May 12, 2015

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Is God Real


I have been asking a very specific question for a while now. I asked everyone who I talked to and who showed an interest in any type of philosophical debate. The nature of the question is not deeply philosophical, although for me, it underlines something very interesting.

The question is this: If you could step into a machine, or had the power to dream anything you wanted every night and fill your dreams with absolute pleasure and ultimate happiness, but while dreaming not remember that you are dreaming, would you do it? The added parameter is that you can never again step out of the machine or dream while you are still alive.

After a while or very little thinking the person usually answers No.

That to me is very interesting for a specific reason that underlines something deeper than mere attachment of the ego. It presents a possibility of life that’s quite fascinating.

At first, the answer No is obvious, or should I say the Why someone would say No is obvious. 
Everyone is attached to their own body and their own experiences. Losing either does not seem like an inviting prospect as they are intertwined with the person’s idea of what the Self is. Losing either implies the death of the Ego, who will do anything to prevent such a thing.

But now let’s remove one parameter of the question.

Instead of having to be in the machine or in the dream until you die, you can still dream and be anything you wish. But you can do this in a single night. That is to say, in a single night you are able to live the life to the age of 60 or however long you wish. You can experience ultimate bliss and have the most fun you can possibly have. All the time. Then wake up.

For most, this will still be very daunting. This shows we’re not only attached to the physical dimension or ego, but to time as well. The two are inseparably linked, so this is actually the same attachment as before.
And yet you immediately think that, even though only one relative night will pass, you will effectively live for 80 years within the dream. You are attached to the flow of time as it is right now and to the central feeling of existence.

And yet… here comes the concept of the Hindu Brahman. Brahman is the one reality that is indefinable and unchangeable. A creative force present in all things as all things are It.

Most human beings like to give themselves to Brahman. Which means they do not like to realize the fact that they have the responsibility, or the power over oneself. And that they in fact are the only ones who can fundamentally do things in a different manner for themselves. They like to think there is a personal force out there who will protect and guide them. A force that will not let their children die. 

The question above implies why, or how all things are in fact God, and how all humans are the very same thing manifesting in countless forms, or in Hindu – Atman, which is the manifestations that we call Self in the Brahman.

Allow me to explain. If you are presented with the ability for ultimate bliss every night  – or ultimate success in the form of the Self, you will after a set of nights eventually say, “That was great!” now let’s try something else. Let’s give this a bit more of the unknown, a bit of something that would challenge me. For this you would of course need to add other minds, other Atman’s into the game, as there is no Self without the Other. 
Imagining that you have that ability, you would, instead of living only one life as before, live all the other lives as well at the same time, as you would be able to experience more in a shorter span. After each night of this, you would begin to do more and more. More challenge, more possibilities, more decisions, more minds. Until eventually, you would reach a point where things would be exactly as they are right here and now. You would reach a stage in your simulation or dream where you would have infinite possibilities, infinite potential, and infinite divergence of choice and thinking.

What would happen then? 

You would discover, after eons of doing things and through countless lives and countless different decisions,  that even though you have lived and tried an infinite number of dreams, you still have in no shape or form realized each dream, even though you have lived through billions of expressions and things to express them.

Through this living of the Atman, the Self, that which is Brahman had been manifested and performed in a play of dreams. You would dream forever, until eventually you would delight the most in forgetting that you are dreaming, and so hiding from yourself. You would delight the most in finding yourself, just as in a game of hide and seek it’s the most fun when you find that hiding rascal and announce to everyone that you have found him.

Eventually, the game of hide and seek would become so obvious – because everything would be That which Hides – that the realization that God is everything and that everything is God, would be too obvious, and still the best hiding place would be everywhere and everything.

And yet that too would become too obvious. Soon the only hiding place not obvious and truly left, would be inside the Self. Inside the very thing that is looking.

This is an awesome possibility of a God or Brahman playing at being the Self – the Self as a whole reality. Not a personal God or some king in the sky, but Everything that is pretending it’s not everything.

In this sense, God is very real, and we are all It.



Image by Jin He

May 7, 2015

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Psychosphere





Psychosphere (Noosphere); a term previously unnoticed has recently gained some traction after being mentioned in the HBO series True Detective. It is also a concept I find endlessly fascinating. As should you!

Simply put, it is the sphere of all human thought, but since thought for most implies conscious thinking only, it would be better to say "a sphere of human consciousness". Imagine a biosphere, only instead of a mix of different gasses, the psychosphere is a mix of subtle fields of thought. Which means that, unlike the noosphere, which is the sphere of human thought, the psychosphere would more easily be imagined as a sphere of human emotion, or general consciousness, instead of specific thoughts.

There is some work being done on this, a rather strange project being one of these works. It is run online and spread over an egg network, called The Global Consciousness Project. The first paragraph is indeed promising and their pages show some interesting data for those who are willing to figure out what all the numbers mean (it's not that hard):


"When human consciousness becomes coherent, the behavior of random systems may change. Random number generators (RNGs) based on quantum tunneling produce completely unpredictable sequences of zeroes and ones. But when a great event synchronizes the feelings of millions of people, our network of RNGs becomes subtly structured. We calculate one in a trillion odds that the effect is due to chance. The evidence suggests an emerging noosphere or the unifying field of consciousness described by sages in all cultures."

It's interesting how these kinds of phenomena still reside in the sphere of pseudo-psychology. Collective Consciousness, Noosphere, and even the Collective Unconscious, all of these things seem intrinsicly real, yet still remain outside science, simply because we have not yet found an apparatus that could detect them, outside the human brain.

Fascinating that we have become a species that places more trust in the results produced by machines than those of the human mind when it comes to subtle fields of thought. 
Also, what I mean by intrinsic reality is simply this: in deeper states of meditation and/or under the administration of certain psychotropic drugs, we can and will undeniably feel the presence and hard reality of this psychosphere. It can also happen quite spontaneously, and one does not need to attain a deep state of meditation or higher consciousness to become suddenly aware of this sphere. This experience, which can also be described as the experience of universal unity, cosmic consciousness, or in a slightly milder case/form, an Oceanic Experience, or even Satori, Samadhi, has remained a constant throughout the ages, yet such (relatively)* subjective experiences yet remain in the realm of pseudo science or pseudo psychology.

Why?

I wonder how many people would need to have an actual experience of this, and in how big of a collective, to make this pseudo experience pass into "reality". Science likes things that can be reproduced, it values (it) consistency, but this experience remains no less consistent than the experience of love or desire, it is simply subtler and more prone to different interpretations and labelling, and does unfortunately not happen as often. Even when it does, it is often much too quick to pass from immediate perception.

In this regard it is interesting to note how our minds always feel the compulsive need to label things. This sense is so pervasive, that in ancient Babylon, it was ruled that a thing without name is no thing at all, meaning that a thing without a name does not exist, for how could it? For this reason they actually had people with jobs to name things and put them on tablets.

This labelling of things of the without has lead us to "rediscover" stuff that had been known about for thousands of years. A new name makes it feel almost as if it is new. For instance, the Collective Consciousness was already talked about in the Bhagavad Gita, a text thousands of years old with a basis even older than that, yet put a new name on a concept, a name like psychosphere (which does sound cooler, doesn't it?), and this becomes a new idea for those less aware of its origin and of other terms meaning the same thing.

But this rediscovering is good. The name doesn't really matter as long as we are talking about the same thing. Most would call it God, and at the same time cringe at the term Collective Consciousness. Some would make differences between the Collective Consciousness and the Collective Unconscious. But really, they are all one - multiple terms for the same basic thing.


Building machines to understand consciousness is like trying to understand a philosophical thought through the workings of a computer. We forget that we already possess the best tool to understand consciousness.


This term and what it implies is of course nothing new, countless books have been written on this subject, and now, slowly over the past century, physicists have been rediscovering the basic principles of unity which many spiritual texts of the world talk about (although some more directly than others). It is simply the language, the labels that have been altered.

For instance, there is now an emergence of a belief that there needs to be a wholly new outlook on what makes everything we inhabit. That if one truly wishes to understand the nature of things, one cannot understand them fully with the current system of science, because when you go deeper in reality, deeper into the core where all reality emanates from, one finds that the principles that make science understandable simply do not apply. A different set of rules govern each layer of reality, until at last you come deep enough where nothing can be separated from any other thing. 

You begin to find that, just like the sages and mystics of all times, one needs to look within and from standpoint of unity, to understand, because there is no greater tool to understand consciousness than consciousness. It is made so that it may understand itself, it delights in this, because understanding that deepest self means understanding the very universe out of which if fazes into its three dimensions. Instead of crude matter which we can see and touch and feel, instead of energy in the form of force and other more subtler forces, there is only consciousness. Precipitated consciousness, manifesting in different forms, most of which wholly contingent upon the observer.

A good talk and much more detail on this can be found on youtube, a presentation from a perspective of a field theorist, Dr.John Hagelin.


*[the reason why I added relatively is because there seems to be a confusion as to why something remains relative, even if there are countless beings who have had an identical experience. The imprints received while having the experience differed, yet a fact that it happened and that it shared the same basic principles for all individuals cannot be denied.]

(Images Orbital Mechanics Complexity Graphics - Tatiana Plakhova)

Apr 22, 2015

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The Illusion of Duality


It has become popular to think that we are not bodies occupying space, but souls occupying bodies.
The difference in each line of thinking brings forth a belief about the individual Self and what he or she is, or is not. Both may serve to divide the human psyche in the same manner, and trick the mind into thinking there is a duality between the two. Both have their own traps.

On one hand, the more prevalent way of thought remains what is perceived as the more logical. It goes something like this: We are all isolated egos inside bags of skin, each with its own separate identity and mind. 
This is of course a widely supported and acknowledged idea based on empirical "fact". 
In this belief, each emotion has its roots in the brain and each function is a neurological process that goes on in the alchemy of the mind. 
The persons with these beliefs will be certain that matters outside the skin are in fact outside the skin, and are usually more concerned with appeasing the individual ego-desires. Most of the time this process of appeasing desires happens unconsciously and rarely does such an individual wonder why he or she desires something.

On the other hand, we have those who would have themselves think their way of thinking is "deeper" and less superficial. A more spiritual stance; even though when asked what spiritualism is most would not be able to explain. This line of thinking goes something like this: We are an immortal soul that is for a time trapped in this body, willingly or unwillingly - we're not exactly sure, and the ego is separate from our true or Higher Self. The source of the soul in this case, and in fact the spirit itself, is infinite, while its boundaries go as far as any thing can go. These types are usually interested in whatever esoteric teaching resonates with their personal beliefs the most. They adopt a stance already present and stick to it, most of the time believing it to be the ultimate truth. These truths and their validity are based on personal and subjective experience and specific philosophical concepts.

The two can rarely coexist if the discussion about core beliefs ever arises.
The discussion rarely remains a discussion. Instead, over the course of many or a few sentences, it evolves into defensive posturing. How soon this will present itself depends on how strong each individual belief is. Each side will not try to explain their views and attempt to understand the other, but defend their own views instead. The more this discussions progresses, the less subtle the techniques of defence will become. Eventually the two egos will attack each other directly. One will accuse the other of being too vague, abstract etc. while the "spiritualist" will accuse the "rationalist" of being too superficial, too narrow and rigid, or more likely something more offensive. Both will trigger in each-other what is referred to as Cognitive Dissonance. Both will be confronted by ideas that conflict with their perceived model of reality.

The thing is that both are wrong and right at the same time. Which is very strange, and yet not.

There is one truth which had been thought of and discovered now millennia ago. It sounds very simple, and yet few grasp its meaning. It is apt and elegant, since it has no inherent esoteric meaning, as it can be and in fact is both "spiritual" and "rational". And it is true in the same manner as is the saying "Fire burns." You may not want to experience that fire, but it will still be true. It is this: The world is Maya. Illusion. This word Maya, however, like many Sanskrit words, has a meaning that is very mouldable depending on the context.

In this case, I will focus on the two sides (rational vs spiritual - flesh and spirit) only. Of course one must not forget that there are degrees and levels as to how far a person will lean to each side of these two. Both forget that each is fundamentally a philosophical concept.

On one end, if the rationalist thinks that all experience is a process of impressions and perceptions, it is all in the mind, then the world is within, so in this sense, all illusion is inner illusion and all perceived reality is inner reality, as much as it is outer. Without the watcher, a thing cannot be watched.

In the same way, if the spiritualist believes that the soul is eternal and the body the only thing which dies, no matter how deeply one might feel connected to everything, that connection will be an illusion, a product that may show the Isness of things, yet still be illusory. 
Even if you meditate (or have an immediate and sudden perception or Satori) enough to feel the connection to everyday objects, or in fact perceive that the space between you and the object is not empty space, but that the object and the dividing space is one and the same space, and that any separation is illusory, this will also be an illusion. Because no matter how much you know that what is "out there" is also you, it will still be out there, but also as much within.

The trap for both is similar. Meaning that they both think only one of these things can be true.

This can, in most individuals, create a very puzzling duality. One may believe in the immortality of the soul, and yet is immersed in a world where all experience is sensory input and as a result the product of mind. In this sense the soul is not real and does not exist, or at the very least does not store any data.

And yet if this is true, the spiritualist might ask himself; If the soul doesn't store any data, what would  be the point of it, if all experience dies in the flesh? This thought creates a certain illusion of its own, as it triggers the same defensive mechanisms. In this case, it necessitates the belief that the soul is able to "think" in the normal sense of the mind, to feel and to experience in the same way as the mind. The soul requires this illusion for its own existence in the individual mind.

There is a Buddhist text which implies the realness of illusions, yet does not diminish them in the normal sense as we Westerners do. When we hear the word illusion, it means that in reality, a thing is not real. An illusion is a trick. But this is not necessarily so. The inherent "realness" of an illusion is contingent upon the observer. If one does not try to understand or care how a magician made that elephant disappear, once could very well say that elephant disappeared quite for real and would not be wrong.

On one end, duality may be considered an inner conflict, as both things cannot be real. Something cannot be an illusion yet at the same time real, can it?

It can, and it is.

It becomes a conflict when two illusions that are contradictory find their place in the mind, or when one illusory view does not admit, or permit the existence of another.

The rationalist will point out that all happens in the mind. Therefore, for this person, the thinking that it is all in the mind most definitely cannot be an illusion. And yet all the spiritualist really has to contradict this is personal, subjective experience, which is itself illusory, and yet is just as real as the thought that something cannot be an illusion. A rationalist would never be able to explain how an electrical signal in the mind can produce a complex thought. They will tell you what happens, what signals you get and how, and what specific areas are firing in your mind, but not how you are able to interpret them and form thoughts. In the same way, a spiritualist will not be able to explain how he or she feels something and where that subtle input came from.

On this, Valerie V. Hunt conducted a series of experiments using Electromyography (EMG) and Electroencephalography (EEG). Electromyohraphy records the electrical activity in the muscles, while Electroencephalography records the electrical activity in the brain. Of course just like any electrical activity, muscular activity has a "field" that extends around the area where this activity is cantered, meaning that it creates a kind of "aura" of discharge that can be measured, although the accuracy of measurement drops the further one measures from the point of origin. And yet, in the same way as the subconscious registers and makes a decision before the concious mind is aware of the fact that a decision has already been made, and in most cases already acted upon, so too the results of the EMG precede the mind's awareness of that stimuli. Meaning that whatever this field is, it responds to what is outside of it sooner than the brain does. It has to e said that these inputs were not registered in the muscle first, but within the field which permeates it. The distinction is important.


This knowledge can, in a rationalist's mind, create a very strong cognitive dissonance. It can be rationalized that the muscle received the signal first, then transmitted it to the brain. And yet there was no signal in the muscle, but within the field before it was transmitted to the muscle.

The same dissonance can be created by saying that a soul does not retain any knowledge of its life. 
How the mechanisms of the soul would permit information to be carried beyond death is near impossible to rationalize even for a spiritual person, even if the basic idea is that the physical body is simply one more level of density in the human energy field.

That the soul does not carry any information upon physical death would be a very rational thing to say, since it has been proven that a mind which has undergone severe physical or even mental trauma, will not have access to skills or memories that are in specific parts of the brain that had been damaged. Why cannot the brain in these cases access soul-memory, if it exists?

Yet that does not wholly explain some of the most bizarre out of body experiences. One can rationalize them, since before death an impulse engages almost the total brain, and if that impulse is maintained, one can reach an autistic level of memory. An entire room can be imagined with the uttermost detail while one is not aware of having seen it to such a degree, let alone memorized it.

At the same time, you could just as easily state that it was the soul which has perceived this, in which you would merely be shifting to another concept of reality and subjectively be just as accurate.

To continue with this, once could state that DNA is the blueprint for the construction of the physical form, and a soul is the blueprint for the construction of the first layer of material - or a point where physical reality begins to emanate outward from the immaterial.

This idea may be difficult to accept for the rationalist, since it is not based on any fact a Westerner might accept as "fact". Especially if the spiritualist does one better, and says that the soul "chooses" into what it will incarnate. How could it? If we cannot detect it, then even if it does exist, it operates on a completely different band of perceptions than the mind, since perceptions of the mind require and depend the mind.

On the other hand, you have access to these bands of perception in subtle feelings and emotions. You perceive in bands, or spectrum. Behind this spectrum, however, is always the white light, the band of colour that has no colour. Could you then state that these subtle emotions are the perceptions of this white light before the conscious mind can label it? You could, and you would not be wrong. 

And yet all of this could be said to happen in the mind and be a case of "false thinking" or adhering to a specific philosophical concept and creating illusions to fit that concept. 

So which is true? Is the mind the basis out of which the idea of a soul is born? Or is the soul that out of which all things manifest from, including the mind? A cosmic blueprint for all matter? The latter is most definitely more widely supported by tangible evidence than the former. And yet that again depends on what part of the world you live and who you ask. Even a rationalist might say that there are no truths, only interpretations.

Both of these truths, however, are illusions, both are a play, the trap is to be caught in a specific one and deny the other. Both are just as equally valid on a personal, subjective level, and just as equally illusions. What then is Truth?

However... one could say the mind can be observed in its functioning, quantified, measured, while the soul cannot. And yet in this we dismiss the perfect and in fact only apparatus that each of us has for sensing these "movements of the soul". And that is the mind, the brain itself. We dismiss it because we do not truly understand how it functions, so we are more readily trusting of machines which we ourselves have built and know exactly what they do and how. We dismiss the mind's ability to sense things that machines cannot because we do not trust ourselves. While the brain creates duality because it itself is dual. Because it itself is Maya, an illusion, a play, a game. And yet a brain can never create something that is not already there.

Why everything is play might be explained very simply and elegantly, with a question that seems like it cannot be answered.

What is the purpose of the universe?

While the answer is different for different people and most likely not any final answer, it may explain why duality is only bad while one searches for answers that are already here, evident in you, and in fact are you.

The purpose remains two-fold, which means that it itself is dual! The first is outwards expression, outwards manifestation, and the second is inner knowledge or inward understanding. Through Doing (which in Sanskrit is called Karma) both outwards expression and attaining inner knowledge and in turn outer knowledge, the universe is expressed in its full. 
Through outwards expression it delights in itself through you in countless forms, and through inner knowledge it knows itself through countless minds and perspectives. 

There is no brain inside the spirit or spirit inside the brain. In this reality, both arise mutually, no end of one and no start of the other. Both an illusion that plays around because that is fun to do.

And yet just as there is no end of spirit, there is not end of mind either. The end of your mind is coming, the end of a personal mind is always drawing near, but even that will be incarnated again and again as countless other minds. In fact, because the soul does not retain the knowledge of its former Self in the sense which we understand memory, one can just as easily say that the same I had already been incarnated countless times, and one would not be wrong. The Ego tricks you that there is only one of it, while in fact there are many, and many more will come, yet they will all be the same I.

When you look at snow you might say, "Look at how big that snow flake is. Look how small that one is." They are separate, and yet one and the same happening.

The trap of thinking rationally is a steady and acute build-up of selfish desire and selfish need, without much heed of the fact that you are a system that is not separate from its environment, no matter how much you wish this to be, or how much you wish to escape.
You forget, if even you once knew such a thing, that in a room full of people, there are many I centres, but only one consciousness, expressing itself in many forms.

The trap of thinking purely spiritually, is that you may become ungrounded in the very basic fact that right Now, you are of flesh. You are not a something trapped inside something else, aching to be set free. Instead you are something that is free to explore that into which it has incarnated. Believing the trap to be the only totality of the universe can  give rise to a special kind of ego, a spiritual ego. Which is the same ego as before, yet has has now adapted itself to cater to the needs which you have made. By giving rise to the spiritual ego, you created a gatekeeper to keep these beliefs intact. And again you will be tricked into thinking that this is now the real you, while in fact the ego will still play in its illusion. It will ingeniously and subtly transform itself from a social construct into a spiritual construct, and will be just as much an illusion and not the real you. The real you will remain the same as it has always been, veins, muscles, skin, bones. Things that simply are.

Repressing one or the other side, denying one or the other, will cause a barrenness in each aspect of the whole.

Denying the spirit will cause one to fall out of touch with the Self. And since there is only one Self manifesting in countless aspects, understanding the Self means understanding the Whole. By denying this understanding, one may fall out of touch with any other Self but the selfish ego.

While denying the rational may cause one to fall out of touch with what is real, causing the spiritualist to slowly diminish all outward expression in which the physical delights!

And yet to balance these things, one needs to first be aware that he or she is neither a being of one or the other, but simply a being, like the sound of two hands clapping. Bang! That is it. Now. Here. Clap. Neither a physical being or a spiritual being, because both are fundamentally a philosophical concept to fit into a specific mould of reality which you find preferable. While at your core, what you really are is pure potential and possibility manifested into a single centre that you call I. A centre which is the expression of a totality - the expression of the whole energy of the universe that is one, manifesting into many, playing an illusory game of Many, while being one and the same energy.

Apr 13, 2015

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The Astral Plane





Life is geometry. Every aspect of our Self is quantified and measured, minute differences are corrected upon currents of ineffable mystery and in strange, unpredictable movements of possibility that shape us, but are not truly what makes us. The real us is on some different plane altogether, watching the shifting scale, marvelling.
Yet every chemical imbalance skews the scale and every change in vibrational structure breeds chaos, taking us further from the one who watches.
The mind's geometry thrives on balance. But rarely is such a balance reached and maintaining it is no easy task.
Geometrical patters of intrinsic value and endless possibility reach and surge through us daily, reorganizing, remeasuring, recombining and re-establishing, crashing, ebbing and flowing, annihilating upon each other.
Destroyed patters of the within show in every aspect of the without. Inner alchemy transforms the outer shell of our existence and crashes our minds against interior walls that feel insurmountable. But no geometry exists in infinity where all is but possibility, so all walls can be scaled and passed through, circumvented or tunnelled through, yet no such scaling is needed and to escape the entrapment of geometry one simply has to stop identifying with it. A thing harder for some than others.
Yet the knowledge is hidden -- the secret that everything is already there, ready to be presented and taken as the mind wills. The trick then, is to recognize what shapes and moulds your own geometrical patterns, and to allow it. A difficult thing to master.
But time is short and to ourselves, at one point or another, we had all seemed the type who will never die, a ridiculous notion, and sometimes the inevitability of our demise is what propels us faster, as though self-knowledge is a race. Instead of racing, realize that enlightenment is a moment happening through every pulse of the Now and that it surges through the Now – realize it is happening and bask in it.

[Sometimes my thoughts are laid bare and stopping them is difficult, but to stop them is not my desire, so, as always, read and interpret as you wish.]



[pictures by Emma McNally]

Apr 9, 2015

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How to Meditate

I post a lot of useless crap, so I thought I should post something remotely useful for once. 

Previously I droned on about how to meditate for a specific thing. Now I wish to explain how to meditate simply to do it.

You may have already found that your mind is difficult to direct, as the more you try to concentrate, the more you are not actually concentrating, but instead finding only your own effort to concentrate. 
You may find that you are constantly “fending off” thoughts which you deem inappropriate or useless as they interfere with what you are trying to do, or they “suck you in” and you end up thinking. 
Once you begin to look more deeply and more mindfully into your everyday thinking, you will find that most of your thought are of such nature... pretty useless.

The whole idea of meditation then is to stop this process of useless thinking. 
But stopping is not really the correct word. 
It would be perhaps be better to say that meditation is a way of allowing your thoughts to stop. 

However, how most people go about doing it is unfortunately detrimental. 
Instead of accepting the thoughts which come, they do the opposite, and do not allow them to be right where they are.
The only way to stop them in meditation or ever, is to allow them to do their thing and simply not pay attention to them.

Think of these as an annoying child pestering you, if you ignore the child, he will grow bored and go away. Your ego, who does most of the useless thinking, is that child. Of course a child you ignore might do something drastic to get your attention, and in a very real sense the ego will do the same. In this case, this drastic measures will manifest in the form of  frustration, restlessness, unease, dissatisfaction with what you are doing. All of these will jump at you, and you may feel very bored with yourself - irritated that you are sitting there doing nothing. After all, you could be checking Facebook instead. 

This is normal. 

But stopping your thinking is actually very easy to achieve, yet difficult to maintain.

First, let's try a quick exercise that will adequately portray what I mean and how the process of stopping the mind works and how it doesn't work.

Try this: close your eyes and say to yourself  (in your head or out loud), “I will watch the next thought that comes.” And then proceed to do that.

You may find that as soon as you say this and begin paying attention to what might come, nothing does. 
As long as you are actually watching, nothing will happen and for what may even be the first time, your mind will feel empty, if even for just a moment.
As soon as your mind wanders even for a small fraction from that watching, you will immediately notice that some random thought had come into your perception which may or may not be related to what you are or were doing. 

If you pay attention to your own state of being in these instances, you will notice that before the thought came, you felt much more present than later, when that thought took over. 
As soon as the thought pulled you along, you had in an instant become completely unaware as to what you were doing just half a second before. It is almost as though concentration has somehow slipped below your own mind. This demonstrates well the process of thinking, meaning that there was no correlation between the thought of “I am watching now” and “I am thinking”. Both were a happening. It is the same system that does both, only that one is less here and now than the other. You felt subtly different in each instance and strangely more alive when you were watching, instead of when you were actually thinking it. 

It does sound a bit strange, doesn't it? If the same system is doing both, how can one feel less here and now when he is thinking, than when he is simply watching? It is because the thinking you are thinking of when I say “thinking”, is compulsory, a tick. 

In those moments of watching you may have noticed that you have become more aware of your body, and that when the process of thinking began again, you felt less yourself, as you have instead become the mind-process instead – the thought.

This is just one simple exercise on what we are trying to do, and it serves well to portray inherent difficulty to try and stop the mind, as it literally has "a mind of its own". 

Before you learn to meditate on the void, meaning learning how to let go of everything and emptying your mind, it will be easier to start with a simple technique that is extremely easy to learn.


So lets start with:


1. Posture

While it is true that meditating can be done at any time, anywhere, it is beneficial for the beginner to set aside a time when he will be meditating. This begins with posture.

Go with any of the full lotus to half lotus postures. In fact, you do not even need to use any of these, but simply keep your back straight. 
This straight-backed posture might prove difficult to maintain at first (especially for longer periods) and yet it is essential for the best flow of breath (we’ll get to that in a minute). 
We usually associate discomfort with something bad, but discomfort will make sure you will not get sleepy as easily. 
As soon as you start noticing you are not sitting straight, make a slow effort to straighten your back. There is nothing wrong with moving, the point of meditation is not to be a statue. Eventually you will begin noticing that things like itching for instance does not bother you nearly as much while meditating. This effect will snowball, trust me.

2. Time

Do not try and meditate for hours. If you believe that meditating longer means you are meditating better, then the whole process has for you become an exercise of trying to get somewhere as fast as possible. Which is rather funny if you think about it, since what you are trying to do is sit still and calm your mind, so where do you need to “go”? When you get there you will still be here, now, sitting. And even should you accomplish anything while meditating, you will always feel as though you have always been there anyway.

The point of meditation then is not so much for you to reach enlightenment or some realization. These things will come or they will not. The amount you meditate might help, but that is absolutely not strictly the case, because even though you may be sitting and trying to meditate, you are not actually doing it. To meditate is to realize that the very point of it is to not get anywhere and to be completely comfortable with that, to become fully and completely at ease with what you are, where you are, now.

 
3. Breath

This is the main point and the main focus of almost every meditation technique in the world and there’s a good reason for it. 
Simply put, the breath is the best way for us to come into our own vast subconscious self. 
The breath always flows no matter what we do, it just happens and it just is. Assuming you are alive.

But we can control it as well. Subconscious thinking works the same way, the only difference between something being conscious and unconscious(subconscious), is your awareness of it and the level of your own denial. The subconscious is not some kind of No-Trespassing zone of your mind to which you have no access to...

The breath is our connection to that aspect of you life. 

Breathing is at the same time both a happening and a doing, similarly to the conscious-subconscious relation, and you are the centre of it, right now.

It is extremely rare for the everyday person to pay any special attention to their breath or the process of it, and for the most part, we forget just how great it actually feels to breathe!
The technique of following the breath works much the same way as what we previously tried with watching our thoughts come, it gives you a focus, but it is also a grounding point.

Most will try controlling their breath, and may at first find that simply watching the breath seems somewhat impossible without a sense of there being a small measure of control by the watcher. But fundamentally breath works due to gravity, so it will happen no matter what. 

So instead of trying to breathe, try to simply obverse it like this: begin by focusing on one full breath, fill up your lungs as much as you can, focusing on that air reaching every corner of your lungs. This will be difficult at first because most of the time we are used to very shallow breathing. Once you have done this, allow your breath to simply drop. Don’t force it out or try to hold it in, but like a weight just let it drop. Don’t push your breath out, let it drop on its own, much like as if you had just laid down to bed after an exhausting day. You know how good it feels to lie down when very tired, right? Focus on that every time you exhale until after a few exhales, you may find yourself growing “tired” of trying to imagine that feeling, or go on with it as you like. 

If you grow tired of trying to do it, this is good, as it can become a good exercise in letting go. Let go of that process and instead allow your breaths to come back naturally after each exhale. Don’t force it back, just let it come on its own.

At this point, you will undoubtedly start to notice all the little thoughts that come to mind. Each time you find yourself swept away by them, simply refocus on your breathing. Don’t get involved in the thought or try and force it away, simply refocus your attention back to the breath.

This may prove quite challenging at first, since it requires a measure of concentration, but it is an exercise that will allow you to eventually let go of the breath as well and let it happen without there being a chatter in your mind which drags you along.



And really, that is basic mediation right there. Try it.



  

Mar 27, 2015

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[Review] Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey

Dear god what is this. The title is so misleading that I want to slap the person who came up with it. If it was one of the pen-named authors (very most likely), well then, sir, you have mislead me tremendously!

The sheer grandeur of the title is not matched AT ALL with what goes on in this book. 


But let me tell you what this book is trying to do, at least from my skewed perspective. It is trying to be Game of Thrones typeish romp in space, and that's why, for me, it ended up being so boring. Perhaps that was not the intent, but it sure felt like it, at times it even felt like one of the authors outright copied RR's style of writing.

It may just be me, actually, fuck it, I know it's not just me, but when I read a sci-fi novel, I want mystery, grand ideas and crazy stuff happening. You can virtually do anything! And by crazy I mean STUFF THAT CAN'T HAPPEN ON EARTH. And that does not simply mean spaceships and some other bullshit.

So here we have a space-fairing race which we have become and people can live on asteroid belts and Mars, and yet almost everyone has developed this insane xenofobia? Bullshit. Why? Because the book needs conflict as it doesn't have anything else really.


When they found the derelict in the beginning of the book the scene was awesome, the foreboding was great, but what ended up happening was the most boring thing that could have possibly happened. It was like the two authors couldn't come up with something awesome...


On the other had, the book is trying to be GoT is space (to a degree), so the scene makes sense in that regard. However me understanding this on an intrinsic level gives no added value to the book.


The writing is good, it really is. It gets the job done and paints great images, but the characters are plain and uninteresting, while the dialogue mostly feels like two pilots in Top Gun shooting ZING ZING comments all the time. Well, to be fair, that one is a mostly.


Then there is the god damn damsel in distress type story which you can tell has something more behind it, but ... eh... the main characters are just not interesting and neither was the setting, it simply boiled down to these two factors for me. And considering that these were the two things that were supposed to work for this book, they failed.


Holden is an idiot.



5/10


Mar 10, 2015

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Ego and Desire



There is a kind of tradition in Buddhism for one to undergo a process of letting go of all material possessions. For a Westerner especially, this might seem very odd, as one can hardly imagine what good can be gained to live like a hermit. But there is a very strong psychological, one can say spiritual purpose, behind this practice. 
This is not something one does on a whim. It is a way of self-realization. The examination of the emotional states while the process of letting go occurs can be very interesting. Yet what is the true purpose of it?

Some tend to think that material things do not bring happiness. Yet still, they feel and know that, should they have a bunch of money, they could do the things they've always wanted to do. They could get the things they want. With this dualistic mentality, a "battle" can be created in the mind. On one end, one feels that material things are not the true source of happiness, yet he or she is still compelled to gather things and objects, because they in fact do bring a sort of contentment. But where exactly does it come from? Is one content to have the object of desire? Not exactly.

The letting go of possessions serves a deeper meaning, as with each thing you let go, you may come closer to realizing just what it is that makes you happy and content about possessing a thing in the first place.

This can go on for a while. You may end up giving everything away and being left with nothing, and still the lesson will not become clear to you. And even should you learn the lesson, what good will it do?

Most who attempt this, the ultimate desire may be to reach a state of knowing. A state of enlightened bliss where you wish to have no thing and are content with having no thing, because you may realize that no thing will make you as happy as simply being here, now. But yet it may be that, even after letting go of all the material things and being left with nothing, one is still faced with the very basic problem because of which he underwent this practice in the first place. 
After being left with nothing, one may still desire something else to happen in the mind. A sort of shift, a realization. So the fundamental issue of desire is still there. Of wanting something specific.

It should not be a surprise to anyone that the superficial mind is ruled by its own whims, wishes and desires. These desires for emotional fulfilment can manifest in the need to possess a thing or a person. This can become an intense desire too; I want that, I want her, I want him. Usually we want these things now.
But what happens when one gets the object of desire?
The person is content, for the most part anyway. However, the contentment does not come from possessing the thing, but from being free of that desire to have it! You no longer have the desire for the object or subject because you now have it. And yet most are oblivious to this trick of the ego. It has tricked you that the happiness is the thing, and not in fact the absence of another thing.

The mind and ego operate on a reward-based system. You want something, you get it, you are rewarded by feelings of contentment and a release of endorphins. This is the trick. For the contentment does not arrive from the object itself, but from the absence of desire - a state of brief freedom.

The most basic analogy is the consuming of drugs. Most would have you think that it is the reward system of the ego and the release of dopamine which is in itself the reward that makes the user crave and seek out these substances. But it goes deeper than that. For in that moment, while it may feel excitingly excellent, in that moment, you are free of the desire which binds you to a certain substance or the abuse of it. You are in the moment, free of that desire. Never mind that you are high, for that is completely beside the point.

You might, however, say that the object is happiness, for it can bring you joy not just when you get it, but later as well. But if one examines how long this "happiness" actually lasts, he or she is quickly confronted with the truth that contentment lasts for as long as there is the absence of desire. It lasted for as long as there was not any other desire for some other thing (or the same thing) to take its place.

The object of desire is not that which brings you happiness, it is your own inner state of absence of that desire, because for however long, it may be weeks, it may be months, and it may just be minutes, you suddenly become Present. You are right there, absent of wants. This is not a happiness one feels in a dopamine rush, but a happiness one feels from contentment that stems from inner peace and stillness.

But this is still not the lesson letting go seeks to teach. What is truly behind it, is something even deeper and very simple. It is in fact so simple, that most miss it due to its very simplicity. It does not mean that one needs to renounce the things of this world as if they are bad and controlling. Not to renounce his or her own desires for things and people, but to realize that, just like the subject, the object too and the desire for it, are impermanent. That they exist in a kind of play which you are acting upon for a brief and very limited time.

Especially today, it would be rather silly for a material being to completely renounce the things of material, as one is also material. This kind of renouncement thus becomes almost a renouncement of the Self. And yet knowing this, the process of letting go, and the examination of the Self while letting go, can be very fruitful. It can serve as a tool for you to realize why you want the things which you want, and if these things are truly the things that you need.

Impermanence may teach you the ultimate truth of your own death. It is a grim lesson, perhaps, but one that can propel you to be here, now, and to enjoy even your own suffering and understand it as a nuance of existence. Being here, being you, is, after all, the only thing you will ever truly possess. Everything else, and the thought that you possess anything else, will be an illusion.