Growth and Truth

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Real growth comes from accepting reality or ‘the truth’.

Yet as powerful adults, we do not necessarily always like the truth. Our capacity to understand and manage it is limited. That’s why human societies have all kinds of quirks to like fools in courts or business consultants in businesses to tell leaders what they need to hear in comical or other narrative fashion, so that they might hear what they need to hear.

While the truth may be our shield, yet truth can also hurt and be dangerous to hurl around. It needs to be wrapped in a nice manner and presented carefully.

To put it shortly: living according to the truth isn’t the simplest or easiest way. In fact it is the middle way, creating the way like Buddha or Gandhi did.

Do what is true and right, and you will be remembered if not by the current generation, then by the generations to come.

Poem: The Change Makers

 

Ignorant we all are, I must admit.

Yet there are those who to this do not submit.

These people are the shapers,

The change makers.

 

Those who are courageous enough to seek truth.

And stand to face the oppressive Brood,

Who do not care where the truth stood,

Or what was for everyone’s good!

 

People like Mandela and Gandhi,

Have become such examples, how handy!

Equipped with truth, love, and courage,

Have built their wisdom and virtue while pulling the carriage.

 

Suffering of the wheel,

Is imaginable and real.

They made no squeal,

Because it was in their interest to heal.

 

With grace they endured,

To the inner work they spurred.

Through work they developed,

And a new kind of thinking enveloped.

 

Wrong they faced,

Pain not only grazed.

They got to taste the pain of living,

And transformed it in their minds into a giving.

 

Yet people were astray.

Not caring what they had to say.

Thus they were sent away.

Only to return; and light the way!

 

They learned to care first,

To quench another one’s thirst.

People do not care how much you know, until they know how much you care, said Teddy.

 

World is not so steady,

You better get ready,

Your ignorance is unstable,

To care you are able!

Accurate Sense of the Reality is Requirement for Conscious Growth

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What do we think is possible in life, dictates the direction of effort we are willing to put there. This is in a sense fine, as we progress a bit by bit with the expectations, our world is rather predictable. Yet especially for lets’ say people under 40 years, do not have accurate world view at all unless they’ve been training their mind to it rigorously. Most people are just average in this aspect (that’s what average means, the average of most people).

The better sense of the world we manage absorb allows us that actually start getting somewhere. Without the sense of reality, we do not even know where we are.

Therefore the habit of seeking the truth in the world is really a prerequisite for any conscious growth effort. When I first grasped a glimpse of this idea, I labelled that most of my assumptions, thoughts and knowledge about the world and of other people were not tested. What the not tested means, I was just operating on them, without really questioning my thoughts.

Results in my life were at that time (2007) really poor so I decided to try something else. First well, since my beliefs didn’t work I started to research for more interesting beliefs and try those. With most of my thoughts, assumptions and knowledge, I would test them. I.e. I was socially anxious so almost any social interaction was a good place to actually see if what I feared would happen. It turned out my fears were exaggerated one or two hundred fold.

After some experiences I made a tool out of my fears and pessimistic thinking that brought those worst-case scenarios so easily alive: writing down the worst case and asking is this really the worst that can happen. Next I would devise a plan how to work and handle this worst case if it indeed does happen. With this proactivity in mind, I gained the peace of mind as well as really valuable confidence as I knew what I would do if the worst case would in fact realize itself.

World isn’t what we think. We simply know too little to make so accurate world view, we rely upon too many generalizations and shortcuts. In time it’s possible to train the mind at least to the process of seeking the truth, although understanding the truth takes much more time and effort.

We Start with False Realities

 

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Our minds are incredibly good in coming up with all kinds of bullshit and stories. For some they maybe more right than others…

Personally they’ve not done much good. I realized when I started what I first called project reality: to test my guesses about reality, right away I would’ve be proven wrong time after time. It turns out I wasn’t so right after all.

Thereafter I chose to test my sense of reality more often.

We start with these false realities and during our lifetimes, we may either work to get more accurate sense of the reality… Or not.

Yesterday when I started to meditate, I noticed a lot of thoughts. Then I started out of whim to recognize these thoughts and the core feeling they tried to convey. After doing it a while, I noticed that many of what I were feeling, were rather “negative.”

After I had been done with the meditation, I still continued the practice through the evening and even today. Recognizing thoughts, acknowledging emotions create the insight: where I am now, what I am feeling now. I am not my thoughts, emotions or feelings, but this is what I am experiencing.

Everything good starts to happen, once we have this insight about ourselves, and have the courage to talk about them. Then the world allies to help.

Acceptance is Gateway

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This is the reality. Life with all the colors, suffering, coldness, warmth, creatures, people… This is the present, nobody knows about the future, yet we may learn about the past. The present is now, and the future flows to the present.

To be able to be, we must accept what is. With the acceptance we can take action that is based on truth or the reality. We are no longer taking action based on wishful thinking, but hard cold truths.

THE ONLY WAY TO GET ANYWHERE IS TO KNOW WHERE YOU ARE ON THE MAP.

First step therefore is acceptance.

Admitting to oneself the reality and accepting that reality is still some of the hardest and most humbling experiences. We are fragile by our hearts, therefore our egos invent all kinds of stories to protect ourselves from our own weakness.

Accepting ourselves first and foremost is the gateway to whatever is the true feeling we desire.

Often we end up confusing the important things: we come up with excuses not to do something because of X, even though we could just do it.

Accept whatever is and make the determination to live fully despite of all the faults.

As the Ajahn Brahm tends to say “the crooked trees are the most beautiful ones.”

Easy Beliefs or Hard Truths

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Benefit of beliefs, is that we are able to operate in the complex world without thinking about the reality itself too much.

Disadvantage of the beliefs is, when they become obsolete, we cannot easily start explaining the world without first building a sense of reality and building sense of reality does take a long time and never is incomplete.

Objective observation of the world is demanding at first, so we would not be naturally inclined to do it if it wasn’t for our long term advantage. The progress begins by our ability to acknowledge what is, not by the energy packed action under illusionary beliefs.

Truth can seem a slow, complex and therefore a troublesome thing. Truth isn’t glamorous or sexy, therefore it is probably so unpopular. We often prefer lies over the truths.

Truths can hurt too and many times it may not be preferred.

Yet truth is the only way to get anywhere reliably. Even though it takes a lot of conscious effort and energy to develop more accurate sense of reality, it is worth it. Truth becomes automatic pattern a habit, so we become attuned to the truth like fish are to the water. There are several ways to pursue the path: science or academics, philosophy or vipassana for example.

Creating Beliefs That Serve Us Better

Our behavior is based on our beliefs. And because beliefs can be either right wrong or anything in between, oh boy it is difficult to live life right with one go.

Thankfully we do not have to be right at the first time. More importantly if we are aware of our shortcomings and remain open to dialogue, we just might find the way.

Basic representation of beliefs and truth looks like this:

 

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However, as I mentioned it’s quite not straightforward. How to know which ones are right? Well usually the surrounding culture & community helps out here: we pick beliefs that are shared by others as well. Well at least until we learn to question them.

One stepping stone to the adulthood is questioning and choosing our own values and beliefs. Some of them may be the same ones as surrounding society, however we must be ready to acid test all of them. And learning to acid test the beliefs is indeed a skill that can serve us very well.

This picture I borrow from Edron Academy, theory of knowledge blog:

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There are just all kinds of beliefs out there. Beliefs for the sake of beliefs. Some beliefs, although in the end that might be false, may serve us very well. Such is the power of optimism or other positive illusions as they keep us going, trying and doing, despite that the odds might not be in our favor.

We are the creators of our beliefs, therefore we should pick the strong sides of all beliefs the keen sense of realism, the optimism of trying and doing, open mind so that we can continue learning and unlearning.

 

Developing Personal Wisdom

Life is full of contradictions; hardly any advice stays fresh for very long.

Therefore, although there are people who momentarily might understand the context of our particular life well enough to give solid advice, it is our responsibility to act upon it and make the final decisions. No matter how skilled and experienced consultant, coach or a monk there is, that is the beauty of freedom. We can choose anything from the internal experience to external suffering.

Real wisdom is applicable; it’s time-bound and context dependent.  I’ve therefore come to the conclusion that since we alone are knowledgeable enough of our own context, we should take the responsibility of educating ourselves to meet the demands of each new present moment.

Dictionary.com defines education as the act or process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.

We mature with time, so education should be a lifelong process. The premise upon which the acquisition of knowledge lies on, is of course that we have a good sense of the surrounding world, and even truth if you will. Here is where it gets interesting: we do not as a rough generalizations.

Mostly our minds play tricks to our sense of reality all the time, it requires daily practice to see past these illusions as well. There are some schools of thought which do practice this kind of art of clear sight and I am familiar with the Buddhist Vipassana meditation or Insight meditation as it is sometimes called. The goal Vipassana is to see things as they are. There should be other forms of training also available to see the truth, however from the all that I’ve learned about, Vipassana seems to be in its’ purest forms passed on by tradition from 2500 years ago [1].

Path to wisdom requires both ups and downs, we need the experience and only learning does not change our results necessarily for the better: we need to learn what is truly applicable in what kind of situations and we also need to unlearn habits that do not serve us and others in the best ways in specific contexts.

Life is kind of mix and blend of everything. We must learn and experience many things, just to be able to use our wisdom in a few carefully chosen moments.

[1] Vipassana Meditation. Available at: https://www.dhamma.org/en-US/index. Retrieved 6th December 2016.

Let’s Change for All Life on Earth

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Let’s have courage to face the truth: our climate is changing due to our activities on this planet. The change is happening faster than we have anticipated.

Watch the Before the Flood movie on Youtube, where Leonardo DiCaprio as he explores the topic of climate change, and discovers what must be done today to prevent catastrophic disruption of life on our planet.

It’s clear that we need change. We can have small change right away, by small choices in all our lives. I encourage we to do these changes in our energy usage habits, diet, transportation and investing. However, I think we all also need to have some truth power as well.

Elon Musk says it very well in the movie: oil companies and such are the most powerful industry in the world, measured by money that is. They are doing everything they to deny reality and the truth.

However, it does not matter. They are still just one industry and anyone who wields the truth does not have anything to worry.

“Let the first act of every morning be to make the following resolve for the day:

– I shall not fear anyone on Earth.

– I shall fear only God.

– I shall not bear ill will toward anyone.

– I shall not submit to injustice from anyone.

– I shall conquer untruth by truth. And in resisting untruth, I shall put up with all suffering.”

― Mahatma Gandhi

Often it is talked about what we can do for the climate change, separate our trash, use the public transportation. That’s an understatement; we can do much more than that! We can give our effort, work and find the solutions.

We need cannot continue on this path. We need to stop the destructive ways and figure out new ways how to generate the energy for our needs. Let’s not let the pollution continue any longer. Let’s not allow the opinions that allow the pollution to continue to dominate the discussion any longer. It’s the near future of our planet at stake, we all together can do so much better than this: let’s have a clean earth.

Personally we can all do things like type “what I can do to stop climate change” to Google and find out right away more action points.  Furthermore we should identify the biggest polluters in our lives, it is probably the energy or the warming, what other options there are, what kind of investments it would require? Is there anything else that could be done.

We all need to start doing these changes. Instead of saying it cannot be done, let’s ask how it can be done?

Break Your Imagined Limitations and Fly

 

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We have physical limitations such as our physique, time and our health.

Then we have mental limitations such as lack of imagination and beliefs.

Physical limitations are hard to overcome, and that’s exactly the daring thing that the science, technology and medicine are attempting to do.

Then we have these mental limitations over which we have influence and control over, because in fact they are just constructs in our heads. Still changing these thoughts we believe to be true does not happen overnight. We need to learn to open our mind and question our beliefs, then we can begin to chip away these limiting beliefs and have more correct sense of the truth.

Once we learn to entertain possibilities, we can begin imagine better or even more wilder future. Instead of judging this, we should ask how this is possible?

 “The man who has no imagination has no wings.” –Muhammad Ali

How can we fly? Well with wings, or broomstick for example? I would prefer jet-pack which is in fact already very viable transportation option.