Leo's Blog: Infinite Insights — Page 4
Here's a very accurate description of real ego-death.
I love the look in his eyes as he recollects it. That's exactly how I experienced it on 2C-B, but without the agony. It's as serious as actual physical death. Make no mistakes about it. You will be gone, FOREVER! Complete enlightenment ain't no joke. You will be dead inside. Only the husk of your body will remain.
That man you see there, is dead inside. You see his body sitting there talking, but he does not exist to himself. He died years ago.
That is the real deal. Once you break through that fear-of-death threshold completely, you will realize death is an illusion. And you will laugh. But until then, you will take death deadly serious. And all your emotions will reflect that. You cannot believe your way out of this fear. You must actually die to conquer it.
There are two types of common mob:
- The Believers
- The Nonbelievers
Many people these days, especially in Western developed countries, are aware of the dangers of the Believers. Images of the Spanish Inquisition easily come to mind. But this is precisely what leaves us susceptible to falling into the other type of mob, the Nonbelievers.
The Nonbelievers believe that they are above the common mob, more reasonable, more educated, more grounded, more self-aware, more careful in their intellectual discrimination, more pragmatic. The Nonbelievers believe that most of the common mob are clueless, religious, fantasy-prone, gullible, irrational Believers. And that this is the greatest danger to the world.
In a delicious twist of irony, the Nonbelievers believe they are above belief! They reason: if only the Believers were more pragmatic, like us Nonbelievers, if only they stopped believing so damn much, most of the world's problems would be fixed!
But actually, most of the mob are Believers in name only. Their behaviors and actions are more like that of Nonbelievers. Meaning, these people are extremely pragmatic, materialistic, and selfish. They are Believers only in a pragmatic fashion that serves their materialistic needs. So actually, this means that Believers have a lot more in common with Nonbelievers than Nonbelievers would like to admit.
Take even a fundamentalist Christian, Muslim, or Hindu, and look at his everyday life and his everyday thinking, and you'll see a person driven almost exclusively by pragmatic concerns, even in his church activities. The superstitious, fantastical elements will only be paid lip-service to. Look at the Catholic church in the Vatican. Do they spend more time and effort counting money and running their bureaucracy, or realizing God? Do Hindu's spend more time and effort planning their weddings, or realizing God?
The Nonbelievers commit the great blunder of misreading the psychological drivers of the mob. The mob is not too superstitious and fantastical, the mob is exactly the opposite: it's totally wrapped up in the pragmatic, mundane, materialistic world. The mob is not concerned with spiritual matters at all. The mob is concerned with money, power, security, status, community, family, entertainment, and sex. All purely secular values. Another way to put it is, the mob is concerned with self-survival, or business. As in, busy-ness. The mob is too busy with the never-ending activity of life and conquering the material world to care about anything supernatural. Like a hive of ants mindlessly devouring carcass after carcass after carcass, always busy maintaining their hive. Their eyes are so busy glued to the ground, they don't have time to look up towards the sky.
Doesn't that perfectly describe the common human condition? Isn't that what has you personally stuck in your life? How about everyone you know? Isn't it not a problem of over-religiousness, but a problem of over-secularism? Check all your addictions, bad habits, and greatest time sinks. Aren't they all secular? Even the seemingly religious ones are actually, under their veneer, secular. The Believers and the Nonbelievers BOTH worship the same set of values, only the Nonbelievers are a little more honest about their materialism. But a little less honest about being part of the mob.
The Believers and Nonbelievers absolutely LOVE to fight with each other. It's their favorite pass-time. Come gather around the debate platform and bring the popcorn. "Our side is gonna show those fools just how foolish they've been all along! Ha ha! Check make! We knew our side was right!"
Nonbelievers believe that the mob is so superstitious that it will burn whoever disagrees with them at the stake. Nonbelievers believe that Believers are bad because they are responsible for all the witch burnings. "How barbaric of them! How illiberal!" But actually, the greater harm comes from Nonbelievers, who's favorite weapon of choice is not burning at the stake, but false skepticism and unchecked pragmatism. They will use their pragmatic, logical mind to dismiss everything outside their circular pragmatic paradigm. The issue is one of dismissal. Will you or won't you dismiss whatever lies outside your paradigm? It doesn't much matter what your favorite weapon of dismissal is: burning at the stake, or reasoning the other to death.
The real danger today is not superstition, the real danger is pragmatism. And this has always been the case, even 2000 years ago. When people become too pragmatic, they lose sign of the big picture of life and they cannot soak themselves in the tempering and pacifying effects of true spirituality. Because true spirituality is utterly unpragmatic. It has no value, no meaning, no goal. It cannot help your ego advance itself in any way.
If the world comes to an end, it will not be because of Believers, but Nonbelievers, as they slowly boil everyone of us alive in their pragmatic juices. Over-pragmatism has been at the root of most of humanity's problems for over 5000 years.
So watch out! When you think you've escaped the mob, check that you're not right in the eye of the storm.
What's amazing about life is that it seems possible to understand every aspect of it if one really cares to know.
- Every aspect of it makes perfect sense when looked at deeply and holistically enough.
- Some aspects of it can only be understood by transcending rationality, self, and mind.
- The deepest aspects of life is unbelievably counter-intuitive.
Of course most people simply do not care to understand. The intent to understand has to be genuine, and for its own sake. Not a manipulation towards some productive end.
It's equally amazing that every aspect of life can also be easily misunderstood.
Just remember this, if there's some aspect of life that doesn't make sense, it's only because you haven't yet really cared to understand it. You haven't yet been willing to pay the price for the understanding. The deepest understandings require self-sacrifice. They are not things one reads in a textbook or hears in a video.
What would happen if you committed your whole existence to understanding — genuine understanding?
I'm finding that the best way to move quickly towards enlightenment is through a combination of 1) meditation/concentration, and 2) contemplation/self-inquiry practices. Both are important, otherwise you'll likely get stuck. Most teachers fail to convey this to students. They either emphasize concentration too much, or contemplation too much.
If you over-train concentration or meditation, you will get pleasant states of mind, but no deep, lasting insight. If you over-train contemplation or self-inquiry, you will just get stuck in your mind with no idea how to break through.
If you've been doing lots of concentration/meditation practices, but little self-inquiry, dial back the meditation and do much more self-inquiry.
If you've been doing lots of contemplation/self-inquiry, but little concentration or meditation, dial back the self-inquiry and do much more focused meditation.
These days people generally have such poor concentration skills that I believe most people are unable to do self-inquiry effectively simply because they cannot sit and focus for even 1 minute.
Do not underestimate this point about concentration! What most modern spiritual aspirants don't realize is that most non-duality teachers teaching today are from a generation long past. They grew up before the age of color TV, CGI movies, 3D animated cartoons, Legos, cable TV, PCs, 3D graphics cards, surround sound, internet, email, blogs, XM radio, online shopping, video games, MMORPGs, eBay, Youtube, Netflix, Amazon, Game of Thrones, stand-up comedy, opinionated political news, smart phones, Kindles, iPads, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, text messaging, Tinder, free streaming HD porn, life-like sex toys, modern fast food, energy drinks, targeted advertising, 4k displays, 3D movies, VR/AR, and smart watches.
This is a BIG deal! It was much easier to focus back then because they were not imprinted from birth with distractions the way we are today. If you're under 40 now, your generation will have a much harder time getting enlightened. So you have to make extra effort to learn to concentrate. And the newest generation — those 5 year old kids you see in restaurants and airplanes glued to their iPads — will find enlightenment ridiculously challenging. And the future generation of kids who grow up on virtual reality goggles will be totally screwed. They won't even know how someone can sit still for 30 minutes without being hooked into a machine. They will be addicted from cradle to grave and not even know it.
If months are flying by and you keep feeling stuck with your practice, swing your pendulum to the opposite end (concentration or self-inquiry). Stay there for a few months, then swing back, and you should notice a lot more traction and clarity with where you left off.
Either way, both skills are vital to your ultimate well-being. So it's worth training them both up. You will find enormous benefits and auxiliary uses for both these skills for the rest of your life.
Add Indian yoga and an all-fruit/vegetable, no wheat/diary diet to this mix for super-charged results.
If you're serious about your personal development, I cannot recommend yoga enough. Learn it and start practicing ASAP.
But I don't mean the Western-style yoga you see at your gym. I mean real Indian style yoga:
- Kundalini yoga
- Kriya yoga
- Tantra yoga
- Raja yoga
- Some Hatha yoga
There are many good systems and teachers available online these days.
Yoga practice is very important because it adds a physical and energetic dimension to your meditation and spiritual practice. This is vital because Western-style self-help (and even Neo-Advaita and Zen) is too intellectual. You tend to learn a lot of ideas, but gain little inner growth. And any lessons you happen to learn are not really translated to the level of your body or your vital energy.
Yoga will help you in many ways:
- It will free up energetic blockages in your body which are hard to fix any other way
- It will release pent up emotions
- It will vastly improve the quality of your breathing
- It will improve your posture and flexibility
- It will heal all kinds of chronic diseases like: chronic fatigue, cold hands and feet, allergies, migraines, ADD, high blood pressure, back pain, joint pain, thyroid imbalances, immune system problems, heart disease, PMS, depression, anxiety, insomnia, mental fog, etc.
- It will build discipline and willpower, reduce laziness
- It will increase your physical vitality
- It will reduce your sleep quota
- It will reduce stress and muscle tension
- It can double as physical exercise without needing a fancy gym. It's like having a portable gym.
- It will gradually cleanse your Chakras and move Kundalini energy up your spine for spiritual awakening
- It will improve your meditation, concentration, and self-inquiry
- It will greatly reduce monkey mind and paralysis by analysis
Whichever yoga school you go with, make sure your yoga's primary focus is spiritual development, NOT physical exercise. All physical postures should be a means of spiritual development, not a form of flexibility training. In proper yoga, postures are designed to iron out the energy blockages in your body FOR THE PURPOSE of deepening your ability to meditate.
I'll be talking about specific types of yoga more in the future, as I experiment with various systems. For now, start doing your own research. The payoff will be immense.
Learning yoga is also a MUST if you're going to be doing any serious meditation or solo retreats. Sitting for such long periods of time while neglecting your body is a wasted opportunity. Yoga will super-charge your retreats and get you more breakthroughs faster.
If you're pursuing enlightenment and you feel stuck with meditation/self-inquiry, incorporate yoga into your daily practice ASAP. You need to bring your entire body along for this ride, not just your head. Enlightenment is not just a head thing. And if your body is in bad shape, from decades of bad food, chemicals, stress, bad posture, muscle tension, and disease, enlightenment may be practically impossible for you until you clear this up.
I will be adding a lot of yoga-related books to my book list in the future.
Shawn Thornton was a regular artist until he got diagnosed with cancer of the pineal gland. Apparently a rare case. After which he started to experience spontaneous, DMT-like spiritual imagery which transformed his art. His work became filled with mythological themes and symbolism, exhibiting many classic spiritual and New Age tropes.
Take a look at some of his amazing work:
Makes you wonder that there's more to spirituality than just enlightenment.
This is in regards to the Intro To Systems Thinking video.
After learning about systems thinking you might feel like, "Oh man... But how can I — this one small individual — fight against such overwhelming forces like global warming or terrorism or corruption in politics? It seems hopeless. Just a pipe dream."
Or you might get the bright idea to go rally people to some kind cause. Like... "Come on guys! Let's go save the whales. We gotta burn those evil whaling ships to the ground! Get off your lazy asses, we gotta act now!"
NO! NO! NO!
That's the wrong approach. You must begin by turning inwards. You begin by recognizing that all our collective problems are actually rooted right inside of you! How are you contributing to global warming? How are you contributing to corruption in politics? How are you contributing to terrorism? That's where you start! And you better fucking believe that you're contributing directly to these problems. That right there is whole the problem! See?
Trying to fix these problems by rallying people to some cause is actually part of the problem. Because it externalizes the problem so nobody bothers asking the really important question: How is my being in the world creating all the evil I see around me?
Here's the paradox of systems thinking: we need more people to be socially conscious, but the only way to do that is get more people to turn inward. Systems thinking might seem like it's asking you to orient outward (because the focus is on solving external problems like global warming or terrorism) but solving these problems first requires a radical turning inward. So you must turn inwards first, master your self and your understanding of systems, then you will turn outwards and transform the world in a responsible manner.
There can be no meaningful transformation of the world without a personal inner revolution. This is where most revolutionaries go wrong. If you just try to overthrow the government or start some kind of political action group, you will fail, because you lack the requisite inner development to lead such a group in a conscious and responsible manner. Your actions will also be misguided because you misunderstand the root problems. Your personal weaknesses and corruption will undermine you. If you start a movement without first expanding your own consciousness, you will deepen the problem because you will just spread ignorance.
An ignorant person cannot help spreading ignorance. This is a certainty. No ifs about it. Notice that this has been a huge trap across the centuries. When someone starts a movement without first taming their ego, the movement always backfires and leads to great evil. Closely study the development of religions, cults, Nazism, Marxism, anti-communism, existentialism, nihilism, post-modernism, Scientology, evangelical missionaries, the PUA community, Alex Jones, etc. All of these movements were created by people who haven't mastered their own egos, and therefore they spread ignorance in the name of doing social good, actually creating the very same evil they are trying to stop.
The source of all evil is personal ignorance. Evil is not created with evil intentions. Evil is created with good intentions. The better you think your intentions are, the more evil you will create in the world, the more ignorance you will spread, because you will think you're right, leaving no room for self-reflection. Evil is just a lack of self-reflection. That is all. So watch yourself!
Also, systems thinking is not just about manipulating systems. Many of the lower Spiral Dynamics stages like Red, Blue, and Orange can manipulate systems very successfully. A mob boss is very good at ruthlessly pushing through his egoic agenda. This is not systems thinking. This is shameless egotism. Systems thinking requires that you start to step outside your self-centered view of the world. You have to be conscious enough to step outside your own value system, and genuinely care about other beings besides your self and your tribe.
Stop using success, wealth, or fame as measures of systems thinking. Just because some businessman has made billions of dollars and has 10 luxury cars and a trophy wife, does NOT make him a systems thinker. Just the opposite in fact. It's really easy to make money in a ruthless, unecological manner by exploiting a system. That is NOT systems thinking. That's unchecked stage Red or stage Orange egotism.
If you feel that your perspective of the world is THE TRUTH, you're not at stage Yellow.
It's very difficult to describe psychedelic effects to someone who's never experienced them. But here's an attempt:
(Above: VERY similar to how mushrooms look at higher doses. The whole room distorts.)
(Above: VERY similar to medium-dose LSD/AL-LAD. I've seen tree bark move just like this, with stronger neon colors.)
(Above: I haven't experienced Breathing like this myself, but probably would at higher doses of LSD/AL-LAD.)
(Above: I haven't experienced this one myself. But seems in-line with LSD/AL-LAD.)
(Above: VERY similar to recognition of Absolute Infinity on 5-MeO-DMT. The fabric of reality become infinitely recursive. This is how Nothingness/God feels to me.)
(Above: VERY similar to recognition of Absolute Infinity on 5-MeO-DMT. The fabric of reality become infinitely recursive. This is how Nothingness/God feels to me.)
(Above: Very similar to LSD, AL-LAD, Mushrooms, 2C-B at the peak. Although not this vivid at low/med doses. Maybe it would look this vivid on a really high dose.)
(Above: I haven't experienced this effect myself, but read about it in trip reports.)
(Above: I haven't experienced Tracers like this myself, but commonly reported on various popular psychedelics.)
(Above: VERY similar to the patterns I usually see on mushrooms, LSD, AL-LAD, and 2C-B.)
(Above: Similar to very strong LSD.)
(Above: VERY similar to how I've seen pine tree bark on AL-LAD.)
(Above: Haven't experienced this effect myself, but people report it.)
(Above: This one resembles the faint geometric patterns I see on 5-MeO-DMT on the carpet, but in real-life the patterns aren't so opaque, just a light overlay.)
A monk is just an applied metaphysician.
When the ancient Greeks built their temples, they would use wood scaffolding to aid in construction. But the scaffolding was then burned or buried. The Greeks didn't go around saying, "Look how wonderful our scaffolding is! Come, heathens... prostrate yourselves before our mighty scaffolding!"
It's really important to understand what Actualized.org content is. It's just mental scaffolding. It's a functional stepping-stone which you use to improve your life, and then you throw it away. You do not worship the scaffolding, you do not cling to preserving it, you do not confuse it with reality itself. The scaffolding does not have to be perfect to get you there. In fact, the scaffolding is often makeshift, crude, and ever-evolving.
My videos, insights, and frameworks have zero ideological purpose. I am not here to convince you of anything or to have you believe my worldview. My worldview is that there are no true worldviews. And even that must be recognized to eat itself.
Understand that concepts like "life purpose", "Zen devilry", "spiral dynamics", "no free will", or "taking full responsibility", are all limited things. They are not really true. They are just ways of guiding you. All of these concepts and models break down at the edges. None of them are watertight, nor are they meant to be. This impulse to construct a watertight model of reality is misguided, demonstrating a deep ignorance of the dangers of mind. That's not what Actualized.org is doing, nor should that be what you're doing. The ideas I share with you are tools. We are using illusion to fight illusion. In my sharing this knowledge, I put an emphasis on practicality. If a concept gets you to think and act in a certain way — gets you moving towards growth — then it is doing it's job. And at some point you will outgrow it, replacing it with more sophisticated scaffolding. In this manner you will inch your way up until most of the old scaffolding looks juvenile, ridiculous, and false.
Having this "scaffolding attitude" is very important because it creates a buffer for inaccuracies and incompleteness. If you're smart, you should have wondered by now, "But Leo... what if you're mistaken about your position on free will? Or death? Or God? Or knowledge? Or the differences between men and women? Won't that bring your whole system down?" This is a good concern. Which is why I don't take any positions. If it seems like I take firm positions in the videos, that's largely done: 1) for entertainment, 2) for the functional need of manipulating you out of your rut, 3) because the very nature of successful communication requires the speaker to sound confident and knowledgeable, making it appear as though the speaker holds a firm position.
Precisely because I expect tons of falsehood and delusion in this whole process, I've gone to great lengths to adopt a self-correcting epistemic attitude which gracefully handles inaccuracy, delusion, and falsehood. And my focus has been deliberately set on real-world growth, not building and defending "a system". You need to do the same yourself. If you adopt a pragmatic, "scaffolding attitude", all the inaccuracies will become irrelevant in the long-run. It's sorta like the scientific method. You rely on the method to weed itself of bullshit. I study hundreds of perspectives and theories, many of which are filled with falsehoods, but it doesn't matter because all of it is held as "just scaffolding". But this self-purifying mechanism will only work if you're seriously adopting the "scaffolding attitude." As soon as you start to cling to any one of the perspectives you've learned, you're screwed.
The genius of this method — if you actually do it — is that it allows you to play all the world's perspectives and theories against each other, without getting caught in the crossfire. The only thing you need to do to make it work is avoid taking firm positions on anything. Then you can mingle with many contradictory perspectives and glean whatever pragmatic gold each has to offer.
My aim is not to "be right", but to grow and learn.
That's how I think about this whole process. I take this pragmatic stance in order to avoid the evils of ideology. Ideas are never to be worshiped or held as absolute or important. When working with concepts, the greatest danger is starting to believe your own conceptual bullshit. The better your concepts fit together — the more cohesive your system feels — the more likely you are to start to hold it as The Truth — as really really important. But all this really means is that you've succeeded in finding a way to buy into your own monkey-mind. The harder your mind works, the more likely it is to find a way to crown itself king. The danger of this cannot be overstated. This dynamic works in subtle and sneaky ways, which is why we must always remain on-guard. I am not just talking about this happening to "others", like some religious fundamentalists. No! No! No! I mean it's happening to you right now! You're falling into this trap, no matter how good you tell yourself you are. Intelligent, secular, scientific, and rational people are MORE susceptible to this trap, not less. You're extremely susceptible.
Notice that a lot of what my videos do is merely point out dynamics, patterns, themes, techniques, and overlooked aspects of your life. In so doing, your circle of understanding expands because things are pointed out which you can no longer honestly ignore. In this, there's nothing to believe per se. A lot of this is totally obvious stuff which you've simply never noticed before.
The great thing about holding something as scaffolding is that you don't have to revere it and you don't feel the need to prosthelytize or defend it. You also don't waste time debating it. You just apply it, or don't.
If you want to think of Actualized.org theory as a series of kicks in the ass to a stubborn donkey, that's about right. As the donkey, you don't say, "Those kicks sure are the Truth!" No, those kicks don't even have to be self-consistent or logical. You can be kicked to go left, you can be kicked to go right, and you can be kicked just for fun ;)
Many of the things I say are designed to manipulate you out of complacency or ignorance. You should take these sayings as seriously as necessary to break out of your stupid ways. But no more seriously than that.