Idealization in the Psyche

A core function of the human mind is dreaming, or imagining events that haven’t actually taken place. This can occur while sleeping, while bored during the day, while exercising, pretty much any time when your attention is free, this is possible for the mind. If you are intensely focused on something, for instance your breath, then the mind cannot create these abstractions or false realities. This is part of the Maya that Buddhists and Hindus believe is the illusion of this world.

I’ve heard a lot about spirituality in the last 3 months; I’ve heard that the Buddhas enlightenment meditation was about 4 hours long, I’ve learned that the mind will ceaselessly process events for seemingly no reason, I’ve learned that Buddhism is absolutely a religion, and I have come to the conclusion that the Western and Eastern spiritual religions are two sides of the same coin; the quest for power.

The Buddha and Jesus Christ are treated very similarly in their respective religions of Buddhism and Christianity. Each is somewhat of a key holder to salvation from the world; the Buddha through enlightenment, and Jesus through heaven. Being educated by Jesuit priests has its advantages; I believe it is a requirement to have a PHD in both Theology and Philosophy. Eight years at Jesuit schools has taught me a lot about how to understand and interpret mythology, which religion can effectively be compartmentalized under.

Proper understanding of any literature requires analysis of three major factors : historical events, cultural rituals, and most importantly language. It is impossible to understand what writers were attempting to say in ancient times without understanding their lifestyle, educational background, and historical circumstances. These three things cross over into each other (ie language is a cultural phenomenon and history consists of many important rituals and customs), so having a decent understanding of all three circumstances is important to understand the meaning of what is being said.

If we look at most modern-day christianity, a lot of this contextual information is forgotten, therefore disregarded which causes us to completely lose the meaning of the original text. You need this contextual information to understand what the author is trying to express.

A lot of people don’t understand the bible but quote it regularly; I hesitate to say most, but I don’t think I would be wrong. It is an ancient book written for ancient times and most of it was passed orally before it was ever written, including all four books about Jesus’ life. Even with all of the available knowledge regarding historical, cultural, and linguistic circumstances, we still have a very small picture into the life of someone like Jesus. So we idealize about the individual person in nearly every way, because we allow our brains to construct “the perfect” human. This is essentially what the ideal of Jesus epitomizes in Christianity, an individual that sacrifices everything for his community, even though he receives no recognition for it.

The buddha is very similar to eastern traditions. A lot of the knowledge passed from the Buddha was also passed down orally; but instead of the 70-100 years gap before Jesus’ teachings were written, the Buddha’s teaching were first written about 400 years after he died. This leaves a rather large margin for misinterpretation in the writings of both holy books. He was also a “perfected” human, though his path was different he achieved enlightenment and unison with the divine.

Most scholars accept that the Buddha lived and founded a monastic order and that he was a younger contemporary of Mahavira (the Jain teacher). But very few are hesitant to say much more than this, because of the convoluted theologically influences historical events. The same is true with Jesus, most scholars accept that he lived, died, and founded an order in the process. But scholars of both traditions believe that the traditional texts are not at all historically reliable.

Both the Buddha and Jesus led tremendous cultural revolutions that were anti-establishment; Jesus against rabbis and Jewish pharisees, and the Buddha against Hindu ascetics and Brahmins that constructed the caste system. Both taught about freedom that can’t be obtained externally and both were very misunderstood then, and now. And both were lost to time, never to be truly understood because of lack of reliable information. This has created a complete idealization of both figures, so much so that individuals consider them to be the gateways to the divine.

Why am I writing about this? To exemplify a constructive process of the mind, called idealization. We do this with people we look up to, idolizing and making up idealistic personalities for them. Modern music, movies, acting, etc creates plenty of this. It is part of how we dream, we look up to the individuals we think of as the most successful, or the highest quality. Then we try to be more like them to improve our functioning within society.

We need to step away from these ideals and understood the people around us as humans, rather than idealizing about your favorite artist, a model whose body is unforgettable when photo shopped. Jesus and the Buddha were both humans. There really isn’t any evidence to show otherwise, so that is my position that I am sticking to, because instead of creating an impossible ideal to strive towards, now you have a concrete human that you can measure your own progress against.

Being anti-establishment is important; it’s what allows the establishment to grow and evolve to better fit the needs of the unfortunate underprivileged. Both leaders were completely anti-establishment, in my opinion. They were leading revolutions. Remember that the next time you go to church, or a temple. Jesus literally taught against established religion. I don’t remember Jesus ever going to church, nor the buddha building a temple where he wanted to meditate. The Buddha was enlightened under a tree! And both were focused on being and existence and you can tell because they didn’t write anything about themselves! They were busy teaching people how to stop thinking about how virtue can make you happy. So focus on being happy now, like these awesome dudes!


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Indian Children Practicing Yoga

Poverty and Destitution

“Health is the greatest gift; contentment is the greatest wealth”

Buddha quoted from the Dhammapada

India is poor. Really fucking poor, there’s no way to explain it other than most people barely have a roof over their heads and food for their bellies. There’s trash everywhere, litter, cows, dogs, birds, little chipmunk rats, and you have to be really careful by the rivers because they are the sewers. I only found one big trash can yesterday.trash can in india

The people don’t seem to care though. They are focused on their own relationships with their friends, and I didn’t see a single person on a phone binge yesterday (you know when you see someone disappear into their phone for about 30 minutes) and everyone was present to what was happening at that very moment. Many are doing fine, many are not. But they don’t seem to care much about any of that, smiles are just about the easiest things to get out of these people, they are so damned happy they don’t give a shit about where they live, or what they are eating. They are together, connected, and the close proximity of everyone seems to bring everyone together.

So I set out yesterday not expecting to really talk to anyone since I don’t speak Hindi and that taxi driver and I could barely communicate. I walked for about thirty minutes before meeting the woman second to the right, who started talking to me in Hindi. She asked where I was from (everyone asks the same things, ‘name’, ‘where you from’) and I talked to her for a bit and shared some nice smiles. Then she invited me into her house for tapas, or tea.

Indian Family for teaHer Daughter on the right spoke French, so I talked to her for a bit, though her level of french wasn’t too high unfortunately. We had a blast not understanding each other though! They were all so nice and they fed me some wraps with curry inside that totally did not make me sick at all, it was delicious! I didn’t drink the water though. I think I just need to stick to cooked food and I will probably be fine for a while. The man on the left was really friendly, but this was when I started to really understand how huge the language barrier is here. This was really one of the kindest things anyone has ever done for me, literally inviting me into their home off the street! This picture doesn’t do them justice either, they were all so happy and constantly smiling just to feed me a little food and some tea. I left after about 30 minutes and big smiles and bows.

I took to the street to meet more of these incredibly present and happy people. You can see it in their faces!

Man w Scooter
man with his scooter

So I kept walking around and met more people.

child, Mysore
child in Mysore
man with his house
man with his house

After a little bit of wandering around, I came to a dusty and loud section of town, with lots of burning trash and nasty shit like that around.man who doesn't like photos I met this man, who didn’t want his picture taken. He told me to take a picture of this woman, who was suffering quite a bit, she had some kind of gum disease, though I am not really sure why. So he took a impoverished woman, Mysorehuge pile of trash and threw it at her feet then told me to take pictures haha. So the guy on the left is laughing because she just started to mess with the trash and it was a pretty funny scene, in spite of the obvious implications of the man’s actions. This woman is not even rare, I saw hundreds more like her while I was walking around, but mostly I saw a lot of happy people.

It’s always amazing to me how impoverished people value things differently than those who have excess. They use each other rather than their possessions for comfort and there just seems to be an enormous amount of camaraderie here, if you can catch my drift. Everyone is with their friends conversing, exploring, or with their family along the same terms. These people are in it together.

This kid is the next one that crossed my path and he was pretty cool. I asked him to smile and this is what happened.

hangry child, Mysore


Kid not smiling

Suffice to say I don’t know if he understood me, but we had a good time taking his picture. I really like walking around with a camera, everyone wants their picture taken!

Here are a few of the more memorable moments and scenes from the day.

Man of the Market
Man of the Market


palace kids, Mysore
kids at the palace in Mysore
cool brick house, Mysore
cool brick house

constructions outside of nice home

government building
government building

So you can see that there is a huge diversity in India between the rich and poor, the photos above have some stark contrasts in them. All of the poorer people were so happy though! It makes me think there really is a relationship between the amount of money you have and how much you enjoy your life. If you waste it all thinking about money, what can you enjoy? What moments will be meaningful besides large purchases and consumption if you spend all of your energy on more, more, and more all of the time?

randos in India
randos in India

alleyway by train station

Maybe we receive less by asking for more? Maybe we need to ask to receive in the first place.

You know that silly chart about women, saying that there is a direct proportion between crazy women and their attractiveness? Maybe there is something similar about rich people and depression. In the end, I think it’s mostly about accepting circumstances and being able to move past them, rather than fighting them and sinking where into the quicksand where you are. If you are happy, why do the circumstances matter so much?

Suffice to say I am very grateful for my experience yesterday and for the incredible people who were so kind to me. I’ve spent the last 16 hours recouping from the flight and day 1, onto the second day and registration for Ashtanga. Stay tuned yogis



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