Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Notes for a Book

I want to write a few good books before I die. They look fun. This one will be about philosophy, society, and Zen.

Chapter 1: The State of Mankind 
    Dispossession: Denial, Loneliness, Agitation and the Spectrum of Psychosis
Chapter 2: The Causes of Dispossession
   Evolution and the Pursuit of Permanence; 
   The Pain/Pleasure Mechanism;
Chapter 3: The Alternative
   Rest, Merger, Peace, and Meaning
Chapter 4: Finding Merger
   Surrender and the Paradox of Striving for Non-Striving;
   Accidental Surrender;
   Practicing Merger
Chapter 5: The Qualities and Habits and Facilitate Surrender and Merger
   Patience, Honesty, Kindness and Friendliness;
   Diligence and Structure
Chapter 6: Careers
Chapter 7: Relationships
Chapter 8: General Observations about Politics, Society, Culture
Chapter 9: Some Guidelines for Fashioning a New Society

Passover, Ritual, and Enlightenment

Submitted via text message:
Hi Edahn please explain Passover I think it's cool Bc spiritual is cool and suffering is not that cool   
Buddhism believes in enlightenment and that all suffering cease if you stop desiring!!! Hey that's a great thing to focus on 
I think that our society needs to focus more on enlightenment rather than money & war &  money 
I just did cocaine so I am very talkative and I think that [my city] is um, complicated. And I was wondering about los Angeles and if it's a better place to live??? Did you buy convertible???
Dear Charlie Sheen,

WTF. Coke, really? Be careful with that stuff, seriously.

It's impossible to say what Passover is "really" about because it's meaning is subjective, so you're bound to get an infinite number of different answers. For me, Passover is about community and interaction. One of the things I enjoy about Jews and Judaism is the way they/it places importance on ritual gatherings and the way Jewish people have crafted and modernized those ritual gatherings. Passover is a good example. Passover is a day when Jews commemorate fleeing Egypt as slaves and emerging free people. But the ritual gathering (the Seder) really doesn't have anything to do with that. Sure, we tell stories and read some stuff about Egypt and eat food that reminds us of the ordeal, but the value for me and for others (I suspect) is in the communal gathering with food as a centerpiece. Everyone comes together to interact, laugh, drink, talk, and belong. Suffering quietly dissolves.

In today's society, those opportunities are rare. We work at one place, we hang out another place (now, on the internet), and the frequency and consistency of our interaction is very low. As a result, we lack real communities. We don't have people we run into consistently enough. How many of us know our neighbors? How many of us feel like we belong? These things are integral to a community's health and individual health, and we're missing them. We're in serious trouble. Like you said, we've designed our societies, cultures, and lives around profit instead of really valuable things like purpose and belonging. We're in trouble.

Buddha's thing about desiring is tricky, isn't it? If desire is causing you to suffer and you're desiring, what can you do? If you desire to get rid of desire, you're still stuck! So what can you do? Tell me.

I've only been to [your city] a handful of times, so I can't say if it's any less complicated than LA, but LA's okay. I'd prefer to live somewhere more remote and quiet. And no, I'm not getting the convertible, but thanks for asking. :) I'm still cool though, right???

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Predictions for 2011-2014

Caller, are you there?
Here're some of my predictions for the next 2-3 years.

  • A class war will erupt in American politics. Republicans will lose big and Democrats will lose too. The fight will be between the top 2% richest Americans vs. everyone else. A new political party will emerge much like the tea party, but will uphold progressive values and be less susceptible to corruption.
  • Corporations, insurance companies, the Republicans (all various branches of the same entity as far as I'm concerned) will put up a big fight but will lose.
  • Continuing natural disasters will devastate the world. People will be forced to simplify their lives. There'll be famine and disease, but when communities stabilize, people will live peacefully.
  • Weird activity with the Earth's climate and magnetism.
  • Iran will fire a nuclear missile at Israel it bought from Russia. Israel will retaliate in kind. Modern Arab countries will rally behind Israel and form treaties.
  • Information will be easier to find on the internet to the point where you could find reliable answers instantly.
  • A new news network that resembles Twitter and Wikipedia will become the predominant source of news as the world loses trust in major news networks.
  • Islamic fundamentalism on the rise, but will eventually tire out. Why? Because it's a lot of work to hate things so passionately. People will start to tire out.
  • China continues its espionage on the US and other countries and launches more cyberattacks. (They do this now, but Obama doesn't do anything.)
  • AskEdahn becomes an spiritual organizing hub for the post-apocalyptic world. ;)

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Boyfriend Plays Video Games and Ignores Me

Dear Edahn, 
I have been with my boyfriend since November 2007. I was 19 at the time and he was 20. I have learned that he has been dealing with a lot of stress mostly because of family problems. I'm different. I don't have stress and I am a very positive and happy person. I feel like this is a major reason why he loves me, because I've brought happiness to him and I help him forget about his problems. 
He tells me that he loves me very much but he does not do the best at showing me his love. I try my best to be as patient and understanding as I can. His way of dealing with his problems is through playing online games e.g. counter stike and left for dead. He will honestly play 50 hours a week sometimes. There are times when he would ignore my phone calls and not talk to me when he's under so much stress. But I feel so unwanted when he would rather play games for hours than talk to me, even if its for a few minutes. When we get into fights and not talk for a while he'll be the first to call because he misses me. I try to give him space but there are times when I feel like crap just because he would rather play games than talk with me. I have told him the way I feel but he doesn't listen. He would even hang up the phone to avoid feeling bad. I really love him but when he does this to me it makes me hate him. 
Sorry if it's too long.*
WHAT I SEE HAPPENING here is this: you come to him with an expectation/desire for him to be engaged and interested in you, and sensing this expectation, he withdraws from you. This makes your desire for engagement even stronger, making him want to withdraw further, and so on and so on. From his perspective, he just wants some time where he doesn't have to do or be anyone specific to meet someone else's demands. He wants some freedom. His games don't demand anything from him--it's all voluntary. Meanwhile, he senses that you do want something from him so he retreats emotionally and even physically.

This puts you in a major bind, because the more you try to change it, the more you run into resistance. It's like those Chinese finger traps that tighten their grip as you try to pull your fingers apart. So the only real option you have is to stop fighting it all. Go spend some time with him quietly where you demand nothing from him at all. Let him play his video games while you play around on your laptop and read my website. Don't try and make little comments to grab his attention. Just let him play his stupid game and laugh when he gets killed. Keep referring to his character as "Mario" and keep asking him where the dragon is. Have some fun at his expense. Try that laid-back attitude for a little while, and when you're not sure what to do, just improvise.

The interaction you want will grow slowly and organically, even if it doesn't looks like what you expected. It'll be good though. And over time, he'll start to see that he doesn't have to force himself to be someone else for you and he'll be free to be his natural, groovy self. 

Got a question? Go here.

* That's what he said. Sorry, couldn't resist.

Ask Edahn Banner Contest Starts NOW

Bored? Wanna be world famous for 7-14 days?


Create a banner for my website and send it to AskEdahn@Gmail.com or get it to me some other way (comment under this post).
You can make it with MS Paint, Photoshop, or draw something and take a picture with your phone.
You can spend 5 minutes or 5 days making it.
But those are your only two options.
On Wednesday, April 20th, I'll select my favorite one, or do some gimmicky/douchey run-off.
If I only get one submission (yours) YOU WIN!
The only condition for this contest is that your banner has the words "Ask Edahn" in it and has nothing that's NSFW (not safe for work).
The dimensions for the current banner are 791 x 201 (I think). See it here.
When you submit an image, give it a snobby name and tell me what your inspiration for the concept was.


Begin artistic disaster NOW.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Land of Yogurt

So I just moved, as you may or may not know. (But you should if you read this blog as often as I do.) I just found out there's a Yogurtland about 2 blocks away, which is good news and bad news. It's good news because I can eat yogurt every goddamn day now. It's bad because...no...it's just good.

So I walk in and do my routine where I ask for sample cups, but it's a total con because I've already tasted every flavor they have there at least 100 times, and the flavors are only rotated once a month or less. It's not just me; everyone's in on it--the cashier, the customer, and the heavenly yogurt gods who fashion this delicious treat and bestow it upon man. We pretend like we just wanna try a new flavor, but we're really just using the samplers to build miniature froyo dessert cups to steal.

When I go into public places, I try to do as little talking as possible which means I have to do as much pretend sign language as possible. So rather than ask Peter for a sample cup, I demonstrate the proportions of the sample cup using my fingers. Anyone who was watching this transaction probably thinks Peter asked me "how big do you think my penis is? If you get it right, you win a sample cup." I got it right.

Double-ironically, Peter is an Asian guy with THE DEEPEST VOICE YOU HAVE EVER HEARD IN YOUR LIFE. I have a deep voice, but this guy made me tremble in my shoes when he spoke. SAMPLE CUPS ANYONE. Every time this guy spoke, everyone in the Yogurt Land froze. Even the music froze, which made no sense.

The fun didn't stop with Peter and his imaginary penis. I went around and surveyed the different flavors, again, like it was my first time ever in the Yogurt Land. What's this? Vanilla?!? Right then, one of the Yogurt Serfs (toiling in this particular Yogurt Land) comes up to me and says "need any help finding anything?"

Now, if you've been in a Yogurtland, you know that this is no complicated retail store. Ask me in Macy's if I need help finding something. Ask me in Costco if I need help finding something. (Where's the jet engines?) But in Yogurtland, this makes no sense. Yogurtland has 3 things:
  1. Yogurt
  2. Yogurt receptacles
  3. Tools to extract said yogurt from the receptacles
And that's it. They don't sell cellular phone accessories or pet food or board games. There're no sweaters or dishwashers or personalized stationary. It's just a land of yogurt occupied by lords and the serfs who do their bidding. That's it.

Naturally I asked him where the pet food was. In sign language.

Monday, April 4, 2011

MISSION 2: Wave to Neighbors

MISSION 2 is easy, and you should do it because the payoff is huge. Minimal effort, maximal payoff.

Task: Wave hello every person you see in your neighborhood.
Details: You don't have to start a conversation, just wave.
Payoff: Everyone in your neighborhood will start to feel safer and think that waving hello is part of the etiquette. This will make more people wave and eventually start greeting others, which will lead to conversations, more interaction, cooperation, belonging, friendship, intimacy, care, world peace.
Cost: 5-10 calories
No Brainer: Obviously, dummy
Duration of Mission: 4EVA


Anteater makes world peace too!

The Meta Shop

I'm opening the world's first Meta Shop. A sign outside will say 10% OFF ALL SIGNS and the store will sell other metastores. For snacktime, I'm serving this.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Things You Learn While Moving

I'm moving to a new place tomorrow so I've been packing my shit up. Here're some of the things I learned today:

  • There is a fine line between hoarding and whatever it is you're doing.
  • There are numerous girls in California missing one earring.
  • There's a real connection between the materials you cling to and the self-concept you cling to. Throwing stuff away is scary but also freeing.
  • It's weird how I can never seem to find a pen while owning about 200 of them.
  • My fucking walkman is still missing.

Bonus: Since I got good feedback on the last flowchart, I made another one called "How to Determine if You're a Hoarder." Enjoy. I put a lot of work into this one.