People’s egos will read this quote by the Buddha and they will primarily imagine themselves in the role of the fool who probably already has their answers but they’re just too dumb to be able to see them. Fine, if you’re living with more ego than you want then the last part does define you, therefore it’s irrelevant to getting you where you’re going. That means it’s the first part of the statement you should be focusing on. There’s your lesson from the Buddha.

“Does the spoon taste the soup?” Where does experience happen and to whom? A body can be said to have senses but when you’re anaesthetised at the hospital they put your brain to sleep because that’s where we imagine the dance of experience takes place. The anaesthesia interrupts your thoughts and without those there is no you to have an experience. The idea of you only emerges through the duality of the body and mind, but if these are made One there is no source and no delivery. The act of acceptance isn’t to be yourself and accept or reject some other thing, it’s to lose your sense of self and become One with the experience, making the question largely irrelevant from the new perspective.

996-relax-and-succeed-if-a-tree-falls-in-the-forestThe famous philosophical question about a tree falling in a forest is also a question about duality. It doesn’t have an answer in the classical sense, instead there is an understanding  that manages to flatten the riddle by taking a 1D view over a 2D question.

It might be easier at first to imagine the tree falling and sound waves departing its location and then they strike an eardrum. You can see how sound is dependent on a duality? It is a wave until it strikes a receiver that can turn it into a “particle” of sound. But what if “you” were there but you weren’t using thought to separate yourself from reality? Can you see there could still be the experience within a state of oneness but there would be no separate parts? There wouldn’t be things happening there would just be reality. Before we divided the world with words there were no waves there was only the ocean.

The point isn’t to be smart and figure out a riddle, the point is to stop creating oneself and simply be with reality. You’re supposed to flow, not imagine yourself as a molecule of water asking another molecule of water if they know what a river is. You don’t need to know the river you need to be the river.

996-relax-and-succeed-we-all-know-that-when-we-bringTribes who still live the old ways don’t have separate senses. They don’t hear, feel, see, smell and taste life, they experience it. It is one whole to them and they too are a part of that whole. If life were a giant collage on a church floor you’d be asking about the individual pieces and the native would only see the whole. They couldn’t even discuss it as pieces because that would require a sense of separateness from the experience. They would have to leave reality to become separate enough to name the parts and then discuss their interactions with other separate people-parts. Meanwhile in reality, where everything is one, creation would still be there chugging along in the background.

It’s funny, because it’s really so remarkably simple. Little kids do this every day without ever knowing that the words and ideas that we will teach them will divide reality up enough until they’ll eventually have a separate self that they can approve or disapprove of. And I don’t think you need me to tell you about that. That often belittling self is probably what motivated you to read this in the first place. 🙂

I know Virtual Reality is currently the rage, but contrary to what’s popular I would encourage you to get yourself a 1D view on life, because that view is the one that truly sees all.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organisations locally and around the world.

Buddhas Among Us

813 LW-R Relax and Succeed - Be soft do not let the world make you hardToday is Remembrance Day in Canada, and so like every year I will be at the cenotaph with my parents , who both served during wartime. Today I leave you with a piece that reminds me a lot of my Dad. May it bring peace to your soul.

Lest we forget.

peace, s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.

Happiness Is Where We Find It

You can’t find spiritual enlightenment or salvation by seeking it. I realize this seems ironic but it’s true. Seeking requires a form of attachment. We have to use our consciousness to imagine our future in order to pursue a goal. There is a finish line. An objective. There is winning and losing. So we know we’re functioning in ego because spirit doesn’t recognize any of those concepts. Winning and losing are mental constructs, as are finishing, goals and objectives. We know this because it’s possible for two people to both feel they have won—or both feel they have lost—in a competition with each other. This is a demonstration of how flexible human consciousness and ergo reality is.

440 Relax and Succeed - Happiness is where we find itI’m not sure if it’s apocryphal or not, but I heard a story when visiting NASA as a kid, that the reason astronauts sleep with the lights on and blindfolds on is because during the first missions when the astronauts slept in the dark, their arms would float out in front of them. They would awaken and see something floating in front of them and their brain would tell their arm and hand to move out to that spot to see what was floating there. But because the arm and the hand was what was floating out there, moving to there was impossible. Are you catching my drift? Something can’t go to where it already is. You can’t be found if you’ve never been lost.

Every soul is born a Buddha. And then you get confused. Or lost. At least it feels that way. In reality your spirit is on an adventure. You’ve lived all the easy silly fun lives. You’re bored. Do the movies you watch have no tense or sad or horrific scenes? Why do you watch those? You don’t only watch comedies. You like action movies and dramas and horrors and maybe even the odd tear jerker. So if you’ll do that for entertainment why won’t you do it for salvation?

440 Relax and Succeed - You are valuable because you existLet things be. Including yourself. Don’t create a world where everything’s right. Live rightly in the world. Allow it to unfold in its magnificent grace. And go whichever direction your nature takes you. For your nature is not leading to somewhere. It’s the verb of you moving through experiences. It exists in the present moment. And it is always fine with whatever happens.

Okay, can you mix those ideas together so that the opening quote makes perfect sense? If you’re seeking enlightenment you’re assuming you’re not already enlightened, and so you’re trying to get where you already are. So you don’t become healthier by changing yourself some way. You realize health by coming to know the truth about how your daily experience is formed.

You don’t try to be mentally healthy because that’s an outside-looking-in perspective. You allow yourself to already be healthy by not thinking that the way you are is wrong. Because your true contentment does not come from outside sources like things or approval. It is born out of the richness of a complete and utter lack of need. The person who lacks nothing is the richest person indeed. And the person who is most spiritual the one who no longer seeks God because they have found a way to become One with God.

Now stop thinking that you need to be anything other than what you are. And use that confidence and value and love and go make yourself rich with happiness. 😉

peace. s

Einstein’s Last Answer

Winner: 2013’s Blog of the Year: #3192 Relax and Succeed - When you really pay attentionLast night I heard the replay of an interview with some scholar on Michael Enright’s program, The Sunday Edition. He claimed that the very last answer Albert Einstein gave in life was to the question: If you were to start your life over again, is there anything you would do differently? And supposedly the greatest scientist known to modern man replied, “I would study more Talmud.” There are debates about whether this actually happened, but supposing it did: what would it teach us?


For those unfamiliar with it, think of the Talmud as essentially a Jewish holy book. Interesting. A noted scientist wishing he would have read more of a religious text would have a lot of people recoiling, and yet many scientists are religious. It is true that religious belief was at the heart of many an ugly deed done by mankind. But what people believe and what was intended can easily be lost in translation.

192 Relax and Succeed - I have no special talent

This is why spiritual love needs to be shared directly with others and the world around us. Writing it down is helpful—as hopefully this itself is—but it cannot hope to substitute for the effects generated by people actually turning these words into verbs in the everyday world. Loving, compassionate verbs.

Every holy book and every prophet has talked about love. Love has been paramount. Yes, it is a shame that people of all walks of life can be convinced to use religion as a cudgel to strike others with, but most of us can easily see that it would be quite easy for loving people of different religions to share the Earth in peace and productive harmony.

But why would Einstein want more Talmud? The word itself basically means instruction, or learning. Rather than books about physical miracles etc, religious texts are best seen as basic lessons on the discovery of love. The Talmud or Torah, the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, Tao te Ching etc. etc. are not lessons on being judgmental, dismissive, disrespectful, offended, angry, or violent.

Yes, I know it’s possible to interpret them that way, but if they’re not really about love, isn’t a bit odd that 100% of these books could be interpreted that way? Read with a clear head and a happy, healthy heart, they are in fact all lessons on love, compassion and connection. And those who have seen behind the veil of existence all agree on this.

192 Relax and Succeed - Buddha was not a Buddhist

Forget that the two worlds every got separated; the prophets weren’t sharing religious information. They were telling people about how to live a rewarding life. They had come to understand enlightenment and they were trying to share the secret to living in the moment. Because that is the same moment in which it is possible to love every aspect of your existence—including the fact that you and all others are truly One.

The Talmud:
“The highest form of wisdom is kindness.”

The Bible:
“Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.”

The Koran:
“All God’s creatures are His family; and he or she is the most beloved of God who tries to do the most good to God’s creatures.”

The Bhagavad Gita:
“Strive constantly to serve the welfare of the world; by devotion to selfless work one attains the supreme goal of life. Do your work with the welfare of others always in mind.”

The Tao te Ching:
“See others as yourself. See families as your family. See towns as your town. See countries as your country. See worlds as your world.”

The Buddha: “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but only by love; this is the eternal rule.”

And it goes on and on and on. Again, can people scurry around looking for/creating uglier ideas from these texts? Yes. We see them on the news every night. But we must remember the news is selling us soap. But since we wouldn’t stay sitting there for soap ads, they have to scare us into not leaving our seats.

192 Relax and Succeed - We are not human beingsThey do that by using the few people who take ugly interpretations of those texts and then they magnify their actions. But there really aren’t many of those sorts of people. The vast majority of people are readily able to access their fundamentally loving nature. They are fundamentally kind. And most people who enter into religious practice sincerely do so as a way of increasing their sense of belonging and love for both themselves and others.

It is easy to present differences as obstacles, but I would urge you to see the different religions as different routes up one mountain. And regardless of which road-map you use, so long as your basic direction is loving, then you are surely ascending, and you are sure to attain the beautiful perspective that goes along with your rise in wisdom.

Keep love in your heart. Yes it’s good for others. But you are us and we are you, so it is good for you as well. And so it is with love. All who engage with it are victorious. This is why I love you.

peace and a loving embrace. s

PS Attached is a follow up article that stemmed from the controversy this one generated:
Science and Spirituality

Scott McPherson is an Edmonton-based writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and non-profit organizations locally and around the world.

Interview With a Buddha

Yesterday I wrote about the Buddha I met. Many people asked me how this Buddha came to be a Buddha, but the truth is she never stopped being one. Because we’re all born Buddhas. But then we develop language so we can talk to others, but we also inadvertently talk to ourselves and that creates the Ego. I would have been just like you and I would have stayed lost had I not had my accident and started asking some strange questions as a result.

145 Relax and Succeed - Don't grow upWhen you were really young you couldn’t understand language, so you couldn’t be either praised or insulted. There was no right or wrong in your world. You simply allowed your nature to focus on whatever it focused on, and that lead to remarkable achievements. Learning how to walk requires fine motor control of muscles, using tendons and ligaments and calculating gravity and momentum etc. etc.  It’s very complex.

You also learned to speak one or maybe two, or even three or four languages, and you weren’t consciously trying to learn them and no one was really thinking they could teach it to you in the classical sense. And yet you mastered the complex rules of grammar and memorized a fantastic collection of words that could be used in a variety of ways. These are major achievements. And then you got an ego….

So what’s it like to live without someone constantly judging your actions? What’s it like not to second-guess yourself? What’s it like to live rather than commentate a life not lived?

Because our conversation was so in-depth and because I was asking questions with a real focus, I am now able to create a sort of interview. It’s formed from the answers she gave me on the day I learned that the source of her great happiness was in fact her great understanding. So here, for your elucidation, is a quasi-interview with the Buddha I met:

145 Relax and Succeed - It is no measureBUDDHA: Scott, you work a lot with mind stuff. Am I crazy? Am I a sociopath?

SCOTT: A sociopath?!  You’re a very kind, compassionate, generous person. Why would you think you’re a sociopath?

BUDDHA: Because I don’t feel guilty. Everyone else feels guilty about things, but if I decide to do something I figure, why be guilty about it? I picked it! Maybe people don’t like it afterwards, or maybe I realize something about it sucks later, but at the time it’s really what I wanted to do!

SCOTT: So you’re worried that your lack of guilt makes you crazy? Most people come to see me to get rid of guilt.

BUDDHA: It’s not just that. I just don’t get why people think about things so much? It’s not like the thinking fixes anything. I might be sorry someone got hurt, but it’s not like I was trying to hurt them. I was just living and that’s what happened. I didn’t do it to them, so why would I think about it afterwards?

145 Relax and Succeed - When guilt runs your lifeSCOTT: I share your feeling that continuing to think about that sort of thing is pointless. Guilt or shame or worry or fear never changed anything. They just steal our energy.

BUDDHA: I know, eh! That’s the other thing. Thinking about all of that is so draining. It feels terrible. That’s mostly why I don’t do it. Why sit there and feel terrible about what happened when I can be having fun now!

SCOTT: You’re very good at leaving the past in the past. That’s what people want when they say they want to Live in the Moment.

BUDDHA: Well it’s not really the past anyway. It’s not like I can fix anything there. I’m just using up Now to re-live Then. But if Then sucked, why would I want to drag it into Now?

SCOTT: I don’t personally see a reason to dwell in the past either, so I can’t really answer that question other than to say that most people have trouble living like you do, so they feel a strange obligation to re-live dramatic past events.

145-relax and succeed - Because your heart is so beautifulBUDDHA: But why?! It’s not going to do anything to make your life better. It feels terrible. I hate thinking thoughts like that. It’s like why I can’t hate people. I know [our mutual friend] Simon hates me, and I get that. I cheated on my boyfriend. It’s a shitty thing to do and it hurt him and I get that Simon’s a nice guy and that he hates me for disrespecting my boyfriend. But it’s not like I did it to hurt my boyfriend. But at the same time, if I really wanted to be with my boyfriend that bad, then I don’t think I would have cheated. So it just got us to where we were anyways, right?

SCOTT: Why doesn’t it bother you that Simon judges you?

BUDDHA: Because those are his thoughts not mine. How he wants to feel is up to him. I don’t hate him back because it sucks to hate people. I don’t like how it feels. I don’t know. It’s crazy I know. But I just don’t want to dwell on that stuff. I always like to look at what I like about someone and I know Simon’s a really good guy. He loves his girlfriend and she’s super nice so that’s good. And I really like how he treats his co-workers and customers. And he’s super funny. And even when he’s not, everyone has a rough day. He’s entitled to have them too.

SCOTT: I applaud your generosity. I don’t think it’s possible for you to comprehend how rare that ability is.

145 Relax and Succeed - Peace comes from withinBUDDHA: I just don’t think thoughts I don’t like because they feel bad. It’s not like it’s complicated. If they hurt just don’t think them.

SCOTT: [laughing] I agree. I would suggest that is why they hurt—because they’re essentially telling us not to think them.

BUDDHA: So why do people think them anyway and then blame the person they’re thinking about?

SCOTT: I don’t think they have the connection between their Thoughts and their Reality as clearly understood as you do.

BUDDHA: So do you think I’m crazy?

SCOTT: [laughing] No. No I think you’re far too kind and generous and fun to be crazy. But I understand why you might think you are. When everyone else is crazy, crazy can look sane and sane can look crazy.

145 Relax and Succeed - It is very simple to be happyBUDDHA: All I know is if something hurts, I stop thinking about it.

SCOTT: Everyone else turns that into a much more complicated process than it really is.

BUDDHA: What’s to complicate? I have to think about something. If I don’t like thinking about this, then why not just change to that?

SCOTT: That would be the part that people find hard. That’s what most of my work with students focuses on—teaching them to let go.

BUDDHA: But it’s so simple!

SCOTT: It is. But the simplicity is the most challenging aspect for them to comprehend.

BUDDHA: All I know is; if I focus on stuff I like then I feel good. After that, whatever….

SCOTT: [smiling] Nicely put.

peace. s

Scott McPherson is a writer, public speaker, and mindfulness facilitator who works with individuals, companies and nonprofit organizations around the world.