Tag: philosophy

Mediation Experiences – Cuatro

This is the fourth installment “Cuatro” in my series on my meditation experiences. The previous installments included:

Meditation Experiences – Uno where I covered some of the basics of meditation and how I began my own practice.

Meditation Experiences – Dos was targeted at a discussion on some of the benefits I have received from my practice.

Meditation Experiences – Tres is where I tried to make the case for having no expectations from your practice.

Ok enough about the past, but if you haven’t read these posts I recommend you do so, as this has been a journey for me, and you get a better context for what I have experienced if you start at the beginning. During the time that I have written this, I have been meditating on a daily basis for about 3 months. I don’t know if I mentioned this, but my practice has also included studying Buddhism, which I have been doing for maybe around the last 10 years or so. So when I talk about my practice it is comprised of meditation and Buddhist studies.

All of human history has been turbulent, but we are living in a strange era with this pandemic and technological advances that have brought so much prosperity to the world and at the same time caused so many people to be displaced. If there was ever a time that we needed something to provide a lifeline or an anchor in our world the time is now.

As I went beyond just studying and dedicated myself to daily meditation, I feel that this might be an answer to living a meaningful life amidst all this craziness. In fact, it may be the only true way out of this situation. The Buddha spent years coming to the realization that suffering exists as a natural state for human beings and that there is an end to suffering. His prescription was developing a practice of meditation and following the Eightfold Path. You might be thinking this is bullshit, how can I benefit from studying an applied philosophy created 2,500 years ago. I would argue that Buddhism has survived so long because it was relevant in the past and is relevant today and will be relevant in the future. The basic premise of Buddhism that life is Dukkha (suffering), is as true today as it was yesterday.

As I have become consistent with my practice and specifically the meditation component of it I have found it to be the lifeline that I so badly needed. I won’t kid you there are times when I sit down on my cushion and have trouble tuning out the world around me, thoughts about my work, or other things become so prominent that I have trouble staying present. While some sessions seem better than others, all of the time spent meditating is a respite from the insane world we live in. This daily practice starts out as somewhat of a challenge, but as you persist it becomes a habit, and you will start to look forward to it. You become your practice, you become compassionate, and ultimately you become Buddha. Your practice will soon become the most important thing in your life because all good things result from it. You might just become a better spouse, parent, or friend. You might even start seeing the world as it really is and you will start seeing the good in people.

I will leave you with this somewhat funny quote from the Dalai Lama:

Namaste

 

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All the little things matter

Take some time today to analyze all the things you do today. What is your routine comprised of? We tend to think I need to make a massive change, quit my job, and move to Bali where I will be a writer and contemplate the various sunrises or sunsets. I contend you don’t need to make a massive change in your life for you to fulfill your dreams, but instead you need to start making sure those daily habits become a contributor and not a detractor to the life you envision.

You have all of these little habits each day that you perform that dictate your results, so this is a good place to start. Let’s say you want to be a writer, artist, or entrepreneur. What activities are you doing that contribute to this goal? If your habit is to get up late, dive in the shower, and drink three cups of coffee so you can make it to work at the last minute you are missing an opportunity to do something to contribute to the life you want to live. What if you just got up a couple hours early and worked on that thing you are passionate about? Well you would then spend 2 hours working towards your goal, or in aggregate 14 hours per week, or 728 hours a year. Could you accomplish something with 728 hours of effort, hell yes!

What if you wanted to become healthier, and instead of watching 3 hours of Netflix, Amazon Prime, or YouTube you spent an hour working out doing something good for your body. None of this shit a revolutionary change in your life or maybe for you it is, but the daily application of these new found habits accumulate over time and lead to massive results. Listen Rome wasn’t built in a day, and the success and satisfaction you seek won’t magically happen. You don’t need to destroy everything you have or do to improve, but you do need to make sure you have these supportive habits that occur on a frequent basis for you to start living the life you want for yourself.

Someone will always be selling you some new way to turn your life around, but all these ideas of reprogramming who you are usually don’t work. You have become what you were in the past, all these habits and ways of looking at life have been engrained over many years of just being you. Stop thinking you need to remake yourself, your not fucked up, but you are also not so locked into your past that you can’t start making changes. Don’t buy into this shit that you are broken and need to be re-built, you and I know there are a lot really great things that you are doing, and yes maybe somethings from your past that are holding you back from being an even better version of yourself.

Say it with me:

“Today I will make one small change that will contribute to the life I want to live”

Namaste


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Worthy of happiness

Worthy Of Happiness

I was reading a quote this morning and thought it was very interesting. I knew little of Immanuel Kant, but what intrigued me was the premise that to be worthy of happiness you need to live a moral life. As I processed this thought that the possibility of happiness can be earned as a result of morality I thought about The Five Precepts in Buddhism, which are:

  1. to abstain from taking life
  2. to abstain from taking what is not given
  3. to abstain from sensuous misconduct
  4. to abstain from false speech
  5. to abstain from intoxicants as tending to cloud the mind

In Buddhism, the five precepts are a moral code for laypeople, or one could think of them as the fundamental baseline of morality. Read them and you begin to realize how broadly they can be applied and how powerful their influence could be on your personal conduct.

Personally, I tend to stay away from talking too much about morality, as it is often applied for example in religion to various behavior that I may see as moral and not immoral. Still, there is something about this quote that made me think that maybe we all need to strive to be more moral, and by doing so provide an opportunity to be a bit happier.

Note Kant does not equate morality to happiness only to being worthy of happiness. To me, this means real happiness like everything else must be earned, and in Buddhism, this starts with the Five Precepts. Can you be happy without striving to live a moral life?

If you are aware of the consequences of your actions and the impact they have on others, then the answer is no.

Who was Immanuel Kant?

He lived in the 1700s to early 1800 and was an influential German philosopher in the Age of Enlightenment. In his doctrine of transcendental idealism, he argued that space, time, and causation are mere sensibilities; “things-in-themselves” exist, but their nature is unknowable.

Kant’s theory is an example of a deontological moral theory–according to these theories, the rightness or wrongness of actions does not depend on their consequences but on whether they fulfill our duty. Kant believed that there was a supreme principle of morality, and he referred to it as The Categorical Imperative.

Well enough, for now, I need to start making myself worthy of happiness and do something good today, guess I will start by reflecting on the Five Precepts.

Namaste


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Reference:

Five Precepts of Buddhism Explained

 

A little information on Immanuel Kant

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immanuel_Kant

 

 

Moving On

Random Thoughts / Poetry

Moving On

Is every day a repetition of the last?

Move on

But the money and the benefits are so good

Move on

Have you quit dreaming and setting goals?

Move on

When was the last time you got a good night’s sleep?

Move on

Are you tired all the time?

Move on

Are you drinking a little too much to forget this shit show?

Move on

Are you waiting to have enough money to retire?

Move on

Are other people maybe your family members telling you just one more year and you can do anything you want?

Move on

Have you mastered this job to the point you are no longer learning?

Move on

Do you spend a lot of time doing pointless work that adds no value?

Move on

Has the line blurred so much that you can’t tell your work from the rest of your life?

Move on

Is your work so demanding that you have abandoned all your hobbies?

Move on

Afraid you can’t do better?

Move on

Will you miss the long days and continuous demands?

Fuck No!

Move on

 

Namaste


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Not for appearance sake

One of the themes I understand from studying the Stoics like Epictetus, Seneca, and Marcus Aurelius is the idea that above all you should do the right thing. Another way of putting this is to be a good person, first and foremost. Doing the right thing is not done for accolades or praise, but simply because it is the right thing to do. If you find yourself more concerned about how the things you do are perceived by others then you are missing the point.

Maybe you are not doing the right thing or being a good person because you find it inconvenient taking too much effort. Being lazy or selfish is not an excuse for shirking your responsibilities and doing what is right. The stoic ideal requires self-discipline and adhering to the principle of doing good. A selfish me oriented attitude will never result in doing the right thing, nor will living a life focused on impressing other people.

Put your ego aside today and think is what I am doing the right thing, is it good for the world, or is it self serving?

There is such a thing as an honorable life, but it is not easy. Doing the right thing is difficult in this me oriented world, but you have greatness inside you and you just need to release it.

Ask yourself today, as Epictetus would, am I doing this for the sake of appearance or because it is the right thing to do?

Namaste

 


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You can’t escape your destiny

Random Thoughts / Poetry

You Can’t Escape Your Destiny

Try as you may you can’t escape your destiny

Run if you like it follows

You look around the corner and it is there smiling at you

It knows what you are meant to be

It is a shadow coaxing you to lead

It only dies when you seek to exist

Namaste

 

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Find something you love

Simon Sinek wrote a book called Find Your Why, which helps you create a sense of purpose, your why becomes a vision statement for your life. I highly recommend you check out that book or watch some of his YouTube videos, as it reinforces some of the things in this post.

You probably have a pretty good idea of what you love to do, but often you don’t spend as much time as you would like doing it, because you feel it is not advancing your career or there appears to be no money in it. You know what that is great because now you have found your passion. If no one is patting you on the back or paying you for it, then you should be doing it for the sheer joy you receive from it. Let’s say you love to play guitar, paint, do yoga, write blog posts, read books, exercise, do home improvement projects, or any other of the thousands of things you might enjoy. Are you so busy making a living, running on the hamster wheel, and taking care of everyone else that you cannot pursue your passion?

Dammit, wake the hell up! 

In most cases what we love doesn’t create an income, but is something we do for free. We do it for free because we love doing it, and it brings joy to our lives, enriching our days on this earth. Many of the greatest artists, musicians, and writers barely made a living from their work, but it didn’t matter. They did it because they loved doing it and nothing would stop them. If what you are doing is done to impress someone, stroke your ego, or gain financially then it is not inherently your passion.

Now here is the funny thing about doing what you love, it may someday turn into some form of recognition or become financially rewarding, but those were not the reasons you started doing it, they simply became an outcome. Always ask Why am I involved in this activity? When your why is because you are passionate about it and would do it for free, you have found your why. Doing that thing you love doing eventually turns into mastery if you invest enough time in it, then that alone provides a sense of achievement and satisfaction.

Life is too short to spend all your time seeking recognition and striving for more money. Spend a little time today doing some of those things you love to do and all will be well with you.

Namaste

 

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Removing your desire

I just love this quote from Epictetus as it highlights the fact that all those cravings you seek to fulfill only detract from your freedom, in fact, they begin to enslave you. The examples are endless, but let’s take a look at a few:

  • I make a modest income, but I want a $60,000 sports car, the dollar figure doesn’t really matter and is somewhat relative. I go to the bank and now have a car loan for $1.200 a month for 5 years. I think I look cool driving around town, but instead of investing that money, which might ultimately provide some actual freedom, I am a slave to my car loan.
  • I decide I need to make more money, so I work harder and get promoted, but now instead of working 40 hours a week, I am working 60 hours a week. The hobbies I once had have been shelved and I hardly see my family anymore, but I make another $20,000 a year. I find that the additional money doesn’t do much for me, as I really don’t have time to spend it. My health and relationships are suffering and instead of freedom I just imprisoned myself with an occasional furlough called a vacation.
  • I decide now that I am a wealthy man that I need to upgrade my spouse by marrying a much younger woman or maybe having an affair. I end up sneaking around and find a younger woman and start a relationship (affair). My wife finds out, kicks my sorry ass out of the house, and calls an attorney. Six months later my estate is cut in half and I now live in a small apartment. Oh, and by the way, the younger woman walked out some time ago, when she realized I am really not that wealthy. Of course, my children think I am an asshole and I no longer have my wonderful wife to grow old with and who has been taking care of things for me as she did in the past.
  • I decided that to help me forget all the stupid decisions I made based on my desires; I would drown myself in alcohol on the weekends. Instead of helping me forget about my bad decisions, or God forbid doing something about them, I am now an addict. I did not free my mind and instead enslaved my body to what has become a serious addiction.

You might think these are silly examples of cravings that enslaved a person, but I have seen all of these as pretty common human behavior. Check yourself and determine if the things you desire are healthy and enhance your freedom or if they are imprisoning you. For most of us the more we desire, the less freedom we experience. The freest among us often have the least in material possessions and want but little. In fact, these desires that you might even consider to be fairly positive such as exercise or even enhancing your knowledge come with a price and can become an addiction.

If you want freedom desire less, appreciate what you have, and stop craving for things you don’t have.

Namaste

 

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The shorter and nobler life

What is Epictetus saying when he would prefer a shorter life than one that is longer but of less account? Remember though he qualifies it with a shorter and nobler life, and the word nobler is the key. There are two definitions for noble with one being “one of the nobility or a higher class”, but Epictetus was referring to “having or showing fine personal qualities or high moral principles and ideals.” I think this also speaks to the stoic principle that your time on this earth is limited and it is up to you to make the most of it, and living a noble life does just that.

You are bestowed with the power of choice, and you can choose to live your life as a shining example for this world, or you can waste your time and live aimlessly. You know what is the correct choice, so today seek to live a noble life.

Namaste

 

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Epictetus (/ˌɛpɪkˈttəs/;[1] GreekἘπίκτητοςEpíktētosc. 50 – 135 AD) was a Greek Stoic philosopher. He was born a slave at HierapolisPhrygia (present day PamukkaleTurkey) and lived in Rome until his banishment, when he went to Nicopolis in northwestern Greece for the rest of his life. His teachings were written down and published by his pupil Arrian in his Discourses and Enchiridion.

Epictetus taught that philosophy is a way of life and not just a theoretical discipline. To Epictetus, all external events are beyond our control; we should accept calmly and dispassionately whatever happens. However, individuals are responsible for their own actions, which they can examine and control through rigorous self-discipline.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Epictetus

Except to reason

Marcus Aurelius was if nothing else a rational man. In this quote he rightly espouses that nothing else should guide you in life but reason. Not emotions, greed, lust, or any other vile thoughts. In many ways this is the same philosophy that Ayn Rand used in her books The Fountain Head and Atlas Shrugged. When we seek to go down a path that is void of reason we are taking a big risk that could manifest itself into addictions, stupid decisions, and an all around miserable existence.

Let the stoics help guide you to a better place in your life. You are constantly bombarded by so many things that will challenge you, and if you can stay grounded knowing reason alone is your basis for living, then you will be at peace. Most people around you and in society as a whole will not live a life based on reason, and you quickly see what the consequences are for them.

If it is not rational, if you can’t use reason to understand it and guide your decisions then don’t do it. If you are reading this blog you are a person of reason, and it is your responsibility to be the rational person and set an example for those around you. This is even more important now when so much fear about this pandemic is all around us.

Be like Marcus Aurelius, be the stoic!

Namaste

 

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Marcus Aurelius (/ɔːˈrliəs/ or /ɔːˈrljəs/;[1] LatinMarcus Aurelius Antoninus Augustus; 26 April 121 – 17 March 180) was a Roman emperor from 161 to 180 and a Stoic philosopher. He was the last of the rulers known as the Five Good Emperors (a term coined some 13 centuries later by Niccolò Machiavelli), and the last emperor of the Pax Romana, an age of relative peace and stability for the Roman Empire. He served as Roman consul in 140, 145, and 161.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Marcus_Aurelius