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360 of Compassion

Inner Jungle, Inner Peace

Assume that everyone you meet is drunk, afraid and armed.

This is not a formula for paranoia. This is a formula for compassion.

Everyone is drunk with their subjective view of reality. Everyone is afraid (on some level) of being (profoundly) wrong about their view of reality. And everyone is armed with anger.

If you can, now and then, help minds you meet see that there has never been and never will be such thing as objectivity (mind...
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Koans of Uncertainty as an Antidote to Perfectionistic Insistence on Knowing What’s What

Psychologically speaking, koans are a unique way to inoculate a human mind to the anxiety of uncertainty. When we encounter uncertainty, we are stumped. Uncertainty frustrates us with its enigmatic nonsense. Koans, in their unanswerable quality, effectively simulate such moments of uncertainty.

Author Hee-Jin Kim explains: koans are “realized, not solved” (1975, 101). Admittedly, this explanation is a bit of a puzzle itself. But here’s how I make sense of it. A koan,...
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Life at a Slower Shutter Speed of Mind

I have recently returned from a trip to Australia, my second trip Down Under, teaching various clinical applications of mindfulness to mental health professionals.  I love this exotic continent and, when asked, I eagerly share my impressions with, what I think, is infectious enthusiasm.  But the other day I thought to myself: "How certain am I of my impressions?  How confident am I that my subjective experience of this land would be in any way...
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Compassion is Self-Care

Forbidden Knowledge of Forgiveness


Forgiveness requires forbidden knowledge about human nature, an understanding of the hard-to-grasp fact that we are all "motivationally innocent," we all "mean well" from our own point-of-view. This curious truth is the "inside narrative" that is always eclipsed by our own "inside narrative." And each act of forgiveness deepens this paradoxical knowledge until you pre-forgive all that you are yet to witness and suffer from.

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Everything is Resilience

Everyone I meet – socially, clinically, or intimately – has a “resilience project” in front of them. Like ants on a busy sidewalk, all of us are on a constant collision track with reality. All of us are in a kind of flow state of navigating the life-and-death slalom of logistical and existential traps. We are so good – so brilliant! - at this that most of the time we don’t even know we are...
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360 of Compassion

Fearless Ideas

Feb 17th, 1600; guy named Giordano Bruno is burnt at the stake. When faced with the sentence, he says to jury: "You who pronounce my sentence are in greater fear than I who receive it."

Elsewhere, in the last months of his life he says:
"There was in me that which no future century will deny to be mine, that which a victor could have for his own: not to have feared to die, not to have...
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Christmas Behavior Modification

St. Nick came and went.  He's a jolly old guy, for sure.  But also a bit of a control freak.  What's the deal with keeping the list of who's naughty and who's nice?  The spirit of the season, if I understand it correctly, is about giving.  A gift for good behavior is not a gift, but a token of behavior modification.  A true gift is unconditional.  Take a tip from Grandfather Frost, the other jolly...
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Review of “I Am Here Now”

About two thousand years ago, Marcus Aurelius, a Roman emperor and a Stoic thinker, implored himself in his own journal: "Throw away your books: stop letting yourself be distracted ... Discard your thirst for books ... Remember how long you've been putting this off, how many extensions (of life) the gods gave you, and you didn't use them ... "

What was he imploring himself to do?  Why was he begging himself to throw away his...
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Entering What Is

When you maintain a memory of "what was" while processing in parallel "what is," you end up with a sense of self.

When you let go of "what was" and just stay with "what is," the sense of separate self disappears.

It is not that difficult to experience this kind of ego-death for a split second.

When this way of being/non-being goes on autopilot, the subjective distinction between you and the Universe at large...
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12 Forests of Braj

Braj is an ancient pilgrimage tradition in India which involves a circular path through 12 forests.  This path goes nowhere.  "Walking the goal-less circuit of Braj, hearing and living the stories of Krishna's play, has a particular effect: it opens up a new perspective, namely, that all life is lila, or purposeless play."

In trying to understand the tradition of Braj, it is best to ask not "Who is Krishna?" but "What is Krishna?"  Krishna is...
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