Wisdom of the Seasons

Growing up in California has its perks.  I was surrounded by a generally liberal culture, I ate an amazing year-round selection of locally grown produce and was never too far from the nearest coastline. The people were warm and so was the weather. Even in Northern California, the extent of winter was only a month or two of mild rain. The separation of the seasons was measured by gentle gradients of gray.  Change was subtle and calm, to the point of indifference. Everything lasted forever. Plants didn’t die; they shrunk, as if exhaling for the winter. I grew accustomed to a sense of false immortality, an ever-lasting eternal growth. This perpetual continuity kept me sheltered from on of life’s greatest blessings: its cycle.

In other less climate fortunate parts of the country, a temporal consciousness exists. This time-limited offer is measured in months rather than Californian years. Life is taken by the harsh snap of the wintertime cold. Death is observed and understood and, for some, it is even appreciated. The cold months pass with the steadiness of the tortoise, while onlookers peer into the future, calling for the warm rays of the sun. This terrestrial process incites value, gratitude and humility.

The power and strength of nature’s effortless pattern is a miracle to be marveled. Thoreau once said, “Nature is full of genius, full of the divinity; so that not a snowflake escapes its fashioning hand.” Nature is graced by intention. There is not a moment of aimless action, nor a second of accidental happening. In it lays the perfection of life.

"Never does nature say one thing and wisdom another." ~ Juvenal

One of the greatest blessings of nature—one I am experiencing at this moment—is the bloom of spring. After winter has released its meditative silence, the dance of life begins. Set to the ballad of the most celestial symphony, the motion of spring reminds us of the splendor of creation. In its ease of return, our discomforts are soothed. Life begins again.

Yet, even with the joys of birth, we are never released from the awareness of the cycle. The looming seasons will surely repeat their pattern, leaving the recently bloomed daffodil no more than a rotted carapace. This understanding is essential to living a purposeful life. This awareness of temporality intensifies gratitude and promotes being. Only in the present can I fully enjoy the daffodil, for if I venture into the future, the flower’s demise will taint my experience. It is by this constant patterning that nature inspires full awareness of the present, bringing us into a state of supreme bliss.

Washington Square Park

Washington Square Park

Currently, every corner of New York is filled with scenes of blooming life. Everywhere, people and nature alike are taking the first deep inhalations of the season, expanding their presence and enjoying the moment. Spring is a celebrated event that transforms the city. Grumpy New Yorkers become gazing naturalists. Fast-paced business types are suddenly found strolling the streets. Speeding cab drivers…well they still speed. But the world has changed and for an instant, we become attuned to the consciousness of the natural world. Through its effortless, patterned pace, we become aware of the gift of life.

Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished. ~ Lao Tzu

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The Alchemist: Learning to Following Your True Path

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Finding a great book is like discovering a new language, it puts everything into a different shade of perception.  A truly excellent book can travel beyond all the limitations we think we have.  It will expand the mind in a manner that has not been achieved before.  Its creativity is marvelously genuine and honest, in such a way that it can speak to a million people is a million different ways. Finding a book like this, for me, is like enjoying a really long home-cooked dinner.  The only difference is their means of ingestion: body or mind.

The last time I came across such a book was in November.  I was in the middle of finals and I really needed an outlet that could take me away from all my research.  Call me 20 years late, but the book I finally discovered was The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho.  I had always heard rave reviews from both professionals and friends, but I had never got around to actually reading it.  For some reason or another, it never crossed my path.  In retrospect, I see that my consciousness was not in the right place to absorb the lessons the novel had to offer (more on this later).  However, once it came my way, I devoured it in the span of two nights—if I had not needed to sleep that first evening, I would have finished it in a matter of hours.

I think this is the best cover of all his editions

This novel was, for lack of a better word, awesome.  Purely awesome.  It begins slow, but the detail-rich descriptions and personal tidbits of life-learned lessons kept me turning pages with enthusiasm.  Something about the way Coelho so honestly writes connected me to every word. Beyond just the story—as many books are capable of achieving a plot—Coelho weaves in thematic dispositions that speak to much higher universal concepts.

One of the most intriguing themes was that of love.  Whether we accept it or not, love is something we all want.  Coelho provides a completely original context to explore the depths of love as a reality.  Through a few examples, he shows that love is neither defined by romance, attachement, or desire, instead transcending all and is embodied in one’s true path, or in this case one’s treasure.

As children we understood the concept of passion much clearer than we do as adults.  So many external factors blur the ideas that keep our inner fires lit.  Soon these ideas fade and are covered by mind-numbing suppression.  Responsibility, pride, denial, and fear keep us away from our true desires, our passions.  Often times, the avoidance will cause physical harm, manifesting in disease, depression, and ultimately the surrender of life.  I know because I have come close to surrendering to my passion.  In fact, it was only because I chose to follow my path that I was lead to this book, which served as a reaffirmation of my decisions.

You’ll always know if you are following your path

The same problem I was facing was exactly what was going on in the book: the dilemma between love and Love. In the Alchemist, a young shepard is faced with choosing between his familiar experience of love, one of comfort and romance, and the unknown outcome of following his passion, his interior self Love.  Through out the book, he meets people in all stages of this exact dilemma.  In the end, he chooses to follow his personal Love, for without that, no other love could exist.

It was this idea that expanded my consciousness.  Love without the self is not love.  Love for a girl, a dog, a father, or anything in the universe is incomplete unless it emanates from within.  This means if I don’t love myself, I cannot love another.  If I cannot do what I want to do, what I am here to do, my dharma, then I cannot learn to love anything else.  Love will never stand in the way of one’s true path.  If it tries to, then it is not love.

The Alchemist poetically orchestrates these timeless lessons of Love, dharma, and passion with a clarity and simplicity so often under-utilized in the literary world.  This is the reason this novel has sold over 60 million copies in over 150 countries.  If you haven’t already read this book, or if you haven’t read it in a while, I strongly suggest you pick it up.  This book has so much to offer that I know the next time I read it I’ll learn something completely new.

Coelho is a huge fan of “pirating” his book as he thinks all should have access.  He has even shown that by giving it away on the internet, his sales have risen.  So here’s a link to his pirating blog where you can download a version of his novel for free.  Enjoy!

The Language of Food

If you’ve ever listened to a banana, it probably didn’t say anything to you.  If it did, then you most likely don’t need to read this blog as you’re much beyond the subversive language of food (that or you’re high as a kite).  However, for the rest of us, learning to understand the meaning of food is a much more subtle task.

Most people eat food.  In fact, I’m positive that almost everyone—save those breezy breatharians—eats something.  Usually the process involves chewing, swallowing, and then a mad dash back to the crazy schedule of life.  The intention of food is thus focused on sustenance: energy needed to get through the day.  This is certainly one quality of food.  Yet there exists other unnoticed meanings of food that transcend physical health and speak to the greater tenants of existence.

Can’t get enough of that air flavored ice cream

It’s mid-December and in the world of academia, its time to start handing in final papers.  So for the last month, I have been absorbing as much information pertaining to food and its relationship to the human experience as possible.  I have found an enormous amount of knowledge that defines food as a means of communication; a form of language.  Most commonly understood, food can relay messages of culture, nature, society, the individual, and the greater world.  Where the discourse falls short is about foods capacity to express the language of the universe.

Food as the universe?  What?  How could my shy, little banana possibly tell me something about the universe? Well, in Vedic philosophy it goes like this: food is the embodiment of the Self (macro) and in its relationship to the human self (micro) it can reveal the tendencies of the ultimate reality.  Now to those of you peeking behind that banana peel looking for equation of the unified field, put the down the banana and read this quote:

God permeates the soul just as oil permeates a sesame seed ~Vasudev from the Upanishad

Vasudev was the father of Krishna, seen here being an awesome dad.

This small quote carries an epic message: as is the food, so is the thought. Or more specifically, as is the food, so is the universal human experience. In its complete, holistic nature, food reveals our perfection.  Just as a bruised banana embodies the universe, the imperfect soul is an expression god.  The language of food can be heard through its simple, yet perfected existence.

The human experience is a reflection of the universal experience.  Everything in existence is a reflection of truth, meaning there are no differences.  To quote Bob Marley, “One love, one heart, one destiny.”  And one food.

So if everything in the universe can speak this language, how is food any different from the rest? Well, because the food we eat becomes a vibrational AND physical part of us.

Just like sound current affects one’s frequency, food can affect one’s consciousness.  That means that choosing between an industrially farmed triple-sized BigMac and an organically grown, home-cooked vegetarian meal is certainly going to have an impact on the way you think.  Mental clarity, perception, mood, and communication are just a few of the areas affected by food.  And not only does food influence our thoughts, but it controls our physical bodies.  Responsible for creating matter, dictating health, and supplying nutrition, food—unlike any other object in the universe—becomes a material part of us.  It is truly the connection between the tangible and the intangible.

Doesn’t this mean you’d want to eat food that is of the highest universal vibration?  I’d surely think so.  That means that banana you were just having a one-sided conversation with should probably be an organic one. It also means that food treated like a commodity, infused with the stress of commercial kitchens, or devoid of anything resembling nature should be avoided.  Well, I shouldn’t say that.  Instead, I suggest if you want to achieve a greater cosmological existence, you should strive to eat better food.  Otherwise, do as you please.  The inorganic banana judges no one.