Zen Professor

A Path to a More Fulfilling Life

Tag: no thought (page 1 of 2)

Forgiveness Is Key to Letting Go of Pain

The other day the phrase to error is human, to forgive is divine came to mind. Indeed, everyone makes mistakes. But only those who are ready and able to let go of the pain are able to forgive. Forgiveness is a Divine act. And we must get the ego out of the way in order to truly do it. But we can use the ego itself to be free of it. This is where the phrase fake it till you make it comes in.

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Notice Perceptions to Eliminate Judgment

I remember reading something about how people become kindred spirits when they feel empowered by you. Once, a friend described feeling that way from talking to me. She suggested it was because she felt as though I did not judge her. And I never did judge her. I decided I would tap into the reason and make it part of my daily experience. Not that I viewed myself as a judgmental person. I did not. However, it is easy to find ourselves questioning choices people make in very subtle ways, such as what they are wearing, or the things that they say or do. However, I don’t recall there being even a trace of judgement with my friend.

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4 Keys to Attract What You Want

We are co-creators of our reality. In the following paragraphs, I have provided examples of how to use 4 Key actions to attract a life we want. Believing in possibilities, focusing attention on what we want, choosing our words wisely, and visualizing what we want are important aspects of co-creating.

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When the Student is Ready, the Teacher Will Appear

There are many times our teacher appears in the most unexpected ways. It is up to us, as the student, to be ready to learn when that occurs. When we are open to gain new insight, there are no limits to our potential for personal growth, as we will be in a place to transcend the limiting nature of the ego.

Years ago, when I was in the middle of teaching a class, I looked over and noticed a student (I will call “Laura”) wasn’t doing anything, so I asked her to get started on her work. She immediately threw her hands in the air, threw her head back, and took on a contorted facial expression that seemed to scream, “Not again!”

I took offense to it and said, “Never mind. You can get your stuff together and go to the office instead.”

Laura replied, “It’s okay, I’m getting to work.”

She actually conceded and yet my response was, “I’m not changing what I said.”

I worked hard at maintaining my composure as Laura stormed out of the room saying, “Sorry for offending you by raising my hands in the air,” in a very sarcastic tone.

Our Thoughts Create Our Experience

Upon reflection, I could see how I may have created the entire confrontation. As I was preparing to talk to Laura the thought occurred to me, Here we go again, still not working! In spite of the thought I was certain I did not project the frustration in my voice. However, Laura seemed to pick up on my feelings as her physical reaction expressed exactly what I was thinking, and the look on her face seemed to say, “What again?”

Next, after she conceded, I could have accepted it and ended the entire episode diplomatically. However, I was thinking, I must set an example for the entire class. I cannot have students acting so blatantly disrespectful in my classroom. Then, the student seemed to act on that thought as well. By storming out of the room and making the sarcastic “apology,” she seemed to be saying, “Well, if I have to go down I am bringing the teacher with me!” And in a sense, she did just that. By muttering her words on the way out she may have instilled a little doubt in the minds of the other students. They might then have thoughts such as, Did the teacher go too far? Or, he sure is being overly sensitive!

I had a strong impulse to explain the entire process to the students and turn it into a class discussion about how we might influence others. That way I could explain myself in case there were some doubters. However, I chose to say nothing. After contemplating the decision later, I realized I might have used the situation, and the doubt, to my advantage. Indeed, if the students were thinking I was being overly sensitive they may also have been thinking, Man I don’t want to mess up in this class! He will just kick me out.

It is Human Nature to Test Limits

This line of reasoning is why teachers often use specific consequences, such as removing disruptive students. It tends to set an example for others. Those teachers who have a higher tolerance for disruptive behavior are sure to cause themselves more grief in the future. It seems to be human nature to test limits. We do this from the time we are very young as a means of learning and gaining understanding of our environment, as any parent has observed. Students commonly test the boundaries of teachers, and those who fail to set clear expectations and do not follow through with consequences will quickly lose control of the class. As a result, very little learning can take place.

The next period I decided to go out of my way and insure this class would go better. I went to the door and shook hands with all the students as they entered the room, as a means of making a connection. And indeed, the 7th period class was much more focused and well behaved than the previous day. Not that they were out of control the day before, but they certainly were not as productive as I would have liked. On this day however, they were all quiet and focused on the lesson throughout the entire period.

At the end of the day I contemplated both classes and how the events of the one may have influenced the experience of the other. Had my decision to shake the hands of the students upon entering made that big of difference? Suddenly, it occurred to me the difference in classes may have come from shaking hands and making a connection with each of them, or it might have been because word got out after I kicked the student out of the previous class. In my experience as a teacher, that certainly has happened. Teachers develop a reputation for how much they will tolerate and students act accordingly. Two students are in both 6th and 7th period. It is possible, even likely, they talked to other students between periods and the entire class was being especially careful that day.

We Have Influence on Our Environment

I wasn’t sure whether the change in behavior had to do with making connections or from fear of being the next “victim,” but I suspected it was likely a combination of the two. Irrespective of the motive of the students, the entire experience was a powerful reminder of how much influence we have on our environment. The behavior from this particular student was out of character. Oftentimes she failed to work without reminders, but she never had reacted so vehemently to my promptings. I thought to myself, It was as if she was reading my mind!

Before leaving school that day I opened an email from a current student and immediately forgot all about what had occurred in class that day. The email reminded me of a previous experience and elicited a powerful emotional response. I felt extremely agitated as memories arose of another student (I will call Andy) who was also on an individual educational plan, or I.E.P. The memory was vivid. I had been working with Andy for several months. At the end of the semester Andy’s father emailed the principal, claiming that I was not following the I.E.P established by the school. This action alone annoyed me, as I wondered why the parent had not contacted me first about the issue.

Although it stated on the plan that the student was responsible to take the initiative in speaking to the teacher, he had failed to do so. However, the parent felt the student’s needs were not being met. The principal sided with the parent and told me he was going to make a note of it on my yearly evaluation. I felt unsupported by the principal and backstabbed by the parent. It had been a difficult memory to let go of. Based on the feelings I was having in association with the memory of the event, I had yet to let it go completely.

Experiences Will Be Provided to Shed Ego

Then other memories came to mind, causing the emotional reaction to grow; too many parents making too many excuses for their children’s behavior. None of these memories had anything to do with the student who sent the email and I knew it. Obviously, however, the body didn’t know it because it reacted to the mind combining the experiences and created a powerful physical reaction as a result. In this situation, the mind took previous information, attached it to the agitated feeling, and connected it with the new student, and voila, a new judgment was formed. I realized immediately I was now judging this student based on the previous experiences.

If we react to an emotion before giving ourselves a chance to process it, we tend to misinterpret it and believe it is coming from the present moment. However, if we can notice the feeling before the mind gets involved, stay with it while it courses through our body, and keep the mind from becoming engaged, then we can trace the feeling back to the memory that created it. I was experiencing exactly that, and there I was, using the information to avoid displacing previously experienced emotions to the student who was currently emailing me.

By taking on this practice, we can eliminate judgment all together. It is not as difficult as one might think. There is a definite moment during the emotional episode in which a memory appears. All we must do is observe the feeling long enough to “see” this memory. Once discovered, the energy that arises with the memory can be released. After being fully released, it is gone forever and can never again influence the individual’s actions in the same way. This is true liberation. The more we process the pent up emotions the more we can release them. In turn, the more energy we free up to experience the now.

A Student of Life Sees Beyond the Ego

The entire experience reminded me of a story I heard about a student named Irene who gave a boy a bloody nose. There were two staff members present when the event occurred, a teacher and a playground supervisor. The teacher looked at the supervisor and said, “You take care of the bloody nose and I will take care of Irene.”

As the supervisor looked on, the teacher took Irene’s hands lovingly in hers and said, “Are you alright?”

Irene’s hard expression disappeared and tears welled up in her eyes. She was unaccustomed to being shown that kind of unconditional love.

Irene went through an incredible transformation that day. She began helping other children to communicate in loving ways, whereas before, she had been filled with anger and either acted in a mode of attack or defense. At the time, I thought to himself, It is my intention to remember this story and see people as emotionally hurting rather than see them as bad.

On that day I was the student, and the teacher did appear, in the form of a high school girl. From that day forward I have viewed others differently. I now see that everyone is doing the best they can given the experience they have had. In turn, I see beyond the ego in others and into their authentic self, the one who wants connection and love. Everyone wants that. It is up to us to look beyond the egoic behavior and love the being inside.

For more information, see the Zen Bookstore.

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Our Purpose is to Experience Life

If we were to ask the Universe, “What purpose would you have me serve?” the answer would be simple. The Universe would say, “Pay attention to life so I can experience it through you.” In the absence of the ego and judgment, that’s exactly what would happen. Universal Consciousness, or Christ Consciousness, is allowed to experience life through our senses when we come from the place of the authentic self. This is why many spiritual teachers explain that we are not the doer. Once the psychological self is recognized and released, there is no self doing anything. There is only present moment awareness acting out of the place of awakened consciousness. Life then experiences Itself through you. Continue reading

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Finding Peace in Everyday Life

“The expansive energy that is there in everyone, was, in that moment, free, and in the stillness of the mind I felt that expansive energy as it flowed through me. ”

Presence of Mind and Body

Presence is where we find the deeper self, or authentic self, the one who is aware of the thoughts and emotions. Some refer to it as the witness. When we are the witness of our thoughts and emotions we are free to act independent of them. In a sense, this is what is meant by liberation, as we become liberated from the past/future thinking mind, which tends to regret past mistakes, and/or worry about future possibilities, both of which bring emotional suffering into the now. When we are in this particular frame of mind, we are actually not present. Instead, we are living in the past, which doesn’t exist, or living in the future, which has yet to take place. Many of the past philosophical teachings, by Confucius, Socrates, Buddha, Christ, and more, are centered on escaping the limiting beliefs of the ego and living in the present moment, which is all there really is. This is what is meant by Christ Intelligence, or Buddha nature.

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The Ego Separates Us from Our Source

“It is the ego that causes us to perceive separateness and the stronger the ego, the more separation there is between source energy and us.”

Once a friend sent me a text that said everything happens for a reason. I sent a text back that stated we are not always privy to that reason. The very next thing I read was this: “Chaos, then, is just a point of view. Things that appear random to a limited awareness fit into place perfectly when awareness is expanded.” This quote by Deepak Chopra points to the importance of expanding awareness to see the harmony in all things. The alternative is to allow the ego to convince us that separation is the rule, rather than the connectedness that runs deeper and remains hidden to the untrained eye.

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Freedom From Thinking

“Awareness trumps thoughts because you can always be aware of your thoughts.”

This quote by Jon Kabat-Zinn may be one of the most profound yet simplest concepts I have ever heard. It points to the authentic self in us all. The thoughts and emotions are not the authentic self. They are the psychological self, created through a life of meaning making experiences. The authentic self is the one who is aware of those experiences and the thoughts and emotions that remind us of them.

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Mindfulness to Eliminate Stress

Mindfulness is not a new topic. The idea has been around for thousands of years. However, it is new to the psychological literature. Still, terms relating to mindfulness have been thrown around for years, such as emotion and attention regulation, cognitive reframing, emotion approach coping, etc. However, many of the psychological terms come with connotations of control, whereas, mindfulness typical connotes acceptance. In short, it is non-judgmental awareness. In other words, being mindful is what allows us to experience the authentic self, rather than come from the place of the psychologically conditioned past, otherwise known as the ego.

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The Science of Creating Our Own Reality

How important is our perspective when it comes to how we experience the world and all its happenings? How much control over our environment do we have? Do we create our own reality? In order to answer these questions, lets have a look at some of the overarching ideas in science, and how they seem to support the suggestion that we have more say in our everyday reality than we choose to believe.

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