Monthly Archives: March 2013

Advantages #3: The Baseline

This is one of the greatest misconceptions I had about “enlightenment” before I got there. I might have been in the minority here, because I hadn’t ever been concerned with all that spiritual stuff myself and had never actually believed in it, but still, for those of you who don’t know how this works, like me, I put together a little graph.

This is what I thought “enlightenment” meant:

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I thought “enlightenment” basically meant balance. In life, you would have your highs and lows, ups and downs. Like, you know, like a normal Person. Some People might not be as erratic like the Person pictured above, but in general that’s how things work out. Think of the highest high as the greatest orgasm ever in that graph, while the lowest low would be the deepest depths of depression. Outside circumstances are always what you think are responsible for your mood swings, and so they seem totally out of your control. “Enlightenment” or “Nirvana”, as pictured in that graph, seems like boring apathy. Anything would be better than being such a boring robot with no emotions, right?

Except, the graph is wrong (despite me labelling the axis. Always label your graphs, kids, not doing so is impolite). That’s not what it feels like. While “enlightenment” is still boring as fuck (and there’s no shortage of spiritual teachers who will admit to this) that boredom does not feel bad. In fact, what you have come to know as “boredom” is simply your mind being restless. True silence and stillness feel amazing. I could just sit here for an hour with my eyes closed and a happy smile on my face. It would make no real difference to me. I don’t do this because I do enjoy seeing the world, but I no longer need to to feel good, I just want to.

Here’s the correct graph:

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You see, it’s all about that baseline level of feeling. Once you have all your bullshit balanced out (and this is an inside change, it doesn’t matter how turbulent your outside life appears to be) the baseline significantly rises. This is because you’ve quit all your addictions. It feels counter-intuitive, but if you’ve ever quit an addiction, you might know what I am talking about.

There’s many addictions that prevent you from reaching enlightenment, but the most persistent one of them, the hardest one to get rid of, the one that has come to be known as “the human condition”, is not to a substance. Well, I guess, technically it is, I’d say it probably produces dopamine, like pretty much all other addictions. For most People who reach “enlightenment” it’s probably the last one to go. (It wasn’t for me, but only because I’m extraordinarily stupid. Might tell you about that sometime)

The addiction I am talking about is the addiction to thinking. And yes, I think thinking and obsessing about our problems really does release dopamine in the brain. I don’t have any studies to back this up, but now that I’ve given up the nasty habit, so to speak, that’s what it feels like.

Think about it (haha, I’m enabling you, sorry): Can you stop thinking any time you want to? Can you control your thoughts? Sounds so impossible, right? You’ve come to identify with your thoughts so much, they’re an integral part of your being. But they are not. You are not your thoughts. Once you can see that, you’ve taken your most important step out of that prison. It’s a long way, though, and there’s a distinct lack of support groups, while almost all the self help books have been written by addicts. In any case, I wish you good luck on your journey!

(and to end it on a bright note: once you’ve quit your addiction, it’s no problem if you go back and think as much as you want, it’s not like alcohol that way. It’s just that you’ll find that you *want* to think a lot less than you thought you did. Hahaha)


Annoying Things #3: You Begin to Realize the Cost of Things You Do

When you get to the “state” commonly referred to as “enlightenment”, you will probably end up switching your habits around for quite a while before you settle into your new routine. It might not be anything drastic, but then again, it might.

For me, quite a few things changed. A real shocker was masturbation. I just stopped doing it. And I can’t start doing it anymore. Not because it’s wrong, not because it’s evil, it’s nothing like that. It’s just that the standard forms of pleasure have stopped doing it for me. I am now perfectly fine with never again having an orgasm for my entire life. I know that if I stroked that noodle now, all that would get me would be a brief explosion from my body that would be too much to take in all at once. ┬áThen I’d be left with a huge dip in energy that I’d notice for a week or two, which would keep me from enjoying life as I enjoy it now. Orgasm is quite expensive, it’s just that you don’t notice that if you’re caught up as much in your own mind as I was.

Another thing is food. While it becomes ridiculously delicious – no matter what the food, I am no longer a picky eater whatsoever, which is quite a radical change – you just notice a point when your body has had enough. Poof. No more will to eat. Yet it keeps being so delicious. I overate a bit yesterday because I wanted the sensations to last. And they lasted, but I no longer… “enjoyed” them. Had a bad feeling in my tummy the rest of the day.

Another thing I ended up quitting was sugary stuff. I had three mini mars bars two days ago and after the first one I’d already realized I shouldn’t be eating them. I ignored the feeling, stupid as I was, and reaped the “rewards”. I noticed the sugar high – something I never noticed before from eating things like these – and it was not pleasant. It was a burst of physical energy that felt artificial and forced and the comedown was about 4 hours of feeling slightly tired, which felt about as unpleasant as the initial high.

Last thing I’ll mention here: I started sleeping on the floor because I noticed the super soft bed I’d been using was bad for my back. I also sit up or stand up straight now all the time. I just can’t help it anymore.

To put it bluntly: You realize all the things you’ve been doing that were bad for you and since you’re suddenly in complete and utter control of yourself, you’ll probably stop doing them. To test this hypothesis of control, I went out barefoot in the snow yesterday. I enjoyed it. The only reason why I decided to go back in was because I did not want my feet to freeze off, since I enjoy having them. I know how the Fakirs in India do their thing now – seems very simple, actually. I just don’t see any point in why they feel they have to prove these things to anyone… but hey, different strokes, right?


Video Games

I like video games. In fact, I think of them as enlightened entertainment. Why? Because they teach you everything you need. Of course, everything else also teaches you everything you need, but a lot more people listen to video games than they do to dusty old preachers at church.

What can you learn from video games?

They are not real. That is why they will teach you about life. As soon as you understand video games, you will understand yourself. You see, nothing you do in a video game ultimately matters. It is only form. You are given a figure, usually, a character. In most video games, you can make your character better, stronger. You can increase your character, you can level up bars and numbers. Just like yourself in life when you go to the gym.

Why do you do these things? To save the princess! To kill the monster! Video games give you a goal, a very defined goal, in fact. This is something a lot of people struggle with in their own life. And in video games you have it, clear as day.

Together with your goal, you are also gifted with the awareness that you are still playing something that is, ultimately, only a game. No matter how attached you will grow to your character or how much you want to beat the final boss, you will still know that in the end, whether or not you succeed is meaningless. For all the difference it does, you could play Mario by just running left and right forever, never getting past the first green pipe. All the frustration you get when you die in a tough spot is ultimately something you decided on yourself when you picked up the game.

In truth, the goal in the game does not matter. What you do in the game does not matter. So why play video games? To enjoy the moment, of course, always the moment.

And that’s all you ever really wanted, even if it’s hard to see.


The Cosmic Joke

I just realized why it’s called the cosmic joke.

It’s because it’s the best joke in the universe. You see, an ordinary joke, it stops being funny once you have it explained to you.

The same is true for the cosmic joke. Except, by definition, it can never be explained.

And so it continues being funny, on, and on, and into forever.

Now if that isn’t incentive enough for all of you comedians out there to get into the whole enlightenment schtick, then I don’t know what is!


Success at Failure

When whatever “happened” to me… “happened”, I wasn’t in a good place. There were huge ups and downs and I tried so hard to cope. I did not understand what was going on around me. Why was I being blamed for things that happened even though I gave my all to please? Was I broken? Was there something wrong with me? Was I insane? Why could I not live up to expectations? Why did I not seem to have all that many expectations? All I wanted was to be treated in a friendly way by someone I loved.

Turns out that yes, that is too much to ask. Yes, I was not entitled to it. Yes, I had a mental ailment. But I thought it was normal. Everyone thinks it is normal. Everyone learns that they are supposed to have expectations, wants, and goals, and that there would have to be something wrong with you if you have no ambition. Because, after all, if you have nothing you want to do, then you will get bored, right? And oh, how horrible a thing boredom is. After all, if you’re bored, you’re alone with yourself with nothing to distract you, right? How could you possibly stand that?

What happened to me was a failure. Failure to keep myself occupied. Failure of ambition. Failure at self. I failed on a basic level to be what humans think they are supposed to be. And in that failure, I found out who I really was. Because once everything is stripped away, there lies something that nobody expects. At the bottom of it all, when all is said and done and there’s nothing left on the outside to keep you occupied, to think about, to do, to define yourself with – once all of that is gone, there is still “something” left. There is still you.

I was still there. I am still here. I really am. And I am no longer confused or afraid that I might not be.

And yet I still play video games. How about that, huh?


Advantages #2: You Can Stop Taking Your ADD Pills

I guess this will be a short one, since the information is already in the title. I was diagnosed with ADD. I got pills for it. First Ritalin, then Concerta (long-acting version of the same stuff) – they helped, especially in the beginning. They stopped my caffeine addiction. But, gradually, I needed more and more of them. In the end, I had maxed out my prescription dosage and my short attention span was back to where it started.

Today, I stopped taking my pills. I no longer notice a difference.

Is ADD a symptom of awakening? No idea. I like to think so.


Annoying Things #2: Your Sense of Humor Goes to Shit

To someone who used to define himself by how funny he was, this would’ve been a scary proposition. I used to crack so many jokes. I used to try and turn everything into a joke. I was so sarcastic, tried so hard to be weird and subversive. I always had a smile on my face, ready to turn into raucous laughter the moment someone was about to finish a joke. I was always the one to laugh before the punchline.

I am a lot less frantically funny these days. I haven’t forced a single joke. I don’t laugh as much, but I always… smile, though not even enough for it to show on my face. I thought they said “enlightened” people were raucously funny. “We’re” not. “We’re” just jolly.

When I do laugh, it’s about something stupid and small. Yesterday, when I went to bed (okay, I no longer go to bed, I sleep on the floor. It’s more… comfy?), I turned off the lights. Then I realized I still had my glasses on. And I turned on the lights again to place my glasses somewhere. When I realized what I was doing I broke down on the floor, laughing for about a minute. And when I then turned off the light again, I continued laughing and laughing as if this was the funniest thing in the universe.

Because it was.