I began learning and practicing meditation four years ago. At the time I was emotionally and materially wealthy, but I felt wretched throughout the day. Especially when I was alone in a public setting. It is hard to explain why one feels lonely or sad, or even happy and excited… when one lives whatever thought stream happens to exist at the time without being aware of it. It’s similar to being on a boat that is buffeted by strong currents. Only the experience is heart wrenching if we have no navigational skills. You get pulled in different directions, at nature’s mercy. The reason why I am talking about this, is that four years later my relationship with this thought stream is very different. Let’s go over distinct experiences that I had which seem to have a lot in common.
How about I start this article by sharing a quote with you from Bruce Lee’s Striking Thoughts:
Fate without work is death.
After The Secret a book by Rhonda Byrne gained a lot of attention, the belief that what we think will help us become what we want has gained widespread notoriety. In all truth this isn’t a new idea and books like As a Man Thinketh by James Allen were already describing this idea. And in all truth Bruce Lee’s Striking Thoughts affirms this with another statement in another chapter:
Become what you think – What you HABITUALLY THINK largely determines what you will ultimately become.
This is most notably tied to the idea of optimism. Which is often what people think of when they are asked to change their thought patterns. That is a great idea for someone displaying nihilist behavior or plain pessimism, BUT ONLY if that individual is already putting himself out there and getting rejected for his bad demeanor will it be worth something. If you tell the nihilist or the pessimist to “brighten up” whilst he is not acting at all, he might switch camps, but that won’t make him happier. That’s where unbacked optimism does just as much personal harm as being negative and guilt-ridden. The Tao talks about going beyond pessimism and optimism because ultimately they are two sides of the same coin; they are one. To grow potatoes all conditions must be met. You need to know about the seasons, about when it is optimal to pick them up, about how often to water them, about what kind of dirt and climate they thrive in, otherwise your crops will yield you fuck-all. The experience will certainly be instructive though(if you objectively evaluated what went wrong). Since you put in the work then your attitude and your response to what happened will be a key factor to your next step. Notice how no details are left to chance though. Everything is put to scrutiny. Living through those experiences unfailingly is the only way to guarantee success. Perhaps not physically, but psychologically being certain that we did it all, in other words, spectacular failure, will feel like a gain.
Let’s remember to consolidate our optimism by backing it up with real tangible actions. How often have I heard that holding a gratitude journal is beneficial? How about going a step further and telling someone we know we are grateful to them. And why not even go further and do some volunteering with worst-off citizens to realize our place and bring definite change. I do all these things and I will keep doing so, to the extent of my capacity. Those actions put a practical emphasis on living, my thoughts are backed and ready to break walls.
I’ve been looking at tree’s a lot lately. Ever since Alan Watts talked about tree’s as the “hands of the earth waving at you from the surface” it brought them to my attention. I’m starting to think that anything in this universe can be used to understand the world. When I look at tree’s I notice how every branch reaches out in a different direction, but that ultimately it is connected to a trunk. In other words, every branch shares a relationship with other branches. In terms of location they might all be situated at different spatial points, but they can be drawn back to one common “path”. Another interesting property of the tree is that it grows out of a seed unto this world. It literally came out of a small seed. Which came from another tree. Which came from another tree. Which came from another tree. And so on… We might not have the tools to trace back the original creation right now, but a simple hypothesis based on induction is convincing enough to understand that these growths form a repeated pattern.
Last Friday I was confronted with a peculiar situation. Peculiar in the sense that it is not something that I am often exposed to. To bring you into context I had purchased tickets to an electronic music event. I had coordinated the purchases between a friend from university and a group of friends I have been hanging out with for a few months now. By coordination I mean, I had independent conversations with both parties that confirmed they would purchase tickets to the event. So far so good.
I was confused with the definition of integrity. To be honest, I never took that much time to think of what it really meant to me or how it could lead to making better decisions in life. Obviously integrity is not a concept that exists if we remove all sentient beings that populate earth, but it can help us find an anchor in an ever-changing world. After all, as soon as we are brought into this world we face decisions, each action echoes in eternity. That is why I believe that understanding integrity is an invaluable addition to our mental framework in effective everyday living.