We have it bass awards in the west.

There has always been a fundamental difference between approaches to health and medicine between the western world and the eastern practitioners. This difference is that in western medicine we tend to treat symptoms rather than illnesses. If we have a headache we take two Advil and our symptoms are gone. This is not a cure. In the East, if a person has a headache, the first effort is to try to figure out what the cause of the pain is. If we find the root of the problem, and solve that, we are far better off than treating symptoms. I don’t want to point fingers at who or why we tend to medicate without diagnosis, but lets just say some people/companies have hundreds of billions of dollars to profit by this logic.

The point of this article is not to bag on pharmaceutical companies or our medical system, but more to ponder the logic behind it. This habit of our society focusing on symptoms rather than problems does not serve us.

There has been a great deal of chatter about many political topics lately where this logic of serving symptoms rather than problems cripples us. Here are some examples:

We all agree that homelessness is an endemic issue throughout America. So we discuss building public bathrooms and shelters and providing food. These are admirable thoughts and ideas, but in reality, we really should be focused on the cause of the problem. The majority of homeless people in America are mentally ill or have substance addiction issues. That is the root of the problem for most homeless folks. Rather than building shelters and food kitchens, why don’t we, as a gluttonous wealthy nation, provide services to treat addiction and mental & physical health services instead? Building accommodations for homeless folks will help them survive. Treating their illnesses will allow them to thrive. Shelters may be a great stepping stone to help homeless people find resources, but it should not be considered a remedy by any means.

Another great example of a hot political topic these days is undocumented immigration. This issue has severed our nation in half. Building silly border walls is futile. Building walls sends a negative message to both sides and will just result in immigrants digging tunnels and building ladders. Lets trace this back to the root of the cause of immigration. I have many friends who are immigrants, most undocumented. Not one of them would have rather leave their home and their belongings and their loved ones behind. Not one of them wanted to get to the United States for any reason other than opportunity. For various reasons, they could not survive in their home country so they come to the US. I for one am grateful for the immigrant population and for all of the color and ethnic diversity that they bring. America is a quilt of many nationalities all living in harmony. But if you want to improve the undocumented immigrant situation, you must focus on the cause, not the border.

If we as a nation of consumers focuses on buying goods and agriculture produced in countries from south of the American border, you will provide opportunity for people in that nation to make a living and remain there in their home country. If we support manufacturing in those nations, we are a step in the right direction. If we work to stop governmental corruption in their countries, citizens will be able to support themselves. But there is a bigger issue.

We, as a nation of consumers need affordable labor just s much if not more than immigrants need our $. If there was no affordable immigrant labor, how much would it cost to build houses or to have our lawn mowed? Where would we (and our president be) if we did not have affordable labor to provide food and hospitality services? How much would our produce cost if we used only domestic labor to produce it? Aside from the culture that other nations provide, think about all of the beautiful positive ways that immigrants improve our lives and reduce our cost of living. Having immigrants in North America is a win win. People get opportunities to provide better lives to themselves and their families. We, as a nation of perpetual consumers get quality services.

The main reason why so many immigrants are undocumented is because it is very expensive and nearly impossible to get documents. If we build a system where immigrants can join our system legally, we all benefit. Everyone will be paying taxes increasing revenue. Immigration enforcement services will shrink also increasing revenue. America’s will be filled with a diverse group of people who all take pride as part of this system rather than feeling like outsiders. We cant insist that all immigrants are documented without providing a viable path for them to do so. A path that does not require immigration lawyers or several year waiting lists. If we provide amnesty for the law abiding immigrants in the united states now, and an easy system for work visas or residency, we ALL prosper. We will be treating the cause rather than the symptom.

Treating the symptom rather than the cause is like hearing a grinding noise in your transmission and instead of going to the mechanic, you just crank up the volume on the radio to mask the sound. If we alter our way of thinking about things, we can create permanent solutions rather than mask the symptoms.

Beauty is in the eyes of the perceiver

Many moons ago, my wife Trish and i went on vacation in Kauai. We both love water and swimming. On this trip we spent much of our days swimming and snorkeling.

One morning we were snorkeling around a nice calm cove. This cove was full of sea life. We were having a great time. I caught a glimpse of an octopus scurrying across the sandy bottom. I was very excited. I had never seen an octopus in the wild before. I tapped Trish on the shoulder and pointed to the octipus to be sure she saw it. She looked perplexed. We popped our heads out of the water so we could speak. “Did you see the octopus?” I said trying to tone down my enthusiasm. “No” she replied.

By this tie the octopus was posing as a rock on the bottom of the sea. I put my snorkel back in and dove down to within a few feet of the octopus and pointed at it. With Trish watching, in that moment the octopus squirted ink (a defense mechanism) and shot off away from me and then under a reef. I was tickled that we got to see the octopus in action. I shot back to the surface to exchange enthusiasm for the experience with my wife. Only she did not have any enthusiasm. She did not have enthusiasm because she did not see the octopus. She was looking right at me and the octopus when it inked. There is no way she could have missed that. But she did. Despite the fact that she was watching, she did not see the sea creature. I was perplexed. How could she not have seen it?

As it turns out, the idea of swimming in an ocean near an octopus is just a wee bit more than Trish’s Reality will permit. She enjoys octopuses on TV nature shows, but not in an ocean swimming beside her.

I had seen the octopus and Trish had not, despite the fact that we were sharing the exact same moment. Neither of us were lying about what we had seen. Both of us had good vision. But side by side, in the exact same spot at the exact same time we each perceived reality our own way. Her version is her truth. My version is my truth. Every person perceives reality their own way. We are each our own creators of our own reality. It’s all about perception.

Trish did not love the idea of swimming with eight legged sea monsters, and i on the other hand felt privileged to do so. If there were ten of us there snorkeling in that spot at that moment, we might each have ten fairly different versions of what each of us experienced. This is is the beauty of the human experience. We are each on our on journey. Enjoy your journey and respect the journey of others.

Life is a Treasure Hunt

As we are born into this life, into human form, nearly all of our knowledge of our true selves is scrubbed from our memory. Like a sort of amnesia. All of the details of our true nature are in a way, carefully folded up, placed in a trunk which is then placed in the attic for storage.

In lieu of this understanding of self and our source/god, we are given intellect.

This exchange of our conscious self for an intellectual self is a huge gift. From the moment we are born as humans, we get to start solving this riddle. We get the opportunity to try to uncover truth. In this way, life is much like a giant treasure hunt. Life becomes a quest for knowledge and understanding of the “big picture”.

As we search for clues to find our treasure, we get to solve this mystery. In this process, we learn, we grow, we expand as human beings. We get the opportunity to experience the yin and the yang of life. Bliss and sorrow.

For those of us who end up discovering their treasure and find their true selves, a new journey begins. A new awakened reality where all things have new meaning. Those who discover the treasure are gifted a new perspective on life as well as a greater reality. In my experience, this new perspective is like a hyper-existence. Life becomes more vivid.

I realize that this sounds a bit far fetched to those who have not yet discovered it and to those who are still holding fast it the notion that we are individuals rather than part of a greater oneness. I get it. That was my on perspective as well through most of my life.

For those who wish to find their treasure hidden in the attic, my advice is to embrace the treasure hunt. Find teachers, books are a great way to access unlimited folks who can offer you clues to find your treasure. Search to find puzzle pieces. In my experience, enhancing my bond with nature provided many clues. Don’t be shy. To find clues you must be an explorer. Perhaps the most productive component to finding clues to solve this riddle of life is to look inward. Each of us already holds all of the truths deep within our selves. Trust your own intuition.

It is important to realize that finding our true nature, awakening to a new perspective is a beginning. An opportunity for an existence with unlimited bliss and euphoria. The only limit to this bliss appears to be our own intellect. And remember, do not get fixated on the prize. Keep your focus on finding the treasure, but enjoy the journey along the way as well. Always remember to savor the moments…

Non-violence is the way

Can you think of a time in your life where violence or aggression served you well? Are violence and aggression natural human reactions to situations? I do not believe they are.

In my experience, aggression is a reaction that comes from a less evolved or less mature place. Aggression is the opposite of our nature which is love. As people mature, they are less likely to engage in violent behavior. Violence and aggression are reactions that are a side effect of fear. As we mature as beings, our fears subside and the likelihood of aggression decreases. The reduction of fear and reduced likelihood of aggression are proportionate.

Each and every week, if we turn on the news, we are likely to hear stories of violence. People who “snapped” and went into a school or work place and slaughtered people. Or people who became enraged and murdered their lover. These stories are not rare and not difficult to find. They occur constantly. As a society we are touched and saddened by such occurrences. We scramble to make sense of it or to rationalize the potential motives for people who engage in heinous acts. We assume that they have mental issues and many might. But we are all failing to see that we each are a part of the problem.

As a reaction to gun violence we often have discussions about more strict gun laws or outlawing certain types of weapons. These may or may not be good ideas but changing gun laws is not going to solve the problem. As a culture we need to change our logic here. If we go to the doctor with a broken wrist and he bandages our head, the problem is not solved.

It seems that the one if the primary ingredients in violence is stress. Our society is a very stressful place to exist. We all have days where we find ourselves pushed to our limit. How would any of us react if we were pushed BEYOND our limit?

Reducing our own stress in life is key. Helping to reduce the stress of those around us is just as vital. We all vibrate together. We are one entity. All it takes to help reduce stress for all is a little (or a lot) of love and compassion. We could each become more aware and compassionate to the plight or stress level of those around us. If we notice a friend or a loved one or a stranger who is stressed, take a moment to find a way to help. We are all brothers and sisters. We should each act accordingly. Being selfless towards others serves all including ourselves.

Society has caused extreme stress in the lives of most of us. But society does not offer professional assistance to this who need it. It is our responsibility as a culture to provide resources to people who need it. There has been a great deal of talk in recent years of healthcare for all. This conversation should include mental healthcare for all. We are an extremely wealthy nation. We are willing to spend three bucks per day on a fancy coffee, we should be willing to find a way to finance mental healthcare for all.

In western medicine we have a habit of treating symptoms rather than the source of the affliction. If we have a headache we take pills and rarely give a second thought to the cause of the headache. This is equally true for mental health. Those of us who are able to make our way to the professionals to seek help are handed a prescription more often than help getting to the crux of our psychosis. We frown on drug use on the street but are ok with drug abuse if the pills are suggested by a doctor. Is there any significant difference between self medicating and doctor prescribed medicating? I am not bagging on prescription drugs here, there is a time and a place for them, but hey are abused more often than they are utilized.

We dont put out fires by managing the smoke. The most efficient way to extinguish a fire is to snuff it at the base and to remove one or more of the components that cause the fire.

So you see, we, as a culture, as a society, as human beings are all responsible for one another. Helping others serves each of us and all of us. Finding ways to provide assistance to others is of great benefit to the greater good of all.

The path to non aggressive and non violent society starts with each of us. It is a duty that we are each on call for every moment of every day. We will often be called to this duty at the least convenient times. But lending an ear or offering a hug to a coworker or a stranger just may save lives. Love is the antidote for aggression.

Love is all ya need…

Love. Each being here on earth is love. Love is what we are above all else.

If we move towards love, we become closer with our true self. This is happiness.

If we move away from love, we lose or drift apart from our true self. This is unhappiness.

It really is that simple. If we do things that make us feel happy, we are in line with our truest self. The more we do this, the more bliss we feel. It is possible to live in a way where you are in this state nearly every moment of very day. We are human, so we are bound to have moments here or there where we drop out of bliss,.. but the feeling of not being happy in that moment is our indication to readjust. If we follow our emotions, we can remain in a blissful state almost perpetually.

In contrast, if we choose to behave in ways that make us feel unhappy, we drift from our true selves and we find unhappiness.

We have all had moments in our life where we have said or done something that we regret. Something that makes us ache to our core. This is a horrible feeling. This feeling will haunt us for hours and often even days months or years. Regrettable actions come with shame. This happens because these actions are not a representation of our true self. If we reflect on a time when we have felt this way and have later offered a sincere apology for our words or our behavior, the most remarkable thing happens. The heavy sacks of pain on our shoulders suddenly lift off. We feel light and free. Happiness within us awakens because by rectifying our behavior with our words and gestures, we have realigned with our true self. Love.

There is no good and evil. There is no direct opposite of love. There is love and there is not love. And being in either place is a choice. We each have full control over love or not love every moment of our lives.

If somebody cuts us off in traffic, we can choose to let ourselves react in a way where we become upset or even angry. Or we can slow down just a bit and allow them the space in traffic that they so desperately wanted. Why would any of us choose anger in any situation? Anger does not serve us at all. If we get irked at the person who cut us off, it will affect us for some time after. The irritations may even effect the rest of our day if we allow it. If we choose love in that moment instead, we feel good instead of angry. A few seconds later we are back to our favorite song on the radio unaffected by being cut off.

You see, we each choose in each moment how we want to be. None of us has much control over the folks around us. We can not be responsible for how they behave. But we each do have complete control over how we react to situations.

Just this morning a man and his ten year old daughter darted in front of me as i reached for the door handle of my local coffee purveyor. It was VERY rude and the man knew it too because he mumbled, “we are gonna be late” as he squeezed between me and the door. I had a choice in that moment of how i wanted to react. I could allow myself to tense up and confront the man for his rude behavior and put him in his place in front of his daughter. An act which would not serve any of us at all. OR I could smile and let the duo cut in front of me. The later choice has zero repercussions for me.

If i had reacted in a way of tensing up and confronting the man, i would be moving away from love and away from my true self. By allowing the man and his daughter by, i not only spared myself any discomfort, but i gained a bit of pleasure out of what felt like the right thing to do. I was rewarded for choosing the behavior that brought me closer to love. I was rewarded once again in this moment as well. As the father frantically placed the order for he and his daughter to the lady behind the register, his daughter looked back at me as if to see how annoyed i was by her and her father cutting in front of me. As she looked at me, i smiled at her letting her know i was not only not annoyed, but i was happy. Then she smiled. Love is contagious.

There is no moment of any day when we as individuals do not have complete control over being in a place of love or in a place of not love. There are definitely times in life where this can be an extreme challenge for any of us. But that is exactly why we should practice it at every chance. If we practice love in traffic and at the local coffee house where it is easy to do, it will prepare us to practice it in more extreme situations like losing a loved one. If you want to be a master chef, you must start with the basics, soup and pasta dishes perhaps. The more proficient you get at the basics, the easier the most challenging dishes will become later. When we master the basics, the challenges become easy and natural to us.

Love is a remarkable thing. It is our essence. If we learn to live love, we become masters of our own existence here. We will each become a sort of love beacon. People who are not ready to live in love will drift away from us. Folks who are ready to or do live love will gravitate towards us. Like will attract like and repel those who are not in the same space.

So we can each make a choice, to live in peace and harmony and ease aligned with our true self, or, we can choose a life of struggle and limited happiness apart from our truest nature.

Tapping in to intuition

In life, we have all heard expressions like “trust your gut” or “my heart tells me…” or “follow your instincts”. These are not random phrases. In fact, almost nothing in life is random. These phrases endure because they are informations coming from source. Little nudges that may help guide us in life.

The most powerful and potent ability that I or any of us possess is the ability to trust that inner voice. To learn to rely on our intuition. The more we learn to trust our intuitive self, the more easy it becomes to tp in to this resource.

How many times in life have any of us used the phrase “I just knew that was a mistake” or “ i just knew that was going to happen” after an event has just occurred. When we say these things, they are accurate. We did in fact know. For a variety of reasons, we talk ourselves out of these moments of knowing or clarity. We elect to act in a way that is a contrary to our knowing.

There are many many folks that comprehend the dynamics behind this knowing more than I , so i am not going to profess the particulars of how it occurs. I will focus on the mere fact that it does occur every moment of every day. This information resource is available to us every moment of our lives. It is a crucial life skill to learn to recognize this knowing or intuition and utilize it in life. We don’t need to know how electricity works in order to utilize it. We see that’s it works, we trust that it works and aside from a periodic power outage, it works perfectly each and every time we want it. Intuition is no different.

If upon any of us making a substantial decision in life, we teach ourselves to pause for a moment and check in with how we feel about the situation and then trust that feeling, we will benefit each time. That feeling that we are checking in with is our intuitive self. It is opposite from our emotion. These instincts at times may be very challenging to hear or to recognize. It takes constant practice. Other times these instincts are easy to pick up on. If you are about to slide off of a cliff on a snowboard for the first time you will probably hear these instincts loud an clear screaming about the potential of serious repercussions for your actions.

Have you ever jumped into your car to go somewhere only to realize that you forgot your keys in the house? Then you spend “X” number of minutes scrambling to find your keys. Finally you find your keys and then head out on the road. Have you ever pondered that small life instances like this could possibly be a greater force from a source most of us do not realize. Perhaps this a source caused the car key delay which in turn put you moments behind your original departure time. What if our original departure time had us on a perfect timing course with a collision with a giant truck and this source (god if you prefer) that caused the delay bumped us off this collision course and in tern saved out life.

Admittedly, for most of us, there is a certain leap of faith or trust involved here because we are taught from day one to trust what we can see and touch over feeling something. But… there is the same leap of faith in knowing that the lights will come on when we flick the wall switch.

Our intuition is information from a source that is always right and always perfect. What an incredible resource. How much would you pay for a high tech device that could provide this service? Well, skip the crystal ball/device because you don’t need it. This resource is free, it is always on and it is always accurate. All we need in order to utilize it is faith that it exists and taking a moment to tune in to it. Each of us already does it several times each day without knowing it. Why not trust it for all decisions that hold a significant impact?

And next time you forget to lose your car keys, don’t get frustrated. Be grateful that a source that is greater than yourself, (call it whatever you like, god, a guardian angel) just may have helped you avoid disaster.

My inner voice told me early on that i am a carpenter. A builder. I am grateful to have recognized this.

Does this message from my inner voice telling me that i am a carpenter mean that this is all that i am or all that i ever will be. Absolutely not. It was simply an important omen for me that upon recognition of it helped determine and define much of my life’s experiences. It has determined my vocation, my colleagues, many of my friends, my mental and physical health. This omen has presented me with many opportunities and challenges that have rewarded me in life.

If i had opted to ignore this intuition, there is a high probability that i would be a less happy man. As a less happy man, i may have attracted a different spouse or no spouse. I may have had no kids or different kids. The potential ripples from following or not following our intuition are endless. There is no way to extrapolate (good or bad) which direction ignoring intuition may take us.

Our intuition is a gift. Ignoring it is not unlike climbing into a car in a foreign country for a 1000 mile drive to a place you have never been and ignoring the GPS.

With some decisions in life ignoring intuitions the ramifications may be insignificant. With other decisions, the ramifications are surely life altering and potentially fatal.

Most how real is reality?

The word reality suggests “real”. In my mind the word reality has been a sort of synonym for “truth” or not an illusion. The dictionary defines reality as “the state of things as they actually exist”. All of that would suggest that there is only one true reality and anyone not living within that reality is delusional. Is there only one reality?

In my experience i have come to realize that reality is subjective and unique to each individual and each situation. That may sound a bit strange,.. if reality is subjective, how can it be real? I struggled with this a bit myself but once i accepted the notion that there are indeed different realities for every individual, things started to make more sense.

I knew a guy years ago who was a detective with the police department. He said something to me that etched into my brain some 20 years ago only to make more sense to me now as a more mature person. Here is what he told me: If a guy walks into a bank where there are 12 customers and 4 employees and robs the bank, police will separate and interview each of the 16 witnesses. Not only will no two witnesses not have the same recollection of the incident, but the stories will be so dramatically different, almost none of the accounts will be credible. He said it would be challenging to get three of the sixteen witnesses to even agree on the color of the shirt that the thief was wearing. Each witness will give an dramatically different description of the suspect. So much so that very few if any of the witnesses testimony’s would benefit the prosecutors.

How could this be. Reality is reality right? If the suspect is wearing a white shirt, black jeans and red sneakers, how could any of the witnesses not nail those simple details? A person would have to be delusional to not be able to describe the witness accurately after such a dramatic event, right?

Well… What if we are ALL delusional? What if each and every person on earth is in their own reality? What if there is no correct or incorrect reality? What would that notion due to your own personal perspective on things?

For me, the idea that we each live in our own reality actually helped make a great deal of sense out of many things. This idea answered countless questions.

There could be a homeless person sitting on the sidewalk eight feet away from a grandmother sitting at the bus stop while a business man is walking buy and a kid on a skateboard doing tricks around the corner. Within a few feet of each other, each of these individuals is in their own reality, each of these people are having dramatically different experiences. None of them is having a correct or incorrect experience. They are each having their own experience.

When i tether the idea of each of us living in our own individual reality with the notion that each of us is here on this earth for not reason other than to learn and grow and become more loving, it all makes sense. One reality would not benefit the greater good. If every person wore the same outfit, ate the same meals, lived in the same neighborhood in the same exact homes, there would be little or no growth. The growth comes from diversity. The growth is a result of contrast. The brave souls who choose challenging lives of suffering are taking one for the team just like the goons are taking all of the punches for their hockey team. Don’t get me wrong, the wealthy folks drinking champagne on giant white boats are doing their share of learning and experiencing as well. No persons life is perfect or without pain and suffering. But the contrast between human experiences is helping us as one pure entity evolve into a more loving thing or energy.

So there is no need to fret when another persons reality differs from our own. This is the point of living this human existence. One persons reality is their own business, not ours. It serves us all well to allow others their own reality and just love each person and their life experience unconditionally. Live and let live. There really is no “state of things as they actually exist”. So take pleasure in the idea that we are all correct in our own reality. Most of all, respect each other individual for living and experiencing their own reality.