Your own prowess tends to make a difference at times - try to aim for that as you go on. One of the neat aims of living is to live well and tame little. And it can be of the utmost value to learn how to recognise in time, and perhaps also concentrate in time too.
Learn Theron Dumont's great and good points on concentration in the art of living. These teachings or suggestions tie in with deep meditation (Sanskrit: dhyana, Japanese: Zen). In some cases it can increase one's efficiency. And it can be a very beneficial practice. Here are selected instructions:
"Your very best for long is optimal output, not maximal output"
GREAT work can be accomplished by every man if he can be awakened to do his very best." - TD
COMMENT. What should be understood by "doing his very best"? A boat at top speed does not last long because of the strain that goes along with the speed. A boat that is not "doing its best", but perhaps 70 percent of its top speed, can last considerably longer and thus accomplish more and serve better. It depends on the time at our disposal.
There should be a lesson in this: Doing your very best is not doing your maximum for long. In other words, doing your best should most often mean optimal output, not maximal output. This is so because doing one's utmost - maximal output - wears and tears fast and much. Do not over-exert or strain yourself, then; think of the long run and what can be accomplished by more sense and less hurry. Consider that "the human vehicle" - the body-and-mind - may be fatigued, depleted, fatigued, stressed and struck with a lot of diseases because of stress. Combat stress, including the stress of "doing your very best", if you understand that term in a less than passable way. "Doctors estimate that emotional stress plays an important role in more than half of all medical problems." Many psychosomatic diseases are wholly or partly due to ongoing stress. [Smith et al 2003, 505]
The value of skilful acts. In order not to get slowly stressed and diseased, slow down, learn to relax, and train yourself calmly, methodically. These are sound measures that can help after some time. As you train yourself calmly you have to get more able, or skilled. That could help. Buddha says, in fact, that five pleasant things can be gained by acting skillfully:
These five things are welcome, agreeable, pleasant, and hard to obtain in the world. Which five? Long life . . . beauty . . . pleasure . . . status . . . rebirth in heaven . . . If they were to be obtained by reason of prayers or wishes, who here would lack them? . . . The disciple of the noble ones who desires long life should follow the path of practice leading to long life. In so doing, he will attain long life, either human or divine (Similarly with beauty, pleasure, status, and rebirth in heaven)." [Anguttura Nikaya 5.43]
Going well against dukkha and handling life fitly. Pretty much boils down to "Do what it takes." That is where training in getting proficient may offer help. A very common alternative nowadays is getting stressed, burnt out, and diseased without having enough control. Relaxed, ongoing awareness is a good help. Bring it into your eating, interactions, work situation, whatever. Such a fine approach combats stress and pains, dukkha. The Pali word is translated into both "stress," "unsatisfactoriness," "suffering", and more. A particularly needed derivate of one of Buddha's main tenets is "There is stress involved in living; but put a stop to it (not to living, but to undue stress)."
Birth is dukkha, aging is dukkha, death is dukkha; sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief, and despair are dukkha; association with the unbeloved is dukkha; separation from the loved is dukkha; not getting what is wanted is dukkha. In short, the five clinging-aggregates are dukkha." [Samayutta Nikaya 56.11]
Rahe's and Holmes' top stressors. Buddha's words about dukkha are solidly relevant for stressed people today too, and the recurrent stress (emphasis) on getting skilful in his teachings is ein gefundenes Fressen, a titbit. There is much to learn from him, that is certain.
The US researchers Rahe and Holmes devised a much used stress scale. It is one way of stipulating the stressors (dukkhas) in an average American's life. On their scale the most stressing event is death of one's spouse (assuming he or she was all right to be with in the first place). As you may see, people do not see eye to eye here either. Some are actually relieved by the death of their spouse, but many taboos hinder full expression of joy in such cases. Mourning is normally called for.
And so on for the other top factors of their scale. People and circumstances differ. Averages are still useful, and may bring helpful indications, but need to be taken with a pinch of salt. Another reason for that, is that people react to stress (dukkha) differently. Stress-management helps, stress may be handled better by knowledge and skills, and different persons differ in their general stress resistance. However, by knowledge, learning to work with ease enough, picking a fit partner, getting money enough for your work, and so on, you improve your odds and may lead a far better life than if you do not.
Exerting oneself and stress management. Buddha also talks for exerting oneself. It has to be suitably done, with as little strain as possible, or strain-linked dangers may be brewing. Hence, when Theron Dumont claims that "Great work can be accomplished by every man if he can be awakened to do his very best," the key word is "awaken". Get a clearer view, get an education, become rational, in part by education, learn to be attentive and relaxed here and now, and go for better insights. In the end such measures may help. They do help some.
Also consider that at times top speed could be needed. The strain from it has effects that often run deep, weakening the depth of man (and boat), so make sure to take time to relax in between and recuperate too. It is in the art of living.
"In, Out, and Both"
Meditative living flows along with the main rhythms of life. You absorb, you expel, you live by such interchanges, basically.
There you have it - two grand avenues staked out for beginners. One makes use of sensible amounts of awareness to turn inside, the other mobilises focusing on targets in the world. And you should know how to combine the inward-turn with outward accomplishments. That is advised in some yoga schools too.
There are many outlets, and there is no need to become discouraged or hurried - if you find yourself unable to hold your thought on the subject very long at first. There are very few that can. But you may find quite soon that your skills develop if you take up a meditation method like TM (Transcendental Meditation), or Hong-so and go further. Practice can lead to excellence. [Cf. introductory words by TD in The Power of Concentration.]
Twenty Minutes Twice a Day
It can be of great value to know how to concentrate, if you have nothing better to do. Through fair play that harms no one or very, very little, many evolve stayer ability and enlarge their focus. Then, some try to make the greatest success of anything by focusing on a main idea they need to kep up with for some reason. The hunting cat does that. It also knows how to relax much and often. It comes naturally.
It is very wise to look to a cat to understand that concentration needs a "victim". The target is the victim outside Zen training, and much one-sided focusing (control) should be coupled with loose, lax living in between in order to enjoy life from day to day. Some appear to ignore and next "forget" that corollary - and neither ignoring nor forgetting a thing like that is wise.
This hinted at, let us go on to see into concentration. It can and should be handled as an art. It is done that way in one of the major schools of Zen, called Soto Zen. That school is marked by much sitting. One method consists in staring without thought on a white wall - use a calm surface, then, for these sessions, if you find you could use them. The regular drill is often 35 minutes for each sitting, and maybe twice a day could suit you. With TM it is about 20 minutes twice a day for beginners.
Once you make progress in the art of concentration without objects, you may apply it on objects. And what next? It depends.
Who is well able to concentrate utilises all constructive focusing prowess and masters the art of "ignoring" noice of the environment - for he wants the target more. There is a whole lot to be attained through handsome concentration. It may not look like much while deep in a regular session, though: Eyes glaring like those of a cat that sees its victim, that may annoy others - you never know -
A HOPEFUL writer-to-be once approached George Bernard Shaw at a party and tried to make the celebrity read a manuscript to find out if the aspiring one had talent. Shaw did not look at the manuscript.
Great encouragement - it could be best to have nothing of it. Moderate encouragement can be OK though. If you cannot stand aloof from the opinions of others, take care. Writer fights are very hard, in part independent of others.
Do Things for Yourself, and Your Doings May Not Be All Wasted
"DO IT FOR YOURSELF FIRST AND FOREMOST - BUT SUCH GOINGS MAY NOT GET EASY" - And maybe you find encouragement from others as time goes by. It happened to the world-famous humorist Astrid Lindgren (1907-2002), one of Sweden's greatest writers ever. She saw that the thing she was involved with, was to humour and entertain the Child inside her. If that Child does not like what you are up to, and hardly finds it interesting and smart, think better, no matter what "major others" decree.
Now, another point is fit to bring to your notice as well: Remain a sense of proportions. Fair artists strive for that - not just through the arts they are recognised through, but most of all through how they live and regulate their lives throughout. Perhaps a bit opposed to that sanity-linked point of view, some recognised artists may be said to grovel in the dirt, shabby and unkempt, while they try to pinpoint this and that onto some minor segment of what is in front of them, through the art they are involved in. Some may also be labeled black sheep of the family. The "black cat" is a smoother term than "black sheep" in this setting.
Speaking of black sheep that go too far and fall victims to ruses, misleading guidance, ensnaring plots of others that try to get the best of them: We should not let things like that happen to you. Learn to focus better. Keep things in perspective and manage things better as you grow. That often helps, and could function well all life through. We advocate it. And from this you see you have to find out many things yourself, at least ordinarily.
As they say: "Concentration may bring a way". Maybe not. That happens too. A sense of balance and perspective helps. What is the big art that most other arts are kept inside? The long art of living (along - day by day, week after week, month after month, year after year throughout a life). Many great choices may help that course. And interestingly, such helping choices may not look big at all. Yet they can be helpful if they serve the regulated, balanced fare that eases things and allows one to build up reserves of more than one kind for a rainy day.
We can be completely controlled by our concentrated thought. What about this one?: One man's opportunity is usually another man's loss. Concentrated thought is often helpful, like an encouraging tonic. It should be utilised the same day, then, by putting forth some effort in a direction that is interesting or even better.
Through concentration on reading, some get good grades, and also get more prepared for jobs that help easy living, good living and things like that matter. Your services and sincere interests both could profit for getting upgraded, for once you reach a top of your career, there is only one way to move - downhill. Having hobbies, interests and friends that mean a lot to you somhow, can and should help you as the downhill phases of life and career sets in. Mature living is the mark of having attained the phase that goes before going downhill.
Manage balances such as the ones above, and you may succeed in having a good life, all in all. What is more, maybe you kan revivify yourself and someone of your kin by getting into your natural, big talents and evolving some of them at the very least. It can be largely revivifying to learn the arts. Maybe not all of them, but fondness of what you are doing ties in with evolving properly. See to that. Maybe you possess a gift or something else that others do not. If you can succeed through making use of things like that, learn to consider real well before you take actions. Good old Plotin once thought that activity is due to lack of contemplation. Think about it -
A sea of sharks - that is what business life resembles to many. In the realm of business, just a few succeed the majority fail: nine out of ten started business enterprises in Norway flounder, according to official statistics.
Often persons fall victims to bad ones. In such cases law and justice often fail too. And the statistics is not encouraging in these waters either. So learn to take very solid precautions, no matter how things appear at the start, and much can be saved that would otherwise go down the drain later. It pays to be prepared. Here is Murphy's Law: If anything can go wrong, sooner or later someone will see to it that it does. Bulwarking is basic help against that, along with other sane measures and precaution well in time. It helps.
Most artistically gifted students may fail too, if they need to make money from their developed artistic prowess. That is due to market plots and how life often runs for many artists. Some get recognitions after they are dead, most may not get much recognition even then. A few get it, and some of their works get prized over and above what is natural - all due to market mechanisms in the realm of "having art" to flaunt by and better.
Mental strength may stand and withstand many unwelcome repercussions from going ascance or deviating from bad ones. By deviations the route opens to the Palace of Hard Knocks. By surviving faulty steps and those of others, some learn up to a point. By learning and pinpointing it, we arrive at wise adages that can be fit for brave beginners. They often need sound warnings by experienced elders and the like, including textbooks.
The person unable to concentrate never accomplished a great deal, and those that learn to inspect and consider beforehand many avenues that open up, may derive benefit from the art of contemplation, much as Plotin suggested. Forethought is helpful. "Look before you leap" is standard British counsel too.
Concentration can be developed. If your fields are not fertile, the farmer has to get frugal. And, likewise, there is more need to cultivate special plots instead of "sailing along" in a ripe, fertile field of a very lush, attractive tract.
You have perhaps found out that masculine man is said to plough a woman - liken her to his field of labour. Some find it excellent to judge his capacities for loafing through a simile like that. This outlook can be enlarged on. Does the one you are married to own her own castle? Are her fields full of vines and flocks of cattle? Are there more than a couple of millions in her bank accounts? Hope to get rich through ploughing a "fertile field" like a man to bring changes into you living - rather welcome ones, we dare say. Who knows what otherwise could happen -
It is halfway glimpsed through this that the need to concentrate happens to speak of less welcome surroundings than what we have an inborn right to as sons and daughters of the formative couple in paradise.
One who is able to concentrate much, may gain power to control the minds of others. The Yoga Sutras describe how to. At any rate, some persons have a more powerful influence than others. Some become visible leaders, others not. With greater prowess and enlargening opportunity one may become influential for good and bad. One of the best ways to influence another is to try to keep your inborn facilities intact, hold your own fort, and try to get all-round exercise. It could work for some decades and make life better, if not all fit.
Big guys very seldom want to be explicit about the huge costs of bigness.
Big guys tell you what they want
Probability calculations can bring great benefits into lives, regardless of possible dangers. One is to take sane precautions accordingly. Sane measures should not be forsaken by those that take up yoga either.
"Lif is one continuous unfoldment." [Theron Dumont]. Well, maybe it is not unfoldment or unfolding most of the time; perhaps most of what is done really is a fruit of habit. Keep a sense of meaning and relate your doings to it, as one prize to pay for not being whole-heartedly oneself mainly and most of the time, could be lack of congruence, boredom with life and hankering for the god and other assets of others.
And what is more, a jolly good genius does not have to be sinister and lacking in day-to-day competence.
How may you otherwise inspire confidence in others? Undo the tricks and repercussions of whatever errors you can as you go on or progress. Affirmations need better tenets to cement in your psyche than light swindles. Note that the best instructor will help you survive and next flourish. Good things, ample outfits and funds may be needed to make a business survive, and that is how it is with a sound and healthy family too. You should like what you are doing. Many of Buddha's counsels to lay followers are excellent. [LINK]
Count the future and inward costs of swindles if you can
There are some who apparently need to thrive better. To do so, there is at times a need to relax from straining exercises and programs, and learn to cope better. In time it could help, if you also learn to bulwark.
If you try hard to do less so as to get more aware, you could end up tense. That is not clever. You may learn to see a lot better by also looking a bit around from time to time. That could help and bring such half-blessings as the sight of flowers along your path. And try a little at first to taste things with care and consideration. You have to gauge many sorts of doses and influences on you yourself.
The entrance to greater awareness is here: "Listen out" laxly in the hereness and fasten that sense of awareness if you can, much like a light bulb. It ties in with being yourself well. Enlarging awareness is good for some.
Day-to-day habits help a lot too
Why not look into this "corollary" as well: Consider so well that you learn to thank the right ones for blessings in your life. Do not thank the "God" by whim if real persons are the ones that favour your fare, after all.
A little concentration on lines that offend fool's play and idiotic customs might help among some welcoming peers somehow.
GIST. Study the long-range costs of many things if you can
Deep meditation along with skilled output should be good for you, if others are fair - but not all are, so take care too. Much research into effects of Transcendental Meditation, TM, shows it improves health and mental outputs of various sorts. As you bring accumulating good effects into your life, be thankful.
Don't let intense concentration activity foster a thrombosis.
You have to discern which of the paternal statements above could suit you, in what sense, in what way(s) and how far and when. There are many things to consider. I have pointed out some of them. Sadly, very much of a citizen's day-to-day living is ridden by much inferior sides to living than good ones. A hint: living out fair and decent values tends to make happy so long as you protect yourself and family against most conform ones that strive herdlike for largely low-grade values. They dominate. Still there is hopefully much apart from protecting rain forests you can do to improve life too.
1. Amount to something good. God knows how.
2. Get great profit for living on - "Many persons read good books, but say they do not get much good out of them." [Theron Dumont] To remedy it, try to meditate a bit in between to get profit out of texts you study too.
3. Look to the good in yourself too without wasting time on it. - "One of the most beneficial practices I know of is that of looking for the good in everyone and everything". [Theron Dumont]. You can start with yourself and keep at it too, it is suggested.
It is not wrong to go for benefits in life, so long as a righteous fare is there; try to live out some higher values as fit along the road of life, Buddha explains.
Do not drop giving adequate attention to yourself and what is yours. Skills in getting within and working and functioning otherwise, can help you. Good circumstances, fit and fair associates are boons too, and Buddha's key teachings. Learn to live by the Way, and you may come to be well worth welcoming arms and affection.
Dumont, Theron Q. 1918. The Power of Concentration. Chicago: Advanced Thought Publishing Co.
Mieder, Wolfgang (main editor), Stewart A. Kingsbury, and Kelsie E. Harder. 1996. A Dictionary of American Proverbs. (Paperback) New York: Oxford University.
Shrand, Joseph A., with Leigh M. Devine. 2012. Manage Your Stress: Overcoming Stress in the Modern World. New York: St. Martin's Press.
Smith, Carolyn D., ed, et al. 2003. Hilgard's Introduction to Psychology. 14th ed. Belmont: Thomson Wadsworth.
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