Developing a Happier Life – 10 Steps to Help

28 Sep

Hand drawing unhappy and happy smileys on blackboard

 

10 Steps to a Happier Life.

Developing and leading a happier life is not only focusing on what and how you are adding to your life but also what you need to reduce or eliminate. Below are 10 important guidelines for a happier life.

1.      Control of actions and speech to avoid actions that create unnecessary conflict and regret.

2.     Not associating with immature egotistical people; not allowing ourselves to be adversely influenced by them.

3.     Proficiency in one’s work. Using and improving the skills we possess to better life for ourselves and others.

4.     Honest business pursuits, free from inherent disrespect to employers, employees and customers. A wholesome occupation that one does well and enjoys.

5.     Doing acts of responsible generosity. Giving is a source of happiness for both giver and receiver.

6.    To cherish one’s family. To support through wise and kind behaviors one’s parents, children, partner and extended family either in the biological sense or also a community of friends and colleagues.

7.      Living one’s life in an unreproachable respectful way which eliminates shame, guilt, and one has nothing to hide, nothing to regret.

8.    Gratefulness and humility. Remember fondly all the people in your life who have supported and helped you.

9.    Contentment. Do not constantly seek new stimulations and objects.

10. Refraining from doing or allowing behaviors that are disrespectful and unkind to your self/body or others.

 These are 10 important guidelines that if not already followed will create a happier life. Can you think of more?

11. Another important aspect for a happier life is – Not to consume substances likely to poison my body and in a way that they distort my sensibilities and deprive me of my self-control and powers of judgment; such as alcohol, drugs, tobacco, and so on .

“Why are you unhappy? Because 99.9 percent of everything you think, and of everything you do, is for yourself—and there isn’t one.”― Wei Wu Wei

28 Sep

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These are two paragraphs from my almost finished book- Realizing our Original Mind. ‘While the self seems real and substantial, our dis-identification practice helps us remember that it consists of only evolving and impermanent patterns in the mind and brain. The self exists in the way that memory allows it to exist. However, like all physical biological processes, it’s existence is transient and illusionary, and thus it is foolish to cling to it. To quote Rick Hanson, ‘Whatever of self there is in the brain, it is compounded and distributed, not coherent and unified; it is variable and transient, not stable and enduring. In other words, the conventional notion of self is a mythical creature.’ When we come to understand that the representations of self are only fictional, which we author and what they represent does not substantially exist, we then can start taking our ‘self’, as the expression goes, ‘with a grain of salt’ or not literally. So, for us to do that, and this is a revolutionary and very important discovery, our mind needs to be trained with some prolonged disciplined practice. The more we study how our mind and brain are intertwined, the more we can use the mind to change the brain, which then supports our future mind. Neuropsychology supports the idea that we have the freedom and possibility to condition and create our particular mind states supported by our nurtured brain structures.

So in the end, after the gradual ripening of the maturation and transformation of our habits, latent tendencies, dis-identification with the subjective ownership of experience, calming and stabilizing our physiology and behavior in our life patterns, we no longer respond immaturely or egotistically to our desires and aversions. Does that mean we become emotionless and detached automatons? No, just the opposite. Instead, we develop the perspective and ability to remain stable, balanced, not susceptible to the quirky ups and downs of our immature selfish emotions and wants. Even for the most accomplished meditator strong emotions can arise, when they do they are observed with the acceptance and objectivity of mindfulness and the stability of equanimity. While emotions can have an impact, it is only momentarily or at best a short time before the stability of calm and dispassion evaporate them away. Through the transformative process, there becomes a greater awareness and respect for our body, serenity of the emotions, increased kindness of the heart, flexible and realistic attitudes, more genuine human relationships growing out of a deeper awareness of our affinity with the web of life and a relinquishing of the Great Poisons of greed, anger and ignorance. We learn not only how to proceed anew but also importantly what we can simplify and do without.’ Look for publication in November, 2016.

 

INTERDENDENCE of Humans and Nature: We Are One

21 Jul

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As I have written in my newest book- The Buddha’s Radical Psycholohy: Explorations, there are direct implications for ecological ethics throughout the Buddha’s teachings. There is a holism. The Buddha emphasized the interdependence of human and non-human life, the importance of the ecosystem and of natural processes. By rejecting the concept of a substantial ‘self’, and comprehension of the interdependency of all phenomena, the importance of the distinction we usually make between ourselves and other living beings lessens. Such an attitude views the world as a vast interdependent field, in which no life form, no matter how insignificant it may seem, is an outsider. There is a state of connectedness and interdependence of all phenomena. The significant realization that there is no independent ‘self’– that the perception of ‘self’, of ‘me’, of ‘mine’ is only an egotistical representation, therefore leads every person to inter-dependently co-exist. Undercutting the usual ignorant anthropomorphic view of the validity of the successful domination and control of the environment by humans, naturalist Aldo Leopold claimed that, ‘The biotic (life factor) mechanism is so complex that its working may never be fully understood.’ There is a deeper ecology that recognises the inherent worth of other beings aside from their utility.

Another writer who expressed a similar deep view of ecology was R.G.H. Siu:

‘The term Ecology, as used locally, does not have the connotation of the “environment” as used in America. There is no separation of man and his environment; rather there is a fusion of man and his environment. Ecology represents the study of the ecological entity as a whole. When a given ecological complex appears unfavourable from the standpoint of man, for example, he does not have a prior claim to adjustment on the part of the other elements of the complex. The others have just as much “right” to demand modification of his behaviour as he has on theirs. All are one in Nature. There is an appreciation of this Oneness and the delicate interrelationships of its diffusions.’

So humans are not an isolated island in a sea of existence, but rather their being is shared ultimately with all. This becomes a clear and apparent relationship with all existence through the Buddha’s teaching of anatta.

‘A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.’ Probably the Best Argument for Gun Control.

18 Jun

A famous quote of Roman politician Lucius Annaeus Seneca (4Bc-65 AD) is ‘A sword never kills anybody; it is a tool in the killer’s hand.’ This quote simply states a simple truth of basic physics. An object at rest remains at rest until acted on by an outside force. A sword, sitting there, doing nothing, will not kill anyone. The same goes for guns or any other item that can cause death. None of them have any intent to cause harm, that is what the human adds to the equation. Only humans have intent, only humans can kill and the fact of the matter is they have been killing since pre-historical times and it is naive to think they will automatically stop for no particular reason. The inanimate objects are merely tools in the hands of a killer. As long as people have ignorance and unwholesome thoughts and intentions, and succumb to them, they will use tools to kill others. So since society cannot nor should constantly monitor the state of mind or intentions of its citizens (Brave New World), the most potent and catastrophic tools for killing ( i.e. assault weapons/bombs/etc.) must be restricted for the government to maintain a stable and safe society for its citizens.

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What Is your Newest Book About?

9 Jun

Since I first posted about the publication of my newest Book- The Buddha’s Radical Psychology: Explorations, I have had numerous inquirers asking about the content of the book. I thought the quickest look at the book contents would be to list the Table of Contents. Good reading!

The Buddha’s Radical Psychology: Explorations

Contents

Preface…xi

Chapter 1 Introduction 1

Chapter 2 Self/No-Self 7

Chapter 3 Self as Construction 23

Chapter 4 The Human Being as a Collective, Unified Unit 35

Chapter 5 Awakening and Enlightenment: Psychological Transformation and Transcendence 61

Chapter 6 Enlightenment: Reality, Actuality and Transcendence 73

Chapter 7 Knowing and Not Knowing – What is Possible? 81

Chapter 8 The General Doctrine of the Law of Dependent Co-arising 99

Chapter 9 Kamma 109

Chapter 10 Sense of Agency 119

Chapter 11 Agency Labelled as Self 129

Chapter 12 Dividing Existence – Duality 143

Chapter 13 Language Construction of Duality 163

Chapter 14 Identification 181

Chapter 15 The Buddha’s Compassion 197

Chapter 16 Memory 207

Chapter 17 The Unconscious 227

Chapter 18 Habits 243

Chapter 19 Cognitive Biases 253

Chapter 20 Meta-cognition and Mindfulness 267

Chapter 21 Automatic Influences on our Actions and Perceptions 277

Chapter 22 Organisms as Coherent Embedded Systems 299

Chapter 23 Happiness 379

Chapter 24 The World without a ‘Self’ 391

Chapter 25 Closing Thoughts 405

Appendix A Explanation of the effects of stress on the different systems of the human body 411

Appendix B Special experiences 415

About the Author

Rodger R. Ricketts, Psy.D. is a clinical psychologist and mindfulness meditation teacher. He has been studying Buddhism for over thirty years, both as part of his own personal quest and also in the application its principles as a therapeutic tool in psychotherapy. He has written three books exploring the foundation of the Buddha’s Teaching in psychology. Rodger has given numerous presentations at wellness and professional psychological conferences on the topics of cognitive psychology, mindfulness and wellbeing. Rodger continues his study of both science and Buddhism, and maintains a regular meditation practice.

What else other than the Big Bang Singularity?

16 May

What else other than the Big Bang Singularity?

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Since my childhood I have been affascinato with astronomy and cosmology. I lived in the relative darkness at night in suburban Illinois and the night sky was a display of planets, stars and even satellites. Early on, seeing my enthusiasm, my parents bought me a small telescope with which I could see even clearer and, also, more distant celestial objects, and we went to the nearby observatory and planetariums to learn more about the universe. Of course, as with all science, over the years with the advancement of more sophisticated technology, the hypothesis of the origin of the universe has changed and will continue to do so. This short blog is written as a personal reflection on the latest, more reasonable hypotheses on the topic of the beginning of our universe.

Those familiar with cosmology or the scientific study of the origin and structure of the universe are aware of the competition of two primary hypotheses about the nature of the universe in which we live. These two are the Steady State and Big Bang. In brief, the steady-state theory, claims that the density of matter in the expanding universe remains unchanged due to a continuous creation of matter, thus adhering to the perfect cosmological principle, a principle that asserts that the observable universe is basically the same at any time as well as at any place. While the steady state model enjoyed some popularity in the mid-20th century, the Steady State Theory is now no longer accepted by most cosmologists. Today the majority of astronomers consider the Big Bang theory to be the best description of the origin of the universe as the observational evidence points to a hot Big Bang cosmology with a finite age of the universe, which the Steady State model does not predict.

It seems that the field of cosmology, therefore, yields good evidence that there was an initial beginning to our universe. According to the Big Bang theory, our universe began as an infinitesimally small, infinitely hot, and infinitely dense something – a singularity. The universe began to exist as a hot, dense phase, which can be considered the “birth” of our universe in which was contained all of the mass and spacetime of the Universe before it rapidly expanded with subsequent inflation, creating the present-day Universe. Extrapolation of the expansion of the universe backwards in time using general relativity yields an infinite density and temperature at a finite time in the past. The initial singularity is part of what is called the Plank  Epoch , or the earliest period of time in the history of the universe. So according to the standard theory, based on measurements of the expansion using Type IA supernova and measurements of temperature fluctuations in the cosmic microwave background, our universe came into existence as a singularity of an estimated age of 13.799 ± 0.021 billion years ago.

Well, as an ‘affascinato’ of cosmology, this has always been pretty convincing through the science that supports the Big Bang until one arrives at the logical question of “How did all that mass come into existence from nothing?”. One thinks that perhaps not being a professional in the subject, one has missed a subtle and important link in the argument for the Big Bang model. This self-doubt ends rather quickly when the usual cosmologist at the end of the Big Bang lecture admits, “Where did the initial singularity come from? We don’t know. Why did it appear? Well, to be honest, we don’t know. This is a question that stretches physics to its limit simply because before the initial singularity there was no space and no time. Therefore, the word ‘before’ becomes meaningless.” In fact, the Big Bang singularity can explain only what happened immediately after—not at or before—the singularity. Also, this implies that the universe was born with a tendency to expand, which overcame the tendency of matter to collapse. Why it initially chose to do so is also still a mystery… the Big Bang model has numerous theoretical difficulties to it.

So while the Big Bang is the most accepted model, there are many holes (not black ones) in this proposition. But now there is a new perspective which gives a more parsimonious answer to the questionable issues associated with that singularity. The perspective is quantum physics. In quantum physics, particularly the transactional interpretation (TI) of quantum mechanics, as discussed by Ruth Kastner, explains that the macroscopic world of mass, space and time is based on the foundation or scaffold of the quantum interactions found in ‘quantumland’. This interpretation purports that there is more to known reality than ‘spacetime’, and that quantum theory describes that subtler, unseen reality. In this hypothesis, quantum processes take place in a realm scaffolding the ‘spacetime’ realm. Quanta are not contained in our spacetime world but in the realm of possibilities outside spacetime. Kastner explains that according to the transaction interpretation of quantum systems, e.g. electrons, travel by a physical entity called an offer wave, which is offered from a source called an emitter, to a destination called an absorber. The microscopic emitters and absorbers are quantum objects and not in spacetime. When there is absorption of the offer, this process gives rise to a confirmation wave that travels back to the emitter. This process of an offer responded to by a confirmation is the basic ‘handshake’. The confirmation is also like a mirror image of the offer representing an incipient transaction whose essence is merely possible energy rather than real energy. The process of the creation of new particles can only be treated by relativistic quantum mechanics.

Once there is a matching confirmation, then the property is defined as actualized, brought into spacetime, and is a classical property. The incipient transaction is actualized and becomes an observable event in the macroworld or ‘our’ world of mass in space and time. A macroscopic object begins at the point at which a confirmation has been generated. Real energy is only conveyed in the actualized transaction, in fact; only through an actualized transaction can real energy be radiated or transferred from one object to another. So indeed, a reliable macroscopic object is a consistent absorber and can be defined as a system of many actualized transactions. Kastner uses the example of a geiger counter to illustrate the difference of the two ‘worlds’. A geiger counter exists as an object in the macroscopic world being a conglomerate of actualized transactions. But it also maintains its roots in the quantumland domain of possibilities because it is comprised of atoms, which can act as emitters or absorbers. Measurement occurs both whenever an absorber is accessible to an emitter and when confirmations are generated.

In actuality, it is the interaction of subatomic material that brings forth the material world as we know it and as it exists. So, in terms of the beginning of our universe, using the TI model, the speculation that would make sense is that at a point about 13 billion years ago there was a quantum fluctuation that created the macroscopic elements which ‘broke through’ and created our realm of existence. While, of course, the why, how and what are still a mystery for this as is still much of our comprehension of ‘quantumland’, we are no longer faced with the impossibility of explaining the ‘before’ the singularity event of the Big Band using the infinite macroscopic mass/space/time model of the Big Bang but instead the more heuristic, efficient quantum model which bypasses the impossible.

Newest Book Now on Amazon- Buddha’s Radical Psychology: Explorations

12 May

The Buddha’s teachings are, at heart, a way of life based on a revolutionary psychology which emphasises the cultivation of wisdom and compassion. Through an exploration of significant, recen…

Source: Newest Book Now on Amazon- Buddha’s Radical Psychology: Explorations