Thursday, November 18, 2010

Taking out the time to think

Hi guys. It's been awhile. Sorta stopped just at about the period I joined a few friends for a 40 day fast. Even not taken religiously, fasting often helps the mind sharpen and quieten if done properly.

We last left on the note of contemplation as a way to improve the world.

Contemplation can be very tricky though. It is easy to get stuck with a lot of thoughts and worries that eat up your mind. It is easy to get stuck with a lot of despair and self depreciation. So the question comes to what kind of contemplation is good contemplation?

Having given this some thought, and having found many answers through various sources over my own 40 days, I probably have answers of my own. But having spoken to many friends and some family, not everyone (few actually), agree with my answers or techniques. While I was sore initially that many did not want my answers, I have realised, of course they don't want my answers. They need answers of their own.

So instead of telling everyone methodology and concepts that I have come across (although I think I would love to blog about a couple of them at some point), I tried to think about see what kind of contemplation would result in people discovering their own answers.

And I believe that the first step is to not be afraid! As we dig into what lies deep inside us, we come across many many things that are scary. Sorrow, greed, insecurity, pain, fear, strict laws and concepts, desires, the loss or the protection of identity are often such large objects we feel that confronting them fully would devour us. We spend most of our time trying to move away from these things or trying to grip them as much as possible.

I guess the challenge then is to come face to face with it and only at that point do answers come. So are you running away from something? Are you holding on to something as if your life depended on it? Or how about thinking about where along the spectrum of that you are with any event in life?

I believe only when we come face to face with these issues, when we contemplate them properly would answers start to appear.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Contemplation is but the start

Yes, contemplate. But contemplation is not the be all end all. After collecting my thoughts over the last week, I think there are some ways I believe contemplation should be focused towards.

In fact, contemplation can be dangerous when done wrongly. Mostly because many of us do not focus our thoughts. It is easy to get snared by bad thoughts. It is easy to feel bad about oneself and thus never make that step to amount to anything. It is easy to see the bad side of things. We can all place blame, point out faults and give up upon everything.

What is more important about contemplation is how to draw strength from it.

Watching what some effective people do in life is ask a very important question : Is it useful? Do I like it? This is a very important tool. We need to do away with the bad parts, give them no attention and no credit. We need to focus more on the good parts! Give them a lot of attentin and a lot of credit. We need to realise the things that we really need and things that we can do without. What are our strengths, what are our crutches? And as I read in The 4-hour Work Week - Don't bother fixing all the chinks in the armour, just run with your strength and go with it.

Contemplation is also important for this thought: What do I want this to look like? Another important thing at all levels - from individuals, to society to the globe. How do we want our future to look like? If we can see it, we can get there. If we have a goal we can go for it. It's a common psychology if you are trying to lose weight - stop thinking about how fat you are, start thinking about how thin you are going to be. Then break it into manageable steps. Yes there is poverty and you want to do something about it. See where we are, see where we want to be and become part of that movement. Yes it is possible. We can eradicate it bit by bit. There is absolutely no physical law stopping us from doing so. Don't listen to the people who tell you we can't make it, because they're wrong. (:D and I rarely get more outrageous than that - but it's true!)

Actually I watched a TED tv video on featuring our simliarities and disimilarities to apes by an active environmentalist. She was the founder of the grassroots organisation called Shoots. As she explained her travels around the world and the terrible vision and plight of many environments, she also impressed upon everyone how bleak we all feel it is (especially the current Gen X beginning to take the reigns of control) However, with Shoots, as people began their small movements everywhere across, how hope is slowly returning. As people clean the rivers in their towns, and protect the wildlife near their place, there is hope that we as a humanity will be able to manage this large scale.

I think this goes for everyone and all situations. Yes you want something that appears out of reach. But everyone who has reached out for something unreachable and gotten it, has always first had the idea that they could do it. And that's what we need contemplation for. To see it, to feel it and to set out in faith we can get there.

So yes contemplation is the way! But use it wisely. The mind is like a muscle, it needs to be worked and trained. And since our entire reality is fed through to us in our mind, how important is it for us to strengthen it? "The eyes are the windows of the soul, but if the eyes are dark, how great is that darkness? But if the eyes are full of light! How great is that light?!" And you know what? Not to take the analogy to far, but it is us who choose whether to open the curtains are not. No situation holds any intrinsic value save for the perceptions and judgements we choose to ascribe it.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Contemplation is the way!

At first, I wanted to blog about our need for control following my blog on money. Money is but one of the big things feeding into our need for control/power. Power is the essence that we all crave for. It provides everything at once.


I came across a question that I thought worth more than my ramblings on power. During the Wednesday night discussions, a friend asked, "Is contemplation the way that our world will be saved?" My answer to that is ABSOLUTELY.

All of us, should be thinking about our lives. When was the last time we stood back and asked the question - Am I happy? Am I bored? Am I thankful for what I have? Am I doing the right thing? Am I believing in the right thing? Am I living the life I dreamed of? The most common people don't make timetables is because they claim to be too busy!... Isn't it ironic? Does that spill over to other things as well? I can't think about being happy because I'm too busy being unhappy...

Then once recognising our situation - we should be asking how to solve the problems! How to lose weight, how to be happy, how to enjoy life, how to make our time worthwhile, where is the happiness in our lives coming from? So many questions for us to ask, raising even more questions and the answers taking their time to come.

I do not believe anyone is truly evil. I do not think we go out of our way to hurt ourselves or others naturally. However, growing up, our experiences and the condition of our society can breed pathological natures. It is only by thinking and forming our thoughts and natures within, gaining control over our emotions (amplifying the good ones, diminshing the nasty ones) and control over our thoughts can we grow, mature and change humanity on every level (personal, communal and global). It doesn't matter what level of intellect, income or influence you possess - contemplation is available and accessible to all of us.

The very name of this blog - the listening point is about that. It is a point that we can be quiet and listen to the world around us. To think about what it is trying to tell us and the questions we are asking of it. So, I urge everyone who chances across these words to practice them and to tell those around us to do so. To quest for those questions and those answers that are for more important than our constant scurrying around being unhappy, unfulfilled and unglorious.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

The concept of money

How much is enough? At what point does a person say they have enough money?

More and more, those living in developed nations are beginning to realise that money and the consumer lifestyle just isn’t doing it for them anymore. A kind of despair has taken over the faithful of the pursuit of wealth. Simply put, the pursuit of wealth doesn’t make them a lot happier.

As we watch the businessmen die from stress, stroke, heart disease and we wonder how they sleep at night with their consciences, followed by the celebrities dying from drug abuse, alcohol intake, psychosis as the hip hop artists ironically sing of the tragedy in their hoods – some of us begin to wonder if being ultra-rich is all it’s cut out to be.

We need to get money right. We need to know it’s place and put it there. Probably this arena needs a lot more thought and cleaning up, but here’s where I got to so far.

Money speaks to us on two levels; needs and wants.

The first one is our necessities. We need a certain amount of money to ensure that we are living healthily. This is an important aspect and much of the world is still trying to reach this level. However, many people have reached this level and are still striving for money. This is action is bred due to an insecurity concerning money brought over from the time where we had to strive to achieve that actual level of survival. This constant fear that we will lose that money and return to instability can be very hurtful to a person (just as any constant anxiety or fear can be).

Just like saving money is a good practice to teach our kids, we should also teach our kids not to fear it. Cultivating an understanding of what is enough will increase our efficiency of earning vs living. The second system that needs to be in place is in our policies and government, where if we can reduce the cost and ensure the availability of needs for everyone – the limit for essential wealth is reduced.

The second level is that of our wants. Sometimes, instead of being driven by a fear of lack of money, we can instead be driven by an overload of money. Like many things, too much or too little of a medium can be unhealthy. Many people believe that money can buy them everything. While it can buy them luxuries, it is rare that luxuries bring happiness. The centres of happiness and fulfilment are lit by (as neuroscientists are beginning to discover)from many other activities such as deserved treats (chocolate :D), adorable things, connecting with others (conversation, shared activities, similar values, similar plights and goals, sex (the kind that betters a relationship)), a sense of belonging, a sense of achievements, a sense of helping, a sense of appreciation and a sense of learning and growth. Many of these do not require too much money at all. As portrayed on the graph in the lecture by Nic Marks, some of the happiest places are not the richest. And the richest places stagnate at a certain point of happiness, regardless of wealth.

Money is one of those things we really need to get a grasp of. I suggest that all governments and people should strive to figure out a healthy idea of money and teach it to our children and introduce that concept in our lives that we no longer live in fear and in addiction to its potency.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Just about everything I would like to say - courtesy of TED tv

I am so relieved to see a video like this. It makes me hopeful that we as a humanity have indeed reached a stage where globally we can talk about changing our mindsets. I really don't have anything to add on the matter. I hope all of you will take the time to watch and digest this talk. I reckon this should be sent to every single politician and businessman on this earth.