Dissecting reality

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We create our own worlds in our minds… We create images and ideas in our minds, which creates our realities.   .. When we like someone, it is not the person itself but the idea that we have of the person that we like. When we go through some difficult situation, it is the interpretation or the idea of the situation that we dislike. Everything we experience is through our interpretations, our ideas.  So I have learned to break down my ideas and images. So I have started to dissect what we call “reality.”

I see people driving down the road in high speed, and my first instinct reaction is to get mad at them.   But then I ask, why am I choosing to be mad?  What thoughts and perceptions do I have about people driving fast that are triggering the anger?  Then I find no good reason to feel anything, except to be cautious.

Then I have a disagreement with my spouse, and she withdraws.  I also isolate myself in rebellion.   I automatically feel upset and nervous, but then I question the reason why I feel so anxious.  What am I afraid of?   Argument?  Separation?  Being alone?

The next day I may be at work and trying to meet a deadline.  I feel anxious that I may not do the job on time.  Then I stop myself and rethink.  I take a deep breath.  I dispute the reason why I may be feeling anxious.  What is the worst that could happen?  Is there a need to feel this anxious?

I look back at all the things I have learned to take for granted.  I have taken a second look at all the things I thought were simply “normal” and “acceptable”.  And I start questioning them.

Assumptions.  Beliefs.  Customs.  Expectations.  Discriminations.   Family traditions.  Habits.  Ideologies.  Myths.  Obsessions.  Religions.   Social rituals.  Values.  World views.

They all can be taken apart… dissected.   They all can be questioned and dismissed.  We don’t have to adopt any of them if we don’t really want to.

They are all in our minds.

They all can be dissected.

 

Review of Star Wars: Force Awakens Movie

   Although I have never done a movie review, I will make an exception.  I waited with excitement to watch the last episode of Star Wars.  I guess I had a lot of expectations of it, having been a big fan of this saga, and actually having just a few of my expectations met. Here is my review on Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens.  

Although this film has been mostly a disappointment, I will start with the positive feedback.  In overall, the plot is a pretty good one.  I like the idea of the search for Luke Skywalker after his attempt to start a new league of Jedis.   I also enjoyed watching new evil characters starting a First Order, very similar to the original Empire.  Most of the characters are also excellent choices, including Rey, Finn, Poe Dameron,  Maz Kanata (who I think may be a Jedi master) , and BB-8 (who happens to be the cutest robot I have seen).  Also the return of the classic characters like Han Solo, Leia Organa, Chewbacca, C3-PO, and R2 D2, was more than I expected.  The  visual effects are excellent, particularly the Millennium falcon flying inside the abandoned space ships.  By the way, the scenes of fallen ships in the desert was a nice link to the previous movie; a reminder of the fallen empire and the introduction to a new way of life in the galaxy.  It was almost like witnessing a cemetery of the old empire.

Finn was a very likable guy struggling with leaving the First Order and joining the Resistance, which resembles a lot with Anakin’s struggles during the second and third movie, and Han Solo’s indecisiveness about joining the Rebellion.   He was comical while trying to protect Rey from all kinds of trouble, like Han Solo protected Leia.  Rey is also a great fighter who I think may be Han Solo and Leia’s daughter, but we are not supposed to know that yet ( and therefore Kylo Ren’s sister, which explains his trouble to completely control her mind.)  I was also relieved to see a lot of action with light sabers, but not too much, as in Revenge of the Sith.  The X wings fighting against the First Order fighters was also a pleasant return to the classic Star Wars space battles we all love to see.  It was literally 30 years from the last episode, which can justify all the changes that have occurred, and plenty of time for the First Order to rise, Leia leaving Solo,  and people forgetting about the reality of the Force.

Now, to the negative part of my review (which happens to be the most, I have to admit).  Why isn’t there more of an introduction to Rey’s life besides being a scavenger and lonely girl?  And how did she manage to adopt Jedi skills , such as controlling the storm trooper’s mind and actually beating Kylo Ren in a light saber fight?  Only if she would have been trained somehow by another Jedi could she have actually done some of these tricks.  Luke wasn’t able to do any of these if it weren’t for Obi Wan Kenobi’s initial trainings.   

Then there was way too much humor throughout the movie.  I mean, it started with Poe Dameron with his sarcastic attitude, then Finn’s character attempting to rescue Rey, then Han Solo (which is expected), then it was Kylo Ren’s rage that was somehow marked by a hint of amusement,  instead of maintaining his scary and evil demeanor.  Kylo’s anger (as opposed to Anakin and Darth Vader) was more like the anger of an evil Disney character (no surprise there).

Another disappointment was the lack of diversity in alien characters in some scenes, such as when Han Solo and Chewbacca confront old foes in his big ship.  They all happen to be humans.  And how did Han Solo lose the Millenium Falcon and somehow found it while Rey and Finn were in it?  But then there were too many new Alien characters inside Maz Kanata’s palace which we have never seen before.  What about Captain Phasma? Couldn’t she be a more evil looking character, maybe a blue skinned Twi-Lek or a red skinned Togruta?

Going back to Kylo’s character, he was a total disaster.  First of all, he should not have taken his ugly mask off at all.  He should have kept it to maintain the suspense and his evil and scary demeanor.  How did he even get a hold of Darth Vader’s burned mask?  There was also few explanations of his reasons for leaving the Jedi school and turning to the dark side.   How can he have some much power with the Force, but is unable to beat Rey with a light saber?  Kylo also should not have taken his mask off when his father, Han Solo, demanded it.  By the way, the idea of the main villain being Han’s son is ridiculous.  It  would have been more appealing if Kylo was Luke’s son instead.  But anyways, the scene when Han Solo confronts Kylo, which he calls by his real name, Ben, would be a little better if Kylo was actually walking with guards and then asks the guards to leave.  Then Han approaches peacefully and  Kylo refuses to take off his mask, exchanges some words , and then turns around and walks away from Han Solo.  Han then attempts to stop Ben by following  him and putting his hands on Kylo’s shoulder, and at that moment , a storm troopers comes back (maybe Captain Phasma) and shoots and kills Han Solo thinking that Kylo is being attacked.  Then Han Solo would die a more honorable death while his son watches him fall in despair and more rage.  And then all of this would have been even better if nobody knows Han was actually his father until Kylo yells “Father…!” while  Han Solo falls. Then Chewbacca shoots the storm trooper and Kylo gets away.

Although Rey was a good character, it would be more realistic and would make more sense if she would have received at least minimal training in the Force before being able to control the storm trooper’s mind to release her and beat Kylo at the final battle.  Maybe Rey could have kept a hologram of Luke or another Jedi Master with instructions about the Force from early age (a gift from an old Jedi master perhaps).  Rey would have begun to feel the Force by practicing techniques and meditation, but without a lightsaber.  When she meets Han Solo and then is given Luke’s lightsaber, she is convinced she can become a Jedi.  Maz Kanata ( which I insist is a Jedi Master) starts training Rey during her visit, and this is when she starts having all those visions, but then gets scared and abandons the light saber.  And this is when Kylo attacks again and takes her hostage, and Finn keeps the lightsaber and ends up rescuing her.

Luke Skywalker should have also showed up sooner in the movie.  But I was relieved  he showed up at the end which gives me hope that  he will play a much active role in the next movie.  I also noticed there was a lot of similarities between this movie and  the fourth episode: A New Hope.  For instance, Rey’s rise from a simple desert girl to a fearless fighter mirrors Luke’s rise from a farmer’s boy to an X Wing pilot.  Also Finn’s funny character and his ambivalence to join the Resistance is similar to Han Solo’s character and ambivalence to join the Rebellion.  Kylo’s sudden attack at the beginning of the movie is almost the same as Darth Vader’s attack at the beginning of A New Hope (they both are attempting to find information from a droid, and end up taking a rebel as hostage).  In both movies the Millennium Falcon is stolen and people hide under its floors.  In both movies the Rebels have a plot to destroy the villain’s main weapon of mass destruction. In both movies a young girl is being rescued from the bad guys, and the main villain ends up fighting with his lightsaber while the huge evil ship is being destroyed by rebels.

In summary, The Force Awakens could have been a much better movie.  I am actually glad there is a big chance that an Episode 8 will come with  Luke as the main character.  I am hoping Rey is fully trained as a Jedi (and probably tempted to join the dark side) , Finn returns as Han Solo’s replacement, and that Kylo matures and becomes more evil and powerful.

 

May the Force be with you.

Jesus visits Christmas

  

Jesus came down one night to see how his followers were conmemorating his birth and his teachings. He went first to a house up in a hill.  He heard people singing and laughing . So he went inside and saw a big tree full of lights and decorations. “I am the light of the world…” Jesus said out loud.  But the people inside the house kept decorating the tree with colorful lights.  Jesus also noticed colorful boxes under the tree. He asked one person what those boxes were and the person said, “Well,  they are holiday gifts, of course… They are for the kids and grown ups too!”  Jesus was puzzled and said “But I have given  everyone the gift of eternal life…!” But the person shrugged and walked away.  Still confused , Jesus visited another house where people were drinking alcohol and laughing hysterically.   They were cooking and eating lots of food and saving some for later.  Jesus said “How about feeding the hungry people who are homeless ?..” But nobody responded and continued to drink and eat without hesitation.

Feeling disappointed, Jesus went outside and started walking down the road and saw lots of people coming in and out of a big building.   He approached the building to find out what the people were doing.   Jesus thought they were probably visiting the sick or the imprisoned. But instead he  saw people rushing inside to buy as many stuff as they could . He noticed people arguing about who should get the last item on a shelf.  He saw many people acting anxious and  angry.   Jesus said ” Come to me if you are tired and restless.”   But everybody kept rushing and arguing.

Jesus went back outside and saw a beggar outside of the front door, and asked “What about clothing this humble person?”  but nobody else paid any attention to him.  They seemed to be focused on buying and filling up their carts to take to their own homes.

Jesus went to the next building, hoping to find at least a glimpse of what he has taught.   But then he saw an old fat man sitting on a throne with a group  of children waiting in line  to see him.  Jesus said ” Ah! Children! Theirs is the kingdom of heaven ! But why do they want so desperately to see this other king?” To his surprise, Jesus could hear one child sitting at the king’s lap asking him to deliver  toys to his house.  Feeling frustrated, Jesus stormed out of the building.  

He was troubled and saddened by what he saw.  He asked himself “What about the least of these? What about compassion, forgiveness, serving and making  peace?  What happened to those who are poor in spirit, the meek, and the ones who love their neighbors as themselves?

He then decided to return to the buildings and the homes to remind people again about the real reason for the season. Once there , Jesus spoke but nobody listened.  The noise was too loud and there was a lot of holiday music playing in the background. Out of despair , Jesus started pushing people out of the building and throwing the stuff off the shelves, while he shouted “Get out and visit the homeless, the sick, and the imprisoned !”  Jesus then returned to the homes and overturned the tables  and knocked down the decorated trees while he shouted “Get out and feed the hungry and clothe the naked!”

But he was suddenly apprehended by several police officers and was charged with disturbing the peace and trespassing.  He was beatened and pushed around for messing up people’s holiday celebration.  He was sent to jail where he could not get a fair trial and where he ended up dying.  He was quickly forgotten and the rest of the world kept buying and eating as if nothing happened. 

  The following year it happened all over again.

Merry Christmas.

Trophies

 

What kind of trophy have you given yourself or wish to have?  We don’t have to participate in a sport game or any tournament in order to receive a trophy. They come in all forms.

We enjoy having trophies about pretty much everything in life.  We give ourselves a trophy when we adorned our homes  with pictures, wear fancy clothes, and hang certificates.  We also give ourselves trophies whenever we receive compliments through greeting cards and raises.

Our egos are nourished  when we receive or give ourselves any of these kinds of trophies.  They are basically extensions of our egos.  And they help us feel special and inflated.  It encourages the false self that we like to identify with. Our trophies help to hide the flaws, the limitations, and the imperfections that shape our human nature.   It prevents us from having to look our selves in the mirror and be honest about our intentions.    Our trophies make us feel distracted and proud.  It makes us feel supernatural.

But what is the ultimate outcome of our trophies? Nothing at all. Because they are just a tool that amplifies our illusions. Our fantasises. They are empty decorations that will remain useless once we depart this earth. But in the mean time, we continue to fool ourselves by believing we are special and invisibles, through our trophies.

A day at work

imageHere I am. Just coming out of a counseling session with a client who is feeling depressed and physically tired and sick.  He lost both of his legs due to diabetes and he has no hope for the future .. He used to be a great man, he used to educate  other people about history and writing.  But now he does not have any hopes of doing any of that again ..  He is afraid of dying .

Yesterday I saw another client with schizophrenia. His apartment looks like a total disaster , but he is content with his chaotic life.  It is his norm.

The other day  I saw a woman with PTSD with psychotic features.  The voices tell her to cut herself but she tries to ignore them .  She says it is not easy to ignore.  She tries meditation and walking to cope .  But she has been abused and threatened so much in the past that it has become part of her life to be anxious all the time .

I hear all the stories when I go visit the clients that I see. I feel bad at the moment but as soon as I leave,  I go back to my routine. I go back to my own life with my own problems.  Because if I don’t temporarily leave it behind, I may not have a life of my own.

And the next day I do it all over again.

The danger of exclusivity

I drive down the street and I see another car with a bumper sticker that says : “There is only one” with an American flag on it…

Then I ask myself “only one what…?”

People from this “American” culture have learned to believe that they are unique… special… exclusive … The same thing occurs with people who have adopted an exclusive way of perceiving their race, culture, religion, ect.

It is dangerous to insist that whatever we want to represent us is the “one and only”.   It conpartmentalizes us.

It divides us.  Makes us proud.  Puts us on a pedestal. 

It creates an “us versus them ” mentality.   It makes us arrogant.

When we choose to believe that the divine being we put our faith in is the only one,

When we choose to think that the government we are governed by should govern all other lands,

When we choose to adopt a way of life, and believe it is the best one,

And when we choose to use a particular way of perceiving the world, and believe is the ultimate purpose in life,

then we set ourselves for failure.  We start to crumble as human beings.

And we stop being free.

Being frank about religion

I am going to share what my thoughts have been about practicing organized religion.

This may be offensive to some of my readers… but that is a choice.

Watching sports on TV, I notice  some players kneeling down as if praying when

scoring points.  it is a common scene in some games.  But the reality is, what are they

trying to show?  That their concept of the Almighty, Supreme Being, or Higher Power

is granting them the joy of scoring points in a game? Why would an all powerful being

intervene in an insignificant athletic event?

I have heard other people claim that “God” has given them the message or sign that

they so much wished for.  “It came from God” or “God told me to do this.”  What a

dangerous and glamorous way of claiming that the Almighty is on their side!

Yet, there are others who I have witnessed saying that certain unfortunate events happen

because of “sin” and, therefore, it is a punishment from God.   How grandiose

and arrogant can some religious people be? Not to mention judgmental.

Is this the image that Jesus, Ghandi, Mother Teresa,  the  Dalai Lama , and other religious

figures have taught us to practice?

Still there are others who claim that , because the Bible says so, then it must be true,

in spite of some contradictions and different interpretations given to some of its verses.

Some of us can be very narrow minded, simply to continue to attempt to nourish the ego.

Yes, religion exists to feed the ego.  It is still practiced in order to maintain control of those who

are still insecure about the purpose of their lives.  So some of us desperately try to attach

to a particular organized sect and doctrine while trying to make sense of our chaotic lives.

It is one of many ways to try to survive in this world.   Just like joining a political party, sports team,

ethnic group, profession, and every other social group that exists in our societies. We enjoy

worshipping that which we think can “save us” and represent our way of thinking.  We worship

gods, saints, famous athletes, political leaders, celebrities, and even commonly recognized

fictitious characters in order to maintain a strong ego.  In order to keep us from facing our

true selves.

How coward and fearful can we be? We hide behind masks.  We pretend we are certain

about who we are.  But we are far from the truth…. if there is such a thing.