The two primary drugs for dealing with discontent in society is either acceptance or radical change. With acceptance a person changes their standards to make their routine acceptable. With radical change a person takes on some form of risk in the hope that there will be some reward at the end. The drug of acceptance is promoted by spiritualists who associate suffering with struggle. The drug of radical change is promoted by motivational speakers and anyone interested in selling books.
The reality of what really happens is that people who chase spirituality to solve discontent will lie to themselves about the various states they may or may not be in. These people will hop from one spiritual leader to another trying to find the next big thing. Those who chase radical change will find motivational speakers whose charisma will get them charged up just enough to attend the gym the next day and then be in the exact same place in their lives the following week.
The problem with these various methods of dealing with discontent is that they are attempts to tell you about problems that you are already aware of. They are all ways to allow you to not confront yourself. If you have a broken leg, would you pay me to tell you it is broken? Hopefully not, hopefully you would go to a doctor. Spirituality is not a way of dealing with problems, it is a mapping system. Motivation is not something that can be infused, it is intrinsic to passion.
If you need to walk to the other side of the street just walk to the other side. Don’t waste your time walking over to a group nearby who are listening to a person tell them to cross the street, just do it. If you have a moment of hesitation, then don’t, don’t even waste your time trying. Now if this sounds like I am being motivational, rest assured, I am not. I believe a lot of the things people think they’re supposed to be doing, they’re not. Most change does not happen through power of will, it happens through power of necessity.
“Spirituality is not a way of dealing with problems, it is a mapping system. Motivation is not something that can be infused, it is intrinsic to passion.”
People are their core desires. There are people that want to be sad and there are people that want to be happy. The brain does not distinguish between certain types of stimuli in order to maintain survival. A person who has suffered their entire life will choose suffering in attempt to escape possible change, the brain does not like change. Sadness is the result of needing to deal with change and fear is designed to avoid change. Change however is the core trait of an Architect. The architects of the world have no need of motivation speakers because change is their primary function. They are successful not because they willed it, but because they are hard wired that way.
If people are their core desires, why even bother writing? Why not let things fall into place? I believe given enough time things will fall into place, but the process can be greatly increased if the people who are capable of change recognize their core function and then consciously connect with others with the same traits. Too much time is wasted trying to make people into things they are not and expecting people to be things they are not. Furthermore, it is up to the people who can facilitate change to help those who cannot. We do not choose our genetics and this makes life inherently unfair but together we can change this.
There are two types of fear, the first is the fear created by personal survival. The second is the fear of change. We will throw out success and run away from things that are good for us to avoid change. We think we know and understand fear such as the serial killer, the nuclear bomb, or global warming. Our most common fears regarding survival are easy to understand because we can formulate solutions even if they would never work.
I can almost certainly assure you that in the next one hundred years you will long for the days when nuclear war seemed like a legitimate fear. Technology is moving off the screens and into our bodies and this is going to have profound implications. What will you do when you are told that all your accumulated experiences are irrelevant because in seconds you can become anything you want? You might think this is amazing but think of the implications. If you can become anything, who are you? If you choose not to act, you could find yourself scraping the bottom unable to compete with genetically improved humans. What if you were offered the ability to lose the capability to commit evil, would you accept it? If you accept it, would you still be you?
What we call science fiction is starting to fall behind what we are actually accomplishing. The biggest challenge we will have in the future will not be about weather or murderers, it will be about existence. We will try to escape it by chasing media and digital worlds but the gleam will wear off. When the gleam runs out you will be left to make very serious decisions that will have dramatic effects on your life over very short time frames.
Now, more than ever, we need to become architects of the future. We must face the coming challenges now, not once they arrive.
The idea of escaping emotion has been around since the starting of civilization. Emotions can often be negative and so we will try to be objective or practice other methods of escaping emotion such as meditation. The need to escape emotion is usually always used in the context of escaping bad emotions such as fear or sadness because no one really wants to escape joy unless they are in a phase of their life where they are seeking purpose.
The most interesting thing about escaping emotion is how often we do it but we just don’t recognize it. I remember when I was a child and someone asked me how I was feeling and I responded truthfully, “I don’t really feel anything at all.” This was followed by, “Are you feeling alright?” I quickly learned that the proper response to that question was that I feel good or that I am okay. I think everyone can relate to this. How many times have you been asked how you are feeling and responded with, “I am good” when you knew that wasn’t entirely truthful? Why do we do this?
Humanity is obsessed with binary choices. Something has to be good or evil, wrong or right, and happy or sad. When we interact socially with people there is usually emotion present such as excitement or regret. When we interact with fellow employees over work tasks there is almost never emotion involved unless there is some kind of problem. I imagine there are people reading this blog right now that are stateless. They are neither happy or sad and if they were to really meditate on that for a moment it might actually make some people feel uncomfortable. In fact an unemotional state is where we spend a significant amount of time but we hardly reflect on it. This is because in an unemotional state there is no need to reflect, you have a goal or an objective of some type that needs to be accomplished and this might be something as simple as the need to go to the washroom.
Imagine you are driving down a long high way where the scenery was completely the same and suddenly you come to screeching to a stop to let ducks cross the road. If the trip took hours, it wouldn’t matter, you would only remember the emotional state you were in when the ducks crossed the road. When you reflect on your state of no emotion it might feel like you’re not living. However, after awhile you will realize that this state can be utilized to have moments of clarity.
Emotions are a reactionary force to try and get us to do something to compensate for some kind of stress or make us recognize lack of stress. That said, you are capable of interacting with the universe in a non-reactionary way. So how do you voluntarily escape emotion? That is the simple part. Unlike meditation this state is easy to get into once you recognize it. Let me explain. Odds are you have never really reflected on this state you enter on a regular basis, but now that you know it exists all you have to do is catch yourself in the act. Once you catch yourself in the act you can reflect on it and once you know how it “feels” you can gain the ability to turn it on and off. When you enter this state it might allow you to make better choices then to simply follow your emotions which almost always have a much shorter term horizon.
We talk about balancing forces regularly. The most common is this concept of Karma. Since Karma is religious concept with after life meaning, I am instead going to call it balancing force. There are two types of balancing forces in our world direct, and indirect. I am going to touch on both of these types in this article and also explain how you can utilize both of them to improve your life.
Indirect Balancing Force
A large amount of the time I hear people use the term karma in a sentence it is out of smite. You’re cut off while driving, someone gets the promotion you wanted, or you are bullied in high school. What do you say? “Those people are going to get what is coming to them!” The problem with this is that not only does this not help you, according to the way we believe balancing forces to work, you are probably completely wrong. Let me give you a scenario. Every day you got bullied in high school and all you could think was, “one day that bully will get what is coming to him.” The only problem is he actually did get what was coming to him every day when he went home and got beat by his parents. In this scenario, the positive points he gets at home is negated by his bullying. If there is a universal score board, he has nothing to lose or gain.
The real truth is that the universe doesn’t always work out the way we want it to. People who are mean and aggressive become rich and successful while other people who are very nice won’t be able to afford their mortgage. Now it is very true that there is a common story that exists where the mean jock will go on to work at a grocery store for the rest of his life and the quiet nerd will go on to be super successful, but this isn’t always the case.
If you want to believe in an indirect balancing force (Karma) you need to completely change how you view events that occur to you. When someone cuts you off in traffic instead of saying, “that person will get what is coming to them!” you need to say, “Thank you, this negative event you have caused me will make my future brighter.” Since you don’t have access to the universal score board, you have no idea what another person’s “score” is.
I personally don’t believe in a universal score board but I do believe in an indirect balancing force for another reason. We are all connected through our interactions. If I hold the door open for someone there is a connected event with that person that is created. If there is a person watching this occur, there is another connected event created. The combination of these connected events can have consequences on an individual. While it is impossible to predict ultimate outcomes, being mean to everyone is not going to have the best outcome.
Direct Balancing Force
Obviously relying on an indirect balancing force isn’t something most of us can be satisfied with. That is why we created systems of justice. Now these systems don’t always work as they should, but they are our first pass of bringing an ideal to reality. A direct balancing force also applies to when a person works very hard and is then rewarded for that hard work.
When it comes to direct balancing force there is really not that much to talk about because it is a force of our own creation so we have a general understanding of how it works and its current flaws.
Creating Reward Scenarios
Have you ever done something that you knew you were supposed to and then something positive happened shortly after? When positive things happen within a short time frame of an action we did, we sometimes like to create a relationship between the two and this is a very good thing.
Good things actually happen to us all the time but the problem is we can never be 100% sure why these good things happen. It could be that you are some how being rewarded for something you did, or it could be random. Regardless of why a good event occurs, you should associate it with an action you think most benefits your life.
This is partially deluding ourselves but it works out in our favor. If something good happens to you randomly and you accept it as random, besides possibly making you feel more lucky, the event has no force. Now if you believe the positive event was caused by something you did, then that event has more meaning. Depending on the positive event it may be impossible to know what actually caused it. It might very well be that it was caused as a reaction to something positive you did. If you can’t know, it is better to give the positive event some force to allow it to help shape your life for the better.
Why do bad things happen to good people? This is probably one of the most common questions I am both asked and that I also read about. I want to both answer this question and also confront something we are all guilty of and that is the fact that we tend to gloss over horrible events. When we read about terrible events such as rape we will admit it is horrible and then move on. The problem is the victim can’t so easily forgot.
When talking to people who have went through horrible events I will often hear a common statement, “What happened to me was meaningless.” The reality is that these events do have meaning, we just don’t want to believe it. If an event was truly meaningless, it would have no affect on people. Rape victims will go so far as to become promiscuous in order to try and make what happened to them meaningless. What we all need to embrace is the fact that corrupt events are not meaningless, they have the most important meaning of all, they are an indication of a problem.
Very few would say to a rape victim, “Thank you for your sacrifice, you have brought to light that corruption still exists and hopefully the power of this event can help change the world for the better.” Our entire culture is backwards. We worship those who gain happiness and success, and dismiss those who have been broken. We should worship those who have went through all forms of suffering; we have no problem doing it with soldiers but when it comes to rape victims we avoid it. Instead we pity them or express how horrible it is that something so bad happened to them, as if they didn’t know, and we indirectly degrade them as people. Everyone around them change for an event they had no control over. In our lack of understanding, some people will go so far as to blame them, but this is all wrong.
When a child burns them self on a hot stove, who do we blame? Do we blame the heat, the ignorance, or the child? Do we blame the pain that brought the child suffering? No, instead we realize that the pain was a necessary part of learning. What we try to do is teach the children not to touch hot stoves before they actually do it. In the same way horrible events represent the pain of society; events that are necessary but can be avoided.
Bad things happen to good people because in our current state they are our only guidance to escape all suffering. However, in order for us to prevent them from happening in the future we must all realize that bad events are not meaningless and that, in fact, they are very important. It is imperative we pay attention to when bad events happen so that we can better prevent them from happening in the future. We cannot not dismiss bad events as just something that happened in the past.
Suffering is responsible for every accomplishment, happiness, and transcendent experience imaginable. The suffering of boredom, lack of success, or lack of quality of life drives us to do the things we do. Almost every spiritual system that currently exists revolves around reducing suffering. We are constantly trying to reconcile the fact that our entire reality is shaped by suffering but at the same time try to avoid it as much as possible. Our success at life really revolves around our pain tolerance for life in general. The lower our tolerance for suffering the greater our drive will be to try to escape it.
We don’t usually think in these terms, instead suffering is considered wholly evil. The world tells you that if you’re not happy there is something wrong with you and you should get the problem “fixed” through any means possible. This is not to say I don’t believe that people can have true biological sicknesses that can make them depressed but mental illness doesn’t seem to be declining. The people that manage to break free of restraint though monetary gain will often times become like fish out of water flopping around on a deck hopping from one religion to another. The others who have freedom but don’t do spiritual or religious jumping jacks instead achieve by creating a new level of personal suffering for themselves that they can beat.
Spiritual leaders of old have mislead the world. What they either don’t know or hide from the world is that suffering can be as addictive as joy. People will plunge themselves into suffering because they are drawn to it. People in perfect relationships will destroy them. People with empires will burn them to the ground. When these things happen we dismiss them, call them crazy, and then move on. Teens will often test the waters of suffering which will make them act in ways that seem completely irrational to their unfortunate parents. Since we have classified suffering as evil, people who are drawn to suffering will often times consider themselves evil and may incorrectly feel the need to do evil acts.
What we must understand is that the reason people are drawn to suffering is not because they are insane but instead it is because their lives have lost purpose and it is only through suffering that they can regain purpose. How deep they go into their personal suffering is really how far they are from their objective. We have created systems that monopolize on this in the form of religion. Humans will constantly plunge themselves into suffering drugs, violence, and criminal acts where they will then get to a breaking point where they will become “seekers”. Once they are in seeker mode the first religion to get to them with the most community support will usually be the religion they convert to. The religion will then, of course, take credit for changing that person’s life when in reality they changed their own life through self-inflicted personal suffering.
Suffering is necessary for progress but what is not helpful is when people are destructive and pull us backwards. The idea of constructive suffering needs to be explored and we need to give people the opportunity to suffer in a way that will not permanently damage them or society. We must embrace the fact that people pursuing suffering are seeking purpose and not simply dismiss them or get them to go on drugs.