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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

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Illness in the Center of the World

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Okay, with confidence i can say this is the highest temperature i’ve ever had. And no, i’m not talking about the Saudi Arabian climate. My overall shittiness is on par with the thing i had at the beginning of the year where i was projectile vomiting, but at least that didn’t last so long.

A bit over a week before i came to Saudi i had just gotten over strep. Then i stupidly took a week-long live Typhoid vaccine. Then i didn’t sleep on an overnight flight. A flight, by the way, to a place where the weather and bacteria are foreign, harsh, and unforgiving. So i guess i was asking for this. Anyways, it resulted in my first overseas hospital experience. It didn’t seem much like a hospital. Sort of halfway between a doctor’s office and a walk-in clinic. The doctor spoke English but he didn’t want to hear English besides my saying yes or no to his questions. Then i’m given my first ever experience with taking a suppository. And what is it? Paracetamol. Paracetamol is another term for Tylenol. I might as well have just gone to the pharmacy next door and bought myself some more ibuprofen. I’m also given an IV for Paracetamol and a saline drip. And finally, the antibiotic prescription (which was all i’d wanted in the first place). All in all i’d rate the experience at the “medical center” a 3.5 from 1 to 10. At least it was clean and not overflowing with people. And the doctor did speak English… sort of… But not somewhere i’d recommend visiting on a trip through Saudi Arabia.

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“Sure i can give you antibiotics, but first would you kindly please shove this up your ass? kthnx”

So about a day goes by, i take my two daily doses of antibiotics, drink tons of water, and am subjected to a large amount of Arab folk medicine foods and treatments, and i wake up at 7 something after 3 hours of sleep to take my temperature aaaaand… 104. Can’t that give adults brain damage or something? Yes. Yes it can. I will admit this has me a little scared. So i’m given cold rags to put on my forehead and body, i take a dose of antibiotic for the day and 600mg of ibuprofen and… 102.4. Fuck. Well at least my trip should only improve from here…

As the title states i’m right by the center of the world for the 1.2-1.5 billion muslims in the world: Mecca. Which i should be going to visit soon. In addition, i should be going to the other major holy center in Saudi, Medina, where the Mosque of the Prophet Muhammad is, and so is he, so i might as well go say hi (if only the dead could speak… not that my Arabic’s good enough for interesting philosophical conversations yet anyways). I should be going to Ta’if high in the Hijaz mountains, where supposedly there are wild baboons everywhere, and even more rare and interesting here in Saudi: Trees! Live, actual, wild, untamed trees! The joy! But most importantly to me, while i’m in Mecca i will be going to see the Jabal An-Nur — the mountain of light — where Muhammad (SAAWS) first received his revelation from the angel Gabriel. This being the start of my lifelong dream of visiting key spiritual centers around the world.

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It’s worth noting that for me it’s important that when visiting a new culture i adopt more than just the culture and language, but their very manner of thought, right down to religion. I certainly am beyond the capacity for dogmatism, but to temporarily suspend doubt and see the world through new “psychic eyes”, new thought patterns, is one of the most eye-opening, life-changing of experiences. At heart, my core philosophical conviction will always lie with Buddhism, but as a Buddhist, as a person with the unshakable conviction that compassion is the greatest power in the world for happiness and change, i know of nothing which better builds empathy (wisdom, too) than putting aside one’s own beliefs temporarily in order to understand others. So for this month at least, i am muslim, and will always have it lying dormant within me to draw upon when i need to.

La ilaha illa Allah, Muhammad rasulu Allah.

April 8th, 2014; 11am-ish

Becoming Filipino in One Month

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One of the primary ideas driving me in life is the idea of mindhacking.

Mindhacking is the term i like to use for probing the pathways and currents of cognition, learning, perception, awareness, emotions, and so forth, and to find the tricks, methods, and principles which allow for the most effective and efficient navigation, manipulation, and evolution of these aspects of consciousness. Travel is a very effective method for both uncovering the nature of the mind as well as for exploiting new pathways to growth and change within it.

So as this year will be a year of predominantly travel (which you can read more about in my prior post here), it will give me a chance to put my money where my mouth is. I will begin with the Middle East in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait with family, but afterwards I’m on to the Philippines for a month to stay with an old friend in the heart of Manila and to attempt to hack my mind into thinking, speaking, and acting as a native Filipino to the fullest extent one month will allow for.

But of course this trip will require funds; funds which i have few of. Thus i humbly ask the internet and the blogosphere to help in any way you can. I will post about the developments of the travels extensively and will attempt to vlog as well. The insights into language and culture will be paramount, but my observations of my own consciousness throughout the new experiences and experiments will feature prominently as well.

So please check out my Trevolta for the trip and donate! Any amount is appreciated, and $15 or more will get you a copy of my ebook on language learning upon its completion this spring!

2014: Year of Travel, Languages, and Pushing the Limits of Learning

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This year i will be greatly expanding my creative and scholarly works and attempting to push the limits of my mind and being. 2013 proved to be an excellent year for my seeds of productivity to take root. I have grown exponentially into myself, and am ready for that to extend beyond myself and into the world. This year will be a grand experiment of the limits of my will to learn, grow, and create, and it is my intention to document through written word and video alike the developments and progressions as they come.

I will be attempting to every day meditate, exercise, and to once again sleep polyphasically (I’ll be starting with an Everyman cycle with 4.5 hr core nap and two 20-min power naps). In addition to these general lifestyle changes my intended to-do list is pretty extensive.

I hope to:

-Record an album of my own solo-music

-Record an album with my old band Nightwalk

-To finish the final 40+ credits i need for my BA through self-study alone and to take the GRE

-To write an ebook on language learning

-To organize all of my writings over the years in such a way that i can begin to compile books and more developed theses to pursue research of

-To learn how to cook fairly well a wide variety of American and international foods

-To get my Spanish, French, Esperanto, German, and Arabic up to C1-level in the European Framework of Reference for Languages or 4 in the FBI Language Proficiency Scale (in other words, functionally fluent, though not to mastery); To become conversationally capable (B2 in CEFR; 2+ in FBI) in Tibetan, Portuguese, Tagalog, and Ojibwe; And to become at least slightly less so conversational (B1 and 2 respectively) in Quechua, Aymara, Russian, Mandarin Chinese, and Sranantongo.

-Travel to the Middle East (Saudi Arabia and Kuwait) to study the Qur’an, Arabic calligraphy, cooking, music, and culture while visiting with my family;

-Travel to the Philippines to visit an old childhood friend of mine and to learn Tagalog;

-While visiting my family’s cottage in Canada to spend time on the nearby Ojibwe Island reserve and learn about their culture and language extensively;

-To travel with my best friend to his home country of Colombia, and to then travel through the continent of South America through hostels and couchsurfing, paying particular emphasis on spending time with indigenous cultures (especially Quechua and Aymara, with the hope of helping to preserve their culture), and paying our way through busking, internet entrepreneurship, and odds-and-ends jobs for extra cash, food, lodging, and travel.

-To document and record in some detail through video and written word my travels, music, and studies throughout the year, in order to track my progress for myself and to inspire others.

Perhaps a tad ambitious, but i firmly believe in the awesome capacity of the human mind. If i achieve a fraction of these, it will be a most successful year.

If you wish to support these endeavors of mine, please subscribe and check in regularly to learn of my progress. Soon i’ll be posting a trevolta (croud-funding travel site) link for the trip to the Philippines and in May i’ll be posting the trevolta for my South America trip.

Thank you for your support and readership!

-J. Ibrahim Abuhamada