Hi all,

I created a new podcast with my friend and colleague Morgan Watt. If you like Daily Zen, I think you’ll enjoy it.

You can listen here.


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It’s easier than ever before to plug yourself into the news matrix and get 24/7 push notifications for dreadful headlines about whatever stuff your ideological biases predispose you to obsess over.

This new highly-advanced information delivery system is obviously dangerous and unhealthy. I try to read the news a few times a week, usually relying on three link dumps: one left, one right, one center. If bias is unavoidable, we might as well try to understand the various lines and where they intersect.

On every side of this multi-dimensional coin there’s mostly sensational bad news. But it’s funny — maybe 10% of the stories I read are positive and uplifting, with no real bias whatsoever. Whenever I see these I sigh and thing, “Why isn’t there more good news?” The weirdest thing is that these ‘good’ stories come across as the most sensational of all, precisely because they’re presented as being so uncommon. “What?!? Good news???”


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Magritte, The Lovers (1928)

I could write a 1000-page listicle about all the countless oddities of modern life. Most of us can acknowledge that it’s weird living in a period of such complexity. Everything we think and do is influenced by micro-bits of information we acquire in the strangest of places throughout the day. As the systems delivering these bits of information grow more intelligent and nuanced, we’re left with a more chaotic spectrum of thoughts to process.

Romantic life is especially vulnerable to these influences. Sit through enough rom coms, primetime dramas, op-ed pieces, quote tweets and Reddit posts about love and you’ll eventually end up feeling condemned to confusion. What the hell is love, anyway? …


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Empty your mind of all thoughts.
Let your heart be at peace.
Watch the turmoil of beings,
but contemplate their return. Each separate being in the universe
returns to the common source.
Returning to the source is serenity. If you don’t realize the source,
you stumble in confusion and sorrow.
When you realize where you come from,
you naturally become tolerant,
disinterested, amused,
kindhearted as a grandmother,
dignified as a king.
— Tao Te Ching, Ch. 16

Meditation is ‘boring’ by all conventional modern standards. I mean, you’re just sitting there. To an observer, you appear to be doing nothing. …


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“The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy without fighting.”
— Sun Tzu, The Art of War

Ok, read the above quote. Replace ‘war’ with ‘conflict’, subdue with ‘calm’ and ‘enemy’ with ‘challenger’, all synonyms.

The supreme art of conflict is to calm the challenger without fighting.

Simply put, it’s about retreat.

In the spiritual community, a ‘retreat’ is when you spend $3000 to go to rural California for a week, live in a hot tent and do group meditation therapy or DMT with a bunch of rich strangers. But what does the word ‘retreat’ really mean?

In the West, we have a hard time acknowledging the potential transformative value of retreat. We view it as weakness. We’d rather burn alive than withdraw from battle. We have world record numbers of sports riots, corporate downfalls and failed foreign interventions to support this thesis. …


Daily Meditation: Organization

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Marie Kondo is very in right now so I figure this is a relevant topic to discuss.

In Zen monasteries, every single organizational detail is meticulously accounted for. Nothing is undone, nothing is overdone. Essential tasks are tended to with absolute care. Different monks are given different responsibilities. But everything is cleaned and organized with consistency and care. Floors are swept, items are placed in their appropriate location, dishes are scrubbed, meals are cooked, and not a grain of rice is wasted. Clutter is non-existent. If an object does not bring value, it is not acquired.

Why?

The common answer is “a cluttered desk is a cluttered mind”, but there’s more. As laypeople, we think of meditation as its own activity, something we do when we aren’t doing something else. But if you actually do meditate, you find ample opportunities to apply mindfulness to other activities in your life. In this sense, everything is meditation. Every conversation, chore, work task and walk in the park is meditation. It’s all-encompassing. …


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My new book is out! It’s a 180-page illustrated journey through Zen. I’ve worked on it for a few years. It is the culmination of all the work I’ve done with Daily Zen, and I spent a lot of time trying to distill everything I’ve written about into a concise and playful interactive text. I hope you enjoy it!

Order links:

Amazon

Books A Million

Barnes & Noble

Indie Bound

Penguin Random House


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Self-care has become a popular term in recent times, almost a meme of sorts among overworked millennials seeking refuge from the various hurricanes of self-doubt and judgment they’re perpetually exposed to. Yoga. Health food. Spiritual vacations. Exercise. Meditation. Baths. Juice.

This ethos of self-care has been commodified and amplified to such a point that we tend to indulge in it as if we live in some sort of progressive bohemian utopia. In truth, we’re a new lost generation, born of 24/7 commerce, tech, and endless war. All the forces we’re conditioned to tolerate do not know how to stop, let alone move along with tact. On a practical level, many of us feel we have no choice but to work and consume constantly, with bosses, co-workers and partners maintaining endless contact with us through digital communication mediums. …


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When I was writing a recent short article about self-ownership, I started thinking about the idea of ‘borrowed time’. It’s a figure of speech simply meaning ‘limited time’, but the concept pops into my head once in a while when I think about work and action.

We tend to see time as a resource. The popular phrases ‘borrowed time’, ‘time is money’ and ‘wasted time’ all signify this idea of time as a finite commodity. Everything concerning who we are contributes to how we view and use our time. A more effective use of time reaps a higher reward. …

About

Charlie Ambler

Founder of @dailyzen and Strike Gently Co. Meditation, self-inquiry, and self-mastery. Est. 2008

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