Competition Earth

If I was beginner and quickly glanced at the world, I’d assume that the challenges I’d be dealing with would be competitive in nature. I’d have to compete against other students in academics, other suitors in mate-selection, other merchants in business, I’d even have to compete against nature itself in terms of health and longevity. WRONG!

It turns out that my primary challenge here on Earth deals with reconciling my existence. HUH!?? In other words, I’m constantly fighting against life, I don’t want to participate and my mind is barraged with negative thoughts (fear, frustration, pessimism). In the literary-narrative sense, the conflict I experience has only ever been “man versus self”.

No offense, but I think that’s dumb. Why have a giant interactive world in which I spend most of my time trying to get into the groove of things? In the game Minecraft for example, I don’t spend most of my time sitting quietly in a cave, I’m either mining or foraging or building — it’s that simple. So what’s up?

If I did spend all of my time sitting-still inside a cave in Minecraft, what would you assume? Probably that I’m doing it wrong. Maybe I’m taking it too seriously and I’m petrified of zombies and creepers — maybe I’m not appreciating the fun of finding resources in order to build a home and a life inside of the Minecraft universe.

So who messed up? Me or the world? To be honest, I’m not a very competitive person, so if competition was the sole point of Earth, then I’m not that interested. Even in Minecraft, I’m not the biggest fan of full-on survival-mode — it’s a bit too intense and I can only take it in short bursts. I think I’m more of a creative-mode guy: invincible with infinite resources.

I should probably just put in a request to have my game-mode switched to creative. I know there’s the danger of things getting boring once the intensity drops to zero, but at this point I think I’m ready to handle it. My gameplay over the years pretty much proves my inability to deal with survival-mode, so it’s time to try a new approach.

Dear Administrator of the Earth-server, I come to you in humble supplication. I respectfully request my game-mode to be switched to creative. If it’s already in creative-mode, and I’ve been too dumb to realize it, please provide me with a glaringly obvious sign — apparently I’m an idiot. Thank you again for this great and awesome world, it’s truly an impressive feat. I very much want to enjoy it to the fullest and I think this change will help in that regard. Yours truly, gamer-tag: Rich.

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Bad Stuff

But Rich, if the world is a benevolent experience, what about all the bad stuff that happens?

From a simulated or dreamlike perspective, bad things aren’t really happening. EVERYTHING you see is flickering pixels. Dark red blood isn’t an actual substance, it’s simply RGB (139,0,0) located at a particular x,y,z coordinate. And the chaotic scenes you perceive are scripted drama that someone is fantasizing about.

Not everyone you see is a fully-fleshed-out character. People are potential, and that potential is not always realized. In other words, there are many dreams that aren’t dreamt to fruition. There are supporting characters that are necessary in a particular scene, but there’s no reason to stick-around after that. They’re like a shopkeeper in a video-game, just a temporary plot device.

In every “good” video-game or movie, “bad stuff” happens — “bad stuff” is necessary to make the gameplay or plot more interesting. In that sense, “bad stuff” isn’t bad at all — it’s what excites and energizes the audience, it’s what underlies all our engaging entertainment. Heroes can’t exist without “bad stuff” happening.

And by the way, if unequivocally “bad” stuff happened all the time, the world and everyone on it would’ve been annihilated a thousand times over by now. So instead of “bad stuff”, let’s just say that “dramatic stuff” happens. Basically, we sit passively while watching the drama unfold before us — all in good fun of course.

So to sum up: bad stuff doesn’t happen, dramatic stuff happens for the purpose of engaging our attention and providing endless entertainment.

Animal to Avatar

So basically, I’ve gone from a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape to an invincible avatar within a simulated world. Neat huh?

In the first scenario, I was always worried and had a horrible time. I believed the world to be a torture chamber in which I was simply waiting in line as my time-of-doom approached. The uncertainty of “how” and “when” was part of the torment. Basically: “Life sucks, then you die.”

Whereas in the second scenario, I’m a carefree sprite just wandering through fantasyland. Existence is a benevolent experience designed for my enjoyment and the world is a fulfillment generator in which dreams come true. Basically, life is a gift I’ve been generously given.

At this time, I’m still trying to wrap my head around the second scenario. Over the course of a few decades, the falsity of the first scenario has been proven to me. There’s no denying it. Yet the second scenario doesn’t quite feel true. Logically and evidence-wise, it’s true beyond a reasonable doubt — but “feeling-wise” it seems a little off.

For so many years, I was heavily invested in the idea that this is a physical world ruled by a mixture of natural-selection and random-chance. I was certain that this world didn’t care one whit about me, that I needed to struggle in order to survive, and that a lack of vigilance on my part would result in certain death. This was a very scary perspective to maintain.

But because I was so scared, I inadvertently proved that the pessimistic perspective was wrong. By hiding away in fright, I proved that doing nothing can result in something. If the world truly didn’t care, I should’ve wasted away — but that’s not what happened. The world was looking out for me and made sure I progressed in small palatable ways.

So because I’m still here and because I’m doing well DESPITE all that I refused to do, it proves that existence is a benevolent experience. For instance, I refused to develop a career or get a job, I refused to go out and meet people, I refused to leave the house, I refused to get involved in stuff, and I certainly refused to have a good attitude — I basically refused to participate in life. YET here I am. HUH!!??

Not only am I here, but I’m doing quite well. WHAT!!?? Based on my previous perspective, that outcome should be impossible. Therefore, I’ve proven that perspective false. I have no other option but to realize the truth of my situation: the world not only knows of my presence but is actively ensuring my well-being.

Of course that makes me feel like an idiot. It’s like showing up at a surprise-party thrown in my honor and I go around reprimanding each and every guest for scaring me when they yelled “Surprise!”. Oops. And what’s worse, is that I still treat them rudely because they shouldn’t have scared me like that.

So that’s where I’m at: trying to get over myself and my bad attitude. I know this is a great party and I know I should be enjoying it, yet I still have lingering suspicions and a bit of contempt. But at least I realize that it’s MY job to get rid of my negativity — I get it now. I had no right to be offended or scared or anything at all. I should appreciate the party, stop complaining, participate, remember that I’m an invited guest, behave appropriately, and treat everyone else with respect.

Invincible Deduction

Could invincibility be real?

If the world is a simulation or a dream, then yes, the concept of invincibility could be true. In the case of a simulation or dream, my consciousness likely resides outside of the world I’m experiencing. At some point, my consciousness might even imagine the death of its in-world avatar — but so what? My consciousness would likely begin a new game or have another dream. Eventually, every game or dream reaches its natural conclusion (or the player/dreamer gets bored) and the game/dream ends.

Although the world is made to feel like a concrete physical reality, it can be deduced that my in-world character is being helped along the way. Either my consciousness, or the world itself, is purposefully keeping me alive so that I can prolong my experience here. If this were an actual physical reality, I would’ve contracted a deadly-disease or tripped and cracked my skull or simply starved to death already — in other words, physical survival is not something I deal with here.

In one sense, invincibility is the most logical conclusion at this point. In my own personal example, I’ve been alive for several decades and I’ve literally done NOTHING to ensure my survival. Well-prepared food just happens to appear everyday, I’m living in a nice place, I’m well-dressed in appropriate clothing, I’m utilizing advanced technology to type these words, the weather’s warm and inviting — all these things are gifts given to me, I’ve done nothing to earn them.

Perhaps I’m a clueless moron that fails to appreciate everything that’s done on my behalf — but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m able to thrive without any effort on my part. The only hardship I’ve been afflicted with, is the inability to appreciate all of these gifts. And that makes sense of course: who is the only enemy of the invincible? The self. And it’s true: my greatest enemy is myself and my greatest obstacle is trying to feel gratitude for the gift of existence.

So at least from my perspective, invincibility is real. Despite my complete and utter inability and ignorance, I haven’t lost — in fact, I’ve only gained as I’ve wandered through life. And the only thing that has come close to defeating me, is myself. Yet why would I want to defeat myself? Why should I reject this world? Why not simply appreciate existence? I should really stop trying to sabotage my experience here — it’s a dumb thing to do. And seeing that I’m actually invincible, there’s nothing to be scared of.

Upgrading Narratives

By its nature, invincibility doesn’t need to be tested, there’s nothing to prove. For the invincible, the outcome is certain: I win every time. Therefore, invincibility doesn’t result in a desire for conquest — if anything, invincibility breeds patience and compassion. “These poor little people, what hope can they have against my might, I could squash them as insects — yet I won’t, I will show them my benevolent nature instead, for I am a kindhearted god amongst mere mortals.”

Perhaps invincibility isn’t for everyone, but for those that are always anxious, it’s simply a different story you can tell yourself. Is it any less of a lie than telling yourself: “I’m a worthless wretch that’s subject to the whims and ways of an uncaring world”? No, and in fact it’s a better story, a story in which you feel good about yourself instead of like a fragile creature struggling for survival amidst a harsh and brutal landscape.

If you sit in fear, afraid to venture out, now sit in superiority with no need to prove what you already know. The outcome’s the same, yet in the second scenario you feel like a magnanimous ruler. But I’ll tell you this: with the feeling of invincibility flowing through your thoughts, you’ll become energized — oh yes! You’ll start moving around. And wandering through the world won’t feel dangerous anymore, it’ll seem as a mild stroll through a comfortably familiar place.

This superpower already exists within you, you simply need to release it. All you have to do is trade the scary stories you keep telling yourself for stories of invincibility. You’ve already proven that you’re an effective storyteller: you’re scared shitless — that’s all the proof you need. Now let the narrative of an invincible-you begin. See yourself as the indomitable-being that NOTHING can overcome. Feel the power surging, the pure energy flowing, witness yourself emerging, reborn to a new narrative in which YOU are the very definition of supremacy. Repeat after me: “I am invincible.”

Telling Tales

Can you tell yourself a story that’ll make you upset? For instance: “I just heard a noise and I’m pretty sure it’s zombies that came to destroy me.” If you can do that, does that mean you can also tell yourself a story that’ll make you feel good? For example: “I just heard a noise and I’m pretty sure it’s Santa Claus that came to deliver an early Christmas present — I can’t wait to open it!!!”

And what if you keep telling yourself pleasant stories from now on? THAT is how you have a great life. Perpetually telling yourself stories that make you feel good, while refraining from telling yourself stories that make you feel bad, is mental discipline. Neither story is necessarily true, they’re merely inspired by true events.

You have a choice in every situation: tell yourself a dour tale or a delightful one. And because YOU get to make that choice, it means YOU decide whether you have a great life or a nasty one. It’s that simple: if you’re going to keep telling stories to yourself, you might as well make them as pleasant as possible.

As a Man Thinketh – notes

My notes/summary/interpretation of the book As a Man Thinketh (1903) by James Allen.

A poem by James Allen:

Mind is the Master power that moulds and makes,
And Man is Mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of Thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills:–
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking-glass.

Thoughts are the incantation by which we conjure our character and circumstances. It’s as simple as this: good things come of good thoughts — bad things come of bad thoughts.

Through our thoughts we create the world we experience. Through patience, practice, and persistence our thoughts can be molded to bring forth the best of life.

Like a garden, the mind is forever producing whether we tend to it or not. Without effort, the mind becomes overrun with weeds — whereas with some attention, a pleasant crop can be planted.

Chance is not a thing — we find ourselves exactly where we think we should be. If we believe in frustrating circumstances, our experiences will reflect this belief. But as control over thought increases, circumstances likewise come under control.

We gravitate towards whatever excites, whether it be from love or from fear. Our experiences are grown from our thoughts — we reap what we sow. External circumstances do not make us who we are — they merely reveal our underlying pattern of thought.

We don’t receive our various wishes and wants, but the sum of what we think. Thoughts have the power to imprison or delight — we experience whichever situation we earn through the cultivation of thought.

If we find ourself in miserable conditions, we can know our mind is rife with miserable thoughts. Thoughts are the cause and circumstance the effect. External improvement begins and ends within.

We often frustrate ourself with conflicting thoughts — wanting with one thought while thwarting with another. While it’s obvious that only oak trees come from acorns, the same is true with thoughts: good thoughts produce good things — bad thoughts produce bad things.

Improvement starts when criticizing and complaining end, when blaming others stops, when unpleasant conditions are used as the reflection of inner conditions, and when constructive and worthwhile thoughts become the new foundation of mind.

As the inside changes, the outside follows along. What looked confusing, unfair, and corrupt becomes well-ordered, fair, and honest.

Of course hateful and fearful thoughts lead to negative outcomes, whereas loving and gentle thoughts lead to positive outcomes. As we relax, life gets easier. When we stop our thoughts from thrashing about, the waves of the world are no longer stirred.

The body becomes what the mind believes. Sickness and well-being manifest based on habit of thought. Anxious and fearful thoughts welcome disease into the body whereas thoughts of joy and vitality strengthen the body.

It is not the diet that needs changing, but the corrupted thoughts that necessitated it. The finest thoughts naturally bring about a healthful diet. To defend the body, discipline the mind.

Thoughts of spite, jealousy, disappointment, and hopelessness act as poison on the body. The expression and agedness of the face readily reveal the thoughts we believed to be hidden within. Even death comes as peacefully as we believe it to come.

Cheerful thoughts can cure whereas pessimism can kill. Through our thoughts we confine ourself to a self-made prison or we enter through the doorway of heaven on earth.

By focusing on a purpose, the mind is made easier to control. By following our nature, devoting ourself to our duty, thoughts are concentrated. Upon this path, fear and doubt are our greatest enemies and must be slain without hesitation.

Whatever we accomplish or fail to accomplish, our own thoughts make it so. This is the very definition of individual responsibility. On one hand, we only have power over our own thoughts — but on the other hand, this provides us with an ability to alter the world we experience.

In this sense, the oppressor and the oppressed are cooperating in the creation of suffering. Both are afflicted with low-quality thoughts by ignorance. Both require improvement in thinking.

Through uplifting thoughts, we rise in the world. Through pessimistic thoughts, we sink in the world. For accomplishment and lasting success, effort must be applied to disciplining the mind.

The dreams we nurture will one day manifest. If we fantasize the worst, then we’ll achieve it. Whereas when we lovingly tend to the best of what we envision, we’ll achieve that. There is no good or bad luck, simply good or bad thoughts. Those we maintain, remain.

Strive to stay in a serene state. Practice remaining calm.

“The sunny shore of your ideal awaits your coming. Keep your hand firmly upon the helm of thought. In the bark* of your soul reclines the commanding Master; He does but sleep: wake Him. Self-control is strength; Right Thought is mastery; Calmness is power.”

* “bark” in this context likely means “ship” as in a “sailing ship”.