Forum Replies Created
December 6, 2016 at 11:40 am #122054
I can’t give financial advice, but the good news is that you’ve got something more powerful than money: a purpose. You don’t just want that career as a way to make money, right? You want to help people. Start by finding ways to help people who are in need that don’t require money. Even the part-time job that you have could be a way to help make the world better if you have the right frame of mind. Redefine your job, at least in your own mind. Get every bit of spiritual satisfaction out of it that you can. If time permits, volunteer.
Another thing you can do is work against the injustice of high education costs. There are a lot of young people just like you: some struggling under mountains of debt, others who can’t even take that debt on. There is strength in numbers, and I have faith that those numbers will eventually make a difference. Look online for organizations who are taking action against the high cost of education and find out how you can get involved. Education should not be a luxury, but a right to all who are bright enough and dedicated enough. Know that we are with you.
In the long term, search for good educational values. There are some inexpensive schools with really dynamite professors.
Last but not least, read. Keep an active mind. You may even find a new niche – something else to be passionate about, some other way to make your mark.December 6, 2016 at 11:21 am #122052
Yes, as Anita said, there are people right near you who are in need. Nature is need of protection all around us. Have you thought about starting a garden? You don’t need too much money for that. Gardens are not just for growing plants anymore; you can create a whole ecosystem. If you can’t travel to new places, why not transform your home into a new place?
You can be a tourist in your own hometown. What makes you a traveler is not just going to new places, but seeing old places with new eyes.December 6, 2016 at 11:17 am #122051
What makes an ideal world? What makes reality? We do. We can accept that “that’s just the way it is,” and let other people define words like “friendship” for us, or we can decide for ourselves what they mean. A word that describes something we value so much, like “friendship,” ought to mean something. Many of us have been hurt by people who claim to be our friends, but don’t act like it. Has this happened to you? Should we just accept this “reality,” in which “friendship” is used to manipulate us for someone else’s selfish gain, or should we each be free to be friends in our own way? I have faith that you will figure out for yourself whether it is worth being friends with these people, in time. Your heart is in the right place; it’s good that you are trying to have a positive influence on them. I think I’m not the only idealist here, see? We just have to accept that some people are not ready to receive the message we have for them. Just know that it’s not a failure on your part if you’re not connecting with them.
You say “blunt,” I say “simple.” A good first step in dealing with any problem is to simplify it. In many cases, just simplifying the terms of the problem can make the problem disappear. Try it, is all I’m saying. I actually think all our problems can be reduced to one problem, which almost all of us share, but that’s a topic for another forum. Yes, it is upsetting when someone claims that a problem is illusory, but first of all, what I told you so “bluntly” is something that I tell myself every day, whenever I feel like I have a problem, and second of all, wouldn’t you agree that it is at least equally upsetting to find problems where there are none?December 1, 2016 at 11:43 am #121706
Remember what makes you a friend. It’s that you provide “advice and guidance” to them, not because of any superficial things you have in common. It’s not how we spend our Saturday nights that makes us friends.
Since you mentioned your friends’ high-risk lifestyles, do I take it to mean that you are afraid they will tempt you into that kind of lifestyle? Have they gotten the message that you’re not interested in that kind of life, and accepted it? Is it possible that, conversely, you, with your simpler, more mindful life, can inspire them to improve themselves? Knowing that we’re leading by example can be a real boost to our self-esteem.
Friendship is never selfish. We don’t form friendships just because of what we’re going to get out of them, but simply because it is a good thing to do. If you are upset that you are only giving and not getting, then they’re not truly your friends anyway, and so you should have no trouble letting go. And if they are upset that you’re not spending more time with them, then they’re not truly your friends in that case either. But if they’re content to not see so much of you, and you’re content just to provide advice when they need it, then you have a true friendship. In any case, there is no problem.December 1, 2016 at 11:20 am #121705
Yoga is not just an exercise; it’s a lifestyle. It means living a meditative, mindful life.
Recently, a friend told me, “I suck at yoga.” I told her there’s no such thing. Maybe we can’t do the poses exactly correctly; maybe we can’t keep our knees straight or lift our leg as high as others. But as long as it leads to a good feeling (a physical, mental, and spiritual feeling), the exercise is a success. After a hatha yoga workout, I feel both energized and relaxed at the same time. My muscles are alert, but my soul is calm. This is similar to the way I feel after a good 20-30 minutes of meditation. The yoga poses do for the body what meditation does for the mind.
Any activity that requires coordination between mind and body, or between different parts of the body, can be yoga. I’m teaching myself to play the sitar. Now that really takes coordination – sitting cross-legged, with back straight, keeping the instrument balanced while strumming with one hand and moving the other hand up and down the long neck.
Unless we’re superhuman (which may be a big “unless”), yogic activities are impossible to do perfectly. But that very impossibility is what makes them such good yoga. By doing things that are impossible, or at least very difficult, to perfect, we train ourselves not to get frustrated. And by constantly improving on them, we at least hold out the possibility of perfection. The Yoga Sutras talk about masters of yoga being able to levitate or inhabit other people’s bodies. Now if those aren’t reasons to start a yoga practice immediately, I don’t know what is.May 16, 2016 at 12:19 pm #104687
I don’t think it’s necessary to “turn off your human emotions.” We just need to distinguish between states of mind and states of being. It is all right to feel hurt or worried in certain situations, but the problem comes about when we let ourselves be hurt or worried all the time in order to compensate for some other, deeper problem.
I like Evan’s sentence, “Feel the present not think the present.” We think in the present, of course, but not of the present. So if you are hurt, just feel the hurt, without fixating on what is hurting you. When you are worried, just feel the worry, without fixating on the source of worry. Then the emotions will wash over you like flowing water. Otherwise you will be living in a past that you can’t do over, or in a future that you can only marginally control.May 16, 2016 at 11:49 am #104680
In that blog post, I wrote, “that does not mean that there is no such thing as absolute truth.” I do think there is such a thing as absolute truth; perhaps my use of the double negative was a bit confusing. But there is no single path to it. It is a truth beyond the physical world, which is a world that we can shape to our tastes, and to our perceived needs.
How much of the physical world is of our making? Suppose I am in a beautiful natural setting, with no manmade structures. Does this mean that this setting is not of my/our making at all? Not entirely, because the setting can inspire a state of mind, which is of our making, and that state of mind can inspire action. That state of mind, and that action, is frequently born out of a feeling of insufficiency. Perhaps I want to enjoy that beauty all the time, so I build a home in that setting, thereby depriving others of the same experience I had. Or perhaps I join the environmentalist movement, in order to try to recreate this natural beauty elsewhere, thereby displeasing others who are struggling to live off the land, and see my environmentalist agenda interfering with their economic needs. Thus, imprisoning ourselves in the material world like this only leads to ceaseless struggle and suffering, and we lurch from one problem to another.
But what if we considered things as a totality? What if, in the above scenario, the beauty of the place itself was enough for me? What if it inspired an attempt to understand beauty as a concept, even beyond visible appearances, beyond the particular beauty of this one site? This does not mean that I have committed a sin as soon as the thought to build on the land creeps into my head; it just means that before I act rashly, I need to understand whence comes that impulse. Then I can accept that my imperfections, and the imperfections of the physical world, are perhaps part of an underlying metaphysical perfection.
This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t strive to improve, but we have to realize what is within our power to improve through intention and action. In one of the forums the other day, I made a distinction between sickness and problems. A sickness is no fault of our own, so through the proper action, we can heal it. But trying to solve problems of our own making, without acknowledging the desires that led us down that wrong path, will only worsen the problems. That is why, for example, it is misguided to try to deal with a belligerent enemy nation through military action. It’s like digging yourself into a hole, and then trying to dig your way out. You’ll only end up deeper.
I am also not criticizing the environmentalist movement. I believe strongly in environmental protection, but it’s not something I want to force on others. All that would do is magnify the problem by making my problems other people’s problems. That’s what I mean when I say everyone has to find their own path to the truth. I have faith that everyone will realize the need to protect the only home we have in due time. If I could come to terms with my own lack of insight and understanding, anyone can.
I am getting to the point where things that I can’t control are more pleasing to me than my achievements.May 13, 2016 at 9:35 am #104448
Anita (and everyone else),
Thank you for your encouraging words about my writing. Writing is a part of my job, but it’s a much different kind of writing. There are so many bad habits to unlearn when you’re trained to be an academic writer.
I tried posting the link to my blog, but the post didn’t go through; maybe it violated this site’s posting rules. If you click on my username to the left of this post, then click on “Profile,” you should see the address. Definitely follow and share if you like it.
Peace.May 13, 2016 at 9:31 am #104447
In order for something to be wrong with us, there has to be some standard by which we identify our wrongness. And that standard can only be found by comparing ourselves to others, which is completely arbitrary. Some of us need therapy and/or medication, but that just means we’re sick; that’s not the same thing as being wrong.
Loneliness is the human condition. Even the people who love us the most can’t totally sympathize with us. I used to try to talk with my loved ones about my emotional problems, but it never seemed to fix the problems, and I only felt guilty for making my problems their problems. Still, it’s too bad that your family didn’t treat you with the respect you deserve. At least it helped you handle disrespect. Some people put others down in a misguided attempt to make themselves feel better.
Peace.May 12, 2016 at 3:34 pm #104388
Hello anita (and my other sisters and brothers),
I just found Tiny Buddha about a month ago, and I think it exemplifies what the Internet should be used for – to create communities, and promote mutual understanding, not to isolate us in our own ideological bubbles.
I am 13.8 billion years old. My job is an art historian, but I really don’t make any distinction between different “parts” of my life; I try to live a creative, mindful life at all times. I am a citizen of the cosmos first, and a citizen of the US or a resident of my state, or anything else, only a distant second. I reject all boundaries that create arbitrary divisions between one person and another, between one people and another, between humankind and nature, between animate and inanimate nature, etc. We are all stardust.
And I am an apostle of peace. This started when I came out of a period when I had trouble sleeping and I felt no one respected or appreciated me. The reality was that I didn’t respect or appreciate myself; all I was doing was teaching about a bunch of dead artists and bringing home a paycheck. Plenty of people can do that. I would get upset with myself for the smallest things. And then I asked myself, what am I so mad about? Am I really angry that I burned the meatloaf? Or am I angry that I have nothing more important to do? And is my anger just a passing feeling, or has it become a permanent state?
Now, no matter how I feel, I just remember to breathe, because all senses, all thoughts, come from breath. And I hypothesize that the permanent state of anger, like the one I was in, is the cause of violence and destruction around the world. We are seduced by the mirage of worldly success, but like all mirages, we can never attain it. Not wanting to accept responsibility for our failure, or to admit that our life was all wasted effort, we lash out at others, not knowing who to blame for our failure, or why, or why it all even matters. So I have resolved never to use violence in any circumstance, and I am beginning to try to help others come to the same resolution. I believe all our problems – political, economic, environmental – are, at root, spiritual problems. We can have peace on Earth; it will happen when each individual simply says, “I am at peace,” and believes it. We make peace happen one soul at a time.
One of my new initiatives is a blog called Unconditional Peace; you can (hopefully) find a link to it in my profile page.
April 14, 2016 at 12:20 pm #101887
- This reply was modified 5 years, 8 months ago by UnconditionalPeace.
Perhaps that little critical voice in your head is the expectations others have had for your art, all the distinctions between good art and bad art that you were taught.
I have to say, though, that whoever said good art was art with historical context was on to something (yes, I am an art historian, after all). What I take this to mean is that the best art is not just art that is an expression of a single person’s feelings on one particular day, but that is an expression of a whole society over a longer period – an ethos, if you like. The best artists are the ones who capture the essence of the human condition.
I know it sounds like I’m putting more pressure on you, not less, but what I’m saying is, perhaps it will help to make art with a purpose, which is to establish a kinship with the rest of humanity, and perhaps with nature too. Realize that any work, whether good or bad, is a step along the road toward becoming one with the universe. Not every step on that road is a step forward! The failures are just as essential as the successes. I agree with Anita and Joe to an extent; make Me Art while you’re working, and then somewhere along the road, it will become Us Art.
Last but not least, remember that art is not separate from life. Creative inspiration can hit you at any time, so always be mindful.April 14, 2016 at 8:27 am #101832
Thank you so much for your responses! Since you find this a cool discussion, allow me to continue it, if I may.
It’s a shame that we traditionally define art as something that has no practical, “real world” value. We even use the phrase “art world,” as though artists existed in some parallel universe. But what if other creative acts could be considered on a par with art? What about if, instead of putting a chunk of Arctic ice in a city square to “call attention” to the problem of climate change, an artist simply created carbon offsets and called it art? After all, solving problems like climate change requires creative thinking too, no?
Andy Warhol, in his typically cynical way, said that success in business is the highest form of art. So couldn’t we say that saving humanity and our planet is the highest form of art?April 14, 2016 at 8:20 am #101831
I’m pretty new here myself – nice to be starting the journey with you!
While I can’t offer a comprehensive solution to your problem, here are a few things you might try.
Every so often, maybe once every month or two, I’ll go 24 hours without talking. It’s still a work in progress, but I think I’m training myself to talk less.
Learn how to shut toxic conversations down. If there’s a conversation or an argument brewing that you think could result in hurt feelings, let yourself say, “Can we just…not?” Ask yourself, what are you getting out of expressing your opinion so loudly? Do you feel like conversation is a competitive thing? Would you really rather be right than happy? I think this is a problem for a lot of us.
And last but not least…meditate! This can help with so many problems. Pay attention to your breathing. If you can be more mindful of that other stuff that comes out of your mouth (ha ha), maybe you can train yourself to take a deep breath before you speak.April 13, 2016 at 10:55 am #101718
I agree with anita that there is not necessarily any need to change religions. Christianity is not defined by its followers; the fact that some Christians are judgmental (even toward fellow Christians!) and the fact that they occasionally do nasty or immoral things (and sometimes in the name of Christianity!) doesn’t mean that it’s a bad religion. I guess Christianity just isn’t enough for these people to get them to behave responsibly. If the lesson you get from Christianity is to love and respect everyone, then I’d say you may not have any spiritual crisis at all.
I consider myself a syncretist; while I am Jewish on a practical level, I incorporate aspects of other religions into my personal spirituality. This may be something you could consider (though it doesn’t sound like it would help you in dealing with your friends and family). Every religion has its limits; for example, I became dissatisfied with what I perceive to be my religion’s condoning of violence in the name of God. Yet, Judaism still appealed to me on a practical level because it helped give me a mindful, meaningful, organized life. So I use my original religion to organize my life on a practical level, while deriving a sense of inner and outer piece from faiths like Hinduism and Buddhism. There’s nothing wrong with treating religion like a buffet, taking what you want from each one. As long as your beliefs make sense to you.April 13, 2016 at 10:35 am #101712
The title of your post caught my attention, because my credo is “Unconditional Peace.” I’m trying to figure out what the relationship between unconditional peace and unconditional love might be.
So you live in Ireland? It was that great Irish author, James Joyce, who wrote, “Love loves to love love.” One of my favorite quotes. I think what he was trying to say was that love exists for its own purposes. You don’t have to explain why you love someone, you just do. We make up all kinds of excuses why not to love others: “you don’t have the same hobbies I do,” “you don’t listen to the same kind of music I do,” “you don’t like going to the market with me,” etc. No one falls in love with someone because of these things, and so no one should reject anyone for these reasons either.
I think you need more time to decide what the future for you and your boyfriend will be. We should neither fall in love with someone nor reject someone because of a gut feeling. As time goes by, you will either naturally grow closer together or grow apart. Maybe you will love each other so much that the fact that he doesn’t like going to the market with you, or the fact that he doesn’t make much money, will seem unimportant. Or maybe those differences will prove to be symptoms of a larger problem that keeps you apart. I agree with jewels07 that love is not just loving actions. You will figure out in time whether you really love him or whether you are just going through the motions.
As to your last question, love becomes unconditional when you decide it is. All it took for me to accept peace unconditionally was to say, “I am at peace,” and believe it. I’m sure all it took for you to love yourself unconditionally was to say, “I love myself,” and believe it. And that will be all it takes for you to decide to love someone else, too. Sometimes believing what we tell ourselves can seem hard, but it isn’t always.
I think you may have hit on something in your last sentence. Maybe we love others not in spite of their imperfections, but because of them. Are you and your boyfriend imperfect in similar ways? If so, that can be a source of empathy between the two of you. I don’t know, maybe…