Do Our Thoughts Have the Power to Affect Reality?

June 16, 2013 at 3:43 pm | Posted in Discussion, Reflections | 1 Comment
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By Leonardo Vintini | June 12, 2013

A women performs the Falun Gong sitting meditation. Researchers found that meditation and positive thinking can produce long-term brain changes and development of positive traits. (Jeff Nenarella/The Epoch Times)

A women performs the Falun Gong sitting meditation. Researchers found that meditation and positive thinking can produce long-term brain changes and development of positive traits. (Jeff Nenarella/The Epoch Times)

“All that we are is the result of what we have thought. The mind is everything. What we think we become.” —Attributed to Gautama Siddhartha, the Buddha

According to Dr. Joe Dispenza, every time we learn or experience something new, hundreds of millions of neurons reorganize themselves.

Dr. Dispenza is known throughout the world for his innovative theory concerning the relationship between mind and matter. Perhaps best known as one of the scientists featured in the acclaimed 2004 docudrama What the Bleep Do We Know, his work has helped reveal the extraordinary properties of the mind and its ability to create synaptic connections by carefully focusing our attention.

Just imagine: In every new experience, a synaptic connection is established in our brain. With every sensation, vision, or emotion never explored before, the formation of a new relationship between two of more than 100 thousand million brain cells is inevitable.

But this phenomenon needs focused reinforcement in order to bring about real change. If the experience repeats itself in a relatively short period of time, the connection becomes stronger. If the experience doesn’t happen again for a long period of time, the connection can become weakened or lost.

Science used to believe that our brains were static and hardwired, with little chance for change. However, recent research in neuroscience has discovered that the influence of every corporal experience within our thinking organ (cold, fear, fatigue, happiness) is working to shape our brains.

If a cool breeze is capable of raising all the hairs on one’s forearm, is the human mind capable of creating the same sensation with identical results? Perhaps it is capable of much more.

“What if just by thinking, we cause our internal chemistry to be bumped out of normal range so often that the body’s self-regulation system eventually redefines these abnormal states as regular states?” asks Dispenza in his 2007 book, Evolve Your Brain, The Science of Changing Your Mind. “It’s a subtle process, but maybe we just never gave it that much attention until now.”

Dispenza holds that the brain is actually incapable of differentiating a real physical sensation from an internal experience. In this way, our gray matter could easily be tricked into reverting itself into a state of poor health when our minds are chronically focused on negative thoughts.

Dispenza illustrates his point by referring to an experiment in which subjects were asked to practice moving their ring finger against a spring-loaded device for an hour a day for four weeks. After repeatedly pulling against the spring, the fingers of these subjects became 30 percent stronger. Meanwhile, another group of subjects was asked to imagine themselves pulling against the spring but never physically touched the device. After four weeks of this exclusively mental exercise, this group experienced a 22 percent increase in finger strength.

For years, scientists have been examining the ways in which mind dominates matter. From the placebo effect (in which a person feels better after taking fake medicine) to the practitioners of Tummo (a practice from Tibetan Buddhism where individuals actually sweat while meditating at below zero temperatures), the influence of a “spiritual” portion of a human being over the undeniable physical self challenges traditional conceptions of thought, where matter is ruled by physical laws and the mind is simply a byproduct of the chemical interactions between neutrons.

Beyond Belief

Dr. Dispenza’s investigations stemmed from a critical time in his life. After being hit by a car while riding his bike, doctors insisted that Dispenza needed to have some of his vertebrae fused in order to walk again—a procedure that would likely cause him chronic pain for the rest of his life.

However, Dispenza, a chiropractor, decided to challenge science and actually change the state of his disability through the power of his mind—and it worked. After nine months of a focused therapeutic program, Dispenza was walking again. Encouraged by this success, he decided to dedicate his life to studying the connection between mind and body.

Intent on exploring the power of the mind to heal the body, the “brain doctor” has interviewed dozens of people who had experienced what doctors call “spontaneous remission.” These were individuals with serious illnesses who had decided to ignore conventional treatment, but had nevertheless fully recovered. Dispenza found that these subjects all shared an understanding that their thoughts dictated the state of their health. After they focused their attention on changing their thinking, their diseases miraculously resolved.

Addicted to Emotions

Similarly, Dispenza finds that humans actually possess an unconscious addiction to certain emotions, negative and positive. According to his research, emotions condemn a person to repetitive behavior, developing an “addiction” to the combination of specific chemical substances for each emotion that flood the brain with a certain frequency.

The body responds to these emotions with certain chemicals that in turn influence the mind to have the same emotion. In other words, it could be said that a fearful person is “addicted” to the feeling of fear. Dispenza finds that when the brain of such an individual is able to free itself from the chemical combination belonging to fear, the brain’s receptors for such substances are correspondingly opened. The same is true with depression, anger, violence, and other passions.

Nevertheless, many are skeptical of Dispenza’s findings, despite his ability to demonstrate that thoughts can modify a being’s physical conditions. Generally associated as a genre of pseudo-science, the theory of “believe your own reality” doesn’t sound scientific.

Science may not be ready to acknowledge that the physical can be changed through the power of the mind, but Dr. Dispenza assures that the process occurs, nevertheless.

“We need not wait for science to give us permission to do the uncommon or go beyond what we have been told is possible. If we do, we make science another form of religion. We should be mavericks; we should practice doing the extraordinary. When we become consistent in our abilities, we are literally creating a new science,” writes Dispenza.

Taken from: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/67071-can-the-mind-affect-reality/

The Monk Who Overslept

August 10, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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(Clearwisdom) Buddha Shakyamuni often taught his disciples to study Buddhist doctrine attentively and wholeheartedly, and that they must not slack off or be lazy. Most of his disciples followed his teachings and cultivated diligently, and therefore obtained the Dao and reached their Attainment Status while eliminating a lot of worries and suffering.

However, there was one monk who simply was not diligent. Whenever others practiced meditation, he would just go to sleep. His fellow disciples tried to reason with him, but he would not change.

The monk’s greatest weakness was oversleeping. Everyday he would to go sleep after he ate a meal. When he slept, he kept his door closed tightly and slept alone in his room. No one could wake him up, no matter how hard they tried.

One day at noon, after begging for food on the street, the monk came back carrying his alms bowel. He went straight to his room and fell asleep. The snoring from his room could be heard till the next morning.

The next morning, it was time for Shakyamuni to teach the Buddha Fa to the public. Every disciple was present, except the monk who liked to sleep. Shakyamuni asked, “Why doesn’t the disciple who likes to sleep come?”

A disciple quickly stood up and replied, “Buddha, he has been sleeping since noon yesterday. We could not wake him no matter what we tried.”

Shakyamuni remembered that the monk only had seven days to live. If he died while sleeping all the time, his death would bring him unhappiness. Shakyamuni had great pity for the monk. He instructed his disciples to recite a scripture and took Ananda with him to see the monk in his room.

They could hear the thunderous snoring before they reached the monk’s room. They opened the door only to hear even louder snoring. The monk was still in bed in a deep sleep.

Ananda called the monk’s name a few times, but the monk did not respond and continued sleeping. Then, Shakyamuni walked to his bed and gently shook him. The monk immediately woke up.

Upon seeing Shakyamuni standing before him and gazing at him with compassion, the monk immediately got up and bowed to Shakyamuni, saying, “Revered Buddha, please forgive me for being disrespectful.”

Shakyamuni said to him, “You only have seven days to live. I cannot bear to see you die while sleeping so much and failing to reach an upright Attainment Status. I’m here to wake you up.”

The monk was shocked. It had never occurred to him that he might only have seven days to live. He was frightened and did not know what to do.

Shakyamuni comforted him and said, “It is predestined for you. Several lifetimes ago when you were a monk, you indulged in food and sleep and never pondered the meaning of the Fa. You did not follow the Buddhist’s precepts. You did not sow any blessings or virtue, therefore you reincarnated as a rice worm for 50,000 years. Then, you reincarnated as a snail, a mussel, and a moth for 50,000 years each.

“In your previous lives you liked to live in dark places without light, and you treasured your body and life very much. What’s more unusual is that all four different beings were fond of sleeping and could sleep for over 100 years once they fell asleep. You did not try at all to be diligent. After 200,000 years you were finally able to repay the sin you had committed. Then, you reincarnated as a human and became a monk.

“Now that you have become a monk you should cultivate and study diligently to make up for what you previously lost. I did not expect that you would still be so attached to food and sleep like you were 200,000 years ago. Why do you always feel like you do not get enough sleep? Don’t forget the consequences you suffered 200,000 years ago.”

Shakyamuni stopped talking. The monk blushed from shame. He quickly repented to Shakyamuni. When he criticized himself deeply and repented, all his distracted thoughts disappeared. He was able to attain the status of Arhat by the end of his life.

There are only 24 hours in a day. People usually say that time passes by in the blink of an eye. The average person sleeps eight hours a day. People who oversleep may end up spending most of their time in sleep and dreams and therefore accomplish very few major tasks in a lifetime. Several decades pass by quickly in the human world. You’ll indeed regret it if you do not firmly seize the opportunity. Sometimes you feel like life is long, but you don’t know when death will take you. By that time, you will not have done a good job completing the tasks you were supposed to do and the missions you were supposed to fulfill. Even worse, you may not have made the effort to do those things at all. Nothing will help, no matter how regretful you feel. Do you really want to become a sleep worm in your next life?

The monk who overslept finally realized that he needed to seize the time he had left and not be sleepy and drowsy all the time. A cultivator stresses the importance of striving forward diligently in Buddha cultivation. How can a sleepy and drowsy person become as diligent as a mighty lion? A cultivator should seize every minute, sleep less, and cultivate more to succeed in cultivation.

An Ancient Cultivation Story: Seeing the Buddha

January 30, 2012 at 9:00 am | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today | Leave a comment
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(Clearwisdom.net) Once upon a time, there were 500 blind people in Vaishali, the old capital city of the Licchavi. As they could not see anything, they couldn’t perform any type of job. They survived by begging for food, and other people discriminated against them terribly.

Then Prince Siddartha attained Buddhahood. These 500 blind people heard the great news that Buddha was in the human world, and they could no longer stay calm, because they knew that everyone who was able to see the Buddha would have all their illnesses and sufferings eliminated, and all tribulations and vexations resolved. They got together and discussed this matter. They said, “How badly do we need to see the Buddha?! As long as we get to see Buddha, we will be able to see the world!”

One person who was usually the head of the group said, “Right! We should go see the Buddha instead of waiting here for Buddha to come to see us. Don’t you agree?”

Others said helplessly, “How do we get to him? We can’t even see the roads!”

The head of the group replied, “If we truly want to go see the Buddha, we must find someone who can see to lead us. Let’s do it this way. We will try our best to beg for money and each collect one gold coin. By the time we have collected 500 gold coins, we can hire someone to lead us to see the Buddha.”

Hence these blind people went to different places to beg for money. After quite some time and numerous sufferings, they were able to collect 500 gold coins, and they hired someone to be their guide.

The guide took the lead, and the blind persons lined up, with each person holding onto the clothes of the one just in front. They formed a long, zigzag line that looked very impressive.

Then they headed for Sravasti, where the Buddha resided. During the journey, they endured all kinds of arduous hardships, but they felt their hearts were filled with more and more brightness, and the journey became less and less painful. However, as they were approaching Magadha, they had to wade across a swamp in the mountains. The guide noticed that the journey ahead would be very difficult and found an excuse to leave the blind people on their own.

They waited and waited, but the guide never came back as he had promised. They were very scared and said to each other, “All our efforts have ended up in vain. That scoundrel took our money and left us. What shall we do?”

Everyone was frightened out of their wits, but the head person heard the sound of water ahead. He knew that must be the swamp they needed to wade across, so he asked everyone to walk in that direction holding hands. As they were walking forward by feeling around, someone shouted at them with anger, “You beasts, are you blind? You trampled on all the new crops I planted, and they are all dead!”

“Alas! We are really sorry about that. We are all blind. If we were able to see, we would not have made such a mistake. We beg you, kindhearted sir, to help us with great compassion and show us the road to Sravasti! A swindler has taken our money, so we will only be able to compensate you for your loss later. We will keep our promise!”

The landowner thought that these blind people were indeed very pitiful. He sighed and said to them, “Forget about my loss! Come with me. I will find someone to take you to Sravasti.”

The blind people were overjoyed and could not thank him enough. “Fortunately, we have met you, an extremely kind person!”

The landowner found someone to lead them to Sravasti. When they arrived, they were very happy. Unfortunately, the abbot in the temple told them, “You have arrived too late. Buddha has gone to Magadha.”

The blind people were very disappointed but found their way back to Magadha. They suffered a lot on their way, but they arrived at Magadha only to find that Buddha had already gone back to Sravasti.

Although they were exhausted, they firmly believed they would eventually be able to see the Buddha, so they once again headed for Sravasti. They were determined that they would not stop until they saw the Buddha. Sadly, they were not able to see the Buddha at Sravasti again.

“Buddha went to Magadha again.” The abbot told them with sympathy. The blind people had to turn back to Magadha for a second time.

After they had traveled back and forth between the two cities seven times, the Buddha saw that their hearts for benevolence had reached the standard, so he waited for them at his residence in Sravasti.

Buddha’s compassionate light shone forth and the blind people felt intense light in front of their eyes. Finally, they were able to see the Buddha they had longed for.

The 500 blind people all knelt down to worship the Buddha and express their thankfulness. “Buddha, you offer salvation to all those who are in the midst of suffering. Please give us the eyesight to see the light, so that we are able to see you, the Buddha who shines like the heavenly light!”

Seeing that they were so sincere, Buddha said to them, “You are so very pious, and you made a long and arduous journey with firm determination. I will grant you eyesight to see the brightness.” The 500 blind people immediately were able to see. They knelt on the ground and gratefully said, “Thank you, Buddha, for your compassion! Thank you, Buddha, for your boundless virtue! Please accept us as Buddhist disciples. We want to follow you and worship you for numerous life cycles to come!”

Buddha said, “All right, my disciples!”

They became Buddha’s disciples and they were very diligent in their cultivation. In the end, they all attained the status of Arhat.

Those blind people used to live in complete darkness, but their hearts were filled with immense brightness. Their yearning for the Buddha’s Law shone like gold. During their journey to look for the Buddha, they did not waver in their firm belief in the Buddha’s Law, no matter how much tribulation and difficulty they encountered.

Some people claim, “I don’t believe in cultivation. Only after I see it will I believe in it.” These people will never be able to see the Truth, because if their hearts can’t see the Truth in the first place, what is the use of having eyes?

Some people don’t understand the cultivators who believe in the Buddha’s Law. They think cultivators are foolish, because the cultivators can’t see the material benefits right in front of their eyes. That is correct. In that respect, a cultivator really behaves like a blind person who fails to see the beautiful scenes before his eyes.

Some people think cultivation is very mysterious and that it is not something for the average person. In actuality, cultivation is not something too mystical. You only need to have a pure heart to succeed in cultivation.

Posting date: 2/5/2010
Category: Traditional Culture
Chinese version available at http://minghui.ca/mh/articles/2009/11/16/212615.html

Legend from China’s Tang Dynasty Tells of a Woman Cast into Hell for Slandering Buddha Shakyamuni

December 19, 2011 at 9:00 am | Posted in Asia, Good Advice, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Relevance to Today, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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By Shijian

(Clearwisdom.net) Monk Xuan Zang lived during the time of the Tang Dynasty, and he was written about in “Great Tang Records of the Western Regions”.

He journeyed to India to obtain the Buddha scriptures and on the way, he found that three large, deep holes outside the monastery at Jetavanna Grove. The holes were so deep that no one could see the bottom. In the pouring rain, all the other ditches and ponds were filled with water, but no water could be seen in these deep holes at all. He asked the local people about the holes and learned of the legend of three evil people who fell alive into the Avici (the lowest level of hell spoken about in Buddhism) because they slandered the Buddha.

A Brahman woman named Cinca was one of these evil people. While Shakyamuni was introducing people to the Fa principle of “precept, samadhi, wisdom” that he enlightened to, more and more people came to listen to his lectures because they recognized that what he was teaching is good. On the other hand, although Brahmanism still had a very large influence in India at the moment, fewer and fewer people wanted to believe in it because it had already completely deteriorated. When the Brahman woman saw that masses of people were listening to Shakyamuni’s Fa lectures sincerely and respectfully, instead of being kind and respectful to the Buddha, she became jealous and acted on it. She said to herself, “I want to insult Shakyamuni today and ruin his good reputation in order for Brahmanism to be the only one that is respected!”

She strapped a large wooden bowl under her clothing and went to monastery at Jetavanna Grove. She claimed loudly among the masses of people there, “The person who is lecturing had an affair with me! The baby in my belly is Shakyamuni’s child!” Puzzled by the desperate slander, people there who lacked righteous belief had their minds moved: some of them whispered to each other; some of them shook their heads and sighed; some of them talked in the Brahman woman’s way, and some got up and left. However, the people with firm righteous belief knew that she was slandering Shakyamuni; they kept listening to Shakyamuni’s lectures.

To clear the doubts that people were getting toward this righteous Fa, a heavenly divine being changed its shape into a white mouse. The mouse chewed on the rope that held the wooden bowl to the Brahman woman’s body. The rope suddenly broke with a loud snap, astounding those around her. The bowl fell away from her body, and the truth manifested in front of the people. All the people suddenly realized what had happened. A person picked up the bowl, showed it to the Brahman woman, and asked her in laughter, “Is this your child?”

Suddenly the ground cracked open, and the Brahman woman fell into the opening. She fell down into the lowest levels of hell, into the Avici. It is said that in the Avici, the suffering of repaying Karmic debts never ends, and the evil person is being destroyed with no chance of every being born again.

In general, people of many cultures around the world believe that one who commits crimes is cast into hell after death. However, for an evil person who defames and slanders Buddha, because so much Karma created, as he opens his mouth to slander or raises his arm to hit the Buddha, his spirit is immediately cast down to hell, the Avici hell.

Although it may not show in this world at the moment, some with supernatural powers can see the dreadful end that such a person receives. In this period of history when morality has so greatly deteriorated, Gods and Buddhas come to this world to save people. In a period when Gods and Buddhas introduce a righteous way to the world, the deteriorated forces also come to interfere and slander. However, heavenly law is that such evil cannot defeat the righteous. Good will always overcome evil in the end. For attempting to damage a righteous way or persecuting good people, one can only end up bearing the consequences of his evil acts.

Posting date: 3/29/2010
Category: Traditional Culture
Chinese version available at http://minghui.ca/mh/articles/2010/3/16/219841.html

To Value Virtue Over Wealth

August 17, 2011 at 6:45 pm | Posted in Asia, Children's Stories, Culture, Discussion, Life Lessons, Moments from History, Reflections, Stories from China | Leave a comment
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By Eureka Yang

The Epoch Times

 

A trip to the temple to burn incense on New Year’s Day is still a tradition in China. But people’s prayers have changed. Rather than paying respect to the Buddha, people today ask for things, mostly to eliminate hardships and make a fortune. Ancient Chinese traditions taught people to value virtue over wealth. A person who would seek no monetary compensation when doing a good deed was said to receive virtue and attain rewards from an otherworldly realm.

A collection of poems and discourses by Geng Creek compiled during the Song dynasty, 960–1279 AD, tells one such story.

A young man by the last name Yang, was born into a poor family. He was said to have been a diligent student and also cared for and respected his parents. Each time he had a little extra food or something of a little value, he would give it to his parents instead of keeping it for himself.

One year, on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, a touring Taoist came to visit Yang. The visitor called himself Taoist Hui. Hui and Yang got along well, and Hui ended up staying at Yang’s home for quite some time.

When it came time for Hui to leave, he took a pill from his medicine pouch and put it on a stone. The stone instantly turned into gold. Then he handed the gold nugget to Yang with the words: “This is my appreciation for your hospitality, it’s for the improvement of your living conditions.”

But Yang declined. He realized that the Taoist must be a deity, and said: “I prefer not to have gold. However, if you will grant me a wish, divine Taoist Hui, I’d like a poem from you on the wall to make my humble home shine.”

Taoist Hui took the brush pen from Yang, dipped it in red pigment, and wrote this poem on the wall:

Yang, a true man of honor and dignity,
your filial piety has moved the vast universe.
The Great Lord saw your steadfastness during hardship
and sent me here on the seventh day of the seventh month.
I have turned a stone into gold
to help you fulfill your filial duties.
But you insisted on not taking the gift,
so I cannot force it on you against your will.
While I cannot stay any longer in this world,
it is my sincere wish that you keep up your lofty goal.
In a Year of the Rat you will ascend above the clouds
as easily as flipping your palm.

Yang did not die in his humble home. Years later he vanished. No one in the neighborhood knew his whereabouts. It appears a predestined relationship with the Taoist Hui led him to a transcending path, or according to a saying in Chinese folklore, he “toured the sky above the clouds as arranged.”

Read the original Chinese article.

 

Source of article: The Epoch Times

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