Category Archives: Life

Life

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New Year 2014

I usually like to write about an event while it is actually happening. This year I just didn’t have the enthusiasm to write for Christmas and am a little bit delayed for the New Year. So today, I’m forcing myself to get my thoughts down.

This New Year’s Eve we did not go to any special parties, dinners or anything like that. So I thought it would be a good idea to get a picture of the last sunset of 2013 and the first sunrise of 2014. For the sunset, I got on my bike and rode up the mountain which takes about an hour. Up there on that mountain I reflected on why we make such a fuss over the change of years. After all it is just a way for us to keep track of one more revolution around the sun.

I took a look at the Facebook posts and is was very clear that everyone was excited and in great spirits. Then I made a connection.

As I stood up there on the mountain overlooking the ocean I realized that the New Year and those that gaze out over the sea have much in common. The New Year represents possibilities, the unknown, a change for the better! So too does the ocean. Looking out over the vast sea towards the horizon the portal through which one could change their lives entirely if they only gain the courage to set foot on the boat or airplane and go!

The New Year gives us a reason, an excuse to wipe the slate clean and start again. But just as those who stare out over the ocean and wonder must step on the boat or plane to turn their fantasy into reality, so too must the NYE reveler act to bring about change in their life. They must open those doors to possibilities instead of passively waiting for their hopes to come to them.

Looking over a beautiful scene like this I had no regrets about not attending a New Year’s Eve party. This experience was much more meaningful and did not give me a hangover the next day.

As I look back on 2013 I am most grateful for my experiences and the fact that I’ve recorded most of those experiences. What is life if not just an accumulation of our experiences? Experiences shape us, make us who we are. Everyday we wake up and experience life. Making morning coffee, reading the news, learning about the Roman empire, living overseas, these are all experiences. In fact from the moment we are conceived until the moment we die is all just an accumulation of experiences combining to form one big life experience.

Therefore, I really cannot see how anything could be higher in terms of importance than trying to have a good life experience and helping others do the same. Everything we do, every goal we set is in the hopes of having some sort of experience.

Now, for 2013, I had plenty of wonderful experiences and I find it very valuable to try and record these experiences. The important thing is to know when to put the camera down and really soak in the moment, taking it all in and making it part of who I am. But I also like to relive these moments and thus take plenty of pictures and video. Having the picture above helps me remember how beautiful that moment was although it was quite cold! To be all alone on that mountain in the cold as the sun has set and darkness advances is a truly wonderful experience.

The next morning I awoke at 5:00am and went to the Bay in order to catch the sunrise. Just as 2014 is the beginning of the New Year full of all its possibilities, the sunrise is the beginning of a new day full of possibilities and excitement.

People often make resolutions and how imagine how things will be different in the new year but this could also be done with each and every sunrise. Each single day is going to contribute to how the year 2014 turns out so wouldn’t it be an excellent idea to wake early and appreciate all the possibilities and opportunities that this nascent day could bring?

Consciousness and Emotional Intelligence

Once again, it has been a very long time without a post.  It is not that ideas have ceased to run through my head but rather, I feel that blogging has become more of a chore than something I really want to do.

Actually, that is not the case.  I think I have a complex in knowing that people will read it thus I must be careful with the words and ideas that are typed out onto this screen.  It would be much easier if I could just let the ideas flow and my fingers press the buttons.  Then I think too much and decide not to post.

Luckily, a perfect moment has arrived where I’m alone and I simply do not feel like doing anything else but writing.  I do not want to read, nor watch Netflix, nor play any games and I surely don’t want to venture onto any social networks.  I just want to venture into that familiar trance where the rest of the world slips away and I’m alone with my thoughts.

And speaking of thoughts, one of the main ideas that has been racing through my head is this idea of Consciousness.  I have come to the conclusion that we are not fully consciousness   It is like being only half awake or like walking in a fog.  How did I come to realize this?

I’ve found that there are short flickering moments where I look around and really appreciate the beauty of the world around me.  For a brief instant I understand the true value of friendships and the wonderful feelings that connecting with others truly brings.  It is as though I am in contact with the true essence of consciousness, of life, of mind and of all that surrounds me.

Perhaps, living in this beautiful town by the coast I experience these moments a bit more often than most.  Or perhaps, I have simply inundated my brain with so much wine, tea and then exercise that it has short circuited somewhere and thus redirects my focus to the joys of being alive a bit more than usual.

I believe we all have these moments and with a bit of practice such as with meditation can have them with more frequency.  It seems to me that this increased “consciousness” would be a major step forward in human evolution.

As I look around at the world today I do not see this.  I see people walking around in a fog.    They go about their daily routines as though they are programmed.  People live in a closed environment, and this environment is closed by their own choosing whether they realize it or not.  For all this talk of “going social” on the internet I find that most people are not inherently social at all.  If you simply say hello to a stranger these days it would seem more of a shock than a nice pleasantry deserving of a response.

Or perhaps I am more acutely aware of this because I am in the sales profession.  It is my job to connect with people and I’ve become very good at it.  I know how to say the right words, give the right facial expression and how to adjust to different personalities.  I can easily draw people out of their shell and get them to interact.

I think it is possible to develop one’s mind to a higher level of consciousness.  One exercise in which I do not have much experience is meditation and is something I’m very curious about.  I’ve found that I cannot rest my mind for more than 8 seconds before it wanders off onto some common topic or daily activity.  I actually tried to think of nothing many times today only to find myself thinking about certain things the day was going to bring.

And speaking of wandering I believe this post has done just that.  A higher level of consciousness happens when someone dies.  For a few hours or maybe even a few days we really appreciate our loved ones and recognize their value.  But sure enough, these feelings slowly melt away as we return to the daily monotony.

Standing on a mountain with a beautiful view and to realize that we are just organic, self aware beings living on a rock that is flying through space in a universe of perhaps infinite size is a grand thought indeed.  I wonder why we cannot hold onto these thoughts and use them to really appreciate being alive?  How is it that religion has distilled the magnificent into repetitive drudgery and simple fairy tale stories that 95% of the population easily accepts?

Yes, most of us are asleep and I feel that in this moment of time only a select few can make that leap forward.  They are those that can “think freely” and release themselves from all the mental programming they received in their early years.  To truly be a free thinker is a difficult and uncommon thing indeed!

In regards to emotional intelligence I’ve recently realized that most people are not good at this at all!  Perhaps I am being too harsh as it seems to be a skill and thus would take practice.  Being a sales person I have plenty of practice at this as I must do it daily.  But I do believe it is something I’ve always been relatively good at by the simple fact that I like people and I care about others.  Maybe I am just selfish in that by making others feel good I myself feel very good.

Briefly glancing at the definition I can confirm that put simply, Emotional Intelligence is simply being able to recognize the other persons emotions even if they show no obvious outward signs.  Or perhaps I am deluding myself as it is a combination of minute signals that betray the feelings inside.  In any case, I am glad I can read them.

Now for something I cannot understand.  The idea of murder, of killing, no matter the circumstances (war, freedom, whatever you want to call it) is so repulsive and horrible to me that I do not like to read about it, do not like to see it in the movies and sure as shit do not support it no matter what the government says.

Yet, I find that a very high percentage of my countrymen are readily willing to accept murder of others so long as the reason given is plausible.  The only conditions are that they take place far away and to people they have no connection to.

I think that if someone walked into their living room and shot the visiting neighbor in the head (even if they were a bona fide terrorist) than their willingness to accept murder might drastically change.

Yet, when it is far away and for “freedom” then all of a sudden everyone is for more missile strikes.

And this my friends is the reason I do not believe that most people have enough “consciousness” and almost no emotional intelligence.  They walk in a trance, willing to believe almost anything.  Even if that “thing” is the opposite of what the mainstream are believing.  It is as though people need to join others in their opinions and beliefs.  If people were to truly think freely then would it not follow there would be an almost limitless amount of opinions and beliefs in the world?

But no, we have liberal vs. conservative.  Catholic vs Protestant, vs Buddhist vs. Muslim.  And you know what?  My opinion and belief is the correct one while yours is wrong.  Yes, with all the education and seemingly endless list of colleges most of the arguments come down to our own belief being right.  And we KNOW it is right because it was what was taught to us.

How mundane, boring and completely stupid.  Consciousness?  We only receive flickers from time to time.  Emotional Intelligence?  It has been dashed against the rock of cable tv and a couple of generations that only understand two words.   I and me.

 

Importance of an Open Mind

I’m sitting here this morning listening to music called “Ancient Temples” by the artist High Priestess. It is just peaceful music of the fantasy genre and I found it to be a suitable selection for the morning.  I discovered it just the other day through last.fm when I followed a chain of suggestions stemming from The Hobbit soundtrack.

As I drink my tea (high grade from Chinatown) and listen to this soothing music it occurred to me that I really like fantasy and the magical. I like to try and imagine the world from a child’s point of view and how wonderful a world it can be when you use your imagination.

 

Or, for those who take life a bit more seriously, we could frame this is a Zen, universe, theoretical physics sort of way and say we are just opening ourselves up to possibilities! 

I think adults often forget that. The simple magic of being alive and discovery is either completely lost or severely dimmed.  As for me, I cannot say exactly when or where my mindset changed but for the past couple of years I have really enjoyed discovery, trying new things and simply enjoying the world around me.

Perhaps I am taking a cue from my little boy who is interested in EVERYTHING!  I try to imitate his wonder and suddenly realize that I do not know very much about ants, plants, rocks and so on.  He becomes very excited when he finds a new type of bug and it dawns on me that I do not even know what the bug is called!

I’m not sure if I can describe the feeling or these vivid, wonderful thoughts I have when I tell myself to start paying attention and see everything with fresh eyes.  What I can say is that life becomes wonderful, it becomes magical!  Just by changing my mindset I now open myself up to ever expanding possibilities.

To bring this down to earth a little I can tell you that through this love of discovery I suddenly had the urge to buy a mountain bike last week.  Now I find myself getting a LOT of exercise and am really enjoying being able to cover a larger range.  I think it also may help quite a bit that I live in a beautiful place called “Pacifica” where there is plenty to explore.

Now how many adults no longer feel the need to explore?  It is not that you need to travel long distances or live in beautiful places to explore (although it helps.)  As I mentioned above I can explore my own backyard with my little boy as I’m quite certain there are many more bugs out there to be discovered.

It has also just occurred to me that perhaps technology has really encouraged this type of thinking for me.  Perhaps it is not just faerie music and extremely caffeinated tea after all.  My Iphone is a magical device which connects me to all of human knowledge.  Therefore, when I find that strange bug or weird looking plant I can look it up and know what it is!

Yes, yes, that is the magic brew!

1.  Keeping the curiosity of a child
2.  Seeing the world with new eyes
3.  Being able to actually tap into all of human knowledge to really understand what you are  observing!
4. AND faerie music does not hurt.   :)

Believe it or not, this was not my original conclusion or what my main point started out to be.  Sometimes I go in completely different directions and it is a rarity that my posts retain any sort of cohesion.

My original thought was about the perceptions people would have if say, I wrote my profile on a dating site or something like that.

1.  Listens to fantasy music
2. Drinks tea
3.  Likes to explore his own backyard
4.  Previously played too much Warcraft
5. Attends the Renaissance Festival every year.
6. Favorite Book:  Don Quixote
7.  Favorite Movie: The Lord of the Rings

How many responses do you think I would get and what conclusions would people draw about me?

Now I ask myself the same question.  What conclusions would I draw if I were to read a female’s profile of the same type?

(Luckily I don’t need to do this anymore as I’m married and my wife likes to attend the Renaissance Faires with me.  My little boy does too but actually he likes everything.)

I guess in conclusion, keeping an open mind is something everyone says is a positive thing to do but in actuality is quite difficult.  By limiting ourselves to our own biases and set opinions we are limiting the experiences we could have, we are limiting the possibilities!

It would be akin to looking at a menu in a restaurant and that you will only look at the plates with beef.  Not just beef but only beef that comes with sauce.  Not only that, but the price must be above $20.

Terrible metaphor I know but I believe it accurately describes how we go about living our lives.  There is so much to experience (and re-experience) but the main impediment isn’t money and it isn’t time.  It is ourselves.

The means to attain a happy life

I ran across this epigram the other day.  I found a lot of wisdom in these words. 

MARTIAL, the things that do attain
The happy life be these, I find:—
The richesse left, not got with pain;
The fruitful ground, the quiet mind;
The equal friend; no grudge, no strife;
No charge of rule, nor governance;
Without disease, the healthful life;
The household of continuance;
The mean diet, no delicate fare;
True wisdom join’d with simpleness;
The night dischargèd of all care,
Where wine the wit may not oppress.
The faithful wife, without debate;
Such sleeps as may beguile the night:
Contented with thine own estate
Ne wish for death, ne fear his might.

From Wikipedia

Marcus Valerius Martialis (known in English as Martial) (March 1, between 38 and 41 AD – between 102 and 104 AD), was a Latinpoet from Hispania (the Iberian Peninsula) best known for his twelve books of Epigrams, published in Rome between AD 86 and 103, during the reigns of the emperors DomitianNerva and Trajan. In these short, witty poems he cheerfully satirises city life and the scandalous activities of his acquaintances, and romanticises his provincial upbringing. He wrote a total of 1,561, of which 1,235 are inelegiac couplets. He is considered to be the creator of the modern epigram.

The Decision to Have a Child

Today in the news I caught a headline about a certain celebrity couple that is ready to “start pumping out kids.”  

This got me thinking about how much thought people in general really give to have children and their reasons for doing so.  

Now, when we discuss this with others and think about it ourselves it is usually in a happy positive context.  As I’m of the age where many of my acquaintances have had children I am afforded a glimpse into their lives and a small share into the joys, hardships, trials and successes of bringing up kids.  

However, as any reader of this blog knows, we tend to be very good at understanding the other side and bringing forth questions that are usually not discussed, let alone even thought about.  

Therefore, my question in this post is the following.

Exactly how much thought do future parents give in regards to the life experience of the child? 

As I read what I just wrote above, it seems like a very strange question.  I’ve got it all worked out in my head so let me see if I can transfer it into words.  

I suppose it would be best to state that I believe in an afterlife and thus a before-life.  I may not have stated this clearly in any previous post and it may seem a strange position for me as I am always attacking organized religion.  I also do not feel like spelling out how I came to this conclusion but the fact remains that I do believe we are part of something grand, something inexplicable to our tiny brains.  I do believe we are made up of some kind of energy that will move along after the body expires.  

So what is my idea of this?  I do not buy into any of the simple stories that many believe such as a heaven or hell and there are “Pearly Gates” waiting for us.  

My question is, after we have passed on, do we even have any control?  Do we just hurtle about in a kind of void with different planes of existence sucking us into them like a black hole over and over again?  Or can we pick and chose the type of temporary existence we would like?  

Regardless of control or not we have all ended up in this plane of existence and I wonder if we were able to catch a glimpse or even design how our life experience is going to be before we are born.  My idea is that we are looking across the vastness of space, time and reality and we have either chosen to enter our existence to perhaps gain certain experience (both good and bad).  I do not know if there is a specific reason or not or perhaps we might just be some bored eternal looking for something to do for a blink of an eye (80 years or so).

If we are able to choose our specific existence then great!  But what if being born is like being sucked into this existence like a black hole and we have to take what we get?  

Now, when future parents start talking about “pumping out kids,” exactly how much thought have they given to the actual life experience the kid is going to have?  

Does this eternal even wish to be born?  

Again, kind of a crazy question here that merits further explanation.  

What I believe parents do not consider is they are bringing a conscious being into the world that will experience pain, hurt, disappointment and eventually death as well as all the joyful periods.  

This brings me to the reasons for bringing a conscious being into the world.  I’ve got the feeling that for many, the reasons are entirely selfish.  I know this will be an incredibly unpopular thing to say but since when have I been concerned about that?  :) 

For many, the reason to bring a child into the world is to feel a sense of accomplishment, to feel that they are doing something worthwhile with their lives.  For many, life goes along a similar path.  They are told to attend school, find a job, get married and then have kids.  It is simply the next thing to do.  

I think many need something to take care of, to love.  To look at it this way this is completely selfish.  So again, how many have considered “Hey, this kid is going to feel pain as well as joy, life is going to be hard!”  

Perhaps it is just something that as mammals, we are programmed to do?  You see an attractive mate, go through the customary societal rituals (or not) and produce a living being since our biological urges instruct us to do as such.  

If I were to imagine myself as a pre-born looking down at the world and trying to decide if I even wanted to be born I think this would be a difficult decision.  Let’s see how this thought stream would go.  This could be upsetting for some but it is reality.  

Well, the act of entering that world is going to be unpleasant.  I’m going to be nice and warm for about 9 months and there could be a chance that my body parts will be ripped apart and sucked out before I even enter the actual world.  That would NOT be pleasant.  

Suppose my parents do want me, I’m not killed and I do make it the entire 9 months without anything going wrong these people in white coats will take me out and I’ll suddenly be very cold.  They’ll start wiping me down, I’ll cry up a storm and then get so tired from yelling to much that I fall asleep.  

I’ll then wake up, have no idea what the hell is going on, scream, be comforted and then repeat this process about 10,000 times.  I’ll start to develop according to the laws of that plane of existence and being to move about.  I’ll have no coordination at first and bump my head about 500 times as I gain motor skills.  At this time I’ll experience pain over and over again.  

Even though there will be pain I imagine it will be exciting to play with my toys of which I have no idea what they are, but for some reason banging them on the floor or even together makes me happy and I’ll laugh.  I’ll also enjoy when mom holds me in her little pouch and comforts me.  Well, I hope this happens since it all depends on getting a good mommy or not.  I do have to consider that should I get terrible parents this life thing could not be much fun at all!  What are the odds here?  Am I a betting person?  

Should I survive infancy I’ll most likely have to go to school unless I’m born in sub-saharan Africa or a place like it.  I won’t like having to leave home and the school experience will most likely be very stressful.  I’ll then have to compete with all the other beings who have joined that world in order to get a job.  I’ll have to struggle to make money and then perhaps, just perhaps, I’ll repeat this process for another immortal as I follow in the same steps as my parents and invite a being to get down into this world and have an experience.  

Yes, there will be great times and many pleasurable experiences but gee,,, life is going to be hard.  

Further, let’s take a look at my fellow immortal, we’ll call him Frank, over there pondering the same thing as I.  Will I be taught to hate Frank as he probably won’t be born into the same tribe as I and I’ll be taught different things.  Maybe our nations will go to war and I’ll be the one to end Frank’s existence in that world with a bullet?  Maybe Frank could even end up being my brother?  Do I even want Frank for a brother?  He always has been a wily one.  I imagine that whatever happens in that life that after it is all said and done and we are returned to the void that we’ll be able to get together and discuss what happened just as those humans would after a successful or unsuccessful camping trip.  

Now, when I read about “pumping out kids,” I wonder if anyone else has ever considered this life from the pre-born’s point of view!  

As for me personally, I have so far invited one being to join this world.  And I have considered all of the above.  I realize there will be many painful moments but I’m pretty certain I can provide an environment that will be very pleasurable for this immortal, or temporarily mortal guest while they inhabit this short existence.  I have asked myself the question, “Am I doing this for myself or am I doing it to provide a good experience for this consciousness I’m inviting here.”   

My thought is that I will be a hospitable host and when we meet up in the void after our individual life experiences he will say to me, “That was a great ride, thank you for the experience.”  

That is all.  

 

Life Explained

A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took him to catch them.

“Not very long,” answered the Mexican.

“But then, why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.

The Mexican explained that his small catch was sufficient to meet his needs and those of his family.

The American asked, “But what do you do with the rest of your time?”

“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evenings, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar, and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”

The American interrupted, “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”

“And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“With the extra money the larger boat will bring, you can buy a second one and a third one and so on until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants and maybe even open your own plant. You can then leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York City! From there you can direct your huge new enterprise.”

“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.

“Twenty, perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.

“And after that?”

“Afterwards? Well my friend, that’s when it gets really interesting,” answered the American, laughing. “When your business gets really big, you can start buying and selling stocks and make millions!”

“Millions? Really? And after that?” asked the Mexican.

“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a tiny village near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take a siesta with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”

And the moral of this story is: ……… Know where you’re going in life… you may already be there.

 

–  Original Source:  Unknown

- I always loved this story.  It would seem that the purpose of life (in America especially) is to make money.  America is ‘hyper-capitaliste,’ as a French politician once said.  If we spent all of our time chasing money, most of us would probably be very old before the supposed happiness arrives, if it arrives at all.

Anyway, it is a great story.

Penance, Happiness, Language and Poison Oak

It has recently occurred to me that in order to achieve happiness, the opposite is first required.

How can we know happiness when we have never experienced pain or sorrow? As I look around, I see people with a very high standard of living, which the Kings of the past could only have dreamed. I see people who should be happy or even content, slogging through life continually reaching for that elusive state of joy.

Perhaps we have reached the apex of diminishing returns in that we have acquired so much yet the more we acquire the amount of happiness that accompanies it seems to continually recede?

Perhaps the secret is not to continually strive to acquire more, to continually consume, but instead seek the opposite for a short while?

This thought occurred to me the past week as I am currently suffering from a torment that only the devil could have conceived.

I have gotten ahead of myself. Let me return to the events that have lead up to this discovery.

Recently, I have acquired a bit of land which needed some care. Part of this land is actually a forest which was overrun by untended nature. My desire was to trim it back quite a bit and make it a beautiful place in which to take walks, plant vegetables and herbs and learn about the wildlife which call it home.

So, last weekend I set about clearing a relatively small patch which was covered in various plant life and dead underbrush. My goal was to terrace part of the hillside in which I could plant pumpkins and a variety of herbs. I cleared away the dead vegetation, pulled out planks and construction debris which I found buried and with these materials was able to make the land presentable.

After the work was done and a thorough shower, I sat down on my couch and found a relaxation that I had not encountered in a very long time. This was not unlike the feeling after a good workout at the gym but as I had used each and every muscle for the past five hours, the amount of satisfaction and peacefulness was intensified.

It then occurred to me that perhaps what I was experiencing is one of the lessons the Puritans and other religious folk were trying to express by their steadfastness for hard work. For them, work was a way to praise God not only as a way to account for their sins but also become more in tune with their creator.

Perhaps as a side benefit, the feeling one receives after a hard days work, real manual work, is one of complete tranquility and peace. This is exactly what I was experiencing.

For too long, I had languished in the city, with every modern convenience at my disposal I had not done any hard labor for a very long time. Yet, even though life was very easy, I had not felt as good as I felt after five hours clearing brush.

As I was pondering the lives of the Puritans I also recalled an interesting linguistic fact. That is the word Penitentiary comes from the word penance. For those in their society who had done wrong, they were required to spend some time in a penitentiary to commit penance. That is to say, take a time out and reflect on what they had done. Take the distraction of the world away from them and let them reflect.

Further, a bit of hard work was required which could have been to help them experience the euphoria of peacefulness after the work was done and perhaps be more in-tune with God?

Now, as those times are long gone, we still maintain the tradition of the ‘penitentiary’ but the hard work has been taken out. In fact, the hard work (manual) labor has been taken out of the lives of even those not in the penitentiary. As I had languished in the city I found myself less happy than I should have been which no amount of new purchases or night time divertissements could restore.

So, I had found a bit of happiness, but I did not realize what lesson was in store for me.

 

Two days later I found my arms and legs completely covered in poison oak. The itching, the constant oozing which stuck to my clothes put me in complete agony.  I couldn’t sleep because of the itching, then when I did sleep I found my clothes stuck to my body which required another shower at around 1:00am.

I put the caladryl on it but then the ooze would mix and it would run down a bit further creating a new infection.

There I was, in the middle of the night trying to employ mind tricks to simply get through the torment.

I then realized that all I wanted in the world was for this affliction to go away and I would be in ecstasy.

Now being the middle of the night with silence and darkness all around, one tends to have different thoughts.  I realized that should I survive this horrible period I will be extremely happy to simply not have poison oak.  I do not have to buy anything or seek out any temporary pleasure.  I will be happy to simply not have this horrible malady anymore.

Imagine, all I have to do is remind myself that I no longer have to wipe any ooze, nor bear the awful constant itching and I will be grateful!

Perhaps this is a lesson, perhaps I was pre-determined to suffer a relatively minor (yet awful) marathon of agony to remind myself that we should appreciate simply being alive a bit more.  We should take a minute to be thankful that we are alive, can have experiences and appreciate this beautiful home we call Earth.

I would imagine those with worse conditions such as cancer are in tune with this way of thinking.  It is not uncommon for those that have come out survivors to be able to appreciate life quite a bit more than those who have never experienced the fear of life being taken away from them.

Thankfully, my case of poison oak is no where near cancer but it did serve as a reminder that I will be thankful to have a healthy body once again.  However, being human we are soon to forget and slip back into a mode of complacency where our minds continually tell us we should be happier and in doing so never gets us there.

Maybe I should plant a sprig of the oak in my office as a reminder?  I think not, perhaps a picture of it would be safer.

Now, on to language as promised by the title.  After I found both my arms sleeved in oozing blisters, I hopped on Google to get some answers.

I found that the ‘poison’ in poison oak is an oil called “urushiol.”  Then, being the language enthusiast I am, I realized that it sounded an awful lot like a Japanese word.  If I translate back from Japanese it would sound like this “Urushioru.”

So, I was curious to see if there was a Kanji character (the Japanese/Chinese symbol) associated with it.

Unfortunately, the word was the exact same spelled in Katakana.

Urushioru = ウルシオール

If you don’t know Japanese let me give you a quick explanation of how their writing works.  They have four ‘alphabets’ which are not really alphabets but is how they put sounds down on paper.

1. Katakana – This is for foreign words which are an approximation of how the foreign word sounds to Japanese ears.  They are simply trying to say the word as it sounds to them.  The above word “Urushiol” is in Katakana

2. Hiragana – This is the “alphabet” for Japanese origin words

3. Romaji – You can also write words with the Latin (just like English…with a few variations) alphabet.  However, you call it Romaji because it is the “Romanized Alphabet.  Ro-ma-ji (ローマ字)

4.  Kanji – 漢字.  This is the Chinese symbols the Japanese imported.

Combine all four and you get Japanese.  And look at that, as I looked up Kanji, Google offered a concise definition of all four.

“|漢字 are the Chinese characters that are used in the modern Japanese logographic writing system along with hiragana (ひらがな, 平仮名), katakana (カタカナ, 片仮名), Indo Arabic numerals, and the occasional use of the Latin alphabet (known as the Romanization of Japanese, or “Rōmaji”). …”

So, for ‘Urushiol’ which is pronounced in English as you-ROO-shee-ol becomes oo-ru-shi-aw-ru (trying to spell it as an English speaker would understand it and you write it in Katakana.

But, my investigation didn’t stop there.  I was certain that this was a Japanese word, which somewhere along the line became an English word which the Japanese then adopted as a foreign word.

So, I just took the first part “urushi” which was definitely Japanese and found my Kanji character.

漆 = Urushi

Then I dissected the Kanji into it’s parts so I could derive the ancient meaning of the word.

1.  On the left is the Radical for water.  I cannot write it here because the computer won’t let me write just a radical.

2. 木 = Tree.  This is on the top right hand portion

3.  人 = Person.  This is in the middle of the right hand side

4.  水 – Water.  This is the regular Kanji for water.

So basically, tree water gets on a man.  This must be the ancient meaning.  However, it is not obvious for the beginner because if we look up this Kanji (漆) it means: lacquer, varnish, or seven in Japanese.  But if we examine more closely it is also used with other Kanji to mean lacquer poisoning.

But what is lacquer?

Lacquer – a black resinous substance obtained from certain trees and used as a natural varnish.

Therefore, I have found something very interesting regarding the Japanese language, Kanji and English.

The beginning of the word is “urushi” which has a Kanji character associated with it which in its original meaning is “tree water” but is only currently used for lacquer.  Isn’t it a coincidence that the word “urushiol” in Japanese ウルシオール has the exact same pronunciation as the Kanji for lacquer?

It could be just a coincidence or perhaps I have discovered a linguistic fun fact.

In closing, I mentioned that my case of poison oak could be a pre-ordained lesson to teach me the meaning of happiness.  Or perhaps the universe wanted to teach me a language lesson?

Or it could be that I’m just a doofus who should have known better than to go play in the woods without knowing what poison oak was.

Life is a grand mystery.

Graveyards and The Meaning of Life

I wish to share with you a story.  Actually, I’m not sure if it is a story or not but rather an idea.  This idea I had while visiting an abandoned graveyard not far outside Killarney, Ireland.

I. The Graveyards

I decided to rent a bicycle and travel outside the town.  I had gone not more than 3 miles and saw that the city disappears rather quickly and was replaced by those beautiful green fields that Ireland is known for.  Not far from the town I came upon a very old, overgrown graveyard and decided that I should stop and read the inscriptions on the gravestones.

The tombstones were well worn and many could not be read.  Some had completely fallen over and were cracked.  I really wish I had taken a picture and if I had I’m not sure where it is.  But the picture to the left properly represents my thoughts about this particular place.  The difference is, there were many gravestones, close together, all of them weather stained and the grass had grown to where it would grow no more having reached their full height.  I read the inscriptions and found something similar to the following:

1.  Where you are now, I once stood.
– This is actually a famous (now forgotten) inscription on William Caldwell’s Grave who was a revolutionary war veteran.  It reads:

“Remember me as you pass by/As you are now so once was I/As I am now so you must be/Prepare for death and follow me.”

2. In memory of our beloved (Insert Name)

3. Here lies (name), good father, loving husband.

After reading the first inscription “Where you are now, I once stood,” had a profound impact on me . The second inscription also let me know that this person had a family, was once loved and did love.  Yet, the grave stone had fallen over and the grass was untended.  What occurred to me was that this person had a place in this world but over time was soon forgotten by his/her descendants.

This lead me to recall the famous poem “In Flanders Fields.”  Please watch this and listen to the words.

I read these inscriptions carefully and wondered to myself why had the graveyard been so severely overgrown?  Was there no one there to tend it?  They must have lived nearby and been part of a community.  Perhaps their community was small  and disappeared completely or was swallowed as Killarney expanded?  I wondered to myself where their descendants might have gone.  Did they even remember that their ancestors were buried here?  How could an entire graveyard be forgotten about?  Did it have something to do with the potato famine and mass migration to other countries?

Whoever these people were, they most likely had been entirely forgotten about.

Simply writing the sentence above puts me in a very reflective frame of mind.  These people belonged to communities, had families, accomplished, did all the normal things we all do.  But now, they are long forgotten, time continues and the memory of these people being further washed away with each  passing summer storm.

This sentiment is captured in the Irish Ballad “Danny Boy” which has different interpretations.  One is that a man’s son “Danny Boy,” goes off to war, or, he is part of the Irish disapora.  Should he eventually return he might find the father has passed away and the father is asking him if that is the case, please say a prayer and remember him.  Yet, life goes on and it is simply true that some will be forgotten as those who rest below me most likely had.  In this case, “Danny Boy” did not come back.  It was a very moving experience.

This lead me to thinking about my own life.  Does it really matter what I accomplish or what I do?  Will I even be remembered after a few generations?

The people lying in the ground below most likely had children, and their children probably had children.  They spawned others, many of which will have no idea where they now lie.  These people had feelings, drank at the pub like you and I, were sent to battle and eventually died as we all will.  Yet, their graves remained in front of me, untended and broken.

The picture you see to the right is at a famous tourist attraction and would have been the nobility of society.  Therefore, they are well tended. Yet, it is no surprise that most of the graves would be un-attended if they even had graves at all.

So, I spent a while in that graveyard, carefully examining the inscriptions and letting my mind be swept away with images of these long departed people, wondering about their lives, breathing in the fresh country air and letting this peaceful, quiet countryside carry my thoughts away.

I then got back on the bike and took a detour into a national park which I love to visit every time I find myself back in Ireland.  I take the same path every time not only because I know it to be a beautiful path but also to bring back old memories of my previous trips.  The first time I visited this place I was on a tour of Europe during a break from studying in Spain.  So it is not only the memories of Ireland I’m bringing back, but my first experience living in Europe which carries vivid, almost magical thoughts of a time in my own life gone by.

Again, I started to think about how quickly life passes and when I come upon this ruined monastery  with the graveyard out front it puts me to thinking about the impermanence of everything.  Will people remember who we are, what we did?  Does it even really matter?

This question resurfaced with vigor when I visited Karl Marx’s grave in Highgate Cemetery in London.

As most of us are aware, the ideas of Karl Marx changed a very large part of the world and the lives of millions of people.  His inscription reads:

“The philosophers have only interpreted the world in various ways—the point however is to change it”

Change the world he certainly did and I had expected this place to be busy with tourists.

There was not a single soul in the entire cemetery and this place is as spooky as a graveyard could possibly be.  There are many gravestones, fallen over and partially buried in the mud, some coffin parts sticking out of the ground having been pushed up by tree roots, and weathered stone angels peer menacingly down at you as if they too might fall over at any time.

 

 

It was exactly like the graveyard in the movie “Interview with the Vampire” and I half expected the eyes of the stone angels to start following me.

 

 

 

 

 

As for Karl Marx, I was amazed that as important and influential as this man was, there was absolutely nobody there.  If we look at the impact a man has on the world, there can be few who reach the heights of Karl Marx.  His ideas spread throughout the world but even he will eventually be forgotten and one day his grave will tip over and crumble as well.

It is a very sobering thought that we all will eventually be forgotten.  I had thought for a minute that perhaps the internet could change all this and perhaps even this post will live forever.  But, the net is a vastly expanding monster full of websites.  Servers fry, accounts become deleted and even if some things do remain it is only the ideas such as Karl Marx with the details and memories of the actual author quickly dying away.

Even memories of great men such as kings and conquerors do not live forever.  How many Kings of England can we name, let alone what they did?  Can we even say what our very own great-great grandfather did or even remember his name?  They are all swept away with the passage of time or pushed away into some obscure reference that nobody has read in centuries.

II.  The Meaning of Life

After my experiences with these broken down graveyards I began to think about the meaning of life.  Here in the USA in school and work we are pushed to continually achieve, “move forward” if you will.  We become wrapped up in our individual worlds and the minutia of daily life.  But how often do we reflect on the mark we will leave in the world and if we are working towards our ultimate purpose?  What is the meaning of our lives?

As I have a lot of experience dealing with business people some might believe that the purpose is to make money, to acquire goods.  I look at executives of major companies which sell trinkets, soda water, fatty foods and wonder if this is something they would put on their gravestones?  Is their work what they would like to be remembered for?

Other industries I really admire.  Those that work for peace, heal the sick, explore space and really add something to humanity.  These things have real meaning unlike the selling of soda water or simply trying to make more money off fellow human beings.

After thinking about this for a long while, the only real conclusion I come to concerning the meaning of life is simply taking care of fellow human beings.  Working for peace, helping those in need and simply living a good life.  As long as we are working for the greater good then I think a good life has been lived even though society tells us differently.

As morbid as it may sound, spending time in a graveyard is a great way to really remember what is important in life.  Suddenly, trifles such as wearing fashionable clothing, acquiring more than the neighbors or even being  a King suddenly seem not very important.  Grave inscriptions that read “Helped others,” or “loving father,” seem so much more important than “was the CEO of a fast food chain.”  In fact, I cannot recall ever seeing such an inscription.

Why is it that in death, we suddenly recall what is most important in life?

No matter what you do for a living, how much money you make, none of it matters in the end.  If you are kind to others, appreciate being alive and strive to live a good life then it can be said you lived a wonderful life.

Mind Control

The title is to grab your attention.

Most of you are probably thinking that I’m referring to controlling other people’s minds á là Jedi Powers right?  But no, this post is going to be about controlling your own mind.

At first, this might seem like an exotic, esoteric idea but put in the proper perspective it is quite common which I’ll demonstrate.  We’ll get to the exotic later.  :-)

The common is often referred to as simply “thinking positively,” “having a good attitude,” and so on.   In sports, you have to believe that you are going to win or you probably will not.  Put in these terms one might not think of them as “mind control,” but that is exactly what is happening.

We are conditioning our minds to “believe” in a positive outcome and overtime conditioning our own minds to think in a certain way.  On the opposite end of the spectrum “negative” people might always complain and the more they do complain the more negative thoughts they have until the negativity has pretty much taken over the majority of the thoughts.

Moving further into mind control it takes a cognizant effort to change one’s own thoughts.  We have to stop, identify the thoughts we are thinking and ask ourselves, “Why am I thinking this?”  Can I change it?  The fact is that you can.

I’ve found that the majority of people let outside influences control them and their thoughts than the other way around.  It is as if they have relinquished control of their own minds and let random events and external interactions determine which thoughts they are going to have.  The question is, why would we want to let this happen and would it not be better to project our own thought process and “mind” on the world?

I’ve put one foot in the esoteric here but to quickly come back to the common, I’ll give a few examples of how I consciously changed my own thought process.

 

 

 

I. Two Examples

1. Stress while driving

When I first arrived in San Francisco after living for five years in Asia I was quite relaxed and easy going.  I took a job and in the beginning had many ride alongs with my boss.  I found that his tension levels rose tremendously when driving and he became very angry at other drivers since the traffic can be quite chaotic here in San Francisco.

At that time I told myself that I would not become like that as there was no point in becoming angry over something I could not control.  Yet, after just one year of driving here, I found myself doing the exact same thing.  If a driver made one small mistake I found that I immediately became angry and would lay on the horn.

Then, I realized what I was doing and told myself to not let myself become angry anymore.  I was giving power to these external forces and letting them determine my own thought process.  I trained myself to control my own thoughts and now I never lay on the horn and never become angry when driving.

People step out in front of me when they are not supposed to and sometimes drivers cut me off.  Yet, it no longer affects me in any way.  This is all because I now control how I am going to think instead of letting external forces control my own mind.  All it took was a simple decision to do so.

2.  Foreign Countries

It is no secret that when living abroad some people will have a wonderful time, others will have a terrible time and still others will be somewhere in between.

When people ask me if country x is fun or country y is a good place to live I find it difficult to give a short answer.  The fact is there will be a range of experiences some good, some bad but it is up to the mentality of the individual which will determine if they enjoy it or not.

Living in a foreign country for the first time is an intense experience.  The normal path usually followed goes like this:

a.  Honeymoon phase
– Everything is new and exciting.  This is a very enjoyable time

b.  Crash
– People become depressed and are overwhelmed by the new culture.  They often have thoughts of returning home

c.  Rebound
– They bounce back from the crash, have more in-depth experiences with the culture and begin to enjoy it again.

This cycle can repeat itself many times.  But we have to ask ourselves, is it the culture that changed or is the way we think about it?  The fact is, it is our own mind cycling through these phases.  It is true that external experiences will play a big role, but if one thinks in a positive manner then enjoyable experiences will “manifest” themselves more and more.

Now, I’ve stuck my entire leg into the “esoteric”  but am not ready to dive in.  Let me give a simple example of how I made a conscious decision to control my thoughts in Japan.

One aspect that can bother some expatriates is that they are constantly an object of curiosity.  You look different, and ARE different from the general population.  This invites a lot of stares.  One of acquaintances in Japan complained to me about constantly being stared at when he got off the train.  The platform is very long and sometimes I refer to it as a “catwalk.”  You step off and have quite a long way to walk alongside the stopped train to the stairs leading the way out.  As you are walking by the train, many of the passengers will stare at you as you walk by.

For my acquaintance this was very bothersome.  However, for me I enjoyed it quite a bit due to my way of thinking.  I understood that most of the people were simply curious and I should be happy for all the attention.  So, that is exactly what I decided to do.  I decided that I would enjoy all these eyes staring at me and from that point on it was an enjoyable experience.

If we think about this, both my acquaintance and I are in the exact same situation, in the exact same train station in the exact same country.  But one of us is enjoying the experience and one is not.

Some may attribute this to “personality,” but I ask, what is personality?  Is it something we can consciously change?  It may be difficult to change an entire personality without a lot of practice but in it’s essence isn’t “personality” simply a state a continual state of mind?

Some foreigners will thrive very well in a foreign country where others will crash and burn.  Would it not be beneficial for those that are having an unpleasant experience to try and keep a positive state of mind?  Again, there are some external factors that will come into play and it takes a lot of practice to change one’s mind but is it not possible to do so?

II.  What World Do You Live In?

In the previous example I used living abroad as it is a complete change from what we are used to and our mindset is going to play a tremendous role.  Now, let’s come back to our domestic countries and ask the same question.

I live in San Francisco which is a large city full of many inhabitants.  Many love the city and have a wonderful time.  Others would prefer to live somewhere else and are full of complaints.  In both cases, the individuals are experiencing the exact same city and have the freedom to explore, gain new experiences and enjoy themselves if they wish.

It is without argument that there are many diversions with which one can entertain themselves so it is not a question of being a “boring” city.  Some live in less desirable neighborhoods while others live in better.  It can also be said that those living in the “less desirable” areas can be quite happy and take advantage of all there is to offer.  While those that live in “better” areas can be quite miserable.

The truth is, it makes no difference where you live or what things you have in order to make one happy.  It is simply a state of mind.  As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, a majority of people will let life determine how they are going to think and what their mindset is going to be.  Again, my question is why would we let these external forces control us?  Why would we not want to make a conscious decision to be happy and enjoy life no matter what the circumstances?

This was proven to me when I visited a very poor village in Vietnam and then a high powered law office here in San Francisco.  It was quite obvious that the poor villagers smiled more often and were more friendly than the high powered lawyers who rarely smile and seem unhappy.

One would think that it would be logical that the poor villagers would be unhappy as they have very few prospects to “advance” while the high powered lawyers have the world at their fingertips.  Yet, the reverse was true.  We could get into all the varying reasons as to why this is with one perhaps being the poor villagers, when comparing themselves to others, simply do not know that they do not have very much.  Perhaps they have less stress?  It may be a variety of reasons but the important thing to realize it is simply a state of mind.

If the lawyers are chasing money which they believe will make them happy but never seem to reach the goal of actually being happy, then why would they continue?  This brings to mind a story I once heard about the MBA graduate and a fisherman.  It goes something like this.

There once was a poor fisherman who enjoyed life in his village and everyday would catch his fish.  One day an MBA graduate came to him and said, “Why do you waste your time fishing for only you and your family’s needs?”   “I have an idea where you could hire others to fish for you, and then you could supply the entire village!”  “After that has been accomplished, you could travel to wall street, sell your business to the highest bidder and make millions!”

The fisherman asked “And what could I do after I have made my millions?”

The MBA replied “Then you could come retire in your village and go fishing.”

Now, I understand the logic here is very simplistic and that the fisherman would be protected should the fish run out.  However, we also have to ask ourselves if the new corporation would fish so much that there would be no more fish and then the village left devastated.  Kind of feels like what is happening today with what the major corporations are doing doesn’t it?

The moral of all this is going to have a twist, which is everyone, the MBA, the fisherman, the lawyers and the poor villagers can all be happy.  It does not matter what their individual circumstances are, they all have the ability to make a conscious choice to be happy if they wish.  It is simply a state of mind.

So, we have to ask ourselves what world do we live in?  Are we a poor villager, a high powered lawyer, or in one of the other millions of professions?  Does it even matter?  What world have we constructed for ourselves and how do we choose to perceive this world?

Coming back to San Francisco, I think of the city in a certain way.  For some, they will say San Francisco is “x,” but for others, San Francisco is most definitely “y.”  I realize I have a certain mentality about San Francisco but I consciously try to break this mentality from time to time and form a new one.  To help with this, I like to travel to different places, read up on the history and discover new things.  I use external stimulus to break my former mindset and then make a conscious decision to enjoy these new experiences which contribute to a whole new mentality about how I will think of San Francisco.

III.  Material Things

One trap that I find many people fall into is the belief that material objects will bring happiness.  Happiness is simply a state of mind and one can simply choose to be happy.  Yet, with the purchase of material things we often discover that the happiness is temporary.  Thus we become addicted to accumulating more things in order to bring back the temporary joy.

Would it not be beneficial to look at what we already have and tell ourselves that we have decided to be happy with what we have already?  If a trinket brought joy at one time and then faded, why can we not simply choose to bring back that happiness with a conscious decision?  Once we have accomplished that, we could ask ourselves if it is not possible to be happy with no trinket at all?

This has been discussed as of recent as we are going through the “Great Recession.”  There have been many articles, one of which is called “But Will It Make You Happy,” which was in the New York Times.

If you do not have time to read the article, I’ll tell you the answer.  No trinket will bring you happiness, it is simply a state of mind that can continue if you simply choose it to.

VI.  The Esoteric

The post has become long and I am in no mood to write a novel.  So let us dive headfirst into this “esoteric” and “exotic” pool regarding Mind Control.  The best part is it is not esoteric at all but the path to happiness is right out in the open.  It is simply a change in the state of mind and there are even road maps about how to get there.  As there are many, I’ll only cover my favorites and those which people will already be familiar.

A.) The Secret

Recently, there was a book put out called “The Secret.”  The Secret is nothing more than a commercial version, packaged for profit to show in a book what has already been known for millennia.  The basic premise is that we control our own world through a state of mind.  If you believe something will manifest itself then it will.

This might be a big jump for some so let us back up a bit.  In The Secret, I find they spend too much time talking about how to acquire money.  In this they miss the point which is simply finding happiness.  They claim that you have an “inner power” to make things come about but unfortunately concentrate on manifesting material things.

This sounds like a big bunch of nonsense to some people but we could refer back to simply having a “positive attitude.”  In our sports example, if you do not believe you will win then you most likely will not.  If you do not believe that you will not do well in an interview then most likely you will not.  If you are certain you will not have a good time, then you will not.

It is your state of mind that affects the outcome and not the other way around.  In the secret, they rely on the mysterious forces of the universe that will align themselves around your goal and make it happen.  I personally like this thought and have not discounted it.  But as it might be too much for some people, let’s bring it down to earth.

If you believe you can do something, then you will take the steps necessary to bring the result about.  Let’s say you have your mind set on attaining a fit body as an example.  I’m not sure if the forces of the universe will align themselves to make this happen, but what is certain is that you will “magically” find yourself at the gym more often and paying attention to what you eat.  Before you know it, you are now fit and it had nothing to do with the universe but rather your own mind which made a conscious decision to make something happen and it did.

Skipping past all the other material, physical examples let us get straight to the root which is happiness.  If you believe you will be happy then “magically” you will be.  This might not be easy as you have to train your mind to be happy and like a strenuous workout it can take time to shed those negative thoughts.  Yet, returning to our main theme, it will not be difficult unless you believe it is which comes back to your state of mind.  Just believe it will be easy, convince yourself of it and so it shall be.

Now, as a caution, there are certain things I cannot simply “will” myself to be.  I cannot tell myself I will be an NBA player and it will happen.  However, I have to ask myself “Why do I want to be an NBA player?”  I think the obvious answer is that it will make me happy.  Yet, why not just skip to the goal and tell myself to be happy which is certainly something everyone can attain.  We have to power to do so as our mind belongs to no one but us.

B.) Religious Aspects

I have found a very clear road map to happiness in the Buddhist teachings.  This does not mean that I am going to start wearing a shawl and shave my head.  But it does mean that I have an open mind and listen to what the teachings are saying.

My favorite aspect is that you have to understand yourself.  In order to do so you need to concentrate on your own mind and control it rather than letting it control you.  To get there, they do chants, Yoga, and various other practices to help attain “happiness” or “enlightenment.”  Without getting into what “enlightenment” is, let us just stick with happiness for simplicity.

In the Buddhist tradition, your mind is most important.  Your mind is you and is the root of your entire existence.  All material objects, experiences and so on are completely dependent on your own mind and how you choose to perceive things.  For those that understand and control their own mind well enough than no material things are actually needed except what you need to sustain yourself.  These things include shelter, food and good health.  Everything else is a distraction.

You may ask why I chose Buddhism over all the others.  I am not an expert in “all the others” but what I do know is Christianity.  Yet, I do not even know Christianity that well even though I spent 12 years in a Catholic school.  To put things simply, and wrongly, it is often in the Christian tradition that we are asking an external force “God” to make things happen.  If we are sad, then simply pray about it and perhaps God will grant you a favor and simply make you happy.

I believe that this is seriously misguided and not what Christianity is about at all.  There must be some mistranslation somewhere or misinterpretation of the teachings in that we have to rely on a supreme being for happiness.  Or perhaps, I simply have never read the right teaching?  From all my years in school, the fact remained that you had to pray in order to make something come about. You simply couldn’t do it on your own.

But what is prayer?  For some, it will be asking a divine being to make something happen.  I believe it is a form of mind control in which we can bring things to pass, but it is our own doing, “mystical” or not, rather than a divine being somewhere giving us a blessing. In Christianity, relying on a “divine being” more-so than ourselves is what many clergy teach. But if we dig a little deeper, I think Jesus tried to tell us that we have the power by the following examples: \

a. “You are the light of the world – let your light shine.”
b. “And Jesus said unto them … , “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to younder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible to you.”
c. “Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit lives in you?”

To me, this is Jesus telling us we have the power. We are connected to the “higher power” and are part of it and part of everything. Therefore, we need only ask (ourselves) and things will come to pass.

I believe Christian “prayer” is along the same lines as the Buddhist tradition but in Buddhism it is much more clear.  You are the one who has the power to make yourself happy, it is simply willing yourself to make it so.  If you can do this, things fall into place and a kind of balance is reached.  I think Christianity tried to teach the same thing but certain institutions wished the population to become reliant on their services and corrupted the teaching.

This religious debate is worth at least another post, if not a novel, or an entire library so let us quickly return to the main point of this post which is controlling your own mind.

There are many guides out there to help us along the path to happiness but they all boil down to controlling your own mind which controls your life experience.  The question is, “Can we control our own mind?”

I would say it belongs to no one else and is something you have complete control over so long as you choose to do so.

Where White Man Went Wrong

This is just for fun.  Another internet meme making the rounds.  Thought it would be worth a post.  *Original Source Unknown

But please read below the entry for some good Native American reading.

Where White Man Went Wrong

 

Indian Chief ‘Two Eagles’ was asked by a white U.S. government official, “you have observed the white man for 90 years.  You’ve seen his wars and his technological advances.  You’ve seen his progress, and the damage he’s done.”

The Chief nodded in agreement.

The official continued, “Considering all these events, in your opinion, where did the white man go wrong?”

The Chief stared at the government official then replied, “When white man find land, Indians running it, no taxes, no debt, plenty buffalo, plenty beaver, clean water.  Women did all the work.  Medicine man free.  Indian man spend all day hunting and fishing; all night having sex.”

Then the chief leaned back and smiled, “Only white man dumb enough to think he could improve system like that.”

—————–

As I mentioned, the above is just for fun and thought it post-worthy.  On a serious note however, what actually happened back then was not funny and the white man did a lot of horrible things.  It would be called “genocide” today.  But on the other hand the Native Americans were constantly at war with one another.  History is never as clean and neat as some historians would like to make it.  But for those of you who are looking for some great Native American reading please read about George Catlin.

There are many books on Native Americans but one I’ve read recently (Mr. Catlin) was written by an artist who ventured into the “wilderness” when a lot of territory still belonged to the Native Americans.  I highly doubt most people even know this exists but thought I would pass it along if you would like an honest view into Native American life and from one who truly tried to understand new and unique cultures.

1. Main website – http://www.georgecatlin.org/

2. Wikipedia – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Catlin

3. George Catlin Papers – These papers have been made into a book and can be found for free on the internet if one is willing to look hard enough.  I found my free copies using the Stanza app on the Iphone.

http://www.aaa.si.edu/collectionsonline/catlgeor/