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Posts Tagged ‘Buddhism’

Introducing My New Book: “The Path”

September 15, 2013 8 comments

Thank you all for your early support! In less than 24 hours “The Path” is already number 36 on Amazon.com’s Comparative Religion List! I am truly grateful!

 

As some of you may have noticed, I’ve been a bit absent on here lately. Well, I have been finishing up my book, which has been an almost 10 year long project. It has really been a labor of love, and to be honest, I wasn’t sure that I would ever actually finish it, but I finally have, and it has now been published by Stone Guild Publishing!

ThePath_Cover_Mockup_1024I appreciate all of the kind words and support that everyone has given me over the years, and I am very excited to finally be able to present this book.

From the Back Cover:

Jason E. Marshall is a practicing attorney in Oklahoma, where he lives with his wife and children. Jason holds a B.A. in Political Science, with an emphasis in International Relations and Cultural Studies, as well as a Juris Doctorate. Jason became interested in the study of comparative religion during his undergraduate studies, after undergoing a truly transformational experience during an introductory comparative religion course. After his initial transformational experience, Jason undertook a personal journey to learn more about the various religions of the world in order to gain a better understanding of the ties that unite humanity, as well as his own true nature, and ultimately God. What began as personal notes from his studies and journeys became the genesis of this book.

Rather than the normal dry recitation of facts that highlight the differences among the world religions, in The Path, Jason explores the seven major religions of the world in order to highlight the ties that should unite, rather divide, humanity. Jason also shows how the teachings and insights from the various world religions can be applied to anyone’s journey of personal and spiritual development, regardless of one’s particular path or spiritual background.

In order to kick this book off, I am going to have a contest where I will give away two (2) free signed copies via random drawing on September 30, 2013. This is how it will work. Every “Like” on the blog will get one (1) entry, and every “share” will get three (3) entries.

There will also be a Facebook page contest with similar rules (Yes you can enter both contests). Please visit the Facebook Page at: https://www.facebook.com/ThePathBook

To purchase the book please visit Amazon.com: or simply click the book cover below!

Zen Moments


This is my twenty-sixth (and final!) post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I have tried to post a point of reflection or insight that I used to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I attempted to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lent itself to interesting insights and growth, because I not only had several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but I also had several days to put any lessons and insights that I discovered to work in my every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I tried to write updates as the weekly topics came up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

Z= Zen Moments: Zen moments are moments, often unexpected, of mental and/or spiritual clarity and insight. Zen moments are the times in our life where clarity and insight breaks through the mental and spiritual clouds that can build up during every day life. These moments can happen at any time, but some of my most profound insights and experiences have occurred somewhat out of the blue after I have been ruminating on a seemingly endless topic for quite some time, or when I just take a random moment out of my day to relax, meditate, or reflect.

I have also experienced several of these moments out of the blue with my wife or son, where their laughter, a smile, or a simple hug blissfully places me smack-dab in the here and now, where I cannot help but relish in the beautiful simplicity of the moment. During these moments, the mental clutter and buzz of normal life fades away, and living in the now, is truly blissful.

Some may see moments such as these as a distraction, or even a possible anchor for attachment; because after all, bliss-hunting or bliss-seeking can easily lead one to fall into a never-ending trap of attachment, seeking, depression, and even addiction. However, these moments of clarity, insight, and general bliss, really help to keep me going on my spiritual path. Life isn’t about asceticism, where the one who gives up the most wins the most, the Buddha tried that method and failed miserably. Life should be embraced and enjoyed. Life should be blissful, peaceful, and serene. Read more…

Grace in Everyday Life


This is my seventh post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason II, (c) Shelby Hurst Photography 2011

G= Grace in Everyday Life: Grace is a term that I often heard in Sunday School and church services growing up. I would hear people discuss the grace of Jesus, or the grace of God, or how by the grace of Jesus/God we could be saved from our sins. However, I never really understood the concept of grace, until I began undertaking my own spiritual path outside of mainstream Christianity. During my journey, I have come to understand grace as the mysterious power and energy that lies just beyond the veil of our consciousness, which gives energy, order, and direction to the material and spiritual worlds (which is basically the concept of the Tao, in Taoism). I believe grace is the loving energy of the creator, no matter what name you call him/her/it by, and it surrounds each of us at all times. Grace flows like a river through our lives, and shows itself through the beauty of nature, as well as in our intuitions, insights, and the countless miracles that surround each of us in our daily lives, including the miracle of life itself. Most importantly, grace provides us with a pathway between the material and spiritual worlds.

A key to living in the now, is balancing our life with, and tuning into, the grace that surrounds us at all times. Grace is the calm serenity of meditation, the warm fuzzies experienced when we help someone in need, the spine tingling energy of intuitions and insights, and the energy that interconnects each of us. Read more…

Forgiveness, Inside and Out


This is my sixth post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during every day life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son enjoying a kiddie pool, and some puppy kisses!

F= Forgiveness, Inside and Out: Learning forgiveness is an essential tool in living a truly happy and fulfilled life. Every one of us has had past experiences that have caused us hurt and pain, forgiveness involves releasing the power (control) that the memories from these experience have on us. We cannot change negative events from our past; however, we have the power to control how that event will shape and effect us in the present, and in the future. We may never be able to “forgive and forget”, but at the very least we can rise above those past experiences, and not let them continually cause us to feel hurt, pain, anger, and resentment.

Holding onto negativity from our past is a serious roadblock to personal and spiritual development. By hanging on to past experiences, you are only hurting yourself, because continually holding onto anger and resentment is not hurting or effecting the person that caused you pain, instead it is only causing pain to yourself. Also, if you continually focus on the past, you will never be able to fully live in the now, and enjoy your life fully and completely. You must be able to release the past, and forgive those that have caused you pain.

This is something that I have had to really work on over the past few years, because instead of truly forgiving people and events in my past, I merely covered them up and tried to simply “move on” with my life. However, this never truly works, because until you truly examine past experience, and forgive those that caused them, they will continually lurk beneath the surface, only to continually break through into your dreams, waking thoughts, and emotions. I may decide that I don’t want anything further to do with an individual that purposefully caused me pain, but I can forgive them for their actions, and wish them well in their life. Read more…

Compassionate Character Development


This is my third post in a series, where each Monday I will post about a point of reflection or insight that I will use to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I will attempt to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have often found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lends itself to interesting insights and growth, because you not only have several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but you have several days to put any lessons and insights that you discover to work in your every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I will try to write updates as the weekly topics come up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during every day life. To view the current and previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

Used with permission from: http://www.publicdomainpictures.net

C= Compassion: Compassion is best defined as empathetic action, where one takes steps to understand the cause of another’s suffering, and then undertake action to ease the suffering, and hopefully prevent whatever problem or issue caused the suffering from occurring again in the future. Every religion, from Jesus’ Beatitudes and teachings on charity, to Islam’s Zakāt pillar of faith, to Buddhism’s Eightfold Path, teaches that developing a compassionate character is essential for anyone wishing to live a happy and fulfilled life. The reason that every religion promotes compassion, is because it is an essential ingredient for not only your own happiness, but the happiness of others.

If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.” -H.H. The 14th Dalai Lama

Compassion naturally develops internal and external happiness, because compassion allows you to reflect your positive values and wisdom out into the world at large in order to make the world a better place. On an internal level, compassionately helping others naturally makes us feel good and raises our level of awareness. On an external level, compassion should be used to help alleviate the suffering of all sentient beings, which naturally makes those around us and the world at large happier. Also, as those around you become happier through your compassionate acts, they will naturally reflect your acts of kindness back to you, in the same way that ripples in a pond eventually return to their source.

Read more…

Discovering Wisdom Through Practice


Guthrie SR Atrium – Photo by Matthew D. Anthony (c) 2012

We do not receive wisdom, we must discover it for ourselves, after a journey through the wilderness, which no one else can make for us, which no one can spare us, for our wisdom is the point of view from which we must come at last to regard the world.” – Marcel Proust

During this past weekend I had the supreme pleasure of enjoying a four day Scottish Rite Reunion in Guthrie, Oklahoma. For those that aren’t familiar with the Scottish Rite, it is a Masonic organization that confers the 4th through the 33rd degrees of the Masonic system. The degrees of the Scottish Rite basically provide a collegiate level course on comparative religion, philosophical and moral thought, ethics, and most importantly (for me at least) inner development.

I am supremely fortunate to be a member of the Guthrie Valley, which not only boasts one of the world’s most beautiful buildings (in my opinion, and in the opinion of many who have been fortunate to visit it), but it is composed of members who truly care about not only their own spiritual path, but facilitating the spiritual paths of others. During the Reunions there are group meditation and education courses, as well as ample opportunities to spend one-on-one time with individual seekers, teachers, and facilitators from almost every spiritual tradition ranging from mainstream Christianity, Gnostic Christianity, Buddhism, Islam-Sufism, Neo-Paganism, etc., so it is truly a spiritual melting pot that provides a smorgasbord for the spiritual seeker. It also provides people from all spiritual backgrounds, and levels of interest or development with a platform to advance and learn from one another, which unfortunately is a very rare opportunity.

The above quote by Marcel Proust has been stuck in my head for the last month or so, and during this last weekend it really hit home; because, one of the central teachings of the Rite is that its members should actively go out in the world and practice what they have learned in order to take up the struggle against tyranny, oppression, ignorance, and human suffering of all kinds.

Too often people are merely content with “receiving” wisdom, which is  passive, and merely becomes an intellectual exercise, or people are constantly searching for just the right place of worship, teacher, or practice, so they easily fall into a rut, which prevents any real progress. While I firmly believe that every spiritual tradition provides the keys (knowledge) to living a happy and fulfilled life in this realm, and in the next, we must make an effort to discover true wisdom, which can only be had by journeying down the path towards it. The journey towards wisdom not only requires learning (knowledge), but it requires real effort, and actually putting your knowledge into practice. Read more…

Rain and the Flow of Life

March 19, 2012 6 comments

Photo by: Malene Thyssen

April Rain Song:

Let the rain kiss you.
Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.
Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
The rain makes still pools on the sidewalk.
The rain makes running pools in the gutter.
The rain plays a little sleep-song on our roof at night –
And I love the rain.

– Langston Hughes (1902-1967).

I have always loved the sound of rain, which is probably why I love spring in Oklahoma, and wistfully wish that I lived someplace like Washington State, where it rains almost all year long. Unfortunately, those of us in Oklahoma have been suffering through the worst drought since the famous “Dust Bowl” period. Luckily, today we have been blessed by several hours of hard steady rain. The rain and occasional thunderclap have added a wonderful soundtrack to my workday, as I finish up some discovery responses in a legal case that I am working on. I have also enjoyed the fresh and clean smell of nature as the various plants outside of my office window open up to receive the rain.

During lunch I replied to a series of emails from a reader asking for advice on how to deal with the spiritual and emotional highs and lows of life. My advice to her was, as I have stated several times on previous posts, is to simply learn to go with the flow of life. I always, half jokingly, tell people to watch “The Big Lebowski“, and try to be more like Jeff Bridges’ character “The Dude”, because no matter the situation, The Dude abides. Read more…

Carpe Diem – The Arrival of Fall

October 24, 2011 12 comments

My son Jase. (C) 2010- Shelby Hurst Photography – http://shelbyhurstphotography.wordpress.com

The fall (autumn) season is a time of transition, it is a time of change from the hot hectic pace of summer (yard work, vacations, gardening, etc.), to a slower paced time of harvest and relaxation in the cool weather. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I live in Oklahoma, so the fall is a wonderful respite from the brutal summer heat, especially this year which was one of the hottest, and driest since the dust bowl. I also love fall for its cool crisp mornings and evenings, and for the spectacular foliage color change.

The other day as I was relaxing on my back porch enjoying a fine cigar and watching the squirrels busily gorge themselves on acorns, as well as hurriedly stash away reserves for the coming winter months. While I was ruminating on the fall season in general, as well as other transitional periods/seasons, my mind kept drifting back to one of my favorite movie scenes of all time, the “Carpe Diem” scene from “The Dead Poets Society”, starring Robin Williams. Please watch the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQtmGcdSDAI

Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase which translates to “Seize the Day”. As the Character of Robin Williams conveys so well in the scene, today is all we have, so seize today and make the most of it. As most of my readers should know the concept of enjoying life to the fullest, and truly “living” life, is an essential element in my life, as well as in my spiritual path (which is also evidenced by the title for this site). Read more…

Just Breathe

October 16, 2011 7 comments

Grand Teton Mountains, Jackson Hole Wyoming

What do you do roughly 20,000 times a day, but rarely notice? If you are alive (which I hope you are if you are able to read this) I guarantee that you are doing it right now… that’s right you are breathing. The average person takes about 20,000 breaths a day, but most people rarely notice this life sustaining act.

As so many of us race through life constantly checking the new email, text message, or App notification from our smart phone, the simple act of breathing gets lost in the shuffle. However, it is important to not let breathing get lost in the shuffle, because the act of breathing is not only the gateway for bringing oxygen (fuel) into the circulatory system, but it is also a gateway into our physical and emotional states. This is because, when we enter into an anxious state, our breaths shorten and the pace quickens, which in turn speeds our heart-rate and sends signals throughout our nervous system system to release adrenaline and other chemicals in order to ready itself in case a true “fight or flight” response is needed. While this quick ramping up of the fight or flight mechanism is great when you are trying to outrun a tiger, it isn’t great for your cognitive abilities, your long term health, or for your emotional states. Read more…

Suffering is Caused by Ignorance

October 6, 2011 11 comments

As many of my readers already know, I was blessed to be able to attend the Kalachakra Initiation, in Washington D.C., this past July. During one of the preliminary teachings that preceded the Kalachakra Initiation, H.H. The Dalai Lama, mentioned something that struck me at a very deep level, and has continued to resonate with me, “suffering is caused by ignorance”. While the concept of suffering is central to Buddhist thought (because the teachings are aimed at ending suffering), most of the teachings I had previously heard or read, stated that suffering was simply caused by various forms of attachment, so this teaching on suffering was new to me.

For my non-Buddhist readers, I should probably explain the concept of suffering in Buddhist philosophy. When most of us think of “suffering” we think of some sort of physical or emotional anguish. While this is truly a form of suffering, the Buddhist concept of suffering can be much more subtle. In Buddhist philosophy “suffering” includes regrets, desires, worries, depression, anger, and any other form of unhappiness (no matter how subtle), that is preventing you from living a happy and fulfilled life, and ultimately reaching a state of enlightenment. According to the Buddha, all forms of suffering are caused by attachment, because you can probably trace all of your suffering to some form of attachment to various emotions/mental patterns, desires/regrets, life experiences, the material world, or life in general. Therefore, the traditional teaching that attachment (in whatever form) is the root cause of suffering is true; however, the statement that suffering is caused by ignorance, took those teachings deeper for me and put them into a new context. Read more…

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