What is Patience?

Patience is surrender,
to this moment,
and the next,
and to the one that follows.

Patience is the antithesis
for measuring time.
It is learned from a tree;
it is a soul gaining wisdom,
through endless life-cycles.

Patient is a Divine Spark within,
one that, on occasion, gets a little dim,
but never quite extinguished.

Patience is something
I am in high demand, yet short supply of.
It is an all but a forgotten virtue,
our entire society seem to lack.

Yet patience depends on no one and no thing,
as it is also… hope.

Cary, NC, October 15, 2017
(c) 2017 Ronen Divon. All Rights Reserved.

Snail1

Image copyrights reserved to whoever took this photo!

Advertisements
Posted in Life, Meditation, Spirit | Tagged , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

What 5 min meditation taught me

On some mornings I just can’t seem to find time to meditate. And for me, if I don’t meditate early in the morning, I will likely not meditate at all.

What does it mean that I cannot find time to sit on a pillow, close my eyes and ponder?
I’ve been around long enough to realize that not finding time, stands for having other priorities. It simply means that meditation is no high enough on my priority-list, compared with other items such as, well, heading to the office to take care of business…

I know I should meditate. It does me good. Thus, I cut a deal with myself; if I cannot find twenty to thirty minutes for that pillow, I sit for at least five minutes.
“Ha!” you may say, “what can five minutes do for you?”
Curiously, that was my response as well, so I am glad you’ve asked.

Here is what I answered myself, or, in other words, what five-minute meditation taught me:
1. It is truly not about ‘size’ i.e. length. Yes, more time may be helpful, but the mere fact I made time, never mind how much, to meditate, means I care enough about my well-being and that is a good start.
2. It is not about nothingness. True that within the space of five minutes, it is challenging most days (although not always,) to reach ‘nothingness’. But, and I can testify to this from personal experience, nothingness is not really the ‘goal’ of meditation. If there is an aim for this practice, the practitioner is missing the point. Meditation is a practice, nothing less, nothing more.
3. When I cannot have everything (enough time) to obtain nothing (which is anyhow not the goal,) sometime something (5 min) is enough.

The above may beg another question: if one can obtain in five minutes what others require in thirty minutes, why would one even want to spend more than five minutes meditating?
Using love-making as a metaphor, I can say this: climaxing is lovely, but as I age, I realize how much it is also about what comes before and after. When I meditate, it is not about achieving anything during those moments on the pillow. Many people who attempt meditation, suffer from a misconception related to the notion of obtaining nothingness. Funny how that is an oxymoron all by itself: gaining nothingness… But wordplay aside, meditating, whether with a quiet mind or one that keeps wondering, changes something inside; call it brainwaves, alpha, theta or anything else meditation scientists wish to name it. And that something that shifts inside, stays with me throughout the day. If I can allow time to prolong the process a little longer during my mornings, all the better. I much enjoy it. But if I cannot, five minutes will do just fine.

Learned from: reflections on my five-minute meditation

2016-11-10 09.04.22

Posted in Life, Meditation, Mind-Body, Spirit | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What cats do

When my cat spots a bug on the wall, she can sit for eternity and a day, staring at it intently, waiting for the insect to make a move so she can play the hunter. She is so focused, it seems nothing can distract her (except for, maybe, the food bowl.)

Yet, at any given time, and for no apparent reason, she may also lose interest . When that happens, she may lick her paw and go take a nap; that bug on the wall all but forgotten. When cats let go, they truly let go…

Some days I wish I had more of that capacity — to be able to pay absolute and undivided attention; not to mention that wonderful ability to instantly and completely letting go.

Learned from: observing Tess tracking some bug or other on the wall

Tess2

Posted in Life, Mind-Body, Spirit | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Let the Shaman Back In

While visiting a Tibetan-Himalayan store at my hometown, I had a chat with one of the shop’s owners. I mentioned to her my interest in Shamanism, and inquired as to the role such Medicine Men play in the society she came from. She told me she grew up in a refugee camp in Nepal. The nearest hospital was hours away, and so the Shamans in the camp took care of illnesses, as well as matters of the spirit. She said that she can testify first-hand to Shamans helping a person heal from kidney stones, and how a Shaman, after several days of intensive work, cured a man that was bitten by a rabid dog.

Remember the days scientists, alchemists and astronomers were persecuted; chased off to hide in cellars for the fear of their lives? Aside of reading about it, we no longer know much of those dark times. We were born to an age that celebrates science and technology. We are people that want to build artificial intelligence, aspires to populate the stars.

Yet, there were those medieval years, when religious institutions, thirsty for power, would have none of that. Curiously, it all seems to go in cycles. Those same institutions, before transforming into the behemoths they came to be, were cults persecuted by the religion that was the flavor of the day; be it Judaism, Christianity or Islam. It seems that whomever comes to power, does to its inferiors what they did not wish upon themselves. But I am digressing.

Let’s go back, reverse the wheel of time, and leap into the past; way, way back.

Our forefathers, some of which still believed the Earth to be flat, (whose descendants, or at least some of them, apparently, still believe today in the Flat Earth theory…) knew nothing of  Einstein’s theory of relativity, let alone iPhone 7. During those long-forgotten days, Shamans and Medicine Men had a role in their society; be in a tribe or a village. They were held in high-respect as the communicators of divine and mysterious wisdom. Such men were consultants to anyone — from the simple villager who had a feud with his neighbor, to the chief of the tribe, deciding whether to wage a war with a another nation. These occultists, if to expand their defined range by a bit, were considered holy rather than lunatic; their insights drawn from celestial mysticism. Some were frauds; no less frauds than the bulk of today’s politicians, but many were not. They had a talent, a gift of connecting with another plane and receiving answers to difficult questions. What happened with these people?

Organized religion and modern science drove them away as they were considered a threat for both. We discarded them as yesterday’s news; a fad we no longer had a use for. Surely my Rabbi, Priest or Doctor has the correct answers; and if not them, there’s always Google. In our rush to make progress and shed off old superstitions, we did ourselves injustice and, to rephrase a corny idiom, threw the shaman with the bathwater. With that, we lost an important means of communication with a different plane of existence, the astral, the celestial; a realm that faithfully guided us, humans, during our earlier years as a specie. We felt like we grew out of that infantile phase of believing in tales. Yet, as Joseph Campbell would have surely told us, the myths are who we are. Our wisdom does not come from building spaceships; that is knowledge. Our wisdom comes from another realm.

Shamanism still exists today, mostly in remote tribes and in cultures we consider backwards. While we struggle to find a higher-meaning to what we can do with all our amazing achievements, our technology, our knowledge – stored in terabytes out there in cyberspace, it may be time to open the door and let the Medicine Men back in. Ultimately, we are all Shamans, even if many of us didn’t yet realize it.

Learned from: a chat with a woman in a store, and reflections on technology and the loss of meaning.

Shaman of the Kaxinawá people

Shaman of the Kaxinawá people.
(c) Amir Leron Photography
For more information about Amir’s project, please visit www.amazoncalling.org

Posted in Life, Philosophy, Society, Spirit, Teaching | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

What is really Namaste?

A short story.

A long, long time ago, although maybe not that long, there was a need for humanity to learn new lessons concerning racism, bigotry, and tyranny. Volunteers were sought until a soul at the Astral plane, agreed to come back to this world, and play a major role in teaching those lessons.

That soul embodied a personality named Donald Trump. And thus, while the person of Mr. Trump is acting like an egomaniac, a severely disturbed madman, deep inside of him there is a soul, a sagely spark, that is weeping ceaselessly at the deeds and horrors that the embodied personality performs. Mr. Trump is unaware of it, but his soul is. This is not to justify what Mr. Trump is doing, but I can say Namaste even to him as I admire the divine spark within him, the one that is suffering terribly while playing a predefined role of a villain, so vital for humanity at this time. Without his actions, we would not come to see the work that we, the tribe of this Earth, still need to do. In all honesty, a soul must be very elevated and brave to agree to accept such a role. And therefore, when I say Namaste, I bow deeply to that divinity. It is so easy to Namaste people you admire and think highly of, but Namaste is much more than that. This is the real meaning of Namaste.

Learned from: reflections of what is going on in the USA these days.

Posted in Life, Society, Spirit | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The price of change

Watching the film Logan, my thoughts led me on an interesting route; one I thought of sharing in this post.

Logan-post1This latest installment in the Wolverine series, takes place in 2029; well over a decade from now. Keeping in mind that this X-Man tale unravels in a universe parallel to ours, what struck me as strange – well, one of the oddities, was that the future looked too much like our own current reality, that is, of 2017. The only notable difference was the self-driving trucks on the highway. Everything else, including the mobile phones used by the film’s characters, were very much like what we use today. Really? I was thinking, mobile phones change semi-annually, if not more frequently, and the filmmakers show us 2029 model that are similar to the ones used in 2017? Granted, it’s a parallel universe, and there is creative freedom, but still, is this simply lack of imagination, or there is something deeper going on?

i-robotIt is quite rare to find authors who can envision a future that is truly original. To dare contemplate a Black president back in the 1960s, or even just voice I have a dream, to write a future that includes robots back in the 1930s, such as Asimov did, to image paradigms that will be so dramatically different, is no easy fit. So many aspects of our lives are bound to change; so many factors involved in such a transformation, that a storyteller cannot be put at fault for holding on to some elements of our current reality. Even Star Wars, the film that didn’t invent Sci-Fi but definitely affected the genre like few others, was able to be just so original in conceiving its far, far away galaxy. If we take a closer look, the Star Wars universe is mostly made of variants on our own reality. In other words, one would hardly find in it totally new ideas of the sort that we do not know that we do not know.

There is no need to travel far in space and time to illustrate the above. Looking at our society today, it occurred to me that we consider ourselves progressive; well, at least a number of us do. Maybe the Amish and some members of the GOP still think progressive is a rude word, but for the most part, I find that even conservatives feel that, as a whole, humanity had made a significant progress in a fairly short amount of time. Yet, let’s look at something as basic as measurements; units we use to call out length, time, and the likes. We use 24 hours in a day, 60 minutes in an hour.

“Our 24-hour day comes from the ancient Egyptians who divided day-time into 10 hours they measured with devices such as shadow clocks, and added a twilight hour at the beginning and another one at the end of the day-time.”[1]. And 60 minute? Oh, that we own to the ancient Babylonians “…who had a predilection for using numbers to the base 60. For example, III II (using slightly different strokes) meant three times 60 plus two or 182.”[1].
swatchbeat1While I am sure this made perfect sense at the time, does it still make sense today? Wouldn’t a metric system be more rational?
“In 1998, the Swiss watch company Swatch introduced the concept of a decimal Internet Time in which the day is divided into 1000 ‘beats’ so that each beat is equal to 1 minute 26.4 seconds. The beats were denoted by the @ symbol, so that, for example, @250 denotes a time period equal to six hours.”[1].
So far there are no takers for this innovation. Progressive as we may be, we still use ancient and quite irrational, at least in my opinion and by today’s standards, time system.

When it comes to other units such as length, we didn’t measure up much better either…
“At first an inch was the width of a man’s thumb. In the 14th century, King Edward II of England ruled that 1 inch equaled 3 grains of barley placed end to end lengthwise.”[2].
“A yard was originally the length of a man’s belt or girdle, as it was called. In the 12th century, King Henry I of England fixed the yard as the distance from his nose to the thumb of his out-stretched arm. Today it is 36 inches.”[2]
The whole Imperial System of measurements seems to me more like a nightmare taken from the Brother Grimm fairy-tales. And while I understand how it came to be, decades have passed by without much innovation in that arena. That being said, some countries made the switch; yet others, including the USA, still linger with no clear end in sight.[3] Metric makes soooo much more sense. But… to be fair, there is also the cost of change that must be considered. Moving onto a more rational time system, a metric system, is so superbly complex that the long-term reward does not seem to justify the immediate high price.

200175946-001This line of thinking led me realize, that the same applied to us, as individuals, through our own lives.
We may stare at the tall pile of papers sitting on our desk, quietly cursing as we sift through it, searching for that single document, rather than make the onetime effort of sorting that mess once and for all, making our lives much easier thereafter. We may hold on to a broken relationship that we recognize doesn’t work, with the notion of ‘better the devil you know’, than dump it, and go through the full process of getting to know someone else anew. We weigh the price of change, compare it to the immediate benefits, and make a short-term decision: keep rather than change.

My insight out of this long and winding thought process that started, mind you, with the film Logan, is that cost and reward are not as simple to calculate as I first wanted to believe. This is because the price is typically immediate and thus hurts much more, while the reward is long-term and requires vision and patience. And we, humans, society at large, myself absolutely included, find patience in short supply. I have not yet found a way to more easily comprehend long-term reward that will motivate me to pay the short-term price. That is not to say that I do not change; change is something I practice daily. One large-scale example for me is the relocating of my family from NY to NC; a move that was done with a long-term vision in mind, and that, so far, proved beneficial and absolutely worth the material, mental and emotional price. But on a smaller scale, is it so much easier to duct-tape and patch, rather than take care of the root cause. This too is work-in-progress…

Learned from: a scene with a mobile phone in the film Logan

p.s. Read my review of the film Logan here.

[1] http://www.abc.net.au/science/articles/2011/11/15/3364432.htm
[2] http://www.factmonster.com/ipka/A0769529.html
[3] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Imperial_and_US_customary_measurement_systems

Posted in Life, Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Good for the ego

I recently attended a yoga class given at another city, by an instructor I never met before. While the class was pleasant, it quickly became apparent to me that I was, by far, more seasoned than that instructor. Not that there was anything wrong with the manner with which she instructed; on the contrary, her heart was no doubt in it, but there were small indications that gave it away.

I admit that I am almost as eager to encounter such opportunities — of taking classes with such instructors, as I am of partaking yoga with more experienced instructors, ones I am likely to learn some new insight from. Why? Because it’s a chance for me to work on my ego; that inner small, or not always that small, voice, that rushes to judge others, while, at thee same time, compliment the self. I realized some time ago that I cannot shut that voice off simply by the power of my will; after all, who knows me better than my ego? But I can observe. It is thus, a form of meditation. I practice this with an inner smile; watching the ego at work. It is actually quite entertaining; like watching a young child (or, for that matter, a politician,) boasting and bragging. I found that as I practice this sort of observation time and again, the voice becomes a little less loud, and lasts not as longer with each go. And as time goes by, with the inner silence that is eventually created, I am able to learn something new from each and every yoga instructor, from each and every person I meet, in class and out. May my learning journey never end.

Learned from: observing the disappearing small voice of my ego

namaste1

Posted in Life, Meditation, Yoga and Tai Chi | Leave a comment