Friday, March 26, 2010

Enlightenment through deprivation

I've always been intrigued by the ways in which enlightened beings lived. I've been told that samurais would sleep only a few hours a day, monks could go long periods without food, something in their spirit carried them beyond the luxuries in which we deem physical necessities nowadays.

I haven't eaten for 10 days now, meaning I haven't physically chewed a piece of food in more than a week. I've been on a 7-day master cleanse, the diet popularized by Beyoncé for her quick weight-loss to fulfill her role in the movie "Dream Girls". But the Master Cleanse isn't meant for weight-loss, for me it's not even that much about physical cleansing of the body (though that seems to be a byproduct of taking such an insane regiment). But rather, the master cleanse is a cleanse of our triangular relationship to life: the physical, emotional, and spiritual parts of our being.

Not once have I been physically hungry throughout this fast and I've learned the difference between "hunger" and "cravings". Instead what I've found is that gastronomic indulgences are really just distractions to disconnect us from our understanding of self, and in their absence you're forced to confront a number of internal emotions that brew to the surface; without things like "food" to latch onto, they really have nowhere else to go.

During this fast, I decided to learn about the food industry to essentially rebuild my diet after I had "reset" the digestive system, yet despite all the troubling and horrifying facts I've learned about the profit-driven trade, the only thing I could think about was eating the food being described. But what I missed most was participating in the festivities that involved food. The sharing, the laughing, the comradery in the breaking of bread amongst friends and family. Yet at the same time, I couldn't ignore the troubling disturbances that I had read about. Sadly, it made me feel that I could never successfully reintegrate myself back into the lifestyle I once enjoyed.

Ironically enough, the day in which I can finally eat (at least liquefied foods) is actually the first day I don't feel like eating. Something changed along the way. Somewhere I started feeling more and more detached from society and despite all the isolation from others, I was onto something. Maybe that's why the cleanse is commonly promoted for 10 days rather than 7.

Perhaps most troubling was I became more and more comfortable with being alone. Books, writing and work satisfied my needs of companionship. But I think the other component to finding inner peace is learning how to be peaceful with others. Inevitably we learn that as humans, we need each other. You have to learn to accept others for being human just as they have to learn to accept you.

Friday, March 5, 2010

The Power of Pain

We, as humans, are taught two types of thinking: Boast your accomplishments, be proud of who you are. The world is out there for the taking, so make it happen. On the other side of the spectrum we are taught to be humble, to belittle our ego. The world is a place we must share and sometimes we must concede to the ideas of others to make it work. The problem is not that these two views exist simultaneously in the world; the problem is the false belief that the two cannot coexist.

As human beings we are conditioned to avoid pain, both physical and emotional. But there is something magical about pain. It is the loudest and clearest voice we have. It tells our bodies and minds when we are progressively growing, or conversely, when we are overexerting ourselves. In the end, to fully realize both there is really only one requirement: You must know pain. You must go out fearlessly to confront it, and eventually, befriend it.

The reason there is such a polarization between the arrogant and the timid is a direct result to this avoidance of pain. We adhere to the type of thinking that already validates our way of life because that is what is comfortable. If we are arrogant, we will justify our actions with one belief. If we are timid, we will justify our actions with the other. In reality, those two need to be reversed. We need to actively seek out the uncomfortable and the painful, because they are what make us grow. They are what make us balanced.

All the answers lie within our own minds and bodies. Sometimes it’s not a matter of searching, but rather, a matter of listening.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010


Children should not talk back to their parents. Neither should adults for that matter.

Monday, March 1, 2010


There's a saying in boxing, or well, not really a saying, but more of a cardinal ranking that says "speed" beats "power", but "timing" beats "speed". In physics the equation of kinetic energy is "1/2 mass times velocity squared". I remember my physics teacher pointing out how speed was always more important than mass in the development of energy; a bit counter intuitive for a Western perspective I think. Here "big" and "massive" are heralded over "small" and "mobile", like how Bruce Lee compares the philosophies to a stationary tree trunk to the swaying branches of bamboo. For him, bamboo always won out, because in the winds of a storm, bamboo would sway with the forces, rather than stubbornly pushing against it. After learning that perspective, I began respecting adaptability and flexibility over strength and power.

But in boxing, people commonly look at two things: speed and power. A fighter either hit really hard or punched really fast, and like ranking says, the faster fighter usually had the advantage. But the overlooked aspect which apparently outranks them all is the element of timing. WHEN you land the punch dictates everything. The biggest reason is because landing that a punch disrupts the momentum of the other fighter. Most boxers function on a rhythm, a cadence, and when that pattern is disrupted by a perfectly timed shot, they're forced to start over. Very few fighters can overcome a good timing with sheer force, and the few that do, don't last long as prizefighters.

But timing makes me think about life. How things come into your path and how sometimes good ideas aren't necessarily meant to be adopted when they initially dawn upon you. Sometimes they're meant to be held for later. The same principle applies in business: A good idea can go to shit if the moment isn't right.