Chapter 196 Again, to maintain equanimity, One Must Accept “What Is”, and if we segue onto the state of education, the situation looks equally bleak.

I think one of the biggest problems in college today is that most of the professors’ main job is not to teach their students but rather publish publish publish…or perish. Many professors actually teach less than 20 hours per week. Many people do not know that their main focus is to get published in scholarly journals. It is actually a requirement for their job in order to make the transitions from assistant or associate professor to Full Professor.

The higher the level that they achieve, the less that they have to teach. If a professor doesn’t get their work published enough times, then they can’t get tenure. Many of their contracts don’t even count the summer sessions as part of their school year. Many professors that work during the summer are actually doing it for extra money, because they use this time to research subjects that they would like to see published at a later date. Until the teaching of the students are the main focus, a college degree is nothing more than a piece of paper.

In fact, so many people now have a college degree that having one is almost meaningless and lacks any efficacy in the real world.  Especially so when one majors in low demand subjects like English or Communications, or West Russian History…The hamster wheel of American higher education went off track a long time ago. Pay the ever increasing tuition (tuitions continue to inflate well past the nominal inflation rate), spend four years engaged in largely inapplicable study (unless you include drinking beer and going to frat parties), then you’re off to the workforce with a mostly useless paper in hand.  Unfortunately, and too late, and many thousands of dollars already spent…that’s when your true education finally begins.

You were so used to being “special” and feeling smart and not failing.  Teachers were so afraid to give lower grades because then the parents would threaten to sue.  A “B” grade by many was considered a horrible grade.  Everyone in American education was a winner…even as we fell behind all the other industrialized nations in the key areas of math and science.

For the students, bright and eager, they were to get their real learning.  Tough love…You get into the real world where your boss will finally say what needed to be said…  “Johnny, you really fracked up this project.  Get your sh*t and empty your desk and get the fargin heck out of here.”  Then the company security comes and quickly escorts you out of the office.  Regrettably, that is what our American youth will now increasingly encounter.

Our Founding Fathers were men of the enlightenment. They ran businesses, understood theology, read philosophy, wrote poetry, investigated science, mastered math.  Colleges were originally founded with the same degree of excellence.  But somewhere down the distillation of good education grew too much with bogus courses designed only to boost one’s GPA.

As the Federal Reserve printed dollars like there were no trees to be left, the value of a dollar was destroyed.  Long ago, a man could raise a family of five working a blue collar job.  But currently the prices of everything has risen exponentially.  Think of the price of gas to the price of a loaf of bread to a visit to the doctor.  Now you have to work three minimum wage part time jobs with no benefits to do the same.  And even that won’t be enough for many.  Now you need TWO income earners in the household to make ends meet.  And they will still qualify for public assistance in some form or another.

Without real jobs that pay enough wages relative to prices of necessities, the question arises, “Why pay at least $60,000 for an education (at a public college) to end up getting a minimum wage part time job paying $8.25 an hour??”  In a related news article, they interviewed some school teachers who were upwards of a hundred thousand in debt, knowing they were getting out of school looking at a $20,000 a year job.  The teachers now are increasingly stressed out, with larger class sizes and larger workloads and students with a bad attitude.  So much so that here in Chicago where I live, more than 50% of the teachers burn out within a 5 year period according to the Chicago Sun Times.

So, where does that leave the student who yearned to make a living to help people?  He/she has still college loans maybe of $50,000 still, maybe another $40,000 in graduate school loans, after scraping by on a $20,000/year salary, and is now burnt out and unemployed.  And despondent…maybe even suicidal and crazy.  (perhaps that is why so many teachers are getting into trouble with the law…as an aside, every day we read about teachers molesting their students.  Could the job stresses carry over to their broken psyches?)

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About youngkim3000

I grew up in Virginia and went to a top tier high school, being so ambitious and wanting fame and fortune like the next kid. I received good grades and then I went off to the University of Chicago where I majored in Psychology and Economics. After a brief but successful "Wall Street" career, I realized that I was not happy and left thinking that a career in the medical field would satisfy me. Then, I did some post Bac work at Northwestern and UIC, and then ended up at UIC Medical School. The problem was I was not happy there either. The structure, the repetition, and lack of being able to be free and spontaneously creative really knocked me down. Having to be subject to constant subjective evaluations sucked my soul dry. As I sought another chapter in my life, then came the financial collapse of 2008-9 which destroyed the "nest egg" and saving that I had worked so hard to build after college--which I so "identified with". I was so depressed at the loss of career and the loss of money that I fell into self pity and a deep seated depression. For weeks on end, I could not even get out of bed. I went to many doctors who could not really help me. I took so much anti-depressant medication and also self medicated with alcohol to dull my mind. One day though, I went to the public library in Niles, IL, and picked up some books on "Self-Help". I figured what do I have to lose? I was already so depressed I could barely get through a day. I picked up books by Wayne Dyer (Change Your Thoughts, Change Your Life), Deepak Chopra, Louis Hay, Ram Dass, Osho, and Eckhart Tolle (A New Earth), The Dalai Lama, and revisited my faith in Catholicism. I devoured so many books to unearth just why I was suffering so much. I learned so much about myself and realized that my deep suffering was actually a gift for me to discover myself. Simply put, those words in those books saved my life. I was taking so many drugs and my physical health was in serious jeopardy. I realized that I could not live with myself any longer, and I needed to be free. I realized...that it was my own thoughts that were making me so depressed, as was my own "life story" that I replayed over and over. I realized that my mind was busy creating negative thoughts. Thoughts are "things" and expand. I understood that you do not "normally" choose your thoughts. Just like the digestion of a meal, the mind automatically creates all kinds of thoughts whether you like it or not. Just like you do not "choose" to breathe with your lungs or "choose" to make urine from your kidneys, you "normally" do not "choose" your own thoughts. They just happen, just like digestion. And if you had a bad experience, your mind recreates the negative thoughts without your conscious consent but you are forced to relive them endless times per day. It is only through CONSCIOUS INTERVENTION that you can make your mind change course from recycling negative thoughts. This is just like your breathing. You breathe automatically, but you CAN choose to influence your breathing, you can hold your breath if you are going to dive deep in the water, or you can consciously "slow down" your breath if you are relaxing in meditation and prayer. Once I realized I did in fact have an ability to control my thoughts, I consciously redirected the thoughts to positive uplifting notions. I noted that I had built such a large ego that the collapse of it dragged me down in catastrophic fashion. A big ego is different from self esteem. Both were destroyed, but I learned to regain self esteem through positive affirmations and knowing that the negative thoughts are not reality. I was choosing definitively to live in the past via my repetitive thoughts. I was also choosing to live in an uncertain future that I painted with dreadful possibilities. I realized that if I live in the "now", the present moment, I really did not have any reason to be depressed at all. I discovered I really only live in the "now". The past and future are fictions. It is akin to a motorboat on the water on a lake. The "wake" that the boat produces is the past, my vision of the future is what I can see in front of me, but I really only exist ON the boat in the present moment. I was living my life only on the "wake" created many meters before. Soon, my self-pity slowly subsided as I learned to accept "what is" and not grasp for anything and everything that is valued by Society. I concurred that it was my own "expectations" not realized that were causing such waves of discontent. Once I dropped my self imposed sad "life story", my yesterdays, I came to my senses that there was no need to feel upset at all. That realization hit me like "a ton of bricks" and quickly lifted me out of the well, like a rope thrown down the dark walls of the deep well. I would like to share that it was only that single moment of enlightenment, a "satori" event that forever changed my life, but that was not so. It was a gradual climb out of the abyss (over about a year). I realized that my mind was like a superhighway of blazing thoughts that went through my mind over and over based on the recent past. While my "life story" was going great, I believed in those thoughts, and my ego grew such that I became arrogant and sometimes unkind. Then when my "life story" changed for the worse, I similarly believed in those new negative thoughts with the same passion (which hurt me so deeply throughout my waking hours). I noted to myself that this was why I craved so many "tranquilizers" and medicines that would halt my thoughts. I realized that I was drowning in my negative thoughts and that I was CHOOSING to believe in them. But I learned through focusing on positive affirmations, meditation and prayer, I did not need any more drugs to "halt" my mind from stabbing me to death. Through the filter of society's measure I had evaluated my own life, unable to fully realize that it was all a fiction that my mind had created. I was completely unable to live in the present before this profound awakening. My life had turned into a constant "replay" of the past, the anxiety of the uncertain future...and my destroyed ego. Because of my belief that my thoughts were the ultimate truth, I suffered so deeply... but needlessly. Once I changed the direction of my thoughts, everything changed. The way I looked at my own life changed. I realized that LIFE is not a long emergency where the one with the most toys at the end wins. I realized LIFE is something to be lived fully, and joyfully...not some series of problems to be solved. Once I realized these insights, I realized that I was the creation of my own depression. Although a devout Catholic, I am also deeply moved by the ideals of Buddhism. About Karma and "Dependent Arising"...both of which are also in the Bible (Galations 6, Do not be deceived, God will not be mocked, a person always reaps what they sow). And I was...for the better part of my life, a runaway train into disaster that I was blind to...that I had planted the seeds onto. Putting money, fame, accolades, trophies, and so forth as the ultimate end to my goals sowed the seeds of psychological calamity when the inevitable tides of change occurs in every life. A person who extols those superficial qualities dooms himself/herself to disaster. The only variable is "time". Would it take a long time to find yourself in a train wreck or a short time? It doesn't matter. What matters is how soon can you realize the truth of existence and your place in it...and rise above what Society tries to focus you to believe. Society always makes you compare yourself to others, Society never leaves you alone to just be yourself. You have to exert effort and unlearn what Society has poisoned you with. I am now doing various "work" (not holding down any soul sucking corporate job), teaching, making money through various income sources like buying items at rummage sales and reselling them through Craigslist, asking neighbors and doing work they need, trading stock options when my financial tools indicate that there is a good trade. I am not focused on any "ladder to climb" or any "prestigious career"...and I am so much happier and at peace. I'd rather be "waterboarded" that go back to Corporate America. I have also a solid equanimity, and i am OK with whatever happens, and thus accept what God and the Universe wish for me. I wish to share my newly found wisdom and hope that my story and my interpretation of my newly found contentment can benefit others and I also wish to hear similar stories of awakening. God Bless, thanks for reading my "profile" and leave me your stories of awakening. Outside somewhere is a field where all of us are the same, I cannot wait to see you there...Namaste...
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