Surround yourself with like-minded people…

That’s easier said than done, but how do you define like-minded, and if you are an individual is that even possible? The people we choose to have around us influences us subconsciously whether we like it or not, and on a societal level subliminally tells people about the kind of person you are or your beliefs. It shouldn’t, but people sometimes can’t help but judge on the surface. Why else would your parents forbid you from being friends with those who have been involved in dodgy dealings? It’s because who your friends are, or whom you choose to be in your circle reflects on how you are perceived and judged by society.

Naturally, there are instances where you cannot choose certain bonds, like your peers, family members, work colleagues, or neighbors. Reputations count, and a neighborhood with desirable residents is highly thought of (posh versus the rough council estates), so people do judge you on where you choose to live. The workplace is a little harder, because sometimes you choose a career, but you can’t choose the reputation of the company. People like to name drop where they have worked, because it elevates their status, but does that really matter?

Can you choose honest, kind, generous, and intelligent company all of the time and is it even possible? Does that mean you should abandon friends that have made mistakes, such as a friend who had an affair, or who got fired from a job for stealing. As a friend you choose whether to support them and give them a chance, or to distance yourself. Humans aren’t perfect, and we do all make mistakes, but having the kind of people who are on your wavelength with shared beliefs does make it easier, and can inspire you.

This also applies to online communities as well as real life interactions. I have discovered certain websites or forums have communities that either you feel comfortable with and can join in, or the members are so far removed from your perceptions it’s not worth trying to interact. An example would be a political forum, where the owner and moderators are right wing and biased; they attack any one who doesn’t agree with them and so there is little point being part of that community. Another one I encountered was one on couponing; the community was given the power to remove any deals they didn’t understand, didn’t think was a real deal, or ones that they thought were misleading. Of course these are all subjective, and when I realized that the community was made up of stay at home moms aged 25 with at least three children, the uneducated, or unemployed when a posting was flagged as confusing and difficult to understand. I’m not sure how difficult it is to understand buy two items and get a free gift, but for some that is hard and obviously not the kind of company I need to deal with or interact with.

There was a New Moon recently and I had a dream that referred to the Fibonacci sequence. I wasn’t sure what that message meant and asked a community I do take part in their thoughts. Someone asked if I saw the Fibonacci Arc; unsure of the significance, another member compared it to the beginning of the Yellow Brick Road. Then I recalled this blog I started, that charts my journey on the Yellow Brick Road. I have been stuck on my journey for a while, just as Dorothy fell asleep in the poppy field. Perhaps it’s time to have faith in the Yellow Brick Road again, and the path will clear; maybe I will find some like-minded company to accompany me on my next leg of the journey?

Bad things happen to everyone

I constantly hear the phrase, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” However, how do you define a good person? Many people do delude themselves that someone is good, or choose to overlook any less than favorable traits, often finding an excuse for them. Others consider themselves good, but how do they come to that conclusion? A good person is subjective, in relation to what? How can you measure goodness—in comparison to those around them, or based on what they have done? Does working for a charity automatically make a person good? Not always, because people may have other motives, such as wanting to appear philanthropic, or others may work for a charity because they need a work reference. Are those affiliated with a church or religion deemed good without question? Should they be? A person of the cloth has traditionally symbolized goodness, but in recent years it has been revealed that there has been corruption and less than moral behaviors in a number of religions.

Society has become a minefield of people with high expectations, where tit-for-tat is expected. Whenever a deed is carried out, many subconsciously store it and expect something in return, whether it’s being neighborly, or helping a colleague meet a deadline at work. Do these deeds make you a good person because you choose to help another person? Shouldn’t we all help one another without wanting thanks, a reward, or the favor returned? That’s the sign of a truly good person—one that does things from the heart, and who doesn’t make a tally of the deeds or expects anything in return.

We then move onto what is defined as bad? When things don’t always go according to plan, some people think that something bad has happened to them. It’s subjective as to what one expects, and how one copes. There are people who would say bad things happen because someone deserves it, but do they have a right to judge? A bad thing can be someone being in a tragic accident and losing a limb, or to another a bad thing is having a partner end a relationship. Neither is pleasant, but can one be equal to another?

Humans choose to do bad or good things, and Fate can force the hand of bad situations for a number of reasons—many of which we will never be privy to. It could be repaying Karma, helping another Soul learn a lesson, but we cannot expect good things to happen all of the time. Even those with a gifted life may think they have bad things happen to them, often superficial things, for example, if they can’t find a parking space when they go shopping, or a hotel has doubled booked their reservation. Are those really bad things, or just inconvenient, and thus are labeled bad. In the real world they are not really bad things, but in the mind of those who expect good things to happen all the time, they are.

It’s not a matter of whether a person deserves good things to happen to them, but what a person considers good or bad. In the context of society those boundaries get stretched and what some consider a good act, others would consider normal. For example, helping an old lady with her groceries—it’s a good act, but it’s normal to help the elderly. Has this been elevated to being exceptionally good because people no longer do what is considered normal human nature? Has society become more selfish, and thus the definitions of good and bad are dependent on the culture and generation of the person? Is it bad when a restaurant runs out of the dish you want, or you get stuck in traffic and are late. These are superficial bad things that with patience and understanding can be dealt with. Much of what we perceive as bad or good is in our minds, as we judge from our experiences. Bad things happen to all of us so that we can appreciate the good, and stop considering the superficial things as bad.

Good things happen to bad people, but are they really that bad? When bad things happen to good people, do we assume a person is good, or merely is it what we wish to believe? People expect good things to happen to them if they do good things, but it’s not like a see saw; a good act doesn’t automatically lead to someone receiving good luck. Is good luck, the same as when things work out as planned? Life is not perfect, and as much as one likes to plan things, they can go wrong. When good things happen, we should appreciate them, and when bad things surface, we brace ourselves and ride the storm. At times the storm is long and destructive, but we survive—a little battered and bruised, but with a greater appreciation of when good things do occur.

 

 

Reality versus Perceptions

What is reality and how do our perceptions change? Sometimes it comes with age and experience and other times it’s just plain common sense. Is society so blinkered these days where reality seems so abhorrent and sad that people have to create perceptions to survive?

Who wants reality when they can live in a bubble and pretend that their lives can be like celebrities or reality television stars? Reality shows are staged and scripted by prompts; people don’t really live like that and if it gets boring or people don’t cooperate they ‘leave’ the show.

The problem is the media hypes reality to be something it’s not, and behind closed doors the persona of most people is in fact very normal and boring. Famous models and actresses do walk around without makeup and politicians and actors do take public transport. Reality is not always exciting, but is about survival and being as happy and content as possible. The media tempts and goads us to buy bigger houses, buy expensive clothes, and to eat out at fancy restaurants. If the average person can do, then we all can, can’t we is the message they portray. In society we are perceived as equal, but it’s human nature where you will always find someone who wants to be bigger and better than a sibling, neighbors, or friends. No one will admit it, but it’s true.

Our perceptions change when we yearn for something that we are led to believe we can be or have. We want to believe it’s possible, or some choose to only see what they want to see. Many don’t want to know about the homeless street people (thinking it’s their own fault) or the single parent working two minimum wage jobs, or that the elderly maybe lonely and need help. We are led to believe that these things are taken care of, but in reality they are not. What if it was you?

Reality is seen as depressing and boring, but is honest and is how many people do live or survive in this world. People do struggle to put food on the table and live hand to mouth, racism and sexism still exists despite the laws making it illegal, and people do lie and cheat. Accepting reality and acknowledging it is much better than pretending it doesn’t happen, yet the reality for the minority is that their lives can be out of touch for the masses. Even the celebrity life can be a façade—what is perceived and what is reality are two different things. The sibling of a famous actor told me that they saved their air miles to travel, even though they are a multi-millionaire. I remember well-known comedian traveling on the bus standing next to me, and a model and pop star were told that they had to give up the two tables they were using and to let me have one. That’s reality, what many don’t see.

Society is built up on materialism, and humanity, in helping others and protecting nature comes further down the list. What we perceive makes us happy, but how real is it? Are you brave enough to see reality in humanity for what it really is, or is it easier to create your own perceptions?

Losing and Regaining Faith

There will be times in an incarnation when self-doubt rears its head, or there are instances where you question things and lose your Faith. It can be in humanity, yourself, or both. I was inspired to write this as someone commented that they were spiritually tired and when that happens you can lose Faith. I do feel this is normal, because our Faith does need testing at times, when we get complacent or take things for granted. It can even happen when neither of those things takes place. I see it as if you on a voyage and lost at sea, hoping and fighting to find your way back to safety or what is familiar.

No one can tell you how you should feel and that you are wrong or faithless, because Faith can waver; one day you maybe strong, and weaker another. You must have Faith in yourself first, then that can stretch to others and humanity. Sometimes we put too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect, when humans are not perfect. The media and society does create a stereotype that is an idealistic framework, but these model citizens don’t exist, and those that do, only appear for a short period of time. Life and a Soul incarnation is about learning and growing and that means developing your Faith too.

We will all have days where we question, ‘Have I done enough, could I have done more?’ or ‘What can I do to make things better?’ The lesson is you can only do what you can, some things are beyond our control, when things haven’t gone as they should have (despite perfect planning), shows us that we cannot plan everything, and sometimes bad things do happen to good people. We lose Faith because we expect things, and at times it doesn’t seem fair. That’s when you question Faith; you’re a good person but luck and good things don’t come your way, but someone you know who is selfish and mean gets a new job and gets to travel round the world. It’s not always fair, and one can question Faith if you never seem to get a break even if you are grateful for what you have.

I lose Faith in humanity when I see people in the corporate world turn a blind eye to the façades they create, lies they justify, and others that are harmed, or when people fail to help a fellow being in need because they are afraid of getting hurt or sued. The worst is when bystanders or security guards watch people being attacked and they choose not to step in, or seeing someone being bullied and turning a blind eye. These are only things one can counteract by staying true to yourself and retaining your integrity. Lead by example and do not follow others. When you lose Faith in yourself, often it is when you are at a crossroads of what you wish to do and what you want to do. You question whether you are being selfish and self-indulgent, sensible, or practical? It’s a time when your questions aren’t being answered, but they will later, or maybe you need to ask different questions?

Having Faith requires trust, and trust takes time to gain and moments to lose. On the journey of life, many of us will be ‘lost at sea’ or find ourselves on an uncomfortable road. It’s a challenge, so when we do regain our Faith, we are more prepared for the times when things are difficult or unclear. When that happens our Faith does grow, and that is part of Soul Growth.

What is ‘Freedom’?

What is freedom? It’s when we are free to act or think as we choose without any constraints, so can it really exist? We are influenced by our peers, the media, and our environment throughout our life, so are our thoughts ever truly free?

I speak as the eldest and even as a child, I would have to look out for my sibling, so was I ever truly free to think as a carefree child when I had to make sure my sibling was safe?

Our actions are limited to what is legally and also what is morally permitted in society, so again, are we acting freely or within a framework and guidelines?

My thoughts are the closest thing I get to some kind of freedom, even then they are mired with thoughts of responsibility or moral conflict. I may have a less than generous thought about someone or an incident and maybe Karma will wave its finger at me, but surely I have that freedom to think that? Isn’t that human? If someone does the dirty on you at work, then you have some rights to think ill of them, if only for your pride and self-esteem. To me, while yes, you can then turn around and say, “It’s their problem and Karma will deal with it,” a human reaction should be free to express anger or hurt. While they are negative emotions, as long as they are transient, then learning from them makes you stronger. Learning to let go of things can be hard, but we should be free to do it when we are ready.

Writing down your thoughts, whether good or bad is an act of freedom. However, should they fall into the wrong hands then could it be libelous? If it is published or distributed, yes it can be. If they were stolen or distributed without prior knowledge, isn’t that a breach of privacy? People should be free to express their thoughts in their journals as long as they keep them safe and private. What happens to them years after they have died though? When I see published letters from celebrities’ archives, I think they should be kept private; in particular the one recently published from Joe DiMaggio to his wife Marilyn Monroe. He was expressing his private free thoughts and they weren’t to be shared with anyone else. With some diaries, they have proved to be an invaluable primary source for historians, while they are private, they also depict an accurate picture of an era or event. They also show the personality of the person, notably Anne Franks and Samuel Pepys whose famous diaries have helped piece together some important moments in history. Neither would have imagined their private thoughts would have been published for billions of people to read at the time.

Then there is the internet; today it’s the same as publishing something in a newspaper except it’s harder to delete or retract. Once you express yourself online, it is recorded forever unless the site is deleted. People confuse freedom with the rights of freedom; we have rights for freedom of speech and expression in many countries, but be prepared for public backlash if it is an unpopular opinion. That’s the thing about freedom, people have the freedom to reject or oppose your thoughts. It goes both ways. With libel laws, true freedom has limits in the public and even when allowed it can still cause harm and controversy, so does freedom harm others? It can, which is why true freedom cannot truly exist if we are bound by the legal and moral laws. These exist to protect, so to enjoy freedom, some freedoms must be limited or curtailed. Therefore true freedom cannot exist in society.

Few of us are free in our actions; as a child we have compulsory education (not always a bad thing), then as adults we are expected to have a career and then a family. Those who break from this are seen as eccentrics, but freer. I have a few friends who are able to live freely without having to have a home and working job-to-job and renting in random places. I’m sure it is liberating and I have been there, but it also gets tiring. It’s not as free as people think, always thinking where to go next and what if?

Many of us yearn for freedom, but what kind of freedom, and what is it exactly that holds us back? Duty, responsibility, morals or fear? Freedom to me is to be able to do what I want without harming or affecting others and to be able to express myself without fear of recrimination. I find that in my writing though not all the time. I can see imprints of guilt that linger and moral conflict from what I feel I should be doing and shouldn’t be thinking. Then I ask, “Am I truly free,” and realize even my inner thoughts are not as free as they should be.

© 2015. The Nomadic Philosopher. All Rights Reserved.

This was first published on Great Minds and Thinkers.

Knowing and Understanding your True Self

To truly understand yourself and know yourself requires you to go back to see who you were and how you became the person you are today. That means revisiting your childhood and both the good and bad memories. These are the subconscious acts that have created and developed the person you have become. When you are able to accept what mistakes you have made, things that in hindsight seemed like a good idea at the time and know these have contributed to what you have become, then you begin to know who you are. Even those with a tragic and sad childhood, you learn from it; how not to treat others and how to survive. It can make you stronger, cynical at times and even resentful of others with a more comfortable upbringing, but as an adult you have the choice to change that and the foundations of your childhood are a reflection of how you develop.

Many of us would prefer to forget certain things in the past; the bad haircuts, poor choice of girl or boyfriend, fibbing to parents, or copying someone’s homework, but we learn what is right and wrong and how it makes us feel. I call them character-building experiences where you are out of your comfort zone and you find you can cope and survive. I’m not a natural at camping, but I thought I could cope and it was harder than I imagined. Somehow I struggled through and cursed each night as I attempted to sleep in a tent, afraid the leeches outside would get me. After a lot of whining and support from the others on the trip, including my very patient guide (who became a good friend and still is) I learned that I am stronger than I thought and also know what suits me and what I should avoid if possible. We can’t all be good at everything; that’s being human and understanding others maybe better at certain things than you, but that it doesn’t make them better as a person or you lesser as one.

I recently looked at some old childhood photos. Some I remember being taken, how I felt and the occasion. Our childhood is where we are  our true authentic selves with little influence and our real personalities show through. I was a serious child, but I could still see some elements of playfulness and joy, yet I was curious and stubborn. Most photos were taken at Christmas or family trips to the beach; back then I loved books, cooking and stuffed toys. I still like my books and cooking, but still have the soft toys in my parent’s attic as a reminder of my childhood innocence. I mean, who would want them anyway if I gave them away? They were my childhood friends and were part of my life and as long as I have room, then there is no harm. It’s amazing how uncomplicated a child’s life is compared to an adult even though an adult has more control. Its control as adults we need to regain, because then you are being true to yourself then you who you really are.

If you don’t know who you really are, how can anyone else be expected to understand you? Do you like what you see? If not, then you can change it, because you need to like yourself before you can get to know the real you.

Knowing Right from Wrong

Most of us learn the unspoken moral code of what is right and wrong in society growing up, but recently I have noticed that people are bending those rules and the generation that is emerging is ignoring them altogether. They may know it’s wrong and still chance it, for example the American tourists (with a guide) who got caught carving their initials into the Colosseum in Rome and got arrested. Of course they knew it was wrong, but didn’t think they would get caught.

Another example are the arrogant folk that tell you are wrong when there is no evidence to prove that except in their ego. I often encounter such people and while I love a good debate, I choose not to waste my breath (or time typing) on narrow-minded egos. Even when someone is wrong, unless it is dangerous, I realize people need to find out certain things alone and it’s not my place to tell them, unless they ask for an opinion. That means sometimes watching them fall; harsh you may say, but if you try to protect a child from falling, how will they know what to do when you are not there when they do fall?

There is never a blanket solution for everyone, what is right for one maybe wrong for another. Perhaps someone isn’t ready to listen to a certain point of view or is able to understand it yet? I take the approach to keep an open mind about why people think as they do and respect where those beliefs come from.

I sometimes look at forums with philosophical debates, only to find people telling each other (and me) that I am wrong or right. I don’t need anyone to tell me either, because it’s individual. What’s right for me won’t be right for another, but sharing thoughts and theories is what philosophy and spiritualism is supposed to be about. Instead, it becomes a competition to see who thinks someone is right or wrong followed by a lecture from several egos. If someone has a questionable theory, I ask how they came about it rather than tell them they are wrong, because to them that might be the only truth they are able to see.

The only person who you should listen to is you, because you know yourself and what is best for you and what isn’t.