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Monday, March 30, 2009

Love The Absolute

There are some things we can not define.
God, good, evil, love, hate, harmony, beauty, time are a few that pop in my mind right now.
They are absolutes.
I know, I know, we all know what they are because we have all experienced them but can we define them, can we capture their full meaning in one word or a definition?

Love is so big, so immense, infinite I should say, so complex, so nuanced, so magical, irrational, and beautiful that for thousand of years artists have tried to capture it in words, music or images, for thousand of years philosophers and sage man have tried to find its meaning and we still have even scratched the surface of the subject matter.

To define love I do not have the words, but rather I would like to use a metaphor.

Life is an ocean and out of that infinite ocean our egos rise like waves.
We rise out the ocean of consciousness and look around.
We see the other waves rising from the ocean and going back into the ocean but the ego tells us a different story:
- I am – says the ego - not a creation of the ocean but a creation of my own.
And for a brief moment we call life we forget that we are the ocean.
We don’t see the illusion of our permanence and separation; we think we’ll live forever.
( or disappear into nothing - when you start getting older :)

But although fragmented, we are never separated.
There is always a under current beneath the wavy surface.
There is always an indefinable connection we can feel.
There are those moments when you can feel the ocean lifting you up or you can feel your ego flowing back into the ocean.
But then we get scared and pull away.
- I am – says the ego - not a creation of the ocean but a creation of my own.

There is nothing more powerful of a proof of that connection than love.
When two waves get closer to another, when soul and body melt into a one.
When you can feel that your body is just an extension of another body
When you can feel your soul is an extension of another soul.
( Can you imagine how it would feel to feel your body being the extension of everybody, how it will feel to feel your soul flowing back into the ocean?)
But that would be the death of the ego and the ego gets scared of death and runs away.
- I am - says the ego - not a creation of the ocean but a creation of my own.

All human interaction is love.
Right now you are reading my post. It is a very high level connection.
From the top of my wave to the top of your wave.
There is very little love flowing between us right now. It is mostly information we are exchanging.

Then we would have the romantic love.
Starting with friendships – where there is an undercurrent flowing, where you open up to give and receive love.
Then there is the total absolute, crazy love, were the gates are large open – even if for a while – where the whole world transforms in front of your eyes – love is instant enlightenment!

But love doesn’t have to be romantic to go that deep.
You can love your children, your parents, yourself.
What you have to understand is that the depth of your love is the depth of all your love.
In other wards a person that doesn’t love himself can not love another and a person that doesn’t love another can not love himself.
If you reach a depth of love you love the whole world at that depth.

Here is my problem, of letting go of my ego.
Here is my problem of not being able to become a Christian or a Buddha.
My love doesn’t go deep enough.
I know I should love my enemy, I know that I should love what I hate.
I know that my love should be unconditional but I can’t do it.

There is a point where my love stops. There is some evil I still hate.
Somebody like Hitler.
I can see he’s God’s creation just like me and you.
I can see how he chose evil over good.
I can see how evil corrupted and devoured his soul.
I can see how that was his downfall.
But I can’t forgive him.
I can only pity someone like that.

That pity is the separation between me and God
I know that, but I can’t let go.
I’m well, too human.
(Which is scary because it means I am still a little bit like Hitler)

- I am – says the ego - not a creation of the ocean but a creation of my own.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Growing Love

We think of love like some sweet, deliciously, nutritious fruit for your soul.
We look around for it and when we find it in somebody’s garden, we pluck it and enjoy its sweetness.
We take and take until there is nothing more to take and then we turn around and look for more, for some other garden where the fruit is fresh and inviting.
So we go on consuming love but our hunger is never satisfied.
The more love we get the less we have and the older we get the hungrier we grow.

It is all fun and games when you are in your 20’s and even close to 30’s.
(There is a tendency for the new generation to wait longer and longer to get married.)
But past your 30 something changes; love gets harder and harder to find, and all we find are dilapidated gardens full of sour grapes, bad experiences and memories.
(I call it the psychotic dating scene)

We all look for love but how many know how to grow love?
How many know how to plant the seeds of love, to cultivate and care for the garden?
How many labor, and toil, cherish and protect their garden?

Those who do will always have love.
Because they know in love, the more you give the more you have.
The growers of love will never starve, will never be alone.
They will always have the bounty of their garden, the fruits of their labor.

We all look for love, but we look in all the wrong places.
You will never find love until you stop looking outside and start looking inside.
I know what you think – Buddha is talking about the spiritual thing called love –
I am not. I am talking about romantic love, like between two people in love.

Think the one time you were in love, in real love.
Where was that love?
Was it outside of you, in your partner?
Or was it in the space between you two?
Was your love for your partner inside your heart?
Just close your eyes.
Now you remember

Stop looking for love and start your own garden of love.
And for those of you that already have one, remember that the work is never done.
A garden needs constant tending. The weeds are always popping up and the hungry vagabonds are constantly tempted by your harvest.
Keep up your work and some where in the corner of your garden plant a seed for me, will you?

And if you think I sound like Chance Gardner, is the other way around:
Chance sounds like me!

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Directions

Remodeling of any kind is not an easy or pleasant endeavor.
Anyone that has gone through a house remodeling can attest to my testimony, and if you have never undertaken a remodeling job you have to trust me:
It is very noisy, dirty, unpleasant, inconvenient and very expensive too, but when it is done you can really see is worth the effort!

So when do you do a remodeling?
The simple answer is: When you can afford it.
Which is easy to know when you are talking about house remodeling but a bit more complicated when you are thinking life remodeling.
So here are some simple directions to follow.

Al things in your life; love, relationships, finances, business, spirituality, religion, education, career etc are going one direction or another.
Things are going up, down or reach a balance point.

If things are going up then you don’t have to worry about changing anything.
For God’s sake if things are not broken do not try to fix them!
I am amazed how many people are screwing up a good deal just because they can’t stop screwing with it.

Same thing if thing are going down: Don’t do anything!
I know – Wrong advice! – Right?
Let me tell you a little story:

When I got married I thought that married life would be like having cake every day, like being on a date for the rest of my life. Little did I know :)
After the honey moon was over things started going south.
(Looking in retrospective it was all stupid things like learning to put down the toilet seat, separate the whites from the colors and rearranging my socks and underwear in different drawers.)

Getting married it is a life remodeling project.
You have to demolished the “my” life and build the “our” life.
It is no longer “my” place it is now “our” place, no longer “my” checking account but “our”, no longer “my” dreams but “our” no longer “my” plans but “our” no longer “my” life but “our” life.
So before things start getting better you they will get worse.
Don’t quit! Give it a chance and you will be thankful later.

What if things don’t get any better, what if it was the wrong thing to do?
Don’t worry. You are already going down; things will fall apart even without your help!

The tricky and hurtful situation is the false security one gets when things seem to have settled into a compromise.
First:
Compromises are good only when signing a deal.
In real life situations there is no compromise, a compromise is just a strategy to win more but it never ends a conflict.
If you agree to do the laundry and your spouse to cook that is a deal.
If you agree to do the laundry 3 times a month and the spouse 2 times a month you will end up doing the laundry all the time.
If you have reached a compromise to end hostilities it means simply that one will respect the deal until he or she will find a better deal.
This is true of any relationship, romantic or business.

This is the law of nature: Things go up and things go down, but things never stay the same.
The universe, reality, God is change. Balance points are just temporary states.
If you understand that you will avoid a lot of unpleasant surprises in life!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Life Remodeling

Life in the big metropolis is taxing!
The smog and pollution are assaulting my immune system every moment.
The noise, smells and lights of the city overwhelm my senses.
My psyche is corroded by the rat race and doggy dog mentality of Hollywood.
I need to get out of town.
I need to recharge my batteries and cleanse my mind and my soul.

Nature for me is the temple of the living God and there is no other place I feel his/her presence more vividly than in the middle of nature.

It was some time last fall when I ran out of the city in one of my weekend escapes in search of a breath of fresh air and some sanity.
And I found my self driving by this patch of forest.
The colors of the autumn had painted the trees in fantastic hues of yellow, orange, red and browns. It was so inviting I had to stop for a quick meditation.

I picked out a spot under a majestic tree and lay down on the thick cover of fallen leaves but I couldn’t close my eyes.
The canopy above me was breath taking.
The branches of the trees had lost their summer fullness and revealed patches of emerald blue sky.
The sunlight was flowing among the branches like golden honey and falling leaves were dancing a fantastic aerial ballet in the autumn breeze.
It was more beautiful than words can describe and I tried for a moment to capture, to absorb, to become one with this amazing transformation occurring in front of my eyes.

And then it hit me like a ton of bricks. A horrible thought:
God is a demolition man!
God is destroying all the summer’s beauty. He’s taking down his own creation.
But how can destruction be so beautiful, so peaceful, so natural?
Why is my soul full of love and joy and peace when everything is deconstructed and taken apart?

And then it hit me again.
God is not destroying his creation.
God is remodeling!

Autumn is just the preparation step for winter and winter is nothing but Gods clean, white canvas on which he will paint the explosion of green and color of the spring!
My soul was overwhelmed with wow and wonder.
I close my eyes and slipped into my meditation.

I have read many books on human behavior: Some of them serious stuff – required readings for my therapist license – some of them self help, pop culture fluff – but a lot more fun to read.
Pretty much all psychology and spirituality revolves around the concept of fixing you up, making you feel better.
One is doing it by getting you in touch with your true self and the other by putting you in touch with your true nature.
But your true self and your true nature is God and God is change, renewal and evolution.
God is the dance of Shiva an Kali, not one nor the other.

We spend our life patching up, painting another coat of appearance on hour existence, fooling ourselves that we have attained enlightenment and happiness - like enlightenment and happiness are some sort of trophy one puts on the fire place mantle.

I have never heard anyone saying:
Life is an ongoing project and if you don’t like it take a big hammer and tear it down.
Get a fresh start. Get a new life!
Do some life remodeling!

Sunday, March 22, 2009

On the human nature II

Did you know that your body comes with a personal doctor and its own complete drug factory?
It is called the immune system and it comes standard issue with every body.
Of course you know that, but did you know that there are tribes in the Amazon jungle that have no HMOs or PPOs and that there are yak herders in some Tibet mountains that have never seen a doctor in their entire life and live to be 120 years old?
OK. What about this one:
Do you realize that even with the best doctors and the best drugs money can buy, without your immune system you are as good as dead?
OK. Just checking!

So you think you are hype with the social propaganda?
Well let me ask you some more questions.

Did you know that your mind comes with a personal shrink and the best mind and mood altering drugs you will ever need?
Or:
Did you know that your soul comes with a personal priest and a personal church as well?
So how come you are still clinging to your bible and / or the holly scriptures?
Just wondering.

We were talking about the power of visualization a couple of posts before.
“Visualization” is just a fancy label we device to explain a mind process that we all poses.
Remember going on your first date?
Pacing through the room or in the front of the mirror rehearsing your lines and your moves?
Or maybe your first job interview.
Going in your mind through all the questions and all the possible answers?

Now, some smart guy has figure it out how that works and packaged the process as visualization or NLP or Life Scripting or any other BS label you may think of and is making a lot of money selling to you what you already have.
Of course you have been conditioned not to trust or use your God given gifts and abilities, because the Church and the Medical establishment has to make a profit some how.

This is how visualization works:
You have a flying phobia - for example – and want to get read of it.
You could higher somebody to take you by force on an airplane and repeat the process until the phobia is overcome – but you my suffer some other trauma in the process.
Or you can visualize yourself taking the plane and having a wonderful experience, until the phobia is overcome.
Practice makes perfect and the mind doesn't know the difference between a real plane and an imaginary one – some weird quality the human mind has.

This is how visualization does not work:
You imagine yourself having sex with the hottest woman you desire, or you imagine yourself getting the promotion you dream of.
You rehearse that in your mind until your confidence goes through the roof then you go for it.
You get rejected and you go down in flames with your confidence shattered to pieces.
Why? Doesn't practice makes perfect? Does not visualization work? Why can't we achieve world peace? Why oh why?

Rule number one:
The only thing you can change is your little self.
You can't visualize your dream girl's panties off!
You can't visualize your boss that hates your guts giving you a raise.
You can't visualize world peace.
Well, you of course you can but don't expect more than frustration and bad self confidence.

Now if you really want the girl of your dream, you should visualize yourself as funny and witty, as self confident and assertive, in other words imagine yourself as the guy of her dreams.
That might give you a chance at her heart and if not it would attract some one else to you.
If you still want that raise you should visualize yourself as the best employee -like the person that deserves a raise.
Of course if your boss hates your guts finding a new job would work much better than visualization.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

On the human nature

One thing I discovered, or maybe rediscovered about being human, is that we have a lot of undiscovered abilities and qualities.
The human mind is as fascinating and vast as the physical universe and as deep and wondrous as the blue oceans, yet we know more about our universe and our oceans than about our own mind, and that bothers me.
You don’t have to be an astronaut or a deep sea diver to explore the human nature.
You just have to sit down and relax and you are at the doors of the most exciting discovery adventure of your life!

I have a passion for studying the human nature and of course for finding out new things about myself.
It is a blessing and a curse at the same time.
A blessing because I keep of rediscovering myself in characteristics and aspects I never knew before – some of them positive and some of them of the negative sort as well.
It is a curse because I feel like I am always on shifting sand, just when I think I have it all figured out, my whole belief system comes crumbling down.

For a while I was kind of upset with this situation, it drove me mad, but then some how I learned to like it an look forward to the next incoming disaster.
The problem is that my thoughts are always scattered and although some how it all makes sense to me, every time I am trying to write abut my experiences I get lost on tangents and secondary thoughts and my posts don’t come out as fluid and connected as I envision when I start at the keyboard.

Of course I thought of writing down a plan, but it turned out that it was more difficult than I thought and I got into the same time crisis and of course I gave up.
How do people write a post every day, and then have time for commenting and socializing as well? I wonder.

So here I am again rambling without a notion of where I am going.
I guess I just wanted to apologize for being such a scattered brain.
I am not trying to frustrate anybody I am just being myself.

In my years of therapy practice I have come to the understanding that each individual is unique and the only reason we are not in a constant shock is because we are artificially conforming to accepted standards of social behavior.

We all dress more or less alike, look alike, talk alike and apparently are not very different that the next person, and if some of us dare to challenge the accepted social taboos we promptly marginalize and isolate them.
They become the so called “subculture”.

The truth is that we are so much more diverse and the range of behavior, taste and philosophy we have it is so vaste that each one of us would be considered a weirdo if we would let go of the self imposed social censorship.

Yeah, like you never thought to go to work and let them know what you really think about their company, or you never read one of my posts and wanted to go “WTF are you talking about, are you mentally retarded or what?”
That would be fine because I am as weird as they come but then again you wouldn’t ever get bored with me and my posts :)

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Power of Visualization

I love bumper stickers!
Yet one more reason to hate Communism.
We did not have any bumper stickers. Hell; we did not have any cars!
Well, the party elite did but they hated bumper stickers. – I guess they were a threat to the purity of Marxist doctrine – But I digress.

I remember the day I saw this bumper sticker – You all know it – it said:
“Visualize Word Peace”
An electric tingle went down my spine.
It was so beautiful, so profound, so perfect and clear.
I went home and that evening before I went to sleep, I visualized “World Peace”

I always do my meditation in the evening before I go to bed.
It helps me relax and helps me fall asleep. It also keeps me from procrastinating myself out of my meditation practice.

That night, I had dreams of children playing in green fields full of flowers.
People smiling on the streets and a good vibration permeating the air…
I kept visualizing world peace for a long, long time.

One day, it just occurred to me that world peace has never been actualized.
Of course there were moments when peace seemed to reign over humanity, like at the end of the second WW, or in the seventies when people went out on the streets and ended the Vietnam War, but I could never recall when actually world peace visualization really worked.

Maybe I wasn’t up to par with my visualization techniques or there was something with my meditation, but then again; what about the Dalai Lama?
He must have a chakra higher than the empire state building. Why couldn’t he visualize a free Tibet?
Why couldn’t he and his people produce that kind a shift in the universal consciousness as to free Tibet?
Maybe because four billion Chinese are visualizing ruling Tibet?

In any case it seems to me that the only time the people can actualize peace or any positive social, or political change, is when we get out of our meditating buts and do something about it – which is usually after the things get really, really bad.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve been guilty of the exactly same problem.
It seems to me that the only time in my life I have been able to affect major shifts and changes in my destiny were the times when the shit hit the fan, when I reached the bottom and there was no other way to go but up.

So for the people who still believe in the power of visualization I have a special request:
Please join me in my meditation.
Visualize yourself acting!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The search continues

I have read a lot of books on history, religion, philosophy, psychology, self help and self improvement looking for enlightenment.
From the classical works and sacred texts to the pop culture and the new age recycled thoughts; pretty much all I got was variations on the same themes.
Even religions, if you look at the very core beliefs and moral principles they preach, are pretty much the same variations on the Ten Commandments.

You would think that the world after ten thousand years of “civilization” would resemble the Garden of Eden, that war, poverty, famine and disease would be a thing of the past, that violence, intolerance, bigotry and racism between human beings would be long gone.

But look at the world today. It seems to me that from the day I was born there has been a war or another going on, a famine or a plague going on in some corner of the world.
And it looks to me that things are getting increasingly worse. IMO.

Same thing on personal level: You would think that every person would be an enlightened human being, that stress and fear, depression and anxiety, low self esteem addictions and self destructive behavior would be eradicated by this time.
Reality once a gain differs from the theory.

We all know that we have to love each other that we have to love even our enemies.
We all know that we should not kill, steal, lie and deceive, judge and persecute.
Nobody wants to be miserable, depressed, stressed, poor or sick.
We all know the “theory” the good books have taught us the wise man, the sage and the prophets have imparted to us.
Why it is not working? What gives?

The world as it is today is the result of our actions. The pollution, the wars, all the dysfunction and hatred going on is our doing. We just keep pointing fingers at each other.
The Republicans at the Democrats the Jews at the Palestinians, the Christians at the Muslims and vice versa.
The mantra of human relations and human dialog at this moment on this very planet is: We are “right” and they are “wrong”

Well, there is no “we” and there is no “them” to blame. There is also no “us” either, so all that remains is “I”
If there is a blame, a guilty verdict to be passed, a cross to be carried it is “I” who should take the blame, not “they” not “you” but “I”
That is the understanding I have being given.
This is not what I asked for or what I thought I would find looking for enlightenment.
But this is my truth, like it or not.
Like Jesus I have to carry my cross, like Buddha I have to find my enlightenment.

If there are enlightened people out there they will understand and send their smile and blessing upon me.
The rest will just pass judgment onto me according to their own character. They will call me a sage or a fool, a crook or a saint.
It doesn’t matter.
I have to keep on searching.
What is the secret of turning beliefs into actions?
What is the secret on turning the teachings of Jesus and Buddha into reality?

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Belief-emotion

In trying to understand and explain my unexplainable behavior or to be more precise the behavior of my subconscious mind, I have come up with this new word “belief-emotion”
It is the way I see my mind working for me and if it differs from your experience let me know as this is a learning experience for me as well.

Not all beliefs are emotions and not all emotions are beliefs.
Some beliefs can become emotions – although emotion is a very poor word to express the complexity of what a belief-emotion is.

Let me give you an example of what I mean by that:
God
If you are a Christian then Allah would be a belief – you believe Allah is the God of Islam. So that concept of God for you is just information.
Same for Muslims, Jehovah would be just a concept, just information.

Now if you had an epiphany and found yourself in the presence of God your belief would change into a belief-emotion.
When you go through that transformation God is not a concept any longer and when faced with a concept of God – like we did in “Concepts of God” post series, you would realize “That is not the God I know!” because indeed, God is not a concept.

Belief-emotions are alive. They are for the mind what cells are for our body.
Belief-emotions are the language of our subconscious mind they are the decision makers in our life.

Once I knew a very good looking young woman with a very devastating illness; she was anorexic bulimic.
She had this belief-emotion that she was too fat, and no matter how much weight she lost she would still think of herself as fat.
Untreated this “obsessive compulsive” behavior can kill a person.
Thus is the power of a belief-emotion.

Note: Psychology treats this as a behavioral problem or disorder, but to me behavior is a symptom not a problem. Behavior just doesn’t happen.

Of course not all belief-emotions are negative. As I mention earlier God can be a belief-emotion and when people use it can be a life changing experience.
All twelve step programs work on the basis of the God belief-emotion.
We are talking about people with addiction problems.
The way to psychologically address the addiction problem is to surrender your problem to a higher authority “God”

This might sound to a non believer as a lot of bologna but there are practically millions of people that had their life changed because of that belief. It doesn’t matter that God is a belief-emotion in your mind – or as non believers say “it is not real” so it is “anorexia nervosa” but that wouldn’t stop it from killing you!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Question authority!

The happiest days of my life were growing up on my grand parent’s farm.
I would say I had an idyllic enchanted childhood, full of magic and wonder.
My grand father was an enlightened spiritual man and also a harsh anti communist critic.
His modest social background and a dozen war medals from both WW I and WW II shielded him from the communist persecution.

He was my first teacher and mentor.
By the age of five he taught me how to read as well as introducing me to the ancient art of herbal remedies and magic.
He passed on to me his wisdom and love of nature.

Among his teachings one that he kept repeating all through my life was:
“Question authority”
Question your teachers, your priests, your leaders, the press the radio and TV.
Look behind words to images, look behind words and images to actions, look behind actions to results! Reality is the only truth!
I follow that advice all of my life.
In communism that was not a luxury it was a survival necessity.

I remember watching the nightly news on state owned TV.
Every night we would have the international news, which invariably were the glorious accomplishments of our Soviet brothers fallowed by the catastrophic failures of the West.

They would present us something like images of Down Town LA skid row.
They would show homeless people sleeping in card board boxes but inevitably they would show the sky scrapers in the background, and while the commentator would blast that the American worker has no home to live in, I would ask myself “Who lives in those amazing buildings in the background?”
This has been the way my mind has become wired and it is still working the same way today.

I also always believed that my life was the result of my actions.
Therefore I always felt that my destiny, my success as well as my failures are up to me not to others.
Coming to America was supposed to open that possibility of creating my own destiny even more, and even if I knew that freedom to succeed means freedom to fail as well, it never even crossed my mind that I would have anything but success in my new life.

Little did I know!
My first encounter with failure let me like a deer in front of an eighteen wheeler’s halogen lamps.
I always thought that failure was finding the right excuse. That without capitulation there is no failure, but some how I lost control of my actions, some how an evil me, I did not know it existed, took over my life.

Question authority!

If my life is the result of my actions and my actions go against my self who is in charge of my actions?
The one authority I have never questioned, my own, came into questioning.
My thoughts are in charge of my actions.
Everything that happens starts with a thought in my mind. Every word spoken, every movement every action is first a thought.
So who is in charge of my thoughts?

This is the unpleasant truth my therapy revealed to me.
I wasn’t in charge of my thoughts as I thought.
My thoughts were the result of my beliefs, to be more precise of my belief-emotions.
My reason was nothing but a servant. The guy that comes up with a good explanation for the emotional decision my subconscious mind was taking for me.

Question authority!

If I had to take back control of my life, my belief system had to come into questioning.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

How I got my ego shrunk

By emigrant standards I was a picture perfect of success.
I had an amazing career, a brand new car, my own condominium with all the latest electronic gadgets, a beautiful girlfriend, everything I ever dreamed of and more.

I always believed that I was in control of my actions and in control of my life therefore I always knew I would succeed.
There was no other way.

The thing that I found perplexing was not my success but the subsequent implosion and collapse.
Something unexpected happened: I started sabotaging my self.
An evil person inside me was taking over my life and I was out of control.
Who was this guy and why was he trying to destroy everything I had accomplished?

Things were getting worse every day.
I was always late for work. Never pay my bills in time. Late fees piled up to the point I wouldn’t even want to open my mail. I stopped answering my phone and I started secretly drinking. (Which was one of the things I hated most.)
I was in a free fall or better said, in a snow ball running out of control.
The worse I felt the more self destructive I got and the more self destructive I was, the worse I felt.

The saving grace was my American girlfriend.
One weekend she sowed up unannounced at my door.
I was unshaved; unbathed and my place looked like a pig stay.
She looked at me and gave me an ultimatum:
Take care of my problem or be on my own.
That was my wake up call.

I did not know what was wrong with me, so I stepped on my pride and I asked for her help.
She told me to seek professional help which I refused immediately.
Only crazy people go to see a shrink. (At least that was the concept on which I grew up.)
But she gave me no choice and so I ended up on the proverbial couch.

I hated going to my psychiatrist. It was all about my childhood memories.
Childhood was the best part of my life, but some how he was trying to convinced me otherwise.
I left him and tried another, then another and I would have quit trying but I couldn’t afford loosing my girlfriend. She was the only thing keeping me from total collapse.

One positive thing came out of my sessions. I felt more comfortable talking about my problem – this time it even had a name “procrastination” (which doesn’t sound so bad) so one day while I was complaining about my new shrink, somebody recommended me a hypnotherapist he knew. I said why not, I had nothing to loose.

There are few encounters in my life with people that have influenced and shape my life and this hypnotherapist was one of them.
He was a Jewish guy that worked with emigrants from Eastern Europe mostly Russian Jews so from the very first moment we had a solid report.

He told me this story about the baby elephants.
When elephants are young they are tied with a heavy chain to a tree trunk. They try to get away but the chain is too heavy and the tree to strong. After a time the baby elephant stops trying. He has learned the chain can’t be broken. So he will never try to escape even when he is all grown up and could easily break the chain.

He asked me: “In communism how did you fight against the regime?”
I said I did not fight. It would have been suicidal.
The only thing I could do was to sabotage the system. I did as little as possible.
Or in psycho babble I was a “passive aggressive”
This was the way I was trained to react against a system that pushed me.

Remember my hair cut incident?
The way I showed my resentments against my new social restrictions was the same “passive aggressive” way to react.
I did not assert myself. Instead I sabotage everything, which now was my own life.

Any way, to make a long story short, after a couple of sobbing sessions (I know, I am not very proud of that) I ended up feeling much better and taking control of my life.
I also became very interested in the human subconscious and decided to be a hypnotherapist. So back to school I went!

PS: If any of you are having “procrastination” problems check up for some inflexible authority in your past, like a father, mother, coach etc.
Write a good assertive post about them. Make it as emotionally possible.
You can break the chain now.
I know I did it!

Sunday, March 8, 2009

The price of success

Writing about one’s personal life is not as easy as it seems, especially when the would be title of your post is “How I screwed up my life”
It gives you that strange feeling you get when you go to the doctor and the nurse asks you to take off your clothes and put on the funny gown that leaves your bare ass hanging out.
It is not a pleasant feeling but you know you have to do it if you want to feel better.

I was driving this morning and the traffic was just horrific. I thought to myself “I’ve never seen it this bad and it is getting worse every year” and then it hit me:
Nothing is as good as it used to be.
The prices of houses, the taxes, the pollution, the congestion, the infrastructure crumbling. The city is slowly falling apart.

Los Angeles used to be a terrific city to live in but that has attracted more and more people and now we are losing what was making this place so attractive in the first place. The city is falling victim to its own success.

So let’s go back to my story.
After finishing my six month training at ITT I was ready to get a job, get off welfare and do what I planed to do when I defected.
Be an American!

There was a tiny problem though; I couldn’t get past the job interview stage.
For the first time in thirteen month I had a shadow of doubt in my soul.
I was doing something wrong and I did not know what.
A very good friend of mine asked me one day: “Do you really want to get a job?”
Of course I wanted a job, a real life, a future. I wasn’t planning to spend the rest of my life on welfare.
“So then, - she said to me – you have to get a hair cut, trim your beard, get yourself into a white shirt, a tie and a two piece suit.”
(You see at that time I was looking like Che Guevara dressed up for a disco night club :)

I did not understand what my looks had to do with my job interview but I was getting pretty desperate so I transformed myself into a businessman look alike and bingo!
The first job interview I got my first solid offer.

I sometimes wonder how my life would have been if I didn’t make that first compromise.
But that it is pretty much academic now. I took the compromise, I cut my hair and as the mythical Samson with my hair I lost some of my magic.

The reward was an amazing job in the entertainment industry, with an excellent salary and a wide open opportunity for growth and advancement.

I thought that my happiness would soar at this point but instead I found myself slipping down on a slope of fatigue, stress and depression.
Some how I have replaced my dreams with a routine: Make more money, buy more things, pay more bills.
Some how I was making more and more compromises in every aspect of my life, until life itself had become pointless.

My belly was getting fat but my soul was getting lost.
I was feeling like one of those guinea pigs in the round running wheel, running faster and faster but with no finish line insight, with no big price to win, with no victory celebration, joust running in circles.
Success for me was coming at a higher price than I expected.

So I wonder if success always comes at a price.
I wonder if other people had to compromise in their lives like I did.
Am I alone in screwing up my life or did some of you out there have a similar story?

Friday, March 6, 2009

The accidental Buddha

If life in a communist country can be summarized as “living in a zoo cage” capitalist life would be then most appropriately described as “the wild life”
And the wild life has but a simple rule: You don’t hunt you don’t eat!
That means that if you are a new comer to the capitalist jungle and you have no “pack” to protect you, no friends and no relatives to teach and support you, your only help is your welfare check. Until you learn how to hunt you have to live on the crumbs falling from the table of plenty.
Welcome to America!

I spent the first thirteen month of my free life on welfare.
One month, navigating the bureaucratic paper work required for all political refugees coming into the country and just being blown away, dazed and confused of pretty much everything America was; Six month to learn the English language and six month in an ITT vocational school.

I remember running out of money at the end of one month. The hardest month ever.
All I had in the fridge was a couple of slices of bread, a quart of milk and three large potatoes, one for each day until the welfare check would come in.
I would have a piece of toast and a glass of milk in the morning then I would go to school. I would come home at five, bake a potato and eat it with a cube of butter.
I would do my home work and then just lay in bed in order to conserve my energy.
I have never had a harder time in my entire life before or after that.

I have left behind everything I ever had: The loved ones, my family, my friends all my possessions, my language and culture, my country my memories.
Here I was a stranger in a strange country leaving on welfare, three potatoes away from starvation; but I will tell you something stranger even than that.
Those thirteen month of my life as hard as they were, they were the happiest days of my adult life.

I would wake up every morning with a smile on my face. And that piece of toast and that glass of milk would be the best breakfast I could ever want. I wouldn’t have changed it for caviar and foie-gras, because you see those thirteen months I was living on dreams.
Those thirteen months were the months of infinite possibilities. Those thirteen month were the month of miracles and wonder.

I have never been so focused in my life. I have never had such a clear vision, such a purpose and drive.
I was the complete master of my destiny and like a conductor conducting a symphony every note was in perfect harmony every action and every thought was intertwining in a flawless melody.
I had nothing to loose and everything to gain. I was the fountain of my joy and happiness; I was the spring of infinite hope and inspiration; I was complete.

I was walking the streets of Hollywood an enlightened Buddha and I didn’t even knew it.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

The human zoo

As some of my old friends may already know, I was born in Eastern Europe at a time when communist rule was in power and the Berlin Wall stood tall.
Life in a communist country would be difficult to describe in a single post, but to give you a general idea of what life was like behind the iron curtain, imagine living your life in a zoo as a zoo inmate.

You have your assigned cage, which usually it is to small and quite uncomfortable.
You suffer of heat in the summer and cold in the winter and of course you have just enough space to move around in circles.

Food is scarce, never fresh and never appetizing, just barely enough to avoid starvation. Same goes for the health benefits. Everybody has them, but they are reduced at a minimum and it doesn’t do much on improving the quality of your life but rather just to keep you alive.

Since competition is gone, everybody has a paying job. There is no unemployment and if somebody doesn’t have a job, a job would be created for him.
Of course the pay is dirt, barely enough to survive, hence the general attitude of the workers is: “You pretend to pay us; we pretend to work for you.”

All other commodities are limited and inadequate and the way to acquire them is usually by waiting in line for your turn – or by learning how the system works and how to grease the proper wheels.

- Have you notice how emigrants have no problem navigating through the red tape and getting along with the bureaucratic system with no problems while the regular American is quite stunned and incapable to make any sense out of it?
It is years of training baby!
You may want to stick around and learn a thing or two since it is looking like we are heading for the socialist paradise at a rapid pace :)

Entertainment and spiritual life in the communist zoo revolves around but kissing the party leader “the father of the country” a God like figure that all bow to and adore. (More or less voluntarily.)
The scientific materialism is the philosophy of the party and everybody in the zoo has to feel, think, and act in accordance with the party line. “Reason” rules supreme!
All human thought and beliefs were to be dictated by specially appointed “scientific” comities.
The schools curriculum, the books you read the music you listen the radio and television, theatre, opera, ballet and film, all aspects of social, artistic and spiritual life serve “the common good”
Individuality – unless you are the leading elite – is reprimanded and crushed.

Art has to serve the people, goes the party line.
All that is deemed unnecessary, decadent, bourgeois and immoral is dutifully removed.
Picasso paintings are removed from museums because they are anatomically incorrect. Monet and Manet are removed for depicting decadent bourgeois life.
So one and so forth – (Foot note: Some how all of these “bad” influences end up in the party cadres houses!)

Church and religion are eliminated too. (The beloved leader doesn’t like competition!)
All believers are persecuted and if lucky enough not to end up in a jail or a labor camp, you would end up at the bottom of the social order as a genitor or unqualified manual laborer.

Life in the communist zoo is kind of boring and uneventful if you are a compliant and dumb animal but it is quite a drag if you dream of the wild and open spaces.
Being one of the “born wild” animals I had a hard time adapting with the subservient life. I couldn’t understand why the other inmates did not revolted and quietly accepted their faith and their master.

So I didn’t have much of a choice other than ending in a political jail or even worse in a mental institution. Part of the signing of The Geneva Convention for human rights, political prisons were abolished and all the prisoners were moved into mental institution for “reeducation.”

So my only remaining choice was to run for the border.

Monday, March 2, 2009

God concepts - Part 8

At a retirement home for blind people, three daring citizens decided to go to the Zoo.
Being blind, the Zoo management gives the three men a guided tour and the opportunity to meet some animals up close and personal.
After the visit the three adventurous blind men return to the retirement home full of wondrous excitement. All the other residents gather around to share the experience.
The three blind men begin telling the story of the Zoo visit starting with the first animal they encountered; the elephant.

- The elephant is a snake like animal. A big rubbery hose…
Said the first man, who obviously touched the trunk of the elephant.
- No, no, no! That is completely wrong. The elephant is a big and round animal like the trunk of a tree.
Interrupted the second man who touched the elephant by its leg.
- You both are complete idiots! – Interfered the third man who touched the tail of the elephant – You got it completely wrong. The elephant is a whip lashing rope like animal!

This is pretty much how the dialog between the Christian, Muslims, Buddhists and all the other theist people is going at this time. Of course we have the atheists who say the pink elephant doesn’t exist at all.
Pretty much we all are interested in proving the others wrong by supporting our own concept of God and never consider that we could be just as blind as the next person.
After all we all agree that there is only one God, so only one God concept would be true. Right?

Wrong!
God is not a concept. You can have as many concepts as you like. It makes no difference.
God is not a religion or a church either. You can have as many religions and churches as you want. It wouldn’t change what God is or is not, at all.
The bible is not God either. Nor are the Sutras the Torah or the Koran.
The holy texts are the story of the people and how they relate to God. They are a guide for the future generation not an object of cult, not an icon or idol for worship.

Who gave God to Moses?
Nobody. He found God in the mountains by himself.
Who gave enlightenment to Buddha?
Nobody. He found enlightenment meditating under the Bodhi tree.
Who gave Allah to Mohamed?
Nobody. I don’t know how he got it, I am not very good at religious history, but I bet he did not get it by studying the sacred texts. He found God by himself.

I searched for God for many years and after years and years of searching and studying all I got was bullshit! – OK, I got some wisdom too, but not God. Spiritual teachings are good as long as you don’t mistake the finger for the moon. Concepts are good maps to take you toward enlightenment but a crutch is only good if you can’t walk by yourself, after that it becomes an obstruction.
The only way to know God is to know God and the people that know God know that is the truth.

So my question to you is: Who gave you God?
You’ve been conned my friend! Give it back and start looking, really looking.
– Hint: try looking inside for a change :)