It began with being made to realize that I was bestowing the kind of love, care, attention and financial benevolence I’ve always craved, on people I love, as an attempt in satisfying my own need for affection. I might be famished by the time I get to the tenth person and still be wondering why I keep getting hungrier. Which then begs the question as to how can I ever hope to have a full stomach if every time I am hungry, I feed a loved one? The answer is likely rooted in my belief that, “love begets love”.
I received this feedback when I shared my thoughts, and that finally got me unstuck —
You are just desperate for company, love and for your loneliness to go away so you give a lot of what you need because that’s your perspective, and you give it because you think that’s what everyone needs too. But you don’t get it back Because the truth is that’s not what everyone needs Or wants
Wow, time to reevaluate my beliefs and the saying, “Do unto others…” So armed with recent beliefs that —
right and wrong are societal constructs whose definitions are constantly changing, and as such
doing what pleases me seems to be the only “right” thing to do, if my other beliefs are true that
the purpose of life is to be happy, considering
life is random and
the only consequences in life are those that we wittingly or unwittingly bring upon ourselves through our exercise of our power of choice,
I have set out to do only that which makes me feel good about myself, so I am not collateral damage in another person’s story.
To understand the concept of good and evil, one must consider the definition of “evil”. The Apple Dictionary defines it as “profoundly immoral and malevolent.” To clarify, “immoral” is defined as “not conforming to accepted standards of morality”. By this mark, yes, humans in their natural state are evil. However, one must also delve deeper and consider that “accepted standards of morality” have changed continually throughout the ages. It is then that one must ask oneself, “How can one be sure they are not being evil?”
To understand morality, a baseline must be established. Humans in their natural state are neither good nor evil, but that doesn’t mean that “regular humans” wouldn’t perceive some of those neutral actions as ‘evil’. For example, a toddler in kindergarten who has not been taught manners will take toys from another child without asking, as this is the way of the wild. People would interpret the action of “stealing” the toy as evil, but that is just because they have already been conditioned by society. The alpha-wolf gets to eat first because it is stronger. It is capable of taking the food from the weaker wolves. Toddlers are, in a way, animals. If left to their own devices without intervention from authority figures, toddlers will eventually form a hierarchy of sorts, the strongest child having all the toys and food it wants. On another hand, primates kept in captivity have shown signs of humanity after being surrounded by “properly conditioned”, normal humans. Wolves are not evil for asserting dominance based on strength, nor can unconditioned humans be considered so. Upbringing is the conditioning humans go through. During the upbringing, basic moral grounds are set. The conscience is brought about, and children are taught fundamental differences between right and wrong. Studies have shown that the conscience and all moral thought is cemented before the age of five. If a child is not taught the fundamental differences between right and wrong during that time, they will be generally considered evil by society.
Society perceives the unconditioned human as evil. However, society itself is an unreliable measuring device. Merely more than a century ago, it was considered commonplace to own and trade slaves, discriminating one human from another based merely on race or socioeconomic status. Today, it is obviously considered profoundly immoral and therefore evil. There is no reason to believe that something else we consider commonplace today will be considered profoundly immoral 100 years from now.
How, then, can one truly tell what is good and just? Steve Taylor, Ph.D. defines it as “‘a lack of self-centeredness. It means the ability to empathize with other people, to feel compassion for them, and to put their needs before your own. It means, if necessary, sacrificing your own wellbeing for the sake of others’. It means benevolence, altruism and selflessness, and self-sacrifice towards a greater cause – all qualities which stem from a sense of empathy. It means being able to see beyond the superficial difference of race, gender, or nationality and relate to a common human essence beneath them.” (Taylor) Continuing on Dr. Taylor’s train of thought, the character known as the Doctor from the TV series Doctor Who recently said, “hate is always foolish, and love is always wise.” (Moffat)
These quotes all portray a concept that is beyond ordinary definitions of morality or standards of society. A concept that separates humans from other animals: humanity. Should one ever feel like their moral compass could use a recalibration, they need only remember that the definitions of good and evil aren’t necessarily important or even accurate; but humanity is something that is innate to every person, should they delve deep enough. As the Doctor said, “always try to be nice, but never fail to be kind.” (Moffat)
Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time. By Steven Moffat. Perf. Peter Capaldi. BBC. BBC, 2017.
Griffeth, Jeremy. The Book of Real Answers to Everything. Sydney: WTM Publishing and Comunication, 2011.
Griffith, Jeremy. “Good vs Evil.” 2011. The Human Condition. <https://www.humancondition.com/good-vs-evil/>.
Taylor, Steve. “The Real Meaning of ‘Good’ and ‘Evil’.” 2013. Psychology Today. <https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/out-the- darkness/201308/the-real-meaning-good-and-evil>.
Does God exist? As long as the concept of an omniscient and omnipotent overlord has existed, the human race has asked the question: “Does God exist?” It can be argued that this is the oldest question in the universe. However, I disagree. I think the oldest question in the universe (or at the very least, the first question that any being would ask as soon as they are capable of thinking) is “why?” This question can be found at the root of every science, philosophy, art, and religion. It is the explanation for the modern interpretation of God. In The City of the Shadow Realm – a novella I wrote – an ethereal character states, Religion is a construct of the human mind that was designed to help them cope with their fast-growing intelligence. Thousands of years ago, when humans were beginning their climb in the scale of knowledge, they started to ask too many questions to which they were unable to acquire answers for. They invented religion to explain away phenomenon they couldn’t grasp. (Bajaj, 2016)
As I stated, the “God” many religions have come to accept does not exist. It was and is an explanation to something beyond limited human understanding. The Greeks were one of the first recorded civilizations to practice religion. They believed that Zeus was responsible for thunderstorms, and Poseidon caused tsunamis. They invoked the name of Ares when going to war, and blamed Aphrodite for love. For every phenomenon they did not understand – every time they asked “why?” to an unanswerable question – there was a God to explain it. This, in my opinion, was nothing more than a fallacy they told themselves, because human nature cannot handle a question without an answer. I would not go so far as to say that there is nothing beyond death, and I still believe there is some form of transcendent energy that controls the universe. However, I do not think there is a corporeal, sentient, or even conscious God as depicted in Christianity, Islam, Judaism, etc. I believe God is energy, a primordial spiritual power that exists beyond time and space. God is a law of nature, and is nature itself. God exists to be called upon by the beings of the universe. In The Secret by Rhonda Byrne, the Law of Attraction is elaborated upon, described as energy in the universe. Byrne states that “Your power is in your thoughts, so stay awake. In other words, remember to remember.” (Byrne, 2006)
To paraphrase: our thoughts create reality. We can imagine our lives the way we want them to be, and it will happen. Is this not how God is commonly thought of? People go to places like churches, mosques, synagogues, temples, and shrines to pray: asking their God for the things they want and need. In my opinion, there is God in all of us. Every being that has ever lived has had God inside them. This is because God is thought, and thought is God. People do not need to go anywhere or pray to any specific being to ask of the energy we call God. However, one should not ask for anything. If you ask for something, it means two things: you do not have what you are asking for, and you are not showing your gratefulness for what you have.
When you want to attract something into your life, make sure your actions don’t contradict your desires. Think about what you have asked for, and make sure that your actions are mirroring what you expect to receive, and that they’re not contradicting what you‘ve asked for. Act as if you are receiving it. Do exactly what you would do if you were receiving it today, and take actions in your life to reflect that powerful expectation. Make room to receive your desires, and as you do, you are sending out that powerful signal of expectation. (Byrne, 2006)
So, am I an athiest because I don’t believe in a God? Or am I a thiest because I believe in some manner of higher power? It is not as simple as that; I would define myself as an agnostic non-deistic thiest. That is to say, I believe in a God (I am a thiest), I do not believe that God is a deity (non-deistic), but I’m not one hundred percent sure of my beliefs, and I accept that fact I could be wrong (agnostic). To conclude: I believe in a God, but not in the traditional sense.
Bajaj, Satraj Singh. The City of the Shadow Realm. 0.4. Vol. 1. Toronto, 2016.
Brietbart, Peter. Atheist, Gnostic, Theist, Agnostic. 2009. <http://web.archive.org/web/20140325160011/http://freethinker.co.uk/2009/09/25/8419/>.
Byrne, Rhonda. The Secret. Ed. Rhonda Byrne. Beyond Words Publishing, 2006.
When people ask the question “can knowledge be detrimental”, I always think about how ironic that is. If knowledge really is detrimental, then even the knowledge of that is detrimental. It isn’t as simple as that, however. There is a saying: “ignorance is bliss”, and to an extent, that is true. For example, if someone is bad at keeping secrets, then they shouldn’t know something of a sensitive nature. The secret-keeper will feel burdened by the secret, and the secret-giver will be hurt if the secret is revealed. The secret might be for the benefit of a third party, who will also be hurt if the secret is revealed.
In the popular anime/manga series Attack on Titan, humanity lives within a walled city surrounded by man-eating giants known as Titans. The residents of the wall have been living there for a mere century, but believe that they have been there for much longer. Furthermore, they believe themselves to be the last of humanity and completely isolated. They don’t know, however, that they are merely on an island off the coast of Marley, a country who they (the island of Eldia) lost a war to 100 years ago. The king of Eldia modified the memories of the Eldians and marooned them on the island, completely isolating them from those who would seek to harm them. The king obviously thought that the knowledge of a world beyond the walls would be detrimental to the people of Eldia, so he shrouded his citizens in blissful ignorance.
Another example would be the series of novels written by Jeanne DuPrau; specifically, The City of Ember. Ember is a city located deep underground the Earth, hidden away and populated by people who were raised not knowing there is a world beyond the cave in which they dwell. The City of Ember was created by the Government as a contingency plan for human survival, in the event that the impending nuclear war would wipe out the rest of the population. The first generation of Emberites were instructed to raise their children to know nothing of the world above, so that they would not try to surface from their safe underground dwelling prematurely. Once again, the government officers in charge of the Ember project decided that knowledge would indeed be detrimental.
However, in both of these examples, there was a flaw in the plan. In Attack on Titan, the Marleyans sent undercover soldiers to destroy the walls of the city and let in the man-eating Titans. The Eldians were blindsided and massacred, not prepared for an attack and unaware of what to do. If they had known about Marley, they’d have been able to expect an attack and prepared. In The City of Ember, the time capsule (containing instructions on how to exit Ember and knowledge of the world above) set to automatically open well before the Ember supply stores ran out, was misplaced and not found for hundreds of years later. The lack of knowledge put the entire population of Ember at risk. The city was on the brink of electrical failure (which would plunge them into absolute, deadening darkness) and their food supply war running low. It was a fluke that the protagonists found the capsule and led the city out of the long-past-due-to-fail Ember.
In conclusion, knowledge can be detrimental, but one must consider the implications of ignorance too, which can be equally harmful.
The call for equality, whether it be based on race, gender, age or such is based on the fallacy that it’s about fairness. On the contrary, it’s anything but fair, and what we really need is equity, because unlike absolute equality, it takes into account individual needs.
A patient belonging to a race that would not do well on a certain medication would be foolish to demand a similar prescription as a patient of a different race that it’s suited to. A woman suffering from menstrual cramps would not do herself any favours by insisting on standing when a chivalrous man offers her a seat on the train.
Fact is, we are all different, and even being the same person, from moment-to-moment we vary in physical and emotional characteristics, various abilities and circumstances. We aren’t even equal to ourselves!
Extraordinary leeway is awarded by society to teachers when it comes to tolerance of their being authoritative while being wrong, without considering the impact to student morale and the diminished quality of education thus meted out and its greater impact on society.
I have come across educators who have been exceptional people, which I believe is what made them good teachers or principals, as students imbibe more from a teacher’s actions than their words. When actions don’t corroborate words, then comes disillusionment.
One of my first memories: I once found a wad of money while picking litter from the school grounds, which I dutifully handed to the supervising teacher, specifically stating that someone might have lost it. The teacher shamelessly pocketed the money right before my eyes! The incident has stayed with me for several decades as I write this. I had the morals to not keep the money, but a teacher who is supposed to be one teaching them had none.
The most consistent issue I have encountered with educators is ego. I have experienced, seen or heard of everything from a student being reprimanded, to being hit or caned, because a student bruised a teacher’s ego. The other teachers, support staff, vice principal and principal all have each other’s backs in their self-contained ecosystem, whereby they lose all respect, as students are very perceptive. Whereas outside the school, power is divested between the police, judge, jury and prison warden. A judge would not be automatically inclined to issue a warrant just because a police officer believes someone committed an offence and as such are held to a much higher standard of conduct.
Often teachers become loud, obnoxious and obstinate in the face of reason, in an attempt to assert their authority. The only thing it affirms is their frail ego, insecurity and poor character. Personal baggage is likely another form of low sense of self worth and corresponding efforts to feel good about oneself, that results in the unfair treatment of students.
A pseudo-feminist teacher reprimanded a male student for so much as defending himself from a larger, tougher and older female bully, stating that a boy can hit a boy, a girl can hit a girl, a girl can hit a boy [and they would look away], but never can a boy hit a girl no matter how extenuating the circumstances. Does that not just go to create misogynists?
Another teacher viewed an innocent drawing of a girl, reproduced from an anime character, as being, “degrading to women” and asked the student to change it; whereas when shown to another, older teacher, as a [true] feminist she had absolutely no issue with it. As a consequence of telling on the teacher, the teacher prohibited the student from ever handing in reproduced art for her class. This once again demonstrates that the student always pays for the teacher’s insecurities. A female teacher who carries her sentiments with respect to patriarchy to school and punishes students to feel superior, is what is really degrading to women.
Picking on a student is extremely abusive. If a student disobeys, a teacher makes his life miserable. A student used a laptop to accomplish a task instead of paper. The teacher retaliated with revoking his privilege to eat or drink anything (except water) or listen to music, or talk in class. Yes, the student should be following instructions, but the teacher should not be punishing him with power play either.
Teachers seem to forget that it is us taxpayers that put food on their table, and they not only fail to do their job of giving our children a quality education that includes imparting good human values, but are also abusive and hurtful towards and disillusion them. Being rude to students seems to be the norm, like they are cattle to be herded, not young people with feelings that get hurt. Like a student said in jest, “You [the teacher] are like the dominatrix that is paid to dominate us at school”.
It’s said that “power corrupts”, but actually it’s more true that power attracts the corruptible. The sane are usually attracted by other things than power.
While job security, generous health benefits, a safe environment, perhaps even a love for teaching all attract teachers initially, what keeps the damaged ones is the ongoing ability to feed one’s ego, and they are the ones in turn damaging students.
Why then are we surprised when world leaders act authoritarian with total disregard of democratic process; considering they are products of the education system and as such are merely modelled after their educators?
When I say “become water” I mean become a flow; don’t remain stagnant. Move, and move like water. Lao Tzu says: The way of the Tao is a watercourse way. It moves like water. What is the movement of water? Or of a river? The movement has a few beautiful things about it. One, it always moves towards the depth, it always searches for the lowest ground. It is non-ambitious; it never hankers to be the first, it wants to be the last. Remember, Jesus says: Those who are the last here will be the first in my kingdom of God. He is talking about the watercourse way of Tao – not mentioning it, but talking about it. Be the last, be non-ambitious. Ambition means going uphill. Water goes down, it searches for the lowest ground, it wants to be a nonentity. It does not want to declare itself unique, exceptional, extraordinary. It has no ego idea.
“The women’s liberation movement is not really a liberation movement. It is in fact just the opposite: it is trying to imitate man, to become as hard as men are, to do whatsoever men are doing. And remember one thing: if women try to imitate men they will always be carbon copies; they will not attain to their fulfillment, they will not attain the full potential. And they will always remain lagging behind. And they will become ugly too! The real liberation movement has not started yet. The real liberation movement will insist that the woman has to be more and more feminine, that she has to be rooted in HER nature, that she is not to follow men in retaliation, in reaction, in rebellion – that is stupid. No reaction ever helps. The woman has to be herself.’
— Osho, The Fish in the Sea is Not Thirsty
Not many people consciously realize that societal values have over the past few decades resulted in become increasingly oppressive of men. Men’s rights have been stifled in the pursuit of women’s rights, at least in first world countries – but to an extent in third world countries as well. Neither men nor women are, or ever can be, superior to the other, and therefore it is essential that both genders liberate themselves to be who they are without the need to prove superiority over the other.
Some Feminists have been pretending that their goal is to abolish all gender discrimination and differences – no matter how reasonable. The reality is, that this type of feminist isn’t really a true feminist at all! They are out to punish men, guilty or innocent. They routinely make domestic violence accusations just to get even, with no burden of proof or prosecution for perjury, and accused men are neither accorded due process nor considered innocent until proven guilty despite their reputations, jobs and money being at stake.
Both women and men seek empowerment, and both have at some point, believed to have it. However, true empowerment is giving yourself the permission to be who you are without hubris or ego, without the need to prove something to yourself or others around you.
The unfortunate reality is that a large proportion of women, citing patriarchy and oppression by men, as a weapon of covert emotional abuse, guilt men into submission so they can dominate and ill-treat them on an ongoing basis. They even taunt men with sexist clever remarks like, “Age – few women admit theirs and few men act theirs”.
Men are ordinarily considered to be at fault due to their physical characteristics; and these pseudo-feminists leverage such gender profiling by dictating that men are naturally oppressors and women are naturally victims. All women are acutely aware of this societal advantage, whether they choose to take advantage of it depends on their definition of right and wrong. The knowledge of this is passed on to future generations through the school system. For example, while violence by a girl towards a boy is often overlooked, never is violence by a boy against a girl condoned, and with no heed to the physical characteristics of such boy and girl, especially considering that in school boys and girls are at vastly varying stages of growth and development and as such it is very common to find girls who are bigger and stronger than many boys. An example of this is when I was in the seventh grade. I was walking around during lunch and a ninth grade girl who was significantly stronger and taller than me, approached me and swung me upside-down by my feet. She proceeded to kick and punch me repeatedly, just for the savage pleasure of it. When I managed to get a foot freed, I kicked her and ran away as she dropped me. An hour later, I was called to the principal’s office and reprimanded for hitting a girl! Where is the logic!?
Similarly, if a woman were to slap a man in public, other women would likely cheer her, and men might say he asked for it. If genders were reversed, other women would be appalled and protest, likely report to the police and a chivalrous man would step in to protect the woman. Why the difference? Society has men convinced that they are always the ones at fault, which is a form of emotional abuse; they believe that the man deserved it, whereas women as a collective look out for each other.
Another example is, if a woman were to tell her friends that she is the one that cooks and cleans, her friends would think that she was being horribly oppressed and they would tell her so, perhaps offering to confront her husband. Conversely if she mentions that her husband does all of that for her, her friends would say, “He really loves you”.
The sexist double standards of modern society are evidently in reverse. We have yet to reach true equality, and I fear it may not happen for a very long time. What we can do is try our best to treat everyone truly equal. We need to let go of social norms, societal values, prejudices and stereotypes to reach for a society where people can live in peace, equality and harmony.
If I say, don’t think of a flower, definitely not a rose, what are you going to think of? First a flower, maybe even a rose, then definitely a rose. So what do you think will happen when you are told that you need to be thoughtless and that is meditation? Your mind will run rampant as you try to not think of anything, and you will be frustrated. So how to meditate?
With meditation being cited as the universal cure-all and solution to every problem in every religious and spiritual discourse, without ever being told how to go about doing it, dissemination of unhelpful one-liners like it being ‘a state of no-mind’ or ‘being thoughtless’, and worse still spiritual elitists saying it is not something one does but rather something that happens, it can be confusing and frustrating to the point where one just gives up.
Thought substitution is more doable, as in exchanging negative thoughts for a relatively pleasant one. Just like we distract ourselves by watching a movie. I find thinking of something I like and which scenario I can play in my head works very well for me to go off to sleep. In day-to-day work, it is easier to be mindful; single-mindedly consciously thinking of only the performance of the task at hand and not what I am going to do next or another such stray thought, but that is definitely easier said than done.
The second technique is ignoring. The thought comes, you know it is detrimental, so for example, I would say, “Okay, hello thought, thank you, but I need to move on”. That way I am kind to myself, not reprimanding myself for the thought and not dwelling on it either.
Meditation is the third technique. Now I say technique because the practice of instructions to train oneself to be in a meditative state is commonly referred to as meditation. Hence the debate about what meditation is. The purists say, “meditation cannot be done, it happens”, and mock those trying to practice a discipline. That is not helpful; it is demoralizing. Recognizing that meditation is a commonly used term for a practice and not for the meditative state itself helps bridge the gap – just as ‘medicine’, while a discipline, is a word commonly used in place of ‘medication’.
Meditation is not the exclusive domain of people who consider themselves spiritually accomplished either, just as breathing is not. It is not difficult; just different from the other two techniques. It is observing. So, say you close your eyes and these random thoughts begin. Observe the thoughts like a third party witnessing the goings on. Being thoughtless, in a meditative state, should follow as a consequence of merely being that observer.
One cannot really try and meditate. One can reach a meditative state by observing one’s thoughts. Such a meditative state is a temporary respite. In that sense too it is a practice – towards constantly being in a meditative state, being an observer, whereupon the practice is no longer needed.
If you are lost in thoughts, then that is agitation.
If thoughts are lost in you, then that is meditation.
— Swami Tejomayananda
“Although you may not always be able to avoid difficult situations,you can modify the extent to which you can suffer by how you choose to respond to the situation.”
— His Holiness The Dalai Lama XIV, The Art of Happiness
“Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional…
We have bigger houses, but smaller families;
More conveniences, but less time;
We have knowledge, but less judgement;
More experts, but more problems;
More medicines, but less health.”
― His Holiness The Dalai Lama XIV