I've been away a while working on myself. As a matter of fact, I spent last week fasting from all mental distraction including reading, movies, internet, TV, and music. So I certainly wasn't posting then. But my time off has been fruitful.
I've been working on my concepts of the structure of the mind including the left and right sides that I mentioned before. Part of this journey of realization brought me to the conclusion that my intellect and the products of it are not me or my identity.
Most people describe themselves as the product of what their mind has created. They also judge themselves by the ability of their intellect to do its job. Of course, because the vast majority of people's minds are running on reactive autopilot, they are also describing themselves as the byproduct of an out of control intellect.
What's more, most people label the thoughts running in their mind as themselves or as something they are creating. They are "their thoughts" that created their identity/personality. And because these reactive thoughts frequently come out as reactive talking, the words people used are also lumped together as part of their identity.
Yet the intellect is just a tool. For most people, it's also a tool that's has merely been reacting to material input since they were very young. So it's a tool that is being controlled by everything outside instead of the inner wielder. It's not us. It's not who we really are. Even its opinions and beliefs, the things most people hold dear, are not really us. They're just more conclusions the tool has come to in reaction to things people have told us or stories we've been fed by TV, media, and society.
The most efficient use of the tool is as a powerful calculator wielded by the higher, conscious mind to analyze its needs when manifesting its will. Otherwise it's just a tool of whatever sense data is being fed it, which is usually self destructive or limiting.
So now when I find my mind worrying about something or judging someone I remind myself that it's not the real me. And the train of thought slows and eventually stops because I am no longer willing to put effort into something that's not my choice or representative of what I want.
I was at work and had little to do and started reading Wikipedia's entry on the effect of Placebos.
I just thought it would be fun to read about how science views the power of the mind. And what I found was quite disturbing.
There was an entire paragraph in the article describing all the things a placebo can do. A placebo can relax muscles, a placebo can induce intoxication, etc. (It can even increase endurance, speed, and weight-lifting ability, and
the article suggests that perhaps it shouldn't be allowed in sporting
competitions. Absolutely, let's ban the power of thought from sports!) Yet it's stated that a placebo is an inert substance that is designed to convince a person to create the effect themselves. But yet there is a list of what it can do.
Correct me if I'm wrong, Science, but an inert substance can't do anything! So then clearly the paragraph should read: The human mind can relax muscles, the human mind can induce intoxication, etc. With so much staring at and focusing on something that is inert and only a trick to get the real power to act, how can a perspective such as Western Science not be at least a little lost?
There was also a suggestion that some people define the effect "as a physiological effect caused by the placebo", but a quoted pair of authorities pointed out how obviously nonsensical this is, and furthermore, went on to shockingly point out that the placebo itself might be useless and instead we might want to just focus on the patient. Talk to a patient or work on his mental issues instead of feeding him drugs - even fake ones? I'm sure they were laughed at.
I think it seems pretty obvious that if a fake drug pretending to do something does almost as much, if not more, than many actual drugs we proscribe then Science might go far if it spent some more time focusing on the mind behind the works than the outcomes or the physical tricks used to get it work.
Though one thing I also found interesting was that it explained that the placebo effect doesn't work for people with Alzheimer's because they have lost the ability to expect things. So, you can reverse engineer that and say that perhaps its our expectations that cause most of our illnesses and pain. So that if you find why we're expecting those things you could simply reverse that and teach/encourage people to expect the opposite, and you'd have healthy people.
But again, that doesn't make money.
I made a comment in a thread that I wanted to expand on. Mostly so I understand what I, myself, am talking about!
I have this strong sense lately that I am trying to unlearn most of what I was taught by society, teachers, and parents over the last 30ish years. I'm finding that the thing I felt most drawn to (the macabre, the occult) are the things I most truly identify with and enjoy. However, following the scientific path of logic and reason has only taken me further and further away from these things.
I actually had a realization a while back that part of me believed in the occult and I could even be okay believing in it actively instead of as a fictional tool if I but wanted to! Since then I'm discovering more and more how this rigid, materialistic thinking has caused me to doubt any evidence or information pertaining to occultist thought.
Little examples would be things like ghosts or auras that I could be seeing or getting glimpses of, but I've come to understand that my mind whips out the most convenient, scientific reason for even the slightest discoloration in my vision. "Must be a dust mote," "Must be too much blood pooling in my head", "I'm probably just tired so I'm seeing fake things that aren't there." But really, does every single thing that isn't physical have to be a delusion? Isn't science itself aware that we don't see on every spectrum?
For myself, the key to unlearning this has been loosening my perspective on things and opening my mind up to other possibilities. One thing struck me when I was reading a list of signs that a person is in late stage cancer and one was "Seeing hallucinations (things that aren't really there)." It seemed so simple, but struck me fiercely because there was absolutely NO suggestion that perhaps the person might just be seeing something real from a different perspective. After all, I'm sure the vast majority of science is judged from the viewpoint of a relatively healthy, breathing human being. So, how would all of those scientists know what it's like to be nearly dead? Who are they to say that what a dying person sees, things they will never see unless they're dying, "isn't really there"?
It's that hard line view of "reality" that I'm afraid I've fallen pretty far in over the years that I'm trying to break back out of and get back to a more flexible, purer mental state. Personally, all that mindset ever did was get me to become obsessed with everything I did, what everyone thought of me, and all the scary things that might happen in the future to me. And the worst thing about the logical, reasoning process, is that it convinces you that if you keep up with it, you'll find a solution. If you keep stressing about what you did yesterday, eventually you'll "reason out" the truth and be happy. But, as I've told a couple other anxiety sufferers, you got into that state by constantly thinking, you can't get out of it by doing more of the same!
Of course the hardest part of all of this is how insidious these perspectives are. They are fed to us when young and reinforced over and over until it becomes the very tool your mind and body use for their survival. So when you're ready to break free from it, there is this huge part of you telling you that you are a fool, a suicidal fool who will end up killing themselves if they don't worry constantly about what physical things might happen that you can't control.
What it really comes down to is that the left side of your brain, your reasoning, is a calculator. It's great at coming up with answers to questions posed to it. But it shouldn't run your life, and can't control a single thing outside of it, yet almost all of us have convinced ourselves that it has to and in fact is all there is.
One thing I've picked up from Eastern philosophy, which I think would greatly benefit the West, is a more positive definition of Health. In Eastern Medicine and Eastern Thought, Health would be represented roughly as a graph that looks like this:
Dead----Sickly----Feeling Bad----Nothing Wrong----Feeling Good----Healthy
Please note that is very off the cuff and so vague it makes me slightly ashamed. But, basically, an Eastern Medical specialist would be able to judge where on that line a patient fell and to encourage them (via their Chi/Qi) toward the Healthy side.
The problem with Western Medicine and Western Thought is that our definition of Health falls right around "Nothing Wrong" on the line. With maybe some hope for "Feeling Good" if you're "lucky". Western Medicine acknowledges, for the most part, that it also has no clue how any chronic diseases occur and almost any cure it offers (unless it's mending a broken limb or a life-threatening cut) is simply attacking the symptoms of something it knows nothing about. In other words, you go in with a list of things that make you feel bad, and they prescribe pills to numb or dull the negative symptoms that are occurring, with no nod toward how you got there to begin with. They may even collect your list of symptoms and compare it to a chart of other people's complaints to give it a name, thereby making themselves feel powerful and special.
At best, Western Medicine would say that consulting a nutritionist or exercising regularly (meaning, go spend money at a gym) are a solution to staying healthy. Although if you get really sick, somehow the nutritionist can't help you anymore and only more pills that are still just dulling the symptoms are the solution.
One very good example of this is Vitamin C. And as an interesting note, human beings are one of the few mammals that can't product Vitamin C naturally, yet we need it. Right now there is work that some Western specialists have done with Vitamin C that suggests that large doses of it, regularly, could greatly improve a person's life. Of course this is frowned upon by most Western science because it doesn't sound like a pill, it doesn't immediately treat symptoms, and it's cheap. In fact, what the Daily Recommend Amount of Vitamin C is is just enough for the average person to not get scurvy (which comes from a severe deficiency of Vitamin C).
In other words, the Western authorities on health say that you need just enough Vitamin C to keep you on that aforementioned line hopefully above "Feeling Bad" and ideally at "Nothing Wrong". But if someone explains that regular Vitamin C intake could make you "even healthier", Western Medicine doesn't understand that because it's not within its definition of health.
But logically, if not intaking enough nutrients makes you sick, intaking more makes you not feel bad, then wouldn't more make you feel even better? Perhaps they should suggest that people keep eating an excess of helpful nutrients, and then we'll never fall down that scale to even "Feeling Bad". But, without that definition of Health, all Western Medicine can do is keep trying to plug holes in the Health dam with just enough of what the body needs to not get sick and die right away.
I would suggest this is a byproduct of our constant surface obsession of logical, physical reasoning. If you can't see a result with your eyes (like sores go away or pain disappear), then it doesn't exist.
I for one would prefer glowing health the rest of my life and am willing to try whatever seems reasonable.
I recently watched a very interesting video on Ted.com about a brain researcher (I won't pretend to know her official title) who had a stroke on the left side of her brain and suddenly became aware of the differences between the two hemispheres when one basically shut down on her. If you're interested, the video is here:
Stroke of Insight
Her basic breakdown of the two sides of our brain is as follows:
Right Side - Sees all existence as one and uses intuition and pictures to think and feel in. It is aware only of the present moment. Blissfully happy.
Left Side - Sees itself as separate, or I, and uses stored information from the past to analyze the present moment and thereby extend predictions for the future. Easily worried and jumbled. What would be called the "monkey brain".
When I first heard about this I started realizing that the Left Side is the side that meditation and self awareness drowns out. It's the running commentary in one's head that makes everything miserable. So the goal of most enlightening paths or religions would basically be to shut off this side and favor the Right Side. Which started me thinking in a dualistic fashion wherein the Left Side is the bad side and the Right Side is the good side.
Then it hit me. The Left is not inherently bad. It's simply a tool. A computer. It runs future simulations of everything occurring in the present based on the data it's been fed. Just like that old programming adage: Garbage In, Garbage Out.
If an impressionable child's mind is fed the input that 80% of responses from other beings will be negative and judgmental, then a few years later the adult brain is going to "reason" that there is an 80% chance that anything coming from another being is probably negative and they're being judged.
In other words, the present moment is inherently neutral, and it's up to the programming of the Left Side to analyze it either in a positive way or a negative way. And this tendency is based on what data it was fed years before. So the key to gaining control of one's life would be to analyze what data has gone in and what data is false or unwanted and reprogram it.
After all, there's so much talk in self-help circles about the monkey brain rambling all the time and this just distracting you from the now. But if your biggest problem was that the Left Side of the brain was constantly telling you how great the actions you just did were and how wonderful tomorrow was going to be, would it really be that bad?
What I'm trying to say is that I owe the Left Side of my brain an apology for all the bad things I've said of it. It's only just doing its best to do its job with what it was given.
We all just need to feed it better data if we want it to give us better results.
This is a blog in response to Venger's video where he discusses his struggles with control in his diet and lifestyle. My wife and I have been working on our own, so I'm going to discuss what has worked for me.
For starters, I have the same weakness when it comes to sugar and junk food. I frequently get a strong desire, whether I'm hungry or not, to eat as much sugar and meaty junk food as I can. So, this is how I've gotten away from that:
I've utilized quite a bit of self awareness with this.
First off, considering quantity: Every time I eat I pay attention to my body to see if my body wants me to keep eating. I've found that I tend to tune out my body's responses and force myself to keep eating because some part of me just wants to eat the food. I've noticed that I speed up my eating at this point because my mechanical mind is trying to trick my body into receiving more food before the feeling of being full can stop me from eating.
Secondly, considering quality: I've discovered that while my mind tells me I want sugar and junk food, I don't really enjoy those foods. The way I analyze this is that I don't judge myself for a craving. If I think: "I want a big, fat burger", I go get it. And while I'm eating it I pay close attention to see if I really find it delicious and satisfying.
Lately, I've found meat foods (especially beef) make me feel heavy and uncomfortable. Sugary foods make me feel acidic and sick to my stomach.
And the best way I've found to be capable of awareness with what I'm eating (because it's easy to get lost in feeding urges) is fasting. Right now my wife and I are on a schedule of three weeks of solid food, one week of fasting. It helps to do this off and on via a schedule as at the end of our eating period we start giving in more, and at the end of our fasting period we tend to be very ready to eat food. Though the more times we do it, the less things have a hold on us.
Fasting only on water is the most extreme version of this. It makes you feel on and off crappy, absolutely terrible, because your body is sloughing off chemicals and toxins like crazy. Distilled water works the best because it has the least in it to flow through you. Fasting on juice is less dramatic/stressful, but gives much of the same effect. Just not as quickly and thoroughly.
The first three days, or so, is the worst when you stop eating. Your desire for food is difficult to overcome and your impulse will constantly be to grab food whenever hungry.
But what repeatedly fasting does is reset your taste buds. After not eating for a few days, you can intensely taste everything you eat. Heavily processed food will taste like poison. And heavy meats will be like eating cement.
All in all, I still have cravings to indulge. However, when I look at things like candy and junk food, I'm now aware that I won't enjoy them and they are less exciting to me. Now if I get the feeling I should over indulge on junk, I end up eating a lot of trail mix or fruits or something like that that isn't going to hurt my diet. And sometimes I still dip into the junk foods, and I immediately regret eating it as it usually tastes hollow and unhealthy.
Starting this path is the difficult part. You may have to fast for a shorter period to start out with.
The thing is: Your body wants healthier food. So when you pay attention to what you're enjoying or you take away food for a while, your body will quickly and clearly tell you what it desires. Which isn't pizza and burgers.
Though, in speaking directly to Venger, I'm not 100% sure how to suggest a non-food diet if you work out or regularly exercise. I go to a martial arts class once a week and I find myself desperate for some sort of sustenance after doing that and not eating. I have tried a couple protein shakes that day, along with as much juice as I want, and it tends to dull the uncomfortability. But if you're more active, you may need more nutrients.
However I think that if you try some of this you'll find soon that crappy food doesn't have a hold on you. As for Mountain Dew and sugary soda, the way I cured that a while ago was just to buy lots of water and constantly have a glass of water near me so that if I get an urge to ingest sugary things, or simply be drinking something, I have water. It's not as "exciting" as soda, but eventually it replaces the habit with something that won't harm you.
Also, fasting with juice or water is good for weight loss for anyone who is attempting this. It is pretty rapid but doesn't leave you with the same saggy skin thing that surgery and atkins-like diets do, at least from my understanding. Longer periods of fasting (which I'd suggest doing with juice at some point, unless you're crazy about dropping weight and toxins) are better for this. At this point I'm left with so little fat on me that I start getting boney and even sitting down is uncomfortable as I'm losing padding. So I'm actually considering drinking protein along with juice on my next fast to not lose too much weight.
Cora's post suggesting a scientific or supernatural explanation for her Shadow People reminded me of something I've been thinking about a lot lately.
I see a lot of people who go back and forth in their own head or with others over whether the truth of something is based in material science, subjective occultism, or any number of perspectives. And it's very tempting to do this, because if you can get behind a certain perspective you can wield the combined beliefs of everyone who agrees with you in conversation to show how correct a momentary opinion of something is.
But it seems to me that we're all just fooling ourselves with various, mechanical systems and labels. It's like that old Chinese (?) story of the three blind men touching an elephant and one believing it to be a hose, one a tree, and one a rope.
And it's only worse when the descriptions come from people who know that these descriptions are only perspectives. I, myself, fight with my various Is in my head to want to quantify something using scientific knowledge and terms, or to accept it as something with a source greater than physical that (to me) can so far only be understood subjectively.
The biggest problem is that we use labels to describe anything, inside our head, or out. So, when the true reality is just a series of experiences with no right or wrong, how do you talk about them or make sense of them without creating a system to organize them? And if you give in to the need to organize, how do you stop it from becoming a war inside and out between the semantics of made up fantasy truths?
Right now I'm becoming very intrigued by late 19th/early 20th Century occultism. I like the ideas and they ring true from everything I know. But how do I focus on that without crystallizing my thoughts into limiting labels?
So, while I was reading/trying not to nap today I had a pair of realizations. I debated whether they should be two blogs, or not, as they don't really mesh. But there really isn't enough for two. So, everyone will just have to deal with my schizophrenic topic-flop.
Firstly, I was basically sitting there and reading and feeling like going to sleep. I've mentioned this before how I've become aware that I want to sleep. So I was sort of toying with sleeping/napping while trying to stay aware of myself to see exactly what it was I wanted so much out of it. And I think I've figured out why I want to sleep. Essentially, for various reasons, it's why everyone sleeps, and it's not a deep, dark secret, but I managed to ascertain specifically what draws me to sleep.
Basically it comes down to the fact that my body is all-around tense 24/7. This clearly comes from my constant awareness and feelings of judgement and anxiety. I'm basically ready to flee or fight at any time. But it suddenly occurred to me that when I'm laying down my body is trying to sleep to simply let go. It just wants me to stop tensing it up all the time and wants a reason to relax. Truthfully, I end up being so tense that even sleeping doesn't solve it. Which is most likely why I'm tired so much.
I definitely understand this concept well as I've studied a good bit of Gigong energy work. Ignoring all the fancy movements, the main purpose of Gigong is to relax the body and let your internal energy flow freely, where it wants. The more you build up and let it flow where it desires to (which is where it is needed) the healthier you become until godhood (or whatever).
So I find the less I do of meditation and energy exercises, the more I want to sleep. In other words, at some level I'm trying to hit a release valve inside and let the energy flow in a more free manner than I'm doing while awake. And the best way my body knows how is to shut down my brain and let my body rest. Obviously many people have similar draws to sleep, but I would imagine the majority of it is for the body to get to disconnect from the ego, or the clamoring I's, and finally let itself relax.
The second realization I had was that I was aware of my thoughts and I, however briefly, watched
them turn from day-dreaming into actual dreaming. And it occurred to me that dreaming is not really all that special or different from waking thinking. From what I could tell, dreaming is just the mind's imagination suddenly disconnected from the body and the ego and allowed more free reign.
In other words, what I felt was not that something started up suddenly at the point of sleep, but that something continued on with more freedom. Given that, I would say that lucid dreaming is simply becoming consciously aware while dreaming, so that you reconnect that conscious part to the imagination/dreaming mind, and direct it as you would while awake. The difference being that it doesn't have to bother itself with stupid physical laws and morals.
Where it leads astral projection, I'm not as sure. I haven't experienced anything like this, so I don't know really what the difference between that and lucid dreaming would be. My initial impulse is to say that it's the conscious mind leading the imaginative mind around outside of the physical body using the same kind of non-physical material to pass through that imagination uses.
Anyone have any other thoughts on the dreaming subject?
There is a couple comments in The Fourth Way book where Ouspensky states that the incorrect usage of our centers creates energy drains and if we were to get them in working order we would end up with an abundance of energy. Very recently I found a gigantic energy drain of my own.
I already knew that I was sensitive to criticism and, in turn, judged other people. But just a day ago or so I noticed something disturbing. At pretty much every moment of my life I am in a constant hyper-awareness of what is being said around me. Part of my mind is paying attention to everything and everyone and what they are saying or talking about. And my awareness looks for certain things, including:
Things that I judge as mistakes.
My own name, which makes other people with my name around frustrating.
Conversations I can interject my opinion into.
And if they're my children, reasons to point out mistakes.
These things all seem to hover around being afraid that other people are judging me, giving me an opportunity to judge them (instead of myself), or an opportunity to show them that I am not judge worthy by showing my own knowledge.
This is all quite unnerving. This is something I'm not conscious of but that I'm doing ALL THE TIME. The amount of energy this must take is amazing! And it's one of the principal reason that I can't concentrate properly unless I'm in complete silence by myself, or listening to music. That way my mind won't pick up anything and my focus won't be fractured.
Though just starting to realize this has already lessened its impact. As soon as I catch myself hearing something that I get excited to respond to in some way, it now puts up a flag and I can look at myself and realize what I'm doing and stop the momentum it builds.
It also suggests why I'm physically tense all the time, as I'm basically stilling myself to try to catch what other people say, and tend to move around without a sound so that I can catch other people saying things outside of my presence. All things I've never understood the source of.
Though I am able to use this intense analysis on myself to watch my own actions, when it comes to just judging every thing I do to create more guilt, it's not helping.
And it makes me wonder how many other things the bulk of people have that they use up so much of their energy because some part of them thinks it's important to keep up!
Something I've noticed in a tangible way about my mind recently is how I can think or "know" something, but not do it completely. I think it fits with a line Venger said in his latest essay, how the mind doesn't like contradictory thoughts at the same time. I noticed this as I was analyzing a habitual thought of mine and my realization went something like: "Yeah, that's it. What I'm doing is...and not...and I should..." and then I wanted to move on.
But I suddenly realized that though my mind completed the thought originally, but when I said it "out loud" in my head, the thought came in and out like a bad radio signal. It was if one side of me simply didn't want me to fully think the thought, and basically tricked me into believing that I "knew" it by giving me a sense of satisfaction that I had come up with it to begin with.
Yet I didn't know it. And I believe that is one of the biggest obstacles that we all face in awakening or bettering ourselves. We can say we know something, a part (or one of our I's) knows it, but we aren't able to consciously tell the truth to ourselves in our mind and hold it as knowledge. So we can move our lips for hours about it, but if we tried to formulate it in our head as a decision, it would fade away and we would start focusing instead on how great we are to "know" so much.
My wife thinks I'm amusing because I'll come up with a realization and tell her it and she'll tell me that I've said the same thing before, or that she already knew it. But I realized the last time this happened, and I pointed out, that there is "knowing" and there is knowing. But now I think there is also knowing
Another way to look at it is there is "knowing" in the form of words or espoused theory, and there is knowing in the sense that one experienced the reality of something, and there is knowing
in the sense that one is consciously aware of a truth and will keep it with them indefinitely. Unfortunately the English language doesn't really give us too many options but punctuation to describe different versions of the same word. It may even be that the English language actually helps us being mechanical...
But I digress. My point is that that is very, very easy and mechanical to talk and brag about how much one knows. It's even easier for an intellectual person to tell themselves in their head that they know something. But, for everything you believe, try stating it very clearly, and slowly, in your mind and see if it comes out clear and understandable, or if a sleepier I tries to coddle you back into the false self image of yourself as the Great Knower.
Alright, so I've finally broken my fast. I went without food (except for two and a half meals last Mon/Tues) for around 8 days, drinking only water. And though I felt miserable during much of it, it was one of the best things I've ever done.
I started it because I was sick of feeling enslaved by all kinds of foods that I didn't feel I was really wanting. And even when I tried to eat again on Mon/Tues I just didn't enjoy eating, so I stopped again. The rest of the days I felt weak, ill, and my mind felt fractured and unfocused. But somehow I inadvertently found a direction within all that directionless suffering. And I do mean suffering, not just discomfort. Or at least so much discomfort that it became suffering...
I've decided that I am going to create a fictional world/miniature game with a World War 2/Lovecraft Mythos setting. The project ends up being perfect for me because I can focus on writing and fiction one day and the puzzle piece logic of miniature game rules the next. Plus, while I'm borrowing from Lovecraft's creations, I'm also going to turn a lot of his stories around and create a setting all my own, making me feel less like I'm sucking off his teet.
I'm not fully aware of how I came up with something so helpful while I was floundering around, starving, and miserable at work and home - and sleeping in bed far too much. My only thought is that it broke up my ego and mechanical mind enough that it allowed my intuition through to bring me something that I really care about. Plus, because I had to use my will power to continue the fast, the decision I came to feels more solid and conscious.
However I stopped fasting once I realized that I couldn't focus enough to do anything about my new decision, and I was sick of laying around the house, unable to pitch in on the chores. But now I'm also making better decisions with food, and starting to eat things like salads and fruit because I enjoy them in a more pure way, but still mixed with lean meat like chicken. In other words, I'm not turning vegan any day soon!
But though it was an awful experience in one regard, I would highly suggest it to anyone who feels lost or directionless. At the very least, it will show you what you can do. Especially when everyone around you keeps mechanically saying: "Wow, I could never do that. I love food too much!"
I was just listening to Venger's Blog Talk discussion with my wife (which can be found at: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/lunarwisdom/2011/06/25/the-fourth-way--a-path-to-enlightenment) and thinking about the topic of intentional suffering.
I do agree that "suffering" isn't necessarily the perfect, all-encompassing word, and I think it could be safely called "Intentional Discomfort". Since a mechanical sleep is strengthened by an increasing desire toward comfort, waking back up would be strengthened by increasing acts of discomfort. And true, if you take discomfort far enough it becomes suffering.
I believe that it depends on how asleep you are as to how far down the comfort scale your efforts need to be to work toward awakening. Many people are very, very far down the scale to the point where the slightest thought or action is wrapped up entirely in making the body and mind comfortable and avoiding any amount of discomfort. This would be people who have severe addictions that they give in to without thought, deep emotional complexes that control them, or rigid mindsets that leave no room for any contradiction. At that level, any small discomfort would be completely ignored and useless toward any sort of awakening. Only the shock of a severe amount of discomfort, i.e. suffering, would get them on anything like an awakening path.
Although at the same time someone who is closing toward awakening could also move quicker toward it by upping their discomfort to the level of suffering to get greater gains, sooner. Though I do think that the average person these days, compared to the people in Gurdjieff's and Ouspensky's time, are more primed for awakening and may need less suffering and more discomfort to have reasonable gains. I think that society and humanity itself has been going through quite a bit of suffering and purging since the late 1800s/early 1900s, making an easier way for each individual to awaken if they so desire.
Or perhaps I'm just speaking out a need to be comforted and a fear of too much discomfort!
Okay, so last Friday morning my wife and I decided to do a fast until the 4th of July cookout at my in-laws on Monday afternoon. Or rather, we decided it earlier than that, but the term of it was Friday morning - Monday afternoon.
This went well, as fastings go, although I felt like crap on Sunday. I finally looked it up while at work and found that fasting causes your body to break down all kinds of toxins that then spread through your body during the process of expulsion and can make you feel like dirt. So then I was okay with feeling bad. It was a good suffering.
Then Monday I ate a bit too much at the cookout. Not so much that if the average person looked at it they would call it a lot, but for me, and especially post-fasting, it was a lot. Then I had something like a dinner. Then I had breakfast this morning.
And frankly, shortly afterwards I just felt like I had enough of food. Part of it I think is that, without eating regularly, I was suddenly aware of the lack of nutrients in most of the food I was eating. But I also think another part is that I'm annoyed that I'm routinely eating, three-ish times a day, and sometimes gorging on desserts and other sugary stuff, and most of it comes down to a cyclic, mechanical, habit. I'm pretty sure right now that I'm not really enjoying the vast bulk of the food I eat. Nor, apparently, is my body. I'm just eating it because I've been taught to or because society says I should or because it's making someone money.
So I stopped eating food, again, after breakfast. Now I think I'm going to either fast or slowly reintroduce specific foods to see what I really like to eat, or a combination of the two. It really helps that I passed through the phase of suffering the pangs of hunger to basically reset my body so that now I can actually make conscious decisions about what I put into it. Because while in the cycle of eating I just wasn't capable of that kind of self awareness.
Now I feel like I've stepped aside and can make true decisions. Which is the ultimate ideal, as far as I'm concerned.
In line with my discussion about lying to one's self, I wanted to bring up the darker side of Belief is Reality.
At the same time that you can think positive, powerful things to shape your reality the way you want it, you can also think negative, weakening things to shape your reality in a way that you believe you don't want. But I would really like to suggest to anyone who has anything about them, anything that has happened or continues to happen to them, to honestly ask themselves: What am I gaining from this?
Because at some level we're all gaining something from everything that happens to us. Or at least one of our I's believes it's gaining something. Whether it's having an excuse to complain about how hard your life is, justifying your negative view of other human beings, or just plain old getting you out of having to do things you don't want to do.
I have definitely seen my fair share of Americans (the only ones I can really discuss) who, to all appearances are completely healthy and capable, yet are still collecting disability and sitting at home all day receiving handouts. Now, I'm not putting these people down or trying to "place blame", because really when it comes down to it, they're getting what they want. They don't want to work and they want money to appear in a check every month. So it happens. However, the mindset that they're sick and lame is going to start small, where they have to lie to themselves and others as to how bad it is or how difficult it is to get by, but pretty soon it becomes a laundry list of things that are wrong and horrible in their life. So if there is any punishment to be dealt, the imagined reality becomes its own real, punishing reality.
Yet at the same time, what those people want to believe and come true, does. It just isn't quite how they are thinking of it.
Of course the upside of all this is that each one of us has complete control of this when applying this knowledge to an awakening mind. And I would suggest that anyone who has something they feel is keeping them down really think about it, and try to see if there is some level at which this dis-ability is helping one I or another, or allowing their false identity to exist. And once you realize how it's benefiting you, you can see that it is a choice, and then you can make a conscious decision whether to continue with it or not.
It's a process that take a while, but it has to start with some self awareness and asking yourself some difficult questions. I'm certainly asking myself the same things!
I am starting to understand more and more how Ouspensky could say that we spend the majority of our time lying to ourselves. I had a realization of it today while I was laying on my couch reading. I tend to start reading during the day and then eventually start dozing and sometimes fall asleep. This annoys me as I want to spend as much time possible being awake and doing things. But I keep finding myself nodding off while reading things I want to pay attention to, which usually means I pass through a few paragraphs without catching any of it. I sometimes try to sit up more to make myself less comfortable so I won't doze.
But then it hit me today. I want to sleep. I like sleeping. The escape from the physical world that books offer me is a minor version of the escape that sleep offers me. So while I complain that I'm tired, another me is actually quite seduced by the idea of going to sleep and wasting away the day in dreaming oblivion.
Of course this is a perfect metaphor for the entire process of trying to awaken. Because, on some level, we all very much want to be asleep. It's easier. It's more comfortable. So we lie to ourselves and say we want to be awake, but really part of our mind is saying: "Yeah, but it will be so cozy to just slip back into unconsciousness."
So I started paying attention to my thoughts and found myself lying to myself about all sorts of things. Most of the time it was because I wanted something, or didn't want something, but I felt that it would be wrong to feel that way, so I cover it up with an anxious or frustrated thought/belief that makes it okay.
At work I've realized that I just want to be alone. I don't want people talking to me. So I sit on the phone hope no one calls. This makes me feel anxious because I'm hoping for something not to happen that obviously will. Then, on the calls, I'm trying to get them off the phone as soon as possible so I can be left alone with my thoughts again. This creates all sorts of other problems that are all work related and would be boring here.
All in all, I've found that I have this very strong desire to do nothing and have no one talk to me or bother me in any way. Basically, I want to be standing or sitting and completely unconscious and in a waking sleep. More so, I probably really desire to sleep and dream 24/7, if I want to be honest. So any sort of physical work, conversation, or responsibility drags me out of my desire to waste away. When I was younger, this was why I spent so much time watching TV. When I was older, it was why I spent so much time with video games. Now, I do a sort of sprinkling of both, but aware all the time that those things aren't helping me.
But somewhere, in the back of my head, is always that wish that I could just sit there all alone and have nothing expected of me. Of course I cover this want with all sorts of self delusions and beliefs.
And I'm quite sure I'm not alone. I'm betting most of America, for example, feels the same way. We'd like to sit on the couch, do nothing, watch TV, and have money thrown in our laps. (And somehow, be sexy, desirable, and fit, all at the same time.) But all that does is lull us into a mindless sleep. Which makes it very easy to sell to us and to keep us moving in the circles that benefit the few. Who are, sadly, just as mechanically chasing money as we are, just from the top of the totem pole.
The only response I can think of, for America, for people, for me would be:
I just watched X-Men First Class this last Saturday. I have to say, I really quite enjoyed it. I've gotten over the fanboy sense of needing everything to mimic every other media it has appeared in, as that's just another identification, so I enjoyed what they did with the base ideas. It looks good and the actors do a pretty passable job of portraying characters that might have been done better elsewhere. Though the White Queen is a little flimsy, personality-wise. I think the actress was picked for other
But the one thing that struck me about the movie is how I found myself starting to agree with Magneto and his philosophy. Whereas years past I would always champion Xavier's cause in trying to make peace between humans and mutants, now I was mentally nodding my head when Magneto spoke, and felt frustrated when he left Emma Frost alive at one point.
I think that with my need to apologize to everyone for everything, I've also started feeling like unapologetically following one's own beliefs is perfectly fine. Yes, other people also have the right to attempt to stop you if you appear in their backyard. But I have to say that if I was being attacked by hordes of people that were afraid of me I would be very polite about it at first, issue a couple warnings or more, and then soon I would just wipe them away before my momentum was destroyed.
I feel that we, as a society, are heading down a road of complete apologetic weakness. I think that trying to find peace is great, and should be the top priority, but there are some aspects of humanity that need to be pushed aside for any progress as they won't all go quietly.
Though I also see that it may be just the swing of the pendulum that has taken us from killing each other in worldwide wars to trying to be nice to everyone, even people directly assaulting us.
But there is a balance. And though it may not be in trying to actively destroy humanity to make way for homo superior, there are only so many bullets and missiles that can be thrown at someone before they decide to show some tough love.
...And I think it's funny when people try to put movies and videogames down as inspiring violence and hate in youth, that Justin Beiber singing "baby, baby, baby" like a little girl inspires actual young girls to viciously threaten the very life of his new girlfriend on twitter. Because, in fact, people are just drawn to want to kill each other when they get angry. Whether it's over wanting their car or their boyfriend.
So, I have an issue and I'm not quite sure what to do with it. I have a deep fixation, identification, or love of music, however you want to say it. In fact, I'm finding that my ability to create art is often tied up in music. I have trouble writing without playing music, and playing music and losing myself in it brings out my artistic side.
My only suggestion is that the music playing loudly in my mind is distracting some of my mechanical thoughts and allowing me to synch up with its emotional power and draw from a more conscious place in my mind.
Yet I have a small worry that I'm identifying too much with the music. Then again, if it works for you, why screw with it.
Right? Any suggestions?
This is a quote from Robert M. Price in the foreword to a collected Cthulhu Mythos works of Robert Howard (the creator of Conan):
"True enough[...]each major series character represented a dawning stage of personal maturation for Howard himself. He would first portray an advancement in maturity in a fictional counterpart, then begin to approximate that maturity in his own life."
This theme has also been discussed by Grant Morrison, though he refers to it as a sigil, using the Chaos Magic paradigm. Which is about where my knowledge of Chaos Magic ends.
But this is the idea: You create a work of art, and through it, transform yourself into what you desire. I am a strong believer of this as a great tool, though I've never used it myself to any effect. I also think this can - and has been - used in multiple forms of media such as painting and music. In fact, though most musical artists don't realize it (except for perhaps David Bowie) the characters they create in their music they truly become. So when Sean Combs says: "It's easy to be Puff, but it's harder to be Sean", what he doesn't realize is that he IS Puff Daddy now. Sean is a memory of a mask he wore years before.
Obviously, as this is an indicator, people use art and inadvertently create all sorts of things that they probably wouldn't choose if they had thought of it. So the key is, for those of us that desire consciousness, to use art (if so inclined) in a way that weaves a story of your own awaken.
I would also suggest that Lovecraft sculpted his own dissolution into an uncaring world of hidden monsters. So that, even though a chunk of people know of him and praise him, his creations are what is known above all else, with his own person almost completely swallowed up. Which is turn created something greater than him, and why we're all here.
So, anyone have any ideas on how to utilize this tool for themselves or others?
While I've been writing I've been realizing all sorts of things about myself that I have been completely blind to. For a while now I have seen lots of things inside myself that are mechanical that I was uncomfortable with, though I really didn't understand why. Only after studying the concepts behind the Fourth Way have I realized why they have been so restrictive to me. What's more, now I'm starting to see things that I would have never noticed that I would normally take for something helpful or reasonable, but I find are mechanical instead.
With my writing I'm seeing a lot of habits I follow that some little part of me tells me is something I "have" to do. A lot of it revolves around being salable. The idea that other people need to see certain things in my writing is so deeply ingrained that I take them as completely normal.
I've dropped some things like focusing on chapter structure and popular themes that I more consciously knew I was mechanically adding. But now I'm realizing that I feel I need to create real-life scenes and well-described physical locations and constant mentions of different sensual impressions. All things that are fine in fiction, but not something I necessarily want to write about.
I'm coming to the conclusion that these are things that I was told or read somewhere were important or good to add in a worthwhile piece of fiction. And I took that sentence or sound bit and buried deep in the back of my head where it plays over and over, forcing me to mechanically alter what I'm doing to humor it. For me, it's also a fear thing, because I worry that if I don't adhere to those rules then other people will judge me objectively as bad. And again, the suggestions aren't terrible, but if it's not something I consciously want to add to my art, then I damn well don't have to!
It's starting to make me wonder how many things that parents, teachers, and TV have told me throughout my younger years that I tucked away somewhere to become firm beliefs, when in fact they are mostly someone else's subjective crap. Now they've become my own, invisible puppet-strings, that I'm just recently noticing how they jerk my limbs about.
So now I'm working to figure out exactly what and how I want to write and live!
I was just reading: "H. P. Lovecraft's Book of the Supernatural - Classic Tales of the Macabre", which is just a fancy way of saying "a selection of stories mentioned by Lovecraft in his essay on Supernatural Horror in Literature" when I came across a realization.
I started feeling a longing for the atmosphere of the stories in the book that were written in the 1800s, so I began to wonder where it was coming from and how it was different from things written now. And, of course, when I say "now", I can only speak for what I read and view these days. But I started sensing a certain feeling of narrowness or focus in them that seems to be missing these days.
It's that sense while reading a writer like Poe that you've crawled into the head of his protagonists and are slithering along the floor of the plot, noting every pebble and pore in the surface as you go along. Unfortunately, I came to realize that it's probably a severe identification with minutiae, physical things, and human emotions that creates this atmosphere.
Whereas, especially with the invention of the Internet, I feel like a lot of art and stories these days have the constant sense of inter-connectiveness with the entire world. We all know that the entire globe could be looking at our actions if we do something too outrageous. But a hundred years ago you could stage a quiet massacre in an out of the way place and no one would find out for years. It allowed for a lot more time being spent in one's head.
In a positive vein it means that we are letting go of our egos more and more and dissolving into the mass consciousness. But I can't help feeling a sense of nostalgia for that old disconnectedness.
But I also see that this has got to be my False Personality clinging on. Yet I see that the greatest Art also seems to be a byproduct of this clinging. It's a little frustrating.
Anyone have a comment?