Showing posts with label Enlightenment. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Enlightenment. Show all posts

February 20, 2019

Simple And Beautiful

Thought this was a nice touch on the table. 

Just a simple drinking glass with a little water on the bottom and these three beautiful flowers inside. 

Pink, Yellow, Orange. 

So simple, yet so beautiful.

Maybe that's the point. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 17, 2019

You Can't See Yourself

So this donut-shaped art at the Outlets in Clarksburg is metallic and reflective. 

But what is really interesting to me is that when you stand in front of it (like I was literally doing here), you can't see yourself. 

It made me wonder how you can look at yourself and yet not see yourself. 

And I thought of this as being a bigger lesson in life. 

When we are looking at ourself and there is a big donut whole in the mirror of ourselves then we are left blind to what should be reflecting back at us.  

No matter how hard we try to see ourselves and what we are doing right and wrong, it's like a ghost out there--we are blind to it. 

To really see ourselves, our heart and mind have to be receptive to seeing the full picture. 

That means looking at ourselves as we really are, even when there seems to be a piece missing to the puzzle, and we have trouble being honest about what we see. 

To change, learn, grow--to become a better person, we need to look full on and be willing to see what we will see.  

You can't see yourself until you can.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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March 18, 2018

Everything Is 4 The Best

So it's easy to get down on life when bad things happen. 

But it's funny how when we just take a little perspective or in retrospect...

We realize that everything G-d does is really for our best!

It may not look and feel that way at the moment. 

But there comes an inner awakening about things when we see the bigger picture. 

And then we sort of nod our heads knowingly:
"Ah, that's why that happened!"

There are many reasons, G-d may be directing something: 

- Opening new and better opportunities for us. 

- Teaching us important life lessons.

- Putting us someplace we need to be to help someone else. 

- Even saving us from some worse catastrophe. 

For G-d, there is no time or space--He supersedes all of these. 

He puts us where we need to be when we need to be for His bigger plan for our good. 

Also, when you think you have a problem, remember to look at what others may be going through.

Because there are problems and then there are problems!

As my dad used to say:

"The guy complained he had no shoes, until he saw the guy without any feet!"

Is your problem really so bad--maybe yes, maybe no.

Try for a second to think of others you know and what they are going through. 

Imagine for a moment--what does really bad look like, feels like. 

G-d works in what seems like mysterious ways.

But we can uncover the mystery and discover the holiness and grand plan of it all--if we just look beyond ourselves and towards the heavens.

Oh G-d, thank you for all that you do for us--your wisdom is glorious; your lessons are to teach me to be a better me; and your mercy endures forever. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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February 16, 2018

It's For Us

I love this saying from one of my colleagues:
"G-d doesn't do it to us. 
He does it for us!"

Instead of asking with anger and resentment "why me?" -- perhaps we can try to see the larger picture and be grateful for all the blessings and opportunities that G-d does give us. 

While certainly there is pain and suffering in this world, there is also the chance to learn, grow, and become stronger and better people. 

We are here to hopefully leave the world a better place than before we got here. 

The perspective that the challenges and obstacles are not meant to really harm us, but to help us is not an easy pill to swallow.

But maybe it really is the enlightened view of faith that we all need to fight on and overcome. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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January 8, 2018

Yearning For Redemption


Just an impression from my recent trip to Israel. 

There is such a yearning for people to do good and to merit the coming of Mashiach (Messiah) towards the ultimate redemption for mankind. 

It's on every street corner and light post.  

Whether it's eyes gazed on the righteousness of Rabbi Nachman or The Rebbe--as we used to sing as kids in NCSY:
"We want Mashiach now!"

Whether Mashiach is an actual person or a spiritual revelation in the world leading to redemption--it represents an unprecedented enlightenment, holiness and a spiritual healing, and love and peace for mankind. 

While we strive to earn our daily bread, it's nice to have a part of us that also seeks a greater good and achieving betterment for the world. 

Any small or big things we can do in our lives to contribute to Tikkun Olam ("fixing the world"), it's purposeful, hopeful, and uplifting to try. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 3, 2017

DC Lights It Up - Just Physical or More








Wanted to share these beautiful lights from around Washington, D.C. 

They are all sort of magnificent!

But even while I am marveling at them, my mind is tearing another way...

I am thinking, there is physical light, yet in so many ways the world seems dark. 

We have lots technological progress to be proud of, and yet there are big problems all over the horizon.

- Nuclear and missile proliferation, and rising cyber threats.

- Rising global terrorism and potential for military conflicts

- Spiraling national debt and the trust funds for social entitlements running out

- Rising discrimination and associated hate crimes

- Family strains and the decline of marriage

- Challenges in confidence with organized religion 

- World leadership at a crossroads. 

We need light--but not just the physical type. 

Transparency, enlightenment to solve big problems and a spiritual awakening to ensure good wins out over evil are all on order. ;-)

(Source Photos: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 22, 2017

Ambassador of Redemption and Peace

Thought this was so cool...

One of my friends from synagogue has an amazing replica of the letter From President Harry S. Truman recognizing the the State of Israel (with the President's last-minute hand-written edits on it):

It reads: 
"This Government has been informed that a Jewish state has been proclaimed in Palestine, and recognition has been requested by the provisional Government thereof.  
The United States recognizes the provisional government as the de facto authority of the State of Israel." 
Harry Truman 
Approved May 14, 1948"
 And hence the Jewish people went from almost 2,000 years in exile and persecution--culminating in the genocidal Holocaust that wiped out 6,000,000 Jews--to be followed by the founding of the State of Israel and the keeping of G-d's promise in the Bible:
Genesis 15:18: 
"On that day the LORD made a covenant with Abram and said, "To your descendants I give this land, from the Wadi of Egypt to the great river, the Euphrates."
Deuteronomy 30:3 
"Then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have compassion on you and gather you again from all the nations where he scattered you."
We are living through historic times!

Now the Headquarters of the State Department is named the Harry S. Truman building...how fitting for all our diplomacy to be called for the President that recognized the State of Israel, as the Bible said. 

Then this weekend, I was truly surprised and humbled when another friend from synagogue said that he thinks with all my passion and caring for the United States, Israel and G-d that I could be the U.S. Ambassador to Israel...I couldn't have be more moved by these lovely sentiments.

As a child of Holocaust survivors and a person of faith who believes deeply that we are witnessing the prophecies of the Bible literally being fulfilled and that we are in the time of the great redemption, I have a vision that we are ushering in the coming of the Messiah and that there will be peace in our lands and enlightenment of G-d upon the Earth. 

I hope and pray every day for it to be. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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November 25, 2016

What Is Peace + Happiness?

I loved this piece of art work with the colorful Buddhas.

It got me thinking about peace and happiness--is it the same for everyone?

To one person, career, achievement, and money seems to make happy--as one of my friends told me about one of his extremely successful bosses who heads a large corporation and has not 1, not 2, not 3, but 4 mansions on the water, in the mountains, and overlooking Central Park in NYC.

To another person, it's being able to do what they want to in life--doing what makes you emotionally happy instead of what you have to do; the freedom to choose and to be passionate about what you do and how you spend you time every day--whether it's a profession, an activity or sport, or even exploration and travel.

Yet others, find peace and satisfaction in spiritual and religious pursuits--joining the clergy or learning about G-d and philosophy, doing G-d's commandments or helping his creations by doing good deeds. 

Many of course, find peace and get nachas from their families, the loves of their life, their beautiful children and grandchildren, and helping the next generation to grow and prosper after us. 

That can also extend to friends, community, and even colleagues--when we surround ourselves with other good people, those who we enjoy their company and have things in common, then we can find happiness with each other.

Being here in Florida for the holidays, I'm reminded of all the sun, beauty, and body-worshippers, those people who love their physique and good health, working out, looking good, being with others that look good, and even designing and making things that are beautiful. 

And at the other end of the spectrum again are the intellectual nerdy nerds who get their energy from being brainiacs like one of my friend's nephews who is one of silicon valley's serial innovators.

Whatever you love, have, and do that makes you happy is something to be extremely grateful for.

Nothing is forever, and nothing is owed to us.

Use the gifts that G-d has given you with the wisdom to reach enlightenment by being good and generous to others and so that you truly merit these beautiful things and thank the creator who blessed you. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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November 7, 2016

We All Have It In Us

So this is a very cool sweat jacket with the Superman and all look. 

We all like to think of ourselves as possible superheroes. 

Whether we dress the role or not, the most important thing is acting it. 

Every day, we face circumstances and decisions and we have to decide whether we rise up to the occasion as the superhero or we acquiesce to what's easy or lucrative and do the villain thing. 

From the time we are kids, we glorify the superheros not just for the awesome cool powers they have, but for doing something amazing to help people and the world with it. 

Somewhere from being a kid to a grown-up, many people end up letting go of that superhero dream as they face the harsh realities of life everyday. 

But deep down inside all of us is that superhero!

Good over evil is not just a story for children's bedtime or imagination, but it is our battle to be fought and won--that's what a good life is for those that never lose their fundamental beliefs. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 28, 2016

One Mean Election

Three cheers for one of the worst elections ever.

American politics sinking to new lows.

This poster yesterday plastered all over Washington D.C. 

"Bully Culprit"

Denigrating, bashing, hurting, and humiliating other people whether we like them or not is wrong. 

- What happened to agreeing to disagree?

- What happened to being civil and mannered?

- What happened to "when they go low, we go high"?  

Power is such a motivator. 

Greed, according to the Buddhists is one of the "three poisons," along with ignorance and hate. 

These lead to evil and suffering and prevent the attainment of enlightenment. 

Desire and wanting something so much that you will do anything for it, thinking you deserve it, and being overconfident that you will get are a weakness of character and leadership. 

Yesterday, Putin said about our election hysteria, "Is America some kind of banana republic?

Is this really the type of darkness (and not light) to the world we want to show ourselves as.

We are continuing to go in the wrong direction and away from enlightenment and good--especially when there is so much work for us to still be done. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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August 1, 2015

Good Can (And Will) Overcome Evil


Beautiful video showing that good can overcome evil. 

Next video is where the woman (empowered) takes down the would be attackers herself--with a big time, well-deserved smackdown!

Where on the right track. ;-)
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January 29, 2015

Understanding Disability

So true story...

There is a wonderful lady in the workplace...one of the nicest people. 

Unfortuantely, she has a disability and it is not easy...at times, she expresses to me the pain and the challenges, but always she maintains the best attitude and is an inspiration to everyone here. 

Not to compare, because thank G-d, I have been so blessed, but with the hip replacement and various complications, I have come to better understand physical pain and difficult mobility. 

Sometimes, as people do, we ask, "Why?"--and often we just come to the refrain that "G-d must have his reasons"--to teach us and to grow us in some way. 

Well, in speaking with this lovely women, she must have heard me really listening and understanding or seen my empathy with her, because at one point, she starts nodding and goes almost with surprise, "You really do understand."

Then she adds something about it being so odd for a manager to understand these things. 

I was so humbled by what she said, but more important. I felt a light bulb go on over my head. 

Why does G-d give us the challenges we face in life (physical, emotional, intellectual, spiritual, etc.)?

Because it helps us to truly understand and emphasize with other human beings...to be compassionate, caring, and giving (not self absorbed, narcissist, and me-me-me!)

In a sense, only by knowing the pain and suffering of others (or some elements of it--"Been there," "Experienced it," "I Know where you're coming from!"), can we substantially make that ultimate human and spiritual connection.

No, I am not saying we all have to be in horrible pain and misfortune--G-d forbid--just that the reasons for pain and suffering in life is not completely a mystery. 

My father used to say, "If we didn't have suffering, we wouldn't know or appreciate how good we have it the rest of the time." 

But it's also that we won't know or understand the challenges our neighbors, friends, and colleagues have--and adequately care for and about them.

G-d in his infinite wisdom has his ways to teach us--it should be with ultimate mercy, in good health and peace, and not pain and suffering--but when we oursleves are challenged, doesn't it open our eyes to see others and the world in a whole new and "better" way? ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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May 24, 2013

Willy Wonka Wears Google Glass TOO

I can only say that my fascination with Google continues to grow daily. 

Years ago, I used to joke, "What is this G-O-O-G-L-E?"

But now, I know and marvel at how Google is information!

And every type of information from news and facts to shopping and entertainment: 

Research is Google.
eCommerce is Google. 
Entertainment is Google. 

Google this...Google that. 

Archive, index, search, discover, access...learn, grow.

Google has quite literally ushered in a new age of enlightenment, no really!

The focus is on information...Google's mission statement is:

"Organize the world's information and make it universally acceptable and useful."

If you believe that knowledge and learning is one of the core underpinnings for personal growth and global development then you can appreciate how Google has been instrumental in unleashing the information age we are living in. 

Of course, information can be used for good and for evil--we still have free choice. 

But hopefully, by building not only our knowledge, but also understanding of risks, consequences, each other, and our purpose in life--we can use information to do more good than harm (not that we don't make mistakes, but they should be part of our learning as opposed to coming from malevolent intentions). 

Google is used for almost 2/3 of all searches.

Google has over 5 million eBooks and 18 million tunes.

Google's YouTube has over 4 billion hours of video watched a month.

Google's Blogger is the largest blogging site with over 46 million unique visitors in a month

But what raises Google as the information provider par excellence is not just that they provide easy to use search and access to information, but that they make it available anytime, anywhere.

Google Android powers 2/3 of global smartphones

Google Glass has a likely market potential for wearable IT and augmented reality of $11B by 2018.

Google's Driverless Car will help "every person [traveling] could gain lost hours back for working, reading, talking, or searching the Internet."

Google Fiber is bringing  connection speeds 100x faster than traditional networking to Kansas City, Provo, and Austin. 

Google is looking by 2020 to bring access to the 60% of the world that is not yet online

Dr. Astro Teller who oversees Google[x] lab and "moonshot factory" says, "we are serious as a heart attack about making the world a better place," and he compares themselves to Willy Wonka's magical chocolate factory. (Bloomberg BusinessWeek)

I like chocolate and information--and yes, both make the world a better place. ;-)

(Source Photo: here by (a)artwork)


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May 18, 2013

Baby Frog, See You Now

So I took this picture of this baby frog while hiking. 

This was the first one we saw--on the foliage it completely blended in, but on the rocks we could see it clearly.

It was so little and cute--I had to zoom in to get this shot. 


After this, it actually jumped under a log and I got an action photo of its hind legs in mid-jump--going what seemed like super-frog speed. 


Once, I was attuned to the frogs color and motion, I was able to detect many of them in the forest today--all pretty much like this little baby. 

It was interesting to me learning from this, how before we are aware of something--it's as if it doesn't even exist (even with subtle ribbits in the air); and after you are sort of clued in to the surroundings, you almost can't help but see them.

To me, it's like life in general, when you don't see your own issues or life challenges, you can't even begin to work on them because your virtually oblivious to them, but once you see yourself for what you are--warts and all--you can begin to work through your problems, as if you have almost transcendental awareness. 

A little camouflaged frog, like subtle personal issues may be almost imperceptible in the forest of life, but against a contrasting background, you can get amazing clarity--to self-help and self-heal. 

Cute little frog, I can see you now and your not jumping away from me anymore. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)


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May 10, 2013

Some Questions To Change Your Life

If you haven't seen this, Inc. ran an article (19 February 2013) on "11 Life-Changing Questions You Musk Ask Yourself."

I like the introspective and thoughtful questions posed and believe it's well worth our time to think about these. 

Looking back from your deathbed: 
The first three questions (1-3) have to do looking at your life in terms of how you lived your life and how it will be viewed at the end. The point is not what title you achieved (CEO, VP, etc.) or how much money you accumulated in your life, but whose lives you touched and how profoundly.

Working to live:
The next two questions (4-5) have to do with how you earn you keep. I remember learning that life is not about living to work, but rather working to live. Do you work hard and contribute something real and meaningful, and is it something that you can be proud of. 

Embrace good change:
There are two question (6-7) then about how you deal with change. When everyday is fundamentally the same and you're afraid to try new things, then you may very well be stuck in some sort of a rut. If you have the leeway to pick your change--look for ways to change that helps you grow into the person you want to be (and not just changing for changes sake). 

Spend your time valuably:
Two questions (8-9) are about that the best things in life cannot be bought--real relationships, good deeds, being a mensch. Your time is your most valuable resource. Flower, candy, gifts are a nice gesture but don't make up for time invested and well-spent together with those you most deeply care about. Words and gifts are cheap, actions speak louder than words--volumes--about who we really are. 

Treat others as G-d's creatures:
Question 10 points that people are G-d's precious creatures and the biggest test is how we treat them--do we do it with selfish interest or with empathy, kindess, and charity. I have never understood the many charity dinners and events where people get honored for their giving, rather than the honor being in the act of giving, itself. 

Challenge yourself to be more:
The 11th question isn't about doing scary, stupid things, but rather challenging and pushing yourself to overcome what seems like our innate limitations and instead go beyond (break those barriers!). 

While it is tempting to tire, to give up, or to just claim victory, as my grandfather used to say, "There is enough time to sleep after 120." ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 3, 2012

The Information High


Kids_and_technology

A new article by Andy Blumenthal called "The Information High" at Public CIO Magazine (29 November 2012).

"In addition to being slaves to our things--including technology gadgets--we are also addicted to the data and information they serve up."

Hope you enjoy! ;-)

Andy

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 8, 2012

Poisons Anonymous

One of the Buddhist teachings is that there are 3 poisons in this world: greed, anger, and ignorance

But that by turning these poisons around into generosity, compassion, and wisdom, we can create life-healing. 

While this is sort of simplistic, it does point to a number of important things:

1) We can have an impact on our destiny. We can choose our direction and work towards something that is good or we can fall harmfully into some bad and destructive ways.

2) Everything has an antidote.  While we may not know the antidote at the time, generally everything has its corollary or opposite and we can find healing by moving towards that. 

3) The answers in life are not so far away. How much of a stretch is it to turned a clenched fist into an open hand or to quench ignorance with learning--these things are doable.

If we look at people and events at face value, it is easy as times to get angry and feel hatred at the corruption and injustices out there--but I believe, the key is to channel those feeling into something positive--into change and Tikkun Olam--"fixing the world". 

By channeling our feelings into constructive actions, then we are changing not just ourselves, but can have a broader influence--one deed at a time.  

(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)

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April 6, 2012

Two Lessons On The Road To Enlightenment

I watched a terrific PBS Emmy-nominated documentary called The Buddha (2010).

The show described the life of Prince Siddhartha from India about 2500 years ago and his "quest for serenity and eternal enlightenment."

There were two highlights that I feel are really worth noting: 

1) The Story of the Glass:

Prince Siddhartha saw a glass and marveled how it held the water, how it made a distinct ringing sound when tapped, and how it so beautifully reflected the light off of it.  

After this, he imagined what would happen to the glass if the wind or shaking knocked it down and it shattered. 

Then he realized the reality of this world is that the glass was (as if) already broken, and that we should appreciate the goodness of the glass all the more while it is still whole. 

I loved this story, because it so encompasses Buddhist thinking in terms of its seeking to overcome human loss and suffering.

Like the glass, the reality of this world is impermanence and therefore, it is as if we have already lost all the people and things we love--therefore, we should appreciate them all the more while they are here. 

Further, we can learn to cope with these feelings of (eventual) loss and suffering by ending material cravings and instead seeking out inner tranquility and spiritual enlightenment. 

2) The Story of the Four Meetings:

The Prince who had been pampered his whole life (up until about the age 29) and had only known pleasure--the finest food, clothing, and women--until one day he went out and meet four people. 

- The first was an old man and so, he came to know how people change.

- The second was a sick person, and so, he came to know how people suffer.

- The third was a corpse, and so, he came to know impermanence and death.

- The fourth was a spiritual seeker, and so he came to know escape.

I thought this story was profound in understanding the cycle of life--from birth to maturity and ultimately to decline and death. 

And in order to escape from the loss and suffering (that occurs again and again through the continual cycle of birth and death and rebirth), we must seek to liberate ourselves from materialist desire, greed, envy, and jealousy.

These things ultimately causes us to sin and suffer and if we can break the cycle by meditation, asceticism, and spiritual wisdom, then we can find true inner peace and achieve nirvana. 

Some personal takeaways:

While I am no expert nor a practitioner of Buddhism, I do appreciate the Buddhist teachings and try to integrate it where possible with my Judaism, so that I can find meaning in the path toward spirituality and faith in G-d.

One of my personal goals is to overcome the senseless drive for chasing endless materialism for it's own--and ultimately--meaningless sake, and instead be able to really focus and achieve something meaningful.  

I believe that meaning is different for each individual, and is part of our path of finding ourselves and our in place in this universe. 

(Source Photo: here with attribution to Christos Tsoumplekas)


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February 5, 2012

Leadership Lessons From The Shaolin

I watched a Sunday movie called Shaolin, a martial arts film from Hong Kong (2011). 

What I really enjoyed about this movie aside from action and adventure was the teachings of the Shaolin monks.

Some highlights that I took away:

- Everything has a purpose: "Which is more useful a pile of gold or of mud? To a seedling, it is the pile of mud." One thing or one person is not better than another, but are just different and each serves their own purpose in life. 

- Greed is the root of all evil: "All negative deeds are done for greed." We need to be willing to let go of the desire for material things and instead value doing good deeds.
 
- Evil causes suffering: "From evil comes suffering. With justice, they are gone." In Judaism, there is a similar notion that one bad deed begets another and causes suffering, and vice versa good deeds spur more good in the world.

- Repentance is learning and growth: "The one who repents is a hero." Everyone makes mistakes and does bad at some point in their life--no one is an angel--but the key is to learn from these and commit to do better the next time. 

- Compassion is the way to peace: By being compassionate to others, we can purge ourselves of discontent and anger, and find inner peace and enlightenment.

Below is how I summarize the steps from materialism to enlightenment.

Hopefully, we can all find our way to achieving our true potentials for the good.
 





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