WHAT IS THIS?

Call it what you may but a thousand rose buds would be lost on you if refuse to slow down and breathe in the aroma that awaits you in the aggregate that follows. Such text can be read in seconds, a fleeting puddle in desert heat, but as a poem an eternity of beautiful forevers. For the love of goodness rest at each line for as long as it takes to feel the imagery alter your inner atmosphere, then merge into the next line (layer) as though it will be your last, let each notion of thought ease together into one coherent whole.

Seated here for some time
Without thought
Neither planning or remembering
Then an urge comes forth
A desire to ask a vital question
What is this?
You know… this?
This what?
This … here?
To discover, uncover but a million to one
To acquire everything under the sun
But once we cut through this … the clouds?
Ah, there it is
The mind arrives
In stillness
A vigil of sorts
Silent as night in the middle of nowhere
Alone in the alone
What bliss … such is this.

By Jason Youngman
Winter of 2019

 

 

 

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Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 8 Comments

Dialectics – Finding Peace b/w the Extremes

In hindsight it is easy to locate the absurdities that were once acceptable & common practice, so how might we pinpoint what is fallacious in our present age? There is probably no end to the theoretical approaches to dealing with this kind of question, and yet there is one thing that remains constant through all our efforts to better our predicament in life, that being ignorance. Coming to terms with the notion that we know nothing or very little at all can be ever so uncomfortable. For some it is like giving into nihilism, nay, even death itself. Admitting our pretensions to knowledge can be likened unto a great sacrifice, a profound act of humility. On the other hand, the very fact that ignorance is so entrenched in the collective mind makes me wonder about its polar opposite, namely, knowledge. For it is through knowledge that the words in this sentence are put together with logical sequence and coherence, thus ideas are communicated to one another. It is also through our desire to escape from the pit of ignorance that we exert ourselves so as to be free from suffering. Such duality is not something that we must overcome or exterminate, as it is a means by which we can center ourselves, to locate a middle way between the extremes. My objective here is to introduce the concept of dialectics as a means not so much to abolish erroneous thinking but as a way to make light of the resources within our reach and to find some kind of common ground despite the many conflicts intrinsic to our human nature. For the time being let’s define dialectics as: a syntheses of opposites that can lead to a balanced life. So rather than be blinded by intense light or complete darkness, we can better make out objects in our reality when there is a balanced level of shade and light. In a sense this synthesizing principle can be applied to many other aspects of our existence. Let’s begin with a common struggle to demonstrate the power of dialectics: Abject poverty vs being filthy rich. No matter where you reside along this scale you may feel somewhat poor. You may be able to easily recall several reasons for your so-called unfortunate lot. Such thinking in turn can reinforce your condition. Whereas dialectics encourages one to consider the opposite end of the scale, in this case it would be to detect the various ways in which you are wealthy. With a modest examination you may come to realize that you are by far much richer than you think. Dialectics can help us to overcome the sort of ‘black & white’ or ‘all-or-nothing’ thinking that can prevent us from seeing things realistically. We can take steps to help close the gap between the extremes, thus resolve the inner tensions that overwhelm us. There are other ways to apply dialectics so as to attain clarity of mind, especially if used in combination with other psychological methods. All in all it may not dispel ignorance altogether but it can elevate our position so that we might see more options along our path.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

 

Posted in Personal Improvement, Psychology | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Emptiness – The Art of Letting Go

The Buddhist idea of “emptiness” seems to be a useful means to navigate our way through life. To get our head around this concept we may begin by seeing it more as an emptying, as in a letting go, rather than some hidden metaphysical void attainable only to monks living in a monastery. We could also see emptiness as a clearing away of all that is unnecessary; a removing of things that can lead to injury or dead ends. Perhaps emptiness can help us to awaken, to become aware of what is essential for well being. Can you think of anything in particular that you would be more fulfilled without; i.e. what can you empty from your life in order to attain a better quality of existence? Some things are easier to let go of compared to other things. Our attachments or cravings can be every bit a source of suffering than the conditions we have come to dislike or hate. Avoiding the extreme of greed on the one hand, and avoiding the extreme of aversion on the other, is no doubt a balancing act; nevertheless, it may be an indispensable one if we wish to tread a path with care.

Love & light,

JY

“Unborn emptiness has let go of the extremes of being and nonbeing, Thus it is both the center itself
and the central path. Emptiness is the track on which the centered person moves.” —Tsongkhapa

 

 

 

Posted in Personal Improvement, Spirituality | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Death Awaits

Death awaits

With a trident

Holding firm

Hopeless doom

Preying upon flesh

Now & forever

It lingers

In the shadow’s blight

Sinking into absurdity

With every thrust

Enmeshed

Body & soul

Chaotic bliss

Pleading

Sever the snake

Silence its hiss.

By Jason Youngman
March 2019

 

 

 

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , | 7 Comments

Hope is the thing with feathers – By Emily Dickinson

Rather than let the freezing cold keep you hidden away and hibernating, the winter provides an ample of activities to stay active and engaged. Here in Bannerman Park we have close to 100 meters of well kept ice open to the public anytime of the day or evening. Parents love to bring their children here to skate, and couples hand in hand go round & round falling more in love with one another. There’s a canteen that serves hot chocolate with outdoor tables & chairs to rest up. All in all it’s a great place for family fun.

My main intention for visiting the park on this occasion was to record a poem by Emily Dickinson. The background provided just the right amount of flair to compliment my recitation. As for the poem itself, well, it can be shared in just about any context, but especially during a long cold winter. While you watch the video consider all the metaphors used to convey the spirit of hope. Let the words permeate the entirety of your being, giving strength to your bones and warmth to your limbs.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

 

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 4 Comments

Signal Hill, St. John’s, Newfoundland

Welcome to St. John’s, Newfoundland, my home and native land. What are a few things that stand out about this place? In the here and now we can safely say it’s the different kinds of people that bring colour & dynamism to the city.


 

Should you visit our capital you’ll definitely want to explore Signal Hill. As long as there is blood running through my veins and strength in my bones it would be my pleasure to show you around.


 

How about we take a brisk walk up over the hill? The image below shows the direction we must go.


 

This is where our brave soldiers from long ago used to seal up the enemy in a wooden barrel and let him tumble down the hill into the water below. If the barrage of bullets didn’t kill him on his way down, then he would have drowned in the pond. The poor feller didn’t have a chance either way. Now mind you this could be an old wives’ tale. Nevertheless it makes for a good story if ya knows how to spin it the right way. 😉


 

In the top right corner of the following photo is Cabot Tower. There’s no place under heaven that has seen more steamed up windows from lovers kissing in their automobiles. This is the peak of the hill. We’ll take a closer look at the structure shortly.


 

Next we have a handful of kids skating on the ice without a care in the world, and rightly so, it’s really cold up here and the whole pond is nearly one big junk of ice! Mind you I took this photo just the other day, and we are presently experiencing the most extreme temperatures of the winter season!


 

The poor duckling below is lacking the nerve to join the others. He’s waiting to see if anyone will fall through the ice before attempting fate.


 

My goodness we are about half ways up the hill. Let’s take a look back at old St. John’s shall we.


 

Took this image last summer. Imagine trying to get pass these cannons back in the day. Unless you’re camouflaged there’s nothing getting through this military strong hold.


 

Finally! We made it to the top. Here’s Cabot Tower up close. The masonry is impeccable. It is said that the building is named after John Cabot, the great explorer of the new world, which wasn’t really all that new it turns out, seeing that there were people living here long before his grand entry.


 

Speaking of which, how about we take another look of St. John’s from our lofty position.


 

Here we have a Newfoundland dog weighing in at 175 lbs and nearly strong as a bear, a true representation of our Island’s rugged beauty.


 

It’s not a full sweep of the terrain unless we take a good look across the harbour to Fort Amherst.


 

(My final photo was taken during the summer.) Here on the other side of the hill we have North Head. This is the part of the journey where you sit next to me and soak it all up.


 

Thank you for joining me. Hopefully we can do this in person someday! =)

Love & light,

Jason

PS: Some of my images above can be viewed in high resolution. Let me know which ones are most aesthetically pleasing for you.

 

Posted in Beauty, Culture, History | Tagged , , | 25 Comments

Happiness – An Activity of the Soul

Anyone can wish to be happy, just as a person can wish for good health, but unless we exert ourselves in the right way, i.e. apply the appropriate means to achieve and maintain such a state, we are but participating in wishful thinking. Let’s determine what happiness is, and whether its acquisition is worth the effort. Do we possess the ability to achieve it and what method is most suitable for such an end? Can it be maintained and how might we enrich our experience of it?

For all intents and purposes let us define happiness as: a habitual activity conducive to ones good; namely, the exercise of virtue.

Now in order to attain virtue – the mean between excess & defect – we require the light of reason to guide our actions. Sufficient health & wealth are essential. We must also keep our passions and desires in check if we wish to keep our aim steady and our mind free of distractions.

Happiness is not the same thing as being contented or complacent, gratified or excited. Despite popular opinion it is not a feeling per se or about having lots of fun, yet positive emotions such as joy will result from being happy, for the ongoing act of exercising virtue is a rewarding one. We cannot pin point it in the body for it is an activity of the soul. Abject poverty and greed do not bring about a happy life. Neither is it a form of excess or defect, nor is it vile or care free. We cannot simply will happiness into existence, but we can choose the means to attain it and daily work towards its realization. True happiness is not temporary or intermittent. Misfortune can’t destroy it over night, and even if death should steal our breath away, it cannot take away our happiness or rob us of our peace of mind.

Virtues can be divided into different categories but the two main kinds are moral and intellectual. Moral has to do with becoming accustomed to certain activities. It largely has to do with the way we behave, such as being moderate and courageous. Whereas the intellectual virtues aid cognitive or mental processes, they help us to discern the truth and exercise good judgement.

There are a number of things that can enrich our experience of happiness, some of which are: invigorating friendships, an optimistic outlook of the world, education, good government, meaningful goals that engage natural strengths & talents, and a sense of mission that supports the good of the community. We each enter this world with a unique temperament and capacity for intelligence. Depending on the environment in which we are fostered and the fortunes that come our way, our ability to reach for greater goods are both limited and unbounded due to such variables. Yet by and large our life is shaped through the quality of decisions we make on a regular bases. Poor choices lead to poor conditions. Good decisions increase our chances of being happy, thus living the good life.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

 

Posted in Philosophy | Tagged , , | 6 Comments

What Makes Life Worth Living?

To follow is an introspective exercise to help elicit and recognize the particular values we hold dear. Unfortunately, sometimes our values remain unexpressed and vaguely understood. We may intuit them but they are neither clear nor precise. For instance, David claims to value freedom above all else. Does he mean the freedom to murder or sexually exploit others? Exactly what sort of freedom is he talking about? Unless we give definition to our values we are bound for inertia and apathy. Now should David say that by freedom he means the right to pursue happiness, then it becomes possible that he is confusing happiness with freedom. These terms don’t mean the same thing. One can be free but not happy, and vice versa. So after pressing David further, to explain what he means, he says mental freedom. That might narrow it down somewhat but his answer remains too broad. The goal of this exercise is not for me to define your values but to share a video with you that may help open your mind to what truly matters to you. As you listen closely trust in your inner logos (reason) to bring into awareness the values that truly motivate and shape your life. Click play on the video above and write down your answers as you go. Once the presentation is complete you may compare your notes with my list of values below. While you compare feel free to adapt and modify your list so that they better represent your core values. Then order them from the most important to the least. You may share your top 5 values in the comment section. It is my hope to address some of them in a future talk and demonstrate how virtues can act as the means to actualize our values. Click here to access my list of general values but be sure to watch the video first.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

Posted in Meditation, Personal Improvement | Tagged , , | 20 Comments

ON PATIENCE

“Patience is the voluntary and prolonged endurance of arduous
and difficult things for the sake of virtue or profit.” – Cicero

How often have we heard others complaining about not having enough patience? What about yourself? Taking an honest look at the areas of our life where we lack resolve and determination can be likened to facing a nasty demon of sorts, but to slay the dragon we may need the full armour of patience. The objective in my video talk above is to convey the importance and necessity of this virtue; a skill that enables the full reach of our strengths. To compliment this introspective & educational presentation, I’ve included a very challenging yet practical exercise to help strengthen the muscle of patience.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

Posted in advice, Personal Improvement | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

Our Inner Child Awaits

He awoke from a deep sleep not knowing himself.
His past no longer accessible.
Baffled and confused he staggered down the hall way.
Where he happened upon a drawer with a mirror.
His reflection was that of an old man.
The lines in his forehead suggested a life time of worry.
He couldn’t imagine what for.
What else might these aging lines confess?
Anticipation – his face lit up with hope!
Something good was about to happen.
‘Hehehe’, laughter dissolves his clinging.
A little girl grinning looked up at the old man.
Poppy! Why are you looking at yourself?
Oh my heavens! What do we have here asked the man.
Poppy it’s me. Why are you staring at yourself in the mirror?
Not sure my little dove.
Have you forgotten who you are again?
Why, yes, it certainly appears that way.
You are my poppy and I am a princess said the little girl.
A princess! My goodness what a wonderful princess you are!
‘Hehehe’, now you must dance with me?
Yes of course, how might we do that exactly?
You have to lift me up and hold me close.
Got it … oh this is dandy! What’s next?
Now swing me around and sing to me.
Figalo, figalo, round & round we go!
Piccolo, piccolo, beating drums & a banjo!
This is so much fun Poppy! Now it’s your turn to be king.
Very well sweat pea but all I want to do is sing.
Then sing we shall, about everything!

None of us is an island onto our self, for much of our lives are situational. We receive a sense of who we are through our interaction with others and in time come to know our place in it. Often we confuse our positions & roles with the actual ground of our being. That is we forget about the wonder of simply being present to things as they happen. Yet our inner-child awaits us, always eager to participate & play. Eventually the barriers fall away, through crude awakening or sometimes by slow decay. We return to what we are, warmly lit as a shining star.

Click on the image above to hear the poet turn his words into love.

Love & light,

JY

 

 

Posted in Poetry | Tagged , , | 10 Comments