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Questions and Answers

Since the distribution of our first, short edition, we have received many questions asking for clarification and expansion on certain topics. In this web page, we have included some of these in brief. In some cases, we have combined or re-organized questions to be more concise and clear. The responses to questions related to technical aspects of the Here & Now meditation method are based on the actual experiences of practitioners.

Even though we have tried to avoid discussing spiritual beliefs, we have received quite a few questions on spirituality. These questions indicate common concerns and needs, and thus, we have extended a small part of the book to answer them. We have gathered the responses to these difficult spiritual questions from many spiritual masters throughout the world and have re-organized into the brief answers below. Hence, you might at times recognize and notice differences among people and traditions in the responses. However, the different backgrounds of these responses do not change our main goal—in these questions and answers, our goal and focus remain the same: to eliminate suffering.


Below are excerpts from the Q&A section of the book:

  1. Trying To Achieve Stillness

  2. If We Don’t Think, Are We Reduced To A Lower State Of Being?

  3. “Wordlessness”

  4. Combining With Other Meditations

  5. Diminished Senses During Meditation

  6. Diminished Breathing During Meditation

  7. Falling Asleep During Meditation

  8. Stillness Versus “The Zone”

  9. Re-Living An Emotional Event

  10. Reliving Pain—Can We Erase Memories Permanently?

  11. Meditate To Express Love And Forgiveness

  12. Can We Change Our Own Opinions?

  13. Can We Change Our Personality?

  14. Dealing With Loneliness

  15. Eliminating Envy And Jealousy

  16. The Pain Of Another’s Silence

  17. That’s It—Period

  18. I’m Right. You’re Wrong!

  19. The Arts Of Being Non-Reactive, Being Silent, Listening, And Being At Peace

  20. The Mind And Society

  21. Injured Pride

  22. The Mind And The Act Of Suicide

  23. The Right Not To Cultivate

  24. Giving This Book To Others

  25. Applying These “Lessons”


Who’s Doing The Talking?

Q: When practicing the Here & Now, who is telling the mind, “The body is here?”

A: Listen attentively to what your mind is currently talking about. Observe where it is running back and forth to. That very “person” who is doing the listening and observing is the person who tells the regular mind, “The body is here.”

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Trying To Achieve Stillness

Q: During meditation, despite all of my efforts, I can’t seem to enter the state of Stillness. My mind is so active. What should I do?

A: “Trying hard” to enter the Stillness is still an effort, a struggle. Instead of struggling with the mind, we just know that the universe is Stillness. Then we can dissolve ourselves into that Stillness that is everywhere. Completely let go of the body and thoughts. Feel the body sinking into that “sea” of Stillness and peace.

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If We Don’t Think, Are We Reduced To A Lower State Of Being?

Q: If I am not supposed to think, does this mean I am being reduced to the consciousness of plants or rocks?

A: The mind in Stillness is completely aware, serene, and fully functional. Its “non-thinking” state means that it is unaffected by automatic, habitual, random, and reactive thoughts and emotions. In this state, the mind does not lose its awareness and consciousness—in fact, awareness may even be heightened.

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Q: The idea of “wordlessness” is difficult to understand. How can we convey ideas without words?

A: Wisdom and knowledge usually come into being without words. Even if we are using words to understand something, we often have flashes of understanding unaccompanied by actual words. As we try to translate these ideas into our spoken or written language, we are most likely falling short of their complete meaning. Although it seems silly to try to describe the state of wordlessness using words, we must do so here to facilitate understanding: in Stillness, or wordlessness, the mind is in a state of childlike innocence which does not name, analyze, or prejudge. This mind perceives everything as new and as is.

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Combining With Other Meditations

Q: Should we combine the Here & Now with other meditation disciplines?

A: There are meditation methods that teach you to pay full attention to all actions by walking gracefully, eating slowly, speaking humbly, using kind words, shutting doors gently, etc. These are methods that help keep the mind focused and keep us aware of what we are doing. These use outer calmness to induce inner stillness. The Here & Now method aims directly at inner Stillness which inevitably reduces outer activeness. Because these are very different approaches, we would advise that they be practiced separately even if they seem very similar.

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Diminished Senses During Meditation

Q: Why do the bodily senses often seem diminish or even absent during this meditation?

A: When you enter the state of Stillness, you can become less aware of the body because your mind no longer pays attention to particular sensations. The mind is in a state of awareness of the being as a whole. In this state, time and space can also seem suspended. This is a state of deep restfulness for both the body and mind.

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Diminished Breathing During Meditation

Q: Why does breathing slow down during meditation? Is it harmful if breathing decreases to a very low level?

A: When the mind and body are in a certain state of rest, the oxygen oscillation in the body is higher than that of the normal non-meditative state. The body is using oxygen more efficiently than usual. During meditation, oxygen intake can decrease noticeably. Perhaps this is one of the reasons why some yogis can stop breathing for an extraordinary amount of time.

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Falling Asleep During Meditation

Q: Many meditation disciplines prohibit falling asleep during meditation. However, the Here & Now meditation advocates complete relaxation of both mind and body which can easily lead to sleeping. In fact, some people find this meditation particularly difficult in which to remain awake and alert. Should we try to avoid falling asleep during meditation?

A: The Here & Now meditation purposely leads us to the state between being awake and asleep. This state is a gateway into the subconscious. It’s also a gateway into deep Stillness. In the beginning phase of cultivation, the practitioner experiences deep Stillness in this state. Later, the practitioner will experience a much more profound Stillness where the practitioner emerges into an alert and aware state, a state of “pure consciousness.” The “drowsy” state is a necessary beginning step. To avoid falling asleep, try meditating after a good rest. Although you want to avoid falling asleep during every meditation, a few lapses are understandable and are not a major problem.

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Stillness Versus “The Zone”

Q: Is the experience of Stillness in this method similar to the athlete’s experience of “the zone”?

A: The experience of “the zone” occurs when the athlete’s body crosses the limits of the conscious mind and touches the “higher mind,” enabling one to perform extraordinary bodily tasks. The experience of Stillness can also reach this same higher mind, but it is achieved only through the state of complete mind- and self-surrender. Thus, these two approaches are quite different. Once we’ve achieved a Stillness where we tame the ordinary mind and only use it at will and as needed—instead of automatically and indiscriminately—we can learn to reach this higher mind to tap into its potential.

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Re-Living An Emotional Event

Q: Why is it that even though I am telling the same painful past event to others, sometimes I feel untouched by it, yet at other times I just feel as much pain as if I am living the event right there and then? What exactly is my mind doing here?

A: When we talk or think about an event of the past without feeling the past emotions, we are standing as an observer. If we feel the old emotions, we are indeed “re-living” the part being recalled by the mind. In order to step out of this “re-living,” simply take a deep and slow breath and enter into the Stillness of the Here & Now. In this Stillness, we will not “re-live” any part regardless of whatever the mind is doing. Whether talking about, reconstructing, or retrieving its memories, the mind will not be able to touch our inner peace.

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Reliving Pain—Can We Erase Memories Permanently?

Q: Is there a way to permanently erase emotional pains from our memory so that we would not have to continuously cope with them?

A: Our mind records memories by linking the content of the memory with the emotions we felt at the time, especially if they were strong or negative emotions. This is why when we recall an event of the past, we usually feel the same emotions again. While we can’t erase our memories, we can separate them from the negative emotions that have been stored along with them. We also want to “neutralize” these emotions so they no longer evoke painful feelings. Once this is done, whenever the mind sees or recalls past events, we no longer have to “relive” the associated emotions, too.

How to separate past emotions from past events: Enter the Stillness using the Here & Now method and silently instruct the mind to enter its subconscious and separate that emotion from that event. Then, completely let go of all thoughts and re-enter deeply into the Stillness for as long as possible. Next time, recall the particular event. If your mind still recalls the painful emotion to some degree, exercise the method again until you are completely free from the associated emotion. If you still feel the need to neutralize the emotion itself, see instructions in Chapter Two of this book.

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Meditate To Express Love And Forgiveness

Q: How can we use the meditation to express love and to forgive others?

A: In order to forgive someone, we would first need to declare our intention to ourselves: we are ready to open our heart to forgive. Next, we make this intention known to our subconscious. Since the language of our subconscious is mostly images and feelings, we do this by visualizing images of our heart opening up to release the bitterness and anger we have had against the people involved. We visualize and feel these feelings dissolving into the vast nothingness. We feel our heart being light, tender, and peaceful. Then we let go of all thoughts and enter into the Stillness of the Here & Now as deeply as possible.

In order to use this meditation to cultivate or express our love, we use the same process as above, except we would visualize ourselves emitting and feel the feelings of tenderness, care, compassion, tolerance, affection, and peace toward the people involved. Then, remember to relax, let go of all thoughts—including the intention, images and thoughts just created—and enter into the Stillness.

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Can We Change Our Own Opinions?

Q: There are opinions that we think we should not have but are difficult to change. How do we change an undesirable point of view?

A: Changing a physical habit requires the learning of a new desirable habit which takes at least a month to establish. However, changing an opinion of the mind only takes a few minutes:

How to change an opinion: Enter the Stillness using the Here & Now method, silently declare that you have decided to change a certain opinion, then let go of all thought, and re-enter into the Stillness for as long as possible. You can test your improvement by thinking of a previously contradicting opinion to see whether the mind raises objections. If it still objects to some degree, repeat the above method to gradually quiet the stubborn mind.

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Can We Change Our Personality?

Q: Many people believe that our personalities are permanent or very difficult to change. “I’m hot-tempered, and I always require strict propriety. Many people call me fastidious.” Or, “I’m very organized, aggressive, and take-charge—what some may call a Type A personality.” How would a person change certain traits about themselves?

A: While society tends to believe that personality is innate and fixed, some Eastern religions and many Western psychologists and sociologists believe personality is at least partly the result of the knowledge, opinions, images, and habits that the mind has gathered and stored. Some of these religions even argue that the mind has collected this information over the course of many lifetimes. Hence, when you resort to violence in thought, speech, or action, this may be because your mind recorded examples of these during your childhood with your parents, with your friends, on T.V., etc. The mind uses information that it has gathered—information that often comes from misinterpretation—and creates thoughts and reactions, which we and others perceive as our permanent, innate personality. It is when we identify the mind as ourselves that those stored images, opinions, knowledge, and habits gain the power to influence us and become our “personality.”

To change our traits, we must first recognize that we are not only our minds. The mind and its patterns are just a small part of us—a part that we can regain control over and change so that it no longer controls and dictates us.

How to change our “personality”: Enter the Stillness using the Here & Now method. Declare your decision to change your “undesirable” traits. Using images and feelings, present the “desirable” traits. Then let go of all thoughts and re-enter the Stillness as deeply as possible. Repeat the above process until you are satisfied with the results.

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Dealing With Loneliness

Q: One of the most difficult emotions to deal with is loneliness. Is there a way to make coping with loneliness easier?

A: The concept of loneliness is closely related to two other concepts: aloneness and emptiness. We usually feel loneliness when we are alone—but not always: we sometimes feel lonely even while in a crowded room. This is because we feel a kind of emptiness. Sometimes, we can be alone but not feel lonely, particularly when we are enjoying a solitary activity. Loneliness, then, is a perception of a situation: It is the mind’s perception of how we stand in relation to other people. Many of us fear being alone. This fear is created by the mind, as is the feeling of emptiness and loneliness. We do not need to fear being alone. The state of Stillness quiets the mind and allows us to feel contentment whether we are enjoying the company of others or the company of our selves. The Stillness also allows us to realize that our selves are full and never empty.

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Eliminating Envy And Jealousy

Q: Envy and jealousy seem like very natural emotions—but they can also be very ugly and damaging. Should we rid ourselves of these feelings? If so, how?

A: Envy and jealousy come from the mind’s perception of ownership, of lack, or of injury to the self. We may be envious because someone else’s career is more successful. In this instance, the mind perceives others’ success as its own failure or as injuries to its own ego and self-worth. This misperception hurts both us and those around us. We need to teach the mind to rejoice in the joy and happiness of others. We can do this by placing our whole being in others’ situations and feeling their emotions. We can then enter the Stillness to quiet the mind and allow us to feel more joy for others.

We may also be jealous because we think that a person—or that person’s love belongs to us. We often feel this way because the mind perceives a feeling of lack within the self. This lack, or need, makes us search of affection and love desperately. In this search, we may try to appropriate others and their affections by claming ownership and by demanding from them. To deal with this kind of jealousy, we have to first realize that true love is limitless—it does not demand or constrain, and it is not bound or restrained. Each person has boundless love within the self and boundless love to share with others. To deal with the mind’s misperceptions, we need to make the mind realize and experience self-completeness. We can do this through the Stillness—the Stillness allows us to realize our own completeness and love within us.

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The Pain Of Another’s Silence

Q: In an argument with friends and family members, I often feel the most bothered when the other person is silent, or appears indifferent. This silence can sometimes hurt, frustrate, and anger me even more than conversation. Does this have to do with the mind?

A: Think of some past arguments that you’ve had where you were angry first. There was probably a point in the argument where the other person became angry, too, and then stopped speaking and turned away from you. How did this make you feel? How did you react?

Silence is a powerful and often-used weapon in relationships—both consciously and unconsciously. Here, we need to understand what is happening on the level of the mind on both sides of the argument. In the example above, you probably approached the other person. The other person’s silence can often be scary because it is a kind of rejection. Our mind fears rejection, so we approach the other person. Or, you might have reacted by retaliating with your own silence. Why? When we use silence as a weapon, we are often using it to punish other people, to reject them, to make them speak first, to make them come to us. It is a subtle way to gain control and power during interaction with others. However, remember that this manipulation is a trick of the mind. The mind wants control and power because it often feels helpless and needy. A person using silence as a weapon may not be intentionally doing so—the person may not be able to help it because the mind is in control; it is in autopilot. The mind feels fear, panic, and neediness and then reacts to comfort itself by trying to draw comfort out of the other person. And either the other person relents or begins another cycle of the power struggle.

Both people involved in this conversation are trapped in this cycle because of their minds and their minds’ control over their emotions and actions. The cycle can only stop when one person stops reacting with the mind. And one can only stop reacting with the mind when one realizes a Stillness and completeness inside.

There is another kind of silence that can be extremely devastating: the end of an intense relationship without explanation. The human mind has a dire need for explanation when it comes to emotional and pride injuries. It needs and seeks one that comforts and eases the pain. The dead silence at the end of a relationship can cause the mind to react by accusing the other person or by accusing the self. Given enough time to writhe, the mind can eventually proceed to feelings and actions of violence to the self or others. Perhaps we shouldn’t focus on the way in which a relationship ends but on the fact that it has ended instead. Relationships must end when they are destined to end. How a relationship ends is a manifestation of that destined ending at that time. We must ask the mind to let go of its need for explanation and justification so that we can move on and be at peace with our past because, sometimes, we may never get that explanation.

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That’s It—Period

Q: Once I stepped out of a pagoda, I heard a beggar’s pleading so I immediately pulled some money out of my pocket. Then I looked at him. He appeared to be a healthy young man. I was surprised and wondered whether I should give the money to him. Why? Why not? What if I don’t? Or if I do, would I be an “enabler”? Would he be laughing at me for being so gullible? My mind kept on wondering… How should I have handled the situation?

A: It’s not our goal to decipher the philosophical pros and cons of the act of charity; instead, our goal here is to understand and simplify the mind. If you instinctually want to give, then just give without a qualm. If not, put the money back into your pocket. Your mind should only know, “I see and hear the begging, and I want to give.” That’s it—period. We halt this mind from automatically analyzing, judging, examining, and criticizing. Furthermore, should you decide to give your money to someone, once the money leaves your hands, that’s the end of it—period. Don’t concern your mind with whether or not the money is being used according to your liking. Perhaps we should think of loans in the same way: once things leave our hands—whether it is money or possessions—it should no longer be our minds’ concern.

Of course, when we think it is necessary to analyze, judge, examine, or criticize, we can allow the mind to perform these tasks, but only with inner peace. If we allow the mind to habitually and automatically analyze, judge, and criticize, the mind is our master. When the mind is the master, we will find ourselves feeling emotions and reacting according to the (mis)interpretations created by this chaotic mind.

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I’m Right. You’re Wrong!

Q: When others impose their opinions on us, how should we handle ourselves?

A: An opinion is nothing but just that—an opinion. It is always the “truth” to the one who states it. This person has the right to believe in this “truth,” though. That much, we must respect. If we do not agree with the opinion, simply avoid debating; such action indicates a possible underlying inner struggle called the “you are wrong and I am right” stand-point. True peace is not only avoiding debate externally, but also avoiding it internally. Even if you can remain silent outwardly, be careful that your mind is not arguing and saying “I’m right; you’re wrong” all the while.

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The Arts Of Being Non-Reactive, Being Silent,
Listening, And Being At Peace

Q: What is true listening and true silence? How do we achieve these and true peace?

A: These arts are all different sides to the same goal and method: Stillness. You may read each as sepa-rate practices, but understand that they all work together to attempt at the same thing. Also, each practice naturally leads to the others.

The art of being non-reactive: Non-reacting is the act of making intentional actions and inactions instead of just reacting automatically to what our senses and mind perceive. Because our mind has a long-established habit of reacting, we need to be aware whenever these reactions take place. Thoughts provoke feelings, and then feelings pro-voke actions. When the mind is about to manifest thoughts and feelings in a reacting manner, we should enter the Stillness to neutralize the mind’s habitual reacting.

The art of being silent is being able to keep si-lent both externally and internally. This means that our mind is in a state of wordlessness without hold-ing any opinion or concept and without any need to converse. But when is it necessary to be silent? It is necessary when there is a chance that our talking may cause pain or may NOT bring peace and hap-piness to others. We should be silent even when we believe that what we have to say “should” be said because it is “right” and “necessary.” This belief, which is only our personal opinion, is not necessar-ily “right” to the person to whom we are talking. We should also evaluate our reasons for wanting to talk: Did the person ask for our advice, or do we just have a need to give advice or to lecture? The safest and probably most helpful thing to do is to listen in Stillness with an open heart, to practice the art of listening.

The art of listening is to listen to others atten-tively and in Stillness: the mind stays fully open without arguing, reacting, analyzing, forming con-clusions or seeking solutions. We may silently bless the speaker with peace while listening with full attention. We listen to both the spoken and unspoken messages as well as the silence behind them. This is how we connect with others. When we listen to someone in this way, the compassion, tolerance, and Stillness within us can reach out naturally to neutralize any negative emotions within the speaker.

The art of being at peace: Some people believe that the universe’s operating principles are inher-ently complete and flawless, and we are a part of that perfection. If the mind views life from this per-spective, it can truly be at peace. In this larger picture, all options available to us are inherently perfect: humans, events, and things are what they should be in that particular moment of time. From this perspective, one will be able to accept all others and all life situations as they are. This also applies to our inner world. When we look inwardly and dis-cover that there is a need for inner change, we go about changing only what we possibly can, and we need to peacefully accept whatever we cannot change.

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The Mind And Society

Q: Can our inner state of being truly affect our external world, our society?

A: Our thoughts and emotions are a form of en-ergy. This energy radiates from our bodies and reacts with the energies of other beings and bodies around us. When our mind is in Stillness, it does not experience negative thoughts and emotions so it does not emit any negative energy. The peace of our Stillness emits corresponding peaceful energy. Also, when we are not in Stillness, surrounding external energies can affect us. However, in Stillness, exter-nal negativities cannot touch our inner peace. Instead, our inner peace touches everything around us naturally. This means that we can prevent exter-nal chaos from touching our inner world but our inner world naturally affects the outer world. This is why when our mind is troubled, we can seriously compromise the stability of our outer world. If we apply this to world conflict, we realize that if we address conflicts as they arise, we only address “symptoms” of another conflict: the conflict of the individual mind. The most logical and necessary way to realize true world peace is to first find peace at the individual level in our own minds. This way, we can at least end our own contributions to the conflict and suffering in the world.

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Injured Pride

Q: When someone criticizes me, I feel incredibly hurt. I feel offended, outraged, and defensive. My mind argues constantly, even days after the inci-dent. It defends itself and attacks the critic vengefully and spitefully. Why does the mind re-act so violently?

A: The mind is probably hurt because of one or more of the following reasons:

  1. The criticism is not true. The minds felt unjustly and violently insulted.

  2. The mind was forced to face a blatant truth about itself.

  3. The criticism shattered a life-long treas-ured self-image and pride.

  4. The mind took the criticism as a brutal at-tack on the self.

These reactions are automatic responses that have to do with the mind’s sense of identity. When the mind feels attacked in any way, it tends to lash out—particularly if its sense of identity is strong. Whenever you are criticized and the mind automatically reacts in this way, you first need to separate yourself from that reaction of the mind by recognizing it as such. If you already notice these reactions as separate from yourself, you’ve already lessened the mind’s sense of identity. You can then neutralize the mind’s reactions by enter-ing the Stillness. You will probably need to repeat this process with different situations a few times for the mind to completely let go of these habitual reactions.

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The Mind And The Act Of Suicide

Q: In the act of suicide, what role does the mind play?

A: Most actions, or reactions, rather, are the end re-sult of a process consisting of thoughts, emotions, and repetition.

  • The mind faces present, real-life situations and then calls forth related images and emo-tions from past memories.

  • We re-experience negative emotions that we now associate with the present situation.

  • The mind then repeats these thoughts con-stantly making us continually experience the resulting negative emotions. This repetition builds on itself until the mind can no longer separate thoughts, emotions, memories, and the present. These all blend together to create the experience of continual suffering and pervasive pain.

  • This experience leads to (re)actions.

A suicidal person is a victim of these processes of the mind.

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The Right Not To Cultivate

Q: I am saddened by the fact that many of my friends and family do not care about spiritual cultivation. They are so unhappy and unaware, and I know it could help them—but they remain uninterested and sometimes even resistant. What should I do?

A: If we are entitled to our right to “walk the path,” others are also entitled to their right not to do so. When others see no need to cultivate, we should respect their choice. Their choice at the time serves some important purposes. Instead of feeling impatient about bringing good changes in others, we should remind ourselves that the Uni-verse allows infinite room and time for growth and transformation. As for ourselves, if we continue to feel bothered by others’ refusal to listen or con-tinue to feel a need to change others, perhaps we should pause and reflect inwardly. Do we feel bothered because the mind believes that its own standards are higher and better than others’—and it wants acknowledgement of this? Do we feel this need because the mind disapproves of others’ “shortcomings”? If we re-examine our own reasons and drives, we may—or may not— find attach-ments within our own minds that we might want to address.

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Giving This Book To Others

Q: I have found this meditation helpful so I’ve given the booklets to those who seem very un-happy. I am surprised, though, that many people pay little attention to the booklet and have no de-sire to practice it. This is very frustrating because I know it could help them.

A: If you want to give this book to others, you should first understand that once this book—or any other book—has left your hands, it no longer has anything to do with you. You have done your part. As with the previous question on cultivation, we should not let our minds make us feel bothered because other people do not do as we wish. Also, people may perceive our in-tentions quite differently than we mean. People may feel that we give them the book because we want to change them or perhaps because we want to demon-strate that we are better, or more advanced. Or, maybe they feel that we expect them to change. And we probably do, especially if they are loved ones. These perceptions may cause resentment or resistance in others. Thus, don’t expect approval from others or changes in others. Remember that all things have their own timing.

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Applying These “Lessons”

Q: The ideas in this book are easy to understand. But when I examine them closely, they are very difficult “lessons” to practice in daily life. Is it really possible to apply all these ideas and attain lasting peace and happiness?

A: We truly believe that anyone and everyone can understand these concepts, apply them, and reach lasting happiness. While applying these concepts may be difficult at first, it will become easier with patience and a little dedication. This book may have seemed to discuss many different topics and ideas, but its main point—and most important “lesson”—can be summarized in a few points:

  • First, the mind is only one part of us. We are not simply the sum of its knowledge, opinions, habits, and misconceptions—we are much more.

  • Second, this mind is so chaotic that we lose our inner Stillness. This is what causes much of our suf-fering. If we regain control over the mind, we can use it in a productive way and we can transcend the suffering it causes us. All we need to do is end our misidentification with the mind and re-establish our inner Stillness. Through this, we can stop our minds from hurting ourselves and others, and we can live lives of peace.

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