Monthly Archives: June 2011

Zentraveler on the Art of Living!

Art Represents Us

We were all born in our respective countries and did not have any choice on that matter. Some were born to privilege, some were born to extreme poverty, and most were somewhere in between.

We did not come with manuals on how to live! We learned about life through our parents, peers, and teachers. Some role models were over the top with constant yelling, bickering, alcoholism, drugs, abusive talk and worse. The lucky ones had great role models that gave us positive direction.

Here’s where the Art of Living begins to take shape. No matter what your background you can become proactive in the Art of Living simply by changing your mindset and goals. The way you live your life is totally up to you….so why not choose quality, positive lifestyle over living in the negative pigpen.

“Everyone seeks peace and harmony, because this is what we lack in our lives. From time to time we all experience agitation, irritation, dishar­mony. And when we suffer from these miseries, we don’t keep them to ourselves; we often distribute them to others as well. Unhappiness permeates the atmosphere around someone who is miserable, and those who come in contact with such a person also become affected. Certainly this is not a skillful way to live.

We ought to live at peace with ourselves, and at peace with others. After all, human beings are social beings, having to live in society and deal with each other. But how are we to live peacefully? How are we to remain harmonious within, and maintain peace and harmony around us, so that others can also live peacefully and harmoniously?

In order to be relieved of our misery, we have to know the basic reason for it, the cause of the suffering. If we investigate the problem, it becomes clear that whenever we start generating any negativity or impurity in the mind, we are bound to become unhappy. A negativity in the mind, a mental defilement or impurity, cannot coexist with peace and harmony.

How do we start generating negativity? Again, by investigation, it becomes clear. We become unhappy when we find someone behaving in a way that we don’t like, or when we find something happening which we don’t like. Unwanted things happen and we create tension within. Wanted things do not happen, some obstacle comes in the way, and again we create tension within; we start tying knots within. And throughout life, unwanted things keep on happening, wanted things may or may not happen, and this process of reaction, of tying knots—Gordian knots—makes the entire mental and physical structure so tense, so full of negativity, that life becomes miserable.

Now, one way to solve this problem is to arrange that nothing unwanted happens in life, that everything keeps on happening exactly as we desire. Either we must develop the power, or somebody else who will come to our aid must have the power, to see that unwanted things do not happen and that everything we want happens. But this is impossible. There is no one in the world whose desires are always fulfilled, in whose life everything happens according to his or her wishes, without anything unwanted happening. Things constantly occur that are contrary to our desires and wishes. So the question arises: how can we stop reacting blindly when confronted with things that we don’t like? How can we stop creating tension and remain peaceful and harmonious?

In India, as well as in other countries, wise saintly persons of the past studied this problem—the problem of human suffering—and found a solution: if something unwanted happens and you start to react by generating anger, fear or any negativity, then, as soon as possible, you should divert your attention to something else. For example, get up, take a glass of water, start drinking—your anger won’t multiply; on the other hand, it’ll begin to subside. Or start counting: one, two, three, four. Or start repeating a word, or a phrase, or some mantra, perhaps the name of a god or saintly person towards whom you have devotion; the mind is diverted, and to some extent you’ll be free of the negativity, free of the anger

This sounds wonderful, but is it really practical? It’s not easy to face one’s own impurities. When anger arises, it so quickly overwhelms us that we don’t even notice. Then, overpowered by anger, we perform physical or vocal actions which harm ourselves and others. Later, when the anger has passed, we start crying and repenting, begging pardon from this or that person or from God: “Oh, I made a mistake, please excuse me!” But the next time we are in a similar situation, we again react in the same way. This continual repenting doesn’t help at all.

The difficulty is that we are not aware when negativity starts. It begins deep in the unconscious mind, and by the time it reaches the conscious level it has gained so much strength that it overwhelms us, and we cannot observe it. However, someone who reached the ultimate truth found a real solution. He discovered that whenever any impurity arises in the mind, physically two things start happening simultaneously. One is that the breath loses its normal rhythm. We start breathing harder whenever negativity comes into the mind. This is easy to observe. At a subtler level, a biochemical reaction starts in the body, resulting in some sensation. Every impurity will generate some sensation or the other within the body.

The technique of self-observation shows us reality in its two aspects, inner and outer. Previously we only looked outward, missing the inner truth. We always looked outside for the cause of our unhappiness; we always blamed and tried to change the reality outside. Being ignorant of the inner reality, we never understood that the cause of suffering lies within, in our own blind reactions toward pleasant and unpleasant sensations.

When one reaches the positive stage the entire pattern of one’s life changes. It is no longer possible to do anything vocally or physically which will disturb the peace and happiness of others. Instead, a balanced mind not only becomes peaceful, but the surrounding atmosphere also becomes permeated with peace and harmony, and this will start affecting others, helping others too.

By learning to remain balanced in the face of everything experienced inside, one develops detachment towards all that one encounters in external situations as well. However, this detachment is not escapism or indifference to the problems of the world. Those who regularly practice positive thoughts become more sensitive to the sufferings of others, and do their utmost to relieve suffering in whatever way they can—not with any agitation, but with a mind full of love, compassion and equanimity. They learn holy indifference—how to be fully committed, fully involved in helping others, while at the same time maintaining balance of mind. In this way they remain peaceful and happy, while working for the peace and happiness of others.

The Art of Living

This is what the Buddha taught: an Art of Living. He never established or taught any religion, any “ism”. He never instructed those who came to him to practice any rites or rituals, any empty formalities. Instead, he taught them just to observe nature as it is, by observing the reality inside. Out of ignorance we keep reacting in ways which harm ourselves and others. But when wisdom arises—the wisdom of observing reality as it is—this habit of reacting falls away. When we cease to react blindly, then we are capable of real action—action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth. Such action can only be positive, creative, helpful to ourselves and to others.

In the language of India in the time of the Buddha, passana meant seeing in the ordinary way, with one’s eyes open; but by training your mind you are observing things as they actually are, not just as they appear to be. Apparent truth has to be penetrated, until we reach the ultimate truth of the entire psycho-physical structure. When we experience this truth, then we learn to stop reacting blindly, to stop creating negativities—and naturally the old ones are gradually eradicated. We become liberated from misery and experience true happiness.

In order to practice the positive mind one must abstain from any action, physical or vocal, which disturbs the peace and harmony of others. One cannot work to liberate oneself from impurities of the mind while at the same time continuing to perform deeds of body and speech which only multiply them. Therefore, a code of morality is the essential first step of the practice. One undertakes not to kill, not to steal, not to commit sexual misconduct, not to tell lies, and not to use intoxicants. By abstaining from such actions, one allows the mind to quiet down sufficiently in order to proceed further.

Develop some mastery over this “Wild Mind” by training it to remain fixed on a single object, the breath. One tries to keep one’s attention on the respiration for as long as possible. This is not a breathing exercise; one does not regulate the breath. Instead, one observes natural respiration as it is, as it comes in, as it goes out. In this way one further calms the mind so that it is no longer overpowered by intense negativities. At the same time, one is concentrating the mind, making it sharp and penetrating, capable of the work of insight.

Living a moral life, and controlling the mind, are very necessary and beneficial in themselves, but they will lead to suppression of negativities unless one takes the next step: purifying the mind of negatives by developing insight into one’s own nature. Experiencing one’s own reality by the systematic and dispassionate observation within oneself of the ever-changing mind-matter phenomenon manifesting itself as sensations. This is the culmination of the teaching of the Buddha: self-purification by self-observation.

It can be practiced by one and all. Everyone faces the problem of suffering. It is a universal malady which requires a universal remedy, not a sectarian one. When one suffers from anger, it’s not Buddhist anger, Hindu anger, or Christian anger. Anger is anger. When one becomes agitated as a result of this anger, this agitation is not Christian, or Jewish, or Muslim. The malady is universal. The remedy must also be universal.

There is a remedy! No one will object to a code of living which respects the peace and harmony of others. No one will object to developing control over the mind. No one will object to developing insight into one’s own nature, by which it is possible to free the mind of negativities. This is a universal path.

Observing reality as it is by observing the truth inside—this is knowing oneself directly and experientially. As one practices, one keeps freeing oneself from the misery of mental impurities. From the gross, external, apparent truth, one penetrates to the ultimate truth of mind and matter. Then one transcends that, and experiences a truth which is beyond mind and matter, beyond time and space, beyond the conditioned field of relativity: the truth of total liberation from all negatives, all impurities, all suffering. Whatever name one gives this ultimate truth is irrelevant; it is the final goal of everyone.

May you all experience this ultimate truth. May all people be free from misery. May they enjoy real peace, real harmony, real happiness.

MAY ALL BEINGS BE HAPPY The above text is based upon a talk given by Mr. S.N. Goenka in Berne, Switzerland and has been modified by Zentravler.

So there you have it… if you truly want to learn the Art of Living you need to look inside, learn to control your mind and emotions, learn to deal with negatives, and begin practicing a life of harmony, peace and real happiness. The answer my friend is not blowing in the wind… its learning to control your mind so that negatives turn into positives.

QUOTE: As human beings we all want to be happy and free from misery. We have learned that the key to happiness is inner peace. The greatest obstacles to inner peace are disturbing emotions such as anger and attachment, fear and suspicion, while love and compassion, a sense of universal responsibility
are the sources of peace and happiness. —Dalai Lama



ZENTRAVElER SAYS: The Art of Living is like a fine wine which takes constant ageing and the right combination of correct practice, learning, and the mix of your chemicals, hormones and personality.

From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.

Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free?

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Zentraveler on the health benefits of Parsley!

If you are in a restaurant and are served dishes garnished with parsley, don’t put the parsley to the side, but instead eat parsley every time you have a chance to give your body a health boost!

Parsley is a member of the Umbelliferae family, which also includes celery, carrots, dill, cilantro, caraway, cumin, and the poisonous hemlock. Nobody is certain where parsley originated, though it is said by some to have originated in Sardinia.

There are two types commonly used as a herb, curly leaf and flat leaf. Flat leaf is often referred to as Italian parsley. The Ancient Romans loved parsley. In the first century AD, Pliny wrote that no salad or sauce should be served without parsley. He also wrote that all classes of people loved parsley.

The Ancient Greeks believed parsley sprung from the blood of the hero Archemorus after he was killed by a dragon. There was an ancient belief that plucking a sprig of parsley while saying one’s enemy’s name would bring about the death of said enemy.

The health benefits of parsley in herbal medicine include its use in the control of high blood pressure. Chinese and German herbalists recommend parsley tea for this purpose. Scientific evaluations of the dietary effects of parsley seem to support this recommendation.

Several different underlying problems have been associated with hypertension or high blood pressure. One, the kidneys lose their ability to excrete sodium (salt) efficiently, disturbing the natural balance of water and salt in the body.

Two, people who have high blood pressure are usually “salt-sensitive”; salt tends to increase fluid retention in their bodies.

And three, the body’s natural systems designed to control blood pressure in the short-term is overactive in people with chronic hypertension.

This leads to constriction of the blood vessels and increases retention of water and salt. Some of the prescription medications for the treatment of high blood pressure are designed to improve the body’s ability to rid itself of excess fluids and salt. They are called “diuretics”.

Scientific evaluations of the dietary effects of parsley have shown that it enhances the kidney’s ability to excrete sodium and water, thus it acts as a natural diuretic. It also improves the function of potassium in the body. Potassium counteracts the negative effects of salt.

So there you have it… this little innocent looking green sprig of parsley could help regulate your blood pressure and has many other health benefits. Eat more parsley and see for yourself the miracle of this easy to obtain green herb.

Disclaimer: This website is simply the writers views and is not an attempt to practice medicine or provide specific medical or health advice and should not be used to make a diagnosis or to replace or overrule a qualified health care provider’s judgment. None of the statements on zentraveler are to be understood as a recommendation on how to treat any disease or health related condition. If you require medical or other assistance Zentraveler strongly encourages users to consult with a qualified health care professional.

QUOTE:”Mindfulness is the aware, balanced acceptance of the present experience. It isn’t more complicated than that. It is opening to or receiving the present moment, pleasant or unpleasant, just as it is, without either clinging to it or rejecting it.” —Sylvia Boorstein

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: Parsley is a natural breath freshener. It reduces the odor of garlic breath when chewed fresh. This is thanks to parsley’s high chlorophyll levels.

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: Parsley seeds… so you can grow your own herb garden.

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Eat parsley often for maximum health benefits!

From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.

Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free?

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Zentraveler travels to the Singapore Zoo!

Singapore Zoo


When you travel it is important to use humor to offset some of the travel glitches that can happen to anyone. As we headed toward the Singapore Zoo I pointed out to my travel companion Perla not to tell any jokes and do not smile and show your teeth to the monkeys, apes, and orangutans who may mistake this as a sign of aggression and come leaping out of the trees and give you a good whooping! I also warned Perla that the Zoo was looking to add a few Endangered Species and she had to be careful not to be caught by the zoo keepers.

Endangered Species

Travel is a mystery to many… they are not sure what to do and settle with a few city tours, but spending a day in a World-Class Zoo offers many learning opportunities, is a great outing for the entire family, and gives you an entire day to have a picnic, lunch or dinner, walk the trails, ride the tram, and photograph animals in a realistic natural setting.

The Singapore Zoo is open 365 days a year, is a must-see attraction for tourists. The World’s Best Rainforest Zoo has much to offer including the exciting Night Safari. The Singapore zoo is a model of the ‘open zoo’ concept. The animals are kept in spacious, landscaped enclosures, separated from the visitors by moats. The moats are concealed with vegetation or dropped below the line of vision giving the impression of living in the wild.

Wild and Free

The zoo and Night Safari are comprised of 68 hectares of land and a large part kept as wooded land giving it a sense of natural, unrestricted space. As you walk through the Zoo you feel as if you are in the wild jungle complete with animal and bird noises.

Among various attractions that the zoo offers,one highlight is the “Breakfast with an Orangutan” programme that allows visitors to meet and interact closely with the orangutans. Animal shows, as well as token feedings coupled with live commentaries by keepers, are a great way to learn and interact with
the animals.

The Wildlife Healthcare and Research Center is part of the zoo’s efforts in wildlife conservation. The center further underscores Singapore Zoo and Night Safari’s commitment to conservation research, providing the infrastructure for the parks and overseas zoological partners to better execute their research programmes. The zoo also embarked on various rescue and conservation efforts to protect wildlife. The question is what can I do one single person to help protect wildlife. Every person can contribute something to help with this extremely important task.

Red Lemur

The zoo offers various rides available within the premises: trams, animals, boat, pony and horse carriage rides. You can also rent strollers, wagons, and wheelchairs.

Rare White Tiger

The zoo has four main attraction shows which you can witness in one day. The “Rainforest Fights Back” show is housed in the Shaw Amphitheatre, the main amphitheatre within the zoo. Actors and performers act alongside the animals: in-show, a poacher attempts to cut down a section of tropical rainforest for land development, and is foiled by the native people and the animals of the rainforest (orang-utans, lemurs, pea-fowls, otters and cockatiels). Be sure to have your camera ready and lookout from above as the live animal display unfolds.

The “Elephants at Work and Play” show demonstrates how elephants are used as beasts of burden in south-east Asian countries. The animal caretakers are referred to as mahouts, and the show simulates how a mahout would instruct an elephant to transport logs or kneel down so that they can be mounted.

Elephant at Work

The “Splash Safari” show showcases the zoo’s aquatic mammals and birds. Seals and sea lions perform tricks and pelicans demonstrate how they catch fish in their beaks, while manatees swim in the pond below.

Aquatic Show Penguins

The “Animal Friends” show, housed in the Kidzworld amphitheater in the zoo’s childrens’ section, features mostly domesticated animals such as dogs and parrots performing tricks.

Dog Tricks

We attended all four shows and were pleasantly surprised to be entertained…. plus learn a lesson in conservation. So there you have it! If you want a great zoo experience make this a must visit when you are in Singapore by exploring one of the best zoo’s in the world…The Singapore Zoo!

QUOTE:” The phrase “conquest of nature” is certainly one of the most objectionable and misleading expressions of Western languages. It reflects the illusion that all natural forces can be entirely
controlled, and it expresses the criminal conceit that nature is to be considered primarily as a source of raw materials and energy for human purposes.”——From A God Within by René Dubos

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW: The saddest fact is that human activities are bringing an ever-increasing decline in the number of animal species. While numerable species have gone into extinction and belong to the museums of the world, there are still many that are endangered as of today. They are slowly moving towards being extinct. There are animal activists around the world, who are making every attempt to save these species. It’s not too late to get involved….every little bit helps!

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: All living things…. extinction is forever!

ZENTRAVELER SAYS: Spend more of your time and money to help save the wildlife.

From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.

Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free?

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Zentraveler on the essence of Zen!

Zen Buddhism

Zen Buddhism arose in China in the 6th century when the Indian monk Bodhidharma arrived there. From China it reached Japan in the 7th century.

It cannot properly be called a religion or philosophy as it has no scriptures or a holy book. It is a method of experiencing the Ultimate – a way without rituals. It leads directly to transformation through inner experience.

Amongst the various schools of Buddhism – the Theravada school, Mahayana school, Tibetan school and the like – Zen Buddhism or offers the fastest and most direct road to enlightenment. Using Theravada methods is like traveling from one city to another by bicycle, the Tibetan method is similar to catching a bus, whereas the Zen method is similar to catching a plane. It’s name is a corruption of the Chinese word Chan, which itself is derived from the Sanskrit word Dhyana – meaning meditation.

The main methods taught are Zazen meditation and Koans. Zazen is a method of meditation that uses no techniques whatsoever. Osho Rajneesh describes his experience of using the method in his 12-volume exposition on the Dhammapada titled “ The Dhammapada: The way of the Buddha“. Subtitled “This the path to the ultimate truth”, this is a ‘must have’ for anyone seriously interested in Zazen.

To practice Zazen you are to simply sit motionless, for many hours every day observing your mind. Just observe, be a witnessing presence to whatever arises in your mind. Be indifferent to it. At first the mind will be very active, as always it will jump from one thought to another. Simply witness the antics of the mind, without identifying with your thoughts or feelings. After many months of such practice, the mind will quiet down on it’s own. It will get fed up with you, it will become tired of being ignored, and it will quiet down. And you will be in a state of No Mind, experiencing the Ultimate.

Zen Buddhism is unique amongst the various schools of Buddhism in that it teaches that it is possible to attain enlightenment – Here and Now – in this lifetime. Most other schools of Buddhism regard enlightenment or Nirvana as only possible after living and practicing for many lifetimes in a human form. Adapted from:

QUOTE:According to Eckhart Tolle, spiritual guru and author of the book, The Power of Now, the essence of Zen Buddhism or Zen religion, indeed of all spirituality, is that it forces us into the Here and Now, into a state of mind beyond past memories and future hopes, into a state beyond analysis and thoughts and conceptualization. The Power of Now is a modern spiritual classic that conveys the essence of the ancient spiritual teachings in a way that is understandable and usable by people in the 21st century.

THINGS YOU MAY NOT KNOW:Mindless is better than Mindful!

THINGS YOU MAY WANT TO SAVE: No Mind! The ultimate prize….. Nirvana!


From here to Infinity is a relatively short ride! The next leg takes eons and eons as you fly through the Barycentric Dynamical Time Zone! …and on and on and on.

Follow the Zentraveler Blog often for Travel, Health and Zen-like stories and such. Where else can you get a three in one blog for the price of free?

Leave a comment

Filed under Blogging, Practical Zen, Uncategorized