Ontology Crisis: Do You Exist??

“Men need some kind of external activity, because they are inactive within.” – Schopenhauer

SchopenhauerSchopenhauer, a German philosopher, walked this earth from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, and he came to adhere to a faith in transcendental identity. Currently, I am not deeply versed with his work or philosophies, but I understand that he was influenced by Eastern philosophy.

This German philosopher and I share the same personality according to the Enneagram test.  “Men need some kind of external activity, because they are inactive within.” is a quote attributed to Schopenhauer and appeared during my personality study. Now one of my favorite quotes, it represents an ideal with which we should be acquainted.

If you busy yourself with cumbersome things for a long enough period of time, you will find yourself wishing you could do something else. You want to do something else because you are not fulfilled in what you are doing; in other words, you are not being you.

I know a number of individuals who, at some time or another, discovered that they are uncomfortable being alone for long periods of time. I speculate that this phenomenon occurs, at least in part, not because no one is around; rather, it occurs because you are the only one around – and you may be uncomfortable with yourself. Generally, being uncomfortable with yourself happens because you either know yourself well enough to believe you are worth disliking, or you know yourself so little that you are a stranger to your very self. I tend to believe the former is more commonly believed, and that the latter is more commonly the case. Once you come to a true understanding, or nearly true understanding, of what and who you are, you will understand that you are valuable.

You may or may not have noticed that 99% of the last paragraph is written in 2nd person: I repeatedly talked about you. This means that my assumptions are entirely up for debate, because I am not you. My question for you is the one I ask myself frequently: “who are you?

Becoming active within is vital because you are involved when I ask:

  • What do you believe?
  • What/who do you love?
  • Why are you here?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What is your dog(s)’/cat(s)’ name?

You can claim neither to have faith nor lack faith in anything without first knowing who you are to claim it.

Is faith, belief, religion, morality. etc. present without you first being present? No. If you are sleeping inside, your faith is a dream.

I do not suspect Schopenhauer holds any contention to external activity, but I suspect he would contend with external activity meant to distract from internal activity.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ: Is “ministry” your external activity? Or is it a surging from deep within that you can neither suppress nor escape?

To everyone: If you have not done so already, do a little “soul-searching”. It may just be worth it; after all, this is life you are living. You should live it as beautifully as you are.

Further Reading: I See Dead People: An Old Adage  is my response to You Are What You Love by Phill Easley; both deal more with personal identity and may be a helpful step in self-discovery.

 

 

 

 

3 Simple, Proven Ways to Start Your Day Off Better

“With something this disproportionate in their effects, how can we afford not to make time for them. You can do them in as little as three minutes each.” – Stephen Passman
Ladies and Gents, I cannot communicate the value of this advice; It is worth reading and applying.

3 Simple, Proven Ways to Start Your Day Off Better.

Law-Avoiding Citizen: Workplace Conduct

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.” – Paul, from Galatians 5:22-25 (ESV)

For the Christian living by the Spirit and thereby walking by the Spirit, a dichotomy between Christian-ethic and work-ethic cannot exist. The ethos of Christian faith epitomized in Galatians 5, the fruit of the Spirit, reveals the heart-condition of a believer. A Christian, like a tree, produces fruit according to its kind; if the fruit of the Spirit is absent from a believer’s spiritual limbs, that believer may be assumed to be a species of tree other than that of the Spirit. Living by the Spirit symbolizes the spiritual, life-giving blood of a believer; walking by the Spirit symbolizes the motion enacted by that spiritual, life-giving blood. Therefore, when an authentic Christian walks into the workplace, he will be walking in by the Spirit.

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The fruit of the Spirit stems from healthy, Spirit-filled roots; thence love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are neither guidelines nor rules: they are results. Thus, the fruit of the Spirit is not solely a mark of the perennial practice of virtue, which one can stop practicing; rather, the fruit of the Spirit is the hallmark of spiritual character, inundated by an idyllic cooperation with the Holy Spirit. Furthermore, results of the Spirit are neither severable nor discretionary once one engages in the business setting. An authentic, Spirit-filled, working Christian will:

  • Value peace with co-workers
  • Seek joy in work
  • Love even the surliest manager and/or subordinate
  • Understand patience with deadlines, new employees, and frustrating employees
  • Display kindness to both customers and co-workers
  • Strive for goodness in quality of work
  • Demonstrate faithfulness behind closed doors, when filing documents, or dealing with money
  • Exist in gentleness during both serene and tumultuous atmospheres
  • Exercise self-control­ when tensions tighten or a customer is most assuredly not right

4267332510_7229a0a729“Against such things there is no law…” surmises Paul’s emphasis on freedom in Christ, which is the context of Galatians 5. Likewise, following after the Spirit’s leading frees us from striving toward a standard of business conduct; following the Spirit’s leading generates a new standard of business conduct. This phenomenon occurs because following the Spirit is not following; rather, following the Spirit is walking because of Him. So, the Christian, living and walking by the Spirit, cannot divorce Christian-ethic and work-ethic.

 

Buying Time: Giving Much with Nothing

While ritually perusing Facebook, I scrolled across a post shared by a friend via Astig FM’s Facebook page. In a classic viral Facebook-life-lesson format, the post depicted an interaction between a father and his son. The story began when the son inquired of his father’s hourly income; taken aback by his son’s intrusiveness, the father resisted the request, but did not withhold the desired information for long. The father revealed his $100 hourly wage; after which the son soberly asked for $50 from his father. Now appalled, the hardworking father directed his son to meditate on his childish, selfish petition. Nearly an hour later, the father’s fumes settled and he proceeded to apologize to his son for involving him in the stresses of the day (the roots underneath the father’s aggravation). He handed his son $50, knowing that his son never asked for much; post-haste, the son pilfered beneath his pillow and pulled out another $50 that he had collected. Slightly perplexed, his father curiously asked why his son wanted more money, since he already had some.

The son responded: “’Because I didn’t have enough, but now I do…’ ‘Daddy, I have $100 now. Can I buy an hour of your time? Please come home early tomorrow. I would like to have dinner with you.’”

The hardworking, overworking father felt defeated and responded with a mending hug.

This everyday story extends to anyone who is distracted by anything, and priority assessment is the foundation. The father gave himself up to a money-making-mindset. Providing for his family, a worthy cause and the father’s heart-motive, underwent nearly fatal arrhythmia when provision garnered more attention than the very family receiving provision.

In the business setting, an industry’s resources become fully realized once tangible and intangible resources are both accounted for. Tangible resources (such as property, equipment, inventory, the building itself, etc.) are numerable, on the books, and may be dispensed of in accordance with the limited supply. Intangible resources (such as experience, leadership skills, time, etc.) are innumerable, off the books, and may be dispensed of in accordance with the flexible supply. Both tangible and intangible resources together constitute the whole of an industry’s resources; likewise, both tangible and intangible resources together constitute the whole of an individual’s resources.

Even when we have nothing, we have time; in giving someone our time, we become a benefactor. As long as we have breath, we have time – making us the owner of a resource rich in quantity and living value.

Time is everyone’s benefactor; as beneficiaries, we should expect to use our intangible resource wisely.

Unwrapping Time: Living Present

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“There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.” – Dalai Lama

Presence:

The culture in which I live interprets eye contact into various meanings: strength, care, respect, presence, etc., and each interpretation accompanies a degree of value. Presence occurs when two or more parties, engaged in discourse or the sublime company (or not so sublime company) of one another, come to an understanding of each person’s mental or spiritual presence. By U.S. sociocultural standards, little to no eye-contact in conversation translates as little to no attention/engagement/presence in the discussion. Making healthy doses of eye-contact during conversation tells the other party you are there – it tells the other party you are present.

Past and Future:

The past and the future belong to everyone; the past has helped and hurt most everyone, and the future has only yet to do so. Overly focusing on the past dwindles strength for today in that the strength used to perform yesterday is still in use as though the show never ended. Overly focusing on the future disrupts today in that the after-party is preemptively begun in the mind, confusing the immediate scene. Focusing on today rejuvenates the strength to satisfy today’s own needs and budgets the mind’s thoughts, mentally stabilizing for tomorrow.

Present Presence:

Focusing on today is making eye-contact with the present moment, being present in the present. The door leading to the past is locked; the threshold leading to the future is still being built – each of us exists in the same room of time – now. Shall we withhold love ‘til the future comes? The future never comes. Shall we falter in faith because experience (past) “taught” us better? Experience ought to redefine, renew, and fortify faith. Shall we put off “doing” today? If the past taught us anything about the future, it is that things change; today is the only opportunity to do. With the past behind me and the future before me, here I am betwixt and between alongside the present – now.

“…I looked in my rear view mirror to switch lanes. Then an idea formed in my mind. I have to use my mirror to look behind me in order to drive safely; however, I can’t continue to look back otherwise I will wreck. I believe this is like life; it’s important that we look back but if we continue looking back we sacrifice the life we’re living now.” – Brittany Echols, from Looking Back…

 

Usefully Useless: Redefining Purpose

Zhuangzi, a Buddhist monk, expressed the ideals portrayed on the pages of Zhuangzi Speaks: The Music of Nature. The following illustrations are modeled after the comic-book-style illustrations adapted by Tsui Chih Chung and translated by Brian Bruya.

“Zhuangzi thought, people need to be aware of their own existence. You shouldn’t always perceive yourself in comparison with others.”

Hui Shi’s Calabash

Hui Shi, an old friend to Zhuangzi, planted calabash seeds given to him by the king. The seeds produced larger-than-life calabashes, which Hui Shi used as water containers – not so successfully. The large, weak frame burst under the water pressure when handled, rendering his innovation useless.

Zhuangzi wrapped some remaining intact calabashes in nets, fixed them to his waist, and whirled about carefree in a nearby body of water. His clever improvement pointed the disappointed Hui Shi to an unorthodox concept: a calabash can, indeed, be used to hold water; water, however, can also hold a calabash.

Huizi’s Shu Tree

Assorted gnarls and twists afflicted Huizi’s Shu tree. Huizi worried that a carpenter’s plum-line may never grace the large, deformed tree trunk. Zhuangzi considered Huzi’s dilemma and sat with his concerned friend underneath what he believed was a splendid tree. He observed that the supposed maladies protected it from those who would otherwise desire to cut it down. This allowed Huizi to use the Shu tree for shelter, worry free.

Using the Useless

By not practicing what was commonplace for either the calabash or the Shu tree, Zhuangzi freely used the resources to his benefit. He was not shackled by the purposes chained to the materials at hand, as if either grew with a congenital, defined purpose.

We are individuals undefined by our society, peers, or denomination. We have unique strengths and weaknesses; what another may believe we are based on such is independent of who we are. We are neither this nor that – we merely are. A calabash is not a water container – it is a calabash. A Shu tree is not a craftsman’s raw material – it is a Shu tree. We are not our character traits – we are.