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9 Powerful Quotes from Osho That Will Blow Your Mind Wide Open

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Like many of the readers of this blog, I’m a huge fan of Osho for his pragmatic wisdom about how to live an inspired life full of purpose.

Many spiritual teachers preach the importance of living a life of joy and happiness. Osho understands the importance of this, but he deploys his wisdom what I consider to be a much more pragmatic way.

He encourages us to face up to our dark side and live a life full of truth and honesty. He understands that the truth comes from within and not from scriptures or what your friends think.

Here are my 9 all time favorite quotes by Osho. Each one has been selected for the specific message it delivers, with the lesson shared resonating deeply in my life.

I hope you get as much fulfillment out of these quotes as I did putting them together.

The answers to live are found in wonder and awe

“Remain in wonder if you want the mysteries to open up for you. Mysteries never open up for those who go on questioning. Questioners sooner or later end up in a library. Questioners sooner or later end up with scriptures, because scriptures are full of answers.
And answers are dangerous, they kill your wonder.”
— Osho

The gift of life is being alive

“Just being alive is such a gift, but nobody ever told you to be thankful to existence. On the contrary, everyone was grumpy, complaining. Naturally, if everything surrounding your life from the very beginning goes on pointing out to you that you are not what you should be, goes on giving you great ideals that you have to follow and you have to become, your isness is never praised. What is praised is your future – if you can become someone respectable, powerful, rich, intellectual, in some way famous, not just a nobody.”
— Osho

Group think sends you astray

“Crowds create illusions.”
— Osho

What matters is what’s inside

“I give a fuck if you’re a damn Jew, or a Serbo-Kroat, an American or the devil knows what! – What are your human qualities, if I may ask? – Are you honest? Do you treat your family and friends lovingly and with respect? Are you happy? Or do you exploit other human beings, in order to silence your frustration with the filthy lucre?”
— Osho

Act with courage and take risks

“Those who are courageous, go headlong. They search all opportunities of danger. Their life philosophy is not that of insurance companies. Their life philosophy is that of a mountain climber, a glider, a surfer. And not only in the outside seas they surf; they surf in their innermost seas. And not only on the outside they climb Alps and Himalayas; they seek inner peaks. But remember one thing: never forget the art of risking— never, never. Always remain capable of risking. Wherever you can find an opportunity to risk, never miss it, and you will never be a loser. Risk is the only guarantee for being truly alive.”
— Osho

There’s enlightenment in repentance

“Repentance can become a very, very deep phenomenon in you if you understand the responsibility. Then even a small thing, if it becomes a repentance– not just verbal, not just on the surface; if it goes deep to the roots, if you repent from the roots; if your whole being shakes and trembles and cries, and tears come out; not only out of your eyes but out of every cell of your body, then repentance can become a transfiguration.”
— Osho

Problems are part of your mindset

“You don’t have any problems — only this much has to be understood. This very moment you can drop all problems. because they are your creations. Have another look at your problems: the deeper you look, the smaller they will appear. Go on looking at them and by and by they will start disappearing. Go on gazing and suddenly you will find there is emptiness — a beautiful emptiness surrounds you. Nothing to do, nothing to be, because you are already that.”
— Osho

You are gods who have forgotten who they are

“If you know your being, there is no question of becoming. All that you could have ever imagined to become you already are. You are gods who have forgotten who they are. You are emperors who have fallen asleep and are dreaming that they have become beggars. Now beggars are trying to become emperors, in dreams they are making great efforts to become emperors, and all that is needed is to wake up!” Osho”
— Osho

It’s okay to know that you don’t know

“Belief is in ignorance. If you know, you know. And it is good that if you don’t know, know that you don’t know — the belief can deceive you. The belief can create an atmosphere in your mind, where, without knowing, you start thinking that you know. Belief is not trust, and the more strongly you say that you believe totally, the more you are afraid of the doubt within you.”
— Osho

Originally published on The Power of Ideas.

5 Myths About Mindfulness and Positive Thinking That We All Need to Stop Believing

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Mindfulness has become increasingly popular in the West, especially since the publication of Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. The problem is that mindfulness has been misinterpreted and a lot of bad ideas are spreading quickly in our contemporary culture.

The term “mindfulness” is a translation of the Pali term sati, originally coming from Buddhist traditions. The movement of mindfulness concepts to the West has resulted in some false and dangerous ideas taking hold.

To be clear, this article is about how mindfulness has been misinterpreted and takes issue with the bad ideas that have been generated from the popularity of mindfulness. We have no problem with practices of mindfulness when interpreted correctly, as many of the articles on this blog will attest to.

However, when mindfulness is used as an excuse to detach from reality, we see the implications as dangerous both for the personal development of individuals and society at large.

Here are 5 common misconceptions that have arisen resulting from the popularity of mindfulness, along with how to correct them.

1) Ignore The Negative

It’s common to assert that you “give energy” to something that is bad for you simply by paying attention to it and becoming aware of it. Therefore, you need to avoid thinking or talking about anything that is “negative”.

Correction: Seeing the negative for what it is gives you the clarity of seeing the reality in a situation. This empowers you to mitigate against its harmful effects. Refusing to look at important information simply because it makes you feel bad is choosing to remain in a state of ignorance, which is actually remaining “unconscious”.

2) Never Get Angry

I often hear people argue that anger is something you need to overcome or let go of completely. Anger is seen as “negative”, and we are urged to replace it with feelings of peace, love and light.

Correction: Avoiding your feelings of anger results in apathy and passivity to the injustices happening in the world today and in your life. Anger shouldn’t be shut out. Instead, it needs to be channeled productively. Righteous indignation can be a major motivation to create positive change in the world and in your life.

3) There Is No Right And Wrong

Another common and widespread misconception is that there is no such thing as right or wrong because it is “dualistic” and therefore invalid. Rather, every situation should just be accepted.

Correction: This way of thinking is known as moral relativism and it can be dangerous. It results in people feeling justified in failing to take responsibility for their actions (or inactivity) and the effects this has on others. We live in times of injustice, violence and suffering, and anyone who claims that things are the way they are because of a “divine plan” are delusional and negating how important our actions are in this reality.

It is common for people to create stories of what is right and wrong based on what is easy for them and what is most comfortable for them. However, negating notions of right and wrong give people an easy way out and result in illusions clouding their thinking.

4) There Is No Truth; Perception = Reality

This is a common idea in the contemporary era. Many people say that you can never know the ultimate truth about the reality we live in. You’ll hear it spoken about in mantras such as “perception is reality”.

Correction: While the idea of “perception = reality” makes for interesting philosophical speculation, committing to the idea of truth is what has created such incredible progress in recent centuries. That’s how authority goes back to the people, and claims that slavery or women’s disempowerment are natural can be challenged and weighed up against objective notions of truth.

The ultimate truth of our reality may be beyond the limitations of the human mind. But the commitment to truth is what anchors our perceptions and provides the grounding for us to make changes in this world.

5) What You Resist Persists… So Don’t Resist

Another very common belief in the new age movement is that you should let go of resistance to whatever is happening in your life. You simply need to apply techniques of mindfulness to whatever is causing you issues in your life.

Correction: You can either avoid dealing with whatever issue in your life is causing you resistance, or you can face up to it and do the work in changing the conditions of your life.

Facing up to resistance doesn’t necessarily mean directly confronting what is causing feelings of resistance. It may mean changing your inner relationship with the resistance.

However, avoiding the feelings won’t do anything to create positive change.

Conclusion

Mindfulness has a lot of positives to it, but can become dangerous when it promotes misunderstandings, misconceptions and delusional dogmas that prevent you from facing up to reality.

True spirituality includes being responsible, mindful of your actions and standing up for notions of what’s right and just.

If you haven’t checked it out already, we highly recommend the following course in order to put into practice many of the tips we share with our readers at The Power of Ideas.

It’s a foundation course for Neuro Linguistic Programming, which is an approach to going deep within your psyche and understanding the power of your unconscious mind.

The instructor is Matthew Barnett and the reviews of the course are excellent. You can check out the course here: NLP Foundations Skills – NLP Certification

Originally published on The Power of Ideas.

The Dalai Lama Reveals How You Can Discover the True Nature of Reality

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Have you ever wondered about the true nature of reality? Is everything an illusion or is it real?

The Dalai Lama, as one of the world’s most influential spiritual teachers, has thought deeply about this question.

He has shared with us a simple path for figuring it out and experiencing it for yourself.

The eight mundane concerns to let go of

The first step is to understand that there are eight mundane concerns that tend to dominate our lives. They are:

  • becoming elated when someone praises you;
  • becoming depressed when someone insults or belittles you;
  • feeling happy when you experience success;
  • being depressed when you experience failure;
  • being joyful when you acquire wealth;
  • feeling dispirited when you become poor;
  • being pleased when you have fame; and
  • feeling depressed when you lack recognition.

Someone seeking enlightenment into the true nature of reality should ensure that they are not being defiled by these thoughts.

By letting go of your attachment to these kinds of thoughts, you end up transforming your mind in very powerful ways.

Be glad when someone belittles you

As the Dalai Lama says:

“May I be gladdened when someone belittles me, and may I not take pleasure when someone praises me. If I do take pleasure in praise then it immediately increases my arrogance, pride, and conceit; whereas if I take pleasure in criticism, then at least it will open my eyes to my own shortcomings.”

This is indeed a powerful sentiment.

He continues:

“And may I, recognizing all things as illusion, devoid of clinging, be released from bondage.”

In the Buddhist teachings on the ultimate nature of reality, there are two significant time periods to consider:

  1. The actual meditation on emptiness.
  2. The period subsequent to the meditative session when you engage actively with the real world.

In the Dalai Lama’s view:

“Sometimes people have the idea that what really matters is single-pointed meditation on emptiness within the meditative session. They pay much less attention to how this experience should be applied in post-meditation periods. However, I think the post-meditation period is very important. The whole point of meditating on the ultimate nature of reality is to ensure that you are not fooled by appearances can often be deluding. With a deeper understanding of reality, you can go beyond appearances and relate to the world in a much more appropriate, effective, and realistic manner.”

He continues:

“The illusion-like nature of things can only be perceived if you have freed yourself from attachment to phenomena as independent discrete entities. Once you have succeeded in freeing yourself from such attachment, the perception of the illusion-like nature of reality will automatically arise. Whenever things appear to you, although they appear to have an independent or objective existence, you will know as a result of your meditation that this is not really the case. You will be aware that things are not as substantial and solid as they seem. The term ‘illusion’ therefore points to the disparity between how you perceive things and how they really are.”

Originally published at The Power of Ideas.

The Dalai Lama Reveals Exactly What We Need in the Age of Fake News

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As the spiritual leader of Tibetan Buddhism and leader of the Tibetan government in exile for half a century, the Dalai Lama has well considered views of the kind of government that is most appropriate for the flourishing of human nature.

For the Dalai Lama, the “truth is the best guarantor and the real foundation of freedom and democracy.” In an age of fake news and echo chambers online, this is a welcome idea to be shared.

The Dalai Lama says that “many successful freedom movements have been based on the true expression of people’s most basic feelings.”

The most successful movements are based on truth

The Dalai Lama greets Norwegian school children, prior a meeting in Oslo Tuesday, May 23, 2000. The Dalai Lama arrived on May 22, for a two day visit to Norway. (AP Photo/Cornelius Poppe/Scanpix)

His words are a valuable reminder that truth itself is still seriously lacking in much of our political life.

There’s more when it comes to truth:

“Especially in the conduct of international relations we pay very little respect to truth. Inevitably, weaker nations are manipulated and oppressed by stronger ones, just as the weaker sections of most societies suffer at the hands of the more affluent and powerful.”

He’s had experience with this considering the nature of China’s occupation of Tibet. His words also apply to the United States and Russia, which have each occupied nations in the Middle East and Central Asia over the last decade.

Global politics requires love and compassion

On the nature global politics, the Dalai Lama says the following:

“The world has grown smaller and the world’s people have become almost one community… I believe that to meet the challenge of our times, human beings will have to develop a greater sense of universal responsibility.”

He continues:

“Each of us must learn to work not just for his or her own self, family or nation, but for the benefit of all humankind. Universal responsibility is the real key to human survival. It is the best foundation for world peace, the equitable use of natural resources, and the proper care of the environment.”

This urgent need for cooperation is sorely needed given the challenges we face. The Dalai Lama recognizes “that the most secure foundation for the new world order is not simply broader political and economic alliances, but each individual’s genuine practice of love and compassion.”

Here’s the key point:

“These qualities are the ultimate source of human happiness, and our need for them lies at the very core of our being. The practice of compassion is not just a symptom of unrealistic idealism, but the most effective way to pursue the best interests of others as well our own. The more we – as nations or as individuals – depend upon others, the more it is in our own best interests to ensure their well-being.”

Originally published on The Power of Ideas.

Science and Buddhism Agree: There Is No “You” Out There

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Neuroscience has long been interested in Buddhism since the late 1980s, when the Mind and Life Institute was created by HH Dalai Lama and a team of scientists.

Those studies showed what monks have known for thousands of years – if you train the mind, you can change the brain.

Now in a new research study, Evan Thompson of the University of British Columbia has verified the Buddhist belief of anatta, or not-self.

What does anatta mean?

Anatta is the teaching that there is no consistent self. It is a delusion to believe that we are the same moment to moment. According to Buddhist scripture, “there is in humans no permanent, underlying substance that can be called the soul.” This is one of the three characteristics of all existence, together with dukkha (suffering, unsatisfactoriness) and anicca (impermanence).

In a recent study, Thompson also found that the “the brain and body is constantly in flux. There is nothing that corresponds to the sense that there’s an unchanging self.”

What does this mean practically for us?

This is an incredibly liberating concept to embrace. If we are constantly changing, constantly evolving, then you don’ have to take everything so personally. Your thoughts don’t define you. You don’t have to have a set idea of who you are.

Through this concept, we can grow and change with the help of neuroplasticity. If you have bad habits, or something about your “self” you don’t like, you’re not stuck with them. Self-limiting beliefs aren’t real and can change.

Neuroscience and Buddhism: A match made in heaven?

Perhaps there will more eastern thoughts that are backed up by science in the future. But as the Dalai Lama says “Suppose that something is definitely proven through scientific investigation. … Suppose that that fact is incompatible with Buddhist theory. There is no doubt that we must accept the result of the scientific research.”

Hearing a pro-science stance from a religious leader is a relief to many. It seems Buddhism and neuroscience may have similar goals: To understand the mind better so that we can be less miserable and more happy. Now that’s a goal I think we can all get behind!

Originally published at The Power of Ideas.

Bruce Lee’s Previously Undiscovered Writings on How to Live a Fulfilling and Successful Life

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Bruce Lee was much more than a martial arts expert and movie star. He was also a Zen philosopher, and some consider him one of the most influential people of the 20th century.

Recently, one of his “pocketbooks” was discovered, which has given us a chance to delve more deeply into the mind of Bruce Lee.

He used this notepad to jot down important ideas about how to live life, along with how he was constructing his mind to live a life of success and prosperity.

Here it is in his own handwriting, and we’ve transcribed it below.

Source: Bruce Lee Foundation

WILL POWER: —

Recognizing that the power of will is the supreme court over all other departments of my mind, I will exercise it daily, when I need the urge to action for any purpose; and I will form HABIT designed to bring the power of my will into action at least once daily.

EMOTION: —

Realizing that my emotions are both POSITIVE and negative I will form daily HABITS which will encourage the development of the POSITIVE EMOTIONS, and aid me in converting the negative emotions into some form of useful action.

REASON: —

Recognizing that both my positive & negative emotions may be dangerous if they are not controlled and guided to desirable ends, I will submit all my desires, aims and purposes to my faculties of reason, and I will be guided by it in giving expression to these.

IMAGINATION: —

Recognizing the need for sound PLANS and IDEAS for the attainment of my desires, I will develop my imagination by calling upon it daily for help in the formation of my plans.

MEMORY: —

Recognizing the value of an alert memory, I will encourage mine to become alert by taking care to impress it clearly with all thoughts I wish to recall, and by associating those thoughts with related subjects which I may call to mind frequently.

SUBCONSCIOUS MIND: —

Recognizing the influence of my subconscious mind over my power of will, I shall take care to submit to it a clear and definite picture of my CLEAR PURPOSE in life and all minor purposes leading to my major purpose, and I shall keep this picture CONSTANTLY BEFORE my subconscious mind by REPEATING IT DAILY.

CONSCIENCE: —

Recognizing that my emotions often err in their over-enthusiasm, and my faculty of reason often is without the warmth of feeling that is necessary to enable me to combine justice with mercy in my judgments, I will encourage my conscience to guide me as to what is right & what is wrong, but I will never set aside the verdicts it renders, no matter what may be the cost of carrying them out.

He also wrote down his method for utilizing the above principles:

Source: Bruce Lee Foundation

I know that I have the ability to ACHIEVE the object of my DEFINITE PURPOSE in life; therefore I DEMAND of myself persistent, continuous action toward its attainment, and I here and now promise to render such action.

I realize the DOMINATING THOUGHTS of my mind will eventually reproduce themselves in outward, physical action, and gradually transform themselves into physical reality; therefore I will CONCENTRATE my thoughts for 30 min. daily upon the task of thinking of the person I intend to become, thereby creating in my mind a clear MENTAL PICTURE.

I know through the principle of autosuggestion, any desire that I PERSISTENTLY hold will eventually seek expression through some practical means of attaining the object back of it; therefore, I will devote 10 min. daily to DEMANDING of myself the development of SELF-CONFIDENCE.

I have clearly written down a description of my DEFINITE CHIEF AIM in life, and I will never stop trying until I shall have developed sufficient self-confidence for its attainment.

We also uncovered 10 principles to live life by, put together by Bruce Lee.

1. You will never get any more out of life than you expect

2. Keep your mind on the things you want and off those you don’t

3. Things live by moving and gain strength as they go

4. Be a calm beholder of what is happening around you

5. There is a difference a) the world b) our reaction to it

6. Be aware of our conditioning! Drop and dissolve inner blockage

7. Inner to outer ~~~ we start by dissolving our attitude not by altering outer condition

8. See that there is no one to fight, only an illusion to see through

9. No one can hurt you unless you allow him to

10. Inwardly, psychologically, be a nobody

Originally published at The Power of Ideas.

The One Mindfulness Technique That Will Improve Your Conversations Forever

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Listening seems like a natural skill that we all can do, however not everyone remains present the whole time someone is talking. In fact, our minds tend to wander when someone else talking and many of us start to think of our response.

Our emotions can also interfere with our ability to listen. Sometimes many of us misinterpret what someone is saying because we think that they saying something hurtful or uncalled for. Thanks to evolution our mind is always looking for threats.

That’s why a technique called ‘mindful listening’ is the ultimate remedy. It encourages us to take a step back from our preconceived notions and focus fully on what the person is saying without judging them.

Here are 4 ways to practice mindful listening:

The Art of Mindful Listening

1) Are you preparing your answer before they’ve finished talking?

The first bad habit you need to catch yourself doing is when you prepare your answer before they’ve finished speaking. Many of us do this naturally because we want to avoid an awkward silence.

Instead, try to be more spontaneous and take your time when you decide to speak. Just focus on their words and what they’re actually saying without judging and when it’s your turn to speak, take your time and let the words come to you.

2) Getting distracted

This is a big one, especially when we find ourselves a little bored in the conversation. Our minds wander all the time. It’s almost natural. Instead, use mindfulness and try to focus on the present moment.

Focus on the words they are speaking and when your mind drifts, simply return your focus back to what they are saying. It’s a great mindfulness practice to consistently do every day.

3) Stop judging

When we listen to others speak, we naturally put labels and judgments on what they’re saying. Instead, try to catch yourself when you do so and put an end to it. Just let your mind take the words in without putting a judgment on them.

4) Don’t try to achieve anything

When we have a conversation, we tend to want a certain outcome to occur. This can mean that everything we hear we attach our preconceived notions about how we things should do. The result? We’re not truly listening to what the other person is saying. Let go of having an end result and simply “be” in the conversation. Not only will you enjoy the conversation, but you’ll probably get more out of it too.

If you implement these 4 tips in your daily conversations, you’ll become more likable, friendly and better able learn from every conversation you have.

Originally published on Hack Spirit.

8 Profound Lessons From the Dalai Lama That Will Change Your Perspective on Life

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It’s not often that Oprah Winfrey is lost for words.

But when she asked The Dalai Lama “Have you ever had to forgive yourself for something?” The Dalai Lama replied, “My attitude towards mosquitoes is not very favorable, not very peaceful. Bed bugs also.”

Oprah was amazed that in a life spanning 78 years that there was nothing to be forgiven for.

Compassion and forgiveness are at the cornerstone of the Dalai Lama’s teachings. Below, we go over some of the Dalai Lama’s most inspiring life lessons, in what has been a remarkable and influential life.

1) Be compassionate

“If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” – Dalai Lama XIV

Not only is showing compassion good for the person you’re being compassionate with, but research has shown that it also results in “giver’s high”.

Research by Ed Diener and Martin Seligman, leading researchers in positive psychology, suggests that showing compassion to others helps us enjoy better mental and physical health and speeds up recovery from disease; furthermore, research by Stephanie Brown, at Stony Brook University, and Sara Konrath, at the University of Michigan, has shown that it may even lengthen our lifespan.

Why?

Because acting compassionately reduces stress, leads to a more regular heart beat and also improves our immune system.

The good news?

We’re ALL capable of compassion. A growing body of evidence suggests that, at our core, both and animals and human beings have a “compassionate instinct”.

2) Be Kind

“This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”  – The Dalai Lama

I think we can all agree that we would prefer to live in a society where people are kind to each other.

Two recent studies suggest that giving to others makes us happy, even happier than spending on ourselves. What’s more, our kindness might create a virtuous cycle that promotes lasting happiness and altruism.

Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible.

3) Find Happiness

“The purpose of our lives is to be happy.” – Dalai Lama

In western society, we’re taught that if we obtain expensive material objects, we will be happy.

But according to The Dalai Lama, this won’t lead to happiness. Instead, compassion, kindness, patience and tolerance will lead to inner peace.

The Dalai Lama explains his philosophy here:

“In this world, all qualities spring from preferring the wellbeing of others to our own, whereas frustrations, confusion, and pain result from selfish attitudes. By adopting an altruistic outlook and by treating others in the way they deserve, our own happiness is assured as a byproduct. We should realize that self-centeredness is the source of all suffering, and that thinking of others is the source of all happiness.”

4) Discover Inner Peace.

“Spend some time alone everyday.” – The Dalai Lama

The Dalai Lama believes that we must spend time alone each day. It’s important to get know yourself and be comfortable with who you are.

Seeking solitude offers many benefits. It allows your brain to unwind, so you can discover yourself and listen to your own inner peace. This is why meditation is seen as so powerful.

A calm mind is your source of happiness.

5) Do No Harm

“Our prime purpose in this life is to help others. And if you can’t help them, at least don’t hurt them.” – Dalai Lama

Start thinking about how you’re treating other people. No one deserves to be intentionally put down. A good rule of thumb is to aim to make someone happier from the time they met you.

Dalai Lama says that this is where we can learn from children:

“Look at children. Of course they may quarrel, but generally speaking they do not harbor ill feelings as much or as long as adults do. Most adults have the advantage of education over children, but what is the use of an education if they show a big smile while hiding negative feelings deep inside? Children don’t usually act in such a manner. If they feel angry with someone, they express it, and then it is finished. They can still play with that person the following day.”

6) Nurture your friendships.

“We can live without religion and meditation, but we cannot survive without human affection.” – The Dalai Lama

Your close relationships are one of the most important sources of happiness, so make sure you give them the time they deserve. In fact, a 68 year Harvard study found that relationships are the most important factor when it comes to happiness.

Keep in mind that real friendships never depend on money or material objects, but instead thrive on trust, love and openness.

7) Don’t argue or fight, just negotiate.

“Non-violence means dialogue, using our language, the human language. Dialogue means compromise; respecting each other’s rights; in the spirit of reconciliation there is a real solution to conflict and disagreement. There is no hundred percent winner, no hundred percent loser—not that way but half-and-half. That is the practical way, the only way.” – The Dalai Lama

Whether it’s a disagreement with your boss, or a family member, getting angry and acting rashly won’t help anyone.

Instead, let’s take a step back and consider each other’s points of view so we come to a compromise and achieve real progress.

8) You can do whatever you put your mind to

“Every human being has the same potential. Whatever makes you feel “I am worthless” is wrong. Absolutely wrong. You are deceiving yourself. We all have the power of thought, so what could you possibly be lacking? If you have the willpower, then you can do anything.” ― Dalai Lama

You can’t really put it better than that. If you have the motivation and willpower, you can do anything.

Originally published on Ideapod’s blog, The Power of Ideas.

Neuroscience and Buddhism Agree: Consciousness is Everywhere

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A new theory in neuroscience suggests consciousness is an intrinsic property of everything, just like gravity.

The theory, called Integrated Information Theory, states that consciousness appears in physical systems that contain many different and highly interconnected pieces of information. Based on that hypothesis, consciousness can be measured as a theoretical quantity, which the researchers call phi.

The theory treats consciousness as an intrinsic, fundamental property of reality.

Buddhists have a similar belief in what we in the West call ‘panpsychism’ — the belief that consciousness is everywhere and that we have to reduce the suffering of all conscious creatures.

The idea of universal consciousness, is a prominent thought in Buddhism. And it has been largely dismissed by modern science — until recently.

There are already pressing and practical needs for a way to measure consciousness. Doctors could use phi to tell if a person in a vegetative state is effectively dead, how much awareness a person with dementia has, when a foetus develops consciousness, how much animals perceive, or even whether a computer can feel.

This is perhaps the more urgent task with the birth of computer intelligence. We need to be able to answer the question of whether a machine is conscious. Does it feel anything? If so, what rights does it have? What will be our ethical obligations towards it?

These may seem arcane questions, but as machine intelligence gets more sophisticated we’ll need to have a rigorous ethical framework to answer these questions. Integrated Information Theory may just offer us this approach.

For a perspective on how systems can acquire consciousness, see the idea on Ideapod, If Consciousness Emerges From Physical Systems, It Will Emerge From Artificial Systems Too. There’s a flourishing conversation happening around the post.

Originally published on The Power of Ideas, Ideapod’s blog.

Tibetan Buddhist Master Reveals the Best Mindfulness Technique For Training Your Monkey Mind

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As someone who has meditated almost daily for three years, there are some misconceptions I’m continually confronted with. So many people believe they uniquely can’t meditate because their mind spins too much when they try to stop thinking.

Tibetan Buddhist master Mingyur Rinpoche wants to put this misconception to rest in the video below:

You are able to meditate anytime, anywhere. The key is to simply focus on what’s happening inside your head. Instead of blocking the thoughts and emotions that arise when you meditate, instead lean into what Rinpoche calls your “monkey mind”. This is the constant chattering inside your head.

The best way to lean into your monkey mind is to simply be aware of your breath. “As long as you don’t forget your breath, anything is okay,” Rinpoche said. “[You don’t] need too much concentration. Just simply be aware of your breath.”

This was the advice offered to me when I was told how to meditate. It’s important not to judge yourself or the thoughts that arise. Instead, just observe them and stick with the breathing, or mantra, or whatever you’re using to meditate.

As spiritual master Osho explains in the below quote, the technique described above are great tools that will eventually train your mind to be in the moment more often as time goes on. Osho puts it brilliantly:

“Meditation is a quality of being that you bring to the act. It is not a particular act, it is not that you do this then it is meditation – that you sit in a certain posture, siddhasana, and you keep your spine erect, and you keep your eyes closed or you look at the tip of your nose or you watch your breath, then it is meditation – no, these are just devices for the beginners…

“Do you know that the words meditation and medicine come from the same root? Meditation is a kind of medicine; its use is only for the time being. Once you have learned the quality, then you need not do any particular meditation, then the meditation has to spread all over your life. Only when you are meditative twenty-four hours a day then can you attain, then you have attained. Even sleeping is meditation.”

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Meditation has been a hot topic on Ideapod, with many constructive ideas being shared on the benefits. Ideapod co-founder Mark Bakacs suggested meditation should be used in schools. Josiah Hultgren wrote about meditation reducing your need for sleep. Lachlan emphasizes the science behind meditation.

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Originally published on Ideapod’s blog, The Power of Ideas.