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Greetings from Northern Minnesota

Posted: Tue May 06, 2014 4:52 am
by viking55803
I am a 65 year old Swedish-American man, husband, father and grandfather. That’s the basic story. I am also a-theistic in the Buddhist sense, and Pantheistic in the “religious” sense. I have experienced “presence,” stillness, the power of now, or spacious awareness in my life since my youth, but only through certain activities, or in some circumstances without the benefit of a real-world “practice” to sustain it.

I did formal study and practice of Zen sitting meditation for a number of years without successfully incorporating it into my day-to-day life. Sitting meditation is a fine way to learn how to disconnect from the “monkey mind” but at the same time it was my ability to think creatively, critically, abstractly, and to understand complex systems (and communicate those thoughts effectively) that put bread in my bowl. I could be present for hours in zazen and grabbed by urgent thinking soon after arising from the cushion.

One of the problems with “worldly” success is that it gives strength to the egoic mind even as you attempt to disown the ego in the process. Just as the ego comes quickly to your defense when you are attacked or criticized, it also expands and takes credit for your achievements. Eckhart Tolle understands having a sense of purpose, a personal mission, a set of goals shaped by high moral and ethical standards. But a key symptom of the egoic agenda is the immediate sense of emptiness at the very moment of a great accomplishment. The ego is never satisfied.

On the other hand, as the artist discovers, creativity only arises from some “other” place. I have experienced it as “flow” - the incredible feeling of effortless expression that seems to come from somewhere beyond conscious control. The egoic editor is silent and the work or form emerges seemingly on its own. It is an unsettling experience to look at your “own” work later and feel as though some other person produced it. The is especially true with a work of art - the object is no longer yours but takes on a “life” of its own.

Eckhart Tolle’s teaching has made me aware of those practices in my life that are for me natural openings to presence: cooking, washing dishes, painting, cycling long distances, making music, snowhoeing deep in the woods at night. Thanks to ET, I am now taking that a step further: watching my thoughts in the shower before work that lead quickly to anxiety, self-doubt, and worse. His teaching is “pratice-able” which could be another way of saying “practical” with practice.

I am please to join this forum and look forward to visiting often.


Re: Greetings from Northern Minnesota

Posted: Tue May 06, 2014 6:02 am
by Sighclone
Gary - Welcome. I'm 67, also a distance cyclist, and of course a fan of nonduality. By the way, moderator kiki is a male, about our age, from Wisconsin, and a big cyclist, too. We have all walked many paths, and we are pleased to see that yours has joined ours in the little blue forum. We hope you enjoy your stay!


Re: Greetings from Northern Minnesota

Posted: Tue May 06, 2014 3:31 pm
by kiki
Welcome to the board, Gary. Glad to have another from my part of the world here, and knowing you are a cyclist along with Sighclone and myself makes it a little bit sweeter. I've ridden 4 TRAMs, and the one last year finished up in Duluth. I've also ridden the Willard Munger Trail - spectacular scenery between Carlton and Duluth. I am hoping to do another ride there sometime this summer.

Enjoy the board,

Re: Greetings from Northern Minnesota

Posted: Tue May 06, 2014 3:40 pm
by KathleenBrugger
Welcome viking. I like what you say about finding presence in ordinary activities. I work out at the Y; I just switched from swimming to working out on machines, and one of the things I like about the machines is i can practice presence while exercising (swimming was a little too immersive to let go it seems).