Archive for November 23, 2012

Human Nature

Never regret the past. Most of the frustration we experience comes from wishing that our past was somehow different: “if only I had learned these things earlier, then my life would have turned out differently!” But the past can’t be changed. No amount of wishing can bring about such a change, no matter how pure our intentions are. The wisest approach to take is to accept your past for what it is, with all the mistakes you have done and all the bruises you carry with you to this day. Accepting your past is an important step towards change, since it liberates you from trying to control what’s beyond your power to control, and to focus on what’s within your power to control; the decisions you make right now, and in the future. This isn’t my way of lamenting over what happened in the past, but to acknowledge and appreciate the ideas that have helped me change course, which I hope others will find useful in shaping the rest of their lives.

Think for yourself, as having others think on your behalf is a safe bet, except for the fact that it never is. But I’m too ignorant, isn’t an excuse, either. You need to develop your own thinking apparatus to understand life for yourself. You can’t borrow other people’s brains or their conclusions. Not only is it intellectually unwise, but psychologically destructive. If you bypass your own reasoning process, you won’t be able to work with your own emotions and develop the right mindset to approach life with. Ask people questions, especially if they’re more knowledgeable than you. Discuss your own thoughts with them, but don’t put your mind on hold because someone else is willing to think on your behalf.

There is a world-wide epidemic that considers selfishness to be evil. If you do something for your own well-being, without benefiting anyone else, then you’re a selfish good-for-nothing. This attitude to life makes you feel guilty whenever you pursue anything that brought pleasure to you, without it being beneficial to others. Your well-being is your own responsibility. It’s silly to put other people’s interests and concerns before your own so that you can be considered moral because it would also mean that you’re going to demand that others put your concerns before their own, otherwise they’d be selfish good-for-nothings also. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t be considerate. Being selfish, and respecting other people’s right to the pursuit of their own happiness is the foundation of the Golden Rule.

Happiness is on earth. Religious ideas that life on earth is of little worth, and the only value it has is in paving the way for the afterlife. Such religion is not considerate of how you feel, it is more important that you do things that guarantee you a lofty place in paradise. In fact, activities that bring happiness and pleasure are interpreted as distraction or devilish deception that will lead one away from God’s path. Understand that happiness is on earth and should be the basis for moral code suitable for humans. The idea that individual happiness conflicts with morality is a Kantian perversion that’s at the heart of most human problems, and this belief system wastes years of our life running away from happiness rather than pursuing it.

Religion should serve mankind, not the other way around. Don’t be a religious extremist that life consisted of making sacrifices for the sake of religion, rather than appreciating the teachings it carried to advance life, and contribute to the lives of those around us. Religion is the means, not the end. It exists to serve mankind. Religious teachings agree that God does not benefit from religion. When it becomes a tool to divide and destroy lives and relationships, you know that something is wrong, and it’s best to make that observation early on in life.

The either-or mindset is the dominant attitude of life. We are expected to make compromises and choose between one of two options in all aspects of life. You either want to make money, or be happy. You either become successful at work, or spend time with your family. You either want to be intelligent or physically fit. We’re always expected to choose one option and abandon the other. I think that in most cases where we have to choose between competing options, we can have them both. Most dichotomies are false. They are presented with too many artificial limitations that we fail to recognize ways in which we can have all we want. You either do something that advances your well-being at other people’s expense, or advances other people’s well-being at your own expense. But we don’t think of ways where no one has to make sacrifices and everybody wins, because we assume that there has to be a loser at the end of the day. Life isn’t about compromises, so don’t make any when you don’t have to.

You are not your self-image concept is an extremely liberating realization, but it has to click with you before you can reap its benefits. Your self-image is who you think you are. But who you think you are isn’t really you. It’s an impression you have of yourself, based on past experiences, what others have told you about yourself and your obsession with putting labels on yourself as being good, bad, shy, confident, etc. You take every opportunity to add a new label on yourself or reinforce an old one. Every action you do or avoid has to say something about who you are, which you use to shape your self-image. But every action you do or avoid has something to say about the decisions you have made in the past, and it is up to you to change your decisions in future circumstances. The first thing you can do is drop your self-image, and focus on making the right decision in every situation you face. Don’t worry about judging yourself or what others will think of you. Judge the decision, and you’ll be able to escape the grip of a false self-image that limits your options because you want to act consistently with that self-image. Throughout our life we are asking ourselves “Who am I?” i.e. what is my self-image, then proceeded to act accord to the answer. If you’ve been wondering why change is so difficult, the reason at the heart of this struggle is you are faithful to your self-image. Drop your self-image, and you will be able to realize the options open to you, which you’ve never considered before because they clashed with your self-image.

Human Universals

Some of the greatest minds on earth also have a great capacity to remember. Many would prefer to forget their memories of mankind. Universal Ethics is a set of principles which apply to all humans, whether secular or religious, independent from any particular faith. The compilation of Universal Ethics is not the base for a new religion; in particular it does not say anything about metaphysical or liturgical concepts of any kinds. That means that it does not give any explanation for the existence of the Universe including the existence of man. It does not prescribe any particular ritual. It does not deal with the concept of God. It does not contain any myths, stories or immutable dogmas. Most importantly, Universal Ethics does not prescribe any formal changes for any existing or future creed. Universal Ethics are a sort of Moral Constitution which is articulated as a set of specific ethical principles acceptable to all human beings. Under this ‘constitution’ all religions or secular groups can develop or maintain their own additional ethical principles.

Until recently, the possibility that our species has a built-in moral sense, a basic human capacity to make judgments about right and wrong, has been argued more by assertion and analysis of human behavior than by demonstrated biological fact. Especially rare, if not missing entirely from the argument, has been the fact that we could not draw upon how the brain works in morally challenging situations. Modern social scientists can get only so far in their efforts to understand human behavior. James Q. Wilson used analysis of social science research in his classic 1993 book, The Moral Sense, but admitted, "The truth, if it exists, is in the details. I am not trying to discover ‘facts’ that will prove ‘values’; I am endeavoring to uncover the evolutionary, developmental, and cultural origins of our moral habits and our moral sense. But in discovering these origins, I suspect that we will encounter uniformities; and by revealing uniformities, I think that we can better appreciate what is general, non-arbitrary, and emotionally compelling about human nature."

Wilson, the distinguished political scientist from Harvard and now UCLA, suggested, "However much the scientific method is thought to be the enemy of morality, scientific findings provide substantial support for its existence and power." Wilson cast an astonishingly wide net to make his case for an innate human moral sense. He reviewed not only the history of philosophy but also evolutionary theory, anthropology, criminology, psychology, and sociology. He concluded that no matter what intellectuals argue, there are certain universal, guiding moral instincts. In fact, they are so instinctual that they often get overlooked: "Much of the dispute over the existence of human universals has taken the form of a search for laws and stated practices. But what is most likely to be universal are those impulses that, because they are so common, scarcely need to be stated in the form of a rule. Highest among these are that all societies believe that murder and incest are wrong, that children are to be cared for and not abandoned, that we should not tell lies or break promises, and that we should be loyal to family. Wilson rejected the idea that morality is purely a social contract–that we are constrained by the need to behave a certain way because of external factors: "For there to be a contract, whether to create a state or manage and exchange, there must first be a willingness to obey contracts; there must be in Durkheim’s phrase, some non-contractual elements of contract."

Wilson may have been prescient. A series of studies suggesting that there is a brain-based account of moral reasoning have burst onto the scientific scene.

Tough Times Never Last, But Tough People Do

The economic downturn is real. Unemployment is high, business is down, people are grapping with horrible realities of home loss; these are scary times. There’s an overall tone of gloom. People are extra crabby on the subway. I hereby ban the irritated cluck and sigh as a way to express annoyance. I imagine it’s the same all over. But I, for one, am fighting for mood independence. I do not want to pitch myself off the gloom bridge.

Perhaps it’s easy for employed me to say, but I notice it’s a struggle to extract myself from the overall vibe because I’m well aware that todays’ employed could be tomorrow’s worried thumb-twiddling. Melancholy and worry are not some of my main default settings. But I’m trying to remember that I am not socially obligated to feel lousy all the time. This moment is fine, and all the moments of today have been fine. It’s a mental practice to keep myself there; especially as I am someone who tends to take on the feelings of others like a particularly absorbent sponge. Here are some ways I’m fighting the urge to be bummed about the economy or Michael Jackson, or whatever else is consuming mass consciousness at the moment.

“These are tough times” may be true, but it’s a bummer of a sentence, it doesn’t come from my soul, and it’s not something I want to reinforce. These are also the best of times and having our words reflect that creates a positive spiral. I mindfully stayed away from “trend pieces” about the direction of the economy. It’s not only that I’m burning my head in the sand, it’s that the experts don’t know any better than we do which “direction we’re headed.” Most of the stuff on TV, radio, online, and in print are sheer time and page-filling speculation. Do they have more information than we do? Yep and once in a while it’s useful to catch up. But there’s no need to bathe in the negativity soup.

Sitting on public transport or in a waiting room, it’s incredibly easy for me to take in all the morose faces and begin to match my mood to theirs, emotional chameleon that I am. We can catch ourselves by asking: Is this my sadness? If not, nip it; certainly we have enough of our own actual feelings to handle.

Art of Aging with Grace

There are countless individuals all over the world who dread getting older. They may even fear that it will ruin their lives. Goodness knows, that’s how some feel for years! As soon as you realize that transforming this negative mindset is the only way to insure life-long youthfulness, you will get to work! No way, do not allow fears to determine your destiny.

Attitude is a very powerful force in controlling our lives. We know how important it is to maintain a positive attitude in all areas of life. Who hasn’t experienced discouragement and depression when faced with daunting challenges? With aging, it’s even more crucial. So much in society works against creating and maintaining a positive attitude. Overcoming the discouraging messages that bombard us daily will have an amazing effect on our aging process. By countering this brainwashing, we become the victor over time, and not its victim.

Does this involve tremendous determination and courage? Yes, it does… but, I assure you, it’s worth it! The ongoing focus and spiritual power we develop as we work to transform aging from a downward spiral into a life-affirming adventure will strengthen our resolve. As an added bonus, the discouraging images from the media will cease to affect us. So many of us are terrified that aging inevitably takes away the things we love. We fear that we would be too exhausted and out of shape to enjoy dancing, or date, or even have sex. We wonder what would happen to our looks. Would we lose our muscle tone and become unappealing? Would we become discouraged and depressed?

A Transformed Attitude = Transformed Aging!

These doubts haunts majority day and night. Perhaps they haunt some of us as well. But the good part of acknowledging our fears is that they can inspire us to comb through books, take classes, join a gym, go on a diet, order exercise equipment, hire a massage therapist… and engage in all sorts of new and wonderful ways to generate youth. As we take aging into our own hands, we will experience renewed energy and optimism. Learn the art of aging with grace, beauty and sexuality. It may sound simplistic; however, I assure you that as soon as you stop fearing and hating aging, you will undergo a positive transformation that will shock you! The face you see in the mirror will glow with optimism and joy!

Don’t give up on your body and your spirit and they won’t give up on you!

Cool

Posted November 23, 2012 by dranilj1 in Photography

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Happy Thanksgiving

Grateful for each hand we hold

Gathered round this table.

From far and near we travel home,

Blessed that we are able.

Grateful for this sheltered place

With light in every window,

Saying “welcome, welcome, share this feast

Come in away from sorrow.”

Father, mother, daughter, son,

Neighbor, friend and friendless;

All together everyone in the gift of loving-kindness.

Grateful for what’s understood,

And all that is forgiven;

We try so hard to be good,

To lead a life worth living.

Father, mother, daughter, son,

Neighbor, friend, and friendless;

All together everyone, let grateful days be endless.

Grateful for each hand we hold

Gathered round this table.

Posted November 23, 2012 by dranilj1 in Lifestyle

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Civilized Brutality

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Hang until death is brutality to human. Why this prevails. It has been abandoned in several countries and has been put back by incarceration which is shoddier than hang until death itself. Better die in a second than die lifetime. Hang until death is not penalty. You cannot give life as a reward, how can you give death as a sentence? Eccentrically, unless proved innocent, you are guilty. This defies humanitarian ethics, democracy, freedom and respect for individuality. Why not unless you are proved guilty, you are innocent?

Eye for an eye leaves whole humanity blind. If one had killed someone, then he should be killed; strange logic. If killing is a crime, how can you remove crime by handing over equal crime again? To start one was killed; now two men are killed. To provide evidence for a murder is not straightforward thing. If killing is wrong, then killing by the accused, by society and its court is same act of killing. Killing is a crime. Hang until death is a crime committed by civilization against a single, helpless individual. Hang until death is vengeance. Society vents retaliation because accused did not follow the system of civilization and now civilization is all set to kill him. If anyone kills his fellow brothers he is mentally ill. Instead of taking care physically, psychologically and spiritually, killer is killed. He is sick. He needs compassion; there is no question of punishment and chastisement.

Yes, it is true, one man is murdered; but we cannot do anything about it. By murdering this man do you think the other will come back to life If that were possible, I would be all in support of this man being removed; he is not worth being part of the civilization and the other should be revived. But that does not happen. The other is gone forever; there is no way to revive him. Yes, you can do one thing; you can kill this man, too. This is cleaning blood with blood. Nobody deserves hang until death. In fact, not only the Hang until death, no other kind of punishment is right, because punishment never cures the person.

Every day the number of criminals is growing and you build more prisons; strange. Converse should be the case, because with so many courts, punishments and prisons, crimes and criminals should be less. Slowly, prisons and courts should be less. But that is not happening. Nobody is a criminal. People need compassion, not imprisonment. All prisons should be changed into mental health centers.

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