Sunday, December 26, 2010

Compassion Without Egoism

We share this planet with almost 7 billion people, and we've never met most of them. They are faceless strangers. We don't feel them, see them, communicate with them or even get to share our intimate thoughts with them. They exist only in our minds, even though, like stars in the universe, we see them, but we don't interact with them, at least in a personal way.

Similarly, there are millions of  faceless people in this country who are dying every day from violence, hunger, and self-induced addictions, and we don't know anything about them. They, too, are faceless numbers with no real connection to us, except as we imagine them to be.

Many of us form relationships with people based on the information we get from television, books, movies, or other forms of communications. From this information, we forge psychological relationships based on the information we have about who they represent to us. From this data, we pity, despise them, and some situations, we vicariously suffer with them

As many of us know, it's difficult to express genuine compassion for others, particularly those we don't know personally. So, in the face of such daunting challenges, many of us feel overwhelmed by the sheer numbers. We have no idea how to begin to connect with seven billion people, much less express compassion for them. In the main, their lives have little or no effect on us.

People dying in Afghanistan, Iraq, Africa, Europe, or China don't evoke tears, deep grief, or a feeling of lost. We don't take off from work, request a leave or absence to attend their funeral or anything like that. We just read about their deaths or watch a report on television, and continue on with whatever we're doing.

Whenever a star dies in the universe, we don't grieve about it. Most of us don't even notice its absence. And whenever people die in other places, we don't even miss them. We explain their deaths within the context of social and political correctness. In other words, we might opine about how horrible it was for so many soldiers, women, and children to die in the war zones.

Are we suppose to care about the death of others? If so, what level of pain does this cause us? Obviously, we are not responsible for their deaths. So why should we feel any compassion for them?

Compassion for human life is inextricably tied to our self-awareness of enlightenment. The more enlightened we become, the greater our compassion for human life. We are able to connect ourselves to the lives of seven billion people and know that their suffering affects the lives of all of us. Their suffering is important because we are important.

Our abilities to express compassion is rooted in our understanding of relationships. We are related to people in the manner we are related to animals, plants, and even stars in the universe. We are all connected to each other and our existence depends on each other. While this might seem silly, perhaps even too difficult to comprehend, it is something that we all must embody if we desire to achieve enlightenment.

Our victim-driven minds cause us to seek selfishness by embodying egoism. We are here, others are there. WE must take care of ourselves by creating psychological and physical walls of separatism. And from behind these walls of separatism, we begin to express compassion in isolationism by denying our relationships with others.

When we gain the insights to tear down the walls of victim separatism, we are able to understand that compassion originates in us. We must first express it in our own lives. WE must have compassion for ourselves, especially whenever we are feeling inadequate or victimized by problems in our lives.

As enlightenment-seekers, we are constantly searching for results to measure our compassion. Some of us believe compassion is the ultimate goal of an enlightened mind. So we are mindful of our actions toward ourselves and others. And whenever we feel out of sync with our actions, we sometimes judge ourselves  harshly.  We cannot seem to find any compassion. 

Meanwhile, on the enlightenment journey, we are always mindful of where we are going. This means we are constantly vigil of our actions and how we interpret them. If we slip into victim consciousness, then we tend to misjudge them.

So it's important for us to understand that we are on a journey to overcome victim beliefs by achieving enlightenment. And that compassion is one of the tools we are using. It's that simple.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Overcoming the Holidays' Anxieties

As we near the Christmas, Kwanzaa, and other holidays, most of us anxiously await the happiness we anticipate having from these events. It doesn't matter what's happening with the economy, wars, celebrities, and so on, we're focused on creating happiness for ourselves and our families and friends.

Many of us can barely contain ourselves. We need so much to make us happy. Most of our needs must be met by money. We need money to shop for groceries, clean the carpet, get the bedrooms ready for guest, and fret over the amount of time we need to do all of this and cook, too.

Some of us try not to think too much about money. This only brings up what's really happening in our lives. So it's much easier to forget about it now, and just go ahead and spend what we need and worry about how we're going to pay for it later. After all, we opine to ourselves, it's only money, and we'll only being adding an additional $25 to our monthly credit card payments.

Nevertheless, problems aside, we just want to be happy during this time of year. To be able to sit down to a sumptuous dinner, listen to family laughter, watch football games, and enjoy the boundless energy of young children running and laughing is priceless. Regardless to the debts, fears, worries, doubts, and insecurities, they pale in comparison to the happiness we are seeking.

For some of us, we can only imagine the happiness. We are mourning the loss or absence of family members. Our family structure has changed. And these changes have disrupted our happiness. So we are trying to restructure happiness without the loved ones missing from our lives. These missing feelings can become quite depressing if we allow them to fester, untreated, in our minds.

We become attached to people and connect them with holidays. When we do, we create regrets, needs, and desires for permanency. These are the things that cause us to feel unhappy and depressed. Yet, without our memories, we might find it difficult to enjoy the holidays at all.

One of the greatest obstacles on the enlightenment road is our attachment to people and events. It's important for us to understand the power attachments hold over lives. To do this, requires an understanding of attachments and our desires to achieve permanency in our lives.

To live with attachments to people, holidays, and other trappings create unfavorable conditions for us. While we desire everything to remain in much the same way, we know, at least at a deeper level, that it's not possible for us to have permanent relationships. And while we might want to plan for the holidays to be the same as they were years ago, unfortunately, this is not possible.

The joy and happiness of previous holidays are not transferable to the upcoming holidays. Each holiday has the potential and power to express its own joy and happiness. This means we must be willing to let go of the past and focus on what's happening in our lives now in order for us to enjoy the happiness of today.

Similarly, we must understand clearly that all moments are transient and contain within them all the potentialities we need to live happy lives. So, instead of thinking about what's missing from our lives, we must begin focusing on what's in our lives now. And this includes people, finances, health, and so forth. In other words, if nothing is missing from our lives, then we are complete.

On the road to enlightenment, we find many opportunities to grow. The upcoming holidays are such great opportunities for us to take the time to live free of regrets, sadness, and the need to recreate happy moments from yesterday's memories.

Conversely, we have the opportunity to control our insatiable appetites for food, material gifts, alcohol, sports activities, and concentrate on being happy with the moments we have to talk with family members, who one day will only be memories.

Meanwhile, whatever we think or believe about a particular day is how we prepare for it. If we change how we think about each day and live it with desires for happiness, then they become our holidays. In other words, we don't have to set aside a few days to enjoy happiness with our families, we can do this any day we choose to.

Personal Note: I wrote "Seeds from the Ashes" to share with others how it feels to be overcome with regrets, fears, worries, doubts, and so on. It's a tool to assist those who feel powerless to change their lives. And like all books, it's not the final word; however, it's an uplifting experience during this time of year. "Seeds from the Ashes" is available on

Friday, December 10, 2010

Can we Really Change our Behavior?

WE are continuously seeking ways to change our behavior. There are seemingly limitless "how to" programs marketed to every day. Many of us try them, but they don't seem to work for us. WE seem to hold on to our lifelong habits. 

Some of us are beginning to wonder if these programs are nothing more than marketing gimmicks. We believe that if any of the self-help programs -- religious and secular really worked, then we would already have changed our behavior. Yet we know that they haven't worked for us and perhaps others too. So what do we do about our problems?

The goal of change is tricky. WE believe we can do it, but we truly never feel that we can do it in all aspects of our lives. We can stop drinking alcohol, smoking cigarettes, using drugs, overeating, abusing people, creating mountainous debts, and so forth. While these are great accomplishments for some of us, they don't represent authentic change in our behavior.

Whenever we feel anger, hatred, and suffer from insatiable cupidity, we still need some more work to do. And by acknowledging these self-described shortcomings, we are also acknowledging the difficult problems we have with changing our behavior. In other words, after the alcoholic stops drinking, he or she still suffers from numerous other problems, which may or may not ever be solved.

So, what's the sense in seeking changes in the first place. Well, for starters, we discover things about ourselves that we don't like. Some of the things are pointed out to us by others, while others come from self-discovery. Regardless to the source of them, we want to change, remove them from our habitual lives of victimization.

As enlightenment-seekers, some of us believe change must be rooted in an enlightened view of ourselves. We must first envision ourselves as being whole and complete. This allows us to perceive ourselves as faceless, colorless and formless beings. And as such, we are free of the misinformation that caused us to believe we are unattractive, black, white, yellow, or brown, and with physical impairments.

The process of envisioning ourselves as faceless, colorless, and formless is a simple one. It is one we all must undergo if we seek to become enlightened -- awakened to what's causing us to suffer -- and live our lives from a whole and perfect perspective.

Some of us share information on enlightenment everyday, because we know it has lasting benefits. We know it is authentic change; the change beyond the cherry-picking of specific problems. Enlightenment is available in its purest form to all of us. And for those who seek it, change is effortless, except in those instances where we cling to our old beliefs and habits.

Today, we begin the journey with the desire to know who we are without our self-imposed limitations. This ever seeking examination of our lives will undoubtedly lead us to the light where we can clearly see that we are responsible for our own problems. And we are also responsible for solving them.

Many of us know this proposition of change by accepting personal responsibility for our own suffering is a difficult one for beginners to accept. That's why we share information on enlightenment to encourage people to trust themselves by valuing their lives.  To trust ourselves is the cornerstone of our search for enlightenment.

We are here in the world now. We will all leave at some point in time. In the meantime, if we all seek to become enlightened, we will leave here knowing we contributed to increasing the light in the world. That's the goal of change.

 "It's better to give (enlightenment) than to receive (victimization). This the true meaning of giving.

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Search for Leadership

Today, there's a frantic search for leadership among the masses in this country. We feel oppressed, powerless, and leaderless.  We want someone to tell us what to do.

Whenever we crave for leadership, we devalue ourselves. We minimize our power of creation. We separate ourselves from our problems. We vicariously exist in the mythology of the Superman complex. And we do all of this to ourselves without any assistance from anyone.

The victims of the world desire so many things that we believe we cannot achieve on our own. We define power as an institution, a society, or a government. We bellow to ourselves and other victims how great it would be if we could become a part of this great power. This inclusion would free us from our suffering so can lead the other victims out of their suffering. We become self-proclaimed leaders of victims.

The victimization of people is caused primarily by our search for someone to solve our problems for us. We search for leaders whenever we feel things are not going well in our lives. And when we feel powerless individually and collectively, we search for like-minded individuals to share our grievances and gain their support.

We believe the more support we have from other victims, the more we can find a leader to lead us from our suffering. Sadly, this never works.

We can have a million victims come together and they are still victims. Our conversations, strategies, and actions epitomize the social phenomenon of victimization. WE are fatally flawed by the biblical stories of someone coming to save us from our own beliefs and actions.

No, we are the ones responsible for whatever problems we have in our lives. It's out actions that's causing the suffering in our lives.

In our search for leadership, we overlook ourselves. WE forget that our problems are self-created. WE forget that the power of love, peace, wisdom, freedom, creation, abundance, and power are within us.

WE are the leaders that we're searching for. WE have the power to lead ourselves from the suffering that's causing us to devalue ourselves. 

Most of us searching outside of ourselves for answers to our problems, are condemning ourselves to lives of suffering and victimization.

Victimization is not limited to color, class, or status. It affects all of us who crave for things -- money, fame, institutional power, and so on -- to overcome our suffering. Unfortunately, suffering is found in the things we crave for the most.

Nevertheless, we continue to believe there's someone in the world now or is coming later to save us from our own deleterious behavior. We believe we can turn all our problems over to someone else to solve for us. And this someone will overcome the problems we have with illiteracy, crime, poverty, dependency, and so forth.

There are some salient questions we need to ask ourselves about the mythical leaders we are searching for.  

What skills will they possess? How will they overcome the societal suffering affecting all of us? And why can't we possess the same skills and overcome our own suffering? The answers to these questions undoubtedly opens the mind to see clearly the folly in such a search.

One illustration of the magnitude of our problems is found in education. Children who have been victimized by their environment  sit in classrooms and use the same text books, listen to the same teacher as the rest of the students, and continue not to succeed. 

What do students hear or think that causes many of them not to achieve the desired success? What prevents the students from reading, studying, turning in homework?

Is it racism? Oppression? Laziness? Lack of motivation? Victimized minds? What? It's something and it's been happening to children for hundreds of years without any really meaningful progress.

Whatever victimizes our students also victimized us.  We are their guardians. Yet we want someone to do something for our children that we are unable or unwilling to do ourselves.

We want leaders to magical transform the habits of children who have been beaten down by society so badly that life has have very little meaning to them. Unfortunately, they have been conditioned to accept powerlessness, and its ancillary effects of failure, long before they enter the classroom.

Meanwhile, solving our problems is more complex than a mythical leader created from the visions of victims. We need to enlighten our minds to overcome years of feeling inadequate about who we are and the power we have in this world.

The transference of power from others to ourselves is a psychological action -- an action of our minds. This doesn't require an outside leader.

So let's work to get over this nonsense of outside leadership. There's no one in the world better equipped to lead us than ourselves. We know what's happening in our lives.

We only need to get the inspiration and will to do something about it. This will and inspiration comes from an enlightened mind that's free of suffering. When we do, the world will look much different to us.