Sunday, February 07, 2016

Living Life to the Fullest ... Sigh

Search on "living life fully" or "living life to the fullest" and millions of sites come up. The top ones are those with inspirational quotes and advice on how to live life fully. The question came back to me yesterday for some reason and kept nagging at me: How can we engage more with life? We may imagine that life has a rhythm and in order to fully engage with life, we need to adjust to that rhythm and speed. But how?

Given my recent posts and my line of thoughts these past few days, it should not be surprising that my mind went back to the idea of "purposeless discipline" (see [Objectless Hope and Purposeless Discipline] and [On Time] posts specifically). I think "engaging with life" is one of those topics that you cannot approach directly, kind of like trying to hold a fish in hand too tight. Alternatively, I have this idea that the best way to improve our engagement with life is through practicing purposeless discipline.

What is purposeless discipline anyway? Suppose you decide to wake up at 6, instead of your usual 7, in the morning and exercise for half an hour and then take a shower. The idea is to improve your health and functionality during the day by starting your day with physical activity. This is a purposeful discipline. In contrast, if you decided to wake up at 6:41 (an arbitrary number) in the morning, walk around your kitchen in clockwise direction twice (again arbitrary) and then go about your day as usual, then there is very little or no benefit to this routine. This would be an example for purposeless discipline.

I have this strong intuition that lack of purpose has, in fact, very interesting implications. The most important is this: if we think of the "self" as a collection of characters, the lack of purpose provides a natural setting for those characters to work together and not against each other. Artificial purpose (devised by conscious logical mind) is  the surest trigger for creating conflict between internal characters. Once these characters begin working more harmoniously, they begin to develop a natural rhythm that ultimately results in better engagement with life! Ultimately a deep sense of purpose based on this harmony will also develop, which amounts to a deep sense of hope was an internal compass (i.e., objectless hope).

Friday, February 05, 2016

On Time

Time appears to either come toward me and robs me off from my youth, vitality, and strength, or to approach and leaves me behind. Time never stays with me to hang out, chat and walk along the way.

Such a pity!

Would be quite nice to have time as a friend, start a conversation.
And even when it goes faster or slower and separates itself from me, to have the trust that it will come back again, somehow, to continue the unfinished conversation.

Time is an axis that my life's narratives grow around it like vine. It's the center of meaning and character, and as such, the center is empty, like Zen's Enso.

For my conscious and logical mind, the time's direction is rigid, extending from past to the future. Along its direction, certain events take place and past events can be used to predict, imperfectly, the future. Internal figures close to the surface are quite restricted by the flow of linear time.

And yet, I am not the surface of my mind. There are characters deep inside me. Far away from the conscious mind and its linear logic and reasoning. For them, the flow of time is nonlinear, maybe chaotic, or even non-existent. Time dissolves at the depth of unconscious mind.

The strength of my being comes from my emotional depth, from places that are not governed by the petty rules of logic and reason. To access those resources, or at least to have fuller, more meaningful life, I need to access those places. I want to suspend the flow of time.

PS [2016-02006]: Came across this post of mine from January 2012, four years ago, by chance and it seems interestingly related specially the first couple of paragraphs from the quote:

But for me, philosophically, stress is a perverted relationship to time. So that rather than being a subject of your own time, you have become its target and victim, and time has become routine. So at the end of the day, you probably haven't had a true moment for yourself. And you know, to relax in and to just be.
And one day I read in him and he [Meister Eckhart, 14th-century German mystic] said, "There is a place in the soul ... that neither time, nor space, nor no created thing can touch." ... that your identity is not equivalent to your biography. And that there is a place in you where you have never been wounded, where there's still a sureness in you, where there's a seamlessness in you, and where there is a confidence and tranquility in you. And I think the intention of prayer and spirituality and love is now and again to visit that inner kind of sanctuary.

Thursday, February 04, 2016

(Objectless) Hope and (Purposeless) Discipline!

My father is big on discipline, along with reason and logical thinking, and that's why I have a negative gut reaction to all of them, and at the same time, for most of my life I have been a very logical, reasonable, and disciplined person! But I have left all that behind in the past few years. Logic, reason, rationality, and discipline, all gone. Or at least that's what I like to think.

I wrote about ordinary hope, that is centered around an object or goal, and genuine, deep, hopeless hope that is centered around nothing, a lack, or an emptiness. (Maybe not in these exact terms but alluded to it in [Warrior without Hope] post.) Ordinary hope has a lot in common with fear, because hidden in it is the fear of losing the object of hope. Fear is a good motivator and so is ordinary hope. This morning I struggled with this question, how does hopeless hope motivate? This is a very practical question, if you actually try to implement the hopeless hope. (I have not described how, maybe at the end I get to the implementation issue.)

I had a very strange intuition for the answer: Hopeless hope does not have enough potency to get you off the ground, so it requires you to be already moving. That's why discipline is the basic of living with hopeless hope. It keeps you in motion and provides the necessary condition for the hopeless hope to interfere and change the course of actions. Our most potent motivations are object related: we are mainly driven and directed by our needs and anxieties. If we want to separate our navigational system, to some extent, from an object driven mode of operation, then we need to create steady motion by another mechanism. I think the best candidate is discipline.

What is the advantage of a object-less motivational system? First, it is more esoteric. (As in the Taoism kind of thing! Strong argument.) Second, the object related motivational system imposes a very rigid frame on life and specially our sense of time. It creates an hyper-logical system of cause and effect around the axis of time. I have a strong intuition that the rigidity of the worldview and time is an important component of most psychological disorders, specially depression.

This also hints at another interesting notion: the source of discipline needs to be outside the realm of logic and reason, which is exactly what traditions and religions do. They create a set of illogical rituals, and by following them, one can let go of an object oriented sense of time and purpose and hope. They provide necessary conditions for an objectless/hopeless hope to take root.

That is essentially how one go about implementing a hopeless hope scenario. Basically, we would like to make the flow of time and logic/reason less binding and consequential. The pillar of such approach is what I described in a previous post, [Revolving Doors], kind of: letting go of the opportunity-based view of choices and decisions. If time is not linear and uni-directional then we do not have to worry about `losing' time and not having enough time, and losing opportunities. Of course, such an approach creates huge anxieties, so one needs to be an expert in self-calming.

Not sure how this experiment (maybe my last experiment ala [End in Sight?!] post) is going to end, but then, who cares in an object-less world?!? ;)

2016-02-05 9:05 a.m. Update: I am trying to get myself fired up for the start of my (purposeless) discipline, but I am feeling more depressed than excited now! Well, there is always something to work on and an obstacle to work around ...
I think the modifiers, objection-less (for hope) and purpose-less (for discipline), are very important. As soon as object (of desire) and purpose (of action) enter the frame of mind, some sort of rigidity creeps in that fosters depression.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Warrior without Hope

Carlos Castaneda's books are dangerous because they are full of potent and powerful images. The more cautious way of approaching them is to treat them as bullshit and make fun of them, which is much safer than falling in love with them, surrendering to them and becoming depressed or losing it. The more balanced approach is to use those images to stir and activate deep images inside. But this balance is very difficult to achieve.
When he finally grasped that his benefactor, in all seriousness, had resigned himself to fail, it also dawned on him that a warrior's resolution to live impeccably in spite of everything cannot be approached as a strategy to ensure success. ... at such moments a lifelong training takes over, and the warrior enters into a state of unsurpassed humility; when the true poverty of his human resources becomes undeniable, the warrior has no recourse but to step back and lower his head. --- p.224, The Eagle's Gift, Carlos Castaneda
There is a `hope' that is based on opportunity. Here is a good opportunity to do a good thing. So, of course, we want to take it and be good. Nevertheless, the opportunity-based hope is not the genuine hope, because it comes out of the fear of losing out.
True hope only comes as a deep direction in the soul, independent of the opportunities, or even better, against the backdrop of no 'real' hope when 'objective' odds are essentially zero.

Freedom, Religion

A couple of days ago I read a discussion between some friends regarding religion, worship, freedom, and slavery. In Farsi and Arabic, the t...