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Letting Everything Become Your Teacher with Jon Kabat-Zinn

A meditation practice can be difficult, especially when first starting out. In today's lesson from Jon Kabat-Zinn's Letting Everything Become Your Teacher, the importance of maintaining a positive and hopeful attitude is stressed, otherwise we will too easily give up.

Lesson 12: Mind-SetIf you come to the meditation practice thinking to yourself, “This won’t work but I’ll do it anyway,” the chances are it will not be very helpful.The first time you feel any pain or discomfort, you will be able to say to yourself, “See, I knew my pain wouldn’t go away,” or “I knew I wouldn’t be able to concentrate,” and that will confirm your suspicion that it wasn’t going to work and you will drop it.

Reprinted from LETTING EVERYTHING BECOME YOUR TEACHER: 100 Lessons in Mindfulness by Jon Kabat-Zinn © 2009 by Jon Kabat-Zinn.  Reprinted by arrangement with the Random House Publishing Group.

Jon Kabat-Zinn Bio and Titles

Letting Everything Become Your Teacher

Reflections on Suffering with Ram Dass (part two)

This brief excerpt from "Reflections on Suffering" with Ram Dass, recorded live in 1987, gives us insight into how Ram Dass uses guided meditation to access our deepest thoughts and feelings.

Now let your awareness let arise into your awareness, thoughts that concern some way in which you personally have experienced suffering. Just let the thought arise in your mind. Keep your witness strong. How do I suffer? What suffering has there been in my life? Let yourself into it just a little.

It will awaken a lot of thoughts that arouse that are feeling like emotions. Perhaps your suffering is around illness. Perhaps it is around loneliness and separateness. Perhaps it is around addictions, obsessions. Perhaps it is around shame, loathing towards your acts or your fantasies or qualities of your body or personality. Perhaps your suffering has been around the suffering of loved ones or the death of loved ones.

Ram Dass bio and links
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Reflections on Suffering with Ram Dass

Suffering -- the nature of it, how to be with it (ours or someone eles's), what attention we give it in our lives -- can be a major dilemma for most of us.  We often don't know how to be with it, whether to embrace it or shun it, give it space or re-direct it.  In this brief yet profound excerpt from "Reflections on Suffering", a talk given by Ram Dass in 1987, the heart of the matter is revealed, offering succint and direct teaching and wisdom on the place that suffering should have in our lives.

Now, just as I said before, if you are going to be able to deal with see somebody else’s beauty, you have to be able to acknowledge your own beauty. In a similar way, if you are going to be able to be available to someone else’s suffering, you have to be able to acknowledge your own suffering and be able to understand the nature of suffering in such a way that you have converted the quality of suffering in yourself. 
Gurdjieff, the Russian philosopher said, “There is nothing that can be obtained spiritually without suffering in life, but at the same time, if you are going to proceed on the journey you must sacrifice suffering.”  You hear that dual nature of it. You have to have suffered because the suffering is what burns through you and what deepens the compassion and opens the door. Suffering brings you closer to the mystery and at the same moment, if you hold onto the suffering and grab at it and sort of wallow in it or cling to it, it stops the journey.
There is an understanding of suffering such that you don’t invite suffering into your life, but when it comes, you work with it and transform it. The extreme of it is the Christian monk who is saying, “God, God, give me more pain. Give me more suffering because I want to get closer to you” and Maharaji saying “Do you like suffering or joy?” and saying, “I love suffering. It brings me so close to God.” 

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Ram Dass Bio and Links


Art of Peace with Morihei Ueshiba (Part II)

Morihei-Ueshiba-PhotoThis transcribed excerpt from  Morihei Ueshiba's The Art of Peace stresses the utter importance of practicing peace every day, in every moment, and in that practice, we find can begin to live in true -- and peaceful -- warriorship

Daily training in the art of peace allows your divinity to shine brighter and brighter. Do not concern yourself with the right and wrong of others. Do not be calculating or act unnaturally. Keep your mind focused on the art of peace and do not criticize other teacher or traditions. The art of peace never restrains or shackles anything. It embraces all and purifies everything. Train hard. Experience the light and warmth of the art of peace and become a true person. Train more and learn the principals of nature. The art of peace will be established all over and it will have a different expression in each place it takes root. Continually adapt the teachings and create a beautiful environment.

In good training, we generate light, that is, wisdom, and heat, that is compassion. Those two elements activate heaven and earth, the sun and moon. They are the subtle manifestations of water and fire. Unify the material and spiritual realms and that will enable you to become truly brave, wise, loving, and empathetic. Practice the art of peace sincerely and evil thoughts and deeds will naturally disappear. The only desire that should remain is the thirst for more and more training in the way. Those who are enlightened never stop forging themselves. The realizations of such masters cannot be expressed well in words or by theories. The most perfect actions echo the patterns found in nature.
Day after day, train your heart out, refining your technique. Use the one to strike the many. That is the discipline of a warrior. Face a single foe as if you are facing ten thousand enemies. Face ten thousand enemies as a single foe. The way of a warrior cannot be encompassed by words or in letter. Grasp the essence and move on toward realization.

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The Shambhala Audio Collection

Morihei Ueshiba's Bio