Author’s Note: An Apology and a Retake

When I began this blog, I set out with a very simple, but important concept.  I wanted to improve my writing, but in a manner that was both useful and not self-absorbed.  I am not proud to admit that the last post I wrote did not stand up to either of these goals.

After rereading it today, it is apparent that I was upset when I wrote it.  Without going into details, January has been a very frustrating month for me.  What’s worse is that I am beginning to see my discontent spilling over into other areas of my life (enter yesterday’s post).  I understand that emotions will extend into actions every so often and that each day my actions will represent my consciousness.  However, what I am not willing to accept is that my personal emotions be extended negatively outward, especially in a venue that is being shared with the world (or blogosphere).  For this I apologize.  I took a completely valid topic and turned it into my punching bag, spewing negative energy across the universe.  I’d now like to rewrite this post in a manner more conducive to positivity so that we may learn something beneficial or understand something expansive, or at the least just enjoy ourselves.

I also promise to never go on a negative, self-absorbed rant again.

If You Wish to Save the World, You Must First Save Yourself

(An energetical retake)

Saving the world has become quite a booming business.  It most likely started with the whales, but has since moved into discussions of the atmosphere, the planet, and even the universe.  But what so many often forget is that the world—which we believe we are bringing to an end—is actually just a projection of ourselves.  In this reflective mirror, we can see the state of our consciousness as a global collective as well as a representation of the actions we take.  Both on a spiritual and literal plane, the earth is our planetary manifestation.

In yesterday’s post, I focused on how resilient the Earth is, which is absolutely correct (if we destroyed the climate, disrupted oceanic pathways, and decimated all life, the Earth would recover).  However, going past this disconnected explanation of our relationship with the Earth, I’d like to reclaim our eternal connection to her.

As our home, the Earth is directly connected to us.  Think of your room.  When you are busy, upset, happy, energetic, or sad how does you room look?  I am sure for all of us individuals, different appearances are created from different emotions, but the important idea behind this is that your environment reflects your state of being, your consciousness.  Often times we allow our emotions to control our consciousness.  When this occurs you get blog posts that are filled with anger =).  This is not good.  Our emotions are here to serve us.  They tell us when we are in need, they relay messages of experience, and they contribute to our learning.  They are not who we are, but a part of our experience as humans.  We are much more than our human bodies and mind.

These guys are here to serve you.

With this understanding comes another: the idea that we control our environments with our thoughts.  This can translate as newage intentionality or into a logical sequences of events.  Let’s begin with the former.  We have all heard of the book (or movie) The Secret.  In hopes of saving you time, the one sentence version goes like this: Thoughts manifest into reality. Although there are a bunch of techniques and ideas that the movie offers, the main idea is that your thoughts have consequences.  Now, what does this spell out for the Earth?  Well, if you take a look at all of the negative thoughts and actions occurring today (war, pollution, racism, suppression, etc.) you can get a better understanding of how we are affecting the environment we live in.

As a logical approach, our thoughts, which are formed into actions, have tangible affects.  For instance, if Person A thinks, “Well, I don’t care about the environment, I just want money,” his or her thought may manifest into a business that supports pollution and suppresses green technology.  In this sense, energy skeptics can start to understand that our world is a reflection of what we think.

This is exactly why we must set out to change ourselves if we wish to change the world. A great and well-known quote from Mahatma Gandhi sums it up eloquently, “Be the change you want to see in the world.”  By clearing our heads, expanding our awareness and enlightening our consciousness, we will act out of a higher state.  In this state we will begin to approach decisions that affect our environment differently.  As we reach higher states of universal consciousness, we’ll realize that the Earth and our bodies are one in the same.  In this way, we’ll save the world.

From his thought, he liberated a country

In fact, this process has already begun.  Many across the globe are contributing in their own ways and a network of conscious individuals is aligning rapidly.  You can see it in our food system.  There is a uniform calling to reform our industrialized system.  From India to Peru, farmers and people alike are standing up for their right to enjoy food that will support their well-being.  I can speak of food because it is what I know best, but I see it in other areas as well; politics, health care, spirituality, and even slowly in the media.  We are beginning to wake up and realize that if we want to enjoy a future on this planet, we are going to have to treat it with respect.  This same respect must be shown to ourselves.

And in this process of self-salvation, we will indubitably save the world.

Don’t Save the World, Save Yourself

If it is one thing I hate, and rarely do I hate anything, it is the phrase, “Save the world.”

When I hear these words, it’s as if I’ve stumbled into a thick fog of putrid, self-righteous denial.  Not only is it’s logic is wrong on so many levels, but it manifests gigantic layers of ignorance.  Don’t get me wrong, I am as much of a fan of gas guzzling SUVs, ridiculous food miles, and the high number of coal burning factories as you are. I think the unsustainable practices of man are testament to the young age of our species.  However, I believe more than anything what exemplifies our immaturity as a species is the widespread idea that we need to save the world.

The world does not need saving. In fact, it is probably the being that worries the least about its future. It has been through an untold amount of uncertainties, many of which I am positive were more cataclysmic than the affects of mankind.  Of course, we would love to believe that we were the world’s biggest problem. Much in the same way we thought we were at the center of the universe, as well as the center of our galaxy, we have placed ourselves in the center of the existence of Earth.  Do you see a pattern?

I wonder which center she’s in.

There is a degree of egotism, which stems from the individual, but amasses in the collective.  This form of social egotism is most deadly.  In the group, it is an evolutionary suppressant reminiscent of the comet (or whatever it was) that killed off the dinosaurs.  The only difference is we are aiming to kill ourselves.

I mean, cmon, don’t we owe it to them?

And I don’t mean death by global warming, but by the suppression of our own consciousness.  You can see it in our media, in the public school systems, in our food system and certainly in our political system.  The suicide we are all contemplating isn’t a physical one, but a mental one.  And with sayings like “We need to save the world”, we draw attention away from ourselves—the one area we can control—and project it onto things that are ultimately out of our hands.

I was reading one of my favorite books by Paul Ferrini, Love Without Conditions, and I came across this quote that was talking about the need to not save the world: “Some people think that such advice is selfish and irresponsible.  They believe that they must save the world to find happiness.  That is an error in perception.  Unless they find happiness first, the world is doomed.”  Now, besides being an extremely relevant quote, this passage is effortlessly simple.  It’s logic is stated in such clarity that it is almost impossible to misunderstand.  How can we, as fragmented, discontented, and unhappy individuals expect to heal something as complex as the planet we live on without first conquering our own minds?  It is complete absurdity to think we can save the world without mastering ourselves.  And it is also complete denial.

The scapegoat was one of my favorite terms as child.  I always picture a scruffy billy goat perched atop rock ledge chewing a rusty tin can.  I thought it was hilarious that this little caricature of mine was always getting blamed.  I knew he didn’t do anything wrong.  In fact, that was humor of it.  The poor little goat just wanted to chew his tin, but instead all these angry people were yelling at him. What a horrible life.

It’s all his fault!

Well it turns out the earth doesn’t give a sh%t if you blame her.  She just keeps on spinning.  Maybe she’ll lose some greenery and gain some ice, but in the end she’ll figure it out.  She’s a resilient one.  We on the other hand, are the ones who need to worry.  Between all are yelling and crying, and pointing and blaming, we are missing the forrest for the trees.  We need to wake up and start admitting all the things we avoid.  That means all those little dark secrets you stuff down inside your soul need to come out.  All those wrongs you haven’t righted and all those emotional debts that need to be repaid need to start being fixed.

Even if nothing happens to the world and we live on for thousands of years, wouldn’t it be better if we freed our minds?  I know I have my skeletons, but everyday I figure ways to dance with them, letting them go and moving on.  Sometimes I feel like I’m on the wrong side of a cancan line and other times it feels like a lonely tango, but every time the proverbial music stops, I am a better person, lighter on my feet and ready to take on the next partner.

It doesn’t matter to me how you do it.  You can dance, shout, scream or run around naked wearing only an oversized bow-tie and striped galoshes.  You can do whatever your soul desires, but please, please, please, do not say you’re doing it to save the world.  She doesn’t need our help.

Understanding the Hard Road

My father used to tell me, “Matt, there are two roads you can take: the easy one or the hard one.  And son, you always choose the hard one.”

What he told me when I was a child, still somehow seems to fit as an adult.  Although much of the content has changed—thank god—I still seem to forego comfort to seek out challenge.  Even in times where I wish I had it easy, my gravitas lies in taming difficulty.  For me, the feeling of accomplishment outweighs the risk. And even in failure, the lessons learned warrant a deserved reward.  It was not until this re-examination of my philosophies, had I begun to grasp a greater understanding of mankind.

I recently finished BBC’s “Human Planet” series, which explores the variety of lifestyles man.  Most of the documentary takes place in ‘the wild’, where existence is less of a race than it is a cooperation.  However, what BBC would have you think is that life in these wild places is a dangerous battle where each day man fights to steal food from the earth, as if it was bent on extinguishing humanity.  It is cruel, cold, and unpredictable.  And only the poor, weak, and exiled live beyond the city walls.

They look thrilled.

Much of the commentary contradicted the actual footage.  Example: although the villager, grinning ear to ear, was enjoying his day’s catch of fresh fish, he was, according to BBC, deeply troubled by the unsurmountable stress looming overhead about finding tomorrow’s dinner.  At first, these inconsistencies didn’t catch my attention, but as I watched all 7 installations, I started to see the over-usage of certain negative elements such as fear and threat.  I started to get annoyed and eventually decided to cut short the last episode.  All this ‘triumphing over nature‘ and ‘struggling against earth’ was starting to give me a headache.

What I honestly believe is that these people, in tune with locales much closer to raw wilderness, understand and embody cycles closer to nature.  In this proximity to true models of sustainability, these civilizations have learned to cooperate rather than fight.

I think this requires at least a smidgeon of cooperation.

With that said, I started to wonder why was BBC so bent on making life in the ‘wild’ seem so difficult.  I started to hypothesize a theory of reversal: BBC, and all of us living an urban lifestyle, tend to brutalize life in the wilderness because of the current degree of extensive difficulty within our lives.  If you think about it, we spend on average 40 hours a weeks slaving away just to make ends meet.  A lot of this time is directly subtracted from family, sociality and simple relaxation. Debt is the number one stressor of our modern world.  It has become so paramount that people are working just to stay out of it.  In fact, the US has been dubbed the “credit-card nation”, with over 80% of the population in debt and 20% of that figure without hope of ever breaking even.  Add this to traffic commutes, pollution, disease, contaminated food outbreaks, war, politics, religion, and an array of other stressors and you can see why it’s tempting to head for the hills.

“F@&% it, I’m outta here!”

With all this stress, one would ask why?  If in the name of progress we have created such things as art, science, technology, and ‘civilization’, but have destroyed our happiness, what is the point?  And my answer to why BBC—and the rest of us—continue to believe that living with nature is impossible is because we are in a cultural denial.  Our civilized culture, separate from the culture of the earth, has brought us no closer to true fulfillment than logic does to love.  We continue to put hope into our sciences and technologies and believe that they will free us from our suffering; that one day man will triumph over nature, conquering the forces of earth.

Meanwhile, billions suffer at the hands of a few, while we continue to use outdated technology and repress natural solutions such as free energy (I highly suggest you read up on this if you haven’t already).  We deny the powers of natural healing in support of our ineffective man-made medicines.  We live in an earth that is willing to give us the answers to all of our problems, but we are not listening.  We continue to swim upstream, when floating down would bring us to where we want to be.

Be kind, little one.

It is here, that I made the connection to what my father pointed out to me so many years ago.  The hard way, my path of choice, is a counterintuitive path of difficulty and stubbornness. However, when I completed my journey, I was always satisfied.  I knew that the path I chose was my own personal and creative choice. And I discovered what the worst had to offer, knowing that I could surpass its challenges.  I had survived the unknown and lived to tell the tale.  By recognizing personal motives, I am starting to reconcile my aversions to man’s nature.

We are a young species—just like I am a young man—exploring the extent of our creativity.  We have indeed gone one way, and will surely go the other.  In the end we will find balance and as we grow, we’ll learn to live in harmony.  For now, we are like babies left to feed on our own eating dirt, rocks, and sticks.  Soon we will learn the flavor of greater things, developing our palate and changing our diets.  There is plenty of time to grow.

Sushi: A Transcendent Experience

Sushi is one of my favorite ways to dine.  Beyond the cuisine being offered, sushi imparts an experience of much greater depth.   From a hand massage with a hot table side towel to using chop sticks to drinking hot tea, the entire experience of eating sushi is unique and involving.  Yet is is often misunderstood that sushi is only a gastronomical experience.  Sushi is much more than fish being sliced and rice being steamed.  There is a great profoundness to sushi.

After years of eating sushi, the only knowledge I gathered came from slim two-fold menus positioned atop japanese restaurant dinner tables.  Maybe my stomach was to blame for the lack of research or maybe post-sushi-mortem induced too much laziness for my active culniary curiosity.  Either way, I had never looked beyond the epicurean literature of sushi.

As I started learning more about sushi, I found that the meals I spent so much time enjoying had a message of great depth.  Originating in China, sushi existed out of necessity.  Sushi began as a preservation technique that involved rice fermentation greatly extending the life span of caught fish.  In modern times it has intertwined with philosophy and religion establishing its artistic and creative roots that resembles the calmness of the most peaceful Zen paintings.  Beyond the aesthetic pleasures, the message of sushi strives for a deeper meaning: to connect man and nature, transcending the realm of duality and separateness.

Sushi, in its most basic and traditional forms, represents the earth.  Land and water are attributed from its elements of rice and fish.  The balance between the two represent the harmony in nature.  The art of sushi is in its respect and gratefulness, creating a most beautiful display of honor and poise.  Each sushi creation is a tribute to the balance of nature.

It is in this respect that sushi attempts to transcend the detached world of man and nature.  Each piece of sushi praises the forces that support man, thus recognizing our role in the interconnected play of the world.  Through the design, care, and technicality that sushi artists and chefs harbor, the lives of the fish and plants that came from the oceans and soil of the earth are respectfully honored.  The realization of the consciousness of each component of sushi gives love, admiration, and thanks towards the earth.

As man partakes in this experience, he is participating in the gastronomical ceremony of the connectedness of man and earth through sushi.  He is praising his dinner for it is the earth he is eating.  Without the earth, he would not exist.  Sushi is a transcendent experience that involves grace in every bite and every moment.

In previous blogs, I have mentioned the importance of changing the way food is perceived.  Food must be seen as divine in order to understand our connection with the world.  Sushi does just that.  The connection between man and nature is exemplified in the artful display of balance and respect for the consciousness of the earth that supports us.

PS if you’re in los angeles and love traditional sushi, make it your prerogative to spend an evening at Sasabune