Thursday, April 26, 2007

What About All Those Other Guys?

Most people do what they’ve been “taught” to do -- rather than that they’ve discovered for themselves, what they want to do because they understand the purpose of what they are doing. In exercise, it is usually about “hard work” and “pain,” which is the opposite of what one hopes to experience and enjoy in their conditioning. So that kind of conditioning, is “negative” conditioning -- or making a person not want o do it, but forcing themselves to. It’s a very primitive and erroneous understanding of human motivation -- in which everything is exactly the opposite of what is intended, and eventually, one is hopefully confused about their intentions.

The only way one learns to move and appear gracefully and effortlessly, is to practice moving in that manner -- and not to make every effort as difficult and laborious as possible. For a lot of people, the effort and struggle is the entire purpose of any work they do -- rather than the end objective, that they never get beyond. And the beyond, is where they want to be -- and not caught up in the maze and treadmill -- preventing one from being there.

That is the most difficult thing to convince many of -- that they don’t have to do it the hard way and the bad way -- to achieve the good. The good can be accessed directly. One of the interesting observations of one of the pioneers of innovative thinking on exercise was his observation that many people considered to be fit, and well-conditioned athletes -- were really not fit by (his) objective standards, but were instead, merely well-shaped fat, he dismissed contemptuously.

But the implication here, is that fat need not be poorly conditioned to be flabby and poorly shaped -- and that at whatever level of fat composition, there is tremendous variation in whether it is perceived as out of shape, or in condition. Before fitness became regarded as this "permanent," invariable condition, teachers of exercise regarded the physical condition rightly as a variable condition. In fact, the old strong man shows would feature a person who first presented himself as a less than imposing figure who transformed himself before everyone’s eyes, into a impressive, formidable figure.

It was “modern” bodybuilders who first earned the impression that they were always in the conspicuously "flexed" position -- and one sees that in many giving testimonials and instruction on exercise, moving in this very contrived, stiff rather than relaxed, natural, free-flowing manner. So a lot of people’s impression of “fit” people, are actually of those who are constantly tensed, moving unnaturally, exaggeratedly -- with great effort, which is very tiring to witness for prolonged periods, as well as to maintain.

Such people seem to be obsessed with their “condition” or fitness -- which is a drain of energy from the more important things one has to do. And so many don’t have the time and energy for this kind of activity -- rather than building up their reserves of energy. So that conditioning paradigm has the opposite focus and objective of what one would hope to achieve from these conditioning activities -- which is to build reserves of energy, rather than expend them at the highest rate possible. No other animal would ever design their lives on such a strategy for survival -- which is fitness.

Wednesday, April 18, 2007

Living Reality

The mass media would like us to believe that unless we can get everybody else to do something, we can’t do it ourselves -- so before anybody can embark on their own self-improvement, they have to convince everybody else to jump on that bandwagon first -- and then for them to do so themselves, would not be narcissistic, but merely doing what everybody else is doing, going along with the crowd -- as the peculiar reversal this society and culture has taken -- in which formerly, those who took the initiative and leadership were regarded in high esteem, rather than chastised, for not following the crowd.

And of course, the crowd was going where the mass media’s polls, studies and anointed experts were going -- of which they had exclusive rights to. Then by copyright laws, their articles could not be reproduced faithfully so that those claims could be challenged by those who didn’t have the right to read them -- and reproduce them for accuracy. Under those conditions, anything can be said -- without challenge -- because to do so is a violation of federal copyright laws, or so they would have us believe.

Many publications would even insist that no new information could be brought to the discussion except that which was previously brought up in that journal. They were the exclusive keepers of the truth -- as knowledge was that which was apart from life, and not discovered daily living one’s life.

Knowledge was simply that which could be separated, divided, categorized, stored away, and taught apart from the living of it, discovering of it -- until finally, that kind of knowledge was realized to be irrelevant and actually a hindrance to living and discovering the truth. Discovering the truth doesn’t require past knowledge -- as a prerequisite to learning anything new. That was just the old academic tradition.

The modern version of learning is that the new supplants the old -- and implies the old, but it is not necessary to learn the old before one can learn the new -- just as for instance, one doesn’t need to learn how to operate a crank-up phone of the 19th century, to learn how to use today’s latest (cellphone) models. In fact, many will resist adopting the new technologies, BECAUSE they already know how to operate the obsolete models -- and so feel they have no need to learn anything further.

Clearly, that kind of education is really learning to resist learning -- by conditioning one to think one already knows the truth, rather than being open to its discovery -- freshly. This is a very important distinction in learning anything -- what what is being learned is the limits of what the teacher knows, or is the limits of that which can be known. This distinction is what the true student seeks to discover -- and the true teacher, wishes to know also.

It wasn’t always the case that there was a fragmentation in one’s learning and living; there was a time in which most learned by doing -- and not simply theoretically, academically, rhetorically, and at least knowing the difference.

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Why Easter Makes the Cut (There’s a Reason for Miracles)

Because of the increasing secularization (trivialization) of society and culture, Easter has become a minor observation -- instead of the major one it used to be for millennia.

The first step is to make the “holiday” strictly a commercial event -- a reason for another sale -- but Easter has already been replaced by the success of Valentine’s Day as a greater inspiration and motivation for lavish and overgenerous gifts and testaments of worthiness.

But despite that success as the second greatest shopping season, Valentine’s Day is not as significant a passage on the calendar because of its timing -- of never coinciding with the turning points of the year around the midpoint of January, April, July and October -- the traditional markers of seasonality that have ruled the development of the world for most of history.

Easter marks the beginning of spring -- and the renewal of life, after the dormancy of winter. One could plant seeds any time of the year, but done at the precisely right time and conditions, the chances for success are much greater -- than arbitrarily deciding one would like to do so.

The famous fasting of Lent, is not a bad idea when one’s food supplies are likely to be exhausted without diligent attention otherwise. It has been remarked by many historians that the Church simply co-opted a lot of the “pagan” (secular) celebrations into their own -- as a distinctive ritualization of the seasons.

In modern life, seasonality seems much less important because of around-the-clock availability of most products and services -- but accountants and bean counters know, business is likely to be best in the first quarter of each year, while they are likely to be ignored entirely in the last quarter of the year, when overindulgence and excesses are likely to be encouraged.

So what has the celebrations of life come to mean through the ages? We know that July is the celebration of freedom at the summer of the year, and fall is the harvest of that summer and the anticipation of the cold and unfruitful season -- for which all one’s preparations will be put to the test.

At Easter, lives begins to renew -- and one must die to the old memories of hardship and scarcity, to be able to embrace the new realities of opportunities that those who have thought deeply over the past, can now bring to life. How deeply one has been affected by the challenges of the seasons is greatly determined by the severity of those challenges. Here in Hawaii, it is likely to be minimal -- with many even thinking that there are no changes at all, and there is no pattern to the length of days and changes in climate except what the gods arbitrarily inflict.

One is then likely to think that everything is arbitrary -- and there is no rhyme nor reason for anything. People say what they do because no one will hold them accountable for it. So while the discussions most offer -- center on the easy and lush abundance of the setting, the notable lack, whenever there is this rare discussion, is that there is very little depth in the feeling of being directly responsible for any of it.

And that is the meaning and significance of life for which Easter is the outward manifestation. What is one's personal responsibility to the life they live -- and therefore regard the significance of all of life? Many now, have no language for asking that question -- and having that discussion. And that's why they should -- at least once a year, or once in their lifetime.

Monday, April 02, 2007

The Future of Learning

It’s been true for some time now, that we don’t need MORE education -- but LESS. But we need to learn the one thing that enables us to learn all the other things -- as needed, when we actually have to -- because the old manner of learning as much as we can, in the hopes that one day something might be useful, is really an outmoded and fallacious understanding of knowledge, learning and understanding.

The one skill every person needs to learn is simply how to process any piece of information -- as in computer programming, which reduces any bit of information to a universal digital code. It doesn’t matter whether it is health, business, philosophy or technology now -- as in the traditional (obsolete) education of categorizing, fragmenting, specializing the world of experience into many jargons, jurisdictions and hierarchies -- mainly to keep out the casual learner. That has become an increasingly useless and irrelevant education.

The really useful education of these times is learning how to function optimally and practically in this world -- rather than just academically and theoretically. It used to be that people were very impressed if one could tell them all one knew. But in this age of abundant information, we all only have time for the information we want to know -- and not everything that could be known.

Obtaining just that, is really the easiest and most essential lesson to learn -- and one can learn everything else, when there is a real need to. Learning just for the sake of learning, is not a powerful enough reason and motivation -- especially for the wisest and most perceptive. That is frequently the problem with the most gifted students. They have a passion, focus and intensity for learning (and creativity) because they can see through the false and inessential.

When people are vitally interested in what they are learning, there is no limit to what they can learn -- or how much they can learn. But if uninterested, they are like the people who get on the bus each day with the same book for the last twenty years who can never get pass the first page because they always read the same line over and over again. When asked why don’t they read a different book, they insist they have to stay with that book until they finish it, before going on to any other.

And so they never get around to learning vitally, all the great things happening in the world -- and how much easier and better, life could be because of their learning all the things useful and practical to learn. We need to learn in this new way -- and not just the old politically correct way, to be “correct.” That kind of "education" has no meaning -- though undoubtedly, the professional educators can keep providing more of that same.

Life is too important to learn all those things just because somebody else says it is for our own good. We each can determine that for ourselves -- once obtaining the basic skills, for processing any piece of information -- of which the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) are the fundamental orientation we need to have -- in order that we can live daily lives of our own inclination, temperament and talent -- as intelligently as possible. The great injustice is that some students begin kindergarten with that exposure to those enabling technologies and orientation -- while many others will regard that as a threat to their entire being and way of life.

We need to level at least that playing field for all our citizens -- to live the lives now possible that could never have been imagined possible even by the previous generation of "teachers."