to the spider.”

Shakespeare also said, “there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so.”

We know what is good or bad in human terms, but there is a lot more going on in the universe than what we think.

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Think about the millions of galaxies just like this one. Or even think about 10 more. The Universe is vast.

There is so much happening beyond us.

We know that murder is a bad thing, yet cows, chickens and other animal life are murdered daily in our world.  I eat meat so I am not complaining, I am just trying to get us all to think.

Do you think eating dog is bad?

Multiple countries eat dog today, and other countries think that this is very wrong…Here is an article that came out April 3, 2018 that discusses how over 5 million dogs are eaten in Vietnam every year—Click Here For Article.

Is it wrong to kill animals for food? I don’t have that answer.

Maybe hundreds or thousands of years from now, if the human race is still around, they will wonder how we could have eaten the meat of other animals.

Maybe not though as well.

Look back to a few examples from recent centuries, the 1900’s & beyond, to things we look back on in disgust: Open racism, public hangings & no womens’ rights.

These injustices are still happening today in some places.

So this is what philosophy is; thinking. Thinking, learning & then living out the best life from what we know. Philosophy is about questions & perspectives.

Stoicism is not pessimistic, it is optimistic, you just need to see it in the right light.

Before I get to the main points of stoicism, I would like your feedback via email. I am considering writing a short ebook that will discuss stoicism in more detail.  I have about 70 pages of solid notes on the subject, & have read multiple books regarding stoicism, so if you would be interested in reading a short ebook(condensed to about 20 pages) please let me know!

For now, here is a summary of a few main points that stoicism offers & how we can apply them to our lives.

4 Main Points

1~Amor Fati

Which translates to a love of one’s fate•

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German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was a big fan of amor fati. 

He is quoted saying, “my formula for greatness in a human being is amor fati: that one wants nothing to be different, not forward, not backward, not in all eternity. Not merely bear what is necessary, still less conceal it, but love it.”

The stoics also had another way of looking at this. They believed in a universal guiding force of the universe. They thought we are like a dog tied to a moving cart, and we have two options: We can try to dig our hind legs in, struggling to control everything, getting dragged & being challenged. Or we can enjoy the ride & live our best lives.

Last quote on Amor Fati:

“Demand not that things happen as you wish, but wish them to happen as they do, and you will go on well.” Epictetus (Philosopher & former slave)

Are you loving your fate?  If not, you can with practice, and it will help you live your best life.

2~Focus on what you can control and let go of the rest

Most of us have heard this quote: “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.” Reinhold Niebuhr

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We have heard it, and might think, “yea that’s good, I should do that.” But we often don’t follow through with this quote.

We need to follow through with action. Make a list of things you can control, and a list of things you can’t control.  Then stop wasting any time on things you cannot control.  This takes time & practice, as I am practicing this myself and am not perfect at it.

I love this idea from Philip Ghezelbash that relates to focusing on the things we can control:

“Do you have a problem in your life?

No? ► Then don’t worry.

Yes? ► Can you do something about it?…

Yes? ► Then don’t worry.

No? ► Then don’t worry.”

I have been practicing this lately when I am stuck in traffic.  There is no reason to get upset in uncontrollable traffic, but many people do & I have too at times.  I’ve been reminding myself that I have no control over the traffic, and this reminder has been bringing me peace of mind.

3~Practice poverty & misfortune

This may sound counterproductive but it can actually help a person grow tremendously.

When we intentionally practice poverty & misfortune a few days each month, we will be more prepared and accepting for when it does come.

“We must learn to disappoint ourselves at leisure before the world ever has a chance to slap us by surprise at a time of its own choosing.” Alain de Botton

Alain goes on to say: “One of the goals of civilization is to instruct us in how to be sad rather than angry. Sadness may not sound very appealing. But it carries – in this context – a huge advantage. It is what allows us to detach our emotional energies from fruitless fury around things that (however bad) we cannot change and that are the fault of no-one in particular and – after a period of mourning – to refocus our efforts in places where our few remaining legitimate hopes and expectations have a realistic chance of success.”

Entrepreneur, practicer of stoicism, and author of a New York Times Best Selling Book, The 4-Hour Workweek, Tim Ferriss, practices this each month.  See him talk about it by clicking here

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Tim Ferriss

Ferriss talks about how the philosopher Cato, would practice poverty & misfortune:

During Cato’s age, over 2000 years ago, every now and then he would wear clothes that society viewed as humiliating.

Cato did this to train himself to be ashamed of only those things truly worth being ashamed about.

Deep down we know that clothes are nothing to be ashamed of, but many people spend a lot of money to buy brand clothing to impress people they don’t even like.

The philosopher Seneca also practiced this.  In one of his writings he wrote: “Set aside a certain number of days, during which you shall be content with the scantiest and cheapest fare, with coarse and rough dress, saying to yourself the while: ‘Is this the condition that I feared?’”

We undervalue what we have, because most likely we’ve always had it…

“Many of your fears are based on undervaluing the things that are easily obtainable.” Tim Ferriss

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Ferriss also practices this by doing fasts, not eating anything for days, & also doing fasts that include only eating rice, or only drinking water.  (If you plan on doing a fast, research it as much as possible beforehand).

This year I have done two 30 hour fasts, and multiple 16-20 hour fasts.

There has been a lot of research done on fasting, and it has many benefits.  This Harvard study explains how fasting can lead to a longer and healthier life: Click Here for the study.

I’ve been practicing this another way without even knowing it:  When I need clothes, I first go to Goodwill or other thrift stores, where I buy great clothes for a cheap price.  I am very glad my mother took us to thrift shops growing up; they really have some amazing gems.  And when I buy clothes that society might think is “poor,” that doesn’t bother me & I’ll still wear it.

Macklemore agrees here in his song Thrift shop(clean version).

He says, “I’m like, ‘yo, that’s 50 dollars for a t-shirt.’ Limited edition, let’s do some simple addition. 50 dollars for a t-shirt, that’s just some ignorant _____.

I call that getting tricked by the business.”

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Do we care that much about the opinions of others that we will spend enormous amounts of money to impress them?

2000 years ago, former Roman Emperor, Marcus Aurelius said, “it never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own.

Think about what your life would be like without the things you have.  It could happen.  Better to have practiced misfortune so that if it comes to you, you won’t be bothered by it.

Are you practicing poverty & misfortune?  If not, do you think you will?

4~None of what you do lasts

Again, this may sound pessimistic, but it is liberating, and if you are still reading you can sense that practicing stoicism can be liberating.

Marcus Aurelius reminded himself of all the people who have died, whether they had a “great” occupation or a “lowly” one.  He said: “Run down the list of those who felt intense anger at something: the most famous, the most unfortunate, the most hated, the most whatever: Where is all that now? Smoke, dust, legend…or not even a legend. Think of all the examples. And how trivial the things we want so passionately are.

“No matter how clever or brilliant, none of what we do lasts…It’s good to remember that.” Ryan Holiday

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“If everything is ephemeral, what does matter?  Right now matters.  Being a good person and doing the right thing right now, thats what matters and that’s what was important to the Stoics. Be humble and honest and aware.” Ryan Holiday

If you want to really live your best life, it is important to frequently think of your own mortality. This will help you appreciate each and every moment, and not have such an intense fear of death that most people refuse to think about.

“You could leave life right now. Let that determine what you do and say and think.” Marcus Aurelius

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I hope you enjoyed learning about, or learning more about the wonderful philosophy of stoicism.  There are many more practices involved with stoicism; these were a few key starting points I believe are good to begin with, & they are ones that I am practicing.

If you want to learn more about stoicism, I recommend reading the book “Meditations” by Marcus Aurelius.  I recently read it & it is now one of my top 3 all-time favorite books.

And as I said, I have many notes on stoicism and am considering writing a short ebook on the subject to discuss it in more details (the ebook would be around 20 pages). If this is something you’d be interested in reading please let me know 🙂

I look forward to hearing from you, & hope you have gained a new perspective through reading this.

Cheers.

“In your actions, don’t procrastinate. In your conversations, don’t confuse. In your thoughts, don’t wander. In your soul, don’t be passive or aggressive. In your life, don’t be all about business.” Aurelius

Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

What if what we thought about an event wasn’t always the best way of looking at it?

Many of us label our experiences and situations as “good,” or “bad,” and many other things.

This perspective limits us from living our best lives.

As a culture we have seemed to judge events as good or bad (luck), but sometimes when we think something “bad” has happened, it is good in disguise.  And sometimes when we think something “good” has happened, it is bad in disguise.

There’s an ancient proverb that elaborates this concept:

There was a farmer who had a beautiful strong horse that was used to plow his fields.

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One day, the horse escaped, and the farmer’s neighbors came to the man sympathizing about his bad luck.  The farmer replied, “Bad luck? Good luck? Who knows?”

A few days later the horse returned with a herd of stallions.  This time the neighbors congratulated the farmer on his good luck.  He replied with, “Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?”

The next week when the farmer’s son was trying to tame one of the stallions, he fell off the horse and broke his leg. “What bad luck,” the neighbors told the farmer.  “Bad luck? Good luck?  Who knows?” Said the farmer.

A few days later an army came into the village, forcing every able-bodied youth to join them.  When they saw the farmer’s son with his broken leg, they didn’t bother to take him with them.

Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?

I’m sure you can think of a time when something bad happened but it turned out to help you in the end.  Was it good luck or bad luck?

We can’t always know the reason behind an event, so it’s important to keep a neutral attitude..

..To observe the events in our life without judging them, without drawing conclusions about them…This can bring about great peace of mind.

Great leaders understand this concept and are able to remain calm, trust life and themselves, take appropriate action, generate acceptance, and have a flexible attitude.

So the next time you’re in a situation that you label as “good” or “bad” I encourage you to ask yourself, “Good luck?” “Bad luck?” Who knows…

Thank you for reading!

Here’s another post that may also help you enable a different perspective: Question your Certainty