Continued Centering Logs

Posted: May 4, 2011 in Uncategorized

I couldn’t find some of my logs from a few weeks back, so I’ve done more centering this week to compensate for it. Hopefully it counts.  Apologies for getting this up so late!!

Week 10

Week 11
4/2, 3:00 am, calm but not happy- difficulty in accepting what’s happened
4/2, 4:30 pm, trying to focus but it’s not happening
4/4, 4:30 pm, somewhat alright – things will be fine
4/5, 11:20 am, focused only on me and nothing else; a good escape
4/7, 2:00 am, worried and uncomfortable

Week 12
4/10, 3:20 pm, not very centered – too mindful of the events coming up
4/11, 4:20 pm, brief escape – still bothered
4/12, 5:30 pm, tired and needing more to just relax
4/13, 4:30 pm, still too mindful of things to come in the evening
4/14 , 11:15 am, finally felt calm despite all that’s happening

Week 13
4/17, 8:20 pm, finally done! much more at ease
4/18, 4:25 pm, somewhat at ease – still picking up more than 1 bowling ball
4/20, 4:30 pm, physically not centered.. did not feel comfortable
4/21, 11:15 am,  able to carry the breath throughout the body
4/23, 7:00 pm, exhausted and knocked out

Week 14
4/25, 4:20 pm, feeling really good!!
4/26, 12:40 pm, mind not clear, but not troubled
4/27, 4:20 pm, very comfortable and calm
4/28, 11:50 am, distant and separated from all else as if by myself
4/29, 5:00 am,  going completely crazy, mind not focused

RRR Week
4/30, 5:00 pm, it’s done! just feeling really happy
5/1, 11:10 pm, feeling rested and clear headed
5/2, 2:00 pm, still sleepy but not unsettled
5/3, 6:00 pm, antsy and unguided
5/4, 12:00 pm, breath not going throughout body, sick and upset

“This, then is my true religion, my simple faith.  In this sense, there is no need for temple or church, for mosque or synagogue, no need for complicated philosophy, doctrine or dogma.  Our own hear, our own mind, is the temple.  The doctrine is compassion.  Love for others and respect for their rights and dignity, no matter who or what they are: ultimately these are all we need,” (the Dalai Lama, 234).

Of all that I have read this semester, this was brought me the most happiness, a genuine smile across my face.  It is so essential to remember who we are in this world, where we fit into all this – the cosmic energy that we were born out of.  As my title suggests, we just all need to go back and revisit where we came from. Not necessarily in a literal sense where we visit our hometowns, place of birth, etc. (though this could very well help guide us) – but more so the ideals that we had growing up as pure youth.  Untainted by concepts of social norms and forced concepts of good & bad, right & wrong.  Quite honestly, we forget who we are as we become so wrapped up in society, be it with school, religion, work, or whatever becomes ritual to us.  The mind is so precious, but so often do we undervalue it and how much influence its held on how we’ve grown.  Why then was I so happy to read the statement above?  It reminds me that each individual is important, and that love is at the foundation of it all.  So long as we carry that love and respect for ourselves, that love and respect can be reflected upon others – as is our “universal responsibility” (162).

Chi sem (literally “universal consciousness”) is another Tibetan term that the Dalai Lama introduces as he emphasizes the need to have our heart open for others.  While this may sound contradicting to what I discussed above in the need to love and respect self – I feel that love, for whomever is still the root of all that is “good”.  While it is true that we must love others, it is also crucial that we love ourselves for who we are in order for that love of others to be pure.  In this sense, we accept ourselves and our values paving our way to be able to carry out this love for others.  We should, as the concept suggests, work towards the benefit of others – but not necessarily through harming ourselves.  This, however, is so misguided in society today especially in the pursuit of economic or social gain.  As this form of society becomes stronger, individuals delve themselves into an unhealthy sort of competition, where material goods become of greater value than that of a knowledgeable and responsible person.  Sure these qualities could land a well-paying career, but does that not then only feed into the system?  Where exactly does it end?

It’s scary to even consider the thought of dropping our ways of consumerism, capitalism, etc. as we have become so comfortable with living in such a way and have accepted it as the most efficient way of living.  Would it ever be possible for everyone to start with a clean slate and a fresh, pure mind?  How exactly does greed, power, and other notions that fuel the need for social hierarchy stem from anyways?  Perhaps this place is somewhere only we know, but don’t retreat to in fear of falling behind.

Where am I going with this? I’m not sure anymore. It went from happiness to complete questioning.  I think it’s time to center again and pick up one bowling ball at a time.

EC: Surplus Pleasure

Posted: April 21, 2011 in Uncategorized

At the conclusion of our centering today, we were asked to think of what brought us joy.  Immediately, the image of a night sky filled with fireworks and Disneyland’s castle entered my vision.  The image would expand to include my family by my side as we just enjoyed time together.

Obviously, I would never give up my family.  No matter how much some material item or experience may bring me joy, it’s the love of family and being with them that’s most important in my life.  So I guess, by default – my trips to Disneyland would be something I’d have to consider giving up.  In what way would this help?  Disneyland has always been a personal escape for me from the real world, when I just need to have a mental break from everything.  There are other avenues in pursuing this, though, and much cheaper by comparison.  The money that my family and I would allocate towards trips to the theme park could easily be used to support groups with a fulfilling mission.  It’s just a matter of setting aside personal desires and really observing what may require more attention.  A trip to Disneyland provides that quick relief and joy, but the money and effort that could be used in a project that would see long-term effects is no doubt better for others but myself as well.

“How could firms derive the full advantage of low cost labor and the benefits of flexible contractor relationships, while also respecting the rights of workers in developing countries?”

Is there really a “creative” approach?  The fact that these companies are using labor that costs ways less than the minimum wage they would have to pay in the United States already expands their profits by such a large margin.  Really, the only answer I would even consider is to pay these workers more.  I’m not sure how the relationship works between contractors and businesses, but I would assume that contractors are either forced with a small budget and still force high productivity, or they may be corrupt and pocketing money they are supposed to be using to provide safer and health-friendly working environments.

Really, by raising the wage of these workers by even a few dollars could greatly boost morale.  It’s not like they want to be working these jobs (especially with such difficult conditions), but rather they need it.  From the Nike article, there was a statement that said that a very small percentage of their large advertising budget actually could improve wages for these outsourced laborers.  Why then are these companies not doing so?!  Raising wages would help these laborers provide better for their families, which in turn would boost their morale and happiness in the work place.  With happier workers, it would be expected that productivity and quality of products should improve as well.  At least, that’s my rationale.

It’s so easy for me to suggest all this, though, as I feel that profit margins for these big heads in these companies are way too large.  What’s a couple million off the billions they’re making each year?  I look forward to any creative answers that my classmates can suggest, but I really can only think of raising wages. Let’s be ethical and consider the lives of others for once!!

Journal #10

Posted: April 13, 2011 in Uncategorized

Funeral services done, and I’m quite happy to have closure.  It was surreal seeing my friend the way he was, as he didn’t really look himself.  One thing in particular was the smirk that normally adorns his face was no longer there.  It’s amazing how much a smile can do in life – and how noticeable it is when it’s gone.  I couldn’t get myself to attend his cremation service, though.  The thought of it just scared me. May he rest in peace.

I actually managed to read the Nike article as well as the Levis article.  Like I regarded in my comment card during lecture, I wasn’t surprised by much of the negative aspects of outsourcing. At the cost of the welfare of so many populations, we reap the benefits of cheap products.  It’s just so ironic as many of the low income populations have little to no choice but to purchase goods that are produced under poor labor conditions – when they’re most likely the ones who understand and would oppose such treatment.  How do we end the cycle?  There was the suggestion of having more expensive products (after raising wages of laborers), but is this sustainable for low income communities living in the United States as well?

I really liked the strategy that Levi’s proposed in the article about them looking towards long term efforts in working ethically to promote not only better business but just better conditions for everyone involved. At the cost of some profits, welfare is better for everyone.  This is how I feel businesses should be run, where not only one party reaps the most benefits.

How some businesses can engage in labor systems where labor is so heavily exploited, I just don’t even understand.  Isn’t there a heavy feeling on those individuals?  Or is all empathy.. even sympathy.. just thrown out the window in favor of greed?  What is the driving force behind for-profit businesses? Is it really greed? It’s easy to claim that it isn’t, but how much can we really believe these profiteers?

Depending on which journal entry you read first, this post and the post and the post I put up in the Type 5 blog will be similar (albeit that one is far more condensed).

As much as I want to say that I’m moving on towards acceptance of my friend’s death, I wonder if I’m just trying to push it out of thought and to enjoy myself instead of clearing any thoughts that still linger.  Is this that retrogression towards Type 7 that Types 5 sometimes face?  I feel that by dwelling so long on remembering my friend and just thinking is causing me to separate too much from everyone around me, though.  Even more so than the degree to which I usually separate myself.  It’s so easy to tell yourself to not think of something, but actually doing it is so much more difficult.  I honestly can’t stop memories that we shared from coming, nor thoughts of the upcoming visitation service this weekend where I’m sure to just break down.  As much as I want to just clear it out of my system, there’s just too much keeping me busy to allow time to really just remember my dear friend.

I mentioned this in my comment slip about Swimme’s lecture on Monday, but his 4 suggestions really stood out to me by the end of lecture.  In particular, the idea that disorder is needed in order to evoke creative emergence.  What sorts of disorder does he actually mean, though? Do we mean disorder in the sense that the dinosaurs were moved to extinction by an asteroid, paving way for mammalian life?  Or can the disorder be on a smaller, individual, and more personal scale such as the death of a close one?  I came to accept that any sort of disorder can be an influential source, as I definitely consider my friend’s passing to be of great disorder – particularly during such a hectic time in my academic and extracurricular life.  And is creative emergence limited to large events such as new life?  Or can it be emergence in the sense of a greater understanding of one’s own life?  Everything seems to be explored on the macro level when sometimes I just want to start small and observe it at the micro level.

Also, something that’s been striking a dissonant chord with me is, once again, religion.  My friend who passed is “Buddhist”.  I am “Buddhist” as well (quotations? refer to my last journal entry).  Several friends are of some Christian belief.  It’s odd for me at times to read/hear when others say “may he/she rest in Heaven”.  I just stare at the statement and wonder, what if the person isn’t of some Christian faith? Aren’t non Christians destined to.. Hell.. for not believing?  Religion is just so odd and it’ll forever perplex me. Also for those who say “see you up there” – do Buddhists go “up” somewhere if they’ve reached Nirvana? I don’t even know, considering how lacking I am in knowledge on Buddhism.  Does Heaven coincide somewhere along with areas of other religions? I’m just confusing myself now.

I am “Buddhist”.  What this entails, I have never known.  Although my parents claim that we are Buddhist, we by no means are “devout Buddhists”.  Essentially, because Buddhism was the religion both my parents’ families practiced (to what extent, I cannot say – definitely not enough to have left an impact, though) – I sometimes claim to be a Buddhist today.  Do I know anything about it? Nope.  To be honest, the chapter on Buddhism in Smith’s text is actually more I have read on Buddhism than I have known about the religion in my entire life. I may wear the Buddha on my necklace that I’ve had since I was a toddler, but that’s more so out of remembrance of my grandfather who had given me this necklace.

The Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path are essential to Buddhism and serve to outline how one moves from the First Noble Truth of suffering to freedom from captivity, the “overcoming of tanha” (103).  Having read and/or skimmed through these sections, I no doubt find truth in much of it – particularly the necessity for inner development and recognition of oneself to improve one self and their mind.  It calls for a strength within us that influences us to act ethically and phase out the causes that bring about suffering.  I in many ways commend this practice and recognize the need to do so in order to better one self.  But is working for the self truly the best way when there exists family and community?  I’m not sure if I skimmed over any particular sections that emphasized the importance of community and strength in bonds, but the focus on inner reflection and betterment almost seems selfish at times.  One particular quote puts me at great confusion: “All we are is the result of what we have thought… all things can be mastered by mindfulness” (109).  Do we, as ethical and moral human beings, really work on our own for our individual selves?  I can’t find myself agreeing to that idea with the amount of importance I place on family and community.

Before reading Smith’s section on Buddhism, I had carried brief knowledge of the above mentioned items.  My father actually discusses religion every so often with me, acknowledging the benefits and flaws of each.  I feel that this may be why my family does not practice devotedly any particular religion.  We may claim to be Buddhist, but that identity is definitely flawed if all that is written up there is what Buddhism wholly entails.  I tend to pick and grab parts of other religions along with Buddhism, not purposely but rather because those qualities that I find in various practices are those that I have been raised with.  I never followed a religion, I just embraced and grew as my parents and my social environment deemed necessary. Of course some influence of my own thoughts and belief exist, but I don’t think I could ever attribute my morals to any particular religion.