Sunday, March 17, 2013

don't force, just be clear

In the Beginning there is Fog
Picture kindly provided by h.koppdelaney

It was another Friday night where Ben the Buddhist, Aron the Atheist and Chris the Catholic were playing cards at the Red Checked Table Conscious cafe.

Aron started a conversation, 'Tell me dear sir Lama, how do I get of my negative habits and replace them with positive habits?'

Ben replied to him 'Unfortunately contemplating on avoiding negative habits only just reinforces them, just lets try a small exercise if you don't mind...right now I am going to tell you not to think about a big pink elephant in the room with a rather large pink bow tie, can you see if you can stop your mind from picturing such a ridiculous thought?'

Aron looked up at the ceiling, looked down on the floor, then burst out laughing 'its absurd, i would not even think of such an animal especially wearing a pink bow tie, yet when you tell me not to do it, it just appears...'

Ben replied 'Suppression is usually only temporary, it does not work in the long term, its sort of like cutting off the branches of the tree, but leaving the trunk and roots, eventually the branches grow back, one has to instead change the fundamental attitude'

Chris the Christian interceded curiously 'So how do we change then our attitudes then, dear sir Lama?'

Ben paused, thought...'Well, I think its about clarity personally...having clarity of the values you would like to embody, and having clarity on purpose, be it on the task at hand, be it on what you want out of life, and what you want to  give back in life.  Anything that is not in line with the core values or purpose is discarded '

Aron said 'Does not clarity work the other way too, like Hitler, he was very clear about his values and purpose too, don't you think!'

Ben replied 'Absolutely, values and purpose are like a sharp scalpel, it can be good or bad.  It can be used to do enormous harm, and it can be used for enormous good, however harm begets harm, good begets good, suffering begets more suffering, compassion begets much more compassion'

Chris exclaims 'So how then to get rid of bad thought patterns, it does sound almost impossible?'

Ben replied 'Well  if you have clarity on what is right, what is wrong, what is your purpose, action will follow automatically, here you are not forcing yourself, but you are shaping the type of person you want to be, form follows the function of your values and purpose or the lack of it...the thing with most people they try to lead with the action first that is impossible, its like the cart pulling the horse!'

'Gees I never thought of that like that before' Chris replied.  'Do you mind sharing with me how do you become clear on your values and your purpose.'

Ben replies 'Well there are many ways but its always centers on reminding ourselves constantly, you can remind yourself in many ways, but constant contemplation and reflection is always required, I like to remind myself by writing blogs, teaching Qi Gong, and helping where i can where anyone needs some help, I find it works for me'

Aron said 'Seem to make a lot of sense, its sort of like just changing the input side of the equation, without worrying about the output side of the equation, it seems it would be a lot easier to do, I am going to give it a try'

'Exactly!' said Ben with a high five to Aron.  To that they continued with the regular card game on a Friday night...

Thursday, March 7, 2013

the red checked table conscious cafe

Picture Red & White Checked by Enokson
The 'Red Checked Conscious Cafe' is unlike now other cafe you would ever see. It is a vegan cafe that serves organic dim sum, brown rice sushi and an assortment of fine teas and organic coffee.

The restaurant used to be called the 'Red Checked Table Steakhouse'.  Ben the Buddhist took over after the restaurant when it went out of business, when asked by one of his customers why the original restaurant name was kept.  To this Ben the Buddhist answered:

'See the restaurant has its own unique character, the red and white tiles, matching retro old style tables and chairs, red cabinets...rather than change the essence of the place, I simply took away what was was not to its true character, stripping it down to its bare red and white nature.  I just removed away the clutter that was interfering with the natural beauty and simplicity of this place.

See when you get rid of the clutter, people automatically start feeling at ease, because people's mind are generally full of the clutter of wayward thoughts, it seems people want this subconsciously, much of meditation and a change in attitude simplifies the thoughts patterns of the mind leading to what is beyond the thoughts namely our true essence or original Buddha nature.

Then I  added elements of nature carefully complementing the empty space, like the Buddha statue in the front as you come in covered with a purple ivy creeping up the Buddha's body.  The Buddha is in the middle of a small sand and rock garden complete with a few miniature rakes that everyone, especially kids so much like rearranging the now and then.

In Zen much care is given to stripping away what is not necessary, but keeping only what is necessary, and augmenting what is there with empty space and elements of nature.

I also think of it symbolically, the Buddha represents our timeless nature, the ivy represents the actions that stem from our Buddha nature, the sand and rocks garden and the rake represent the temporary nature of our thoughts and actions, red represent passion, white represent compassion, see one must live life with passion for a rightful living but also equally with compassion for all that is living'