Alone in a world of believers

You are blessed and cursed to have found your meaning in the question of meaning itself.

Blessed to be motivated to take a journey of deepest discovery, not only of the universe without, but of the universe within.

Cursed to be born in a world of believers, who are constantly and continuously tricked by the illusion of certainty and absolute meaning.

You have, through much existential suffering and malaise, arrived at some profound insights: meaning does not exist without, but within. Believers believe in what you have found to be myths; believers implicitly believe in the immortality of their egos, which you have failed to locate in yourself; believers expect judgment from a cosmic judge, now, today, and at every instant in the future, and you have realized you are your own judge.

You were once a believer. You too believed in absolute cosmic meaning. You too assumed and behaved as if your ego was immortal. You too were constantly feeling judgment, worried and fretting over the standards set by your fellow believers, and by the ultimate arbitrator. Put that all together and you have a wonderfully adapted and adaptable foot soldier in any environment at any historical time. Self motivated and self monitoring. Guided by shared myths. An immortal soul assured of favourable judgment resting peacefully every single night.

But you were not a believer for long. Something did not click. Too many doubts led to too many questions which led to your lifelong search for meaning. And let nobody tell you this was an escape, bred of laziness, for the spoiled and weak souls; you have shed more tears, had more sleepless nights, agonized in both body and mind for hours and days, months and years, non-stop. You had to know. And knowing is never achieved without great cost.

You have truly lived as a restless and tortured soul for far too long. The illusion holding power over the believers was not quite powerful enough to hold you. And yet it was not weak. It clashed with your spirit, and created for you great tension and anxiety. You could not reconcile your experience in the world with your true essence. At times you lashed out, arrogantly pointed out all the faults of the universe; other times you turned your anxiety inward, assumed the fault must be in you, and lay for days in bed. You were never still, never at peace, never at ease; there was always tension.

And after all the struggle, which is still ongoing, you have clarified the old and arrived at many new insights. Meaning exists, but only insofar as a ‘mean-or’ exists. So it is right to say meaning exists in the universe, but wrong to say meaning is universal. The ego is an illusion, an amazing trick of the mind, and even if it did exist, it would not be immortal. And finally, after all is said and done, so to speak, there is no judge, no judgment, external to the one in our own heads.

Are these hollow truths? No. Do they matter? Yes.

If meaning is subjective then you have the power to create your own. If the ego is mortal then you should not sacrifice today, in the form of existential anxiety and fear, for the hope of a better future. And, most importantly, you are the judge of your own meaning and striving and deeds. You do not have to fear the wrath of some cosmic lawgiver. If you are true to yourself, and strive according to your own standards, that is good enough.

The world of believers is caught in a web of illusion that serves a purpose, one of which each is unaware. We are, after all, evolved apes running the software of the mind adapted for survival on the plains of Africa, in a world at a time far far removed from the one we inhabit today. And yet, that software has not been, could not have been, updated in all this time. For the updates of evolution take eons, and are never completed. And besides, evolution does not care about your existential suffering, or your search for meaning. Evolution is an amoral process, an algorithm. If you are successful at continuing the legacy begun by the laws of evolution, the grounds of your success will be selected. It really is as simple, and as amazing, as that. What better way for a highly intelligent, social, purpose-seeking, conscious animal to succeed in a universe without absolute meaning – where neither its ego nor its anxieties are worth a damn outside its own head – than to have that creature not only invent, but wholeheartedly believe in, a set of myths, values, meanings, governing rules and cosmic judgments, eternal rewards and punishments?

Believers have not suffered nearly the existential malaise and doubt that you have experienced. Of this you can be sure, because they are believers. That is not to say your path is in any sense better than any other. That is not to say you are superior in any way to anyone else. It is simply meant to illustrate that you are on a different path than most people. You were destined to discover these insights. And the path was hard, and will continue to be overgrown and poorly defined. Not many people have trodden this way. But those who have would make good company. In their presence, at least, you would not feel so alone.

You were born a seeker. You could not rest. Your doubt and anxiety fueled your journey. And you have uncovered some valuable truths.

Each path a life; the worn and barely used alike. The majority of your fellow travelers rarely, if ever, escape their guiding illusions, paths crisscrossing the world, forming wide corridors and highways of frenzied activity. They may have tread many more an empty mile than you, but in your stubbornness and reluctance to step off the curb, you have made the longer journey.

Thought for food – 2

A sure sign of intelligence, maturity, and self-confidence is the willingness to change one’s beliefs in the light of new evidence and considerations.

As I lie awake staring at the faint light filtering through the space between the boards in my mind

Raising head,

Lifting eyes from dark,

Stepping outward,

From underground.

Strange hollowness,

Echoes in mind,

Empty of pretense,

Confident in not knowing.

Optimism seeking light,

Broken long dormancy,

Entering the world without,

Blinding, suffocating familiarity.

Same grey streets;

Same concrete buildings;

Same managed woods and rectangular fields and forgettable faces on Sunday walks on worn paths.

Same hierarchies.

Same games.

Same pretense.

Same narratives.

Same flow. Same responses. Same predictability.

Tender optimism. Knowing nothing. Utterly incapable of playing.

Words and ideas left unformed.

Nervous air from lungs passing silently through clenched and clenching teeth.


‘Why? Why would it change out there?’

‘It is here, in here,’ the boy said, pointing to his temple. ‘It has always been.’


Confidence gone.


…the shaking….the shaking….the shaking….

of a leg…


Most people, most of the time, have nothing to say.

Yet they talk!

How they beckon! – Join us. Come join us. Prattle prattle prattle. –

Words strung together, stretching back through ages. Narratives weaving, myths uniting. Layers and scales; minds to civilizations. One unbroken, unbreakable web.

Pretense. Opinion. Myth.

Words, words, words.

Nothing to say. Narratives left unformed.

Underground.

OCD

Order born of fear.

Claiming the seconds that make up the minutes that make up a life.

Doubting, too, these thoughts.

Where is HOME?

Such beautiful poetry.

A peep into my Memory Palace...

where is home Image Credits: Pexels.com

In the fading fragrance of a lone drop of lavender at the edge of the pillow of the love of my life

In the tender crook of his wobbly arms

In the black corduroy case my fingers sew for his flute

In the back seat of the silver cab that he took when he left me standing alone that night, one last time

In his ambiguous replies that always concealed something and revealed nothing

In the moon light that touches our faces, at once closing the gap between us albeit only in distance

In the flame of the dying moment he stood apart, never trying to bring us closer

In the togetherness that went unattained

In the glowing embers of my heart that never stops loving him, no matter what

In the glimmer of a single strand of silver hair coiled in my mother’s yellow comb

In…

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Thought for food – 1

Three words that reveal they don’t really understand you:

‘You should just…’.

Notes – What is consciousness?

Immediate thoughts after meditation session:

For a brief time I was able to invert the common experience of consciousness being located behind the face and in the middle of the head. I was able to expand the location of consciousness to fill the four walls within which I was seated. I am still pondering this phenomenon. I wonder, if consciousness is a type of software running on the hardware of the brain, a software that models reality, incorporating images and concepts and relations. Does it make sense to assume it must exist somewhere? Sure, consciousness depends on the brain, but it is composed of non-material entities and categories (or so it seems – a claim very difficult for a materialist such as myself to digest), and as such, does not from necessity need to reside anywhere. If consciousness is not a material thing, it cannot be located anywhere. Is consciousness a realm of reality unto itself? And if not, how could the material realm produce such an illusion?

I opened my eyes at the end of the session and looked at my field of vision (a brown leather couch, a bookshelf to my left, a world map directly ahead, lamp and black side table), and was able to understand that this view was being created in my mind, and I was aware of it in the arena of consciousness. Though the software seamlessly makes me think those things which I see are out there in front of my eyes, and I am here, at a node where light waves reflected from those objects converge (which indeed, I think is safe to say, is an accurate description of the physics involved), I was able to grasp the experience of conscious awareness of this field of vision more fully, more accurately. That is, the images ARE NOT OUT THERE, but are in my mind, and I am consciously aware of those images. This deceptively simple realization was hard to achieve, and lasted only moments, but it was real and, I believe, accurate.

Conversations with myself – #4

I’ve resisted writing. There is little new to say. Old terrain, worn terrain.

And I annoy myself. And how!

But it goes round. This thought.

And that.

Fueled by fear. Fear itself.

Fear of failure. Fear of embarrassment. Fear of weakness. Fear of being seen. Fear of second place, of ridicule, of pain. Fear of letting you down. Fear of expectations. Fear of correctness. Fear of rules. Fear and more fear. Fear in the day, as I fret over my place in this universe. Fear in the night, as my mind slowly consumes itself in waking nightmares.

EVERY SINGLE DAY, EVERY BLOODY NIGHT.

Oh nausea! Ennui! A restless rest and static floating!

Oh, would that I melt and become water, flowing downhill to rejoin the eternal ocean. Oh, would that my fear achieve its apparent aim, and utterly obliterate the connections that hold me together.

Obsession of obsessions: obsessed with my obsessions.

One day, I promise myself, I will release this fear and angst, baked and hardened kernel feeding my doubt. I will give it back, down through the ages.

No blame. No blame. As if the universe can be faulted for a thing!

I will return this gift bestowed upon me, the one that has consumed me, dictated my life, for thirty-five years and ten months to the day.

But right now, this instant, I am afraid.

Aphorisms – 5

Should you ever doubt the second law of thermodynamics, release your children in any room in the house and wait longer than one minute.

Lyrics #10 – Visitor – Greg MacPherson

‘It’s not where you’re at my friend it’s who you are there that really matters
I’m going back to Nova Scotia just as soon as I serve my time’

Check song out here.

Visitor
The city sometimes is a backhanded invitation
It’s all just sitting there waiting for a man knows where it’s at
But if you want in there or anywhere you gotta be ready to pay for it
And there’s nothing that a poor man knows much better than that

I came up from the east coast following a woman that I’d met back home
She was the kind of girl could motivate a man beyond himself
A long year living in a run down basement suite with nothing
I tried looking for work and then I tried looking for someone else.

The way you’re looking at me…
You never know who you’ll turn out to be until you get there

I did a couple years working nights at a warehouse job I hated
I did a couple more serving drinks to people with more money than sense
I ran up quite a bill down at the bank that I probably should have paid
In a city like this it’s a wonder that I even paid my rent

I fell in with the wrong kind of crowd… who knows, maybe I’d been out looking
It’s hard living without when the good life’s laughing right in your face
It sits there with its long legs crossed saying you should
But you know you shouldn’t
If you stand there long enough you’ll do anything for a taste

The way you’re looking at me…
You never know who you’ll turn out to be until you get there
All along some part of me might have been wrong but I never noticed

This one night I made a call to a woman
Got dressed up and went out drinking
Things had gotten out of hand by then and I was in a little over my head
Someone offered me some money and in retrospect I guess I wasn’t thinking
In a city like this it’s a wonder that I didn’t just end up dead

You heard this story all before and my own version’s not much better
An hour in the spot light, an evening in a road, a minute in a line
It’s not where you’re at my friend it’s who you are there that really matters
I’m going back to Nova Scotia just as soon as I serve my time

The way you’re looking at me…
You never know who you’ll turn out to be until you get there
All along some part of me must have been wrong but I never noticed

Comment reblog – The crowd and the individual

A recent comment I found thought-provoking. Thoughts?

‘How you characterize ‘the crowd’ is your own, no doubt, and unique construction. The coils of belonging have already entwined your soul, as the baby is reliant on its tribe; you are a part of that crowd as seen by all others. The crowd is amorphous, bright and boiling and giving off heat, as the face of the sun is in no part of its being eternally fixed.

Oh, god, where would one be without the crowd!

And amazingly, each person is so arranged and constructed as to be a defin/ed piece having a separation zone, that event horizon, from the crowd, our individuality and aloneness, and across that electric zone we each give of ourselves for the lives of others and each takes the required food of life only others can provide. Small pieces, well and active and forward-looking, constitute the dynamism and vigour of the crowd.’

— Author (un)known

Do You Remember…?

Read until the end…and then read again.

A peep into my Memory Palace...

pooh piglet

July 22, 2018, Hyderabad @ 10 PM

Dearest mine,

Do you remember?

The night I opened my eyes to this beautiful world for the very first time in that tiny little clinic in Naughar road.

You welcomed me with twinkling eyes and the widest of smiles when some of my own looked down at me with disdain.

It did not matter to you that this frail dark lump of bones was yet another unwelcomed girl in the already poor budding family.

You opened your heart and let your shining light envelop me like warm milk.

I gurgled and crawled all over you and you shielded me like an over protective father.

You helped me take my first steps holding me and guiding me, each time I fell.

The lullabies you sang to lull me to sleep long after my mom had drifted off to sleep all tired and worn out…

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Mission statement for 2019

Don’t mistake the crowd for the truth; failing to fit in does not mean you’re broken.

Your horizons might extend further than your neighbour’s, your colleague’s, your friend’s; trust in your own eyes, let others trust in theirs.

With deference to Hamlet, might I add: there is also nothing either right or wrong, but truth to one’s self makes it so.

Question of the Day – No. 266

An interesting question

Pointless Overthinking

In your opinion, why people feel the need to be right all the time?

cropped-question-of-the-day-logo

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Imagine if you were blind…

Cristian Mihai

“Imagine if you were blind, complete darkness. No colors, no views, no beauty, just pitch black. If you were blind, ask yourself how badly you would want to see.”

If you want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you want to do something, and there’s no way, you make one. You create it.

“If pushing yourself to your limits could give you sight, would you do it? If there was a cure would you let anything stand in your way? Would you listen to the haters and the critics to see again? Do you really want to succeed?”

This is what makes the difference. This and nothing else.

Most people, they kinda-sorta want it. Most people, they prefer to wish for future comfort rather than pay the price to achieve what they want.

But if you were blind?

If you really, really wanted it?

If your life depended…

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The greatest gift

The greatest gift you can give another is a piece of your deepest self.

Not your time. Not your money; but something more precious still.

Is it understanding, or compassion, or attention that you offer? Is there a word bringing these together?

Love?

That piece you offer freely, that is the gift. You offer without reservation. You say ‘Do with it as you will’, though, of course, you hope and trust the other treads lightly.

And that’s the risk you take…

…and the pain you can inflict.

Optimism

Set me adrift in the blackness,

Let me spin aimlessly like a homeless globe,

Traversing endless light-years without bearing.

Release me to the void.

To the black velvety comfort of a lightless horizon.


I see. I hear. 

Nothing.


A selfish bastard denying the world. One final cowardly display of spite.

I spit at thee and shut up my eyes and ears to all thy photons and surfaces and waves.

You – life animate and inanimate – force me to understand; you squeeze my head until it pops. 

And I say NO! NO MORE!

I do not understand. I do not see it. I do not hear it. I am dumb and selfish; dumb for not seeing, selfish for not wanting to see.

It makes no sense! And I know!

I am absurd and I can’t help it!


I feel the dark beckoning, offering infinitely more promise, more hope, more strength, than your cold, demanding, rational chaos. 

I am selfish. I see. I hear.

Nothing.


Now release me, let me drop, so that I may go spinning, aimlessly, optimistically, through the blackest void.

Aphorisms-4

There is little to build upon moving forward when the second time around is the same as the first. 

Quote #10

The ornaments look lovely but their pulling down the branches of the tree. – Cake, from ‘Love You Madly’

Alienation: an experiment

Here’s an experiment. Tomorrow, before entering the world, wear your hair a different way. Don socks that don’t match. When asked ‘how are you?’, don’t lie. Frown.

When the queen walks in, remain seated. 

Be honest. Be yourself tomorrow.

Unless you are infinitely agreeable, unless your hair looks equally good parted, unless you are God, prepare yourself. 

Prepare for the onslaught of thinly veiled snideness, disapproval, disdain; prepare for unsolicited opinions, for rolled eyes, for mockery; prepare for all the tools at society’s disposal to keep you in line. To hammer you to conformity. 

You’re a glass half empty kind of person? You best have them walkin’ papers signed and stamped! 

DO NOT ROCK THE BOAT!

You got that?

And always, always remember: FOLLOW THE CROWD. 

I dare you: wear your hair differently tomorrow.