When I was in my 20s, I used to criticize people who would get, what I deemed, unreasonably offended at hearing a swear word. I resented the fact that movies and TV were censored for dirty language, that a person could get fired for accidentally cussing in front of another full grown adult. This resentment came out of the ignorant belief that, as far as I could tell, there was no logical reason to be offended by swear words. It’s true that the very idea of swear words is an abstract concept that we, as a society, just kind of made up. We pretend there’s some inherent evil within these words even though they cause no apparent physical or mental harm, not even to children. And that’s how I justified my smug indignation: If there was no scientific or logical basis to take offense at swear words, then, clearly, taking offense at swear words was unscientific and illogical, and a society can’t function properly when we treat unscientific and illogical opinions with the same level of importance as opinions based in objective reality, and therefore we should not humor people who believe in stupid things. Continue reading “Oh for F&@k’s Sake: Swear Words and the Blinding Fog of Self-Righteousness”
Zoe and I were sitting around a bonfire at an open prairie campsite when a chipmunk cautiously ventured from the tall grass onto the mowed trail next to us, grazing for crumbs. The little guy was easily spooked, darting undercover at any sudden movement, but who could blame him? Birds of prey hovered constantly overhead, scanning. Our chipmunk lived under relentless threat of death from above. Continue reading “Separation Anxiety: Is Feeling Separate the Enemy of Happiness?”
I lied. At the end of my last post, after writing about my problems with the word ego, I promised to steer clear of any more wonky language rants and post my next update instead about the concept of separateness. But as I started researching that topic, I ran into a snag. I came across another word I realized causes just as much confusion and raises even more questions than the word ego, and I decided the meaning of this troublesome word ought to be clarified before I move on to other subjects, because it’s so central to what this whole blog is about.
The word I’m talking about is “spirituality.”
Ego is the archenemy of an enlightened life. At least, that’s the impression I get when I study modern Tao and Buddhist teachings. But when I talk with people about ego, including fellow Zen students, I get the sense that we never quite agree on what the word actually means. If ego really is the archenemy of the enlightened life, shouldn’t its meaning be universally understood?
It may not seem like anything special, but this sentence took me two weeks to write. The actual writing of the sentence took a few seconds, but resolving to sit down and spend that few seconds took two weeks. Why? Because I believed in myself. And that’s the problem.
I studied my forehead like I’d done almost every morning for the last year, observing closely just how much the scar between my eyebrows had faded, or if it had gotten worse, and then feeling a frustration rise up in my throat, a tightening of my neck muscles as I remembered the moment when I endured the injury that gave me the scar: cutting across a parking lot and walking headlong into a wire stretched so taut it was like walking into a brick archway. Continue reading “Of Mindfulness and Magic”
Caveat: Normally, for this blog, I’m going to refrain from discussing politics, but considering what just happened this November, I can’t resist using the election as a springing off point to talk about something bigger, something far more influential to our well-being than whomever the president is, something spiritually corrosive and downright deadly, but also galvanizing and, in many ways, good. So, without further delay, let’s talk about boredom…