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Friday, September 17, 2010

...So close but yet so far apart


Two arms, two legs, two eyes,
a mouth, two ears a beating heart.
You grow, you play, you learn.
And everything is fine.
(For the most part)
Time flies
Another year.
First day of school
The start of something wonderful.
First love, first date, first kiss.
First doubts and then a broken promise
The dreams, the love, the lies
...So close but yet so far apart.
A lesson learned.
New rules
An oath, a thought:
Be smart and play it cool
Another spring, another school
Another style, a new disguise
Still trying to look cool and wise.
Still acting like a fool
The job, the work and the commute
Long hours, politics, promotion
The finer things in life and all the loot
you ever dreamed of getting
The modern life in constant motion
That inner voice disturbing and unsetting
A new attempt, another start
...So close but yet so far apart
The loneliness.
A desperate act.
Another lonely stranger or a spouse?
The social contract
New drapes, the kids, a bigger house.
Still wondering: What if...?
The shorter years in hyper speed
The thinning hair, the body getting stiff
So rich, so wise but still in need
Still looking for the perfect deed
The wining hand, the highest prize
You keep on saying:
“Everything is fine”
But coming fast at you the finish line
No arms, no legs, no eyes,
no mouth, no ears, no beating heart.
...So close but yet so far apart

Friday, July 16, 2010

Things you should teach your children

Live fully every moment. Enjoy every day of your life. Once they pass they never come back.
Success is not measured in money, power or fame. The true measure of your success in any endeavor or relationship is your happiness.
Banks and credit cards are not in the business to help you. Banks and creditors are in the business to make a profit out of you.
It is better to have an intelligent enemy than a stupid friend.
The friends you have are more important to your success in life than money or education.
Withholding love does not protect you from pain, it just isolate you from happiness.
Forgiveness frees the one that forgives not the one that is forgiven.
In a bad relationship there are no winners and losers. In a bad relationship there are only losers.
If you live like a hero or like a coward, if you succeed or fail, in the end we all die
And the most important thing you should tell your children:
I LOVE YOU

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

How to cross a river

Early in the morning a poor fisherman is walking to his boat.
On the bank of the river, looking like a Buddha statue covered in the golden light of the dawn, a young monk is deep in his meditation.
As the fisherman approaches, the monk gets up and starts crossing the river, walking on the surface of the water.
Seeing him, the fisherman stops and nods.
- No, no, no! You are doing it all wrong!
The young monk turns around surprised and looks at the raggedy fisherman.
- Come, follow me. I will show you how to do it. Says the fisherman.
The monk follows him in silence to the old wooden boat where they get in.
The fisherman picks up the oars and starts rowing. When the boat reaches the other shore of the river, the fisherman says.
- See monk. This is the proper way to cross the river.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

First Blood

I was talking to my daughter, trying to explain to her what the big fuss was about the Toyota case hearings in congress.
I explained to her that one of the things that determined our departure from the animal kingdom was the use of tools and how the history of human kind and the advancement of technology and science are closely intertwined.

We started using tools as a way of enhancing our physical abilities.
We used them to develop agriculture and manufacturing and then at the beginning of the 19th century something unusual happened: The first industrial revolution.

Tools not only enhanced our human abilities; tools started replacing humans all together.
For the first time in the human history machines took jobs away from the humans.
Then the “electronic” revolution took place.
Machines start performing mental task that once were reserved only for humans.
We are again being replaced by the machines in controlling all aspects of our life.

But there was a “holy” grail reserved only for humans: The decision making
Although the machines with their lightning speed and almost unlimited computation powers were doing all the number crunching, ultimately we were the ones that took the final decisions and kept everything under control... until now.

Toyota is saying that the computer had a glitch but don’t let the news full you.
The computer did not malfunction. The computer did exactly what was programmed to do; run the car at optimum performance.
It was the human that couldn’t keep up with the technology

Things are changing again. But this time is different. This time the machines are replacing us in the decision making process.
Basically we are not needed anymore. We humans have become obsolete.
Remember 2010: - They have drawn the first blood…

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

The speed of Life

I remember going on vacation to Hawaii for the first time…
The first two days drove me nuts.
Everybody moved too slowly.
That got to win the race attitude I acquired in Hollywood was missing.
The people, the life there, were too sluggish for me.
It felt like they had no destination, no purpose in life, no desire.
It bugged me tremendously.

It was about the third day at a cross road when a local waited for me, smiled and signal me to go ahead – although clearly he had the right of way.
I screeched my tires and made the left turn to a pineapple plantation road.
It was a glorious evening and the smell of ripe pineapple was intoxicating.

It hit me like a ton of bricks: “YOU, are on an island! Where the hell do you think you are going?”
When you are on an island no matter how fast you go the best that you can achieve it is to arrive back at the point of departure.
There is no destination - you are there.

The road ended and in front of me the magnificent blue ocean opened its infinite canopy.
The sun was setting and it was painting the sky in amazing Technicolor hues of gold, purple and red.
I stood there in awe and I realized:
Life is an island –you are already there.
From that day I was never in a hurry again.

Although the Hawaiians natives never tell the tourist; all the roads on the island have a speed limit:
“Happiness”

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The "Grown up" myth

As a child you only have one job – you are expected to grow up.
The idea of staying forever young was not even considered – although right now it doesn’t seem that absurd to me anymore.
As a child you were expected to transform continuously, to reach that magical point of adulthood.
Once you have passed that imaginary line – some time around 18 – you had arrived.
From then on you were a “grown up”; an adult. Job done! Mission accomplished!

Or at least that what we thought… but wait! – Life seems to have a different agenda.
That Promised Land, where you have finished growing up, where you know everything and are in control of everything, never materialized.
Like it or not, life keeps throwing you new problems and challenges.
Like it or not you have to learn new tricks and keep changing.

The idea that you are a “grown up” was a pure myth.
You are and will always be “growing up”…

I remember starting up my work as a video engineer – one of my many career moves.
I had to clean and vacuum behind the equipment racks – not a job for a college graduate, I thought.
“You have to pay your dues” – They told me – “We all start like this but one day when you will become a “senior” engineer you will have your own new, guy going through the “initiation”.

Well, I am the “senior” engineer and that day never came.
Instead of becoming the “accomplished” engineer – that fountain of knowledge for the new generation – I have become obsolete.
The new –computerized – generation is looking at me not like a source of wisdom but like an antiquated, obsolete relic.

After the “midlife” crisis I thought I will finally arrive to that “golden” age in every man’s life.
That age of total fulfillment, of stability, of meaning and reward.
That never happened.

I have no idea who I am and where I’m supposed to go.
It is that “unknown”, it is that “emotional storm”, that “emotional instability” that kills me.
I know I have to “reinvent” myself – the question is: Why, to what end?
To change just to survive?
Well, it seems logical, but to me to survive just to survive never had any meaning.

Without the “grown up” destination life seems just to drag on to its inevitable extinction without rhyme or reason.
We need to find another purpose for our “grown up” population.

The case against "HOPE" III

I was trying to define “worry” and “hope” and it occurred to me that they are brother and sister emotions.
Both “worry” and “hope” are unfounded expectations; one that things will get worse and the other that things will get better – some how.
And both “worry” and “hope” have the same hypnotic power to paralyze action.

I remember growing up under the communist rule.
Life was really hard; things were pretty bad and getting worse every day.
-It can’t get worse than this –people were saying – It is bound to get better.
But things never got better. Not by themselves.

The revolution happened only when there was no more hope left, when all worries and hopes melted into one unstoppable rage.
Action only happens when your worries turn into desperation - or your hopes change to enthusiasm.
Only when you get tired of doing nothing and waiting for things to change you will leave worry and hope behind and start acting.

This is the fundamental “law” of things.
There is no cause without effect and no effect without cause.
If you are not in control of your life somebody else is.
If you are not an “actor” in the “play” of life then you are a “spectator”

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The case against "HOPE" II

The New Colossus

Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame,
With conquering limbs astride from land to land;
Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand
A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame
Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name
Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand
Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command
The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.
"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she
With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tossed to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"

—Emma Lazarus, 1883


As an immigrant transplant to this land, I cherish this poem perhaps more than any of the other iconic American literary masterpieces.
It embodies, in few but powerful words, the hope of millions that have found refuge and shelter on these shores.

It was the search for life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness that forged this country.
It was that invitation to all people that aspire to freedom and the opportunity of a better life that made this country great.
It was the “American dream” that powered the most progressive social revolution in the human history.

But now the dream is dead.
We don’t have dreams anymore.
We are not guided by a vision of progress, of a better future,.
We are just dreaming of the “good old days” and the only thing we have is the “hope” that things will get better again.

But things do not get better on their own.
Left to their own devices things just crumble and fall.
Hope without a vision is just an empty promise; a narcotic for the masses.
Hope without action is hopelessness.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

The case against "HOPE"

I love reading.
I was 4 or 5 when I started reading.
I do not remember anymore, it was so long ago.
But I remember around 12 I read this book “The factory of death”
It was about the concentration camp at Auschwitz.

The images of death were so powerful that have etched in my memory forever.
People being round up like cattle. People being pushed in train wagons like cattle.
People being hoarded around like cattle. People being treated worse than animals.
People being killed and burned by millions.

I remember this incredible feeling of revolt.
I was mad; how could this have happened.
I wanted to scream at the pictures: Run! Fight!
But the people in the pictures seemed resigned to their faith, unable to run or fight.
That bothered me a lot too.

A year ago the country was on the verge of a revolution.
The people were raising their voices against the war, against the bail outs, against the deficit, against the government corruption and inability to govern.
Now everybody is quiet.

The war has just escalated with even more troops being sent in Afghanistan.
Another trillion of dollars have been thrown at the banks.
The government is more corrupt and more inept to function than ever.
Yet, everybody seems resigned.

Are we blind? Are we cowards? What is going on?
And then I realized something:
As with the Jewish people then and always:
We are not blinded and paralyzed by fear.
We are blinded and paralyzed by hope.

I know many people will not agree with my conclusion…
I sure would like to hear your interpretation of this apparent human “apathy”

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Waiting for Godot

About a year and a half ago I started this blog as a way to vent out my frustration with the way the political and economical situation in US was affecting my personal life.
Since then the blog has changed, becoming a way of personal therapy, self reflection and a forum for spirituality ideas debates.
It all comes down to basic Buddhist doctrine that a person is a continuously growing, evolving entity and that proper, positive growth ( enlightenment ), can be learned and applied in real life.

It is this practical spiritual approach that has attracted me in the first place to Buddhism.
(The idea that you have to live miserable in this life and get to heaven in the after life never seemed very fair to me.)
So after about a year and a half I went from frustration to meditation, from rage to understanding, from despair to hope.

Now it seems a new direction in my life is developing.
Hope is gone – at least the hope that some how “they” will get things straightened up.
I realize that “waiting” for things to change in better will not take me very far.
It is time for action.

I guess the lesson I have learned in the past couple of month is that if you are not in control of your life, somebody else is.
It is up to me, and of course up to you to ascertain and take back that control.
It is time to turn wisdom into action, dreams into reality.

… So if I am not spending that much time posting on my blog is because I am spending a lot of time taking care of the things I have neglected in the past.
I have shifted my priorities from a reflective, waiting mode to a clean up my life and start new directions, mode.

I hope you all are well and I thank you for being my friends and sharing your ideas and POVs with me.
I will see you on the blogosphere from time to time and keep you informed of the latest developments.
And of course I wish all of you good luck in all your endeavors.

PS: If anybody has any questions or subjects you want to talk about just drop me a comment and I will be more than glad to answer you.

Peace!

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Right vs. Happy

Would you rather be right or happy?
I know for many people this question will sound rather stupid.
(If it doesn’t sound stupid and actually it makes sense to you, you must be a married person.)
But the question doesn’t only apply to married couples; it is a question we face in all relationships, personal or business.

The status quo answer to that question is that we would rather be right – no matter the cost.
Having it “our way” it is a matter of principles and if “they” do not understand that we are “right” it is our duty to shove it down their throat.
Defending our position and opinions it is as American as freedom and apple pie.

But this is not always the case.
Take for example “dating”.

When we are dating a person our state of mind is not to have it “my way” but rather the other way around.
You could be a football fanatic but if the girl you love asks you to go to an opera or ballet instead, you would gladly ditch your football friends and you favorite team just to be with the one you love.
Same thing goes for her. She might think football is a stupid waste of time, but if she really loves him she will go to a football game and enjoy it too.

This might sound like a non genuine behavior, a trickery, a deceit to get you in good favors with the other person but people that have been truly in love know that that is not the case.
When you love someone you really want to make them happy and all compromises and sacrifices you make come naturally.
It is not anymore about being “right” or having it “your way”, it is about making the other person happy and being happy about them being happy.

Of course that quickly disappears when the relationship becomes official.
Once married we stop trying to make the other person happy and start fighting for what is “right”.
We don’t want it “their way” we want it “our way” and of course we are ready to battle for what we believe it is “right”.
The result: Bad relationships.

And that my friends it is the way things are.
We live in a world divided between “right” and “wrong”.
On one side we have the republicans on the other the democrats.
The religious people vs. the scientific community.
The pro life vs. the pro choice.
The environmentalist vs. the industrialists.
Us vs. them.
Of course “we” are always right and “they” are always wrong.

So are you ready to battle for that or would you rather be happy?

Monday, January 18, 2010

Chocolate Wisdom

If you are a religious person you regard and believe the religious texts as a true representation of the real world.
Same thing if you are a scientist; you believe the scientific texts are the representation of reality.
So naturally we believe there is a conflict between spirituality and science.
If one is right the other one has to be wrong and vice versa.

But let’s look at religion and science from another angle.
Let’s consider religion and science as not being a reflection of reality but rather a reflection of the people that wrote them – a reflection of their capacity of understanding and expressing reality.
Then religion and science are just two different points of view rather than right and wrong.

The world we live in is the result of our collective actions.
(I think both scientists and religious people would agree.)
Our actions are determined by our thoughts and our thoughts are determined by our belief system.
The fact that one believes in a spiritual, ideal, world or a material, scientific world, it is not purely academic.
What we believe determine our actions and ultimately our life experience.

This is why it is important to look at our beliefs.
This is what these posts are about.
Not about who is right and who is wrong but rather about understanding how our beliefs determine our behaviors.

Here is a story I read on the internet and I would like to share it with you.
And once again, this is not about being right or wrong but about opening your mind to new points of view and new possibilities.

Chocolate Wisdom

Once upon a time a group of former classmates, well established in their careers, got together during a class reunion.
They decided to go and visit an old college professor who was a source of inspiration for all of them.
During the visit the conversation devolved into a series of personal complaints about their lives, careers and relationships and how stressful things were.

While listening to their complaints the professor decided to offer everyone a cup of hot chocolate.
Coming back from the kitchen the professor brought a pitcher of hot chocolate and an assortment of cups and mugs.
Each of the cups was made of different materials. Some were of clay, metal, glass, crystal and porcelain. Some were very simple and others were very ornate. Some were very cheap and some were very expensive.
The old professor invited everyone to serve themselves.
When everybody had their cup in hand the professor shared his thoughts about the chocolate.

- Did you notice that all the fancy cups were chosen and only the modest ones were left at the table?
Even it might seem to you natural to choose the very best in life; this might be the source of all your problems and stress.
The quality of the cups you choose does not change the quality of the chocolate you drink.
What you really need is the pleasure and nutrition of the drink not the cup, but subconsciously you choose the fancy cups.
Life is the hot chocolate. The careers, jobs, and relationships, money and social status are just the cups.
The quality of your cups will never determine the quality of your lives.
The gift of life is free it is up to you to choose the cup you will receive it in.

Friday, January 15, 2010

There is no "IS"

How do we define reality?
How do we define what “is” is?
Obviously for an old fart like me the answer is simply “faith” but for my younger and educated audience that answer is not sufficient.
Logical, reasonable and a scientific explanations are the only views of the world and reality accepted.
But the problem with logic and reason is that you can not build any logic or reasonable argument on nothing.
You need some a priory foundation to start your argument.

About 2300 years ago, Euclid a Greek mathematician, stumbled on this rather unpleasant problem when he attempted to create a perfect mathematical system based on pure logic and reason.
He could prove almost everything mathematically except for 5 axioms or postulates that could not be proven.

For more than 2000 years Euclidian geometry was considered a true representation of “reality”, until 1823 when two young mathematicians Janos Bolyai and Nicolai Lobachevsky decided to challenge Euclid’s axioms and thus created a new geometry.
Using the same mathematical and logical principles as Euclid, the young mathematicians came to a totally different conclusion of what “is” is.
In this new geometry our “reality” was a curved space, nothing like Euclid had envisioned.

"It depends on what the meaning of the word "is" is.
If the - if the - if 'is' is and never has been, that is not - that is one thing.
If it means there is none, that was a completely true statement.”
Bill Clinton


So what happens if we challenge the scientific axiom that the world, reality, is material?
Afterwards nobody has ever proved that we live in a material world.
And no, Madonna doesn’t count.

Imagine that we have a pair of magic glasses that allow us to see reality at any scale we desire.
Imagine looking through these glasses at a piece of bread and a piece of cheese.
At first we would see a definitive difference of what bread is and cheese is.
Even when we increase the magnification to say, molecular level, we could still see what bread is and cheese is.
But magnify that vision at atomic level and suddenly there is no more bread or cheese.
At atomic level the cheese and bread disappear, the only thing we see are atoms.

Continue to look deeper and even the atoms will disappear.
Continue to look even deeper and matter, “mass” will disappear as well.
What remains when there is nothing to see is “is”.
What “is” is, it is not material at all.
Our material “reality” it is in fact just an illusion.

And no. this is not some new age Buddhist BS, even some open minded scientists have come to the same conclusion and there is a strong new current of scientific thought – see the string theory development – that challenges the material view of the world.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

There is no GOD

This is the story of two extraordinary, ordinary men.
To protect the innocent will just call them “Q” and “B”

B was an uneducated old man that believed in faith and spirituality and of course in an ideal world.
B believed in a higher being – he called “God”
He truly believed that this super man “God” was the creator of all men and everything else that existed and it was the key to life meaning

Q, on the other hand, was a very intelligent, educated young man, that believed in reason and science and of course in a material world.
Q believed that men and everything else were the result of evolution and natural transformation.
He believed that the super man everybody called “God” was just a fairy tale ignorant men invented to appease their fear of the unknown.

Frustrated by all the talk about “God” one day Q said to B:
- We have explored the known universe from the bottom of the oceans to the most remote galaxies and we have never seen any signs or met this “God” you are talking about. It simply does not exist and if you insist on your foolish belief I want you to show me a positive absolute proof of its existence.

So B started to look around for something that would proof “God’s” existence but not having that much of a scientific mind he couldn’t come up with any concrete proof of his existence.
Afterwords he was just a story teller dealing in comparisons and metaphors not in scientific data.
So finally after a long, strenuous and empty search B sat down and did the only thing he knew how to do. He wrote a story. It goes like this:

There is no “HUMAN”

This is the story of two extraordinary, ordinary human cells.
To protect the innocent will just call them “Q” and “B”

B was an uneducated old cell that believed in faith and spirituality and of course in an ideal world.
B believed in a higher being – he called “The Human”
He truly believed that this super cell “The Human” was the creator of all cells and everything else that existed and it was the key to life meaning

Q, on the other hand, was a very intelligent, educated young cell, that believed in reason and science and of course in a material world.
Q believed that cells and everything else were the result of evolution and natural transformation.
He believed that the super cell everybody called “The Human” was just a fairy tale ignorant cells invented to appease their fear of the unknown.

Frustrated by all the talk about “The Human” one day Q said to B:
- We have explored the known universe from the bottom of the foot to the most remote tips of hairs and we have never seen any signs or met this “Human” you are talking about. It simply does not exist and if you insist on your foolish belief I want you to show me a positive absolute proof of its existence.

So B started to look around for something that would proof “Human’s” existence but not having that much of a scientific mind he couldn’t come up with any concrete proof of his existence.
Afterwords he was just a story teller dealing in comparisons and metaphors not in scientific data.
So finally after a long, strenuous and empty search B sat down and did the only thing he knew how to do. He wrote a story. It goes like this:

There is no “CELL”

This is the story of two extraordinary, ordinary molecules.
To protect the innocent will just call them “Q” and “B”

B was an uneducated old molecule that believed in faith and spirituality and of course in an ideal world.
B believed in a higher being – he called “The Cell”
He truly believed that this super molecule “The Cell” was the creator of all molecules and everything else that existed and it was the key to life meaning

Q, on the other hand, was a very intelligent, educated young molecule, that believed in reason and science and of course in a material world.
Q believed that molecules and everything else were the result of evolution and natural transformation.
He believed that the super molecule everybody called “The Cell” was just a fairy tale ignorant cells invented to appease their fear of the unknown.

Frustrated by all the talk about “The Cell” one day Q said to B:
- We have explored the known universe from the bottom of the nucleus to the most remote tips of cilia and we have never seen any signs or met this “Cell” you are talking about. It simply does not exist and if you insist on your foolish believe I want you to show me a positive absolute proof of its existence.

So B started to look around for something that would proof “Cell’s” existence but not having that much of a scientific mind he couldn’t come up with any concrete proof of his existence.
Afterwords he was just a story teller dealing in comparisons and metaphors not in scientific data.
So finally after a long, strenuous and empty search B sat down and did the only thing he knew how to do. He wrote a story. It goes like this:

There is no “MOLECULE”

This is the story of two extraordinary, ordinary atoms.
To protect the innocent will just call them “Q” and “B”

…. To be continued.