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.

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.

Episodic Dreams

An excerpt from the fictional tales of Consumed by Reality.

By the glow of the screen I could see my face reflected on its surface. I sat with the show paused. Was it a message? Am I as schizo as the character I’m watching? To scroll through the thoughts I’ve been having lately, it certainly seems like I’ve given up on reality — the reality I knew for so many decades, now gone.

In favor of what? A belief that boils down to magic? The casting of verbally-invoked spells and manifesting wishes? Really? That’s insane. But why does everything I keep watching and reading keep telling me the same thing? Am I just surrounding myself with nut-jobs? Is the Bible, a book revered by billions throughout history and the world something to be readily dismissed?

If I simply follow my cultural heritage as a Christian, then I’m supposed to believe in supernatural powers — case closed. But it’s more than that, even the best-selling books on “business success” are telling me the same things. And interviews with world-famous people speaking on their own success further corroborate the same extraordinary forces at work. I feel like Alice in Wonderland.

Could it be that the things I believed about reality for all those years are completely delusional? Was I nuts? Am I only starting to see the reality that everyone else is living in? Holy shit! I’ve been a crazy-person lost in my delusion for decades!? Or is it that I’m NOW going crazy, seeing a fantasy world where none exists?

Was my family just playing along? Humoring the weirdo that believed in a physical reality ruled by random chance? Did they even think I was serious? “Of course he’s joking! Haha” — or at least they hoped I was. Or perhaps from their perspective, they just couldn’t understand the ravings of a madman.

Although in my defense, the people around Jesus didn’t “get it” either — not the people that had him crucified nor even his direct disciples. Am I to believe that everyone gets it nowadays? And I’m just the idiot left in the dark? I find that hard to believe, yet everything I’m seeing lately implies it’s common knowledge.

Where do I even start looking for a foundation? So let me get this straight, the planet I’m living on wasn’t created billions of years ago by a seemingly random explosion in the center of the universe, nor did life come-to-be by chance millions of years ago and evolve over time into many varying species, one of which being humanity? And the course of each human’s life isn’t determined by a cocktail of random-chance, DNA, survival-skill, societal influence, and luck? Well shit.

And instead of all that, I’m actually a welcomed and cared-for guest in some sort of fabricated paradise in which my every desire is meant to come true — all I have to do is wish it into existence? What the FUCK!? Was my head THAT buried in the sand? It’s like Little Orphan Annie finding out she’s been adopted by Daddy Warbucks — or Charlie walking into the Chocolate Factory — a dark and gloomy world dawning into one of delight and wonder.

Even THOSE movies were trying to tell me something. To get me to snap out of it — to wake up. You mean this awesomely elaborate world isn’t a complete shithole hellbent on tormenting its inhabitants?? Oh, my bad. And the part about it being a fun-factory of dream-fulfillment is actually true? It’s not hyperbole? Really? Huh, well don’t I feel like a dope.

Casual Gamer Club

Welcome to the first meeting of the CGC, the Casual Gamer Club. This is a club for those of us taking a casual approach to playing the game of existence-on-Earth. First of all, I’d like to welcome any new members. And if any outsiders are wondering if you too might be a casual gamer, I’ll take this time to list some of our attributes.

1. Lack of involvement.
Volunteers? Nope, not us.
Groups or affiliations? None.
Careers? Ha, no.
Families? Kinda, but only the bare-minimum.
Friends? Maybe one.

2. Lack of role-playing.
We wince at the idea of “pretending” or “playing along”. We typically avoid most forms of highly-structured interaction. We have no clue about our lines or which dialog fits which situation. Because of our lack of in-depth study, we can’t improvise.

3. Lack of feelings.
We don’t feel much, unless watching a highly choreographed emotion-inducing movie perhaps. We lack a sense of spiritual significance — in other words, we get no sense of awe or wonder from being in the world. We really only perceive the shallow stuff — after all, casual gaming is all about a less-in-depth approach.

4. Lack of long-term plans.
We pretty much just go with the flow — letting life happen. And because life honors the casual gaming approach, we’re allowed to skate through for the most part. Of course, as you can see by all that we lack, we don’t get a lot of the benefits that in-depth players get.

And to note: I can understand how this type of existence is completely foreign to any hard-core Earthers out there. But don’t judge bro, you have your way of playing, this just happens to be our way of playing. You guys are truly dedicated to your craft and we really appreciate the effort you put into your gameplay. Obviously we’re a boring bunch that relies on your showmanship for our entertainment — but you get an audience that’s not busy living their own lives — so it’s win win really.

I mean yeah, in one sense we’re lazy, I get that. But in an epic fantasy role-playing game, not everyone wants to be balls-to-the-wall gung-ho go-get-um — ya know? Some of us don’t care enough to dedicate years to learning the esoteric minutia that comes with acting-out an in-depth role. Some of us just want the front-row seats that existence provides — it doesn’t mean we want to actively participate.

So that’s us in a nutshell, the members of the Casual Gamer Club. I shall close today’s meeting with a haiku-style poem:

Going to the pool.
Much fun in the shallow end.
Splash, but not too much.