Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013


Fight fight fight.  I have been going through a lot of weird stuff lately.  Mostly positive, but also some challenges.  Work has been very busy and stressful.  And yet, I still love my job.  I love my job so much.  I thank the universe every day for the fact that I like my job, because it really is a huge blessing.  I only hope that I can really contribute to my company and help take it to the next level, because we really could get huge.

Lately I've been thinking a lot about how little I know.  From the very big, macrocosmic-level issues...does life have meaning, do I have a destiny, am I somehow the architect of my own reality...to the very small, day-to-day issues...is it right to do this or that, am I taking care of everything on my to-do list, I am keeping myself healthy...there's just so much uncertainty in life.  And it seems like there really is no way to know.


Life is always going to be overwhelming for all of us I think.  Or at least, it will be if you are paying attention.  The thing to do is just to let yourself be overwhelmed.  It's hard to do that because we want to be in control.  Evolution and nature and culture puts pressure on us to fight, and to win.  But ultimately you can't win, per se.  Technology may help us transcend our current, physical limitations, perhaps.  But there are just too many huge forces beyond our control.  We're all mortal, for the time being.  So if you just relax, let yourself be overwhelmed, then you can sort of be free.

That's not to say that we should give up.  Letting yourself be overwhelmed is not that at all.  It just means that you're not fighting reality.  You're just doing your best without resisting what is.

Fight fight fight, but also let things be.

Monday, October 14, 2013


I will not dwell on weaknesses or mistakes.
I will accept them, learn from them, and then move on.
I will dwell on change and improvement.
I will accept that I can change, and that I will change.
I will respect the feelings of others.  I will respect that I am just one part of a greater system.
I will never tolerate weaknesses or excuses from myself.  I will not accept limitations as being permanent or greater than my own ability to overcome them.
I will accept moments as they come.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Zen: a Word that Cannot be Translated

I realized today that I love "zen" as a concept for much the same reason that I love "zen" as a word.  It is a word that cannot be translated.  Similarly, it is a concept that cannot be explained.  It's this perfectly unique, mental, philosophical, and even physical, key.  Thinking beyond thinking.  Would love to write more on this, but tons of work to be done.

Sunday, October 6, 2013


Always flux.  Emotional.  Physical.  Financial.  Sometimes it's hard not to feel that the tides of life are dizzying in the speed and variation of their swell and depth.

I've been pretty productive lately.  It's been a good feeling, making progress.  At the same time, the same old challenges remain.  Personal doubts, anxieties, weaknesses.  How do I crush them?  The goal is clear, but the path is not.  Time flies by, and who you were changes into you are, again and again, every moment.

I'm burning with this fuel.  I need to improve myself.  I need to take what I am train it, constrain it, teach it how to be perfectly ready.  And I need to improve the world around me.

I'm tired.  I need a vacation from being me.  But the responsibilities and obligations are always there.  Maybe a Zen master would say that we are not separate from our responsibilities and obligations.  Of course we are separate, but we are also not separate.  If you did not have your so-called problems, you would not be you.  You would be like water dissipating into the air if you did not have some rocks and sand to bounce off of and flow around.  Our very existence is energy bouncing off energy, and it gives you the illusion of everything that you see, everything that you are.  So do not fight your existence.

Go.  Go.  Go.

Fight.  Fight.  Fight.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Checking In

But what am I checking into?  With whom?  I'm very slowly getting my life together, but as fast as some things get taken off my to-do list, 10 more get added on.  Or at least that's what it feels like.  I'd love to write a lot right now, but alas, I need to sleep.  I need to be better in many ways.



Thursday, June 27, 2013


I was, relatively, super productive today.  But I still feel so far away from accomplishing the things that I actually want.  That's a tough feeling to deal with.  I even meditated not that long ago, which usually helps me clear away some of this angst.  Ironically, I was talking with my colleague today about how important it is not to set expectations for ourselves that are too high, and yet I'm doing that right now.

Stay strong.  Fight fight fight.  Go go go.  Be awesome.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013


It's been a while.  Life is, in general, on an upswing.  I moved into a new apartment with my old friend.  My new job has been going great, seemingly.  The funny thing is now I have a lot to lose.  If I somehow lost my job, I would be in very hot water, as I'd have to find a way to pay my debts and my rent.  So, yeah, really hoping this continues working out.

This morning I was not feeling super great.  I was in a negative thought spiral.  Interestingly, I just started berating myself about these negative thoughts.  How can you be so negative? I chided myself.  Why don't you focus on what you DO have going for you instead of what you don't?  And that basically did the trick, I started focusing on the truth of my position in life.  My life might not be anywhere close to how I want it to be, but, realistically, whose is?  My life is really good at this point in time.

That being said, I know that I do need to improve.  I need to improve a lot.  I'm not being responsible with my money or my time.  I work hard and I'm not a complete wreck, but my goal is to be very productive outside of work and I'm usually far from it.  Maybe it's not realistic...I imagine most people have an innate need for several hours of relaxation/cool-down time after 8+ hours of work and however many hours of commuting.  Work is stressful.  But I bet there is a way to tune/calibrate one's behaviors and mindset such that productivity outside of work can be rewarding.  It probably all boils down to routines and rules.

It's tough to know how hard I should be on myself.  I'm worried that my Chinese, which was going really strong, is starting to regress heavily (again).  Another thing to add to my list of routines to build.  Sigh.

Anyway, good to get some thoughts down in print again.  It's weird how forming raw emotion into something that is regulated by spelling and grammar is kind of therapeutic.

I need to remind myself to keep improving.  Keep being productive.  Turn yourself into one of the world's most amazing people.  Don't let others slow you down or encourage bad habits.  Be brilliant.  Be awesome.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Overwhelmed...and Life after Non-Existence

I feel very overwhelmed.  There's just too much of everything.  I guess I need to go for a walk.

Edit: Before I let it slip my mind, here's one thing I was thinking about the other day.

I was watching some videos about atheism and hell, and the speaker said that he didn't believe in hell (for good reasons), and that he believes that after we die, "nothing happens."

In terms of how "normal" people seem to classify various ideologies, I think I'm closer to being an atheist than a theist, but actually I consider myself to be a "pantheist".  I'm not sure I believe anything "happens" after we die, but I find it strange when people think that science provides no evidence for life after death.

I think a lot of people who consider themselves atheists and who believe that nothing happens after we die would think it's fair to say that, after death, we are non-existent.  So we are alive/we exist, and then we do not.  But this presents (in my view), a problem, because they would presumably also say that we are non-existent before we born.  So there is a period of non-existence, and then we do exist.  And that is exactly what they are saying they think is impossible.

There is evidence of life after non-existence.  We are all living that evidence right now.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Summon Conviction

Massive change, yet again.  Apparently I'm getting pretty good at completely altering my life with very quick decisions.  Whether or not those alterations lead to net positives remains to be seen, although it sure feels good so far.

Now I'm dealing with brutal jet lag, a lack of closet space, and a little bit of a lack of structure.  I need to focus, and restart some good habits that I've let slip.

Go, go, go.

Even if you feel hesitant to do something challenging, even if you think you need to rest, you can't let your drive wane.

Fight, fight, fight.

Accept what must be accepted, but never let the fire inside you become too faint.  If it does, you have to work hard to restore it.

Be awesome.

Monday, March 25, 2013


I've had a ton of thoughts/ideas that I've wanted to write here, but alas, at the moment they've all slipped away.  I remember some of them being quite profound (relatively), but I guess without writing them down, sometimes even deep and powerful thoughts can pass without leaving an imprint.

Of course, a lot of those thoughts came when I was in bed, falling asleep.  And I know I'm not the first person to notice that some of life's most interesting thoughts come at the time when it is most challenging to get up and write them down.

That being said, just now I was thinking about the idea of "enlightenment."  A lot of Buddhist stories/lore talk about how certain koans, paradoxical statements, or simple events caused famous Buddhists to "become enlightened."  I'm not sure to what extent this corresponds to the idea of "satori."  Thinking about these moments though, led me to remember a time when I was on a subway in a very terrible city.  The subway was crowded and frustrating, and so I had taken to trying to meditate while standing in the crowded space.  After weeks of these attempts, a moment struck where I seemed to break through a ton of mental barriers all at once.  The subway doors opened and I stepped out into a very beautiful and amazing world.  I couldn't stop myself from laughing and smiling at everything, even though only hours earlier I had felt that the city was awful and my life quite challenging.  It truly felt like I had connected with some deeper part of myself that was normally dormant.  The feeling lasted for several hours, but the experience made a huge impression on me about the nature of reality.

Just now, revisiting that memory, it almost felt like that state of mind/being was just around the corner yet again.  This makes me wonder if that perspective is always waiting for us somewhere, waiting for us to change our thoughts in just the right way so that the universe opens up.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


My friends invited me to go do something fun with them tonight.  As usual, I turned them down.  It's tough because I know they think I'm a flake or that I'm aloof or something.  I want to have friends and I want to have fun, but the reality is I am totally in debt and totally need a better job.

So I sacrifice.

It's really tough, but if I can't have friends or do fun things until I get my life under control, so be it.  I don't have the luxury of time or money.  I've been doing a lot of job interviews lately, and working hard to get out of the mess that I'm in.

In 10 years' time, having pulled myself out of poverty by working hard and making sacrifices will give my life meaning (assuming I don't get hit by a bus).  In 10 years' time, having spent many an evening playing video games and drinking beer with my friends probably will not.

Don't be discouraged by giving up that which you want.  Animal urges do not take precedence over self-cultivation and productivity.

You know the path you are on, and others do not.  Stay on the path you have chosen for yourself.

Go, go, go.
Fight, fight, fight.

Be awesome.

Monday, March 18, 2013


aside from chance, committing to a tough decision seems to be the biggest catalyst for massive change.  one email just altered my entire work schedule and workload drastically.  moral of the story: have the courage to do what your instincts tell you.

Saturday, February 23, 2013


Today someone told me following:

"We all search for [the monomyth], you more explicitly than anyone else i know."

For those of you who haven't heard of it, it is a formula described by a man named Joseph Campbell, and it is purported to underlie many of the narratives in human culture:A hero ventures forth from the world of common day into a region of supernatural wonder: fabulous forces are there encountered and a decisive victory is won: the hero comes back from this mysterious adventure with the power to bestow boons on his fellow man.Campbell and other scholars, such as Erich Neumann, describe narratives of Gautama Buddha, Moses, and Christ in terms of the monomyth and Campbell argues that classic myths from many cultures follow this basic pattern.

It is mind-blowing to me that anyone could think I am searching for this pattern more explicitly than anyone else they know. I have never considered myself to be in search of it. But after he said it to me, I felt that I do resonate with the notion...that I'm searching for it, not that I should be searching for it more than anyone else.

I often wonder how often other people are "searching" for something. I suppose I often wonder whether or not I am actually searching for anything.


I like Buddhism. In some ways. But I find that I'm becoming somewhat disillusioned with a lot of the "spiritual" teachers out there. To me, talk of "dissolving problems" or "interacting with the universe lovingly" is often little more than flowery snake oil. I think it is important, if one is "pursuing" Zen, or whatever it is that we do, to not get caught up in what I call "rich people Zen." I do not think being Zen is about being comfortable or happy. Being comfortable and happy may be a side product of Zen, sometimes. But I like to think (not trying to liberate myself from the addiction to thought, of course) that even if my life somehow became horrible, such as by being trapped in a prison cell or being the victim of some horrible disaster, that Zen would still "be there", even while living in agony. And I guess that's part of my whole qualm with these people. It is impossible to even talk about Zen, because it is separate from words and ideas. It includes words and ideas, but it is also separate from them. So to say something like "your problems no longer exist when you understand Zen," or anything like that, is not what it's about.

I think this quote from Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind does a better job of addressing it than I can:

Dogen-zenji said, “Although everything has Buddha nature, we love flowers, and we do not care for weeds.” This is true of human nature. But that we are attached to some beauty is itself Buddha’s activity. That we do not care for weeds is also Buddha’s activity. We should know that. If you know that, it is all right to attach to something. If it is Buddha’s attachment, that is non-attachment. So in love there should be hate, or non-attachment. And in hate there should be love, or acceptance. Love and hate are one thing. We should not attach to love alone. We should accept hate. We should accept weeds, despite how we feel about them. If you do not care for them, do not love them; if you love them, then love them.

Usually you criticize yourself for being unfair to your surroundings; you criticize your unaccepting attitude. But there is a very subtle difference between the usual way of accepting and our way of accepting things, although they may seem exactly the same. We have been taught that there is no gap between nighttime and daytime, no gap between you and I. This means oneness. But we do not emphasize even oneness. If it is one, there is no need to emphasize one.


Lately I've been wondering if seemingly unrelated aspects of life can influence each other. For example, could it be that the universe is somehow watching us? Logically I think no, but I feel that I could never be certain. Perhaps that's a side effect of my Catholic childhood. Or maybe it's just human nature to question that. I guess another quote from ZMBM is appropriate here as well:

If someone is watching you, you can escape from him, but if no one is watching, you cannot escape from yourself.

I guess ultimately we can never separate ourselves from the universe, and we are always watching ourselves. So this universe is always watching us as well. But still, does this answer my question of whether or not seemingly unrelated aspects of life influence each other?


Go, go, go.
Fight, fight, fight.
Be awesome.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Fascinating Articles on Self-Control







With this breath, I accept the truth.
With this breath, I let go of that which will go.
With this breath, I take hold of that which will be held.


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Bell Rings Through the Forest

As I watch the world change,
Clouds are born and dissipate,
Mountains grow and crumble away,
A bell rings,
Its reverberations cut through moments like a sharpened blade.
The clear forest air fills with solidity.

Monday, January 21, 2013


I went with some friends to a Buddhist temple the other day.  They just came to look around, but I went with the intention of meditating.  It's a pretty magnificent temple, and I find that it's a little easier to clear my mind there.  While I was meditating, my friends continued to walk around, and I wondered, briefly, what they thought about my interest in meditation.  At that moment it struck me, although not for the first time, that meditation has deeply changed my life, and that there is as much to explore in the "world" of meditation as there is in the physical world that we traverse with our feet.

Lately I can tell that my mental world (mindscape?) is somewhat pocked by adverse thoughts.  In a sense, I feel that a new creature has come to life inside of me, or rather that some primitive, previously dormant creature has awakened.  Of course, the feelings themselves are not completely new, but I haven't felt that they were so strong or influential in a long time.  It is bizarre because I can sense that these thoughts are somehow able to manipulate other thoughts into supporting them.  It's as if I can view reality through my "normal" lens or this relatively new, reawakened one...and sometimes the reawakened lens can move itself into a position of primacy.

The challenge arises when I consider the question of what should be.  Should I resist these thoughts?  Should I embrace them?

Shunryu Suzuki:

"So whether or not you attain enlightenment, just to sit in zazen is enough.  When you try to attain enlightenment, then you have a big burden on your mind.  Your mind will not be clear enough to see thing as they are.  If you truly see things as they are, then you will see things as they should be.  On the one hand, we should attain enlightenment—that is how things should be.  But on the other hand, as long as we are physical beings, in reality it is pretty hard to attain enlightenment—that is how things actually are in this moment.  But if we start to sit, both sides of our nature will be brought up, and we will see things both as they are and as they should be.  In the emptiness of our original mind they are one, and there we find our perfect composure."

Part of me is tempted to say that these adverse thoughts don't really matter.  My external behavior will remain mostly the same no matter what.  But I think it is delusion if I tell myself that they don't matter.  While they may in truth be beyond wrong or right, my thoughts are what matter most in my life, and it is extremely important that I watch them and understand them.

Monday, January 14, 2013

_ / | \ _

sameness and difference are the same
difference and sameness are different

Sunday, January 13, 2013


One of the most interesting changes in my personality over the last couple years is that I have a greater ability/tendency to restrain myself, mentally and interpersonally.  Probably this is due in part (or entirely) simply to age...I've read that frontal cortex development has a lot to do with impulse control and restraint, and that this development continues well into our 20s (a decade which I'm currently in).

I wonder how much of this change is also due to my life experience, or to my recent increase in meditation.  Lately, I often feel some emotional urge to do or say something, but it's like there is an animal in my mind which is trying to become "me."  Whereas before I had no ability to distinguish between my "self" and this component thereof, I now realize that these emotional urges are just one form of my being.

Of course, I'm not always able to resist.  Many things still cause me to lose my self-awareness.  Working, joking, socializing often obscure my ability to distinguish between canvas and painting, and when that happens my emotions have easy access to my behavior.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Hello Again

Dear Universe,

Long time no write.  I'm in an unusual state of mind...although at the moment it feels like this is actually my normal state of mind and I've just returned from an extended vacation.  I'm somewhat torn between writing down my thoughts and making a video journal entry.  Although I don't share those, I feel like the act of writing and the act of speaking offer introspective journeys that differ a bit in terms of which corners of one's psyche are explored....but it's been a long time since I've written my own thoughts down, and I think there's some innate part of me that feels compelled to transmit itself directly from brain to text.

Rereading my own words just now, I was, at first, momentarily perplexed...how could it be that it's been "so long" since I've written "my own thoughts"?  Is it not the case that I am constantly writing my thoughts through emails, texts, facebook messages, etc?  In a sense yes and in a sense no, of course.  Context is everything.  The "me" that writes here is not the "me" of the text message, or the "me" email.  This is some separate existence.

As I walked home, my mind churning through thought after pointless, trivial thought, I suddenly had a moment of clarity...(aaaaaand this is where I start to battle my own urge to over-think, and second-guess...when you start considering multiple angles, you realize that sometimes there is both truth and falsity to many of the things we say, and that the only way you can avoid saying something contrary is to avoid saying [or writing, in this case] anything at all.  I have to resist that urge;  just go and refine later)...so, as I was saying: walking home.  Moment of clarity.

This particular moment of clarity was especially interesting because it was about itself.  It was not a thought, at first, it was simply a shift in my perception of reality.  And shift seems to be a particularly perfect word to collocate with perception:  for one thing, for me, one of the most difficult (and perhaps ironic) aspects of meditation or my own watchfulness of this existence is that, on some level, I know I should not be trying to attain some idea.  Unfortunately, although I have constant encouragement, it is too easy to trick myself....(and....self-battle moment...a glimpse of a potentially negative thought spiral:  how do I know that I'm not still tricking myself right now?  "Oh this is delusion."  )  It is too easy to tell yourself that you're not trying to attain something, but sometimes the self that you're telling isn't really listening (of course, it is still good to try.  Sometimes I can let go and it is great.  Maybe not "great" per se, but it is something).  But when you actually stop trying to attain something, you remember that there is nothing to attain.  We are complete objects, but our states can be different.  A shift in perception is a change of state, not the attainment of an idea.  We may sometimes attain ideas that lead to a change of state, but seeking for the idea that leads to a change is often counterproductive to the change that one is seeking itself.  To give up seeking is often a better way.  I say "give up," but those words don't exactly fit right.  "Give up" rings of defeat.  While defeat can be insightful, there is no feeling of defeat in the relinquishment that I am referring to.  "Take off" might be a better way, as in how a bird, a plane, or a car takes off.  

Imagine (or remember, as it may be) driving a stick-shift for the first time.  You don't really do it smoothly, do you?  You try to switch gears at the wrong time.  Or maybe you shift at the right time, but you hit the clutch at the wrong time.  Maybe, if you're really clueless (as I have been on many occasions), you even put the wrong kind of oil or gas in your car.  This is almost analogous to our bodies.  We may be eating or drinking the wrong things, causing ourselves to be clunky and sputtery.  We may be thinking in ungainly ways, akin to driving in the 3rd gear on the freeway, when we should be in 5th (or whatever your highest gear may be [endless maybes await...maybe the maybes may be avoided]).  And, likewise, maybe you get lucky, while you're still new to the whole thing, and accidentally  do everything perfectly.  Suddenly you sense that your car is running properly.  The engine sounds smoother, the car isn't vibrating so hard.  With a sigh of relief you appreciate that you're finally as you should be.  But like I said, this is only almost analogous.  You can drive your car properly, but you can't live your life properly.  Why?  Because our bodies and lives are not vehicles in which we are drivers.  Cars do not drive themselves (well, except for that one that Google built).  Our lives, however, do live themselves.  Vehicle and driver/passenger are one.  So when you shift gears, you do not say "Hey, my body feels better now."  You say, "I feel better now," or "I am better now."  The world is better.  Life is better.  So the difference is that when you have a shift of perception, it is not that the outside world is different, or that you have some new thought.  Both the world and your self, which are the same, have a different state.  It is not even "your" shift in perception.  It is just that reality has shifted.

 It struck me, as I continued to think with a relatively clear head, that sometimes I get absorbed my reflection in the bathroom mirror.  I go to shave, brush my teeth, wash my face or whatever, and then I look into my own eyes, or examine my face very closely.  Lately I often think, "Is this me?" or "Wow, I can't believe I look like this," or something along those lines.  But this may also be delusion.  When you are looking at yourself in the mirror, do you see some person?  Do you see yourself?  There is no person there, that is not you.  That is just light bouncing off a shiny surface.  That you are there is an illusion.  So sometimes you do look in the mirror and you see a person, and sometimes you do not.  Sometimes, and I think this may be a "higher gear" of perception, you just see that you are in a bathroom and there is a shiny thing on the wall.  Instead of seeing in the mirror, you simply see a shiny space that helps you guide your razor, and outside of that you see your own body below your eyes, the walls and the door.

I recently finished typing a book that I have been very passionate about lately.  This particular book has been so eye-opening and amazing to me that I've probably read it more than 20 times in the last 4 months.  I've just kept it with me at all times and flipped through a chapter here or there when I had an extra moment.  I'm not 100% sure why I decided I wanted to retype it.  Part of it is obsession, I guess.  Maybe I felt that somehow I could live the words myself by letting them flow through my own hands.  It is kind of amazing that I finished it, I'm sort of unused to completing big projects like that.  Of course it was easy because the book was already written, and it was easy to divide the work into small units (I would type a chapter at a time).  Contrastingly, I have tons of books and stories of my own devising that remain shelved somewhere in the recesses of my hard drive, gathering dust like so many lost relics.  It feels great to finish something, although perhaps there is no such thing as a true ending.  My next step, I think, is to go through the book and make it my own; I'd like to add my own commentary, change some words, remove some sections.  I think it will be interesting to take a book as a world and explore it in this way.

I've also been insanely busy with other things lately (hence the length of time that has elapsed since I last wrote here).  Work is all-consuming.  I've been making some progress in terms of my long-term goals, but it's way too slow.  I could go on and on about this right now, but it's late and I should sleep.  I had to "sacrifice" a lot more time to do this writing than I initially imagined (time that could have been spent working, meditating, exercising, cleaning, etc.)...but I suppose I kind of owe it to myself.  It is important to write regularly, for more than one reason, and I shouldn't feel guilty about allocating a few hours here or there to the effort, especially when I've refrained for so long.

Best wishes for the new year.