Enjoy the Art of Being In Touch With the World

mystical forest

Human organisms are motivated by psychological drives. A psychological drive is “an innate, biologically determined urge to attain a goal or satisfy a need” (Oxford). If you are hungry, for example, wanting to eliminate or reduce the unpleasant state of hunger is what drives you.

The psychiatrist Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) theorized that we have two drives: a drive toward life—includes instinctual impulses to have sex, eat, drink and need for fun (see: Pleasure Principle)—and a drive toward death—includes anti-social behaviour, anger, aggression, hate and violence (good times).

I hate everyone

From these drives Freud theorized that personality is a system of three interconnected parts: Id (instinctual part: “Give me now”), Ego (realistic part: “No, I don’t think so”) and Superego (moral conscience part: “You should be ashamed!”).

Id, Ego and Superego are a translation of Es (it), Ich (I) and Ueber-Ich (Over-I). Id is like a horse. Ego is the rider and Superego lambastes Ego for trespassing. As your “ideal” self, Superego conforms to society and prohibits unethical behaviour (Simply Psychology).

id ego super ego

Freud saw ego as a good thing. Ego negotiates between human impulses and social standards. There are, however, other ways to look at it.

Cue music: Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros, “Man On Fire”.

As a ‘me’ ‘mine’ and ‘for myself,’ we consider ourselves distinct from the world, but if you look closely, you realize: it isn’t true.

If you want inner peace, break free of what Freud says.

Garry Shandling
Garry in high school. “It’s not the hair on your head that matters. It’s the kind of hair you have inside.”

Garry Shandling (1949-2016)—a comedian who made loneliness and self-hate funny before turning it into love for the world—said before he died (obviously):

All my journey is to be authentically who I am. Not trying to be somebody else under all circumstances. The whole world is confused because they’re trying to be somebody else. To be your true self it takes enormous work…. Ego drives the world. Ego drives the problems. So you have to work in an ego-less way. Egolessness, which, is the key to being authentic, is a battle” (The Green Room).

In spiritual circles ego is seen as an enemy and a synonym for “selfishness.”

Psychological drives operate on a feedback control system similar to a thermostat. When a need is satisfied, the drive is reduced. We relax. Eliminate a drive completely and a state of mental balance or psychological equilibrium is obtained

tragic humouros 2

When we’re calm and comfortable, that’s room temperature. When our emotional temperature changes, we feel tension and an instinctive response to potential conflict.

Some people perpetuate unpleasant states for purposes of enjoyment. They eat when not hungry, drink when not thirsty and enjoy death defying activities like skydiving and the thrill of almost dying (source).

Some people have a drive for lots of money, power, fame or whatever. Such people will experience an unpleasant state of dissatisfaction when they realize that externals don’t matter.

hungry-ghost-gaki-zoshi-arthistory

This is hungry ghost territory. This is, as Gabor Maté, M.D., said, “where we seek something outside ourselves to curb an insatiable yearning for relief or fulfillment. The aching emptiness is perpetual because the substances, objects or pursuits we hope will soothe it are not what we really need. We don’t know what we need, and so long as we stay in the hungry ghost mode, we’ll never know. We haunt our lives without being fully present” (Hungry Ghosts).

But, don’t worry. It’s normal.

As one seeks to survive in a culture of consumption and comparison in the midst of mass advertising, it’s only natural to want more than is possible. If you get hungry ghost-liketake a deep breath and ask yourself: “Do I have what I need?”

The psychiatrist Shoma Morita (1874-1938) proposed two other drives: a drive to live fully and a drive for comfort and security. Sometimes these drives are at odds.

drive

With eyes on a need yet achieved, there is anxiety and self-doubt. Such feelings cannot be avoided.  Emotions are messages.

Avoid or suppress feelings and you disrupt your ability to function. For example, if you are anxious in social situations, the inclination is to avoid them, but avoidance perpetuates a lack of confidence and the very anxiety one is trying to escape. Self-confidence comes with experience. Understand a feeling and take action if need be (source).

Some of us have drives that are difficult to satisfy. Sometimes a drive takes over and we are driven.

The question is: Where are we going?

charlie brown where are we going

Many humans—many, many humans probably (in fact)—experience a constant dissatisfaction with life. Their minds have made a judgment: Life is not the way it should be.

But why?

It could be that we experience dissatisfaction with life “as it is” because in comparison to life imagined, the life we live falls short of expectations. We try to make life match our ideal by noticing what’s wrong and making changes, but when we achieve what we want, we imagine how life could be even better. We think that once we fix what’s wrong, we’ll be satisfied, but when the “future” arrives, it’s just another dissatisfying moment.

al franken just remember you are good enough

It’s rare for people to feel a deep satisfaction with the way things are. We live as if the present moment is a barrier to the life we’d rather be living. The future we dream of never arrives and herein is the human conundrum.

Most of us live in a world of make-believe—even though we know life isn’t a fairy story. Most of us live a mundane existence in stark contrast to our make-believe world, but take heed: Reality does exist and it’s better than make-believe.

Reality is a world of opportunity, happiness and peace of mind. You might be content within a comfort zone of normal life—happy to take out the garbage, do laundry or whatever (all good stuff)—but there are degrees of happiness.

You could be only scratching the surface. Pay attention to what it feels like or sounds like to be here and now. Do this and you are taken from make-believe to a direct experience of reality. You start seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting the present in a way that you haven’t done since you were a kid.

Like Boston (the band, not the city) said, “People livin’ in competition. All I want is to have my peace of mind, yeah, whoa” (“Peace of Mind“).

Yeah. Whoa. That’s it precisely.

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THIS IS HERE! (or are you disappearing?)

disappearingThis is about “How to disappear completely” (in a good way).

Some people get the wrong idea about “disappearing.” As Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) saw it, reducing self interest leads to the “calm and confident serenity afforded by the virtuous disposition and a good conscience…” (Nineteenth Century Philosophy, p. 120).

Moreover, says Schopenhauer, “The egoist feels himself surrounded by strange and hostile phenomena and all his hope rests on his own well-being…”

alone and afraid.gif

“The good person lives in a world of friendly phenomena… the knowledge that every living thing is just as much our own inner being-in-itself as is our own person, extends our interest to all that lives; and in this way the heart is enlarged” (p. 120).

enlarged heart

“Therefore, although the knowledge of the lot of man generally does not make his disposition a cheerful one,” writes Schopenhauer, “the permanent knowledge of his own inner nature in everything that lives nevertheless gives him a certain uniformity and even serenity of disposition” (p. 120).

And, as we all know, serenity is so enjoyable.

virtuous life
See the Virtuous life of Nick Otterman.

Serenity is freedom and tranquillity is lovely. It is time once again for all good philosophers to enjoy the lighter side of being.

schopenhauerMom1
Existential Comics “Schopenhauer’s Mom”.

According to science, perceptions of time and motion depend upon the observer’s position. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, quantum mechanics, chaos theory and complexity theory all point to things being relative.

relative_failure_080514_1704If you’re a relativist, it’s not that things aren’t true one way over another, it’s just that, what’s true for you might depend upon context, laws of physics and your personal and cultural beliefs.

But for now, for the sake of something profundus—that’s Latin for “deep, boundless, and not bounded”—we set relativism and all other isms aside.

Imagine you are a marble trapped inside a three-dimensional box. 

You hover around inside this box. You see six walls and eight corners. If you move in any of the familiar dimensionsup/down, left/right and front/backyou hit a wall.

There is no escape.

marble in a cube

Now imagine your marble body “lifting” into the fourth dimension of time (as shown in ghostly red in the illustration). In this “lifting” your position remains unchanged. You don’t come near the walls. You simply elevate to a new three dimensional layer of the four dimensional space.

As you “lift” into the fourth dimension, you see your storied existence as if from a distance. You see the universe interconnecting.

This isn’t a shift to selflessnessthat is to say, you give of yourself and still see separation. This is the freedom to rest your face completely (even if it makes you look angry).

resting faceThis is a shift from first personI am living my life! We do things our way”and second personYou wait here”—to third personhe, she, it, they—with one’s self observed and observing.

From this perspective, everything is you. A child kills herselfthat’s you. Ducks in the parkthat’s you.

Begin perspective shift and self expansion (and we don’t mean a pig-out on Cheesies).

You are like a disembodied narrator describing. You can’t see through a character’s eyes, but you can imagine.

This awareness of your self as subjective and objective interconnected, pops the bubble of how you see the world.

first-second-third-person-grammar-

This is the realization that other people are as water-balloons floating in water. “I am who I am,” as someone once said. It’s a sentiment we have when we look in a mirror and think of Popeye.

This is the freedom to be what you are and will be.

Read the following instructions and then do them:

  1. Look around.
  2. Go for a walk without swinging your arms.
  3. Look at everything from the side of your eyes.
  4. Listen as if you hear something.
  5. Walk and look at the ground as if you’re 30,000 feet up above in an air-plane.
  6. Think to yourself, “This is me. This is me seeing. I see this. This, is what I see. I can see myself seeing.”

Shazam.

You shift from outside world and inside self separated to a world of here and now as perceived by the one perceiving. It is all of a thing. From a third person self-included perspective, you shift to a decentralized position. You see yourself and others as funny (in a nice way). What you see is seen and seeing

walkingincircles2.jpg

Just as Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) shifted from Earth as centre to sun followed by NASA shifting from sun as centre to a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A-star! so too can you shift from yourself as centre in space and time to a decentralized position in an imagined fourth dimension. This shift is revolutionary and quite possibly could save the world (and probably will).

Like Mike Milligan said (Mike Milligan is a character in season 2 of Fargo), “Now, ironically, in astronomy, the word “revolution” means “a celestial object coming full circle. Did you know that? Which, if you think about it, is pretty funny, considering here on earth it means “change.”

This shift is an epiphany. From a first person perspective your life began and will end. All you really know is, “I am here,” but there are two ways to look at “I am here.”

The first way is to say that an individual person is located in a place called “here.” In this, you, as a self, experience the world as separate from your body.

The second way to look at it goes in the opposite direction. The statement, “I am here,” is a statement of fact. It means what it says. It means that “I am here,” Literally. It is to see yourself in what you’re seeing. “Here” is not just a location, but everything and you’re in and of it.

I am here,” is like saying, “I am Jimmy,” or “I am bored.”… I am here.

vase face

This is the third person perspective. You switch from a world of “things” ‘out there’—positive shapes against a negative background from a single vantage point, that being, your body—to seeing the space between not as empty but as connecting. With this shift in awareness, you see yourself as the place you are seen in.

To loosen a knot one must trace a string’s path and slowly loosen things up. To loosen the knots of a befuddlement one must first be self-aware. Self-ignorance is a leading cause of unhappiness, insecurity and self-injury. (But no more.)

Today, with the resting-face of true freedom, we accept our lot in this life with humour and love for this story that we tell and are told has an ending.

References:

Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Stop Looking And Enjoy Seeing

Sky2Millions of people have provided millions of words of advice about how to live a better life to millions of people who consume that advice then ignore it completely. Nobody really wants to hear what they “should” be doing. It insults the ego. Advice can feel like criticism and advisers can look like self-serving know-it-alls (and they usually are).

As John Steinbeck said in The Winter of Our Discontent (1961), “Nobody wants advice, only corroboration.” This could be cynical—people want cherry-picked evidence to support their behaviour (see also: The Enjoyment Argument)—or it could be practical—people want facts, not opinion.

factsandopinion

Advisers in fashion, lifestyle and spiritual enlightenment industries disguise opinion in palatable platitudes like: “it is what it is”, “nobody’s perfect”, “just be yourself” and “strength is something you choose,” but such generic truisms are meaningless thought-terminators.

Rhonda Byrne made millions telling people how their thoughts create reality through the law of attraction (LOA). It’s ironic that with big money Byrne attracted big lawsuits from colleagues who said she was greedy (source). As Lily Tomlin said, “No matter how cynical you become, it’s never enough to keep up.”

pants on fire

LOA takes “mind over matter” and “the power of positive thinking” and turns it magical. Think positive, good things happen—think Lamborghini and get one—think negative thoughts, bad things happen.

quantumworld

But LOA is slippery. A child gets cancer. She thinks positive but still dies young. Is it because she didn’t think positive enough? Or is it, “Just one of those things?”

In Psychology Today (May 2016)  Neil Farber said that LOA doesn’t exist. It’s a blame the victim game but to question its validity is blasphemy to believers.

When spiritual author Eckhart Tolle (aka Ulrich Leonard Tölle) talks about a sense of presence or “beingness” that watches and about the peace of being a no self watching, 35 million subscribers to Eckhart Tolle TV paid to see his no self talking.

youthinkitseasy

When Tolle says, “the present moment is all you really have,” and, “life is the dancer and you are the dance,” it puts the pressure on. Not only might you not enjoy the present moment but you don’t feel like dancing.

When asked, “How can we drop negativity, as you suggest?” Tolle replied, “By dropping it.” 

It’s just that easy!” as they say. Strolling with Tolle is like singing “Trololo” with Eduard Anatolyevich Khil (1934-2012).

When a motivational speaker like Tony Robbins says, “We can do, have, and be exactly what we wish,” you might be disappointed if your wish to be like Tony is thwarted. If you have debts, no money and no job, what then? If your brain tumor is growing, now what?

“It is what it is,” as they say.  “Just be yourself.”

Are you a man living in a van dreaming you’re a millionaire like Tony Robbins or are you a millionaire like Tony Robbins dreaming you’re a man living in a van? (Cue: Twilight Zone Theme).

People want reality to match their wanting but reality is…reality. Like a sparrow that is regarded, “There’s a sparrow,” so too does a man get labelled as the group he’s in. He becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy from a link between belief and behaviour. Behaviour influenced by expectations causes those expectations to come true.

respect for reality

In “Grid and Group Cultural Theory” anthropologist Mary Douglas (1921-2007) put “group” (the type of group) and “regulation” (how much a group affects your life) into a chart and came up with four incompatible types of social control that mix and mingle. Look at the chart and ask yourself where you fit in.

grid and cultural theory

–Upper left is “Isolate”. Isolates attract no attention. No one asks their opinion. These are the culturally isolated—prisoners, servants, soldiers, those who are supervised, the very poor, hermits and monks.

–Upper right is “Positional”. This is a society biased towards tradition and order in which one’s role and behaviour is governed by position within a hierarchy.

–Bottom right is “Enclave”. Includes religious and cultural sects outside main society. Sects have no ranking or grading rules between members. Leaders say outsiders are evil.

–Bottom left is the “Individualist”. Extreme individualists have no group controls or regulation except for market competition. Individuals are only concerned with private benefit.

This sketch of a theory can help a person to understand and enjoy one’s species and the social and psychological manipulations of humans. When the next person speaks, see if you can hear a group talking. Within each group we conform ourselves to match other members.

Words are symbols. They’re like the brain’s “filter” for comprehending reality. Imagine standing somewhere and looking up at stars. In words you stand “here,” somewhere in the “universe,” and you look “out there,” but every time you think, “What’s beyond that?” you come up with…more words.

pendulumEach of us swings like “Bob” on a pendulum born at a point of suspension.

The amplitude (distance of a swing from the not moving equilibrium) depends on the length of your string (years lived) and energy exerted.

The trick is to let a bad time pass like unpleasant gas as you focus on a good time that was and wait for the next pendulum swing.

Geneticist Juan Enriquez said that an apple is like a computer application—it receives energy from the sun and when the input is sufficient, it executes DNA code and falls from the tree (Life Code Will Reshape Future). Imagine that you know the code and then go outside and look around. Forget politics, theories and worries and in stillness, silence and love, see “life” as purposeful, interconnected and intelligent.

Imagine that, “Only human,” doesn’t apply to you.

switch.gifInstead of seeing yourself as a “true man” with self and group affiliation who will drop bombs when deemed necessary, see the big picture and rise above human. Like the sociologist Max Weber look at what’s in your head as the way to a better life. Instead of looking for what you want, see what’s really there.

With practice you can “Click” a mental switch from feeling life is horrific to beatific. Like a time traveler in a body that remembers and predicts, you are as Manfred Mann put it, “You are the sign between the high road and the low road. You are – you are [fading]” (“You Are – I am”).

If you think of what truly is, it goes beyond reason. What truly “is” clenches you in the gut without explanation. Imagine two people living similar lives in different places. One is happy, the other isn’t and the only thing at variance is their attitude. It isn’t much, but in case you haven’t heard, “Attitude is everything.”

Summer Triangle Thru Trees

References

Taylor, K. (2006). Brainwashing: The Science of Thought Control. OUP Oxford.

 

Enjoy An Interlude

moonocean

Which of the following statements are true or false?

#1: Life itself is pleasurable. 

#2: Life is pleasurable like a Pérez Prado mambo

#3: Life is pleasurable in a pretty English cottage. mill-cottages-19.jpg

#4: Life is pleasurable in Syrian rubble. syria-crisis_boy-in-ruins-rubble_1600x500If you answered true to all of the statements, you are probably an irritant to people who find life pleasurable only on condition. To think life itself is pleasurable runs countrary to industrial desires for comfort and convenience (see also: Polarities… and Wisdom).

If you answered false to any statement, it’s probably hard to imagine finding life pleasurable in deplorable conditions.

amas-2015-jennifer-lopez-performance1Surely suffering psychologically in a Syrian city scarred by destruction and murder is not as pleasurable as having Jennifer Lopez sit on your shoulder?

And what about the guy who loves bananas but is denied? For such a one, a banana would be a pleasure beyond measure! Maybe pleasure isn’t in satisfaction but denial? Today we think about thinking and enter a no-thinking-thinking zone.

We drop in to see what condition your condition is in and in a moment of silence or as trippy water music plays, we ponder the mind where all psychological suffering begins (and ends).

whats-on-your-mind
When you open your eyes, what do you see? A world opening in seeing.

But does knowing the cause of psychological suffering stop suffering? A drug addict knows the cause of his suffering but knowing doesn’t stop him. We know we make a mess, but knowing doesn’t stop us. Knowing isn’t helping! Selfing isn’t helping! Maybe a no self would be better?

We don’t need self-reflection but self-expansion.

hiding-in-plain-sightA  truth can hide  in plain sight when you are preoccupied. Reality is obscured by how you see the world. Freedom comes when you can see your self selfthinking.

By singing “I’ve Got To Be Me” (a bill of goods to impress dames) we create a Sid Vicious circle and think our way into a “me” way of thinking where trouble begins.

falstaff
“…jovial… without anything envious, malicious, mischievous, or despicable… yields that peculiar delight… in Falstaff’s company” (source).

It isn’t about “me” or “we” thinking. It’s all just thinking.

Break free of me-thinking and sing “I want to break free!” by Queen.

In taking time to not do anything but relax and think about thinking you break free of trying to be because you already are.

Everything is a giant puzzle held together by nothing, but don’t take it serious.

Enjoy eating bananas when you can and when you can’t, c’est la vie.

Here we come to a truth, but as the mathematician Blaise Pascal (1623-1662) said, “Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth we shall never know it” (Thoughts).

Relativists argue, “all points of view are equally valid” (source), but is something true because it pleases you like a Rick Nelson chorus, “But it’s all right now. I learned my lesson well. You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself” (“Garden Party”)?

garden-party

If you are blind and someone says, “The sky is blue,” unless you know blue, you won’t know if it’s true. If someone says, “The answer is 42!” (see: answer to life, universe and everything), how do you know?

The crux of the matter is that truth cannot be conveyed to another. In the TV show Boardwalk Empire Arnold Rothstein repeated something Blaise Pascal said, “All of man’s troubles come from his inability to sit in a quiet room by himself.” In an interval without a goal, we sit quiet and let troubles go by not hanging on.

drugs

There are labels we ascribe to ourselves that become self-fulfilling. When you look at the world from within a bag of skin, whether you think the world is good, bad or indifferent depends on your way of thinking. It’s more than about having a positive attitude or being self-reflective. It’s about letting go of ego and seeing Reality.

not-a-good-signThe world you see has a thin film of personality covering it. You imagine who you are through flashbacks, inspirations and self-talk (see: Levels of Enjoyment). Self-talk comes as a voice. In comics it’s a cloud of words. On TV it’s voice-over narration like when Pete did it in The Family Guy or as portrayed in Fight Club except with swearing.

We narrate ourselves into being and the life we are leading but in so doing we don’t see reality.

When the words in your head vanish and the cartoon cloud goes empty, where do you go? Without self-talk are you animal, vegetable, or spiritual?

rodin-thinker

As long as you think of ‘me and my thoughts’ and ‘me and outside world’ there will be conflict between with no peace of mind.

We think of thoughts as train cars connected on a track puff-puffing somewhere saying, “I think I can. I think I can. I think I can” which is fine for getting to a destination but not so for enjoying.

i-think-i-canIf you want to slip out of “I-think-I-can” thinking and enjoy peace of mind, shift your centre outward like Copernicus and pick up good vibrations.

copernicus
“Those things which I am saying now may be obscure, yet they will be made clearer” Nic Copernicus.

People thought the Sun went around the Earth (a 2012 study found one in four Americans still do), until Copernicus went far out and saw the big picture.

In noticing how things are connected by nothing, in calmly breathing and heart beating, in stilling circular thinking – not doing, sitting quiet, walking across a parking lot, on a beach, up a tree, on a bus, in a store, eating a banana on the floor… in not-doing you are an integrated personality no longer conscious of having a personality! In being ordinary in reality there is tranquility.

Between thought and not trying (on occasion), a profound realization and peaceful sensation beyond explanation spontaneously arrives in body and mind like snow gently falling and all you do is enjoy enjoying.

first snow.jpg

Enjoy the Reality of Reality

gate.jpgAs Sandy Nelson put it in in the 1961 hit “Let There Be Drums,” there’s reality and there’s the reality of reality.

Reality is the beat. It’s the world as you see it. It’s not real in the dictionary sense of “occurring in fact; not imagined or supposed” because we each see the world a bit differently based on how we think about it.

For example: A couple stops to look at cows. One person is a sweet city woman (like the song). She says, “Cows! Aren’t they cute?” The second person has cow experience and says, “Yeah, they’re cute until one steps on your foot.” Same cows, different reality.

One person sees potato salad and salivates, another sees it and cringes. Same potato salad, different reality.

when potato salad goes badIt’s because we each see through a mental window of our own making. From this self-window the world is negotiated. We look for advantages. We envy. We see faults. We worry. Our world is decorated with self-created irritations and we feel different and alone within our self-made, self-identity.

umbrella

But it’s easy to break that self-window. Just slip off that self-made identity with a shrug of your shoulders. Let self-concern and opinion go quiet and you’ll look around like a baby and feel that subtle feeling. It’s a feeling of awe. You notice colours and textures more. Silence sounds more silent. You feel ecologically aware when you enter a reality that’s all too beautiful.

Shift from thinking about the world as self-interest sees it to experiencing it with your five senses plus one more: Amazement. The games Mel Tormé sang about can continue, but you don’t care (see related post: Horizons, Games, Connections & Enjoyment) because you see through the games and enjoy them for what they are.

half-car
Reality “As Is”.

Most of the time we take what we see for granted, but then, in an emergency or during a profound moment of awareness, when reality isn’t resisted or judged and it’s taken “as is,” the reality of reality hits you like a beautiful dream.

With this gentle shift in looking, you enjoy beauty, pathos and humour. You love almost everything and you enjoy humility because “you,” as you normally think of yourself in a competitive world, are gone.

30-As-Seen-On-TV

But wait! There’s more!

This can be tested. Prove it to yourself with direct experience. Every now and then stop what you’re doing and look up. Look around. Listen. That’s it. Don’t do anything. Go perfectly still like a show room dummy. Take a deep breath and observe. See yourself seeing. Notice thoughts thoughting. Watch what happens. Look at where you are and say to yourself, “I am aware.”

And you are.

Because it isn’t what you see, it’s how you see. That’s what unshaven mystics, romantics and drummers have been sayings for years. Perceiving the reality of reality is like being in a mixed quantum state of moving and not moving at the same time.

drumIn quantum theory there’s a phenomenon known as “superposition” from which it’s possible for the same particle to be doing two contradictory things simultaneously (Scientists supersize quantum mechanics).

You’re like that particle. A particle can be moving and stationary at the same time until an outside force acts on it and then in an instant the particle chooses one of two contradictory positions. Similarly, reality is perceived by you as it affects you AND you are a reality perceiving. The trick is to go into “superposition.”

ice creamThink of a time when you felt a feeling of love, of beauty, of understanding, of oneness with everything and everyone.

Sublime feelings like this come out of the blue like the sky above when you enjoy the reality of reality.

Maybe you’ve felt it while sitting alone beside a lake or while walking in a forest or while eating ice cream that you found. It’s when your senses are heightened and worries vanish.

Thurston_the_Great_MagicianIt’s like we’ve been hypnotized by a magician (our self). He snaps his fingers and says, “Wake up. Look around.” And you do. No longer is reality filtered by fear and desire. It’s direct. What you see blows your mind.

In a state of intense consciousness everything is poignantly lovely. There’s a beautiful ordinariness to everything.

Separations dissolve. There are no faults and no thoughts of self. You understand. You are free and unafraid. You do your best without thought for result and let what happens, happen.

It’s like going into a trance while walking in a forest or driving in a car at night. It’s a total presence in a moment of heightened awareness without expectation or want.

In a self-perceived reality one must be smart, tough or lucky. In this self-created reality there are sharks and dragons glorified on TV by their dollars, possessions and arrogance and there are self-righteous people looking down on others from a vantage point of belief.

The sky may be blue, but it’s not impressive to you if you’re like the old man who sees fireworks on the fourth of July in Fort Collins Colorado and says, “If you’ve seen fireworks once, you’ve seen them all.”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We let our senses go dull and interpret the world like a movie rated from one to five based on convenience and comfort, but if you want to feel something beautiful, watch opinions come and go without clinging to them like a creeper to a gate.

Enjoy the reality of reality by getting out of your way. Breathe into what is and go swimming away into the reality of reality because you already know how it ends.

Enjoy Happiness from the Periphery

happiness

One day, in searching for “happiness” on Google (as many people do), happiness appeared as a man and woman in hip medieval clothing.

Is that how you picture happiness?

Is happiness a warm puppy like Charles Schultz said in 1962? Is happiness that simple? Is it a moment of satisfaction with whatever your “warm puppy” is?

happiness is a warm puppy

Or is happiness a warm gun as the Beatles sang it in 1968? Said John Lennon, “I thought it was a fantastic, insane thing to say” (Beatles Bible).

Project Happiness” (where the science of happiness meets the art of living) says that 10% of happiness is due to circumstance, 50% comes from genes, and 40% comes from activities like forgiveness and gratitude. With practice, they say, you can make yourself happy. But what if, instead of making yourself happy, you make someone happy?

What then?

self-deceptionIt’s strange. We feel so alone. Talk to someone and there’s a gulf between. We’re a universe apart. We don’t see how the consciousness looking back at us is the same as our own. The profound is hidden in the ordinary.

To look into another’s eyes and see love and mercy reflected there is a rare happiness. We grow up forming a healthy self-image but gain wisdom by letting it go (Jung).

A self-image is developed through what we say and think about ourselves and what others say of us. If that self-image is overly negative, inaccurate, or inflated, it creates problems.

fake smile2It’s hard to see a self-image (Latin ego “I”). It hides behind opinions believed true, but if you follow the trail of emotions it leaves behind (like anger at a slight, jealousy, a need to win and so on) there you find ego. It’s a condemning voice inside your head that’s critical and blaming.

But, “Smile!” says the research. “It’s good for your brain.” (Who cares if you look insane?)

The thinking is that if you’re not happy, there’s something wrong with you. Maybe that explains why antidepressant use went up 400% in the US between 2005–2008 (Harvard Medical School).

cartoon4Too bad they don’t work – at least, according to the New England Journal of Medicine (Huffington Post, 2011).

Kirsch (2014) said, “Instead of curing depression, popular antidepressants may induce a biological vulnerability making people more likely to become depressed in the future” (Antidepressants and the Placebo Effect).

So, “What are you gonna do?” (language warning)

First, we listen to Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass play “Tijuana Taxi.” If your self-image sees you as a dancer, you will dance.

Then we search images for what “happiness” looks like.

images of happiness
“Happiness” image search results.

Happiness appears as beaches, beautiful skies, people with arms open wide at sunrise and jumping at sunset, we see ladies with balloons and a parasol soaking up sunshine and summer fields. The word “freedom” comes to mind.

Freedom: Old English freo meaning, “not in bondage, acting of one’s own will, noble, joyful” (Online Etymology Dictionary). Does freedom look like happiness?

freedom
“Freedom” image search results.

Yes it does. Again we see sunshine, that same woman with a parasol and people with arms open wide as if to fly. (Sinatra was onto something when he sang, “Fly Me To The Moon.”) The word “spirit” (as in: “happy spirits” and “free-spirited”) comes to mind.

spirit-of-love-3262Spirit: Latin “spiritus” meaning, “breathing” (life!).  Like “moo” or “BANG” such words mean their sound. Spirit is like that. It is an imitation of breathing (Online Etymology Dictionary).

An image search of spirit showed a Disney movie. Undeterred, we enter” “spiritual.”

spiritual.jpg
“Spiritual” image search results.

Again we see beautiful skies, sunshine, beaches and arms open wide. (Enya was onto something when she sang “Only Time.”

What-ifWhat if, instead of categorizing things into two opposites (either-or, self-other, good-bad, life-death, happy-sad…) we consider opposites as one process like a game of ping pong.

ping pong with willWithout ping there is no pong. Happiness (ping) goes with sadness (pong). Life (ping) goes with death (pong).

Happiness might not be about getting what you want and having a good time all the time. Happiness could be a love of life in all its aspects – pleasant and unpleasant.

kermit's discovery

A self-image is like putting on eye-glasses. As Clark Kent, the world looks different. How we think colours everything we see. Should you take off your glasses of personality, you might enjoy reality (even if it is fuzzy). Maybe that’s what a higher consciousness experience is: It’s a union with reality. You see everyone and everything as interconnected. You see beauty.

superman

When you focus on breathing, you are aware of it (in-out, in-out, repeat), but when you stop focusing, breathing continues. We are breathed in the same way that grass grows and produces the oxygen we need. It’s all a relationship. It’s all connection.

spiritual cartoon3Life is a doing. It’s happening (see the Supreme’s sing “The Happening,” 1967). We might feel isolated, but that isn’t how it is.

A feeling of happiness doesn’t depend on what you know or do. You can’t make progress in it. You can’t do anything or not do anything to get it.

Happiness comes when you are so adapted to pleasure and pain that you say, “I love it!” No matter what happens. Like the Bad Finger song, “Knock down the old grey wall. Be a part of it all. Nothing to say, nothing to see, nothing to do,” you get it because you got it (see: Bad Finger “No Matter What”).

zen cartoon.jpgLet go your eggo (aka ego) and go out there and let the universe happen as you.

Enjoy.

eggo-homestyle-waffles1.jpg

References

  1. Happiness (14th century) (Wikipedia)
  2. Beatles Bible
  3. Project Happiness
  4. How Smiling Changes Your Brain
  5. 5 Ways to Make Yourself Happier in the Next 5 Minutes (Psychology Today, 2014)
  6. Harvard Medical School
  7. Huffington Post (2011)
  8. Antidepressants and the Placebo Effect (2014)
  9. Online Etymology Dictionary.
  10. Science of Happiness

Reality And The Zone of Enjoyment

spring_time_churchyard.jpg
When it’s springtime in the  graveyard, the crocuses are in bloom (set to the tune of “When it’s springtime in the Rockies“)

Sometimes, reality isn’t so great. It isn’t everything. We want more. The world is a mess and getting messier still. Go to a zoo. You’ll see. Is it any wonder people seek escapes?

Reality is not, as they say, “a day at the beach.” Unless it is, and you do spend a day at the beach in which case the beach is probably polluted or littered with irritated egomaniacs getting sand in everything.

he loved the beach

As Tony Soprano would say, “Reality? Fuhgeddaboudit!” But Tony didn’t know about the ancient Greek philosopher Epicurus and his forty principle doctrines. Then again, even if a fictionalized TV gangster like Tony did read Epicurus, he wouldn’t get it. He’s too busy being Tony. Tony follows a script (like a lot of people).

forgetaboutit
“You know my feelings: Every day is a gift. It’s just, does it have to be a pair of socks?”

Reality is as we think it to be and people resist what they most need. We can read something smart, say, “Good one!” then go and do what we know shouldn’t be done.

To get what Epicurus said, go into a garden (real or imagined). Listen to the music of sound and look around like a child would.

An-Old-Fashioned-GardenTake a deep breath and sit calm and content without concern for those who would do you harm.

What most people don’t know – as they go around in a daze behind their wind-shield eyes – is that with a slight shift in attention, reality changes from the way we think it to be.

david puddy
Puddy staring on a plane scene.

In not doing we see what’s there. We hear what’s heard. We enjoy without expectation or defense mechanism like David Puddy in Seinfeld

Puddy is content to stare at the back of a seat. Such not-doing drives busy people crazy, but in not-doing anything you can enter a dimension of boredom beyond comprehension where everything is as it could be.

Revolver movie
“The greatest enemy will hide in the last place you would look” Julius Caesar, 75 BC.

Mental chatter is like a shadow that is, as Alexander sang of it in Truth (2011), “And everyday it’s trying to trick me into doing battle.” But the shadow battle is over when the ego con is revealed.

We go naturally good like the guy in the elevator scene in the movie Revolver (2005) who realizes that his fear is the result of lies he’s been telling himself.

broiled face
“Well, here you are” (Shell Silverstein).

In a zone of enjoyment, you can present your face to the world and say, “This is my face.”

You can be in chaos, in the dreariest or most beautiful place and it won’t matter. You’re impervious. The world is the way it is because it couldn’t be any other way. If the world could be different, it would.

We all do the best we can. When the best we can isn’t good, it’s because we couldn’t do better. If we could, we would. Reality is revealed by what we do. Potential is only imagined. When someone does something stupid, selfish, cruel or rude, they did what they did because they thought they should.

rocket lady small
Hope rockets eternal.

Epicurus (341-270 BC) said, “It is impossible to live a pleasant life without living wisely and honourably and justly, and it is impossible to live wisely and honourably and justly without living pleasantly. Whenever any one of these is lacking, when, for instance, the man is not able to live wisely, though he lives honourably and justly, it is impossible for him to live a pleasant life” (Principle Doctrines).

A PLEASANT LIFEIt’s like a three-legged stool: to live pleasantly – live honourably, wisely and justly; to live wisely – live honourably, pleasantly and justly.

As the world gets shaped in our image, we hardly notice its destruction. We have our hobbies, electronics, addictions and jobs. Some of us have self-control and those who don’t sometimes die a slow death clutching a sign in search of someone to help us from ourselves.

smile
A stoic who doesn’t know it.

Those who say, “What the hell!” can (figuratively speaking), release their egotistical beast to destroy its host (and anything else that’s vulnerable).

A person is the product of thought, heredity and capacity mixed with language and culture. (Love and spirit get lost when attention is on a bottom line.)

Language and culture gave us great things like law, science, ethics and philosophy, but language and culture can also make us victims. The key is in you as an individual.

infected
Culturally infected.

Novelist Aldous Huxley (1894-1963) said, “Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity to take things for granted” (Brave New World).

He also wrote, “There are quiet places also in the mind’, he said meditatively. ‘But we build bandstands and factories on them. Deliberately — to put a stop to the quietness. …” (Antic Hay, 1923).

joshua tree desert
“Now we will count to twelve and we will all keep still. For once on the face of the earth, let’s not speak in any language; let’s stop for one second, and not move our arms so much” (Keeping Quiet by Pablo Naruda)

A trick to profound enjoyment (and happiness) is to find quiet places in your mind. From there you can see and hear without taking things for granted. Because heaven is here.

And heaven is now.