Friend or Foe?

I have built city, state and national walls and boarders
A result of walls and boarders built by my mind
Relics and tools handed down from generation to generation
Time erodes its reasons so I create my own
Powerful tool or powerful master?

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The Tale of the Blue Fox

One day a fox fell into the cauldron of a dyer and came out a beautiful blue color. When he returned to the country, the other animals, not recognizing him, took him for a divine being and showed him the greatest marks of respect, to the point that he was soon made king of beasts. One full moon while the fox sat proudly in his court, other foxes began to yelp in the distance. Unfortunately, the blue king could not help but yelp too. Unmasked, the impostor had barely time to flee to save his life. — Taken from the footnote at the bottom of page 234 in On the Path to Enlightenment

To Know and To Not Do

Yesterday my wife, son and I went downtown to this little art/car show. We invited my mom, and she never declines an opportunity to go, go, go! As we were out my mom was complaining about her knee, and I reminded her, with a smile, that she knew we were going to be out walking around. She said, “I know and I’m sorry for complaining. It’s not really my knee. I’ve just had a bunch of frustrating things on my mind the past week.”

We began talking and my mom was concerned about (I will call this person Ab) Ab and there current situation in life. She said, “I just don’t understand why Ab just can’t get it.”
I then quoted one of my favorite quotes, “To know and to not do is to not really know.” by Stephen Covey.  We then spoke about all various programs they have undergone, counselings, and books read. We chatted for awhile about the different type of knowledge one can posses, and also touched on how Ab’s life has has been in a disarray for some time. It was a nice afternoon.

This morning I was thinking about our conversation, Ab, and the to know and not do quote. I think this quote is correct but I approached it from a different angle. This is the new angle: To know and to not do is to not have developed the habit. This is more of an Aristotelian approach/thought.

We are in an age of information. We can access the most profound wisdom known to mankind. However, this information is actually pointless. This information changes nothing. We merely reflect the habits we cultivate in our life. A lot of the time we let life, people, culture, norms, and our inner impulses cultivate us. We are the pin ball inside the machine destined to get launched by whatever we rub up against. Thus, as time passes, a gap emerges  between what we know and what we do and inverse for those that practice intentionally.

Build new habits. Sounds easy enough. Often we confuse excitement with habit but the moment the newness wears off we are left standing  with all the old urges, impulses, feelings and habits we spent a lifetime cultivating, a lot of the time unknowingly. This new building habits business isn’t as easy as the books like to tell us its. Those of us who have tired to “start anew” know the strength of our old ways.

Solution? I don’t really have one but I can share how I starting practicing mindfulness 3 years ago. How can I remember to be mindful when I’m not mindful, I thought. For my first couple of weeks I tried this mindfulness stuff but I was usually lost for the whole day before I’d remember to be mindful. I wanted to step my game up so I downloaded an application (insight timer) so I could have a reminder bell. For the first year of my practice I set a bell to chime every 10 minutes, I am not laying and I do know this is sort of extreme. 99 percent people thought I was weird, and may people would say things like, “what the hell is that noise?”, “Is that you dinging all the time?” “Oh my god, that is so annoying!”

But, hey, nothing changes if nothing changes. This is what I will continue to say to Ab and the advice I would give to anyone looking to change. There is research, and I know for my practice, that thoughts, feelings, emotions, urges only last 90 seconds (I never timed but I know they arise and fade quickly) if you do not “feed the beast”. So your only 90 seconds away from to reinforcing your new habit and slowly cultivating over the years will change many things.

Below is a book I read about 3 years ago that I really enjoyed. The link is for an amazonsmile which gives a small percentage of the purchase to a charity at no cost to you. In this case it is a local food bank called Harry Chapin Food Bank.

The Practicing Mind by Thomas M. Sterner

Response To The Minimalists #60

Hi Guys,

I wanted to quickly take a moment to address the journalist in episode #60, a critic, for which I know your response is crickets chirping. The problem with the journalist, and many other critics, is minimalism doesn’t fit their narrative as to what the problem actually is. Additionally, the degree to which they believe in their narrative and the degree to which they accept your message is the degree to which they have to admit they are wrong. This is a tough pill to swallow when your identity is deeply embedded in your world view. Here is an interesting article regarding : Neural correlates of maintaining one’s political beliefs in the face of counterevidence.

You have done a superfluous job at staying out, and I would argue above, the political arena and the reason being is simple. You have kept your message fixated on what you value and intentional by cutting out the excess, all with razor precision which is exactly what minimalism is about. Ryan alluded to this in the podcast as well. Thanks guys for all your hard work and the message you bring forth; keep up the great work!

Freewill?

We have freewill do we? Who is the one thinking our thoughts? Is freewill a continued state of giving unintentional attention to the thoughts that arise and then getting lost in them? Is freewill impulsively acting out however we feel? Wait, did I choose to feel this way at this moment and think this thought? Is freewill blaming others for making us feel this way? How can they make me feel this way if I am free?

Today is the day of change I declare! I act on my own accord and with complete autonomy. Wait, why did I just do that, again?

Who Are We Fighting?

Where do thoughts come from? Where do they originate? Do these questions even make sense? Is there really such thing as a beginning? Depending what we are looking for, I think our answers to such questions change relative to our perspective. Delving into these questions from some paradigms can produces fruitless answers. My formal education on the fields discussed below are limited; I only possess a natural curiosity that I like to tease. My finite knowledge comes from reading and pondering for which my ignorance to the ultimate depth and complexity of these questions will most certainly show.

Have you ever examined the intricacy of a trees root system? Or studied the interconnection of our entire ecosystem? Or tried to understand the neuroanatomy of our brains? Or our genome? We, as a species, are beginning to understand that life and its inner workings are not a simple linear trajectory. For example, before we mapped the human genome we thought, at least publicly, that upon completion we would know the specificity of each gene. In large, 14 years after the mapping we are still befuddled by the complexity of the whole workings of each gene. We are learning of a deep entanglement and a highly interdependent nature of the genes. Another such example, is our depth of understanding our brains neuroanatomy and which regions are responsible for distinct behaviors. Thus, we now know viewing the brain in an itemized way does not capture the workings wholly. As we continue our search for more knowledge and deepening our understanding in all areas of life from the individual parts and structures to grasping quantum mechanics we are become more aware of the vast entanglement and interdependent nature of reality. The paradigm from which we view reality greatly impacts the way we feel and see our external worlds.

As we saunter through life it seems that a lot of the time we view, with certainty, that a thought comes from an unambiguous location. It come from me, I was it’s originator. My feelings too come from specific locations. We think I too come from a specific location. In the case of anger and other emotions it comes from “them” or other people make us feel this way. In some ways there are some hints of truth to these thoughts and statements, but the view is usually to narrowly focused and it’s similar in saying certain genes only express certain properties, or that the rain comes from clouds, or that this distinct spot in the brain is responsible for hatred, envy, love, or compassion. We know such isolated views are wrong in a lot of contexts.

Think of a giant piece of grafting paper. If we mark one intersection and zoom in on that spot it will seem to only be a linear projection, either horizontal or vertical. However, if we zoom out we see a vast web and if we start to learn to view reality from this view a direct and independent origin doesn’t make sense: all of life is vastly entangled.

My point
Our thought, feeling, emotions and even “the self” is entangled and interdependent with external reality beyond comprehension. Ever aspect of your being is just as much “out there” as you feel as it is in you. If we are not aware of our natural tendencies and view our reality through the prism of the narrow view and one that is linear our thoughts, our actions, and our reasoning’s traps us, blinds us, and keeps us locked in a tiny sphere of reality. We end up seeing everything as an enemy and something we must fight and destroy. Our history books are rich of such examples. This belief is one of the main causes for hatred, anger, frustration, selfishness, greed, envy, and so forth. In this narrow view are a living in an idealistic world of our own making forever enslaved.  Just as written language is not natural but emerges from higher order thus taking intentionality for it emergence, so to is the view of interdependence. It take effort, intentionality and must be cultivated. With this view it is no longer a world of enemies, hatred, greed and selfishness but only a world in which people are stuck in our ancestors view of reality and in this world it is easy to relate and show compassion.

If anyone actually makes it this far I’d love to hear your thoughts, views and opinions so please share.

 

 

Poverty Mindset

A couple days ago I read this nice little article by Reynolds Made called the Power of Silence in which  she speaks about the importance of silence in her life and then gives some very piratical ways incorporate some silence in your life.

My post today is regarding a comment that I read that really struck a cord with me and it’s been on my mind since.  It went something like this, “I would like to have some silence in my life but I have two little kids.” I felt a great amount of compassion and understanding because this type of mindset is something we all find ourselves in, albeit to varying degrees.

To me, whenever we are here or in this state we are in a poverty mindset, in that it is disempowering and lacks creativity. What we want is outside our control or, first, in order for us to achieve (anything) our external circumstances must change before we can. If only I had this… then I could be happy; If only I could do this… then I could finally do what I always wanted; if only things were different.. then I could… if only, if only.

In David Deutsch’s book The Beginning of Infinity he say’s problems are inevitable and all problems are soluble given proper knowledge. For me there are several ways to achieve knowledge but it almost always starts with a question, and the way we framed and/or reframe the question becomes very important.

There is one question that I like to ponder when I find myself in a poverty mindset: Well, what can I do? Sometimes the solution is a quick one and other times the solution takes several years to achieve. It all depends on the complexity of the problem, and then I do what is within my control and leave the rest.

Thank you!

Painfully Aware

Today I awoke without a headache! It’s quite a marvelously and I’m so thankful that I don’t have one, well come to think of it I really haven’t had one in years. Just like the The Minimalist article The Worst Christmas Ever about the child that become painfully away of all the presents he/she didn’t get after only after ungifting all their presents, we too are usually only thankful and/or grateful for something after it has been stripped away or shortly after suffering a painful infliction, and this could be physical or mental.

We have so much to be thankful for but sometimes it takes deliberate attention and cultivation to remind ourselves how rich we really are! What are you thankful and or grateful for today?

Thank you!

Where is there to go?

I know this person who is always in a rush at work, day in and day out. I often wonder where she is really trying to go?  I wonder what it is that she is really trying to achieve and if she’s ever really found it? I wonder if she even knows?

I see this person in traffic racing around, day in and day out I see someone else. I often wonder where they are really trying to go? Do they know that it will literally only save them 5 minutes at most, and probably only less than a minute! I wonder if they even know?

I watch this person standing in the grocery line looking angry and impatient. I often wonder where they are really trying to go?  Speeding around the parking lot looking for the best spot; look at all this time they saved! I wonder what they will do with it? I wonder if they even know?

Where is there to go?