Wednesday, December 31, 2008

No pain, No brain...




Reposted from
http://ww2.wpunj.edu/cohss/philosophy/NoPainNoBrain.jpg

Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Monday, December 22, 2008

Monday, October 13, 2008

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Zen for the day

Oh, Faux news...

Thursday, October 9, 2008

If only...

Best political cartoon ever!

The caption reads: "I keep thinking we should include something in the constitution in case the people elect a fucking moron."


Posted on Natuba

Friday, October 3, 2008

Purgation

noun

1) the purification or cleansing of someone or something : the purgation by ritual violence of morbid social emotions.

My desk is messy. It bears no resemblance to anything even remotely organized. If the only snap-shot of my life that a person saw was my desk they would probably say, "Yikes!" or, "Woah, ewww". In both cases, they would be making a face like something horrible just happened in their mouth.

The thing is that I havent been able to shake it. I have barely been able to really admit it. I have a horribly messy desk. Okay, I have a horribly messy desk that I rarely use. I have a horribly messy desk that I rarely use and I defend it like I have no choice but to consider it sacred. I defend it and consider it sacred because I am afraid to change it.

Sanctity clarifies and reinforces the definition of profane. This is one of its functions. Its the principle of identical differences that Alan Watts spoke of. Sacred and profane have identical differences. Wrap your brain around that. Though this is not the only function of sanctity, I do think that claiming something as sacred lends us a perception of ultimate importance. An answer that seems to have substance when asked, "Who am I?" The reply, "Well! I uphold this very special thing. Who the hell are you to judge it and question it! ITS VERY SPECIAL!!!! AAARRRRGGGGGHHHH!!! You cant make me change this very special thing! That would challenge me and make me do uncomfortable things... like growing... and stuff."

This is how I feel about what my desk represents in my life. An old, cluttered, increasingly disorganized space that I dont understand how to bring into the present. I dont know how to grow in that way. I think it is symbolic, or depicts a part of my own identity that I have neglected to individuate, neglected to cultivate.

Its as if there are many facets to each one of us, and every one of those facets has to be matured individually. Someone can be a champion and have enormous experience in one area of life, and respond like a whining infant in another. I could probably train and climb a mountain, but I cant seem to clean my desk... But we expect ourselves to have ALL the answers ALL the time, like we are some kind of 24-hour sports station that only broadcasts the very best of humanity. We expect so much from ourselves and yet have such negative self talk when it doesnt happen.

It doesnt happen because its not there. We havent taken the time and care to grow the part of us that needs attention... how can we expect it to perform like a champion? Like the buddhist teacher Cheri Huber says: "If we had someone in our life who treated us the way we treat ourselves, we would have gotten rid of them a long time ago."

Bringing these underdeveloped parts of ourselves up-to-date requires two things; integrity and openness to others. Integrity with ourselves and openness to others as they go through the process and grow / change.

This is pretty much what happens inside all of our minds at one time or another.

Integrity: "Go clean your desk!"

Me: "But I dont want to...." *pouty face* "Its so much easier to sit here and click the remote with one hand while I eat cheesy-poofs with the other, look at all the thigns I can do with my hands!"

Integrity: "I dont fucking care if you dont want to, I require it! Suck it up snowflake, the choice is simple. Stop using that dress to wipe your tears and snot and go clean the desk even though you dont want to OR IM LEAVING, and it takes a lot of work to get me to come back!"

Me: "Why are you shouting? I dont understand..."

Me: "Hello...?"

Me: "Whats wrong with my dress?" "Hello.....?"

Having integrity doesnt mean having all the answers. It means being honest with ourselves about what our priorities are and learning to be satisfied with slightly longer term goals than with immediate goals. It does feel good to not clean my desk. It even gives me ammunition to turn the whole situation into a holy war by declaring my sacred desk-keeping skills under attack.

For a long time, I dont think Ive been entirely honest with myself. About a week ago I finally admitted it while I was feeling particularly good and had the emotional energy to create movement in that space. You know what happened? I cleaned my desk. It felt so trmendously UNDERWHELMING. I was kind of baffled, and decided to keep going. I cleaned not only my desk, but I sorted through an entire years worth of papers from school. I sorted through my old study materials for board exams, and you know what I did with all that energy and a huge pile of emotionally-laiden paperwork? I fucking burned it in the fireplace! No recycling took place with that stack! It felt soooo good! Im glad I finally did it.

Now the space is finally cleared. What am I going to do with a clean desk? I dont exactly know how to use even a dirty desk... Oh well, I guess I will have to figure that out as I go.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Zen for the day... all didactic-n-shit.

This video is called, "Read a book". It features such wholesome life lessons as:
- Read books
- Raise your children
- Your body needs water
- Invest in real estate
- Brush your teeth
- The importance of Hygiene

Not Safe for Work.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Zen for the day...

"Maybe this world is another planets hell."

~ Aldous Huxley

On encounters with the raw-ness of life...

During my second year of medical school, I lost a friend. We all lost a friend. She was riding her bike home from class and was hit by a speeding driver. He was under no influence other than anxiety over not being somewhere else. We all experience this at one time or another. He dealt with it by speeding and disregarding a yellow light. His anxiety cost my friend her life.

She inspired me to pick up my passions. One day in class we were sitting next to each other and we struck up a conversation about passion and how we each follow it. I told her that one of my biggest passions is music, and that I play guitar. Because of who she was, her next request was that I learn something new and play for her. After all, she would love to hear it and I would love to play it, We would both benefit. It took me a while, but I finally found a piece to learn. It was really exciting, and a beautiful composition for the classical guitar.

All quarter I had been studying the piece of music. Learning it slowly and methodically. She had asked me to play it for her when I was finished. Each week she checked in with me to see how my progress was coming, and encouraged me to keep going, even through midterms (which is no small task!). She was a shining star, one of the only people I have ever met with that level of compassion and lively embrace of life's mysteries. I couldnt wait to play it for her when I was finished. It was simply a matter of time. Occasionally, we cannot really understand the meaning of this phrase.

I worked on finishing the piece over the course of a weekend in the winter quarter. On that Monday I wrote her and e-mail and said that I would love to get together soon because I was practically finished. She replied on Wednesday that we should set up a lunch date for the following Monday. I replied on Thursday and said that worked out perfectly. I had another weekend to practice and appreciate the experience of choosing something difficult to learn while being supported by a friend.

On Friday my wife and I went to dinner with some close friends. We were leaving the restaurant to meet them for after dinner drinks when I got the call. She had been hit by a truck on her way home from school that afternoon. She had suffered massive injuries to her skull immediately upon contact with the road and was clinically brain dead by the time she arrived in the hospital.

We grieved as a loving community, as a group of friends, as classmates, all of us mourning the passing of a rare kind of person. We knew we were worse off without her. We still are.

I never was able to play that piece of music for her. I played it in dedication to her many times, and for other friends who were close with her. But never for her in person. I miss her, and every time I hear this song, I think of her.

Here is the piece that I learned and dedicated to my lost friend. It is "Julia Florida" by Augustin Barrios Mongore:


I always wondered...

This dramatization explains a lot.




More fabulous videos at:
http://www.youtube.com/user/EdwardCurrent

Monday, September 22, 2008

Just cause you feel it, doesnt mean its there...

If only it was this easy to get bacon:



When I was younger, and still living with my parents, I would do my best to skip out on going to church. I would pretend to be sick (didnt work), tell my mom I didnt want to go (didnt work), or pretend to sleep until she left the house (sometimes worked). I didnt really have a sense of anything other than self-interest. I didnt like going to church, well thats not entirely true. I abhorred it. I detested it. It felt, and did the last time I went, like an extremely boring, sham way to spend sunday mornings. If I had known how to then, I probably would have sold my soul on e-bay and then claimed that going to church wouldnt help me at all... as I would then be without proper ownership of the soul I would be saving... (if youre eleven and reading this blog, thats a sure way to get out of going to church. I recommend doing that asap!)... alas, What could I learn in that building? Obviously, it didnt teach me how to do practical things, like to use commas. If there is a ubiquitous spiritual depravity ravaging modern life, it is not to be remedied by sitting in a church once a week, pretending to talk with a imagined friend who lives in heaven... wherever that is located.



No matter what I did I would usually end up sitting in the congregation, singing poorly, watching my prayers go by my mental computer screen in all the fonts I could imagine, and ultimately wait for the two hour service and half hour socializing to end. In my memory I would somehow ALWAYS and without exception, sit near the one old lady who always smelled like garam-masala mixed with burnt hair... or near the other one who would fart and pretend not to notice. Farting in a crowd is not nice. Farting in a crowded room with a captive audience who have nowhere to go and insufficient ventilation is flat out rude. But she didnt care, she would eventually live with Jesus. Surely Jesus smiled upon such behavior, or lack of bowel control. Such was the nature of my experience with Jehovah's Witnesses.

This wasnt always the pattern. When I was even younger, my family attended a Lutheran church. My parents went to the 'adult' service and I went to Sunday school. I never figured out why they called it the 'adult' service, a title clearly used in modern life to label 3 kinds of categories 1) fully grown or developed, 2) emotionally or mentally mature, 3) sexually explicit or pornographic. Other than the nearly naked image of a man at the front of the room, I never fully classified church services into any of these categories. It shall forever be a puzzle to me...

I asked too many questions and was told to sit and be obedient, because Jesus wanted me to be that way. It was frustrating, but came to an end when we arrived early one week and found the preachers children playing with an ouija board while the preacher was giving an impromptu doomsday service (No, not the unholy comic arch-villain aka'd as doomsday... that would have been cool and we probably would have stayed). Apparently neither of these things sat well with my mom. We left that church and through some miraculous act of na-da, our bodies were spared from the inevitable bolt of lightning destined to flash the moment we set foot outside. Like much of religion, it simply didnt happen.

Then began the search. It was springtime.

After a while, some neighbors down the road heard we were looking for a new holy-house to hang in, so they invited us to come to their fabulous baptist summer blow-out bash. Baptists are known for many things, including but not limited to alliteration and boisterously fun biblical interpretation. Of course we went, how could anyone want to miss out? It was late summer then and my memory of the food would normally be the traumatic element, however on this occasion things got a little hairy.

In the middle of service, the speakers changed and my mom got up to use the restroom. We were on the innermost place of the pew, next to the isle in the back of the room. Once she left I was the closest person to the isle. The pastor (probably recognizing that I was a new face) told me to come with him as he came down the isle from finishing his talk. Of course I went with him, my mom was already out of the room and the neighbor mom said it was fine!

My next memory is one of being interrogated in his office. He was demanding that I repent my sins or I would burn in hell with Satan laughing while he stoked the fire. About ten minutes of this went by until my mother began to rampage through the building, looking for her son. She finally burst in on us and interrupted the gestapo proceedings. We went into the main hall and found our friends who had brought us in their vehicle. My mother explained what happened and demanded to leave, but they refused and told us to wait until the service was finished.

We waited outside on the steps together, fending off mosquitos and nausea from baptist picnic food.

A few months went by, during which time my mother gave birth to my sister. Interestingly enough, my sister and the ability to think for myself are two very good things to come of this story, and two of the things I value most in my life currently.

A few months later, we had a new family routine and an episcopal church. We had been going to this new church for about three months if I recall correctly. I learned how to draw the infinty symbol on their chalk boards, I liked the group of children I was with. One day when my mom picked me up from school, we needed to stop at church before going home. I sat in the passenger side of the truck and watched her walk up the snowy, icy walkway to go speak with the pastor. I watched her slip and break her leg on that walkway. I went inside and had the pastor call 911. I also had a hard time understanding why I couldnt ride in the ambulance when it came. It must have been that confusion which set me up to completely miss the reason why the pastor refused to salt the walk when my mom could finally come back to church, only now with crutches, a cast, and bolts in her leg. He said it was gods will that she fell, and he would not purchase salt to put on the walkway if no one else needed it to get into the building.

Because of limited mobility and the good judgment of my father, we stopped attending that church.

At this time there was a lot on our collective family plate. I was in school, my father worked full time, and my mother could barely manage to care for her infant daughter, much less hold down a job or manage a home on her own (for whatever reason, thats how my parents roll). Imagine our surprise, and my mothers delight, when the Jehovah's Witnesses not only knocked on the door but offered to help with the laundry, cooking, and cleaning as well. Yipee Skippy! Skittle-y-doo!

I wrestled with going to yet another new church for a long time. I would go when it was absolutely necessary in my moms eyes, yet after all the run-around, my father set a boundary on my behalf to enable me to choose (somewhat) if I would actually go.

There is so much more to write, I must hold back at this point and leave with one final thought. Transubstantiation is weird shit. Whether its the saved Witnesses taking the communion supper, or Catholics taking the Eucharist, I always thought of it as some kind of bizarre Zombie ritual. Eating the flesh of your savior as an act of maintenance for your eternal life and place in his kingdom of resurrected souls-in-the-flesh. Here is an artists depiction of what my adolescent mind was preoccupied with during prayer (in various fonts, of course):


Friday, September 19, 2008

Thursday, September 18, 2008

Stop and... breathe?


There is no surrogate for experience.

Occaisionally, I dont know what to think...

Zen for the day...

Jealousy |ˈjeləsē|
noun ( pl. -ousies)
the state or feeling of being jealous : a sharp pang of jealousy | resentments and jealousies festered.
ORIGIN Middle English : from Old French gelosie, from gelos (see jealous ).

And of course, what is jealousy if not tainted with a streak of indignation?

Some comedy has more than a hint of truth...



You know, even though I have deep personal and philosophical differences (aka: objections) with Christianity... if one consents to the majority of the doctrines of original sin, and the trinity, and accepts them along with most modern Christian thinking... this comic is true. The technical snag, as I understand it, is that "God" did not create humans with original sin but this was a consequence of Adam's choice and result of the fall... Whether or not it was a fair consequence, and whether or not Adam knew that weighing in the balance of his choice was eternal suffering for the entirety of humankind... this is a discussion for another day. Regardless, with or without debate, I love the 'Jesus Jazz Hands!'

If this is not the case, I would love and explanation. Feel free to leave a comment.



For other reading of general interest, check out:
Mithraism and Christianity



Image reposted from:
http://www.craschworks.com/wp-content/uploads/2008/08/tadah_jesus.jpg

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Totally badass


Supreme Court Rules Death Penalty Is 'Totally Badass'

Zen for the day

This is great!

http://www.churchsigngenerator.com/

Embracing uncertainty

In the last couple years, almost every person I know has been faced with an increasing amount of uncertainty in their life. This uncertainty seems to directly provoke a sense of being unhappy, or unfulfilled. Its likely to be everyone, but honestly I havent asked everyone. Some friends say that it feels less stable to live their lives, some say it feels more complicated as time goes by. I say these are all forms of uncertainty.

How do you cope with uncertainty?
How do you tolerate the anxiety of the unknown?

The band Death Cab for Cutie put it very well in the song "What Sarah Said", with the lyrics 'Every plan is a tiny prayer to father time'. We invest deeply in the idea of security. As a culture, we are taught that planning and investing in security will bring a pay off... a reward...

Planning and working towards something guarantees future safety from danger or threat.

This is how we think. This is what we teach ourselves, but is it true?

I observe an increased feeling of uncertainty within myself and my friends while we are all acting as cogs in the machine of cultural planning. We have learned to want a guarantee, and in turn it seems we have produced (manufactured) an increased sense of insecurity... an increased sense of uncertainty. After all, as a consumer, we can pay for a guarantee on any product... why arent we able to pay for a guarantee on our own sense of satisfaction. Thats what consuming is all about... right?

Its not that life now is less certain than life at any other time. Sure, some variables may have changed in the long run to make life slightly more strange or dangerous. Overall though, life is a heck of a lot more certain than it was even fifty years ago. Look at public health statistics and compare todays numbers here in the western world with just about any stats from any time period. Things are, in general, looking up.

So how come it feels worse, and how do we deal with it?

One possibility is this: feeling uncertain serves a purpose for each of us. I dont mean to sound cliche when I say that we should each figure out what that is for ourselves. But we should. It may be that feeling uncertain about your life indicates that you are out of touch with who you are. It may be a symptom of a lack of meaningful experiences in your life. It may simply be a signal that you feel overwhelmed by options. In any case, feeling uncertain has a lot to teach us. In a similar way to feeling dissatisfied, feeling uncertain indicates a lack of fulfillment... as if praying to father time could really satisfy anyone. It can only prep us to feel satisfaction when the time comes that things go according to our expectations.

Some people interpret feeling uncertain in other ways. I think a lot of people fear it. Admittedly, uncertainty is not the nicest feeling but many react to it. Some people try to reason it away. And while rationality will solve many problems, it rarely is able to express what we feel in our hearts.

Uncertainty about your life, is felt in your heart.

Some people try to force it away by doing things that dont work, but doing them harder. This lacks creativity, something that I think is essential to coping with uncertainty. Learning to tolerate who you are and, to a certain degree, be vulnerable with this is also essential to dealing with uncertainty. This enables you to be true to yourself, not that any of us are really good at this... but that we abstain from judgement about it and keep working towards synthesizing our own happiness rather than blaming ourselves for not stumbling across a romantic kind of good fortune. Synthetic happiness is every bit as genuine as 'natural' happiness, it may even be more authentic because it truly comes from within. Interestingly to me, I think many religious experiences fall into the category of synthetic happiness. In a good way, we have learned to create happiness. Yet ironically, many of us dont realize how to do this... even though they have been doing it for a long time.

The idea of happiness is romanitc, and its also related to uncertainty. The experience of happiness may be entirely different than the idea of it. I think its possible for a person to be simultaneously uncertain AND happy, though this requires growth. Many people have not reached this point because growth is not always comfortable and many times in order to grow, we must trade a sense of the familiar with temporary anxiety and step into the unknown. And I dont know anyone who does this on Friday nights...

Tolerating our own anxiety in order to grow seems to be a direct path to finding or manufacturing happiness in the face of uncertainty. Along the way, we get a clearer sense of self, we learn to be true to it, and we are forced to be creative in order to maintain appreciation for the long, strange trip.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Zen for the day

Adjusting my sail

I realized recently. I realized that my history is full of things I am glad for, but that I would not choose to experience again.
"How odd", I thought.

I think that sometimes we do have the wrong experience at the wrong time. I dont think its simply a matter of how we tell our story, or how we look at our lives. Events like these tend to build character, then again so does diarrhea. The irony is: life happens. And it doesnt happen to me, it happens through me.

But I dont always like the fact that I create. This is why it doesnt matter how you look at things. Yes, it can change your attitude, but it doesnt change what happens... or at least we can not know. Life still happens, and the experience of dissatisfaction is one of the truest ways to come to know ones self.

The thing about dissatisfied remarks is that they expect what isnt. They reveal a desire for an alternate to have happened. A desire to have experienced something different, like another choice we believe would have made us happier, or editing out something traumatic that did happen.

I think one irony of beauty is this: with only satisfying experiences, I would not cultivate my own desire. This is different from attachment, but thats another story. I, however, find satisfaction in spending time both satisfied and dissatisfied. Cycling through this contrast allows me to both grow (individuate), and become closer to myself.

So, to both begin and finish, I realized recently that I would like to experience things that I both enjoy and would do again. Then I quickly came to the thought that my pattern in life now is to struggle and then find satisfaction, usually through movement and growth... it used to be that I would be satisfied and then find deeper struggles in an effort to stay put.

Growth, it seems, is the key. Growth enables me to both become familiar with who I am, and experience the terrifying mystery of life. Its a good thing I have already learned to trust myself.

Sunday, September 14, 2008