just be it It’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness
April, 2016

Just Be It

Tuesday, April 5th, 2016


Cultivating Increased Awareness and Gratitude for the Gift of Opportunity within the Present Moment

Brother David Steindl Rast has put his finger upon the issue of accountability and meaning stating a command to always ask:

What do I mean? (This relates to impeccability of speech)
How do I know? (If it’s not from direct experience, best to be quiet)
So what? (What is the meaning, intent and purpose of the expression)
With this criterion in mind, Just Be It, Inc. is about the following:

“It’s about the dedicated practice of felt awareness and gratitude to the present moment for the purpose of living well and in joy.”

“It’s about establishing daily practices for the purpose of cultivating an increased feeling of joining and belonging, weeding away the gravity of life’s pull to separation.” Based on deepening awareness to feeling and stilling mental formations, Just Be It acknowledges compassion, gratitude and forgiveness as “feelings” we can deepen by quieting the mind’s separating activity.”

Just Be It is not philosophy. It’s not religion. It’s not about thoughts. In answer to, “So what?” it’s about the work involved in establishing a dedicated practice to feelings of a bigger belonging through practices aimed at increasing feelings of compassion, gratitude and forgiveness. It’s about cultivating the felt sense of our connection with everything on a belief stimulated through quantum theory and ancient spiritual wisdom and personally substantiated through direct experience. It’s about assisting others in establishment of dedicated gratitude practice, awareness practice, listening practice, forgiveness practice, and compassion practice for the purpose of feeling a deeper connection with our larger community. It’s about training to still the dissonance of the separating thoughts of mind to better align with the harmony and rhythm of nature within the present moment.

This is practice dedicated to the shift in values and identities from doing to being; from ambition to meaning; from “I” to “we”; and from head to heart for the purpose of living a more whole life.

Katagiri Roshi on “Just Be” from Each Moment Is the Universe

“Ignorance is a misunderstanding because in terms of reality there is no separation—everything is interconnected. Yet, because of ignorance, we experience ourselves as separate, and we feel dissatisfied.

As human beings, we always base our thoughts on this misunderstanding. We always feel that something is missing from our lives. We think that to live a peaceful life we must get something that is outside ourselves. Then we try to get it. But actions based on thirsty desire just become the cause of more suffering. That is why Buddha’s teaching that suffering arises from desire based on ignorance is the second Noble Truth.

Buddha also taught that everyone has the capability to go beyond the ordinary body and mind and be fully present in impermanence with the whole body and mind. Then ignorance, desire, and suffering all disappear. That is the freedom we are seeking, the pure and clear state of existence where nothing is missing, the place where all we can do is just be. Then, from that place, truth comes up.”

Why Awareness to Our Thoughts is Critical to our Success

Saturday, April 2nd, 2016


Without awareness to my thoughts, they carry me away. When I’m carried away in thought I lose my balance. When I lose my balance and alignment I’m much easier to push over. My reactive mind is now much more vulnerable to making a mess of things. And when I’m trained in witnessing my thoughts I can better see how they’re making me feel. Are they feeding my negative emotions or positive emotions? Are they pulling my present moment attention from its center? If they’re negative thoughts feeding my emotions of anger, jealousy, hate, anxiety, etc., I may say, “I feel bad”. If they’re positive thoughts from compassion, gratitude, success, belonging, praise, pleasure, gain, etc., I may say, “I feel good”. In either case, we can feed these thoughts which feed the emotions. Yet, at some point we notice how the feeling changes. The good feeling praise has blame just around the corner. Failure is just behind success. Feeling accepted has rejection somewhere in its future. Just when we think we have it all it can be taken in a heartbeat. So the real spiritual question is, “How do I feel when things don’t go as expected?” Can I hold my balance and center in the midst of life’s changing winds? How do I meet diversity and those who challenge my map of the world?

The more I practice the art of awareness, witnessing my thoughts and emotions, increasing sensitivity to their transient nature, the more freedom I find when returning to the beauty of the moment. I love the phrase, “Beauty is always there, always ready to be noticed, even in the most dreadful of circumstance.” Some have called this, “Making space to find the gift in the given.” Essentially, when I can release thoughts of the past which have captured me I can find my strength to hold balance. Dropping the linguistic stories in my head, returning to the nonverbal sensory/perceptual experience opens a portal to a deeper life experience. It allows me to drop my fixed identities of ‘who I am’, letting me see that it’s an absurd question. I’m not all the linguistic labels I carry, and yet I’m not nothing. I like to say I’m “awareness residing in this body”. With an open, curious mind this awareness sees how thought works. It observes flexibility in nature. Wherever I turn I can witness allowance vs. resistance, tension vs. relaxation, persuasion vs. dialog, balance vs. imbalance. Meeting diversity, my small notion of a fixed self may be scared. As awareness I see it as opportunity to learn.

When I eat without awareness I can see how my belly grows. This has consequence to affect my posture and results in back pain. Witnessing my thoughts of frustration, I work to let them go and find gratitude for the perceptual gift given. I thank the belly for the sign. I thank the back for the pain signal that motivates me to more mindfully consume. I find great joy in the relief of the back pain as the extra belly weight diminishes. I’m filled with gratitude for the practice of awareness, sensitizing me to how the body/mind changes moment to moment through thought and emotion. I’m elated for the contrast of “what I don’t want” vs. “what I do want”. In brief, I want a balanced, aligned mind/body that carries more and more a sense of “well being”.

So how do we carry a growing sense of well being when in the midst of another political campaign? I have to carry gratitude for all those out there focused on what they “don’t want” because they help me better put attention to what I do want. Politics is about persuasion and the “I know that” mind. Closed minds are forever engaged in combat about what they think is right. I’m much more interested in the ‘yes’ mind focused on what it sees moving forward. The political party of “NO” has gifted me the energy to more deeply ask what I do want. It’s clear that when we attempt to change others to agreement with us they just dig in deeper to their contrary position. If I’m to truly influence the change I’ve imaged, I first have to have the courage and skill to empty thoughts of being right. My success in this endeavor is dependent upon my willingness to meet diversity with an open mind, ready to receive their positions of vast difference. I can witness their negative emotions and hear their negative thoughts and with enough training I can hold balance and alignment, holding the felt sense of well being. It’s the felt sense of well being, fed from compassion and gratitude, that opens the other to diversity. When I try to push without this I’ve found that I almost always make things worse. In that case, when I’m not solid on what to say, it’s almost always better to just not speak.

Life is conditional. There’s definitely cause and effect. I only have control of my thoughts and emotions and following actions. I don’t have control of your thoughts and emotions. I can only invite you to go exploring with me as we mutually try to better understand the territory from our very limited maps. This is the difference between monologue and dialogue.

Pro Life and Pro Choice: The Problem with Words

Friday, April 1st, 2016


The meaning of words is in the person. Perhaps one of the strongest, most heavily loaded word combinations are labels taken in the battle between those who are against abortion and those who are for personal choice in this matter. For me, pro life carries the meaning of ‘reverence for life’. I think most of us aspire to this. We’ve been exposed to the Golden Rule, we’ve seen how the loss of this reverence seldom works out well. I doubt any of us, deep down, takes life for granted. I suspect none of us is arrogant enough to think we’re responsible for the creation of what we call our ‘being’. As we learn more about the complexities of the human body we’re further humbled to the mystery of it all. Science and most religions have instructed us in the consciousness of interdependence and the illusion of separateness. It’s now quite apparent that when we hurt another or hurt the gift of our environment, we hurt ourselves. So to me, pro life means an utmost respect to the gift of life presented. The idea of a truly spiritual life is captured in the words from A Path With Heart:

Living a spiritual life does not demand high ideals or noble thoughts. It requires our caring and kind attention to our breath, to our children, to the trees arounds us, and to the earth with which we are so interconnected. p. 296

The reverence for life recognizes the mystery and the desire to forever deepen our understanding of one another. Pro life necessarily holds an open mind to the unknown. A deeper listening is required to meet another’s suffering as our own. The mind of compassion is the mind of pro life and pro choice. It’s a mind that has the courage to enter ‘I don’t know land’, seeking alignment of the head and heart. I am not pro abortion and I am not anti abortion. I am not immune from fear, greed and the illusion that I’m separate from your pain. And for me, the real meaning of pro life means developing a vow to support each other through our life challenges. And if I’m not strong enough to do this, at least I can do what I can to not cause further harm.

For me, pro life means that when I encounter the opportunity to participate in the end of physical life, I have awareness that clearly shows these intentions come from love rather than fear. These are some of the most difficult of life decisions. Anyone who’s put down a pet from love knows this. When we witness death from fear, anger and revenge we all feel like we’ve lost a piece of ourselves. When love for the person/animal/plant moves us to these decisions, we’re more careful with our thoughts and actions.

Some have defined ‘sin’ as missing the mark. The mark is love. When we fail to meet our brothers and sisters in compassion, we betray science and our religious mandates to love one another as ourselves because we are each other. There simply can’t be black and white answers in this arena as we argue with one another on our ideologies. These matters of giving and taking life need deep listening and heartfelt conversation from the heart that carries reverence for life. Each moment is eternity in these matters. Each moment comes with decisions best made from the very center of one’s being.

A true pro life stance carries a very strong “yes” to a bigger belonging. It necessarily involves a life dedicated to providing opportunities for all peoples to participate in the beauties that life has to offer. Pro life decisions have given us the pause and respect to steward our parks, to aim for health care and education for all peoples, to receive refugees in need, to aim for housing and food for those in need, to humanize our justice system with rehabilitation programs, to move to sustainable energy practices that minimize harm to our environment, to recognize our planetary interconnection and eliminate threats to the continued health of our environment. Pro life is what drives innovation and collaboration in stewardship to the health of all things and beings, etc. To me, that’s what pro life means.