Tuesday, October 20, 2009

An Atheist answers the question: What is "God"?

Prayer has it's benefits to those who believe in a higher power. There is a term used that I first saw in Dan Brown's book Angels & Demons called "supersentience". To my understanding of science, the placebo effect has it's realities in which most of the religious class would not accept as a natural cause. Most spritualists will beg that miracles happen by means of the "supernatural" instead of being just plain natural. But the placebo affect is indeed a real phenomenon that occurs within the human's psychophysiological mechanisms. Which always brings us back to the topic of belief.

I personally believe that in order to understand what God is, we need first to understand what we're doing when we pray. When anyone prays what happens in the brain? The mind is doing something that it commonly does not do. It seeks information; the mind focuses on a path or journey to take.

What about atheists? Do atheists pray? Majority would say "no".

I did a search online for atheist prayers and I found a somewhat humourous t-shirt quote:

Our brains, which art in our heads, treasured be thy names. Thy reasoning come. The best you can do be done on earth as it is. Give us this day new insight to resolve conflicts and ease pain. And lead us not into supernatural explanations, deliver us from denial of logic. For thine is the kingdom of reason, and even though thy powers are limited, and you’re not always glorious, you are the best evolutionary adaptation we have for helping this earth now and forever and ever. So be it.


This does not really demonstrate what I'm trying to say but it hints at an interesting point. Prayer is a natural thing regardless if an atheist pokes fun at it or not. However, religious advocates assume that when they pray they actually pray to an external entity with a personality.

I once said that God is the ultimate ground of our existence, whether one believes in God or not, this still rings true.

Take for example the study of consciousness. When we open our eyes our mind receives new information ... information that we could swear was being created in front of our eyes. I'm not suggesting that we create the universe, nor that it materializes in our prescense. There is nothing physical about consciousness to start with! Consciousness is the ground of all being. Consciousness equals God.

Buddhism instructs that our ego or "self" is an illusion. That we are simply the by-product of the universe. The universe is us and we are the universe. This is not false. But, we are existing entities with matters of the mind. We interact with the world in the physical plane. What could we conclude about ourselves? Do we have free will?

If the reader bares with me up to now. You'll be rewarded to know that finally the answer is out. God is not a person nor a formless energy. God is you and you are God.

Thoughtfully, I would not eat my own words in the prescense of a Christian who would quote scriptures that point to how Satan said the very same thing. Sure, Satan said that "lie" about how once we ate from the tree then we will be like God. Sure, Christians say that atheists are self-worshipping heathens and they don't respect any higher authority so they hence sit on their own throne instead of putting God there. I do however take on that assumption and challenge the reader to think critically about this next point:

If you pray to a personal God, and you ask him for strength and you receive it, does that mean it came from above? Why do other religions like Islam and Judaism pray exactly like you do and still receive strength after a life-affirming prayer? Surely they don't have the same God as you. The reason why all faiths gather strength and comfort from prayer is simply because prayer is an personal message to the one entity that the person never speaks to on a regular basis - the self.

Shad Helmstetter in his 1990 book titled What to Say When You Talk to Your Self, addresses a very important point about the mind. Talking to yourself is theraputic. Helmstetter hosted seminars across the country with this idea of self-talk. He proves that self-esteem and spiritual growth are hidden within. The answer you seek will be answer you find, convincingly through your own vessel. Having one on one conversations with your self does not demonstrate insanity but intimacy with your identity. This brings us all to center.

It has been said that the ultimate purpose of life is to live with God and to be happy. Now you know why. The ultimate prescense and the ground of all being is to live at peace and at one with yourself. If one could create God in his own image like Christianity has clearly done exactly like all world religions, so one can create his own spirituality. This gaurantees completeness of the human soul.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

What is the Meaning of Life?

What is the Meaning of Life?

We asked this question to our listeners and got some really interesting responses. Here's what they said:

"To be truely happy while doing your best to make others happy."

"The main thing is to be with God and to be happy. Life on earth is a test."

"I think that one of the most beautiful things we have, that most of us live for, is to connect with people."

"Knowing that you are going to die."

"Until my baby died it was giving unconditional love. Now the hell with this shit. Why do all good things come to an end? You know what I think -- looking at how violent nature is, that all the religions are here confusing people, we just need to try not to kill one another"

"That varies from person to person and I don't have an answer. The meaning of life is whatever you want it to be"

"To me the meaning of life is to find your own peace and truth with honesty, courage, honor and love. In my opinion we are here so our souls can prosper and learn ... to grow spiritually so we don't make the same mistakes. So we can move on to a higher spiritual plane"

I think that life is an accident. We are so lucky to be here, by this whim. The birth of consciousness has no purpose, but the meaning of it is of free interpretation. Personally I find it comforting to make the assumption that life is meant to learn. We as humans love to ask questions and we love even more to be sure of ourselves. So that indicates that we like to know shit.

We'd like to hear your thoughts on this question.

- Vincent

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Does Feeling Good Matter?

Feeling Good Lately?

Its understandable that people will always have basic desires. But when does a desire become a leech for pleasure? When is too much just too much? Is having everything you want the answer to all your problems? Questions like these are not light-hearted. These are issues that touch on the subjects of poverty, wealthiness, sustainability, starvation, addiction, debauchery, and perhaps ... enlightenment.

The fact that we cannot imagine life without satisfaction may invoke memories of pain and the unbearable thirst that abstinence entails. Sure we all hunger for a drop of "feel good" on our tongues, and there was never anything wrong with that. However the endless adventure to seek pleasure is one not many will admit to be a path leading to more pain and anguish.

The path to enlightenment is not one of starvation though. Enlightenment is cool for guys who take it easy. The trouble with enlightenment is the fact that most people will not recognize it as enlightenment, but instead they'll refer to it as more of a "dead end".

When I was a kid I drank a lot of coka-cola, played endless hours of video games, had a short attention span, and kept avoiding the "torture" of work. Something about these activities have been designed to lead back into more of the same vices of life. There are far worse addictions in life than coka-cola and video games.

Emotions are considered to be a heavy drug many keep going back to. Have you ever met someone who was addicted to a thought? Perhaps they couldn't even imagine themselves thinking of anything else except the memory of what they once felt?

This becomes evident by the clear example of a relationship breakup. The person who's suffering tends to consistently think of the other person and everything reminds him/her of the relationship's history. It comes to no surprise that these memories are vivid, and its generally because emotions ARE memories.

But what about the premise of this blog? Does feeling good matter? Why am I talking about break ups? Would it seem obvious to the reader that I "need to get laid"? Perhaps. But the answer is no. I have a point to draw from these examples.

Emotions are memories, but they are also like drugs. Just like a pill allows you to draw a chemical effect from its nutrients, so do emotions. And so from drugs that can make you have withdrawal symptoms, so can your emotions. My reasoning is that any idea you're fascinated with could be considered an addiction.

I will not get into the variations of what makes a good addiction versus a bad addiction. That will be for another blog. For the sake of interest, I personally think that all addictions are bad one time or another.

Any who, back to my general point of inquiry. Feeling good is not an accomplishment in life ... it is an experience of satisfaction. I is easily recognizable when you go on vacation and you feel the need to stay at the spot where you relaxed.

In Buddhism, life is a cycle of repetition. We have chores and we have leisure. There are bad feelings and good feelings. One day you will feel up and the next down. The ocean will always have waves of uplift and waves of depression. Enlightenment is when you finally realized, or in this case "remembered", that you are part of the waves of destruction in this world and simulatneously part of the waves of peace.

Fear not:
“There’s no secret to balance. You just have to feel the waves”
- Frank Herbert (American science fiction Author and Writer 1920-1986)

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Zen and Clubbing

Alan Watts

“We could say that meditation doesn't have a reason or doesn't have a purpose. In this respect it's unlike almost all other things we do except perhaps making music and dancing. When we make music we don't do it in order to reach a certain point, such as the end of the composition. If that were the purpose of music then obviously the fastest players would be the best. Also, when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey. When we dance, the journey itself is the point, as when we play music the playing itself is the point. And exactly the same thing is true in meditation. Meditation is the discovery that the point of life is always arrived at in the immediate moment.”

- Alan Watts (American Writer, Thinker and Interpreter of Zen Buddhism, 1915-1973)

For this past week, I've been going out to several clubs. I went to Boogie Bar, 90-Degrees, Nocturnal and Mausoleum. Its totally not my scene, but I'm accustomed to partying and living it up under the right dose of alcohol. Drinking makes you lead better in dance without letting your subconscious mind fuck up your game. Talking to chicks becomes a natural thing. It's a recreational activity that guys like me take part in simply to boost confidence (hence the term "liquid confidence").

However, in Zen Buddhism, every sort of alcoholic beverage is looked down upon as a shameful act. I can understand why they would be but its alright. Gluttony is not a very high virtue (understatement), drinking causes the mind to waver, distracted in its own reptilian impulses. Without our neocortex, we would not think clearly, run into walls and the only two options of activity left would be to either fuck it or kill it.

Anyways, back to my week club marathon.

I own a business with a partner of mine. Recently we've been digesting this business seminar on the value of focus on an activity, in order to avoid multi-tasking. Multi-tasking is a detriment to the soul of production. Sure, things get done when you're multi-tasking, but its not the same when you focus on one aspect of a business and get that done correctly and with quality. So the value that we took from that is that time should be managed in two quadrants.

T-Time and Re-Time

T-Time is basically your talent time in which you perform your 2-3 hours of work diligently displaying your ethics in labor. Your true efficiency and magic of work.

Re-Time is your rejuvenation time or your relax time. Activities that recharge your energy so that when work comes around you will be ready to do your magic all over again.

This past week has been entirely filled with Re-Time. ... Too much of it.

Dancing is a special element of the human experience. When we're engaged in music, the body and mind are connected and harmonize with the sense of sound. Alan Watts said it perfectly, "when we are dancing we are not aiming to arrive at a particular place on the floor as in a journey."

I'm not condoning that a meditative practice is something to be shunned away once dancing becomes a solid art in replacement of meditation. If possible, do both! To dance is to use your body more than your mind. To meditate is to mix both body and mind equally.

One more thought before I go:

T-Time and Re-Time is meant to create a balance. Even Ben Franklin said that there are 3 periods of time in your day, each spanning intermitently in 8-hour shifts. 8 hours of work, 8 hours of play and 8 hours of sleep. T-Time and Re-Time are the first two shifts.

Buddhism takes into account the value of self-improvement, so time-management is never neglected. Zen Buddhists don't just sit around on sand bags hallucinating all the time, they work too and they are the best party animals around.

So take balance in your activities. Your life is not a solid color of play nor of work, it is both. Get your mind and body to opportunistically take advantage of a flowing schedule. It'll never bore you because it is, was and always will be part of this great life.

Live peacefully


Friday, June 19, 2009

The Privilege to Breathe

I wonder sometimes the meaning of why we exist. Some thoughts like that never seem to be as trivial as a question like, “What’s the name of that sign that tells you to stop?” The meaning of why we exist, is a question that carries a barrage of uncertainties. We think we know the answer for a long time, but we don’t – bluntly put.

Zen as a regular practice has taught me that our very essence of existing should not be so complicated. It is quite simple. In fact, our existence was not thought out at all, why waste our time over-thinking it?

I’m not suggesting that a simple minded notion of philosophical questions should be discarded and looked upon as vanity to the intellectual egotism of the west. Philosophers may be sitting in arm chairs and thinking up their own opinions, but in the end of it all, how is anyone any different from them?

No. I’m talking about the regular understanding of our existence.

Think about it in terms of our animistic qualities. Biologists have a list of criteria that if met would constitute an object as a living thing. Biologists have to have some list of the sorts. I think it’s interesting that one of the items on this list (at least on the list that I have here in my biology textbook) simply says, “Must be able to breathe” as one of the main items of requirements.

Meditation requires a lot of breathing but it is not so that we can relax our mind, relaxing the mind is part of the exercise, but breathing, as an activity, is a privilege.

You and I are not a rock. We process oxygen. You and I are living beings. That’s not farfetched.

When my lungs expand and contract, I live. When they don’t, I no longer live.

Another thing I find interesting about breathing is that your body unconsciously keeps it operating. You don’t need to THINK about breathing to breathe - you just do. But, it goes the other way around. You can also THINK about HOW you breathe and control it CONSCIOUSLY. Did you know that breathing is the only thing that you can both consciously and unconsciously control?

This blog is about the idea of breathing. I’ve recently been talking to a friend who is going through some difficult situations personal and business-wise. He confessed to me that he lacks self-esteem.

When I hear someone tell me that, I understand what they mean. So you mean be asking, “What does breathing have to do with self-esteem?” I’ll ask you in return, “What doesn’t?”

The fact that I can breathe and so can someone else who has low-self-esteem does not make us any different – we are the same because we are both breathing.

Try this experiment. Draw your focus to how your lungs are expanding and contracting. Count in breaths how long each inhale and exhale is. Pay attention to the temperature of the air entering your lungs. Picture in your mind the colors of the air as it fills your body and all the oxygen is dispersing into your vital organs giving your body the nutrients it needs to survive on this planet.

Depending on how you did this exercise, did you notice how you can be fully enamored by your own breathing patterns? If you didn’t, I suggest that you try the exercise again.

Our breathing is the very thing that makes us alive. The troubles of this life, all its surroundings, including this planet are not any different from us … we are not victims of this chaos we call the universe. We are the universe and the universe is us. When you are breathing, you are not breathing the air, you are breathing yourself and the air is breathing you.

When you consider the issues you are handling today, those issues are not separate from you. You did not originate in a world where candy is free and everyone wins the lottery. You were born into a world of problems the second your mother and father conceived you. Those problems are you and you are the problems you face.

Should this be depressing to hear? Am I trying to make life seem dull and unfulfillable? Is pleasure bad? Am I a masochist? No.

Pleasure is good, I love it. You love it. It’s normal to have pleasure. But pleasure is not the answer to our problems.

In summary, I’m saying that our answers to our problems will never be met if we lose sight of our privilege to live – our privilege to breath. Appreciate EVERYTHING.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Zen Simplicity

Not many things to leave out in this blog. Meaning that I have everything to share and nothing to hold back; I'm not going to pull any punches this time. This is honest and pure.

I've been dealing with some issues that are so internal that it'll sound entirely vague by nature. Besides the most recent break up that I've had. I find that it is an inevitable thing to suffer for the things that most people suffer from. ... In other words, each of us is not unique in the struggles of life, we all share the burdens of breakups, stress and other anxieties.

To cope with them is a matter of emotional composure, intellectual understanding and basic experiential skill. There can't be any other way to learn to be happy without tolerating the deterring of stress in life. Without that knowledge we would always constantly seek attention and help from others, in hope that they will take care of our problems for us.

That is what I noticed about my ex. She was always willing to listen to our discussions when issues arose and yet she could not decide for herself what the right course of action meant. She would refer to her other 'best friends' on the matter. One of them including her ex boyfriend of 6 years. Deep down, I did not approve of that; but externally I went with it knowing that she will do what she wants to anyway. I constantly ask myself in life: Should I take control of situations when they reach a point of no control? If so, how should I handle this? Is it morally correct to abort a situation like this?

Now comes the issue I want to bring up - control.

What is control?

Can it be that we think we are in control of situations where our emotions have the better end of the stick in life? Or is there something that exists that foresees moral dilemmas through the winding paths of possible outcomes of choice? Are we powered by Free Will or Determinism?

Thus speaks the philosopher.

But for something more practical and interesting ... I think it is right to mention (at least) that when we make choices, we learn from them. That's obvious. What bothers me is that when we make these choices, how come other agents (friends, family, co-workers, people) manage to make the appearance of their actions pertinent to a common unfortunate event? Most of these problems are "pin-point-able".

Here's my thesis:

I don't think that human interpersonal communication has so many negative degrees of relativistic chaos. All issues lie within the self and the self only.

For example, when I see someone suffering from a bad experience (e.g. a break up) the most plausible course of action is NOT to complicate it with relativism, its to simplify his or her life with a common solution.

My ex-girlfriend went back with her ex. She complicated her life by saying to me that she must have him in the picture. And with me in the frame, I had to be brave and leave the whole art gallery in this fiasco.

The point I'm trying to make is this. Unlike many of life's pleasures - which are easily accountable - our troubles with reality, in our attempts to understand that reality, our suffering is the key to understanding it page by page, day by day. In the struggle to make that change in our life happen is to make that lost piece fit in our mental maps of reality. Sure reality is complicated, but human beings are not. We're just here to complain about things reality complicates. But if we live together, we should simplify together also.

I'm suggesting that we think less about our struggles because in the end, we can all write books about our own fucked up stories. But its really not going to mean anything because time keeps leaving us and disappears away from existence. Zen teaches that the only thing that exists is the present moment.

So in the present moment, we should only lean on simple solutions to major problems in our relationships. I find that to be harmonizing but emotionally disciplinary. If you take this route of discipline, all other roads will pave themselves. Keep it simple stupid.


Wednesday, April 29, 2009


Every week I will be putting up a blog concerning my life and some of the things that float around in my head. I've been more accustomed to blogging on Mypace or Facebook and I have to say that the last time I blogged was literally 2 months ago.

Today was of an interesting caliber. Right after designing my first website, I could not predict that I would end the night singing Bush's Glycerine in front of a room full of college drunks. What came of it? I lost 4 bucks and I gained some fanbase. Apparently my rendition of Bush's Glycerine was moderately captivating. Although I think I could have done better. I agree with my best friend George when he critiqued me. "This performance" he told me, "did not have good vocals but you did play well."

On the side of the news, I haven't caught up with my history. I've gone through a relationship and a break up within 3 weeks of trying my best to be the good man that I am. I guess sometimes the heart is rotten and left with emotional attachements as is the case with her. No longer should I date women with post-break up syndrome.

Recently I've been encouraged to do P90X at my house whenever I have break time to afford. Honestly, I fiind it a bit out of my syncronistic lifestyle in which I work all the time and play equally the same. I'm going to have to sacrifice my play time again. Hah!

Also, on a deeper note, I've been contending with my inner self. It's been a few months since I've made it a regular practice to meditate in silence. There's always a deadline and an agenda to follow so I have to balance that out to make things work out for me. But back to my deep thought. Yes I've looked inside myself and found that I am asking the best questions again. I've realized that when I do some internal dialoage I tend to inform my non-mature self to grow up out of the anxiety-driven factors of everyday life. 

For example, I contemplated why I would ask a girl if she has a boyfriend or not. It might be a silly question for you, but I think its an inappropriate question ... however I've discovered recently that most women will not often care about what you ask them.

Sure if you ask a woman if she has a boyfriend she's going to figure that you're interested in her. But its fine ... the best way to live life is to not care about what other people think when you try something out for the first time. I have yet to ask a randomly targeted girl whether she has a boyfriend or not. But I believe it's about time.

Plus I think there's a more indirect way of asking that question that lends more respect and intrigue to the conversation rather than lust and desperation. Ask her, "Are you single?" Its quick, and its direct ... but it also does not communicate your intentions ... its more of a generic question that you would ask someone if you asked, "Where were you born?"

My problem is that I would be inclined to feel like I'm intruding in her private life ... or sex-life for that matter. But not anymore. I'm going to ask a pretty girl next time if she's single. Then if she says, "Yes why?" I'll say, "interesting ... you don't look like it" or something like, "because you're a fairly decent looking girl ... and for you to be alone would mean that you have problems with guys, what aren't you telling me?" And say that with a straight face, it'll kill them because I've already established that I don't want them for me. I won't even mention that I'm single ... I just want that question to rest in their heads for a long time ... And that's how the cookie crumbles.

In conclusion (the words we used to end our essays in the 5th grade) I will write more to elaborate myself. In the meantime ... go on youtube and enlighten yourself. :)

Sincerily yours,