perspective

Practicing Factfulness

Practicing Factfulness

"Stories about gradual improvements rarely make the front page even when they occur on a dramatic scale and affect millions of people. And thanks to increasing press freedom and improving technology, we hear about more disasters than ever before. This improved reporting is itself a sign of human progress, but it creates the impression of the exact opposite." 

~ Hans Rosling

180°

180°

"When you feel the sting of separation inside, simply turn inwardly and intuitively around one hundred and eighty degrees and there will be your innocence, your beauty, your completeness. It may seem impossible, but give it a try until you reconnect with what in truth you never lost."

~ Adyashanti

The World at Peace

The World at Peace

"The reason that we have the impression that the world is a violent place is that that's what news is about. News is about stuff that happens, not about stuff that doesn't happen, and all the parts of the world that are free of war, that are free of terrorist attacks just don't get reported to us and so we forget about them. We're getting better and better at reporting the violent events that do occur. Something blows up, you can be sure you'll hear about it, but we don't appreciate how much of the world at any given time is at peace."

~ Steven Pinker

 

 

 

Stuck in the Same Predicament

Stuck in the Same Predicament

"Will Storr says once you realize how difficult it is to identify your own incorrect beliefs you can better empathize with people on the fringe, because they are stuck in the same predicament." ~ David McRaney

The Story Begins to Live and Breathe

Excerpt from Resurrecting Jesus: Embodying the Spirit of a Revolutionary Mystic by Adyashanti

Topiary Park, April 20, 2014Transmutation is what transfiguration and relinquishment make possible. In it, your orientation to life is entirely selfless. It's not that you want to be selfless or you're practicing being selfless: rather you're selfless in the sense of no self. 

For this transition to happen, one has to go through the death of the ego. Certain aspects of the transmutation may occur earlier in our own journey, but the crucifixion or relinquishment must be complete for it to happen in full. At that point, really, the only thing left to do is to be a selfless, benevolent presence in the world—there's really nothing else to do, nothing else that makes sense. Whatever that may look like—and it looks different for different people—that's where the whole process ends up. 

In the Jesus story, this stage is termed the resurrection. Out of death is resurrected a new life, which really means a new orientation. That movement, that long turning from self-orientation to selfless orientation now comes to fruition. This is where the journey culminates for Jesus, and this is where it ultimately culminates for anyone who's taken the journey of awakening.  

The story of Jesus mirrors back the journey of spiritual awakening for anyone who has the eyes to see it or the experience to notice it. I believe this is among the most powerful lenses through which to view the story, because from this perspective the story begins to live and breathe as a metaphor. 

Jesus doesn't live anything out in a small fashion; everything in his story is writ large. This makes it easier for us to see that he's depicting a journey of awakening. We shouldn't expect to live out our own journey in the same fashion and, fortunately, we don't have to, though our journey will certainly have its own challenges and intensity. 

The mystery of the story of Jesus is the same as the mystery of you and me and everyone: we are all God appearing as man and as woman, divine being manifesting as human being. They're actually two sides of the same coin. They're one and the same thing; it's only our minds that separate divinity and humanity. We separate them in our mind and in our experience, but the whole spiritual journey is finally to see that they aren't separate, that they never were separate...

And when you reorient your life toward this realization, then you understand: you so loved the world, you had so much compassion, you had so much love that you poured yourself forth into life, and that pouring forth was your birth. You are here to redeem whatever you encounter in this life, to wake up within everything the deep reality of its divine existence. 

The kingdom of heaven is spread upon earth and men do not see it. When you see this, you shift from being a victim of your life and assigning blame for the tragedy you encounter. The truth, I would suggest, is that you poured yourself willingly into form of infinite love in order to redeem the entirety of this life. When seen from that perspective, all of a sudden life looks different. You stop holding back from life, your inner life or the life around you, because the kingdom of heaven is within and all around you. That's the message of the Jesus story.  


See also: 

The Preparation for Those Moments is Your Life

"If you view crossing the finish line as the measure of your life, you’re setting yourself up for a personal disaster. There are very very very few people who win gold at the Olympics. And if you say, ‘if I don’t win gold then I’m a failure or I’ve let somebody down or something...’

What if you win a silver? What if you win a bronze? What if you come fourth? What if your binding comes apart?

What if all of those millions of things that happen in life happen...

Only a few people that go there are going to win gold. And it’s the same in some degree I think in commanding a spaceship or doing a spacewalk it is a very rare, singular moment-in-time event in the continuum of life.

And you need to honour the highs and the peaks in the moments — you need to prepare your life for them — but recognize the fact that the preparation for those moments is your life and, in fact, that’s the richness of your life...

The challenge that we set for each other, and the way that we shape ourselves to rise to that challenge, is life."

~ Chris Hadfield, Canadian astronaut 

See also: 

  • Hadfield, C. (2013). An astronaut's guide to life on Earth. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/861187010
  • Adams, S. (2013). How to fail at almost everything and still win big: Kind of the story of my life. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/842209207 (systems over goals)

A Poetry Workshop that Changed My Life

"In 1987, I dropped out of Gonzaga and followed a high school girlfriend to Washington State University (it's called Wazoo). And by complete chance, I enrolled in a poetry workshop that changed my life. On the first day, the teacher, Alex Kuo, gave me an anthology of contemporary Native poetry called Songs from this Earth on Turtle’s Back. There were poems by Adrian C. Louis, a Paiute Indian, and one in particular called “Elegy for the Forgotten Oldsmobile.” If I hadn’t found this poem, I don’t think I ever would have found my way as a writer. I would have been a high school English teacher who coached basketball. My life would have taken a completely different path."

~ Sherman Alexie, from "The Poem That Made Sherman Alexie Want to 'Drop Everything and Be a Poet'," by Joe Fassler, The Atlantic, October 16, 2013

More...

Native American poet and author Sherman Alexie on reservations, alcoholism and Chief Wahoo.

Disorder

Dilapidated Old Barn by Michael Bilodeau

What It Looks Like To Us and the Words We Use
by Ada Limón, from American Life in Poetry: Column 445

All these great barns out here in the outskirts,
black creosote boards knee-deep in the bluegrass.
They look so beautifully abandoned, even in use.
You say they look like arks after the sea’s
dried up, I say they look like pirate ships,
and I think of that walk in the valley where
J said, You don’t believe in God? And I said,
No. I believe in this connection we all have
to nature, to each other, to the universe.
And she said, Yeah, God. And how we stood there,
low beasts among the white oaks, Spanish moss,
and spider webs, obsidian shards stuck in our pockets,
woodpecker flurry, and I refused to call it so.
So instead, we looked up at the unruly sky,
its clouds in simple animal shapes we could name
though we knew they were really just clouds—
disorderly, and marvelous, and ours.

How Different the World Seems

One Hundred and Eighty Degrees
by
Federico Moramarco

Have you considered the possibility
that everything you believe is wrong,
not merely off a bit, but totally wrong,
nothing like things as they really are?

If you've done this, you know how durably fragile
those phantoms we hold in our heads are,
those wisps of thought that people die and kill for,
betray lovers for, give up lifelong friendships for.

If you've not done this, you probably don't understand this poem,
or think it's not even a poem, but a bit of opaque nonsense,
occupying too much of your day's time,
so you probably should stop reading it here, now.

But if you've arrived at this line,
maybe, just maybe, you're open to that possibility,
the possibility of being absolutely completely wrong,
about everything that matters.

How different the world seems then:
everyone who was your enemy is your friend,
everything you hated, you now love,
and everything you love slips through your fingers like sand.

[Whiskey River]

The Sliver of Absence

Ryoanji: An Assay
by Jane Hirshfield, from After

Wherever a person stands in the garden of Ryōan-ji, there is always a stone that cannot be seen. It is like the sliver of absence found on the face of a man who has glimpsed in himself a thing until then unknown. Inside the silence, just before he begins to weep. Not because of the thing he has learned — monstrous or saintly, it was always with him — but for the amplitude he hadn’t believed was there.

 

 

Once You've Seen

“Virtually all the world’s ills boil down to mindlessness. [Mindfulness] is not something you have to strain to do, it’s like those optical illusion brain teasers. Once you’ve seen there is another perspective, you can never not see that there’s another point of view.”

~ Ellen Langer, from "The Mindfulness Chronicles," by Cara Feinberg, Harvard Magazine, Sep/Oct 2010

See also:

Once Again Trees

March 30, 2011

“When you start on a long journey, trees are trees, water is water, and mountains are mountains. After you have gone some distance, trees are no longer trees, water no longer water, mountains no longer mountains. But after you have travelled a great distance, trees are once again trees, water is once again water, mountains are once again mountains.”

~ attributed to Ch'ing-yüan, from The Way of Zen by Alan Watts

Managing Dissent

“We need to create the space for what I call managed dissent. If we are to shift paradigms, if we are to make breakthroughs, if we are to destroy myths, we need to create an environment in which expert ideas are battling it out, in which we're bringing in new, diverse, discordant, heretical views into the discussion, fearlessly, in the knowledge that progress comes about, not only from the creation of ideas, but also from their destruction—and also from the knowledge that, by surrounding ourselves by divergent, discordant, heretical views, all the research now shows us that this actually makes us smarter.

Encouraging dissent is a rebellious notion because it goes against our very instincts, which are to surround ourselves with opinions and advice that we already believe or want to be true. And that's why I talk about the need to actively manage dissent.

Google CEO Eric Schmidt is a practical practitioner of this philosophy. In meetings, he looks out for the person in the room—arms crossed, looking a bit bemused—and draws them into the discussion, trying to see if they indeed are the person with a different opinion, so that they have dissent within the room. Managing dissent is about recognizing the value of disagreement, discord and difference.”

~ Noreena Hertz, from “How to Use Experts and When Not to,” TED Talks, Nov. 2010

The Way We Perceive

Ludwig Wittgenstein "That it doesn't strike us at all when we look around us, move about in space, feel our own bodies, shows how natural these things are to us. We do not notice that we see space perspectively or that our visual field is in some sense blurred towards the edges. It doesn't strike us and never can strike us because it is the way we perceive. We never give it a thought and it's impossible we should, since there is nothing that contrasts with the form of our world. What I wanted to say is it's strange that those who ascribe reality only to things and not to our ideas move about so unquestioningly in the world as idea and never long to escape from it."

~ Ludwig Wittgenstein

See also: Hidden in Plain Sight All Around Us