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 We simply cannot let life pass us by, we cannot become outdated, our identity cannot become obsolete.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 8: Your Mind is Programmable.

Your mind is programmable, and if you are not the one programming it then best believe someone else will do it for you. As I was growing up I felt so free while I chased a reckless sense of pleasure which I hoped would never end. I chased one thrill after another until I grew weary of thrill-seeking. Even though I often felt much freedom, I realize now that I was deluding myself. I was being programmed by the thoughts and ideas of those I looked up to, and I didn’t even know why I looked up to them. I wanted to fit in, to belong. I thought I didn’t but I see that I did. I didn’t choose not to fit in, at least in my younger days. I just didn’t fit in. I felt that I was cursed, like I could never truly connect with anyone on an intimate level. I felt like there was something wrong with me, like I was just inherently worse than everyone else, different, an alien creature to be tolerated. I don’t remember when I first had this idea, but it has always been with me to some degree. I watched rappers in music videos playing around with huge stacks of money, surrounded by supermodels and shiny new sports cars, not to mention all the jewelry and expensive attire. I believed that the system was holding me back from reaching that goal which I desired so much, to be a famous writer and rapper, and to travel the world basking in the glory of my international fame. Foolish dreams, I see now. Fame is a monster which can consume one and trouble one to the core. I think I can do without fame. As for money? It is natural to live and breathe for money, to chase and to cherish it when one has no interests beyond the worldly, beyond the temporary, beyond the transient. As I’ve gradually awoken from the illusion, I find myself losing interest in money. I no longer care about it, and the thought of it incites boredom and monotony. There is no substance, no meaning, to money, yet we are constantly programmed to chase it and value it above all. The media fills us with images of what we supposedly need to look like if we are to be popular, of the things we need to have if we are to call ourselves ‘successful’. These are all lies, and no matter how well we may understand this, our mind picks up these lies and stores them in our subconscious. If a lie is listened to enough times it begins to be believed by the listener. The masters of mass advertising study the many subtle methods which can be used in order to manipulate the minds of the masses, to subconsciously suggest a product or an idea, to create the feeling for a need which was never even considered before. The media plays on our insecurities, it tells us that we need this to be cool, that we need this to be healthier, that we need this to be skinnier, that we need such a thing to be more muscular. There are masters in the field of advertising nowadays who are professionals at exploiting our desires, even the pettiest ones, and creating a market from this newly created need. What to many of us is life, what we obsess over and cry and struggle for, what we work and save up for, all that we spend the majority of our lives chasing. All of these things are just numbers, are just dollars, are simple figures to those who manufacture them. There is no difference in the way they see those who create the products, the workers, and those who consume and use the products, the general population. The corrupt system which we live in has reduced us all to figures, to numbers, to indispensable zombies to conduct their experiments on. Because we are comfortable, and because we do not want to have a nervous breakdown, we ignore this wicked state of things. We are okay with it because we do not know exactly what we are missing out on. We don’t see that the system uses its many tools to keep us confused and complacent, to keep us taking one step forward and two steps back. It does this through mental manipulation, through advertising, through product placing in TV and movies, through music and music videos, through social norms, and even through foods and products which cause lethargy and even serious health conditions. We all claim to distrust each other, and we see the rest of humanity as competitors in the game of life, we believe that we need to outsmart them in order to move forward, in order to see any progress in our lives. We are so blind that we can’t see that this is exactly the aim of those in control, of those who we really should distrust yet we blindly trust. We trust what the government approves, we trust what the doctor tell us, we trust what we see on the news, but why? Why, if we are so quick to distrust those we encounter throughout our days, are we so quick to trust those who we do not know? Why don’t we begin paying closer attention to what we are watching, to what we are listening to, to what we allow to be on around us? We must do this if we wish to be free, since no matter how sincere our intentions may be, we can never change if we continue filling our minds with garbage. The spirit is superior to the mind, but once it has a good understanding of what is beneficial and what is detrimental for the mind, it must begin the process of holding the mind subject to the necessary changes. The mind will struggle to change, and it will follow its oldest and most undesirable habits, especially if they help us cope with pain and stress. Often these habits are the very ones we wish to change in ourselves, yet the need to change stresses us our to the point that we can not control ourselves from following these destructive habits. We need to be painfully aware of the divine Spirit which we are, and the more we practice doing this the more we will be able to program our minds with positive ideas, even when surrounded by people who speak pure stupidity and ignorance. We must make our highest ideals habits within our minds, we must create healthy habits that will allow us a better quality of life in the future. When one is not sure what one stands for, one is easy to manipulate. It is then extremely easy to fall prey to whatever propaganda is stuffed into our brain, since we do not know who we are or what we are here for. The end result is that we do whatever it takes to maximize pleasure and to minimize pain, and this becomes the most dangerous habit of all. 

To be continued tomorrow, on Day 9.

~ Rebel Spirit

Learning From the Past: Mistakes are Meant to be Made.

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Take a moment to think back to the past – how incredible it is: the subtlety with which time passes. Take any given memory, any scenario, and follow its consequences as far as you can into the present. Think of any direct consequences as well as indirect, abstract ones. The law of cause and effect is active in our world, and all actions have an infinite amount of effects which we cannot perceive or even begin to imagine. Vibrations are emitted and received by us all, even at the subconscious level. New ideas which we hear and see are constantly merging within our minds, forming pathways to endless possibilities, slowly taking shape, to be manifested at some point, somehow, somewhere. As a person, you can think back on major events in your life as well as small ones, and you can follow their effects to see where they have brought you. Like Bob Marley inquired of us through his powerful music, let us ask ourselves if we love the life we live, let’s really begin to sincerely question our life satisfaction. If we are not where we would like to be and we cannot figure out why, then the answer lies in our past. The answer lies in the habits and behaviors we’ve allowed to be built into us by the past we have lived. If we examine the past and everything that brought us to this point, we can learn from our mistakes and our achievements, and as this becomes a habit we can begin to create change in ways we never imagined we could before – or perhaps we imagined but we dared not believe. Once we have mastered this practice of self-evaluation, we can do the same with major events which have taken place in the world.

Now, although the outcome of this practice is all for the good, we cannot underestimate the power of inquiring into the worst moments of our past, both individually and collectively. We can study many inspiring moments – independence days, liberation days, revolutions, but we can also study and reflect on many unfortunate events which have taken place in our planet, such as catastrophes, war, massacres, inquisitions, holocausts, genocide, natural disasters. We can and must – all of us – learn from the past, not only our own, but the collective past that makes up what is known as human history, of every culture and civilization – how it rose and how it fell. The goal is to examine the past from a present point of view, from your current, more evolved standpoint, after having fully recognized and understood the position of the people of the past, of course. If what we are examining is a past evil, then it must be a perfect example to us of how not to behave in the present and future. We cannot however, under any circumstances, allow past memories to drag us through the feelings we felt during those times in our own lives, during times when we felt insecurity and fear, or shame or guilt, or anger or hate, or unbearable attachment to someone or something. And we certainly cannot carry around resentment for something terrible that was done to our ancestors, whether it happened hundreds or thousands of years ago. We simply cannot get emotionally involved with the past if we wish to sincerely examine it and learn for our own benefit and improvement as well as that of the world and the universe as a whole.

We need to look at our past selves as the ego’s identity at that moment, and we cannot begin to beat ourselves up for what we have done. We have to examine without emotion, frozen cold, as if we were observing someone else’s life – it is always easier to see what others are doing wrong than what we ourselves are doing wrong, quite simply because we are attached to our “life”, meaning our past. We fail to realize that the past is not alive, it is not real. All we have now are memories, stored in our brains – imperfect, fleeting memories. These memories allow us to evolve, to renew ourselves, to never make the same mistake again. We need not look too far into history to see how the various situations of the past, both good and bad, can be applied to the present in some form. Any culture’s history teaches us a lesson we can apply in our own lives, every philosophical and spiritual text is a glimpse into the wisdom of past cultures and civilizations, of devoted and inspired men and women. Like them, if we look carefully and calmly into the past we will probably find that there has been a lot pain. Pain is necessary to toughen us up, and pleasure is necessary so we can appreciate life. Too much of either will end in evil, and this is something we can all find if we look at our past or the past of the human species. The endless desire, the passion and the hunger for more – more land, more wealth, more people to control – is what has caused such calamities as those that still go on today – the conquest of land at the expense and death of innocent women and children, the killing of millions of people because of a disagreement in ideas and ideals, the manipulation of the mind for monetary gain. It all connects us back to now.

Take a look at society and see how the system still embraces evil at its core. In Venezuela the people currently starve and there are simply no basic supplies such as toilet paper. People are leaving and abandoning their children. Protesters have been killed in peaceful marches against armed government forces. People recently stopped rioting in my home country of Honduras, when the protesting created no change at all, except for destruction of public property, businesses and banks. The corrupt government in Nicaragua, Honduras’ neighbor, which has basically been in power for over thirty years is on the brink of being overthrown. Lula, the former president of Brazil has been sentenced to prison for twelve years for money laundering and corruption. Once they had pleasure, fancy cars and clothes, money stacked to the ceiling. Now they sit in jail. Big drug lords and their families are murdered every day. Yet the musicians promote drug dealing and consuming. The pharmaceutical industry promotes the use of antidepressants and pain pills, sleeping pills. While they get rich, we now have more school shootings than ever before, as well as opiate addiction and overdose. Many people get drunk to the point of having no control over themselves and end up killing innocent people when they get behind the wheel. Actions have reactions, consequences. Pleasure leads to pain quite often, and not all pleasure is the same. Neither is all pain equal. Some is inevitable such as the death of a parent, but some we create for ourselves since we refuse to let go of our attachments to things or people. Study the links, the connections, the works that have brought you to your now, the ideas which you have embraced and have led you to this moment, examine the ideas that contributed to the concertizing of those bigger ideas. Examine what you felt or thought about a certain situation or person at any given moment, but do not allow yourself to fall in the feeling again.

Simply examine and see if you were not acting based on your ego, if you were not doing or saying something in order to promote yourself or to brag, or to drag someone else down, or to feel better about yourself, or to belittle someone else for who they are. All of that is ego action, the fake self at work. The ego is the idea that we are alone in a hostile world, and we must compete to survive. It makes us attack, enslave and torture people who don’t believe what we believe. It makes us look down and laugh at those who have less material wealth than us. Only if we remove ourselves from our ego, as well as any bias that might make us agree with any evil committed in the past, or any internal pain that might make us extremely angry or frustrated with the past, can we study the individual and collective past with the Spirit, and recognize exactly how we can apply it to the now.

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Inspired people, the people who have in turn inspired nations, were fueled by the powerful ideas put forth to them by their predecessors, ideas of the past. They mixed them with their own ideas. One example of a notable work of literature which has inspired me personally to pursue my idea of the Rebel Movement is Henry David Thoreau’s classic essay “Civil Disobedience.” This short book has inspired many more people apart from myself, one of the most well-known being Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, better known as Mahatma Gandhi, who read “Civil Disobedience” and through it gained a deep confidence and inspiration which compelled him to continue his own movement, his campaign of non-violent civil disobedience in India, decades later after Thoreau’s work was published. India’s independence probably would have come about just the same if “Civil Disobedience” had never been written, but one can never underestimate the power of a noble idea, especially if it is backed by a deep conviction that can be proved. Such was definitely the case with Thoreau. He was a strong-willed individual who chose to sit in jail for tax evasion, on the grounds that it was immoral to pay taxes in support of a government which was involved and funding the Mexican War which was going on at the time. A martyr, he preferred to sacrifice his own freedom than to support an ideal he did not believe in. He was eventually freed when, much to his dismay, a relative who had had just about enough of his nonsense paid the taxes he had refused to pay. What a great example of determination – a past act, a simple yet defiant, a ridiculous and brave act, which can inspire generations forever.

Choose any past event, be it a personal memory or a fact that you know happened. Take any given memory, any scenario, and follow its consequences as far as you can into the present. Think of any direct consequences as well as indirect, abstract ones. The law of cause and effect is active in our world, and all actions have an infinite amount of effects which we cannot perceive or even begin to imagine. If you can’t get too far with the memory or event you have chosen, choose a different one and follow its consequences up until you can’t follow them any longer or until you reach the present moment, whichever comes first. This will depend on the amount of time that has passed since the memory you chose to investigate. Try to connect the dots, so to speak, in order to form the bigger picture of your life. It’s there, just waiting for you to complete it, to find the way. It’s simpler than we often think.
We just need to be ourselves. Think about it. All we know is that we were born on this planet, and for the most part, most of us have no idea why or from where we came to be here. However, the fact is, or seems to be, that we were born on this planet, Planet Earth. We feel a certain way about certain things, and we are bound to act upon those thoughts if we follow through with them from the realm of thought into the realm of action. Many of us, however, confuse thoughts of desire and lust for our true desires, our true goals, those which we were born to achieve. We were all created in a special way, in God’s divine image.
As long as we are truly ourselves, and we follow the highest ideals within us, the thoughts and actions that deep within we know to be correct, then nothing can take us away from our true path of ascension. Learning happens from mistakes, so mistakes are a great help on your life journey, as they provide plenty of insight, if you take a moment to contemplate and discover it. We must learn to learn from the past and yet not to dwell on it emotionally or critically as we do so.

In conclusion, if we make a mistake which at the moment we did not know was a mistake, and we had no ill intention, then there is no real harm done. Yes, we will still have to face consequences of our mistake on the physical plane, but as the true seeker knows, these consequences form part of our learning, and are not to be resented or avoided. If we had no ill will when we committed a mistake, and we learn our lesson and incorporate our new knowledge or wisdom into our lives, then we will not make the same mistake. Our original mistake has therefore turned into a valuable experience to us, as it has provided the fuel needed in order to create change, which arises from true learning, hands-on learning, making mistakes. If you find yourself feeling down at the moment, feeling defeated by life and its stresses, just know that it all passes, and life provides its fair share of pleasure and pain, and all are meant to teach us lessons we must learn. But we must make the conscious choice of constantly analyzing and learning and applying to life. Take a second to breathe, and realize that, if you have learned from your mistake, then you are always right where you need to be, perhaps at a fresh opportunity to try again, and to defeat the devil that has haunted you and kept you chained.
~ REBEL SPIRIT