What is this blog about?

There is no such thing as an expert on the topic of Life. We all have had our battles, our suffering, and our questions. Despite the uniqueness of our personal obstacles, we have endured them. We have endured them well enough to advise those behind us as to how to do the same. I have done the research on your behalf regarding the multitude of reasons why wisdom exists. My mission is to utilize the voices of the world's greatest thinkers and heroes to compose a guideline of life's wisdom so that you don't have to experience those trials alone.

If you have any questions, please tweet them to me @JoeSielski or email me at JJSielskiJr@comcast.net

(Please title your email with the word "Wisdom" so I know it will be for this blog.)

I will do my best to try and answer every question as quickly and efficiently as possible. Thanks.

Friday, February 28, 2014

The Original Sin

This is an essay I've been pondering for many, many, many months.   I've been reluctant to type it due to the nature of its complexity.  In the Christian faith, specifically in the Catholic belief, the Original Sin is the term given to the fall of man.  This is representative in the story of Adam and Eve, where they committed the first documented sin.   But first, let me briefly reiterate this story.  

(To expedite time for myself, I copied this from a children's NIV telling of the tale)

It is written that in the beginning, there was the world and all of Creation: the sun, the oceans, fish, plants animals, etc.   God made all these things and called them good. God took some clay from the ground and made the shape of a man.  Then He breathed gently into the shape.  The man's eye's opened and he began to live.  God called him Adam.  The Lord made a beautiful garden for him to live in.  The garden, called Eden, was full of many wonderful things.  Beautiful flowers grew everywhere.  Birds sang in the trees, streams flowed through the valley and animals roamed across the fields.  God had made the man in His image to keep Him company and look after the world.  God brought all the animals to Adam one at a time to be given their names.  "Elephant", he would say, or "Tiger", or "Porcupine".  But God felt sorry for Adam.  "None of these animals is really like him," thought God, "he needs someone to share his life.  Someone who cares for him and who he can care for."  That night, God took a rib from Adam's side and made a woman.

When Adam awoke the following morning, he found a wife, Eve, lying asleep beside him.  Adam was so happy.  He took her hand and she woke up.  She looked up at him and smiled.  God told the man and woman that it was their job to take care of their new home.  God blessed them, saying, "All this is for you.  Help yourself to anything you like.  But never touch the tree in the middle of the Garden.  That tree gives knowledge of good and evil.  The day you eat its fruit, you will die."   God did not mean that Adam and Eve would drop down dead the moment they ate the fruit from the tree.  He meant that in time they would die with out His Spirit dwelling in them.

One day, Adam and Eve were gathering berries for dinner when she heard a silky voice behind her.  "Has God told you that you can eat the fruit from all the trees?" the voice asked softly.  Eve turned around to see a snake talking to her.   "God has told us we can eat all the fruit except for what grows on The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil," Eve told the serpent.   "Oh come now, that's silly!  I hardly think such a lovely fruit would do you any harm," the serpent lied. "God knows that if you eat from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil you'll become just like God, and will be able to decide for yourself what is right and what is wrong."  The woman looked at the fruit and thought how tasty it looked. She thought how wonderful it would be to be as wise and powerful as God.  She believed the serpent's lie and ate the fruit and also gave some to Adam, who was with her, and he took a bite as well.  She felt a strange feeling in the pit of her stomach.  She fidgeted and wondered what was wrong with her.  Suddenly she realized that she was feeling guilty -- she had disobeyed God and knew she'd done something wrong.

As soon as they ate the fruit a change came over Adam and Eve.  They became unhappy and fearful of God. Adam and Eve heard God calling them.  Without thinking, they hid into the bushes, but God knew where they were.  When God asked them if they had eaten from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil that He had told them not to touch, they blamed each other for their sins.  God was sad that Adam and Eve had disobeyed them.  He told them that they had to leave the Garden of Eden, "From now on you'll have to scratch a living from the soil.  You'll need to make clothes and grow food.  Nothing will come easily -- not even childbirth.  And one day, you will die."

Ok... so that's the story if anyone was not familiar.    Let's go back to the topic:  Original Sin.

My version of this story is not about Adam or Eve.  It's not about the Snake.   I'm here to focus on the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.  Of all the trees in the Garden, there was one; one tree that was forbidden to them.  The tree is described to Adam and Eve as one with the ability to grant them the knowledge of both good and evil.  I don't know about you, but that sounds pretty damn tempting to me!   Anyway, so God has informed them that the Garden is there for them to eat of its abundance.  They had the luxury of choosing hundreds, if not thousands of trees from which to choose, and yet they allowed for the serpent to convince them to eat from that one.  Yes, the temptation is compelling, but what made it so appealing?

If we look at this story as symbolic, it allows us to also bend the rules a bit to interpret it in our favor.  What does that mean?   The point I'm here to propose is that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil is not an actual tree.   Everything else in this story can be real and the story can still make sense.  The garden, the other trees, Adam, Eve and the Serpent can all be real.  But that one tree is imagined.  It is an illusion.   That tree, specifically it's potential for knowledge, is the illusion.  Now, how is it possible to have an imaginary tree?  What happens when you have imaginary fruit among an orchard of real fruit?  Where does that tree exist?   Like all illusions, it exists in the mind.  

What I'm saying is that there is a facet of the mind that constructs illusions and falls victim to lists of temptations.   Fortunately, we've already given it a name.   This is the human ego.   The ego has the ability to convince us that we know the difference between good and evil.   The ego has a strong weakness around temptation, because it convinces us that we can gain power and acclaim.   Now back in the garden, the Devil and Eve are having a conversation where he tells her how delicious the forbidden fruit is.   Naturally, she believes him because her ego spins those lies also.  Subsequently, she takes the fruit.  She falls victim to her own arrogance after her ego also fell victim to the World's temptations.  It was equally as easy for Adam to be led astray as well.

The story of Adam and Eve exists to illustrate that God has provided an abundance for us.  Unfortunately, we will still choose to ignore all of it because we have this special Tree within us, tempting us that its fruit is better.   God even warned us, by warning Adam and Eve that this exists.  And yet they were still convinced they knew the difference between good and evil despite His warning, as do we.  That is simply the nature of the ego.

It's human nature to sin because it's also human nature to have an ego.  The sin is not the ego itself, it's the willingness to become distracted by its tempting fruit.  The Original Sin is the decision to ignore God.  The Original Sin is pride. 

(and... for the most part, the remainder of the Bible exists to describe way of avoiding that Original Sin.)

Thank you for your time, 

Friday, February 7, 2014

Happy Tears

This essay is one I worked on and sobbed over and just could not fit it into the book.... but it meant too much to me to discard it.   So I'll present it to you here instead.   Enjoy.

Happy Tears

        When we experience genuine acts of Love, we might cry.  Some call it a happy cry.  This act of crying is special.  It is a liberating release and a partial expression of grief.  Yes, grief. 

        During most of our time, the ego finds much solace in the protection of its vulnerability.  This habit is one so commonplace that we hardly notice it happening at all.  Sometimes, we feel as though there is no other possibility other than to live while fully guarded.  This defensive tactic traps us and keeps us caged in our own fear.  In its greatest act of self-preservation, the ego relies on these barriers to defend itself from becoming permanently vulnerable and therefore extinct.  As a result, we allow ourselves to become angry, aggressive, or arrogant so to shield ourselves from facing our own insecurities.  These are the times when we are unaware that we are always surrounded by Love.  Consequently, we live in fear, reluctant to exhibit kindness.   Because kindness can cause the exposure of our vulnerability, this causes a great conflict for the ego.  There will be times when we will witness kindness.  There are other times when we will perform kindness.  Inevitably, we must face that all-encompassing comprehension of Love.  For a moment, maybe even a brief moment, when we find ourselves in the midst of Love, that once-guarded veil of fear will be lifted, rendering us vulnerable.  In that moment of vulnerability, the ego discovers that its armor has been penetrated.  Then your Core entity acknowledges that, for a moment, it has been accessed.  In an instant, like a flash of lightning, your Core entity blooms!  It has experienced Love!  It embraces that moment and rejoices in Love.  It manifests feelings of happiness and gratitude and affirms the existence of Love as it readies us to perform kindness.  

        As we celebrate the beauty of Love, our ego will grieve over the understanding that it is no longer guarded.  The spirit of joy causes the ego to grieve for its lost emotional fortress.  This goes unnoticed because it happens farther back in the mind than what we are often consciously thinking.  Generally, it won't ever feel like grief because we are far more focused on those feelings of love and kindness instead.   Despite the attempt to defend ourselves through anger and arrogance, Love has that special talent to pierce through those walls and barriers.  Love is pervasive.  Love directly accesses the Core in ways that nothing else can.  The power of Love liberates the Core spirit as it triumphs over the human ego.  We are set free; free to laugh, free to dance, free to celebrate.  Yet our ego, with its affinity for attachment, cherishes its prized armor of fear instead, handicapping our potential to love.  Therefore, with one final strike, Love will sacrifice the ego.  As a result, we cry happy love-filled tears.  Once we are made aware of Love again, we are reminded that we had allowed ourselves to forget to love due to the world's distractions even if just for a moment.  

"May God break my heart so completely that the whole world falls in."  [Mother Teresa]

Joe Sielski
(January 28, 2014)