The most common “mistake” of the highly intelligent.

The most common “mistake” high-intelligent people make is that they think like Einstein, questioning the question before answering. This is of course good if you are a philosopher, entrepreneur or at a certain level as a researcher wrestling with big questions and have the luxury of spending time with the basic theses of a question or a problem definition.

However, most of us do not have that luxury.

As part of projects, we’re often forced to find answers to lazy, unnecessary questions, and provide obvious answers through sometimes expensive and complicated processes, etc. Something that frustrates even the moderately intelligent. Those who question the basic tenets of claims and arguments however are often considered to be difficult, hardworking, tough and unwilling to do work.

That’s exactly how it was for Einstein who allegedly spent 95% of his time understanding the problem, and 5% finding an answer, something I would assume is foreign to the less intelligent, who prefers complicated answers which make them look more intelligent than they really are, and legitimize budgets and high fees.

Moreover, Einstein tried to avoid problems instead of solving them, which is even worse, as companies, consultants and research projects and grants presuppose that a problem exists and must be solved. Imagine a consultant at company X who finds a way for a customer to avoid the problem company X gets paid to solve. It goes without saying that he won’t be a popular at the watercooler.

Avoiding a problem by spending 90% of their time on the problem and not the solution is therefore the “mistake” that the highly-intelligent often make, and contributes to them being mocked, costs them their reputation and sometimes work among the less intelligent.

On the other hand, it’s exactly this quality that makes them “winners” in the long-term, as long as they have the courage to pursue their ideas, and maybe they are lucky enough to meet other highly intelligent individuals, or should we say, others with common sense.

Why meditation needs to be adapted to modern life

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Ancient people lived very different lives than we do today.

They got much more exercise than we do.

They also ate way less.

And were more social.

Meditation was a nice diversion from a physically demanding, active, and richly social life.

That begs the question. Is meditation really useful for someone who suffers from anxiety, depression or any other health problems that are due to a lack of diet, exercise or social life?

And to what degree do we need to update the single focus on meditation, as a panacea to our wellbeing, to a more holistic, and realistic picture of health?

Is it time for some updated form of meditation that includes more aspects of our being?


How music relates to spiritual awakening

Music is related to spiritual awakening by adding emotional depth to your affirmations and prayer.

‘Adding emotional intensity deepens the creek and makes it a river’ Louise Hay

Music works as a catalysis for opening a heart of love and gratitude which in turn helps us experience spiritual truthsnot merely thinking about them.

‘Truly fertile Music, the only kind that will move us, that we shall truly appreciate, will be a Music conducive to Dream, which banishes all reason and analysis. One must not wish first to understand and then to feel. Art does not tolerate Reason.’ Albert Camus

As we need to banish all reason and analysis, and engage our heart and soul to appreciate music, it helps set the stage in religious ceremonies reassuring that the deepest parts of ourselves will be involved in the exercise. And when it is, you are more likely to get spiritual insights and over time achieve a permanent change of consciousness.

Another way of putting it is that ‘People only surrender and accept thoughts that are equal to their emotional state.’ Joe Dispenza

Think about it.

Music sets your emotional state so that you will fully accept thoughts in scripture and prayer. Music opens your heart, circumventing your ever-discerning mind, making you emotionally receptive to what you are contemplating.

That’s why spiritual rituals traditionally involved not only music, but also poetry (or scripture) and dance engaging the heartmind and body into spiritual practice, making it wholistic and complete.

It is often suggested however that the role of music in spiritual practice is merely as a backdrop to meditation and help in silencing the mind, and have as little to do with the heart, or emotions as possible. Although this superficial understanding is quite useful when considering the liberating and therapeutic value of listening to sound, it unfortunately disregards the greater, transformative power of art.

‘Today there are western artists avowedly using Zen to justify the indiscriminate framing of simply anything–blank canvases, totally silent music, torn up bits of paper dropped on a board and stuck where they fall, or dense masses of mangled wire. The work of the composer John Cage is rather typical of this tendency. In the name of Zen, he has forsaken his earlier and promising work with the “prepared piano,” to confront audiences with Ampex tape-recorders simultaneously bellowing forth random noises. There is, indeed, a considerable therapeutic value in allowing oneself to be deeply aware of any sight or sound that may arise. For one thing, it brings to mind the marvel of seeing and hearing as such. For another, the profound willingness to listen to or gaze upon anything at all frees the mind from fixed preconceptions of beauty, creating, as it were, a free space in which altogether new forms and relationships may emerge. But this is therapy; it is not yet art.’ Alan Watts

Once you have permanently transcended dualism, good, bad, ugly, beautiful etc., by identifying with and becoming love, you no longer need music, then silence will do. Much like meditation will be superfluous.

That’s when your life becomes music, and your life is a meditation – in action, not retreated from the world, but fully immersed in it.

The appeal of religion

The appeal of religion is that it’s the art and science of living without fear and anxiety. Our ancestors realized that the fearlessness required for happiness and peace didn’t rely so much on outer circumstances as much as inner.

The true purpose of religion therefore is not only what attracts people to it, but what it does to people. It rids them of pain, suffering, anxiety, worry – the lot. It affords them a glimpse of the true magnificence of living, something that most of us haven’t experienced since maybe a summer day when we were kids.

Psychologists refer to it as an ‘oceanic’ feeling or sense of ‘wholeness’ and ‘completion’ that is one of the deepest modes of satisfaction available to us humans.

So, the purpose and also the power of religion is that once people notice that they can invoke this feeling (or mode of being) at will, they can’t get enough of it.

They religiously remind themselves of a way of looking at existence that rids them of fears by awakening a heart of love and gratitude. The reason it does so is that there are mainly two modes of being in the world, fear or love, and we can’t turn towards love and gratitude and fear at the same time, as they are mutually exclusive in our consciousness.

This can have – and often has – the effect that we realize that ‘fears’ are rather a way of looking at things, than an objective fact, which – once we turn towards love, light, truth – allows fears to literally disintegrate in front of our eyes and makes them seem like a silly, weird, distant dream.

However, make no mistake, fear and anxiety are useful at times, as when approaching a river in Zambia where there’s crocodiles. We become tense, anxious and self-centered. You might even do what under normal circumstances would be considered morally and ethically questionable while worrying foryour own wellbeing, like stepping on a kids sand-castle or someones sandwich left on the riverbank trying to get away from a crocodile etc.

However, fear is a less than beneficial attitude towards the world in the long run, as the myopia, or near-sightedness that comes with fear doesn’t allow for the brilliantly unique human traits like empathy, reciprocity, compassion to bloom – something that’s not only degenerative to our bodies, but also to society and the planet. Moreover, much of our success and brilliance as a species lies in what we call civilisation and society, or to basically ‘act as if other people exist’, something that’s very difficult when you are wrestling with an imaginary crocodile.

So, religion sees our ideal way of being in the world as joyous, grateful and ‘not afraid’. It tries to do so by as I said awakening a heart of love and gratitude, by means of helping us stop judging, and start loving our selves. At least for Christianity that’s pretty much how you can sum up Jesus’ teachings.

Once we’ve rid ourselves of fear, our soul, mind and heart will be healthy, as well as our families, society and earth. Or what is referred to as ‘heaven’.

The trick however is that we need to train our mindset religiously, like going to the gym for our bodies, as there is little hope of ending war, divorce, hate, environmental degradation without doing so.

Our ancestors realised that we exercise this best by consuming stories inspirational scripture (or poetryart, music and ritual that lures our consciousness away from our learned, fearful and destructive way of looking at the world, towards our true nature of loving kindness for ourselves and everything in the world.

All of this however is complete nonsense if you haven’t experienced it.

How to meditate with ease

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Something that makes meditation infinitely easier is to get some energy out of your system before you meditate. Think of it as a cat dozing in the sun after a long night of hunting, a relaxed and meditative state is as natural to them as it is to us.

 Sure, they are not “meditating” in the traditional sense by counting breaths, but we shouldn’t forget that what we call “meditation” is just a tool to enter a meditative state, and not a goal in itself. You can read more about this fact in Adyashanti’s book Falling into Grace.

 If you have read any literature by OSHO you discover that he too noted that, especially westerners, had a hard time meditating, let alone reaching the meditative state. To deal with this he prescribed some exercises, jumping around and breathing frenetically, that would help people calm down and blow off some steam before they sat down to meditate. You can read more about it in this book.

Another example of someone suggesting to blow off steam before meditating is Sadhguru who keeps a large underground pool of cold water that he recommends people take dip in before praying and meditating. And we know cold water calms the nervous system, and makes your heart race, plus floods your system with feel good chemicals much like a runners high. You can read more about the pools here.

Once you sit down to meditate, you’re calm and collected because your body and circulatory system had its exercise.

Remember that back in the day when meditation came about as a tool to calm the mind and reach bliss, people led a much more physically active lives than we do. So it could be as simple as you sitting down to meditate after a long sedentary day in front of your computer eating donuts and your body is saying “ – what the hell are you doing? get up and move around for christ’s sake!”

Which is nothing but your body (and mind) trying to keep you healthy – and happy.

What do we do? We tell the mind to shut up because we want to sit and meditate so that we can be healthy and blissful. Doesn’t sound right, right?

You see, what a lot of meditators forget is that you can’t meditate away anxiety, worry and depression brought about by a lack of exercise.

Meditation is just one part of health, not “everything” and if you neglect the other parts, it will be infinitely harder meditate, and rightfully so. 


The best way to meditate is to not meditate at all

I never forget the wise advice given to me from a Zen master when visiting Kyoto in the late 90s.

Imagine you are standing crystal-clear river of fresh water in the middle of a forest. As you are standing there, you are pushing the river with your feet, whipping up all kinds of debris making the river opaque and water dirty.

See the river as your mind. The river has a natural flow, so has your mind. The river doesn’t need you to help it flow, quite the opposite. Kicking the water hurts more than it helps. To stop you from kicking the water, we have meditation.

See meditation as a stick given to you to beat the grass, a distraction from you kicking the water. As you beat the grass, your feet keep still and allows the river to slowly recover its clarity and return to its natural flow. That’s the meditative state. That’s what you are seeking.

Watching the breath or mantra is not an end in itself – it’s a stick. A means to reach the meditative state. And once you’re in the meditative state you can abandon your mantra (or breath-focus), much like you can abandon the stick, and just enjoy the silence. That makes sense right? Once the river has settled, you can stop beating the stick and just stand there and radiate peace, joy and tranquility.

The best way to meditate is to not meditate at all, but to be in a meditative state. But if you have to meditate to get there, then take your pick your stick.