Archive for the ‘Reader’s Favorites’ Category

7 Common Questions Regarding Meditation

September 9, 2011 5 comments

I am writing this article as a follow-up to a guest post that I wrote for The Art of Manliness Website, “A Primer on Meditation“. I feel that the article was well received, and almost all of the comments have been positive, except for the inevitable internet trolls. While perusing the comments sections, there were several questions that seem to be common amongst those unfamiliar with the practice, those just beginning the practice, or those simply in a rut. Since many of the questions presented by the readers often come up in any discussion on meditation, I will attempt address some of them, as well as other common questions. As always, I disclaim any expertise, I am merely a seeker and a practitioner.

1) Is Meditation “Evil” or Does it Conflict With My Religion?

Well no, unless you feel that any sort of self-improvement or self-introspection is evil, or conflicts with your religion. All religions teach the need for some sort of spiritual development, meditation provides fantastic ways of accomplishing the inner work that is vital to spiritual and personal development.

At its core, meditation involves delving within yourself to discover who “you” really are. There are many different ways of doing this, and some of the most common types are discussed in my article on The Art of Manliness. While some forms of meditation involve repeating a mantra of some kind, you can easily use a verse/poem/saying of your choice to recite; therefore, a mantra/affirmation is adaptable to any religious, spiritual, or philosophical viewpoint. Also, there are numerous meditation techniques which require no mantra/affirmation at all. Read more…


Be a Good Ancestor Today

My Son and I reading on my Nook Color

Our greatest responsibility is to be good ancestors

– Jonas Salk (Developer of the first Polio Vaccine)

Recently I have ran across several blogs, topics, books, podcasts, etc., promoting the message, “Be a Good Ancestor Today”. While it appears that the message originates from the above quote by Dr. Salk, the message has recently been popularized by the World Wildlife Fund, Dr. Judith Rich, Samantha Power, as well as various other authors and academics.

The central message of this theme/movement is that we must undertake actions that will ensure that future generations, our kids, grand-kids, etc., enjoy a healthy society and environment. While this might seem opposed to a “living in the now” mentality, it is not. While a living in the now mentality involves enjoying and fully experiencing each moment of life to the fullest (Zen Buddhism has excellent teachings on this), it certainly does not mean that we should undertake actions which are selfish, or harmful to others. To the contrary, we each have a duty to make sure that others are not harmed by our actions. We should always seek to help, but take care to never harm or negatively influence others. Future generations should look back on our life, and find it worthy of emulation. Read more…

Basic Spirituality

When most people think of a “spiritual person” they usually think of some sort of New Age guru, a hippie, a or a die-hard fundamentalist of one creed or another. Unfortunately this imagery has turned many people off of spirituality, because they don’t want to be thought of as “that person”, or have to answer to a particular religious group or creed. In reality, “spirituality” is not the exclusive realm of any one religion, or any of the aforementioned stereotypical practitioners. There are truly spiritual people who go to church, mosque, synagogue, satsang, etc. at every opportunity, and there are those who never attend any formal religious function.

Oftentimes, so-called spiritual people, also make spirituality seem overly difficult and dogmatic. This is ironic because many self-styled spiritualists began their own personal spiritual path by leaving very rigid and dogmatic religious systems.

Without using any New Age or religious buzzwords, spirituality at its most basic level is about discovering who “you” truly are, which means discovering the divine (created by God) soul that resides in each of us, and bringing your thoughts and actions in-line with your true nature, which is love and joy. Read more…

Disregarding End of the World, and Conspiracy Theory Myths

Recently the world was abuzz because of a theory from Harold Camping, the millionaire owner of the Christian Family Radio Network, that the rapture of Christians would occur on May 21, 2011. Although Harold Camping made a similar prediction in 1994, which obviously was incorrect, thousands of people sold, or donated, everything they owned to spread this message, and wait for the end of the world to occur. Obviously the sunrise on May 22, 2011, was a devastating shock to many of those people who had so completely bought into Mr. Camping’s false message.

Beyond Mr. Camping’s debunked theories, there is a constantly changing array of doomsday scenarios, whether it be the past Y2K predictions, or the current Niburu, Planet X, Nemisis, and 2012 predictions. Also, there are a never ending string of conspiracy theories involving the Illuminati, Freemasons, Bilderburg group, Bohemian Grove, etc. and their supposed desire to control the world. When these doomsday scenarios fail to materialize, or the conspiracies are proven false, new dates are set, or entirely new theories are created to take the former theory’s place.

The real questions in all of this is why would someone buy so fully into these fringe predictions, which are solely supported by shaky math, questionable biblical and ancient document interpretations, supposed psychic messages, or even a total lack of evidence (after all if you can’t prove it doesn’t exist, then it must exist)? Read more…

Enjoying the Small God Moments

April 12, 2011 1 comment

I do not claim to be any kind of spiritual teacher or guru, I am merely a seeker of truth. However, from time to time I have people who approach me for personal/spiritual advice. One of the questions that I am often asked is “where is God?”. Usually the individual says that they have been going to church, meditating, praying, studying scripture, etc. for x number of months or years, but that they have never really felt God, or at least they haven’t felt God in a long time.

Some of us are probably familiar with the “spiritual high” that is felt after some sort of church camp, spiritual retreat, meditation experience, etc. where you have such a profound experience that you literally feel as if you could reach out and touch God. Usually this feeling lasts for a few days, or maybe even a few weeks, until it slowly starts to fade away, leaving you yearning for another direct experience.

Others who have never had a spiritual high continually seek this magical and profound moment, and become disheartened when they have not experienced such an event. These people tent to jump around from spiritual practice to spiritual practice, and when the current practice does not quickly give them what they are looking for, they quickly move to another practice. Read more…

The Application of Shakespeare’s “To Be or Not to Be?”

In Shakespeare’s famous soliloquy from the play “Hamlet”, the main character, Hamlet, is racked with despair, and is questioning whether or not the unknown world beyond death will be easier to bear than the current life. Hamlet is in such despair that he is contemplating whether or not he should continue to “suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune”, or if he should “take arms against a sea of troubles”, by possibly committing suicide. However, Hamlet is unsure of whether or not he should act on his wish to end the pain he is suffering, because he is unsure what will await him in the afterlife in that “undiscovered country from whose bourn no traveler returns”.

While every sentient being suffers in one form or another, it appears to be a uniquely human characteristic to wish, or at least look forward to death. Many people turn to the concept of the afterlife presented in their religion to such an extent that they cease to truly live in this current stage of life. For example, some Christians look so forward to the day when Jesus Christ will appear in his prophesized second coming, that they are constantly trying to interpret every disaster as some sign of the upcoming Rapture and Armageddon. Other people are so disheartened with the world around them that they buy into the newest doomsday prophesy that the world is soon to be destroyed. Read more…

Coming to Terms with the Past in Order to Enjoy the Now.

When thinking about the past, most people tend to dwell on the negative, instead of focusing on the positive things in their past. For example, when I used to look back on my undergraduate days, instead of thinking about how I met my wife, achieved in school, had many pleasurable experiences, etc. In the past I tended to think about the rigors of balancing my education with having to work night shifts at a 7-Eleven to pay for my school and expenses. Until recently, when I thought about law school, instead of focusing on the achievement of a goal, having a child, and the good friends that I made, I tended to think about the long hours of studying and how much I hated the Socratic method when I was the one being called out for questioning in front of 100 people in a class room. I recently had a close friendship dissolve, and instead of focusing on the positive aspects, and what I learned from him, I catch myself focusing on the bad circumstances surrounding the dissolution of the friendship.

Focusing on the negative aspects of our past is detrimental to our spiritual progression, as well as our enjoyment of the now. By focusing on negative experiences in the past we are wasting our time and energy on things that cannot be changed, they are merely ghosts in the ether of time. While exploring our past, and coming to terms with it is an essential part of spiritual development, you should take care to only use your past in a constructive way. If you are constantly filled with regret or anger because of past decisions or experiences, you should  forgive yourself or whomever caused the pain, which will release the power the memory has over you. Use the past as a learning lesson on how you can be a better person today, and not repeat the mistakes which led to the painful memory to begin with. Read more…

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