Story Mode

In pretend-play, we can imagine ourself as a single-character hero besieged by an army of one-dimensional villains. When we get tired of winning all the time, we might begin to explore our own character, perhaps sending in some tougher foes. Maybe this time our hero struggles to win or maybe loses a few, only to come back more powerful than ever. Eventually, we might even start exploring the depths of our opponents. Maybe they had reasons to attack, maybe they had their own struggles. Perhaps we might begin to see commonality, teaming up to defeat an even greater enemy. Or maybe we’ll see the futility in fighting and begin to construct a grand society.

As we move along a spiritual path, it’s said that we eventually drop the extreme focus we have on ourself. Instead of only seeing the lone protagonist, we start seeing beyond. Instead of seeing those we interact with as pure good or pure evil, we see nuance. During this time, we believe ourself to be a lone actor playing as a single character. As we move along the path, we notice there’s too much synchrony, things fit together too well to be the random interaction of independent characters. We realize that there must be an omniscient narrator holding the story together.

Then as we proceed further, we come to the understanding that we are the omniscient narrator, or at least some facet of a greater being. At this point we realize the story-like nature of existence with its plethora of story arcs. As we proceed on the spiritual path, the story that surrounds becomes more natural to act within. Whereas we used to fight against the plot, we now flow, appreciating the play. What’s more, the drama we witness lessens to match our gentling temperament. Other characters become multidimensional while adding flavor to the narrative.

When we play pretend, we usually know it’s just for fun. Taking things too seriously is the best way to spoil that fun. Likewise, when we take life too seriously, we spoil our fun. The spiritual path is no grander thing than this: to realize the lighthearted nature of existence. And once aware, we’re to play out our role, enjoying the entire experience.


Stuck on Start

It’s odd that self-exploration is a thing. We literally explore every aspect of ourselves. What’s it like to be human? How does this feel? Why does it feel that way? How do I control this crazy contraption? Why am I thinking these thoughts? How do I better align with my circumstances?

We’re not immersed in the game of life, we’re still stuck staring at the piece we’re playing as. Why is it this color? Why this shape? What moves can I make? What effect do other players’ pieces have? Is it my turn? Can I go yet? It’s strange to feel like you’re still on start, waiting for the opportunity to begin.

But we don’t want to mess up, do we? We have to find our groove though. Just move forward and let the chips fall where they may. Yet we’ve no idea what to do with ourself, no direction in which to head. Although, a game is a simple affair, just rolling dice and proceeding on a preset path. Just take your turn, move forward one space at a time.

I suppose that’s all we can do, move ahead one step at a time. But it’s not enough to mechanically move, we must lose ourself in the game’s narrative, pretending we’ve got a vested interest in our progress. It’s just a lighthearted investment though, like any game of pretend, we simply perform as our character.

P.S. Yet who’s to say humanness isn’t a path in and of itself? Traveling the far reaches of the globe or traveling the far reaches of the mind, it’s all exploration, an activity to occupy our attention. All this time you’ve imagined yourself stuck on start, but you’ve been playing all along, the inner mystery is just part of the fun.

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.

Reference Librarian

When I was a software developer, I’d often get stumped by programming problems. I would typically go to programming forums in order to find detailed information about how to implement a particular algorithm or feature. I’d search through the message-boards until finding a question relevant to my own, then I’d read through the solutions shared by other programmers. And chances were, if I had a question, someone else did too. And if I couldn’t find a relevant question, I knew I was barking up the wrong tree. In all those years I never had to post my own question.

It was the forums in which I found implementation details, but that’s not where the overall architecture of the program came from. For whatever reason, I just knew how to layout the program’s structure. And when I didn’t know, I took a break until the answer came to me, sometimes while showering or doing something else unrelated to programming. There was some source, some reference librarian, that my mind seemed to contact when I had a complicated question. During this time-period I had many “Aha moments”.

When I quit professional programming a number of years ago, I swapped programming problems for philosophical ones. The funny thing is, that this blog became my forum of sorts. I’d have a question and then I’d post a solution. I didn’t know the answer beforehand, I just seemed to transcribe from a source beyond myself. Even today I’ll often look back at old posts of mine to check something. In other words, I’ve created an archive of philosophical solutions suited just for me. And similarly, during this time-period I’ve experienced a lot of “Aha moments” in which spiritually complicated architecture came to light.

With my wondering, I signal that a question needs answering, then a reference librarian of sorts does a quick bit of research and gets back to me with a possible solution. But who is this reference librarian? Why do I seem to conjure satisfactory answers to my questions? And I also notice that other people’s solutions are often similar to my own, implying a common source. To me at least, this phenomenon is consistent with the idea that individuals are mere shards of a fractured creator. There really does seem to be a “collective unconscious” underlying humanity from which we all draw our inspiration.

In interviews, creative people typically balk at the question, “So where do you get your ideas?” Nobody really knows, do they. Essentially, notions just pop into our head. And they’re not random either, they’re tailored to our roles. Previously I received programming insights, now it’s philosophical/spiritual ones. An artist is imbued with the vision it’ll take to craft his masterpiece. A novelist receives an unfolding story within her mind. A craftsman feels his way to a finished product. It just comes to us, the blueprint of our success — all we have to do is listen.

Sweet Release

There’s a role we’re assigned to play and we know this because we each have preset preferences guiding our path. Our job is to be this character, following his inclinations at each fork. Where we get tripped up, is when we don’t trust the script and we’re too afraid to follow the prescribed path.

When we lack trust, we get anxious, we get irritable, we freeze, and sometimes we lash out from feeling cornered. We also become terribly selfish, grabbing and hoarding whatever we can for fear of losing it. Yet this nervous beast is not our authentic self, it’s merely the result of resisting our preferences.

Imagine needing to use the toilet really badly, but you hold it in. You’re obviously going to have an uncomfortable time at whatever event you’re attending. You’ll be preoccupied with pee or poop, fecally fixated, everything underlined with urine. But the moment you obtain sweet release upon that golden throne, you’re okay, it’s back to the buffet.

So in life, we must release the pent-up fear we’re harboring. We must respect and align with the path before us. To do this, we must develop a belief system that supports fearlessness. We must believe that life has our best interests at heart. We must reject any idea of randomness, replacing it with a pattern of positivity. We must see life as a party in which we’re all honored guests.

Path Finding

I sometimes hear, “Follow your fear”. But words are messy. I think it should be: Embark on your adventure. In other words, follow a path that fills you with trepidation at first, yet has the potential for greatness. For instance, I’m afraid of heights, but this doesn’t mean my destiny deals with hot-air balloons — that’s not a win-win payoff for me. So instead think, what’s the best-case scenario down this somewhat scary path — does it sound awesome? No? — then that’s not your path. Would the ideal outcome fill me with delight? Yes? — then that’s your path.

The only way we know we care about something is if it stirs something inside us. When following our path, we should use nervousness as evidence that we’re heading in the right direction. It means we care about the topic. We mustn’t use it as an excuse to retreat, but as confirmation to continue. And again, we’ll know it’s the right path because the optimal result is something we really want. If we can’t imagine an optimal result, then we won’t appreciate that path and should pursue another instead.

How do we know the outcome will work out in the end? To put it plainly, life is a fulfillment generator. It’s a video-game/movie/simulation. We know this because people’s dreams readily do come true — we can simply look around. The world contains global super-stars, the rich and famous, YouTube celebrities, renowned TV chefs, professional-gaming champions, great inventors, heroes of all sorts, titans of industry, and lovers with their love-stories. And just think about how little we’ve done to ensure our own survival or success — there’s obviously something outside ourselves that maintains the narrative.

Is it mere luck we’re still alive? How have we personally avoided countless diseases, random accidents, murderous crimes, global catastrophes, violent weather, deadly drowning, etc, etc? By our training, preparation, and diligence? Ha. We’ve never been solely responsible for our own survival. But what about all those people that die everyday!? That’s their path, not ours. We must concentrate on our own path — if it happens to include the welfare of all humanity, that’s great — but if it doesn’t, that’s great too.

Logical Magic

Even though I now believe in magic, I’m still bound by logic. And to remain logically consistent, I must see the world in a way that allows for magical manifestation. Being technologically-minded, simulation-theory was the easiest entry point. If the world is only a simulation, a virtual experience, then magic is perfectly possible. Sprites can blip in and out of scenes while coordinates can be instantly updated.

Focus and intent are the interface to this app. Whatever we wish, good or bad, comes into our life. The program may offer suggestions in the form of stimuli, yet it’s our reaction that determines an ultimate form. For example: is it a passing pain, or a deadly disease. Is the sound something scary or merely the melodic wind.

Yet the best games aren’t easy to figure out — they take time and practice. It’s not as simple as saying “I wish…”. Life reads our dominating thoughts and sends us whatever evokes the most excitement within. Life doesn’t care if the thought is positive or negative, just whether it alleviates our boredom, immersing us deeper into the game.

With any video-game, it often takes effort to align with the timing of the action and master the controller. But the consensus on attainment seems to be this: focus and believe. For example, if I focus on health-issues and believe wholeheartedly in their manifestation, then I’ll be as sick as I imagined. Or if I focus on getting a nice house and sincerely believe in its certainty, then I’ll soon be there.

The game aspect we must master, is maintaining only what we want within our minds. For one, we must recognize and ignore cheap-thrills as they pass through our thoughts as stimuli. For example, being startled by sights or sounds is excitement inducing and staves off boredom — but it leaves us in a state of immersive anxiety. We can do better than that, we can instead turn our gaze to whatever inspires delight.

And like any sport, we must practice repetitiously, drilling until it becomes automatic — a habit. We must bathe in the daydreams of joy and satisfaction. We must regularly monitor our garden of thoughts, discarding weeds that attempt to crowd-out the fruits we’ve planted. And from this work, by maintaining this discipline, we’ll have an entertaining experience — which after-all, is the point of every game.