If the ego had an engine, its fuel would be fear. Trepidation isn’t all bad, but it certainly has its time and place. Fear can render us quivering and useless, or motivate us toward change. In the study of Zen, we learn how to not only overcome our fears, but to become fearless. This is called the Lion’s Roar of Zazen.

The whole secret of existence is to have no fear. Never fear what will become of you, depend on no one. Only the moment you reject all help are you freed.

~ Buddha

The lion is the living embodiment of self-possessed power. This animal has dominion over all he sees as well as the courage, speed, and might to attain all he desires. His deportment is regal and calm, though, never bullying and neither shrinking. The metaphor of the lion is used to describe how one overcomes fear in the Majjhima Nikaya, a Collection of Middle Length Discourses on Buddha’s teachings, and they are immaculate at describing the fears most of us face. Many Zen teachers describe how to become regal and fearless in their discourses as well.

Fear of the Loss of Life

Zen master, D.T. Suzuki says that fear of the loss of body is usually what we must overcome first. Following this, an internal consciousness becomes aware that we are threatening the slated, well-accepted notion of being merely corporeal, and we ‘think’ we are frightened. Suzuki says we needn’t look any further than the bodily sensations that arise when we simply ponder fearfulness. An empty feeling in the lower abdomen ensues, there is an immobility at the base of the tongue, and our breathing becomes restricted. If we were to remove these sensations, though, fear becomes a meaningless thing.

Suzuki attests that according to Zazen, we aim to keep a lower abdomen full of power, the breathing always uniform, the heart beat tranquil, and the muscles of the whole body resilient so that if emotions like fear arise, they can easily be encountered and dismissed.

The cave you fear to enter holds the treasures you seek.

~ Joseph Campbell

Fear of the Loss of ‘Self’

Some fear is understandable, even – such as when we realize we must face a spiritual death in order to progress on our path. Although we may long to richer higher levels of consciousness, we aren’t always so keen to let go of the habits and crutches that have propped up our current level of awareness. As the Sufi poet Rumi once said, “No one will find his way to the Court of Magnificence until he is annihilated.”

Other types of fear make us meek and fallible. Our consciousness easily wavers, and we cannot attain Mu, or a state of Zen, let alone get on with our daily activities.  It is only by cultivating the 4 Zen States of Mind that we can ‘fill our abdomens’ with power and roar like a lion with fearlessness.

4 Zen States of Mind

  1. Shoshin or “Beginner’s Mind” (初心) is the first stage in cultivating fearlessness. Think of a time when you were excited and eager to start a new endeavor. There might have been unknowns, but you were brimming with glee over trying something new. This is the type of mind we want to cultivate with all aspects of life. Instead of begin nervous or fearful, we can aim to be eager and open, accepting all that comes our way. In order to approach life from the beginner’s mind we need to let of preconceived notions, and be optimistic. If you’ve been able to have this feeling with one thing you’ve done in life, you can translate that feeling to other areas also.
  2. Fudoushin (不動心) means you have an “Immovable Mind.” It doesn’t mean you are stubborn, but fudoushin does translate to being determined in the face of obstacles. Does a lion run away from present danger? Hardly. The animal doesn’t get angry or judgmental about obstacles either. He is peaceful like the eye of the storm until he is upon his prey. If you can develop fudoushin when you are under stress, you will be unstoppable in life.
  3. Mushin (無心) or “Without Mind.” This is a similar philosophy to the Chinese Taoist idea of wei wuwei. When we are ‘in the zone’ working on a great masterpiece or doing something we love, we’ve likely already experienced the state of mushin. When we are empty of thoughts, yet moving and acting purely in the present moment, without fear, anger, ego, or other emotion, we are a force to be reckoned with. By developing equanimity and learning how to focus to the point of no-thought, we can cultivate mushin.
  4. The last of the four states of Zen Mind is called Zanshin (残心) which literally translates to “Remaining Mind.” This state of mind contains two precise elements. It means you are both relaxed and keenly aware of your surroundings. This is the state that martial artists aim to be in so that they can react at any moment to anything that comes their way. By maintaining relaxed alertness fear cannot sway you, even in the face of a frightening opponent.

Have no fear of perfection – you’ll never reach it.

~ Salvador Dali

Fear of Suffering

The Buddha taught that self-grasping and ignorance are the root of all remaining fears. Healthy fears aside, our tendency to try to avoid suffering – the fear of failure, heartbreak, being trapped, being lost, etc. are all caused by a single root – and arise from the mind. In Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life, it is said that the Buddha articulated, “The source of all our fear comes from our own uncontrolled minds or “delusions.””

In order to overcome this root cause of fear, the Buddha, and Zen masters alike, teach to strive for no-self or emptiness. This doesn’t mean a nihilistic view of life is adopted. Friedrich Nietzsche accused Buddhism of being existentialist, but the Buddha taught us to seek the Middle Way between the mundane and the spiritual, seeing objects as real but dependently originated, not-self and unsatisfactory. Instead of seeing all things as pointless and empty, we see mundane life as meaningless but recognize spiritual goals as meaningful.

As the Zen master, Sojo has said, “Heaven and earth and I are of the same root, the ten-thousand things and I are of one substance.”

After all, even once the Buddha gave up all his worldly possessions he realized he was no closer to achieving Nirvana. He discovered that exaggerated asceticism was not required to attain enlightenment.

By learning how to work through these fears, we can achieve the ‘lion’s roar’ of full realization.

This article was originally posted on The Mind Unleashed.

Photo credits: Conscious Reminder

There is a very intimate connection between cannabis and mysticism which dates back to the earliest times of human civilization.

History is filled with insurmountable evidence showing that cannabis was used a variety of spiritual and ritualistic practices. Cannabis enjoyed a respected status in various cultures as a gateway to experiencing the heights of spiritual transcendence.

The use of cannabis for spiritual elevation and worship permeates various aspects of history with cannabis being used as a means of gaining higher spiritual connections which create more electrifying mystical encounters.

Cannabis and Mysticism Across Various Civilizations

The use of cannabis for mysticism is prevalent in history and cut across various geographical locations, traditions, and civilizations with different heights of involvement and applications. There are many accounts of the use of cannabis as a channel to gain entry into the non-physical dimension. There have also been many indications and testimonies on that reinforce the relevance of cannabis in enabling the mind to gather awareness of mystical and nonphysical developments.

Additionally, there has been a widespread integration of cannabis in different types of sacred practices globally. What is referred to as “microdosing” in contemporary times often provides a fantastic way to prepare the mind for a brilliant spiritual encounter. Just a little amount of cannabis would stimulate the mind while enabling a greater awareness of spiritual realities.

Cannabis has an irrefutable reputation for facilitating entry into some of the most unreachable and far-flung areas of the subconscious. Cannabis enables the mind to reach lost memories, thoughts, and imaginations that effectively triggers a supernatural encounter. Without a doubt, cannabis is capable of strengthening the operations of the mind in ways that produce elevated mental processes and mystical encounters. Cannabis would enable profound cerebral operations, deeper and more gratifying introspections and soul searching while catapulting you to the threshold of ideological and divine enlightenment.

Marijuana plant has many constituents that provide spiritual elevation and insight. There have been many reports from users about increased spiritual awareness and amplified reasoning about dimensions that were once completely nonexistent to consciousness.

Cannabis as a Booster to Spirituality

Unarguably, cannabis provides the deepest form of clarity and ones with different dimension while enabling profound meditation that brings about tremendous revelations and awareness.

Cannabis strengthens consciousness and provides the body with the required amount of vigor for a worthwhile meditation. Cannabis offers great support for yoga practice and Yoga dates back thousands of years to the Shiva cults and was a highly beneficial ritualistic process. Cannabis provides the required vigor for the body while stimulating the mind for a profoundly gratifying assessment of self and various realities while creating a very fulfilling spiritual encounter.

Cannabis is particularly relevant in the area of introspection, facilitating an intense session of cerebral exploration that produces unmistakable clarity and insight that gives a deeper understanding of the spiritual.

Photo credits: Youtube

About the author:

Nick Hackman studied Sociology and is a journalist based in Brussels. He has a strong interest in Social Science and the Medical Cannabis Industry.

A team of Swedish researchers found that the presence of a receptor that regulates general serotonin activity in the brain correlates with people’s capacity for transcendence, the ability to apprehend phenomena that cannot be explained objectively. Scientists have for long suspected that serotonin influences spirituality. They found that drugs known to alter serotonin such as LSD also induce mystical experiences. If this neurotransmitter is released in huge quantities into the body, the individual will reach a higher state of consciousness. An immense feeling of joy and happiness takes over (4).

Have you ever come across the term LSD? Well, I’m sure you have. LSD or lysergic acid diethylamide is a powerful drug that can make or mar. While it can churn out millions for the peddler it can ruin the one who ingests it. So notorious is this one that the mere possession of it can see you to the gallows. Now what offence can LSD commit? Why are the ones introduced to it ready to throw away every penny they have just to buy it? Let’s find out.

In 1938 Albert Hoffman a Swiss Scientist, synthesized LSD while researching lysergic acid derivatives, from the ergot fungus that grows on rye. While re-synthesizing LSD he accidentally absorbed a small quantity of the same through his fingertips. He experienced something unfamiliar, something strong. It was the strong effects of LSD (1).

Related: The Perceptual Adaptation Experiment of George Stratton and Synaesthesia

Later on in the 1940s, LSD made its entry in the health market under the name Delysid. It was marketed to psychiatrists as a tool for understanding psychosis and for facilitating psychotherapy. A patient administered Delysid could capture repressed memories. The psychiatrist could get an insight into the patient’s mind via a primary process induced by the hallucinogen. The drug found widespread acceptance. Timothy Leary, a lecturer in Psychology at Harvard University in the 1950s, was a great advocate of LSD. But in 1965 it was banned in the US. Timothy Leary was tried for unlawful possession of marijuana cigarettes and put behind bars. He was sentenced to 30 years (1).

What actually happens when you ingest LSD?

When ingested LSD acts on specific receptors in the body and binds with them. A feeling akin to pleasure and ecstasy sweeps through the being. But what has LSD got to do with serotonin? Well, the specific receptors are none other than serotonin receptors themselves. 5HT type 2 receptors are the receptors where the entire serotonin binds. These receptors are there within all and the correct peptide that ought to bind there is serotonin itself. The power of serotonin peptide is so great that LSD is no match for it. But to experience it one needs to reach a point called unconditional love. Serotonin unlike other peptides has the power to hold sway over the human mind and body. Made up of tryptophan amino acid, serotonin peptide is a potent mood booster. It is a powerful antidepressant and anti- anxiety peptide. At the physical level it has amazing anti-aging properties. It eliminates the free radicals that accelerate the aging process. A low-level of the peptide can result in eating disorders and obesity (2,3).

Serotonin or 5-hydroxytryptamine is a monoamine neurotransmitter that was initially believed to be produced in just one location in the body i.e. the brain. However as research on the topic advanced, it was found that 95% of the total serotonin in the human body is produced in the gut, in the enterochromaffin cells. The rest of the serotonin is synthesized in the serotonergic neurons of the central nervous system. The brain cannot depend upon serotonin supply from outside sources i.e. the gut because it i.e. serotonin, is incapable of crossing the blood-brain barrier that protects the brain from external invasions. Hence, the brain has to source its requirement of the neurotransmitter from within (3).

Serotonin contributes to the feeling of well-being and hence, is often referred to as the ‘happiness hormone’. The gut bacteria aid in the production of this neurotransmitter. It imparts a sense of love within the gut in an individual and is also actively involved in preventing depression and regulating sleep, appetite and body temperature. However its influence is not limited to the gut alone (3).

Studies have revealed that serotonin is a potent accelerator critical to maturation of the brain. It has a powerful influence on the brain neurons responsible for mood, sexual desire and functioning, appetite, memory, learning and social behavior. Deficiency of the peptide can lead to autism and Down syndrome (3)

When serotonin is produced in a balanced  amount an immense spiritual feeling takes over. Serotonin is the hormone and the neurotransmitter that makes one feel the spiritual bliss and wellbeing.

References:

(1) Acid Dreams: The Complete Social History of LSD: The CIA, the Sixties, and Beyond- Martin A lee
(2) LSD: Doorway to the Numinous: The Groundbreaking Psychedelic Research into Realms of the Human Unconscious – Stanislav Grof MD
(3) 5-HTP: Nature’s Serotonin Solution – Ray Sahelian
(4) The Science of Emotions: Dr Fahad Basheer

About the author

Dr. Fahad Basheer is an author, writer  and a trainer. He is a highly influential independent researcher of consciousness, mind body continuum system and its applications in medicine.He has specialized in NLP psycho therapeutics. He is the author of the book “The Science of Emotions”. He has published numerous articles to different magazines and Medical Journals. Follow Dr.Fahad Basheer on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/dr.fahadbasheer/ & Twitter.

This article was originally created and published by Waking Times and is published here under a Creative Commons license with attribution to WakingTimes.com.

These are 10 life lessons from the Bhagavad Gita, an ancient Indian text dense with wisdom.

1. Change is the Law of The Universe

“What you have taken, Has been from here
What you gave has been given here

What belongs to you today
belonged to someone yesterday
and will be someone else’s tomorrow

Change is the Law of The Universe”

Nothing is constant. No-thing is permanent. True stillness comes from embracing movement – the ebb and flow of life. The earth is moving through space. Night follows day. Each moment is completely new. To be wise is to accept change. To be enlightened is to love change.

2. Everything Happens for a Reason

“Whatever happened was good
Whatever is happening is good
Whatever will happen will also be good”

This mindset empowers you. This mindset attracts more of the good. What has happened has happened. There is nothing more to be done. The future is a picture, an illusion. It will never come. It is always now. You control the present. Live it to the fullest.

Watch: Live in the Here and Now

3. Love the Process Without Depending on the Outcome

“Set thy heart upon thy work, but never on its reward.”

Never engage in action for the sake of reward. Do your work with love. Expect nothing. You are rewarded in the present. Do from a place of joy. Create from a place of no-mind. Give from a place of love.

4. Give Without Expecting Something in Return

“A gift is pure when it is given from the heart to the right person at the right time and at the right place, and when we expect nothing in return”

Be pure when giving. Love grows when shared. Give and you shall receive.

5. Let Go of Attachment

“You came here empty handed, and you will leave empty handed.”

Attachment to material things can weigh you down. We do not possess things, yet things can possess us. Sensory pleasures are short-lived. When they disappear they can cause suffering. The wise do not attach their happiness to such pleasures. They go beyond them. Take no possessions. Always travel light.

6. The Soul Is Eternal

“For the soul there is never birth nor death. Nor, having once been, does he ever cease to be. He is unborn, eternal, ever-existing, undying and primeval. He is not slain when the body is slain.”

Birth and death are of this realm. Birth and death are of the duality. Energy can never be created or destroyed; it transforms from one form to another. Energy is in essence non-dual. Consciousness is not of the human body.

7. We Are All One

“The man who sees me in everything
and everything within me
will not be lost to me, nor
will I ever be lost to him.
He who is rooted in oneness
realizes that I am
in every being; wherever
he goes, he remains in me.
When he sees all being as equal
in suffering or in joy
because they are like himself,
that man has grown perfect in yoga.”

Treat every being the same. Treat others as you want others to treat you. See the inherent goodness in all beings. See through labels and stories. We are all God. We are all One.

8. You Are What You Think You Are

“We behold what we are, and we are what we behold.”

“Man is made by his belief. As he believes, so he is.”

Mind over matter. Think happy thoughts and you are happier. Know you can, and you can. Look for things to be grateful for. Look for the good. You will find it.

9. Meditate

“When meditation is mastered, the mind is unwavering like the flame of a lamp in a windless place.”

Meditation makes you happier. It is a timeless truth.

10. Dream Big

“We’re kept from our goal not by obstacles, but by a clear path to a lesser goal.”

See it, feel it, become it. Have no fear when dreaming. Dream as big as you can. Let how you feel be your guide. Move your dream into the present moment to manifest it.

This post was originally published at Global Harmony Crew.

About the author

Vegard Paulsen is one of the two founders of Global Harmony Crew. Global Harmony Crew points you towards deep realization, and guides you towards powerful manifestation. For more timeless truths and life-enhancing material, join the crew by subscribing. You will get their video course on Inner Peace for free. Follow Global Harmony Crew on Facebook.

Are you on the right path? Are you walking the path that is going to lead you to realizing your highest purpose?

There are a few things to understand about the journey of life before you can answer this question.

Firstly, there is no such thing as the wrong path. All roads are ultimately going to lead you to where you need to be, but like all great navigators will tell you, there are easier roads than others.

Some roads are smoother, some roads are bumpy, some roads are well lit and others are dark. Whatever road you ultimately end up choosing is the best road for you and for where you are at your current level of consciousness.

So ultimately in a bigger picture sense, you are always on the right path. But if you are curious if you are walking your highest path, that is the path that is going to help you reach the fullest expression of your being, here is how to tell:

1. You Just Know

If you are questioning if you are walking your highest path or not, you are probably not quite there just yet.

When you walk the right path you can feel it. There is a certain feeling that comes when you start walking this path that allows you to feel purposeful and fulfilled.

A lot of people think that their highest path is going to be some big grand pathway, but it can be subtle and gentle as well.

Walking your highest path is an unmistakable feeling, so get out of your head and into your heart and listen for the answer.

2. You Are Not Compromising Yourself

When you are walking your highest path you give up doing things to please others and instead start doing things that feel good to you. This doesn’t mean that you don’t compromise to get along with others, but these compromises come from a more conscious place and are met with equal respect.

When you walk your highest path you are completely aligned with your soul and what your soul has come here to achieve and so there is no way you can compromise this and still be on your highest path.

3. You are Equipped to Handle Life’s Curveballs

Just because you are on your highest path doesn’t mean you are not immune from challenges and hurdles.

When you are on your highest path however, there is an underlying feeling of understanding and acceptance. Even if things are difficult, when you are on your highest path it allows you the awareness to see the bigger picture and to view things from a more purposeful place.

When challenges do come, there is also an underlying faith that everything is working out perfectly.

4. You Are Not Afraid to Be You

When you are on your highest path there is a general feeling of confidence and acceptance of who you are and the gifts that you need to bring into the world.

You may also feel passionate about what it is that you are doing and fulfilled by the decisions you are making in your life.

When you can fully appreciate and acknowledge yourself, it allows you to make decisions from a higher level of consciousness which then allows you to walk the path of your highest self.

5. You Believe in Something Bigger Than Yourself

Those walking their highest path often feel a connection to something bigger than just themselves.

When you walk your highest path you are in sync with your soul and the vibrations of the Universe. This also allows you to access other Divine realms and be in constant contact with your intuition.

When you believe in something bigger than yourself it also allows you to feel supported on your journey and that your journey has a bigger vision than you can fathom for yourself.

6. You are Always Learning

When you are on your highest path there is a curiosity for life and to continually learn, grow and expand. Often those who are on their highest path are always learning and desire to develop new skills.

When you are on your highest path, you may also feel the desire to travel, volunteer or dedicate your time to learning about other people or cultures.

7. You Feel Grateful and Connected

When you are on your highest path, there is an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the experiences and people that cross your path.

When you are on your highest path you are also able to see that we are all connected and that your energy is part of a bigger tapestry that all living creatures are working on over several lifetimes and incarnations.

8. You are a Witness to Miracles

When you start walking your highest path, miracles start unfolding around you. Your intentions and thoughts manifest very quickly and your life may be full of synchronicities or “coincidences” that are just too mysterious to fathom.

Your intuitive senses may also be very strong and your body may be able to heal a lot faster than normal.

When you are on your highest path you are also more aware of miracles occurring in everyday life, from the simple blossoming of a flower to seeing your wildest dreams manifesting before you.

9. You Meet Soulmates and Twin Flames

When you are walking your highest path, you are more likely to meet soulmates and twin flames that are there to support you on your journey.

These special souls may come in the way of teachers, lovers or even friends. No matter how they manifest in your life, when you are walking your highest path the people around you start to also reflect that.

Old friends may shift away and new people may come into your life that are more aligned with where you are at vibrationally.

10. You Keep Growing in Consciousness

Just like you are changing, so too is your highest path. If you don’t keep up with the changes of your highest path, it can knock you off course. This is why some people may feel that they used to be on their highest path but got lost somewhere along the way.

This is very normal, and it will take time and a new level of consciousness and growth to find your highest path again.

Your highest path is a feeling and not so much an external destination. No matter what is happening in your life on an external level, walking your highest path is a feeling that we can all achieve when we start to realize our own potential.

This post was originally published at Forever Conscious and used here with permission.