"Life isn't Fair"

Life isn’t fair.
That is one of the first things I remember learning from my folks.
When I would painfully scream about the size of my ice cream serving compared to my brother’s, they would calmly response. “Life isn’t fair.”
It seemed cold and unfeeling at the time.
But now I see how important that awareness is.
First off, it is true.
There is no line judge for the Game of Life. There is no umpire to blow a whistle when someone gets an unfair advantage.
It is just the reality. Before a child is born, the circumstances of their parents already play a massive role in the opportunities and challenges that await that child. A child born in Somalia will simply not have the same opportunities as one born in Santa Monica. My grandpa used to call this the “Obstetricianal Accident” that determines the country and social-economic class of our birth. (Some would argue that this is no accident at all – but just a logical result of karmic cycles. More on that later.)

Some cultures have legal systems that try to soften the most obscene of the inequalities, but they are surface fixes to much deeper issues. Just because opportunities are equal under the law, doesn’t mean that things are fair.
Compared to 50 years ago, cultural discrimination around the world (in most situations) has improved. But even though the inequality heals more every day, even a fully healed culture will have the scars of old beliefs forever.
But the truth is that EVERYONE has their own specific set of gifts as well as obstacles. Even siblings growing up under the same roof can have vastly different opportunities. In many cultures, just being born second, or female, can make all the difference in the world.
It is not fair.
And that doesn’t even touch upon the incredibly unfair biology that is handed out person to person. Some are faster, some are smarter. Some are faster, smarter, stronger, AND were born into economic wealth.
None of it is fair.
While there is no denying that certain circumstances create more obstacles, it is important to remember that getting an unfair advantage is not necessarily a good thing.
In an old South park episode, they show the debilitating effects the being unfairly good looking can have on your personality. When everyone laughs at your jokes and agrees with you because they have a crush on you, it creates a skewed sense of self and warped understanding of the world. The path of the pretty person may be easier, but that doesn’t mean it leads to good things.
Often it takes adversity to awaken the truly wonderful things inside us.
When scientists set up the BioDome project, they tried to create a fully enclosed environment – with plants, water, and animals all isolated and contained under a massive dome. After a period of time, the tallest trees starting falling over and scientists were stumped. They figured out that the trees, even with all the sun and water they required – did not develop properly. Without the blowing wind, the trees’ root structures did not grow deep and strong. Without the daily “struggles” of gusts and storms, the tree did not develop the necessarily support system to support the adult tree.
People, just like trees, *need* obstacles to build their strength. And actually, from this perspective, one can shift their view of obstacles themselves. If a challenge is required for growth, then it isn’t an obstacle at all – but a classroom and stepping stone.
From this perspective is it more “unfair” to have an easy childhood? Or a challenge-filled one?
It quickly becomes clear that – like so much in life – we are in no position to judge.
All we can do is work with what we’ve got. And do the best we can.
It can be tempting to feel sorry for people with fewer advantages. Don’t do it!
We have no vantage point to know what anyone’s life is supposed to look like – including our own. Think of a great person you consider a hero. Would they have become the person they did with a different life story?
Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with a struggle in my life I try to visualize my life as a book. What kind of book would I want my life to be? Would I want to be a boring tale with minimal conflict? Or a grand epic with massive highs and lows?
Another tendency is to feel guilty for the unfair blessings in your life. If you slip into this perspective, try to replace that feeling with gratitude immediately. Imagine if you gave someone a gift and they say, “oh! No, you shouldn’t! It’s too much! Take it back!” It would rob you of the joy of giving the gift. (More on this in the “Gifting” chapter)
Instead learn to receive joyfully and simply acknowledge your gratitude. Instead of feeling bad and trying to dismiss the gift, feel good and exalt it. When you embrace a gift, it energizes you and gives you’re the resources to “pay it forward.” Imagine that all your advantages AND challenges are prerequisites for the role you play in the Universe – whatever that may be. Feeling guilty for the gifts of your birth would be like a bird feeling guilty for it’s song.
If you feel disadvantaged – imagine all your struggles as a cosmic classroom.
If you feel over-privileged – imagine your resources as tools of the Universe.
Life isn’t fair.
Thank God.
-john
Feb 15, 2010

“Life isn’t Fair”

Life isn’t fair.
That is one of the first things I remember learning from my folks.
When I would painfully scream about the size of my ice cream serving compared to my brother’s, they would calmly response. “Life isn’t fair.”
It seemed cold and unfeeling at the time.
But now I see how important that awareness is.
First off, it is true.
There is no line judge for the Game of Life. There is no umpire to blow a whistle when someone gets an unfair advantage.
It is just the reality. Before a child is born, the circumstances of their parents already play a massive role in the opportunities and challenges that await that child. A child born in Somalia will simply not have the same opportunities as one born in Santa Monica. My grandpa used to call this the “Obstetricianal Accident” that determines the country and social-economic class of our birth. (Some would argue that this is no accident at all – but just a logical result of karmic cycles. More on that later.)

Some cultures have legal systems that try to soften the most obscene of the inequalities, but they are surface fixes to much deeper issues. Just because opportunities are equal under the law, doesn’t mean that things are fair.
Compared to 50 years ago, cultural discrimination around the world (in most situations) has improved. But even though the inequality heals more every day, even a fully healed culture will have the scars of old beliefs forever.
But the truth is that EVERYONE has their own specific set of gifts as well as obstacles. Even siblings growing up under the same roof can have vastly different opportunities. In many cultures, just being born second, or female, can make all the difference in the world.
It is not fair.
And that doesn’t even touch upon the incredibly unfair biology that is handed out person to person. Some are faster, some are smarter. Some are faster, smarter, stronger, AND were born into economic wealth.
None of it is fair.
While there is no denying that certain circumstances create more obstacles, it is important to remember that getting an unfair advantage is not necessarily a good thing.
In an old South park episode, they show the debilitating effects the being unfairly good looking can have on your personality. When everyone laughs at your jokes and agrees with you because they have a crush on you, it creates a skewed sense of self and warped understanding of the world. The path of the pretty person may be easier, but that doesn’t mean it leads to good things.
Often it takes adversity to awaken the truly wonderful things inside us.
When scientists set up the BioDome project, they tried to create a fully enclosed environment – with plants, water, and animals all isolated and contained under a massive dome. After a period of time, the tallest trees starting falling over and scientists were stumped. They figured out that the trees, even with all the sun and water they required – did not develop properly. Without the blowing wind, the trees’ root structures did not grow deep and strong. Without the daily “struggles” of gusts and storms, the tree did not develop the necessarily support system to support the adult tree.
People, just like trees, *need* obstacles to build their strength. And actually, from this perspective, one can shift their view of obstacles themselves. If a challenge is required for growth, then it isn’t an obstacle at all – but a classroom and stepping stone.
From this perspective is it more “unfair” to have an easy childhood? Or a challenge-filled one?
It quickly becomes clear that – like so much in life – we are in no position to judge.
All we can do is work with what we’ve got. And do the best we can.
It can be tempting to feel sorry for people with fewer advantages. Don’t do it!
We have no vantage point to know what anyone’s life is supposed to look like – including our own. Think of a great person you consider a hero. Would they have become the person they did with a different life story?
Sometimes when I am overwhelmed with a struggle in my life I try to visualize my life as a book. What kind of book would I want my life to be? Would I want to be a boring tale with minimal conflict? Or a grand epic with massive highs and lows?
Another tendency is to feel guilty for the unfair blessings in your life. If you slip into this perspective, try to replace that feeling with gratitude immediately. Imagine if you gave someone a gift and they say, “oh! No, you shouldn’t! It’s too much! Take it back!” It would rob you of the joy of giving the gift. (More on this in the “Gifting” chapter)
Instead learn to receive joyfully and simply acknowledge your gratitude. Instead of feeling bad and trying to dismiss the gift, feel good and exalt it. When you embrace a gift, it energizes you and gives you’re the resources to “pay it forward.” Imagine that all your advantages AND challenges are prerequisites for the role you play in the Universe – whatever that may be. Feeling guilty for the gifts of your birth would be like a bird feeling guilty for it’s song.
If you feel disadvantaged – imagine all your struggles as a cosmic classroom.
If you feel over-privileged – imagine your resources as tools of the Universe.
Life isn’t fair.
Thank God.
-john
Feb 15, 2010

God in a Dewdrop

I struggle with the idea of an external god that is separate from me.
For me, there is only The One. There is only God. There is only The Universe.
It is one infinite, perfect equation. Stardust to embryo to earthquake to atom.
Somewhere in the middle of this massive equation is our planet.
And somewhere in the lifetime of this planet is our species.
And somewhere in the middle (end?) of this species’ run is my current consciousness.
I am like a water particle that helps form a rainbow.
Could I ever hope to understand the rainstorm that preceded me? Or the sunlight that refracts me? Yet, could I define myself without the rain or sun? What about the snowfall last season that melted into the lake that evaporated and became the rain?
My grandfather used to call God, among other things, “the Unbegun Beginning.”
I wish I understood that phrase more when he was alive. But I think I get it now. This infinite equation is the Unbegun Beginning. The Universe is a Mobius stip. Our human perception of time makes us see our lives through tunnel vision which leads to thinking that somehow we are separate and isolated from the rest of the equation.
It is ironic that the human trait we are so proud of: Our intellect, personality and consciousness – Is responsible for this perception of separation.
Of course, we are not really separate – but our Ego convinces us that we are alone in the world. And therefore need to struggle and plan to forge our path. We are driven to stand out , fix things, and make a difference.
But as the Buddhist story explains – it is like a wave thinking it is separate from the sea.
It would be humorous if it were not so tragic.
This separation is what leads to so much of the horror in our world. Not just in the way we allow ourselves to treat other parts of the equation (like the environment, other species, or fellow humans) but in the way we torture ourselves with thoughts.
How painful to believe that it is “Me against the world.” What a setup for stress and suffering. And yet, this is a very common belief system. How much more peaceful to understand, “Me is a part of the world.”
Of course, part of this awareness is understanding that “I” will die. And that, too, is a perfect part of the equation. The Mobius strip includes birth, death, decay, rebirth. We should feel honored to be a part of these cycles, not frustrated by our impermanence.
If you see the universe as a Mobius strip, then all moments exist forever. No matter how long we are alive, no matter when, we are a part of the equation. We are a part of the One.
It is our Ego that freaks out over the thought of death. Which makes some sense, because it is only our ego that dies. The Ego is that part of us that feels separate. The part of us that is a part of the infinite cosmic One exists now and forever. Our true self cannot die because it was never born.
The thing that was born into this body is the Ego – the awareness of separation or “self.” I would argue that this awareness is a sickness that afflicts the human species. and may even prove to be an evolutionary handicap.
Certainly it has the potential to push us to make our planet uninhabitable to humans (and many other species.)
Every animal species that survives settles into a harmony within the Equation. (or at least the tiny fraction of the equation that works itself out in Earth on the Milky Way corner of the Cosmic blackboard.)
Too voracious an appetite, the species decimates it’s food supply and in turn dies out. This is not good or bad. This is just how the equation works. It is perfect and beautiful.
It can be incredible helpful to see the universe as a perfect, zero sum equation.
I find Nature documentaries to be incredible spiritual tools in helping to deeply feel this Unbegun Beginning. As Carl Sagan or Richard Attenburrough or whatever cool-voiced narrator explains the bizarre checks and balances of the physical world, I find myself awash in Awe.
The big monkey brain feels some need to compartmentalize and explain this situation. But an explanation will not bring peace.
More important is appreciation and awe. If we can sink into a state of awe at the universe, then it becomes easy to slip into a state of gratitude.
We do not need to understand the fusion on the sun’s surface to appreciate the warmth on our skin.
“Nothing thinks greater than the creator’s thoughts” is another thing my grandpa would say often.
And this is more of how I view my relationship with God. My consciousness is not in the drivers seat of the universe. It is not my role to “understand” it all. I just need to allow myself to appreciate the gift of existence: I am a part of the cosmic equation. I am a part of the One.
I am a perfect dewdrop reflecting God color in the sky.
Amen.
-John
Feb 14, 2010

My Faith

IMG_7020

I am beginning to learn what “Faith” means to me.
Faith is about the ability to surrender.
From my limited awareness, it seems like many different spiritual paths all teach that surrendering is required for evolution, enlightenment, salvation, etc..
*What* we surrender to is what defines our Faith.
For me, when I am in my right mind- I surrender to what I would describe as the divine flow of the Universe.
The cosmic equation that maintains constant mass and energy.
The universal pattern that balances resources through micro and macro cycles.
The mind-blowing branches of evolutionary life.
Continue reading My Faith

Oh, Gala (#RadicalSelfLove)

Last week at HugNation I read from GalaDarling’s awesome #RadicalSelfLove project. Here is the 2 min. clip where I get all hot and bothered:

I was so inspired that I reached out to Gala and asked if she would be up for a quick Skype chat to talk about Love. And because she is awesome, she agreed. Here we are talking Love, life and pinkness:

Spreading the pink at SXSW