Tuesday, August 21, 2012

I wish I knew what I was thinking

A strange and perhaps interesting post I saved but never completed from about two years ago. I wonder where I was going with it.


Proud people can't stand humble people, and they certainly can't stand other proud people, but humble people find proud people to be rather amusing, and they certainly have a jolly old time with other humble people.

But the thing is, proud people have some sort of morbid attraction to other proud people, because they feed oh so well into each others' pride, and so they willingly enslave themselves to one anothers' addictions to themselves, each of them thinking they are fooling the other into being used by them but in reality they are fooling themselves and by their foolishness letting the other fool them as well, getting stuck in a love-hate relationship with them.

Then the humble people are still living life wonderfully and having enlightening conversations, willingly freeing one another and sharing with one another the truth in life, and flourishing in a love-love relationship.

And the only time the proud people get along is when they are sharing their frustration over the humble people, wishing they would just shut the hell up and stop enjoying life so much. But the irony of the situation is that the proud people are thinking about how humble they themselves must be to willingly be miserable, and thinking the humble people are actually the proud people who don't care about anyone but themselves.

But the humble people aren't thinking about any of that, they aren't thinking about how proud the other people are nor how humble they themselves are, because it's just part of their nature, and what the proud people are doing is rightly unnatural, in having to consciously evaluate how proud/humble they are/others are. But because they don't talk about these things, the proud people actually think what they are doing is totally natural because you can only talk about things you actually know something about. But the irony of this situation now is that the humble people don't talk about it because they know so much about it that they've graduated from the level of merely talking about it to actually doing it and incorporating it in everything they do in life. And it's not that they are oblivious to the pride of the actual proud people, but they aren’t offended at it the way the proud people are offended at the humility of the humble people which they perceive to actually be pride. The humble people, on the other hand, are aware of their own pride, and when they see the really prideful people, they just say to themselves, “Poor guy, he has the same disease I have and isn’t even aware of it.” You see the humble people and the proud people aren’t that much different, in fact they only differ in their awareness of the situation. The humble people attain their humility

Monday, August 20, 2012

Another Guest Post

From my younger mind.

Monday, 05 April 2010

"Faith as a Mustard Seed"

As an insect sheds her shell, her new layer soft, sensitive, and vulnerable to the surroundings, she is at the mercy of nature during this period of new growth, while this new, bigger, better shell hardens. It is a test of willpower for this insect: to hold out against the elements - or - to let them ruin her. And so is the case with growing in maturity.

I want to take off this old shell that is too small for me and not good for me anymore, but the coward in me is afraid of inviting the new found maturity because of the criticism from others that I will receive in the process; on the other hand, the valiant one in me says, hey, that is a part of life, growth never comes in peace. Growing in spite of the criticism is what makes the growth all the more valuable. This is the world we live in, the environment this insect was created in. It is the nature of humans to judge and impede growth as well as it is the nature of the insect to live and grow despite all odds. If the new shell can survive in spite of the outer torment it received and finally harden, the new armor itself is a testimony to the struggle it took to get there. The struggle is the admirable part, above all else, in the end.

What decision will I make? Will I stay in this shell that I have outgrown, growing and growing inside until I must burst, but because I am trapped inside of this shell, simply collapse upon myself and die? Well, evidently, cowardice cannot coexist with living. It is a cusp on the curve. The same point has two different limits coming from the right and the left, therefore it DNE. Does not exist. This critical point is death. So this decision is out of the question. Though I may die if I fail to survive against the elements, that is, the nature of humans to belittle others so that they might look larger, at least it is a testimony to the decision I made. At least I was found worthy to die this noble death. The struggle is the admirable part, above all else, in the end.

The only way to live is to struggle and destroy all urges that compel you otherwise. These things are impossible for man, but all things are possible with God.

Jesus Christ arose.

Guest post...

...from a younger Martha!

I used to consistently blog on xanga, and it was nice because you got consistent readership which encouraged you to stay committed to blogging, which encouraged you to stay committed to thinking about things worth thinking about and sharing them. However, the audience pool you get is really hit and miss, and having that consistent audience also leads to you slowly tailor your posts to their personalities/interests/potential criticisms.

I ultimately decided that readership is not my main goal, and that I want my mindset in posting to stay targeted toward a broad audience rather than just the people who happen across my site.

So here I am, on blogger, with no readership, hardly any consistency in posting, but enjoying the medium nonetheless. I saved all my xanga posts before I deleted the site, and I had some good stuff, so here is to reviving old thoughts.

"Growth" from September 4, 2009

When we are born, we are born completely egocentric and completely in the care and trust of humans. The purpose of our struggle until death is to die completely humble, and with complete trust in God. We die completely independent of the human, terminal, earthly things; and we die with a completely objective understanding of life and reality--something that can only be achieved by humility.

My memory's failing but I remember two things very clearly: I'm a great sinner and Christ is a great Savior. - John Newton

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Improving the Face and the Soul

Whenever I buy new makeup I am always excited.  It is exciting to try it on, because it represents the prospect of looking prettier.  Improving my outward appearance.  But why am I not this happy and excited when I think of those things which bring the prospect of improving my inward being?  Which set me on the road to becoming more virtuous?  When I buy new makeup I am reminded, I need to enjoy waking up early for church, standing up for prayer, reading the Bible, just as much.

One's outward appearance is only useful if it reflects on what is inward. - H.G. Bishop David

Misunderstanding and Inner Peace

I think the feeling of being misunderstood uproots inner peace undelayingly.  Much of my reliance on God stems from the peace of heart and mind I attain from the knowledge that there is Someone who understands, even if the whole world misunderstands.  He feeds this unquenchable desire to be understood, which is undoubtedly part of our need to be loved.  He turns the tables around.  Instead of me straining myself to explain and help Him understand me, as I would with any other person, He understands me better than I understand myself.  He explains me to me; the beautiful mystery is that not only am I understood by this All-Knowing and All-Loving Being, but the more I understand Him the more I understand myself.

I cannot imagine a relationship with any human being being like this, where you have no need to speak, because they already know, and where the more you understand this person and spend time with them, the deeper and truer becomes your understanding of yourself.  This relief from insecurity, this Sustainor of inner peace, could not be more perfect and complete...

Love which stems from created things is like a small lamp whose light is sustained by being fed with olive-oil.  Again, it is like a river fed by rainfall; once the supply that feeds it fails, the surge of its flow abates.  But love whose cause is God is like a spring welling up from the depths: its flow never abates, for God alone is that spring of love whose supply never fails. - St. Isaac the Syrian

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

One of a Kind

An idea I was always skeptical of my entire life was the idea that every person is unique, and the fact that "there will never exist another person exactly like me" is supposed to somehow make me feel valuable. I wondered how that was possible, or how it was in any way a significant fact.

But then I finally realized what it is that makes everyone unique and that uniqueness of worth. I think of it as everyone being a painting. We are all made of the same materials and the same colors, but what makes the painting beautiful is not the colors in it, but the harmony of the colors.

We are all made of the same clay, even the same personality qualities, but in different proportions, and what is important is how we harmonize the different proportions of our traits to make sure we can make the most beautiful painting we can with the quantity of materials we are given. It's not about what we have, but the proportion it all comes in.

What makes each person unique is the unique harmony of all their qualities. I think that is why it is also important never to compare yourself to another. There is no such thing as the perfect proportion of qualities within a person.

Even if one were God Himself, for He is 100% of every Goodness that exists, He isn't limited to proportions. The Creator and Painter cannot be made of paint, but no painting can be realized without Him pouring out His Spirit and Essence and Mind into it.

It is something like that with Christ and us. The more we get what we now call 'ourselves' out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of 'little Christs,' all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. ... It is no good trying to 'be myself' without Him. - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

Sunday, June 3, 2012

God and Friends

H.G. Bishop Thomas of Qosia gave a lecture at a summer retreat once, when I was in high school.  The point he made, and the visual aid he used, has never left me, and I have thankfully been reminded of his important lesson when I needed the reminder.

He was talking about finding fulfillment.  Finding fulfillment in other people vs. finding fulfillment in God.  He had three cups in front of him: one large one, filled to the brim with water, and two smaller ones, both about half way full with water.

The two small cups represent you and a friend.  You give a little water, they give a little water, its mutual, even though you are not completely fulfilled, you're both somewhat satisfied.  You'll take what you can get.  All is well, until your friend stops returning the water.  You pour a little more.  No response.  You pour a little more.  And eventually you are left empty.

But then H.G. submerged you, the small empty cup, into the big full cup.  Him in I and I in Him.  You are fulfilled by God, whose cup never runs out (in reality), and you can fill as many little cups as you want, as many friends, as many people that could use your help, without you yourself running out, and without you yourself needing any one of them to return the favor.

You might have more to offer than most people in a friendship, and that's okay.  I've recently become bitter when realizing that I've invested so much in a friendship, and have yet to feel satisfied with it.  This has been exceedingly vexing for me, because when I question whether it is worth it, I am evidently putting my loyalty on the line, and remaining loyal, never losing hope, never closing out anyone, never burning bridges, is a characteristic of mine that I never want to let go.

Then the cups came to mind.  Him in I and I in Him.  I remembered, I don't have to sacrifice my loyalty, nor do I have to be upset with any of my friendships and find them a waste of time, when clearly I have been a good influence in some people's lives and they've done nothing wrong to warrant me leaving, but be "not good enough," "just not on my level."

I can have the best of both worlds.  I've been reminded of what I'm doing wrong.

Return to Me, and I will return to you.  (Malachi  3:7)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Skin Deep Beauty

Whenever I begin to fall into vanity, admiring the beauty of my face and body, I imagine that my outward appearance is a direct reflection of my inward appearance in the eyes of God. Then I instead see a mutilated face and body, one too disgusting and pitiful to look at. I realize what is more important, that what God sees is much more important than what man sees. If only I spent as much time focusing on my inward appearance as I did my outward appearance, then I would be able to look in the mirror, imagine what God sees when He peers into my soul, and be satisfied with what I see rather than appalled.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Genuine Depth

Deep thought is inseparable from organized and time-consuming thought. Deep spirituality is inseparable from organized and time-consuming religion.

Thursday, March 15, 2012


My top 5:

The Matrix
Silence of the Lambs
District 9

I've seen every single one at least three times, and that matters because I don't rewatch a movie unless I think I'll get something more out of it by watching it a second time--and I've seen a ton of damn good movies.

I can't exactly pinpoint what makes a great movie in my opinion, but here is a start, which I think is true of all of my top 5: it has to say something fundamental or profound about human nature, and perhaps make me self-reflect in some meaningful way.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Great People in One's Life

I have come to realize something about the kind of people I admire, that they all possess two fundamental characteristics. They 1) try to live honestly and 2) are genuine people.

As a philosopher, those two characteristics are technical terms for me, that have very specific meanings, and are not terms I throw around lightly. It is an honor for me, when I am able to think about someone I know/know of, and describe them as such.

Ben Casnocha, one of my favorite bloggers, wrote a post a while ago dedicated to nine icons in his life. I definitely want to imitate the idea and write a similar post, and in fact I think it would make for an interesting annual habit, to reflect every year on the people one admires the most, and see how the list transforms over the years, as one grows and discovers more admirable people. I think the old saying was, "You are who you know," and the new saying should be. "You are who you want to know."

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

What is St. Valentine's Day to me?

I naturally find myself reflecting on the wonderful people in my life on this day. It is a happy day, and also a melancholic day. I realize how blessed I am, with people in my life who are so easy to love. I also realize how many people that I have met in all my years that I do not remember, but that are worth remembering. And what about all those who have no one to remember them?

And then I realize how unworthy I am. I realize how easy my life is, always being surrounded by genuine people. I am loved, not because of anything in me, but because I am surrounded by people who naturally pour out their love on those around them.

The Creator of all things that exist, loves me. It is one thing for a human being to love another human being, his equal, but an entirely different thing for an Infinite Being to love a human being, a tiny spec among all His creatures. And the only thing that gives me worth is the fact of being His creation, though it could not have been otherwise.

When I look and see that this is all the case, I am embarrassed. I am embarrassed for ever thinking I am justified for being upset. My pride automatically stops me from accepting this embarrassment, "Wait Martha, what about when you are upset about all the suffering in the world? Surely you are justified for moping about that!" But, thankfully the rational side of me is still intact, "Oh, give me a break Martha. How often does your thought really center on those suffering in this world? If you really thought about the real suffering of others rather than just your pathetic, pretend suffering, wouldn't you actually use your time productively? Wouldn't you be doing something about it, instead of idly being bored and looking for something to do for the 16 hours of the day you're not sleeping? You live in America for God's sake, there are endless possibilities within your grasp to end suffering in this world."

Then, my final realization. Though I so often point and wag my finger at God, blaming Him for the suffering in this world, I realize I can only point and wag my figure at myself and all my fellow Americans. I wonder at the inequality we have created amongst ourselves. I wonder at the cost of living for an American compared to a peasant Chinese. How many lives, just across an ocean, could comfortably be sustained, in my stead. Is it possible all this suffering was created by us?

My brother once pointed out shocking fact to me, though it should have been obvious. If everyone in the world used sex the way Christianity suggests it to be used, there would be no AIDS epidemic. STDs would not exist. All this death, that we created ourselves, because we claim we aren't hurting anyone else by exploiting and abusing our own copulatory organs.

As a philosophy major, and as a college student, I am surrounded by self proclaimed religion-mockers, and I observe a bleak hypocrisy. While their strongest argument against a benevolent God is the problem of evil, the irony is that countless research studies in psychology show that those with the most suffering, as we in first-world countries categorize it, all find their rest in God. It is as if we, whose greatest suffering is self-invented, point to them and say, "No, your solution to your own problem is wrong!" The irony is not even in that we have no justification for making that claim, but that we have no better alternative to offer them regardless.

How much suffering exists as a result of my own capacity to love left unused?

So what is St. Valentine's Day to me? It is a day of embarrassment. As I reflect on Love, it exposes how much I lack it. My hope is that this embarrassment will lead to enlightenment will lead to practice...

I tell you that virtue is not given by money, but that from virtue comes money and every other good of man, public as well as private. -Socrates

Thursday, January 12, 2012


The first step toward freedom from anger is to keep the lips silent when the heart is stirred;
the next, to keep the thoughts silent when the soul is stirred;
the last, to be totally calm when unclean winds are blowing.

- St. John Climacus

Monday, January 9, 2012

A Small Thought on Truth and Uniqueness

The most creative and interesting people I've ever spoken to or read have been those consumed with knowing truth and reality. Anyone with any other concern, such as happiness, romance, success, or what have you, have been rather mediocre and ultimately the same and un-unique. The latter have also entertained a personal fable of their uniqueness whereas the former see the common fabric of human nature and the deep relation between all people.

Perhaps that is because the Truth is infinitely vast, there is always more to know or see, but self-delusion must draw itself from pieces of reality and thus, if one has a small portion of knowledge of reality, the delusions all tend toward sameness. Truth, the reality, is the only material we have to work with. Any dream depends on this real and authentic experience. Trying to create your own reality will just result in always constructing things of old and outdated material, and wasting energy that could be spent in discovering new depths of truth, an endeavor that will always be a service to mankind.

It is something like that with Christ and us. The more we get what we now call 'ourselves' out of the way and let Him take us over, the more truly ourselves we become. There is so much of Him that millions and millions of 'little Christs,' all different, will still be too few to express Him fully. ... It is no good trying to 'be myself' without Him. - C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity