Do we have free will – can we change?

"You can do as you wish but you cannot wish as you wish." I have spent this weekend engrossed in the work of Robert Sapolsky, neuroendocrinologist, primatologist and biologist − specifically his book, Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst. As much as we like to think of ourselves as free thinking rational beings, as much as we like to believe that our actions are based on choice, on free will, Sapolsky argues quite convincingly that among all the neurochemical, hormonal, developmental and evolutionary factors, rational thought and free will count for much less than we would like to imagine, if at all. The key question, to…

NO excuses

Make mindfulness and meditation your priority. Many people say that they find it difficult to be mindful or meditate. The main reason is “feeling uncomfortable”. For them, just to imagine sitting still for 15 minutes gives rise to a feeling of discomfort. It is much more comfortable to be constantly distracted by compulsive busy-ness (it can feel much easier and much more comfortable than being with “ones-self”). Also, we like the feeling of doing something, getting somewhere. Others are seduced by easy excuses such as: “I just don’t have time.” “I feel frustrated.” “My body aches all over.” “My mind is just too busy.” “It’s not for me.” All of…

Activity, Status and Addiction

Being active is important; it’s how we make a difference in the world. Nowadays we tend to all be busy, overburdened and perhaps stressed. In fact, stress for many of us has become a part of our self-image. If we are busy and stressed then we are important; we are getting somewhere.  Conversely, if we are not busy and stressed, then we are not trying hard enough. We feel less important. So we have to keep busy and keep telling ourselves that we are getting somewhere. We scurry up the career/life ladder often not really knowing why, nor what is waiting for us at the end but we do it…

Is it good or is it bad?

Good - want more.  Bad - get me out of here.  This dichotomy is the root of most human suffering. Your genes want you to survive and to create more copies.  All that we are in this physical world arises from this. You can see this reflected in the world of cinema where violence and sex (survival and procreation) are present at some level in most films.  It is these themes which most engage, titillate and thrill us. Our genes, through the wonder of evolution, have provided us with the tools to accomplish our mission: an effective survival system (which includes ego) and a powerful sex drive. Everything is biased…

Opinions – Everybody’s got one

The most fatal illusion is the settled point of view. Since life is growth and motion, a fixed point of view kills anybody who has one. Certainty is an illusion. Absolute certainty is an illusion absolutely. In spite of, or maybe because of this, humans crave certainty. (Thus we create conditions which favour the arising of suffering). When we find a point of view (or one that was given to us as a child) which seems to work, we cling to it.   We might not like it to admit it, but the fact is that we are all close-minded, that is to say we already have a point of…

Do good without hate

The news, the internet and social media are full of do-gooders offering and calling for support for groups in society that are suffering. Unfortunately, not only are they busy offering support to the suffering but also busy hating those they believe responsible for that suffering. This is problematic. If you start to hate in support of a good cause then that good cause turns bad. This is self-righteousness in all its ugliness, feeding nothing but ego. No one who is happy creates suffering; only the unhappy do this. The fact is that no one is all good, neither all bad. We are like “pinto horses − a unique mix of…

Thank you to my true love

We are in the 30th year of our relationship and the 29th year of our marriage.  It has been quite a ride.  I want to share with you some of the things I have learned and to say thank you to Rhea. When I met Rhea I was divorced, living alone. Rhea lived opposite with two little girls aged four and two. My previous marriage (which lasted four years was doomed from the beginning: two people in pain with very limited emotional and self-awareness, hoping that the other would fill the emotional hole. I had already spent some six years seeking truth, connection, peace and happiness. I had already “woken…

February 14th St. Valentine’s Day some advice for falling in love

“Love is merely a madness; and, I tell you, deserves as well a dark house and a whip as madmen do; and the reason why they are not so punish'd and cured is that the lunacy is so ordinary that the whippers are in love too.” William Shakespeare We humans desire this “madness” like nothing else. It is probable we will all fall in love at some time in our lives. We can all remember our first “true love” whether that was at junior school, high school or university. The deliciousness of it, the new all-consuming sensations, the euphoria, pain, happiness, stress, desire, awe, connection and sometimes all at the…

ADOPT AN ATTITUDE OF GRATITUDE

Gratitude is the most effective investment that you can make in your own wellbeing, health and happiness. In terms of return on investment (effort versus result) there is no more effective attitude or practice to adopt, than that of gratitude. It gives us access to the joy and wonderment of life which in turn, are antidotes to feelings of scarcity and loss. It helps you meet life's difficulties with a more open heart ─ to simply meet life in each moment as it rises. We're told (particularly as children) to be grateful for our blessings or good fortune. This is an excellent idea but does not go far enough. We…

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