Just sitting still unplugged – quieten the monkey-mind – find true peace – Pico Iyer

From Open Culture (great site!)

There is a certain kind of thinking that the Buddha called “monkey mind,” a state in which our nervous habits become compulsions, hauling us around this way and that, forcing us to jump and shriek at every sound. It was exactly this neurotic state of mind that Leonard Cohen sought to quell when in 1994 he joined Mt. Baldy Zen Center in Los Angeles and became a monk: “I was interested in surrendering to that kind of routine,” Cohen told The Guardian in 2001, “If you surrender to the schedule, and get used to its demands, it is a great luxury not to have to think about what you are doing next.”

There at Mt. Baldy the journalist and cosmopolitan raconteur Pico Iyer met Cohen, unaware at first that it was even him. In his short Baccalaureate speech above to the 2015 graduating class of the University of Southern California, Iyer describes the meeting: After showing him fond hospitality and settling him into the community, Iyer says, Cohen told him that “just sitting still, being unplugged, looking after his friends was… the real deep entertainment that the world had to offer.”

At the time, Iyer was disappointed. He had admired Cohen for exactly the opposite qualities—for traveling the world, being plugged into the culture, and living a rock star life of self-indulgence. It was this outward manifestation of Cohen that Iyer found alluring, but the poet and songwriter’s inward life, what Iyer calls the “invisible ledger on which we tabulate our lives,” was given to something else, something that eventually brought Cohen out of a lifelong depression. Iyer’s thesis, drawn from his encounter with Leonard Cohen, Zen monk, is that “it is really on the mind that our happiness depends.”

Iyer refers not to that perpetually wheeling monkey mind but what Zen teacher Suzuki Roshi called “beginner’s mind” or “big mind.” In such a meditatively absorbed state, we forget ourselves, “which to me,” Iyer says, “is almost the definition of happiness.” Cohen said as much of his own personal enlightenment: “When you stop thinking about yourself all the time, a certain sense of repose overtakes you.” After his time at Mt. Baldy, he says, “there was just a certain sweetness to daily life that began asserting itself.” Iyer’s short speech, filled with example after example, gives us and his newly graduating audience several ways to think about how we might find that sense of repose—in the midst of busy, demanding lives—through little more than “just sitting still, being unplugged” and looking after each other.

via BoingBoing

Related Content:

Ladies and Gentlemen… Mr. Leonard Cohen: The Poet-Musician Featured in a 1965 Documentary

Young Leonard Cohen Reads His Poetry in 1966 (Before His Days as a Musician Began)

Leonard Cohen Narrates Film on The Tibetan Book of the Dead, Featuring the Dalai Lama (1994)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

Author: Roger - Dr Roger Prentice

Now I write, teach & coach mainly about interfaith as inter-spirituality - and how we can grow closer to our True Self. . As anyone who knows anything about IPF will realize my energy is curtailed - so I am concentrating primarily on 'inter-spirituality'. . In the past I would have said that: . 1) I run courses and give talks at conferences and in universities and colleges in the UK, China, USA, Canada, Scandinavia etc. . 2) I provide materials, outlines and lessons for Schools. . 3) My range of interests include personal development, learning and teaching, photography and film, the arts generally, spirituality and educational practice and theory. . 4) At the same time I continue developing the human-centred studies SunWALK PDS (People Development System) - a whole-person, high-achievement model for individuals, and for use in, NGOs, schools and other organizations. . 5) The key question that continues to animate me and my work remains, "What is it to be fully and positively human?" . Contact me via onesummit AT gmail DOT com (replace At with@ etc.). . All good wishes Roger (Dr Roger Prentice) . For those interested; My first degree is in English and Education. My masters is in Adult and Community Education. My doctorate presented a new holistic meta-model of education called SunWALK.

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