Quietus

This morning while in the process of supposedly donating rice to the hungry of the world and building my vocabulary, a definite win/win opportunity courtesy of http://www.freerice.com, I came across the word quietus.

The vocabulary game on freerice.com challenges players to match a given word with a synonym or near-matching word.  Quietus, defined on dictionary.com as “a finishing stroke; anything that effectually ends or settles,” was paired with the word “death” on freerice.com.  This match prompted some pondering. What is the relationship between the root of quietus, quiet, and death?

In death, our bodies are quiet, at least as far as human hearing allows.  They are still making some noise, since they are still moving and disintegrating, but our ears are generally not that fine-tuned.  Nonetheless, is referring to death as quietness a fair claim?

Is death anything more than quietness?  Silence is certainly one of the defining characteristics of a dead body.  Then again, we can also be silent while living and breathing.  So I wonder, does practicing silence bring us closer with death?  And if we practice so much silence that we actually become at peace with our quietness, then do we awaken to peace with death?

Hmm…quite possibly indeed!  We can imitate death with stillness and silence, and to the extent that we are at peace with such an imitation, perhaps we can overcome our fear of death.

What does stillness and silence look like?  A meditative posture!  Or better yet…sleep!  Sleep is one of the most relaxing and enjoyable things we do, right?

Quietus…death…meditation…sleep…none really sound so bad after all.  Meditation is actually one of my favorite activities, followed closely by writing on here, breathing, and laughing for apparently no reason.  Then follows sleep.

I chose to write about ‘Quietus’ this morning because I know death is commonly identified as one of the greatest of human fears, right behind public speaking.  Yet, if we ever take time to ponder death, I think we’ll all grow into much greater peace and acceptance.  It might not be much more than silence of our physical bodies.  We can all bring ourselves a bit closer to death by practicing a bit of silence from time to time, maybe even take a day of silence, just for the experience.

Giving yourself the gift of silence will expand your awareness, heighten your appreciation for the gifts bestowed upon you freely at birth, and also grow you in comfort and connection with the idea of being physically silent for perhaps a longer period of time.  We all talk too much anyway… 😉

Walking

Isn’t it wonderful, just to walk?

How I can move my legs, I really don’t know.

Science might try to explain it with neurons and axons but it’s really just a show.

The Greatest Spectacle on Earth it might be called.

Moving our bodies is a miracle after all.

Yet, so easily we take this gift for granted.

Forgetting how precious this life really is.

One flick of a switch or the click of a trigger and boom!

We might be gone…

Let’s stop taking this life for granted, and enjoy what we got 🙂

There is nothing more we really need,

to enjoy this Here & Now, this eternity.

Smile and Shine, Laugh and Dine

on the ambrosial food of water, oxygen, Spirit,

flowing all around, free for all.

It sustains and nourishes,

for free!

We did nothing to earn it, yet we’re given it all –

for free!

What a gift, what a gift.

Breathe it in.

The Greatest Speech Ever Made

 

Becoming Zero: The Power of Humility

One of the most transformational books I’ve read is, “Gandhi: How One Man Changed Himself to Change the World,” by Eknath Easwaran.  In this book, Easwaran cites one of the great sources of Gandhi’s power as his frequent meditations on becoming zero.

What does it mean to meditate on becoming zero?  I understand it as focusing on complete humility.  The ego may easily trick us into thinking we are big and important and that the problems we face are worthy of thought and concern.  Yet, if instead focused on ‘being zero,’ we’d all probably quickly realize how trivial so many of our ‘problems’ really are.  Becoming zero and embracing humility allows us to connect with the greater whole of humanity.  It can also help us realize how we always have plenty to be grateful for, and in so many ways we were blessed with bodies, minds, and existence itself without necessarily earning it in any way.  The Creator gave us life for free!   Merely existing and being able to say, “I am” is a profound testimony to the awesomeness of Creation.  What more could we ask for?

Humility may initially seem like an expression of weakness, yet ultimately it is a source of great strength.  From humility not only follows deep appreciation and reverence for life, but it also includes an embrace of ignorance.  When we accept ourselves as ignorant, we open ourselves up to the possibility of exploring the world freely without conforming to the status quo or allowing limitations to be placed on our actions. Embracing ignorance opens us more fully to allowing experience to be our teacher.  It also illuminates to us the irrationality of so many of our fears which might try to limit us from following our hearts.

From a mindset of humility, one moves through the world on a quest of dedicated service to the Highest Good, without much of a focus on one’s own personal concerns.  A humble person will still take care of basic needs, yet the orientation one has towards life extends outwardly to serving all of humanity, not just one’s own interests.  A humble person might very well imagine themselves as a single cell in the organism of humanity, slowly but surely playing it’s role as a servant to the welfare of all humanity, not just itself.

My Experience with ‘Becoming Zero’

About a week ago, my word for the day was ‘zero,’ so as I walked or breathed I would think of zero.  When I allowed the concept of zero to fill me, I felt myself become smaller.  And, the smaller I became, the more I found myself smiling.  As I continued to accept my smallness, the less I resisted the present moment and the more I grew in acceptance of everything around me.  As I grew in acceptance, I couldn’t help but smile.  I accepted the transient nature of my own bodily existence and let go.  My ego was trying to tell me to go places and talk more and think about the future, but when I focused more and more on zero, all of the futuristic thinking and concerns for status and approval simply faded away.  I was free!

In becoming smaller, I grew tremendously in my openness and connection with the Present Moment, and I felt completely free to smile and enjoy.  As I began to smile more, my friend who I was with turned to a Bible passage about not concerning ourselves with trying to write the Word of God on paper, but instead allowing the Word to be written on our hearts.  So maybe it’s time to stop writing so much?  Then again, just yesterday I read a prescription followed by geniuses according to David Hawkins in his book Power vs. Force: “Do what you like to do best, and do it to the very best of your ability.”  So here I am, writing…and…Loving!

A Purity of Purpose: Effortless Flow

I started thinking about purpose in my life around 2-3 years ago.  Hal Urban’s Life’s Greatest Lessons probably prompted my quest for finding my purpose in life, and then a year later I discovered Napoleon Hill’s words of wisdom on YouTube that made me think long and hard about my Definite Major Purpose.

On my quest for purpose, I’ve read the purposes of many other people in an attempt to craft my own into a single, succinct sentence.  I’ve had mixed success with crafting such a sentence, but recently I’ve been simplifying my life a lot and am also looking to simplify my purpose, perhaps down to a single word.

During this simplification process, I’ve found that the foundation of a powerful life purpose, one that can be looked to at any moment as a guiding light along the journey through life, is that the purpose is pure.  When the purpose is pure, everything else will follow.  The key is to purify your purpose so that you fully align with it, so that every ounce of your being agrees with it.  At any moment in life, you should be able to look to your Major Definite Purpose and orient your thoughts and actions to pursue the fulfillment of your purpose.

What is a Pure Purpose?  I understand it as a purpose that is ultimately dedicated to the Highest Good of All or in Service to the Most High.  I believe that no matter what else a powerful statement of purpose might entail, so long as the purpose is focused on Service to the Highest Good of All, everything else is peanuts.

A question I commonly ask myself is, “How may I serve the Highest Good of All?”  The response I usually receive is to Love and be Fully Present, Here & Now. Live in the Moment!  By connecting with the Moment, means of serving to the Highest Good of All will arise in your conscience.  From that point, as As Steve Jobs said, “Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

I’ll be the first to admit that letting any notion of the future completely go and living Fully Present in the Here & Now is not really the easiest thing to do, and such an idea can actually stir fear in a lot of people.  So, maybe living Fully Present in the Moment is not for everyone, but then again…it might be!  At least for chunks of time throughout our days, we can open ourselves up completely to the Here & Now, open ourselves up to God, and let go – simply pursuing the Highest Good of All in the Here & Now.

Another way I’ve thought about ‘pursuing the Highest Good of All’ is to simply choose Love in every Moment.  Focus more and more on Love, choose to Love, and watch your consciousness open to all kinds of opportunities to Love and grow in Love in the Moment.  Instead of Love, you could basically choose any positive verb like accept, appreciate, be grateful, live in reverence, help, serve, give, grow, teach, enjoy, or even celebrate.  Choosing to live in a state of celebration as if life is one big party is aligned with service to the Highest Good of All, because the more we celebrate and enjoy life, the more those around us enjoy and might very well awaken to the Divine Gift and Miracle of Creation.  So too, the more we Love, the more those who receive our Love may awaken to the Divine Love that is always Present.

So, perhaps I should clarify.  I have not necessarily chosen a highly specific and methodical life purpose.  Rather, I have chosen to Serve the Highest Good of All as best as I know, to Love, to Serve, to Give, to Grow, to Raise Consciousness and Awareness, to promote Peace, to Educate, to Liberate, to Awaken, to Connect, to Forgive, to Accept Everything as It Is, to Cherish and Live in Reverence for All of Life and Creation, to Celebrate, and Enjoy 🙂

Or, I could just go just go with the simpler and more succinct words of Gandhi, “Renounce and Enjoy.”

Whatever a focus on the above verbs leads me to, so be it!  Sometimes it may lead to writing, other times to laughing or even crying.  The key is the focus on Goodness. From there, all else flows effortlessly.

I wonder what would happen if someone simply chose ‘to Love’ for the rest of life, not getting any more specific than that.  My guess is all Goodness would abundantly flow in their direction, and they would be rich indeed.

 

 

Street Retreat Reflection: What is Freedom? How about Absolute Freedom?

The Street Retreat in NYC opened me to a much deeper understanding of freedom.  So many times I find myself attempting to satisfy someone else or fulfill the will of another, all the while rejecting my own conscience.  I believe that our conscience is a pure guide that moves us in the direction of service to the greater good so long as we allow ourselves to be completely open to its guidance in the Present Moment, Here & Now.

When we clutter our lives with material possessions and all sorts of obligations to various people and organizations that we are not very passionate about, we restrict our freedom and shun our conscience.

For some reason, it might not be the easiest thing in the world to follow our conscience. Letting any notions we have of the future go and just being completely present and open to our moral compass to act Here & Now can be a frightening idea, at least to me.  Surrendering completely to the Present Moment as your conscience takes you…wow.

During the week of the Street Retreat, I lived without any material possessions beyond the clothes on my back and three tennis balls used for juggling.  This minimalist lifestyle allowed me to more fully open to the Moment and my conscience.  It was intensely liberating.  For much of the retreat, joy filled my spirit and every step that I walked on the streets next to my brother.  Uplifted and elated, I lived by intuition and let myself be called to service and goodness in the Present Moment.

I have since maintained a minimalist lifestyle, although I currently have a car, laptop, and a bag or two of clothes.  I find that my freedom to flow in the Moment and let my conscience guide me has also not been quite as great as during the Street Retreat.  I feel restricted from time to time, yet I still find much greater levels of freedom than during the times previous to the Street Retreat when I was living with money and more possessions.

In so many ways, I find that my material possessions enslave me.  To the extent that I am still attached to some of my material possessions and do not feel at ease to simply give them all away or abandon them, I’ve allowed my material possessions to bind me to particular locations and particular actions.  So, I am not completely free!  But, thankfully, the level of freedom that I do have still brings me great levels of Love, Peace, and Joy.  I know that I’m still missing out on even greater levels of freedom, like the level of freedom I experienced on the Street Retreat, and someday soon I hope to regain that freedom, either by means of detachment or giving away more of my material possessions.  Meditation, I find, is also a very valuable practice that allows me to more greatly connect with the Present Moment, my conscience, and free myself from any notions of attachment to either possessions, the past, or the future.

Absolute freedom is one of my ideals.  With absolute freedom comes a complete trust in one’s conscience, which I understand to be a manifestation of our divinely endowed spirit.  Living by conscience also means transcending reason, also known as that pesky little tendency we might have to “rationalize” (rational lies) our way out of doing what we intuitively know is the best decision.  Our minds are tricksters and can hold us from following our hearts and trusting in ourselves.  Our minds can also trick us to feeling an attachment to something as impermanent as a book or our physical bodies – both of which will inevitably turn to dust.

I’ve spent the last few months which a major focus on cultivating my Spiritual Riches, that is those possessions endowed at birth that transcend the physicality of the world.  Cultivating Spiritual Riches, however, also means cherishing the physical and mental capacities endowed to us as well.  I do yoga, meditation, and lots of learning and teaching, striving to transcend attachment to the physical world and connect more fully with the Spiritual Nature of the Universe.  In this way, I intend to free myself from attachment and hope to bring others along the liberating journey as well 🙂
So, here’s to Freedom!

Unconditional Forgiveness

I just finished reading a book called, “2012: The Transformation from the Love of Power to the Power of Love,” written by Robert Roskind, a pretty awesome guy I met at a One Love concert in downtown Winston-Salem.  He actually shared his book with me for free, which was particularly nice because it would otherwise be very difficult for me to acquire such a book without using money and all.  Thank God for the goodness in people 😉

In his book, he talks about the importance of teaching Unconditional Love.  As both Robert Roskind and Steve Pavlina recognize, Unconditional Love is intricately connected to the practice of Unconditional Forgiveness.  At one point in his story, Roskind’s friend states,

This is the main problem on our planet.  It is keeping the world bound in a vicious cycle of revenge and retribution, of attack and counterattack, which must be broken.” Later he adds, “I know it is hard to forgive.  It is the second hardest thing in the world to do.  The only thing harder is to not forgive because you just keep reliving the attack and losing your peace of mind.”

Forgiveness seems essential in order for us to love.  If we cannot forgive someone, how can we love them?  And the idea of Unconditional Forgiveness – forgiveness no matter what! – that is very powerful.

In the past couple days, I’ve decided to arbitrarily say to friends, “I forgive you,” or “Do you forgive me?”  Surprisingly, when I ask of forgiveness or forgive another, no one has yet to ask me, “For what?”  It’s as though we all accept that we have trespassed against the other in some way, and we understand that we are unconditionally in need of forgiveness.  I don’t think any of us believe we are perfect, perhaps perfectly imperfect, but because of our shortcomings we are always more than open to give and receive forgiveness at any moment.

When we completely forgive people, we are freeing ourselves from false judgment and from the past.  We allow ourselves and others to be fully in the Present without dwelling on the past.  Unconditional Forgiveness is a gift that brings us all to the Present, connecting us more fully with the Goodness of this One, True, Moment.

Why would we ever choose to allow the past to hold us down from enjoying this Present Moment?  Unconditional Forgiveness liberates us from the shackles of the past and engages us in the joy of the Now.  So, if you haven’t guessed, my theme today is Forgiveness.  With that, I forgive you!

The 10,000 Hour Rule: Persistence and Patience!

This “rule” is pretty cool.  I think I first heard about it from Malcolm Gladwell in one of his books. Essentially, it suggests that to achieve the level of mastery in any field, be it music, coaching, writing, etc., you need to invest around 10,000 hours in training and practice.  So, if you want to be a world class cello player like Yo-Yo Ma, it’s really not that hard to do; simply start playing the cello for 8 hours a day for the next 3 years and 5 months and you’ll be good.  Actually you’ll be way more than good – you’ll be a master!  It is simply a matter of time.

When I think about this 10,000 hour rule, that Mr. Gladwell derived from studying the achievements of many great musicians and various performers and even businessmen, my mind gets a little more blown away each time.  To think that mastery in any field is just simply a matter of putting in the time, 10,000 hours worth of it – wow.  Who would have thought it could be so easy?  Patience really is a virtue that pays immense dividends.

The tricky part for me comes in deciding what is worth 10,000 hours of my time.  What is a skill that I think is absolutely worth mastering such that I would be willing to invest 10,000 hours of my time?  If not investing 8 hours a day for the next 3 years, then maybe I’ll invest just 6 hours a day for the next 4.5 years, or perhaps just 3 hours a day for the next 9 years?  Eh…if I can decide on something that I truly and completely believe in, the 3 hours a day seems like a weak investment, and  it would probably be better to go all-in with the 8.  Then again, thankfully we are all given the opportunity to explore various skills and change our direction any time we feel is appropriate.

So, is there anything I think is worth investing 8 hours of my day in for the next 3 years and 5 months?  I’d like to think the answer is meditation, yet it’s hard to imagine doing that for 8 hours a day.  Besides, the Dalai Lama only does it for 6, or so I’ve heard.  The good thing about meditation, as I just remembered, is that it can be a lot more than sitting silently and breathing.  Really, any activity we do can be turned into a meditation, even writing this article.  Dictionary.com defines meditation as, “continued or extended thought, reflection; contemplation.”  Writing this article definitely counts then –  woot woot! Already up to a total of 2 hours for the day.

I consider meditation a worthy 10,000 hour pursuit because it essentially entails mastery over the mind.  From my experience, I’ve come to understand how essential our mind is in determining our quality of life.  As Viktor Frankl enlightened us all once upon a time after surviving the concentration camps of the Nazis, we have the freedom to choose our attitude given any situation.  This freedom, however, necessitates that we have control over our mind.  Ultimately, we do have control over the mind, yet “the monkey mind” tends to swing from branch to branch and gets distracted, so it’s in the best interest of us all to train our minds and master our ability to choose our attitude given any situation.  Like Viktor Frankl, if I had the mental capacity to choose happiness in a situation like the Holocaust, well then I’d be happy in what externally would appear like one of the worst situations known to man.  Isn’t that such a wonderful ability we all have?  The power to choose our attitude!

One of the many good things about pursuing mastery in meditation as my 10,000 hour pursuit is that meditation comes in a variety forms.  You can pretty much do anything you want and meditate, so long as you are choosing to hone your focus.  Almost any form of exercise can be a meditation, speaking, reading, writing, laughing, breathing, singing, dancing, teaching – it all is meditation given you are striving for clarity and focus.  Now it sounds like one’s entire life can be a meditation, except for maybe sleep.  In that case I should readjust my mastery projections by calculating an investment of anywhere from 12 to 20 hours a day depending on how much I snooze.  Hooray!  Now mastery should only take me somewhere between 1.4-2.3 years.  And that’s not even counting the time I’ve already invested in the process…

Okay – so maybe I won’t actually achieve the status of world class meditator in 2.3 years, but that’s not the point.  The point is that whatever we want to master, we can.  It is simply a matter of investing the time.  All good things come with time.  Just put in the effort, act persistently, and you will achieve the level you are seeking.

It just hit me that perhaps achieving a level of world class mastery in a field is not for everyone, and that’s perfectly good.  The point remains, if you want to get better at anything, whether it be controlling your emotions or controlling your car, practice, practice, practice!  Invest the time and let yourself grow.  The magic wand we all can wave is the wand of choice.  Wave the wand to choose your direction, invest the time in pursuing whatever you believe is good for you, and get crankin’ 😉

And remember – Patience is a Virtue!