Friday, April 27, 2012


Training medical practitioners in mindfulness meditation and communication skills can improve the quality of primary care for both practitioners and their patients.

University of Rochester researchers, reporting findings in the journal Academic Medicine, also recommend promoting a sense of community among medical practitioners and providing time to doctors for personal growth.

The Academic Medicine article, which will be published in the journal’s June 2012 print edition, is a follow-up to a study by the researchers published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2009. That study found that mindfulness meditation and communication training can alleviate the psychological distress and burnout experienced by many physicians and can improve their well-being.

'Programs focused on personal awareness and self-development are only part of the solution,' the researchers note. 'Our health care delivery systems must implement systematic change at the practice level to create an environment that supports mindful practice, encourages transparent and clear communication among clinicians, staff, patients, and families, and reduces professional isolation.'

Sixty per cent of doctors engaged in the study reported that learning mindfulness skills improved their capacity to listen more attentively and respond more effectively to others at work and home. In addition, more than half of the participants acknowledged having increased self-awareness and better ability to respond non-judgmentally during personal or professional conversations.

The research was supported by the Physicians Foundation.

Read the original study  DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0b013e318253d3b2

IMPORTANT NOTICE: See the Terms of Use and Disclaimer. The information provided on this blogspot is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your medical practitioner or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on this blogspot. For immediate advice or support call Lifeline on 13 1 1 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. For information, advice and referral on mental illness contact the SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) go online via

Saturday, April 21, 2012


The great thing about mindfulness is this---it makes acceptance the foundation of all that happens and presents itself as one’s consciousness and moment-to-moment experience. Choiceless awareness of what is---that is just another form of acceptance.

I am sick-and-tired of hearing people say, ‘I need closure, and I can’t have closure unless or until …’ I hear someone say this almost every day. Closure, closure, closure. Where did this silly idea come from? Pop psychology? It is certainly not rooted in sound spirituality---nor in sound psychology for that matter. One of the sad things about the loss of traditional religion is that pop psychology---often of a very silly and even dangerous kind---has rushed in to fill the void. Some of what we are told to do is absolute crap---more silly than some of the pastoral 'advice' dispensed by old-time preachers. (I am not one of the latter. I am too much of a heretic to qualify as one.)

A husband and wife lose their daughter. Let’s say she is brutally murdered. A man is apprehended and charged with the murder of the daughter. He is tried, convicted and sentenced to several years imprisonment. The parents say, ‘Now that we finally have closure, we can move on.’ Rubbish! Dishonest! They will never move on. What they really wanted was 'justice,' vengeance and retribution. It had always been possible for them to move on, right from day one---if they had wanted to, but they have handed over their power to others. Yes, some things take time, but acceptance---true acceptance---is always unconditional. It is a willing acceptance of things as they are---even in a hopelessly broken state. Listen to these wonderful words from the ‘Big Book’ of Alcoholics Anonymous:

And acceptance is the answer to all my problems today. When I am disturbed, it is because I find some person, place, thing or situation---some fact of my life---unacceptable to me, and I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment. Nothing, absolutely nothing happens in God's world by mistake. Until I could accept my alcoholism, I could not stay sober; unless I accept life completely on life's terms, I cannot be happy. I need to concentrate not so much on what needs to be changed in the world as on what needs to be changed in me and in my attitudes.

Note those words---‘unless I could accept life completely on life’s terms.’ That means accepting life as is---warts and all. Note also the words, ‘I can find no serenity until I accept that person, place, thing or situation as being exactly the way it is supposed to be at this moment.’ Again, that means accepting life as is.

What is ‘closure’? I will tell you. It is ‘acceptance’ subject to conditions (eg vengeance, retribution, change). When things change---hopefully for the better---then I will be able to accept what has happened, and move on. Rubbish? Accept things as they are now. At the risk of repeating myself, acceptance---true acceptance---is unconditional. You accept things as they are now. Period. You don't wait until things change.

Life is hard---bloody hard, at times. I know that to be true---personally. I am not one to dispense cheap optimism. Acceptance is never easy. I think acceptance involves a strong element of forgiveness---that is, we forgive ourselves, other people, life itself, even God, for things being bad and lousy. Then, we let go---absolutely and unconditionally.

Those who want, or are otherwise waiting, for so-called closure find it hard to let go and forgive---especially the latter. The want acceptance, after a fashion, but they also want to hold on to their pain, their anger, their resentment, and their bitterness. Like Lot’s wife, they are constantly looking back at the dreadful thing that happened to them. Like Lot’s wife, they will be turned into a pillar of salt---unless they 'wake up.' Yes, these people will have absolutely no serenity whatsoever until they accept, forgive and let go---absolutely and unconditionally. These people will never truly get the ‘closure’ they are seeking---because there is no such thing as closure, at least not in the sense they are using the term.

You see, closure is not something that happens to you---if you wait long enough, and are 'lucky.' That's the problem with the 'conventional wisdom' with respect to closure. It shifts the responsibility for getting better from oneself to others or to circumstances outside oneself ('conditions' or 'situations'). No, you alone are responsible for effecting due and proper closure---that is, unconditional acceptance---and it happens instantaneously and immediately when you accept things as they are. But first you must be willing for that to happen. Ah, there's the rub! You must want your freedom more than you want to hold on to your pain, anger, resentment and bitterness. It's a choice, and an act of the will---although no so-called 'will power' is involved or required. You make a decision that enough is enough---that it's time to let go and move on. Your whole life depends upon it. It's crunch time.

So, forget all about so-called 'closure.' You don’t need it. It is bad psychology and even worse spirituality. Just accept life completely on life's terms, draw a line in the sand---and move on!




IMPORTANT NOTICE: See the Terms of Use and Disclaimer. The information provided on this blogspot is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never delay or disregard seeking professional medical advice from your medical practitioner or other qualified health provider because of something you have read on this blogspot. For immediate advice or support call Lifeline on 13 1 1 14 or Kids Helpline on 1800 55 1800. For information, advice and referral on mental illness contact the SANE Helpline on 1800 18 SANE (7263) go online via


Friday, April 13, 2012


Most of us---except those who, for reasons best known to themselves, prefer the 'unexamined life' (which, as Socrates supposedly pointed out, is not worth living)---want to know more about ourselves. We want what is often referred to as 'self-knowledge,' for with that, so we have been told, comes a certain 'power,' 'presence' and---most importantly---'peace of mind.' However, few of us have any real idea of how to gain true knowledge of who we really are.

Many people meditate, in various well-known ways, in order to gain so-called 'self-knowledge.' However, as the great Indian spiritual philosopher Jiddu Krishnamurti (pictured left) pointed out more than once, without knowing yourself there cannot possibly be a state of meditation. Meditation is self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is meditation.

That is why mindfulness meditation has one great advantage---it actually has several---over other forms of meditation where the ‘method’ employed is usually to sit still and concentrate. Mindfulness meditation, on the other hand, ‘happens’ while living, so to speak, and is applied to the whole of one’s life and daily living---from one moment to the next. It is meditation without ceasing---something like what the Apostle Paul (pictured below right) perhaps had in mind when he gave the advice to ‘pray without ceasing’ (1 Thes 5:17). True meditation has no ‘method’---it simply happens all by itself or not at all. It ‘happens’ when you simply---observe! Here is a YouTube video clip in which Krishnamurti and Dr Allan W Anderson have a discussion to find out what meditation truly is:

True self-knowledge means knowing the whole content of your mind and consciousness and the experience of your body---yes, every thought, every feeling, every mood, every sensation. And what do I mean by ‘knowing’? It means paying bare attention to, and being choicelessly aware, of every thought, every feeling, every mood, and every sensation, as they arise from one moment to the next, and observing where they come from. There must be no analysis, no judgments, no interpretations, no self-criticism. If you engage in any of the foregoing, you are no longer living in the present, you are back in the past---inextricably caught (indeed, bound) up in bundles of memories, belief systems, opinions, ideas and so forth. Bad stuff. You bet! Why? Well, it’s very simple. All those things prevent you---yes, prevent you---from experiencing life in all its directness and immediacy.

That is why I am totally and implacably opposed to religions and ideologies which require you to believe 'this' or 'that.' Unfortunately, Christianity, except in its more liberal, progressive and esoteric forms, is a religion of beliefs. Buddhism, Hinduism, Judaism and Islam are not, for the most part, religions of belief. You can be a Buddhist, Hindu, Jew or Muslim without holding any specific beliefs. Not so with Christianity, the two main creeds of which begin with the words 'I/We believe.' A so-called 'secular Christian' is an oxymoron if ever there was one, but there can be, and indeed are, secular Muslims, Jews, etc. As for ideologies, Marxism is an example of a belief-based ideology, but I digress. Forgive me. 

Beliefs are a menace to society---and a total, impenetrable barrier to true knowledge and wisdom. Beliefs are always someone else's 'version' of reality---the result of someone else's conditioned mind, mental habits and fragmentary thinking, that is, the past. There is nothing of any value to believe, and there is nothing to be gained by believing anything or anyone. Just observe. Then you will know---and understand. You do not need to believe anything, and if you truly want to know---don't believe! Beliefs, being 'mechanical' in nature, and constructed entirely of past thoughts, are for spiritual cripples---that is, those who can't, or won't, think for themselves. In that regard, I have always found helpful these words attributed to the Buddha: 'Do not believe, for if you believe, you will never know. If you really want to know, don't believe.' My point exactly.

So, we must merely observe, that is, be aware---choicelessly so---of the movement of the mind, otherwise you are back in the past---the so-called conditioned mind with all its baggage and wallpaper. Merely observe.

Of course, that’s not an easy thing to do. As soon as we become aware of something, we almost invariably start to analyze, judge, form an opinion as to whether or not we like it, and so forth. We get caught up in the movement of the mind, which is nothing other than the ‘self.’ As I have said many times before, the problem with the movement of the mind as self is that it is a veritable prison. Unless we are freed from the bondage of self, there is no hope for us. The thousands of ‘I’s’ and ‘me’s’ are nothing more memory and habit.

Krishnamurti denied the separate, independent existence of a ‘Self’ (with a capital ‘S’)---that is, a ‘Supreme Self,’ a ‘Big Self,’ a ‘Higher Self,’ or ‘Atman.’ For Krishnamurti, any such concept was ‘still within the field of thought.’ Possibly. However, the ‘Self’ of which I speak is simply the absence, or freedom from the bondage, of the thousands of ‘I’s’ and ‘me’s’ which, in themselves, have no separate, independent existence. As I see it, the ‘Self’ of you is nothing more nor less than the presence of the very livingness of life in you and as you---that is, the person that you are. End of the matter. I am not referring to anything ‘supernatural’ or ‘hocus pocus.’ When you get rid of the ‘little selves’---which are illusory in any event---you are left with the so-called ‘Big Self.’ It’s as simple as that---so please keep it simple.

Most self-knowledge is anything but knowledge of the person that you are. All too often, the knowledge is nothing more than the ceaseless, mindless, senseless activity of the waxing and waning I’s’ and ‘me’s’ which are solely the result of conditioned mind and thinking. The result of such ‘self’ observation? More and more bondage to self. More and more self-obsession and self-absorption. Not a good thing.

You are wasting your time meditating unless you understand the reality of what I have just written. Krishnamurti wrote that you must first establish ‘deeply, irrevocably, that virtue which comes about through self-knowing, is utterly deceptive and absolutely useless.’ Strong stuff, but undeniably true.

So, don’t engage in self-deception, which is just another way of describing what the world refers to as so-called 'self-knowledge.' The true ‘emptiness’ of which the mystics and the holy ones---in all religious traditions and none---have spoken comes from a total surrender, a letting go, of all desire to do anything other than to observe, to be aware, to know---yes, a letting go of 'self.' Freedom comes from the realization that only a free mind---a mind which is free from conditioning and beliefs of all kinds---can both enquire and know. The problem with most Westerners is that we have taken too seriously the ‘advice’ that we must analyze everything, form opinions, believe this or that, and so forth. It’s all self-deception and self-delusion. There is no ‘way’ to be free---and certainly no ‘path.’ The way to be free is to be free.

There is no ‘path’ to true self-knowledge. There is no ‘technique’ or ‘method’ that can be employed, so don't bother trying to find one---and reject all those so-called 'gurus' and 'teachers' who would try to teach (or sell) you one. If you are looking for, or relying upon, any of those things or persons, you will not acquire self-knowledge. You may acquire knowledge of ‘this’ or ‘that’---but no knowledge of the person that you are. I am deadly serious---as always.

Acknowledgment is made, and gratitude is expressed,
to the Krishnamurti Foundation of America, Ojai, California, USA.


Monday, April 9, 2012


'You're on Earth. There's no cure for that.'

I have always loved the ‘Theatre of the Absurd’ (le théâtre de l'absurde), of which the Anglo-Irish playwright Samuel Beckett (pictured left), who lived most of his adult life in France, was one of its leading exponents.

En attendant Godot (Waiting for Godot) is Beckett’s most well-known play---famously described as 'a play in which nothing happens, twice.' The play is not so much a comedy as a farce---and a tragic farce at that. Vladimir and Estragon, two tramps who live in the 'shadows of existence,' are forever waiting for the arrival of the mysterious 'Godot.'

The tramps---'existential clowns,' they have been called---believe that Godot will in some unexplained way make everything different. Godot will give meaning and coherence to their miserable lives, and will relieve their metaphysical anguish. 'We are all born mad. Some remain so.' Just the thought of Godot’s supposed imminent arrival gives the two tramps some false comfort and relief from the existential absurdity and pointlessness of their condition. How very much like them are we!

However, Godot never comes. No surprises there.

The somewhat circular movement of the play is simply the action of ‘waiting.’ Thus, much of the dialogue in the play goes like this:

Estragon: ... Let’s go.
Vladimir: We can’t.
Estragon: Why not?
Vladimir: We’re waiting for Godot.
Estragon: Ah.

Beckett, when asked what he meant by Godot, said, ‘If I knew I should have said so in the play.’ The truth is Godot is whatever we ‘attach’ ourselves to when we are not living mindfully in the Eternal Now---that is, when we are 'waiting.' We all seem to be waiting for something---or someone. We may be waiting for our 18th birthday. We may be waiting for the weekend, for Christmas, for our next holidays, for our next sexual encounter, or for the Second Coming. It doesn’t matter. We are all like Vladimir and Estragon, who fail even at being nihilists. We will do anything but live in the Eternal Now. Silly people that we are---we wait.

As I see it, Godot is the future. If we are 'living' (ha!) in the future---which doesn’t exist in any event---we are not living mindfully in the Eternal Now. That is a sure-fire recipe for utter hopelessness and futility---the ‘action’ (or rather inaction) of waiting. So many of us are like Vladimir and Estragon---ruined by the habit of inaction or of acting without one’s own initiative. There is not even the will to decide not to go on, that is, to end it all.

Estragon: What about hanging ourselves?
Vladimir: Hmm. It'd give us an erection.

There is only one way to live with purpose---even when confronted with utter hopelessness---and that is to choose to live mindfully in the Eternal Now. True, ‘There’s no lack of void,’ as Estragon says in the play, but if you face each moment with directness and immediacy by maintaining bare attention to, and being choicelessly aware of, whatever is the ‘content’ of each passing moment, from one moment to the next, your life will be meaningful and coherent---even in the face of an otherwise indecipherable cosmos.

'The only sin is the sin of being born,' writes Beckett. Be that as it may, don't wait for Godot to relieve you of the burden of being human---that is, the bondage of self. Godot never comes. Godot never turns up. Never has, never will. In fact, don't wait at all. Just live mindfully---in the Eternal Now---and you will be free of the bondage of self.

Tramps---I mean, angels---can do no better.

Postscript. Another of Beckett's plays, Krapp's Last Tape, explores the instability---indeed, illusory nature---of the 'self.' By means of a tape recorder, the elusive 'self' at one point in time (when Krapp is an old man) 'meets' its earlier---now seemingly unrecognisable---incarnation (when Krapp was some 30 years younger). Krapp's Last Tape is a delightful mixture of Buddhism and existentialism---despite what my hero Groucho Marx said about the play, namely, 'If you turn that title around you will have an idea of what I thought of that one.' Nevertheless, the absurdist Groucho had more than a few things in common with Beckett, not the least of which was a lack of belief in an afterlife. In the words of the one, the only Groucho, 'You only live once, despite what Jesus or somebody said ... Go out to the garden and tear a flower in four. It won't be a flower again.' There, what more proof could you need? Thanks, Groucho. IEJ.


Sunday, April 1, 2012


A number of Buddhist writers have expressed considerable disquiet with the Christian doctrine of the Crucifixion. It is so unBuddhist-like, they say. Something so violent could never have been the cornerstone of Buddhism. Like so many Christians, these Buddhists fail to understand the true, ‘inner’ meaning of Easter.

The Crucifixion is an acted parable or dramatization of the ongoing cosmic sacrifice---the self-limitation (crucifixion) of life itself---in which the spirit of life, the one absolute reality which antecedes all manifested things, ever descends into matter, ever offers itself, and ever gives of itself to itself in manifestation, with the result that life, in all of its multiplicity of forms, is perpetuated. It is a mystery. It is a wonder. It is Divine.

In this sacrificial outgiving---the putting forth of the eternal principle of life as the Logos which freely offers Itself as the ensouling life of matter---the one life manifests itself in all things as all things but ever remains. Said the great avatar, Sri Krishna: ‘I established this universe with a portion of myself; and I remain.’ This is the 'eternal oblation,' the 'enduring sacrifice by which the world is nourished and sustained' (Holy Eucharist, Liberal Catholic Liturgy). This is the sublimest 'myth' known to humanity---the ‘man crucified in space’ of Hindu mythology, the ‘lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ of Christianity---the very self-givingness of life.

In this cosmic sacrifice or crucifixion, the mythic ‘life-giver’---the eternal and immutable principle and spirit of life itself---is, as it were, crucified upon the cross of matter and imprisoned in form. This is a continuing and never-ending process in which each of us has a part. This is the true meaning of Easter. What a tragic thing it is that conventional, mainstream Christianity has so totally literalized and carnalized this truly sublime myth, distorting its true meaning. Then, to make matters worse, there’s all the ‘butcher shop theology’---the ‘Jesus died for your sins’ stuff---which, at least in the form in which it is ordinarily presented, formed no part of Jesus’ original teachings but has its origin for the most part in the mystery religions. Forgive us, Jesus, for what we have done to you and to your teachings! The famed Baptist minister Dr Harry Emerson Fosdick expressed it well when, in an iconoclastic sermon entitled ‘The Peril of Worshipping Jesus’ (in the collection The Hope of the World), he said:

The world has tried in two ways to get rid of Jesus: first, by crucifying him, and second, by worshipping him. The first did not succeed. …

The world, therefore, foiled in its first attempt to be rid of Jesus by crucifying him, turned to the second, far more subtle and fatal way of disposing of great spiritual leadership---it worshipped him. … [T]hat has always been the most successful way of getting rid of Jesus.

Back to my theme. We must never forget the one, common life in ourselves as well as in all that is. Yes, we are all one. All life is one and indivisible. Every form that exists is a symbol of the one, supreme, eternal, never-ending oblation---the spirit of life forever giving itself to its world that it might have life. Yes, the spirit of life, which breathes into existence all that is, is both transcendent and immanent in our universe, forever suffering, dying, rising again, evolving, acting with and through all life. Alfred, Lord Tennyson put it beautifully when he wrote:

That God, which ever lives and loves; One God, one Law, one element: And one far off divine event to which the whole of creation moves.

This is the ‘ancient wisdom, the truth behind all true religion---the doctrine of the One Life. As Theosophist and Liberal Catholic bishop Dr George S Arundale (pictured left) often pointed out, ‘The One becomes the many, that the many might know themselves as One.’ 

Easter is about endings and beginnings. It is about love overcoming hate, hope prevailing over despair, and life triumphing over death. Easter celebrates the fact that the spirit of life is indestructible. As I have said more than once before, we are forever part of life’s self-expression, so we can never cease to be. Yes, we will change form and vanish from view, but we---that is, the spirit of life in us, as us---can never cease to be. Never. Never! We cannot be separated from life. We cannot be less than life. Never!

We read in the Rigveda:

One sun lights up the whole world,
One dawn reveals all this,
One reality has become all that exists.

May you all have a happy and, more importantly, holy Easter.