Lost in Darkness

An excerpt from the fictional tales of The Wandering Monk.

When I think of the Garden of Eden, I don’t think of man’s expulsion as physical, but perception based. In other words, man remained in the general proximity but began interpreting his surroundings as unpleasant, seeing the good as gross. And likewise, man’s entrance into Heaven is the realignment of his perception, seeing only good.

Biblically then, the teachings of Jesus are the light by which man finds his way back to paradise. By abandoning brutish negativity and adopting limitless forgiveness, man releases his grip on darkness and opens his heart to the light. Eden surrounds, but man can only appreciate this when he’s open to receive.

There are those that walk a resplendent earth with an open heart and those that crawl upon a desolate rock, closed-off to the beauty. Heaven is here, but so is Hell. We choose our experience by the love and acceptance we maintain within.

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Ride the Slide

If I think of life as a dangerous experience, then I’m awarded with excitement. The drawback to this perspective is the potential for anxiety. But if I’m unable to amuse myself in any other way, fear is a great cure for boredom.

If I think of life as a peaceful experience, then I’m awarded with ease. The drawback to this perspective is the potential for boredom. But as long as I have a hobby or creative pursuit, I’ll have something to keep me busy.

If life is a simulation, we might readily select the dangerous experience option. Boredom is the enemy of an eternal being. Any game that becomes boring becomes unplayable. But whether the danger is real or simply perceived is a different question.

So unless we cultivate in ourselvelf the ability to self-amuse with the mundane, then we are truly getting what we wish for when the intensity is turned up high. A tranquil life requires the capacity to derive joy from stillness (like meditation for instance).

There’s an imbalance, an underlying dissatisfaction to life, because that is exactly what we want. Every story or game has something “wrong” that requires resolution. We don’t want to cure the imbalance but simply ride the slide it creates.

Staying Current

People are always referring to an ancient primitive past, yet it’s possible no such time ever existed. In my mind I tend to allow for the possibility of Last Thursdayism. Perhaps existence began only a few days ago. Who knows if memories haven’t been implanted and artifacts faked.

In dreams for instance, we regularly create scenes in which backstories are implied and objects are placed as if they’ve always been there. Maybe life is but a dream. Or perhaps it’s a computer simulation. Either way, we can easily see that manufactured history is readily relatable.

Consequently, I don’t worry about the past (or future). It might be fiction. Nor do I buy into the idea that I’m comprised of components handed down from a primeval era as if my current makeup is unsuited for modern ways. By whatever method I’ve been manufactured, I’m appropriate for the moment I’m in.

What this open-mindedness grants me is peace-of-mind. Truth resides in a maze that never ends, whereas simple satisfying answers keep the mind from spiraling out of control. It seems counter-intuitive anchoring myself to a nebulous idea, yet within this mist I’ve found a firmer foundation.

Prior Art

Sometimes I’ll be standing there and the realization will hit me: this isn’t real. In that moment I accept the falseness of my situation — not in a bad way, I simply see myself as an actor on a stage performing my part. From there I usually continue with whatever I was doing, losing myself back into the scene.

It does feel strange to consider the artificial nature of existence. It’s off-putting in a way, but thankfully that odd feeling doesn’t last for long. It’s much better than the alternative of anxiety. Better to live in a manufactured environment than a randomly occurring wilderness where chance determines fate.

No thanks. I tried living that way, I really did. I suppose it was thrilling to think everything was out of my control, that anything could happen to me at any time, that I was a fallen leaf lost in a rushing stream, floating as long as I could maintain my balance. Too thrilling though, so I abandoned the idea.

Now I’m in on the joke. Shh! Don’t spoil it for those that want to maintain it till the end. I’m kidding of course — it’s difficult to maintain awareness of the mirage as we’re bombarded by the flashing lights before us. Bursts of insight do nothing, it takes an all-out effort. But that’s not the point anyway.

The point is to redefine reality. Remap its origin. We want to be here, in this game of pretend, playing along and having our fun. Just don’t take the game too seriously — it’s a lighthearted frolic. In costume playing a role, we need only watch as the story unfolds, or perhaps we throw in some improv. Enjoy.

Building Structures

You can destroy, rip apart, demolish. But you can’t typically look back at the results in a pleasing way. You see a pitted, scarred landscape. Whereas if you build, and beautifully so, you can look back and be pleased.

In a particular world in Minecraft for instance, I was surveying a landscape that suffered repeated TNT explosions, possibly in the hundreds. It was within a world where some buildings were also warped out of their original shape from random additions. In other words, the world was a mess.

I spent some time trying to fix it up but I could only do so much. What can you do when a preschooler learns about the power of TNT? Let him have his fun I say, it was his world anyway. Eventually though, we should seek a maturity in which we prefer to build bridges rather than destroy them.

Whereas there’s another world I built that I don’t allow anyone else in, called Richtopia. It includes a large pirate ship, an underwater submarine, an ocean-floor base, several mansions, coastal property, an airplane, pyramids, a redstone laboratory in the desert, and of course Sky City, with its famed multi-story glass hotel. I look back on that world with fond remembrance and a bit of pride.

I never much cared for the idea of building a legacy, a monument that would last past my lifetime. I still don’t, but I can at least see that having something significant to look back upon in my old age would be kinda neat. I built that, I’d be able to say. Whereas I most certainly don’t want to look back and say, I laid waste to that.

Childlike Delight

The disciples came unto Jesus, saying, “Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven?”

Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, and said, “Verily I say unto you, except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

What’s the difference between a child and an adult? An adult believes himself in control, tasked with full responsibility for his own well-being, believing himself knowledgeable and experienced in the ways of the world. Whereas a child believes he’s not in charge, has no responsibility but to play, and is always looking to extend the fun-times. A child knows he doesn’t know everything.

The difference between a child and an adult is the seriousness in which each plays. An adult simply loses the variety and levity in his playtime, selecting narrowly focused games while wearing the same costume daily. The adult imposes severe limits on his abilities and the available outcomes. The adult attempts to maintain a strictly logical course of events. The adult thinks getting to the end is the point and rushes accordingly.

To be as a child, is to be playful, unrestrained by self-imposed boundaries, freely imagining the best to come. It’s to know there’s no actual end-goal but the act of play itself. To be as a child is to realize one’s lack of control and overall ignorance within the world — to exist despite one’s feebleness, thankful for being well-cared for. To be as a child is to be inclusive of others, inviting them to play, sharing the fun. It’s to extract enjoyment from each activity and interaction, to smile and laugh.

Modern Metaphor

A metaphor only works when we can relate to what’s being compared. This is why many of us in the modern world can’t relate to ancient spiritual teachings. The messages may be true, but the metaphors are meaningless. This was my problem until I stumbled onto an updated metaphor, simulation-theory, that says existence is comprised of a computer program in which everything is mere flickering pixels. For me at least, this modern metaphor makes sense.

People that propose simulation-theory don’t always tout it as a spiritual idea, but at its core, it most certainly is. Like any religion, it can provide a comforting backstory for our earthly existence, it can explain different phenomena in our surroundings, and it can be used to construct meaning for ourselves, allowing us to find fulfilling roles within an otherwise meaningless world.

The funny thing is, once I began to embrace the concept of virtuality, all the ancient spiritual stuff started making sense. I now have a working metaphor by which I can relate to what they were saying. Aha! As someone that could not previously grasp spirituality in any form, I can tell you that the before and after is remarkable. The answers were there, I just didn’t get it.

What all these teachings are trying to say, from ancient to new-age, is to be your authentic self, play the role of you but without the fear. The “you” shrouded in anxiety is a selfish beast that feels besieged by danger, thus ready to lash out. But the actual you is a character in a game that’s here to fulfill his role with dignity and grace. The role of you has already been written, just play along.

A game without obstacles isn’t worth playing. So in life, we really do want problems to solve. The trick is in embracing those problems, not lamenting their existence. Furthermore, we get to pick from a menu of options. Whatever issue we focus on becomes ours. We don’t necessarily have to accept every problem that crosses our path — we can pick some while ignoring others, or at least focus on the aspects we prefer.

Now, do unenlightened anxious people distort religion due to their fear and feelings of lack? Yes. There’s no limit to what a confused mind might manifest. So religion can certainly suffer from corruption, which is why it might be good to start anew every once in awhile. Religions are simply collections of ideas that remind us we have nothing to fear. With an appropriate religion tailored to our tastes, our minds are able to rest upon answers that satisfy our existential angst.