Jaded, or Just Conditioned

Jaded
We’ve all heard the tale of people becoming jaded as they get older. “Back in my day…”, “Kids these days are so…”, “When I was young politicians…”, etc. It’s a common enough story.

When I heard these stories as a kid, I assumed the adults knew what they were talking about. I took it for granted that they were right. And, sure enough, as I grew from kid into adult I began to see their point. I began to see how kids did not have the same freedom and respect that they used to. I began to see that our politicians had slid from icon to used car salesman to crook. I began to conform to this view.

Lately I am beginning to see things differently. When I look at the world we adults have built in an objective way, it seems plain to me that we are horribly coo-coo. We are messed in the head. Insane in the membrane. “Nucking Futs!” as they say. We care nothing about our home (the planet.) We vote to keep people from being recognized legally for loving each other. We go to war, and behead each other over writings that are plainly horribly outdated. We shit were we sleep, and hold that we have an inviolable rite to do so.

In short, the adult world is one dreamed up by the worst breed of basket cases.

When I look at children these days I do see that they are more at risk (other than from absolutely crazy adults who have lost all sense of propriety). However, I do not see them being any less optimistic, loving, and naturally caring than I was when I was a kid. The kids have not gotten worse. We adults have.

In other words, it’s not that the world (as such) has gotten more rotten. Rather, it’s that the world we adults hold to be true has. The children of today are no less innocent and full of a love for life than they ever have been. The adult world they grow into, and get educated to conform to, is what is going down the tubes.

What does this mean? Well, if it is true that things just get worse with time, there’s not much we can do about it. Perhaps we could improve our situation by ceasing to complain about it. That’s not much, but it’s something. However, if it is true that it’s not the world that’s getting worse, but rather it’s our adult world view, then we can change it. We can make a choice to bring forward our discarded optimism and create the world we want. Just like we did when we were kids.

To Dream To Be Human

Hupao

One of the things that happens when you spend a lot of time observing your own process is you get sensitive to those times when you make a big turn on your own path.

These often come along with some external event which opens our paradigm to a new possibility. Or, they come as an insight, or epiphany, that does the same thing.

I’ve recently had one of those insights. Not surprisingly it came to me during meditation. It has to do with the realms of consciousness we all have access to.

I’ve written about these before, but in a nutshell: According to lots of long term traditions that humans who look into such things, we have access to certain, distinct, realms of consciousness.

First is the Gross realm of physical things. Rocks, bodies, tennis shoes, and so on. It’s also called the Waking state since it’s the state we encounter when we are awake and walking about.

Next is the Subtle realms of ideas, images, impressions. It’s also called the Dreaming state, the one we go to nightly when we go to sleep. We also step into this realm when we day dream or contemplate while awake.

Then comes the Causal state. This is the blank space of potential. That which everything that could be stands upon. It’s also called the Deep Sleep state. This is where we go in our sleep cycles after we have dropped through dreaming. Everything at that point is “gone”. The only thing that is encountered is nothing.

Some of the traditions push these states further in accord with the findings of deeply dedicated explorers of these realms. The lineage of meditators who sit in caves for years on end and accumulate five, ten, or even twenty thousand hours of time on the cushion.

These “hard core” types have discovered, and mapped out, two further realms of consciousness.

The “fourth” realm is referred to in Hindu thought as exactly that, “turiya”, a word that means fourth state. This is the “pure consciousness” which observes, or witnesses the arising of the other three. This state can be confirmed by both non-meditators and advanced meditators. For non-meditators this can be confirmed by being awoken during deep sleep. Perhaps a sudden sound in the environment, or your room mate coming home late, or a fire alarm going off. If there was absolutely no consciousness present in you when you are in the causal state of deep sleep, then you would not note the experience that woke you. Advanced meditators often get to the point in their practice where their conscious awareness continues through all three states above. Meaning they are aware that they are aware even in deep sleep, despite nothing happening to notice.

The fifth state is referred to as turiya-tita, “beyond the fourth.” This state subsumes all four other states. Words fall short here, so we’ll just move along.

Since these states are so often described in an order of some sort, it’s easy to become locked into thinking that order is concrete. Ken Wilber, in his work with the Integral Model points out part of this stuck tendency. Many of the ancient traditions hold hard to the scheme that you get the gross realm before the subtle, then the causal, and so on. Some refer to an inversion of this order as the original creation myth; meaning that “God” sifts down into causal existence, which then sifts down into subtle existence, and finally shows up in gross existence as rocks, plants, and so on.

The issue is that the gross state is there as a framework throughout all the other states, as we humans experience them. Your body does not go away when you drop into deep sleep, for example. We also day dream while wide awake, just before we stub our toe on a gross plane coffee table. So these realms of existence then do not stack on top of each other, but rather they inter-penetrate each other.

So, back to my insight. I had been locked into relating to these realms in a stacked way that had the point of my human experience be at either end. I think that is missing the mark, because what we humans do that is radically unique to us has to do with what we do with our dreams.

Alfred Korzybski, father of General Semantic, suggested that one of the key things that makes humans unique among the species we know is what he called “time-binding.” We pass our knowledge, our culture, our technology, our dreams, from one generation to the next. We do this with language, story, and information storage techniques such as the printed word. This enables us to advance in ways that other species simply cannot. Animals do pass on acquired skills through the generations, but with no where near our speed and integrity.

Another unique thing about being human is that we are the “tool using ape.” We are not alone in that in the species that we share this planet with, but because of our capacity to time-bind we are orders of magnitude beyond what other species can muster.

We craft tools with which to craft our environment, our world. We build things conceived in our dreams.

In short: We humans bring the possibilities existing in the subtle realm into the gross realm.

We are world crafters who use the raw stuff of the dream space as templates for altering the worlds we choose to live in. There is an old saying that, “Life imitates art”, and I think that is precisely true. Life, the life we humans make for ourselves, comes from the dreams we have, the things we imagine. When a piece of art, a story, or a entertainment captures our hearts we find a way to make it real.

What are cell phones if not Star Trek communicators? What are smart phones, if not tricorders? The works in fiction pre-sage our works in science and invention because they come from the same source. The subtle realm of dreams, images, and ideas.

I think this is what we humans do most and best. We are explorers, first and foremost, of our dreams. I have a strong allergy to what I call the “human-o-centric” view, the philosophical position of putting humans as central to the reason for reality being the way it is. So, that gets me to wonder about portions of our perceived reality that seem to only be there because we can perceive them. With regards to the subtle realm, it does not seem like such a realm had any impact on reality here before some form of life came along that could access it. Meaning life with a brain capable imagining, and dreaming. Before there were creatures that could dream, the subtle realm seems meaningless. It’s really a chicken and egg issue, of course, but it makes me wonder.

Is the subtle realm some sort of “intrusion” onto our reality by another order of reality? Is it the case that the subtle realm represents a different dimension slowly coming into contact with ours? It makes me consider Terence McKenna’s idea of the “transcendental hyper-space object at the end of time.” The idea is that evolution, and the accumulation of novelty within our reality, is not a matter of pushing from the past, but rather being pulled from the future. In other words, we are under the influence of an attractor which is pulling us toward it, slowly transforming us as it does so. The fall, like one caused by the gravity of a massive object, is accelerating. Evolution is accelerating.

So, perhaps what is happening is that we are falling, ever more deeply, into the subtle realm. As we do so, this gross realm is being converted to comply with the dream. We re-shape the world in our own image.

Perhaps this is the “alien invasion” so often conjured up in science fiction and the hopes and prayers of UFO enthusiasts. Not the arrival of a new species, but rather the arrival of a new dimension of possibility.

The reverse is possible, of course. It may not be a case of the subtle realm descending on us. It may be a case of us elevating into it. From a relativity perspective this is the same thing. From a functional standpoint though, the difference is interesting and brings up different questions.

It’s those kind of questions that I have been pondering since my view on the realms of consciousness got shaken up. I find the image of the human as an explorer of the depths of the dream space, shaping the reality we live in to match up with what we find very compelling.

What do you think?

How to Follow a 1,000 Day Writing Vow When You Are Sick

Leonid_Pasternak_001

Recently a fellow blogger reached out to me because of my story about my first 1,000 day vow in Chris Guillebeau’s new book “The Happiness of Pursuit.” She asked me about overcoming fears during such a vow. One of the fears that comes up for me when following a 1,000 day vow (like the current one I am on for writing every day) is of getting so sick that I have to skip a day, and start over from one.

Today is a day where I face such a fear. I am fairly sick, and appear to be getting worse. (Doing my best to get better though, upping my water intake, eating healthy food, staying away from sugar, and so on.) So, what is the solution to such a fear? Well my friends, you’re looking at it. I have found that in nearly all cases where fear comes up around failing at a 1,000 day vow, the solution is to do it anyways. As it happens this poetically provides an easy subject to write about, so there’s that.

What I have found over the course of my 2 successful 1,000 day vows so far, and the one I am currently about half way through, is that it is never about doing 1,000 days of something. It’s really always about doing one day. This one. Then you simply repeat that until you are done.

This dove tails into a few things I have been learning recently. I was raised with the idea that the way to succeed is to have a goal, chunk it into smaller portions, make a plan, and then execute until you get it. I’ve had some success with that mode of living. More failures. I’ve learned from the failures, but what has taken me sometime to learn is that the goal oriented way of doing things is not for me.

I am more of a systems man. More of a repetition man. As I mentioned above, the secret I have found to completing a 1,000 day vow is not to complete the goal of 1,000 days. The secret is to complete the vow this day. Tomorrow will be there when I get there. Before I realized that I a systems guy, rather than a goal guy, the way I succeeded at the goal I am most proud of was by following the system of doing the vow one day at a time. That is a systems approach, and it works.

Another thing that has come to light for me recently has to do with a roller coaster I have been on for a lot of my life. I am reading Jeff Olson’sThe Slight Edge” and his first couple of chapters deal with this roller coaster. Jeff describes what he has seen thousands of people do over his decades of being in the personal development field, which he also describes himself doing in his earlier years. It’s a patter I am sad to admit I fall into all too often.

The roller coaster goes something like this: You make a decision about how to get your livelihood taken care of. Then you start taking actions to come up from zero. As you reach the survival level of income, you relax a bit. Your effort wanes, and you start to fall towards the failure line. The fall starts slowly at first, then accelerates. Once you realize what is happening, you buckle down and get back into gear. You start taking your actions again… until you get to the survival line, at which point you taper off. Rinse and repeat. You waffle between failure and survival, and never make it up to success. What Jeff noted, and what I am getting, is that achieving success does not lie in doing something special, or new. Rather it lies in continuing to do the actions that took you from failure, to survival. Rather than tapering off, just keep going. The way to get from survival, to success, is the exact same way you got from being in danger of failure up to a survival level.

When I read this distinction in Jeff Olson’s book, it was a big “duh!” moment for me. It was also a bit embarrassing. However, I saw how much sense it made when I considered my vows. The secret to succeeding at them is simply doing them every day. I am looking forward to putting this distinction into use in my professional life. I find this distinction a great relief. No longer is it a case of working harder, or smarter. Rather it’s a case of working consistently. That I can do.

Well, there you have it. My sick day post. I hope it hasn’t been too rambling, but if it is, I’ll blame it on being ill. ;)

I’d love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment below if you are so inclined.

Cheers!