Entrance Fee

Having recently revisited my favorite spiritual texts (The Bhagavad Gita, The Dhammapada, and the Bible’s Matthew), I can see a common thread that I wasn’t previously focused on. And that is: when the Almighty Creator calls you back, you can’t just walk-in and sit-down next to him. You have to earn this coveted spot. There’s no free pass. The Creator doesn’t want some inept slug sitting at his table.

For example, reincarnation isn’t a reward. It means you didn’t cleanse yourself enough before arriving at the Almighty’s house. But don’t worry, you have plenty of chances to try again in your next lives. As for Jesus, he was asked who the greatest in heaven was (Matthew 18), he replied: “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven.” And in the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25), the master punished the servant that didn’t return the master’s money with interest.

In other words, you arrive upon this Earth as an unfinished lump of clay. The Almighty Creator does NOT want that unfinished clay back. He expects YOU to improve upon it and shape it throughout the course of your existence.

At your ultimate arrival, you can’t show-up empty-handed. But what can you give a Being that has everything? Cultivating your consciousness as a gift to the Almighty Creator is about all you can do. You’re returning your soul with interest.

Isn’t it rude to assume the Almighty wants you back in an unfinished state? Therefore, refine yourself into something worthy of entrance. Does your Creator love you? Sure, but He’s a Tiger-Mom that demands achievement.

I tried the “God loves and accepts me as I am” approach. But I quickly noticed an endless supply of external circumstances pecking at me – there was nowhere to hide. Something is ALWAYS pushing me towards the refinement of consciousness. I’m not good enough as-is, something wants me to improve.

When Jesus was asked which was the greatest commandment, he replied “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” And that’s what I assume he meant by becoming childlike. It’s to love unconditionally, to be eager and full of delight, lacking cynicism, approaching the world optimistically, appreciative of whatever’s provided. In other words, be the good-kid God knows you can be.

Another Entry

Well dear diary, here we are again. Let’s review and get you up to speed. Basically I was born, I was confused, I found being a human-being to be a strange and disagreeable experience. Because of that, I’ve been forever trying to fix this predicament. For decades I’ve strained to discern the solution to my problem. But, because I’m a relentless problem-solver that’s energized by defeat, I’ve readily maintained this pursuit.

If I had to guess, there’s likely no solution to be found. It’s more about the pageantry of hide-and-seek rather than actual achievement of a goal. There are times when I recognize this futility and stop looking. I figure I can coast-by in mild-discomfort. But then something really uncomfortable happens and I start searching again. I’m currently in search-mode if you couldn’t tell.

I guess you could say “the search for a solution to the inherent dissatisfaction of existence” has been my profession for all these years. That sounds a lot like the Buddha’s line-of-work. Obviously he’s been a role-model of mine since long ago. It’s said that he found a solution. And from what I can discern, his answer boils down to “mental discipline”. But that’s basically the video-gamer’s taunt of “Get good, noob!”.

I’ve spent at least a couple decades trying to get good at mental discipline. From meditation to reading various texts in the philosophical, scientific, religious, and spiritual realms – as well as completely altering my worldview. But even after all that, the path has no perceivable end. I’m not complaining per se, I mean at this point what else would I do?

I always figured I’d find the fix, implement it, and then live out the rest of my days in retirement, living the easy life. Enlightenment achieved, check. But I guess I’ll just keep tending my flock of thoughts, rambunctious though they are. Hm, maybe I shouldn’t be so resentful of their unruly nature. I mean, what’s a game without obstacles, right?

Lighthearted Path

Being a modern monk. Essentially, you’re traversing a path to the Almighty Creator. Why? The consequences of not doing so are unbearable. In other words, you’re kinda pushed onto the path and kept there by thorns on either side. But whatever, you’re on the path and the only viable option is to remain centered and keep moving forward.

Upon this path, obstacles sit in your way. Things like anger, impatience, pessimism, hopelessness, grievance, self-consciousness – essentially a turbulent mind filled with negativity. Like in any video-game, these never-ending obstacles must be avoided or else your character takes damage. To reiterate: Do not engage with negativity – it’s subtractive, it’ll lessen you. Negativity will dim your light.

Because basically, your role is to shine your light into a dark world. As you walk the path, you glow. Your radiance illuminates the path. This allows others to see the path and they’re drawn to it. You’re a beacon signaling the existence of a pathway to the Almighty Creator.

But keep in mind: you’re not shining because something’s broken or lacking. You’re not fixing anything – you’re simply following in the tradition and pageantry of illumination. Some people are bakers and they provide bread – loaves don’t just appear in the pantry. In a similar way, you provide light, you’re a lamp – you simply light the way.

Significant Spice

I think I’d like to do something more significant. Like I said previously, I cut out all the pressure and urgency from my life. That stress was fear-based, so I’m glad to be rid of it. But now what? You can’t be satisfied as a human by just “being” – you have to engage and participate with the world. But how?

I suppose that’s my next challenge – find something significant to do. Hm. There’s a lot of stuff I cut-out and don’t believe-in anymore. Well, I do like tools and woodworking – but the frivolous projects here and there don’t fully satisfy. I like watching videos and shows and movies and such – but oftentimes I run out of stuff to watch. I like hanging out with my wife and son – but nobody wants someone’s full-focus and constant attention. What to do… what to do….

And no, the combination of doing all the simple things I enjoy hasn’t worked – there’s too many lulls and gaps. I suppose I need something more complex. Or should I just try to appreciate the quietude? But I’m still too self-focused, so I think I need something beyond “me” to concentrate on. But what?

I like significant advances in engineering, such as in robotics. I like aspects of alternative building construction. Hm, maybe I’d like to venture out into the untamed wilderness and create a colony of self-sustaining robots. Imagine a wagon-train of electric vehicles rolling out and transforming into giant robots, chopping down trees and building cabins and plowing fields. Hm, now that’s cool.

Kinda sounds like I’m hoping to stumble into a crashed alien ship from Cybertron filled with Autobots. Sometimes I think my mind purposefully comes up with idealistic/fanciful ideas in order to make everyday-life seem lame. On that note, I’m sick of wrestling with my mind everyday – and I think doing something significant might keep it from wandering as much as it does.

The search for significance continues…

Puzzle Piece

Here’s another piece to the puzzle: You NEED a sense of pressure and urgency in your life. You literally can’t be a human without it. AND, if you don’t provide a source, one will be provided for you. In other words, if you don’t do your homework and come to class with something to do, you’re going to be assigned busy-work (Spoiler Alert! You won’t like it).

When I was doing my “dreamlike existence” experiment, I was able to remove a significant amount of pressure and urgency from my life. Then out of nowhere I had this really strange sensation like I was waking up from the existential dream. It freaked me out a bit. After that, I needed to do things that helped me to feel “grounded” or else I started feeling panic-attacky. In other words, I wanted to stay in the dream, so I needed to do dream-world stuff.

But it can’t be anything. And I’ve noticed that the stuff that works best is when there’s some pressure or urgency. For example, when I sharpen my tool blades, there’s a risk I could damage the delicate edge. All my attention and focus is on the task so I don’t screwup the tool. Although relatively minor, I definitely feel the pressure.

Another example: I’ve known my wife for about 25 years and she’s been my best-friend all that time. Therefore, there’s very little pressure or urgency in our interaction. In other words, our conversations aren’t very “grounding” – we talk about all sorts of crazy stuff. Whereas if I interact with my son, I’m in “dad-mode” and my parental responsibility is something I take very seriously – it definitely makes me feel “grounded”.

In my life, I spent a lot of time and effort removing pressure and urgency from my experience. I made the removal of stress my goal. In some sense it worked. “I did it! Yay!” But in another sense, I cut the strings that held me down to earth – and almost drifted away. “Oh sh*t!” But on the plus side, I cut all the stupid strings I didn’t care about anyway. Now it’s my job to anchor myself to the things I prefer (that’s my theory anyway).

And part of finding things to secure to, is finding things that feel significant. There’s got to be some pressure or urgency, it can’t be too frivolous – I tried that, and it doesn’t work. So I’m still finding my way (which puts me under pressure and provides a sense of urgency). Well that’s all for now – until next time, this is Rich signing-off, Nanu Nanu.

Superficial Journey

Something to keep in mind: I’m a superficial character in a superficial world. Therefore, I don’t have the capacity to know anything beyond these confines. Yet, I often find myself attempting to figure this world out from an external perspective. Long story short: it hasn’t worked. I know as much now as ever, which is nothing.

And I don’t really care about this existential nonsense anyway. As mentioned, I’m just a superficial character. I like tools, tech-gadgets, funny stuff, pie, and pretty gals. BUT, because I was so dissatisfied with my experience within this superficial world, I thought I could improve things by delving deep into the mechanics of the system.

I figured I could transcend my situation, emerging as an enlightened being of pure light and joy. Yet here I am, many years later, still struggling on a daily basis. But now that I think about it – what am I straining for? I suppose I’m attempting to attain “comfort and contentment”. But perhaps that’s the wrong objective. Anytime something isn’t “perfect”, conditions will fall outside of acceptable parameters. In short: if I’m uncomfortable, I’ll be upset.

All this time I’ve been trying to find a cozy spot into which I could hide-away and avoid the turbulence of the world. But after removing everything from my life that I possibly could, the turbulence is still there – it just changed form. I can therefore conclude that “comfort and contentment” is not something that can be pursued directly.

To be fair, I WAS experiencing significant improvement in my situation. My strategy seemed to be working. I thought I could ride “comfort and contentment” all the way to the end. But then I hit a wall and things stopped improving – I plateaued – and that’s a frustrating situation.

If “comfort and contentment” is an invalid objective, what’s a valid one? Perhaps “activity” and engagement with the world. In other words, you should always be doing something and participating in some sense. The “struggle” is to find something satisfying to engage with. Find what you like doing, and do it. But keep in mind: this activity and engagement should be on your terms. Don’t worry about historical precedent or logic – just do what you think is right for you. And always remember, you’re a superficial character in a superficial world – don’t get too deep.

Cycling Through

After many years of intense effort and determination, I reduced or eliminated the external factors I believed to be the sources of my problems. But after all that, there still remained an underlying discontentment. With a lack of scapegoats, I noticed something obvious. My thoughts were deluging my attention with very unpleasant scenes and ideas. Basically, “the call is coming from INSIDE the house!!”

I know I’ve come to that conclusion before. But imagine remembering the combination to a lock – you remember the numbers but not how to apply them, or you don’t remember where the lock is, or you can’t recall why you even want the lock open in the first place. There’s an inherent forgetfulness built-in and any revelation I discern doesn’t last.

But there IS an inner enemy. I’ll be sitting peacefully and appreciatively and BAM, some disturbing thought floats into my awareness. “WTF! That’s horrible! And there’s no hope!? Only pain and despair!? All is lost! Only suffering remains!” And then I eventually notice what’s going on and shut it down. “Stop bullying my consciousness you rotten miscreant! Scat! Get outta here!”

And I play this dumb whack-a-mole game again and again. I try to remain aware and on-guard as much as I can. Anytime my mind wanders it finds itself covered in muck and I’m stuck trying to calm it down and clean it up. If I had my druthers, I’d just live out the rest of my experience as a master-craftsman expressing his skill and creativity while creating admirable works of art. Well, we’ll see if I break free from this cycle.

Primary Focus

If “focus” is the ultimate influencer of experience, then what am I allowed to focus on (while ignoring everything else)?

For you Rich, you may focus on the following (but only in fun and never frustration):

(in no particular order)
Tools, woodworking, technology, engineering, computer programming, and math.
Good relations with companions.
Funny aspects of things.
Triumphant stories and comical depictions.
Lightheartedness and the sensation of joy.
(joy: warmth, weightlessness, oneness – everything is as it should be, perfect, complete.)

Watch your thoughts – if something comes into focus that isn’t on the approved list, switch it off and select something from the list. If you’re experiencing a situation that is difficult to disconnect from, attempt to focus beyond it. Ride it through calmly and quietly while trying to focus on something outside of it.

New Principle

I’ve always considered myself engineering-minded. And with that, came a desire for efficiency. Therefore, I attempted to streamline a lot of processes I performed in everyday life. I pursued efficiency in all matters. But now I realize the folly in that pursuit. It’s dumb. Efficiency itself isn’t dumb per se, but applying it to everyday tasks IS.

Essentially, it results in “hurry-up and wait”. If you’re super-efficient in everything you do, you often end-up with nothing to do. If I can prepare and consume a meal in under 10-minutes, now what? Compare that to someone that selects a recipe, shops for specific ingredients, preps everything, cooks it, eats it with a companion, cleans-up afterward – the entire meal process takes time and could fill a significant portion of the day.

What did efficiency ever get me? More time to do what, exactly? More time to apply efficiency I suppose. Cutting out as much fluff as possible and moving on to the next thing obviously hampers the ability to appreciate anything and minimizes application of an esthetic element. Keep it simple and prioritize function over form. It’s not a better way to live, it’s just a recipe for boredom and austerity.

Therefore, my new primary engineering principle to pursue is “precision”. No longer am I shaving off steps, boiling-down tasks to their barest essentials, I am now inclined to delve deeper into individual operations and pursue them with greater care and appreciation. In short: the ends will not justify the means – it’s the means that will matter most. It’s not about “perfectionism” though, it’s simply an admiration of accuracy and taking the time to do something well.

Dream Part Deux

I tried the “I’m a whimsical dream” perspective for about a month. It’s definitely powerful – but not perfect. For example, it’s difficult to reconcile “unpleasantness”. If it’s just a dream, why not dream of something better? Or does this imply that the dreamer himself is unsatisfied? Well, that’s sad. A dream can also imply that there’s no structure or order to anything whatsoever. While it’s true that I see a lot of absurdity in the world, it doesn’t seem chaotically crazy – there’s a lot of intricate detail and interesting aspects.

As far as the power that a dreamlike perspective yields: nothing is of any consequence. I don’t exist. Nothing exists. It’s all just the wavering whimsy of a bodiless consciousness persisting in space. The only dialog is the dreamer talking to himself. Additionally, it’s very easy to accept this premise as true – I haven’t found a logical deal-breaker yet. But, it evokes a feeling I don’t prefer. There’s a loneliness and a lack of significance – the dream came on in a flash and will be over in an instant. It’s an existential emptiness I suppose.

But then I took a break from that perspective… and things got noticeably worse. I guess the “cons” of the dreamlike perspective are still better than the alternative. So now I’m back to my mantra: “I’m not a human, I’m a whimsical dream”. Back to seeing an entire universe blinking in and out of existence. Back to brief vignettes of imagined physical experience. Back to being part fiction and part dreamer. Back to floating through narratives that I can brush-off or appreciate.

With lower intensity and less responsibility, being a whimsical dream is pretty easy. And whenever I lament it being just a dream, I say “well thank goodness it IS just a dream!” A harsh physical experience isn’t for everyone. Become the dream, be the dream, embrace the dream…. “Dreamer, are you there?? It is I, the dreamt. Together let us weave a fanciful tale of comical characters meandering through a set constructed of charming absurdity…”