Category Archives: stress reduction

Perspectives on Forgivness


The spiritual path is always easy until it isn’t easy.  Forgiveness, for instance, is something that most people say is good, and it is extolled by nearly every religion.  Yet when we are actually wronged, it can be so unspeakably difficult to choose forgiveness that it often seems like an unattainable ideal that human beings are simply not wired to embody. Yet I believe that forgiveness is literally inseparable from our relationship to God, and when we do not forgive, we do ourselves a great disservice.

Forgiveness is not merely a good sentiment, or even the “correct” thing to do.  Rather, it is a profound spiritual principal that, when we choose it, has innumerable blessings to reveal.  Forgiveness is a vast and profound topic, but in this post I’ll share my thoughts on five dimensions of it: forgiveness and health, forgiveness and God’s love, forgiveness and karma, forgiveness of yourself, and forgiveness and non-duality.

Continue reading

Working from the State of Rest

America is one of the only countries on planet Earth that is, in its ideal sense, not defined by ethnic identity.  Ethnicity has, of course, played a huge role in our formation as a nation, and still unfortunately heavily influences us today.  Yet I am talking about America in an ideal sense.  Germany is primarily composed of the German ethnicity, France is the home of the French, Mexico has a majority of Mexicans, etc.  What is a America, however?  In its ideal sense, it is a nation of people who share a set of governmental values, and also a group of people who are seeking to create their own identity.  To be an American means to lack an ethnic root that other nations take for granted.  This fact has had interesting psychological effects on us and, in my opinion, has generally produced a restlessness that, for better or worse, has helped produce one of the most domineering and massive economies to ever exist.

Our diminishment of ethnic identity has caused us to seek identity elsewhere, and nowhere is this misplaced identity more apparent than in the way we relate to work.  From birth, we hear the word “do” repeated like a mantra that endlessly jabs our souls like a searing brand.  From almost the moment we leave the womb, we are asked, “What do you want DO with your life?” instead of “How do you want to BE?” As adults, when we meet people, the first thing we usually ask after asking someone’s name is, “What do you do?”  I do, I do, I do… When we describe ourselves, our professional identity usually is preeminent: I am a doctor.  I am a construction worker. I am a teacher.  I am, I am, I am…

In recent years, God has been working to reprogram my brain from this repressive and capitalistic way of thinking about identity.  What I do is indeed important because, in a society, we must all contribute, and I have a natural desire to help people with my work.  Yet I refuse to think about myself in terms of my contribution to the economy.  Factoring out my career, what do I do?  Ultimately, I BE.  I live inside of God’s Mind in a state of indescribable Union with the ever-blissful Lord of the Universe.  And who am I, in a more personal, dualistic sense?  I am a child of the Most High God, unconditionally loved with an depth that couldn’t be described, even if all the trees of this world were converted into a single scroll filled with love sonnets from the timeless Muse.  Even if I achieve more than any human being has ever achieved, God will not love me one iota more or less.  What I do affects my own karma and life circumstances, but my identity is not based upon my work, but upon God’s Love that is entirely unaffected by it.  Blessed and forever praised is the One who has revealed this to me!

Continue reading

A Meeting with the Cosmic Boss – The Missing “Step” in the Steps to Success

There are a zillion blogs on the internet that give people “steps of success,” and many of them contain wonderful practical wisdom.  In my opinion, there is a “step” in the steps to success that is frequently missing, and that is having an “appointment” with God.  I do not worship the God of a religion, but the One Spirit that intelligently governs creation and has a purpose for every part of it.  Does the nameless and infinitely glorious One who is manifesting this very miraculous moment, and this very indescribably massive universe, have a religion?  Can the Infinite One be called a Muslim, or a Jew, or a Christian, or a Hindu?  Like tiny bickering birds scattering when a majestic lion appears on the scene, the confusing doctrines of our Earth’s various religions vanish entirely when you have an inward revelation that there is a Great Something that is responsible for everything, that It is intimately aware of you, and that It has a purpose for your existence.  Ultimately we are all different forms of God Itself, but in this post I am discussing God in Its personal aspect of Creator.  That is for another discussion, however…

In my opinion, this Great Something has a purpose for everyone, a plan A.  However, “God is a gentleman,” so to speak, and although He holds the key to our material and spiritual fulfillment, He will never force us to seek Him or to ask for His help.  God can do things for you in an instant that it would take you lifetimes to do on your own.  God can open doors of opportunity in a day that people work their entire lives for.  God can give you inward joy that when compared to all the wealth in the world is like a massive diamond compared to a dust ball in your pocket.

Continue reading

Becoming a Master of Technology: Developing a Skillful Relationship with Technology from the Perspective of Spiritual Practice


– In the 21st century, we must all learn to balance our use of technology with a lifestyle that is conduce to mental, physical, and spiritual health.


What a fascinating age we live in!  Imagine traveling through time, and explaining the mystery of the internet to an ancient Roman citizen.  Imagine approaching Isaac Newton, holding up an I-Phone, and saying, “All the knowledge of humankind is now contained in this.”  Imagine Galileo, who worked tirelessly to create a telescope capable of seeing Jupiter’s relatively nearby moons, gazing through the famous Hubble Telescope at untold galaxy clusters that populate an ever-expanding universe!

Technology is a beautiful expression of the human mind, yet the way we use technology also reflects the dichotomy of the human condition, and our age old capacity for both good and evil.  The internet, for instance, is potentially the most innovative tool the human mind has ever created.  It has the capacity to educate every human being on Earth about the subtlest discoveries in science, the humanities, spirituality, and the arts.  Yet, a vast portion of it is used exclusively for pornography and cat videos… To use another well worn example, nuclear energy has the capacity to support humanity by providing power for entire nations; yet, as we all unfortunately know, it could also destroy the planet many times over.

I mention all this because I am philosophical by nature, and I typically cannot simply talk about a topic without shamelessly digressing about grand themes. This post wont be a grand exploration of technology’s effect on human society; rather, it will be a series of observations and practical tips about how to skillfully manage daily technology use from a spiritual perspective.

Continue reading

Purposes of Meditation

I have been practicing Buddhist meditation nearly every day, usually in the Zen style, for the past five years.  I have also attended 10 week long silent meditation retreats and undergone 9 months of residential training at a Zen monastery.  Yet what surprises many people I talk to is that I do not identify myself a Buddhist, for I feel that all religions are merely paths to God and I do not wish to label myself with one exclusively.  I also sometimes take a more personal approach to the Divine that is usually not present in Buddhist circles, although I ultimately understand that God/Buddha is fundamentally a direct experience and is actually my own True Nature.

I do, however, consider myself a serious practioner of Zen Buddhist meditation, and I have found that this practice has benefited me immensely.  In this brief post I’ll explore a few reasons why I think Zen meditation can be beneficial for both the religious and the non-religious alike.

Natural stress reduction

The most common introductory Zen practice is simply concentrating on your natural breath, a practice that requires no faith and that anyone can easily experiment with.  And it is now virtually a scientific consensus that this type of mindfulness meditation is linked with actual stress reduction.  And stress in our modern world is something that unfortunately is nearly universal.  In America we have so many options, the world is so freakishly fast paced and interconnected, and information speeds through our brains at a level that probably far exceeds all past generations.

This fast paced world seems to stress people out on a mass scale, and meditation can be a natural medicine for this stress.  When I meditate I find that my brain literally relaxes in a physical way.  Especially on a busy day, meditation tangibly reduces my stress in a way that I can actually feel.  Most people realize they are stressed, yet don’t see the obvious truth that stress is the result of having little control over their own thoughts.  We all understand that our bodies need to rest, and that if we exercise them constantly they will get worn down.  Do we not see that the muscle of the mind will make us stressed and depleted if we don’t intentionally still our thoughts from time to time?

Meditation, in this sense, is a non-sectarian and completely natural medicine for stress and a tool to quiet the restless thinking mind.  Its easy to make meditation into something “otherworldly” and forget that Zen meditation is, first and foremost, the physical practice of concentrating the mind on the present moment as it already is.  Is your breath “Buddhist” or “Jewish” or “Muslim?”  Its high time we begin viewing mindfulness meditation as a universal practice that all can benefit from and not the hoarded treasure of a niche spiritual community.

I don’t practice meditation because some ancient book told me to or because some guy with a backwards collar said I should. Rather, I practice meditation largely because I have found again and again through my own experience that it reduces my stress and makes me a more peaceful person.  When I practice meditation in the morning for 20-30 minutes, I find that I can start the day from a place of calm and relaxation.  And when I practice meditation after a long day of business I find it naturally rejuvenates my energy level.  So even if I did not believe in the potential of enlightenment and understand the more spiritual reasons for meditation I would still meditate for its practical physical and psychological benefits.

Meditation as a tool to experience our own God-Nature

From a more spiritual perspective, I believe that we are fundamentally Spirit/God/Buddha, or whatever word you want to call the Divine .  Yet while this is the case it is a mysterious truth that the majority of people have not actually experienced this.  We may intellectually understand we are the deathless and changeless Buddha Mind, but if we are honest we will see that we have a deeply rooted habit of falsely identifying with our limited body, feelings, and thinking mind much of the time.

The other side of meditation is inquiry into the “Great matter of birth and death,” (A Zen saying referring to the quest for enlightenment) and concentration is not a goal in itself but merely a means to that end.  By calming our thinking mind through meditation we set the stage to investigate our own nature.  And just as we cannot see our reflection in a boiling pot of water, so we cannot see the truth of our own original enlightenment if our mind is distracted by thoughts and clouded by desire.  In meditation we still our mind, and then from this place of calm begin to ask the question, “What is experiencing this?”  “What is aware?”  “Who am I really?” By persistently investigating these questions in the context of deep concentration and mindfulness, I believe we all have the capacity to awaken to the truth that our own awareness is God Itself.  The goal of the spiritual path is this direct experience, one that many prophets and sages throughout time have testified to in a variety of both literal and symbolic ways.

So meditation is not merely a tool to calm the thinking mind, although this is an obvious and wonderful benefit of the practice. In my view, Zen meditation is fundamentally a technology that, if pursued singlemindedly and wholeheartedly, can lead to the direct realization of what is called “God” or “Buddha Nature.”  In this experience we are set free, for we realize that everything – the good and the bad, the pleasant and the painful, the ups and the downs, our body, humanity, and even the whole universe – is merely the dream of a nameless Dreamer who is perfect, deathless, and changeless. And it is my deepest conviction that anyone, through the regular practice of meditation and the grace of God, can realize this deep truth in this very body and enjoy forevermore the bliss that all people are really seeking and that cannot be found in any impermanent thing.

Meditation as an expression of our God-Nature

The great paradox of Zen is that we are already the deathless Buddha in this moment, but that, mysteriously, great efforts in meditation are required to actually experience this truth.  Yet we should never think that in meditation we are gaining anything.  Enlightenment is merely realizing what has always been true, seeing that God is what is already seeing with your eyes and hearing with your ears in this moment.   This very moment is God manifesting Itself to Itself, a blessed perfection based on Its own miraculous and rationally inexplicable existence.   A great historical Zen teacher named Ehei Dogen wrote that our practice, or zazen (seated meditation), is itself enlightenment.  When we sit down to practice meditation, we are not trying to get enlightenment.  Rather, in meditation we are naturally expressing our own enlightened nature.  Because Dogen perceived this inexpressible and wonderful truth he called zazen the “dharma gate of ease and joy.”  From this perspective meditation is not merely stress reduction tool or even a tool to experience enlightenment-it is rather a joyous celebration and a serenely natural manifestation of the Enlightenment Mind we have never one been separate from!

For a deeper explanation of how I view meditation, God, and the spiritual path, check out my book in the book tab of this website.  I have also suggest in the appendix of this book several great books on how to begin a meditation practice in the Zen style.  If you are interested in meditation I recommend starting a daily meditation practice for a period of time you think you can stick to  (20 minutes per day is a good starting number) and consider attending extended meditation retreats.

May you and all beings awaken and realize that your own awareness in this very moment is God/Buddha/Tao/Allah/Krishna/Christ Itself.  With love,