1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 25: “Do Not Recollect the Past, Nor Desire the Future.”

Learn to feel the blessing of being able to inhale and exhale. Don’t take a second for granted, instead take advantage of the health you have and the time that you have to experience life. It may be another hundred years, or it could be over in the next second. Civilization’s attempt to create a completely convenient society where nothing is out of our reach has turned us into entitled consuming machines who believe that, in order to stay relevant in today’s world, we need to be the first to buy the newest products which are released. We simply cannot let life pass us by, we cannot become outdated, our identity cannot become obsolete. In our minds, we must do everything within our power to be successful. Why is it that so many of us chase a success which leaves us utterly dissatisfied with our lives in the very end? It’s because we believe in society’s shallow definition of success. We believe that more is always better, so we go through life always looking for more. By becoming completely caught up in our desperate, never-ending quest for more we unconsciously decide to ignore the little things, all the special moments and connections which make up the magic of human life. I am forever thankful that I was blessed enough to be born to parents who value wisdom. My parents have always been representatives of righteousness to my brothers and myself. They never wasted time with useless things, and they always tried to convey a positive message in every sentence, sharing their years of wisdom. For a long time I didn’t want to be like them, seemingly simple people. However, now I understand that indeed I do need to simplify my life. So many of the things some of us spend a lifetime chasing may not even be what’s right for us, but yet we think we know. It isn’t until much later that we realize we’ve wasted years on something of little or no value, all the while neglecting the blessings all around us. Life has truly passed us by now, all because we didn’t want it to pass us by. I recently reading Aldous Huxley’s novel “Island.” Huxley’s always been one of my favorite authors, but the more I read the more I recognize his pure literary genius. He really has a way to make you feel the philosophical and spiritual concepts he is trying to touch upon within the lives and dialogues of a different characters. In ‘Island’, we find that the story’s main character is filled with a deep sense of regret since he feels he killed his wife. On the night he told her he no longer wanted her, that he wanted nothing more to do with her, she walked out the door with a final goodbye. And little did he know it was about to be final, since she was about to die in a crash in the heavy rain outside. Did he drive her to her premature? He rejected his wife since he was interested in someone else, someone sexier, someone much wilder. She was quick to do away with him after the wife’s death though. It’s not clear if Will would have chose to remain with Molly if he had the chance to do it all over again, but in the end he does learn that his attitude had been wrong all along, and that he had neglected the blessings of his past, he had preferred to remain somewhat detached, cynical, never surrendering to the beauty of life. Such is our condition way too often, and we don’t realize it until it’s too late. On a personal note on this, these past few days I’ve been really feeling some of the bliss of being in the moment, not complaining, which is my new goal, and simply allowing things to be, accepting, really being thankful for each small blessing. Today however, for some strange reason, I started having thoughts about my music, about why I don’t make as much music nowadays, why I barely ever write lyrics anymore. The spiritual outlook I’ve developed during the past few years have really took away some of my motivation to rap, for a lot of complicated reasons. The point is that today I was contemplating the past, wondering why my attitude changed towards my music, why I can barely get inspired nowadays. I know some of it has to do with not wanting to say too many stupid things anymore, limiting my music only to things I know will lift people up, rather than pushing them further down into a materialistic mindset , or worse, into totally destructive habits. Rappers nowadays think they made it out of the system, and they flaunt their cash in their music videos. They don’t realize that they’re simply promoting the same system that made them suffer as they grew up, a system which is willing to torture, to sacrifice its own people, for the sake of money, of power and status. This is what dealers of dangerous drugs are doing, both legal and illegal. Crack dealers, pharmaceutical companies, heroin smugglers. When we are willing to contribute to people being trapped in such detrimental slavery as drug addiction in order to get our pay, we are surely degenerating. Yet this is promoted and celebrated in hip-hop, anything to get your money, to survive, to not be another victim of the struggle. Animosity and paranoia is the fruit of holding such a view. The point is that, due to this and some other things, I no longer feel the same drive to rap, as I clearly see that bullshit sells. Artists are rewarded for promoting consumer culture and even evil. I was thinking of the past today, of how I used to have the same mentality of ‘money by any means.’ I was bound for success, there was no question about it. Now I feel a lack of certainty, like I won’t be able to make it if I never sell out, which I’m not willing to do. After worrying for a while though, I read my daily sutra, and I was reminded not to worry about it any longer, as I encountered this passage, which I believe I was meant to read exactly today, the only day of the week when worry about the past arose in me:

“Do not recollect the past, nor desire the future, The past is over, the future has not come.
These things of the present, see them with insight as they arise. Not faltering and not moved, think about them. Today itself-the dispelling should be done. Tomorrow death might come” ~ Ánandabhaddekarattasuttam Sutta

A clear reminder to leave the past in the past, and to work diligently towards the future, but without worry, and unattached to the possible fruits of my labor.

~ To be continued tomorrow, on Day 26.

~ Rebel Spirit

1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 21: Family Fun, Living in the Moment, Huxley’s “Island.”

I’m at Maria’s family’s house for the day. Her brother Luis picked us up at home last night and brought us here. Whenever we come we bring some pizza and everyone has a great pizza dinner, everyone talking in a lively manner, some on the computer, some on their phones, but everyone interacting. Although my own immediate family (parents and brothers) are back in Canada, it’s great to have a second family here in Honduras, apart from my grandparents and uncles, etc. Everyone’s been very welcoming during this past year and a half that I’ve been married to Maria, and from what they say as well as how they behave towards me, I can tell they consider me part of their family. Maria’s little brother Kevin is about to complete the sixth grade, and his last week of school is coming up, final exams and everything. Here in Honduras, seventh grade is the first year of high school, so finishing the sixth is a big deal. We watched the second Iron Man movie in the morning, Maria, Kevin and I, and now we’re just taking a break from having studied the past few hours. So far we’ve reviewed some math and some grammar. It’s great to help this little guy learn, and I hope I can be as positive an influence as possible during the time we spend together. I feel like I have a new younger brother, and he seems at least a bit more excited to study with me than with anyone else. We don’t study every weekend, but on most weekends, usually on Sundays when we come to visit, we do some studying. It feels good to let go of my own schedule for a while and become absorbed in helping someone else, especially a growing child about to reach adolescence in a few years. As I believe in the inherent goodness within all humans, I know that this is why it feels so good to help. Our study sessions also help me with my spiritual practice in various ways. As I mentioned, they provide a way for me to take the focus off myself, my own plans and preoccupations, and to focus completely on giving my best in every aspect to another being who is at a critical stage of life and growth. Apart from this, it helps with my patience. Kevin’s a lively kid, upbeat and full of life. This is great, although it often means that he can’t sit still for too long and is always trying to distract me from my teaching. He tries to grab his phone and show me YouTube videos, and sometimes he even asks questions or mentions an idea he’s had recently about some topic he finds interesting. I don’t shut him down, instead I usually interact with him and allow him to show me what he wants to show me. It’s true that we often take even double the time we might actually need if we focused completely on studying with no time for pause, but I feel that the only reason why he even quiets down to study for some moments is because of the connection we are building as we talk, as I allow him to express himself without stopping him mid-sentence and yelling to get back to work or to pay attention. Kids are full of energy, energy we lack too often as adults, and instead of showing them that this energy is evil, and forcing them simply to sit and follow rules, we should encourage this energy, and once they’ve shown us what they want to show us, then we can remind them that we have to have a balance and that we should do some more studying. I don’t know if this is the most efficient way to learn, but I guess it’s been working for him for the past few months. Maria usually does most of the math studying with him, and I do most of the reading or grammar studying, so it’s great to have grown up in an English-speaking country, since it allows me to help him to learn everything correctly and to hear a fluent pronunciation. Anyway, now that we’ve done some studying, I decided to do some writing, so that I have time to work on my other goals later when I get back home. I wasn’t sure what I should write about. This being my twenty-first day straight of writing a thousand words a day, I feel I might be running out of things to write. Actually, what’s happening is that the simplest topics, or the ones I understand more fully, have all been notated up to this point. The topics I have yet to write about are all deeper, spiritual concepts, and I feel I need to take some serious time to not only write these ideas down, but then to organize them in order to publish them in a fashion that makes sense, that isn’t all over the place. That isn’t the point of this experiment though, of writing a thousand words a day. This is supposed to be more freestyle. So as I wondered for a moment what I should write about, it dawned on me. I’ve been having a great time all morning, absorbed in the task of studying, or of helping Kevin study, and so I decided to just write about the simply beauty of that moment. Just last night actually I finished reading Aldous Huxley’s “Island”, and it really impressed me in the way in which it is able to convey such deep topics in the context of people’s personal lives. It delivers certain spiritual ideas in such a powerful way, more powerful than any philosophical treatise in a way. One of the most important topics in the book is that of simply being in the moment, in the here and now, of simply being completely aware of each moment, accepting all that comes, understanding we are essentially divine, meaning that the real part of us cannot be harmed by pain, or by pleasure. It is always there, undisturbed, and it is essential that we learn to reconnect with our pure state of consciousness, with being in the now. Still meditating on the depth and meaning of this great novel, I decided I’d simply write about the great experience I just had before I started writing, the experience of being in the moment , forgetting myself as I shared what I could, selflessly, with another human being. 

To be continued tomorrow, on Day 22.

~ Rebel Spirit

The brain as a filtering mechanism for reality.

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As individuals on this planet, we all experience reality from our own level of perception and understanding, and from this we conclude that reality is not a fixed truth, but rather subjective, depending on each person’s view on various aspects of existence. This means that two people standing side by side can be experiencing completely different worlds while standing no more than a meter away from each other. Indeed, this is so on a merely mental level, since the non-stop, limited thoughts and ideas of our egos prevent us from ever joining in unison as an entire species. However, this is not to say that we are each floating in our own bubble of reality and are completely separate from everyone and everything else either. There definitely is one Absolute Truth behind the universe, the world, and all that we call reality; and there is undoubtedly one single Divine energy, fragmented into endless bodily incarnations. By Divine, I mean that the energy which pervades everything that exists emanates from God himself.

Since we as spiritual beings have been placed in this material world for whatever reason, the fact is that we must survive; and so that we might survive in the face of destruction, which takes place every day in our planet, we have been gifted with a wonderful instrument called the brain. The brain, as great as it may be as a tool for physical survival, is actually a filter which prevents us from seeing every single perspective there really is to see when it comes to any given situation. We cannot perceive all these perspectives because their understanding lies in facts beyond what our brain perceives, both within and without us. This is, in fact, an incomplete version of complete reality.

huxley.jpgAldous Huxley proposed this fascinating idea in his book The Doors of Perception, suggesting that the brain is actually a filtering mechanism which decides what parts of complete reality are relevant to our current situation and needed for survival, and basically blinds us from everything else which does not fit this purpose. This means that the brain was primarily designed to deal with material existence, by processing complete reality, which cannot be seen through any one man’s personality or bias, and presenting us with an incomplete version of reality which only includes the details the brain deems necessary for our current, physical survival. This version of reality is the finished product, so to speak; the rendered version of reality that we see with our eyes. As has been scientifically observed, when one uses psychedelic drugs, there is actually less activity in the brain, as opposed to more. This is not what one might normally expect when one considers the overwhelming and even frightful images or dream-like thoughts that one experiences during a psychedelic trip. This peculiarity was precisely what led Huxley to his hypothesis of the brain being a filtering mechanism. How could the brain produce such an altered state of consciousness by using less of its own activity?

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The Doors of Perception and Heaven and Hell, by Aldous Huxley

It is logical to assume that these realities which we experience when we relax the use of our brains do not come from the realm of mind at all, but from the spiritual dimensions which are all around us yet invisible to us. The idea is that psychedelic drugs, as well as other methods such as fasting and meditation, lead us to these mystical experiences since they temporarily weaken the filter, or brain, which prevents all these aspects of reality to be perceived during daily, sober existence. This does make a lot of sense to anyone who believes that there is some sort of spiritual reality beyond this material existence and our senses. If there is truly more to life than what we see with our eyes or hear with our ears, then perhaps the brain really is the thing that prevents us from seeing all there is to see, or hearing all there is to hear, and with good reason at that.

Although experiences such as occasional psychedelic trips and fasting can be extremely beneficial to spiritual awakening and complete consideration of the mystery of life, can you imagine living every day of your life in an acid trip? Comically, we might joke around about what bliss it would be if we could live free of responsibilities, wandering up and down the bright landscapes of such an altered dimension forever; but the fact is that we would not be able to lead so-called “normal” or productive lives, as I believe is something most experienced psychonauts can agree upon. Just contemplate how time and space are described by spiritual masters to be illusory aspects of the physical world. Is it a coincidence that a small dose of psychedelics can make us forget about our schedule, and a large dose has the miraculous ability to completely alter our sense of space, not to mention making time completely disappear as if it were such an irrelevant and insignificant thing?

Mystical experiences can give us a glimpse of divine gnosis, but eventually we must come back to our material reality and put what we have learned to use, finding creative ways in which we can contribute to the well-being of other sentient beings in any way we can. If we do not put acquired knowledge to good use, it is just that; knowledge, with no purpose. However, when we start to actively seek opportunities to use what we have learned in order to promote positivity in our environment, what we are doing is allowing ourselves to constantly surrender to wisdom, allowing it to speak from our true Self, the reflection of God, and to build strength of character within us. Such is the way in which Divine wisdom begins to show us the right path to walk, refining every aspect of our character. It is very true that knowledge is definitely important, and it is even synonymous with power according to the famous Albert Einstein quote, but ultimately it is wisdom which allows us to use the knowledge we have acquired in intelligent ways, ways that can inspire, build and contribute to civilization. Never stop learning, but never become so immersed in your learning that you overlook the wisdom you can build by applying your knowledge to reality.

~ REBEL SPIRIT ~

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