Friday, December 31, 2010

Unusual things that I really enjoy

Possessing measuring instruments in all domains thinkable. I would like to use them in varied situations and really study phenomena. I would like it to have maximal resolution and range.
1. Measuring light level - LUX meter, Range - 0 LUX to Extreme sunlight
2. Measuring sound - Decibel meter, Range - 15db to 140db
3. Measuring weight in 3 ranges - 2kg to 200kg, 1gm - 5kg, 1/1000gm level
4. Measuring wind speed - Barometer - from 0.1kmph to 150kmph
5. Measuring brain waves 1hz - 200hz Portable EEG
6. Measuring electricity - A simple multimeter
7. Measuring Temperature - Pointer type or normal, range - -50 deg C to 150deg C
8. Measuring Basal metabolic rate, Fat %, muscle mass, Calories in food, Other health related stuf
9. Also like measuring(subjective) emotions and mood using scales like x/10
10. Like to measure the distance between memories  - not by the clock time passed but just by comparing how vivid and real it feels

Instruments that help extend senses.
1. Seeing - Binoculars, Telescope, Microscope, Night vision, Digital camera for storing
2. Hearing - Stethoscope, Sound amplifier and Recorder
3. Smell - I wish something existed, perfumes maybe
4. Taste - Something that would help enhance it, e.g.: some wines
5. Touch - The only think that helps here is concentration or taking weed etc.
6. Mind - Anything on the computer is an extension of the mind and can also store stuff

Anything related to astronomy and comparing interstellar distances.
1. Science fiction stuff like e.g.: Warp drives, space sails
2. Concepts like Black holes, Star formation, Wormholes
3. Space-time fabric and gravity concepts
4. Imagining the magnitudes of distances by shrinking to imaginable scales

Work on creating analogies and interrelating day to day concepts with my findings. I believe analogies serve as a higher form of communication in the order "Analogies < Advanced vocabulary < Simple words". After reading on totally open ended subjects, I like to synthesize everything in the form of analogies. E.g.: Analogy between studying and driving: India vs US.

I enjoy making creative connections using mind maps. Basically totally exploiting the visual medium along with the verbal one we used most often.

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Cerebral movies

I really enjoy watching movies that are highly intellectually stimulating and that keep you speculating till the end like inception and shutter island. After searching on the net, finally I hit upon the right term "Cerebral movies".

Here are some of the recent ones which Ive really enjoyed:
  1. Lost in Translation
  2. Being John Malcovich
  3. Mr Nobody
  4. Travelers and Magicians
  5. Siddharta 1974
  6. Seven years in Tibet
  7. A Man from earth
  8. Inception
  9. Waking life
  10. Shutter island
  11. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind
  12. Vanilla sky, Open your eyes
  13. Matrix
  14. Truman show
  15. Before sunrise
  16. Before sunset
  17. Batman Begins, The dark knight, Batman Returns
  18. Children of men
  19. The lives of others
  20. Altered states 1980
  21. eXisTenz (kina mind fucking but has scope for metaphors)
  22. The incredible shrinking man
  23. Into the wild
  24. Powder 1995
  25. The Exam
  26. Donnie Drako
  27. In time 
  28. Before Midnight
  29. Cider house rules
  30. Groundhog day
  31. Perfect Sense
  32. Click
  33. Phenomenon
  34. Meetings with Remarkable men
  35. Good Will Hunting
  36. Groundhog day
  37. Being John Malkovich
  38. The Never Ending Story
  39. A clockwork orange
  40. Life of a Pie
  41. Cube
  42. Exam
  43. The lives of others
  44. The Tree of Life
  45. Zenith
  46. Limitless
  47. Cast Away
  48. My Dinner with Andre

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Dreaming and Intuition

For a long time I believed intuition is something to do with intense visualization. I would think that the intuition was basically a short mental video that would play in the person's mind which would contain all the information.

The truth turned out to be quite contrary to that. The mental imagery we generate or dream like visuals are actually mental conceptualizations and intuition exists in the non-conceptual space. It happens when you intensely concentrate on your sense perceptions without using the conceptual part of the mind like dream like visuals, mental chatter or talk etc. Something like, you just feel it, but you cannot logically explain the feeling and its reason at that moment.

Stopping obsessive thoughts

This problem seems to come on and off for me. It lasts for quite long like 3-4 days at a time. The problem is even if I think to myself "I will definitely not think about xyz", that exact things just keeps coming back. I was trying this technique of neutral observation and simply labeling the thoughts as mental image, talk etc whenever they arise. This technique works better than the former but nevertheless the habit is so strong and the thoughts are really subtle that most of the time, I realize the forming images and mental talk many seconds later.

I was reading about the mindfulness technique - Shinzen Young who follows an algorithmic approach which kind of suites my learning style. There he talks about watching the entrance of the mind like watching the mouse hole. This concept seemed to be highly useful when I read it but its really vague. Where do I watch?. The mind is non physical. Its like the obsessive thoughts just pops up from nowhere again and again. I read that there is a silent undercurrent from which all thoughts originate. Maybe I need to reach that depth of observation to "watch the entrance".

There is another issue. If I really decide to sit in a place and concentrate, no thought pops up. These thoughts pop up usually when I'm busy doing something else, a neutral activity or something which I don't particularly enjoy. Ive also read that this is common, meaning when we really concentrate on watching thoughts they don't come up. They come out only when the mind is in the twilight zone - thoughts called twilight demons. It seems like a tricky thing to learn.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Lucid dream insight

Nowadays, I'm having a lucid dream almost everyday and the first thing that I set off to do is try to fly. Now flying in a lucid dream sounds really simple since in a dream anything is possible right. But in the actual lucid dream, it takes quite a lot of practice to acquire this skill. And I think this skill would have profound parallels in our waking life too.

There are many non obvious but pertinent aspects that need your awareness and understanding.

1. Though anything is possible in the dream environment, you need to believe YOU CAN FLY. You need to really believe this without any doubt. In a dream, your thought and reality manifestation are just split seconds apart.  Suppose you manage to start flying, the minute you think "I'm gonna fall", the slightest of doubt and your already plummeting towards the ground with momentum.

2. Once you learn to overcome the 1st problem, the 2nd aspect is to be learnt. It is about where you put your attention. While flying if I look at the ground, my mind is drawn towards that and I'm pulled down again. Whereas if i look at the distant object with full attention w/o doubt, ill fly straight to it. It is very similar to the initial stages of leaning cycling i.e. If you look at the ground you usually fall. OR you need to clearly reframe and strongly believe it. Like "Im am a bird with wings and just flap your hands and imagine your hands are the wings".

The difficult part is overcoming the expectation and conditioning from our past experiences in the real world. Even in the real world sometimes a constraint disappears from our life, but our old habit pattern prevents us from changing.

For e.g.: Its like the elephant and the thread story. A baby elephant is tied to a thread and no matter how hard he tries he cannot break free. After growing to full size, he still believes the thread can never be broken, though it would just take a fraction of a second to break it.

These subtle thoughts immediately manifest in the dream world while in the real world there is a much larger time gap. So this realm can give insight into what how even the subtle thoughts, beliefs and feelings can affect your actual intention or goal in the real world.

Monday, December 20, 2010


We may want to travel around the world and see a ton of exotic places. But ultimately we are doing it for a feeling and there are some truths that slip by without us paying much attention. How you feel at any moment depends upon the baseline. Your baseline state is what decides how good your experience will be. Things that drastically change the baseline itself are like drugs, alcohol, being in love, having a crush around, enjoying with close friends and people you trust, engaging social activity. All these things make EVERYTHING around you look and feel better. Your baseline has been uplifted.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

You already have what your looking for..

After having a huge cup of strong coffee( I'm very sensitive to even small amounts of caffeine since I have it once in 3months), on the way back from a snow resort, my alertness was shooting over the roof. My constant day dreams stopped and I started paying much more attention to all sensory inputs in the moment, people talking, the scenery etc. I was looking out of the window at the breathtaking scenery passing by. I could catch my awareness of my inner body slipping in and out. Whenever it slipped, I brought the awareness back and this created an integrative feeling. I started to feel that whatever I was chasing is already there with me. For example: I started thinking about what made that trip special. It dawned on me that I could 'choose to be satisfied till I got an XYZ thing (a car, a trip to a very interesting location, pursuing particular hobbies, getting more money, meeting more people of common interests) or I could merely decide to accept myself completely at that moment itself. So maybe what I'm really searching for may be there at this moment itself. Its maybe just ignorance and lack of continuous awareness that prevents me from seeing the large picture.

That is, accept and ACUTELY observe the following at every moment:
Physical plane inputs:
Whatever input enters the 5 senses(sight, hearing, touch, smell, taste), proprioception(perception of boundaries of your body and inner body feelings) including feelings related to the 5 elements:
Fire - feeling of temperature in the body
Water - the feeling of water in the body
Solid - feeling the solidity in the body
Air - The airy feeling esp in the lungs area
Space - feeling of empty space

Mental plane inputs:
Mind's eye - Images that you see in your mind, they can be quite fluid and fleeting, needs lots of attention to catch.
Talk - Voice inside your head that's like the monologue we have. Our thinking mechanism primarily works by sub-vocalization.
Emotions - Related to paying attention to the hormones released when you have certain visual images with talk combined.

In this state, I can actually witness, how my mood is good until a fear is brought to surface by an image in the mind. First the water like fluid image forms - then a voice starts talking inside my head telling me about the fear in brief - Then there are these uncomfortable hormones and chemicals released usually in the chest area that makes it difficult to breathe.
Each of these phenomenon occur with a very small time gap. It is possible to be very alert and catch them.

The breathing usually has a special connection with mood. When some fear is invoked and the above process happens, you'll instantly notice that your breathing is more strained and there is a mild chocked feeling, it isn't smooth and effortless. When your mood is completely balanced, relaxed and in full intensity, breathing is absolutely smooth. This is easily noticeable even after drinking alcohol, of course that is due to other physiological changes too, but it can give you an idea about how it feels. If you notice the breathing pattern change and make it effortless again, you;ll notice your mood would not get affected as much and would thus recover faster.

Problem of sensitivity and distorted mental concepts:
The problem is that we notice things only when they reach a particular threshold of pain or pleasure. So this is what creates the unawareness. Classic example is breathing. Since it happens effortlessly most of the time, we dont pay any attention unless we start panting heavily due to physical exercise or if we hold our breath. We need to pay attention to subtlety to know the true nature of things. It should not depend upon whether it is less or more than say 3-4+/10 pleasure or pain etc. Insensitive people have much greater numbers. They would only notice sensory inputs that exceed a 6/10. Not only that, they mostly live by concepts in their brain and not real feelings. For eg: If I get that 1lakh $ per annum job my life would be great. This is pretty baseless because a great life depends on a TON of factors and having a low sensitivity robs them a lot of pleasure they could potentially avail of. That is a horrible illusion. Rich people may already know this truth because they are not in nirvana as they expected, and poor people escape by spending their entire life dreaming of being rich. Money is a useful tool for acquiring material possessions, comfort, social dynamic aspects, opportunities to learn and experience. But it is just potential, and there is a LOT LOT more in life besides that. Its just an obsession reinforced by media and society.

You need to visualize your fantasy and try to see the real feelings you are trying to attain by that. If you know what you are aiming for it also means you can generate a good amount of that feeling just by thinking about it, because the physical plane has nothing to do with your happiness anyway. The physical plane is perceived by non conceptual awareness, it is converted to concepts by the brain and then the thoughts generate the dopamine which makes us feel good. This transfer from bare perception to concept is VERY FAST. For example: Look at the light on top of you, it takes a fraction of a second before the word "light" pops up in the mind. Initially it is just an image with no label intrinsic. This phenomenon can be noticed with extreme alertness to gain insight.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Refining the senses

To develop each sense, I believe we need to separate them from the others so that the mind can fully concentrate on that one sense. In our daily life, we have an executive mind, the 7th sense which monitors and keeps flitting between inputs received at all the other senses - sight, sound, smell, taste, touch, proprioception and our thoughts(6th sense).

To isolate each sense, we could use 2 methods:
1. This is the fair and square method where you use lots of will power and direct the executive mind to a specific sense and stay there irrespective of what input you get from the others.
2. You can help this process by physically blocking input from other senses. For e.g.:
  • You could tie a band on your eyes,
  • Use ear plugs for your ears
  • Taste is generally neutral unless you have had just eaten something
  • Smell is also usually neutral or we get used to it
Even great thinkers like Leonardo da vinci recommend such stuff to sharpen the senses because they are the very instruments you use to perceive the world. The quality of these sense instruments is of paramount importance.

Friday, December 10, 2010

Writing a reverie

You can develop aesthetic detachment and distill the aspects/concepts or things that you really want from the situation/event/person using this technique. For example, say you have a relationship with someone, assuming it did not work out later you guys broke up. On retrospect you would realize that you have a lot of residue and associations of that person inside you.

Depending upon the length of the relationship and depth, these residues could be scattered and attached/associated to lots of memories. So when you look at the world around you, you would literally see them everywhere, in a lot of things. Its like there is a prom song "You are everything and everything is you" - by stylistics. The title makes no sense to the rational mind at first glance, but it has deep meaning in the metaphorical sense. "You are everything" stands for all the memories and associations(situation, feelings, places, contexts etc) related to that person.

So assuming the relationship ended in a fairly good note or even if it did not assuming you have reached the break even point and are neutral, you could begin to write a reverie which focuses on all POSITIVE memories and associations. It could be in a story form or you could just write down whatever you can brainstorm or remember. Basically, you filter out all the positive associations and memories and re-visualize those before putting them into words. You need to be very objective about this. Like a good memory may be immediately associated by a bad argument that happened after that. But you have to pinpoint your attention to the time when it was good, moment by moment. This strengthens those memories and makes you feel really good overall. By Amplifying those memories you create a much more positive disposition for yourself, improve your mood and the impact of all the negative memories is loosened and reduced. So now when the thought of the person comes, you'll be mostly reminded of points in the reverie and start feeling good. Assuming you remember this person many times in a day, many many times in a week and so on, its a great investment to shift your focus and enjoy each moment you think of them. Reality at all moments is infinite, we can be aware of everything and yet we possess this power of focus. We can focus on whatever gives us maximum reward.

Here's a link that explains a related concept:

Taste in your mouth as a microcosm

When it comes to insights about the different feelings/sensations we experience in the body, the easiest way I found to understand concepts regarding them was to use the taste in the mouth analogy.

The taste in your mouth is kind of like a microcosm of what happens at the global level in terms of sensations in the body. We have so so many different types of taste we experience, there have been words coined for some of them but most of us would just use a limited vocab of around 6-7 words to describe - maybe bitter, salty, sour, astringent, sweet, pungent, and meaty. Wine Testers have got a HUGE range of taste parameters in comparison. Probably 50 times the level of detail we ordinarily use. But still you may probably also notice the fact that the words we use are just an abstraction and do not indicate the real taste. Language itself is an abstraction. We have evolved and intellectuals etc maybe use vocabulary covering very subtle aspects but it is still some abstraction of infinity.

Another aspect to taste is that we usually have a neutral taste in our mouth. This is technically not fully neutral since sometimes the after taste of what we have eaten lingers. This taste is also influenced by our general body health. Thus there is like so much variation in even the term neutral taste. 2 people may claim their taste is neutral but if we chemically analyze it, we might find them to be quite different.

When we eat some really great food(subjective) we get intense pleasure from our taste buds. The reward is felt. It is probably the most direct form of reward and the most fleeting too. We would get bored of the taste if we eat the same thing for many many days.

We are most of the time unaware of this taste sense unless there is some activity there that is particularly interesting. This is so true even in our daily lives wrt sensations. We are mostly involved in our mental worlds and we pay attention only when the pain and pleasure exceed a threshold. Depressed people reduce their consciousness level and live in a more gross plane because they have a lot of stored pain. In other words, they start feeling only when the pain or pleasure is high. We should ideally strive to become maximally sensitive.

We also crave for certain foods the same way in life we crave for certain experiences that make us feel better. We cannot really describe, imagine or recreate this feeling precisely but the impression of the magnitude of reward is stored somewhere.

I could go on and on :). In this way, you could even observe you sense of taste to acquire insights about your overall feelings. They follow similar patterns and its much easier to start of with taste for understanding.

About people's judgements and threads of core beliefs

People's judgments about you are a prison too. Considering the tons of social interaction we have everyday, its easy to get lost and start believing that we are what all the people around think of us - stuff like - You cannot do this? You are not good enough and can never be. I wouldn't want to entrust this important work to you. I don't believe in you etc.

The real underlying truth is though, we have tremendous potential to change. We drastically underestimate this and limit ourselves. To realize this tremendous power we need to really observe our core beliefs. They are quite difficult to catch and are usually invisible like water is to a fish.We need to continuously observe ourselves like a hawk to start realizing these core beliefs. They may be more of feelings and we may feel them by our intuition, probably cannot be accurately conveyed using language.

We can identify them using a cycle of 2 steps:
1. Concentrate on the Real feeling
2. How we could translate it in language and concepts

The both can iterate with each other. That is part of my purpose of starting this blog too.
Its kind of like sketching in designing...where as the designer sketches....he starts getting more and more ideas.....the process itself is significant.

Another analogy that comes to my mind is that of the elephant(assuming it s a male) and the thread. When the elephant is very young he is tied to a thread. No matter how hard he tries it cannot free itself from this. So he gives up on it and starts believing that the thread can never be broken. Once the elephant grows to full size it can snap the thread in a fraction of a second. It is probably many many times stronger. But the limiting belief formed in childhood prevents it from even taking action.

So we need to build greater and greater awareness so that we can actually spot these threads and break them. Metaphorically the thread stands for core beliefs and the hold they have on us.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Suprising insights

Sometimes, it suddenly dawns on me that our mind is just creating a limited definition of self and maybe the self is something much beyond that. Maybe we are like leaves in a tree but all sharing the same source that is the root of the tree. We inhabit an integrated system filled with causality and relationships. But we are still interconnected everywhere and need to encompass all of that.

Lucid dreams recreate a world that is stunningly similar to the one that we see in our daily lives. Its unbelievable when your in one and realize the entire dream is created using your own memory. There's this magical feeling. Its like your inside some fairy tale. You also feel floaty and high throughout the dream and the best part - semi or fully conscious of what is happening. The sudden realization that this is a dream and unreal is quite moving. Many spiritually advanced people have commented that the same realization occurs in the waking world once you wake up from the living dream. Even this normal dream - lucid dream transition needs to be experienced to see how dramatic this shift is.

Other ways to explain:
Say, a person decides to himself that he is just the thumb on his right hand and nothing else. He so strongly believes in this and has totally shielded himself from accepting anything more that. He has motivation to do that too since handling an entire body is 100 times the responsibility. And he also has a lot of thinking spells when he thinks the whole body is against him(the thumb) and develops lot of anger. But the truth might be the entire body could be unwell affecting the thumb in the process.

A mental image of an object or person is harmless by itself. It is the impulse the image triggers or associates with, that creates the problem.

Example for person: You look at a person you hate, or imagine it in your mind, it creates an impulse and soon after the chemicals related to hatred are released. So, I believe we can use our will and consciously break the connection between the image and the impulse so that we see 'image as image' and 'impulse as impulse'.

Example for object: There is another link that can be broken here. When you look at an object, the act of seeing the object is harmless by itself. A memory associated with the object is usually triggered and this memory triggers pleasant or unpleasant feelings. This link can be observed and broken down if we put strong awareness on this fact when it occurs.

So, even from western science point of view it is interesting to study the science of perception and examine what links can we witness and then control.

Seeing/Hearing/touching/smelling/tasting - Mental image ---trigger/associate-----Memories - emotional release(hormones and chemicals)

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Problem of higher sensitivity

Leaving India has been a relief in many ways for me. There were so many things that would hit my self esteem, sense of control and knowledge of my own opinions. I would easily get manipulated by people around me and get influenced. Had to keep struggling to get my original self back each time. Here in the US, my old conditioning at all levels(people, family, environment) has been weakened and people here aren't as judgemental and I feel a sense of freedom.

About the problem:
1. A person is mostly pessimistic, keeps on whining and lives with a scarcity mentality. Also whines about reasonably medium term goals like getting done with studies, his social circle or about getting a job. So even if you are originally in a good mood, if you interact with this person your mood gets affected to an extent and loses its spark. If you concentrate and maintain high awareness on this fact then you can reduce the damage to a good extent. But the damage nevertheless still takes place. You can just intensely watch it to minimize its bad effects. This is about mood. Probably happens to many people who are reasonably sensitive to their environment.

2. Another issue is that of manipulation of opinions. This I think is not as common. Like if someone says "Ohh this color looks miserable, this design is miserable, this item is miserable, this particular job description is terrible, our lives are so terrible(when there is common context)" it generally distorts my view too and it takes me a while to recover. It affects me at a level beyond my intellect, maybe directly hits my subconscious. I tried to address this issue by reading more and more and getting a ton of knowledge, perspectives etc. But somehow, it did not make much difference. I would still get affected quite a lot. I think its not really the content but a direct transmutation of the emotion itself. Maybe its that person's emotion that viscerally passes over to me. I somehow don't seem to have much conscious control over it. All I can do is watch it intently and remind myself that I would get back my original thoughts soon.

Its super uncomfortable when the people you interact with, polarize you into into their moods, opinions, frameworks, viewpoints etc. And somehow I cannot control this much even if I pay attention. I accept whatever they say or do at a subconscious level. This feels very creepy because the force of my will power and critical mind cannot easily stop this. I think distrusting myself has become a subconscious habit developed from childhood. Its like I have to violently rationalize with myself and even after that it takes some time for me to stabilize and get my original views back. While I'm in this internal battle, its like firefighting within and this is like a desperate attempt I make each time to not lose myself. I still cannot figure out why this happens to me. Whenever I read intellectual and insightful material i'm get pretty convinced and my views totally change. But if i don't read any such material for long enough time, my opinions, behavior just goes back to its old conditioning and gets continuously affected by people with whom i interact with regularly. So I need to keep myself from moving into other people opinions, way of life and beliefs and totally lose myself in the process.

This internal struggle that I need to do to preserve my sense of self control and beliefs is like a virus makes your PC work at 1/4th the speed it could. I could be so much better as a person if I did not have this problem. Maybe I'm hyper sensitive to my environment and people's emotions. I think there is a psychological term to explain this, don't remember right now. On the brighter side of things, its not uncommon for gifted people to face such issues :). Their hypersensitivity gives them great advantages and some unusual problems. I'm working towards finding a solution for this.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Interesting comparison between IQ, EQ and SQ

I used to be a fan of IQ in my childhood until engineering. Then I started to notice that EQ is probably more important then IQ, because I read about and witnessed loads of successful people who had average IQ scores. Now, I'm wondering about what is SQ and what it really means.

An article I read explained this pretty well

Included below, is a part from the article:

Spiritual Quotient (or SQ) is the ultimate intelligence, they claim. This is the intelligence used to solve problems of meaning and value. "Is my job giving me the fulfillment I seek?" "Am I relating to the people in my life in a way that contributes to their happiness and mine?" Answers to these questions determine whether we will find happiness or not. IQ and EQ are inadequate in such issues. SQ is about being able to heal ourselves of all the resentment we carry. It is thinking of ourselves as an expression of a higher reality. It is also about how we look at the resources available to us.

The transformative power of SQ distinguishes it from IQ and EQ. IQ primarily solves logical problems. EQ allows us to judge the situation we are in and behave appropriately. SQ allows us to ask if we want to be in that situation in the first place. It might motivate us to create a new one. SQ has little connection to formal religion. Atheists and humanists may have high SQ while someone actively religious may not.

Future technology - more thoughts

Ultimate best friends:

Say, there is a system that contains all the imaginable knowledge, direct mind's eye accounts, visualizations, impressions, opinions and thoughts from people's brains all over the world, basically a much much larger version of what we see in Google.

When we into the system, the system would directly sense our visceral needs and alter our brain's electrical pathways directly. There is no need to even translate it into language.

If such a system should exist it could become our ultimate best friends. It would generate the perfect conversations, perfect activities for us because it could use the entire world's brain content to engage us through direct perception like the matrix concept.

1st concern: Immediate future tech and concentration:

I think technology today is creating an overload of information. There is just too much information thrown at you at every instant of time. Its enslaving us.
  • Like if you check out videos on youtube about conceptions for the future, you might see -
  • A coffee cup with a ton of information displayed on it.
  • Screens showing information everywhere measuring some phenomenon or the other.
  • And it might not just be textual, it might even be video information like buildings with screens throughout their exterior showing animated billboards and videos
  • Zillions of gadgets that you carry along with showing that keep buzzing you and interrupting your train of thought all the time.
This is actually the same problem with watching too much of television. The orientation response problem. We cannot reach the desirable brain wave states like
  • Alpha - a state similar to getting moderately drunk,
  • Theta - of reverie and fantasy, children are usually in this state
  • Gamma - state of super learning and highest sensitivity and perception. Children in their language learning stage show a lot of gamma activity

While continuously watching TV, due to continuous movements of the camera every 3-5secs - panning, zooming etc the orientation response is triggered. Orientation response is basically fight or flight.

To give an example: If a guy goes into a relaxed alpha state while playing his guitar in the forest hears a lion roar, he shows this orientation response and shifts his attention to the roar and decides whether to stay or run. He then moves into the beta state. This is a stressful and restless state.

The TV does this to us every 3-5 secs. How can we ever hope to reach the more desirable states? Huge amounts of information thrown to us all the time by work and technology is doing something similar in my opinion. As it is many many people have major stress issues and cant truly relax. All these extra inventions would only exacerbate their situation. And with all the medical improvements available, they would keep getting temporarily cured and be stuck in this cycle and live in delusion.

2nd concern: If each person decides to live in a tailor made virtual world like the matrix, will we ever find common purpose again among human beings?

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The issue of not getting bored

This is a funny question which has been in my mind for ages:
How on earth do people get bored?
And usually you would expect that such people would try to keep looking for fun things to do all the time. You would presume that they have very low sensitivity towards the stimulation they receive from environment and relationships.

What fascinates me is the case of workaholics. Their boredom actually pushes them to pursue commercial money making activities like taking up plenty of part time jobs or working extra hard in their full time job. They earn a lot of money in the process and also gain respect from society which thinks of them as intelligent, diligent and productive people.

In my case, it is very hard for me to get bored. I have tons and tons of things I want to do. It keeps changing everyday too. So its like a flowing dynamic and even in a period where its more or less static I can only fulfill 20-30% of what I had planned/wish to do. The interests only keep broadening with time. And the prospect of me getting bored is getting weaker and weaker.

I even attended a meditation camp once. Sat for 10 days there, 10 hrs of meditation everyday, followed an oath of not talking or even communicating to anyone during this period, just slept for 5hrs everyday, little food and no dinner at night for all the days. Can it get worse than this? and yet I never really got bored, and definitely did not go crazy.
Am I at absolute peace with myself or what?

The problem for me is that I too desire society's acclaim, praise, respect. But the actions I need to get all of those are just too steep and I find it quite hard to get motivated to do those. Simply because, I desire plenty of other things which are instantly gratifying. So in the equation the delayed gratification variables get much lower priority.

I also think of other angles to it. Like take the case of a drug addict. If you give deep enough thought and research 'why people get so terrifically addicted to drugs', you would realize that drugs make you feel tremendously high. You become a much better person and feel so good. Reaching this kind of state, fair and square in life following the typical path set by society may just be impossible. You would get 1/20th the reward and it would take 100 times the effort. So slowly no action starts making sense to them because the reward is nothing comparable. So in my case it could mean I got high sensitivity and so many preoccupations and thoughts that they form a very rich internal world which keeps me entertained all the time. So I do not see any big motivation to really channel my activities in a way that makes me APPEAR productive to society.

I thought getting bored would give me motivation to start pursuing those kinds of activities. But bored is actually an unpleasant state, I should not desire that. I'm confused. Its a peculiar dilemma. I don't know if I live in a highly enviable state? Should I feel good about it and continue this way?

Sometimes its difficult, when you totally follow your heart, it takes actions which totally do not align with what society might accept, approve, admire etc. Maybe that is the truth. It just comes to the point where you ask yourself "Do I have the courage to accept the real truth, stay with it and follow it?"

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Analogy for studying in US vs India

Driving in US is like studying in India and driving in India is like studying in US.

Driving in US:
1. US has fixed rules for driving(course expectations and deliverables).
2. Everyone follows them(everyone follows the same fixed course structure).
3. There is a feeling of security and you could do a lot even while driving - like talking on the phone etc(Before the final exams there is a lot of free time with little pressure)
4. You mostly have a GPS which shows you the road map(since everyone has the same course structure and expected to deliver the same things the map is fairly clear - your seniors have done almost the same thing, you could borrow their notes and analysis).
5. The road are mostly at right angles, have a defined structure and fairly simplified compared to the complex shortcuts you could use in Indian roads(like you have limited options, you cannot do an independent study, take courses from other departments. Basically very little customization).
6. You have speed limits which everyone follows(Like you need to submit the assignment on that specific day, you cannot give it anytime before that).

Driving in India:
1. You need to be alert(Continuous flood of information in all fronts - course related(smaller picture), career related(larger picture))
2. Continuously aware of the road(You need to evaluate, time manage and keep making choices all the time)
3. Keep minutely making course corrections(Due to such a lot of customization, you are always making corrections)
4. No GPS(People here cannot really provide a road map, notes for you. They would keep asking you to look inside yourself, find your passion and then move in that direction. Even your friends cannot help you much because assignments have to be original, your classmates may not be constant because of course choices)
5. No speed limits: People can submit assignments anytime before the due date based on their time management strategy. Even in the assignments the standard expected is not fixed, it is upto the student. (The student could either spend an inordinate amount of time and generate an excellent one or could just spend enough time to get done with it with decent quality.)
6. The roads are most of the time not in right angles, they could curve at any angle and there are tons of narrow roads and shortcuts for reaching the destination.(Since there are so many options to customize, you have myriad paths to choose from)

Saturday, November 27, 2010


I think most of what people do is related to acquiring the 4 A's - acceptance, approval, admiration, adoration; and respect from society. I feel this overpowering influence in my life too. Generally speaking, am I really doing what I want to do?Why am I doing whatever I'm doing?What are my motivations?Are they real ones? You could think of fairly plausible answers even as you look at these questions but if you question these further and further, you see through some of your habits and motivations.

In my case I noticed:

1. A large part of my self is defined on how others view me. I might form my self view based on the weighted average of people's views about me. I might assign much greater weights to people I care about like family, certain friends, people whom I dated etc.

2. I get frequently lost in philosophical thoughts and totally lose touch with all the activities that a person in my context would typically do. It is some form of dissociation which keeps coming back.

3. I have a ton of other preoccupations related to very diverse interests that can suck me into a state of flow pretty easily. Even in this case I lose all awareness of the expectations I am to meet.

Like I had 11 days holidays here. I'm sure most of the students here would have done a decent amount of studying, homework or something related to bettering their chance of survival. In my case, I just got lost in my preoccupations and interests and lost all awareness of all these practical concerns.

Sometimes I feel this is some form of rebellion inside me. I am resisting all these conventions and I want to be free.

Then I question myself,
1. Why do I want a good job? - to get good money, to buy luxuries, to lead a comfortable life, to make a difference

2. Why do I want money, luxuries, security, making a difference - Because I think they can give me satisfaction and happiness

3. You would not have enough time to enjoy the money, how does it still do it? - Because society would accept, approve, admire or maybe even adore me for it. So yea by repeated questioning I once again hit upon the 4A's.

I also hit upon these 4A's when I look at my other activities. Like why do I flirt(besides the physicality part)?Why am I looking for romantic interests?Why am I looking for close friends?

Some of the questions to ponder about:

Why do I want society to accept, approve etc?Is it really so important?Is it conditioning?Upbringing?Why is society such a major force controlling our actions?Is this really the optimal way?What is the real truth behind it?Why do we seek these?

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Aesthetic detachment

This is a very interesting concept I came across.

Here's a part from an extract:

A special attitude with which to approach art, nature, and other objects. First, it differs from a practical attitude and has no concern with practical (sensual, intellectual, or moral) utilities. An aesthetic attitude takes nature or a work of art “for its own sake.” In this sense it is “disinterested,” as Kant emphasized in his Critique of Judgment. Secondly, it does not involve personal desires, motives, or feelings in dealing with an object. This freedom from desire or emotion is called “aesthetic distance” or “aesthetic detachment.” Thirdly, in contrast to a cognitive or scientific attitude, it is indifferent to the real existence, the content or the meaning of a thing. It does not appreciate an object through bringing it under concepts. Instead it is a pure appreciation or contemplation of the perceptual qualities of an object as an object of sensation. It is claimed that in this way we can live in the work of art as an embodiment of our feeling. Schopenhauer and Heidegger ascribe a metaphysical importance to the aesthetic attitude by saying that it can reveal the essence of reality more profoundly than conceptualization.

I think having this artistic attitude is liberating in a way. For example if you've just had a breakup with someone whom you invested a ton of emotions, you could write all the feelings and impressions down and thereby detach yourself from your experience. It helps you see the reality - good and bad of the relationship, all the different perspectives in a much clearer manner.

It reminds me of a story I had read about a great French impressionist painter Matisse. A visitor to his studio pointed to some unholy pictures hanging on the wall and asked Matisse: "Don’t you think these have a demoralizing effect on people?" The artist calmly replied, "My dear man, it is not a woman, it is only a picture." An artist sees only a picture in a woman, whereas an ordinary man sees a woman in a picture–this is the difference between the two. This does not of course mean that all artists are holy sages. But in them the creative urge becomes so strong that it produces a certain degree of detachment–aesthetic detachment as it is called.

Of course this is very rare even among artists but it kind of demonstrates the concept. The artist basically creates a kind of psychical distance. The connection between the images in his mind and his impulses are supported by his will. Thus, if he detaches the will the connection can be broken in theory. It is a very challenging endeavor though.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Movies as a portal

Movies are a sort of portal for you to get into someone else's shoes and experience the world from their eyes. Though how much you can get into the characters depends upon how much resonance the events and nature of the character create in you. Its kind of like music. If you hear a totally classical song when you're in the mood to hear something fast and jumpy you are not going to have that level of engagement. So even while choosing movies its good to watch one that matches your mood and interest at that point of time for maximum involvement. Watching late night helps in creating the uninterrupted environment and low background light level. Another advantage is that, late in the night as we approach our sleeping time we are naturally drifting towards the alpha state. Alpha state is a great state to be in and an involving movie usually deepens this state. You can observe your reactions to the different events occurring in the movie and its a great way to analyze yourself.

The problem with movie watching though is that its too passive. And its difficult to reach a state of high concentration because of the continuous orientation responses it invokes in us - panning, zooming and constant movements of the image on screen. So its difficult for your mind to settle down and get truly involved. It tunnels your awareness onto certain aspects that are highlighted by the cinematography and that is stifling in a way.

I think future technologies might explore possibilities such as:
1. Fly around and watch the same scene from any angle you wish
2. Maybe, the whole TV could be 3D
3. A Holographic room
4. A headgear like device similar to Johnny quest
5. A device that gives you that 1.5hr dream in the correct sleep phase
6. Something that directly manipulates the electrical activity of the brain itself to recreate those experiences

Techniques to reduce sugar craving

Eating desserts after having the meal has 2 main advantages:

1. The blood sugar spike is minimized since in your meal, your consuming complex carbohydrates which only gradually increase blood sugar levels. After that the consumption of the sweet relatively does not cause such a big spike.

2. Eating desserts on an empty stomach/when fully hungry causes a much greater craving for those items. Eating them on a full stomach comparatively causes much lower craving.

Another way suggested to reduce sugar craving is to frequently keep consuming small amounts of food.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Thoughts about jobs and future

I think we are still living in the 'Industrial Revolution' era. Machines and technology have dramatically increased productivity and quality of products but the overall mindset is still the same.

The business domain still thinks in a similar fashion:
1. Create better products, reduce cost, more efficiently utilize existing technology, look for technology that would improve efficiency and cost etc, expand the business by:
- increasing quantity of production and expanding
- Expand by creating new products itself
2. The office/work system of having work hours and responsibilities has not changed much too.

In other words it is about constantly re-evaluating the balance between Cost, Quality, Technology utilization and expansion with the ultimate driving factor being profit. (some may include value added to society)

Why do we have the system of work in the first place?
If you truly did what you wanted to do all the time that wouldn't be called work. Isn't that closer to what we might want?

One might expect the daily work hours to reduce to 4-5hrs a day by now '2010' but on the contrary, it is still 9-10hrs average in most countries. Why has this not decreased in spite of all the faster and superior technology available?

I think in the future there might be a fundamental shift away from this mindset. There would be a re-evaluation of what truly matters. I think in the future all the jobs that we do today will be done by machines and we could freely relive or experience anything we want either in the real or virtual form. Technology would enable us to connect far deeper with other humans and all of us could live self actualized lives. This would be some sort of paradise.

Observations in America

Capitalism is so ingrained in the American culture. Underlying it is the theory of the survival of the fittest, which sets competition as the basic driving force of life. The importance of success and winning is reinforced with an obsession with competitive sports, and their glorification of the best athletes and the richest people in the world. Even getting into the political system involves offering and selling ourselves as candidates, by publicizing how much better we are than our rivals for office. "Selling yourself" is like the mantra you would find everywhere.

It appears that most local people have embraced this culture. In general I have not observed much rebelling tendencies. People tend to be totally tame and seem to accept the system with their heart too. Almost everyone follows rules in all forms, be it traffic rules, standing in queues or waiting for people to pass by. People seem to be highly courteous. I witnessed almost a true "Dignity of Labor" concept here where people from all spheres are equally respected including blue collar workers. Maybe all this is related to the maturity level of the economy. Back in India, fat people were usually rich and thin people were mostly poor. Here, the economy seems to have already passed through that stage. Rich people here seem to have greater awareness about fitness and maintain themselves and conversely the poor people are the ones who tend to neglect the quantity and quality of food consumed and tend to become overweight.

The credit system in the US also seems to be quite convenient for consumers. The credit handling companies are in the middle of everything. The consumer, mall owners etc are all related to these companies. So the person selling the product to you does not really lose much even if you fail to pay your bill by credit because he would have a tie up with the credit companies. (The credit card companies would in such a case impact your credit history and privileges and through your SSN). The helpers in the store are paid on an hourly basis. So going to a store for window shopping is quite pleasant and the helpers are very friendly and do not appear to have any vested interest in you buying the product.

The amount of disposable income around here is crazy. This might be aided by the credit system too since people buy most things on credit. There are so many commodities and varieties, its staggering. Owning a private boat here isn't uncommon and there's a huge variety for that too. Everything is laid out in a platter with all the variety well sorted according to category,quality and price. The variety is especially surprising in the recreation, arts and music sections. E.g.: Huge variety in archery sets, other hobbies like building remote control toy cars etc

You tend to wonder, where did all this come from? and are there really so many people here buying all of these? The shop doesn't seem so crowded? How do these guys make money? How do they handle the logistics part? How can such systems exist?

It almost seems like a melting point of all the best items manufactured in the world. This combined with all the variety laid out in a platter showing you everything from the lowest quality - lowest price to the highest quality - highest price creates a high motivation to be rich thus strengthening and keeping the system alive.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

About Enlightenment

Most self help books and websites address all the problems at the level of the mind, but when you talk about enlightenment, you need to transcend the mind itself. I read that Buddhism does not encourage the use of the intellect at all. I thought to myself "Oh, how can that be, are all those guys dumb or live life's that are highly under stimulated and simplified etc, Why would someone agree to that, the greatest gift we have is our thinking ability". But then, I later realized that their idea was to transcend the mind itself. Their logic is like "the only way to win the game is to not play at all". The fundamental nature of the mind is the "wanting state". No matter what you do, what you accomplish etc you would always remain in that state. So you need to sort of move into a higher dimension. Their lives were kept simple, abstaining from sexual activity etc but this was not exactly a total sacrifice. The reason for that was: Sex is one of the most powerful attractive forces at the level of the mind. So in order to transcend it, you would rather not have this powerful force tightly holding you". And about the simplicity of their life, the reason for that is, we erect our whole sense of self from memory. If this is too rich and complicated filled with varied likes/dislikes/passions/aversions it becomes difficult to transcend it. When you minimize your likes/dislikes/wants etc. your self is fairly simple and it makes the transcending part much easier. Generally if you completely overcome the fear of death, you would overcome all fears since death is the root for all fears.

Another question asked is that, does an enlightenment person ever suffer? The question of suffering/pleasure is a qualitative judgment at the level of the mind. When you go beyond that, the question almost becomes irrelevant. Enlightened people are in contact with the instrument of life force itself. They would always be like light and pass through any situation seamlessly including death. They would be aware of the mind and its conceptualization but they have the choice to turn the mind off. The consciousness force with them is like an iron ox and even death would not scare them.

Free your consciousness...

I think when we are just born, all we have is consciousness in its full volume. There is no preference for anything. In fact it is said that even the sense of self is after the age of 4. Below that, a child cannot clearly distinguish how it is separate from the environment. For the memory to start functioning, first we need to have a well established sense of self. That is why it is difficult or almost impossible to recall anything that happened before the age of 3-4. But unfortunately, this memory system is what deprives us of the consciousness. Initially we have this ball of consciousness with us which is like the sun - radiates it in all directions. Now so many complex entities control this consciousness. Beliefs, thoughts, opinions and your own sense of who you are formed from all of that. This sense of self prevents us from seeing the real picture of who we are. That is why it is commonly referred to as a prison. The consciousness is who we are. We are not the body or even the mind. Now, this might sound ridiculous or just impossible to conceive. Actually it is possible. Anything that you observe cannot be you because the very act of observation separates the observer, observed and the act of observation. We can observe our entire body and our every thought. So we cannot be any of that. It takes some resolve and practice to reach this stage where you can clearly see that when you observe something intently enough so that you are separate from what you observe. After reaching this stage, you realize, so many things are just controlling you. You think you are all those things but you are actually none of that. Its kind of like imagine you could only walk on the ground and suddenly someone takes you on helicopter ride. And you're like, I don't need to do what i do all the time, I'm not restricted, the prison is in my mind. Of course these aha moments are short lived initially and you get pulled into your thoughts and ego quite fast.

The thinking mind creates a game with a whole new set of rules and goals when what you are is none of that. Society has its own rewards and games and prevents you from seeing the real truth. Another thing that prevents us from even thinking in those directions is the huge investment we have made in creating our whole self esteem and concept of self. Creating a parallel road and walking on that is very scary and requires a fundamental shift. All you need to do is totally trust yourself and be absolutely honest with your feelings from moment to moment. You don't need to play that game at all. You are free. It should kind of feel like matrix or a dream that you have woken up from once this realization gets strong. Work hard now and you'll live a smooth life later is the biggest myth. Its just a pain avoidance behavior and that behavior will only be strengthened in future. The only way to increase happiness to to continuous be that way. You know yourself the best just like the taste in your mouth. No matter how many words you use, or how articulate you may be, only you will know your absolute truth inside you. There is another difficulty in realizing this truth. It is habits, past conditioning and our huge storehouse of memories reside in our subconscious mind. We have invested such a lot in creating those and we so identify with our life stories and experiences. So the shift is quite radical. It is simply observing all of the above and dis-identifying yourself from them because you are none of those. This is extremely liberating even as a concept or imagination. Its even more radical than any heaven you can imagine because you are complete at every moment. Having a dream is a sign that your current state is not as good as what you dreamt of.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

How do you deal with someone who hates you

People who hate you cause a huge amount of misery especially if they are in the same context as you and where you would need to meet them regularly like a college, office, school etc. The issue is common especially between very close friends when they have a fight or with an ex(GF/BF). A girl friend or boy friend with whom you have broken up is kind of like a failed marriage or a huge expectation mismatch. I think in either ways, its a failure to accept 'reality the way it is'. The person somehow affects you far more than you would expect. Because you have invested a ton load of emotions and time on that person, that person's opinion about you carries a huge weight-age. If I would analyze this further, the person manipulates you at a subconscious level. So if they express some negative emotion towards you, you get an unexplainable queasy feeling in the stomach and you might think to yourself "Why on earth do I react so much?Why cant I just ignore it". Once you're in that mood, you start feeling vulnerable and get polarized to feel that everyone is looking at you in the same negative way as the Ex.

When the more mature one the fight tries to resolve it, the problem can be compounded if the other one has serious anger issues. Its funny, some people can only express one emotion well, that is ANGER. Generally people who are neglected, physically or emotionally abused, with severe problems in their self esteem, body image etc. sometimes suffer from these anger issues. Anger is a kind of defensive mechanism to protect you from the real feelings. So the person lives in the false sense that everything that is happening is the other person's fault with so much conviction. The thing they don't realize is that they are very obviously hiding from the real truth and that the anger burns them far more than the people they are throwing it at. The problem, as with most things, this habit once formed just becomes a self-strengthening loop. In any self help article, the common theme is, 'face the real visceral feeling without the shield of anger'. That is how you truly overcome past pain. Another problem is that, even if you tell them this, their denial and ego would kick in. Thoughts like "I'm listening to this person who tortured me etc. Whats up with me? What can this know about psychology etc?" come up and whatever is said to improve the situation results in a series of denials emphasized by a "No" at the start of every sentence. It is impossible to rationalize with a person in that state. Even time may not breakdown their ego, because they would keep strengthening their old habit patterns at every moment till the end of their life.

I think the only way to deal with this is to melt them with your nice behavior and avoiding deeper and personal conversations. If you get angry, then you're lowering your consciousness to that level. So my approach might be, watch yourself when you react to this person, use your evolved reasoning and insights to prevent a lowering of your state. What comes out a person's anger is more about the person's anger than the content of what is said. The content that comes out is usually an exaggerated slanted version of all the bad things you did.

Let me attempt to put it in the real context. The allegations represent a very tiny portion of reality in proportion to everything that you are. Secondly, since the person is filled with anger, a distorted, slanted, exaggerated version is created of that tiny fraction. Thirdly, it represents the past which is imaginary in the context of this moment. You might have reacted that way in the past and it might have been the best approach considering your STATE(level of knowledge, personal interests, priorities etc.) at that time. That state might be irrelevant now. So at every level getting severely affected by that person requires you to revisit the context I have described above to dissolve the past conditioning or habit.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Getting inspired..

Inspiration and Love reside at the highest rung of consciousness. I need to meet people in that vibration to stay in that state. They seem to be difficult to find. Sometimes I see inspired people in specific aspects, but I'm not able to establish connection with them. I mostly form "small-talk acquaintances" with them because our global aspects - mindset, world view, cultural influence might differ a lot. The ideal combination would be people with child like enthusiasm and wonder and who are overflowing with it. So they do not expect anything in return. Its just for the pure joy of sharing the same passion. The synergy when you interact with people that state is an awesome experience.

I frequently try to bring myself up to that state. Reading high vibe stuff elevates me to that of inspiration temporarily but I get pulled down by mundane talk and pressure transmitted by people at lower rungs.

Speed of time..

Time flies by when you are happy, engaged, enjoying etc. and slows down to a crawl when you have extreme pain. More than the 'proportional theory' of time' these experiences seem to have congruence with the general theory of relativity which states "spending 1hr with a loved one would feel like 5-10mins". In the clock time sense, the theory states that - heavier objects warp space-time and slow down time. Like if you stand next to the pyramid in Egypt, time should be slower for you compared to a person standing far away. I guess time perception is more important than actual time passed since that is what would impact you. I think time perception would be related to how much new information you're processing from the environment. If the environment is all familiar and you are doing the same things that you've been doing for ages, time seems to go by very fast since there is very little new information added. It is also a factor of how aware you are at the present moment with respect to your surroundings and body. Things in the environment need to really captivate your interest to that extent for you to feel time slow down. Time would thus essentially be the slowest when EVERYTHING is new around you and when you are most intrigued by them.

Maybe at the time you were just born or if you visit an alien planet which is fundamentally different in every aspect compared to ours. Even a 1 day visit to such a planet would be the information equivalent of a month or more on earth. Traveling to a new place should slow down time too. Office is the most common environment where time starts to go very fast once you get accustomed to the job. Months pass by and you kind of have a feeling your losing control. Day -dreaming surprisingly makes time pass real quick. Maybe because no new information is added during day dreaming, in retrospect nothing much is remembered and hence we feel the time just flew by.

It is also said that, emotions like fear collapse time while awe expands it. It is also said that for stress free productivity you need to be relaxed first. So maybe relaxation without reduction in alertness should also slow time. The difficult part is that when we think of relaxation we conjure up states of mild hypnosis and stupor, but it is actually possible to get relaxed w/o compromising on alertness. Ive noticed this while drinking alcohol(assuming you've already had more than enough sleep to start with). The relaxation greatly increases without compromising attention. Another thing that comes to my mind is martial arts and sports when I think of time perception or speed of perception. In shaolin kung-fu and even bruce lee's jee kwon do it is emphasized that you need to turn off your mind and stay in a no mind state. Maybe we need to turn off the thinking mind to greatly increase our perception of time. Marital art masters train their reflexes and speed of perception to a level of 0.1sec response. That is if an average person's movements(0.3sec) would appear to be 3 times slower to the master. Martial arts is a very intriguing discipline as it trains both the mind and body.

Watching movies after midnight

Watching movies after midnight is fun and has quite a few advantages:
- The brain resides at the alpha state or twilight zone at this time and is fairly relaxed.
- After watching the movie, anyway you would be hitting the sack, so you do not have to think about all the tasks you need to do for the day.
- There is complete silence in the night - no birds chirping and other nature sounds, very very few cars on the road.
- There are no pending jobs for that particular day
- Have a high quality headphone and viewing screen coupled with a high quality DVD print is a luxury
- This lights can be turned off while watching, and since its night, all you would see is the movie screen

All these factors hugely improve the quality of the experience and they maximize the involvement and reward :)

Friday, November 12, 2010

Childhood imagination

In my childhood, I had a very cartoon like view of the world. I saw reality in a very simplistic way. Most people consider this stage to be a passing phase and will tell you grow up, become mature, understand reality and other such things. Along with those comments they would also include 'Enjoy this childhood phase while it lasts'. Underlying all these comments is the opinion that child like thinking is inferior to what an adult might think.

In my opinion however, childhood is a magical phase and is no way inferior to the way an adult perceives the world. The consciousness is the same but the experience is still so radically different, just like how you are the same person during deep sleep, dreaming and while awake. These states from the surface seem completely disconnected, but they are all connected at a higher plane.

In creative professions like designing things first start of with very rough and ambiguous sketch. You might question, if the person is so good at drawing, why should he draw a sketch that is devoid of details and why should it look rough and ambiguous? Isn't that a quality of a non artistic person? The idea of drawing a rough sketch is to explore the breadth of ideas and to stimulate imagination. If the drawing is concrete and embellished with shading and color, it is very difficult to explore ideas using that as a base. Such a drawing would be a prototype and not a sketch. A Prototype is generally used towards the end of the design phase after narrowing down all the ideas. The rough nature of the sketch stokes our imagination and we try to fill in all the holes. A child;s view of the world is similar to the rough sketch. There are so many holes to fill. The child fills in the gaps using his/her imagination and this is not limited to the plethora of constraints the real world poses: social, ecological, anthropological and psychological. So in essence all of us have passed through this magical period where we begin to conceptualize the world and we actively use our imagination. In adulthood, the view of the world resembles more of the prototype stage. Your imagination no longer functions as vividly and freely as before since you are aware of a whole new HUGE set of constraints and most options get dismissed right at the start. It should be noted though, that most of the creative geniuses like inventors and artists did find a way to access this free association state and that is what lead to all the extraordinary work and groundbreaking inventions.

Virtual worlds of the future

In a dream, we are practically unconscious, but we still retain conscious traces of it for a short while immediately after waking up. We go through so many virtual worlds which are sometimes so intense and filled with so much emotion. There is this unreal element to them. What happens to us during this period? Its still a mystery. There are so many theories floating around. Some say it metaphorically fulfills our day's residue of expectations. Some of the other neuro-scientists consider dreams to be random electrical activity in the brain and after waking up we try to interpret this random electrical pattern using our conceptual or rational mind - prefrontal cortex.

Somehow a dream sleep feels more fulfilling than a dreamless sleep in my experience(assuming you are sleeping comfortably for more than 6-7hrs). I sometimes feel that dreams are a higher form of communication far beyond things like language we have in our waking life. The communication through dreams happens at a different plane or dimension itself. Its might probably be the next breakthrough after language. We may be able to communicate with others directly by using thoughts or visualizations. Basically all that we see with the mind's eye can be transmitted directly as electrical impulses to another person's brain. So in essence the person on the other end would see exactly what you see. Maybe language itself might become obsolete and we could share far deeper bonds with people than is ever possible today. The virtual world and the real world might become almost indistinguishable. Each person might choose to live in his or her own concept of utopia. Choosing to live in the real world might actually become a 'choice' or we could slip in and out of it at will. We could explore crazy depths into our imagination potential in a collective way. Artificial intelligence can be created to address exactly what you need in the visceral form itself and not what you think you need. So you would kind be living in a miracle world where everything is a miracle. Such inventions would fundamentally change the concept of how we view ourselves and may open up new vistas or paradigms for exploration itself.

Concentration as a goal by itself

Among all the numerous goals we have in our life, concentration and awareness lies beneath all of those. Everything stems from that. Awareness is an effortless state reached once you reach a certain level of concentration by training. Awareness is our natural state. When we just entered this world, we were fully aware. After that there are numerous things that happen to us in childhood and the unfortunate part of that is we are quite helpless at that age. Most of us have lost huge amounts of ability to really see reality due to all our childhood conditioning. Our every thought and action is conscious at first, it only becomes an ingrained habit after doing it plenty of times. Maybe the habit or behavior created was the best option at that time but it may not apply anymore. Even after we identify that we are still not able to adapt since habits, beliefs and conditioning seep into our unconscious mind like a tetris game. So many opinions, beliefs and habits prevent us from seeing the real multifaceted nature of reality. These opinions, beliefs, habits and over reliance on rational thinking are like a prison. We need to undo this conditioning to free our attention.

Instead of having a lot of discrete goals I was thinking why not have a single goal, that "I would be completely aware and mindful of whatever I experience and am going to be completely honest with whatever I feel w/o any judgment". This would initially be a strong resolve and an endeavor and later it would transform itself into a state of higher consciousness itself which is awareness. Wont all the other things just follow? You might even discover what really matters and what doesn't? Get some new insights into reality - like your perception, beliefs, conditioning and how all these aspects influence you in your daily life, interactions and dreams? If you are mindful at every moment, you would obviously take the most optimum decisions and choices since you are completely in touch with yourself all the time? Its kind of like moving into another dimension itself. Wont you be living a self actualized life in such a case which is also deceptively simple in its rules?

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Concept of momentum

Momentum is everywhere. In the wind which carries the leaves and moves the blades of grass. There is so much momentum even in the small waves of the beach. Roller coasters, tsunamis, hurricanes etc. show us how powerful this force can be. Even partner dancing like salsa, jive, tango etc involves creating momentum and maintaining it and that creates excitement and flow with the interplay of push, pull - domination and submission.

We need to create sufficient momentum to achieve or learn anything. Its so easily observed in sports too. I noticed this making the transition from badminton to tennis. Badminton is more about flicking with the wrist while tennis needs an entire shoulder motion. When I was learning football for the first time, a small kid with half my strength was doing a far better job than me. Momentum is classically used even in martial arts or boxing. Even while swimming, in my initial stages, my movements were both pushing me forward and backward, thus canceling each other. So I would never generate any speed. Similarly, while learning roller skating the same thing happened. After pushing with one leg, when I would go to the other I would lose all momentum. So that is like the difference momentum can make. This is taming and utilizing momentum in the physical world.

In the mental world, there is so much of invisible momentum. Its like an invisible force. I think this is what high achievers generate within themselves. Our fears, preoccupations and habits usually prevent us from acquiring the required momentum to achieve our goals.

Personally, with work related stuff, I procrastinate till the pressure starts channelizing the mind and a stage is reached when I know that the work needed would take exactly all of my time and probably even a stretch. At this stage, I start working with momentum directly proportional to the pressure. Towards the end of it as i race towards the finish I almost reach a state of flow. That kind of gives me proof of how much momentum I can generate. However, this momentum depends on external factors and situation. I need to explore and find a way of generating that level of momentum internally, at will, independent of the external context and situation.

Other ways of looking at money

Becoming a millionaire seems to be an exciting journey. Its a rich experience and can be very rewarding if you have the right motivations and if your inner world is relatively free of conflict and rich too. Even the people working in regular jobs do not work much less than a millionaire. In fact the millionaire has the option to quit anytime and still lead a very luxurious life. He has basically freed himself of money scarcity and stepped into abundance. Abundance is what allows us to be free and who we really are. Free from this preoccupation, the person can decide to pursue any dream from that point. Keep yourself fully mindful of all the possibilities where social value overlaps with personal value and that is the first step to finding money. Keep doing the things you like to do and be free in your expression. At any moment of time, you are working towards what you really want. Is just that you are unaware of the deeper parts of your mind. So a behavior may look ridiculous at the surface but if you actually penetrate to the level of core beliefs and view the entire picture, you would realize that you were indeed doing what was best for you. The awareness needs to be increased a great deal. Your motivation would come more from 'What do you want to do after getting rich? Is it purely a personal goal?. Generally higher the goal, higher the energy. Like if a person decides I will do my ultimate best in whatever I do with an extreme determination, then getting a promotion in a company or winning the appreciation of his colleagues may be a reward he would get effortlessly. Whereas if the persons only goal was to get promoted, he may manage to achieve it but the motivation would lack the power and effortlessness of the former. So a strategy could be work an keep in mind your highest goals, the lower goals would automatically get fulfilled, maybe even more than what you may expect. In any case life is about finding out how you really are and all the experiences you feel along the way. It is also about penetration from the gross to the subtle in terms of both depth and breadth. The western world professions do a very good job at identifying and utilizing subtlety in the material world. Every profession functions at this high level of subtlety. Money is an instrument that helps you express yourself in the material world. Once a friend told me, it is like petrol for a car. The car can then be driven anywhere. If the car represents your material needs then this analogy fits well. I think as you lead life, if you are extremely honest with what you feel and act according to that, you are truly being yourself. I believe this simple higher goal control everything and the rest of the lower goals and thoughts are more like a game.

Frustrations with money

Becoming a millionaire seems like a very complex endeavor and the path seems so vague. There are so many beliefs that we have deep within us which kind of deter us in a way from achieving this goal. Books like 'Rich Dad Poor Dad' and 'Secrets of a millionaire' talk about these beliefs and how our conditioning and environment has played a major role at how we look at large amounts of money. Owning large amounts of money is potential. The real motivator is usually the experience of a service or product itself. So its kind of difficult to understand how people all around me are so motivated by money(potential). If you have money you get social approval, appreciation and respect. Is that so damn important in people's lives?Would you like sacrifice a huge chunk of your free time just for that? Its ridiculous the things that people do just to fit into society. This is not a rebellion against society but I think people are just being paranoid about it. The herd mentality is so infectious we stop trusting ourselves which is the most unfortunate thing. How can you be bad for yourself? That's a contraction and it makes absolutely no sense? How can someone else know the taste in your mouth? Why cant people just trust themselves and be happy? Or be more honest with their own feelings? It is understandable if primary needs are not getting adequately(subjective here) satisfied or if u have a loan, then you do have a very strong motivation to earn enough money.

But if a person is going to spend 9-10hrs+ at work, 22days a month for a period of say 40yrs, and we sleep 7hrs a day on an average.

So if I factor everything,
you have 8784hrs in a year
- 2562hrs sleeping - approx 30%
- 2420hrs at work - approx 30%
- 3802hrs of free time - approx 40%

This is assuming the typical working class white caller job. Usually offices demand much more than that. How much stress you carry home needs to be measured. After completing minimum 10hrs of work, you may need to work extra hours on many days and work on weekends too.

So it would kind of go closer to 40% - work, 30% - sleep, 30% - leisure

Now in the 30% leisure time, its barely all leisure, you got to manage a HUGE number of things even in that zone. Its a life full of juggling responsibilities. Why the hell do you need to do that?
Whats the use of buying a very expensive couch if I cant sit on it long enough without any stress or worry. That is like the most inefficient method ever.

Then other paradigm is that, if you are motivated to work. Some people have specific interests and even there, there's a lot of variation. People with COMMERCIAL interests would be much more successful at making lots of money while there are plenty of people whose interests have no room for the typical large scale commercial options available. Every person on this earth adds value. Why is money making so narrow. It is 100 times harder to become a great artist than it is to become a manager in a firm even if you have the same ability in both areas.

Why is getting a job so hard? Why is it so hard to plug into social systems that generate value and create money? Aren't work hour timings supposed to reduce with better technology? It has just got worse. Whats up with people. The difficult part here is, all these constraints of reality in this domain will make you reconcile to them and do the needful till you need is satisfied. But where do I get the motivation from?People expect you to be driven, motivated, passionate? Giving 10hrs of work per day minimum is hard enough, the mental state requirement makes it OUTRAGEOUS.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Concept of heaven

What is your concept of heaven?Is it universal or person specific?Whatever heaven we humans create, wouldn't it be limited by our imagination?Would heaven be a place where we could create our own heaven just as we want it and change it at any point of time? OR would it be something universal? What is the most pleasurable feeling possible? What if heaven were filled with only things that gave pleasure? Wont pleasure lose its meaning in such a context since we know pleasure only because we know what pain feels like. So if we have positive feelings all the time, it would lose its value, meaning just like if we could convert stone to gold by alchemy, gold would completely lose its value. Pleasurable feelings exist only because their duals exist.

So if a universal heaven exists it should be higher than all of the above. It should be something incredible or inconceivable from our current state.

I think the below concept appealed to me the most!

There is no time, space, size, shape or quantity there so your mind cannot imagine it. There is no quantity like 5,000 people since there is only one thing which is a oneness. The thing that is there is feeling. Try to imagine all the greatest feelings you have ever had coming together and all the best feelings that everyone has ever had coming together in one place. It feels like total contentment, perfect peace, pure joy, limitless happiness and endless love. When you feel it, you know that is what you have always wanted to feel or experience.

Enlightenment might allow us to reach this state in our normal lives.

Qualities of a diamond mapped to experience

The ideal +ve experience is where the mind is like an infinitely large diamond that is clear, does not hold anything but yet, reflects/refr...