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Insights from neuroscience, non-dual mindfulness, and psychedelics to upgrade your awareness. For gigs or just to chat, get me at

Consciousness, Mindfulness, Neuroscience, Psychedelics.


My 6 Best Stories:

What I Learned About Self-Care From 2 Grams Of Psilocybin

‘Waking Up’ Is The Most Important Book I’ve Read

Something Awaits On The Other Side Of Meditation

Don’t Die Without Tasting These 3 Powerful Benefits Of Psychedelics

How Microdosing Psilocybin Detaches Your Ego And Reveals Your Peace

How To Handle Stress Like A Dzogchen Master Handles Panic

What I Write About

Our minds are all we have. They’re the filter through which we receive our reality. The thread of the cosmic fabric we’ll inhabit until the day we don’t.

It’s integral to a good life that our minds are pleasant places to be. …

The secret’s in spontaneity.

Michal Jarmoluk from Pixabay

The student asked, “what is Zen?”

Old master Hiakajo replied:

“When hungry eat, when tired sleep.”

Adyashanti (born Steven Gray) practiced Zen meditation for years before awakening.

In his conversation with Sam Harris, he describes his hardcore meditation schedule from his 20s. This guy was hitting the cushion twice a day, for 2 to 3 hours at a time. He was totally committed. Yet Kensho (“Ken” = “seeing”; “sho” = “nature/essence”) eluded him.

One day, Steven went to his meditation station, a small hut out in his teacher’s garden. There he sat, concentrating, trying yet again to transcend. But he…

How an exploration of the self can help us discover peace.

Joseph Kosuth, 1965 | MoMA

Consider the installation above. It was presented by Joseph Kosuth, an American conceptual artist, in 1965.

According to one site, Kosuth wanted his audience to wonder which representation of the chair — the built chair, the image, or the enlarged dictionary definition — best represented the essence of “chair”. Which was most accurate?

These open-ended questions are exactly what Kosuth wanted us to think about when he said that “art is making meaning.” By assembling these three alternative representations, Kosuth turns a simple wooden chair into an object of debate and even consternation, a platform for exploring new meanings.


Why Koans are a gateway to awakening.

Patou Ricard from Pixabay

A thin film divides you from awakened consciousness. The world as it is — without egoic contractions or illusions — is right on the surface, waiting to be seen. Koans are the way to see it.

A ‘Koan’ isn’t a riddle. It’s not an intellectual problem to be solved. Indeed it subverts the whole notion of a problem with a solution.

Each Koan sources back to a Zen master, who would bring on awakenings for students by its expression. Some are in word form, some not. For example, when one master was asked about awakening, he’d simply hold up a…

Become intimate with not knowing.

4144132 from Pixabay

The experience we’re inviting with Practical Awakenings isn’t accessible through knowledge.

You can’t figure it out. There’s nothing you have to do. And there’s nothing you need to know.

A long time ago, a Zen student visited monasteries for a few years, seeking awakening. After three stormy nights at one of them, the resident Master asked what he was doing. The student said he was on a ‘pilgrimage’. And when the Master asked him what that meant, the student realized that he did not know.

The Master responded to this by saying: “not knowing is most intimate”, and the student…

Learning where it is will better your days.

Giani Pralea from Pixabay

Imagine yourself standing in a park, looking at that tree. Where’s your mind?

I walked along the riverside as the morning mist cleared, searching for a suitable bench. There, in the midst of a leaf-covered park, I found it.

I sat down, assumed the Zen posture (lower spine extend!), and sent the voice of Henry Shukman into my ears. This day I practiced with Koans: opaque statements, inscrutable memories, and inexplicable fables from Zen masters that capture the essence of awakening.

Here’s an example: “what is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Let your thinking mind grapple with that. Stay…

Did you know there’s another side to all this?

Khusen Rustamov from Pixabay

There are two sides to your world, walled by a hazy veil. On either side is a mirror image that looks the same but hits so different.

On one side is the darkness of ignorance. Here, you’re swept up in the illusion that you’re the self. Try as you might, you cannot escape the chattering mind. Its thoughts are your thoughts, and the more you resist the more identified you become.

In the darkness, little makes sense. There is no context to your agitation, no explanation for your dissatisfaction. Yet you’re agitated and dissatisfied, the ever-sought remedy always out of…

Muddy water — let stand — becomes clear.

Sasin Tipchai from Pixabay

This piece marks an experiment. It is so for me, having never tried to guide readers to awakening with words. So by going with me on this, you’re experimenting too. For that, I’m grateful. Let’s have at it and see how we go.

“The search for who you are begins with letting go of everything and seeing who or what is left.” — Loch Kelly

Become still, notice one deep breath, and read on. Hang on the end of each sentence, implement, and flow on.

Begin here, where you are.

With eyes open and vision wide, absorb the space.


Integrating the View of Rigpa into your daily doings.

Adina Voicu from Pixabay

The practical training of the Dzogchen path is traditionally, and most simply, described in terms of View, Meditation and Action.

To see directly the Absolute state, the Ground of our being is the View; the way of stabilizing that view, and making it an unbroken experience is Meditation; and integrating the View into our entire reality, and life, is what is meant by Action. — Sogyal Rinpoche, The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying

The View

You begin in marigpa — ignorance. That is, ignorance of how awareness could be. …

A map to your freedom.

Aritio from Pixabay

Your mind has this “mode” defined by profound wisdom, clarity, and knowing. Why it isn’t your default is a matter for another piece, but this mode is there — behind the curtain of your distracted mind.

Loch Kelly, in Shift Into Freedom, calls this mode “awareness-based knowing”: a state of wisdom built on “awake awareness”. When you wake from the illusion and tap into the profundity of Zen-like awareness, wisdom comes.

To be clear, you don’t get new knowledge in this state. You don’t solve quantum gravity by waking up. It’s wisdom you access — complete self-understanding.

Now, according to…

Michael Papas

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