Self-Studying = Backtracking, Obsessive Planning, and Unparalleled Success

As some of you may know, aside from being a published author, I’ve undertaken a self-study program directed towards particle cosmology. My foundations in physics was nil when I started–I didn’t even take physics in high school–so it’s been challenging creating this foundation while still studying the higher-level subjects (qualitatively for the most part for now -_-), and I’ve had to do a lot of backtracking, returning of textbooks, and trial runs of online courses. It’s definitely been an exercise in patience.

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First Mantra

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This is not me. This is not mine. I am not this.

I found this gem of a mantra over at this beautiful site on Buddhist meditation. I’ve been inching my way along the Buddhist path, trying to find the best books and practice that will give me the most comprehensive instruction, so therefore my knowledge of it is kind of all over the place. I wish I had a better knowledge of daily practices, but it’s coming together slowly.

I found this mantra (This is not me. This is not mine. I am not this.) as a great help recently. I will admit to being somewhat surprised at how much it helped me.

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Finding The Path

I’ve been back and forth with Buddhism for a few years now. Not that I didn’t find it extremely appealing, but that I didn’t exactly know where to start. I have since read a few books on the subject (of which I found On The Path to Enlightment by Matthieu Ricard and Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hansen particularly informative) and can now say that I am committing myself entirely to the study of Buddhism as my religion. 

I haven’t “had a religion” for about a decade now, ever since I sat in religion class at a Catholic Church and thought how unrealistic it all seemed. I stumbled on Buddhism back when I was studying for AP Japanese and researching a bit into the Japanese lifestyle. It instantly struck me as the way to be the person I wanted to be. I do wish there was a Buddhist center near me where I can go and speak with other practitioners. I identify most with Mahayana Buddhism. 

My biggest trial at the moment is implementing the Dharma into my lifestyle. I’ll be documenting my path here, probably on a weekly basis, and hope my experiences will connect me with other practitioners or individuals considering Buddhism.

Practicing Buddhists out there, what books do you recommend on extending studies into a more advanced level? 

Purpose

This morning, I gave myself a little test. When I woke up, I thought about the day ahead of me. I wanted to get a long run done (12.5 miles), I wanted to do some laundry, I wanted to finish mapping out Clarity Book Three and possibly start writing the first chapter, I wanted to spend a few hours promoting The Watch. I ran through everything I wanted to do, and I was completely relaxed. Excited for the day, content and happy in what my day was going to be like.

Yesterday, I had also performed this little test. It ended with me getting out of bed frowning and thinking to myself ‘Ugh, let’s just get this over with.’

I hate it when I say that to myself. I hate when I’m anxious to speed up a day to ‘get it over with’ and move on to a day where I can devote all of my time to writing and studying. I’m wasting a full day of my life unhappy; hours spent unproductive both in writing and keeping up with my iTunes U courses.

I consider this the greatest disservice anyone can do to themselves, waking up and thinking ‘let’s get this day over with.’ This is your life, you don’t have the room or the time to get anything over with. You shouldn’t have to suffer through mundanity when what you truly what out of your life is reserved for those two precious days a week you get off work.

I do this morning test a few times a week. I use it to gauge my happiness. Sometimes, when I do this test and face a busy day without much time for writing & studying, I’m still content with the day because I know there to be a two hour window that I can have to my true pursuits. Most days, though, I don’t feel truly productive unless I have a solid 8 hours to devote to Clarity.

Not only does this let me test out what in my life makes me happy (and therefore what I need to fix), but it has also revealed the complete conviction of how I want my life to be. I think the only true way to determine whether you are on the right path in life is to question how often you say to yourself ‘let’s get this over with.’

This test has given me clarity. I know that I have to deal with a lot more ‘let’s get it over with’ days before I can be a full-time writer and go back to school. But, so long as I know what it feels like to look forward to a day of true purpose and happiness in what I’m doing, I’ll make it.

The important thing is to not get caught up in the ‘get it over with’ days out of habit and fear of making a change. I guess that will be an even bigger test I’ll put myself to in the  coming months.