The wedding 

This post is not rich in philosophical content or ideas. I believe it is a pretty typical thought process and nothing too noteworthy. However, I believe that it is important to continually define and redefine basic ideas and concepts that I hold. I see things in my life as continually changing and what I struggled with about these questions a few years ago is totally different than what I struggle with today.
As I drive home from Wisconsin to Florida after a fun (my definition of fun below) filled weekend. I reflect upon it and the importance of it in my life. Where and how should I place it?

A very light definition of how I am to finding fun and enjoy ability in context of this post.

What do I mean by fun? Are fun and enjoyable the same? For me when something is fun it falls into a goofing around category in which the cares of life I relinquish. Something the  enjoyable doesn’t quite peak the arousal scale quite as high as something that is fun but it’s a more steady state.

What does it mean to be happy? Is happiness a life lived of virtues? A life lived by principles that supersedes more primitive desires? Is it having fun and doing everything that I please? It almost seems like doing something fun would bring lasting happiness because one is always having fun. But for me this is not been the case. I am prone to panic attacks and because of this I am slightly more sensitive to my inner mental states. Usually after having too much fun I become upset with my behavior. On the other hand, the act of devoting to virtues, letting go of attachments, and living a more principle centered life leaves me more content inside. Life is less fun but more enjoyable. The downside to sacrifice is that I get bored. It’s almost paradoxical because I work on letting go of my attachments but I get bored. What am I still grasping at? What do still have attachment to?

How much balance should I have in my life? How much fun should I allow myself to have? Know thy self. It is a struggle for me because I know the importance of living a virtuous life on an individual, family, community and societal levels and the downfall of societies because of lack of virtues. I most certainly have noticed a huge shift in my behavior, my actions and my thought process which has shifted my perspective, or paradigm, about having fun and the enjoyability of life.

Where do I go from here? I guess nowhere really. I will continue on the path or the Journey of life. Hoping new insights and answers are revealed as I work and play with life.

1″ Deep

An inch deep and a mile wide
Wishing to be
But when I look beneath I see nothing but hollow
It is quite simple but we have forgotten how to be.
We think “being” is doing what we please but that is merely reacting to desires continuously
We walk around so unaware of the implications of the lack of “being aware”
Unaware of our thoughts that we give energy to by festering on. We merely let our mind ramble and wander all day.
We have a prosperity to focus on negative but if we can see the deep inter-connectedness of all phenomenon and we begin to understand all our blessings and we focus on thus.
This gives energy to positive things and they will begin to rise within ourselves, our family, our community…
This is not pride for we can see the downfall of pride if we understand and look deeply.

Life is practice.
Practice fail practice
Practice succeed practice

Why do this? It is my responsibility.

There is no way home home is the way.jpg

 

Them or a Me (what else could I be?)

To them I am a them but to me I am a me. However, if me is a them how could I be a me? For me is all that me can be, you see? Or will me always be a them? But I am not a them because I am a me! For if them knew I was a me, why would they say with such an non-fluctuating degree that I am them and not a me. How could them say such unkind words to me? For if me is a them and them a me shouldn’t they see that both them and me are a me? For me fear them cannot see a me, for if they did, how could they do such a thing to me? Perhaps, next time you look at them remember me.

Life, death, and Consciouness

What is life? What is death? What is consciousness? To me these questions are almost meaningless; let me try to explain what I mean. What is needed for the creation of fire?  According to reference.com ““The three elements that are needed to start a fire are oxygen, heat and fuel.Those three elements are part of the fire triangle, which illustrates the interdependence of the ingredients that are necessary to start and sustain a fire.” Fire merely arises, forms, and falls; arises, forms, and falls when the causes and conditions are met. Take away one of these elements and there is no longer fire. Now, if one of the elements of fire is missing is the fire “dead”? It is only dead if we are speaking in a very specific manner. All of our notions of what is and what is not are only relative to what we prescribe them to and outside the particular context those definitions they are meaningless. Right now I think I hear “No, duh”!!! Let us quickly go back to the fire example. We – or I should say “I” – concluded that life and death of our imaginary fire is illusory for if we look deeply we will always see that there is, and will always be, fire when the time is right. It does not die nor is it born it is there, waiting.

 

Life is always, and I mean always, in a continued flux. According to string theory (the leading contender for a unified theory of everything) states that a small vibrating “string” was a cause for creating our universe. Life is, was, and will be created in a state of continual flow and movement. It is not dead or alive it is moving. In our present of “being” we think of life and death because we see ourselves as a solid and fixed through our state of consciousness. This is an utterly false conception of who and what we actually are (or who we think that we think we are 😛 ). Back to our fanciful bonfire again. You and your friends are sitting outside on a cold brisk evening and decide to rouse a fire to warm your mitts. After you have the fire well stoked you and your friends can observe that the flames of the fire are ever shifting, moving and it is never really the “same”  flame from moment to moment, but it is always a fire; similarly, our consciousness works in the same manner. We perceive ourselves as being this constant entity like the word fire. Our consciousness is the “who”, or where this “who”, we think we are arises from. Upon close examination we will see that our consciousness is kind of a “holding spot” to “light” up some internal process within our body. Like the elements that make a flame and a fire everything within our body is in continuing flux. An itch here and there, our minds shifting from one thought to the next, blood flowing, heart beating, we are always fidgeting and shifting our positions and so on. Our consciousness only appears to be fixed to the untrained observer. But is it really? Is it really hard and concrete? Upon close examination of our own conscience what begins to emerge is that when the causes and conditions have been met it will arises, some might say this is something from nothing but I believe this too is a false notion – nobody really knows what the cause and conditions are for consciousness or what consciousness actually is. Before all the causes and conditions are met consciousness is not dead or alive it is there, waiting (1). Because we are untrained at observing we duped and fooled into believing that we are fixed, as a result we fear, hate, have greed, and become victims. From this confused state we linearly piece together our whole life and create our story (a question to reflect upon, what in life is linear?). We are surmised and bamboozled into notions of birth and death but these are absurdly narrow views; additionally, these terms only apply in the most limited context.

 

As we begin to see life in a few of the manners described the ideas of life and death fade and what is left is beauty and wonder; we begin to see everything in flux and moving about; we begin to see who and what we really are. Our feelings, finally, are just feeling that arise and fall. Our feelings are not who we are but are fleeting and temporarily based on causes and conditions and habitual tendencies. We are free because we are no longer tethered and enslaved to these false conceptions of reality (being free doesn’t mean these feelings and emotions are no longer present) . One could say that for that first time we truly get to exercise our liberties as human beings.

 

I encourage you not to trust or believe anything that was explained but examine for yourself. More than likely it will take time and practical experience. At very least you can begin to read, while practicing, and learn intellectually while simultaneously gaining experiential knowledge. As you learn, both intellectually and experimentally, this paradigm that was spoken about will begin to be clear.

 

The best way that I know how to begin observing is by meditation. The type of meditation is simply sitting there watching things come and go in a non reactive manner. Here is a list of a few applications that can assist you with your practice (below). If you are looking for some book hop on the Google machine and do a little research and just jump in.

 

  • Buddhify
  • Calm (one that I’ve used in the past)
  • Headspace
  • Mindbody Connect
  • Meditation Timer Pro
  • Omvana
  • Smiling Mind
  • Take A Break
  • Insight Timer (one that I use now). If you join look me up: James from Lehigh Acres

 

1) I said, “consciousness is not dead or alive it is there, waiting.” I wanted to clarify because, right now, I don’t give much credence to the notion of consciousness as something that is physical or has its own identity, though I do like to toy around with that idea. I was using that term “there, waiting” more abstractly. There is a thesis on panpsychism that some might be interested looking into if you are exploring various areas of conciseness.

What Is Emptiness And Why It Can Change The Way We See Reality

A little under two years ago I underwent a journey of change but when I reflect and try and recall the moment it began it becomes almost impossible to locate. How about you? Can you recall a major life changing moment in your life? Can you truly pinpoint the day/moment? Think about it for a second, can that idea that brought about change really stand independent and be pinned down? When I really start to examine and look for that moment closely it begins to become unstable and shifts further into the past and every other direction. I think, “Oh, actually this happened first.” I then quickly realize it was preceded by an early event, and I am going to speculate that if you look hard it will become increasingly difficult to pin down your moment.

So what is emptiness anyway? You may vaguely recall hearing it tossed around in old kung-fu movies, or maybe you heard the term no self. Emptiness is lacking an intrinsic independent self, or in other words no “I” can be located, no self. If you think think there is an independent self I will ask you to locate it. Where is it? Where is this “I” that we so often speak of? Point to it. Your brain? What region in your brain does it reside? Can your brain operate completely independent? Is it your whole body then? Can you live completely independent (in a space of nothingness)? What about aspects that allow you to live, like air? So maybe this “I” is the air, but Co2 is converted to O2 by our trees, which live because the soil, water, sun and a wide variety of other ecological and biological factors, and on it goes.

If you sit down and ponder emptiness for a moment it really is easy to see and understand intellectually. What begins to emerge is a vast interdependence. Seeing that you cannot live independently; seeing zero degrees of separation between us and everything else; seeing that “I” becomes blurred; seeing that there really is no self and when you try and locate it (the self) it shifts upon examination.

All our thoughts, feelings, ideas, and our very being are not really ours if you look at it through the lens emptiness. Our feelings belong to our ancestors that have been passed down through the generations. The feelings and emotions we carry are their feelings and emotions; we carry their torch. Our thoughts and ideas are formulated by tens of thousands of factors, some internal but most are external factors. Just ponder that for a moment… Again, this is very easy to see and understand intellectually but merely knowing this for a moment here and there will not really change anything. What will alter your life and create change is practice seeing permanently through this paradigm. I enjoy seeing life this way as I know I am not simply believing something that may or may not be true. I can validate this paradigm with direct personal experience. As you begin practicing and begin see the world through this lens more and more you will have more love, compassion, understanding, empathy, feelings of well being, connectedness, be slower to anger, and a variety of other wholesome attributes arise naturally (don’t expect permanent changes overnight).

A couple of ways to start practicing.

  • Start every morning out with 5 minutes of analytical meditation (purposeful concentration)
  • While driving contemplate on the roads while driving: think about absolutely everything that is involved in making the roads: city planning, engineering (blacktop and cement are inventions too), man hours to make and maintain the roads.
  • Contemplate while eating about the entire process of having this food in your house: from seed to home.
  • Walk in nature and contemplate on your breath and everything involved with providing you oxygen: trees, soil, bug, insects, water, sun, seeds, storms, and so on.
  • Have a mindfulness bell chime , every hour, half-hour, or less. Upon the chime contemplate on emptiness.

A Change Is Going To Come… Oh Yes It Will

What is change?

It is to make or become different.

But how do we make or become different? What is it that changes or becomes different?

elephant.jpg

It’s almost quite strange and paradoxical because if you ask a person they say change is possible; however, I often hear terms like, “this is who I am” or “that is just my genetics” or just flat out “I can’t change” “I’m too old to change” from the same person or people that confesses change is possible. Right now you might think, “I do not think nor would I say such a thing.” I ask that you truly take a moment and reflect or at very least carry this idea with you and next time you have a conversation on a similar topic; examine your thoughts and your words and see what comes into the mind.

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If we are of the mindset that we cannot change and ‘we are who we are’, my question I would like to pose is: why do anything? Because at this point nobody can change, things are the way they are, and trying to change the outcome is completely futile. Right now you might be thinking, “This is absurd I most certainly can change or have influence on the outcome!” I would like to ask how can you change the outcome? Is not the outcome a conglomeration of individual action? Based off the assumption that you cannot change, how is it that you can invoke change on an unchangeable person? Is it not your action on the situation that influences an undetermined outcome, or at least creates small amounts of influence on the outcome? Who or what are you influencing? The new outcome is forged by unchangeable individual’s, right?

illusion


This is so absurd that I think we can agree that you are not who you are, you can change, your genetics do allow for change, you’re not to old, and brain plasticity allows one to form new neural pathways. Maybe this is what we meant, change is slow and sometimes so slow it’s almost unnoticeable thus giving the illusion that we cannot change nor affect change. Additionally, we cannot always see and notice the reminisce of our actions on others and even how the actions of others on us influences change on us. It’s like micro changes on us and we create tension in our environment leading to micro influences that affect others.

This is the heart of the matter: you can and do change, though it comes slowly, not always easily, and most of the time left completely unnoticed giving the illusion that we don’t change.

Pardigm

If we look closely at change through this paradigm what might become apparent is our behavior does create change and it does have an impact on others. We can begin to see the importance of our action (think micro change and micro influence). Think about someone that inspires you, why do they inspire you? Is it because of what they say or what they do? At first words might seem like the supreme choice but this is both short term and short sighted if used as your “weapon” of influence as they usually for propaganda and manipulation. Eventually our actions are reviled and when words and actions do not align it will cause animosity in some, or most, that we wish to inspire. Those with wisdom and understand know how true and lasting influential action is created.

A year.jpg

However, and this is a huge however… this road and way of change and influence is very slow, very slow and because of this we hope we can just take a pill to make this change for us. Life IS action. The effect of this action by individuals (me) is small and almost unnoticed so we doubt, and are blinded by how our actions affect and touch the world. With thousands of acts a day per person and billions of people on this earth we can see the effects of collective action at work. We work on our behavior and our behavior consists of habits. Habits that have been knowingly or unknowingly developing via micro changes (sadly most of our habits we build unknowing as we mindlessly walk through life) and these inner habits are what we think of as change when we look back upon our life. Do we honestly think when our hearts are filled hate, greed, lust, envy, fear and so forth that this type of thinking and behavior has a zero net effect on our environment and those around us? Ponder this day and night. If our hearts and our minds are in a particular place the majority of our actions will reflect that (this is just statistical probability). We can only fake being someone until we run out of willpower and then our habits take over. What are our habits? Do we even know? Water has the power to carve stone and our thoughts are this water to carve the stone which are our habits. These habits shape our world.

process

What can we do? Change. Knowing is not enough. The changing of habits is not the easy way nor the fast way but it is the only way for really lasting change to occur. Work daily, hourly, minutely on changing. We go to work daily to provide a better future for our children but we don’t realize how futile this is because our world will be the same place if we don’t change, and I am not speaking of the change that acts upon us. It will be a place filled with hate, lust, greed, envy, rather than love, compassion, comm-unity honesty; these latter qualities are ones that ONLY YOU can put into existence. No government, rules, laws, money or external entity can do this for us. I must put them into existence by my actions and until then I can expect the same thing over and over.

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