Life on Manual

I know survival isn’t a do-it-yourself option, there’s just no way, it’s too basic for remaining in the game. Yes, I can grab the steering wheel and grind against the guide-tracks and create a lot of sparks and crap-up the ride-car — but overall, the underlying maintenance of the body is an automatic process best left alone. It seems like “worry” and “unnecessary intervention” are the truer causes of bodily malfeasance.

Although to me, it feels like certain aspects of digestion and sleep are Tamagotchi-like. If I don’t find the correct combination of dietary items, then my digestion complains. And if I don’t find the right routine for sleep, I don’t feel rested. I’ve yet to find that routine by the way, I’m still searching after all these decades to find a decent night’s rest: An Epic Quest for Rest.

Whereas food procurement has always been an automatic event for me. Food is placed in an easily accessible location and I eat it — simple as that. Personal protection is another thing automatically taken care of — there’s nothing to defend myself from. Unfortunately, I was super paranoid during the first few decades of existence and thought I had to be at full-alert and ready for battle. Long story short: I spent a lot of time being unnecessarily anxious. I don’t do that anymore and life has become a lot more pleasant — and I’m still unharmed despite my lack of vigilance.

In contrast to those automatic events, “appreciation” is something that’s clearly NOT on automatic. I don’t like much. I tend to reject and down-vote and criticize and hate on everything that passes through my perception. I’m finally trying to get a handle on manual appreciation and I’m focusing specifically on aspects of life that I like — this process has improved my experience so far.

In regards to my path through life, I’m not sure what’s going on there. I don’t do much, so I’m kinda assuming that it requires manual intervention. Or am I simply applying the brake and won’t let go? I could be a complete screw-up grinding my ride-car against the guide-tracks, fighting a preset path the entire time — but I’m not sure. My current strategy is to focus on whatever I find fun and interesting throughout the day.

Knowledge procurement seems like an automatic process too. I just kinda know things — talents and abilities are obviously related to this. For example, I seem to know how to use particular tools, they feel right in my hand and they move appropriately for the assigned task. It’s selective though, I know some things and definitely don’t know other things.

Basically, “manual” for me deals with getting myself under control. There is a stream of thought turbulently swirling through my mind and this condition tends to keep me in a constant state of negativity. So I must manually rein-in these thoughts and deliberately adjust my attention to focus on whatever I enjoy. That’s it. That’s the manual control I must master in order to win this game.

Standing Guard

Do you agree that thoughts form the foundation of the life you experience?

Yes! Most assuredly!

And in order to have the best life possible, you must tend to your mental garden? Negative thoughts must be plucked like weeds and positive thoughts must be planted like seeds?

Of course! How else can the mind grow into a delightful space!?

So let me ask you this, how much time during the day do you spend at this task?

Uh, say wha now? Oh, um, a few minutes per day perhaps.

Ah, well with that, I believe we found the underlying reason as to why you can’t sleep at night. Because you already sleep all day! You’re constantly running on autopilot, shirking your gardening duties and letting everything in your mind run amok! There’s weeds everywhere!

Listen: to be “awakened” literally means to be awake and aware of what’s happening throughout the day. You can’t let yourself fall into autopilot all day long. You actually need to do some work to achieve a well-groomed mind. And that work is this: don’t allow negative thoughts to take root, pull them whenever you find them. You’ll have to regularly scan through your mental-garden to know they’re there.

I know it seems like a burden for you to put effort into something, but that’s the trade-off. You get a beautiful joy-filled garden if you cultivate and maintain it, whereas you get an overgrown litter-box if you allow it to go wild. You must remain present throughout the day and be aware of what’s going on in your mind. You can’t just “checkout” and let “whatever” happen.

You’re always like “blah blah, I don’t have any goals or purpose, blah”. THIS is your purpose!!! Garden! Actually DO IT! The message has been repeated before your very eyes ONE-THOUSAND TIMES over the course of your life. Now DO IT! There is no drawback to this. Yes it seems like “a lotta hassle” but the payoff is a thousand times better than not doing it. Just stay awake and aware throughout the day, that’s it!

Attacked by Life

Dear Rich, will life come after me, perhaps even outright attack me?

Oh of course, yes, definitely. But in those instances, life is doing your bidding — you are the one orchestrating the hit.

If you’re afraid of life, your wish will be granted. Insects, animals, diseases, injuries, verbal assaults, physical violence — they’ll be coming for you, no doubt. On the brighter side, it shows how good you are at manifesting your wishes into the world — nice job!

If you don’t want to keep attacking yourself, that’s an option too — and that starts by stopping yourself from being afraid. If you’re full of fear, it obviously takes a leap of faith and some commitment in order to let your guard down.

But really, it doesn’t take much of a leap. If life really wanted to get you, you’d be dead already. Obviously life is a benevolent caretaker or you’d be squashed a thousand times over by now.

And because of all the silly/stupid stuff that’s happened in your life, you can easily establish that this is a self-directed drama. No external being is going to take credit for a narrative this ridiculous. In your confused state, you did all this to yourself.

Every bad thing that happens to you should be like an alarm-clock waking you up to the fact that you’re asleep at the wheel. Did something unpleasant occur? Oops. Snap out of it, you were being pessimistic/disparaging/anxious/suspicious again, weren’t you?

Life is very responsive, it’ll do what you ask. Think something is dangerous? Oh, it is. Think something will work out poorly? Oh, it will. But luckily, life is looking out for you and tries to prevent your worst wishes from happening. Your persistence will eventually pay off though — so if you really want things to get nasty, just keep at it.

In summation: if you enjoy being attacked, life will accommodate you. Whereas if you don’t want to be attacked, don’t wish for it. The way in which you wish for it, is through your thoughts and attitude. Through practice and focus, you can change your thoughts and attitude to whatever delivers the life that suits you best.

A Happy Tedium

Dear Rich, what’s the biggest obstacle to the pursuit of happiness?

Well, the pursuit of happiness is not an external path, it’s an internal one that primarily deals with the cultivation of a positive attitude and the appreciation of life. So at its essence, the pursuit of happiness is the development of discipline — and developing discipline isn’t very “fun” or exciting. By its nature, the practice of discipline is a bit tedious.

So, I think the biggest obstacle on the path to happiness is boredom from the lack of excitement and the repetitiveness of the practice. The turbulence and terror you’ve been imagining begins to calm down and life literally becomes less exciting. Plus, it’s easy to forget the path you’re on — reminders don’t work for very long — eventually you become “nose-blind” to their presence.

So, the pursuit of happiness requires discipline and faith. You must be able to force yourself to continue a practice even though it’s not immediately enjoyable — all while believing that the effort will eventually pay off. AND, you must remember to keep pursuing this goal despite all the distractions that come your way.

The practice of happiness has to compete against your usual practice of freaking yourself out. One path is not very exciting whereas the other will have your heart pumping and your sweat surging. You’ll have to get comfortable with silence, with calm, with just being. No more scaring yourself in order to alleviate boredom: OH NO WHAT’S THAT NOISE!!! HOLY CRAP I’M GONNA DIE!!!!

You have to set a new normal. Can you simply sit there and enjoy right-now? If you want to be happy, that’s the ticket required for admission. Otherwise, you’ll start introducing anxiety-inducing fodder into the story. Think of it this way: you can engage in each moment from a perspective of apprehension and revulsion or amusement and appreciation — it’s your choice.

But as I said, the choice isn’t that easy. One option is the undisciplined approach, an exciting ride filled with fear that requires no effort at all — and the other option is the disciplined approach that requires an active practice of cultivating positivity and appreciation (which is more mundane by design). One option is hard due to the intensity involved — and the other option is hard because of the discipline involved — but either way, it’s your choice.

Dreamlike Emissions

The stupid stuff I’ve witnessed confirms that this is not a static story. For example, when I accidentally stabbed my thumb with a large kitchen knife, or when I birthed a turd so big it choked the toilet, or that time my wife served beans that gave me such foul-smelling emissions that she literally left the state in disgust.

In other words, a self-created world makes the most sense because of all the absurd scenarios that’ve happened. No one is going to create a prefabricated narrative this idiotic. The imbecilic scenes prove that circumstances are manifesting in realtime. AND! This is very good news indeed!

It means two things. One, the story isn’t set-in-stone, I can alter it anytime. Two, if I created such worthless crap, I’m still an actual creator, I just have to focus on delightful tales instead of crap. It turns out the world doesn’t suck, I’m just a very bad storyteller! Yay? But how does one actually “write” their story? Well that’s obvious.

It’s through expectations. For example, what do I expect to receive in the mail today? A past-due notice for a bill — or an offer to upgrade my Internet-connection to synchronous gigabit fiber? Do I expect a small ache to go away — or to grow into something much more nefarious? Do I expect an appliance to work — or do I expect that it reached the end of its lifespan?

That’s it folks, the riddle’s been solved. A shitty life is the product of a shit-focused perspective. In other words, if life sucks, then constant-criticism and pessimism are to blame. This entire experience has been too silly to have been externally directed — that leaves one primary suspect as its author: me.

Therefore, if I’m not living a completely awesome adventure, then the problem lies with me alone. This is obviously a dreamlike experience, and I keep torturing the shit outta my character. Sorry bro. From here on out I’m gonna try my darnedest to expect nothing but the best for you. I’m gonna remain present as much as possible and keep my focus on awesomeness.

Zombie Life

Zombie-life and you: An Introduction

Unfortunately, the zombie apocalypse already happened. And so sorry to tell you, but yes, that means you’re a zombie. No, you didn’t escape it. But hey, at least you’re on the winning side!

So what can you expect as a zombie? Well you’re obviously overrun by irrational thought. You’re basically a monster lashing out at the world around you. Everything seems unpleasant and it’s as though your fellow zombies are all jerks and you feel like your body is decaying rapidly.

You will basically continue on this mindless rampage until your eventual collapse and your body is buried under dirt or fricasseed by fire. Well, that is unless you evoke the antidote. But nah, why would you do that? You’re a zombie and zombies don’t make rational decisions remember?

Well, except if a little bit of humanity still lives within you? Okay, if you’re not a complete zombie, I’ll explain the situation. Being an actual zombie is somewhat different than you’d expect. Yes, you have a bad attitude toward everything in your path. Yes, you tend to confront others. And yes, you do feed on human flesh, but not in the sense that you think.

Your zombie-ness comes from an unconscious adherence to a mental toxicity that’s taken over your brain. Your mind is outputting some nasty hallucinations and you’re blindly believing them while acting accordingly. Step one, is to realize that any thoughts you’re having are not to be trusted — they’re likely delusions.

No one said applying the antidote was going to be easy — you’re going to have to fight against this deluge of delusion for quite some time. You need to force yourself into believing that the outside world is NOT in a post-apocalyptic state, it’s fine. You need to force yourself into believing that everyone around you is NOT out to get you. You need to force yourself into believing that your body is NOT falling apart.

As a zombie, you have an obsession with flesh, it’s true. You over-identify with it, that’s part of your problem. EVERYTHING you do tends to center around this flesh fixation: your appearance, other people’s appearance, aging, illness, how things affect your flesh — it’s nuts. You have a flesh-based focus.

So step two, is weaning yourself off the flesh. So things like sickness and death, how your body is holding-up, injuries, what’s going on with your face, your skin, teeth, whatever — you’re done with this kind of stuff now — g’bye! You can engage in any hygienic-routine that you enjoy, but nothing that originates from a place of fear (or else that’s the toxicity talking).

Zombies live in a harsh and brutal world, so if you no longer want to be a zombie, then you must train yourself to see past the zombie-induced delusions. Trust the world you’re in and trust the people around you. Even if you think they’re zombies, and they may very well be, treating them like human-beings will help to cure your condition as well as theirs — it’s win-win.

I’ve probably said too much already for your zombified-brain to handle, so I’ll stop here. Just realize that if you have any humanity left, and you no longer want to be a zombie, then stop listening to your thoughts, they’re noxious lies that are influencing your perception. Then, stop focusing on the fragility of flesh, it feeds a poisonous perspective. If you can keep this up, more and more of your humanity will keep returning to you. Good luck!

Now – Chapter 5

This is my interpretation of the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

Chapter 5

Presence isn’t something you can think about, it’s the opposite of thinking, it’s the state of full-awareness of right-now. Be a predator whose prey is thoughts. When thoughts are allowed to flow freely, they’ll take you on a reckless ride downstream into unconsciousness. Keep your focus on right-now and you can’t get lost in thought.

How can you experience existence from an unconscious state? Obviously the ideal way to experience existence is from a conscious state while fully aware of what’s happening in front of you. If you’re too busy thinking about perceived problems, concocted pasts, and speculated futures, how can you appreciate actual life?

Consciousness increases as the span between an experience and its related commentary increases. Commenting on an experience is not the same as actual experiencing. For example, saying something is delicious isn’t the same as literally experiencing the sensations related to deliciousness. You should focus on the experiencing and skip the commentary.

Consider this perspective: what if the world is a dream, and everything in this dream originates from a single source: the dreamer. Every rock, every plant, every animal, every person, forms out of the dreamer’s consciousness. And the dreamer’s consciousness underlies every character’s consciousness — so there’s no genuine separateness, just a manufactured division for dramatic purposes. Characters come and go but it doesn’t matter — every part is played by a persona of the dreamer.

Now consider that the dreamer crafts each character so well and so elaborately, that a character believes himself a true individual living his own unique life. Believing himself separate and alone and subject to death, the character suffers. When he suffers enough, he finally rejects his fragility and realizes the underlying truth that he (along with everything else) is a manifestation of the dreamer.

Through this process, the dreamer is becoming aware of the dream through the awakening of characters. These very words are the dreamer’s. And you are a character in the dreamer’s dream. In essence, every interaction is the dreamer interacting with the dreamer. Some characters are simply more present and conscious than others — though ultimately, there is but one dreamer.

Now – Chapter 4

This is my interpretation of the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

Chapter 4

To understand who you are, you’ve mostly looked to the past — and for fulfillment, you’ve mostly looked to the future. But this time-based approach to life is a recipe for suffering. The path to satisfaction is through presence. Simply notice when you’re not present, and you become present. Keep choosing to focus on right-now and it’ll become your default.

To be unconscious, is to be lost in a nightmare. Your reactions to life’s circumstances will be fear-driven and unpleasant. But when you keep watch on your thoughts and feelings, asking if you’re okay, you become conscious by observing yourself. And when things are okay internally, the external falls in line.

Scan your body for signs of tension. Observe the types of thoughts your mind is generating. Notice whether the emotions you’re reacting with are pleasant or not. Do not allow the mind to pollute your experience with negativity. Let it go. Negativity is the pathway to pain and suffering. Avoid it like poison.

To disparage right-now by complaining, sours your experience. How can you enjoy something while insulting it at the same time? Instead of this doomed approach to life, it’s better to appreciate whatever’s right in front of you. If fear prevents you from doing something, observe the fear, witness it while remaining present — it will dissipate.

Accepting a situation as it is, by surrendering, by releasing all resistance, is a power you can wield whenever you want to be satisfied in an otherwise unacceptable situation. Stress is a conflict created by the mind, it wants something it doesn’t have — but if you don’t engage in this manufactured tug-of-war, there’s no longer tension on the rope. Just watch the mind and be amused by its antics.

Let every moment merge back into the raw-material that formed it. Keep your focus on right-now. When worried, watch your breath, feel it flowing in and out. What problem do you have at this exact moment? You can always deal with right-now. Don’t attempt to forecast the future.

Are you waiting until certain conditions are met in order to be happy? In other words, is the present just a worthless good-for-nothing while all the awesome-things in life are waiting for you in the future? If this is the case, you’re making yourself suffer needlessly. The time for appreciation and enjoyment of life is now, not later.

If you can’t enjoy right-now, you won’t be able to enjoy the future, no matter what the circumstances. The feeling of unfulfillment will follow you wherever you go. Waiting is a poor practice, avoid it — appreciate right-now instead. If you’re acknowledging the present, you won’t need to wait, you’ll have the greatness that’s in this moment.

What’s realer than right-now? And are you fully awake while experiencing right-now? If not, why not? What good is getting anywhere in this world if you’re unconscious while doing so? The first step is to become conscious. Then, any step afterwards becomes a fun adventure for an awakened consciousness experiencing existence.

The past has past, let it go. By scrutinizing the past, you’ll lose yourself in it and find much suffering. The present, experienced by a consciousness uncorrupted by thought, is where you’ll find yourself. By remaining present, the past and its associated pain disperse, and you find peace.

Now – Chapter 3

This is my interpretation of the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

Chapter 3

To live unconsciously, is to let the thinking-mechanism of the mind lead the way. But the thoughts generated by this mechanism are chaotic and often negative, creating a corrupted experience of existence. You are not these thoughts nor should they lead the way. Consciousness on its own, uncorrupted by thought, is the way to experience existence.

The concept of time, of a past and future, is so often abused by the thinking-mechanism, that it’s not worth having. For instance, past-wrongs and future-worries cannot exist without time. It’s too easy to get lost-in-thought thinking about what-was or what-might-be — these are mere mind-created fantasies based on selective remembrance and confident conjecture.

Existence is happening right-now! Memories from the past or projections into the future aren’t actually happening when they’re envisioned in the mind — they’re concoctions of the thinking-mechanism. Staying in the present is the doorway to enlightenment — it’s the middle-way that must be maintained while abstaining from past and future musings that act as exits.

Just noticing that you’re not present, brings you into the present. Observe thoughts, feelings, and your reactions. Experience them, but don’t get lost to them. The primary object of attention should be right-now. Right-now is all there is, it’s the only reality you can actually engage with. By definition, the past no longer exists and the future hasn’t happened.

If you’re counting on circumstances in the future to make you happy, you’re doing it wrong. The condition of your consciousness right-now is what forges the future. So the way in which you improve your future is by improving your present, and the way to improve your present is to increase your awareness of it.

Worry and stress result from a focus on the future. Guilt and resentment result from a focus on the past. Focusing on anytime but the present causes you to suffer. Even if you solved all of the so-called problems that are currently causing you grief, you’d simply replace them with new versions of the same problems. You’ve only ever had one problem: your lack of presence.

The future improves through the present. Suffering today for a better tomorrow leads away from a present-day peace. Do not invest in hope, focus on presence instead. Happiness is a product of the present. Deal only with right-now. What problem are you experiencing at this exact moment?

Experience existence through the senses. Just see without criticism, hear without analysis, and touch without critique — perceive with acceptance. Notice the sensation of the body itself. Notice the breath. The mind keeps searching for solutions to problems that it creates itself. But in truth, there are no problems.

The issue is: you’ve been defining yourself by the problems you’ve had. You believe that the challenges you’ve experienced are what forged you. But the only thing these self-inflicted difficulties forged, is pain. How about developing a new definition of you? How about a you that is no longer limited by time or matter, a you that is conscious and connected to a lighthearted world?

Are you experiencing enjoyment? If not, then provide your full attention to whatever it is you’re doing. Give no concern for the result, simply focus on the actual performance of the activity. Looking at results is looking toward the future — but presence demands that you look only at the present. There is nothing you lack, you are complete right-now.

And if you’re already complete, there’s nothing to lose. You’re already whoever you need to be. There’s nothing to fear, and struggle isn’t necessary. Life is a form of play — appreciate the things of this world but ultimately they don’t matter. And with any game, success is only ever measured in enjoyment.

Now – Chapter 2

This is my interpretation of the book The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle.

Chapter 2

Misery is mostly manufactured by the thinking-mechanism of the mind. The mind creates a conflict, then maintains it with a series of strife-filled thoughts. And the more engrossed you become with the ongoing mind-based-show, the more uncomfortable you get. Whereas if you remain focused on the present, ignoring the mind’s shenanigans, the better time you’ll have.

In short, the thinking-mechanism of the mind is an attention-whore that’ll do whatever it takes to ensnare your awareness. The world is not the hellhole that the thinking-mechanism portrays it to be. Thoughts paint dour pictures of a woebegone past and a pessimistic future, slandering the actual experience of existence. Silencing these thoughts will drastically improve your experience.

Similarly to the thinking-mechanism, pent-up emotional pain is also diminished through unattached observation. When allowed to run rampant, emotional pain can turn you into a brainless zombie, feeding itself with whatever emotional situation originally created it. But there’s no need to combat this zombie with any technique other than observation and acceptance.

Getting lost in thought is a sedative that puts you to sleep — but while the mind is unconscious, the zombie rampages, driven by whatever negativity lies within. So you must become a protector of the peace by remaining conscious — allow negativity and pain to startle you awake. And through awareness and acceptance of the emotional pain within, it lessens.

Fear is a useless feeling. The thinking-mechanism believes itself under constant threat of danger. Wrong again! Do not fall for these anxiety-inducing thoughts. Remain present. Wake up from the nightmare that the thinking-mechanism of the mind created. Take back your life and start living consciously.