Drifting Dreamer

If existence really is a dream, that opens up the possibility for this experience to be a somewhat random accident. It also implies that the world is completely malleable – and may alter its characteristics and narratives at any time. If that’s true, then there isn’t an active host, there’s more of a consciousness drifting through a dream. I’d say the world is weird enough that it seems dreamy, not designed. But it’s so elaborate, so detailed – perhaps it’s been a very long dream.

What if consciousness sprang forth in the middle of empty space, no arms, no legs, just the ability to imagine. What would such an entity do but dream. So within this entity’s drifting mind, a world forms – full of dramatic creatures with the ability to physically feel and interact with their environment. It’s a bit melancholy actually, bittersweet perhaps. These creatures even have the ability to pass-away, another trait this entity lacks.

Perhaps for him, death is a sweet sentiment – having imagined every possible scenario over eons of dreams. Yet, to witness his characters striving to maintain their existence is pleasing, inspirational in fact – and keeps the dreamer dreaming. In these dreams, there’s camaraderie everywhere – shared struggles and teamwork-based triumph. Whereas, the dreamer dreams alone – creating companionship in stories.

Through many tellings of his stories, he’s likely to have learned tricks to separate and captivate parts of his awareness – creating characters that seem independent of one another. Since they have the same puppeteer, a shared narrative is easy to coordinate. And it’s no coincidence that the origins and implementation-details of this world are hidden and elusive.

I suppose it’s a dumb idea to investigate the origins of existence in order to discover something you’re purposefully hiding from yourself. Hm, perhaps Alan Watts was right, it’s just God playing hide-and-seek with himself.

Close-up Annoyances

So here’s what happened. After a few decades, I finally solved a bunch of mental hangups. Everything should’ve been peachy from there on out – right? Yet, “bad days” still happened. And unfortunately, I no longer have easy scapegoats – having spent the previous years eliminating them as suspects. I thought I was doing everything right!? “Bad things aren’t supposed to happen to good people!!”

Okay, but let’s examine this a bit more. If you asked me to list all the actual circumstances that transpired to make a “bad day” into a “bad day” – you’d be underwhelmed and non-commiserate. They’re mostly tiny annoyances and pessimistic thoughts. The day just feels “bad” and multiple things go wrong, evoking feelings of defeat and a deep pessimism.

Most of my problems are so minuscule, they’d be imperceptible if I wasn’t so zoomed-in on myself. I’m too close-up, always scrutinizing every little detail going on with my character. “Aw! Does sweetums have a stuffy nose? Aw, does him have-um twouble sweeping? Aw, is a single hair out of place? Awww.” If I had something else to focus on, I wouldn’t even notice that little stuff. But here I am, always looking in.

Think about it this way. Imagine you just came into possession of car. Now what? You could walk around it, wash it, sit inside, run the radio, turn on the A/C, recline the seat. Wow, you’re really exploring every aspect of that vehicle! Opening the glove-box, adjusting the air-flow outlets – wow look at you go! But is that what a car’s for? For sitting-in and playing with the environmental controls? No, it’s meant to be driven, it’s a means to an end, it’s a tool used to get somewhere.

You don’t just stand around polishing tools until they shine and leave it at that. You use tools. You get ’em dirty, run ’em in the mud, put ’em through their paces, ya get somethin’ done – right? Tools are sad and meaningless unless you put them to use. It’s not a tool anymore, it’s just a trinket sitting on a shelf, decaying the days away. To respect a tool is to use it, to wear it out through everyday wear and tear.

But you, you’ve put yourself up on a pedestal – annoyed by every speck of dust that lands on you. Every patch of tarnish ups your ire. A spot of rust is enough to send you over the edge. By imagining yourself so precious, you’ve taken yourself out of commission. You’ve done yourself the greatest disservice by being overly protective. “Put that wrench down!! If you use it on a bolt, it might get scratched!” That’s crazy talk, but that’s exactly what you’ve done.

I hereby abolish “bad days” and rename them “the consequence of navel-gazing”. It’s like all those times you get eye-strain headaches from staring at things you’re working on without taking a break to rest your eyes.

Okay, it’s a few days later. As an experiment, I’ll accept that verdict. But this means I have to “zoom out”. I’ve tried many times focusing on hobbies and such – but that never panned-out. So, for the time being, I’m going to zoom-out so far from myself, that I’m even leaving physical existence behind. I am now known as “The essence previously-known as the physical-form of Rich”. I am not a human, I am a whimsical dream.

Well, we’ll see if that gets us anywhere.

To Intervene

Would a creator create creatures that are fully autonomous or ones that require his help? In other words: does a creator want to be needed, happily intervening when asked – or does he want to sit-back while proudly observing the self-sustaining system he launched?

In one sense, a self-sustaining system might make him feel powerless as flaws reveal themselves and suffering ensues. Would he fix some things along the way or just let the system devolve until it destroys itself? But in another sense, there’s a thrill in seeing whether your creation can sustain or not.

Whereas if a creator chooses to be needed, the creatures would have to be placed in losing-positions. For him to fix anything, problems need to exist. And the more intense the suffering, the more significant the repair (and the greater the gratitude). Stepping-in with deus-ex-machina solutions would surely inspire a creator to feel godlike.

Or perhaps there could be a dual-mode mechanic where those that ask, receive – and those that don’t ask, muddle through on their own accord. Maybe there’s a safety-net in place for those afraid to fall. To intervene, or NOT to intervene – that is the question. Must we suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune? Or can we summon the open-arms of a creator to end our woe? Not with death of course, but with divine intervention – our prayers answered?

Floating in Space

Imagine empty space. Nothingness. No walls, no foundation, no borders of any kind, just infinite emptiness – a blank mind perhaps. Within that space, a concept is introduced. But of course, this concept isn’t anchored, it just floats there. Yet upon this concept, more ideas can be added. The original concept becomes a floating foundation. There’s nothing solid keeping any of these ideas together, they’re just regularly associated with one another. Any idea, including the original concept, can morph – but of course, such change alters the way in which the ideas connect to one another. And whenever an association isn’t maintained, an idea simply fades away.

Aren’t we continually told to appreciate stuff? What we have, who we are, our relationship to others? Yet if those circumstances were “real” and “solid”, we wouldn’t need to go through these routines. In life, we’re repeatedly reminding ourselves who our character is and how he fits into the world. “You see, your name is Rich and you were born into a family, these are your relatives, you’ll visit them periodically to refresh these associations.”

This is because there isn’t a foundation and there’s no way to record what’s what. All we have to maintain the world we live within, is the continuous recitation of who we are, where we are, and how our character fits into it all. It’s a brain-in-a-vat type situation. At some point, you realized consciousness and it sparked a flow of ideas. But because you’re a brain, you can’t write anything down, you’re stuck trying to keep this information in the forefront of your awareness through repetition.

Over and over you tell yourself who you are, where you are, and how you relate to this fabricated world. And unfortunately, if you begin with some dumb ideas, you’ll likely perpetuate and expand upon your original stupidity. Eventually you’ll find yourself in a very unpleasant daydream. But what happens when you stop telling yourself all that nonsense you made-up at the beginning of consciousness? Without periodically refreshing the story, the associations fade – and that’s a good thing. This means you can start fresh.

There’s no foundation, no solidity – the only thing that maintains the world you experience is constant repetition within your thoughts. But once you stop perpetuating all those old ideas, they disappear. So your task is this: stop replaying junky old ideas within your imagination. In addition, think of more enjoyable concepts – contemplate those, building a new foundation upon which to add even more higher quality ideas. What works, replay – what doesn’t, allow to fade away.

All Ends Are Dead

As an experiment, I adopted a few varying perspectives over the years to see if such outlooks could improve my experience. Perhaps I was simply looking at circumstances in the wrong way. Decades have gone by and I still haven’t found a solution. Repeatedly trying and failing to fix something is frustrating to say the least. It doesn’t even matter if things improved slightly because I’m still well within the bounds of dissatisfaction.

The conclusion I keep reaching: answers cannot be found and improvement is impossible. Red-herrings abound as the underlying mechanism of life is pure deception through and through. There is much philosophy and many practices in terms of achieving a more satisfying experience of existence – but it’s bunk. Nothing fixes the underlying problem of dissatisfaction. My efforts were futile. I was under a mistaken belief that my experience could get better.

Life isn’t some nurturing mother-figure full of love and devotion on high-alert lest her baby feel an ounce of discomfort. Life isn’t taking my hand in order to comfort my woes – nay, life is taking my hand and slapping me with it! Life is a mean older sister asking me why I keep hitting myself! I wasn’t wrong to begin life as a suspicious pessimist, I was wrong when I doubted myself, thinking I was being paranoid! Life is a bully, and a nasty one at that.

After all this time, I still don’t get what’s going on here. I’m as confused as I was on day-one. “Alice in Wonderland” seems to be the closest analogy for my experience. There’s no progress only frustration, circumstances are annoyingly silly, inhabitants don’t help and are more likely to harass – it’s nonsense all the way down. Well, perhaps there’s one possible question in which “Earth” is the legitimate answer: If a celestial being once asked himself, “what’s the absolute dumbest thing I can come up with?”

Navel-Gazing

I don’t like the term, but perhaps that’ll encourage me to avoid engaging in it: self-indulgent introspection. I don’t typically seek attention from others, yet I’m constantly focused on myself. Maybe that’s why I don’t seek it, I already receive too much scrutiny from my own consciousness. “How am I feeling, what am I thinking, what’s my reaction to this or that…”

Enough already! My character is bland and unexciting, he doesn’t warrant all the attention I give him. He simply serves as a vessel of consciousness (no offense). If he had entertainment value, he’d have demonstrated it by now – instead, he literally just sits there. Think of him as a bolted-down chair in a movie-theater.

Sometimes your theater-seat has food remnants on it, maybe the arm-rests are a bit sticky – but who cares, that’s not why you go to a movie-theater. Why would you analyze the squeak in the folding seat? Why would you attempt to discern which beverage was spilled by your feet. Why would you make guesses as to which food the crumbs came from?

The point of the theater experience is to watch a movie, you’re not there to examine the theater itself. Yeah maybe the seats suck, yeah the people in front are chatting, yeah it’s a little too cold – but the less you focus on the immediate setting, the more you can invest yourself in the movie.

Here’s what we know:
#1, you’ve been overly-focused on yourself for several decades.
#2, you’ve had a pretty unpleasant experience.
#3, you’ve witnessed how the feeling of dissatisfaction is relative, and doesn’t dissipate when external conditions improve.

Are these points related? Maybe not, but what if they are? I think there’s enough probable-cause to warrant a direct and immediate ban on all navel-gazing activities.

To that end, I declare these statements to be true for the time-being:
#1, I will stop staring at the bugs accumulating on my windshield and focus only on what’s beyond my vehicle.
#2, I don’t care how my vehicle performs, whether it can be optimized, nor how it compares with others on the road. I’ll simply ride around until it goes kaput.
#3, I’ll keep it washed and vacuumed but that’s it.
#4, My car isn’t entered into ANY races, there’s no rush to go anywhere or do anything in particular. This baby is set to “cruise” and I’m just loungin’.
#5, I will NOT return this vehicle in the condition it was received. As a matter of fact, it’ll be dinged-up and run into the ground.

Well, we’ll see how that goes….

Mischief Alarm

So I was in the shower contemplating the presence of “mischief” in the world. In other words, there’s a deviousness woven into the fabric of the narrative I’m experiencing. I was thinking: there’s just no doubt about it, the world is a contrived drama with an element of disorder. Then the smoke alarm goes off – as I’m in the shower. What’s even odder, is that I found no definitive source for the alarm’s trigger i.e. there was no smoke.

On a semi-related note, I’ve also been trying to devise a reason to be “hopeful”. I’ve found that being in a state of “hopefulness” is beneficial to my overall mood – it modulates my reactions for example. It’s easier to ignore discomfort when your eye’s on the prize. Unfortunately though, I’m not very creative or naturally optimistic.

But then I started thinking: I was a kid in the 80s and I kinda have 80s sensibilities. And one primary theme of 80s movies is this: when it looks like you can’t win, like you’re a loser that’ll never make it, like the system is stacked against you and bullies are closing in – you win (sometimes after a training montage). Hell yeah, I can do that! I’ve been a loser my whole life, that means I’ll be an even bigger winner!! The more I lose, the more I win!!!

Whether that’s true or not, who cares. It’s the “hopefulness” that’s important. And I can believe it up until the day I die because who knows, maybe I’ll win in paradise or through reincarnation. 80s-style though, so I’ll be on the beach playing volleyball – and Spuds MacKenzie will be watching from the sidelines, sunglasses on and surrounded by a bevy of bikini babes. All while my former boss, Randy, is left a defeated man serving cool Buds to everyone as he wears his rolled-up business attire on the sun-soaked sand. Jump-serve! BOOOM!! I win.

Fourth-Person Perspective

For research purposes I often play video-games. When given the option, I usually select a first-person perspective for piloting my avatar. It’s more immersive and I find it easier to control – plus the added intensity helps to hold my attention. I AM the character – doing what must be done. Whereas in third-person, I feel like I’m helpin’ the guy out – he’s the character, not me. But the downside of being in first-person is the intensity – if my character loses, I lose.

It got me thinking about a possible fourth-person perspective. I couldn’t find much written about the concept. One game, a few years ago, had the player make changes to an onscreen-character’s environment which influenced the actions the character took. And in writing, I heard the 4th-person perspective described as a collective viewpoint: “we” – personal and omniscient all in one.

I often switch up my meditation tactics. Recently, I noticed how hard it was to maintain a goalie-like reactive stance while meditating. Just waiting for thoughts to come made me a sitting duck – I was at the mercy of an onslaught of thought. Therefore, I actively pursued a “destination” in meditation. With my eyes closed, I intentionally stared at the mottled formlessness, the waves of hue and light, the pixels underlying all. I did so until I no longer had to fully focus my attention, I was there.

It worked in the sense that I felt like I reached a place of pure potential, dreamlike, where I left my body behind. You might say I attained a fourth-person perspective. I was beyond the intensity of “I”, beyond the demanding nature of “you”, and beyond the sympathetic viewpoint of “he”. Perhaps it was “we”. We are not just a body, a thinking mind, or even pure awareness – we’re that, plus whatever lies beyond – we’re also an influencer of what we experience.

Maybe the spiritual goal is to reach and sustain this fourth-person perspective. Get beyond the ego, beyond the avatar, beyond the narrative – encompassing all, yet limited by none. Think of a cake: a cake isn’t merely a collection of ingredients (which are measured and mixed into something far beyond what their individual nature suggest). A cake can have significance, representing much more than consumable calories. Perhaps the fourth-person perspective recognizes all this.

To exist in this perspective, is to be removed from the intensity, aware of the narrative but not lost in it, and free from the boundaries of imagined limitations. In the fourth-person perspective, of what importance or weight are those tiny thoughts originating from “I”? “I” is only a fraction of “we”. The process of babysitting thoughts and managing tantrums-of-the-mind loses significance when measured against this grander transcendent journey.

Forging the Mind

The external is a projection of the internal. Therefore, if things are unpleasant on the outside, we know our own undisciplined mind is to blame. We shouldn’t rush to solve an exterior circumstance, we should sit and calm the mind, fixing its focus. This concept is easier to grasp when existence is perceived as a dream – a distressed sleeper has agitated dreams.

Additionally, our own errant thoughts are by far the greatest source of abuse we experience on Earth. A cascade of criticism mixed with embarrassing memory topped with dour prognostication make for an unpleasant stew we swallow daily. Through the effort of meditation and applied mental discipline, these thoughts can be muted. Life simplifies when such swirling malevolence is rejected.

Ah, but a vacuum forms! Boredom rears its head around the corner – a condition that encourages escape. As the mind thirsts for thrills and stressors, a hobby beyond self-immolation must be found. The hobby of finding a hobby begins. Long has poisonous thought made the mind a toxic space – let meditation fill the gap, making an intentional void. Cleanse the clutter, allowing room for lighthearted delight.

Through silence, visit the realm of pure potential where anything can be anything. Come often. Memory is reinforced through practice – stop recalling and allow old images to fade away. Stop living within the imagination – reality is right now. Strive to achieve a well-disciplined mind, ceaselessly forge it into shape – incorporating only the finest thoughts you can find.

Going Home

Sitting down for meditation is like placing a bucket full of sloshing water on the floor and waiting until the ripples settle. In other words, you should expect some initial turbulence, some resistance to the calm. But after awhile the tiny waves diminish – unless disturbed by your own hand. Therefore, one must resist the temptation to stir the pot.

Don’t follow thoughts, keep focus on the breath, see the mottled formlessness within closed eyes. Remind yourself of the infinite absolute: “OM”. Say it silently as exhaling. Imagine you’re going home (‘ome), drifting through space, to the origin of all. Step back from physical existence, reset your perspective by visiting a realm of pure potential.

Meditation is the practice of mental discipline. When a thought remains in focus, remind yourself that no thought is more important than the practice of mental discipline – then unfocus from that thought. Something else to consider: meditation is a concentrated form of what should be occurring throughout the day. Actively apply the product of this practice while living within life’s physical form.

When practiced regularly, meditation should improve the everyday experience. It does so by increasing awareness of all those swirling thoughts within the mind. It’s these thoughts that cause so many problems, thus they must be pruned. Meditation enhances the ability to focus and unfocus attention on these thoughts – so when thoughts arise, they can be dismissed. With a clearer, more focused mind, life gets better.