P N C O

Mostly photography, with the occasional philosophical contemplation

Experiental

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Today i’ve wandered through the forest, seen and heard many birds.. came back home full of experiences and photographs

The interesting thing about all these experiences was that earlier today i was reading a book by Lama Tsongkhapa in which he describes how much we’re attached to our senses.. and indeed, in the forest i was constantly on the watch for sights and sounds. Perhaps that’s the downside for me of taking the camera with me. Or better said, it’s a lesson for me. First relax the mind, eyes and ears and then engage with the forest, connect with it without wanting to grasp at certain experiences (like seeing a kingfisher or a squirrel)

So today ended up being both rewarding in terms of photographs and in applying wisdom..

 


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Re-minding

The mind is such a weird creature. It could have its own episode at ‘weird wonders of nature’. Its capability to create everything ranging from beautiful to grotesque, its illusive nature.. only when it is looked into by scrutinizing analysis, can we learn to see some of its workings. If we leave the mind without looking into its nature and essence, the mind will not be seen for what it is. The trickery of the mind is grand, so our investigation should be thorough.

A good first step into our research is to calm the mind. Mindfulness can create a spaciousness which makes it possible to see how the mind operates. To just be aware of what is going in the mind, gives one the opportunity to recognize and break free from the habitual patterns which normally dominate our experience. To see through our feelings, thoughts and inner demons is a task which demands determination and diligence. At first one may run away, but with time it becomes increasingly better to stay focused and aware.

Another great way of working with the mind is focusing on loving kindness and compassion. To open oneself to the reality that all beings want to be free from suffering and want to be happy, helps to break out of the confinement of self grasping. We are all interconnected.  Once this truth is realized, the circle of compassion can be widened from our loved ones and friends to strangers, animals and our enemies. Mindful giving of love and compassion combined with taking in all the suffering from others is a powerful tool to transform ourselves. At first it may seem odd to take in the suffering of others, while giving away your best, but as time progresses it becomes natural to wish for the best for others. It actually is a great recepy for happiness and joyfullness. 

As one becomes familiar with the workings of the mind, the path to wisdom and clarity lies in resting the mind. This was written as a friendly reminder to myself. May it be of benefit. 

Would you judge a tree?

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trees

Ram Dass on self judgment:

I think that part of it is observing oneself more impersonally. I often use this image, which I think I have used already, but let me say it again.  That when you go out into the woods and you look at trees, you see all these different trees. And some of them are bent, and some of them are straight, and some of them are evergreens, and some of them are whatever. And you look at the tree and you allow it. You appreciate it. You see why it is the way it is. You sort of understand that it didn’t get enough light, and so it turned that way. And you don’t get all emotional about it. You just allow it. You appreciate the tree.

The minute you get near humans, you lose all that. And you are constantly saying “You’re too this, or I’m too this.” That judging mind comes in. And so I practice turning people into trees. Which means appreciating them just the way they are.[..]

Source of the quote – read more at: Ram Dass on Self Judgement

I’ve read about this idea in the past and today i was reminded of the story of the trees. Such a wonderful analogy Ram Dass makes here. What if we would be able to just see each other without all these labels and judgements in our minds? Next time you’re ready to judge a person, try remembering him/her as a tree. Perhaps it can help to stop judging and be more open to who’s there in front of you. I’m gonna try this 🙂


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Job interview

Today I had a job interview. The days counting towards the interview were mentally a bit exhausting and thrilling. And now afterwards I’m wondering whether I said the right things. And now I realize waiting is even more exciting. So a good moment to pause and see what’s going on inside.

Very intriguing how the mind works. This whole process has created lots of body specific  sensations which it then deems tension and thus stressful. But in reality these are just sensations. Neither good nor bad. I’ll just have to breath into them and be mindful.

In the end I’ll just have to wait a few days for an answer. In the meantime thinking or stressing about the situation won’t be of any help 🙂 Patience is my friend here..

Dreamlands

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kade-forest

Dreamlands

Being on the other side as the magic slowly comes alive
Dream of lands full of mystical places long forgotten
Fairy tales escape from the minds of their creators
And find their dwelling in this land of in between
Playing on the land, in the water and flying through the sky
Nature performs her dance right in front of my very eyes

 

Calm breathing

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When the body is in unrest, the mind is in unrest
When the mind is at rest, the body can rest
When the body is at rest, the mind can rest
How wonderful this connection between body and mind

No wonder that so many practices focus on the breath. The key to unlock the connection between body and mind.

As Thich Nhat Hahn teaches in this practice (in your thought say the words on in-breath and out- breath)
In                                Out
Deep                          Slow
Calm                          Ease
Smile                         Release
Present                     Moment
Wonderful               Moment

 


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Inner landscape

Dreamfields full with clouds of wishes, hopes and fantasies

Those who enter in here are in unchartered terrain

The landscape is sometimes rough, loaded with traps and pitfalls

Where snakes and demons wait to lure you in

Inside the dream are worlds within worlds within worlds

Layer upon layer of complex patterns are revealed

This landscape is the sacred place for the Oneironaut

With angelic beings who speak of the holy and divine

Where forgotten wisdom is still available to those who seek 

This inner landscape, the inner core of our being

Is connected to the world around us through invisible threads

To be awake in both worlds and explore the origin

Is to recognize the dreamer and the dream are dreaming together

All of this happening within the space of the mind

Rest the mind and experience the inner landscape, just as it is


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Boeddha Shakyamuni klein

I realize that it’s quite a while since i last blogged about anything different from photography. But lately i feel inspired to also give some attention to writing, as i was reminded of the fun of writing. Just got back from 2 weeks of working for the tour of my Buddhist teacher. At the end of it was a 5 day silent retreat. Really interesting how 2 weeks not doing the regular job can shift things. Before the tour i was wondering what it would be like, whether things would go as planned and how the retreat would be. Now it’s all retrospect. And yet it’s all still so fresh.

I’ve noticed that the balance inside has shifted. Perhaps more than once. It’s very interesting to watch the movement of the mind. A few years ago i would be left perplexed by the process, but as i get to know the process better i now know what is the most important. And it’s surprisingly simple. Rest the mind. The rest will follow naturally. And perhaps you’re now thinking ‘easier said than done’. And it is, exactly because of our mind. So used to habitual behavior of chatting, thinking, judging and liking and disliking, the mind becomes uncomfortable once you enter the silent space within.

It has been a week since the retreat ended and my mind seems to be quite happy to be out of the silent zone. It got me engaged in some pretty rusty habits again and it’s trying its best to convince me that these habits are good for me and enjoyable. But as my mood gets worse, i know that these habits are actually not good for me. This was what helped me to give up on drinking. I noticed that each time i drank, the next few days i was more edgy, less patient, less friendly, less happy, less relaxed, less rested. I’ve once heard that nothing can stand scrutinizing observing. Perhaps that did the trick for me. Cause i tried to force myself out of using alcohol, but the same force came back to me with a big smile (and an even bigger hangover of course 😉 ).

So now that i understand my inner workings better, i can see that i’ve made quite a few improvements in my life the last few years. In a way i’ve found more balance. But the mind is still resisting the new lifestyle which includes yoga and meditation. It’s not yet comfortable with being silently present all the time. The chatter still springs up from time to time. My guess is that it has to do with deeper layers of inner work which needs to be done. There are quite some themes which deserve attention. To name a few: working with fear, insecurity, uncertainty. Buddhist practice has helped me to see beyond all these layers, it’s now up to me to clean everything which blocks me from seeing unobstructed. The true nature of the mind is clear, the thoughts and habits are like the clouds blocking the sun. And so looking back to the last few weeks, i can see that i’ve removed a few blockages, then stood on a box before falling down again and stumbling over the debree.

The good thing is that there is no need to improve anything. Again, just resting the mind is enough. It can be achieved by resting the body. I just know that my mind can’t understand that there is nothing to improve, that everything is perfect. All its life it was taught that to be someone, it had to work hard, strive to be someone, to become the best it needed to improve all day every day. And now there is this teacher in my life who paints a different picture. A clear picture, one in which everything is perfect just as it is. I really need to learn to balance between the old and the new. Cause being switched from one to the other is yet more suffering. So it’s great to see that there is so much to learn still. With trust in my teacher, i know that i’ll overcome all obstacles, one by one. Even if it takes a lifetime. Cause with his example and the support of the teachings and the students, the sky is no longer the limit. For the clear sky is already here, shining from within.

Deep in yourself, deep within all the turmoil of daily life, way below the waves of aggression, jealousy, desire, hope, fear and doubt, there is a calm ocean. Abide in there and you will calm down too.
* quote inspired by my yoga teacher

Inspiration

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Inspiration

The nature of mind
Empty full of compassion
Heartwarming presence
Touching moving gently
Subtly carrying the winds
Everything changes
Everything connected
Death like life like dream
Wake up the heart
Invitation to see
Naked openness
Fearless loving

Light Aware Mindful Presence

 

 


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Out of the closet

Today I found out what an interesting thing the mind is. And for your information, this blog won’t be about my sexual preference 😉
As I was sitting in the train I wanted to do a bit of mantra recitation using a rosary. I did it the last few days, though I always tried to keep the rosary out of sight. Today while traveling it was way more crowded and so it felt inconvenient to do the mantras.
When I made my transfer it was more quiet and the next station was forty minutes travel, so I started there.

While doing the practice I noticed an ever increasing feeling of uneasiness and tightening in my stomach area. Even while I write this hours later, I can still feel the knot. This brings me back to the mind. I know that this has to do with I, the word and the thoughts, ideas and feelings which make up this concept. As a student of Buddhism I’ve been introduced to the idea that there is no separate entity called Pieter which lives independently from the world in which I live.
This idea really helps me to understand what is going on under the surface. Somehow I fear that people might see me doing practice. I meditated once at a pretty open and busy spot in the woods and while I sat there someone passed me and looked at me for quite some time. At that time there was also the tight knot in my stomach. Somehow I feel exposed.

This brings me to the title of this blog. It’s almost like I have the idea that I need to separate between my normal self and my spiritual self. Like there’s any difference.. the mind wants to control how I appear to the outside, so anything threatening this control will result in a response from both body and mind.
Today I was very keen on not being seen while reciting mantras. This eagerness to secrecy created the tension. As I noticed the rising of this sensation in the days before this, I know that the difference lies in my response to the sensations. Today I gave in to the fear of being seen as weird etc. And because of that I started experience more fear as a result.

This whole process is so interesting to watch unfolding as it is happening. Yes, there is discomfort. But I don’t have to fight it. The real nasty feeling is all due to the labeling of the mind. The knot in itself is neither good nor bad. My resistance to it is what keeps it in place.

So I’ve come to the conclusion yet again that much if not everything I hold for my ‘I’ is actually made up out of resistance (to what was and to what is). The past can only live on in the present, so a lot of what has happened in the past survives because of my resistance to it – whether on a conscious or sub/unconscious level.

As I remember hearing Adyashanti say, there will be resistance in the progress. But don’t resist the resistance.

So I let go of my efforts to ease the discomfort and instead shed a bit of light in the darkness. I have to come out of hiding.
Yes, I am a person engaged in spirituality.
Yes, I practice Buddhism.
And as a note to myself: and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that!

Ghost

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Ghosts klein

Wandering in the forest I meet the ghost
He captures my imagination as he swirls around me
Filling my body with feelings of excitement
As it creates its magic out of thin air

Impressed by the appearances I forget where I am
And soon I find myself lost in the forest with nowhere to go
Yet the ghost keeps on animating me with its stories
Soothing and comforting words and images appear

As I start to worry the ghost suddenly screams out loud
WE’RE LOST AND THERE IS NO WAY OUT OF HERE!”
All I can think about right now is
I want to get out of here and just disappear

The ghost starts to become unbearable to be with
It wont shut up and is totally out of control
No matter how hard I try to escape it
It finds me quicker than I can find my own shadow

So now stuck in this dark forest of illusion
Looking for a way out even though I’m afraid
Lying on the ground I begin to lose hope
While the ghost seems to be laughing at me

Full of desperation I wonder to myself
Why did I ever started this endeavor?
To travel alone into the dark woods
Trying to find the source of life

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