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Tag: religion

What I’m Giving Up for Lent

Let me preface by saying I was not raised a Catholic. But over the past few years, I’ve been interested in the religion and the messages that it has brought. I would be considered a non-practicing Buddhist, going to temples from time to time and I find the spirituality of Buddhism refreshing. The teachings of Catholicism however has been really inspiring and I’m on a journey to seek out more information about the faith and their practices, partaking in many of the things that Catholics do.

One of these things is Lent. I have never sacrificed anything for a long period of time before and I find it mesmerizing that so many people during this time period are willing to give up something in the name of religion. It’s truly remarkable that one’s faith can surpass one’s addiction, habits, and routine behaviors. That said, this year, I want to give up something as well and it’s a little bit embarrassing to admit what it is. In fact, I don’t even know if its professional to write and/or admit this. My interpretation of lent is that you are supposed to give up something that is really difficult for you give up and that it teaches you to control your urges, your desires, all in the name for what Jesus himself has sacrificed.

I’ll begin by saying that I believe in the notion that men and women has urges, desires, and they needs different ways to release those urges. What I’m giving up is something that stimulates my urges and desires and is a medium I use, let’s say, to assist me. I’m talking about pornography. There’s a lot of taboo that surrounds this visual art and it’s something a lot of people do not feel comfortable talking about. My personal take on it is, what you watch and do in your private household, should be yours and yours alone (granted that it is legal). I don’t think there is anything wrong with men or women watching pornography and using that as a way to enhance their sex life. To a degree, I find it quite informative in terms of building sexual knowledge and allowing for more fun in the bedroom. However the issue with pornography lies in the fact that so many people rely on it too heavily and this results in a lack of intimacy between partners or may even create sexual frustration in those who don’t have sex as often. In addition, pornography provides a false reality to its observers and in effect can create envy, jealousy, and even perhaps a sense of inadequacy.

I admit that from time to time I have experienced all of these emotions and fault pornography. But is it really pornography’s fault or is it because an individual’s self esteem isn’t strong enough? I think everyone should be confident and proud of who they are and happy about their life and everything will fall in place as a result. However, I think watching pornography consistently derails people’s ability to think in a positive manner and that is why, like everything else in life, be seen or taken in moderation. That said, I want to give up pornography during this period of Lent, not only to experience the personal sense of sacrifice I am making for a religion, but to also see the impact it could have on my self esteem, behavior, sexuality, and in general, life.

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I Prayed Today

I would consider myself more of a spiritual individual than a man of religion. Growing up, my parents, stemming from a Vietnamese household, seemed to be more focused on Confucian teachings rather than Buddhist ones. Granted, there were times that we would go to temples annually and we prayed to various deities and had shrines in our home, I, however, never felt the pressure to conform to the religion. I had the freedom to believe in anything that I chose and that has made me into a very diverse individual and I believe, accepting one.

I’ve been interested in the Christian faith for a while now. Is it ironic that I know more about the Christian religion than I do about the Buddhist one. I think the media exposed me so much to the various epics such as Noah’s Ark, Adam & Eve, Moses, etc. Unfortunately, my conception of Christianity as one that ostracizes certain groups of individuals has made me a bit more hesitant to join, but at the beginning of this year, someone left a Bible on my work desk (someone who knew I’ve been wanting to get a Bible for quite some time) and I’m hoping to read it sometime over the course of the year.

But back to my initial posting. Today, I prayed. I prayed to both God and Buddha, because to me, they are one. I do believe there is a higher being and I wanted them to know my thoughts this morning. I wanted to thank them for the tremendous gift that they have given me; the gift of Life. I have learned throughout 2013 about something called gratitude and I have never realized how much I took my life for granted. There are so many things in this life of mine that I am grateful and it is because of them as well as my own personal actions that I have been able to live the life I choose. They have provided me with so many opportunities to excel and I am eternally grateful for it.

I find it cliche but in my prayers, I couldn’t help but compare my life to those who are less fortunate. I told God and Buddha the reasons why I am grateful; that I have a home. The fact I am able to type this post on my computer. My friends and family. And at the same time, I kept at the back of my mind, my respect for those on this planet who do not have those things and I couldn’t help but feel a little bit sad. It allowed me to really focus on myself as a human being and made me reorganize my priorities.

If you are feeling sad and disappointed (which ironically I did late last night), take a moment to pray and re-evaluate your life. Really think about what you have been given, and it’s just amazing to see what you can come up with. I prayed like 15 minutes ago and throughout this post, I have been smiling, sent a text to a friend saying I love them, and just feeling very happy overall. Have an amazing day friends.

The Concept of Not Existing

Date: 9/23/13
Personal Prompt: Death and Non-existence – Lack of Conscience/Awareness

Answer: I recently had a discussion with one of my very good friends recently about a topic that many of us want to avoid. It is about death. And not only about death but, the feeling and the fear that thinking about such a concept invokes in your soul. It is a really creepy topic but it has to be talked about because of its inevitability to happen to each and every one of us. The thought of death and the idea that you will one day not exist can have a psychological impact on your mindset and needless to say, I still struggle with the idea and would love to hear your thoughts about your experiences/your thoughts on death.

Let me first explain my fear, the one that sends such a strong chill down my spine. It is perhaps the one thought/idea that paralyzes me when it comes into my conscience and I consider myself very strong-willed. I also consider myself spiritual and do believe there is an after-life but even then, the idea that I’m going to discuss is so mind-boggling that I may even have to consider talking to a therapist about such issues.

Have you guys ever sat down or laid in bed one night and looked up at the ceiling and then think about your existence in this world? Have you been observant of the fact that you are “living” – embracing your senses with seeing, smelling, hearing, touching, and tasting. Now think, and I’m going to get gloomy, you’re going to encounter death one day and tell me, you will no longer be able to use your senses at all. In fact, you cease to exist. You will have no sense of consciousness. The big WHAT IF question is: “What if there is no afterlife?” What if what you’re living now, is it. And when you die, kablam, kaput, nothing afterwards. Obviously you won’t be aware that you are dead but the fact that you no longer will “exist” is pretty darn scary is it not? Thinking about such topics has such an immense psychological impact on your mind because of the concern and worry it can cause.

Death is such a taboo topic but I think it is quite important to discuss it freely. I stumbled upon this forum while searching about other people’s question on the idea:

http://www.escapistmagazine.com/forums/read/18.311119-What-is-so-frightening-about-nonexistence

And a forum poster named TakenBoy wrote this:

I guess because nonexistence is foreign to us. Everything we have experienced in our lives, heck, EVERY SINGLE ASPECT of our lives has been nothing but existence. Even those dream worlds that may exist in our minds are in existence, albeit only in our minds.

Nobody has ever experienced nonexistence in their lifetime, as life is nothing but existence, so of course it’s a bit difficult to comprehend fully. The idea that the afterlife will be nothing but eternal darkness, except you can’t see anything so it won’t be darkness and that you won’t be experiencing it and… Yeah… It’s actually quite a bit to wrap your head around.

So what if this is true? Isn’t that scary? Even if you were in hell, you are “experiencing” this idea of consciousness.

However…when I was researching the topic, someone else brought up a good point. If non-existence is scary to some of us, then eternal life will be scary to others. Imagine living forever in the afterworld for hundreds, thousands, millions, billions, trillions of years! Will things get repetitive? Will it be boring to the point you ask that you not exist.

For me, as much as it is a scary concept to comprehend, I want to face it head-on. I want to encounter these mental thoughts and think to myself, it’s okay to be scared but this is part of life. I have strong belief there is a different world/life after this one has ended. Whether it be re-incarnation or a heaven/hell, when my time comes, I’ll have something. It is too depressing to believe that there will be NOTHING after this life and if that is the case, then I won’t be conscious or have these emotions/thoughts anyways, so why does it matter. Life is too precious to dwell on death and not living. I want to make the time I have on this life amazing and do the things that I want to do. But from time to time, it’s important to have these discussions and thoughts to kind of show us how important it is to cherish our existence.

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