A personal approach to Zen

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Fear. Anger. Hate. Suffering.

Fear becomes anger and anger becomes hate and hate becomes suffering; I know this is a Star Wars quote but actually, I found some passages in Star Wars the most practical advice in Zen I ever received. Because you get what they mean and somehow it is philosophy in a fictional format.

I learned it for myself, I loved, I got rejected or disappointed by lovers, friends, employers, or even parents.

The most traumatizing experience was definitely the divorce of my parents and everything that followed this event in my life. I still struggle with the effect of how it shattered my worldview. It took away my basic trust in everything. It took away my feeling to be secure in the world.

Also, losing loved ones and handling loss and death and mourning is a traumatizing event in which the western culture is bad at processing.

And it is true, the fear, the mistrust, and the angst of losing someone; or not being loved, lead to anger.

This anger can appear in the most subtle ways. It can also come out directly and affect all other personal and lesser personal relations to surrounding people.

These actions on the other hand will lead to more anger and eventually become hate.

Indifferent hate at the world and everything that’s connected to it and your own life. The hate can be subtle and you feel like you’re or were a lovable person once, but now you don’t know where life had led you.

And then begins the suffering. It is terrible and it all becomes a circle, a circle where you don’t find an easy way out because it all got created by you, and also it became a habit to act or react wildly, in anger, in pain, in agony.

So, how to overcome this painful downward spiral of negative feelings that are not only making you miserable and others too but in the end will make you physically ill?

I found the proclaimed meditation method of loving/kindness meditation very helpful. It’s described and adverted from Tara Brach and Jack Kornfield and others and it is very, very simple.

You sit and think of others or you even sit and observe others, maybe even strangers and you wish them a loving life and you wish for them to be happy.

Here! Listen; I think; I wish you a good and happy life, health, wealth, well being. I wish you loved ones who make you feel loved. I wish you security and the feeling to be safe in the world.

Do this, simple to your wife and your kids and everyone you love and wish to be loved and do it unconditionally. Most importantly, do it for others that mistreated you. People from who you think of that they got you wrong. Even for people that you don’t like. Even for people that you hate.

You will experience some change in your life and you will receive immediately a gift from yourself, from your body, and what we might call soul. It will feel like a cleansing. It will feel like there is a chance to let go of all negativity. It will give you hope for the day.

It will improve your day.

So, do it in the morning.

About purpose in life

Why does purpose diminish over the years or was it ever there?

In the early years of life, you try to get an idea of what’s this all about.

You try to learn from the elder ones and try to get some insights out of them.

Later you learn they had no idea and just said something that you at worst misinterpreted on top.

Then you try to make it better.

After some years, being an adult for myself and having kids I’m still looking for a purpose in life and I’m afraid I might not find it.

Where is a purpose to be found?

Some search for it in business and try to reach materialistic goals, some are looking for spiritual meaning in life others do care much about family. Some mix it up and others do sport.

Why is it even important for me to define it or why do I think I have to find out what’s my role here, why the hell am I on earth, and are allowed to spend the resources?

Over the years, after studying a lot and trying very different jobs. I was literally a mechanic, an actor, a painter, a student of comparative literature, a marketer, a father, a husband, a sportsman, and a drinker, a friend and an enemy for some I guess.

But I still didn’t find a ‚calling‘. And if there is one, I didn’t go down this path.
Now, in the midst of my forties, I have to arrange myself with the conclusion that I might never find it and what to do with that feeling. Is it a loss? Should I let go of this search?

Maybe. Some seem to be so grounded and know what they are doing and where they belong.

Others are geniuses and innovators and help mankind with their findings. This will certainly never happen to me in this life, that I was ever clear about.

But still, I want my life not to be wasted, still, I want to give it some meaning. Ok, trying to be a good father and leading my kids into a reasonable life is a great challenge. But how can I do that when I still have more questions on life than answers.

Trying to be a good person and love the ones around me sounds also not false. But it isn’t always the case that I love everybody, many times I’m angry and I can’t hide it. The anger arises and plops out and people around me definitely don’t feel loved and I’m not a loving person in such moments.

Sometimes I feel after calming down it’s just about getting to the point that I enjoy those years living on earth and there’s nothing more to do. And if being honest to myself I didn’t do a good job here. I often lived on autopilot, missing the moments that could fill up my heart with joy.

Instead of thinking about the past or future or dreaming myself away to some parallel universes instead of just being in that moments.
Certainly, finding a purpose is a first-world problem and I’m aware that I might be just happy about the fact that I never felt hungry before.

Still, there is this envy in me to those who seem to have found something and the longing to find it for myself.

About starting to meditate

The hardest thing to me is the thing about meditation. What’s it for and what do I get from it? Will there be a state of mind where I glide away from reality and find myself in another dimension where I feel the energy and everything is connected? Or will there be the peace of mind? Happiness? Many promises are given when you start to meditate. There even shall be even medical advantages be seen in those who meditate.

How shall I meditate? There are so many options. There is this vipassana thing, there is the transcendental meditation method. There are a thousand variants. When I read the books from the monks who are teaching meditation they are always talking about endless meditations. I don’t have time for that. I also don’t want to get a meditation class or a teacher as I don’t live in a region where some good ones or those who I read about are available.

So, I start out to make my own experiences. First, trying to just sit still for a few minutes, without expectations and trying to not actively think about something.

Woah, this appears to be a hard task and I realize my mind is not stoppable.

I always knew, or better, learned over the last decades that the monkey mind can be a pain in the ass. Especially at night. You lie in bed and it goes round and round, variants of your youth memories, mixed emotions about forgotten friends, e-mails written in my mind, books written in my mind, philosophical questions answered and raised. Personal issues argued with close ones, dreams about a better future, dreams about a worse future, fear of the future, be afraid for my kids. All in one night. The dreams themselves while you’re asleep are something else.

How eliminate the monkey mind? It simply doesn’t work for me. So, I accept its existence and I try to ignore it from time to time. This is my mediation now.
Trying to sit in silence; doesn’t have to be completely silent around me, but I’ve to be silent. Trying to hear the silence of the universe. For at least two minutes.
What happens? I feel slightly better afterward.

That’s a start.

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