To err is to human…

One is never too far away from chaos, from disorder, from entropy. Conjure up if you will an image of a person who appears to be in perfect harmony with the Universe, a person who has a decent understanding of the human condition and who operates a nicely balanced mind, body and soul.

Take that very same person and inject them into a situation where that balance is completely and utterly destroyed by substances they imbibe to the point where everything that they truly believe and everything they actually possess teeters to the point of non-existence.

Whilst it is commonplace (not obligatory) to take alcohol in social situations, excess is a very dark and dangerous path to Freud’s Ego and Id, a solitary and lonely path to disorder.

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Advanced states of inebriation dissolve the Super-Ego like the inevitable next day Berocca; something solid which melts away to reveal churning and cloudiness. Introducing alcohol in large quantities into the system temporarily removes conscience and pride, the staple diet of the Super Ego and without it, all that is left is the bloated Ego and the selfish Id, and with that all reason is lost.

And so it was on Saturday, where I took it upon myself to smash myself out of the park for no real apparent reason, or perhaps one that my external self chooses not to reveal under normal circumstances.

I have of late likened my time living in the corporate world to that of a marionette; an executive order controlling my every move telling me what to do and when to do it, much to the annoyance and disappointment of my inner self. There are times (and that is becoming increasingly regular) that I loathe capitalism, commercialism and coin-based economics, such things never truly bring real happiness. Sometimes it’s seems an easy option to turn to drink to banish those thoughts even if only temporarily, yet invariably things turn out very ugly indeed.

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I do have a grand plan, a plan one day to leave behind all of the pandering to bosses and reliance on money, but for now (with having three children) my Super Ego keeps things in check and perspective (and rightly so) and puts that plan ten years hence, which ordinarily I’m ok with.

However, when the balance is knocked severely off kilter with such force and aggression (mental not physical), egotistic and selfish needs and desires come out to the front of class and exhibit a rather loathsome and disrespectful show and tell, leaving strangers bewildered and confused and loved ones bemused and upset.

The cold light of the next day brings back the conscience ten-fold (leaving pride to scuttle off under the bed), as if its absence the night before needs to take centre stage for every waking moment for days to come, deliberating, cogitating and judging the self’s embarrassing stage show the night before.

We are never too far away from chaos and should do everything to avoid entropy at all costs; we must be reminded that a life of moderation and not excess brings balance.

“To enjoy good health, to bring true happiness to one’s family, to bring peace to all, one must first discipline and control one’s own mind. If a man can control his mind he can find the way to Enlightenment, and all wisdom and virtue will naturally come to him” – Buddha

Cogito ergo sum…

Dubito, ergo cogito, ergo sum. I doubt, therefore I think, therefore I am.

Rene Descartes coined this phrase to assert that the very act of doubting ones existence is proof enough that we must be thinking entities and therefore be. Although the external reality that we experience (sometimes in solitude and sometimes in unison) is internally generated based on the five senses that we have (or six in some cases), the true nature of reality lies beyond what the material self can perceive.

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When we deconstruct the phrase above and relate it to the present, something strikes a real chord, with me at least.

  • Dubito – I doubt
  • Cogito – I think
  • Sum – I am

The geo-political scene is becoming increasingly fragile and recent events across Europe and Africa have gravely concerned me. Whilst the carnage in France, Nigeria and Kenya is truly horrific, I can’t help thinking that the problem is self-perpetuating. On the one side, we have the religious zealots who advocate thinking as a collective and not as individuals, but thinking without independence or impartiality, under a forced doctrine to live under totalitarian “sharia” law. On the other side, we have the political zealots who advocate thinking as a collective and not as individuals, but thinking without independence or impartiality, under a forced doctrine to live under totalitarian “democratic” law.

We are increasingly being told that we should not be doubting these rules and regulations; this is put in place for the greater good. We are increasingly being told that thinking should be best left to those in power and not the individual; this is put in place for the greater good. We are increasingly being told that “we are we” not “I am I”; this is put in place for the greater good.

All of these things done under the auspices of “we” are done for the wrong reasons. If the world was truly at peace and the individuals could collectively think together through love and not fear, through light and not dark, then our evolution (spiritual and otherwise) would indeed be gestalt; the whole would be greater than the sum of its parts. Under those conditions, I for one would be more than happy to operate under the “we” mantra”.

Sadly that appears not to be the case and it appears that we are heading down a very dark path to Orwellian oblivion.

As I was watching the horror of Paris unfolding on one of the UK news channels last week, my eight year old daughter came into the room and within minutes started weeping. “Will that happen here Daddy, I’m really scared? Will you not go to London next few week because you might die and I’ll be sad”. I gave her a massive hug and told her she would be safe here and I would stay safe on my travels. The truth was that right there and right then, to the sound of sirens and flashing light coming from the TV, a small part of me died; hope. She asked me if we could stop watching the news on TV when she was around, which of course I agreed to on the spot.

What world are we bringing our children into? Our cart has one wheel which is seriously out of kilter and unless we pull over for immediate repairs our journey will be over.

What is the solution? It starts with the self, propagating out to our children and beyond, sharing the wisdom and experience of key players from humanities evolutionary stage thus far (Buddha, Gandhi, King, Mandela, Lennon), and seeing beyond the propaganda peddled by so called “independent and impartial information services” like the BBC.

Will it be enough and is there time to change before it is too late?

Dum spiro spero. Whilst I breathe, I hope…

The Descent of Man…

Reality itself may well be an illusion, be it optical, aural or otherwise. Reality itself may well be a hologram, a projection from or of the singularity, the one true source.

If you (like me) believe in the theory that there is a central existential core that resides beyond the confines of the space-time-continuum, then what we currently experience as individuals and as a collective (both good and bad), continues to evolve the cosmic consciousness.

It seems that “humanity” is fast reaching a point (not in “time” nor in accordance to Arthur Eddington’s “Arrow of Time”) of high entropy; disorder. Each periodical or TV news bulletin displays the shock and horror in glorious Technicolor each and every day. There is a new publication in town and it’s called “The Daily Dukkha”.

On an individual level (another reference to the self I know), I am fortunate enough at the moment to not be suffering any dukkha at all; entropy is currently very low with me; order. One look outwards though and the world is full of dukkha and in particular the refugee crisis in the Middle East. By all accounts, Aleppo has been destroyed, the symbolism of the first ever civilisation on this planet ceasing to exist not lost with me.

Social evolution (in the modern “Ascent of Man” sense) truly began with the Neolithic Revolution (aka the Agricultural Revolution) which saw the development of farming practices, drastically changing “human” lifestyle, permitting far denser populations which in time formed towns and cities. Cities were centres of trade, manufacturing and with it varying degrees of military control and protection. Thus in 10,000 CE, Aleppo, the very first civilisation was born.

Before Aleppo, man lived a largely nomadic hunter-gatherer existence and a much simpler way of life. Before Aleppo, skirmishes were tribal, often over a patch of ground or natural resource. There was no greed, just a simple need for sustenance. As with things, it is desire that leads to greed, to dukkha, and Aleppo really was the origin of human desire, the metaphysical concept of wanting not needing “planted” firmly in the psyche of homo sapiens.

Over the millennium, desire has increased exponentially and as a result so has conflict, and today we see this conflict all too often. For me, the solution lies neither with geopolitics nor within religious doctrines, but within the self; if we all could see this and follow the principles as suggested by Siddhārtha Gautama (Buddha), then things would really change (remembering that Buddhism is a philosophy and way of life not a religion). Too often these days do we seem to apply geopolitical band aids to resolve self-perpetuating situations, invariably making matters worse, much worse in fact. The descent of man seems somewhat inevitable.

However, where there is darkness there is also light. Many local projects have started to make a real difference to the lives of those affected by such dukka in Syria, Israel, Afghanistan and Iraq and there has been an outpouring of peace, love and understanding here. Sadly the government here in the U.K only took action once the British public had took matters into their own hands. That my friends will be the answer in the end, it will be the people who will take action for the greater good, not governments nor corporations. Humanity will realise at some point that it is only after the cessation of desire and greed that “things can only get better”.

Whether that is pre or post Apocalypse remains to be seen, but let’s hope that as a collective we can as one wake up before it really is too late.

The path is clear, but no eyes can see…

Each dawn that breaks gives one a renewed chance to wake up. Not from slumber in the literal sense, but metaphysically speaking. Each day that arrives brings about change; a day older (for sure); a day wiser (perhaps) and a day closer to death (depends on how you define death…).

Some people (by choice or otherwise) live in a perpetual state of the un-awakened, happy to continue to live out their existence without feeling the need (or having the capacity) to challenge the true nature of reality. As all human experience is subjective and individualistic, no one can truly say that their approach is right or wrong.

For those who choose to challenge the five senses and Einstein’s cosmological principles, the first steps are the most difficult as there is no set path to follow. What is clear is that something usually sparks a flame for knowledge, knowledge which is hitherto forgotten or as yet unknown.

Science, religion, philosophy and noetics seem to be the most logical places to start looking, and most quests invariably encounter all four. Like countless others, my quest had to start by looking inside myself. What I found wasn’t pleasant. What I found was suffering, anxiety, stress and disorder. What was more difficult to find, but not impossible, was the root cause of such pain. What I found was craving, wanting and desire. What was even more difficult was how and what to change. What I found however was the solution and for the first time in my life I could start to see true nature of reality emerging. This was my spiritual epiphany.

Over the course of just a few months, I came to the conclusion that my suffering, fueled through my own desires, could ease by diminishing this metaphysical concept known as the ego or the self and that sustained focus on my “ikigai“, (in my case the family) would yield a new peace within me. Through yoga, meditation, reiki and complimentary therapies, I would keep this inner light with me at all times, ready to distinguish the darkness should it return.

My path was now clearer, and it was only after reading Buddhism: Plain and Simple by Steve Hagen did I realise (without knowing it) that the path and resolution I had followed related to the Buddhist Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path:

  • The Four Noble Truths
    • The truth of dukkha (suffering, anxiety, dissatisfaction).
    • The truth of the origin of dukkha.
    • The truth of the cessation of dukkha.
    • The truth of the path leading to the cessation of dukkha (the Eight Fold Path).
  • The Eight Fold Path

    • Wisdom
      • Right view (viewing reality as it is, not just as it appears to be).
      • Right intention (intention of renunciation, freedom and harmlessness).
    • Ethical conduct
      • Right speech (speaking in a truthful and non-hurtful way).
      • Right action (acting in a non-harmful way).
      • Right livelihood (a non-harmful livelihood).
    • Concentration
      • Right effort (making an effort to improve).
      • Right mindfulness (awareness to see things for what they are with clear consciousness; being aware of the present reality within oneself, without any craving or aversion).
      • Right concentration (correct meditation or concentration).

Whilst I could concur that the Four Noble Truths and the Eight Fold Path were a set of principles that everyone true to themselves (forgive me for the use of the word self, Steve) and others should adhere to, what was missing for me was the true nature of reality. Nietzsche was not entirely complementary of Buddhism (as you would expect) and classified it as a subdivision of nihilism, which to some extent I can agree with.

But what is reality? What is it that our senses experience and translate into pictures, sounds, smells, tastes and feels, is it all an illusion? Does true consciousness reside within the brain? Is the true nature of reality hidden from view for a reason? All these questions puzzled me, so the path I took at the crossroads led me to noetics, and in particular the works of Ervin Laszlo and Anthony Peake (my conclusions detailed in The Noetic Nook).

One thing is for sure, life and human experience is subjective and there appears to be no single path to the truth. The key however is to awaken, awaken to the truth that it is desire that causes suffering and to put a stop to ones ego will yield rewards to ourselves and to those around us. We may never truly experience the true nature of reality until we depart from the physical plain, but what we do each day can reduce our physical (and mental) pain.