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Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Zen Dialectics

Dialectic or dialectics (Greek: διαλεκτική, dialektikḗ), also known as the dialectical method, is a discourse between two or more people holding different points of view about a subject but wishing to establish the truth through reasoned arguments. The term dialectic is not synonymous with the term debate.
-          Wikipedia

Zen philosophy is so darn weird and wonderful that has fascinated people since the Western civilization has come in contact with it.
Wherever you are a Buddhist, or a neophyte you have probably read or heard a koan or two.
Like the famous “Does a tree falling in the forest make any noise?” or “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

They are intriguing little quips of whimsical wisdom that entice us to think but at the same time seem impossible riddles to understand or solve.
That is the mistake all Zen students make. Koans are not meant to be understood.
It is that it is. There is nothing to understand.

Enlightenment cannot be taught.
Enlightenment can be only achieved and experienced.
Enlightenment is not something that you know; enlightenment is a state of mind, like being in love.

Reality is the ultimate truth. The truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth.
So how do you tech reality?
How does a Zen master teaches what cannot be taught?
He can’t.

The only thing a Zen master can do is destroy your rational mind, to show you the inadequacy of logical thinking and thus to force you to accept the ultimate truth.
It is that it is.
Reality

So every time the student asks a question or comes up with an answer the teacher knows that those are just shadows of the reality.
So he devises a counter argument “a reality check” response to the student.

The counterargument is not meant to clarify the problem but to make it even more absurd.
In the end the student has no choice but to give up, to look beyond the words, to see the reality as it is, not as perception and fall in love with it.
This is the principle of Zen dialectic and has been used for centuries to create enlightenment in the Zen student,

The problem with that is when trying to encapsulate that wisdom in words, to put it in books, you lose the dynamic interaction, the dialectic that is the motor of the enlightenment process.
You end up with a bunch of anecdotes, of stories about stories that are supposed to teach you NOTHING.


And NOTHING is a damn hard thing to understand. 

Monday, June 19, 2017

The Tao of Hollywood - Groundhog Day

“Phil: I'm a god.
Rita: You're God?
Phil: I'm a god. I'm not *the* God... I don't think.”

“Phil: Well maybe the *real* God uses tricks, you know? Maybe he's not omnipotent. He's just been around so long he knows everything.”

Groundhog Day (1993 starring Bill Murray) is a movie classic, one of the must see movies on your must see movie list.
It is almost universally wrongly summarized as the story of Phil, a weatherman reporter, stuck in a time loop living the same day over and over again.

“Phil: Well, what if there is no tomorrow? There wasn't one today.”

Actually, to be exact Phil is not reliving the same day over and over again; he is relieving the same date, the same time span, February 2nd the Groundhog Day.
But every time he reliving it, the day is a little bit different.

“Phil: Do you ever have déjà vu, Mrs. Lancaster?
Mrs. Lancaster: I don't think so, but I could check with the kitchen.”

This movie poses a very serious metaphysical question; if you could go back in time and relieve your life, would your life be the same?

“Phil: Do you know what today is?
Rita: No, what?
Phil: Today is tomorrow. It happened.”

The answer is “MOO” For the non-Zen speakers it means; a bit more complex than an “YES” or a “NO”
Our life, our days are the result of who and what we basically are. And since we are the same every day of our life are basically the same.

“Phil: What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same, and nothing that you did mattered?
Ralph: That about sums it up for me.”

Nothing will change in our life unless we change.

“Phil: I was in the Virgin Islands once. I met a girl. We ate lobster, drank piña coladas. At sunset, we made love like sea otters.
[Ralph and Gus snort]
Phil: *That* was a pretty good day. Why couldn't I get *that* day over, and over, and over...”

It is the universal law of cause and effect at work.
To change the outcome of any action you have to change what causes it.

“Rita: This day was perfect. You couldn't have planned a day like this.
Phil: Well, you can. It just takes an awful lot of work.”

We all want a better life, a better career, belter relationships, better health in other words better outside circumstances. But we seldom ask or work for a better self. And that is the key, that is the answer, the solution to all our problems.

“Phil: Something is... different.
Rita: Good or bad?
Phil: Anything different is good.”

So if you have some spare time and a Netflix account here is a good idea on how to spend some relaxing time:
Watch “Groundhog Day” t is one of the rare movies that only gets better with time.
And a last quote from the movie:

“Phil: I killed myself so many times I don't even exist anymore.”


Friday, June 16, 2017

The Pareto principle and personal time management

Vilfredo Pareto, was an Italian economist, engineer, philosopher, and sociologist at the beginning of the 19th century.
He observed that about 20% of the peapods in his garden contained 80% of the peas and letter own that approximately 80% of the land in Italy was owned by 20% of the population.

This 80/20 connection was later empirically observed repeatedly in nature, economy, business etc. and so the Pareto Principle a.k.a  the 80/20 principle was born.
The principle states that, for many events, roughly 80% of the results come from 20% of the effort.
One of the most common uses of this principle is improving the efficiency of a given system.
For example in sales, 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients, and 20% of the sales people bill 80% of the orders.

Knowing that it is really easy to redirect your resources on the 20% of most effective customers or sales force. 
Basically, by eliminating the 80% inefficiently used resources or by redirecting your resources away from the inefficient markets you can obtain better results without any additional investments.

That sounds like a very smart thing to do if you have your own business or you are in charge of a corporation, but how do you apply this principle to your personal life?

One of the problems I’m facing almost daily is the lack of time.
It seems to me that I never have enough time to do the things I want to do and I need a better way to manage my time.
So I started keeping a little journal with everything I was doing daily.

It turns out, roughly, that 80% of what I accomplish was done in 20% of the time I spent.
That is very interesting but it doesn’t help much.
I cannot fire the 80% of me that is inefficient.
See the problem?
This may work for a big corporation but not if you are self-employed.

So let’s look at the problem the other way:
The 80% of the time I spend solving 20% of my tasks.
Why is that? Why it takes so much damn time to do so little?
Why do I spend more time doing the small and easy tasks than the big and important ones?

It turns out that is the way I do things.
Let’s say it is the start of a new day. I have a list of things to do.
I look at the list and pick the easiest most rewarding task. Like checking my email or may blog.
By the time I’m done with all the “little” stuff I realize I don’t have enough time to do the big stuff I was planning to do.
So I go back and do more little stuff or just killing time, like playing video games.

This is what I never have any time to do the things I want to do.
It is like eating the cake before eating your vegetables.
Not a very conducive to a healthy way of eating.

So I devised a system of time management where tasks are done in order of size and time availability.
Basically, you have to make three separate lists of long, medium and short tasks.
(Posted notes work very well for this)
Then do the biggest task you can do first, then when that is done repeat the process, chose the biggest task you have time left to do and so one and so forth.

Naturally, the available time will shrink to the point that you’ll have to do the small stuff last until there is no more time left.
This method will force you to use your time in the most efficient way, although not the most pleasant.
Like I said it is the choice between cake and vegetables, goofing off or efficiency.
Your choice!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Fat Chance!

I grew up on a farm where everything was self-sustaining.
We grew our own food, we build our houses and made our clothing.
Everything was treasured and nothing was wasted.

The world still fights to feed its people.
Having enough to eat is still a main problem in many countries.
It seems ironic then that some people’s problem is having too much to eat.

When I came to the US in 1983 one of the many cultural shocks I experienced was the American food culture.
I have never heard of “dieting” before and obesity use to be a disease caused by a wacky metabolism. I knew only one obese child growing up and yes we call him “Fatso”
But he was the exception, a medical anomaly not the rule.

America is obsessed with its overweight problem.
You cannot turn on the TV or open a magazine without being bombarded by another miracle diet plan, diet food, diet drink, diet supplements or God knows what other diet snake oil they will come up with next.

Diet is a big business and dieting has become an industry and national obsession in America.
Let me tell you a little dieting secret you’ll never hear on Oprah:
Healthy, slim, normal people don’t diet!

To listen to all the so called “experts” that have lost 300 pounds tell you how to lose weight is like taking advice from a crack addict on how to stop smoking!
Overweight is not a problem. Overweight is a symptom, for God’s sake.
We do not suffer from overweighting, we suffer from over eating.

The problem is our dysfunctional relationship you have with our food.
To go on a diet is to replace our dysfunctional relationship with our food with an even more dysfunctional one!
That’s why diets do not work. Dieting is not a normal way of living.
Once again: Look at your normal friends. They do not diet!
Why are they then not fat? Because they have a normal relationship with their food.

Yes relationship. – Don’t give me that BS excuse: they have good genes.
I used to be a therapist and I dealt a lot with overweight people. The problem is always the same. People use food as a crutch.

Some people use it as a love substitute, lover substitute, sex substitute, self-esteem substitute, success substitute and so on and so forth.
Whatever we lack in our lives we substitute it with food.
Instead of getting what we really need in our life, we eat and that creates a false pleasure in our mind, a false sense of wellbeing.

Yes, it all starts in your mind.
So change your eating habits you have to change the way you think and feel about food.
Without that you’ll never lose weight.

You have to stop dieting and instead develop a healthy relationship with your food.
But trust me if your relationship with food doesn’t change, same forces that have made you gain weight in the first place will put your weight back and then some.

Building a relationship with your food has to start with the basics; like knowing your food.
Go to the farmers market and buy your own produce instead of going to a restaurant.
Cook your own food, control what goes in your body don’t let yourself become addicted to the fat, sugar and salt that oversaturates the processed foods.

Healthy people do not eat in restaurants, at least not in the restaurants you and I eat.
If you have enough money and price is not an objection you can buy anything, even healthy food but for the rest of us, the 99% as they say, money is not a luxury.

What makes the difference between the healthy normal weight people and the overeating crowd is the relationships we have with our food.
 Healthy people do not diet.
A diet works less than 1 in a 1000 and it is by pure accident, by chance – like gaining back your self-confidence once you see yourself slim in the mirror.
So if you thinking of starting yet another diet, think again at your chance to succeed.
Fat chance!

Monday, June 12, 2017

The Bad Boy Syndrome

We are animal lovers, me, my wife and kids.
We have two dogs, one cat; thou technically the cat adopted us and a rabbit.
We used to have a fish too but after several premature deaths, we decided we are definitively not fish people.

We adopted the first dog, Daisy, from an animal shelter. We believe adopting from a shelter is much better than buying from a pet store.
The cat, Oreo, was a stray cat and we happened to be on his hunting grounds. We start leaving cat food outside and now he’s sleeping in our house, but most of the day he just hangs out around the house. The rabbit is my older daughter pet and the second dog Ollie is a rescue.

We found Ollie running in the streets. No collar, no tag, no chip. He had a rope around his neck and it looked he chewed it up to escape. He was badly abused; we believe they kicked him because he has a fear of feet and legs and still attacks and bites people’s ankles.

He was less than one year old, still a puppy, and didn’t have any kind of education.
He pooped and peed everywhere in the house. He destroyed our living room rug. He destroyed several pairs of shoes until he learned to play with his toys.
He destroyed the mail and would do the same to the mailman if he could get to him. And of course, he bit everybody.

After several months of training, we decided to put him up for adoption.
He was almost perfect, young, cute, potty trained but with a little leftover issue.
On the day of the adoption, he bit the lady that came to adopt him.
So that little habit of biting everybody he didn’t know, made him practically unadoptable.
So time went by and after a year we realized he’s ours and nobody else will have it.

My wife comes home from the morning walk and she’s furious.
Ollie found some fresh manure on a neighbor lawn and decided to roll in it against my wife yelling to stop.
I’m not even paying attention to her angry rhetoric; I heard it a thousand times before.
She takes Ollie in the bathtub and gives him the required shampooing.
After the bath, Ollie promptly gets out through the doggie door, goes to the back yard and rolls in the dirt.

My wife loses it. She screams at the top of her lungs and threatens to take him to the shelter.
I get worried. She is really mad, but then I detect in her voice a different nuance.
Is that tone of voice you use when your kids do something bad, like making a comment on the plastic surgery your mother-in-law got.
You have to admonish them but at the same time, you think the kid is right and damn funny too.

I recognized the “bad boy syndrome” behavior.
Women love bad boys. They love the drama they cause. It is in their blood in their genetic makeup.
It is like us guys loving sports. It is in our blood. It is the thrill of the hunt embedded in our genes.
Men love to watch sports women love soap operas.

So is Ollie in any danger?
Nope, not at all. All that bad boy behavior will just make my wife loving him even more.
It is the bad boy syndrome. Women love bad boys and they could get away with murder if there wasn’t for a little clause:
You can do anything you want as long as you don’t fool around.
And Ollie doesn’t have that problem. He is loyal as a dog.

PS: That reminds me that I have to do something bad to spice up my romantic life.
Maybe I’ll tell my wife’s best friend that if she keeps gaining more weight she will get her own zip code or something equally bad like that.

I know is bad but women like the bad boys. Don’t ask me why.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Faith and Control

"To have faith is to trust yourself to the water. When you swim you don't grab hold of the water because if you do you will sink and drown. Instead, you relax and float."
            - Alan Watts

The continuous dialog between Ego and I, the continuous debate between control and faith rages on like a wildfire searing both flesh and soul with its blaze.
The battle continues. The fortune of victory is constantly changing sides.
One day faith, optimism, and hope reign for a moment, the next day fear, and despair open the doors to the reign of control.
(It is pretty much like the political arena of our days.)

The ego needs to be in control because it perceives itself alone against the universe.
Alone in a hostile environment, the Ego has to survive and to survive it needs to control events and people. The reason it is his main weapon, and what a mighty weapon it is.

We can reason any action no matter how absurd or immoral it may be.
Ego has devised the MAD doctrine.  Mutual Assured Destruction. Which basically states if you attack me I will kill everyone so no one can win.

Hell is paved with good intentions.
Ego has started wars and genocides all with very good reasons, or what it has perceived a good reason at the time. In the end reason leads always to failure.

Control is a myth. You cannot control anything, you cannot even control yourself.
Control seems reasonable because it employs ignorance as its basis.
We think of control on a localized scale. I can control a person or I can control a certain situation and it may even work, for a short period of time.
The problem is that all people and events are intertwined.

As you attempt to control anything you will find our pretty soon that you sphere of control has to expand. It is because everybody and everything is connected.
So if you want to control a person or event you have to control also the other people and events that are competing to control and manipulate the situation on their own benefit.
So the situation escalates until you run out of stamina and resources and the situation gets out of control

Control is a myth because in order to control anything you have to control the whole universe.
The only alternative left when you run out of control is faith.

Faith is the natural state of our higher self, of I.
I is the manifestation and materialization of the infinite intelligence that is the one source of all.
I is never disconnected, never lacking, never ignorant, never fearful.

When we perceive our live as a raft caught in the current of a raging river, the Ego tries to take control.
The Ego rationalizes that the only way out is by fighting the river, by going against the flow.

The I, recognizes there is no river.
There is only one. One is the river and I and the flow is mine.
The I flows with the river and the river flows back to the ocean.

Is the faith above all reason.
We all return to the source.
Our rivers, no matter the course, will always return to the ocean.


Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Fear no Fear

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, 'Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?' Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of "A Course in Miracles"

Whenever I feel tempted by fear (like these last couple of days) I do my decomposing (or composting, if you prefer thinking in positive terms) meditation.

I go to my Zen temple – Here in Hollyweird for some reason, they call it “Public Park”
I lay down under this ginormous tree (it is essential to feel the grass and the earth pressing against your body)
I look up at the sky and the leaves, and I drift away into this reverie.

I close my eyes and see myself like on one of those national geographic videos where the time takes off at hyper speed.
I grow older and older, white beard, long hair, season after season changing, then I pass away.

My hair falls off, leaves and ground cover up my corpse, bugs eat my flesh, and bones crumble into pieces turning into the compost that's feeding this amazing tree.
And I become branches and leaves and flowers of the tree.

And I open my eyes and I scream at the top of my lungs: Fuck the fear!
And the winos lift their brown bags and cheer “-All right, Buddha!”

And we all laugh, and I go to pick up my kids from school.
 

Monday, June 5, 2017

Advice on Advice

I am a handyman. I love doing things with my hands.
I can fix a computer, do small repairs around the house or work on my car.
It gives me a certain satisfaction to see things done, to accomplish something with my own hands.

Many of my friends are not so handy when it comes to manual labor, although they are accomplished professionals in their fields.
They all wonder “How do you do that?”
I explain to them that the only difference between them and a handyman is the knowledge and the tools a handyman has and in the age of Google, Amazon and eBay, knowledge and tools are readily available to anyone.

Do you want to know how to work on your car? No Problem.
First, you need the technical manual for your car.
You go on Amazon put in the year and make of your car, and voila, you have all the knowledge you need at your fingertips. The manual will also tell you exactly what tools you need.
Of course, there is also the matter of experience and willingness, but that is a whole different story.

I also like to work on my self-development but that has been a much harder and less rewarding task than working on my car.
The problem is there is no technical manual for working on myself and also I don’t have access to any specialized tools or medication.

Of course there are a lot of self-help books out there but none written specifically for me.
And although I read hundreds of them I rarely found any useful advice in them.
They all are written by experts and full of miraculous examples of people that have overcome anything from obesity to anxiety and depression.  But to me, that’s just self-hype designed to sell the book.

I was in my doctor’s office waiting for my appointment and I picked up a couple of magazines that were lying around. In one of them, I found an article on how to spice up your romantic life,
I read it and it was a doozy.  I had so much fun and tried very hard not to burst out laughing.

All the self-help books make a lot of assumptions and generalizations.
All authors of self-help books believe everybody is the same, that everybody enjoys the same things and behave the same way. If they wouldn’t believe that they will not give the advice in the first place.
So the advice is basically what they would do or what works for them and that may or may not work for you.

A nice dinner, candle light and soft music may work for some but spanking, whips and chains also works for some. So which advice is right for you? That is an answer only you can answer.
My advice when it comes to self-help books is that you should never take the advice they give without thoroughly understanding the “how” and “why” it works.

I have a special ax to grind with the “wishful” thinking philosophy.
You know the one that states that if you believe in it, it will happen to you.
I don’t believe in it because I believe in the laws of cause and effect and to me to have something happening just because you visualize it happening is just a bunch of nonsense.


So listen to everyone but in the end take your own advice.

Friday, June 2, 2017

Don't kill the joy!

This story happened long time ago when I was a young lad looking for romance.
I was at an industry gathering were lots of young people were invited.
I was mixing with the crowd trying to act confident and important.
I found a small group with a very attractive girl discussing, what else the movies.

I listen for a while then I commented something like this:
-          It looks like todays movies are written by mentally retarded people.Anybody with half brain could write better script.
-          How many scripts have you written so far?
Asked the young lady.
-          Well, none but I got lots of ideas.
Was the best answer I could come up with.
-          You and a million losers that think they can write a script.
She said sarcastically and walked away.

I was insulted and furious.
 I went to my friend Danny and tell him the story, hoping for some moral support but to my frustration he told me she was right. I couldn’t take it anymore. I said
-           I will put down on paper one of my brilliant ideas and prove you all wrong.

Times goes by and of course I found all kinds of excuses not to write my brilliant screenplay.
But there was a little inconvenience;  my friend Danny. Every time when we met he would ask:
-          So how is your script coming?
Of course he will laugh and make all kinds of jokes at my expense.
I couldn’t take it no more or I ran out of excuses, whatever the reason one day I sat down at my computer and start writing.

It was a long and painful process. Obviously I didn’t know what I was doing and had to go to the library get some books on the subject. Rewrite everything again and again but finally I got a script.
It was a disaster!

One good thing came out of my story. I started enjoying the writing process.
I joined a writing group. I bought the proper writing software. I kept on reading and learning about the art of screenwriting. And so the years went by.

It was my 5th full length script when I decided I was good enough.
 I decided to take my best work to the market. I entered several screenwriting contests. I submitted my query to several production companies and waited impatiently for the feedback.

The feedback came and it was a blood bath. I can usually handle rejection fairly well but this was more than rejection, it was nasty.
The result; I stopped writing.

Long time after the events I remembered the joy I had writing, the satisfaction of filling the pages with words. I decided to go back to writing but the joy was gone.  Now I dreaded writing.
What happened? Who kill my joy?

Well, it was me. By seting up expectations to my writing outcome I killed the joy of writing.
You see, when you do some tor fun without expecting anything but just to have fun, you enjoy the experience 100%. The moment you attach expectations, a certain outcome your task becomes a chore, you start killing the joy.

Theoretically everything we do should be enjoyable. Take for example “learning”
Learning is such a joy when you are a baby. To learn, to explore to find out, to do.
But then we go to school. Learning becomes a chore. The joy of learning is slowly killed and we start dreading school and learning.

We do that all our lives. We kill the joy of doing things to the point we have nothing enjoyable to do. We just sit in front of the computer orTV expecting joy from what other people do. We are just killing time.
We have become spectators not actors to life.

So here is my advice: If you have something you enjoy doing, don’t kill the joy. Do it for fun and if anything comes out of it, fine. But do not kill the joy by setting up any expectations.

Also you can rekindle old joy you have lost. Like me writing for this blog Making writing fun again and hopefully one day going back to my screenwriting.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Who's in control?

Ms. Rosenberg is walking down the street with her two grandchildren all dressed up for the morning Sabbath service.
Ms. Freedman is coming the other way and sees them.
- Oh, my goodness! Are those your grandchildren? I can’t believe how tall they have grown. How old are they now?
Very proud of her grandchildren Ms. Rosenberg replies:
- The doctor is 7 and the lawyer is 9!

Funny or not, 6 out of 10 Americans are unhappy with their career choice.
Yet every morning they wake up and they go to their dreaded jobs week after week, year after year.

We started our lives playing in the sand pan with a shiny red tin truck, dreaming that one day we will drive the real thing, carrying iceberg lettuce from California over the Rocky Mountains, sun gleaming in our eyes, wind blowing in our hair.
And somehow, we wake up one day practicing corporate law, locked up in a stuffy office with a mountain high pile of paper in front of us.
(Or something similarly disappointing)

Somewhere along the way, our shiny red truck of happiness got high jacked by the people wishing our best interests and now some other poor schmuck is driving it over the Rocky Mountains while dreaming of a cushy office job in a law firm in the big city.
(Such is the irony of life.)

So, what the hell just happened to our childhood dreams?
As the immortal John Lennon said:
"Life is what's happening to us while we're busy making other plans."

So stop and ask yourself: Who is in charge of my life?
Am I in charge or there is somebody or something else driving my life and if the latest is the case ask yourself: Am I happy the way he/she/it is running my life?
If not; why don’t you get read of he/she/it and put somebody else in charge?

After all, in charge or not you are still the one responsible for the happiness – or the unhappiness - in your life.

Almost everybody is unhappy with heir life or at least with some aspects of their life but almost nobody is unhappy with the decisions and the actions they make or not.
It is funny how almost everybody wants a better life but almost nobody wants or works to become a better person.

It is funny because even if we want to change our life nobody wants to take charge and responsibility for that change.

The truth is that if you are not in charge of your life somebody or something else is and they are using that power in their own interests, not yours, no matter what they believe or say to you.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

SATORI


Q: What has four legs and one arm?
A; A happy pitbull.

It’s a joke.
Do you get it?
If you get it you’ll laugh, if you don’t you will be offended. 
If you are not even offended you’ll just stare confused and ask for an explanation.

I had a friend like that, he always asked me to translate my jokes for him. (You know the type )
So I would go: - Pitbulls are very aggressive dogs. They will rip your arm off..
But of course, when you explain a joke like that, the joke is not funny any longer.
So he would go: - Aaaha! Like he understood it. But he missed the whole point entirely.
I was telling him the joke because I wanted to make him laugh not to makehim understand.

When two hands clap there is a sound.
What is the sound of one hand clapping?

It’s a koan.
Do you get it?
If you get it, you got satori.
If you don’t you’ll think it is a stupid or absurd question.
If you don’t even think that it is stupid or absurd, you’ll just stare confused and ask for an explanation.

So I’ll give you the answer: The sound of Silence
You need two hands to clap.
You need silence to have sound, and sound to have silence.
One cannot exist without the other, like the two sides of a coin or two ends of a rope.

Technically speaking a constant pressure on your year drums is silence not sound.
You need  a wave, a continuous switching between pressure and no pressure to make a sound.
Two hands pressed together make no sound either.
You have to clap to make the wave oscillation.
It's a yin, yang thingy!

But of course when a koan is explained like that you miss the whole point entirely.
The master has nothing to teach his students that they already don’t know. (Well at least the real ones)

A master does not give his student a koan so the students have something to study, understand and learn, because there is nothing to study, understand or learn.
A master gives his students a koan in the hope that the student will have Satori.
That sudden realization, that sudden awakening that AHA! I got it moment.

I know you purists out there will go:
-        So how come you are doing this?
How come you are teaching this if teaching is not possible?

I am doing it because I am a bad teacher. 
Actually I’m not even a teacher, I’m just a pissed off individual.
And I know what you are thinking:
-        So if you call yourself a buddha how come you are pissed off?
Aren’t enlightened people suppose to be serene, on a plane above mundane?


Oh well... of course, if they choose so.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Four Bodhisattva Vows

In Mahayana Buddhism, bodhisattva is the Sanskrit term for anyone who, motivated by great compassion, has generated bodhicitta, which is a spontaneous wish and a compassionate mind to attain buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings

At the beginning of their journey to enlightenment, anybody wishing to follow the Buddhist path takes these “Four Bodhisattva Vows”

“There are innumerable sentient beings in the universe. I vow to help them all to awaken
 My imperfections are inexhaustible. I vow to overcome them all.
The Dharma is unknowable. I vow to know it.
The way of the Awakening is unattainable. I vow to attain it.”

For the non-initiated, the vows seem paradoxical and unattainable.
The vows are a challenge to accomplish things that no human can accomplish.
The misunderstanding arises both from the limitations of language translation and the Eastern –  Western philosophical differences.

In the Western philosophy, the human is born in a state of imperfection that cannot be overcome.  Only by divine intervention can we be absolved of our sins.
In the Eastern philosophy, the human imperfection is relegated to the Ego and it can be overcome by attaining enlightenment, or the state of No-Ego.

A regular person, the “Ego” cannot and will not accomplish any of the vows.
Only by becoming a buddha can a bodhisattva overcome the paradoxical impossibilities of the vows tasks.

Attaining enlightenment is like falling in love. It cannot be done purposely but millions of people fall in love each year.
You have to look at the world and fall in love with it.
The path to impossible starts in infinite compassion.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Where The Truth Lies

A long time ago I had a very nasty car accident.  
I was stopped, waiting to make a left turn at the intersection when out of the blue a car smashed into my back.

There were several motorists that witnessed the accident and stopped to help. When the police arrived and started taking testimonies from them to my surprise their stories were all different and not as I recalled the accident happening.

Furthermore, one of the witnesses even went to say that the accident was my fault. I couldn’t believe it! Why a complete stranger with no vested interest in the case would lie like that? Or maybe he wasn’t lying, he was honest but wrong.
Was he then telling the truth? Then… what is truth?

There is no universal accepted definition of truth and the subject is still out for debate. The classical definition of truth deals with how well a statement represents the actual facts or things it describes.

So a painting, let’s say, it is true to the degree it reflects the reality, hence a photography will be better but still limited to a two-dimensional representation, while a hologram will be even closer to reality, but in an absolute sense still not real. Reality is the only absolute truth.

For more than 2000 years we have been trying to bring our language closer and closer to that reality with direct, explicit, clear words. At the same time, our vocabulary has developed to reflect the social, political and economic trends, specifically the male dominance in the society.

The rise of women rights movement in the US brought those discrepancies in the limelight. The argument was that the male culture and language promotes sexism and discrimination against women and had to be changed to reflect the equality of sexes.

So mankind became humankind, stewardess became flight attendant; policeman became the officer, chairman chairperson, manmade synthetic, fireman firefighter and so on.

The changing of the wrongdoings of the past was done not as a favor to women but as justice. The new words were not a departure from the truth but rather a better reflection of the man, woman equality. And this is the most important most misunderstood and abused thing about the truth.

This misunderstanding has started a new trend in the American language to change the vocabulary not to serve the truth but to accommodate certain human sensibilities thus in the 80’s the “politically correctness” movement was born.

The crippled has become handicapped, the retarded are now mentally challenged, fat people are overweight, midgets are little people, old people are senior citizens and dead people are expired.

Why? Are those words a better reflection of reality? Do they hold a higher truth? No. Fat people are still fat, old people are not getting any younger and stupid people are not getting any smarter.

So are we really doing them a favor by pretending that we don’t see their condition? Do really deaf people say “I don’t like the sound of that word, I prefer to be called hearing impaired.”? Isn’t African American as racist word as black, since it makes the same artificial discrimination?
There is only one race, the human race; shouldn’t we all be called just human beings?

We are witnessing an ever increasing abuse of the truth, in our everyday life.
The media, the pundits, the experts, they all are stretching and abusing the limits of language in order to persuade and control public opinion.

The obvious reality is no longer the truth. Facts are no longer facts. All that it matters is the spin, the interpretation, the opinion, the words.
 And of course, everybody is too busy to use their own brain.
After all, why do we have computers for?

Friday, May 19, 2017

IT THE TRUTH

What is IT?
What is the absolute, the indefinable IT that defines all things?
The IT that cannot be named but gives names to all?

IT, is like a black hole that collapses all in its gravity; inaccessible, unobservable and untouchable.
Like a black hole we only know of its existence by its effects.
We know IT by its many names; The Matrix, Intelligence, Consciousness, Love, Energy Flow, The Truth.

IT, is the truth, the whole truth and nothing by the truth.
Nothing exists outside the Truth. All that exists is the truth.
Reality is the ultimate Truth against all that exists is measured.

Lies do not exist. And even so it feels like the world is overcome by lies, that is just an illusion.
It is the illusion of the darkness taking over the earth. But darkness does not exist.
Darkness is just the absence of the light. Lies are overcoming us because the truth was silenced.

Darkness fills in every time we turn off the light. Darkness cannot be turned on or off.
Darkness doesn’t exist. Darkness exists only in our perception.
Lies exist only in our perception. Lies do not exist outside of our Ego illusion of the reality.

Stop lurking in the darkness. Turn on the light.
Seek the truth and the illusion of lies will dissipate like the morning mist under the sun’s glory.

Seek the truth and you shall be set free.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

AWAKENING

Ask anybody what they think about themselves, what are their worst qualities.
You will get a wide range of answers but one, which in many cases would be the appropriate answer, will never be given. Nobody thinks they are stupid and even when they may say “I was so stupid!” what they really mean is; “I’m such a smart person, how could I’ve done such stupid thing?”
Believe me, people will accept being not so good looking, or in not such good shape even accept or take pride, in not being educated, but nobody will admit they are mentally inferior to the average.

We are not aware of our mental limitations, actually, the more limited the person is the smarter they think they are.It takes a really smart person to realize its mental flaws.
We are limited in our thinking by both lack of facts and limited rezoning power. Actually, on the universal scale of intelligence, humans would be at the very bottom of the list, just one step above the apes.

So looking from that perspective is really easy to understand the society, the people around us and ourselves. The world is the way it is not because we are intelligent being but because we are not as intelligent as we think.

We think we are pretty smart with our technology, our science our computers and internet but biologically speaking we are not any different from our ancestors. If you could somehow bring a baby from ancient Grece and raise it in our time he or she wouldn’t be any different from any of the other kids.

As a society, we have amassed an extraordinary amount of information and that knowledge is growing every day exponentially. As individuals, we cannot be smarter than we are. We can get more educated. We can raise the quality of information we ingest but biologically we are limited by the size of our brains.

What we can do, however, is to become enlightened, to awaken, to overcome our ignorance, our Ego.
Now, I have to be very specific by what “ignorance” is because many understand ignorance as “uneducated”

Ignorance is the state of unawareness, unconsciousness and is not the same as the act of consciously ignoring a fact. For example, there are people ignorant of the fact that our trash is destroying the planet’s ecology but also there are people that know that yet continue the practice of polluting the planet usually for a profit, ignoring the consequences.

The “Ego” is our natural state of ignorance.  The ignorance comes from the fact that the “Ego” defines itself as separate from the outside world, the universe.  This creates a constant state of fear, uncertainty, lack of control, scarcity, both material and spiritual.
All that is an illusion, a creation of our reasoning mind.

To be “Enlightened” is to wake up from that illusion and recognize our true nature.
I am not my “Ego” I am not my “social identity” I am not my “experience”
I am the materialization, the manifestation of the infinite intelligence of the universe.
And that of which I am is immortal, indestructible, infinite.
It is that it is.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Spirituality, Religion, Church and Politics


"I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man's reasoning powers are not above the monkey's" 
                                                                                                                                 - Mark Twain

Is a spiritual, religious person allowed to be involved in politics?
Well, it depends on which religion and also on which spiritual person we are talking about.
If you are practicing a religion that specifically forbids the political involvement, then obviously the answer is no. If you are a person on the path of spiritual enlightenment, the answer is also, no.
But for the regular, lay person, with some spiritual, religious involvement the answer is up to each individual.

Let’s talk a bit about the people that are actively pursuing the path of enlightenment.
The Buddhist discipline specifically teaches the detachment from the material world.
That detachment goes beyond material things and involves also all aspects of mental, emotional involvement with the material world.
The Buddhist student has to rise not only above greed but also above the notions of fortune, fame, power and influence. Political involvement is absolutely out of question.

So you will say: “What about the Dalai Lama. Isn’t he a political figure and very much involved in politics?” Yes he is and he is paying for that involvement with the price of his enlightenment.
The Dalai Lama is not a Buddha. He’s not enlightened – at least not all the time J

Same goes for the people on the path of Christ-hood.
In the Christian tradition the same truth stands valid. To become a Christ (enlightened person) you have to be in this world but not of this world. In other words – no political involvement.

What about the regular Joe, the one that goes to work, pays his taxes and raises his kids?

Well, like I said, it’s up to you.  If you still have time and energy left at the end of the day and want to get involved in politics, why not, it is your right. My personal advice; don’t do it, or if you do run for some office, get involved by doing it not as a spectator / fan of politics which IMO is just a waste of time and emotional energy.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

THE GHOST IN THE SHELL - THE TAO OF HOLLYWOOD


“We cling to memories as if they define us, but they don't. What we do is what defines us.”

                                                                                                                   - Dr. Ouelet


WHO ARE YOU? Is the primordial question.
AND WHO WORE YOU BEFORE THAT? Is the second one.

Time is just an illusion. Your past exists only in the frame of your ego consciousness.
Alone, disconnected from its source the Ego finds its identity in the stored memories.
A past is built in our minds to justify our Ego existence, thus our mind becomes a prison.

We use this past as our foundation for our action. We carry our defects and limitations as a treasure in the name of Ego identity. WE have the potential to be anything we want to be but are being restricted by the Ego to remain loyal to our past, to remain the same.

Without a past we have the freedom to be anything we want to be.
Without an Ego you return to the source. Without an Ego you become unlimited and unbound.
Time is just an illusion. The only thing that exists is the eternal now.

You are not the one you think you are. You are the one born in this moment.

“Dream as if you’ll live forever. Live as if you’ll die today.”

                                                                                                                -James Dean

P.S. The movie is a cheap and uninspired redo of the 1995 cult classic.
IMO not worth the time and money to see - unless, like me, you are a Sci Fi sucker.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Plan not to Plan

"Life is what happens to us while we are making other plans"

- Allen Saunders

"Without leaps of imagination or dreaming, we lose the excitement of possibilities.
Dreaming, after all is a form of planning"

- Gloria Steinem

A friend of mine just pointed out that my “6 Steps to accomplish anything” (see previous post) is missing an important step: “Planning”, therefore it should be appended and renamed “7 Steps to accomplish anything”
An argument ensued
J

There are two distinctive points of view on the nature of the universe:
One: The Western point of view.
The universe was born in a gigantic “Big Bang” and it is nothing more than a complex mechanical interaction between its various material parts.
Two: The Eastern point of view.
The universe is an intelligent, living organism, growing and evolving.

So do you need a plan to accomplish a task, or are passion and vision enough to carry your actions through? Well, depending on the way you see life and the universe the answer can be both.
Here are two similar but different stories of starting a business.

Many years ago, right after my arrival to the US, I met Maria, a remarkable woman.
Somebody at church told me about this restaurant Maria had opened and highly recommended it.
One evening I decided to check it out. The place was literary a “hole in the wall”.

The place was a narrow corridor with small tables lining up against the wall, on one side and the open counter of the kitchen on the other. What was remarkable about this small place was the huge queue of customers lining up outside, waiting for a table or to pick up their orders.

I decided to wait in line and my patience was rewarded with a meal worthy of a five-star restaurant at the price of a fast food joint.  I started a conversation with Maria, the owner, cook, and waitress and we became good friends as usually happens with compatriots meeting in diaspora.

Her story was simple. An immigrant couple from Eastern Europe coming to find the American dream in the land of freedom. Her husband took a job as a genitor in a large business building. She couldn’t get a job because of the language barrier but decided she will have her own business, that she will open her own restaurant.

She started making sandwiches, which her husband will take at the office building every morning and offer them for sale to the office people. Nothing happened until one day when one of the office employees out of time or maybe feeling pity for the man, bought one of the sandwiches.

It took that first sale and the news about the amazing food Maria could prepare spread like fire.
Pretty soon she was doing catering for birthdays and social gatherings. Her husband had to quit his job to help her out with the ever increasing business and as soon they save enough money they rented that “hole in the wall”, Maria’s first restaurant.

The Los Angeles immigrant community has thousands of success stories of immigrants coming without speaking the language, without any money or business knowledge, and becoming successful entrepreneurs just with a dream and unstoppable passion.
But you don’t have to be an immigrant to have a dream and a passion. Remember how “Apple Computers” started? It was a couple of young kids starting a business in their parent's garage. Do you think they have a plan to become one of the greatest corporations in the world? I don’t think you can plan that even if you wanted to.

Here is another story of an immigrant trying to start a business in the US.
Many years ago I was talking to one of my American friends about Maria restaurant story and we decided to join forces and finances and open our own restaurant.

We found the perfect location in Burbank, talked to the building owner and started making our plans on how to accomplish this. With our plans drawn we approached the  Burbank chamber of commerce about our little enterprise.  Our enthusiasm was shortly lived and went down in flame. The problem; BEUROCRACY.

Anybody that has ever done business with the government knows that they do not share the same enthusiasm about doing business as you do. They also are very y unyielding about their rules and regulations. If they say you need handicapped access to the kitchen, then you have to build it even if this is a family business and you don’t intend to hire anybody else – just to give you an example,

So we had to abandon our dream because if we had to do it the way the city of Burbank wanted us to do it the cost would have been far exceeding the capital we had.

Planning no matter how well done doesn’t guaranty success. There are numerous stories of well-planned businesses that have failed gloriously. Only passion knows no defeat. People that have dreamed with passion have always found a way to success.

And then another side of planning: Over planning.
I’ve seen so many of my friends eternally planning to do this or that and never accomplishing anything.
There is no perfect plan. You can always make it better. Therefore there is no perfect time when a plan should be implemented. You can spend the rest of your life planning and never actually start anything.

On the other hand, I’ve never seen a person with a burning passion that can be stopped by the lack of a plan or money or time.

So what do you think? To plan or not to plan? This is the question J