Why No Way is the Way

A way can be said to be a predefined set of pattern or behavior.

It has been a long time that our various social structures and cultural patterns base on our mutually exclusive definition of good and evil, right and wrong have done us well. That is great. However, it is about time for us to move beyond.

Impermanence IS the only absolute of nature, as base on the fundamental teaching of Buddhism and also base on the fundamental understanding in physics.

Time is changing. As we relentlessly continue to develop technology that accelerates the speed for which we and our society change, the more so that any pre-defined set of pattern and behaviors are to become obsolete. That is to say, it is very likely that pre-existing ways will have less and less benefits and more more harms the longer we hold on to it.

In a state of chaos, no predefined patterns, no premeditated thoughts can help us.

That is why having “no way” is the only way to behave suitably as time proceeds from here on. It has never been more true.

Having no way does not mean to fight and to abolish any existing way. Quite oppositely, having no way means MORE so that we need to study and fully understand all, or at least as many as possible, existing ways that we know of. But without being attached, as in clinging to any particular one of them…. only then, we can spontaneously apply a suitable way that maybe one or more of the pre-existing ways in combination, or create a new one, in any particular situation.

And this is only possible if you don’t cling on to a specific way.

Understand both what are defined as “right” and “wrong”… and know that at any time, “right” could become “wrong” and “wrong” could become “right”. Seeing sides without taking side.

This may seem very dangerous and foreign to our mind conditioned to follow patterns of behavior in the last few thousands of years. It is in-arguable that we have the brains to move beyond that.

That is the kind of mentality, living attitude that more and more mankind needs if we are to live harmonically among ourselves and with our environment.

That is the kind of world leader we need, even just as people with influence.

Bruce Lee’s JKD is actually of no particular style. It has its basic routines, training patterns. Many of those may have been drived from Wing Chun or any other style that Bruce Lee studied, and they are good starting point. But you should not be restricted by any of them. He did not even want to call JKD as JKD if he can get by without words.

We have to be able to move beyond all the ways that we have.

As the “no-mind” teaching in Zen, it means for us to go beyond our mind. Reality lives beyond our thinking, our logical intelligence. This is also why the only thing a Zen master really ever does is either destroy all your existing concepts and ideas — including what you think of Zen, or if he thinks you are close, directly points you to the “no-mind” state of being and perception.

To deal with reality optimally, we need no-mindedness and make no-way the way.

Then of course, this choice cannot be made up in the mind as a decision like we usually do, but instead it is a choice that is to known by our heart.

Originally posted 2010-08-23 23:33:31. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Be a Student for Life

Can any human being know everything there is to know? No, I doubt it. If there’s someone like that, he or she has been hunted and captured by one of the most powerful nations on earth by now. Since we know there is no such person, then it means we can learn something new everyday. In fact…

To keep on learning should be a top priority in life.

More so is the fact that our society is structured in a way that people who don’t learn much will suffer consequences. If you don’t know how things operate, you are likely to get scammed. How’s that for a motivation to learn? (this is half truth, half joking…)

Despite all that, what often happens is that we simply stop learning. Perhaps we finished school. “Oh, I got my master/PhD, I’m all set…” Or maybe because of a much inflated ego. Or we become lazy and comfortable because we can “get by” without learning.

But that’s not who we are. We are all capable being a student for life.

Human beings, who are almost unique in having the ability to learn from the experience of others, are also remarkable for their apparent disinclination to do so.
– Douglas Adams

Having the Desire to Learn

To learn you must first have the desire to learn. There is no other way around it. You need a desire to understand how things work in this world. You need the curiosity to find out why. It also means humbleness, humility, open-mindedness, and awareness.

People who are arrogant rarely learn. People who get defensive easily rarely learn. People who focus only on themselves rarely learn.

You must throw away those habits and acknowledge that you don’t know everything. It’s the truth. It’s not that hard to accept, right?

The Idea of True Learning

You may ask, “Why do I need to learn?”

Learning builds on top of the desire for improvement. True learning happens when you actually practice what you learn, you take action to change for the better for yourself, for others, or even for the world. Seriously, knowledge is power. You only get this power, if and only if you learn, and if and only if you practice the knowledge you learn.

Studying vs. Learning

We have an education curriculum that involves an endless amount of homeworks, tests, and quizzes for students. Students study and study. They memorize facts after facts. Meanwhile they have no clue why they are studying their butts off besides the vauge idea that it’s “good” for them and also the security of future jobs.

This is totally lame because few ever learn. They may study, but they don’t learn. Worse yet, as soon as school is over, not only there’s no learning, the studying stops too. Even worse than that, this has become a prolific behavior such as…

…personal finance junkies, personal development junkies. They read books after books, blogs after blogs. And then they talk about all the ideas and concepts in saving, investing, 20-days self-improvement, etc. which simulates students reciting the monologue of Hamlet. Meanwhile, they never practice a single word coming out of their mouths. Which begs the question “Why?” because at least the students may sound artistic reciting “To be, or not to be: That is the question…”

…”religious” people. They recite old scriptures and tell others about all the rules in their particular religion. Meanwhile, their action demonstrate no understanding of the philosophy of the religion, such as proclaimed Buddhists who burn incense, sacrifice food, and kneel down to pray and who also reveal little understanding of Buddhist philosophy in their speech, way of life, and (lack of) compassion. Same goes for the people who act differently inside and outside of church/monastery. I am not attacking religion. Rather, I am simply stating an observation of behaviors of self-proclaimed religious people.

That is why it’s important to keep in mind the idea of true learning – learn and then practice what you learn.

Lower Your Defense to Learn

Pay attention to the voice in your head when you listen to others and even when you are reading. Is that voice constantly disagreeing? Trying to defend your stance? Do you feel attacked? And therefore the mind shuts down reception?

Try to be open-minded when you read.
Try to be compassionate when others speak.

Learning from Failure

A great opportunity to learn is when we make mistakes and when we fail. Do you simply fold and hide? Do you decide to never to try again? Do you forget your goal? Indeed, giving up is much easier than learning from failure because it means to acknowledge you have failed. Naturally, it’s not a pleasnt thing to do. However, it is most important for you to do otherwise – accepting your failure. Only with such acceptance, you can fully be calm and aware to observe what went wrong and appreciate the lesson of the mistake. As a result, you will certainly improve next time, even if just slightly.

Learning for Your Own Sake

There are so many specialized fields in our society that a 60GB Ipod cannot hold a rap song with all the names. That’s the nature of our society. And it is a big reason to motivate us to learn. It has become a responsibility to learn about things you deal with everyday.

Think about your own finance. Certainly you can hire an accountant and a financial adviser to handle your money, but let me ask you, “Who cares most about your money?” It’s none other than yourself. That’s why you should spend time and effort to learn how to handle your own money, learn to open high yeidl saving accounts, learn to invest and grow your money, learn about taxes, learn about the financial tools out there. And don’t say you are too busy because if you are, someone will take your money.

Besides personal finance, the idea to learn for your own sake also applies to your health. Sure, you can hire a trainer, but who cares most about your own body? Right, it’s none other than yourself again. Your trainer could be a sincere, helpful trainer or he/she could be a jerk whose eyes only on your money. I’ve literally seen a trainer on a track field teaching inappropriate exercise to beginners, and another one telling people to do this and that while his sorry ass is on the bench the whole time. I sure hope they have found new trainers by now.

For your money, health, and your own sake, spend some time and effort to learn.

Peace is what you get when you know how things work

Learning how things work in this world will help you see thing as it is. How do I mean?

Let’s say you somehow got ripped off by store selling an item. You could get ragingly mad. Yell and scream and curse the ocean of anger out. But will it accomplish anything besides putting stress on your own body?

Instead, you can understand the ecnomics behind it. The store’s goal is to benefit itself financially. With this understand, you can negotiate with the store in such a way that will benefit both of your and reach a resolution.

This is a simple hypothetical scenario, but it demonstrate the difference between learning vs. not learning, knowing the why vs. not knowing the why, and peace vs. no peace. As Dalai Lama said, “Learn the rules so you know how to break them properly.”

Non-stop Learning is Awareness

I always talk about awareness. It’s the single basis of Zen, Buddhism, and Enlightenment. To always be able to learn is to always be aware. Awareness is the observer of life, above our thoughts and emotions. Awareness is a pure presense that’s always in us, but mostly forgotten and neglected when we get conditioned as if thoughts and emotions are what we are. When thoughts and emotions get in the way, we stop being aware and we stop learning.

I like what Charlie Crews in Life (NBC) once said:

I investigate things to complete my knowledge.
My complete knowledge makes my thoughts sincere.
My thoughts being sincere, my heart is pure.

For which the original text came from Confucius, if you care:

The men of old, when they wished their virtues to shine throughout the land, first had to govern their states well. To govern their states well, they first had to establish harmony in their families. To establish harmony in their families, they first had to discipline themselves. To discipline themselves, they first had to set their minds in order. To set their minds in order, they first had to make their purpose sincere. To make their purpose sincere, they first had to extend their knowledge to the utmost. Such knowledge is acquired through a careful investigation of things. For with things investigated knowledge becomes complete. With knowledge complete the purpose becomes sincere. With the purpose sincere the mind is set in order. With the mind set in order there is real self discipline. With real self discipline the family achieves harmony. With harmony in the family the state becomes well governed. With the state well governed there is peace throughout the land.

In the end, the gist of it is, if you truly want to learn, you will learn. There is a Buddhist Proverb, “When the student is ready, the master appears.” Everything I have said is aimed to trigger the “want” in you to learn. You have to do the real work of learning yourself.

Originally posted 2008-03-11 22:58:14. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Treating the Symptoms and Not the Root of Problems

These days you open the financial news section, there isn’t a whole lot of good news going on in the section.
You see news about people losing their homes to foreclosures, due to “unforeseen” results of lending.
You see news about financial and investment companies losing their pants due to the subprime heap of mess.
You see news about toys recalls and decrease of quality in other products, due to cost cutting.
You see news about people’s booty falling into piles of credit card debt.
You see news about boomers retiring with inadequate savings, due to…I really don’t know, probably a bunch of reasons (excuses).

In turn, people write and argue in the media about what methods to fix each of those problems, and in some cases, bailing out those people. I’d like to say people have gotten it all wrong. I say those problems are just symptoms of a rampant issue in society. By implementing method that solve each of those problems will only provide solutions in the short term. On the long haul, they will come back to bite us once again, and probably with a vengeance.

I say the main issue is greed and irresponsibility. People are so drugged up with greed that lead to a lot of the problems we see today. Profits, profits, profits. And with only profits in mind, people took actions in order to make profits while ignoring or denying the fact that they will be responsible for the consequence later, as is happening in the market these days. As for individual consumers, they have been irresponsible of their own financial matters and future, buy junks and luxury in the cost of future.

Hence, instead of solving those individual problems, I would urge people to put a tap on their greed and blatant ignorance to responsibility. If only people can learn to exercise self-control, maintain a clear mind, practice some discipline, understand responsibility… but those don’t sound very fun. Such boring mumbo-jumbo.

Making quick money is so much more fun!
Having all these things is so much more exciting!
Oh right, eating junk food is so much more fun too!

Perhaps I should shut up, as I appear to be the insensible one here. Or not?

Originally posted 2007-11-21 23:49:29. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Avoid Giving Up and Burning Out by Incremental Change

I had a conversation at dinner tonight where a friend of a friend mentioned her effort on a physical training program. Unfortunately, the attempt seemed to have come to an end after 12 days. Doesn’t this sound familiar? Haven’t we all heard this somewhere before? Maybe because it’s happening all around us. Perhaps you are one of them.

This is the exact same thing when we hear about someone’s new year resolution or someone’s birthday resolution or someone’s after-doctor-visit resolution. Somehow these certain events would provide people this sudden burst of energy and motivation. Then overnight, they transform into fanatics in exercising and gym. Amazing. But these effort usually ends in desertion and is completely forgotten after a few days, a few weeks, or at most a few months. All that effort wasted, sadly.

What went wrong? People burn out quickly whenever they abruptly change their entire routine and lifestyle in order to contribute to such total dedicaion. Let’s say your work suddenly requires you to work 100 hours per week when you usually work 40. I’m sure you will burn out quite quickly. Suddenly making yourself exercise couple hours everyday of the week when you don’t normally exercise is no difference. Despite feeling good for yourself at the beginning, such abrupt change puts so much stress, both physical and mental, on you that will easily lead to giving up.

How to avoid? First, you must understand that your goal is to achieve long-term, sustaining change. You may as well not waste your time if you don’t see it this way. You will need to implement incremental change over time, by doing it one step after another. You cannot learn to sprint without learning the proper way to breath and run first. You cannot lift 100 lbs before you can lift 25, 50, 75… lbs first. So, if you never run on daily basis, maybe start running 15 minutes at a comfortable pace. Then 30 minutes, 45 minutes, with gradual increase in speed. Find a suitable pace for yourself.

However, in order to improve, it is essential that you must push yourself a little over the limit each time. Run just a little longer and faster, lift just a little heavier, despite the diffuculty, despite the pain. Move outside your comfort zone. Get uncomfortable. In the end, it’s all worth it because you want to change, to improve, which is why you are doing it in the first place.

So far I have mostly focus on the health aspect of incremental change. However, the same princple can be applied in personal development and personal finance. If you spend $2000 in order to eat delicious food each month and then you force yourself to start eating fast food or only salads for $200 a month, the likelihood of you keeping up is extremely low. Worse yet, you may rebound and start spending more than $2000 later to make up for it. Instead, you can slowly lessen the frequency of eating out, at expensive restaurants, to give yourself time to get used to the change. Eventually, you will end up spending $200 a month. Or you can start saving $50 each month, then $100 after awhile, then $200…

It is important to understand that the incremental change principle suggested here is a healthy way to create sustaining change, applicable in all areas of life. It is not the only way, but it is a healthy way. It is about making a conscious choice for every action and doing it one step at a time.

Based on the incremental change principle, I suggested to the friend, “How about slow it down and start training 2 to 3 times a week?” for which I received a blank stare on her face. I sure hope this post is a bit more well received.

Originally posted 2007-11-16 23:27:26. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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