Posts Tagged ‘transformation’

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Philosophy Tuesday

December 11, 2018

There is great power in learning to “have” various states rather than “being” them.

Much in the same vein as the distinction between sadness and suffering, when we can be with and have our (often intense*)  feelings, emotions, and even thoughts, rather than automatically thinking that they are “me” and thus automatically being them, new spaces open up:

Having fear rather than being afraid.

Having uncertainty rather than being paralyzed.

Having nervousness and butterflies and tingly legs rather than being anxious and spooked.**

Having annoyance and frustration rather than being angry and enraged.

Having guilt rather than being shameful.

Having envy rather than being hopeless.

It isn’t a matter of resisting or pretending they’re not there; again, much like the distinction between sadness and suffering, it’s a matter of taking ownership and honouring them and being with them.  We are human, after all, and we humans have all those kind of things.  And they can be downright useful things to have.

To have; not to be controlled by.  Let them be, and peace of mind emerges.  Choice rises.  Everything steers away from suffering.

Let them be, and the authentic self can step to the fore, guiding things forward as we want them to be.

 

* …but even more powerful when we can notice and be with and own and have our subtle and background feelings, emotions, and especially thoughts (which are almost born from our calculating rather than authentic self) without immediately becoming them.

** I am very familiar with this before I go up on stage.  So intense!  Being with it all and essentially embracing it, as in, “I knew this was going to come, so hey, here it is!” is what gets me ready to go up and perform my heart out.  (And, depending on where I am, I’ve also at times done strings of jump kicks and other drills to burn off the nervous energy…)

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Philosophy Tuesday

November 13, 2018

If you want to draw water,

You do not dig six one-foot wells.

You dig one six-foot well.

Variations on this phrase have been attributed to many great philosophers and thinkers over the years (be it Sufi or Buddha or some other), but no matter its origin (which I’d wager is more likely to be pedestrian rather than profound), it remains a lovely little didactic parable that nicely encapsulates a number of philosophical hooks to leap from.

For one, it can be taken as a tale of intention and perseverance: “To flit about and abandon things quickly may not always yield that which will slake your thirst.”

It may also be taken as a tale of collaboration and unity: “When we dig only for ourselves, we come up short; when we dig together, we can reach rewards of superabundance.”

And for me, the most profound comes when I take it this way: “Remember that there are many valid paths, and everyone ends up drinking from the same water.  We don’t need to divide ourselves based on the specific well.  The important part is that we are digging our well, that our well aims true, and that we dig deep enough to reach the water of spirit and enlightenment.”

In both martial and philosophical arts, I have found that any “style” or “method” or “philosophy” developed to a high level begins to sound the same.  They start talking about the same things.  They have to.  Because we are all the same human body, and the same human being.  They may talk about things differently, or have different conceptual frameworks, but ultimately they are all pointing to the same thing.  The same water.

Search to find a good spot for a well.  Set yourself down.  And start digging.

When you find another drinking from a different well, revel in the water below.  Look down their well to see what new things might reflect back for you.   Share the experiences of the waters you have reached.

When we cease our flitting, begin our digging, work together to bore downward, and support each other in our well building efforts, we can all reach and revel in that sweet, cool, water below.

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Philosophy Tuesday

October 2, 2018

At the Monterrey Design Conference last year, one of the principals from OMA (Rem Koolhaas’ firm) gave a talk.  They began by noting all the famous architects and firms that had emerged from their office: BIG, MVRDV, FOA, JDS, REX, Zaha Hadid, Buro Ole Scheeren… just to name a few.  And we all cheered.  For they are some great designers (many of whose projects I’ve posted about on this very blog).  Clearly a great achievement for OMA to be such an incubator for great talent.

“And so,” they continued, I paraphrase, “we had to ask ourselves a question.  Why are so many of them leaving our firm?”

Murmurs filled the hall.

“Who are we being such that they feel their future is brighter outside of our company?  Who are we being that they feel the need to leave to fully express themselves?”

Silence.

It was not where we expected the talk to go… nor was it something most of us would have considered.  But there it was, honestly stated and expressed with vulnerability.  It was an inquiry, posed to us all.  And one that was clear OMA was taking on with vigour.

It’s a great inquiry.

Ben Zander, in his amazing TED talk, finishes off his presentation with a similar question, describing his definition of leadership and success:  shining eyes.

“So if the eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it. If the eyes are not shining, you get to ask a question. And this is the question: who am I being that my players’ eyes are not shining?”

He then ups the ante quite beautifully:

“We can do that with our children, too. Who am I being, that my children’s eyes are not shining? That’s a totally different world.”

When things keep going a certain way, be it in our lives or all around us; when we get that realization that maybe something is off; when we notice that our progress is stymied; when we grasp our strategies are bankrupt; whenever the barriers stop us flat we can ask ourselves that very great question:  “Who am I being such that it is going this way?  Who am I being such that these are the results I’m having?”

The answer often surprises us (in that “bad news” insight kind of way).

Once we get over the shock, we can complete it, clear ourselves, and begin to design who we do want to be.

And keep that stable of fabulous designers to make great things, together.

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 11, 2018

I blame Descartes.

Natch, in actuality it likely involved way more dimensions and people that just Descartes, pulling on various conversations and directions of thought that had been already developing, the general thrust of the renaissance, and, given the hundreds of years its been since his death, many more people have continued it and even reinforced it… so really it’s a much more involved thing than just one person.  That statement is not entirely fair.

But it’s more fun and attention getting* to just say, “I blame Descartes.”

For what?  For “cogito ergo sum” or “I think, therefore I am”… for the idea and elevation of “rational thought” as the pinnacle, in western philosophies, of what makes a person a person.  Thought is truth.  Reason is truth.  Emotions are suspect.  Feelings are bad.  To be a great human is to be a being of pure detached thought.**

And wow, I assert, did society ever take that and run with it.

In many ways, we are taught to be Vulcans.  Since emotions aren’t “real” and can’t be “tested in the physical world” and can “lead us astray”****, we’re told to ignore them or, even more so, resist them.

Now, in no way will I be saying that rational thought is itself bad, or useless, or even that we shouldn’t engage it.  Far from it, thinking is great.

But the thing is, there’s a huge deleterious effect to all this shaming and vilification of our rich, emotional life. *****

We aren’t robots, and our emotions do influence us.  They do.  And the more we ignore our emotions, the more we discount them, the more we do not develop our emotional intelligence/health/awareness, then the more at their effect we are.

In other words, the less we integrate ourselves as a whole being of emotions, feelings, and thought, the more we’re actually controlled by our emotions, without realizing it.

We are great rationalizing (not necessarily rational) creatures – we can get pushed down a path by that invisible internal world and our “perfect” logical and thoughtful minds will come up with darn good reasons and evidence and justifications for this path we’re barreling down.

We think we’re so smart.  And that’s the problem as well as the punchline… our hubris blinds us and robs us of the very agency we’re trying to attain.

Like many things, there’s a middle path here that has gotten missed.  A wholistic embracement of all of the amazing things that constitute who we are as human beings.  It isn’t a matter of being emotional or rational, of being governed by every feeling that arises or to be the perfect android, it’s a matter of listening to all of the above:  emotions, feelings, thinking, imagination, logic, moods, deductions, and so on.

Emotions and feelings can be great indicators.  They are a signal.  And when we embrace them, we get to use those signals rather than be thrown by them or have them sneakily dictate our actions.  The signals become just that, signals, that we can merge with our active mindfulness to give us presence from which we can then choose.  Agency becomes ours and, as a bonus, we get to enjoy the glorious experience(s) of being alive and the vast catalogue of feelings and emotions.

We end up making the better choices we’re aiming for.  We gain freedom and we love our life more.

Sorry Descartes.  We think therefore we are, but we also feel, and together we do more than just exist, we blossom with relish.

 

* and truth be told in many ways it is completely irrelevant to the true exploration of this post…

** This, of course, is why women were relegated as lesser people, for they are more emotional, “governed” by their feelings, and prone to hysteria… true great humans are all men, and men are the thoughtful, reasoning type.***

*** Which, doubly of course, is all absolute caca.****

**** It gets extra silly and super double standard-y when you realize the accolades and admiration that are lauded onto a guy who “follows his gut” as some sort of honest strong paragon when, well, what is “following your gut” other than being guided by your emotions/feelings?

*****  Which come on here everyone, we’re all seeking love and pleasure and happiness and excitement and aren’t those all emotions and feelings?  Further, why are we being taught to suppress our emotions, yet love is supposed to be a first-sight-head-over-heels type thing and that we should blindly follow our emotion in that instance?

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Philosophy Tuesday

September 4, 2018

By three methods may we learn wisdom:

First, by reflection,

which is noblest;

Second, by imitation,

which is the shallowest;

and third by experience,

which is the bitterest.

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 21, 2018

Well how about that.  This post marks the 200th* Philosophy Tuesday post.  In some ways, I am amazed that this is still going strong, and yet at the same time I’m also not so amazed.  As with any practice, the pathway to knowing one’s self leads forever towards the horizon.  I’m still breathing, and so my journey cannot be done.  New lands and new roads remain to be traveled and explored.

Sometimes these posts have been easy to write.  What’s right there for me is right there, and the way to expression is quick.  Boom.  Done.  Post!  Gloriously speedy, especially in the midst of a full life.  Other times… not so much.  The impetus and entry points might be clear, but in writing things down I realize I need to take myself to task.  Take myself, my notions, my defaults, my automatics, all of those and more, take them all on and think, collide, muse, discover, and ultimately (hopefully) grow my understanding and insight.**  It’s not always fun while in the middle of that slog, but it’s always rewarding at the end, presenting new possibilities in and for life.

And to the end that they show up here in this Tuesday tradition, I hope they bring new possibilities in and for your lives as well.

It’s humbling, in so many ways, to look back and see the vast distances journeyed and to recognize the transformations made along the way.  It never seems that there is much distance left to cover and yet, it gets covered.  Felling like I’ve got a good handle on things is a ruse; my world(s) keep opening further and further.  This perspective helps pull apart the (often collapsed) notions of confidence vs conceit, or pride vs arrogance.

Do I “know” a lot?  Yes.  Can I do a lot with that?  Yes.  Effectively?  Heck yes!  Do I really know?  Well, no…  and that’s cool.  Here’s where I am.  Cool.  What’s next?  Cool.  Let’s learn.

Though I no longer preface each post with it, I continue to write from a place and intention of sparking thinking and examining.  I continue to write from the idea that we are all whole and complete and full of unseen capacity, and that we equally, often, have barriers between us and our experience of our wholeness and our capacities.  I continue to live from the stand that we are all, at our core, deeply related and connected in our grand desires.

We are of the same human spirit, and the more we can brush away that which restrains us, the more we can soar.

I thank each and every one of you for reading, for engaging, for commenting, for sharing, and for being willing to take yourself on and for your commitment to seek out new possibilities for yourself and for those around you.  A big virtual hug to you all.

 

* As with the “2 year” marker this is 200 posts give or take, not counting weeks off and weeks with titles other than strictly “Philosophy Tuesday,” nor does it take into account weeks with additional philosophy posts…

** And if I am fortunate, wisdom as well.

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Philosophy Tuesday

August 14, 2018

Three umpires were at the bar one night, discussing the art of umpiring.

The newly minted umpire spoke first.  “It’s pretty clear.  There’s a box, and if the ball is in the box it’s a strike; if the ball is out of the box it’s a ball.  I call it like it is.”

“Ah yes,” replied the second, one who’d had a few seasons tucked under his mask.  “It does seem like that so often.  But then who knows, pitches can do crazy things and a bit of wind in your eye can mess you up even more.  I’ve realized that the best I can ever do is to call it like I see it.”

After taking a pull on his drink, the revered veteran umpire smiled.  “Friends.  Balls an’ calls come an’ go.  Like it is, like I see it, truth is… they ain’t nothin’ ‘till I call ‘em.

— with inspiration from Bill Klem

 

(and nothin’ that ever happened to or around us aint’ ever anythin’ to us until ya/we call ‘em…)