Sunday, April 26, 2015


‘I want to learn how to meditate.’

I hear those words quite often. My reply to such enquirers meets either with annoyance or just confusion or consternation. ‘You cannot learn how to meditate. When you ask “how,” you are seeking a method or technique. Methods and techniques are mechanical. They are the product of a conditioned mind. Meditation is all about the non-mechanical and the unconditioned--or rather deconditioned—mind.’

As I say, this reply is not what enquirers want to hear … but I say it anyway. Why? Because it’s the truth. Perhaps I can best explain what meditation truly is by giving you some pearls of wisdom from two great Japanese Zen masters of yesteryear, namely, Hakuin [pictured right] and Ikkyū [pictured below left].

First, Hakuin. 

Now, you have probably heard of the famous Zen kōan, ‘What is the sound of one hand clapping’? Well, Hakuin is said to have been the creator of that particular kōan. He was also the originator of the study of kōans as a means of attaining enlightenment. Actually, the 'sound of one hand clapping' kōan, as originally formulated by Hakuin, went like this: ‘What is the sound [or voice] of one hand?’ Egad, I hear you say. That is silly. Indeed. Indeed.

Are you looking for some ‘answer’ to the kōan ... or some other kōan? Some 'right' answer? Don’t bother. Kōans are not riddles. They have no ‘answer,’ and definitely no 'right' answer, as such for life has no answer. Life just is. So is a kōan. Have you heard this one? 'Two sisters are crossing the street, which one is the older sister?' Get the point? I hope so.

The purpose of kōans---if 'purpose' be the right word, which it probably isn’t---is to still the active, rational, intellectual, analytical mind. The mind then finds itself (note those words, ‘finds itself,’ for that is the way it happens) in an existential cul-de-sac of sorts where there is no way out but enlightenment. That is the only way we will ever be able to experience a direct, immediate and unmediated apprehension or realization of truth. Now, this is terribly important. A kōan is not a method or technique. It is the complete absence of any method or technique. It is the absence of any meaning or purpose as those terms are ordinarily understood. It is … seeing and experiencing things-as-they-really-are … without any filters, beliefs or conditioned thinking of any kind. It is waking up to what really is ... and that can be an earth-shattering experience.

That was not the wisdom from Hakuin that I actually wanted to share with you today, not that what I just said is unimportant, for it is of ultimate importance. This is the particular gem of wisdom from Hakuin that I wanted to share with you:

What is true meditation? It is to make everything: coughing, swallowing, waving the arms, motion, stillness, words, action, the evil and good, prosperity and shame, gain and loss, right and wrong, into one single kōan.

That, my friends, is meditation. It is not repeating over and over again some word or phrase. It is not staring for hours at a candle or a statue of the Buddha. Well, I will correct that. It is ... and it isn’t. Let me explain. Meditation is being attentive, fully attentive, to whatever you are doing or whatever is happening inside you or around you. Now, that may be a candle burning, or a repetitive word or phrase, but you should never restrict your meditative practice to just that sort of thing. Why? Because it soon becomes mechanical, and that is not a good thing. True meditation is washing the dishes, eating your dinner, driving the car, writing a letter or an email, having sex, and listening to your partner speak to you. It is doing all those things---and anything else for that matter---with focus, clarity, awareness, intentionality, deliberateness, and attention. Meditation is being aware … and being fully aware that you are aware. In short, meditation is living---really living---with your eyes open.

Now we come to Zen master Ikkyū.

One day a man of the people said to Ikkyū, ‘Master, will you please write for me some maxims of the highest wisdom?’ Ikkyū immediately took his brush and wrote the word ‘Attention.’ ‘Is that all?’ asked the man. ‘Will you not add something more?’ Ikkyū then wrote twice: ‘Attention. Attention.’ ‘Well,’ remarked the man rather irritably, ‘I really don’t see much depth or subtlety in what you have just written.’ Then Ikkyū wrote three times: ‘Attention. Attention. Attention.’ Half-angered, the man demanded: ‘What does that word “attention” mean anyway?’ Ikkyū gently answered: ‘Attention means attention.’

That, dear friends, is meditation. Attention. Attention. Attention.

And you thought you needed a method or technique.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Meditation is as good as anti-depressants for tackling depression according to the results of an Oxford University study recently published online in the Lancet.

The researchers found that mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT) prevented as many people from sliding back into clinical depression as conventional antidepressant medication.

The study followed 492 severely depressed adults over a period of 2 years. Half of the participants received mindfulness training and the other half stayed on antidepressant drugs.

It was found that 44 per cent of the MBCT group slipped back into major depression compared with 47 per cent of the group taking antidepressant medication.

Whilst the study doesn’t show that MBCT works any better than maintenance antidepressant medication in reducing the rate of relapse in depression, the results suggest that mindfulness is an acceptable alternative for the millions of people with recurrent depression on repeat prescriptions.

Study: Kuyken, W et al. ‘Effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of mindfulness-based cognitive therapy compared with maintenance antidepressant treatment in the prevention of depressive relapse or recurrence (PREVENT): a randomised controlled trial.’ The Lancet. Published Online: 20 April 2015. DOI:

IMPORTANT NOTICE: See the Terms of Use and Disclaimer. The information provided on this blog 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 blog. 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

Monday, April 20, 2015


‘Life is real only then, when I am.’ G I Gurdjieff. 

There are some ideas that, by their very nature, are truly life-changing. These ideas are powerful and transformative. Certainly I have found that to be true in my own life.

One such idea, which I write about regularly in this blog and elsewhere, is ‘Self is illusion---only the person is real.’ Of course, an idea like that is not likely to change anything in or for you until you understand its meaning and significance. Then you must internalize and actualize the idea.

I first read some of the ideas of the Greco-Armenian mystic G I Gurdjieff [pictured left] when I was 19 or 20. I must say I couldn't understand what the hell he was on about. To this day I have grasped only some of his philosophy, but two ideas forcefully expressed by the man---as recounted by his most famous pupil P D Ouspensky [pictured below right]---I do understand and know to be true. Those ideas are as follows. First, a person has no permanent and unchangeable ‘I.’ Only the person himself or herself is ontologically real. Secondly, ordinarily it takes a major crisis or some traumatic event to bring a person to a point of self-surrender and complete transformation and to come to know and experience their inner power as a person.

In 1912 Gurdjieff appeared in Moscow where he introduced the ideas, teachings and practices that have become known as ‘the Work.’ (To this day, Gurdjieff’s teaching is very much an oral tradition transmitted under special conditions from person to another. Such is the nature of so-called ‘occult’ [that is, hidden or secret, as opposed to Satanic] or esoteric teachings.) In 1922 Gurdjieff began his work in France but he also made several well-publicized trips to the United States of America. He died in France in 1949. To this day there are Gurdjieff groups, societies and foundations in many countries including Australia where I live. The Gurdjieff Foundation (known as such in the USA, and by the names ‘The Gurdjieff Society’ in the United Kingdom, and ‘Institut Gurdjieff’ in France) is the largest organization directly linked to Gurdjieff and was organized in the early 1950s.

Now, before I go any further I need to deal, ever so briefly, with the issue of whether or not Gurdjieff was a fake, a fraud, a con man. Much has been written on the subject and there is more than a little evidence that Gurdjieff’s capacity for self-deception was exceeded only by his ability to deceive others. It’s rather ironic. A major theme of Gurdjieff was that we spend much of our lives in a state of hypnotic ‘waking sleep.’ In other words, we deceive ourselves and a result others as well. Perhaps Gurdjieff was no different, even if he did have considerable insight into the problem. Perhaps his deception was more conscious, even fraudulent. Perhaps he was just a clever hypnotist. That’s all I’ll say, because I really don’t know where the truth lies as respects the matter.

G I Gurdjieff and some of his pupils

However, despite some lasting qualms about the man and his methods, I am very much of the view that Gurdjieff had some very important and true things to say including but not limited to the two ideas expressed above and discussed further below. For starters, he rightly understood that most religions have corrupted the teachings of their respective founders---teachings that are for the most part psychological in nature. He expounded the ancient wisdom that underpins all of the world’s religions and mythologies. And he stressed the importance of constant self-awareness and self-observation---that is, psychological wakefulness---without which there can be no insight, no understanding, and no psychological mutation. However, there are some ideas of his---for example, the idea that there exist higher levels of consciousness and higher bodies---that I simply cannot accept.

As respects the illusory nature of the self, the following quotations of Gurdjieff are taken from Ouspensky’s book In Search of the Miraculous: Fragments of an Unknown Teaching, which recounts his meeting and subsequent association with Gurdjieff:

One of man’s important mistakes, one which must be remembered, is his illusion in regard to his I.

Man such as we know him, the ‘man-machine,’ the man who cannot ‘do,’ and with whom and through whom everything ‘happens,’ cannot have a permanent and single I. His I changes as quickly as his thoughts, feelings and moods, and he makes a profound mistake in considering himself always one and the same person; in reality he is always a different person, not the one he was a moment ago.

Man has no permanent and unchangeable I. Every thought, every mood, every desire, every sensation, says ‘I’.

Man has no individual I. But there are, instead, hundreds and thousands of separate small ‘I’s, very often entirely unknown to one another, never coming into contact, or, on the contrary, hostile to each other, mutually exclusive and incompatible. Each minute, each moment, man is saying or thinking, ‘I’. And each time his I is different. Just now it was a thought, now it is a desire, now a sensation, now another thought, and so on, endlessly. Man is a plurality. Man's name is legion.

I have said this so many times, but I will say it again because it needs to be said again and again. Most of our psychological and emotional problems, as well as problems in our interpersonal relationships, arise because we tend to identify with any one or more of those hundreds and thousands of separate ‘I’s, many of which are not only hostile to each other but downright antipathetic. Over time these ‘I’s solidify, so to speak, in our consciousness---indeed, they tend to set like concrete---and we mistakenly believe that they actually are the real person that each one of us is, one of the results being that we tend to perceive things from the completely subjective and distorted perspective of our own self-images. This state of affairs, as Gurdjieff pointed out, is a form of self-hypnosis, but we are all very good at it. Sadly.

Of course, these self-images (‘I’s and ‘me’s) are definitely not the real you, or the real me. They are nothing more than images in our mind which we have conned ourselves into believing are the real ‘me’ (that is, person) that we are. A timid person identifies so closely with the ‘timid me’ in herself that she becomes and acts timid. An angry person identifies with the ‘angry self’ in himself to such an extent and on such a regular basis that he becomes a person who is angry much of the time. And so it is. The point is this: there is no such thing as a ‘timid person’ or an ‘angry person.’ In truth, it is simply the case that there is timidity or anger ‘in’ the person such that they act and behave that way. Yet it need not be that way. People have within them the power to change. Self can’t change itself, but the person can change.

Once we come to understand that we are not any one of those hundreds and thousands of ‘I’s that we generate from moment to moment, and start living from the power and presence of the person each of us is, our lives will undergo a radical observation. We need to see illusion for what it is---illusion. Self is illusion. See the truth of that. Observe your illusory selves in operation. Notice how they clamour for your attention. Each one of these ‘I’s is saying to you, ‘Buy me, identify with me, be me.’ The truth is---we are not any of those self-images. Only the person that we are is ontologically real. So, next time the ‘angry self’ or whatever raises its ugly head, just watch it come and go. Say to yourself (that is, the person that you are), ‘That self is not me. It is not the person that I am. I choose not to identify with that self. I let it go.’ And do just that.

Now, the second idea referred to above, namely, that it generally takes a major crisis or traumatic event to bring a person to a point of self-surrender and complete transformation. Recovering alcoholics and other addicts known this to be true. The founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, who had read some of the writings of the great American philosopher William James [pictured left], understood that ego deflation at great depth was essential for real personal transformation and recovery. Most of us only change in a big way when we are forced so to do. A spouse leaves us, convinced that we will never change and fed up with the way we have been living for decades. Or we lose our job or our finances. In the words of Gurdjieff, ‘Only conscious suffering has any sense.’ I know that to be true. The suffering in my own life, and the pain caused to others as a result, had no meaning or purpose but in the light of recovery and a changed life the suffering does make sense. Well, at least up to a point.

Of course, some people still don’t change when those sort of things happen. Indeed, I have come to believe that there is no one rock bottom. There is simply a bottomless pit for each one of us. Some people keep falling and falling until death or insanity is the result. Gurdjieff said, ‘Man lives his life in sleep, and in sleep he dies.’ But it need not be the case. We can and must ‘wake up.’

Self can’t change. The person can. Let it happen now.


Monday, April 13, 2015


April of every year is Parkinson’s Disease Awareness Month.

Parkinson’s disease is a chronic, progressive degenerative disorder of the central nervous system. The disease involves the malfunctioning and eventual destruction of neurons in the brain---primarily in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra---some of which ordinarily produce dopamine, a hormone and neurotransmitter that sends messages to the part of the brain that controls movement and coordination. So, as the disease progresses, the amount of dopamine decreases, leaving a person unable to control movement normally.  

The cause of Parkinson's disease is as yet unknown, and although there is presently no ‘cure’ as such for the illness there are a number of treatment options, such as medication and surgery, that can assist---sometimes greatly---in the management and progression of the disease.

Now, past research has shown that exercise can, among other things, significantly reduce symptoms of Parkinson’s disease and help a person move and feel better, but there is also some research to suggest that the regular practice of mindfulness can also assist in the management of the disease.

Long-term mindfulness practitioners increase the working capacity of the brain and connections within the brain, and increase brain matter than non-practitioners. This suggests mindfulness may keep brains young and healthy. An 8-week mindfulness-based stress reduction training program has been found to make measurable changes in the brain structures associated with learning and memory, sense of self, empathy and stress. Even as little as 4 days of mindfulness training can enhance a person’s ability to sustain focused attention and also effect significant improvements in mood, visuospatial processing, working memory and cognition.

Norman Doidge MD [pictured left], author of The Brain That Changes Itself and The Brain’s Way of Healing, is a Canadian-born psychiatrist. A leading expert in neuroscience and medicine, Doidge has made some fascinating discoveries on the power of the mind and brain neuroplasticity.

Doidge gives the example of a friend of his with Parkinson’s disease who was able to normalize his walking pattern by slowing down his walking, using extreme ‘meditative’ concentration to break apart each step, and practising mindfulness for a full year. The ‘secret’ is to focus one’s conscious ‘bare’ attention and 'choiceless' awareness on one’s movement.

Bare attention is a way of looking at experience that adds nothing to, and takes nothing away from, the raw experience itself. Bare attention makes no attempt to change things in any way but simply sees and notices what is---without any attachment or identification. Likewise, choiceless awareness is being aware of whatever is, that is, objectively seeing things-as-they-really-are---things both inner and outer---without becoming attached to anything. In other words, there is no choosing to be aware of one thing but not another (eg tremors or other bodily sensations or thoughts). Instead, you are calmly and dispassionately aware of the content of every experience. ‘Unadorned observation,’ it has been called.

Doidge’s research demonstrates that in time brain areas not affected by the disease take over functions previously controlled by areas of the brain adversely affected by the disease. Tremors disappeared as a result of the man becoming more aware of his movement.

I should also mention that Doidge’s friend engaged regularly in other recognized brain stimulation activities including crosswords, Sudoku, bridge, chess, poker, dominoes, and recording CDs of himself singing and learning French.

Mindfulness could also be expected to assist a person with Parkinson’s disease to acknowledge and accept their thoughts, feelings, emotions and bodily sensations and to deal with anxiety and stress in a positive way.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: See the Terms of Use and Disclaimer. The information provided on this blogspot and in this post 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 or in this post. 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

Monday, April 6, 2015


The great evolutionary biologist Richard Dawkins wrote a monumental bestseller called The God Delusion. Unfortunately, Dawkins, brilliant man that he is, appears to be a bit deluded about the nature of the God, for the One that he says doesn’t exist isn’t God anyway.

Do you want to know what the real delusion or illusion is? It’s the one we all have with ourselves. So, you think you know who you really are? Read on.

Each day we use the ‘I’ word a helluva lot. ‘I am a Democrat,’ we may say, or ‘I am a Catholic.’ So, if we change our politics or our religion, has a new ‘I’ come into existence, or has the original ‘I’ morphed into something different? ‘I am James Wong [or whatever be your actual name],’ you say. But what if you change your name? Think about it, is ‘I’ your name? It can’t be. Nor is this ‘I’ our body or even our mind, for both of those things are constantly changing. ‘I’ is simply a one-letter English word we use to refer to the person each one of us is. Only the person is ontologically real. The ‘I’ is a mental and linguistic construct. It is not ‘real.’ 

You see, just because we have a word for something does not necessarily mean that something actually exists. Most philosophers and neuroscientists now take the view that there is no permanent, unchanging ‘I’ at the center of our existence. The Buddha said this some 2,500 years ago. ‘I’ is simply whatever we attach to it. It is always something external to our point of reference. ‘I’ is identity-less. To use a Buddhist term, ‘I’ is empty. It is whatever label we attach to ‘it.’

The author in front of the Great Buddha of Kamakura,
at Kōtoku-in, in the city of Kamakura, in Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan

By now you may be saying to yourself, so what is this all about? Well, here’s where the real delusion comes in. It’s when we start identifying this illusory ‘I’ with ‘me’---‘me’ being the person that each one of us is. So, when we say, ‘I am angry,’ we are identifying the ordinarily negative and often very destructive emotion of anger with the person that we are. There may be anger ‘in’ us, but we---the person that each of us is---are never angry. Get the point? There is a real difference. You see, when we identify ‘I’ with ‘me,’ the latter being the person that we are, we always (yes, always) end up suffering.

When it comes to beliefs, positions, attitudes, views and opinions, we identify with them to a point where they actually come to define---wrongly, of course---who we are. That is why we are so relucant to let go of them, even when they hold us in bondage and prevent us from seeing and experiencing things-as-they-really-are. Listen to what the American spiritual philosopher Vernon Howard has to say about the matter:
This means that you take [the belief, position, attitude, etc] as being yourself, which it is not. But having identified with a particular attitude or belief you now fear that its loss will cause you to lose what you call yourself. Your real nature does not consist of this or that position any more than you are the coat you put on and off. Your true self resides above all mental positions. Find it.

We are always our own worst enemies, and most of our suffering is caused by ourselves. Here’s one very effective way to reduce the amount of your self-induced suffering. Stop identifying your ‘I,’ which in truth is identity-less, with your ‘me.’ Each time during the course of a day you find yourself---that is, the person that you are---identifying ‘I’ with ‘me,’ pull yourself up. Bit by bit, start changing a lifetime of self-delusion. When you hear yourself saying, ‘I am angry,’ say, ‘No, that is not the case. There is anger in me.’ Of course, that does not relieve you of the responsibility of owning that anger and managing it appropriately. Look to see what is causing your anger. It will always be some desire of some kind. Then take appropriate action.

A man once said to the Buddha, or perhaps to some Buddhist monk or teacher, ‘I want happiness.’ The man received the following advice. ‘First remove “I”. That’s ego. Then remove “want.” That’s desire. See, now you are left with only “happiness.”’





Friday, April 3, 2015


Should I ‘note’ and ‘label’?’ This question is the ‘to be or not to be’ when it comes to the practice of mindfulness meditation.

For the uninitiated, mindfulness is the sustained presence, both physical and psychological, of choiceless awareness of, and bare attention to, the action (both internal and external) of the present moment from one moment to the next. In the words of Dr Jon Kabat-Zinn, who is the father of the modern mindfulness movement, mindfulness means 'paying attention in a particular way ... on purpose ... in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.' Mindfulness meditation is a special, concentrated and more deliberate and focused form and practice of mindfulness.

Whatever arises, whether internally or externally, is impermanent. Sensations, whether in the form of thoughts, feelings, images, ideas, bodily sensations, or external physical sensations (sounds, etc), come and go. They wax and wane. They arise and vanish. Reality---what is---is that which comes and goes, waxes and wanes, arises and vanishes. Mindfulness enables, indeed empowers, us to live in the immediacy and directness of the arising and vanishing of that which is truly present in the now.

In order for there to be an immediacy and directness about our moment-to-moment experience of life, three events need to occur more-or-less simultaneously. Those three events are as follows: the occurrence of some activating sensation, our initial awareness of (that is, noticing) that sensation, and mindfulness in the form of pure, unadorned non-judgmental observation. If those three events are not simultaneously experienced, then what will be experienced will be nothing but the past. In other words, the reality of the immediate experience will subside. Indeed, it will die! Any consciousness of it will be in the form of an after-thought or a memory, as we glance back to re-experience, and (sadly, yes) evaluate, a past experience.

So, it is essential that our mindfulness should so far as is humanly possible be simultaneous with both the occurrence of sensation and our initial awareness of it. Dwell in the sensation of the moment. The idea is to watch and observe the sensation without thinking any thought connected with the sensation, that is, without judgment, evaluation, interpretation, analysis, comparison, self-criticism or condemnation.

Some teachers and practitioners of mindfulness advocate what is known as ‘noting’ and ‘labeling.’ Noting means to firstly notice---in a fraction of a second, that is---the particular sensation and then focus on (‘penetrate’) the sensation intently but gently for a second or two, unless of course the sensation happens to immediately disappear. Labeling goes further than noting and means that whenever in one’s mindfulness meditation a thought or other sensation arises you quietly, gently and ordinarily interiorly say to yourself, one or two or more times every five seconds or so for some or all of the temporal duration of the sensation, something such as ‘thinking … thinking,’ ‘feeling … feeling,’ ‘touching … touching’ or ‘sensing … sensing,’ that is, some word or phrase that describes without adornment or embellishment precisely what you are noting. Where the sensation, particularly an emotional state, is more persistent or prolonged labeling may involve saying something like ‘there is anger.’ (Note. Never say ‘I am angry’ as that only reinforces your identification with the ‘angry self’ in you as a person.)

Other teachers and practitioners are strongly against any form of noting or labeling.  My own view on this matter have fluctuated somewhat over the years. I tend to the view that, as a general ‘rule,’ noting and labeling are to be avoided. The reason is obvious. The mere act of noting and labeling requires you to intentionally formulate a thought, and then make a mental decision, to note or label. That takes time---the more so when there is labeling---and is a judgment of sorts, with the result that the reality of the immediate experience begins to subside, the reason being that the consciousness which almost invariably arises from the act of noting or labeling is one of an event in the past, that is, an event which has now gone, but which is nevertheless re-experienced as an after-thought or a memory. Even noting involves a period of intently focusing on what you have noticed for several seconds.

However, ever the pragmatist, I see a limited place for noting and labeling where the activating sensation is particularly strong, persistent or otherwise troublesome. To note and perhaps also label sensations of that kind or intensity can be comforting or reassuring and may help to ensure that one’s mental or emotional equanimity if not lost as a result of some troublesome sensation or set of sensations. This is because the acts of noting and labeling, especially the latter, can at times bring about an abrupt end to the particular sensation or set of sensations. As the mind can only focus on one thing at once, noting and labeling can cut short the object of the noting and labeling. Advocates of noting and labeling also say that such practices can be helpful when the meditator’s mind drifts during meditation by stabilizing one’s attention. Maybe. Having said all that, I do not recommend that noting and labeling be done routinely or throughout the whole course of one’s meditation.

The author in Japan in October 2012

So, note or label the sensation or set of sensations (eg ‘thinking ... thinking,’ or ‘there is anger’), but only if you feel you really must do so. Then return immediately to your post, so to speak, of unadorned observation. Let your mind penetrate whatever sensation arises---or whatever be your predominant experience---in the moment and from one moment to the next. Unadorned observation means to be ‘outside’ of whatever it is you’re observing---the outside witness, so to speak---looking at the particular object or thought or whatever the sensation may be. In time, you learn to dis-identify and stand aside from your own thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations.

I am firmly of the view that more than half of our emotional and psychological problems would die from atrophy---on the altar of unadorned observation---if we were to simply look and observe, directly and objectively, with ‘effortless effort.’ If we just did that on a regular and systematic basis our mind would be so much more peaceful and undisturbed. The ‘secret’---although it’s not really a secret---is to maintain a ‘soft’ acceptance of whatever is. You see, there is one thing more than all others which keeps alive and reinforces our false, illusory sense of ‘self,’ together with our self-centeredness and self-absorption, and that is when our moment-to-moment sensation of life is experienced not as something which is happening now, of which we are mindfully aware, but as something which is happening to ‘me,’ or which ‘I’ am suffering---that is, as something being ‘inflicted’ upon us. The problem, as I see it, with all noting and labeling is that they reinforce the illusory sense of an ‘I’ or ‘me’ doing the noting or labeling.

Don’t let reality die on you. Don’t experience it as a past event. Let each sensation arise and vanish of its own accord. Observe it closely, without analysis, judgment, evaluation or condemnation---indeed, watch it, without thinking any thought associated or connected with the sensation. Otherwise, you will instantly lose the immediacy, directness and actuality of your experience of life.