This Week and Next

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As I have written on my last post, I am going to start doing qigong 3 times a day. The first qigong set I will do is the one from David Carradine which I have been doing for a little over the past month. I have mentioned before that I would occasionally do Lam Kam Chuen’s set from one of his Taiji (Tai Chi) books, that will be set number 2. Set number 3 will be this night time qigong routine from this young lady.

As per usual, I am also doing my readings for the Greatest Salesman Course. I am also reading a passage from Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong as well as the Daily Readings from the Buddha’s Words of Wisdom by Venerable Shravasti Dhammika. At the same time, I chant the Amitabha Buddha’s name as well.

And yes, I am making sure I meditate 15 minutes a day each time I wake up.

That is for this week.

Next week, I am taking a well-needed vacation and going to Vancouver and Seattle. I have a few friends I am going to visit on both sides of the US-Canadian border. What this means is that I won’t be cultivating myself as much as I would like and usually do. Not that I am complaining as one of my Canadian friends is planning a lot for us to do and I am like “F—k yeah! That’s great!”

Og Mandino writes in his book that I don’t have to keep up with the readings while on vacation. I just take my vacation and simply start where I left off when I return. The thing is, I still want to maintain some cultivation efforts while I am out. On the qigong front, it is important to never skip a day.

So on my vacation, I will do the readings at least once a day. Once I get back home I will add another week of the regular thrice daily readings. There is no way I can do qigong three times a day, but I can do that at least once a day. Also, one of my friends in Vancouver is getting into qigong so it might be a case of me trying out her set and then her trying out mine. That I am also excited about.

So if you don’t hear from me for a couple of weeks, you know why.

How’s it going 3/9/2022

사랑합니다

I know my last post on racism is not the most comfortable thing to read, but the uncomfortable truth is that racism exists. It’s not something I like to talk about, but it is a thing in our lives. Also, how is it I can talk about Buddhism and not address the issues in our society? The whole point of studying Buddhism is to learn how to deal with such problems. All too often, many people who practice and study Buddhism delve into metaphysics and forget that even the Buddha himself eschewed that type of talk.

In fact, there was a story in the Malunkyaputta Sutta in which a monk named Malunkyaputta expressed his dissatisfaction of the Buddha and his teachings. The Buddha asked why and his student went on saying that the Buddha never taught him things like how did life begin, how was the world created, will it be destroyed, and other esoteric questions. The Buddha bluntly told the student that he was not interested in those questions. The Buddha was more interested in understanding the sufferings of our daily existence and how to transcend them.

To this I agree and this is one aspect I love about Theravada teachings over the Mahayana. Metaphysical debates are fine, but in the end all of the teachings of Buddhism should gear towards how to deal with life’s problems. We have relationship problems, problems at work, problems at home or with family, problems with money, problems with our mind, and so on. Racism is one of those problems and, unfortunately, is rarely spoken about in the Buddhist community. I can go on talking about some of the racists issues I have seen over the years, but this would require a longer discussion.

Speaking of my own problems . . . .

I have to admit, that when I wrote about certain people as being toxic White saviors, that perhaps I am seeing things in not the most correct angle and maybe race doesn’t have anything to do with our dynamic. However, I cannot say for certain. At the moment, I will keep the appellation as it is since they did talk to me the way British colonials talked to Indians centuries before; as in how it is unfortunate that we Indians are born as Indians and raised in our backwards Indian ways, that we need the British to civilize us and abandon our culture.

Again, I must emphasize that I don’t think all White people are like this and there are always bad examples in every race. If anything, I feel fortunate that I have friends from different races and ethnic backgrounds as it made life more interesting and fun. Having friends from all walks of life truly makes the world my oyster.

For that matter, I don’t think all British people back then looked down upon us. Hell, there were more than a few who got into Hindu philosophy and yoga before it was cool.

Now that I have wrestled with this revelation of the past conflicts I had with certain people, I am going to do something about it.

This week, I am still writing the signs of what to look out for in terms of someone with a toxic savior complex.

Next week, I plan to restart and actually finish the book Emotional Blackmail by Dr. Susan Forward so that I have the strategies I need to deal with controlling people.

As much as that realization of the problem angered me it has given me a sense of peace. Before then, whenever I got mistreated by certain individuals I was always told it was my fault. Either I was too diffident or too confident. Either I was a nice guy or I come off as too cocksure. Either I am too compliant or that I stand out too much. Ultimately, it has less to do with me and more to do with them. That took a lot of pressure off of me.

I believe very strongly that everyone has the right to do whatever they want as long as it doesn’t harm themselves or others and doesn’t disturb other people. For example, I don’t go around punching others because it harms other people. I don’t play music too loud as it disturbs others. However, if I am in bus and sitting alone doing silent meditation and someone else complains, that’s their issue since I am not bothering anyone.

(Funny enough, that did happen. I was sitting alone in the third row of the bus and the person sat all the way at the end. Yet despite me not making any noise and sitting far from her, she complained constantly of my meditation even though she could simply ignore me and talk to her friends.)

Furthermore, as per Og Mandino’s instructions from last month, every time I think about those with a savior complex who tried to control my every move, I think to myself “__________, I love you.” In Dharma Master Kim Jae Woong’s book, Polishing the Diamond, he advises to say something like “I wish _______________ finds his/her Buddha-nature, so that s/he can serve the Dharma well. Barwon [or perhaps Sadhu?]!”

I am doing that. It is helping me take the edge off of the anger, but I still have to examine how those people acted and read up on how to prevent further manipulation.

Or as someone in the internet once said, “Do no harm, but take no shit.”

So yeah, I really need to workout

A couple of days ago, I wrote about how last week was rough on me. Nothing remarkable happened. They were the usual gripes I have been having: working, very little time to cultivate myself the way I want, lack of adventure and excitement that I had before the pandemic. The usual set of complaints.


However, what I lacked the most last week was exercise. I didn’t work out at all until Sunday. Then I realized why I needed to exercise, it helps me endure this boring phase in my life and even enjoy it.


Here’s where I talk about one of the few aspects of Nichiren Buddhism I agree with.
In Nichiren and Tendai Buddhism, it is said that we inhabit these ten worlds in our lives. These ten worlds mainly correspond to our emotions. Most of the time, external stimuli tend to push us into each of those worlds.


For example:


You wake up in the morning you are all grumpy from a bad dream or bad night’s sleep. You woke up in hell. You got yourself some coffee, now you are feeling okay. Not bad, but not good, very neutral. Now you are in the realm of human beings. You decided to go out for a run around the block. After your run, you feel damn good. You are now in heaven. After your shower, you feel hungry. Now you are in the ghostly realm. After you eat and get to work, the first person you talk is Gina. You like her because she has a good sense of humor. Back to heaven again. Next person you see is that jerk Elmo who always manages to put you in a bad mood, the realm of anger.


You get the idea. Whenever we encounter a positive or negative stimuli, it could put us in a good or bad mood which corresponds to the “world” we inhabit at the moment.


However, the reverse can also be true. Our reality can also be influenced by our state of being.
If you are in the realm of anger, all bad news becomes worse and even good news could ignored or be interpreted as bad. One day you are driving to work and someone cuts you off, you start thinking all of humanity is doomed to stupidity. You might get a text from your crush asking you to dinner, and the next you know it you are thinking that your crush is probably not worth your time anyways.


I can speak from experience. Many years ago, I visited a friend of a friend in Dalian. It is a city in Liaoning province, northeast of Beijing in China. It was a very beautiful city and very clean. My friend and his wife lived in a nice apartment. They even got me pizza which I love. Also, since modeling is huge over there, I saw lots and lots of beautiful women.


Yet I was miserable at that time because my girlfriend and I weren’t getting along and I was too preoccupied with trying to improve our relationship.


If you are in the realm of heaven, then all good news are great news and are problems pretty easy to resolve if they are not problems at all. For example, you get a text from your crush asking you to dinner, and now you feel the world is right. One day you are driving to work and some guy cuts off, you start thinking, “It’s a nice day, why bother getting bothered over this?”


Here’s where I speak from experience. It was the lockdown of 2020. I was supposed to go back to Thailand, but I lost my job and got stuck living at home in virtual house arrest. The year before I could go out drinking with my friends or I can travel to see nice cities or temples whereas now I had to stay put. Plus, there was my girlfriend in Bangkok who eventually dumped me.


Yet, for the most part I was feeling good. Sure I wasn’t happy at my situation but I was dealing with it the best way I can. Even when my girlfriend dumped me, I was sad for a bit but I let her go and wished her well. Why was this? Most of the time I was either meditating, doing qigong, or working out all three which made me feel good about living.


That’s the whole crux of the matter. How do we get and keep ourselves at a higher level of thinking or (as some people say it) a “higher vibration”?


If you ask many Nichiren Buddhists, chanting their mantra will get you there. Yet, there are other alternatives. Getting lost in your favorite activity helps. So does hanging out with your friends or your pets. Affirmations work as well as meditation and your choice of prayer. Some go for yoga and others jogging. For me? It’s cardio and qigong that helps out.


Last week, when I felt too miserable for words, I didn’t exercise at all nor did I do qigong. However, Sunday and today I made sure to workout and do qigong which made a world of difference. Do I want to change my life for the better? Yes. Am I depressed about how things are? Definitely no.


So therein lies my incentive to keep exercising and not skip out on qigong ever again.


If there is one advice I have for you, it is to find your happy. Find what makes you happy and never stop doing it. See to it that you revisit/redo what makes you happy so that you can get a proper perspective on your life, your dreams, and your goals.

How I Buddha 1/21/2022

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For what it is worth, I don’t practice very much.


If anything, all I ever do is chant the Amitabha Buddha’s name 10 times, 3 times a day. I also I read this book, Daily Readings from Buddha’s Words of Wisdom, also 3 times a day. If you are a regular reader of my blog, you also know that I am doing Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman Course in which I read his scrolls 3 times a day. So yes, I am tying my Buddhist practices with Mandino’s course.


Do I like it?


Well, not much.


Let me first preface my next statement that the Buddha was said to have taught 84,000 methods of enlightenment because he saw that there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Pure Land might work for some, but not for everyone. The same could be said for various other forms on Buddhism.


In my case, I like Zen and I like Zen that was supposedly practiced in the Shaolin temple in which I do martial arts, qigong, and meditation. Right now, it is not so feasible with my family and workplace drama. It also doesn’t help that I don’t sleep very well.


At this point, I need to look for a new job. I have been trying for awhile but nowadays not so much. I find myself procrastinating more and more. One night, though, I couldn’t sleep out of anxiety of my future that I made a vow that I will change my life for the better within nine months. Why nine months? That’s because I have nine months left on my Greatest Salesman Course.


In fact, I have a chart that I use to mark off whenever I make a reading for the Course. On that chart, I wrote my goal so that I don’t forget and get distracted with other things. One of the things I get distracted is my desire to exercise. It’s not a bad distraction, but I have to remember that nowadays I exercise the way I can and not the way I want. I have to remember that it is better to exercise the way I want.


At this point, I am practicing Pure Land and reading the Daily Texts to maintain some sort of practice. Hopefully it will help me out in the future, but who knows?


Sorry for writing in a bitter manner. It’s been a rough week.

What about my Buddhist practice?

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This coming Sunday I will start studying Og Mandino’s Greatest Salesman course and also devote time to qigong. While it won’t be the forefront of my cultivation, I will also still make time for Buddhism.

So obviously I am done with Nichiren Buddhism. There were times I enjoyed the practice, but most of the time I didn’t. I still think it was due to my previous life as an SGI member. Would I go back to practicing Nichiren Buddhism? Possibly, but more likely no. I still have this crazy belief, though, that practicing this form of Buddhism does help absolve my negative karma as my life goes south whenever I do start practicing. Therefore, I might practice this form of Buddhism once a week to absolve some of it rather than everyday to absolve all.

Besides, I would like to also create good karma and acquire the wisdom to do so even in bad times.

I would like to meditate as well, whether in the context of Zen or Theravada. I would also like to meditate in the context of Creative Visualization. Unfortunately, the future is always in question as to when I can do so without interruptions. A couple of days ago, for example, my boss scheduled a Zoom meeting to be taking place during my free time.

The only form of Buddhism that I plan to enact is Pure Land.

Pure Land, for those who don’t know, is a type of practice in chanting the name of the Amitabha Buddha in order to reach the Western Heaven. The whole idea behind this practice is that it is too difficult for us to be enlightened on this Earth, so we’re better off going to Heaven and get enlightened there. Pure Land Buddhists are told to chant at least 10 times a day, but there are those who advocate chanting 25 hours a day and 8 days a week.

Do I believe in such a place? I am agnostic on it. I have no idea happens when we die since I haven’t died yet. I am also opposed to chanting the mantra all the time. It’s good to chant for a few minutes, but all the time sounds ridiculous to me. Also, I came cross some information from a Pure Land youtube channel that somewhat disturbs me and I might want to write about it soon enough.

What I do know is that I do enjoy chanting the name and enjoy spending a few minutes of silence after chanting. What I also like about the Pure Land practice is that it serves to remind me of my mortality and that I should not waste time on stupid things. What I also love is the simplicity of the practice.

As part of studying Og Mandino’s work I have to read these essays or “scrolls” three times a day. Before I read the scrolls, I will also chant the name of Amitabha Buddha 10 times. This means I will chant 30 times a day.

Do I expect anything out of this Buddhist practice? No, but I don’t mind.

 

Perhaps if I chant the name of Amitabha Bachchan, maybe I can be as manly as him. He one time fought a bunch of gundas with a fine bottle of scotch.

My Nichiren Buddhist Last Hurrah: Day 75.5

So I have been a bit of a wet blanket for the past couple of weeks, maybe even a month. With family life and job pulling me in all sorts of directions, I have been feeling like a puppet without any control over my life. Bitterness has been growing in my heart for quite a long time.

A couple of nights ago, I couldn’t sleep due to the bitterness as well as worry. I was thinking of changing my Buddhist practice after I am done with my “last hurrah” and decided to see what happens if I chanted the Pure Land manta aka nembutsu aka nian fo.

I chanted the mantra in Mandarin Chinese 108 times and . . . . I felt peace and happiness!

I was blown away! Minutes before I chanted the Nichiren mantra for a couple of minutes I felt stuck and hopeless. Yet chanting the Pure Land mantra changed my mood almost immediately!

Last night, as I was working in my office I watched a video by late Taiwanese Zen Master Sheng Yen in which he gives a lecture about the effects of mantra chanting. He was talking about how they embody certain Buddhists deities and creatures within the cosmology and yadda yadda yadda he said something about how the effect of the mantra depends of different factors, such as concentration, attitude, and (yes) even faith.

The main “function” of the Pure Land mantra is enable the practitioner to call Amitabha Buddha to help us go into the Western Heaven once we die. The main reason why Pure Land believers constantly practice this mantra is so that in the hour of our death, our when consciousness is about the evaporate from our being, we keep on chanting the mantra so that the Buddha of the Western Heaven can send someone to take us there before we reincarnate into a different realm or body.

Here’s the thing: I don’t believe in such an existence of the Western Heaven. I am open to believing it and I am sure will find out when I am dead. However, why did I feel joy in practicing such a mantra?

Furthermore, it has only been recently that I had any affinity for the Pure Land practice.

When Nichiren was alive, he hated Pure Land Buddhism and railed against it for the entirety of his existence. I heard nothing but bad things about Pure Land when I was part of the Soka Gakkai. When I left Soka Gakkai and went into Zen, my main text was the Complete Book of Zen by Master Wong Kiew Kit. While Master Wong never really said anything bad about Pure Land, he said that it is ideal to reach Buddhahood while alive as a human being. Why? Because if we go to the Pure Land, we would be so damn happy that we would not care to become a Buddha even though it is quite easy to do so.

So why is it that I felt happy chanting the Pure Land mantra?

The only answer I can come up with is that I conditioned myself to love the mantra back when I was studying the Master Key System.

When I was studying the Master Key System, Charles Haanel instructs us to find a way to let go of any negative emotions that arise during meditation. That week, I decided to tell myself that every time a negative emotion came up, I would chant the Pure Land mantra and watch it dissipate and disappear.

After a week of hypnotizing and conditioning myself to do this, I found it worked. There was a time I would chant the Pure Land mantra and felt nothing but happiness fill up my heart.

So why not try that the Nichiren mantra? Why not condition myself to love and enjoy chanting the mantra so that it can make me happy every time I chant it?

Starting tomorrow, I am going to start doing that. I am going to meditate and give my subconscious mind a suggestion that whenever I chant the Nichiren mantra, negative emotions will disappear and happier ones will replace it.

Part of what makes me happy about this endeavor is that I will go back to meditating. Lord knows I miss it.

Beneficial Brainwashing 3: Faith, Practice, and Study

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I never intended this to be a series of posts, but I am rehashing this one idea: how to brainwash myself into becoming a wiser and more rational human being.

In the past two posts I have written on the subject, I point out that cults are in the business of brainwashing their devotees into accepting alternate realities. According to a proportion of anti-cult activists, mantra chanting is one of many tools for brainwashing.

The last time I wrote a post on this subject, I was thinking of incorporating the Tibetan lojong, a collection of aphorisms. I have yet to do that because I want to test whether or not my liturgy practice will help me overcome or attain my desires.

However, I am somewhat testing this principle out in a different manner.

In Nichiren Buddhism, one often hears the phrase, “Faith, Practice and Study.”

Faith is basically having the belief that practicing Nichiren Buddhism is good and good for you. In my case, I don’t have much faith in Nichiren Buddhism. However, I have enough faith to sit my ass down and practice the liturgy.

Practice is exactly what I am best at. I take the time twice a day to sit in front of the mandala and perform the liturgy. To other Nichiren Buddhists, especially in the Soka Gakkai and Nichiren Shoshu, I should also go spread the practice and have others practice with me. I don’t do that because nobody likes being proselytized. If people want to discuss Buddhism with me, sure I can discuss it but I am not going to go and force or manipulate people to practice the way I do. Besides, back when I was in college so many Christian groups tried to get me to change my religion. The same happened in South Korea. Yet, here I am, not a Christian.

Study is my weakest point. According to Nichiren Buddhism, I should read the Lotus Sutra and/or the collection of letters Nichiren wrote to his adherents. The main problem I have reading both is that they are very long and difficult to get through. I’m not acting like a millennial who wants everything in bit-size chunks, I am acting like a millennial who has no time to read because I have a lot work to do! Back when I was jobless during the lockdown I could have studied both, but I focused on Zen practice instead.

Then there is Nichiren’s tone in his writing. He was very in-your-face about his teachings and that you should practice his form of Buddhism or else you will burn in hell. I understand that he felt the world was about to end so that influenced his sense of urgency. However, modern day practitioners take his style of proselytizing at face value and also to try emulate him. That’s why there are so many flame wars on the internet in the Nichiren community.

I had this idea of reading The Dhammapada after every liturgy session. I also had this idea of reading The Enchiridion as well.

The Dhammapada is one of the earliest books in the Buddhist canon. In this book, the Buddha expounds on the importance of keeping mindful of one’s thoughts, words, and actions as well as the beauty of self-discipline. When I returned to the US from South Korea the first time I was teaching there, I felt nothing but anger and bitterness at the world. My anger was so deep that I was seriously thinking of killing myself. This is one of the books that got me to live and change my life for the better. It’s also one book I would recommend to others because the text is very clear in its meaning and the teachings can benefit anyone no matter one’s religion or lack thereof.

Then there is The Enchiridion. The Enchiridion is more of a pamphlet than a book as it has less than 50 pages of text. One hard copy I had was no thicker than 5 mm! Still, good things do come in small packages. This is a book written by a student of the Greek philosopher Epictetus, who was taking notes on the philosopher’s lectures. Just like the Buddha, Epictetus also expounds the importance of self-discipline as a way to total freedom. Epictetus also offers practices to in order to live that Stoic lifestyle.

Thus far, I have been praying this way for a couple of days now. While I have had trouble starting the liturgy sessions, reading those texts ends them quite nicely.

If this goes on quite well, and if I feel myself changing for the better, I might incorporate other Buddhists and Stoic texts. Once I am done with Dhammpada I might start reading the Spell of Emptiness. Once I am done with the Enchiridion, I will start with Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations.

As I also have an hour long commute to work (and another hour to get back home), I am also thinking of listening to Earl Nightingale’s audio series, “The Direct Line.” I have listened to the first of the series before and maybe a couple more. They are great and have lots of awesome ideas. The only reason why I have not made a decision in listening is because I want to have as much leisure as possible before I deal with the drudgery of work.

Lately, I have been unearthing my old CDs from high school and find myself enjoying the sound of music, which was something I haven’t done in years. Last night, on the way home, I had a profoundly spiritual experience listening to Led Zeppelin’s Achilles Last Stand.

 

*If you click the links to The Enchiridion and Marcus Aurelius’s Meditations, you will be asked to sign in. Just click on cancel and you can still access both works.

Let the Wookie win

Now that I am fully vaccinated, I was given the talk: get a job!

I agreed with that.

Here’s also what they said: Get a job in America and don’t go back to Asia!

That’s where we disagreed.

Tempers flared up, we fought and we also kept out of each others’ way for a whole week. Unfortunately, I came to realize I have no choice but to do as they say: stay in this country whether I like it or not.

Before you nationalists give me problems, America is an okay country but I prefer living over in Asia a lot more. There is a lot more life in the streets and the people there are a lot friendlier, especially in Thailand. Sure there are somethings I did miss about the US, such as being able to access old books and the varieties of pizza, but for the most part I enjoyed the romance and adventure that Asian travel has to offer.

By the way I know a lot of Americans, Canadians, Brits, Aussies, and Kiwis who are established in Asia and are having the time of their lives. At this point, it doesn’t seem like I am destined for that happy existence.

To be honest, one of the reasons why I felt depressed is that I feel like staying here in the US is the equivalent of purgatory or limbo: I am working my days away while waiting to die. Back in Thailand, I would go on my scooter and speed around the countryside. In Korea, I would take a bus and hike trails in the mountain and visit remote shrines and temples. In China, I would practice some kung-fu with some friends and have a beer afterwards. I am sure I would do something exciting in Taiwan. What would I do here in the US? Basically work and then kill time watching TV, that’s how it feels for me.

Considering how much I love Thailand, I was going to get myself established there. If not, I heard Taiwan is a pretty awesome place to live as well and it also helps that I can speak a fair amount of Mandarin Chinese. In both cases, unfortunately, this stupid pandemic got in the way.

However, here is one little point of optimism that is keeping me going and that got me out of my week-long funk, at the very least I can use my newfound meditation skills to get myself living a more fulfilling life. I will try to use my meditation skills to help me get better work over in Thailand or Taiwan, even if that means staying as an English teacher. If I am to be stuck here in the US until I die, at least I will also try to make the best of my life here.

Either way, at least I can show how meditation can help out with these things.

I am also going back to a Zen practice as well. For the longest time I have been wanting to practice Zen outlined in Master Wong Kiew Kit’s book, The Complete Book of Zen. I don’t think that way is practicable for me at this point. Instead, I will do the one proposed by Ven. Pomnyun.

In one of Ven. Pomnyun’s books, and I forget which one, he proposes that each morning we do the 108 bows and each evening we do a liturgy practice.

So I figure, why not go down this route? I would wake up in the morning, do some calisthenics and isometric exercises and then go into the 108 bows and cool down with some qigong. In the evening, I would start with some qigong, do the liturgy practice and then finish with meditation.

I do hope to see some changes within 4 months of consistent practice, so I think would spend each Friday or Saturday writing of my progress (or lack thereof) on my blog. So I will consider this new leg of my journey a new12 week challenge.

Will I continue my Canadian Air Force Workout? I don’t know, but more likely not. Will I keep this schedule going? It all depends. If I get a stable 9-5 job, then sure, since the hours won’t change. If I get my old job back, or something else like it, where my hours change almost every 2 weeks then definitely no.

As one of my friends likes say: Here’s to hoping.

Week 24 Commentary

Here is my commentary for Week 24 of Charles Haanel’s Master Key System. In order to understand the context of what I am writing about, please read the actual lesson at: https://www.psitek.net/pages/PsiTekTMKS49.html

What can I say? This is probably one of the most beautiful chapters in this entire book. I plowed through this entire section because it’s so inspiring to read.

First, I’d like to address one issue that I disagree with. Haanel still preaches that we can manifest anything we want as long as we understand the “universal truth” that mind is everything. I still question that because there are physical laws outside of our cognition that we can’t bend just because we want them to.

Bringing up an old example: I can desire, meditate, and visualize myself being married to Hong Kong actress Maggie Cheung all I want, but there is no way it’s gonna happen. We’re in different parts of the world, have different ways of living, and are of different income brackets. Maybe if I was a Hollywood actor, I would have a chance. But as a regular Joe Schmoe, you got to be kidding me.

One of the abilities I have always wanted to do as a kid was fly like Peter Pan and Superman. I would still love to do that, especially since I could go to New York in 30 minutes for the pizza or Boston for its bread bowl soup. Again, laws of physics don’t allow us to fly like that.

So exactly what is meditation good for? Why do I advocate everyone to try it out, regardless of religious background?

Let me first bring up the concept of karma. In the cultural appropriated Western viewpoint, karma is a form of retribution. If you lie to, cheat, or steal from someone God, the Universe, or whatever will punish you for it. However, speaking as an Indian-American, there is another part of the equation that is missing—–if you do good for others and help them in any which way you can, then you shall be rewarded in some form or fashion. Doing more good brings about greater luck and happiness aka “good karma”.

If you ask me, too many people focus on “not doing evil” and less on “doing good”. It doesn’t have to be donating millions of dollars to an orphanage, although that’s nice. It can be picking up litter in the park, donating your unwanted books and other materials to charities. It could also be spending time writing a nice letter or email to a friend. If you want more ideas on building good karma, I recommend “Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff” by Dr. Richard Carlson.

What is it that brings about good karma? Good actions. What about bad karma? Bad actions. What is it that brings about the actions we perform? Our thinking. That’s what is one benefit of meditation. Once we meditate, we start understanding how and why we think and act. Through our meditation, we can monitor our cognition and change it accordingly.

You may not believe in karma, and of course not all good or bad actions bring about good or bad results, but all of our actions do have consequences. As human beings, it is in our best interest to bring about as many good consequences as possible.

Does that mean meditation is required? Not any more required than physical exercise, study, or eating vegetables. You won’t get into trouble for not doing these things, but it will help if you do.

There is a lot more to meditation than just simply understanding one’s thinking, as awesome of an ability as it is. As many have written before, creative visualization is a good way to navigate one’s life towards a certain goal. The more you will visualize attaining a certain goal, the more likely you will work towards it.

But let’s say you are still working towards your goals or you don’t really have one. Meditation still helps as well.

When you relax into a meditative state, there are times that you will come up with these amazing thoughts and ideas to try out. This is nothing mystical. Commonly this phenomena is known as “shower thoughts” as this happens when we are completely relaxed, like taking a shower. This is when your subconscious mind is processing all the input that you give it and then coming up with a new thought. Those inputs can range from what you see and feel to what you think and desire.

One of my favorite meditation techniques is the one I tried on Week 17. It’s not from Charles Haanel but from Earl Nightingale. It is a good exercise in brainstorming. Please click the link and try the technique. It feels all sorts of magical.

Even then, one of the greatest pandemics of the modern world is not COVID-19 as much as it is stress. We’ve been so used to stress that it feels really normal. Meditation is a great way to de-stress oneself after a busy day. Once we can de-stress ourselves, we can have a lot more energy in our lives to more things. We can also get a good night’s sleep if we meditate before bedtime.

If you ask me, one of the main reasons why a lot of people don’t exercise or work on their own goals is because they are too damn stressed to do so!

The best thing about meditation is that you can finally learn how to be free by controlling yourself. Many of us have been conditioned to let outside circumstances control us. We would feel happy if someone flatters us, but feel sad if someone insults us. If we are in need of a job or of a relationship, we’d feel powerless. If we have a job or a relationship, sometimes it feel precarious. Therefore, after a decent amount of practice of meditation, we will realize within the very fiber of our being that we can control our lives once we put control over ourselves. Once we control ourselves, we control our own destiny.

I believe in the utility of meditation so much that I will actually write an online course for free distribution. I know I say this for lots of things, but I will make this online meditation course a priority. I want to make it simplified–free of all theory, drama, and doctrine–for everyone to try.

If this course benefits at least one person, then I will be happy enough.

My Magic Spells (Ver. 3.0) and Secular Bowing

I haven’t done nor written about the 108 bows in a long time. Despite this, however, I won’t give up on it yet. Hopefully when I move out and even get my own place, I can finally get myself back to bowing (among other things).

Still, if I were to die tomorrow, I would die happy having done the 108 bows at least once in my life. That’s how much I love doing them. I also wish other people try them out for a week and see how they feel.

Does anyone really need to be a Buddhist to do the 108 bows? Not anymore than being a Buddhist practicing Shaolin Kung-fu, a Daoist practicing Taiji, or a Hindu doing yoga. I also think meditation is good for everyone evidenced by the fact that Hindus, Buddhists, and Daoists all meditate. So it doesn’t really belong in one religion, nor should it.

In South Korea, where I learned of the bows, it still carries heavy Buddhist connotations. Thankfully, non-Buddhists such as Christians and atheists are trying them out. There is even a Catholic doctor who wrote a book on the bows.

When most people do the bows, they tend to simply count each one just like any other exercise. However, there are those who say a prayer or aphorism per each bow. In fact, some temples even give out a list of prayers for the practitioner to recite in a group or for individual practice. I used to recite this list from the Korean Jogye Order of Zen. The same organization published this new one. The Kwan Um school has their own version. The Chinese practitioners would do the bows in accordance to the Great Repentance of the 88 Buddhas. Personally, this one here is my favorite.

There are more lists.

With so many of them being around, I wonder: why didn’t anyone make a more secularized list? One of the lists I linked somewhat can fulfill that need, but I still think some people may not be comfortable reciting it.

That was when I had this idea: Why not take my own list of affirmations and expand it to 108 of them? That way, anyone can do the bows in a spiritual-but-not-religious manner.

That was the original idea. However, it was too much of a monumental task, especially since I found that a lot of affirmation lists tend to repeat each other and themselves.

Somehow I was able to make a list of 18 affirmations. That way, one can simply do six sets of “18 bows” to fulfill the 108 mark.

While I cannot really do the bows due to my home situation, I invite you to try it out for yourselves and see how you like it.

Right now, in my case, I am still going to recite this list as I would for my morning affirmations with the Optimists’ Creed.

Without any further ado, my magic spells plus the Creed:

  1. Where I am right now is exactly where I need to be.

  2. I have a purpose in this life.

  3. I surround myself by those who make me better.

  4. I am a magnet for joy, love, and abundance.

  5. Money flows easily and effortlessly to me.

  6. I am enough.

  7. Every day and in every way I get better and better.

  8. I change my thoughts, I change my world.

  9. The more love I give, the more love I receive.

  10. I am open to the abundance of the universe.

  11. I am whole, perfect, strong, powerful, loving, harmonious, and happy.

  12. I can be what I will to be.

  13. I am thankful for everyone and everything in my life.

  14. There are 1440 minutes in a day and I shall spend as many of them as I can in happiness and positivity.

  15. Success is the best revenge.

  16. Today is a perfect day to do good for others.

  17. I see the beauty in everything and in everyone.

  18. In the end, everything turns out for the best.