Saturday, March 25, 2017

Some thoughts

I sat next to an interesting man yesterday on our flight.  As I talked with him, I realized that I had several thoughts I wanted to put down on a blog page.

What is the most common reason people abandon meditation?

Right up near the top is the feeling that I must be a failure at meditation because I keep finding my mind wandering.  Actually, finding that you have wandered into an issue or story of interest is the whole point of mindfulness meditation.  Each time you notice such a wandering, you are increasing your awareness of where you have allowed your attention to settle.

Secrets of a long marriage

John Gottman, PhD, is the best known researcher of marriage.  He has several books, including "The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work".  I have a marriage of 56 years and my seat partner asked me what is the secret of having a long marriage.  First, I don't really know.  Second, it is probably luck.  Third, both Lynn and I dated many people before we met so we had experience.  Fourth, she is really smart and I appreciate that, even when she uses her intelligence to show me wrong, again.  Fifth, we argue frequently.  Gottman says that showing contempt is a major factor in separating couples.  It seems as though we never feel contempt for each other.  Sixth, I think anyone can love anyone if they try steadily.

Who to read on the subject of Buddhism?

There are many excellent authors.  I usually cite Jack Kornfield as a good place to start.  In my limited experience, Americans will do better if they read an American author of current times rather than an Asian.  Asians may have very different ideas of what life is about, what happiness is and how one should behave.  I recommend the book "Buddhism or Bust" by Garfinkel or "After Buddhism" by Batchelor if you are looking for some background on current Buddhism and its history.  Listening to "The Higher Self" by Deepak Chopra also proved very valuable.  Nothing about expanding one's ideas and range of thought has to damage or limit or change one's fundamental beliefs and feelings about life or death or ultimate things.

What value is there to being mindful?

Working at focusing on a single point of attention for 10 timed minutes increases one's awareness of the use of the mind.  What good is that?  It improves the ability to note when you have gotten off the subject without meaning to.  It improves the ability to note that you are tending to switch to angry thoughts or sad thoughts when you didn't mean to or want to.

Garson O'Toole's list of sources of quotation misattribution

I acquired the ebook "Hemingway Didn't Say That" by Garson O'Toole, a man who specializes in checking out who really said various quotations.  What got me turned on was his explanation of the various ways misattribution happens.  I have mentioned that I get a lift reading the chapter of the Old Testament called "Ecclesiastes".  It is beautifully pessimistic and says, "Face it, Pal, you are going to die.  Not only that, but after death, you and all your good works will be forgotten."  You may not like to read statements like that but I do.  In exploring this odd piece of writing from more than 2000 years ago, I learned that the attribution of authorship to the son of King David was a strategy more common in pre-trademark and marketing times.  The idea is I could attribute my writing to some famous and important person in order to garner attention and retention of what I write.  I recommend the book for the excellent discussion of how what one person says or writes comes to be considered the work of someone else.

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