The purpose/7

June.6. 2018

In the history of mankind, there’s one man, one man alone, who had figured out the secret of life.

He understood that it all comes down to energy.

Because energy is behind every action, every expression, every thought.

But there’s good energy and bad energy, and to live a fulfilling life (which he called the kingdom of heaven) you must expend good positive energy.

This was at the heart of his teaching.

If you want to be surrounded by love and goodness, you must treat your fellow men with love and goodness and this requires effort, which is just another word for energy.

If you want to realize your full potential and multiply your talents, you must put in time and effort, and this also means expending energy.

He was deeply aware of how the energy you sow today will be returned back to you in kind tomorrow.

And if you don’t use your energy, whatever you have left will be taken away from you.

But what energy are we talking about?

Certainly not physical energy, the kind you can measure and put in your automobile tank.

No, it’s energy that comes from your spirit.

Spirit as in when you’re full of life and spirit—when you’re filled with an inner energy.

The wise man knew that the key to a fulfilling life lies in your spiritual energy and how you nurture and harness it to produce a life of abundance (which is another word for fulfillment or the kingdom of heaven).

If you want to read more about how this spiritual energy operates, here’s a book you might find useful.

The Laws of Spiritual Energy

Of if you prefer the hard copy, you can get it here.

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Amazon.com

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The purpose/6

June.5. 2018

Continuing from the previous post.

The one thing that makes everything worthwhile.

What might that be?

Going back to the earlier ‘if you have a guitar, play it’ assertion.

Yes, there’re different ways to play the guitar.

You can play it at the basic level—maybe strum a few chords or pluck a few notes here and there—if that makes you happy, that’s good enough.

But you can also coax the most sublime melodies and harmonies from those same strings.

It doesn’t take a lot of effort to learn how to do the former but to do the latter requires dedication and effort and time.

It’s the same with everything else.

You always have a choice, you can exist at the basic level or you can strive to go to the highest level.

One involves minimal effort, the other maximal effort.

So why do the latter when you can do the former?

Because effort and reward are tied together. The amount of effort you put into any activity is directly proportionate to its reward.

More effort means more reward, more reward means greater satisfaction, and greater satisfaction means greater fulfillment.

As someone once said, the reason we do something is not because it’s easy but because it’s hard, because hard produces greater reward and consequently greater fulfillment.

This is just one perspective. You may disagree and that’s fine too.


The purpose/5

June.5. 2018

There’re as many approaches to living a fulfilling life as there are people. And no one is to say that one is better than the other.

If what you do gives you a fulfilling life, that’s the only thing that matters.

My own approach has always been to ground it all on hard reality.

The reality of having to pay bills every month, paying taxes, getting to work on time every day, meeting all my deadlines, doing the yard when the grass gets high, dusting the house, clearing the cobwebs, and all the other menial things of life.

Why is this important?

Because if you don’t take care of this stuff (which can best be described as the business of life), you’ll end up wasting time and energy, fighting the resulting resistance.

Resistance as in, if you don’t pay your taxes, life could get complicated and you’ll waste valuable time and energy working with the taxman.

Some people of course thrive on complications, (such as the current No-Collusion guy on Twitter), but I prefer to travel with the wind on my back, which means as little resistance as possible.

After the business of life (which you might call the material side of life) are the relationships of life (which you might call its spiritual side).

And these too require constant maintenance, failing which you might find life not so fulfilling.

One of my mother’s favorite sayings is “More things more trouble” to which I would add “More friends more trouble.”

This will make more sense with another saying of hers, “Got come got go.”

(You might notice these sayings are all four words in length. It’s a peculiar characteristic of many Chinese sayings, like “Long time no see.”)

“Got come got go” means that if you want things to come in, first they must go out. In other words, all relationships are based on mutual benefit.

This is another real life story. I once knew a guy who was all about himself. He didn’t care much for others. His was the classic case of looking out for number one.

Life was fun, until one day when he found that he wasn’t so attractive any more. The old charm was still there but he didn’t have what it took any more.

So yes, you might think being alone is good now, but to be old and alone is not as much fun as you may think, and probably not very fulfilling.

(Which brings to mind the current epidemic of loneliness. Maybe caused by the other epidemic, that of looking out for number one?)

Finally the third compartment.

The reason why I prioritize taking care of the first two compartments, the business of life and the relationships of life, is so I can pursue this third compartment of life.

All three compartments provide fulfillment, but none more so that this third compartment, which is the source of fulfillment itself.

It is the one thing that makes everything else worthwhile.


The purpose/4

June.1. 2018

A fulfilling life means a life lived fully, in every sense of the word.

This means experiencing it in all its beauty and wonder, all its ugliness and squalor.

Because this is what life is all about.

Beauty and ugliness, wonder and squalor, good and evil, truth and lies, joy and sorrow, happiness and pain, these all describe the reality that is life.

(This may sound philosophical but trust me, there is no philosophy here, just the hard facts of life.)

And the ability to live life to its fullest involves embracing them all.

Otherwise you’ll be missing out.

You’d be like old King Midas who wanted to experience only one experience.

Take beauty and ugliness.

Life would be a living hell if we’re only surrounded by beauty. Or if all we experience is joy. How boring and unfulfilling would that be.

(True, in the heat of the moment, sometimes it’s hard to accept this reality.

If all you see is pain and ugliness, no one can blame you for wishing that life should only be happy and beautiful.)

The inability to accept the reality of life sometimes leads to denial. It leads to wishful fantasizing.

It allows conmen to fool you and manipulate you.

It is the reason why religions exist to exploit you.

It is why some people choose to live a life of forgetfulness, drowning themselves in addictions, as opposed to a life of wakefulness, where you’re experiencing life in all its glory.

That’s of course a personal choice.

Whether you prefer to live in denial or in self-fulfillment.


The purpose/3

June.1. 2018

You might think of life as a journey (yes, another well worn cliché which you’ve probably heard of many times before, but bear with me) that takes you from one place to another.

Temporally and sometimes physically too.

Every journey has two basic components.

First, a destination, then the means to getting there.

The destination is usually not a problem. (If it’s a problem, then perhaps you should stop reading right now because none of the following will make sense.)

The means to getting there is usually the problem.

Because it requires three essential elements, absent which will mean certain failure.

First, it requires energy which we might call the engine component (the engine is anything that generates power to drive you forward).

It requires knowledge of the way to getting there, which we might call the navigator component.

And finally it requires a control mechanism that coordinates all this and gets you there, something we might call the captain component.

Yes, you got the analogy, it’s like a boat which you have to navigate it through calm and treacherous waters.

So if you want to reach your destination, better make sure you have a captain that will ensure that what needs to get done is done.

A navigator who will steer you through rough waters and away from rocks.

And most importantly a means to propel yourself forward.

Simple premise, and absolutely critical to living a fulfilling life.

Because fulfillment implies getting to your destination, whatever it may be.


The purpose/2

June.1. 2018

To live a fulfilling life, to live your life to its full potential, you have to know two things.

First, in the real world, you count for absolutely zero. This may dent your ego a bit but the truth is, no one really cares about you.

You may want to believe they do but they don’t.

The only person people care about is themselves (and people here include you, even if you don’t know it.)

You may say this is an overly dark assessment of human nature but take these scenarios to see how truly altruistic you are.

Suppose you have a neighbor who’s constantly throwing trash into your yard.

Would you continue to let them do it? If you truly care for them yes, you would. After all, they have to get rid of their trash somehow.

Or perhaps there’s this guy in school or at work who’s constantly picking on you.

Would you just put up with it? After all he’s got to let off steam somehow and if that means picking on you, your super altruistic nature would say yes to this one too.

Or perhaps you know someone who’s so full of themselves, all they do is talk about how great they are all day long.

How long will you continue to stand there and listen to them? If you’re truly altruistic, you wouldn’t mind doing it. After all, you got nothing better to do with your time.

Yes, these are simple examples, but they show one thing.

At the end of the day, we’re only concerned about ourselves and our self interests.

This has one big implication.

If you want a good fulfilling life, you must always consider the impact of your actions on the other guy.

Not because of your good nature but because you care about how they respond to you—because how they respond will affect your ability to live a fulfilling life.

And this leads to the second thing you need to know.

There’re only two kinds of impact—the positive kind and the negative kind.

The positive kind produces good outcomes for others and the negative kind, bad outcomes for them.

Again, this is simple to demonstrate with our earlier scenarios.

Understand that if you throw trash into your neighbor’s yard, they will not be happy and they will respond in equally negative ways.

If you pick on someone at school or at work, they will not be happy and you might even lose your job, which is not a fulfilling thought.

Or if you’re so full of yourself and all you do is talk about how great you are, people will start avoiding you and soon you will have no friends.

Here’s another example (a real life one actually).

I once had a grumpy colleague. He was not the most pleasant person to have around.

You would say good morning to him and he would simply shrug and walk by without even acknowledging you.

(Amazing, but these self centered individuals do exist.)

It so happened that the chair of the department wanted to resign, and this guy, whose contract was also ending, wanted the job, badly.

Well, you can guess the blow back.

No one wants a grumpy guy, especially not in a supervisory position.

He might be a legend in his own mind, and he might think that he didn’t have to be nice to anyone. Well, life has a funny way of returning your negative energy back to you.

So not a very fulfilling outcome for him.

These are the two simple truths you need to know to live a fulfilling life.

First, people do not care about you; they only care about themselves, which means you have to care about the impact of your actions on others.

Second, there’re only kinds of impact, positive and negative.

Knowing these two truths will enable you to master your destiny.

You get to control what happens to you tomorrow by carefully controlling what you do today.

Being in control means you have no one to blame for what happens to you but yourself.

This is the ultimate in self empowerment.


The purpose

May.31. 2018

At the basic level, the purpose of life is simply to live it. There is no other purpose to life, no higher calling.

It’s the same philosophy that applies to everything we own.

If you have a guitar, play it. If you have a car, drive it. No need to hoard it or save it. Save it for what? At the end of the day, you’ll leave without it.

So if you have a life, use it, or more precisely, live it.

Living it means experiencing it fully. With all its ups and downs, good and bad.

In fact, the very reason there is an up is because there is a down. If you were to strive to be up all the time, you’ll end up being down.

Simple common sense, so no need to wish it’s otherwise.

That’s the basic premise of life—if you have it, live it.

But at what level do we live it?

That’s the next point.

We can live it at the basic existential level, which is simply to scrape by.

That may be fine for some.

Or we can live a life of dependency, to be forever dependent on the scraps that others throw at us. That seems to be fine for some too.

Or we can live it with all its promise and potential.

Something we might call a ‘fulfilling life.’

Fulfillment is of course in the eye of the beholder. So how do we see it?

The simple rule is anything goes as long as it doesn’t impact others in a negative way.

Why?

Because negativity always produces negative results which means that whatever you find fulfilling will be negated at some point.

Which means you will end up not so fulfilled

Next, implementation.


The Way

May.7. 2018

Many years ago, a wise man said, ‘I am the Way, the truth, and the life.’

Echoing the words from another wise man who referred to the Way as ‘the mystery of mysteries, the door to all wonder.’

My mother, a wise woman in her own right, used to tell me, ‘You have to catch the Way,’ a principle I have applied to everything in life.

The Way is truly the door to all wisdom.

I see it as the key that unlocks life’s mysteries.

And the world’s luckiest people are those who have found the Way (or Ways, because there are myriad Ways.)

As I mentioned, I have spent most of my adult life trying to find the Way.

Especially in my pursuits to soothe the demons in my soul—like trying to develop the most perfect guitar technique.

Or searching for that perfect expressive touch.

But like most things, sometimes the Way could be right at your fingertips, literally and figuratively, and you’re still unable to see it.

Until the day you lose it.

And then you realize what a treasure you had.

Some may see it as a negative thing, but I see losing the Way as a positive thing. It makes you appreciate how precious the Way is.

And of course, if you put your mind to it, you will always find it again.

As one of my friends said, ‘Never say die.’

I prefer to think of it as ‘Never give up.’

I have over twenty translations in my library on what the Way means. All academic exercises in pomposity.

You don’t need tomes of philosophical tracts to understand the Way.

The Way is simply the Way.

Like the Way to cook a half boiled egg.

Or the Way to play a perfect tremolo on the guitar.

Or the Way to build a life of your dreams.

Or the Way to repair a broken toilet.

Or the Way to San Jose.

And of course, there is no one Way to do all these things.

Which is why the Old Master said, ‘The Way that can be spoken is not the Way.’

As one of my current heroes, Mr Avenatti, would say, ‘It’s uncomplicated.’

 


The anatomy of religion

April.29. 2018

Most religions operate along the same lines and are structured with the same component parts.

The first and most obvious component is the organizational structure.

Which consists usually of a clearly defined hierarchy, made out of lower level clergy and higher level clergy.

The organization structure is the means to control. And in this, it’s no different from other human organizations.

You see the same underlings–the peasants–followed by local admin, followed by regional admins, and so on until you reach the top, which is usually the king.

The very fact that religions need an administrative structure establishes its human origin.

Next are the rituals.

Rituals are necessary to keep the flock in awe and to move their emotions.

If you want them to believe that you’re the actual representative of God, you have to heighten the reality quite a bit.

And you do this with elaborate costumes that differentiate you from the regular folks, incense that touch their olfactory senses, and rites and songs that fill their spirits with wonder.

These are all devices to create a special experience for the believers.

These elements too are man-made. You can see the same devices used in other human activities, most notably in sports and in concerts.

Third, we come to the rules and bylaws of the organization.

All organizations need rules and laws to keep the flock in check, to establish boundaries for them.

With rules, you also need appropriate punishments for any infractions.

There’re two kinds of punishments, the physical kind and the psychological kind.

In the physical kind, the rule breaker is usually banished from the organization or separated from part or parts of its operation. For some people who are emotionally attached to the organization, this punishment is almost like death.

But the other kind is even worse. It plays on your psyche by promising an afterlife of eternal punishment.

Think about it, the dread and the fear of this horrific punishment—especially for an eternity!

Whether the afterlife exists or not is irrelevant. What’s important is the mental torture it imposes on the poor believer.

(Judging from the well publicized crimes of some clerics, it appears that even some of them do not believe in this nonsense.)

And then we come to the core (supposedly) of the religion, its doctrines.

There’re two classes of doctrines—mythologies and spiritual teachings.

Mythologies are elaborate scenarios made up usually to establish the religion’s legitimacy.

It would usually include supernatural events and prophecies that would try to establish the religion in question as the one true religion.

Most of these mythologies are shrouded in ancient history. Some are attempts to explain the natural world and man’s existence in prehistoric times.

In themselves, mythologies are harmless, until they become the means by which its adherents begin to differentiate themselves from others.

And worse, to do harm to those who do not believe in their particular mythologies.

Finally, the good stuff.

This is the other part of the doctrines, the teachings.

Most religions (with perhaps one exception) teach its adherents to do good, to respect others, to live a blameless life, etc.

All worthy goals. (Whether its believers actually practice these teachings is another matter.)

You can call the teachings of the religion its true spirit. They are what really distinguish it from other religions.

In fact, if you really want to determine the legitimacy of a religion, (whether it’s really a revelation from God or the other guy), you can find it in the results of the teachings.

And in this, there’re only two criteria.

Do the results uplift the universe or do they downshift it?


An exercise in futility

April.28. 2018

The vastness of our current known universe is beyond mind boggling.

Somehow, to imagine that God is some white bearded old man residing up in the ‘heavens’ is as ludicrous as the old version of God as the sun.

So how are we to make of all this?

The first lesson is that all attempts to understand God is an exercise in futility. As is evident in all prior attempts.

A finite mind simply cannot comprehend an infinite concept.

But we waste enough time on many other useless pursuits, so why not an attempt to figure out God?

One of the key themes in many religions is the idea of a God who is personally interested in each one of us.

I used to think that it is a direct reflection of our egocentric nature.

Who are we, to think that the supreme Almighty would even bother with each one of us?

Until I thought of gravity.

Gravity doesn’t differentiate; it affects everything, from the largest supernova to the tiniest subatomic particle.

It’s a universal force that has everything in its embrace (for our discussion, we won’t try to figure out what it is exactly, whether it’s a force or simply warped space.)

So if we think of God as some universal force, like gravity, yes, it’s not too far fetched to think that it would affect all of us at a personal level.

(In this regard, you might say Mr. Lucas may not be too far off in his understanding of God.)

Whatever it is, we can safely say that God is not some being out there that’s constantly testing us and demanding our ‘obedience.’

Or dangling a carrot in the form of some heavenly paradise or a stick in the form of an eternal fire.

Or the scenario where God had to send his ‘son’ to suffer some indescribable torture and death so that mankind can be ‘redeemed.’

And to add more credence to this scenario, the ‘son’ will come again in some future time to set up an earthly kingdom where he will reign for 1000 years!

You decide where this careful and elaborate scenario lies on your plausibility index.