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The Higher Death

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OM
It is mind; it is empty.
It is mind; it is empty.
It is all mind; it is all empty.
All this false being is intrinsically devoid of essence.

There is no “is.”
There is no “is not.”
Every phenomenal thing is trapped between being and non-being for eternity;
It is this neutral ground which holds the key-spark.

From this fundamental truth we can see our own true nature,
As well as that of all sentient beings.
All are the same.
All are naught.

Out of this void rises wisdom and compassion.
With these two-fold wings every being may know the highest peace.
They may transcend pain, and even non-pain.
They may transcend transcendence itself.

But transcending transcendence means nothing to an ordinary sentient being.
Beyond “beyond” is unfathomable.
One’s mind must know its own depths as unfathomable,
And through this see truth.

All that we see is mind, and yet we abide in ignorance.
All that we know is mind, and yet we abide in ignorance.
All that we experience is mind, and yet we abide in cyclic pain and despair and woe.
We ignore this pervasive void of essence, and so cannot see beyond the promise of bliss.

I too, am lost.
All beings are lost, until they taste of the well-spring of infinity.
This may only be found through the path of loss and renunciation.
But who can know that this renunciation is beyond mere possessions or perceptions?

To lose our very being, our souls;
To negate all pain with bliss, and all bliss with equanimity;
To let go of our very instincts of self-perservation, connection, reproduction, sustenance, and being;
To embrace demise and void as though a loving long-lost friend–this is the highest practice.

Find yourself in your Death.
Find Death that transcends the duality of mortal existence.
Seek the ultimate Death who resides at the core of life itself.
She is your lover and guide to a world beyond conception.

But It is still mind, It is still empty.
Yes, It is still mind, It is still empty.
Even here, It is all mind; even now It is all empty.
All this true being is even still devoid of essence.
SWAHA

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The Tragedy of Dying Languages

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One global issue of great concern to me is the alarming rate of language death happening in the world today. It’s estimated that half of the world’s 6000 living languages will be extinct in the next 50 years, many with little to no record of their vocabularies, grammar, or potential for expression. I deeply love and am fascinated by language as it forms the vital medium for clear and direct communication at all levels. Without it there is no science, no politics, no philosophy or religion, virtually no art, and no substantial form of education. Every natural language carries with it some thousands of years of cultural history with it, shaping it as a unique lens to frame life and new experiences. Each of these lenses gives us a new view, a new angle to approach problems of the world or to be more creative. These languages are the backbone of unique indigenous culture, and indeed, one cannot separate language from culture itself. The death of a language is the effective death of a culture and the reduction of human diversity. This being at such a time where humanity is more capable of learning from one another than ever before is one of the greatest unspoken tragedies of modern man.

Coming from a multicultural background and having a diverse group of friends at a young age brought me to early consideration of the differences between cultures, and this only grew as I learned about religions and world history in high school. Having now traveled the world a bit and spent a great deal of time studying languages, I have learned just to how great an extent psychology and philosophy can be shaped by language. Language has long been considered the cornerstone of humankind and it has the potential to elevate us to unimaginable heights in the arts, sciences, and philosophy. Such an incredible tool is remarkable in its own regard but with a huge array of different such tools at our disposal, and for the sake of the over-all well-being of humanity such diversity must be maintained and promoted to make the world that much richer and more beautiful.

What’s My Real Motivation?

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I feel like i’m a pretty damned good writer, researcher, and thinker, for the most part. All of the impact i hope to make in the world will be through these mediums, other than music and language learning, which i’m pretty good with as well.

So why do i feel so stagnated? I’m traveling the world, i’ve got a decent formal education and a more than decent informal one, i have a pretty solid resume, and philosophically i haven’t felt lost in ages. So right now i should be embracing everything i hope to do in life: Writing essays, music, and studying languages (right now, Arabic) like nobody’s business. Instead, i’m just sitting here, wasting my time. Yes, i’m just getting over a bad illness. And yes, i’m in a rather restrictive country void of vegetation and any readily observable culture beyond the Qur’an (there’s plenty of culture if you go digging in the right places, but it’s harder to find when you’re here than say, China). But these aren’t viable excuses. Where’s my motivation?

Up to this point in my life i have little to show the world of my personal success. If i died, there would be some anecdotal stories of my impacting a few lives, but in terms of creative work, not much. Again, mere anecdotes. But impacting even a single life and having solid proof of it is a beautiful thing, and creating positively and with integrity should be cherished. I should be happy with this? Why am i not content with it?

What do i want? And Why?

I want knowledge and experience so that i can create art, ideas, concepts, books, and so on in order to make a huge difference in the world, because this has always been my obsession. At first it was almost pure ego when i was very young. At the age of 6 as one of our first assignments in 1st grade we had to write what we wanted to do when we grew up. Firefighter? Policeman? Doctor? Scientist? Nope. I wanted to be the ruler of the world. Then as i aged i convinced myself and others that it was about humanity. The desire for world domination became one of benevolence and then faded by the end of middle school. Taking its place was the very modest goal of “rockstar.” Until the age of 15, when i decided i also wanted to be a monk and become enlightened. The desire for monasticism remained in the back of my mind until around 20 or so, and may well come back one day. Obviously enlightenment grew to my chief aim. I realized that conquering the world was nothing compared to conquering the self. Even omnipotence with an untamed mind would be nothing.

But clearly this idea of grandeur and this goal of “greatness” has been ever-present throughout my life. I ask myself: Why? I have convinced myself and others that the motivation is one of compassion for humanity, but i don’t know how much is in fact my ego. A man with an ego that fears death and realizes that true immortality lies only in effective action which is memorable to the world. So the question shouldn’t be “where’s my motivation,” but rather: “what is my motivation?”.

At literally every stage of my life this has been a core motivation along with finding romantic love — which may, no doubt, stem from the very same fear given that procreation is the other assumed route to immortality. I have finally reached a freedom from the desire for love for now — i know i’m not yet the man i want to be for the woman i hope to have. So i think i must approach the world just the same. I’m not ready to create great things or leave indelible marks upon the world. I’m not ready to impact thousands or millions of lives for the better. I’m not yet such a man. So i can only focus on improving myself until such time as i am such a man. Death with integrity is indeed more valuable than an “immortal death” where one’s legacy outlives him.

And speaking of death, recently more urgently pressing on me has been the fear for my own well-being in the soon-to-be future. When i return to the States i will have no money, no guaranteed job anywhere, a bunch of uncertain plans for what to do next, a car that’s out of commission, no credit, and thus no particular means to do anything. But with about all of these things there is little i can do right now, and it’s impacting my vacation and my studies.

So first things first: I need to lose all my fear. All of it. Fear for my well-being in any sense. I will be just fine and i have to know it.

Second, i need to work on developing myself in all the areas that i care about: Body, Mind, Soul (or spiritual mind, rather, since like all Buddhists i don’t believe in the existence of a metaphysical soul outside of consciousness), Languages, Music, and Writing.
Body — i need to work out; my body is very weak, as its been complaining all year.
Mind (Task Positive Network) — study of all the subject areas which interest me as well as particular focus on these three areas of life goals:
Languages — Arabic for now, and beginning next month also Tagalog
Music — Writing and recording songs, but only as i feel i need to
Writing — every day if i can, but for my own development only
Spiritual mind (Default Mode Network) — Meditation, reading religious texts, and improvisation on guitar for mere enjoyment

Third, i need to just travel around, talk to people without fear, enjoy myself, and not concern myself too heavily with “failure” as if i could somehow “fail” at traveling. Without fear that i will die as soon as i return home, this will be much easier.

All in all, if i carry these out long enough i should purify my motivation, until it is transformed into pure bodhicitta.

-J. Ibrahim Abuhamada