Nobel Peace Prize nominee and Zen Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hanh has a very different theory about why our ecosystems are dying and our financial systems are crumbling. The Vietnamese monk credited with bringing mindfulness to the West believes that our desperation to succeed at all costs fuels our voracious economic system. An innumerable number of worldly ‘sicknesses’ come from this singular philosophical vice.
On one of Hanh’s Facebook posts he said, “Each one of us has to ask ourselves, What do I really want? Do I really want to be Number One? Or do I want to be happy? If you want success, you may sacrifice your happiness for it. You can become a victim of success, but you can never become a victim of happiness.”
Thay – as his followers call him, is no stranger to the ideology of the movers and shakers in our world economy. He was invited to speak in Silicon Valley by Steve Jobs once, and has met with the World Bank president Jim Yong Kim. He has also met with senior Google engineers to discuss how they could develop technologies which could be more compassionate and bring about positive change, instead of increasing people’s stress and isolation, taking them away from nature, and one another.
He recently explained his concern with how people pin their happiness on success in an interview with the Guardian.
“If you know how to practice mindfulness you can generate peace and joy right here, right now. And you’ll appreciate that and it will change you. In the beginning, you believe that if you cannot become number one, you cannot be happy, but if you practice mindfulness you will readily release that kind of idea. We need not fear that mindfulness might become only a means and not an end because in mindfulness the means and the end are the same thing. There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way.”
Thay warns, however, that practicing mindfulness just to be more productive at work, or only to enjoy more material success will leave the practitioner with a pale shadow of awareness compared to what true mindfulness can provide. He suggests,
“If you consider mindfulness as a means of having a lot of money, then you have not touched its true purpose. It may look like the practice of mindfulness but inside there’s no peace, no joy, no happiness produced. It’s just an imitation. If you don’t feel the energy of brotherhood, of sisterhood, radiating from your work, that is not mindfulness.”
As company executives in banking, oil production, agriculture, manufacturing, tech, and other fields strive to be successful, are they missing out on the true peace that might come from preserving an ecosystem, or helping to protect biodiversity? Are these titans of industry reflective of our social and political slant toward ever-increasing spending, a lack of accountability fiscally and environmentally, and the disassociation workers feel from their families and friends while constantly trying to work harder and earn more?
Thay says that all businesses should be conducted in such a way that all the employees can experience happiness. He says that helping to change society for the better can fill us with a sense of accomplishment that doesn’t come from focusing purely on profits.
When top CEOs make 300% more than their workers, and include stock incentives, luxury cars, and healthy expense accounts, how can balance truly be upheld?
When the world’s top 3,000 firms are responsible for over $2.2 trillion in environmental damage, how can we find joy from nature?
When even Facebook cofounder Dustin Moskovitz, who now heads up the software firm Asana calls out the tech industry for a lack of work-life balance, how can anyone find time to practice mindfulness or meditation?
Furthermore, even loss of life is acceptable in the name of profits. The ‘business’ of war has allowed the 100 largest contractors to sell more than $410 billion in arms and military services. Just 10 of those companies sold over $208 billion – while providing the means to kill millions.
Is it any wonder employees are broke, stressed out, and burned out from a lack of balance, no connection with other people, and an incessant work flow that promises very little reward, either financial or otherwise, from their toil?
Then there is the debt-based financial system of the Federal Reserve, propping up this entire show.
But the truth is that we don’t actually need the Federal Reserve. In fact, the greatest period of economic growth in United States history happened during the decades before the Federal Reserve was created.
We also don’t need CEOs who make 300 times what their employees do, or ridiculous government policies which allow the notion of corporations as people, while ignoring the basic needs of real people.
Our courts have extended constitutional protections to the most unconscious among us, preserving a way of life that does not allow true happiness. Our constant aim for success has warped our original goal – to be happy. Isn’t that why people want more money, more power, and more ‘things.’ But as Thay says, this is a false way to attain happiness.
What this quiet Zen monk is trying to tell us is that our entire society is upside down. Our economic system protects mindlessness, not mindfulness.
He says that the primary affliction of our modern civilization is that we don’t know how to handle the suffering inside us and so we attempt to cover it up with all kinds of consumption.
Retailers peddle a host of devices to help us cover up the suffering inside. But unless and until we’re able to face our suffering, we can’t be present and available to life, and happiness will continue to elude us.
How do we change our economic policies so that all employees can be happy? It might help to look at our true goals. It might help to acknowledge the pain we’ve caused thousands of people by perpetuating war for the sake of profits. Success doesn’t automatically equal happiness, not if the definition of success only includes the bottom line.
We can measure success by our fulfillment in life, by the people we’ve been able to touch with our good deeds, or a mindful interaction, by having friends, experiencing love, being able to walk in a forest, or learn how to play a musical instrument.
Perhaps the true goal should be peacefulness instead of happiness, even. As Hanh has said,
“If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society will benefit from our peace.” This could be our new definition of success.
These Old Grain Silos Were Converted into A Unique Farmhouse
(TMU) – After 30 years, John and Judi Stuart decided to put the fast pace and bright lights of Las Vegas behind them. Searching for a change in pace, they bought 82 acres of farmland in Yamhill County, Willamette Valley, Oregon. Complete with a ranch house and three storage silos, the Stuarts had several ideas of what to do with the charming property and finally settled on one idea, turning Abbey Road Farm into a bed and breakfast – and that’s exactly what they did.
Instead of starting from scratch, they used what was already on the farm, in this case it was three grain silos, and transformed them into several guest bedrooms and an event center, with amazing results!
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John spent his childhood in the countryside of England and other parts of Europe, and life was simple. When the couple visited Oregon, John realized that was where he wanted to live for the rest of his life.
Abbey Road Farm felt right to the Stuarts, as if it was waiting for them, and they sealed the deal on the property in March 2003. That was the easy part, the next step was to get the business licenses and necessary permits in place.
The farm already had viable land for crops, and had two acres of orchids and Queen-Ann cherries and there was already a charming ranch house, with three round grain-storage silos behind the house.
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First, they started renovating and overhauling the ranch house, now, it’s part of the Bed & Breakfast and doubles as an events center, with the renovation of the silos next.
Turns out Yamhill County, where they live, did not allow silo conversions into living spaces, but John was not about to give up on their plan and worked tirelessly with the planning committee to seeking solutions on what was possible to do, which ultimately led to him securing approval for the silo conversions.
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Although the silos kept their outer metallic covering, the interiors are furnished with a modern Victorian style and offer every modern convenience a traditional B&B has. The central silo has a living room downstairs and a guest room upstairs while the two outer silos each have a guest bedroom on each floor.
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The outer space of the ranch house and the lower floor has been converted into a luxurious events center, with more guest rooms added upstairs, and finally, the water treatment building was converted to a shed for their farmyard materials and equipment.
The Abbey Road Farm bed and breakfast immediately became a landmark in Yamhill County and opened tourism opportunities in the community. Guest typically spend a week or more at the B&B enjoying the fresh air, long walks, beautiful views and the Oregon wines.
The Stuarts has also cultivated fescue grass seed on 60 acres of the farmland. Willamette Valley is globally popular for the production of grass seed and they also produce their own goat milk, cheese and other products from a small herd of goats on the farm.
Good news: The Abbey Road Farm tasting room was opened on the 15th of May under strict COVID-19 protocols. Please click the link to check dates, times and current regulations before visiting!
Dad’s Honest Review of His Daughter’s ‘Restaurant’ Goes Viral
(TMU) – Supporting the businesses in your community is the right thing to do, which is exactly what dad Chris Kyle recently did. Chris decided to have lunch at a new establishment, very new and very nearby. Right in his own home in fact, at Ava’s Kitchen!
Chris’ daughter Ava, owner and cook, was delighted to welcome a customer and showed him to the best table in the house, decorated with balloons and with a full view of the kitchen, from where he could watch his meal being prepared by Ava.
After finishing his lunch, Chris wrote an honest and objective review for Ava’s Kitchen on his Instagram account. Not only did he thank Ava for the lovely meal, he also mentioned the cleanliness of the establishment but was disappointed that he had to wait much longer than expected for his lunch but, on the positive side, felt sure the service would improve with experience. People loved this dad’s amusing tale recounting lunch at Ava’s and the awesome relationship between the two. Not surprisingly, the post went viral quickly.
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So I tried to support another Black Owned Business for lunch today. It’s called Ava’s Kitchen, just opened end of April. It’s a very clean establishment, but whewww let me tell you about this owner. First off, I asked why there are balloons on my chair, and it’s not my birthday? She talm’bout, mind yah business; those are Mommy’s. I been waiting on my order to get done for 45 minutes, and I’m the only customer here. She was making good progress at first, then she stopped for 20 minutes to go watch Paw Patrol. Overall the customer service could be better, but the cook is a cutie; so I’ll give her another chance. Let’s not give up on Black businesses so fast after one mistake. 💕
Chris’s captured his daughter’s personality perfectly. “Ava’s personality is absolutely amazing,” he told social media. “She is such a silly girl. From the moment she wakes up, she’s laughing, smiling, and playing the entire day.”
The duo spend usually spend their days together from sunrise to sunset. Chris explained: “As a full-time entrepreneur, I work from home which allows me to be hands-on with my baby girl daily.”
According to Chris, he was not that keen on getting the play kitchen for Ava at first, admitting that, “When my wife made the purchase, I was hesitant about spending a few hundred dollars on it.” Of course he changed his mind once he saw just how much Ava enjoyed playing with her kitchen. “It has been worth every penny. Ava is the star of her own little world when she is ready to play.”
Chris has been overwhelmed by the loving and encouraging response to their now viral post. “During these tough times, I’m glad to see our post shine bright in the lives of people around the world.”
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The Bizarre Story of the Blue-Skinned Family From Kentucky
(TMU) – The Fugates, a blue-skinned family from the hills of Kentucky has attracted and baffled scientists for generations, although their condition has now been explained as being caused by the disease Methemoglobinemia, which can make a person’s skin blue.
Members of the family are descendants of Martin Fugate and Elizabeth Smith who lived in Hazard, Kentucky around 1800. Both of them were carriers of the recessive methemoglobinemia (met-H) gene, and coincidentally, so was a nearby clan who had members that married and had children with Fugate descendants. Many of the children who have been born in this bloodline were born with met-H and had a blue skin color.
The Fugates and their condition was not known to researchers until the mid 20th century when a nurse named Ruth Pendergrass, along with the hematologist Madison Cawein III, made a detailed study of their ancestry. At the time, the family was living around the area of Troublesome Creek and Ball Creek in Kentucky.
Cawein treated the family with a substance called methylene blue, which he said eased their symptoms and reduced the blue coloring of their skin. He later published his research on the family and their ancestry in the Archives of Internal Medicine in 1964.
The last known descendant of the Fugate bloodline to be born with blue skin is Benjamin Stacy, who was born in 1975. It is said that his blue skin tone faded as he grew older, but he retained that complexion for most of his life.
In the 1980s and 1990s, the Fugates dispersed from their home region, and as a result the family gene pool became much more diverse, thus decreasing the chances that this recessive gene will return.
Dr. Ayalew Tefferi, a hematologist from Minnesota’s Mayo Clinic, says that this is an incredibly rare condition that is not usually seen in real life.
“You almost never see a patient with it. It’s a disease that one learns about in medical school and it’s infrequent enough to be on every exam in hematology,” Tefferi told ABC News.
Inherited methemoglobinemia is a rare condition, but there are a few other people who have been diagnosed with the condition. It is believed that some of these patients could have been Fugate ancestors, but searches for direct links have proven inconclusive thus far.
In addition to blue skin, Methemoglobinemia can also cause a variety of other symptoms including headache, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, poor muscle coordination. Complications from the condition may include seizures and heart arrhythmias.
This condition is not always inherited either, and can sometimes be caused by environmental factors, including medications, chemicals, or food. In fact, most cases of this condition are acquired and not inherited.
In 2008, a blue-skinned man who came to be known as “papa smurf“ made headlines after his skin color changed as a result of consuming too much home-made colloidal silver.
Methemoglobinemia can also arise in patients with pyruvate kinase deficiency due to impaired production of NADH, the essential co-factor for Diaphorase I. Similarly, patients with glucose-6-phosphate dehydrogenase deficiency may have impaired production of another co-factor, NADPH, according to Wikipedia.