Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Balance Between Being Content yet Aspiring Towards Evolution

How do we aspire for a better life without getting caught up in tomorrow?  How can we remain content with life as it is, but still seek to change a situation?

 
As a race of people capable of complex discernment I think it is a natural tendency for us to aspire towards something "better."  If you were a Native American you sustained your existence through fishing, hunting, and agriculture.  You were interested in developing ways of doing these activities that enabled you to harvest these resources with greater ease and success.  This drive within us that wants a better life is what enables us to evolve.  Yet today, where life options are practically limitless, we can become overwhelmed as to how we wish too see our life unfold.

I do not think you need to be dissatisfied with a life situation in order to see it evolve.  Actually, I feel it shows a sense of passion and vigor for life to have the desire to see your life and the life around you evolve.  I use the word evolve because I feel the word describes directed change.  To evolve denotes that change is something that progressively transcends what was before.

Yet, all to often we get caught up in what we want to see evolve in our lives that we lose our grip on being fully present.  Being content with "what is" takes a degree of present moment awareness that is not by our thoughts that want a different reality to exist.

It's about being aware of your desires and observing your attachment to them.  You cannot be content if you "need" change.  It means to have a vision without your emotions being contingent upon the results.  It takes a concentrated awareness to be grateful that life is presenting you with an opportunity to create and to experience who you are.

It seems that finding emotional balance in our modern thought driven world takes a sort of awareness that has us constantly grateful for life and the experiences it brings yet knowing that our visions and aspirations are not in vain, but rather they represent our efforts as conscious human beings to create a "better" world as we desire it.  Yet it also means surrendering to the fact that we are not controlling our lives to the fullest degree.  And in doing so we need to let go of expectations so that even if our aspirations do not manifest we still maintain a sense of gratitude for what is.

There always seems to be some sort of compromise in life.  This job may be more enjoyable, but it pays less or there is another partner "out there" that you may find more sexually attractive but you feel that another is better for you because they nourish your spirit.  The hypotheticals are endless...but compromise teaches us that we share this world, and our lives, with others.  It's about surrendering to the idea that we always don't know what is best or what we should strive towards.  It's about having faith that each new experience is something that is helping you become the person you are destined to be...even if it is a destiny that never would have imagined for yourself.

So keep striving for "better" as you see it.  For that is what the world needs now more than ever. Strive for a life that enriches the relationship you have with yourself and with others... And attempt to have faith that all is in its right place even if you think it's not.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Seeing Oneself as the Nothing That We Are

Without stillness we are lost.  Maybe not completely, but when the mind consumes us we repeat the same few mantras over and over.  We become consumed with mind activity, and thus we lose sight of all that is within and going on around us.  When I am still I find myself.  In that moment I am "found" because I realize there is nothing to figure out, nothing to know, and nothing to be other than myself.  The moment I try and become something I am no longer true to myself.  The moment I try to understand I move away from understanding.  There is no trying... there is only doing, being and living.

Contemplation is important.  I see it as the middle ground between stillness and mental activity.  With conscious awareness it can become an activity that has us hone in on our repetitive thoughts.  We can then choose if these thoughts serve us or not.  Yet do not be fooled by contemplation.  The moment we identify with new thoughts they become the relative thoughts of tomorrow and thus we get back into the same rut of incessant mental activity.

Often times we compare our lives to others in order to see who we are and who we want to become.  Yet, this only keeps us tied to the dominate thought paradigm that surrounds us.  We then become unable, not to be unique, but rather to be ourselves.  We are all beyond definition.  Every person is more than their title in life.  There is no one person more important or less important than another, unless we declare it as so.  And in our modern world we so often use judgement and comparison to figure out who we are so that we may, for some brief moment, feel a sense of worth.  Yet the irony is that when we seek self worth by comparing ourselves to others we loose sight of who we really are.  We paint the picture of who we are...instead of seeing ourselves for who we really are.

You are more than what you think you are.  You are infinitely nothing.  And to see yourself as undefinable is what brings you in touch with your true self.  True being that you are a phenomena of life.  Your experiences are your true worth from which to draw meaning and true power.


Friday, July 18, 2014

The Mission of Understanding

What a miracle this is.  All of this.  We yearn to discover yet we cannot totally understand the origin of our species, or more grandly speaking, the origin of our universe.  The breath taking feats of science and technology have been able to break open the door to understanding who we are.  We can now look out into the cosmos and understand how small our world is and how life does existence on other planets and distant moons (even if it is not "intelligent" life).  But the mission of understanding life is seemingly endless.  And I fear that our engrained ways of thinking and dogmatic systems of thought have thwarted us from fully absorbing the knowledge that science has put forth.  I humbly admit I forget too often incorporate these truths into my world view.

What a miracle it is that we can type onto a keypad and send protons of electricity into a system that interprets these signals into legible thoughts.  At it's core technology enhances our ability to communicate, not only to each other, but to life itself.  Technology and scientific philosophy enhance our ability to "control" the course of life in a way in which we desire.

Just a short time ago none of this was possible.  Just one million years ago our Earth harbored no intelligent life (or so we believe).  The oceans were colonized by single cell organisms while the lands where barren dessert.  And here we are now, so tiny, yet which actions that collectively effect the entire planet.  Instead of letting our egos take charge by pretending it knows what reality is, why don't we humble our selves and realize how ignorant we all are?  Ignorance is inherently human, yet we deny this and in doing so we suppress some of our greatest abilities.  By not seeing what we do or who we are we never allow ourselves to go beyond the known and grow into something we may actually become.  This relates both to our inner life and our outer life.

The patterns we all replay.  The stories we tell each other will continue to go on.  The things that we accept as reality will stay as "factual" reality.  But only when we admit to ourselves that we really do not know much at all, maybe then will life again become endlessly interesting.  Maybe then will be accelerate our growth, both intrapersonally (in context to oneself) and interpersonally (in context to society.


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Perched on a Hill: Observing the Isolation and Unity Between us All

After walking around beautiful prospect park on this sunny winter day I perch myself upon a hill over
looking southern Brooklyn.  I ponder... 

When I witness everyone around me I see how separated our lives are.  We live in our own worlds, with our own feelings, our own ideals, and our own perceptions.  Typically, this individual experience consumes us, yet we yearn for relationship and meaningful experience.  I feel we yearn so that we push ourselves to seek experiences that make us feel whole again.  But what is it to feel "whole?"

To me, the ultimate dichotomy of life, is to feel as if we are living separate lives, yet at the same time we have experiences that make us feel united with everyone and everything.  I feel that this dichotomy shows us something profoundly true, however ethereal.

I sense that there is an energetic chain that connects us all, even if it is just our mental projections.  And in the same way that we are both separate and connected so to does the dichotomy exist that life is both physical and meta-physical.  Yet it is the space between these dichotomies that we can't quite grasp.  Thus, doubt is born.

And so as I overlook southern Brooklyn, I realize I will not stand here forever.  My body is immortal.  And I wonder...what will become of "me?"  What becomes of all of my memories?  Do they accumulate in the reservoir of life's infinite energy...the aspect of life I have faith in?  Or do these memories of mine disintegrate into non-existence? 

I have faith that all of our experiences are not in vain, but rather they are part of something so much larger than the sum of us all...  It is a faith that whispers to me to not fear death... because it tells me that life is endless and unbreakable.  It is a subtle voice that tells me that life only changes form.  And where does this faith come from? I feel it comes from witnessing the profound strength we exemplify to overcome the obstacles that leave us feeling isolated.  It comes from witnessing how strong nature is to maintain a constant homeostasis.  It comes from witnessing how perfect the unfolding of life can be even when disaster strikes.

The yearning we feel to be connected is proof to me that the bonds we feel between each other are more than physical.  There is a void to be filled, however illusory, that proves to me that life is more than what we see.  It eludes to me that both you and I are more than our separate bodies.  And upon reveling in this feeling life becomes profoundly exciting. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

I Can't Have it All

http://ladolcevitra.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/san-francisco-and-new-yrok.jpgSometimes I really miss those sunny Californian days, the cool breeze off the San Francisco bay, the golden hills, and the smell of lavender after a winter rain.  Yet, despite how good it was sometimes there I also felt at other times very dull.  Being a native New Yorker you become accustomed to a deep sense of cultural diversity and immense change all the time.  I am not writing this to justify my move back to New York City.  Believe me, there are days here in New York City that I feel more tense than alive and more angry than joyous.  When you live in a place where millions of people are literally living on top of each other, with all of their differences and unique ways in which they are inconsiderate, you can become over taken with a sense of unyielding anxiety.

In New York City you feel even more intensely how you have no control as to what is going on around you.  There is no place to run and "hide."  Every park is loud.  Even my bedroom is filled with the loud sounds of automobiles and clanking metal.  I realize that the only salvation is found within {and this is true where ever you are}.  Yet, sometimes this frustrates me {and also inspires me} because I realize I have so much maturing to undergo.  Yet, this is the beauty of New York City.  For the reward of living here, if we let it, is a heightened sense of internal control {as well as having access to to world}.  On the flip side though, its peril is less control, anger, and a feeling of helplessness.

All those living in New York City say that they that they both love and hate it here.  It's an intense place that breeds intense people.  And although this may be the thing that has us frustrated with each other, this is also the same thing that makes is very interested in each other.

With every choice in life there is a consequence.  I left the relaxed and beautiful environment of California for the intensely interesting and tense environment of New York City.  I realize that I can't have everything I want in one place or situation.  None of us can.  I realize that my constant striving to "have it all" only leaves me unsatisfied.  Chasing the illusion of the "perfect life" is like chasing the dangling carrot in front of our faces that is and always will be out of reach.  No amount of money or power changes this.

It seems that there will always be a fire burning within all of us that wants more or something different.  Yet chasing the dangling carrot has exhausted me.  And now I attempt to no longer chase the perfect life, but instead to work at making it beautiful with what is going on, right here, and right now.

Life is bittersweet I suppose.  Even when we feel knocked down we are still left with a choice.  We can either be grateful or resentful.  Even in our darkest moments there is a feeling within us that knows what is best for ourselves.  I believe that this is the gift of life.  I believe, that this is where the essence of God lay within us.  So that no matter what, no matter where we are or what we are doing we may feel that we are living a life on purpose and in control...even if just that purpose and sense of control is only found within us through our feelings...

Friday, October 25, 2013

A Beautiful Evening

Sometimes life is just beyond my ability to understand it through thinking.  Essentially, life is always more than what I think it is or perceive it to be, but only sometimes do I remember this.  When I humbly admit this to myself I feel a sense of beauty that has no way in which I know how to describe.

As I let go of the attachment of needing to know I move into a state of curiosity.  For in these precious moments even the mundane aspects of life seem profound.  The aspects of life that I come into contact with daily seem to come alive.  The inanimate aspects of life, the steel buildings, the stop sighs, the wind, the moon, and the streets seem to be more than what they actually are.

http://arts.cultural-china.com/chinaWH/upload/8-4(3).jpg
Although I cannot put this all together and tell myself what this all means...I can say with confidence that all seems to be alive and interconnected in some way beyond measure.  All of life seems to belong to something so amazing...  I ask myself, "is this what it feels like to feel God?"  Even if this is just a quick glimpse into her beauty I am sure made more alive.  Tonight I become reinvigorated to connect with life in deeper and more humbling ways.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Towards a More Responsible Spirituality


To not recognize the darkest aspects of our way of life disables us from being the greatness that we are. To claim we are wise and spiritual without acknowledging the darkest aspects of who we are is superficial. This does not mean we should dwell in the darkness. Rather it’s a call to the conscious to bravely witness the aspects of society that are destructive and inhumane.  In modern America we have conversations about spirituality yet all the while we ignore the suffering everywhere around us. This is not only superficial, but it actually diminishes the execution of our inherent spiritual power.
It’s the “11th hour” and as I write this 200 species go extinct daily on our planet. That is 10,000 times more than the natural extinction rate. If we do not acknowledge this and act now we lose any future hope of co-inhabiting this planet.
Last week I had the privilege to see Marianne Williamson speak at an event at UC Berkeley. It was a symposium about changing the world through introspection and social action. I admit, I went into the event skeptical. I had been very frustrated with the field of “spirituality” for quite some time now. I’ve seen spirituality influence people to see the light of love without pushing them to go deeply into the darkness of, what Marianne calls, our “shadow side.” Going deeply into the shadow side does not mean that we focus on self-pity and guilt, but, rather that we acknowledge how things really are, have compassion for the world and for ourselves, and do something about it.
It is this compassion that we need to hone in on and develop if we are going be truly “spiritual.” Dealing with our “shadow side” means taking responsibility. Developing compassion may not come easy.  It may have us on our knees in profound sadness when we actually see the shape of the world as it is. True spirituality has us, facing, not ignoring the desperation of a homeless person begging, the dangerous geo-engineering of our atmosphere, or the inherent brutality of our industrial way of life. True spirituality has us feel all of this deeply, even if hurts.
Ken Wilber states that “the more awakened we become the more we realize both the perfection of Saṃsāra, [the infinite and unalterable aspect of divinity within us and all things,] and the pain of our relative world.”  To me, this is the essence of an evolved spirituality, for we do not lose ourselves completely in the recognition of ultimate reality, but, we maintain a sensitivity to everything and we seek to undue the injustice and suffering of our world. It would mean that to see someone starving brings you compassionate pain, yet, all the while maintaining that this person whom is suffering is as divine and eternal as you are. It is a type of awakening that acknowledges the suffering of others as your own suffering.

Over 10 years ago there was a study done in East Africa assessing depression in chimpanzees. To sum it up, they found that on average, 10% of the chimpanzees in the wild showed signs of depression. These “depressed” chimps stationed themselves on the perimeter of their troop and seemed very socially disengaged, hyper-vigilant, and didn’t sleep well. The study had anthropologists remove the depressed chimps.  And what happened after was staggering. A year later after the removal the entire troop had died.  It was hypothesized that the depressed chimps were an “early warning system” for the troop. The “depressed” chimps where the ones who sounded alarms for the troop to warn them of situations of peril and decay. So without a warning system, without the most sensitive ones among them, the troop had succumbed to the dangers of their environment.

Humans are very similar to chimpanzees in this regard, yet, we deal with those most sensitive among us by ignoring them, prescribing them drugs that suppress their emotions, and by viewing them as “diseased,” “irrational,” or “weak.” Depression is endemic to modern culture and has been drastically rising. Eight times more young adults meet the criteria for major depression and anxiety disorders than they did only 50 years ago. The depressed are the most sensitive among us.  If we fail to see depression as a warning sign that our way of life is not working, then we are repressing our own emotions and giving self-destruction a chance to prevail.
 
All too often we distract ourselves from feeling the darkness because we feel helpless to be able to do anything.  Yet, I have faith in all of us that we are not damned to a destructive future because I sense a growing concern.  Yet we must acknowledge that our way of life must be drastically changed.  We must acknowledge the slavery of people both psychologically and economically.  We must become alive to the fact that we are the creators of this life.  We must take responsibility for our lives and realize that the act of love is power. 

 
Marianne Williamson reminds us that, “our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.” My interpretation of her powerful words is that we are frightened to “be” this light, because, in order to do so, we must stand up to the darkness in our lives while being compassionately aware of everything. Within our light is where our responsibility exists. We fear this because we fear to be the people we actually need to become to restore peace and harmony on this planet.  It would mean that we would have to change our way of life and take a step into the unknown.

I feel we must all make a deep promise from the bottom of our souls to heed this call. We cannot turn away from this. Spirituality is becoming aware of the darkness around us and within us, then taking responsibility to turn that darkness into the light of love, so that we may live up to our highest calling.
Are we afraid to be who we are?  Are we afraid to break free from this way of life and to create something different… to create a world that exists of light, love, compassion, and unity?

The reality is that we are all in some way co-dependent on each other, and therefore, our existence intrinsically depends on cooperation. Ignoring this fact maintains our fear and greed motivated existence, yet fully acknowledging this truth will have us compassionately feeling the pain of the world and of others. In this feeling we will be forced to stand up to the darkness within us, as well as within our society.  If we do not heed this call we will not be capable of fulfilling our great destiny.

It is the 11th hour. It is now or never…  Let us be brave, let us be vocal, let us wake up, and let us end the corruption and greed within us and the world for the sake of justice, peace, and love.

I have faith that we can overcome the greatest challenges that face humanity today, because, I feel an arising compassion in all of your hearts. We must move into an era where repression is no longer possible. This is the era of acknowledging the great responsibility inherent to our spiritual awakening.