On Pursuit. Control. And Surrender.

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So much of life is punctuated by the idea of pursuit: of acquiring more knowledge; accumulating more accolades; gaining a stronger grasp on this nebulous thing we call living.   No person knows why we are here, and so we greatly concern ourselves with making sense of our world. We also know that this world is a much more vast than one mind can ever understand. This is why we laud the importance of social roles. Let the scientists unearth mysteries of the physical world. Let the musicians unravel emotional experiences. Let spiritual leaders explore the realms beyond words.  This is why whenever someone makes a new discovery or achieves a new human feat, we always use the word “we.” We just discovered gravitational waves. We just unlocked a new part of the mind. We just solved a new human mystery.    This pursuit is so noble and so necessary because it helps us make sense of something that cannot be grasped. And yet, It also underscores our desire for control. If we can control our world, we don’t have to fear it. If we can control our world, nothing can sneak up on us in the dark throes of the night.   But there will always remain a part of the world that will be beyond our control and beyond our grasp. No matter how many tireless hours we spend as a collective, we will never unlock them all. And so in this way we must learn to be the opposite.   We must learn to surrender.   We don’t know why major chords make us happy and minor chords make us sad in music. We don’t know why we are arrested by the sight of a sublime sunset. We don’t know how the brain can accomplish so many complex…

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Thursday Thought: On Subtraction

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  “Adversity has the effect of eliciting talents, which in prosperous circumstances would have lain dormant.” — Horace I once met a man who has all of the conventional trappings of success — money, health, material goods, etc. But when I asked him what loves most in life, rather than discussing his wealth, he said something that gave me a moment of pause. “I love travelling. I love travelling because I travel to suffer.”  We paused and looked at each other for a moment. He continued. “I don’t stay in luxury hotels. I don’t ride around in taxis. I take the seedy trains. I take the fewest supplies I can. I go into the slums. But what results is usually the opposite of suffering. Yes, there are some difficult moments, but I’m reminded of how free one can feel without that burdens and trappings of every day. I’m reminded of the simple pleasures: of listening, of connecting via a smile. I’m reminded of what things really matter.”  I held onto those words ever since that exchange. It reminded me of one of my own practices. On a near daily basis I’ll look in the mirror into my own eyes and say “I wish you hardship. May you find new strength today.” It’s a reminder that the hardship is necessary in order to continue this very delicate process of human refinement. I often think about how many brotherhoods and sisterhoods have a piece of polished gold, silver or marble as a prominent symbol in their organizations. These symbols are often designed to represent that at the end of life, one has hopefully chipped away at the debris — the hardness, the vices, the negativity — in order to become a kind and cultivated person. But this process only occurs as move through the…

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On The Impermanence of All Things

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450 million years ago, there were about 415 days in a year. 4 billion years ago, the moon was 10 times closer to the Earth than it is today, and a day was approximately 6 hours long. Scientists have observed these changes and based them upon the interaction — a celestial dance — between the Earth and the moon. (If you want to listen to the full Radiolab podcast on this topic, click here). This information is intriguing and compelling to think about just on its own. But it also leads to a more philosophical point about the nature of life itself. Nothing is Forever: Diamonds The Earth The Sun The Moon Time Life These are all things that we take for granted to one extent or another as “forever.” I’ve always found the human mind to be incredibly fascinating because so many of us live our lives with a subconscious belief that we will live forever. That is, until we are directly confronted with the reality of our own impending demise. I think that this default pattern of thinking is inherently linked to being a human being. We view death as “that thing” that happens to people we read about or hear about — and sometimes even people we know — but don’t truly believe that it will happen to us. And this is why so many people put of their dreams; this is why people don’t travel; this is why people don’t set goals; this is why people squander their most precious resource: time. We also assume that the celestial bodies on which we reside will always exist, and will always remain the same. However, even stars and planets have limited life cycles. Even if takes billions of years, stars get hotter and hotter and then eventually explode….

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Living the Inspired Life

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The transition over to Orastories is almost complete…and I want to invite everyone to read my page to the inspired life and join the movement (only if you want, of course!) We all have ideas of our dream life. No, I’m not talking about having a bunch of cars or being a celebrity. I’m talking about a life where every day we can wake up and smile because we’re surrounded by people we love and because we are pursuing our passions. But here’s the thing: we can’t all afford to buy a ticket and fly halfway across the world. Many of us aren’t able to just leave our jobs and risk the security of our precious families. Many “gurus” will tell you to stop everything you’re doing, throw caution to the wind, and pursue your new life – without thinking about your responsibilities or the inherent risk in embarking on a new path without any kind of map… read the rest here: http://orastories.com/the-inspired-life/

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Be Like Water

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“Water can flow and it can crash.” – Bruce Lee It is the liquid of life. One of the purest and most powerful forces ever created. When it wants to be, it can be a harbinger of danger and destruction. But at its essence, the phenomenon of water is one of balance. And here is why everyone should emulate this powerful element. Definite Purpose From engaging in osmosis within your body, to flowing through lakes, streams, rivers, and eventually to the ocean, water is constantly moving – and it does so with definite purpose. It knows where its headed, and it lets nothing be an obstacle. It’s fluid and malleable, which allows it to seep through the smallest cracks and gently flow over tiniest pebbles. It’s unified and persistent in its greater force, which allows it to wear down even the greatest mountains and create canyons and crevasses. It’s completely balanced in this determined movement. Sometimes, you’ll see it softly passing you by in continuous consistency. Other times, you’ll hear it raging by with the roar heard in a veld as it surges through any surface in its path. And every so often, you’ll see it bring its greatest brute force. Force in the form of heavenly walls that rival that of Troy and could level any city without a moment’s notice. Force in the form of torrential storms that could transform any street to a dense wetland. However it chooses to get there, water will get there, any time, every time – without fail. Adaptability If you put water in a frigid environment, it will freeze and become ice – completely blending in to its frosted surroundings. If you tell it to become air, it will turn into vapor and suspend itself above the earth in the form of majestic clouds. If you put water in a…

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