One Thought, Right Thought

Someone might have these thoughts: Who am I and why do I matter? I’m only one person what difference do I make? What difference does anything I do make?

He then bends down and picks up a stick.

There are 7 billion people on this planet and each and everyday it moves and it all happens.

If one action doesn’t doesn’t matter how does it all happen? One thought ate a time, in a moment; one step at a time, in a moment.

Maybe there was once a single atom that asked such a question but here we are and here the universe is.

——

I think we do not know and understand the importance of one thought in one moment. Thus we conflate lack of understanding with it doesn’t matter.

These moments string together with the collision of time. Bang, bang, bang the moments go. Each nothing but each is absolutely everything.

If we actually think thoughts like that in the first lines we should reflect to see how life works. This shows how powerful right thoughts are.

Judge Them First

I imagine having everything I ever said and thought recorded. I imagine it’s there for all the world to see and to scrutinize.

How deeply am I a bungling  hypocrite? How logically consistent am I really? How honest am I really? Am I really the good person I like to think that I am? Am I really the hero?

Unfortunately I am the hypocrite and the  liar and not the good hero. I blush at thinking about how much work I need.

Learn To Setting Systems, Not Goals

I thought the below video was great and several years ago I sort of abandoned goal setting and starting the process I call ‘learning to live’, or as the video says “Setting systems”.  As we age we begin to see that life has this sort of pulse feeling to it.  We set a goal and achieve it but soon after we feel empty again.

The idea that I construct is I somehow think that once I arrive at a particular point then I will have made it, then I will feel satisfied, or then I can rest; however, this is one of the greatest lies. The lie persists in our society that it is money or obtaining a particular material wealth. I found myself achieving my personal goals as well as the societal goals; however, I still had this permanent uneasy unsatisfied feeling. Why? (If anyone reading might now think this is about bashing on our current system/culture but I don’t believe so.)

Over the past several years I started to teach myself to enjoy the process. I can set goals but this is merely one aspect of the process; learning how to enjoy where I am now is another; learning how to be ok with this uneasy feeling within is a part; learning how to connect spiritually; learning how to connect culturally. Lastly, and this is for me the most important part, learning that ITS ALL LIFE!

An example in my own life right now is that I’m learning to play the piano.

1) I want to learn how to play and I have an idea of where I’d like to be; this for me is setting the goal.

2) I now set sail on that journey; now I must understand and be OK with exactly where I am in this process. This part is very important to practice. As we practice this step, and this might sound weird, but it get intergraded with our entire being. A flowing with life begins to emerge.

3) There have been days that I don’t want to practice but I do it anyway. This is being ok with feeling uneasy and knowing that these feelings are fleeting.

4) I learn that I never really arrive. It is always a series of journeys. Its a process of learning to be fully in where I am are AND being able to move forward. I begin to see that all these daily practices and daily investments in being is an opportunity for me to finally start living my life and while also moving forward at the same time. I’m learning to understand how to properly and see this friction and move with it, adapt if you will.

5) Some days are good and some aren’t. I see more clearly that it is all life! I move, I practice, I feel, I practice, I enjoy, I practice, I hurt, I practice, I set goals, I practice, I listen, I practice. I see that it has never been me, I practice. I added 5 which might seem off topic but really isn’t. It’s all connected. I’m not just practicing playing the piano when I’m sitting in front of it. Habits don’t really care.

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

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.