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Posts Tagged ‘Depression’

From the Archives- The Application of Shakespeare’s “To Be or Not to Be”

October 7, 2013 2 comments

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…

Zen Moments


This is my twenty-sixth (and final!) post in a series, where each Monday (if possible) I have tried to post a point of reflection or insight that I used to reflect and meditate on during the week. In order to make it a bit more focused and interesting, I attempted to do this with topics beginning with letters from A to Z. I have found that having a specific topic to reflect and/or meditate on during the week really lent itself to interesting insights and growth, because I not only had several days to reflect and meditate on the topic, but I also had several days to put any lessons and insights that I discovered to work in my every day life. For those that follow me on Twitter (@JasonLivingNow) I tried to write updates as the weekly topics came up during meditations, moments of reflection, or just during everyday life. To view the previous entries in this series, please visit the: Reflections and Insights A Through Z section.

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

My son Jason and I enjoying an OKC Thunder game!

Z= Zen Moments: Zen moments are moments, often unexpected, of mental and/or spiritual clarity and insight. Zen moments are the times in our life where clarity and insight breaks through the mental and spiritual clouds that can build up during every day life. These moments can happen at any time, but some of my most profound insights and experiences have occurred somewhat out of the blue after I have been ruminating on a seemingly endless topic for quite some time, or when I just take a random moment out of my day to relax, meditate, or reflect.

I have also experienced several of these moments out of the blue with my wife or son, where their laughter, a smile, or a simple hug blissfully places me smack-dab in the here and now, where I cannot help but relish in the beautiful simplicity of the moment. During these moments, the mental clutter and buzz of normal life fades away, and living in the now, is truly blissful.

Some may see moments such as these as a distraction, or even a possible anchor for attachment; because after all, bliss-hunting or bliss-seeking can easily lead one to fall into a never-ending trap of attachment, seeking, depression, and even addiction. However, these moments of clarity, insight, and general bliss, really help to keep me going on my spiritual path. Life isn’t about asceticism, where the one who gives up the most wins the most, the Buddha tried that method and failed miserably. Life should be embraced and enjoyed. Life should be blissful, peaceful, and serene. Read more…

The Power of Positive Thinking

January 23, 2012 1 comment

My son loves going for rides in my old Corvette.

Wherever you go, no matter what the weather, always bring your own sunshine.   ~Anthony J. D’Angelo, The College Blue Book

Well, I have already blown one of my New Years resolutions, which was to write a post a week. Well, sometimes life just happens, and that’s okay. I have had an extremely hectic past few weeks, and this week looks like more of the same. One thing that I have had to constantly remind myself over and over again during the hectic past few weeks has been to simply, “stay positive”. Staying positive is relatively simple, yet it has profoundly positive effects on our moods, emotions, and overall quality of life, because it helps you to make the best out of life and enjoy your present moment (living in the now).

If you stop and think about it, our moods and emotions (feelings) are largely governed by our thoughts. For example, when you are stressed out about something, you are probably running a constant stream of thoughts through your mind involving the cause of the stress (stressor). Also, if you are angry with someone, you are likewise probably running a stream of thoughts through your mind reminding yourself of all the ways you have been wronged, and how you are justifiably angry. Even negative feelings towards our jobs and relationships are governed by our thoughts towards the relationship or situation. 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…

Surrounding Yourself with Positive People


Positive people lend positive energy that helps to raise your own emotional levels. Also, positive people lend wisdom, insight, and suggestions, that can help you on various spiritual and intellectual levels. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that studies have shown that people who have happier work environments are more productive at work, and take fewer sick days. Also, studies have shown that children who have happier parents generally do better in school, are more motivated, and are more emotionally balanced than their peers who have disgruntled or depressed parents. It has also been shown that people who have a close group of positive friends tend to be lead more productive lives while being physically and mentally healthier.

The good news is that you absolutely have the ability to control the people you associate with. If you have a negative group of friends, a negative work environment, or a negative relationship, you can attempt to change the mood or focus through positive influences, or you can simply disassociate with friends, find another job, or end the relationship.

Therefore in order to enjoy life, and enjoy living in the now,  you should try to surround yourself with positive people who have similar interests as yourself, even if they have different perspectives. For example, I belong to a group of men who meet once a month. When the group meets there is always an abundance of positive energy, which naturally facilitates open and honest discussions involving intellectual and spiritual topics. Each member has a unique life experience, and therefore unique viewpoints on spiritual and intellectual topics. The different viewpoints strengthen the group because it allows each person to view various topics from different perspectives, yet in a positive and constructive manner. Read more…

You Really Can’t Take it With You

April 28, 2011 1 comment

“Nothing can be taken with us but the seeds of our life’s work and our spiritual knowledge” – H.H. the 14th Dalai Lama

One of the main ways to “rank” a society is to look at how much its citizens spend. Therefore, the more citizens spend on new clothes, homes, cars, electronic gadgets, etc. the stronger the economy and society are viewed to be. Therefore, in order to appear to be successful, or as somehow superior, you must always be a part of the newest trend, which cuases you to constantly accumulate more and more. This has led to a disposable consumer culture where you are encouraged to solely focus on the material world, and always desire the newest and greatest, or something bigger and more expensive. While this sort of mentality may be good for advertising and consumer product companies, it does not lead to a stable and happy society, or to stable and happy individuals.

The main problem with a disposable consumer culture on a societal level is that it can cause whole societies to have narcissistic qualities. Basically, as long as “we” (our country, society, or group) get what we want, then we don’t care who or what gets harmed in the process. For example, society “says” that the environment needs protecting, yet very few individuals are willing to cut back or make the necessary sacrifices to make a meaningful difference. Also, society “says” that human rights are important, yet governments around the world turn a blind eye to countries that exploit human rights, as long as it is economically or politically expedient to do so. Just to give one example of this hypocrisy, the U.S. has maintained a trade embargo against the nation of Cuba since 1960, and will continue to do so until the Cuban government moves towards “democratization and greater respect for human rights”; however, the U.S. has maintained constant relations with China, even though China is also a Communist country, whose government has proven time and time again to have far less respect for human rights than the Cuban government. Read more…

The Power of “Why?”

April 19, 2011 1 comment

Most people are familiar with the stage that children go through, where they ask endless questions, and every answer is followed by the question of “Why?”. Children go through this stage because it allows them to explore the world around them,  and make meaningful connections with the new knowledge they are gaining. As adults, we seem to stop asking “why?” and become comfortable with “it just is”. The “it just is” attitude can lead to stagnation in your personal and spiritual life, because instead of exploring yourself and the world around you, you become complacent and simply accept what you have been taught or conditioned to believe.

However, if you were accused of some sort of crime, I am relatively sure that you would not be so complacent, you would demand answers, proof, you would start asking “why?”. In the same way it is important to live your life by contemplating and asking “why?” about all matters in your life, including personal and spiritual matters. You must not only ask why, but you must explore the reasoning behind your response, then question your response, continue to repeat this process until you get to the root of your beliefs. 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…

Subduing the Ego… the Pesky, Pesky Ego

March 27, 2011 1 comment

Today our society seems content with feeding the lowest part of our psyche, what is generally termed as “the ego”. The ego is the part of your psyche that constantly seeks out gratification as well as praise and acceptance from others.  The ego is the voice in your head which constantly fills your waking moments, and even dreams, with a constant dialog that you are not good enough, a victim, or that you are somehow superior to someone else. Succumbing to the ego, and fulfilling its voracious needs, can become a type of vice that will stunt your spiritual growth and development. Many people need to “feed” their ego just like a drug addict, shopping addict, sex addict, or any other addict needs to feed their addiction first and foremost (these addictions are all caused by the ego to begin with).

The ego, if left unchecked, is the antithesis of spiritual development, and must therefore be properly channeled in order to develop yourself spiritually. A properly channeled ego is present in a spiritually developed (awakened) person, because a spiritually developed person is not concerned with public praise, gratification, and power.  A spiritually developed person is not concerned with the desires of the ego, because the things that the ego feeds off of are only temporary.  When you die your earthly possessions will eventually turn to dust, your legacy will most likely be forgotten by future generations, and the addictions which consumed your life will be meaningless. Read more…

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