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Woman Code: The Sex Ed Woman Should Have Had

29 Jan

“Few women understand how their bodies function,” couldn’t be a more accurate statement that Alissa Vitti reveals in her book, Woman Code, which I read a few months ago.  It contained knowledge about my gender, my physiology and my biology that was so basic, I could not believe that at 32 I was just now learning of such vital information.

The general thesis is that female hormones are out of balance because of our daily eating habits and our monthly unawareness of cyclical dispositions.

Woman Code, Alyssa Vitti, Women's Health

Woman Code

Woman Code

The book proposes that you can return to a healthier, happier, more fertile version of yourself by the following the WomanCode 5 Step Protocol:

  1. Stabilize your blood sugar
  2. Nurture your adrenals
  3. Support organs of elimination
  4. Cross-train you’re your menstral cycle
  5. Engage your feminine energy

This protocol addresses the endocrine (hormonal) system of our bodies.

“I believe that when women’s bodies don’t thrive, we fall out of sync with our lives – out of the zone of possibility, and away from our life’s purpose. And when we’re not healthy and happy, we lose our way.” (p.2)

“Consistently poor diet or lifestyle choices can set off a chain reaction, and if you don’t correct those choices, your endocrine system is forced to work in ways it shouldn’t.” (p. 19)

“Unstable blood sugar is the most important underlying cause behind hormonal problems.” (p. 64)

Dr. Vitti studied chronobiology “every system of the body has its own routine.” (p. 20) “There is a rhythm and a routine to how your body should work.”

There are a bunch of stats about how bad women’s health is in this country, p. 32.

More details to come in upcoming posts.  Highly recommended.


Awareness – by Anthony de Mello

25 Oct

Awareness, Anthony de Mello, Spirituality, Ph-Me

By far one of the most impactful books I have ever read, is “Awareness” by Anthony de Mello.  I was first introduced to it on a car-ride back from SLC airport to company head quarters by a dear colleague, and now a best friend, Josh.  I don’t know how it came up, but he mentioned the book and I recall him saying “when we renounce something, we are permanently attached to it.”  “Yeah,” I thought.  “That sounds so Fing right.”  Anyone who has dieted, knows what I am talking about.

Over the course of the following months, I saw Josh completely change, not in his persona, but in his relationship to himself.  It was insane and awesome.  Somewhere along the way, I picked up the book.

The book itself is not written by Anthony de Mello, but by a colleague of his, J. Francis Stroud, who faced the task of “maintaining the spirit of [de Mello’s] live words and sustaining his spontaneity with a responsive audience on the printed page,” after his death.

Anthony himself, was an Indian Jesuit priest and psychotherapist. Stroud was also a Jesuit priest. Eleven years after de Mello died the Catholic church reviewed his work and found some of his theological teaching to be ‘incompatible with the Catholic faith.’  Somehow, this makes me like him even more.

Fun fact: Jesuits are members of a male, christian congregation of the Catholic Church called the “The Society of Jesus.”  Founded by Ignatius of Loyola, who had a strong military background, the members have a willingness to accept orders anywhere in the world and to live in extreme conditions where required.  They are sometimes called “God’s Soldiers” or “God’s Marines.”


We are asleep.  We don’t want to wake up because it is painful.  In awareness is healing; in awareness is truth; in awareness is salvation; in awareness is spirituality; in awareness is growth; in awareness is love; in awareness is awakening.

In order to wake up:

  1. Realize that you don’t want to wake up.
  2. Unlearn, listen and challenge your whole belief system. Find truth, not from words, but from an attitude of openness and willingness. Suffering points to an area of growth.
  3. Don’t try to change things, try to understand them.  What you judge you cannot understand.
  4. Practice self-observation (watching everything around you as if it were happening to someone else) and become aware.  Step outside of yourself and observe. Awareness means to watch, to observe what is going on within you and around you.  First, we become aware of things, then we become aware of thoughts, and finally we get to the awareness of the thinker.
  5. Drop your illusions.  When your illusions drop, you are in touch with reality.

Comments on waking up

  • The chances of waking up are in direct proportion to the amount of truth you can take without running away.
  • When you’re waking up, you experience a great deal of pain.

When you wake up:

  1. You will fear no one and you will fear nothing because you are perfectly content to be nobody.
  2. When you awaken, when you understand, when you see, the world becomes right.


  1. There is no such thing as charity; it is all self interest
  2. Things don’t need to be fixed. They need to be understood.  If you understood them, they’d change.
  3. Your illusions of other people will constantly crash against reality.  See through people and start by seeing through yourself.
  4. Who am I? What is I?  Who is living inside of me?  When you identify “I” with the “me” suffering begins.
  5. Anytime you have a negative feeling towards anyone, you are living in an illusion. There is something seriously wrong with you.
  6. Loneliness is not cured by human company.  Loneliness is cured by dropping illusions and coming into contact with reality.
  7. No situation in the world justifies a negative feeling.
  8. We see people not as they are, but as we are.
  9. The one who knows, does not say; the one who says, does not know.
  10. Happiness is not the same as excitement; it’s not the same as thrills.

Four steps to wisdom:

  1. Get in touch with negative feelings that you are not even aware of.
  2. Understand that the feeling is in you, not in external reality.
  3. Never identify with that feeling.  It has nothing to do with the “I”.  These things come and go.
  4. Rather than ask “How do you change things?” ask “How do I change myself?”  When you change , everything changes.


Like Buddhism, de Mello says often “Life is always changing” and talks often about how our inability to understand that causes suffering.  Also like Buddhism, de Mello highlights the suffering caused by clinging.  He says “When you cling, life is destroyed. When you hold onto anything, you cease to live.” And again, “there’s another demon too, who’s doing the filtering.  It’s called attachment, desire, craving.  The root of sorrow is craving.”


Like “Atlas Shrugged” and “Fountainhead”, de Mello believes that there is no such thing as charity – that it is all self-interest, at its best, it is enlightened self interest.

Week 3 Recap // Guilt, Laziness vs Doing Not-Doing

1 Jul

In general, last week I felt very unproductive, and I felt like I dropped the ball on most of things I wanted to accomplish.  There is a general feeling of laziness, which I keep saying (after reading Tao Te Ching), “I am in the Tao.  I am doing not-doing”.  There are times when that feels really real, and everything happens through me (not forced), but there are other times, where I feel like I am just lazy.  Albeit, I do feel motivated today to pick up where I left off, so that is always a sign that things are happening, and that even phases of laziness change. On the positive side, I am loving my home.  I re-arranged some things and finally feel like we have the furniture set up correct.  It’s been 4mo, and we finally nailed it.

  1. WEEKENDS: Weekends are still difficult for me to gather and input data into My Daily Chart.
  2. SLEEP: I still think I am getting less sleep than I normally would need.  I am taking Melatonin to fall asleep most nights.
  3. SUPPLEMENTS: I slacked a bit this past week, but am hoping to up it this week.
  4. TEMPERATURE:  I lost my thermometer and am kind of okay with that.
  5. HYDRATION: So here is where I am really proud. Because I was having a difficult time keeping track, I started drinking out of my favorite mason jar.  I put a clear piece of tape over the jar and I mark with a permanent marker the amount of times I drink the full glass.  I typically pour 10-12oz. This has worked really well for me.  Also, I am getting in the habit of drinking my 8-12oz right when I wake up, so I feel less inclined to continue to track that.
  6. DREAMING:  I’d still like to start tracking my dreams as well.
  7. SOCIAL: This week I have been feeling less social.  Particularly, I was out of contact with my family and inlaws, when I knew I should have been calling them.  I also slacked on my email.   One thing I did not really realize is that my two best friends are out of town, and my third bestie and neighbor is also out of town.  Socially, my go-to’s are gone, and I have a hard time staying in touch with people when the structure and systems change.
  8. BODY IMAGE: I still feel like my butt is turning into a “mom’s butt”. I am kicking back into gear with butt and ab exercises, and I am going to track that.  I wonder how much I will need to increase my cardio?  I also purchased a gym membership, which I will enact sometime in the next few weeks (but am in no rush).
  9. SKIN: My skin was overall pretty great this week.  I have some shoulder bumps, but not anything noticeable.
  10. HEALTH:  I felt groggy in the mornings, no matter how much sleep I got.  I did Netti Pot this morning and yesterday morning on the tale of a “party weekend”, so I felt really good about doing that. I think it has helped.
  11. DISPOSITION: Adding this category this week.  I would say I felt restless and unmotivated at the same time. There is a general feeling that I am waiting for something to happen, or that I am being lazy.
  12. HOUSE: Last week things started to lose their domestic charm.  This week, I feel great.  I re-arranged the furniture and the place feels like HOME.  I am also going through a desire for minimalism, but we’ll see how that goes. Overall, I am loving my place.  My husband and I also went to Home Depot and picked up some things.  I am in the process of building a modern gazeebo in my back patio.  Really excited about that.
  13. CAR: Like last week, nothing has happened.  Except, I received a parking ticket and now there is a sign on my car that it is the property of LA because I have yet to register it in Cali.  Urgh.
  14. MORE ON THE TAO: I am still toying with “doing not-doing”, but it is challenging.  And I feel hopeful (i.e. I am desiring), that I feel more motivated.
  15. OTHER: Still watching My So Called Life and loving it.  I am out of insecurity and more into a bit of guilt and “hard on myself” tactics.  I am craving isolation.  It is hard to do that in a marriage and when living with someone.  It is so internal.
  16. PERSONAL:  Maybe I will write about people in code, so I can increase the honesty in all of my texts and experiences.
  17. PRODUCTIVITY:  Also adding this category, mainly because it has been central to my experience this past week.  In many ways, I have been highly productive.  I bought URL’s, re-arranged my house, hung shelves, started my gazeebo, built a website, went to the flea market, had quality time with friends, organized a dinner party… but still, because I had this month planned on doing more PhMe research and I set the standard for myself that I am a great friend, I feel guilty that I have not dedicated time to those projects/relationships.  I’d like to reserve my Sundays to call friends and am putting it on my calendar to do so for this coming week.

Coffee //

23 Jun

Negative Affects of Coffee

One of the conclusions I am definitely drawing (and have been aware of for a while), is that I am highly affected by coffee.  It leaves me wondering, does coffee affect women in a different way than it affects men?  Certain blood types? Certain personalities?  Essentially, I know I am not the only one affected so intensely by coffee, and most others that share this with me are women.  I wonder if there is somethings there.  Below are my experiential notes:


  • Jittery
  • Shaky Hands
  • Anxiety
  • Impatience
  • Uncontrolled Intensity
  • Out of control, fast pace of thoughts
  • Difficulty being still
  • Difficulty listening for extended periods of time
  • Feels like I can’t stop talking when I know the time to stop talking has passed
  • Sometimes, increase heart rate and increase in the intensity of my heart beat
  • Dry skin
  • Dehydrating
  • Sometimes a crash after a few hours


  • Increase productivity (eh hem… like this post)
  • Sensual enjoyment of coffee’s aroma and taste
  • Emotional enjoyment of my associations of coffee with friends, my husband, my brothers.  I really enjoy the ritual of making it and drinking it.
  • Laxative and positive digestive affects
  • Appetite suppressant
  • Increase alertness

Week 2 Recap // Aware Reflections

22 Jun

The week was tough.  Here are some of the things I became aware of:

  1. WEEKENDS:Weekends are more difficult for me to gather and input data into My Daily Chart.
  2. SLEEP: I have not been able to sleep well the last three nights.  Like, last night I was up until 7a.  This is either due to the Zpack, taking up coffee again (even the slightest amount), the summer solstice, stress, who knows?
  3. SUPPLEMENTS: I have been taking vitamins and supplements almost daily and am going to start tracking that.  I think it is likely having an impact on me, and I’d like to be trying to understand that impact.
  4. TEMPERATURE:  I honestly have no idea if my thermometer is even detailed enough to be capturing the data I want. :-/  Also, I am not consistent about the time of day when I take my temperature.  I don’t know if it is always supposed to be a certain amount of time after you wake up, or a specific hour during the day.  I guess I should look into that (bolding to remind myself).
  5. HYDRATION: It is hard to keep track of exactly how much water I am drinking, but I am very conscientious of it, and am fairly certain I am hitting my mark.
  6. DREAMING:  I’d like to start tracking my dreams as well.
  7. SOCIAL: This week I have been feeling pretty social.
  8. BODY IMAGE: I feel like my butt is turning into a “mom’s butt”.  So.. I am kicking back into gear with butt and ab excercises.
  9. SKIN: I had some blackheads on my chin.  Seemed like more than usual.  Could it be the increase in animal fats and proteins (my husband makes amazing chicken, and I am never going to be able to give up meat.  It’s usually organic though).
  10. HEALTH:  I am still on the recovery from this terrible system shut down I had. Lots of mucus, pressure, little bot of coughing.  I have a feeling my health would be better if I had a regular supplement routine and did a netti pot once a week.  Can I actually commit to that stuff?
  11. HOUSE: Woa – how do people stay on top of house work.  I am not working full time and I feel like all I do is cook, eat, clean, cook eat, clean and do laundry.  It is started to loose its “domesticated charm”.
  12. CAR: Arg.  I keep wanting to get on top of fixing my car, and it hasn’t happened yet.  In a way, I feel like I am living in the Tao.  Instead of doing anything, I am just present to what I want to do in the moment, and act on that.  Seemingly, it all works out. Maybe next week?
  13. MORE ON THE TAO: Also, on non-doing… I was sidelined all week with this sickness, and come Thursday night (when I could not sleep) and Friday, it is like my body just started taking care of the business that I was wanting to accomplish.  It did… just happen on its own.  Granted, there were a few emails that I would have liked to have responded to quicker and a few things I still have not done, but it was nice to feel my energy shift on its own (without me forcing it).
  14. OTHER: I started watching “My So-called Life” on hulu.  It is AWESOME.  I feel like I missed out on an entire teenage angst phase. :).  Also, I am recovering from an insecure phase.  More like, I am still in it, I am just having a lot of fun in it.  When people ask how I am doing, I say I have never been happier and I am going through a lot of pain with all the transitions in my life. Feels good to say that, and enjoy the experience of my “now.”
  15. PERSONAL:  I am having a hard time writing about some of the personal parts of my life that play into this journey, because I simply do not know what is appropriate.  Still trying to figure that out.

Taoism // Through ‘Tao Te Ching’

18 Jun

Through the lens of the “Tao Te Ching”

Personal Intro

I enjoyed reading Tao Te Ching, and found it to be a quick and easy read of roughly 100 pages of metaphoric teachings and pros structured in a poetic way.  Although I was unfamiliar with the make-up of Taoism, I had been introduced to several concepts that are central to its teachings; mainly: surrender to the universe (doing not-doing) and see past the illusion of seemingly contrary forces to their actual complementary relationship (yin-yang).

I associate Tao Te Ching’s concept of  “doing not-doing” with “flow states” or “being in the zone” (my athlete metaphor).  Essentially it means, ‘get out of your own way and let the law of the universe work through you’.  I have directly experienced this while playing soccer, dancing and in all of my life  for a brief four month period during my 30th year.  I deeply associate this state with the loss of ego, although that direct metaphor did not come up in the Tao Te Ching.

Beyond, “doing not-doing”, Taoism teaches that forces that seem contrary, are in actuality, complementary (yin-yang).  I have personally experienced this lesson, and recall sometime in the Fall of 2012 reading about complements and spending time pondering its significance.  My first experience in understanding this was with a former co-worker who I considered rigid and uptight. For the longest time, it drove me crazy, until I realized that the co-worker’s discerning eye actually allowed me to have more freedom and creativity because all of the worrying was already taken care of.  Props to my younger brother, who, as I was venting about the co-worker, said to me, “Wow, it seems like they really get under your skin. I wonder what they are here to teach you.”

Most recently, I have experienced the deep connection of complements with my husband.  Not that we are so “contrary” to begin with, but there is much of our surface identity that might seem that way.  In reflecting on my single years and my single friends, I feel like we were searching for our “match” – our equal and opposite.  Instead of finding my “match”, I found the complement to my feminine energy. In hindsight, I actually do not believe finding an equal is even possible, nor lasting. Firstly, I think that the concepts of equality and self-worth are based in the ego; so a “match” is more for the ego than the soul. Secondly, with two dynamic and changing beings, equality cannot stay in tact for long. And lastly, I do not think “equal-ness” is even possible, as every human being is so different.

There are several topics associated with Taoism that have come up in my past, and again came up during my research and peaked my interest.  Those topics are: I Ching, Qigong, Qi, and Yin Yang.  Perhaps I will dive a little deepr into those.

I believe Tao Te Ching is a great read for those seeking lessons on: LEADERSHIP, FORGIVENESS, ACCEPTANCE OF OTHERS and LETTING THINGS GO.


“Tao Te Ching” translated as “The Book of the Way” was written by Lao-tzu, a man who left no trace, and dated to the late 4th century BC.  It is categorized under both philosophical and religious categories.  The version I read was translated into English by Stephen Mitchell, and he states upfront the difficulty in translating the Tao Te Ching with 100% accuracy.


The main message of Tao Te Ching is “Wei wu Wie” meaning literally “doing not-doing.”  The book talks often about not forcing things, but rather accepting them as they are and allowing them to be naturally and unfold spontaneously.  The book teaches that the greatest treasures are: simplicity, patience, compassion (translated elsewhere as compassion, moderation, and humility[1]).


Yin Yang

Another focus of the Taoism teachings is that of yin-yang: how apparently opposite or contrary forces are actually complementary, interconnected and interdependent in the natural world, and how they give rise to each other as they interrelate to one another[1] “What is a good man, but a bad man’s teacher? What is a bad man, but a good man’s job?” Tao Te Ching calls understanding this “the great secret”


Like Buddhism, the Tao Te Ching emphasizes the impermanence of the world, and the perils of illusions, desires and attachments.  
Tao Te Ching states that “for governing a country well there is nothing better than moderation.”  Although I did not mention Buddhism’s focus on the “middle way” in my report, both Buddhism and Taoism mention moderation or a “middle path”.  In Buddhism, the focus on the “middle way” is much more prevalent.


The Tao Te Ching  says “He who defines himself can’t know who he really is.” and “When you have names and forms, know that they are provisional.  When you have institutions, know where their functions should end.”  This is resonant of existentialism’s focus on the individual first, before all of their ideologies and categories.

The Tao Te Ching says, “you can show all people the way back to their own true nature.” The mention of a “true nature” aligns with existentialism’s view of a core and authentic self and a path back to that self.  This differs from Buddhism’s “no-self.”


When the Tao Te Ching says, “Each separate being in the universe returns to the common source.  Returning to the source is serenity,” I believe it is referencing a return to that source after death. Existentialism makes no common claims for life post death, and relative to Buddhism, this varies from it’s “no-self,” and rebirth beliefs.  As well, the Tao Te Ching’s “Be a pattern for the world. If you are a pattern for the world, the Tao will be strong inside of you,” reminds me of Gandhi.

QUOTES (with more coming under categorical posts).

 “All things are born of being.  Being is born of non-being.”

“We shape clay into a pot, but it is the emptiness inside that holds whatever we want.

We hammer wood for a house, but it is the inner space that makes it livable.

We work with being, but non-being is what we use”

“In the pursuit of knowledge, everyday something is added. In the practice of Tao, everyday something is dropped.  Less and less do you need to force things, until finally you arrive at non-action. When nothing is done, nothing is left undone.”

“In dwelling, live close to the ground.

In thinking, keep to the simple.

In conflict, be fair and generous.

In governing, don’t try to control.

In work, do what  you enjoy.

In family life, be completely present.”

“It is serene. Empty. Solitary.  Unchanging.  Infinite. Eternally present. It is the mother of the universe. For lack of a better name, I call it the Tao”


Waking Life // Dream Film

18 Jun

“Dream is destiny”

Waking Life

Today I finished the animated film “Waking Life.”

The film meanders through a variety of lessons and questions that the main character encounters, mostly having to do with the state of reality, state of dreaming and meaning of life and death.

It definitely got me thinking more about dreams, and if I can possibly enter a lucid dreaming state.  There was a lot of philosophical references, including a Kierkegaard quote.

 Quotes I liked:

On Existentialism

“The reason I refuse to take existentialism as just another French fashion or historical curiosity, is that I think it has something very important to offer us for the new century. I’m afraid we are losing the real virtues of living life passionately, a sense of taking responsibility for who you are; the ability to make something of yourself and feeling good about life.  Existentialism is often discussed as if it is a philosophy of despair, but I think the truth is just the opposite. […] one thing that comes out in reading these guys, is not so much an anguish about life, so much as, a real kind of exuberance of feeling on top of it; it’s like, your life is yours to create. […]When Sartre’ talks about responsibility… it is something very concrete. It’s you and me talking, making decisions, doing things and taking the consequences. […]What you do makes a difference. […].It is always our decision who we are”

On Democracy

“And they haven’t given us any other options, outside the occasional, purely symbolic, participatory act of voting.  You want the puppet on the right, or the puppet on the left?”

On Reincarnation & Collective Memory

“What I am trying to say is that reincarnation is just a poetic expression of what collective memory is. […]It’s like we’re all telepathically sharing our experiences.”

On Liberation

The quest is to be liberated from the negative, which is really our own will to nothingness, and once having said yes to the instant, the affirmation is contagious. […]To say yes to one instant, is to say yes to all of existence.

Emptyness of the Universe

Yes it’s empty with such fullness. The great moment, the great life of the universe is pulsating within it.

On Human Potential and Fear

Actually the gap between, say, Plato or Nietzsche, and the average human is greater than the gap between that chimpanzee and the average human.  The realm of the real spirit: the true artist, the saint, the philosopher – is rarely achieved. Why so few?  Why is world history and evolution not stories of progress, rather this endless and futile addition of zeroes.  …Hell the Greeks, 3,000 years ago, were just as advanced as we are. So what are these barriers that keep people from reaching anywhere near their real potential?   The answer to that can be found in another question, and that’s this: Which is the most universal characteristic? Fear or laziness?

The Test and Authorship of Life

We are all co-authors of this dancing exuberance, where even our inabilities are having roasts. We are the authors of ourselves, co-authoring a gigantic dotieski novel starring clowns.  This entire thing we’re involved with called the world, is an opportunity to exhibit how exciting alienation can be. Life, is a matter of a miracle that is collected over time by moments flabbergasted to be in each others presence. The world is an exam to see if we can rise into the direct experiences.  Our eye-site is here as a test to see if we can see beyond it. Matter is here as a test for our curiosity.  Doubt is here as an exam for our vitality.

Paradoxes of Life

An assumption develops that you cannot understand life and live life simultaneously… I would say life understood is life lived, but the paradoxes bug me.  And I can learn to love and make love to the paradoxes that bug me.  And on really romantic evenings of self, I go salsa dancing with my confusion.

Self Awareness

And, as one realizes that one is a dream figure in another person’s dream, that is self awareness.

Shared story of life

Behind the phenomenal difference, there is but one story, and that story is moving from the No to the Yes.  All of life is like “no thank you, not thank you, no thank you,” and then ultimately it is like “yes, I give in. Yes, I accept. Yes, I embrace.” I mean, that’s the journey.

Buddhism & Existentialism // A Comparison

17 Jun

As I research different philosophies and read different literature, I am making mental note of where the commonalities are.  With Buddhism and Existentialism, here are my thoughts:

  1. The Lens of the Individual: Buddhism teaches people to experience truth for oneself & in existentialism, the central process is one of self-analysis:  Both focus on understanding life and life’s truths through the lens of the individual self.
  2. Removal of Illusions: Existentialism focuses on removing the self from the illusions of categories and ideologies.  While Buddhism does the same, it takes it further to include the removal of our illusion of an actual self (thus its teaching of the “no-self”).
  3. Suffering & Absurdism:  Both Buddhism and existentialism claim that a suffering are an unavoidable truth to the human experience.  In Buddhism, this is the first of its Four Noble Truths, and in existentialism, this is captured in its focus on life being meaningless and absurd.
  4. Concentration: Both Buddhism and existentialism call for deep concentration to reach and achieve states of truth, free from illusion.  In existentialism, it is a constant self-analysis and in Buddhism it is done through meditations.

Where they differ greatly is:

  1. Concrete Self vs No Self.  Existentialism’s aim is for each individual to understand what is core and “authentic’ in themselves.  Although it is one of the more difficult concepts to understand, the concept of “no-self” is core to Buddhism and ultimately means there is no unique soul or self at all; essentially, nothing is core.
  2. Philosophy vs Religion: Buddhism clearly has religious framework which includes daily practices, mantras, a path to end suffering, etc.  Existentialism, has no such parameters or pathways, and is merely a way to view the world.









Buddhism // An Organization Chart

15 Jun
Buddhism Org Chart

Click here to view the chart in full.


15 Jun

Personal Intro

As I researched Buddhism, I found that I was much more attracted to the philosophical applications than the religious ones (not very surprising if you know me). My attraction towards Buddhism started around 2 – 3 years ago, and has grown increasingly.  Mostly, I have been attracted to the encouragement within Buddhism to question teachings, take nothing on blind faith, and to realize and experience truth for oneself. Meditation has also started to play a significant role in my life, and most recently, my 10 day silent Vipassana mediation (which is Buddhist in its origin), further increased my curiosity in Buddhism through its teachings and discourses.

1) Craving and Desire: My Bad Habit

During my 10-day Vipassana, I was introduced to the “truth” that “clinging to” or “craving of” positive sensations causes suffering (one of Buddhism’s Four Noble Truths).  I had somewhere along the way already gained the understanding that “hate and aversion” cause suffering, and although I had connected the dots of how my high expectations often led to disappointment (and occasional pouting), I had never realized the full extent and frequency of my internal craving habit. This pattern of romanticizing a future life-event, and craving its imagined outcome was addictive and captivating; however, immense disappointment frequently followed when life unfolded with its own set of plans.

Note: I use “Craving”, “Desire”, “Clinging” and “Attachment” interchangeably.  I also do the same with “Aversion” and “Hate”

2) No Reincarnation? No Kidding.

The desire to “know what I am talking about” is a central drive to my existential research.  I was delighted, then, to discover my false perceptions about Buddhism and reincarnation.  Despite what I thought, Buddhist believe in rebirth, not reincarnation.  The very important difference here, is that Buddhists believe in the “no-self”, which means there is no unique, individual soul or essence that carries over from one lifetime to the next.  Do I believe in rebirth? Reincarnation? Time between lifetimes? The self-soul? The no-self?

3) The No-self

This concept in Buddhism is challenging to understand, yet an essential understanding for practitioners.  I am open to assistance in understanding”what” is actually reborn if there is “no self.”  One school of Buddhism, Theravada considers “no-self” to mean that an individual’s ego or personality is a delusion. In another, “emptiness’ is applied, meaning all phenomena are void of intrinsic identity and take identity only in relation to other phenomena.[3]

4) Enlightenment, Liberation, Nirvana, Awakening

The clarification of terms here was really important to me, because “enlightenment”, “nirvana”, and “liberation” are so often interchanged.  Within all of that there is some “awakening”.  The distinction amongst them all still remains a bit unclear.

5) Question/Theory?: Is it me, or is 30-35 a ridiculously important time for profound transformations?

6) Applied Buddhism

Currently, I look forward to becoming aware of my “craving” when it happens, and practicing an “equanimous” approach towards it.  I also look forward to integrating compassion meditation into my daily meditation routine.

Check out my Buddhism Conceptual Organization Chart

Buddhism Org Chart


Buddhism is defined as a non-theist religion and at times considered a philosophy. It is recognized as one of the fastest growing religions in the world. [1]

The teachings of Buddhism can be summed into:

  1. lead a moral life
  2. be mindful and aware of thoughts and actions
  3. develop wisdom and understanding.{2]

There are Four Noble Truths which are regarded as central to the teachings of Buddhism. The four truths are:

  1. Suffering (dukkha) is always a part of life.
  2. Suffering is caused by the 3 “poisons” or “fires”: 1) Aversion to pain and death.  2) Craving/desire and the anxiety of and holding onto things, and 3) the root of the first two, ignorance.
  3. The end of suffering is possible.
  4. The path to ending all suffering is achieved through a set of eight interconnected factors or conditions.

Buddhists believe there are eight significant dimensions of one’s behavior that operate in dependence on one another and define a complete path, or way of living.  In summary, the Noble 8-fold Path is being moral (through what we say, do and our livelihood), focusing the mind on being fully aware of our thoughts and actions (this is where meditation comes into play), and developing wisdom by understanding the Four Noble Truths and by developing compassion for others.

eightfold-path grid

Three Marks of Existence are impermanence, suffering, and not-self.

The “Four Immeasurable Minds” in Buddhism are without egotism, and are love, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

The moral code within Buddhism is the precepts, of which the main five are: not to take the life of anything living, not to take anything not freely given, to abstain from sexual misconduct and sensual overindulgence, to refrain from untrue speech, and to avoid intoxication, that is, losing mindfulness.

With regards to the “not taking the life of anything living”, I was excited to learn that vegetarianism is not required in all Buddhist practices.

THE THREE JEWELS of which Buddhist take refuge in are:

  1. The Buddha
  2. The Dharma – Law of nature/reality
  3. The Sangha – monk community or community of those in Buddhism


Two major branches of Buddhism are generally recognized: Theravada and Mahayana.

According to Buddhism there is ultimately “no-self” is no such thing as a self independent from the rest of the universe; therefor, Buddhism rejects the concepts of a permanent self or an unchanging, eternal soul, as it is called in Hinduism and Christianity.  In Buddhism, Rebirth refers to a process whereby beings go through a succession of lifetimes as one of *5 (Theravadins) or 6 (other schools) possible forms of sentient life (1. hellish beings, 2. ghosts, 3. animals, 4. humans, 5. Gods and angels, *6. Asuras: lowly gods and demons, ). Each reincarnation is considered to happen back to back, and is determined by Karma.

In Tibetan Buddhism, there is an intermediate state, a “Bardo” between one life and the next.

It varies depending on the school of buddhism, but originally, enlightenment (Bodhi) and achieving nirvana meant the same thing.  Somewhere down the line, the Mahayana school applied nirvana to the elimination of aversion and craving, and enlightenment as the further elimination of delusions and ignorance.   I recall the Vipassana teacher saying that for householders (non-monk Buddhists), liberation is possible, but not enlightenment, but again, the distinction amongst these terms is unclear.

Buddhism teachings started with Siddhartha Gautama, who is commonly known as the Buddha.  Buddha means “the awakened one” and refers to all enlightened beings, past, present and future.

At the age of 35, Guatama Buddha famously sat in meditation under a sacred fig tree — known as the Bodhi tree — in the town of Bodh Gaya, India, and vowed not to rise before achieving enlightenment. After many days, he arose as a fully enlightened being


[1] “Buddhism” – Wikipedia (

[2] “Basic Buddhism Guide” – BuddhaNet (

[3]”Buddhism Basic Beliefs” – (