Wednesday, October 26, 2011
All things are contained in the Here and Now. You may see something happening "over there" but it is experienced with you, right here. More specifically, the light and sound waves from the event must come to you to take the form of an experience, and since experience is the boundary of our reality, there's no escaping this locality of all phenomena. The same is true for all things occurring in the Now. The past is just an idea in your mind, that you are having now. So is the future. They are no different than any other daydream, and they can occur at no other time than the present.
The thing of it is, the present moment really doesn't exist in any quantifiable way. It's nothing but a dimensionless point, separating past from future. If you drew a timeline from one hour ago to one hour from now, you could not identify any segment of the line as the present. You could magnify the line infinitely, and you would still only find a dimensionless point of separation. Even a nanosecond could straddle it, with half in the past and half yet to be. And any attempt to grasp that point would be thwarted, as it would slip into the past before you could even begin to perceive it.
The same is true of the other three dimensions of spacetime. Here is nothing more than a point dividing forward from backward, above from below, left from right. There's no identifiable place called Here. Here and Now, the location of all existence, is just like the origin on a Cartesian graph. It's merely theoretical, a point in space with no substance.
This apparent contradiction, of all existence not actually existing, is, I believe, a problem at the very heart of seeing things for what they truly are, and it must be resolved in order find the greater Truth of existence.
Thursday, September 29, 2011
I think this has a lot to do with what we allow to capture our attention.
Your attention is always on something. And it's usually in reaction to things, rather than by willful choice, that our attention seeks it's objects out. When we are listening to someone speaking, and someone walks in suddenly, we don't stop and decide which thing is more important to focus on. We just look up to see who's coming in. This is a reaction. When our significant other speaks angrily to us, we reply in kind. We don't weight all the possible responses to pick the best one, we just snap back. It's a reaction.
And when we have our attention focused on violence, such as that seen on TV or in the newspaper, violent thoughts arise in reaction (or fearful thoughts, or thoughts of disgust). We don't decide what's coming up in our mind next, after seeing an image of a man striking his wife, or learn of a brutal homicide, or see people exhibiting divisive or hurtful behavior. We react, reasonably, with thoughts and feelings we generally consider to be negative (fear, anger, contempt, condemnation, etc.).
So, why do we focus so much attention on things that are violent, frightening, or contemptible? The news is full of stories of war, hate, killing, disease and misfortune. TV shows and movies are often tales involving violence or destructive interpersonal conflict. When was the last time you went an entire week without seeing someone killed or subjected to violence in the media? How often do you think people 100 years ago saw these things?
Now, I'm not advising that you give up your favorite shows or your access to worldly information. All I say is, if you're going to subject yourself to opportunities where these kinds of seeds can be planted within you, be aware of when you are doing so, so that by your own reactions, you do not water them any more than necessary. Awareness is the key to undoing habits of thought (Ch.1), so when you are bombarded with negative imagery, you can become detached from the chain of thoughts to follow, remain objective, and maintain an inner peacefulness.
Friday, September 16, 2011
Whose happiness do you spend all your time and energy on?
If you said, "Me!", congratulations. You're in good company (much more important than if someone else is in good company, I'm sure). We humans really do spend a lot of time on our selves. Even the most generous and giving among us still dwell on their own problems and wants the most. In fact, it frightens us when we think our happiness is unattainable, and it fills us with joy to get what we want. Life is the "Story of Me" for nearly every human on Earth, and we all sit on the edges of our seats, hoping the story will turn out the way we want.
But here's the thing: when it comes to your power to generate happiness, and relieve misery, YOU are the person you are LEAST equipped to serve. Think about it. How many times do you have to tell yourself you're a wonderful person to get the same degree of satisfaction that you would get from another person telling you this? Nothing moves us like a sincere appreciation of our self. A momentary look from a person we find attractive can have us feeling good all day, when staring in the mirror (no matter how approving the face you make) is likely to only lead to dissatisfaction, as the fear that our faults will barre us from happiness.
When we give our interest to ourselves, in other words, it only yields a tiny percentage of the happiness we get when we give our interest to others. And the thing of it is, since we all are grateful for the interest given to us (sincere interest), we generate a great deal more interest in our own self by devoting our attention to others. It's a bit counter-intuitive, really. Most of the time, the more we pay attention to a thing, the more we get out of that thing. However, when it comes to the self, we get more by diverting our attention to other selves, and forgetting ours entirely.
Give it a try, and you will see. Forget yourself intentionally for a day, and devote your attention to others. Make your priority the happiness of your spouse, your lover, your child, your neighbor, anyone but you. The satisfaction that will ultimately come to you will be more than you could ever dream of giving yourself.
Saturday, September 3, 2011
Well, unless consensus is required prior to taking some kind of action (like deciding on where to go on vacation), arguing is usually about winning. And winning is all about self-validation. In Ch. 3, I talk about the self, and how it is an idea and nothing more. That is, it is a collection of ideas that are bundled together, called "me", and are mistaken for the source of one's consciousness. However, since any and all of these ideas can change without the consciousness going away, they are not the source, but merely experiences that we choose to identify with.
When we argue to win, we create conflict in order to protect this illusion. When someone suggests that our ideas are wrong, there is a threat to self; and since self is mistaken for the source of our consciousness (and therefore our very existence) we feel instinctively obliged to defend it.
In reality, though. Nothing is defended, and nothing changes. If you are 100% successful in changing another's mind, reality is unaffected. What was the truth continues to be the truth, and your self is still just an idea. No safety or strength has been enhanced. If you fail, the same is true. However, since in all contests there is a loser, insecurity (and therefore suffering) is introduced where none existed before. This is all that is achieved by arguing: the creation of bad feelings between people.
So, before being sucked into an argument, ask yourself, as objectively as your emotions will allow, "What is really to be gained here by arguing?"
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
So what happens to us, the ones incapable of faith? Are we doomed to accept the other alternative, that once you die you go in the ground, that there's nothing more to our lives than meaninglessness, that anyone who believes in higher powers is a fool? Of the faithless I have met, there does seem to be a ubiquity of smugness at the religious "nuts" who can't accept that there's nothing there.
It seems to me that that answer to things doesn't involve any more thought than "simply accepting things on faith." To say it is irrational to believe that beliefs based on faith are irrational because of lack of evidence is true. But to believe that there must be nothing to believe in is just as irrational. The fact is, we don't have all the answers. However, there are some areas of the discussion that have been neglected.
I have tried to address these ideas in my book, "You Are God." I take a logical approach to explain phenomena in life that we all experience on a regular basis, and tie those ideas together to bring into focus a spirituality that does not require faith. It is a vision in which every person's consciousness is the same consciousness, only apparently separate, and that consciousness is what makes existence itself possible. And since there is only one consciousness, and you are conscious, that consciousness must, necessarily, be YOURS. And existence, therefore, must be your creation.
If you haven't had a chance to read it, please take the time. It's not a quick and easy read, but the time invested will transform your idea of the world and your place in it.
Tuesday, July 12, 2011
Thought is an exercise involving language. When we think about things, we do so by "speaking" to ourselves, in our minds, listening to what is spoken, then responding. And the way we structure ideas is the same way we structure language, in a Subject-Verb-Object form. For example, when you say, "I walked to the store", the subject is "I", the verb is "walked" and the object is "store."
When we apply this structure to experiencing things, it follows the same logic: "I (subject) see (verb) a tree (object)". Just "see a tree" doesn't make sense. There must be a subject to carry out the verb of experiencing, and that ends up being the Self.
Aside from reinforcing the need to accept this idea of Self, this presents another problem. It distorts the process of actually experiencing things, by superimposing a complex idea on everything we experience. Experiences aren't experiences in themselves, but rather experiences as they relate to self. This tends to conceptualize the experience pretty quickly. Instead of just taking in the moment as it comes, there is a process of identification, evaluation, and relationship creation (all ideas) to "make sense" out of the experience. Instead of being in the moment, you are lost in thought.
So, here's an idea about re-connecting with experience, either in a meditative sense or in any moment. Instead of asking yourself, "What am I experiencing?" instead try, "The experience is..." and let the attention move directly into looking, listening, etc. Treat the experience as if that's all there is, and there is no Self experiencing it. The experience is... and THAT is all there is to reality, no complex structure of ideas necessary to support it. Just the experience.