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On Divorce, Relationships, Society, and Human Progress

Saturday, September 3rd, 2016

Iris & Jarome Bali wedding photo
My blog has been quite vacant for many years.
How to write about the challenges of moving to a culture completely opposite to your own, and the process of your life falling apart, your failure after a decade of trying, in denial, to fix problems that were unfixable and loss of the chance to be with your son you had waited so long for and to suffer the same fate as my divorced parents?

In 2013 I finally accepted defeat, I had waited over 10 years to have a family, and spent 6 gruelling years and every penny I had trying to adopt a child only to have him taken away by my ex when she decided to move back to Canada in response to my ‘year of patience’. I won’t go into the complicated and confusing details. The most painful and difficult time in my life, yes, but I don’t blame her for what happened, or myself, this was a failure of society.

Shoghi Effendi said, “A tempest, unprecedented in its violence, unpredictable in its course, catastrophic in its immediate effects is at present sweeping the face of the earth. Its driving power is remorselessly gaining in range and momentum. Its cleansing force, however much undetected, is increasing with every passing day. Humanity, gripped in the clutches of its devastating power, is smitten by the evidences of its resistless fury. It can neither perceive its origin, nor probe its significance, nor discern its outcome…”

There are dark forces at work in our society, suffering is far too common as a result of ambitions for profit and this has become a distraction to solving common health problems that are destroying families and taking lives.
We are witnessing the collapse of its social structure and the functional, healthy family. Proof of this is in the fact that even amongst the Baha’i community, one that is the utmost authority on unity and healthy community building, over 50% of marriages are failing, This is by no means because the Baha’i system doesn’t work, it is working to unite vastly different cultures in over 200 countries, but it is not immune to the deeply rooted problems in our society that eat away like a cancer at our communities, families, relationships, our lives, our human progress. Their source is al the things our culture prides itself on most: individualism, materialism, self glorification, apathy, and mediocrity. These poisons are alone enough to destroy any marriage and relationship never mind hope for a healthy society that is progressing forward. That is not to say progress is not being made, it is just being greatly hindered.

There is a major and essential component of our education missing that is required to heal this cancer, that is the ability to have healthy and effective relationships with other human beings. Simple right? Absolutely essential for our lives, correct? And yet, where did you have a chance to learn this properly? Did your parents teach you this essential skill? Were they successful in exemplifying this? It should have been taught in middle school, but did you even have a chance to learn it in university? We are not taught the most essential skills required for a healthy and effective life. The only place my ex and I probably ever had a chance to learn this was in a Baha’i study that was a few paragraphs long, the topic of effective consultation that is free of ego. A longer course on the topic is coming, but this is not a task for the Baha’i community alone, it is something that should be taught as early and as often as possible. ‘Effective Relationships’ is an essential skill every human needs to be a master at to have a healthy life and be a community building member of society! But most of us never have a chance to learn this.

I could go on, but a similar disturbing example of our delusions about education in essential skills is the fact that we think that as human beings, because we have the ability to procreate, that we know how to parent a child. Parenting is not something we innately know how to do effectively it is something we need to learn through research and insight from those parents who have raised children that are well balanced, successful, helpful members of society.

These two points about being educated to relate well with others are interlinked, how can we effectively raise children if we cannot relate to each other and pursue healthy relationships? We cannot be naive and think that because we live on a planet with millions of other humans we are innately great at having healthy relationships with each other! We’ve well proven that not to be true. Without these dark forces influencing every aspect of our lives, and a spiritual education at a young age, maybe, but right now that is not the case for most of us.
Without a daily spiritual practice that reminds us that we are created by something greater, spirits in a material world, a world designed to help us grow and develop, our egos WILL take control of our lives, which means we will NOT be in control any longer. Human society cannot progress in this animal state. As long as our egos are in control, there is no hope for happy marriage, well raised children, and healthy society! When our ego is in control, it’s hard to learn or even accept we need to educate ourselves or improve.

Abdu’l-Baha said…“we must be willing to clear away all that we have previously learned, all that would clog our steps on the way to truth…The principal reason for the decline and fall of peoples is ignorance. Today the mass of the people are uninformed even as to ordinary affairs, how much less do they grasp the core of the important problems and complex needs of the time”

Now don’t get me wrong, hope is not lost. My life itself has been rejuvenated, I have a wonderful Chinese wife and we have started a new family together. Every day in the world, there are undeniable signs of human progress and advancement the likes of which we have not seen in a thousand years.

The Baha’i Universal House of Justice said:

“Yet there is reassurance in the knowledge that, amidst the disintegration, a new kind of collective life is taking shape which gives practical expression to all that is heavenly in human beings. Have hope. It will not always be so.”

Maybe your reading this and thinking, “What’s he going on about? My life is pretty good and everything is great!” Well I’m not talking about how to keep things going the way they are, this is about advancing civilization, probably a few hundred years process in my opinion.
I could go on, but I think I’ve said more than enough to get the thoughts that have burdened my mind for years out in the open to hopefully benefit someone like myself.
So in conclusion, If your reading this and have children and don’t want them to end up in unhappy, broken, divorce affected lives, you have an obligation to educate them to relate effectively with others of all races, classes and personalities. This may mean transforming yourself as a parent first. This starts but should not end with virtues:

“Give them (the children) the advantage of every useful kind of knowledge. Let them share in every new and rare and wondrous craft and art. Bring them up to work and strive, and accustom them to hardship. Teach them to dedicate their lives to matters of great import, and inspire them to undertake studies that will benefit mankind.” – Abdu’l-Baha

(accustoming children to hardship is so key, my spoiled western upbringing has given me unrealistic expectations that are way too high, a problem most pre 2000 Chinese don’t have)

This is one of the most important principles of the Baha’i faith that attracted me: The principle of universal and compulsory education.
Bahá’u’lláh compared the world of humanity to the human body. Within this organism, millions of cells, diverse in form and function, play their part in maintaining a healthy system. Similarly, harmonious relationships among individuals, communities, and institutions serve to sustain society and allow for the advancement of civilization.

As long as 2 people are willing, There are more and more resources out there to help us reduce the number of relationship casualties. I assisted Baha’i artist Elika Mahony who has been married over 20 years  put together a page dedicated to relationships and marriage here.
http://www.elikamahony.com/home/love-marriage/
John Gottman has also done amazing research to help people with all types of relationships
https://www.gottman.com/about/the-gottman-method/
He says, to make a relationship last, we need to learn how to manage conflict and ‘keep it calm’, generate greater understanding. Baha’is are often too idealistic, thinking they can accomplish today what may take many years to master in eliminating conflict’. Sometimes we need the practical, scientific approach of research to make realistic progress.

I only wish I new as a child or even 20 years ago what I know now. Everyone should have that chance before they embark on their life journey!

Caring for others can increase life expectancy & decrease stress

Monday, September 9th, 2013

I haven’t been blogging much lately, not for lack to write about, but too much.
I’ve had so many massive changes in my life, some giving me the worst pain and stress I’ve ever experienced.
Guess that’s what happens when you give up a comfortable, western life to serve others and accomplish your dreams…
Naturally I was interested in a Ted.com video called “How to make stress your friend”.
I was expecting some helpful tips, but the research revealed in this video is incredible.

Did you know there’s a neuro-hormone, oxytocin, with its own cute nickname, the cuddle hormone, because it’s released when you hug someone. Oxytocin makes you crave physical contact with your friends and family. It enhances your empathy. It even makes you more willing to help and support the people you care about. When oxytocin is released in the stress response, it is motivating you to seek support. Your biological stress response is nudging you to tell someone how you feel instead of bottling it up. Your stress response wants to make sure you notice when someone else in your life is struggling so that you can support each other. When life is difficult, your stress response wants you to be surrounded by people who care about you. All of these physical benefits of oxytocin are enhanced by social contact and social support, so when you reach out to others under stress, either to seek support or to help someone else, you release more of this hormone, your stress response becomes healthier, and you actually recover faster from stress. I find this amazing, that your stress response has a built-in mechanism for stress resilience, and that mechanism is human connection. Human connection reduces stress.

And that’s not all.  Every major stressful life experience increases the risk of dying by 30 percent. BUT, People who spent time caring for others showed absolutely no stress-related increase in dying. Zero. Caring created resilience. When you choose to connect with others under stress, you can create resilience. Now I wouldn’t necessarily ask for more stressful experiences in my life, but this science has given me a whole new appreciation for stress!

Science has proven doing things for other people is the most effective way to be happy. And now, they’ve proven caring for others increases life expectancy by decreasing stress! Watch for yourself here:

Ted.com:Kelly McGonigal: How to make stress your friend

More and more, research and developments worldwide are showing the futility of the individualistic, selfish lifestyle common in collapsing western countries.
One of the key principles of my belief which I believe comes from God is service to others and humanity. Another is the harmony of science and religion. It’s so confirming to see these things come together, and common sense and spiritual ideals prevailing…

 

Quality of Life

Wednesday, January 4th, 2012

“Everything you have in life can be taken from you except one thing: your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation.
THIS is what determines the quality of the life we’ve lived, not whether we’ve been rich or poor, famous or unknown, healthy or suffering,
what determines our quality of life is how we relate to these realities, what kind of meaning we assign them, what kind of attitude we cling to about them, what state of mind we allow them to trigger.”

– Viktor E. Frankl, Holocaust survivor

It’s never too late to reflect on our experiences and rebuild the negative neural pathways in our brain!

 

A new way to get what you want in life

Sunday, October 30th, 2011

I’ve been studying a lot about how to get more of what I want out of life over the last few years, mainly because I really haven’t been getting that despite every effort. One person that has started me on that path is an amazing person and artist, life coach Laura Harley.

But as I studied all the Ekhart Tolle’s and ‘The Secret’ and such famous resources to get back to the important things in life, I still felt something was missing, because these things didn’t seem to work even when followed completely. I met many others who said the same thing, so I knew it wasn’t just me…
I’ve been getting fantastic results from a specific expert in guided meditations recently, Kelly Howell, and I found the answer I had been looking for in one of her Theatre of the mind podcasts called “energy from within”.
Without getting into a lot of detail, The podcast featured a guest speaker who had read pretty much all the help books that exist, and came to a revelation which I will reveal in point form:
– your energy level determines your happiness, success & effectiveness in the thoughts you manifest & wether those thoughts become the things you desire. This is not physical energy, but something more mental or even spiritual.
– its not enough to just think positive thoughts & practise the secret famed ‘law of attraction’, you need to have the positive energy to make it happen
– certain things drain this energy & other things replenish it. This is different for everyone. This is called ‘energy metabolism’
– gratitude lists, positive thinking, books, and most other self help techniques cant work when your energy tank is low, if things are going wrong in your life despite your every effort, you need to replenish it and you will see things will start to happen
– inspired, effective spirit focused meditation is one powerful way to alter your energy metabolism, just like your food metabolism
– replenishing your energy is as simple as reducing the things that suck your energy (certain people, activities) and doing more things that you love that give you energy back (hopefully, your work, music, nature, good friends, and other activities)
– in future, good doctors will measure this & tell you how low you are, and help you raise it through specific activities suited to your needs
(for now, you’ll have to go to a life coach like Laura Harley)

Here’s how to start:

  • Step 1: start realizing who and what gives you energy & what drains it.
  • Step 2: eliminate all unnecessary energy drains (unfortunately some are unavoidable). Replace with those that replenish them
  • Step 3: start your day with 3 easy simple things that make you feel good and do them.

Make no mistake, this information is huge! It works, and if you use it, it WILL transform your life!

So now whenever life takes a nosedive, I quickly turn to some of those things that build up my energy again, and I find I’m able to survive some of the most extreme situations, and come out not only functional, but successful.
I’m still working on it and trying to get there to this place I aspire to despite many challenges, but at least now I have ALL the tools needed to do it!

What kind of things would bring you the energy you need to get where you want to go?


Education – why it’s failed, where the future is, and why there’s ADHD

Monday, July 4th, 2011

Adapted from a talk given at the RSA by Sir Ken Robinson, world-renowned education and creativity expert.
Brilliant! A must see by all:

 

The Ongoing Vaccination Debate: A Good Thing

Sunday, November 8th, 2009

The ongoing debate about whether or not to go along with the push to vaccinate has got me thinking, maybe people are actually waking from their comfortable slumber. It’s a very heated and complex issue, so I hesitate to blog about it but felt compelled.

For ages we humans have been used to getting our information from others. Long ago it was the kings and bishops, now priests, ministers, politicians and doctors. We listened obediently without questioning to those who knew better than we did. In the past this was understandable, most were illiterate for the most part and required scribes, holy men, and sages to enlighten us.

Today, although these practices have our instincts in a highly weakened state, people are literate and highly capable of figuring out things through their own research. They are finally starting to embody Baha’u’llah‘s recent teachings encouraging the ‘independent investigation of truth‘, emphasizing the fundamental obligation of human beings to acquire knowledge with their “own eyes and not through the eyes of others.”

A great example of this is this debate about vaccinations. Over 40% of people now refuse vaccinations despite great pressure to do so. It sparked my interest when one of my favorite magazines, Wired magazine published a very opinionated front cover stance encouraging vaccination ‘in the name of science’ Which I found very disappointing.
Doctors insist you get them, but then traditional medical doctors have to because they work hand in hand with drug companies to band aid symptoms, rather than studying diet, allergies, and nutrition, and trying to deal with the root of the problem. (My apologies for my bias here with medical doctors, but if my mother had listened to doctors when I was a baby, I would be very ill right now if not dead, being the survivor of 5 miscarriages who’s health problems got worse in the hands of MD’s)

The Wired article tries to show the kingpin of vaccinations, Paul Offit in a positive light, without really giving any solid fact or reasons doctors and governments should be insisting we get vaccinated. It’s written by someone without any credibility in the field.

Another article in the Huffington Post shows Paul Offit in a very different light and gives the opposing perspective. What is telling about both articles are the 500+ comments on them. People are getting tired of being told to do something potentially damaging without a good reason, so they are doing their own research. And the medical profession doesn’t like it because it means they’re losing control over doing things the way they want to and have been for centuries. It’s the same issue that is overturning the music industry. The People are winning the battle, and it is a very good thing.

The interesting thing is how the comments shed far more light on the truth behind the vaccine debate than the articles ever can. Did you know that the last time many of the diseases babies are vaccinated for were a concern was in the 1920’s?

When those who should be caring for us insist we subject ourselves to potentially damaging substances that have now been shown to potentially do more harm than good, how can we trust what they tell us to do any longer?
When the best interests of humanity have been left in the hands of those who primarily aim to profit from it, we need to build up our instincts again and rely more on independent investigation of truth to see through the veils that have been quietly and subtly placed all around us. Not that we shouldn’t listen to professionals, just do your research as well before making decisions.

I personally feel the lack of solid research makes it hard to make a confident decision. But I’m hesitant to get injected or inject my future children with poisons that could cause serious health problems to possibly fight some diseases that were primarily an issue in the 1920’s and represent little threat today, but that is just my own opinion, and I’ve learned enough about health to feel confident in healing anything.
Read the articles and all the comments and links therein, and see what you feel to be the right decision for you.

The End Of Control: Waking Up From Life’s Illusions

Wednesday, November 4th, 2009

For most of my life, like most people, I’ve gone to great lengths to control my things and make sure everything turned out the way I wanted.

Things never really turned out the way I wanted though at all, and I realized that my desire for control over life was exactly why I wasn’t receiving all the benefits I deserved!

I decided to start doing something totally different: Let a higher power have control, recognize and trust my instincts, and just accept things that come into my path. And amazing things started to happen! Amazing people and opportunities I never could have imagined started coming into my life, and they still are. My life is taking a very different path, and I’m heading towards fantastic things and a new balance and happiness that never would have been possible without relinquishing control, and waking up from the illusion of needing to be in control of everything in my life.

So you want to try it? I read a great blog post that will help you with this if you feel your ready to make some big changes in your life to have the amazing things that elude most people.

Zen Habits: “How to Give Yourself to Whatever the Moment Brings, and Forget Stress”

Here’s another great post about changing your life:
Derek Sivers: “Doing The Opposite Of Everyone Is Valuable”

A new life is stirring within all the peoples of the earth

Sunday, July 19th, 2009

A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth; and yet none hath discovered its cause or perceived its motive. Consider the peoples of the West. Witness how, in their pursuit of that which is vain and trivial, they have sacrificed, and are still sacrificing, countless lives for the sake of its establishment and promotion. The peoples of Persia, on the other hand, though the repository of a perspicuous and luminous Revelation, the glory of whose loftiness and renown hath encompassed the whole earth, are dispirited and sunk in deep lethargy.

O friends! Be not careless of the virtues with which ye have been endowed, neither be neglectful of your high destiny. Suffer not your labors to be wasted through the vain imaginations which certain hearts have devised. Ye are the stars of the heaven of understanding, the breeze that stirreth at the break of day, the soft-flowing waters upon which must depend the very life of all men, the letters inscribed upon His sacred scroll. With the utmost unity, and in a spirit of perfect fellowship, exert yourselves, that ye may be enabled to achieve that which beseemeth this Day of God. Verily I say, strife and dissension, and whatsoever the mind of man abhorreth are entirely unworthy of his station.

– Gleanings From the Writings of Bahá’u’lláh, Pages 195-197

Great quote regarding evolution of humanity

Tuesday, May 19th, 2009

“If long cherished ideals and time honoured institutions, if certain social assumptions and religious formulae have ceased to promote the welfare of the generality of mankind, if they no longer minister to the needs of a continually evolving humanity, let them be swept away and relegated to the limbo of obsolecent and forgotten doctrines.”

– from www.bahai.org

I’m a failure.

Wednesday, April 15th, 2009

I fail quite a lot. More often, I suspect, than you do. If there’s anything I could be said to excel at, it’s failure. And I’ve been doing it for over 18 years.

Now, I don’t say that in a self-deprecating way. it’s a positive thing. A lot of uninformed people look at what I do and think I’m quite a success, maybe because mostly I like to draw people’s attention to the successes, but to many at the top of my field, I would be considered washed up, a has been.

But I’m realizing that I’d rather be considered a failure and interesting, than a dull workhorse bashing away at the same unsuccessful goal because of some misplaced sense of duty. Or a sell out doing things just to make money at the expense of principles or taste.
I’m realizing when I’ve given it lots of time, and things aren’t working out, sometimes it’s better to move on, maybe even to another place where your skills can be better utilized…

Trying and failing is a far more productive strategy than not trying something in case it doesn’t work. In fact, if you want to good at something, and be successful – fail early and fail often.
But don’t be afraid to go and make as many of your own mistakes as you can. It’s really the only way to succeed.

I have to give credit for this post to dear Andrew Dubber who is a far far better writer than I am and knew how to say what I was feeling in his post ‘Fail Early, Fail Often’, and allowed me to share it here for you.