Step out of the Bureaucracy of Ego

Chakra 7thI’ve been thinking a lot about escape lately—and the comforts of home.

Escape is a myth, an illusion. There is no escape. This is it. Here we are.

Yet, paradoxically, there are many escapes—even more than the good old standards like binge-drinking, drug use, overeating, sex, TV, caffeine, and shopping. Reading, writing, and speaking just to hear oneself talk can all be forms of escape. Even yoga and meditation can serve as escapes and feed our addictive personalities.

“It is important to see that the main point of any spiritual practice is to step out of the bureaucracy of ego. This means stepping out of ego’s constant desire for a higher, more spiritual, more transcendental version of knowledge, religion, virtue, judgment, comfort, or whatever it is that the particular ego is seeking.” ~ Chögyam Trungpa, Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism

I have created a comfortable home. I have an awesome life—which is not to say that I don’t have struggles and stresses—but, my struggles and stresses have evolved and diminished incredibly due to the lifestyle I have chosen to live. One of simplicity, natural beauty, mindfulness, and loving kindness.

This life I am currently living has bloomed and flourished thanks to discontent. In my 20s, I was discontent with the standard life I had been conditioned to embrace: the hamster wheel of school, higher education, attainment of degrees, career promotions, two-week vacations, professional existence until retirement, and death.

Even earlier, I was discontent with the dogma I had been conditioned to believe—that I was an “original sinner,” full of faults, needing to confess, repent, and be redeemed or saved. That Jesus was the perfect, white-skinned, blue-eyed son of God, crucified for my sake. I was discontent with the contents of my mind, my moodiness, my manic depression, my irrational anxiety, my being told to just take one of these pills every day to make the pain go away.

Now, it’s clear to see that my discontent was a great gift.

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24 Inspiring Quotes on Learning to Change Your Mindset

  1. “The primary goal of real education is not to deliver facts but to guide students to the truths that will allow them to take responsibility for their lives.” ~John Taylor Gatto, A Different Kind of Teacher: Solving the Crisis of American Schooling
  2. “Real education should educate us out of self into something far finer; into a selflessness which links us with all humanity.” ~ Nancy Astor
  3. The home-schooling movement has quietly grown to a size where one and half million young people are being educated entirely by their own parents; last month the education press reported the amazing news that, in their ability to think, children schooled at home seem to be five or even ten years ahead of their formally trained peers.” ~ John Taylor Gatto, Dumbing Us Down: The Hidden Curriculum of Compulsory Schooling
  4. “Knowledge is power. Information is liberating. Education is the premise of progress, in every society, in every family. ” ~Kofi Annan
  5. “As society rapidly changes, individuals will have to be able to function comfortably in a world that is always in flux. Knowledge will continue to increase at a dizzying rate. This means that a content-based curriculum, with a set body of information to be imparted to students, is entirely inappropriate as a means of preparing children for their adult roles.” ~ John Taylor Gatto
  6. “I’ve never let my school interfere with my education.” – Mark Twain
  7. “School is about learning to wait your turn, however long it takes to come, if ever. And how to submit with a show of enthusiasm to the judgment of strangers, even if they are wrong, even if your enthusiasm is phony.” ~ John Taylor Gatto
  8. “Great education means self-education, but as some point it must also mean having a great mentor. In the history of the world, the combination of classics and mentors has been the method of obtaining all of the necessary knowledge, traits and skills.” ~Oliver Demille
  9. “A good scientist has freed himself of concepts and keeps his mind open to what is.” ~ Lao-Tzu
  10. “All problems in life-whether they are international life, in the collective life of a nation, or in the life of an individual-are the problems of education. And the problems of education are the problems of knowledge.” ~ Maharishi
  11. “Food is a perfect microcosm of learning. Anyone who does not eat well has failed in his or her own ability to systematically learn. Learning is impossible without being fed. The act of growing according to one’s genetic blueprint supersedes the act of learning. Students who are adding inches to their height are biologically different from people who are not, and the same eating schedule will not accommodate other. Every stated goal of an educational institution (or real goal of a parent) is predicated on a student’s lifelong health, which requires good food as a foundation.” ~ Clark Aldrich

These final 13 quotes come from J. Krishnamurti’s brilliant essay, Education and the Significance of Life:

  1. Conventional education makes independent thinking extremely difficult.
  2. Reaction only breeds opposition, and reform needs further reform.
  3. It is only when we face experience as it comes and do not avoid disturbance that we keep intelligence highly awakened; and intelligence highly awakened is intuition, which is the only true guide in life.
  4. As long as education does not cultivate an integrated outlook on life, it has very little significance.
  5. All of us have been trained by education and environment to seek personal gain and security, and to fight for ourselves. Though we cover it over with pleasant phrases, we have been educated for various professions within a system based on exploitation and acquisitive fear.
  6. Education is not merely a matter of training the mind.
  7. If education leads to war, if it teaches us to destroy or be destroyed, has it not utterly failed?
  8. To bring about right education, we must obviously understand the meaning of life as a whole, and for that we have to be able to think, not consistently but directly and truly.
  9. To understand life is to understand ourselves, and that is both the beginning and the end of education.
  10. The function of education is to create human beings who are integrated and, therefore, intelligent.
  11. Intelligence is the capacity to perceive the essential, the what is; and to awaken this capacity in oneself and in others, is education.
  12. What is the good of learning if in the process we are destroying ourselves?
  13. The individual is of first importance, not the system.

The Myth of Independence & the Truth of Interdependence.

Can there be true peace, balance and independence in a country where depression and anxiety are rampant, food is fast and often not really food at all, neighbors are isolated and mass shootings are more and more commonplace all the time?

What if we shift our paradigm?

From being “the greatest country in the world” to being a great place among innumerable great places on this beautiful earth.

From a human race to a global community of lifelong learners.

Most of all, from independence to interdependence.

“We can either emphasize those aspects of our traditions, religious or secular, that speak of hatred, exclusion, and suspicion or work with those that stress the interdependence and equality of all human beings. The choice is yours.” ~ Karen Armstrong

“The task that remains is to cope with our interdependence—to see ourselves reflected in every other human being and to respect and honor our differences.” ~ Melba Pattillo Beals

Read 6 more inspiring quotes on elephant journal.

3 Essential Life Lessons that Maya Angelou Taught Me.

3 Essential Life Lessons that Maya Angelou Taught Me.

(1) “The honorary duty of a human being is to love.” 

(2) “Never make someone your priority while allowing yourself to be their option.”

(3) “If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.”

 

 

28 Reminders of How to Be Kinder & More Compassionte

Mean People Suck.

Can we all agree on that much?

Also: we can all be mean people sometimes. We have a bad night’s sleep, everything goes wrong before we even leave the house, the traffic is atrocious, we are stressed, busy, pissed off and too exhausted to do anything about it.

We get offended, so we turn around and offend others with our thoughtless words, rude behavior and cutting sarcasm.

Just as an act of kindness radiates joy and love out into the universe, a mean-spirited one can often spiral into misery and hate.

This is not to say you must be a shiny, happy person all the time. It is absolutely essential to process intense emotions, including the ones we would often rather repress—fear, anger, a sense of desperation. But in a healthy way. That is, not spewing our meanness on others.

However, the world can use more kind, gentle, compassionate people. Here are 28 gentle reminders of how to be a more human human.

Only Love: the legacy of MLK

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Every year when I read a biography of Martin Luther King, Jr. aloud to my third grade class, I get all choked up when he is assassinated at the end.

It’s like watching Titanic and always hoping—maybe this time they won’t hit that damn iceberg. Everyone will survive!

But, no. The ship sinks and Martin is shot in the head standing on his hotel balcony in Memphis, Tennessee in the spring of 1968.

He has a federal holiday and loads of streets named after him. He is a national hero, and deservedly so. Sure, he probably cheated on his wife, just like that other three-initialed icon of the 60s, JFK. He wasn’t perfect. No one is.

Like other cultural icons such as Gandhi, Mother Teresa and Nelson Mandela, we idealize and sanctify Martin Luther King, Jr. in our minds and history textbooks.

MLK wasn’t flawless, but he was a powerful catalyst for Civil Rights for the oppressed—and love, peace and justice for all humans. He was a true bodhisattva, and his words and philosophies ring true today as much as they ever have.
Happy MLK Day! Read on for 15 of the Reverend’s most inspiring quotes.

Pema Chodron is a national treasure.

Pema Chodron is a national treasure.

Pema is a beacon of love, light and practical wisdom.

She is a 77-year-old bestselling author who has been a devoted teacher and student of the Shambhala tradition and a fully-ordained Buddhist nun for decades.

Born in New York in 1934, she found the Buddhist teachings in the wake of her second divorce, when her personal illusion of reality crumbled. Her main teacher was Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche from 1974 until his death in 1987. She now studies with the Venerable Lama Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche. She is the director of Gampo Alley, a Buddhist monastery in Nova Scotia.

I first started reading her books about ten years ago, and she is probably my single favorite spiritual nonfiction author. Her words are like medicine and her advice is genuine, touching and practical–and not just in a sweet grandmotherly way. Some of the teachings are tough, but Pema presents them in an extremely digestible form.

If you don’t know Pema, I hope these inspiring quotes from several of her books will whet your appetite for more Tibetan Buddhist teachings and meditation practices.

If you do, surely you’ll appreciate these tidbits and reminders as well.

Give up the seeking.

From Radical Acceptance, a great and accessible Buddhist book by Tara Brach:

Our original and true nature is described in Mahayana Buddhism as prajnaparamita, the heart of perfect wisdom… the Mother of all Buddhas, ´the one who shows the world as it is.´ She is called ´the source of light… so that all fear and distress may be forsaken.´When we are in touch with our true nature, we are completely free of the trance. No longer afraid or contracted, we know our deepest essence as the pure, wakeful awareness that beholds, with love, all of creation.

One really good question posed by the book:

Do you really trust that you are a Buddha?

And some truly great and inspiring quotes…

…from Sri Nisargadatta:

The real world is beyond our thoughts and ideasñ we see it through the net of our desires divided into pleasure and pain, right and wrong, inner and outer. To see the universe as it is, you must step beyond the net. It is not hard to do so, for the net is so full of holes.

… from Lama Gendun Rinpoche:

Happiness cannot be found through great effort and will power,
But is already there, in relaxation and letting-go.
Don´t strain yourself, there is nothing to do…
Only our search for happiness prevents us from seeing it…
Don´t believe the reality of good and bad experiences;
They are like rainbows.

Wanting to grasp the ungraspable,
you exhaust yourself in vain.
As soon as you relax this grasping,
space is there — open, inviting, and comfortable.

So, make use of it. All is yours already.
Don´t search any further…
Nothing to do.
Nothing to force,
Nothing to want,
–and everything happens by itself.

… and even from the controversial spiritual teacher, Osho:

…if you accept yourself as you are, the ideal can be filled immediately–with no time gap, right this moment, here and now, you can realize that you are perfect; it is not something to be attained in the future, it is something that you have always been carrying within you.

One has to learn how to be effortless, in a state of surrender, in a let-go. The greatest secret in life is the secret of let-go, of surrender, of trusting existence. All that is great comes as a gift. Don´t strive for it, otherwise you will miss.