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The Art of Being Happy Anytime

Leo Babauta, the author of the book "The Power of Less" and the guy behind the popular blog Zen Habits, recently published a post about how to be happy anytime.

I'm always happy with what I'm doing, because I don't compare it to anything else, and instead pay close attention to the activity itself. I'm always happy with whoever I'm with, because I learn to see the perfection in every person. I'm always happy with where I am, because there's no place on Earth that's not a miracle.

Link - and for Neatorama readers living is Sweden, as I do, here's a Swedish version of that blog post: Konsten att känna sig nöjd när som helst.


Good stuff; much pain comes from comparison.

"Oh, don't worry; we wouldn't dare say that we are as wonderful as these other men who tell you how important they are! But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!" - 2 Corinthians 10:12 (NLT)
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@Red Bunny

Did you know Zazen (Zen meditation) involves sitting in the full lotus position, staring at nothing, for several hours at a time.

Wikipedia relates: Zazen (??; Chinese; zuò chán pinyin or tso-chan Wade-Giles) is at the heart of Zen Buddhist practice. The aim of zazen is just sitting, "opening the hand of thought",[1] that is, suspending all judgmental thinking and letting words, ideas, images and thoughts pass by without getting involved in them. This is done either through koans, Rinzai's primary method, or whole-hearted sitting (shikantaza), the S?t? sect's method. (Rinzai and Soto are the main extant Zen schools in Japan; they both originated in China as the Linji and Caodong schools, respectively.) Once the mind is able to be unhindered by its many layers, one will then be able to realize one's true Buddha nature.[2] In Zen Buddhism, zazen (literally "seated meditation") is a meditative discipline practitioners perform to calm the body and the mind, and be able to concentrate enough to experience insight into the nature of existence and thereby gain enlightenment (satori).

Some of these layers I can tell you and you will be familiar with them. Perhaps layer one is; sitting down to meditate. You will have many distractions that will vie for your time and attention, they will prevent you from ever meditating to begin with. Perhaps layer two is; thinking about all the other things you could be doing instead of wasting your time meditating. Layer three may be; trying to convince yourself that all meditation is pointless, you are doing it wrong, or it doesn't work for you. Layer four may be; realizing you are incessantly chattering to yourself in your own mind and struggling to quite your mind. At some point you may even find yourself incapable of stopping the narrative thoughts and this may cause discouragement. Layer five may be letting go of discouragement and pressing on in the face of temptation (Mara).

The story goes that Buddha (Sidhartha Gautama) variously tried being an ascetic, hedonist and all the other traditions of his day. Eventually he sat down under a Bodhi tree to contemplate on matters. Just as he began to realize that "desire creates the world" the lord of desire himself; "Mara" appeared to tempt the Buddha. The Buddha remained calm and still and merely pointed to the ground, at which time Mara had lost. But not before Mara sent beautiful women and such like to tempt Buddha. I take this to mean that in meditation we come face-to-face with our own desires and the temptations of the world. This may be achieved simply by paying attention to your own thoughts during meditation.
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@Craig

Get a book on Zen

Yin-Yang illustrate duality, but the Zen student finds ways to skillfully manipulate duality to achieve a proper understanding of non-duality. In non-duality there is neither happiness or depression, but there is no way to communicate this state without saying it is neither happiness nor depression, yet some will use words like "happiness" to refer to the state of Satori. Others will call it happiness because that is actually what they have; they do not have enlightenment/satori, they have a kind of emotional alchemy that allows them to shift into states of happiness, but they are always destined to die from this state and be reborn in an opposing state, like the yin-yang cycle suggests.
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I don't see what your attitudes are for. Unless your egos are so soft and squishy that the slightest appearance of intelligence and thoughtfulness puts you to such shame that you have to resort to ridicule and the other infantile tactics you use to avoid careful discussion.

Some call this a kind of "Dogmatic relativistic individualism" or a "Militaristic agnosticism" about everything under the sun.

Reminds me of something Marin Luther King Jr. said: “A nation or civilization that continues to produce soft-minded men purchases its own spiritual death on an installment plan.”

Why, because the nation becomes ruled by small-minded men who use childish debate tactics to shut-up those who actually have insight, in order to save themselves a) appearing to be the myopic, infantile, pricks that they are, and b) having to actually educate themselves and spend some time in careful contemplation.
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The hypocrisy of it is manifold; these infants like to make claims, as for example Craig did when he spoke of the yin-yang symbol, and they don't want anyone to challenge that view-point.

They want to be able to speak their mind, but not have their minds spoken to or hear what is on anyone else's mind that conflicts with their preconcieved notions. They keep their opinions so shallow and misinformed that they need to spend any time in carefully expressing them and need not worry about dedicating much time at all. Such people pride themselves on their keen insight, but when it comes to making themselves vulnerable and open to others with just as keen or perhaps keener insight, these dunces resort to mudslinging.
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@Timothy P

I'm guessing your idea of a full-load is just enough to build a shit-house.

I'm just expressing my thoughts on the original post, and responding to some unwarranted criticisms of Zazen meditation and Taoist philosophy (note the Yin-Yang is part of Taoism not Zen, though Zen may take some of its influence from Taoism).

There is nothing immediately wrong with what I'm doing unless correcting myopic posts is wrong. You probably don't care about such things; generally people don't, but I try to adhere to W.K. Clifford's 'Ethics of Belief' and feel that any statement is only ever ethically justified if it is also epistemically justified. This differs from W. James in that James felt that anyone was ethically justified in stating a belief regardless of whether it was epistemically true. But this raises some obvious problems, for example if I say "I believe Timothy P is a rapist." having no epistemic justification for making that claim I may be wrong, and real and harmful consequences may follow from my claim. Hence there are laws in most nations against slander and libel. But these laws are probably more akin to Susan Haacks ethics of belief than Clifford's, for Clifford one was never justified in making an epistemically unjustified claim, rather it was up to the claimant to validate their claim epistemically before making it.

The vast majority of people intuitively think like James, and feel that there is nothing wrong with making truthful claims without ever having attempted to validate them epistemically.
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@ Ryan S

You might be surprised by the fact that I do actually read about 90% of of your comments. The point that I am trying to make is that 90% of the people that read Neatorama don't really care about you or your views.

Please be a little more considerate to the infantile masses, we have so little to enjoy right now.

Move on- nothing to see here
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Note how people incessantly reject the authors claims and try to equivocate him/her with drug-use or variously try to undermine with the employment of myriad logical fallacies.

They are not thinking about it except to find ways to chop it up and make it irrelevant. There is a special kind of ignorance, I think, in doing this to matters of mental health. A kind of ignorance that requires one to ignore just about everything that is happening in their own minds.

The gross affect of obsessive comparison is obvious to me, but that is only because I've stepped through the door marked "Nigredo". Prior to this stage the ego dominates and the 'individual' is much more concerned about looking good than actually being good. So any chance that they might be delusional and engage in this kind of mindless comparison is a priori rejected prior to any actual self-reflection or contemplation.
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@Timothy P

I'm not surprised that you read 9% of my posts. You frequently boast about your knowledge of my personal life, as if that had any bearing on matters of importance. To be honest, it seems a tad fanatic or stalker-esque.

I'm also not surprised that you think you can speak for 90% of neatorama viewers. 90% of megalomaniacs claim to share the opinions of the majority.
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@Timothy P

As a matter of fact Tim, that is exactly what I think of you. Your concern for me goes as far as what you can get from me. You get annoyed and amused, and that is your fixation. I've never attributed anything more than this to you.
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Ryan,
I was impressed in your first response, but not so much anymore. You are not a true Zen or Tao practioner...for one that is true would not find any use in flaunting their so-called knowledge and enlightenment. One this is true would fail to find any good in berating others. Were you so wise, you would see that they will find their way. Make your point and move on, for your action of typing something out in the hope of generating a reaction is, well, childish. For the record: I am not a practioner of anything; and, most importantly, I've made my point and am moving on. Good luck to the other commentors who - looking at objectively - have acted responsibly until egged on by your insults. Knowledge is good...you are simply a douche, Ryan.
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@Len Zen

We could discuss that; but keep in mind you have said "I am not a practitioner of anything"

Not having tried to practice anything; I don't see how you are in a position to give me advice.

If you look at the history of wise-men-who-told-the-world, a good portion of them disturbed the status quo, used heavy language and were ultimately excommunicated or executed. Jesus Christ, one notable example, used strong language like "Ye blind Pharisees! Ye hypocrites! Brood of vipers!" he also rampaged through the temple upsetting all of their displays of wares. Finally he was crucified. Socrates tried telling all the wise-men that they were wrong and that they really knew nothing, he was forced to imbibe poison after a lengthy trial. Giordano Bruno simply tried to advance a heliocentric model of the solar-system and was immolated at the steak.

I could go on listing such figures and their behaviors and the rewards they got from society. Just think about it; all of these people are in someway revered as prophets or wise-men or saviors. They didn't do what you are suggesting, they did what I am doing. How do you square that up with your fancy vision?
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Here Gautama open his speech with:

"I have taught the truth which is excellent in the beginning,
excellent in the middle, and excellent in the end;
it is glorious in its spirit and glorious in its letter.
But simple as it is, the people cannot understand it.
I must speak to them in their own language.
I must adapt my thoughts to their thoughts.
They are like unto children, and love to hear tales.
Therefore, I will tell them stories to explain the glory of the Dharma."

Why? Are they selfish or something?

"I have recognized the deepest truth,
which is sublime and peace-giving,
but difficult to understand;
for most men move in a sphere of worldly interests
and find their delights in worldly desires.

The worldly person will not understand the doctrine,
for to him there is happiness in selfhood only,
and the bliss that lies in a complete surrender to truth
is unintelligible to him"

Yup, pretty sure he is saying most people are selfish.

"What the enlightened mind considers the purest joy, he will call resignation.
Where the perfected one finds immortality, he will see annihilation.
What the conqueror of self knows to be life everlasting, he will regard as death"

That's pretty warped, they got everything backwards?

"The truth remains hidden from him who is in the bondage of hate and desire.
Nirvana remains incomprehensible and mysterious
to the vulgar whose minds are beclouded with worldly interests.
Should I preach the doctrine and mankind not comprehend it,
it would bring me only fatigue and trouble."

Right you are Gautama; you will preach the doctrine to all these selfish fools and they will not understand it and you will gain trouble and fatigue. That is the way of these things. At least we aren't in denial of the fruits of our actions, eh? So what do we do Master Buddha?

"Whether Buddhas arise, O priests, or whether Buddhas do not arise,
it remains a fact, and the fixed and necessary constitution of being,
that all conformations are transitory.
This fact a Buddha discovers and masters,
and when he has discovered and mastered it,
he announces, teaches, publishes,
proclaims, discloses, minutely explains
and makes it clear that all conformations are transitory."

Oh! We don't try to please them and sate their desires?

"he announces, teaches, publishes,
proclaims, discloses, minutely explains
and makes it clear that all conformations are suffering."

"he announces, teaches, publishes,
proclaims, discloses, minutely explains
and makes it clear that all conformations are lacking a self."

"Struggle then, O general, courageously;
and fight thy battles vigorously,
but be a soldier of truth
and the Tathagata will bless thee."
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See; personally I would like it if "Love" was as simple as giving someone what they want. But it really isn't. Take for example you have a small child that wants to eat a big ol' bag of marshmallows. But you know that eating a big bag of marshmallows will make the child sick. So you say "If you eat that bag of marshmallows you will be sick" and the child says "Oh man! You are such a downer, can't you just let me have my fun, why do you always have to be so damn critical?" and you say "I'm your goddamn parent, you do what I tell you to do!"

See, when loving a child it is necessary to recognize that love is not the same as giving people what they want.
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@Len Zen

I will submit to you that some of my comments have been motivated somewhat by the flux of emotional content within. But then I haven't claimed to be a perfected being. Nevertheless I do recognize that I'm walking a fine line sometimes that isn't clearly the correct path. For example when I said to "Timothy P" that his "idea of a full load is enough to build a shit-house." This statement could merely be an insult hurled back at Tim for his insult, or it could be a carefully planned statement perfectly suited to Tim's psychology. Maybe saying "loving" things to Tim is not what Tim wants to hear.

Tim picked his battle with me; and in so doing revealed elements of his psyche to me. The little dance I'm doing with Tim is entirely for his benefit. His mind will curl back on itself as he attempts to out-wit me and persistently fails with humiliation. He's going to have to change his tune if wants the love and respect he seems to want. Instead of riding my ass and trying to look good by diminishing my image, he'll have to actually grow up and formulate his own thoughts.

I got into a similar head-to-head argument with a White-Supremacist Anti-Communist Russian, and after a series of witty insults, he had to settle into his rational mind and we managed to talk him out of his political stance. For this person, a battle is precisely what he needed, and what I gave him. These are tough decisions to make, but hey, I'm open to new ideas. If you can, explain to me an alternative...
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Ryan,
You are a lonely man. You need attention badly, enough to irk anyone who replies. It's comical...except for the rather obvious pathological issue. It would seem that you're either off your medication or just a dink. Or both. In any event, I haven't even bothered to read your posts. You just want people to react. That's sad, Ryan...you're a sad, sad man.
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You guys are full of hypocrisy; you don't read my posts but claim to have me figured out. "I haven't even bothered to read your posts."

Exactly, most of you who criticize me so harshly wind up saying that you don't even read what I write. I don't think you could be any more ignorant.
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I do not understand why you (plural) think you are morally superior people or why you think you are ethically justified in saying the things you say and stultifying discussion. Let's recap for a moment:

Robert Birming posted an article on Zen practice; which I am supposing means something to Robert and he's not just posting it randomly. I've noticed that certain Neatorama staff have certain interests and their posts are largely within the range of their interests. Robert Birming, Alex and Miss Cellania are frequently posting articles relating to psychology and pop culture. So I suspect they have some interest in these subjects.

Employing a loving and considerate attitude toward the author Leo Babatua we must be in a position to understand his point of view and offer up some thoughtful opinions. Is that what you do? Let's see how you treat Leo.

Red Bunny: I wonder if this guy has ever had to sit in a cubicle for 8 hours a day? I'm sure he'd be just oozing with joy.

[Someone who apparently doesn't know the first thing about Zazen and so inspires us to imagine a scenario that flies in the face of Zen practice. Alternatively; someone who didn't put in the time to understand the point of view they were criticising.]

Chris B: I want some of whatever he is smoking

[The first commentor to equivocate Zazen and enlightenment with drug use. Another example of a person who doesn't seek to understand or even to discuss the subject but engages in ridiculing Leo instead.]

Craig: If you're ALWAYS happy, then happiness has no meaning. Yin and yang; you can't have one without the other.

[Here is a rudimentary example of trying to having a semi-rational discussion, however Craig failed to understand Taoist philosophy before stating his opinion on it.]

VonSkippy: Sounds like pretty much every drug user I've ever talked to.

[Second example of someone equivocating spirituality with drug-use and not addressing Leo's points in a careful, loving, respectful, or even rational manner.]

So you are all hypocrites if you want me to treat you with the kind of love and respect that you deny to Leo and myself. You don't say anything of logical significance, it is just mudslinging and fallacious reasoning. I'm sorry I tried to talk about actual Taoist and Zen philosophy. That seemed to be what the OP was about, but I guess it was really just an excuse for you guys to be insulting, aloof and indignant.
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The term ideal, herein is not used in the sense of an abstract, unattainable perfection; but rather it means a worthy goal that has promise of attainment through appropriate efforts. The gap between where you are and where you desire to be creates a mental and emotional conflict, "a holy discontent" - often called stress in today's world. Normally the first response to stress is to mentally and emotionally run over the outward indications of the conflict - anger, fear, disappointment, resentment, embarrassment, or other such negative feelings. In doing this one's mind is trying to fill the gap between his expectation of what he desires and what actually exists.

~ Loyd J. Ericson

Sorry I'm not what you desire (Tod, Mr. Aweful, etc..), but this is a critical point; anger arises at the juncture between your desires/expectations and the reality of the situation. Acceptance; is one of the primary spiritual exercise, learning to accept the reality as it is. You can't change it; as hard as you try, as much as you want. Punching me in the mouth will only bring you regret in the future.
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