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Category Archives: Philosophy

 When I went to college, I didn’t know what I wanted to study. My belief was that since I wasn’t planning to become a doctor or an engineer, I could simply choose to study what intrigued me. I was clueless about my future career, but I was raised knowing that I would attend college.

Both of my parents are teachers, so of course education was always valued in my household. That being said, my parents never made it seem like everyone needed to go to college, just that everyone should have access to education if they choose. It was very obvious from an early age that I loved learning and that I would continue my education after my required schooling.

Anyway, I decided that my college experience would be centered around my interests. I took an AP/IB psychology class during high school and did quite well, so I considered continuing psychology in college. I was turned off because of how impacted the major was- I couldn’t even enroll in a psychology class my first semester (first year students have the last slot for enrollment) so I signed up for “introduction to sociology” instead. I was immediately hooked.

Sociology is wonderful because it is so broad. I took courses on social psychology, race and ethnicity, political sociology, sociology of the 1960s, sociology of sexuality, and even a class on riots and protests movements. I actually ended up with a minor in African American studies because I was fascinated with a perspective that was almost completely absent in my earlier education (save a week or two in February each year).

Looking at the world from a macro perspective allows us to understand what is occurring in the micro.

“As Above, So Below.”

Through my studies I integrated an understanding of a social paradigm, as stated here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paradigm

Another use of the word paradigm is in the sense of “worldview”. For example, in social science, the term is used to describe the set of experiences, beliefs and values that affect the way an individual perceives reality and responds to that perception. Social scientists have adopted the Kuhnian phrase “paradigm shift” to denote a change in how a given society goes about organizing and understanding reality. A “dominant paradigm” refers to the values, or system of thought, in a society that are most standard and widely held at a given time. Dominant paradigms are shaped both by the community’s cultural background and by the context of the historical moment. The following are conditions that facilitate a system of thought to become an accepted dominant paradigm:

  • Professional organizations that give legitimacy to the paradigm
  • Dynamic leaders who introduce and purport the paradigm
  • Journals and editors who write about the system of thought. They both disseminate the information essential to the paradigm and give the paradigm legitimacy
  • Government agencies who give credence to the paradigm
  • Educators who propagate the paradigm’s ideas by teaching it to students
  • Conferences conducted that are devoted to discussing ideas central to the paradigm
  • Media coverage
  • Lay groups, or groups based around the concerns of lay persons, that embrace the beliefs central to the paradigm
  • Sources of funding to further research on the paradigm

I was reading my cousin Jeremy’s blog and he had some beautiful words to share about the concept of freedom. https://thesandcounty.wordpress.com/

It got me thinking about how we often trap ourselves and restrict our own freedom because we are used to things being that way. Our society teaches us to be independent, driven, and to value the accumulation of money. We celebrate ruthlessness and even inhumane qualities in our quest for “success”.

We are not free to be ourselves if we accept the paradigm blindly. When discussing world views and philosophies, most people have a point where they default to “that’s just the way it is”, and “you have to be realistic”. I would argue that “the way it is” is a problem. Realistically, there is enough on this planet to take care of every entity inhabiting it, if we are thoughtful and united in our efforts. The hoarding of resources and wealth by the few is an accepted construct that must be shattered.

Taking time to meditate, reflect, practice yoga, or simply be in nature will allow you to become more attuned to the truth. I think about how fortunate I am to have time for myself. To have leisure time and to develop intellectual and spiritual pursuits is not a reality for many people on this planet. I see our technological progress as a means for our development as a species. We are able to feel the connection existing between all beings on this planet. There are people Cyprus, Croatia, Hungary, Canada, Brazil and Lithuania that are reading my words here. It is beautiful to know that arbitrary boundaries are not stopping the flow of communication.

♥/☼

Amanda

I learned about The Cycle of Dissolution from one of my beloved yoga teachers, Noell. She spoke about the three goddesses: Saraswati, Lakshmi, and Kali as the embodiments of each phase of the cycle: creation, abundance, destruction.

I am neither a Hindu scholar, nor a practicing Hindu. In fact, there is not a singular religion that I identify with completely. I view the ascended masters like Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Kuan Yin (and many others) as teachers that we can all learn from.

When Noell spoke of the Cycle of Dissolution, I immediately resonated with the understanding that we move through different phases in both a macro and a micro level. I find that any good teaching will vibrate in harmony with you. It is not important that you identify fully with a religion or ideology, instead it is vital that you take an active role in asking questions and internalizing the answers that you are given.

Creation→ Saraswati

Saraswati is the goddess of knowledge, music, arts and sciences. She is the force of creation in the universe. Her name (Saras= flow, wati= she who has) means that she is the flow of all creation. She is radiant, bright, and beautiful. She is the inspiration that flows through us in our creative pursuits. She is often depicted in pure white, seated on a white lotus, symbolizing that she is founded in absolute truth.

Abundance→ Lakshmi

Lakshmi is the goddess of wealth, prosperity (both material and spiritual), generosity, and the embodiment of beauty. She is the driving force within us to fight against what is evil or wrong. Her name is related to the sanskrit work (laksya= aim or goal) and represents the fulfillment of our creation. She is usually depicted wearing red (continuous activity) or gold (fulfillment),and  adorned in jewels.

Destruction/Rebirth→ Kali

Kali is probably the most misunderstood of these goddesses. Her name is derived from kāla, which means black, time, and death. She is the goddess of time and change, although she is timeless. She is not only deconstruction, but also rebirth, which means that she is the first creation before light itself.  She is often depicted with deep sapphire blue skin, a garland of skulls around her neck, standing on a pyre of bodies. Although this may seem grotesque to some,  her sword symbolizes divine knowledge and the human heads are our egos. She is usually depicted with little to no clothing, as she is outside the confines of our Maya (illusion).

These three goddesses are further connected to the three guṇas or fundamental operating principles/tendencies in the universe. These guṇas exist in varying degrees in all beings.

  • sattva guṇa- Saraswati; creation
  • rajas guṇa- Lakshmi; preservation
  • tamasa guṇa- Kali; drestruction
  • Sattva (originally “being, existence, entity”) has been translated to mean balance, order, or purity. IndologistGeorg Feuerstein translates sattva as “lucidity“.[6]
  • Rajas (originally “atmosphere, air, firmament”) is also translated to mean change, movement or dynamism.[2][7] (Rajas is etymologically unrelated to the word raja.)
  • Tamas (originally “darkness”, “obscurity”) has been translated to mean “too inactive” or “inertia”, negative, lethargic, dull, or slow.[7] Usually it is associated with darkness, delusion, or ignorance.[8] A tamas quality also can refer to anything destructive or entropic.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guna

It is helpful to think of your life as constantly flowing through these various stages. It doesn’t mean that our life has to fall apart at some point, (although that happens, too) but to grow we must constantly make room for what we wish to manifest, and to do this we must dissolve what is not serving us. When we are in the destruction phase, it can be frightening, but the knowledge that a greater understanding is being integrated can help us to look forward to our creation phase, and many of our favorites, the abundance phase. All of these are necessary, and learning to love each part of the cycle will help us to diminish our fear over what is unknown.

Currently, I’m in a destruction phase, which is usually viewed as the most frightening stage. I feel like I’ve had a cosmic flu, as if parts of me are dying off. Most likely, this is true, but I am content in knowing that while the dissolution takes place, rebirth is happening almost simultaneously. I don’t think that these phases are completely isolated; they  happen on a larger scale in our lives and they happen continuously in each moment.

During the destruction phase it is important to view what is breaking down and to learn why it is no longer needed. When creation begins, you are able to absorb the knowledge of the previous cycle and make something beautifully unique and honest. When the abundance phase is occurring, we are able to rejoice in the fruits of our efforts and celebrate with joy and generosity.

Do not become attached to one phase.  Do not dwell in the sadness of destruction, do not attach to your creation, do not cling to your bounty. They will continue to move, change and grow. The only way to maintain your bliss is to find the beauty in each moment.

♥/☼

Amanda

Every morning I have a cup of coffee with almond milk and I read The Oracle Report. It’s an energetic/cosmic/astrological analysis and I’ve found it to be very accurate. It’s a pleasant, grounding ritual to start off my day.

Here is today’s reading, just to give you an idea:

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Crescent Moon Phase

Today is all about what’s in the AIR. The energy motivates us to make changes, although we may not be sure which direction to take. We want to reform things. Listen to messages that are coming in around you. Look deeper within yourself for the change in direction you need. Overdramatizing situations will lead to overreactions, but doing nothing will lead to inertia. As people will want to break out of restraints, it may cause them to become argumentative or overbearing. Strength of character will be what wins out today. The position of Venus continues to ask us to get back to basics and simple pleasures. It is important to cultivate this in preparation for the upcoming Venus transit of June 5/6. Counter any complications by sticking to what you truly value. You can transform any situation by moving into your personal “center” and taking things down to the basic level and moving out from there. This will guide the directions we choose. To do this, however, we will need to slow down, especially when communicating something important. Mercury has entered Gemini, joining the Sun, Venus, and the South Node. Mercury is now contacting the last Sunday’s solar eclipse point, so communications, telecommunications (including devices) are prone to difficulties (especially for those born in the early degrees of Gemini, Virgo, Sagittarius, and Pisces). In other words, the eclipse energy is being re-activated to a certain degree (see last weekend’s post in the archives for more information on the eclipse energy). Again, slow down and keep things as simple as possible.

This is the actual website: http://oraclereport.com/index.html

There is also a facebook group that updates daily: https://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/groups/226589437450706/

Just thought I’d share something that I’ve found useful in approaching my day :)

♥/☼

Amanda

Before I started writing this blog, I had to sort through a lot of fears. To some degree I still feel them every time I post something. It’s mostly a fear that I am not writing well enough or that I’m going to be perceived negatively in some way. I’m not really a writer. I’ve taken a few writing classes throughout my academic career, but I never really invested myself in sharing my writing publicly. Fear is what has always prevented me from doing so.

While I feel shaky about my abilities as a writer, I can stay with 100% confidence that I am passionate, dedicated, and voracious reader. For as long as I can remember, I’ve been obsessed with anything I can read. As a toddler, I would plop a stack of books down and demand “READ A BOOK”. Thankfully, my parents are both teachers, so they always indulged me. I began memorizing stories, reading them over and over. Eventually I memorized words. I maintain to this day that the only reason I have done well in school is because I love reading so much.

However, I am not very discriminating in what I read. I definitely have my favorite stories and books, and I know good writing from emergent writing. I loved Crime and Punishment, The Brothers Karamazov, the works of Gabriel García Márquez. I’ve probably read every book in the Harry Potter series at least 20 times (this served as escapism/therapy during my teenage years) and I love me some crappy Young Adult Fiction. I read cereal boxes at breakfast and shampoo bottles in the shower. If there are subtitles on a movie I’ll end up reading them and not paying attention to what’s happening on the screen.

Any knowledge I have of grammar and spelling comes from repeated exposure to words by sight. I’m not detail-oriented. I’m a big picture type of person.

Anyway, since I started writing this blog, I have received some wonderful feedback, and I don’t think it is due to my writing ability. I think it is because I am writing honestly, exposing some of what is in my heart. As much as educated people like to criticize and pick things apart, it nice to remember that some of the most intelligent people are not educated or trained in a formal sense. I think that a lack of indoctrination can be a good thing.

My generation was force-fed the idea that we needed to go to college if we wanted a good life. And by a good life, I’m pretty sure that meant possessing money. While I will say that having enough money certainly helps, we all know that it does not equal happiness. Many of my friends graduated college with a ridiculous amount of debt looming over them, and a shit-tastic job market waiting for them. Suddenly going to college did not guarantee a stable job.

Obviously our ideas about education need to change. Currently, we are pumping out students that are experts at filling in bubbles, but lack creativity and passion. This idea that everyone needs to go to college is dysfunctional. Yes, there are plenty of people who should go to college. But we also need mechanics, plumbers, etc., and it would be great to see us actually make some products with artistry and not just consume them.

Fear drives so much of our lives. We fear that we are not successful. Often, we don’t really stop and consider what success means to us, as individuals. It isn’t the same for everyone and it shouldn’t be! What type of society functions properly with a bunch of brainwashed drones? I don’t even watch the mainstream news because the amount of fear mongering is astounding. It paralyzes us, preventing us from growing and thinking for ourselves. It causes us to cling to our identity in an “US vs THEM” mentality, making us easy to manipulate. I won’t get political here, but I’m sure you can extrapolate.

If we want to live a passionate, creative life, then we need to release our fears. Stop worrying that people aren’t going to approve or that you might look weird. I realized recently that I overuse the word “crazy” because to me, most people I admire can be “crazy” which actually means that they think outside the current paradigm. Which brings me to this:

“There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy.”

-Henry Miller

If you are not satisfied with the current state of the world, stop allowing it to determine what you are able or unable to do. Stop worrying that you will be seen as strange. Each one of us has something beautiful and uniquely our own to share. I write this for myself as much as for anyone else, so that I will continue to honestly and openly articulate what is in my heart. The language of the heart is universal, it doesn’t matter who is speaking, love simply resonates.

♥/☼

Amanda

 (aka Camatkarasana or “wild thing”)

Weekend three of yoga school has left me feeling inspired, accomplished and open-hearted. Yesterday we all taught a series of five standing poses with transitions, which was wonderful practice and physically demanding. We did countless standing splits, revolved triangles, pyramids and half-moons.  Today was backbends, which are so invigorating! The above picture is a backbend called Camatkarasana which translates to “the ecstatic unfolding of the enraptured heart”. I love sanskrit.

We also read more of the Bhagavad Gita.

The wise man does not unsettle

the minds of the ignorant; quietly

acting in the spirit of yoga,

he inspires them to do the same

Leading by example is the most powerful way to have a positive influence on others. It is great to share your experiences to help other people when they seek assistance, but trying to shove an ideology down a person’s throat is never the answer.

I began this week feeling energetically drained and emotionally heavy. I still managed to practiced yoga daily and I believe that really helped to keep my emotions in check. That is not to say that I repressed what I was feeling or tried to hide it. I practiced being an observer of my thoughts and feelings and by doing so I let a lot of baggage go. On Monday, when my emotions were at their most vulnerable, I allowed myself the time to really indulge those feelings. I cried like a baby and took a nap.

Throughout the week I continued to come to face with some habits that aren’t serving me, as well as some frustrations/annoyances that I needed to examine at a root level. I’m not saying that I am cured of all these maladaptive behaviors, but they don’t control me any more.

Yoga has really helped me to work on my mind, body and spirit. You might think “How does stretching your body help you to become a better, happier person?” and the truth is I don’t really have a definitive answer. I only know what it has done for me, and that so many others report its amazing benefits. Yoga makes you more aware of your body (its strengths and limitations), which then extends to your mind, calming your thoughts and allowing you to reflect on your own conscious state.

Once you venture down the path of awareness, you can never go back. I think this frightens many people because it means facing some not-so-pleasant aspects of themselves. But what is amazing is the fact that by just acknowledging our shadow self, not judging it, we diminish its power over us. You make room for so much more love and light and joy in your life.

♥/☼

Amanda

“We are luminous beings.

We are perceivers.

We are an awareness;

we are not objects;

we have no solidity.

We are boundless.”

~Juan Matus

Shared from: http://www.mysticmamma.com

Meet my little Chihuahua/German Shepherd mix, Rumo. He’s had a crazy life…found wandering the streets of Tijuana, locked up in a kennel, etc. When we got him, he was a frightened little guy that didn’t know how to use stairs and he licked constantly to soothe himself.

In the past year and a half, he has become more of a proud little wolf. My husband is amazing with animals and he has helped break Rumo of his dysfunctional habits. One thing about Rumo that will never change is that he is opportunistic. I just know that he had to scavenge to get by for a long time and he is quite a survivor. The only thing Rumo loves more than food is attention. He’ll take a belly rub over treats any day.

So recently, he’s been doing the strangest thing. As a little dog, he gets stepped on and knocked over occasionally. Whenever this happens, I feel awful and I pick him up and fawn over him, smothering him in love. Now he has started putting himself in places where he’ll be trampled ON PURPOSE!

I had wondered about this for a while, as I noticed him constantly under my feet. But it was really cemented last night when Daniel was out in the livingroom with him. Daniel told me that he pet Rumo and then began using the computer. Rumo then snuck around right under his feet… and was promptly stepped on. So Daniel took him into our bedroom where Rumo’s bed is on the floor, and went back out to use the computer.

It gets better/worse. Our little masochist put his legs in front of the door so that when Daniel came back in, he cried and wailed like a baby!!

I have begun to relate this story to what is happening with some of my students now. I had a pretty stern talk with them yesterday about the fact that they are so disrespectful to not only me, but to each other. I told them that they if they acted with maturity that they would have more privileges. I asked them “How would you treat me if I talked to you the way you talk to me?” One little smart ass replied “with kindness”! I can assure you that this is not true, as he regularly calls other students “dumpster babies” and “dirty twats”. But that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, I felt my response come out of my so naturally. “By being strict and continually making you learn and grow, I am doing you a kindness. If I just gave up and let you behave the way that you do, you might think that I am being ‘cool’, but in fact I wouldn’t be doing anything for you at all!  You should be happy that I care enough to give you tough love.”

And for once, a hush fell over the room.

Just like with my little Rumo, sometimes you have to think about what is actually a “kindness”. I can’t fawn over Rumo the way that I have when he is hurt because he could be seriously injured someday if he keeps up his antics. And I can’t allow these preteens to run with what they’ve been taught (or more likely, what they haven’t been taught). Kindness isn’t always the fuzzy sweetness of this raccoon:

Sorry I just love that picture… had to put it in :P

Sometimes it is difficult to give and it is often unappreciated. This is where detaching from the outcome comes in. It is hard to do, but it is essential. You have to act in alignment with yourself and allow the situation to unfold as it may. Usually, the less you try to control, the more things will go your way.
♥/☼
Amanda

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