Monday, April 19, 2010

no problem

I have no problem laughing and crying at the same time.

Sunday, April 18, 2010

My childhood monsters as teachers

I have learned a lot about how to interact with mind from the extraordinary fear and chronic, super vivid nightmares I had as small child. Because I was constantly afraid of the dark, constantly having dreams of being chased or stalked by something scary, I eventually learned how to deal with these things.

It took me a long time to realize that the same dynamics applied to real life.

For instance, I learned, eventually, as a kid, that you have to stop running from your monsters for the nightmare to end. Running is the worst thing you can do. As long as you're running, the nightmare can keep going.

But once you stop running from what you are afraid of, and let it catch up with you, or, if it's just sitting in the darkness, waiting for you, jumping into that darkness, the nightmare ends.

Because whatever you were afraid of happens. The monster bites you, you feel really afraid, whatever. You then just wake up, or go into a different dream.

Applying this to life eventually, I learned to face my fears, to go into what it was I was afraid of. Nothing is as scary or bad as you think it will be, when you're actually in it. It's that tension of being about to get eaten, or whatever, that is the worst. Because that's the fear. Fear of annihilation, perhaps, or something more mundane. In any case, when you actually experience it, even when it's something in the real world and you don't literally 'wake up' from it, I would realize, "hey, the worst I'd feared has happened, and, I'm still here."

Just recently I realized another bit of wisdom from the monsters that used to live in the darkness everywhere.

The monsters couldn't stand light. That's why I kept my closet light on at night, even though light made it hard for me to go to sleep. Light killed monsters, vaporized them, or made them run away (I always tried to trap them in places, and then turn on the light to make sure I killed them, rather than them just running away to pop up later).

The thought did occur to me: maybe there weren't actually monsters in the darkness, since I've never seen them.

But I was afraid to believe that. I was afraid that if I believed that, then I would stop being cautious about the monsters. I wouldn't jump up onto my bed from a safe distance so they couldn't grab me and drag me under. (something that happened numerous times, in my nightmares, as I started trying to get the dreams to end quicker.) I wouldn't keep the closet light on, etc. And then the monsters would really get me.

It was this secondary fear, that reinforced my belief in monsters, with the power of fear. If the monsters could talk, the conversation might look something like this:

Monsters: we're living in your closet and we're going to eat you.
Me: I don't believe you. I've never seen you, how do I know you're actually in the closet.
Monsters: Oh, we'd love you to not believe in us; you've been so careful, you keep eluding our grasp. If you stop believing, then your guard will be down and we can finally eat you.

So when I asked the question: are there really monsters under the bed, the response I got was, well, I can't really know, but maybe there are, so It's safer to believe in them. So don't try and convince yourself there are not monsters, because that could be really dangerous.

Do you see the catch-22? I'm trying to make it very clear, because this applies big time to all of us grown-ups.

Here's what I realized: with some of my deepest rooted beliefs, that seem resistant to inquiry, the reason they won't dissolve in the light of inquiry into truth, is because there is this secondary belief/fear, that acts to reinforce and protect the main one.

Example: I think I'm a failure. I'm always doing something wrong, I'm never doing enough. OK, those are simple thoughts to inquire into. Is it true?


when I ask myself that question, I am that little eight year old Isaac, who is afraid that if I let go of that thought, that I'm a failure, then I finally will become a failure. I believe that my strong belief in me being a failure, my self flagellation for not being good enough, is the last little bastion I have keeping me from becoming my worst nightmare.

And so, that thought needs to be looked at and asked the question. Brought into the unbearable light of truth, to see if it is real or not.

This is today's lesson, brought to you by the monsters in my closet: if there is some belief you have that won't let go of you, perhaps there is another belief somewhere that says you need to have that belief. To sum up:

"if I stop believing in the monsters in my closet, they'll get me."

is it true?

A secondary realization was that the monsters actual existence is the thought of fear I was believing, as I sat or ran just out of reach of the darkness. Even if there was something in the darkness, that's not the real monster. not the problem. Ghosts, bears, ax murders; these are not the problem. The fear is the problem, and the fear is a thought believed in. every time.

perhaps that's why the eastern dudes say that the nature of ignorance/suffering/darkness is something that doesn't have it's own existence. While appearing to be the whole world, it is nothing at all. Misdirection. Like my non-existent monsters in my closet. They won't stop being a problem till I realize where they are: in my head. And, what I learned this week, was I won't realize where they are until I've dealt with my fear of looking.

I guess I was afraid I'd convince myself they didn't exist, but be wrong, because I used faulty logic, because I really wanted them to not exist. I was trying to make myself believe something different. And that didn't feel safe, because pretend belief doesn't do shit.

"oh, I'm just going to believe that we're all one, and nothing can hurt me."
that doesn't work.

But actually seeing it for yourself. That does.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

here, now, in time and space

BoldI am here, now, in space and time, because of the same thing that made Neo stay up all night, searching the internet. Something is wrong. Something is wrong with my world. I can't place my finger on it, like an itch inside my head, it maddens me with it's very unscratchability.

translated: with my inability to pinpoint what it is that is wrong.
I am emotionally, spiritually constipated. as are we all, or most. Probably mentally constipated too. I'm trying to eat more roughage, maybe take a laxative.

translated: I'm trying to learn how to process emotions, thoughts and beliefs.

For example, right now, the belief that something is wrong. There is only one possible reason I feel that something is wrong: there is some part of reality, concrete or abstract, that I believe should be different than it is.

Now, can I ever, ever know that?
We take for granted our "practical knowledge." :
"yes yes" you say, "of course we can't know anything absolutely, but for all practical intents and purposes, this seems to be how the world works."

to that I say, bs. Much of our "practical knowledge" is not in the slightest bit practical.

Here I sit, a twisted, pitiful creature. Like Gollum. Corrupted by the Ring. What is the ring?
The ring is Power.
The ring is Control.

We want to control our world. we want to make it other than it is. we are forming our own personal war on God. Re-enacting that old biblical, or semi-biblical story of satan rebelling against God. Like all good stories, the relevance is to our own story, our internal world.

when I try to change the world, change myself, I suffer immensely. I'm terrified of accepting the world, myself, in a way that would end this fearful striving to make the world different than it is.

The "rational" voice might say (it certainly does within me) that we are simply taking into account our future. We need to plan for that, and we do have an effect on it, and it's outcome.

But that is weasel talk and bad logic. The problem is the belief that something is wrong with right now. We pretend that we are punishing ourselves for our bad behaviour in order to make our behaviour better, but that is an illogical act.

Nature will give you the fruits of your action. You don't need to play nature's part and try to give yourself what you think you deserve. Nature is much kinder about it too. There's never any judgment in the way the universe works. You get what you pay for, you reap what you sow.

God doesn't prevent you from doing anything, He(/She) lets you do what you decide to do, and lets you get the result of that action. If you don't like the result, you can stop.

I have an objection to that:
What about addictions? Often I feel compelled to do something, not because it's particularly pleasant, but because not doing it is either particularly unpleasant, or thought to be unpleasant (though sometimes it's actually fine, when you actually find yourself in the situation you thought was going to be unbearable)

It is said that we, as humans, have the ultimate gift of free will. Is that true?

what does my experience say?

It says:
on the level of the observer, there is no action, and so there is no free will. There is nothing that is done, or not done. No action means no choice of which action to do. It is action-less, except for the primal action of being aware, or something a step simpler than that.
on a slightly further out layer, there is control over what you have your attention on. You may not be able to control your environment very much, or what thoughts you have, but what you put your attention on is to a large extent under your power.

however, as soon as you have free will, you have control. people can manipulate your thoughts, and even your attention. Think of a baby, being distracted from something a parent doesn't want him/her to be doing: maybe they wave a rattle, or pick them up and play with them. Maybe later on in life, you have a flashing billboard, offers of money, boobs, promises of peace and happiness.

Maybe someone just lies to you to get you to behave a certain way. Maybe they threaten you. Maybe they make you feel responsible, maybe they praise you, maybe they beg you.

Wherever there is freedom of choice, there is a whole sea of currents, pushing and pulling us. Environmental factors, mental conditioning factors, desire factors, avoidance factors.

Often, I feel powerless. I look at my actions and see a man, a boy, dominated by fears, hopes, and beliefs. I try and avoid pain and seek out pleasure. I do it my own way, not necessarily the most efficient way. But as humans do, I have the ability for self reflection. I can look at my processes and figure out how effective they are, and if they serve me well.

Lets look at feeling powerless: what is the effect of that: I get depressed. I become frightened of other peoples judgment, I withdraw into myself. This is not a useful happiness strategy. maybe there's some reason for it. I try to find a good reason for it. ... I find none. Only painful reasons.

Now the difficulty is that we are not machines, that can just replace a few lines of code with a more efficient algorithm.

I've been spending years trying to figure out how to properly do this. I've read various books, describing various methods. I've yet to find a way that is truly efficient. All my efforts feel like a lot of flailing around, for a little progress. Though that has been improving, as of late.

However, a big factor that slows this down significantly is the programming it's self. There are parts of me that don't want to do this de-programming.


because, as I said before, we are not machines. Our programming language is emotion, and that means you FEEL things. Everything you are trying to reprogram is read in the form of feeling things, and then re-written.

Most people spend there whole life avoiding feeling the parts of them that are the most scary. Fuck, I've been doing this for several years now, and I still avoid my feelings like hell.

But not all the time.

And the little time I manage to not run away, is when I manage to do some de-programming. And so, even with the little I've done, fighting my own bad programming (I think it would be akin, in this analogy, to having a metric fuck-ton of spam-ware on your computer, making it run super slowly and keep crashing when you try to run spam-ware cleanup programs, thus making the work slow and tedious.)

One final word of advice, from personal experience: if you decide to try your hand at reprogramming your code, and think, "well, I'll just go super hard core on that, push through any resistances, and be done with it." You are going to have trouble. Don't loose sight of the reason you are doing the work in the first place: your happiness. Or contentment, peace, fulfilment, whatever word you feel like using. The point being: keep yourself as happy as you reasonably can. If you are going through some emotionally draining work, be nice to yourself. eat good food, get some rest, hang out with friends, take a walk in nature, laugh.

Why? We are not robots. We work via feelings, we are squishy, organic beings, and we need cycles of rest along with our activity, or we will get burnt out. If you lift weights too much, you won't be getting stronger, you'll be hurting yourself and getting weaker. I've seen too many people try and go balls-to-the-wall with this spiritual stuff and end up burning out.

here is a quote that sums this all up: "start early, drive slowly, arrive safely."

I'll say it yet another way: there is an ideal speed to be going, with this stuff, and it is not too fast, not too slow. Both too fast and too slow, will get you there slower than a balanced speed.

All this really translates into, is that one of the factors to take into account when you are trying to do everything right (which I have been a complete failure at, but I keep trying) is the factor of your comfort.

Friday, April 16, 2010

no new posts: reason

I haven't been posting a lot. Sometimes I get into a headspace where I'm looking at my words and wondering if I actually want to say them.

Do I have anything worth saying? If I'm not sure whether i should say something or not, I generally err on the side of not. "First, do no harm."

Though I suppose, I'm going to have to screw that up a lot, so I can learn what should be said and what shouldn't. However, this isn't a good forum for learning that, because there's almost no interactivity. I'm speaking to a dark, quiet room.

However, I like the actual mechanism of having a blog. It is something I can access from anywhere, it dates things for me, organizes them chronologically... it's really a very handy journal. Much neater than my paper ones.

what to do...

I actually have a bunch of posts I've written and then kept in the limbo of being a draft, because I am not sure I want to post them.

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I can't tell people how I'm doing. Or I could, but I choose not to. Because I don't think they want to know. Because I don't want them feeling uncomfortable and obligated to fix me.

It's been a rough week. Oh, I should probably post my other posts. I wrote them, but didn't feel like finishing them.

There is so much darkness. There's lots of light too. More light than darkness. But the dark cycles still happen.

I'm like a baby or a kitten with them. helpless, uncomprehending, searching for meaning.

I sit and I feel. And feel and feel.
Friday I began watching myself. Something a teacher had suggested: pay attention to what your prayers are, because we have three main categories of prayers; things we love, things we hate, things we fear.

Prayer meaning that which we visualise and charge with emotion, in this case. This doesn't have to get esoteric though. In fact it can't, for my purposes. It needs to be very simple and obvious and in front of my face. Or I won't understand it.

I look, and I see: the voices in my head, the dark, dark voices, when I am inside, telling me I'm not good enough. Whenever I do something I've deemed 'wrong' they start screaming. "idiot. failure. look at what you've done. Look at what you've failed to do. Look how bad you are. Now something bad is going to happen. It's coming. You better try and fix it. Oh, you failed at that to. Well you better say you're sorry."
on and on, echoing daemons in my head. But I am watching them now, and they are loosing their power, as I see what I had not seen before. Their action, in the past, was all behind the scenes, whispering in my ear so I thought it was my own voice, or the voice of god.

I don't know who's voice it is, I don't disown it, but I see what happens when I listen and believe those voices. It hurts, and nothing good happens.

Action is fundamentally neutral. Like a knife, it is a tool, it is power, and what it creates can be positive or negative, based off of the wielders intent.

Sigh. This is what happened with the other posts. I don't have anything I want to say. I don't want to talk. I just want to sit here with the pain.

I'm probably not going to finish this either. it all just leads back to feeling this god damn fucking painful shit.

It's so confusing.

I'm afraid to let go of my pain. I'm afraid of it going away. It's like a spider that you can see: you really, really don't want to let it out of your sight, because if you do, it will scurry away somewhere, and maybe get close enough to bite you. You want to keep it in your vision as you feel around for something to smack it with, or a glass to catching it with, and transport it outside.

I really, really wonder if I am actually doing what I hope I'm doing, staying with these emotions rather than doing stuff to distract myself from them.

I have been told that I should be active. I know I'll feel better if I am.

but I don't want to feel better, because I'm afraid the fear and pain and self-hate will stay and fester, beneath the surface, just waiting for a day when things aren't so nice. And even if I keep it neutral, the fact remains that I am afraid to die, ashamed to die, because I still feel I am not living a worthy life. a meaningful life. I will die, and it will mean nothing.

[addendum: another one taken from the cobbwebbed drafts folder and finally edited and posted.]

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

...then he ripped out my molars with a fucking vice grips

I went home for the holidays. Passover, you might say, but I didn't go home because of passover. More likely, I went home because of Easter, and because of shoddy nutrition as a child.

That is to say, my primitive skills school had a spring break, and I needed to get my wisdom teeth out. (I read somewhere that indigenous people didn't have many dental problems, because they ate a much more nutritious diet, and thus had more robust jaws, which had room for all the teeth. But my sources are shady on that, so don't take my word on it.)

It was a really interesting weekend. I'm not even going to tell you the most ridiculously interesting part. I'm just going to taunt you, like this.

Back to my mouth:

quote from my dentist: "I don't know why they call them wisdom teeth. They should call them stupid teeth."

I am quite fond of my new dentist. He is nice and good humored and he is so ridiculously more advanced technologically than my previous dentist that I'm almost jealous for the future generations of children who wont have to suffer the indignities and tortures that horrible, stupid dentistry technologies have inflicted on me. (though they were still much better than even worse, more ridiculous technologies of further back.

Let me give you some examples:
fillings: fillings now don't have to be giant bits of shiny mettle in your mouth, nor do you need the weird, extravagant methods of punching out the mettle to fit the hole drilled. It's just an epoxy they put in and shine a light on. It's really quick.

Needles: this makes me pissed off at all previous dentist methods: there is topical anesthetic that you can swab on to the part of your gums that's going to get stuck, so you don't even feel much of the needle going in.

braces: this is the biggest one. Apparently now they have this shit called invi-align or something, where, instead of the hugely pain in the ass process of spacers, cement, tender teeth and gnarly rubber bands and oh fucking hell, night-time head gear, you can get a mold of your teeth taken, and then they make this see-through plastic tooth cover that subtly moves the teeth into place and you just take off, when you want to eat. I assume you progressively go in for more of these molds that keep moving your teeth into place, and I assume it's more expensive than the spiky mettle and cement option, since you always pay for convenience, but damn, that's a better sounding option by far. I've already put my time in (oh god, how much of my life was made worse by those clinky mettle bastards?) but hopefully it's not too much more expensive, so future generations don't have to deal with that shit. It seems like it might actually be less expensive, since it's so much less work. Just take a mold, send it it, have a set of tooth covers made. Done. I suppose if I was trying to get money off this blog I would put in a link to invis-aligne or something, but I have some mental blocks about being a businessman.

fluoride: even the fluoride is better. that is, it is much less likely to trigger my gag reflex. It needs to stay on for less time, and it's put on differently, and it doesn't taste as bad. Rather than a tooth trough that they fill with goop and you bite down on, they just swab it on, while your mouth is propped open with gauze and such.

I kind of get the feeling that this dentist is just really interested in using the least invasive/uncomfortable stuff, and really does his research. I actually feel comfortable letting him at my mouth, rather than with most dentists, where I'm constantly wondering if this person drilling at my teeth is doing a dirty car repairman scam, messing something else up, or fixing things that don't need fixing. If not intentionally, just via outdated information.

Whatever it is I end up doing, I'd like to take that model for being successful: just do your job really well, trying to give the customer the best service possible, and charge a premium for good service.

As opposed to the business model of just trying to get people to give you their money.

Anyways, my dentist said I should get the wisdom teeth out, two especially, so I went to the maxiofacial surgeon he recommended for that.

After a bit of nonsense where my x-rays didn't get sent, we got into the actual procedure, which was pretty fast.

A bunch of pills, one to prevent swelling/inflammation, and an antibiotic. A big ol' shot of Novocaine into each quadrant that was getting pulled, and then waiting for that to take effect, so a second, even bigger needle could go in further, without much pain. They asked if I wanted laughing gas, or to get knocked out. But I declined. I'm already numb, the other stuff is just for scaredy-cats who are frightened of the idea of teeth being pulled. Or so I thought.

I take the long wait, as they're calling back and forth in the office, trying to get the right x-rays mailed, to survey the tooth ripper's equipment. Most of it is covered with one of those dentists light blue napkins. I'm sure that's standard procedure to keep the squeamish from panicking, thinking about how all the exotic tools are about to be used. I used to be in that category hard core, so I can relate, but it doesn't bother me any more, and I like to savor that fact, since it's a rare opportunity to survey the real, practical change that has happened to me, via dedicated and prolonged spiritual practice. That shit took a lot of my time and attention, was painstaking and difficult to stick with and sometimes harrowing, having to face my demons, and it's not like learning the piano, where you can bust out a nice tune that you couldn't at month before, or get paid for your expertise playing at a bar. Spiritual improvement is so much less tangible. Generally I only notice it when something really shitty happens and I react in a much more healthy way than I'm supposed too.

So no knockout gas for me, and I get to enjoy the unique sensation of hearing the cracking and feeling the pressure as my teeth are sawed, levered, cracked, and pulled out, and the very bone upon which they were embedded, scraped with a mettle tool, like they use for cleaning teeth, to make sure there are no bone fragments (I'm deducing here, the doctor wasn't giving me a running commentary, also probably to avoid making squeamish people vomit or piss themselves.)

I did get some laughing gas given to me, halfway through. As the doctor was cutting into my gums, to get to an underground molar, I started feeling a bit nauseous. I wondered if it might have been from blood loss or something. I mentioned this to the doctor, by grunting and pointing at/rubbing/clutching my belly, and they put on some laughing gas, which I thought was peculiar, since I wasn't freaking out, and since I recall laughing gas in the past making me feel a little queasy, breathing it in. But after the initial queeze of putting it on, it did make the stomach upset go away. Cool.

I'm going to play Sherlock and posit that the massive injury to my gums and jaw, though not painful, was still detected by some body system, and the body started responding like it's supposed to when it's being chased by a leopard after having a chunk taken out of it. That is, heart rate up, evacuate bowels, stomach stop digesting.

As I felt my jaw bone being scraped, I gave deep, heartfelt thanks for the invention of anesthetic. And for the proficiency that medicine has gained, to do such a big operation, so efficiently. couldn't have been more than fifteen, twenty minutes of actual cutting and ripping. maybe less. Then I was back out on the street with some bloody gauze jammed in my cheeks, proscriptions waiting for me at the local CVS and ice-cream waiting for me at home.

Sure beats a barber strapping you to a chair with belts, giving you a bunch of whiskey, and ripping your molar out with a piece of string, after the pain has become so agonizing that this option actually sounds preferable.

God bless good doctors. And good medicine.

Though, I must say, I am currently feeling seriously loopy. I think it started Saturday, with flying back to Seattle on a plane. I may have caught some kind of strange bug, because of my compromised immune system. There's no coughing or sneezing, but I am really, really tired, and I don't feel like eating anything solid. I just checked with my tooth destroyer, and he said it should be fine, just get rest and drink liquids.

So I think I'll go have some more tea and sleep now. though it's only 8:30. I am quite fond of naps, these days.

that's all for now. if the writing is weird, it's cus the brain isn't working so well. It feels like the power is being diverted away from the brain, into the body's healing systems.

[addendum: (I often leave these pieces in the draft folder until I have time to come back and edit them (mainly spell check, also, so I can look at it without being sick of my own voice)) it is many months later: everything healed well, turned out the weird-headedness was from decaying matter in my empty sockets waging war against my immune system: just had to rinse out the sockets more thoroughly and promptly after eating. Also, I still have the painkiller prescription, which I only used a few of, and am not sure what to do with now. For the moment, I moved the pills out and put in some peanut m&m's, so I can pretend to be a pill popper, and because I like peanut m&m's (though actually it's some pretend-healthy knock off from the local health-food store.) end addendum.]

Sunday, April 4, 2010

Time > money

here's one of the central questions for people interested creating a better world:

-the vast majority of people don't have time for the education required to explain to them why the system isn't working and give them the tools to change it.

-they also don't have the energy, for the same reason: they are spending there time energy and attention doing jobs that keep them alive: fed clothed and housed.

-and they are spending there free time distracting themselfs, rather than educating themselfs, because they are very unhappy and need something that will make them feel better, entertained, or at least distracted.

-and education is untrustworthy, since there are so many different viewpoints chattering all at once. Each makes it's case well, sounds believable, and contradicts some other viewpoint that also makes sense and presents it's case well.

people have there hands full, just looking out for themselfes and there familys.

Is this true?

I'm not sure.

How much does it really cost to live? there are lots of people who are not capable of the mental clarity nessisary to make a living, but most people are. If you cut out non-essentials, like internet, phone service, tv, eating expensive foods, good computers, good cars, or cars at all... I wonder if you'd still have your hands full, providing for yourself.

How much could I provide for myself?
I don't have to, so it's not tested, but what If I did have to? how successful would I be? food and shelter would motivate me, and staying connected with friends. But if I lived in fairfield, I wouldn't need to buy anything to stay connected to friends.

And I might not need to buy much, in the way of food, if I grew it myself.

I'd still probubly have to buy a fair bit, in the way of land and housing, and heating and electricity.
and buy clothes... but that could be cheap hand-me downs, if need be.

I would have to work. but how hard?
at first, probubly pretty hard. Setting up my garden, my house and land, but once I got the hang of it?
It might be ok then, since most of the work would be stuff I enjoy: being outside, doing physical labor, working with plants, building things, solving problems.

There is an over-quoted story, from my collage sustainable living department, that is nonetheless very significant: cultures like the bushmen of australia could well be considered the original affluent society, since they spend only a few hours a day, if that, taking care of there needs for food, shelter, water, etc. The rest of the time is spent as they want. Playing, learning. People are happy, smiling, healthy.

This is a Time Rich culture.

We have people here who are money-rich, but time poor. They spend all there life time working to make money so they can have useless crap that doesn't even make them happy. And the jobs make them miserable and cut them off from there families and real friends. This is not to say people who are money-poor are necessarily time rich. often they work just as hard or harder, in worse conditions. And these are the extremes of the situations, highlighted to show a point:

what is really worth selling your time for? Because selling your time is selling your life, and frankly my life is worth more than anyone can pay for. After meeting my essential needs, my time is going to be spend in the contemplation and pursuing of a life worth living. something full of love and joy and discovery and adventure. Something that feels deeply meaningful and right. I don't know what that looks like yet, but I'm working figuring that out like my life depends on it.

Because it does.