The Illusion of “OR”

Life is not a conflict between opposite but a polarity.

Things may be poked apart but they all go together.

However, that’s now how most of our culture views the world. Instead of “and”, it’s “or”

We live in a Culture of Duality.

We believe that people are good or evil

Rich or poor

Have hate or compassion

Black or white

Alive or dead

Yet, this is an illusion.

All things go together – the world is in fact one.

You can’t have a north pole without a south pole.

There isn’t good in this world without evil.

No one would be considered rich without society labeling the status of others as poor.

There is no way to be educated without the uneducated.

No such thing as hate without compassion.

There are no people that we consider black without those that we deem white.

No such thing as living, without the occurrence of death.

No trap without someone to be caught.

No compulsion unless there is also freedom of choice.

And of course, without others, there is no self.

Recognizing this illusion gives you the opportunity to change your posture.

The opportunity to realize that differentiation is not separation.

Living under this illusion is like viewing the world through the narrow gap in a fence, for when we attend to something, or take one side of the dualistic view, we ignore everything else – it is viewing the world with narrowed perception.

The head and the feet are different, but not separate, and though we are not connected to the universe by exactly the same physical relation as branch to tree or feet to head, he is nonetheless connected.- Alan Watts

On Giving Thanks.

Thanksgiving.

Family.

Friends.

Food.

Warmth.

The brisk fall air that reminds you that you are alive.

Whether you choose to celebrate or despise the commercialization of the invented holiday season, Thanksgiving does serve as a subtle reminder of all things that are important. All things that are essential to being:

Family:  The people in our lives who give us the support and love we need to make a difference. The people that teach us how to love. They are the field which we sow with love and reap with thanksgiving.

Gratitude: It turns what we have into enough, and more. A meal into a feast. A house into a home. A friend into a stranger. It binds our communities together.

Possibility: Every day offers us the opportunity to make a difference not just in our own lives but in the lives of others. An opportunity that is afforded to us as a result of the connection and the optimism we gain when we know we are in it together.

For a few days, we are reminded of the interdependence of life.

We couldn’t have the meal we share without the sacrifice and labor of others, from farm to table.  The food we share is the gift of the whole universe—the earth, the sky, and much hard work.

This Thanksgiving, instead of measuring your goodness by what you don’t do – by what you deny yourself, what you resist, and what you exclude. Let’s all agree to measure the goodness in us, and in everyone, by what we embrace, what we create, and who we include.

What’s at The End of The Rainbow…?

There is no pot of gold.

There is no race.

No end destination.

However, our culture treats life as such.

As if life’s main objective is to achieve something.

That “one job”.

That dream house.

Peace of mind.

The perfect spouse.

“Successful” kids.

Retirement.

“Impact”.

We treat life as if there is something for us to attain from it.

Constantly chasing after something that appears to be just out of our grasp.

However, life is not a bank to be robbed.

There is no prize. Nothing that we have to “get out of it”.

However, that doesn’t make it not worth living.

Instead, that realization, the realization that we are not competing with each other.

The realization that it doesn’t matter how big our house is, the name of the car we drive, or the logo on the clothes we are wearing – that realization is liberating.

It’s liberating because it allows you to let go of the attachment we have to the end result.

It gives you freedom. Freedom to stop chasing something that isn’t real.

This freedom allows you to alter your posture.

If it’s not a race, how many more people would you help?

Would you think twice about the next time you use your perceived status to put someone else down?

Seriously, if it wasn’t a race how would you play the game differently?

How would you engage with and connect with the universe?

I’m guessing the answer is different than you’re currently playing the game.

The point isn’t that life is a game, the point is that we have the power to choose how we play it.

If your happiness is dependent on achieving “the result” or making it to the “end destination” you are setting yourself up for failure.

We suffer because we desire…

Symbols: Meaningful or Meaningless?

Symbol:

1 :an authoritative summary of faith or doctrine :creed

2 :something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship, association, convention, or accidental resemblance; especially :a visible sign of something invisible the lion is a symbol of courage

3 :an arbitrary or conventional sign used in writing or printing relating to a particular field to represent operations, quantities, elements, relations, or qualities

In our culture, we act as if there is only one definition of a symbol – “an authoritative summary of faith or doctrine”

That’s why we get upset when people don’t stand for the national anthem.

That’s why countries refuse to let women drive.

That’s why we fight for the right to fly the confederate flag.

That’s why we refuse, under any circumstance, to let someone encroach on our right to bear arms.

However, I think definition 3) is a bit more realistic – “an arbitrary or conventional sign..”

Symbols are just that, they are symbolic.

A narrative – that someone else created and we decided to believe in.

The problem is that our culture has forgotten this.

Instead, our society treats symbols as though they had an existence of their own independent from those that think them, even from those who first produced them.

My problem with Symbols is not as much of their arbitrary nature, but with the fact that they are fixed.

They construct boundaries.

They focus on scarcity.

They are finite.

They are based in fear. The fear of change, as the prizes won by the people who established our present-day symbols can only be protected if the symbols retain  “meaning”.

Symbols restrict freedom, not afford it, as one cannot be free by opposing another.

For example, my freedom does not depend on your loss of freedom. On the contrary, since freedom is never from society, but freedom for it, my freedom inherently affirms yours.

The paradox of symbols lies in definition 2) “something that stands for or suggests something else by reason of relationship..”.

Symbols are supposed to be “shortcuts”  that allow us to quickly identify things, yet they also act as a barrier that prohibits us from seeing the possibilities that lie outside of them – preventing us from identifying the future.

Instead of blindly following symbols we should ask ourselves:

What do the symbols that I believe say about me?

What do they say about the world I want to live in?

What do they say about what I think is important?

What can undo our attachment to symbols that we disagree with?

The awareness that it is our vision, and not what we are viewing that is limited.

Symbols can change.

The symbols that we disagree with, that ostracize people, that divide us, that threaten our safety – those symbols, they must change.

We have the power to change them.

The challenge is learning to see.

Learning to see the arbitrary and finite boundaries that these symbols have created.

We have no choice if we want to live meaningful lives.

Whoever merely follows these symbols without questioning their value, their relevance and their impact on others are simply repeating the past and are culturally impoverished.

You see, our society cannot stand non-participation.
It cannot stand fundamental criticism.
It is this dynamic that causes the unrest in our culture.
Because when you are unsure that you are right about what a flag represents, or how people have historically been treated – you must stifle criticism and fight to retain the power of symbols…even if you don’t believe them to be true in the present context.

Family Circles

Similar to Red Wood trees, we all have family circles.

Circles that offer us vitality. These circles are our parents, siblings and extended family. The individuals that you can always count on to be there, even when disaster strikes.

 

These individuals are the seeds.

The seeds from which we grow emotionally, physically, and mentally.

Our parents are the roots.

And our siblings and extended family play a myriad of roles:

They are the plow that tills the land.

The water that keeps us healthy and allows us to maintain our growth.

The fertilizer that helps us grow faster and bigger so that we can increase our yield.

I’ve written a lot about how we live in a connection economy and that the work of an artist is to create connections that change people.

It turns out that, the most important connection we have is the connection with our family.

Because family circles, no matter how terrible the damage, keep us alive.