Tuesday, December 4, 2012


You can see the world as a shopping mall of experiences for you to consume or as a factory in which you are a small but significant contributor. The best way to enjoy the buffet is to put on your plate only the good tasting and good feeling stuff. Don't stand near the bad food wrinkling your nose all day and miss out on eating anything good. The best way to enjoy yourself in the factory is to give only your best even if those besides you are working half-assedly, or worse, actively producing dangerous garbage. Regardless of what kind of environment others seem to produce, you are still completely free to decorate your own windows to the world, still completely free to contribute to the cosmos more of what you would like yourself.

The best thing you can give the world is your own happiness because you are in a unique position to understand your needs and provide for them. You can see the positive repercussions of a happier you: you are more generous, less suspicious, and less judgmental. Self-pity is not the same thing as humility; it is the resignation of happiness to a cruel and indifferent world. Self-love is not the same thing as disregard for others. Awakened from the dream of separation, service to the self is indistinguishable from service to others, and the salient feature of the transaction shifts from who's giving and who's receiving to the pleasure in the air of the interaction.

Some say work hard play hard. I would add, playfully work, and take enjoyment seriously.

Friday, October 26, 2012

True Love and Infatuation

True love is care about another as if they were you (assuming you cared about yourself). Neither person is more important than the other. It is a perspective that transcends and includes both individuals'.

Sexual desire is not love. At best, it is the icing on the cake of love. When you say "I love her/him" but really mean "I sexually desire her/him", you cheapen love. When true love exists, sex is not perverse, and you don't have to worry about others judging it to be perverse because you know that the foundation is true.

Obsession and infatuation can result from an emphasis on the sexual or self-pleasure aspects of relating to someone else. You are not interested in the other person so much as how they can make you feel good. This is definitely not love because the moment they don't do or be what pleases you, it turns into anger, disappointment, or resentment.

A good relationship begins with love. Though infatuation may spark the initial encounter, you must quickly curtail your automatic reactions to it so you can concentrate on the selfless, transcendent perspective and build a solid foundation. Otherwise, the termites of resentment and manipulation will compromise the building relationship no matter how wonderful and glorious it appears right now.

Manipulation includes distracting yourself from sexual frustration with your object of desire by fantasizing about others or pornography. Though your sexual aloofness appears like transcendence, it really is just sweeping the frustration under the rug. It will creep up later in the relationship in the form of infidelity and not being present to the other.

More commonly, manipulation occurs as you want to maintain a steady supply of short-term self-pleasure at the expense of the other and the relationship. You don't even think about whether something is good for either of you in the long run, just how it makes you feel right now and, secondarily, how pleased the other appears right now. You trick yourself and your object of desire into thinking an action or attitude is fulfilling when it is really just a series of brief highs followed by a let-down, eventually spiraling into the big let-down of a breakup.

True love between individuals is the building block for true love between groups and nations. So long as we myopically seek immediate gratification at another's expense, we all suffer from being similarly used. As helpful as this selfishness has been in our evolution, we must learn to shed it and adapt to our new understanding of the inescapably interconnected environment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

How to time-travel and warp space

Amidst a pile of receipts and paperwork daily beckoning me to process them sits a photograph of my mom and dad at a refugee camp holding me as a baby. They look happy and peaceful. I don't know how they pulled off that look in the middle of a genocide they hadn't even escaped from yet.

No work gets done on this desk. It has become my basement. That the symbol of blissful family life is buried along with lifeless paper accounting exchanges of digits for doohickies in a pile of "I'll work on it later" bothers me a bit.

Screw it, I'll do it now.

I glanced at the photo and pictured the turmoil happening beyond the wooden frame and behind those deceptively tranquil faces. I imagined my dad to be my brother returning to me from a war, disturbed but composed, at least for the camera. I experienced his temper and irrational outbursts as an unyielding bullet burrowing through numerous people and finally hitting me after passing through him. Seeing his complete innocence in originating suffering and his brave attempt at containing it, blessings poured forth from my heart.

May you be surrounded by protection this day and all days forward into eternity. May you experience comfort, and may faith come easily to you. May you let slip past your heart like sand through your fingers the evils that you have experienced and witnessed. May you relax into an appreciation of how far you've come how much greater you'll become.

As these sincere wishes projected from my being into the living beings in the picture, a wormhole opened up by which the ordinary progression of time was warped and reversible. I saw him, that handsome young man who looks strikingly similar to me, reaching out to help his brothers and sisters but sadly unable to because of his arduous circumstance. Now and before: same problems, differently colored. He still tries to help his poor brothers and sisters, and he still feels imprisoned and unable to help. Poverty in the 1st world is as debilitating as poverty in the 3rd world; the improved medical care and longer life expectancies merely prolong the agony of living with a perpetually frightened mind. By painting the present as a warzone, we remain defensive and emphasize the scarcity of resources, thus pinching off the ambrosia that gushes out of the Earth's pores. Our mismanagement of resources and apparent inability to distribute a very available food supply is simply us blotting out an idyllic landscape with receipts, IOUs, mortgage documents, and other instruments of "busy"-ness. In momentarily letting go of these distractions of questionable utility, I came to see how my family--and possibly many families--paints a picture of war-torn poverty over the present land of plenty.

I can't change them, but I can challenge myself to take on a different view. I don't need to paint the same picture. My brush is ultimately free, even as others' criticisms seek to bind it. I can continue to paint right where they left off in that idyllic photograph, minus the baggage of decades of recycled nightmares. What if they didn't fake those smiles despite the looming clouds of death and torture? What if the initial romance they so artfully depicted was real and the later disillusionment was the aberration? My job is to see to it that those optimistic smiles are not disappointed, that the good dreams continue to deliver. And to believe it is to see it.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Broken glass everywhere

Ichigo was curiously exploring the glass vase on top of the refrigerator. He accidentally knocked it over, and broken glass scattered all over the kitchen. Nini was jarred awake from the top of the couch and ran over my face and chest as I lied there, scratching me to the point of bleeding. I sat up and stayed there quietly for a few minutes thinking calmly about what just happened. I went to the bathroom and checked and washed the cuts on my lip and my chest. Then I swept the kitchen floor. Finally, I smiled a mischievous smile at the kittens.

I wasn't mad at them because it all started with curiosity, which is a trait I admire and encourage. Of course, accidents happen, and fear is just another one of them. The result of fear can be violent or destructive, like the cuts on my body. Again, I almost instantly traced the chain of cause and effect back to curiosity and defused the potential anger or blame I could've felt.

Why don't I do that when people are involved? Somehow, I assume that people can be malicious inherently, that they are not merely hapless carriers of an infectious disease that happened to hit me. How useless a thought, this attribution of evil! The attribution itself is the evil that generates all the madness in my world and the world at large. If most of us would stop blaming others, it would be like a vaccine creating herd immunity against the virus of anger. The isolated outbursts of anger would simply dissipate as there aren't enough people around with the propensity to propagate it.