The other day, I did a search on YouTube to find the proper pronunciation of an ancient Zen monk named Mokurai for a reading that I was doing on my Soundcloud page (http://soundcloud.com/paulotus/sound-of-one-hand). What I discovered was an American monk who also had the name Mokurai shoe said that he was from a place called Silent Thunder Mountain.
After a couple of minutes of video chaos as Mokurai was setting up his camera, the monk came into frame with a very austere presence with nary a hint of joy in his demeanor. Ironically, Mokurai’s somberness caused me to giggle. I wanted to grab him, shake him and exclaim, “Mokurai! Dude! Enlighten up! You have some keys to universal wisdom and that’s a great thing. Laugh man, laugh!”.
Here was a man who was referred to as a “guru” by one of the comments below him and he seemed humorless. He may have been nervous in front of the camera but I suspect it was his regular, übersolemn personality. This is what I want to get away from with my trainings and writing – the image of that monk or nun who is conveys a sense of austerity around Buddhism.
In case anyone knows of musicians in the Boston area, I’m putting together a band…
Bodhisattva Big Band and we’re looking for musicians and performers in the Boston area.
The idea is to have tribal/healing/entertaining/globally awesome music and performance that will be similar to a drum circle but will incorporate whatever musicians come our way. We’re seeking drums like djembes, bongos, tablas etc., anybody who wants to shake a rattle, bang a gong, rock some castanets, play some didgeridoo, flute, violin, ouds an so on. Also, anyone who wants to free their bodies by dancing, moving, and singing.
Rehearsals will be structured but informal and we will do covers like Beatles, Marley, Peter Gabriel but will also create our own music as well.
We are energy beings and we’re filled with electrical vibrations which in turn means that we have plenty of positive and negative ions coursing through our body systems. In a more philosophical sense, we have positive and negative emotional and spiritual energy. We can either invite the good energy into our lives or attract the dark stuff. While it’s not always our decision whether darkness enters our lives, we can choose how we cope with it and how to shield ourselves. Yup, it’s all around but you don’t have to give into it.
Cultivating the positive energy takes work and determination. Ironically, it’s easier to give in and be cynical and pessimistic about how difficult life is and be overwhelmed by the negatives of life. Once you do this, you set up a pattern of inviting in adverse energy into your life which includes negative people.
Personally, I like to work hard and everyday, I ponder how fortunate I am to be healthy and surrounded by love. I put up a shield when I feel like any dark souls are trying to draw my energy. If my depression comes a knockin’, I put in extra effort to stay in the light and have my friends and/or family around. when my dark nights visit me. Of course, I also try to meditate more too.
We have choices about our energetics and the more we get the positive ions flowing, the more we’ll attract the same.
I like to surround myself with the positive energy of nature. The banyan trees in Florida always rejuvenate me..
Many people are living their lives expecting to eventually enter the gates of heaven, paradise or reach Nirvana but only some of them realize that these places already exist in our worlds. Now I’m not saying that there isn’t some beautiful place at the end of our lives that we arrive at but I’m still a skeptical about it. What I’m saying is that there is so much more paradise in our lives that can lie outside of our everyday awareness. I find mine in simple moments like meditating, hiking, eating a grand meal, swimming or just being with people who I love.
It’s really easy to find simple Nirvana in your lives. You just have to open your awareness and you’ll find them more and more.
my colored pencil rendering of a model by the brilliant paleoartist Viktor Deak
I have a passion for the study of paleoanthropology as well as trying to get a handle on our human origins; it’s a key to understanding ourselves as people and where we come from. This science can also help us better understand our mental health, our humanity and our neurobiology.
When I say understand our origins, I mean digging back at least 3 million years or more. Studying this science fits in with my pursuit of wellness psychology, social psychology, positive psychology, and health psychology.
Since I was young, I’ve always had a fascination with our hominid ancestors and was particularly struck by the fossil known as Lucy, an Australopithecus afarensisthat was discovered in Africa in 1974. She became this magical icon for me and represented my human connection to primates so much so that I drew a version of her based on paleoartist Viktor Deak.
If you want to know how big a nerd I was when I was 10, my parents bought me Lewis Leakey’s classic book “Origins” for my birthday and I jumped for joy with equal excitement of getting my G.I. Joe Egyptology action figure set.
boy, did I love this set!
My fascination with all things paleoanthropologic continued through high school with a human origins class, in college with another human origins class and also a primatology class. Attending American University in D.C. I was able to go to the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History, check out the cool prehistoric human fossils and then go to the National Zoo and sit and watch the gorillas, orangs and monkeys numerous times. and has continued with my studies in psychology and art.
As I may have mentioned before, I have a chronic condition that I’ve contended with for over half of my life. It’s called bipolar disorder and I try to look at less as a disease and more as a difficult neurotransmitter challenge. The biggest question I get from people who are unfamiliar with the condition is: “Aren’t we all bipolar?”. To some degree, yes. In this bloody complex and oft times difficult world, it’s hard not to get beaten down by all the stresses out there and in turn get cranked up when things are going splendidly. Sure, it’s easy to get depressed about the state of world affairs but to flip around and hit a manic high tends to be much less common.
For those of you not familiar with mania or hypomania, just imagine downing 10 cups of coffee, having your birthday as a kid and the excitement that ensues the night before knowing that you’re going to have a slew of presents and cake. When I was a kid, insomnia would hit me the night before but it was only temporary. Now multiply this feeling by weeks or sometimes months without an obvious precipitating event, toss in some insomnia and constant exuberance and voila, you have one of my hypomanic periods of my life.
My hypomania can be really fun for a while. I tend to be the life of all the parties that I attend and a social dragonfly wherever I go. Basically, I’m on happy fire and I don’t want anything to bring me down off of it (though my family would have otherwise). I tend to call them at odd hours but for my brother in Spain, calling him at 3am my time is late morning for him so he find’s it entertaining but clearly knows that I’ve entered the hypomania zone. I’ve learned not to torture my mom in the early morning but when I call her during the day and blather on incessantly about my life plans, some grandiose and others somewhat realistic, she stays calm and bears with me.
The big downside to the power of the hypomania is that when my insomnia starts to catch up, I can get irritable and easily agitated by small things. I also tend to drive a bit recklessly and want to drink more and spend money that I don’t have. There isn’t any relaxation with the hypomanic state and my stress levels can be tipped towards anxiety and constant tension even when I’m happy and high on life. (to be continued)
Here’s Chrystal Kubis and I with our episode 2 of our show “The Fork & The Flame”. This time, we discuss thriving with the changes in our life.
Our purpose is to help people find as much happiness, inner-peace, humor and strength as possible in their lives. In addition, we also want to help people find the freedom to find their joy and remove their internal and external barriers.
My friend Chrystal Kubis and I were having one of our deep discussions about inner wisdom and how we came by ours. I told her that I thought mine came from the reservoir of knowledge that we all have deep inside of us that can be drawn upon. For us Buddhists, that would be our inner Buddha which merely means that we all have the capacity and potential to become a Buddha or an enlightened being. Then I made a crack about how I thought that channelers were a bit daft after I saw that she had Abraham Hicks (http://www.abraham-hicks.com/lawofattractionsource/index.php) on her Ipod and that I had doubts as to the validity of a woman channeling some guru’s soul.
Well, Chrystal got me on this one because she said she had been a skeptic about the more “woo woo” type of things like channelers and that from what she had seen, she was now a believer. I realized that even though I consider myself very left and open-minded, that I can still open my mind and perception further; my inner scientist often needs more rational proof of metaphysical and supernatural events and like many skeptics, I need pushing. Yup, I can be judgmental folks and sometimes it takes my friends to stop me and help me realize that there is still so much mystery out there in the world and we know so little. Damn the skeptical circuits, set engines to full open mind and go full speed ahead.
If you want to see Chrystal and myself talking about some great stuff as “The Fork & The Flame” on YouTube, here’s our link for now. yup it’s long and future ones will be shorter but enjoy. it’s very engaging!
Here’s a simple sentiment today for you folks: get out and have a good time. Party it up. Live life to the fullest and just have some fun. I use the term party for any activity that involves upping your positive energy. This includes pursuits like hiking, hitting the beach, sports, artistic endeavors, being with loved ones, meditation or just having a party because you’re six feet above the ground. I can’t say it enough but our existences’ are impermanent and there ain’t no guarantees that you’re going to live to a ripe old age so get to it.