I am sure you are all familiar with the slump of energy during the day, when nothing seems to make sense, when the whole purpose of meditation and awareness seems utterly pointless.

I am beginning to feel these are very valuable and interesting moments.

I used to meet these times with a greater resolve, a stiffened spine, returning to some old passage or book to find a new inspiration to “move ahead.” But now I realise the rather simple truth: these ebbs and flows of energy are the nature of a rather mechanical thought-emotion-body network. Meeting them with “resolve” is merely another mechanical conditioned response.

Nothing needs to be done about these psychological moments. All we need to do is to remain aware of their transitory nature as a part of the complex webs woven by the mind. Sooner or later, the “high,” that other conditioned mechanical response, will re-emerge and the game will go on.

Billy Collins

Shoveling snow with Buddha

In the usual iconography of the temple or the local Wok
you would never see him doing such a thing,
tossing the dry snow over a mountain
of his bare, round shoulder,
his hair tied in a knot,
a model of concentration.

Sitting is more his speed, if that is the word
for what he does, or does not do.

Even the season is wrong for him.
In all his manifestations, is it not warm or slightly humid?
Is this not implied by his serene expression,
that smile so wide it wraps itself around the waist of the universe?

But here we are, working our way down the driveway,
one shovelful at a time.
We toss the light powder into the clear air.
We feel the cold mist on our faces.
And with every heave we disappear
and become lost to each other
in these sudden clouds of our own making,
these fountain-bursts of snow.

This is so much better than a sermon in church,
I say out loud, but Buddha keeps on shoveling.
This is the true religion, the religion of snow,
and sunlight and winter geese barking in the sky,
I say, but he is too busy to hear me.

He has thrown himself into shoveling snow
as if it were the purpose of existence,
as if the sign of a perfect life were a clear driveway
you could back the car down easily
and drive off into the vanities of the world
with a broken heater fan and a song on the radio.

All morning long we work side by side,
me with my commentary
and he inside his generous pocket of silence,
until the hour is nearly noon
and the snow is piled high all around us;
then, I hear him speak.

After this, he asks,
can we go inside and play cards?

Certainly, I reply, and I will heat some milk
and bring cups of hot chocolate to the table
while you shuffle the deck.
and our boots stand dripping by the door.

Aaah, says the Buddha, lifting his eyes
and leaning for a moment on his shovel
before he drives the thin blade again
deep into the glittering white snow.

‘I’ thought

Arranging thoughts in the order of value, the ‘I’-thought is the all-important thought.

Personality-idea or thought is also the root or the stem of all other thoughts, since each idea or thought arises only as someone’s thought and is not known to exist independently of the ego. The ego therefore exhibits thought-activity. The second and the third persons [he, you, that, etc.] do not appear except to the first person [I]. Therefore they arise only after the first person appears, so all the three persons seem to rise and sink together.

Trace, then, the ultimate cause of ‘I’ or personality. From where does this ‘I’ arise? Seek for it within; it then vanishes. This is the pursuit of wisdom. When the mind unceasingly investigates its own nature, it transpires that there is no such thing as mind. This is the direct path for all.

The mind is merely thoughts. Of all thoughts the thought ‘I’ is the root. Therefore the mind is only the thought ‘I’. The birth of the ‘I’-thought is one’s own birth, its death is the person’s death. After the ‘I’- thought has arisen, the wrong identity with the body arises. Get rid of the ‘I’-thought. So long as ‘I’ is alive there is grief. When ‘I’ ceases to exist there is no grief.



A phrase has been echoing in my mind over the past few days: waking up from the dream of personhood.

On the positive side, the person that I am presents itself for attention almost all the time. So the opportunity to watch that person with affection and detachment is endlessly present.

On the other hand, the habits of personhood are so pervasive, so automatic, that it seems almost ludicrous to imagine that we can be free from that image, that picture.

I often think during the day: this freedom is the most worthy thing to aspire to. And if it is folly, well then, as Blake apparently said, If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.



What was born must die. Only the unborn is deathless. Find what is it that never sleeps and never wakes, and whose pale reflection is our sense of ‘I’.–Nisargadatta Maharaj

My koan for the day, month, year. How can one understand or find the unborn? My best understanding at this point is, by staying with the sense of ‘I’-ness as closely as possible during our confused, contradictory days. Staying with it until its illusory power dissipates completely and the light of being shines through.

Striving (re-blog from an earlier piece)

There is no reaching the Self. If Self were to be reached, it would mean that the Self is not here and now and that it is yet to be obtained. What is got afresh will also be lost. So it will be impermanent. What is not permanent is notworth striving for. So I say the Self is not reached. You are the Self, you are already that. Ramana.

If I think of my daily life, I see it as massively structured by the need to achieve things. Perhaps I need to get a job done. Perhaps I need to get it done better than the last time. Perhaps I need to outperform my colleague. I need to love more, or be loved more, and so on and on and on.

Unconsciously, maybe, this habit of achievement is then transferred onto the so called “spiritual” world. I need to achieve peace or happiness. I need to achieve enlightenment. I need to improve spiritually, become better than my fellow seekers.

The quote from Ramana, so brilliantly counter-intuitive yet so simple, puts to rest these empty tricks of the mind. There is nothing to achieve, nothing to perform, nowhere to go. The anxious mind is just making up these stories. Behind them, reality exists, pure, simple, hugely accepting.

It is easy to mistake this as a facile truth and to lapse into self-satisfaction and lethargy. But this is missing the point. It is very hard work to understand that reality exists without effort. Effort is in the realm of the ego; reality is something quite different, and it points to a different intelligence in daily living.

You are the Self, you are already that.