Monday, February 18, 2019

Shifting with the Ages

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



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FACT:
Evolution implies advancement from the lower and coarser to the higher and finer;
from darkness to light; from ignorance to intelligence; from fragmentation to wholeness.

Life is an evolutionary process.
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Transitions

The world is changing.

Within the last century alone, humans have been witness to a pace of advancement unparalleled in all of recorded history.

With each new development has come an overturning of “the old” and a movement into “the new.”

These transitions away from “the old” can be very unsettling for some people.

What they had once perceived as “how life is” and “the truth,” they see crumble before their eyes.

A Shifting Spiritual Paradigm

While this concept covers all fields of human experience, the one I would like to focus on is that of our shifting spiritual paradigm.

Undoubtedly, all is changing, and all change poses difficulty to those who would put up resistance. Within this overarching change, the spiritual paradigm shift is, it seems to me, the most prone to upset and resistance due to the magnitude of its implications.

When we look at automation, for example, although we can potentially get quite invested in it, few of us would ever get that invested because, well, it’s just automation. Unless our name is Alexa or Siri, it's quite self-evident that this field does not hold the answers to life, the universe, and everything.

The spiritual paradigm shift is different in that what we’ve been calling “spiritual” or “religious” is our center of existential gravity.

Our religio-spiritual beliefs, whatever they may be, dictate to us “who I am,” “why I am here,” “what my purpose is,” and so on. How any of us may answer these questions are extremely powerful determinants of how we live every moment of our lives and how we perceive death and the afterlife.

This area is therefore no small cause of upset and resistance, driven by fear, when “the old” that we hold so dearly is challenged, if not overturned.

If you find yourself struggling in this arena, I here offer you a few alternative perspectives and recommendations that may help you to better understand your situation and navigate the transition more easefully.

Waves Break, Yet the Ocean Remains

Like many people, you may be bothered by the arising of the New Age Movement.

Since the onset of monotheism, major religions have seen their splits this way and that. However, there may never have been as big of a religio-spiritual shake-up as has happened within the last several decades with the arising of the New Age theme.

People (of the West, anyway) had accepted as true that there is a singular God and that this is an external, mysterious, and vengeful God who will save only the “Chosen Ones.” Then the New Agers (however loosely related) came along and held to a singular God but claimed that this God is internal, knowable, unconditionally loving, and runs creation by the Law of Karma, under which each human must save his- or herself (and has the divine power to do so).

Now, to be clear, there’s as much garbage within the New Age agenda as in any other way of life. But you would do well to note that there are still plenty of great concepts and practices—many of which are actually quite ancient.

For how long has the vast majority of Western man acted as though practices such as yoga and meditation were some shade of “dorky” or “evil” or “strange” or what have you? And yet now, as if the experiential fact wasn’t good enough testament, there are scientific studies being released all the time touting the holistic benefits of these practices.

Here’s something else: In the Bible Jesus says on many occasions that the kingdom of God is within us, that we are gods, that we will do even greater things than he (Luke 17:20-21, John 10:33-38, and John 14:12, respectively), and so on. For whatever reasons, Christianity has utterly ignored this and taught otherwise. Yet the words are right there. New Age-types are merely restating what Jesus had stated himself over 2000 years ago.

The point is, the deeper concepts of the New Age are really no different than most any other religion, Eastern or Western. At their foundations, these are all large-scale attempts to understand and share who we truly are and why we are truly here.

It’s important that you see that whatever way humanity evolves, we are evolving as a whole, and we are all, as we have always been, attempting to discover the same thing.

The means will change over time, but that’s not a definitively bad thing.

Scriptural Reinterpretation

At the heart of religio-spiritual tradition is scripture.

For this reason it’s important that you make an attempt to reinterpret your preferred scriptural passages to fit humanity’s latest understandings in various fields, from spiritual to scientific to experiential. In whatever forms the truth may take, they must necessarily be coherent across all fields.

You could take the scripture upon which your preferred tradition is based and interpret it for yourself. If you favor the Bible, compare the phrasing of various translations and educate yourself a little bit (or a lot) on the transliterated differences from Greek or Hebrew to English. Not all is as it seems.

Stop giving all your power away by leaving this work to other people (“authority”) and then expecting them to humbly tell you precisely “what it all means,” “what is true” for you specifically, and “what God is saying.”

It’s important that you seek to discover the right interpretations.

To say “right,” I don’t mean to suggest that any one person holds “The Only True Interpretation.” Any given passage probably has a variety of valid meanings. I’m encouraging you to seek solid answers for yourself.

Do your own research and feel into what you discover.

Same Stuff, Different Day

Take the information you gather and really chew it over. Be willing to expand your awareness. Look for alternate meanings and see how ideas may fit in with other ways of life.

For instance, consider Moses' use of a staff to command water out of a rock while in the desert. Time and again this has been considered a miracle.

Is this true? I would argue not.

Among other subtle and layered meanings, this passage could well be alluding to Moses' knowledge of the art of dowsing, or divining, by which one can receive divine guidance using the movement of any of a variety of tools. With little effort and training, virtually anyone can perform the most basic of dowsing techniques. People use this practice now, and people used this practice several millennia ago.

In a second instance, consider the concept of reincarnation. Although Easterns have long accepted this, the West has mostly rejected it like the plague. Does this rejection, however, equate with a lack of validity?

I can’t help but think of Matthew 11:14 wherein Jesus states: “And if you are willing to accept it, John [the Baptist] himself is Elijah, who was to come.” For someone who usually speaks in cryptic parables, this is fantastically direct. The fact is right there yet the very religious leaders who hold this scripture as true continue to deny this meaning.

Otherwise, the accounts are plentiful of people who claim to remember aspects of past lives (birth location, hidden possessions, family members, etc.). While it is impossible to verify the validity of all accounts (some date to lifetimes thousands of years ago), many claims are made of lives just prior and have had numerous aspects verified as true. (See, for instance: Many Lives, Many Masters by Brian L. Weiss, M.D. and Twenty Cases Suggestive of Reincarnation by Ian Stevenson, M.D.)

As you make these connections yourself you’ll come to find that, although appearances change, the foundation of the messages remains the same across the board.

The Truth Arises in Nakedness

You may see your beliefs being challenged, maybe your religion declining, and imagine it to be the end of the world.

Is this what is really happening? Did the passing away, say, of the Greek pantheon spell the end of the world? Of course not. Humanity simply took a giant leap forward by recognizing that God is one, not many.

We don’t resist and mourn every time we take our clothes off before getting into bed. Paradigm shifting is no different. Actually, as long as we can detach, we see that what’s happening is resulting in something even better.

When we change our clothes we remain the same people, yet as our religio-spiritual traditions change, especially during a paradigm shift such as the one we’re now going through, we move so much closer to the truer answers of our most life-defining questions.

Traditions are merely a kind of dramatic clothing—appearances—under which all of the deepest truths of life, the universe, and everything reside.

Bound to Tradition

Another recommendation is to take a closer look at what your attachments to your tradition are actually bound to.

If you’re a Catholic, although you might tell yourself and others that following Catholicism is “the right thing for me to do,” you might well use such ideas to cover up that you feel a significant amount of guilt when merely thinking about doing anything the Church doesn’t approve of.

There’s no quick fix for this, but you can begin by acknowledging that this guilt and all the beliefs and fears that give it life were learnedthey are not innate to you.

Again, you might reevaluate scriptural passages. One that comes to mind is Mark 2:27: “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.”

Claiming justification under the third commandment, the Catholic Church adamantly demands that people go to church every Sunday lest they go to hell for eternity. Not only is this ultra-guilt-inducing, it’s as if the Church doesn’t even care that Jesus, the one who neutralized the weight of the Old Testament by ushering in the higher and lighter New Testament and around whom the whole religion is based, specifically says that this “day of rest” is not mandatory.

You must learn to see what is rather than what the Powers That Be want you to see. If you believe the words of Jesus, then believe the words of Jesus, not the Church’s interpretation of the words of Jesus.

Bound to Childhood Programming

For many of you, you’re probably not as bound to your tradition as you imagine.

Your resistance to change may well stem from a fear of breaking family expectation and a desire for parental and authoritative love, approval, and so forth.

You avoid turning down your tradition, and in turn your parents and authority, because you fear the absence of their love. But what can be said of this love, anyway? You have to work awfully hard to earn and maintain it, do you not? How extraordinarily conditional it is.

And do you even realize what you're seeking? The love, affection, and so forth that you desire is that which you vaguely recall your parents giving you when you were just an infant. Is that what you want, for your parents to dote on you as though you're a baby?

Perhaps you fear the wrath of your parents or perceived authorities for disobedience.

How old are you? Are you not, most likely, well beyond an age at which your parents need reign over your life?

Unfailingly obeying the fourth commandment of “honoring thy father and thy mother” is hardly appropriate when thy father and thy mother threateningly and forcefully dishonor your individuality by manipulating you so that they can avoid facing their inner discomforts and distortions.

At this level one’s religio-spiritual tradition is effectively irrelevant; it’s merely a backdrop in front of which greater psycho-emotional disturbances play out.

As with the previous guilt issue, there’s no quick fix for this. But I would have you consider these 2 vital points:
  1. What if the commandment to “Honor thy father and thy mother” is not so much about unconditionally honoring your parents as it is about honoring and balancing both your male and female “parent” energies?

    Men, for instance, so often act like “tough guys,” but the truth is that this is a facade. When a man is centered and true to himself, he also exhibits female characteristics of profound empathy, compassion, etc. He may never be able to exhibit these traits to the degree women can, but he does carry them and he must integrate them to be and feel complete. Women, remaining true to their womanhood, must integrate their male energies.

  2. You already have the love you so dearly thirst for.

    If you did not, how would you know such love exists to desire it at all? If you think because your parents had originally given it to you in childhood but then stopped, what about those who hadn’t received much if any love in their childhoods yet still seek it? Is not love known by its resonance within?

    And what, exactly, resonates? Surely you inherently resonate with and yearn for unconditional love. But simultaneously, being that your parents had carried their own psycho-emotional distortions which you had picked up and labeled “love,” is not this “love” merely some lesser energy-form that resonates with their distortions?

Stinking Herd Thinking

Due to humanity’s profound self-insecurity, one of the biggest inhibitors to change is the herd mentality so prevalent in religio-spiritual traditions.

I was talking with someone recently about the Catholic Church’s major pedophilia scandal that’s come to light recently in Pennsylvania (and other states).

What really grinds my gears about it (beyond the obvious) is how, rather than clergy members who are personally responsible coming out and personally apologizing for their personal misconduct, it’s seemingly acceptable practice for them, whether deacon or Pope, to continue hiding behind “The Church.” “The Church apologizes for…”

In the conversation, I said something like, “It would be so powerful if some average Joe Congregant would stand up and say to the preacher, ‘Dude, would you personally apologize already!? Stop hiding behind the Church! We come here every Sunday to learn the Word of God, and there you are, a bishop who it has been proven helped cover up the child sex crimes when they’d originally happened, and now you’re preaching love and salvation like you’re not guilty as sin!’”

The other person replied to me by saying that lots of people are probably thinking the exact same thing but won’t stand up and speak up because they’re afraid of what the other parishioners will think of them.

I agreed. It’s pathetic. That “God-seekers,” of all people, would rather repressively listen to unrepentant hypocrites than stand up for the truth and for the innocent, victimized children—long now traumatized adults—who the Church has spent decades overpowering and covering up. They would rather allow the guilty to walk free—even preach to them!—because they’re afraid of how the rest of the herd would judge them if they spoke up or walked away in disgust.

If you’re involved in this, you really need to make some adjustments. It’s like when someone asks, “Who polices the police?” or, “Who fact checks the fact checkers?” If you follow someone in a position of power, it is your responsibility to demand transparency, honesty, etc., and if they don’t give it to you, throw them out. It is only by your power, after all, that they have their power.

You need to take a deep look at what you really want. You may say you want love and peace and all that, but that’s clearly not what you’re getting which means that your actions, intentions, and strongest beliefs are not aligned with your words. And now, because we’re in a paradigm shift, you’re being forced to see all the suppressed evils so that they can be healed.

The more forcefully you refuse to acknowledge the truth and act upon it, the harder this change will be for you. Should you choose to act upon what you already know to be true, the change will likely still pose a challenge, but it will become far easier.

Life Is Change

It’s reasonable to sometimes show reluctance toward change; to feel uneasiness when moving into the unknown. But if you experience dread toward “the new” and reject those who align (or appear to align) with change (or merely what is “different”), your reaction is hardly reasonable.

This latter reaction indicates that something within you is calling out to be healed.

Again, keep in mind that the causes of your reluctance to change are all learned, for what is written into your very nature is change, is evolution.

Such is the way of all existence.

Is it not silly, then, to be so adamant about standing still?

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Fighting Fire With Fire

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



If we want to learn how to build a birdhouse, we would go to someone who builds birdhouses and have them teach us. We would then be able to build a birdhouse.

If we want to learn how to formally set a table, we would go to someone who knows how to formally set a table and have them teach us. We would then be able to set a table formally.

If we want to learn how to succeed in life, we would go to someone who has succeeded in life and have them teach us. We would take the knowledge and practices acquired and work our way toward success.


There’s a very logical cause and effect process to learning:
  1. We don’t know something.
  2. We decide to learn about it.
  3. We find one or more teachers in the field.
  4. We learn from them.
  5. We do what we’ve learned on our own.
Whatever we may wish to learn, whatever we may seek guidance regarding, this is the general process of how education works.

It’s a one for one deal. For instance, we don’t spend four years doing college-level coursework in engineering only to leave with a bachelor’s degree in fine arts.

This is the way it works in absolutely every area of life. We’re bound to pick up some information outside of our main area of focus, but again, we get out the equivalent of what we apply ourselves to.


As obvious as this concept is, or so it would seem, what’s strange is that in practice many people see violence toward children as an appropriate, even right, teacher of qualities such as “good behavior” and “non-violence.”

If anyone has ever done it, I would really, really like to know: Have you ever put out fire with fire?


There is a significant portion of people who come from the old worldview that believe violence is the answer.

I’m not referring, here, to warmongers, gang members, etc. I’m referring to average people: average people who even when they say they don’t believe violence is the answer, they do.

This is proven by their reactivity (offensive-/defensiveness) when interacting with others, their carelessness of how they treat their bodies (willfully poor eating, dis-ease, etc.), their disregard for other life forms (e.g.: “So I cut down a tree. I’m still breathing,” or, “They’re just dumb animals.”), and so on.


This is most pertinent in the area of raising children.

This is for the reason that the root of violence in any area of life stems from what one had learned in their earliest years as a result of the behaviors (words mean little if actions don’t align) of their primary authority figures.

Let’s assume, as occurs most commonly, that the authority figures are a child’s parents. If the mother and father had experienced a heavy hand when they’d been children, absent healing (which is almost always the case), the mother and father will place the same heavy hand on any children they may have.

Each of their children will experience this to greater or lesser degrees, and generational shifts will naturally ease the intensity of negative interaction. Still, the issue persists. Parents, like anyone, will rarely do other than what they’d been programmed to do.


So let’s say that parents would like their child to behave. Their son seems “too wild.” They tell themselves (and likely the world suggests the same) that, “We must teach our son good behavior.”

The problem is, the parents don’t know how to properly educate their son on good behavior because they’d never learned it themselves. They believe they had, but to some greater or lesser degree they are wrong.

When the parents had been children, they’d also been perceived as “too wild.” Their respective parents had used violence such as spankings, belts, slaps to the face, etc. to get them to behave. When they eventually ceased misbehaving, their parents ceased using violence, and both parents and children perceived the new behavior as “good.”


What passes completely under the radar in this scenario is that the children being abused did not learn “good behavior” merely because, by parental standards, they’d ceased to “misbehave.”

Fantastically to the contrary, this “good behavior” is rent with fears, false beliefs, and traumas; this “good behavior” is an external effect which is the result of a psycho-emotionally repressed personality.

The ones doing the damage only see the child as having “good behavior” because this personality reflects their very own psycho-emotionally repressed personalities.


By all means, some of these same parents may well have imparted positive behavioral traits to their kids. But this could only be because the parents taught those traits by active example.

It is in no way possible to teach true good behavior (whatever that even means) by way of violence. Such a “fire fighter” may like to think of him- or herself as having “good behavior,” yet by their very use of violence as a teacher they prove of themselves the opposite.


Please contemplate this. Please work this concept into your understanding of life and see how it may apply to you.

If you have kids, if you wish your kids to truly have good behavior, you must first integrate this awareness within yourself and then adjust your parenting methods accordingly.

Whether you have kids or not, when you are in the presence of children who seem to be “misbehaved” and you compulsively think, “That girl should be slapped,” or, “If I were that boy’s father, I would take him home and belt him,” please, self-inquire as to the distortions within your own consciousness that would have you willingly violate a child, or endorse the violation of a child, for the sake of easing what is actually your personal, inner pain.


I feel it’s such a cliché to say, but children are the future of this world. It’s thus imperative that the kids who are now coming here are influenced as minimally as possible by our old, broken programming.

We must stop fighting fire with fire. We must stop using violence as a means of teaching “good behavior.”

If we want our children to truly exhibit good behavior, if we want a positive future for humanity, then it’s on us, those who are here right now, to resolve our internal distortions—the one’s we’ve been carrying since long before any subsequent generations have come along—and be role models for these children.

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Staleness of Status Questions

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



While I was sitting in a waiting area a few months ago, a customer came in who knew the worker who was standing just a few feet from the door.
“Hey, Tim! What’s up?”
“Danny! Not much. What’s up with you?”
“Not much.”

[Five silent seconds passed as the customer took a seat.]

“So what’s up, Tim?”
“Not much, Danny. What’s up with you?”
“Not much.”

[End conversation.]
Then there was this other time…
“Hey, how are you?”
“I’m doing okay. How ‘bout yourself?”
“I’m doing alright. How are you?”
Uhhh… What?

Me No Likey

I’m not much of a fan of asking people questions such as, “How’s it going?” and, “What’s up?”

I ask sometimes. Sometimes I genuinely care, and sometimes it’s the arising remnants of a bad habit. But mostly it’s irrelevant to me what people respond.

Don’t get me wrong. I wish the highest and best for everyone and do my best to interact compassionately with them.

But to me this bit of introductory conversational programming typically seems forced and shallow.

Here’s why…

8 Reasons

Reason 1: Programming and expectation.
My sense is that asking “How are you?” kinds of questions is something that everyone does because everyone else does it.

And at least by my perception, it seems people expect you to ask them, at least as a follow-up if they’d asked you first, lest you be judged “rude” or “uncaring.”

Reason 2: Self-validation.
I think a lot of people ask these status questions just to hear their gums flap. Unconsciously they want to create an opportunity to prove to themselves that they exist.

They may care about the people they ask, but more than that, they want to start a conversation so that they can reaffirm their own voice, opinions, beliefs, fears, experiences, behaviors, mannerisms, and so on.

Reason 3: Lying.
Plenty of people lie when asked how they’re doing.

We’re taught, sometimes harshly, that we’re supposed to be happy and agreeable all the time. We’re taught, if not through word then action, that if we’re unhappy and disagreeable then we don’t deserve love, affection, approval, etc.

With this sort of programming, people tend to either say they’re doing well even when they’re not and then maintain a facade, or they say they’re doing well only to break into a Negative Nancy sobfest as though it’s not completely contradictory to their claimed wellness.

Alternately, consider an experience we’ve probably all had a time or two in which someone responds to our inquiry by smiling and saying they’re well but are obviously feeling some kind of negativity toward us.

Maybe they resent us, maybe they’re jealous of us, or maybe whatever. The point is, they force a smiley, “all is well” exterior, but some cue they reveal unwittingly screams, “I’m only doing this to be agreeable! I hate you!

Also, think about some of the less common situations this lying issue could come up in.

A job interview is one. Most likely you would be welcomed with, “Hey. How are you doing today?” Even though you might be unsettled because your kids were misbehaving, you’re in the middle of a divorce, and you forgot to put deodorant on, expressing any of this would provide a poor first impression.

You’d like to be honest, it’s right to be honest, but sometimes people don’t accept that “life happens.” It’s a catch-22.

Reason 4: “Poor Me.”
I don’t want to open myself to a Negative Nancy sobfest.

If I start off by asking someone how they’re doing and they tell me they’re lousy, it seems to me that there’s an expectation that I should take the bait, put on a frowny face, and ask, “Oh, you poor thing. What’s wrong?” Since the forthcoming response is often evident in some way prior to the question being formed, I usually don’t even ask the question.

Once again, I wish people the highest and best. But in my experience, the majority of the time people are lousy it’s because they don’t bother making any true, positive changes in their lives. Why do I want to listen to other peoples’ stories of he-did-this, she-said-that, self-victimization?

The “Oh, you poor thing. What’s wrong?” response may sound compassionate, but this is far more sympathetic than empathetic: a person offering sympathy falls into the other’s issue and becomes trapped in the victim’s negativity, while a person offering empathy remains detached and allows the issue to be as is.

I’m not a sympathetic person. I will offer empathy, but to the victim empathy is dissatisfying because it doesn’t energetically support their “poor me” programming.

Reason 5: Attempted proof.
If I ask, “How are you?” there’s an expectation that you should care about me as I seem to care about you, and so you should reply with an inquiry as to how I am.

I feel that “How are you?”-type questions are sometimes therefore used, unconsciously, as a way for people to attempt to justify either that they’re helpless, powerless victims or that “all is well.”

By playing this tricksy inquiry game, I can be sure that they will ask me how I’m doing if I ask them first. This will provide me an opening to “legally file a complaint.” Or, They’ll feel guilty if I ask them how they’re doing but they don’t ask me, so they’ll certainly ask, and then I can tell them I’m doing okay. If I keep telling everyone I’m okay, then surely I must be okay.

Reason 6: I don’t like shallow or forced conversation.
I generally don’t like when people ask me status questions.

On one hand, I see certain of these inquiries as useful as conversation starters. For instance, if I see a friend, I don’t have an issue with him or her asking what I’ve been up to; I have no problem asking them the same.

On the other hand, these inquires more often seem like a useless nicety. How many times do you meet an acquaintance and offer hellos followed by status questions as the sum of the conversation? The former piece acknowledges one’s existence which is fine, but what function does the latter piece serve?

I’m reminded here of my occasional experience at the grocery store. I get in the checkout line and the cashier mournfully says, “Hi. How are you?” She is so unhappy and seemingly couldn’t care less, asking the question likely only because it’s company policy. These people would probably be incrementally happier by the mere removal of this must-ask constraint.

Is a simple, “Hello,” or a, “Good morning,” and a smile that inadequate?

Reason 7: I’m not so sure others like being asked, either.
Maybe sometimes. But think again of the cashier. When she desolately asks me, “How are you today?” Does she really want to hear, “I’m great!”? Does she really want to hear, “I feel lousy”?

And does she really want me to reciprocate by asking how she’s doing? Maybe. I don’t know. But I can see how she’s doing. She looks like she might leave her shift only to go jump off a bridge. It almost seems to me like asking would be a sarcastic cheap shot. Far better off, maybe, to say something silly to lighten the mood.

Otherwise, I’ve had plenty of encounters where the “How are you?” part of the conversation just seems “off.” It’s as though everyone knows the claimed “okay-ness” is no reflection of their respective realities, but no one wants to acknowledge it; in a way people feel like they’re having their lives pried into by more or less of a stranger who they don’t wish to divulge any information to.

Reason 8: It may be nosiness and privacy-denying.
Consider situations when you see an acquaintance across a parking lot and they yell to you, “HOW ARE YOU!?” Or maybe you’re leaving your house and someone sees you and loudly asks from halfway down the street, “HEY! WHAT'S UP? WHERE ARE YOU HEADED!?”

Like, really? “I'M OFF TO THE DOCTOR! I'VE BEEN HAVING SEVERE TESTICLE INFLAMMATION AND MY WIFE SAYS I LACK ENERGY IN THE BEDROOM!”

I’m the kind of person that will share a fair amount of personal information. Just look at this blog—I probably won’t ever know most people who read it, but I’ve not exactly hidden many of the woes and wonders of my life. Yet I've written these things willingly and, 99.9% of the time, in an appropriate time and space.

It seems not everyone has the filter needed to recognize what is and what is not appropriate based on factors such as the closeness of their relationship to the one in question and the environment they’re in. People lack both situational awareness and adequate respect for the privacy of others. Trouble is, they don't see this, as this requires that they've first developed internal situational awareness and self-respect.

Add to this that people generally give a lot more attention to the negatives than the positives.

If I feel lousy, whether I like it or not, to tell many people my truth that I feel lousy causes them to attach negatively to me. This creates an appearance, inadvertently and undesirably on my part, of a request for sympathy. It’s also, apparently, a call for the other to ask, “What’s wrong?” (Which is rather biased considering that when you tell someone you're doing well they don't ask you, “What's right?”)

But I don’t want any of this. I’m not asking for sympathy or a pity party or to give away TMI health information. I simply answered the question because I was asked.

Life as a Rollercoaster

Taking a different approach, a worthwhile question to ask is: How realistic, how practical, is asking someone how they’re doing, anyway?

A man is super happy at 4:00 because he just bought a new car. By 4:02 he’s pissed off because someone cut him off on the highway. On arriving at home he’s happy again because his wife had a delicious dinner ready. Then shortly after dinner he is unhappy again because his wife insisted on watching CNN.

When someone asks us how we’re doing, we don’t always go to the same place for the answer. One time we might answer based on our overall disposition, another time we might answer based on a recently suffered trauma, a third time we might answer based on how we’re feeling in the moment, and so on.

This makes the source of our answers to the “How are you?” question so very variable and flimsy. Include in this all the drama mentioned above, and, well, how much value can our answers really have?

The Truth Is Within You… And in Plain Sight

As we do inner-healing work and spiritually-oriented practices, significant portions of life become irrelevant to us. This is not necessarily to say that we don’t care about them—we still may—but we increasingly see people, places, things, and situations in both the proper context of our life paths and the greater scope of existence itself. We cease grasping for drama and so enable ourselves to see what is with compassion and detachment. We expand our conscious awareness to the subtleties of life that reveal the truth beyond the superficial.

Let me rephrase two particular points:

Firstly, since significant portions of life become irrelevant, we cease to invest ourselves in what all of our neighbors are doing or what our father’s brother’s friend that we think might be in the next aisle over at the toy store has been up to since we last saw him 23 years ago.

By all means, friendliness is great—this isn’t about having an apathetic attitude. But when we open up to what is true for us, as individuals, we can’t help but see the extraneous as extraneous and thus irrelevant (unless it becomes relevant). Rote acts of meaningless data collection such as habitually asking status-type questions become undesirable.

Secondly, the opening created through self-decluttering allows intuitive insights to come to us internally about the people, places, things, and situations we could once see only coarsely and believed we had to seek answers about by external means. With intuition, the truth is often presented without any need for overt inquiry.

Facial tension is noticed, voice nuances are noticed, energy fields are noticed, facades are noticed, bodily posturing is noticed, breathing patterns are noticed, and on and on and on. Sometimes intuition zaps information directly into one’s mind with no apparent reference to external details.

This information speaks volumes compared to the emptiness shared through most status-based interactions.

Conscious Conversation

I once watched a clip from a Mooji Satsang in which Mooji responded to letters.

(For lack of better recall on my part…) Somehow tying it in to the validity of Mooji as a spiritual teacher, someone had written in saying that Mooji always seems to be followed around by attractive, young women; what’s the deal? Is he dating them or something?

(Again, as I roughly recall…) Mooji replied that he’s not “with” any of them and that he barely even knows them. He operates an ashram/retreat center and the women feel intuitively guided to help him. Maybe some are in relationships, maybe some are not. Same could be said about whatever else their lives entail. He knows almost nothing personal about any of them.

In a much more overarching way, this bit with Mooji is the epitome of what I’ve been getting at. People talk so much about so much, but ironically, were we to look at the true value of what we’re saying, we’d find that we’re often saying very little about very little: we’re repeating the same things over and over again and most of them add little-to-no real value to our lives.

In saying this I’m not suggesting that we should all become Moojis or hermits or take vows of silence or anything like that. This is about being self-aware and making conversation conscious.

When we’re living in a state in which our conscious awareness is enamored by trivialities, our attention is scattered and shallow. This makes us unable to discern and focus on the things of greater import that can only come to us when silent and still within.

And this is pivotal, not simply because, hey, look at the benefits, but because these benefits are the very things we’ve been unwittingly seeking in all of our unconscious interactions with others.

Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Black and White in a World of Color

by John Boodhansingh of Zero Mindfulness



“I’m a nice person,” he says.

Is he right in saying this?

He thinks he is. But it might be worth his while to do some self-inquiry as well as ask for a second opinion.

Maybe a third and a fourth.

And consider these opinions seriously.

The Partiality of Polarity

Consider these dualistic poles:
  • nice/mean
  • smart/dumb
  • good/bad
  • selfless/selfish
  • saint/sinner
  • pretty/ugly
Can anyone really be described in such simple terms?

In certain cases it may be subjectively so.

I can think of a number of utter psychopaths within the U.S. government, for example, who are phenomenally “mean” and “selfish” and are basically walking definitions of these words (and worse) in every way imaginable (and unimaginable). Every move they make is an attempt to benefit themselves while harming the rest of humanity. Even toward their own kind, they would stab each other in the back in a heartbeat if they deemed it for the best outcome.

But regarding the average person, judging ourselves and others in such a polarized manner isn’t very useful.

After all, we’re more or less choosing one word to describe a whole; we’re choosing a single, intensely polar descriptor to define someone who very most likely exhibits a variety of characteristics depending upon his or her circumstances.

Circumstantial Evidence

There’s a guy I used to work with who had made me (read: who I had allowed to make me) utterly miserable. I’d held a hard set judgment that this man was nothing but a self-serving jackass. Almost a decade after I’d left the job I happened to have a brief conversation with a stranger who also knows the guy. The stranger said to me, “Oh, you know [So-and-So]? He’s a real friendly guy. I know him from [such-and-such].”

To this I just sort of smiled and nodded. I didn’t quite know how to respond. A few years prior I’d let go of my resentment and anger toward the guy from work and acknowledged his authentically friendly and well-meaning side; but knowing his shady work ethic and having had some less-than-kosher intuitions about him, toward the stranger I was left feeling like, Well, if that’s what you think…

Their relationship and the circumstances under which the guy I used to work with and the stranger interacted were completely different from those of the guy from work and myself. Due to this, the stranger and I had both come to very different assessments of the man.

I imagine that you’ve had this experience: If you’ve not eventually broken down after holding a strong judgment of someone—this “someone” possibly being you—and then seen them in more detail, then you’ve at least judged someone for better or for worse only to talk to somebody else who judged the opposite.

My early judgments against the guy from work were heavily skewed toward the negative. I’ve heard many other people in my days who have exhibited similar: every time a certain person’s name comes up, they get grinding away at that person as though he or she is evil itself. Conversely, there are those who may judge positively—way overly positively as if the ones judged are without flaw.

To this we need to ask: What makes us so “sure” that those we judge have no other noteworthy traits, positive or negative, that would expand our narrow viewpoints?

Seeing More of Less

Some folks might answer this question by saying that they acknowledge both the positives and the negatives of others. This claim could be valid, but caution is advised.

For instance, I’ve had many experiences in which people have acknowledged my positive traits, yet only when acknowledgment was convenient to them.

In other situations, for whatever reasons any given person may have had, although they’d acknowledged my positive traits, they were still subconsciously carrying a cover-all notion of them as “better than” and me as “less than.” This inhibited them from truly accepting the fullness of both my positive traits and the totality of me as a person. Their view was like looking at me outside on a sunny day but with sunglasses on—I was seen, but dimly.

Similar can be said of racism, classism, partisanism, theologism, and so on. These are internal filters that strongly skew our ability to see life realistically. This can be so even if we haven't subscribed to such ideologies but our parents or grandparents had. Generational separation offers some of its inherent time-based healing, but as children we're likely to still find remnants of these programs within ourselves.

So just because any of us may seemingly see more clearly than those who are magnetized strongly to either pole doesn’t mean we’re free of thorough perceptual distortions. Indeed, our perceptual dimness may be so all-surrounding or subtle that we don’t even realize the dimness exists.

Self in Every Other

To generally answer the above question differently, we’re so “sure” that those we judge lack other noteworthy traits—positive or negative—because we perceive others as we perceive ourselves. We cannot do otherwise.

For example, if someone deludes themselves with ideas of “all is love” and “everything is perfect” because they fear facing repressed inner turmoil, they’re necessarily going to see others as “loving” and “perfect.” Although others hurt them, their mind distorts their perception in order to justify non-action since calls for action require the uncomfortable inner notice of I hurt and am afraid to stand up for myself.

Sometimes fear-based naiveté may be the cause. Politicians and citizens are a great example of this. Everyone knows that most politicians are scumbags who can’t help but destroy everything they touch. And yet, every year, people still vote for the same idiots who don a smile while lying through their special-interest teeth and trash-talking others during their campaigns. “They mean well, but we’re all flawed,” some may rationalize. Or, “It’s a tough job.” No! These people are sick, and the common man is still self-victimizing and savior-seeking.

A third potential (and the final one I’ll mention but not the last) for polarized judgment is the fear of change. To the extent that we’ve built our lives on faulty ideas is the extent to which we will have to change our lives in order to accommodate what is true for us. For instance, we find that we’re much “safer” when we judge ourselves “good,” “nice,” “loving,” etc. while judging others by their resonance or dissonance with this bogus polar-positive self-image. This allows us to deny what is in the mirror, so to speak, and thus evade our fullness.

Due to this same fear: By denying ourselves the space to change, we cannot but be offended when others change. “How dare you not be the person I’ve identified you as in my mind! How dare you do your own thing and unwittingly shine light on my faulty beliefs!” In extension, when others change contrary to our beliefs about them, for fear of having to change our own thinking, we may stubbornly maintain them as the statues of gold or stone that we’d initially made of them in our minds. Or, because we’re simply unable to occupy a space of variability, we may flip completely from one judgmental extreme to the other. “You don’t want to eat meat and drink beer the American way anymore? Well, eff you!”

Should you look within, I’m sure you will see what I describe here. You will see that the way you perceive others is simply an extension of your own inner world. You create self-judgments just as you’d been taught, and you project them, or some derivative thereof, out into the world around you.

Universal Blame

I have to stress that this topic very much concerns the average person.

I don't doubt that many people would read this and quickly think, Me? Nah. I'm not that extreme. Perhaps you're right. But it's also quite possible that your non-contemplative denial is your unwitting admittance.

Aside from the other strongly dualistic judgments as noted here, several times I've heard people go to an even greater extreme. When speaking of humanity and global events of the last few centuries or so, people have made despairing comments such as, “God needs to just drop a bomb on everyone and start life all over again.”

This phrase may sound socio- or psychopathic, but the people who I've heard say these things are not hellbent on evil, as such—they're just average people who have very poor, powerless/helpless self-images and thus see all of humanity in the same tragic way.

Which means that God doesn't need to drop a bomb on everyone and start life all over again. We simply need to stop imagining that people are who we imagine them to be.

We can accomplish this by ceasing to imagine ourselves to be who we imagine ourselves to be.

Polarized Education

We’ve come to inhabit a state of consciousness in which intense polarity of judgment is a defining trait. Yet because we’ve had to repress to get here, our perceptual distortions are unconscious to us: we see and judge accordingly, but we have no actual awareness as to what our perceptions are according to.

This polarization begins with what we’re taught by “authorities” when we’re children.

If we pitch a fit or don’t do our homework, “You’re a bad girl!” or, “You’re a failure.” On the other end of the spectrum, if we get good grades or do just as mommy and daddy say, “Oh, you’re so smart,” or, “You’re such a good boy.” We’re blessed and cursed in such a dualistic way.

Not that this is any better, but it’s not like we ever hear either, “You got a ‘C’. You’re such a mediocre boy.” Or, “This is our 8-year-old, Stephen; our most par-for-course child.” Indeed, at least by my own perception and as one who struggled through school, my sense was always that a “B” is reasonably acceptable—but you better keep studying!—while a “C” is effectively an upper-level failure—you’re “maybe sort of okay-ish,” but your worthiness of love and your potential to not be a complete failure in life just took a major hit.

Tack on to all of this the influence of issues such as sibling rivalry and other potential childhood traumas and the result is an intensely repulsive force pushing one’s thoughts and perceptions far out of balance.

Left unchecked, this aberration of awareness perpetuates as all I’ve just described and then some. It hangs around our whole lives and clouds every interaction (direct or indirect) that we have.

In this state, it’s difficult-to-impossible to accurately evaluate one’s self, and thus equally or more difficult-to-impossible to accurately evaluate others.

Seeing Real People

By all means, we can all have a subjective view of life: we are each the subjective eyes that experience our individual worlds and we will remain that way however we may change.

But we would be very wise to separate the wheat from the chaff within our minds.

First and foremost, this will remove the mental shroud of sharp polarization that we've been perceiving life through for so long. With continued cultivation our perceptions will clarify and the less we will have any desire or apparent need to judge others at all.

We will come to know a balanced subjectivity with a strong, non-judgment-based foundation of objectivity. This will provide us with both a well-honed discernment and the ability to compassionately see other people, not as black and white, but as the colorful beings they truly are.