Reflection Archives

music_of_thew_spinning_earth

Music feels like magic

Music awakens us to the truth that life is so much more than the petty details or daily struggles.

Music is universal. It reaches us at the depth of our intuitive existence. It speaks to the senses directly. It touches us profoundly and perhaps more deeply than we would like it to admit.

Music is a great mystery that begins with vibrating air. Because … music is vibration, after all, isn’t it?

Who created music?

I don’t know. Perhaps it has always been there. Omnipresent. Since the beginning of the Word.

We will hear the music

When you walk in a forest, you will hear the sounds of nature. Rustling leaves, crusting pine cones, walking bugs, flying insects, jumping grasshoppers or singing birds. Knowledgeably or not, they make an orchestral performance for you.

When you walk down a street, you will hear all the man-created sounds.Passing-by cars, opening and closing of the doors, heavy footsteps, voices of joy, heated conversations, laughing kids or barking dogs. There may also be the sounds of trams, trains, bikes, rain, snow or splashing paddles. This is a different performance.

When you close your eyes and focus inwardly, you will hear the sounds of your diligently working body: arteries, veins and organs. Hum internally the sound of “a” or “o” for a while. Do you feel how your inner parts seem to join the same vibration?
 
We feel and experience nature, people, machines, and structures. The music exists in them and through them. We hear music of all kinds. Then we enter the realm of harmonies between the plantes, comets and celestial bodies.

Perhaps one day we will hear the sound of the spinning Earth.
Perhaps one day we will hear the music of the Spheres.
Perhaps one day we will hear the sound of our own Beings.

music_of_spinning_earthI can’t wait to hear all these. What about you?

***

Music is neither a by-product nor a result of culture. While we think that music is being created, it is in fact creating itself through various media, be it people of talented voices, nature or instruments.

Music is a living thing, an everlasting orchestral vibration from which we filter out a combination of frequencies. Be them pleasing, uplifting or disturbing – they serve a purpose.

When you really listen

When you really listen to the music, you spend the time alone with yourself. And then, music can touch you deeply. It can bring hidden memories or open the doors you have even forget they existed.

When you really listen there is a chance you realize that you are stuck in a matrix. It may be a castle crafted from your own convictions or false beliefs. You may begin to feel that your castle is tiny dot on the whole map. There is so much more outside your assumptions. You may begin to notice how much you are beset by imposed norms.  Are these your own?

Perhaps you have not been courageous enough to become yourself. To learn to appreciate who you are instead of being impressed by the greatness or authority of others. Music is there to point you this out.

Music!

Music is an elemental force. Primary force. Yes, a wild one at times.

It can make you uneasy, uncomfortable and even confused. It can easily discover when any dissonance is present in you. Music will open something up in your head and in your heart. It will inspire you to seek, explore and change.

If you listen to music long enough you will recognize how you have become fragmented and compartmentalized. Everything is interconnected. When you choose shortcuts or decieve yourself in one area of your life, all of them are affected. No exception. The false notes sound loudly everywhere. Just listen to.

Does it happen with all music? I don’t know.
For sure it happens when the music is great.

To know it, listen to this piece by fantastic guys, Możdżer, Danielsson and Fresco:

When is the music great?

When it is pure and deep, coming from the abysmal yet perfect creation of the given moment. It is authentic and you just know it. It reaches you directly at your heart. It sends thrills down your spine.

In such a moment you feel secure and harmonious. Yet this state does not come from your flesh and bones but it results from your trust to delve into yourself. Yourself, carefully crafted from high energies and impressions which resonate with the sound.  

There are no shortcuts in life.
Music will make you aware of this.
Pay attention.

There is only one way to live – in truth with yourself.

***

Top photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr. Middle photo by NASA Goddard Space Flight Center from Creative Commons on Flickr.

 ***

 

reach_enlightment 

I learned about enlightenment when I was 14. It was presented like a privileged state of being for a few chosen ones. This level had to be attained through mastery of certain practices which included meditation, chanting and a path of inner focus, gratitude and solitude. It was a promise of a life without both desire and suffering.

How interesting it was!

It caught my attention, for sure. First, because it offered a life without pain, as I understood then, and secondly, because I found the idea of belonging to an exclusive group enlightened beings appealing (Being a part of a weirdo’s group sounded good to the teenager me ;)).

I read a lot at that time. I prayed a lot. I also meditated a lot, though it was more of a reflection than meditation, I would say now. The “traditional” straight-spine meditation, hours long, was never my piece of bread.

Over the years I have educated myself and I have made small steps towards enlightenment. Yet, to my disappointment, no cosmic event occurred on the horizon. Not in the way I imagined, anyway, as a profound revelation, cosmic fireworks of bliss, angels with trumpets, electricity running down my spine and an eclectic state of being. No extreme understanding, either.

Enlightenment was about reaching the state of bliss, dissolving (or overcoming) Ego, or becoming one with God. Despite my sincere efforts my Ego hasn’t melted even a piece and she remained as strong as ever. God was with me but I was not one with God. And I had no spectacular experiences, either.

Of course I knew that it might take ages before I reach such a state, but somehow, I was discontent with my little progress. One day, upon reflection, I’ve came to a realization that enlightenment was not what I thought it was. 

It was my first enlightenment, indeed. 😉

Enlightenment is a journey

I looked at enlightenment as a destination to reach. I thought it would be a state of being that I could approach by a process of “bettering” myself through special practices. I understood that Ego was on the way and I had to take it from the earthly plane. The path to enlightenment talked about inward presence and focus, yet the goal remained outer. I was there as if to join God or to dissolve Ego, and hence to stand against a part of myself. It felt as if I had to see a part of myself as an enemy. It didn’t feel right.

Because I like to explore extremes, I carefully considered the opposite thought:  “Enlightenment is not a destination. It is a journey”. And it felt right to me.

A bottom-up approach to enlightenment starts from the daily events, being present in the moment and learning along the way. Enlightenment is an insight, a realization or a deep understanding. It is not a single event but a process – a way to live my life in awe and wonder, understanding and knowing. Enlightenment is therefore ongoing and I hope it will continue for eternity.

As we wake up to a day from the night, en-lighten-ment is a process of entering the light from the darkness. Darkness is ignorance. Light is knowing.

Similarly, as eyes take the time to adjust to the light to see well, an enlightening experience needs such an adjustment too. Enlightenment comes through observation, experience, reflection and conclusion.

I was first pleased with my discovery yet I felt I missed something. I knew enlightenment was more than that. And indeed it has taken me some more years before I’ve finally understood what the other necessary component was.

Since we are part of God, enlightenment needs the Self component, our conscious involvement in it (similarly as in consciousness). Not to be dissolved but appreciated, instead.

It is called intimacy.

Think about it.

“Into-me-see” – seeing into myself and allowing others to see into myself.

It is essential. To be intimate is to be authentic and truthful with ourselves, others and God. Intimacy is about closeness, appreciation, warm affection and simply joy from being in the presence. Of ourselves and others. And we yearn to such an intimate life.

As a result, enlightenment is insight, knowing and knowledge which originates from intimate relation with Self, nature and others. Every day is filled with enlightening experiences, if you welcome them.

What is enlighting?

  • Being grateful for being alive, healthy and well is enlightening.
  • Realizing I have a choice of how to respond to external circumstances is enlightening.
  • Knowing that dark times and difficulties can be a starting point of transformation is enlightening.
  • Recognizing the difference between response and reaction is enlightening.
  • Choosing not to burst out when the anger is called for is enlightening.
  • Enjoying simple tasks such as cleaning is enlightening.
  • Laughing at myself from my own over-seriousness or self-pity is enlightening.
  • Appreciating that God is intimate with me is enlightening.

Do you want to reach enlightenment?

Start from self-insight and self-knowing. Start from caring, intimate relation with yourself, nature and others. 

When we understand ourselves, we will understand others.
When we forgive ourselves, we will forgive others.
When we love ourselves, we will love others.

As simple as it sounds.

***

By the way, one of the definitions of enlightenment is “education that results in understanding and the spread of knowledge”.

***

Photo copyright by Moyan Brenn. Photo available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

perseverance

Perseverance

Sometimes (or perhaps more often that I would like it to admit) I think

“I wish I was more gifted”,

“I wish I had more courage to act”

“I wish I had more luck”

“I wish I had more results”

“I wish I was pushing it through”.

Yes, “I wish I could be this or that”. Broadly understood, of course, as I wish I was quite a character ;).

But .. you know what?

Nothing changes.

There is no point in hopeful wishes for the sake of clouds of thoughts. The only way forward is to stop whining and just be talented, be pushy and make it through.

Nobody is going to give it to me a gift of awesomeness, courage or action. Nobody is going to give me more energy or more health. Nobody is going to offer me more time.

Nobody is going to make me great. Neither special.

Nobody is going to make me an authority to listen to. Nobody. 

Why?

Because it is not in their power to offer that.

So what?

The only way to make the next step is to take it.

First is the first step. Inertia is overcome. Movement is set in action. Then I’ll just take one step after another.

No matter the circumstances.

It is called perseverance.

***

Photo courtesy Fe Langdon, available under the Creative Commons license on Flickr.

***

strange_world

Photo credit Leandro’s World Tour, available undrer Creative Commons on Flickr.

I look around and I see people.
I look closely and I recognize the unbalanced self.
I look at the world and I perceive gossip, curses and unkindness.

They stand out.
They shout.
They paralyze.
They hurt.

Yet …

Love is stronger than hatred.

It shines continuously in spite of everything. The rays of love are there, as always. Beautiful and strong. Just become silent and notice them. On your face and in your heart.

When you listen to and understand others, love comes naturally as the recognition of yourself in the other person.
Her struggles are your struggles.
Her challenges are your challenges.
Her blessings are yours too.

Let us pay attention.
Let us respect each other.
Let us be kind.

And by changing ourselves we will change the world.

***

Music comes strongly to me at times and it is such a time now. The music of a great Polish composer and musician, Czeslaw (Cheslav) Niemen, has been with me for some weeks now, especially the song “Strange is this world”. Niemen was hardly known outside the Slavic countries, yet he was a very special guy. I’ve grown up with his songs.

 

Strange is this world

How strange is this world
where still it seems
there is so much evil.
How strange it is
that seems so long
man despises man.

How strange is this world
of human affairs,
sometimes I’m ashamed to admit
a man can kill a man
with a bad word
as if with a knife.

Most people are of good will,
and thanks to them
I believe strongly
that this world
should never, never, never die.
And now the time has come,
the final time
for hatred
hatred to destroy in oneself.

 

This is the original Polish version from 1967:

 

 

This is an English version from 1973, a very different interpretation

 

 

***

And finally, the latest interpretation of this song by his daughter Natalia. It sends shivers down my spine.

 

***

 

Do you want to stay anonymous or do your prefer personal service?

As for me, it depends.

I like personal service when I choose to connect to people e.g. in the place I live. I recognize them and they recognize me back, we exchange smiles or have a small talk. I am genuinely asking whether they are fine or happy. Yes, I want to buy my books or do my shopping with a smile, welcomed by friendly faces.

On the other hand, I don’t necessarily like customized and personal service run by web agents suggesting me what I might be interested in. Sometimes, I indeed look for such recommendations, especially when I search for books. However, when I am to explore a new subject and/or I want to learn something new, I want to explore spaces far behind the horizon. I am interested to see many different points of view.

Why?

Because I firmly believe that by exploring extremes and the places in between, I am better able to clarify what I want. The wider the perspectives or points of view, the broader the horizons and the better my ability to find the middle point or the center I am interested in.  Learning about opposites makes me think for myself and inspires me to ask deep questions.

It is my choice.

For this reason I am not directly interested in finding the answers or recommendations I might like. I am much more interested in finding the information I might dislike, or even hate.  It is the difference, the dissimilarity to my common experience or knowledge that shakes my grounds so that I can build a better foundation.

Remember that we learn the most not because we find concepts similar to ours but because we are exposed to previously unseen information or go through new experience. In this way I am strongly inspired to learn new things. Surprise, shock or curiosity are the vehicles to use.

Now…

The context

Do you believe that it is you who is searching the information on the Web?
You may be surprised to learn that it might be the other way around.

You are not necessarily searching for information, but information is looking for you.
How do we know it?

Well…

First of all, you are never anonymous on the big World Wide Web. If you connect to a website your computer can be uniquely identified by its IP number. And if you
run a business with a website presence it is not difficult to find out to whom the website belongs. You often accept the cookies from other parties so that any other time you visit the same sites they can offer you a customized view.

Secondly, information is being stored all the time concerning the routes you follow on the Web. If you are often on Facebook, Linked, Tumblr, Pinterest or any other social media services it is easy to connect the dots – your login and your IP address – to know who you are.

As a result, you will see ads related to your search keywords or email topics in your open mail browser or even subjects you discuss with friends on Google chat or so.

This is what we all consciously or unconsciously accept whether we realize it or not. The consequence of this fact is profound. Whatever you write in your emails, comment on social media, write in your posts or anywhere else on the Web may stay forever in the vast valleys of the Network. Even if you remove your accounts, your communication and traffic information may be preserved for years.

This asks us to be honest and accountable for what we say, do and how we react. Please realize that all your words may stay in the “memory” of the Web for a very long time.

***

The search

There is also another consequence I want to point out.

What if you know that your search is customized according to your likes?
This certainly holds for Google.

Make a small experiment. Search in Google for a phrase which is of your interest, e.g. “holiday in Turkey”, “personal development books” or something currently in the news. Do it 3x.

1) First time do it on your computer while login in to your active social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Tumblr, Google+ and alike, as well as email or other service.

2) Second time, sign off every social media. Clear all the cookies. Remove the history of searches.
Restart your browser and run your search.

3) The third time, use a different computer, possibly of somebody else. Run your search.

Are there any differences?
Well, they usually are and oftentimes they are huge.

It is not necessarily true that the information is not found when you search for it from a different computer, say, but it is the way it is presented back to you. Any search produces millions or zillions of possible answers. The ranking of the answers is customized according to specific indicators about the websites such as the popularity. More importantly, however, the answers are filtered in response to your likes, preferences (stored e.g. as the most frequent websites you visit), the likes of your friends on Facebook and so on. If you think it is impossible, I can assure you that is is algorithmically possible, and in use.

For instance, it is easy to make a profile of you by the tags, topics, news, sites or keywords – words you often use (again in social media, email, or various accounts). Every text, every post may have its own profile – even generated in the context of your search. What you then need is a similarity measure between two profiles, a measure that accounts for the overlap of the subjects and intensity (frequency) of the interest. A simple but fast-computable measure may already give satisfactory results for the first 10 returns. For sure, Google has its own strategy to achieve that.

The key point is this. Majority of people, when searching on the Web, do not look further than the first or second page of the results, where the results are highly influenced
by their local context. The remaining pages may actually be of high interest, as they are often for me.

The importance of each piece of information should and must be considered in the context – your preferences, networks you belong to, social media presence and so on. Be aware that what you find may only come from a narrow circle of your likes and likes of your local Web community.

Is this what you want?

As for me, I want the likes at times, yet more often than not, I want independent information. Or, at least, very different to what I know.

Become aware of the context-dependent search. You are a potential customer to all types of products and services. This comes as a natural symbiosis between you using freely the Web and the businesses that make living from their presence there. As with all media, the answers you get may be modeled towards specific interests or benefits.

The trap we get into is that we think about ourselves as individuals, creative and unpredictable. This is true about us as humans but not necessarily about us as potential customers. Any consumer understood as a statistical figure is, in his behavior and the way he makes decisions, often predictable, certainly when we average over masses. This holds also because we are firmly convinced that statistics doesn’t apply to us  ;). Well, it does.

Thanks to our reluctance to bury ourselves in the multi-page written agreements and blindly accept the “terms of use”, we don’t pay attention to the frames of the world being created for us. We slowly accept changes that otherwise would have been beyond question. As a result, the image presented to us on the Web about the world is such that it is being made to be commercially beneficial for everyone, which means – not necessarily for you as an individual. This is a subtle process and difficult to discern. But it is worth the trouble to ask to know to what the world brings us along this path.

Summary

What we read and listen to models our thoughts, ideas and concepts.
We read what we find.
We find what we search.
Therefore, how we search is important. It may determine the quality of information we find and, consequently, the model of the world we create.

There is a difference between a book recommendation you may like and learning a new subject or forming a new concept. Explore both best matches and far away answers to learn about similarities and differences. Look for various points of view to form the ideas well and refine your concepts through atypical examples. This is necessary for practising your independent thinking and increasing intelligence.

***

As an aside note, there are private search engines which claim that they don’t use algorithms to satisfy our likes. An example is  https://duckduckgo.com/
For sure there are many others.

There is also software that enables anonymity online. An example is https://www.torproject.org/.

Tor (The Onion Router) directs Internet traffic through a free, worldwide volunteer network (via onion-like encryption levels) to hide a user’s location or usage from anyone conducting network surveillance or traffic analysis. As the Wikipedia says “Using Tor makes it more difficult to trace Internet activity, including visits to Web sites, online posts, instant messages and other communication forms, back to the user.”

Be aware of your context. Search what you are looking to find. It creates your world.

***

 

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