Uncategorized

A Vision of Battle

  You are a soldier in an army of antiquity. Your commander entrusts you to lead troops to attack a fortified enemy contingency. After briefing them for the mission, you have a few drinks with your men then march off to the target. As you approach the target, you realize the enemy has prepared for your assault, and has eliminated your route of retreat. Without any chance of reinforcements arriving, you simply have one choice: attack. As you approach the enemies surrounding your army, you stare straight at the overwhelming forces ready to cut you down.

When you approach about 100 meters from the enemy, arrows begin to rain down on you and your men. A few men falls down but most continue to march forward. As you approach about 50 meters, you can hear the words of the enemies’ taunts and battle cries. You begin to see the faces of the men on the front line ready to intercept your assault. Arrows continue to land all around you. Most of your comrades in the rear have fallen. You press on. Now as you approach 20 meters from your enemies, you realize the majority of your troops have fallen. You see the overwhelming number of enemies all prepared to cut you down. You see the front row locking their shields and dropping their spears. The arrows have essentially stopped, but you see fallen soldiers all around you. You press on. As you approach striking distance, and with only a few comrades around you, you ready your shield and spear for attack. At this point it is more of a defensive brace than a charge. As the distance close up, weapons start to clash. You make contact with an enemy soldier, and both of you start thrusting your weapons at each other. Right at the moment of impact…

You hear you name being called. It is the secretary notifying you to enter the room where an important client meeting is about to happen. You were told to essentially “put out the fires”. You give a quick “sigh” of relief.

 

The narrative above essentially serves to show that we all tend to have moments of anxiety in our lives. Whether it is a crucial meeting, a job interview, or facing the some horrible news. In most cases, we do survive the worst-case scenarios, and realize that fear and anxiety is all in our heads. In situations like this, we benefit from our ability to see relativity. When comparing the events that cause us anxiety to the situation the solider in that army faces, most of us can conclude that our situations become a bit more comfortable. And from there, the momentum shifts. We are now able to recognize situations we have faced, and overcame, in the past that are much more arduous than the current one we face. Now little by little, as you enter into the reality of the situation, the entire problem becomes less daunting, and more similar to the other mundane events in life.

Meditation · Uncategorized

Someone I Once Knew

There is always this person that our subconscious deviously brings up from time to time. It may be a previous significant other, a family member, or an old friend whom we have lost touch with. Each time this person is brought up, we feel a sense of longing. Why aren’t we still in touch? Why didn’t we spend more time together? Or why isn’t this person in my life anymore? Ultimately, we want to answer the question: what was it I did or did not do? Consequently, since the person is of the past, we do not have any means of answering this question. During our moments of weakness, we would ponder the causes which have separated us from each other; we constantly ask the question “why did this happen?” But again, since there is no real way to truly answer this question, our efforts end in frustration. If only there was some way we can make peace with ourselves.

One way we can solve this yearning is to consider the following. Imagine if you have a pet. You brought your pet into your life hoping to either improve its life or your own. You would go out of your way to give it the best life possible, knowing that the pet’s happiness will bring you much joy. However, all good things must come to an end; you are most likely to outlive your beloved pet. You must, by the forces of nature, leave them behind and move on. If you have experienced this before, then moving on from someone you once knew is very simple. You simply accept everything that has past as what it is: merely the past. The past is the past and we must live for the future.

Meditation

A Touch of Idleness

Modern society often associates idleness as an undesirable and negative trait. We imagine an idle person as someone who is lazy and unproductive, being nothing more than deadweight for society. We have presumptions that if someone is idle, and not generating any value, they are somewhat a failure.

But note the opposite, someone who has constantly worked and ended up causing detrimental results to society. Consider the endeavors of Napoleon Bonaparte, emperor in early 19th century France. Due to the campaigning of the Grande Armée, against almost every European superpower, the French population and economy was devastated for years. If only somebody told Napoleon to take a vacation and be idle. There are many examples of people who seem to have been overly ambitious and caused more harm than value; the world might have been a much better place if only they were idle. If we accept people who do more harm than good, why can’t we accept people who simply do nothing?

We’ve all felt the guilt of being idle. We are wired to believe that unless we are on a continuous search for things to do, we are wasting time. We are always striving to achieve the next big goal, or to come up with the next grand idea. But being idle is not the same as wasting time. We must understand that idleness is equally as important as working. It is in times of idleness that we begin to seriously think about our lives. There are many questions in life that we cannot answer in haste. We need periods of idleness in which we simply appreciate and understand ourselves; and then can we truly learn to best enjoy our limited time on Earth.

Meditation

Spontaneity and Traveling

With electronics allowing planning to be so simple and efficient, it may be an appealing experience to revert to spontaneity. There is nothing wrong with being organized, meticulous, and structured with your day. However, having absolutely no plans, experiencing events in the moment, and having no structure, may increase the enjoyment of your day. Now there are certain things one should not leave to spontaneity (such an important workday, interviews, wedding, or anything of life-threatening caliber). For most events such as a road trip, traveling to foreign location, or a trip to the museum, you would likely experience extra enjoyment by allowing things to be spontaneous. Why?

First of all, when you have no plans, you have no reason to expect any outcome. If you literally get “rained on”, that was simply part of the experience. If you cannot visit a certain landmark you wanted, simply move on to something else without any regret and anxiety.

Secondly, when we plan a schedule, we typically become rushed to get to the next event. While it may be efficient to try and fit twenty events into one trip, you could indulge into a few eye-catching events and enjoy with great satisfaction. Trying to do too much without any focus leads to a lack of appreciation and satisfaction. You can attempt to breeze through everything and essentially be Internet searching in high-definition; doing so would lead you to appreciate nothing, departing completely dissatisfied, and deriving nothing worthwhile from the experience. Alternatively, you can get lost in the moment, observe only things catches your eyes, and appreciate the experience without any hurry or stress. Perhaps you can pause and have a conversation with someone along the way. If you made the effort to participate in a certain event, you cannot simply just breeze through it as if it didn’t matter.

Thirdly, planning can get stressful – especially if you are traveling with other people. Disagreements occur, expectations unmet, and may even lead to argumentation. If you can all agree to be spontaneous, enjoying the experience without a plan, you can experience a completely stress-free and refreshing engagement.

If you think this may be difficult to do, try it during your next vacation and you may find that being free from a tightly packed schedule is the most liberating feeling of all.

Meditation

When We Ask “Why?”

Kids are always asking the “why” question. “Why should I eat my vegetables” or “why can’t I watch T.V”? As we get older, we tend to adopt the more popular mantra of “just do this” or “it’s for your own good”. Kids are not wrong to be asking “why” for it is a fundamental question we must all consider – “Why should I do this” Please take a moment to consider the importance of this question.

All humans follow the same three phases: birth, life, and death. Regardless of your accomplishments, personality, or status, everything you do during your life will have no value to you when you die. “Well, what about my legacy?” In death, any value derived from your existence is given to the living – or worse, fades into obscurity. The value of your legacy cannot affect you in any way. In other words, nothing you do in life has lasting value to you. This absurd aspect of the human condition forces us to find some means of reconciliation with the void that is our existence. To make things worse, life is full of suffering, conflicts with our idealism, and challenges to our morality. So to rephrase the initial question: “why do we do anything at all?” I’m sure most of us have already answered this question. But some of us are completely lost. Needless to say, the answer is a personal one, and is a way for us to maintain our individuality. So next time when someone tells us to “just do this” pause for a moment and think about it.

Cheers.

Meditation

Focus

Imagine an elite squadron of thunderous charging cavalry. At their helm is the commander who is faced with a decision. He can thin out his men and charge the entire enemy line. Or he can wedge his ranks, focus on one strategic weak point, and thunderously hammer the enemy with might and precision! The latter is clearly more advantageous.

Sometimes it is useless to attempt many activities at once. It is not a question of “will I have time to complete all this?” but rather “how can I produce great quality work?” If quality is what you strive for, then it is necessary to recalibrate your focus towards a smaller number of important activities. Continue reading “Focus”