Archives For David Joseph Leingang

Be at war with your vices, at peace with your neighbors, and let every new year find you a better man.
~ Benjamin Franklin

Face it, while you were ringing in the New Year singing Auld Lang Syne with friends, or watching the ball drop from your living room couch, at some point you were probably thinking of those blasted resolutions. Some of us will be relieved of the stress involved in setting lofty goals when we secretly agree with ourselves to resign from any “difficult” goals after 3 days…

Though this is typically because we set goals that are too intense and lack any actual plan to accomplish them, I believe it may be due to certain vices getting in the way. This is especially an issue when negative vices begin to take over who we are. Even more so when that vice becomes threatened and convinces our subconscious how you can’t live without it. But it doesn’t stop there.

Some vices are easy to exercise, however, if our willpower is poor, bad habits will fill voids in our lives and create an ongoing battle for those who are brave enough to fight it!

Benjamin Franklin’s words harken to this constant battle. Published in Franklin’s lengthily titled, “Poor Richard Improved: Being an Almanack and Ephemeris of motions of the Sun and Moon; The True Places and Aspects of the Planets; The Rising and Setting of the Sun, and the Rising Setting and Southing of the Moon,” his quote covers the essential basics to annual resolutions. Still, it is important to not get hung up on vanquishing every single bad habit this year, but to rather concentrate on ridding one and filling their voids with something positive.

One vice I have resolved to focus on vanquishing any practice of judgmental behavior or fear of it from others. I was reminded of this poisonous emotion after reading an article, Taming the Mammoth: Why You Should Stop Caring What Other People Think. After realizing the possible power of shedding the burden of caring what others think, I made that one of my top priorities for 2017, and suggest everyone give the article a read and enjoy the nice artwork – it really keeps you going!

So, with that, Auld Lang Syne. Should no acquaintance be forgot, and no unnecessary vices be allowed to grow.

~ David Joseph Leingang

Ah the power of “No.” Who would believe that two letters could hold so much power. Whether used to empower ourselves, or to disempower others, its use comes with great responsibility. But it’s not only it’s use that we must be careful of, but how we hear it.

Though it is important to know when to say it, knowing how to take “No” is just as important. If you’re like Mr. James Cameron, and don’t take “No” for an answer, it may be because when you hear that rejection you hear opportunity knocking.

Hearing someone tell you “No” forces you to become a better salesman in what you are trying to seek approval for in the first place. Which would explain how Mr. Cameron has become one of the most successful directors in Hollywood who has not only produced over 30 movies, but has also directed over, 20 movies that have all contributed to a lifetime gross total of $1,974,307,733.

“No” should not be meant to inhibit action, no matter how harsh the context or how crude the source. It is simply a challenge that our English language has incorporated into our rhetoric. There are many other words and phrases that can have negative connotations, but it is a great skill to acquire to know how to take rejection in any form, and just press on.

By: David Joseph Leingang

My 3-year-old daughter has had a plaque with these words in her room since she was born. And though I am sure Lao Tzu had a greater context for this quote, expecting a new child any day, I hold a different significance to it.

As I see how far my little girl has come, and wonder where she is headed, the thought of witnessing another child’s journey makes me realize how grateful I am for life. It is simply amazing, as an adult, to see the challenges these little feet tread through before they can comprehend the greater nature of our world. What’s more amazing and equally disheartening is the washing away of innocence with each step and experience they endure. Yet hopeful, they awaken every day for the wonder that is life.

When do we lose this sense of exploration? At what point, do we become so cynical to discovery that we lose our yearning to dream? At what point, do we throw away fantasies to be an astronaut, a veterinarian, or a fireman when we grow up, and settle for being something that we force ourselves to like?

The answers to those questions vary from person to person, from place to place. However, the common denominator still equates to us losing a piece of ourselves that we sometimes never find again. That piece is the spark that sends us on that destined journey.

But why wait till we are in a place of discomfort in our lives that we are made to choose to live in misery or go searching for something new.

Watching my little girl grow up has awakened a new sense of wonder within me. It has tailored my language toward her by removing negative words and phrases such as “can’t,” or “don’t do that.” It has made me aware of my actions and the way we play together, read together, learn together. I try to let her experience as much as there is available. Even if it means letting her hammer in a nail… and me getting a sore thumb from the experience. Heck as far as I am concerned she is one swing closer to being a carpenter.

If able to begin this journey now, and continue all through life, how grand would the story be? Though every good story needs conflict, why should one of those conflicts be the choice to return to the adventure of life? How many conflicts and successes are missed while in that purgatory?

So as I see into this world, a new life, with new feet. I am eager to see the first steps that lead that little one on one hell of a journey.

 

By: David Joseph Leingang

“the prevalent sensation of oneself as a separate ego enclosed in a bag of skin is a hallucination which accords neither with Western science nor with the experimental philosophy-religions of the East.”

            ~ Alan Watts

In alignment with this month’s thought letter, I found this intriguing note from Alan Watts. A philosopher from the 50’s – 70’s, Watts shared wisdom about practices, both physically and mentally, that have now become popular. Meditation, yoga, and reflection are daily prescribed answers to many of life’s dilemmas. Finding peace and balance through discovering a purpose in life while becoming part of this world is a way of thinking that Watts developed through fusing Western and Eastern philosophy.

Diverging a bit away from Freud’s philosophy about the, yet sympathizing with its idea, Alan Watts expands on his belief that we are not a sole ego, but part of a larger picture.

This feeling of being lonely and very temporary visitors in the universe is in flat contradiction to everything known about man (and all other living organisms) in the sciences. We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples.” Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe. This fact is rarely, if ever, experienced by most individuals. Even those who know it to be true in theory do not sense or feel it, but continue to be aware of themselves as isolated “egos” inside bags of skin.”

Watts even goes so far to explain how some religions limit our perspective of the universe. When left unchecked or questioned, they become divisive and quarrelsome as they become dependent on the line drawn in the sand that separates the saved from the damned.

This example can lead to the positive sides of the ego, becoming an unattractive quality which is so commonly attributed to the word “egotistical.”

This sense of “one-upmanship”, as Alan Watts calls it, is expressed in all facets of politics, education, athletics, etc. Not always, but again, when left unquestioned or evaluated can become that segregator to a greater sense of togetherness.

Our normal sensation of self is a hoax, or, at best, a temporary role that we are playing, or have been conned into playing — with our own tacit consent, just as every hypnotized person is basically willing to be hypnotized. The most strongly enforced of all known taboos is the taboo against knowing who or what you really are behind the mask of your apparently separate, independent, and isolated ego.

Whether you are the one drawing the line in the sand, or the one crossing to either side, without searching for another option or accepting many options, you may never discover who you really are. We are all driven by our id, but if we are forced to act and speak a certain way without reason, we never know what it is like to march to the beat of our own drum, or better, how to dance to the music within us all.

Alan Watts philosophy isn’t for everyone, however if you like thought provoking words that don’t attempt to make your mind up for you, please check out his work. Quotes and philosophies in this article can be found in his book, The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.

By: David Joseph Leingang

http://www.alanwatts.org/collections.php

https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=the+book+on+the+taboo+against+knowing+who+you+are+by+alan+watts

In a message for American Education week, on September 27th, 1938, Franklin Delano Roosevelt reflected on something that is very prevalent in our present day.

As we all know, we are in an election year, and boy has it been a doozy. Mostly a knockout, drag out battle since the beginning no matter what side you are one, it would seem the perfect presidential candidate is far from sight.

But why is this? Where is the unity? Where is the vision?

Debate after debate, speech after speech, what have we learned about each candidate’s stance, besides how much they dislike their opposing candidates? I am afraid not much. Whether it be climate change, civil rights, or overseas relations, all we have seemed to learn is how not to handle classified emails and incite a fear of others within our country. Fingers are being pointed instead of hands being extended in greeting or friendship. Instead of finding commonalities we have managed to point out differences.

It’s been such an extravagant show, that our neighbors overseas have been either finding humor in our situation or fear of what may happen. Especially since some of those neighbors have a stake in what the outcome will be.

No matter the candidate, no matter your political denomination, it is important to be educated in not only who the candidate really is, but what they stand for and who they stand with. Try not to focus on man vs. woman, blue vs. red, and consider who might actually be the best fit, morally and ethically, to lead our country.

This will require some extra homework, class. Yup, that means not only getting your information from one television or radio station, and exploring other venues of CREDIBLE information.

I believe it was valiant of Mr. Roosevelt to encourage his constituents to investigate their choices and educate themselves on the issues at hand and how each candidate was planning to handle them.

So, in the spirit of the election season, please do yourself, your family, your friends, and your country a service and make an educated choice this November. Choose who YOU believe in and decide what is best for our nation and its people.

“The possibility of having a dream come true,” now that is something to chew on. How many of us appreciate the fact that we have the choice to make a dream come true? Better yet, how many of us take advantage of the freedom to carry out our passions and live the way we wish?

When you begin to think about the idea of making a dream come true for yourself or someone else, something happens. Suddenly when you focus on a goal or an end game, the universe seems to conspire with us to make things happen. It may take time, but nonetheless, if we keep at it we can be successful.

Imagine what our forefathers were dreaming of when they decided to not only abandon their consignment to the British Empire but prepared to defend their idea to the death. On July 2nd, after much bloodshed, the Second Continental Congress agreed upon and passed a resolution of independence which inevitably united the 13 colonies becoming the United States of America and ending their relationship. Two days later, the Declaration of Independence was signed by the Committee of Five; John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert Livingston.

John Adams had his own prediction or dream about the impact the date of the signing of the declaration of independence would have on our nation. He wrote to his wife Abigail,

The Second Day of July 1776, will be the most memorable Epocha, in the History of America. I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated, by succeeding Generations, as the great anniversary Festival. It ought to be commemorated, as the Day of Deliverance by solemn Acts of Devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other from this Time forward forever more. You will think me transported with Enthusiasm but I am not. I am well aware of the Toil and Blood and Treasure, that it will cost Us to maintain this Declaration, and support and defend these States. Yet through all the Gloom I can see the Rays of ravishing Light and Glory. I can see that the End is more than worth all the Means. And that Posterity will tryumph in that Days Transaction, even altho We should rue it, which I trust in God We shall not.”

Though he was off by two days, he pretty much hit the nail on the head. Coincidentally, both John Adams and Thomas Jefferson died on July 4th, 1826.

So while you’re enjoying the long weekend, watching bombs burst in air, and spending time with friends and family, be sure to take a moment and be appreciative of a dream that made your life a little more interesting. And while you’re at it, maybe begin to think about your dreams and how making them come true might make someone’s life a little more interesting.

By David Joseph Leingang

Why are we advised to never look back? Growing up, I remember hearing that phrase a lot, “Don’t look back, or you will never move forward.” I’m paraphrasing of course, but in cartoons, movies, and in school it was not hard to find or hear someone or something preaching that philosophy. Naturally, though, when you tell a child they can’t do something, what happens? They usually do it anyway. Why is that?

I find it odd that on one note we are told to never look back, and on the next beat we are told to learn from history, or learn from the mistakes of others or ourselves. Those two philosophies kind of cancel each other out, don’t they?

In fact, if you type “what is the meaning behind never look back?” you will come across dictionary sites that define that statement as, “to become increasingly successful.” How can that be?

Looking at Mr. Disney’s quote, of course I glean from the message that we must keep moving forward in order to find new opportunities, new ideas, etc. However, I can’t help but notice the first sentence of the quote, which is usually not included in certain publications, “Around here, however, we don’t look backwards for very long.” Without that first sentence, to me, the rest of the quote means nothing.

Walt does a good job of surfing between two ideals by including that first line. The key is to not focus on the past, yet to acknowledge it and continue with the knowledge of past experiences as a guide to help you find a more prosperous path. For if we forget what we have already endured how are we to keep from falling into the same traps that may have snared us in the past. Sometimes a glimpse into our past will give us new insight into life, or maybe a recent event has enlightened your mind to look back and understand a past incident more clearly.

This philosophy is carried out in many Disney movies, one of them being The Lion King. The motto shared by some of the characters is “Hakuna Matata.” A Swahili phrase, it means, “no worries,” and is further explained by one of the characters, Timon, that when the world turns its back on you, you gotta turn your back on the world. It’s a mentality that is easily adopted by Simba, the protagonist of the story. Yet he eventually realizes how easy it is to forget who we really are without accepting your past, and unfortunately, sometimes, we need to look back to accept or get over things we’ve experienced only to grow into something more. Ultimately, Simba faces his past and becomes king, like his father before him.

When we hear about opening doors, it is easily forgotten that the past is on the other side of one. It’s only right behind us, out of sight, out of mind. Only when we become curious will we open that portal and only then will we have the right state of mind to move forward and conquer the path that lay ahead.

 

By: David Joseph Leingang

A man with a unique since of wonder and understanding, Joseph Campbell’s life is an incredible story. Born with a keen interest in not only what people believe, but how they believe, Joe grew up with a different perspective toward religion and mythology than most might. Knee high to a grasshopper, he developed a fascination with Native American living and mythology. This hunger led him down a rabbit hole of sorts, as he devoured every Native American text in the children’s section of his local library. Once he was permitted into the adult section, where he read through many texts in a white heat. This sparked a wildfire of self-learning and educating that Mr. Campbell would not be able to tame, and would eventually come to understand as his bliss.

What is your purpose? What gets you jazzed, pumped, inspired, ginned up, or just plain ol’ excited? How do you find Zen? It’s no secret that everyone wants to be happy, but what is the secret to finding such a state of mind?

“It is miraculous. I even have a superstition that has grown on me as a result of invisible hands coming all the time – namely, that if you do follow your bliss you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while, waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in your field of bliss, and they open doors to you.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

Another way I look at that statement is; As you walk through a city you have to keep your head up. If you continue to take stride after stride with your eyes to the pavement, worried about the cracks you may step on, you will miss out not only on the correct turns and paths you are hoping to take, but the beautiful faces you will encounter along the way. The doors are always there, but if we do not become aware, or open to our purpose (or bliss) we will not see them. Even when we are aware we need something extra, like our desire, to approach the threshold of a closed door and try the handle. If it is locked, we shall rely on our persistence and courage to either pick the lock or break the door down to see what’s on the other side.

I know, I know, easier said than done right? If only we were unable to practice this method every day, right? Every dawn brings closed doors that we must either open or break down. We might not realize it, but we do. Whether it’s public speaking, dealing with conflict, taking a new job, or quitting your current one to pursue your bliss, or looking past a friend or loved one who doesn’t believe you can succeed.

In the end it’s what makes you happy that is important. Come on, we’ve heard this since we were kids. So why is it so hard to follow through? Do we feel guilty of our happiness when we know so many who aren’t, or is it something else?

“Now, I came to this idea of bliss because in Sanskrit, which is the great spiritual language of the world, there are three terms that represent the brink, the jumping-off place to the ocean of transcendence: sat-chit-ananda. The word “Sat” means being. “Chit” means consciousness. “Ananda” means bliss or rapture. I thought, “I don’t know whether my consciousness is proper consciousness or not; I don’t know whether what I know of my being is my proper being or not; but I do know where my rapture is. So let me hang on to rapture, and that will bring me both my consciousness and my being.” I think it worked.” – Joseph Campbell, The Power of Myth

There you have it! What puts that smile on your face, or makes you jump into action? That happiness you feel when you think about whatever it is that makes you feel good, that is the start of finding your bliss and living the life you want! Everyone in the world right now knows whether or not they are happy or not. Some for different reasons, such as health, wealth, etc. but nonetheless it is relevant to how we live our lives and how we operate in this world. Through happiness and finding our bliss, we can better ourselves, we can better our families, our communities, the world.

In my experience, the word “bliss” hasn’t always carried fruitful connotations, frankly because of the misuse of the term. Not necessarily religious or spiritual, it really just means happiness in the utmost.

Thankfully, through the work of Joseph Campbell, I have been exposed into a more enlightening connotation of the word. While on my adventure to discover more on bliss, I found an interesting definition for bliss when used as a verb.

To bliss or be blissed: reach a state of perfect happiness, typically so as to be oblivious of everything else.

What could get you down when your blissed?

-David Joseph Leingang

“I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

~ Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom

What is your definition of bravery? Usually when asked this question, people don’t provide a definition, but rather an experience or event they have witnessed or endured themselves. However, once in a while you find someone who coughs up a quote or line they’ve heard somewhere that provides the logical answer to that opening question.

Some might be confused as to the difference between true shows of courage are and a lack of personal safety, but luckily there are others who know the true meaning. Probably because those who know the meaning, have had their backs up against the wall and had to fight their way out. They are the ones who have had an almost divine moment of understanding what standing up for yourself means, or what standing up for others means. They are the ones who know what being a hero is really about, and how, when you feel true fear and have no way to escape it, you have to face it. And it is in those moments we know what it means to be sincerely courageous.

Whether it be a soldier on the battle field running towards the violence, or a mother who smiles at her sick child, ensuring them it’s going to be all right when she’s just be told the mass in their brain is growing. Or even something as trivial as confronting someone about something, or quitting that job you’ve had for 8 years with all the securities and starting a new adventure. It takes all kinds of bravery to overcome the fear that, when left untamed, can atrophy our senses and transform us into cowards that rely on someone else to save them.

The good news is that the brave ones are all around us. Everyday we encounter someone who either has been or is currently being very courageous, you just don’t know it because unlike the ones who need saving all the time, the brave ones don’t carry signs that say “Help Me!”

We find them in our books, on our tv’s, or in public. They are writers, actors, firemen, servicemen, nurses, and servers. White collar, blue collar, and every shade in between. They understand that everyone is fighting a battle of some sort, but they also understand that not everyone chooses to fight the battle they’re in. They know because they have been in that situation. That situation when fear steps into a room with them and took over the space, leaving them with that corner that others have been backed into before. Except these folks don’t try to get comfortable in that corner, they stand up and begin to take the space back. One of these brave ones is Nelson Mandela.

A blank four cornered room may not project a lot of shadows, but after 27 years, your mind will start to create a darkness that can engulf the whole room if you let it. I imagine that’s how a 44 year-old Mandela may have felt after receiving the sentence of life in prison. However, Mandela overcame his ghosts of fear and hatred and not only was pardoned from prison, but went on to achieve international recognition for his presidency in South Africa.

In 1995, Nelson penned an autobiography entitled, Long Walk to Freedom. Published by Little Brown & Co. the bio charts Mandela’s early life, education and his 27 year term behind bars. He dedicated the book to, “my six children, Madiba and Makaziwe (my first daughter) who are now deceased, and to Makgatho, Makaziwe, Zenani and Zindzi, whose support and love I treasure; to my twenty-one grandchildren and three great-grandchildren who give me great pleasure; and to all my comrades, friends and fellow South Africans whom I serve and whose courage, determination and patriotism remain my source of inspiration.”

Through his bravery, Nelson Mandela was able to cultivate and grow a nation into a more peaceful region. And through his friends, family, and fellow South Africans, he had the fuel to remain courageous and defeat his ghosts of fear to see his dream come to life.

Quotesense – Brain

January 3, 2016 — Leave a comment

BRAIN, n. An apparatus with which we think that we think. That which distinguishes the man who is content to be something from the man who wishes to do something. A man of great wealth, or one who has been pitchforked into high station, has commonly such a headful of brain that his neighbors cannot keep their hats on. In our civilization, and under our republican form of government, brain is so highly honored that it is rewarded by exemption from the cares of office.”

~Ambrose Bierce; The Devils Dictionary

Throughout his life, Ambrose Bierce led a particularly interesting life. From 1842 to 1914, he managed to establish a legacy of searing criticism, fantastic imagination, and honesty. Commonly known for his short story, “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and other journalistic works. Living a life through mostly writing, Bierce is also known for his service in the military. At the outset of the American Civil War, Bierce enlisted in the Union Army’s 9th Indiana Infantry Regiment and was honored for his daring rescue, under fire, of a gravely wounded comrade at the Battle of Rich Mountain. Later, he fought fiercely at the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. His experience was terrifying and became the source of inspiration for several short tales in his memoir, “What I Saw of Shiloh.”

The war took its toll on Bierce, as it would for any. Yet out of the ashes of memory that existed from the war, he found solace in his ability to write well. Editorials, journalism, and satirical writings were all eventually compiled into a lexicon of sorts that became known as the “The Devil’s Dictionary.

The above quote is just one out of hundreds of self-interpreted words and phrases from the mind and mouth of Bierce himself. Many of the definitions are humorous, while others might be difficult to understand or may even offend you. Either way the meanings are all the same; humorous wit for the enlightened and open minded, and backhanded remarks on society for those who laugh because they “think” they understood the joke, but fail to grasp the insult as it wafts in one ear and out the other.

Reading through Bierce’s satirical dictionary is never a disappointment, and deliver bites of truth that I eat up with a spoon. In his definition of the brain, I find his use of the word apparatus in regards to the brain. The normal dictionary defines an apparatus as, a group or combination of instruments, machinery, tools, materials, etc., having a particular function or intended for a specific use. When using this formal definition to accompany Bierce’s commentary on the brain, his definition becomes even more hilarious.

The brain being described as an instrument/tool that has a particular function or specific use and that some actually choose to use it for a purpose or functioned that it is not intentionally designed for explains a lot of the issues we face in this world. What’s the difference between the man that is content sitting at home doing nothing, and the man who wants to change the world? Well, one has a brain and the other does not. Can you figure out which is which? If not, I suggest you read the rest of Bierce’s dictionary and cipher what you can from its text.

Don’t worry, even the most intelligent person, might not be able to decode all of the messages Mr. Bierce laid to paper, in fact some of them are as mysterious as Bierce himself.

In 1913, while traveling to Mexico to learn more about the Mexican Revolution, he disappeared. He crossed the Mexican border in late autumn, and sent one last letter from Chihuahua on December 26. At the end of the letter he said, “As to me, I leave here tomorrow for an unknown destination.” He was never heard from nor seen again.

I highly encourage all to learn more about this enigmatic man and take advantage of one of his many written contributions to this world. You just might become a better human for it, and your brain shall surely be greatly appreciative for the non-derivative fuel you will be giving it. Check out http://www.ambrosebierce.org/main.html

-David Joseph Leingang