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Archive for October, 2011

Occupy Your Life

October 31, 2011 5 comments

NYC at Night

This year has been a time of change and protest around the world. The protestors involved in the so called “Arab Spring” facilitated the toppling of the Tunisian, Egyptian, and Libyan regimes, and have made significant impacts on numerous other Arab countries. During the past few weeks the various news sources, social media sites, and blogs have been abuzz with the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that began in the Wall Street district of New York City, and has subsequently spread to various cities across the U.S. Like the protestors involved in the Arab Spring, the Occupy protestors are standing up against the status quo in order to protest for change. One thing that has struck from all the protests, both from the Arab Spring and the Occupy movement, is the passion and resolve displayed by the protestors in order to bring about change.

So passionate are the protestors that they have put their lives on hold, and even completely changed the direction of their life in order to protest for change. In the case of the Arab Spring, those protestors quite literally put their lives, and the lives of their families at risk. However, given Oakland California’s recent heavy-handed response to the protestors, it appears that the protestors from the Occupy movement are not immune from the risk of physical harm, and even death.

The way that all of the protestors have been willing to completely give up the life they knew in order to pursue a cause they believed in reminded me of several religious and political leaders including: The Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, Gandhi, and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., to just name a few. Read more…

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Carpe Diem – The Arrival of Fall

October 24, 2011 12 comments

My son Jase. (C) 2010- Shelby Hurst Photography – http://shelbyhurstphotography.wordpress.com

The fall (autumn) season is a time of transition, it is a time of change from the hot hectic pace of summer (yard work, vacations, gardening, etc.), to a slower paced time of harvest and relaxation in the cool weather. Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. I live in Oklahoma, so the fall is a wonderful respite from the brutal summer heat, especially this year which was one of the hottest, and driest since the dust bowl. I also love fall for its cool crisp mornings and evenings, and for the spectacular foliage color change.

The other day as I was relaxing on my back porch enjoying a fine cigar and watching the squirrels busily gorge themselves on acorns, as well as hurriedly stash away reserves for the coming winter months. While I was ruminating on the fall season in general, as well as other transitional periods/seasons, my mind kept drifting back to one of my favorite movie scenes of all time, the “Carpe Diem” scene from “The Dead Poets Society”, starring Robin Williams. Please watch the clip: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qQtmGcdSDAI

Carpe Diem is a Latin phrase which translates to “Seize the Day”. As the Character of Robin Williams conveys so well in the scene, today is all we have, so seize today and make the most of it. As most of my readers should know the concept of enjoying life to the fullest, and truly “living” life, is an essential element in my life, as well as in my spiritual path (which is also evidenced by the title for this site). Read more…

Just Breathe

October 16, 2011 7 comments

Grand Teton Mountains, Jackson Hole Wyoming

What do you do roughly 20,000 times a day, but rarely notice? If you are alive (which I hope you are if you are able to read this) I guarantee that you are doing it right now… that’s right you are breathing. The average person takes about 20,000 breaths a day, but most people rarely notice this life sustaining act.

As so many of us race through life constantly checking the new email, text message, or App notification from our smart phone, the simple act of breathing gets lost in the shuffle. However, it is important to not let breathing get lost in the shuffle, because the act of breathing is not only the gateway for bringing oxygen (fuel) into the circulatory system, but it is also a gateway into our physical and emotional states. This is because, when we enter into an anxious state, our breaths shorten and the pace quickens, which in turn speeds our heart-rate and sends signals throughout our nervous system system to release adrenaline and other chemicals in order to ready itself in case a true “fight or flight” response is needed. While this quick ramping up of the fight or flight mechanism is great when you are trying to outrun a tiger, it isn’t great for your cognitive abilities, your long term health, or for your emotional states. Read more…

Momento Mori Through the Eyes of Steve Jobs

October 10, 2011 8 comments

Momento Mori is a Latin phrase which translates to “remember your mortality”. I first heard this phrase several years ago shortly after I joined the Freemason fraternity, and it is a phrase that has profoundly shaped my life ever since. It is a phrase that has both motivated me to achieve my goals, as well as caused me to enjoy life to the fullest, to truly live in the now, because tomorrow, or even the next minute, is not guaranteed.

Death is generally a taboo subject in Western culture, and as such it is rarely discussed, and most people earnestly try to not even think about it. Most people may think about the concept death when they learn of the passing of someone, but most generally quickly file the subject away, in order to avoid thinking about it too much. The subject of death can be an uncomfortable subject, because the death of our physical body represents the end of life as we know it, it is the end of everything we are certain about. As Shakespeare so eloquently stated in his Hamlet “To Be or Not to Be?” soliloquy, death is that, “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns”.

Death is something that we each will face, and instead of being something negative, it can be a powerfully motivating force in ones life. I know for a fact that I am not immortal, and because of this I will someday die, perhaps sooner than later. By being aware of this, I am motivated to live life to the fullest, to achieve my goals, and to accomplish as much as I can in whatever time I have left on this earth. As one of my favorite historical figures, Thomas Jefferson, once said, “Never put off till tomorrow, what you can do today”. Read more…

Suffering is Caused by Ignorance

October 6, 2011 11 comments

As many of my readers already know, I was blessed to be able to attend the Kalachakra Initiation, in Washington D.C., this past July. During one of the preliminary teachings that preceded the Kalachakra Initiation, H.H. The Dalai Lama, mentioned something that struck me at a very deep level, and has continued to resonate with me, “suffering is caused by ignorance”. While the concept of suffering is central to Buddhist thought (because the teachings are aimed at ending suffering), most of the teachings I had previously heard or read, stated that suffering was simply caused by various forms of attachment, so this teaching on suffering was new to me.

For my non-Buddhist readers, I should probably explain the concept of suffering in Buddhist philosophy. When most of us think of “suffering” we think of some sort of physical or emotional anguish. While this is truly a form of suffering, the Buddhist concept of suffering can be much more subtle. In Buddhist philosophy “suffering” includes regrets, desires, worries, depression, anger, and any other form of unhappiness (no matter how subtle), that is preventing you from living a happy and fulfilled life, and ultimately reaching a state of enlightenment. According to the Buddha, all forms of suffering are caused by attachment, because you can probably trace all of your suffering to some form of attachment to various emotions/mental patterns, desires/regrets, life experiences, the material world, or life in general. Therefore, the traditional teaching that attachment (in whatever form) is the root cause of suffering is true; however, the statement that suffering is caused by ignorance, took those teachings deeper for me and put them into a new context. Read more…

Be a Better Person Today

October 1, 2011 3 comments

The end of learning is to know God, and out of that knowledge to love him, to imitate him, to be like him, as we may the nearest by possessing our souls of true virtue, which being united to the heavenly grace of faith makes up the highest perfection.”

– John Milton

One of the topics that seems to be a recurring theme in many of my conversations during the past few weeks, is what is the purpose of spiritual and/or personal development? While I cannot speak for everyone, I feel that most will agree that the true purpose of any practice aimed towards spiritual and/or personal development is the continual refinement of ourselves on the various levels of our psyche, and ultimately our soul. Read more…

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