Category Archives: Life

Can We Miss Out? Is death an example of missing out?

The If you are good, you will get foundation philosophy which society lives by teaches us that unless we can prove our worth, we will miss out on our requirements for development and survival. This is really just another way of saying we will DIE.  Missing out equals death to the subconcious mind, because most people believe death is a case of missing out. In society, we are often taught that death is inherently bad, and always to be feared. Of course, death is a very real thing, and one of the only guarantees in life. But is death really an example of missing out? Is it actually possible to miss out on your requirements for development and survival?

Well let’s start with survival. Your requirements for survival include everything your physical body needs in order stay alive long enough to receive the development (life experiences) you were meant to* receive. Everyone who is alive is obviously receiving these requirements or they would not be alive. Everyone who is dead has already received these requirements. They now either no longer exist and so there is no-one there who can be missing out, or you could say that the components they are made of have moved on and are performing work elsewhere, and so they live on in a sense. If you believe in some form of afterlife, this is still not a case of missing out. The only view of afterlife which includes missing out is the idea of being eternally punished in hell, and this is obviously an incorrect concept which has evolved out the notion of free will and the if you are good, you will get philosophy.  So no one ever misses out on their requirements for survival and existence. But what about development? Well that all depends on which model you are using to measure the success and progress of your life. If you believe that development is measured by the accomplishment of desired outcomes, then you will most definitely have many times when it feels like you are missing out on what you need. On the other hand, if you understand that development is correctly measured by the gaining of wisdom – an accurate account of reality, and that every experience you ever go through facilitates this development, then you will understand that no, it is impossible for anyone to ever miss out on the requirements for their development or survival! This certainly does not mean you will ever live up to the superhuman feat of never getting lost amonst incorrect thoughts and experiencing the fear these thoughts cause. It happens to everyone – to be human means to be in a process of growth.

But of course, people most definitely die. So if death is not a case of missing out on our needs for survival and development, what on earth is it? Well, it is simple. Death is change. Nothing more. Death is simply a process of change. And this process of change is how the world works, so to call it “bad” is not very wise. They say the earth and ourselves were born from the ashes of dead stars. I think this is a good metaphor to explain that death and birth are just two sides of the same coin.

Of course it is completely human and to be expected that the death of a loved one would bring on some form of grief. And of course since every person is performing a valuable role, we must make every effort to preserve life. But in order to help someone who is suffering after the death of a loved one,  I think Byron Katie has the best advice: Thank the person for dying right on time.

*By “meant to” I mean that a person’s life unfolds the only way that it can given everything involved in the process which causes it to go that way.  They receive the only life span possible.

Wisdom Versus Knowledge

As humans have evolved over the years, there is no doubt we now understand a lot of things that we did not understand before. The advancement of our scientific knowledge of the universe is simply amazing. We can communicate around the globe at a click of the button. We can study the chemical composition of the stars. We can even analyse the smallest components of the atoms we’re made of. But what I want to talk about in this post is the distinction between wisdom and knowledge, and how they are different from each other.

If you look up the definition of both words on google, you will find no clear distinction between them. But there is a distinction. First let’s look at knowledge. What is it?

Well seeing as it originates in the mind, knowledge must consist of beliefs, because the mind operates solely via beliefs. Knowledge consists of those particular beliefs a person hold which correspond to reality. In other words, beliefs that are true. How do we know what is true? Well we can really only  rely on the reasonings (justifications) which our life experiences provide us with, which is why different people having had different experiences will believe different things are true. Even the results of scientific studies or mathematical equations are still examples of people coming to conclusions based on their life experiences. So the person with the largest and most connected network of logical reasonings on a given topic can be said to have the most knowledge on that topic.

But if you have a close look at those people in society which seem to have a vast amount of knowledge, you will sometimes find that they are very much lacking in wisdom. And some of the people who seem to be very wise may not have a large amount of scientific knowledge at their disposal. So what is the difference? What do I mean by this?

Wisdom is a certain type of knowledge, just as knowledge is a certain type of belief. It is knowledge of the true nature of reality, and our existence as humans. It is not do to with  having knowledge of the specifics of the universe’s small components and their behaviour, but rather having knowledge of what all those components are doing in the big picture. How do they all add up? What is truly taking place in life? What is the system of life all about? Wisdom is a developed awareness which allows a person to look beyond a superficial threat to recognise a more important beneficial factor or reason for things unfolding the way they do. Wisdom is the factor which neutralises fear and allows people to psychologically survive what they witness.

For example let’s say you have a very smart individual who specialises in theoretic physics and has won many awards and much recognition for his/her work. Now obviously this person would have a lot of knowledge about the the way the universe works (or at least you might assume that). But now let’s consider that during one of his lectures, he makes a huge mistake in calculations, and ends up making a fool of himself in front of his students and peers. Maybe afterwards one of his peers laughs and sneers at him. Well what would he do? That would depend on his level of wisdom. If he understood that there was obviously no shame in making the mistake since such an outcome was the inevitable product of the universe’s existence, he might help educate his peer to understand the same. He might even be thankful to be offered such a great opportunity to explain to his peers how to measure personal value, and that such value is never under threat due to the events taking place in life.  If he was seriously lacking in wisdom, he might view the situation as threat against his self esteem, and start think he must make sure such mistakes never happen again. He might be so anxious to prevent the mistake that he has an anxiety attack at his next lecture. He might make an even bigger fool of himself, and people might start to think “he’s lost it”. Maybe his career slows to a halt. What then? Well all those events would definitely be helping him to gain wisdom, because despite all his knowledge of physics,  he was still not aware of the most basic functional characterises of the activity in the universe. He was there thinking that the components of the universe are somehow in competition with each other, and that some components can be deemed worthless just because the they follow a trajectory which other components don’t like. He did not understand that all components of the universe are deemed valuable because of the automatic and unavoidable influence they have on the system.

 

For another example, let’s look at the human body –  a healthy one. Let’s look at an analogy. Try pretending for a minute that you are a cell within the human body, called Doug. Yes this might sound odd, but bear with me. If you are a cell within the body, and you’re going about your activities as a cell, you might start a conversation with another cell – we”ll call her Cecilia. Let’s say Cecilia is very interested in gaining knowledge about the activity going on all around her. So she starts asking questions and experimenting. She starts comparing all the cells around her and seeing how relate in size. She starts looking at their unique shapes. She observes how they interact with each other. She measures how long they take to move a given distance. She measures how much this speed changes. She tests what happens when she exerts a force on another cell. She even slices up a cell thousands and thousands of times to see what’s it is made up of. And so she ends up with a huge bank of information and facts about her surroundings. She finds she can use this information to make predictions, and invent technology to make her tasks as a cell easier.

And she says to you “Doug, I am very wise – look at all of this knowledge I have!”.

But then you turn to her and you reply “Well that’s very impressive Cecilia. But I have a question for you. What do you think we’re doing here?

Cecilia looks puzzled, but but she insists “well there isn’t really a purpose to our existance, all we can do is measure things and come up with numbers and statistics and use them to make our life better! Life is what you make it! We’re all unique and have to make up our own life purpose.”

You stare at her quite fondly and answer. “Oh really, that’s interesting. But what criteria are you using to judge whether your life is getting “better” or not?”

Cecillila thinks for a few minutes. “Well it’s getting better when it’s more like how we want it to be. Did you see that skin cell the other day? He dissapeared off the edge of the world. I don’t like that at all, he was my friend. Maybe we can make it so no more skin cells dissapear. That would be much better.”

You start smiling. “But what if the skin cells are just doing their job? What if they’re playing their role in the system?”

Cecillia has a look of distaste. “System? What system Doug? Are you saying there’s some kind of higher power? That’s a load of rubbish. I’ll believe it when I see it. Those poor skin cells deserve better!”

You sigh. Then start to reply. “Cecillia, you can see it. A system is a collection of parts. We are a collection of parts. We are working together, whether we like it or not, all influencing each other in order to bring about that which this system is producing. We are all valuable to the system, and receiving our needs from the system. Due to cause and effect we go about our activities for as long as we are meant to before the next generation of cells takes over, with our every action being controlled by our unique array of influences.  That is the understanding which is missing from your knowledge. That is what defines the reality of our lives as cells. To understand that is to have wisdom.”

 

The Demands Of Life

Life. It can be hard sometimes. It can be demanding. People are always expecting things of you. Expecting you to do things and make particular decisions. Sometimes it can feel like it’s just all too much – you can’t seem to cope with it all or come up with answers on what decisions to make.

But a little clarity in what life is actually demanding of you can go a long way to helping you to feel better about your day. You see, life never demands anything of you that you will not accomplish. Life is governed by action and reaction, and as such whatever it demands of you, it will cause you to do. Whatever you end up doing, or whatever decision you end up making, that WILL be the decision you were always going to make due to all the causal factors involved in your decision making process. And so there is no reason to ever think you are not living up to the demands of life.

Of course, few people understand that in society, and so your mind will often end up thinking it really can make a decision that life did not demand or govern via cause and effect. Your mind will often get confused and think it is completely in control of itself, completely separate from the causal chain. It will often imagine itself not as a biological and spiritual process unfolding through time, but as a static personality, a being with a distinct and unchanging set of characteristics. This special entity known as “you” is thought to have a supernatural power over the universe in order to choose it’s own thoughts, choose it’s own actions and choose it’s own destiny: Your mind often thinks it sits at the helm of it’s own existence.

So what can we do to give it a reality check? Because that’s what is needed in order to feel ok about being subjected to all that life offers up. Well we can try to understand that our mind is like a computer, constantly ticking away, processing information, working at problems. We can imagine all the neurons in the brain like a circuit board, and every time a thought pops up in the mind it’s like electricity is flowing down a specific part of that circuit. A computer is never in control of it’s own actions – it has to be programmed, just like all humans are programmed by genetic and environmental factors.

So next time you feel stressed think about that picture of the mind at work, and you might find you take your responses less personally. When someone asks a difficult question, instead of thinking “oh god what am I going to choose say?”, you might simply wonder “Hmm I wonder what it will come up with to say, that’ll be interesting”. When someone expects something of you that you are not able to fulfil, instead of thinking “Oh I should’ve been able to do that, I’m a terrible person”, you might think “I wonder why my mind didn’t prioritise that, that’s interesting”. When you are confronted with a difficult decision, instead of getting stressed over “which should I pick?”, you can ask your mind “I wonder what it will pick”. Because it WILL pick something automatically at every second to be the focus of your attention. And where your attention goes, and what decision you end up making is really ultimately  NOT UP TO YOU. The concept of “personal responsibility” is not a lesson in wisdom. But, you will find that those who are up to the level of development where they understand this, are also those who tend to behave in a way you might consider “responsible”. Meaning they will not be the ones out there trying to hurt or belittle other people, because they understand the people they meet are acting the the only way they can given their current belief system, and they also understand they were always meant to be running into such people, and they are incredibly valuable.

So then, understand you are governed! Take peace in the fact that everything you do is precisely the thing that life demanded you to do! Thoughts do not pop into your head because you picked them, they pop into your head because life demanded you think them! Take them as instructions and go about your day with peace of mind!