How to Discipline the Mind

A disciplined mind is one that achieves unity and clarity by understanding productive thoughts are those that prioritize and weigh the benefits of potential actions, as well as those thoughts that are required to successfully perform a selected action.

How much time does the average person waste in repetitive cycles of thought that reach no conclusion, determine no action, but rather simply work to reaggravate past emotional pains?

Modern man’s worship of the social world, the sphere of secrets, rumors, and controversy of illusory consequence is symptom of the human mind’s natural tendencies toward addiction to repeated surges of emotion as a result of cyclical exposures to social tensions, always in the capacity either as moral authority or victim, because those two roles necessitate a polarization between involved parties and thus a greater emotional high.

People watch reality television in order to assume a position of moral authority over either one of the observed parties in any dispute, or else over the entire social order presented in the show.

People consume propagandic news and opinion pieces in order to themselves identify as a victim or ally to a victim within a larger oppressor-oppressed relationship, in order to obtain a sense of self-righteousness that gives both a momentary and renewable high, as well as a sense of meaning and purpose to an otherwise dreary life.

Those who limit or abstain from engagement with these and other dopamine treadmills open their eyes to reality itself and gain happiness from the process of determining and achieving goals that better the conditions of their lives. This leaves little room for obsessive reflection over the past and potential dramas of the future.

Instead, the tremendous power of the human mind is applied to solving difficult problems, an undertaking that provides less severe jumps between euphoria and desolation, but instead, gives a clean and truthful meaning to life.

Laughing at Life

Whats disturbing in one moment is hilarious the next.

Humor is usually the release of tension caused by a change in context regarding a shocking or absurd event.

People who don’t laugh are usually bitter, cynical, and resentful of the cruel nature of the world. The reasons for this are more than chemical. It is all too easy for one to despair in the knowledge of our condition; as mortal members of a young species existing on a floating piece of rock in a largely empty and barren Universe.

Yet that very description of our existence could function as the set up to a joke.

I’ve heard that morticians usually go to their work with a light-hearted attitude. Because what other choice do they have?

If every mortician woke up every day considering the dark implications and meanings implied by every part of their work, none would ever last more than a month.

We, as humans have no other choice but to laugh in the face of our absurd position as self-aware monkeys capable of gaining control and understanding of physical laws and conditions. Our options, if we are to confront the reality of existence, rather than ignore it, are only this; cradle our heads and weep, or throw them back and laugh at the stars.

The moments we forget that smirk and glimmer in the eye, whenever we cast our eyes down to consider graveyards and names long forgotten, we lose the emotional levity and leverage required for a productive experience and existence. The agoraphobes and the shut-ins aren’t laughing very much–, and from a certain perspective, their attitudes toward the world are accurate. It is risky out there. Chaos reigns supreme everywhere, successful though we might be at managing specific processes and outcomes. To live is to risk, to be in danger, to get hurt, stumble, fall, get embarrassed, and fail as many times as not.

But to despair and retreat from all that, to hide in safety and sadness–

What is that but a death for the living?

 

How to Spread Ideas

Ideas are viral and subject to many of the same rules as any other organism existing in a selective Universe. The primary rule of this selective process being that “Success” as it can best be defined for Organic systems, belongs not to the good, moral, or even the strong.

Success belongs to those ideas which by their very internal structure demand to be replicated and spread to other minds.

“No one should ever know what I think”

Isn’t a Viral idea in the slightest, because those who actually follow its message become unable to spread it to anyone else. No wonder very few people submit to this idea, and even fewer ever discuss it.

Now, an Idea such as:

“The human race will only avoid destruction if drastic action is taken to combat climate change”

is incredibly Viral, because it implies that humans(the viral host) will cease to exist unless the idea itself is shared and spread throughout the minds of millions.

It is fascinating to observe how many great ideas sets gain almost no ground in our culture, precisely because they contain no internal compulsion to spread the idea around to as many people as possible.

The most viral ideas imply rules and behaviors in their hosts that make even the uninfected more susceptible to infection. This effect compounds the more people come into contact with the idea, and so it spreads faster and faster until the pool of hosts is completely saturated. This phenomenon is well demonstrated by the spread of Christianity in medieval Europe. The more popular it became, the less secular thought seemed viable or shareable whatsoever.

This viral principle is consciously and unconsciously used by every authority and nearly every person who wishes to transform the beliefs and behaviors of others into something more similar to themselves and their ideal.

Is it distressing to know that morality and quality have no direct relationship with the effectiveness of an idea?

Or can we use this knowledge to mold great ideas into forms more accessible and shareable amongst the individual minds that make up collective culture?

The answers to those are of course, yes, and yes. But actually designing ideas so that they spread is incredibly difficult.

When was the last time someone unknown created a piece of viral internet content on purpose?

Manufacturing virality is challenging, but understanding how these forces play upon our psyche may help us to resist what would otherwise infect us, and forever alter our thinking.

 

The Power of a Paradigm Shift

Mind your paradigms.

It’s incredible the degree to which our behaviors are unconscious and totally determined by belief structures we don’t question or even consciously notice.

Paradigms are the lens through which we view the world.

But how can you notice a lens?

You probably can’t. But you can notice the places where it’s smudged or cracked.

Failure to achieve desired results are the clearest sign of a limiting, broken paradigm. Our unconscious minds want us to keep a limited paradigm. Our DNA wants to follow the path of least resistance, conserve energy, and reproduce. Nothing more.

In many ways, the basic drives of our DNA are sociopathic. They don’t care about charity, kindness, love, except in so far as they get us the things we need for survival and reproduction.

But our consciousness can rise above all that, and set a paradigm that beats the default behaviors assigned to us by our selfish DNA.

This is a choice we are presented with. A difficult choice, and a choice it takes effort even to perceive. But it is clear that everyone falls somewhere on a spectrum of paradigms, ranging from that of a Murderer to that of a Saint.

The former has fallen into a downward spiral, falling farther and farther down into a paradigm where all that matters is the immediate fulfillment of impulsive drives.

The latter forgoes immediate fulfillment in exchange for a continued commitment to the bettering of their environment, often at the expense of their own pleasure and profit.

Few of us exist at either of those two poles, but rather somewhere in the middle. We often swing wildly between moments of great joy and generosity and animalistic hunger or self-obsession. Take notice of what triggers these swings. It will be to your benefit, and the benefit of others to elevate your paradigm. So many of the problems we face are self-generated, due to a limited and unsustainable set of beliefs about what we need and what the Universe owes us.

It owes you nothing.

You owe it everything.

But luckily, if you are a microcosm of a system, anything that is to the benefit of the system, is a benefit to you.

Equality is Evil II

I’ve spoken before about the concept of “equality” as the desired end state for a system, whether it be in a school or human society as a whole.

But what precedent is there in nature for equality as a beneficial end state for a system, wherein the individual components of that system all benefit?

Take space. We call it such because it is unfathomably empty but for a relatively minuscule amount of massive objects. Neutron stars are so densely packed that a single teaspoon taken from their surface would weigh several tons. We may consider them the “greedy billionaires” of space. From any given neutron star there might be millions of light years of emptiness.

And what if matter, as energy, were equally distributed throughout the cosmos?

That, my dear friends, is known as the heat death of the Universe. Entropy. No life, no difference in distributions, and strangely enough…no diversity, the very thing which so many champions of equality label an intrinsic good.

Such a clear, catastrophic contradiction in values betrays the “equality as ideal end state” as nothing more than an emotional longing.

Longing for what?

For those who have more than you to have less and you to have more than you currently do.

I think most would regard that as the mindset of a thief, not a hero.

 

 

Pragmatic Morality

Far too often it seems that our actions done in order to please another only increase their distaste for us, whilst those done in an attempt to distance oneself from another only further increase their attraction.

Why do we pursue what runs, and shrink away from what reaches out?

Because we unconsciously assume that what needs us must be somehow lacking, and what evades us must necessarily possess something we lack.

Or perhaps it’s derived from our ancient instinct to chase whatever runs and run from whatever chases. Such is the plight of an intelligent omnivore.

Such is the plight of an intelligent omnivore.

But to fully conscious, self-aware creatures, are millions of years of evolutionary selection really any excuse for cruelty?

As usual, the real question is not in how the problem arises, but rather in how the problem is solved.

By default, we solve this problem in one of two ways:

By treating everyone like an undesirable, or by acting as though everyone has something to offer us.

The latter, though morally appealing, is not a sustainable strategy. Many people you encounter will threaten you and through various means and for countless reasons attempt to make your life worse.

The solution is in a reciprocal morality; by offering others the exact amount of respect and compassion that they offer us, we can avoid being taken advantage of whilst also helping those who are deserving of help.

But for those people who are truly evil, how do we avoid stooping to their level?

I suppose that is the most basic question in regards to a pragmatic morality.

How low are you willing to follow the people around you?

If you encounter someone who betrays, does that give you license to act in kind?

That lower limit is incredibly difficult to determine, and it becomes more difficult the eviler the enemy.

World War II essentially drove all the opposing world powers to act as though there was no lower limit, that all acts of evil were made acceptable by the actions of the opposing side.

What is your lowest limit of acceptable conduct?

Where does self-defense begin and end?

Is it better to behave as though everyone around you was evil, whilst assuming they’re inherently good, or behave as though they’re good whilst assuming they’re inherently evil?

And perhaps the most important question of all:

From whom and by what process have you determined the answers to these questions?

Few possess clear and conscious answers to these questions, but to act in the world we obviously must have some pragmatic morality.

Watch your behavior, and the unconscious system will reveal itself.

I’ve never met a person whose system wasn’t in need of some reform.

Why the Body Matters

We often operate under the false impression that we are and identity floating around in a brain, that is then housed within a body. Not only is this a rather medieval, pre-Darwinian mental model of experience, it is scientifically incorrect.

The human brain is merely the densest bundle of nerve fibers within a massive system that runs throughout the entire body. To believe that the brain is a totally dominant controller of the nervous system is equivalent to believing the largest tree in a forest controls that forest. Such a belief would lead one to a bizarre, pathological interpretation of all the phenomena within the forest. And if the forest began to operate under that model, it would become a rigid, barren place indeed.

No one part of a complex system such as a forest or our bodies can be said to have complete control or “intelligence” rather intelligence is that which arises from the simultaneous operation of millions of different systems nested within. The You being experienced now is an emergent entity, that though primarily manifested through the brain, originates in the organs, muscles, and diffuse nerve fibers throughout.

No wonder one gets a strange feeling when an otherwise brilliant person is out of shape and unhealthy. It is a strange contradiction to value the rational mind and personal expression over those components that make such abstract entities operational.

Consider yourself an anthill, not an identity floating in a meat suit.

Those many things that make up your moment to moment experience, though their function is not consciously noticeable are more important that what you can immediately identify as “me”.