As I’ve mentioned often on this blog lately, I’ve been pursuing peace of mind. Naturally, wanting to learn more about this, I have been spending a lot of time on Youtube, searching for lectures and videos on the topic, hoping to educate and better myself. I’ve come to learn that ‘peace of mind’ is a topic a lot of ‘spiritual’ gurus and religious types like to talk about, so naturally I’ve been stumbling into a lot of their videos. I’ve noticed that many of them get into “you create your own reality”, or “ask the universe for what you want and you will receive it!”
Whoa, that sounds great! I can create my own reality? Fantastic! Let’s get started. First off, I want to live on a giant floating island, way up in the clouds, inside of a beautiful palace. This palace will be surrounded by an elaborate garden, filled with flowers, colorful stones, and statues.
I want there to be rivers filled with crystal clear water, so pure I can drink it, and for this water to flow off the sides of my floating island as giant waterfalls, much larger than Niagra Falls. Oh, and for fun I’ll have all sorts of hot air balloons. I’ll hop off into one from a castle terrace and float off into this giant expanse of beauty, filled with majestic flying creatures, all who radiate magnificent rays of color.
Shimmering lights, similar to the auroras, will fill the skies around my castle; down below we will find legions of stunningly beautiful, magical nymphs who take care of my castle, its garden, and my every need. Oh, and of course, they’re all madly in love with me! These nymphs will be made of magical light and will be able to take on any appearance. They will endlessly love me, and you too if you come to visit! They will be beings of pure unconditional love. They’ll be amazing, funny, and overall, just a blast to be around. We’ll play games, sing, and dance. Oh, and when we really want to be crazy, we’ll also be able to manipulate these lights up above the castle and form any play reality we wish; there will be endless games, anything we can imagine really. Love, beauty, and endless fun, for everyone!
I want there to be a special background energy in this space. Unconditional love, ecstasy, and joy will permeate everyone who enters this place. They will feel welcome, happy to be there, and filled with creative energy, ready to play all the limitless games we will imagine to play together. There won’t even be a place for toxic, nasty behavior, unless it’s an act, and if considerable suffering starts to happen in a particular game, we’ll always end it.
This sounds great. I’ve made my request, now … MANIFEST! … MAAANNNIFFFEESSSTTTT NNOOOWWWW! *waves finger around like a wand*
Oh, wait a minute. I thought I could create my own reality? What kind of scam are you pulling here? Oh, I can only choose to create within extremely lame limitations. Oh, I have a choice, but it’s only between this boring job and that boring job, neither of which are any fun to do? Oh and to accomplish or do anything worth doing, there will be extreme suffering and tedium galore, otherwise you’ll say I lacked “faith”? Oh, and I can choose between this little box or that little box to live in, neither or which are particularly impressive. I suppose there are choices, but they’re all lame choices.
What do I want to do? All the things in my imagination which aren’t even possible in this place. I want to build a fantasy airship and float off into an epic adventure. I want to build and race futuristic flying cars at supersonic speeds on strange race tracks floating in space. I want to ride on the back of a giant, magical, talking panther in a majestic forest and romance a beautiful princess as I defend her from goblins and somehow help her save her kingdom from ruin. I don’t know, something!
Create my own reality? If I’m stuck in this … place … whatever it is, I’d just play and create video games, lift weights with the guys, play sports, maybe learn to play the piano, compose some music, I don’t know, fun stuff like that. Who knows, I even liked to draw in the past. I think it’s cool to express this neat stuff in your imagination so others can experience it, at least in some way. But my biggest problem has been that the things I really find interesting and enjoy doing, you can rarely if ever earn money doing it. So maybe I should practice manifesting bazillions of dollars, so I can liberate myself and all my friends, and we’ll do fun stuff. Yay! But isn’t that what everyone pretty much dreams of? That’s why there’s so much greed when it comes to money.
My friend Greg and I often discuss how the government stifles so many hard-working people, and keeps them down. I just wanted to share some examples of this.
Take this story of Esteban Narez, a ranch hand from California. To make ends meet he does a lot of odd jobs. At some point he realized he could improve his life a great deal if he could only learn how to shoe horses. So, he enrolls into Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School, only to be rejected because he lacks a high school diploma. So now the government is trying to get him to take english, algebra, history, and a bunch of general high school courses. The sad part is, he doesn’t have time for all that nonsense. It’s useless to him and he doesn’t have the time to waste on it, nor the money! He just wants to learn how to learn to shoe horses so he can move up a little in life. But can he? Nope. In order to have permission to better yourself, somebody in government decided that everyone must first have a high school diploma, instead of letting people be who they are. Sadly, these sorts of arbitrary regulations are not helping the poor, they’re actually holding these people down.
This general idea of holding skilled people back because they lack some worthless accreditation is commonplace in this country. Today you need a government permission slip of some kind to do almost anything, and these slips are often expensive, time consuming to acquire, and are just a huge hassle. I mean, why do you need a permission slip to paint homes? Why do you need a license to trim people’s hedges? To watch small kids in a daycare? It’s stupid. A struggling family could make an extra $30,000-$40,000 doing handyman work and painting, but nope. You don’t have your license!
You may be thinking that these licenses are there to protect the public and ensure quality of service, such as filtering out charlatans and quacks, but you’d be very wrong. As Dr. Morris Kleiner of the University of Minnesota, a preeminent researcher on licensing, points out in the above video, these licenses do next to nothing. The only ones who benefit from the licenses are those who are able to afford the license fees and waste the time to get them, especially when potential competitors cannot, giving certain businesses an edge over their competition.
Here’s an example. Here are some amazing cooks, wanting to earn a living sharing their good food, and customers are buying it up! The problem is, they’re operating their small restaurants out of home-made food-trucks. They just pull up somewhere in town and start serving food, and the people love it. But then the government steps in and shuts them down. The local restaurants can’t have competition from these guys! They call call their buddies in the local government and ask them to run these pests away!
Or maybe you’re like me and would like to eat homegrown food from local farmers in your area. Too bad! The government has banned these farmers from advertising. If they even try to tell you they exist, they will incur huge fines. The big mega-farms can’t have competition from local farmers!
Or take this next business. Here’s a young guy wanting to earn a living sharing his passion selling retro video games. He invested in a giant inflatable Mario and the customers were pouring in. Then some snobby person from the city thought it looked tacky and they made him take it down. Having a beautiful city means more than the welfare of the actual people living there. Can’t advertise unless you do it the way they tell you to, which often means buying an expensive billboard on some special sign post they designate, and they’ll charge you all kinds of money for the privilege. Only the already successful, richer businesses can afford it, and to the rest, it’s a polite way of giving you the middle finger. Just another way they hold people down.
I feel especially bad for this next guy. Here’s a foreigner who came here with a dream of a better life. He saved, worked hard, and over time built up a small chain of laundromats. Good for him. But can he just be left to enjoy the fruits of his labor? Nope! The police started seeing some poorer, shady customers using his laundromats, so they went undercover and tried selling them illegal merchandise, hoping to bust them; unfortunately, some of these customers took the bait, and who pays? For some strange reason, the laundromat owner. The government used “nuisance” laws against him, and treated his business the same way they would a street corner that solicits prostitutes! Now the police are threatening to shut down the business, taking everything this man has worked his whole life to build. And for what? He didn’t do anything! And take a look at his laundromat. The machines are new, the place is clean. Leave the guy alone!
You don’t even have to be a business to be hassled by the control system. Take my home state of Missouri. Like everywhere else, we have politicians spending too much money, so the state is resorting to creative ways to increase tax revenues. Now we have police going around, issuing fines for everything, and how could anyone ever keep up with the ever-changing, totally arbitrary, nonsensical rules? In this next video, we find an impoverished family being fined for having BBQs in the yard, for lacking curtains, for having mismatched blinds, and for not having a screen door. What in the world. Already struggling to get by? Great. Now let’s make your life even more difficult by giving you expensive fines. And what’s even more sad is these folks didn’t have the money to pay the fines so they had to take out payday loans, which have crazy interest rates, further impoverishing this family. Leave them alone!
I could go on and on about this stuff. I can’t stand it. Years ago my parents tried to open a daycare within their church. Then some government person came in and kept asking them to change this, change that, and on and on. Over the course of two years, my parents had to spend tens of thousands of dollars to renovate the church building, which the daycare was not bringing in. The business went under, not because the children’s parents were unhappy with the service, but because of the government.
It’s sad to see people being held down when they’re trying to pull themselves up by their bootstraps. But in my opinion, governments more often than not serve the interests of the rich and elite, both locally and federally. They use these sorts of regulations and arbitrary rules to hold the rest of us down and eliminate competition.
The most profound things in life are also the most simple. I’m going to pose a very simple, yet profound challenge for you. Can you just sit down someplace in your home, or the park, or wherever, and for one hour do absolutely nothing? In this challenge, you’re not allowed to do anything as you sit there. No goofing off on your phone. No daydreaming. Not thinking at all, especially worrying about all the things you “need” to be doing. Can you just sit there, doing nothing, thinking nothing, and just be there where you’re sitting?
I can pretty much guarantee you that if you haven’t been practicing this, and learning techniques about how to free yourself from compulsion, it’ll be difficult. Your mind will wander all over the place, mostly worrying, probably about things you’ve sat and thought about a million times before. You’ll get compulsive urges to look at your phone, check Facebook, read the news, or whatever it may be. You’ll get pangs of hunger, and then want to eat snacks, sip soda, or something. There’s always a distraction, always some compulsive behavior, generated by the brain, which yanks you somewhere and you follow it, no matter if it’s making you depressed, ruining some aspect of your life, or keeping you from doing things that are actually worthwhile. The human brain is this compulsive mess, and it bombards us with mostly stupidity, all the time.
You know why this is important? Maybe you don’t, so I’ll tell you. This is about taking control of your life. It’s about actually being in the driver’s seat of your life, instead of being driven by every random compulsion your brain generates.
Just to give a few random examples, with some, when a situation arises which makes them nervous, they have to have their cigarette, even when it destroys their body. With others its food. They just can’t stop eating. I’ve heard overweight people tell me, “This is one of the few joys I have in life. This food!” They look at their body and they’re morbidly obese, but they keep putting food in their mouths, even when they have all kinds of health problems. To some its alcohol or marijuana. Something in life is making them upset, nervous, or bored, and they have to go to that substance. Compulsive negative thoughts must be combated by some substance to drown it out, or distractive compulsive behavior to compensate. Their mind just goes nonstop, mostly negative thoughts filled with worry, despair, anger, and depression, like a recording playing over and over and over. Then they have to run from it, and it just goes on and on.
And you know the worst part of it? The brain never stops, so if you always have to run from its compulsive thoughts and emotions, they are in total control of your life. You’ll go to work on something important to you, or try to spend time with your kids, or whatever, and then uh oh, the compulsion’s here. Oh no, now what do you do? I need my distraction! I need my mind numbing substance! I can’t just sit here, I’m bored! This is terrible! I need something to do! I’m going crazy! So off you go, reacting to random compulsions instead focusing your mind and efforts, and directing your life.
This is why just being able to sit in one place, doing nothing, is so profound. It’s not that sitting is profound. It’s about being totally free of compulsion and distraction. All the random desires of the body have been put under control. When you see some Yogi mystic sitting beside a temple, meditating, doing nothing for an entire afternoon, it’s profound because they’ve liberated themselves from all the passions and desires of this world. The body’s compulsive passions and thoughts are a form of slavery which they are delivered from.
Take this next video for instance. Sadhguru is a Yogi master who teaches meditative practices to help one achieve peace of mind. Someone in the audience asks him why these Yogi men, living in the mountains and temples are so often celibates. What’s wrong with sex?
He tells them there’s nothing wrong with sex. Being a celibate has nothing to do with abstaining from sex, it’s about not needing sex to be happy and fulfilled. To these Yogi masters, sex is simply irrelevant. That’s hard for our society to understand because we’re obsessed with sex. How many of us have seen our friends date the “wrong” man or woman, all because our friend was caught up in sexual attraction? She’s hell incarnate and he’s a walking demon, and that makes our friend miserable, but look at that face and body! She’s all he thinks he needs! Our friend’s sex drive is leading him down a path of misery. It’s no different than an obese person ordering a few large Domino’s pizzas for dinner, chowing down. So he tells you, “Sure I have high blood pressure, I’m fifty pounds overweight, and have stones in my gall bladder from this grease, but a man’s got to eat doesn’t he!?” Keep telling yourself that, but you know and I know that you should be eating better.
Do you see why this is a big deal yet? If you can sit for an hour, in one place, and not let all the tugs and pulls of the mind and body dictate your behavior, you are once again in control! If you can do this all afternoon, just sitting on the porch, watching the birds, thinking and doing nothing, then wow, you’ve made it! That’s because deep down within us is our core consciousness, the real reality. It’s already at peace. It already has all it needs. It’s always been there, and will continue to be there. You’ve just always been running away from it. To deliver yourself, you only need tap into it and it’s like, oh, this is nice, I never needed all the things I thought I needed after all!
You can have a big house, a small house, a brand new sports car, or no car, a significant other, no significant other, a good job, a crappy job, lots of friends, no friends, a wonderful family, or no family, it doesn’t matter if you know how to quiet your mind. All of these desires, these thoughts of what you think you need, they’re illusions, they’re ghosts, they’re not real.
You see why this is such a huge deal yet? How many of us went to college for years, studying things we don’t care about, all in hopes to land a “good” job, to earn all this money to buy all these things we never needed in the first place. We told ourselves that we won’t be happy unless we have a certain level of material comfort and success. These things are supposed to bring peace of mind, but it’s a lie, just like everything else in this world. It’s all lies.
One of my professors who I did research with was trying to hook me up with a job working in military technology for the U.S. Air Force. One of his former students graduated a few years back and has been working for them and is now making close to a quarter million dollars a year. So after I completed my thesis paper they were going to hook me up with a job there. Just drowning in money. But I didn’t take the job. What!? Who wouldn’t want to make $25,000 a month and work on state of the art technology!? What are you doing Jason?
*Shrugs* You know what job I did take? I work as a lecturer in math and physics, teaching young undergrads the fundamentals of math and physics, and go to the workshops and help students solve problems. I’m a teacher. I may make way less money, but you know what really fascinated me? That former student making all that money, when asked about his massive paychecks, you know what he said? He said he has no idea what to even do with all the money. When I sit and think about it, at this point in my life, I honestly don’t have any use for all that money either, so why take on a job that’s more stressful and builds weapons which are used to forcefully used to impose one’s will upon another in warfare? I’m not about force and enslavement, I’m about working together, freedom and expression of individuality.
But Jason, you could own a giant mansion with twenty bedrooms and six bathrooms, and an inground pool, and your own private gym, and your own private theater, and everything else. Then you can buy some overpriced car and be a big deal! Wouldn’t that be cool! *Shrugs* I don’t mind hopping in my Jeep Patriot and driving a few minutes to the gym. I don’t really watch movies; not very often anyway. The university has a giant olympic sized swimming pool I can swim in at any time for free. As for the giant house, I don’t have any need for all those rooms. All I need is a bedroom, a closet, a larger room for my computer and video games, enough space to have friends over to play video games with and hang out, a guest room for when friends need to stay with me, a kitchen, bathroom, a basement to store stuff. Check. Well that’s about all I really need. The rest isn’t really of any value to me.
The same goes for all sorts of things in life. People are always asking me when I’m going to get married. When asked, I may lightheartedly joke about it, but deep down, my real answer is that I honestly don’t care. That’s not a depressing “I don’t care, what’s the use.” It’s a “I’m already fine as is.” And the funny thing is, now that I don’t have any strong desire for marriage, and am content within myself, I’m actually at a place where I’d probably be a wonderful husband. I’m at a place in life where I’m “full” and am more about giving than taking. It’d be more about, “What can I do to make your life better”, than “Here’s all the things you will do for me.” I suppose it’d be nice to have help doing all the little things in life, like getting groceries, running errands, etc., but I don’t have any problems doing it myself.
My goals at this point in life do not involve careers, money, relationships, family, or anything like that. To some this may sound strange, but as I journey down this road of peace of mind, my goal has been to connect more and more with what one might refer to as higher consciousness, or the higher self. Christians would call this the Holy Spirit, Buddhists and Hindus the ‘Atman’. I’m working to develop a deeper relationship and understanding of what some circles refer to as God, or others as Brahman, the infinite, eternal truth and bliss which is unchanging, yet is the cause of all change, which it seems to me exists both deep within me, and also without. If you want to practice this state of mind, when you look at another person, see them as the Ultimate Reality/God/Creator. When you look at yourself in the mirror, see the Ultimate. When you see the world around you, see it as an aspect of the Ultimate.
There are aspects of consciousness and existence within me which need further understood and explored. The Tibetian Book of the Dead talks about entering the clear light upon death and to avoid the duller lights, even when they’re easier to look at. That’s where I’m going, connecting with that brilliant eternal radiance, as much as possible in this life, and upon death, whatever of mind/spirit/existence remains of me, I’m going back to that light. I’m lovingly detaching, if that makes any sense.
This may sound superstitious to a lot of you. But as I’ve developed a relationship with this… higher self… I call on it all the time. I ask for my mind to be cleared, for peace and silent happiness to fill me and be with me, and for my emotions to balance; I quiet my mind and focus on that intention, and it happens. It used to just happen sometimes. Now it happens EVERY time. If I start feeling emotions that are unpleasant, I go back to that place. I want clear, brilliant silence. You may say, Jason, that doesn’t happen. You can’t just feel like crap inside, and then focus on some intention and your entire mind and emotions clear, and you’re left at peace. That isn’t real!
*Shrugs* Say what you want. Maybe it’s not real to you. It works for me. You can’t tell me it’s not real at this point. I do this over and over and over again. The world is still a chaotic mess, but it bothers me less and less each day. Like I’ve mentioned in past posts, I’ve unclogged a lot of the gunk in my … mental/spiritual pipes.
This morning I was quite proud of myself. I needed a signature from one of the physics professors on campus, and I stopped by his office. I then ran into someone in the hallway who told me he wouldn’t be in for about an hour. I thought, well, I could go home, and then come back, or maybe I’ll use this as an opportunity to practice clearing my mind and just being present. So I leaned against the wall, and for about thirty minutes (he showed up earlier than expected) I did nothing. I just sat against the brick wall, doing nothing, thinking nothing, just observing the room I was in, feeling the texture of the bricks along my back, moving my toes around within my shoes and enjoying the experience.
To many this sounds boring. I should’ve loaded a game up on my phone! I should’ve read news articles! I should make the most of my time! But I ask you, why? You know why you think that? You think that if you just sit there, avoiding the present moment, you’re going to be bored. Boredom is horrible and must be avoided at all costs! But in actuality, if you’re really “present” in that moment, thinking nothing, there’s absolutely no problem. If you know how to be present, you’re not happy, nor are you sad. You’re just there and the room is just there. That moment is there, and you are there in it. Nothing more, nothing less. It’s no unpleasantness at all; there’s no suffering there. It’s quite nice.
I want to be silent and at total peace within myself. I want to be free of compulsion and disarray. I’m getting better everyday.
As I got to thinking more about censorship, and the actual core as to why it is happening on all sides of the aisle, I believe the real solution is compassionate deep listening. I first heard about this concept from the Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
“Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of the other person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose, to help him or her empty his heart. And if you remember that you are helping him or her to suffer less, and then even if he says things full of wrong perceptions and bitterness, you are still capable to continue to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, with compassion, you give him or her a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him or her correct his perception, you must wait for another time. For the time being, you just listen with compassion and help him or her to suffer less. And one hour like that can bring transformation and healing.
The fear, the anger, the despair is born on the ground of wrong perception. We have wrong perceptions concerning ourselves and the other person, and that is the foundation for conflict, war, and violence.
We should be able to say like this: dear friends, dear people, I know that you suffer a lot. I have not understood enough of your difficulties and suffering. It’s not our intention to make you suffer more. It is the opposite. So please tell us about your suffering, your difficulties. I’m eager to learn and to understand. Dialog has to start like that, loving speech. And if you are honest, if you are true, they will open their heart and tell us. And then we practice deep, compassionate listening. And during the process of deep listening, we can learn so much about our own perception, and their perceptions. And that is the best way, the only way, to remove terrorism.
Anger is energy which people use in order to act, but when you are angry you are not lucid. And you might do wrong things. That is why compassion is a better energy. And the energy of compassion is very strong.”
— Thich Nhat Hanh, Buddhist Monk
The most heated topics involve a great deal of suffering, on all sides of the debate. That’s what fuels the hatred, anger, and the deep sense of injustice within. People have to be willing to put aside their differences, respect one another, and enter this compassionate dialog, listening to one another, and learning how each side sees the other. Then when everyone understands one another’s point of view, has seen the genuine effort from the other side, and understands the suffering involved, it is much easier to make the proper course corrections.
Arguing over one another on social media, getting into some censorship contest, trying to silence your enemies, it isn’t going to accomplish much. I believe it will only make people more angry; those involved will feel that nobody is listening, that the other sides do not care.