By Val Leventhal
Today Im focusing the scope on the Taoist symbol of the Yin/Yang. The nature of reality is a big question bigger than any mortal understanding. So when you seek answers, remember that, as in many scientific studies, the work will take many lifetimes. If you believe in reincarnation, as millions of people in the world do, then youll have the chance to continue your work beyond this life, but for now lets look at what you can learn during this one.
There are many schools of thought, both religious and secular, that have answers for the questions of how we are to live. In my own research and experience I have come across a few really useful tools for gaining insight. The Yin/Yang is one of my favorites. It is, to me, a perfect representation of the true nature of things. Im not a Buddhist scholar, so this is just my personal interpretation of the symbol, but I believe that this is its true usefulness that everyone who studies it will find his or her own meaning. You only get answers to the questions you ask, after all. And further, I believe that the true nature of reality is that it is all open to interpretation. So, lets go on to the symbol itself. There are at least four great teachings each worthy of a lifetime of meditation contained within this simple symbol.
By Jenn Weinshenker
Often when we are looking straight on at a thing our perspective becomes so narrow the truth we seek and the reality we see are totally out of focus. And the harder we try, to speak the sweetest prayer or be the harmony of a breath, the more we try to hold onto that instant of the awareness of the unity we share with all of life is to grasp. It is only by letting go of the important of our intellect, and the achievements we have cultivated that we will find purpose and peace and most importantly experience the beauty of balance and neutrality in the rhythm of all things.
Whether it is the sound wavelength of the air fluttering through the wings of a firefly or the intensity of its flame; what distinguishes one thing from another is merely the relative definition we have used to describe its form or function. In truth objects are not isolated and unaffected by each other. They are an infinite series of elemental probabilities, velocities and frequencies that invariably carry with them the traces of everything they are swirling in, around and through.
Winners and Losers
By V.J. Leventhal
For as long as I can remember, our culture has taught a competitive model in which everyone is supposed to work toward being “the best,” and anything less than the top position in any endeavor is seen as unworthy of notice. This impossible pyramid makes no sense for the lives of 99% of us. I see it as a misinterpretation of a valid goal of striving for excellence. In reality, there is no “best.” Even among top athletes, where the competition is clear and easy to define (the one with the most points wins the game), players will tell you that the most you can say is that on a given day, in a particular match, someone came out the winner. On another day, with the same competitors, the results may differ. And what sense does it make to call someone the best actor or singer or painter, when these things are so subjective? All this comparing and ranking mostly benefits people whose main concerns are things like market share and sales tallies. The result is a load of low self-esteem for most people, and a weight of unrealistic expectations for those at the perceived “top.”
In the 1960s, experiments in alternative education created methods such as mastery learning, in which each student works at their own pace through a graduated system of material. With the supervision of a teacher, one student may speed through spelling and grammar while another struggles, but no one is held back or pushed too fast. Everyone learns at their own rate, and the teacher is freed to spend more time with the slower learners who need her, while the faster kids are able to move forward and stay interested. It seems to me that since we are all here, a more serious attempt needs to be made to address the needs of every individual, not just those seen as superior.
I Think Therefore
By Jenn Weinshenker
In my early years I remember thinking that if I was smart enough and applied myself sincerely enough to knowing the truth, one day, I would be able to sort it all out. I read great books and asked lots of questions and thought it was only a matter of time before the light would go on and I would understand the true meaning of life. I used to say to my Grandma, I wish I could pour all of the things you have learned into my head. And she would say, I wish you could too, baby.
I remember enjoying thought provoking discussions with a very dear friend in Boulder. He used to ask me the most interesting questions. Not because I had any answers — about the only thing I knew back then was how much I didnt know — but because he had an amazing, genuinely inclusive curiosity about every thing. We used to talk about freedom and discipline and meditation and study, and of course, the meaning of life. During one such conversation he said something to me that hit me like a shock wave reverberating through my thick skull. He told me that there were some questions that were unanswerable. I couldnt begin to grasp what he was saying. I was incapable of accepting that the questions I had been asking all of my life; didnt have answers to them out there somewhere. I couldnt appreciate the hard realizations he had lived through which gave him the ability to respond to my angst with such peace. Unanswerable questions? How could that be?