Friday, April 24, 2015


The Perfect Way knows no difficulties except that it refuses to make preferences; Only when freed from hate and love, It reveals itself fully and without disguise.
A tenth of an inch's difference, and heaven and earth are set apart; 
If you wish to see it before your own eyes, have no fixed thoughts either for or against it. To set up what you like against what you dislike, this is the disease of the mind: When the deep meaning [of the Way] is not understood, peace of mind is disturbed to no purpose.                         “On Believing in Mind” by the Third Chinese Patriarch of Zen     - Translated by D. T. Suzuki
Much of the time we human beings are trying to make our experience “good” and not “bad.” There is perfect sense in this. For example, we should get out of the sun when we feel it is too hot so we don’t get sunburned or have heat stroke. Our body sends us messages constantly that this hurts, that tastes good, etc. and it does this for a very good reason: survival.  But if our life only revolves around making ourselves feel good, we start shrinking from a spiritual standpoint.
One of the things that meditation as a non-dual practice helps us to do more skillfully is to learn to be with our experience AS IT IS, without the overlay of reactions of aversion, clinging or zoning out. Buddhism develops this practice in spades. A core teaching of Buddhism is that we experience unnecessary suffering because we resist “bad” experiences, hold onto “good” experiences and space out when experience is neutral (“boring”).
When we meditate, the “goal” is to have no goal. Not to set up anything (even great enlightenment) as the desired endpoint. Otherwise, we keep ourselves trapped in dualistic thinking where one thing is desirable (good) and another is undesirable (bad.) But this goes so counter to our usual way of relating to our life and, frankly, is a very hard sell in our culture of “every day getting better in every way.”
best wishes, Robert Cornell

Wednesday, April 8, 2015


As I write this, I am experiencing a bad cold: sinus congestion, copious sneezing, sore throat, and an achy feeling running through my body. In practicing being with it, as it is, my sneezing subsides, and I am aware of the achiness from a non -judgmental, non resisting place. Interestingly enough, from this place, the ache doesn’t seem “bad. ” Yes, it has a certain intensity, but the achy feeling has no hard edge produced  by resistance to it. I could say from this vantage point I am not suffering - meaning I’m not adding any judgment or resistance to the normal experience of having a cold.

 When we are experiencing something painful, it is so common for us to complain, judge the experience as bad and to resist experiencing it by tensing up our body and trying to distract ourselves. Some of this is innocent enough: we watch TV, we listen to music, etc. so as to not be so aware of what we are feeing. And other attempts are more likely to do us harm - when we take heavy doses of pain killers or anti anxiety medications to not feel the pain or anxiety. In the long run, heavy medication and avoidance do not let us befriend our experience just as it is.

 I don’t mean that we should be masochists and not take medication when it is too much to bear. It’s learning to befriend our pain when it comes to us as it inevitably will as long as we have a body. It’s learning to tolerate the shaky, vulnerable feeling of being present with our experience in the moment, just as it is. If we are control freaks in some way, this is what we strive at all costs to avoid. So letting go means letting be – it’s as simple as that. Simple but not necessarily easy!