WONDANGAM, A GOOD TEMPLE FOR ZEN MEDITATION IN KOREA

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The Zen Center was in the woods. The drinking water flowed from the ground naturally. There were about ten buildings in the area. All of them were made of wood in traditional Korean style.
My roommate was the only one who spoke English fluently. As soon as I arrived, we met the Zen master. We bowed in front of him and then he started talking, while my roommate translated his words into English.
“I’ll give you something on what to meditate. This something is just a question: “WHAT IS THIS?” said the Zen master.
After the meeting was over, I asked my roommate the meaning of this words.
He answered, “The question “What is this?” implies something or somebody that asks the question. “This” can be considered the original engine of your actions.”
While I meditated by asking myself “What is this?”, I watched myself to find out whether I was made just of flesh, bones, and blood or there was some energy inside me. I couldn’t find the answer, but by meditating on such a question for twenty days, I purified my mind. The question “What is this?” chased away all the thoughts that had crammed my mind for a long time. My mindset changed, and I felt almost reborn.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHERE IS THE HOUSE OF THE SOUL?

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Here in the holy city of Rishikesh, I wanted to try my open-heart meditation again. As soon as we woke up, after having a cup of coffee and eating some bananas, we meditated for fifteen minutes. My wife did her breathing meditation, while I watched my breathing for a few minutes and then tried my open-heart technique. While I was watching my heart, imagining that it was open to everybody, I recalled a statue of Jesus that I’d kept in my room since I was a baby. The statue is around one meter tall. Jesus is portrayed as a master with a white robe and a red tunic, and his heart sticks out of his chest.
Not only is the heart fundamental for Christians, but Buddhists also believe that the mind is located in the heart. They think that the mind is a mental continuum without beginning or end. The Buddhist “mind” may be considered the equivalent of what Christians call the soul. Obviously, when I say that the house of the mind or soul is in the heart, I don’t refer to the physical heart, which can even be implanted from one person to another, but to the spiritual heart, whose house lies close to the physical heart.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

 

MY MEDITATION

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Saint Francis’s words resounded in my mind quite often. “Purify your heart, mind, body, and actions, and then you’ll see God inside you!”
I thought that meditation would be a good way to purify my heart, mind, and body. I started to research the topic to uncover the path. Most people today focus their attention outward instead of inward. Their main interests are to become rich, famous, have a beautiful partner, and so on. I’m not saying that all these desires are sins. It is normal and plays a prominent role in human society, but if you don’t want to act like a machine and strive to become a spiritual being, it is necessary to focus your attention inward as well.
Meditation means to look inside yourself and see who really you are. Many meditators say that when you find your real nature, all your worries and longings disappear like snow under the sun. Your mind becomes empty and you are an organic whole with the universe. Contrary to what many people think, meditation is not escaping from the world. On the contrary, by mediating we can live a better ordinary life and succeed socially.
Meditation, alertness, and consciousness are nearly synonymous. True meditative people meditate not only within the walls of their home, but also while they are working, playing, eating, dancing, or doing just about anything. In this case, meditation consists of watching oneself performing any action. By watching ourselves while we are living our lives, our actions cease to be automatic or unconscious. We behave as fully conscious people, always aware of what we are doing.
We humans tend to live according to the patterns and paradigms we learned during childhood. Our family and society funnel us towards fixed tracks, which we then follow automatically without ever asking ourselves whether those tracks lead us in the right direction. However, if we want to know more about ourselves, we need to drop conditioning given to us as children. When we meditate we set spirituality before worldly ambitions. In doing so, we go beyond the behavioral models that we were schooled in. We follow a new, authentic way—the way to God.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

MY REVIEW OF LIVE ZEN BY OSHO

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I have tried to find Zen doctrine, but without avail. Finally, I have come to the conclusion that Zen doesn’t have it.
According to tradition, the first Zen Patriarch was Mahakasyapa to whom Buddha transmitted the wordless dharma, from mind to mind.
Osho explains the reason why there is no Zen doctrine: Words cannot convey the truth. The transmission of truth can happen just from mind to mind, from heart to heart. Since there are no words to explain dharma, Zen masters use paradoxes. In his Live Zen, Osho unravels the meaning of some Zen paradoxes.
What surprised me in this book was his interpretation of the series of paintings called The Ten Bulls of Zen. They are just metaphors. In the pictures, the cowherd is the searcher for enlightenment which is symbolized by the ox. They show the ten stages to enlightenment. Surprisingly, in the last stage the cowherd, after catching the ox, that is, after reaching the truth, goes to the marketplace. He returns to the ordinary life and remains in the world. Enlightenment doesn’t entail staying isolated, but living with others.
In the last chapter of Live Zen, Osho talks about a kind of meditation called no-mind. It consists of three parts. The first part is gibberish, a meaningless language, the second part is sitting silently, the third part is just relaxing.
I enjoyed this book, and I have a plan to experience Zen meditation sooner or later.
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind

http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHAT DOES ESCAPE FROM REALITY MEAN?

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On that point, I cannot help thinking of a surveyor from my town who was married to a charming wife and had a daughter. He had a job at a state firm that did road maintenance. He was an indefatigable worker. His office was by the side of the Palermo-Catania freeway, and many times when I went to Catania on Sunday I spotted his car in the parking lot near his office. Obviously, his work was everything he had in his life, as he worked continuously, but it was probably just an escape from something he considered unbearable. Apparently, his family appeared to be close-knit in public, while in the privacy of their home things were quite different.
If you run away from situations that cause you stress, anxiety, or uneasiness, you have the illusion of ridding yourself of unbearable problems, but that is a false impression. You cannot resolve your troubles by escaping. You should cope with your issues and overcome them.
Later, the tireless surveyor was found dead in his chair with his head laid on the desk in his office, a revolver still gripped in his hand. That was evidence that his overzealousness was just an escape from his family problems.
I have seen many people who read books continuously. At first glance they look very learned, but if you observe them carefully, you’ll see that their so-called love for books is just an escape from reality. In other words, any action that is repeated too often and which goes on without interruption for long periods of time is assured to be pathological.
Even going to Mass may be an escape. I once noticed a person that attended a 6 p.m. Mass and then headed for a 7 o’clock Mass in a different church. He had nothing to do, so he moved from one church to another just to kill time.
A dear friend of mine who was a Protestant pastor once confessed to me that he had had many arguments with members of his congregation and was on the verge of quitting his office, but he didn’t because he didn’t know what he would do without his church.
There was a shop seller who had a notions store, and even though he was too old to run his business and no customers bought anything from him, he continued to keep open his shop just to have a way to spend his time. Otherwise, he had no idea what he would do.
A trader of building materials used to struggle daily to manage his firm. He was always overwhelmed with debts, and had a lot of trouble honoring his bills of exchange. He finally went bankrupt and all his worries vanished. One day I stumbled across him. I didn’t know he had quit his job, but he looked much too flabby; moreover, he was pale.
“How is business?” I asked.
“I don’t work anymore!” he answered with a disconsolate air.
“You should be more relaxed now without anything to do. You have no worries!”
“No, it is not quite that easy. When I worked, I had lots of worries about my customers, my suppliers, the bills and taxes to pay, and I had many things to do. I had so many concerns that I couldn’t sleep at night. But I felt alive and satisfied. Now, with nothing to do, I am like a dead man.”
Some individuals seek shelter inside their family or get married to feel safe and stable. Often, people become engaged to someone who is a second-choice lover. They cannot get the person they truly desire, and resort to living with someone they don’t love just for the sake of safety.
For some people, meeting friends seems to be a daily challenge. They go to dance schools, gyms, bars, and similar places in an attempt to meet friends. But the more friends they get the more they feel alone, because their search for friendship comes from the void they have inside. Running after friends might be considered as an escape from reality as well. People fear remaining alone. They dread having to look inside themselves, so they flee from their loneliness and try to fill their inner void through friends.
All the cases mentioned above are clear examples of escaping from reality, from life. Some people are unable to live as they want, and flee from their painful condition to take refuge in some activity that can give them the illusion of being alive and safe. I have always avoided watching too much TV or staying in front of my laptop too long, as it can also signify an escape from reality.
I don’t set myself up as an expert. I am just a good observer of people and situations. I have realized that anything we get involved in so much that we become identified with it, takes us away from real and authentic life, which requests that we live it fully and in all its facets.

This is an excerpt from A Hidden Sicilian History by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo, author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHERE IS THE EGO?

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It is possible that the mind or soul, whatever you like to call it, doesn’t exist at all. In this case, we are composed of two elements: the body and the ego, which I define as self-perception, self-consciousness, or the thought of ‘I am.’ I wonder, where is the ego that decides, acts, has self-awareness, and aims even at surviving physical death? Is it inside the brain? Inside the heart? Near the heart? We don’t know. It is invisible. How can we know? If you know something about this, tell me! Anyway, my opinion is that we act unconsciously and are not fully aware of what we do. Therefore, we can’t label ourselves guilty or not guilty, good or bad. Good and evil don’t exist indeed. We act out of ignorance and unconsciousness.”

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

WHO CONTROLS THE MIND?

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All human actions are unintentional. They derive from the frailty of the human being. The external world is like a picture painted by the mind. If it is calm and serene, the painting will be magnificent. Yet, if the mind is uneasy and suffering, it will paint an ugly picture.”
“Do you mean that intentional actions and free will don’t exist?”
“I don’t want to arrive at such a conclusion. Nevertheless, I can say that almost all my clients in the prisons are ignorant with uneasy and dull minds. It is rare to find a scholar in jail. That means that crime is mostly caused by ignorance and fault. Hence, where is the intention? Where is the conscious mind? Everything depends upon our mind. But who controls the mind? Honestly, I don’t know. Maybe it is I who controls my mind. Or is it my mind that controls itself? If it is so, I want to know how. If the mind is fidgety, how can it calm itself down? And, if it is peaceful, how can it keep itself calm? It is not possible that the controller and the controlled coexist at the same time. Therefore, we can’t think about the mind that controls itself.”
“It is obvious that it is the ego that controls the mind. So, I can say, with absolute certainty, that at this very moment I, Lorenzo, am controlling my mind, keeping it either calm or uneasy according to my will.”
The discussion in the lounge of The Club of the Noblemen became animate. My Uncle Salvatore also joined in.

This is an excerpt from Travels of the Mind by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

AUM, THE BASIC SOUND OF LIFE

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“Yes, he was a pure spirit who loved music. I asked him, ‘I want to know something more about the sound OM.’ He answered, ‘AUM, pronounced OM, is the basic sound of life. When you utter OM, your energy level increases. The sound OM creates silence. It’s not a common sound. It’s the sound of silence. When you are listening to good music, it takes you to silence because you feel relaxed. It seems a paradox, but the sound of music takes you to silence. In India, people believe that the sound OM already exists in the universe. You can hear it when you are silent.’
“I asked him, ‘You said that if you tune the C-sharp of the harmonium to OM, the effect is increased when you sing it. Is it right?’ ‘You can use any note, but the lower notes like the C-sharp are better. If you sing the mantra OM every day, you’ll feel energetic and get into silence. When you are silent, you can get rid of what disturbs your mind, and then you can think more clearly. If you are not silent, the clouds and the garbage keep moving in your mind and you can’t think or act properly. First, you have to throw out your inner garbage, and then you can get peace of mind. My teacher who taught me to play the sitar is eighty-two years old, but he looks young and his face radiates good energy, for he plays music every day. If you play music, your heart never gets old.’

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE BORDER BETWEEN SANITY AND INSANITY

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“I think, Uncle Salvatore, it is not difficult to behave like a madman, because the boundary between insanity and sanity is like thin paper.”
“Yes. The border between sanity and insanity is not based on the quality of abnormal behavior, but rather on the quantity of behavioral abnormalities. In other words, everyone has a certain amount of garbage inside. Madmen have more garbage than those with a normal mind. Neurotics are halfway between sanity and insanity, for they have a lot of garbage inside, but it is not enough to make them cross over the border to madness.”
“You say, Uncle Salvatore, that the state of the human mind depends on the quantity of garbage inside. Can you give me an example for me to understand better?”
“Yes, of course. For example, fear is an emotion that can be considered garbage. If you don’t have much fear inside, nothing bad happens. But if fear is excessive, it becomes pathological and turns into anxiety or panic attacks.”
“Give me one more example, please. This is really interesting.”
“The same happens with regard to paranoia. It is just a question of quantity. Let’s take a suspicious person as an example. Being distrustful is normal, but when mistrust becomes bigger and bigger, it turns into the belief that others may harm you and, finally, into paranoia. As you know, I love money. I consider it God’s blessing. If love for money is not excessive, it is called thriftiness. If greed for money is excessive, it is called miserliness and it is pathological.”
“I don’t think so, Uncle Salvatore.”
“Go ahead!”
“I think the causes of mental diseases lie not only in the amount of garbage inside but also in the quality of the brain. In fact, mental disease often comes from a sick or damaged brain, regardless of the garbage inside.”
“Yes, you are right, a sound brain as well as the chemical processes inside the human body are important, but, this is the point, body, brain, and mind are connected. Therefore, if you reduce the quantity of garbage inside your mind, also your brain will benefit from it, and the body’s chemical processes will work better.”
“According to you, Uncle Salvatore, what causes fear, anxiety, panic attacks, and paranoia?”
“Sometimes we can’t control those states. It happens because there is a substratum under the mental condition. What is the basis of neurosis? Can you answer, Benedetto?”
“I think the substratum is our past failures, the emotions we have suppressed over the years, trauma, and, above all, our difficult relationships with others.”

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo

THE TRUTH ABOUT NEAR-DEATH EXPERIENCES

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“Once I felt better, I went back to work. I bought a new gas-fired boiler and stayed in that house a few months longer. In the evening I used to stroll in the street with Giuseppe and Umberto. ‘Have you ever heard about near-death experiences when one comes back to life after a deep coma?’ I asked Umberto. ‘Yes, Carl Gustav Jung told of his own near-death experience.’ ‘Some people have reported that they were in the light and felt bliss while they were dying. It is evidence of life after death.’ ‘No, it isn’t. The experience of a near-death happens inside, not in the external world. In other words, you can’t declare the existence of life after death on the basis of your dreams, reasoning, and thoughts which are confined inside yourself. I’ll give you an example. If you imagine or dream a hippogriff, a mythological creature that is half horse and half griffin, it doesn’t mean that hippogriffs really exist. The whole process of imagining or dreaming a hippogriff happens inside yourself. But that creature doesn’t exist in reality. The same goes for near-death experiences. The whole experience happens inside the dying man, not outside him. The paradise he thinks he sees outside him may not exist in reality,’ Umberto answered coldly.
“I was not convinced about his words and retorted that Descartes, a philosopher, proved the existence of God. But Umberto knew the topic well and answered without getting flustered. ‘Yes, you are right, but another philosopher, Emmanuel Kant, confuted Descartes’s theory. In Descartes’s reasoning, as well as in the reasoning of anyone who wants to prove the existence of God and life after death, there is an inexplicable gap between the logical and the ontological field.’ ‘Could you speak more plainly so that I can understand?’ ‘Yes. You can’t extrapolate the reality from an idea or reasoning. It is not correct to reason that as there is a creature, then there must be a creator. In fact, reasoning can never give existence to a being in reality. If you dream of being a rich and powerful man, you will discover that you don’t have those attributes when you wake up. In your dreams your mind creates objects that will disappear when you awake.’

This is an excerpt from The Vibrations of Words: second edition by Ettore Grillo
Ettore Grillo author of these books:
– A Hidden Sicilian History
– The Vibrations of Words
-Travels of the Mind
http://www.amazon.com/author/ettoregrillo