Leo's Blog: Infinite Insights — Page 34
It is possible to become conscious of what you were before you were born.
Reflect on the monstrous significance of that for moment.
How is this possible?
It's an outrageous claim. And as far as you know, it could be false. But what if it's true? What would that mean for your entire worldview?
Can you try to imagine the possible ramifications of such a discovery on your life?
Mainstream culture is not openminded enough to acknowledge such a possibility. Don't let that deter you.
"One who knows not who he is and to what end he was born; what kind of world this is and with whom he is associated therein; one who cannot distinguish Good and Evil, Beauty and Foulness, Truth and Falsehood, will never follow Reason in shaping his desires and impulses and repulsions, but will in one word go about deaf and blind. Is there anything new in all this? Is not this ignorance the cause of all the mistakes and mischances of men since the human race began?"
Here are some important explications of the limits of the naive realist paradigm which has infested science. Sheldrake is dead-on, and actually isn't radical enough in his critiques of materialism. Science will go through a major revolution in the next 100 years. Rationalists, materialists, and linear logical thinkers will be left on the wrong side of history. In a sense they already have. They just don't know it yet.
You're home all alone, you've just downed your dose, it's gonna take 30 minutes to come up, and now you're all anxious. Bad mood, negative thoughts, doubts. "Oh no!!! Will this be a bad trip?"
It doesn't have to be! Go play some loud pop music and dance to it like a fool. Really get into it! Dance bitch! Don't hold back. At least 10-20 minutes of dancing. Silly hand movements, big smile, act like animal, break a sweat, the works.
Don't underestimate the power of this technique. It works like a charm. Use your body to create good emotions. I do this pretty much every time I trip. It really helps put me in the right frame of mind.
Here's the key: don't sit there thinking, "Should I do it? Will dancing like a fool really help me?" Just do it! Don't keep sitting there on your ass worrying. Just get up, turn on the music, and dance. Do not let yourself judge the technique. Trust the process. It will work.
But after the dancing is done (no more than 20 minutes), go sit down and be very still. You don't want to be dancing through the bulk of your trip. Your mood will have been lifted. Now sit and mindfully observe as much of your trip as possible. Relax, breathe, and get curious about the nature of reality. The more still and contemplative you can be, the better. The dancing is just for getting rid of that pesky pre-trip anxiety, or if you're starting to spiral out of control into some deep depressive thoughts.
This technique also works well if you have a friend who's tripping but starts to freak out. Go dance with him/her for 10 minutes and you'll likely break them out of the negative thought spiral.
If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper [assumes you're reading this in a book]. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow, and without trees we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either...
If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, nothing can grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know that the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger's father and mother are in it too...
You cannot point out one thing that is not here — time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper... As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of Understanding
Reality is an infinitely interconnected web of differences, where each "node" exerts a force on infinitely many other nodes, and so on, ad infinitum. There is no central node, such that the web is perfectly decentralized. Such that you cannot even say that the web exists, because "existence" is just one more node in the web. Such that "the web" is one more node in the web.
Which is why you can't grasp it with mind. The only way to grasp it is to become the whole thing.
What you must understand about me and my work is that I see myself as a researcher and explorer, not a master.
I'm a very conceptual guy. I love theory and concepts. I love thinking about life. I am a philosopher in the literal sense of that word: a lover of wisdom. And so what I do is I explore the conceptual landscape. I am especially passionate about understanding concepts about the deepest aspects of life and what it means to be human. My work is to try to catalogue as many of the most profound concepts as I can find. But this is a distinctly separate task from embodying or mastering the concepts.
My prime interest is in knowing the big picture. Of course I try to embody much of what I study, but that is not my prime passion or strength. Being good at embodying wisdom is different from exploring, cataloguing, organizing, thinking about, and communicating it. Some people are born to be Zen masters, some people are born to be more talkative and flowery. Maybe in the future I will completely outgrow my passion for concepts, simply going full Zen. Maybe not. I don't know yet.
But until I do, you need to keep in mind that just because I catalogue a thousand concepts doesn't mean I have mastered them all. I am not trying to give that impression. I am just trying to fulfill my cataloguing duties. But as I do that, many people will get the wrong impression, taking me to be something greater than I am. Always remember that talking about wisdom is a lot easier than embodying it in all aspects of one's life. And I love to talk.
Despite how I can sometimes come off, I am just a humble philosopher. I struggle with embodying this stuff just as much as you. I never want you to get the idea that the stuff I talk about is easy. This is the hardest work a human can do. Which is why virtually nobody does it.
There is a subtle point which I failed to make explicit in this week's video.
"Learning = Behavior Change" doesn't just mean forcing a behavior change. No! Thinking of it like that makes it seem too much like a brute force technique. Intellect must still be involved. In fact, it must play the leading role. The real essence of the the phrase is: grasp the intellectual lesson so deeply that it results in an internal SHIFT, which then naturally leads to a behavior change. See the subtle difference?
Here's an example: Let's say you're overweight and you constantly eat junk food. Eventually you tire of it, so you want to stop. First you try some behavioral changes like forcing yourself to go the gym, watching your eating habits like a hawk, shopping for better groceries, reading some health books, etc. That's a good start, but it's not learning. All of those behavior changes and book lessons are only skin-deep. Which is of course why you fail. After a few months of hard work you will get sloppy and backslide to your old ways. Why? Because you didn't actually learn a god damn thing! To learn the lesson of health means that you have an insight so deep that it makes you stop wanting junk food, whiling starting to want health and exercise. Notice how different that is from merely forcing a behavior change, or reading some health books, or even telling yourself, "I must stop eating junk food." Think about what kind of lesson you'd have to learn to finally make healthy eating natural? Maybe you almost have a heart attack, and that near-death experience jolts you awake and now you FINALLY learn something: "OHHHH!!! Of course!!! Health!!!"
That's when you've learned.
Try to recall some times in your past when you really learned something. Not just a piece of information, but you grasped something so deep that it actually shifted a part of who you were. Like a small piece of you died that day. And from that a permanent change in behavior happened, and it was rather effortless. You didn't have to moralize to yourself, you didn't have to fight with yourself. You just finally learned the lesson.
Notice how rare such instances are. The point of this technique is to increase their likelihood.
This is why it's good to ask yourself both these questions: "What did I learn?" and "How will my behavior change?". Ask them separately, with a little gap in between to contemplate. It will be easier to make the insight click if you approach it from both ends like this. First, wonder about the intellectual component, then wonder about the behavioral component. As you do that, the two will tend to merge into one singular LESSON.
Our school systems are all nonsynergetic. We take the whole child and fractionate the scope of his or her comprehending coordination by putting the children in elementary schools — to become preoccupied with elements or isolated facts only. Thereafter we force them to choose some specialization, forcing them to forget the whole. We may well ask how it happened that the entire scheme of advanced education is devoted exclusively to ever narrower specialization. We find that the historical beginnings of schools and tutoring were established, and economically supported by illiterate and vastly ambitious warlords who required a wide variety of brain slaves with which to logistically and ballistically overwhelm those who opposed their expansion of physical conquest. They also simultaneously DIVIDED and CONQUERED any and all "bright ones" who might otherwise rise within their realms to threaten their supremacy. The warlord vitiated their threat by making them all specialists and reserving to himself exclusively the right to think about and act comprehensively. The warlord made all those about him differentiators and reserved the function of integration to himself.
Buckminster Fuller, Presentation to U.S. Congressional Sub-Committee (1969)
I thought this was obvious, but I see some people aren't getting it, so let's make it explicit.
From your point of view, you have no idea whether anything I say is true. From your point of you view, I could be lying, deluded, have some kind of hidden agenda, factually wrong, or just eccentric.
Notice the key words there: "From your point of view". And that's all that matters. It doesn't matter whether I believe what I'm saying it true, or how eloquently I say it, or whether it actually is true.
This is proper epistemology 101. What's true for me is not true for you. Everything I say — especially things like my personal mystical experiences — are MY truths. If you're serious about learning and doing this work, you need to cross-reference all your sources, including me. Don't be lazy. Don't just assume, "Oh, Leo is probably right." No! You cannot know that until you've directly experienced the things I speak about for yourself or at least corroborated what I say with a few other sources you respect.
And I'm not just talking about things I say about enlightenment. I'm talking everything I ever say. Even the very practical self-help stuff like how to run a business.
And this doesn't just apply to my teachings, but EVERYTHING you ever learn from any human being. It doesn't matter how well-respected or well-spoken the person is, or how genuine they appear. It doesn't matter whether it's Einstein, Gandhi, Jesus, the Buddha, Ekhart Tolle, a textbook, your doctor, your life coach, your professor, your Rabbi, your guru, your best friend, a DMT alien, or Zeus speaking down from the clouds. The whole point is that mere words coming out of a being's mouth do not mean jack. You have to do the work of verifying whether those words actually correspond to reality FOR YOU.
If you don't do this, I guarantee you will get things wrong. This is a non-negotiable principle of life.
When I speak of "Absolute Truth" people sometimes hear that and think, "Oh, that means he really believes it. How could he be so gullible?" It makes me sounds like a dogmatist taking a position. No. That's only a surface resemblance. What people don't understand is how much skepticism I go through behind the scenes. You just don't see it. I'm more skeptical than the biggest skeptic you've ever seen. That's precisely why I'm then able to say things like "Absolute Truth". I do not say such things lightly. When I say something like that, I've cross-referenced it with dozens of diverse, high-quality sources. And you must do the same.
If you haven't gone through at least a few years of your life plagued by crippling doubt, you're not doing it right. Don't even take for granted that your mother is your mother. Words are cheap.