What if I told you…

Alabama SunsetWhat if I told you that the life you're leading is merely a projection? A fantasy? A dream? What if I told you that you could break out? Unplug? Disconnect? Are you happy where you are? Is life perfect even with all its imperfections? Imagine a film projector. Imagine that the movie that's projecting onto the screen is your life. And you look at it and it seems distorted and flawed. The things you want just aren't quite coming into focus. "I wish I had more money." "I wish I had a happy marriage." "I wish I had a job I loved." But all of those desires are blurry in the projection on that huge screen of life. Now imagine that the way you try to make those goals come into focus is by swatting at the movie screen. Imagine you take a huge push broom and swipe at the screen over and over again, to no avail. Imagine the futility and frustration of spending hours, weeks, years fighting for a better life but nothing is improving the way you had hoped. What if. Just what if. What if you realized that the problem causing the blurred vision - the thing that's preventing those fantasies from coming into focus isn't on the screen. What if it's on the lens itself? Imagine there's a smudge on the lens. A big one. A dirty gross one. You would tell me it's time to clean the lens. It's not the movie screen's fault that you are projecting a muddy life. You have to tackle problems at the source. You have to unplug from that projected image and look inside yourself. Find the smudged lens and clean it off. Stop stalling. Go for it. I have faith in you. With love, JJ

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.

I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night. It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry. It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds. But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever. Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing. I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect. We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born. The world you see is just a movie in your mind. Rocks dont see it. Bless and sit down. Forgive and forget. Practice kindness all day to everybody and you will realize you’re already in heaven now. That’s the story. That’s the message. Nobody understands it, nobody listens, they’re all running around like chickens with heads cut off. I will try to teach it but it will be in vain, s’why I’ll end up in a shack praying and being cool and singing by my woodstove making pancakes.
-Jack Kerouac (HT: Brain Pickings)

You can do it. I believe in you.

SunsetAll desire is suffering. We long for the things we don't have, and the feeling that creates is emptiness. I want to be stronger. I want to live a long life. I want my children to be successful. I want to provide for my family. I want my wife and I to have a fulfilling relationship. That longing, that desire, is looking beyond the present day. Looking into the future. It's the same as looking back and wishing for change. I wish I focused more when I was in school. I wish I asked the pretty girl on a date. I should have taken that job offer. I should have been nicer to my friends. It's all a dream. Your view of the past and your view of the future you wish to be. It's a fantasy world that will never exist exactly the way you want. It won't be better. It won't be worse. It will be different. It will just be. Imagine the new iPad you want to buy. You don't have it, and when you think about it, you feel longing. Emptiness that you want to fill. Or how about food? It's only 11am and you're already hungry for lunch. You want to fill that emptiness. Longing is suffering. Desire is longing. All you can do is live in the present moment and be the best "you" possible. (There really is no "you", but we'll get to that anther time.) Live a loving life. Allow yourself to feel happiness. Be aware of the possibilities. Know that your children may one day go to college. Know that you may succeed in your job. Know that your relationship with your wife may be strong for the rest of your time on Earth. But don't spend too much time on longing. Focus on the things you can do today to make the next day the best day possible. Center yourself. Look inward. Be strong. Be fulfilled. You can do it. I believe in you.

Radical Transparency

Secret SocietyMany of my friends seem to be concerned about the recent updates to Facebook's privacy policy. Facebook needs to know more about who you are and what you do online in order to offer new features that connect you closer to your online social sphere. But what else might they do with that information? It's a big, big question. Still, if you're truly concerned, it's a question you should have been asking for years. Dozens of apps and websites require similar permissions, and perhaps even more concerning: the US government (and local authorities) have been tracking you for decades. Credit card transactions, library cards, Internet history, email records, text and phone records, GPS pinpoints, EZ Pass transactions, red light cameras, the list truly goes on and on. Facebook is not going to be the straw that broke the camel's back. That back was broken years ago. Now what does the optimist think? Where's the silver lining? Well here's the strange thing: this whole information evolution could lead to the next stage of human development. What needs to happen, assuming the government knows everything about us, is that we need to be given the same level of exposure to the government's secret life. Radical transparency. For everyone. Who smokes marijuana? Who has sex with prostitutes? Who cheats on their spouse? Who flirts with coworkers? Who drives beyond the speed limit? Who exaggerates on their resume? The answer? Nearly everyone does something that doesn't align with their moral compass. And many people break laws that they think are unjust. Even cops and politicians and school teachers. We can't punish or ostracize EVERYONE. Once radical transparency is a reality, hypocrisy would be exposed once and for all. We'd have an even playing field. And then we could really decide what matters. Do we really want to jail someone for walking on the sidewalk with an open container of alcohol? We'd have to reevaluate our culture's laws and ethical limits. Would that be better or worse than where we are now? If the only other option is to allow big brother to keep watching us, while keeping the rest of us in the dark, then I for one welcome radical transparency with open arms.

The solution for homelessness?

In eight years, Utah has quietly reduced homelessness by 78 percent, and is on track to end homelessness by 2015. How did Utah accomplish this? Simple. Utah solved homelessness by giving people homes. In 2005, Utah figured out that the annual cost of E.R. visits and jail stays for homeless people was about $16,670 per person, compared to $11,000 to provide each homeless person with an apartment and a social worker. So, the state began giving away apartments, with no strings attached.
Read more here.