0255 – A Lesson from the legendary coach Phil Jackson

Well, this is something worth sharing. It’s like my spiritual ramblings, put in readable terms.

From Sacred Hoops, Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior:

“My obsession with winning had robbed me of my joy in the dance. From that point on, I started looking at competition differently. I realized that I’d been trapped for years on an emotional roller coaster of winning and losing, and it was tearing me apart.

I wasn’t alone. Our whole social structure is built around rewarding the winners-at the perilous expense of building community and compassion. The conditioning starts early, especially among boys, and never stops. “There is no room for second place,” the late coach Vince Lombardi once said. “It is and always has been an American zeal to be first in anything we do, and to win and to win and to win.” How can anyone, from sports figures to sales managers, possibly maintain their self-esteem when this attitude dominates our cultural mindset?

Eventually, everybody loses, ages, changes. And the small triumphs-a great play or a moment of sportsmanship-count, even though you may not win the game. Walt Whitman got it right when he wrote, “I believe a leaf of grass is no less than the journeywork of the stars.” As strange as it may seem, being able to accept change or defeat with equanimity gives you the freedom to go out on the floor and give the game your all.

I used to believe that the day I could accept defeat was the day I would have to give up my job. But losing is as integral a part of the dance as winning. Buddhism teaches that by accepting death, you discover life. Similarly, only by acknowledging the possibility of defeat can you fully experience the joy of competition. Our culture would have us believe that being able to accept loss is tantamount to setting yourself up to lose. But not everyone can win all the time; obsessing about winning adds an unnecessary layer of pressure that constricts body and spirit and, ultimately, robs you of the freedom to do your best.”

I don’t think this needs much commentary. All I can say is maybe you and I and those people who live a double life – of spirituality and of profession – should reconsider doing so. Maybe you and I, whose aims have most often been about the self, should reconsider what it means to simply be alive.

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0254 – What's Going On?

That’s my newest question. Echoed by many scientists, skeptics, believers, thinkers, conservatives, liberals, the question is simply this: What the hell is going on?

Raised among scientific minds, I’ve been trained to only trust my cognition. But as I continue to live, dabble in religions, probe into my spirituality, I cannot help but feel that there is another mystery left isolated from science. Something mystical and transcendent of the typical human understanding.

For a long time, I lived with something that can perhaps be called cognitive dissonance, but it’s not totally cognitive in a sense that the dissonance seems to be between cognition and intuition. I questioned supernatural powers. I questioned the existence of a divine source of power. I questioned the existence of heaven and hell. I questioned religion. I tried cognitive reasoning to reconcile the seemingly real yet seemingly implausible existence of a higher energy.

I didn’t get any answers that way. Then life took a sharp turn.

Suddenly, it dawned upon me that I was constantly seeking. I was seeking and forcing my search so I didn’t find. Suddenly, I realized that too much cleverness and too many questions are my biggest obstacles. It’s all so unnatural. I laughed ay myself.

I was guided, by what I believe to be the natural forces of this world, to see that instead of resisting the world, I should try to feel it. This way, the spiritual world and the physical world no longer seem disparate. I can smile. There’s a tingling feeling in me that’s telling me I’m onto something this time. I barely understand it all, but ceasing to seek has made me so.. free. And open. It’s okay to not know, because I’m a part of this world now. It actually makes sense!

There is a huge aspect of our world that science currently ignores. ESP, remote viewing, inner peace, hidden energy, spirits. We generally shy away from such topics because it compellingly challenges our comfortable definition of the world. The potential for knowledge is so so great. At times, I’d feel that my thirst for tranquility and inner peace belongs in the same world as my academic and professional pursuits. This is one great feeling, for there truly seems to be limitless possibilities. We don’t know so much. It’s so exciting.

Let’s smash the barrier, because there’s so much more going on that we don’t completely see.

What’s going on?

P.S. If you’re skeptical, I’d recommend reading Elizabeth Mayer’s Extraordinary Knowing first, and doors will open for you.

0253 – False Sense of Superiority

Today, I’m writing about spirituality again. It’s still going to be a subject that’s dear to my heart. But what is spirituality really? Together with religion, these two words have lost their meanings, are misused and scoffed upon by many. What does it mean to be a spiritual person?

I’ve really started to believe that ‘spirituality’ means different things to each of us, and that is simply because we each have our own spirit/soul. Religions, while meaningful and transformative for many, can become dogmatic and restrictive towards one’s journey towards inner peace. From my own experience, that feels like the case. Yet, as I grow tired and weary of religion, I grow increasingly frustrated at the decadence and the alleged ‘degradation’ of morality and righteousness in the world. I feel superior. Frustrated, but superior. I live the life I choose, and I judge.

I used to think that I’m superior because I’m closer to reaching that clarity and attaining the wisdom that I have long yearned for. Yet, I’m no closer than the people I judge. We are just on opposite sides of a river.

I spend time looking at the other side of the river, wishing they all are with me. But now I can only smile, because I and them both should be moving towards that river. The enigmatic, captivating, all-knowing river. The land of moderation. The land of oneness.

Why do I spend time worrying why the bible says I’m going to hell? Why do I spend time worrying about being cool? Why do I spend time lamenting the decadence in this world?

It’s all got to stop.

Because we all have our own paths. And whatever we choose, wherever we go, we all should be just fine.

Let’s not waste time to judge. Let’s not waste time to fight. Let’s not let life slip away.

0252 – Living in the now

You may have noticed the slightly new topics I’ve presented the past couple of days. These posts are a part of my attempt to diversify my ramblings to include things other than my rants and protests against the world. Because there is more I can offer. There is more to life than struggle and suffering. And there is more to life than just worrying about my future. From now, this blog will no longer just document my struggles, but will document my thoughts and my inspirations.

I sometimes care about this world more than I care about myself. I spend countless hours pondering the notion of existence and the grim outlook for the future generations, often at the expense of my own well-being. At the same time, I want to be happy. That’s all I ever wanted.

The latest blog-worthy advice I’ve been given is this: to stay in the now. All my focus has been placed on the future and the unfolding of events, and I miss the opportunity to embrace the present and what goes on around me. And this is very true.

So that shall be my new focus. Carpe Diem!

But that means a lot more, I think. That means I shall not fear the society. That means I shall not fear the status quo. I shall not fear the judging eyes. I shall not worry about my future, because my future will be just alright.

For now, goodbye. For tomorrow, good luck. Forever, go blue. For now, I shall appreciate this slow Monday afternoon. Tennis time!

0251 – Is it really mine? Or yours? Or anybody's?

Here’s one odd incident that happened last month: my soap got stolen. not once. not twice. thrice. The first two times, it returned with soap left in them. The third time the soap bottle was brand new, and it came back empty. I was not amused.

The thing is I would have lent it to the person if he asked nicely. Stealing soap  seems like a really desperate and lowly measure. Why would someone do such a thing? After all, I paid for it, and I own that soap.

As I was dwelling in my foul mood with my new bottle of soap, it struck me that I am incredibly ridiculous, not only because it is just soap, but also because if you think about it, we humans don’t own anything on this planet. Sure, we paid the money to the grocery store. Sure, the store paid the manufacturers. Sure, these manufacturers paid for the resources. But where do the resources come from? Do the coal miners ever pay the earth for mining it? Do we ever pay the earth for digging up gold? Do we ever pay the earth for pumping away the fossil fuel? At unsustainable rates? Has the earth ever asked for anything in return?

It was then that I realized that our concept of possession is extremely misguided and fallacious. We never ‘own’ anything. We simply use them, mostly without acknowledging our footprints. Perhaps it is time.