Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Pain is inevitable. Suffering is optional.

The Technologies of Awareness Seminar on Saturday was very cool.  There were about 150 people, and a wide range from students to senior citizens, Buddhist monks, Holosyncers and people just wondering what was up.

The event was at Smith College in Northampton, Ma and Smith's own professor Jamie Hubbard kicked it off with a humorous and provocative lecture on Buddhism, Enlightenment, Nirvana, happiness and "the industry of positive psychology."  As a professor of Buddhist studies, he surprised me when he said he no longer thought Nirvana was a possibility. He discussed the Four Noble Truths, the first being that life is "dukkha", which is often translated as suffering but is more a sense of frustration or stuckness. However, 65% of people report being happy most of the time.

In the break I had a chance to talk with Bill Harris of Centerpointe, he remembered me from the week long retreat I did with him in 2008.  His talks are usually a free ranging stream of consciousness and always quite funny.  He did not disappoint and spent a lot of time with questions from the audience.  He stressed that the key to enlightenment, or just being happy, was awareness.  Awareness creates choice.  Without awareness you run on autopilot - going through your day without making choices of how you respond to situations. That is how most people in our society operate.  I always like talking to other Holosyncers, and this group had people who didn't know what it was, up to people using it for ten years.

Next up was Dr. Andy Oldenski. He read a very dry, academic speech that most of the crowd (including me) slept through for at least portions. He joked that he was a great reminder why we didn't like college.

To close the day, we were treated to Genpo Roshi who didn't bother with lecturing, but rather went straight into leading us through Big Mind for a couple hours. He stressed how effortless it was, you just needed an open mind. There was no straining or trying needed. In fact, he said probably my favorite line of the day; "Anything you get while 'trying' is shit."

Visit BigMind.org to learn more about the process. I'll try to describe it, but it is something better experienced than talked about. We are all made up various, infinite even, aspects or voices. If you attempt to deny or bury a voice it will come out in dysfunctional ways. Big Mind is a process to speak to each voice within you, letting you embrace and transcend it to put all your aspects to their best use. The analogy Genpo uses is that you are a company full of employees who don't know what their jobs are. Big Mind interviews each employee and lets them get clear on their job.

We started off by speaking from the Deluded Ignorant Mind and it was really fun - by the end of the day he had us speaking as The Awakened One. In Genpo's twisted Zen way, "You are the fucking Buddha!"

Lori and I talked with Genpo a bit before we left and plan on visiting his center in Salt Lake City one of these days.  Check out one of his Big Mind workshops, I guarantee you will experience something you haven't before.

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