Journal 2021-07-10

Confirmation bias afflicts even the most objective thinkers. I am generally sceptical that people, especially in our current febrile state, have the wise nuanced answers to the big questions of society, philosophy and the human condition. I think we are usually wrong, despite the confidence and self-certainty of the protagonists, wrapped-up in self-constructed “isms” and other ideological belief identities in which to force life. But things always change. We are improving. It is better to say “I don’t know” or “I don’t know who I am” and experience where reality turns on the journey.

Approval Addiction

If you are indifferent to others’ opinions about you:

You don’t need to pretend or hide anything;

You don’t need to worry about impressions or what was said;

You don’t need to be conform to rigid or mistuned expectations;

You don’t need to be offended or hurt by words;

There is no need to show-off and chase false, empty priorities;

You break the addiction to the approval of others;

You break free from inhibitions;

You have freedom to be who you are.

Perspective

The first stage of learning is being unconsciously incompetent: you don’t know what you’re not good at because you don’t know what you don’t know. Well-being skills can be learnt. One typical motif is that how you look at anything changes your experience; for example: anxiety can feel like pleasurable excitement, as the body in both mental modes vibrates in a similar state of high energy; or a difficult situation is your challenge to evolve and an opportunity for personal discovery; or peace of mind is your inner state of being, not the possession of external conditions. And so on, all empirically true but under-practiced.

Anger

Anger. What a silly thing.

Is it of any use? Nope, it unbalances you.

The Orcs in the Lord of the Rings are driven by fury and are utterly useless at combat.

Energy from anger is polluted, destructive, counter-productive.

It can be used to instil fear, to incite others and to self-aggrandise – which is why it has been the emotion of choice by demagogues and sociopaths.

It is often learned as the default response to any frustration.

There is often anger at other people for not behaving as it is believed they should.

The reality however is that you have no real idea what has and is happening in the other person’s life you are judging.

The fact is you only ever see a tiny aspect of all the moving parts.

Journal 2020-11-20

Never ever put yourself down. 

Reasons:

  1. Some people will revel in doing it for you. For their sake as much as yours, don’t make the conditions easy for them.
  2. Don’t diminish life; whoever you are, you are amazing and unique.
  3. Faux modesty is dishonesty.
  4. Don’t insult other people’s good opinions.
  5. Be strong for others. 

 Some personal pep talk points:

  1. Be in a position to help.
  2. Your growth should enable others to grow too. 
  3. This isn’t a zero-sum game.
  4. Relative measurements are irrelevant.
  5. Have fun!

Journal 2020-10-30

Interesting to read that the Chief Economist of the Bank of England thinks creativity will be impaired if people do not work in an office. My prediction would be that creativity has more chance away from the noise and haste – based on the familiar theme that original thinkers, artists and spiritual figures often had some of their best insights in the wilderness, in periods of solitude, outside of bustling society.

The observation is that distance from the current melees gives a person a better perspective of the whole picture. More generally, insiders of the throng who are unaware of their predicament, are condemned to behave as they think they are supposed to, blind to anything more than the current array of behaviours, even in extreme cases where it is insane.

Journal 2020-10-27

The whole song can be better heard by listening – rather than making and amplifying noise.

The problem is the insistence on certainty, and building an identity around this, with everyone thinking they are always right.

No matter how certain you think you are, even if momentarily touched with lucid insight, you are probably not completely right (yes, including this).

There is no shame in not seeing everything or not understanding all the complexities and ramifications of all ends.

“Problems”

What to do when you have everything?

Want more.

Invent more problems.

Feel unsatisfied, waiting for an event in the future that never comes.

Fill the void with distractions and medications.

Become increasingly selfish, shallow and self-obsessed.

Worry about losing what you have.

Want what you have to be acknowledged as better than others.

And repeat…

(unless you can break this loop).

Journal 2020-08-11

Reading Hamlet.

It’s been done millions of times, but my instinctive interpretation of Hamlet’s “To be, or not to be” soliloquy is a bit different from the many performances I have seen. In fact it may be unhelpful seeing other people’s performances because the blueprints distract from my own relationship with the words.

Every single person has both uniqueness and a shared oneness with everybody else. What is interesting is finding the individuality and playing with it, rather than blandly mimicking other people or current socialised expectations.

Human Cyborg 2.0?

Given how technology is moving, all the functions of your phone will be migrated directly into your brain. The “screen” will be projected into your vision and options chosen by thoughts.

All vision, sound, thoughts and feelings could be recorded. You could download and replay any recording from your experiences, or indeed from any experience of anyone else. Communication by mindscapes could replace the spoken and written word.

Your mind could operate any physical body.

Your perception of reality could be changed. Undesired emotions or detrimental thought patterns could be switched-off.

You could instantly download data and skills; and have immensely augmented cognitive processing speeds.

Your thoughts could interact with an artificial intelligence that could calculate the most efficient algorithm for any process you wish to undertake.

This isn’t fanciful thinking; it’s the implied current direction for the future. The awkward question is to what extent is this really desirable?

Of course any totalitarian regime could easily control their population by these means. An empowered sadist could run amok in all the enslaved minds.

Philosophically it makes me wonder what it is to be a human being; but in the realm of practicalities, it makes me certain: humans have to become worthy of the knowledge we are gaining.

Journal 2020-07-06

An obvious point is that there is greater chance of releasing the magic if not consumed by self-aggrandizement or conforming to other people’s expectations, especially if the current norms are harmful and wrong. Success in transcendent goals is not the same as success in negotiating positions of status in the current society, which of course will change with the relentless passage of time. It just so happens, however, that those people who were motivated mainly by intrinsic value, rather than their individual psychological desires, produced the best long-lasting examples of beauty and creative human potential.

The Colosseum

The Romans viewed the Colosseum as the zenith of civilisation, representing the natural order playing out, in glory of the Gods. In the arena was unadulterated murder and torture for the entertainment of the baying crowds.

People 2,000 years ago are us, just brought-up differently with different beliefs and living under different conditions.

Humanity has mostly now progressed to recognise the depraved evils that were socially accepted in previous times – yet a person of the time would have gone along with the accepted norm, assuming it was right because everyone else said it was right. They were wrong.

Unless you think we are currently at the zenith of civilisation, what are the great injustices of our time that are socially conditioned and accepted as normal justifiable behaviour?

Replication

A pollyanna vision of the arc of technology is that if robots can do all the work at higher levels of productivity than people, then in theory everyone could be wealthy, enjoying the fruits of automated labour. People are then liberated from economic and social necessity to fully explore life; to hopefully find true beauty, love and self-actualization – instead of struggling, worrying and fighting over limited resources to survive.

Looking through the attic I came across something I wrote a while back, that was a little less pollyanna:

“School is typically a training in becoming a drone, with extra badges and gold stars for conformity to the set standards of assimilation into the machinery. The next life stage is to be oiled-up with the particular drugs of choice, to desensitize and negotiate the drone bot through the system, for the waiting skip at the end (unless not already fallen off into insanity).”

Made me laugh. Maybe I had watched too much Star Trek.

Journal 2020-05-23

Like a virus, negativity will attack you in the world and attempt to feed on your energy. A thick skin is some defence, but is fragile and needs constant fierce protecting, in a battle that will be eventually lost. Rather that becoming one of the infected, with it eating away at you from the inside and spreading or intensifying the infection of others, it is better to be immune.

When you don’t need validation by someone else’s good opinion, you have gained your freedom to be who you are. People have every right to have an opinion about you, but good or bad, it doesn’t make it true. You know what is true, it may be buried under heavy ancient layers but you are the one to know.

Enjoy and accept the positive when someone has sensed something in you that resonates in them. The truth is that you become immune when it is no longer about you.

Something instead of nothing

1:  Why is there something instead of nothing?

3:  Given an infinite amount of opportunities anything can emerge from the chaos, including our world. 

1:  But why are there infinite somethings compelled with energy, rather than nothing?

3: There was no beginning, our universe probably burst forth from another universe and so on. It has always been so.

1:  But where did the first universe come from?

3: Not everything has an answer yet, but no doubt it will be explained with the advance of scientific knowledge. Even if the goal is not reached, there is no need to include supernatural causes in the equation. Logic requires that we deal with verifiable facts, adopting the most efficient explanation.

1: Time does not make sense. The existence of things does not make sense. Can we not postulate the existence of something beyond time and space that created everything? Can we call this God?

3: There is no need to do so. We may not know what the variable x is yet, but we should not start invoking imaginary entities.

1:  Something doesn’t feel right.

3:  There is no evidence for the existence of a God or Gods, the world is explicable in terms of scientific explanation.

1: The fact is that I have always believed in God, it’s not a considered opinion or the product of upbringing, it’s just what has been instinctive to me.

3:  Ok well a cognitive scientist may explain this as a natural propensity to religiosity, there by natural selection to give a purpose for the survival of the organism. 

1:  Is there any meaning?

3: A person may look at the nature of the universe, see the randomness of outcomes, the cruelty and enormous suffering and decide there is no benevolence at work here. They may look at evolution by natural selection and decide there is no plan here. The universe, although magnificent, does not care about us – we must make our own way and make our own meaning in the brief window of opportunity for existence.

1:  Suddenly you’re speaking with feeling, maybe your outlook is motivated through sympathy and outrage at the sufferings in the world.

3: It is logic replacing delusion. Myths and fairy stories aren’t needed anymore.

1: I admire your beliefs more than belief systems motivated out of fear or desire for self-reward. I don’t care what you believe, as long as your actions are kind.

3: My conclusions are not beliefs. Religious delusions have been the cause of so much of the worst in humanity.

1:  Religions are subject to corruption, yet the spiritual path can be found in the different traditions.

3:  A God is not necessary to be spiritual, to behave with morality and to appreciate beauty in Nature.

1: You do have a belief system. You believe the universe ultimately has no purpose and its existence can be completely explained by rules contained within itself – when in fact there is no way of knowing the ultimate causes of things. You believe the answer to the mystery of existence is that there isn’t one.

3: I am offering the most logical approach to understand the world.

1: I don’t believe that the world would exist without a purpose. I believe in the possibility of a reality beyond this reality, beyond cause and effect, time and space. In this life I see the purpose as feeling connected with the world, being present and alive, feeling love, creativity, beauty and joy. The true reality of experience may run far deeper than what our senses show us.

3:  I deal with facts and what can be observed, not imagined.

1: Reality is tenuous – it can be anything depending on what our senses show us. Whether what they are showing is objectively real is unknowable. I think you have too much faith in the material surface reality of things, a reality that in itself does not seem complete.