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.

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Humbling Realization

Existence is not what I thought it was. I was under the impression that I was my body, an animal crawling on a big rock hurtling around a fireball, a hapless victim of random chance. Oops. I’m not entirely sure why I developed that assumption nor why I believed in its truth for several decades. Having thought of myself as smart and knowledgeable, I suppose it’s a humbling experience to understand how wrong I was.

Though in my defense, I think it’s a very easy assumption to make. Even now, when the flickering pixels are patently obvious, I still get lost to the scenes playing out before me. It’s literally effortless to fall back into the assumption that I’m a physical body, slave to its ways. Although, one could say this constant pull, this head-turning spectacle, is a clear indication of life’s fictional nature — and that’s true, but it took me a lot of practice to maintain the external awareness necessary to realize that.

Every second of the day it seems, we’re pulled down some path. Flashing lights serve to captivate. Whether it’s the aches and pains we imagine, the relationship-drama we find ourselves mixed-up in, the political farce in the news, the lemonade-stand-like game of commerce, the gossip we gab about, the management of fluctuating budgets, the fashion and beauty we obsess on, or the frights we incessantly fantasize about — we’re basically forced to focus on something.

But I don’t believe this is a nefarious conspiracy to steal our attention. No, I think it shows that the body is merely a vehicle for entertainment, and that this world is an amusement park of sorts. And the best part, is that we get to choose what we focus on. Unfortunately, many of us start off on the wrong foot — we get too wrapped up in the “reality” of the situation, believing beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s all actually happening. So of course we’re scared to death of life’s turbulence.

We believe we’re nothing but a leaf floating in a violently rushing river ready to sink at any minute. But as it turns out, we’re not. I was under the impression that it was my skill and cunning keeping me alive all these years. But as it turns out, it wasn’t. I’m actually quite incapable of taking care of myself, my body is basically self-sustaining. I was simply imagining it was weak and fragile. Whoops. As it turns out, we’re leisurely drifting down the shallows, and at any time we need only stand to see this for ourselves.

Because of my early confusion, I frequently stand, still afraid to carelessly float. It’s like sleeping with the lights on. But that’s fine, eventually the lights go off after we cease to maintain the bogeyman in our minds. I don’t feel dumb or immature because of these training-wheels, I think the mystery of figuring out life is just part of the fun. Some people spend hours dribbling a ball all day, I spend hours reminding myself not to be an anxiety-ridden pessimist. Same-same — we’re all just fumbling around in the game of life.

Piece of Cake

I’ve been playing Minecraft off-and-on for over a year-and-a-half now. Yet only very recently was I able to complete a solo survival challenge, a cake-making challenge I set for myself. I entered a new world at the normal difficulty level on survival mode — and my goal was to make a cake without dying. A cake requires wheat, sugar, eggs, milk, and iron to make the milk buckets.

The toughest part was the fear. I had to stay alive while collecting all the ingredients. Yet funny enough, by the end of the challenge I didn’t even have a single run-in with a dangerous mob. I never saw a creeper, skeleton, Enderman, or witch. I heard a few zombies banging on my door at night but they were burnt by sunup. I was so cautious in fact, that I mined enough iron to create a full set of armor to ensure I’d survive any attacks. But I never needed the protection nor my iron sword.

I noticed too, the minuscule amount of space this world consumed compared to my creative worlds — it was tiny because I barely ventured beyond my hollowed-out cave in the side of a mountain. If I was a lazy programmer-of-life, the most efficient thing I could do, would be to scare my player into remaining inside all the time. Just bang on his door a few times and watch him scurry into a corner to sit with his anxiousness all day, mind racing, thinking about imagined dangers lurking everywhere.

Why bother designing a giant interactive world when I can simply keep the player excited and stationary through fright. But relying solely on scare-tactics is a cheap ploy for inducing excitement. But Minecraft isn’t that cheap thankfully, it actually does provide a giant interactive world for players to explore — as long as they don’t let fear get the best of them. I bet the real world is similar in that regard, although I wouldn’t know, I spend most of my time in a little cave.

Middle Path

What are we looking for when we begin an activity? We’re looking to get lost in the activity. We’re looking to become so captivated that we forget everything but the task at hand — and so focused that we block out everything except what’s in front of us. That’s pretty much true with existence too. Life ensnares our attention to keep us constantly engaged. And if we step back a bit we can recognize the artificial process powering the spectacle — we can see there’s an underlying narrative to life.

Ordinarily we don’t need to think about the mechanics of a game, we just play it. But what happens when we become too overwhelmed by the intensity of a game, when we take it too seriously? Typically, we’ll fail to enjoy ourselves. The game will become a burden, perhaps even a torturous experience. At that point we could rage-quit, or we could step back a bit, perhaps take some time to understand the fundamentals of the game better and most importantly take a more lighthearted approach.

This is where the path to enlightenment comes in. It’s not some beam that sucks us up into the heavens upon attainment, it’s simply the way in which we learn to better engage with existence. When we develop problems with life itself, it shows we’re taking things much too seriously — we’re spoiling our own gameplay. Enlightenment is what allows us to reset ourselves to the middle, where life is not too somber or too silly (a game played too frivolously is no fun either).

Enlightenment alters our perspective of the world, allowing us to understand the game-like nature of it all. Fears and frustrations melt away as we see the fiction before us. And we like games and stories of all sorts, so no fun is lost along the way — only enhanced. There’s no pressure to perform anymore, the past doesn’t matter, there’s nothing in the future to lose, and we realize that the point of every game is simply the enjoyment we receive from engaging.

Purposeful Path

I would say the purpose of pursing enlightenment is to improve our experience of existing.

For instance, very early this morning I had an unpleasant dream — it woke me up enough to become the beginning of my day. Upon waking though, I said “Aha! Caught you! Trying to captivate me by my dreams again I see! Well it won’t work! I know your tricks….” Then not long after breakfast I watched someone vomit right before my feet. I was briefly captivated once again, but it didn’t take long for me to say, “Aha! Again!? Really!? Well it didn’t work before and it’s not going to work now….”

In other words, I’m not perturbed by things that would have otherwise perturbed me. I see the fiction before me. My question though, is why does life regularly attempt to captivate me in the most unsettling ways? Why can’t it be fun stuff? Why can’t I be enticed to participate by the most fanciful adventures and wondrous delights? Instead, it’s nightmares and puke. I figure my character just isn’t stimulated enough by the cheery stuff.

But I think life is just being lazy though, going for the easy scares instead of the refined amusements. For earthly entertainment, I always select funny or fantasy and stay away from the sad or scary. Perhaps life just isn’t that funny or maybe life’s sense-of-humor is different than mine. I mean who am I to judge, I’m not exactly a ball of laughs to be around. Or maybe the stimuli I receive is simply fulfilling the expectations I harbor about this world.

And it’s true you know, I have pessimistic tendencies. I tend to focus on what’s wrong rather than what’s right. But based on counter-examples, I know my outlook is not fact-based, it’s merely a gloomy perspective. Yet whether I entered existence with a negative attitude or developed one from early circumstances doesn’t matter, it’s time to change it either way. And it’s the pursuit of enlightenment that allows me to do so.

Staying Lit

If you want to be good at something, you do a lot of it, right? You practice. So if you wonder about the difference between enlightened and not-enlightened, just think of the time invested. Enlightenment is not about one-time epiphanies, it’s about constant realizations of who we really are. Enlightenment requires consistency. The path is carved by reframing the world in such a way that circumstances regularly remind us of life’s illusionary nature.

For instance, I spend time detached from daily life contemplating existence, oftentimes noticing the unreality of reality. I spend time fitting life’s dramas into the context of virtuality. I spend time setting traps, noticing when my automatic reactions set them off, reminding me to refocus into mindfulness. I spend time observing myself react to stimuli, purposefully readjusting my perspective when emotions intensify. I spend time connected to my higher self, transcribing words flowing from my thought-stream.

If you want to be enlightened, then you do it, it’s not something you wait for. While alive we’re in constant motion, so wind blows the flame out every time we light it. We must keep it lit. And we do that by constantly engaging with the boundaries of reality. It takes no great mystery-solving skills to perceive the dreamlike nature of existence, it just takes focus. Within the quiet of the mind, the answers tend to pour in — so the first step is to regularly meditate until thoughts are adequately stilled.

Then you listen. But listening isn’t enough as ideas flow in and out while moving throughout the day. Write the ideas down — re-reading them over and over, noticing the overlapping themes. Once they become well-known, apply them to the spectacle taking place before you — use these ethereal ideas to set a new perspective from which to define the world. And once this foundation is established, notice how the world before you brightens.