Extracting the Marrow

I was re-watching the movie Groundhog Day (1993), and since my current interest deals with living-in-the-now, I noticed that particular theme in the movie. Despite the day constantly repeating, Phil was eventually able to enjoy everyday by living in the present. When the past and future no longer mattered, sucking the marrow out of right-now became the only option.

When he clung to the legacy of his past, Phil tried to use people for short-term gain — ultimately leading to boredom when there was nothing left to attain. And when he was feeling trapped by a futureless path, Phil couldn’t enjoy the physical world anymore and eventually sunk into suicidal despair.

But by shedding the past and future, focusing only on the instant he was experiencing, Phil was able to find the fun. Despite constant repetition and guaranteed predictability, Phil extracted enjoyment from wherever he could. Within infinity, I don’t believe constant improvement is the point — the point was to develop a means to enjoy the moment.

And once he was able to appreciate the present, there was nothing holding back happiness. Even if he had sat in a park feeding pigeons, I think his loop would’ve ended — it was more about the mindset rather than good-deeds. Because again, within eternity, self-improvement and knocking-off the rough-edges can only go-on for so long until you become a polished sphere.

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Path Not Taken

I’ve been told there are two lives you can select from. One is self-directed by the mind and its many thoughts. The other is an elaborately crafted grand-narrative directed by life itself.

The first one is typically chosen by those afraid of what life has to offer. And perhaps they’re a bit boring in their tastes and don’t want to participate in an awe-inspiring adventure. The problem with this route though, is the mind isn’t the best storyteller and comes up with weak storylines and lame tangents. The mind also tends to rely on cheap-tricks like jump-scares and cliches. And of course the story won’t contain any amazement since the mind is both author and audience — it knows what’s going to happen after all.

The second one takes consent and trust, a leap of faith. Do you dare let life take you on a roller-coaster ride? Where will it take you? Which characters will come and go? Who will you be? What will you have to do to play-out your role? When is the next thrilling drop? Oh boy, it’s making me sweat just thinking about it. Obviously you can tell which life I chose.

But if you do select the self-directed path, life is more than willing to fill in any blanks or even take-over at any point. If you simply surrender your control, life will continue from there, crafting a tale to delight and amuse. And of course you can retake the reins and go back to a stinted and somewhat suffocating story of your own — if that’s what you really want.

Existential Alarm-clock

Imagine you’re walking outside and you remain within your thoughts the entire time. You literally notice nothing around you. Life happened and you missed it. Essentially, you were lost within yourself.

And if you remain in that state of self-centeredness, life will attempt to free you from the condition. Why? Because existence is meant to be experienced. Duh. You would even set the alarm yourself — and perhaps at some point you did.

But you don’t wake-up from an unconscious state very easily. It might even take a violent shake, to get you awake. And if you simply go back to sleep, a rousing stir might be in order — again and again until finally you’re attentive.

Then what? Well then you get to work, following the selfless role you find within. When you’re alert, you’ll hear it. And if you know what’s good for you, you’ll follow it without complaint.

This is a fulfilling role of course, an adventure you’re sure to enjoy — a privilege that would never waste itself on someone too oblivious to appreciate it. Duh. And therefore never ask for whom the alarm rings, it rings for thee.

Interpretive Dance

Is the act of eating strawberries a violent and exploitative endeavor in which one organism crushes and consumes the life-energy of another? In other words, the way in which we interpret life matters. And if people genuinely disagree on whether certain things are right or wrong, then the solidity of our reality is far from set.

And if our interpretation of reality is indeed malleable, why would we ever shape it in a way that causes distress? In other words, if I find strawberries delicious, why would I ever interpret the act of eating them as sadistic? By plucking it from the bush and consuming it, I’m clearly ending the fruitful-existence of the strawberry — but why would I want to see that as cruel?

Instead, I choose to see it as a celebration of life. The strawberry and my body are part of a choreographed dance in which we coordinate to make the cycle-of-life happen. It’s a beautiful thing. There’s nothing grotesque or brutish about it. And deep down I see the entire scene as flickering pixels anyway, there was nothing truly lost and nothing truly gained (except for the entertainment value of the experience).

Yet, there’s things I do interpret negatively, resulting in an associated experience of distress. For instance, I hate cheesecake — f*ck that stuff, I’m sorry but it’s gross. Look, now I’m all upset, and it’s stupid-cheesecake’s fault! I told you that crap was no good. But the question is, why would I do that to myself? Why bother to interpret something as bad when it changes NOTHING but my mood (from good to bad)?

Stupid right? And the solution is obvious. If I want to remain in a good mood, I should simply accept life as it is and assign a pleasant interpretation to EVERYTHING i.e. The Pollyanna Approach to Life. If that’s the obvious solution, and I’m NOT implementing it, what does that tell you? It implies that I enjoy the feeling of outrage. Oops.

Ladies and gentleman of the jury, the evidence is quite clear on this matter, the defendant is a sicko that gets-off on the anger and disgust and condemnation he feels towards life’s innocent artifacts. He conjures up the most malevolent fantasies imaginable just to feel indignation surge through his body — this is the very definition of a deranged individual.

Does negativity then qualify as an addiction? Something done for the rush yet results in distress and can’t easily be stopped? Perhaps it’s time to quit the stuff? It’s time to put down the pessimism, lay off the fear, and back away from the constant criticism. Wait, just one more scare! Come on! How about a little disparagement at least? No, no, I can’t!

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I ask for lenience. An addiction by definition is something not easily controlled. For whatever reason I became addicted to negativity — and I’ve carried that burden throughout life. I’ve paid the price for harboring such pessimism, locked in a prison of my own making. I was blind, but now I see. I can henceforth dedicate my life to a new and better perspective. And with that improved outlook I can help others who have a similar predilection for the gloom and doom.

Life Level

What if there’s another level to life that you’re missing out on? And the way in which one enters said level, is through a cultivated perspective?

Consider this: You’re watching a man use his bare hands to violently rip apart the appendages of a defenseless life-form, what he tears off he inserts into his salivating mouth. Red liquid pours down his chin as his teeth cut and gnash. After swallowing, the man smiles in delight. He performs this act over and over, seemingly enjoying the brutality of it all.

Later on, you learn that the man was in a field of ripened strawberries. He was eating the freshly picked berries and loving every bite. He then invites you to join him and you experience the delight of munching strawberries right off the bush. All of a sudden, what seemed like a horrible travesty turned into a wonderful time for you and the man.

But what if you never accepted the benevolence of consuming strawberries? What if you insisted on the brutality of the situation? What if you remained sickened by what you saw: the violence and the sadistic delight of the man? Why couldn’t he leave those plump and juicy fruits alone? They had a right to exist, and he had no right to destroy them.

That’s life on two different levels. One is a harsh and brutal level in which creatures are fueled by violence and injustice. The other level is one in which fun-seeking beings frolic amidst fields, delighting in fruits offered forth from the Earth and nourished by the sun. And the free-will with which you’re equipped, allows you to choose the level you experience.

Deciding Mind

An excerpt from the Parts of the Mind series.

What is it that the deciding-mind actually decides?

First, the deciding-mind is NOT to be used for directing the course of your life. That’s the role of the path-finding-mind. When the deciding-mind is used to steer your life, things go to shit. The deciding-mind can’t predict the future — how the heck is it supposed to know what to do next? Any decision would be a shot-in-the-dark. And what’s worse, is when the deciding-mind is weak, and the thinking-mind bosses him around — then some really stupid-shit is bound to happen.

The path-finding-mind is already well-equipped to steer you on your path, it doesn’t need any help. It’s got all those preferences and goals built-in, like a map, ya simply follow it all the way to the end. That is, as long as the thinking-mind doesn’t get in the way — diverting or stopping you in your tracks. This takes us back to the original question: what does the deciding-mind decide?

The deciding-mind is the manager. But to be a good manager, he has to stay out of everyone’s way, his role is to ensure a pleasant work-environment for all parts of the mind. A lot of his job deals with keeping the thinking-mind quiet so that the path-finding-mind and the inspirational-mind can do what they need to do. He can do this because he has the power-of-will — he can direct focus or even shut things down if necessary.

For example, say the thinking-mind is going nuts and is chattering all over the place. The deciding-mind can say “ENOUGH!” and shut that shit right down. As long as he keeps it up, the thinking-mind won’t have any choice but to zip it. If your mind is not a productive place, then it’s likely that you have an ineffectual manager in charge. The deciding-mind gains confidence by doing his job — every time he silences the thinking-mind, he gets a feel for his power and it grows.

Meditation is a great practice for demonstrating to the thinking-mind who’s in charge. The deciding-mind decides to set aside some time to sit still, perpetually monitoring the thinking-mind. Just watching. Not say anything, just staring right at the thinking-mind. Observing. The thinking-mind feels the gaze and gets the message. After twenty minutes, you’re good. But it can’t stop there, the practice must be applied to everyday life — and it’s the deciding-mind’s responsibility to do it.

Summary. The deciding-mind decides if you’re going to have a good day. He does this by rooting out dysfunction in the office. The path-finding-mind and the inspirational-mind are self-starters who don’t need micro-managing, but they do need quiet. The thinking-mind is the trouble-maker that must be kept in line. And the conscious-mind is the customer that continually consumes the product.

Parts of the Mind

There’s consciousness, which is just pure non-judgmental awareness. This is the watcher. This is the part that without, your life would be lived unobserved. If a tree falls in the woods i.e. when something happens in your life — the consciousness is what witnesses the sound and the action of it all. This is the part that sits quietly in the audience taking it all in. And as an open-minded audience member, the consciousness is there to enjoy the show and doesn’t criticize the scenes unfolding before it.

Speaking of which, the thinking-mind, the part that’s responsible for the incessant and unrepentant internal-dialog, WILL criticize — as well as disparage, denigrate, and condemn. This part of the mind is the source of negativity that oftentimes spoils the experience of existence. The goal of meditation for instance, is usually to quiet the thinking-mind. By focusing on something in particular, the mind becomes engaged, and no longer allows thoughts to flow in freely (this improves with practice).

Then there’s the part of the mind that’s the source of creativity, the inspirational-mind. This is the quiet-kid that sits in the back, ignored because of the chatter-box class-clown stealing all the attention i.e. the thinking-mind. But when the class finally calms, this is the part that pipes-up and says something so profound that everyone turns around and says “whoa”. This is another reason why we want to dedicate ourselves to the practice of quieting the thinking-mind: to encourage the inspirational-mind to speak.

The thinking-mind isn’t such a bad kid by-the-way, it just lacks discipline and an appropriate outlet. It’s amusing when properly contained — but when running rampant, it causes chaos by clinging to anything that captures its attention. It should not be allowed to takeover and become the forefront of the mind. And this of course is the role of the deciding-mind, the one with the power-of-will to direct focus. This is the part that instills discipline through concentration and choice.

An unbalanced mind is one in which the thinking-mind influences the deciding-mind — it’s letting the class-clown run the show. But the better approach is to let the path-finding-mind lead the way. This is the part that is imprinted with preferences and knows just where to go. This part is temperamental, so the deciding-mind has to stay out of the way and let the path-finder do its thing — otherwise there will be pain.

The worst possible scenario is allowing the inspirational-mind to be drowned-out by the thinking-mind who proceeds to advise the deciding-mind who then ignores the path-finding-mind. If that happens, you’re rekt while the poor conscious-mind sits helplessly watching the shit-show unfold. Whereas the best possible scenario is the one in which the deciding-mind focuses up, disciplining the thinking-mind, allowing the inspirational-mind to contribute, letting the path-finding-mind steer the ship — all while the conscious-mind enjoys an interesting tale of fun and adventure.

To summarize:
Conscious-mind: the awareness that watches.
Thinking-mind: the boisterous bigmouth that must be contained.
Inspirational-mind: the creative artist that thrives with silence.
Deciding-mind: the keeper of the calm.
Path-finding-mind: the scout that knows the way.