Reflection About Dharma

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 Reflecting last week and the spiritual wisdom I’ve learned, applied and continue to apply with extra effort.

I’ve spent most of the Saturday in quiet meditation. I’ve observed my thoughts the life and quietly reflected upon what is. Mostly I’ve been happy about the present, somehow I’ve accepted the idea that the present is the best time to be and in fact everything that is in the present is all I need, it’s all I need now and all I need to grow.

Present moment, my surroundings the people I am with tell me where I am doing good and what I need to do if I were to look close enough.

Also I began to ponder upon some thoughts that I had pushed aside during the week and of course these thoughts get back, because that which doesn’t get enough attention will always come back more strongly.

One such thought was about voices in the head. I learned on Wednesday that in fact voices in the head are not that common. Depending on the source maybe about fifth of the population have voices in their heads. Stereotypically this would be quickly associated with mental illnesses and judged, however with closer observation most of the voices are not that harmful.

In fact what surprised me that I haven’t thought of this and I do hear voices. Past ten years I’ve had dialogue and I think this as mostly as a gift. Quick research online on few different websites seems to confirm that this is can be indeed the case as well. It’s funny thing that I haven’t considered this topic before, it was pure coincidence that I learned about it now!

Lesson: What I experience everyday differs from what you experience every day and that same applies to all other people too. There are similarities and perhaps even exact sameness with some odds, although the odds are tiny.

Being what we are to the fullest is our gift to the world and universe. This idea is expressed in Bhagavad Gita as “it is better to strive in one’s own dharma than to succeed in the dharma of another.”

I heard today similar idea contemplating upon the same topic while listening the Eat, Pray, Love  “God dwells inside you, as you.

These lines primed me into quietly reflecting my life and what is my dharma and how to strive to it? As I learned last week about the voices, there are many similar tiny things that make each of us rather unique expression in the universe.

When I am present, I understand the importance of striving towards my own dharma. Sometimes I see the work and yet because it feels too great I get distracted just like as a kid I used to when needed to get the homework done. We all have our personal dharma to strive towards to, and life is the personalized obstacle suitable for each one of us.

Thought to contemplate: what is the skillful response here?

Striving means trying. When we try we do not always succeed, we always can learn and go towards the right direction thought if we so desire. This is positive desire, to learn from failures and setbacks and go towards the right direction: next time I ought to try harder.

Tiny Action

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Action is over- and underappreciated word.

Overappreciated as in action without consideration, thought or end in mind.

Underappreciated as in thought without action. Action remains just a word, instead of verb in action.

There is the middle way: thinking, without thinking too much and doing, without doing too much.

My personal fault lies mostly in thinking too much and doing too little. Thus I see this quality in others as well emphasized. And it might be that I am too blind to my own actions that are mindless, so I cannot even name them yet. With a bit of thinking, I think there is indeed also this mindless action in play.

The more I’ve studied about habits and applied what I’ve learned to my life, I am amazed to discover these tiny pockets of time all around me. More efficient actions (=habits) create more time and space. What used require effort, do not any longer. Thus taking action becomes easier.

With habits also the cost of starting doing something (which I feel is immense). Have you tried to start a work out after a long work day? That’s only difficult if you do not already have the neural circuitry in your mind to fire of and start doing it. When you’ve the network however, it will automatically flare up and you will start the work out when you just find the right triggers for that.

The difference between habit and a separate action decision is huge. Habits have little to none starting cost, they trigger automatically. Decisions to do something have tremendous starting cost and when we are tired and hungry we are less likely going to make any good decisions.

Therefore life consists of making these tiny decisions right through the days, these will ensure sufficient energy when we need it the most.

We need tiny action everyday to start building momentum for the bigger decisions and challenges.

 

Random Thoughts: Humility and Potential Paradox  

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I need to remind myself to stay humble. The work I do is yet fairly insignificant what it could be.

Do you see your potential? Even as a collective human species we barely manage to make a dent in the universe. Space is vast and unknown.

This morning, I was listening a podcast where the theme was The Big Leap Book by Gay Hendricks. There are four levels of achievement: the zone of incompetence, zone of competence, zone of excellence and zone of genius. Where would you put yourself?

I mean that is pretty eye opening, because we often settle for competence or even excellence, where the genius would be where we would thrive. Surrendering to the genius is a wonderful idea, yet our egos are terrified by that very same idea.

Humility and the potential, what a paradox.

Light in Blight

 

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Life is full of uncertainty and unexpected. Some of this makes it joyous and exciting, while at times it can be difficult to deal with.

Most common forms of obstacles are failure or experience of failure. Failure is impermanent and there is always something to be learned.

Success is nice when we reach it and while at it, yet success is as impermanent as is failure. If we forget to stay open and humble we will inevitably fail. Thus the success contains a seed of destruction within.

Failure either as it is or after a great success can get us to a dark place. Yet in the darkest days, the rays of hope can be seen most acutely: there is always hope as long as we are alive.

In fact most of the life is like that: we are facing something, then we fail and it is literally what we do after the failure that defines and makes us. It’s how we respond to the failure. If we choose to learn, stay humble and keep building ourselves up, we will succeed – there is no question about it.

Most importantly we shouldn’t be doing anything for success or not, we should do it for the greater good, for the opportunity to do what is true, right and beautiful. We should do the right thing because that is in our potential, that is the virtuous action in practice. That is our best godlike nature in action.

A Bit More

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What if everyone tried a bit more, what would follow? Just a bit more at the most important task, how much further would it take you?

A bit times thousand is a lot of effort and trying.

A bit more is not possible in everything, but try not to think it that why. Just try a bit more at something.

Complaining does not help to solve problems or further the cause. How about you instead try to be a bit more accepting instead of complaining?

What would you like to be bit more? Start doing today.

Now is the Time to Be What You Can Be

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In short I’ve fallen for stoicism. During the January I’ve re-read two books on stoicism: Meditations by Marcus Aurelius and Obstacle is the way by Ryan Holiday. Also currently I am reading Ego is the Enemy and I will read the Daily Stoic.

Stoicism is a practical and applied philosophy of a virtuous life. If you cannot practice the thought or virtue, it’s not stoicism. Being a stoic means having inner dialogue, finding what you are in control of and then living the best life you can from there with no complaints about the circumstances or about results. Stoicism is about action, not about attaching to the rewards.

Living the best you can in the present, because stoic recognizes life is only in the present. Nobody can change the past, however with the action in the present we create future. Nor does stoic gets attached to the future – everything goes to the plan because we are creating the plan every moment as we go. Stoic cannot be thus harmed by ill will, because stoic turns any obstacle into opportunity or dies trying.

Literally stoic recognizes the shortness of life: memento mori – remember you are mortal.

It’s only now time to be what you can be. It’s now when you should start not only being, but start the doing. Be the doing you can be!

I decided to modify the words of Gandhi: Do the change you want to see in the world. Doing is being, do not just talk, start doing something about what you want! In the end we never cannot be still to long, we are never complete, perfection is just a day dream. Excellence is what we should pursue. Excellence means the best we are capable of with the given time and resources. We do not need to commit overly too much resources, that would be foolish, yet we need just enough to create excellence, the best possible solution.

Excellence requires letting go and yet finding ways to fulfill the need completely. Excellence is the practice of virtues. Every day we become what we can be if we practice excellence. The time to practice excellence is now!

Why Easier Life?

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”This or that would make my life easier and that would be nice…”

This kind of comments are not so rare. Yet I do not understand why people wish easier life. Life already tends to make itself easier, people are working at it every day. Human beings are lazy by nature, so our environment gets “easier” for sure.

Question is, should we desire easier life?

As Bruce Lee put it, we shouldn’t wish for an easy life, but the strength to live a difficult one.

Instead of wishing to play on easy mode, be grateful of what you have and then ask what it is you can develop today to get better at it.

Virtue is the Purpose of Life

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Doing good, doing the right thing in whatever position you are in life is the purpose of life according to the Stoics. Take responsibility of your soul, of what you can do, because that’s all you can do.

Do not judge, writes Marcus Aurelius.

Do not judge, always seek to praise were Abraham Lincolns words according to Dale Carnegie in How to Win Friends and Influence People.

Virtue is doing the right thing when we have the freedom to choose otherwise. Marcus Aurelius is fascinating example of this, because he was the emperor of the known world, ruler with absolute power. Yet he was living in virtue.

Trying to put this to the scope of personal life: should I discard all my desires I ask myself again? Then I remember the difference between a desire, lust and a positive desire.

What causes us to be virtuous? What causes positive desires?

Sigmund Freud suggests that it may be sublimation. Something negative we have done earlier in life may cause to turn into something major positive later in life.

Reflecting on my own past, I certainly feel that the reason I contemplate so much on the virtues, what is right and best for everyone is because I feel that when I was younger I wasn’t very good example. Due to that earlier experience I certainly want to go to the opposite direction as fast as I can, which is a very positive.

We want to progress and above all we want to be something more than we were before. As stoics put it, at least we should try to be better than animals. And the way to do that is through civilizing ourselves and taking responsibility of our souls. By putting our values to work and working from where we are now.

 

Further info

Meditations by Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius on Wikipedia

Marcus Aurelius Lecture on Stoicism

Freud on: Sublimation

How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

Relax Under Pressure

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First stop and take a deep breath.

There are few important things in life and most of those are present in the moment. Therefore stop being so serious about everything. Sure you are important and whatever is it important, however if you are honest to yourself, is it really that important?

When we are under pressure, it means we have to deal with that pressure. If we choose to tackle it, our bodies and minds gets to a stressed state in order to deal with it. In other words stress helps our bodies and minds to prepare and deal with it. Stress in these cases is beneficial.

We are oscillating between stress and relaxation. Too much of either for prolonged time is no good. We should consciously also be mindful in which state we are and do we need to increase or decrease the stress for example.

We do not need to be stressed when we are about to rest.

We need psyche a bit up before giving a talk or meeting a client.

If we all would be zen masters, we could do this consciously at a right time. Since we are not, we have to learn ourselves to control our minds through our breathing or meditation for example.

Everything begin with breathing, so breathing is one of the most effective ways to tell our lizard brains should we increase or decrease the stress levels.

Learn to relax under pressure, and you won’t have another bleak day, because you know what is important and what’s not. Above all you are just in the state of mind where you want to be.

Capacity Matters

 

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Today I was reflecting that I am happier when I’ve meaningful work to do, than when I do not. I do not mind the work to get it done.

People make the work meaningful, all the people involved, especially those who I work for the most of the time.

What I like about working, is that it builds the capacity to work more. During last summer I noticed, that both my mental and physical stamina are at surprisingly good levels. Then I started to ponder how this came to be, and mostly I came to the conclusion that it has to be not only the physical exercise and small things I do each, but the mental exercise as well.

Work builds capacity. And above all it’s the capacity that matters.

If I were suddenly taken into less challenging work, it would start deteriorating and in few months I would already be in position where I cannot the old.

I think capacity matters, especially if you ambition matter. And I do think that we all have or should have a purpose that for which challenging ourselves matter and therefore our capacity matters. We shouldn’t settle for just anything, we shouldn’t lower our standards, but to keep challenging our capacity.