Uluru

For my 27th birthday, tomorrow, I was given a trip to Ayers Rock. Today started quickly, at 6am sharp. Took a tram, then a bus then a plane, and was here by 12.30pm. Was shocked by the red earth, serene air and discontent of local homo sapiens.

It was nice to listen to a podcast on the airplane with my noise-cancelling headphones. I’m convinced that is the best thing to do on an airplane in economy class. Audiobooks can be a bit heavy and it’s hard to enjoy music. A good podcast can make the time fly by though, so to speak.

I’ve been noticing energy a lot lately. Back in Melbourne I’d notice huge differences in peoples’ energies. In the CBD people were more defensive but humble. In Hawthorn people were less guarded but it felt like everyone was pushing on each other a lot more, treading much more heavily. That’s what money does. It bolsters your sense of self relative to others.

I’ve been doing a lot of positive and useful thinking lately. It’s hard to say which one is better. It’s made being in the CBD as light as a feather. In Hawthorn that fledgling energy was getting steamrolled by egos at first. In time though and with continual thinking practise that energy become more resilient as well as calibrated. I often believe that I’m the only one within a four block radius walking around with a resilient smile-for-no-reason. Usually the only smiles that survive are smiles of a newly-laden ego or beautiful person but practise can do amazing things for subjective reality. Some day my inner work will get deep enough to look past these cynical perceptions and abide there as well.

Back to the town of Yulara. In Australia’s red centre. Part of me knew this would be Australia’s soul. It was either that or the heart. After a little deliberation though Canberra is the heart because it transmits socialist policies. Sydney is the brain and Melbourne is the estrogen-production centre. A closer look suggests that maybe Australia has a single body and two coexisting souls: one old and one new. Ah, the world of projected meaning is a colourful one. It doesn’t get much more meaningful than a giant monolith in the flat centre of one’s island nation though. It feels like an indelible assertion of Australia’s anthropological history. And yes, its geological history.

Luckily Ayers Rock is in the middle of no where and it’s greatest value seems to be in tourism, so it’s relatively safe from capitalism for now. I wonder how much value of precious metals hidden underneath it would begin the conversation of blowing part of it up. I’d say $1 billion in deposits underneath would be enough to start a serious movement from the right. I used to think The Great Barrier Reef was off-limits for sentimental reasons, how silly of me.

I have yet to visit Ayers Rock despite being here. Even though I’m in the closest possible place the cheapest bus ride is about $80 and I have $100 in the bank. I just paid $25 for a pizza for lunch. Luckily I brought some meals from home and they have a microwave. I must visit tomorrow for my birthday. It’s going to be so huge.

It’s nice to be back out in the outback. I did a 6 week solo drive around Australia once and I’ve never been the same since. These expansive landscapes feel burnt into my soul. Walking around these dry red soils and powder-green shrubs. Air as fresh as can be. Horizon impossibly wide. Blue sky seeming to reach ever higher above, in waves. Night time is a whole different thing.

I’m struck by how tired I am. And how grumpy some people seem to be; tourists and locals alike. And the single, sensuous moan that just came from the room I share an outside table with. Lost my train of thought.

Went for a walk around town before. It’s dizzying; the Outback. There’s one or two circular roads, a resort, a few amenities and a highway. It’s all put together and feels that way. You can’t see very far because the trees rise just slightly above head height.

Some of the locals are tired of your shit already. Proactively. And retroactively if possible. I’m surprised how many Asians there are even if it’s just a few. There’s probably more Dutch people. And more aboriginals still. I feel most akin to the young astronomer. He’s Australian and about my age. I love the zoomed out perspective on life that abides. For some of us life is a journey to zoom out as much as possible, in order to know the mind of God. I like to zoom out a little less far out than that. There’s an irony to his dark and hopelessly out of place exhibition room. Something about the brain waves in the room just don’t match the brain waves outside. There’s a certain tension in the air, even outside the astronomy room. I think it’s white culture trying to maintain itself in this vast land which is too remote to accept its city-borne ideas. The scientific revolution occurred in rarefied rooms in cities in Europe.

Aboriginal artwork. From what kind of soul does this pour forth? What type of thinking? It’s absolutely nothing like Western art. If I did a drawing it would be intelligible to English language. Aboriginal paintings largely are not. And yet if I wanted to make a painting of 75% emotion and 25% nature, it would look something like an aboriginal painting. It suggests waves and vibrations. The primacy of colour. Inter-connectedness, yet intelligible on the level of a story or symbol. Very heady stuff.

Some artworks are notably more cerebral than others. If I were aboriginal mine would be trying to explain some hidden truth or meaning. Aboriginals have myths and natural knowledge, that’s where I would shine. It’s remarkable that modern ideas go down just as smooth as faith-based ideas – it’s all the same in some ways. Equally distasteful to many people. I’d be particularly hostile to the white man as well. I’d take one look at the Australian way of life and think it was a better deal for me to live away from the cities. Aboriginal people can never truly get ahead in white mens’ cities, because it’s all just a game and they’re stigmatised. You can’t play the game well while you’re still holding onto something either. Outside of cities, where intersubjective realities are perpetuated and underpinned by institutions, there’s something called serenity. No brain waves, pollution and pheromones in the air. I wonder how many generations until the pain goes away though.

There’s a slowness here. Kind of in the air but much deeper than that. It’s not cut out for the rigours of the globalised institutions such as standardised time or self-aggrandisement. I’m inclined to say that it just wants to chill and trip balls. It’s all about the land. About the story. The mythos is palpable, maybe it’s that red soil evoking strange feelings. I wonder if it were so when homo sapiens first arrived here. What an incredible time that must have been to truly see a continent anew. Without any significant research or familiarity with aboriginal lore, I confidently state that this event is the hidden meaning behind many aboriginal myths.

It’s a curious thing being in the Australian desert. People could be ten metres or ten kilometres away and it always feels the same. It always feels as if “everyone” is just behind the nearest bushes or over the horizon. All around you though. If you looked from a plane though you might think “that guy is in the middle of the desert”. It’s as if distance doesn’t have the same meaning here.

A gigantic, willowy blonde woman just walked past. Smoothing out the front of her hoody to reveal an incongruously flat chest. Tie-dye pants bespeaking a relatively wide set vagina. Nothing wrong with that. You often find strange looking European people in the outback. I myself came here near the crescendo of my body-dysmorphia. “Who is that weirdo observing me behind that laptop?” She seemed to be thinking. I’ve decided that women will constantly be giving these unseemly rejecting vibes no matter how fine of a man you are. And I am a fine man if you value the Western Intellectual Tradition or anxiety. It’s annoying but that’s what it’s supposed to be. You’re never supposed to feel confident in your value for some reason, not in general society anyway. People only want you to feel as confident as you’re worth by society’s standards. The best response I’ve come up with is to smile and try to make a habit of that. It somehow flips the script and then when that softens their stance you quickly mutter to yourself “yeah that’s right bitch it’s never going to happen because of that gesture you did before, better think twice about doing it next time”. Then walk off slightly better off than you would have been without my advice. Not better off as you would be if you weren’t so neurotic or sensitive though mind you. I’ve been wondering whether it’s like a way of compensating for putting out at other times. Shaky hypothesis but plausible in my opinion. Maybe it’s that men are like a light switch and women are like a volume knob. Yes in a sense, but it’s almost as if that same gesture can mean many things though, just the same as there are different sorts of smiles. It’s unintelligible though and I think that’s the point. I honestly think women evolved to be unpredictable and not make sense because there is a psychological power in it that’s disarming. It’s part of a suite of psychological traits designed to compensate for their weaker bodies. Sun Tzu would approve.

It’s getting greyer, approaching 5.30pm. Entering the cold part of the year. This post hasn’t been as naturalistically poetic as I wanted. That’s what I get for writing in the hotel grounds and using Facebook after my stroll though. I’ll need to find a good spot out away from the resort. The ground is so red and dusty though and I doubt there will be any benches. Walking away from this town seems foreboding. I have literally no idea if there will be a fence or what the deal with that is (that does not sound compelling). It’s like there will never be a start to where I’m trying to get to. Wherever I walk it will always feel like Yulara is following me.

Red is a colour which arouses emotion, passion to be precise. Blue is what makes it bearable. Green is what makes it liveable. The night is deafening out here, save for the yellow moon and stars intuitively known by our psyches. The celestia doesn’t light the ground though – that remains blacker than you can imagine. Light is ebbing away now. Death before life springs forth victorious, afresh. Vivid again. A new year also to those who are patient.

Resistance and Plateaus

A mastery path has its own inherent value. To speak only of the literal; it is the most straightforward way to be a leader in a field or to create something of superior quality. It will maximise the total time spent in flow state throughout your life. To speak more intuitively, however, we all sense that it involves a subtle deepening of one’s character, a shift in one’s core identity.

In the human experience, mastering a skillset offers unique challenges and benefits. I tend to see it like a game that all humans (and perhaps other animals too) can play. It has a private but also a public component. It’s an important thread in the art of living.

Part of the reason that it’s so valuable is that it exercises various character strengths as well as the skillset itself. It presents an opportunity for “self-mastery”, presenting a unique opportunity to become something bigger and stronger inside. Something more actualised and simultaneously more wise and grounded. Certainly more confident and apt to be a leader.

mastery curveTo my great anguish, I’ve always been a jack of all trades yet a master of none. Often telling people that I’m more of a “generalist”. Don’t misunderstand me: there is value in being a generalist, especially for a writer. There are serious drawbacks to only ever being a generalist in life though.

I’d like to share a little story about the career path I’m currently on since it pertains to the mastery path and I feel that it will be instructive.

I’ve been working with Salesforce for almost exactly 1 year. It pays the bills and I’m even self-employed which is cool. I’m just starting to get to a point of adeptness. Recently though, for a few weeks, I had this feeling in my gut. I just wanted to change to something else. I wanted to be a programmer instead for various reasons.

Salesforce seemed boring and trivial, made-up, arbitrary. Not worthy of my intellectual energy. I felt useless at work and unmotivated. Not built for it. I very nearly gave up, and probably would have if I didn’t need to pay the bills.

What I have since realised though is that this was a plateau (the longest plateau I’ve ever seen mind you). In The War of Art, Steven Pressfield defines something called “resistance”. Resistance is a self-defeating, emotional hindrance to stop you doing what will lift you higher. My depressed phase turned out to be resistance: because I’ve come bursting out the other side, leaving it all behind. Importantly, I am once again excited about working with Salesforce and continuing to improve. I feel more competent than ever (which is what makes it a plateau).

If I had followed those instincts to change because I was getting bored with something I was good at, then I would have lost out on a crucial opportunity. I’ve found the single most rewarding thing has been a sense of deepening of character and self-efficacy. There’s a deep and abiding sense of satisfaction that wasn’t there before, and it’s as if nothing could ever take it away. All this by simply continuing to work and riding out that plateau.

There may come a time where you feel like giving up on your path, for whatever reason. I don’t deny that sometimes changing course is the best course of action. I’m a huge advocate of, in the long run, spending your time doing what you enjoy most. As well as maximising happiness, this is in large part because you’re more likely to stay with it and ultimately reap the benefits of reaching a high level of proficiency. I just want you to understand from my story that there is inherent value in riding out a plateau, regardless of the skillset.

The Black Belt Blueprint

50faec9f3f79b79713428d6924fd2186

This book was eminently readable and touched on a lot of ground without wasting its breath, so to speak.

Reading it has shown me a lot of hidden meaning in Brazilian Jiu Jitsu that I wouldn’t have known otherwise. For example the more spiritual aspects of it such as mindfulness during grappling or using BJJ to master life in general.

This has dramatically increased my interest in the art because it’s shown me that there is an intellectualism of it beyond simply showing up to train. Thus it’s given me something to think about while training.

It’s shown me overarching principles of BJJ and a three-part strategy for improving based on conditioning, concepts and techniques. As a white belt, I look forward to putting into practice his advice of mastering one sequence (perhaps pulling guard followed by a triangle). The concept I will focus on first is remembering to breathe properly whilst grappling.

It was a quick read but you can’t really expect a martial arts book to be too heavy. It was particularly readable because it was so relatable due to the practice that I’ve done

The Paradoxes of Being a Single Male

At this moment I’m sitting in a bookshop cafe in central Melbourne. It’s my best effort at finding the most tranquil place within a 5km radius that one can work in. It’s barely tranquil at all, but at least other people are relatively quiet here as they go about their business.

This is a topic that’s not often spoken about. That is because the people who are apt to do so, single men, are discouraged in various ways. I don’t mean to complain, but I’m also not really in the mood to not express myself about it. Maybe drawing light onto it in public fashion will alleviate a few quanta of pain and resistance from my life.

The pain point is a simple thing. The sort of thing that would make most people shrug their shoulders and look at me askance. That’s how these conversations usually go when you’re an empath talking about perceptions, people have no idea what you’re talking about.

I’ll try to explain. Whenever I leave my apartment in central Melbourne I find myself surrounded by people, hundreds of them. There are many beautiful girls around. As natural as anything, my eyes are unconsciously drawn to attractive women, especially ones that I’ve never seen before. Lately I’ve been noticing that most often, as soon as I can sense there’s an attractive girl there they will do this reaction that really bothers me. It’s like a rejecting sort of gesture where they cover their breasts (even though I wasn’t looking at them) or touch their face as if I’m being unseemly. I hate that gesture. As I go about my day it feels like I’m copping dozens of rejections when I’m not really even doing anything. If I had a choice I wouldn’t want to be out of control like this, but I can’t help it.

Probably seems like I’m being overly sensitive to complain about a gesture. It’s true that I am a relatively sensitive, empathetic guy. I have a libido as well. And a fine eye for beauty. Can’t really change that.

I don’t recall this ever being a problem in the past. Feminist vibes were always what bothered me the most (by the way I am endlessly vindicated for that nowadays and it feels so good). Maybe it’s because I wasn’t noticing it, maybe it’s because society has changed or maybe it’s because I have changed so women respond to me differently. In any case, this is what’s bothering me lately.

I think I’m ok looking. 180cm, boyish features and better dressed than average. Probably a solid 5 out 10 all in all, 6 if you count the long hair, approaching 7 if I’m been working out a lot and wearing a suit. Have got an eccentric vibe going on which only appeals to old ladies. I try very hard to be the best Tom I can be though because it seems like just about the only factor that I have any control over.

I’ve tried to shift my mindset. Shift my behaviour. Tried to look more discreetly or not at all, that ends up feeling like unhealthy repression. Nothing works. I just can’t help creeping women out. I’ve tried to outsmart the system with mental gymnastics, the product of my ruminations, this doesn’t work at all because then you find yourself getting friendzoned. An irresistible suggestion to get your head back in the game. It’s not about mentality it seems, but what is it about then? Maybe it’s on the level of choices or an intersubjective plane. I’m currently writing this blog post partly to try and un-mire myself from this quagmire.

Having a girlfriend is the best thing on Earth at first. But “being out of the game” makes you soft which soon comes back to bite you in the ass. And there’s the pain and grief if you happen to break up. And what if one simply doesn’t want to have a girlfriend, because it just wouldn’t add to their happiness right now? You’re fucked, that’s what.

There’s the classic paradox of tattoos and edgy hairstyles attracting the girls that you’re attracted to, but they have clear drawbacks when trying to get by in other ways. Such as getting paid which ironically the same women go for in a few years time. Doing it all is an impossibility for most people. I happen to be one of the select few who have managed to get a university degree, good job/business that allows travel and have an edgy haircut (long hair). It does feel good I must say, but then the cause of pain simply transmutes into something else such as being the creep who’s doing it all.

The lion’s share of social pressure is to make sure you just never approach. It’s quite remarkable. Just to tuck your dick between your legs when you’re outside the house. Near everyone else is doing the same thing. But there’s also pressure coming from inside your heart not to live one long dry patch of a life. Not approaching and just using porn is the path of least resistance, but that leads to frustration and habitualised self-denial. See unhappiness. Not to mention the disappointment on the faces of women who seemed to want to be approached. Faces who I suspect would be instantly creeped out, covering their breasts and moving away if you had even a slight inkling to talk to her.

Having an attitude of being willing to approach is the worst of the worst. I’ve seen an old lady get up and move to the other end of the tram because I made small talk with a girl that seemed to be strongly inviting me to do so. Oh yes, a special and rarely seen intensity of disapproval is reserved for the man who is thinking of approaching a woman. Palpable. I suspect it’s something like the derision reserved for female promiscuity. It seems that strong human drives need particularly strong countervailing social forces to control them.

When your dick isn’t tucked neatly between your legs people can tell from a mile away, and you get treated like a creep with 10x the intensity. It makes you question everything. Most of all it makes you stifle that little voice that wants to talk to her and crawl back in line. It’s the greatest feeling in the world being above this social control, women even seem to accept you feeling good for a while afterwards, but not too long.

I honestly believe that it’s not ok to approach women in my country purely because I’ve been repeatedly conditioned to believe that. And yet paradoxically it’s clearly the thing to do, what men do. There’s nothing at all wrong with it. In theory it’s ok to approach because it’s only natural, but on the ground approaching is treated as taboo. Paradoxical.

Perhaps it’s apt to formulate a conclusion here: right or wrong, it’s socially taboo for a man to approach a woman, but a man sometimes ought to do it anyway as an expression of personal truth and freedom. This is consistent with principles of our liberalist society so long as he doesn’t unduly impinge on her freedoms. She has a right to not be harassed but simply approaching ought not to be considered harassment, harassment might happen a minute or two after being unequivocally told to leave. She ought not be physically impeded (she might have somewhere to be), but some casual physical contact is ok unless she says not to. This whole conclusion needs to be alloyed with the somewhat naturalistic, common-sense sentiment that boys will be boys and girls will be girls. This interaction is between the two of them and so long as it doesn’t break laws or unduly impinge on the freedom of others, third parties or society in general ought not impede two adults from interacting. On a humorous note I wonder if under this line of reasoning cockblocking would be considered properly unethical.

Anyway, you can shift your attention away from the game entirely. Not being interested in reproducing has low survival and reproductive value though so you get treated like a enuch. This is a life devoid of validation and I honestly find it incredibly difficult to do even for short periods of time. This is how I find myself simultaneously conditioned to be in the game and also to feel bad about it.

And then there’s the elephant in the room. Relationships. I can think of maybe half a dozen times in my whole life I’ve seen a middle aged guy looking happy as he walks around with his homely-looking wife. The times I did see it they smelled of spiritual-type love and transcendence. There’s an expectation of getting married and having kids by a certain age even if that’s not really what you want. I personally don’t feel any great desire to enter into a family any time soon, my drive is generally towards freedom and I suspect in turn a kind of creative actualisation.

What if what you want is just a casual relationship without the weight of society’s expectations? What is wrong with that? And what if (God forbid) you just want to hookup, because it scratches that itch and temporarily shifts you up Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Well then my friend, sounds like you are in the game and it sucks to be you.

There are undoubtedly other paradoxes involved. My point is this though: you can’t win. Or rather, you can’t expect to avoid the pain of social pressure and be happy as well. Although you can to a point, which is usually exactly where I find myself in life. I honestly wonder if sex robots, drugs or genetic reengineering can make this sweet spot a bit sweeter still.

“The problem is women… I’m just going to be gay”, I imagine some of you are saying. Very clever. Indeed, certain needs will be better met in doing so, but I’m convinced that any sensitive gay man will tell you there is greater pain in other areas, such as marginalisation.

“I’m just going to cut my dick off and live in a monastery”. I see the logic in that. However I would argue that it would have a net negative impact on overall well-being. It may be better to move to a monastery without cutting your dick off. Is this what you would want to do regardless though?

Sometimes I do feel happy. I feel validated. Then I leave the house and women smell it on me and simply won’t have it. Cue getting devalidated and treated like a creep. Any possible thing that can bring my state down happens. Validation never lasts long unless you’ve achieved it through courage and pain it seems, go figure. Unless you’re travelling, which seems to change things a little.

There are a few conclusions to be made here. The one I really want to internalise is the one that makes me literally not give a fuck what people think. The one that reassures me that what other people think, despite how real it seems to them and therefore also the empath sensing them, doesn’t have any bearing on me or my place in society.

Another is to be grateful because in the scheme of things this isn’t so bad. At least we’re not struggling for needs even more basic than love and sexual validation, such as oxygen or security.

Another is to not look so much for happiness in the opposite sex. I struggle with this so I’m not confident giving any epigrammatic advice. Let the development of ideas thus far speak for itself, perhaps as a cautionary tale. Bring it back to the basics though. The principles of happiness. Transcending the ego and societal planes of being.

Designer Minds

The notion that you can “choose” how to condition your mind has always appealed to me. For example if you embarked on a career in a caring profession then your brain would generally be firing differently than in a technical profession. Genetics plays a role as well though: mind is impacted by both nature and nurture.

I’ve always felt that majoring in finance has conditioned me to see things in terms of the wisest approach. The most profitable in terms of time and energy, as well as money. “Take the best course of action” has always been my motto. People will tell you that my pet hate is things being done “stupidly”. Of course, a genetic predisposition to this type of thinking probably led me to choose finance as well.

As someone in a technical career and with an interest in further developing my writing, it’s become clear that this type of thinking is no longer going to cut it. Sure it’s “smart” to be involved in these areas at this point in time. However, it’s not smart to not have a head in the clouds when solving technical problems is what pays the bills.

There’s a learning curve that spans novice, intern and junior. On this part of the journey you are basically told what to do, so you don’t need to be too switched on. However when you start getting paid and presumably offering real value, there’s an expectation that you don’t need to be directed and compartmentalised. You start having to take more responsibility. In the day to day you are expected to be a problem solver. At this point, I’ve found that financial-type thinking is inappropriate. Technical-type thinking must replace it.

Here is where I find myself. Being forced to recalibrate things on a very basic level in order to continue paying the bills. I have had a few ideas about how to make this transition to technical-mindedness.

Reframe your goals in appropriate terms. I made the mistake of framing my goals in terms of business and lifestyle success. This is strategic thinking. It weakens your value proposition by putting your head in the clouds. I’m constantly reframing my goals and still looking for the ideal “thing to write” which would lead to greatest value offered, job security, professional growth, employer/hirer satisfaction, happiness etc. Perhaps it’s a mistake to write anything down at all. This is an issue I grapple with on a near daily basis: to formulate (goals) or not to formulate?

Have a success model. My issue is that people felt that my head was in the clouds too much for them to rely on me to come up with technical solutions. It’s no wonder: my idea of success was travelling and getting paid passively, not grinding day in day out in IT professions. So I recalibrated by selecting a success model who has succeeded in this type of job. Who would completely crush it in what I’m getting paid to do. Succeeded in paying the bills and being highly sought after in the market. The sort of person who I call when I have technical problems because for whatever reason the buck seems to stops with them. This buck-stopping vibe I believe is the most psychologically desirable trait of a tech person. What is it? A proclivity towards solving technical problems.

I truly believe that the fundamental language of everything technical is mathematics. Mathematics has never been my strong suit. I used to be so smart that I solved maths problems in my own way intuitively, so never bothered to learn the proper mathematical methods. Then when it got harder in high school I just started hating it because I never learned how to follow the methods and it was apparently a pointless and mentally costly exercise. Mathematics appears to be the language of exactness, properties and rules that underpins everything technical. To engage in mathematical problem solving is to be knee deep in problems that need answering. Answers either work or they don’t. You could call someone to ask them the answer but then you probably shouldn’t be getting paid by someone else to solve their maths problems.

Thus, if you want to become more technical minded the solution is to condition your mind using mathematical-type problems. I will test this hypothesis this year as I embark on a regimen to become strong mathematically. So far I’ve found that it makes everything from science to IT to philosophy more intuitively graspable, and it also gives you a vibe that is psychologically reassuring to people that are paying for solutions. Ironically it also makes you stronger in just about any financial role.

Some Ideas on Metaphysics

54109432591607929.jpgI’m listening to an audiobook about modern philosophy and it’s got me thinking about the nature of reality. They’ve discussed Descartes, Locke and now Spinoza, to name a few. What I’m about to say may be well outdated by now in philosophical circles but I thought they were valid responses given what was being said, I’ll try to explain it in a way that’s meaningful to those who weren’t there when I was listening to it (which is everyone other than me).

Firstly, on dualism. Descartes was a dualist. It seems to me that dualism is the belief that there is mind and matter; and that’s the fundamental distinction. Mind includes soul. All of this is apart from God which to Descartes is like a third thing.

Part of the reason this debate about mind vs matter being a hard and fast distinction doesn’t ring true is because we inherently know that there is interplay between mind and matter. They affect each other. My suggestion is as follows. It is better not to think of it as mind and matter, but rather as mind, matter and organic matter. Organic matter is made of the same  subatomic particles as matter and is physical. However it is what we are made of and it is inherently in constant exchange with its environment. Deep down we feel that it’s true that we are in constant flux exchange with our environment rather than being purely mind within matter. Mind feels this quality of being porous, it’s not insular.

I like Spinoza’s pantheist thinking about how nature and God are one, and they are the entirety of everything. Thus everything in it such as mind or matter are both simply attributes of the greater whole. The way they spoke about mentality as being an attribute of the whole got me thinking about the nature of mentality.

Mentality, what is it? I think mentality is a lot like the workings of a computer. The things that make it special is that occurs on a conscious level. It is experienced. That is to say it occurs within the frame of consciousness. Importantly it is also subject to volition despite “having a mind of its own” sometimes.

In this way consciousness is seen as being like a new plane out of which attributes in nature spring and are entirely based upon. If consciousness ceased to exist then the mental would cease to exist in any vital way and become not more than machinations to connect dots and achieve ends.

If you made a computer out of organic matter and gave it consciousness of its own machinations and power/update/servicing needs, wouldn’t that be eerily like a little person? The thing that would give legitimacy to its plight would be if we could empathise through some kind of facial interface and it with us through sensory input. Then it could tell us what it was feeling and soon about 50% of people would be in favour of granting it more rights.

The Empty Side of Success

At the start of this year I set myself a few goals. Goals to change the look and feel of my life. Live in the city, have a scooter, grow long hair, have a good job. 
Two days ago I read some Tony Robbins and decided to fundamentally change my goals. As is typical of him, he advocated thinking about how we want to feel rather than what we want. There’s a wisdom to this because how we want to feel is a more stable and internal thing to aim for. I feel fundamentally different already. 
Then yesterday I ticked the last thing off my list of goals: get a scooter. This has put me in a position that I’ve never really been in: having nothing glaringly missing from my life. On queue though I started to fixate on completely new things I’ve never worried about before. Mostly looks. I was always generally happy with how I looked but now it seems like a crippling issue to have imperfections like mine, despite evidence the contrary,. 
If I take a step back this has taught me something important about human nature. We always focus on the greatest threats and opportunities in our life. When they become neutralised we fixate on the next one. Or perhaps a generalised malaise sets in. 
It’s funny how Tony Robbin’s philosophy also says that happiness is progress. At this moment I’m not sure what would make me happy. All I really want is better genes and it’s unlike me to say that. 
I truly believe that during Trump’s presidency there will be a filtering down of his personality to societal culture. Just like Obamas leadership led to insane levels of political correctness, I believe that Trump’s has led to an unhealthy obsessive compulsiveness or perfectionism. I’ve felt a judgement towards others deep inside that I’ve never felt before, and I can see other people feel it too. 
Part of me knows that meditation is the only real solution. I don’t yet see much point in giving or service. 
You may say “Tom what are you on about, you’re not particularly successful, why are you going on like a disillusioned billionaire or something”. You would be right to say that. The only response I can think of is that any improvement would be a matter of degree not nature. It would simply be amplifying the same feelings would it not? 
“Start a family Tom, that’s what’s missing”. I’ve never had any interest in doing that and I’m tentative of doing it just to mend a hole in my soul. That’s a recipe for an unhappy late life in my opinion, it should be done positively as an expression of love. It’s true that lately I’ve been having more options – but my stock is only going to go up isn’t it? Assuming I get out of this personal crisis anyway (would you call this existential?). 
I still have goals, including the important one of mastering something. So it’s not like I lack direction or anything. It just now feels like they won’t fulfill me, only provide marginal benefits. 
When you do the Tony Robbins thing and shift the focus of your goals to your own emotional reality pertaining to different areas of your life, you produce a list of sentiments like “I want to feel more grounded”. This can all basically be simplified to “I want to be happy”. I never understood why people made that their one and only thing to aim for but I do now. 
Searching for happiness has the benefit of being a singular goal, there’s even books about it, a science to it. I think it’s a noble question once you’ve sorted out some practical things but in a sense it’s self-defeating by it’s very nature because it aligns all the stars in your soul towards a concept.