This Time (and space-time) to Enjoy

gatekeepercabin

A dream (cue dreamy music):

“I was walking down a path in a misty forest and I came to a gate. A man at the gate said, ‘Correct, go in. Incorrect, stay out.’ I nodded agreement and the man said, ‘What is greater than God, more evil than the devil, the poor have it, the rich need it and if you eat it, you’ll die?’

I didn’t know. I said nothing. 

And the man said, ‘What is between Earth and moon?’

‘Nothing?’ I said—as if it were a question.

And the man said, ‘In our universe even a dark void of empty space absent of particles is still something,’ and in a blink, ten years passed—which seemed long (as far as blinks go).

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And the man said, ‘All matter is made of atoms and sub-atomic particles ruled by probability—not certainty. You consist of particlesParticles hover in a state of uncertainty, but you don’t. You remain solid. Why is that?’

‘Your experience of the world is constructed by sensory and cognitive capacities. Your understanding of reality is a mental representation—not reality itself—but you can experience reality directly and enjoy it immensely with a shift in perspective.’

‘Instead of thinking of yourself as a being in a world ‘out there’—as in, ‘me in a world outside me’—assume a more universal less egocentric perspective. Let your feeling of self extend.’

(The man was clearly insane.)

you've got advanced stage humans

‘The universe is defined as, “the totality of existing things…. everybody, all people, the whole world… all together, all in one, whole, entire, relating to all… turned into one…. One.”

And the man gave instructions for cosmic reflection:

‘Step One: let your senses fall victim to being here and now as it is. Be here as here being here. Feel the feeling of here. Be here like any other creature self-aware.’

Step Two: look at the space between things as connective. An invisible nothing connects everything into one big thing. We are as nothing—like spirits here and gone but we have one thing the universe needs to exist: Conscious awareness. Without conscious awareness, there is no reality. Reality rests on whether or not there are eyes open.’

And suddenly reality is the dream and the dream is reality.

And the man said, ‘You might wonder what’s going on in someone’s mind, but what is mind?’

And I said, ‘Your brain is a physical substance. It contains billions of neurons relaying electrical signals. Your mind is a product of signals fed by energy from the sun consumed in the form of plants and animals (aka food). Everything is entangled. Like Oliver Swofford said, “Glibby gloop gloopy. Nibby Nabby Noopy, La La La Lo Lo.”‘

And the man said, ‘How do you define a shoreline? Is it water or sand?’

It is both. (Duh.) 

And the man ignored my belligerence and said, ‘The inner workings of your mind wash over the shore as you shape and mix yourself with the world.’

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‘Our experience of self interconnects with the world. One’s inner world is relational to the outer world. We think of our mind as a brain inside a skull like a peanut in a shell. We all feel alone. Sometimes we might even think we don’t belong, but peanuts cannot be separated from the immediate world. Likewise, if you see your mind and the world as relational, there’s a shift in a sense of belonging.’

law of closure

‘Subjective worlds interact with objectivity. It’s difficult to disentangle a subjective view of the world from its interaction.’

‘Your mind is not simply the perception of experiences, but those experiences themselves.’

To sociologists, anthropologists and psychologists, our minds are extended by the effects we have on others and others on ourselves.

Thoughts are ethereal. Cloud-like. Invisible. Spiritual? Thoughts are gaseous abstractions floating. We are alone in conscious awareness but our minds are not just brain activity. Perceiving your mind as a product of brain functioning can make a person feel all alone but to appreciate the benefits of interrelations with the world, all one has to do is open one’s mind to receive it “as is” without ambition or critique.

Einstein perceived space and time as interwoven into a single continuum known as space-time. In space-time events occurring at the same time for one observer could occur at different times for another (source).

If life is a full-bodied movie involving five senses, memories are flashbacks and time itself is but an emotional fourth dimension you can move around in with some imagination.

(Or not.)

Just enjoy it.

 

Resources:

Quantum Theory – Full Documentary

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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.

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Enjoy Every Day Better Than A Billionaire

day lilies
Day lilies bloom for a day then wither. They are a symbol of forgetting worries and love of mother.

Old people speak day lily language. They know in their bones that the song of life is not very long and that happiness makes you cry. They say things like, “Enjoy every day, ’cause you just never know!” This irritates some people.

There are at least three reasons why “enjoy everyday ’cause you just never know” irritates some people:

captain obvious1) It’s silly. You can enjoy yourself sometimes and on occasion, but every day? Even billionaires have bad days.

2) It puts the pressure on. It leaves one guessing: Is this enjoyable enough? What should I be doing?

3) When someone says ’cause you just never know, they actually do. Knowing disaster could strike isn’t helpful.

Most people would probably like to enjoy every day, but life has a way of getting in the way. Things that hinder enjoyment include: pain, cold, hunger, fear, illness, discomfort, disappointment, frustration, humiliation, sex (too much, not enough, in eccentric doses), mental disturbances and, the big one: boredom (when you feel sick of everything).

Is there a way to shake off the obstacles that hinder enjoying ourselves? Of course. It’s called forgetting. Forget who you think you are! Forget thinking! Forget you have a face! 

apple head
Over time an apple head shrinks.

If you think you need to win a lottery to enjoy every day, you’re not noticing. You’re richer than any billionaire. Would not a billionaire give it all away just to stay alive another day? It’s not what you see that matters, it’s where you’re seeing from! 

Do you see through a peep hole embedded in an apple head or do you see the world through one huge all encompassing window without an edge? Who is the one seeing?

peep hole

The beauty of this philosophy is its simplicity. It starts with mind. Mind is everything. You are your mind. It doesn’t have to be a clever mind. It can be an idiotic mind. The mistake everybody makes is to assume that you have to be wise and intellectual to get the truth about life.

Quite the opposite.

The trick is to clear your mind of ideas and use it not for the purpose of more thinking, but to stop thinking and start noticing.

What we all live for is happiness. What is happiness? Happiness is a series of pleasures that in the long run satisfy us completely. Without single pleasures that are delicious in themselves, it’s impossible to have any satisfying sequence of pleasures. And what do single pleasures consist? They consist of simple pleasures. Pleasure is the sensation we experience when we plunge into something outside ourselves.

charlie brown

Imagine that your body is a diving suit and that all matter is a mass of material outside yourself. Mind is the self within us and matter is the self without us. It is by plunging into the mind, into what we hear, taste, touch, see and smell that we experience the enjoyment of living.

scuba divingThe trick is to combine seeing, smelling, hearing, tasting and touching without preconceived notions of who you think you are as an object (The Headless Way). Look not from behind a thought-mask, but from a centre of direct experience.

See not the world from meatball peepholes, but through a huge window.

The key to profound, serene and high definition spots of enjoyable time is to be aware of your own private and particular vantage point.

The whole of life can be divided into two overlapping halves, the first action, the second contemplation. You perform an action like walk down the street. If you’re busy thinking without looking, you won’t notice much, but if your mind is open, you see beauty.

blindersIn this philosophy there is nothing to believe. It’s all an experience. It’s a matter of taking off blinders. You can enjoy every day better than any billionaire burdened by big stuff. All it takes is a shift in perspective from what you look at to what you look from.

opennessLet’s say you’re washing dishes. While your hands work, you see a sunbeam shine on the table, you see a brown leaf blown across bricks out the window, you hear a distant train. Such contemplation of smell, sight and sound occupies about three-quarters of our life while action occupies about a quarter of conscious awareness.

You might work all day without noticing you’re alive. So much does our happiness depend on those three-quarters of life that even if we are incredibly good at our daily job we can be the reverse of happy in our lives!

sunbeamIn “Tintern Abbey Wordsworth wrote, “And I have felt/ A presence that disturbs me with the joy/ Of elevated thoughts; a sense sublime” (93-96). This presence doesn’t come from within or from outside. It isn’t here or there, but present in the “blended might” of mind and nature (Durr, 1970).

The heart of enjoyment lies within feeling spots of time intensely realized without thinking. It’s a matter of opening. You can enjoy every day better than all the billionaires put together!

 

References

Durr, R. A. (1970). Poetic Vision and the Psychedelic Experience. Syracuse University Press.

Lang, R. (2016). “Reflection 285,” The Headless Way.

 

 

 

 

Enjoyment Without a Head

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Imagine walking into a forest. It’s winter. There’s snow but you’re not cold. It’s silent and still and magical. As you stroll you notice how thoughts come and go, until gradually, as you pay attention to the graceful world, thinking subsides and a gentle feeling arises.

This is a path you’ve walked before. You can picture the former you walking here. And it’s a funny thing: You’ve lurched between wanting and not wanting throughout your life, but in a moment of attention like this, you don’t do either.

breathYou see your breath in the air and ask: “Who are you?” Who but you would know? Why not look into what it’s like being you – first person, singular, present tense? “Would you want to live and die without looking at the one doing that?” asked Douglas Harding.

You see yourself as a kid looking in a mirror. Your mom said, “That’s you!” and you believed her. Again and again you see the person under glass and think, “That’s me!” You think you are as you appear in the mirror, but that’s not how you actually see. When you look out of yourself, you don’t see a head.

mirror

You see hands, feet and knees. You see objects. You see trees and rabbit droppings and pine cones. You see far and near, but try as you might, you can’t see the one seeing. Your self is like that. Your self is a concept like a reflection in a mirror.

The ancients spoke of beauty, goodness and truthImmersed in a world of snow, grass, trees and colour, you put one foot in front of the other and care not for images, politics and economies. You see beauty. You see goodness. You know a simple truth: You’re here and glad of it.

snowy landscape

The poet William Blake (1757-1827) wrote, “Every Eye sees differently. As the Eye, Such the Object” (Fearful Symmetry: A Study of William Blake, p. 19). Everyone may see the same tree, but experience it differently. Blake said, “a fool sees not the same tree that a wise man sees” (The Marriage of Heaven and Hell). The fool is less aware. He sees, “trees” like a million others. Meaningless. Insignificant. But a wise person lives in gusto and pays attention. A wise person’s tree is more real.

winter tree.jpg

You are the space between. Before a thought comes, there is a thinker. You are the one thinking. You are consciousness itself.

self-portrait of Ernst Mach

Writer Douglas Harding saw philosopher Ernst Mach’s 1885 self-portrait where he closed his right eye and drew himself. While walking Harding had an insight and wrote, “What actually happened was something absurdly simple and unspectacular: I stopped thinking. A peculiar quiet, and odd kind of alert limpness or numbness, came over me.”

Harding looked at himself and realized that he couldn’t see his head. “It took me no time at all to notice this nothing, this hole where a head should have been, was no ordinary vacancy, no mere nothing. On the contrary, it was a nothing that found room for everything—room for grass, trees, shadowy distant hills, and far beyond them snow-peaks like a row of angular clouds riding the blue sky. I had lost a head and gained a world”  (On Having No Head).

In the 1960s Mike Heron of the Incredible String Band saw a similarity between poet Thomas Traherne (1636-1674) and Douglas Harding. Heron wrote a song about headlessness that begins, “When I was born I had no head. My eye was single and my body was filled with light. And the light that I was, was the light that I saw by. And the light that I saw by, was the light that I was” (song: Douglas Traherne Harding). 

traherneIn the 1600’s Traherne wrote, “You never enjoy the world aright, till the Sea itself floweth in your veins, till you are clothed with the heavens, and crowned with the stars.” Traherne was a philosopher of enjoyment. He wrote, “Your enjoyment of the World is never right till every morning you awake in Heaven” (Centuries of Meditation). Wade (1944) writes of Traherne, “In the middle of the seventeenth century, there walked the muddy lanes of Herefordshire and the cobbled streets of London, a man who had found the secret of happiness… He became the most radiantly, most infectiously happy mortal this earth has known” (p. 2). This is the secret: It is in paying attention without thinking. Don’t be fooled by personality.

You are like the surprised squirrel silently watching you watch him.

squirrel-posing-in-snow

If this squirrel were a person, you would feel self-conscious and probably look away, but when you’re headless, you don’t worry. Both you and the face you see, don’t see their own face. It’s just a you looking back at another you. 

tightrope walker

You are a tightrope walker. The path you walk (in or out of forests) is the rope you’re on. You walk between thought and attention. The trick is to enjoy both. You are the world seeing. You are not a thing. You are not your appearance. You are seeing itself. You are capacity. This year is dedicated to paying attention without distracted thinking. Wherever you go, there you are. You are the world to yourself. You are the one experiencing.

Trust experience and enjoy it.

References

Wade, G. (1944). Thomas Traherne: A Critical Biography. Princeton University Press/Oxford University Press.

 

A New Way of Looking

keys
Here’s the thing: If someone says, “The secret to life is...,” that person is unknowingly (or knowingly) misleading. Why?

Because.

It isn’t a secret. If it was a secret, everyone’s secret would be different.

It’s like looking for keys and not finding them even—though they’re under your nose. You’re in a hurry but waste time running around looking for keys and not finding them because you’re in a hurry. You look repeatedly on the table—where they should be (and are)—but don’t see them. Why? In desperation you start looking in weird places. So too do people look for enjoyment in weird place when they don’t have to. Enjoyment is right under your nose.

When you finally do find find your keys, you feel extra extra-annoyed because they were there all along, and you wonder: “How could I not see them? Am I blind? (No.) Am I an idiot? (Only partly).”

The power is in the focus. It’s a matter of attention. It’s all a matter of awareness.

pug

In the hurry to find what you’re looking for you see with eyeballs but not with brain. Hurry causes stress. Stress causes the release of cortisol in the brain. Cortisol can kill brain cells in the area responsible for memory (Your Amazing Brain). If you add multi-tasking to a frantic searching, you have zero attention (Brain Rules…).

what a view

Searching for keys in all the wrong places is like searching for enjoyment. We don’t see what’s in front of us. Enjoyment is simple. It’s so simple that we don’t get it until we do and then we doubt it because we might be expecting something that isn’t so subtle.

If you’re reading this—wherever you are in this world—you’re probably alive. If you’re alive, you’re halfway there, but the other half isn’t easy. Nature isn’t on your side. Nature isn’t on anyone’s side. Nature is cause and effect.

The trouble is that happiness gets tied to desire and expectations. We define happiness as, Wanting what we want and getting what we get and hoping the two coincide.

overthinking2You see, it’s because of our brains. We either over-think and make it complicated, we under-think and act on insane urges or we multi-task and miss everything.

We think, “If I have this (or that), I’ll be happy,” but not only do we think that something outside ourselves will make us happy, we’re drawn to things that actually hurt us.

pawnsOur brains send messages. Sometimes these messages are destructive—ask anyone in therapy, rehab, prison or who is about to blow himself up. Not only do we deceive ourselves, other people trick us with their deceptions and w can become like pawns in the game of life, sacrificed for someone else’s idea of enjoyment.

So, what’s the answer?

Fred FlintstonePicture brain messages symbolically like they do in cartoons with a devil-you and an angel-you on each shoulder arguing their case for you to decide (see Internal Multitudes and Enjoyment Decisions). The devil-you often wins and when he does, he gets harder to stop.

Pleasure and habit are linked. Cells that fire together, wire together. In other words: Habits are hard to break (see: It’s not me. It’s my brain.)

It’s like a battle between, on one side, the Rolling Stones at 120 decibels singing “Sympathy For The Devil”, “Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and taste,” and on the other side, a string quartet playing “Hallelujah” in your living room.! Who do you think will win?

innocenseOn one side are symbols of light, innocence and wholesomeness (sappy?) and on the other, just the opposite (exciting?). In the battle between it comes down to focus. What do you choose to enjoy?

Enjoyment of life and of healthy beauty is decided by awareness of what “you” choose to pay attention to.

daffodils2Do you take the gentle path of life as represented in Wordsworth’s poem, “I wandered lonely as a cloud; That floats on high o’er vales and hills; When all at once I saw a crowd; A host, of golden daffodils“? Or is that boring? “Daffodils? You’re kidding!”

zobie3Do you prefer your entertainment on the excitingly evil side? How about delightful depravity and edgy cruelty that’s funny too? What’s your pleasure? Do you choose a quiet read, a walk in the park, a pint with a friend, or ‘gorified’ death in a Zombie Apocalypse?

It’s a tough decision for most people.

Subtlety is missed by mobs fed on chatter, drugs, violence, convenience and bread and circuses. A butterfly caught in a web is easily killed by the spider. It takes heart and courage and a focus on what is wholesome to overcome dark greed.

butterfly.jpgWholesome isn’t a word used much these days. It alludes to marketing all-natural breakfast cereals and family values but back in the year 1200 wholesome meant “of benefit to the soul.” It comes from the word “whole” meaning “healthy” (undamaged, entire, safe) and “-some” meaning “tending to” (Etymology Dictionary).

Wholesome relates to “Hallow!” as in Hello! Health! Holy! It’s a greeting and a call to health and Hallelujah! (Word Origins).

Imagine: You go to a concert in a high school auditorium but your brain is messed up with problems. You miss the first part before your spirit gets caught up in the music and then… and then

A switch to whole.

seating

You see where you are. Your face relaxes. Totally still you breathe and your eyes… your eyes! they widen and go slack. You see as if you were life itself.

What was a disheveled auditorium with flickering light bulbs about to die and chattering nuisance people becomes… beautiful. You enter the stream. You are empty absolutely. You know that life runs along like a runaway train as you float in your body behind a face.

life is beautiful
A scene.

You look out of yourself self-aware. This moment is captured in the very being of yourself – not as an ego, but as… a spirit.

The purest illuminations come unsought.

You are transfigured but no one knows. How could they? You are alone in yourself but through the eyes of another you see the importance of all this. It’s in relationships and immersion. You’ve put your will to the side and thrown yourself out.

Such is enjoyment seeing.

Cease demanding that life conform to desire. See daffodils and ignore zombies (they aren’t real).