Archives for April, 2011

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The Yin and Yang of Growth

Human maturation happens. Whether we pursue growth or not, we gain wisdom. But by actively trying to grow up, we can speed the process. This benefits our loved ones, who get to experience us as more giving, tranquil people. And it benefits the world, by increasing humanity's stock of enlightened beings.

I would add it benefits ourselves, but by the time we reach the state of Open Heart, that no longer seems so important. On the...
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Holistic Wealth

In seeking satisfaction, it helps to explore a broad spectrum of human potential. To use Ken Wilber's language, we can look at multiple "lines of development," such as material security, emotional bonding, and spiritual realization.

Our relationship to each of these important currents in life grows through relatively definable stages. For instance, our attitude toward material acquisition might start with concern about our own sensual pleasure, then extend to wanting to provide for our...
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The Inevitable Price of Love

I opened my last post by warning that its message might be upsetting, but my admonition may have been unnecessary and melodramatic. The essay said nothing too surprising. Today's post will bring us closer to the edge of psychic discomfort, I hope. For what's the point of blogging about mental health if you don't explore the raw surfaces of emotional life?

So what did I say last time? Desires can lead to trouble. I...
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The Danger of Trying to Feel Good

After so many posts and comments about hardship, an essay about pleasure seems appropriate. I should warn you, however, that what follows might be just as unpopular as my saying that life's ordeals foster human growth.

Most readers will be familiar with Positive Psychology. Championed most prominently by Martin Seligman, its thrust is that researchers have learned what makes people genuinely happy, and this information can be put to practical use. It is a...
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Clarity in Conversation

Sometimes when I get an intriguing comment, and especially when my response gets lengthy, I move both into the main body of the blog. It's an easy post. Maybe it's cheating. But often the most important material comes to mind after a challenge. So I'm leading off with a comment from Adnan, of Oslo, Norway. As many have, he takes exception my post, Growth Hurts, in which I suggested...
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Grief and Life After


Upsetting readers is a good way to garner comments, which always look good on a blog. Even so, I usually try to avoid riling my audience. Admittedly, I've been known to make statements likely to be disputed by militant atheists, but in doing so my intent is to respectfully challenge fixed viewpoints, not to insult or anger.

So at first it surprised me that my last post stirred up such strong feelings, both on...
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Growth Hurts

Does trauma edify? Does bereavement educate? Do we learn from hardship?

Anyone reading my recent posts would get the message that I believe so. And I doubt many would argue the point. Sure, in the face of recent loss the potential for growth may be hard to accept, but when people look back years later, many dreadful experiences can be seen as transformative. And the idea that life teaches us lessons has obviously been...
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One Suffering, One Bliss

The Buddha recognized long ago the universality of suffering. His study of human discontent highlighted the types and causes of distress.

The Pali word dukkha, which is usually translated as 'suffering,' is said to be more properly rendered as 'unsatisfactoriness.' This refers to the fundamental angst of being alive, where nothing ever quite feels right, or at least not for very long.

One does not need to be deeply depressed or explosively agitated to suffer;...
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Humanity Is Mentally Ill


The movie, "I Am" was recommended to me several times before I decided to see it. For some reason I expected a typical New Age feel-good film, overly general and sparse on novel information or outlooks. But as you might guess since I'm writing about it, the film surprised me.

One of its best features is film maker Tom Shadyac's statement that his is a story about mental illness. Indeed, we see how he...
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Fate and Grace

Humans do not see the big picture. We see only fragmentary slices of it, and the true effect of events only becomes apparent as time passes. The temptation to rush to judgment is strong, but we are well advised to resist it.

The last post talked about how even those we think enemies can be proven something else, with time. Maybe they can never do enough to make up for their...
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