Category Archives: Opinions

Where Do Opinions Come From?

Have you ever had a very strong opinion about something even before finding the exact right words to express it?

It is an odd sensation. You have this very firm stance but no way to explain it. Not to anyone else, and not even to yourself. If someone else around you were to express an opinion on the same subject you would know right away whether or not you agreed with it, but still you can’t verbalize what your own view is. So my primary questions is this:

Where is this unexpressed opinion?

How does it exist at all without the words, or even the thoughts, to back it up? It is just this feeling you have. And there’s almost this yearning for it to be manifested. The longer you go without finding the words the more frustrated you become. You don’t even know what it is and your entire focus is on figuring out how to express it and share it with the world.

And as that opinion remains in existence only as a feeling, where did that feeling itself come from? It could be a reaction to some current event, but without a clear thought to guide the reaction, why did I react at all?

Ultimately, we usually find a way to express ourselves to our satisfaction. And oh, what a wonderful feeling it is! To be released from that burden of our unexpressed view of the world. Finally we can carry-on with our day to day lives. But the one lingering question that remains is:

Why do I cherish my opinions?

I must identify myself to some extent with the quality of my opinion. But in the same breath I must not be satisfied with my own judgment of its worth. Instead, I need to express it and receive that validation externally. That almost sums up a great deal of the blogging world. How much would I really blog if I received zero likes on every post?

It is one of the most persistent flaws in my character that I sometimes place the worthiness of my existence in the hands of others. But it is not so powerful now as I am obviously aware of it … to a certain degree.

Is there a place for opinion in the spiritual journey?

There is a zen saying “Do not seek the truth, just cease to cherish opinions.” It does not say to stop having opinions. Almost every spiritual teacher or guru that I have come across appears to have opinions about various things in the world. The one exception may be the great sage Ramana Maharshi who spent years in absolute silence during which time he produced no opinion of any sort.

However, I do think that while we dwell in this physical realm we need to gather as many opinions as possible and use them as guidance in our journey. There are obviously those whose opinion speaks more directly to our soul and we must listen to them intently. We must trust our feelings. Even that intense feeling that ultimately morphs into a verbalized opinion.

So I must tell myself that my opinion is not who I am, it is where I am. It is where I am mentally, spiritually, and physically. And it must be acknowledged and honored in order to move onto the next phase of my journey.

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Travelling At The Speed Of Truth

My mind was blown this morning when I found this article after googling “Why does time slow down at the speed of light?”

But it turns out that time doesn’t slow down at the speed of light, it doesn’t exist at all! The article goes on to say that “Everything in the Universe travels at light speed. Always.” Only it is our combined speed through both space and time that is considered. The faster you travel through space, the slower you travel through time.

I found another article on the topic of light speed that really got my mind melting. It’s a blog post on the site ‘Ask A Mathematician‘ Speaking about relativity it states the following:

“Whenever there’s a “time effect” there’s a “distance effect” as well, and in this case we find that infinite time dilation (no time for photons) goes hand in hand with infinite length contraction (there’s no distance to the destination).”

Since time and distance go hand in hand not only does the photon not experience time, it does not experience distance either!

From the perspective of the photon it is everywhere in the universe at the same time!

Wow.

Just wow.

If a photon does not experience time nor distance then they also could not have had a beginning. Photon’s must have always existed. And without a beginning, there will be no end. At least from the photon’s point of view. We may well see a big crunch (not literally of course), and then a subsequent big bang. But this can mean nothing to the eternal photon.

What exactly does it mean to not experience time? Does it mean to be frozen at a particular point in time? We have all heard the story of the man who left earth travelling near the speed of light for 3 months only to return and everyone is 50 years older. This seems to hint that time is getting compressed.

However, in the distance analogy above I inferred that to not experience distance means that the photon is everywhere. So if the photon does not experience time, is it not in every time rather than a single, infinitely compressed point?

In spirituality we often speak of the light of consciousness. It is that part of your true self that doesn’t experience time, and doesn’t experience distance, but it is the pure witness to both.

Is there a link between this light of consciousness and this eternal photon light described above or is this analogy meant purely metaphorically?

Perhaps they are mirrors of each other. As photon light illuminates the universe it is reflected as a form through perception within my consciousness. But does it do more than that?

To perceive an object, or form, the light first enters our eyes, shapes our minds, and then creates an image.

Think about it for a moment. This series of eternal photons that exist everywhere, and at every time, has penetrated our bodies and shaped our perception of absolutely everything!!!

This certainly hints at much bigger things about light than just physical properties. When Eckhart Tolle underwent his transformation one of his first realizations was that there was much more to light than we could ever imagine.

I am drawn to think that light may be the ultimate source of our true selves, of infinite wisdom, and of peace and joy. Jesus said “I am the light of the world”. And if he was, then we all must be.

Teleportation and Identity

I have often wondered what would happen to the self if we should ever invent the transporter. You know the one, ‘Beam me up Scotty’. Is it really the same me that materializes on the planet surface that was just on the transporter pad on the enterprise? The true self is spiritually described as the absence of content and since it is just the content that has been transported then the true self should be unaffected. Saying that I am not sure I would be ready to be beamed anywhere!

I did find an interesting article online about this topic and even though I disagree with their perspective, not to mention a misunderstanding of the buddha’s teachings, I wanted to share.

Here’s the link!

Interstellar and The Purpose Of Life (SPOILERS)

This weekend I had my bi-weekly afternoon reprieve from my parenting duties and decided to go see the latest Christopher Nolan film “Interstellar”. I found it to be an emotionally involving film laden with anxious moments and wonderful spectacles.

I had no idea what to expect when I saw this movie as I had heard very little about it. However, this is absolutely my preferred way of seeing a film. My own expectations seem to only negatively affect the watching experience. Bowling For Columbine & The Matrix are two others I have seen with limited prior knowledge and to this day remain two of my favorite films.

In Interstellar the Earth is dying and is unable to provide enough food for everyone on the planet. Corn is the only crop that continues to grow but it’s demise is still certain, if not immediate. What was once soil has turned to dust and is often thrown about in violent wind storms.

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) is a widower who works unwillingly as a farmer, because that’s what the planet needs, even though he is trained as a pilot and an engineer. Through a series of events that I will not detail here Cooper ends up at what is left of NASA and soon becomes part of the team charged with finding a new planet to live on.

Through sheer chance, or luck, or whatever, a wormhole has opened up on the other side of Saturn and it leads to three planets in a different galaxy that could be potential new homes for the current residents of planet earth. Coopers job is to lead a team there and decide which one is the best, if any. This mission will take years, if not decades, and Cooper is forced to leave his unforgiving daughter, Murphy, at home.

For me the relationship between Father and Daughter was the most engaging part of the story as they had a most powerful bond. But when a chance arose for Cooper to realize his true calling, the resentful farmer wasted little time in deciding to head for the stars. A decision that undoubtedly haunted him throughout the entire journey.

Time was a major theme touched on throughout the picture and played prominently in its most powerful scene. It involved a short visit to a planet orbiting just outside the event horizon of a black hole. In what was just a few short hours to those who went on the mission was experienced as 23 years on earth (and 23 years for the crew member who stayed on the ship). Cooper returned only to watch a backlog of video messages from earth tearfully watching his son grow up, get married, have kids, and to finally hear from his daughter who had now reached the age he was when he left. It was an incredibly powerful scene that made me want to run out of the theaters and go home and hug my daughters.

This was my learning point in the film. That no matter how noble your quest may be, even if it is to save the entire human race, if it takes you away from the people you love then it is not worth it. Love trumps all, even survival.

Another unavoidable takeaway from this film was how unique a place our planet earth is. To experience the vast emptiness of space as they sped towards Saturn watching the earth becomes smaller and smaller in the rear view mirror is overwhelming. I started to truly realize how incredible it is that we are on one of the rare places in the universe that is an absolute utopia. We could very well have to travel across many galaxies before finding another place like this.

I really enjoyed this film. I loved that it tackled some big questions, and offered up some equally big answers. The visuals provided of travelling through a wormhole or crossing into a black hole were astonishing. Go see it but don’t get the large pop as you won’t want to leave your seat.

Is Community Needed On A Spiritual Journey?

I currently have ZERO friends (please, don’t stop reading here) who are on a spiritual path like me.

It can be kind of a lonely place. Though I have never minded being alone. ‘Alone but not lonely’ my parents would often say.

I have been on this journey for almost three years and I have not yet had one meaningful, live conversation about spirituality. This blog is pretty much the only outlet I have for  discussion of the metaphysical.

I do pass along the occasional tidbit to my wife, if I think it can help her through the turmoil of PPD. But outside of that she is not like me. Even if I did find ‘The Power of Now’ on her bookshelf, she doesn’t have the same hunger for truth or meaning.

From time to time I have forced a conversation about spirituality and they have always been tortured experiences. I come off sounding incoherent with somewhat of a loose grip on reality. I am convinced that the beliefs of the person listening to me affect the depth of the words coming out of my mouth. Eckhart Tolle has said that when he is asked a question the depth of his answer depends on the depth of the question.

My question is this, do I need a spiritual community to deepen my spirituality?

So far my spiritual quest has consisted of reading books, reading interviews, watching YouTube videos, practicing yoga, meditation, and contemplation. And as frustrated as I may get, I ALWAYS feel like I am making progress. My understanding grows in clarity with each passing day.

As a side note my favorite ritual, by far, are my daily walks to a nearby park bench which lies under two mature maples, overlooking the Rideau river. I sit for about twenty minutes in attempted silence, or I ponder the latest spiritual tidbit I have come across. Today was especially beautiful (see the picture below looking up from the bench).

Looking Up

I am actually dreading the coming winter and being robbed of my routine by the bitter cold.

On some level I believe I am afraid of seeking out a local spiritual community on the basis that they may challenge certain beliefs that are currently giving me comfort. One of my greatest concerns on this spiritual path is coming across someone who believes they are enlightened, but actually aren’t, and they say something that shakes the very foundation of my beliefs.

I often been tempted to attend one of Eckhart Tolle’s retreats, though they timing isn’t great now with two kids under three. I wonder what the experience has been like for anyone who has attended. Has it been transformational? They say meeting a guru can greatly expedite a spiritual journey.

For the moment I will hold my course as it has served me well. But I am very interested in hearing any opinions you may have to offer.

True Strength And Depression

“Depression isn’t a sign of weakness, it’s a sign that you’ve been strong for too long.”

This is one of the most popular quotes on depression but it has me wondering, what does it really mean to be strong?

Culturally, strength is often associated with size, power, and aggression. But the concept of being strong in the face of depression has nothing to do with any of those. It is entirely an internal battle. One voice in your head says you’re worthless, and the other says you’re awesome. I would say that many people view strength here as carrying on with daily living even as the negative voice starts to completely drown out the positive.

Another purpose of this quote is to address the idea that people who are much less affected by adversity are much stronger than those who respond with anxiety and fear. The truth is that there are internal factors at play in every individual that no one can really understand. If that apparent strong individual had to listen to a persistent internal negative voice for 15 years they probably would not appear so resilient. But does that mean strength is the absence of negative self talk?

Perhaps, those that appear strong have just never been forced to discover the true depth of their strength.

So then what exactly is the depth of true strength? It can not be that unending desire to reinforce the positive in opposition to all of the negative. Yes it may work for a while but it seems like so much effort, especially for the one who is already in a weakened state. But in the realm of duality there is one very relevant, eternal truth at play. The idea of good creates the idea of bad, right creates wrong, happiness creates sadness. If you want to get rid of the negative voice forever, you also need to lose the positive voice.

This does not in any way mean giving up. But it is the beginning of a spiritual transformation. It is the realization that whatever your mind says is, for lack of a better word, horseshit. But you are not meant to stop your mind from thinking. You are simply meant to stop giving it authority.

When I observe the most spiritually transformed individuals on the planet they appear to be immune to the debilitating effects of depression, anxiety, & fear. Or in many cases it was the intolerable suffering from these conditions that created their transformation. And they didn’t achieve this state through any kind of superior strength. They simply took a step back from the fight and saw it all as just a play of the mind.

Could it be true that being strong actually causes depression?

If your strength response to a negative thought, is a more powerful positive thought, then this quickly turns into a runaway train of a stronger negative thought. So the next time someone tells you to stay strong in the face of suffering, smile at the beauty of their intent but know in your heart that strength is not the way. Instead stay quietly present in your belief that whatever your mind says has no authority over the definition of who you truly are. Your true strength appears when you offer no resistance to any thought that your mind creates.