Idle Gaming

I used to think of life as a competitive first-person survival-based game. That outlook didn’t do me any favors and resulted in a lot of anxiety. And as a result, my assumptions were all off – life wasn’t aligning with my expectations. Finally, after many years, I gave up on my warped perspective. Though not gonna lie, the transition is taking longer than you’d think.

Truly, and after decades of proof being thrown in my face, I understand that I was wrong. Oops, my bad. But despite that understanding, I still can’t reside in a place of peace. I’m still a bit suspicious and somewhat unconvinced of the benign nature of existence. Is life out to get me!? Hm….

Well whatever. As best I can, I’m going to treat life as a chill idle game. Am I in first-person anymore? No, I’m in a fourth-person perspective, which means I kinda just watch my character do his thing. I don’t reside in the world, I’m more of an audience to it. All my previous direct-action strategies pretty much failed anyway, so.

In an idle game, oftentimes there’s clicking or tapping involved. So what’s my “clicky-tappy” interaction as the player? It’s focusing. Essentially, my character makes his way through the game on his own, but I kinda influence him based on my focus. For example, if I focus on a dying dog, my character might cry. Whereas if I focus on chocolate cake, my character might eat some soon. Therefore, a lot of my energy is directed towards focus-management.

Thoughts are the limitless resource that comes pouring onto my screen. As the player, I must direct these granules to the appropriate processing-centers located around the board. Negative thoughts go in the trash basically. Currency is acquired through tranquility, accumulating through extended periods of well-managed focus. There’s no real winning or losing, it’s just having fun through the process of resource-management.

Fourth-Person Perspective

For research purposes I often play video-games. When given the option, I usually select a first-person perspective for piloting my avatar. It’s more immersive and I find it easier to control – plus the added intensity helps to hold my attention. I AM the character – doing what must be done. Whereas in third-person, I feel like I’m helpin’ the guy out – he’s the character, not me. But the downside of being in first-person is the intensity – if my character loses, I lose.

It got me thinking about a possible fourth-person perspective. I couldn’t find much written about the concept. One game, a few years ago, had the player make changes to an onscreen-character’s environment which influenced the actions the character took. And in writing, I heard the 4th-person perspective described as a collective viewpoint: “we” – personal and omniscient all in one.

I often switch up my meditation tactics. Recently, I noticed how hard it was to maintain a goalie-like reactive stance while meditating. Just waiting for thoughts to come made me a sitting duck – I was at the mercy of an onslaught of thought. Therefore, I actively pursued a “destination” in meditation. With my eyes closed, I intentionally stared at the mottled formlessness, the waves of hue and light, the pixels underlying all. I did so until I no longer had to fully focus my attention, I was there.

It worked in the sense that I felt like I reached a place of pure potential, dreamlike, where I left my body behind. You might say I attained a fourth-person perspective. I was beyond the intensity of “I”, beyond the demanding nature of “you”, and beyond the sympathetic viewpoint of “he”. Perhaps it was “we”. We are not just a body, a thinking mind, or even pure awareness – we’re that, plus whatever lies beyond – we’re also an influencer of what we experience.

Maybe the spiritual goal is to reach and sustain this fourth-person perspective. Get beyond the ego, beyond the avatar, beyond the narrative – encompassing all, yet limited by none. Think of a cake: a cake isn’t merely a collection of ingredients (which are measured and mixed into something far beyond what their individual nature suggest). A cake can have significance, representing much more than consumable calories. Perhaps the fourth-person perspective recognizes all this.

To exist in this perspective, is to be removed from the intensity, aware of the narrative but not lost in it, and free from the boundaries of imagined limitations. In the fourth-person perspective, of what importance or weight are those tiny thoughts originating from “I”? “I” is only a fraction of “we”. The process of babysitting thoughts and managing tantrums-of-the-mind loses significance when measured against this grander transcendent journey.

Spooktober Time

Imagine the scariest scenario you can think of. After doing so, you’d probably feel bad, right? Why wouldn’t you? Now contemplate this idea: what if you never allowed yourself to focus on another scary thought for the rest of your life? It’s a pretty decent theory that you’d live a fear-free life from then on.

I’m actually putting that theory to the test. It’s not as easy as it sounds. If I allow my mind to wander, random thoughts can contain scary scenarios. And of course there are times when I’m half-asleep or even dreaming – at those times, weird thoughts can be harder to ignore. I also had to change my fundamental belief system so I could logically dismantle scary ideas. Managing all this is literally a full-time job.

Since I have nothing better to do I’m doing it. It seems kinda strange to manually manage my mental-state so carefully, but here we are. I’ve been able to get to a place where I barely feel fear or even worry, but that didn’t solve all my problems unfortunately. I even worked on diminishing my anger, but I’m still fraught with frustration.

You’d think I’d be somewhat satisfied, but I’m not. My problems simply changed shape. I guess the Buddha was right. It’s the underlying concept of dissatisfaction itself that must be eradicated, NOT the proximate causes. I was always “anxious” so I thought its expulsion would allow me to live a satisfying life. Nope, I just found something else to be dissatisfied about.

Even though I can readily witness myself genuinely appreciating aspects of existence nowadays, little things still annoy me. And so it’s “death by a thousand cuts” as all these tiny irritations make a day or week seem unpleasant. For example: something always hurts, there’s a minor ache or small sore somewhere. Another example: there’s always a shifting deadline, something somewhere is due.

Therefore, I’ve got to go deeper. Fear, anger, so what – I need to gain complete control of my mental focus. To be fair, the Dhammapada says this in the beginning. It’s all about mental-discipline through mindfulness and proper focus. Oh well, I suppose I still have a lot of work to do. Imagine straining to a finish-line only to find out it’s the starting-line of a whole other race.

But I have a huge head-start thanks to all the meditation, mental-discipline, philosophical, and spiritual stuff I’ve been doing for the past couple decades. I suppose it boils down to this question: what would happen if you never let your mind wander? Well, I’ll have to put that to the test.

Managing Tantrums

I see that you’re upset. You’re frustrated. You’re frustrated because you want self-sustaining purchasing-power but you only have “just enough” money that comes in at an unpredictable rate. You really want to buy things like a dependable place to live and some tools (woodworking, fitness, and electronic). But it appears you’ll have to move soon and you won’t have a place to put anything. It appears that you don’t have enough money to purchase a dependable place to live or the tools you want. I know you really want enough money to purchase a dependable place to live and the tools you want. I’m sorry you can’t have those things right now, would you like to watch Season 2 of “One-Punch Man” on Hulu instead?

I’ve been monitoring the situation – the last few days have been fine. I should note that I’ve been meditating 3 times per day (morning, afternoon, night). I expect to be glowing from a serene state of enlightenment any minute now. Before clearing my mind of thoughts, I specifically have this thought:

I expect my thoughts and experiences to be comprised of playful anticipation, whimsical delight, lighthearted amusement, genuine appreciation, and an overall sense of satisfaction.

I’m telling my mind what I expect from it. It’s a big-boy now – can’t be having tantrums all the time.

I suppose I shouldn’t blame the juvenile aspects of my mind though. Personally, I’d like to have extreme stability so I can contemplate higher-minded stuff. I’m too low on the “Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs” pyramid, it’s throwing me off. I’m not interested in the basics, gimme self-actualization and transcendence!

No offense, but you can’t put a guy that’s moved beyond physical reality into a situation that challenges his physical circumstances. I can’t invest in the premise. It’s like serving steak to a vegan – are you implying he’s just being fussy?

If life-experiences are like a food-serving conveyer-belt, I guess I’ll keep distracting myself until something better comes along – like brownies.

Bad Daze

As previously stated, I’m on the hunt to find out why “bad days” exist in my life. I noticed another “bad day” yesterday and I’ll be discussing my findings here.

I did happen to watch another “negative” movie prior to this bad day. Did it influence my mood or did a pre-existing mood influence me to watch the movie? Either way, if I’m watching “negative” movies, then I can guess there’s potential for a “bad day”.

I should note that my “bad days” aren’t actually that bad on an absolute scale. In one sense, I don’t really have “bad days”. But relatively, I do. For example, my Internet connection went down yesterday. It rarely goes down, so that’s one of those external events that are beyond my immediate control. But guess what? It was only out for 30 minutes and I could use my iPhone’s cellular connection in the meantime. Therefore, I’m wondering if my “bad days” are just hysterical overreactions to the day’s events?

In other words, a “bad day” is just my mind having a temper tantrum. My mind wants something in the world, isn’t getting it, and therefore freaks out. And expectedly, I can’t calm it down by reasoning with it during the middle of an episode.

How does one effectively deal with temper tantrums? Well, that’s Toddler 101 stuff. A few years ago when I spent a lot of time with an actual toddler, I remember distractions worked wonders to snap him out of a tantrum. If I could get his attention off the tantrum and keep him occupied, the situation stabilized (this didn’t always work though). I also remember a validation technique in which his mom would say things like:

“I see that you’re upset. You’re really mad. You’re mad because you want to play with the remote-control but I wouldn’t let you. You really wanted to play with that remote-control didn’t you? But the remote-control could break and we wouldn’t be able to watch the TV. But I know you really wanted to play with the remote-control. I’m sorry you can’t play with the remote-control, would you like to play with your race-car instead?”

I know my mind has been frustrated lately, so it follows that my mind would have frustration-based tantrums. That also explains why reasoning doesn’t work once I’m in the middle of a “bad day”. So perhaps distractions, like a new activity, could work. And perhaps “journaling” in which I acknowledge my mind’s distress could help too.

I definitely feel different today, so it seems as though the latest episode has passed.

Inspirational Limbo

You know how people get flashes of inspiration to do things? Such as: man I really feel like tidying my room right now! Or: wow I just came up with the best idea for a new novel. Or: I wanna study to become an engineer so I can build rockets! Once inspired, people then follow-through on those aspirations or else they suffer from feeling unfulfilled.

I think my mind is attempting to torture me with inspirational ideas that are not within my ability to fulfill. Therefore, I’m in a constant state of frustration. Oftentimes I can’t even see a path to the projected goal, it’s just out-there and fully unattainable. And if it’s a tiny goal with a perceivable path, I’m typically straining the entire time to the end, like walking a narrow pathway full of thorns. And the achievement doesn’t feel worth it compared to the still-stinging scratches.

On one hand, I can try ignoring these flashes of inspiration. But on the other hand, nothing seems to fill their place – I spend most days just passing time as if I’m in a waiting room, simply browsing magazines. I wait for the day to end only to spend another restless night in bed, tossing and turning.

Obviously there’s something “extra” going on here. Is there some greater being harassing me? Am I harassing me? Is this punishment for sins done during a previous lifetime? Am I simply a beta-tester in a poorly designed simulation? Is this world testing my fortitude? Am I an advanced AI running through its paces? Perhaps I’m actually exceeding my intended purpose. Maybe I’m a background character that’s gained sentience. Whatever it is, I don’t like it.

More Bad Days

I’ve been attempting to solve the phenomenon of “bad days”. At first, I wasn’t sure if “bad days” were just negative interpretations of a given day. As I’ve been actively observing though, I can confirm that concentrated cascades of chaos are actually occurring. I’ve witnessed headaches, wrong-address deliveries of packages, shipments in limbo, incorrect food orders, uncomfortable interactions with others, just to name a few situations that pile-on during a “bad day”. A lot of these events are outside my direct influence – and it’s not just a single event, there’s a bouquet of unpleasantries. Then like a storm passing, everything eventually goes back to normal.

In many ways, my life has improved due to the practice and application of mental discipline. Yet, I still have “bad days” mixed in – why? What’s the source of this discomfort? I can be going along relatively comfortably and then BAM, I’m roughed up. Is it due to a lapse in attitude, carelessness in my focus, or just an inherent challenge built into the game-of-life? There seems to be waves of unexpected unpleasantness attempting to turn my attention to some chaotic storyline.

Once a “bad day” begins, I haven’t been able to interrupt it – it feels like a storm I have to wait out. I’m still experimenting, but nothing’s worked so far. My motivation is zapped and I just wanna give up. I can recognize a “bad day” as it’s happening, but I feel powerless. At the very least, I’ve been trying to “do no harm” by engaging as little as possible. Then a new day comes and things are fine again.

I wonder if the movies and shows I watch are a significant factor. For example, I was recently watching the 1996 classic movie “Romeo + Juliet” – which is obviously filled with lots of tension and calamity. Like watching a horror movie before bed can result in nightmares, does watching a woeful movie encourage a woeful day? This isn’t the first time I noticed a possible correlation, so I’m keeping an eye on it.

The “bad days” seem so abrupt and obvious. In one sense, I feel like they should be easy to overcome because they’re so identifiable. But in another sense, they’re just so unrelenting and pile on the pain until I yell “uncle”. Life: Oh you think you’re tough!? Try this on for size! Me: Ow! It hurts! Stop! I give up! You win! Life: LOL….

My next step is to keep track of “bad days” on a calendar. I’ll jot down some details and such and see if I can get to the bottom of it. There’s something contrived about them, which makes me think there might be an obvious pattern and thus a potential way to abstain. Since they’re so difficult to deal with once they start, prevention seems like the best approach.

Forging the Mind

The external is a projection of the internal. Therefore, if things are unpleasant on the outside, we know our own undisciplined mind is to blame. We shouldn’t rush to solve an exterior circumstance, we should sit and calm the mind, fixing its focus. This concept is easier to grasp when existence is perceived as a dream – a distressed sleeper has agitated dreams.

Additionally, our own errant thoughts are by far the greatest source of abuse we experience on Earth. A cascade of criticism mixed with embarrassing memory topped with dour prognostication make for an unpleasant stew we swallow daily. Through the effort of meditation and applied mental discipline, these thoughts can be muted. Life simplifies when such swirling malevolence is rejected.

Ah, but a vacuum forms! Boredom rears its head around the corner – a condition that encourages escape. As the mind thirsts for thrills and stressors, a hobby beyond self-immolation must be found. The hobby of finding a hobby begins. Long has poisonous thought made the mind a toxic space – let meditation fill the gap, making an intentional void. Cleanse the clutter, allowing room for lighthearted delight.

Through silence, visit the realm of pure potential where anything can be anything. Come often. Memory is reinforced through practice – stop recalling and allow old images to fade away. Stop living within the imagination – reality is right now. Strive to achieve a well-disciplined mind, ceaselessly forge it into shape – incorporating only the finest thoughts you can find.

Solving for X

I suppose you could say it’s my mission to solve the riddle of this world. I suspect though, that the world actively and deliberately thwarts any attempt to be figured-out. Therefore, this situation is a game by definition. Why must I decipher it? I don’t know, but there’s not much else I’m driven to do. My consciousness has been placed in this predicament and wants to find its way out – like a maze.

People have been trying to reach God since humanity began. I suppose my efforts are similar in this regard. So, how does one get to heaven? The pathway seems to be by way of mental discipline. Through proper focus, steered by discipline, one can arrive at the intended destination. But life will place many obstacles, in the form of distractions, along the route.

This is a very silly world, so engaging in earnest is a poor strategy. To take this world seriously, is to lose from the outset. Games are for fun after-all. Being a game, losing is an option. Due to many in-game hints, it seems that death is not an actual end, it’s just a respawn, the game continues until it’s ultimately won. Fundamentally, the game wants to be won, or it wouldn’t bother to provide a winning option.

Ultimately, I think the mind must be made to perceive existence as a lighthearted illusion – a dream basically. With that mindset, one’s experience within this dreamworld can be influenced by deliberate focus. By utilizing mental-discipline to maintain focus, one’s circumstance of existence is hammered and shaped into a key – a key that unlocks the maze. And with that, the goal is reached, the game won.

Vignette No. 162

At the mirror, looking into his own eyes, he sees the glossiness that precedes an overflow of tears. “What have I done to be punished so harshly?”, he wonders softly to himself. “I’ve been convicted of no crime, provided no sentence, but apparently I’ve received the maximum penalty of the law!” – he speaks aloud in a frustrated tone. “What law even is this!? What justice is served?!” – he speaks even louder, angrier.

“For justice to be justice, a man must consent to the laws that bind him. I’ve made no agreement with this world nor its arbiter. Therefore, I reject any and all imposed fines! To hell with this world!” – he proclaims furiously.

Now quieter, almost a whisper, he says: “It may have my body, but it shan’t have my spirit. Nay, such a cruel world does not deserve an unrelenting opportunity to mock me. I am in this world, but I will not be party to its malevolence.”

As a declaration to existence itself, he continues at full volume: “In every scene and circumstance you present me, I shall laugh. No tear will ever drip from mine eyes, for I shall never invest myself in your nefarious narratives. You may have this body, doing with it what you will – but I, its consciousness will simply serve as witness to your wicked ways. For if justice truly exists in this universe, judgement awaits you.”

A knock on the bathroom door, followed by the words: “Rich! It’s breakfast, what are you doing in there? Who are you talking to? The sausages are getting cold!” He replies: “Sausages!? The good ones? I’m on my way!”