Friday, February 27, 2015

Something Happens!

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



That's right, folks:

Something Happens!

You may not be consciously aware of it, but it is true:

Something happens!

What Gives?

Have you ever found yourself meditating consistently for weeks or months at a time, maybe a few hours per day, and it seems that “nothing’s going on”? Have you ever thought you’d just cleared out ginormous quantities of false beliefs and emotional negativity, only to feel worse—because now you’re upset with the thought that “I should be feeling better”?

As any self-cultivator knows, the Path isn’t always exciting. In fact, it can sometimes be a source of struggle, frustration, uncertainty, anger, tedium, unhappiness, or all of the above and more. At times, over a period of months or even years, the feeling may arise that: Nothing is happening! I’ve done all this work and nothing is happening! What gives? :-(

We Are Always Going Forward

It is important that we be clear that if we perceive ourselves to be in the aforementioned position of “stagnance,” unless we’re deliberately (though possibly unconsciously) deluding ourselves with sham practices, false beliefs, or the savior mentality, stagnant we are not. Something is happening.

Even if we consciously perceive nothing, even if it seems we’re back-sliding, as long as we continue…
  • …self-cultivating,
  • reading the writings of “Those Who Have Been There Before,”
  • self-inquiring,
  • repeating our mantras and “doing” our meditations,
  • or practicing whatever it is that our inner knower is guiding us to do as a foundation for further spiritual awakening…
…we are always going forward.

And let’s be honest, here. Is “nothing” really happening?

I my own experience, things have continuously been happening. I’ve continuously been perceiving things I’d never noticed before. I’m forever gleaning new insights and wisdom about the nature of life solely from within myself. But because these instances are usually not sustained, majorly life-altering, or accompanied by some “high-trippin’” mystical experience, my ego tries to suggest that they’re not much of anything at all.

But of course they are! And in a way it can be said that a lot of these little shifts add up to a pretty darn big one.

Awakening and Proof of Movement

On 12/12/12 I experienced a partial kundalini awakening. Soon thereafter I read Be Here Now by Ram Dass for the first time. My expectation (if I can say I’d had any) was that it would be “just another spiritual book.”

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

When reading books by “Those Who Have Been There Before” in the past, my experiences seemed neutral—like reading an encyclopedia. Sure, my beliefs may have changed or I’d have expanded my knowledge base or perhaps had learned new exercises. But in moments of reading I would have had to say reading seemed solely a mental activity.

Post-awakening, when reading Be Here Now—Woah! I’ll be "merely" reading the text when suddenly I’ll get an energy surge. Sensation in my root chakra will go from 0-60 in about .8 seconds and I’ll start shaking or laughing or my abs will tense and release in rapid succession. Usually this is brief; though one time I’d shaken for about 15 minutes, all the while moving to different positions on the floor as I repeated words of love and gratitude to varying aspects of All That Is.

This all being stuff that, regardless of all the self-cultivative work I'd been doing, I could never have expected or foreseen even in the moments just prior to the reading. (…And the kundalini awakening itself! Where did that ever come from!?)

Vibrational Transference

Which brings me to a valuable point.

I’d known intellectually for a number of years that we pick up vibrational/energetic “data” from others on what is usually an unconscious level; that without any particular word or action by a given person, each of us radiates an unseen energy affecting all around us.

To recognize this so vividly at an experiential level has been profound. Not only is what has transpired living proof that something happens, but it reveals that something happens all the time; the potential energy for such being always available—everywhere—everywhen. There’s simply no other way.

To the average Joe, Be Here Now would look like nothing more than ink on paper. Heck, that’s what it looked like to me, too. It still does. But the feel of it, the feel when looking at it and holding it, when reading it… It’s inundated with such passion; with purpose, presence, and power. Its whole everything carries such an immense and unfathomable positive energy that emanates out into every fiber of one’s being.

The energy is always there in that book, because it's the energy put into the book when written. Just as there is energy in every other book…and video and audio recording and conversation and every piece of craftsmanship and every bite of food and every person we meet and every thought, word, and deed we “keep private” or share with others.

And the positive or negative energy—the vibration—that each thing carries affects us all depending upon such factors as it's degree of purity or filth, our proximity to it, and our state of being in relation to it. We just don’t normally realize as much because we are intellectually unaware and physically, emotionally, and energetically unattuned.

So Keep At It!

That said, as much as your present moment circumstances allow for, continue…
  • …surrounding yourself with those things…
  • …visiting those places and meeting those people…
  • …thinking, saying, and doing whatever it is…
  • …watching, listening to, eating, and reading the stuff…
…you consider to be of a higher, lighter vibration.

Because, truly, something happens!

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Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 1/16/13 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Award and the Journey

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



“It is no measure of health to be well-adjusted to a profoundly sick society.”
--Jiddu Krishnamurti

“It is not titles that honor men, but men that honor titles.”
--Niccolo Machiavelli

Does it really mean anything?

Competition

We’ve been living in a world that seems a bit confused. It is a world where the majority of people are blind to seeing others for who they truly are. They see others instead, and judge them, for their ability or inability to attain arbitrary, man-devised, social and academic credentials and fulfill expectations based upon them.

Quite automatically this creates competition. “It's dog eat dog,” some might say. But why not cut to the chase and be realistic about it? Why don’t we quit avoiding the truth with cute sayings and tell it like it is?
  • It's brother eat brother.
  • It's daughter eat mother.
  • It's wife eat husband.
  • It's friend eat friend.
  • It's man eat woman.
  • It's rich eat poor.
  • It's white eat black.
  • Its West eat East.
  • It's me eat you.

Is it any wonder why we're always fighting each other?

He succeeded in getting that schnazzy piece of paper with a pretty, faux-gold emblem on it, but you didn't. He also got the job, but you didn't. He's got the brains, but clearly you don't. Now you feel like crap because you’re degreeless, jobless, and stupid. Now bitterness dwells in your heart. Resentment. Self-loathing. Low self-worth. Disempowerment.
  • I’m not good enough.
  • I’ll never earn enough money to “make it,” to get respect.
  • I’m too stupid.
  • I always lose.
  • You need money to make money.
  • If you're not born into riches, you go nowhere in life.
  • Nobody wants to hire me.
  • I don’t have the credentials.

The list goes on, folks. It’s your gift for becoming rapt in the siren song of competition. It’s so captivating that it sucks you right in. You aren’t even aware that it’s happened. You wake up every day believing that competition is the name of the game. (I know. It's not a game. It's real life.)
  • I need to get a degree.
  • I need that promotion.
  • I need to join this club.
  • I need that award.
  • I need to set these records.
  • I need those commendations.
  • I need I need I need I need I need I need I need.

Sound the Alarm

And then maybe one day—just maybe—the big WTF hits. You feel like you’ve had your mind reconfigured by an astral jackhammer.

What the hell happened? Where did the first 20? 40? 60? 80? years of my life go? What have any of these fancy pieces of paper and swaths of multi-colored fabric done for me? What has all my effort to make it to the big leagues, to appear better than the next guy, to fit into the square hole, actually done for me? I’m as unsatisfied now as I’ve ever been.

And that’s when the second part of the realization arrives: Awards, rankings, certificates, trophies—they’re ego feeders; if not necessarily for those who’ve received them, then for the greater population who judges people by them. They have no real value. We are who we are with or without them.

A Blind and Wasted Eagle

When I was in Boy Scouts, I handed in the paperwork for the rank of Eagle Scout two hours before the 18th birthday deadline. Although I ended up getting the award, I majorly procrastinated up to that point. I majorly procrastinated after that point, as well. Having the actual award made no difference.

I also used foul language a lot before and after. I didn’t treat my fellow man or the Earth any different before or after. I was equally miserable before and after. Within a year or so of receiving the award, I was spending my weekends getting drunk until passing out, puking, or both. I remained an angry driver. I continued my habit of eating to the point of “having a food baby”…and then “twins.”

Although a highly transformative experience, similar might be said for my time in karate. At varying intervals, I tested and ranked up to a new belt level. But did these belt changes mean anything? Not so much. While the materialist part of the world may view me as better than the person without this adornment, personally it means nothing.

My examples, here, are not meant to downplay either program. Each situation and activity has its pros and cons which will vary for everyone depending upon a variety of factors. Each person’s experiences and respective gains will vary greatly.

With all this variation and possibility it would seem that the award itself becomes subjective, very possibly to the point of insignificance.

In karate, different belt levels may aid in teaching students in the same dojo, but what do any of those rankings say outside of that dojo? I’d once heard of a martial arts school where ranking up could practically be purchased. Far cry from the arts’ Eastern origins. Far cry from the school I had attended. But a belt is a belt no less. So what, then, if anything, might we judge by?

The Journey

The journey is what it’s really supposed to be about, isn’t it? That the person looking to achieve “something higher” use the opportunities available solely for improving the self, rather than using a hoped-for end-/checkpoint to become “better” than those without.

Awards are mere labels, after all. Tenderfoot, Star, Eagle Scout. White belt, green belt, black belt. None of them are accurate depictions of who or what the wearer really is. Excluding further competitive subdivisions like the “Dean’s List,” a solid “C” student receives the same degree as a solid “A” student. Some Eagle Scouts become true leaders and some wash their lives down the drain. Some martial artists recognize the spiritual aspect of training immediately, while some may train for years, never evolving from a state of worldliness and ego.

Sure, it helps to know that a woman applying for a nuclear engineering job has adequate knowledge in nuclear engineering. But beyond practicality (and even this can be a flimsy area) such credentials say jack squat about the quality of a person.

The more appropriate indicator, I feel, is the degree of inner-evolvement acquired through our life’s passage, whether we’ve sought 50 achievements—or none.

Soul Value

Life has something to teach each of us regardless of what our circumstances are at any given time. Learning these lessons is the meaning of life. It is the task of each one of us to ask ourselves:

What soul value am I gaining from this life experience?

Because, personally, I’d rather others see me as I try to see them…
  • …for the degree of authenticity I put into my words and actions; my ability to walk my talk.
  • …for the wisdom I’ve gained from my mistakes and my willingness to look inward.
  • …for my character and the quality of work I do, and the love I put into it.
  • …for the effort I put into becoming educated in areas of personal passion (rather than familial and societal expectation) and my striving to make them work in my life against all odds, nay-saying, and belittling.

The authenticity, the wisdom, the character and quality, the love…

These things cannot be competed for. They cannot be bought. They cannot be bestowed upon the reception of any award. They cannot be expressed through some ornate plaque on a wall, nor a trophy in a display case or a diploma in a frame.

For they all come back to "me"; to the very nature of who we are as human beings.

They come only through the experience of active knowledge and a willingness to be real—through the blood, sweat, tears, introspection, honesty, suffering, surrender, and grace of the journey.

No other way.

That is soul value.

For there is no greater honor than that which we realize within the self.

[Update 10/2/2015:] Understanding an Inconsistency

Speaking of “that which we realize within the self”…

Long have I wondered: How is this possible? Every goal I’ve set out to achieve in my life that I’ve truly cared about, I’ve either failed at it or self-sabotaged my ability to continue. Yet I still managed to receive the Eagle Scout award. How is it possible? It’s so inconsistent with the outcome of every meaningful thing I’ve ever tried to accomplish.

It just never made sense to me. Until now.

Mainly, my push to earn the Eagle Scout award was for approval, or, rather, fear of disapproval.

Yes, I acknowledge that I enjoy camping and being outdoors and such. I acknowledge that I'd learned some great skill that will remain with me and aid me throughout my life. Scouting certainly offered redeeming qualities for me, and I'm grateful for the experience.

But I also acknowledge this: I felt profound embarrassment when being dressed in a scout uniform in public. I smugly made sure to get a few more merit badges than the other kids my age as a means of proving, “I am better. I’m not worthless. I deserve attention, love.” I only did an Eagle project because I thought that the place where my brother had done his would be somewhat familiar and an “easy in”—which proved to be right.

How about that? So while the blind go on honoring me for being an Eagle Scout, the fact is that I’m as flawed as anyone else.

Once again, what’s the judgment others make about me really worth?

Will I be judged as lesser now because my Eagle Award is more or less false?

Or will I be judged as greater because I’ve dared to understand myself and then made the courageous move of making myself vulnerable to express the truth of my life in hopes that others may learn from it?

Will I be judged for the award (or, sort of, the lack thereof) or the journey?

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Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 1/13/13 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

Saturday, February 21, 2015

You Don't Have To Be Old To Be Wise

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



And Elihu…answered and said:
“I am young, and you are very old; thus I was afraid and feared giving my opinion. I said: ‘Days should speak, and many years should teach wisdom. But it is the spirit of God in man, the inspiration of the Almighty that grants him understanding. Great men are not always wise, nor do the aged necessarily understand judgment.’ Therefore, I said: ‘Listen to me. I, too, will tell you what I think.’ ”

--Job 32:6-10

The Hackneyed... Again

Have you ever not had a job… Have you ever been in the process of deciding where to go to school… Have you ever searched for a new house or car… Or have you ever been stable with car, house, job, education, et al…

…and it seems that most everyone you speak with wants to know, like an unwritten rule of discussion...

How’s the job going? How’s the car, house, boat? How’s school?

Sure, there may be more worthwhile questions asked, like, “How’s the family?” But the average conversation so frequently seems to sit in the area of the hackneyed and outwardly oriented. (To say nothing about general complaints and topics like economics, politics, gas prices, or the weather.)

You see Uncle Stevie at a family party and he wants to know how the job is going. After you finish talking to him, you bump into Aunt Clair—“How’s the job?” she asks promptly. Now that you’ve elucidated on the mundane (a mere rehash of many prior conversations), you desire nothing more than to get a cold one to quench your thirst. If only you can make it to the cooler without being verbally assaulted…

20 more steps to go… 15 more steps… 10 steps… 5 ste— And there’s Great Grandma Bessie, coming through the doorway just next to the cooler.

“Hey. How’s work these days?”

Oh, for cryin’ out loud, Grandma! How many times are we going to go over this? You ask me every week and every week I tell you the same thing!”

Soul Value

Okay, so maybe you don’t go that far…or maybe you do… But what in the world is so fascinating about this question? Or any like it? How have they've never gotten old? How is it that there are such an abundance of facets to life yet we continually revert to the same mundane topics and questions?

Is there nothing more worthwhile or authentic or profound or important or enjoyable to speak of—in the 99.9993 percent of times when such conversation is not being forced upon us (like G-ma Bessie’s death) or more applicable (new job or job loss)?

If only subconsciously, what are we trying to avoid by creating such tight boundaries on what we discuss with others?

Don’t get me wrong—practical matters have their place in thought, word, and action. Yet, word is born of thought and action. So we must be doing a lot of thinking and acting (yes—act-ing) in these value-less areas to have so much desire and need to talk about them.

But to what end does all of this thought and action take us? What lasting value is all this mental and physical do-ing bringing into our own lives and the lives of others?

If we need a specific word or phrase to better hone in on what I am referring to, how about, soul value: the value, the wisdom, that can be applied no matter where our soul ever goes.

Because in this realm of life experience, there are two types of wisdom: practical/earthly and spiritual/eternal. The difference and level of value between the two and the degree to which we acquire and apply them in life are of monumental significance.

What's Left When Nothing's Left?

For example, consider the “earthly” man who has great financial wisdom. Being in the industry for a few decades, he’s learned how to buy, sell, and trade financial assets like no one’s business. Not surprisingly, he thinks about his work quite frequently and can and does talk off people’s ears about it.

But what happens if, oh, I don’t know, if the stock market goes offline and never comes back on? What happens if this man injures himself severely and can no longer work his financial magic? What if, plain and simple, he gets too old to work?

When the market is gone, when he’s laid up in intensive care for a year, when he's retired, when all sources of outward value have disappeared, what’s he to do? How’s he going to make it through his days armed with nothing other than earthly, gotta-keep-moving know-how?

What if he dies—what happens when he tries to pass through the Pearly Gates? What did he really learn in life to make him worthy of eternal life in heaven? What soul value did he gain in life that will make his next incarnation deservingly better?

Naturally, I’m not trying to pick on the financial sector. This goes for anybody whether they are an auto mechanic, a head of state, a seamstress, or a world-class champion in Texas Hold ‘em. All these people and the things they do for a living have their place, they have a purpose. I don’t mean to condemn others for the path they choose in life. My aim is to push us to expand our awareness, to think a little further outside the box than we are probably used to.

What are these things that we put so much time and energy into doing for our souls—for that special piece of us which exists with or without a physical vehicle?

When our practical endeavors cease, regardless of hows or whys, what will our souls have to carry forward? What now fulfills our souls that hadn’t done so prior? What now fills “the void” that always seems to reawaken when we take our focus off the material plane?

Anything?

Knock, Knock, Knockin' On Heaven's Door

When we’re standing at the Pearly Gates waiting to get into heaven and God asks why we belong there, why we shouldn’t be sent back to try again, what do we say?

“Well, God… Surely, you must already know… I earned a Ph.D. I was an internationally acclaimed public speaker. I operated a successful webstore. I had a pilot’s license. I received training…”

And as we’re rattling off all of our credentials, Little Billy comes over and starts tugging on God’s robe. “Can I go in?” Billy asks innocently.

Looking down, God replies, saying: “Give me one good reason.”

“Umm…well…I haven’t really had the chance to do much in life… But just before my mom killed me, I looked her in the eyes. She hurt so much inside. And that’s when I realized that she was angry at herself, not me. I forgive her, and I love her.”

“The kingdom is yours, Dear One.”

Running and Hiding. Endlessly.

We spend the majority of our lives in search of earthly gains. Little do we spend on the deeper enrichment of our souls.

I have to work hard to survive.
I need bigger, better, faster, stronger.
My life is valuable because I have [this, this, this, and this] practical know-how.
It’s not me, it’s them.
I don’t want to think about my anger. It makes me angry.
This is just the way I am.
The truth is too painful to acknowledge.
Yes, it’s a part of life, but it’s taboo. We just don’t talk about these things.
My religion, government, TV promise me that I'll be okay.
As long as I can fill the spaces with something—anything—then everything will be fine.


Wisdom Is Earned; It Is Not Interest from the Bank of Aging.

Spiritual knowledge and wisdom—soul value—will come to the earnest seeker, to the young and old alike, just as practical knowledge and wisdom will. (Useless entertainment and information, equally so.) Only the spiritual is much less common because it requires a shift away from “them” and the herd mentality. It requires us to be more brutally honest with ourselves than we’ve ever been.

It’s very human to want to avoid suffering, to avoid admitting self-wrongness; that perhaps the things we define ourselves by are not actually as beneficial as we’d led ourselves to believe.

But if we want spiritual wisdom, if we want to begin making payments on our golden ticket to heaven, we mustmust—be sure that we’re putting in the effort to earn it. That we are not wasting away our lives by hiding from the truth amongst our material wizardry, by going in the wrong direction because we think it too uncomfortable to self-challenge our beliefs, or by thinking that age has automatically made us wise.

The only thing age brings is further experience. Yet our experiences matter little in comparison to our understanding of them. If we haven’t gleaned any spiritual wisdom from them—and spiritual wisdom is our main purpose for existence, after all—the only thing age is making us is foolish.

“For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul?”
--Matthew 16:26

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Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 12/30/12 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Zero Mindfulness

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



May I Ask You a Few Questions?

Are you familiar with those trivial and boring tasks we call chores which, one might suspect, only some perverse creator could have burdened us with?

Too familiar, right?

Well… Why are you doing them? Because they have to be done? Because they're dirty? Because mother told you that’s the way it has to be?

Sounds like you’re doing them with a self-imposed reason… Why?

Why do something for a reason? After all, reason is founded in mental programming—not reality. Even worse is that this programming is at constant odds with your will.

So the whole time you’re washing the dishes (or whatever’s on your list of household banalities) you end up focusing your mind not on dishwashing, but on:
  1. Anything except dishwashing, and/or
  2. How much you loath dishwashing.
Would you believe me if I told you it’s possible to let go of the reason, the program, and in doing so could realize that chores are a gateway through which the miraculous may reveal itself to us?

Don’t believe me? No problem. I wouldn't have believed me just a few short years ago, either. But if you should change your mind, here’s some instruction:

Don’t…
…Do…
…Anything.

The key, my friend, is mindfulness. Lose your mind and become mindful. ;-)

For it is our abidance within this mindfully mindless state that the miraculous becomes manifest. Or maybe not… Maybe the so-called “miraculous” is already manifest, always has been… we’ve just been too lost in our minds to perceive it…

So regardless of any overt motive, let’s try washing the dishes just for the sake of washing the dishes. Where there exists no thought: “These have to be cleaned because…” Only the experience of, should it be put into words: “The dishes are being washed.”

Mindfulness and Due Rewards

When my parents have others over for dinner, I am almost always the person who cleans the dishes once we are done eating. While this had originally been a hassle, over time I’ve come to be quite accepting of the task. It’s far from the inconvenience it had once seemed.

There are three main reasons I see dishwashing in this light:
  1. It’s a way of thanking my parents.
  2. It’s a way of stepping away from the relentless conversation.
  3. It’s a lesson in mindfulness.
While washing the dishes during one particular get-together, my grandfather came over and patted me on the shoulder while saying that I would be blessed in the future and duly rewarded for my labor. I knew something he didn’t, so I just smiled. I couldn’t tell him everything I am now telling you.

Well… I suppose I could have. But without great explanation on my part and experience and acceptance on his, what my grandfather (or most others) wouldn’t have understood is that, aside from any future that my present actions were creating, any reward I was due was being given to me during that current progression of now-moments.

The reason being is that while on the outside I appeared to be doing the dishes, on the inside I was also doing the dishes. As I washed, my conscious awareness was honed in exclusively on what was happening right in front of me. I was at the sink in the kitchen washing the dishes. Period.

In other words, while my physical body was washing dishes, my mind was not wandering in yesterday or tomorrow or in what the 11 people in the dining room might have been discussing. My internal world was one with my external world. There was not so much a doer or a “what” being done as there was a unified experience of non-differentiable parts. There was the whole experiencing the whole as the whole.

In this space, time, chatter from the other room, people walking through the kitchen, random thoughts—it’s like there was a shallow awareness of their being there, yet at the same time had no part in this existence.

What did exist was the way the silver cap of the water filter created a spectrum of colors depending upon the angle in which I looked at it. What did exist was the reflection in the pot lid of the snowflake which hangs over the sink. What did exist was the feeling of the texture of the dishes on my hands. What did exist was the way that bubbles were rapidly formed and destroyed when the water from the faucet hit the surface of the sink. What did exist was the way the rippling water ran down the plates, as if in wavy, overlapping layers, as I lifted them vertically from the sink to the drainer.

What did exist were the many nuances of life which I ‘d never noticed before because my mental awareness had been somewhere other than aligned to my physical, now-moment experience; because I’d thought my happiness could only be found elsewhere.

In reality, the blessings created by now-moment mindfulness of the “trivialities” of life are the due reward.

Funny as it may sound to some because we’re used to hearing about it happening to athletes and soldiers and the like, I was in the zone. Not “zoned out,” but “zoned in”—while washing the dishes.

Alignment

We tend to get stressed out, angered, and/or annoyed with life, wishing we were on the beach or had a better job or had more money... or had a maid. We think that when and only when our vision of a “perfect life” comes into fulfillment will we then have peace and joy and all those qualities we spend whole lives dreaming of.

While some situations or places may be more conducive to finding these than others, the truth is that the majority of situations and places which the majority of people find themselves in throughout majority of their lives don’t really matter—including those “perfect life” scenarios.

For all these long sought after qualities come from within. When our minds are aligned to our present experience, they will be wherever we are; if not, they will forever elude us.

Zero Mindfulness

With the resultant silence of mindfulness (and meditation in general), we find that no aspect of life is fundamentally “good” or “bad.” Rather, the ego driving us must define things as “good” or “bad” because it cannot comprehend the true nature of life: that everything just is. That all things—whether judged as good, bad, right, wrong, short, tall, fat, skinny, ugly, pretty—are nothing more than facets of the same whole; that whole being centered in the silent neutrality of conscious awareness.

Our egos are like number lines, you see. If we imagine plotting our judgments on such a line from -100 through 100, -100 as “monstrously bad” and 100 as “radically awesome,” we find that not once, when living with the assumption that we are that ego, do we ever see the 0 in the middle of it all—the 0 of non-ego, the 0 having no opposites, the 0 with no positive or negative, the 0 that just exists.

With mindfulness during the tasks of daily life, we take great strides toward our realization of the 0—the 0 of presence and peace, of emptiness and clarity, where life is and the “miraculous” is the rule, not the exception.

Verse 11 of the Tao Te Ching by Lao Tzu,
as translated by J.H. McDonald

Thirty spokes are joined together in a wheel,
but it is the center hole
that allows the wheel to function.

We mold clay into a pot,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes the vessel useful.

We fashion wood for a house,
but it is the emptiness inside
that makes it livable.

We work with the substantial,
but the emptiness is what we use.

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Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 2/28/13 to former personal blog “Without a Story.”