Friday, October 29, 2010

Should I get breast implants?

Via Facebook, someone asked what guys really thought about breast implants.

IT'S LIKE THIS. Breast implants are fun to look at and fun to (ahem) handle, but the novelty eventually wears off, like any novelty. The payoff is mainly in attracting attention, and most guys will be attracted, but there may be some who are turned off by them. Why? Because they might see it as a symbol of vanity and superficiality.

There are certain medical situations and conditions that warrant breast implants, and maybe if people have really low self-esteem. But for those with average self-esteem who get implants, I think they're wasting their money. One reason is that the impulse to get plastic surgery can be addictive. You find one flaw, you fix it. Then you start noticing other flaws, and other flaws, and by the time you know it, you look like a morph between the old you and an extraterrestrial. Why Meg Ryan??? WHY???

The other reason is that they can get the same if not more progress from accepting their flaws and not apologizing for them or hiding because of them. That type of confidence is much, much sexier and alluring that implants (at least to quality, sincere, mature people). By getting plastic surgery, you reinforce the idea that your flaws are unacceptable and matter. It's unavoidable.

If you're thinking about getting implants or know someone who is, the most important question they can ask is why? What am I looking to get out of this? Is that a good goal to have and is it something I sincerely want deep down? Assuming the goal is a worthy one, is this the best and most effective way to achieve that? If yes, do research and find a good doctor.

Remember, next week is Ask a Condescending Buddhist week! Send in your questions, dorks!

Next Week's Posts

Hello friends,

For next week, I'm answering all questions from the point of a view of a condescending Buddhist.

Many of you will ask "how is that any different from how you normally post?"

Good question. I'm not sure yet.

So, send in all your stupid questions!

The Condescending Buddhist

Thursday, October 28, 2010

What are you going to be for Halloween?

What are you going to be for Halloween?

LAST NIGHT I DRESSED up in my old (authentic) karate uniform, put on an ace bandage, finger splint, arm sling, leg brace, and bandaids, and passed out this flyer enthusiastically while limping and stumbling all over the place:

What're you gonna be for Halloween?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Round 2 with the Ressler

This post is a follow up to this post.

Dear Edahn,
So the hot-wrestler-from-standford saga continues.. he has now semi-appologized for not seeing me the other weekend. And has expressed interest in being my boy for Halloween while I be his angel. [*gag*] Sexual jokes continue. I suggested he be Buster Posey for Halloween, since that's a dream of mine although I am happy for him to be anything as long as he just brings his hot boyness this direction. 
I have planned a pre-party with my devil counterpart-BFF and we are throwing it down at my apartment before heading out dancing. I suggested he bring extra boys if he wants. But not necessary because although I only need one, and girl company might need some entertainment. 
Thing is about boys: they seem too simple. And they always seem to respond to primal needs very quickly. And keep text message responses, even though suggestive, rather minimal in content. Is this boy really worth my time? I wonder.
And why am I so attracted to someone I've never met before? Perhaps the prolonged cyber connection of 2 months is really getting to me... yeah. That must be it. 
P.S. He loves it when I write poems?

I SEE THREE QUESTION marks here, so I'll tackle them one at a time.

1.  Is this boy really worth my time? I thought you only wanted to hook up with him. If that's all you want, then invest only enough effort and time to make this happen. Continue to date other guys so the pressure isn't all on this relationship. If, on the the other you're looking for something more, then the late-night text message to have you and your friend come over, combined with the content and brevity of his text messages don't bode well for you. Check your feelings. Is this still fun and superficial, or his this gotten a little serious and emotional? Adjust accordingly.

2. And why am I so attracted to someone I've never met before? Well, if he's a hot smart wrestler who's sexting you, I don't think it's a big mystery. There's something called positive illusions in psychology where in the first few months of a relationship you idealize your partner. You give them complete benefit of the doubt and fill all question marks with positive assumptions. Eventually you'll see that he has real flaws just like everyone else. Then you'll decide if you can overlook those flaws or not.

3. He loves it when I write poems? Technically, this isn't a question, but that's nice. You should write one about a wrestler who stops flaking out on his date. :)

Monday, October 25, 2010

How do I manage my stress?

Exercise helps!
Dear Edahn,

Lately I've been feeling really stressed out. From the moment I wake up until I go to sleep I feel anxiety and this tension and constriction in my chest. Sometimes I wake up with aching shoulders and back. I have to often remind myself to take deep breaths. What strategies can I use to relax a little? There is always going to be work and there are always going to be things I need to get done and not enough time to do them in. I need to learn how to chill out and focus rather than feeling like my head is about to explode 12 hours out of every day.


YOU CAN PUT ALL your focus on relaxing your body and giving it what it needs to recover. That includes: 
  1. Adequate rest
  2. Exercise, stretching, or yoga
  3. Eating healthy and avoiding certain foods like caffeine, alcohol, and foods with very high sugar (cake, too many fruits)
  4. Taking a bath twice a week instead of showering
  5. Listening to music that's soothing rather than exciting, in the car, at home, during dinner
  6. Stop watching the news and reality TV
I would also experiment with taking a few minutes (15 or so) to feel the tension in your body. Not to force it to calm down, but just to let it be felt. There's no special trick to this, you just let whatever's there be there is whatever way it wants. Doing this will naturally soften that tension and soften your mind too. If there're some things in your life you've been putting off, or something things you can do to make your life a little simpler, do them now. Finally, clean your house/apt/shack if it's not already clean. Clean body, clean room, clean mind, simple living. 

Make a schedule right now that you could stick to realistically and post it somewhere obvious and unavoidable. For instance,
  • Monday: 15 minutes of sitting and feeling, work, clean room 1 hour, bath, bed by 11:30
  • Tuesday: Yoga 20 minutes, work, Trader Joe's, get something done I've been pushing off, bed by 11:30
  • Wednesday: 15 minutes sitting, make healthy breakfast, green tea, work, clean bathroom, gym, bath, bed by 11:30
  • Thursday...
Make it interesting and stick to it. Give it time to start working. Don't even think about if it's working or not for two weeks, just stick with it. In two weeks, I'll send you an email and see how you're doing.

Remember to whore out my blog to your friends, if you have any! Thanks! -ES

Friday, October 22, 2010

Should I move home?

Dear Edahn,

Should I move home to Dallas, Texas?

FIRST YOU HAVE TO figure out what's going to bring you peace in your life. Some people know. Other people are so agitated and confused they have no fucking clue what's really going to be meaningful to them. 

In my experience, what brings peace isn't stuff or people or things. Peace is dependent on my relationship to myself and how honest I am about what I'm going through. Being harsh with myself makes me more inclined to hide and distort who I am, so I try and be open-hearted and kind. That takes practice (and meditation can be a great tool). When my heart is really open to myself, I don't suffer. I'm at peace, and I know what type of stuff will resonate with that peace. Maybe a relationship. A job where I can help people. Creativity. I know the values that I need to live according to. I don't have to think hard about it, it just comes. But it all start with a big heart and slowing down. Really slowing down. Confronting what's here, the discomfort, the agitation, the anxiety, the tenderness.

If you know what you really need, you'll know what decision to make. If you're not really sure, then you have to sit with that question until you figure it out. Ask yourself: what kind of relationship do I want to have with myself? What would that relationship look like? How would I treat myself? Where have I been screwing up? Take a deep breath and keep this thought in mind.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Shit My Brother Says

I asked my Facebook "friends" to send me some questions because my blog has had less action than your mom. My brother, who makes up 20% of all my friends, sent in some very thoughtful questions. You can tell by the time signatures that he really put effort into crafting his thoughts. For those of you who are wondering, that's exactly what he looks like.

What would happen if the world was suddenly invaded by aliens? What if the aliens happened to be 30 foot tall velociraptors?
October 13 at 5:27pm · Like

O MY SWEET BROTHER, I wish that weren't happening already! Are you not aware of the imminent Velociraptor invasion? (Actual picture from the future) Luckily, there are things you can do to prepare.

Why do guys now sport the XX shaved Euro punk haircut?
October 13 at 5:27pm · Like

I ASSUME IT'S BECAUSE they're dorks, but not being a dork, I can't really say. *Goes back to editing own Wikipedia page*

What exactly is a quarter life crisis?
October 13 at 5:28pm · Like

WELL, THIS IS ACTUALLY a good question. On the one hand, the quarter-life crisis (QLC) is a pretty newly coined term that's supposed to capture the way 20-somethings feel diffused and unsure about what to do in life and who they are. But really, it's an existential crisis, which isn't age-dependent but maturity dependent. People don't know what to do because they don't know what they're supposed to aim for or why.

Some people like to attribute this to the fact that our generation has so many options. In part, I think that's right. More options means more possibilities means more opportunities for speculating. But that implies that the solution to a QLC is fewer options. That might work, sure. But it also might not be the best solution.

The QLC doesn't have to be thought of as a negative thing; it can be thought of as a gateway or opportunity to find someone's true path. The key thing is to know what to do with it so you don't get stuck for too long. That's not always easy, because confusion can prey on your motivation. If you're the person in a QLC, read this. If you know a person in a QLC, let them work it out.

How can people spend so much time promoting their philosophy blog?
October 13 at 5:28pm · Like

IT DOESN'T TAKE MUCH effort to motivate people to do the stuff they love.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

How do I get a million people to click a button?

how do i get a million people to click a button and send a text improve our educational system?

WELL, IT NEED TO go viral unless you can find a way to get on a television show. Make a video that's funny, short, interesting, and upload it to YouTube. Make sure you change the angles and shots pretty often, otherwise it'll get boring. Then submit it to some web-sifting websites like Reddit and Digg. It has to be something dorks would like. Charming. Check this out. It was on the front page on Reddit yesterday. Interesting, quick, informative, and tells you what to do. Copy it, with less ginger. You could make it really over-the-top sexual but discuss real issues, for instance. Or make it really sarcastic. Or have a lot of funny pictures to help tell the story. Needs to be fast, though.

You can also have a contest with your friends. Whoever submits the most votes (you can vote once a day) wins a free i...thing. Or a handsky. Whatever. I'll do a little promoshuns for you on my site, so all 4 of my readers vote for you. In turn, you can promote my site! To come to think of it, I also wish I had a million people clicking on my link. :-/

GO HERE TO VOTE It's free and easy, like you.
MOBILE: send the message, 103179, to the phone number, 73774 (PEPSI).

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Why do women's toilets stink?

[Dear toilet expert,]

If women pee directly in toilet bowls, and they clean the bathrooms every single night and again in the morning, why do the McCann toilets still smell like stale piss?

I'LL BE HONEST, I don't have too much experience with wimmins toilets. The only time I ever used one was on 3rd Street, by accident. Instead of saying "MENZ" and "WIMMINZ," there was a graphic and it was kinda artsy and a little worn out. I like graphic design, but if there's one thing in life that should not be tampered with, it's the sign for a bathroom. The white, creepy, faceless ghosts are just fine, thanks. Anyway, I'm in there, handling my isht, and someone else walks in. I kinda look over and realize it's a woman. Then I realize the horrifying awfulness that is my predicament. I do the territorial cough, you know that thing? When you cough so people know you're there? *coughgetthefuckawaycough* She runs out, then I run out as the manager is yelling at me about what I've done. That happened about 4 years ago. Since then, every time I use a public restroom, even if there are already other guys in it, I check for a urinal. Trauma.

On to your question. I can think of two reasons why daily cleaning wouldn't ameliorate the piss stench. First, not all cleaning were created equal. Take my brother. When he cleans the toilet, it usually ends up looking worse than when he started. Maybe your janitors aren't as diligent as you think. Second, if it's a public bathroom, say, at a beach, the ground is probably made of concrete which is porous. The pores help prevent the floor from cracking, because apparently the weather can make the floor expand and contract. This is what someone told me once, so I'm going to assume it's absolutely correct without verifying it. If the floor has pores in it, the urine and other foul fluids that are disseminated from the body could leak into those pores. In that case, washing the floor would do absolutely nothing.

Thanks for the great question. It really made me think. jerk.

Monday, October 18, 2010

How can I get him to take me out?

Wrestling: Very manly.
dear edahn
last night i took pictures of myself in my boy shorts. and sent them to a boy i have a crush on. we exchanged photographs back in forth via iphone. he's a hot wrestler in a nearby city (bout an hour away). thing is, i've never met him. i met him on for some reason our relationship thus far survives in cyber space. today i asked him to come to sf to visit me. i've been thinking about him non stop all day today. how do i get this boy to come and get me? :p
all fun intended. although we connect on a yoga level/philosophical level. he says he wants a girl he can do bikram yoga and meditate with. (i've described how i completed a 200 hour yoga teacher program in the bahamas and practiced bikram for a year.) i told him i want a boyfriend boy toy. he says we can work things out. but so far only in cyber land. advice?

ps we "sexted" for 4 hours last night. ha ha

YOU DIRTY, DIRTY SLUT! I'm so proud.

A yoga, meditating wrestler, huh? Interesting. Just be casual and flirty. Call him or text him saying "so when are you going to take me out to a movie?" If he doesn't give you a day, just write back "not good enough, try again" until he does. Or if he gives you a long speech about how he's busy and everything he has to do the next week, just say "I was thinking more like Friday". Fuck with him. When he gives you a day, tell him you'll check into the movies playing and get back to him, then just give him three options and ask him which sounds the best. Don't make the decision too complicated.

You basically just want to keep things fun and not make the details too significant. Has this ever happened to you, when you decide you're going to go to dinner, but then deciding where you go takes 5 hours? You both start vetoing every restaurant for the dumbest reasons? "Oh, salad? Yeah, I'm not sure, I had salad last year." When the negotiations are finally over you want nothing to do with the person anymore. If it's this hard to decide on dinner, how the fuck are we going to decide if which private school to send our little, equally annoying offspring? Fuck all that. Just pick something. Snake. Go.

Good luck.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Meditation Instructions

How Meditation is Different

There are a few things you should understand prior to attempting to meditate. These keys will help clear up misconceptions about what meditation is. Meditation is different from others things that you do in your life in a very significant way. For most tasks that you embark on through your day or throughout your life, there’s a goal you’re trying to reach. When you form a goal, you’re implicitly saying that having this goal is preferred to not having this goal. You rank it higher.

Sexy graphics galore
For instance, so your goal is to have more income than you currently have. What you’re doing in your mind is saying “right now, my current income is bad and I need to change it in order to get to something better.” There’s a certain tension that develops and you work to relieve this tension by trying to make more money. You push forward. The same thing happens when you’re trying to improve yourself emotionally, psychologically, improve your relationships, your job, your level of boredom, of disappointment, whatever. You rank having something higher than not having it and the tension between the two motivates you to push forward. It puts you in a state of mind we can call “Pursuit Mode.” This is how we go through most of our life, skipping from one goal to another, whether personal, professional, material, or spiritual.

            Meditation is different from this because in meditation, we don’t set goals. We don’t try to get to this spiritual place. We’re not setting one state of being, like spirituality or peace or happiness, above another and pushing forward to get it. We’re not searching for something in meditation. Instead, we see what’s already here, whether or not we like it, whether or not we understand it, whether or not it’s boring or confusion or scary or uncomfortable. We let it be here. We don’t have to do anything special to it, as that would be setting another goal. We just let it be here, as it is, quietly and patiently.

            So am I saying you don’t do anything at all? Are you meditating right now? No. The reason meditation takes effort and time is because our minds are naturally and habitually spinning all the time. Whether we realize it or not, we’re constantly setting goals and looking for things to make us better and more secure. We live in this state of tension all the time and because we’ve done it so long, and because everyone else is doing it (and praising it!), we don’t realize there’s an alternative that would actually mean something or somehow be useful. It takes care and attention to realize that we’re doing this and to stop all internal fighting and struggling.

            So, when you ask “how do I meditate”, ask yourself if you’ve decided that there’s a state that you’re trying to get to with your meditation. Have you set up another goal? A meditative state that trumps your current state of boredom or frustration? If you have, remember that meditation is not a destination. We’re not going anywhere special. We’re just staying right here, right where we are, and seeing what’s already here in this experience. What feelings are we already having? Frustration? Boredom? Restlessness? Confusion? What sensations are we already having? Tension in the back? Vulnerability in the chest? Tenderness in the throat? Sadness in the eyes? What type of breath are we already experiencing? Soft? Strained? Slow? Fast? Short? Long? We just let it be there. As we do that, our heart starts to slowly open up. It may not be immediate. It may come in small amounts over a long time, but it happens. This is why people call meditation a training of the heart.


            Last, let’s talk about thoughts. Thoughts are a tricky area in meditation. It’s your thoughts that create goals and try to make plans to accomplish those goals. When you let your mind wander too much, it’ll start thinking about what you need to be complete and start reviewing the things you have on your personal and professional to do list. The natural tendency that people have, including myself, is to try and end thinking—to shut it down and chase it away with force. But doing this is problematic because it creates yet another goal: it places not thinking above thinking and puts us back in Pursuit Mode where we’re trying to get somewhere and attain something. As we’ve already said, meditation is not about getting somewhere, it’s about being where you are.

            So the correct relationship to thoughts is to witness them, to experience them, without rushing to do anything special with them. That means, not being in a rush to eradicate your thoughts, but also not being in a rush to study them and analyze and elaborate upon each interesting thought that comes into your mind. You can simply witness what’s here, while it’s here. When it leaves, it leaves.

            So, in essence, meditation is listening, listening to what’s already here in no particularly special way. Just seeing what we see, feeling what we feel, sensing what we’re already sensing. We don’t have to steer our experience or control it; we don’t have to force ourselves to be someone special or get somewhere. Enough of that. We have a right to be here and we’re strong enough to face whatever is already here without being in a rush to change it, whether boredom or fear or confusion or sadness or vulnerability.

The night Buddha found his own peace, he was sitting in deep meditation under a Bo tree in India. His mind tried to tease him will all sorts of thoughts of distraction, temptation, and self-doubt. In Buddhism scripture, this aspect of the mind is personified and named Mara, the tempter. Mara bombarded Buddha with threats, distractions, mental demons, and sexy dancing girls. When they failed to shake Buddha’s concentration, Mara made one last attempt, saying “what gives you the right to be here?” Buddha touched the Earth gently to call the planet as a witness to his right to stay seated. Buddha was saying that he had a right to be there. He didn’t have to get anything else to be complete. He didn’t need any more qualifications or practice to witness his experience and be at peace with it.

Practical Aids
            There are some practical things that can help prepare you for this intimate looking and observing. First, quiet. Find a place that’s nice and quiet. It doesn’t have to be silent. Just enough to help you pay attention. Second, finding a posture that helps you pay attention while not having to worry too much about your posture itself. Sitting in a chair works. Lying in bed will probably make you sleepy. I like to sit on a raised cushion with my legs somewhat folded inside one another. Third, your back. Keeping your back straight will promote attention and prevent sleepiness and dullness.

            Meditation can be confusing, so it helps to have a mantra to keep you fresh. The mantra doesn’t have to be something you say over and over. It can just be used as a reminder. You can choose something memorable, or you can use what I use: “Peace is not a destination.” This helps remind me that I don’t have to get anywhere or create something special, psychologically or emotionally. I don’t have to make myself happy or make myself peaceful. My practice is just to sit still with what I already have and let my experience go where it goes, not being in a rush to analyze it to death or steer it.

            Lastly, I’ll briefly talk about things you can do in your daily life to help your meditation practice. One way to think of meditation is an opening of the heart. The heart embraces things as they are, without hatred or fear that they’re defective. When your heart is open to another person, you accept them the way they are. You accept that they act the way they do, with whatever flaws they may have and whatever habits they may have picked up. You don’t make them feel guilty for their flaws or silently resent them. (That’s not to say you have to live with them, either.) So, activities and habits that cultivate this open-heartedness will help your meditation.

            There’s no limit to what you can design for yourself to help your heart blossom. You can practice sincerity in your speech. You can do nice things for people. You can eliminate the things in your life that make your heart close up. What these all have in common is that they renounce violence. I don’t just mean physical violence. I’m talking all forms of violence: psychological violence, emotional violence, self-directed violence, enemy-directed violence, all of it. Contemplate what your life would look like if you gave up all forms of violence. You would probably talk differently to some people. You would also probably move a little calmer and with more patience. Make a promise to give up violence in your relationships to the world, it’s people, it’s life, and to yourself. This’ll help you strengthen your heart and improve your meditation.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Help! I'm Stuck in a Rut

Dear Edahn, 

I have been in a depressed funk for over five months now since losing my job. Actually, I have lost the last three jobs in a row as a result of being overworked, underpaid, burned out, and laid off (read: economy). I am a young, educated, smart, energetic, positive, attractive woman with a great personality, and there should be no reason for me to feel this despair. I have the same, if not more potential than most. In fact, most people don't even know what I'm going through because I don’t show it to anyone. I think I am just scared to apply myself to a job and get taken advantage of like I have before, and then get laid off like a worthless piece of garbage. The fact is, I now have $300 to my name, and my unemployment benefits have just ended, but I see no way of digging myself out of this hole anytime soon. I lack the motivation to get out there and make things happen, and it really scares me. I just don't want to do anything. However, given that funds are running out, I am starting to freak the fuck out. Any advice on how to pull myself out of this funk and get my life on the right track?

NO. THERE IS NO way to pull yourself out of this funk, because the more you try to pull yourself out, the more you're actually pushing yourself further in. That's why the past 5 months have been absolute shit. Problems like these can't be solved through forcing motivation or thinking or planning. They have to get resolved by intuition. To do that, you need to put aside all your expectations about what the solution is going to look like. In fact, stop looking for a solution entirely, right now. Take a second to just breathe and feel yourself. Feel what it feels like to breathe. Feel what it feels like in your chest and in your lungs. Feel your feelings for a second, whatever they feel like. You don't have to identify it accurately, just feel it and see where it goes. If it hurts, that's okay. If it feels vulnerable, that's okay. If it feels sad, that's okay. If it feels empty or like nothing special, that's okay too. Just be here for a sec. Take a minute before reading on. 

What's going on here? You're slowly getting in touch with something deeper. That something deeper is always there, but it gets covered up by thinking and forcing and worrying, which is why I said you can't pull yourself out. It's impossible; too much emphasis on planning is the cause of the problem, not the solution. This something deeper, however, can motivate you and guide you. Listen to it and reflect on your question with your breath and body in the background. What really matters to you? What has always mattered to you? What will always matter to you, despite whatever happens? These are your core values. This is what you need to pursue. You don't need to force that motivation because it comes naturally when you understand how important it really is to you, to others. It's universally important. Write down what matters to you. Integrity? Honor? Compassion? Intelligence? Service? Write slowly and with care.

You've done a lot in your life already. Without reflecting too hard and still keeping that sense of closeness with yourself, write down some of your best skills. It doesn't have to be something you do better than others, just something you do better than others things. Okay.

Still with me? Now move on to some career options that resonate with your values and skills. Write down possibilities. You can cross them off later. Do it patiently. If you need to check back in with your body, go ahead and do so now.

The last question is making a plan. Does one career path stand out more than others? What are some of the steps you'll have to take in that path? What sacrifices will you have to make? What personal qualities will you need to develop? What changes do you have to make to your current routine to get you on that path? It can start off theoretical, but make sure you create something practical that you can do, like a schedule or a to do list.

When you're done, read on and I'll share my experience

* * * 

I feel what you're feeling a lot, and probably for the exact same reason. When I stop all the rushing and worrying and desperation and just listen to what's already here with me, I feel a buzzing feeling in my chest which turns into a feeling that I describe as vulnerability or tenderness. I then turn quiet and a little sad, but reflective. I almost immediately know that what I want in my life, more than anything, is to have a big open heart and to help others open their heart. Everything else configures around that feeling and either harmonizes with it or conflicts with it. I've made a list of a few possible careers that resonate with my skills, identified some milestones I'll have to reach, and also some of the compromises in lifestyle I'll have to make like giving up some habits, addictions, and all forms of inner and outer violence, however subtle, that clog up my heart. I generated some rules and then made a schedule to help me stick to those rules and keep my lifestyle consistent with this path. I'd love it if you kept me updated.

From my heart to yours,

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Does Evil Exist?

FOX NEWS: a vehicle for evil (or good!) to flourish
(other media corps bother me too)
Assuming you grant the notion, how do you define evil?

I'LL START BY STATING that I don't believe things have inherent goodness or inherent evilness. From the point of view of a physicist, all things are just different organizations of the same basic stuff. The description of that stuff is a human invention and it resides in the human mind. 

That isn't to say that everything is all the same. Quite the opposite, we get different arrangements of stuff and those different arrangements lend themselves to differentiation and description. Those individual arrangements (things) then interact with other things. They can ether interact harmoniously or competitively. To operate harmoniously means that no part exploits the other and each part is allowed to operate smoothly, according to its needs. To better understand it, think of the body. For the body to be health, it has to be in harmony. If one part breaks down and start using too much of some resource, another part breaks down and can't perform its function.

Good and evil aren't properties of people or even decisions or events. They're properties of intentions. (So a storm, for example, can't be evil.) The intention to to make things operate harmoniously is noble or good. When you care about society and your effect on others around you and wish for other people to live with dignity and peace, you are harboring good intentions. When you want to take what others have, when you scheme to make others suffer, and when you use beyond your needs to the detriment of others, you are harboring and acting upon evil intentions. You can measure intentions by the degree to which a person's heart is open, in other words, the degree to which they feel whole and able to wish others well.

The great warlords of yesterday and today who sought to dominate their neighbors were dominated themselves by evil intentions, though they were not themselves evil. They tried to steal the power, property and dignity from others and use it themselves. They lied, manipulated, used hateful rhetoric, violence, fomented paranoia, and so on. But still, they were fundamentally pure. 

What do you think, dear readers? How do you get rid of evil?

Friday, October 8, 2010

Why I haven't posted here in a while

I've pretty much stopped promoting this site altogether for a bunch of reasons. One is that I'm not really sure I'm qualified anymore. I still believe I can offer better advice than lots of people, but I'm not convinced that's a really good standard to measure against. The more I learn about life and myself, the more I realize how nonsensical it can be, and how I'm still unclear about fundamental things like meaning and purpose. They might make sense intellectually, but that's not a very deep level of making sense. So that means I've got to adjust the role I play. I can't be the advisor anymore. I can only share my perspective and hope that it inspires some type of insight or intelligent action.

A second reason is that by promoting my site, I'm promoting myself, and I'm not really comfortable with that. It feel like I'm making myself into an idol. That's not the kind of atmosphere I want.

There's an interesting story in the Taoist book called the Lieh-Tzu (not Lao Tzu) on topic. Lieh-Tsu is a humble guy and student of the Tao. He becomes a kind of celebrity and students start gathering in his hut every day to hear him talk. His own teacher sees this and admonishes him, telling him that so many people are now there, but they're only there to worship him, not to practice and merge with the Tao, and consequently, no one is getting enlightened. Lieh-Tzu accepts the criticism, goes back home to his wife and lives a simple life tending to his home and to his small business (and lives happily ever after).

That story, among others, has stuck out in my mind. When I look at what happened with the Eckhart Tolle (Power of Now) and other spiritual celebrities, I can't help but think they've fallen prey to the same misfortune: their teachings have been clouded by their own momentum and glory. They've mostly succeeded in creating fads and social identities. People name-drop Eckhart Tolle just like an actor name-drops a famous director. Spiritual nourishment needs to be rationed properly, not commercialized and mass-distributed. Otherwise it just becomes another product on the shelf.