The world as it is… Also.

Sun-on-VN

After a little more than a month in India, I’m back in Hoi An, Vietnam. As always when I come back from this incredible country, I have learn a lot about how we can manage our psychological and spiritual self, as we are confronted with passionate and emotional people in a society evolving around such a complex cultural background.

VN-Ganga

My first stop was in Varanasi, the city of Shiva, to meet with old friends for Holly, the day of colours, and get rid of old clothes as we all spread red, green, and blue powders at each other like children!

VN-ghat-UP

Meditate along the stone ghats of one of the oldest city in the world is always something special, as we confront ourselves with the ever changing energy of the Ganga. A place to listen and to think, to understand who you are and where you are going next, in the middle of the crowd or alone in a temple.

None-VN-ghat

A melting pot of cultures and beliefs, hard core merchants, artists and religious people, backpackers and seekers of all genres that involve to be ready for self questioning.

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His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama (left) and His Holiness the 17th Karmapa.

The second stop was for Dharamsala, the city at the feet of Himalaya where the Tibetans in exile found refuge – thanks to the only government in the world witch had the guts to face China – around their spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama. Dharamsala is always a wonderful opportunity to go deeper in the Buddhist world and to meditate in the face of the greatest mountains on earth.

Dharamsala

What an amazing vu, with its everlasting snow at the top and the feeling to be lighter, closer to the sky! Mountains than most of the nuns, monks and civilians of all ages had to cross in a dangerous quest for freedom. The medias and the political world have forgotten Tibet for a long time now, in spite of the terrible repression and destructions still happening on “the roof of the world”. A situation so dramatic that two new persons since the beginning of 2016 add their names to the 147 humans that already put themselves on fire in a hopeless tentative to attract attention of the medias on the Chinese exactions in Tibet. Self-immolations that traduce more than any thing else the profound despair of a population of farmers, nomads, nuns and monks that just wants to be able to practice the teaching of the Buddha peacefully, like they did for centuries.
Punsok-AG

This teaching is so deeply engrave in their way of life that the Tibetans people are still praying right now for the karma of the Chinese people that imprison, torture and even murder them. A brave and beautiful reaction that shows how lucky we are to be able to learn and practice the mind training the Buddha formalise for the world to feel better, free of our thinking and actions!
Dharamsala-garden

We cannot change the world alone, but we can change the way we look at it. Every single moment of our lives is a good moment to start to better ourselves! Some of us still think they have to behave a certain way, to follow the line traced for us by some people who believe they know better than we do, but the truce is that freedom is in our heads. Freedom is a conscious decision to find the way that suite us the best, to open ourselves to others and to try to see the good hidden in front of us in every situations. We can face the world enslave by our emotions and cultural background, or we can decide to see it thru the lance of rationality and consciousness. We can learn compassion, find love and refuse to let go to frustration and hatred in our everyday life by taking control of our thoughts, actions and speech. This is not an easy thing to do, but with meditation and mindfulness we can achieve a little more everyday and take the benefits of a mind at peace right now! May we all find peace and love in our lives!

Impermanence: something to remember…

Among the things that disturbed us the most there is one that cannot be ignore, even if our western societies often tried unconsciously to avoid it by any means: impermanence!

Starting with the first impermanence of all: we are all sentence to death from the day we are born by our mortal condition. But as we willingly try to push Death away by hiding it from us as far as possible, we sometime come to loose conscience of the fact that every single thing in our lives is impermanent. For most of us, in the early years of our lives, Death is so abstract, so far from our reality, that our psychology choose naturally to concentrate on living and finding some ways to enjoy it, avoiding that, ultimately, we are going to loose the battle against time.

At last, somehow, there is always a moment in our life when it’s realness is coming back to us as we are getting old and the persons we know, love or hate are dying around us. Confronted by this sudden reappearance, as an inevitable limit to our will, there is several ways to approach this perturbing fact. The one that consist to ignore supremely death, and what could lie behind, is more and more dramatically common in our western societies in general, and in particular also, as we push away a little bit more every day the signs and the traces of our old age and our last moments.

Some decide to acknowledge this final limit to better fight it with everything they have, facing it with courage – and hopefully humour – hopping for the best, science, medicine, unconsciously believing that we could push away this pervasive reality of our life nearly indefinitely, but then again, as we are getting old, there is no guaranty that we will not suffer from the fear of it, as we are facing it full of uncertainty…

The belief that “there is nothing behind” encourage certain to profit even more of this life in a creative way, while trying to late a trace behind to say “I was there…” but some others take this belief as an excuse to do whatever they want without thinking about the consequences of their acts “because, after all, why worry about something that will happen long after our death?”… Certain could consider this as a way of life, but as the changes induced by this inconsequent behaviours impact more and more rapidly our planet and the life of everybody, we meet the limits of this line of thinking that could change the future of our species and washed out our cultures from the surface of the Earth sooner than we think.

Of course, we can also prepare to death with all the power of our mind and faith, and touch the spirit that lies behind the illusion we are projecting on the real all the time. Some of us believe in an after death existence in a religious, spiritual or philosophic point of view. With or without dogma, a fundamentalist and intangible tentative to affirm belief that I personally consider dangerous, following the path of a religion is quite different if you are Christian, Muslim, Jewish, Hindu or Buddhist… But if you look beyond the changes made along the way to the message of their funders by the religious hierarches in seek of power, you will find the possibility of a spirituality that transcend the culture it raise from to achieve a better balance in this life and find inner peace before we go… A mind training based on ethics, spiritual technics and disciplines often revealed by these great initiates to help us get along with ourselves and each other and rise above the ups and downs of our stressful lives to connect with the Devine.

Rationally, the fact that we are so attached to this life should justify, in one way or another, a responsible behaviour toward others and ourselves. After all, if we think that there is nothing after this life, we should consider that our only way to survive death is in the memories of the people we met and love, our work of arts, or by the things we have done for the community or the next generation. But as our societies makes us more individualist and egoist we often seems to forget this common sense to concentrate on our puny pleasures because, again, we will not be there to see what is happening after… Impermanence as the worst excuse!

Impermanence, it is a word that not refers only to death of course. It is also the worry to loose someone that we love or something that is dear to us. It is suffering because change is sometime painful, because we regret to have or not to have done or lived something when we could have chosen otherwise, because we are getting old or being sacked from a job, because we try to get a grip on something that cannot last, a feeling, a sensation, a situation, because we cry on a broken relationship, because nothing last…

But why should we consider the precedent moment – or the next – more important than the one we are living right now? Why should we invest so much time in thinking about what happened or what we could loose if we don’t try to make the best of what is happening now?

One of the most amazing moments when you are in meditation is experiencing consciously the present “as it is”. Being right there, right now, completely aware of what is going on outside and inside of us, as we become one with the moment. It is a very special sensation as we discover a new perception of Time. Being in the moment gives us a chance to exist completely and find that we can just be a part of it naturally, because we don’t escape into our souvenirs or project ourselves into the future. It is actually a gain of time as we make the best of it and discover so many things of beauty and sources of inspiration in all the little things surrounding us that we usually neglect.

Being into the present doesn’t mean that we can’t remember the good moments or plan the future or that there is no time for post analysis, introspection or learning something new. It means that when we do that, we are really into it. But when we are going into the world, when we are with someone or confronted to a situation we are not thinking about something else, because, here again, nothing last and like the song says “you don’t know what you’ve lost until it’s gone!”. So lets not waste our time at loosing the opportunity to live the present. Don’t let the moment go before we lived something inside of it, because you never know if this opportunity will come back. Training our mind to be there, now, being mindful of the others and the circumstances around us, is also the best way to prepare to the unknown, as we notice details and attitudes that we generally do not see or feel. Those informations help us to react promptly and appropriately to the unexpected. It’s to understand that life is energy in motion and that there is beauty everywhere, if we learn to take the time to look at it. Discovering the infinite moment of the now is definitely something… to remember!

Meditation at the Nomad Studio Hoi An

 
1936155_152640448437661_9078327597664308552_n I’m please to announce my participation to the creation of a place dedicated to yoga and meditation in Hoi An ! The Nomad Yoga Hoi An is a nice studio near the old town, where you will be able to meet me for meditation classes, but also learn Yoga from a great teacher coming directly from Rishikesh, India, one of the place where it was born, more than 4000 years ago.

The opening ceremony will occur on the 6 of January, at 15:30. A good opportunity to meet and discuss about all the practices that can make our life better everyday. I hope to see you then !

 

Nomad Yoga Hoi An
6 Le Hong Phong
Hoi An, Quang Nam-Da Nang,
Vietnam

If you are unable to come then, don’t hesitate to look at the schedule, where I’m referred as Antoine, or call me directly so we can arrange a meeting there during the day.
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Une nouvelle année pour se retrouver !

Poisson-nvellean

Après une année 2015 marquée par de nombreux évènements dramatiques, la guerre, le terrorisme et les catastrophes naturelles, je sens beaucoup de gens inquiets au moment d’aborder 2016. Atterrés par le comportement de nos élites, oppressés par une société qui ne fait pas de cadeaux, si ce n’est à une certaine oligarchie qui a souvent perdu tout contact avec la réalité, nous avons parfois l’impression d’être impuissant face aux enjeux qui s’avancent.

Pourtant, chaque jour qui passe est l’occasion pour chacun de se remettre en question et de traduire sa volonté de changement dans notre quotidien. L’humanité a prouvé être capable du meilleur comme du pire et nous n’avons pas le droit de baisser les bras au moment ou nous avons besoin d’être au mieux ! La génération qui sera confronté aux bouleversements promis par le réchauffement climatique est déjà là et attend de voir le monde que nous allons leur léguer.

Il ne s’agit pas de paniquer ou de tomber dans la morosité, mais au contraire de réagir avec enthousiasme et courage, parce que les belles histoires, les initiatives altruistes et la volonté d’aller vers l’autre existent tout autour de nous ! Au quatre coins du monde je rencontre des hommes et des femmes qui sont prêts à partager et veulent exister simplement, en accords avec leur éthique, loin du tumulte des places de marché et des fortunes colossales des hommes de la finance. Partout autour de nous, les lignes bougent et nombreux sont celles et ceux qui n’attendent que des leaders responsables et courageux pour faire avancer l’humanité sur un chemin différent, plus responsable et juste.

Si nous voulons aller plus loin et vivre en paix et en équilibre sur cette planète, nous devons changer de mentalité, nous remettre en question et avancer ensemble, plutôt que de nous désunir devant les défis qui nous sont proposés. Il est grand temps de redonner sa chance à l’amour et à la compassion, de dépasser les malentendus et de ce recentrer sur l’essentiel.

Comme le Dali Lama le dit si bien dans son livre Sagesse ancienne, monde moderne : Éthique pour le nouveau millénaire : « La révolution spirituelle que je préconise n’est pas une révolution religieuse. Elle n’a rien à voir, non plus, avec un style de vie qui, en quelque sorte, serait d’un autre monde, et moins encore avec quoi que ce soit de magique ou de mystérieux. Il s’agit plutôt d’une réorientation radicale, loin de nos préoccupations égoïstes habituelles, au profit de la communauté qui est la nôtre, d’une conduite qui prenne en compte, en même temps que les nôtres, les intérêts d’autrui. »

Il y a quelque chose de beau et de lumineux à souhaiter le bonheur de tous ! Il y a une force incroyable et un sens du partage inné en l’homme. Un besoin et une envie d’exister ensemble qui poussent à dépasser notre individualisme pour construire une société plus équilibrée, dans laquelle chacun peut avancer sereinement vers l’avenir sans craindre pour sa vie ou sa liberté. Ouvrons les yeux sur nous, sur les motivations profondes qui nous portent et nous ouvrirons les yeux sur les autres en même temps, en découvrant que nous sommes tous si proches les uns des autres, une fois débarrassé des aprioris culturels et des dogmes qui nous empêchent de nous voir tels que nous sommes.

Alors redressons nous ! Recommençons à réfléchir, à comprendre, à avancer ensemble et faisons le ménage des mauvaises habitudes qui nous collent aux semelles ! Ouvrons nos cœurs à une révolution pacifique et spirituelle ! Débarrassons-nous des parasites qui tournent le système à leur unique avantage et profitons des années qui viennent pour nous prouver que nous vallons mieux qu’une planète sanglante et polluée qui laisse un septième de l’humanité pauvre et affamée à nos portes…

Heureuse année 2016 à toutes et à tous !

Altruism and compassion !

This conversation of Richard Gere, well-known actor and Buddhist activist, with Matthieu Ricard, a compatriot of mine, molecular biologist that decided to quite everything to become a Buddhist monk in the Himalayas, will hopefully give you the need to reed his last book: “Plaidoyer pour l’altruism” translated simply into “Altruism” in English. A master peace that will open your eyes on the infinite potentiality of compassion and altruism, and how those values can make all the difference we need to feel better in our live and change the world for the better good in the years to come. No small talk, just facts !

 

Nearly everywhere around the world, a lot of people still think that the only way to go beyond survival in this harsh world is to be selfish, even egoist, concentrate on their own interest and well-being. Because this world is not just, and because someone whose interest is turn toward others seems sometime defenceless or maladjusted on the eyes of a competitive society, some people even think that compassion and altruism can be potentially dangerous.

The fact is that our modern societies are based on self-interest and often reward those who are ready to take advantage of anything, even if it means hurting someone in the process, to get to there goal.

But beyond those first impressions, if we look closer, we sees that altruism and compassion are the only way to go if we want to make this planet a better world and preserve the heritage of our children. By other words: compassion is far more rational than systematic competitiveness or indifference if we want to be happier as a person and as a society.

When we are focusing only on ourselves, everything can hurt us, every remark, every little things that seems to attack our interest or our ego, every word or action that diminish or threaten the value we are according to ourselves or to our possessions seems like a threat to our well-being. Because we don’t look around as being self-centred we don’t value our chance to be alive and well to the point we sometime nourish the feeling that we are the victims of circumstances. This weakness conducts us to act out of egoism, anger or stress, worried that we could loose something precious to us in the process. No peace, no joy,  just suffering.

On the opposite, being open to others, trying to understand their motivation, listen to what is beyond their words and actions, considering there happiness as important to us as our own, as we are so similar in our suffering and our desire to be happy, helping someone that need a hand or even saving someone of a dangerous situation, without thinking of any benefits in return, give us a profound feeling of accomplishment, peace and happiness. More than that : compassion help to recreate the bonds between humans and make us more concern about all the living creatures of this planet, beginning by those we have in our plate

Even at a social level, and contrary to what a lot of psychologists and philosopher’s tried to make us believe in the last century, 30 years of patient studies and experimentation prove with no doubt that human nature is a cooperative one and understand compassion better than egoism. We all know it beyond our ego: we are stronger together. We can accomplish more, better, quicker, if we cooperate and see our life as an opportunity to find the balance that give us access to our potentiality together. We can live happier if we understand and respect each other, if we help when we can and not because we want something in return, if we look inside of us to understand what we really are with no fear or delusion to develop compassion for ourselves and others.

Meditation, maybe not what you think!

When I talk around me with people, I can see that some of them have a lot of preconception about meditation. Some of them think that meditation is a boring thing, some others that it is to be sited in a temple, saying “Om”, burning incense and saying mantras… This is of course a form of meditation – and can be a very powerful one if you know what you are doing, but meditation is much more than that. Much, much more!

Ultimately, the meditation is a skilful means to really bring about, basically, mindfulness. Because the mind is distracted – and distraction is the root core of all our problems – with mindfulness we bring our mind home to create even more mindfulness and awareness. We slowly uncloak or peel away all the barriers and obstructions to slowly find and reveal our true heart, our fundamental nature as well as compassion and wisdom, to ultimately attain the realisation of the nature of the spirit, to the enlightenment. In the Mahāmudrā, the highest Tibetan meditation teachings tradition, when we talk about meditation in that respects it is often to mean binding to the recognition of our true nature.

From the yogi experience point of view, the people from the west are often seen as “practical seekers”. They are seeking for practical means, practical things, but sometime trying to be practical is not practical at all! As we are trying to be practical, we search answer to the fundamental questions like: How can we relate?, how can we be there? … It’s goal oriented, but sometime we are really out there! And sometime we miss it, because the answer we seek is not out there, but actually here, inside of us. We must find it and realise it personally to disarm our own aggressiveness, our negativity, and there is a way to do it.

So we have to understand that, contrary to what our ego makes us think, our personality is not one continuous flow, but more a suite of episodes influenced by our mood, our emotions, but also our personal cultural background, the environment and so on… On one moment we can be so many people: sometime we can be aggressive, even negative, we can be that, and at the same moment a wonderful person, because we have both the light and the shadow inside us.

Escalier-varanasi

Stairs at Varanasi, India.

The point to the spiritual path is really to teach you what to adopt and what to abandon. Abandon the negative aspect and adopt the more positive and wholesome aspects of yourself, and there is a way to do it.

It’s a choice in fact. We have to be educated, aware, and beware, because sometime we don’t know how to make a choice, because we don’t have the wisdom to discerne. We canot discern because we don’t have the wisdom to look beyond the projections, the illusions of our mind, to find the pure spirit that exist behind them. That insight, that wisdom, we have to cultivate by the teaching in ourselves so we can discerne for ourselves, not waiting for someone to tell us what to do or not to do, but decide for ourselves, in consciousness.

So to begin very simply, one of the most important points for all of us is to become real, to become authentic, genuine, so the all thing is to strip away all that is not natural. A natural striptease! Freed away, striped away, we become free of ourselves. There is so much stories, so much cinema in our mind, so much… That is why there is no peace, so much pressure and also so much speed. So we need to kind of slow down. Slow down is not meaning becoming extremely slow! When we are very mindful, conscientious, we can be very efficient by accomplishing things in a very short span of time. Because sometime our live is so filled with activity, but what does it bring to you ultimately? We are engage in a lot of activities, but we do a lot of things without meanings.

What have I accomplished? Sometime we have to question that. Sometime we just get carried away. We need to simplify. Facing death help us sort out the paradise. Because we realise we could die any day. When you come to face death you come to face life, face yourselves and sort out the paradise. In one hand we can be so many things, and busy, and confused, but next moment if you know how to kind of stop, take a break or come home, just quietly, very simply. It’s an incredible thing to be able to settle, purified and freed… Sometime it is as simple as that. Just to sit and to be with yourself. Just to be. Things actually dissolve, melt away, ordinary mind seemed to dissolve and there is a sens of transcendance, a sens of peace. Something that can change your way with yourself and the other by getting to the next level of consciousness, not like an effort, but more like a natural behaviour that unit us back to the world.

 

Freely inspired by the words of Sogyal Rinpoché