Unknowingly seeking no more.

My new favorite quote is:

The pot calling the kettle black.

I prefer the interpretation that the kettle is a shiny metal and the pot sees itself in the kettle’s reflection.

It is said that 80% of the population is religiously tied, which means they believe there is some sort of purpose, justification, and/or order to life. 20% are agnostics and atheists who don’t care to decide on the subject or decided there is no higher order, respectively.

I’d like to think that we should be free to think what we like, so long as everyone respects one another.

I wasn’t conscious, but I wanted to belong.

So, I started to identify myself as a Buddhist. Then started to identify as an atheist. I didn’t understand where agnostics came in, but now that is where I’d like to be… not that I have to belong ;)

Slowly, I caught the meditation wave, read some Buddhist books by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama. Then I attended 3x 10-day vipassana silent meditation retreats in the lineage of SN Goenka. Then I attended an 8-day course as a server.

When I first spent 10 full days only meditating and in silence, I felt empowered. The 2nd gave me a meditation high after enduring the agonizing pain in my legs, and I had since been seeking that “high” when I meditate. The 3rd felt like prison, and I wondered if meditation is about realizing the prison in your mind by imprisoning your body by meditating all day in silence.

As a server I felt a divide, they tell you the students (meditators) come first, but the assistant teachers (the teacher being Goenka himself who died in 2013) who I’d think a senior server logically, and our example were strangely demanding. Naturally I felt like a slave more and more as the days passed. I was not unhappy, just felt burdened and tired. The last day when the silence was broken for the students I felt so relieved I was told I snored during the afternoon sitting, LOL!

Goenka wants you to meditate everyday. He wants you to quit all intoxicants and be honest and all these wholesome stuff. Because apparently, he walks the path before you… sounding just like a religious leader.

I somehow fell into this thinking that I had to walk on the path… and strive to be ascetic.

IN the end, meditation made me realize I was seeking an answer that religions answer – you will know upon death (or in the case of Buddhism upon enlightenment if you reach it before you die) if you follow my way.

Well. I’m comfortable living without conviction and will always keep my doubts so that I can have an open mind.

I no longer seek my life’s purpose nor enlightenment though, I am happy to just live my life with the small pleasures I may indulge in.

On trust, community, society

Inspired by: Trust by Jim Copliend

trust: to rely on expected standards of behavior. Svendsen delineates three kinds of trust in Tillid: Tænkepauser 4 (http://www.tænkepauser.dk). Individual trust draws on past experience between individuals. Individual trust alone may not serve the greater good (even criminal gang members trust each other), so we must add the dimension of community. We exhibit social trust towards strangers with whom we may share common culture and its implied moral framework. For example, between Danes, one’s word is one’s word. Last is trust for institutions. Low corruption leads to trust in the government, which is a boon for business. Smart Trust by Covey (Simon & Schuster, 2012) relates a direct correlation between per capita GDP and trust at a national level (p. 15). …

existentialism, is about responsible action without regard to any pre-formulated consequences.  Existensialistic efforts revolve around individual initiative or small, closed systems; agile approaches embraces open systems…

Svendson relates: “Social trust is thus the ability to work in groups on common goals. As the American political scientist Elinor Ostrom, who received the Nobel Prize in 2009, writes, voluntary cooperation builds on self-policing, thereby establishing an informal institution without written rules. This stands in opposition to forced cooperation enforced by an authority in accordance with formal written rules.” Forced. Enforced. Authority. Formal. Read: Not agile…

Untrusting societies waste resources on burglar alarms, lawyers, contracts, and security. Those, like social contracts, are forms of control. Svendsen adds, “If confidence in the community disappears, things become less flexible and more cumbersome.” Reach beyond individual trust and social trust to create open communities of trust in your institutions.

Obviously less developed countries are simpler and maybe that is the appeal of traveling to different parts of the world. Yes the developed world is very comfortable and “trustworthy” although we spend countless hours tackling paperwork, money on insurance and security… I would like to eliminate the waste and be more trusting and trustworthy.

On dependence or attachment with regard to discipline

Buddhism preaches non-attachment.

Humans are categorized as social beings and depend on each other and live in communities.

Attachment parenting guides parents to nurture their offsprings to learn “good” attachment to build confidence and grow as an individual.

Buddhism also preaches enlightenment which alludes to becoming ascetic.

So… how does this non-attachment theory apply to human beings??

What is wrong with attachment?

Buddhism says it’s suffering. But without suffering, maybe there is no joy!

It seems to me that Buddhism is very much attached to the idea of suffering and concerned about eliminating suffering… maybe I am short-sighted, I don’t know.

I also wonder what kind of community ascetics can really gather. By its definition it seems to me that they lack any connection to the warmth of love that comes from empathy?!

However, I do agree with non-attachment in a sense that one is better off keeping an open mind. Be open to other ways, other people and their perspectives.

And also not to be attached to your efforts in a sense that there is any accomplishments you hold on to as glory, that you keep on learning and putting in efforts because that is life. – and that is the meaning of discipline.

Conflict is essential for growth!

Sign Up and Fight! by Jim (“Cope”) Coplien

It’s hard to grow in an organization where everyone shares all your views.
You hope to learn when you sign up to a online discussion group; you hope to be challenged when you read a book. You take up a job not because you can do it perfectly, but because it will bring you to a point of creating value unachievable from your current state. Value comes in what the French call différance (different from the French word for difference, which is différence) — an ongoing interplay of conflicting ideas that play out in dialectic.

Conflict is an essential ingredient of growth.
I’ll claim that the more intense the conflict, the more rapid the growth, within a certain field of play. That field of play is sometimes difficult to delineate, and this installment is about those boundaries.

I often join organizations for the sake of the challenge. “Joining” ranges from having beers with fans of the opposing football team during a championship match to devoting my career efforts to an organization that I believe I can better change from the inside than from the outside. Neither of these postures says anything inherently bad about any football team or any organization. However, no organization (or football team) is ever perfect, and the dialectic process changes both object and subject in the process.

There are always rules for “joining.” It means playing fairly by the rules of their game. If I join an online discussion group I should not represent myself as an unqualified opponent of the foundations that draw the group together, even if I think they are all misguided. I should instead play within the group’s own rules to deconstruct our respective posture and lead all of us into learning. This is respect for the individuals that I join and courtesy in my engagement with them. Play clean, by the rules.

The group may expect something of me for the prize of joining up. If it’s a job, I need to produce. If it’s a club, I’m expected to attend and engage. Joining only to affect your agenda is subterfuge. Be trustworthy and loyal.

One rule of the game is to tackle one issue at a time. If I jump all over the place, dodging when cornered, and ever charging up new hills, I’ll at best be viewed as a flake and will certainly not achieve my objective. Paradigm shifts rarely happen from within but rather through changes in the environment or in how we view it; it’s difficult to project those views from inside a system. One step at a time.

It is always important to be open for change myself. If I make myself part of the system and if I am changing it, then I must also be willing to change. This means being able to take a dispassionate stance, at least occasionally, and of course it implies great listening skills. Keep an open mind.

Be yourself. It’s important to be genuine. People have learned over many centuries to be able to smell politics. Let the chips fall where they may. Be friendly and helpful.

You may trigger emotion — emotion which in turn can cause fear or insecurity to rise in you. Follow your heart, and do what is right. Be brave.

Most important, be aware of the prize. By joining and fighting, am I giving or taking? It’s O.K. to benefit both from association with a group of people and from the debates that go along with that association. But you will lose trust if the prize is the pride of being right or personal gain from lining them up to your position. Be generous.

What is your duty?

Robert A. Heinlein puts it so elegantly!

Do not confuse “duty” with what other people expect of you; they are utterly different.

Duty is a debt you owe to yourself to fulfill obligations you have assumed voluntarily.

Paying that debt can entail anything from years of patient work to instant willingness to die. Difficult it may be, but the reward is self-respect. But there is no reward at all for doing what other people expect of you, and to do so is not merely difficult, but impossible. It is easier to deal with a footpad than it is with the leech who wants “just a few minutes of your time, please—this won’t take long.”

Time is your total capital, and the minutes of your life are painfully few.

If you allow yourself to fall into the vice of agreeing to such requests, they quickly snowball to the point where these parasites will use up 100 percent of your time—and squawk for more!

So learn to say No—and to be rude about it when necessary. Otherwise you will not have time to carry out your duty, or to do your own work, and certainly no time for love and happiness.
The termites will nibble away your life and leave none of it for you.
This rule does not mean that you must not do a favor for a friend, or even a stranger.

But let the choice be yours. Don’t do it because it is “expected” of you.

On preparing an advanced directive

It has been on my list of things to do but I have not had the chance to get to it unfortunately. But it is very important to outline what you would like done in the event that you fall into a situation where you can no longer communicate your wishes.

I’d like to outline them here for reference so that at least my family may know what I wish:

No experimental surgeryNo life-support when
brain death
partial permanent damage of brain controlling vital function

… I realize I have to do more research as I am not familiar with what the clauses must include…
Anyways, it’s vital that you live knowing that we all die and it is vastly better to be prepared.

minimalist approach

  • dress simple

choose plain functional clothes
choose black/tan sneakers

no more accessories

  • live simple

minimize the routine waste and use natural products
—–make the switch—-
all your cleansers (shampoo, bodysoap etc) to bronners of your choice*
toothpaste to bronners or salt
lotion/moisturizer to cold-pressed oil of your choice
toilet paper to water and rag
tampons/pads to menstrual cup

  • eat simple

eat more raw fresh local produce
only when hungry
drink water
buy in small quantity frequently

  • organize occasionally

get rid of stuff not used over a year
do not take if not necessary

*Dr. Bronners Castile Soap