22 July 2009

Happiness is a Carrot on a Stick

Me and my dad were driving along Espana Boulevard when he asked me how was my retreat. I told him it was great and that if there was one thing that I learned, it would have to be this: "Happiness is a carrot on a stick."

I was about to tell him what it was all about when he suddenly cut me in the middle of my sentence to ask, "What stick?" (I was about to get to that dad!) but before I could answer, I realized that we have reached my destination. It was time for me to alight the car.

What's the point? Well... nothing. I just wanted to waste three paragraphs. (Kidding.)

"Carrot on a stick"  refers to a policy of offering a combination of rewards and punishment to induce behavior.

In this case, the driver would tie a carrot on a string to a long stick and dangle it in front of the donkey, just out of its reach. As the donkey moved forward to get the carrot, it pulled the cart and the driver so that the carrot would always remain out of reach.

"Happiness is a carrot on a stick" is about man's struggle to seek for happiness after happiness. For every step we move forward -- so does the carrot. Our happiness always seems to be at some destination we cannot reach; so we are never truly happy. It is a process that goes on and on.

"Happiness is a carrot on a stick" is the perfect picture of how life should NOT be lived --  happiness perceived as a destination.

Happiness should not be delayed until the end of the stick is reached. Happiness is as such. It starts the very moment it is claimed. As Buddha claimed, life is perfect as such. If we keep on seeking for happiness, we will never find it -- because searching is the antithesis for happiness.

19 July 2009


I just got home from a retreat. For three days, I was drowned in solitude, silence, simplicity, and prayer.

It is interesting that the word "retreat" also means "to give up" -- but more than a mere surrender,  it specifically means "to give up so you can go on."

Just like the Trojan War, the Greeks had to retreat because they were losing the battle. They had to rethink of a plan to beat the Trojans. With their retreat, came a war winning idea --  to send a Trojan Horse.

Thanks to this retreat, I now feel renewed and refreshed. I now find peace and serenity remembering what this fight was all about  -- my visions and convictions: the things I believe in and the things I am willing to die for.

bitter to better

09 July 2009

Instant Buddhism

Unlike other religions, all a person needs to do to be a Buddhist is to be fan of Buddha. Being a fan of Buddha is easy. His core teaching basically revolves around the Four Fold Truth and the Eight Fold Path.

Buddha teaches how to recognize the state of mind that produces unsatisfactory reaction to our understanding of reality. He's goal is to show us how we can get out of a condition of suffering and instead be totally present in a moment of pure happiness.

All of our lives, we were made to believe that happiness comes from doing things -- avoiding pain, accumulating wealth, seeking pleasure. But Buddha realized that there is a difference between pleasure and happiness. He realized that there are certain truths that we avoid that in the end, do not really make us happy. He says only through understanding and acceptance of the truth can a person find real happiness.

Buddha presents a road to happiness by making us aware of the foremost disease of life -- suffering. He elaborates this in what Buddhists now know as the "Four Noble Truths":

1. This is a life of suffering.
2. The cause of this suffering is desire.
3. To cure suffering, you must end desire.
4. To end that desire we must follow the "eight fold path."

The eight fold path is this:

  1. Appropriate View
  2. Appropriate Intention
  3. Appropriate Speech
  4. Appropriate Action
  5. Appropriate Livelihood
  6. Appropriate Effort
  7. Appropriate Mindfulness
  8. Appropriate Concentration

Buddhism offers an alternative perspective on life. It offers self introspection and understanding. It is a practice of ethical living. The advantage of ethical living is living a life without remorse or fear. It is a feeling of wellness and good will towards everything. It develops our loving kindness towards others that leads to lesser stress and more harmonious life.

01 July 2009

"Tu a que te dedicas?"

Lately someone asked me, "What do you do?"

I wanted to answer back, "What do you care?" but I thought this might be a little rude, so I instead gave him a straight answer.

Maybe you ask this question a lot too, especially at  times you are reunited with your college friends or relatives.

The thing is, for a lot of people, "What do you do?" is  a source of insecurity. For a lot people who are not happy with how their precious time are spent, answering this question is not pleasurable at all.

"Anong trabaho mo?" similarly is quite burdensome. The word trabaho  means to labor for money. It makes you think that working for money is supposed to be very hard -- which should not be the case.

Perhaps a better way to ask "what do you do?" is to ask it in Spanish:

"Tu a que te dedicas?"

Literally means "What are you dedicated (to)?" In context it means, "What are you doing for life? Or "To what endeavor do you dedicate your life to?"

It is a beautiful question because it makes you reflect on whether you are spending your life doing the right thing.

Dedication is the key to a very successful career. Dedication means one has found his purpose for working. It means love for work. It means passion, perseverance, and inspiration for work. It means security, confidence, and contentment.  Dedication means giving a deeper meaning to your chosen career.

The next time you bump with a friend, do him a favor. Instead of asking him "What do you do?" ask him "Tu a que te dedicas?" or simply, "To what endeavor do you dedicate your life to?"