Be Kind to everyone...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Wednesday, July 28, 2010 2:18 AM 3 comments
There’s something so powerfully simple, profoundly beautiful, about the Dalai Lama’s quote: “My religion is very simple. My religion is kindness.”

It’s a philosophy I’ve been exploring for awhile, and though I don’t claim to have even come close to mastering it, it turns out this is a single word that can become the central tenet of your life, if you let it: “kindness”.

Kindness can guide every interaction you have with others, can guide your life’s work, can give meaning to your life, can even guide your eating, parenting, marriage, and more.

All else will melt away, if you let go of it, and leave only kindness.

Doing to others IS doing to yourself

The Golden Rule goes something along the lines of, “Treat others as you’d want to be treated (in their place)”, but in another conception, how you treat others is how you treat yourself.

Consider: when you react to others with anger or meanness, you are putting yourself in an angry mindset, a bad mood. You’ll likely feel pretty crappy for at least an hour, if not all day.

When you are uncaring or indifferent to others, you also create an empty, blank feeling in yourself, a void that cannot be filled with gadgets, social networking, shopping, food, or possessions.

When instead you are kind, you build a good feeling within yourself, you make yourself happy. In effect, you are being kind to yourself.

Other outward-facing actions have a similar inward effect: if you want to learn, teach. If you need inspiration, inspire others. If you’re sad, cheer someone up.

mindfulness + kindfulness

It is near impossible, in my experience, to transition towards kindness without being mindful. Thoughtlessness leads to unkindnesses.

You must be mindful of every interaction with another human being. Approach each person mindfully, with your full attention, smiling, seeking to understand them, trying to interact with gentleness, warmth, compassion.

When someone comes to talk to you, when your kid tugs on your pant leg for attention, when your spouse or best friend starts speaking, turn to them without distraction, putting everything else away, and give your full attention. Listen.

Here’s something beautiful: by treating others with kindness, you will create a happy feeling within yourself, effectively creating a positive feedback loop for your mindfulness. This will encourage you to be more mindful throughout your day, which will help you to treat others with yet more kindness, and so on.

Mindfulness and kindfulness feed on each other in a wonderful cycle.

Practicing the religion of kindness

This all, of course, takes careful practice, and the more you practice, the better you’ll get at it.

There’s an evolution in kindness, a process in which I’m still only near the middle (more likely in the beginning and just don’t know it), where kindness can slowly infuse your life, transform everything you do.

Relationships: Your interactions and eventually your relationships with others, including friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, will slowly grow more positive, stronger.

Parenting: If you are a disciplinarian parent, learning to make every interaction with your child one centered on kindness will create a new type of relationship, and will teach your child how to be kind to others, by your example. Your actions are a much better teacher than your words.

Work: It might seem unrealistic, but it is possible to center your work around kindness. Gradually and purposefully make your work a living expression of your kindness, your love, in your interaction with your customers, co-workers, colleagues, the world … in what you produce and put out there.

Eating: A vegan diet is perhaps the kindest diet, all things being equal. This is from the belief that animals suffer when we put them in miserable living conditions, maim and shock them, kill them, for our pleasure.

I’m not saying this to be self-righteous, or to make anyone feel guilty, but only for your kind consideration — to consider the animals as you eat. Consider also, as you are contemplating kindness, your eating’s effects on farmers and workers, on your health and the health of your family, and on the environment.

It isn’t easy to be kind on every possible human transaction, on every interaction we have throughout the day. It’s far easier to be thoughtless. It can feel better to get back at someone when they are unkind to you (at least, it feels better at first). It takes less effort to not care.

But when we touch another person’s life, our lives are being touched as well.

What shape do you want your life to take? That will be completely determined by the effort you take to be mindful, and to be kindful.

Remember... “Wherever there is a human being there is an opportunity for kindness.”

Elimate Fear from your Life

Posted by Tandarin Nike Sunday, July 25, 2010 1:55 AM 3 comments
Fear is keeping us from living our lives to the fullest, and in most cases, it is keeping us from achieving anything even close to what we are capable of.

Fear is elusive, however, and is often disguised as something a bit less debilitating, which is why it is not always seen as the true culprit behind so many of our shortcomings.

I am not talking about fear as in being afraid for your life itself, but rather fear that any given situation is not going to turn out the way that we want it to.

Whenever we get into an argument with our spouse or other family member, it is because we are afraid that the situation is not going to be resolved the way we feel that it should be.

Maybe we are afraid that the other person will not see our point of view, and will then make the wrong choices because they were unable to understand what we were saying.

Maybe we are afraid that the person will not see us as a valuable and needed part of their lives, and will then leave us behind.

Maybe we are afraid that we will hurt their feelings or damage their ability to get through life, so we tip-toe around our true beliefs and desires in order to better serve their needs.

Let's look at another example – Our careers.

Many people go to college or some sort of vocational school because they are afraid that without "formal" education, they will not be able to get a good job.

When someone is already working for a particular employer, they are sometimes not 100% satisfied with their job or that employer, but they stay there anyway because they are afraid that they will not be able to find a better job that pays the same, or that has the same benefits as their present job.

We often put up with behavior or negative attitudes from our co-workers because we fear that "rocking the boat" at work will cause us to get fired, lose the respect of our co-workers, or that no one will like us.

What about health and fitness? Is that driven by fear as well?

People get involved in fitness programs every day because they get bad news from their doctor, and they become afraid that their actual life expectancy will be limited if they do not start exercising and eating right.

People start trying to lose weight because they become afraid that they will not be able to find an attractive and successful companion unless they look like one of the actors or models that are all over television, movies, and magazines.

Weight loss programs are started all the time by people who are about to attend a family or class reunion because they are afraid they will be looked down upon by their family members or old classmates unless they appear to be fit, confident, and in control of their lives.

These examples could go on and on and on to encompass every single aspect of the human existence here on planet earth. However, you do not need to read endless examples to see the affect that fear has on your own life every single day.

Simply start examining any given situation that you are feeling anxious or nervous about, and ask yourself what it is that you are afraid of in that situation.

You will find across the board that there is always a resounding reason why you feel anxious about everything from where to find a parking space to whether or not to accept a marriage proposal, or a job offer.

Your fear that something bad will happen if you make the wrong decision is what is driving the thought process for pretty much every decision that you ever make.

Do you really think it is a very good idea to make every decision that you make in your life based on a negative emotion such as fear?

The answer, of course, is No, and you can start eliminating fear from your life right now. All you have to do is realize the simple fact that whatever it is that you are afraid of is going to happen anyway, whether you are afraid of it or not.

In fact, believers in concepts such as the Law of Attraction will recognize that by expressing fear about something, you will only serve to cause the thing that you are afraid of to actually happen.

However, whether or not you believe in your ability to consciously create your life, it is a rock-solid fact that if you express fear about something, no good will come about as a result of that.

Should you respect things that could potentially cause negative circumstances to manifest in your life? Absolutely.

Should you prepare for things in order to minimize the chance that you will not be happy with the results of any given situation? Sure.

However, being afraid that life in general is not going to go your way will only serve to make you ACT from a position of fear. That will very often have implications for your life that are at least as negative as – if not more so – than what would have happened if you had never expressed that fear in the first place.

Remember the following very wise quote:

"Anything that doesn't kill us only makes us stronger."

Unless you are in a situation where your life is in actual danger, always ask yourself if being afraid at that moment is even worth it.

Achieving my goals & the collapse of time...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Tuesday, July 20, 2010 11:51 AM 3 comments

A friend once drew 2 points on a piece of paper and asked me, “What is the shortest distance between these 2 points?” Being the scientific genius that I am, I said, “A straight line.”

He then folded the paper with the 2 points over each other and replied, “The shortest distance is here and now.”

I’m reading Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now and I’m at the point where he’s explaining that the only point in time is now.

Intellectually that is a simple concept to grasp. If I ask you what time it is, you might look at your watch and tell me 8:16am, but really, what time is it? It is now. If I ask you 15 minutes from 8:16am, it will still be now. Really getting it though, is another matter.

We are so attached to the concept of time that even when we speak of self awareness and spirituality we speak in terms of personal development and levels of consciousness. What if there is nothing to develop and no levels to achieve?

What if we could stand in this moment and experience all that there IS? What if as time, as we know it, progresses, we continue to stay present in the moment?

Well, I don’t know about you, but that brought up a slew of other questions for me. The one that was most disturbing was reconciling the idea of goal achievement and staying in the present moment. Admittedly, I am attached to my goals.

I spend a lot of time working on them, internally and externally. I visualize. I read them out loud. I plan my day around them. I breathe them. I am one walking goal achieving machine, and I’m good at it. I love achieving goals. It’s a high.

I realized this about myself last year when I was planning this year and I made a lot of my goals activities that I participated in and others I made destinations. I did that so that I would not constantly be living in “when that happens I will do…” So I have goals like exercising, reading, and writing daily, and only eating when hungry and until full.

Those goals - if they can even be called that - prevent me from constantly looking on the horizon. They help me to stay present.

On the other hand, I still have goals that are in the future, like being financially secure, and generating 50,000 page views. What of those goals? Do I just put them out of my mind?

Tolle goes on to talk of two concepts of time: clock time and psychological time. He describes clock time as a neutral container that we are living in. To my understanding, it’s like taking the attachment out of progression. It’s just a common descriptor of what time it is.

Psychological time he describes as the time that we are attached to. Those moments in the the past that we keep replaying as though they were real and the days in the future that we keep looking forward to because they are going to be miraculously blissful and inevitably better than what we are experiencing now.

These ideas are a bit too complex for me, too semantic. I like to think of it like a braid of yarn. Now, for me is the junction between everything that is braided and the frays at the ends. It is the fulcrum. The moment where all possibilities exist.

The braided part will be the part that is done and the points at the end of the frays represent possible destinations. You can see the end of a fray, but you can only get there by choosing that thread in this moment.

Back to goals: One of the goals that I dropped for the year was ending up at a particular weight. Overall, I want to be healthy. I see it at the end of one of the frays.

Every day I wake up, I have a choice, I can exercise or not. I used to be so focused on the end of the fray that I was not present to make the choice in the moment.

As a result my goal of losing weight never materialized. Since I bring myself back to the choice everyday, I am progressing along the thread that leads to weight loss. I’m down 10 lbs because of it and everyday I notice the changes in my body.

More than that, my overall goal of being healthy is materializing as well. I’m more active, vital, energized. My skin is smooth and radiant. I choose healthier foods. I feel alive.

All of the goals I’ve made that seem like destinations, I’ve brought down to choices in the moment.

It is proving a very successful strategy for goal achievement.

It will be a cashless world...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Friday, July 16, 2010 12:55 AM 3 comments
Cash will eventually go away. So will checks. Someday all you will need is a retina scan and a password, or an embedded chip, or something along those lines.

Imagine a world where all transactions are digital. I'm not sure we know what's ahead.

For starters, you wouldn't have to prepare your taxes. All of your transactions would be reported as they happened. Perhaps you'd have a separate password for business-related transactions to keep things straight.

I wonder how much of the budget deficit could be closed by eliminating the ability for cash businesses to lie on their taxes. It's probably a big number. A cashless world could create a huge shift of the tax burden to lower income folks who currently get paid in cash.

When you eliminate cash, you also eliminate a lot of crime. Criminals need cash to stay off the radar.

In a cashless world, drug dealers and crime syndicates could try to set up fake businesses to launder their revenues, but it wouldn't work. Imagine setting up a fake dry cleaner, for example. The government could easily determine whether that business is buying the type and quantity of dry cleaning supplies typically needed, and whether the profit margins are at industry norms.

All of that information would be available through the tax records.

A drug dealer could pretend to be a consultant, but even then you expect a digital trail for buying printer ink, business travel, and the like. Perhaps the drug dealer's address and educational level would be tip-offs too.

Violent crime will greatly diminish too, because so much of society's violence happens in the context of criminal enterprises that will no longer be profitable or practical.

In the cashless world, you would never need to carry a wallet. You would never need to balance a checkbook or spend an evening paying bills. Many of you have already reached that point. But you'd also never have to drive to an ATM because some caveman paid you with a check, and you'd never need to wait in line behind someone who is paying by check. I just can't wait.

Everyone's fear, of course, is that a cashless society is more vulnerable to government tyranny. But realistically, moving from a 65% cashless world, where we probably are today, to 100%, probably doesn't generate that much extra tyranny, unless you're a drug dealer.

There's a privacy issue, too. But as I normally argue, privacy will someday be a quaint footnote in history.

When privacy goes away completely, we'll all be freer. There's only a penalty to privacy when your neighbor can look down his nose at your hobbies while secretly subscribing to Field and Stream magazine.

The best two situations for society are when you have either complete privacy or complete non-privacy. It's the middle ground that creates problems. That's where we are now.

Kids already have no privacy. Their texting and browsing histories can be monitored. Their locations can be tracked. And if they have a credit card, their purchasing can be tracked.

In practice, parents don't take advantage of all the ways they can monitor their teens, but everyone understands that the tools exist.

That generation will never have a memory of privacy as their parents knew it.


Spain deserved the World Cup.....

Posted by Tandarin Nike Monday, July 12, 2010 9:44 AM 8 comments

They were partying in the streets of Tenerife last night as Spain’s foot balling philosophy prevailed with a 1-0 win over a barbaric Dutch outfit.

In keeping with the somewhat predictable tenor that this World Cup has kept in tune to, the tournament’s final sang from a very similar hymn sheet. A low-scoring affair dotted with poor refereeing decisions was decided by Andres Iniesta’s solitary goal.

Admittedly, the intensity of the contest reflected the importance of the match and made for a compelling spectacle. Sadly though, I doubt this final will live long in the memory for footballing reasons.

Rather, it will go down as the final where the Netherlands sacrificed their principles and paid the ultimate price. Their unsporting behavior was an insult to their glittering footballing history and the spirit of the beautiful game, and has been met with indignation worldwide.

A dogged Netherlands side made its strategy quite conspicuous from the outset: to close down Spain’s fantastic midfield quartet through foul play and intimidation.

Much had been made of Howard Webb’s selection as referee for this game, though he hardly covered himself in glory. Much like his footballing counterparts, Webb froze on the biggest stage of them all and got the big decisions wrong. He can now join the ever-growing pantheon of our footballing exports to rejoice in eternal mediocrity.

How Nigel De Jong managed to stay on the pitch after his kung-fu assault on Xabi Alonso beggars belief. Similarly, it’s a miracle that the feculent character of Mark van Bommel lasted the full 120 minutes played, despite his reckless challenge on Andres Iniesta warranting a red card in itself.

After transferring his sense of officialdom to these two troglodytes, it was only natural that the whole game would be played in the same vein. To quote from another sport, ref-bashing nowadays may be par for the course, but Webb’s ineptitudes were made glaringly obvious last night. Hopefully, Mr. Sepp Blatter has taken note.

But it was not meant to turn out this way. Some may be forgiven for perceiving me to be high up on my footballing pedastal, lambasting the Dutch for not sticking to a hypothetical script of lavish intrepidity. After all, their performances in previous games in this tournament have also not been in the same mould as previous years, instead hacking results out of rock rather than carving them out of marble.

Yet few can be happy with the way the match panned out, failing to live up to its unparalleled billing. Two sublime footballing philosophies were to clash for the first time ever in a World Cup final, and viewers across the globe were entitled to expect a sumptuous affair. Sadly, this wasn’t to be, primarily thanks to the Netherlands. Regardless of their questionable exploits, I took great pleasure in seeing Spain cut through their welded doors to claim the prize on the other side.

For a nation that used to pride itself on playing Total Football, it’s a shame that thuggery and cynicism has overtaken free-flowing play. In some circles, some would suggest that the game was a high-octane display of blood and thunder, the Dutch’s abrasiveness contrasting with Spanish artistry.

However, I for one find it difficult to condone such heavy-handed tactics, particularly when this Netherlands side has some of the most technically gifted players in the world in Wesley Sneijder, Robin van Persie and Rafael van der Vaart. It’s also a shame in that the Oranje often looked dangerous on the counter-attack. Perhaps if they had forced the issue themselves initially, we would be talking about a different result. Obviously, negating your opponent’s strengths is a legitimate tactic, but it should come with consideration for the laws of the game.

I take no pleasure in spraying blankets of vitriol at defense-oriented line-ups, despite the lack of enterprising play as a result. Football is a results business after all. Of course, a defensive outlook does not make for great entertainment per se, but the legality of such an approach should not be brought into question. Likewise, one proposing the need for a Dutch Zugzwang of sorts are naive at best, but surely with the talent at their disposal, simply attempting to win the match isn’t a figment of idealism. But alas, the Dutch were nothing short of disgraceful last night, their raging cynicism only equaled by those journalists who claim that Spain adopted similarly violent tactics.

Many people have suggested that Spain are not worthy winners of the World Cup, as they finished the tournament with the lowest amount of goals scored for a victorious side.

However, what these people need to consider is the way in which teams set their stall out when they play Spain. To not concede a goal. But the Netherlands took it to an extreme last night. Spain’s 1-0 victories are not a reflection of the wondrous imagination and subtly shown in their games.

When coupled with their supreme technical ability diffused into them from early age, it was always likely that they would leave South Africa with glory, regardless of how unimpressive the scoreboards were in their respective games. They’re a joy to watch, and their victory over the Netherlands is even sweeter with the following point in mind. They didn’t sacrifice their principles, as they are irrevocably ingrained with their fantastic ball retention skills. Despite their formulaic devotion to an expansive approach, they still win football matches.

And now they have the biggest trophy of them all to substantiate their admirable ethos, removing all traces of doubt from even the sternest of skeptics.

Developed from the revolutionary stylistics of Tika Taka, Spain has developed an awe-inspiring system that no other team in the world can match.

Thankfully, even the Dutch’s unwelcome display of acrimony could not contain Spain’s majestic beauty.

Just like their head coach Vicente del Bosque said, this was a victory for beautiful football. I second that totally as I have witnessed it, in person, years ago in Tenerife during a local club match.

The spaniards are as good as the best in this game.... its in their blood.

They have proved it this time.

Perhaps the world one day is irreversibly changed... ...

Posted by Tandarin Nike Tuesday, July 6, 2010 2:07 AM 2 comments
How can one save the world? This is another question I’ve posed myself often.

People tend to believe they’re too insignificant to make any difference, but I think that is a huge mistake. If one manages to free himself from the choking tentacles of most of the principles ruling contemporary society and to change himself to become a more natural human being, he will always facilitate change in his immediate surroundings.

Subtle and insignificant as it may be, it might be the little ball of snow needed to create an avalanche in the long term.

This contemporary society, deformed as it may be, consists of individuals, people who all possess the power to grow into little balls of snow, little vessels each blessed with the potential for genuine change. And yet, these deeply meandering powers of transformation are not of our own making, just like the minerals needed for a blossom to bloom are not made by the young blossom itself. They are given to him by forces deeper and older than he will ever grow up to be; forces, obscurely hidden within gnarled roots and dark soil which need the potential hidden within the seemingly insignificant blossom to express themselves in a continuous act of authentic Creation.

Likewise, Man does not possess these powers of transformation, but he can be a mediator to express them in the most creative and influencing way. Moreover, change should make one humble towards the potential he has been given; if the blossom believes he owns the powers of the tree, arrogance, self complacency and blind ignorance will fall like acid rain on its fragile flowers until it even threatens to undermine the health of the whole tree if such a belief pervades the entire group of blossoms.

Perhaps that is what is happening with this world today. The age-old wells of Creation seem to get buried deeper and deeper on an evermore faster pace. Instead of an individually unfolding inner Beauty subtly driven by a Holy Fire, a collective outer order of Ugliness has emerged, sailing chaotically on the chilling winds of the unchained yet still unrecognized forces of life.

There’s a catastrophe in the making without precedence. At its heart, this catastrophe is not due to all these external problems the world is experiencing nowadays. Global warming, environmental degradation and pollution, overpopulation, crimes against humanity, the eternal hunger in the world, corruptions of power and the delusions sprayed by the Holy Religion of Money, all these problems appear to be merely the consequences of a disease which is rooted at a much deeper level.

It can’t be found in any external things, but it hides deeply within the fathomless human soul, where the political, social and scientific revolutions of the past few centuries have created a split within the fabric itself from which Man is born.

Man did not just throw away God in the Abyss, but in his limitless arrogance and blindness he has even tried to take over His seat. Nature has lost her sacred values to become the cold, statistical game of atoms, molecules, proteins and genes. Her eternally refilling well of wisdom is slowly being evaporated by the blistering sun of an all-consuming ratio and the ignorance of a race which is still arrogantly trying too hard to blow up every bridge which still linked him with his Origin of Creation.

Man is no longer born as a Mystery which needs to be delicately unwrapped, but as a functionally complete unit, obscurely programmed for flat consumerism in an artificial world striving for technological perfection. The ancient foundations of countless, incredibly rich spiritual traditions, including all their preciously grown relations with the indescribable Mystery called Life, are threatened now, after only a few centuries, by utter annihilation as they’re forcibly dragged right towards the edge of the Abyss. It’s the choice between dying a silent yet deafening death, and being assimilated into this ever-expanding pseudo-religion of deadening Consumerism.

Man is slowly forgetting his roots thanks to the stubbornly ignorant denial of his own deep value. And he’s starting to notice it. More often than not, there appears to be something missing in his daily experience, something vital to his very survival on this planet. Not yet explicitly visible on the surface, but a creepy itch at the back of his head perhaps, hiding every time he tries to get a hold of it.

While his ego may think he is born as a complete individual standing on top of the highest mountain, in the depth of the soul he’s given he might actually be just a todler standing on top of a low dune after having lived in the depths of the ocean for many many eons.

Life is the neverending search for the path we’re individually painting by walking it. Modern man is loosing his painting skills as he has almost stopped searching. He is standing still and focuses on everything he sees beside his collective path. He is plucking the flowers by the wayside not knowing that at the same time he’s slowly yet inevitably cutting the roots of his own origins and the purpose of his existence.

The faith of modern man in his completeness makes him dry and rigid, a massive monolith of external superficialities for which each expression of true inner beauty and depth needs to be marginalized in order to uphold the integrity of his precariously constructed personality structure. Every counteraction against the essence of this rigid, artificial monolith, every serious attempt to glance beyond the narrow boundaries of this limiting world of reductionistic materialism is immediately considered as highly suspicious and abnormal.

But perhaps this monolith is also necessary for change. Because it is so unnatural, a counteraction must happen one day. Man is no monolith, but a living, dynamic and miraculously swirling dance of light and dark, turning and turning and turning…

Every unnatural behaviour is like a ball thrown up the slope of a steep mountain. At some point, the natural gravity of the place will stop the ball in his upper movement, and, whether or not he likes it, will cause it to roll the other way. Of course, we wouldn’t be humans if this counteraction would not result in an exaggeration in the opposite way, on the opposite hill. It’s only after countless up and down movements that the ball will find its rest in the darkly green, lush valley in the middle. It’s impossible to reach other mountain tops without going through the valley, but only by following this lowest path in the fertile valley can one reach all mountains.

Instead of roaming these fertile valleys, people nowadays search after the high altitudes of the mountains. Each standing on a mountain top, people are loosing touch of each other; in their deceptive yet tragic solitude they keep fighting for the highest summit, barren and cold as it may be. They are slowly forgetting about the verdant valleys below, where the mountain creeks still sparkle and the sun still welcomes the first rustles of blooming buds during the early days of spring.

How did it come this far? How could this devolution be stopped and changed? No doubt the individual has a huge responsibility in this change: he’s part of the system, thus programmed to follow the herd to where ever it’s going, even if it means jumping off the highest cliff. But if he manages to change himself radically, he can be a lantern for others, a little ball of snow becoming an avalanche, who cannot be touched anymore by the mentality of the herd.

Perhaps then the world will already be irreversibly changed..