Suffering-Natural and Unnatural

There is a difference between natural and unnatural suffering. The key to living an existence full of happiness is to learn to absolutely  accept natural suffering and doing away with unnatural suffering. Let me explain. 

If one is to be born into this world then one is to die in this world. Simple as that. Nobody gets out alive. Nobody, ever. To be born means we are going to suffer. We are going to get sick hundreds of times, we are to break bones, get into accidents, etc. We are going to get old and suffer in a myriad of ways before we pass on. There is just no getting around it. Heck even when we are born the travel through the birth canal is no picnic as best as I can tell! There is really nothing we can do about this natural suffering beyond learning to accept this as part of being born in a human body. The key here is accepting this deep in our bones. By not recognizing this truth we unnaturally suffer with the mental anxiety of wanting life to be different than it really is. Which leads me to unnatural suffering….

Unnatural suffering is born from our inability to accept life as it absolutely is. We don’t accept natural suffering, so we suffer mental anguish in unnecessary ways. In addition, we have misguided notions about what brings happiness into our lives. We mistakenly believe that objects out there will bring us eternal happiness. They don’t. All of them come and go. We mistakenly try to hold onto them and that brings suffering. Each person we love will go. Each object that we love will break. Nothing stays. Nothing lasts but we don’t accept those very facts, so we suffer. We even make the mistake of identifying with the self when the self we identify with isn’t solid, and never was solid. This idea of me is a shaky proposition, and the world out there teaches us to worship this shaky self that we mistakenly believe is solid. Just think about it. Are you the same as you were 5 years ago? 10? 20? Our bodies change, how we see the world changes. Yet we think we are this solid thing that isn’t fluid, and we relate to the rest of the world based on this mistaken solidity. And because we do this we suffer. 

The amazing part of all of this is when we start to see all of this clearly happiness and the roots of happiness start to take hold. We see life is impermanent, so we start to treat all beings with kindness. We let the people we care deeply about know how much we love them. We start to see through the lack of solidity that I am not separate from you. That you and I are interconnected. Because of that I see your intrinsic worth and treat  you with dignity. Because I recognize objects come and go I don’t so attached to things. Because I recognize I’m not this solid self I recognize focusing on me brings suffering. I also recognize that instead of looking to me for happiness I ought to look out. Looking out means paying attention to you and your suffering. Paying attention to other beings in a way that is helpful and supportive. When I do all of this I live a most meaningful existence that is absent of unnatural suffering and full of real happiness. Don’t take my word for it. Be your own scientist and test that ancient truths for yourself. Isn’t it time? 



Listening to What Is

I’m sitting in my home office with the windows open listening to the melodies mother earth has to share. These sounds are constant but only noticed when the mind is quiet. The mind seeks to identify the sounds and put a name to it all. This separation is what keeps the mind trapped in an inescapable net of disconnection. Creating in the process the illusory wall of separation between all that is. When that understanding is undone then in those moments of clarity we see that there is nothing to do ever do, and nothing to ever grasp. The simplicity of the Now escapes us every time the mind wanders with the constant idea that we are not enough. Nothing could be further from the truth but we suffer incalculably because we buy the minds endless garbage. Recognizing our ONENESS with all that is, is as natural as a mother giving birth. Every moment offers us the serenity of quietude even in Times Square or Bombay. It’s not the place but it’s the recognition. The recognition of who you really are. When that happens the mind becomes a servant to our oneness with the melodies of the universe and not the dominator.

Mark, June 17, 2019

Interconnection

Interconnection

One of Dr. King’s most famous quotes states “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice anywhere. We are caught in a in-escapable web of mutuality tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever impacts one directly impacts us all indirectly.” When one unpacks that quote, Dr. King is pointing out the fact that we are all interconnected. This spiritual truth known by awakened individuals throughout history can be recognized by us all regardless of our level of spiritual wisdom.  We can see it just based on our own life experience that we are connected to others. There is nothing that we eat, or drink that doesn’t come from somewhere else. We don’t breathe without the oxygen generated from trees. We literally are brought to life through our mother’s. Yes we are all deeply connected to others, and that is a tremendously powerful fact of existence. Another way of looking at interconnection is comprehending the reality that we are never disconnected to other beings. The idea that we are disconnected is an illusion. Even our thought stream which we sometimes believe is our very own and therefore disconnected from others really isn’t. Your thought stream is completely impacted based on what you read, what you watch and who you interact with. This doesn’t mean we aren’t unique it just means we aren’t disconnected.

Facing Uncertainty

Facing Uncertainty

It is interesting to note how our general knee jerk reaction to facing uncertainty in the world is a desire to try and control it or bring some sense of order to the situation. Many of us are struck with the need to dominate a situation with our will when facing uncertainty. The idea here is that our ego and sense of self can literally make things happen the way we want it to. The underlying belief is that we know quite clearly how things ought to be and will therefore impose our ambition to bring about that result. This approach is strikingly different from Eastern philosophical traditions that see true order in the universe from taking the self or ego out from being the central player. That by actually giving up our sense of control to embrace the uncertainty we live with constantly we invite true wisdom and natural order.

Radical Inclusivity as Antidote to our Polarization

The polarization of our country reached new lows last month when a Trump supporter was captured on video telling her US Citizen neighbor Estaban Guzman to go back to Mexico because you are rapists. Her evidence was that President Trump had said so, so therefore it must be true. On the left a restaurant in Virginia refused to serve President Trump’s spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders because of the policies she supports. This position was further backed by Representative Maxine Waters who double downed on the act in terms encouraging that behavior with more White House officials. It’s clear that we have reached a point on the left and right where we have regressed into our political, identify and ethnic subgroups, ripping apart our national connective tissue in the process.

Why Free Speech Really Matters

A 2017 study by the Brookings Institute found that about 20% of all college students believe that it’s ok to respond with violence towards those they identify as sharing offensive or hateful speech. 51% believe that it’s ok to shout individuals down and not let them speak if they believe that what they are saying is offensive or hurtful.