Breaking the cycles and building stronger lives.

I choose not to drink or smoke and live on a plant-based diet which is rather radical in comparison to my family. I have been like this for many years now and do not consider myself superior on any level.

My plant-based diet is based on my understanding and convictions with my spirituality. Books like

And others have changed me at the core. My misunderstand about real compassion and equality for all living things changed one day and forever. Non-drinking is also a spiritual decision, however, it’s also not wise to drink with bipolar in my opinion. Poor mental health and prescription medications don’t mix. Meditation, mindfulness and concentration don’t improve with alcoholic beverages. I personally can see no benefits from consuming alcohol. My preference does not hold any judgement on those who enjoy there wine etc, I can sit in social environments with people consuming steak and wine without feeling and discomfort. Ultimately, each person has there own way and karma, to deal with.

People who seek real change often just change geographical things and get completely disheartened. Below from for the book ”After Buddism” highlights my point.

To “leave home for homelessness” to become a wandering mendicant therefore means to relinquish a particular way of relating to one’s home or place rather than actually repudiating them. How many idealistic young men (like my younger self) have left behind their family and homeland in a grand display of renunciation to become a monk in a foreign land only to find that they have transferred all their delight and revelling in a place to something more exotic? To detest one place only to delight in another does not, from Gotama’s point of view, solve anything. Without a genuine change of heart in one’s core relationship to life itself, pursuing a “spiritual” vocation will be a waste of time.

We all want to be the best version of ourselves. Over our lifetime we try many things to help us grow and feel happiness. Often it’s short-lived or not what we imagined it to be.

The necessary inner task does not consist in ’doing’ anything whatever, but in ’undoing’

something, in undoing all the illusory egotistical beliefs which keep tightly closed the lid of the ’third eye’

Herbert Benoit

I personally think if you cannot find peace where you are excluding abuse and comprised safety concerns you will not discover it someplace elsewhere. It takes time to understand, accept and love ourselves in depth. Often I have found in the busy technological world this seems impossible for people. Leaving a mobile phone home for a week would nearly cause some people a panic attack. No noise at all for a week is unimaginable for some. Yet, the same people dream of peace in there hearts. The same people wonder why sleeping is difficult and why they have no spare time. I am speaking from my experience of course and also understand peace is achieved by simply sitting on a meditation cushion and starting to view reality for what it really is!

Being yourself and droping falsehoods!

I can only speak from my experience, however, I am convinced that men are more likely than women to pretend they have altogether. Especially in a crisis or situations that involve deep emotions.

It is like a man separated from light by a wall and who cannot touch his wall without making it higher and higher, but a day comes when all the absurd efforts that have built up the wall to such a height that it becomes unsteady and collapse suddenly, a catastrophe that is final and triumphant, and which leaves the man bathed in the light.

Herbert Benoit

I also know what it feels like to live in pain and suffering emotionally, and physically. It’s lonely and can become a very dark place if you sink into it. Men, we need to reach out and be honest about our weaknesses. It’s ok to cry and it ok to say I cannot cope as well as I once did.

I am not talking about being a victim of just whining about life. I am talking about transparency with the people who love us and have our best interest at heart. So many turn to comfort in unwholesome things, this Includes me.

I have experienced the liberty in transparency and honesty in explaining how you really feel. Life is a difficult thing to navigate at the times and emotions are complex. Consequently, it’s easy to be task-oriented and driven by doing.

There comes a time in my experience, when we need to stop doing and consider just being. This may include time alone and space to regroup. No shame in resting and reducing responsible for your health and well-being.

Relaxation, rebuilding and enjoy life as a gift.

Relaxing down the coast after the week of hiking. Took this picture this morning with my phone. Beautiful coast down here near the Otway Rangers.

I have been laying around reading mostly and thoroughly enjoying this guys book.

The necessary inner task does not consist in ’doing’ anything whatever, but in ’undoing’

something, in undoing all the illusory egotistical beliefs which keep tightly closed the lid of the ’third eye’

Herbert Benoit

Reading eating and just letting my body repair and stabilise after the 60 kilometres I hiked in 4 days. It’s nice to have no agenda other than to see how the day goes. More from Benoit

Search not for the truth ; only cease to cherish opinions.

Herbert Benoit

So, many including me at times have had an obsession about finding the ultimate Truth. I guess we hope it will finally end our misery or make sense of our suffering. In reality life is our Truth.

Awareness

We’re like the fish that is swimming about, looking for the great ocean of life, yet oblivious to its surroundings. Like the fish, we wonder about the meaning of life, not awake to the water all around us and the ocean that we are. The fish finally meet a teacher who understands. The fish asked, ”What is the great ocean?” And the teacher simply laughed.

Why?

The ocean was its life. Separate a fish from water and there no life for the fish. Likewise, if we separate ourselves from life, which is what we see, hear, touch, smell, and so on, we have lost touch with what we are.

Charlotte Joko Beck

How much energy I have used in searching. In reality now at 50 I am beginning to understand myself better. My only place of peace and true home is within myself. Geographical locations has little to do with our sense of comfort within our own skin. In other words you do not need to go to some exotic land and find a temple, monastery or gura. You may because of the experience. However, this is different than having expectations about finding peace in your heart, external to your self.

Big difference being differentiated and being separate

Beck

Duality and feelings of being separated are terrible. We are different but suffer the commonalities of emotional pain and illnesses. Connecting with ourselves, helps us feel more connected to everything. This in increases our comparison for ourselves and everyone and thing around us.

My Second Iconic Hike.

The Southern Loop at Wilsons Promontory https://parkweb.vic.gov.au/explore/parks/wilsons-promontory-national-park

I completed the hike in four days and it is 60 kilometres. After my first 100 kilometre hike in February this year on the Great Ocean Walk I learned a lot and changed my equipment and Worked hard on my fitness.

This time being over ten kilograms less in body weight and dumping 7 -8 kilograms less in my pack the experience was totally different. The pack in the picture below is Aarn https://www.aarnpacks.com/#!page-4/cfvg

Not trying to sell this pack. However, it is awesome in my opinion, the pockets at the front balance things and allowed me to carry 4 litres of water easily. Also, my daily snacks where accessible.

I have L4 & L5 degenerative discs but thanks to my ongoing strength training and great posture and dedication to well being I can participate and achieve such physical challenges. In terms, of mental health and sleeping in the bush, plus physical exercise often exhaustion, it has a calming effect on me.

Great old book, timless wisdom.

1. The Essential Jung

Anthony Storr

2. The Red Book

Jung

3. The Wheel of Life: a memoir

Elisabeth Kubler- Ross

4. Zen and The Psychology of Transformation.

Herbert Benoit

5. Nothing Special Living Zen.

Charlotte Joko Beck

I have read 1,3 and five. 4 is in the mail and 2 has arrived today.

I found 1,3 and five for free but The Red book was $50 and 4 was much cheaper.

The benefits of reading are immeasurable in terms of learning as far as I am concerned, and it’s a great way to relax. Most of the time I have 2-3 on the go. Different genres and size. I find reading 2-3 at once keeps me focused. For example, Jung gets a bit heavy and I need some time to process, I pick up something else. This has worked well for me and offers a way to finish things without getting overwhelmed at its content or size. So, I learn more and it really helps with retention too. Reading non-fiction to quick and skipping over tough chapters is a waste really.

I only read non-fiction. I have read a couple novels over the years only because people have offered them and convinced me to read it. I use to say most novels are ”McDonald’s for the brain” However, I think this is a bit harsh and it originated from a person who constantly insisted I read her crapy novels. The truth is there are great fictional books but I enjoy non-fiction more.

I have ebooks too, and lots of free PDFs. I also read blogs clearly. Reading, however, you do it or whatever you enjoy reading is great and I just made up this list because it is current and some might be interested.

Life as a ocean

We’re like the fish that is swimming about, looking for the great ocean of life, yet oblivious to its surroundings. Like the fish, we wonder about the meaning of life, not awake to the water all around us and the ocean that we are. The fish finally meet a teacher who understands. The fish asked, ”What is the great ocean?” And the teacher simply laughed.

Why?

The ocean was its life. Separate a fish from water and there no life for the fish. Likewise, if we separate ourselves from life, which is what we see, hear, touch, smell, and so on, we have lost touch with what we are.

Charlotte Joko Beck

I have been reading an old book I found on a friends bookshelf. ”Nothing special living zen” it has fascinated me, also inspired me to become much more aware of my daily life. The quote above is obviously from the book and I could mention another bunch of selected gems from the literature.

It might be timely, or just great wisdom? Whatever, it’s been life changing for me. Would have to rate it 10/10 and one of the best books I have ever read in this genre. I do a lot of reading and find joy in learning and reading about peoples lives and experiences. Especially, female authors.

Making time for reading is essential for my self-care and keeps me grounded. In the sense that I often learn and gain wisdom and tools to assist me to navigate life better. Navigation is a tricky thing. I can feel at times my compass is spinning and suffered the consequences of negative feelings associated, often confusing and being lost.

I would love to hear about your recent books. Maybe even share a favourite quote from it

Thanks, Scott 🙏

”The wise are neither elated nor depressed.”

My moods are the cause of all my confusion predominantly. Now I am older its more of a clearer picture in terms of metaphorically a passing storm. The weather is historically unpredictable even with modern technology they can still get it wrong. However, they are a great guide and thankful have a higher degree of accuracy these days.

Mental health for me is much like modern weather predictions. I am great mostly and normally well prepared if a storm is approaching. Things, like talking and listening, are great mental health self-care strategies in raising awareness to notice red flags. The conundrum of missing an approaching storm can leave me confused and suffering from a multitude of unpleasant feeling. Then there is the cleanup lessons and things learnt from the stormy conditions.

My best strategy is to be well prepared and strong way before the approaching storm hits. This not only drastically reduce the impact but speeds recovery. I understand in life storms will always arise in various ways and severity.

My aim is not to be complacent on sunny days and neglected my spiritual practice. A wise monk told me a while ago to ”meditate when I am happy” it sounded a bit odd to me and took a couple months to understand his teaching correctly. What he was saying, is happiness is a result of good spiritual practice not just when meditating. Happiness does not always have to be dependent on conditions or environment, not even inconvenient geographical locations to be experienced. Consequently, as my spiritual practice has grown conditions become less of an issue for happiness and meditation seems natural and a place of peace and happiness and offers sanctuary, plus strength from storms. The monk spoke to my expectations and presuppositions concerning meditation. He could have said, ” improve your mood” or ”you look unhappy in meditation” which would have been obvious and typical of my experience back then.

”As a solid rock is not shaken by the wind, even so, the wise are not ruffled by praise or blame”

p 77 The Dhammapada

My mood disorder Bipolar is a tough storm to navigate once it has arrived often seemingly unexpected. I know life is a tough experience for all of us not just people like me with mental illnesses. I, like you, know that preparation and lived experience in and before the storms only makes us wiser and stronger if we investigated and learn from our pain and suffering. The secret for me has been sitting in my pain and suffering not running from it. Looking into the feelings and accepting reality not escapism or just seeking short-term comfort.

I have always loved walking in the rain and we all can find beauty in storms too.

Scott❤️🙏

Modern life and the conundrum of recollection, contemplation and breathing.

I was born in 1968 and life certainly has changed from my school days. It’s almost impossible to imagine how we managed back then without all our time saving innovations. However, it’s also sad to see people struggling to mange life in 2018 with more time saving devices than ever before.

I know time is always the same it’s just our perceptions of it changes at different stages of our lives. For example anyone who has had young children knows time seems to fly and days blur into months and before you know it they are at school. However, life has seasons too and as you age time becomes more of a commodity and rushing around is a distant memory.

The Buddhist have some fascinating thoughts about how we perceive the out side world. “We create and entire world out of what we experience, and we end up living in that world. The world as we actually know it, isn’t actually out there; it’s in our heads.”

– Ajahn Yatiko

Sounds a bit simple. However, looking back on my life and what I created in my head makes this statement true and yes, undeniable it’s a complicated life and survival is tough at times. This does not minimise our responsibility to consider what we created in our minds.

A great personal example; when gained over 10 kilos…don’t laugh, I asked my ex wife if she had shrunk the towels in the wash. I honestly believed the towels got smaller. How could I not see my large belly and the obesity road I was heading down?

We easy believe what story our mind tells us. How to see the truth and face reality? Clearly stop blaming our experiences and external world all the time! So, limited time and busy are things we created and things we can balance with wholesome and life giving thoughts.

My reading this morning, you may find it helpful too.

It’s amazing how simple breathing exercise and long walks can get us focused on the truth and what we really value in life. For me even sitting on my meditation cushion can lower my anxiety and slow me down. I was told by a monk a while ago to “meditate when I am happy.” His English is not so good. It has taken a couple months to understand what he meant but I understand his lesson now.

Love this word “metta” and I sincerely wish this for all of you 🙏❤️

A well – developed mind is not easily controlled by passions

“Mind is trained by concentration, which leads to one – pointedness of the mind and mental purification, and by contemplation, which leads to understanding of things as they truly are. The ultimate goal of a Buddhist is achieved by these stages of mental development. As physical exercise is to the body, so is meditation to the mind” P. 16 The Dhammapada

We all including me have our daily struggles. Life is a interesting journey and all to often we get obsessed over aspects and start to see ourselves and our journey through a metaphorical key hole. People also often read religion texts through certain cultural lenses and become uncomfortable when others understand them differently from my observations.

The west has certainly taken hold of mindfulness and non spiritual meditations techniques. Especially in therapeutic environments in context of mental health. I know from experiences. I also have experienced spiritual meditation and mindfulness practices from ancient traditions like Theravada Buddhists who have used for hundreds of years And taught ” Vipassana – which by definition is cultivation of mindfulness or awareness ” this is a form of mental training that is gentle and takes years and gradually it grows. ” the Pali term for insight meditation is Vipassana” excellent read and free publication is ” Mindfulness In Plain English ” Venerable H. Gunaratan Mahathers.

I am far from a meditation teacher or have any have skills worth mentioning. Nevertheless even with my basic knowledge and novice practice I have experienced significant results. The mind is a busy place and my mind in particular often has a degree of difficulty due to bipolar disorder. I also have struggled with recovering PTSD.

Still, my point today is no matter where you think you are at you can start training your mind to be stronger.

We all can improve our thoughts and become better versions of ourselves. One moment at a time. I understand hopelessness and failure it’s real and debilitating. However, nobody will come and uncluttered our thoughts we are responsible for that. We can pray we can meditate, we can even use our will and intellect but ultimately we are responsible for every thought and how we process it.

The beautiful thing about life is every day we wake we and get a fresh start and can improve our lives. Let’s all make the effort to train ourselves to be more mindful and caring about what we think.

Scott 🙏❤️

Physical training and wholeness.

I am back in the gym doing some strength training. I have been for the last month going three days a week. I also walk on my favourite coastal track that is about 11 kilometres at least 2 times a week.

I am in training now for a up coming 60 kilometres hike, graded at 3. It’s going to be 3 nights and 4 days. So last Saturday I loaded my pack up 13 kilograms and walked 21 kilometres along track, beach and stairs.

I often talk about spirituality and it benefits. I also think nutritional food is vital. Maintaining all of our being not just things that sound more spiritual like meditation and praying.

All to often clergy are neglecting there health. Monks and nuns also in monastery settings can become sedentary – (of a person tending to spend much time seated; somewhat inactive.)

I have witnessed this in all walks of life and fallen for the same conditions myself.

In terms of our spirituality we must attend to all of our being. I.e Physical, spiritual, Emotional, And not neglect vocational and financial etc… there are many aspect of a person. All to often people pursuing spirituality overlook the fundamental need of good health and balanced work and lifestyle

I am speaking from my experiences of course and observations. Many may do this much better than others. However, Christian theological thought on “good Stuart ” and Buddhist thoughts on ” Middle Way” are helpful.

I have looked at people who are great at a certain thing and through ignorance made assumptions they are great at everything. When you meet a well balanced person they are a pleasure to know and spend time with. My ambitions are to be a whole balanced person and a blessing to others not tiresome to be around.

” The Essential Jung”

Great read highly recommended

Scott ❤️🧘‍♂️