With Eyes Wide Open

I open my eyes and wonder where I am. How did I get here? Is any of this real or is all just a dream, a figment of my imagination.

I realize a great hunger but why am I so hungry? I thought I just ate! Is this hunger real? Hummm maybe I’ve been here way longer than I realized.

Let me just go and grab my things and I’ll be on my way.

I open my eyes and wonder where I am…..

Just learning (my thoughts)

I struggled when I search for meaning outside of whats happening. It is all life and I’ll never arrive. When I forget a host of, usually, negative emotions (self created due to the paradigm I constructed) become present.

My particular path is learning to enjoy all of it as I do not see another way to get satisfaction out of life. When I believe that once I get a particular object and ‘then I’ll be happy’ or ‘then I can rest’ is only a deceit that I use to fool myself. In the past I was unaware of such trickery. I know all things will not create the same feelings and emotions but this is a great source of joy as I can experience them fulling without wishing I was someplace else or holding on; I can strive, journey and accomplish all in a non striving manner, a striving manner that flows, a striving manner that is fluid.

When I see the obversion arriving I must reorientate myself to truth, which is, ‘there is no where to go and there is nothing to do.’

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

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?

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.

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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.

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?

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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.

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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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