I find this guided meditation video helps me to focus on being aware of my breathing.
I came across this blog containing Russell Brand’s article about his views on the world revolution, capitalism and politics, which I find insightful in some places, such as the following excerpts:
“Suffering of this magnitude affects us all. We have become prisoners of comfort in the absence of meaning. A people without a unifying myth. Joseph Campbell, the comparative mythologist, says our global problems are all due to the lack of relevant myths. That we are trying to sustain social cohesion using redundant ideologies devised for a population that lived in deserts millennia ago. What does it matter if 2,000 years ago Christ died on the cross and was resurrected if we are not constantly resurrected to the truth, anew, moment to moment? How is his transcendence relevant if we do not resurrect our consciousness from the deceased, moribund mind of our obsolete ideologies and align with our conditions?
We now must live in reality, inner and outer. Consciousness itself must change. My optimism comes entirely from the knowledge that this total social shift is actually the shared responsibility of six billion individuals who ultimately have the same interests. Self-preservation and the survival of the planet. This is a better idea than the sustenance of an elite. The Indian teacher Yogananda said: “It doesn’t matter if a cave has been in darkness for 10,000 years or half an hour, once you light a match it is illuminated.” Like a tanker way off course due to an imperceptible navigational error at the offset we need only alter our inner longitude.
Capitalism is not real; it is an idea. America is not real; it is an idea that someone had ages ago. Britain, Christianity, Islam, karate, Wednesdays are all just ideas that we choose to believe in and very nice ideas they are, too, when they serve a purpose. These concepts, though, cannot be served to the detriment of actual reality.
The reality is we have a spherical ecosystem, suspended in, as far as we know, infinite space upon which there are billions of carbon-based life forms, of which we presume ourselves to be the most important, and a limited amount of resources.”
Yes, the sufferings of humanity affect us all, as we are all one and interconnected, which requires a new consciousness to be cultivated. I also agree capitalism, organised religions, social statuses and so on are just ideas rather than real as these do not define our true essence, and unfortunately they have resulted in much discrimination and marginalization in the world from those who use these concepts to oppress or look down on others who are not like them. A global paradigm shift is indeed essential for as many people as possible for the oppressors to change their ways, and for the oppressed to be liberated from the injustice.
Apart from his characteristic candid wit and satirical humor that critiques the self-serving ideologies of capitalism and politics, I appreciate some deep insights and observations Russell Brand shared in his article. It is interesting to note that socialism and egalitarianism, as well as a profound respect for the environment including forests, soils and rivers, are spiritual principles that form the basis of some ancient pagan and indigenous cultures, such as Celtic, Nordic and Native American cultures, as he described below.
“Throughout paganism one finds stories that integrate our species with our environment to the benefit of both. The function and benefits of these belief matrixes have been lost, with good reason. They were socialist, egalitarian and integrated. If like the Celtic people we revered the rivers we would prioritise this sacred knowledge and curtail the attempts of any that sought to pollute the rivers. If like the Nordic people we believed the souls of our ancestors lived in the trees, this connection would make mass deforestation anathema. If like the native people of America we believed God was in the soil what would our intuitive response be to the implementation of fracking?
Now there is an opportunity for the left to return to its vital, virile, vigorous origins. A movement for the people, by the people, in the service of the land. Socialism’s historical connection with spiritual principles is deep. Sharing is a spiritual principle, respecting our land is a spiritual principle. May the first, May Day, is a pagan holiday where we acknowledge our essential relationship with our land.”
I am aware from reading some online articles and discussions in the past that some detractors may say that if I favor socialism over capitalism, then I should not be using an iPhone or a computer or wearing imported clothes or eating imported food because these are products of capitalism, which supposedly encouraged innovation and globalism. After pondering about this for some time, I think my answer to these detractors would be that I am in the world but not of the world, as Jesus said, and it is possible to live in a paradoxical world as we all do. I believe Jesus would also have eaten food bought by his disciples from the markets that are monetary and capitalistic in nature, and travelled on fishing boats used for the fishing industry, and even though he used or consumed these products, he did not support the greed and competition behind capitalism as he often taught people that life does not consist of possessions as well as to love one’s neighbour, for whoever shows kindness to the least of the brethren is showing kindness to him. So in essence, Jesus was teaching and living a socialist way of life within a capitalistic system, as I come to realise, and perhaps we all today can endeavor to follow his footsteps in our own ways, as I am learning to do so. Indeed, like what Drew Sumrall said in his videos, we can take up our cross and follow Jesus, and live as though the system of the world does not exist.
My colleagues and I decided to catch a movie called “Gravity” earlier this afternoon, which is a surreal and suspenseful sci-fi thriller movie about a spacecraft survivor being lost in outer space far away from human touch before finally finding a way to return to earth. I find it a refreshingly meaningful and thought-provoking movie as it deals with our humanness, such as facing our fears of loneliness and death, and the movie was emotionally intense in some parts, and I appreciate and relate to its honest and authentic portrayal of our fragility and vulnerability in this vast and mostly unknown universe.
- Why Gravity has Gravitas (chrisbreuninger.wordpress.com)
- Gravity- A Perception about Life (blessedavaacharya.wordpress.com)
- Gravity (Movie) – Affect and Aesthetics (victoryangmdsa01.wordpress.com)
- Gravity, review
- One Small Step for “Gravity,” One Giant Leap for Film
- Gravity review
- Gravity might be hi-tech but it’s got an old soul
- How Did Gravity Do That? The Secrets Behind Its Groundbreaking Special Effects
I like what Max Strom wrote here in his book “A life worth breathing” about the rising popularity of yoga as a promising sign of the global awakening, bringing healing and unity around the world and challenging the consumerist culture.
“Many are turning to yoga not only to exercise, but also as an alternative to the experience of a spiritual gathering they cannot find in a church, synagogue, mosque, or on a website. The reason for this lies in the chief difference between religion and western yoga: Yoga is usually offered in a non-dogmatic format, which makes it inclusive as opposed to divisive.
Because of its message of healing, unity, and a simpler life, yoga may be one of the great rays of hope for our future.
It is my opinion that the shift we are witnessing is no less spontaneous, magnificent cultural/spiritual revolution. A new world culture is developing before our eyes at an astounding rate as yoga is being embraced…
One of the seminal messages of yoga is that we do not need a “bunch of stuff” to make us happy; instead yoga teaches that we already possess everything we need to be happy within ourselves… The corporate powers do not understand this movement, as corporate ideals are often diametrically opposed to this philosophy. There is no way to sell things to a populace that already feels it has everything it needs. How can you market the philosophy of non-materialism? Pleasure you can sell; joy you cannot.
For what we seek is within; and in yoga, this is where we dive headfirst.”
(From “A life worth breathing” by Max Strom)
Here’s adding to the excerpts I shared above from the book, which I find encouraging:
“In my view, the reason for yoga’s non-dogmatic approach to healing and spirituality is that the first purveyors of yoga who came to America wanted to make it more accessible for westerners, so they excluded much of the traditional spiritual components. What is fascinating is that even though their intention was probably self-serving, the unintended consequence was that students were led by the practice – without dogma – to a more pure spiritual practice. This is because yoga takes one’s spiritual life and vitality into one’s body, healing it while removing stress and pain.
Any yoga teacher in the world can attest that yoga is visibly de-stressing and healing countless people each day. This new wave of peace and tolerance can be felt rising, and not just in America; the wave has now stretched across the seas to Europe, the Far East, and the Middle East. International power cities like Hong Kong, Tokyo, Beijing, Singapore, Berlin, London, Istanbul and Tel Aviv all offer yoga classes in impressive yoga centers. Lives are being changed, relationships healed, and souls inspired to reach beyond themselves and into the possibility of a greater world through peace, non-dogmatic spirituality, and a joyous conscious life.”
(From “A life worth breathing” by Max Strom)
I think this may be why the status-conscious and consumerist-oriented Christian churches are trying to discourage their followers from taking yoga classes because when people realise their own divinity and experience peace and healing within, and when people unite as one around the world, there is no more need for tribal religions and no more dependence on weekly religious services to find peace and healing, which is bad news for these institutional churches but good news for the individuals who have found inner tranquility and freedom to think for themselves and be their authentic self.
“There is nothing to feel guilty about. It is immensely significant that the trees don’t listen to Catholic priests. Otherwise, they would make the roses feel guilty: ‘Why do you have thorns?’ And the rose, dancing in the wind, in the rain, in the sun, would suddenly become sad. The dance would disappear; the joy would disappear; the fragrance would disappear. Now the thorn would become its only reality, a wound – ‘Why do you have thorns?’
… The whole existence is guiltless. And the moment a person becomes guiltless, they become part of the universal flow of life. That is enlightenment, a guiltless consciousness, rejoicing in everything that life makes available: the light is beautiful; so is darkness.”
I absolutely agree that the whole existence is guiltless. Yes, enlightenment is a guiltless or guilt-free consciousness that rejoices in everything that life makes available, including light and darkness. I like what he said about trees and roses don’t listen to priests or the dance and joy and fragrance might disappear because it demonstrates the fact that Nature is non-religious, holistic and liberating, unlike organised religions that tend to be separatist, dogmatic and oppressive. That’s why I love Nature so much – there is joy, there is fragrance, there is freedom to be our authentic and unique self, and there is also a pleasant rest and quietude where we feel at one with Divine Love. I think that is why Jesus chose to retreat to the wilderness too, so as to find solace and peace from religious establishments and societal conditionings.
“There is an angst that can silently infest happiness just as there is a joy that can nestle secretly in sorrow” Peter Rollins
I can relate to the quote by Peter Rollins about the seemingly paradoxical co-existence of the two polarities of angst and happiness, or joy and sorrow, in our human experience. Yes, in reality, they are two sides of the same coin, like light and dark, or yin and yang, or rain and sunshine, or summer and winter; hence, we cannot have one without the other. Indeed, there can be no perfect happiness and there can be no utter sorrow, for every happiness is infested with a silent angst, just as every sorrow is infused with a secret joy. Such is the poetic and philosophical nature of our human experience, in which we touch happiness by embracing our sadness, and we touch sorrow by feeling our joy, in the multidimensionality of life and the fullness and authenticity of our humanity.