Once you learn this simple strategy from Alan Watts, you’ll never doubt yourself again

Everyone questions themselves and experiences self-doubt at some point in their lives. For some of us, it happens regularly.
That’s why this video from Alan Watts on how we can improve our decision making ability is brilliant.
He clearly explains what decisions are and how you can practice developing your intuition so you become more sure of yourself.
As Watts says, it’s impossible to really know where your decisions come from. They emerge like hiccups.
Yet people experience a lot of anxiety over the porcess of making decisions.
They ask whether they’ve considered all of the available information. Yet when you think about it, you can never have all of the available information as there is an infinite amount of information available.
You end up going through the motions of figuring things out, but you worry about all of the variables that are beyond your control.
Watts refers to this as mental wobbling, the state of always being in doubt about the right way to behave. It shows a lack of self confidence and you end up making mistakes through sheer fumbling.
The point is this:
If you have self confidence you’ll often get away with doing the wrong things. The way to practice having self confidence is to regard yourself as a cloud in the flesh. Clouds never make mistakes. Have you ever seen an imperfect cloud?
Treat yourself as a cloud and realize that you can’t make a mistake, no matter what you do. This way you’ll develop your self confidence even when making what you previously referred to as mistakes.
And through developing your self confidence, you’ll learn to trust in your intuition.
This is how you end up on good terms with your own being.
If you said yes, then Alan Watts has some epic advice for you in this amazing video:

source and courtesy: thepowerofideas

Zen philosopher explains why “don’t worry, be happy” is toxic advice

Have you ever been told to “don’t worry, be happy” and your problems will just go away?
Here’s how the idea usually goes:
When you’re not happy, or when you’re not satisfied, or even when you’re depressed, you can make the decision to be happy instead. You have the choice to be happy or sad – and, given the fact that you only have limited time in this life, which one do you want to pick? Happy, of course.
So, “always choose to be happy.”
Happiness seems to be the ultimate goal in life for just about everyone. Self help gurus have sprung up all over the place telling you to think positive, pursue your passion and set goals so that you can become more happy.
The problem with the relentless pursuit of happiness is that making it your top priority can actually be to your detriment.
The influential author and Zen philosopher Alan Watts explains the downside of trying too hard to be happy with the ideas of “the law of reversed effort”, or the “backwards law”.
Watts explains it as the notion that in all sorts of contexts, from our personal lives to politics, all this trying to make everything right is a big part of what’s wrong. We’ve shared 11 quotes from Watts below which suggest that the harder we try with the conscious will to do something, the less we shall succeed.
Before getting to the 11 quotes by Watts, here’s a brilliant passage by Oliver Burkeman about the downside of trying too hard to find happiness, from his book The Antidote: Happiness For People Who Can’t Stand Positive Thinking.
“The startling conclusion at which they had all arrived, in different ways, was this: that the effort to try to feel happy is often precisely the thing that makes us miserable. And that it is our constant efforts to eliminate the negative – insecurity, uncertainty, failure, or sadness – that is what causes us to feel so insecure, anxious, uncertain, or unhappy. They didn’t see this conclusion as depressing, though. Instead, they argued that it pointed to an alternative approach, a ‘negative path’ to happiness, that entailed taking a radically different stance towards those things that most of us spend our lives trying hard to avoid. It involved learning to enjoy uncertainty, embracing insecurity, stopping trying to think positively, becoming familiar with failure, even learning to value death. In short, all these people seemed to agree that in order to be truly happy, we might actually need to be willing to experience more negative emotions – or, at the very least, to learn to stop running quite so hard from them.”
The key point is this:
Life ends up giving you balance whether you want it or not. The happy times never last forever. No one gets everything they want.
You need to accept failure and sadness on occasion in order to be able to enjoy the successes and happier times.
Here’s 11 quotes by Watts.
  1. “Man suffers only because he takes seriously what the gods made for fun.” – Alan Watts.
  2. “Muddy water is best cleared by leaving it alone.” – Alan Watts.
  3. “To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don’t grab hold of the water, because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead you relax, and float.” – Alan Watts.
  4. “The more a thing tends to be permanent, the more it tends to be lifeless.” – Alan Watts.
  5. “Things are as they are. Looking out into the universe at night, we make no comparisons between right and wrong stars, nor between well and badly arranged constellations.” – Alan Watts.
  6. “No one is more dangerously insane than one who is sane all the time: he is like a steel bridge without flexibility, and the order of his life is rigid and brittle.” – Alan Watts.
  7. “We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree.” – Alan Watts.
  8. “Without birth and death, and without the perpetual transmutation of all the forms of life, the world would be static, rhythm-less, undancing, mummified.” – Alan Watts.
  9. “Only words and conventions can isolate us from the entirely undefinable something which is everything.” – Alan Watts.
  10. “…tomorrow and plans for tomorrow can have no significance at all unless you are in full contact with the reality of the present, since it is in the present and only in the present that you live.” – Alan Watts.
  11. “Problems that remain persistently insoluble should always be suspected as questions asked in the wrong way” – Alan Watts.
For a similar perspective about positive thinking being terrible advice, check out this article: 

source and courtesy: thepowerofideas.ideapod

7 Difficult (But Simple) Buddhist Habits That Will Change Your Life

There’s a reason why Buddhist monks seem so peaceful all the time: they follow certain rules of living we don’t.
Their whole philosophy revolves around the idea of reducing suffering. That philosophy may seem alien to you and nearly impossible, but the truth is it leads to higher happiness.
These rules will benefit you for the rest of your life.

Simplify

Buddha wasn’t born an ascetic! He was actually born a prince. He had every opportunity to accumulate as much ‘stuff’ as he wanted. But he didn’t. Instead, he saw through the vain attempts of materialistic fulfillment and decided there had to be some other answer.
More to the point: happiness comes from within, so why seek it outside of ourselves? With this principle in mind, he sought to let go of everything that was unnecessary and embrace a deeper reality. This is the basis of simplicity.

Give

When you can develop a selfless attitude, you focus less on your personal problems. You get less emotional about small things and your mind becomes calmer. Recognizing that being more selfless towards others brings deeper happiness is one of the pillars of spiritual life; it’s also just common sense. When we help others we find a deeper satisfaction.

Meditate

Scientifically speaking, we know that meditation changes the brain. Not only that, but it changes our very nature. Buddha knew firsthand that meditation was a powerful tool because that was his stepping stone for enlightenment. Obviously, you probably don’t have the time to meditate for hours every day, but even just 30 minutes will change your life.

Follow the Wise

Listen to seniors and those with more experience. This is the path of the wise. If you look around, there are always insightful people to learn from. Older people have more experience which means they can offer countless life lessons.

Accept Mindfulness as a Way of Life

It’s naturally very easy to judge others. After all, it’s part of our makeup to look at others and size them up. It’s our primitive brain analyzing threats and assessing the world around us. But that’s not always helpful, and sometimes leads us to look at someone the wrong way. What’s wonderful about mindfulness is that it’s judgment-free. The main goal of mindful communication is to take in everything that someone is saying without evaluating it.

Embrace Change

Every morning we wake up and look in the mirror. We identify that person as ‘us’. We grow attached to this perception — with our body and personality. When it changes with disease, old age, or accidents, we suffer.
This is true of our friends and family as well. Everything changes, it’s the fundamental law of the universe. When we actually understand this and embrace it, peace flows easily and without expectations.

Live in the Moment

Our minds do this funny thing where they try and live in the past or in the future, rehashing old conversations and scenarios over and over again. But this just isn’t reality. Life doesn’t happen between your ears, it happens in the NOW.
source and courtesy: sivanaspirit

Looking for happiness? A Buddhist Master has a message that you need to hear

Ever wondered what happiness actually is?
Most of us correlate it to a bigger bank account, a nicer home, or a better job. Others might say it’s a joyful feeling.
However, Buddhist philosophy says that happiness has nothing to do with any of these things.
For starters, material things can’t satisfy your emotional needs. Buddhist say that relying on material items to make us happy causes us to get lost in a loop of desiring.
Why? Because the joy of these material objects generally don’t last very long and you’ll be back in the process of desiring again.
And to define happiness as an emotion is fraught with danger because emotions are fleeting. They don’t last forever. And constantly searching for that good feeling constantly will eventually make you unhappy.
So, how do we actually become happy? Read on to find out what master Buddhist Thich Nhat Hanh says about the secret to happiness…

Our ideas of happiness are hurting us, according to a Master Buddhist

First of all, Thich Nhat Hanh says our current ideas of happiness are actually hurting us:
“Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace….Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.”
Having these “ideas of happiness” means we’re always looking to the future for something better, according to Thich Nhat Hanh. He says that this is one of the most significant mental habits that we need to be aware of:
“We have negative mental habits that come up over and over again. One of the most significant negative habits we should be aware of is that of constantly allowing our mind to run off into the future. Perhaps we got this from our parents. Carried away by our worries, we’re unable to live fully and happily in the present. Deep down, we believe we can’t really be happy just yet—that we still have a few more boxes to be checked off before we can really enjoy life. We speculate, dream, strategize, and plan for these “conditions of happiness” we want to have in the future; and we continually chase after that future, even while we sleep. We may have fears about the future because we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, and these worries and anxieties keep us from enjoying being here now.”

So, what is the secret to happiness?

Thich Nhat Hanh says that true happiness comes from letting go of attachments and preconceived ideas to the way things should be. Why? Because if we can aren’t constrained by these expectations, we can embrace life as it is and live in the present moment (which is the only place that happiness can be found):
“It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more….”
Thich Nhat Hanh also says that letting go is crucial to experience freedom, which in turns gives us peace and happiness:
“Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go. Please sit down and take an inventory of your life. There are things you’ve been hanging on to that really are not useful and deprive you of your freedom. Find the courage to let them go.”
However, you might think that we should avoid suffering at all costs. But according to Thich Nhat Hanh, without suffering, we can’t have happiness:
“Most people are afraid of suffering. But suffering is a kind of mud to help the lotus flower of happiness grow. There can be no lotus flower without the mud.”

How David Bowie Almost Became A Buddhist Monk

“I was within a month of having my head shaved, taking my vows, and becoming a monk,” Bowie said about this period of his life.
The year was 1967. David Bowie was 20.
Young David Jones (David Bowie’s real name) was 13 when he developed an interest in Buddhism after reading “The Rampa Story” by T. Lobsang Rampa. Over the next four years, his interest in Buddhism and Tibet grew until he was visiting the Tibet House in London up to four times a week.
But the man in the saffron robes, Chime Yong Dong Rinpoche, became Jones’ guru for several months.
Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche, a Tibetan monk who had fled Chinese oppression, was at Samye Ling Monastery in Scotland. His fame and that of Buddhism was beginning rising on that side of the Atlantic, attracting a new generation of western seekers. David Bowie had started coming around Samye Ling monastery with his friend and collaborator, Tony Visconti (who had just worked on Bowie’s song, Blackstar), as well as that of Bowie’s girlfriend at the time, Hermione Farthingale.
While he didn’t become a monk, Bowie did in fact study for a short time with Tibetan Buddhist teacher Lama Chime Rinpoche, who remembers him fondly in a video below. Without a doubt, Lama Chime Rinpoche and the singer were close.
Bowie’s 1967 song “Silly Boy Blue,” one of his first originals, was a tribute to Lama Chime Rinpoche.
In the song’s intro from the ’01 Tibet House performance, Bowie recalls “stumbling into the Buddhist Society in London when I was about 17, and sitting in front of me at the desk was a Tibetan lama” who would become “my friend, and a teacher for quite some time. […] This was ’65, ’66. Right about that time, I wrote this next song. ”


Lama Chime Rinpoche issued a video of remembrance and prayers for David Bowie.

“I can not express in words,” he says. “I am so sad.” Rinpoche goes on to tell of meeting Bowie in 1965 — a story Bowie told his version of in 2001 at Tibet House — and also of knowing Bowie’s producer and collaborator, Tony Visconti. Then, before issuing prayers, Rinpoche says, “I’ll meet him again in the next life.”
source and courtesy:sivanaspirit

Sexual Desire, By The Dalai Lama

Q: In the West
it is thought that desire, especially sexual desire, is a problem because it is largely unconscious. It is also thought that denial and absten­tion only changes the form of desire. How does Buddhism ap­proach the Unconscious?

Dalai Lama

‘Conscious level’, ‘semiconscious level’, ‘uncon­scious level’ — these are terms used by Western psychologists. Anyway, as you know, in all matters there are limits; it is as well to realize those limits. I think there are two major factors which contribute to our experience of sexual desire — one is the structure of our bodies and the elements within our bodies, and the other is the level of our minds — delusion.

It is, I think, very important to take notice of sexual desire. If you aren’t concerned, or if you don’t have some kind of self-discipline, it very often leads to disaster — family quarrels, children suffering, and also, now, this new phenomenon — AIDS. The Tibetan medical system speaks of seven major centres of energy within the body. Over sexuality reduces that energy, and the immune system becomes less effective. ‘New visitors’ then become powerful. So, now, even this point of view is worth having in order to bring us to some kind of self-discipline.

For laymen, family life should, of course, be lived in the normal way — that is important; but unlimited, over-sexual desire is not good. In the monk’s practice, there are two ways of tackling this problem. One way is less food — the monk does not have food in the evening or in the afternoon — he fasts. That is a way of reducing the physical condition; it is the middle way — not too much hunger, not too much food, especially food in the evening. (The Buddha made the rule that monks should not have an evening meal.) So that is on the physical side.

Then, on the desire side we shall see, if we analyse it, that attachment develops owing to seeing something beautiful — beautiful colour, beautiful shape, beautiful hair, nose, eyes, mouth — it is like that, isn’t it? Now, there are two types of love and compassion and one type is conditioned — ‘beautiful face, beautiful body, beautiful sound,’ — that kind of love is greatly conditioned. As soon as these conditions disap­pear, then no more love! So, a few days of great happiness — kissing and cuddling — just a few days — then, no more! It is over because of too much conditioning, which is a result of ignorance. That is not sound love or compassion.

The other type of love and compassion arises when one realizes that others are human beings, sentient beings ‘just like me’, who do not want suffering, who want happiness. And, on that basis, some kind of love, respect and deep understanding comes into being. So long as that kind of realization remains then that love and altruism remains, doesn’t it?

The usual sexual love and desire is the conditioned type. In this respect there are thirty-seven points of practice. The first four are related to mindfulness of the body. Because of ignorance, because of desire, we become blind; we cannot see the ugliness, the nature of rottenness (impurity) of the body. If we analyse skin, these small hairs [on the arm], blood, muscles, bones, there is nothing beautiful about them, is there? But, you see, because of blind­ness, because of the influence of negative thought, we con­sider these things to be very beautiful, very dear.

So, the way to control the emotional side is to reduce the intake of food, limit it. Also to limit the clothes we wear: be modest — that is another factor towards reducing physical and mental conditions. When these two efforts combine, then a healthy self-discipline develops — that is the sense of sila, the sense of morality, for monks. Of course, limited sex for laymen is okay, very good, very happy! But it should be realized that there are limits and to go beyond those limits brings dis­aster.

source and courtesy: buddhismnow

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