Tag Archives: Buddhism

Zen in the Art of Archery by Eugen Herrigel

Summary
  1. Eugen Herrigel was a German philosopher who moved to Japan in order to teach and learn the ways of Zen. This book describes his six year path of learning Zen through archery
Key Takeaways
  1. Herrigel describes the process and mentality required to truly master something – until it becomes an artless art with purposeless detachment
  2. The true experts are always humble as they realize how little they truly know
  3. Proper breathing is crucial and ties together any exercise as it provides rhythm and unity
  4. Must experience total failure before willing to give in, listen and accept teachings fully
  5. “You know already that you should not grieve over bad shots; learn now not to rejoice over the good ones. You must free yourself from the buffetings of pleasure and pain, and learn to rise above them in easy equanimity, to rejoice as though not you but another had shot well. This, too, you must practice unceasingly – you cannot conceive how important it is.”
  6. The master is as unselfconscious as the beginner
  7. Must get to the point where you trust yourself so completely that you know you do not need to think consciously about your art
  8. “He [the master] lives – and this is thoroughly characteristic of Zen – happily enough in the world, but ready at any time to quit it without being in the least disturbed by the thought of death.”
What I got out of it
  1. Beautiful book. The dedication and frame of mind one needs to become a true master of any art is daunting but admirable. Must read.

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Buddha Brain: The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love and Wisdom by Rick Hanson

Summary
  1. Buddha Brain takes ancient Buddhist practices and scientific data to show us how to strengthen our brain in order to have stronger relationships and an overall happier and more fulfilling life.
Key Takeaways
  1. Thoughts literally shape our brain. With this knowledge, be mindful of your thoughts as over time they will be ingrained
  2. If brain is cause of suffering it can also be its cure
  3. Wisdom is applied common sense. Let go of things that hurt and strengthen what brings joy
  4. When you see your body as distinct, as what defines you, that leads to suffering, fear and weakness as you take the body’s weaknesses and frailties for your own
  5. Simulating an amazing evolutionary advantage but it brings us out of the present moment – present only place where one can find true happiness and often induces negative emotions. Most emotions in real life not as intense as what we simulate and usually contains limiting or simplistic beliefs. Simulating makes you chase carrots which aren’t as good as you think they’ll be and sticks aren’t as bad
  6. First and second darts – mental and physical discomforts unavoidable (first dart) but our reactions to them often amplify the suffering (second dart). Our reactions to situations are either positive or negative cycles as it is reinforcing either way
  7. When aware that brain doesn’t know the difference between a thought and reality, you realize how important it is to control your thoughts and reactions to situations. Thoughts are reality
  8. Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional
  9. Consciously look for positive experiences. Look for and let positive events sink in and savor it. Can infuse a negative memory with a positive to one to slowly uproot it
  10. Craving something, more than simply desiring it, is what leads to suffering. Can desire something without craving it to happen or play out a certain way
  11. With equanimity, things have only characteristics, not demands. Can view things as unbiased and not react in a negative way. Engaged with world but not troubled by it. Not disappointed or ecstatic with charms of life, simply see things as they are – neither good nor bad. Not reacting to reactions
  12. Aim for a mind with no preferences, free from reactions
  13. Recognize that pleasures and rewards are fleeting and often not nearly as great as what we build up in our heads
  14. Respond, don’t react
  15. Be careful about attributing intentions to others
  16. You don’t have to be the justice system. Trust that others actions, good or bad, will be rewarded or punished respectively
  17. Being mindful simply means having good control over your attention. One of the most important steps your an take to shape your thoughts, actions and brain. Best way to improve mindfulness is through meditation
  18. Try doing just one thing at a time in order to cultivate mindfulness. When washing dishes, wash dishes. Use recurring, everyday events such as going to the bathroom as reminders to be mindful
What I got out of it
  1. Dr. Rick Hanson gives a lot of pragmatic tips that you can work into your daily routine in order to be happier and learn to detach from your “self.” I think the three biggest concept are: learning to respond and not react, try to be as free from preferences as possible, and “good” events are rarely as good as we build up in our heads and “bad” events nearly never as devastating. Also, Hanson’s weekly newsletter, Just One Thing, offers some straightforward and helpful insights.

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Buddha Standard Time by Lama Surya Das

Summary
  1. Surya Das walks us through how to live completely in the now, in “Buddha Standard Time.” We have the power to manipulate time by altering how aware and mindful we are of the present moment. The practices outlined within are increasingly important in today’s hectic day and age.
Key Takeaways
  1. Buddha Standard Time – timeless time, wholly now
  2. Issue trying to solve – how to wean yourself from the addictions that sap time and energy, to clear out all the debris and distraction. You have much more time than you think. In fact, you have all the time in the world
  3. The more concentration and awareness you can achieve, the more time disappears. It’s not time that we lack in our rushed lives, but focus
  4. Do not chase the small, ephemeral things that result only in loss and suffering if you become dependent on them (social media, fame, money, etc.)
  5. Become mindful of what you pay attention to and become more intentional, objective and observant to the minutiae of your life, the transient experiences. Increases self-control and mental discipline, transforms our attitudes and shifts more towards being more responsive, thoughtful, intentional and aware
  6. Nobody can make us angry if we don’t have seeds of anger in our own heart
  7. It is not what happens to us, but how we respond that determines our character and our destiny
  8. Smiling often is a great practice – it is free and spreads love and kindness
  9. People are terrible multitaskers
  10. Master the lost art of waiting and you’ll make friends with time and grow less bored, irritated or annoyed. Read, enjoy and appreciate the people and sites around you
  11. Take time to slow down – slow cooking, slow showers, slow walking, etc. All help you get back into the moment and appreciate the world around you
  12. The Sacred Pause – practice of creating a moment to respond consciously by breathing, waiting and considering things objectively before responding
  13. True realized masters are not beyond suffering and dissatisfaction but one with it
  14. Cultivate a beginner’s or “don’t know” mind – eliminates ego and wasteful thinking
What I got out of it
  1. Really got a lot out of this book and its tips, techniques and recommendations on how to slow down, be present and mindful. It’s not time that we lack, but focus.

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