Pillars of a Good Life

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There are four pillars of life. When they are all well developed and well balanced, life is good. When they are underdeveloped, life is probably not so good. Whey they are not balanced, if one aspect is much more highly developed than each other, maybe life is pretty good, but not as good as it potentially can be.

The pillars are:

  1. Health
  2. Ethical life
  3. A method to quieten the mind (eg meditation)
  4. Framework, knowledge, purpose

We’ll look a bit deeper into each one.

It’s pretty obvious that life is better when we’re healthy. We can enjoy life. We can interact with life. We are at ease with ourself, without dis-ease. So staying healthy is one of the most valuable investment for ourself. How do we stay healthy? Basically feed the body with good nutrition, enough movements to stimulate the body & organs, and enough rest.

Ethical life means leading life according to ethics and moral values. Most of the religion’s moral values are similar in some way. Yoga have the yamas & niyamas. Siddharta Gautama taught the eight noble path. Christian have the ten commandments. And so on. The moral values boil down to ‘Don’t do unto others what you don’t want others to do unto you.’ When one lead a life ethically, it will contribute to the next pillar – a quiet mind.

A quiet mind means a mind that is aware of it’s own fluctuations, and not getting carried away by the fluctuations. One of the method is through meditation. In meditation we train the mind to stay with one anchor for a period of time. Through practice we develop the endurance to sustain this focus for longer and longer. And the longer we can stay there, the quieter the mind become.

When the mind is sufficiently quietened down, there’s a sense of direction that comes from within. Perhaps at the beginning we can’t pinpoint or detail which direction does it want to go – but usually we can tell if the direction is wrong. If we are receptive and open we’ll find many teachers and lessons in our lives that provide you with knowledge. With this knowledge we develop framework, like a map. With a framework we know where we are, why we are here, and where we are going. And slowly find the answer to the perennial question “Who am I?”

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Based on a talk by my yoga philosophy teacher Swami Pujan

Image: Rio-Antirio bridge by Spiros Vathis

 

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I Guess It Doesn’t Matter

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The Sky of Turki, a photograph by Ayda Sulianti

 

Waking up with that same old feeling

As presumptuous as the sound of my heart beating

Only it isn’t that, it is my past knocking

Peeping to steal my peace

The harder I try to ignore them

The louder the sound becomes

Echoing deep into my whole being

As the dark lingering smoke started to enfold my common sense

As if bundling me up for a sacrifice

Panic crept in, inches by inches

I could feel the pricking

Stung me frozen

Is it a dream? But why am I still here?

Floating nonsense, tormented with no pain

Broken hearted with no grief

Is it real? Is it me lugging this body?

Why everything moves in slow motion?

As if trying to photograph every details

Every move, every emotion

Million pieces of puzzle appearing out of nowhere

Takes me a while to see

They are pieces of my memories

Or are they scenes of never ending drama?

Are they mine?

This mosaic we called love

Or should we call it illusion?

Drawing me closer

So close, I am blinded

To the edge of self deception

Luring me to give in

Enticing me to surrender

I am sinking deep into the earth

I am flying, soaring into the sky

Which one is real?

Is it a dream?

I guess it doesn’t matter

Image/photograph is by Ayda Sulianti.  For more of her works, follow her Instagram @aydasulianti

Stillness & Clarity

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Sandy Bay Golden Hour by Eugen Naiman

If there is no stillness, there is no silence.
If there is no silence, there is no insight.
If there is no insight, there is no clarity.

~ Tenzin Priyadarshi

Previous post: Mind Like Still Water

Stillness is when there are the feeling of calm, peace, grounded-ness, the sense of firmness, earthed, stable, unshakeable. At the beginning this stillness is achieved by becoming physically still (eg seated meditation). As one get more used to it we can have stillness in motion (eg walking meditation, focused movement like taichi, yoga etc, or even during running/swimming/knitting/cooking).

Clarity is the result of stillness. Imagine a glass full of muddy water. Without stillness, the mud will not settle down and the water will never become clear. When the glass is placed down and left to be still for a while, the mud will settle down to the bottom and water will clear up and we can see through the water. Another analogy that is more high-tech: imagine trying to take a picture while we’re in a moving car on a bumpy road. Unless the camera has very fast shutter speed, the resulting picture will be blurred. We have to be holding the camera still enough to be able to capture the image clearly.

Why is clarity important?

When there’s clarity, we can see things as they are, without any filter or coloring. Free of perception. Free from conditioning, judgement, assumption, beliefs, hypothesis, expectation, etc.

When we see things as they are, without any filter or coloring, we can better navigate ourself in relation to things. ‘Things’ here cover everything: ourself and everything that is outside ourself (family & friends, other people, relationships, objects, job, career, everything).

Clarity helps us to make the most appropriate decision at any given time. Appropriate decision usually effects the elements in such a way that they become more in harmony with everything else. When there’s harmony, there are less disturbances, less waves. Like a boat in the sea – when there are less waves, the boat will move more smoothly.

Staying with the boat in the sea analogy, there will be waves (or even storm) from time to time, outside of our scope of control. So situation can be rocky and disturbed from time to time – but the more harmony there are, the sooner the waves calm down, the sooner the journey become smooth again.

Image credit: Eugen Naiman