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I know everything, but I don't know my mind

The hype; Mindfulness training for lay people

October 9, 2013

Mindfulness training has been quite a hype since Jon Kabat-Zinn gave the training to Google employees. After waiting for some years at last there are some courses offered at the local volksuniversiteit. For one course they refer to a teacher from the local Vipassana Center, which means that probably the teacher does have proper theoretical and practical knowledge of the original meditation technique Vipassana.

However I find the short information online not clear enough, they mention something like ‘learn to focus your mind in a specific way.’ The goal is to get relaxation, increase personal well-being and in the end increase productivity. Long live capitalism!

I am curious what kind of theory they lecture on such training, yet since I have no plan to pay more than a hundred euro for it, and nobody around me seems to be interested to take a course either, I suppose that I am not going to find out soon.

Yet, there is no mention at all about ‘suffering,’ which happens to be the most important concept in the original Buddhist meditation. Not to say about realizing the three characteristics of existence, anicca dukkha anatta. On the other hand, suffering might freak the course takers out. Who wants to suffer? We want to be happy just like everyone else, right? Nowadays it’s getting more difficult to fulfill social expectations, especially since they expect you to be ‘happy.’

My last meditation teacher from Germany, who has spent more than 20 years in Myanmar, learned different methods of Vipassana(1)  and attended the Buddhist university in Yangon, is very strict concerning the definition of mindfulness.

You can only speak of mindfulness (sati) when it leads to the insight of the three characteristics of existence, anicca dukkha anatta. When there is no such insight, probably it merely concerns a special way of paying attention (manasikara).

Nope, happiness does not happen to be one of the three characteristics, and it never will. In this life you can be certain of suffering; happiness is another story.

Prof. Richard Bentall from Liverpool University once proposed that happiness should be classified as a psychiatric affective disorder, since the happy person ‘suffers’ from a range of cognitive abnormalities, especially a lack of contact with reality.

While Nagarjuna, undoubtfully one of the most important Buddhist philosophers, dared to go even further and declared in Mūlamadhyamakakārikā that for a liberated person, even Nirvana is not different that Samsara - they are both empty (śūnya).

If Nirvana itself is empty and should not be craved for, why should a serious meditator striving for a lesser goal – happiness?

Note:

(1) to make things more complicated, apparently there are more than one Vipassana meditation technique! While I always thought that there was only one Vipassana, the one written in the (Maha) Satipatthana Sutta. I already encountered two techniques, and in the future may learn the third one from another teacher.

Why old novels are long, melodramatic and at times depressing

July 23, 2013

What do you expect when you are reading a novel of an existentialist (Simone de Beauvoir) about the life of intellectuals in Paris in a post-war era? Though I (painfully) recognize most of the questions asked since the story concerns a group of 30+ up to 60 yrs old, sometimes it can get really long, melodramatic and at times depressing. It’s not that I am not enjoying myself, it’s just extremely long and slow.

Maybe I am not immune to the influence of internet, gadgets, apps etc after all, where news should be catchy, short and lack depth.

After all it was not that bad to have no TV, no smart-phone in the old times (hey, the smartphone still had to be invented), it was really my Lumbini period.

You can’t have everything

July 13, 2013

I used to be able to read many more books in my student time. No TV, no gadgets to distract me (actually I was too poor to buy a new TV when the old one was broken). Now that I can buy more books, it becomes a luxury to have the time and energy to read them.

Like the old story goes; 

A young guy wants to travel to see the world. He has the time, but not the money. Then he works, he still wants to see the world. Now he has the money but no time. He gets old and retire from work. He has the money and the time, but lacks the will to go.

Aquatic

July 13, 2013
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I have a love-hate relationship with aquatic plants. I buy them to make the fish happy, but after a while they wither, got algae all over and I need to throw them away. However one of the neglected plants flowered last week, it is a spadix, like the one you get in Anthurium. It sparks some hope that mayble the plant decided not to succumb under the algae attack just yet. 

Lately I use liquid fertilizer for the terresterial plants and notice the difference, so I suppose it should work, too, with aquatic ones. But no, the information I found on internet says you can’t use the same fertilizer for aquarium, since the normal fertilizer might contain harmful stuff for the fish. So I ordered Easy Life – Profito, and gave the first dose to the plants. Now wait and see.

Hello Blog

June 15, 2013
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It’s been a long time ago that I had a look at this blog. I forgot the password! See you back soon.

Catatan Post Mortem

June 14, 2012

Hari ini ibu saya resmi 33 hari jadi almarhumah. 12 Mei 2012; tepat 7 minggu setelah saya mengucapkan selamat ulang tahun ke-63 dan dikabari bahwa ibu saya sehat walafiat. Tepat 5 minggu setelah diagnosa kanker payudara pertama kali diucapkan oleh dokter. Tepat 4 minggu setelah hasil X-thorax, USG hati, bone scan dan histologi patologi keluar lengkap. Tepat 4 minggu setelah ibu dibawa pulang ke rumah saja karena dunia medis tidak bisa menawarkan apa-apa selain perawatan paliatif.

Dan ibu saya pun memilih pergi 3 hari setelah saya memutuskan untuk kembali ke negeri antah-berantah. Satu hari setelah saya mengabarkan bahwa saya sudah dapat tanggal untuk maju sidang PhD. 15-20 menit setelah saya bilang lewat telpon, sudah saya relakan kepergianmu, berangkatlah kapan saja.

Semua fase duka cita pun datang. Memangnya siapa saya ini maka bisa bilang saya pasti kuat dan tidak apa-apa? Semua akan datang pada waktunya. Dan tidak ada jaminan bahwa mereka akan pergi dalam waktu singkat. Dalam heningnya malam dan dinginnya pagi, datang bagai ombak mengempas tiap hari. Biar pun fisik dipaksa diseret tiap pagi menuju lokasi kerja, realitas timbul tenggelam karena otak butuh waktu berduka cita. Dan pilihan jalan hidup saya tidak memberi tempat pada ilusi apalagi delusi. Tiap gelombang datang, hal terbaik yang bisa saya lakukan cuma menyebutkan situasi apa adanya; saya dalam fase penolakan, saya depresi. Dst.

Saat saya bilang ke seorang kawan, saya depresi, malah saya disuruh pergi olahraga. Tapi saya sedang depresi, kalau saya turuti kata otak alias emosi, tiap hari saya akan tidur sepanjang hari dan bukannya pergi ke kantor apalagi cerita bahwa saya depresi dengan setengah cengengesan setengah meringis. Tapi habituasi manusia memang berusaha mengalihkan perhatian dari kondisi saat ini, dan gerakan itu sendiri (termasuk olahraga) sudah terkenal berfungsi seolah-olah menutupi kesakitan; “O saya baik-baik saja, tidak apa-apa. Setelah olahraga saya akan jadi ceria. I’ll be just fine.”

Well, I am not fine. My mother just died.

Sehari-hari orang-orang susah menerima saat dikasih kabar bahwa seseorang sedang dalam kondisi buruk secara mental. Jadi malah sibuk mencarikan alternatif mengalihkan perhatian ke apa saja deh. Padahal mengalihkan perhatian macam ini cuma efek/ tipuan sementara, bukan solusi.

Dalam minggu-minggu terakhir ini saya belajar memaknai Jalan Tengah (Middle Way) dengan konteks pengalaman hidup baru; kehilangan.

Nirvana is not when suffering stops, but when suffering stops bothering you

Bukan eradikasi dukkha, tapi kerelaan untuk hidup bersama dengan dukkha. Saat dukkha tidak lagi ditolak apalagi dimaki-maki, tapi dibukakan pintu dan dipersilakan masuk.

This is the real atapi sampajano satima.

Menunggu Kapal karam

August 14, 2010


Setiap orang tentunya ingin bahagia. Walau kata bahagia itu sendiri seringkali rancu, dicampur aduk dengan kemapanan secara material. Di saat manusia mengalami hidup di mana beban dan tanggung jawab terus bertambah, meningkat pula kebingungan dan pencarian akan kebahagiaan.

Bukan satu dua orang bertanya,
“Bagaimana caranya hidup lebih bermutu?”,
“Bagaimana caranya menjadi manusia yang lebih baik?”
“Bagaimana caranya menemukan makna hidup?”

Komentar saya standar, “Meditasi. Itu cara yang paling efisien dan efektif.”

Respon yang diberikan penanya pun standar, “Hahaha, kayaknya gue belum butuh.”

Jadi kapan baru mau merasa butuh/ kepepet?

Seumpama belajar meditasi diumpamakan orang belajar berenang. Secara hidup ini penuh ketidakpastian, layaknya orang berlayar tiap hari bertemu badai di tengah laut. Apakah harus menunggu kapalnya karam, baru merasa butuh, baru mau belajar renang?

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