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Locked PhilosophersNotes

The Dhammapada

The Sayings of Buddha

A core text of Buddhism, The Dhammapada literally means something along the lines of "the path of truth and righteousness" and is packed with wisdom. In this Note, we'll take a quick look at some central tenets of Buddhism (like the Four Noble Truths, nirvana, and the eightfold path) and soak up some Buddha mojo on how to rock our wisest lives.

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The Way of the Bodhisattva

The Way of the Bodhisattva is one of the classics of Buddhism that teaches us the key elements of the Bodhisattva—one who has dedicated his or her life to serving the world and releasing all sentient beings from suffering. In this Note, we’ll check out the importance of cultivating bodhichitta (an “awakened mind”) and how we can do it. (Hint: It’s all about “diligence in virtuous ways”! :)

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The Undefeated Mind

On the Science of Constructing an Indestructible Self

How'd you like to have an undefeated mind while constructing an indestructible self? (I'll take 'em!) Alex Lickerman, MD shows us how--blending Western science with practical Eastern mysticism in this powerful book. In the Note, we'll explore how to find your mission and turn poison into medicine.

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Buddha’s Brain

The Practical Neuroscience of Happiness, Love & Wisdom

Rick Hanson is a neuropsychologist and meditation teacher and this book delivers on its sub-title, delivering a practical look at the neuroscience of happiness, love and wisdom. It’s packed with Big Ideas on the science of how our brains work and he shares a broad range of various practices and guided meditations to help us re-wire our brains. Good stuff.

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Wherever You Go, There You Are

Jon Kabat-Zinn is a Professor of Medicine at the University of Massachusetts and one of the world’s leading advocates for mindfulness training. He’s demonstrated the phenomenal health benefits of integrating meditation into our daily lives and in this Note we’ll learn about meditation—what it is, how we can rock it and what we can gain from doing so.

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Peace Is Every Step

The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

A humble Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most revered spiritual leaders on the planet. This book is a collection of wisdom from his talks and private conversations and is packed with peaceful wisdom. In the Note, we’ll explore Big Ideas ranging from the importance of our breath and what he calls “mouth yoga” (aka smiling :) to how we can practice engaged mindfulness.

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No Mud, No Lotus

The Art of Transforming Suffering

Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the world’s leading Buddhist monks. He is a true master and it’s a joy to connect with his powerful wisdom. I picked this book off the shelf after fires nearly burned down our town. It felt like a good time to remind myself of the fact that the good life is not—and cannot be—exclusively “good” times. Want a beautiful lotus flower? Embrace the mud. No mud, no lotus. Want a wonderful, flourishing life? Embrace the challenges. No challenges, no flourishing. Big Ideas we explore include: suffering goes with happiness, lotus flowers don’t grow in marble, feed the good stuff, the first thing to do when suffering strikes (breathe!), billions of funerals/b-days every day, the two arrows, and why the Buddha meditated after becoming the Buddha.

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The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master and one of the world's leading spiritual teachers. In this great book he teaches us how to access the power of quiet in a noisy world. Big Ideas include bringing awareness to the "Four Nutriments" we consume, tuning in to the right radio station in our minds and creating an island of self.

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The Miracle of Mindfulness

An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation

Written in 1975, The Miracle of Mindfulness is one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s earliest books. It was originally written as a long letter to one of his main staff members in South Vietnam—encouraging him during very challenging times to continue their work of “engaged Buddhism.” It’s beautifully written and packed with wisdom. Big Ideas we explore include what qualifies as a miracle (hint: it’s ALL a miracle), choosing to sit or stand but avoiding the wobble, how to balance on top of a bamboo pole and three questions to ponder.

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Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm

A Vietnamese Buddhist Zen master, Thich Nhat Hanh is, essentially, a living saint. In this great little book, Nhat Hanh delivers his essential wisdom on how to navigate the storms of life with more grace and poise as we cultivate fearlessness/nonfear. Big Ideas range from breathing in the moment, reflecting on interbeingness (= huge), and enhancing our energy of mindfulness and concentration.

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Buddhism Day by Day

Wisdom for Modern Life

Buddhism Day by Day is a collection of thoughts from Daisaku Ikeda, the leader of Nichiren Buddhism and one of the most respected Buddhist philosophers alive whose work has inspired millions around the world. It’s a very ENGAGED form of Buddhism that I love. Big Ideas we explore include: True enlightenment, making a vow, the real optimism, repaying debts of gratitude, nourishing our soul and how to measure our true worth.

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The Buddha in Your Mirror

Practical Buddhism and the Search for Self

Looking for the Buddha? Cruise on over to your mirror and you'll find him (or her). YOU are the Buddha and this book shows us how to realize that fact and live from that awareness. Big Ideas range from rockin' your swan legs and cleaning your face to become who you are truly are.

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When Things Fall Apart

Heart Advice for Difficult Times

Pema Chödrön is a Buddhist teacher and prolific author with an incredibly strong, yet compassionate and grounded perspective. This book is all about facing challenging times with courage as we lean into our fears and grow. We'll explore a bunch of Big Ideas on everything from why we should meditate to how long the process of actualizing takes (roughly the rest of our lives :)!

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The Places that Scare You

A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times

We've all got places that scare us and in her great book, Pema Chodrön helps us shine a compassionate light on them. We'll explore some Brilliant Ideas including the fact that being mad at someone and holding a grudge is kinda like eating rat poisoning thinking you're going to hurt the rat. Not so much. We'll also look at idiot compassion and the practice of rejoicing in others' good fortune and other wonderfulness.

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An Eight-Week Plan for Finding Peace in a Frantic World

Mark Williams is one of the world's leading authorities on applying mindfulness to cognitive therapy. In this great book, he teams up with Danny Penman to help us find peace in a frantic world. In the Note, we explore the what and why and how of cultivating our mindfulness. And, bonus, we get our raisin mind rockin'!

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Everyday Zen

Love and Work

Charlotte Joko Beck was the founder and former head teacher at the Zen Center in San Diego. I bought this book 10 years ago but it wasn’t until Eleanor recently pulled it off the shelf and dropped it on the ground that I picked it up and read it. (Very Zen, eh? lol) The book is a collection of edited talks Joko gave at her Zen center. It was published in 1989 when she was 82. (She passed away at 94 in 2011.) Fun fact: Joko started practicing Zen at 48. She went on to become an influential figure in the American Zen movement, founding her own approach called Ordinary Mind. So… If you feel a little “behind” in any aspect of your life, take heart! :) The book is packed with Big Ideas and I’m excited to share a few of my favorites with some practical wisdom we can apply to our lives TODAY.

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Beyond Religion

Ethics for a Whole World

I got this book after Ray Dalio strongly recommended it in Principles. It’s always a joy to read the words of a wise master. The Dalai Lama’s incredible thoughtfulness, humility, and grounded wisdom is inspiring. Big Ideas we explore include how to rethink secularism and create an ethics for a whole world, moving from knowing to doing, emotions (helpful or not vs. feel good or bad), contentment (material vs. mental), plus some meditation tips.

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Constructive Living

Outgrow Shyness, Depression, Fear, Stress, Grief, Chronic Pain. Achieve the Goal of Constructive Living - To Do Everything Well

Dan Millman (author of Way of the Peaceful Warrior and other great books) introduced me to this book as he's been deeply influenced by David Reynolds' integration of Zen Buddhism and Western Psychotherapy. In this Note, we'll explore some Big Ideas on how to live with greater self-mastery by more effectively relating to our emotions and consistently asking ourselves: "Now what needs to be done?!"

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The Art of Taking Action

Lessons from Japanese Psychology

Greg Krech is one of the world’s leading teachers of Japanese psychology. This book integrates three core facets of the work he has done for the last 25+ years: Morita Therapy + kaizen + Naikan. Big Ideas we explore include understanding what is within our control and what is not (hint: thoughts and feelings are not; behaviors are), how to create momentum in your life and the importance of constant incremental improvement.

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Big Mind Big Heart

Finding Your Way

Zen Master Genpo Roshi spent decades figuring out how to best help people develop enlightened awareness and came up with his revolutionary process called "Big Mind." In this Note, we'll take a peek at some Big Ideas from the Zen Master including how the root of suffering (dukkha) is getting stuck in one perspective and how that's about as effective as having a Maserati stuck in first gear. We'll also explore the place beyond idiot compassion as we become integrated human beings giving ourselves joyfully to the world.

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#320 You, Buddha and Your Fundies

Why Buddha Kept Meditating Post-Enlightenment
In No Mud, No Lotus, Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that when he was a young monk he thought the Buddha never suffered. Then, as he matured, he
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#301 Just a Drop

Little by Little We Fill Our OptiPot
In one of our coaching sessions, Phil suggested I add “Just a drop” more energy to a certain aspect of my life. Just a drop. Not a
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#302 A Drop of WD-40 for Your Mind

Sanskrit Says: Dukkha vs. Sukha
In our last +1, we talked about adding “Just a drop” more energy to a part of our lives that could use some attention. Again, we don’t
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#310 The 2nd Arrow

Quit Shooting Yourself with It
In No Mud, No Lotus, Thich Nhat Hanh tells us that suffering is a part of life. You can’t create a beautiful lotus flower without some

#82 Suffering = Pain x Resistance

An Important Lesson on How to Reduce Suffering
In her great book Self-Compassion, Kristin Neff shares a little equation that can help us reduce our suffering. It goes like this: Suffering
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#53 Little by Little

The Buddha on How to Optimize
One of my favorite gems from the Buddha is this wisdom: “Little by little one becomes evil, as a water pot is filled with water. Little by
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#248 Limitless Qualities

And Their Enemies: Near and Far
In our last +1, we talked about Aristotle’s Virtuous Mean. As it turns out, Buddhism has its own take on the same idea. Let’s take a
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#887 Lightbulbs in the Temple of God

Less Graffiti, More Shining
In our last +1, we talked about Joseph Campbell’s koan: “What am I? Am I the bulb that carries the light, or am I the light of which the
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#497 Poison into Medicine

The Ultimate Alchemy
Continuing our “let’s create an indestructible self” theme (!), here’s another way Alex Lickerman encourages us to think about it in
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#579 Zen in the Art of Spartan Spear Throwing

Choosing a Practice As a Portal to Optimizement
Alexandra recently got Steven Pressfield’s newest book called The Artist’s Journey. Sub-title: The Wake of the Hero’s Journey and the
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#603 The Golden Buddha: Part II

The Historical Reality + The Parable
Not too long ago we talked about The Golden Buddha. I always thought it was a beautiful parable about the fact that we’re all already
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#467 Buddha on: Making Arrows Straight

Carving Wood and Irrigating Water
In our last +1, we talked about Aristotle’s Doctrine of the Mean. With diligent, patient, and persistent practice, virtuous activity of
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#951 Deepak on Superheroes

The Buddha, Bodhisattvas and You
In our last +1, we reminded ourselves of the fact that the ancient Greek word for hero didn’t mean “tough guy” or “killer of bad
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#578 Creating a Confident, Dignified Life

Running into Buddha and Confucius at the Local Grocery Store
The other day I was waiting in line at our local grocery store. It’s kinda like a mini-Whole Foods. Note: There were no horses tethered in

#279 Teflon vs. Velcro

We’re Wired to Hold On to Negative Stuff
Rick Hanson is a leading neuroscientist and mindfulness teacher who wrote a couple great books: Buddha’s Brain and Hardwired for
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#631 Your Golden Seeds

Take Them Out of the Packet and Plant Them!
Not too long ago, we talked about the Golden Buddha. In fact, as you may recall, we talked about him twice. First, I thought it was just a
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#321 How to Center Yourself

Make It a Game - Here’s How to Play
Michael Gelb is one of the world’s leading authorities on creativity. He’s also an aikido and qi gong master and best-selling author of
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#1123 Gotta Do It?

Might as Well LOVE It!
We’re in the process of selling our house while buying another. As part of that process, I’ve been on the phone a lot more than
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#66 Warriors vs. Librarians

Let’s Not Just Catalogue these +1s, Let’s LIVE Them
Our last +1 was about a modern-day warrior, Georges St-Pierre. Let’s talk about old-school philosophical warriors for a moment. In his
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#636 The Royal You

Wake Up and Find Yourself a True Prince(ss)
Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote Self-Reliance in 1841. (For curious souls, he was 38 at the time.) Among many other notable and quotable passages
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#946 Thought Alchemy

How to Change One Thought for Another
In our last +1, we talked about my new go-to mantra: “Thank you.” You try it out yet? Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank
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#375 You, a Farmer and His Horse

A Zen Fable on Good and Bad Luck
Once upon a time in a land far away, there was an old farmer. This man had a horse. Then, one day, his horse ran away. All the neighbors
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#870 How to Stop Worrying

And Start Living (Hint: Spit on Your Hands and Get Busy!)
At this stage, most people have heard of Dale Carnegie’s uber-bestselling book How to Win Friends and Influence People. It was originally
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#496 An Indestructible Mind

The Creation Of
In our last +1, we talked about inviting the Conquering Hero to your mind-wandering party and escorting out the Suffering (Whiney) Martyr.
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#1097 Legitimate Suffering

Let’s Allow It and Stop Multiplying It
In our last +1, we talked about falling UPWARD and the fact that life will (hate to continue to break the news to you) involve suffering. I
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#83 Name It to Tame It

How to Tame the Gremlins
In our last +1, we talked about the fact that Suffering = Pain x Resistance. I briefly mentioned one way to reduce our suffering—simply
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#452 The Space

Between Stimulus and Response
Viktor Frankl was a remarkable human being. He was a leading psychotherapist before suffering the horrors of Nazi concentration camps. He
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#84 Rumination

It's Time to Quit Chewing on Your Mental Cud
While we’re on a roll with how to reduce our emotional suffering, let’s talk about something you want to quit doing: ruminating. Science
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#705 The Psychology of Pain

Want to Endure More Pain? Science Says: Brace Yourself
Continuing our exploration of how to endure the pain of walking over burning (psychological) coals in pursuit of the upper limits of our
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#779 An Increasingly Healthy Mind

Sam Harris on the Real (Near) Goal
Sam Harris is a very smart and very wise man. As you may know, he’s part neuroscientist, part philosopher, part mystic. In his great book
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#583 The Little Things

Aren’t So Little
Jerry Rice was one of the greatest (American) football players ever. He was a wide receiver known for his astonishing work ethic and
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#1270 Spray Painting Leaves

Wise Gardening for Mind Body and Soul
In our last +1, we hung out with some scientists and doctors who decided to test whether or not FOOD prescriptions would be more
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#396 Impermanence

"Anicca, Anicca, Anicca"
Continuing our fun little recap of wisdom picked up at an S.N. Goenka Vipassana retreat, let’s talk about impermanence. We’ll do so via
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#393 Work Diligently, Patiently and Persistently

And You’re Bound to Be Successful
In our last +1, we talked about the power of blissipline. Bliss + Discipline = Boom! When I think about bringing discipline to our lives
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#395 Strong Determination

How’s Yours?
Continuing our theme of S.N. Goenka-inspired wisdom, let’s chat about something he calls “Strong Determination.” First, context.
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#394 Start Again

And Again and Again and Again…
In our last +1, we talked about the renowned Vipassana meditation teacher S.N. Goenka and his mantra: “Work diligently. Diligently. Work
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#392 Blissipline

Bliss + Discipline = Secret Sauce
Michael Beckwith coined one of my favorite words: blissipline. Two parts: Bliss + Discipline. This brilliant thought from Beckwith captures
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#462 The Thread Thru Your Head

Pull It Up for Poise and Relaxed Power
On June 8th, 2001, I was on the back patio of my apartment a block from the beach in La Jolla, California reading Michael Gelb’s How to
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#409 It Is What It Is

The Power of Loving What Is
Byron Katie wrote a great book called Loving What Is. We talked about her before in the context of making sure you stay in YOUR business
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#399 Bonzai Trees, Goldfish, and You

How to 100x Your Awesome
Today we’re going to chat about bonzai trees and goldfish and you. Alan Cohen puts it so perfectly (in his epically named book Why Your
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#398 The Parable of the Talents

Using Yours?
In our last +1, we talked about a wise daughter-in-law who planted her seeds and reaped a bountiful harvest. Another great teacher once told
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#397 Seeds of (Metaphorical) Corn

You Planting Yours?
We’re on a roll with some mindfulness wisdom via Goenka, so here’s one more story. Once upon a time an Indian woman with a large family
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#365 Fingers and Lectures

Remember: Attend Your Own Lectures
Please extend your pointer finger and shake it as if you’re lecturing someone — saying something like, “You shouldn’t do this, this
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#364 Ink Blobs & Emptiness

What Do You See When You Look at That Blob of Ink that Is Life?
Today we’re going to talk about ink blobs and emptiness. First: Have you ever heard of Rorschach tests? Basically, psychologists can sneak
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#307 You and an Elephant

A Parable About Blind Guys and Perspective
In our last +1, we talked about you and your donkey and the fact that you can’t please everyone all the time. Continuing our theme of
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#306 You and Your Donkey

A Parable on Trusting Yourself
Have you ever heard the story about a guy and his son and their donkey? It goes something like this. A long, long time ago in a faraway land
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#20 How to Stop Thinking

The #1 Tip on How to Master this Important Lost Art
Patrick McKeown is one of the world’s leading experts on optimal breathing. When I interviewed him recently, he made a very interesting
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#11 Psychological Flexibility

A Hallmark of Happy Humans
Dan Siegel is one of the world’s leading mindfulness / neuroscience / interpersonal neurobiology experts. Dan tells us that the healthy