Tuesday, November 27, 2018

What, Really, Do We Know?

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

The way we’ve been taught to think about the information presented to us in life can generally be summed up in the following 2 ways:
  1. Either you know it or you don’t;
  2. Either it’s true or it’s false.
  3. And you damn well better get it right.
Oh. I guess there were 3… Whatever the case, this way of thinking is very closed-minded.

We learn things we’re told are “true,” and then we say, “I know.”

Even though we learn countless things later on that cause us to see that what we’d learned prior was false, we still go on saying, “I know.”

Even though there are countless theories that we only have partial explanations for, we still go on saying, “I know.”

Even though there are countless ideas we hear second- or sixty-second-hand, we still accept them and go on saying, “I know.”

The question begs to be asked, What, really, do we know?

The purpose of this blog post is to show that so-called "knowing" doesn't actually afford us the value we've been led to believe. I’ll show this by explaining what I see as the two types of knowing: one I refer to as “knowing,” in quotes and with a lowercase “k”, and the other as Knowing, with a capital “K”.

By the end you should be able to see, at least intellectually, why knowing something is often no better, and many times worse, than knowing nothing and simply letting all information flow and using the best available in any given moment.


The first type of knowing we can label as “knowing.” This is maintained with a lowercase “k” and has quotes around it because the foundation on which it rests can be mildly to outstandingly unstable.

To explain, let’s look at a few different categories and examples of each.

Egoic “knowing”
Egoic “knowing” enhances a distorted sense of self. It provides us with a sense of being “better than” so that we don’t have to feel the pain of our subconscious beliefs of being “less than.”

This “knowing” contains all self- and other-identity information that falls under fear, judgment, criticism, gossip, etc.

When invested in blame, he-said/she-said, and things of this nature, we obviously believe our own beliefs about “who I am,” “how it is,” and “how people are,” and we also easily fall prey to believing others’ ideas of the same. These things must necessarily be false because they are so strongly based in negative perception.

Worldly “knowing”
Worldly “knowing” pertains to the information we get from “authoritative” sources. Whether of business, politics, or whatever, we’re told whatever drives profit.

If it’s profitable to drill for oil when far cleaner and cheaper energy sources exist, then research, articles, data sets, and so forth are going to be skewed to fit the agenda. If it’s profitable to create ever more regulations and laws in order to increase taxes, fines, and fees, then the politicians will do just that.

“Authority” avoids what does not increase profit. This means that our “understanding” of “how things are” are not truth-driven, but profit-driven.

Scientific “knowing”
We have some theories that are arguably correct; we have some theories that are arguably incorrect. We have some theories that we can’t resolve; we have some theories that in order to figure them out we’re going to have to overhaul foundational theories we’ve long accepted as “true.”

Almost every side has scientific evidence to support it (or so it’s skewed to be so); almost every side has scientific evidence to debunk it (or so it’s skewed to be so).

What we can actually say we Know scientifically is utterly miniscule. Again and again we learn something and say we “know,” yet with time and further observation and experimentation, we learn new things that trump the old.

It’s all fine and good to use the best information we have in any given moment, but it’s not good to identify with that information and hold it as irrefutably true (and regularly bash those who say otherwise) when it rarely ever is.

Religious “knowing”
Dogma and doctrine and the like are sets of concepts about “how things truly are.” These are formulated by religious leaders and must be accepted unquestionably as true. Yet every last religious sect has slight or major differences from every other.

Then there are varying (cherry-picked) scriptures upon which any given religion is based. And with the Bible, for instance, there are as many translations as there are languages, and within each of these languages there are countless versions. Furthermore, some argue for 100% literal interpretation, some argue for 100% metaphorical, some argue for both, some argue for whatever is convenient to a given argument, and so on.

At least in this context, what good is religion when everyone effectively has their own and the one each has is designed for organizational preference?

School “knowing”
This grouping is for what might be described, more or less appropriately, as “pointless intellectual information gathering.”

People are forced to learn a whole lot of stuff about this and that of which they’ll build on in later schooling but most of which they’ll never use again in their lives. (All the while, they learn virtually nothing about practical life skills such as first aid, cooking, health, emotional balancing, house ownership, financial planning, sexuality, and so on.)

Also in this category is, for example, the endless garbage learned by “professionals” such as doctors who go to any of the many medical schools that are bought out by Big Pharma companies. Obviously, as a mega-billion-dollar industry, Big Pharma is going to provide pro-Pharma textbooks and offer grants only to scientific studies that fit its people-must-be-sick-for-us-to-profit business model while skewing to their gain any research that doesn’t result to their benefit.

The only possible outcome to such biased chicanery is decades of research and education that is largely junk.

Memory “knowing” and the Mandela Effect
Being aware of our past experiences—as memories—are useful things, but they’re also prone to error.

Time and health degrade our memories; stress, beliefs, and fears skew our memories; and our minds are generally open to suggestion of things which had never occurred. (Hence, as it is said, why he who controls the present, controls the past.) In fact, it’s possible to recollect a past event wrongly just by our attempt at recollection: since the mind “needs” to know, it may fabricate false details simply to fill in the blanks.

Then there’s the Mandela Effect. This became popularized when a woman, who had vivid memories of Nelson Mandela dying in prison in the 1980’s, found out that not only did Mandela “actually” die in 2013, but that many people shared her same, apparently “false” memory. “Tank Boy,” the man who’d stood by himself in front of the column of tanks in Tiananmen Square in 1989, is another one. There are people claiming to clearly recall the tank running him over and seeing his gored body on the street—yet what we “know” currently is that the man had never been harmed.

There are plenty of these that I can attest to remembering what is apparently “false,” as well. To name only a few:

The department store, “J.C.Penney.” When I was a kid, I’m virtually certain it was “J.C.Penny.” I can’t say when exactly the second “e” began appearing in the name, but I’ve long had the subtle sense that the name has looked elongated and somehow different. Another is the kid’s show, Looney Toones. I know that when I was a kid, both words had a double “o”. Well, apparently that doesn’t exist anymore except on webpages related to the Mandela Effect. Now, it’s, Looney Tunes. Or Mr. Rogers singing, “It’s a beautiful day in the neighborhood.” Apparently, it goes, “It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood.” Not in my childhood.

Recently, my sister brought up a picture on her computer of her, our cousin, and I at a carnival from only a few years ago. We haven’t yet asked my cousin about it, but the rest of us are utterly baffled because none of us remember where it was, when it was, or actually being there—we remember nothing about it. My mom says she “sort of vaguely” remembers taking a picture, but that’s it. And for all the pictures both my mom and my sister take, it’s the only picture we have of the event. It’s as though a glitch in the matrix allowed the picture to flick in from a parallel universe.

Examples of this effect, and there are hundreds, if not thousands, in the US alone, suggest that our memories are, well, not quite what we think they are. For the Mandela Effect to occur means that there must be parallel universes and alternate timelines over-laying the one we perceive to be “the only” but which we fluidly shift into, out of, and/or merge with without ever overtly knowing.

This can potentially make memories pointless in arguing over because some people really might know different from others yet all could be correct. Attempts at debunking can be equally useless because, one, in some instances there is evidence that strongly suggests multiple, simultaneous realities, and two, it’s simply not possible for anyone to place two or more parallel universes side-by-side to draw a definite conclusion.

“knowing,” Summed Up
While “knowing” can certainly play a useful role, in all cases what is “known” is bound for change, and quite often it’s just a database of information that’s false or irrelevant to a given “knower.” Sometimes the reality of the information is anyone’s guess.

That said, we would do well to choose what we “know” wisely.


The second type of knowing is Knowing. This knowing we’ll denote with a capital “K” due to the solidity of the information.

What we can Know is much less than what we can “know,” yet it is vastly more important. Here are two major categories:

Laws of Nature and Existence
What applies to this first category of Knowing are the laws of nature.

This is not to be misinterpreted as, for example, the scientific laws of nature. To say “scientific” too much implies mathematics and research and the like. What is meant here is the simple awareness of “how things are.”

For instance, we can Know with profound confidence that if we roll a bowling ball down an alley, we will, assuming we’re not a terrible shot, hit at least some of the pins set up at the other end. We can Know, at least with some degree of self-realization, that when we hurt others, we hurt ourselves.

In life as we know it, there are certain rules that determine how our existence operates. Once realized, we can say that we Know these because they are witnessed through direct experience and their happening has no bearing on whether or not we are in any way aware of their intellectual theory.

Intuition is what could be described as “Knowing without knowing.”

When we’re walking down the street and get an unexpected urge to turn right at the next intersection rather than the one after as we’d intended, this would be intuition.

Perhaps in doing so, we’d avoid having to backtrack because the street we’d intended to turn onto was blocked off. Or maybe nothing at all would appear wrong, but those guiding us from the Other Side had seen a near-future potential that we’d be hit by a biker should we not have taken a different path.

Although the how or why may not be clear, intuition is a Knowing that is very true but also quite personal: if someone doesn’t “get” intuition, it cannot be explained to them; there is nothing to prove. Indeed, many people say the claimed intuitive actions of others, and even of themselves if acted on unconsciously, are “just a coincidence” or “a matter of luck.”

Knowing, Summed Up
Knowing is solid. Either it’s based on foundational principles of life, or it’s born of higher, personal truth.

This type of Knowing, though it may change, is sourced from personal experience and inner awareness.

There’s Always More, So Don’t Hold On Too Tightly.

Virtually everything we can know will change.

Of “knowing,” this should be self-evident: If information is not outright garbage, the law of life is change and so there will always be some new piece of information that overwrites the old. “knowing” can therefore only be temporary, at best.

Of Knowing, we only Know what we Know. What, for instance, are the observable laws of physics in another star system or dimension? It’s silly to think that what we count on as true here on Earth is true throughout the All. Or for the one who has an intuition, the thing they Know to do today for a positive result could be null or even cause trouble if delayed until tomorrow.

Knowing, any type of knowing, is a temporal thing. By all means, yes, learn. After all, learning is what life is about. We’re here for discovery, of self, other, and existence. But ultimately we must accept that there’s a higher truth to everything... and a higher truth beyond that… and a higher truth beyond that… and, well, you get the idea.

In letting information and awareness flow, we can easily reject and/or detach from what may be harmful, utilize the best information available in any given moment, and always remain open to the newer and better.

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Suffering from “Uhhhh…” Syndrome? Let Me Help.

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

If you have “Uhhhh…” Syndrome, you’re primary symptom will present as a reluctance to choose.

You have options, but, “Uhhhh… Which one?”

To remedy this condition without resorting depressive apathy, unhinged vexation, or Big Pharma witchery, you can look at 4 areas that may hold insights as to what underlies your struggle and will help you to make quicker decisions with more confidence.

Area 1: Analysis Paralysis

If you didn’t suffer from “Uhhhh…” Syndrome, although you’d probably weigh your choices rather than making a selection willy-nilly, you’d still come to a decision in a timely manner and be done with it.

But suffering with the “Uhhhh…’s,” you can’t help but go into analysis paralysis. Even if you have some intuitive capacity available, your excessive thinking and fear could very well skew your perception and lead you into analysis paralysis anyway.

What I suggest doing in this case is stepping back, pulling out a pencil and paper, and writing down whatever you see as valuable to making a worthwhile decision.

You might make side-by-side lists: one for “pros” and one for “cons” of each option. You might make bullet points for any “happenings” (unusual events, synchronistic conversations, etc.) that may be Life attempting to direct you appropriately. You might write down how you feel about each option.

Rather than leaving your mental circus to resolve itself, organize and clarify it externally; see what’s going on as a whole.

Area 2: Choice Alternatives

In this area, you’re going to self-inquire as to what ideas you have about the choice-making itself.

Suppose that you’re bumbling around on a decision between “A” or “B”.

You may be thinking, It’s okay to choose “A” or “B”. But what if it isn’t? What if you’re hesitating because it’s not okay, and deep down you know it’s not okay, but your stubborn desire for it to be okay is causing you confusion?

Or, I’m supposed to choose “A” or “B”. “Supposed to”? Like believing that you “should” do something, “supposed to” tends to imply pushiness. Who is expecting or demanding what of you for what kind of gain? Are you expecting or demanding something of yourself?

Does it even matter if you choose “A” or “B”? Is there an option “C”? Can you choose more than one?

Depending upon your situation, you may have been assuming that you can’t have your cake and eat it too, but what if you can? Is it unreasonable to buy ham this week and turkey next week, or to take Molly out to dinner on Friday and Heather out on Monday… or both together?

If you can’t have both options, consider that one of the reasons you may be struggling is that you see the options as more or less equal. But since you’ll never know what the alternative would be like, does is really matter which you choose?

Area 3: Meaning

In this third area, ask yourself what meaning you find in making a given choice.

Is the meaning I’m giving this choice reasonable?

Maybe your reasoning is unreasonable. Write down what you’re actually thinking and analyze it. Get a second opinion.

Is the meaning I’m giving this choice convenient?

You may really want to choose “A”, but you know that in choosing “A” you would have to face certain fears. So maybe you’ll just choose the ease of “B” instead… or will you?

Is the meaning I’m giving this choice too “material”?

Are your desires distorted? Are you fighting with yourself between slow progress and lasting satisfaction versus quick results and short-term gain? Is the choice you wish to make actually irrelevant to you at this time in your life?

Area 4: Fears and Beliefs

Lingering when you have to make a choice is largely due to any number of fears and beliefs, most of them hidden.

To help bring these issues to the surface, you can get a pencil and paper and sit in a comfortable place where you won’t be disturbed. At the top of the page, write a question such as:

What fears and beliefs do I carry that are inhibiting my decision-making ability?

As you see fit, you can repeat the question to yourself, but otherwise sit quiet-minded with your eyes closed and “listen” for what arises. Whatever comes up, write it down if it’s an answer to your question.

Be sure to do this non-judgmentally. As I stated in “Reopening the High School Year Book,” some answers may be as true as they are seemingly ridiculous.

You might come up with answers such as the following:
  • I’m afraid of choosing poorly and screwing things up irreversibly.
  • I fear making a mistake and being shamed and criticized.
  • I fear making myself vulnerable.
  • I yearn for approval, and lousy decisions could bring on a lot of rejection.
  • I need more guidance and clarity to make the right decision.
  • It’s dangerous to make decisions without parental awareness and validation.
  • I know what I want to choose, but if I don’t go the way authority has told me to go, surely I’m bound for failure.

Do the Work. Make the Choice.

The inspiration for this blog post came from a certain personal experience of having to choose between “A” or “B”.

I floundered around for plenty longer than I like to admit while doing work such as that discussed here. I also overthought way too much and often became frustrated… Until I had an unexpected realization in the midst of a fit of irritation that brought it all to a grinding halt:

Fuck it all. It doesn’t fucking matter. The point is that I just need to make a fucking decision and let life play out how it plays out.

I recount this short story in a blog post titled, “Using a Microscope When a Magnifying Glass Is Sufficient.”

Whatever troubles may arise, I fully endorse doing self-help work to overcome the obstacles. There are definitely things I needed to learn about myself and heal within that presented themselves through the aforementioned situation.

But I must also acknowledge to you that when it comes to making choices, sometimes you “just need to make a fucking decision.”

If you’re lingering, lingering, lingering, even if you are doing the inner work, choosing may never be comfortable or fun, and you may never have “enough” information to make the “best” decision. But you just have to do it.

In fact, the act of choosing while in a space of uncertainty can sometimes be the very thing required to break old programming.

So do it, already.

Quit “Uhhhh…ing” and choose.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

Demystifying the "Bad Things Happening to Good People" Conundrum

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

Why do bad things happen to good people?

Before answering this question, it’s worth asking:

Who’s to say that they who ask this question have an accurate sense for what is “bad” and who is “good”?

As we answer the question that is the topic of this blog post, you’ll come to see that the common definitions of “bad” and “good” upon which the question is based are rather shortsighted.

The better question might be:

Why do seemingly bad things happen to seemingly good people?

5 Potential Answers

Potential answers are as follows:
  1. God is an angry and vengeful God.
  2. God wants us to prove that we believe in his saving mercy.
  3. Our hardship and suffering are the cross we must carry in life.
  4. We’re burning karma from other lifetimes.
  5. What we experience is a reflection of our thoughts.
Let’s break each of these down to see if any them actually make sense.

1.) God Is an Angry and Vengeful God

If God is love, as 1 John 4:8 proposes, why would He deliberately and perpetually inflict pain and suffering upon us?

While God allows plenty of space for “tough love,” causing outright hardship and disaster like a grudge-holding, traumatized, and malevolent overlord is not at all aligned with tough love or true love.

Where God appears in scriptural passages, for example, to be slaughtering people (or very much supporting the slaughterers) caution is highly advised.

For one thing, scriptural texts carry a great deal of metaphysical meaning. This is to say, taken at surface value (as religions and lay people usually do), the worst crimes can potentially be pinned on God. But such given passages may not be referencing physical circumstances at all; indeed, they may be referring, say, to a spiritual seeker’s experience of overcoming inner, earthly obstacles.

Secondly, ancient scriptures may have been inspired by God, but that doesn’t mean they were actually written by Him. Scriptures have been written by inspired humans—inspired humans who “got” a message but who also still had some degree of their own beliefs and fears, their own perspectives on life, their own limited awareness of history, and so on.

Thirdly, over the course of hundreds and thousands of years, many scriptures have been cherry-picked, transliterated and translated, interpreted and reinterpreted, and sometimes even outright manipulated. Just because it's printed neat-as-you-please and supported by any given religious "authority" as the "Word of God" doesn't make it true.

That being said, to say that “bad things happen to good people” because God is angry and vengeful seems false. Anger and vengeance are issues that have been plaguing man internally for time untold. It therefore only makes sense that man would characterize God in the same way either in attempt to exonerate himself or because man cannot help but reveal his deepest truths in his earthly expressions.

2.) God Wants Us to Prove that We Believe In His Saving Mercy.

This one screams of the victim mentality.

This belief is often (always?) held by people who believe that we have one life to live before spending eternity in heaven or hell. They believe they are effectively hell-bound but will increasingly be seen as worthy of heaven as their level of hardship and suffering increases.

The problem here is that this belief is like saying: “Yeah, God, just keep stacking on the shit, because I believe you’re going to save me in the end.”

Pardon me if I’m raining on anyone’s parade, but what if this isn’t the way God works?

What if, say, we purposefully and voluntarily came here to physically experience God’s creation in all its ups and downs?

What if those with this mentality will die only for God to say:
“Life is a lesson, my dear one. Why would you have the same troubles over and over were it not so?

When you went to the school of intellectual knowledge you always wanted to learn the old so you could discover the new. Yet in the school of life experience you continually allowed yourself to be chained to the old. Thus, nothing new could ever come in.

And why would I send you to earth to learn if you couldn’t take your wisdom with you into a new lifetime? What need have you for wisdom and knowledge in heaven where all is already known? Or in hell where it would all be worthless?”
If “bad things happen to good people” because “God wants us to prove that we believe in his saving mercy,” then it is only for the reason that the believers themselves are creating this troublesome experience and perception with their own thoughts.

3.) Our Hardship and Suffering Are the Cross We Must Carry In Life.

In a way there’s nothing wrong with this. It’s just a metaphor.

We all experience difficulties throughout our lives, and each issue to arise contains within it a life lesson.

Problem is, people often use this “Cross-Carrying Member” identity as a means of avoiding their responsibility to themselves of learning their life lessons.

These folks are willing to do what is “comfortable,” but they’re not willing to do the uncomfortable work that would put them face to face with their deeper traumas and fears; they’re not willing to let go of and/or alter their beliefs and behaviors—to truly die to themselves—and become reborn.

So they continue caving in to the siren song of victimhood. They justify that the gradually but ever-worsening hardship that befalls them is “just the cross I’m meant to carry.”

In this case, “bad things happen to good people” because “good” people avoid the inner work required to stop the “bad” things from happening.

4.) We Have To Burn Off Karma

“You reap what you sow.” Karma is the justice system of the universe.

Suppose I made a living stealing and selling cars. If I get caught or turn myself in, I have to pay the price.

But what if I went to the grave without either? Or what if I paid only part of the price, and then died? (And what is man’s price compared to God’s?)

Would I go to hell? And if so, would I go to the same hell and burn for eternity with evil dictators who commit countless atrocities? Would I go to a lesser level of hell for a much shorter term and burn for only 10 hours per day rather than 24? Or maybe instead of being on fire, I’d have to stand in a freezer and use cold water to wash melted, burned cheese off of baking pans? (Oh, the horror!)

And what if I’d been born into an abusive, drug-dealing family of car thieves? How does that equate to a man who’d been born into a love-centered, spiritual community? Should I be so severely punished for not being able to overcome a totally lousy upbringing and environment?

Why not reincarnate into another body in another time and place? Maybe with similar conditions that I can try again, or maybe I’d live modestly but my possessions or identity would be stolen.

From a karmic perspective, “bad things happen to good people” because seemingly “good” people have to balance out the “bad” things they’ve done in their current or other lifetimes.

5.) What We Experience Is a Reflection of Our Inner World.

There are so many angles to look at this from, but consider just this one with regard to beliefs:

Have you ever been around someone who’s sneezy and itchy and forever saying, “I’m allergic to everything”? Or maybe you have a friend who’s always complaining about prices and saying things like, “I’ll never pay off this debt; it’s one bill after another”?

People speak and act based on whatever is going on within them. They express their inner fears and beliefs through their external words, actions, and life circumstances.

If people are willing to accept the truths of life (whatever they may be) and are free of fears such as speaking up and going after what they want, they’re not going to have allergies because allergies are the body’s way of reflecting how people are mentally-emotionally “allergic” to life. If people are free of inner issues surrounding money, they’re not going to be worrying about prices or struggling to pay bills. As the saying goes, “As above, so below.”

“Bad things happen to good people” because “good” people are unwittingly physically manifesting the “bad” results of whatever negativity is hanging around in their inner worlds.

It’s All Relative

As I'm sure you've noticed, I’ve placed quotes around “good” and “bad” with regard to people and things, respectively. This was done in reference to the shortsightedness of definition mentioned in the introduction.

Quite simply, “good” and “bad” are highly subjective. Apply “good” or “bad” to anything at all and you’ll find a bazillion people with some smaller or larger difference of opinions.

Pertaining specifically to the message here, we’ll look at each separately.

We judge the “good-ness” of others by our perception of their level of decency (which itself is subjective and for which some people can be very deceptive in their portrayal of). However, if we accept that what I’ve offered above may be true, we see that there are a lot more factors that come together to determine how “good” anyone is than meets the eye.

This is not to take away from whatever acts or words of kindness anyone exhibits. It’s only to point out that our usage of “good” to judge someone leans toward shortsightedness because it doesn’t take the whole into account.

As for what is deemed “bad,” even these things can be perceived as “good” to the degree that they are circumstances meant to tell us something about ourselves for our higher good.

When I was younger I was very much out of integrity with my true needs and desires. Throughout this time I stubbed my toes and jammed my fingers and the like all the time. I’d always rationalized that “it’s the way life is” and “I’m a clumsy schlep.”

This difficulty minimized greatly after I’d awakened. But then during the first half of my dark night of the soul when things were really bad, I’d again banged my elbows all the time. Through the highs and lows of healing, the lows often came with elbow-banging. Once I’d sufficiently gotten my act together, I stopped banging my elbows.

The difference between my younger years and my older years is that I was able to recognize during the older years that I was the cause. Sure, figuring out what my pain was signaling to me was a different story. But having the awareness, both in this particular scenario and as a theme of “how life works,” has made a huge difference in my ability to deal with and heal my life.

So while the “bad” is usually quite unpleasant, this same “bad” is also a blessing if one knows how to see beyond appearances to “get” the message.

Tempering Ideologies

Before you go, I would like to point out one final thing:

It’s important to see that questions such as, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” are existential questions. They are questions that involve all people of all times in all places.

The reason this is important is because questions like these are often asked by people of a given ideology who seek to receive answers from others, usually “authoritative” others, of their same ideology.

People need to understand that Life is, God is. This is to say, Life and God are not Democrat or Republican; they’re not Catholic or Buddhist or Islamic; they’re not American or Malaysian or Norse; they’re not scientists or spiritualists—they carry no ideology.

When existential questions arise, I have no argument with anyone going to someone they see as knowledgeable about their ideological perspectives in search of answers.

However, it’s crucial that people
  1. also seek answers from sources who are outside of their ideological perspective, and then
  2. they sit with the information gathered and see and feel which answers (even if they're cross-sourced and uncomfortable to accept) provide the fullest picture.
No single person or group has all the right answers or the only answers—most especially when they come from those who claim they are.

You know… There’s a funny paradox with life: All the answers we could ever want or need are already before us, yet “sight” is not given to us unless we work for it.

There’s no real work in ideologizing life because the moment we say, “This is it. Here’s where all the answers lie”—yes, “lie”—is the moment all true seeking ceases and our minds and hearts close down.

If we want the answers, if we want true “sight,” then we must reach.

I hope you’re one who will.

Note: This text is a modified version of a post originally published on 12/7/11 to former personal blog Without a Story.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

Penance? More Like Avoidance of Responsibility.

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

What Penance Is

If I were to define penance, I would say: "Penance is how we make up for hurting others."

Or in legal slang, "You do the crime, you do the time."

That settled, I now want to focus on what penance is not and one particularly absurd way it manifests.

What Penance Is Not

When we hurt ourselves and have to make up for it, although some may call this penance, I see it as far wiser to call it karma or a life lesson, the particular not mattering because they both boil down to the same: We don’t usually consciously know why Life has given us a certain trouble, maybe it's for past-life restitution or maybe for soul learning and growth, but it’s now ours to deal with either way.

As to what it means to hurt ourselves, many negative behaviors both common and less common apply: alcoholism, self-condemnation, cutting one’s self, anorexia, habitually avoiding sleep, etc. Clearly, these behaviors cause self-damage and we must make up for them.

All the while, there is another form of self-hurt that fails gets the press it deserves: Doing nothing.

We’re born into this life in ignorance in order to develop self-awareness and then live in integrity as our highest selves. But in order to do this we must take action (even if this “action” is changing a negative thought pattern) as best as our circumstances allow. This is especially true when our life presents any experience that causes us suffering.

(Critical side note: Suffering is not pain.)

When we do nothing, we gain nothing and hurt ourselves at the same time. Strangely enough, however, sometimes we call this "act" of doing nothing, "penance."

“Penance” As Avoidance

The way I've seen this play out is such that the respective people take care of all their basic needs in life, but as their hardship and suffering continue to worsen, they sit by waiting for a savior while holding the mentality, “I am/must be doing penance.”

If this sounds familiar to you—wake up! The struggle and suffering you’re going through are either karma or your soul’s life lesson obstacles. They are not “penance.” You are not guilty of anything other than refusing to take full responsibility for your life. Even if you are guilty, as in the case of having negative karma from a previous life, it makes no difference because there’s no one to make amends to but your very self, right now.

And so what you call “penance” will keep getting worse until you take active responsibility and learn the lessons. After all, in life as we know it, pain and its consequent suffering are effectively the only reason we evolve.

Which brings us to the insightful point that we are often very stubborn-to-change beings, yet when our suffering becomes so bad that we finally crack open, we do actually change for the better and realize not only that we are the saviors we’d been waiting for, but also that we do deserve the better we now have because we now have it after earning it through our own power.

Otherwise, see that labeling your avoidance of karma/life lesson responsibility as “penance” is usually (or perhaps always) a bogus excuse for religiously-instilled guilt. It’s only there because you believe that it’s there. It makes you feel unworthy and has turned you into a glutton for punishment. Rather than overcoming anything, you allow yourself to be held back by everything.

“Carry Your Cross Daily”

Some people think, too, that stuffing down hurt, refusing emotional flow, denying pain, rationalizing suffering, etc. is part of “doing penance.”

To put it simply: It’s not. In fact, all such behaviors are distorted and therefore unhealthy, unwise, unspiritual, and uneverythingelserightandgood.

They may see this self-rejection-as-penance as part of the admonition to “carry your cross daily.”

Rather than taking the words as guidance to flow with life even when things get rough, people take them with a heavy implication of personal guilt. As in, “My life sucks a fat knob, and I'm going to make sure it continues to suck a fat knob, because this is the life that God has given me to bear and, suffered well, I will be redeemed for it in the end.”

NO! Suffering is never done well, because suffering is an aberration of consciousness.

If people would clean up their inner junk and stop torturing themselves, they could begin redeeming themselves right now. As I just said 42 seconds ago:
…we are often very stubborn-to-change beings, yet when our suffering becomes so bad that we finally crack open, we do actually change for the better and realize not only that we are the saviors we’d been waiting for, but also that we do deserve the better we now have because we now have it after earning it through our own power.

Parting Words

As you walk away, I would like you to keep in mind this little tidbit about Jesus, the man for whom all this penance and cross business is associated.

Jesus came here and lived with intent purpose in Truth and Love. What he most certainly did not do is go out of his way to inflict pain and suffering on himself.

If you read the Bible and focus only on the words of Jesus, the one upon whom the whole of the Bible and all of Christianity depends, you will never see statements such as: “You average people are less than me. You are all guilty as sin and should be ashamed to be alive.” He never says: “Suffer, you fools. Punish yourselves to prove your love for my Father.”

Hell, no! Only religion pushes such a negative agenda.

What Jesus does continually do is speak of loving one another. He does state that he and the “average” person are both the light of the world. He does speak as a man who has a direct line to a loving, compassionate, and forgiving God.

He does speak as though he and the rest of humanity, you included, are equals.

Do you suppose, perhaps, that it's time to stop pretending otherwise?

Friday, November 2, 2018

Words Are for the Herds – Part 3

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness

Updated 4/10/19. "Crazy" segment in "Word Reversals" section.


Groups of symbols indicating things of reasonably-defined meaning, or something else altogether?

Both. But if you’re familiar with the “Words Are for the Herds” line of thinking, then you know that words are often “something else altogether.”

If you’ve not yet read the earlier posts in this series, I recommend you do:
“Words Are for the Herds – Part 1”
“Words Are for the Herds – Part 2”

These prior two parts provide a solid background to this series along with many valuable insights that aren’t included in this particular article. (And they’re a fascinating and fun read!)

In the past, I’ve focused on single words and looked at different ways of breaking them down phonetically, anagrammatically, etc.

What I want to do now is two-fold: I want to examine, one, how words are used in phrases in harmful yet seemingly innocuous ways, and, two, how negatively-oriented language has been injected into our culture and we’ve sucked it up like water to a sponge.

As you’ll come to see, we’ve not been doing ourselves any favors by expressing our thoughts in the ways we have.

Guilt Implications

While words have power in and of themselves, phrases and sentences have all the more. It’s therefore important that we be able to discern the underlying meanings of whatever is stated overtly.

In the following two examples, we’ll see how guilt is subtly induced in “everyday” situations.

Guilt Example 1: Wedding Invitations
I’ve seen wedding invitations in which the RSVP portion offers these two options:
  • I will attend.
  • I am sorry I cannot attend. -OR- I regretfully decline.

This type of RSVP is basically saying that all is hunky-dory if the invitee can attend, but they must feel guilt/regret if they cannot attend.

Is the invitee allowed to decline without having to say sorry? Can the invitee decline without there being a subtle burden of guilt as though some wrong has been committed in saying "no"?

Why not this, instead:
  • I will attend.
  • I decline.

The choice for attendance doesn’t have a clarifier, so why must the choice to decline?

Or maybe people could send this:
  • I will __________ attend.
  • I __________ decline.

This way, an invitee can make his or her choice by filling in the blank. Perhaps: “I will unhappily attend,” or, “I enthusiastically decline.”

(…What? No one is that honest? Pardon my naive idealism…)

To be clear, I don’t believe that the people who use these invitations have the intention of guilt-tripping others. I’m pretty sure that most people are clueless as to what they’re actually saying. I feel that this phrasing has been quietly injected into our language by less-than-kind people in order to negatively influence us at a subconscious level.

Guilt Example 2: Donation Requests
A college fundraising mailer I’d once seen offers another similar example. It said something to the effect of:
We’ve set this year’s fundraising goal at [rather significant dollar amount], and we’re depending on you to fulfill this goal.
In other words, the college is saying: “We set the bar, and it's your obligation to uphold it.”

I’m sure some proud alumni and associates of the college would donate, but do you know who else would do so? The ones who hadn’t feel validated in childhood unless giving authority—likely their parents—what they'd wanted.

Now grown up, the "authority" and the potential donatees are repeating the same approval-based programming; the former says: “This is what we want from you,” and the latter says: “Yes, because I crave your approval.”

Along similar lines are the mailers from countless other organizations seeking donations:
Return this dime, and we can feed 10 starving children for a week.
Please consider making a donation. To thank you in advance, here’s a free map/personalized address labels/notepad/magnet/certificate of gratitude/dreamcatcher/blanket/pen/necklace/basketball/pair of tickets to ‘Disney on Ice’/iPhone 10.
Okay. So maybe I got carried away there. But I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.

It’s all about the guilt.

“Subtle” Does Not Equal “Small” or “Trivial”

When I write concepts such those in this “Words Are for the Herds” series, I sometimes feel a tug of hopelessness pulling at me. I feel like, Is anyone other than the choir really going to grasp my preaching?

I guess to some extent, not everyone in the choir is aware of everything, and so even preaching to the choir can have its benefits.

But otherwise I feel like this is one of those topics that can get brushed off way too hastily because we’re collectively so embedded in negativity that we don’t realize how distorted circumstances actually are; because we’re so fixated on the overt, coarse aspects of life that when people speak of the subtleties they’re often looked at as though they have three arms.

Yet it’s so important that we acknowledge the more subtle levels.

Words are very powerful things. This is usually evident to us when we speak unkindly or are misinterpreted and circumstances quickly turn sour. But the underlying energy of words, any sourness of which is not readily perceived by most people, also has power. And so we would do well to develop an understanding of this because negativity spread in ignorance is still negativity spread.

Did you ever notice that we often say, “Don’t forget…” rather than, “Please remember…”? Or that, in a religious sense, a great many people still push, “Thou shall not…” instead of, “Love one another,” and, “Do unto others…”?

Trivial as these things may seem, their usage is to no small effect and they're implicit of no small cause. This negative focus is the basis of our society which means that it is the basis of our collective and therefore individual states of mind.

Word Reversals

This negative orientation can likewise be seen in more recent times as we’ve taken to describing positive things with negative words. Somehow these have managed to catch on and spread like wildfire.

Although the context of these words has changed, their inherent energy signature has not. We still simultaneously use them with their original meanings and in their original contexts, after all.

Here are a few examples:
  • “That’s sick.” (Stated of something deemed special in some way.)
  • “That’s the shit.” (Stated of something deemed special in some way.)
  • “You slay/kill me.” (Spoken by one who’s humored by another.)
  • “I’m going to go die now.” (Surprise at something really good happening.)

There are also things such as the Philadelphia Phillies merchandise presenting a shorting of their name simply to “ill.”

“Oh, dude, you got an “ill” shirt? That’s sick.”

Word reversals that I think have been around for quite a while are those such as, “That’s crazy.”

Somebody tells their friends they want to go skydiving, and their friends say, “That’s crazy.” But is it? According to the United States Parachute Association, in 2018, there were only 13 fatal skydiving accidents out of a total of 3.3 million jumps. It’s crazier to drive a car day in and day out, multiple times per day, yet nearly everyone is willing to do that and very few ever think there’s something psychologically wrong with themselves or others for doing so.

“That’s crazy” is not merely an expression. If we ask who’s saying, for example, that skydiving is crazy, we’d find that it’s not the people who are skydiving. (They’re probably shouting, “YOLO!”) The people who’re calling the non-crazy things crazy are the ones who have a very limited worldview and aren’t willing to leave their comfort zones. They describe things in this way, unconsciously, as a means of reaffirming to themselves that they themselves are reasonable people living reasonable lives and it’s the world at large that’s gone mad.

Be Careful What You Wish. You Just Might Get It.

We exist in a living universe.

Literally, everything we think, say, and do comes back to us. Literally, everything we think, say, and do is us choosing what we want to experience, if unconsciously (via subconscious thought, repressed emotion, etc.), for better or for worse, in the immediate or distant future.

We don’t realize this because, one, we’ve not been told that it is so—quite the opposite—and, two, we experience a time delay for the majority of things—most notably with our thoughts.

But just because we are unaware doesn’t mean that those who design language, have incredible sway over cultural norms, and think quite unkindly of the average person are also unaware. Indeed, they know how this all functions, and they’ve worked very hard to keep us as ignorant and unwittingly foolish in our choices as possible.

These people want us to manifest endless hardship, and it is so easy for them to set the wheels turning (and keep them turning) in this age of instant connectivity via mass media.

All it takes is a single A-list celebrity to fashionably say or wear something that says, “Sick!” and droves of people are going to adopt it. If they want to angle it to a certain demographic, then they select the celebrity, marketing style, and the media outlets accordingly.

It’s then not long before life collectively takes a deeper plunge into the abyss because a significant portion of the population has spent years expressing the worst even of the best.

Listen Wisely

Do you know why the wise man is so wise?

Because he listens more than he talks, and when he is the one talking, he listens to what he is saying.

He is therefore able to open himself to ever expanding levels of conscious awareness from which he can compare his cacophonous external world experience to the calm of his internal world wherein his higher knowing resides. This enables him to readily discern misalignments between the two worlds and make adjustments accordingly.

In this state, he “gets” the subtleties of life so that they cannot “get” him.

Let’s take a hint from the wise man and learn to listen wisely.

Wisdom is, after all, the only way out of the abyss.