Scripture doesn’t much describe heaven, but it’s likely a cool place relative to hell. As heaven is relatively painless and hell excruciatingly painful, heaven is death by freezing and hell is death by fire.
When we have no doubts about our perceptions, we close our eyes to other possibilities. If we weren’t so blindly confident, we would open our eyes and see things as they are, not as our mind has determined they are.
People who take their minds seriously are very funny. Seeing this omnipresent humor is the sine qua non to a wonderful journey through life. Unfortunately, few do. If many did, life wouldn’t be so funny; but would be blissful.
The Biblical story of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden is a revealing tale of male/female dynamics.
As the story goes, God created Adam and Eve and placed them in the Garden of Eden as caretakers. For sustenance, they were allowed to eat anything they desired but the fruits of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. In the Garden, all was good for Adam and Eve as they lived naked and carefree.
One day, Eve encountered a serpent in the Garden. The serpent is described as the most cunning of beasts, apparently it had legs and could talk. Soon after striking up a conversation with Eve, the serpent convinces her to eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil so that she like God would know good and evil. After eating the fruit, Eve convinces Adam to eat it as well.
With this new-found knowledge, Adam and Eve came to know the good and evil of sexual intimacy; it felt good but was evil as it represented disobeying God’s rules, like the rules a parent imposes on its child.
Presumably, Eve was a virgin and as such their genitals became blood-stained after sexual intercourse. Realizing their bloody genitals would reveal to God that they had disobeyed God’s prohibition, they covered their nakedness with fig leaves. However, seeing their genitals covered, God realized they were trying to hide the bloody evidence of their misdeeds.
For their misdeeds, God punished the snake, Eve and Adam. God took away the snake’s legs so it must forever grovel on the ground. God punishes Eve by declaring that the seed of the snake and the seed of Eve will forever hate each other. Moreover, God (apparently believing Adam that Eve instigated breaking God’s rules in order to presumably satisfy her sexual desires) decreed that Eve will suffer the pains of childbirth, a consequence of sexual intimacy. God punishes Adam by banishing him from the Garden, where fruits for his sustenance were freely available. Instead, Adam is made to toil the Earth to sustain himself and to support Eve in exchange for sexual pleasures. Essentially, Adam and Eve were thrown out of their parent’s house to fend for themselves.
As the snake had legs and was able to talk, the snake must have been Adam’s penis, hanging between his legs and talking through Adam who cunningly acted as a ventriloquist. (That the snake, as above, bore a seed through sperm corroborates that the snake is indeed Adam’s penis.) Moreover, God (apparently thinking that maybe Adam was the instigator) punishes Adam’s penis, forever vanquished to grovel on the ground like men groveling for women’s sexual favors.
Thus, it was Adam who tricked Eve into eating the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, to convince her that sex was a natural act in which they should engage. Moreover, as the seed of the snake and the seed of the woman were decreed to forever hate each other, women and men’s sexual relationships would forever be contentious, based on give-and-take.
The story of Adam and Eve, written by men, blames a woman as the root of man’s woes, portraying her as a temptress that ultimately lured man to commit misdeeds. Adam’s male progeny have been doing like Adam ever since. While it’s unlikely we’ll be readmitted to the Garden, perhaps we can get a little closer to it if men take responsibility for their actions.
The Bible prophesied that one day God will send the messiah, the soul of God, to Earth to bring peace and resurrect all who are dead.
Presently, only the dead who are crazy or have no memory of Earth-life would choose to return to Earth before it is at peace. As the enlightened don’t return and more and more crazy beings do return, Earth becomes inhabited by lots of crazy people who bring pain and suffering to themselves and others. Unfortunately, at some point God will determine humans are not worthy of God’s soul to realize divine consciousness and will let them destroy themselves as animals. Those of us alive now need work to make Earth more peaceful to encourage the coming of the messiah. This is actually not difficult as messiah is within all of us, though few recognize messiah’s presence.
“To be loved is like standing in front of a buffet. It means nothing if you are not hungry. To love is to enjoy that buffet…You have to feel what it is like to love someone before you can understand what an honor it is to be loved.”
Heaven is peaceful and those in heaven want to keep it that way. So they only let into heaven only those who live peaceful lives on Earth.
After death, there may or may not be heaven and hell. But it’s of no matter as those living peaceful lives on Earth are already in heaven.
Years back, a friend, Joe, called to announce he was engaged and wanted me as the best man at his wedding. Joe was 6’4″ and his fiancé, Diane, wasn’t noticeably shorter. Physically, they saw eye to eye; otherwise, a completely incompatible couple.
Before Diane, Joe was not a pretty drunk for many years. He went sober coincidentally with starting a relationship with Diane. While no longer drunk, as he and Diane were clearly incompatible, he still couldn’t see straight. I advised him against the marriage; told him he was better off as a drunk. He said I didn’t understand, he was madly in love with Diane. I said that was the problem, love kept him from seeing clearly.
It turned into a very acrimonious marriage; screaming and fighting. Yet from a distance it was funny juxtaposing the image of Joe mad about Diane to Joe mad with Diane. They didn’t see the humor; exhausted, they finally called it quits five years later.
With divorce rates high, there must be many couples like Joe and Diane suffering the consequences of blind love. If not for marriages based on blind love, the number of divorces would likely drop 70%. But divorce rates would rise because there would be even fewer marriages.
We are all individual cells in one human body; nerve cells, heart cells, fat cells, skin cells, blood cells, etc. Each type of cell lives in a cluster of identical cells that function, behave and think alike.
The most unusual cells are the blood cells. Red blood cells don’t have a nucleus, can’t reproduce and have the flexibility to easily change their shape. Without a nucleus or mind, they are essentially selfless and embody compassion; their sole purpose is to serve other cells. They travel through the body, visiting all types of cells, bringing cells oxygen for sustenance and removing carbon dioxide which would otherwise kill them.
Through their travels, red blood cells recognize that there are many different types of cells, each having a different perspective of the body. While the nerve cells might be the smartest, the white blood cells the most combative, the stomach cells the toughest, the bone cells the hardest, etc.; the red blood cells, having the perspectives of other cells, are the wisest.
With wisdom and compassion, red blood cells are the enlightened cells. Maybe that’s what makes them the most colorful.
A common pastime is to explain the present in the context of past events and circumstances. While the explanations of experts and others sound cogent, they are mostly nonsense. If they were truly able to explain how the present unfolded, some of these geniuses would be able to predict the future; though none of them can.
Of course, there are always individuals who do correctly predict the future. However, rarely more than once are they the same individuals.
“If a man gives no thought about what is distant, he will find sorrow near at hand.”
Until it is obvious, it is difficult to see things we haven’t first imagined. Imagining dangerous scenarios allows us to see and avoid them before they become reality. While these imaginings are stressful, they are less stressful than experiencing them.
This 5500 year old female figure comes from the time before the dawn of the written word. Much has changed since then but perhaps men have not. The figure is depicted with eyes, nose, breasts and a vagina; but no mouth or ears. Perhaps that’s how most men like their women.
More seriously, what this apparently sacred object (it is referred to as an “idol”) means is open to interpretation. Eye idols are almost invariably depicted with eyes only; no mouth, nose or other body parts. Perhaps that’s the nature of a presumably all-knowing deity, they observe and do not speak. As Lao Tzu observed more than 3000 years later: “He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.”
The universe is nothing,
empty space and no time,
before it is everything.
everything is one.
Time begins when the universe expresses itself
as infinite ever-changing manifestations.
Then, we are still one with the universe
but often oblivious as to who we are.
In the Bible, God appears to Moses in the form of an eternally burning bush. The bush however is not burning. As its flames are not devouring the branches, the flames must be light, not fire. The light however appears as fire, our mind perceiving it based on our past experiences where light in a bush can only be fire. The mind’s preconceptions blind us from seeing things as they are.
The burning bush, as the entire universe, is a manifestation of God. Moreover, the bush metaphorically reveals the nature of the universe: ever-changing (flames) and eternal (not burning). The light that appears as flames represents wisdom (Proverbs 3.18). The light unveils the bush, the eternal soul, from darkness.
The bush is seneh, a bramble, a rough prickly shrub which bears raspberries, blackberries or dewberries. As a prickly shrub with light abounding, the bush’s thorns are “the fiery ever-turning sword” that guards the path to the Tree of Life (Genesis 3.24). The path leads to the soul’s soul, the Tree’s fruit. Those who can see the fiery ever-turning sword as light and thorns can, without fear of burning or hurting, partake of the fruit to sustain themselves (Book of Enoch) as they become one with the soul’s soul.
When we understand the burning bush, we understand the universe; ever-changing and eternal. Then, we can find the soul’s soul and be one with everything forever. In the image of God, the burning bush, is the Tree of Life.
When we dispense with the mind, its preconceived notions and the fears they engender, we can see the universe as it is and ultimately connect as one with God.
Buddha opened his eyes and was able to see the universe as it is. Had Buddha been studying Buddhism, he would have seen many things through his mind which would have precluded him seeing the universe as it is.
For those who remember who they were before they were born, life is difficult in the beginning and easy at the end. In the beginning, it is difficult to adjust to a world where most people live out of touch with reality, a world of individual and collective meanings and stories of the mind’s construction. But life is easy at the end as they know the wonderful place to which they are going which is from where they came.
“He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.”
Energy and matter are the same thing in different forms (E=M*C*C). The thing is everything. As everything, it cannot be described as it takes infinite forms and is ever-changing. To describe it is to focus on one infinitesimal aspect of it which makes us oblivious to its entirety which is its essential nature. Moreover, all its infinitesimal aspects are not discrete. They are interdependent aspects of one thing. Thus, any descriptions of it are illusionary. He who knows the foregoing can only say that it is what it is whatever it is. Hence, he does not speak.
“The mind is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master.”
The mind is a wonderful servant when we use it to learn from our past experiences, successes and failures to make good choices going forward. However, the mind is a terrible master when it creates stories and meanings that frame our experience of the present. Our stories are like a prison, not allowing us to experience the present as it is. Prison guards, however friendly, rule over us.
The mind drives many far and wide, blindly seeking.
But everything is here and near for the See King.
Our mind is home to many hungry “I”s
who long for nothing when we open our eyes.
Every night we die and every morning we are born anew. Thus, every day is our first and last day of life. As it’s our first day, everything is fascinating. As it’s our last day, we appreciate everything.
The size of a star is a function of how distant it is. Stars in the Milky Way seem tiny from Earth but are unimaginably huge up close. Popular stars who are far from our real lives seem huge but aren’t bigger than us up close. The popular stars who think their big are ridiculously funny in the context of real stars.
Yesterday, I pulled out of my driveway for my weekly trip to the Darien Cheese Shop and a hundred feet later the car started seriously shaking. A flat tire awoke me from my routine. I stopped the car and started working with an air pump to inflate the tire. As it was taking some time, I wondered whether the tire would hold enough air for me to make it to a repair shop or I’d need to get it towed. Either way, it sounded like a bit more fun than the routine trip to the cheese shop. Soon a passing car pulled over and an elderly woman with grey hair came out and asked: “Do you need any help?” To which I replied: “Actually I’m terrific; blessed with a high-class problem, a flat tire.” We both laughed, connected by compassion and wisdom as the truth was revealed: temporary common problems are not problems but experiences to be enjoyed by all.
Easter is the most important holiday in Christianity. Easter commemorates the crucifixion and resurrection of Christ which Christians believe is proof Jesus Christ was the messiah, the one who would bring peace on Earth.
The historical events of Easter are the basis for the ubiquitous symbol of Christianity, the cross or Jesus on the cross (the crucifiction). It’s a funny symbol for a religion espousing peace. As Christ preached brotherly love among people regardless of their religious identities and was ultimately crucified for his heretic views, the symbol suggests that those who preach peace will be crucified. True to this view, murder and horror is what many who have walked under the banner of Christianity have brought to peaceful non-Christians since the time of Christ.
Ultimately, Christians believe that Christ, the messiah, will return and bring peace on Earth. Perhaps so, but in light of the violent history of the those professing to be Christians, clearly Christ is not a Christian.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
The universe is infinite and unique manifestations of God. Manifestations that have consciousness do not know they are God. They perceive themselves as apart and separate from all other manifestations. Man is no different in his self-perception but has the potential to realize divine consciousness; the realization that he and all manifestations are one; that man and God are one.
Words are the foundation of a system of conceptualizing and communicating abstractly. This system enables man with the potential for divine consciousness. Thus, as the word enables man to connect as one with God, the word is God; the system is God.
The word begot the world. Word + I = world. When the word and I merged, the story of the world was created.
Words were first transcribed symbolically, in written form as cuneiform tablets, around 5,400 years ago. This is soon after the start of the Jewish calendar which marks this year as 5,782. Prior to that time, our progenitors were manlike but not man.
If someone doesn’t love or respect us, that’s their problem. We can only feel badly for them because they simply don’t get it. However, we too have a problem if we resent them for it.
“We should not look back unless it is to derive useful lessons from past errors, and for the purpose of profiting by dearly bought experience.”
The past can teach us valuable lessons. However, defining ourselves by stories we create about our past has no value and distracts us from making the most of things to come.
In the play of life, we often respect those in roles of great wealth and power. However, those are easy roles that unremarkable people can play. Actually, most people who play those roles are unremarkable; if not before, than after they assume those roles. Difficult roles involve issues of poverty, poor health and harm’s way. We need respect and be thankful to those playing such roles; if they didn’t, then we might be called to do so.
“Silence is the greatest secret in the world.”
“He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.” –Lao Tzu.
“Silence is the only voice of our God.” — Herman Melville.
In true silence we not distracted by sounds or other stimulation or by our mind’s thoughts. In true silence, we are in the present, the pre-sent, the space before the universe expresses itself and time begins. In true silence the universe is revealed as an ineffable ethereal experience. Attempting to share these revelations through words with others breaks the silence, shrouds its revelations in oblivion and keeps silence a secret.
“It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.”
Every day is a life in a day, not a day in a life. We’ve lived thousands of lifetimes, dying in the evening and born anew in the morning into circumstances similar to those in which we died yesterday. Upon rebirth, we resemble the person we were yesterday but are not the same person; though we assume we are and live in the context of our past identities. As to who we are now, it is difficult to say beyond “I am who I am” as we, like everything, are ever-changing.
The beauty is not that which is beautiful but that we can see beauty. When we can see beauty, everything is beautiful. The beauty we see is ourselves. Likewise, those who see ugly things are themselves ugly.
If we see something that isn’t beautiful, then it’s funny. Most people are not beautiful.
“When people are alone, they become spiritual. When in company, they become religious.”
When we are alone and our mind is calm, we can connect with everything, That’s a spiritual experience. When with others, we see ourselves as apart and separate and need rules and rituals to calm ourselves.
The fool thinks he is God. The wise man knows he and everything is God.
The fool thinks himself apart and superior to others. The wise know we are all unique and yet the same, infinite manifestations of God.
Underwear costing $20 new is worthless in our eyes if it’s used, spoiled and smelly. But in our mind it can be worth 1,000 times more than new if it came from Jacqueline Kennedy’s hamper.
“Love means never having to say you’re sorry.”
We may have regrets about being thoughtless and treating our body poorly; say, getting fat, a hangover or not sleeping enough. Yet, we never apologize to our body. Our body is who we are and we don’t apologize to ourselves. Likewise, in love, we and whom we love are one. Apologizing or thanking whom we presumably love implies we and they are not one; that we don’t truly have a love connection.
As we busy ourselves, we are oblivious that we are one of billions of cells of the human body. After sustaining ourselves and realizing our potential, our purpose is to serve the body. While our conscious identity is our individual cell-self, who we truly are is the one body that was here before our cell-self arrived and after our cell-self is no longer.
In October, 1992 I started collecting tribal art. While initially I didn’t imagine tribal art would be expensive, I was soon amazed at how expensive some objects were; some fetching hundreds of thousands of dollars. What made these objects so expensive is that there is a limited supply of “authentic” objects. (Authentic objects are those made by a tribal people for their own use and used accordingly. That’s unlike “tourist” objects made for others and “fakes” made to appear like authentic objects.) Authenticity is essentially the sine quo nom of the collectibles markets generally. Without a limited supply of art objects qualifying as authentic, the art market would collapse. If objects were judged simply by their aesthetic appeal alone, facsimiles that were indistinguishable from authentic objects would flood the market, making authentic objects not worth more than the cost of making a facsimile. Without high-priced collectibles, there would be no collectors spending huge sums to support art museums, auction houses and well-heeled dealers.
Art, as well as everything else, is viewed by our eyes and our mind. Our eyes see things as they see things. As our eyes have no memory, our eyes cannot compare one thing with another. However, while some things engage and appeal to us and some less so, just about everything has a unique beauty to it from some perspective. Our mind cannot see, it can only hear. When we look at an art object in terms of its authenticity, provenance, description and in comparison to other art objects, we are “seeing” through our mind, not our eyes. The art market depends on collectors seeing through their mind, not their eyes.
As a collector I’ve met many dealers. One thing that several said in passing particularly struck me: there have been many well-considered collectors that as they got on in years often sold many of their “top” objects and purchased others that were clearly fakes or of lower quality. Dealers speculated that these old collectors simply lost their “eye;” that is, they could no longer distinguish a fake from an authentic object or they lost their sense of taste and as such were satisfied with lower quality objects. Perhaps or maybe these old collectors finally saw art objects with their eyes, not their mind.
Now, I too am an old collector and appreciate the mindset of the old collectors who were pooh-poohed by dealers and museum people. Someone truly engaged with the art itself (not with art as an investment or status symbol) solely focuses on the aesthetic and engaging aspects of an art object. Whether it’s fake or real is immaterial. Each object is what it is whatever it is; to be appreciated as it is, absolutely, not relative to something else or because it’s dressed in superlatively flattering adjectives. Collectors who’ve come to this realization tend to be older, having spent many lifetimes and considerable sums building their collections. They truly have a great “eye” as they see objects with their eyes, not with their mind.
More generally, beyond art, these older individuals tend to be in Act 3 in the play of life; the transition from their finite material selves to who they were before their birth, one with everything. In the transition, we see beauty everywhere. As to the art market, they shake their heads and laugh at the foolish collectors they once were.
“He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.”
When we open our eyes and see we know. Our eyes can see but cannot speak. To speak we need to have a memory and our eyes have no memory. Only the mind has memory but the mind doesn’t know as it cannot see. It can only hear. When we speak, our mind is talking of what we’ve heard.
Those who speak to describe what they see do not know. Those who know can only say “WOW” because what they see is beyond words.
Relatively, there is a small percentage of girls who are conventionally sexually attractive in terms of international tastes. Attractive girls are like two-seat sports cars with big headlights, not minivans. They’ve got a lot of torque, can reach 150+ miles/hour and have great handling. They provide a thrilling ride but are not practical for everyday driving and require a good deal of maintenance. Their looks are often a defense mechanism; they want guys focusing on their appearance and not what’s below the surface, their nature which is often volatile and selfish. Loving, wholesome, spiritual girls tend to be otherwise; not much to look at but wonderful soulmates. They don’t put themselves out as beauties because they want guys who are interested in who they are not how they appear.
So there is something for everyone or for every time frame. The attractive ones are best for meaningful relationships of less than an hour or until you run out of gas.
The present is the pre-sent, the space before the universe expresses itself as infinite unique manifestations. The present is empty. It is silent. Time does not exist in the present. It is dark until we light it up by opening our eyes. The now is when the universe expresses itself. It is when time begins. In the now we experience the universe via our senses and our mind.
The present is the space between exhale and inhale, between bodily death and birth, between going to sleep and awakening. In the present we are not distracted by the universe expressing itself in the now. We can observe the universe and come to know it.
The experience via our senses is what it is whatever it is; some of it to our liking and some not. It’s a visceral connection with the universe. The experience via our mind is of memories, meanings and stories that make us feel good, bad, indifferent and countless other states of mind.
We equate our mind’s perception of the universe with reality. We take it seriously and hold onto it regardless of how miserable it may make us feel. Perceiving the universe otherwise requires us to abandon our mind. We’re afraid to do that as we fear we would be lost without our mind. That’s how our mind imprisons us.
However, we can escape our mind’s prison and not find ourselves lost when we leave the now and go to the present. The present is a peaceful place where there is nothing to fear. In the present we can open our eyes and realize that there are infinite mind frames for experiencing the universe; that the mind frame we heretofore could not let go was not particularly more valid than others; that we are free to experience the universe through a mind frame of our choosing. This is wisdom. As a default, we choose the happy mind; a mind that is grateful, optimistic and free from karmic prisons.
With a happy mind, much of life is absurdly funny as we see most people taking their respective mind’s perceptions seriously.
When we open our eyes and light up the darkness in the present, we realize the universe is just light; infinite, eternal, ever-changing and unique manifestations of light; that we are light, not just individual little selves trying to make a go of it in the short time between birth and death.
Progressives are clowns, the funniest people when they are not scary. Funny when they take their crazy thoughts seriously. Scary when enough others take them seriously and make them their leaders.
Progressives are idealists who aim to change the social/political order so they may better people’s lives. They are intellectuals who think they are smarter than the less educated and therefore they should decide what’s best for all. Alternatively, businesspeople take an empirical and practical approach to providing goods and services to people to choose for themselves how to better their lives. They provide what the market demands, without judgement of the desires of their customers.
Progressives view the social order vertically, an autocracy. Businesspeople view the world horizontally, a democracy where people vote with their cash.
Progressives are risk-averse and want to control everything. Businesspeople are risk-takers and succeed by managing risks.
Progressives promote their agenda with propaganda while businesspeople advertise.
Progressives need individuals to think as a group. Businesses thrive on independent thinkers choosing what’s best for themselves based on product quality and price.
Progressives are inflexible and face extinction as the world changes and they can’t. Businesspeople who survive are those most able to adapt to change.
Progressives hate the lower classes which they view as a necessary evil they need to accommodate. Businesspeople view their customers as the gods they serve.
Progressives envision building a house from the roof to the ground which inevitably crushes those building it. Businesspeople built a house from the ground up for all who can afford it to live.
Consciousness is binary,
the present and the now.
The present and the now seem synonymous
but are mutually exclusive,
as one cannot exist without the other.
The present is the pre-sent,
the time before the universe is sent out as expressions of itself.
The now is when our senses initially experience the universe expressing itself.
Time doesn’t exist in the pre-sent.
In the pre-sent eternity lies.
The now is the beginning of time.
All other time,
past and future,
are illusions created by our mind.
The present is the beginningless and endless time
before a gong is struck,
shattering silence and awaking us to the now.
In the now we hear its sound,
and then slowly drifting away
until only silence remains,
The present is the space
between exhale and inhale.
Inhaling and exhaling is the now.
Since the beginning of time I can remember, everything seemed new and unique, especially the causal or coincidental relationship between things, why things are as they are. As well, I’ve been always amazed how people view the same thing so differently and hold no doubts about their respective perspectives. Curiosity has driven me down many roads to understand things. But after travelling countless miles, I realize the road was a treadmill as I still don’t know much about anything. But, I keep at it, probably because it’s not frustrating but fun, as the means and the ends are the same. Some would say that after a lifetime of fruitless effort, I’m a fool trying to understand things; but better that than undoubtedly being a fool thinking I do.
Our mind defines us and the world around us.
We adamantly hold our mind’s view as reality
and fear to think differently
for if we let go our mind we’d lose it and be lost.
That’s how our mind controls us.
If lost, what would replace it,
who would we then be?
The undifferentiated mind,
the mind of God.
“He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.”
Simply, those who know want to know more. When we speak we are not knowing. Hence, those who speak do not know.
Speaking and knowing are mutually exclusive. When we speak, we cannot be in the process of knowing. Knowing is experiencing. It is the process of connecting with the universe through our senses. As we connect, we become one with the universe. We are in the now. Our mind no longer distracts us from our true nature of oneness. Speaking is the mind expressing itself to get the universe’s attention. By speaking, we become the center of the universe. This is the antithesis of oneness. Speaking creates separateness.
He who knows choses to know rather than to speak. He choses oneness instead of separateness.
Moreover, as everything is temporary and ever-changing, he who does not speak knows that nothing can be exactly described as it is now different than when he began describing it. As well, as everything is interdependent, he who does not speak knows that while the mind views every-thing as a discreet thing, in reality every-thing is a unique manifestation of one thing; hence, about everything it can only be said that it is what it is whatever it is.
A corollary: He who thinks he knows much, knows little. He speaks to hide that he knows little. He who does not speak knows nothing, the essence of everything before it’s something. There’s not much he can say about that.
Absolutely, everything is beautiful; relatively, few things are beautiful.
Everything is beautiful because seeing is beautiful. Seeing is an experience in the now, an experience of the universe expressing itself.
Our mind can’t see. It can only remember. The mind compares things it has not seen but believes it remembers seeing and things it envisions. Once measured, some things are more or less beautiful; relatively, few things are beautiful.
The World Trade Center event is an example of that which is absolutely beautiful but relatively not. For the few who can see it as it is what it is whatever it is, they see the World Trade Center hit by planes and its subsequently collapse as a beautiful chaotic light show. However, for the vast majority, the World Trade Center event is a horrible tragedy relative to most of whatever else they see in life through their mind.
The Shawshank Redemption is a story of men serving life sentences in a brutal penitentiary. The penitentiary is a metaphor for living in society. Most of us live our entire lives in a penitentiary. But in The Shawshank Redemption, as in society generally, a few have a chance at redemption, freedom: Brooks Hatlen, an old man who managed the prison library; Andy Dufresne, a banker wrongly imprisoned for the murder of his wife and her lover; and Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding, a prison contraband smuggler.
After 50 years of “good behavior” (a model prisoner serving others as a librarian; a kind man who cares for an injured bird) Brooks is free to leave. However, a sentence well-served, like a life well-served, doesn’t guarantee redemption. For Brooks there is no redemption. Redemption requires letting go of our past where we are imprisoned by our mind. While excited at the prospect of freedom, Brooks can’t part with his identity as a prison librarian and embrace the freedom that awaits him. He becomes depressed and hangs himself soon upon his release.
Andy is like everyman, not deserving punishment but punished nonetheless, forced to serve a role in life that’s not to his liking. He makes the most of his life in prison but for years devotes his time and energy on digging a tunnel from his cell to freedom outside the prison walls. On the day of his escape, he emerges from a hole in the earth, essentially reborn. Once free, like all free men he leaves the roles society has slotted him to live carefree in a beachfront village, presumably without risk of extradition. Andy finds redemption. His efforts are like years of meditation that culminate in escaping the prison of the role-plying self and past identities to be one with the world at large.
Ellis is long-imprisoned for a crime he committed in his youth. Periodically he comes up for parole which he’s denied. Again and again he tells the parole board that he is sorry about his criminal past, completely rehabilitated and would never do it again. Again and again, the board rejects his petition for parole. Then, finally, he tells the board that he often imagines a boy who he doesn’t know. He sees the boy about to commit a horrible crime and he only wishes he could grab that boy before the crime is committed. The board then grants him parole. Essentially, Ellis is saying that he no longer is the person who committed the crime for which he went to prison; the person he is now could never have committed such a crime and he would try to stop its commission if he saw it happening. Keeping Ellis incarcerated longer would be punishing someone for a crime they didn’t commit. His redemption comes from completely disavowing his past which allows him to smuggle himself out of prison. Likewise, we are only free when we leave the karmic prison of our mind.
Redemption, freedom, is ultimately the purpose of life. It comes not simply by living a good life, treating others well and satisfying our responsibilities. It comes from long and hard work to realize our personal and societal identities are temporary roles in the play of life. Then, we know the name of the play, “Terrific.”
There is one God.
The God before the Big Bang.
The God beyond our comprehension.
The God that birthed billions of sons.
God’s sons too are gods.
They are the stars.
God’s son closest to us is our sun.
When we open our eyes we see what we sense, which a fool’s mind makes into nonsense.
We appreciate a beautiful artwork when we see it. That makes sense. A collector paying millions for such an artwork when an indistinguishable facsimile can be had for a pittance, that’s foolish nonsense.
Beyond beautiful artworks, there is beauty everywhere for those who have the sense to open their eyes; but not for fools who prefer nonsense.
Of course, “collectible” paintings are not purchased for the visual experience they provide but for their speculative value (that there will be a greater fool to pay more for them in the future), or as objects of prestige (identifying those who foolishly need to impress others or themselves) or as a pass to enter certain high-society social circles inhabited by other fools.
When facing the sun, shrouded in its warmth and the gazing at the beauty of everything, we’re often oblivious to the shadows we cast.
In the post, Being In The Present, I talked about my “insider trading” criminal case. Ultimately, as a result of losing at trial, I spent 1994 in a Federal prison in Fairton, NJ.
I looked forward to going to prison. Thought I’d have a good time meeting guys outside my social/business/special interests circles. Maybe get to do things I hadn’t previously been exposed to: garden maintenance, car repair, preparing institutional foods; maybe read some books. After having snapped some lawnmower blades on rock outcroppings and making a car’s problems worse, I was fired from those jobs. I didn’t get a chance to work in the kitchen because I casually mentioned to an inmate that I must have gotten genital herpes years back at a group sex party; as word got around, some were concerned herpes was transmittable through food, so I was nixed from that job. Didn’t get a chance to read much beyond periodicals. Most of the time spent was pondering the nature of things and interviewing the prisoners about their circumstances and how they viewed the world. I joked around a lot, seemed to entertain the mates and the guards. Paid someone $1 to make my bed daily, someone else to make me hand-cut potato fries and broiled New Zealand calves’ liver and another mate to clean the shower before I went in to jerk off. I thought I was well liked, until my last night there. Last night there, the prisoners typically threw a party for the one who was departing. As my time neared, I was getting the feeling they weren’t having a party for me. So I ordered 80 ice cream sandwiches from the commissary (from which you could privately buy foods and other stuffs) to ensure a party was to be. Everyone loved it; best party of the season. However, at some point during the party I said to a crowd of mates “you guys will probably miss me.” To which one replied: “We won’t miss you. We hate you.” Incredulous, I said, “really, why’s that?” To which he replied: “because you had too good a time here.” Now, 27 years later, I sometimes think maybe some people in my current life feel the same way about me. But, like in prison, I can’t imagine that to be so. Gazing at the sun I’m oblivious of the shadows I cast.
However dark, foreboding or uncertain the future appears, it doesn’t affect us when we are in the true-present, the timeless space before now and all that follows.
In late 1985 I was married with one child, unemployed, had little money saved and started a hedge fund managing the funds of a small group of investors. Soon after, in the Spring of 1986, I became embroiled in an “insider trading” scandal. The related investigation made the newspapers and shadowed me everywhere. I was at risk of losing overwhelming sums for legal fees, fines and penalties as well as the prospect of going to prison and being permanently barred from running a hedge fund which was my only viable means of earning a living. The investigation lasted for three and a half years by which time I had two more children. Then I was indicted. The trial concluded in late spring of 1990. I was found guilty. After two years spent on appealing the verdict, I was sentenced to 18 months in prison, fined $1.8M and had the prospect, pending appeals, of losing my license to continue managing money. I had also up until then paid roughly $2M for legal representation. I went to prison in January 1994. In January, 2000 I lost the appeals and was permanently barred from managing other people’s money.
With the attention I needed to give the investigation and trial and the dire consequences hanging over my head for eight years, investors and friends were astonished that I was able to continue running my hedge fund successfully without a care. My view was that beyond managing the hedge fund I had nothing to worry about one day to the next. The circumstances were what they were and I would deal with them as they unfolded. I wasn’t dying of cancer; things could have always been worse. In fact, I was grateful for my circumstances. I was happy. Simply, I was in the present and focused on whatever next was going to be in the now.
No know now
Now know no
Know now no
No know now. I don’t know the now, the present.
Now know no. I now know nothing.
Know now no. The present is nothingness.
When we realize the now (what we experience with our senses) is not the true-present, we also realize that everything, the universe’s manifestations, is nothing before we experience it.
Knowing nothingness is knowing that the universe is one eternal timeless thing and its infinite manifestations are temporary, ever-changing and indescribable beyond that it is what it is whatever it is.
As the universe is essentially nothingness, there is nothing to know but that we are here to enjoy it as it becomes now.
This mantra is a useful aid in meditation to focus the mind from distracting us with random thoughts. Breathing has three phases, inhale, exhale and the pause until the next inhale. We recite “no know now” on each inhale and remain silent on the exhale and pause. After many rounds, we recite “now know no” on each exhale and remain silent otherwise. Then again after many rounds, we recite “know now no” during the pause between exhale and inhale. This cycle is repeated and repeated and repeated until we and the sound become one.
No know now
Now know no
Know now no
Yes Yes Yes
Our lives are like a movie, an illusion on a screen, though it all seems very real. However, as the movie ends, the theatre lights turn on; the theatre is enlightened and so are we, seeing the illusions as illusions.
What do we see everywhere but rarely notice?
Every-thing we see is not a thing itself but light reflecting off some thing. Yet we think we are seeing the thing.
We rarely notice light except as glare from a shiny surface, a car’s headlights or the sun. Then, we immediately turn away as the light is blinding; choosing instead to see muted light, reflections.
Actually, objects themselves are light. Mass (M) is Energy (E) slowed down by the speed of light (C) squared (M=E/C*C).
As everything is light, including ourselves, we rarely notice it.
When we realize everything is light, we realize that every-thing that appears to us as not light is an illusion.
In heaven we are all even
as only souls can enter heaven
and each soul is the same.
We can bring our souls to heaven
but we can’t bring our soles to heaven.
Those who know not of heaven
cannot part with their soles until nightfall.
Then they become lost souls.
For the sun reveals the entrance to heaven
and at night heaven’s gates are closed.
Most of us think what we see is real. It’s not real, just a movie projected from our mind. We are blind to our blindness.
When we are open-minded, we can see things through the minds of others. With different perspectives we have a better understanding of what we think we are seeing, but are even more blind to our blindness.
To see what’s real we need to close our mind and open our eyes.
There is only one soul.
That’s why it’s called the sole.
The soul is rarely visible,
like the sole of our feet,
but it’s the axis connecting us to the Earth
and the foundation upon which everything stands.
The secret to experiencing the intense beauty of every-thing is to experience each thing’s uniqueness as revealed by our senses; absolutely, as it is, not comparatively.
This is easier said than done as our mind automatically distracts us from experiencing the world purely with our senses. Our mind distracts us by referencing a sensuous experience we are experiencing now to other seemingly similar experiences*; comparing something now with something that’s passed or idealized. Comparatively, some things look more or less attractive than others; but, experienced absolutely, every-thing is always beautiful if not in all ways; at least it enlivens us.
A corollary is that we are distracted from having a purely sensuous experience when we describe or analyze an experience. To keep our experience as purely sensuous, we can only say of each thing that it is what it is whatever it is. However, there is one word that identifies our reaction is wholly sensuous: WOW. The sound of WOW is made by puckering our lips like when we kiss what we love, that to which we connect with as one. WOW is also our reaction upon awakening, when we don’t remember who we were yesterday, what we need to later today and everything around us appears as we’ve never seen it before.
*The etymology of the word “mind” is memory. When we see things through our mind, we don’t truly see. We are asleep to reality; only seeing illusions, thoughts and memories To be awake is to be in the now, to experience the world through our senses.
Each of us is generally described in terms of nouns and adjectives. But that’s not who we are. Nouns and adjectives are static while we are dynamic. We are nothing but an experience.
The experience is a play that we write, produce, direct and in which we star. Our individual plays overlaps with the plays of others as we play roles in their plays and they play roles in ours.
Some plays are well-attended by the gods in the audience, while others not. With little audience interest in our individual play, we find ourselves better financially rewarded spending our time playing roles in other people’s plays than in ours. In doing so, we abandon our plays and the freedoms they allows us. At that point we are nothing, just nouns and adjectives.
However, when we love those who have even very minor roles in our play and treat them like special guest stars, maybe one day they will be; and, if not, at least they’ll enjoy their roles more than otherwise.
When our essential bodily needs (food, shelter, security and health) are met and our mind is calm and doesn’t distract or imprison us, we are free to experience it as it is, through our senses and soul.
The experience through our senses is, well, sensuous; the experience of being alive in the now as the universe is unfolding; heightened physical awareness; the uniqueness of each breath; the rhythm of our pulse; the waves of sound, light and air coming upon us; no duality between us and the experience; we’re connected with everything as all there is is is (the plural I, we).
There is only one soul which is the essence of everything. The soul is every-thing before it is something. The soul is nothingness; the space between exhale and inhale. In the space of nothingness we are one with everything.
“Om” and “oh” are the sounds before words were born.
“Om” is the incantation at the beginning and end of chapters in the Hindu scriptures, the Vedas and Upanishads. It is the sound made in ceremonies relating to the rites of passage such as weddings and during meditative and spiritual activities like yoga. It is the sound of the universe that’s meant to encompass all sounds; the sound attesting to our consciousness; the sound recognizing the divine.
Likewise, “oh” is a sound used to express our awakening, our immediate emotional reaction to something to which we have just been made aware.
The expression “Oh my God” is the most common expression heard at the moment of orgasm. In this context, “oh my God” means one is awakened to one’s oneness with God; one’s oneness with the universe before the beginning of time and as nothing becomes everything: the Big Bang.
As “Om” is an incantation that’s chanted as “Ommmmmmmmmm,” “oh my God” seems more consistent with the pace of approaching sexual climax than “Ommmmmmmmmm my God.”
“Ignorance is bliss.”
As an adage, when we don’t know the problematic intricacies of something, yet think we clearly understand it, we are happy.
A corollary would be “ignore it is bliss.” That is, when we ignore that which annoys us, we return to our presumed earlier state of happiness.
Alternatively, when we realize we are ignorant and no know nothing, the world becomes fascinating. Our curiosity energizes us. We embrace different perspectives. We seek the light in the darkness. We are alive, growing and in joyous bliss.
If ignorance is bliss, then bliss is ignorance. That is, when we are joyous we don’t look too carefully at the ramifications of our actions. This explains why many get married to an incompatible mate or do other foolhardy things that they love.
Takeshi Fuji, photographer
Shiga, Japan, 2/2/2022
There are 8 million gods recognized in the Shinto religion in Japan, a number that in traditional Japanese culture is considered synonymous with infinity. Taisha (coincidentally, pronounced like my name, Teicher), is the oldest and biggest shrine in Japan where it is said that all the gods meet annually. This photo, not of the Izumo Taisha Grand Shrine, is metaphorically Taisha. It depicts a reflecting light path over water (coincidentally, “teich” in German is “pond”) and through a shrine to the sun god, the origin of everything. The sun god is seen rising over mountains and through clouds. The mountains are opaque, ignorance, which requires great efforts to climb above. The clouds are translucent, our mind which otherwise is what shrouds the light that is everywhere.
Peace is when we are one with everything.
The time before birth.
The time after death.
The time between falling asleep and awakening.
The time between exhale and inhale.
The time when there is only one thing, nothingness
The time before nothingness becomes everything.
Awakening is the realization
we are always one with everything
but for the time of our self-consciousness
when we are oblivious of nothingness.
Each of us has a soul.
But there is only one soul.
The face of the soul is the face of God.
Our mind masks the face of our soul.
Our mind has an infinite number of faces.
Fearing the nothingness beneath our mask,
few dare remove it.
But only then can we see the face of God.
Our mind sees through our ears. When we see through our mind, we are blind to our blindness.
Our mind cannot see. It envisions the world through the stories, meanings, generalizations, etc. it hears as we are socialized. When we in turn see through our mind, we don’t see what our eyes see and are blind to our blindness.
For example, when a good friend tells us of a super-hot sex experience he had the previous night with a girl he picked up at a bar, we’re happy for him; until we realize the girl was our wife.
We suffer when we desire what we don’t essentially need as desires preclude us from appreciating what we have.
Those who so suffer are fools, funny to everyone but themselves and other fools.
We create the road ahead when we seek answers to our questions. But when we are given answers to questions we never had, we are proceeding on someone else’s road.
We either buy things or are sold things. A true buyer seeks to know what they are buying. A passive buyer is sold things.
At birth we seem to separate from being one with the universe. At death, we reunite with the universe. Blessed are those united with the universe in life, for they do not suffer death.
Religious practices vary considerably such that there is no scholarly consensus about what precisely constitutes a religion. However, religions are generally founded on matters supernatural, transcendental and spiritual. Standing on this foundation, all early adherents are on equal footing.
As more adherents join a religion, structures are built upon its foundation to house them. The structures have many stories, stories upon stories; each sustaining the story above it. The most desirable living spaces in these building structures are those with the best views, those on the highest stories, the stories raised to reach the heavens. These living spaces are given to religious leaders and their wealthy supporters. Then, all adherents are no longer on equal footing. In fact, as soon as the structures are a couple of stories tall, their foundations are buried underground and not visible. All that remains are the stories.
Every thing new as we knew nothing.
“Every thing new” because the universe is ever-changing.
“As,” simultaneously; that is, everything is new and yet I still know nothing about it.
“We” (not I) as there is only one thing: the universe which expresses itself in infinite and seemingly finite manifestations. Referring to myself as “I” implies I identify as a finite manifestation. Awakening is the realization that I am the universe, not a finite manifestation of it.
“Knew” (not “know”) because every experience is a past experience, even as we experience it in what seems as now. Now is when our consciousness registers the universe expressing itself. However, now is not the present. Now is in the past. The present is the “pre-sent,” the universe before it expresses itself. Thus, all that we experience is effectively in the past.
“Nothing” is what everything is before it is. Upon awakening, we come to realize the universe is inherently empty, nothingness. Thus, everything is new as we experience it as it is what it is whatever it is in the now. However, as our experience in the now is effectively in the past, everything is an illusion.
Meditation is a practice that puts us at twilight, the space between the states sleep and awake. It’s purpose is to bring us to a calm and restful place by disengaging us from the stimulation which our sensory organs and mind use to claim our attention. In this space we simply exist. Sometimes called “mindfulness meditation,” it is perhaps better termed “mindlessness meditation” as we are now free of identities and attachments of our mind’s construction.
While there are countless meditation techniques, one approach is three short daily meditations. In these meditations we sit still in a quiet place with our eyes closed, uninterrupted by our senses. We focus on our breathing for maybe 20 breaths without our mind disrupting us with thoughts. If interrupted, we start again until we reach 20. Breathing-in is energizing. Breathing-out is relaxing. The space between exhaling and inhaling is completely dark and silent, a void that our mind would prefer we avoid. This is the present.
The present is the “pre-sent,” the space before the universe expresses itself as manifestations that are sent out and received by our senses. In the present there is nothing and we are now one with nothing. Moreover, we realize that all our life experiences are not in the present but in the now. The now is when we initially experience the manifestations of an inherently nothingless universe. Hence, the now is not the present but the past as it is initially. As the past has no independent existence outside our mind, the past is an illusion. Hence, our life experiences as we know them are an illusion.
While meditating, as we are calm and restful, we can easily drift off to sleep. But to complete the meditation we need open our eyes and awaken. We are now reborn. Everything is new to us, as we’ve never seen it before (which we hadn’t as everything is unique from one moment to the next). Now, everything is unadulterated by our mind’s meanings, categories and generalizations and fresh to our senses which heretofore had been numbed by memories of past stimulations. In our rebirth, we slowly and gently separate from being one with nothingness (which is ultimately one with everything) and assume our finite bodily being. Soon after we engage with the new yet familiar world in which we find ourselves until our next meditation which is like all others and unique.
It is through mindlessness meditations we come to realize the universe has no beginning and no end; that it has infinite manifestations; that it is ever-changing, in constant transitions; that it cannot be described beyond that it is what it is whatever it is. Upon knowing this, we know we are the universe and as such we never die as death, like all else we experience, is an illusion.
It Is What It Is Whatever It Is
Whoever shall come to know the circle these words form will not suffer death.
For the universe is a glass of sparkling water.
Each of us a bubble that seems to come out of nowhere,
uniquely traveling its way to the top of the glass
and then seems to disappear.
We don’t disappear.
We become one with everything
as we are from before we appear as bubbles.
Many folklore and religious beliefs hold that God created man from clay. Perhaps so. But clearly, “civilization” has refined the clay man; sanding and polishing, sanding and polishing; again and again and again. Now what remains of God’s clay man may still not be perfect, but there is more clay dust on the floor than anything else.
This parable speaks to the divide between “progressive” and “conservative” approaches to the political order. Simply, progressives aim to realize an idealized world in which individual freedoms are progressively more limited, while conservative, speaking for the clay man, say: “enough already.” As each side has compelling arguments, it is difficult to say which way to vote; but if God didn’t get it right when man was first created, it’s unlikely progressives will.
I AM WHO I AM
Acronym: I Y
Mantra: I why?
A mantra is a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation. Mantras calm our mind to free us of random distracting thoughts as well as stories, meanings, explanations and justifications that accompany much of what we do in daily life. When calm and free, we have only a child’s answer to “I why?” or “why am I doing what I’m doing?:” “Because that’s what I am doing.” In other words, it is what it is whatever it is.
Koan: I why? Who am I?
A koan is riddle whose answer awakens us from the illusory nature of conventional thinking to realize the nature of reality. Who am I? The answer is not my name or other identifying characteristics. The true answer is that I am who I am; I can’t describe myself otherwise because I’m not the same person now as I was when I started describing myself. This answer acknowledges the ever-changing nature of the everything. Thus, when we truly know something, we know that it ultimately can only be described as it is what it is whatever it is. All other descriptions are approximations or illusionary.
Divine riddle: When Moses asks God who God is, God says: “I am who I am.” Why is God not more specific with a name or description?
God has no name and cannot be described as doing so would mean that God is one thing and not another. God is everything, as everything is a manifestation of God.
The Tao: I am who I am as “the Tao is ever nameless.”
“Though simple and subtle…As soon as rules were made, names were given. There are already many names. One must know when it is enough. Those who know when it is enough will not perish.” — Tao Te Ching, Chapter 32.
Names are identities and descriptions of things. Names are necessary for us to communicate. However, by defining parts of the universe as discrete things, names disguise the nature of the universe. “Every thing” is not a discrete thing but is interdependent as the universe is one thing that is expressed as infinite ever-changing manifestations. When we come to know the nature of the universe, we know we are the universe; the universe is eternal and we will never die as death is just a name of something which is temporary.
Self-realization: I am who I am. I am one of the gods.
I am the roles I play in the play of life. My roles are many, various and temporary. When I am eventually scripted out of the play, I join the gods in the audience watching the play which is who I am before entering the play.
The play of life in three Acts
The word “terrific” in the 19th century meant terrible and has since transitioned into meaning wonderful. Likewise, the play “Terrific” begins as a tragedy and ends as a farce.
Birth and Socialization
Act 1 begins at birth; a happy time, a sad time. While the most joyous moment in a parent’s life, birth starts a tragedy for newborns as they enter the stage crying. Newborns feel the tragedy of it all; that before birth they were one with everything and upon their birth they they are finite in space; from oneness with everything to duality, the finite self and everything which is not the self. This is animal consciousness which is the basis for much of the conflict in the play of life.
After birth, we learn the ways of human life on Earth. We are socialized to perceive, think and behave in the ways of the socialization circles (family, religion, nationality, education, special interests, etc.) in which we are members. Thus ends Act 1, the transition from otherworldly, the time before birth and after death, to the human experience.
In Act 2, each of us assumes various roles in the play. Roles include career, family, religion, personal relationships, social group identities, passtime interests, etc. Most of us take these roles seriously, take ourselves seriously and forget that these roles are simply roles in a play and not who we truly are. We are oblivious of who we are before birth and after death: one with the nameless infinite, God.
As we make our way in the play, our mind creates memories and stories that are the foundation of our identities and roles. The stories frame our experiences. We don’t experience things as they are but as our mind has defined them. This is karma. Karma often leads to live unhappy lives and precludes us from realizing our potential, divine consciousness.
While our lives are often difficult dramas, they are an entertaining farce to those in the audience viewing the play. The audience are the gods like those from Mount Olympus who Homer tells us in the “Odyssey” effuse the air with a deafening sound of laughter.
In Act 3, each actor is written out of the play’s script with their bodily death. However, Act 3 is the transition of our essential self, God, to a seat among the gods in the audience where we can enjoy the farce, the play “Terrific.”
The transition is the realization that life is a play; that we are not finite but one with everything; temporary, ever-changing and interdependent expressions of God. As we let go of our finite bodily form, we embody wisdom and compassion and realize life is terrific.
Most of us never come to realize during the play of life that we are just actors. We take ourselves and our roles seriously. We are oblivious as to whom we were before birth, one with everything, and that we will again be one with everything after bodily death. This makes our lives great dramas, but at the cost of much suffering.
Those of us who are enlightened actors know that life is a play and that we are gods with temporary human roles. For these enlightened actors, regardless of their various roles, life is terrific as they have a good laugh making their way through the play of life.
Keep smiling until there is something to laugh about.
Real smiles anticipate and welcome laughing. By smiling, we open ourselves up to seeing things in a funny way. That is, smiling has a powerful placebo effect that precipitates laughing.
Smiling is highly contagious. Our smile moves others to smile, making them likely to see something as funny. As others see the funniness of something, we’re infected by their laughter.
What’s funny (as in odd or ironic) is that nothing is funny but almost everything is. What makes anything funny is when people are unaware and take seriously individual or collective self-serving or delusional perspectives; when deceit is revealed; when the truth reveals what was held as meaningful is meaningless. That is, when people take illusions seriously.
But laughing is a serious matter. It’s an essential part of the purpose of life: to have a wonderful time, realize our potential and help others likewise. When we’re laughing, we and others are having a wonderful, liberating and soulful go of life.
In any event, laughing is one of the keys to health as it’s a non-poisonous remedy for pain or stress. We lose our self-consciousness when we’re laughing and forget whatever pain or stress was ailing us. Moreover, laughing with others connects our souls and energizes us which further relieves pain or stress.
Not all smiles however are created equally. Plastic smiles are not real smiles and have little therapeutic value. They’re artificial, man-made, like masks. Wearing a smiling mask limits our facial muscles from extending to broad smiles and soulful laughing.
Wisdom and compassion are the essence of divine consciousness.
Wisdom is embracing many perspectives, not solely our personal perspective. Compassion is treating others as we wish to be treated.
Wisdom is light. Compassion is love.
While seemingly mutually exclusive, wisdom and compassion are mutually dependent as one doesn’t exist without the other.
Wisdom is the realization that “every thing” is a different aspect of one thing. While “every thing” appears as a distinct thing that seems it can be variously described, “every thing” is temporary and ever-changing. Thus, “every thing” cannot be described as it is not the same thing at the end of its description as it was at the start. Ultimately, “every thing” is a manifestation of one thing that cannot be described beyond that it is what it is whatever it is. Thus, “every thing,” when viewed as independent of the one thing, is illusionary. Though illusionary, “every thing” appears real, different from every other thing and as a function of our individual perspectives and attitudes. Thus, to truly know some thing, and ultimately realize it is part of the one thing, we need to embrace all perspectives and accept that our personal perspective is not better than that of others. This is wisdom. With wisdom, we embrace others and their perspectives as dear to us as ourselves and our own. This is compassion.
With compassion we treat others as we wish to be treated as we realize we and others are just seemingly different, temporary manifestations of one thing. Thus, with compassion, we identify with others and embrace their perspectives.
Hence, compassion and wisdom are one.
Ultimately, as in Dante’s “Divine Comedy,” wisdom is the light that leads us to compassion, the love of everything, as “every thing” is everything.
Now know now
Our senses and mind create the now; an illusion of infinite manifestations that are engaging, distracting and often frantic.
To know now is to know the present. The present is not now. The present is the pre-sent, the space before we are sent what our senses and mind experience as now. The pre-sent is empty, nothingness; a peaceful place, like the space between when we exhale and before we inhale. The pre-sent cannot be described, it is what it is whatever it is.
Om Shanti Shanti Shanti
“Om Shanti” is invoked at the end of every Upanishad. The Upanishads are ancient Hindu scriptures on the nature of ultimate reality. “Om Shanti Shanti Shanti” means peace in body, mind and soul; peace individually, collectively and universally. The peace beyond understanding. The peace when all is nothing.
IT IS WHAT IT IS WHATEVER IT IS
Acronym: I Y Y
Mantra: I why why! I why why?
Koan: I why (who am I)?
The Universe is the uni-verse (one verse): IT IS WHAT IT IS WHATEVER IT IS.
“W” is “double U.” II-WII-WII = II-UU-II-UU-II.
Double Helix of the Universe: II-UU-II-UU-II. I am I, U are U, I and U are one.
The initial “I” is I as a finite and temporary being, finite in time (birth to death) and space (body); temporary, as I am not now who I was before now. The finite “I” is our self-identity; a duality, “I” and all that is not “I.” It is our finite consciousness as created by our senses and defined by descriptions and stories our mind creates. The second “I” is the infinite “I” that has no birth and no death; eternal, before the beginning of time. The “I” that is the Universe and its infinite unique and ever-changing manifestations of itself. I am who I am, both the finite and the infinite “I.” The “U” is “U” as in “Universe.” The initial “U” is the finite, temporary and that which is not “I.” The second “U” is the Universe and its infinite unique and ever-changing manifestations. The finite “I” and finite “U” are discrete manifestations of the one infinite “I” which is also the infinite “U.” The finite and infinite are interdependent as one cannot exist without the other.
The Universe is a timeless void and it’s manifestations ever-changing in time. Finite consciousness experiences time as a duality, the present and the past. However, what we experience as the present is an illusion; that which is happening now is actually the present-passed. The present-passed is not different from the past. The true-present is the pre-sent, the universe before it is sent out as expressions of itself that we experience as now. The true-present is nothingness, empty and timeless. It is the time before time begins. Presence is the Universe’s present to us: divine consciousness, the experience of the true-present. Presence is awakening to the realization that we are both finite and infinite; one with the Universe before the Universe expresses itself as finite manifestations of which we are one. It is a calm and peaceful space, like the empty space between when we exhale and inhale. It cannot be compared to anything or described, for IT IS WHAT IT IS WHATEVER IT IS.
Humans are a transitional species. We are born and socialized with animal consciousness and with the potential of realizing divine consciousness.
Animal consciousness is viewing ourselves as finite in time (birth to death) and space (bodily form). It is essentially dualistic as we perceive ourselves as apart and separate from all that is not ourselves. Implicitly, it is Darwinian, stressful, as each of us competes within our environment for our survival.
Divine consciousness is the realization that everything is one of infinite temporary manifestations of the universe; ever-changing, interdependent (hence, essentially one thing) and with no beginning or end. Divine consciousness is the realization of our harmonious connection to all there is.
Animal consciousness perceives life as imperfect with relative flaws in one thing or another. Divine consciousness realizes the universe is perfect and as we are one with the universe we realize our perfection and having nothing about which to complain. This is an essential element of happiness.
The Golden Rule applies to both animal and divine consciousness. In animal consciousness, those with the gold rule. In divine consciousness, we do unto others as we would have others do unto us.
In animal consciousness we experience our world with descriptions and stories, making “every thing” seem different from every other thing. The experience of divine consciousness is beyond words; it is what it is whatever it is.
With animal consciousness we view ourselves as the center of the universe. With divine consciousness light is the center which in effect means the center is everywhere. Divine consciousness is enlightenment.
Animal consciousness is about living, divine consciousness is about loving. The difference between living and loving is the difference between “I” and “O.” “I” is the self. The letter’s form implies hierarchy. With each of us a point on a vertical line, we perceive others as above or below us (the Great Chain of Being). It implies duality and competition. “O” is continuous, each of us a point connected together to form a circle. This is love, the connecting of independent points creating a whole; a circle with no beginning and no end. Though the circle may appear as a duality with spaces within and without, the duality is an illusion as the spaces are not in conflict; they are mutually dependent, one cannot exist without the other. That is, love is the realization that what seems like a duality is just an illusion.
“There are two young fish swimming along who happen to meet an older fish. The older fish nods at them and says: ‘Morning boys, how’s the water?’ The two young fish swim on for a bit and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and asks: ‘What the hell is water?'”
Of the most basic things we are often oblivious. Yet, as we enter Act 3 of our lives, the transition, our appreciation of the most subtle things is enhanced. For example, an “ugly” formica kitchen surface, that we desperately want to replace with granite, is overwhelmingly beautiful when we envision ourselves dying in five minutes.
“Any man who carries a hyphen about with him carries a dagger that he is ready to plunge into the vitals of this Republic whenever he gets ready.”
Theodore Roosevelt: “There is no room in this country for hyphenated Americanism. When I refer to hyphenated Americans, I do not refer to naturalized Americans. Some of the very best Americans I have ever known were naturalized Americans, Americans born abroad. But a hyphenated American is not an American at all … The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, of preventing all possibility of its continuing to be a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities, an intricate knot of German-Americans, Irish-Americans, English-Americans, French-Americans, Scandinavian-Americans or Italian-Americans, each preserving its separate nationality, each at heart feeling more sympathy with Europeans of that nationality, than with the other citizens of the American Republic … There is no such thing as a hyphenated American who is a good American. The only man who is a good American is the man who is an American and nothing else.”
Identity politics in America has created a Tower of Babel as different identity groups don’t understand each other’s thinking and values. Trust between groups has declined which has led to hostilities. Lacking integrity, the Tower will collapse.
In broad terms, there are “progressives” who wish to destroy the historical American identity of capitalism and personal freedoms of speech and choice at the local level and supplant them with central government controls, while “conservatives” wish to preserve this American identity. Identity groups are represented by politicians whose operative word is “fight,” declaring: “I will fight for you [your group] for….” Rarely today do people frame an issue in terms of what’s the right thing to do, what’s best for America. Ultimately, there are temporary winners and losers on various issues but the country as a whole is every time the loser on a path to its demise.
According to Wikipedia, “A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation. The word “laser” is an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation“. The first laser was built in 1960, Lasers are used in optical disc drives, laser printers, barcode scanners, DNA sequencing instruments, fiber-optic, semiconducting chip manufacturing (photolithography), and free-space optical communication, laser surgery and skin treatments, cutting and welding materials, military and law enforcement devices for marking targets and measuring range and speed, and in laser lighting displays for entertainment.”
Clearly, a laser can do many extraordinary things relative to a flashlight. Yet, for making our way through a dark thicket, a flashlight is better. Likewise, those with a laser-sharp mind are best not deployed to solve simple tasks. For example, undoubtedly Albert Einstein was extraordinarily brilliant, yet forgot the basic concept of gravity (what goes up must go down) as he lost most of the money he received with his Noble Prize in the stock market in the 1920s.
Nothing is ever the same and never the same.
Nothing is ever the same as nothing is nothing. Yet, as everything is nothing before it is what it is whatever it is and no thing is the same as any other thing, nothing is never the same.
According to Wikipedia “The word [analyI sis] comes from the Ancient Greek ἀνάλυσις (analysis, “a breaking-up” or “an untying;” from ana- “up, throughout” and lysis “a loosening”).”
Separately, Wikipedia states the word “bullshit” means nonsense and derives from the “word ‘bull’ [which] may have derived from the Old French bole meaning ‘fraud, deceit'”
However, perhaps “analysis’ is rooted in the word “anal.” At the dawn of humanity, humans were hunter-gatherers. In hunting for prey, hunters would follow the tracks of an animal and identify it and its proximity by analyzing its feces for freshness, form, texture, taste and smell. Thus, the first analysis was the examination of anal excrement.
As civilization developed with the advent of farming, hunters tracking bison at times initially misidentified the feces of a rancher’s bull as that of bison; bullshit, not the real thing they were seeking.
We always experience reality via our senses but we rarely do.
According to Wikipedia, “an illusion is a distortion of the senses, which can reveal how the human brain normally organizes and interprets sensory stimulation. Although illusions distort our perception of reality, they are generally shared by most people.”
Illusions shared by many reinforce our individual perception of illusions as reality.
Reality is all there is, yet it is scarce in a world of mass shared illusions.
Independent thinking dispenses with illusions. However, fear of exclusion from groups sharing illusions keeps us from thinking independently.
Eccentrics, essentially those who are ex-centric (ex (meaning, out of) centric) in their thinking, are independent thinkers. Eccentrics see the illusionary thinking of others as ridiculously funny.
“He who conquers himself is the mightiest warrior.”
Perhaps Confucius means that he who conquers his self is the mightiest warrior. The self is our identity that is manifested by our body, finite in time and space. When we conquer our self, we are nothing but one of infinite manifestations of the universe which is forever and endless. To conquer our self takes the greatest courage to overcome the fear that we will be nothing. But it takes little courage when we realize the obvious, sooner or later our self will be nothing.
There is one soul to which we are all connected.
The connection is called love.
The soul is not tangible.
It is the nothing from which everything emerges.
Our bodies are manifestations of soul.
Detached from soul,
our bodies cannot connect naturally with love.
They need to make love.
I am blessed to be born with the gene of happiness.
Naturally happy, I’m always grateful in all circumstances (as they could always be worse), optimistic that better times will come soon and free to experience the moment as it unfolds (free from the prison the mind creates with personal and collective stories and meanings).
Moreover, I think everyone is happy. It’s difficult for me to imagine anyone who has their basic animal needs satisfied (food, shelter, security, health and companionship) is not happy. When people are sad or angry, I think these feelings are very temporary. When they last long, I think they have a personality defect. For example, when I was a growing up, my father was often angry with me, screamed at me, placed curbs on my freedom and on rare occasions hit me. In fact, once my father screamed: “I wish you were never born.” How did I feel? I felt that he loved me but had some personality issues that precluded him from expressing his love.
With the gene of happiness, I love everyone and feel everyone loves me; if not now, then later. While I’ve been waiting for a long time for many to eventually love me, optimism keeps me feeling that eventually they will.
When we love someone, we are one with them which makes us expand beyond our finite selves; a joyous, liberating feeling; selfless love. When we want to be loved because we feel we are imperfect and want to be accepted as we are and not judged or because we want to control the person who loves us, that is selfish love which is not love.
We always experience reality via our senses but we rarely do.
From birth, we experience reality purely as the stimulation of our senses. As we mature into adults, much of our sensory experience is adulterated by our mind. The etymology of mind is memory. Our memories, which we weave into stories based on our attitude and socialization, distort reality, making our experience of reality an illusion. Our illusions are further reinforced as they are generally shared by others. Those of us who experience reality with a childlike fascination, unadulterated, as if for the first time, experience reality via our senses.
Once in true love, in love forever; otherwise, it was never true love.
There is micro and macro love. Micro love is objectified love; an intense love of an object, a person or activity. Micro love is often temporary as that which we once are in love with we can at some point hate or be indifferent about. Macro love is loving the universe and everything in it. Macro love is connecting with everything as ourselves. That is true love.
Buddha was not a Buddhist. Christ was not a Christian.
The path to awakening starts with questioning the nature of reality. The answers can be found via personal introspection and empiricism or religious institutions and related scripture and exegesis. The personal path is unclear, frustrating and often seems futile until we open our eyes and see the light. The religious path is well-trodden, seems safe and comfortable as we are supported by many others. Ultimately, with perseverance we are likely to awaken when taking the personal path. The religious path is self-reinforcing, keeping us on the path forever.
Essentially, hard at the beginning, easy at the end and easy at the beginning, hard at the end.
“Gamblers pay speculators to play with them.”
From a certain perspective, our everyday lives are like a game wherein our lives are defined by the choices we make. Some choices provide us with immediate gratification and others with distant gratification. Our choices can be viewed in the context of risk/reward wherein the greater the risk the greater of the reward, though extreme risks often lead to negative rewards.
For those who find pleasure taking risks, there is ultimately no financial rewards as their aim is the immediate thrill of risk-taking. They are essentially gamblers.
Rewards go to those who know how to manage risk. They are speculators. They take risks that are commonly perceived to be greater than they are, limit loses from risks and take many risks to mitigate unfavorable randomness. They take risks to realize rewards and are unfazed by any one particular risk.
Essentially, gamblers pay speculators to play with them.
For those who fear taking commonly perceived risks, there is little chance for realizing significant rewards as they don’t have a chance when they don’t take a chance. They are spectators, not players, in the game of life.
Charlie Leeds was a kind and generous man; a good friend; a well-rounded Wall Street analyst, investor, speculator, gambler and spectator. At 260 pounds, perhaps too well-rounded. Charlie died in 2001 of a heart attack at age 50.
“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”
When there is nothing left to take away, all there is is nothing. From nothing came the Big Bang which created everything. Perfection is when we are one with nothing which in turn makes us one with everything.
There is little difference between sleep and death but for those who truly awaken from sleep. For those who don’t awaken, life is a dream; maybe good or not so good but not restful. As for those who awaken from sleep, everyday is always good in some ways if not all ways.
Well, it’s alright, ridin’ around in the breeze
Well, it’s alright, if you live the life you please
Well, it’s alright, doin’ the best you can
Well, it’s alright, as long as you lend a hand
You can sit around and wait for the phone to ring (at the end of the line)
Waiting for someone to tell you everything (at the end of the line)
Sit around and wonder what tomorrow will bring (at the end of the line)
Maybe a diamond ring
Well, it’s alright, even if they say you’re wrong
Well, it’s alright, sometimes you gotta be strong
Well, it’s alright, as long as you got somewhere to lay
Well, it’s alright, everyday is judgment day
Maybe somewhere down the road a ways (at the end of the line)
You’ll think of me and wonder where I am these days (at the end of the line)
Maybe somewhere down the road when somebody plays (at the end of the line)
Well, it’s alright, even when push comes to shove
Well, it’s alright, if you got someone to love
Well, it’s alright, everything’ll work out fine
Well, it’s alright, we’re going to the end of the line
Don’t have to be ashamed of the car I drive (at the end of the line)
I’m just glad to be here, happy to be alive (at the end of the line)
And it don’t matter if you’re by my side (at the end of the line)
Well, it’s alright, even if you’re old and grey
Well, it’s alright, you still got something to say
Well, it’s alright, remember to live and let live
Well, it’s alright, the best you can do is forgive
Well, it’s alright (alright), riding around on the breeze
Well, it’s alright (alright), if you live the life you please
Well, it’s alright, even if the sun don’t shine
Well, it’s alright (alright), we’re going to the end of the line
The Traveling Wilburys was a British-American supergroup which included Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jeff Lynne, Roy Orbison and Tom Petty. They came together in 1988. “End Of The Line” was published in October, 1988. Roy Orbison came to the end of the line two months later when he died of a heart attack at age 52.
When we come to the time before our bodily death, the end of the line, we realize the purpose of life: to have a wonderful time, realize our potential and help others likewise; to make the most of our circumstances instead of hoping our circumstances change; to discover the universe on our own; and not waste our time daydreaming. Moreover, we should dance to the beat of our drum; be grateful for what we have; live each day as if it is our last; and reflect on our past from a mind-revealing, psychedelic perspective (psykhē “mind” + dēloun “make visible, reveal” (from dēlos “visible, clear)), perspective. As well, we need not concern ourselves with current conflicts as long as we connect to others with love. As to material possessions, they are meaningless as what matters is celebrating our good fortune of simply being alive. Moreover, throughout our lives our personal perspectives matter and we should accept the perspectives of others and not judge them. Finally, whether our lives are or aren’t glorious, bathed in sunshine, we are all going to die. That’s alright when we appreciate our lives until then.
“Audentes fortuna iuvat.” (Fortune favors the bold)
Life is a black glass filled with water. However, because it’s black, looking in and about the glass we can’t tell what’s in it. Even when mortally thirsty, many dare not drink from the glass, fearing it may not agree with them; might even harm them. Others might take a small sip and wait for something better to come their way. Only the brave drink it all to experience life to the fullest. They don’t fear death because they know that whether you drink it or not, everyone is going to die.
Many of us are suffering from not having sufficient food and shelter. Yet many of us with sufficient food and shelter also are suffering because we desire more or better. Desire causes suffering as it precludes us from gratefully enjoying what we have.
Our mind creates desires for that which we don’t need. It blinds us from seeing how fortunate we are. This is one way our mind controls us.
When we pity people living in poverty yet otherwise apparently happy, we are truly pitiful as our happiness is founded on our temporary possession of material goods and comforts.
In pitying others, we perceive ourselves as apart and separate from others. Yet, we project ourselves in their circumstances and react accordingly which reveals who we are. Alternatively, when we are compassionate, we immediately connect with their happiness, appreciate it and share ours with theirs.
All will be best when we forget the rest.
All the best is coming our way in 2022. Undoubtedly it will be wonderful, incomparable to times past which are not real; just memories.
Times past are neither good or bad. Only we determine which are good or bad. However times past were for us individually, it is at least wonderful we had a role the play of life. And now our role, however it unfolds, continues. That is something to celebrate.
In bodily form we are temporary expressions of the eternal soul. It is our soul, God, we see in each other. It is our soul that connects us to one another as one. Upon recognising we are essentially the eternal soul, we do not suffer death and related sadness. Failing to recognize our soul, we are lonely and unhappy; the definition of a lost soul.
“Three things cannot long be hidden: the sun, the moon, and the truth.”
The sun and the moon are temporarily hidden by the shadow Earth casts. Likewise, we may turn our back to the truth when we are otherwise distracted. But, in time, as we go around the truth comes around.
Often it’s difficult telling showman from shaman. A successful shaman needs to be a showman, but a successful showman doesn’t need to be a shaman. The “spiritual” experience induced by a showman is not unlike that of a shaman. In fact, a showman’s placebo effect can be more powerful than the work of a shaman as much of a shaman’s work depends on the placebo effect too. While it might be difficult to distinguish a showman from a shaman, the better showman wins a greater audience.
I am God. Anyone who doesn’t recognize me as God, doesn’t recognize that they too are God.
While most adherents of Judeo-Christian-Islamic beliefs would view a declaration of “I am God” as arrogant and punishable blasphemy, it’s actually the epitome of humility as it is a declaration that I do not exist as an independent entity as I am one of infinite temporary manifestations of God.
Ironically, those who mortally punish others for blasphemy are blasphemous in their actions as they perceive the world selfishly through their minds which create an overwhelming gulf between them and God.
Every day is always wonderful, but not all ways. Some ways a day is wonderful are immediately clear; other ways are clear only with the passage of time. Likewise, what might seem immediately wonderful may prove otherwise over time. As which ways a day is wonderful are difficult to definitively determine during the day, a wonderful day is when we accept and appreciate all ways always.
A timeless artwork has presence, forever engaging our attention; speaking to us, so to speak. But it is also mysterious as each of us sees it differently as what we see reveals the nature of our respective minds. Thus, as it is different things to different people, it can only be said that it is what it is whatever it is. As it truly can’t speak to reveal itself, it remains a timeless mystery.
Last night I had another fabulous dinner at Joe Bruno’s Pasta Nostra restaurant in Norwalk, CT. Upon entering the restaurant, Joe greeted me: “Hey Victor, how do you feel?’ To which I replied: “Alive and healthy, can’t complain.” To which Joe remarked: “You must be a masochist.” And then we both roared a laugh.
What Joe is saying is that there is a lot of difficult, frustrating or painful shit in life one needs to deal with beyond issues of just being alive and healthy. If after all the shit one is still happy to be alive and healthy, then one must be a masochist and enjoy difficult, frustrating or painful shit. Maybe so or maybe whatever comes one’s way is wonderful in some way.
NOTABLE & QUOTABLE: RUSSIA
“An unidentified ‘senior administration official’ in a Dec. 17 U.S. State Department telephone briefing for reporters:
You asked what the Russians are up to. I will let the Russians speak for themselves with regard to what they’re up to. We believe, the President believes, our allies believe that if there are concerns–and we have concerns on our side, they clearly have concerns on their side–they are best discussed diplomatically…And that is what we are proposing, and that is a far better path not only for Ukraine and all of us but for the Russian Federation itself.
I mean, let’s remember that Russia has one of the highest Covid levels in the world. The Russian people don’t need a war with Ukraine. They don’t need their sons coming home in body bags. They don’t need another foreign adventure. What they need is better health care, build back better, roads, schools, economic opportunity. And that’s what the polling is showing in Russia. So we hope that President Putin will take this opportunity for diplomacy and will also listen to the needs of his own people.”
Often, when we talk about others, we are subtlety (or in this instance wholly) talking about ourselves. Here, to great folly, a senior administration official is showing Russia his cards; essentially saying that the US doesn’t have the will or the resources to help the Ukraine fight to remain an independent country; that the US supports a diplomatic settlement that would presumably slice off some of Ukraine’s eastern border for Russian consumption.
The quote is hysterical as it reveals the senior administration official doesn’t have a clue about Russia’s priorities. Cluelessness is characteristic of those who are overwhelmingly ideological and perfunctorily empirical.
When someone has their basic needs of food, shelter, security and health and yet is angry or unhappy because one thing or another didn’t go the way they had hoped, it’s confusing and funny to those living in dire circumstances.
It’s difficult to have empathy for those living in the relative lap of luxury and yet complain. They complain because they are essentially selfish. We can feel badly for them, not because of the issues about which they’re complaining, but because they are selfish which invariably is an unhappy state of mind. They are focused on themselves and oblivious to the everyday hardships many people face. They fail to reflect about how someone plagued by famine, homelessness or disease would view their sadness. A simple cure for their unhappiness is to reflect on how others less fortunate would view their circumstances But, if they can’t do that, they do provide others less fortunate with a good laugh.
This 5.9cm object is reputedly a charm used by a Siberian shaman. A shaman is a healer and diviner. The etymology of “shaman” is the Tungus root sā-, meaning “to know.”
At first blush it looks like a maskette with a smiling or angry human face, spanning the gamut of human emotions. The empty or negative space within the outline of the face is greater than the lines that form the facial features. That suggests that what’s behind the face, the mind, is empty. With our mind empty, we are cured from much of what ails us and are free to see beyond ourselves, the future.
Alternatively it looks like a woman’s body without a head; just a pair of breasts, vagina and protruding legs. For some men that would be the ideal woman as it would cure them of much of their woes.
This one-hand quartz watch is an entertaining timepiece.
The watch’s one hand is gold-colored and emanates from a gold center disk, presumably the sun. The one hand is like a ray of sunlight whose movement reflects the passage of time. A full-circle move of the one hand represents the 24 hour day. Hence, the perimeter is crowded, allowing only markers that indicate time in quarter-hour segments. The day begins and ends at the lowest vertical point on the perimeter, the darkest hours. Other than the one hand and the markers, the watch face is a dark blue cover over the watch’s internal movements which is like dark matter; unseen but presumed to affect all that is seen.
With one-hand indicating time, it is like a sundial. Like the movement of the sun’s golden rays is the movement of the watch’s gold-colored hand. However, sundials are the most primitive of time-telling machines and this watch, propelled by a quartz movement, is most modern.
With a quartz movement, the watch accurately measures time with a monthly accuracy of 15 seconds, considerably more accurate than a mechanical watch. However, as it has no markers indicating minutes, reading the time indicated is a bit of guesswork with 5 minutes leeway. Ironically, the most accurate watch is also the least accurate watch.
As reading the time indicated is a bit of guesswork, this watch is unlike mechanical watches which we read without thought. Reading time on this watch requires our attention, awakening us a bit, and each reading is like never before which is the nature of time. Moreover, as we cannot precisely read the time, we know we can never be completely certain where we are in time. Maybe we can’t be certain of other things as well. If so, best to go slow and not make choices impetuously. As well, we are unlikely in the same time-place as most other people whose watches are more in sync.
The preceding is what I see in this watch, making the watch funny. Funny in that the watch allows very different views which are at odds. In looking at things I always find something about them funny. If not, I know I don’t know what I’m looking at.
Black, white, Hispanic, Asian, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Jewish, etc. were once adjectives. They identified someone’s superficial self-evident physical appearance, skin color and/or dress. These adjectives didn’t imply anything about an individual’s nature or attitude. What defined a person was a function of our interactions with them.
Today, these adjectives have become nouns. As nouns, they imply various socioeconomic and personality stereotypes that form our perception of the people they identify. The nouns are generalizations and, as all generalizations, are empty of anyone real. However, we perceive others in terms of these generalizations, group identities, not as they are.
Individuals also often identify with group identities and behave accordingly, not as independent individuals with their own minds. Moreover, they view themselves as different from other groups. This leads individuals to view the world as “us and them” which often leads to conflicts.
Our eyes see differences between individuals as adjectives. Our mind transforms these adjectives into nouns.
I love everyone and feel everyone loves me. If someone doesn’t love me now, I feel they’ll love me later. Unfortunately, the reason they don’t love me or others is that they are mentally ill. Mental illness is very common, at times in the simple form of taking oneself too seriously as an entity apart and separate from others.
Since early childhood I always felt stupid. Many people seemed strange as I didn’t know why they did what they did and how they thought about things. I still feel stupid but now realize they are not strange. They are like me. They also don’t know why they do what they do or how they think about things.
“The fool doth think he is wise, but the wise man knows himself to be a fool.”
Unless they are clearly threatening to us, it’s difficult to take seriously someone who takes themselves seriously.
When someone can’t laugh at themselves, it’s difficult to take their perspective seriously.
When we are one with the light, we take everything lightly. We realize everything is light and when we or others think otherwise it’s funny.
It’s important to think another world war is coming. If it doesn’t come, we’ll feel terrific as we’ll be in a better position than had there been a war. If it does come, we are in the best position to deal with it proactively because we anticipated it.
The more we look, the less we see.
Many of us are more focused on how we look than how we see; how we look to others than how we see others. How we look to others is not how others see us as others are also mostly looking at themselves, not seeing others other than relative to themselves. When we realize others rarely see us, we don’t need to be locked down by how we look and we are free to open our eyes to see everything.
The way is the nature of the universe; ever-changing, interdependent, eternal and infinite light manifestations of the sole One, the soul. The Way is the path we take from when we are a manifestation in bodily form at birth to our bodily death when all that remains is the soul. When we know the way of Way, we can be one with the One before our bodily death. Then, the Way disappears as the illusion it always was and all that remains is light. We are present, the soul before it is realized as light manifestations.
When the present is realized as light, our sensuous experience of it cannot be described (it is what it is whatever it is) but as the acronym of the way of Way (“WOW”). The sound of WOW is made by puckering our lips like when we kiss what we love, that to which we connect with as one. WOW is also our reaction upon awakening, when we don’t remember who we were yesterday, what we need to do later today and everything around us appears as we’ve never seen it before.
The Pope asked the Zen master: “Since you are one with everything, how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” The Zen master laughed: “What’s a pin?”
“How many angels can dance on the head of a pin” is an expression from medieval times referring to the philosophical clergy debating pointless topics. Zen doesn’t suffer abstrations (angels) gladly but for a good laugh. Zen questions the very basic assumptions we make about the identity of things everyone agrees is reality (a pin) as everything is forever-changing and interdependent.
A Zen master with a clay pot on a table before him asked several students: “What is this?” Some said it was a clay pot; others said that it was a man-made artifact; others said it was a table supporting a pot. A lively debate ensued. The Zen master shook his head and laughed. Then a student approached the table and threw the pot to the ground where it cracked into many pieces. An audible silence enveloped the room until the student asked: “What is it now?” Then silence again returned to the room as some students were shocked and others embarrassed by the aggressive arrogance of the student who shattered the clay pot. But just as quickly the Zen master and the student broke the silence with laughter.
This story is essentially a Zen koan: “What is it now?”
The Zen master and student laughed because they recognized the other students as the blind men in the “Ten Men and the Elephant” parable. The pot is a pot temporarily. The pot did not have an independent existence as it was just a temporary expression of the universe. The pot could variously be described but it is what it is whatever it is.
*A story as heard by Bill Wisher 30 years ago from an unnamed source.
The ten men and the elephant is a parable in many variations from the Indian subcontinent, dating back more than 2,500 years.
In a small village in India there were ten men who had heard of but had never seen the greatest animal in the jungle, the elephant. Determined to see an elephant, the ten men hired a guide to find one. After several days of trekking in the jungle, the guide saw an elephant and called forth the ten men. The men approached the elephant and in their excitement each touched a different part of the it. The man who touched its tail said the elephant was like a snake. The man who touched the elephant’s leg said the elephant was like a tree trunk. The man who touched the elephant’s tusk said it was like a seashell. Each of the ten men described the elephant very differently. Soon the ten men, each insisting that their view of the elephant was right, started to argue and eventually came to blows.
Clearly, the ten men were blind and didn’t know it. As to the elephant, it is what it is whatever it is; but whatever it is, it is big.
The moral of this parable is that the universe (the elephant) is beyond our limited perception. When we are certain of the infallibility of our perceptions, we are blind and don’t know it. Taking our perceptions too seriously, we can make fools out of ourselves and at times hurt others or ourselves. Even holding ten funny, as in odd, views may not allow us to know what we are looking at; but it’s funny, as in laughable, when we think we do.
Dendrochronology is a scientific analysis of dating trees. It reveals geological and atmospheric (climate) events and changes over time.
Likewise, blood analysis has evolved such that it can identify significant events of our lives. Apparently, blood carries memories of our past experiences. A blood analysis can identify experiences like the number of lovers we’ve had and other emotionally charged experiences.
In a landmark study sponsored by Theranos, children as young as 12 were mentally transported, through hypnosis, to age 75. Once transported, their blood was analysed and they were given the results. They were then asked to describe their past. While the blood analysis identified facts, their descriptions identified their attitudes. For example, some whose past indicated they had had more than one hundred sexual relationships had regrets of having too many relationships; others felt they had had too few. Ultimately, all the participants in the study, when told of the facts revealed from an analysis using generic blood, described their past vividly but with little relationship to the facts. This observation has led researchers to conclude that each person’s past has only a minor effect on their perception of who they are.
Life is simply not perfect, giving us many reasons to complain. When we stop reasoning, we have much for which to be grateful. Simply, thanking is better than thinking.
The daily usage ratio of thank/think measures our state of happiness.
There is only one mind, the universal mind that some call God, to which all our individual minds are connected. When we realize our mind’s connection to the universal mind, we can experience the universe through the universal mind’s connection to all other individual minds. This is the essence of wisdom.
There is only one soul, the universal soul that some call God, to which we are all connected. When we realize our soul is the universal soul that’s compassion.
Our individual minds and soul are housed in our animal bodies. Unlike the universal mind and soul which are eternal, our bodies are finite. When our identity is our universal mind and soul, we live forever after transitioning from our body. Otherwise, our self dies when our body dies, as animals.
We experience the world through mind, soul and body. Divine is the life experienced through our connection with the universal mind and soul. Selfish is the life whose principal identity is the body and individual mind.This is the difference between animal and divine consciousness.
As we are born as animals in a hostile world, our initial identities are our body and individual mind. However, unlike animals, we have the potential to connect with the universal mind and soul. Once initially connected, we know the way to the universal mind and soul. However, our connection to God is easily distracted for long periods of time, even a lifetime, by our bodily needs and our individual mind. To minimize distractions, we are helped by soulmates. Soulmates are those with whom we connect not solely via our connection with God but directly, soul to soul. When we are distracted by our bodily needs or individual mind, our soulmates can help us us back on the way. This is love, seeing the face of God in our soulmates.
“Do not be so open-minded that your brains fall out.”
A mind open to many possibilities can be fooled into taking an irrational path. A closed mind cannot see the optimal path.
Better to “keep your head in the clouds and your feet on the ground.” Mike Robbins
“A man of wisdom delights at water.” Confucius
While attributed to Confucius, this saying is more Tao-inspired as wisdom reveals the nature of the universe. Alternatively, like a Zen koan, it seems funny, as in odd, that a man of wisdom would be more delighted by water than other men; unless the wise man sees in the nature of water the nature of the universe.
Wisdom is amalgamating many different perspectives which allows us to know the nature of things. Moreover, wisdom is knowing that all things are ever-changing and interconnected; not a piece of the whole universe but at peace with the eternal whole; in effect, a temporary expression of the whole. As such, nothing can be described as whatever we describe changes from the time we start describing it to the time our describing it ends. Hence, the Taoist saying: “He who speaks does not know, he who knows does not speak.”
A man of wisdom delights in water as water reveals the nature of the universe:
Water is practical, flowing to the place of least resistance.
Descriptions of water are conflicting as water is at times solid, liquid or vapor.
Water is odorless and tasteless, yet present in everything that smells and tastes.
Water is clear and colorless, yet bluish in thick layers.
Water in the form of a river or pond makes difficult going from one place to another, yet with a boat water is the easiest way to travel between two places.
Still waters are dead-silent, yet moving waters in rivers and oceans are alive and teeming with sounds.
Still waters are clear, yet turbulent waters are opaque.
In the water of a reflecting pond we don’t see water, we see ourselves and all that surrounds us.
While tangible, we cannot grab water to drink; we need cup our hands for water to come to us.
While seemingly weak relative to fire, water easily destroys fire.
Water is necessary for life, yet too much water can cause death.
Water represents the cycle of life. Water is born as rain; then, experiences Earth in infinite ways; and ultimately disappears as vapor, forming clouds to be reborn again as rain.
Water is delightful as how we see it is a reflection of our perspective, like the the parable of the ten men and the elephant.
I’ve often asked guys what they would do if they met a beautiful girl who invited them to bed and upon disrobing she reveals four breasts. 90+% of the boys say they would grab their knapsack and run home. The rest would find it arousing and as such stay the evening, come what may. One guy’s reaction was conditional: he would stay as long as the girl didn’t have two breasts in the front and two in the back.
A surreal answer to a surreal question.
“Psychedelics helped me realize that my problems are small compared to the world’s bigger problems like starvation and cancer. And now I understand what I’m actually here for in the world, which is to make people smile and to remind them that life can be beautiful even when it’s not so easy.”
Jose Martinez is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan where he lost both legs and and an arm. After 19 surgeries, opioid abuse, depression and anger, Jose took a facilitator-assisted psilocybin mushroom “journey” that allowed “him to step outside himself and focus on the good, and what is possible in life, which lately includes sidelines as a Paralympic surfer, an archer and a weight-training enthusiast. He also runs a nonprofit that seeks to connect veterans to nature through wilderness outings.” Andre Jacobs, The New York Times, November 16, 2021.
Jose represents the triumph of soul over self, heart over mind and the light over darkness. He is no longer a prisoner of war, a captive of his mind, as now his mind is his servant. While seemingly physically limited relative to most people, he has travelled to where few have the strength and fearless will to go: the realm of happiness.
With one eye we can see the surface of things. With two eyes we have depth perception. With multiple perspectives we can see the true nature of things. That’s wisdom.
As we only have two eyes, to have multiple perspectives we need to see through the eyes of others. This is possible when we realize we and others are one. That’s the essence of wisdom.
“The only source of knowledge is experience.”
Readings and conversations can bring us to certain understandings but knowledge comes by opening our eyes and seeing everything as never before.
Those who came to know (Buddha, Moses, Lao Tzu and Jesus) did not have a teacher. Their experience of soul was later recounted and formed into doctrine and scripture, just words.
Years back, on a cold wet winter day, I met a native Indian man (dot, not feather) at Kennedy Airport. He was a security guard, walking around looking for anything suspicious. He said he also worked as a gas station attendant, maybe 70+ hours a week in total. He didn’t work all those hours for the money as he made more than he needed in half the time. He worked because to him the only difference between working and not was getting paid while working and not otherwise; hanging out at home or walking in his neighborhood was no different than walking around Kennedy Airport. Moreover, getting paid meant he was helping others with no effort on his part.
Our experiences are mostly a function of our attitude.
Every thing is everything.
Every thing is an aspect of one thing, everything.
Every thing is an illusion
as everything is all there is.
Every thing is nothing
but a temporary aspect of the everything.
Life is a ride on a zip line connecting pre-birth and afterlife. The ride at times feels scary, thrilling and even boring. As the ride nears its end, we feel the calmness of our pre-birth.
A recent question: “How can you assess how close to enlightenment you are?”
Enlightenment is when we awaken to realize we and the light are one.
What do we see everywhere but very rarely notice? Light. Superficially, everything we see is light reflecting off things. Moreover, below the surface of things (M=Mass), everything is essentially light/energy (E=Energy) that’s been slowed down (C=Speed of Light) to assume tangible forms (E=M*C*C which is M=E/C*C). In other words, enlightenment is the realization that everything, including ourselves, is light.
How close we are to enlightenment can be measured by what we see when we open our eyes. When we see not through our eyes but through our mind (seeing things in categories and meanings), we have a long way to go. When we see things as things (it is what it is whatever it is), we are getting closer. When we see everything as light, we’re closer still.
The ultimate realization of enlightenment has nothing to do with light. Tangibly, the hallmarks of enlightenment are wisdom and compassion. When we see from many perspectives (not solely our own), that’s wisdom. When we treat others as ourselves, that’s compassion. When wisdom and compassion replace an otherwise self-centered life, we are like light, one with everything.
“The man who has no imagination has no wings.”
We cannot see what we cannot imagine. Without imagination we cannot see certain of our abilities or move quickly from and far beyond our immediate circumstances.
Materialistic people think that enlightened masters and their serious disciples are silly. Rightfully so, though ironically the enlightened are laughing much of the time and the materialistic people only occasionally.
At birth, my mother’s obstetrician told her I was the smartest baby he had ever delivered. A bit of a difficult birth, the obstetrician used forceps to pull me out as I kept trying to go back in. The obstetrician reasoned I knew where I came from, one with everything, is obviously a better place than where most of us go after birth; lives apart and separate from the infinite.
As the bottle is half full,
we have more than we need.
As the bottle is half empty,
it’s easier to carry.
Half full or half empty,
not all ways good
but always good
when good in some way.
Of course the bottle is never half full or half empty.
It is always full.
Full of liquid or air or some combination,
Every day is like another and yet unique but often not. Every day has unique common properties like sleeping, activities and thoughts. If we don’t notice the uniqueness, we’re sleeping through life.
There are two paths to happiness, the long and the short way.
The long way is gratitude, optimism and freeing ourselves from our karmic prisons. Gratitude is being thankful for the circumstances in which we find ourselves, regardless of how dire, as we know that things could always be worse. However, it is often difficult to be grateful because our mind easily distracts us to selfishly focusing our attention on our plight and not the more overwhelming suffering of others. Optimism, especially during relatively difficult times, is a natural negative feedback loop as all things tend to regress to the mean; better times follow difficult times, sooner or later. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for us to be optimistic as many of us are prone to thinking in positive feedback loops, that difficult times will lead to even greater difficulties which makes us see the light at the end of the tunnel as a train coming at us. Karma is thoughts we associate with the intentions, actions and the consequences of our actions in our past lifetimes. (Past lifetimes are the past days of our life as each day is a lifetime, not a day in a life.) Karma is seeing through the filter of our mind, not with our eyes. Thus, karma imprisons us from experiencing the present as it is. Fear of experiencing the present as it is, without the delusional comfort of collective and personal meanings karma assigns to things, makes escaping from our individual karmic prisons very difficult. Many years of meditation, a long process, can help us to happiness.
The short way to happiness is simple: love all others as we love ourselves, the Golden Rule. When we truly love all others as ourselves, we in turn feel everyone loves us; we feel one with everything; a calm, peaceful, joyful state of mind. We are grateful happy.
It might seem difficult to unconditionally love all others as at times some people treat us with loathe, not love. However, we still love them because we accept them, not judge them. Moreover, we are optimistic that if they don’t love us now, they’ll love us later. We feel badly for them because they simply don’t get it. They’re locked in their karmic prison. Or they might suffer from a mental disorder that precludes them from loving others. Or, simply, they are animals locked and have not yet realized their potential of divine consciousness. Hopefully, sooner or later, they will.
“Why is everybody now so interested in artificial intelligence, it’s been around for over a hundred years.”
Joe likely is referring to superficial intelligence which has been around since 1905 when the first IQ tests were offered. While IQ and related tests have been good predictors (as have high school grades) of future success in school, success in school reflects conformity of thought (thinking like test writers and teachers who determine grades) and the ability to delay gratification (doing schoolwork instead of goofing off).
Real intelligence can only be identified by life choices and outcomes over time; those that prove to be most fun and of least regrets. But that’s more a function of wisdom and luck than intelligence.
I once knew a very remarkable man who was not particularly remarkable; a high school teacher who was well-liked and well-considered; a middle class family man who had no deep interests or hobbies beyond sports and the stock market. But, he enjoyed his life as was his life.
He played basketball and was a locally competitive runner when he was young. As he aged, he became more sedentary. By the time he was 80, he became physically compromised and couldn’t leave his house without an aide. His wife worked and he stayed home all day, busying himself with watching TV, reading the newspapers and playing with his dog. He didn’t seem to have much of a life at that point.
In his old age, physically limited and with little interactions with others, I asked him a question which I’ve asked many an elderly person: “What was the best time of your life?” His answer was unlike any, remarkable: “Now.”
He clearly knew what few do; that joyful memories are not real, just memories; that now is all there is; that experiencing now is being alive and he was grateful for that experience.
“The best is the enemy of the good.”
That which we perceive as the best distracts us from appreciating that which we perceive as good. However, the good is also the enemy of the best as perceiving things relatively, as best or good, precludes us from experiencing things as they uniquely are.
Best and good are relative categories, empty of the things they arbitrarily contain. Experiencing things we’ve categorized, we experience our the associations we have with the categories; not things as they actually are. As everything is unique, experiencing things as they are is the experience of being present. Categorizing things as relatively best or good precludes us from the gratitude that invariably comes from the experience of being present. Gratitude is one of the keys of happiness. It’s difficult to be grateful when we are distracted by the enemies we create.
Empathy is feeling the suffering of another, comforting them and sharing their pain which helps alleviate their pain. Compassion is helping others as we would want others to help us make the best of our circumstances and move forward to ultimately realize our potential.
As sentient beings, we are immediately empathetic to others when they suffer a significant acute misfortune. But soon after the shock of misfortune, we need to dispense with empathy lest it supports chronic selfish self-pity which precludes people from moving forward as best they can. It’s then time to have compassion and rejoice in gratitude as the misfortune could have always been worse.
Many believe that after we are no longer in bodily form there is an afterlife to which we all go. What happens in the afterlife is only limited by peoples’ imagination; from heaven to hell and everything in between. Presumably, heaven is a place of eternal joy and hell a place that is not to our liking. Heaven is like a company’s Rewards Department and hell the Complaint Department.
What, if anything, happens in the afterlife is speculative as none have returned to life to inform us. However, the afterlife is most likely akin to the place we presumably were before we were born, the pre-life. A place perhaps like the Garden of Eden where all our needs are provided and we care for all God has created. As no one has complained about our time in Eden and if the afterlife is like the pre-life, the afterlife must be heaven.
But the concept of hell must have some basis in fact. If it’s not in the afterlife, it must be here on Earth; a place where people often complain and don’t treat others as God’s creation, like themselves.
Ultimately, with our basic needs met and no need for wants, with gratitude and compassion we have heaven on Earth.
I recently viewed a video lampooning Donald Trump. The video was captioned “Donald Trump’s Concession Speech.” The video shows a scene from The Wolf of Wall Street movie wherein Leonardo DiCaprio, the CEO of a brokerage firm, defiantly declares to his white salespeople and traders “I’m not leaving” after he was charged with securities fraud. The firm soon collapsed as did Trump’s administration.
Perhaps cute to those who view Trump as a defiant crook heading a misogynist racist male cabal. But the video clip is also telling of the age-old conflict between educated priests and rough and tumble merchants.
Brokerage firms have two arms, sales/trading and research. Sales/trading is what the business is about; the rough and tumble of buying and selling stocks to make money. Research supports sales/trading with investment ideas. Research analysts analyze companies’ past performance and prospects, write reports and recommend stocks to buy and sell. Research analysts, like highly-educated priests, are articulate, well-reasoned and cogent in their analyses. However, while never in doubt about their recommendations, they are often wrong. Due to having different perspectives, there is a natural friction between traders/salespeople and analysts. Simply, analysts think traders/salespeople are lowbrows and traders/salespeople feel analysts “don’t get it;” that is, analysts don’t know how to make money in the markets.
However, traders/salespeople and analysts realize that each plays a necessary role in a firm’s success. The open question is who is to lead the firm. Analysts think that as they are the more educated, articulate and intelligent, they should lead a firm and have traders/salespeople work for them; a hierarchy based on perceived intelligence. Traders/salespeople view themselves as working for the customers which are the essence of the business. They believe who runs the firm should be based on the Golden Rule: those who make the gold rule.
The presidential election was likewise divided. Many who were anti-Trump (Democratic Party progressives) are like brokerage firm analysts, highly educated and articulate. They described Trump supporters as stupid, immature, greedy, deplorable, misogynists, fascists, Nazis, etc.; simply, “bad people.” Trump supporters said of those who were anti-Trump: “They don’t get it,” they don’t know how a successful economy and liberal society functions.
Ultimately, the progressives would throw Trump and other bad boys in prison or otherwise limit their laissez-faire approach to life. But then how will the progressives afford to buy milk and who will make the milk?
Returning to the video, it’s actually very funny; though not as intended. It answers a question long befuddling the geniuses leading the Democratic Party: “Why do the people, the working class, who stand to most benefit economically from Democratic Party programs don’t vote for us?” Simply, the working class (presumably the majority of the government’s customers) might not know much but they know when Party leaders are laughing at them, thinking they are stupid, and they don’t like it.
Intelligence is having certain strong mental abilities. Wisdom is having good judgement.
Intelligence tests and academic accolades identify the fastest runners. Wisdom shows us the shortest and easiest ways to the finish line in real life.
Thoughts and words are thoughts and words, approximate descriptions but empty of real experience and knowledge.
When our mind is filled with thoughts and words, it also is empty but with no space for real experiences and knowledge.
Birth is like nuclear fission, a powerful explosion.
Love is like nuclear fusion, 3-4 times more powerful.
In fission, our soul separates from being one with everything.
In fusion, our soul reunites as one with everything.
Only listen to the opinions of others
when we can think for ourselves.
But we don’t need the opinions of others
when we can think for ourselves.
Not listening to opinions of others
will move us to think for ourselves.
We rarely see the light but as reflections of the mind. Thus, much of what we see is of the mind’s construction and we soon forget the light without which there is nothing to see.
The fountainhead is the essence of everything. But we often forget the fountainhead when we look at it’s manifestations downstream.
The mind is the flames;
and destructive burning heat.
The soul is the bush;
supporting the flames
but not transformed by the flames.
The mind is wisdom,
The soul is love,
When work is work and not fun, something is not working.
When work is something we do to make money, the purpose of work is the ends, money; not the means, the work itself. However, fun is hiding in the means.
At work, people reveal how they think and what they take seriously. Often they’re very funny, though not intentionally which is what makes them funny. That makes work fun, not work. If work is not fun, we have a lot of work to do on the job and on ourselves.
If work is not fun in reality, then it can be fun in our memory which is what really matters.
Divine love is compassion, treating all others as we would treat ourselves as we see others as not other than ourselves, imperfect and perfect simultaneously.
Animal love is being “in love.” When we are in love, love is a veneer that masks the otherwise clear imperfections of those we love. We treat our loved ones with love but not others who we see as imperfect. Moreover, when we are no longer in love with our loved ones, we see their imperfections.
As nothing but the universe as a whole is perfect, if we accept our individual imperfections instead of deluding ourselves by being in love we can begin to experience divine love.
As the universe unfolds in probabilistic and random ways, certainty is an illusion that masks fear of uncertainty. When we are no longer fearful, we can see the present unfolding as it is.
The way is how something works.
The Way is the route taken in order to reach a place.
When we know the way, we know the Way.
The way is self-knowledge; knowing our personal self (the realization of our soul) and our greater self (the unrealized soul of God,) are but one soul. Thus, the Way is the route God would take to reach the heavens; treating others as ourselves.
Consciousness makes music and verse
from a crazy and noisy universe.
Let only those with feet on the ground
travel to where the universe is being bound.
It is there that they will see
all that will be.
But others best not dare
go to this place unaware.
For it’s doubtful they will return
as they were without a burn.
Josh Henderson is an artist who took his life
as his mind was overwhelmed with strife.
Sex is the oddest thing. A pleasurable thing, like eating, laughing and sleeping; fun. However, unlike other pleasures, sex is often adulterated and conditional, requiring fidelity vows (disguised as proclamations of love) as a precondition to engaging in sex. This leads to less sex and less fun, though it’s funny as it reflects that we don’t know love and can’t enjoy unadulterated sex.
As everything is forever changing, nothing can be rightfully described as “new” because newness is the inherent characteristic of everything that appears now. What once was is what once was, not the same as whatever it is now. However, when we are young our mind makes repeated experiences seem old and first experiences seem new. Ultimately, our mind makes all experiences seem old as everything we experience now our mind frames in the context of experiences passed. That’s what makes us old.
“They were looking for love everywhere but couldn’t find it because they had none of it to give.”
What does this mean?
(1) If we don’t have it, we don’t know it and therefore we can’t identity it when it comes our way. Hence, we should not seek what we don’t know.
(2) We can’t find something outside of us that which is not us. Us and everything else is one thing, infinite manifestations of the universe. Upon realizing our oneness with everything, we realize our seeking is like a dog chasing its tail to the point of frustration and exhaustion.
(3) We need to give in order to get. Love is about sharing with others, treating others as we would wish to be treated. There is no love unless we can give and receive it.
(4) Whatever you think it means.
External duality is the inherent state of sentient beings. At birth, we are separated from having been one with everything in the womb and before to being finite beings; finite in time (birth to death) and space (our physical form). Our reaction to this separation is crying as now we begin life in the stressful/painful context of duality, I am me and everything else is not me. Duality is the foundation of adversarial relationships between the me and not me which in turn reinforce duality. Duality is stressful and the path that takes us away from our purpose in life: to have a wonderful experience, to realize our potential, divine consciousness, and to help others likewise.
Enlightenment dispels duality. Enlightenment is the realization that we are one of infinite, unique manifestations of light and we and the light are one. As one with everything, there is no duality. Once the illusion of duality disappears, we begin the realization of our purpose in life.
“No man is as pitiful as one who doesn’t wish others happiness.”
However jovial one might appear, one is profoundly unhappy if one doesn’t wish happiness for others. Or as John Lennon wrote:
“You can shine your shoes and wear a suit
You can comb your hair and look quite cute
You can hide your face behind a smile
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside
You can wear a mask and paint your face
You can call yourself the human race
You can wear a collar and a tie
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside…
Your can go to church and sing a hymn
You can judge me by the color of my skin
You can live a lie until you die
One thing you can’t hide
Is when you’re crippled inside…”
We rarely much notice that which we perceive as normal. Our mind perceives certain things as similar to other things (or the same thing at a different times), categorizing these things as normal. Normal things are experienced not as they are in their true uniqueness but as the characteristics of the categories into which our mind places them. The categories are imaginary, empty with nothing real in them. Categories are the illusion our mind creates to replace reality.
The theater is dark
and then we are born.
Soon movies come on,
one and another and countless more.
Family, friends and others
steer us to movies in which they star.
We pick one or a couple
and watch them intently,
identifying with certain actors
their roles and the storyline.
These roles define our lives
as it all seems very real.
But when the movie ends
theater lights break the darkness
and the movie is revealed as just a movie,
a two-dimensional illusion.
When we know from the start it’s just a movie
we enjoy it for what it is, entertainment,
and suffer little regardless of our roles.
Many religions believe that a good life, when we are grateful for our good fortune and help others so they might also be grateful, assures us a good place in the world to come, the time/place after we are no longer in bodily form. Maybe, maybe not; but certainly it best assures us a wonderful time in the moments ahead.
Politicians are forever seeking, at the lowest cost to them, the public’s attention. They do so by fabricating for journalists outrageous stories from minor events. Hoping to catch the public’s attention, viewers and in turn advertisers, journalists publish these stories in the free press. Then the politicians act, presumably for the benefit of the public, in reaction to the stories they read. Their reactions make real news, at the cost of making many lives difficult.
Love is when we are unconditionally happy experiencing the happiness of our soulmates. As we are made happy by the happiness of our soulmates, our happiness in turn makes them happier which in turn makes us even happier. When this vicarious happiness approach is also that of our soulmates, that is true love.
It is better we give our love to others than gifts of monetary value. Money comes and goes. Thus, we may not always have enough money to gift. But the love we dispense stimulates our heart to replenish and then some whatever we give.
A wonderful life is one of no regrets; a life of many poor choices, none of which we would ever wish to reverse because our life as a totality is wonderful.
As everything is interdependent, reversing a poor choice results in everything changing. Thus, a poor choice can be made good but the totality may not be for the better, maybe worse.
When our life is wonderful in its totality, why trade it for another. If it’s not wonderful, we have not realized our purpose.
Moreover, dwelling on poor choices and what might, could or should have been does not make for a wonderful life as it precludes us from experiencing the present moment.
If someone greatly disappoints us, even harms us, we can’t be upset with or hate them. We can only be upset with ourselves as our disappointments are generally a result of self-deception, our thoughts and expectations that put us into potentially disappointing situations. Thus, we can learn from these experiences and adjust our thinking and expectations going forward. However, we learn little by blaming others and open ourselves up to future similar disappointments.
Moreover, in realizing our self-deception, we can ultimately have a good laugh at ourselves and are then no longer upset.
The average CEO at a United States company makes 250 times more than the average worker. Some workers and ideologs complain about this apparent income inequality and call the CEO selfish. Perhaps, but not necessarily. More likely, if the CEO has any sense, he is happy; grateful for his good luck. However, complaining workers and ideologs are selfish; anger, envy and greed are the faces of selfishness. They take their ideological thoughts seriously instead of being thankful that in reality they have a higher standard of living than most people in this world.
Likewise, when a CEO gets angry at a worker who could care less about how he is treated as he is grateful he’s making a living, the CEO is selfish and the grateful worker happy and thankful for the bonus of a good laugh at the fatuous CEO who can’t appreciate his good luck.
Complaining is selfishness which precludes happiness. Happiness come from being grateful for one’s good fortune.
Exit-essentialism is a philosophy or attitude to life and death that focuses on exit strategies.
The universe has two constants. It is forever-changing and forever. Exit-essentialism in life is a micro/personal approach to the forever-changing. Exit-essentialism in death is a macro/philosophical view of our individual transition from bodily form to forever.
The difference between exit-essentialism in life and death is like the difference between micro and macro economics. Our lives are micro. Our death is macro. As in microeconomics, micro exit-essentialism in life is an approach to individual choices and changes that come our way. As in macroeconomics, macro exit-essentialism is a big picture approach, a top-down philosophy, that is the guiding light on our way through life. While seemingly different, the micro and macro are interdependent and complimentary.
In life, as Heraclitus informed us 2500 years ago, everything is forever-changing. Most changes we find imperceptible but some changes are significant; beneficial or detrimental. Awareness of the ever-changing nature of life allows us to experience the newness of everything. It is energizing.
As we make our way in life, micro exit-essentialism is the awareness that our choices and unexpected detrimental changes that put us in harm’s way. Exit-essentialism is imagining detrimental changes to our situations and ways to most safely exit these situations. As detrimental changes generally happen slowly and then seemingly suddenly, by imagining detrimental changes we can see them before they fully realize and make choices that keep us from the full brunt of harm’s way. As such, best to avoid situations where we cannot envision detrimental changes and exits to limit our losses.
Macro exit-essentialism is knowing our exit out of this bodily life. The exit is to the place from where we, our soul, came before we were born. A place about which no one has ever complained. The place where everything that is and will ever be is, the true-present. It is God, divine consciousness. It cannot be described other than by saying it is what it is whatever it is. When we go there, we are one with everything. Moreover, in knowing where we go when we no longer in bodily form, we know we are a temporary expression of everything as is everything else. We are always (before, during and after life) in this place but are distracted when we assume a seemingly independent bodily form and have animal consciousness.
Having the knowledge of macro exit-essentialism provides us a certain perspective on life. We are less distracted by everyday situations and experiences, taking them less seriously. We accept changes as they are a constant in the universe. We experience the newness of everything. We are energized. We find it hilarious that other people don’t know exit-essentialism and make fools of themselves when they take themselves too seriously. Our experience in life is less stressful and more wonderful. Macro exit-essentialism makes for a terrific life.
When we know and embrace micro and macro exit-essentialism, our lives are wonderful and we are comfortable taking risks that reward us in life.
Personal, commercial and social relationships can be characterized as “give and take” or “take it or leave it.”
In a give and take relationship, each party views the other as a package with positive and negative characteristics, needs and behaviors. To have a viable relationship with minimal conflicts, each party represses certain aspects of themselves or does things they would otherwise not do to please the other. Mostly give and take is done implicitly but sometimes there is an explicit accounting: “I did this for you, what have you done for me lately.” Give and take relationships are more of a job than a joy. Most commercial relationships are a give and take; otherwise, people wouldn’t need to be paid to work.
For example, in a personal relationship one party may desire to have sexual relations with others outside the relationship. However, their relationship mate might find that unacceptable. Thus, for the sake of limiting conflict in the relationship, the one who desires sex with others refrains from doing so.
In a take it or leave it personal relationship, each party loves the other and their relationship and accepts the other as they are. Each party does not necessarily view the other as perfect. Moreover, they don’t perceive the other in terms of their individual positive and negative features. They accept each other as a package deal, as the totality of who they are outweighs any aspects that might otherwise be problematic. This allows each party the freedom to be themselves. This is love; all is perfect, including each other’s shit.
While give and take might seem like a good operating system for two agreeable people, take it or leave relationships are founded on love which better braves time.
Atheists and pantheists are seemingly at opposite ends of the spectrum. Atheists believe God doesn’t exist; that those who believe in God have been so taught and are unquestioning; that empirical independent thinkers don’t believe in God unless proven otherwise, which has never been done. The word atheist was born in The Age of Enlightenment. However, as pantheists believe God is everything, they are truly enlightened, living happy lives.
For atheists, God is nothing; hence, beyond description or comprehension. For pantheists, everything is a manifestation of God. These beliefs are not inconsistent: from that which is beyond our comprehension comes everything, God.
All other God related beliefs systems between atheism and pantheism are man-made. They describe God and God’s actions and ritualized requirements of man. They view man as apart and separate from God, finite and not interdependent with all there is. Other God related beliefs were created for social identity and order and to provide calmness and confidence for their adherents in an unpredictable and hostile world.
Often there have been scenes of a Hokai, a master Zen priest, and female students involved a consensual and mutually pleasurable sexual relationship. Due to socialization and karma, many members of the monastery perceive the relationship as sexually coercive and immoral. They perceive the female student as subordinate to the Hokai who is taking advantage of his position to gain sexual self satisfaction. They may feel angry or betrayed in that the sexual affair is inconsistent with how they learned to expect the Hokai to behave. They also may want to punish the Hokai by demanding his resignation. They are angry because they cannot perceive the mutually pleasurable sexual relationship is, simply, two people enjoying themselves.
Seeing someone getting angry at others who are enjoying themselves is absurdly funny generally and especially in the context of Zen where one comes to see with one’s eyes, not one’s mind; that it is what it is whatever it is.
Things don’t need to make sense to make sense or cents; but they needs to make sense to make dollars.
If we don’t understand something (make sense of it), it can still be possible (make sense) or viable (make cents). But we need to understand something to make a lot of cents (dollars).
The past has two parts, the near-past and the past of which we cannot remember. The near-past begins with our birth until the present. The past before our birth we cannot remember. We don’t know whether this time was wonderful or not. But it probably wasn’t bad because no one complains about it. However, we always complain about something in the near-past.
No one knows what it will be like for us after our death. But chances are that it will be like our past before we were born. That doesn’t sound like anything to complain about.
While it’s difficult to be sure, it seems like the time after birth and before death is infinitesimally small relative to the time before birth and after death. So why focus on this tiny period, take its matters so seriously and sometimes complain, when we have nothing to complain about in the virtual totality of our experience.
We are but actors on the stage of life,
performing for the entertainment of the gods in the audience.
When we exit the stage, we join the gods.
Whatever our temporary roles in the play,
all are wonderful as long as we don’t forget who we truly are.
Wisdom is having multifold perspectives which allow us to understand a situation and the ramifications of choices we make. Beyond our personal perspective, additional perspectives can be had when we truly connect with others and view the world as they see it. However, doing so is not easy.
Easier may be taking the perspective from the end of our days, the death perspective. The death perspective allows us to consider how we would feel in light of the possible consequences from the choices we make today; thus, allowing us to make choices we will least regret at the end of our days, the choices that realize wonderful lives.
The death perspective reveals how we will remember our lives and by extension how others will remember us when we are no longer in bodily form. It is wise to leave everyone with happy memories.
Moreover, the death perspective awakens us. With little time remaining before bodily death and not distracted by mortal pain, everything is intensely beautiful. This informs our experience of the present. It awakens us to gratitude, a key element of happiness. As well, as we frequent the death perspective, the prospect of bodily death is not as fear-fraught as it would be otherwise.
Once we avail ourselves of the death perspective, we can more easily access the perspective of others, wisdom.
We are asleep together in the winter
in the clouds between heaven and Earth
and awaken as snowflakes
falling on mountains high up.
In the spring we melt into water
flowing into distant rivers.
When the rivers meet in the ocean
we are together again,
one with the ocean which seems all there is.
Which is it but for those who know we are one with everything
before evaporating into the clouds.
A friend, Rodney (pronounced Rod-knee), is all about love, deep empathy, compassion and cosmic sex. Rodney’s been in some very deep intense love relationships. Unfortunately, they all ended the same: The women he loved killed it all when they starting bring up thoughts about the future. He asked them why they did this. They all replied that while they and Rodney had a connection of heavenly bliss in the present, the bliss was unlikely to be eternal and the women wanted to secure a future for themselves and Rodney that would also be blissful. To which Rodney replied: “Can’t we stay in present bliss just a bit longer before going into the future?” “No” they replied, because at that point the women were already sensing the present bliss starting to fade; that Rodney would soon realize who they were and their intentions.
Metaphorically, Rodney wanted to enjoy the sensuous meal before him and the women want to prepare for the next meal which meant he needed to go out on the hunt soon again; not something he wanted to think about. However, when he did go out, he went out to hunt for another woman.
Ultimately, it’s only worthwhile talking about the future when the present isn’t particularly blissful. This is optimism. As the future can effortlessly be painted as blissful as we wish, talk of the future can transform an unpleasant present into a beautiful state of mind, at least temporarily. While optimism is a key element of happiness, happiness is unattainable without gratitude for the present; difficult when the present is unpleasant. Hence, if we are in a romantic relationship that isn’t joyous in the present, best not to waste time and effort trying to dream it away; better to find another mate.
Dis-ease leads to disease.
Dis-ease is the catalyst for most deadly disease. Dis-ease comes in the form of stress, anger, sadness, envy, fear and infinite other selfish states of mind.
Laughter also precludes dis-ease; laughing at our stupidity for taking something or ourselves seriously, for letting thoughts of time past or future distract us from the present. Experiencing the intense beauty of the present overwhelms selfishness.
At this moment, at the right here right now when our experience is solely via our senses and before our mind processes it in ways that make it unrecognizable from how we sense it, everything but that which puts us in harm’s way is wonderful. It’s all beautiful as well, absolutely beautiful; or, if not absolutely, then beautiful as it enhances the beauty of that which is absolutely beautiful.
Moreover, while there is nothing new under the sun, everything is new as everything, us and what we are experiencing, is ever-changing. If we don’t experience the ever-changingness of the moment, we are not experiencing the moment.
When we experience the moment not via our senses but solely via our mind, our experiences are orderly and seem to make sense; but they are non-sense. This is one way we lose our way.
Acclaimed experts in various speculative fields (like economics, history and the evolution of man and the Earth, etc.) can look deeply into the past and create elegant and entertaining stories that cogently explain how the past unfolded into the present. However, instead of leaving it at that, we often to look to these experts to predict the future. Unfortunately, regardless of how convinced they and we are of their prognostications, they cannot see the future (beyond as an extension and repeat of the past) when they are looking too deeply into the past.
Ultimately, we are right here right now. The past and future are worthy of a glance but otherwise an illusionary distraction.
The future is a big blank canvas with only our imagination and skills limiting what we can paint. After we begin painting, our skills improve but what we’ve painted limits our imagination. We can however always start again but with a smaller canvas as the canvas is our time on Earth. Yet, better to paint something small, skillfully, refreshingly and imaginatively done, than something big, ugly and of limited imagination.
Those who are conventionally smart have telescopic or microscopic minds. They can see farther or closer than most of us can see. Those who are wise can see from many different perspectives, not just their own. While a telescopic or microscopic mind is clearly more powerful and would hence seem more valuable than a wise mind, the wise mind has many perspectives which is almost always better than one.
Wisdom is having many disparate and often contradictory perspectives. Wisdom allows us to know the nature of things which makes for a relatively easy and entertaining life. Most people find wisdom elusive, hard to access as they have great difficulty letting go of their selfish perspective. Yet, living a life without wisdom is the most difficult thing of all.
God has given us the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. Complaining about our lives or not being grateful for the life we have is insulting God.
Those who believe in God believe that God decides what happens to us after we depart Earth. Thus, insulting God is an ill-fated approach to living if we hope to go to a good place after we leave Earth.
As to those who believe there is no God, life revolves around them. Death is consciousness lost. They little fear death as they have died countless times; at least once daily at sleep time.
Regardless of whether one believes in God, each day is a lifetime. We transition daily from birth to sleep-death. Each awakening is a life anew. However, our daily new life is experienced in the context of our prior lives. Happy prior lives (lives lived with gratitude, optimism and happy memories) assure us of happiness in our current life. Thus, to be in a good place after we die, best to enjoy our lives and be grateful that we can.
However, as to those who spend time and effort arguing with others that God doesn’t exist or more generally fight to have their secular beliefs rule everyone’s life, are they enjoying themselves? If they are, there must be something wrong with them. If not, maybe they should believe in God.
Who we are is our way.
The road to our destination is the Way.
When we know our way
we know the Way,
living in harmony with our way.
When our way is clear,
the Way is here.
When we are integrated, in unity, we know who we are, accept ourselves and work to realize our purpose in life. Then our Way is clear: to show up right here right now as ourselves.
When we identify with who we once were or with our past experiences, not with who we are and what we are doing now, we are like figures in a wax museum. Everything is cool until it’s not cool. Inevitably, when the temperature rises, when we are in circumstances that test our mettle, our imposing surface melts and reveals we are just generic skeletal forms.
When we identify with who we are and what we are doing now, we can best deal with whatever comes our way.
What’s difficult at the beginning is easy at the end; easy at the beginning is difficult at the end. A life in sync with physical and mental strength, agility and health (which peaks in the first third of its duration) is difficult at the beginning and easy at the end.
When easy at the end, the only difficult thing at the end is recalling the earlier difficulties as now they too seem easy upon reflection. Thus, difficult at the beginning is easy at the end and makes the beginning difficulties also easy. Likewise, while easy at the beginning is difficult at the end, when the end is difficult the beginning provides us no easy respite.
We start as one, invisible white light.
Then separate into paints, a colorful sight.
Mixed together, the colors turn black.
Once we go black we can never go back.
Before we are born, we are invisible white light; everything else transparently clear. Upon birth, we become tangible and differentiated into an infinite number of translucent hues. Soon thereafter, we are mixed together through socialization, our unique colors turn black and everything is opaque. This is almost irreversible as the darkness induces a self-pleasing sleep state.
But when we realize we are essentially white light, everything is clear again.
When things don’t go the way we had expected because others disappointed us, we can blame them and/or ourselves. Solely blaming others is selfish, being upset and unhappy because we not grateful for our overall circumstances, and of little redeeming value beyond learning not to depend on particular others in the future. However, when we take full responsibility for the way things work out, we can learn something about the way we are which may preclude us from losing our way forward.
Wisdom makes a mind flexible. A flexible mind easily changes the decisions it makes; not necessarily as circumstances change but as it views circumstances differently. Flexible minds are often frustrating to those with whom they interact who are not flexible. Their frustration can make it difficult for someone with a flexible mind, unless they have a flexible mind.
“We shall not cease from exploration and at the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.”
After the end of days, we arrive at the place before our birth. It’s like a simple frame surrounding an engaging painting, we don’t recognize this place as we’ve busied ourselves in life. It is here however where we come to know who we are and have always been; nothing and one with everything.
The universe is a glass of sparkling water.
Each of us a bubble that seems to come out of nowhere,
uniquely travelling its way to the top of the glass
and then seemingly disappears.
We don’t disappear.
We become one with everything
as we are from before we appear as a bubble.
Every day is wonderful in a different way. That’s what makes it wonderful
While we remember very few of all those wonderful days now passed, that doesn’t take away from their wonderfulness. It allows us to more fully experience the wonderfulness of today.
We are born at sunrise and start making our way,
following our shadow getting smaller by midday.
Then our shadow behind us now again grows
until we both disappear to where no one knows.
With our back to the sun we start on our way,
then follow the sun for the rest of the day.
Unless we move forward while looking back
which keeps our way dark until it turns black.
She was a wonderful and beautiful girl,
promiscuous and with low self-esteem.
She had the pick of the litter
but picking the litter was her dream.
A beautiful girl can have the most desirable mate, unless she has low self-esteem and feels she doesn’t deserve the best. With low self-esteem she feels mates are only interested in her for their sexual pleasure which she liberally provides to attract them. Beautiful and promiscuous makes her wonderful for her mates. Picking many mates, she get the average mate; like garbage relative to the most desirable.
Luck is the key to success. Luck is identifying opportunistic situations and making lucky choices to realize the opportunities. Anyone who thinks their success is solely a function of their own abilities and efforts is a fool. Fools are prone to bad luck unless they accidently get lucky.
To get lucky we need to constantly be on the lookout for luck. Luck happens everywhere but in some contexts more than others. Work is where lots of luck can be had. Working long hours and keeping our eyes open to identifying potentially lucky situations, we increase our chances of getting lucky. When luck arrives we recognize it immediately as we anticipated its arrival. We then embrace it fully and enjoy a ride to success, if we are lucky.
Man has two ways through life. The way of the dog and the way of god.
Dog/God is a semordniap, a word whose letters read backwards also spell a word but with a different meaning.
The way of the “dog” and the way of “god” are suggested by the typeface of each word. “dog” begins with the letter “d” whose topmost part is above the horizontal axis of the word and ends in “g” whose lowermost part is below the horizontal axis. This suggests that the way of the dog begins in the heavens and ends below the ground. It begins with a sense of superiority, arrogance, and ends in equality with all. Likewise, “god” begins with “g” whose lowermost part is below the horizontal axis and ends in “d” whose topmost part is above the horizontal axis. It begins with equality, modesty, and ends in the heavens, in oneness with God. Simply, starting with arrogance leads us to death and starting with modesty leads us to the heavens.
“o” is a symbol of perfection. The space within and the space without the “o” are mutually exclusive, mutually dependent and all there is. It is the now, the akin Earth experience of both dog and god; differing only in that the dog way enters the now with a sense of arrogance and the god way enters the now with modesty. Beyond the Earth experience, there are two ways: the way to the ground (the dog way) and the way to the heavens (the god way), death or transition. The choice between the ways is easy; dog is not man’s best friend, God is.
Paul Rand was a personal friend, a graphic designer who assiduously focused on typefaces. I was with Paul at his deathbed. Paul didn’t die, he transitioned.
Idol worship is holding sacred a tangible object and worshipping it as an incarnation of God. Doing so negates the sacredness of all else. Everything, however, is a manifestation of god. Holding an idol sacred is the antithesis of worshiping God.
Taking ourselves too seriously, like when we get angry, is akin to idol worship as in doing so we are oblivious to the sacredness of all of God’s creation. More broadly, worshipping money or other self-centered pursuits is the same as idol worshipping.
As idols are a manmade depiction of God; idols are a depiction of us, I-dolls.
All religions hold sacred a simple truth, the golden rule: compassion, treating others as we wish others to treat us, treating others as ourselves because we are all one. This is the way to liberation from the selfish self. This is the way to be one with God; to realizing our purpose in life, divine consciousness. If we are not compassion incarnate, religions subject us to rules, regulations, rituals and absurd protocols in the name of serving God. Only when religious followers awaken and embody the simple truth, the golden rule, can they have freedom from religion.
Within colorless white light
hide the spectrum of colors.
When the sun dances with rain droplets
the rainbow appears
revealing the spectrum.
Blue is the symbol of wisdom.
Red is the symbol of love.
Between blue and red is yellow,
the symbol of God.
Flanked by wisdom and love is where God is hiding.
When we know wisdom and love,
we know where God is.
No one is getting out of here alive. We all transition from this finite life to realize we are one with the universe forever. We transition as a piece of the universe to at peace with the universe.
In time before the transition, we ready ourselves for sleep unlike the countless thousands of temporary daily sleep-deaths. Best a dome shaped room, like the dome shaped egg from which we came, with a video of the night sky; our hand held by a loving one; and waves of sound of transcendental music filling the room to quiet our mind until we and the waves light and sound become one.
If the loving one speaks, what is there to say but “I love you, always have, always will, always and all ways. Thank you for being you. Thank you for having me.”
Food is among the wonderful physical pleasures of life, engaging our senses of smell and taste. Once swallowed, the pleasures are over, our bodies absorb some of the food for nutrition and let the rest go. Not letting it go is constipation. Constipation can be debilitating, distracting us from fully enjoying ourselves at whatever we’re doing.
Likewise, as to all experiences; best to enjoy them at the time, learn what we can from them and then let them go.
“Most people ask for happiness on condition. Happiness can only be felt if you don’t set any condition.”
“I’m a free person; I feel terribly free. They could put me in chains and I still would be free because my thoughts would be mine – and that’s all I want to have.”
“To be alive, to able to see, to walk…it’s all a miracle. I have adapted the technique of living life from miracle to miracle.”
“Love life and life will love you back. Love people and they will love you back.”
“We only begin to live life when we learn to accept it on its own terms.”
“Of course there is no formula for success, except perhaps an unconditional acceptance of life, and what it brings.”
“Even when I’m sick and depressed, I love life.”
“When I was young, I used to have successes with women because I was young. Now I have successes with women because I am old. Middle age was the hardest part.”
Arthur Rubinstein is considered the greatest pianist of the 20th century. Perhaps more important are his insights into a happy life.
Rubinstein’s insights and attitude are easier said than realized. Perhaps Rubinstein was hyperthymic, a congenital disposition as is a talent for music. In Wikipedia, hyperthymia is characterized by:
Hyperthymia is a rare state of mind, happiness forever; gratitude, optimism and looking forward, not back; enjoying ourselves; realizing our potential; and helping others do likewise by example and sharing insights.
According the Guinness Book of World Records, “drunk” holds the world’s record for the word with the most synonyms, as many as 2,241. This attests to how varied each of us experiences things in a free state of mind. However, when really drunk, we’re unlikely to articulate but a couple of synonyms and not remember them after we recover.
When we’re not drunk, our experience of things is likely as varied as when we are drunk which makes it remarkable that we can understand and stand each other. Maybe that’s why we get drunk.
Together as two
we see each other much of the time.
Familiar, comfortable and at ease
in the rhythm of habits.
From a distance we look as one,
very close but not open.
Together as one
maybe far but far closer.
connected joyfully all ways,
beyond stretches of time.
Together as one and
together as two,
joy-us every which way.
Almost everything is measured today. There’s more focus on measurements and relative ranking than on the experience of that which is measured. Measurements are abstract, having nothing to do with the experience something provides. Ultimately, our focus on measuring leaves us experiencing things as a function of our mind rather than our senses. That makes experiences absurd, not real. It precludes us experiencing the absolute beauty in something that is relatively not beautiful. As such, we become oblivious that there is much about which to be grateful. As gratitude is a key to happiness, focusing on measurements diverts us from the path of happiness.
I’m uncomfortable unless I’m uncomfortable.
High anxiety can be extremely debilitating. It can cause us to freeze or panic, not a good state of mind when we need make a decision.
Low levels of anxiety may be uncomfortable but can be beneficial. Low anxiety spurs our imagination to envision many potentially negative consequences that can result from our choices. As negative consequences generally unfold slowly and then suddenly, imagining these negative consequences allows us to see them and act accordingly before they fully unfold and it’s too late to do much about them.
With little anxiety, we are comfortable, tend towards laxity and not see dangerous outcomes even when they may be obvious.
Thus, I’m uncomfortable (unless feeling uncomfortable with low levels of anxiety) when I’m comfortable.
Sage is a spice that enhances the taste of certain foods. A sage is a wise man who adds spice to certain aspects of life.
Though many are sagacious, a true sage knows not to add sage to salads or uncooked foods generally as most people would find that unpalatable.
Recognizing divine consciousness in others, enlightened people treat others with compassion. Yet, sometimes the enlightened may seem insensitive or even intentionally hurtful when they laugh at others, bruising their foolish egos. Compassion doesn’t necessarily mean one suffers fools gladly.
Essentially, life is a physical experience to be enjoyed. There is little difference between the time before our birth, the time of our lives and the time after but for our ability to enjoy physical pleasures in our lifetime. The joy of our physical experience is enhanced when we help others enjoy it as well. That’s called making love. It is joy-us.
While physical pleasures are temporary, their temporariness is to remind us that everything is temporary, including ourselves; thus, it’s best to physically enjoy ourselves in life. Otherwise, we are not truly alive.
The wisest cannot be wise when they identify themselves as wise.
Wisdom is the ability to see from many different perspectives, multi-centric perspectives. Amalgamating the many perspectives allows us to best know the nature of something now and how it may change in the future.
Identifying ourselves as wise is egocentric which limits our ability to have multi-centric perspectives and view things wisely.
Moreover, when we think we are wise we think we have little to learn. Hence, we learn little more and know less and less about that of which we once knew something as everything is forever changing. That leaves us thinking we know more than we do which is very unwise.
What’s good for you is good for me.
This is the nature of divine consciousness. You and I are one. When you have joy that comes from my loss, I don’t feel the lose; I only feel your joy. I could feel badly for myself or happy for you. The choice between feeling badly or happy is an easy one; essentially a choice between selfishness and happiness.
On watermelon: “I can tell it’s delicious without looking inside. That’s like my life.”
Our initial impressions can reveal the essence of things.
The stories we tell about ourselves are unnecessary to having a wonderful life.
Shoji Ilyama is true to his name. Shoji means quickly and smoothly.
We are manifestations of God,
like the burning bush.
Our lives are the flames,
and the focus of our attention.
The bush is our soul,
and little noticed.
However wild our lives,
we are calmed by our soul
unless we forget there is only one soul
to which we are all connected.
We create stories from our selective memories. Some of our stories are sad, painful, traumatic or otherwise disturbing. However, we have much latitude in the stories we create. Even the most tragic stories we can reconstruct to be funny. If not funny from our perspective, then from the perspective of others. We can deploy the perspective of others once we detach ourselves from the person we identify as ourselves in the past. While doing so may be difficult, illesim can help the process.
Illesim is referring to ourselves in the third person. By doing so, we recognize that who we are now is not the same person we once were.
For example, I recall that “when I was a child my father would often scream and at times hit me for irritating him. In fact, one time he said he wished I was never born.” That’s a brutal recollection. Alternatively, I can recall the same story as “when Victor was a child his father would often scream and at times hit him because Victor irritated him. In fact, one time his father said he wished Victor was never born.” Recounting this story in the third person detaches me from it; makes me feel like I’m in the audience watching it as a play. From that perspective, it’s funny. Funny because Victor seemed to enjoy irritating his father even at the cost of his father going berserk and being abusive. Clearly the scene was not a problem for Victor. That Victor’s father wished Victor had never been born was his father’s problem.
In the audience sit the Gods.
That which is beautiful engenders our love. But when love overflows from our heart, we see beauty everywhere.
Those whose love is solely engendered by beauty fail to see beauty everywhere. They view those whose love makes everything beautiful as not truly knowing love. Of course, they are talking about themselves.
Some of us are nearsighted, some farsighted. Hopefully in 2020 our vision becomes 20/20 and everything near and far becomes clear.
The above post was published on December 31, 2019. The pandemic was the apocalypse, revealing who we are individually and collectively by our reactions to the pandemic and quarantine. Now everything near and far is clear. If not, our eyes are closed and we’ll fall asleep before we know it.
Everything is seemingly experienced twice, in reality and in memory.
Our memories and the stories we weave of them we can construct and reconstruct as we wish. There is almost always a way to view our memories as funny/happy stories. Happy stories make for a happy attitude which makes for happy experiences.
“There is no karma in our family line.”
We can see this world as it is what it is whatever it is, free from the definitions, meanings and stories created by karma. We are all born free of karma but accumulate karma through our experiences of days now past. When we let go of the past, we are free of karma, can experience the present as it is and see what’s coming our way.
What Choosing Vanilla Really Says About Your Personality
“There are two types of people in the world: those who love vanilla and those who make fun of those who love vanilla. Vanilla lovers could easily gather and share laughs over the dread they feel whenever they order their favorite flavor amongst a group of friends.
So often, loyal vanilla zealots are labeled as “boring” or “unexciting” by their peers, and it can really start to wear a person down. It’s possible that your desire to choose vanilla has less to do with your taste buds’ preferences, and more to do with you as a person. As someone who chooses vanilla, you:
1. Are content. When you fall in love with something, you are happy to be tied to it for a long time without the fear that you are missing out on something better. You’re happy with being happy. You do not always feel the need to change things up just in case there’s something better out there.
2. Are confident. You don’t need the approval of others to feel good about your choices. You know what you want and it doesn’t matter than other people have their opinions about it. You don’t care.
3. Like accessories. If you’re a man, you probably sport a hat or watch on most days. If you’re a lady, then scarves are a staple, and necklaces are never forgotten. How so? As a vanilla lover, you have chosen to start with a simple base and leave room for accessories like sprinkles, chocolate chips, fruit or a variety of candy crumbles. You most likely choose to start your outfits with a basic design and then add bits of flair here and there.
4. Have a sense of humor. As mentioned earlier, you endure a lot of mocking whenever you order vanilla. You will be called “boring,” “dull,” “lame” and in extreme cases, a “waste.” If you couldn’t laugh off the criticism of others, then you would have already become a closet vanilla eater. The fact that you continue to order your favorite simple flavor, despite knowing that the mockery will surely ensue, means that you can take a joke. No one can bring you down.
5. Are loyal. Even after being mocked, joked at and tempted by many to “change it up,” you’re still deeply in love with vanilla and feel no need to stray from it. You know that you’ve found a good thing and don’t feel the need to risk a date with your favorite vanilla treat in lieu of something more decadent. You don’t step out on vanilla just like you would never desert a friend or significant other.
6. Enjoy the simple things in life. It’s not going to take a lot to make you happy, and you really know how to value the small things. Vanilla is as simple as it gets, but there’s something about that simplicity that makes it enjoyable every time. You don’t need grand gestures or constant entertainment to be happy. Material possessions and flashy gifts are not your main concern.”
Ironically, vanilla personality characteristics have some overlap to those of eccentrics, people who are anything but vanilla. Maybe people who go for vanilla are not vanilla.
Almost everything is funny in one way or another. What’s essentially funny is how people think and act and when they take themselves seriously. However, when we laugh at people, they often get upset. They don’t realize that they too could be laughing if they could see themselves as we see them. Or maybe they do so realize but are afraid to see themselves that way because doing so might irreparably damage their self-image. With their identity lost, they fear feeling vulnerable and lost because they don’t know who they are. However, they have nothing to fear since we don’t know who we are either.
Illeism is when someone refers to themselves in the third person instead of the first person. For example, my saying “Victor went to the store” instead of saying “I went to the store.”
In Wikipedia: “[T]hird person self-referral can be associated with self-irony and not taking oneself too seriously (since the excessive use of pronoun “I” is often seen as a sign of narcissism and egocentrism), as well as with eccentricity in general. Psychological studies show that thinking and speaking of oneself in the third person increases wisdom and has a positive effect on one’s mental state because an individual who does so is more intellectually humble, more capable of empathy and understanding the perspectives of others, and is able to distance emotionally from one’s own problems. Accordingly, in certain Eastern religions, like Hinduism, illeism is sometimes seen as a sign of enlightenment, since through it, an individual detaches their eternal self (atman) from their bodily form.”
Notable illeists include Mikhail Gorbachev, Alice Cooper, Marilyn Monroe and Jesus Christ.
Practicing illeism can be a refreshing and mindful approach to conversation as well as a recognizing that the person we were in our past lives is not the person we are now. Moreover, referring to ourselves in the third person implies we are a character in a play; that life is a play.
We are born as animals but are direct descendants of God with the potential to realize divine consciousness. Our potential is realized when we recognize that each of us is one with God, avatars of wisdom and compassion. As such, treat each other as we treat God, with respect and love. Those who don’t respect and love us don’t recognize us as God because they don’t recognize that they are God. They are animals and need to be treated accordingly.
“A human being is a part of the whole, called by us, “Universe,” a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest — a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness.
This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty.
Nobody is able to achieve this completely, but the striving for such achievement is in itself a part of the liberation and a foundation for inner security.”
While Einstein is considered genius incarnate for his discoveries related to the theory of relativity and quantum mechanics, much of his later work on the unified field theory or the Theory of Everything was never successfully proven. However, Einstein transitioned from physics to metaphysics; realizing the nature of consciousness and enlightenment, matters that cannot be subject to proof as they are an experience.
Passion originally meant suffering.
Passion today means love.
Likewise we transition
from suffering to love.
Before birth we are one
and after an infinite many.
Suffering begins at birth
and ends when love connects us as one.
“To love myself is to love you.”
I am you and you are me and we are one together.
The eternal and unchanging self has infinite faces of ever-changing expressions. Each face we see is us.
“Sticks and stones may break my bones
But words shall never hurt me.”
This adage has apparently been lost in contemporary American society which suppresses freedom of speech through punishments like job losses, shunning and physical and economic violence.
“The secret of happiness is freedom, and the secret of freedom, courage.”
Presumably, without freedom of choices like in the extreme case of slavery, happiness is elusive. Moreover, it takes courage to fight for our freedom.
However, the connection between happiness, freedom and courage may be otherwise.
Simply, karma is the stories, categories, relative descriptions, meanings, etc. our mind has created based on our past experiences in this life. Karma affects how we experience the present, essentially imprisoning us from experiencing the present as it is. As much of karma is not particularly happy, karmic prison precludes us from happiness in the present.
Our karmic prison is also the basis of our identities. Escaping from karmic prison means letting go of our identities. Doing so is scary as we’re very comfortable with our karmic identities, however difficult they may make our lives in the present and limit our choices. We fear the seemingly unknowable experience that follows; fear of the loneliness and loss of self that our mind tells us we will suffer if we are free. Hence, it takes great courage to turn the key that allows us to escape from karmic prison.
However, the presumed loneliness and our karmic identities are illusions. Freeing ourselves from these illusions that keep us locked in karmic prison requires wisdom and compassion.
Wisdom is viewing a situation from many perspectives, at least one of which is funny. If we can’t see our karma as funny, we need conclude we don’t truly know what we’re seeing and we shouldn’t take our karma seriously. We are then free to leave our karmic prison. However, as this is obvious, wisdom is not the secret that allows us freedom.
Compassion is the realization we are inextricably connected to others and thus treat others as we treat ourselves. Compassion is love. The etymology of courage is “heart” which represents love. The identity of oneness, not our person identity that’s based on our karma, that comes from love is the courage that allows us to escape karmic prison. Love is the secret of freedom.
We can comprehend a situation with our eyes and/or with our mind. Our eyes reveal to us the world as it appears, with judgements. Our mind shows us the world after our mind interprets, categorizes and judges a situation. Our eyes provide us a simple but more enlightened view.
A simple question identifies how we comprehend a situation, through our eyes or mind: How do we feel when our life partner engages sexually with someone other than ourselves? If we feel angry or betrayed, clearly we are seeing the situation through our mind. Alternatively, seeing the situation through our eyes, we’re happy that two people are enjoying themselves.
In the last years of my mother’s life, she was mentally clear but otherwise incapacitated. Living in a nursing facility, she couldn’t do much but be carted around to group entertainment activities like movie watching. Her days must have been intolerably long. With little for her to do, I asked her if she was often bored to which she replied: “Oh, I am busy all day; barely have time to do anything.” What was she busy with? “Thinking about my life.”
My mother traveled to the land of her memories. Her memories must have been happy as she never complained and had no regrets. That’s how my mother transitioned, living in her memories until she and her memories became one and what remained were my memories of her which also are only happy. No wonder why I am who I am.
Each of us has a soul, a minor soul.
Our soul is part of God’s soul, the great soul.
Our soul reunites with God’s soul
each time we’re asleep
and returns to reawaken us.
But this is an illusion.
Once we truly awaken
we realize there is only one soul
which is why I am who I am
and one with everything.
The past is an illusion from which we’ve selected some memories and woven them into stories that define us. However, the person we are today is not the person we were in days passed. Thus, identifying with our stories is delusional, though real in that our stories affect how we experience the present unfolding.
While we’re convinced our stories are real, we can view them otherwise. That is wisdom, the ability to hold several, often conflicting, views with at least one view as funny. Without wisdom, we are foolish not to concede we don’t know at what we’re looking. With wisdom, we can avail ourselves of our stories as funny. That in turn frames our experience of the present unfolding in a happy light. Happy memories make for a happy life.
Very few people are recognized as brilliant; yet very few are not brilliant.
There are few commonly recognized brilliant individuals in academic pursuits, art, business, science, cooking etc. However, as everyone has a unique experience and view, almost everyone is brilliant in one way or another. When meeting someone who seems seems dull, it’s not that they are not brilliant but that we are too dull to see their brilliance. Maybe their brilliance is to remind us that at times we are dull.
Much of socialization is based on fear and ignorance, negatively characterizing potentially fun experiences like sex and drugs. So socialized, we reactively say “no” when initially offered a try of that which is prohibited. Yet, once we know them we’re unlikely to say no again.
Most people want to have something special as long as it’s vanilla.
Special is such an overused word; what’s described as special cannot truly be special.
Those who want something special reveal themselves as having a limited appreciation of things.
For those with taste and appreciation, everything is special.
While many people desire to differentiate themselves in a special way, they want to do so only in the context of accepted social norms. They don’t truly want to be themselves which is the most special thing of all.
“Take your work seriously, but don’t take yourself seriously.”
Our work is that which we do to benefit others. Benefiting others is part of our purpose in life. Not taking our work seriously defeats it’s purpose, our purpose.
Taking ourselves seriously is the essence of selfishness. Selfishness precludes happiness.
Taking ourselves seriously and not our work seriously makes it not much fun for ourselves and those who work with us. Taking our work seriously and not ourselves seriously leads us to a purposeful and happy life.
I long thought passionfruit was named as such because sucking out the seeds inside the fruit with our tongue seems akin to a certain passionate sex act. However, apparently, passionfruit was named by “Catholic missionaries in 16th-century Brazil…after the appearance of the flower from which it comes. The passion flower’s individual features were found to be symbolic of the crucifixion of Christ, or as known in biblical history, the Passion of the Christ. The flower has spikes protruding from the center, symbolizing the crown of thorns. There are 10 petals, for the 10 faithful apostles. Three stigmata symbolize the three nails and five anthers represent the five wounds. The flower’s trailing tendrils were likened to whips.” (1)
The etymology of the word passion is suffering, as in the Passion of Christ. Depending on personal hygiene, a certain passionate sex act might entail some suffering.
(1) Sue Barham, food correspondent, Summit Daily.
“The ends justify the means” is a commonly used expression when the means involve meanness. However, rarely is mean behavior justifiable. Means that involve meanness have ends that are ultimately mean for all involved as meanness leads to mean outcomes. The means however justify the ends when we are kind in our means.
“The choice for mankind lies between freedom and happiness and for the great bulk of mankind, happiness is better.”
Ironic observation in that short-term happiness cannot be sustained without freedom. Often it’s a Faustian bargain for those who trade, with ideological rulers, their freedom for happiness. The rulers then gradually limit everyone’s freedom, leaving little freedom; as in prison, a place where few are happy.
“Some squirrels in south Georgia, they’ll taste a little bit more nutty. Up here [Baltimore], our acorns and stuff aren’t really as strong as the ones down south. Most of them up here, it just tastes like squirrel. If you put enough seasoning on it, you can make it taste like anything you want it to taste like.”
Ben Cleveland is a football player for the Baltimore Ravens. He comes from Georgia and ate squirrel meat when there wasn’t much else to eat. As he attests, the difference in the taste of the same meat is subtle but significant. Dressed up with enough seasoning (like humans dressed up in costumes and playing different roles), what we experience is the dressing and not the essential meat.
Each of us is who they are but we rarely present ourselves as we are. We dress ourselves up as to how we want to be perceived. Our dressing so disguises who we are that others will see us as they want to see us.
Sounds at the moment of awakening:
Aha, the realization that pleasure is the purpose of life.
Haha, realizing how simple it is to realize the purpose of life.
Hahahaha, laughing at how silly we were not to have realized this earlier.
Upon awakening, it’s good mourning; time to briefly enjoy mourning the passing away of the person we were yesterday and all the people we were in days now passed; people who are now no longer but for a memory. It’s a time to reflect on their lives in a happy and funny (as in odd) light, learn from their experiences and not take their lives too seriously. Otherwise, we’ll be distracted from realizing our life’s purpose.
While meaningless, life is purposeful. Our purpose is to have a wonderful and happy experience, realize our divine potential and help others do likewise.
Upon awakening, we are reincarnated into a life seemingly familiar to our past lives, but unique. Each day is not another day in our life. It is life in a day, birth to death from awakening to sleep-death. As such, we have lived thousands of lives, each awakening a reincarnation. Everyday is our birthday, not a commemoration but our actual birthday.
So good mourning and good luck to us in realizing our life’s purpose today. Let’s live today as it’s our first day of life and experience everything as it truly is, new and unique. Let’s live as it’s our last day and do whatever we would regret not having done in this life if we are not reincarnated tomorrow. Let’s not do what we don’t need do today, other than those things we would regret tomorrow for not having done today.
Greeting everyone with “good mourning, happy birthday” may awaken or get some to laugh, certainly making for a good mourning.
As we approach the time for our sleep-death, the life we have lived today is about to pass. It’s time to transition from self-consciousness to sleep-death. We greet each other with “good even-ing” as everyone is now made even; the smart, the stupid, the rich, the poor; all even; all one in sleep-death; in heaven.
It takes a certain level of scientific sophistication to know that an eggplant is a fruit. But we don’t have to know anything about scientifically classifying vegetables to know not to put eggplant in a fruit salad.
The Japanese have a classification system which clearly identifies which fruits to put in a fruit salad. To the Japanese, all vegetables are vegetables but some vegetables are “fruity vegetables.” For example. eggplant is a vegetable, not a fruit, since it is not fruity. Only fruity vegetables go in a fruit salad.
The foregoing is an interesting contrast in classification systems; one based on phylogenetics and the other on our physical experiences. While knowledge of the former identifies who is somewhat educated, the latter identifies who is less likely to ruin a good fruit salad. Often those who are well-educated lack common sense.
I went to the State University of New York at Binghamton where I studied English literature and poetry and graduated in 1973. Initially, I seriously thought of making a career out of writing poetry. However, I soon realized that the number of submissions to poetry magazines was many multiples higher than the number of subscribers. Clearly, in the poetry business there were more mouths than ears. Thus, pursuing a career as a poet seemed a fool’s errand.
Upon graduating, many of my friends were surprised when I decided to go into the commercial world. Some asked me why I thought, after having not even taken one course in the subject, I could make a go of it in business. My simple view was that I was likely to succeed in whatever field I chose because I was informally voted as most likely to succeed. That is, in the animal world the most successful males in a group have access to all the females they desire. As I didn’t know anyone at my age who had bed more girls, I figured girls identified me as the most likely to be successful and whose genes should be passed on.
At the end of days, we die or transition from this world. We die like a dog, forever dead, or transition to God as the eternal beings. Whether we die or transition is a matter of self-perception. If we perceive ourselves as animals, we die as animals. If we perceive ourselves as animals with divine consciousness we know we are one of infinite temporary manifestations of God, one with everything and eternal.
“…we no longer believe we can grow together as a couple…”
The line above is from the announcement that Bill and Melinda Gates have filed for divorce.
Do they have an issue growing together physically or spiritually? Physically, maybe Bill is having a micro-soft moment and needs a beautiful young girl for a certain kind of resurrection. If, however, it’s a spiritual issue, we’ll soon see Bill with a guru or a muse.
When I blow my nose, out comes some sticky and gooey parts of my brain. Feels good having a less stuffed up brain. Maybe if I didn’t have so much gooey matter in my mind, lots of things wouldn’t matter.
Reflexive sneezing (common to me and 18 – 32% of people) is sneezing induced by light, sunlight in particular. When I see the light, lots of the gooey matter in my mind is discharged.
“The urge to save humanity is almost always a false front for the urge to rule.”
Menchen, known as the Sage of Baltimore, clearly saw, more than 65 years ago, climate change for what it is: a secular substitute for fire and brimstone to instill fear in the populace which is willing to surrender freedoms in exchange for imaginary security in an imaginary future.
Our soul is heavily bandaged,
wrapped up by our mind
wrapped up with stories and meanings
wrapped up until our soul is in darkness.
Then our imagination runs wild,
further wrapping up our soul.
When we take the bandages off
our soul sees God
and we realize our soul is God.
There are times in life when we need to make seemingly important decisions. We often choose the way that leads to the likely best outcome. But better to choose the way the leads to the least worst case outcome, the path of least regrets.
“People were created to be loved. Things were created to be used. The reason why the world is in chaos is because things are being loved and people are being used.”
People are a direct manifestation of God. When we recognize this, we love all people as loving them is loving God. Everything else around us exits to aid us in realizing our purpose in life: to have a wonderful time, realize our potential and help others do likewise. This world now is not in harmony because we are abusing others in pursuit of things that we prize or think we love.
When we realize our potential, we can, as God, view this world from a distance and see its chaos as absurdly funny; but, sad close-up.
“If you want to live a long life, smoke cigarettes until you’re 100.”
The foregoing, told me more than 40 years ago by my father, is a childish joke. However, it does hint at the relationship between smoking and age.
85% of disease related death is a function of age. Consistent with this proposition, smokers who quit by 40 have a life expectancy of never-smokers. Old age and smoking is what kills us, smoking alone does not. Likewise, death at a young age due to high cholesterol or high blood pressure is very rare but common in the old.
The key to a long life is essentially not getting old.
To keep from getting old and dying before our time, we need make healthy discretionary choices on matters of sleep, diet, laughter and physical exercise. Alternatively, being young at heart, childish and childlike, will keep us young.
A good choice is not identifiable by its outcome but by whether it was a good choice at the time it was made based on, among other things, the probabilities of outcomes we imagine. Determining probabilities based on ex-post outcomes leads to miscalculating ex-ante probabilities which leads to poor choices.
Those leading the way are generally viewed as knowing the way. Often they too think they know the way. Those so thinking do not know the way of the way. The way of the way is changes; sometimes predictable, sometimes random. As the way changes course, they often lose their way.
“My father sees the worst as the best and all he has is only the best.”
He instinctively goes for the best as he is sensitive to the subtle qualities of the best. As well, he knows the best and the worst as each having their own merits.
Best to enjoy on an absolute basis, not relatively, what comes our way. Everything is unique and from some perspective wonderful in its individual beauty.
Relative to other seemingly comparable things or to itself over time or from the perspectives of others, nothing is the best but temporarily. Thus, chasing after the best is a fool’s errand.
Making relative distinctions is funny as it keeps us from enjoying what we have now which is the best relative to nothing.
I was recently at a cigar lounge in the Wall Street area in New York and talked with John, a successful businessman. As John is very dark-skinned, conventional people would say John is black. However, to me, such categories as race, religion, nationality, etc. are absurd, creating commercial and social barriers. Not knowing how John thought about categorizations, I asked him if he is black. He said: “I don’t think of myself as black but many people tell me I am.” John is certainly not conventional in his thinking and neither are most successful people.
Sometimes we find ourselves in stressful situations. That’s life. It’s then best to not forget that one of the constants of life is change. As such, difficult times will sooner or later be following by better times, as were the times before the stressful situation at hand. Alternatively, we can reflect on the end of days which puts everything in perspective. From the end of days, however stressful our current situation, we are calmed and grateful to still be alive.
Weddings are always the happiest day. For some couples it’s the happiest day of their lives, as they begin living happily ever after. For others, it’s the happiest day of their married lives as it’s all downhill from there.
When we are delighted with ourselves, we are de-lighted; the light within us dims.
Delighted, we temporarily feel wonderful about ourselves; but the without the light within us, we cannot connect with others which is forever wonderful.
There is only one thing.
It is everything.
It cannot be described,
Yet it has infinite manifestations,
Each of us is forever one with everything,
yet temporary manifestations
Those who think themselves otherwise
are thinking, not living.
The Hangman’s Beautiful Daughter is the name of a music album released by The Incredible String Band in March, 1968.
Mike Heron, a member of the Band, said at the time: “The hangman is death and the beautiful daughter is what comes after. Or you might say that the hangman is the past twenty years of our life and the beautiful daughter is now, what we are able to do after all these years. Or you can make up your own meaning – your interpretation is probably just as good as ours.”
The hangman’s beautiful daughter is a powerful image, a contrast of the terrible and the terrific; like a beautiful lotus flower arising from the muck. Born of the hangman’s blood line and raised in his midst, she may be beautiful in youth but ugly with time; like the blossoming lotus in the morning submerging into the muck at night.
The words “look” and “see” are often used interchangeably. However, they are different. To look means to direct our eyes in a particular direction. To see means we become aware of something by using our eyes.
An essential difference between looking and seeing is in the context of time. We can look at the past and at the future. However, we cannot look at the present as the present is right here, right now; not somewhere else in which direction we can look.
We can see things only in the present. We cannot use our eyes to become aware of something in the past or future because these time frameworks are not real; they’re artificial; constructed by our mind; an illusion.
Hence, for example, we cannot look for real beauty; it only exists where we can see it which is wherever we are now.
When enlightened, we can see. When we are looking, we are looking in the dark.
We have two identical and disparate identities, “i” and “I.”
“i” is the underdeveloped “I.”
“i” is a graphic image of a small vertical line, or body, with a detached head above. The detached head implies duality between body and mind. The body stands on an imaginary horizontal line that represents Earth, animal consciousness.
“I” is fully integrated, one vertical line connecting the imaginary horizontal line below (Earth) and the imaginary horizontal line above (Heaven). Heaven is divine consciousness. When we realize our potential (are fully developed) our body and mind are one, integrated and connected to Earth and Heaven, to animal and divine consciousness.
In The Light
Take a memory
What is it really
A movie that plays in the mind
What’s it like
What’s it made of
Can you touch it
Is it always there
Is it the same every time
Does it shape itself around how you’re feeling
Is it reliable
Look at it
As it changes from one day to the next, one year to the next
Until what was vivid, becomes thin, vapid, and dissolves
Like an old movie reel
What of the future
What is it made of
Without the scaffolding of the past
How can it stand
Is it not made of a better version of the past
Without something to revise
What would it be
And there’s now
What is this
Only the light
Scour the past
Hope for the future
For the holy light
The blessed light
The heavenly light
The light of God
Yet it can only be found here
Stripped of adjectives
Reduced of rank
To see the light
Is merely to look
It is inescapable
As is everything
Only the light
The past and future
Swallowed and digested in the light of now
Spreads in all directions
In the light
All is lost
“Extremism is so easy…It doesn’t take much thought. And when you go far enough to the right you meet the same idiots coming around from the left.”
In today’s American political scene, it’s hard to tell who is who; who is right and who is left, who is right and who is wrong. Conservatives, like liberals generations ago, demand freedom of speech for all political views. Progressives demand only politically correct views aired. Conservatives seem liberal and Progressives regressive. Ultimately, they are all idiots if their agenda is not what’s the right thing to do and what’s best for the country. The right thing to do is to treat others as you wish to be treated. What’s best for the country is what’s best for its health and wellbeing and the happiness of its citizens. Otherwise, left to the idiots, there will be little worthwhile remaining of the country for the idiots to fight over.
Life and death is like breathing. Inhaling and exhaling is life. The space between exhaling and inhaling is death. The difference between life and death is that life is a physical experience and death not. Thus, when we’re alive, best to enjoy the physical experience of life.
Unfortunately, some of us can’t do so because we have psychological distractions. We’re distracted because we are often stressed analyzing things too much instead of simply enjoying them.
Perhaps the most important choice we make is between selfishness and happiness.
Happiness is a function of gratitude, optimism and freedom from karmic prisons. When we are in difficult circumstances (whether real or in our mind) and oblivious that our circumstances could be worse and that many others would be happy to have our relatively good fortune, we are selfish. Moreover, when we are selfish we so greatly identify with our difficult circumstances at the moment, we forget that change is the constant of life and as such sooner or later our circumstances will improve for the better. As well, selfishness locks us in our karmic prisons, the stories we’ve created about our past; that keeps us from experiencing the beauty of the universe as it is, not as our mind frames it.
Selfishness is a choice, happiness is an outcome. We cannot choose happiness but happiness is possible when we choose not to be selfish.
“School teachers, taking them by and large, are probably the most ignorant and stupid class of men in the whole group of mental workers.”
“Socialism is the theory that the desire of one man to get something he hasn’t got is more pleasing to a just God than the desire of some other man to keep what he has got.”
“The objection to Puritans is not that they try to make us think as they do, but that they try to make us do as they think.”
“At the bottom of Puritanism one finds envy of the fellow who is having a better time in the world, and hence hatred of him.”
“If there is one mental vice, indeed, which sets off the American people from all other folks who walk the earth…it is that of assuming that every human act must be either right or wrong, and that ninety-nine percent of them are wrong.”
“Democracy is the theory that the common people know what they want, and deserve to get it good and hard.”
H. L. Mencken’s insights more than 100 years ago reveal that the long-forgotten Puritans have resurrected as Progressives today.
A friend who is a committed bachelor with an inventory of girlfriends has never lamented not being married and having a family. I always felt he was missing out on a significant experience in life. But at some point I realized he knew more about married life than I did and less than I’d like to know.
Sexual relationships are either open or closed. When open, each partner is free to engage sexually with others. Each is happy when their mate enjoys themselves with other mates. This is an enlightened view: life is to be enjoyed with acceptance and no judgement, it is what it is whatever it is.
In closed relationships, the couple is either a divine sexual relationship or has vowed sexual loyalty to each other. For the couple in divine love, sex is not an animal activity. It’s a rare spiritual connection. As such, neither mate fruitlessly looks for sex beyond their relationship. Beautiful, but extremely rare..
For the couple that’s vowed sexual loyalty to each other, their relationship is not about love (however either mate might protest otherwise). It’s a prison. If one partner or the other is caught escaping prison, they face the firing squad.
Clearly, divine love is divine. Everything else pales. But better the freedom from openness than a closed prison.
There are two approaches a man deploys to couple up with a woman. The approaches are very different and yet similar: together and to-get-her.
Together is connecting with a woman as soulmates. This is love. Once in love, physical lovemaking soon follows and is divine.
To-get-her is an approach based on fulfilling a woman’s material desires. Thus satisfied, she allows the man to couple with her. Much passion might flow between the couple, however this approach is essentially a business deal: the man gives the woman what she wants and she provides him want he wants.
Depending on who the man is, one approach is more expensive than the other.
We have two identities, our unique individual self and our common soul. We are conscious of our self and often oblivious of our soul.
Our self is our ego. It identities us as apart and separate from everything that is other than our physical self. It perceives the world in dualities (self/not self) which often are contentious.
The soul is ineffable; some call it God; the essence of everything; no beginning no end, infinite in time and space. When our identity is the soul, we are one with everything and at peace.
In life we have the choice of either identity or both. A balanced life assumes both. In death there is only the soul.
One of my favorite gadgets is the Insinkerator. It sits beneath the sink and grinds down all but beef bones. I use it several times a day and each time it’s an experience. I think about the bacteria beneath the Insinkerator; how they will enjoy the rinds of blood oranges, watermelon remains and eggshells. I’m sure they know that my eating preferences are different than that of the people who lived in my house before me.
Likewise, I think about the bacteria below the toilet. They’ve got lots of shit to eat several times a day. Recently, I had a couple of stale dry cigars that I put down the toilet instead of tossing them in the garbage bin; thinking they’d be a refreshing treat for the bacteria. After flushing away the cigars, I imagined the bacteria greeting them with amazement; amazed at their uniform shape. Thinking the cigars a treat, the bacteria rushed to eat them; but were likely put off by the taste of the cigars and declared: “this tastes like shit.”
When we are sensitive to the experience of bacteria, feeding them via sink, toilet or other pathway makes for an engaging experience. Those who are not conscious of the bacteria’s experience are essentially asleep, mechanically going through the process of disposing food and excrement. Likewise, in other aspects of their lives they’re asleep.
When asleep, we are on automatic pilot and our mind easily controls us; we are its prisoners. Our mind convinces us that those who are awake are crazy because we can’t experience what they can. Our mind makes us fear being awake because that would mean we’re crazy. Well, those who are awake may be crazy, however they are the relatively happier and free.
“I’ve travelled the world and lived in many a place. Each place is somewhat different but nothing is like America where so many people are kidding themselves.”
I met Basil Bunting at SUNY Binghamton in 1970 where he was a one-semester professor of poetry. The above quote was my recollection of Basil’s insight which has remained with me for more than 50 years.
Basil was born in Northumberland, travelled extensively and worked as an international reporter and British intelligence officer. But he is best remembered as a poet who had a close relationship with Ezra Pound in Italy in the 1930s. He was married a Kurdish woman.
When we sell a possession that holds sentimental value for us, by definition we feel somewhat sad as we reflect on times now in the past. Alternatively, we can be happy for the new owner of the possession and the happy times they will have going forward with it.
Our sadness is selfish, based on a past that only exists in our mind. Reflecting on the new owner’s future joy is compassion. For our own joy, better we are compassionate than selfish.
Life is a test. We are given all the answers before we take the test but once we get started we focus so much on the test that we forget the answers. Better to remember the answers and pay less attention to the test. In other words, better not too take life too seriously which is one of the answers to the test.
“You only have to do a few things right in your life as long as you don’t do too many things wrong.”
On investing: “Rule number one: Never lose money. Rule number two: never forget rule number one.”
In financial markets today, investors are overly focused on the return they can realize on their investments. That might be the wrong approach, especially if we do that long enough. For example, a $20 return on a $100 investment is very attractive. However, as good times can only exist if there are bad times as well (good is a relative concept), best to focus on the bigger of the two numbers; otherwise at some point we might not have anything to invest.
However, when financial markets are in panic mode and the focus is on keeping the bigger number safe, then it’s best to shop for great returns.
Virtually all of us have all we need to enjoy ourselves and realize our divine potential, our purpose in life. Virtually none of us have what we want because when we have what we want we often want more of it or then want something else; hence our wants can never be had but temporarily. Moreover, our unending wants often become like needs. As such, we never have what we need. We become needy and cannot realize our potential.
When we go to sleep, our soul leaves our body and returns to the well of souls where it merges as one with all souls. When our soul returns and we truly awaken, we can see the souls in others which are indistinguishable from ours. As such, we treat others as we treat ourselves.
The soul is God. When we cannot see God in others, we cannot see that we are God.
“Do your best and forget the rest.”
We often stress about stuff we can’t do much about which distracts us from doing our best about the stuff about which we can do something.
When doing our best we have no time to rest.
God has given us temporary bodily form to enjoy the physical experience of being alive. Those of us who remember this can enjoy life, while those who are oblivious often have a difficult go of it.
Metaphorically, we are like children with loving parents. One day, our parents take us to an unfamiliar place, an amusement park. We soon exit the daylight sun and go into a relatively dark building where there’s a rollercoaster into which our parents seat and strap us in with a seatbelt. They tell us we’ll be going on a short ride, to enjoy ourselves and we’ll be together again shortly. Once the ride starts, if we remember it’s just a ride and we’ll soon be with our parents again, we can have a terrific time. However, if we forget our parents and their instructions, our lives are truly a rollercoaster ride, at times terrifying; not an experience most of us would not want to remember or relive.
My father died suddenly of the flu when he was 60. He was a wonderful father and I loved him, though he couldn’t stand me as I often irritated him. While I don’t know where he is now, I know he transitioned to happy place; a place without me annoying him. I too am happy, joyous in his newfound happiness.
We live in a fascinating abstract world of concepts, symbols, stories and meanings. We often take our abstract world as seriously as the real world of our physical senses. When enlightened, we see these abstraction are illusions. This essentially makes people who take these abstractions seriously absurdly funny, though sometimes they can be dangerous.
Our world would be a wonderful place if everyone was enlightened. Unfortunately, there would then be no one to laugh at and we would need abstractions to make life funny.
“I’ll let you be in my dreams if I can be in yours.”
I am who I am and am thankful to those who love me as I am, not who they may want me to be. They are happy that I am happy but as my wife says, she doesn’t want me too happy.
Complementarity: “the concept that one single thing, when considered from different perspectives, can seem to have very different or even contradictory properties.” FUNDAMENTALS Ten Keys to Reality
Embracing complementarity is the essence of wisdom.
We see the world wearing sunglasses.
Sunglasses painted with ideologies and stories.
Heavily painted so no light comes through.
We fear taking off our sunglasses,
afraid we will be blinded by the light.
Though the sunglasses blind us to reality.
We start out whole and the picture is clear.
Out of the box we break apart
pieces and pieces
too many to count or remember.
As few are compatible
each madly scurries to find its mates
until no piece remains
but the peace from being whole.
When we realize our ignorance, our curiosity is aroused. If we are wise, our curiosity will reveal many possible explanations to what we don’t know. We have wisdom once we realize our ignorance.
“Everyone is interesting if you listen to them.”
When we meet someone boring, we are not listening to them; we are seeing ourselves.
What someone thinks is not as interesting as how they think which reflects who they are. Often, people’s thoughts reflect the thinking of their group identities. But how they think is always unique which makes them interesting.
“Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
It is what it is whatever it is, being who we are and saying what we feel. Some accept and love us as we are and allow us to realize ourselves. Others judge us based on how they perceive us in the context of some ideology to which their mind subscribes and want us to conform accordingly; scripting us into supporting roles in the play of their lives.. However, it’s our choice whether to accept those roles or be who we are and say how we feel.
In the Edo Period some believed that Fujiyama was a female deity and that by climbing the mountain one would be reborn, purified and able to find happiness. Today, most people are made happy by the mountain’s simple beauty.
The pantheist star (on the waters below, reflecting the top of the mountain and the sun rising) informs us that everything we see is only one thing: energy in its infinite manifestations.
Wisdom is having many perspectives which in the aggregate allow us to best know the nature of something. In having many perspectives, we no longer cling to our own perspective. That’s true wisdom, being open to many perspectives and not identifying with any one.
One of the fundamental truths of the universe is that everything is temporary. Everything is ever-changing, including us and our perspectives. Yet, we often forget this truth to our detriment.
When things are going especially well, best to enjoy the moment and remember that sooner or later times will not be as good as now. Hence, our euphoria in good times is tempered by gratitude, not overconfidence and greed; our decision-making more balanced which better prepares us than otherwise to deal with less favorable times which sooner or later come our way. Likewise, the darkest moments are not as dark when we remember they are temporary and better times will come. This is optimism.
Thus in good times or bad, remembering everything is temporary brings us to gratitude and optimism; two of the keys to happiness.
“Out of many, one.”
This phrase originates from Heraclitus’s tenth fragment: “The one is made up of all things, and all things issue from the one.”
E. pluribus unum was the traditional motto of the United States from the time of its founding. It meant that people of different origins, values and sensitivities had come together to form the thirteen original colonies which in turn came together as one nation. In 1956, the US Congress passed a resolution that replaced as the national motto E. pluribus unum with “In God We Trust.” This new motto was a counterpoint to communist countries that disavowed the existence of God; implying the US didn’t trust them. The traditional motto envisioned a future of unity; the new motto envisioned a future of distrust and conflict.
However, more importantly, the new motto informed what would ultimately cause the decline of the US as a nation: people’s distrust of others and the government. “In God We Trust” because we don’t trust anyone else; rightfully so as the nation rewards whistleblowers, cancels agreements when they no longer suit it and is extremely punitive to others, including its own citizens. When there is no trust, commercial and social relationships fray and conflicts abound, compromising a nation which is then a monolith no more.
“Our society is run by insane people for insane objectives. I think we’re being run by maniacs for maniacal ends and I think I’m liable to be put away as insane for expressing that. That’s what’s insane about it.”
Today we have freedom of speech as long as no one is listening.
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
Our darkest moments are when we look within and lose our way wandering in the mind. However, when we open our eyes we can see the light at the end of the tunnel; it’s not the train we imagined coming at us.
I’ve met people from many different self-identifying racial, national and religious groups wearing their respective costumes. When I lift their veils I see their soul which looks like mine.
As each of us perceives others differently, clearly our perceptions are a function of who we are. Hence, what we perceive is not others but ourselves in the costumes of our identities.
“I had the opportunity to speak with…people who I believe had some form of schizophrenia and were very self-aware. [They told] me about their hallucinations and delusions in detail and that they knew what they were experiencing was not “real.”
The College Student—I walked out of one of my classes and saw another student from the class by the water fountain. I asked her why she left. She said:
I am struggling with schizophrenia. I still get hallucinations despite taking medications. The teacher and all the other students look as if they have the heads of animals. Even though I intellectually know that this is impossible, it was still disturbing. I couldn’t concentrate, so I left for a bit.”
We all suffer from personal and collective delusions, beliefs that are contrary to all evidence. Self-awareness is realizing what seems real is just a delusion and laughing it off.
The Progressive Party agenda is to have the educated class (presumably the Progressives) control and regulate the populace; to not allow the populace to individually or democratically decide major personal matters for themselves as the educated class perceives the populace as essentially to stupid to make the “right” decisions; perhaps even stupid enough to pay the Progressives to lead them.
I’m sure the educated class is right, people are essentially stupid by measures created by the educated class. However, Progressive programs are ultimately doomed to fail as the educated class knows much about everything but little about how things work together. Essentially, they’re stupid. The stupidity they see in others is their own.
“Of course I litter the public highway. After all, it’s not the beer cans that are ugly; it’s the highway that is ugly.”
Most people traveling the highway would agree that beer cans strewn along the road are ugly, taking away from the scenic natural beauty surrounding the highway. However, Abbey, an environmentalist and critic of public land policies, has a big picture perspective; it’s the highways built for the privilege of the people who use them that make beautiful landscapes ugly.
Scenes in our lives can often be viewed as ambiguous images, like the Duck-Rabbit illusion; providing us entertainment and with a different perspective on what appears as the same thing.
A professor wrote on a chalkboard: “A woman without her man is nothing.” He then asked the students in his class to punctuate the sentence. The men in the class wrote: “A woman, without her man, is nothing.” The women wrote: “A woman, without her, man is nothing.”
Our perceptions are as much a function of our identities as they are of what we are looking at. However, as we habitually assume our identities, we are generally unaware we are doing so and how our identities’ affect our experiences.
“Those who can make you believe in absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.”
When we perceive the world ideologically, we often drift away from reality. Ideologies are the foundation of identity groups. In the political sphere, the realm of regulating and controlling others, ideologies are essentially absurd as they in effect dehumanize those who are outside a particular political group. Once dehumanized and objectified, group members have no soulful connection to those outside their political group and can easily wreak havoc on them with conscionable impunity.
A man once visited the holy Rebbe Dov Ber ben Avraham of Mezeritch and said he had great difficulties applying the Talmudic saying that “A person is supposed to bless God for the bad just as he blesses Him for the good”. The Maggid told him to find the Maggid’s disciple Reb Zusha of Hanipoli and ask him. The man went and found Rabbi Zusha, who received him friendly and invited him to his home. When the guest came in, he saw how poor the family was, there was almost nothing to eat, they were beset with afflictions and illnesses. Nevertheless, Rabbi Zusha was always happy and cheerful. The guest was astonished at this picture. He said: “I went to the Holy Maggid to ask him how is it possible to bless God for the bad He sends us the same way as we bless Him for the good, and The Maggid told me only you can help me in this matter.” Rabbi Zusha said: “This is indeed a very interesting question. But why did our holy Rebbe send you to me? How would I know? He should have sent you to someone who has experienced suffering.”
The essence of happiness is gratitude, the realization that however dour our circumstances they could always be worse. We are truly blessed when we recognize and serve God, the ever-changing and eternal whole, as we in turn become one with God; thereby realizing our self-perceived relative good or bad fortune is perception, not reality.
“I am the Lord Your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”
Like animals, we are preoccupied with our everyday lives and survival. Our efforts to survive over time are a fool’s errand as no one is getting out of here alive. We are prisoners of our finite lives. However, freedom is possible when we recognize and serve God, the ever-changing and eternal whole, and in turn become one with God.
We are children of the son of God.
The son of God is the sun,
a ball of energy from which everything springs.
We are born and die in twilight time,
born when the sun rises
and die when the sun sets.
As we live in the daylight
the sun is all we know,
oblivious of God’s other children.
when we die
God reveals his other children,
an infinite number of stars.
“When wars — civil or external — happen you will have to decide whether you want to be in them or get out of them. When in doubt get out. You can always get back in, but you might not be able to get out.”
However attractive an opportunity might appear, without a viable exit strategy before going in, one can make a lot of money but not be able to keep it.
I‘ve asked many people to what they are more attracted, the body or the face. About two of three say body. Makes sense as we can always find something beautiful in a human face. But an ugly body is an ugly body.
Some years back, in the “old city” section of Jerusalem, I stepped into a shop selling antiquities. As I looked at various objects in glass cases, the owner of the shop introduced himself and said he’d been an antiquities dealer for more than fifty years and had dealt in very fine and desirable objects. I told him I’d been collecting antiquities for some time and wanted to look around. He then asked: “What are you looking for.” I replied: “I don’t know what I’m looking for until I find it.” To which he said: “In that case, you’re looking for nothing.” While not apparent to me then, ultimately he was right.
Since that time, after many years of collecting antiquities and tribal art and living to pursue personal desires, I realized I was possessed by all sorts of material and imaginary possessions and that looking for and desiring nothing is the ultimate goal as nothing is the essence of everything.
“Art is the order of all things. Confusion adds life to art.”
The preceding quote was from stream of consciousness writings by Hilton Root, a friend since the age of 13, when he was 16 years old. This quote has stayed in memory over the decades in a haunting way as I generally find much of what’s called fine art confusing and this artful quote confusing as well.
At this point, I read the quote as art (that which is art-ificial, man-made) is an artist’s particular view of the world. However, the world can appear in as many ways as there are minds. Thus, when an artwork is ambiguous (generally called abstract or surreal), it allows multiple readings, reflecting the nature of life itself.
I told my six year old grandson, Penn, that a friend of mine is expecting to die of terminal illness in the spring. Penn said: “Your friend is lucky.” I asked: “Why lucky?” Penn said: “They are not dying now.”
No one is getting out of here alive. We are all dying; some slowly, some suddenly. No point in worrying about it, but best not to forget about it.
There are many imaginary hierarchies like wealth and social status. Those atop hierarchies are generally very happy with themselves. When they look at those below them, they are pleased as they only see the admiring and respectful faces of those below. However, the laws of gravity disturb this otherwise mutually pleasing relationship. Invariably, those atop need to relieve themselves and their droppings are resented by those below. There is nothing imaginary about that.
“If I am I because I am I, and you are you because you are you, then I am I and you are you. But if I am I because you are you and you are you because I am I, then I am not I and you are not you!”
When Moses encountered God in the desert, Moses asked God who he was. God said: I am who I am. That is, God is indescribable because God is all and everything, the whole and all seemingly different manifestations. Any other description implies God is one thing and not another; the antithesis of God.
If I am who I am and you are who you are, I and you are God. Hence, I treat you accordingly, as I treat myself. However, if I define myself in finite terms, relative to that which I am not (you), I am not God nor are you God.
When we expect the unexpected, we can see it before it arrives and welcome it accordingly. However, when we expect the future to be an extension of the past, we can easily become complacent, miss the opportunities the future presents or have it run over us.
“The future ain’t what it used to be.”
We see the future not for what it is but as we imagine it to be. As what we imagine changes, the future seems to change; it ain’t what it used to be. But the future is the future, forever unchanged, a time to come, not the present, an empty canvas; though what we see in the future affects the choices we make as to how we live in the present.
“The best place is wherever you are; from wherever you are you can experience everything.”
Iceland is well-known as the place to be on New Year’s Eve, having the greatest display of individual and collective fireworks. I once asked an Icelander where is the best place in Iceland to be on New Year’s Eve. His reply was the quote above.
We are all interdependent. We do for others and others do for us. When good fortune comes our way, we can be happy and enjoy sharing our good fortune with others as charity. Much of what we do for others is in the form of work for which we get paid. Amounts we spend represents what others are doing for us. If we have a surplus of money, the excess of what we got paid less what we spent, the surplus represents what we have done for others beyond what others have done for us. The surplus, our so-called savings, we invest directly or indirectly (giving it to financial institutions) by giving it to others to use for their benefit or opportunity. That is charity. Often charity in the form of investing is more productive than giving the surplus to not-for-profit, non-profit and other recognized charitable institutions.
Work is something we do that benefits others and for which others pay us to do. Some aspects of work tax our time and energy and other aspects are engaging and enjoyable which makes the work energizing. Best to do the enjoyable work and get others to do the work that’s taxing to us but hopefully not to them.
My career was running a hedge fund. I worked 80+ hours a week, though it didn’t feel like work. It was fun in good times and bad; maybe because I had a salesman, traders, analysts and an accountant on staff doing the work I had little interest in doing; or maybe because the fund was successful which allowed me and the workers to enjoy ourselves when not working.
Once upon a time there were twin sisters. They came from a good family, married well, had good children and lived happily ever after. Their lives were nearly identical but for one thing. One sister, Mary, was promiscuous and the other sister, Judith, was religious, adhering to a strict moral code. Everyone in their town knew Mary as “Mattress Mary” as it seemed she slept with everyone. Often, on hot evenings when people kept their windows open to let in the cool air, you knew in whose flat Mary was as she wailed “Oh my God, oh my God, oh my God.” While Mary was howling, Judith was quietly praying to God to forgive her sister.
When they were done living happily ever after, it was their time to go to the hereafter where God determined which sister would go to heaven and which to hell. I don’t know the mind of God and whom he sent where, but I know that Mary came from heaven and Judith came from hell.
The moral of this story is that “where is God to be found? In the place where He is given entry.” — Kotzker Rebbe.
Marriage is like a corporate partnership wherein one mate or the other assumes different department roles: Chief Executive Officer, Chief Financial Officer, Director of Human Resources, etc. However, at times conflicts arise when there is confusion over who heads which department. For example, a wife might complain to her husband because she is unhappy about something he said or did. Her husband in turn might be taken aback by her complaints as he views himself head of the Rewards Department, not the Complaint Department. He then needs assign his wife to take charge of the Complaint Department as she has the most experience in complaining.
Alternatively, when a wife is complaining, best to keep silent but for agreeing (“yes, you’re right”) with her gripes, letting her vent until she calms down.
A mistake would be addressing her issues rationally or trying to help her perceive what irks her in a different light. Doing so tends to agitate her further and invariably results in her saying: “You don’t understand me.” Well, now you know she is right. If you understood her, you would have little to do with her.
Sometimes we take our circumstances and ourselves very seriously. This can be stressful. If we compartmentalize our predicament, we can put it in perspective and not let it affect other aspects of our life which otherwise are pleasing and from which we can take solace. However, compartmentalization is not easy.
Alternatively, we can find relief through the meditation of death, looking at our current situation from the perspective of the end of days. From that perspective we can look back at our lives and realize that much we once took seriously now seems ridiculous.
“You get love, that’s enough.”
Today my five year old grandson, Penn, was defiant, unwilling to take his feet off our living room couch when I told him to do so. I said: “You have no respect for your grandfather.” He said: “You get love, that’s enough.” I laughed; The Beatles were right, all you need is love.
“History has to be fluid; if it were not fluid, why do we get periodic new biographies of Lincoln or Jesus? Stats are a funny thing. The deeper you go, the more impressed you are with the fact that these are symbols. They are not solid things.”
History is an evolving story from different perspectives of space (people) and points in time. Thus, it is not solid and unchangeable. Ultimately, even that which is indisputably factually correct is not as real as is the game of baseball. That is, the past may be engaging but not as energizing as being in the present.
“A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it isn’t open.”
The mind, like a parachute, slows the unfolding of the present, allowing us to consciously experience the present and not be overwhelmed by the harsh reality of entropy, the decline into disorder.
“’History is that certainty produced at the point where the imperfections of memory meet the inadequacies of documentation.'”
History is a story that makes sense of ambiguous memories and facts. The story is more powerful, reasonable and meaningful than the memories and facts, to the point that it supplants both.
“People are strange: they are constantly angered by trivial things, but on a major matter like totally wasting their lives, they hardly seem to notice.”
We live for the most part on a micro level, taking many temporal and temporary matters very seriously. We often forget the purpose of life is to have a wonderful go of it, realize our potential and help others do likewise. From the perspective of the entirety of our lives, the time spent in anger is a waste of time.
The second law of thermodynamics states that entropy always increases with time. As such, it is easier to predict the near-future but less predictable is the distant-future. However, over time, as the distant-future becomes the near-future, it is more predictable. As well, the past becomes increasingly less certain over time; yet we often convince ourselves otherwise.
The best remedy for pain or stress is laughing. It works every time and has no side effects. However, it can be addictive and highly contagious. Moreover, it’s not recommended while operating heavy machinery.
“All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better.”
Life is an experiment. Whether a success or a failure is of little matter. What counts is whether it merits a writeup. If not, we haven’t lived.
Randomness, the unexpected, can upend any well-laid plans. Best to have many tries to hedge against randomness.
The mind is always open and often closed.
The mind is always open to an overwhelming amount of sensory information from outside itself but often closed as it interprets the information in the context of memories, generalizations and stories we create that distort the information.
“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.”
The etymology of “hap” (the root of happy) is luck. Whatever roles we assume in life will work out well if we are lucky.
It’s funny when the truth is revealed, unless the truth undermines the foundation upon which we’ve built our lives; funny from the perspective of the audience watching the play of life (the gods), though maybe not so funny from the perspective of actors in the play who take their roles seriously.
In the winter of 2017 I awoke one morning with pain in my right thigh. The pain felt like a serious bruise; maybe a torn muscle as my range of motion was limited; but there was no related black and blue skin marks to corroborate that diagnosis. Moreover, I didn’t recall banging my thigh to cause injury. Yet the pain and the limited range of motion made me think that it would take a couple of weeks before I could get back to playing squash. Sort of a long time as I had had a meniscus and a couple of hernia operations in the past and was able to get to the squash courts in a week’s time.
Ten days later with the symptoms unabated, I went to my personal doctor for a diagnosis. She had me take an MRI. The next day, a Friday, she informed me that it looked like I had a tumor which most likely was cancerous. She set me up for Monday and Tuesday consultations at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center and at Yale University Hospital.
She also sent me the MRI report which I immediately emailed everyone on my contact list with a note: “Just got notice from my doctor that it looks like I have a cancerous tumor in my leg; further examinations to follow. Wish me luck it’s not the big “C. Will keep you posted.”
I received many responses to the email, wishing me well. Some friends were shocked as I’m generally perceived as very healthy. Some doctor friends opined that in fact the MRI indicated a cancerous tumor more than anything else. Others offered encouraging words.
In the ensuing days, my wife was a wreck as we discussed the real possibility of having a leg amputated. I was good with the situation, figuring come what may. I also shared the particulars of my circumstances with everyone; from my doormen to strangers I’d meet on the grocery checkout line.
Monday I went with my dutiful son, Alex, to Sloan Kettering. Alex joined me so that we would have a clear understanding of the diagnosis, prognosis and treatment protocol. At Sloan I met with Dr. Patrick Boland, a “top doctor” specializing in orthopedic cancers. As I understood his examination would involve a surgical biopsy, before he started I told him that “I know there is a small but real chance the best way to proceed is to amputate the leg. If you think during the biopsy operation that’s the way to go, I’m good with that. However, if that’s what you think, don’t do anything. Just leave the leg as it is. Let me enjoy it for another couple of weeks and I’ll come back to have it removed.” Dr. Boland laughed, more than a bit surprised by my marching orders.
Dr. Boland and his assistant first examined my leg, pushing and tugging it forcefully. After not saying much beyond sounds like “hmm” and “ahah,” Dr. Boland said he had seen many tumor and cancer patients but I was different, “none look like you.” I thought my upbeat attitude was not what he commonly encounters. Dr. Boland then recommended more tests, an X-Ray and a sonogram. Hours later, with test results in hand, I met with Dr. Boland again. The good doctor advised me that the apparent cancerous tumor was just old dried blood from a long ago bruise that had leached spider-like to appear as a cancerous tumor on the MRI; that unbeknownst to me I must have banged my leg recently to cause my thigh muscle strain.
As I had an appointment the next day at Yale and the weather looked good for a drive up north from the city, I went to the meet the doctors at Yale. They confirmed Dr. Boland’s diagnosis.
Driving back to the city, I noticed that the pain in my thigh was no longer. Two hours later, I was playing squash.
Upon arriving home, I wrote to my email list that the cancer scare was a cancer scare, nothing more; that in fact I was back on the squash courts. Lots of congratulatory emails came back, though some a bit cynical. On Wall Street friend called my experience “the tumor rumor.” Another friend, a Catholic, said mine was a divine recovery; the Friday email sounded like I was in hospice and five days later a miraculous complete recovery; from hospice to squash court; Jesus must have played a role.
How did I feel about this rollercoaster ride? Terrific, from beginning to end. Terrific I had an early diagnosis, terrific that I could avail myself of modern medicine, terrific that I was not ill, terrific that I was able to play squash, terrific to have had an entertaining experience; or that’s how I chose to remember it.
Before the good news that there was nothing wrong, I wasn’t particularly stressed out by the dire possibilities. That might be a function of my general attitude and sharing my diagnosis with anyone who would listen. The sharing in effect had many others share my burden of an ominous ordeal which made moving forward, whichever the direction, relatively easy. When we have a problem and tell everyone about it, we ameliorate our anxiety and are better able to enjoy the moment.
I generally meditate three times a day; before first light, at 4:00 for five hours; then at 12:30 for 45 minutes and again at 21:00 for an hour or so. On occasion, I meditate some minutes here and there when the need arises. I’ve frequently meditated between courses at a restaurant. When my meditation session ends, I’m awakened, sometimes after a short meditation not knowing where I am or who I am, and energized with a deep appreciation of uniqueness of the simple and mundane, like the current of water coming from the sink faucet as I brush my teeth. I generally meditate in a supine position, though sitting when in a car or restaurant. In meditation I’m completely separated from this world of collectively familiar forms and memories and meanings; much of everything I experience in meditation is abstract, surreal or enigmatic. Most people would call my meditation sleeping, perhaps so.
Like sleep, meditation is the experience of the empty space before and after conscious states of mind when we presumably are awake; like the space between breaths; like the space between the true-present and when our mind manifests the true-present as the present-passed.
The empty space of meditation is a path to awakening to the light that is the essence of everything.
In 2014 my mother collapsed in her apartment in Brooklyn. Simply, her legs gave out. An ambulance took her to Maimonides Hospital to diagnose the problem. Initially she was diagnosed with having had mini-strokes. As she had been to hospital over the years for one problem or another, I wasn’t concerned but felt best to visit her; overruling her objections to do so.
At hospital I was told she was in Room 520. I went to Room 522 where there was an old man in a wheelchair sitting outside the room. I approached him and said: ” Mother, how you doing?” He looked a bit confused, so I said: “Mother, it’s me, Victor. You ok? Don’t you recognize me?” Then quickly, “This is room 522? You’re not my mom. Have a good day.” He laughed.
I then went next door to Room 520. My mother was there, in bed, alert and smiling. As well, her doctor and a nurse were there. After greeting my mother, I turned to the doctor and asked how my mother was doing, whether I needed to make funeral arrangements. Everyone was a bit shocked but for my mother who knew me too well. But I then added: “No, I understand, this is a serious matter. But before we get into it, I want to be sure I understand the relationships here. You are the doctor, she is my mother and I am her son. You’re not the patient, she’s not my son and I’m not my mother?” From there we got onto business. The doctor said that he initially thought my mother suffered from mini-strokes but as her neurological motor system was deteriorating further, she might actually have Guillain-Barre Syndrome.
Guillain-Barre is an autoimmune disease wherein the body’s immune system attacks the peripheral nerves and damages their myelin insulation, rendering the patient paralyzed to a greater or lesser extent. Within a year, 90-100% recovery is possible.
After extensive and painful testing, including a spinal tap, the doctor determined she in fact had Guillain-Barre. In the ensuing days, as her condition worsened, she was put into hospital’s Intensive Care Unit. I hired additional nurses to be by her bedside 24/7. In the ICU she was put on a ventilator and a feeding tube was inserted into her stomach which made her two favorite activities, eating and talking, not possible.
A couple of days later I visited my mother. I asked her nurse how my mother was doing. The nurse said I need to ask the doctor making rounds. I went out the room looking for the doctor. I approached a man in uniform and asked him how my mother was doing. Another nurse volunteered that the man I was talking with was not a doctor but an HVAC man. That didn’t matter as for me every opinion counts. I took the HVAC man to my mother. I told my mother that he was from Harvard Medical School and a specialist in Guillain-Barre. Then I said: “Doctor, what do you think?” Well, he was a religious guy from Jamaica and said best we consult scripture. My mother laughed.
Some days later, as her condition stabilized, my mother was moved out of the ICU into a less intensive care patient’s room. By then my mother had been on the ventilator for 10 days. Medical protocol called for her to be taken off the ventilator and to be intubated as continuing with the ventilator increases the risk of infection. Alternatively, she could be taken off the ventilator and effort to breathe unaided. If she was unsuccessful breathing, she would suffocate and die.
I told my mother that the next step was intubation and that over time she might get better and lead a normal life. However, as she was 86, she might never recover and be with feeding tube and intubation until the end of her days. I asked her what she wanted to do, try to breathe on her own now at the risk of dying or go with the intubation. She couldn’t speak but pointed to me. I asked her if she wanted me to make this decision. she shook her head indicating “yes.” I then said: “OK, this is what are going to do. You’re going to hold my hand as tight as you can, close your eyes, concentrate on breathing and the nurse will take out the ventilator. If you can’t breathe, you will transition. So before we get started, I want to tell you I love you, it’s been a wonderful trip, thank you for everything and God bless you.” The ventilator came out and my mother lived.
My mother never fully recovered and was wheelchair bound until she passed a couple of years later from congestive heart failure.
My mother didn’t have a lot of marbles but whatever marbles she had she retained until she passed. In my mother’s last days she said she had but one wish. She wanted to pass in the daytime, not at night. I asked her why the daytime and she said she would likely be sleeping at night and not during the day and she wanted to see what it was like to die. She died a couple of days later, after the sun turn from up high, in the early afternoon. I guess she then knew its journey from there.
That was my mother. No wonder I am who I am.
Saving time is difficult, better to spend it well.
That which is convenient saves time, like driving instead of walking or eating fast food instead of preparing our own. However, time saved now costs us time later for medical attention as our health fails or time lost as our lifespan is shortening. Best to spend our time well right now.
More than 40 years back I found myself in NYC in a taxi. Talking with the driver, it was clear his English speaking skills were weak. In mock pidgin English, I asked him “how long you here, short time?” He said: “Ten years, I don’t know if that’s long or short.”
Ten years is ten years. Long or short are classifications that mean different things to different people which makes classifications often meaningless.
In a banal conversation between strangers, a seemingly simple taxi driver awakened me.
“Water is the face of fire.”
By definition, a Zen koan is paradoxical anecdote or riddle used in Zen Buddhism to demonstrate the inadequacy of logical reasoning and to provoke enlightenment. Some koans are well-known: What was your original face before your mother and father were born? What is the sound of one hand clapping? A simple everyday question can be a powerful koan: Who are you?
“Water is the face of fire” is a family motto given to Kanako by a family elder when she was seven. The family dates back to antiquity. The motto essentially is a koan. As with koans generally, there are many ways to interpret it; some conflicting, some supplementary, some complementary. Each interpretation is a spark of insight. Taken together, they form a blinding light on the road to enlightenment.
Happiness is a state of mind characterized by gratitude, optimism and freedom from karmic prisons. As a state of mind, it can be fleeting; sometimes present, sometimes not. Happiness cannot be pursued as pursing it, desire, is the antithesis of happiness.
True happiness comes to us as in trying to catch a mouse. Since we run faster, it would seem we can catch a mouse by running after it. But that’s a fool’s errand. Best to sit quietly, like in meditation, with a piece of cheese by our side and have the mouse come to us.
The past is like bars our mind creates,
forming a world holding us prisoner.
We incessantly shake the bars,
trying to free ourselves
but to no avail.
Letting go our grip
the bars fall to the floor,
we can walk out of our world
and connect with the greater universe.
The purpose of enlightenment is both micro and macro, the realization of personal potential and collective evolution.
Collectively, when the whole of humanity realizes its potential, enlightenment, we will take an evolutionary quantum leap and transition from animal to divine consciousness: we will live in harmony with one another and our environment. Sapient beings have evolved technologically and now have the ability to destroy themselves and much that inhabits the Earth. Without this quantum leap in evolution, there will be many extinctions.
an infinite number of worlds,
but for waves of energy
our minds transform
into unique worlds,
all of which seem real.
But real they are not
as there is only one mind
and one empty universe
with waves of energy.
On my grandson’s 7th birthday, we spoke about love. I asked him whom he loved most. He said he loved 99% of all the people he knows. I then said that maybe he didn’t understand love; and his 5 year old brother chimed in: “Maybe you don’t understand love.”
Every US President is memorialized in the collective consciousness in simple terms. Franklin Roosevelt = the depression, WWII; Truman = nuclear bombing of Hiroshima; Eisenhower = General; Kennedy = assassination; Johnson = Vietnam War; Nixon = Watergate; Ford = placeholder; Carter = peanut farmer; Reagan = optimist; Bush = Desert Storm; Clinton = Monica Lewinsky; Bush = 9/11, Gulf War; Obama = Obamacare; Trump = fake news, political incorrectness.
Of these associations, fake news will have the most profound and likely longest lasting affect on society. Today, most Americans realize media is a means to political and commercial ends; as such, it’s skewed; essentially, propaganda. This realization is an awakening that forces many to think independently about political issues.
Thinking independently is highly unusual. But that’s what the populace in in 2020. It decided it had had enough of the profane Trump. It bought into the Democratic Party’s labeling of Trump as a Fascist, white-supremist, misogynist, anti-Semite, Nazi, etc. However, the populace also considered the anti-capitalist Democratic platform and said “no” to that by voting in more Republicans to Congress.
Illegal immigration was not an important issue. Had it been, the populace would have overwhelmingly voted for Biden as the Democratic Party’s anti-capitalistic platform would have made the US an unattractive destination for immigrants.
On balance, Trump, profound and profane, will have had the most significant affect of any recent president.
Desiring that which is not now available leads to suffering as it keeps us from being grateful for what we have. Moreover, suffering distracts us from keeping our eyes open for when what’s not now available or alternative show up.
With enlightened masters from Jesus to Buddha to Rajneesh to Rebbe Schneerson to the Dalai Lama and countless others with flocks of disciples, it is curious that when these enlightened ones transitioned from this world no equally enlightened disciple emerged to replace them. Perhaps a disciple, like a drone, cannot turn into a queen bee by following her lead. Perhaps it’s hard to see the light under the shadow of an enlightened master. Perhaps the road to enlightenment is a narrow road that doesn’t allow a disciple to walk side by side with their master and partake of the panoramic view of life. Or maybe a chick needs to give birth to itself by cracking open the eggshell in which it developed; otherwise, cracked open by the enlightened master, the chick might not survive its birth. That is, enlightenment is not a relay race with the passing of the baton but an individual journey one needs to travel alone. Though a road map, the writings and teachings of an enlightened master, can be helpful; following enlightened masters will never get us to the divine destination where they reside.
As Menachem Mendel Schneerson said at his inauguration as the Rebbe in 1951: “Now listen, Jews. Generally, in Chabad it has been demanded that each individual work on themselves, and not rely on the Rebbes. One must, on their own, transform the folly of materialism and the passion of the ‘animal soul’ to holiness… if one does not work on themselves, what good will submitting notes, singing songs, and saying lechayim do?… one must go to a place where nothing is known of godliness, nothing is known of Judaism, nothing is even known of the Hebrew alphabet, and while there to put oneself aside and ensure that the other calls out to God.”
In the biblical Book of Revelation, apocalypse is the final destruction of this world. The etymology of the word “apocalypse” is “uncovering, to take the cover off” like the lifting of the veil. Apocalypse is the destruction of the temporary illusionary world our minds have created to cover reality. For those who believed the illusions are reality, revelations is hell. For those who know the illusions are illusions, revelations is funny as the illusions are now clearly absurd.
Those who are smart are best at remembering, quickly analyzing and arguing about matters passed. The wise are best at predicting things to come. The smart shed light on the past. The wise light the road forward. The smart have highly developed senses of seeing and hearing; often with underdeveloped senses of smell, taste and touch. In the extreme, they are idiot savants, able to do one thing extraordinarily well and not much else. The wise ones are generalists. They have more equally developed senses which allow them to know things from different perspectives. Having many perspectives is the essence of wisdom. Especially developed is their nose, the forwardmost of our senses. The nose knows when things smell right or not.
It’s easier to determine who is smart than who is wise as intelligence is judged ex-post and wisdom ex-ante. Society is geared to recognize intelligence more than wisdom and elevates those deemed smart to high positions in society. As such, in the short-run the smartest are more successful than the wisest. In the long-run, however, those who are conventionally smart are less likely to survive as circumstances change; for it’s not survival of the smartest but survival of the wisest. The wisest are best at seeing changes before they are obvious and can either adapt to a changing environment or change their circumstances where they can better adapt.
“We believe we make our choices, but no — they make us.”
Our choices reflect how we see ourselves. How we respond to the consequences of our choices defines us. When how we see ourselves is not aligned with how we respond to the consequences of our choices, we make poor choices.
“When I was in college I told my grandfather I had just met a boy and was in love with him. Immediately came the questions: ‘He’s from a good family; he’s white; he’s black; he’s Jewish; he’s Christian; he’s smart…? Uniformly I responded: ‘no.’ Well what is he then?’ my father asked. ‘He’s welcome’ I said.”
To love someone is to accept them as they are, not in the context of artificial identifying categories and descriptions.
Everything is a unique manifestation of God. Therein lies the beauty of everything. If we don’t see this beauty, we don’t know what we’re looking at. If we think we know, we make fools; nothing funnier than that.
“Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it into fruit salad.”
Classifications help organize and provide artificial meaningfulness in an otherwise overwhelming universe but often fail to provide insight into the true nature of the objects classified as everything is unique.
In November, Syoji Iilyama, a retired eccentric Japanese businessman will receive the Order of the Sacred Treasure, a medal bestowed by the Emperor for Syoji’s work when he was 23 as a volunteer probation officer who rehabilitated 2.5 times as many convicted felons as did other probation officers.
Most probation officers do their job and represent the system from which felons have revolted. They are not role models, an example to felons of an attractive socially responsible lifestyle. Their job is to monitor released felons and remind them of the stick that awaits them if they behave out of line.
While I have no direct knowledge as to what made Syoji so successful as a probation officer, I suspect it was simply showing up as he is: an eccentric who lives outside of social boundaries (like the felons), yet has a wonderful life without harming others (though I’m sure he’s annoyed many people in an effort to entertain them and himself and/or wake them up); someone who has realized the purpose of life; an exemplary life that is available to all, including felons who can be awakened to realize their past choices are not who they are and that they could live like him if they choose to do so.
Tadataka Unno is a Japanese jazz pianist who came to New York city when he was 27 to further develop his craft. Against long odds, he met with success and was a pianist for several jazz groups. Now 40 and a recent father, on September 27, 2020, returning via subway to his home in Harlem, he was attacked by several young people shouting racial slurs (“Chinese motherfucker”) and causing him severe injury which makes it doubtful he can return to his role as a pianist. With stress, medical bills, unemployment and childcare to deal with, Unno went to GoFundMe with the goal of raising $25K. To date, he’s received more than $200K.
Unno’s experience is a horrible, tragic and frightening story.
However, just about anything, including this story, can be viewed as funny. Funny in that after working for years as a pianist and receiving relatively little recognition, today Unno is an internationally recognized victim who most likely made more money in 30 days than in the past 5+ years as a pianist. Society seems to value Unno’ story as a victim more than as an accomplished pianist. This informs us about the level of sophistication of society (which is also reflected by the mere existence of the attackers), which is contrary to how society sees itself.
This contemporary, post-WWII, object describes the evolution of society from tribal peoples to the modern world. The social evolution is marked by the change from a group-centered to an individual-centered world. The base of the container represents the foundation of civilization, tribal peoples. The tribe members are connected as one in dance. The faces of the dancers are undifferentiated and their bodies unclothed, implying their essential selves. Each member is not an individual; they are the dance. As societies evolved, they centered around the head, the mind. The members’ heads surround the container, the mind, and are differentiated by facial expressions and hairstyles. At the top, the container’s lid, is a man sitting alone in contemplation, lost in thought. The man, now individual-centered, closes the container/mind and no longer connects to others as in the dance.
This whimsical, unique, rare dancing figure is not an iconic example of African art but one that is both inventive and allegorical. (For additional images of this figure, click here.)
With its arms oversized and swaying and its legs bent, the figure is dancing. The arms are oversized as they would be in a slow shutter speed photo of a dancer in motion.
It is both male and female. But unlike hermaphrodite figures generally (which host breasts and a penis), this figure has a vagina, a male torso (no breasts) and an Adam’s apple. It is a man with female genitals, as in dancing celebrations in West Africa where males dress as females.
Unlike this dancing figure which is rare, the majority of tribal art figures are standing, not dancing, and host a head that is disproportionately large relative to torso. This figure has a tiny head and long neck separating the head and the torso. The message it conveys is that when we are dancing our experience is physical and our heads play a disproportionally smaller role in how we experience the world. A corollary is that when we are not physically engaged our experience is a function of our head.
One day two sushi chefs in New York went to the Fulton Fish Market looking for sushi grade tuna. They both happened upon a fishmonger who had what they wanted. The fishmonger offered them tuna from the east and west coasts. He said that the east coast tuna just came in, he had lots of it and was offering it at a lower price than the west coast tuna of which he had less and had come in a couple of days back. As the two tunas looked alike and the east coast tuna was presumably fresher and clearly cheaper, one of the sushi chefs purchased the east coast tuna. The other sushi chef smelled, touched and tasted the two tunas and purchased the west coast tuna as the east coast tuna didn’t feel quite right. Some months later the sushi chef who purchased the east coast tuna closed his restaurant for lack of business. The other sushi chef saw his business thriving.
Our eyes and ears often deceive us, but generally the nose knows. Best to engage all our senses to make sense of things.
Early on, humans trapped and hunted animals for food. Trapping requires more ingenuity and patience but is otherwise less taxing and dangerous.
Grabbing water from a stream will not quench our thirst as quickly as collecting the water by cupping our hands.
We can catch more fish in a net than by rod and reel. But it takes longer to construct a net than a rod and reel.
Courting potential mates with wining and dining is not as effective a mating strategy as showing up as the best version of who we are which might get mates to court us.
In business, a good product or service sells itself by word of mouth, less expensive than hiring salespeople.
Best not to effort running after what we desire but to figure out how to have it come to us.
“Don’t look back, you’re not going that way.”
When driving, more than a occasional glace at the rear view mirror is an accident in the making.
The past is an illusion our mind makes seemingly real. Focusing on the past distracts our attention from the right here, right now and what’s next; limiting our ability to make the best of the present, the present-passed, as it unfolds before us.
In college I took a philosophy course that was taught by an Indian (dot, not feather) professor. While not part of the curriculum, the professor was always encouraging us to take up Transcendental Meditation. He felt TM changed his life; a bit enlightened, he went from lethargic to energetic, from careless to responsible.
One wintery Tuesday at 11 in the morning, the professor didn’t show up for class. Funny, odd, as there was no notice on the door indicating the class was cancelled. In any event, after a while we realized he wasn’t coming so each of us left to get on with the rest of our day. A couple of days later, the professor did make it to class and explained his earlier absence: “I woke up early enough to make the class Tuesday morning. However, before class I did an hour of TM. It was fabulous, a total awakening like never before; felt terrific; so good that I decided to go back to sleep and missed the class.”
I guess that sometimes, when we glimpse enlightenment, we choose to return to the sleep state in which we were previously, simply because it feels warm and comfortable. Maybe the professor should have just slept through the morning without the TM interruption.
Thousands of these presumably votive “Eye Idols” have been found in a building now called the Eye Temple in Tell Brak. They depict a deity who observes the world but lacking ears and a mouth does not hear or speak. The deity’s view is pure, unadulterated by the words of others which could have the deity see the world as they would wish the deity to see it. Lacking a mouth, the deity knows but does not speak; implying that those who speak do not know and those who know do not speak. In the contemporary world, seeking enlightenment, some monks take a vow of silence.
To view other eye idols, click here.
“Rather than Communists and Marxists on the extreme ‘Left’ and Nazis and Fascists on the extreme ‘Right,’ I think the political spectrum should be ‘Up’ and ‘Down’ –Up towards individual freedom and Down towards control of the individual by the State. The extreme Up would be Anarchy, no government at all, while the extreme Down, at the bottom of the spectrum, would be all forms of totalitarianism; both Fascism and Communism, Nazism and Marxism, which together in common advocate the abolishment of individual freedom. On this spectrum, I place myself on the Up side, far from the extremism of anarchism, but as an advocate of individual liberty in accordance with a constitutional democracy and rule of law.” (1)
“Up” is close to heaven and “down” is hell.
In a constitutional democracy, a republic, a nation is governed by clear laws, generally well-understood, that brave time as they are difficult to change. A representative democracy often leads to a self-serving government, controlled by wealthy and voting bloc special interest groups; not unlike totalitarian regimes where people in a conference room decide what’s best for all which is generally what’s best for themselves.
(1) Transcribed by Jack Wheeler, October, 1965 at a speech given by Ronald Reagan at UCLA
“I have never let my schooling interfere with my education.”
In school we are taught by others and learn to repeat what’s taught us when taking exams. This is the road to success in school. But our education in life comes from observing the universe about us and asking ourselves difficult questions about ourselves and our observations; to which there are many answers, each somewhat relevant or revealing of the truth and engendering further questions.
“School is very limited. Learning is unending!” William Wisher
“I always like to learn but I sometimes don’t like to be taught.” Winston Churchill
This shaman figure, made of bone, is depicted wearing a hat with seven heads, presumably representing ancestors, historically important clan members or wise men. The heads are the shaman’s helper spirits or guides in the world underpinning the world of the living; the world before it’s tangible to our senses. The spirit helpers provide the shaman with multiple perspectives which is the essence of wisdom, the stock-in-trade of shamans. The triangular shaped head, pointing down and perfectly balanced on the torso, implies an open mind with no predilections. The figure has a disproportionally large head (40% of its entire body while man naturally is 14%), implying that, unlike others who use their physical body when working, the head plays an outsized role in the shaman’s work.
Moreover, the figure is sexless as, unlike most work in tribal societies which is exclusively the domain of one sex or the other, a shaman can be male or female. As well, without sexual identity, the shaman’s perspective is unbiased, nondual.
At 14 I realized that I wouldn’t have much of a life if I approached life like my peers. I thought my best chance at having a good go of life was to differential myself which would likely lead to great success or failure but that seemed a better outcome than mediocrity. Viewing the possible roles in the play of life, I aspired to be eccentric. Eccentrics are care-free of judgement by others as they are non-conformists; find most peoples lives funny; are very curious; find almost everything interesting; are independent thinkers and have a creative approach to understanding the world. Being eccentric seemed a fun way to go through life.
Now, at 69, I’ve so gotten so comfortable with the role of eccentric, I sometimes believe it’s who I am. But I don’t forget it’s just a role I happen to enjoy, though those who know me feel I fit the role well. Ultimately, I am who I am which itself is an eccentric self-perception.
“How do you dress, sir?”
I was first asked this question when getting fitted for a handmade suit in the 1970s. At the time I didn’t understand what the tailor was asking. Seeing me a bit befuddled, the tailor explained that he wanted to know whether my penis naturally lays to the right or the left so he could give me a bit more room in the trousers on the right or left. I hadn’t theretofore focused on my penis’s natural bend, so I told him to proceed as he thought best as my penis is like me politically; sometimes a bit left, something right.
A bit more fabric on one side or another creates a bit of a bulge in the trousers which implies the presence of a somewhat larger than average penis. I guess those who need to present themselves wearing a handmade suit also need to make certain other statements about themselves.
“I’m not going to tell the story the way it happened. I’m going to tell it the way I [want to] remember it.”
Our memories shape our attitude, how we experience the world as it unfolds. Those of us with happy memories have a happy time of it, swaddled in sunlight. For those of us with trauma-filled memories, life at times is a struggle, stressful. The traumas, karma, overshadow our lives. In the shadows it’s cold and we use a lot of energy to keep warm. To replace the energy lost, we often engage others, to tap into their energy, with our dramas and other attention-getting techniques. At some point, it’s exhausting for those we tap into and, if they have any sense to preserve their well-being, they walk away from us.
Those with happy memories overflow with energy. Their lives are terrific, always good and getting better. They generously share their energy with others, hoping to bring them happiness.
Those who are happy view the past as an entertaining illusion, like a movie. It is what it is whatever it is and whatever we want our memories to make of it. They know the most important free-will choice we have in life which in turn defines our attitude: how we choose to remember the past.
For those who hold onto a traumatic past, best for them to remember the traumas are now passed; that there is nothing to forget. That is, the past is nothing but an illusion.
“Unfortunately, most people don’t get it. They will, but they’ll have to die first before they understand that they don’t.”
We don’t die, just transition from one form to another. That which is alive and that which is not are no different; only differentiated by our mind; all manifestations of God; all unique and all the same. Is the breathing of the ocean and its shattering sound at the shore not as alive as we are?
Everything is like bubbles in a glass of sparkling water, appearing out of nowhere and seemingly disappearing when reaching the top of the glass. The bubbles don’t disappear. They become one with everything as they have been from the very beginning.
We recognize that the only constant in the universe is change; that no one or anything dies, just transitions. Those who realize (know) this truth don’t take themselves too seriously.
Once upon a time, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson, experts in their respective fields of detective work and science, went on a camping trip. After a good meal and a bottle of wine they lay down for the night and went to sleep. Some hours later, Holmes awoke and nudged his faithful friend. “Watson, look up at the sky and tell me what you see.” Watson replied, “I see millions and millions of stars.” “What does that tell you?” Watson pondered for a minute. “Astronomically, it tells me that there are millions of galaxies and potentially billions of planets. Astrologically, I observe that Saturn is in Leo. Horologically , I deduce that the time is approximately a quarter past three. Theologically, I can see that God is all powerful and that we are small and insignificant. Meteorologically, I suspect that we will have a beautiful day tomorrow. What does it tell you?” Holmes was silent for a minute, then spoke. “Watson, you dickhead. Some bastard has stolen our tent.”
There are always many ways to view a situation, from the practical to the profound. If not individually funny, when juxtaposed they are funny.
“No one gets out of here alive.”
But we all do.
If our identity is our finite physical presence, our lives are finite and no one gets out of here alive. When we realize we are not solely our finite selves but one with the infinite manifestations of the universe, there is no life or death; just endless transitions; comings and goings into and out of life; like the sound and the silence between heartbeats; like the breathing and silent pause between breaths. In the silence we are in the present, before our mind distracts us by ever-changing sounds and motions. The silence is eternal. When we realize we are one with the silence, we are here forever.
While our lives may happen all at once, we are a different person at each point in our lifetime story. We can choose to be any of these people at any circumstance in which we find ourselves. Our experience is a function of the choice we make.
The truly wealthy are easily identified by their manners not their manors.
Those who are well-mannered are kind and freely share their good fortune, however great or small, with others. They are the truly wealthy.
“Time is what keeps everything from happening at once.”(1)
The past is created by mind in the form of stories. Each story unfolds sequentially, within a timeline. The timeline rationalizes cause and effect as without the timeline the stories don’t make sense. For example, when we tell the story of a cat’s life, the cat cannot be simultaneously dead and alive. However, everything in the past happens all at once, the moment the mind creates it. Hence, the cat is alive and dead simultaneously. The timeline is an illusion our mind creates as are our stories.
In other words, our mind creates the past. The past doesn’t exist independent of mind. As to the present, the true-present, it is simply nothingness with waves of light about. Our mind transforms the light into our reality, the past and its related stories.
(1) From Quote Investigator: “There is no substantive evidence that Einstein wrote or spoke the statement above. It is listed within a section called “Probably Not By Einstein” in the comprehensive reference “The Ultimate Quotable Einstein” from Princeton University Press.”
“What’s the difference between the heart and the mind?”
Each heart is essentially the same. Each mind is unique.
The heart connects us to others while the mind often separates us from others.
The heart is fundamental to being alive; if it’s not working neither are we. The mind distracts us from living as most of our experiences in life are in the context of our memories or karma.
The heart is symbolic of compassion, connecting with others and trying to help them realize their potential. Our mind can lead us to wisdom, viewing the world through the perspective of others, but is often what separates us from others as we view others as different from ourselves. The mind is the foundation of the ego.
“Life is so much simpler when you lose the desire to think.”
Our mind is a great servant when we use it to learn from our experiences, simplifying the road forward. However, the mind is a terrible master. When we desire its stimulation, we are its servant. Then, the road forward is not straightforward as the mind creates distractions, twisted thoughts and additional desires to control us.
“It’s easier to choose between black and white than between shades of gray.”
Unlike black and white, the difference between shades of gray is difficult to remember. Hence, as our memories guide us in the choices we make, we gravitate to extreme, simplistic views.
There is only one mind to which we are all connected. Some of us connect via the same wavelength and understand each other. Others seem to us to be on the dark side of the moon (which is how we appear to them) and the connection is weak. But, regardless of how different we are, there is only one mind. Recognizing this opens us up to connecting with everyone.
This past Sunday a photo was taken on the Upper West Side of Manhattan of a woman squatting, urinating and giving head to shirtless man. I spoke with several people about this incident; some, especially those who lived nearby, thought it disgusting and others laughed. At a grocery store I frequent, I mentioned the incident to an older Palestinian man who works there tending to the fruits and vegetables. His apathetic response: “That’s life.” I’m not sure if he meant that the incident is a reflection of the state of affairs in NYC or that he had an enlightened view of it as not a significant event, simply people performing bodily functions which made the scene nothing noteworthy.
It’s curious as to why some would find this incident disgusting. Clearly they have an abstract view of it; that it is the breaking of a taboo based on community or religious standards. As such, they should find it disgusting and do so.
As to those who laugh about it, they view the scene as two people harmlessly enjoying themselves and juxtapose that view with the view of others who find it disgusting. It’s funny that some people can see meanings in something meaningless.
Interestingly, it seems that people living in the nearby vicinity of the incident are much more upset they those living elsewhere. From a far-enough distance, say the heavens, everything seems funny. Likewise, when and old fat woman slips on a banana peal, it looks funny until we realize she’s our mother.
Only the universe is perfect, every-changing and eternal.
Everything else is just an illusionary part of the universe, interdependent and temporary. As everything is interdependent, nothing is perfect as nothing can exit on its own. Describing something as a thing onto itself is an illusion. As everything is temporary, what’s seems perfect now is only temporarily perfect. As temporary, it can be described only approximately as it changes as it’s being described.
Thus, everything is unique and the same, a temporary manifestation of the universe which can only be described as it is what it is whatever it is.
“Men acquire a particular quality by constantly acting a certain way.”
This is an early construct of the aphorism: fake it until you make it.
In other words, when we pretend to be who we are not, eventually we become the person or have the role in life of the person we pretended to be. If not, well, at least we enjoyed pretending as the person we are is problematic for us to be.
That said, this saying can be read otherwise. I spoke with a friend today who said that after 6 years of marriage and a 5 year old girl, he and his Ukrainian wife are divorcing. He’s been in a sexless marriage for some time as his wife tells him she is not in the “mood” whenever he approaches her sexually. That seemed odd to him as previously they had a very active love life. However, recently he asked her if she no longer loved him. She replied, “I never loved you.” Apparently marriage for her was a path to having a baby or citizenship. She was true to the adage of fake it until you make it.
Sometimes people pretend they are what they are not in an effort to transform themselves. But more often to transform how others perceive them. When their masks come off, often what’s revealed is ugly by some measure.
“In of the most striking patterns in yesterday’s  election was years in the making: a major partisan divide between white voters with a college degree and those without one. According to exit polls, 61 percent of non-college-educated white voters cast their ballots for Republicans while just 45 percent of college-educated white voters did so. Meanwhile 53 percent of college-educated white voters cast their votes for Democrats compared with 37 percent of those without a degree. The diploma divide, as it’s often called, is… a complete departure from the diploma divide of the past. Non-college-educated…voters used to solidly belong to Democrats, and college-educated…voters to Republicans.”
Seems odd the college-educated vote against their economic interests, assuming as is generally assumed that the Republican Party favors the wealthy which is what the college-educated are relatively. However, today the college-educated are at a considerably lower caliber of educational achievement than those who graduated from college 50 years ago. Maybe they are more college-brainwashed than college-educated.
In 1977 on a flight from NYC to Dallas, I sat next to a gentleman busy scribbling on his paperwork. Asked him what he was doing, he replied, “working out which bets I want to make” on some football games or horse races. We continued talking and he said he was a magazine writer but didn’t mention his name as he felt I undoubtedly never heard of him. A couple of hours later, I asked him if anyone ever said he looked like Norman Mailer. He said, “Congratulations, it took you a while.” I replied: “Someone has to be Norman Mailer and you’re it; how is it being Norman Mailer, do you enjoy the role?” He replied: ” Terrific role, really enjoying it.”
Mailer was a novelist, journalist, politician, essayist, playwright, film-maker, actor and painter; married six times; had nine children; numerous affairs; stabbed his wife; wrote 11 best-sellers; and cavorted with the glitterati. Yet, the man sitting next to me didn’t seem to take his role too seriously. Maybe that’s why he was Norman Mailer.
Some years back I viewed a documentary movie about the brutalities of the “Dirty War” in Argentina (1976 – 83) when thousands of people disappeared through state sponsored terrorism. One woman interviewed was a rare survivor. She was asked how she felt about the perpetrators, “you must hate them” suggested the interviewer. “No” she said, “I don’t hate them, I fear them.” She learned from her experience whom to avoid but as she was essentially happy she was free to move forward without emotional distractions from the past.
Three years ago I was in LA in a shop that sells clothing and accessories. There I found the pendant in the photo above. Store manager said he had found it at a flea market and that it was a “Navajo star.” While I’m not a jewellery kind of guy, the pendant was sufficiently engaging that I purchased it. Researching after, I couldn’t find a Navajo star like it or another similar star. But that was of no matter as I liked the pendant as it was, regardless of any associations or stories that often accompany artworks. In time the pendant revealed itself as a symbol of pantheism, the view that everything is a manifestation of God.
The pendant depicts two stars with a common center. The shorter star ends in points and the longer one ends in heads. The shorter star represents energy/light. The longer star represents matter. Energy and matter have a common center as they are equivalent (E=M*C*C). The common center is God; hence, a pantheist pendant
The heads at the endpoints of the longer star represent consciousness; five heads, five senses. The longer star also appears like a “spread eagle” cheerleader pose, a celebratory pose.
When we realize we are one with everything and one with God, we experience the world via our senses, not our mind. That’s something about which to celebrate.
I’ve made 25 copies of the pendant and give them out to friends who would wear them. Three years later, I still have 15. I suspect none would be left had I offered them for sale.
God plays different roles in Eastern and Western religions. In the East, God is everything. The universe is a manifestation of God. God is a path through which we connect and are one with everything. In the West, God is an administrative law judge.
“The one is made up of all things, and all things issue from the one.”
God is that which is within and unfolds into the infinite manifestations of the universe, the without. We are never lacking (never without) as what’s without is always within.
Anticipating a problem lessens its consequences.
When we envision problematic events, we can adjust accordingly and mitigate their consequences. As problems initially unfold slowly and then suddenly, when we identify problems unfolding slowly we can to some extent get out of their harm’s way before they unfold suddenly.
However, many of us fear envisioning potential problems as doing so makes us anxious; thus we suffer the consequences of our blinding fears.
“There is freedom of speech, but I cannot guarantee freedom after speech.”
Freedom of speech is the foundation of a well-functioning state, unlike Uganda when Idi Amin ruled it. Considering many independent perspectives allows us the wisest choices (the wisdom of the crowd). Today, however, often there is no freedom after speech as unpopular opinions are denied social media access or those who voice their opinions are marginalized and attacked by those uncomfortable with perspectives that don’t comport with their own. This is how a state begins to slide into monolithic thinking and loses its ability to adapt to changing circumstances which ultimately leads to its demise.
Every day is not a day in a life but a life in a day. As such, best to live each day as it’s our first and last.
As each day is our first, everything is new and unique, engages our attention and arouses our curiosity. We are present to observe and experience. We feel alive.
As each day is our last, best to do everything we would otherwise regret not having done before we die.
Our day has purpose: to enjoy ourselves, realize our potential and help others likewise.
In life there are always more variables than equations. Hence, there are forever unknowns and a rational approach to solve all of life’s mysteries is a fool’s errand. Only through the realm of the divine can we truly know the unknowable. This is the role of the mystic.
The etymology of the word mystic is via Latin from Greek mustikos from mustēs ‘initiated person,’ from muein ‘close the eyes or lips.’
An initiate is someone who has been, often via rituals, admitted into a secret or obscure society or group. Closing the eyes means dispensing with conventional views. Closing the lips means not telling others of your secret society membership as in so doing you might be perceived as mad; as only those who can imagine the mystical experience can see it.
By definition, a mystic is one who by contemplation and self-surrender seeks to obtain unity with God or who believes in the spiritual understanding of truths that are otherwise beyond the rational.
In the play of life the role of the mystic is unlikely to win an Academy Award as it’s generally a supporting role with few lines. However, otherwise it’s good to be cast as a mystic as it makes for a fascinating experience. While I am who I am, professionally as an actor in the play of life I’m an eccentric mystic or at least I hope so as otherwise I must be mad. In any event, it’s much fun.
“No lives matter.”
“Black lives matter” is a moral complaint against inequity in the existing social order.
“All lives matter” is a self-righteous response that implies all people are equal and negates the existence of an inequitable social order. It’s dismissive of the complaint.
“No lives matter” reflects the reality; the incarceration rate, domestic murder rate and casualties and fatalities in overseas military adventures.
Those for whom we march and cry “black lives matter” are memorialized with dignity, respect and fancy funeral ceremonies. In other words, respect for the dead but not for the living.
When I was 12 years old in school in America, one day in class the geography teacher explained that many countries today are categorized as “underdeveloped” but years earlier were referred to as “backward” which is more pejorative. Then, one of the girls in the classroom blurted out: “Those countries are strange, I’d rather be called backward than underdeveloped.”
To some in the developed world, externalities are more important than potentialities.
We experience reality at the end of days. When we are viscerally aware each passing moment brings us closer to the end of life as we have known it, increasingly the nature of reality is revealed; that we are not apart and separate from everything, but one with everything. Death brings life to life.
The characteristics we see in others are just a refection of ourselves. However, others have no characteristics because they are indescribable, they are god. We are all divine but fail to recognize our divinity when we think poorly of others.
“The exaggerated esteem in which my lifework is held makes me very ill at ease. I feel compelled to think of myself as an involuntary swindler.”
Albert Einstein was identified as having “impostor syndrome,” having doubts about his significant accomplishments and talents and fear that others would ultimately realize he was a fraud, not the extraordinary genius they held him to be. Impostor syndrome is not a mental illness, rather a psychological behavior pattern. Other luminaries with impostor syndrome include Tom Hanks, Sheryl Sandberg, David Bowie and Serena Williams.
While impostor syndrome may reflect underlying insecurities, in Einstein’s case it reflected his enlightenment. Like Einstein, enlightened individuals have a terrific sense of humor and interesting insights about the nature of the universe. They happily welcome each day as it is the first and last day of their lives; grateful, optimistic and free from karmic prisons.
The foundation of karmic prisons is the belief that we are the same person today as the people we were in passed days of our lives. (Passed days of our lives is what several spiritual practices refer to as our past lives.) The stories we and others tell about those past people define our roles in the play of life. Our roles imprison us by limiting our perspectives as we experience the world not as it is but in the context of what we “learned” in previous lives (our stories, characterizations, categorizations and general descriptions about the world).
The foundation of karmic prisons crumbles when we come to know the nature of reality, that the universe is forever changing, eternal and beyond description as everything is unique. It is what it is whatever it is. We are not the same people we were in passed lives. Our experience of the universe need not be limited by what we’ve learned and our memories but by our imagination.(1)
Einstein didn’t suffer from impostor syndrome. In describing himself as a willing swindler, he realized that he was simply another physics researcher among thousands in the world; that he was not the genius who long before made the great discoveries associated with him; that he was a fraud by willingly acting in the role assigned him as the greatest mind of the 20th century. That is true genius.
(1) “Imagination is more important than knowledge. For knowledge is limited, whereas imagination embraces the entire world, stimulating progress, giving birth to evolution.” Albert Einstein.
The sun is always rising and setting, simultaneously somewhere on Earth. But the sun is not rising or setting, it is stationary. We fail to realize the Earth is turning when we think the world revolves around us.
Puns are a play with words or phrases that reveal certain truths; that things are not necessarily as they conventionally appear.
Pundits are serious, well-educated and opinionated, never in doubt but often wrong. We embrace their views as they provide us a sense of certainty, however false, in an uncertain world.
Puns are more insightful than pundits.
If we can’t laugh, we can’t afford to smile.
Laughing is a great rejuvenator. It dispenses pain and stress and energizes us. Otherwise, pain or stress consume much of our energy. If we can’t laugh at pain and stress, we can’t afford to spend energy on smiling to cover our distress. Better to identify something funny about our painful or stressful circumstances.
The best things in life we take for granted. Suffering can awaken us to this truth which can lead us to happiness.
Suffering is when we desire that which is not available. When we suffer, we can have flash recollections of how relatively fortunate we were before our suffering. Moreover, we can realize that even in our suffering we have much for which to be thankful as our current circumstances could always be worse. This is gratitude.
As well, we can take solace in knowing that our suffering will at some point come to an end as all things are constantly subject to change, hopefully for the better. This is optimism.
Gratitude and optimism are two of the three pillars of happiness.
Our failed efforts can be very valuable. They are valuable if they teach something about ourselves as that increases our chances of realizing success in the future. If we blame others for our failures, our failures are worthless.
“Mary Had a Little Lamb” is a 19th century nursery rhyme familiar to most American children. A simple rhyme, yet befuddling without an understanding of relationship and context.
Does Mary had a little lamb mean that Mary had a pet lamb; that Mary had a small vagina; that Mary had sex with a lamb; or that Mary ate a little lamb?
It’s a matter of context and relationship. In the context of Mary’s father reading the rhyme, it’s clear that Mary had a pet lamb. However, Mary’s boyfriend talking with his buddies likely means that Mary had a small vagina. Mary’s kinky friends might mean that Mary had sex with a lamb. Mary’s dinner partner would mean Mary ate a little lamb.
Context and relationship defines meaning.
I’ve done many a foolish thing and made many poor choices. Yet I have no regrets. If I was to change one thing in the past, there is a good chance the present would not be as it is now. That’s too risky a proposition. Best to take life as a package deal.
Some years back I attended a wedding in the English countryside. The bride was pretty and ebullient. I congratulated her and wished her the best of luck; adding that she was wise going with an arranged marriage as those tend to be more successful than “love marriages.” She was a bit taken aback, claiming her marriage was a love marriage, not arranged; her parents had nothing to do with her choice of groom.
I explained that in times past children married at a young age and didn’t know much about choosing a mate. Moreover, as marriages were a merger of families, parents arranged the marriages of their children. Today, however, children are no longer young and living with their parents when they marry; post marriage family get-togethers are mostly on ceremonial occasions; and there are often great socioeconomic differences between parents and children; thus, children arrange their own marriages and pay lip service to their families’ input.
The bride and groom were both good-looking, graduates of a top university, Jewish, bourgeoisie, in professional jobs at highly acclaimed organizations and had common life goals. That seemed like an arranged marriage on good footing. Had the bride chosen to marry an ugly uneducated elderly drunken bum with no means of support, that would have been a “love marriage.” When we make choices based on emotional feelings without practical considerations, it must be out of love. However, emotional states of mind are like the weather, they can change unpredictably. Likewise, emotional love relationships often don’t sustain themselves and have a higher failure rate than arranged marriages.
My view was that the bride was in love with the particulars of the marriage she had arranged, not with the groom. However, I was proven wrong. It was a love marriage. The marriage lasted less than two years and ended with great acrimony.
“Worrying does not take away tomorrow’s troubles. It takes away today’s peace.”
“Ain’t no need to worry what the night is gonna bring, it will be all over in the morning.” Anita Baker.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Those who accept the biblical explanation of the origin of life believe God created all that there is; hence, the chicken was created before the egg. Those who hold an evolutionary view of the origin of species believe there can be no chicken without an egg, the egg came first.
Which came first seems a matter of whether we have a biblical or secular bent. However, according to the bible, as God created sea animals before land animals and as sea animals bear eggs, the egg came first regardless of one’s perspective.
“What Do You Care What Other People Think?”
If you’re concerned about how other people think of you, you are likely hanging out with people who think likewise. How could you care about how those people think of you? It’s hilarious if you do; caring about the thinking of people who have little else to do but spend time idly thinking about others and accomplishing nothing.
People aren’t thinking much about anyone or anything. Caring about how others think of us is a fool’s errand. Doing so limits our freedom to be who we are and by not being ourselves we cannot realize our potential; a wasted life.
Moreover, caring about how others think about us is a stressful errand which drains our energy and leaves little for us to lead healthy and productive lives.
“There was no reason for the government to kill him…In any case, they failed. The Dustin Honken they wanted to kill is long gone.”
Shawn Nolan is a lawyer who represented Dustin Honken, 52, who was executed by the federal government for murders he committed when he was 27. Several religious leaders described Honken as someone who today is completely unlike the 27 year old murder; as a compassionate individual who has evolved spiritually.
Every day we are born again, unlike the person we were yesterday who is now no longer. However, we unconsciously choose to assume the identity of the person whom we once were, living like a dead man walking. When we awaken to the reality that today and everyday is our birthday, the people whom we once were are just an imaginary memory and we are free from the stories that connect us to them. Honken had this awakening and the government did not.
“The main obstacle to progress is not ignorance, but the illusion of knowledge. You think you know. But no, you don’t. Once you understand that you don’t know, then your mind is a little more open to say, ‘Oh, OK, there are other possibilities, maybe it’s not true after all.’ Even though you wanted it to be true.”
Humility in the form of having an awareness of our ignorance arouses our curiosity which leads us to fascinating insights beyond our preconceived notions.
Some lives are complicated, some simple. Complicated lives seem more interesting with lots of wild scenes, dramas and complications. However, complicated lives are at times overwhelming.
Simple lives are happy lives, filled with gratitude for the good fortune of living simple lives. Simple lives avoid multitasking, compartmentalize experiences, accept and do the best with what comes their way, don’t worry about matters they cannot control and are optimistic that all will ultimately work out well.
When at times our lives become complicated and overwhelming, best to simplify them and realize the happiness of a simple life.
Black paint in a can
brushed on a canvass
and spilled on the floor.
In the can it’s $30,
on the canvas priceless,
on the floor worthless.
Same paint, never the same
depending on context.
“No one gets out of here alive.”
While our ineffable soul is eternal, we are forever transitioning through life and inevitably transition from our temporary bodies. Best to make the most of the physical experience of being alive and enjoy its sensuous pleasures. Otherwise, we may be fraught with regrets at the end of days, regrets for not having lived.
Jim Morrison died at 27; a relatively short life; over the top full, not half empty.
It’s hard to see forward when looking back at the past. Those who understand the present in the context of the past are poor at seeing the future. Those who know the present are best at seeing the future.
For example, let’s say a stock is trading now at a price of $45/share. If we know everything about the history of the stock and how it traded relative to other stocks, relative to its earnings and all other metrics; we will not be as good at predicting the price at which it will trade next week as will the person who knows only that it is trading now at $45.
“Only put off until tomorrow what you are willing to die having left undone.”
A corollary: don’t do anything today you can put off and do tomorrow; tomorrow may never come, so why have regrets of having wasted your time in life doing something that didn’t need to be done; this is wisdom, not laziness.
Taken together, Picasso’s proposition and the corollary guide us to live without regrets.
Between the drum beats of the pulse
between the motion of breathing
there is an empty space where all is still.
When young, I anxiously waited in the empty space
for the next beat or breath to engage my attention.
Now, I rest in the empty space where nothingness reigns.
From here, I can appreciate the wonder of creation.
“You have to die a few times before you can really live.”
Every evening we die, every morning we are born again; some resemblance to the person we were yesterday. Other than the similar to yesterday’s circumstances in which we find ourselves when we are reborn in the morning, everything is completely new today, unique. This newness stirs us and we can awaken to really live the only life we ever have which is today.
When we identify with the person we were in past lives (passed days of our lives as it’s conventionally known) and believe that person never died (that we are that same person today), we experience today in the context of our past; a life based on stories our mind has created. Unless we recognize we died heretofore, we cannot really live.
“The problem with the world is that intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.”
Those who are fraught with doubt are wise, knowing that much of what unfolds in the world is random. Those never in doubt are often wrong, blinded stupid by overconfidence.
A mix of doubts and confidence isn’t a problem but a blessing. Doubts move the world forward slower than otherwise, minimizing risks, and allow us to more easily adapt to changing circumstances(1), while confidence allows the world to realize itself.
(1) As we can’t see what we can’t imagine, the value of doubts is that they arise from our imagining various scenarios which allows us to identify changing circumstances before their widespread realization limits our options of how to deal with them.
Our interactions are energizing. When habitual or mechanical, the energy is almost imperceptible. However, when our interactions are sincere, authentic and engaging, we are awakened by a burst of energy.
For example, walking by a mail carrier and nodding our head or saying “hello” is a mechanical interaction. Saying “thank you for taking care of us; it’s not an easy job; god bless you” sparks a burst of energy and heartfelt laughs. Beyond energizing, laughing is the best remedy for stress and pain.
Bad luck is better than no luck.
Misfortune we can attribute to bad luck. Doing so doesn’t diminish our confidence in our abilities. Thus, we can have another go at whatever at which we failed.
No luck is when things don’t work out and we have only ourselves to blame.
When we purchase an artwork, we are in fact purchasing two things, the thing and its price. The discerning buyer knows that. The sophisticated buyer does not.
The discerning buyer, by definition, has good judgement; can see the quality of something and it’s relative price. The sophisticated buyer knows much about fashion and culture. However, they are often a sucker for sophism, a specious argument used for deception. They look at an artwork with their ears, not their eyes.
Enlightenment is simply being one with light. Light, the visual form of energy, is the essence of everything. Enlightenment is being one with everything. To the enlightened, this realization is manifested in the many faces of enlightenment.
As E=M*C*C (energy equals mass times the speed of light squared) is M=E/C*C (mass (all that there is) is energy divided (slowed down) dramatically by the speed of light squared), all things are essentially infinite manifestations of light.
As energy is all there is, all things (however seemingly real and independent of energy) are just an illusion disguising energy. As energy is all there is, the Big Bang is all there is. The Big Bang happens at one time. Hence, there is no such thing as time. The appearance of things sequentially is an illusion that creates the illusion of time as well.
The more you look the less you see.
When we look for something, our mind focuses on what we are seeking and tries to identify it as something separate from everything else in our line of vision. In doing so, we are blind to everything else. Likewise, we fail to see the forest when we’re looking for a particular tree; fail to realize we’re unlikely to find a particular tree in a vast forest and more likely to find ourselves lost than to find the tree.
“The monotony and solitude of a quiet life stimulates the creative mind.”
When the mind is calm it doesn’t engage us in a wrestling match. We can then deploy it to observe the infinite manifestations of the universe and create an order of things that make temporary sense of it all. In the preceding sentence, the second “it” is ambiguous; unclear if “it” refers to mind or universe or both or neither. Maybe all that can be said is that it is what it is whatever it is.
Best we keep our eyes open if we want to follow our dreams.
If we’re passionate about a career but lack the talent to make dollars, it doesn’t make sense. But a singer with a lot of passion and no talent can be successful as a comedian.
In the cold of winter, February 1992, I drove with a guide from Lhasa Tibet to Kathmandu. During the four day trip we picked up a couple of hitchhikers. One was a 40 year old woman who looked deep into her 60s. Her skin was very dark for a Tibetan but that was apparently dirt from not having recently bathed. She was friendly and open about her life. She said she rarely bathed since her village home had no running water; had last bathed in a river in the summer; never in her life had a shower.
Every morning as I shower I think about that woman, imagine how she would feel in the shower with its temperature controls, great water volume and soothing soap melting accumulated dirt, yak candle smoke and caked perspiration. Feeling it’s the first shower of my life, my awareness of everything is heightened, I glow with gratitude; an unforgettable experience.
When involved in the mundane, it’s easy to fall into automatic pilot mode and oblivion. Imagining ourselves as someone who has never experienced these activities allows us to experience them as for first time which in fact it is as each time is never as any time before.
“Be open to everything and attached to nothing.”
This concept didn’t sit well with my wife, until I explained it.
Being open to everything means we realize the universe is endless realities and possibilities. When we are attached to nothing, we don’t take any reality or possibility too seriously or confuse any as the sole expression of reality. This is the essence of wisdom.
Nothing is what everything is before it is what it is whatever it is. Nothing is the essence of reality. When we are attached to nothing we are one with everything. This leads to compassion as we thus treat everything as we treat ourselves.
It is wisdom (realizing infinite perspectives and possibilities) and compassion (oneness with the infinite expressions of reality) that open the door to enlightenment.
The phrase “it’s all downhill from here” can be interpreted variously: going forward things will get easier or things will worsen. It’s meaning reflects our attitude.
For example, through much of our lives we have more time than money and we trade our time for money. However, at some point we crossover, we have more money than time. It’s all downhill from here as our lives are now relatively easy as we are financially free to do as we wish or it’s all downhill from here if we think our life will progressively worsen as we run out of time.
Employees believe the amount of their year-end bonus is a function of their past performance. Employers pay bonuses as a function or whether they want to retain an employee for the upcoming year. That’s why an employee remains an employee and the employer is the employer. The employee only looks back and the employer looks forward.
After all the time and effort spent on the meditations, the retreats, the rituals, the costumes, the holidays, etc. and especially embracing the abstract concepts explaining our destiny after death, hopefully we awaken with the sound of our hysterically laughing at the absurdity of it all. If not, our time and efforts have been for little but maintaining the obstacles others face on the path to enlightenment.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
One constant in the universe is change; the river, the man and everything is ever-changing. Anything to the contrary is an illusion.
While no man can step in the same river twice, he can drink from it many times. A man today can remember the experiences of the man he once was and use the knowledge gained from those experiences for his own welfare.
The purpose of life is to have a wonderful time of it every day, to realize our potential and to help others likewise. However, some days we are distracted by difficulties and life doesn’t seem all that wonderful. Then, if we step away from what’s engaging us and focus on helping others, we’ll have a purposeful day and at least have a wonderful time vicariously.
“I used to get a laugh from students by quoting a Soviet citizen I talked to once. He said to me, ‘Of course we have freedom of speech. We just don’t allow people to lie.’ That used to get a laugh! They don’t laugh anymore.”
Today we have freedom of speech, as long as no one is listening.
Life is always and all ways wonderful, though few so realize as they sleep through it or take themselves so seriously they’re oblivious they’re alive. However, at some point we all realize the wonder of it all; hopefully long before the end of days, allowing us to appreciate it all. That’s the essence of happiness.
“No tree… can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.” Carl Gustav Jung
Earth is the domain of heaven and hell. Hell is the brutal realm of animal consciousness where all life resides in ever-changing conflict and inter-dependency. Axis Mundi connects hell and heaven. It is a path only man can traverse. Heaven is the light from which everything springs; it is eternal, where everything is one and man is one with everything. However, to exist, our lives are conditioned on having roots in hell.
There is only one mind to which each of us are connected. Those who think otherwise are disconnected from reality.
The mind is a reflecting pond. Each of us is stationed at different points along the perimeter of mind. Our individual perspectives are reflections of mind from those respective points and our attitude. We each tend to take our finite perspective seriously and believe it’s reality. However, reality is truly revealed when we have an amalgam of perspectives from infinite points along the perimeter of mind. This is the essence of wisdom.
“I grew up in a locker room where people from every race, every background, and every community came together and became brothers to accomplish a single goal…Let’s be the world where …we love each other unconditionally.”
Love is when we identify with each other and serve each other as we wish to be served because we are one with each other; when we work together for the benefit of the whole instead of for our personal benefit.
“A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has first destroyed itself from within.” — Will Durant
A structure easily collapses when it lacks integrity as when we prioritize our identity with fractional groups rather than with the whole. This is like the disease called cancer.
Others hear mostly the sounds we make when we express our unsolicited opinions. To get them to listen, we need them to ask us questions which get their attention to focus on our views. If we arouse their curiosity by asking them questions, they in turn might ask us questions. In that process, we might both learn something. Otherwise, expressing our unsolicited views is an intellectual or emotional bowel movement; feels good but puts off those near.
Every thing is everything and nothing.
Everything is all there is, beyond description; eternal; it is what it is whatever it is. Every thing is part of everything. No thing can be described as every thing is interdependent with everything and forever changing, a temporary part of everything. As every thing does not exist before it changes into and after it changes from its present form, every thing is nothing.
“Survival of the fittest.”
In the short-run it may be survival of the fittest, the fattest or the smartest. In the long-run it is survival of the ones who can see change coming and are quick to adapt to it. Those who are the fittest, wealthiest or smartest have the inside track in the race to the future. But those who are the wisest are more likely to finish the race which one can’t win unless they finish. The wisest can envision many possible future outcomes; they know who they are and whether they can change to changing circumstances or need to move on to change their circumstances.
“[C]ynic…a man who knows the price of everything but the value of nothing…a sentimentalist…is a man who sees an absurd value in everything and doesn’t know the market price of a single thing.”
A cynic doubts the value of everything; hence, he accepts values based on market prices. For example, he accepts that a Rolls Royce is worth $400K because that’s the price at which a willing buyer and seller agree, regardless of the relative merits of the car or its cost of production. A sentimentalist values everything based on personal feelings and thoughts without regard to the reality of prices determined in the marketplace. For example, a sentimentalist might be unwilling to sell for $10K a ring received as a gift and replaceable for $1K.
The cynic values things empirically, it is what it is whatever it is. The sentimentalist values things based on concepts and theories that rarely comport with reality.
Successful traders are cynical. They tend to view the current price of something as the best predictor of its price in the immediate future. Thus, they buy and sell things based on price trends. As something is moving higher in price they buy more and more of it at higher and higher prices. When the price trend breaks, they liquidate their positions at whatever the prevailing prices. Thus they buy high and sell low.
Successful investors are sentimental. They believe the value of something is a function of its relative value and cost of production. That belief allows them to continue buying something as its price declines while whatever they purchased previously is worth less than they paid. In this way they buy on average at lower prices. Likewise, as prices rise they sell. Thus, they buy low and sell high.
Both traders and investors can be successful as long as they know who they are and adhere to their respective strategies.
Our mind is like a muscle, use it or lose it. Curiosity engages our mind with questions. Curiosity identifies anomalies our mind efforts to understand which keeps our mind functioning at peak levels.
“Nothing is worth more than this day. You cannot relive yesterday. Tomorrow is still beyond your reach.”
Best to make the most of what we have and not dwell on that which we don’t have lest we waste what we have.
We have no recollection of the time before our birth. Maybe because it is like when we’re asleep, a time of which we remember only what we imagine in dreams. Or maybe before birth we were one with everything and with no mind; thus, there is nothing to remember.
I took LSD when I was 16. I can’t describe the experience. It is ineffable, not memorable in its content.
The only memory I have of it is that I wanted to eat my mind so that my mind and I would be one. Some would say it sounds like I had lost my mind, perhaps so; or at least that was my aim. I realized there was a disconnect between body and mind that I wanted to eliminate by merging the two. That realization was an awakening.
They understand much and know little;
long on intelligence, short on wisdom;
have more answers than questions.
High on an imaginary pecking order.
Never in doubt, often wrong.
The more they look the less they see
for they cannot see what they cannot imagine.
Following the advice of pundits is the penalty we pay for not thinking independently.
“Liberty produces wealth, and wealth destroys liberty.”
The consequences of too much of a good thing are not a good thing for the good thing.
Liberty allows capitalism; capitalism creates wealth; wealth leads to power which soon concentrates among an elite and in turn disenfranchises all of their liberty.
“Under socialism everyone (except the leaders) is equal. As in equally fucked” in terms of individual liberties. — William Wisher.
“[T]he truth is what you can get enough people to believe.”
What is commonly agreed upon as the truth has nothing to do with the truth; just a consensus, a group think. If we accept such truths as the truth, we are not thinking for ourselves.
The mind is like a pond reflecting reality. We experience reality not as it is but as reflections. The reflections most accurately represent reality when the mind is calm, undisturbed by motion beneath the water and activity above. Motion beneath the pond is a function of us not having integrity and our reacting to stories of our past we’ve created. Activity above the pond is a function of multitasking and distractions like desiring that which we don’t need.
Mindlessness is the purpose of meditation. Meditation is a tool to calm the mind by focusing on, say, solely our breathing. This is mindfulness meditation. Beyond mindfulness, we can advance to mindlessness meditation wherein we focus on the space of nothingness between breaths; that is, the space between when we exhale and before we inhale again. In the space of nothingness we are free from distractions and are ready to experience reality (the present) before it becomes just a reflection from mind.
In the space of nothingness we experience the present and the nature of mind is revealed. Once revealed, we realize the mind’s reflections are not reality but a derivative based on reality that’s distorted by a disturbed state of mind. This realization transforms our relationship with mind from the mind being our master to our servant. The is the foundation of enlightenment.
So remember, breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out. If we forget this, enlightenment will be the least of our problems.
When we know the now we know it is beautiful, energizing, wonderful, eternal, ever-changing and we know the now and we are one. But the now is fragile, easily destroyed by distractions of the illusionary past or future.
We are born unique and the same; unique as unlike anything or anyone else and the same as one of infinite manifestations of God. Our purpose is not to be oblivious to this reality and live accordingly.
When we identify with one group or another (religion, nation, special interests, etc.), we no longer have an independent perspective, are no longer unique nor are we one with everything as group identities create a world of us and them.
When asleep we are one with everything.
we slowly separate from everything
and our self is formed.
When truly awakened
we are not oblivious of where we came
and to where we’ll go.
“No one lies on their death bed and thinks: I wish I had more money.”
At some point in life we reach a crossover point when we realize we have more money than time. Certainly we reach the crossover point in our last moments of life. But as each of has thousands of lives encapsulated as a life each day, we are at the crossover point soon after we awaken from our sleep.
“Real eyes realize real lies.”
When we see the universe with our real eyes we realize our mind was telling us real lies. We go through life sleeping and seeing our world thru our mind. What we see is an illusion, real lies. When we open our eyes and see the universe through our real eyes we realize we’ve been asleep for much of our lives.
The past is the past and what we perceive as the present is also the past. We consciously experience the present as “present-passed,” not the “true-present.” The true-present is the universe, waves of seemingly chaotic energy in an otherwise empty space. The true-present is the pre-sent, the universe before we consciously experience it. The conscious experience of the past (the past and present-passed) is our perception of the universe as reflections from our mind.
The mind is a mnemonic device (etymology of mind: memory). Memories are illusions, stories we’ve created.
The two constants in the universe are change and interdependence. Thus, the true-present cannot be described beyond saying that it is what it is whatever it is. Like God’s response when Moses asks who God is: “I am who I am.” Like the Tao, it is nameless.
We experience the true-present when we are in the gap between true-present and present-passed. This is the space of nothingness. It is like breathing. After we exhale we pause before inhaling. That pause is the space of nothingness. When in that space, we are set to experience the true-present as it unfolds.
The true-present unfolds as waves of light and sound energy; visually, like a kaleidoscope. It is overwhelming, like trying to drink water coming off a fire-hose.
The purpose of the mind is to organize the true-present so that it’s drinkable, not overwhelming.
Experiencing the true-present is akin to hallucinating. The etymology of the word hallucinate is to wander in the mind. In our everyday life, we experience the world as reflections from a point along the perimeter of the pond-mind. As is our habit, every day we go to the same point on the perimeter which results in us having a consistent perspective of the world. However, the mind often is turbulent (a function of our lacking integrity and other distractions) and its reflections distorted. When we calm the mind (through practices like meditation), we can leave its perimeter and wade into the pond, wander in the mind. It is here we can experience the true-present.
In experiencing the true-present, we realize that the reality we’ve heretofore experienced was not reality; just reflections, illusions. The true-present is curvilinear and rectilinear cosmic waves of images and sounds that overwhelming come upon us until we drown. Our drowning however results not in our personal demise; it’s the demise of the various identities we’ve created that define us, the various stories we’ve made up about who we are. It is here when we realize that the past was just an illusion; that we are truly one of the waves, one with everything; as we’ve always been from before our beginning.
Then, we fall down laughing as we realize the play of life and our roles in it are based on illusions. The play starts as a tragedy and ends as a farce when the true-present is revealed.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”
We see through our mind reflections of things that have passed. The reflections are not real, just illusions. When we change our perspective or the way we see things, what we see invariably changes as it never had an inherent reality to it.
We are given the temporary gift of life but are entitled to nothing else. Realizing that life is not fair and much of what happens is a function of randomness hedges us against disappointments.
The Tao does not speak. The Tao does not blame. The Tao does not take sides. The Tao does not complain. The Tao does not argue. The Tao has no expectations. The Tao demands nothing of others. The Tao is not Jewish.
The Tao is not Jewish because the Tao is the Tao and Jewish is Jewish. Each is what it is whatever it is.
“The single biggest problem in communication is the illusion that it has taken place.”
“The greatest communication problem is that we listen to reply, not to understand.” — Anthony Pica
“People are both afraid of dying and living too long.”
We don’t want to die but we don’t want be around to the point where we can’t live as we do now.
Those afraid of dying need to realize that every time we asleep we die and when awakened we are reborn with some resemblance to the person we were yesterday who is now no longer. When we die we are as before we were born, one with everything, which is as good as it gets. We need not fear dying as we’ve done it thousands of times.
Many of us don’t want to live with physical limitations, pain and suffering. However, physical limitations are an inherent part of our lives; e.g., we can’t fly. Finding ourselves in pain is overwhelming unless we are sufficiently enlightened to laugh it off. Suffering, which stems from desiring that which we cannot have, is not a problem when we make the best of the circumstances in which we find ourselves.
No need to fear dying or living too long as today is the only life we have. Tomorrow we will be someone else, for better or worse.
Much of our interactions with others is akin to a stroll in the zoo. The lions, tigers and elephants are beautiful and majestic as we view them from afar, roaming in their cage. Face to face with them, living in their cage, we see is their true nature and our own.
“Uncertainty is an uncomfortable position. But certainty is an absurd one.”
Much of what happens in life is random, prompting anxiety about what’s next. What’s next can be viewed probabilistically which provides some clarity but doesn’t allay anxiety. While definitive prognostications are assuring and comforting, relying on them is absurd as they are rarely right and ill-prepare us to deal with the unexpected which can be more of an overwhelming problem than the anxiety.
Alan Watts in The Book On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are:
“God also likes to play hide-and-seek, but because there is nothing outside God, he has no one but himself to play with. But he gets over this difficulty by pretending that he is not himself. This is his way of hiding from himself. He pretends that he is you and I and all the people in the world, all the animals, all the plants, all the rocks, and all the stars. In this way he has strange and wonderful adventures, some of which are terrible and frightening. But these are just like bad dreams, for when he wakes up they will disappear.
Now when God plays hide and pretends that he is you and I, he does it so well that it takes him a long time to remember where and how he hid himself. But that’s the whole fun of it—just what he wanted to do.
He doesn’t want to find himself too quickly, for that would spoil the game. That is why it is so difficult for you and me to find out that we are God in disguise, pretending not to be himself. But when the game has gone on long enough, all of us will wake up, stop pretending, and remember that we are all one single Self—the God who is all that there is and who lives for ever and ever.
Of course, you must remember that God isn’t shaped like a person. People have skins and there is always something outside our skins. If there weren’t, we wouldn’t know the difference between what is inside and outside our bodies. But God has no skin and no shape because there isn’t any outside to him.
The inside and the outside of God are the same. And though I have been talking about God as ‘he’ and not ‘she,’ God isn’t a man or a woman. I didn’t say ‘it’ because we usually say ‘it’ for things that aren’t alive. “God is the Self of the world, but you can’t see God for the same reason that, without a mirror, you can’t see your own eyes, and you certainly can’t bite your own teeth or look inside your head. Your self is that cleverly hidden because it is God hiding.
You may ask why God sometimes hides in the form of horrible people, or pretends to be people who suffer great disease and pain. Remember, first, that he isn’t really doing this to anyone but himself. Remember, too, that in almost all the stories you enjoy there have to be bad people as well as good people, for the thrill of the tale is to find out how the good people will get the better of the bad. It’s the same as when we play cards. At the beginning of the game we shuffle them all into a mess, which is like the bad things in the world, but the point of the game is to put the mess into good order, and the one who does it best is the winner. Then we shuffle the cards once more and play again, and so it goes with the world.”
Everything is a manifestation of God. When we perceive God as something different than ourselves, we can never be one with God.
“The play’s the thing.”
Hamlet says “the play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” The king’s guilty conscience will be revealed by the king’s obvious embarrassment as he is watching the play.
It’s odd that an expression that’s ambiguous to the point of meaningless is well-recognized. It must speak to certain truths.
In the play of life, our intentions, actions and their consequences are revealed. So while the play is a fiction, it reveals the reality of who we are.
The play’s the thing; that is, something that cannot be described beyond “thing.” It is what it is whatever it is. It can be anything we want it to be.
“Don’t Seek Happiness. If you seek it, you won’t find it, because seeking is the antithesis of happiness.”
Suffering is desiring that which is not on our menu of immediate choices. When we are suffering we are not happy.
If nothing on the menu makes us happy, we can choose ingredients from different line items and cook up something that does. Alternatively, we can just laugh off our situation (how stupid, ugly and selfish of us take our desires seriously in light of how fortunate we are). Laughter dissipates pain and suffering which then allows us the opportunity to be happy.
The foundation of happiness is gratitude for our good fortune and optimism that all will be better.
In the play of life I am who I am. I am god and so is everyone else. The only difference between us is that some realize we are god and others are oblivious to who we are before birth and after death and all times in between. It’s the difference between being one with everything (eternally transitioning manifestations of God) and viewing oneself as finite in space and time (birth to death). It’s the difference between realizing we are actors in a play for our own entertainment and taking our roles in the play seriously. In cannabis speak, it’s the difference between being high and feeling stoned.
Everything is a manifestation of God. As long as we perceive God as something different than ourselves, we can never be one with God, one with everything.
Recounting the train accident in Japan on April 25, 2005: “I had a sense something will happen…and went back to the train. I saw the tragedy of the train snapping in two and the people underneath it. The ambulance didn’t make it in time, so I dragged out the people around me who were breathing. Yes, it has changed the way I live my life a bit. I began to take a narrow, short path. It’s not like before. The scenery around me were all clear and the nature was near there, making for a very beautiful way.”
A moment of awakening. There is a small gap between when something happens and when we realize it has happened. Before the accident became real, Kanako was in that gap and knew something was happening which called her to the train. When the accident became real she did what she could to help, stepped out of her role as a pedestrian and acted as an ambulance person in triage. (When we awaken we realize any role in the play of life is ours to assume.) At this moment of awakening she realized that right then right there was different than all that came before in her life (“It’s not like before.”). Moreover, she knew that as life can end in an instant, best to awaken as soon as possible; best “to take the narrow, short path” to self-realization*. Then she awoke to the beauty of everything around her and her path forward as the accident and its ramifications were now long past.
*The narrow and short path to self-realization is the meditation of death. It is setting our mind on the thought that we will die moments from now. Soon, the overwhelming energy of everything is revealed; that we and the energy are one. However, it is a narrow path and if we slip along the way we may very well not make it through. The wide and long path to self-realization is working with an enlightened master, formally receiving his teachings and engaging in meditative/contemplative practices. It is a long path as it involves many years of work until we get it. It is a wide forgiving path as it is walked with the support of the master and other students.
“All things are subject to interpretation. Whichever interpretation prevails at a given time is a function of power and not truth.”
The victors write history stories as pleases them. When we understand the present in the context of history, we fail to identify the victors of the future. In other words, we often can’t see future possibilities when we imagine them in the context of the stories of the past.
The Buddha’s path to enlightenment is without a guide or guru. On the path he observes the world around him, questions his observations, realizes he knows nothing and that ultimately there is nothing to know. He knows that of the universe can only be said that it is what it is whatever it is. Any other descriptions are illusory. He realizes he is temporarily part and eternally one with the universe and whatever happens to him in this life is of little matter in the scheme of things. As he is one with everything he treats others as he would wish to be treated. This is compassion. As one with everything he can experience whatever happens to him from the infinite perspectives of others. This is wisdom. Wisdom mitigates the affect his personal perspectives have on him. In other words, when we are one with the universe we significantly hedge the idiosyncratic risks in our lives. (1) This has a calming effect and provides us a good laugh seeing others take their personal perspectives seriously. That is why in classic images of Buddha he is laughing. All other truths Buddha realizes stem from the foregoing.
While gurus can be helpful as guides, they are no substitute for independent thinking. Few who follow gurus ever awaken to the truths of the Buddha. Most simply play the role of follower in the play of life. They will likely learn much but know little. That’s their life.
(1) Idiosyncratic risks are those that are personal to an individual, like an accidental fire in our house. Experiencing the related losses is difficult but less so when we also experience it from the perspectives of our neighbors and others.
The etymology of “integrity” is wholeness. When we have integrity we are of one mind. We can hold disparate perspectives but those perspectives, while they may be diametrically opposite, don’t give rise to internal conflicts. We are free to make clear choices without ambivalence.
However, many of us lack integrity. While we appear as one person, within us are many people arguing, each telling us what to do. For example, one person in our head tells us to have a cigarette, we’ll enjoy it. Another person says don’t smoke, it’s not good for us. Likewise, externally we may lie to others so that they view us in a way unlike who we truly are, giving rise to two different people, who we are and who we project ourselves to be; again, lacking integrity. That these various people within and without us exist begs the question: who are we?
Each of us is like a ship with a captain, first mate, navigator and oarsmen. The shipmates often fight over control of the ship’s steering wheel, forcing the ship to change its course. The captain can assert control through discipline, get each shipmate to perform their respective function and steer the ship’s course. But at some point the captain needs to sleep, the mates leave their stations, enter the captain’s cabin and again start fighting over the wheel to change the ship’s course. As such, discipline is often an ineffective way to develop integrity.
Love and meditation are an effective way to making us whole, to promote integrity. Love is connecting with others harmoniously, accepting them and their perspectives. Love connects all the shipmates within us and accepts their views and needs. With love, the shipmates work together for the benefit of each other and the whole.
Meditation is a process for calming the mind. The mind is like a pond. We view the world as reflections off the surface of the mind. When the surface of the mind is disturbed by our different selves fighting within us, the images reflected are distorted and we don’t see the world clearly. Through meditation we calm the mind and its reflections give us a clear view of our world, allowing us to make choices not skewed by conflict. We have courage, resolve and strength of character; grit, the root of integrity.
Ultimately, when the various people inside our mind compete and integrity prevails; it can be said that integrity, one, won.
When I was 16, living in Brooklyn with my parents, one summer night I drove to Sheepshead Bay and sat on the rocks along the beach. Reflections from the moon danced on the water, the ocean breathed in the surf and breathed out a roar as it crashed on the shore. The sounds, the motion, the light and darkness felt eerie, a bit frightening as I was infinitesimal before the infinite . I wondered why the ocean, expressing itself and affecting me more than most people I knew, was not considered as alive as are plants and animals. What did it mean to be alive? The “alive” classification made little sense. Other classifications and definitions also seemed senseless. What defined me and not me.
Now, many years later, most classifications, descriptions and thoughts seem like empty boxes; helpful for organizing and communicating, but empty of the experiences they try to contain.
The corona virus pandemic is a terrific individual and collective existential moment. (Terrific once meant horrible/terrible and now of course means wonderful.) Like everything else in life the virus can be viewed in multiple ways; however, not viewing it at least in part as terrific implies we take our personal views too seriously and as such have a limited understanding of it’s nature and ramifications.
It is an existential moment as we are awakened by the immediacy of death as many we know or hear about die unexpectedly and as death rings everywhere with highly publicized daily death tallies. While we know that no one is getting out of here alive, the virus is a constant reminder of that reality. This reminder arouses us to consider our own death which leads us to question why we are here in life and how should we use the time remaining before we die. Is there any value to us continuing from now until our death the same life routines we’ve embraced for years or should we do something more meaningful or of greater value to others? Contemplating this can lead us to a life-changing state of mind and life changes. Helping us make a life change is the quarantine which prohibits us from continuing our habits of socializing, shopping and other routines that devour much of our time. Having a break from these habits makes them easier to break which in turn gives us time for other matters that might result in a life change. This change is likely to be terrific.
Collectively, it is also terrific. As now in quarantine we consume only what we need. The quarantine shows us that much of our consumption has been of goods and services that we want but don’t need. This suggests that maybe it’s better to have a life based on less expensive experiences than chasing things we don’t need. Moreover, the common threat of the virus solidifies nations and people everywhere which leads to peaceful coexistence. Thus, the virus is terrific as it may re-shift collective priorities to the benefit of all.
Most of us will receive a reprieve from the virus. This will be a watershed moment for us; a point of reference from which we will judge whether our time from now until the end was well-served or we just killed time until time killed us.
Now is a time, now is the time.
Now is a time as a point in time, a way to differentiate between past and future. This is sequential time. Now is the time as the only time that exists is now; past, present and future are all woven into now. This is synchronous time.
Those experiencing time sequentially have a logical perspective, a narrow focus, start one task after another is finished, are conscientious, organized, punctual, view activities as finite, value time and are careful in how it’s spent and view the past, present and future as distinctly different. They view the future as something that can be organized based on the present and recent past. They tend to often glance at their watch to tell time as time is telling them what’s next. They work at jobs. They fish with a rod and reel.
Those whose experience of time is synchronous are flexible, multitask and move seamlessly between activities, focus on a project and not on the time it takes to complete it, are more concerned with quality than quantity, develop long-term working relationships, perceive the world as continuous and view the past, present and future as continuous, not segmented. They feel that everyone dead or alive today is present; feel connected to them all, wherever they may be, and have their perspectives. They have careers. They fish with a net.
Experiencing time synchronously allows us a broad and deep understanding of our circumstances and opens us up to the many possibilities as the future unfolds. A sequential view of time frames our expectations within our most recent experiences. For example, in Germany in the 1930’s Jews with a sequential view of time had no reason to suspect the holocaust was coming. In 1871 Germany adapted a constitution that granted Jews social and political freedoms equal to all German citizens. However, those with a synchronous sense of time knew of Jews burned in masses in barns in Germany during the Black Plague 600 years back. As such, they could envision a similar outcome with the rise of the Nazis and plan an escape before none was to be had.
Time is time, whatever that is. We can artificially divide it and use it as a measuring tool or we can accept its ever-presence like a body of water where a school of fish swim.
Love is having peak experiences as we connect with others and/or the universe.
Micro or personal love is connecting with specific individuals or experiences. It is physically pleasurable; intense; dramatic; joyful; sometimes painful. When in micro love we take ourselves seriously as it feels very real as it energizes us. It is an experience of heart and loins. It is finite as it is specific to the individuals or experiences that engender it.
Macro love is love of everything. It is a sense of being one with everything; a calm, joyous state. It is an experience of the soul feeling the soul in everything. It is experiencing the eternal, God.
While micro and macro love are mutually exclusive, we can experience both. However, those who haven’t experienced macro love only know micro love. Those who have macro love experiences can also experience micro love. Those solely experiencing micro love view those experiencing macro love as having an experience of the head not the heart, as not having truly experienced love. Those who experience macro love pity those whose only experience is micro.
Each of us is a unique spirit with a common soul.
God is all there is. The universe is the manifestation of God.
In the Bible, the Burning Bush is the image of God that appears to Moses at Mount Sinai. The flames are ever-changing and the bush is not devoured by the flames as they are light, not fire. The flames represent the spirit, the bush the soul.
The words spirit and soul are often used interchangeably. However, spirit and soul are different. Spirit is the animated, vibrating life force. Soul is the sole essence of everything alive or not. All that’s alive has a unique ever-changing spirit and everything alive or not has the same soul.
We show up in life as spirits; some with high energy, some low; some big flames, some hardly visible; some volatile, some steady; each unique. When we go to sleep, we go to our death(1), our spirit is extinguished and our soul joins all other souls in the well of souls. As soul is the essence of everything, we are then one with everything. When we awaken our spirits arise. Soul is then only visible to those who know it exists and our attention focuses on our spirit and the spirits of others. When aware of our soul, we can celebrate our common essence instead of finding ourselves distracted by spirits.
(1) Each night we die, each morning reborn some resemblance to the person we were yesterday who is now no longer. Each day is not a day in a life but a life in a day.
The purpose of life is to have a wonderful and happy life, realize our divine potential and help others do likewise.
Happiness is a function of gratitude, optimism and freedom from the karmic prison of our past lives, the days of our life now passed.
Gratitude is the realization that even the seemingly worst days could always be worse. Thus, we are always grateful. When grateful we are “great-full,” full with the feeling that all is great.
The etymology of happy is “hap” which means luck. When we realize how lucky we are relative to most who are here now or who once were and are no longer, we are grateful and happy.
In the absence of gratitude, complaining thrives. Complaining is selfish. While complaining feels good temporarily, it precludes happiness. Complaining is selfish as in doing so we are oblivious of others who are truly suffering, those who would be very happy in our circumstances. When we view our lives from the perspective of those who are suffering, we have much about which to be grateful. Thus, one of the most significant choices in life is selfishness or happiness.
Nothing is perfect but the universe which God has created. As everything but the universe is imperfect, when we are oblivious to God’s perfect creation it is easy to find some aspect of “every thing” about which to complain. As God gives us bodily form to enjoy ourselves and have happy lives, by complaining we risk that God hears us complaining and self-entertains by putting us in harm’s way; giving us something about which to truly complain.
A fundamental truth is that all things, including our circumstances, are temporary, ever-changing. As what is now will soon be no longer, when we are in difficult circumstances we can be calm and happy as we know that our circumstances will change for better or worse but sooner or later for the better.
Freedom From Karmic Prisons
Karma is the intentions, actions and consequences in our prior lives (days now passed as each day is a lifetime) that we weave into stories, generalizations and meanings which frame our experience of the present. Our stories imprison us, keeping us from experiencing the ever-changing and unique present as it is. Experiencing the present in the context of the past is living in the past.
To free ourselves from our karmic prisons, we need to realize that our past and all our stories are an illusion that is made seemingly real by our mind. (The etymology of “mind” is “memory.”) This can be done through mindless meditation and otherwise not taking ourselves seriously.
REALIZING OUR DIVINE POTENTIAL
Humans are a transitional species, part animal and part divine consciousness. We are born as animals and are socialized as animals. As animals we view ourselves as apart and separate from that which is not ourselves. In that context, we effort to fulfill our needs for food, shelter, security, health and companionship with little regard for that which is not ourselves. Simply, we are selfish.
The ultimate human potential is the realization of divine consciousness; the realization that we and the universe are one. This is enlightenment, being one with the light and one with everything as everything is light. As enlightened beings, we treat others as we treat ourselves (compassion) and embrace multiple perspectives (wisdom), not solely the perspective from our finite selves. Enlightened, we live happily, finding most people funny as they take their singular perspectives seriously, thinking they know that of which they have only a limited understanding.
The road to enlightenment is difficult, yet easy. It requires accepting our complete ignorance of everything, not taking ourselves seriously and mindless meditation.
To awaken others is like the process of awakening ourselves. We arouse their curiosity by questioning them as to who we are, why are we are here in life, why is he universe here. Answering these questions is difficult and frustrating work as the answers require us to see beyond ourselves. Yet the work is simple; reflecting on the nature of mind and the universe. The work can lead to near exhaustion like a dog endlessly chasing its tail. Then, suddenly, we stop and fall down laughing at the absurdity of our chasing our tail, as we realize we were enlightened from the very beginning.
“I have heard the key
Turn in the door once and turn once only
We think of the key, each in his prison
Thinking of the key, each confirms a prison”
When we focus on our earliest memories, we imprison ourselves and can only wait for the prison door to open to allow us return to who we were before we were born. This keeps us from making the most of our present circumstances.
All things are reflections,
initially reflections of light
then reflections of mind.
In the first instance our eyes see the truth,
in the second our mind starts lying to us.
The truth is revealed in the present
but disappears when we reflect on what has passed.
“History…is a nightmare from which I am trying to awake.”
The stories we’ve created of our past frame our experiences in the present. While some of our stories are nightmares, others are happy fairy-tales. Our stories are like the children’s game of Chinese whispers; the stories change as we retell them to ourselves and others over time. Often the stories have little relationship with the past facts upon which presumably they are based.
Experiencing the present in the context of our stories doesn’t allow us to experience the present as it is; truly unique, unlike anything we’ve experienced heretofore. Only by awakening from our sleep-inducing stories can we be present.
“Fiction is the lie through which we tell the truth.”
The play of life is a story, a facade beneath which lies the truth; clear to the audience of gods watching the play but not to most of the actors playing their respective roles.
“This is the way the world ends, not with a bang, but a whimper.”
While war stirs fears of sudden death and dying, most of us die naturally. A slow process that happens to each of us daily, though barely noticeable to most.
From earliest days in memory until early teens, my father who had a temper would often yell and hit me for things I thought were inconsequential. One time he even screamed “I wish you were never born.” I didn’t take this personally; thought that’s just the way he was, nervous and easily agitated. He died at 60 of the flu. My mother lived another 28 years. I would often ask her how daddy really felt about me. Her response was always the same: “He couldn’t stand you.” To which I just laughed. What was funny was that he was irritated by meaningless things he took seriously which made them real. For example, if I got home a couple of hours passed my curfew, he would go into a rage; seemed odd to me because at that point I was home.
My mother loved me unconditionally. Always gave me preferential treatment; she cleaned my room first, spared no expense in serving only me the best foodstuffs, even when we couldn’t afford much. However, 20 years before she died she announced her entire estate would be bequeathed to my sister. While my sister was not indigent and likely to die with more money than she’d inherit from my mother, my mother felt that my sister needed it more than me. I shared mother’s news with my children, including my 5 year old son, who from then on would always greet her: “Hi grandma, how about 50/50?” However, she never changed her will. How did I feel? Just laughed. It was funny because others with whom I shared my story were taken aback, vicariously felt hurt. That seemed silly. There was nothing personal to me about this experience. My mother did what my mother did; seemed the right thing to do in her mind. I was happy for her. (Of course, had she been worth say $10M or more, maybe I would have felt differently.) At her deathbed, I was with her and my sister. I asked her whom she loved more, me or my sister. She said she loved me more. That seemed like a good deal. I got the blessing and my sister got the goats.
The point of my story is that many of us in situations like mine with my father and mother would have told themselves stories like mommy or daddy didn’t love me, I’m worthless, etc. They might feel wounded, traumatized perhaps. But that’s not really what happened in times past. That’s just a story they chose to tell themselves. Perhaps they might feel better if they change their stories.
“We don’t see things as they are; we see things as we are.”
Separating each of us are two-way mirrors with small holes. Through the holes we occasionally glimpse each other and the universe. Otherwise, all we see everywhere are reflections of ourselves. However, if we smash the mirrors we can see everyone as they are, the universe as it is and never again see ourselves.
“Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, ‘I’m possible!'”
The universe created things as complicated as humans. Humans have created things beyond our imagination not long ago in human history That which is impossible is just what we accept as impossible. If I’m possible, nothing is impossible.
“The question isn’t who is going to let me; it’s who is going to stop me.” — Ayn Rand
“It is during our darkest moments that we must focus to see the light.”
In our darkest moments, particularly difficult and seemingly overwhelming circumstances, we focus on ourselves. Our self is like a black hole that sucks our energy, weakening us. At these moments, best to focus outside ourselves, on the Big Bang and its aftermath where everything is reflections of light; light as in energy and light as in funny. The light energizes us and gives us hope. What’s funny is how seriously we’ve taken ourselves and our circumstances which are essentially temporary as the only constant in the universe is change.
“The courage to be vulnerable is not about winning or losing. It’s about the courage to show up, when you can’t predict or control the outcome.”
Not much courage is needed in accepting a challenge wherein our abilities are tested and we can come out a winner or loser. The role of the winner is easy to handle; the role of the loser is also not difficult as there are many losers and being in the company of many is comforting. Moreover, as win/lose situations are often encapsulated in time, we can take comfort in knowing when one such situation ends we can try our hand at another.
Great courage is needed to embrace open-ended situations with random outcomes as those are stressful, like driving a car with our eyes closed. But is that courage or foolishness?
“The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude, to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than success, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness, or skill. It will make or break a company…a church…a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past. We cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play in the one string we have, and this is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how I react to it. And so it is with you…We are in charge of our Attitudes.”
“We experience ourselves, our thoughts and feelings as something separate from the rest. A kind of optical delusion of consciousness.”
We are all one but delude ourselves into viewing ourselves as finite beings, apart and separate.
Most of our lives are spent in a dream-state; a dream of stories based on memories and imaginations that seem very real. Awakening is the realization that our memories, imaginations and past have little to do with us beyond finding ourselves in certain physical circumstances (our body and the immediate world about us) and with certain network connections (social roles with family, work, friends); that everything otherwise is new, always and all ways new; new from one moment to the next. The newness of everything is engaging, energizing and arouses our curiosity which further engages and energizes us. We then realize that everything is new as everything is temporary, ever-changing. We realize that we are not solely ourselves as defined by our physical circumstances and network connections but are one with everything and temporarily separate from everything.
The dream is like a movie which our mind makes real, giving it three dimensions. When the theater lights turn on, the screen images fade and we recognize it was only an illusion.
“Sooner or later we’ve all got to let go of our past.” (Dan Brown). Best to do so before the movie ends.
“It is impossible to escape the impression that people commonly use false standards of measurement — that they seek power, success and wealth for themselves and admire them in others, and that they underestimate what is of true value in life.”
Material things come and go, if not in our lifetimes then when we exit the play of life. The true value in life is life itself, having a wonderful time, awakening to our divine consciousness and awakening it in others.
The right answers are everywhere. But we can only find them when we ask the right questions.
The right questions alight a path. The wrong questions keep us in darkness. For example, asking “what is it like to be enlightened?” takes us nowhere.. But asking “who am I?” starts us on the road to enlightenment.
Beginner’s luck is an often heard lament by seasoned players in some game or business explaining the success of a novice. Beginner’s luck can partly be explained by the beginner performing better than the low expectations seasoned players have of his performance. Another explanation is that the beginner is less aware than seasoned players of the subtle risks he is assuming, hence he is more aggressive and can reap higher rewards from taking greater risks. Similarly, the beginner is more focused on one or two key variables that most of the time affect outcomes while seasoned players’ attention is more widely focused, distracted. As well, the imagination of beginners is not limited by their past experiences, as is seasoned players, in their views of possible outcomes; hence they can envision as likely, what seasoned players perceive as highly unlikely, extremely positive outcomes from the choices they make and position themselves accordingly. Finally, in a competitive game, the beginners (who are typically a minority of the number of players) have the advantage of low costs for the choices they make as there are few players competing for those choices.
At some point beginner’s luck runs out as the beginner is no longer a beginner and becomes a seasoned player. However, before that happens, beginner’s luck can easily turn into bad luck as the beginner becomes overconfident and makes unwise choices.
Ultimately, seasoned players and beginners might both have greater luck if they made choices not solely based on their individual perspective but the perspective of the other as well.
“A friend is someone who gives you total freedom to be yourself.”
When friendships are based on social, familial and commercial networks and context, our interactions tend to be based on role-playing, not on showing up as we truly are. A true friend is someone with whom we are as open and comfortable as when we are by ourselves.
All our wishes come true but not in the forms we imagine.
In 1973 I graduated from college and planned to start working, have a family and take a year at a Zen monastery when I reached 40, like Philip Kapleau who wrote The Three Pillars of Zen. At 40, my family and business partners would not have been encouraging had I taken a year-long sabbatical. However, at 43 my family and 140 friends threw a farewell party for me at the Harvard Club before I left for a 13 month stay at a Federal prison.
What landed me in prison was my involvement in an “insider trading” case. I personally profited $50K. Legal fees cost me roughly $2M and fines and penalties another $1.8M. Moreover, I was no longer allowed to manage other people’s money, though all of my investors stayed with me until I was prohibited from working. As a result of my not being allow to work, my net worth today is not even a tiny fraction of what it would have been otherwise.
I didn’t think that my trading was criminal. But others obviously did. In any event, the cost of going to trial, fines, penalties and the sanctions placed upon me undoubtedly were punitive to an extreme. How do I feel? Pretty good as I play squash 4 – 5 times a week and I play with the prosecutor in my case. Why? Because I was born with the gene of happiness and the prosecutor is a wonderful guy, good squash player.
I did learn something from this ordeal: best be careful what we wish for as every wish will come true but not in the form we imagine. While I didn’t go to a traditional Zen monastery, monasteries are wherever we are as long as we open our eyes.
Ultimately, in terms of my experience, “life is 10% of what happens to us and 90% of how we react to it.” (Charles Swindoff)
Trusting others may lead us at times to costly losses and disappointments that might have otherwise been avoided had we been more cautious and defensive. But the value of the tranquility that comes from trusting overwhelms the costs.
Unless experience or knowledge informs us otherwise, we naturally trust others when we feel connected with them. As such, we try to do well by them and assume they will try to do well by us. This sense of connection is very powerful. It is identifying with the whole of the universe, not solely with our finite selves. As the universe has been and will be here forever, identifying with the whole infuses us with a sense of confidence and optimism that everything will ultimately work out well and there’s nothing to worry about as our personal lives need not be taken too seriously. This instills tranquility, a stressless state of mind.
Those who don’t feel so connected have stressful lives as they are on the watch for others who might do them wrong. While in their over-cautious approach to life they might avoid some undesirable situations, the ongoing stress in their role as a watchdog may be more harmful to them than would have been the situations they were lucky to avoid. In fact, prison guards have significantly shorter lifespans than prisoners.
Trust however need not be open-ended. Best to trust others while limiting potential risks if things unfold with negative consequences. In other words, if we lend someone $100 and they don’t pay us back, the situation is manageable; less so if we lend them our credit cards.
“Right is right even if no one is doing it; wrong is wrong even if everyone is doing it.”
Best to view the choices before us in terms of what’s the right thing to do to avoid unacceptable consequences and maximize the reward/risk ratio for all concerned taken as a whole, not just for ourselves or any particular members of the whole. Wrongdoing is very common. As such, it is easy to follow others in their wrongdoing and be oblivious of the consequences of such a choice. Moreover, choosing to go along with others’ choices is a mindless approach. The less we use our mind the more quickly it atrophies to the point where we become incapable of thinking independently.
“You were born an original. Don’t die a copy.”
We are billions of unique individuals but are cast by society into common roles in the play of life. Our roles become our identities which retard our realizing our inherent potentials.
The mind is a piano with a finite set of keys with which we can score an infinite number of musical compositions. The compositions express our emotions. Love is when the piano fills the air with music that connects us to the heart of the universe.
Intelligence is having strong cognitive abilities. Wisdom is good judgement.
Those who are intelligent do well at analyzing complex data. Data by its nature is historical. The intelligent are good at explaining the past. The wise are good at assessing current situations and determining the likelihood of future outcomes.
From early childhood our intelligence is measured by tests and school grades. This is a easy measurement as it’s ex-post. Those perceived as highly intelligent are put on fast tracks and given many opportunities to excel to the top of their classes or organizations. They excel at many technical skills like math and verbal communication. Their minds can be microscopic and/or telescopic, able to view that about which people of average intelligence seem clueless. They can make sense of an otherwise ambiguous past which gives them and their audience confidence in their ability to predict how things will transition in the future. However, there is little relationship between those who most convincingly understand the past and those who are best at predicting the future. As everything is forever transitioning and everything is unique, using the past as a basis to predict the future puts limits on one’s imagination. This is significant as we can’t see what we can’t imagine.
The wise are best at assessing current situations and predicting how they will transition over time. Their wisdom is generally more valuable than the perspectives of those considered intelligent. However, it is difficult to measure and identify those who are wise. To do so would require measuring ex-ante outcomes which would take time for forecasts to be realized (or not) and require many forecasts. Moreover, excellent forecasters give different scenarios percentage probabilities which is not what an interested audience generally wants as percentages don’t give their audience as much confidence about going forward as do definitive forecasts. Thus, because of the difficulties of measurement and little demand by the general public, identifying those who are wise is not done systematically. However, those in the interested audience who are self-confident want forecasts from those who are wise, not those who are intelligent.
The difference between the intelligent and the wise is clear as academics are intelligent and successful business people tend to be wise (and/or lucky). Academics are great at explaining the past and confidently predicting the future. But if the value of an individual’s contribution to society is simply measured by the amount of money they earn, academics aren’t highly valued as predictors. Successful business people are paid considerably more for their predictive abilities as they are able to profit from correctly predicting future markets and cost-effectively providing what those market want. They are wise.
A good metaphor is the hedgehog and the fox. Hedgehogs are best at digging through a hedge. But that’s all they can do well, like an idiot savant who is narrowly intelligent. The fox doesn’t do anything particularly well but can consider many approaches to obtaining what he wants. Ultimately, always bet on the fox rather than the hedgehog to survive.
Modern society (more so than primitive tribal societies where wise elders are often consulted) are lead by those considered intelligent. This often results in relatively poor choices.
As our social system doesn’t measure and identify those who are wise, how do we personally identify them? The fox would say to not listen to those most intelligent and best at explaining the past as they are unlikely to be good predictors of the future; best to take advice from those who know the past as a multifaceted amalgam of not necessarily related events and can speak of the future in probabilistic terms.
The root of the word happiness is “hap” which means “luck” in Old Norse and Old English. When we feel we’ve gotten lucky, we are happy. When we realize however difficult our circumstances could always be worse, we are grateful for our good luck. When we are grateful we are great-full and when filled with great we are happy.
Each of us plays several roles in the play of life; some difficult, some easy. Difficult roles include having mental and physical health issues, poverty, dangerous situations, etc.; roles that require taking ourselves and our situations seriously. Easy roles are happy, simple lives.
Difficult roles can win an Academy Award; easy roles not. Given the chances of winning an Academy Award, best to forgo that chance and go with the easy roles.
We are born into certain circumstances and with certain potentials. Then our lives evolve through chances and choices. We choose our roles; if not, we are given by society the roles that are vacant, that no one truly wants.
Best to be proactive and make choices that comport best with our strengths, weaknesses and allow us to realize our potential. Otherwise we are likely to be given difficult roles and have a difficult go of life.
“An atheist was seated next to a little girl on an airplane and he turned to her and said, “Do you want to talk? Flights go quicker if you strike up a conversation with your fellow passenger.”
The little girl, who had just started to read her book, replied to the total stranger, “What would you want to talk about?”
“Oh, I don’t know,” said the atheist. “How about why there is no God, or no Heaven or Hell, or no life after death?” as he smiled smugly.
“Okay,” she said. “Those could be interesting topics but let me ask you a question first. A horse, a cow, and a deer all eat the same stuff – grass. Yet a deer excretes little pellets, while a cow turns out a flat patty, but a horse produces clumps. Why do you suppose that is?”
The atheist, visibly surprised by the little girl’s intelligence, thinks about it and says, “Hmm, I have no idea.” To which the little girl replies, “Do you really feel qualified to discuss God, Heaven and Hell, or life after death, when you don’t know shit?”
And then she went back to reading her book.”
What makes this story funny is that it reveals certain truths and there’s nothing more funny than the truth.
The little girl is curious as she observes an odd transition in life (as that of the grass). She is reading a book as she has an interest in learning. She values her time and doesn’t simply want to kill it as the atheist suggests they do. As a little girl she may not know much but does know that as the atheist doesn’t know much about what human nature finds repulsive (he doesn’t know shit), he unlikely knows much about spiritual matters. As well, as he thinks he’s intelligent (as he deems himself a good judge of her intelligence) and is adamant about his views, he is not open to other possibilities, lacks wisdom and not worth talking with.
The etymology of the word bullshit seems as messy as bullshit. Unlike what’s indicated in etymology sources, most likely bullshit stems from hunting trips in the western United States in the 19th century. Hunters trailed their game by following the trail of their feces. The hunters examined feces to determine how recently the animals were present and the type of animal they were trailing. A warm pile of bison shit might have made them think they were on the right track until they realized it was shit from the bull of a nearby farm. It’s not what it appears to be, it’s bullshit. I suppose that hunters going around in circles would soon come upon their own horses’ feces, horseshit (meaning nonsense).
The forgoing is my view of the etymology of bullshit, to which some might say: bullshit.
“When Fredrick Nietzsche declared “God is dead,” fuck became the most important word in the English language.”
There are not many words with the versatility of fuck. Besides the sexual meaning, there are also the following uses:
Ignorance: Fucked if I know.
Trouble: I guess I am fucked now!
Fraud: I got fucked at the used car lot.
Aggression: Fuck you!
Displeasure: What the fuck is going on here?
Difficulty: I can’t understand this fucking job.
Incompetence: He is a fuck-off.
Suspicion: What the fuck are you doing?
Enjoyment: I had a fucking good time.
Request: Get the fuck out of here.
Hostility: I’m going to knock your fucking head off.
Greeting: How the fuck are you?
Apathy: Who gives a fuck?
Innovation: Get a bigger fucking hammer.
Surprise: Fuck! You scared the shit out of me!
Anxiety: Today is really fucked.
There are 10 times as many stars than all the grains of sand on Earth’s deserts and beaches. A few hundred stars have been given proper names and thousands have a formal identity. Yet, not one grain of sand has been personalized.
A grain of sand is rarer than a star, yet surprisingly less noticeable. Maybe because we look up to the stars and look down on the sand; or maybe there’s not much at night beyond stars at which to gaze, while during the day there is much engaging our attention; or maybe we are attracted to the shiny, not to the dull; or maybe the mysteries of faraway stars stir our imagination but grains of sand are grains of sand.
“What has been shall be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.”
Nothing is new yet everything is ever-changing and unique which makes everything new. As everything is new, there is nothing new.
In the Bible, God creates man in his own image and hosts him in the Garden of Eden with plants and fruit trees for his sustenance. Among the fruit trees are the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and the Tree of Life. However, God forbids man to eat the fruit of these trees.
Man nonetheless eats the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. Upon realizing man has eaten the forbidden fruit, God declares that man is now “like one of us [gods], knowing Good and Evil.” God then banishes man from the Garden for fear man will eat the fruit of the Tree of Life which would grant man eternal life; thus, truly becoming one of the gods.
The Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil represents wisdom, the ability to see not solely from our individual perspective but through infinite perspectives as do the gods. We, the decedents of God’s creation, man, are born with the potential of unlimited wisdom.
As man was banished from the Garden of Eden before having eaten the fruit from the Tree of Life, man is not born to eternal life. However, there is a way to the Garden of Eden where man can find the Tree of Life, eat its fruit and live forever. It is the righteous way, the way of God: compassion. Compassion is treating others as we treat ourselves. We can only truly have compassion when we realize that we and all others are one. This realization allows us into the Garden of Eden which is everywhere. Here we can now enjoy the fruit of the Tree of Life and be one with the universe which is eternal. Now, created in the image of God and with wisdom and compassion, we are forever; one of the gods and one with God.
This is the purpose of life.
“The more you look the less you see.”
When we focus our mind in search of something, we might not see the obvious. A spotlight reveals great detail but a floodlight illuminates the room.
Every day is a life in a day, not a day in a life. Each night we die and are reincarnated in the morning.
Each morning we choose to assume the identities of the person we were last lifetime (yesterday) and embrace the stories we’ve made up of who we were in past lifetimes (days passed). The identities, an amalgam of role-playing and habits, feel familiar and safe. Others around us reinforce our self-perceptions. This is the foundation of karma.
Karma is the thoughts we associate with the intentions, actions and the consequences of our actions in our past lifetimes. Karma, living in the context of previous lives, has us living in a karmic prison. Karma frames our experiences in our reincarnated life. Our karmic prison precludes us from experiencing the present as it unfolds.
As life is otherwise overwhelming, our mind (which is a mnemonic device) categorizes our passed experiences and creates memories and related stories. Thus, we do not experience the present as it unfolds, we experience the categories into which our mind places present experiences. The categories, their meanings and the stories we ascribe to them are artificial and illusionary. However, we believe our stories are true and as such we make them real by experiencing the present in the context of our stories. Only when we are freed from our karmic prisons, we can experience the present.
Good karma, bad karma
Bad karma is living in a karmic prison of preconceived notions. Bad karma doesn’t allow us to experience the present as it is, unadulterated by reference to the past. Good karma is learning from our past successes and failures which helps us navigate our way in the now and what’s next.
Bad karma creates a road on which we travel forward. It feels safe, secure, comfortable. Good karma is a light that helps us see our way forward through an ever-changing landscape of undefined roads.
Bad karma leads us to living habitually, oblivious of the world about us. Good karma helps us navigate in a world in which everything is unique, engaging and has us feeling alive.
Bad karma has us feeling we understand what we’re doing. Good karma is knowing we know nothing.
Bad karma is intelligence, the ability to analyze and make sense of the past in evermore complicated ways. Good karma is wisdom, knowing that everything can be viewed from different perspectives.
Bad karma is why. Good karma is how.
Bad karma is when the past overshadows the present. Good karma is the light that helps us negotiate the present as it emerges from nothingness.
The popular view of bad karma is that when you treat others poorly you’ll get your just deserts sometime later. When that happens, people say: “karma sucks.” Likewise, good karma is the concept that when we do right by others good fortune will come our way. There is truth in these views.
Karma is living in the context of the stories our mind has created. These stories are like a storyline of a play. As the present unfolds, we view it in the context of the storyline and incorporate it into the storyline. There are several roles in the play. Our personal role is the central actor and to some extent the writer of the play. However, at times there are role-reversals and our role is that of other actors. When in our storyline we treat another actor abusively, we may find ourselves playing the role of the abused actor during role-reversal. This is retribution via bad karma. Likewise, good karma is when the storyline has us treating others well. Then, role-reversals work out well for us as, so to speak, “good things happen to good people.”
We have great liberty in creating our stories. Our storylines can bend to tragedy or comedy. As a tragedy we risk finding ourselves in role-reversals that are not those for which we would wish ourselves. As a comedy we are likely to be happy regardless of the role in which we find ourselves in the play. That’s the enlightened view; to view the past in comic relief and come what may.
Enlightenment is liberation from our karmic prison; liberation that reveals our karma was just an illusion.
Enlightenment is being one with the light. Light/energy is the essence of everything (E=M*C*C). When we realize we are one with the light, we are one with everything. As one with everything, there is no duality, no friction; just peace beyond our understanding.
The word “enlightenment” is the Western translation of the Buddhist term “bodhi.” The verbal root budh- means “to awaken,” and its literal meaning is closer to awakening. Presumably, prior to awakening, we are asleep. Asleep, we see the world through our mind, not our eyes. Our mind shows us a world based on the memories and stories our mind creates. Our eyes reveal the universe as it is.
Human beings are a transitional species, part animal and part divine consciousness. As animals, we are finite in space (our physical being) and time (birth to death). As divine, we are one with the light and its manifestations, the universe; infinite in space and time; eternal. This realization is enlightenment.
We are born as animal consciousness and as we develop we can access divine consciousness; sometimes for short moments, sometimes for much of the time. However, we cannot be fully liberated from animal consciousness as it is the cost being in bodily form; so we all toggle back and forth. As such, even those who are enlightened much of the time are still animals some of the time. As animals, they may act in ways we don’t associate with enlightened beings. They may get intoxicated, lie, cheat or be abusive to others. Such behavior has resulted in the shaming and dismissal from leadership roles of many presumably spiritual/enlightened masters.
That said, the faces or characteristics of enlightened beings are:
Gratitude. They are grateful for their circumstances, however dire, as they know that their circumstances could always be worse.
Optimism. They know that in time their circumstances will improve as the present will always be better than the past.
Forgiveness. They forgive all who have not done right by them as what’s past is past. They don’t seek retribution. They may however feel that whoever has not done right by them might not do right by them again and avoid that person.
Laughter. They find much of how others think and act as funny; funny as odd; funny as laughable. What’s funny is others taking their illusionary selves seriously.
Childlike. They are childlike as they experience the present as unique, unlike anything they experienced that’s now past;
Humility. They don’t perceive themselves as better than others regardless of their talents or whatever good fortune has brought their way.
Non-judgmental. They accept others as they are, not grading them, holding them up to certain standards.
Acceptance. They make the best of what comes their way without distractions of what could or should have been.
Empirical. They learn through observing.
Insightful. They have interesting insights into the nature of consciousness. The enlightened are enlightening. Those who are highly enlightened have the greatest insights.
Wisdom. As they identify with the infinite manifestations of the universe, they have many perspectives. The synthesis of perspectives is wisdom.
Compassion. As they don’t differentiate between themselves and others, they treat others as they wish to be treated.
Karmic liberation. Karma, the stories our mind has created about the past, frame our experience of the present. The enlightened experience the present free from the prison of the past.
Calmness. As they meditate regularly, they are calm and clear and have little internal conflicts in making choices. Moreover, as they identify as one with everything, their lives tend to be less volatile as the universe is less volatile than any of its finite manifestations.
Integrity. They do not have internal “self” conflicts where, for example, one self inside their mind tells them to have a cookie because they’ll enjoy it while another tells them not to because it’s not good for them.
Confidence. Clear in making choices, come what may.
Divine. As one with the light, the enlightened are one with God. They realize the true nature of the universe: the universe is one, a manifestation of God; it is what it is whatever it is; no beginning, no end; eternal. This is the ultimate purpose of enlightenment, to not suffer in life or death as everything is one forever.
I love everyone and feel everyone loves me. Though I realize some people can’t stand me, I know they’ll love me later. At this point I’ve got more love in my future than I do in the present as very few people can stand me for more than short periods. But when you love everyone and feel everyone loves you, everything is terrific.
“…I will say that if you’re alive, you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you got to jump around a lot, you got to make a lot of noise, because life is the very opposite of death. And therefore, as I see it, if you’re quiet, you’re not living. You’ve got to be noisy, or at least your thoughts should be noisy, colorful and lively.”
We feel alive when we’re lively.
“Look at life through the windshield, not the rear-view mirror.”
Dwelling on matters passed is distracting and tiresome which in turn limits our ability to make the best of whatever comes our way. With longer than a glance at the rear-view mirror, we are likely to get into an accident.
Each of us has a somewhat different perception of reality, i.e. the nature of something. Arguments can erupt between people having different perceptions. Logic and pervasiveness are tools we use to convince others that our perception is more correct and another wrong but those who win these arguments don’t necessarily have them most accurate perception. A better way to judge individual perceptions of reality is by their accuracy in forecasting how reality will unfold, as understanding the nature of something likely allows us the best guess of how it will be over time. Studies of “super forecasters” (people who are much better than most at forecasting upcoming events) have identified the following characteristics these people share:
Probabilistic thinking. Nothing is certain. There is no right answer, just likely outcomes. Ability to put mathematical weights to possible outcomes.
No righteousness. What happens isn’t preordained, isn’t necessarily a logical or moral outcome.
Metaphorical thinking. Able to see unrelated situations as shedding light on the subject at hand.
Curious. Engaged by thinking about how something works and driven to understand it.
Open-minded. Realizing that possible outcomes are only limited by one’s imagination.
Economic. Good at productively allocating time and resources to information gathering.
Detached/dispassionate. Able to view things from the outside in, without personal prejudices.
Wise. Able to view things from many perspectives.
Flexible. Openness to changing one’s point of view as conditions or one’s perception changes.
Humble. Knowing that one will never really understand something. Accepting that other forecasts are likely more accurate.
Integrity/confidence. Able to ultimately chose what one believes is the likely outcome.
While few people exhibit all of the above characteristics, those lacking many of them should be cautious in taking their perceptions of reality too seriously.
Those who know they know nothing are childlike. Those who think they know are childish.
When childlike, everything is new and unique, arousing our curiosity. Those who think they know have preconceived notions which often leads them to childish choices.
Words are flowing out
Like endless rain into a paper cup
They slither while they pass
They slip away across the universe
Pools of sorrow, waves of joy
Are drifting through my opened mind
Possessing and caressing me
Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Images of broken light
Which dance before me like a million eyes
They call me on and on across the universe
Thoughts meander like a restless wind inside a letter box
They tumble blindly as they make their way across the universe
Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Sounds of laughter, shades of life
Are ringing through my open ears
Inciting and inviting me
Limitless, undying love
Which shines around me like a million suns
It calls me on and on across the universe
Jai Guru Deva, Om
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Nothing’s gonna change my world
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
Jai Guru Deva
The Beatles, 1968
“Jai Guru Deva, Om” is a mantra-like refrain which in Sanskrit literally means “glory to the shining remover of darkness.”
However, the lyrics seem more reflective of a psychedelic journey than a meditation. Interesting is the refrain “Nothing’s gonna change my world.” Does that mean that my world will never change or that from nothing will come the light that will change my world (the shining remover of darkness)? The ambiguity of the refrain suggests that one’s person experience (“my world”) is as it is (eternal) and yet bizarrely changing with revelations when traveling across the universe.
“And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.”
When we don’t understand the thoughts or behaviors of others, we may think them irrational and dismiss them. Alternatively, they can arouse our curiosity which can lead us on a journey to extraordinary worlds.
Those living in noisy villages but who can hear music beyond their environs, dance to the beat of a different drummer. Are they happy? Yes, they’re dancing. Insane? Perhaps; but maybe those who think them insane are simply projecting their own insanity on others.
There are times we are overwhelmed by stress, pain, multitasking, internal strife (mixed feelings about choices we need to make), depression, anxiety, etc. Overwhelmed means drowning. Drowning leads to death as without freedom from that which overwhelms us, we are living in hell. Fortunately, there is a life vest to save us from hell: the meditation of death.
The meditation of death is setting our minds to imagine we will die in the next 5 minutes. With death imminent, everything transitions from like wallpaper that’s been up for years (flat and unnoticeable) to three dimensional objects of intense beauty. Ugly, unfashionable Formica kitchen counters become beautiful abstract art. As we are energized by the beauty of everything, a calmness settles inside us and we are free from that which was overwhelming.
As we continue with the meditation of death, we realize that death is a transition to becoming one with everything as we were before we were born. As one with everything, we view the universe from infinite perspectives (the essence of wisdom) and treat everything no differently than we treat ourselves (compassion). This is living in heaven, as before birth and after death. From the perspective of heaven, all that happens on Earth is absurdly funny. Thus, that which was once overwhelming now seems trivial, selfish and funny.
To avail ourselves of the life vest, the meditation of death, we need never forget it is always near. But as we tend to be forgetful when we’re overwhelmed, best to keep us from oblivion are short periodic prayers (meditations) several times a day wherein we are thankful for our circumstances as we acknowledge that there are many in the world who would love to be in our shoes (especially if they have no shoes).
The best medicine for stress or pain is laughing. We can’t be stressed out or in pain when we’re laughing as the two states of mind are mutually exclusive. What can be funny when we’re stressed out or in pain? We’re funny for taking ourselves seriously or having done something stupid which put us in a stressful situation or caused us pain.
Enlightenment is overrated except by those who are enlightened.
That’s the essence of enlightenment: non-judgmental, acceptance, humility and joy.
The enlightened are non-judgmental. To them, the world is flat, not vertical, as they don’t rate their enlightened state as higher than other states of mind.
They accept each state of mind as it is what it is whatever it is, to be appreciated as it can be appreciated.
They are humble and as such they don’t confirm the status bequeathed them by others who desire to be enlightened as they view everyone as enlightened, some more some less. Asked if they are enlightened, the enlightened would respond: I am who I am. That is, categories, descriptions and identities deny the uniqueness of everything; the enlightened know that everything is unique; hence, self-descriptions are not an enlightened view.
The enlightened don’t overrate enlightenment as they know the joy that springs from wisdom and compassion can never be overrated.
“[T]he years that you spend as a nobody are painful but golden, because no one bothers to lie to you. The moment you’re a somebody, you have your last truth. Everyone will try to spin you–as they should, with careers to think of.”
When we are unimportant, others reveal to us who we are in their mind. When we are important, others hide their mind and try to please us so that we will please them. They will no longer be a mirror for how we appear to them. Thus, it is a blessing to interact with those who don’t respect us as it reveals much about their nature and ours.
Life is a play, we are the actors and the gods are the audience. However the actors experience the play (comedy, tragedy or a bit of both) doesn’t matter to the gods as for them it’s all a farce. But where do the gods sit in the audience? In the front row are the gods that most clearly know the human mind and the deceptive costumes that clothe it. These gods have the greatest laugh. In the back are the gods that don’t completely get what’s going on. However, they are fortunate (or not) to be closest to the exit, wherever that might lead.
At birth, as newborns, we become finite and are no longer one with everything as we were in the womb. We cry while everyone else is deaf to our cries and joyously celebrating our birth. As we approach death, soon to become one with everything, we die without a cry while everyone about us cries.
Maybe newborns and the dying, whom everyone views as understanding little at their stage of life, truly know something to which the rest of us are oblivious.
Taste is a matter of taste. However, peoples’ tastes tend to be rudimentary, developed, super-sensitive or sophisticated.
Most of us, having a rudimentary sense of taste, can’t say more about a sensual experience than that we liked it or not and often don’t particularly take note of or remember the experience.
However, we can develop our taste by “mindful tasting;” having many undistracted sensual experiences (as in eating without talking, TV watching or reading) and articulating those experiences.
A small number of us are born with a super-sensitive nervous system which endow us with a highly-refined sense of taste that allows us to easily, with little previous experience, distinguish between sensual experiences.
Alternatively, some develop sophisticated tastes which is a mark of sophisticated people. Sophisticated people, as in sophistry, are primarily focused on appearing knowledgeable to others as having highly refined taste, but ultimately their sense of taste is rudimentary. Not focusing on their sensual experience, they don’t experience much of anything. They fool themselves as much as they fool others.
In a room, marble and wood have the same temperature, room temperature. However, unlike wood, marble is cold to the touch. This is an anomaly as it doesn’t comport with our expectations. (Marble feels colder because it’s a relatively good conductor of heat and as such it drains heat from our skin, making our skin feel cold.)
What makes the foregoing interesting is that while it’s common knowledge that marble feels colder than wood, very few of us are curious enough to find out why; probably because our curiosity is not aroused by anomalies, though maybe it should be.
Anomalies are funny. Funny as in odd as they don’t conform to expectations, preconceived notions. Preconceived notions are categories in our mind that organize past experiences. These categories have descriptions and associations. We experience not our experiences as they happen but the descriptions and associations we have with the experiences. Thus, also funny, as in laughingly funny, is when we realize we mistakenly placed an experience into a category into which it doesn’t belong. We laugh at our stupidity. If not, then we are truly stupid.
Anomalies nudge us to awaken from having mechanical/category based experiences. While everything is unique, not like or unlike anything else, we fail to experience its uniqueness when we mechanically classify our experiences. When our curiosity is aroused by the uniqueness of an anomaly, we seek to understand the anomaly and in doing so we start on a journey that makes us realize everything is unique; unless we ignore the anomalies.
We connect with those we perceive as suffering via pity, sympathy, empathy and compassion. Pity is a detached (intellectual) feeling one has for others who are suffering as one imagines themselves suffering if in similar circumstances. Sympathy is when one is emotionally moved by the suffering of others. Empathy is feeling the suffering of another, comforting them and sharing their pain which helps alleviate their pain. Compassion is helping others as we would want others to help us make the best of our circumstances and move forward to ultimately realize our potential.
Pity and sympathy are self-serving (feeling good about ourselves having these feelings) and require nothing of us. Empathy can also be self-serving and is often potentially harmful to the empath in terms of emotional stress and time consumption. However, unlike pity and sympathy, empathy provides real relief to those suffering. Compassion is relatively easy but requires the willingness of the sufferer to move forward.
Acute suffering is an immediate reaction to unfortunate circumstances that may come our way. Chronic suffering is selfish in that the chronic sufferer is oblivious to all for which they have to be grateful and their otherwise good fortune relative to others who are far less fortunate they are.
Empathy is what selfish sufferers want. Empaths are ultimately selfish as well. Compassion is an expression of happiness and the wisdom and love of God.
The mean is the average as in our average day. When things are going poorly (below the mean), best to be calm as they are likely to get better and regress back to the mean. In calmness we’re less distracted by our mind and more likely to make the most of what comes next; that will bring us back to or above the mean. We calm down when we remember that however difficult our current circumstances, they could be worse; so we have much for which to be grateful.
When our circumstances are much better than average, best to be anxious as the good times are unlikely to continue forever; at some point they’ll regress to the mean or lower. Low levels of anxiety allow us to imagine (and thereby see before they occur) negative events which often precipitate the regression; thus allowing us the chance to avoid or minimize the affect of those events.
“The greatest enemy of knowledge is not ignorance; it is the illusion of knowledge.”
When we think we know, our curiosity evaporates and we cease exploring to become truly knowledgeable.
“In times of change, learners inherit the earth, while the learned find themselves beautifully equipped to deal with a world that no longer exists.”
Those who view themselves as smart and/or educated often lack the flexibility of mind to adopt to changes. They will ultimately not survive as the only constant in life is change.
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” –Charles Darwin
The etymology of “eccentric” is a circle or orbit not having the Earth precisely at its center. Eccentric people are off center. As they don’t identify with any affinity groups, they are independent thinkers and view many consensus views as absurd. Moreover, many of their views of human nature are unique and insightful. Often they feel invisible as others rarely take their views seriously for fear they too would appear eccentric and thus shunned by their affinity group memberships. Eccentrics are like Cassandra in Greek mythology who was cursed with the ability to make true prophesies that no one believed.
According to Dr. David Weeks who has studied eccentrics, the characteristics of eccentrics, most of which apply to me, are:
An enduring and distinct feeling of being different from others.
Idealism, unrealistically hoping to improve the lot of others by having others think like them.
Happily obsessed with a number of long-lasting preoccupations.
Intelligent, in the upper 15% of the population.
Opinionated and outspoken.
Non-competitive, not needing tangible recognition of success.
Unusual eating habits and living arrangements.
Not particularly interested in the opinions of others.
Possessed of a mischievous sense of humor, charm, whimsy and wit.
More frequently an eldest child.
Having an eccentric family member.
Focused on thoughts, not feelings.
Feelings of invisibility as they feel others don’t take them seriously.
Feeling that others can take them only in small doses.
Dislike small talk or other inconsequential conversation.
A degree of social awkwardness.
More likely to be single, separated or divorced.
A poor speller in relationship to their intellectual capacity.
The key to health is reminding young. Most diseases are a function of old age. Smoking, drinking and cardiovascular problems are not much of a disease when we are young.
The basic keys to staying young are food, sleep, laughter, aerobic exercise and energy.
Only eat things that look as you’re eating them as they did when they were alive. Fruits, vegetables, small fish and birds look the same. Large fish, land animals don’t. Neither does bread or pasta as they don’t grow on trees. In other words, avoid eating refined foods and foods high up on the food chain which tend to accumulate toxic waste. Your body is built to eat naturally occurring foods, not man-made refined foods.
Moreover, be careful to not get into eating accidents. These accidents are caused by overeating and often make us overweight. These accidents happen when we’re not paying attention as we’re eating. For example, there is a 90% reduction in fatal collisions in roundabout traffic circles where stop signs or light signals were previously used for traffic control. That’s because when one approaches a stop sign or light signal one may be on their phone, talking or listening to the radio; but, when approaching a roundabout, one dispenses with multitasking distractions and concentrates on the road ahead. Focusing our attention lessens the chances of an accident. Likewise, when eating, best to focus on what we’re eating. Best not to watch TV, listen to music, talk with someone or read. If you’re hungry, eat as much as you wish but you’ll notice your stomach is rarely hungry after a few bites. If the food is delicious, each as much as you wish but you’ll find the law of diminishing returns results in each bite less pleasing then the bite before. Moreover, when you’ve got food in your mouth, close your eyes and enjoy the intense and subtle pleasure of the food, undistracted by your other senses. This is meditative eating.
Sleep a couple of times a day, a long sleep of several hours at night and one or two short naps during the day. Sleep is akin to dying of old age and awakening after is rebirth. Sleep allows us to recover from simply being worn out.
Laughing is the great elixir for pain and stress. As there is something funny about almost everything, one can find the funniness of a situation to relieve pain or stress. For example, I recently accidentally closed a car door on my finger; then immediately started laughing at how foolish I was not paying attention to closing the car door as I was talking at the moment to a friend. This otherwise painful experience was not painful.
That which is so to speak dead is inanimate, not moving. To be alive, move around vigorously as something that’s alive to the point of getting your heart rate up. No need to go anywhere or use any equipment as you can dance or (if constrained by time or space) engage in sex.
Energy keeps us alive and protects us from malevolent forces like illness. Some people or situations are energizing and some are energy draining. Best to think about what brings us energy and what takes it away and embrace the energizing and avoid the draining.