"Make of yourself a light,"
said the Buddha,
before he died.
I think of this every morning as the east begins to tear off its many clouds of darkness,
to send up the first signal - a white fan streaked with pink and violet, even green.
An old man, he lay down between two sala trees,
and he might have said anything,
knowing it was his final hour.
The light burns upward,
it thickens and settles over the fields.
Around him, the villagers gathered and stretched forward to listen.
Event before the sun itself hangs, dis-attached, in the blue air,
I am touched everywhere by its ocean of yellow waves.
No doubt he thought of everything that had happened in his difficult life.
And then I feel the sun itself as it blazes over the hills,
like a million flowers on fire -- clearly I'm not needed,
yet I feel myself turning into something of inexplicable value.
Slowly, beneath the branches,
he raised his head.
He looked into the faces of that frightened crowd.
From: House of Light by Mary Oliver
"Whenever a group of people start believing they are better than everyone else, the results are always the same." This is the first evil, which has many variations. One example is "I against my brother. I and my brother against my cousin. I, my brother, and my cousin against the world"; another example is any form of sectarianism such asa group'snationalisticor cultural ambitions.
The second evil, is a mis-perception (often socially imposed)that we need to become somebody else (e.g., Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, Elon Musk, and my handsome neighbor) except to be ourselves. This perhaps is the greatest obstacle that consciousness evolution is facing on this planet.
This is only of the many occasions when I was directed by my mind and the results were quite surprising. One day by the time I got off work, I was tired, beaten, and nearly depressed. Disregarding I had a meditation meeting to attend in the evening, my mind was telling me to just go home and chill out. It came up with many good reasons that I should not attend the meeting and they all sounded quite reasonable. But, in the end I put myself together and went to the meeting because it was an commitment that I made to myself earlier. I went to the meeting and the session was great. By the time when the meeting was over, I was in a completely different mindset, happy, content, and relaxed.
However, I also have other experiences when I listened to what my mind told me (to be precise, what my body told me) to do instead, and it went well too.
Wise words, "Keeping ourselves busy so we do not have to face life." Keeping myself busy is easy. Facing life is not only hard but scary. So if I choose busyness, which I do often, is because it is easy. It kicks the can down the street so I do not have to do hard work and confront my fear, until perhaps when I am too old to stay busy or I am so ill and have to face my death. Not sure what could be done or thought of at that moment, except regrets and prayers for another chance of life.
The world around me is doing everything it can, to push me staying busy and 'engaged'. Competition of all sorts, job security, peer pressure, 140 TV channels, Clash Of Clans, deteriorating backyard, emails, FaceBook,and Twitter, are only a few among the countless distractions. I am in such a rush to go somewhere, or nowhere. This is, what being existentially lazy means to me.
Life is an airplane, you either drive it or it is on autopilot. If you have not been driving, do not complain it did not take you to where you want to be. Also, when you drive, you live it; when you do not, you do not.
What a beautifully written piece, straight flowing out of an insightful heart. With the awareness and experience of wonder, 'self', the source of all our troubles, sufferings, separations, and illusions, fades into the background. In that moment, we are, I am, truly having a taste of what is meant to exist as a pure conciousness.
Walk with me
Break some bread with me
Enemy, why can't you live with me
Who are you
What did I do to you
Wish I know
Why can't I live with you
We are all born the same
Then we separate
Then the world falls apart
And blame turns to hate
We cannot contemplate
How far apart we are
There is always a way
To that place in your heart
Just put down your gun
Done is done
Why can't we live as one
Feel no shame
The air we breath is the same
Heal the pain
Why do we live in vain
"We must fight that humanity’s purpose was not just about sustenance and survival". Let's say all humans and all living things now all agree that sustenance / survival is not even a purpose of them, what change would that bring to us? Who will you be? How would you live your life? How would you be related to your environment, your friends, your family?
Why would you want to fight what is here and now? We are free (maybe) to choose a purpose for our live but we do not need to fight life itself, the very thing that everything else that we know is built on. May all beings be happy, and be peaceful.
The tricky part is to know who you are. who are you really? You are likely not who you think you are (there is too much illusion in there for the least). You are certainly not what others think you are (it is fairly easy to find evidence to support this). Nevertheless, these two sources pretty much are how we operate in daily life. If you do not really know who you are, to whom you would be alright with? :)
It is a true struggle for me to practice humility. On one hand, it is similar to what Vipassana meditation teaches me "see reality as it is", which pull to down to the ground and snap me out of illusions created by self. On the other hand, I realize that how I see reality has true impact on the reality (i.e., how it would manifest ). When I am successful in doing that, it leads to self confidence, and subsequently (and unfortunately) pride and illusion... until a failure takes place. Maybe, I "think" I understand humility, but in fact I do not... that is the struggle.
An intentional pause is the first step to get us out of almost any dreadful situation, to see the bigger picture, to realize what actually is happening, and more importantly, to communicate with our body and inner self. Because we do not naturally just pause, it often is helpful to set up some sort of reminder, such as setting up a recurring alarm or ask a good friend to check in with you from time to time.
I still remember clearly the summer of 2003 when I started the mediation practice the very first time in my life. The transformation in terms of my bodily and mental health, the shift of my perspective towards almost all things, and my personal and professional life, were enormous, for good and better. However, what one can say about meditation will have little meaning to people except the ones who have experienced these befits themselves. Similarly, one may describe all her can about the taste of an apple to someone who has never tasted one, and the meaning would never truly be delivered. So, all I can say is that what's being said in this article is true to me. Nothing more.
"You condemn only when you have a standard, which means there is accumulation and therefore improvement of the self". You condemn only when you refuse to accept, in this case, refuse to accept the state where you are at the moment. How much have I been improved after so many years of striving for self-improvement? Have I ever got rid of that constant agitation, fear, insecurity, ready to re-act, ready to please...? comparing to that fearless younger self whom I once was, I am not sure what the years of self-improvement has been serving me... lol
There is change, and there is stability. Yin and Yang. The both are true and neither is illusion. Since everything rises and passing away, change is inevitable and any effort to holding on (refuse to change) meets with misery and hopelessness. Since there is a stability and repetition of events in the constant flow of changes, cognition/recognition and consciousness are possible, and meaning and order are possible - life is possible. I have many, many identities, similar to I have many clothes, shoes etc. But I is not Identities, unless you intentionally and unintentionally treat them as the same. I offers stability and my identities change ... lol
A surprising perspective. Although I think it goes a bit too extreme to the other side of the swing, there is a lot of truth in it. Right and wrong is our own construct, which is why 'the world is divided by the people who believe they are right." In one way, the world is perfectly fine as it runs its own course, until someone comes trying to fix it. In the other way however, life has its own course as well, and doing all these rights and wrongs is certainly part of the natural course of the universe, suffering included. I suffer, and I accept that I suffer.
Frankly speaking, I have no idea what time is. If the existence of time is a fact, then it was there long before the inventions of clocks and calendars, and the earth going around the sun, then we probably are getting it all wrong today with the internal/external time stuff. If the existence of time is not a fact but a human psychological construct, then perhaps one way of dealing with it is not dealing with it at all, because of its non- factual- existence. I am wondering Is it possible to live a life without time?
Deal Charles, this is not about that starving teenager in Somalia, or about the mutilated woman. This is not about you, or about me. So, one cannot say "it happened FOR you" because it is not about "you." However, if one realizes what this "you" truly refers to, then it all makes sense - it is about that starving teenager in Somalia, and about the mutilated woman. It is about you, and about me. Yes, it happened for you too.
"If I engage into actively propagate a set of lovely ideas, which, by definition, are non-facts."
Ideas turn into reality, or facts, all the time. Look around we would see a good percentage of our reality were merely ideas before. Some of these ideas turned into tangible facts such as the Golden Gate Bridge (it was an engineer's dream for years), and some turned into less tangible (or intangible) facts such as many of the social changes occurring around us but they are equally real.
"Will that transform my experience of life?" Yes.
Neverthless there are ideas that perhaps would never turn into 'facts' of any sort. But, as long as they are part of your experience, they are transforming you, with, or without your realization.
Not too long ago read about a seemingly very serious social scientist claims that "the real reason that a man and a woman would get married is because that is the most economic way to satisfy one's sexual desire". It made me want to laugh and weep at the same time... Thank you Bhaerman.
This is one of the most insightful writings I have ever read.
You throw some atoms together in a way, call it a 'car', and drive it to a city in far distance. You throw the some atoms together in another way, call it a 'rocket', and shoot it to the moon. Perhaps later on you notice the same set of atoms, forming a thing called 'rabbit', hopping into the woods...
What a shocking truth! I have to agree that "By far - one of the most compelling, lively and lucid thought-of-the-week pieces I've read." Thanks, Nipun
"I want people to die at 90 instead of dying at 20 and being buried at 90." Thanks, Darshni.
This is a very special stage of my life: I watch my days pass, and hardly any question arises...except this one "where did all my questions go?" I am grateful, Viral.
I like Conrad's article very much. Many thanks to Conrad.
Life was, is, and will be full of uncertainty and unpredictability regardless how one may struggle – you cannot change that. Then it is clear that ‘hopelessness’ can be a way to overcome the inevitability of fear and insecurity.