Nothing Exists – A Zen Koan

Myst over the lake

Myst over the lake

Yamaoka Tesshu, as a young student of Zen, visited one master after another. He called upon Dokuon of Shokoku.
Desiring to show his attainment, he said: “The mind, Buddha, and sentient beings, after all, do not exist. The true nature of phenomena is emptiness. There is no relaization, no delusion, no sage, no mediocrity. There is no giving and nothing to be received.”

Dokuon, who was smoking quietly, said nothing. Suddenly he whacked Yamaoka with his bamboo pipe. This made the youth quite angry.

“If nothing exists,” inquired Dokuon, “where did this anger come from?”

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Want to stop smoking? Buy Ciggarettes!

For some people it is easy to stop smoking, it is just a decision they make from one day to the next. For others, it amounts to a daily battle of will power…in that case, it is a mano a mano between you and you! Over the years, I have heard many stories as to how people quit, and it is interesting to know that each person has their own little strategy of going about it. Some throw all their cigarettes away and vow never to touch them again, some make more ritualistic burnings of the sticks, others buy a full pack and leave it sitting on the kitchen counter. Apparently, the third one is the best way to go…
Temptation leads to Moderation

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Does your Mind Influence Illness?

Every day I scour the Internet for interesting news about the mind, body, psychology,…pretty much anything that this blog is about. As I was cruising around today, I found an article on Discovery, that summarized the biggest study on how the mind set of cancer patients influences their recovery or lack thereof. Now, before reading any further, what do you think?

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The Nature of Influence

If you have been following my blog a little, you will have seen the word “influence” in quite a few of the posts. Now, I believe that we are all intelligent and capable of our own thoughts, and as such learning the ideas of influence serve us in three ways:

  1. protect us from people using the same techniques on us
  2. We now can influence ourselves
  3. Our communication with others is much better

While there are many different ways to influence someone, I tend to stress more subtle or unconscious aspects. Yet, a recent article in “Scientific American Mind” has made me doubt whether that is worth it at all. Sadly, it seems we are a pack animal after all, and we tend to outsource our thinking to others – specifically “Hollywood Movies” !

A nice glass of red wine

A nice glass of red wine

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The rules of thought

I have recently started thinking about thinking, and more specifically, where does our way of thinking come from? It seems, that across boarders and geographical boundaries, our western culture has spread far enough to make sure we all think along similar lines. Of course, we don’t think the same things, we don’t even think the same ways, yet the rules guiding our thoughts appear to be very similar across the planet. These rules are so deeply embedded in us, they are so unconscious that we are not even aware of using them, or letting them rule our thinking. So, what are they, and where did they come from??

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The Unconscious: Friend or Foe?!

Since the beginning of time, different roles have been given to the unconscious in different cultures. Of course, all this changed with the advent of one coke sniffing therapist from Vienna, and suddenly the unconscious was bad, very bad indeed. Add another 80 years, and suddenly, we are told that the unconscious decides things for us a few milliseconds before we are consciously aware of it. Damn, does that mean that evil thing is now also running my life…RATS! Add another 5 years, and more research appears suggesting the opposite…that the unconscious only decides things for us in simple motor tests…phew! saved by the bell there. But hold on, there is another piece of research that might just blow your mind….

Read more about the Unconscious Mind