“…He asked, “Where are you today, right now?”
Eagerly, I started talking about myself. However, I noticed that I was still being sidetracked from getting answers to my questions. Still, I told him about my distant and recent past and about my inexplicable depressions. He listened patiently and intently, as if he had all the time in the world, until I finished several hours later.
“Very well,” he said. “But you still have not answered my question about where you are.”
“Yes I did, remember? I told you how I got to where I am today: by hard work.”
“Where are you?”
“What do you mean, where am I?”
“Where Are you?” he repeated softly.
“Where is here?”
“In this office, in this gas station!” I was getting impatient with this game.
“Where is this gas station?”
“Where is Berkeley?”
“Where is California?”
“In the United States?”
“On a landmass, one of the continents in the Western Hemisphere. Socrates, I…”
“Where are the continents?
I sighed. “On the earth. Are we done yet?”
“Where is the earth?”
“In the solar system, third planet from the sun. The sun is a small star in the Milky Way galaxy, all right?”
“Where is the Milky Way?”
“Oh, brother,” I sighed impatiently, rolling my eyes. “In the universe.” I sat back and crossed my arms with finality.
“And where,” Socrates smiled, “is the universe?”
“The universe is well, there are theories about how it’s shaped…”
“That’s not what I asked. Where is it?”
“I don’t know – how can I answer that?”
“That is the point. You cannot answer it, and you never will. There is no knowing about it. You are ignorant of where the universe is, and thus, where you are. In fact, you have no knowledge of where anything is or of what anything is or how is came to be. Life is a mystery. My ignorance is based on this understanding. Your understanding is based on ignorance. This is why I am a humorous fool, and you are a serious jackass.”
1) “Look into their minds, at what the wise do and what they don’t.”
2) “Don’t let your imagination be crushed by life as a whole. Don’t try to picture everything bad that could possibly happen. Stick with the situation at hand, and ask, ‘why is this so unbearable? Why can’t I endure it?’ You’ll be embarrassed to answer.”
3) “God sees all our souls freed from their fleshly containers, stripped clean of their bark, cleansed of their grime. If you learn to do the same, you can avoid a great deal of distress.”
4) “You can discard most of the junk that clutters your mind—things that exist only there—and clear out space for yourself: —By comprehending the scale of the world. —By contemplating infinite time. —By thinking of the speed with which things change—each part of everything; the narrow space between our birth and death; the infinite time before; the equally unbounded time that follows.”
5) “Nothing that goes on in anyone else’s mind can harm you. Nor can the shifts and changes in the world around you. —Then where is harm to be found? —In your capacity to see it. Stop doing that and everything will be fine. Let the part of you that makes that judgment keep quiet no matter what the body attaches itself to.”
6) “The world is nothing but change. Our life is only perception.”
7) “Beautiful things of any kind are beautiful in themselves and sufficient to themselves. Praise is extraneous. The object of praise remains what it was—no better and no worse.—Is an emerald suddenly flawed if no one admires it???”
8) “Pride is a master of deception: when you think you’re occupied in the weightiest business, thats when he has you in his spell.”
9) “Things are wrapped in such a veil of mystery that many good philosophers have found it impossible to make sense of them. Even the stoics have trouble. Any assessment we make is subject to alteration—just as we are ourselves.”
10) “That nothing belongs to anyone. Children, body, life itself—all of them come from the same source.”
11) “Characteristics of the rational soul: Self-perception, self-examination, and the power to make of itself whatever it wants. —It reaps its own harvest. —It reaches its intended goal, no matter where the limit of its life is set. No matter which task you pick-it has fulfilled its mission, done its work completely. So that it can say, ‘I have what I came for.’—
—It surveys the world and the empty space around it, and the way its put together. It delves into the endlessness of time to extend its grasp and comprehension of the periodic births and rebirths the world goes through. It knows that those who come after us will see nothing different, and those who came before us saw no more than we do.—Affection for its neighbors. Truthfulness. Humility. Not to place anything above itself.”
12) “Give yourself a gift: the present moment.”
13) “If you can cut yourself—your mind—free of what other people do or say, of what you’ve said or done, of the things that you’re afraid will happen, the impositions of the body that contains you and the breath within, so the mind is freed from fate, brought to clarity, and lives life on its own recognizance—doing what’s right, accepting what happens, and speaking the truth—
—If you can cut free of impressions that cling to the mind, free of the future and the past—can make yourself ‘a sphere rejoicing in its perfect stillness’ And concentrate on living what can be lived (The present moment) —-then you can spend the time you have left in tranquility. And in kindness. And at peace with the spirit within you.”
14) “Alexander and Caesar and Pompey. Compared with Diogenes, Heraclitus, Socrates?? The philosophers knew the what, the why, the how. Their minds were their own. —The others?? Nothing but anxiety and enslavement.”
15) “People ask, have you ever seen the gods you worship? How can you be sure they exist? Answers—Just look around….I’ve never seen my soul either, and yet I revere it —I Know they exist because I’ve felt their power over and over.”
16) “So keep this refuge in mind: the back roads of your self. Above all, no strain and no stress. Be straightforward. Look at things like a man, like a human, like a mortal.”
17) “External things are not the problem. It’s your assessment of them. Which you can erase right now.”
18) “So too a healthy mind should be prepared for anything. The one that keeps saying ‘Are my children all right?’ Or ‘everyone must approve of me’ is like eyes that can only stand pale colors, or teeth that can handle only mush.”
19) “Wash yourself clean. With simplicity, with humility, with indifference to everything but right and wrong.”
20) “Don’t be disturbed. Un-complicate yourself. Something happens to you. Good. It was meant for you by nature, woven into the pattern from the beginning.”
21) “Pray for others and pray not to feel fear, or desire, or grief… —Isn’t it better to do what’s up to you?? Like a free man! —Start praying like this and you’ll see.
—Not “some way to sleep with her” but a way to stop wanting to.
—Not “some way to get rid of him” but a way to stop trying.
—Not “some way to save my child” but a way to lose your fear.
REDIRECT your prayers like that, and watch what happens.”
22) “I am part of a world controlled by nature. I have a relationship with other, similar parts. And with that in mind I have no right, as a part, to complain about what is assigned me by the whole. Because what benefits the whole can’t harm the parts, and the whole does nothing that doesn’t benefit it.”
23) “And why is it so hard when things go against you? If it’s imposed by nature, accept it gladly and stop fighting it. And if not, work out what your own nature requires, and aim at that, even if it brings you no glory.”
24) “That no one can say truthfully that you are not a straightforward or honest person. That anyone who thinks that believes a falsehood. The responsibility is all yours; no one can stop you from being honest or straightforward. Simply resolve not to go on living if you aren’t. It would be contrary to the logos.”
25) “Four habits of thought to watch for, and erase from your mind when you catch them. Tell yourself:
—This thought is unnecessary.
—This one is destructive to the people around you.
—This wouldn’t be what you really think.
—That the more divine part of you has been beaten and subdued by the degraded mortal part—the body and its stupid self-indulgence.”
26) “Because to be drawn toward what is wrong and self-indulgent, toward anger and fear and pain, is to revolt against nature. And for the mind to complain about anything that happens is to desert its post. It was created to show reverence-respect for the divine—no less than to act justly.”
27) “If this evil is not of my doing, nor the result of it, and the community is not endangered, why should it bother me? Where is the danger for the community?”
28) “As you move forward in the logos, people will stand in your way. They can’t keep you from doing what’s healthy; don’t let them stop you from putting up with them either. Take care on both counts. Not just sound judgments, solid actions—tolerances as well, for those who try to obstruct us or give us trouble in other ways.”
29) “It’s normal to feel stress and pain as a human, as a normal human being. And if it’s normal how can it be bad?”
30) “That it’s about how you choose to see things. That the present is all we have to live in. Or to lose.”
31) “If the problem is you’re not doing something you think you should be doing, why not just do it?”
32) “The mind in itself has no needs, except for those it creates itself. Is undisturbed, except for its own disturbances. Knows no obstructions, except those from within.”
33) “Keep in mind that when the mind detaches itself and realizes its own nature, it no longer has anything to do with ordinary life-the rough & the smooth.”
34) “Stop perceiving the pain you imagine and you’ll remain completely unaffected.”
35) “Comparing a man who people are mocking and a spring of clear water: —”A man standing by a spring of clear, sweet water and cursing it. While the fresh water keeps on bubbling up. He can shovel mud into it, or dung, and the stream will carry it away, wash itself clean, remain unstained. — To have that. NOT A CISTERN BUT A PERPETUAL SPRING. — HOW?? BY WORKING TO WIN YOUR FREEDOM. HOUR BY HOUR. THROUGH PATIENCE, HONESTY, HUMILITY.”
36) “You need to avoid certain things in your train of thought: everything random, everything irrelevant. And certainly everything self-important or malicious. Get used to winnowing your thoughts so you aren’t ashamed of what you’re thinking.”
37) “The first step: Don’t be anxious. Nature controls it all. And before long you’ll be no one, nowhere—like Hadrian, like Augustus.
The second step: Concentrate on what you have to do. Fix your eyes on it. Remind yourself that your task is to be a good human being. Then do it, without hesitation, and speak the truth as you see it. But with kindness. With humility. Without hypocrisy.”
38) “People try to get away from it all—to the country, to the beach, to the mountains. You always wish that you could too. Which is idiotic: you can get away from it anytime you like….By going within. Nowhere you can go is more peaceful-more free of interruptions- than you own soul An instants recollection and there it is: complete tranquility (think of pleasant memories). A quick visit to this mindful place will be enough to ward off all nonsense and send you back ready to fave what awaits you.”
39) “The mind without passions is a fortress. No place is more secure. Once we take refuge there we are safe forever. Not to see this is ignorance. To see it and not seek safety means misery.”
How much time do you spend in your mind?
I have spent quite a bit of time in my mind, and have realized that I am more fully alive when I am NOT living in my mind.
It’s good to rationalize and make the best choices you can, but it’s even better when you can make those choices without thinking too much. This takes practice…
Would you like to live a more present life, being more in the moment & less in your thoughts?
“The birth of the mind is the death of the senses,” says Dan Millman, but it is by living through our senses that make us feel most alive. This is why many people drink alcohol or do drugs; it is because they want to escape their thoughts & live more in the present moment. Well you can reach this state of mind without the use of drugs or alcohol.
So how can we get back to living through our senses in a healthy way?
Through Mindfulness Meditation: Defined as “Paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
We live in a world where distractions are all around us. The cell phones we carry with us at all times may be our biggest distraction; they have the ability to make you anticipate a text or call, bring you social media updates, or give you some “important” news. I keep my phone on silent 90% of the time and have most of my notifications turned off. I rarely watch the news because most of it is there to put fear into its watchers.
So in this World of technology & constant distractions, how can we make time for practicing Mindfulness Meditation?
To begin, you don’t need to make time for practicing Mindfulness Meditation. You can practice it in the morning as you wake up, on your commute to work, during work, and at any moment during your day.
Example of practicing Mindfulness Meditation:
It is nice to take a specific amount of devoted time for Mindfulness Meditation, but when you are just beginning you should try to practice it within your already established daily routines. The next time you are commuting to work, practice observing the things around you. Get into your senses. Don’t think about what you are seeing, see. Don’t think about what you are hearing, hear. Don’t think about what you are feeling, feel. Don’t think about what you are smelling, smell. Taste.
Don’t label the traffic as “good” or “bad,” allow it to be as it is; see it & hear it. Don’t label the weather or other drivers, just observe them, letting go of your thoughts & tapping into your senses. It’s simple, but we make it difficult.
As you practice this, there will be a tendency for thoughts to arise, and they will. Be patient with your thoughts. Hear them in your head and then go back to observing. Take a deep breath when needed, putting your focus on your breath and then your surroundings, free of judgment.
“Turn on, tune in, drop out,” said Timothy Leary. There are many interpretations of this, but it can also relate to Mindfulness Meditation as you are dropping your thoughts & tuning in to your senses.
“You’ve become bored to things because they exist only as names to you. The dry concepts of mind obscure your direct perception.” Dan Millman
Millman also discusses this state of mind as Satori, “which is the warrior’s state of being; it occurs when the mind is free of thought, pure awareness; the body is active, sensitive, relaxed, and the emotions are open and free.”
Reading Dan Millmans, Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, has helped me get more into this mindset.
Getting into the present moment helps us stop dwelling on past thoughts, and to stop anticipating the future. Millman says, “Stay in the present. You can do nothing to change the past, and the future will never come exactly as you plan or hope for. The warrior is here, now. Your sorrow, your fear & anger, regret & guilt, your envy and plans and cravings live only in the past, or in the future.”
Overall Mindfulness Meditation is when you look at everything surrounding you without labeling it or judging it. You don’t look around & think “I see a chair, a cup of water, a tree. I’m tired. I need more money.” You just sit and observe, letting go of thoughts as they arise. This requires practice as all great things do, but it can be done! You don’t need to drink that 6 pack of Bud Light each night to relax. Dilly dilly. Drink in moderation sure, but this mindfulness practice can help you live more fully in a healthier way.
Again, don’t judge your thoughts as they arise, be patient with them.
The more you practice this, the more awake and alive you will feel throughout your days. You can practice Mindfulness Meditation wherever you are, and I highly encourage you to practice it everywhere.
Use your thinking mind when you need to take appropriate action, and then take action & live in the moment. Choose to pay attention to your surroundings on purpose. Stop letting your phantom mind drag you backwards. Don’t believe everything you think, we are often wrong anyway. Practice Mindfulness Meditation throughout your day. It won’t always be easy, but you have a choice.
“Old urges continue to arise, but urges do not matter; only actions do. A warrior is as a warrior does…Action always happens in the present, because it is an expression of the body, which can only exist in the here and now. But the mind is like a phantom that lives only in the past or future. It’s only power over you is to draw your attention out of the present.” Millman
Some of the answers to our biggest question are found not in thinking more, but in thinking less. In being in touch with your senses, you are able to live fully.
Let us get back to our natural and blissful way of living. Regain your curiosity for life. Learn & observe all things.
“There is no path to happiness. Happiness is the path. There is no path to love. Love is the path. There is no path to peace. Peace is the path.” Millman
“My name doesn’t matter; neither does yours. What is important is what lies beyond names and beyond questions.” Millman
I encourage you to listen to and read anything from Dan Millman, Alan Watts, Ram Dass, Eckhart Tolle, Jon Kabat-Zinn, Thich Nhat Hanh & all the many other teachers of living a fuller & happier life in the present moment. You can read a summary of Way Of The Peaceful Warrior, by Dan Millman, by Clicking Here.
Let me know how you practice mindfulness! I love connecting with like minded individuals.
Crazy that I’ve already been in Colorado for a month. Time goes by fast when you’re living life to the fullest! —My car ride seemed like it took a whole month to get here; although it was less than 24 hours. Anyway here is what I have been up to the past few weeks:
During my third week in Denver I moved into my new apartment! No more sleeping on a couch. The hot tub and pool at the apartment complex were some big deciding factors, even though they are being renovated currently and I haven’t used them yet! So I moved all my stuff into the apartment, chatted with the new roommates-they are super chill and awesome. I also went to an orientation for substitute teaching after hours of paperwork to get there. I was outside most of the week really just hanging out with friends and enjoying the week before I started teaching. The weekend was fun, and then I began teaching during my 4th week here.
Monday I taught at a pretty rough school. I have previously been working with juvenile delinquents so I thought that teaching at all these schools would be a breeze…not so much. I taught freshman Biology that Monday and these freshman definitely challenged me and tested my patience but I made it through the day. Tuesday I taught a French middle school class. They were filled with sooo much energy-The classroom got loud, so I got a little loud back. Wednesday was amazing! I worked as a physical education teacher and the school does “team teaching” where some teachers work together for the lessons. This made classes very easy and the day flew by. Thursday as a middle school math teacher was okay; some classes were great and some weren’t. Friday I was a math teacher at the school I was at on Monday so I was ready for chaos, but since it was a different class with different students it wasn’t bad. Only one class was out of pocket. Substitute teachers experience all sorts of interesting situations throughout the day, and I was already beginning to experience these things. Overall it was a decent first week of teaching.
My 5th week and 2nd week of teaching here…This week was a lot better than last week as far as teaching goes. Monday I taught gym at an Elementary school and it was awesome. I got to play basketball and other sports with the students as we jammed out to music. Tuesday and Wednesday I was a floater. They needed me as a 4th grade teacher on Tuesday-I was not the happiest about this, but I do what they need me to do. The kids were crazy. Wednesday was okay. I taught another loud group of students, but I did get to leave early so that was awesome. I went to a park after school and played some football with a friend. Thursday was the best day of the week for teaching!! I was a high school gym teacher and the students listened and behaved so well. I was at a great school and I got to run and workout with students in each class. The teacher I was subbing for had a prep period at the end of the day so I got to leave a little early again! Good times. Friday was a good day too. I was a math teacher at a pretty good school and some of the kids had really funny jokes. I laughed a lot during the first period class.
A few things I have learned while working with students: Be patient, listen, and from the start make sure they know what rules and expectations they should follow.
In my free time I have been reading, writing, playing Fifa with friends, going to parks, working out, and I bought a new laptop!
“I think people who are creative are the luckiest people on earth. I know that there are no shortcuts, but you must keep your faith in something greater than you, and keep doing what you love. Do what you love, and you will find the way to get it out to the world.”