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Monday, 29 July 2013

The Pit And The Jigsaw


When you're stuck in a pit, how many ropes do you really need to get out?

Say you're there, and a rope gets chucked down.  Then another, then another.

This rope looks shiny and pretty.  This other one looks glittery.  That one there looks like it's made of tinsel.  That one there looks pretty strong.  That other one looks quite modern, like a hi-tech rope.

Surely if you connect them together, you'll have a super rope.  And that's the point, right?  We just want the best possible rope, so it makes sense to just keep collecting them, keep trying to combine them all.

It is so easy to think in these terms, and almost everyone, myself included, does it sometimes.

Perhaps what might be of more use though, is if we start - just start - to approach this whole situation in a slightly different way.

If we start to think of ways we can question, just to ourselves, when we're alone and nobody's watching, whether 'getting the whole thing understood' is really a wise thing to have as the one single, central goal of what we're doing with all this.

To get the 'grand theory' that pulls it all together.  If we can just get that, then surely, we'll be fine, right?

It makes so much sense to think in these terms, but perhaps we should start thinking a little more about the pretty obvious fact that nobody who has ever thought in these terms has ever had a happy ending.

Because the fact is, we're not trying to solve a puzzle.  We're trying to escape a pit.

So instead of waiting for all the different pieces of rope to be brought together perfectly into one perfect rope that perfectly makes sense to you and everyone, and perfectly lifts us up with no slips, no setbacks, no falls, nothing, perhaps it might be wiser to grab a length, pull, and don't stop until you see daylight.

The point is not to get out in a perfect way.

The point is to get out.

So you get it wrong, fine - get it wrong.  Get it wrong and try again, try something new, try a new way of doing it.

So this bit makes sense but that bit doesn't?  Stop trying to make sense of it all, grab the bit that does make sense to you, use that.

And are we really being as clear with ourselves as we can possibly be about this?

Are we taking the time to see this in what we ourselves are doing?

And if the answer is anything less than 100% yes, you might do very well to think about how you can check yourself, and make sure you're not, even for a moment, slipping back into that autopilot response of being passive, and sitting there like a tame consumer, at the bottom of the pit, collecting all the answers you can, and waiting for the magic to happen.

Life is waiting at the top.

Saturday, 27 July 2013

It All Comes Round In The End....


It's seductive, isn't it?  The perfect analytic answer, the equation that makes sense of it all.

We reach for that, hunger for it.  In fact, we hunger for the analytic answer to a problem far more than we hunger for a solution that works.

Get a solution that works, and you've just got no more problem.

Get an answer, and you've got an answer.  Clean lines, straight edges.

The thing is though, if you just try and actually get real about whatever issue it is you're facing, and then the next, and then the next, after a while you find an incredible elegance that you would never have been able to work out just, kind of, is.  It's just there, through it all, an elegance and clarity.

It's only noise because we're only listening to part of it.  Everything makes sense on its own terms.

And the crazy thing is, if you're really good, you can start charting that elegance, that simplicity.

So it all comes round in the end.

Thursday, 25 July 2013

Shhh....


You know, let me tell you something personal about me that I haven't told anyone.  And when I say anyone I mean literally, anyone else on Earth.  Just something I noticed about myself, and the way I operate.  Something that might give you a little bit of an insight into things, into how to turn a negative into a positive, so to speak, or a weirdness into an asset.

I never knew my father.  He was a drunk and violent man, and my mother had the great courage and foresight to leave him when I was still gestating merrily away in her womb.  I'm very grateful that she did, and God alone knows what kind of life I would have led if she hadn't.

That's not the thing I haven't told anyone by the way.  Lots of people know that.

The thing I've never told anyone is this though, which is something strange that I noticed about myself.

I never missed having a father - you don't miss what you've never had.  It never bothered me in any way - my mother was, and still is, a very strong woman, and she did a great job of being both parents.

But looking back (and this is the thing I've never told anyone) I can quite clearly see that I had this weird tendency.  It was a tendency to fixate on men as father figures.

I'd just kind of idolise them, and do what I could to learn from them.  Some of these men were people I knew - teachers, for instance.  One of them was my English teacher, a man called Alexander "Sandy" MacKinnon, who read an off-syllabus book once in a class I was taking, that completely changed my life.

That book was The Great Divorce by C. S. :Lewis, and if you haven't read it yet, buy it and read it.  It is a stunning and forensic piece that opens the core mechanisms of suffering and joy like a mechanic would pop the hood of a car.

Many people reject it out of hand, because it's written in Christian terms.  Many Christians completely miss the point of it, because they're so busy tripping over themselves to agree with what's being said, that they take no time to consider it.

I on the other hand, was listening to my Dad-of-the-week.  And so I listened.  I idolised him, and listened very carefully, and really got inside the ideas.  I didn't pick and preen, posture and niggle at the little bitty things that it's easy to criticise.  Of course not - would you?  Would you if your Dad was trying to really get something important across to you that meant a lot to him?

No, you'd listen, you'd get your head inside what he was saying - or at least you would if you were a young kid, which I was at the time.

And you know, he moved on, I left the school.  And then I found another author - Bryan Magee.  I did the same thing there too.  Just knuckled right down, got right inside what he was saying.

You know, it's a weird thing talking about humility, because we live in an incredibly arrogant world.  We're taught arrogance from a very young age, the importance of arrogance.

Shut up and listen.  That's not a virtue we like in ourselves, is it?  That we would just shut up about all the things we - personally us, personally you, personally me - that we believe, or think, or want to say.

That we would ever just shut the hell up.  Just put all of it aside, and open up the ears, and just get right inside what someone's saying, like it's coming from the mouth of the person you admire most on Earth.

That's when it's easiest to listen - when you admire.  And not having a father gave me, in retrospect, an incredible advantage which is instrumental to what I do and how I do it.

It is this.  I am very, very cheap with my admiration.  I admire hard and rapidly.  I admire to extremes.  I admire quickly, and genuinely.  If I recognise that someone has something of genuine value to say, I just stop.  I literally just shut the hell up.

This might seem to people to be weak - and a lot of people throughout my life have thought that of me.  That I bow too low, that I make a servant of myself too quickly.

And a lot of people think that being strong is the same as never showing to anyone that you don't know something.  That being strong is the same as having a strong opinion, regardless of what that is.

This is what people teach, what people tell each other, what people enforce as an idea of strength, because in the very short term, it does look stronger than the person sitting down, looking up, listening attentively, and doing what they're told.

That was me.  Over and over, time and again.  Only with people I respected - but once I respected someone, that's what happened.

And I found that in that position, sitting down, shutting up, being humble about my ideas, listening to others - I could rapidly, rapidly understand what that person was saying.  I could get right inside it, and not just understand the idea, but see the idea.  Move it around in my head, spin it this way, spin it that.

It gave me complete command of the ideas of the people I respected the most.  And then all of a sudden I could start seeing these connections, really clear connections, between this idea and that... and then all of a sudden I'm not just kneeling at the feet of these brilliant people.  I'm connecting and deepening their ideas in ways they never did.

But then of course, I had to look very subservient to do it... because I had to BE very subservient.

But it didn't give me cancer.  I didn't explode.  And because I was only being subservient to people who really had something interesting to say, I was able to get my head around some amazing stuff.

And then... I was able to notice what I was doing.  And then directly hone it like a skill.  To consciously do it, as a kind of acceleration pedal.  When you really have to get right inside what someone's saying.  There's some really good people out there.  I'd never be able to understand what they were all saying if I couldn't shut my goddamn mouth and open my goddamn ears when necessary.  There just wouldn't be enough time.

But there is enough time if I do.  Because this is rapid.

This is the power of humility, and it is a lost power to the world we live in.  We're never taught it.  We're taught to mock it, to attack it.  And sure as night follows day the one single consequence of this is that we fail to utilise anything like our actual capacity for insight and connection.

Nothing like it.

So there you go.  Something nobody knows about me - my fixation on father figures because of my lack of one led me to unlock a way of getting inside the deepest ideas of the best of humanity, rapidly, and connecting them up, rapidly.

And all it meant was a few raised eyebrows, a few snarky comments, and a few nasty names from some wonderful people did not understand what real strength was, just what fake strength looked like.

Might want to start looking for ways to ask yourself if you're one of those wonderful, wonderful people.  And I'm not being sarcastic - wonderful people.  Lovely, fun, cool, well liked - but severed from this quite phenomenal power.  And it is phenomenal, I owe so much to it, and it's key to so much of what I do.

But uh... yeah.  I never told anyone that, so, just...

Shhhh.

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

And Amazing Things Get Done


Why are you so motivated, Ciaran?

I get this question sometimes.  I actually do get this actual question, I'm not just saying it.  People really do contact me with this.

But their assumption's right inside the sentence.  That I am so very motivated.  So motivated.  But that's not really true.  Something else is true that they don't want to hear about.

They want the juicy aphorism, the big slogan, the thing that will get them all fired up, like they imagine I must be, all the time.  What they don't want is the truth, which is sad, because the truth is a hell of a lot more powerful than that awesome sounding slogan that makes you feel awesome for the next 10 minutes, and then it goes away.

And it's sad, because I can tell you exactly what the secret is, if you can hear it, if you want to hear it.  I can describe it at length.

And perhaps it might be an idea to start looking at things from this point of view, because it is a different point of view.  Just to start considering something different.  Just to begin.  Just to begin to think about things in a different way.

Because the truth is that the thing I've found that gives me the most motivation, drive, motion, impetus, momentum - the thing that actually gives direction and motion to my life - isn't anything I've ever heard anyone else talk about.

A lot of people seem to think that motivation's this substance you want to get as much as possible of.  Just as much as possible.

But that's not how you get things done, that's not how you really achieve mastery at something, or really make an amazing impact.

There's something else, something smaller and subtler, but that has a much greater power, because it's power over time.  Anyone can get themselves pumped up about something in the short term, but a life isn't a short term thing.  If you want to live a life that you truly live, that is abundant and filled with living - then you need consistent motivation, not a massive blast of short-term stuff.

And besides - you don't need massive, massive levels of motivation.  That's just weird.  You don't need this huge burning reason to do something.

And please just pay attention, just please, right here, right what I'm about to say next, because it's so huge if you can just see this tiny little shift.

You just need more of a reason to do it than not.

Once more in bold, in case you missed it.

You just need more of a reason to do it than not.

The bar is pretty low.

And as long as there's more of a reason to do it than not, and that state of affairs continues, you'll continue to be motivated to do it, indefinitely.

And as you continue to get involved and do what you can, what you can do gets bigger, because you get better at it, and then maybe one day, it gets done.

And that's it's really.  No great conflict, no massive fight.  No burning need, no heroic identity, nothing like that.  Just 1% more reason to do it than there is not to do it.

And so really, when you really break it all down, it just comes down to sitting down and just starting - really, just beginning - to see if there is something real that actually does need doing.

And it has to be real, because if it's not then as soon as you've stopped

Do you want to be rich?  Really?  Honestly?  I don't.  I'm not criticising you if you do, I just don't.  I want to be stable, be able to provide for a family, that's really it.  Have enough money to go out with friends, help out my kids.

But becoming this super-rich money guy?  It just seems so contrived to me.  Just like a little... hollow.  And don't get me wrong, I don't hate money, it's just... no matter how much I build up my ideas about being rich, convince myself I want to, believe I want to, tell other people I want to....

That motivation will not last, because all our ideas and beliefs are like shadows, and they always slide out.  And what that means is that I'll never be able to focus with real consistency over time on getting rich.

It's the 'over time' bit that matters the most, and that's what doing something different can help.

Look for something real that needs doing, something big that needs someone's help.  A genuine thing.  Something that is of serious import, but in real life, and to the whole world.  Not just to people.  ANd it doesn't have to look good, and it doesn't have to look bad.  Just to start thinking along the lines of real.

Just to begin, to begin to think - ok, well, what kinds of things genuinely do need doing?  What can be done?  And just to start thinking down those lines, I'm not here to feed you an answer.  Just start thinking of how to get real.  Not some little vanity project, but something of actual substance.

And start being a bit ruthless with yourself about this.  Because perhaps it's your life that you're cutting off at the knees if you don't.  Nobody else is going to have to live a shallow life, just you, so maybe it's something you might want to start making your problem.

And find something genuine that actually needs support.  Something like that.  Something where today, you just have 1% more reason to do it than not to do it - and tomorrow it will be the same.  And it will always be like that, until the thing has actually been resolved.

And then you get to experience life, not just consumption.  Not just chasing the next product, the next phone, the next tablet, whatever.  But you actually get to live - which is a rare thing, and few people do.

But can you see what I'm getting at?  Thinking down these lines, just to begin with, just tugging yourself in this direction a little.

And so you can actually start to do something that is legitimately inspiring - and continue to do it.  And not just inspiring in general, or inspiring to others, but inspiring to you as well.  Living life, living well, being alive.

The flow of things, action, life, developing skill, being outside of your comfort zone, getting scared, feeling alive.  It's not a lesser form of being to live a life that includes the experience of 'being exhilarated', or being scared, or even being defeated, or knocked back.

What makes these things so damaging is when your motivation IS the belief and the feeling and the ideology that you've blasted up to massive volume.  And then when you get knocked back, your heart breaks and your world falls apart.

It doesn't have to be that way.  And the only reason it ever gets that way anyway is that you're NOT doing something real that genuinely does sing to you.  If you were, you wouldn't need all this howling, screaming, bellowing motivation.

If you're doing something that actually does need doing, something real of real scale that genuinely matters, it's always going to be there.  Not as a massive weight of super-motivation.  Just as a little tug at the sleeve.

And sometimes you have days where you plunge right in, and sometimes you have days where you plod along, and sometimes you have days where you back right off.

But you never lose it, never lose the direction that you can get from taking the time to find out what really needs to happen, what the world really needs, what really needs to get done.

And that's when you do amazing things, because you take the time, the focused time to genuinely become amazing at things, and amazing things get done.

And it might be an idea to start thinking of things like this.  Just as an experiment, see if you can do this, see if you can find a way to start.

Ah, I don't if any of this makes any sense.  Probably not.

Much love.

Monday, 22 July 2013

Just Raise It


Well, Ciaran, you write a lot of stuff that sounds really good and everything - but how do I get it to stick with me?

This sometimes comes up.

Or....

How do I get it to stick with others?  Whenever I try convincing people to read this stuff, and I can't do it, and the more I try, the weirder I sound and the more awkward it gets!  What do I do?

This sometimes comes up too.

You ever find yourself asking stuff like this?

Well, here's the thing.

Start small.  Stop trying to jump right to the end, you'll miss the whole process, and it will never happen.

So forget trying to get it to stick, with yourself or others.  Just raise it.

Just raise the issue.  Just raise it.  Raise it with yourself.  Raise it with other people.

If it doesn't seem to make sense, just start to see if you can find ways to make sense of it for you.

If it doesn't seem to make sense to the person you're raising it with, just start to see if you can find ways to make it make sense to them.

If you can't - it's fine.  It doesn't matter... because you raised it.

You raised it.  That's huge.

You raise it with yourself, that puts it on your brain's 'watch-list'.  It tunes you in - even when you're not thinking about anything to do with any of this - to notice when the patterns happen.

You raise it with other people?  Well - that puts it on their watch-list.  That there are deep and real, and stunningly simple patterns that underlie all human action, and new ways to undercut the phenomena of human suffering, delusion, misery, pain - whatever - at source?  Right in the bones?  Right at the heart?

Who knows about this?  And of course people will probably scoff when they hear about it, I know I would.  But then later, at a loose end.... I might well check it out for myself, if only out of curiosity.

And maybe they won't - but you raised it.  It's in their field of view now - and that is huge.  That's something that wasn't there before, something they had no way of getting to, no way of even knowing about.

And of course they can reject it - but even that is a massive step forward - rejecting it is at least some kind of engagement with it.  And rejections can change - but if someone doesn't even know something's possible, it just won't be part of their life.

And just as you raise it - not worrying about the outcome of getting you to do this, or other people to do that - you just kind of tune yourself in to it, and keep it there.  And for others as well, wherever you mention it.

And the thing is - and this is the crazy thing, and the awesome thing as well - there is no 'second step' after that where you 'flip it around' and start convincing yourself, or convincing other people.

Just raise it.  And then after a while you start to see elements of this truth playing out.  And others you're raising it in front of might see some of it too.

And the thing is - over a long enough period of time, if it is raised into view - you will see what you're trying to see, and the change you're looking for will happen.  And with others as well - they will see what you see, because it's the truth, it's just true for everyone.  And so at no point do you need to twist people's arms or... worse... start beating yourself up or twisting your own.

Just raise it.  If it's true, you don't need to do anything else.  And if it's true, anything else is just going to make things messier anyway.

Honestly, just raise it.  And keep raising it.  Don't worry about the outcome, just raise it.

And keep raising it.

Just raise it.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Delayed Choice Quantum Fudge


Well, this is fun.  Got a comment from someone who raised a serious issue about the experiments I proposed in One Song for the Edinburgh Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics that I put together there.  Here's the comment, and my response....

"you are wrong on Delayed Quantum Eraser. "Eraser" stands for device that makes it impossible to discern which patch photon took and not deleting some file. "Delayed" is about distance and light patch and "choice" about photon choosing to go through one path or the other, and not choice any conciseness make. Those effects show something about effects that happens on polarizers and beam splitters and are not about consciousness or viewing anything at all

and what is the real point of all of this quantum stuff anyway? is that really that important where mind is projected? we all see it is projected somewhere and it hurts and that is what matters. How to stop this suffering, that matters!

One Song is otherwise great and I thank you for it as it opened my otherwise closed eyes. But seriously: leave quantum stuff out of it. Never even mention it in the same article, book or YT video. It just scares people off and that is bad because rest is very good"

XXXXXX

Thank you so much.

When I say the file is deleted this is how I understood what was being done with that device that makes it impossible to discern the photon path.  This is just my understanding.

The point of that device is not that it shuts down the measurement - as I understand it - but that it renders the results of measurement (of the photon's path) permanently inaccessible.  To shut down measurement, you just need to turn the detector off, or just not have one in the first place.  My understanding of what DCQE does is have the measurement, but render the results permanently inaccessible.  And again - I may well be wrong in this, it's highly technical - but my understanding of how it does this is that it deletes the information permanently.

I phrased it by saying 'it deletes the file' because I figure that if the detector is storing information electronically, then we're talking about a file, or something very much like a file.  That is - straight up - just an assumption I made, if this is wrong (and absolutely it could be, 1000%) please, God, say.  Am I fudging this too much (I almost certainly am) - or worse - is it doing something totally different?

The issue of the delay.  Yeah, this is clearly very important.  I think the flaw you raise in my understanding arose from the human-scale interpretation of the collapse, whereas it should (of course) have been totally focused on the Quantum scale.

I'll read up more about this, but could you go into a little more detail?  You say it's 'about distance and light patch'.  It would help a lot if you could open this up a little further - what exactly seems to be being delayed by what, and how?

Now look - everything I know of QM I have had to teach myself in a total vacuum.  I would honestly be amazed if there weren't problems with my understanding of the technicalities - it's an extremely technical subject.

Because of that, I really appreciate any help, critique or input of any kind about this.  And you should see my browser - I've got 12 tabs open right now, and 2 books on download, about the Delayed Choice Quantum Eraser (DCQE) experiment, so I can get some real finesse on exactly how the DCQE works technically.

As such, I'll take the QM section out of One Song.  There you go, are you happy?  ARE YOU HAPPY NOW?

*runs off crying*

It'll take me a few days to do it - it's not just a case of "select all/cut" - I need to put something in that weaves the first part into the last, which is what that section did, so give me few days on this before the hate mail commences.

There's a couple of other things - when you say

""Delayed" is about distance and light patch"

Do you mean path?  Or patch?  Are you talking about the path of the photon, or the patch (or patches) of light the interference pattern makes or doesn't make on the phosphorescent screen behind the slit?

The second thing is this.  You say that:

"the "choice" in the DCQE is about the photon choosing to go through one path or the other, and not a choice any consciousness makes."

Ok, I'm becoming more and more convinced that I need to do a dedicated QM piece, because a lot of people do seem to think I'm saying something like this.

I'm really not.  I promise, I tried to be very explicit about that, but clearly I'm not being explicit enough.

I'm not saying that consciousness is making a choice, or doing anything at all.

Now, I'm going to go 'capital letters' here - not shouting at you, but I really want what I'm about to say to be clearly seen.

I am DENYING THE EXISTENCE OF CONSCIOUSNESS.

Stay with that for a second.  Yeah?  Is this clear?  This is the centre of the Edinburgh Interpretation.

There is no observer effect.  There is no consciousness causing collapse of probability.  This is not what is happening.

Do you understand?  And the reason is that there is no observer, and there is no consciousness.

There is no observation, anywhere, at all.  What I am saying is that observation, quite simply, does not exist.  Ever.  In real life.

Is this clear?

I'm not asking you to agree with it - that would be silly - but can you see what I'm saying here?  Before we go on, is this clear?

Consciousness has no effect on the photon because there is no consciousness.  No human consciousness, no animal consciousness, no consciousness anywhere, ever, at all.

Ever, anywhere, in any way.

This is the centre of the new interpretation.

There is no consciousness to collapse the waveform, no consciousness to interfere, no consciousness to do anything, or choose anything, or collapse anything.

There is ONLY the collapse, which we CALL consciousness, because it is the place in which all things occur, including our experience of life.

What we are looking at is OCCURRENCE, not consciousness.  That is all, that is all that is happening, and from this perspective you can make sense of every strangeness of the Quantum world.

How?  Because all of a sudden the question of what is causing the apparent collapse of probability doesn't arise.  Probability collapses into utter coherence - that's what probability does, because that's how time works.  And it is how we experience time - and then all of a sudden you have a direct, immediate, fundamental aspect of human experience which dovetails perfectly with the Quantum predictions.

So you're able to unite the division between the subatomic and the large-scale.

On top of this, the Edinburgh Interpretation also makes perfect sense of the 'God does not play dice' problem of QM.  The way probability collapses into the real must be coherent with the rest of the real - and so probability collapse is in fact not random - although it may appear to be if such collapses are taken in isolation.  All probability falls perfectly into place in coherence with what has already fallen into place - this is the fundamental nature of being, of time.

This is what the Edinburgh Interpretation claims.

And other things as well - like, say, the 'signal problem' of entanglement.  How does one particle 'know' that another has collapsed in a certain way, so it can collapse in a corresponding way?

In the Edinburgh Interpretation there is no signal problem, because there is no signal.  The secondary particle does not collapse when the first one does.  What instead happens is that the collapse of the first particle into reality means that any particle that is synchronised with it must collapse - whenever it does, even if it's centuries from the collapse of the first - in a way that is coherent with it.

And so it seems as if they're communicating, whenever you test it, because whenever you look, the second particle does correspond with the first.  But that's not what's happening.  What's happening is that reality is being set by the collapse of the first particle, and the second, if and when it ever does collapse, cannot do so in any other way without violating the coherence of the real.

Think of the explanatory power of this perspective.  And also... think how specific these predictions are.  I'm not a technically trained physicist, and so yes - I absolutely will struggle to put experiments together that will flawlessly satisfy someone who is.  But this conjecture is obviously clear enough that it can make predictions of experiment.

And if that doesn't matter, if that's an irrelevance, if that's just a little philosophical nicety that doesn't really matter, should we start, perhaps - just perhaps - to ask ourselves if that is a healthy attitude for science to take?

It takes years to put together a conjecture of this clarity.  Or at least, it took me years.  And is it inappropriate to start thinking how to begin a conversation about the immediate rejection of such things?  Or of them being sidelined as "not that important?"  Is it fair of me to ask this?

I don't have all the answers, but I think we should start asking these kinds of questions.  Asking them of science.  Because it's not heresy to ask these questions, unless science has become nothing more than a set of unquestioned dogmas, and hierarchical titles.  I don't think it has - I really don't.  But we should always take the opportunity to be vigilant about this kind of thing, and ask these questions.

Now you say "what is the point of all this Quantum stuff anyway?"

I could answer what's the point of physics anyway?  What's the point of science?

Yes, resolving suffering is a far bigger deal as far as actual day-to-day human life is concerned.  But there's much more to life, and to the world, than just not suffering.

And on top of that, the implications of this hypothesis are not irrelevant to the experience of life, because it describes the experience of time, in which everything occurs.

There's other things, like the incredible elegance and beauty of the real, and this is a very elegant perspective from which to make sense of all the Quantum weirdness.

From this - and the new understanding of time that it puts forward - would it be possible to unite Quantum Mechanics and relativity?

Maybe, no.  But maybe yes.

And how?  Because of time, because it allows the QM equations to be understood as being fundamentally concerned with TIME.  And using that to connect the idea of spacetime from relativity?

I'd love to do something in this area, but as far as things stand, I know I would have to do it alone, and make it PERFECT.  Because if it's not perfect, then what do you think people will focus on?  The breakthroughs, or the imperfections?

And if it is the imperfections, is it fair that we take a step back from that, and ask ourselves why?  And not just why - but whether or not we should raise awareness of this, not of this theory, but of the incredibly hostile environment in which all theories and speculations must occur?

Take The Master And His Emissary by Iain McGilchrist.  That is a work that took 20 years to put together, and it shows.  Every single part is backed up like a phalanx, like only 20 years worth of research can do.  And it has to be, because if he just released the theory 20 years ago, he would have been butchered.  Is this healthy for science?

He raises the issue there - from his point of view (in Neuroscience) he says that his discipline has become focused on the amassing of data, and has - in his words, this man is a career neuroscientist - "largely abandoned any attempt to make sense of that data, once amassed, in a wider context."

Is this healthy?  Is it heresy to ask if the pure amassing of data can even really be described as science?  Should it be so controversial a thing to say?  Should it?

And yes of course, research is critical, robust criticism is critical.  But do we gauge how robust criticism is by how angry it is, how viciously it seizes on mistakes and leaps to ridicule?  Leaps to dismiss wholesale anything that is not immediately flawless?

Is this conducive to daring speculation?

These are just questions, but questions we might want to think about raising more than they are being raised right now.

Is this something that people talk about enough?  That people raise enough as an issue that is blocking the progress of science?  Is it?

And if the answer is anything less than "absolutely no, it is paramount that we respect, cherish and cultivate serious, daring and specific speculation" we might perhaps start asking some searching questions about why that is - and how we can change it.

I don't have all the answers, but I hope you can understand how it can seem very much like the culture in which we live is viciously hostile to speculation, no matter how detailed, or how clear.  And I hope you don't think I'm overstating the case when I say that this hurts science.  I think it does.  I really do.

This environment did not appear out of the ether.  This is human beings doing this, you, me, all of us.  And just as we're part of the environment, we can be part of changing the environment.  Even just to start thinking about this is a huge step forward, and even raising it with people is another huge step.

And there's another question we might want to ask ourselves - sure, yes, my theory might be total bunk.  But if we dismiss working on radical speculative theories in general, how is science ever to advance?

And again, I'm not putting these questions here to preach at you, because I don't have all the answers.  But maybe if we all start asking ourselves more questions like this, things might get a little less fraught than they are, because they don't need to be fraught.  I get attacked all the time for what I do with science by people who love science - I love science, I am one of those people.  And really, I'm big enough and ugly enough to take a few knocks - but when knocks are all that happens when scientific speculation is advanced, is there a bigger issue here than my hurt feelings?

I remember the first guy to point out the mistake I originally made in One Song, which was that I conflated the Copenhagen Interpretation and Von Neumann.  He was fuming.  Furious.  Absolutely irate, as if I'd physically punched him.  And then when I said - "Oh my God, yes, you're right - I've checked it out, and edited the piece, and put in these new bits - is this correct?", he was completely taken aback.

It seems like he was expecting nothing of me but just to throw it back in his face, and when I didn't, he was very apologetic, and didn't really know what to make of the situation.

Should rage be the response to an error like this?  I'm not the all-seeing eye, and I have no formal training in physics - is this a healthy response?  Is this a healthy culture to be part of, to perpetuate?  To leave unchallenged?

Is it truly so crazy to suggest we should start asking questions like this more than we do?  And perhaps start thinking of ways that we can put this to people, start thinking of ways that we can start opening things up a little?

Science isn't cynicism.  It's speculation and experiment.  Speculation is a critical part of it.  Critical.  And not just speculation, but daring speculation, clear speculation, refined speculation that is amenable to testing.

And at the absolute pinnacle of speculative excellence, you have a speculation that initiates a completely new paradigm of understanding.  That is the tip of this mountain, it is the absolute zenith of what speculation can be.  Relativity was such a speculation - and it still IS a speculation.  So was evolution.  So was Newton's laws of motion, or the work of Copernicus.

Speculation IS science - speculation leashed.  Leashed to experiment - not to cynicism.

Are we truly giving it the time it deserves?  The consideration?  Are we as people who love and respect science making a fertile environment for speculation, or a hostile one?

These are the questions we need to put to ourselves, and maybe start thinking how to put them to others as well.  Not to enforce a new ideology, or anything like that, just to raise the issue into view.  Just that alone would be huge.

To think about these things as a matter of some urgency, and as a counter to the reflex cynicism that shuts down the daring speculation - to use Einstein's words - that is necessary to advance our understanding of the world.

Now look - I'll tell you one way you could do something that would make a serious, serious difference.  Please give me your email.  My email is in the sidebar, just drop me an email, and leave it at that.

The more I read about the DCQE, the more I feel it is key to building a set of clear predictions directly from the Edinburgh Interpretation.  I am so thirsty for serious technical criticism - but I need clarity.  And now you've raised this issue about DCQE, I need to go back, do some more research... but I'll come up with something, and that may be wrong too.

But if can get clear criticism of it - even just a few lines - that would make my work 1000000% more straightforward.

And before you say - well, any physicist could do that - the blunt fact is that, and I wish this weren't true - in my experience I have found it very difficult to find one who will.  If you would be that one, that would be amazing.

But enough of this.  I'll cut the QM section from One Song, because an experiment is a technical thing, and if what I've suggested is based on a misunderstanding then it needs to change.

But I won't abandon the Edinburgh Interpretation.  It needs work - of course it does - and if it's at all possible, maybe a little bit of help.  I'll do all the heavy lifting, if you could just be there to read what I suggest and critique it - especially my work on the DCQE and any experiments I suggest, that would be amazing.

Is this cool?

Friday, 19 July 2013

You May Not Have Noticed....

But I'm doing something of a root-and-branch redesign of the site.  I thought I could do it quickly, but it turns out, amazingly, that computers hate me.

All the content's here, just a little facelift to make things a little less intense, I thought that would probably be a nice move for everyone.

Bear with me....

Thursday, 18 July 2013

Under Siege


Ok, this is a response to a subscriber's comment on One Song, which is the signature piece to this blog.

It's a piece that I spent 15 months researching, just that one piece alone, and is in many ways the coming together of many years of work.  It fuses a new, cutting edge breakthrough in neuroscience with a new interpretation of Quantum Mechanics, which itself took me many years to piece together.

Here's the comment:

Ciaran,

Have you considered excising the section on Quantum Mechanics into it's own thing separate from One Song? Without testing to back it up I feel it weakens the piece as a whole. At least that's what many seem to choke on when reading this for the first time.

"Deepak Chopra shit" is a phrase I've seen more than once.


XXXX

Ok, look.

I think that doing a special piece on Quantum Mechanics would be a great thing.  I've got a lot more on it, including some new potential experiments complete with clear predictions.

It's on the list, and I'm sure I'll get to it at some point.  The big reason I'm not rushing to it is that what I think I need right now is a trained physicist to work with.  I've taken the Edinburgh Interpretation so far I think that it's pretty clear there may be something to it, and if there is, it's easy enough to test for.

When that happens, great.  As for now?  I just don't think there's an audience for it, I don't think anyone particularly cares that much.

The Deepak Chopra thing however is a much bigger issue.  I run into it all the time - but not so far from trained physicists.  I've run this piece past a few physicists, including a friend of mine who is doing his PhD in a University here in Edinburgh.  What he said after reading One Song was - literally, these are his words - "This is nothing like Deepak Chopra", and he was very surprised that people would make that connection.  Initially, when I mentioned that people do make that connection, he didn't immediately believe me.

But they do.  They make it all the time.  And this is because what Deepak Chopra has done (and not just him, although he's the one who's made his name with this stuff) is to basically cobble ideas from Quantum Mechanics onto a very conventional Indian Mysticism framework.

I honestly don't know if he realises how damaging this is.  Just the title of a book called "Quantum Healing" is like, to anyone with a genuine respect for and interest in science, a red-hot needle to the eye.

It's strange, because what he's actually talking about are things like unity, peace, and coming together.  But his work is profoundly divisive.  I don't know if he intends it that way, I'd be surprised if he did - but it is as divisive as divisive gets.  Under the guise of bringing together Eastern philosophy and Western science, he has instead massively alienated vast numbers of people.  People who are involved in science, yes - but also the millions of people who respect it, and don't feel it should be used cheaply.

For anyone who respects the science, this is going to really rile them up, and this is why I feel his work is profoundly counterproductive.

All it does is build a siege mentality in the people who respect science to any kind of work that links the insights coming from the Quantum experiments with human life.

And worse still - it makes them feel that anyone who has any respect for Eastern thought is not to be trusted and must be opposed.

Quantum Mechanics, in physics, has quite a strong parallel to evolutionary theory in biology, in this sense.  In both cases, ideological, mystical theories abound, especially on the internet.

With Biology, magical, woolly thinking forms around evolutionary theory, and we call it Creationism.  This creates a kind of siege mentality among many people who do care about evolutionary science, and what science is, and anyone raising new ideas about evolution does often have to deal with huge amounts of flak because of this.

I wrote a piece a long time ago about a new process that accounts for non-linear evolutionary change, within what's called a fully microevolutionary framework.  This means that it accounts, fully, for the long-term stability of certain species, and the rapid changes undergone by others.  An organism that remains static for millions of years while it's habitat changes around it is a serious problem for classical evolutionary theory - and one that Creationists have been quick to seize upon.

I've found a potential solution for it - but can't get a biologist to look at the solution, let alone test it, because they seem (honestly, this is what it looks like from outside) so intent on defending evolutionary theory that they flinch at the idea of improving it.

Again, I'm not trying to pick a fight here.  And believe me, I understand - but that is what my experience has been.

And this isn't because they're bad people - but because there is a pervading sense of "reason under siege" - and the killer irony is that in this siege mentality, as in any siege mentality, reason is the first thing out the window.

The evolution piece I did may be wrong - but it is very clear.  It makes clear predictions of the fossil record - basically, if it's true there will be a certain pattern to all evolutionary change that can be statistically mapped.

And it's even better than that - it's not even a case of having to statistically map it (the fossil record's pretty sketchy in places).  To disprove my evolutionary theory (which I have given the catchy title of 'mutative feedback') all you need to do is find a single fossil, anywhere, in all of history, that falls outside that pattern.

That is extremely falsifiable, extremely easy to disprove.

And if it's right - pay attention here - if it's right, and any biologist or paleontologist takes a look and does some research for it, it will make their career, for life.

Honestly.  But again - pay attention - this isn't to say "kneel before Zod, this theory is amazing."

It's to say this if it is right, it is seismic.  And if it's not right, it will be very easy to disprove that.  Very easy. Literally, a trained paleontologist could probably disprove it in a day.

Here's a link to the evolution piece if anyone's interested - and if there are any biologists or paleontologists interested in taking a look, please take a look, tell me what you think, and if you're interested in working with me on a paper, I will make time for that as a matter of some urgency.

Now, just as there is a state of intellectual siege around evolution in biology, there is also a state of intellectual siege around Quantum Mechanics in physics.

It's slightly different because Creationists often just flat-out deny evolution, whereas Quantum Mechanics isn't so much denied as 'co-opted' into a syncretic hodge-podge of self-help and new-age thought.

But the effect is the same - the corruption of science.

And so because of this, people are on high alert, very high alert about anything to do with Quantum Mechanics that isn't written in equations and sanctioned by Harvard.

But the problem is that - as I see it - the main issues of Quantum Mechanics are philosophical, not mathematical.  Make sense of the reality of things, and the equations will follow.  Start trying to stitch together all the equations, and all you get is a godless mess of numbers that is so complex it can never be tested, and so is not scientific.  And that, basically, is string theory.

Now the failings of string theory is something we're not going to get into here - others have done massively, massively better work.  The luminary physicist Wolfgang Pauli had a brilliant saying about it that cuts right to the heart of problem - he said it was "not even wrong".

Just a mass of numbers, all just swimming around looking very elegant and pretty, attracting a lot of funding and producing a lot of PhDs.

This is not science.  It is daydreaming on a calculator.

So let's come back to One Song, and take a look at the conjecture I've put together there.

If we say that because certain authors have ignored the spirit of science, and strip-mined Quantum theory for marketing buzzwords to adorn their very conventional new age/self help schtick, then what are we to do in response?

Are we to say - well, let's just cede Quantum mechanics.  Let's just ignore the insights coming from those experiments because someone's being a charlatan.

And then shall we go on to write nasty websites about them?  To attack them?  To mock them?  To tell them to shut up?

Is that what we want?  To silence them?  Is that the best we can hope for?

There's a piece of American wisdom that I keep coming back to.

In freedom of speech, is silencing people the answer to bad speech?

No.  It's good speech.  Good speech is the answer to bad speech.

It's for someone to actually take up the challenge that the new age gurus never took up, and genuinely fuse insights from science, humanity, and all traditions of philosophy, not just Indian, into one coherent, smooth whole that can genuinely be tested?

That opens up a totally new paradigm for understanding Quantum Mechanics?

That opens up a totally new paradigm for understanding what the brain is fundamentally doing?

That opens up a totally new paradigm for understanding humanity itself?  And reality itself?

I mean, can you see what I'm getting at?  If someone wants to judge my work on the work of pseudo-scientific authors who's work I do not reference, do not respect, do not follow, and have no control over?

That's on them.  And I don't blame them for being jumpy around the issue, there's a lot of very sloppy work out there.

But to go from that to say that all philosophy that uses the insights into reality coming from the Quantum experiments to shed new light on what is going on with reality, life, human beings - to say that all this is automatically sloppy?

That's a stunning victory for the charlatans, and our skepticism has turned into cynicism, and lost the integrity and thirst for truth that made it a worthwhile thing in the first place.

It's a hard thing to say, but it is.  And it might seem incomprehensible to many that I would take this attitude - but I'm not here to apologise for someone else's mistakes.  I make enough of my own, apologising for them takes up enough of my time already.

Lots of very interesting work has been done on Quantum Mechanics - but nobody has ever proposed any interpretation of these experiments that

A) Makes perfect, non-contradictory sense of the Schrodinger's Cat problem (this is the main issue with Copenhagen).

B) Doesn't resort to any metaphysical element of any kind (this is the main problem with the Von Neumann interpretation).

C) Makes clear, testable predictions of all possible Quantum Experiments (this is the main problem with the 'Multiple Worlds' interpretation, which is genuinely untestable).

The Edinburgh Interpretation does all three.  Makes sense of the cat, no metaphysics, testable.

Now just a word about testing.  Someone might say "well, this doesn't have testing to back it up" - but that misses the point.  In fact, it misses the point of what science fundamentally is.

Science is conjecture, it is speculation.  It's not logic, it's not a chain of reasoning.  It's conjecture, all of it, the whole thing.  Every piece of science, every theory, every equation, everything.  Absolutely everything.

What makes science different from just normal conjecture is another element, which is testing.

But pay attention here, because it is vanishingly rare that people actually understand how testing works in science.

It's not a case of testing to prove the theory.  You can never prove a theory.  Ever.  That's not what theories are, that's not how theories work.  No theory, ever, can ever be proven.  I remember reading a book by Stephen Hawking where he makes this point - it's the building of models (which is a kind of speculation) that...

...and pay attention....

Don't get disproved no matter how much you test.

Do you understand?

This is the difference, and it eludes almost everyone, and that's why very few people truly understand what science really is.

It's not proving things through test.

It's speculating, and attempting to disprove that speculation through test.

And that means that the best speculations, the most scientific, are not the ones with the most equations, or that look the cleverest.

They're the ones that are easy to disprove.  The ones that make striking and clear predictions of what will happen in an experiment, or in a series of experiments.

Now, as far as that goes, I think the Quantum Mechanics section here is fine.  It's a clear speculation - like all scientific hypotheses - that makes very clear, extremely ambitious, highly risky and easily testable predictions of all possible Quantum experiments.

You tell me if Deepak Chopra has anything like that in his box of tricks.

Now look - I am happy, delighted and frankly, hungry, for genuine criticism from physicists who specialise in this area.  So far I've got a huge amount of criticism for the physics section of this piece - but nothing of any substance from ANYONE who specialises in physics.

None.  I've had physicists point out incidental issues where I didn't describe the Copenhagen interpretation with enough clarity.  It was quite a serious sourcing issue - I didn't have sufficient distinction between the Von Neumann and Copenhagen interpretations.  I resolved this immediately.  It's fine now.

But nothing, literally no problem, nothing in any way systemic, has ever been raised about the core idea, the actual Edinburgh Interpretation.

Now this isn't even to say that there aren't problems.  There may well be.

But I honestly haven't heard any yet, and try as I might (and I've tried very hard for a while now) I can't find any.  Literally none.

Now, finally - why is it here?  Why is it in this place?  Why not just sever it from the Neuroscience part if it's causing such a ruckus?

Well, because One Song isn't just about the illusion of self.  It's about reality as well.  Illusion and reality.  The two aspects - not just one.

The contour of the illusion is the first part.

The contour of reality is the second.

The way to resolve the agony and delusion of the human condition itself by bringing these elements together with a new clarity on the core mechanics of their relationship?

That's the third part.  You can't have the third part if you remove either one of the previous two.

Well, - ha!  I could... but then without explaining the reality of the united nature of being and occurrence, I'd have to talk... get this, this is funny - in metaphysical terms about the undivided nature of reality...

And then I actually would be committing the same errors that the new age thinkers are.

Between not offending people who aren't engaging with what's being said anyway because they're busy fighting a battle that I'm not involved in, or actually making the mistakes they're accusing me of, I'll let those who wish to take offence, take offence.  Perhaps one day they'll relax, and come back to it.  Probably not, but that's the best I can hope for, and the limit of what I can do.

It is a sad thing that I even need to write this.  I wish that it weren't necessary, but it is.

I hope that it goes at least some way toward getting at least some people to consider what I'm saying based on its own merits.

As I've said elsewhere, and I'll say all over again - if anyone reading this actually is a physicist who has training in Quantum Mechanics, hit me up.  Send me an email.  Don't just write something in a blog comment, give me a way to get back to you.

If anyone knows someone who is a physicist, get their opinion on One Song.  Actually put it in front of them, let them have a say.  And if there is some major problem with it, wonderful, let's find out what it is, find out how it's a problem, and leverage that to get deeper, and closer to the truth.

If this is wrong - this interpretation - then at least it might be interestingly wrong, and shed some new light on things.

But if it's right, this is a game-changer.  Honest to God.  If I've got this right, anyone working with me, as a physicist, to clarify this, set it up and publish a paper about it, would make their career, for life.

If it's right.  That's all I'm saying - if it's right.  And I think it is, and if it's not right, it's very easy to disprove.

And even then, it might not be worthless.  Because if it does get disproven, then we'll be able to see how it gets disproven, and see something new.

My door is so open to offers of collaboration that it is literally off the hinges and lying on the floor.

I don't know what else to say, but I hope this clears things up a little.

Thanks for the comment, and I hope I haven't bored you too much.

I hope you like the photoshop job I did at the top though.  Took me far longer than it should have.

Totally worth it.

Much love.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

A Chunk Of Caring


It's really simple, but very strange.

Imagine this - you get a chunk of caring.  Like, just caring, the distilled, purified thing in itself.  Just hypothetically.

I mean caring.  Just normal compassion, caring.  Love, if you want to get squiffy about it.

Now let's just say we've got this chunk, about the size of a car or something.  A big chunk.  But it's real..  Real caring, real compassion.

Now let's say we get a magic marker.  And we draw a simple face on it.  Like a smiley face.

So it's caring, with a smiley face.

It seems to fit, right?  Smiley face, caring, love.  It makes sense.  It makes sense why it would be happy - it's caring.  And you might think that's why it's smiling - but it's not.  It's smiling because you scribbled on it with magic marker.  The caring itself hasn't changed at all.

Then say we rub out that face, and draw a different one.  A frowning face.

So it's love, but frowning.  And it fits - because caring can get angry and frustrated.  In fact, only caring can get angry and frustrated.  Only if you care about something can you ever be upset.

It makes sense.  It makes sense why it would be frustrated - it's caring.  And you might think that's why it's frowning - but it's not.  It's frowning because you scribbled on it with magic marker.  The caring itself hasn't changed at all.

And then you wipe off the face and get your magic marker, and you draw another face.  This one has raised eyebrows and looks surprised.

And of course you have to care about something to be surprised, because you can only be shocked and moved if you care about what's going on.   And so, you know.

It makes sense.  It makes sense why it would be surprised - it's caring.  And you might think that's why it looks surprised - but it's not.  It looks surprised because you scribbled on it with magic marker.  The caring itself hasn't changed at all.

Anxious.  Lonely.  Angry.  Bitter.  Happy.  Joyful.

Mix and match.  Just switch them out for the face, on the chunk of caring, and that's basically what humans are.  What you are, and I am.  We're the face, scribbled on the surface of the chunk.

What does the scribbling is the brain.  That 'chunk' of 'caring' is the actual moment of being that is happening.
And this is basically what's happening with people.

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Someone Else's Demon


We're all someone else's demon.

And the fact is that we can see the faults and failings of others with far greater accuracy than we care to see our own.

All these delusions that people live inside, that you can see through very clearly - I'm sure there are many.

But then, what does it feel like to live inside a delusion?  It just feels like believing in something, believing in this, believing in that.

We can't fight delusion in other people.  We don't have access.  We only have access to ourselves, and so to make a world less deluded, it means starting with us.

And that doesn't mean congratulating yourselves on all the delusions you're not stuck in.  Who cares about them?  They're someone else's problem - you have something closer to home to worry about.

Question the things you DO agree with.  The things you DO believe.  Those are the ONLY things worth questioning.  Everything else is masturbation, plain and simple.

The things you do agree with.  Those are the things you need to question.  And if they're true, it won't make them any less true.  And if they're not, then it doesn't matter.

But what will probably happen is this.  That you do have some aspect of the truth - but, like all of us, it has become extreme, and is narrow and blinkered.

Challenging what you yourself agree with - what you love to believe, what you truly agree with - is the way forward.  And it rarely means that you never come back to the things you believe now.

But when you come back to them, they're as part of a much clearer and more nuanced picture.  Not so shrill, but kinder and stronger, more able to unite than to divide... and more true.

Monday, 15 July 2013

A Spirit Level


We're just meat, projecting pictures of people.

And our picture has to something everyone likes - but also something different, something distinct, so everyone can know it's us.

So we juggle with conformity.  We like to fit in, but not too much.  Stand out, but not too much.

And we just bounce off each other.  Humanity is humanity's habitat, and it's like an echo box.

And so a little division can become a big division - if people just sort of shrug along to it.  It's a division, you can look distinct with that, so why not go for it?

And this is why wars start, and people hate each other.  There's nothing deeper than this happening.

We don't need to live like this, although humans always have.  There is another way.

Instead of taking the opinions of others, and the echo box of our society as the spirit-level by which we gauge the ground beneath our feet, why not reality?

Why not?


Saturday, 13 July 2013

The Fire Of Self



It's a strange thing that so many people work so hard to help themselves and only succeed in making themselves miserable.

And whenever we find something strange, we should be aware.  A bell should ring, sound a little alarm.

Here... dig here.

Or even just... notice.  Pay attention to this.  Strangeness is nature's way of bookmarking something very specific, and it's this - that something, somewhere, really basic, really fundamental to our entire way of looking at the world... is wrong.

Reality doesn't do strange - not on its own terms.  We find strange creatures, strange fish, strange weather phenomena, that sort of thing.  But in and of themselves, they're fully coherent things, because they are real, and reality is fully coherent.

And it is, it really is.  And so when we find a strangeness, some little contradiction, no matter how prosaic or cliched it may be, hear the bell.  Notice, pay attention.  It must make sense somehow.  Reality doesn't do contradiction.

And so we have all the people (us included, remember, we have to implicate ourselves or we're not being honest) working so hard to help themselves, and only succeeding in making themselves miserable.

And it's stranger still because we find that the harder they try (we try) the worse things get.  For some reason.

But there is a reason, there is always a reason.  And the reason for this is simple.  If you place yourself at the centre of your world it is as if you tie the fuel supply of a fire to that fire's own size.

If the fire flickers high, the fuel rages forth, and it burns higher still, and more fuel comes, and more flame, and more fuel into a great conflagration.  And for a very short time, you shine like the sun.  But it will always burn out, and rapidly.

If the fire flickers low, the fuel slows, and it flickers lower still, and less fuel comes and less flame, and the fire withers into sputtering and ignominious extinction.

This is human life.  When, through asking no questions and forming a shell of iron belief around your life you can narrow your experience of living enough to keep that flame steady, you can get by.  We're barely living, but at least there's some semblance of stability - as long as life doesn't blow a strong wind, of course... and in the end, it always does.

When the flame burns low, and sputters and dies, and the darkness comes, a terrible place with no hope, wracked with fears and self-loathing we writhe in it, desperate to believe anything, sign our names on any dotted line, fill our veins with drink or drugs from a doctor or a dealer, anything to numb us to the brutal cold.

When the flame burns high and explodes into brightness, we do too, and in that moment the most terrible cruelty of all comes - the feeling that this time, just this time, this time... this will last, and the darkness won't come again.

But it does, it always does, because this is what humans are.  We gauge our lives by ourselves, and we make ourselves slaves of this feedback.  It doesn't matter what we do, what the answer is this time, or how much of our integrity or hope we surrender under the icy blades of the torturing dark.

It is not a great evil that does this to us.  It is not some terrible fate encoded in defective DNA.  It is what happens to a human when they place themselves at the centre of their world.

Just that, just that tiny thing.  Nothing more than that, a tiny little shimmy, a little subtle thing, a butterfly's wingbeat, and the hurricane comes.

You do not need to change yourself, or your life, or your personality, or believe ANYTHING to stop this.  It is such a tiny, tiny change that is necessary, so small.  A tiny change, a tiny shift, and all of a sudden you've closed the gates of hell and after a very short time, you wonder why you were ever there at all, and a short time after that, you wonder if you were there at all, and a short time after that, you barely give it a second thought.

We have lost the way but we can find it.  We are not doomed to this.  We can be free.

We can.

Friday, 12 July 2013

Remake The World


You just need to let go of the pain, of the suffering.  Let it go, that's what they say.  Let go of your worries, let go of anxiety.  Let go of loneliness, and friendship will just happen, let go of the bad, just let go of the bad.

How much money is poured into this?  Funding on top of funding, books, seminars, DVDs - just let go of the bad stuff, that's what they say, and we buy into it because it makes sense to us.  It makes sense in our heads that if we can just let go of the bad stuff, things will get better.

So just let go of the bad stuff.

Except it doesn't work, does it?  Let's be honest.  Let's look at this clearly - it doesn't work.  It doesn't ever work.  It might make you feel a bit better for a while, but then you could just as easily chalk that down to the false hope that this time, with this new technique, this new amazing idea, this fancy new way, this spiritual teaching, this rational reason - whatever - it will work, and you won't have to live like this anymore.

That hope is a powerful thing, and a bitter thing too.  Because it never works.  Ever.  For anyone.

And of course, if things are going well, just in general, we can backward rationalise how we got there in ways that make rational sense, and go "well, I let go of the bad stuff" - but that's not what we did.  That's not how joy works.

The blunt fact is that telling ourselves to let go of bad stuff is a ridiculous thing anyway.  It's like telling someone to let go of the burning coal they're holding in their hand.

If letting go was an option, we wouldn't be holding onto it in the first place.

The problem isn't that we grasp on to the bad stuff.  The problem is that we grasp on to the good stuff.

Love, happiness, peace, success, creativity.  We grasp onto that, because we want to.  And we never let go, we never, never let go.  Never let go of love, never let go of peace, never let go of success, never let go of the good stuff.

But can we hold on to the good stuff?  Nope.  Never.  Never, ever.  Not once, not for anyone.  It never works.

And yet we persist.  Hold onto the good, we say, although it never, never works.  Let go of the bad, we say, although we never, never can.

We tell people to do this, and think we're giving them good advice.  We support and popularise the people who say these things, and feel like we're doing the world a favour.

But it never works.  It never works.

And the reason it doesn't work is that we've got it upside-down.  You can't let go of the bad stuff - if you could you wouldn't be holding onto it.

But you can let go of the good stuff.  Let go of love, let go of friendship, let go of hope, let go of joy.

Let it go.  Let the good stuff go.

If it's real, you don't need to hold onto it for it to stay.

You have to have faith in reality.  Faith that the good things that are real won't vanish like morning dew under the noonday sun.

But we have lost the way, and have no faith in reality.  We have faith only in ourselves, little petty fictions we.  Faith only in our little beliefs, our little postures.  And it doesn't matter that they never, ever work.  What matters is that we can fool ourselves for another day.

We don't have to live like this.  Spread the news of this, tell people.  There is a different way, something that breaks the mold, something unseen but simple, elegant, and powerful like you've never read about, and I could never find the words to describe.

Let go of joy.  Let go of peace.  Let go of love.  Have faith that they are real and they will not vanish, and if they do vanish and are not real, then they were worth nothing anyway.

Let go of the good stuff and the bad stuff cannot keep you holding onto it by pretending to be good.

By saying "If only you could to the root of this anxiety you'd be so happy" or "if only you could get to the bottom of this despair, you'd be free."

Sound familiar?

If you can let go of the good, the bad cannot pretend it is a path to good.

If you cannot let go of the good, the bad will always play this game, every time, and win, every time.

It makes of us these terrible, grasping, craving animals, fouling up our lives and the world in which we live them.

The revolution starts with us, personally us.  There is another way.

A new humanity.  A new kind of humanity.  A new human future.

Spread this.  Support this.  No human misery and damage is random, and none of it is necessary.  We are at a depth now where we can change this, in ourselves and our world, forever.

We can remake this world, if we have the daring.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

It Just Has To Be


Love me.  Love me.  Love me.

The things we would do for that.  The horrors we would ignore, the lives we would destroy, just to look, just for now, like we've got it all together, live we're in control.

The greatest fear of the human condition is not death, and it is not torture or destitution.  It is not war, it is not the loss of our family or friends.

It is the fear that we do not look good, right now.

And most of us know by now that this whole world we have built is singularly ill suited for humanity.  We choke the skies with ash and fill the seas with toxic sludge while heaving billions live and die in harrowing poverty.  And for what?

For what?  Honestly, for what?

For a society designed around just one single thing.  That one fear.  That one fear that now, right now, we don't look good.  And credit where credit's due - it does it very well.  There's always a new film to talk about, there's always a new fashion trend, a new game.

But that's the motivation, when you really break it down, that drives the industrial mass production process that's killing quality, hope, and the Earth itself.

We sometimes assume a symmetry where none exists.  We think that for the great crime there must be a great motivation, but this is rarely true.  We think that to do great damage we must need great hate, but we don't.

We sell our souls far, far more cheaply than that.

But we're not blind, and whatever the motivation we know that things aren't working out, that there's something quite profoundly wrong with the cheap answers and the men in expensive suits who trade in them.

And so we look for a way out, but we're still afraid.  Still afraid of not looking good, right now.  And so the only answers we accept are the pretty ones.  And the prettier they are, the more we reach for them.

I make my work as pretty as possible - but not prettier.  There are many who are not so squeamish.  I cannot compete with them, and I will never be able to.

And so I rely upon those few who do something else.  Who are willing to brave that fear - and it's not such a great terror when you look it in the eye - and be willing to be wrong about things.  Be willing to look a bit of a fool occasionally, to brave a bit of mockery, perhaps.  Or even, to just feel a little bit awkward when you're trying on perspectives you've never tried before, and it all feels weird.

Just these little things, just those.  Nothing grand, nothing vast, no enormous heroism.  Just a basic level of very simple human virtue.

Because there is a solution to all the chaos and the pain, the damage and the despair, the anxiety and the apathy.

And it doesn't have to be pretty.

It just has to be.

Wednesday, 10 July 2013

Reality Is Waiting


The diversity of the modern world is a wonderful thing.  There are so many different people, but also so many different perspectives.  The iron grip of dogma, be it political or religious, is fighting a losing battle, and we are free now in a way that few people have ever been.

A great tapestry of people, beliefs, aspirations, ideas, languages, all brought into contact with each other by the amazing advances in travel and communication that have come to define our time.

Those advances, more than anything else, are what has caused this erosion.  It's a tricky thing to enforce a belief system across a whole society - but very possible if you control the means of communication.  In ages past, such a thing was very controllable.

Whereas once we heard only what was sanctioned for us to hear, now we can, if we choose, tune in to anyone anywhere in the world.  Any people, any country, any language - we don't even need to speak it now.  We have an app for that.

And all the wisdom of every human being who was ever wise enough to inspire someone to write their words down - it is at our fingertips.  It is right in front of us every day, all day.

The very nature of these things cries out to us, cries out to the common humanity we all share, but we have lost the way.

We can see from every perspective, but we gauge how important something is by how much it already agrees with what we think.

We have the treasures of the ages, the greatest wisdom of vast cultures that pioneered insight, and we spend our time on gossip.

We have the humanity of all nations laid out in front of us every day but what we collect and obsess over is the inhumanity, the worst of the world.

We could work together to bind together, to find solutions before we choke this world to ash with all the exhaust fumes of our progress.  We could make an art form of living.  We could change the world.

And yet all we do is change the channel.

We have abandoned truth, and because of this we have made ourselves vulnerable to abuse.  To being exploited.  To being silenced.  Into spending our voices on trivia.  Into blindly enforcing the consensus.

When we abandon reality, when you say that the truth is a tyranny, we lose all power and become easy to manipulate.

And so we don't need to think about social corruption, political corruption, cultural corruption, environmental corruption - or the teeming millions who live in poverty to protect the great business interests of the Western World - let alone do anything about it - because it's not fun to think about.

So we make it fun, and build conspiracy theories.  Or we make it a grand pageant, and make sure we emphasise how doomed our cause is because that makes it so much more noble.

And this is fine, if we want to be peasants.

When we abandon the truth, abandon reality for whatever excitement and prettiness comes today, we become peasants.  We let the aristocracy of our day - big business - make all the decisions for us, and we just consume, and live our little lives, and do what peasants do.

We cannot live like this and be citizens.  And so our democracies are failing.

It is all connected.  Nothing is random.  Nothing is discrete.

But reality is waiting.  It will wait forever, and if we continue to ignore it, to mock it, to work almost like an organism to mock, belittle, sideline and hide this truth, it will still be waiting long after all our wasted lives have ended, in the shell of a wasted world.

Reality is waiting.  We need to start heeding it.

And it starts with us.  Me, you.  Not this guy here, not this group of people there.  Us.  Personally us, or it doesn't start.

Start.

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Armchair Humanity


Humanity doesn't need another ideology.  It doesn't matter how accurate it may be, or how helpful.  Most ideologies have some level of truth to them - not all, but most.

We think of the all the ideas laid out in front of us, and it seems that their content is the important thing.

Which is a very weird thing to say - of course the content is the important thing, what else would be?  What else is there to a belief but content?  Sure, perhaps you could mention boring little philosophical vignette, but when you really break it down, wrong is wrong and right is right.

If someone believes that all people should be equal, that we're all in this together, that we should all do the best we can for ourselves and others, that we should all try and help each other and best we can, and just sort of get through life, and smile as much as possible, and have friends, and chill when possible, and enjoy things when possible and generally live and let live....

If someone believes that?  What's the harm, surely?

And you know, it's a fine thing to believe, most people believe it, or something like it, in one form or another.

But then if the history of all human society teaches us anything, it teaches us this - that there is no belief, no matter how innocuous, no matter how good, no matter how profound, no matter how right, or how deep, or how decent, that humanity cannot turn into a train wreck.

Live and let live sound fine and good.  But everything can be made into an ideology.  Everything.

And ideologies are extreme.  They don't like heresy.  They react to suppress it, to ridicule it, just as they have always done.

Do nothing while the world dies, while your life and the life of everyone you know, the life of all humanity is debased by consumption and fear.  Mock any who would stand up and seek a better way as charlatans, fools and crazy people.  Become an artist of excuses.  Never try anything that would put you at risk of failing.  Viciously attack the failures of anyone with the temerity to try.

Armchair humans living an armchair life.  A life lived in opinion, and never in action.

A great consensus has built around this ideology.  Vast and well-funded, it serves to make humanity into what may well be it's final form.  The consumer.

And heresy is not the answer, it never was.  A shrieking heretic is just the same as a shrieking ideologue.  And besides, what would be the point of heresy in a world which lives to consume?  It would just be eaten as today's meal, and then spat out.

It's not the content of our beliefs that really matters.  It's how humble we are in the beliefs we have.

How willing we are to be wrong.  How capable we are of being wrong.  Humility to the real, to reality, to what's really going on beyond our opinions, and against which our opinions are very small indeed, no matter how grandly we frame them.

Not another ideology, but something else.  Humility in all ideology, humility to what is really happening, a willingness to be wrong, and in that willingness, the ability to, perhaps for the first time in human history, make some honest-to-God headway as individuals, and as a people.

There are many different kinds of damage we have wrought, and continue to wreak, upon ourselves, each other, and the world in which we live.

We do not live in a world that wants for noble causes.  We live in a world that wants for noble people.

But noble in a new way.  Not trying to unite all under one ideology.

Instead, having the humility to recognise that we are all already, always and anyway united in reality, and all that splits us from each other is our own little conceits.

All who act with courage and humility, act as one.

Monday, 8 July 2013

Already, Always And Anyway


It seems a strange thing that we should release our grasp on the things we want to keep, the things we want to have stay, the things we want to come again.

But then, we are shadows all, flickering images cast.  Our grip has no more purchase than a painting of a grasping hand, because a painting of a grasping hand is a far closer thing to our true nature than many of us would wish to consider.

There are many strange things that become clear once we look at the life we live, the creatures we are, and the world that we inhabit, from this vantage point.  And one of them is this - when we have no real grip, when all our grasping is fake, a mere tale of grasping, a story of grasping, what does grasping after good things do?

What does it really do?  What are we actually doing when we do this?

Well, just this.  Just weaving a tale of grasping and reaching, and fleshing it out in the colours of a noble struggle, or a righteous crusade, or a savvy rogue, getting the edge on the competition with a clever new ploy.  Or anything, really.

No actual grip occurs.  We should pay attention to that fact.  We're not releasing our grip on things - we have no grip anyway.  No real grip at all.  Just the tale of grip, nothing more.

Whatever colours it is filled in with, it's just a tale, and tales of grasp cannot themselves grasp, no matter how extreme they get, no matter how tortured, no matter how intense, or how much we throw our hearts into it.  It's just not on the cards, and it never was.

Which is why the only things that we can keep, that do stay, and that will come again, are the things that already are, that always were, and that will be anyway, regardless of whatever shrieking, base, shallow little tale of glory or sorrow we're spinning today.

It's not magic, you see.  The reason life becomes more joyous, peaceful and vivid when we release our grip is that life is already like that, and our 'grip' - such as it is - is just a shrill and petty little picture of ourselves as heroes.  Just a noisy story, so noisy it blocks out everything else that is already, always and anyway.

And the things that are already, always and anyway?

Well, they're already and always will be the only things worth having anyway.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

The Devil In The Details


Dear Ciaran

I've been sussing out some ideas after reading your work for the last few months. Some of the things I've picked up that have stuck that is.. 

We're starting with coming to know the "flavor" of reality. The taste of the real. Being able to stay with the immediacy of your own experience. To stay within the moment of "now" and not be wandering off in your head somewhere.

The human self is a display, an illusion. Our thought-processes have evolved to give the appearance of "self", of a mind behind the self. This is the common experience of most humans at present. Emotions fuel the mating display, so ramping them up (creating drama), or joining someone else's drama allows people to give a very vivid display of self. Others respond to the display and it's pretty self-reinforcing for most. A few of us break it . And some of us are born without whatever it is, or maybe it's a little defective and what the fuck is wrong with us.

This is all that is real. The immediacy of our experience that is. Why not be the best versions of ourselves? Why not short-cut the pain of the self, to cut it off at the knees as it were. To throw off the oppression of our social conditioning and become who we are. To revel in reality and become a force within it.

When it comes to all of our various emotions, you just accept and experience them. Honor them. But undercut the drama, take away their shit-storm creating powers by just recognizing them for what they really are. Your simple human feelings, whatever they may be and however intense they may be. Evolved responses to stimuli. No story.

If you can, find love. Friendship. Community. Faith in something, even if it's just in your ability or provide for the people in your life. Or faith in the idea that shit will get better. Just keep trying.

That's what I've picked up from your work lately.  Is this accurate?

XXXXXXX

Hi there,

I wanted to take some time with this one, because there's an issue here that is absolutely instrumental.

It's about subtlety.

Subtlety and nuance, the little details, the small things.  It might seem that the small things, the little subtle tweaks and tiny little nuances, that they are less relevant because they are smaller.

This is not true.  The reason it's not true is that this stuff is punching right down to a very, very deep level.  Because of this, it's like tinkering with a building's foundations.  We might not think one inch matters here, or half an inch there, but once we put a skyscraper on top of it, it matters - a lot.

So what I'm going to do is just go through what you've written here, and tweak it.  And it's really important that we don't get defensive when we read things like this, and we don't write them off as being irrelevant because they're not big.

They're not big - but then the place where we change our lives isn't the place where it's all the big ideas and the wonderful feelings.  It's in the simple, quiet places, where we see the tiny little things that have massive consequences for the way we live.

So before we go on - let's take some time to understand this, and let's not flinch it, or belittle it, or let it slide away until we've really stared it clear in the eye.  The small nuances are where this happens.  Once again in bold:

The small nuances are where this happens.

Nuance is hugely important - and in fact, I have never come across anyone with any problem in any of this kind of thing whatsoever, from any wisdom tradition or lack thereof, who's problem did not come down to a very small, subtle thing that they just didn't see.

Ok?  So consider this underlined.  The nuances matter.  So let's get some nuance.

Let's just start at the beginning - when you say:

"We're starting with coming to know the "flavor" of reality. The taste of the real"

Yes, this is true.  But even the phrase 'coming to know' is overegging the pudding

Do we use the phrase "coming to know" in normal conversation?  Do we say "I'm coming to know what this book is all about?"  Do we say "I'm coming to know what this car feels like to drive?"

Saying 'coming to know' sounds pretty mystical.  Quite shiny and noble.  Coming to know - like the truth is dawning upon you like daybreak, shafts of light striking from over a horizon, chasing away the shadows.

Even a whisper of romance in this is a whisper too much.

So not 'coming to know' the flavour of the real.  How about 'getting a sense' of it, or 'getting a feel' for it?  Those are things that mean exactly the same, that we use in conversation.  They don't show reverence, and they don't show disrespect either.

We're not downplaying it, and we're not 'up-playing' it either.  It's just simple.  Getting a sense for the flavour of experience, getting a sense of the flavour of the real.  Subtle - but important.  Small things have big consequences.

"The human self is a display, an illusion."

Yes, yes it is.

"Our thought-processes have evolved to give the appearance of "self", of a mind behind the self."

Ok - again, some very subtle tinkering to be done here, but it has a huge effect on how successful we can be with this stuff.

They're not even really thought processes.  They're the illusion of thought processes.  The illusion of thought processes that never actually happened.

Can you see the difference?  If it's too subtle, take your time with it.

On the one hand, we have the idea that our thoughts have evolved to give the appearance of a self......

Or....... on the other hand....

That our brains have evolved to give the appearance of thought.

This is one of the big connections I was able to make in One Song - it's not that thought processes are generating the illusion of mind, it's that - and pay attention here, these small subtle distinctions really matter, they matter hugely, so pay attention - it's that the brain is inventing thought processes that never actually happen.

Uh, ok Ciaran, isn't this just hair-splitting?

Yes.  But at this depth, our success or failure can depend on precision the width of half a hair, so take the time to get this.

When we ask what thought is, we're already making an assumption.  That it's an actual thing.  But it's not. There is no thought, which is to say there is no linear processing happening in the human brain.  None.

What we instead have is pattern recognition, which is backward rationalised as linear processing, to create the illusion of mind.  The illusion of mind, woven of illusions of thought.  There is no real thought - there's just the story of thought, the illusion of thought.

This distinction seems so little, but has vast consequences.  It's very common for people to try and 'stop thinking' or 'stop the thoughts' - but the fact is, they're not thoughts.  There is no thinking going on - but there's an incredibly compelling illusion of thinking being generated.

We can't get rid of thinking because it's not there anyway.  It's an illusion of thought.  Trying to change the way we think or reduce our thinking, or anything like that, is going to be a really fraught and ultimately fruitless endeavour, because it's like trying to punch out a character in a film from our seat in the cinema audience.  All we'll do is get frustrated, and look pretty silly.  We might scuff the screen, but that's about it.

And the 'screen' that this specific illusion is being projected onto isn't capable of being scuffed.  So there really is no point that approach at all.  Ok?

Now another subtlety.  The mind isn't 'behind the self'.

The mind is part of the self, like the skeleton is part of the body, and it serves a very similar purpose.

The mind is an illusion - like a pencil drawing of a man is made of lines drawn on paper.  The illusion of thought, the illusion of mind - this is the pencil line of the drawing.

The moral colour and emotional quality that fill that illusion is like the crayon that fills in the colour between the lines.  Is this clear enough?  Crayon and pencil.  Colour and line.  The colour fleshes out the structure, like crayons flesh out the structure of a line drawing.

But both together make the image.  In our case, both together make that self.

Do you understand?  The lines and the colour, both together make the image.  It takes both, and it needs both - because this image has one purpose, with two aspects.  The purpose is to display, to create a distinctive and unforgettable display of us.

The first aspect of this is - yes, it has to be compelling.  But the second is that it has to look coherent.  It has to make sense as a picture, as an image.  Splurge colours all over a page and no matter how vivid they are, all we're making is a mess.  Unless of course, we intend to sell it as modern art, in which case we may make a killing.

But evolution isn't Charles Saatchi.  The display of self must look coherent, as well as compelling.

Both together make the self.  Coherent and compelling, in seemingly seamless unity.

Ok?  Subtle - but with huge consequences.

What consequences?  Well, if we see the self as being this thing with mind behind it, there's a division there.  Moving parts, if we will.  This bit does that thing to this other bit.  And once we start looking at it like that, we start trying to analyse, and churning out huge amounts of thought.

Except we know... that it's not thought, is it?

Is it?  When we analyse, we're not actually analysing.  There is no analytical capacity in the brain.  There's just pattern recognition, and the ability to weave stories of linear logic.

What happens when we stop looking, and start analysing?

It's the illusion of thought, which to us, in trying to do anything here, is literally just useless noise.

Useless noise that can - and has - literally trapped millions in it until their dying day.  It enamours us, we love the idea of ourselves as thinkers.  The idea of analysis literally dominates Western philosophy today, and you can't get a job as a philosopher in a university, unless you bend the knee to it.  And it's nothing, it doesn't exist.  And so thousands of brilliant, clever, hardworking, serious and decent people churn away their whole lives and die, chasing that rainbow.  And our culture howls out for lack of wisdom - or at least it would if it had the wisdom to.  And this is world in which we live.

Small differences, big consequences.  Big stakes, really big.

There's no moving parts.  This bit doesn't do that thing to make this other thing happen.  Thought processes don't create the illusion of mind as a backing for the self.

Thought processes are the illusion of mind, which is a fundamental component of the self.

Again - let's take our time with this.  Let's not just read it and forget it, let's take the time to get the details right.  These tiny little things, neglected, are what make so many people - good people, decent people, serious people - spend 40-50 years or more just working this, and never getting anywhere.

This is why - they're looking at big shiny beliefs, and not looking for small subtle contour.  Small is where the action is, pay attention to the details, they're what make the difference.

"Emotions fuel the mating display, so ramping them up (creating drama), or joining someone else's drama allows people to give a very vivid display of self."

Yes, this is exactly right.  Spot on.

"Others respond to the display and it's pretty self-reinforcing for most. A few of us break it ."

No.  None of us break it.  The display of self is what the brain is doing.  In everyone.  It's what the brain evolved to do, like the heart evolved to beat.  We cannot stop it, or turn it off.  Even that flavour of reality is being produced by the brain's right hemisphere in response to reality, and so it is part of the illusion of self, just as much as the mind is.

We can veer toward one side or the other, or we can find some way to reach an equilibrium but we'll never stop it from happening, short of putting a shotgun in our mouths, and painting the wall behind we with 'hint of brain'.  And I have a feeling that might create more problems than it solves, at least for whoever has to clean up the mess.

"And some of us are born without whatever it is, or maybe it's a little defective and what the fuck is wrong with us."

No.  No-one's born without this.  Nobody.  If our brain is physically intact, with no major birth defects, this is what it does.

If there are birth defects, then this is what it does, badly.

Is this clear?  That this is what the brain does, it is a projector, projecting self.  A twin-lensed projector - one side (the left hemisphere) weaving an illusion of structure, the illusion of thoughts that never happen, the illusion of a self that simply isn't, and the other side (the right hemisphere) filling all this in with quality, contour and emotion.

"Being able to stay with the immediacy of your own experience. To stay within the moment of "now" and not be wandering off in your head somewhere."

I have literally never said this.  This is Eckhart Tolle.

Now, I've gone very deeply into Tolle's work - in many ways it was my introduction to Eastern thought.  The guy is brilliant, and clearly has it working for him, and he explains things with an incredible simplicity, because he sees things with an incredible simplicity after 30 years of living like this.

30 years is a very long time, especially if, as Tolle does, we move totally away from all thought and memory, and emphasise only the quality of experience, the flavour of the real.  Live in that for 30 years, and it will seem very simple to us.

But when the devil's in the details, 30 years away from ever having to deal with the structure of delusion is not a help for those still in it, who desperately need precision, whether they know it or not.

Precision matter too, especially when we're trying to get this up and running from scratch.  "Pain body" is not particularly precise.  "The pain body cannot long withstand presence" is even riskier still.  And why?

Because when artificially contrived conflict is the fundamental nature of the problem we're trying to solve, any level of antagonism in the method we use to solve it is going to get, nine times out of ten, blown out of all proportion, and come to dominate and destroy what we are trying to do.

Is this making sense?  Small things - big consequences.

These things are very important in getting this working, they're as important as oxygen is to life.  Reality is a ruthless thing, and it will literally sit back and watch us destroy ourselves over something we never saw, and it will not intervene and explain it to us, ever.

That's why detail matters, and precision matters, especially with things of depth.

So let's go back to the email:

"Being able to stay with the immediacy of your own experience. To stay within the moment of "now" and not be wandering off in your head somewhere."

We can no more escape the immediacy of experience, or leave it, or go outside of the moment of now, than we can jump to moon on a space-hopper.

Wherever we are, whatever's going on, whatever thoughts we are having about the future, whatever feelings we are having about the past - they're all happening now, or they're not happening.

This is the case.  It's the case whether or not we're thinking about it, whether or not we agree, whether or not it conflicts with our deepest beliefs, whether or not we're looking right at it, whether or not  we've never heard anyone say anything like this.  It is the case anyway.  It's what's going on.

Now if we see that - the fact that regardless of whether or not we are wandering off, all our wandering is still always and already contained in the moment of existence like all things that exist - we're doing something different.

We're not trying to hold ourselves in a certain position, facing the now, that sort of thing.  Tolle once referred to it as the "tightrope of now".  But then, where will we fall if we slip off the tightrope?  Into then?  Nope.  Still now.

Instead of trying to hold that position, we're seeing the context within which all positions occur.  This is a different level of thing, a different kind of thing.  We must see the difference, or we'll mistake one for the other, and we'll be stuck on a tightrope for the rest of our lives.

Small things, big consequences.

Because if we approach this by trying to stay with the immediacy of our own experience, and trying to stay looking at the moment of now, that's not freedom.  That's a cage.

The liberation that comes with this is not that all the experience - daydreaming, memory, feelings, whatever - goes away, and we are left blissful because everything else has been excised.  That's not liberation, that's a narrowing of experience to a tiny slice.  If we can train ourselves for decades, yes, we can live like this, and we'll be very nice company, if a little quiet.

But that is the only ending to that story, that is the only destination of that path.  Do that for 40 years, and the best we can ever hope for is that we're happy with a life of silence.  That's what happens, and many are very happy indeed with it.  But to do that means missing another path, a different way.

And it's that we don't need to train ourselves to see what is already and always happening, whether we like it or not, whether we believe it or not.  And what is already happening is that we are already in the now, everything we do is, everything we are is, and it always will be.  And what we are is an illusion - an illusion that is occurring where all things occur.  Now.

"This is all that is real. The immediacy of our experience that is."

Yes, this is true.

"Why not be the best versions of ourselves?"

No.  I never said anything like this, this I think might be from Tony Robbins.

It's not so much that we should be a better or worse version of ourselves.

That's not what I'm getting at, and that's not the point of what I teach.  At the same time, doing this successfully will - incidentally - make us massively less conflicted, much more open to life, far less unhappy and vastly more capable of doing things that are genuinely great.

But reaching for all these things, or worse - trying to be the 'you' that's already great, or already less conflicted, or already less unhappy, or already more capable - isn't going to work.

The former because all we'll do is live a life reaching for something that isn't there - because it's just a fiction chasing a fiction, we'll never catch it.

The second because it's just another show.  A show of being great, a show of being less conflicted, a show of being less unhappy.

Neither will ever work, ever, under any circumstances.  They might look like they're working for a while, if we really go for it, but that's of use to nobody.  'Looking like it works for a while' falls apart when the rubber meets the road, and sooner or later it will.  Probably sooner.

"Why not short-cut the pain of the self, to cut it off at the knees as it were."

Yes, better.  Much better.  Not fighting it, or beating it, but getting right underneath the process - down to the small, to the simple, to the subtle differences - and disrupting the feedback processes that give rise to blindness and suffering in the first place.

"To throw off the oppression of our social conditioning and become who we are."

Yes - to a degree.  Again, subtle, subtle, subtle.

We live in a profoundly selfish society, where consumption, greed and craving are met with polished product,  and polished ideas, and fed, and grow.  It is very easy for us to dismiss this kind of thing, to be cynical about anything that can effect genuine change in life.

It is even easier still to recast things like this in bright and shiny terms, make it sound fancy and big - even just to ourselves - because that's what we do, it's what we have grown up with, it's what we know.

But it goes even deeper than that.  This isn't a Western-consumer-culture problem, it just manifests in the way it does because that's the culture we (or at least some of us) have grown up with.  But when we really get down to it, this is a human problem, that is emanating from the core of humanity, from what humanity actually is, from the basic functions of it.

And so yes, true - but see the subtlety.  It's not about becoming who we are, as if this ideal you is hovering there, waiting to be found.

What can be done instead is that by interrupting the basic feedback mechanisms that amplify suffering and delusion, we naturally revert to a far more stable state.

In that state, not being blinded by all the pain or ideology, things that are hidden become plain.  The unity of flavour that runs through experience.  The wonderful experience of living, of just being alive.

These aren't things we train to do, they're not positions we hold.  They're characteristics of the human experience that just become much more apparent when we're not chasing our own tails.

Symptoms, not causes.

"To revel in reality and become a force within it."

Again, yes - but this is not something that we do, and it sorts us out.

This is an option that becomes available to us when the chaos fades.  We don't have to do this, we can Tibetan Monk it up, and live in the stillness.  But we don't have to do that either, we can revel in reality and become a force within it.

Or rather (again, a subtlety) recognise that we actually have no real force at our disposal whatsoever, anymore than a picture of a footballer can kick a football... but reality has a great deal of force, so if you bend the knee to the real, force can be exerted.  But this sounds quite abstract, and what I'm talking about isn't magic.

It's just like engineering or something - we don't get to decide how the forces acting on a bridge work, but if we are humble enough to leave behind our ideas of what should do what, and pay attention to the reality of what actually does what, regardless of what we want to believe, and work with that reality, then we can build a hell of a bridge.  That's all I'm saying here.  It's not magic.

"When it comes to all of our various emotions, you just accept and experience them. Honor them. But undercut the drama, take away their shit-storm creating powers by just recognizing them for what they really are." 

Yes, spot on.

"Your simple human feelings, whatever they may be and however intense they may be. Evolved responses to stimuli. No story."

No.

Our simple human feelings are not evolved responses to stimuli.

Let me just say that again.

Our simple human feelings are not evolved responses to stimuli.

They are something of a very different nature.  Not just a different thing, but a different kind of thing.  Our simple human feelings have much more in common, evolutionarily, with the colours on the tail of a peacock, than with a peacock's response to stimuli.

Stop, and consider what I'm saying.  It really matters.  Because even though, again, this might seem like some kind of small philosophical nicety, some little academic theory that's of limited use only as a conversation piece around a dinner table, in fact, it's something else.

The emotions that we have, have a very different agenda to the one we think they do.  They are not there as normal responses to stimuli.  If they were, human beings wouldn't be so chaotic, volatile, deluded and unhappy.

What our emotions instead do is use stimuli as an excuse to be come as intense and vivid as possible.

Can you see?  A very different dynamic, a very different agenda.  Different properties because it's a different kind of thing to what we think it is.

It's not just what we think it is, but it also does this other stuff.  It's not what we think it is at all.  It only does other stuff.

Of course, all emotions do come wrapped and packaged in reasons.  Reasons for this feeling, reasons for that feeling.  They look like emotional responses to stimuli because that is the point of the illusion.

They are in fact, not that.  At all.  Really.

And because of this, there's always a pressure to extremes.  Extremes of feeling, extremes of thought, extremes of ideology.  This is the process playing out in us, all of us, all the time, because the point of emotions, their primary evolutionary purpose, is to be extreme, to be vivid, to show.

Now when you say "No story," you're onto something there.  The reasons that the emotions use to cloak themselves in always take a narrative form, because linear cause and effect is a basic characteristic of the illusion of thought, the illusion of mind.

Interdicting extreme emotion at the point of story is, therefore, a hell of a lot more effective than just sort of shouting at it.

But the point here is this.  Emotion's not the problem.  Extreme is the problem.  The process of amplification - that's what the problem is, nothing else.

Get clarity on this.  It's very easy, especially if we read a lot in this area, to get a head full of mess.  Clarity isn't just a nice thing to have, it's essential.  We're not doing anything else, we're not working for anything else, we're not pushing for anything else, or trying to do anything else... except.... disrupt the process by which feelings become amplified.

Everything else in this, everything, everything, everything, happens as an incidental effect of that single, central process.

And there's a lot of 'everything else' and it's all very exciting, and it's all very interesting, and it's all very fancy, but that's the crux, that's the fulcrum, that's the nodal point.  Everything else flows from it.

"If you can, find love. Friendship. Community."

Well, sure, of course... they're nicer to have than not.  But if we haven't got a handle on that process that's amplifying our emotions - both positive and negative - we'll mess up love, we'll break our friendships, and we'll damage whatever community we're part of.

But then, we might think - why wouldn't I want to amplify positive emotions?

The answer is simple.  Because if we successfully do it, we can't stop.  We get higher and higher, more and more cocky, more and more intense, and then, in the words of Tom Cruise's drill sergeant, our egos start writing cheques our bodies can't cash.  Or our capabilities, or our resources, or whatever.

And then we collapse into a downward spiral.  And it's really, really unpleasant, and we can get stuck in that forever, and it's really not a nice place.  And even if we do get out, we'll do a lot of damage to our lives, and those around us, while we're in it.

Clarity on the central process, that's the key.  Everything else happens around it, and if that central process isn't addressed, nothing else, love, family, whatever, is going to hold together for long.

"Faith in something, even if it's just in your ability or provide for the people in your life. Or faith in the idea that shit will get better. Just keep trying."

No.

I use the word "faith" sometimes, but I always take care, whenever I do, to explain exactly what kind of faith I'm talking about.  And I'm not talking about anything like what you've written here.

Again - what I'm about to say might seem subtle, but this is the big tamale.  This is the small little thing that, if we get it right, we can actually sort out the central process that amplifies emotions, and causes the suffering and volatility of the human condition.

If you can't reassess what you think I mean by this, or if you can't get your head around what I'm about to say, you will never get anything from my work, and should immediately stop reading it, because it will be of no value to you whatsoever.

Pay attention.  Pay close attention here.

Faith is not magic.  It's not about just believing that things will get better, or that people are nice, or that we can do things.  That has no use.  None.  It's just words, and words are wind.  That kind of thinking works great when things are going great, but then - everything works great when things are going great.

What we need is something that works regardless of how things are going.  That works on the upswing as well as the down.  Something that strikes, surgically, to the core process that's destabilising us.

That is what we need here, and no - faith in anything won't cut it.  At all.

I know I'm taking a while to hammer this point in, but this is key.  Having faith in anything doesn't do anything.  It makes us feel a little more chipper when we're already feeling chipper.  That's it.

When we spiral out, we will rapidly find that we are brought to a place where such faith has the strength and grip of a climbing hook made of jelly.  It just won't do it.

There is a highly specific form of faith, just one, just one form of faith, nothing else, that can interdict the core process that's amplifying emotion, just one.

I talk about it at length in One Song, I talk about it at length in the article Faith.  I'll go over it again here, but bear in mind - we need to pay attention.  We do not already know this.  We have not heard this before.  It is not common in society for things like this to be said.

And it is not faith as it is commonly understood.  It is radically, radically different.

It works like this.

If we have an idea that we think is really, really good, or a mood that we really like, or a feeling that we really enjoy, or anything that is good which happens to us, that thing will not last forever.

That's just the way things go.  Everything that is born, dies.  And things like thoughts, ideas and feelings die very, very fast in the great scheme of things.  It's very unusual to have a mood last longer than, say, three days or so.  It happens, but it's rare, and even a three day mood is a rare thing.

When it starts to fade - and pay attention - when it starts to fade, there is always a great temptation to grasp at it, or try and hold onto it.

Ok?  Very simple stuff.  Don't switch off.  Pay attention.

Now, if that thing is, say, an idea - we want to keep that idea.  We try to remember it, try to repeat it, try to keep it in mind.

But if that idea is true, we don't need to keep it in mind for it to remain true.  And if it's not true, then we don't want to keep it in mind anyway, because it's not true.

If we have no faith at all that our idea is true, and it's just an idea that makes us feel good, and we don't care about anything else, the only option available to us is to hold onto it.

If we have no faith that it's true, we don't think it's going to come back once it goes and we forget it, because why would it?

Can you see?  The grasping extends from having no faith that our idea is true.

If we, on the other hand, do have faith that our idea is true, no matter what it is, we can just let it slide away.

Now, again - here's a really subtle thing, but it has massive consequences, so pay attention.

I'm not telling you to let go of ideas, or feelings.

It's about you not grasping after them when they fade on their own.

Can you see?  Can you see the difference?

Again, really subtle, but huge.  Huge consequences.

If we try 'letting go' of all ideas and feelings, we'll just turn ourselves into another caricature of 'me letting go'. People do it all the time, it's everywhere.  And it's just another show, it doesn't interdict the core process, it's just one more manifestation of it.

But... if we're just not grasping after things as they themselves fade, then we open up a new kind of faculty.

A new capacity, a new way to approach things.

This is powerful enough when we do it with negativity - "if this fear is real, it's still be real tomorrow, I'll deal with it then."  Powerful stuff.

But not as powerful as doing this with positivity.  That's the key, that's the game-changer.  Do it with something good.  That's what gives it weight and heft.

Letting things we don't want anyway slide away isn't really that big of a decision.  We don't want them anyway, so it doesn't really mean anything.  It's like that saying from the Bible - "For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have?"

What is in any way different or special about loving those who love us?  Everyone does that.  It's easy, and it means nothing.  Same thing here.  If  we're just letting go of things we want to go of?  What does that matter?  What does that mean?

Nothing.

Nothing has changed in the terms of how you are approaching life.  We're just trying to let go of things you want to let go of anyway.  So what?

But letting go of things we do want, be they amazing ideas, wonderful feelings, anything like that - that decision is a completely different kind of animal.  It has far greater weight and heft, and it opens up a completely new approach to things.

We're not just letting things slide out because they're bad.  If we're doing that, any nasty feeling can stick and entrench forever, just by waving a carrot in our faces and saying "well, if you could only get rid of me, then you'd be so happy, and everything would be wonderful."

Sound familiar?  Ever thought that?  That's the main hook suffering has over people.  That in some way or other it portrays itself as a gateway to goodness, and better days.  And if weve never, never been able to let go of goodness and better days?  Then it can and will play us like a puppet until we die.  And that will be our lives.  For real.  Not karma, no judge from on high, no divine retribution.  Just the way reality works, and it's more than harsh enough, and it's very fast, and it's very real.

If we let good things slide out, that's something different.  It's a very conscious thing, and very simple.  Just when we start feeling a good mood or a great idea subsiding, just let it subside.  When we start grasping for it, just stop.  Let it go.

In a way it's quite emotional, like saying goodbye to a friend almost, and just trusting to fate that if they're a real friend, they'll come back.  Just like that.  Yeah?

And when you do it, you'll probably find (as I did) that it was a very strange thing - it was basically something I had literally never done before, in my life.

I don't think many people have.  And it's like discovering that we can move our neck in a full 360 spin, it's a faculty we never use, and we never explore, we never develop.

And it all boils down to one thing, one simple single - and highly specific - kind of faith.

Faith in reality.

And not REALITY as this big awesome booming thing.  Just reality, just the coherence of reality, just normal reality.

Once we start doing that, all of a sudden we open up a new option of how to deal with life.

If it's real, I don't need to grasp onto it for it to stay real.  If it's not, who cares?

And again - not hammering it like a mantra.  It's not an incantation, it isn't magic.  It's just an approach, a new option, a rule of thumb, a basic simple way to approach any and all grasping, no matter what it is.

And this approach means that good feelings don't amplify and become this manic euphoria.  Bad feelings don't spiral out and become these jagged, corrosive pits.

And how much of our time is spent in either one or the other?  Either holding on to this idea or that, this way of life or that, this feeling or that, because it makes us feel good..... or....

Spiralling out into darkness?

We tend to get along doing the first, and every now and then, spiral out into the second.  And that's human life.  That's what it's like.

But we don't need to live like this.  Faith in reality - not faith in anything, not faith in our friends, not faith in our lifestyles, not faith in our communities, not faith in our religions, not faith in our rationality, or even rationality itself.

None of that.  Faith in reality.  Just that specific one.  That's the one that has the traction.  Just that.

And when all this hubbub and chaos, the extremes of striving and posturing fade.  Again, it's the extremes that of striving and posturing that are the problem, not striving and posturing.  Striving is fine, it's how we get things done.  Posturing is wonderful... if it's funny.  But the extremes of them are the norm for the way we live in the world, and they don't have to be.

And when they are allowed to fade out, then the things that become apparent in the absence of all that noise, are things like the flavour of love that permeates all human experience.

But things like that are symptoms, not causes.

The core issue is the amplification of pain, suffering, delusion.

Now, I didn't expect to have to write so much here, but I hope you understand why I've gone into such detail.  The devil's in the details, and if think you can fudge this, or just think something nice and good things will happen, think again.

This only works when you step away from those big noisy ideals of 'beating oppression' or 'finding the true me' or any of this romance.  Treat romance like it's made of leprosy, and you'll do well in this.

And regardless of our culture - whether American or European, Indian, Chinese, whatever - romance is a huge part of how we are conditioned to approach things.  And that's not because of our societies, although yes, they do in large part dictate the form that romance takes.

It's because of the nature of what we are.  Romance engines, spinning pretty tales that sound wonderful, and have only an incidental connection with reality.

It is vanity.  Pungent, gleaming, polished vanity, and only by being humble, by looking to the small and the simple, not the big and the loud, can we hope to engage with the real.  Because reality doesn't shriek and argue, it doesn't eulogise, it just is how it is - and that 'how' is a very specific thing, that we need to take an interest in.

So take an interest.  And take time.  Take time with all this stuff.  Read it through once, spend a week with it, doing the best you can, then read it through again after a week is done.

And show some people what has been written here.

Give them the chance you just got to make this work for real.http://ruthlesstruthdotcom.blogspot.co.uk/2013/03/one-song.html