The Importance of Philosophy

Busts Statues of Sokrates, Antisthenes, Chrysippos, EpikourosPhilosophy is a term that may conjure images of ancient Greek men with long white beards sitting around discussing the big questions of existence. I believe the word “philosophy” goes far deeper than history and speaks to the very core of everything we see happening in our world.

Philosophy is the way in which we think, and goes beyond thought itself. It is our ideas about the nature of life and death; truth and falsehood; our relationship to one another and all living beings.

The way we think leads to the way we live, and what we give to each other in thought and deed. Anytime we share our points of view on matters of politics, news stories, religion, and the many other topics with dominate our conversations, we are discussing philosophy. The philosophy we share with others also shapes and fuels the policies and actions taken by governments and institutions. Our philosophy is our idea and our idea becomes the reality we see.

True philosophy is by its’ own nature cooperative. Philosophy is a table for us to place differing ideas upon as each individual is uniquely different. when two philosophies meet in verbal discourse we are granted the exciting opportunity of learning from one another how to see things from a new perspective. This is the understanding of philosophical discussion which leads to peace.

When we do not see philosophy for what it is – different but neither opposed or unopposed viewpoints – we make ourselves the judge over the thoughts and ideas of another. This path leads to a mentality of agreement or disagreement; ultimately, war and destruction.

Competition, and in this case, the competition of ideas, is what some believe to be the key mechanism needed for progress.  It is seen often as a type of necessary evil to fuel our drive to achieve more, climb higher, and do more work. But that would greatly depend upon what kind of progress one means. Competition is a continuous game of one-up-manship. A game by which we are always looking to be a step ahead of our fellow man and woman. This is thinking is entirely against and at war with serving others, and therefore will always lead to the true benefit of none.

It is of highest importance that we share in philosophical discussion with each other, whatever our current philosophy on life and the world may be. Because sharing our points of view, ideas, and thoughts in honest and open discourse with one another is the key to how we learn and grow in life with each other. In order to have a truly open and honest dialogue we must see and discuss in terms of difference rather than looking to agree or disagree with what another might say. That is how we really listen to what someone else has to say. And the mark of a being true friend can be found in how well we listen to each other.

Thank you for “listening” to my writing. Now it is your turn to share your thoughts in the comments section below. Let’s discuss philosophy!

 

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The Way of Seeking Not to Seek: Introduction

Introduction

There seems to be an inclination within mankind to feel as though something is missing. What it is exactly is often difficult to put into words, yet we are left with the notion that there is something greater than little ol’ us – Great Truth – we must seek to find.

The problem with our search for truth is that we often look in all the wrong places. We look to preachers and gurus thinking perhaps that have a special connection to Truth which we ourselves do not have access. By following these teachers we think perhaps some of their special revelation will be extended to us.

We look to nature and the wondrous beauty therein; we think that in the physical forms of nature we will see the way things really are. This naturalistic pursuit of truth often leads to a purely mechanical view of existence by which we become convinced that physical nature is truly all there is and all that is true.

Within this book I will present ideas for us to play with, thoughts for us to expand our vision upon, and questions to inspire those thoughts – whatever they may be. I am writing this book because I enjoy writing about ideas I think to be vitally important to our lives and how we interact with one another. I am not trying to convince you of anything; nor convert you to my way of thinking. A true artist creates artwork they enjoy, and if someone else happens to enjoy their art, that’s alright. It is in this spirit that I write this book.

Ready to dive in? Here we go…

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What we believe about bottled water, may be entirely wrong.

The bottled water industry may be the highest achievement of public relations in history. The goal is to convince people to purchase water in a bottle at a store for $1+, instead of from their own kitchen faucet.

The goal is accomplished by implanting the idea that bottled water is much healthier, cleaner, and better tasting.  We are shown images of mountains and natural springs with inspiring tales of how amazing the water we are about to hand over dollars for truly is.

But, that isn’t the true picture of what bottled water is and where it comes from. According to a study produced by Washington-based, Environmental Working Group:

The bottled water industry promotes its products as pure and healthy but our tests show that pollutants in some popular brands match the levels found in some of the nation’s most polluted big city tap water systems.

Facts about bottled water industry

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What If You Didn’t Have Clean Water?

Clean water is likely the most valuable resource in the world, yet, so many of us cannot imagine what our lives would be like if we were one of the nearly 1 billion people on earth who lacked this vital resource of life.

What would your life be like if instead of being to walk into the kitchen to find clean water within your faucet, you had to walk 6 miles to fill a bucket with contaminated water – water that you knew would cause sickness – simply to survive?

What would your life be like if showers, bathing, and hand-washing didn’t exist in your world, but your entire community was filled with disease and malnutrition?

Water greatly impacts every aspect of our daily lives. It enables the growth of our food and every aspect of caring for our health. We who have free access to such a vital resource likely rarely give a thought to what our lives would be like if we did not have the plentiful supply of h2o streaming from our sinks and faucets. But we should.

I do not propose that the thought we should have is one of what it would be like to suffer as millions do without clean water; rather, our thought should be one of compassion and sharing what we do have with others who do not. Charity is not an act of pity for someone, but an act of generosity and recognition that others are just as valuable and deserve to live a quality, healthy life with the same opportunities and access that come with having clean water.

We not only have the opportunity to share clean water with those who do not have it, but we can do so in a very simple and easy way. Just $1 can provide clean water to someone in need for an entire year.

Consider the things we spend $1 in a day to purchase, and consider whether or not it may be something unhealthy. Would we be willing to change habits in order to give someone else clean water, the most important thing we need to live?

If you’d like to give $1 or more to provide clean water, take a look at the organizations I have connected with to provide clean water, and visit their links to learn and get involved.

 

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The Child Who Will Die If We Do Not Act

We are all familiar with the images spread by non-profit organizations of starving children with flies covering their bodies as they rot in the streets of impoverished villages around the world. This post isn’t going to be one of those advertisements. This post is not meant to guilt trip anyone into doing anything, but to inspire us with the notion that we can make a difference in someone’s life now.

In 2006 I had a dream. In that dream I was walking the streets of one of those impoverished villages of which advertising has made us familiar. I came upon a small child, sitting in the street, and instantly knew that his life would end tomorrow because he didn’t have clean and safe water. I also had the revelation in the dream that I could give my life for him to have another day, and I did.

From that moment I was changed. I now had a mission in life: to do anything I could to see that the child in my dream, as unknown as he was to me personally, would have a chance at living. And each of us has that opportunity right now.

Clean water is the most fundamental element of life. It is technically illogical that nearly 1 billion people on earth lack access to that vital resource. We have the ability, engineering capacity, and finances to make it happen – clean water for the world. But it has to be a priority. Providing clean water must be seen as highly relevant not only to those who are in need of safe water, but relevant to those of us who simply walk into our kitchen or step into our shower to quench our thirst and clean ourselves.

A water well, costing as little as $5,000 can provide clean water to 250 – 500 people for 10 – 20 years. This means that merely $1 can potentially give clean water to that child who was dying in my dream for an entire year.  Clean water not only impacts lives with quenching thirst and sanitation, but impacts nearly all other aspects of the health of the individual and community. Water enables agriculture and the growing of food. But more importantly than simply the physical benefits of clean water, it provides hope, and when a community has hope, everything changes.

Will you join with me in committing to eliminate the lack of access to clean water around the world? Please connect with me to discuss projects you may know about working to provide clean water, let me know about organizations I should support through my long-distance walking, or make a donation to fund the projects I support. Your donation, even if just $1 will have a huge impact on the life of someone in need.

Thank you for your time,

Dylan

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What would you do if fear didn’t exist?

Let us suppose for a moment that things like murder, poverty, starvation, having a place to sleep at night, and everything else we may fear do not exist. What would you do with that complete liberation from fear?

Your path is completely clear and open to do whatever you’d like.

I am extremely interested in hearing your responses. Thanks!

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Walking as Meditation

560919_324582447633583_2146583692_nI wish to write a few words on the topic of walking as meditation. Meditation, prayer, or whatever you want to call it, is a practice by which we become settled and at peace. It brings us to the present in that it is by its nature a manifestation of what occurs when we are quiet, still, and simply observe where and who we are.

Meditation is something which occurs naturally. It doesn’t need us to force the issue in order to happen. To intentionally meditate for the purpose of getting something in return, is not true meditation. To explain further we need to distinguish the difference between walking as mediation, and meditating as a means to an end.

As we walk to enjoy our surroundings, slowly observing the trees, people, and other living organisms, the experience brings with it a sense stillness. We didn’t need to look for it or try with all our might to be still, because of course if we’re trying really hard for something, exerting all of our energy for some purpose or pursuit, we aren’t being still. But when we let go of trying to achieve something we thought we didn’t have, we are finally able to see that we’ve always had it awaiting us to see it for ourselves.

As we meditate our thoughts seem to clear. It is not as though our mind becomes emptied, but the confusion of the conscious is put to bed. We come into contact with who we really are beneath the veiled thoughts and symbolic disguises that perpetuate our outward lives. In one sense, meditation brings us to a place where the mask we wear vanishes and we see who we are – who everything is – beneath the mask we call our persona.

Walking is a perfectly natural exercise, and the best way to be alert and aware of our world. There was a time in recent history where all of humanity walked all of the time. Perhaps you may have a grandparent who can still tell stories of walking 8 hours to school in the snow everyday. (Although I suspect some of those stories are at least slightly embellished.) We once walked all the time, anytime we wished to go somewhere. I propose that this is one reason for the increasing epidemic of obesity in societies which now rely so heavily on machine-modes of transportation. We now drive to a gym that is 5 miles from our home so that we can run 5 miles upon a treadmill. Does that make sense to us?

Walking should be done as the heart beats, as the lungs breath, and as the eye sees. You do not have to tell your heart to beat, it does it on its own. In this way, we should not walk for what rewards we might gain; rather, we walk because it is in our nature to need to venture beyond the four walls of our home. When two lovers get into a heated argument it is quite common for one of them to end the hostilities with a proclamation of “I’m going for a walk!” Perhaps if couples fought more often people would walk more as well. Ha ha ha. My point being that we intrinsically know that walking is an activity that naturally brings about a clearing of the mind and stillness to be at peace with who we are.

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How Walking Can Change the World

531479_324356400989521_2074277816_nIt seems such a simple act one can most naturally do – walking. So how can simply going for a walk make a difference in someone else’s life or truly do anything more than help us burn a few calories?

Long Distance Walking For A Cause

It isn’t everyday that a person walks much farther than their own mailbox these days. Cars and other modes of transportation have made getting to where we need to go faster and easier than throughout human history. So when a person makes a commitment to do something out of the ordinary, such as walking a long distance, it brings with it a capacity to raise attention for a cause we may be passionate about.

Personally, clean water is the physical need which I aim to help provide to the nearly 1 billion people on earth who currently lack life’s most vital resource. By doing something out of the ordinary, such as the ordinary act of walking (ironic, huh?), I hope to bring attention to the issue and hopefully raise funds for some specific projects solving the problem we face in our human world.

Meeting People You Would Have Driven Past

When we walk we have opportunities that only this 3 mile-per-hour mode of transportation could offer – meeting people. Nearly every person I walk beside or in opposing directions stops say hello which often leads to conversations and friendship. It isn’t always easy going deeper than the generic “how’s it going?” question and then continuing on without another thought. But most of the time by asking a simple question about the town or for a suggestion on a good place to eat, the door is opened to greater discussion and the opportunity is presented to encourage others and discuss the cause for which I am walking. In 2012 as I walking through Venice Beach, I would estimate that I had genuine conversations with at least 50 people in a day, which was a great audience with whom to deliver a message.

Walking is something that most of us are completely equipped with the two essential tools to do (a left and right leg). Many will cite the health benefits of walking, which are certainly evident, but I walk for the incredible people, for the beautiful sights, and for the cause.

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The Now Life

here_and_now_living_presentMany problems in this life derive from worry about the future and regret from the past. But truth and reality is here now.

The only way for us to recognize true life, true reality, and our true identity, is to recognize and directly engage with the present moment. When the mind wanders into the unknown territory of the future, we have a tendency to begin to desire control over our future, and this creates a problem. Once we believe we can control the future, we limit our life’s possibilities and rob ourselves of the joy that comes with not knowing the surprises that life will bring.

But what is far more robbing to our life, in living mentally somewhere other than the present, is that we live mentally in a place that is not reality, which is the definition of insanity. We do this because we have bought a lie that if we do not have a specific plan of what we will do and what we will accomplish that we will wind-up homeless, hungry, or worst of all – a failure at life.

As Jesus taught:

 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

I believe that Jesus, in the previous two paragraphs, teaches a truth is quite uncommon and foreign to western society. It is extremely rare that I have heard a preacher speak on this teaching with any true conviction (or from a place of personal practice). But I do often hear sermons in church about personal finance planning. In sermons which speak to the latter (personal finance planning), they even use verses to claim their personal finance advice is biblical and “God’s wisdom on managing your money.” Their first point is generally the tithe, ensuring that your 10% gets to pockets of the good clergymen. But I have never heard the above quoted verses referenced in a sermon about managing money, even though it seems to me that is exactly what Jesus was teaching about.

The Dalai Lama is quoted as saying, when asked what surpises him the most:

 Man; because he sacrifices his health in order to make money. Then he sacrifices money to recuperate his health. And then he is so anxious about the future that he does not enjoy the present; the result being that he does not live in the present or the future; he lives as if he is never going to die, and then he dies having never really lived.

Now, I believe that it is good to have goals; however, I use the word “goals” in the sense of that which is in your heart of what is truly your passion to do. A goal is not something to say “I will be this and do this at this exact date and time,” but a goal is something which you know to be an aspect of your heart. When we connect with what is in our heart, and see our true goals, they naturally flow out of us as live in consciousness of who we are. For example, let us say that a goal is love God with all of our heart, soul, and strength. If we were to set this as a goal, without realizing that it is who we are, we will always fail to reach that goal. We cannot love from a place of duty or obligation, as that is not true love. In order for love to be genuine and true, it must be given from a place of total free-will.

What are you doing right now, in this moment (obviously you’re reading this text)? Remember, as you go about your days to fully engage directly with what you are doing in each moment. In this way, you will see a difference in the quality and enjoyment you gain from what you are doing.

Who are you in your heart? I believe that every human being has the truth of reality within their heart, the place where peace, love, and happiness exists. However, we must see past the symbols and conceptions that our mind has been filled with by the external world to see what we possess within the internal world.

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The Love Flow

love-the-world-imageAll of life itself is found in the nature of Love. It is the nature of life simply to love.

That which is not Love is not truth. Love that is truly Love cannot be named nor defined in terms of words. Neither can any action itself be defined as an absolute manifestation of Love.

Love motivates our being. Love is who we are. The actions we see are the actions of Love happening. Love is as breathing. As we do not intentionally initiate our breath, so it is with living a life of Love. Being loving is our most natural state.

When we try to love; as though it were not the core of who we are; we are rendered incapable from truly loving another.

Love that is attempted to be given from our own works, not of our being, are superficial. There is no lasting benefit from actions such as these.

The one who understands their nature of Love also understands oneness with God. We see that God is in each one of us as we all in God and one with another. There is no separation between life and God in reality.

If we do not see our oneness with God, our oneness with all of life, we do not see the truth. We do not see reality.

God dances in the forms of life and death. As one dies; one is born into life. If we fear death we also fear life. When we are liberated from fear we embrace death as we embrace life. Death is not the end of our reality and life is not the beginning. They are components to the dance of the eternal reality.

God is reality and we are one with God. Embrace reality and reality will embrace you. Fear is the false reality. So do not fear.

We fear because we cling to that which are reality’s components but not reality itself. It is as though we are loving the attributes of a person without ever knowing who the person truly is.

The path to God is narrow and there are few who see it. But you do see it. It is being illuminated to your vision at this very moment.

The moment of Now is the only reality. To directly engage with this moment is to engage with the path of God.

We flow with our path as a river flows to the ocean. If we fight against the current of the river we may grow weary and exhausted. If we attempt to flow too far ahead we may grow anxious. Indeed; all that we try, is only to our folly. It is much easier to let go of our effort to control our path and allow the river to guide us where it may.

Either way, we cannot change our destination – reality.

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