Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Letters to a Young Poet

Think of the world you carry within you...
Be attentive to that which rises up in you and set
it above everything that you observe about you.
What goes on in your innermost being is worthy of
your whole love; you must somehow keep working at it.

Raine Maria Rilke, "LETTERS TO A YOUNG POET"

Friday, 23 October 2009

The Big Question

Ask the universe: "Okay, what do you want me to do?" Try and keep a dated record of the responses, the fist sentences that flash into your mind. Don't think about it just write.

  • I want you to forgive.

Thursday, 22 October 2009

Letting Go

Letting go seems difficult at times but the thing is that whatever we are trying to let go of has already gone. It's in the past and life has already moved on and is bringing other things, hence the only thing to never seems to go is our thoughts about some incident that happened in the far distant past.

Thoughts of the past and things that never happened for one reason or another and you somehow wish the outcome was different seem to run endlessly though my mental screen. Even a shocking incident that turned your world inside out is here only briefly and gone the next, it seems like the only way these thoughts seem to live on is if you think about it constantly and then you may be dealing with it's effects for quite a while, but the loss, the thing that happened is really over.

Let me tell you why you're here

Let me tell you why you're here. You're here because you know something. What you know you can't explain, but you feel it.You've felt it your entire life that there's something wrong with the world. You don't know what it is but it's there, like a splinter in your mind, driving you mad.

Morpheus from the Matrix, "Let me tell you why you're here."

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Freewill and Predetermination - Do we have free-will?

SOCRATES Hail to Thee, Aeschines! From where do you return to visit us now?

AESCHINES I have just returned from my father's kitchen where I was assisting him in making his famed spiced meat delicacies.

S. Yes! Charinus makes the finest sausages in all Athens, that is beyond dispute.

A. Thank you, Socrates. Next to my father, I love you dearly. I hope I shall never leave you. Strike me with your staff, for you will find no wood hard enough to keep me away from you, so long as I think you've something to say.

S. Only the sausage-maker's son knows how to honour me. 2 I wish all my friends were as loyal as you, Aeschines. In some ways, your respected profession has often appealed to me as most enviable. You assist your Father whom you love, earn an honest livelihood, exercise great care and attention keeping the restless mind in check, and what is more, create delicacies for the citizens of Athens to enjoy with wine and fill their bellies, which when digested, turns to thought and hopefully beneficial actions.

A. Thou speakest truth as always, Socrates. I have toiled to excel at this work, selecting the choicest herbs, learning to pound the cooked rare meats into a paste and blend them, pack them in an edible skin and make them look as appetising as possible.

S. I am persuaded of your eminent skill, Aeschincs. I trust you will not refuse me a sample of your labours.

A. Here is one of Father's latest concoctions, a mixture of lamb and rabbit flavoured with honey, thyme and black pepper.

S. Thank you. I shall relish it more after our conversation but now ask me whatever you will.

A. You said earlier that my food after being digested, stimulates thought which leads to action.

S. I recall having said that.

A. Does this mean I am indirectly responsible for my clients' thoughts and deeds?

S. After a fashion, partially, but not completely. Thoughts need food stuff to make them happen.

A. But surely Socrates, man is responsible for his own thoughts and actions, and has the freedom to decide his acts?

S. Dear boy, I hope you will not be shocked when I tell you that man has no freedom of will, and is not responsible for his actions.

A. But surely Socrates, this goes against the 'consensus gentium' of educated people and their commonsense. I feel and I know that I am responsible for my acts. When I think to do something, I carry it out.

S. Are you so sure, my dear fellow? Let us examine this matter more closely. Sit down a while. You say you think; where does the thought that you have, come from, in the first instance? Where does it arise?

A. From me, of course.

S. From Me. Tell me, who is this Me? Can you find him inside? Now watch closely. Where do thoughts actually come from? Be very honest.

A. Well, surprisingly they seem to arrive from nowhere, out of the blue. From the Gods, perhaps.

S. Now you see that you did not create the initial thought. It arrives from you know not where. Then what happens?

A. It commences the faculty of reasoning.

S. Yes. It touches your mind, and either the thought is rejected as unworthy or accepted as useful, according to needs, standards of upbringing and so forth; and it starts a process called thinking.

A. But surely I start the process of reasoning.

S. Are you sure? Look closely now. See what actually happens. A thought arrives from nowhere, touches the mind which reacts according to its patterns of education and what it believes to be the right response, and some more thought weighs the matter up.

A. But surely in the weighing I choose from the alternatives offered by commonsense and reason?

S. I mistrust your commonsense and conventional opinion, the so-called reason of the masses. Only the philosophers understand the nature of choice, and not too many of them, I suspect.

A. Do you mean I didn't choose?

S. What happens if you watch, dear sausage maker, is that the mind or thoughts present alternatives, and according to your disposition you choose what you consider to be the most practical, pleasurable and in the best interest for you. But there is no daemon inside to choose. The choice happens mechanically, like an abacus, and then the mind foolishly ascribes it to itself as "a free agent", boasting arrogantly "I CHOOSE."

A. Please continue, Socrates. This is most illuminating.

S. Truly the choice was inevitable. The so-called act of choosing was part of the structure of predetermination. The choice was inevitable, because it appealed to your hidden tendencies of pleasure, and what you believe to be appropriate. In fact there was never any freedom to choose anything other than that which was chosen.

A. But surely if a man does good deeds, they are his own, just as the man who does evil deeds?

S. Again, Aeschines, let us examine very closely. Watch how everything happens. A train of inevitable events leads one man to the good, another to the so-called evil.

A. How is that?

S. One man is born into a noble womb, with refined educated parents, another into an uncaring home of ignorance. Patterns of behaviour are laid down like a mosaic, by example and imitation. What you call good and bad habits are largely mimicry.

A. But surely, Socrates, there are innate tendencies of good and evil that men are born with?

S. Yes. Souls are transmigrated with these tendencies laid down.

A. So what determines this behaviour of these souls?

S. Examples from parents, family, teachers, people you meet, heroes, reading, and so forth. You are determined all the time, by each new event.

A. Is this the way the Gods control our destiny?

S. Broadly, yes.

A. I see. So when I choose, I imagine I'm choosing, but really it's all predetermined.

S. Exactly. You are beginning to see the point.

A. Then tell me, Socrates, the idea that I can do anything of my own free will, is that falsely imagined?

S. Yes.

A. Then how do I live?

S. Choose as if you have choice, knowing you really have none. This is a step towards freedom and the Good. It will remove guilt, and stop you from blaming others for their so called bad deeds, and stop you from flattering others for their so called good deeds, according to society's approval or disapproval.

A. If this was generally understood, what would our tragedians have to write about?

S. Very little. But about good and bad, the Nubian, Libyan and Egyptian have quite different standards to we Greeks, neither better nor worse except according to our opinion. Moreover, each tragedy illustrates a chief characteristic which prevents the hero from coming to Self knowledge. Such was the blindness of Oedipus.

A. But how will I live, knowing all this?

S. Enjoy yourself, my boy. Be happy. Love your work, and study philosophy, but don't attribute your actions to an imaginary ME who doesn't actually exist which is the real slavery.

A. Thank you Socrates. But…

S. There are always 'buts' - listen! This idea that men can act independently of the Gods is at the root of their bondage, and enslaves master and boy alike. To be free, a man must know this clearly. This is my point. I hammer it home continuously.

A. How do I see this clearly?

S. Some time, reflect on major events of your day and examine how much they really happened through your free will? This will undermine your vanity and your pride.

A. Thank you.

S. The tyrant is the imaginary ME who has usurped the Good which is our birthright of freedom. Sacrifice him to the Gods, and all will be well, I promise.

A. Thank you again, Socrates.

S. Come, my dear friend, let us enjoy your sausage with some Cypriot wine; Ah! I can see Alciabides approaching.

Friday, 9 October 2009

Unsent Letters

Christina Baldwin, in life's companion tell us:
Because of this strong impulse to communicate to another object/person, letter writing is a natural part of journal keeping... you may discover unsent letter are excellent ways to finish business with people and events that are no longer a part of your life
My unsent letter was written in anger but yours may be one of sadness, regret, joy, memories... whatever it is you need to say to this person/object in your life/memory. Ms. Baldwin also reminds us that you DO NOT need to take the "recipient's" feelings into account when writing! He/she/it will never read it.

So, grab some paper and write,

Tuesday, 6 October 2009

Inspirational Quotes

".Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by size, do you? Hmm? Hmm And well you should not. For my ally is the force, and a powerful ally it is. Life creates it, makes it grow. Its energy surrounds us and binds us. Luminous beings are we, not this crude matter. You must feel the force around you; between you, me, the tree, the rock, everywhere, yes. Even between the land and the ship."

Saturday, 3 October 2009

Developing the inner observer

As I go through life one of the most important aspect seems to be the inner observer, an inner objective viewpoint from which you can take a look at what's really going on without the interference of str0ng emotions, judgment and preconceptions.

I'm offering some helpful pointers on using your own objective inner observer:-

  • Let your inner observer watch inner events neutrally - just recording the data
  • Notice the difference between different sensations, thoughts, emotions and actions
  • Let your non judgmental inner observer use neutral non judgmental language as it talks
  • Let your inner observer "rise" above emotions and not get caught up in them
Your internal observer is excellent for getting to the root of problems, noticing how and when you're getting in your own way, and identifying opportunities for change and improvement.

Have you ever reacted so strongly to a situation that you're not really getting an accurate view of what's going on? Maybe you try to do something and fail, or don't do it well, and you immediately start beating up on yourself for not being able to do anything right. Or maybe something happens that pushes your buttons just right, and you react in a way that runs counter to moving you forward along your path (getting angry, running away from it, etc.).

We all do things like that. And if we don't have any way to back up and take a look at what's really happening, odds are good we'll just keep encountering it again and again.

The inner observer is applicable in any situation in your life, whether it's work, relationships, or anything else. With practice, it will start to kick in automatically and help you get an obective picture of events.

I've been working hard at developing my own inner observer over the last few years. It's far from 100% automatic, but I have noticed a real difference when it does kick in. It typically starts with, "Huh. Isn't that interesting. I wonder what's going on here. I wonder what's behind that reaction. Is that really accurate?"

I'm not always able to extricate myself from being up to my eyeballs in whatever it is, but at least it gives me more information to work with once I'm not in the heat of it.

Friday, 2 October 2009

A-Drift at sea.

I see myself a-drift at sea. No land in sight wondering if I will even survive , yes it's just me wondering why I find myself in these hopeless situations. Hoping, praying but an answer never seems to arrive and I realize I'm lost.

It feels like I've been a-drift my whole life trying to find my place in the world, yet no such thing as thing arrives. So I'm drifting from one place to the next in search of these answers. I'm hoping for something yet I'm not at the same time. From where I'm sitting it seems like the answer is to enjoy your personal journey and take whatever comes your way.

The point between life and death

It’s insulting when people die, that they do all this gasping and closing of their eyes. They aren’t realizing that the Beings that are watching them aren’t at all impressed. They close their eyes so that they don’t have to see that they are dead, and so they don’t have to look at the higher value as they pass over. After a while, once they’ve past those points, they reopen their eyes and they realize that they have indeed died. But by then it is too late, because they have closed their eyes past the most important point: This is what the Tibetan Book of the Dead is talking about when it says you have to stay alert; this spot, as you cross over, is a point of eternal awareness.