Monday, May 6, 2013

Anticipation

The MCAT didn't scare me.

Visualizing myself logging onto the website to check my score scares me. Especially after a month of waiting, counting down the weeks, the suspense building like a Hitchcock plot stretched over 35 days, until the final hours--tonight and tomorrow morning. The scores come in the afternoon. I can tell you what I'm going to do with the rest of the night: meditate. This is what it's designed for.

Dreams Come True

Not all dreams are possible, but some things are possible that were once only dreams.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Posture

Trying to reestablish a regular meditation practice, I've had to adapt to sitting in chairs because I left my Standard Issue Zen Pillow (S.I.Z.P., aka zafu) behind when I last moved. I've noticed a big difference in the quality of my attention when sitting crosslegged and upright on a S.I.Z.P. versus sitting upright on a regular chair.
At first, I thought it was due to habit. I'm used to the pillow. I associate that posture with meditation. But I just noticed that sitting in a chair in my habitual posture only requires me to notice my spine, leaving me prone to daydream, whereas sitting on the pillow in Standard Zen Posture requires me to pay attention to every part of my body, from head to toe. Now I realize that S.Z.P. has a purpose: to keep one's attention grounded.
So I applied this to sitting in the chair by thinking deliberately about the placement of each limb, even if I were going to keep it in the same position as before. After that, meditation was just as focused as it was on the pillow with standard posture. The conclusion is that any posture works for meditation so long as it is deliberate and draws attention to one's entire body.

Regular Meditation

To be honest, I've been slacking off as a Buddhist. I kind of stopped meditating during MCAT study, and it's been hard to reestablish the practice. On top of that, I went through a period of thinking that the particular practice of Soto Zen is ridiculous and a waste of time.
But the hasty mindset that has taken over in the absence of meditation has probably led to a lot more wasted time. I keep rushing into bad decisions without thinking them through.
One thing that I really miss about regular meditation is the way I could sit down in the middle of a decision and forget about it, and then the answer would eventually pop into my head.
I'm getting back on the meditation wagon!

Brain Songs

It seems like the mind is created by the brain just as a song is created by an instrument, or an mp3 player. Every time the file is played, the song pops back into existence. Then it goes away. Then comes back.
Our consciousness does the same. A particular state of mind pops into existence in response to certain sensory information and encoded memories. Unlike the mp3, our mental experience evolves with each iteration, expressing growth and continuity, but the underlying nature of the mind and the song is the same: both are patterns, information encoded by physical things. They depend on, yet transcend, the physical. They do not exist apart from the physical, but they are not themselves physical things.
So maybe, given enough time and possibly, our minds pop back into existence every so often, created by different physical bodies in different parts of the universe. And maybe, that is what our daily experience already is--an amalgamation of mental states that are some part unique, never to happen again, and some part universal, repeating themselves countless times throughout the history of life.

Giving Up

One of the most powerful ways to deal with an impossible challenge is to give up. Sometimes in a state of surrender it is possible to notice a door that has always been open, but went unseen because it did not match our plans.

Living the Truth

If the only absolute truth is that there is no absolute truth, then realizing the truth is pretty easy. So easy, in fact, that spending a lot of time trying to realize the truth would get boring, and with such a negative idea, it would get depressing, too. So realizing the truth is sort of a boring, depressing, pointless pursuit. But living the truth--actualizing the truth--is totally different. To live without a particular idea of reality is to be free.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Tao #2 : Taking Credit

"A wise person works without taking credit."
This idea completely contradicts what we've been taught. Aren't we supposed to take credit for our work? Aren't we supposed to promote our accomplishments? Aren't we supposed to put our names on our tests before we turn them in?