News — Mark Matousek


Real Life Spirituality with Mark Matousek

Today we have an excerpt from Real Life Spirituality with Mark Matousek.  He will focus on what it means to be a practicing spiritual person in the world, how we bring sacred values into our daily lives and how it challenges us.

I came up against this challenge first when I came back from India, after having spent time over there in ashrams and monasteries and my head was, you know, sort of full of all these spiritual ideas.  It wasn’t long after I came back that I realized I needed to learn to incorporate these ideas into the real world. I would talk to people about enlightenment and Satori and Nirvana and all these grand ideas.  They would look at me, not quite believing me, not quite understanding what I was talking about, until a friend finally said to me, “Do you mean kindness?” And when he said that, it was like a light went off, and I realized how diluted I was to think that spirituality was this grand thing, separate from the world. I was actually angry, feeling like nobody was understanding what I was trying to say until I got that, the truth is that I was misinterpreting what spirituality was about and separating it from everyday life.

So I realized that until I could understand that kindness was the essence of everything I had learned and leave behind all of this mystical language and these grand ideas, I wasn’t actually going to be able to live an integrated and balanced life as a spiritual person in the world. I didn’t really know what that would look like and what I came to realize is that being a householder is actually much harder than being a monastic, when it comes to bringing your spiritual values into day to day living. You know, it’s easy to have love for humanity when you’re sitting on a cushion in an ashram or in a monastery, but when you come out into the world and you start dealing with things like money and relationships and sex and career and ambition, all of a sudden it gets a lot more complicated, it gets a lot more challenging.

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Self Reinvention with Mark Matousek

Today we are pleased to bring to you an excerpt from "Self Reinvention" with Mark Matousek.  Learn to explore yourself, your truths and your desires. Make the creative choices as you grow and acquire your personal reward.

Dostoyevsky called man “the animal that can adapt to anything.” But instead of remembering this, we often make our life choices by default, taking the easy or well-traveled path, obeying the voices of practicality and conformity, over the siren call of freedom.

Clarity, focus and truth-telling are the only spotlights strong enough to dispel the fog of ambivalence and reveal the living shapes hiding there, the shapes of our own desires and many selves.

By asking ourselves which aspects of the self we wish to change, and being specific about our desires, we empower ourselves to make creative choices.

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The Question of Meaning with Mark Matousek

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from "The Question of Meaning" with Mark Matousek.  Where do we find the meaning of life?  The answer is different for everyone.  Mark Matousek takes us on the journey to understand how we can all discover the meaning of life within ourselves.

Let's talk about the question of meaning. Why is a strong sense of meaning so crucial? What do we do when our lives lack meaning? How do we find meaning in life when things overwhelm us and we can barely keep our heads up, and where does meaning actually come from?

Now, I’m going to focus on six essential tools that we can use to discover and cultivate an inspired sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. Without meaning, it could be hard to face the challenges that are thrown our way and hard to weather the terrible bits, to understand ourselves, to find a reason to go on, and most of all, hard to make choices.

Now, choice is the first important tool we’re going to talk about in cultivating meaning. As Viktor Frankl wrote,”The ability to choose our way is the last of the human freedoms”.  In his book, “Man’s Search for Meaning”, Frankl describes being a prisoner of war and seeing the power of choice acted out every single day in matters of life and death.  "We, who lived in concentration camps, can remember the men who walked through the huts comforting others, giving away their last piece of bread. They may have been few in number but they offer sufficient proof that everything can be taken from a man but one thing, the last of the human freedoms, to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way". Now, in deepest despair, meaning was nearly as important as food in the day to day lives of these prisoners.  During his time in the camp, Frankl maintained a sense of meaning by imagining that his wife, who had been sent to another concentration camp, was alive. She wasn’t, yet this story is what helped to keep him alive, to give his existence and the prospect of a future a feeling of significance. His story about his life is the only thing that stood between Frankl and suicidal despair. Later, he would come up with a formulation that captured this wisdom; suffering, minus meaning, equals despair.

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Waking from the Trance of Struggle with Mark Matousek

We are pleased to bring you this excerpt from "Waking from the Trance of Struggle" with Mark Matousek.  Learn more about the struggles many people face and how we seem to let it consume us, but how we can come to understand it and succeed without it.

This is a very important topic for many people who feel gripped with a sense that their life is an ongoing struggle, that their in a never-ending competition to be happier or healthier or wiser or more enlightened.  Whatever the aspiration may be. Do you find yourself longing for a simpler life?

That’s the question. The person you are today, right now, in this moment, is already more than enough. That’s what we’re going to be exploring together. Now, we’re addicted to struggle in the same way that we’re addicted to suffering. Though pain is a given, suffering is not, and in the same way, aspiration in our life is a given and is necessary.  But struggle of the kind that I’m describing really is not. This form of struggle which I think of as a toxic struggle is the near enemy of aspiration and achievement.

In Buddhist teaching, there is this notion that every virtue has a near enemy. The near enemy of generosity is being a doormat, then your enemy of patience is complacency, then your enemy of acceptance is resignation and then your enemy of aspiration and achievement is toxic struggle. Now, this form of struggle brings very different results and different choices than aspiration. Aspiration leads to fulfillment and curiosity. It leads to flexibility and a kind of prolific growth when we lean into our aspiration and give it our heart, but toxic struggle leads to diminishing returns. It leads to burnout and bitterness and narrow mindedness, a lot of anger and self-torment. Toxic struggle can also lead to a low grade despair that we carry with us without necessarily knowing where it’s coming from.  But there is a sense of never being there, never having enough, never being sufficient, never being satisfied and never being content or finding ease in our own lives. 

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