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1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 71: Humility and Balance in Life and Spirituality.

What is addiction and what is recreation? Where is the line between harmless fun and reckless behavior? Are some addictions worse than others, and if one doesn’t mind being addicted, then is it a problem? Life is about balance, as I’m sure we’ve all heard or perhaps realized for ourselves, and Buddha suggested we follow the Middle Way. But what is too much of a good thing? Is there such a thing? What is not enough evil? Wouldn’t we all be free to finally feel at peace if all evil were eradicated? Would we though? Is duality necessary? If it is, why should it be so? Unfortunately I don’t have all the answers, but I am willing to ask them, and I’m sure some good has to come of it. Some say we must have faith, and I agree, but faith in who or what? If evil is a part of life then, is this God’s perfect plan? Is there something wrong with it, or is it just that we are not at a level from which we can see what it all means, why it’s all necessary? Is life all a game, or is it extremely serious? At times we feel one way, at times we feel another. How can we find a balance between the two, and should we even attempt it? Some might blame God for having created such an evil world, but they don’t realize that their own use of their ability to express themselves is only possible because of their existence in the world. Evil is within us, just as it is outside of us, and we all have the potential to treat others in horrible ways in which we would never want to be treated ourselves. Should we despise our own existence and kill ourselves because we were born imperfect? Doesn’t it make more sense to try to understand why we were born this way? There must be some reason for it. Isn’t there any inspiration to be found in our lifelong struggle against our own evil, in persevering towards achieving a goal, towards setting our life straight, or a certain area of our life, and coming out successful in the end? What if there is a much deeper meaning to life than just seeking pleasure? Could this be the reason why some of the most damaging things in life, for human beings, are also the most pleasurable? Maybe the bitter aftertaste that follows certain forms of pleasure is there to help us, to guide us so that we may search for the truth, so that we don’t spend a lifetime chasing after alcohol, or drugs, or sex, or money. Some things are not evil in themselves. Sex is holy if it is treated with respect and used in its proper context, but it has been degraded to such an extent, that it is now one of the easiest ways to get lost in the petty search for pleasure. What turns good into evil, holy into blasphemous? A lack of balance does. Now, regarding the doubt as to whether this is God’s plan, whether he meant, if he did create the universe, to have evil be a part of life, I can’t say that I know, or that I’ve looked deeply into the subject. However, in the Bible, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and ate from the forbidden fruit before the snake had even appeared to them. If the forbidden fruit was what made them be aware of good and evil, being the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, then how could they have committed evil deeds, such as disobeying God, before having eaten from the tree? Eating from the tree was an act of disobedience, but if they were created perfect, then why did they fall for the snake’s dirty trick? And where did the evil snake even come from anyway? If God made everything good, then how could an evil snake, a lying snake, come to speak to Adam and Eve, to tempt them into doing something wrong? Perhaps God meant for there to be temptation in this physical world, maybe so that we might learn to overcome it. Would there be any meaning in an action movie without a bad guy for the hero to take on? If there isn’t a bad guy then there’s some sort of conflict to resolve. I’m not saying that life is a Hollywood film, but life is sort of like a movie except that there is no guaranteed happy ending. Life depends on our choices, and even if some think that our fate is sealed, that history is already written and set in stone, it sure doesn’t feel that way. If we can’t feel like it is that way, then at least we should try to make our lives meaningful, even if it’s just for us. Take a second to sit back, relax, meditate, leave the stress behind just for a moment. Analyze every aspect of your life, and you are sure to find much meaning. Some you have always been aware of, some you have neglected for a long time and left to the side, and some might come in the form of a sudden, new realization, a surprising epiphany. Once you think about what is important in your life, about what is meaningful, you will see that, in order to progress in each and every one of these things, you will need to work at being much more balanced, and at having more self-control in general. This practice of cultivating self-control is actually the first step into a spiritual way of living. Self-control means that the real Self, the only Self, is controlling the illusory self, the physical and mental self, the physical and mental projections which are perceived by my mind in order to create an identity of who I am, along with the name given to me by my parents at birth. The more self-control we practice, the more we will live a balanced and healthy life, and the clearer we will think. We can’t have all the answers in life, but we shouldn’t become cynical because of the world’s apparently hostile nature. We should be humble, and we should seek to understand, for we are very small beings in a much, much greater universe, more meaningful than any of us could ever imagine.

To be continued tomorrow, on Day 72.

~ Rebel Spirit

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1,000 WORDS (2nd attempt): DAY 65: All Work and No Play Makes Jack A Dull Boy.

Sometimes we think we’re the only ones who know how to really live life. We laugh at others who spend time thinking about or working on other things, things we personally could care less about. But we all have things we are interested in, and we all like to spend our time differently. We are free to do as we wish, all of us, and it is only natural that all of us would like to spend our time differently, seeing as how we are all very different and unique people. It’s true that some things are more productive than others, but who says that all activities have to be productive anyway? Some activities are done just to have fun, such as most games for example. Some games teach things as well, but the main idea behind a game is just to have fun. Some games allow us to win, or to lose, while some games are endless, they can’t be beat, and some are for one player, while some are for multiple players, so we see that the main purpose of a game is not always competition, it is simply to allow a person to have fun. Is there anything wrong with games because they are not leading up to anything productive? Are they simply a childish distraction from life? Not at all. We all love games, from small children all the way to elderly people. Babies are basically born playing, and whenever I visit my grandparents they’re diligently trying to fill in all the blanks of the newspaper’s Sudoku or crossword puzzle. Games like these are actually quite productive, since they allow us to exercise our thinking, as well our problem-solving abilities. It was actually a game of Sudoku which I played today, a game I’ve never seriously played before, which got me thinking about writing about this today. It was challenging, and I really had to use my brain. It took me quite a long time to fill in all the blanks. If we make a habit of doing such an activity every day then we will be sharpening our minds without a doubt. But apart from these productive games, there are many other games which, as we’ve mentioned, are not so productive. Should the playing of such games be avoided or kept to a minimum? In a way yes, but in a way no. I was never much of a gamer, but my youngest brother David really loves video games, and has a number of different consoles with different kinds of games for each one. My dad is always nagging him about reading a book, and sometimes I jump in as well and mention the fact that reading is a great way to learn about life and the world, but I feel bad because I don’t want to make it seem like gaming is an inferior activity, like he’s wasting his time by having fun. It’s true that we can become addicted to video games, that we can dedicate way more time than necessary to our progress in any game, but the games themselves cannot be blamed. We need to look at the attitude of the player. Everything in life requires balance, so it’s not good to do nothing but play. But the opposite is also true, since people who avoid all kinds of fun and games and are completely obsessed with study, or philosophy, or religion, or with any other scholarly subject, are often missing out on a lot of joy in life. Such people are usually attempting to cut fun out of their lives since they feel that it is a necessary sacrifice, one which they are willing to make in order to finally achieve that great success they are dreaming about. Not everyone can reach the greatest heights however. Many people go through life despising all the good things they’ve been blessed with. They can’t stop to play with their children, they can’t have a fun moment with their wife or husband, and they can’t let their children be children either, since they are always trying to get them to grow up. Other parents never teach their kids responsibility, and this is a great mistake, but to teach nothing but discipline with no time for fun is not good at all either. When I decided to stop drinking and smoking excessively, to start reading philosophical and spiritual books, to start meditating and trying to live life right, I unfortunately became a bit obsessed for a time. I was sick of my old life, and I knew that I needed to make radical changes in my life in order for me to really be able to change, in order to see some real results. The discipline was definitely needed, but one thing which I regret is having been so uptight about it in the beginning. I desperately wanted to change, and so I hoped to spend every second of the day meditating, reading, learning, watching documentaries, etc, and I started to look down at the world, as if everyone everywhere is always wasting time, as if people are simply passing the time without doing anything productive. I felt like this had been my life up until then, drinking and partying and wasting time, so I saw nothing but that in people’s lives. I was bothering my wife about playing too many games on the iPad, I was complaining to her, asking why she doesn’t like to read more, or isn’t more interested in spiritual or philosophical subjects. Everyone has their path to walk, and learning to live life right should not cause us to become more serious than it is good to be, it shouldn’t turn life into one long sacrifice, and it should not cause us to look down at other people simply because they don’t choose to spend their time in the same way as us. Sometimes all we need to do is to stop worrying, to sit back and relax, and to play a game and forget about the stress.

To be continued tomorrow, on Day 66.