All posts filed under: Spirituality

Can you Be Present AND plan for the Future?

Pop-culture’s Enlightenment Error “Happiness is only achievable in the present moment.” “To be present you must put aside thoughts of the past and future.” “Just breathe, trust, let it go and see what happens.” Statements about being present are multiplying as quickly as smoothie shops.  Mindfulness websites, motivational wallpapers, and Instagram captions recycle and repurpose ancient wisdom into naïve platitudes that briefly catch our attention as we scroll our lives away.  Quotes paired with photos of smiling yogis, poised on mountain tops, implant into our minds the idea that happy, enlightened people spend life sitting cross-legged, ignoring responsibilities, and breathing – nary a thought of the future and certainly no planning necessary. Somehow they blissfully and serendipitously sashay through life, free of career goals, relationship goals, or worry about what to cook for the kids tonight. Undoubtedly, compared to neurotic fretting, this carefree notion of being present is helpful.  If you’ve totally lost control of your environment and your emotions – you really messed up big time – well then, jettisoning any thoughts of the past or future …

What Show Jumping Teaches Us About Injury & Illness

5 Reasons We Hate Being Injured, Anxious, and Sick 1. Pain This is the obvious one!  Being sick or injured is physically uncomfortable and sometimes pain perception increases as the duration of pain increases.  Research indicates that anxiety and social pain is processed in the brain like physical pain.  Some people experience more distress from pain than others. 2. Free time to worry or regret If athletic activities are part of your daily routine, an injury or sickness suddenly creates a gap in your schedule, giving you time to ruminate and worry.  Perhaps you’re experiencing regret, replaying past choices, berating yourself for doing something that caused the injury or sickness, or trying to remix the past. 3. Decreased productivity Being fully or partially out of commission decreases productivity.  This creates uncertainty about future productivity and stress about deadlines.  We are used to working at full capacity and efficiency, so any hindrance carries the possibility of creating stress. 4. Loss of a healthy outlet for stress and anger You might use physical activities as an outlet for stress and anger. …

Understand Maslow’s Hierarchy to Prepare Yourself for Personal Growth

The 20th century psychologist, Abraham Maslow, created a theory of human motivation that has been highly influential in psychology, sociology, philosophy, ethics, and business. Unlike many other psychologists who focused their studies on various mental illnesses, Maslow studied human excellence and what makes humans healthy.  For that reason, Maslow’s theory is relevant to you, as someone who presumably wants to be healthy and happy, too. Maslow’s theory provides deep analysis, but at the same time it’s quite intuitive, meaning that you’ll understand it and instinctively agree. Once you understand it, you can apply it to your own life and become ready for self-motivation and growth. Maslow’s Hierarchy – 5 Tiers of Needs Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is illustrated as a five-tiered pyramid. Needs get more complex as we climb the pyramid.  The base tier are physiological needs for eating, drinking, and sleeping.  The next tier is the security need, satisfied by immediate safety and savings for the future.  Above physical and security needs are social needs, such as friendship and intimacy.  The highest of the …

Should You Fear Death?: A reply to Chi-Tsung’s argument against fear

Not where the monk Chi-tsang lived.  Definitely one of my travel photos from Ngong-Ping, Hong Kong (2018) The Buddhist monk Chi-tsang (549-623) (吉藏 , Jizang; born Sanlun Zung) on his death bed said: Man cherishes birth and fears death as he does not understand the true aspect of birth and death.  Death originates from birth.  Therefore, man should fear birth instead of death.  If I were not born, then I would surely not die.  If birth, the beginning, is realized, then death, the end, will surely be known.  In this sense, man has to be sad about his birth and need not fear death. In other words, human fear of death springs from ignorance of metaphysical facts about existence. When we recognize that the necessity of death actually comes from the state of being born, then the result should be that we transfer our fear to birth (as the source of death) and fear birth instead. Reductio ad absurdum It’s difficult to recognize it at first, but in this quote Chi-tsung provides a reductio ad absurdum argument, …

Philosophy for Real Life: Theories of Truth

As a lover of philosophy, I often think about truth. But I was at a party on Friday night and a colleague asked me exactly what I mean by “truth”.  Suddenly, I couldn’t explain what I meant! What is truth? By age five you had heard the word and probably even used it.  Now as an adult, it’s difficult to (non-circularly) explain what “truth” refers to.  In this blog, I’ll teach you three ways to think about Truth/Falsity of statements, then talk about two distinct types of truths.  Finally, we’ll consider a truth that adds meaning to daily life and enriches your closest relationships. Truth and Falsity So your friend calls and says excitedly she’ll come pick you up in her new car. She shows up in a used 2008 Camry.  You’re slightly miffed because you were expecting something 2018 or more recent (you got out of bed on a Sunday for this?!) “I thought you said you got a new car,” you say casually, not wanting to hurt her feelings. “Well, that’s the truth …

Sorting out Compassion, Pity, and Love

I started reading a book called The Unbearable Lightness of Being. It’s philosophical fiction and ripe with existentialist themes.  You find it on Library Genesis.  The story is about a womanizer and, at one point, he considers his unusual compassionate feelings towards a woman he is sleeping with. He says, To take pity on a woman means that we are better off than she, that we stoop to her level, lower ourselves. That is why the word compassion generally inspires suspicion; it designates what is considered an inferior, second rate sentiment that has little to do with love.  To love someone out of compassion means not really to love…  (Chapter 9) This passage really caught me off-guard – my intuition is not the same as the author’s.  Does compassion imply a power or hierarchical relationship in which one person has pity for another?  To me, the word compassion has always meant co-feeling and suggests companionship and shared emotions, including joy. Read It and Weep Let’s see what the Oxford Dictionary has to say: Compassion: Sympathetic pity …

Life Lessons At the Xerox Machine

A lesson for self-acceptance from an unlikely place Yesterday at work I walked by a co-worker who was having some difficulty with a new printing system that had recently been installed. She sighed and explained to me that I was lucky since I was new and didn’t know the old system at all. She was used to doing things the old way and, therefore, had to break old habits at the same time as learn the new ones. I, on the other hand, merely need to add a new habit. I thought to myself, “How profound this idea would be, if applied to daily life.”  How can we cease to struggle with habits? Is there a way to change our mindset to live in the freshness of each moment and thereby become excited for change?  Do we need habits? Any advantages? Habit is an essential part of human existence.  Our muscles and minds are habit-forming machines. In fact, if you didn’t have an “autopilot” for most daily tasks, you’d be overwhelmed within hours. You’d likely spend so …

Psychology of Competition: Why you don’t Value what will make you Happy

Our Inconsistent Set of Values As a society we say that “it’s what’s inside that counts.” However, the fact of our ultra-busy, career-chasing lives, and the billion-dollar beauty and med-spa industry reveals that we actually seem to think it’s the external things that give us value. Why is there this split between what we want to value, what we say we value, and what we actually seem to value? When theory is put into practice in the values we want for ourselves, why don’t we place inner beauty and a loving heart above an LV purse and a fit figure? The inconsistency in values is sadly apparent in the gender wage gap.  Traditionally, professions staffed by sincere, caring, and dedicated women such as nursing and teaching pay less than professions that focus on production of a specific good or multiply money. Now, I am in no way anti-capitalist (I’m rather a “status egalitarian”: human rights and esteem for all.  A discussion of its economic ramifications is for another day!).  But consider those things that truly …

Why Critical Thinking Is SO IMPORTANT

Some people tell me they don’t understand critical thinking & philosophy.  Or at least they don’t know why I love it so much and spent $$$ money on a university diploma in philosophy.  They’ll agree that it’s good and we should teach it to children.  But then, they still can’t tell me why. So let me tell all of you. Critical thinking makes you aware of your thought patterns and feelings about topics in life. Becoming aware of your thoughts and feelings is self-knowledge.  Critical thinking tells you who you are right now. Even if you don’t like yourself right now, you can try to understand yourself.  But why should you bother trying to understand yourself? Because there is no use hiding from yourself. You can try to hide from yourself by distracting yourself with hobbies, travel, drugs, alcohol, friends, reading, gambling, eating, watching television, fitness, and more travel, etc.  But when the money runs out and when the fun stops… there you are.  The hide-and-seek game always ends with you being found, and then …

Fasting Benefits: Weight Loss, Mental Clarity, Anxiety, and Anti-aging

Keywords: fasting, natural remedy, health, anti-aging, mental health, anxiety, ketogenic diet, spiritual growth Yesterday I fasted and today is day two. I started on Monday night at around 9 pm and have only had tea and sparkling water. I was feeling a bit dizzy this morning so I had some salt and nutritional yeast. I broke my fast this evening with vegetable fish-broth soup and beef brisket (with no ill effects!) at Deer Garden Signatures in Vancouver on Fraser Street. Yum! Why fast? The idea of going without food for at least 24 hours, and still not yet knowing when I’ll eat again, might seem crazy to some people. Most of the times I’ve told people that I am fasting, I hear a version of one of the following: “That’s not good for you! Starving yourself is unhealthy.” “You’ll make yourself sick.” “You’ll become anorexic.” Well, now, none of those are true about fasting. First of all, consider that every major world religion and culture has some mention of fasting for health. Biblical religions prescribe …