Young children and animals, why we love them.

For most of us there is nothing more adorable than watching a small child discover the world, they look at everything with wonder and excitement, dance and play when they want to, not doing anything because they know someone is watching or it’s the right thing to do but just because that’s what they want to do in the moment.

Similarly with animals they brighten up our day, dogs in particular are always happy to see us, always loyal to us, they make us feel accepted and loved.

Thinking about this I started realising that what we call ” innocence” when we say a child or animal is innocent which is why we love them, what we are really saying is that they are honest, we love and value their honesty.

ITS HONESTY THAT WE LOVE

What we really love and value in young children and animals is their honesty, they do things in the moment just for the sake of doing it, they express how they feel in the moment when they feel it. When a dog wants more food it begs, when it wants to play fetch it brings you the ball, when a young child is happy it dances, laughs etc, when it’s upset it’s screams down the room etc…

You may be saying ” what’s your point? I express and act how I want to when I want to as well”

ADULTS CAN’T ALWAYS BE HONEST

We can be ourselves up to a point but we must fake and lie many times during the day not because we are bad people but because that’s how society operates. We also can’t help not to do or to say things that we know will please others. When we are having a bad day we still tell strangers and acquaintances we are “good”for instance. It’s acceptable to be happy and laugh in public but not to be upset or cry, of course we can do it but it makes others uncomfortable.

How we dress, what we buy, the photos we may put on social media etc we may say it’s for us but deep down we do and say things because we know what type of reaction it will cause, usually a reaction that gets us praise or attention from others.

ANIMALS AND CHILDREN LIVE IN THE MOMENT

Animals and children truly live in the moment. Like I said earlier everything they do comes from a place of just wanting to do it not from a place of thinking it’s the right thing to do. What we all long for I believe is to have that freedom again, that freedom to just be who we are when we want to be with no guilt, shame or judgment. We live in a world though where we must wear a mask, play a role, many roles to many different people, it can get exhausting and we all long to put it down…

CHILDREN AND ANIMALS ARE NON JUDGMENTAL

My final reason I feel we love animals and children so much is that they are non judgmental and that’s a big deal. It’s a really big deal because they are showing us the true essence of what life is and what life is all about. Life at its core is non judgmental, life at its core is unconditional love, unconditional acceptance, it’s what we all crave because it’s what we all are but seem to forget it as we get older into adulthood.

We all grow up and develop an ego, a sense of being a separate person in a separate world and that’s totally fine as to experience a separate world we must feel like a separate entity, it’s the price we pay to experience life. The downside is that to be and act like a separate entity we must develop tendencies that judge others, that only show conditional love, that divides and separates everything. Our ego thrives on all those actions and thoughts to fuel itself, the ego is a dividing mechanism.

Most people feel they are a separate person wandering around a dark, unforgiving world looking and craving for love and acceptance from outside sources. What I feel animals and small children bring out of us is that intuitive sense that the world isn’t how we perceive it to be, we believe the world is dark, unforgiving, judgmental and unloving because we are seeing it through the lenses of our egos.

CHILDREN AND ANIMALS REMIND US WHO WE ARE AT OUR CORE

Unconditional love, acceptance, honesty, non judgment. Whether we realise it or not its not that animals and young children shower these things onto us, what they are really doing is bringing those qualities out of us, qualities we having hiding underneath the mask of the ego, they remind us who we are at our core which are all these qualities whether we realise it or not.

Thanks for reading,

Simon Coleman.

Be grateful but strive for more…

A common phrase we’ve all heard is ” just be happy with what you have”. The way I see it and if we take that phrase literally then why should we try to better ourselves or achieve anything in life at all?

While I get what the phrase is pointing to I think a better thing to say is to appreciate what we have but never stop trying to achieve more. My blog for any regular readers is heavily influenced by spirituality as you may have noticed. When I was first delving into spirituality I was learning and practicing the art of being happy with what I have which did wonders for acknowledging and appreciating the blessing I did and do have.

Something came to my mind though, if I was to take this to an extreme, if I was to give up all my possessions and live in a cave as the stereotypical story of a spiritual seeker goes could I still be happy? Or would doing that even be necessary or make any sense?

Reading the story of the Buddha (and I’m really skimming through it ) we come to see that he was originally a Prince, he had it all, all the sensual pleasures at his fingertips yet he wasn’t happy with what he had realising it would all be taken away as he gets sick, gets old and dies which is why he became a spiritual seeker. He then went about denying himself, starving himself, torturing himself, thinking that an ascetic life was the answer to inner peace and enlightenment, he went about doing the complete opposite to how he was living previously. He again realised this did not bring him happiness either.

He eventually realised the ” middle way” was the path to happiness and inner peace. Overindulgence won’t make us happy and too much hardship won’t either. Like many of my posts I take a massive detour to get to my point. The point I’m getting to though is that the point of this life, to quote Marcus Aurelius isn’t to ” huddle up under the blankets and keep warm” that is to say we are not here to have an easy life all the time, doing so makes us ungrateful, lazy, unappreciative and kills us quicker mentally and physically as we are designed and built to struggle, overcome adversity and achieve.

This must all happen in a balanced way though, as the Buddha found, everything must be in moderation. There are so many worldly people thinking achievement and success will make them happy and are miserable until they achieve it. On the other hand there are many spiritual practitioners that want nothing to do with the world and are convinced that getting rid of all external possessions and interactions is the true path to happiness. The worldly persons denies their spiritual side and the spiritual person denies their humanity. Doing one or the other leads to suffering as we are human yet we are divine simultaneously, leaning to one side too heavily is not living in moderation.

In my opinion and it’s just my opinion and what has worked for me is the middle way. Everyday I’m grateful for what I have but am not attached to what I have, if it stays that’s good, if it goes I’ll be ok too. From that foundation of just appreciating what I have I also have realised we are put on this earth to do something. I work to pay the bills yet find no true passion in my work, some people are lucky enough though to find passion in their work and put all their energy into achieving more in the workplace and that’s perfectly fine.

My passions personally lie in writing, learning, keeping mentally and physically fit and to hopefully become wiser and a better, more useful human everyday. I’m always grateful for what I have and am always at peace with what I have but like I said if I was just to stop learning and achieving then life doesn’t become much fun at all, I see it as such a waste to stop trying to achieve and grow if we are capable of doing so.

I encourage you to do the same, learn to be happy with what you have but don’t make it an excuse to stop striving and achieving. On the flip side don’t make your whole life and self worth about your success and accomplishments. Success and accomplishments are great but they don’t make you who you are.

When we take some time to look inwards through practices like meditation and spiritual philosophy we will come to see we are always perfect and complete as we are at our very core. Once we realise this once we realise in the end everything will be ok, that we don’t live a life but are the essence of life itself we can then see and live life how it should be lived and seen, as a playground.

Our achievements, goals and hardships give us something to do but they don’t add to or subtract from our true essence. Chase dreams and goals but don’t take any of it too seriously as life isn’t meant to be taken too seriously ” it’s just a ride” to quote the late Bill Hicks.

Thanks for reading have a great day guys.

Simon Coleman.

You are the problem..

You are the problem, well more often than you think. One lesson I learnt in my early twenties that has stuck with me and helped me through life is taking responsibility for what happens in my life and to my life.

It’s so easy to blame others for not liking us, taking advantage of us, being mean to us, letting us down etc the list could go on and on but when we externalise blame we not only become a victim but we give all our power away to outside influences.

In philosophies such as Stoicism one practice they constantly remind us to do is only worry about what is in our control and stop worrying about what isn’t. What you’ll find is if you really examine your life that not much is really in your control at all.

We can’t control the actions, words and behaviours of others but we can control, with consistent practice how we deal with these and other outside influences. There are people out there that want to take advantage of us, that’s life, but it’s our fault if we keep letting it happen. There are people out there who don’t find us interesting or don’t want to spend time with us, is it their fault or maybe we should learn to be more interesting or work on our social skills.

We should constantly be striving to learn and grow in every aspect of life. If we are blessed with a healthy body and mind why waste these gifts away? Why not put them to work to become as fit as possible mentally and physically? If we are constantly getting into arguments or angry is it really always the other persons fault or is there something about ourselves we can work on?

I personally take full responsibility for what happens in my life, the success is my doing, the failure is my doing, people upsetting me is my doing, people taking advantage of me is my doing etc. playing the victim and blaming others without taking at least a little bit of the blame is not only lazy but nobody cares, nobody wants to hear our problems because everyone has enough of their own to deal with.

We all want people to love us for who we are but the truth is everyone that is in our life and enjoy being around us is getting something from the interaction and association. Everyone is looking to add value to their life and the people that they have in their life are there because they add value. Knowing this why don’t we keep adding value to ourselves?

Getting in better shape, constantly developing knowledge and wisdom, pursing your passions and hobbies, working on your character to be more trustworthy, reliable, honest etc all adds value to yourself which others will appreciate. This is especially true when dating for instance. Everyone is always searching for the best deal possible in a partner but we can’t expect the best if we don’t become the best ourselves.

In the end the world is how it is and people are how they are, instead of getting upset and not liking the way things are we must accept the way things are and learn to adapt and change ourselves to fit reality not get upset that reality doesn’t conform to our liking.

You are the problem and so am I so let’s all get to work improving ourselves, adding value to ourselves and the lives of others and quit playing the blame game which is only appropriate for small children.

Thanks for reading guys have a great day.

Simon Coleman.

You are not good enough and never will be..

You are not good enough and never will be.

The statement sounds really negative but it’s true. It’s true yet it’s a good thing. We are always striving to become better in one way or another, no matter how much we succeed or achieve we always feel we could do more, be in a little better shape, make a bit more extra money, work on our character flaws or insecurities etc.

We are never perfect and never will be which is what makes life so enjoyable, it gives us something to do in this life. I always liken my life to a movie, the best movies have drama, adversity, struggles, failures and success. A movie or a life where everything is perfect, nothing ever goes wrong etc would become boring very quickly.

Our flaws and not feeling good enough is what makes us human and is what makes other people relate to us and connect with us. When we are ” rough around the edges” it gives other people something to grab onto so we can relate and connect, if we were perfect, smooth and flawless nothing can be clung onto, we’d be perfect but out of touch.

Think about your close friends or family members that you love, you probably know an insecure one, a constantly grumpy one, one that is a know it all but knows nothing really etc, the list goes on…but for all their faults and flaws to we hate them? Of course not, their flaws and habits are what give them their unique character and it’s the same with us, the flaws we try to improve make us who we are and our loved ones love us regardless.

There is nothing wrong with self improvement, I’m a big believer in constant improvement in every aspect of life but we must remember that we will never be good enough and that’s perfectly ok. If we delve down the spiritual path we will realise our true self, the self of all things is always totally perfect and flawless, it’s our ego self they never feels good enough and wants to constantly improve and their is nothing wrong with that.

When you venture down the spiritual path you will eventually come to realise that we are flawed because we are ultimately flawless, we are imperfect because we are ultimately perfect. All of life is ultimately a paradox that our minds can’t comprehend, all of life operates under the ying yang principle, all we have, had and will ever have is just this moment, so we should embrace whatever arises in it, all the perfection, imperfection, goodness and bad is always exactly as it should be.

You will never be perfect but that doesn’t mean to stop trying to be.

Thanks for reading have a great day guys.

Simon Coleman

Winners and Learners…

We naturally may think there are winners and losers in life, that you are either winning or losing but with a slightly different mindset we can come to see that there is only winning and learning and when you are learning you are still winning.

I common phrase I like to live by is that we are either getting what we want or we are getting a lesson, either way we keep moving forward. We feel our education finishes at school but that only teaches us book smarts, it only teaches us theory. The real education I’ve come to realise happens in the day to day grind we call our life.

We all dislike uncomfortable feelings or situations and usually try to avoid them at all costs but constant avoidance teaches us how to get really good at avoidance, how to get good and getting distracted or putting things off we need to get done.

We are only truly ” losing” when we are avoiding. Trying and failing isn’t losing, if you lose for long enough or practice something long enough you will no doubt become better. One thing they teach in self defence training is that your natural instinct is to move away from danger, if someone is swinging a bat at you for instance we instinctively want to move backwards away from the swinging bat but ironically this gives the attacker more room.

In the bat scenario, the safest option when the time is right is to move in towards the attacker and blocking the attack near the shoulder joint. I use this example as a metaphor for life. We are constantly faced with uncomfortable situations everyday, whether it may be not feeling like studying, exercising, talking to people we don’t like etc, every time we walk into discomfort and fail we haven’t really failed because we were brave enough to face our discomfort or fear and in time it will help us master the things we are scared or anxious about.

Winning teaches us nothing if anything too much success can make us arrogant and unappreciative. We may feel we are ” winning” if we live in a western country and the people third world countries are ” losing” but they aren’t losing they are learning. Ever notice how hard working immigrants are when they come to a more wealthy country? While we spend our time complaining about no wifi or our latte isn’t hot enough etc they are out there learning to hustle, learning how to make money out of anything and everything and with that strong work ethic they build and learn how not to waste anything, be frugal and when they come to a better county usually make a fortune within 10 years or so.

Winning or having everything all the time especially when we haven’t worked for it makes us soft and lazy. Losing or starting off with nothing teaches us strength, persistence, hard work and eventually success. If tough times create tough people but we are lucky to live in a prosperous country then what should we do?

If our environment doesn’t force us to succeed and become tough like in poorer countries then we must learn to impose standards to make us better people on ourselves. When we have the option of comfort vs discomfort and taking the route of discomfort we know will improve us as a person in some way we should choose that route.

The more we chase discomfort and stepping into what we fear the stronger and more powerful we become. Losing is not trying. Winning is trying even when you don’t want to, the outcome doesn’t matter. We are so focused on the outcome and we think that’s what life is all about that we forget that you can win and still lose, you can win an argument with your partner for instance but the fact you are arguing is a loss already.

We all dream of a perfect life with no problems but how boring would that be? How boring would a movie be with no problems or bad guys, a movie where everything is going right for the main character? We must accept and embrace what we call failure because that’s what teaches us the real, useful lessons in life.

There is no winning and losing, only winning and learning, so I wish you all success but also some failures along the way too because that’s where true self improvement begins.

Thanks for reading guys and have a nice day.

Simon Coleman.

Choice can be a bad thing..

In the western world at least we’ve never lived in such a time where we’ve had so much opportunity and so much choice. What should I eat, wear, study, Who should I date, who should I marry, should I even get married?? Etc.

Like everything in life when something improves it comes at the expense of something else. Unlimited choice sounds liberating and it can be but it can also bring about doubt and anxiousness.

Many generations ago we were basically told or set up with who we marry, we were pretty much stuck in the class we were born into and we would take over the family business or trade of our parents. It all sounded very limiting and in a sense it was but when you knew that this is the way life is and there is no chance of getting out of it it would’ve brought people to the stage of acceptance of what is and to learn to be happy and enjoy what they had.

These days it’s the opposite, everything from jobs, entertainment, studying and relationships are now a click of a button away. It’s extremely convenient but at the same time it keeps us in constant doubt, it constantly makes us think and feel ” is this really the right person, job, study course for me??”

To many options make us feel uneasy, the fear of missing out and the thought that the grass is greener elsewhere puts us in a state of constant discomfort. A perfect example of this recently in my own life is when I discovered I could use my retirement fund to invest in property, when I found this out I was thinking and thinking if it was the right thing for me, the pros and cons and also realising that we can’t really know what’s best in the long run for sure…

I kept thinking and thinking until I found out that my retirement fund needs to have a certain amount of funds in it, funds I didn’t have just yet to even be eligible to invest in property. When I realised this a sense of relief came to me when I realised that I didn’t have that choice anymore and can stop thinking about it.

For most of us our lives aren’t planned out for us we have constant choice in every aspect of life. What helps me get through day by day is to treat my life like a movie. The beginning, end and every scene in between has already been scripted and made, The character I think I am is just acting out it’s part.

Science tells us that time is an illusion, all moments past, present and future are all playing out in the eternal ” now ” moment just like all scenes exist on a DVD all at the same time, it just appears to have a chain of events that are unfolding from the point of the viewer.

Why do I bring this up? Because when we realise that the self we believe ourselves to be is playing out it’s life and doesn’t really have much or any control over life due to every action or thought we have is in reaction to external factors outside of our control we can start accepting that our lives are gonna unfold as they will and should. Our true self is eternally free, always located here and now, doesn’t get old but watches the body get old, isn’t in time but watches time pass, isn’t any one feeling or emotion but experiences all feelings and emotions.

We ultimately have no choice but the illusion of many choices, all we can do is be aware of our choices and accept the choices we make and be happy the best we can with the consequences and outcomes of those decisions. We are always gaining something from our choices in life at the end of the day, we are either getting what we want or are getting a lesson on how to improve next time.

If we regret our decisions and choices what we are really saying is we regret growing wiser and and stronger because we learn all the valuable lessons in life usually when things go bad. There isn’t Winning and Losing in life, only Winning and Learning.

My thoughts anyway,

Thanks for reading.

Simon Coleman.

Spiritual practice, a journey to this moment.

I’m not sure what others have experienced or have expected following a spiritual path but speaking from my own experience, when I was starting out, I always thought it was about becoming a better person, a good or nicer person.

I grew up in religion and have nothing against it, everyone should be free to do what makes them happy. One thing I found though following a religion was the sense and feeling of not being good enough, feeling guilty over thoughts and actions that were deemed ” bad”.

When I first moved onto the teachings of Buddhism and Advaita Vedanta again I thought it was about turning into a more positive, decent, nicer person. Like religion, again I started beating myself up over not living up to what I thought I was supposed to be or do.

Over time I started to realise and am hoping to get anyone that reads this and may be in the situation I was to realise is that the spiritual path isn’t about improving ourselves it’s about accepting ourselves. When we realise that everything is from the one source, that every thought, feeling and action is totally natural and totally as it should be, over time we can begin to accept ourselves as we are and others how they are.

We ultimately are nothing we experience yet at the same time everything we experience, life is the ultimate paradox it can’t be understood by the mind because our mind deals in black and white, it only sees opposites yet all opposites need each other to exist.

Want to embrace and appreciate your good qualities and those qualities in others? Well we must ultimately accept and embrace the darkness in ourselves and others, all the parts of ourselves we don’t want to accept as a part of us must be accepted. Accepting our dark and negative traits doesn’t make us bad people because we all have a dark and negative side, trying to ignore, suppress or get rid of traits we feel are undesirable ultimately leads to suffering because we are trying to change reality, trying to change what the moment is presenting us.

What I’ve found and hopefully you will come to see if you haven’t already is that the spiritual path isn’t a path of improvement, that’s a job for our ego to do, but behind our ego, behind who we think we are our true self lies and when we realise that ourselves and everything else is always perfect how it is we can finally exhale and feel a sense of inner peace.

All this sounds nice in theory but a spiritual practice of remembering who and what we truly are, realising that everything is ultimately as it should be and learning to let life flow where it wants to takes daily practice.

When it’s all said and done all we are realising and coming back to is just this moment. This moment is reality regardless of how we feel about it, it is what it is. The more we accept ourselves and things as they are, the more we give up trying to control things, the more we let go and realise we don’t ultimately have control that it’s just an illusion, the more we can just sit back and watch the movie we call ” our life” unfold.

To live a balanced life I feel we must realise that reality really is an illusion much like a dream but at the same time learn to function in the dream. Whether we live the life of a monk or successful business person doesn’t matter as long as we learn to not take life too seriously, laugh when we can, cry when we can and accept that we will never be perfect and that’s perfectly ok.

This moment is it. No one or no religion can explain how or why we are alive. Reality can’t be understood, it’s the biggest miracle of all that we know this is all happening, You are alive, that’s all you’ve ever known for sure, the rest is just beliefs, opinions and ideas.

You aren’t living a life you’re the essence of life itself, you and life are always perfect, even trying to change it is perfect too.

Thanks for reading,

Simon Coleman.