Friday Update (03-10-17)

What I’m reading
I finished Co-ed Naked Philosophy by Will Forest. About halfway through the book I began to find that many of the cliché nudist slogans, some of the improbable scenarios, and unbelievable conflict resolutions were getting a bit tiresome. I put my Kindle aside and thought about it a while. I began to think of the novel as kind of a “what-if” scenario and a possibility that I could envision. I suspended the rationality of the current reality and let this alternate reality take hold in my imagination. That renewed my interest and I followed the story to its inevitable happy ending where everything worked out and everyone lived happily ever after. I hope I didn’t spoil it for anyone.

It seemed logical to start Forest’s most recent novel, Aglow which I finished in a day. Admittedly, it took me a few chapters to get into it but once I did, it turned out to be quite interesting. In many ways, I enjoyed Aglow more than Co-ed Naked Philosophy.

On Wednesday I read The Timebound Traveler by David Newman, a kirtan artist and a Bhakti yogi. Although I’m not particularly spiritual, spirituality is an area I like to explore and this book was a wonderful exploration.

Yesterday I got started on In Search of Schrodinger’s Cat: Quantum Physics and Reality by John Gribbin. It’s not light reading but quantum physics is interesting.

Healthy stuff I’m doing
I’ve been faithful to the treadmill and I’ve found that the time passes much more quickly whilst I’m walking. I set up my Kindle on the treadmill’s shelf and start walking and reading. Before I know it, the workout is done. I’m also starting to work some yoga into my workout.

I’m making an effort to track what I eat and log the carbohydrates I consume. In 2008 I was diagnosed as per-diabetic and urged to count carbohydrates as means of managing my blood glucose. After doing this a while I noticed that I was also shedding weight since I was consuming fewer carbohydrates to be turned into fat. Of course, it’s too early to see any effects but fewer carbohydrates and more exercise should work well.

Movie I enjoyed
I watched the Mel Brooks classic, Blazing Saddles, a movie that never gets old. It probably never will grow old as long as bigotry, prejudice, and racism exist.

Weekend plans
There’s another DWB house party on Saturday night and although I’ve RSVP’d the hosts, I’m not sure I’ll attend. Social nudity doesn’t seem to have as high a priority in my life as it once did. Being nude is my preferred state and I enjoy the freedom and comfort as well as the other benefits one derives from being nude but sharing it with others is not a necessity. Oftentimes it’s not even sought. I tend to be introspective so nude solitude seems to be a natural preference.

Sunday will likely be taken up with the Sayaw dance practice. I’m not a dancer but I support my granddaughter’s participation. I love that she’s embracing that part of her heritage.

Quotes I’m pondering
“You can’t manage to avoid your own true nature forever. It’s a wonder anybody manages it at all.” ~ Jed McKenna

“Waking up to who you are requires letting go of who you imagine yourself to be.” ~ Alan Watts

“Waking up is not a spiritual path, but the simple recognition of who we are. “ ~– David Newman, aka Durga Das, The Timebound Traveler

The quotes are all from David Newman’s book, The Timebound Traveler: How My Journey as a Seeker Came to an End. For me, these quotes, as well as the book itself, appealed to me in a couple of different ways. It resonates with the thoughts I’ve expressed recently about how we are at war with our natural selves which includes our physical, mental and spiritual natures.

The book helped me clarify some things about my own spiritual path. In many of my yoga classes and workshops that dealt with yoga philosophy there was always the idea of being a spiritual seeker. Yet in The Bhagavad Gita, Krishna tells us to act without expectations. Doesn’t the very nature of seeking imply the expectation of finding what you seek? And if we don’t find it, don’t we become frustrated which brings about suffering? Maybe we just need to follow our practice, let go of our expectations, and trust that through grace you’ll awaken when the time is right?

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Half Century

“The man who views the world at 50 the same as he did at 20 has wasted 30 years of his life.” — Muhammad Ali

Since reaching the half century point in my life many of my attitudes and ideas have changed considerably. I have undergone radical transformations, many of which are still underway. In the past decade I’ve abandoned many assumptions, beliefs, and ideologies that I had held since childhood and replaced them with new perspectives. I’ve opened myself up to a lot of new ideas and look at the world much differently than I did a mere ten years ago.

It wasn’t as if I suddenly decided to change my life upon turning 50. The first 50 years of my life laid the groundwork for what followed. I’ve always been open to new ideas and different ways of looking at things. My travels exposed me to different cultures and beliefs which helped to shape the direction I would take.

I think that there comes a point in a person’s life when they begin to consider their own mortality, when they reflect on where their life has taken them. They start to question things they’ve held to be the truth or maybe they start to consider what’s further down the road. Maybe the spirit beckons. It’s different for everyone but for most, something instigates a transformation.

I don’t see the world in terms of absolutes — black and white, good and evil, liberal and conservative, left and right, Christian and heathen, Muslim and infidel, Jew and gentile — but as various shades of gray. I see all things that we can perceive in our mind or through the senses as impermanent and transitory. It will all pass and the things that Man has created are probably the most impermanent. Everything we create contains the seeds of its own destruction — our edifices, our governments, our economic and political systems, our societies, our religions. It will all pass but most are too blind to see that. We are blinded by the illusion that we are somehow immune from impermanence.

In many ways the years since the half-century mark have been at least as interesting and enjoyable as the fifty years that preceded them. Take the time to learn, to love, to be kind, to be grateful, to enjoy life, to live. After you’re dead, it’s too late.

Guilt and Forgiveness

I recently saw a notice about a Transforming Guilt workshop at a nearby yoga studio and I’ve given the topic some thought. Guilt has rarely been an much of an obstacle or even particularly troubling for me. Whenever I’ve become aware that I’ve committed a wrongdoing, any guilt or remorse associated with it has been short lived. I figure out my mistake, learn from it, and move on.

One notable exception was the infamous 02-02-02 incident. The actions leading up to it and their consequences left me remorseful and guilt-ridden for several years. I was in Hell during that time. I did  penance, I tried to learn everything I could on how to prevent repeating the behavior and took whatever actions I felt were necessary to make things right and to gain forgiveness. I was constantly beating myself up  psychologically and emotionally. I was depressed. I was miserable.

Then one day I had an epiphany. I suddenly realized that I had created my Hell. I reasoned that since I had created my Hell, I had the key to its gates and I could leave it at any time. I realized that I alone had been holding myself prisoner there and I needed no one’s permission to leave. I determined that I could remove the chains holding me there and leave behind the guilt and the rest of the emotional baggage. I could take what I had learned and make a fresh start.

I realized that my pardon did not depend on anyone’s forgiveness except my own. It was up to me to grant my own pardon. I had to forgive myself because I had no reason to expect it from anyone else. If anyone forgave me then it would be for their own reasons as part of their healing process.

Forgiveness primarily benefits the forgiver, not the forgiven, although they may also benefit. When we forgive ourselves we make a commitment to make amends and to not repeat the harmful behavior. When we forgive others, we exhibit love and compassion for them. However, forgiveness must be given freely and when we are ready to give it. To ask forgiveness is a selfish act. When you ask to be forgiven you are asking the one you have wronged to excuse your behavior, to bolster your ego, and to give youself power over them.

Note: The Transforming Guilt workshop was postponed but I plan to attend. I’ve taken several workshops with the instructor leading it and they have always been interesting and worthwhile.

Time Travel

Last night I watched an episode of Through the Wormhole discussing the possibility and feasibility of time travel. While the idea of time travel is interesting, I think the consequences of actually doing it might be dangerous, even disastrous. If your travel into the past or the future were interactive, you probably could not avoid altering events that might change the present. Even if it were not interactive and you were only an unseen observer, your knowledge of past or future events would alter your knowledge and perceptions in your present, potentially changing your time line.

We need to live in the present moment. Having the ability to go back in time to change the past would have unforeseen consequences in the present and in the future. Knowledge of future events would affect our actions in the present, thus altering the future. It gets quite messy rather quickly. It could also affect past, present, and future events in parallel universes. Screwing around with the space-time continuum is not something to be left to amateurs and we are all amateurs.

Thoughts on CRT

Cognitive Reflection Test

  • A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat cost $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?
  • If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how long does it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?
  • In a lake, there is a patch of lily pads. Ever day the patch doubles in size. If it takes 48 days for the patch to cover the entire lake, how long would it take for the patch to cover half the lake?

The higher your score, from 0-3, the greater your tendency to reflect on spontaneous thoughts. Psychologists who study the origins of religion say belief in God relies on several intuitions, including a teleological bias (the assumption that certain objects or event were designed intentionally) and Cartesian dualism (the belief that mind can exist independently of the body). So to become an atheist one must second-guess these automatic ways of thinking. And recently a number of studies have supported the idea that belief in God is influenced by cognitive style—how much of a second-guesser you are. Better scores on the CRT are correlated not only with lower religious belief but also with lower belief in other paranormal phenomena—mind reading, witchcraft, omens, spirits, astrology. Supernatural beliefs are intuitive, a default. Skeptics have to deliberately think their way out of their instincts. It is those people with a greater tendency to think reflectively who deny the existence of God and other magical phenomena. Everyone else (and presumably the reflective thinkers, too, before they reflect) just accepts that the universe has a mind of its own. Maybe we can’t prove this view to be wrong, but can prove this: Those who hold it are wrong on many other things, including the price of a baseball.

Fragmented commentary extracted from What Kind of Thinker Believes in God? by Matthew Hutson

That’s interesting and I have to admit that I “intuitively” answered 10¢ for the first one but after a moment of reflection, changed it to the correct answer. With the other two questions, I quickly deduced the correct answers. I’ll agree with the premise that my score indicates a tendency to reflect on spontaneous (intuitive thoughts) and I’ll tentatively consider that it may also indicate a lower religious belief or a belief in God.

I will say that I do not follow the Western (Judeo-Christian) manifestation of God as an omnipotent, all-knowing, anthropomorphic deity who sits in judgement of us, demanding that we love and fear him. My concept of the Divine (God) is more influenced by Eastern philosophies (the Vedas, Hinduism, Taoism, and Buddhism). My idea is that the Divine is the ultimate source of everything, the energy that powers it and the consciousness that guides it. It’s essence is contained in everything. It is beyond name and form and is not an object of worship. God does not do things on our behalf, smite the wicked, or sit in judgement. God is the witness. I have not fully accepted this concept but I’m open to the possibilities it holds.

In my study of yoga, Eastern philosophy and Vedic texts, I’m learning to put more trust in my intuition and my instincts. I don’t see intuition as God acting through me but as listening to my own divine nature, something that is part of my intelligence, not separate from it. I lean toward the tantric concepts of non-duality and the ideas that we are all connected and we are not separate from God.

Choices

StopWe always have choices and we make them every minute of every day. Every action we take, every word we speak, every thought we think, is a choice.

We can choose…

  • to be empowered or to be victims.
  • to love or to hate.
  • to be free or to live in fear.
  • to do what is right or to do what is convenient.
  • to open our hearts or to close our minds.
  • to gain knowledge or to remain ignorant.
  • to feel empathy or to feel indifference.
  • to be who we are or to be what others want us to be.
  • to accept change as inevitable or to stubbornly cling to the past.
  • to live in the light or to cower in darkness.
  • to walk your own path or to blindly follow one laid out for you.

“Believe nothing just because a so-called wise person said it. Believe nothing just because a belief is generally held. Believe nothing just because it is said in ancient books. Believe nothing just because it is said to be of divine origin. Believe nothing just because someone else believes it. Believe only what you yourself test and judge to be true.” — The Buddha

“Question everything.” — The Science Channel

Educating our children

Give your children your love, but don’t give your ideologies. Don’t make them Catholics and communists; that is poisoning them. Don’t make them Hindus and Jainas and Buddhists; that is very destructive. Give your love, give your loving nourishment, and give them strength enough to inquire who they are, what this reality is all about. Give them every support so they can go on in life with an adventurous spirit. Then you are helping them; then you are really educating them. Ordinarily, whatsoever exists in the name of education is nothing but mis-education. Real education is helping the person to be himself. It is possible only if you love the person for his own sake, for no other motive. If there is a motive, your love is contaminated. Then you are not a real father or a real mother.

Osho

Just think how different the world would be if we didn’t pass down our ideologies and dogmas. We need to give them the tools they need to think and act on their own, to do what’s right for themselves, for others, and the world, to act rationally, responsibly and compassionately. That’s so much better than passing on our prejudices, our ignorance, and our hate.