Missing in Action

First off the workout! There is no verbal instruction in this video which is a little bothersome but I believe on their site you can find videos with voice overs. The beginning is pretty ab intense. I didn’t have a magic circle so I used, a block, strap, kettlebell, Pilate’s Ball to make substitutions that I felt were appropriate and as close to the exercise as I could replicate. I love rollups btw! Is it just me or is this woman one of the most beautiful women in the world? I mean seriously!

Now for the scary bit. I took some before photos which I am too self-conscious to post at the moment haha I will post this image of my back which I have been working on very dutifully with the hopes of improving my posture (some success here) and gaining some muscle (fail despite gaining strength). The weird thing about this photo is aside from the fact that I have no muscle on my back at all is that I don’t have scapulae either??? I don’t have fat covering them so where the hell did they go? Anyhow here is my no back back. As you know my back is one of my least favorite body parts and often stops me from going swimming so I am being very brave here. Forgive my hair lol

Back

Ridiculous Musings about Ego!

Red Stripe Mouth

When I don’t think about being damaged. I move through life, productive for a time, perhaps even confident. I forget myself. My fears are like flies that can be dusted off without any genuine interruption or consideration. I don’t even realize that I am repressing my feelings, it’s involuntary. It keeps me functional in that vaguely inhuman way that human being’s exist. Then I start to wear out, to feel uneasy, to get angry. In the beginning I don’t even realize that I am angry. I think what’s going on with everyone today? Why are they being so unreasonable? Then I start to collapse under the weight of all those pent up emotions. I think why I am still traumatized? I have a different life now. I am free. I don’t have to live in fear but I continue to live life as if the war were still raging (I have taken the war with me, I have become the war).

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In a recent talk I viewed with Alan Watts he said “Now is the creative point of life” Like Merlin we actually live in reverse, our experience of now creates the past. We can’t blame the past for anything that happens today because we are the ones creating the values of the past. I thought about this and thought about this, for perhaps 10 good minutes and while I slept I am sure lol I think he is on to something but I can only parrot what he’s said at the moment.

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I agree that healing comes through connection. I think that making your world safer makes you more paranoid. I think people who are traumatized that talk about it and bond recover in a way people who deny/exclude never do.

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Then I started to think about the ego. The concept of the ego has always alluded me. I understand the concept of illusions and denial. I know very well that the world I perceive bares little resemblance to life at a quantum level and that the world I perceive is different than the world perceived by my ancestors and even by my neighbors (ask 10 people to describe a poem you’ve written you’ll get 10 answers). I do not think I know everything or that my view is absolute/correct/all inclusive. I do not think reality is a concrete thing that can be defined and cataloged in any particularly useful way. There is a limit to what our senses can communicate and a limit to what are brains can cope with at any give moment. As a child I could not cope with being abused so I created an alternate space for myself, a pocket, so that I could survive alongside the horrors. The ego is a useful albeit glitchy construct and as long as we inhabit mortal bodies I do not see how we could realistically dispose of it. I do not see how we could convince ourselves that we do not exist or how that would be useful.

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This is where it gets tricky. I believe our beliefs shapes reality (I’d go so far as to say we are creators). As I said before whenever I repress or deny any aspect of myself it creates disease. In order to accept oneself can you really deny the existence of that self? I am not suggesting that we are separate, that our actions have no consequence, that we live in a bubble. You are me. I am you. I am sure anyone who has hurt themselves has seen the devastating impact that can have on family and friends. Yes other people take our pain personally. When I claim to hate myself, the people who love me are invariably insulted/wounded. How dare I hate someone so precious? And what does my hating myself say about them? About their judgment? Their value as human beings? The point is we simply cannot escape our connection to each other, so I deduce that we are each other. No one is alone, it is simply not possible to be alone. We are the universe, the universe is not alone. I also think if you look at beings we think of as non sentient long enough you will either imagine them sentient or realize that they are in fact sentient, but it is irrelevant the manner in which they gain sentience. Look at ants. They seem so uniform, so militant but there is always an ant that goes off does a little jig, stares at a rock for 20 minutes and then mysteriously and without fanfare returns to the regime. For a few minutes each day that ant was not a machine, he/she was something else, he/she had a private life, he/she had whims, he/she was chaos.

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However, I still do not understand the point of getting rid of ego. Yes yes ego is suffering I have heard that before. The ego says this is unpleasant. I do not like this experience. Sometimes that has value, sometimes the experience is legitimately dangerous. Sometimes we are avoiding something necessary even essential to our growth and development. But if the ego is what conceives suffering. Then suffering is not suffering but experience and if the point is to learn, to grow then why are we are seeking to alleviate discomfort and disappear? Isn’t that just the ego talking? Yes there has to be some way to deduce the legitimate danger from the fear but I think we can do that better by opening up to all that we are, rather than pruning bits away. Failure is necessary so is there really any point or any merit to perfection, to establishing absolutes? What do we learn from that? So what I am saying is uncertainty is perhaps the only certainty. That sometimes we will push away an opportunity and sometimes we will step on a landmine and that is exactly what we are supposed to be doing, fumbling around. Which is better for learning the landmine or the opportunity? Who can say? Ask ego (j/k). Seriously though if belief creates reality then we created ego. We created the limitations it imposes. We convinced ourselves that the only way to know anything/anyone is to label it/them, rather to coexist with it/them.

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Anyhow this is what I like about Shinto (I like many things about Buddhism too btw). Shinto does not even have perfect gods, the gods themselves are flawed as it should be. There is nothing wrong with being human. We are essentially good. Nothing negative that happens to us makes us bad even if it clouds our perceptions for a time. In Shinto it gives us permission to suffer and rejoice and that is life. If we are here now in these human bodies shouldn’t we humble ourselves to that experience and all that it entails even if we do not fully comprehend it?

We are always thinking what’s next? Tell me teacher what is the point? What is my reward for completing this lesson? I don’t know about you but I have never finished a lesson in my life. I have never said “Great now I know everything there will ever be to know about math!” or “Woot now I know every word in the English language!” Never happened. I remain a student, even when I teach I am a student first. I think that is why Shinto is concerned with life more than death.

When I was around 10 it occurred to me that I would die. I wasn’t sure what I believed would happen in the after life, if there was an after life, but the realization was frightening. I didn’t want to stop “being”. I cried and agonized over this realization for a long time and then…I had an epiphany.

If nothing happens after death: We can only be aware of ourselves when we are alive and while we might perceive the moment of dying, we can’t perceive being dead.

If reincarnation then we have not died simply exchanged one life for another.

If heaven/hell exists we have simply moved to another plane of existence

If we rejoin the universe then I expect we are neither alive nor dead but something like the Tao and thus any fear of not being is completely and utterly irrelevant. Which to me is similar to the ego, it is irrelevant. Sometimes we do see beyond into something else and sometimes we see only as far as the end of our nose and that is so.

Well I have more ridiculous musings but I will leave it there for now and with this video

How Sweet the Vinegar!

In the classic painting The Vinegar Tasters the Buddha finds the vinegar bitter. His perception of bitterness is supposedly an allegory for how he views life. Many people find Buddhism to be a strange combination of pessimism and pacifism. Life is suffering is kind of a depressing tagline.

The idea that the objective of life might not be happiness is positively terrifying to people. In a relentless pursuit of comfort, a good night’s sleep is often more appealing than a day of drudgery. Buddhism is actually about living life fully. So how come no alcohol? That’s easy it clouds the mind and thus dilutes the experience. Coping mechanisms are dangerous because we rely on them to take away the pain and rarely address the issues that necessitate them. For example someone who eats for emotional comfort will gain weight and eventually incapacitate themselves. The amount of food necessary for the high increases with time. Even exercise can be taken to extremes when its being used as a tool for repression.

Here is a quote for you to ponder by Jeff Martin leader of The Tea Party “Getting your freedom’s easy surviving it’s harder still”

No one wants to lose weight. What they want is to be thin. Taken another way people say they want to learn but what they really mean is that they want to know, they want to be right. You might think I am splitting hairs but there is a huge difference. I am one of those people who simply wants to know but when it comes to applying myself to a pursuit I am very likely to give in at the first sign of resistance.

When Isadora plays video games she wants to win. She craves the positive and immediate reinforcement the games provide. She doesn’t really care about technique, a win based on luck is completely legitimate and currently she is unable to distinguish the difference. She isn’t good at Super Mario Brothers so she doesn’t play it. She is more than happy to watch someone else play but she doesn’t want to lose.

When Isadora was around 4 years old she became very interested in writing. She would practice her letters for hours at a stretch. She even forfeited recess to practice! She got frustrated but she was highly motivated. She genuinely wants to learn to write. She does not genuinely want to learn how to play Super Mario Brothers she simply wants to be good at it.

We always assume that people are born with a particular talent. Whenever we try something for the first time we are either good or bad at it and that determines largely if we will continue. Very rarely do we think of all the effort that goes into proficiency. As a child I was interested in language but I had to learn to read and write same as an other kid. If you read some of my earlier poems and stories  you wouldn’t find even an inkling of my current ability. I started with an interest but I still had to start from scratch.

One of the reasons heaven is so appealing is because it promises everlasting happiness but what would the world be like if all we ever thought about was our personal and immediate comfort? Take a look around. Depleted resources. Wars (everyone wants more and needs more to get the same effect, everyone wants to be right, everyone wants to have just a little more than their neighbor has, everyone wants to win). I am not disputing the existence of heaven here (though it’s not my personal belief) but the search for unlimited pleasure/joy might not be working out too well for us here on earth.

I am sure I am not the only one whose had this experience. Everything seems to be going fine. I think to myself I am making progress, I am getting my shit together, I am on course. I am right, I am living correctly. Then the pain kicks in. I notice that my body is full of crippling muscular tension. I start to have trouble sleeping. Then, I get sick. So what happened? How did I go from successful to invalid in a matter of hours, days, weeks? It’s called Mara. When you think you’re right you’re usually on the wrong path (seeking miracles, diversions, comfort, and quick fixes). But how could that be? When you think you’re wrong you are going against your nature. But how could that be?

What does the right path feel like? It doesn’t that’s the thing, it just doesn’t. You don’t have a sense of right or wrong, good or bad when you are doing what you are meant to be doing, it just is, you are just there, you are in the moment. If you think you can stay on the path strait to the end you are wrong about that too because we do get off course and there is a lot to learn from the detours. If you think being good at something means you stop making mistakes, getting slack from others then you will never progress.

 

What I like about Buddhism is that it entreats us to embrace life as it is, it doesn’t seek perfection but urges us instead to be inquisitive. What I like about Taoism is that it embraces the duality. The necessity of contrasts. What I like about Shintoism is that it recognizes that each person has their own truth. They all embrace human nature in a very honest and compassionate way.

What’s your alignment?

Surreal_by_surag

Art By: Surag

Lawful Good Code

1. You shall not lie.

2. You shall not harm the innocent.

3. You shall not murder.

4. You shall help the needy.

5. You shall honor legitimate authority that promotes goodness.

6. You shall follow the law.

7. You shall not betray others.

8. You shall bring criminals and evil-doers to justice.

9. You shall not steal.

10. You shall seek unlimited good for others and unlimited order in society.

Lawful Good Sins

1. Failing to show respect to lawful good churches, governments, and/or beings.

2. Failing to speak out against corruption, sin, greed, pride, etc.

3. Being motivated by pride, avarice, gluttony, or some other sinful impulse.

4. Theft, robbery, or willful vandalism.

5. Causing harm to a pious or virtuous being.

6. Failing to assist or aid good beings when in need.

7. Blasphemous or heretical acts.

8. Allowing a crime or major act of evil to go unpunished.

9. The murder of an innocent.

10. Aiding the servants of Chaos and Evil.

Neutral Good Code

1. You shall lie only to evil-doers.

2. You shall not harm the innocent.

3. You shall not murder.

4. You shall help the needy.

5. You shall honor those who promote goodness.

6. You shall follow the law unless breaking the law results in more good.

7. You shall not betray others.

8. You shall bring evil-doers to justice.

9. You shall steal only to promote goodness.

10. You shall seek unlimited good for others.

Neutral Good Sins

1. Refusing to defy authority to perform a good act.

2. Failing to speak out against an evil act.

3. Following a law or keeping your word when you feel that breaking the law would result in more good.

4. Theft, robbery, or willful vandalism unless it harms an evil being or cause.

5. Willful causing of harm to a good being.

6. Failing to assist good beings when they are in need.

7. Turning down a chance to destroy or bring to justice an evil being.

8. Allowing major act of evil to go unavenged. Betraying a friend or ally for evil reason.

9. The murder of an innocent.

10. Aiding the servants of Evil. Committing a heinous or demented act.

Chaotic Good Code

1. You shall lie in the pursuit of goodness.

2. You shall not harm the innocent.

3. You shall not murder.

4. You shall help the needy.

5. You shall honor those who promote freedom and goodness.

6. You shall break the law in pursuit of goodness.

7. You shall not betray others.

8. You shall avenge the acts of evil-doers and enemies of freedom.

9. You shall not place duty above personal desire to do good.

10. You shall seek unlimited good for others and freedom in society.

Chaotic Good Sins

1. Failing to perform a random act of kindness when appropriate.

2. Failing to pursue a new form of pleasure.

3. Placing duty above personal desire.

4. Failing to assist allies or good beings in need.

5. Causing harm to an essentially good being.

6. Following a law when you feel that it unnecessarily restricts your freedom.

7. Turning down a chance to trick, cheat, or harm an evil being for personal gain.

8. Betraying an ally or friend for evil reason.

9. The murder of an innocent.

10. Aiding the servants of Order and Evil.

Lawful Neutral Code

1. You shall not lie.

2. You shall not kill the innocent.

3. You shall not murder.

4. You shall help the needy if such action advances law and order.

5. You shall honor legitimate authority.

6. You shall follow the law.

7. You shall not betray others.

8. You shall not aid criminals.

9. You shall honor all oaths.

10. You shall promote unlimited order in society.

Lawful Neutral Sins

1. Failing to alert the authorities of a crime.

2. Treating a peer with disrespect.

3. Placing personal desire above adherence to the law.

4. Breaking your word to your peer or ally.

5. Failing to assist allies in need.

6. Breaking a major law.

7. Failing to assist your superior when in need.

8. Treating a superior with disrespect.

9. Breaking your word to your superior.

10. Breaking a sacred oath or written contract. Aiding the forces of Chaos and Disorder.

True Neutral Code

1. You shall avoid lies.

2. You shall not kill the innocent.

3. You shall not murder.

4. You shall help the needy if such action aids yourself.

5. You shall honor those who honor you.

6. You shall follow the law unless breaking the law can advance you without harming others.

7. You shall not betray others unless your life is in jeopardy.

8. You shall aid those who aid you and harm those who harm you.

9. You shall not promote an extreme viewpoint.

10. You shall advance yourself without harming others.

True Neutral Sins

1. Trying to persuade others to take a stance on a moral or ethical issue.

2. Failing to assist a friend or ally.

3. Killing for any reason other than survival.

4. Breaking your word to a friend or ally, unless life is threatened.

5. Needless torture.

6. Making a sacrifice for someone unrelated to you.

7. Refusing to kill when important to your survival.

8. Betraying an ally or friend, unless life is in danger.

9. Showing mercy to a dire enemy.

10. Taking sides in a conflict that doesn’t affect your survival.

Chaotic Neutral Code

1. You shall lie to promote your freedom.

2. You shall not kill the innocent.

3. You shall not murder.

4. You shall help the needy if such action promotes your freedom.

5. You shall honor no authority above yourself.

6. You shall break the law whenever convenient.

7. You shall not betray others unless your life is in jeopardy.

8. You shall not aid enemies of freedom or those who promote law.

9. You shall pursue pleasure.

10. You shall promote unlimited freedom for yourself.

Chaotic Neutral Sins

1. Showing respect for self-discipline, authority, or institutions unless trickery is involved.

2. Failing to pursue pleasure.

3. Placing fear of the law or duty above personal desire.

4. Keeping your word to a peer when breaking your word would keep you out of danger or provide amusement.

5. Refusing to exert power over others or actively sow dissension when appropriate.

6. Following a law when opportunity for mischief, personal gain, or excitement presents itself.

7. Turning down a chance to trick, cheat, or lie to a being for personal gain or amusement.

8. Actively joining or maintaining an existing government, power structure, or other institution for reasons other than trickery, destruction, or mayhem.

9. Actively hindering change.

10. Actively inducing boredom. Aiding the forces of Law and Order.

Lawful Evil Code

1. You shall not lie.

2. You shall harm the innocent to advance yourself or promote order.

3. You shall kill to advance yourself or promote order.

4. You shall not aid the weak.

5. You shall honor legitimate authority that promotes you and your comrades.

6. You shall follow the law.

7. You shall not betray others.

8. You shall not aid criminals or those who protect the weak.

9. You shall use the law to advance yourself and your comrades.

10. You shall seek unlimited power over others and unlimited order in society.

Lawful Evil Weakness

1. Failing to use the law to harm others, even when there is no chance for personal gain.

2. Failing to assist or avenge a peer.

3. Failing to dominate those not worthy of respect.

4. Breaking your word to your peer or ally.

5. Refusing to punish the disobedient. Not pursuing vengeance when appropriate.

6. Failing to commit cruel acts that are in your best interest.

7. Failing to further your cause when opportunity presents.

8. Turning down a chance to gain power or wealth. Failing to corrupt an institution or being for material gain.

9. Betraying your superior without cause. Breaking your word to your superior.

10. Aiding the forces of Freedom and Goodness. Breaking a sacred oath.

Neutral Evil Code

1. You shall lie to advance yourself.

2. You shall harm the innocent to advance yourself.

3. You shall kill to advance yourself.

4. You shall not aid the weak.

5. You shall honor those who are stronger.

6. You shall follow the law only to advance yourself.

7. You shall betray friends, family, community, and nation to advance yourself.

8. You shall not aid those who protect the weak.

9. You shall not show mercy to enemies.

10. You shall seek unlimited power over others.

Lawful Evil Weakness

1. Failing to show malice or inflict pain upon an innocent when it would be pleasurable to do so.

2. Not challenging a clearly weak leader for leadership.

3. Keeping your word when doing so would interfere with personal gain.

4. Refusing to commit cruel act that would harm your enemy or rival when appropriate.

5. Making a sacrifice to help another when not important to your survival.

6. Failing to commit cruel acts that are in your best interest.

7. Refusing to kill for personal gain or wealth.

8. Turning down a chance to gain power or wealth.

9. Showing mercy to one who is opposed to you or your cause.

10. Aiding the servants of Goodness.

Neutral Evil Code

1. You shall lie to advance yourself.

2. You shall harm the innocent to advance yourself.

3. You shall kill to advance yourself.

4. You shall not aid the weak.

5. You shall honor those who are stronger.

6. You shall follow the law only to advance yourself.

7. You shall betray friends, family, community, and nation to advance yourself.

8. You shall not aid those who protect the weak.

9. You shall not show mercy to enemies.

10. You shall seek unlimited power over others.

Neutral Evil Weakness

1. Failing to show malice or inflict pain upon an innocent when it would be pleasurable to do so.

2. Not challenging a clearly weak leader for leadership.

3. Keeping your word when doing so would interfere with personal gain.

4. Refusing to commit cruel act that would harm your enemy or rival when appropriate.

5. Making a sacrifice to help another when not important to your survival.

6. Failing to commit cruel acts that are in your best interest.

7. Refusing to kill for personal gain or wealth.

8. Turning down a chance to gain power or wealth.

9. Showing mercy to one who is opposed to you or your cause.

10. Aiding the servants of Goodness.

Chaotic Evil Code

1. Failing to show contempt and disrespect for the virtuous and noble.

2. Failing to pursue a new form of pleasure.

3. Failing to give in to a sinful or chaotic impulse.

4. Avoiding injury to others at the cost of your own pleasure.

5. Refusing to display power over underling when appropriate.

6. Refusing to commit cruel acts that are in your best interest.

7. Refusing to kill when in your best interest.

8. Turning down a chance to gain power or wealth.

9. Acting altruistically.

10. Aiding the forces of Law and Goodness.

Chaotic Evil Weakness

1. Failing to show contempt and disrespect for the virtuous and noble.

2. Failing to pursue a new form of pleasure.

3. Failing to give in to a sinful or chaotic impulse.

4. Avoiding injury to others at the cost of your own pleasure.

5. Refusing to display power over underling when appropriate.

6. Refusing to commit cruel acts that are in your best interest.

7. Refusing to kill when in your best interest.

8. Turning down a chance to gain power or wealth.

9. Acting altruistically.

10. Aiding the forces of Law and Goodness.

I found the above lists at this site

http://easydamus.com/alignment.html

In truth I can’t quite riddle out where I belong on it I am something like chaotic good and true neutral I suppose. I decided to make my own personal list adhering to the above lists as much as possible

Personal Code

1. Do no harm takes precedence over honesty if the truth could result in the death of an innocent party then lying is the proper course. Do not lie to avoid punishment. Even if the lie was justified take responsibility. Try to avoid lies.

2. You shall not harm the innocent

3. I recognize the right to self-defense and defense of innocents. If someone pursued with the intent to harm and could not be immobilized and I felt that they would continue to kill then I would take that into account. I am a believer in situational ethics.

4. You should help others in such a way as to increase their level of independence. You should never give out of pity but from a place of respect.

5. Do not betray others

6. If a law is unjust stand against it

7. Seek first to understand

8. You shall not aid those who promote injustice and discrimination.

9. You shall live in accordance with your own moral code.

10. You should not seek to control/manipulate others

Sins (though I’d rather not use that term)

1. Imposing your beliefs on others. (I can’t support beliefs that harm innocents. I’d have an issue with virgin/animal sacrifice for example)

2. Failure to speak out against injustice or discrimination

3. Killing for any reason other than survival

4. Betraying an ally or friend

5. Seeking revenge through proxy (if you have  a problem with an individual address the individual).  I do not believe in torturing other people. I do believe in standing up for yourself and your loved ones. I also believe that you should always seek to understand and look for nonviolent resolutions.

6. Interfering with the natural consequences. I feel you do a great disservice to others by shielding them from responsibility/consequence.  There are of course exceptions you wouldn’t let a child run into the street to prove that it is unsafe. If a person is disabled you need to encourage independence certainly but from a loving and supportive platform. There should be consequence certainly but abandonment isn’t just. This is another situation where it is case by case. I didn’t permit my friend to go off with a stranger to an unfamiliar location. Even though she is confident and smart I had a bad feeling and I go with my instincts. I do not believe that a person is their addictions and since addictions compromise a person’s ability to make choices in accordance with their true nature I’d be quite aggressive in removing the substance from the equation if it would be Sam or Isadora in that situation since those are the two people I will never give up on. Withdraw being the consequence and of course whatever they have to clean up in their lives after they are recovered. I would not interfere with the legal system if a loved one committed a crime and the punishment was sensible. I do, however, and you may disagree believe that people have the right to die. If someone has a terminal diagnosis their wishes need to be respected. We can prolong life unnaturally but what of quality? I think that is an important consideration.

7. Working in a job that goes against my core beliefs

8. Failure to report a serious crime. While I am not going to go around telling on everyone over every blasted thing. If you know a child is being abused you must speak up.

9. Failure to pursue your dreams

10. Failure to be true to yourself

The Squids Are Coming!

In_Bloom_by_the_surreal_arts

By: The_Surreal_Arts

We know that humans as individuals are given to deleterious habits and self-destructive behaviors. But what about humans as a species? Are we driving ourselves to extinction as part of a grander design? Has nature wired us to detonate? Just as the explosion of stars is necessary to shape the universe are humans an essential catalyst? The very things necessary to sustain our lives poison us. Food, air, water every one an essential poisons. Do you believe man is important/integral or a mere stepping stone in the evolutionary process? Is man the most intelligent life form out there? What defines intelligence? What life form might inherit the planet if humans die out (assuming there is a planet to inherit)?