This Guy Ate An Avocado…And You Won’t Believe What Happened Next!

Some time in the last century a friend of mine offered me some of her avocado.

No, thanks, I said. I don’t really like them.

Her eyes grew wide. How can that be? she asked. They’re so good.

I don’t get why people make such a big deal about them, I said. They’re bland. They don’t taste like anything. There’s nothing special about them.

But how can you not love that light, creamy, green taste? she pressed. It’s so rich and delicate at the same time.

She handed me the avocado and a spoon. Go ahead, she said. Try it again.

I didn’t hate avocados. They didn’t disgust me. And she seemed really sincere. So I thought, What the hell? And tried it.

And the windows were opened and the light came in.

Sun in clouds framed

Of course there was a light rich, creamy flavor somehow deep and delicate at the same time. But it wasn’t new. It had always been there.

It was the taste of an avocado – and I had tasted it before. I’d always known it. But I’d been looking for something else, something more obvious. Maybe something sweet or sour or salty, something intense.The avocado was none of these things, but it was extraordinary as it was. I just had to see that, and take it as it was. There was nothing extra needed – it was there all along.

It makes some people nuts when you say they’re perfect as they are. They feel pretty shitty a lot of the time, and they’re 20 pounds overweight, or they can’t stop smoking, or they’ll never finish that novel, or whatever the fuck it is. They can’t get their shit together. So when you tell them they’re perfect it seems idiotic, it sounds like bullshit.

Because they aren’t what they want to be, or what they hoped they would be, and time is running out!
 
And there’s no getting around it: life is a litany of disappointments. You lose everything you love, and you die at the end.

 True story.

Dream seat framed


And Death is so scary! It’s awful. Death is Darth Vader. Death destroys worlds. Everything frightening is frightening because it threatens us with death, even when we don’t see it that way. Even if we say we’re afraid of losing our job, or losing our wife, or losing our minds, it’s all death. It’s the loss of ourselves.

Because everything threatens us. Life is a stranger’s sojourn, and we’re never at rest. To be alive is to be uncomfortable, and to be imperilled. When we’re lonely we long for love, and if we find love we’re afraid to lose it. And often we do lose it, despite our best efforts or, worse, as a result of our best efforts, because our best efforts were not what the beloved wanted.

And other people are always happier than we are, or better looking, or they have more money.

So, you know, when you tell some people they’re perfect the way they are, they just think you’re mocking them, or that you’re full of shit.


But, regardless, each of us is perfect and pristine, an unfolding miracle, exactly as we are.

The problem is that our consciousness, the faculty that makes us so successful, that thrust us into unfettered dominion over the beasts of the earth and the fish of the sea, and endowed us with the vision and the tools to create the Alphabet, the Electric Light, and Two and a Half Men, has brought with it this illusion of a Self that is separate from the rest of the universe, that travels through it and is threatened by it.

And because this Self is so small compared to all that is, because deep inside we know that we die at the end, we have to spend our short lives propping up and defending this illusory ghost. William Mortensen - Creature

But it never ends. It’s never good enough. It can never be good enough. And we see everything from the inside, from the ghost’s point of view, from the grave.

And the world doesn’t care, and it doesn’t help us. It doesn’t take us seriously. It keeps throwing shit at us, and taking our stuff away. We can’t keep anything, and nothing works for long. To protect ourselves we have to fix everything. If we can just organize our shit we’ll be okay.

Because we’re never satisfied, the world is wrong. We need to fix it, to fix it, to fix it.


Take a second, right now. Just stop, and take a breath, and feel the breath within your body. Cool through your nostrils and throat, gently swelling through your torso, warm and full in your belly.


You will have felt some part of that. Even if you are racked by suffering and sorrow, there is some part within you that is at peace.

How can you reach it?

You can breathe again, and watch the breath, and feel it spread through your body.

You can rest for a  moment, for the span of a breath, just a few seconds. Feel the tingling in your toes or the top of your head, feel the warm luxuriant suchness of your torso, your belly, your chest. It’s just there – it just is. Feel how you are. Don’t back away.

You can let the pain go – there will be time for it later.

Don’t neglect the simple pleasure of being, the simple peace of being. Don’t neglect the miraculous fact that you are here, and that the time is now.

Do you see? It’s right here in front of you. Everything you’re looking for.

 

Look closer…

 

Do you see?

 

This guest contribution was by Chris Logan.  Chris is a long-time Dharma practitioner who writes about culture, ethics, and wisdom in Victoria, British Columbia.
His favorite color is blue.
His favorite berry is black.
Read more of his works at www.chrislogan.ca

If you enjoyed this, please sign up to our newsletter.  As a bonus, you’ll get our free ebook, The Dharma on Accomplishing Anything, to help you in your path to excellence!

 

 

Learning to Accept Injury

Image from https://www.flickr.com/photos/hotnacho/1369952540/

Last year, (November 11th 2014, to be exact) while bending over to pet my cat, I felt a sudden “oh sh%#” moment, as my L5 disc bulged, my right SI joint locked up, and my right psoas muscle pulled and seized in a moment of dimension shifting pain.  If my friend Dan wasn’t in the room, I would have cried.

Funny moment in retrospect: frozen in stationary position in my hallway, bent at the waist, petting my cat as he purred and stared at me.  I stood there for a few seconds, contemplating how to take the next step.  This moment left me immediately unable to walk, stand straight, or sit down without being in deep pain.  Now, this pain, and the resulting injury is nothing in comparison to others I have had which left me disabled for both months and years… but it was enough to remind me of the following important lessons: Continue reading

How I stopped incorporating Dharma, and left my dreams behind.

Dawn dust grass

 

This post is a little different. It’s more of a rant, an honest expression on how I thought I failed, and what I have created to bring myself back from that mindset. I hope this contributes some value to you, and that you can use the system for your own benefit.

There was a time, months ago, where I was fervently moving towards everything I wanted in life. I was dating a beautiful, intelligent, and motivated woman, with the thought that I would one day have a family to nest with.

I was always pushing my career further, moving into new areas in which I had no experience, but wanted to take on and grow into.

I exercised daily, and pushed my martial arts skills to new levels, motivated by the satisfaction of better, faster, and stronger movements.

I wrote for this blog almost daily, with notebooks and post it notes full of ideas to be one day incorporated as insightful posts and chapters for our upcoming book, Dharma in Every Wave.

I read books on leadership and communication, using the lessons, tips, strategies and systems in my career, personal relationships, and day-to-day interactions with strangers.

I meditated daily, a half hour in the morning on waking, and a half hour before bed. This brought peace and ease to my life in immeasurable ways.

Then one day, in March of 2014, I suddenly lost all my motivation for most things I was working towards. I lost my vision of what I wanted my life to look like. Things were automatic and built in, but I did not remember why I was doing all these things.

I forgot the essence of my life, and what was important to me.

Continue reading

Let it go.

Let go

“Do not pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a difficult one” – Bruce Lee

In our multifaceted, complex lives, sometimes things can be difficult.  We travel for work, spending long days away from home. Our bodies become sick. We argue with loved ones. We end up jobless at a time when money is needed most. We are judged by those that don’t understand the actions we take.

Someone close to us leaves us behind.

We then cry out that these things shouldn’t happen; they should not be the way they are.  We decide that things, life, and events are unjust and unfair.   We label them, judging them as bad or good, instead of accepting the ways things are: neither good, neither bad, just there.

The weather is never bad, it’s just weather.

In this way of resisting what is, we add lots of negativity, anxiety, and frustration. Often times, we spend more energy criticizing how terrible things are than what what is done in the first place! How many times have we recounted to friends and family about the terrible driver that cut us off that day? The unfair cost increase in our power bill? The store ran out of bananas?

This way of carrying things around with us, past the event itself, is well recounted in a story of two monks. Continue reading

Impermanence Revisited in Poetry

25435_382547132750_501677750_4307582_1649071_n-1

With impending sleep, we lay our beds on the seeming stability that is the land.

Solid.  Dry.  Stable.

The familiarity of the campsite.

The security of the fire.

The comfort of the sleep.

 

Anchored, we chase the wave, the impermanent thought of a faraway moon.

Taming it long enough to believe we are in control,

all the while wishing to join it in its mysterious evasiveness.

 

When we’re done with the power of the universe casting ripples on our ocean,

We return to what we know:

The familiarity of sleep.

The security of the campsite.

The comfort of the fire.

 

-JML

For more thoughts on impermanence, check our post Impermanence and the Beach.

The Zen of Relationships

Zen Heart

In one of our previous posts, Love and need: Are they the same?, we touched on the idea of Love versus the attachment to another human being.  Now, these ideas are easy to understand, but what about when an event happens, such as the loss of someone you care about, through the end of a relationship?  This is all written with the background that this writer had a relationship end quite recently!

Enter the Zen of Relationships.

Why Zen of relationships, and not END of relationships?  Well, even after a separation, you still have a relationship with someone.  Even if you do not speak, you have shared experiences and created memories.  These memories still form views of relationships in your mind, and shape relationships to come.  Also, this person is someone you once cared for tremendously.  To cut them off, with no remorse is, in essence, cutting off a part of yourself, and not acknowledging the love that existed in the first place.

Remember that Love is described as “unselfish loyal concern for the good of another”.  The key word here is unselfish.  This is synonymous with the words “if you love something, let it go”.  If you truly love, then no matter another’s actions of reciprocity towards you, you continue to act benevolently towards them.  You are looking out for their best interest out of a genuine, caring place.  Even at the end of a relationship, if you truly loved or cared for that previous partner, you want what is best for them; even if that means them being with people other than yourself.

These things being said to lay the foundation of thought, here are some ways that can help move through the end of a relationship.

1.  Act with dignity.  This is simple: Be polite, amicable.  If the other person has decided to end the relationship, then be civilized.  Treat them with respect and dignity.  Do not insult them; that will only further their belief that the relationship was wrong, and leave them with bad memories of your reaction to the event.  Remember, Life is not only about events, but more about how we REACT to those events.

2. What did you learn?  Ask yourself, what did this other person, or the situation, teach you about life, your self, other people, and relationships?  By realizing what you learnt in the relationship, you will consciously appreciate some extra details in your day-to-day life, as well as take new learnings to your next relationship, your friendships, or even just for solo adventures.

3. What did you teach them?  It is important to think about what you taught the other person,  not from the mindset that they needed to learn or that you are better, but from the mindset of proper self worth and appreciation of your gifts.  By realizing what you have to offer to the world, as well as understanding what you have learnt (Step #3), you can realize that you are a constantly changing and improving being, that has tremendous worth and love to give to the people around you.

4. Set some minimum time apart and give yourself time.  Yes, even though I am saying Zen of Relationships, it does not mean that you necessarily say involved at the outset!  After all, we are still human beings with very powerful emotional responses.  It is still important to set some time apart, and decrease the intimate & emotional familiarity that was created between two people.  It is important to take time and re-connect with being independent, and remember all of the things that make you a wonderful human being.  This goes hand in hand with #5.

5.  Let go of the relationship.  The idea of attachment is a key concept in Buddhist thinking.  It is one of the components that can lead to suffering in our lives.  By being attached to the way things are, were, could be, or could have been, we tend to create emotional sufferings that are far greater than the end of a relationship.  As Sheng Ts’an said, “Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional”.  Events that cause us pain will happen, no matter what.  How we choose to respond to these events is what will create great freedom in our lives.  Why?  Because  thoughts of attachment can follow us and affect or day-to-day emotions, behaviours, and thoughts.  Letting go of them allow us to have room for new possibilities and potentials.  In particular, one should:

  •    Focus on the steps above and see the relationship as it was.
  •    Spend some time letting go of the past. Realize that the relationship ended, and that you now have room to create something new.
  •    Enjoy the present moment, and the things that give you happiness. Bike riding, time with friends, hobbies of all kinds.
  •    Accept the thoughts of the past relationship, thank them for what they mean, an return to the present.
  •    Stop justifying and thinking about what could have been. Take the lessons you learned, and apply them in your life, for the next time. Every relationship teaches us something which can be used to build stronger relationships in the future.

6. Love yourself, and others.  Be open to love again.  It is easy to build an emotional wall and say “I won’t get hurt again!”  This emotional cut-off will prevent love and strong binds between you and others.  In order to love and be loved, one must take the risk and be vulnerable.  One cannot truly love if naked vulnerability is not present.

Sometimes, you have to accept that some people can only be in your heart, not in you life.

Surfing Meditation

 

A friend recently asked me what it was about surfing that relates to Buddhism. In the ensuing expansive explanation, I shared with him the peace and quiet it brings. Upon further discussion, I realized that it may be valuable to share a portion of our upcoming book, Dharma in Every Wave, on this blog…

It’s raining cold pebbles of ice and rain. The piercing offshore wind resonates in my ears as I make my way down the beach from the gravel parking lot. Clutching my board tightly, my right hand echoes the anticipation of my heart and mind as I watch a six foot right crash in the distance. Through the wintery grey and the spray of the waves, I scope my paddle out line of least resistance. I know this beach somewhat, and the general area which can pull me sideways into the oncoming waves. I must be conscious, I must be mindful, and not get distracted by the environment.

Breathing deeply while stretching my back and shoulders, I become aware of the havoc that the cold is playing on my flexibility. Doubt begins to enter my mind. I make room for it, thinking of the warmth and comfort I have left to come here.

My left foot makes that familiar splash as I start to enter the vastness of the ocean which awaits me with gifts of cold, pain, and exhilaration. The wind is howling now, and the rain is hard and piercing, attacking me from below as it forms a barrier off of the embracing sea.

The noise and the harshness of the elements tell me that I do not belong here; and I listen, wondering more and more why I am doing this. I ask out loud if the piercing howl of the wind will cease. I curse the weather as it attacks me. Surely, if I was not wrapped in the protection of the wetsuit, I would have never considered the adventure of the early morning Canadian West Coast beach.

The waves make themselves known to me. A set starts rolling in while I am at that place; too shallow to dive, too deep to guard my face. The water engulfs me, finding every possible way into my core, stopping my breath and stealing the little heat I so preciously guard.

It is at this point that I realize I am alone, and all is noise.

There is no one else here on this beach. No friends to save me if anything goes wrong. No strangers to paddle out if I am not vigilant. I stole out of the hostel I am staying at before first light. Success depends entirely on me, and the doubt is louder and stronger than ever.

I push on, knowing that this noise and distraction is part of my journey to catch the seemingly un-catchable. That moment where you harness the power of the universe under your feet, and tune into the flow of the chaos.

Once the set has passed, I lift myself onto my trusted board and start to paddle, pushing the small feeling of security and self further out and away from the safety and stability of the beach.

Through the rain, wind, and foam, the crest of a giant begins to form. Its thick and dark walls are outlined by the endless shower from above and the sideways spray of water carried by the wind. Choosing not to move backward, I paddle forth towards the uncaring water. As the darkness towers over me, I lift my knee onto my board and clutch the rails of my brazilian beauty. She has seen warmer waters, and I frequently hear her asking me to return her to southern seas. I take a deep breath, push her nose down, and I breathe out. My face embraces the darkness.

I am alone. And all is quiet.

The rain is gone. The wind has stopped. My face, still cold and tight, is somehow calm. I continue to breathe out as I push with my shoulders. For this brief moment in time, all is peaceful. Though surrounded by waters that could eventually cause hypothermia, I have forgotten the cold that was piercing my chest. The uncaring noise of the world is gone, the doubt has washed away, and my mind suddenly feels at peace. My body relaxes into the movement as I follow the momentum of my actions. I feel loose, flexible, strong.

I look up, and can see the faint glimmer of the sun through the surface of the sea. Every time I dive, I return to a different place. Sometimes forward, sometimes back, but always more experienced.

This previous story describes a time when I first realized the power of meditation, and the connection to surfing. As I continued to paddle out that day, I began connecting my love for surf and the actions contained within it to the peace and calm I was acquiring through the studies and meditations Buddhism was bringing me. The rain, the wind, the cold, are all noise that cast doubt in my mind and form a barrier between my true self and my surfing practice. Life casts the same metaphors of noise; distractions such as television, financial woes, self-imposed judgments and internal feelings of external obligations all create states of mind that prevent my true self from being fully expressed.

Meditation, much like diving under a wave as described above, allows me to quiet the busy, day-to-day noise and concerns, and focus on the true strength contained within myself. The thoughts and distractions wash away as I focus on my body, breath, and universal connection. I become relaxed, and am reminded that the mind holds the power with which I can create the internal reactions to external situations. A daily meditation practice allows for more peace, and I must be vigilant in making time for it. Curiously, the more time I make for meditation, the more relaxed I am in the other moments of the day, as if time has been created out of nothing.

Those who have never meditated may feel unsure about what needs to be done. Is there anything to study? Must it be done in any one specific manner? No. There are many ways to meditate, some involve sitting and breathing, some involve sports (such as above), some involve yoga, but all contribute to calmer places within. It is in these moments of internal flow that we let go of our past and future concerns, and focus only on the present moment.

In the near future, we here at Dharma in Every Wave shall be creating some step-by-step meditations to follow and share. These will be audio and written guides, and build successively on one another. If you have never meditated before, by starting with these simple meditations, not only will you feel more at peace, but you will also notice that a daily, consistent practice benefits your mental health and productivity.

The Power of Desire

My best hand sketch!

We’ve all been there: That feeling to have something we don’t, or be with someone whom we aren’t.  That longing look, thinking “If only I had that/him/her, I would be happy!  I would be complete.  I would be better.”

Surprisingly, I have them.  I have them often.  Here’s one recount.

I wasn’t catching many waves (yes, we ALWAYS say that… but this time seemed lower than average!).  I was tired, my board felt all wrong, and I was constantly setting in the wrong spot.  It’s not that I was chasing the perfect wave… I was chasing ANY wave.

So I packed it all in.  The Situation was victorious over me, and I thought it better to bow out and head for the little coffee shop I like.  As I grabbed my coffee and walked out into the lot, I spied the surf shop across the way.  I never really made time for shops, but since the day was still relatively young, I figured I’d head in, grab some wax, and chat up whomever was interested in recounting surf stories.

As I wandered around, I ended up eyeing some new boards and thought it would be a harmless venture to check them out.  As I ran my fingers lightly on the smooth decks and perfect graphics, my eyes settled on a 6 foot thruster.  The graphic was simple and eye catching: 3 pencilled, wavy lines of different shades of blue ran the board lengthwise.  Looking at the board sideways, they resembled 3 cross sections of swells… bo doubt what the artist had in mind.  It was a real beauty… far better than the yellow beater I had picked up in Costa Rica years before.  As I picked her up to check the rocker and rails, I realized another thing: the board was epoxy.  Lighter and stronger than mine, I immediately felt that I would be a better surfer with her under my feet.

I liked the board.  I wanted the board.

I continued comparing this new beauty to my old rugged princess, crammed unforgiveingly in my truck.  Mine was pressure dinged, cracked, gouged, and pummelled.  The visible repairs, the faded yellow, the old footpad: This board was the obvious cause of my poor performance earlier that day.  I quickly became unsatisfied with my ride… a thought which had never entered my mind before.  As if that suffering wasn’t enough, I then began to imagine how brilliant of a surfer I could become with this new epoxy beauty guiding me to the best waves.  I would be unstoppable; immediately consistent and world class!  In my mind’s eye, the sun was shining, the swell was like clockwork, and I was catching every wave with ease.

All thanks to the new board I could purchase.

As I blinked my self back into the present, my eyes focused on the $650 price tag and I swallowed deeply.  I then let out a sigh as I contemplated how I could afford this.  I couldn’t without repercussions… either giving up some food entirely for a little while, or pulling out the credit card and creating some debt.  Either option was not favourable.

At that moment, a general sense of lack and inadequacy started making its way into my mind as I wondered where my savings were, why I couldn’t afford the board, why wasn’t I earning more money, and why had I chosen the career path I was on?

Lack.  Self doubt.  Negative criticism.  Self induced suffering.  ALl form a surfboard, and a price tag?

I smiled as I caught myself.  I eyed the board once again, and thanked it for the lesson.  I walked out to my truck, and admired my beat-up Costa Rican beauty.

Life is a wonderful lesson.