Multitasking

A student once asked his teacher: “Do you make efforts in your practice of meditation, master?”
The master replied: “Yes, I do. When hungry, I eat; when tired, I sleep.”

The student asked: “Does not everyone make these same efforts, master?”
The master answered: “Not exactly. When they are eating, they think of a hundred kinds of necessities; when they are about to sleep, they ponder over a thousand affairs.”

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A special meeting

Part 1 – This article
Part 2
Part 3

From time to time I come across people who want to know how to identify if somebody is the right teacher for them. With that topic in mind, I want to share how my first meeting with Wolfgang (my teacher) went. This was truly one of the most significant moments of my life, but before I can describe it I believe a little bit of contextual information is in place.

When I reflect back on my early youth, I can say that I was born in a family of ‘seekers’. I remember quite clearly that my father was always studying either some religious texts or some scientific articles, and that my mother often had fundamental questions and doubts about religion; and this was well before they were introduced to spirituality.

It’s my guess that this atmosphere of looking for meaning and answers in life is why I felt a great attraction towards spirituality in my early teens. For about ten years (from the age of 12 to 22) I was slowly, but rather unsystematically, studying spiritual philosophies. I sometimes think of this period as a long flirt. I was reading some books, watching some recordings of discourses, listening to discussions and even attending workshops on spirituality, but it never became an integrated part of my life.

That changed when I broke up with my ex-girlfriend. That break-up strongly awakened the desire in me to be free from mental suffering and to be truly happy. Barely one or two months later I met Wolfgang.

My parents had organised a gathering at their house on that day. Swami Veda and Amit Goswami were going to enter into a dialogue with each other on, as I recall, the relationship between the findings of quantum physics and of spirituality. Several people were going to attend this meeting, among which Wolfgang.

When Wolfgang entered my parents’ home my mother introduced him to me. I somehow became a lot more alert and aware of everything when we were introduced to each other. What stands out to me now is how clearly I am able to remember those first 30 or so seconds of our introduction, and what I find interesting is that Wolfgang remembers them quite clearly as well. I remember where we shook hands, how we shook hands and what we said to each other. One peculiar thing is that I somehow managed to, in my very first sentence to him, blurt out that it would be great if I could learn from him. I was not wanting to learn from him before we had met, but it is the first thing I said when we did meet.

Of course, I wanted to speak with him some more, but he was quite busy that evening and I did not really get a chance. In hindsight that was a good thing, because if I would have been speaking I probably would have missed a clear sign that he was the right teacher for me: Whenever I sat down on the chair next to him, while waiting to say something to him, my mind would go blank. And that ‘blankness’ would be there for as long as I would sit next to him; when I got up before having said anything to him my mind became active again. I cannot explain why it happened like this (and to be honest, I also do not find it interesting to know), but it was something I could clearly observe.

Finally, at the very end of the evening, I had a chance to talk to him. He told me that he was willing to teach me, but I would have to pass a test first. I will speak about that test in my next article.

Part 1 – 本文
Part 2
Part 3

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Heart of a Buddha

This is an anecdote from the life of the Chinese poet and statesman of the Song Dynasty, Su Dong Po.

One day Su Dong Po was chatting with his good friend, the monk Fo Yin. At a whim Su Dong Po asked: “What do you see when you look at me?” The monk replied: “A Buddha.”

Then the monk asked Su Dong Po: “What do you see when you look at me?” Su Dong Po, being rather mischievous, gave Fo Yin a wry smile and said: “A pile of shit!”

After talking a bit more, the two parted ways. When Su Dong Po got home, he told his wife about this conversation and was expecting the lady to praise his wittiness. His wife laughed and said: “What a fool you are!”

Su Dong Po was puzzled and urged his wife to explain. She said: “You see Fo Yin as a pile of shit, because your heart is a pile of shit. Fo Yin sees you as a Buddha, because he has the heart of a Buddha.”

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Books I love

One of the things that helps me to stay balanced in daily life is regularly reminding myself of spiritual teachings. One of the ways in which I do that is by reading a few pages from inspring books every day. Nowadays I do not read with the primary goal of gaining new information. My main intention is to keep the spiritual wisdom fresh and alive in my mind, so that it becomes easier to apply it in daily life.

Some of the books I’ve read have filled me with awe, wonder, joy and curiosity. If you are looking for any book to read, I would recommend any of these to you. If you have any recommendations for me, do let me know about them in the comments.

General Spirituality

  • Conversations with God (Books One, Two & Three) & Friendship with God, by Neale Donald Walsch
    These four books were the first I’ve read on spirituality. I was about 12 years old when I read these books and I read them with joy and excitement. The books touched me deeply and they have shaped my thinking. I reread them to this day.
  • The Art of Joyful Living & Love and Family Life, by Swami Rama
    Two books that I have found useful and practical in many aspects of daily life. As with all of Swami Rama’s books, I find them easy to understand and to-the-point.
  • Sacred Journey, by Swami Rama
    A book that I found very interesting and useful. It describes the relationship between life and death and how to make both meaningful. I had already read other books on the subject of death before reading this book, and those books left me convinced that a good understanding of death is necessary to live fully. When it comes to books on death however, this is the one that sticks with me.
  • A New Earth, by Eckhart Tolle
    I have read this book more than five years ago, and although I cannot clearly remember the specifics of the book I always find myself recommending this book to others. What I do remember is that I was very much inspired by the book to explore myself more deeply.

Autobiographies

  • Living with the Himalayan Masters, by Swami Rama
  • An Autobiography of Yogi, by Paramahansa Yogananda

    I love both books because they describe the experiences (struggles) of students of life. To read about people who have encountered and experienced the same negativity that we all experience, and to read about their efforts to understand this negativity and free themselves from it is a source of inspiration and motivation to me

Yoga

  • The Royal Path, by Swami Rama
  • Philosophy of Hatha Yoga, by Swami Veda Bharati
  • Science of Breath, by Swami Rama
  • Path of Fire and Light (Volumes I & II), by Swami Rama
  • Meditation and its Practice, by Swami Rama
  • Yoga and Psychotherapy; by Swami Ajaya, Rudolph Ballentine and Swami Rama
  • Perennial Psychology of the Bhagavad Gita, by Swami Rama

    These books all supplement each other in way or the other. The path of yoga is explained in a way that I found easy to understand and easy to connect with different aspects of my life.

Misc

  • From Sex to Superconsciousness, by Osho
    All of Osho’s books are transcripts from his discourses, and this particular discourse caused a lot of controversy in its time. Although the book appears to be about sex from the title, I find that the subject is love and that subject is described in a way that moves me.
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What we resist, persists

In Neale Donald WalschConversations with God it is written that what you resist, persists and I recently found a really nice illustration of this principle.

If you are a tennis fan like me, and perhaps even if you aren’t, you might have heard that Marion Bartoli became this year’s ladies’ Wimbledon champion. A BBC journalist made some ‘negative’ remarks about her looks before she was about to play the Wimbledon final. This angered a large number of the BBC audience, which led the BBC to issue a formal apology for the comments made by the journalist (source).

The reason that many people complained about the journalist’s comments is because they find somebody’s looks irrelevant in sports. They want to focus on the sports itself. This is what a somebody posted on the BBC news website for example:

Bartoli won because she was the best player over the fornight. Inverdale’s remarks were a disgrace, a player’s looks has nothing to do with how sucessful they will be on the court.

What I find really ironic about this is that it is actually not the BBC journalist’s comments that took the attention away from the tennis, but the reaction to those comments. If you read the comments section of the BBC article that reports on Bartoli’s victory at Wimbledon for example, you will find that most comments are reactions and dicussions on the remarks made by the journalist. These remarks are receiving so much attention that even politicians are now finding ways to use the comments to their benefit. I was surprised to find an article that continues on this subject on the front page of the evening newspaper as recently as a few days ago.

This is what is meant by the statement what we resist, persists. When we resist something, it persists because we don’t actually stop giving attention to it; instead we start giving negative attention to it. Anyone who practices meditation has experienced that attention is energy and that energy makes and keeps things alive. This is why it is not possible to instruct somebody to not think of the Eiffel Tower for example.

The most effective approach to change something we don’t find useful or meaningful is to accept what we don’t want and then to focus on what we do want.

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I’ve joined Twitter 我加入twitter了!

As you may have already noticed, I’ve recently joined Twitter. I’ll mostly be using it to share some of my thoughts and musings. I’ll also use it to retweet the people who have inspired me to explore the inner aspects of life.

For the sake of convenience, I’ve added my ‘tweet feed’ to the sidebar. I hope you enjoy!

你也許己經發現,我加入twitter了,主要為了分享我的想法和靈感,我也會利用twitter轉發那些啟發我進一步探討生命內在層面的導師們的訊息

為了方便閱讀,我在部落格上加入了twitter訂閱,希望大家閱讀愉快!

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Reconnecting with myself

It has been almost 3 months since my last article on this blog. My meditation practice deteriorated in that period and because of that, so did my connection with myself. In this article I want to share why this happened.

In the period since the last article Elly and I have from Taipei to London. This was challenging and frustrating at times. To give you a sense of the situations we faced during the move:

  • I had lost my wallet, with my debit and credit cards in it, the day before we moved to London. It became quite difficult for us to pay the advance for our flat in London because of this. Fortunately for us, we had a friend in England who was able to lend us the money!
  • The flat we are renting in London was left behind in an unhygienic state by the previous tenants (there was a strong urine smell coming from several places in the house!). Our landlord was not in the country to inspect the flat before we entered it, so he had not brought the flat back to clean condition before we moved in.
  • Our ISP failed to send us our internet router twice (and almost thrice), which left us without internet access for many days. This is a difficult situation for me because I work from home, and without an active internet connection I cannot do anything at all.

What is more important than what happened, is how we dealt with what happened. Even though we were quite frustrated because we couldn’t settle down, I believe we kept a clear head and just dealt with what we were faced with.

Having said that, the situations we were encountering made sure that I was hardly focused on myself and very focused on everything around me. Meditation did not seem attractive to me at all. In fact, spirituality did not have a high priority at all (which explains my silence on this blog).

The first thing I dropped in this situation is the last thing I should have dropped: regular contact with myself (regular meditation). When I use the term regular meditation, I mean to say meditation at a fixed moment in the day for a fixed duration. My habit for example, is to meditate for one hour directly after waking up.

I was still meditating daily, but the duration and moment were all over the place. One day I would be meditating for 2 minutes immediately after dinner, on another day 20 minutes after breakfast, on again another day 15 minutes on the train. This lack of stability in my practice caused a lack of stability in my mind, and this stability is the stability that I need even more than the stability of my home situation. This lack of stability in my mind caused a vicious circle which I have experienced before in the past. The only method that I know to break this circle is deciding to practice regularly.

I’m happy to see and say that I have made that decision once again.

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The nature of the ego

Part 1
Part 2 – This article

I briefly touched upon the subject of self-fulfilment during last Sunday’s workshop. That in turn reminded me of this article about the ego, which I have been wanting to write for a while but had almost completely forgotten about.

Some years ago I had a realisation that whenever we are looking for something outside ourselves, we are not giving that something to ourselves. If, for example, I am looking for a person to love me, it means that I am not giving myself enough love. This is true for all the other basic needs that are rooted in love, such as respect, attention, appreciation, meaning, etc.

To give ourselves these basic needs, in other words to fulfil ourselves, we need to realise that we are the source of these basic needs. When we do not realise that we, ourselves, are the source of love, life becomes more difficult to enjoy. Our behaviour becomes more externally oriented, because that is where we are seeking fulfilment. This ‘additional’ externally oriented behaviour is what is often perceived as caused by the ‘ego’. It is for example when we are seeking appreciation from others that we start boasting to others about ourselves, become vain, or some other behaviour that is associated with the ego.

I often thought the ego is some sort of thing inside me before I had this insight into it. I started to believe that the ego is something that is preventing me from experiencing ‘enlightenment’ and that it needs to be curtailed, controlled or defeated. I now realise that this approach to the ego is useless, because the ego is not a thing and so you cannot battle it. It is correct that it seems like the ego is unbeatable, for the simple reason that it does not exist. I experienced relief when I understood this.

The ego is simply a misunderstanding or misbelief about who and what we are. We are the source of all the basic human needs and my experience is that we start experiencing this more when we start to act according to that understanding.

Those who are familiar with Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras can compare the explanation in this article to his explanation of the kleshas. Patanjali says that ignorance of our true nature (avidya) is the root cause of all suffering and that ‘I-ness’ (asmita) is a product of this ignorance.

Part 1
Part 2 – 本文

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14/04/2013 – Beyond judgements 台南一日工作坊:超越批評

The insights that I have gained on the attitude of non-judgement have been among the most useful and practical to my personal development. That is the reason that here, on this blog, I have written a number of articles on this subject.

In the period that I have been writing these articles I have also been experimenting a lot with the ideas presented in them, and I have become confident that those ideas can serve as an important foundation of the personal philosophy of many people. That’s why I have been busy with trying to develop a one-day workshop around the subject of going beyond judgements.

On April 4th I will conduct this workshop for the very first time, in Tainan City, Taiwan. The feedback on this workshop will help me to further develop my ideas on how to conduct a workshop on this specific subject in the future.

Details on the April 4th workshop, such as costs, location and schedule can be found in Chinese via the following link: Beyond Judgements (April 4th, Chinese).

General details on the workshop can be found in English via the following link: Beyond Judgements (General, English).

對於非論斷態度的觀察,是對我個人成長而言最有用也最實際的收穫之一。那也是為什麼,在我的部落格裡,我寫了多篇有關這個主題的文章。

在發表網誌文章的期間裡,我也試著實驗文章裡提到的想法,我也感到越來越有信心,這些想法可以在許多人生命中建立個人哲學的重要基礎。這也就是為什麼我一直試著發展出以超越批評為主題的一日工作坊。

4月14日,我將在台南舉行第一次的超越批評一日工作坊。有關這次工作坊的意義與建議,將會進一步幫肋我發展出關於這個主題工作坊的更多想法。

有關這次工作坊的細節,如費用、地點以及課程表等中文資訊,可參考以下連結:Beyond Judgements (April 4th, Chinese)

相關英文資訊,請參考以下連結:Beyond Judgements (General, English)

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Rumified – Exploring my destiny Rumified – 探索自己的命運

There is a saying, or perhaps it is a quote, which goes

“If you can’t do what you love, love what you do.”

I appreciate this quote because it summarises an attitude or approach towards life that I aspire to. My interpretation of this quote is that our first attempts should be to try to do what we feel passionate and excited about. If life is not arranged in such a way that doing those things is possible in this moment, then we should at least feel passionate ad excited about those things that are possible now.

I emphasised the word ‘first’ in my interpretation, because up to a few months ago in my life I have exclusively focused on the second part of the quote. Over time, I increasingly found myself advising other people to discover what they are passionate about in life and to be creative in finding ways to incorporate their passions in their livelihood and day-to-day activities. That naturally led me to question whether I was actually following my own advice.

I was not.

So I quickly thought of the moments when I was most in awe, most inspired, most excited. These feelings often arise in me when I see peace descend in others, or when I see them gaining insights that are important to their lives, or when their negativity is making way for positivity. I enjoy observing it, and I enjoy it when I can be a part of it.

With this becoming clear to me, and with me getting increasingly less satisfaction from my technical work, I decided that I need to try to design a future for myself in which I will be working with people instead of computers. I want to do more with the insights that I am sharing on this blog in my daily life. This does not mean that I’m in a rush to change my job in the next second, because I find stability in my life important; but it is clear to me that I will be changing my job sometime in the future.

My first step has been to get a formal position as an (in-house) coach at my employer. I had already been doing coach-like work informally and this seemed to be a very natural next step to me. I’m happy to say that my employer has given me this position now, and that I already feel more satisfied because I have more time to spend on activities that I find deeply meaningful.

My next step, which might take a few years to complete, is to move into coaching and consultancy on a full-time basis. This combined with some advice that Wolfgang has given Elly and me in the past, is the reason that Elly and I have started our own consultancy called Rumified. I want to gradually build a stable foundation for myself via this consultancy, so that I can complete my career switch at some point in the future. I invite you to visit the website of our consultancy at www.rumified.com.

I do not know what the future holds for us, but what I can say is that I am very happy with the steps that I am taking now.

有句俗語,或是名句是這麼說的:

「若你不能做你所愛的事,那麼就去愛你所做的事。」

我之所以欣賞這句話,是因為它將我所希望採取的生命態度做了一個總結。我對於這句話的詮釋是: 首先,我們應該嘗試做我們感到有熱情且興奮的事情。但如果人生安排並未讓我們在當下能夠做這些事情,那麼我們至少應該對於那些目前可行的事情,抱持熱情與興奮。

我之所以在我個人的詮釋中強調「首先」,是因為直至幾個月前,我的生命一直僅專注於這句引言的第二部分。我發現自己越來越常建議別人,去找出他們感到有熱情的事情,並且運用創意,將他們的熱情和維持生活的工作與日常生活結合在一起。很自然地,這使得我開始詢問自己,是否也依循這樣的建議。

我沒有。

因此我很快地回想起我感到最受啟發、最興奮的時刻。這些感覺經常在我看見平靜降臨他人身上,或者當他人獲得重要的人生觀察時,或者當他們的負面情緒漸漸消失,正面能取而代之時出現。我享受觀察這樣的過程,也享受我能成為這過程的一部分。

隨著這點發現,以及我對自己的技術性工作感到越來越不滿足,我決定我需要為自己設計一個未來,一個我能夠和人們共同分享,而非與電腦共事的未來。我想要更進一步運用我在部落格上分享的日常生活觀察與洞見。這並非意謂著我急著馬上換工作,因為我認為穩定的生活也是重要的,但我很清楚,在未來我將會另尋出路。

我踏出的第一步是正式擔任我目前公司的內部成長教練。一直以來我己經多少擔任這樣的工作,而這個職位似乎是很自然的一步。我很高興我的雇主在此時給我這樣的機會,同時,因為我有更多時間從事我認為非常有義的事情,我也因此感到更加滿足。

我的下一步可能要花上幾年的時間才能達成,我希望能夠從事全職的成長教練與顧問工作。這個期望,再加上過去沃夫岡給我和Elly的一些建議,是我和Elly之所以開始名為Rumified的顧問公司的原因。我希望能夠透過這個顧問公司,慢慢地為自己建立一個穩固的基礎,然後在將來全心投入顧問工作。在此,我邀請大家參觀我們的顧問公司網站: www.rumified.com.

我不知道我們的將來會如何,但我可以說,我對自己目前所走的路感到十分開心。

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