Weeding Your Garden

February 3, 2007

In an attempt to usher the traffic over to my new site, AndrewBrunelle.com, I will give you a link to this blog entry on that website:  Weeding Your Garden.

Hope you enjoy!


Equanimity

January 29, 2007

I recently came upon a term called equanimity, which means your mind is not swayed by external events and you do not let situations dictate the state of your mind.  It’s a state of calming balance, and inner peace.  The whole concept is that everything is impermanent, feeling good, feeling bad, feeling pleasure/pain, getting praise/blame, and success vs. failure.  That all are essential in human life, and none of them are permanent.  It is this realization that can put you on the path towards equanimity.  I believe this is a very strong goal to strive for, having myself remain calm even under stressful circumstances or when something does not go my way.

It is not a state of indifference, but a state of intense realization.  You do not have any stock in your current circumstances because you know they can change at any moment, and you are content with that.  You accept everything the way it is and don’t get caught by pressures put on you by society.  You don’t have to react.  You just don’t.

There are ten perfections in Buddhism, the first nine leading up to the coveted tenth, equanimity.  Here are them and a brief description of each:

  1. Generosity:  Develop your capacity for generosity.  Make it so your disposition or nature is to be generous.
  2. Integrity:  Develop your integrity, do not seek to harm any other living being.  Make it so the ethical foundation of your life is stable, solid, and unruffled.
  3. Letting Go:  Develop the capacity to let go, for example, to let go of a grudge, because when you let go of the things that trouble you, you can do deeper thinking.  A simpler mind can do deeper work.
  4. Wisdom:  Develop a capacity for wisdom.  Become a wise man, not a wise guy.  Be discerning, whatever that means.  I’ll have to look it up.
  5. Energy:  Develop a capacity for overcoming laziness, procrastination, and interia, be able to put in the effort.
  6. Patience:  Develop a capacity for patience.  If you are now putting in effort, it is possible to get frustrated, so this perfection is based on not getting frustrated when things don’t always work the way they should. 
  7. Truth:  Develop a capacity to be truthful and know what is true to you.  Be in harmony with what you feel is true.
  8. Resolve:  Resolve to do things and have the capacity to get behind it, no matter what external forces tell you.
  9. Love and Kindness:  Develop a capacity for love and kindness and be kind and loving towards everything and everyone you come into contact with.
  10. Equanimity:  The final step.  Develop a capacity of equanimity.  This is the culmination of the other nine steps.  All of these steps are part of your character building and this is the final step.  This is the pinnacle.  You are not ruffled by external events, as I explained above.

So, that’s the basic outline of equanimity.  I think it is a rather good goal.  I am striving towards it every day and it couldn’t hurt to do so.  All of these qualities are qualities I would love to see in myself, so there is no conflict in me doing this.  I listened to a talk about this, referred from a poster on Steve Pavlina’s site.  I really enjoyed the talk, and if I can find the link, I’ll get it to you.  Happy trails!

Edit:  I found this talk on equanimity very helpful.  Here it is, if the link does not work, I can refer you to this site.  It’s the Steve Pavlina discussion board, where the member Mike-2 brings this talk up.  I sure hope you enjoy it.  Thank you.


Happy Strap Day

December 18, 2006

This is a post in response to what I have been hearing all the time lately, everywhere I go, and it’s becoming sickening to say the least.  “Have a Merry Christmas.”  At my job, all they play is Christmas music all the time, every minute of every day.  If I was Jewish or Muslim or Zoroastrian, I would be ready to explode.  I am not a Christian, nor do I affiliate myself with their holidays, although my family still does, even though they’ve left Christianity behind as well.  I will make it a mission to tell everyone who wishes me a merry Christmas that I am not a Christian, and that I am insulted by your assumption that just because I am white, nice, and polite that I must be a Christian because that’s the only religion that breeds productive members of society.  These are their words not mine.

 Some people say Happy Holidays.  Happy holidays is fine, if your particular belief system celebrates a holiday at this time of year, but why do we have to wish these things on people who don’t necessarily follow these “holidays?”  We’re a country who is supposed to have separation of church and state, but every Christmas day, all the businesses are closed and there is no real tolerance for non-conformity.  It is a given that everyone celebrates Christmas and it is a day where nobody goes anywhere, except to maybe a family member’s house.  Even the schools have “Christmas vacation,” which is paradoxical in itself to the people who don’t celebrate it.  What about when their particular holiday comes around and they’re stuck going to work or school?  They don’t get a day off at all.  It’s not fair that we make special preferences for certain religions when it comes to holidays and vacations.

Here’s what I’m proposing.  I want to create my own holiday, one that occurs maybe sometime in January, a three-day event called Strap Day.  I’ll give you a history of Strap Day to further indulge your curiosity.  Strap Day started when I was in twelfth grade when my friend and I were doing a word jumble of the eleven-letter word “insatiable.”  For some reason, I must have copied it down wrong or something, and while attempting to unscramble the letters to form the word I was looking for, ended up coming up with “strap day.”  Strap Day has become one of my favorite personal holidays.  Here is how it basically works:

  1. Every year, in mid-January, we buy an onslaught of straps, which we worship in a non-religious way for six hours, while facing Woonsocket, RI, where Strap Day came into origination.
  2. We hang the straps on a collection of hooks and admire them while sharing stories of how Strap Day came into origination.  It is considered unethical to have the straps hung up before Strap day, but it is a priority to have them hung up the earliest possible time on the first day of Strap Day.
  3. It was originally thought that this would be followed by the death of the first-born son, but this is not an action that can be completed every year, so we dumped it completely.
  4. Each person grabs their respective strap and goes over to the person of their choice and starts beating that person with the strap lightly for no more than seven minutes.  This is done starting with the youngest of the family, progressing to the older family members.
  5. Now, Strap Day is not for the feint of heart.  We use the straps and then we burn them, so that the next year, in anticipation for strap day, we can design and decorate a new strap for each of us.  Sometimes we even exchange straps, in the bizarre hope that we do not get beaten with that particular strap.  It’s more of a peace offering, if you would.

So, that’s Strap Day in a nutshell.  I know it may sound bizarre, but to me, Christmas and Haunakah and Kwanzaa all sound weird.  So, when January 11-13 comes around, what will you be celebrating?  I am going to start wishing people a Happy Strap Day, complete strangers even, just to gauge their reaction and to explain to them the facets of Strap Day.

The rules of Strap Day are not written in stone.  I encourage every family to put their own spin on their Strap Day tradition.  You can add or subtract any components you do not agree with, as I am open to new ideas as well, so if you have any, be sure to respond.  Since it is only three years or so old, Strap day is something that is a work in progress.  I have not yet gotten it to perfection, but it doesn’t really matter.  I believe I should request those days off from work.  I just hope one of those days isn’t a real holiday, as it may offend people who celebrate MLK day or something, but I believe it’s on the 15th or something, right?  So it’s more of a precursor to the civil rights day, and I think that’s appropriate, as Dr. King preached acceptance of everyone, no matter their color or beliefs. 

So join with me in a celebration of freedom of holidays.  Don’t subscribe to Christmas and Haunakah, but come on over to the dark side, not dark because of evil, but because of lack of light, and enjoy the wonders that can be bestowed upon you and the pride you’ll have after you’ve completed your first strap, worshipped it, placed in on a hook, and then beaten a family member (lightly) with it.  And if you celebrate Christmas, you might as well use the same hooks or tacks you used to hang up the stockings to hang up the straps.  Time for me to start making my strap.  I believe this year, I’ll make it out of mock leather or possibly cow hide, although I do not feel an animal should have to die for me to make a valid strap.  I’ll update on this and I will give another post during Strap Day to give you a firsthand insight into the experience.  Last but not least I know I spelled Hanukah wrong or however it’s spelled, but don’t be offended.  It wasn’t my intention.


Waking Up

November 30, 2006

Being “awake” is a key to becoming a better person.  By awake, meaning that you understand.  And by understand, I mean that you get the big picture, that you know the nature of our existence.  And by knowing the nature of existance, you know that “life is nothing but a dream, so peaceful and serene,” albeit a very persistent one.  But even if you do reach this conclusion, it kind of stagnates there, leaving me wondering, “So what?  If this is a dream, then what’s the point of existing?”

This supposed dream we all experience, or I experience subjectively, is quite a persistent dream, although I did witness something today that threw myself for a loop.  I saw someone disappear today, which I previously thought was impossible, then thought was possible, and now I know it is definitely possible.  It’s the “prestige…”  Just kidding.  But this is seriously something I wonder about.  If this is a dream, then anything we want to happen, will to happen, can and will happen, but the problem is that if this is a dream, then it’s all utterly meaningless anyway.  If I get millions of dollars, sure I can live a lavish life of richness and wealth and everything I could dream of, but what would that mean if this is just a dream?  I’ve dreamt I was rich before and when I woke up, it didn’t play a significant part in my waking reality, so I’m not sure if the being that’s dreaming this life, this world, this universe, will see our lives in his dream as terribly significant.  I know the higher being is consciousness, and I have been experiencing tapping into it and it’s a very calming sort of presence that I rather enjoy, a state of inner peace.

It’s almost as if all my troubles melt away when I connect with this higher version of myself, of my world.  It’s like something out of a movie, an amazing wave of peace and unconditional love for everything because, as we all know, everything is consciousness, so everything is ineed ourselves.  Everything is a projection of our thoughts/consciousness.  So if we can immerse ourselves in this higher place, this higher being, we can find peace, no matter what the circumstance, which is something I’m doing more and more lately.  I know that even after I die, everything will be fine because my spirit will reconnect with this consciousness and it will all be revealed to me, away from this reality cloak. 

So the only thing I can do is experiment with different things.  Maybe I would like to levitate or become invisible, maybe manifest a million dollars and live my life out in the mansion of my dreams.  It’s all up to me.  And it will be with grace, ease, lightness, and of course peace.  I understand that this is only a dream, so I’m going to try and make it the most serene and wonderful dream possible.  Why not strive to do this?  It’s something I can definitely strive for.  And I’m showing universal repsect for anyone and everyone I encounter in my life as I know they are part of my dream, consciousness’s dream, that I have to relate to in everyday life.  I know that everyone I come in contact with represents a part of myself, so in order to fully embrace the world as it is, I have to accept this fact.  I’m on my journey through life, with wonder in my eyes, and limitless possibilities, ready for anything, and knowing that nothing can stop me.


I Don’t Get It

November 26, 2006

I don’t know what it is, but I just don’t get it.  I feel as if I reside outside myself.  Ever since I had a brain tumor and the subsequent surgeries, it’s been a very surreal experience for me.  It’s very strange, and it’s very hard to explain completely, but here it goes:

It’s almost as if I am living in a dream-like state, kind of like I’m observing myself independent of my body, but also through my own eyes.  I can’t really place words on it, but to place this sort of feeling would be hard to do completely.  It’s not that I don’t enjoy it, it’s the fact that I don’t understand it completely and it’s got me thinking about what reality really is.  Is it just a dream?  Because when I have dreams, they seem so real.  The places, the detail, it’s so vivid, just like real life.  So maybe life is just a very persistent dream.  Because that’s how I feel in life, just like when I’m dreaming.  It feels the same now.  I even have trouble distinguishing from the two.  Some things I’ve done in my dream I think I’ve done in reality and vice-versa.  I feel I’m moving closer to the truth, though.  Finding out that there is something above me, my physcial body that is, and it’s also a part of me.  It’s something that kind of works with me to create the world as I see it.  But I don’t know why.  I’m working towards finding out, but it’s so damn confusing.  There isn’t much direction and the more I think about it, the more confused I become.  There has to be some meaning in this existance, but what is the meaning?

Finding something like this out will take me awhile.  It will be something i enjoy though.  I think that figuring out this question is the purpose of all of our lives.  But most of us don’t do that.  And this is a shame.  Only a select few have actually done it:  Jesus, Buddha, and other mystics, but that was true to them.  Some of the things are true to me, but not all of them.  But by examining these things, we start to understand that we don’t really know.  No one does.  We’re here, but we can’t possibly know why or what our lives will mean.  It’s so abstract, but it tugs at our core beliefs so much that it can alter the world we live in drastically.  But by doing this, we gain more clarity. 

I’ve began to embark on this journey for about a year now and I really don’t know where it will take me.  I am wandering across this plane of existance, while also going to other planes.  The dream plane is completely random and the “reality” plane is very concrete and other planes I’ve never been on are probably somewhere in between.  But I’m not sure why or what or how.  So I just sit here, wondering, trying to figure this all out, while at the same time trying to hold a job and maintain a life.  It’s becoming exhausting just to be, just to exist, and doing that alone is no easy task.  It takes so much mental energy to ponder these things and to put everything in perspective in so many ways and wonder about how the world works and if it’s simply in our own minds.  Who knows what’s really going on?  It could all be some kind of dream,and that’s the way it’s starting to look in my world.

But there has to be a point to all of this.  Some things don’t make sense to me.  We were born into this world with all these rules that we had no idea were in effect, we were not consulted when they were made, and other things.  It’s a real weird situation as I see reality almost breaking down in front of me.  As I attack each core belief, I start to see different things happen that don’t seem possible under my old system.  It’s almost as if I’m at the helm of the ship and I can decide what it is that’s real, but even if I can, what does that matter?  So what if I’m powerful?  And I use that power for good/evil?  What will that do for me as an entity, not as a body?  My body is not me anymore, it’s more a part of me, but just as much as my soul or spirit is part of me. 

I hope I have some answers real soon on some of these questions.  I will be back in a couple of days after I contemplate this more.  It’s so expansive, I may get stuck for awhile, but at least I’m making some headway, and I have to find meaning it it.  So, until next time…


Why or Why Not

November 23, 2006

I like to let my mind wander. Just let go of reality for awhile. It’s very comforting. What if I was different? What if I was older, younger, smarter, more energetic, less focused, what would my life be like if I was like that? Where would I go? Would I understand everything I do now? Or would I understand more? What if I was a woman who grew up in Singapore and was told her whole life that I wasn’t very important by my parents, or told I was useless? What would life be like if I were born to a millionaire and never had to work a day in my life? All of these insane thoughts, I kind of make different lives for myself that don’t have any real staying power in reality, but they at least allow me to pass the time. I need a reason for being here, though. There are no real reasons as through the perspective of the universe, everything becomes trivial. So it’s hard to really understand what’s going on. I’m not going to accept anything blindly either. I need to have it resonate with me. I need some sort of answer that is justified in my conscious mind. And until I have that, I really do not have any answers about reality in a way that I can comprehend. Sure, people have tried to explain reality as accurately as possible, but they have not done so to my standards. I need something more concrete, something I can grasp.

I want to know why we’ve created this world and why we live isolated from the rest of the universe, and mostly isolated from the world. I need answers, but it’s not easy to come by them these days. The fact that I’m thinking about this counts, though. If I was just living a sedentary life, with no real questions, no thoughts of introspection, then I would be ashamed of myself, realizing that I have nothing to offer. But maybe I’m crazy and the rest of the world is sane. How would I know? I have no one else to compare myself to that won’t be wearing their mask of sanity. The people that will act normal to fit in and never understand why until it’s too late, they are normal. It’s an assimilation, if you will. A direct assimilation that halts creativity and mind. But in order to be accepted by these people, these entities, we have to want the newest car, the greatest gadget, and watch hours of television where these innate values are fed to us with a silver spoon.

But what does this mean anyway? If someone is dishonest about marketing a product to you through all these relatively evil methods, what is their real motivation besides money? And what will money do for you once you have too much of it? And what does money have to do with the whole universe? Why are we on this planet where making money from something is more important than actively giving it away to benefit people? Maybe I was brought into existence too late because I’m sure the universe didn’t work this way thousands of years ago, a time where we thought for ourselves and based our decisions not by what others did, but from what we want to do.

I think the best question to ask in all of this is: Why? And I’m sure you could go for the cop-out answer: Why not? But that’s not very clever, nor is it amusing. People will go into some long-winded sermon about how a certain religion is right and that it’s the only way to answer that question. And I can’t deal with that. I don’t want beliefs forced on me. I want to figure my own beliefs out for myself. I’ll assess the situation and go from there. It’s a hell of a time doing this, though. It could take a lifetime, maybe longer. But most people don’t take the time to do this. They follow whatever they’re fed because it’s too much work to figure out things for themselves. Just go to someone who seems to be thriving in a current belief system and adopt it. But it shouldn’t be that simple. Something is telling me it has to resonate with you completely. It can’t be someone else’s words flowing through your head. The only thoughts that should be flowing through your head are yours.

I don’t know how much further I can take this before I go completely and utterly insane, but I feel there is such a group mentality in the world where people simply believe what certain people believe in order to be accepted, while not completely accepting themselves. If you completely and fully accept yourself, then there will be no need to search for acceptance in other people. This is where the concepts go astray because the majority of people don’t really accept themselves and don’t believe in anything specific, due to the fact they don’t take the time to see what works for them. So they take “the easy way out,” not finding beliefs and not accepting anything as real. So they look to others for some guidance, and the guidance most people give have to do with their own agendas and conversion rhetoric. It’s a terrible system and it needs to change. If I were to form a group, I wouldn’t want anyone to be here that doesn’t believe what I believe in because it would be incongruent with their beliefs. Why would you go to a Catholic church if you’re a Muslim?

But we all want answers. Answers are what we desire. Answer to Why and Why Not are very hard to come by. But most people don’t put in the time to answer logically. This is a problem because this leads most people to believing what others believe in just because they haven’t done the groundwork for their own unique belief system. We’re so conditioned to treat time as “money,” and to not take time to ponder these great questions, but rather to get as much done in a half-hour as is humanly possible. Efficiency is highly valued, but introspection and assessment of the self is not. We value robotic “good” workers much more than we reward intuitive thinkers whose ideas can be very useful. Sure, people like Jesus and Buddha got recognition and so did Socrates and Plato, but most of these people are told, “Why don’t you get a job, you lazy bastard!” And it’s wrong, wrong. Let them think, let them experiment.  These are the fathers of the new world.  Don’t stifle their creativity, but embrace it.

Sidenote:  I know these posts are becoming a bit more abstract and less funny, but it’s just I’ve been doing a lot of deep thinking lately and it’s been wonderful.  It’s an exercise in the mind.  You should try it sometime.  It does wonders for my creativity as well.  And the dreams!  Vivid, amazing dreams that you could never imagine unless you personally had them yourself! 


Oh My God!

November 20, 2006

There’s always a question that people ask that quickly forms judgment on other people.  “Do you believe in God?”  As they ask this question, you aren’t really sure what kind of God they’re talking about, or if it can be anything.  Some people see God as this father figure, much like the governing force of nature, whille others simply see God as a presence in our world, an energy force.  So if anyone ever asks you a question like this, you should have them define what they’re talking about by “God.”  It’s almost like we’re handed this world and asked to make best judgments on what holds true for us.  For example, if you grew up Catholic and now you’re out in the world and you see all these other religions, of which yours damns them all the hell.  How can all these belief systems exist and all be the “one true religion?”

This is where it gets a little hazy.  With all the belief systems, most of which are fear-based or too structured to be realistic, are a trap if you really look at them.  Most of them have good messages, but they somewhat limit your scope of reality.  You can’t have certain experiences in certain belief systems, mostly because you don’t believe they’re possible.  But most people stay inside one religion or set of beliefs in their entire lifetime, never experiencing anything else, so even though they may believe that all the other religions are wrong, they have never experienced them from the inside and seen if they resonate with them at all.

Of course, most people never stray from the system in which they were born.  And it’s sad, really, because they never do any thinking about reality for themselves.  They allow others to do the thinking for them.  If you let someone else tell you what to do with your life, it wouldn’t really be your life anymore.  It would be the life of the person who’s telling you what to do.  So unless you make a decision that reflects yourself, you’re pretty much giving up control of your life.  I believe the whole test is to question your beliefs and wonder if there are any beliefs outside your own belief system that could work for you.  And it takes time to try each of them out, but it may be worth it in the end.  You never know.

But there are all these pressures in certain religions.  People will notice if you start to get away.  Like if you go to church every Sunday and have been doing so for the past ten years, then if you all of the sudden stop, there could be some backlash and people muttering, “That guy’s lost his mind.”  And the thought of dealing with this is one thing that holds us back.  Not only that, but the fact that you’ll probably be spiritually unstable for awhile because you have to adapt to any new belief in your world.  But that is only temporary. 

I remember the time I tried to adopt a belief that time is only an illusion and is a creation of the mind.  At first, I couldn’t really grasp that, but eventually I came to figure out that everything is a creation of the mind.  Nothing just happens, there must be some sort of willing it to happen, be it a person, an animal, or a plant.  You see, the fact that time exists it mostly something we use to measure results, lifespan, and other seemlingly trivial things from the universe’s perspective.  If we place so much importance on the impermanent, then we start to place too much importance on the aspect of time. 

The most mind-blowing realization I’ve ever come to is the fact that we really don’t matter that much.  The fact is, while looking at the universe and its expansive size, we are not exactly the best thing since sliced bread.  We are just as important as an insect or a planet.  We are a cell in the organism we call the universe.  We are here to perpetuate the existence of our planet, which for some reason exists.  People often ask why we’re here, and I say, you could look for the rest of your life and you may be able to figure out how we are here, the science of why we are here, but it doesn’t bring us anywhere close to the purpose for being here. 

This is one thing I’ve been struggling with.  If we are as insignificant as it seems and our planet is nothing more than a small rock in the most gigantic formation of rocks anyone could ever imagine, then why is getting your taxes done so damn important?  How come people get stressed out over trivialities when there really is no need, from a cosmic perspective.  Even if you were to die, or even if the planet were to be destroyed, so what?  It’s not that big a deal.

And I think religion is the way to cope with all of this.  People place some sort of value on answers to these questions, and they’ll buy almost anything.  I’m not saying people who are religious are stupid, they’re not, if they’ve chosen their beliefs from examining many others.  If you ask this question to the universe, “Why are we here?” you most likely won’t get a response.  I think it’s because the universe is asking the same question to you:  “Why are YOU here?” 

And answering that question is very difficult to do.  Many people never answer it in their entire lifetimes.  I mean, if you have realized what I have, you know that from a cosmic perspective, choosing a purpose for your life can be very difficult.  Now that you realize the magnitude of the situation.  If you want to be a lawyer, but you know that doing so will force you to lie a lot, then you have to make a choice of whether or not you want to pay that price.  I’m not sure how the universe works, but from what I’ve seen, people usually get what they deserve, but it’s almost meaningless if you keep shifting perspectives, even to the other side of the globe. 

So I think the best deal is to choose a belief system that gives you the most power.  Choose one that will allow you to feel the most in control of your life.  You can give up control, but you can never give up responsibility.  If you have control, you do have responsibility, but if you don’t have control, you still have the rsponsibility to regain control.  So gain control of your beliefs and don’t follow something just because the rest of your family does or the church you go to does.  Don’t expect them to be understanding of your change in beliefs, as they most likely will dismiss you as insane. 

I guess it’s all about you, but not you in the selfish way.  It’s you as a collective whole, you as a planet, you as a universe to make it a better place without restrictions.  You shouln’t have to ask a pie-in-the-sky authority figure if you can do certain things.  Do what feels right and do what will give you the most power, but not power in an evil way, but power for the highest possible good you can imagine.

Then the most empowering for me is called subjective reality where a) there is only one consciousness, b) you are that consciousness, and c) everything is created by thoughts in that consciousness. It gives you an insane amount of power, but also an insane amount of responsibility.  So therefore, it places the world, the universe, in your hands.  It definitely takes time to get used to this, as your realize that other people are actually a projection of yourself.  Even strangers that pass by and plants, animals, books, tables, chairs, they’re all part of you and you have the power to change it.  It’s a very harmonious way of living, but you have to work at the thought part because every negative thought you have will be created, just as the psitive ones will.  So there are a lot of goods and bads like any other religion, but it is the only belief system that empowers you to this extent.  I hope I’ve been helpful in my musings and have a nice day, at least the one I created for you.