How to cure your spiritual diseases?

A great deal of mankind psychological problems are in fact Spiritual problems. What’s the difference? Psychological problems have a link to physiological matters, represented in how brain neural circuitry and chemistry are impacting and directing you. Depression, for instance, is a psychological problem and a depressed human brain EEG or MRI imaging is differential from those not depressed. Physicians treat this with antidepressant pills; besides, in some cases, adopting psychological techniques such as CBT (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy) to aid the process.

However, there are no pills to treat envy. No pills to treat arrogance. No pills to treat cowardice. No pills to treat unjustified fear or panic attacks resultant from, for instance, fear of death. Such are good examples of Spiritual Diseases. Scientifically or methodically, they are enrolled under psychology Personality Theories as personality or character disorders; however, I always seen them as illnesses attacking the spirit not the personality. They are impacting your own very core; rather than a mere representational layer called personality.

Spiritual diseases have only one fundamental root cause: being self-centered. If you want to get rid of 95% of your spiritual problems, stop being occupied by your self only. The less you are occupied with your self, the less you would face such diseases. How to break this pattern? Live for something outside you. Live for others. Don’t say that people around you don’t deserve that you live for them. Ironically, you live for them because YOU deserve to be healthy from spiritual disease. It’s as if this entire universe is designed that we connect. No other way. And it makes sense! If it wasn’t that forced by design, no life would be there – if we had the choice to get away from people we didn’t like or could survive by eliminating others. If you are interested in scientific proof of what I just said, I’d recommend you read Daniel Goleman’s Social Intelligence book. It contains latest neuroscience research about how our brains are designed to connect to the extent that the absence of which is denounced in structural changes in our brains.

And to connect does not mean you spend time on Facebook. To connect is more fundamental than this. It’s to connect with your externals. Here are some examples that you can use to connect – AND to cure your spiritual diseases:

  • Your Work. What you do and produce is a connection between you and people dependent on your output at work. It’s also a connection between you and all the clients impacted by your work. You connect to your colleagues and customers through the work you produce. From that end, think of your work everyday as being part of you getting out and linking to other people. Think of how you are tied to them. You work to connect.
  • Your Study. When you study, you read for other professionals. What you read is not just words. It’s other’s hard effort and sweat. An organism breathing with their blood and mental effort. You connect with them. Not only this, you become a connecting ring in the chain yourself as you propagate forward what you learned in form of practical work you do or knowledge you teach or transfer. You study to connect.
  • Your Commute. You go out everyday. Being light-weighted to those around you. A greeting. A smile. An assistance to old person or a relieve to a troubled person. You commute around people to connect.
  • Your environment. Everything around you has energy level (chemistry people know this). You connect with your environment by being in the same energy band. Want an example of how that feels? Remember that day when you heard good news of being promoted or the good news of being accepted in a scholarship or that job offer or hearing a love word for the first time from the person you loved. Remember how you walked in the streets back then. It felt like everything around you is in alignment with you. It felt like you are extremely harmonized inside that you no longer perceive what’s around you as something separate from you. This is being in the same energy band with your external environment. Feel the air breathe, the birds singing, the sun rays on your face. You look around to connect.

Don’t ever have fear of living for others around you through your work or just living; concerned by living for them you would be oppressing your own self or denying her the attention or care needed. Contrarily, your own self would come to you in a perfect recollection from what you do to other. Connect and you become a better you. A person without Spiritual diseases.

Live Peacefully

Life should be lived calmly and pleasantly, as much as we can. Because it’s life. For believers, we will all cease to an end and get transferred to something else permanent. For non-believers, we will all cease to an end anyway.

Even at times of calamities, one should transcend life and realize that it’s time to understand that in whatever ugly conditions one may be living in, it will come to an end. All will end.

Live peacefully. Live richly. Work and enjoy the work. Enjoy the commitments and the responsibilities.

Live. And don’t fret much about bad things. For nothing bad is permanent.

The Regret Paradox

Regret is a painful feeling, differential from the rest of other painful sensations. What makes Regret more painful than other negative sensations is that it comes associated with a confirmed sight or perception of what’s right, the right thing that was supposed to be done at the moment we did the thing that we are regretting now. The source of pain in this sensation is thus due to finally seeing the truth or the correct thing that we were suppose to do, but now with no revert. That’s why dropping something in the past that we still have the time to do now does not yield the Regret sensation even if what we kept doing in the past was wrong and now we see the right. This is because we still have the time to do the right; we learn to forgive our past easily that now we can wash it by doing the right going forward. Regret is painful because we finally see what we supposed to do YET time to do it is gone and there is no revert. Both of these elements are must to yield the sensation of Regret.

When I reflect on events or actions in the past and see that something was supposed to be done, the right thing subjectively, instead of what was done, I find that at that time when I did the thing the way I already did, I was still seeing the other way of doing it, but still chose to do it the way I did; the way I am basically regretting now. This refines the past paragraph description of regret a bit: regret is not always associated with a SUDDEN realization of the right thing we ought to do instead of what we already did. In many cases, we choose to do something that way while being in full perception of the other way. In this specific case, when we come to regret the thing now after the time has passed, Regret becomes compounded with the Feel of Guilt. So you regret not seeing or doing the right thing and now the time is gone + the sensation of being guilty for not doing what you had to do because you were fully aware of it but chose to neglect.

In this latter case of Regret, I find Regret a bit paradoxical. I am confronted with a situation. I am aware of two options X and Y. I tend to do X, but at the same time I am inclined to Y. I choose to do X anyways – for whatever reason (being easy, being close to my mood…etc.) Now years later, basically when one suffers the consequences of doing X, Regret happens. This is one scenario and it’s straightforward. The second scenario happens when you do X and then realize that no, you should do Y – here the time is still with you to revert your action. You start to think about making the move from X to Y in order not to regret it in the future. However, you start to feel that shifting to Y will make you regret leaving X. Here is the paradox, Regret in X and Regret in Y. What happened? Why when we still have the time to do X or Y, we are chased by the ghost of regret in both?

In my opinion, in such cases, there is one event that is Real Regret and the other is the Fear of Regret, disguised in regret. We see regret in both because we are unable to differentiate between what’s the one that holds real regret and what’s the one that just holds the fear of regret, but not regret. If you are a regret-based thinker, then, you find it difficult to take decisions or choices in your life under these cases when there is no clear distinction. Admittedly, thinking of regret before the event takes place involves sort of prediction to the future; you are trying to anticipate some events that will take place in the future based on your present choice and you are evaluating whether these events are what you want (or want to avoid) or not. And we are not mistaken to fall a prey to such paradox. Because in many cases taking the decision to move from X to Y entails giving away something we cherish at the present – because if not, we wouldn’t have this paradox in the first place, that is, if X has nothing to cherish or give away, we would be happy to leave it altogether to Y with a lot of ease. Since we are evaluating leaving X to go to Y while X still holds something we like at the present, we become afraid of regretting leaving what we liked at the present to something that we perceive as having something we like too when we go to it, but fear that it turns out to be fake or at least less pleasant than what we gave away as a cost. This even becomes more misleading when Y has some rewards, but futuristic and that you choosing to revert to Y, you will still have to bear some hurdles at the beginning before you reach the rewards. Trading off something we like and have NOW (Instant Gratification) to something that we could be liking more but not now in the future is something sufficient to trigger that paradoxical feeling of Regret. We start to question what if what I anticipate that I will like in the future did not turn out as it should; in this case, I will futuristically regret leaving the pleasure of X for that thing. And at the same time, we think, what if I neglected this futuristic liking because I have what I like now, but in the future what I am liking now will fade away and at that time I will be regretting that I did not choose the event in the past that would have brought me the liking now. That is, the future for the now will be the present when you reach it in the future. We travel with our minds in the future and imagine ourselves there; thus, we become as if we are living two existences at the same time. Thinking ahead is one of the challenging humanly ability; unlike animals that are only concerned with the present moment.

Unfortunately, I won’t tend to put conclusions here because there seem to be no definite one, in the sense of putting something to theorize about. Some people say go and do what you have to do. Some Self Help books preaches for do what interests you whatever the case. But, you know, it’s not that easy. There are considerations that tie us always. And these preaches of some Self Help books under the theme of “Living your life at fullest” or “Living the life you want” contradicts Moral Philosophy theories in many ways. That we are moral agents guided also by duties and obligations. “Living the life you want” in the incomplete way Self Help books preaches for simply drops this Moral consideration. They are animals that can just go and live the life they want; because they don’t have moral obligations to any other thing. But for us, as humans, our moral obligations sometimes stand between us and what we want to do. In this case, as thinking humans, I am still not saying that we follow obligations on the account of how we want to live, but per the same Moral Philosophy theories, self-interest is still something of consideration. This is one point. The second point is that not always what contradicts us are obligation and duties. Sometimes it’s just us not knowing exactly what even would better represent our best self-interest. That is, if you have zero obligations to any other object except yourself, you will still witness to Paradox of Regret because you would be unsure which choice X or Y would really achieve your best Self-Interest. So the problem seems to be, in terms of the Paradox of Regret as I explained above, that in defining our real Self-Interest in event + resolving any clashes with Moral Obligations existent.

Thus, my only advise (or sort of conclusion, I would say) is whenever confronted by the Paradox of Regret, that is, being chased by the ghost of Regret in ALL the choices you got, try to 1) clearly define your best Self-Interest and 2) clearly define any possible clashes with Moral Obligations you are tied to. Then, analyze them against each choice you have. Which one would be meeting my best Self-Interest? And in doing so, what Moral Obligations that would collide with it? And are there any ways to resolve this collide? If yes, then, go ahead, choose, and resolve these clashes. If no resolutions to these clashes or middle-way, do I need to make specific sacrifices? And if yes, will the gain I will have outweighs these sacrifices? And if I made them, will I afford losing them? This is because in many cases the gain will outweigh, but one would not afford losing something in the journey till the gain is reached. For example, to lose having a respectable salary in order to be a university professor after some years – that is, living as a graduate student with low level university rank jobs on moderate stipend. When you become finally a professor (just as you wanted), yes it will outweigh the benefit of having good salary working in a company with no interest, but you may not afford living in pity short of money for some years. Again, self-help books would preach sacrifice for the ultimate goal, which is true; however, you are the person who would live it, so you must be aware of them so that you design your psyche, life, and expectations on such choice and your sacrifices for it. The above self-interrogation with questions I listed is a plausible line of assessing choices for the purpose of resolving the Paradox of Regret. Yet, we should be aware that Regret is an integral part of life and that whatever we do, we should be doing it to minimize it, but not to avoid it altogether.

Lose Yourself In Action

“When evening comes, I return home and go into my study. On the threshold I strip off my muddy, sweaty, workday clothes, and put on the robes of court and palace, and in this graver dress I enter the antique courts of the ancients and am welcomed by them, and there I taste the food that alone is mine, and for which I was born. And there I make bold to speak to them and ask the motives of their actions, and they, in their humanity, reply to me. And for the space of four hours I forget the world, remember no vexation, fear of poverty no more, tremble no more at death…”

Thus says Machiavelli in a letter to Francesco Vettori, Italian diplomat and writer, in December 1513. Machiavelli, founder of modern Political Science and best known for his political masterpiece book, The Prince, was a gifted writer in making visual scenes out of his writings. When I read to him, though he could be describing a strategy for the ruler on how to organize his army, I feel as if I am seeing how the army is getting organized before my eyes. In the above quoted from his letter, Machiavelli is beautifully picturing the tiresomeness of the day life – in which he describes his workday clothes as “muddy” and “sweaty”, denoting that what he was doing involved movements and actions (sweaty) on the ground, not in a comfortable room (muddy). Besides the sense resultant from this condition, it also infers that the physical body must be tired after that day of actions.

However, the remarkable thing about the message here is losing one’s self in something worthwhile that one enjoys doing for itself – not for money, not for fame, not for the boss. Beware! This is different from losing one’s self in a task at hand, like filling accounting balance sheet or envisioning a tracking system for an inventory. Machiavelli here is describing a higher level of engagement in something at hand, which is more than just the traditional busyness of our day work or house duties, that maybe can take our minds, but not our souls, senses, feelings, and the intellect. This is described by Machiavelli in that when he gets to study, his soul is teleported to another world; that he feels as if he is one of them – sitting with them, clothed like them, eating with them, and even discussing matters with them. Not only this, but he also feels as if they are responding back to him and answering him. An interactive experience. Such vividness of experience of the invasive absorption of one into something that close to his soul and mind is an experience to be envied. It’s the experience of losing yourself, with all its sides, in action. It’s a bliss that one can have something in his life that can take him away from his life – even if it was a living person. It must not be a study, or a book. It could be a dream, a beloved person, a mission in life… The key is the transcendence of the experience, of going beyond one’s self into something else. This is because humans need transcendence in their lives – not to live self-centred all the way in their course of life. We need that feeling. Besides the beauty of such experience sufficient for itself, that experience is also important as a defence mechanism: losing oneself in action is a shield from depression, despair, and negative emotions. This is because our minds can only focus in one thing at a time and when our minds are vacuum, there comes the chances for negativity to occupy that empty space. As such, losing ourselves in action, best if it was something we enjoy for itself and something that grabs all our senses and mind, is a therapy to many psychological illnesses – in fact, it’s an actual technique in psychiatry, termed as ‘Occupational Therapy’, in which patients are treated by getting them busy in something that absorbs them. As Tennyson said “I must lose myself in action, lest I wither in despair.”

Let’s not be dwelling into ourselves only all the time. Let’s give ourselves to something we deeply love and appreciate: a study, a mission, a memory, a beloved, or a thought … to give ourselves wholly so that, like Machiavelli had, we lose sense of our current world, our time, and even the clothes on our bodies and just transcends and be with that something – to tear the imprisonment of time and space and travel with our soul and mind to something beyond ourselves. If that something was of yielding a result, like a study or a writing or a mission in life, the outcome would be extraordinary if we did the thing with that level of transcendence rather than just doing it as a busy task absorbing only the mind. And if it was something that has no specific result, like a memory or a dream or a book we are reading or a thought about the beloved, enough with the outcome of losing ourselves and the exhaustion of our day into something we love – something/someone with which/whom we would just be happy being with with all of our soul and mind, even for a short time. This would the least bring us happiness and shield us from many psychological illnesses.

Aristotle – Worthwhile Quotes

Aristotle, my first philosophy teacher, was a well-versed philosopher. His writing style is tough and drought as sand, as some people descibe it. However, his dry, complex academic writing style are actually what attracted me to him and to philosophy. The first philosophy book I ever held in my life was an Aristotle’s book … And when I tell this story to my companions of philosophy, they get surprised that Artistotle’s writings are what got me into philosophy because, as I explained above, he is tough and solid. Aviccena (Pronounced in Arabic as Ibn Sina), a great Easter Philosopher, when he read Aristotle’s book Metaphyics, he couldn’t understand it. Ibn Sina did read that book 40 times before he could contain Aristotle’s thoughts.

Aristotle is called by philosophers and thinkers along the history till now as The Master of Those Who Know. To my teacher from whom I learned and still learning, I share with you a few of his remarkable quotes:

“Excellence is never an accident. It is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, and intelligent execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives – choice, not chance, determines your destiny.” 

“Those who educate children well are more to be honored than they who produce them; for these only gave them life, those the art of living well.” 

“Happiness, whether consisting in pleasure or virtue, or both, is more often found with those who are highly cultivated in their minds and in their character, and have only a moderate share of external goods, than among those who possess external goods to a useless extent but are deficient in higher qualities.”

“Suffering becomes beautiful when anyone bears great calamities with cheerfulness, not through insensibility but through greatness of mind”

“Love is the cause of unity in all things.”