Other written works I have done
“Are You Crazy?” (Published in Ottawa Natural Magazine, October 2011 issue)
Are You Crazy?
By Shawn Bent
“Cherish forever what makes you unique, ‘cuz you’re really a yawn if it goes.”
Are you crazy? Are you nuts?!
Or are you just…..different?
Bruce Lee once said that expressing oneself honestly and completely is a very hard thing to do. And he was right. It really is a tough thing for one to express his/her own uniqueness to its actual and fullest potential. This is mostly due to the way that we imprison ourselves amongst each other and how we have extensively conditioned ourselves and others throughout our lifetime. To keep it simple, peer pressure is the number one killer for pure human expression. Peer pressure and bullying are not just confined to the schoolyard and high school hallways. In fact, they are often much worse in adulthood and can have the most drastic of consequences on our personal growth.
This can draw us into that dreaded “C” word: conformity. Now, I do understand that human beings have a basic need for love and belonging. However, when we overdose on that, it can have negative and unhealthy effects. When we conform to peer pressure and cease expressing our unique selves, we are no longer our “natural” selves, but rather our “conditioned” selves. When we cease being our natural selves, we drift away from the flow of nature and lose our true sense of connection with ourselves and others. We are all a part of nature (in some way) and when we disrupt Mother Nature, she disciplines us pretty badly.
Have you ever done something that didn’t feel natural or wasn’t in your nature? If so, you will know what I am talking about. If you conform too much, you lose sight of who you are, your dreams and your outcomes. Essentially you become a robot at the bidding of a remote control, God forbid that your batteries die! You become more and more stressed, anxious, frustrated and lonely to the point where you hand over your faith, power and dignity to an authority figure, hoping that he/she will do the thinking for you. You also dumb down your awareness to a point where it is hard to access higher levels of knowledge and intuition and you become an inflexible thinker as a result. Now, all of this does not seem like much, until one wakes up to its devastating effects.
Every human being has a tremendous impact on another. We fear of what others will think of us if we dare show our uniqueness. We rarely worry about what the Prime Minister, the President or the Pope is going to think of us. Rather, we intensely and painfully worry about what our family, our neighbours, our friends, our peers and what the people down at the local bar are going to think of us.
So…why is it so important to be different, especially in the times that we are living in?
We place so much importance on going to school, getting a degree and finding a good job to the point where we forget about ourselves. Being different and expressing your own uniqueness is finding that light inside of you and turning up the brightness. People often look towards others for inspiration, especially when they cannot find it within themselves. When you find what makes you unique, love yourself for it and shine it upon the world honestly and completely, others will eventually follow suit. We are all connected to one another in some way. How do I know this? Take a good look around and you will see for yourself how we profoundly influence one another on many different levels.
Once you start expressing yourself for who you really are, you will go through a period of chaos, lose some friends and wonder why things are going topsy-turvy for you. That just means that you are evolving into something greater and more powerful. We can’t afford to be “ordinary” human beings in these times. We must be honest with ourselves and awaken to who we really are if we ever are to have any dignity, fulfill our true responsibility as human beings and to make the changes ourselves that we wish to see in the world.
If we can’t change the world, or if there really is nothing that we can do about it, then we really aren’t whom we claim we are. In this case, “being different” is just a phrase that we merely pay lip service to.
Once you discover yourself and what you’re passionate about, people will call you crazy and will often have a problem with your controversial ideas and crazy thinking.
I don’t care if you’re crazy or controversial.
Do you get results? Are you creative and bring fresh ideas to the table? Do you bring real and lasting value into the lives of others? Do you have character and do you have an intense passion for what you do? Do you help others along the way?
To really change the world and to cease becoming controlled clones, we have to scrap the “normal” and the possible and resort to the crazy and the impossible (in a good way, that is).
There has never been a better time other than now to awaken to your true self.
Be the person whom you were meant to be because you know what? No one does it better than you.
“What is Self-help?” (Published in Tone Magazine, November 2009 issue)
What is Self-help?
By Shawn Bent
What goes through your mind when you see or hear this term? For most people, they might think of affirmations, self-help gurus, the glitz and glamour of the self-help industry and perhaps the same old self-help clichés that are beaten to death over and over again.
Let’s face it: the self-help industry has literally exploded over the past 30 years. Today there are more self-help books lining bookshelves in most major bookstores. On top of that, there are more audios, more DVDs, countless gurus from all walks of life and more self-help seminars and workshops than ever before. Self-help in the mainstream is absolutely immense and the products seemingly just keep on coming. Now, all this self-help, authors and otherwise, is great and I commend their efforts on trying to help others. But there is just one thing that doesn’t make any sense. With all of these kinds of resources at our disposal, most of which is relatively easy to access, how come there are still problems in the world and with humanity “improving” at a seemingly snail’s pace?
Most people, say in the margin of about 90%, purchase self-help products and never even open the packages. Most people who go to inspirational seminars and workshops do leave motivated and high on life – all for about 15 minutes. Of the people who do actually crack open their self-help books, only a small percentage actually benefit fully and completely from the material provided. Others follow the books step-by-step only to end up with results that are of little to absolutely no avail. These people then purchase more products hoping for an author that will tell them what they want to hear until they eventually exhaust all their possibilities. The only result that is achieved is a shelf full of self-help books collecting dust along with a fuming reader waging war against all self-help authors.
So what is “self-help” then? Why doesn’t self-help make people better and produce long-lasting results like it is supposed to? The problem is this: when you follow self-help word-for word and step-by-step like some sort of a prescription, you are not really learning about yourself, how you operate as a human being and you’re not really learning what naturally works best for you. Yes, you are learning about yourself by methodically following instructions but, unfortunately, you are learning about yourself through the eyes of somebody else. Doesn’t that kind of defeat the purpose of self-help to begin with? In addition to that, everyone is different individually and everyone is a different person form moment to moment. Therefore, no one-size-fits-all method or system can apply to everybody.
Unfortunately, most of us are not our natural selves most of the time. We are more comfortable following a particular method, system, strategy and overall, we are more content to doing what everybody else is doing in order to achieve the same results. We are more comfortable being stuck in a web of predictability and dependency rather than discovery. We know ourselves chiefly by what others say about us. Have you ever been your natural self, only to have someone physically put you down and feel guilty for being it? Have there ever been times where people always seem to make you feel like there was something wrong with you because they felt you were not “normal” or outside the “norm”?
So how do you know you are being your natural self and/or using whatever works for you? Well, if you could take yourself back to a time where you were learning something new, something that interested you. After learning the basic principles, you found that doing everything exactly the way it was dictated to be a little bit boring and predictable. Then you started feeling restless and getting sick and tired of doing the same old thing. But somewhere deep inside of you, you had an intuitive knowing that you could tweak what you were doing and then discovered something new as a result. Haven’t you ever noticed that when you performed something in a way that was comfortable for you, things went well and you got good at it really fast? Also, if you ran into trouble, you found a way to direct yourself towards a newer discovery. A little exploring and experimentation helps.
In closing, I’d like to leave you with a simple riddle and it goes something like this: What’s the difference between just merely hearing a message, accepting it to the best of your understanding without thinking and exploring the true meaning of that message?
Now you don’t have to think about that message or take it with you everywhere you go, but it can help to pause and think about it at this present moment.
Surfacing Your Inner Revolt (Published on http://mediaroots.org, January 8, 2010)
Surfacing Your Inner Revolt
By Shawn Bent
“I think we all have a little voice inside us that will guide us…if we shut out all the noise and clutter from our lives and listen to that voice, it will tell us the right thing to do.” – Christopher Reeve
After several scores of human history, contrary to popular belief, the human race as a whole is still not free. Many of us claim that we are free, but we are rather enslaved by our perishable pleasures and appetites (perishable pleasures not to be confused with engaging in your passions). We carry on the charade of freedom while deep down we are still locked in prisons of fear and ignorance – gagged, shackled and blindfolded. Is there a way out, one asks? It feels like there isn’t, and many of us tend to believe that we were made to spend eternity being slaves at the behest of a mercenary.
I am aware that many of you reading this have been through tunnels of trials and tribulations. I understand that there are many of you that want positive, peaceful and lasting change in this world, but are constantly inflamed by thoughts and emotions that dictate that nothing will change in an environment that strips you of that opportunity. I believe many of you want to rise up and live your destiny – only to find discouragement weighing down on you like a ton of bricks.
One can only endure this type of perception for so many years before the time of questioning comes: questioning of the calamity, the malaise, the resentment, the bitter and bloody rivalries. Is this all there is? Let me ask once more: Is this all there is?
I recall a scene from the popular movie The Matrix where Morpheus is sitting down with Neo in a room draped in shadows and desolation. At one point, Morpheus offers Neo two different pills: a blue one and a red one. Should Neo take the blue one, he will return to his slumber and convince himself that his calling was but a mere dream. Should he take the red one, Morpheus will then fulfill his promise to take Neo down the rabbit hole far beyond what he can imagine, in order to discover his true self and to learn the true nature of reality.
The discovery of oneself – therein lays the key. However, embarking on the journey can be a very fearful thing. Down the rabbit hole, you cannot see what is ahead and there is a surprise around every corner. Once you go deep down, there is no turning back and it is either prosperity or peril. The red pill may be bitter and tough to swallow, but it is something one must do in order to discover his/her true salvation, prosperity and destiny.
You have to leave it all behind…all the falsehoods that you have been told and raised upon – by the mainstream media, by “religious leaders”, by those in authority and perhaps your parents and peers. Your worst enemy down the rabbit hole is not the termites, not the earthworms nor the reptiles – but rather your own ego that keeps your brain in a cell.
But why is it so hard to take the red pill? Why do so many us choose to live out our lower nature and refuse to acknowledge higher levels of intelligence and intuition? Why do we approve of, or are even grateful for, our own chains, despite their fierce and intense limitations? I believe there is a big reason as to why so many of us refuse to be awakened…
It is a fear that manifests on an unconscious level.
The fear of what other people think of us.
It is more than just a simple matter of peer pressure going way beyond what you experienced in high school. I believe most people want to speak out and have an idea of how they want to go about it, only to be ensnared by fear of public opinion. It is the single, most crushing thing to the revolutionary spirit and couldn’t come at a time where dissent is needed the most.
Why is it that we promote free speech, encourage discussion and the right to be different when at the same time we slander those actions whenever they are committed by a creative, peaceful and thoughtful individual? The fact is that we create enemies amongst ourselves and most of us do not respect each other for our differences, especially when it comes to a revolutionary act. In other words, we only entertain differences established by the standards of authority over public opinion such as mainstream television shows, movies and sitcoms. It reminds me of a quote by late comedian Bill Hicks: “You are free to do as we tell you.”
We live in this dream world buying the illusion that we are free. We are rendered less inclined to question the nature of the system that we live in, by the relentless propaganda and fanfare of mainstream glamour that consistently holds our attention so. We believe that this reality is the absolute and despite any glimpse of the long-term misery and suffering it brings. So how then can we be free?
It is all about looking at the world around you – realizing what type of world we’re becoming, let alone what we already are. Look deep inside of yourself, deep down, and realize what you’re sick and tired of, what angers you, what enrages you – and get up and doing something about it. What is it you value? What change do you want to see…for yourself…and for others? Once you reconnect with your intuitive capabilities, then, and only then, will real change come into play. As Gandhi once said, “You must be the change you want to see in the world.” Doing things the other way around will have catastrophic effects.
Don’t let peer pressure win you over. Look around you. Why are so many people in debt? Why are so many people getting divorced? Why all the various health problems, including diabetes and heart attacks striking young adults? Why the rising crime? Why the gradual loss of our liberties and the mounting injustice around the world? All of these can be traced back to a peer pressure or groupthink of some kind. Every action we perform creates a reaction (or “domino effect”) in our surroundings and these reactions play out in various forums and ways. Open your mind and you will immediately notice this taking place. We are connected and the more we let our influences and egos get the better of us, the more negative change we will see expressed around us. If we wait, it will be far too late.
If you choose to not become conscious and give into the herd mentality, you’ll be taking a great risk – a risk that has consequences that far outweighs the benefits. If you want to make a difference but choose to remain idle, I must ask you: What price are you willing to pay?
What price are you willing to pay for not thinking for yourself?
What price are you willing to pay for not sending your voice out into the universe and making a creative contribution to put an end to this nonsense and tyranny on the planet?
What price are you willing to pay for letting fear run your life?
What price are you willing to pay for ignoring your revolutionary duty to stand up in the face of tyranny and injustice?
What price are you willing to pay for leaving the decisions to the elite in power, only to find months down the road that your neighbors have been grossly unrepresented and impoverished as more people die for the gain of a few people at the top?
What price are you willing to pay for giving up and walking away, letting the system get the best of you while people close to you suffer greatly as a result?
It is surprising what can happen when one person becomes enraged and starts doing something about it. Look back through history for just a moment. Who was it that changed the course of history? Was it a group, a mob or a committee? In the vast majority of cases, it was an individual who got the ball rolling and these individuals came from all walks of life. They woke up and realized, through creative insight that the system, whatever conditions they lived under, was doing humanity a great disservice – so they decided to act. They intuitively knew full well that sitting back and pretending things were okay would lead to absolute disaster.
Martin Luther King, Jr. and Mohandas Gandhi are two outstanding examples of individuals whose efforts amassed a movement to epic proportions that eventually changed the course of history forever. The individual can begin a movement but it is the group that sustains it. Martin Luther King once stated that it wasn’t him that made the Civil Rights Movement effective, it was the people – the people were the change, not some government.
It is interesting to note that Martin Luther King, Gandhi and others like them, always stood up against tyranny, not terrorism. Tyranny, often occurring on their own soil, was at the root of the problem and the only way to medicate it was to stand up with the passion and determination to change things – a determination powerful enough to move mountains. Shortly after, people followed in response.
Marianne Williamson stated this brilliantly in her famous poem Our Deepest Fear: “…and as I let my own light shine, I unconsciously give other people permission to do the same…” (my emphasis). It is your energy, the energy that you radiate out into the universe without conscious awareness, which has a ripple effect among your fellow human beings. If you really know what you need and change is burning at your core, you will automatically summon others to your cause. I know, I’ve experienced it and have seen others do the same.
We want hospitality rather than hostility.
Truth rather than trauma.
Forgiveness rather than frustration.
Serenity rather than segregation.
Reconciliation rather than racism.
Liberty rather than libel.
Peace rather than pestilence.
Ingenuity rather than isolation.
And equality rather than extermination.
You will have to endure the slander of your fellow men. But please remember that there are others out there just like you and they are there to support your efforts while permitting others to do the same – all you have to do is open your mind and your heart…and they will come.
A free verse poem that I wrote…
Bent…like the Willow Tree
Calm, grounded and relaxed
Descending upon nature with its drooping branches
Bending with the wind
Letting itself go
By allowing Mother Nature to do the work
It looks weak, but is really strong
It bends, but never breaks
It’s flexible and never stiff
It’s resilient and never defeated
It puts up with a lot of stress
Yet it remains calm, present and grounded
In even the most horrendous of conditions
For when they pass, all the other trees remain broken
While the Willow remains standing tall
By being present with every person I meet
While allowing the forces of nature to take over
I can allow my branches to droop
In order to provide shade and comfort
There are undesirables coming my way
And the burdens will be painful at first
No need to worry…it’s all a part of Nature
And no matter what the conditions
I will survive
I will stand tall
I will be resilient
I will bend
And never break
I’ll always come back stronger than ever…
Just like the Willow tree…
…that just keeps on bending…