tasshin’s talking points on love, curiosity, and empowerment, spring 2023 edition 


what the universe is, fundamentally, is love, trying to understand and express and expand itself—to come into contact with that, to feel that, to live it, is to be in divine harmony with the cosmos itself, a conscious agent of its will and love

a lot of meditation is boring and painful but that’s neither necessary nor sufficient for positive transformative benefit

loving-kindness meditation is a fun, enjoyable, wholesome technique, a sane default for new meditators, and something everyone can turn to and enjoy, should return to and cultivate

the brahmavihārās are four specific frequencies of the heart that are positive and wholesome to cultivate, tried and true. learn to cultivate and feel each of them

typically one of the brahmavihārās is easier than the others for people, while another is harder. it’s fine and good and recommended to start with the one’s that’s easiest for you and work your way up to the harder one

although practicing mettā and the brahmavihārās can and often is fun, it can also be painful or challenging. ease off the gas and hit the brakes if it feels painful and challenging, and consider shifting gears to work on resolving trauma and emotional blocks instead

therapy, self-therapy techniques like IFS and Gendlin Focusing and Bio-Emotive and Core Transformation, bodywork, and other modalities are all valuable complements to traditional spiritual practices like mindfulness, mettā and the brahmavihārās, etc.

love is a spectrum, the heart is boundless, and any and all positive, wholesome thoughts, feelings, mind-states, qualities, skills can be cultivated to great effect and benefit

other positive qualities you can cultivate with the same basic strategies include gratitude, appreciation, forgiveness, generosity, laughter and humor, and more

whenever there is any pleasant, wholesome experience whatsoever, of any degree or kind, really enjoy it, savor it deeply, delight in it, soak it up

enjoying the present moment in any way is intrinsically fulfilling, but it also makes it easier to enjoy the present moment in that way in the future, so there is compounding benefit to really enjoying it

the basic strategy for cultivation practice is to use mental images and/or mental talk to bring up a positive feeling in your heart

once your heart is familiar with a positive feeling, you can directly access that quality in your heart—at which time thoughts and images are no longer necessary, but can still usefully and enjoyably flavor and intensify the quality of that love

doing the same routine every time you meditate helps you to make meditation and its techniques habitual

put the physical body at ease when you start meditating. it’s okay to feel comfortable and relaxed when you meditate. pick a posture that feels good for you, and let go of any muscle tension that’s present for you

a physical smile will incline your mind towards happiness, like a bicycle carried downhill by gravity

balance love for yourself with love for others. be sure to practice both. don’t skip leg day (loving yourself), and don’t skip arm day (loving others)

it’s handy to have an easy to love person or animal—a friend, a family member, a beloved teacher or mentor or hero, a small child, a pet—it can even be someone imaginary, just imagining a puppy or a kitten or a panda bear or even a fictional character you adore

you can even be your own easy to love person, but it can often be hard to love yourself. you may have to work up to it. never force yourself to love yourself, ease off if it’s too hard, but do give it a try periodically, dip your toes in the water to see how it feels

hold it as axiomatic that you are worthy of your own love, even if it’s hard, even if you can’t yet feel it

you may have to prove to yourself that you love yourself through your actions before any ostensible words or feelings of self-love will really resonate for you

send love to your closed loved ones, your dearest friends and family and partners. they are dear to you and they are worthy of your love

it’s also handy to have a hard to love person—an enemy, someone who hurt you, or someone you just kind of dislike. you have to honor and respect your heart’s dislike, hurt, pain, resentment, even hatred in order to be able to feel love

if you make any feeling forbidden, the feeling of love will also be banished from your heart

periodically practice sending love to acquaintances and strangers, random people you come across in your daily life. walking down the street, errands, and travel are all excellent for this practice.

notice that people are worthy of your love even if you know nothing about them and you will find a door in your heart to loving all beings

hold it as axiomatic that all beings are worthy of your love, even if it’s hard, even if you can’t yet feel it, even if you have other feelings towards specific beings

love for all beings is a feeling of mettā like any other, but it is also a stance, an attitude, a firm dedication to acting in kind ways towards all

love for all beings includes those we like and dislike, those we know and don’t, those near and far, the beautiful and the ugly, the human and the non-human, those beings living now and also beings in the past and future, those beings in this universe and any realm that may exist

when you end a practice period it’s helpful to look back and recall what happened, discerning any lessons you might learn so that you can more readily make use of them in the future

no effort is wasted, all loving thoughts and feelings are the seeds of positive consequences now and in the future—even just one loving thought is a great gift to yourself and the world

while working with negative thoughts and feelings often requires dedicated techniques, you can often make it easier and more spacious to do so by simply adding loving thoughts and feelings. it’s like adding fresh water to the messy kitchen sink

every loving thought and feeling you have now makes it easier to love in the future. like all things, love can become a habit, an instinct, a way of life. reps, reps, reps; love, love, love

the natural manifestation of the feeling of love is kindness—specific actions that manifest love for self, others, world, and all beings through behavior

the true measure of a loving-kindness practice is your actions—if you are kinder to yourself and others, and happier for doing so, you are doing it right

one loving thought a day is a minimum viable mettā practice, and everyone has time for it

as shinzen young says, buddhism has a marketing problem and it’s compassionate to find ways to spread practices and views that decrease suffering and increase kindness, love and wisdom in the world.

it’s a kindness and compassion to make love hype and pop and sexy and cool and fun

for me, the 5th precept of buddhism is, at its heart, about avoiding harm, addiction, and heedlessness.

certain substances are more harmful, addictive, and engendering of heedlessness than others, and are worth avoiding

other substances, like many psychedelics and empathogens, have net-positive effects and might be worth considering exploring

on the whole, MDMA tends to support the process of finding a sense of safety, internal harmony, self-love, forgiveness of self and others, love for all beings, and a positive orientation towards service

MDMA should be legalized for those who wish to explore it safely

MDMA-likes are very promising and worth exploring, to see if pharmacologists can find substances that have a similar positive effect profile with a better safety profile

you don’t have to sit still to practice metta and doing metta while dancing is one of my personal favorite ways to practice. i love going to a nearby park on a sunny day and listening to good music and moving my body while i cultivate love in my heart for all beings

it’d be amazing to create a genre of music specifically designed for practicing with mettā and the brahmavihārās. i have a vision for what this could look like called “mettāwave

circling is a wonderful practice for developing presence, attunement, theory of mind, interpersonal skills and relationships–but IME it’s easy for it to not feel so good and/or be hurtful. adding a little mettā practice diminishes this risk and makes it even sweeter

if you do IFS or any form of parts work, you can fruitfully combine it with mettā practice by sending love to parts of yourself that you’re working with. your parts may speak up for what they really need to feel your love!

“really enjoy it” acts as minimum viable jhana entry instructions. you don’t necessarily need to understand what the jhanas are, you don’t need to worry about whether you are or aren’t in jhana, just enjoy the pleasure in your body—bliss and absorption will come in their own time

if you can feel love in your heart, take time to express it in a way that’s authentic to you—put words to it, make art about love and kindness—share your love with the world, and it will strengthen in your heart and spread in the world

causality and magick and prayer all point to the same aspect of reality—the belief that actions have consequences, and that thoughts and feelings and intentions are also actions, so they also have consequences

the brahmavihārās and the bodhisattva vows are a wholesome form of magick, because all beings will strive to help you in your aspiration to love and serve them

time is weird and as best i can tell our hearts can feel each other across spacetime. heartspace practice is a way to explore that magickal, mettā-ful territory with someone you love and care about

make your mettā practice your own. no one can tell you in advance what thoughts and images and ways of seeing will resonate for you and your heart. explore and play and try new things, notice what works, and keep doing that

as you walk the path of love it will become your heart, filling your bones and your soul and your life, bubbling up, a cup overflowing

as more and more of your life is colored by love, so, too, will love itself be colored by you—you will find your own unique flavors and expressions of love. share them with the world, as a mettā hero—for it needs your love, the love you alone can give it

“genius” is a broken term because it is not rare and unusual, it is actually ubiquitous—flourishing is our very nature

you are and can be a genius, everyone can be a genius, that potential lies within all. its manifestation is entirely unique, its circumstances must be tenderly cultivated

your curiosity is sacred, it is a gift that is precious for you and in time will reveal itself to be of benefit to the whole world. trust your curiosity, trust your interest, trust your fascination, trust your questions

conversations are a temple for the wisdom of your curiosity, a place of worship where minds and hearts and souls can meet to understand each other and the world more deeply

cold curiosity is your ability to think of reasons to be interested in something, anything whatsoever, to generate questions you are curious about, to find curiosity about something you’ve never known anything about before and haven’t previously been interested in

burning curiosity is your inability to think of anything else, your obsession with something entirely specific for reasons you don’t yet understand, the questions your heart yearns to answer with all its love and strength and bravery and delight

your burning curiosities typically concern extremely particular topics that are deliciously, inexplicably intertwined with your life and your very nature

cold curiosity is calculating, logical, functional, necessary; burning curiosity is irrational, nonsensical, feverish, vital. cold curiosity and burning curiosity feed each other—train and cultivate both

a good question can change the person asking, the person asked, everyone who overhears their conversation, and eventually the whole world

every question is a doorway to a new world, a new way of seeing, and there are always many more questions, more doors, more worlds, more perspectives

the questions you do not understand why you are asking, that surprise you and anyone you ask them of, are the most important and transformative questions. they must be honored and asked with deep faith

the more you trust your questions, the more your questions will transform your world

you must go down many roads in your journeys to learn and grow, you must open many doors, you must come to many seeming dead-ends, you must seem to lose your way time and again

you must explore solely for the sake of your curiosity, forgetting why it matters, without even beginning to be able to give yourself a plausible account of the merits and possible benefits of what you are exploring, having faith only in your burning curiosity

you cannot know in advance what you will find, or how it will change your life, or the world—the depths of your curiosity are measured by your unknowing, your faith in the burn

explore your interests and curiosities without reason or justification, trust your heart and its wisdom, go down the rabbit holes you need to go down

only at the bottom will you discover what you needed to find—you will have new knowledge about the world, new skills to play with, and also you yourself will have been transformed by the process of trusting your curiosity

sharing what you have learned in your travels and journeys is a kindness to those learners to come, a service to the world at large, and a ripe soil for ever more curiosity, learning, growth for all

study the structure and shape of conversations, their twists and turns and possibilities, to be able to move through them more fluidly, more deeply

a good question can change someone’s whole life, it is psychoactive for the person asking and the person being asked and anyone who overhears, and those transformations ripple out to affect the whole world

questions are infinite, transformative questions are precious, and a well-ordered list of questions is incalculably powerful

it’s easy and cheap to record and share conversations as podcasts or videos and you might consider sharing some of yours for interested onlookers to overhear

it can be hard to anticipate in advance the possible benefits sharing your ideas and projects with the world will have, for you and the people they reach. share what you can and let yourself be surprised by the magic and miracles that come


everyone has a vow, a gift to give, a life purpose—it’s what you came here to do

a vow is not a pass-fail test, there’s no check-box to check—it’s not pre-destined or fated, you have agency and say in what your vow is

your vow emerges in the dance between who you are and the world you find yourself in, your desires and the world’s needs, your dreams and your circumstances

what a vow is, ontologically, is your life—the seed of intention and store of karma your soul was born with, every action you take, and the causal consequences that follow while you live and after you die

the closer you come to living your vow, the more joy you will find, and the more true benefit you will be giving others and the world through your time on this earth

ethics and psychology are the bottleneck for finding your vow, finding your vow is the bottleneck on productivity, productivity is the bottleneck on strategy, strategy is the bottleneck on effective coordination between individuals and groups for the benefit of all beings

doing a short- or medium-term service project is the best way to practically steer towards living your vow in the long-term

pick a project you can feasibly do, that will challenge you to grow, that will be fun for you but also benefit others—something you are delighted by the very idea of, that you can’t help but shout “hell yes!” at

every project is a success if you learned something and had fun doing it

generosity is a good model for the person offering a service project to the world, because it requires the honesty of knowing you genuinely want to give your time and energy to the world, that is intrinsically meaningful and joyful for you to do so, without expectation

generosity is a good model for the person giving thanks financially for services offered to the world, because they get to cultivate generosity as a virtue, and enjoy the joy that comes with saying thank you without expectation

generosity is a good model for both parties, because they get to cultivate a relationship, without a soulless, forgettable transaction

talent is not rare, it is ubiquitous. everyone alive has a vow and it is our job to recognize it in each other. assume everyone is amazing, look for how you can help and support each other, and miracles will happen

you can get very far yourself and in connection with others by assuming everyone involved will learn and grow in ways that matter as time goes on

empowerment is the process of seeing someone, reflecting what you see, encouraging their efforts, helping them steer towards their vow for the benefit of all

to see someone, the person they are, the qualities they demonstrate, the longings and shape of their soul, is a great gift to them and the world

when you see someone trying something new, taking a risk, having the courage to honor their dreams, a word of encouragement goes a long way—it validates their desire and bravery and ambition, and shapes the effort of what’s to come

the words “i believe in you” are a spell that you can choose to cast, if you hold it as sacred, if you shape its meaning, if you tie your words to your actions and your time and your energy

a service project is a quest, a journey with adventure and intrigue and risk and the discovery of new skills and lands—the whole world and your own heart change as you walk the path of service

descriptively, fun and service are linguistically distant, with very distinct, connotations—but ontologically they are deeply connected, inseparable, two sides of the same coin

if you are truly serving the world, you will be delighted and joyful, in the deep satisfaction of being fully yourself and using all your skills and gifts for the benefit of others

if you choose a service project that is truly fun for you, you will not need to force or coerce yourself into doing it, it will be a delight and a joy to work on

if you wish to be of service, to help others, to live your vow—look for what is fun for you, what is joyful and energizing, what you do not have to force yourself to do, what you would have to force yourself not to do

do that, and watch closely out of the corner of your eye for the unexpected ways in which it serves the world

there is a delicate balance to strike between choosing a service project you know you can do, and choosing a service project that you’re not sure that you can

to be of service, you cannot just plan or make the gift, you must also give it—you must complete it—so it is necessary to serve in a way that is feasible for you, that it is demonstrably possible from your skills and prior experiences that you can complete what you set out to do

a feasible project gives you confidence that you can complete it, so that you know you can, and do

an ambitious project will cause you to grow, to develop new skills and perspectives, to level up in your capacity to serve the world—and the benefit the world will receive will also grow proportionately

accordingly, it is a kindness to challenge yourself, to seek out service projects that are new and ambitious and a little scary, which will require you to grow, which will be of bigger and deeper benefit to the world

but if a project is too difficult, too novel and too ambitious, you will fail to complete it—you may grow in the process, but the world will not receive the benefit you set out to give it as a gift. so choose a project that is ambitious and feasible

a project that you find fun, which benefits the world, which is feasible for you but also ambitious, cannot fail to be perfectly shaped to you and your life. this is not a project that someone else could do in quite the same way as you—and it is one that will bring you to life

with each project that you do, see if you can find a way to do it bigger, do it better, with more benefit for the world and more growth for yourself—as if you’re playing a video game and you’re beating level after level, growing stronger and more powerful at every stage

loving people often avoid power, knowing that power wielded unskillfully, maliciously can hurt people, that power is a heavy burden and a great responsibility. this is a vicious cycle, because those who should not have power will receive it when those who should abdicate it

it is good for people who are wise and loving, who wish to serve the world and benefit it, to have power. as your inner and practical skills grow, so too should your power. it’s okay to accept the power that comes to you, and to seek the resources you need to serve the world

honor your word, protect your integrity, let your words be a promise and you will have tremendous power within yourself and from your allies to accomplish your visions, for you know you can be trusted

let every experience you have, good and bad, pleasant and unpleasant, be a source of lessons—remember what you learn, and live by it, and you will find that there are no mistakes, there is only learning and growth and improvement

pay attention to the rate at which you can complete service projects, the discernable positive benefit and causal impact of your projects, and the depth of the fun you have as you do them—see if you can increase your service project throughput over time, for great joy and benefit

true power in the world means having agency, doing things no one told you to do, things you’ve never seen anyone do before, courageously walking down undiscovered roads exploring new possibilities for joy and benefit

productivity is coercive if you haven’t found your vow, if you’re not acting agentically in harmony with your deepest values and your own highest and best life

productivity skills and systems are a relief and a delight when they’re a tool you use to live your vow—they make your dreams possible

if you have found your vow you should develop productivity skills: get to inbox zero, learn to do task management, take notes

if you are good at productivity, you’ll soon be wanting to coordinate with other individuals and groups and you should develop your strategy skills

the internet is a source of tremendous magick and power. it is a playground designed to host everyone in the world, for all to play together. play your games, live your life, find your friends, discover what becomes newly possible when you play and work and live and love together

as you live your vow, you are not alone—there are others who want to help you, who you can help—find community, stay connected to the crews and scenes and groups that will hold you in your efforts and your projects and your challenges and your successes

no effort is wasted, everything you try is something you learn and grow from—you will discover your earlier efforts returning years and decades later to be of unexpected benefit in surprising ways

everyone alive came here into this world to do something, everyone was born with a piece of a larger puzzle—find the people whose puzzle pieces fit yours, assemble them into something larger and watch the whole world benefit

when you express yourself, with your art and your words and your music and your dance and your photographs and your labyrinths and your fanfiction and your weird home movies—you give a great gift to the world

to express yourself is to show your heart, and your heart will touch people, give them peace, for they have found a home in your heart and family in you, and this is of great benefit for them and for you, it heals the world we all live in

when one person lives their vow, the whole world benefits—as more and more people live their vow, the world receives tremendous, compounding benefit, such that it transforms into something unrecognizable, what you might call a heavenly realm on this earth

maximum deep benefit—striving to benefit as many beings as possible, as deeply as possible—is a practical, strategic way to act on the spirit of the bodhisattva vows in this lifetime

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