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Friday, March 7, 2014

THE LIBERTY OF FREEDOM











What is freedom?
Is it a state  or just a state of mind?
The state and the state of mind define each other.
For to be free or enslaved you have to  know it first.
And to know it, first you have to be in one state or the other.

Are you free?
We all think we are free.
To think otherwise would be insanity.
Nobody accepts willingly to live a life of enslavement.
Therefore, we lie to ourselves and think of us as free.

You are as free as your means to overcome your limitations allow you to be.
May those limitations be physical or mental.
It is easy to see how that applies to the physical world.
Your freedom of movement, of having and doing things, is determined by your means.
What about your mental freedom? Your freedom of thinking?

You think your thoughts are free. Right?
Please stop reading this and pick up a piece of paper.
Write on it how cold fusion can be achieved or how cancer can be cured.
How about this: Can you write a novel or compose a symphony at will?
Nope. I didn’t think so. Neither can I.

Our minds are locked in the prison of reason.
Limited to a continuous internal mumbling and rambling.
Locked into a never ending loop of repetitions.
Fragments of songs, incoherent bits of thought and ideas.
We only rarely break out of that prison.

You might think your mind and thoughts are free but you are wrong.
Freedom is just an illusion created by the “what” and the “who” that are enslaving you.
You will not know your prison until you push for the boundaries of your freedom.
You will not know your freedom until you break those walls.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

THE TAO OF HOLLYWOOD III

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
And here are some pearls of wisdom from “THE TRUMAN SHOW”
 
“Christof: Truman! You can speak. I can hear you.
Truman: Who are you?
Christof: I’m the creator.
Truman: The creator of what?
Christof: A show - that gives hope and joy and inspiration to millions.
Truman: A show.  Then who am I?
Christof: You're the star.
Truman: Nothing was real.
Christof: You were real.  That's what made you so good to watch.”
 
“Christof: We accept the reality of the world with which we are presented.”
 
“Young Truman: I want to be an explorer, like the Great Magellan.
Teacher: [indicating a map of the world] Oh, you're too late! There's nothing left to explore! "
 
"Christof: If his was more than just a vague ambition, if he was absolutely determined to discover the truth, there's no way we could prevent him.”
 
“Sylvia: Look at what you've done to him!
Christof: I have given Truman the chance to lead a normal life. The world, the place you live in, is the sick place. “
 
“Christof: Truman, there's no more truth out there than in the world I created for you - the same lies and deceit.  But in my world you have nothing to fear. (suddenly angry) Say something, damn it!  You're still on camera, live to the world...!
Truman: In case I don't see you--good afternoon, good evening and good night.”
 
 
There are so many themes so many questions you can draw from this movie but I would like to pick just one question for today:
What is freedom?
 
Is Truman a free man or not?
Are you, WE, free or not, and if yes, then why?
Obviously first response would be “Truman is not a free man because he lives in a cage.”
But is that really true? Is it the cage that defines our freedom or something else?
 
A couple of years back I took my kids to Yellowstone Park.
One day we meet a very nice family from Luxemburg
We struck out a conversation and among other things they confess they were completely overwhelmed by Yellowstone in particular and United States in general.
It was easy to understand their astonishment considering that the Yellowstone Park was larger than their country.
(For the American readers Luxemburg is a small European country, it has a population of 524,853 (as of October 2012) and an area of 2,586 square kilometers (998 sq mi), making it one of the smallest sovereign nations in Europe)
Imagine how would a citizen of Vatican feel J
 
We all live in a cage, we just don’t see it that way, because we never test the limits of our cages.
But try to push the limits and sooner or later you’ll find out that you are trapped.
In truth we all are bound to this rock floating in space that we call Earth.
Is a prison inmate less free than a person outside of the prison?
Is a citizen of Luxemburg less free than a US citizen?
How big, or small the cage have to be to determine if we are free or not?
 
Obviously the size of the physical space we live in is not a measure of our freedom.
The Luxembourg family visiting Yellowstone were enjoying the same freedom as my family.
They were not limited to the physical space of their country.
So Truman was in fact a free man – He got out afterwards – He was not limited to the confines of his space.
 
I would like to go to Luxemburg.  The question is; am I free to go to Luxemburg?
Obviously you would say "yes", but I would say "no".
I do not have the money to buy plane tickets or to pay for a hotel room and the other trip expenses.
And even if I had the money I wouldn’t have the time. I’ll still have to go to work to pay the bills. – I guess more money would solve that too.
 
So it looks like freedom is actually determined by the psychological and physical means one has to overcome his limitations.
Even people in prison at the present time, If they are connected to high enough people in power can be pardoned and set scot free.
It happens all the time when State Governors and even the US Presidents pardon hard core criminals and crooks, although we don’t hear much about it in the press.
 
That means that actually some people in prison at the present time are more free than you and I, since they have more means to overcome their limitations than you and I.
And I know that, that, might hurt your ego and your sense of self worth and I should keep quiet about it and not rock the boat, but like Truman would say:
 
“Somebody help me, I'm being spontaneous!”
 
 

Monday, February 24, 2014

A VALUABLE LESSON II

What is value?
Is value a quality intrinsic to the object, action or person, or is it a quality dictated by outside factors?
Is it your personal worth determine by who you are or determined by who people think you are?
Is value a universal constant or is it a variable that fits our needs?
What is your worth? How do you quantize that value?
 
Have you ever look at a child’s treasure trove?
It is the most worthless pile of junk you’ll ever see in one place. It is a total random collection of, pebbles, bits of colored glass, bits of cloth, strings, marbles of all size and color, dried leaves and flowers, miniature toys or parts and pieces of toys, beads, pieces of jewelry, trinkets that should belong in the trash can and anything else you would love to throw away.
What value would you put on a child treasure chest?
So when did you threw away your childhood treasure trove?
When did you lost the sense of wonder and joy?
 
We are born without our wants but certainly we are born with our needs.
A study done a long time ago on child development discovered that without love, affection and human contact a new born will wither and die. I don’t understand why as human being we had to do research on that, I thought everybody knew it, everybody was born with it, but then again I am not a scientist I don’t need an explanation for the way I feel.
I look at my little one cuddled up in her bed with her “blankie” a torn piece of her old blanket.
It doesn’t do anything to protect her but it gives her what she needs. The feeling of safety and security.
 
When did we lose the need for love and affection, for the comfort and warm of the human touch?
When did we exchange it for Face book and Twitter?
When did success became more important than our needs?
When did we exchange joy and wonder for the rat race?
When did we abandon the little child inside in exchange for the career professional?
When did we exchange our “blankies” for check books and credit cards?
 
But most important why?
What is value?
How do you measure it?
Have you more riches than the child’s treasure trove?
What’s your worth?

Friday, February 21, 2014

ON SUFFERING V

Student: What is enlightenment?
Buddha: The end of suffering.”


If there is a place in this universe that can be called hell that would be right here and right now.All of imaginable tortures possible, physical and mental, all the cruelty and injustice possible are here.I could give you a thousand examples, wars, genocide, famine, plagues you name it, but today we will keep close to home, we will talk about divorce, a seemingly benign affliction  until you get to know it firsthand. No I have never been divorced and I hope I’ll never be.






So this is the story of a guy named Joe.On the surface Joe was a happily married man but things aren’t always as they appear. One day a small quarrel with his wife ended up in a big fight and Joe moved out of the house. I was caught in the middle of this family drama and trying to patch things up and I was close to find a compromise when the devil (read lawyer) came into the scene and she promise to take Joe to the cleaners. After that all hell broke loose.

Joe was not a very health conscious person. He was a meat and potato kind of guy. He drink and smoke a lot, he never exercised and he worked way, way, to many hours at the office. I am telling you all this because as the divorce progressed and things got more and more nasty, the stress and anxiety started affecting his health. At the worst point he got hives the size of dollar coins all over his body. His doctor told him that he will die if he continued on that path and put him on disability, medication, a regiment of exercise and a strict diet.

With his salary slashed to a quarter of what he was making, Joe had to move into a small guest house a friend offer him at a discount price. He had to return his expensive car lease, let his expensive lawyer go and basically give up his life in the fast lane for a very modest existence. The final day of the trial (did I mention the judge was a woman too?) I couldn’t be in court. So as soon I got out of work I rushed to his place. I was very concern, many times I thought he is going to commit suicide or do something stupid like OD himself to death, so I rushed to him ASASP.

I found Joe in the backyard, barbequing, spatula on one hand, cold beer on the other, cigarette hanging from his lip. He saw me and gave me the largest most genuine smile I ever seen. He hugged me like I was lost at sea for twenty years “How are you my friend?” he greeted me.“How am I? How are you? How did it go?”“Fine – he replied – she took everything but I don’t have to pay her alimony or anything.”And then he said to me “This is the happiest day of my life. It is over”

I realized at that moment that all that pain and suffering he went trough was a product of his mind of his imagination. He was not suffering for losing his once loved woman, or his house, money or material things. He was suffering because he didn’t have control over his life, his destiny, anymore, he was suffering because he didn’t know what the outcome would be. Once the drama was over and an outcome established, the suffering was gone.Although he had lost everything he was the happiest man in the world. He was free from the uncertainty, from the fear of an uncontrollable future. He was back in control, at least for the moment.

It is this capacity of the human mind to imagine the future, of anticipating thing that are yet to happen, that creates the imaginary hell of our suffering. And that hell exist only because our uncertainty.I found myself many time in that place where my destiny seemed like a ran away train ready to derail at any moment and always, no matter how bad the outcome was, in the moment of the coming to a final conclusion, the pain was gone.

So I realized that the way to deal with this kind of problem is to imagine the worst possible outcome and fully accept it as an already fact. It is in this acceptance that you let go of your suffering.
I
t is in the acceptance of your uncertainty that you find inner peace. It is in the acceptance that you are not in control of the things happening to you, or the people around you but only of the way you react to these things or these people.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

THE TAO OF HOLLYWOOD II

Here’s a good one:
 
I'd like to share a revelation that I've had during my time here.
It came to me when I tried to classify your species and I realized that you're not actually mammals.
Every mammal on this planet instinctively develops a natural equilibrium with the surrounding environment but you humans do not. You move to an area and you multiply and multiply until every natural resource is consumed and the only way you can survive is to spread to another area.
There is another organism on this planet that follows the same pattern. Do you know what it is? A virus. Human beings are a disease, a cancer of this planet. You're a plague and we are the cure.”
 
Agent Smith – The Matrix
 
As much as I love Agent Smith (The Wachowski brothers that wrote the script) I have to be a prick and burst his bubble – Mammals are defined as bearing live offspring milk feeding animals - if I remember correctly from my years of schooling. So No Mr. Smith, we are mammals, period.
But you have a good point; the way we treat our environment, and for that matter the way we treat other human beings as well is absolutely appalling and  totally objectionable by any intelligent being.
 
I wander myself all my life why we do the things we do. Why do we hurt other people, especially the people we love. I couldn’t find a reasonable explanation for it so I just went on with my life, which paraphrasing the great philosopher Homer came out like this:
Mistake… doh! …Mistake… doh! …New Mistake… doh! …Other mistake… doh! …And so on.
(That is Homer Simpson in case you are not the TV watching type)
After years of maturing and meditation I came to the only logical explanation to this behavior.
We are not as smart as we think we are. As species we are just smart enough to create problems but not to avoid them.
 
So trying not to make any more mistakes was doomed to failure from the get going.
Creating problems, getting into trouble is not accidental, it is endemic to who we are as species.
As the great philosopher Forest Gump put it “stupid is as stupid does”
The question is not if or not we are going to make more mistakes in the future. And by we I don’t mean you and I but the politicians, the scientist and the leaders that we look up.
We will continue our path of blunders no matter how hard we will try to avoid them.
The only remaining question is how many more mistakes are we going to make.
And by we I mean you and I. And the answer is:
AS MANY ASPOSSIBLE

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

THE TAO OF HOLLYWOOD


I know, when you think of Hollywood you don’t think about enlightenment, you think more of superficiality and sleaze, but if you dig deep enough you will find out some pearls of wisdom even in the Hollywood movies.
I know what you are thinking right now:  “Why should I have to dig when I have the internet at my finger tips, with billions and billions of bits of information”

Well as we very well know that is a misnomer. The internet doesn’t have billions and billions bits of “information” it has billions and billions of bits of bits.
If you do not know what a “bit” is you can Google it. You will get back 624 millions of results.
Is that “information” is that what you were looking for, what you need? Of course not.

So this is the irony of the new information technology. We know so much that we don’t know anything anymore.
You want that “diamond in the rough”? Well you still have to dig for it. More than ever.
But I digress, here is some Hollywood wisdom I encounter in a recent movie.

“Fear is not real.
The only place that fear exists is in our thoughts of the future.
 It is a product of our imagination, causing us to fear things that do not at present and may never exist. That is near insanity.
Do not misunderstand me; danger is very real, but fear is a choice.
We are all telling us a story, and that day mine changed.”

From: AFTER EARTH

Hope you like it. If you do I will post some more pearls of wisdom from Hollywood movies.

PS: If you have a favorite quotation from a movie please don’t be intimidated, share it with us,

Thank you !

Monday, February 17, 2014

A VALUABLE LESSON

There comes a point in your life when you realize what really matters, what never did, and what always will...



Paraphrasing Punit Ghadge

What is value?
Is value a quality intrinsic to the object, action or person, or is it a quality dictated by outside factors?
Is it your personal worth determine by who you are or determined by who people think you are?



What is the value of a bottle of water?
How much would  pay for a bottle of water; one dollar, ten dollars, a hundred dollars?
Would you pay a thousand or a million dollars for a bottle of water?
What is the value of a bottle of water?
Is it an intrinsic quality to the bottle of water or is it dictated from outside?
If you were lost in a desert and die of thirst would you pay a million dollars for a bottle of water?
When you buy something you need do you get poorer or richer?
When you don’t buy something you need do you get richer or poorer?
 
If you had ten million dollars in the bank would you consider yourself rich? (considering ten million being enough to be considered rich)
If a person has ten million dollars in the bank but he would get stranded on a deserted island with no way to access his money, would you consider him still being rich?
If you had ten million dollars buried in the back yard but didn’t know about it would you be a rich man or not? 
Is  money that you have ore many that you spend that make you rich?
 
If a person lives a thrifty, cheap life, and saves every penny to become a millionaire would he be a rich man?
If a person with live a rich, opulent life on borrowed million dollars would he be a rich or poor person?
If the thrifty man would die with millions of dollars in his bank and the other would die with millions of dollars in debt would you still consider them as rich and poor?
Are money you will never spend still yours?
Would you rather die rich or poor?

What is value?
What is your value?
Is value a quality intrinsic to the object, action or person, or is it a quality dictated by outside factors?
Is it your personal worth determine by who you are ore determined by who people think you are?

Have you find any value in this blog post?
Would you tell me why, or why not?

Saturday, February 15, 2014

DISSECTING LIFE II

You can dissect a bird to the last bone, feather and strand of muscle and you can learn everything about each little piece, each part of the marvelous creature but in the end you would have missed the most important thing about the bird.
The essence of the bird it is not in its feathers and bones, not in its parts but in that subtle and  invisible magic that takes place when all the parts work together.
The essence of the bird can only be found in its flight.
 It is the flight that gives meaning to the bird.
 
You can look at life, your life or just life in general.
You can marvel at the people, places and things but you wouldn’t know anything about life.
People places and things are just parts.
They are the stage, the background, the props and the actors into a larger play.  
It is in that invisible connection, in the interaction of people and things that the magic of life is created, that gives life its meaning.
It is in that context and that context only that your life has meaning, could have meaning.
 
I am sitting here in front of my computer, connected to millions of people but in essence I am alone.
Is this technology a bridge that unites us or the wall that separates us?
Is this the path to a higher meaning of life or the path to a meaningless existence?
 
We live in a civilization of things not one of meanings.
Without meanings we become objects, parts of a soulless machine that produces garbage, that pollutes and destroys the nature that is the cradle of life, the cradle of the human species
You can dissect life to its minute parts roles and players.
You can study sociology, economy, psychology and all the other ologyes but you will not find the meaning of life. 
 
The meaning of life is this.
 You sitting in front of your computer connected to millions of people but in essence alone.
It is that it is.

Friday, February 14, 2014

DISSECTING LIFE

MIT did a very interesting study some time ago. They took a bunch of students from different countries gave them a list of words like, carrots, cabbage, lettuce, rabbit, cow, goat etc and asked them to form pairs but didn’t give them any other instructions. What they found out was quite interesting and relevant but not surprising at all.
The students from the western civilized countries, US, UK, France, Germany etc. all without exception made pairs of words based on their classification e.g. Carrots and lettuce, cow and goat, wolf and tiger etc, while the students from the Easter civilized countries, India, China, etc. made pairs based on relationships like; rabbit and carrot, grass and cow, etc.

This might not be relevant to you but to any student of Buddhism this is  the basis on which the barriers and obstacles in assimilating the Buddhist teachings are based.
We have learn to understand and rationalize the world by dissecting it into pieces and labeling everything in neat groups and categories. This is a very good way of inventorying the world but a very poor way of understanding its function.

Point and case the difference between Eastern and Western medicine.
The Western medicine sees the human body as a collection of parts, therefore we have educated our doctors to specialize in the respective parts. We have a doctor for the eyes, one for the hart, one for the feet and so on.  Respective to this view a disease is nothing but a part going bad and therefore the treatment is fixing or replacing the bad part.

The eastern doctors regard the human body as a whole organic, integrated and cohesive organism.
A disease is seen as a dysfunction, breaking of balance and harmony of the whole human body, as the elements not working properly together causing the decay or breaking of a part or parts of the system. Respectively, then the cure is to fix the broken part but make the system work back in harmony which in terms will heal the broken elements.

This becomes vital – literally – when you are facing a terminal illness because the symptomatic treatment of a disease – actually the symptomatic treatment of anything – causes in most cases the aggravation of the problem rather than solving it.

This model of understanding the world, and I am addressing here the Western reader, becomes a major obstacle on one’s journey to enlightenment and it deserves a closer look and further understanding.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

IMPERMANENCE

   There is this old Jewish tale about king Solomon, it goes like this.
   Everything in the old kingdom was going smoothly and everything was quiet, too quiet king Solomon thought. Idle hands look for trouble so to spice things up he called his most trusted friend, advisor and  vizier to the kingdom and said:
-          I heard about this magical ring that can change sorrow into joy and a smile into a frown. I want you to find it for me and bring it.
The vizier took off and for weeks crisscross the kingdom in search of the ring but with no result.
He returned to the king and told him that such ring did not exist.
    The king faked an upset temper and told the vizier he did not look hard enough. So the vizier took off again  and this time vow to himself that will not return without the ring.
    Years went by, the vizier traveled all over the globe and still couldn’t find the ring.
At the same time the king grew sadder every day thinking how foolish his request was and that he will not see his best friend ever.
    One day in a faraway land the vizier stopped for the night at a blacksmith house and talking to the blacksmith told him about the ring story. The blacksmith laughed and told the vizier that he has the magic ring and in the morning it will give it to him.
Then he went to his shop and fashion a copper ring and inside the ring he inscribed some words.
In the morning the blacksmith presented the ring to the vizier and told him that the magic of the ring will be only preserved if nobody but the king will look at it.
    So the vizier took the ring put it in his purse and set sail back to Jerusalem.
    When the king found out of the return of the vizier his hart filled with joy. Finally his best friend and adviser has returned. He rushed to embrace him and shade tears of joy. But when he thought that his joy couldn’t be more complete the vizier told him that he had found the magical ring.
   The king took the ring and read the inscription inside it, it said:
   “THIS TOO SHALL PASS” and his smile turned into a frown.
 
   One of the biggest problems we face as humans is the impermanence of the world we live in and our own mortality. I remember when my daughter was born, now she is ready to go to college.  It hurts to think that my little girl is gone and at the same time it fills me with excitement seeing her turning into a young woman.  Of course I wish I could stop or turn back time but I know that is not possible. And even if I could I know she wouldn’t like it. She wants to grow up, to leave school behind and be independent – I hardly wait for her to find out about paying the bills and doing the taxes J
 
   So we humans are funny that way: We want the cake and eat it too. We want things to grow, evolve get better but at the same time we hate change when it doesn’t go our way.
Change is inevitable and as every cloud has a silver lining also every joy has build in it the potential for sorrow. Every beginning has an end, every disaster hides new opportunities, every up has a down and every gain a loss.
 
I have learned to accept the inevitability of change and instead of fighting it I have learned to look forward at the new things, the new adventures that awaits in my life. Right now I am contemplating my retirement years – FREEDOM! Of course you my say but what are you contemplating after that?
Death. The greatest of all human adventures. Trust me you haven’t experienced nothing yet!

Monday, February 10, 2014

THE UNDESIRABLE DESIRE



One of most common misconceptions in the Buddhist philosophy stems from the poor translation and interpretation of Buddha’s description of suffering causation. (The second noble truth.)
I am talking about the well accepted and worn out phrase “ The cause of suffering is desire”
Here a much better  expolanation on Wiki: The second noble truth is that the origin of dukkha can be known. Within the context of the four noble truths, the origin of dukkha is commonly explained as craving or thirst (Pali: tanha) conditioned by ignorance (Pali: avijja).”

So a better, closer to the original meaning translation would be:
"The cause of suffering is ignorant desire."

Desire is not bad, nor is it good as all things are neutral. Only human action caries moral value.
You can desire world peace or a better life for your children. I myself desire more knowledge and I take every opportunity to learn more. Desire is not a bad and it is not the cause of suffering, therefore the elimination of desire is not the solution for ending suffering.

The followers of the percept of eliminating desire, also known as the ascetic or yogi path, go to extremes in renunciation all human pleasures and desires.  The problem is that their desire not to desire is as bad as any ignorant desire can be – maybe even worst. So in the end they do not attain either enlightenment nor liberation from suffering. To understand why, is so let’s look at the mechanism of desire in action.

Here how the mechanism of ignorant desire works:
(You can take any human desire, money, possession, sex, power, influence, fame or anything that may fancy you and it will all work the same.) I will use money as an example since money is widely considered the root of all evil.
If a person desires let’s say a million dollars and pursues that endeavor the act itself is not evil or bad.
If the reason of the endeavor is not to acquire the money but the “high” the “rush” that comes with the acquiring the money then the result of the experience will not be the fulfillment of the material need but rather the creation of the "ignorant desire" or “craving” for even more money.

The mechanism is exactly the same as for the drugs addiction. After the initial high we will search a new high that can only be achieved by a higher dose. Obviously this is a losing proposition because the person that “craves” money doesn’t “nee” a fix amount of money he “desires” more money, and more cannot be enough ever. The final result can only be desaster.

Fixing the problem by eliminating the desire it is an ignorant and ineffective approach to the problem.
You cannot fix a problem by treating the symptoms. In most cases you can only make it worse.
It is for that matter that we will never win the war against drugs, poverty or terrorism.
But let’s not diverge. The problem with ignorant desire is that through ignorant desire we look for fulfillment in the material world, outside of ourselves. Self fulfillment can be only found through true enlightenment. And only true enlightenment will liberate ourselves from the addictions of  our ignorant desires. The enlightened person does need outside props to make him happy or rich. He is the source of happiness and wealth.

The wise person wants only what he needs and doesn’t need what he wants.
And that is the gist of it.

Saturday, February 8, 2014

ON SUFFERING IV


Thirty five hundred years ago the man we know today as Buddha started on a journey of enquiry and discovery. His goal: To understand the causes of suffering and to find a solution to liberate human kind from this affliction
His teachings where revolutionary and spread across the world and today it is considered one of the main religions and philosophies of the world.

Today, thirty five hundred years later we still live in a world riddled with pain, fear, anxiety and depression.
What happened? Where did we go wrong? Are the Buddhist teaching still relevant today and if it is so how come the world, and specially the places where Buddhism is the main religion, are so screwed up?

To answer that question we have to understand the Indian society where and when Buddha lived.
But for the modern people of today that will take a long stretch of imagination.
I grew up on a farm with no electricity, telephone, radio, TV or indoor plumbing and I still have a hard time imagining how Buddha lived.

Three thousand years ago the life expectancy was about 40, and death was a daily companion.
A cut, a flu or any disease could spell the end of life at any given moment. Life was a struggle for the daily meal a fight for survival. No wonder Buddha identified disease, getting old and dying as first (the obvious) sources of human suffering.
But are illness, aging and death as relevant today to human suffering as they were three thousand years ago?

Life expectancy in USA is around 79 (and that is not the highest in the world)
We live an active and healthy life long after our retirement age (65 in USA) and we are expecting that life expectancy to increase even more in the next decades. So are we living with the same fears of disease and dying as the people three thousand years ago? I think not.

Although the cases of suffering noted by Buddha are still valid, their balances and dynamics  have changed and shifted dramatically. Of course there are still people afraid of diseases but that is usually a mental condition. Of course we still have people afraid of getting old but they are usually Hollywood actors. Regular people like me and you don’t spend too much time worrying about it.
Yet we live in an era of stress, anxiety and depression. There are more people on drugs today than ever, both the legal and the illegal ones. Why is that? Why is suffering still so prevalent today?

The question is: Can we still use the Buddhist teachings the way they have been taught for thousands of years to alleviate our suffering or do we need to reinterpret them according to the new realities of our modern life?

This is the question that I would like to answer in my little blog and I invite you to be part of the discussion.

Thursday, February 6, 2014

ON SUFFERING III

But a question still remains:
If we can create our own suffering isn’t it true that we can also create our happiness?
If we can imagine a future full of problems and hardship, can’t we also imagine a future full of success and happiness?
If we can dwell in our past sorrow can’t we also dwell in our past joy?
If all things are equal, why is life suffering and not joy?
 
The answer my surprise you but the truth is that we are build that way.
We have a natural propensity for suffering we are wired from birth to favor negativity over positivity. Suffering is in our genes.
 
We are the dominant species on this planet. We do not have the power of the elephant, the speed of the cheetah or the teeth and claws of the tiger yet we have become the masters of tigers and elephants alike. It is our mind our reason and imagination that have made us survive and dominate the natural world.
It is our ability to recall the past and foresee the future that has given us the winning edge.
But that supremacy has a price tag attached to it.
 
Imagine life ten thousand years ago. Every day is a fight for survival. Every day could be your last day. Death is one step behind you or around the next corner waiting for you. Every day you are the hunter and the pray.
You see a thing on your path way: Is it a snake or is it a twig? If you get that answer wrong you could be dead. So here how our survival works. Given a choice, assume the worst.
And that has been encrypted in our genes every day for millions of years of our evolution.
 
So you may have asked yourself in the past what did I do that?
Why didn’t I asked for a raise, when I knew I deserved one?
Why didn’t I quit my job when the writing was on the wall?
Why didn’t I follow my dream and started my own business?
Why did I stayed in that bad relationship when I knew it was a mistake?
And the answer is that more powerful that your desire for success and happiness is the instinct of self preservation and protection.
 
Life is suffering, it is the price we had to pay to survive.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

ON SUFFERING II

 
We are the extension, the manifestation and the materialization of the infinite intelligence of the universe. In the creation we can see the perfection of God.
But our lives are our own creations, the extension and manifestation of our egos and in them we can see our imperfection and we experience our suffering.
Life is suffering not because it is so but because we make it so.
 
I now a man can spend his whole life in the torment of suffering without having anything to suffer about.
A jealous man married to a beautiful woman, needs no reason for his jealousy.
He will live his life of continuous torture and drag everybody around him in his nightmarish sickness.
It doesn’t matter that his is wife has never done anything to cause such pain. It doesn’t matter that she was totally devoted, faithful and loving to him. His jealousy is the nightmare created in his own mind and it will devour him like a disease.
 
It is our capacity of thinking and imagining things that do not exist and give them power over our emotions that creates suffering.
We can speculate about things that have not yet happened, of planning and worrying about a future that is not real yet and that my never come to fruition that gives us the power to create suffering out of nothing.
It is our capacity to remember things, to recall past events, past pain real or imaginary, our ability of dwelling in the sorrow of the “I should have, could have, would have”  that creates suffering out of nothing.
 
It is in the immaterial confines of our imagination that the poison of suffering is brewing not in the reality of our daily lives.
It is in the prison of reason that we create an imaginary past and future, that we create the stage where the bulk of our suffering drama takes place.
It is rarely that we found sorrow in the moment of here and now.
 
Life is suffering not because it is so but because we make it so.