2018-12-14

Subtle Distractions in Life

"It's very easy when you've had success to buy into the ego world of safety and the status quo of doing what everyone around you is doing, calling that "normal," and to drop into a habitual life of doing and staying busy, raising a family, buying a house and decorating it, and changing cars. But once you've chosen a spirit-driven path at any time in your life, you may go to sleep for a while; even the modern-day mystics do, but there's no going back. Spirit will speak - no matter what!" - Kristine Carlson ("From Heartbreak to Wholeness")

Now I understand more clearly why I feel uncomfortable every time I hear a friend or a former colleague of mine wish me "success" in reply to my confession that I'm leaving academia. This is because what they seem to mean by "success" (in the materialistic world) is nothing but one of what I consider subtle distractions in life. I've even asked some of them and verified that the most suble distractions, or what they call "successes", are professional achievements, which in turn lead to power, status, fame, approval, recognitions, etc.

All these "successes" can only flatter our egos. I've heard quite a few spiritual sages I admire repeat that not only don't they make us truly happy but they also distract us subtly from looking inward, so to speak. Worse still, many people equate these subtle distractions in life as their life purpose while they aren't even means to the true purpose.

So it's so sad to see so many cognitively intelligent people brag about their illusions to get instant gratifications, which are illusions of the second order, in the social media, etc. It's even sadder to see that they don't even seem to be aware of all this.

I've learned the hard way that the so-called "failures" in the materialistic sense of the world can often lead to true successes in the spiritual sense of the world, helping us grow spiritually and raise the level of our consciousness. Unfortunately, few of those who live in their egoic illusions don't seem to understand what I mean, and some of them have even accused me of trying to preach what they - or to be more precise, their egos - consider utter nonsense (they confuse post-rationality with pre-rationality).

2018-12-07

Three Different Reactions to an Announcement about Leaving Academia

Since I finally decided to leave academia in September 2020 and finished making the necessary bureaucratic arrangement several months ago, I've received the following three different reactions to an announcement I've made about this rather fateful decison of mine to my friends as well as those (former) colleagues of mine I remained in touch with not only purely professionally:

  1. Encouragement and support
  2. "Threatening"
  3. Silence or formulaic wish of success

Since I wasn't sure how many of my friends would understand my decision, I can't thank enough those friends of mine who have been encouraging and supporting me morally. As for my former colleagues, I didn't expect them to understand me and thought many of them would simply walk away from me silently or just by wishing me success rather formulaically, which is what has actually happened. I don't feel sorry for this, nor do I blame them. I even find this reaction very easy to cope with - thus they've done me a great favor in a sense - as I know now very clearly that we don't have a common language any longer. Those few former colleagues of mine who haven't walked away from me this way are real treasures for me.

What still keeps perplexing me is the "threatening" by some of those I considered my friends. I thought they understood my situation as my motives for this decision of mine, so I naively expected them to encourage and support me, even passively. But what I've heard from them are such insensitive words like "Are you 100% sure of your success in your new career?" or even "You have no chance of success in your new career".

How can I be 100% sure? Do they take no action until they are 100% sure of its outcome? If so, I don't want to follow them as my possible role models. Actually, the biggest risk in life is to take no risk. I can now say that we can maximize our soul lessons, so to speak, by facing fear and taking action anyway.

This doesn't mean that I've completely got over my fear of uncertainty etc. So I find it very difficult to understand those (few) "friends" of mine who have decided to "threaten" me by saying that I have no chance of success. I'm not talking about constructive advice to recheck and recalculate the possible risk of this fateful change, which I've already done. I've been wondering what they can gain by "threatening" me this way. The only possible explanation I've been able to think of so far is that this way they are trying to "neutralize" the threat they feel, at least intuitively, by my action they themselves have never dared to take. Anyway I've decided to stay away from these toxic "frenemies".

2018-11-23

Interim Results of Self-Work in Spirituality

It's about one year since I started my systematic self-work in spirituality with an unexpected adversity in life as my inspiring teacher. In addition to the lessons of life I've learned through the process of coping with and getting over this adversity I've especially been benefited from the teachings of two spiritual teachers - Eckhart Tolle (through his two books The Power of Now and A New Earth as well as his new School of Awakening) and Leo Gura (through his website and numerous free online videos as well as his Ultimate Life Purpose Course).

As I've progressed in my self-work, I've come to feel the world quite differently. Many of those things and people who once interested me have stopped to do so. They include, among others, academic research (for its own sake), Yiddishism and Esperantism as ideologies-cum-movements, politics and political discussions, to name just a few. These things now seem to me to be vanities devoid of any spiritual meaning, thus a waste of time though I don't deny other people's right to pursue them if they can find enough meaning in doing so.

Also in Facebook many posts by many of the people I'm connected with there simply don't interest me any more. And I'm afraid they on their part find little or no interest in many or all of my posts there. I feel we are living in two totally different worlds. I've just found a convincing explanation for why I've come to feel this way in one of the recent videos by Leo Gura. To make a long story short, our consciousness simply works differently, which in turn affects how we think, feel, and speak (differently).


2018-11-16

Leaving Academia

At long last I could decide this week to share with my coworkers the news about my fateful professional decision I had officially made several months before - leaving academia after my two-year sabbatical finishes at the end of September 2020. I had been feeling serenity since deciding to leave academia, but it was only after making this announcement that I started to experience enormous relief. If you are one of the few people who have been following this blog in the past several months and wondering what professional transformation I was talking about here cryptically, you have my official answer now.

Though I started turning over the idea of leaving academia even a few years ago for something that had started to interest me as my second career, it remained mostly theoretical as I was scared to leave my comfort zone. I had to experience divorce several months ago to conquer my fear of uncertainty and failure and take action. This suffering, for which I myself am mostly to blame, turned out to be an excellent teacher and a spiritual catalysis. I found myself starting to contemplate about life in general and my life in particular and could finally take courage to make this fateful decision, telling myself that the biggest risk in life is to take no risk. I still think that if I didn't take this risk now, I would regret that on my last day in this incarnation of mine.

I spend my daytime trying to make my academic legacy - one specialized dictionary of Modern Hebrew for foreign learners, which I'll make available online for free once it has been completed, hopefully by next June - and two weekday evenings taking courses here in Jerusalem for my new career, which is supposed to combine Judaism (especially Hasidism), spirituality, and contribution to the society by helping others help themselves.

2018-11-09

"When the Student Is Ready, the Teacher Will Apppear"

They say that when the student is ready, the teacher will appear. Such teachers can be not only human beings but also life experiences, and suffering often seems to be the best teacher though it depends on each of us and our respective level of consciousness whether we can learn from this teacher. It also happens that suffering itself makes us ready as students so that we may be able to learn and benefit from it maximally.

Such "divine storm" I started to experience about one year ago has totally transformed me internally, inspiring me to make two external transformations affecting me internally in turn.

One of such secondary internal transformations is my newly kindled interest in my spiritual growth through formal education. The new teachers who have appeared for me are Torat Hanefesh School of Jewish Psychology and Eckhart Tolle School of Awakening, where I enrollled last month. In the former I started learning Jewish psychology based on the esoteric teachings of hasidism, or to be more precise, those of Chabad, especially of the Book of Tanya, this week in its Jerusalem campus, focusing on the anatomy of the soul and the rectification of the ego. In the latter I'll start learning, partly directly from Eckhart Tolle himself, from January.

I've also been receiving spiritual life coaching online in parallel to discover (or reconfirm in my specific case) my ultimate life purpose and align my professional life with it. This has been very benefitial, especially thanks to a number of difficult, thought-provoking questions by the coach. As the coaching progresses, the more convinced I feel of the fateful decidion I've made to transform my professional life in a most fundamental manner that seems to scare many of my colleagues. The strongest feeling I've been experiencing after jumping into water by conquering this fear is serenity. Actually what scares me most is not the fear of failure but the biggest risk I might pose to myself by not taking any risk.

2018-10-26

(More) Mindful Living without Alcohol

"If there are other people around, preferably your partner or a close family member, the pain-body will attempt to provoke them - push their buttons, as the expression goes - so it can feed on the ensuing drama. Pain-bodies love intimate relationships and families because that is where they get most of their food. It is hard to resist another person's pain-body that is determined to draw you into a reaction. Instinctively it knows your weakest, most vulnerable points. If it doesn't succeed the first time, it will try again and again. It is raw emotion looking for more emotion. The other person's pain-body wants to awaken yours so that both pain-bodies can mutually energize each other.

Excessive consumption of alcohol will often activate the pain-body, particularly in men, but also in some women. When a person becomes drunk, he goes through a complete personality change as the pain-body takes him over.

In intimate relationships, pain-bodies are often clever enough to lie low until you start living together and preferably have signed a contract committing yourself to be with this person for the rest of your life. You don't just marry your wife or husband, you also marry her or his pain-body - and your spouse marries yours. It can be quite a shock when, perhaps not long after moving in together or after the honeymoon, you find suddenly one day there is a complete personality change in your partner." - Eckhart Tolle ("A New Earth")

I'll celebrate the first anniversary of my sober life soon. I stopped drinking completely almost a year ago after drinking more and more, maily to cope with frustration and stress in my workplace, requiring more and more quantity to numb my mind, and getting more and more addicted to it. I had to pay a heavy personal price to put an end to this downward spiral and awaken at long last. All the attempts I had made before this suffering both by myself and with external help failed miserably.

After liberating myself from the fetter of alcohol, I've come to realize more and more clearly that my previous attempts to numb my compulsive negative thinking made me go below my consciousness, causing often irreversible damage to both myself and people around me with the resulting unconscious speech and action of mine.

Nobody, including not only myself but also someone who used to be a very dear and close person to me, understood that my ego as well as what Eckhart Tolle calls "pain-body" of mine is to blame. But everyone, again including myself and this person, who has in the meanwhile decided to abandon me, erroneously equated my pain-body with my true self, showing no compassion. I'm not trying to blame them. On the contrary, I have to thank them for what they have done, for thanks to them I could finally wake up.

Having become sober all the time, I've also come to understand that sober living means (more) mindful living. And it was only after I stopped drinking completely that I started to understand and implement my daily mindfulness meditation I had started before this transformation of mine. Now I'm far more conscious of my own thoughts, emotions, and behaviors and react on autopilot far less frequently to other people's speech and action stemming from their egos and pain-bodies.

I've been looking for ways to share this experience of mine, including my "horror stories" and the heavy prices I have paid for them both privately and professionally so that those who are still struggling with their drinking problems may be able to wake up as soon as possible without paying such heavy prices.

2018-10-19

Getting "Remarried" with Facebook

I got "married" with Facebook for the first time in August 2016. After a short-lived "married" life with it I had to get "divorced" from it to prevent something precious from deterriorating. In retrospect I can realize now how mindlessly I used Facebook, controlled and subjugated by my ego, and writing and reacting on the autopilot mode, as it were. I was less aware that I was even less mindless back then when I was offline, especially when I was under the influence of alcohol, which happened more and more frequently. All these accumulated mindless behaviors of mine were powerful enough even without Facebook to destroy that precious thing I tried to save by quitting Facebook slowly but steadily.

When I had to decide to get "remarried" with Facebook this July for some professional reason, I told myself to try my best to use it as mindfully as possible. Since Facebook doesn't allow us to use only business pages, I decided to start using it again for personal purposes, though rather hesitantly and cautiously, restricting the so-called "friends" to those I know personally offline.

Except for the originally planned professional use, whose effectiveness I'm not so sure of yet, the two main private uses of Facebook I benefit from most are 1) following posts by some spiritual teachers such as Eckhart Tolle as well as some rabbis and Jewish organizations, and 2) participating in two "groups", or online communities, one of which is by Eckhart Tolle himself, to socialize with like-minded people from all over the world, though I participate passively so far.

As Eckhart Tolle points out correctly in What Do You Think about Facebook, Facebook is also an excellent place for observing various online manifestations of the egos of its users, including, of course, mine. The most frequent and "popular" type of posts seem to be those meant for mutually receiving instant gratifications from "friends". This seems nothing but - sorry for the expression - online m*st*rb*t**n. Instead of reacting to them no less mindlessly, I simply observe them and mindless reactions they generate as precious opportunities to practice mindfulness.

This time I also stay away from initiating or being dragged into political or religious arguments, in which nobody can convince nobody else with a different opinion. This is even more vane than posts for instant gratifications. In this "remarriage" of mine with Facebook I seem to be far more successful so far than in my first "marriage" in tackling this double task of using Facebook both mindfully and as a field for practicing mindfulness.

PS: The above is a hopefully conscious self-observation. ;-)

2018-10-12

Rational Inquiries vs. Direct Experiences

"People's conceptions about themselves and the nature of things are developed and verified through four different processes: direct experience of the effects produced by their actions, vicarious experience of the effects produced by somebody else's actions, judgments voiced by others, and derivation of further knowledge from what they already know by using rules of inference." - Albert Bandura

Through both rational inquiries and direct experiences themselves I'm becoming more and more aware that the latter can be the only way to reach certain types of truth, and the former can be powerless and useless. But I've also been having a very hard time trying to share this seeming meta-truth with those who have a blind faith in rational inquiries as the only legitimate way of reaching or at least approaching truth.

In a certain community of rationally minded people where I myself used to socialize, sharing the same area of rational inquiries, I really wanted to share my new direct experiences in this area as I've experienced the fact that they have few or no direct experience there. But I seem to have underestimated the strengh of their blind faith in rational inquries as they have refused to accept my proposal to do so in spite of the fact that they have absolutely no access to these direct experiences I really wanted them to experience vicariously as the second best option.

I've decided not to continue wasting my time trying to convince them to change their mind though it's so frustrating to see them continue investigating swimming without actually swimming by themselves or even seeing anyone else swim, as it were.

This very direct experience of those who refuse to experience someone else's direct experience of what they have been investigating has made me realize anew why I've decided to leave their world. Having experienced the joy and beauty of actually "swimming", I'd prefer continue "swimming" and improving my skill, relying only secondarily and sparingly on rational inquiries.


2018-10-05

Possible Hidden Purpose of Suffering

Many of my friends and acquaintanced whom I told about my experiencing what I myself thought suffering (in my private and professional lives) expressed their sorrow, and some of them even told me that they fully understood how I was feeling. They imagined mistakenly that I might be depressed. It's true that I was depressed in the beginning, but I've come to view these sufferings of mine even as gifts of divine grace as they have initiated one important process I had never experienced before in my life.

To the best of my knowledge, this process isn't what we can initiate at our free will but must be initiated as a gift of divine grace whose typical and most powerful form is suffering.

The mental and emotional suffering I've experienced has cracked open the shells of my ego and enabled me to take short glimpses of what life must look like with the tamed ego, that is, without being controlled by compulsive thinking and feeling that create havoc on the resulting behaviors.

As I've been warned, once this process has been initiated, though not at my own free will, it's irreversible. I've decided to accelerate the process even by paying money for external help. I also have to bear in mind the warning very carefully not to conceptualize it.

Now I can understand more clearly how I could take courage to leave at my own free will what many other people seem to be dying for at any cost as I've sensed that what I've decided to leave will only hinder the above mentioned process.

2018-09-21

From Personal Transformations to the Transformation of Non-Virtual Social Networks

I could perfectly foresee, so wasn't surprised that as a result of my recent personal transformations in my married and professional lives many of the people whose "love" for me depended on some benefit they could derive from me had disappeared from my life as if they had never existed for me. I'm not sorry for this as I for one don't find any common language with them after I've left their world, which now seems totally foreign to me.

But I'm surprised and perplexed that I had to sever my relationship with some of my oldest friends, both Jewish and non-Jewish, after they started criticizing the bold steps I had decided to take privately and professionally, and tried to force their philosophy of life and opinions upon me, showing little or no understanding and tolerance for mine.

I'm more and more inclided to think that this is no conincidence, especially considering the fact that they have some common characteristics such as their blind faith in their rational mind and their non-rational blind meta-belief that they have no blind faith.

My impression is that my newly awakened self triggered by my personal transformations threatens them, or to be more precise, their egoic - not to be confused with egoistic - self in a way I can't explain and they themselves seem to be unaware of ratinally in spite of their "omniscient" rational mind.

But what these personal transformations of mine have caused me are not only losses of people I had been in touch with but also new friends and acquaintances who have more or less the same "frequency" I have now instead of the old, different one. I've also started to make a conscious effort to invest in what I consider one of the most important social networks - non-virtual social network of other members of the same community where I live as well as neighbors.

2018-09-14

Understanding the Pain-Body and Breaking Free of It

If spiritual awakening is defined as raising the level of consciousness (= soul), which transcends our mind and even its death, it has two "enemies". The first, which I've been aware of and started to tame in various ways, is our ego. The second, which I've just become aware of through A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle, is our "pain-body", which he defines in this most insightful and inspiring book of his as "accumulation of old emotional pain" which "almost everyone carries in his or her energy field". He also defines the relationship between our pain-body and ego as "close relatives" that "need each other".

He characterizes these two "enemies" of ours as follows, among others:

The greater part of most people's thinking is involuntary, automatic, and repetitive. It is no more than a kind of mental static and fulfills no real purpose. Strictly speaking, you don't think: Thinking happens to you. The statement "I think" implies volition. It implies that you have a say in the matter, that there is choice involved on your part. For most people, this is not yet the case. "I think" is just as false a statement as "I digest" or "I circulate my blood." Digestion happens, circulation happens, thinking happens.

For thousands of years, humanity has been increasingly mind-possessed, failing to recognize the possessing entity as "not self." Through complete identification with the mind, a false sense of self - the ego - came into existence. The density of the ego depends on the degree to which you - the consciousness - are identified with your mind, with thinking. Thinking is no more than a tiny aspect of the totality of consciousness, the totality of who you are.

In addition to the movement of thought, although not entirely separate from it, there is another dimension to the ego: emotion. This is not to say that all thinking and all emotion are of the ego. They turn into ego only when you identify with them and they take you over completely, that is to say, when they become "I."

The ego is not only the unobserved mind, the voice in the head which pretends to be you, but also the unobserved emotions that are the body's reaction to what the voice in the head is saying.

Because of the human tendency to perpetuate old emotion, almost everyone carries in his or her energy field an accumulation of old emotional pain, which I call "the pain-body."

The pain-body is a semiautonomous energy-form that lives within most human beings, an entity made up of emotion. It has its own primitive intelligence, not unlike a cunning animal, and its intelligence is directed primarily at survival. Like all life-forms, it periodically needs to feed - to take in new energy - and the food it requires to replenish itself consists of energy that is compatible with its own, which is to say, energy that vibrates at a similar frequency. Any emotionally painful experience can be used as food by the pain-body.

The pain-body awakens from its dormancy when it gets hungry, when it is time to replenish itself. Alternatively, it may get triggered by an event at any time. The pain-body that is ready to feed can use the most insignificant event as a trigger, something somebody says or does, or even a thought. If you live alone or there is nobody around at the time, the pain-body will feed on your thoughts.

When I encountered the following two paragraphs, I was both shocked and embarrased as they diagnozed so accurately - far better than my psychological counselors - the two most serious problems I ran into, or to be more precise, my "pain-body" caused me, which eventually lead to the premature demise of something that was very precious in my life until then:

Excessive consumption of alcohol will often activate the pain-body, particularly in men, but also in some women. When a person becomes drunk, he goes through a complete personality change as the pain-body takes him over.

In intimate relationships, pain-bodies are often clever enough to lie low until you start living together and preferably have signed a contract committing yourself to be with this person for the rest of your life. You don't just marry your wife or husband, you also marry her or his pain-body - and your spouse marries yours. It can be quite a shock when, perhaps not long after moving in together or after the honeymoon, you find suddenly one day there is a complete personality change in your partner.

This penetrating insight into our human nature (and its dysfunction) has made me curious to find what he has to offer as a solution for breaking free of our pain-body. He only makes the following suggestion in general terms:

The beginning of freedom from the pain-body lies first of all in the realization that you have a pain-body. Then, more important, in your ability to stay present enough, alert enough, to notice the pain-body in yourself as a heavy influx of negative emotion when it becomes active. When it is recognized, it can no longer pretend to be you and live and renew itself through you.

It is your conscious Presence that breaks the identification with the pain-body. When you don't identify with it, the pain-body can no longer control your thinking and so cannot renew itself any more by feeding on your thoughts. The pain-body in most cases does not dissolve immediately, but once you have severed the link between it and your thinking, the pain-body begins to lose energy. Your thinking ceases to be clouded by emotion; your present perceptions are no longer distorted by the past. The energy that was trapped in the pain-body then changes its vibrational frequency and is transmuted into Presence. In this way, the pain-body becomes fuel for consciousness. This is why many of the wisest, most enlightened men and women on our planet once had a heavy pain-body.

People with strong pain-bodies often reach a point where they feel their life is becoming unbearable, where they can't take any more pain, any more drama. [...] Their acute emotional pain forces them to disidentify from the content of their minds and the mental-emotional structures that give birth to and perpetuate the unhappy me. They then know that neither their unhappy story nor the emotion they feel is who they are. They realize they are the knowing, not the known. Rather than pulling them into unconsciousness, the pain-body becomes their awakener, the decisive factor that forces them into a state of Presence.

With this theoretical solution he proposes we readers are left pending in the air, as it were, with no clear idea about what we have to do to implement it in practical terms. In the meanwhile I've found out that he will open his School of Awakening soon for the first time. This seems to be a living example of the famous saying "When the student is ready, the teacher will appear". This opportunity seems too perfect to miss though I still have to find a solution to the problem of paying the tuition fee for this course (in addition to two other courses in Jewish life coaching and Jewish psychology I've started taking and will start taking respectively).

PS: Quite a few self-proclaimed "rationally thinking" people seem to get confused so easily between pre-rationality and post-rationality. Spiritual awakening in this sense is not pre-rational as they erroneously think but post-rational beyond their rational mind, which they believe blindly is omniscient.

2018-09-07

Life as a Matrix

Having read and contemplated about life in general and my life in particlar and having had direct experiences quite intensively in the past several months, I've come to realize that the majority of us, including myself, are actually trapped in a deep complex matrix controlled by our mind dominated by our personal ego, which in turn was programmed by the collective ego of our society. I also have to agree with the characterization of modern mainstream society as an amusement part for the ego to distract us from looking inward.

After this realization I've also come to what distractions trap the majority of people (and used to trap me until quite recently). Small-scale distractions such as playing computer games and checking results of sport games must be obvioues to enough people as wastes of time. But more subtle and cunning are large-scale distractions, including not only all kinds of ideologies, whether political, cultural, linguistics, etc. (such as leftism, rightism, academism, Hebraism, Yiddishism, Esperantism, etc.) but even family and career. Many people wouldn't consider these large-scale distractions as such and might even equate them with their life purposes, which shows the depth and complexity of the matrix.

I'm neither able nor ready to force my perspective on anyone else, but on the other hand, I'm neither able nor ready to have anyone else force theirs on me. When a few old friends of mine did this to me rather recently, I had to walk away from them. It makes me so sad to see someone who was especially close to me trapped deeply in such a large-scale distraction and seeminly unaware of this.

Unfortunately, I can't say how life outside this matrix looks like, but fortunately, I've had very short-lived sporadic glimpses of it in the past several months. After such an experience there is no way back. I'll continue this hardly trodden path to escape the matrix, if not completely, even by paying the price of being and feeling isolated in the mainstream society.

Quite expectedly, few of those with whom I'm in touch, perhaps except for my spiritual mentor, whith whom I study once a week, seem to understand me and this transformation of mine. I for one can't help feeling more and more keenly how strange what occupy them in life are though, again, I'm not trying to force my new perspective on any of them.

2018-08-31

(Blind) Faiths and (Blind) Meta-Faiths

"It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled." - (Attributed seemingly by mistake to) Mark Twain

I may sound arrogant, but the more aware I've become that our mind distorts reality, the more clearly I've been experiencing and witnessing, even with my still distorting mind, in both myself and others that many of us, including myself and many others, that we have more (blind) faiths and even (blind) meta-faiths than we think. This is something totally new I've never noticed before.

Since I started rather recently to dare to express my new direct experiences with this new meta-awareness, I've started to experience strong objections by more and more friends and acquaintances of mine in various emotional forms such as accusing, yelling, and even calling names not only in private but even in public.

I have an impression that these experiences of mine, which these people called "blind faiths", seem to threaten them and their blind faiths they themselves seem to be unaware of, that is, they have no less blind faiths and, worse still, a blind meta-faith in that they believe they have no blind faiths as accepting these experiences forces them to examine their blind faiths non-blindly for the first time. I've noticed this blind meta-faith, which is far more dangerous than blind faiths per se, among not only religious but also secular people with those who have a blind faith in their rational mind as the most problematic ones. It's so funny to observe that the fear of these "rational" people seems so irrational. They also seem to confuse pre-rationality with post-rationality, calling the latter a "blind faith".

I've also realized that all of us were born with no faith at all and we've adopted the first faiths we encountered and were imprinted in life on the basis of "first come, first served". We judge new faiths we encounter with these first faiths. And many of us seem to have a hard time leaving the blind faiths we already have as our egos like homeostasis. Again it's so funny to see many "rational" people who accuse the religious of their "blind faiths" are no less emotionally fervent blind followers of their own dogmas.

The most serious problems I've identified in those who have such a blind meta-faith are their lack of huminity to examine and experience other possibilities and their violence to force their dogmas on those who have other faiths. Having seen that these problems prevent them from growing, I've decided to start reexamining all of what seem to be my blind faiths by trying to directly experience whatever I can. This seems to be one of the most arduous tasks I've taken upon myself in my entire life so far.

2018-08-24

Distortion of Reality by Our Mind

"Now, I say that this system [of thought] has a fault in it - a "systematic fault". It is not a fault here or there but it is a fault that is all throughout the system. Can you picture that? It is everywhere and nowhere. You may say "I see a problem here, so I will bring my thoughts to bear on this problem." But "my" thought is part of the system. It has the same fault as the fault I'm trying to look at, or a similar fault. We have this systemic fault; and you can see that this is what has been going on in all these problems of the world - such as the problems that the fragmentation of nations has produced. We say: "Here is a fault. Something has gone wrong." But in dealing with it, we use the same kind of fragmentary thought that produced the problem, just a somewhat different version of it; therefore it's not going to help, and it may make things worse." - David Bohm

I feel I'm finally starting to reap the first, modest, fruit of the practice of mindfulness (meditation) I started about two years ago. For those who are unfamiliar with mindfulness, it's non-judgemental moment-to-moment awareness or meta-cognition of our thoughts, emotions and actions triggered by external and/or internal factors. I realize for the first time in my life that my mind has been distorting reality! This is like realizing for the first time that I've been wearing glasses with lenses not adjusted to my eyes. Unfortunately, this doesn't mean that I've already had my mental lenses adjusted, which will require more self-work.

Like our physical eyes our mind were perfectly suited when we were born. What makes our mental lenses maladjusted is what David Bohm calls "ego smog". As we grow, our personal ego accumulates "smog" forced upon us by the collective ego of the society we live in, which in turn blurs mental lenses, then our mind itself, which in turn distorts reality. This "smog" of fear-based ego is extremely good at categorizing people, including both its "master" and others, and things, filtering in what is relevant to it and/or convenient for its survival and filtering out what is irrelevant and/or inconvenient. Many identities we have acquired, including our identity with our physical body, are nothing but illusions.

Having realized this, I can identity many pitfalls I used to fall into, especially in my interpersonal relationships with others. If I had realized this earlier, I might have been able to avoid one "divine storm". But on the other hand, I can also say that I might not have realized this without this "divine storm". In any case what matters more to me is that I'm now fully aware that my mind distorts reality.

In this new perspective the world looks totally different to me as if I had my glasses adjusted. I can easily understand many behaviors, whether verbal or non-verbal, of other people as results of their "ego smog" and can even be compassionate for them.

It didn't take me long to also notice that the more intelligent and rational people think of themselves, the greater the danger of having their mind distort reality, simply because they have blind faith in their intelligence and rationality and are totally unaware of the fundamental "system bug" of their mind. When I said to some of them what must have endangered their ego, they lost control of their rational mind and allowed their endangered ego to behave totally irrationally, even by calling me names. I've already learned that the best way to deal with such people is to simply walk away from them to give them an impression as if they, or to be more precise, their egos, have won the battle instead of fighting in vain as certain types of truth can't be communicated but must be experienced, that is, they have to realize experiencially that their mind, which they trust blindly, distorts reality.

2018-08-10

New Minimalist Computing Environment for Structured Writing with Markdown and Pandoc

My decision to stop being a "domesticated cow" or a "hamster in a wheel" in my professional life has been exerting a ripple effect on my life. in general I'm becoming even more minimalist, getting rid of clutters and distractions even from my professional life.

Such clutters and distractions in my computing environment include illusionary mindset and bloatware, especially the WYSIWYG-oriented writing tools called word processors. Thanks to this profound transformation in my professional life I don't have to use not only LibreOffice Writer, which is a less intolerable alternative to Word, and even Scrivener, which I used to use for several years as my default program for structured writing, including academic-shmacademic writing.

My new computing environment is totally based on plain text not only for nonstructured writing but also for structured writing now! Long live plain text! For nonstructured and shorter structured writing I continue to use my favorite Windows text editor EditPad Pro. For longer structured writing I continue to use Markdown (as well as enhancements from CommonMark) as my favorite format (see Markdown Tutorial and Markdown Guide for further details about Markdown in practice) and have started to use a new dedicated Markdown editor for Windows called Markdown Monster together with Pandoc for outputs such as HTML5, Slidy, ODT and EPUB (see, for example, an online article entitled "Sustainable Authorship in Plain Text Using pandoc and Markdown" that explains succinctly and convincingly the rationale for using this combination.

For Mac OS there have been many excellent dedicated Markdown editors, most notably Ulysses, but for Windows I haven't found any satisfying one, probably with the sole exception of Writemonkey (actually, I used to use its older version, but unfortunately, its new version has added more problems than improvements in my opinion). Markdown Monster is the first Markdown editor for Windows I've fallen in love with (as is the case with women, I seldom meet software programs I fall in love with, but once I do, I'm totally dedicated to them). Its developer has a nice blog entry entitled "Why use a dedicated Markdown editor". One of the most important enhancements this dedicated Markdown editor has is its integration of Pandoc as one of its add-ins.

Since I discovered Markdown Monster last week, I'm still experimenting with it. Once I've learned how to use it together with Pandoc, I'll prepare my workflow and even share it here though I don't think there will be a huge demand for it. What I write here must sound totally foreign and enigmatic to those who write everything with Word. But if the idea should resonate with you and you would like to try this new computing environment for structured writing on Windows, I'll be more than glad to help you learn it especially because the learning curve can be quite steep if you've never used any writing tool other than Word.

2018-08-03

Spiral Dynamics

I've recently got acquainted with and started learning an amazing model for the evolution of the human consciousness called "Spiral Dynamics", which is presented in a book also entitled Spiral Dynamics. The authors - Don Edward Beck and Christopher C. Cowan - have based this model of theirs on their own research, which in turn is based on the pioneering work of Clare W. Graves.

This model offers offer the following eight evolutionary stages in the ascending order:

  1. BEIGE - Survival Sense - Instinctive
    • Automatic, autistic, reflexive
    • Centers around satisfaction of human biological needs
    • Driven by deep brain programs, instincts, and genetics
    • Little awareness of self as a distinct being (undifferentiated)
    • Lives 'off the land' much as other animals
    • Minimal impact on or control over environment
  2. PURPLE - KinSpirits - Clannish
    • Obey desires of the mystical spirit beings
    • Show allegiance to elders, custom, clan
    • Preserve sacred places, objects, rituals
    • Bond together to endure and find safety
    • Live in an enchanted, magical village
    • Seek harmony with nature's power
  3. RED - PowerGods - Egocentric
    • In a world of haves and have-nots, it's good to be a have
    • Avoid shame, defend reputation, be respected
    • Gratify impulses and senses immediately
    • Fight remorselessly and without guilt to break constraints
    • Don't worry about consequences that may not come
  4. BLUE - TruthForce - Purposeful
    • Find meaning and purpose in living
    • Sacrifice self to the Way for deferred reward
    • Bring order and stability to all things
    • Control impulsivity and respond to guilt
    • Enforce principles of righteous living
    • Divine plan assigns people to their places
  5. ORANGE - StriveDrive - Strategic
    • Strive for autonomy and independence
    • Seek out 'the good life' and material abundence
    • Progress through searching out the best solutions
    • Enhance living for many through science and technology
    • Play to win and enjoy competition
    • Learn through tried-and-true experience
  6. GREEN - HumanBond - Relativistic
    • Explore the inner beings of self and others
    • Promote a sense of community and unity
    • Share society's resources among all
    • Liberate humans from greed and dogma
    • Reach decisions through consensus
    • Refresh spirituality and bring harmony
  7. YELLOW - FlexFlow - Systemic
    • Accept the inevitability of nature's flows and forms
    • Focus on functionality, competence, flexibility, and spontaneity
    • Find natural mix of conflicting 'truths' and 'uncertainties'
    • Discovering personal freedom without harm to others or excesses of self-interest
    • Experience fullness of living on an Earth of such diversity in multiple dimensions
    • Demand integrative and open systems
  8. TURQUOISE - GlobalView - Holistic
    • Blending and harmonizing a strong collective of individuals
    • Focus on the good of all living entities as integrated systems
    • Expanded use of human brain/mind tools and competencies
    • Self is part of larger, conscious, spiritual whole that also serves self
    • Global (and whole-Spiral!) networking seen as routine
    • Acts for minimalist living so less actually is more

The model is too comprehensive and complicated to be summarized in such a short blog entry. I myself have started to understand its descriptive and explanatory power only after watching the following six YouTube videos by Leo Gura; the first is an excellent general introduction to Spiral Dynamics, and the other five are detailed presentations of the last five of these eight evolutionary stages with ample examples of individuals and societies belonging to each of them:

I've been wondering at which stage, or to be more precise, at what stages simultaneously, my consciousness is at this stage of my life, but I now know a clear picture of the spiritual stage I should aspire for and how it must look. This model has also helped me understand far more clearly than before many behaviors, including weird and enigmatic ones, by individuals and societies, and conflicts between them, including those between me and other individuals in various societies in various degrees of severity.

What I find the most interesting in this model of the evolution of the human consciousness is a hypothesis that no individual or society can skip any stage in order to evolve spiritually. This also explains why many bona fide efforts by individuals and organizations from one evolutionary stage often end up bearing few or no fruits in societies that are lower by two or more stages as these people and organizations try to skip one or more stages.

2018-07-27

Crossing the Threshold in a "Hero's Journey"

This week marked what I consider the second most important event in my entire life in this incarnation (after my birth itself) though it's still more symbolic. It's a professional one in nature, but it will also affect my entire life from now on. I've received an "official ticket" to crossing the threshold for a kind of "hero's journey" of my own - a concept used by later scholars to refer to the idea originally presented by Joseph Campbell in his seminal work The Hero with a Thousand Faces.

"Hero's journey" is a kind of typology of heroes and their adventures, which are seemingly external but actually internal, as narrated in various myths and novels. Campbell enumerates the following 17 steps:

  1. The call to adventure
  2. Refusal of the call
  3. Supernatural aid
  4. Crossing the threshold
  5. Belly of the whale
  6. The road of trials
  7. The meeting with the goddess
  8. Woman as temptress
  9. Atonement with the father
  10. Apotheosis
  11. The ultimate boon
  12. Refusal of the return
  13. The magic flight
  14. Rescue from without
  15. The crossing of the return threshold
  16. Master of two worlds
  17. Freedom to live

Naturally, I don't consider myself a hero, but since this is the first time in my life that I feel I'm embarking on such an internal adventure of this magnitude, I allow myself to call it my "hero's journey". In retrospect, I reached the first stage about one year ago when I felt instinctively I shouldn't remain in the present "comfort zone" or "cave" for my spiritual growth.

When I started telling about my plan of this journey to my close friends and colleagues, all of them objected. I myself continued refusing to accept this call, until I experienced one unprecedented incident that seemed a misfortune back then but turned out to be a blessing later, which in turn served as the decisive catalyst that made me decide once and for all to conquer the fear of uncertainty and take a calculated risk so that I might not regret for taking no action for the rest of my life.

I started to try crossing the threshold about a month ago even before I got this "official ticket" to do so. As is expected, I've already encountered the so-called "threshold guardians". They are internal, of course. In my case they are trust, humility and harmony with others, that is, I still have to improve these character traits of mine to cross the threshold completely.

I can't even imagine what awaits me after crossing this threshold though I do try to plan by calculating the risk and preparing myself the continuation of this hero's journey to the best of my knowledge. But one thing seems to be certain - my life won't be the same. Many people who found themselves failing to dissuade me have decided to leave me, but on the other hand I have found new supporters though naturally not many. I have also found two people who have already undergone their own hero's journeys before me whom I consider my symbolic mentors and from whose experiences I would like to learn for my hero's journey.

2018-07-20

Steps to Recovery from a Special Type of Loss

About two months ago I lost what I can understand and appreciate now as the most important thing in my life (after my life itself). To my great surprise, I hadn't felt any pain, until I suddenly started feeling it this Sunday morning. Now it seems to me that this loss for which myself, including my stupidity, am responsible, has left some deep emotional scar in me. Even before I lost this precious thing, I foresaw the pain of losing it and bought one workbook. During these two months I even forgot this fact, but this acute pain has reminded me of it.

It didn't take me long to realize through this workbook meant specifically for this special type of loss that my pain derived mostly from my own shame and guilt, and I have to forgive and accept myself, which doesn't mean, of course, justifying myself.

I've followed the following six steps explained in detail in this workbook as a kind of psychological self-(re)evaluation:

  1. Cultivating a willingness to move forward
    • Rate yourself on how stuck you feel on a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 means you're able to easily move through the difficult emotions related to your divorce and 10 means you're completely unable to let go and move forward.
    • Write down the emotions you're experiencing that may be keeping you stuck.
    • Are there any benefits to being stuck emotionally?
    • What do you stand to gain if you move toward becoming unstuck and healing emotionally?
  2. Identifying your hurtful mistakes
  3. Taking responsibility
    • Hurt experienced by the person who was affected by your actions.
    • What aspects of this person's pain directly resulted from what you did?
    • What aspects of this person's pain may be less connected to your actions?
    • Write down some words that describe your emotional state.
  4. Becoming an owner of your difficult emotions
    • When you experience these feelings, what is your typical response?
  5. Identifying and letting go of negative attitudes and behavior patterns
    • Name an attitude or behavioral pattern that contributed to your
      hurtful actions.
    • When and how has this attitude or behavioral pattern been beneficial to you?
    • When has it harmed you or others?
    • Do you know others who exhibit this pattern? How have their behaviors or attitudes affected you?
    • How might letting go of this negative pattern benefit you and
      others?
  6. Making amends
    • For the hurtful behavior on which you have previously focused, is a direct apology possible or appropriate? Why or why not?
    • If it is possible, how will the benefits of a direct apology outweigh the costs associated of not directly apologizing?
    • Describe your plan to make amends (either with or without a direct apology). Then act on it.

The sixth step has been the most difficult one as unlike the first five steps it's solution-focused but I haven't been convinced if it can help make amends at all. In spite of this feeling I've taken this action step with a direct apology. Quite expectedly, I haven't received any reaction, which must show that what I have done is far worse than I've tried to (re)evaluated through the first five steps mentioned above. Now I wonder what specific alternative actions I can take without a direct apology. My full recovery from this loss still seems very far away...

2018-07-13

What I have Learned from Jewish Life Coaching

This seems to be the perfect time to ask myself and write down what I have learned from my own experience of being coached intensively (in a group of a little more than ten frum Jewish men) by an amazing hasidic coach from BSD Coaching as I'm starting a Jewish life coaching program by an American haredi school called Refuah Institute here in Jerusalem next Sunday at long last. Here is a list of what I consider the most important things in the more or less chronological order of learning.

  • The gap between what we are/have/do and what we want to is a blessing for spiritual growth.
  • I'm much stronger than I thought I was.
  • I have untapped positive forces I can make better use of.
  • Learning without taking any action leads us nowhere.
  • We are spiritual beings with our souls as our essence.
  • Hasidism appeals to me much more than Lithuanian haredi Judaism, which used to appeal to me more.
  • My life, including my thoughts, emotions and behaviors, was hijacked and controlled by my ego, which had caused me a lot of problems in my life.
  • Life is a school for the soul and its growth.
  • Life is our best life coach.
  • Obstacles in life are divine gifts.
  • When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.
  • The most important task in my life is to tame the ego and align with the soul.
  • I would like to help others help themselves do the same.
  • I've discovered the power of neuroplasticity with the help of prayer, meditation, affirmation, visualization and journaling.
  • I've (re)discovered my life (= soul) vision!

* Thuough I have learned these lessons from the specific Jewish life coaching I received, I have no claim that they are specifically Jewish or specific to Jewish life coaching.

2018-07-06

Spontaneous Shmoozing with Strangers in Israel

Before I completely stopped drinking alcohol last November, I had become addicted to it, hoping to let go of my stress and subsequent anger through this unhealthy and toxic instant gratification. But paradoxically, the more I drank, the more stressed and angry I became on the one hand, but after stopping drinking, I've come to feel less and less stress and anger.

One of the positive effects of this change is that I've started to speaking to strangers on the street and in other public places and engaging in spontaneous, sometimes, long, shmoozing. Actually, when I was still addicted to alcohol, I could allow myself to do that only when I was drunk, but now I can do so when I'm sober and even mindful. I can't help too much someone who has helped me repent though this had to be done the hard way.

With this positive change I've also come to take every possible opportunity to start spontaneous shmoozing with strangers when I go out, and now I realize afresh that Israel is a perfect country for this kind of verbal interaction! I wonder whether this Israeli culture of spontaneous communication is originally Israeli and/or part of the traditional Jewish culture(s) of verbal communication.

This informality in verbal communication, coupled with the parallel informality in other areas of culture, may be interpreted negatively as too intrusive or aggressive by non-Israelis who are unfamiliar with this culture Since I don't make a fundamental change when I switch between languages I speak and my default mode of speaking is more Israeli, or at least, Jewish, than, let's say, Japanese, even when I speak Japanese in Japan, many people immediately detect my foreign "cultural accept" though my Japanese mustn't have deteriorated so much after starting to live here this time in August 2004.

Every time I visit Japan as an Israeli Jew now, I can fully enjoy what Japan has to offer tourists from other countries and cultures, and I can also understand why many of them become fascinated with Japanese culture. When I still lived in Japan, I didn't stop kvetching about Japanese society, but I have only good things to say about things Japanese except one thing - verbal communication by average Japanese speakers in not only Japanese but also other languages.

Even in Kansai region, where people are said to be more open, I've had few (or even no?) chances to start and continue spontaneous shmoozing after I spoke to strangers in Japanese. I would say this is stressful but definitely boring. Spontaneous oral shmoozing is quite rare there as long as they remain sober though more spontaneous written shmoozing may be more common especially it's anonymous.

This week alone I had more shmoozing with strangers here than I would have even in several years in Japan. I would even say that this is a cultural asset of Israel, which must also contribute to flourishing entrepreneurship here as such spontaneous shmoozing as a cultural norm must be an important, if not indispensable, factor in accelerating brainstorming.

2018-06-29

Spiritual Intelligence

I recently got acquainted with what is for me a new (and fascinating) concept called spiritual intelligence (SQ) as an additional (and more important) type of human intelligence after(/than) cognitive intelligence (IQ) and emotional intelligence (EQ). This concept is said to be proposed by Danah Zohar. She elaborates on it academically in a book entitled SQ - Spiritual Intelligence, which she co-authored with Ian Marshall.

In her, more practical, book entitled SQ21 Cindy Wigglesworth defines SQ as "[t]he ability to behave with wisdom and compassion, while maintaining inner and outer peace, regardless of the situation" and writes the following as what the essence of SQ allows us to do:

We can mature the ego, gently shift it out of the driver's seat and over into the passenger's seat, and allow our Higher Self to drive the car of our life. That's when the destination suddenly becomes clear, the process speeds up, and we "self" or develop at maximum speed. All the while we are also at peace in the moment, knowing and trusting that the best part of ourselves is in charge, and therefore we are in the best place we could possibly be, right now.

Having read this, I told myself that this is exactly what I want to develop further in the school for the soul called life! In this practical guidebook she enumerates and elaborate on 21 skills we are supposed to acquire as we become more spiritually intelligent:

  1. Awareness of own worldview
  2. Awareness of life purpose
  3. Awareness of values hierarchy
  4. Complexity of inner thought
  5. Awareness of ego self/Higher Self
  6. Awareness of interconnectedness of life
  7. Awareness of worldviews of others
  8. Breadth of time perception
  9. Awareness of limitations/power of human perception
  10. Awareness of spiritual laws skill
  11. Experience of transcendent oneness
  12. Commitment to spiritual growth
  13. Keeping Higher Self in charge
  14. Living your purpose and values
  15. Sustaining faith
  16. Seeking guidance from Higher Self
  17. Being a wise and effective teacher/mentor of spiritual principles
  18. Being a wise and effective leader/change agent
  19. Making compassionate and wise decisions
  20. Being a calming, healing presence
  21. Being aligned with the ebb and flow of life

Skills 5, 13 and 16 especially resonate with me as I've sent the task of taming my ego as the most important way to attain my life (= soul) purpose. It must be a chutzpah to say this, but I feel I've become very much aware that two sets of opposing forces that derive from my ego and soul, which is synonymous to higher self to the best of my understanding, are struggling with each other inside me like Esau and Jacob inside the womb of Rebecca. I also recall that I and my life, or to be more precise, my thoughts, emotions, and behaviors, were totally hijacked and controlled by my ego until I completely stopped drinking alcohol a little more than half a year ago after almost 37 years of continued drinking, which deteriorated into addiction and cognitive-behavioral disorder in all the major areas of my daily life, especially my (bygone) married life.

So I can say that I've already acquired Skill 5, but learning to keep my soul in charge and seek guidance from it still remains very relevant to me. I can use the following five attainment levels the author lists in this book to measure my progress in my task of taming my ego (I still seem to be on the third level in this spiritual journey of mine):

  1. I can occasionally identify when I am acting from ego and I understand that acting on ego will not get me long-term satisfaction.
  2. I am unhappy with how ego handles things. I want my Higher Self to be in charge.
  3. I understand and can occasionally remember to use the skills to activate Higher Self and have it take over from the ego self.
  4. I am consistently able to activate Higher Self and interrupt "ego moments." I am successful in keeping Higher Self "in the driver's seat" most of the time.
  5. My Higher Self "muscle" has been developed by consistent daily practice for a long time - it is now a habit. Higher Self is in charge, even in profoundly trying times or under pressure from "group think".

What the author gives as the advice to acquire Skill 16 is to develop our openness to intuition and our sensitivity to its messages. I've started to pay more conscious attention to my intuition and even experience more and more cases of synchronicity in my daily life. Actually, it's this newly discovered voice of my intuition that has made me decide several months ago to gather the courage to get out of my comfort zone in one important domain of my life and finally set out on my "hero's journey".

2018-06-15

Soul Lessons

Sonia Choquette enumerates 22 soul lessons as follows and elaborates on them in her truly inspiring book entitled Soul Lessons and Soul Purpose:

  1. You are a divine immortal being
  2. You are a co-creator with the divine
  3. Creation begins with thought
  4. Engage your feelings
  5. You create in pictures
  6. Live in the present
  7. Divine energy flows through you, not from you
  8. Refine your reason
  9. Follow your inner voice
  10. Open your heart
  11. Detach
  12. All is in divine order
  13. Reverse your perceptions
  14. Accept death
  15. Embrace life's tests
  16. Temper your ego
  17. Address your mistakes
  18. Actively meditate
  19. Love your body
  20. Regenerate your soul
  21. Shatter negative patterns
  22. Waste no time

The lessons that resonate especially strongly with my soul are the first, sixth, and 15th ones as well as the 16th, on which I already dedicated a separate blog entry three weeks ago, and the first and sixth can be also be the why and how for learning the 16th. The author elaborates on the 15th soul lessons as follows, among others:

Your soul progresses toward mastery by facing tests. These help you temper your human reactions and develop your higher spiritual ones. They appear in the form of challenges, disappointments, betrayals, upsets, trials, losses, and even injuries and sickness.

It is easy to believe that you are a Divine Immortal Soul when everything goes according to your wants and desires. It is more difficult to remember your Inner Being's purpose and power, and to remain connected to your Higher Self and centered, when life becomes demanding. It is only when you confront all situations with grace, patience, and love that you find your strength and ultimate freedom, and graduateto living in harmony with your Greater Consciousness.

As you move through the classroom of life, you encounter an endless stream of tests toexpand your Inner Wisdom. Challenges do not arise to threaten you, although it certainly can feel that way when you are in the middle of one. These trials are only in placeas a neutral aid to help ensure your spiritual progress and advance your purpose. You can then become aware of your soul's weaknesses and strengths and work to develop the areas that require further growth.

Your challenges in life are not Divine payback from a jealous Creator who does not like you or what you have done. They are simply indications that you are advancing along your soul's learning curve. You do not face difficulties as punishment; you attract them because you are moving to the next level of understanding of your sacred nature.

Rather than being resistant, indignant, or fearful when faced with a tough situation, recognize it as an indication that your soul is ready to grow. Meet your challenges with courage and know that you are never given anything that you are not prepared for. Furthermore, you never have to undergo any test alone. Call on your guides, angelic helpers, and Higher Self to help you navigate through any difficulty that comes up. Ask for assistance and be open to receiving it, for it is available for you at any time.

Great and small trials will be laid in your path every day. Some you will pass, and others you will not - at least not the first time. Do not fret, because there will be more spiritual exams and opportunities to grow. They never stop. That is your reason for coming to the Earth plane. There is no better way to master your soul's purpose. It is not the tests that matter; it is the grace with which you accept and address them that is important.

Actually these sentences of hers summarize so eloquently what I've undergone in the past half year and learned the hard way. Next time I encounter another life challenge, I'll hopefully be able to cope with it better and learn more. As a daily preparation for it I don't stop taming my ego, constantly reminding myself that I'm a divine immortal being and telling myself to live in the present.

2018-06-08

Personal Ego vs. Collective Ego

"How hard is it to live with yourself? One of the ways in which the ego attempts to escape the unsatisfactoriness of personal selfhood is to enlarge and strengthen its sense of self by identifying with a group – a nation, political party, corporation, institution, sect, club, gang, football team.

In some cases the personal ego seems to dissolve completely as someone dedicates his or her life to the working selflessly for the greater good of the collective without demanding personal rewards, recognition, or aggrandizement. What a sense of relief to be freed of the dreadful burden of personal self. The members of the collective feel happy and fulfilled, no matter how hard they work, how many sacrifices they make. They appear to have gone beyond ego. The question is: Have they truly become free, or has the ego simply shifted from the personal to the collective?

A collective ego manifests the same characteristics as the personal ego, such as the need for conflict and enemies, the need for more, the need to be right against others who are wrong, and so on. Sooner or later, the collective will come into conflict with other collectives, because it unconsciously seeks conflict and it needs opposition to define its boundary and thus its identity. Its members will then experience the suffering that inevitably comes in the wake of any ego-motivated action. At that point, they may wake up and realize that their collective has a strong element of insanity.

It can be painful at first to suddenly wake up and realize that the collective you had identified with and worked for is actually insane. Some people at that point become cynical or bitter and henceforth deny all values, all worth. This means that they quickly adopted another belief system when the previous one was recognized as illusory and therefore collapsed. They didn’t face the death of their ego but ran away and reincarnated into a new one.

A collective ego is usually more unconscious than the individuals that make up that ego. For example, crowds (which are temporary collective egoic entities) are capable of committing atrocities that the individual away from the crowd would not be. Nations not infrequently engage in behavior that would be immediately recognizable as psychopathic in an individual."

- Eckhart Tolle

I've realized suddenly that just as each individual has his or her own personal ego, or false self, each group, be it a nation or a society, has its own collective ego. Now that one important chapter in my life-long task of taming my personal ego ended with the end of my psychotherapy this week, I've made a conscious decision to resume my old-new challenge of coping with the collective ego of the society I live in - Israel.

I haven't met too many people personally who are spiritually awakened enough to be aware of their egos and its incessant tireless effort to control their lives. I've encountered even fewer people who are aware that their thoughts, emotions and behaviors are controlled, at least partially, by the collective ego of the society they live in. And the collective ego is far more difficult to tame than the personal ego as this requires spiritual awakening of a whole collective.

I already know the "forces" behind the most annoying manifestations of the Israeli collective ego in public as well as in private interpersonal communication - self-centeredness and insensitivity as well as lack of self-esteem concerning their first language Hebrew. Now I'm fully aware that fighting against self-centered and insensitive behaviors of one individual after another in this society is a Sisyphean labor doomed to fail.

Unfortunately, my task of consciously taming my own ego has just begun, so I'm still influenced negatively by the Israeli collective ego. Ironically but quite expectedly, the more I think about what is for me the most annoying manifestation of the Israeli collective ego, the more frequently I attract it in my daily life. I still have to find efficient ways to not let my ego awakened by the Israeli collective ego. The simplest solution is to leave Israel, and actually I've been continuing to think about this option, but as of now, this is not so realistic, partly because I have only Israeli citizenship. In the meanwhile I've decided to accept this challenge as a precious opportunity to work on my ego.

Having been awakened to realize the existence of the collective ego in Israeli society (as in all the other societies), I've also started observing the society as a bystander and discovered something quite shocking - one widely held collective belief as a very dangerous fear-based superstitious dogma of this collective ego from which many members of the society, whether religious or secular, suffer.


2018-06-01

Soul Purpose

"When you as an eternal soul planned your current life, you were not concerned with what your mind might come to know. Instead, you wanted to experience the feelings that would be generated by life in a physical dimension. Life challenges are a particularly powerful means of creating feelings, which are, in turn, vital to the soul's self-knowing. These feelings cannot truly be comprehended by the mind; in fact, the mind is a barrier. In many ways life is a journey from the head to the heart. We plan life challenges to facilitate this journey, to break open our hearts so we may better know and value them." - Robert Schwartz

"Whether your path has been smooth or rocky, your life gentle or traumatic, of this you may be certain: You are among the most courageous souls in the Universe. Were that not true, you would not be here now. Your decision to incarnate, your willing agreement to embark on the voyage your soul planned, was an act of profound bravery. Your search for the deeper meaning of that journey is another act of great courage. And your decision to heal is yet another. Throughout the Universe you are honored and revered." - Robert Schwartz

My spiritual awakening has been triggered and accelerated, among others, by my systematic and extensive reading of testimonies of near-death experiences, past life soul regressions, and between lives soul regressions collected by Eben Alexander, Brian Weiss, Michael Newton, and Robert Schwartz from their respective numerous clients as well as other, secondary, sources such as those by Bob Olson. I've come to a deep conviction that we live, or to be more precise, we continue to reincarnate for one common general purpose - growth of the soul in multiple physical bodies, especially through challenges.

Many people seem to equate life purpose with the so-called success in major areas of life such as partnership, career, finance, etc. But I've come to understand intellectually and realize spiritually that this worldly success is illusionary and can be a way to attain the true life purpose at best. Besides, success in worldly terms can often be failure in spiritual terms, and vice versa. After such understanding and realization I've come to see my life, or to be more precise, this life of mine as well as those of other people around me from a totally different perspective. What they seem to have set as their respective life purpose in the form of worldly success looks like a vanity of vanities to me as they are struggling to satisfying their insatiable egos instead of aligning their lives to their souls.

Each of us seems to have to undergo a series of what is called hero's journey, which in one of its variations I've found consists of the following for stages: 1) separation, 2) initiation, 3) ordeal, and 4) the journey home. They correspond to what Martha Beck, my most favorite life coach-cum-author, calls as follows in her Finding Your Own North Star: 1) death and rebirth, 2) dreaming and scheming, 3) the hero's saga, and 4) the promised land. In one important life domain I've just finished experienced this whole cycle and started the second phase of a new cycle. In another no less important life domain I'm finishing the second phase and entering the third one in the present cycle.

Each of the challenges we encounter in our incarnations in multiple physical bodies is supposed to have a specific lesson to teach our souls. I still don't know what lessons the challenges I have experienced or am experiencing in these two life domains are meant to teach mine as they are still too fresh. But the more challenges I experience and conquer, the closer I feel I'm aligning my life to my soul purpose.

2018-05-25

Taming the Ego as the Worst Enemy of the Soul

"As you grow up, you form a mental image of who you are, based on your personal and cultural conditioning. We may call this phantom self the ego. It consists of mind activity and can only be kept going through constant thinking. The term ego means different things to different people, but when I use it here it means a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind. [...] Enlightenment means rising above thought. In the enlightened state, you still use your thinking mind when needed, but in a much more focused and effective way than before. You use it mostly for practical purposes, but you are free of the involuntary internal dialogue, and there is inner stillness." - Eckhart Tolle

"Wherever you are, whatever you're doing, your worst enemy already lives inside you: your ego." - Ryan Holiday

"A bad day for the ego is a good day for the soul." - Craig J.

One of the most significant discoveries I've made since I encountered a "divine storm" about half a year ago and started my new spiritual journey is probably the realization that my soul, or my higher self, was totally (and still is partially) controlled by my ego. Now I'm fully aware of the destructive power of the ego that manifests itself in negative, fear-based, thoughts, emotions, and subsequent behaviors. When the "divine storm" hit me, my ego was at the peak of its power, causing havoc for myself and all the people who came in touch with me and eventually putting an end to one important joint private enterprise of mine.

The rage of my ego was fueled by alcohol, which I stopped consuming completely about half a year ago as the first step to tame my ego. Since then I've tried a number of mental and even physical workouts to tame my ego without realizing yet not only that it's as the worst enemy of my soul but also that the target of the war I've started to wage against is my ego. I've come to realize these two things slowly but steadily as I've started to reclaim the "power of now" through some of the new and old but intensified workouts. Now I'm determined to make it my life-long task to tame my ego as the worst enemy of my soul. The very awareness I have now of my ego through my consciousness is a large step forward for my soul.

Craig J. enumerates in his Tame the Ego Before It Tames the Soul the following 12 steps to tame the ego:

  1. Laugh at everything, including your ego.
  2. Catch the ego's destructive thoughts/feelings before they enslave you.
  3. Be grateful every day.
  4. Judge less.
  5. Give more.
  6. Stress less.
  7. Surrender.
  8. Be humble yet courageous.
  9. Confront your addictions.
  10. Live in the moment and meditate every day.
  11. Make daily affirmations.
  12. Live with compassion.

Of these 12 steps the second one seems to me the most powerful and proactive one. The author elaborates on this step as follows, among others:

Thoughts are always banging into our minds all day every day. These thoughts are very powerful, especially when we ponder on them on a deep level. If you notice a fearful or negative thought slip into your consciousness, the best thing to do is shut it down quickly and replace it with a loving or positive one. When we delve into any thought and explore it, we open up a virtual world that can manifest itself into our own reality. Our thoughts are the first step to how we feel, how we act, and possibly a real life outcome may manifest from that tiny little seed of a thought. So be wary of what thoughts are mulling around in your head everyday.

If a thought pops into your mind that you feel is a fearful or negative thought, simply recognise it and replace it with a positive, happy, loving, or playful thought. Do this quickly. If you do not act quickly in replacing this thought, it will give the ego time to embellish the thought, thus turning it into a wild frenzy of anxious, disturbing, and depressing thoughts, thoughts that are all fear based and made up by the master of trickery, the ego. It wants you to believe in things that are simply not true. It is just another way the ego sets out to enslave your soul. It will take a thought and blow it up to ridiculous proportions, trying to make you believe things that are detrimental to your soul's growth and ability to express its infinite love toward yourself and others.

Follow this simple way of diffusing the thought before it grows out of control and affects us.

  1. Recognise the thought.
  2. Say to your ego, "That's a fearful thought and I'm not going to entertain it. Keep it to yourself. I'm in charge of what thoughts I delve into. Not you."
  3. Replace it with a loving/positive thought.
  4. Delve into this loving thought and imagine all kinds of abundance.
  5. Refuse to let the fearful thought infect your mind again.

I've decided not only to adapt this method but even to go one step further or deeper by resuming to apply one of the most powerful tools I've learned in a course I took in Jewish life coaching exactly when the "divine storm" started - replacing not only specific thoughts (and emotions) but only the more fundamental "forces" lying behind them with positive ones. The negative and positive forces I've identified within me are as follows:

  • Negative forces (belonging to my ego): lack of self-confidence, lack of enthusiasm, lack of gratitude, lack of tolerance, lack of respect, and lack of action
  • Positive forces (belonging to my soul): self-confidence, enthusiasm, gratitude, tolerance, lovingkindness, and compassion

I've also started observing how other people behave, through their egos or their souls. Unfortunately but quite expectedly, many people are controlled by their egos. As I wrote above, the first step toward a victory in our souls' incessant struggle with our egos is to become aware that the latter are constantly trying every cunning method to tame the former. Though I haven't fully tamed my ego yet, I've even started to wonder if I can help these people become aware of this very fact so that they may not have to wait for a "divine storm", which in turn will awaken them the hard way through "the dark night of the soul".

2018-05-18

Official End of a Short-Lived Private Joint Enterprise

My short-lived private joint enterprise came to its official end this week. It started ultimately about three years ago and officially about one year and a half. Since it started dying about half a year ago, I had enough time to prepare myself for its ultimate death, at least mentally, physically, and especially spiritually, though it's still quite difficult emotionally to digest it as I'm just starting to fully understand the magnitude of my loss.

But fortunately, my gain far exceeds my loss, mainly because I've worked intensively on myself, partly to try to save this enterprise from its demise and partly to try to accept this death. Through this intensive self-work, which was motivated by a course I took in Jewish life coaching here, I've even experienced (and am still experiencing) a kind of spiritual awakening.

I've decided to settle the account, so to speak, of my life by listing in writing the main things I've learned or attained as part of my new spiritual journey from the seeming failure of this enterprise at random order:

  • I've woken up and stopped drinking completely, and I'm continuing to break my personal record of sobriety every day.
  • I've intensified my old mental and physical daily workouts and started some new ones. I have the best version of myself spiritually, mentally, and even physically, if not emotionally yet.
  • I've finally started listening to my soul and decided to align my life to my true, spiritual, life purpose by getting out of my present comfort zone in one important life domain and making a fundamental transformation there. After this rather fateful decision I even feel serenity, probably for the first time in life.
  • I've disconnected myself from those (fortunately few) extremely limiting or disempowering old friends of mine. They belong to the same sociocultural group, which I don't think is a coincidence. I've started to notice some fundamental problems in their dogma and practice and to detox myself from this poisonous dogma I was brainwashed to believe.
  • I've made friends with some empowering people, who all happen to be hasidim. This has kindled my interest in Hasidism as the source of their joy of life. I'm starting to study it systematically, even formally.
  • I've realized that our essence is our soul and what are considered successes in worldly terms are not necessarily successes for our soul; we only use physical bodies as temporary dwellings to maximize our soul lessons and attain our soul purpose.

All these things have also made me realize the tasks I still have to accomplish:

  • Now that I realize that my greatest enemy is my ego, which manifests itself as limiting thoughts, emotions and behaviors, I have and want to tame it and prevent it from continuing to control my life.
  • I have and want to finalize the first stage of a fundamental transformation in the above mentioned one life domain in order to start helping others help themselves for their spiritual self-alignment.
  • I want to attract to this private joint enterprise of mine a new co-entrepreneur who is committed to it and ready not to abandon it even in its most difficult time.
  • Time seems to have come for me to start volunteering to serve the community, for example, by teaching languages I know and joining a support group of those who suffer from alcohol addiction.

Last but not least, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to my (now former) co-entrepreneur for helping me finally wake up and start this spiritual journey. Shkoyekh, E.L.! I also wish you a successful spiritual journey.

PS: I've also benefitted especially from books by the following authors (in alphabetical order) in this new spiritual journey of mine; interestingly, (almost?) all of them are Americans at least by now (and nearly half of them indentify themselves as Jewish in their respective books): Eben Alexander, Martha Beck, Stephan Bodian, Sonia Choquette, Wayne Dyer, Mike Dooley, Arielle Ford, Debbie Ford, Joanna Garzilli, Louise Hay, Shad Helmstetter, Susan Jeffers, Mastin Kipp, Joey Klein, Michael Newton, Tony Robbins, Robert Schwartz, Eckhart Tolle, Brian Weiss, Marianne Williamson, and Anna Yusim.

2018-05-11

Accepting and Letting Go of Negative Emotions toward Native Israeli Culture and Society

"What you resists persists. What you embrace dissolves."

"If you don't like a situation, do something to change it. If you can't change it, change your self talk." - Rabbi Zelig Pliskin

This week I witnessed my own outburst of anger for the first time since I stopped drinking alcohol completely about half a year ago. This is the most common of the four possible reactions I used to have - fighting, fleeing, freezing, and fainting - under the influence of alcohol every time I encountered one of the behavioral manifestations, whether verbal or nonverbal, of egoism and/or insensitivity by so many native Israelis, or sabras (for the purpose of these sentences sabras don't include haredim even if they were born in Israel).

I felt terrible (or even terrified) immediately afterwards mainly because I witnessed myself in a sober state letting someone totally insignificant to me control my mind negatively, which in turn triggered my negative behavior - outburst of anger as a kind of fighting.

Since then I started asking myself (and even consulting my psychotherapist in our weekly session) what act of kindness I can take as my reaction to such egoistic and insensitive behaviors so widespread here among sabras instead of any of the above mentioned four negative reactions as act of kindness seems to be the only way to change these people, and, even if not them, myself.

The first logical and healthy step I've decided to take is to accept my negative emotions toward native Israeli culture and society in general and egoistic and insensitive behaviors by many native Israelis in particular, hoping that I will eventually succeed to let go of these negative emotions.

As for the next possible steps, I'll continue to consult my psychotherapist, who has decided to try psychodynamic psychotherapy. I also want to find ways to work on myself by myself so that these egoistic and insensitive people, who will unfortunately never disappear, may not hijack my mind, and subsequently my behaviors as well.

2018-05-04

When the Shell of the Soul Cracks Open

"Some of us need a cataclysmic event to find our way toward "the center of our own existence. [...] Betrayal, illness, divorce, the demise of a dream, the loss of a job, the death of a loved one - all of these can function as initiations into deeper life." - Elisabeth Lesser

"Crisis, loss, transformation, and growth all tend to weaken the grip of the social self [= ego - TS], and demand some quick decision making on the part of the essential self [= soul - TS]. Since it can't explain itself logically, the essential self may just throw out a grappling hook and latch on to something or someone that might pull you toward your true path." - Martha Beck

In retrospect I can say now that I started this spiritual journey of mine when I was hit by a serious crisis in one of my important life domains about have a year ago. Then the shell covering my soul cracked open.

In retrospect I can also say now that my drinking and other cognitive-behavioral problems were actually manifestations of a persistent protest of my soul against what I was doing that was not aligned with it.

Once this crisis cracked open my soul, I gradually started to listen to it, until I've decided to follow it by making a couple of fundamental transformations in my life both externally and internally with turtle steps. Each new step I took has made me less fearful of the possible consequences of these ongoing transformations and more courageous to take further, bolder steps, finding myself in a kind positive loop.

I've also started to ask the Universal Intelligence to send me signs to confirm that I'm on the right track. To my surprise and joy, I've started to receive such signs of confirmation I might not have noticed at all in the less awakened state of my soul. The changes resulting from the steps I've taken have started to gain momentum; I've already started to witness those changes I would expect to see in a more distant future.

Though I can't deny that I'm still trying to cope with and get over my ego's fear of uncertainty, the strongest innermost feeling I have now is serenity as I feel deep inside me that my decision of transformations and the subsequent actions are finally aligned with my soul and my true calling in this incarnation of mine. This may even be the first time that I feel such serenity in my life.

2018-04-27

Replacing Limiting Beliefs, People and Places with Empowering Ones

"No prisons are more confining than those we know not we are in." - William Shakespeare

"I watch my old programs playing out in my mind, and I realize whyI have had to work so hard in my life. In my old programs I see my own resistance to making changes in my life, my own unnecessary fears about my ability to survive and do well, and old programs that doubt the successes of my own future. They are all old, negative and unnecessary programs, and I choose to get rid of them. I no longer need them, and I will do much better without them." - Shad Helmstetter

"Your limiting beliefs become self-fulfilling prophecies." - Mastin Kipp

"When we're attacked, fear puts us on guard. Even many years later we can find ourselves imprisoned by that fear, believing that we will be attacked like that again. Our egos tell us not to trust other people and even to expect them to attack us again. There's a part of us which lives in the fearful past, sure that it will repeat itself. There's a part of us which wants to adhere to the belief that the painful past can predict a painful future." - Joseph Murphy

"When you (consciously or unconsciously) resent money or cling to your limiting beliefs about money or refuse to participate in making money, it does not serve you, it does not make you more noble, it does not help you or anyone else. What it does is put you on a hunger strike by cutting you off from that which you need not only to survive, but to thrive. By embracing money and getting into the flow, you open yourself up to the abundance that is trying to reach you this very moment." - Jen Sincero

"A good friend understands that you don't kick the wounded when they are down, that when friends collapse, you have to revive them, not pounce on them in anger." - Esther Jungreis

Now that I've worked on my limiting thoughts and behaviors with a decent degree of success, I've decided to make one important experiment also recommended in a number of books I happen to have read in the last few weeks - an experiment to replace my limiting beliefs (as well as limiting people and places) with empowering ones. By limiting beliefs I mean those stories we have invented unconsciously for our survival and "deposited" in our subconscious mind. They stop serving their initial purpose of securing our survival and come to have a powerful negative impact on our thoughts and behaviors such that they can often become self-fulfilling prophesies, which I myself have witnessed again quite recently.

It took me some time to discover these limiting beliefs of mine in my subconscious mind. The first thing I did was to identify those life domains where I've been stuck for quite some time. They are partnership, career, and finance in my case. Then I tried to remember cases of self-fulfilling prophesies in these three areas, which are actually my limiting beliefs there. To my surprise, I could easily detect them, which, I confess here shamelessly, are as follows:

  • Partnership: I attract those women who aren't committed to the relationship they themselves initiated and don't hesitate to end it abruptly when I become inconvenient for them for whatever reason(s).
  • Career: I'm neither appreciated nor admired (enough) by others professionally.
  • Finance: I can neither plan my personal finance nor become wealthy.

Now I'm also fully aware why I had to invent these limiting beliefs in the first two life domains - to ease the pain of traumatic experiences by victimizing myself instead of facing my own problems as the reasons for these experiences.

In the area of partnership my first romantic relationship at the age of 19 was exactly like this, but it was not until I experienced the same trauma with my two ex-girlfriends several years ago that this limiting belief became solidified and unshakable. Recently I've seen right before my eyes that this disempowering belief of mine has become a self-fulfilling prophesy.

I invented the second limiting belief of mine in the area of career after I had two unforgettable traumatic experiences caused by some former students of mine and a few other, no less painful and humiliating, ones by a colleague of mine in public. Here again I continue to see how this belief of mine based on the past events often serves as a self-fulfilling prophesy in the present.

The survival pattern behind the third limiting belief of mine in the area of finance is totally different from those of the first two. My father, born and brought up in poverty, became quite successful professionally, hence also financially, and my schoolmates used to tease me for this seemingly out of jealousy, if not with malice. I gradually but steadily came to feel ashamed of being more affluent than my peers - a typical example of the result of peer-pressure in Japanese society. The next step I took unconsciously, which I'm fully aware of now, was to develop a negative association for money, which in turn made me belief that it's a virtue to be unable to plan my finance and become wealthy myself.

One severe "divine storm" that hit me recently in the first life domain served as a spiritual wake-up call and has made me decide to become aware of my limiting beliefs, first in this area of partnership, then in the other two areas, too, and to replace them with empowering ones to start claiming my power in life. I've come up with the following positive beliefs to replace my original limiting beliefs in the same three life domains:

  • Partnership: I attract my ideal woman, who is, among others, committed to the relationship in both sunny and rainy days.
  • Career: I'm both appreciated and admired (enough) by others professionally.
  • Finance: I can both plan my personal finance and become wealthy.

Naturally, it's not enough to invent these new empowering beliefs. I have to transfer them from my conscious mind to my subconscious mind, and this is the hardest part in this challenging but worthy experiment. Two efficient methods I've found so far are positive self-talk and creative visualization, which I've already started practicing daily (but it will take some time to start seeing the fruit of these mental workouts). Actually, this transformation is nothing but a process of neuroplasticity, or of rewiring my brain.

As a continuation of this fascinating experiment I've also decided to leave limiting people and places. I've already dropped relationships with two old friends of mine after more than 20 years after they started rubbing salt in my wound when I was in a very difficult situation and forcing their narrow-minded opinions upon me, even by yelling at me emotionally, as well as one teacher of mine who showed no compassion for me when I was in the same difficult situation. Interestingly, three of them belong to the same branch of Judaism, which doesn't seem a coincidence to me as I've discovered disempowering elements in its teaching and practice. Another, no less limiting person is even doing me a "favor" of deciding to leave me, preceding me. An interesting thing is taking place there. After I left three limiting people, I got acquainted with three empowering people, who all happen to be hasidim, that is, these limiting people were replaced with empowering new friends without my conscious effort.

What I feel the most liberating step I've decided to take in this whole experiment is leaving, if not immediately, a certain place in both physical and figurative senses of the word that has come to drain my power. Having learned the important lesson of taking action, I've already started taking small sub-steps for this fateful, but hopefully prudent, step of mine by conquering fear of uncertainty. Unlike the limiting beliefs and people I don't have any place to replace this limiting place.