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Inspirational Quotes from Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki

Shunryu Suzuki was a Japanese-born Zen Monk who came to America in the 1959.

Already a respected Zen master in Japan, he was impressed by the seriousness and quality of “beginner’s mind” among Americans he met who were interested in Zen and decided to settle here. Inititally, he’d come to serve the Japanese immigrants in San Francisco but found their practice more superficial, and the Westerners more eager to learn meditation. As more and more people of non-Japanese background joined him in meditation, the San Fransisco Zen Center came into being and he was its first abbot. 

Suzuki died in 1971.


“Treat every moment as your last. It is not preparation for something else.” 


“If your mind is empty, it is always ready for anything, it is open to everything. In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ”


“Where-ever you are, you are one with the clouds and one with the sun and the stars you see. You are one with everything. That is more true than I can say, and more true than you can hear.”


“Nothing we see or hear is perfect. But right there in the imperfection is perfect reality.” 


“I discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something which has no form and no color–something which exists before all forms and colors appear… No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea.” 


Shunryu Suzuki Speaks on Enlightenment and Zazen Practice

Shunryu Suzuki Teachings

Commentaries on the Masters of Meditation: Quote of the Day:

From:         Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind
Author:       Shunryu Suzuki
Chapter:     Nothing Special  Pages 47 – 49
Publisher:   Weatherhill

Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki explains…

“It is kind of mystery that for people who have no experience of enlightenment, enlightenment is something wonderful.  But if they attain it, it is nothing.  But yet it is not nothing.  Do you understand?  For a mother with children, having children is nothing special.  That is zazen.  So, if you continue this practice, more and more you will acquire something – nothing special, but nevertheless something.  You may say “universal nature” or “Buddha nature” or “enlightenment.”  You may call is by many names, but for the person who has it, it is nothing, and it is something.”


…”While you are continuing this practice, week after week, year after year, your experience will become deeper and deeper, and your experience will cover everything you do in your everyday life.  The most important thing is to forget all gaining ideas, all dualistic ideas.  In other words, just practice zazen in a certain posture.  Do not think about anything.  Then eventually you will resume your own true nature.  That is to say, your own true nature resumes itself.”

Relax and let things happen naturally.  That is the essence of what Master Suzuki is saying above.  As you continue with your meditation practice, on its own, unexpectedly enlightenment will gently blossom.  Nothing more is needed except earnestness.  Sincerely continue on, without contributing to gaining ideas and dualistic ideas.  This is the core of Zen and the core of Advaita Vendanta.  Don’t contribute to reward oriented thinking and don’t contribute to ego-centric thinking.  In other words, don’t let behavior betray belief.  Live as much as possible as if all is One.  If you see yourself as a separate person, you will see lots of separate people, but if you see all as just a part of you (or everything as just an expression of the Universal Oneness) then that dramatically changes the scenery.  Don’t emphasize the ego or chase results, instead just reside as a detached witness, silently watching everything play itself out.  At the end everything will take its natural place.  The person that you think you are will go about his or her life spontaneously and the Oneness will be where your awareness is established – that is true zazen.


Zen Mind – The Secret to Living in the Now


How to Live in the Present

In the article, What is Zen, we went into understanding the source of Zen Buddhism and understanding what Zen is not.  We also discussed that the objective of Zen was to see the false sense of dualistic reality and that Zazen and mindful living were the means to the emergence of this enlightened state, or Zen Mind.

As I also mentioned, I will be discussing more about Zen and it’s profound and effective approach to life and here in this article I will continue that discussion.

You have heard the catch phrases of enlightenment many times, phrases such as “Go with the flow”, “Let go completely”, “Live Spontaneously”, “Live in your natural state”, “Live in the now”, etc, etc.  These ways of living can be called having the Zen Mind and these are certainly words of wisdom, but how do we get there?  In fact where do we even start from?  This is explained by Zen Master, Shunryu Suzuki in the following excerpt.

Zen Mind

Understanding Zen Mind:

Book: Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Author: Shunryu Suzuki

I discovered that it is necessary, absolutely necessary, to believe in nothing. That is, we have to believe in something which has no form and no color – something which exists before all forms and color appear.  This is a very important point.  No matter what god or doctrine you believe in, if you become attached to it, your belief will be based more or less on a self-centered idea.  You strive for a perfect faith in order to save yourself.  But it will take time to attain such a perfect faith.  You will be involved in an idealistic practice.  In constantly seeking to actualize your ideal, you will have no time for composure.  But if you are always prepared for accepting everything we see as something appearing from nothing, knowing there is some reason why a phenomenal existence of such and such form appears, then at that moment you will have perfect composure.

He goes on the explain with the following practical example…

While you are practicing zazen (zen meditation), you may hear the rain dropping from the roof in the dark.  Later, the wonderful mist will be coming through the big trees, and still later when people start to work, they will see the beautiful mountains.  But some people will be annoyed if they hear the rain while they are lying in their beds in the morning, because they do not know that later they will see the beautiful sun rising form the east.  If our mind is concentrated on ourselves then we will have this kind of worry.  But if we accept ourselves as the embodiment of the truth, of Buddha nature, we will have no worry.  We will think, “Now it is raining, but we don’t know what will happen in the next moment.  By the time we go out it may be a beautiful day, or a stormy day.  Since we don’t know, let’s appreciate the sound of the rain now.”  This kind of attitude is the right attitude.  If you understand yourself as a temporal embodiment of the truth you will have no difficulty whatsoever.  You will appreciate your surroundings, and you will appreciate yourself as a wonderful part of Buddha’s great activity, even in the midst of difficulties. This is our way of life.

Using the Buddhist terminology, we should begin with enlightenment and proceed to practice, then to thinking. Usually thinking is rather self-centered.  In our everyday life our thinking is ninety-nine percent self-centered:  “Why do I have suffering?  Why do I have trouble?”  This kind of thinking is ninety-nine percent of our thinking.  For example, when we start to study science or read a difficult sutra, we very soon become sleepy or drowsy.  But we are always wide awake and very much interested in our self-centered thinking!  But if enlightenment comes first, before thinking, before practice, your thinking and your practice will not be self-centered.  By enlightenment I mean believing in nothing, believing in something which has no form or no color, which is ready to take form or color. This enlightenment is the immutable truth.  It is on this original truth that our activity, our thinking, and our practice should be based.

Zen Mind Analysis:

Our reality, our minds are so crowded with worries, anxieties, ambitions, goals and endless stupid beliefs that there is no space or energy left for peace, love or self-study.  All this endless thinking is, of course, due to our incessant obsession with our tiny lives.  A great way to break free from the grip that this self-centered thinking has on us, is to embrace the unknown.  That is what master Suzuki is hinting at above.

The Zen mind is a mind which is open to tomorrow.  It is not following any predetermined pattern or belief system, but is open to the future, and responsive to the challenge of the present.  Recognizing that the future is unknown to us and so dropping trying to constantly shape it and instead embracing the present completely is what is being suggested.

So free yourself from worrying about the future, trust the Universe, of which you are an integral and inseparable part and let life unfold.  Maintaining such an attitude, having such openness and such courage is the path to peace and freedom.  These are the blessings of a Zen Mind.


What is Zen?

Understanding Zen Practice

Understanding Zen Teachings

Over the next several weeks I would like to explore deeper and further into Zen and Zen Meditation (Zazen), as I feel the teachings from this school can profoundly impact ones life and greatly help one in their spiritual evolution.  Fortunately Zen teachings have been spread far and wide by many recent Zen Masters and so are now more easily accessible to us all.

The 2 zen masters who I would certainly recommend for those looking to understand what Zen is and how to practice it, are Charlotte Joko Beck and Shunryu Suzuki.  The respective books by each that are excellent sources of Zen teachings are Everyday Zen, Love and Work and the classic, Zen Mind Beginner’s Mind.  On the website itself, there are many articles on Zen teachings and techniques, and you can find them in the following category: Zen Buddhism.

The key to understanding Zen, like all profound spiritual approaches, comes from practicing it for oneself, and the heart of Zen practice is Zen Meditation or Zazen.  You will find video and written instructions on how to practice Zazen in the following 2 articles:

Zen Meditation Technique
How to Meditate By Yourself (Zazen Practice)

For those who are new to Zen and looking for an introduction to what this spiritual path is all about, I would like to share the following excerpt from a talk by Zen Master Sheng-yen.  The full excerpt is available on the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Association website.

What is Zen (Chan)?

Chan was first discovered by a prince named Siddhartha Gautama (called Shakyamuni after his enlightenment), who was born in India about 2500 years ago. After he became enlightened and was called a Buddha, he taught us the method to know Chan. This method was transmitted from India to China, and then to Japan. In India it was called dhyana, which is pronounced “Chan” in Chinese, and “Zen” in Japanese. Actually, all three are identical.  Chan has universal and eternal existence. It has no need of any teacher to 
transmit it; what is transmitted by teachers is just the method by which one can 
personally experience this Chan.

Some people mistakenly understand Chan to be some kind of mysterious 
experience; others think that one can attain supernatural powers through the 
experience of Chan. Of course, the process of practicing Chan meditation may 
cause various kinds of strange occurrences on the level of mental and physical 
sensation; and also, through the practice of unifying body and mind, one may be 
able to attain the mental power to control or alter external things. But such 
phenomena, which are looked upon as mysteries of religion, are not the aim of 
Chan practice, because they can only satisfy one’s curiosity or megalomania, 
and cannot solve the actual problems of peoples lives.

Chan starts from the root  of the problem. It does not start with the idea of conquering the external social and material environments, but starts with gaining thorough knowledge of one’s own self.  The moment you know what your self is, this “I” that you now take to be yourself will simultaneously disappear. We call this new knowledge of the notion of self “enlightenment” or “seeing ones basic nature”. This is the beginning of helping you to thoroughly solve real problems. In the end, you will discover that you the individual, together with the whole of existence, are but one totality which cannot be divided.

What is Zen Summary:

Those who are familiar with Advaita Vedanta or the works of other non-dual masters will immediately see the parallels in the teachings.  After all the Truth is the Truth.  The practice is designed to help us see the false nature of dualistic reality and experience the absolute Oneness of Reality.  This enlightened state requires no addition, but subtraction or removal of the false sense of separation that is due to our conditioned thinking.  The approach is that of mindful living and meditation practice (Zazen).  So as I mentioned I will be sharing more on Zen and Zen teachings in the near future, so we can all be free of suffering and realize our true, basic nature.


Anmol’s Experience of Higher Consciousness and Divine Bliss

Altered State of Consciousness

Finding Bliss

In the article Interpreting Spiritual Dreams I discussed how nighttime is a rich opportunity to experience states of higher consciousness and the accompanying bliss these state invariably induce.  Below I share with you my recent experience with supreme consciousness and sheer bliss. 

Experience of Higher Consciousness

Higher Consciousness and Divine Bliss – Anmol’s Journal 

September 11, 2010

Lately, overnight, the blessings of divine consciousness have been briefly taking place, inspiring me to stay focused on the only true purpose of life, integration with Cosmic Consciousness or God.  So again when last night I felt the familiar blissful encounter with the divine state, I did not expect much more than just a gentle kiss before going to sleep.  A kiss like that of a mother tucking her child in for bed, or giving him a kiss while he sleeps.

Only this time, sleep remained quite disturbed and shortly later the experience of divine consciousness took place again, except this time it was much more intense.  When this encounter takes place, the feeling is so blissful, extraordinary and peaceful that what I call the Smile of Buddha, spontaneously and simultaneously takes place (read 7 Rapid Benefits of Kundalini Practice for more on that), and it did this time also.

Recalling the teachings of Advaita master Jean Klein, “To follow the scent of Reality,” I attended to the transcendent state with my whole heart and mind.  I am familiar with this particular state of consciousness and I know that attempts to modulate it or extend it usually never work and as expected, the state moved on and with it the unearthly bliss.  I returned my attention to getting some sleep.

J. Krishnamurti, who was also blessed to have such encounters with Infinity and higher states of consciousness (“otherness” as he called it) also confessed to trying to control these states, but not being able to affect them using the mind or other means.  So back to trying to get some sleep, I tossed and turned a bit, unaware that the fun was just beginning.

Not much time later, consciousness again slipped into a higher state of awareness.  Once again filled with bliss and joy.  I again gave my heart and soul to it and remained as watchful and aware as I could.  The state moved on, but this time it came back again quickly and surprisingly, this new pattern continued for some time.  Consciousness would slide into the enlightened state and then come out again, only to slip back in some time later.  Things only got even more interesting from there.

Soon I felt the familiar bliss which accompanies a buzzing energy in the body and inner ears.  This energy (kundalini), I know well and I also know that this state I can modulate and control.  Well at least to a point.  The bliss associated with this state in quite intense and increases when I allow myself to surrender more and more to the energy.  So as I did that the energy grew dramatically and, as expected, it started to dominate my entire consciousness.  I spent quite some time playing in this state, lost in pure bliss. 

From past experience I knew that if I allowed it, this energy will completely overcome my consciousness and “I” would be no longer be there to control it.  It is scary to the ego to be thus dispelled, and I reached over towards my wife.  If I held her, then disappear, she would be there to bring me back .  She knows of these experiences and I have prepped her about them.  Unfortunately, in my semi-sleep state I forgot my 2 little boys had cannibalized her and sleep with her in our bedroom now, while I sleep alone.  So there went my safety net, thus forcing me to play with the energy more conservatively.

This went on and at some point I drifted into asleep still connected to Higher Consciousness, still in bliss.  Here dreams mix with the enlightenment states and are colored by them.  I dreamt of looking at a wet road from a stopped car window and as I looked at this most ordinary of scenes, the real experience of profound beauty overwhelmed my mind.

The beauty was so extreme that the accompanying bliss was almost unbearable.  Teaching from the Mystic Master Osho floated into my consciousness.  “Even too much bliss, the body can’t bear,” he would say.  This was now true and the bliss becomes almost too much too handle.  Eventually this passed, but the higher states of consciousness continued on and influenced other dreams all night.

Summary of Higher Consciousness and Blissful States:

1. Bliss and Enlightenment Not Special:

Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki says something very interesting about enlightenment and higher states of consciousness.  He says that for the outsider it seems very special, but for those that have it, it is not so special.  Well… maybe it is slightly special , but really he is spot on here.  There is nothing you can do with your enlightenment, it’s there when it’s there, but yet without it life is meaningless.

The analogy he uses to explain this point is that of children and a mother.  Just as children might appear very extraordinary to the onlooker who does not have them, to the mother they are her children.  Special yes, but at the same time simply an integral and regular part of her life.

2. Bliss, Being and Consciousness:

Sat Chit Ananda (Being, Consciousness and Bliss) are the Ultimate Truth and the Ultimate Reality.  How are they encountered and realized?  They are the outcome of living a particular way.  Although I will go into my thoughts on what makes higher states of consciousness more available to us in another article, for now I want to say that for sure that meditation is helpful. 

So make sure you keep up your meditation practice.  If you are new to meditation please feel free to use the free online meditation programs I offer on the website.  If you want a more structured and supported program you can check the Learn Meditation Program I offer as well.  Links are below…

Free Online Learn How to Meditate Course

Learn Meditation Program with Anmol


Key Zen Practice and Teachings for Peace of Mind

Zen Practices

Peace of Mind in Zen

Zen practice speaks a great deal on composure and having a calm, peaceful mind, but understanding deeply what they mean by this is not always easy.  Below I have shared with you excerpts from Zen Master Suzuki on what Zen is indicating when it is speaks of a calm, vast, quiet mind.  The teachings below will also be very valuable in helping you establish a sound meditation practice and spiritual way of life.

Finally, after the teaching below, I highlight some of the most important ideas from this talk and also, do some interesting comparisons between what is being said here by the Zen teachings and how that is similar to what is said by Sage Patanjali and Advaita Vedanta Masters as well.  The terminology may differ but Truth is always the Truth.

Zen Practices

Zen Practice and Teachings Master Shunryu Suzuki:

Book:        Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Chapter:   Beyond Consciousness

We should establish our practice where there is no practice or enlightenment.  As long as we practice zazen in the area where there is practice and enlightenment, these is no chance to make perfect peace for ourselves.  In other words, we must firmly believe in our true nature.  Our true nature is beyond our conscious experience.  It is only in our conscious experience that we find practice and enlightenment or good and bad.  But whether or not we have experience of our true nature, what exists there, beyond consciousness, actually exists, and it is there that we have to establish the foundation of our practice.


When you have something in your consciousness you do not have perfect composure.  The best way towards perfect composure is to forget everything.  Then your mind is calm, and it is wide and clear enough to see and feel things as they are without any effort.  The best way to find perfect composure is not to retain any idea of things, whatever they may be – to forget all about them and not to leave any trace or shadow of thinking.  But if you try to stop your mind or try to go beyond your conscious activity, that will only be another burden for you.  “I have to stop my mind in my practice, but I cannot.  My practice is not so good.”  This kind of idea is also the wrong way of practice.  Do not try to stop your mind, but leave everything as it is.  Then things will not stay in your mind so long.  Things will come as they come and go as they go.  Then eventually your clear, empty mind will last fairly long.

So to have a firm conviction in the original emptiness of your mind is the most important thing in your practice.  […].

But it is when you sit in zazen that you will have the most pure, genuine experience of the empty state of mind.  Actually, emptiness of mind is not even a state of mind, but the original essence of mind which Buddha and the Sixth Patriarch experienced.  “Essence of mind,” “original mind,” “original face,” “Buddha nature,” “emptiness” – all these words mean absolute calmness of our mind.

You know how to rest physically.  You do not know how to rest mentally.  Even though you lie in your bed your mind is still busy; even if you sleep your mind is busy dreaming.  Your mind is always in intense activity.  This is not so good.  We should know how to give up our thinking mind, our busy mind.  In order to go beyond the thinking faculty, it is necessary to have a firm conviction in the emptiness of your mind.  Believing firmly in the perfect rest of our mind, we should resume our pure original state.

Zen Practice and Teachings on Peace of Mind:

1. Key Belief in Zen Practice:

It is really quite rare for any Zen teachings to suggest a “belief” of any kind.  Those who are familiar with Zen teachings and practices, understand that the primary focus of Zen is not mental, but more directed to moment to moment awareness.  But, here Master Suzuki suggests that a key to successful Zen practice is to firmly believe in your True Original Nature, which exists beyond the conscious mind.  This belief then lays the foundation for a successful practice and is the key to having peace of mind.  Establishing yourself here, means to not be disturbed what what is taking place in the ordinary mind.

Here is how Suzuki summarizes this important key concept:

“To realize pure mind in your delusion is practice.  If you try to expel the delusion it will only persist the more.  Just say, ‘Oh, this is just delusion,’ and do not be bothered by it.”

2. Zen Teaching and Advaita Teaching:

For those familiar with Advaita Vedanta masters, this is pretty much exactly how they suggest you discover your True Self.  Which can just be added to the list of descriptions Suzuki gave for the “Big Mind”.  Buddha Nature, Higher Self, Big Mind, Big I, Self, I AM are all pointing at the same thing. 

Here is an article discussing Advaita Master giving very similar advice on how to approach Enlightened living and spiritual practice:

Transcendence Techniques from the Spiritual Science of Advaita Vedanta

3. Zen Teaching and Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras:

Zen practice above is emphasizing absolute calmness of the mind and putting the thinking faculty to rest.  This is what Patanjali is saying when he says the purpose of Yoga is the still the waves in the mind. 

When it comes to doing this I want to emphasize, just as Master Suzuki has above, that fighting and judging are counterproductive.  The key is remaining just as a witnessing consciousness and allowing thoughts and feelings to rise and fall.  Observing them with a detached view and then letting them go without getting drawn into the drama.

Of course saying this is simpler than doing it, but that is the essence of all spiritual practice.  Letting the dualistic mind, focused on the ego, wither away under the light of awareness, so that your True Nature, upon which this drama is playing out, becomes visible and is actualized.

The best way to do this, meditation.

Specifically for Zazen or Zen Meditation Technique you will find details here:

Zen Meditation Technique

For more information on non-dualistic thinking and similarities between Zen Buddhism, Hinduism and Advaita Vedanta, you can read the following article:

Understanding Hinduism, Buddhism, Non-Dualism, Enlightenment and Life


How to Overcome All Daily Meditation and Yoga Obstacles – Survey Results

Meditation Solutions

How to Do Daily Yoga and Meditation

Last week we ran the survey, What Are Your Major Obstacles to a Daily Meditation and Yoga Practice? And boy did the results come in fast and furious.  There was a clear winner and many strong contenders as well.  In the table below you can see the results and following that I address these problems and propose solutions to help you overcome them as well. 

Establishing a long-term, consistent daily meditation and yoga practice is one of the most important things you can do, as it not only helps you develop personally, but is the key to achieving the purpose of human birth – Self / God Realization.  It help you find joy, peace, wisdom and compassion.

The results below don’t add up to 100%, as more than one response was allowed.  So the percentage is calculated against the total number of responses.

Meditation and Yoga Obstacles

Major Obstacles to Daily Meditation and Yoga Practice
Value Count Percent %
Procrastinate Too Much 38 40.86%
Too Lazy 32 34.41%
No Time / Too Busy 28 30.11%
I Do My Practice Everyday / No Problems 20 21.51%
Don’t Know How To / Don’t Have Guidance 17 18.28%
It’s Too Hard / Not Enough Willpower 17 18.28%
Results Come Too Slowly 12 12.90%
Not Healthy Enough 8 8.60%
Not Interested, Not Inspired or Not Motivated Enough 5 5.38%
Meditation / Yoga is too Weird 1 1.08%


Solutions to Problems Above:

Below I will point out various articles and techniques which tackle the issues that readers have indicated above as obstacles to a regular meditation and yoga practice.

Solutions to Procrastination, Willpower and Laziness:

The article 5 Keys to Stop Procrastination will be very useful to help not just with this issue of procrastination, but also to help with many of the other problems readers have indicated above.  Specially the techniques will help the Too Lazy, Too Hard and Not Inspired groups as well.

In that article, I discuss techniques to developing energy, willpower and helping with the ability to execute things right away.

Another interesting series for those who need to break the habit of procrastination and implement things at the right time, is the following 2 part series – Spiritual Time Management.

Help for the Too Busy to Meditate Group:

This group is of particular interest to me, because this problem trips me up from time to time as well.  Although I have discussed this issue before, I am keen on finding ways to simplify life so that there is more time for spiritual work and I plan to write more about my experiments with this in the future.  The following articles already online will help though. 

An article which discusses the importance of making leisure time so one can evolve spiritually and explains the role that money can play in that effort is Money Money Money and the Path to Enlightenment.  But, one other article I want to point out which will also help and is not so obvious is How Much Time Should You Meditate for Daily?

The reason for pointing out this second article, is that sometimes you may just be too ambitious with how much you want to do, and thus set goals that are unrealistic.  Setting such lofty goals and not being able to achieve them then leads to discouragement and is counter productive.  So if you are busy, do less.  But try hard to do it every day.  If you can just get it started, it will build on it’s own.

Finally the following article has been very useful to many readers in these categories: The Golden Rule to Stop Excuses and Start Meditation Now.

Learn How to Meditate Daily and Learn Yoga:

This one I can really help with as there are lots of techniques and articles on the website to guide you on how to get your daily practice started.  Here are the 2 best places to start learning yoga and meditation if you are just beginning.  Of course, these programs are free of charge so do take advantage of them.

Learn How to Meditation | Beginner’s Meditation Class

Beginner’s Yoga Class

Also very helpful will be the following 2 articles which teach you how to meditate and teach you basic yoga poses.

How to Meditate

Basic Yoga Poses | Beginner’s Yoga Poses

Meditation Results Come Too Slowly Problem:

Yes the results of meditation practice are gentle and I have explained in the past that such a practice is difficult in our quick results, immediate gratification society – No Short Cuts to Enlightenment.

But let me impress upon you that although you may not notice it, meditation is changing you profoundly day by day, and if you keep up with the practice, one day you will simply be amazed at the wonderful transformation that has taken place within you.

Here is Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki explaining this aspect of meditation to his students:

Shunryu Suzuki Speaks on Enlightenment and Meditation Practice

Even better than the article above is perhaps this talk by Master Suzuki which directly addresses the question of results and effort:

Effortless Effort in Zen Teachings – Shunryu Suzuki

The above addresses the gentle blossoming of goodness due to a daily meditation practice.  Now as far as daily yoga practice is concerned, the results are of course much faster from a physical point of view and quite obvious after just a few weeks.  There are plenty of testimonials to this on the website and I am sure you have read many of those already .

Inspiration for Daily Meditation and Yoga Practice:

The articles below regarding the enormous health and other benefits of meditation and yoga should really fuel your motivation to establish a strong daily practice.  But, below in the “Learn from Others” section there are 2 additional items which I feel would be very helpful in getting you to meditate, so check those out as well.

Top 10 Profound Benefits of Meditation

Health Benefits of Meditation

Top 10 Health Benefits of Yoga

Learn from Others:

For more inspiration I want to point you towards another survey that we ran here on Mastery of Meditation and Yoga which asked readers what was The Biggest Mistake They Have Made in Their Life.  The #1 answer was “They Delayed Their Spiritual Practice”.  Yes that was #1, so when I run this survey again in 10 years, let that not be your response .


Looking closely at the survey you will also see that there are many (21%) who have indicated that they have successfully established a daily meditation and yoga practice.  So if they can do it, why not you?  If you are here reading this, that means you have been blessed with an interest in spirituality and invited by the Universe to join the party.  The doors are open and we are all waiting for you .


What Is Karma and How to Be Free of the Karmic Cycle

What Karma Means

Buddhist Definition of Karma

What exactly is Karma?  What does it mean to be free of the Karmic cycle?  These are excellent questions and today I will try and shed some light on this important topic.  This topic is important really because understanding it deeply, will help you a great deal in living your life correctly and accelerating your spiritual progress.

To help with this complex topic, I am going to provide the thoughts of the great Zen master Shunryu Suzuki, from his A+ book Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.  This is not just a Buddhist view of Karma, this is actually a clear view of the Law of Karma.  Also, I provide a nice 9 Day Karma Cleansing Challenge which is a great spiritual test to take in the bottom of this article.


Zen Buddhist Master Shunryu Suzuki on What is Karma?

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Pages 100, 102

According to the traditional Buddhist understanding, our human nature is without ego.  When we have no idea of ego, we have Buddha’s view of life.  Our egoistic ideas are delusion, covering out Buddha Nature.  We are always creating and following them, and in repeating this process over and over again, our life becomes completely occupied by ego-centered ideas.  This is called karmic life, or karma.  The Buddhist life should not be karmic life.  The purpose of our practice is to cut off the karmic spinning mind.  If you are trying to attain enlightenment, that is a part of karma, you are creating and being driven by karma, and you are wasting your time on the black cushion.  According to Bodhidarma’s understanding, practice based on any gaining idea is just a repetition of your karma.  Forgetting this point, many later Zen masters have emphasized some stage to be attained by practice.

He goes on to say…

Before Buddha attained enlightenment he made all possible effort for us, and at last he attained a thorough understanding of the various ways.  You may think Buddha attained some stage where he was free from karmic life, but it is not so.  Many stories were told by Buddha about his experiences after he attained enlightenment.  He was not at all different from us.  When his country was at war with a powerful neighbor, he told his disciples of his own karma, of how he suffered when he saw that his country was going to be conquered by the neighboring king.  If he had been someone who had attained an enlightenment in which there was no karma, there would have been no reason for him to suffer so.  And even after he attained enlightenment he continued the same effort we are making.  But his view of life was not shaky.  His view of life was stable, and he watched everyone’s life, including his life.  He watched himself, and he watched others with the same eyes that he watched stones or plants, or anything else.  He had a very scientific understanding.  That was his way of life after he attained enlightenment.

When we have the traditional spirit to follow the truth as it goes, and practice our way without any egotistic idea, we will attain enlightenment in its true sense.  And when we understand this point we will make our best effort in each moment.  That is true understanding of Buddhism.  So our understanding of Buddhism is not just an intellectual understanding.  Our understanding at the same time is its own expression, is the practice itself.  Not by reading or contemplation of philosophy, but only through practice, actual practice, can we understand what Buddhism is.  Constantly, we should practice zazen, with strong confidence in our true nature, breaking the chain the karmic activity and finding our place in the world of actual practice.

Buddhist Understanding of What Karma Means

The above excerpt offers the best way to view and Karma, Karmic Bondage and Karmic Living.  In addition, I wanted to present this excerpt to you as it has other hidden gems in it as well.  Let me highlight these points for you below.

1. What is Karma?

Karma is life and action that is led by the ego and for the ego.  The more the ego is involved, the more Karma there is.  Both as a driving force and in accumulation as fuel (Karma) for future egotistical action.  Lets see this cycle at work using the simple pleasure principle.

When you experience some pleasure, that is fine, it is just sensation.  But then the mind tends not to leave it at that.  It forms an emotional memory and starts to chew on the memory of that experience, giving it more and more strength.  Then, it starts to crave that pleasure experience again.  This emotion soaked memory then lays the foundation for desires and influences future actions. 

So Karma is formed by the mind spinning the pleasurable experience, building emotion soaked memory, which then becomes the seed for ego gratification in the future, leading to more experience and sensation.  This then forms more emotion soaked memory, if it is spun around in the mind, and the Karmic cycle continues.  Thus we are bound by our Karma, as we already have in us emotion soaked memories, which are the seeds that will then influence our mind to pursue more ego oriented activity.  Purging this emotion soaked memory is the emptying of the mind which you hear about in meditation.

As this is a very interesting and important topic and there is a lot of confusion around what Karma is I will go into this in more detail in a future article, but for now I think you should get the gist of what I am saying from the explanation and example above.

2. How to Free Oneself from the Karmic Cycle?

The answer to the question, “How to be free from the Karmic Cycle?”, emerges from the understanding above.  Do what the Buddha did.  Learn to become a detached witness to the comings and goings of your life.  Even the Buddha, after enlightenment, had to live out the Karma that was already present in him, but by bearing witness and not getting drawn in, he stopped creating more emotion soaked memory, or more Karmic seeds.  Also, by bearing witness, the content of consciousness (emotion soaked memory) starts to reveal itself and gets purged.

In other words, develop the Witnessing Consciousness.  Residing in this Witnessing Consciousness or Big Mind, means to not live via the ego oriented, small mind, but to live instead in moment to moment awareness.  This awareness is your Buddha Nature.  It is the Big Self and the substratum on which the drama of life is being playing out on.  Residing in such awareness, is residing in your Buddha Nature and this alone frees you from the cycle of Karma.

Summary and Karma Cleansing Challenge:

So karma boils down to a very simple thing.  If you strengthen the ego, give it more importance and are caught in nothing but ego-centric desires, then you are accumulating karma, if on the other hand, you are residing in pure consciousness and witnessing, you are freeing yourself from the entanglements of karma and the dualistic world.

Of course this is not at all easy to accomplish, but it can really be a lot of fun to do if you are up for the challenge.  To help you on this journey here is a great 9 Day Karma Cleansing Program.  It is difficult to do, but even trying it will give you a great deal of insight into how your ego functions and also, how to live with moment to moment awareness.  If doing all of what this challenge requires is too much, just pick a few of the requirements, that too will be of enormous benefit to you.

9 Day Spiritual Test and Karma Cleansing Program


Inviting God Consciousness In | Ong Namo Mantra MP3

God Consciousness

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo Mantra

We cannot be reminded enough that everything is God Consciousness.  Everything is God.  Upon this substratum then, the game of life is played out.  The problem with forgetting the substratum, forgetting God, forgetting the One Consciousness, is that then everything leads to attachment and misery.  There are many ways in which the great Masters have tried to impart this wisdom to us, many ways in which they have tried to stress the importance of this upon us, but unfortunately we get caught up in the drama of our little lives, and forget God.

God Consciousness

J. Krishnamurti on God Consciousness:

In the article, J. Krishnamurti on the Flowering of Goodness, Krishnamurti puts the importance of God a little differently by saying, “In consciousness there is the good and the bad; the bad is increasing; it is increasing because the good has become static, the good is not flowering.”  And he goes on to explain that “bad”, is anything that gives importance to the ego, and that this flowering of Goodness is the practice of Awareness.  This practice of awareness is another way of saying remember God Consciousness, remember you are the Great Witnessing, you are the Great Silence, Infinite, Endless and Timeless, and when you loose this Witnessing Consciousness, you are lost in the world of the ego, mind and dualism.

Shunryu Suzuki on God Consciousness:

Another unlikely master to speak about the importance of God and God Consciousness is Zen Master Shunryu Suzuki.  Yes, a Zen master supposedly from a religion, Buddhism, which does not acknowledge God, explaining that remembering God at all times, is the key to freedom and non-attachment.  In the article, Zen Teachings on God and How to Get His Help, Master Suzuki explains that as soon as we start to take credit and emphasize our egos, forgetting that everything comes from God, we are lost.  The key, he points out, is to remember that you and everything else emerges from the great One Consciousness, the great Void, and that if you forget this and think you are creating/doing and not the great Consciousness, then you will find yourself attached and suffering.  So, always remember God first, always remember that everything is coming from there, then you will not get yourself caught in the trap of the ego.

Master Suzuki goes on to explain, that because we forget God, forget the Source Consciousness, the substratum from which everything springs, we don’t have It’s help in our life.  So in order to get God, Infinity to help, you need to remember it is as the Source of All.  Then you are protected, guided and inspired by It.  Then you are helped by It, as It is an integral part of your every action.

How to Invite God Consciousness In:

In Kundalini Yoga there is a mantra that is used to help with this remembering, and that is the Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo mantra, the Adi Mantra.  It is the mantra used for “Tuning In”, and in the following 2 articles, How to Teach a Yoga Class and AUM Mantra Video for Starting a Yoga Class, I pointed out that all yoga should begin with an acknowledgment of God.  In Kundalini Yoga practice, this is the mantra that is used for that purpose. 

Here is the translation and meaning of Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo.

  • Ong– Ong is God manifested.  It is an invitation to the un-manifested God Consciousness (OM) to enter manifestation.  With OM (AUM) we ascend into infinity, with ONG we ask Infinity to descend onto us.
  • Namo– I bow to you humbly.
  • Guru Dev– Your divine consciousness, your inner wisdom or inner teacher.
  • Namo – I bow to you humbly.

Ong Namo, Guru Dev Namo, is typically recited 3 times before the start of class, and by chanting it we are remembering God as the Source of everything, and asking the help of God Consciousness in the form of protection, guidance and inspiration.  I have also pointed out the importance of Awareness, or maintaining God Consciousness when practicing yoga, and maintaining this awareness is the key to preventing the ego from taking over any activity and deriving importance from it.  You can read about this very important aspect of yoga in the following article, Essential Beginner’s Guide to Yoga Practice.

How to Chant Ong Namo Guru Dev Mantra:

  • Sit up with your eyes closed and back straight.
  • Have your hands in prayer pose, with the thumb tips pressing against the sternum.
  • Turn your eyes up so you are looking through the center of forehead, the Third Eye Center.
  • Inhale deeply and with great reverence chant the mantra three times as demonstrated below in the MP3, taking a long deep breath in between each chant.

Free MP3 Download of Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo Mantra:

Below you will find a free demo and MP3 of Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo.  To download the mantra, simply right click and save to your computer.

Ong Namo Guru Dev Namo Free MP3 Download

Remember the most important thing in life, is to live with moment to moment Awareness, then goodness will flower and God will grace your entire existence.


Awareness Test for Developing Your Spiritual Mind

Testing Your Awareness

Developing the Spiritual Mind

Undoubtedly, you have repeatedly heard that for enlightenment, one of the keys is keeping your awareness in the here and now, keeping it in the present.  This can be stated in many ways, such as observe your mind, body and feelings, or maintain your witnessing consciousness, or remain mindful, or practice choiceless awareness, or develop your spiritual mind, etc, etc.  For those who don’t just care to read, but are interested in discovering for themselves the Truth, know that maintaining such awareness from moment to moment is easier said than done.  Thankfully though, there are lots of nice tips and techniques for helping us live with such awareness and in today’s article I would like to share with you one such a technique.

The goal here is to develop the mind which is highly intelligent, the mind which sees the false in the false, or simply put simply the mind with can perceive the Truth of Non-Duality.  Ordinarily, our mind is constantly jumping from one thought to another, and wandering all over the place, thus preventing us from maintaining moment to moment awareness.  Being able to maintain this awareness, is a very important aspect of developing the spiritual mind.  So what can we do to help us stop this monkey mind, the mind that is jumping around? 

Developing Your Spiritual Mind

Keep a good posture.  Yes such a simple thing, but I assure you it will prove to be very helpful.  No matter what you are doing, keep a nice posture while doing it.  Take this up as an awareness test and try to maintain your posture for the entire week ahead.  You will then learn for yourself, how helpful and valuable this simple tip is.  To inspire you in taking this test and rising to the challenge, let me give you Zen Master Shunryu’s Suzuki’s own thoughts on the importance of posture.

Shunryu Suzuki on Posture, Awareness & Spiritual Mind:

Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind: Right Practice

The most important point is to own your own physical body.  If you slump, you will lose your self.  Your mind will be wandering about somewhere else; you will not be in your body.  This is not the way.  We must exist right here, right now!  This is the key point.  You must have your own body and mind.  Everything should exist in the right place, in the right way.  Then there is no problem.  If the microphone I use when I speak exists somewhere else, it will not serve its purpose.  When we have our body and mind in order, everything else will exist in the right place, in the right way.

But usually, without being aware of it, we try to change something other than ourselves, we try to order things outside us.  But it is impossible to organize things if you yourself are not in order.  When you do things in the right way, at the right time, everything else will be organized.  You are the “boss”.  When the boss is sleeping, everyone is sleeping.  When the boss does something right, everyone will do everything right, and at the right time.  That is the secret of Buddhism.

So try always to keep the right posture, not only when you practice zazen (Zen Meditation Technique), but in all your activities.  Take the right posture when you are driving your car, and when you are reading.  If you read in a slumped position, you cannot stay awake long.  Try.  You will discover how important it is to keep the right posture.  This is the true teaching.  The teaching which is written on paper is not the true teaching.  Written teaching is a kind of food for the brain.  Of course it is necessary to take some food for the brain, but it is more important to be yourself by practicing the right way of life.

The state of mind that exists when you sit in the right posture is, itself enlightenment.  If you cannot be satisfied with the state of mind you have in zazen it means your mind is still wandering about.  Our body and mind should no be wobbling or wandering about.  In this posture there is no need to talk about the right state of mind.  You already have it.  This is the conclusion of Buddhism.

Awareness Test:

So your test this week, and hopefully one that you will take up for the rest of your life, is to be mindful of your posture no matter what it is you are doing.  Like Master Suzuki said, whether you are eating, reading, meditating, walking, taking, sitting, driving, don’t allow yourself to slump.  Keep your posture tall, keep your spine straight, your abdomen free and see the immediate affect this has on your state of awareness.  You will notice the flame of moment to moment awareness burning much more brightly and this state of being in the here and now, is in fact the Spiritual Mind.

By making this simple adjustment, not only will you find your being more mindful, you will also be surprised by a bevy of other important benefits that it will bestow.  You will find yourself breathing better, eating and digesting your food better, feeling more confident and courageous, having more willpower, feeling more composed and of course, feeling much more aware and alive. 

Be on the lookout for more spiritual tests and tips in the near future to help you increase your awareness and develop your spiritual mind.  In the article series section below, you will find other tests to help you with your awareness and spiritual growth.