Friday, April 20, 2018

The Presence

What is “Presence”?
What does it mean to be “present”, to live in the “now”?
How do you define it?
How do you attain it?

I love to travel.
I think traveling is one of the mind-expanding experiences a human been can have.
And I’m not talking about the cultural aspect and entertainment but the spiritual enrichment traveling provides.

Every time I am in a foreign country I experience a state of “Presence” a state of enhanced awareness underlined by a genuine feeling of curiosity, freedom, and exploration I used to have as a child.
It is very hard to describe but if you have traveled you probably know that excitement, that state of mind I’m talking about.  That “Presence” in the moment, in the NOW.

Of course, once returned home the feeling is gone and I return to the mental-spiritual state of “Ordinary”.
 I always thought that was a normal thing and I always attributed the magical experience to the geographical location. You feel extraordinary in an exotic place and ordinary in an ordinary place. Right?
But here is the catch. I live in Hollywood and every time I pass by the Hollywood Boulevard I can see hundreds of tourists in the exact same excited state while the only thing I feel is the dread of the traffic congestion the tourists create.

So, the excitement is not created by the place as I thought. The excitement is a state of mind, the place is just coincidental to the experience.
Last weekend I made a day trip to Julian, a little quaint town south of LA.
The old buildings, the blooming spring flowers, the weekend visitors with smiling places, all that experience and feeling of being on a vacation came back to me.

Once again, I switched from the “Ordinary” state of mind to the “Presence” state of mind just by being away from what I considered “ordinary”.
But what is “ordinary”? How do you define it? 
After all is Hollywood an ordinary place or an extraordinary place?

The other day I had to take my car to the dealer for some factory recall repairs.
I had to drive about an hour to the city of Duarte, which I knew about but never been there.
BTW you can live all your life in LA and never see all the streets and locations.
So why I was waiting for my car to be fixed I started walking around, found a Deny’s had some breakfast then went to Starbucks for some coffee and WIFI.

All this time I’ve been in Duarte I was in my “Ordinary” state of mind until that moment in the Starbucks when I snapped out of it and entered the “Presence”.
I looked around and everything was suddenly different. The flowers, the trees the people sitting outside at the tables under the green canvas umbrellas, the morning sun sparkling a little brighter, the blue skies, the white clouds. Everything was vibrant, beautiful, new and exciting. I was “Present” living fully in the moment.
And it was at that moment I understood what the “Presence” was and what the “Ordinary” was and how the whole state of mind works.
It is all in our brains.

The “Ordinary” is created in our mind by our Ego through the process of thought.
We build an imaginary reality in our heads, a story to put it simpler, that becomes the background of our life.
In this story, we have a different reality better than what “reality” is.
Our jobs, relationships, even ourselves are viewed through this fantasy filter.

We live in our heads, not in reality, therefore reality seems foreign boring, uninteresting, unappealing “ORDINARY”
Everything around us is “Ordinary” when we are living in the Ego build “reality”
It is really easy to see it once you become aware of it, but otherwise impossible to see because it is the normal state of our mind from the moment we wake up to the moment we go to bed.
We spend our lives “thinking” we spend our lives inside our head inside our Ego reality.

The moment you stop living inside your head. The moment you turn your attention, focus, presence from the inside to the outside things change, your experience change, you become “Present”.
It is the state of mind of children which still find reality exciting. It is the state of mind of tourist which for a moment are back like children with a genuine curiosity and senses wide open to the external experience to the surrounding reality. The Ego and its mental construct are simply not there anymore.

I spent the next hour experimenting switching from one state of mind to another.
It was very interesting because switching back to the Ego mind became more and more difficult.
You realize that the Ego reality is a make-believe, it is stupid childish and embarrassing.
Think about if the people around you could hear your thought. How would you feel?
Embarrassed, right?

 Sao this is what I recommend you do: Take a little vacation this weekend (I know I will) and go to a place you would consider out of ordinary. Observe the change in your state of mind and then try to switch back and fore. I think that will give you a new inside in the process of living in the moment and an understanding of “Presence”. 

Saturday, February 24, 2018

The Trap of Positivity

You wouldn't think a daily diet of cake and candy is good for your body.
Then why would you think that feeding your mind all the time with feel-good positivity is good for your mind?

Positive affirmations and visualizations just like the sugary foods are high in mental calories and it will give you bursts of spiritual energy but just like the sugary foods have very poor nutritional value and after the rush, it will live you depleted and needing even more of the same to keep you going.

People on a high diet of positivity have very low spiritual stamina. They get easily offended, scared and depressed when faced with tough situations or prolong negative environments.
A strong spiritual person is built on a strong spiritual foundation.
Your belief system is the core foundation of that spirituality.

What your mind needs is TRUTH which like broccoli and spinach is not very appetizing but 100% healthier.
When your belief system is based on undeniable truths you can withstand the most devastating situations without collapsing spiritually.
You may, in fact, come out of these situations even stronger than before with your belief system forged even more powerful by the battle.

Is then positivity bad for you and should you avoid it?
Of course not.
Positivity when properly used is very beneficiary to our spiritual being.
A session of positive affirmations at the start of your day will be like a cup of coffee in the morning just the right thing to get you started on the right foot.
Or a little pick me up in the afternoon when you feel a little down spiritually will also do you good.

The problem with positivity like with everything else in our lives, comes when we start abusing it and neglecting the fundamentals of our spiritual being.
Unicorns and rainbows hugs and kisses are nice but not very good at building a strong spiritual person.

The world we live in is still full of negativity and to survive and thrive in this world you have to be a fit spiritual warrior.
Your mental health, your spiritual stamina, and strength have to be a top priority in your life just like good nutrition and physical exercise for your body.

Friday, February 9, 2018

Buddha on Diet

Dieting: A system of starving yourself to death so you can live a little longer.
Jan Murray

A diet is when you watch what you eat and wish you could eat what you watch.
Hermione Gingold

A diet is the penalty we pay for exceeding the feed limit.

I have a great diet. You're allowed to eat anything you want, but you must eat it with naked fat people.

Vegetables are a must on a diet. I suggest carrot cake, zucchini bread, and pumpkin pie.

I'm on a seafood diet. I see food and I eat it.

The cardiologist's diet: If it tastes good, spit it out.

I tried every diet in the book. I tried some that weren’t in the book. I tried eating the book. It tasted better than most of the diets.
Dolly Parton

Never eat more than you can lift.
Miss Piggy

A balanced diet is a cookie in each hand

If hunger is not the problem, then eating is not the solution.

I have gained and lost the same ten pounds so many times over and over again my cellulite must have déjà vu.
Jane Wagner

Inside every fat person, trying to get out, there is a beautiful thin one - or even two or three.

Outside every fat man there was an even fatter man trying to close in
Kingsley Amis

I don't diet. I just don't eat as much as I'd like to.
Linda Evangelista

My doctor told me to stop having intimate dinners for four.
Unless there are three other people.
Orson Welles

There are no fat people, just people too short for their weight.

Praise is the best diet for us, after all
Sydney Smith

Probably nothing in the world arouses more false hopes than the first four hours of a diet.
Dan Bennett

An optimist is a person who starts a new diet on Thanksgiving Day.
Irv Kupcinet

The second day of a diet is always easier than the first. By the second day you're off it.
Jackie Gleason

I told my doctor I get very tired when I go on a diet, so he gave me pep pills.
Know what happened? I ate faster.
Joe E Lewis

Can you imagine a world without men? No crime and lots of happy fat women

I found there was only one way to look thin, hang out with fat people
Rodney Dangerfield

The older you get, the tougher it is to lose weight because by then, your body and your fat are really good friends

It's strange but true. Fat chance and slim chance mean the same thing

I went on a diet, swore off drinking and heavy eating, and in 14 days I lost two weeks.
Joe E. Lewis

I've been on a constant diet for the last two decades. I've lost a total of 789 pounds. By all accounts, I should be hanging from a charm bracelet.
Erma Bombeck

No diet will remove all the fat from your body because the brain is entirely fat.
Without a brain, you might look good, but all you could do is run for public office.
Covert Bailey

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

The accidental Buddha

If life in a communist country can be summarized as “living in a zoo cage” capitalist life would be then most appropriately described as “the wildlife”
And the wildlife has but a simple rule: You don’t hunt you don’t eat!

That means that if you are a newcomer to the capitalist jungle and you have no “pack” to protect you, no friends and no relatives to teach and support you, your only help is your welfare check. Until you learn how to hunt you have to live on the crumbs falling from the table of plenty.

Welcome to America!

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

I remember running out of money at the end of one month. The hardest month ever.
All I had in the fridge was a couple of slices of bread, a quart of milk and three large potatoes, one for each day until the welfare check would come in.

I would have a piece of toast and a glass of milk in the morning then I would go to school. I would come home at five, bake a potato and eat it with a cube of butter.
I would do my homework and then just lay in bed in order to conserve my energy.
I have never had a harder time in my entire life before or after that.

Coming to America I have left behind everything I ever had: The loved ones, my family, my friends all my possessions, my language and culture, my country my memories.
Here I was a stranger in a strange country leaving on welfare, three potatoes away from starvation; but I will tell you something stranger even than that.

Those thirteen months of my life as hard as they were, they were the happiest days of my adult life.

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

Those thirteen months were the months of infinite possibilities. Those thirteen months were the months of miracles and wonder.
I have never been so focused in my life. I have never had such a clear vision, such a purpose, and drive.

I was the complete master of my destiny and like a conductor conducting a symphony, every note was in perfect harmony every action and every thought was intertwining in a flawless melody.
I had nothing to lose and everything to gain. I was the fountain of my joy and happiness; I was the spring of infinite hope and inspiration; I was complete.

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

Monday, February 5, 2018

Zen Tales: The Frog and the Scorpion

By the blue lagoon on the South of Hogtown, there lived a young frog name, Beth.

Beth was a teacher and she loved teaching and she loved kids more than anything else in the whole world and she hoped that one day she would get married and have a bunch of tadpoles of her own. The only problem was that of all the frogs she had kissed, none turned out to be the prince of her dreams. So she went back to her work and her quiet life until that fateful day when a young scorpion stopped by the lagoon for a drink of water.

He was a very handsome fellow, with his metal blue eyes and his square jaw and all those muscles bulging from every part of his body. But he had a very bad reputation. His venomous sting had left a score of dead and wounded hearts in the bayou and Beth knew all the horror stories. So the moment she saw him she leaped to the safety of her lily pad.

- Did I scare you? Asked the scorpion with a broad smile on his face.
- No, not at all. Said the little frog with bravado.
- Why should I be afraid of you?
- Well, - said the scorpion – I have done some terrible things in my life, and if you would look down on me, I would totally understand. But now my wild and crazy bachelor days are gone. I found my calling working with children.

That was true too. Beth had heard of his work with the boy scouts and it was quite impressive. So they start talking about kids and about life and things and what do you know? He turned out to be a very intelligent, erudite, charming young fellow, nothing like the jerk she had heard he was. So he came back day after day, never making a pass, never saying or doing anything wrong. Of course, Beth kept the distance and didn’t even dream of letting him on her pad.

Then the scorpion didn’t show up for several days.
Beth started worrying and started calling all her friends but nobody knew where he was. She almost lost all her hope when he showed up.

- Where have you been? I was so worried. She said
- I didn’t know you cared.
He said with that killer smile on his face.
- Besides I left you a note on your lily pad.

She looked at the lily pad and there it was. A note explaining his departure. How embarrassing – and she thought all those bad things about him.

- Anyway, - the scorpion said – I thought that we should celebrate, do something really special tonight. What do you say?
- Of course! Said the little frog hardly concealing her excitement.
- I always wanted to see the other shore of the lagoon. Since I can’t swim I thought you could carry me over there for a romantic dinner.

The little frog stepped back in horror.
- I know what you are thinking – Said the scorpion – but just think about it logically. If I sting you I would die by drowning.
That makes perfect sense. Thought the little frog and although her instincts told her no her mouth said:

- Ok! Hop on.
He jumped on her back and she took off as fast as she could.
It was a beautiful summer evening and in the fiery sunset, the lagoon looked magical.

Beth slowed down. She could feel his body pressed against her and that electricity flowing melting them into one blissful union.
And then when all her doubts were gone and she was feeling confident and secure. Wham! He stung her. The poison rushing to her heart, she muttered her last words.

- How could you do this to me? How could you do this to us? We both are going to pay for this dearly. I thought you loved me. I thought you changed…
- Sorry, babe! – he said – I am a scorpion, I can’t change.
That is my nature.