TBD on Ning

              I am starting a new thread here mainly for purposes of my own catharsis. It is my intention, at least at this point, to make regular contributions. Of course, if anyone else has anything to add, they are more than welcome. If you have any input, please contribute.

              Over a year ago I decided to deal head-on with my self-diagnosed adult attention disorder, (ADD). The inability to stay focused was becoming too stressful. I found myself sitting around watching the clock tick, yet I couldn’t keep “on task” with any project I started. Nothing was getting done and just starting something was becoming depressing.

              The smart thing to do was probably to get professional help, so instead I decided to try to heal myself, at least as a first try. Cognitive therapy and pharmaceuticals (UGH) might be the approved way to go but I decided to try meditation first.

              18 months and countless self-help books later, I still can’t bring myself to a regular, formal meditation program. But, along the way, I discovered informal mindfulness. Yes, I know it is the “Fad” right now. It is hard to navigate modern social trends without “tripping over” somebody extolling the benefits of mindfulness.

              Let me add my voice to the chorus.

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This one digs a bit deeper into the Buddhist world-view where we don’t have direct contact with any external entities, but can only directly perceive a model of those entities reconstructed and presented to us by our mind. It can undermine our sense of objectivity, as reality becomes more subjective. Buddhists claim that this leads to a unique sense of Unity and Oneness. But as a Western Materialist, I can't help but think that they are smuggling in their cultural expectations. And yet, if you can just "road-test" this perspective for a while, you can see that it leads to a much more practical, calm and equinamous personal way of living your life.

Is this a case of accepting the truth of a position more on its ability to make you emotionally happy than on any strength of Truth claims? I have always been critical of many Christians for selling out to a feel good philosophy instead of doing the hard work needed to resolve Truth. But how far should the search for Truth be pursued? Is it even attainable? I feel like I'm tilting windmills. Right now, the idea that the only reality that we can directly perceive is our mental model seems reasonable. I don't know if that leads necessarily to a big Unity of All Entities, but in absence of facts, the Buddhist's personal plan is working better for me. Until I hear a better analysis...

"What does the world mean to you if you can’t trust it to go on shining when you’re not there?"
~ Mary Oliver

"Genuine empathy comes not from thinking that we are perfect and others are having a hard time, but from recognizing that we are all struggling: that we’re all in the dark, groping for a sense of happiness, well-being, and meaning in our lives."
~ Bodhipaksa

"Challenges are gifts. Emotions are gifts. They tell us what we want and provide personalized wisdom, if we have the openness to listen."
~ Poppy Jamie

"Differences in skin color, language, wealth, and many other things can serve to divide communities from one another, but no division ran—and none today runs—as deep as the belief that one is in sole possession of revealed truth."
~ Stefan Klein

What a Young Man Should Know, 1933. A checklist for becoming a proper man.
This was published in the March 1933 issue of Harper’s Magazine.
The writer, Robert Littell, details the abilities, skills, accomplishments, and extra-curricular proficiencies that every man should have if they are to become a self-sufficient and well-rounded human being, ready for life, and eventually, marriage and raising their own children. The learning starts from a very young age.
Here is the (short) list:
1. He should know how to swim at least a mile, dive creditably, and not feel panicky under water. He should be able also to revive those less skilful than himself by rolling them on a barrel and pumping their helpless arms.
2. He should be able to drive an automobile well. And he should not be altogether helpless when a car breaks down. He must know how to change a tire and offer some sort of diagnosis when the engine sputters and dies.
3. He ought to know how to clean, load, and shoot a revolver or a rifle.
4. As for self-defense, a man should certainly be able to take care of himself in a scrap. He need not learn jujitsu — old-fashioned boxing will be enough.
5. He ought to know the rudiments of camping, how to build a fire, how to chop wood, how to take a cinder out of his eye, how to deal with a severed artery, how to doctor himself for ordinary ailments.
6. He should also be able to take care of other people in emergencies, to apply first aid, set a broken bone, revive a drunk or a victim of gas, deal with a fainting fit, administer the right emetic or antidote for a case of poisoning.
7. And he should be able to feed himself, to cook, not only because some day he may need to, but because cooking is one of the fine arts, and a source of infinite pleasure. He should be able to scramble eggs, brew coffee, broil a steak, dress a salad, carve a chicken, and produce, on occasion, one first-class dish, such as onion soup. The more he can do, in these days of the delicatessen store and the kitchenette, the better. It is not effeminate, it is not beyond him, and the best chefs are all men.
8. He should know how to use paint brushes, a saw, a hammer, and other common tools.
9. He should also have a beautiful and distinguished handwriting. But the bulk of his writing, particularly if he is a professional man who has much of it to do, should be done on a typewriter, capable of turning out three thousand words an hour.
10. He should play one outdoor game well, and have a workable smattering of several more. An American who cannot throw and catch a ball seems pathetic and grotesque.
11. The bicycle has gone, yet every young man should know how to ride one.
12. He should also be able to skate, sail a boat, and handle a canoe passably.
13. Fishing is a specialty, like chess.
14. Walking is a noble but neglected sport. Americans “hike” once in a long while but seldom walk.
15. He should know a great deal about animals and how to take care of them.
16. He should know how to ride a horse.
17. He should learn how to stay in a saddle with pleasure to himself and a minimum of annoyance to his mount.
18. He should learn how to dance.
19. He should know to play at least one card game.
20. He must have knowledge of how to tip naturally, justly, without fear and without reproach.
21. On the matter of alcohol, he should learn his capacity and stick within its limits; he should know something about the different kinds of drink, and which drinks produce chaos within him when mixed.
22. Where s:x is concerned, nature clearly intended us to make many mistakes in her hope that some of them would be productive.
23. He should know the rudiments of gambling. But gambling might be placed on the same plane as drink — the less use one has for it the better.
24. Higher than almost any other accomplishment on the list is knowing music. There is no reason why any young man who is not absolutely tone-deaf should not learn how to play one musical instrument well enough for it to be a self-resource and a tolerable pleasure to others.
25. A civilized man should know how to read. The ability to read, or rather the habit of reading, is very rare even among intelligent people, and has to be taught and kept up if it is not to become rusty.
26. He should have knowledge of at least one foreign language. French or German preferably both. German children learn an amazingly good brand of English without ever crossing their borders. Why can’t we? For one thing, we don’t really want to. Yet we should. An American who knows only English is blind in one eye.
27. He should know to travel well, efficiently, without fuss or complaint.
28. A young man should be able to express himself clearly before a crowd of strangers, without shyness, muddle, or a pathetic resort to “so much has been said and well said” or “I did not expect to be called on.”
29. The British adult can get to his feet, propose a toast, introduce a stranger, voice a civic protest, heckle a windbag politician, and give utterance to an unembarrassed thought.
30. A a man should command the elementary tool of written language, and be able to put simple things on paper in clear words.
31. He should have a good workable understanding of the structure of business, investments, and banks.
32. Let every educated man, as a necessary part of his education, be thrown into the muddy stream of American industry and see what it is like to swim alone on daily wages.
33. He should before reaching twenty-two have done something because he wanted to, whether other people wanted him to do it or not.
34. He should not acquire property unless he needs it. Insensitiveness to his personal property, unless of course it is extraordinarily beautiful, is a desirable skill for any man to have; It must be learned and worked at.
35. Unusual though this young man may be, he should not seem so. Is not a parent’s basic ambition for his child that he be very different from other people, yet manage to seem almost exactly like them?

"By reminding ourselves of the reality that feelings are impermanent, we begin to liberate ourselves from obsessive worry"
~ Bodhipaksa

"Since every aspect of our lives is connected by a web of conditions to the rest of the universe, in order to have a life that was entirely pleasurable we’d have to have God-like powers of control over the cosmos"
~ Bodhipaksa

“The finest souls are those who gulped pain and avoided making others taste it.”
- Nizar Qabbani

"You know who's going through a lot right now? Literally everyone. Just be kind."

~ Tiny Buddha




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