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Quick. There isn’t much time. Canadian researchers say human attention spans have dropped from 12 seconds in 2000 to 8 seconds in 2015—note: goldfish have 9 (source).

Cue happy music: George Harrison “What is life?”.

The point is… everyone—including you—is a character in a story. Your story has settings, plots and themes (the big ideas). You narrate your story to yourself. Your story begins and ends but of that ending you don’t know. According to science, when this is over you won’t know you don’t know (see scientific analysis: “What is life? Is death real?”).

From a first-person perspective this is itRight here and now—that’s all she wrote. But what if this first person perspective is not all there is?

If we are organic machines who seek meaning and/or diversion, does that make us each a one-man band self-contained like a water-balloon with big ideas in a world of sharp objects?

(Probably.)onemanband.gifYou can look at someone and see their story. You can tell what a person is thinking, feeling and intending. Science says it’s because we have mirror neurons in the brain, but in our hearts we know it’s because we “Walk the Line”.

penguinOn the one hand we have a strong sense of freedom—we believe we have free will—but on the other hand, we have a funny feeling that we could be mistaken.

Byron Reese, author of The Fourth Age, says it’s hard to account for free will given our two sets of natural laws: Newtonian physics—every cause has an effect—and Quantum theory—certain things are truly random (video source).

A scene in No Country for Old Men with a coin toss, a gas station clerk and a killer named Chigurh illustrates the paradox between random chance and a universe built on cause and effect.

Chigurh took a twenty-five cent piece from his pocket and flipped it spinning into the bluish glare of the fluorescent lights over head… Call it. Call it? Yes. For what? Just call it….I didn’t put nothin’ up. Yes you did. You’ve been putting it up your whole life. You just didn’t know it” (p. 56).

That’s what this is about.

The coin toss could symbolize fate—there’s a deeper meaning—or it could symbolize chance—there is no meaning. We think we have free will but isn’t every event the result of previous events and circumstances together with the laws of nature?

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Reality could be nothing but chance and circumstance or it could be following a path determined by previous events. The occurrence of things depends upon choices and actions but choices and actions could be determined just like everything else.

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Right here and now is what this is about. Relationships, responsibilities, stresses, distractions, habits and such like are fantastic—they make us who we are—but a first person perspective like you’d find in a novel or a movie separates us into a head-game that removes us from a happy feeling where there are no divisions.

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But with a click you can shift perspective from your self as the centre experiencing here, to here as the centre experiencing you.

You can see your story and yourself in it. You are the writer, actor and director. You are like a disembodied voice looking and seeing all that is there to be seen and seen in. And with this awareness comes a wonderful feeling of oneness—“Hapa he-eia”!

(See also “Step Into Enjoyment (take one)“.)

An explanation.

mindblownThe heart is made of heart cells. Heart cells on their own don’t have the property of pumping blood. Heart pumping is an emergent property of the whole heart. So too with consciousness.

It’s the sum of neurons that generates complex emotions. No single neuron holds complex information like self-awareness. It’s the sum of everything that makes the world. Like the keynote speaker in Fargo (season 2) said, “Try it. Try simply being.”  

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The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. You are the world aware. Now is experiencing you. Claiming that an individual heart cell can pump blood because the heart can or that a single neuron in the nervous system generates self-awareness is a fallacy of division.

As scholar Beth Dempster said, “process is interactive: “causes” generate behaviours, behaviours generate “causes”” (Smith 1993, p. 21) (source). Everything looks like it’s outside your body but things interconnect like a fourth dimension of space-time.

Figure 3.1 Human psyche as self-organizing system

If everyone is a story, you are a story but what happens when you see your story as a story? What happens when you interrupt the narration?

When you see everything as interconnected and experience the world with your senses without story-telling and ambition you can feel the ultimate enjoyment of oneness and simply enjoy “being.” That’s when you see humour and feel happy as a lark without fear.

You can tell by a person’s conduct whether or not that person has shifted perspective but it really comes down to feeling love for everything. That’s when you know your perspective has shifted. When you love everything, that’s when you say, “Wow! This really is quite awesome, thank you.”

That’s what this is about.

(Groovy.)

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A Way of Seeing To Enjoy (Part 1)

Knowing is equated with seeing. If you see the light, it could mean that you see a light blinking on a radio tower or it could mean that you know something that makes you see everything different. It could mean both.

Philosophy is equated with thinking. Religion is equated with feeling. Today, like the physicist David Bohm, “we hold several points of view, in a sort of active suspension” (Dialogue). Like poet William Blake, (“To see a World in a Grain of Sand, And a Heaven in a Wild Flower“) and philosophers Søren Kierkegaard—we see the ‘eternal in the temporal’—and Ludwig Wittgenstein we say, “how extraordinary that anything should exist” (Lecture on Ethics).

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Bertrand Russell and Ludwig Wittgenstein; from Logicomix (2008) by Apostolos Doxiadis, illustrated by Alecos Papadatos

Today we feel stoic acceptance of what the world throws at us. We say like Wittgenstein, “I am safe, nothing can injure me whatever happens” (Lecture on Ethics). With a “Click!” we connect to an awareness that leaves us feeling strangely lighthearted—for no apparent reason.

This feeling could best be described as “Self Actualization” (à la psychologist Abraham Maslow) or as an “oceanic feeling” of limitlessness and oneness with the entire human race and universe (à la mystic Romain Rolland) or it could be just one of those things. “What’s for supper?”

Today we go from a narrow self-centred perspective to a wider view of the world in its totality. We are ‘disturbed by joy’ like William Wordsworth a few miles above Tintern Abbey:

“…I have felt a presence that disturbs me with joy
Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime
Of something far more deeply interfused,
Whose dwelling is the light of suns,
and the round ocean and the living air,
and the blue sky, and in the mind of man:…” (source)

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1804. Tintern Abbey by William Havell (source).

Religious belief and the lack thereof could be understood not as rival theories but as different ways of seeing. If a believer and an atheist look at a picture and one says it’s hideous and the other says it’s lovely, who’s right? who’s wrong?

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Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951)

Wittgenstein saw religion not as theoretical but as a ‘collection of pictures’ reinforcing rules of life in the form of morality and a way of living that is itself what is eternal (Culture and Value, 1980). If someone taps into that eternal by living it’s ideal, one is living and being the eternal for a time like a leaf on a tree that is seasonal.

The world is factual. Facts are identifiable by science but facts can’t answer why you are here.

Like Wittgenstein said, “We feel that even if all possible scientific questions be answered, the problems of life have still not been touched” (Lecture on Ethics).

The philosopher Jean-Paul Sarte concluded in The Transcendence of the Ego that, “The World has not created the me: the me has not created the World” (p.105) but these two things are connected in a consciousness that is spontaneous. Sarte wrote, “Consciousness is always ‘of something‘, and therefore defined in relation to something else. It has no nature beyond this and is thus completely translucent” (source).

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Some people picture a soul as translucent—as a kind of a ‘thing’—but not Wittgenstein. He said that if you look at soul language in religion, soul is not pictured as a thing but as integrity (which is equally invisible). So if someone says, “He sold his soul for money” or “He sold his soul to the devil” it really means that he’s become materialistic. He has no deep moral sense and moral sense, as we know, is not visible and immaterial.

A man may have everything but feel horribly afraid of what’s coming. A good man, however, enjoying a good way—tried, true and eternal through himself and those who live after—why, he has nothing to fear. Ever.

No matter what.

He can be light as a feather. He is not chained by anything material. He can never be judged as having lived a futile life even if he dies poor and unknown and didn’t do very much. After all, what does a sparrow do? What are flamingos for?

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According to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, a person can’t get to the highest level of “self-actualization” without making it by lower level needs such as food, sex and security.

Please note: some people can blast up to their highest potential without need of basics, but they are rare like hen’s teeth.  

To be self-actualized is to be unafraid of the unknown, untroubled by ambiguity and triviality, Self-aware, Accepting weaknesses while developing strengths, living a “meaningful life” by having a purpose that goes above and beyond one’s self to a greater good (see: Self Actual).

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If you were asked, “Do you understand the difference between thinking and being?” what would you say?

Understanding the difference between thinking and being is like when police catch someone in the act of a crime and say, “What do you think you’re doing!” which is another way of saying, “How stupid are you?

This is the exact moment when the cop and the criminal give their collective heads a shake. Most people (most of the time) see the world from inside a self-enclosed bubble of preoccupied thoughts that shape how the world is perceived. But this way of seeing is limiting because it sees a world perceived through language and opinion.

When a person with soul (and a clear conscience, if possible) wakes up, looks around and says full of happiness, “This is a miracle!” he isn’t just describing an event. It’s really his reaction to something significant that he is being, enjoying and becoming.