Saturday, December 17, 2011

Baseline mood enhancers

- Cool air (6 - 12 deg C)
- Fresh air
- Humidifier and dust filter for dust/pollen free environment
- Medium strength - Intermittent or Continuous breeze (in a beach, building terrace, traveling in a vehicle next to window)
- Physical comfort with strong and balanced posture (not lying down or slouching)
- Attractive visual setting with emotionally pleasing items and arrangements OR pleasing scenery (like sightseeing, natural beauty or novel environments)
- Comfortable soft fur/feather jacket that fits well
- Clear lungs - steaming + neti pot
- Cold water dip or shower - around 25 deg C or even colder
- Smooth unobtrusive effortless breathing
- Yoga and breathing exercises (eg: Pranayama)
- Meditation on pleasant sensations
- Hearing favorite music through excellent headphones or earphones
- Interesting stimulating social setting - friends/family/significant
- Intellectually stimulating conversation or reading material

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Mental pleasures

Learning, Exploration, Mastery, Teaching, Creating, Intensity, Concentration, Focus, Fulfillment, Satisfaction, Freedom, Accomplishment, Success, Understanding, Integration, Connection, Truth, Beauty, Love, Knowing, Control

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Random thoughts - 3 Dec

My energy levels are somehow much higher when I am engaged in some social activity like group meetings, informal meetings etc vs me staying at home. Today I spend 6 hrs outside the house with no lunch (just cereal inbetween) on a design group meeting where we had to go to the university and a friend's house for filming a video. Somehow after getting home, it feels so good to put on the music I hear everyday. The same thing used to happen when I used to get back from office and play the same music.
Why does the music sounding so much better and fulfilling after some intensive social activity/environment(work, outings, meetings etc.)?

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Thinking/Learning styles

Learning styles:
Visual - lectures
Auditory - diagramming
Kinesthenic - learn by doing

Thinking styles:
Linear - Mathematics, accounting
Global - Literature, Philosophy

Plan to add on this list.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Random thoughts - 30 Nov

Food: looks vs taste: Totally different facets of experience

Today while I was eating my favorite, I closely observed how the food looked and then took a morsel in my mouth and felt its taste. On paying close attention, I discovered something strange. The visual part of food and the taste part of it are like 2 different worlds. There are some relationships, like something black indicates its burnt etc. but taste and visual appearance are so different in qualia. As a metaphor, I thought about how some people looked average but yet they can make you feel so good.

Wonderment food: Ancient man from villages or visits today's city

I was just imagining...what if I was a man from ancient times, say 3000BC, living in a simple village and I visit my current city for the first time.

What are the things I would wonder about?
  • I would be surprised by all the mega organizations like food outlets, the standard look of buildings, infrastructural complexity, the common language of rules which people followed, superstructures that enabled coordination - in small villages, everyone may know each other and speak the same language with very basic infrastructure
  • automobiles for transport - it was only horses or bullock-carts in the villages
  • the kind of music in eating joints - the whole speaker technology would strike wonderment, its ability to re-create a vast array of sounds from just a small magic box and induce great pleasure....the village may just have live instruments
  • Foods like ice-creams and the sheer variety and complexity of food available should strike wonderment - villages may have staple food made from only a few ingredients
  • Artificial lighting with its reliability, brightness, consistency and longevity would astound - villages may just use daylight, fire and candles.
  • The paving of the ground for roads, sidewalks with decorative tiles would be something to marvel at
  • Planes in the sky would look like giant birds
  • The variety in people's clothes, its quality and workmanship would induce wonder - villages may just have clothes covering basic parts. In cold regions, they may use coats from animal skins with workmanship just to fit the requirement
  • I would feel so alien - since there are huge number of people following the invisible rules and fiercely moving about with purpose but I do not know anybody
  • Typing on a computer keyboard would feel so unnatural and the screen technology would amaze. It can create representations of the real world, virtual imagined worlds. In fact it would take some time to get used to the flickering LCD screen and perceive the depth and 3-D perspective movement from the images on the flat screen
  • Sitting in front of the computer for 10+ hours a day would look like a very strange and uncomfortable thing to do
There is so much to admire and wonder about even in today's world. We fail to see these perspectives. If this world can induce so much wonderment if you are coming from the past, imagine what the future would be like? Wouldn't it be as astounding for a present day man?

Deconditioned and inspired action: Taoism philosophy

I wish I could give up all my obligations, liabilities and responsibilities and stop this compulsive action from external force. I want to be totally at rest and all my actions should be out of inspiration  and not because I am forced by external stuff.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

What would you ask?

If I could ask for a wish from a God, I would choose one of these:
  • The most magical and euphoric experience ever and a strong memory of that so that I would stop craving for it and be satisfied even from just recalling it
  • A glimpse of the ultimate truth so that I can reorient my life
  • Kill me once and make me come back with memory of this experience throughout the process
  • Bring me into the present moment, de-conditioned completely for a good amount of time

History of 'me'

The raw material that I possess from the time I was born is simply this dynamic body and a mind that only has certain innate wants, predilections and needs.

In our formative years 0-4yrs, we map this world with our pointers for what we need and desire. This mapping is the generator of core beliefs and conditioning. We even register certain facial features, gestures, behaviors that guide our intuition, love map, choice of partners etc. in later life.

I seriously wonder, all the knowledge I think I have, the personality I possessed has all been acquired from outside. What I am innately born with is just this dynamic body and mind empty of content. The mind at this stage may simply have basic instinctual information and pointers to desires and needs which may be dormant and manifest later.

Infact I can even go further with the reason and argue that, there is another level of cause and effect. What was I before I was born? and why did I get those specific pointers and body? Did I have any choice regarding that? OR was I just a fragment in the endless river of evolution?

What if there were past births that by some causal logic determined my predispositions and pointers?
Then I could go further and question, what was I before the previous births? Are the previous birth's limited to only the human form and this world? What if  other worlds, planets, other dimensions in the same world? I could have been any living creature imaginable or even beyond (beyond since what we can even imagine is limited to our experience with our 5 senses...there might be infinite senses, worlds, dimensions, realities or even universes) What is my original nature that cannot be broken down further? What is my true essence that has carried over all of this path? What is the essence that is mine and independent of time or space?

From this perspective, is what I know right now real knowledge? All this knowledge is acquired from outside. People's knowledge has been evolving too and what was knowledge many centuries has been debunked to a large extent. I really question our ways of knowing. Is it in science or religion? I could go further and wonder if a concept is real in the first place? What is it that is beyond concepts?
Is the mind something permanent? What is beyond the mind and body, beyond concepts, beyond space-time, beyond science and religion, beyond everything imaginable?

Its like a plunge into the space of pure unknown, disregarding all selfish concerns.

Favorite advertisement

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOWMGIpCkM8

One of my favorite advertisements. It beautifully brings out the sense of wonder as these kids try to re-enact the different phenomenon they see around them. Their expressions are so pure, genuine and innocent. I'm finding this pure wonder and innocence getting rarer and rarer as I am getting older. I wish all relationships would be this straightforward. They simply share the same goals and enjoy each others company without any commitment, expectation or other overheads. Its just the the beauty of the moment.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Are we controlling computers or are computers controlling us?

This is a conundrum. Its not as simple as "Ohh, we created computers, we are obviously superior". There are a lot of other higher perspectives of looking at the same riddle. If we see human evolution, we have literally moved from walking with a hunchback to sitting on a computer chair with the same hunchback. What we consider knowledge is 90% acquired from reading articles online through Google. Huge portions of our day is spent in front of computers and social networking has even offloaded a good amount of our social needs. It seems to be a synthetic reality layer on which most of our knowledge is based on. We think we know what people are really doing and feeling based on their social networking activity on sites like Facebook. Like good marketing, most people also realize this and make their profiles look glamorous featuring the best sides of themselves. You make be chatting with a 50yr old posing as a young girl in a photo and may think that's the truth till the end.

What is the deeper force controlling and manipulating our minds and making us start to believe it as reality? It is kind of like the system of clock time we created, and now we are slaves to our own created entity.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Models of others worlds

I am deeply interested in understanding how other people view the world and its patterns. I would love to create models of their worlds and understand them.

Random thoughts - 19 Nov

I guess we form a mental model of the real world and this model keeps evolving over time as we figure out more and more patterns. Its kind of like a game like oblivion where we start off on a map and as you explore, more and more of the landscape becomes clear to you. Shortcuts you never knew of could be used as much faster transport etc. So 'Understanding' is basically exploring the landscape and figuring out its entire architecture and pathways.

So the question still remains, what is the seeker? I think the most important tangible component would be attention which  I believe is outside the brain. It is like the torch that illuminates reality and changes the brain accordingly. I guess the ultimate tool we have is attention. If we can train one pointed attention, we can use it on any conceivable thing.

I read an interesting article about spiritual teachers being obsessed with worldly things like sex and other egoistic pleasures. What was said was that there is no need to judge them as fraud etc. It is simply that 1st order spiritual pleasures are far more than sex and other egoistic pursuits, so if a person is still obsessed at that level, he probably still needs to progress and is unlikely to have been enlightened. An egoistic soul is like a super interesting rubix cube for a enlightened person to solve.

Monday, November 14, 2011

My every thought, word and action reflects me

Everything we speak about reflects our personality. That is how children primarily learn from their parents. There is this subliminal knowledge passed on. A parent may say something but in experience may indicate the exact opposite of that.

For example: I was talking to my parents on phone after many days. My dad described a place that they had recently visited. There was a lot of mention about a relative's 4bhk bungalow, Honda civic car and interior decoration. There was also a mention about trivia regarding the names of all the places they visited, how much time it took them to climb the fleet of stairs, problems such as cold 7 deg C weather and details regarding all the hardships such as leg pain, unable to procure blankets, lack of sleep, space constraints etc. A lot of procedural trivia, like how they booked the helicopter, made other arrangements for food etc. Details about the exact distances they walked etc. 

What it means is that, out of the super-set of reality, these specific details were filtered and stored in memory and a lot of importance was given to these aspects. At a different level, attention flowed to these aspects. There might be a lot of unsaid information too but this definitely indicates to me what this person considers important, important enough to be stored in memory and shared with people.

My parents always seemed to verbally convey the impression that they do not value material possessions and money much. But there was a tone of fascination and explicit descriptions of the bungalow, car and interior decorations. What does this indicate to me? They do heart of hearts value these else they wouldn't even notice it so intently. It does impress them. Its like the love hate paradigm. They both operate like 2 sides of a coin. The real essence is attention. So the opposite of love-hate would be pure indifference.

It seems like whatever we talk about reflects us. The style and tone we use to describe something, the specific content or details we extract and choose to present from our super-set of reality, each of these speaks about what matters to me and my intentions. Every word I say, every action I do, my every thought reflects me.

In reality, as quantum physics would agree with, everything is everywhere. You see and talk about what matters to you. The entire reality is filtered through beliefs and we see through our own set of them. Different people live in different realities and have multiple perspectives on everything. Society has made a gigantic effort in creating 'sameness' and has succeeded to a great extent. However at a microscopic level our individual differences will always be there just like 2 flowers can never be exactly alike.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Any model is still within created constraints

Nothing can be truly explained in terms of a block diagram model. There are tons of layers and these layers are connected too. They may have symbiotic relationships, different types of dependencies and also circular, iterative and probabilistic relationships. Once we move to the metaphorical level, each thing can be not only be connected to everything else but also in myriad ways. I strongly believe each thing is connected to everything else at a higher level (like the concept in avatar movie). A mega chain of relationships may even connect something as remote as beavers in central america and  the quality of tea in japan or something like that. Each thing is inseparable from everything else, almost like a hologram or a fractal.

It seems that, the only way to construct any kinds of abstractions in reality such as block diagrams is to impose artificial constraints. The limits could be on boundaries and complexity of relationships.

For example:
  • The stretch of imagination required to relate 2 fields should not be too much(subjective constraint depending upon audience)
  • Metaphorical relationships are to be kept minimum(subjective constraint, in truth metaphors are equally valid)
  • The chains should not be longer than 20 arrows across(to limit complexity and scope)

Everything is constrained whether, its anything I do in a job, the way a house is built, any kind of design etc. Along with nature's rules human beings too have a ton of artificial rules. Its a complex dynamic system among humans and I think the primary reason for conformity and rule creation is to create 'sameness' in society. People cannot work together if they do not want the same things. Language itself, the most powerful tool in our communication, is inherently constrained. When I say I'm happy, its an abstract concept and there could be tons of feelings grouped under this category.

Music volume analogy - social gravity and perspectives

Like higher music volumes, certain perspectives and social gravity dominate our views. Once we de-condition ourselves by staying alone for a while (keeping the brain active), we once again regain most of our original views and feelings.

To me, a good analogy would be soft and loud music playing simultaneously. Say there is some mild music leaking from your neighbors house. It is possible to hear it only when the room is totally quiet. Then say you switch on the television at a moderate volume, the sound from your neighbors house is drowned. At the next level, you could put on headphones and blast some loud trance/rock music. Now even the television sound is drowned. You can once again quieten the place enough to hear the faint sounds again coming from outside your house.

I guess in a similar way, social gravity(societal influence, especially when you are in a heavy social situation) dominates our thought patterns and perspectives. It is difficult to regain your original thoughts when there is no much noise. Once alone, in a quiet place, the original thoughts return just like the faint sounds.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Knowledge of impermanence

Though I have been reading about this concept for ages, it seems to get clearer and clearer by the day as I associate to my other reading as well. The latest insight was when I thought about my behavior when I knew I was seeing something for the last time. When I was suffering in my childhood days, I never imagined that my mind would be like my present state 12yrs later. Now in retrospect I wonder, had I known this, would my behavior have been different? I strongly feel it would have made a significant difference. I operate and think in a totally different way when I know its the last time I am seeing something.

There have been so many small instances in my life where I have noticed this. Once a guy dropped into my apt and was going to leave for India the next day. I had briefly met him in a trip previously that lasted for 3 days. He had a strange personality and not very sociable or welcoming. I thought the trip was just a temporary thing and that he was going to return to US after the vacation. Later, I discovered that he was permanently going back to India. This revelation totally changed my thoughts and behavior towards him. I started giving him much more attention and spoke to him for long since I knew it was the last time I would ever see him.

The deeper I think the more I realize that there are a lot of things we see for the last time in our lives. Its like stepping twice in a river, the river is actually different every single time. There are so many people we meet just once or places that we may never see again. You may say there is a probability of seeing them again, but a LOT of times that is extremely low especially if your traveling around the world, studying abroad etc, or a lifestyle that involves a lot of changing environments.

Even the stuff we take as constant are actually not on close observation. My thoughts are continuously changing if I observe them keenly. Even my mental state of mind and physical sensations are unique at every moment. There is nothing to grasp, unless I put a huge amount of effort to maintain a status quo. For example: Say I regularly fantasize about sex related content, but sexual content is just a concept, the kind of feelings, quality of mental images and creativity is very different even if I do this twice everyday. Even this effort is just a trap that makes us do the same thing over and over again.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The word 'balance'

The word balance always made me feel uncomfortable for a long time. Now when I think back on why I felt uncomfortable I got some interesting insights. Earlier my concept of me = all the experiences I had + my future experiences. So the word balance meant, I'll have to live within a narrow band of experience - not going too high or low. This was imprisoning by itself. I felt it was too stifling and restrictive.

Now I look at the same word in a different way. This comes from a paradigm shift in what I think of me. Now, me = the blank screen on which all experience happens. Also, the fact that all experience begin and end. They have different life times but being born and dying and distinct start and end points to them. So now the word balance means something different to me. It is about you having the freedom to choose and control your experiences rather than being a slave to them. For example: if I get addicted to coffee, then it becomes a need and that controls me vs me choosing to have it. Now, balance for me is maintaining this freedom of perspective, choices, actions etc.

Deep learning however happens when you go far off the mean. If I take an atom analogy, say your experiences are the electron. If you are close to the nucleus, you would have a limited range of experiences but live a content life. On the other hand, if you are an electron with tremendous energy you could orbit very far, have journey's, extreme pleasure or upheavals. Orbiting far away would make you have much more intense experiences and may result in high wisdom, knowledge and deep empathy.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Cause of suffering

The cause of suffering is said to be resistance to "What Is" of kind. This statement is so profound. Everyday I see new meanings for this simple saying. Almost any kind of suffering can be explained by this simple statement. When I get an injection, I do not suffer because I am ready for that pain which lasts for 4-5 secs. Whereas if someone punches me, that is suffering since I am resisting that person's anger towards me.

Suppose someone asks you the question, where would you rather be right now, the more dreams you can come up with would show how far away you are from living your actualized life and this causes suffering. Dreaming causes suffering if you believe that the dream you conjured up is a much much better state than the present.I like to be in a state of day dream since I have freedom compared to real life which is much more restrictive. This addiction to dreaming of wonderful possibilities or free exploration coupled with a high desire for perfectionism manifests itself as torpor. This too causes suffering since I resist 'what is' in the social world and all that it expects from me. At a higher level beyond concepts etc. raw emotions need to be accepted for what they are. Anger is anger, fear is fear, joy is joy etc.

Relationships beautifully bring out your entanglements, attachments, obsessions, passions, fears and aversions  in an experiential way. Its one of the greatest teachers especially when the relationship is a deep one lasting at least for a year.

This needs to be disentangled. A dream is a dream, a concept is a concept, seeing is seeing, hearing is hearing etc. and lastly , 'what is' is 'what is.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Seeking and Non-seeking

I wonder if I simply alternate between Intense seeking and a contentment phase where I just flow timelessly doing things by habit. Can all action be classified under seeking? It is said that even at attempt to be desireless is a very strong desire. Probably, there are just 2 states, desire/seeking and desirelessness/non-seeking. I think this state of desirelessness can be attained through a deep enough understanding of yourself. But however, it is sort of a plunge into the unknown. So all fears need to purged out one by one first.

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Knife analogy, Drug addiction?: Its not a separate world

Everything in nature is like a knife. It can be used for constructive or destructive purposes. Its possible to get addicted to anything: sex, passion, chocolate, food, crushes, attachment to physical possessions, workaholism, television, movies, some behavioral patterns, virtually any experience. Its not just drugs that are addictive. People treat drugs like a separate world. In some ways its not. Infact it may give you deeper insight into your own motivations. What matters is the level of self development and understanding in the person consuming them? Anything pleasurable is addicting and there is no reason to stop pursuing it besides your beliefs on what is supposed to be done in life.

If you ingest a huge amount of cocaine that fires up all your reward centers in your brain and body, it becomes extremely clear that all that we do ultimately causes the release of dopamine and what we really want is that. All our mental activities, beliefs, actions etc. may just be performed in a illusory world to ultimately get something real which is the experience. So if you are directly getting the experience, why would you choose to go through all the hardship through conventional socially accepted means only to get 1/100th of the reward say?. That is probably the reason for instant addiction and its potential for it. 

So the questions you could ask yourself are:
What are your current addictions? - they could even be mental states: like staying in fantasy or absorbed etc., reflection, physical activity etc.
What are your current beliefs? - Have you really examined them? Are there really valid? How deeply have you questioned them?
What are the things that you fear the most? Why? - Drill down to the real reason, like the fear of ghosts is the psychological fear of the unknown. Then ask, why are you scared of the unknown? What experiences in life are supporting these views? (don't settle for something like "All humans are inherently scared of the unknown", that is just a blanket unexamined belief).

Analyze all these aspects and contemplate on what kind of experiences the drug you wish to take might induce, read well on accounts of others experiences and then try to make accurate conjectures of their beliefs, states of mind and conditions.

A completely strange experience that you are unable to integrate will leave you extremely disoriented and confused till you manage to integrate it. You may either take the time to integrate it or decide to bury it if its too alien etc. So be aware of these aspects too.

Sex Appeal characteristics

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HA6nBS-KHEc

Some of the basic stuff we observe:
Walk
Symmetry
Body Shape
Pheromones/Copulance (changes depending on cycles)
Voice (changes depending on cycles)
Anatomical adornments (or cars, gadgets, possessions today - influenced by advertising)

Patterns in choosing: Choosing similar ratings
Women might be wired to aim for the top of the relative status rung - social/financial

Testosterone and Estrogen - genetic base (can probably change due to other factors)

Being with another person is like a merging of your matrix world with another. Each matrix has its expectations and expectations create probability equations. Also, each matrix is dynamic and may change expectations from time to time.
Is there a way to move beyond all expectations or see through them completely?

Sometimes I think, that's the reason why we have created this fixed values and other societal systems to escape the complexity that is inherent, the fire of reality. No matter what we choose, its after all a decision and every decision is inherently a trade off.

If I were to choose a partner, I would look for traits in her that resonate with traits in myself which I find most desirable. Sometimes I wonder, is our inner knowledge already complete and when we see some trait that agrees with our own inner knowledge it immediately resonates and is felt like an intuition.

All these sexual attractiveness factors maybe true, but I think there is a force acting at literally a higher dimension which controls our entire experienced reality and all these sexual aspects may be a small subset of it. The force is "beliefs". This is the most profoundly interesting topic I have ever come across.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Dissociation - Rebounds to old thinking patterns

In spite of all this reflection, analysis, synthesis etc, after watching 1000's of videos and tons of articles that talk about the absolute frontiers, I find that this state of satori or clear insight comes and goes. When I'm talking to someone who understands the flow and background of what I say, I can be extremely fluent and creative. Its like my brain performs at 9/10 creating complex metaphors, finding links between seemingly unrelated stuff and the stuff I say even surprises me. Even for all that I have written in this blog, sometimes when I go back and read some of my old articles, it almost seems like a pleasant surprise. Kind of like, if you go back and look at your engineering math books, you would be a surprised to find how you learned and applied complex formulas of derivatives and integration.

When I am in a passive silent mind state, I feel like I know nothing. Knowledge/Understanding seems like a state that requires effort and maintenance. My whole mind/self is at times completely blank and I would be shaken and might even hesitantly buy into any ordinary belief thrown at me confidently by an person who has never examined or even thought along these lines even once. For example: I was telling a friend that "Its not the brain before the doer, its the doer who determines how the brain grows and the brain networks are just a physical manifestation of the non-physical entity that's you. And the example of Einstein's brain and the myth of using brain network to prove intelligence instead of vice versa". Now this friend knew nothing about anything metaphysical and was a person with very rigid beliefs about everything. She was like "How can that be? There is stuff known as genes that controls who you are etc.". I abandoned the conversation but at that moment, I was in no position to prove my point or prove hers. When I am alone, I can think of a 2 page summary explaining how beliefs are everything but somehow at that time I was lost, I almost felt like believing her since she was so confidently throwing it at me. My open mindedness makes me so vulnerable.

I am still finding this dissociation a mystery. What does it really mean? It almost seems like I really dont know anything and this state of mind of insight itself is temporary The passive accepting state of mind is probably equally likely. Does it mean whatever I know isn't really true? and I just put effort in constructing complex intellectual manipulations to explain everything?

If I truly knew something, I should absolutely not be affected by another person's views on that subject. Maybe they are all just concepts and a concept is as real as any other concept. So there are 1000's of concept kinds in this world. They may dehumanize, put you to shame, induce guilt or make you feel connected with love, beauty, joy etc. In other words, they may empower or dis-empower you. All are equally real so you just need to choose.

Then the question of what is the truth becomes even more pressing since you have lost your basis for believing.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Excellent movies

LimitlessTree of life
Groundhog day
Life in a day (sort of predictable tho)
Lost in Translation
Being John Malcovich
Mr Nobody
Travelers and Magicians
Siddharta 1974
Seven years in Tibet

Documentaries:
Surviving progress
Global Brain
Zeitegist - Moving Forward
The Freedom Movie 2
Ambition to meaning - Wayne Dyer
Global Brain
Primacy of consciousness



Short articles

Society and Specialization:
Society rewards specialization. It would encourage you to do what you do better than anyone else. Even the people who are a jack of many traits are only respected when those traits fit into some role that society has created. So say, you play the piano, guitar, synth, flute, drums etc. for fun, it might be appreciated a bit because we appreciate exploration but you would not gain any real respect unless you play all or any one instrument extremely well.

Now the next question would be, what is "Extremely well". This is where it can get a bit mysterious. What I am interested in investigating is if this is defined by our conditioning or something beyond. What strikes me is that, some people would literally extol a classical piece, for another person it may simply be non stimulating. The next difference that might come up might be the person's level of concentration and ability to appreciate music, associations, musical background and exposure to variety etc. In other words, even our capacity to appreciate anything requires a certain neural wiring. There may also exist specific neural wiring for peak experiences. What creates this neural wiring?
How much is conditioned and unconditioned? Are our unconditioned selves different/hardware with which we are born? How much free will and control do we really have?

OK back to the topic, the reason I digressed was to show that the premise can be easily questioned and there is no definite answer. The attempt to answer it takes us back to the mystery which we have been pondering over for eons as human beings. The basic question is who defines "well"? Its an individual concept and a societal concept, the latter we treat as gospel whenever in doubt. And on further pondering its pretty clear, its no gospel. Different cultures too have a different idea about what's good, bad, beautiful, ugly etc. But another mysterious question, is there anything universal and what is that?
I would assume that there might be some patterns that are universally present. Like some kinds of music or beauty may invoke the same pleasurable feelings in all. I'm not sure if some core morals get included in that like not stealing, killing, lieing and sexual violation etc.

Now back to the topic, why does society reward specialization? I guess society is like a big machine with plenty of cogs and gears. A person is like a cog, if it does not have a defined shape, it cannot perform a defined function in which case it would not be so valuable to the machine. Society is the super structure, the largest machine and we are so involved in its roles, we may forget who we really are. We are an amorphous entity and we try to make ourselves into one of the cog shapes so that we can fit into the machine. The more responsibility you take, the less freedom you can have in terms of changing your form. Its like you allow yourself to become a giant wheel with many grooves (say an executive of a big company) then you cannot change your shape drastically without affecting many others. So the idea is you learn to take a rigid form and perform a function which is dispensable by nature. So one should never derive full identity from the function, else when its term is done, it would mean a huge re-identification and might trigger a crisis.

The word 'improve':
Sometimes I read about some really profound techniques and exercises and in the benefits section they would merely quote that it "improves" IQ. It seems to be such a trivial gain. A mere improvement? I would expect something like, it'll make you the smartest guy on earth. On thinking over it I also thought about the aspect of the hardware we are born with. A lion can never become a crow and vice versa no matter how hard they try. Would a similar story apply here? Do some people have an inherent disadvantage rendering it very difficult to survive in society? Every disabled person might have felt this. Like say a huge portion of our face gets burnt. Who would marry us? OR if we are extremely fat and obese, isn't that an inherent disadvantage for being attractive? But on probing deeper I can also see that nothing really lasts. Physical beauty, intelligence, personality everything and ultimately even life is taken away from us. What we fear the most is probably our personality being taken away because that is the only thing that survives until the last moment(except in cases of brain diseases). If everything is so temporary, why are we struggling by identification with these temporary phenomena.
Even my mood/experience everyday is subject to a lot of factors outside my conscious control. We are obsessed and keep chasing all these temporary experiences and then try to preserve them with our memory. I always wonder to myself. How would I live if I had no memory or if it were to get refreshed every night on sleeping? I would be born again every day. On the flip side, I would need to relearn everything: language, walking. Memory maintains the continuity of our experience. Another way of looking at it might be, stronger the memory, stronger the illusion of continuity of our experiences.


Ok lets assume we have to live in this cog system for 70yrs. Even here, its much more complex than it looks. Would the ultimate gift to fit in well here be intelligence? since it would allow you to take up multiple roles and find it easy to fit into the system anywhere. But I don't think the most intelligent necessarily have the most freedom. Beliefs can cripple the most intelligent like people in IIT committing suicide because of being unable to match their peers. I think the ultimate gift would really be freedom from all our beliefs OR the direct truth of everything.


Identity is like clothes:
Our identities are like clothes. They are a put on and we can change it. Our personality is simply our conditioning and patterns that we or environment has encouraged. In fact what we are really are seeds of potential. Depending upon the environment and our free will choices, different seeds get nourishment and grow and the others remain dormant waiting for the stimulus. So even our day to day identity is actually a dynamic where the unborn seeds grow whenever they get an opportunity.
How powerful we are in that regard, I have no clue. We may be incredibly powerful if you can reach a level to really see all your seeds - born and unborn. But there is something beyond this too. What is the essence of us? What is the innermost untainted pure entity that we really are once we strip ourselves of everything. People might think stripping is just clothes. But you can strip yourself to a much greater extent mainly all your beliefs/concepts/expectations/memories/thoughts and simply be alive and see things for what they really are.

US education as an experience:
I invested around 25 lakhs for my MS. Should I consider an investment not worth if I cannot work here after 2 years? The overall set of experiences I have had here are HUGE. If I think back and remember the time I left Accenture, it seems like such a long time ago. There have been tons of memories creating a rich tapestry which I am grateful for. My identity too in many ways has undergone giant shifts and I have been relieved from innumerable things which were a problem in India. There are things like marriage where 25 lakhs is spent in 2 days and the number of experiences in that time frame is maybe 1/10000th of this 2 yr US trip. This is a huge experience for me that has created rich memories and a huge expansion in my mindset and perspectives about things.
Even if I have to go back after 2 years I am totally fine and thankful for this immense gift.


The origin of corporate race is power game
I don't know in how many areas survival of the fittest applies today. Haven't we bent nature and its rules to make survival easy? But I guess the concept is much wider than that. The corporate race is a kind of artificial game we have created for ourselves just like all the other competitive sports around. There are rules which need to be mastered and the person has room to be creative, improvise and use strategies within the boundaries of these rules. So its only creativity/mastery within the bounds.

But I wonder to myself, what is creativity/mastery really? Do these terms require bounds and constraints in their very definition? Even in my personal experience I can see that this competitive nature is deeply embedded in me too. I may dissect this society and corporate world because I do not fit in well but ultimately I realize that even I secretly enjoy being competitive and gaining an upper hand. Maybe I win in some situation-games and I lose in others.

God related stuff is surrender to the magical dimension
Certain people have deep faith in God and feel that God is this super powerful, all knowing entity. Whatever their conception or image of what God is, it encourages them to surrender to a more powerful force and act more selflessly with more love. In other words they simply surrender to the unknown or magical dimension. However this also makes them vulnerable to delusions. Their faith in God can be greatly misused to make them believe in just about anything. Be it rituals, moral beliefs and ideas etc.

Ultimate point of Companies
More than the ultimate point of companies I would think about the question of what are we are a human race heading towards in aggregate. Since this recent phenomenon of the corporate world and jobs can be traced back to the industrial revolution, gold and barter system before that. The whole system has been evolving and has reached this juncture today. But what is the essence driving this system or behavioral pattern itself. What is the deepest benefit that we are trying to derive. Are we moving towards that overall? Are we treating everyone equally with respect and love? The idea is if society is ultimately a system or a fabricated creation we may as well tweak it to serve us the best rather than us being slaves to it.


Sacrificing goal for the means (changing perspectives)
I saw career as a means to getting free time for creativity, leisure and things I am truly passionate about. But it seems to be getting more and more demanding. The amount of commitment and effort required seems enormous to plug in my cog into one of the companies. Not only that, there are so many companies and so many roles, each with a different set of stressors and uncertainties. What shape should I choose? Right now I have chosen the 'User Experience' role and I plan on sticking with that. The role is hard and there is subjectivity. But it is something I believe in and I feel it would really make a difference. What I am ultimately aiming for is freedom of time and a job for something I really believe in. But the corporate world is much more than the job itself. There are so many constraints, competitive environment, time commitment and people factors that have to be accepted.

Only resistance is painful:
I have slowly started to see the real import of Buddha's quotes"All suffering comes from resistance". When I get an injection in the hospital, it is painful but I do not resist it and therefore it is not suffering. But if there is something I resist, even a simple thought that keeps recurring it results in a lot of suffering. All thoughts and experiences simply come and go. When my mood is terrible, everything I project on the past and future seems terrible. When its great, everything I project seems positive. So I have learnt that I cannot trust my projections. All I can do is simply experience the moment and let the uncomfortable feelings pass away and savor ths good ones.


Want to escape fixed thinking patterns imposed by surroundings
The thing that I am usually really wary of is me getting locked into rigid thinking patterns because of an unchanging situation around me. The first thing I try to do in such a case is extricate myself from the situation.

There are so many instances when I have faced this. It could be my college group, office group etc. I think the bottom-line here is I cannot stay with people who have very different beliefs compared to me for a long time. I can stay for a short while with a desire to explore and experience what they feel and think but after that I feel like moving out and looking for a place where I might really belong. Another factor is that, I change a lot esp. in recent times, my perspectives have been drastically widening. So at every stage there is a new place where I would really belong unless the people I am with share the "dynamic" itself which I presume might be very rare.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Man from a small civilization(surviving on interdependence) - visiting a big city

How would it be if a man from a small civilization surviving on interdependence comes and works in a city. I would think he would be totally taken aback at the amount of choices available for every single thing. He would also notice that its really hard to form any real relationship since everyone is competitive and wants something in return. The dizzying value pyramid will impose itself on everything physical and non-physical(relationships etc.).

What would he choose? The close knit relationship network with unity and reduced choice OR this magnificent endless array of choice but much less unity?

What does a relationship do to you

I have always wondered, what exactly happens when you are into a relationship. One of the first things that comes to mind is preoccupation. Your mind is heavily preoccupied with the concept of sharing everything (everything that you are comfortable sharing). So I guess in the neurology of it, probably the neurons containing the image of this person in your mind (what you think the person is, will be, your general beliefs about where it can go, how far/deep etc.) try to link with all the neurons containing your daily thoughts, beliefs and activities. Its kind of like a dam being opened and the water from the 2 sides mix into each other. Its literally the merging of your individual identity with another person. I guess the reason its so pleasurable is because of a fundamental longing for a oneness experience. This longing seems to be the deepest longing in the human race but it might manifest itself in a multitude of forms we see today such as  friendship, sex, family, other relations etc. We define identity by the memory of experiences and concepts formed out of that. So identity seems to be maintained by different kinds of memories alone. By this logic, our whole identity is derived from our past. I would presume our capacity for future projections too is heavily influenced by our past too. Merging identity is making you larger than yourself. You have a brand new set of things to explore, kind of like a child seeing a new toy for the first time which may explain why there is this initial burst of curiosity and attraction which fades slowly as familiarity increases and converts itself to a general attachment. I guess the root of this attachment is because we are attached to our identity in the first place. So when we merge someone else with our definition of self, we get attached to this person as much as we were to ourselves.

But in the field of spirituality, Ive noticed that there is a completely different take on this matter. They debunk the notion that identity is real in the first place. Also, if identity is an illusory thing then there is no need to be attached to it in the first place. This is a completely radical line of thought since if you are not attached to your identity itself, then you would not get attached to anything for that matter including relationships, experiences etc. Once you remove all attachments, what remains? Regarding there is a unanimous agreement that what remains in unconditional love and compassion.

I sometimes feel we are greatly restricting ourselves by loving only a few special people in our lives. I guess the reason for this is attachment to our own identity and only the people who conform with that are loved by us. We may call them different names such as family, friends, romantic partners etc. but they are all just labels pointing towards a single experience.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

The pain of choices

This is something that has made me queasy right from childhood. I need to make choices at every moment and this automatically closes the door for all the others. People handle this giant confusion by creating rigid moral values and beliefs about what they need/want etc. but unfortunately I have kind of seen through the illusion of beliefs and how they are actually created by us. To add to that, there is this pressure of time. There are different stages in life and certain things/experiences can only be enjoyed at a certain time:

For example: it was one was my greatest fascinations in childhood to visit the redwood forest, but when I actually visited it my wonderment level was much lower. A small GI Joe car would have thrilled me to no end in my childhood years but now even if I see it in amazon and get it delivered with practically no effort from my side, I would not be close to that excited.

So different things are valuable at different points of time and this value equation keeps changing too.
Its almost like today the equations to be maximized are:
x+y+z+w = 50
2x+3y+4z+6w = 60
.......and so on
AND tomorrow some of them change.

Even before I solve a quarter of it, the values change and they keep on changing everyday. Its like a never ending noise of random numbers on a screen on which I have to find the most meaningful patterns. Its like an every changing matrix or a fractal on which I am unable to grasp anything. The only thing which I can rely upon are my habits which I know are not even real and there is definitely a better way to optimize.

So the next question that comes to mind is that: Is there really something that' s better or worse? Is there really a good/bad/preference?

AND then we have this whole philosophy of advaita which states that everything vibrates with the same energy and all concepts are an illusion. This would mean that no matter what I choose, its more or less equivalent. This is what gives me the motivation to understand more and more of this philosophy since if I becoming choiceless and stop wanting anything, then anything that comes can be welcomed and I can be relieved from all the so called illusions of good/bad, better/worse.

Its kind of like, let me have everything or be happy with nothing. The in between lost, confused state is the most uncomfortable. There is this giant question of: do things really matter or do they not? and there is this massive tsunami of society and culture to emphatically answer "Yes" to the above question.

I could think of different models of reality to answer this, could it be that reality is like a hologram, meaning all experiences can be found doing anything depending on what I project onto the activity?
Is it a fractal where no matter what part of the picture I zoom into, I see the same pattern? (similar to a hologram containing infinite copies of itself).

If I translate this into our daily life it might mean that a successful business man pursuing money, fame, power; the doper who is after finding the best drugs again and again; the man who is always thinking of sex and looking for every opportunity to have it and the spiritual guy who is after something more meaningful or revelatory experiences are maybe one and the same since they all are seeking.

But it is still a mystery if any of of these is intrinsically better than the other. For example I could also argue that the spiritual seeker is moving towards lower suffering while the business man or the drug, sex addicts may not be doing so. They may be more dependent on situations and circumstances which keep changing as per the law of nature.

What is the true value of investments? Is that something real or is it part of our constructed illusion?

"There are so many temptations out there and so many ways to connect and form a deep relationship with someone almost instantly. One thing goes wrong, and it’s just too easy to jump on FB and rekindle an old flame"

"There is a great article called “I will be married to 5 different women in my lifetime” that talks about KNOWING that your partner will evolve and change and you must be willing to fall in love with each “different” woman that comes into your life
http://samdavidson.net/blog/2010/2/11/i-will-be-married-to-5-different-women-in-my-lifetime.html"

"I think choice overload’s really only a problem if you start out having no idea of what you really want, so you settle for the best of what you find. Which is never really that satisfying and leaves you always looking for something better."

There are two very enlightening TED talks on this topic:
http://www.ted.com/talks/barry_schwartz_on_the_paradox_of_choice.html
http://www.ted.com/talks/lang/eng/malcolm_gladwell_on_spaghetti_sauce.html

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Satisfaction from healing

Personal healing gives me immense satisfaction. I realized that this satisfaction/meaning would have not been there had I had a perfect childhood. Those unresolved issues and suppression is what is giving me this pleasure. My dad for example, is not that interested in such stuff, because he does not have any major issues to heal. My upbringing, conditioning, childhood has created this blueprint and identity character. Each of my bad/unresolved experiences provides a potential for pleasure, meaning, satisfaction and closure. I would presume my motivation for 80% of things is actually coming from there. In the yin-yang fabric of life the 2 sets of threads representing duality seem to be inextricably woven OR like 2 sides of a coin. My identity character, with all the suffering has left opportunities open at the other side of duality for pleasure, meaning and satisfaction. So they are inseparable just like light-dark, good-bad etc. One cannot exist without the other.

There are so many experiences in my life that validate this. It seems that all meaning is derived from some form of comparison.

When I bought the 'Korg Pa500', since I dint have my old keyboard for comparison, I must have lost almost 60-70% of the pleasure. In childhood my dream of owning this was magnitudes higher, and I would have been ready to get up even at 3am to play it for just 10mins. It has somehow diminished quite a lot from that intense state. However, the 40-50% of pleasure which I got from using my memory was quite a lot. Another friend visited me and he had unreasonable expectations from the keyboard, for e.g.: the grand piano should sound like a real grand, so he immediately remarked with condescension. That's what made me think, the keyboard was uniquely valuable to me because of my own experience blueprint with previous instruments and music in general.

I uniquely enjoy certain activities and I can clearly see how my blueprint of experiences creates this for me.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Projection map


 
Each island in this map represents different people in our lives in terms of the emotions and feelings we project towards them. The pink areas represent the good parts and the black areas represent the unpleasant projections. The larger central island represents a person with whom we have had a close relationship, so many more projections are stored with larger areas for good/bad projections stored. Depending on the mood of the 2 people, situation and context the brown circle shows what we might experience at a particular point of time. In this case its 50% good projections, 50% bad ones with a well known person. When the situation is favorable, all your projections might be in the pink area results in very pleasant emotions while its also equally likely that you may entirely move to a grey area where all the projections are very unpleasant. This could probably explain love/hate in relationships.
Now this diagram has been simplified to explain the basic concept. These projections may not be a static map, they probably continually change like a fractal and create similar patterns unless an external stimulus strongly influences its pattern, which in case might temporarily alter its behavior.

Worldview - Excessive Consumerism

A very complex subject that seems to wrap my mind nowadays is regarding the need to work. Why should we work? I have read scores of theories and articles on it but somehow I'm still not convinced of why its something that is so imposed on all of us.The minute I try to even raise this question to anyone the reactions are:

Who will pay your bills?
Houses don't build themselves
Work is a virtue and laziness and sloth are sins
You must work towards achieving success
You have to be of some use to people. Its not right to just sit at home.
Join the bandwagon before its too late
What other ideas do you have Smart-ass?

All these responses seems to stem from fear, a need for security and a set of hard coded virtues which have not been subjected to any serious questioning. I'm not really seeing any real open minded responses. To be truly open minded and objective, I believe you cannot operate from all kinds of fears and rigid unexamined beliefs. My gut feeling is that, there has to be a better way.

If I treat society as a common goal, for all of us to work in harmony, it also implies that we believe in it in the first place. Among all the myriad things that we could do given the 80-90 years we have on earth, is this really anywhere close to the best option. The more I think of all the possibilities, it strikes me how narrow the scope of experience is because of this system of work and society in general.

At the surface, simple facts like I'm gonna live in a human made fabricated environment in front of a laptop for 10 hrs, 22 days a week for the next 40 years, 15 days of vacation, covering your entire youth. The first thoughts I had hearing this in my childhood was "Whats this severely restrictive unnatural nonsense?","Why should I sacrifice my entire youth to a cause I do not even believe in?" and "Why the hell is it considered a virtue to top it all?" and I strongly opposed this idea. As I grew up, I continued with this view but once I got into my first job, I got to actually live that environment. I noticed some strange stuff. From inside this black box of work, which it had been throughout my childhood, I could see that it was far more complex than I thought. It seemed to be a virtual reality that satisfied the human desires for ambition, meaning, striving, passion, direction and the sense of being productive and useful and the quest towards perfection and mastery. This whole system of organizations makes this virtual reality even more complex. People share their experiences. There is a meta level ranking among professions, job positions and the image of the organizations. It is so easy for a person to get lost in this structure and totally identify themselves with all the rewards, recognition, social food it provides. People who are unable to fit into this virtual reality feel like losers while people who do fit in love this system and the cycle spirals and perpetuates in this manner. The point I'm trying to get across is that "This is a Virtual Reality", this whole framework. A clear tangible output from these organizations is money. What can money do for you? There are people who feel money is the end all, the ultimate goal of life. Money and media seem to have a close relation to each other. The media many a times esp. nowadays literally creates needs and ideas and sells them to you in incredibly creative ways sometimes involving deep psychological games and conditioning. We as a race are literally sustaining the production consumption cycle and it is getting intensified by the day.
During the industrial revolution time, people were working 15 hours a day. It was estimated that this would reduce to 4hrs a day with all the advanced computing available. But on the contrary, people today have become even more obsessive probably still working 10-12 hrs a day and having laptops, iphones means the work would encroach upon their free time too. The question I face is "If this is a game or a virtual reality, why is everyone being forced to play it?" What if I don't want to play. I'm obviously losing a huge amount of freedom on playing.

Different people may have different perspectives but according to me increasing the quality of life and happiness should be our main goal and an integral part of happiness is freedom. The kind of structures we have create are exploitative, plutocratic and unfair by very nature. They are hierarchical, capitalism intrinsically has competition as an integral part. How can we ever make genuine relationships in such a system that identifies you based on how much money you have and not on some truer aspects?. Only 10% of people seem to really get the best out of this system and the rest just comply or make a less than ideal arrangement.

About the question on, what should be the meta value that we all should drive towards, if the ultimate one is happiness then each person can just completely accept his variables, position, situation and at a deeper level, all his emotional, mental and physical states and reach absolute peace. But with freedom, the issue gets trickier. How can we satisfy conflicting needs and considering the fact that each person has a unique upbringing, its definitely impossible to satisfy this in physical reality. There is great hope in terms of meeting this need through virtual worlds. A step in this direction would be the social networking stuff available today. In fact systems like the society, culture, media and corporations strive to create a commonality between people, common goals, common needs and common values.

Another perspective is about me being narrow again in this article. I have still only spoken out of personal experience. The world is infinitely diverse though. There may be tribal societies and other unexplored communities which may be actually living close to my what I see as utopia. At a micro level, we see this in our lives too. Sometimes we are pleasantly surprised when we meet get along and make friends with totally unexpected people. There are really infinite possibilities if we are really ready to lose our fears and explore. But this is more at a personal level for each person, so when we talk about a system, its a different subject.

On the question on whether money should be the ultimate motivator. there are many perspectives that can prove otherwise.

For e.g. say we contemplate death. Most of us live like death is not going to happen to us. We do not consciously think about it except in very rare situations and even at that time we try to distract ourselves as fast as we can. The deeper we think about it, we realize that what we call ourselves is actually our personalities which we are holding on to as an identity. The minute we stop holding on to things we die in all the ways that matter and this is one of our greatest fears. I think the basic philosophical questions of life have somewhat disturbing answers. To overcome this, we have created all this media, entertainment and this work phenomenon so that we can be kept so occupied, that there is no room to really look at these truths.

Its actually quite hard to even accurately vision a utopia. Work has always intrigued me. It does seem like a virtual reality that satisfies desires at many levels. Many people seem to be OK with this system which is why it is simply going on without much opposition, questioning. In my case, freedom gives me happiness but I do see a people being simply content with whatever they have.

So back to the title of this article. How does my work map to what I'm consuming? In other words, what exactly am I producing and what am I consuming in terms of resources?
Say I'm working to make a website look and function better. What is my real motivation for this? I like to see good looking things and I enjoy organization of chaos and I want other people to get the same feeling when they look at my work. This is kind of an artistic/emotional motivation which gives me much more meaning than money because money is just social value - i.e. how valuable society considers your work to be. Personal value is always far more powerful as a motivator.


My map currently would be something like:
Say I work in IT, say for an insurance client. I am testing their website and spending a year on it running 3 cycles. I'm part of a large team doing this testing, so I'm contributing say around 1/100th to this overall task of testing. This would help the insurance company sell more policies probably, so they would make greater profit. If they make greater profit they would try to expand.to other regions and lure more people into buying insurance policies. Now what is insurance and do you really believe in this ideology of protection against risk? What are these policies that are being sold? Are they really something people need or is it a fabricated one? I would have to think about the system of insurance in the overall picture and see if its a convincing idea and then I would need to think about their specific situation. Is my contribution really adding any value? How much value? Could I be doing something more valuable?

Lets say the insurance company expands, this would mean more insurance policies would be sold in more areas. There are 100's of other companies that would be competing for the same thing. So its a game about who would be more efficient in capturing the market. Even this system has its own set of corporate ethics, rules and regulations. You have to work within this framework and the variables in hand to get the best possible outcome. The vision might be initially to expand to other states in the US and then it might be to expand to other countries and outsource and then finally diversify into other areas as well. Each of the 100 competitors too might be thinking on similar lines and are continually playing under this pressure put by all their peer companies. Not many companies really manage to continually expand even if they want to. There are a plethora of variables, some under your control, some not under your control that decide whats going to happen. In this quest for conquest of market cap and power companies use various strategies, like they try to distinguish themselves as a niche, if its a start-up they start providing service that uses superior technologies and new business models, a larger company may concentrate on providing customer support and strengthening loyalty, playing on the human tendency to get attached and loyal. Companies will also try to continually try to push people to think of out of the box ideas. They may make it a part of their mission statement, create environments and practices that are more conducive to idea generation or devise various hiring strategies that can help them pull in the people most capable of performing this task. Lets say a company performs exceptionally well and achieves its goal, whats next?. If will continue to enjoy its power until another fresh company comes up with a more innovative strategy and push it out of the race. For e.g.: Companies like Motorola, IBM have had to almost shutdown or get acquired by other larger companies due to competition moving ahead faster. This whole pursuit seems like a game that can never be won. If you are enjoying large market cap and power then you cannot have the nimbleness of smaller start-ups, so they can always overtake you with some revolutionary ideas any day. Its an inherent disadvantage. Nowadays to succeed in this power game, companies along with all the efforts described above, they are also closely working with media and social networking to actually CREATE new needs. Look at almost everything around you, a microwave oven is extremely harmful for health and this can be understood with a bit of research. About 10yrs back very few people had even heard of it and nowadays esp in US its there in every flat. We don't need this, it is causing more harm than good. Chemotherapy is being continued as a treatment for cancer instead of using alternative therapies(with excellent track records and proof) because of the huge investments and enormous gains made. This power game seems to be abused in so many ways by so many different industries at both a micro and a macro level. People are being encouraged to buy more and more things that they really don't need and for this we work our asses of 10+hrs a day to encourage this excessive needless indulgence. In this perspective it does not make any sense. What is the really motive of all organizations? We are also exhausting all our natural resources and creating problems in environmental configurations. What is this viral epidemic?

It doesn't seem to work towards the larger goals like improving quality of life, providing prosperity and happiness. It works towards short sighted goals like impressing stockholders and making better business decisions to maximize productivity, profit, trying to find innovative ways of being better etc. All this looks great on paper from a height of 1000-2000 ft but from 30000-40000ft things look very different. We are moving farther away from goals that really matter to human beings. Towards this life of obsessive consumerism and quest for power. This game is so intense, from inside it its even hard to think of a world that can exist outside of this framework. We have lost our true identities to this fabricated reality that does not really serve us on deeper thinking.

This is a global issue, and people consciousness and awareness levels really needs to be increased. Philosophy, mediation and other such areas should be taught to children at a young age so that they do not again become of victim of all this conditioning. Everyone is being forced to play this game and the sheer momentum of it is like a tsunami. In such an environment where everyone is thinking of profit/loss and 0 sum thinking, how can we make any true friends or genuine relationships. What will be the quality of your connections with everyone in this pressured state of existence that we are in?

Its not just jobs and corporations. The entire societal framework needs to be re-calibrated from its smallest roots. What is evolution really? Are we evolving in the right direction?

Frequency change?

Slowly many of the people I've been moving with have started thinking on similar lines as me. I am also meeting a lot of unexpected like minded people. Like my Hillsboro roommates, Seattle roommate, in many lunch conversations with my office group and some other folks in Seattle. I wonder if this is as simple as my own changed choices or does it have another frequency dimension to it. Am I attracting such situations and people?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Experimenting with Drugs: effects on psychological stability

I guess the thing to consider while having drugs is that it might take your body into a completely different state. This state might be completely outside any normal experience. If any understanding has to be gained from this, this experience would need to be integrated into your existing knowledge based on your exploration. If this state is far far beyond what you've explored, its like a 5yr old child getting a glimpse of what it would feel like when its 45yrs old, just for an hour or so. How would it be able to integrate this experience once its back into its child mind?!. General an outlier experience is initially disturbing until it gets integrated with your understanding. If a lot of far away outliers are introduced in a short time, then it will put all your energies on it until you figure out how this fits into your definition of self. For example, the vipassana retreat created strong outliers which I kept working on for 6-7months. Now almost all of it is integrated and my perspective is at the next level on everything. So I have stabilized again. So in brief, a unique novel experience will trigger intense questioning and pull your energies towards understanding and integrating the experience. This journey is very interesting but heavily preoccupying, so external pressures will create problems. A lot of things are expected out of you in daily life. Fulfilling social expectations can take an entire lifetime out of you, and still you would never be completely satisfied.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Actual events and the Memory of events

I look forward and eagerly anticipate certain events. Usually the emotion is a mixture of anticipation, tension and some fear. When the actual event occurs, the feelings are mixed again. Its excitement, nervousness, some pressure etc. And with this the event come to an end.

But depending upon the significance I attach to that event, after the event is over, I rerun all that happened in my mental imagination space. Though the actual experience was pretty mixed and not anything substantial, this subsequent fantasizing add this new dream layer and after some days, the memory gives me much more pleasure than the actual event. Its like the best parts are gleaned from the actual event and stored. The bad parts are somehow pushed to the background. The real experience seems to pass through some kind of filter and the memory gets encoded according to that filter.

My current perspective too significantly changes the feelings and thoughts invoked while reliving past moments. When I'm on a dopamine high through some intoxicant say, everything seems excellent. Sometimes while watching a movie in the theater, it would seem incredibly boring. But later, if I happen to see that the reviews for the movie are excellent and reading about all the different layers of meaning to all that happened in the movie, the memory of the entire movie is updated.

The reverse of this can happen too. I may go through a very nice experience and later everything I read invalidates it and claims its harmful, the memory of that experience gets passed through this new filter.

When I'm with other people, their perspectives influence my mental state a lot, so I cannot truly enjoy anything unless the other people are having the exact same intents(very rare). So, more than the actual event, the memory of events is so much more appealing because I can pass it through whatever filter I want and store only the best parts.

This further strengthens that "Perspective(Maya) is a game of reality" and that "Almost all of reality(that which matters to you) is controlled by perspective". So its almost like esp. during traveling, there are no substantial positive unadulterated experiences except when I have intoxicants.

The few experiences where the experience exceeded my expectation would be skydiving. It was the only thing that was more intense than I had imagined it to be.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Things simply are as they are - Choiceless awareness on 'what is'

I have been reading about this 'What Is' concept for so long. I had a epiphany about this recently.
"There is no good or bad. Instead stay with the truth of things. Things simply are the way they are. Focus on 'What is' and give your awareness to everything. Everything is in an eternal dance. There is no time."

In the macro picture, my feelings are spread in time and change from moment to moment. There are 6 billion other human beings going through some internal state or the other. It could range from extreme pleasure, satisfaction, disgust, hate, terror and its all happening simultaneously every moment. Now hate, pleasure, terror, love are all concepts which are simplifications created by society and culture. Considering the complexity of each individual, I think each person would be gratified and terrified by very unique methods and ways. The question would be, do these feelings even matter, or do they matter only because I am attached to them? It is possible to live entire lives chasing them, but none of them last. Who am I is the next question? If I am not the feelings, why should I be so attached to them. What if I detach myself from them? What would remain from that would be great peace.

Sensory clarity - Seeing is seeing, hearing is hearing, smell is smell, touch is touch, mental concepts are mental concepts, feelings are feelings.
Equanimity - continuous neutral attention w/o judgement
Anything that you can observe is not you.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Thoughlessness, Timelessness and Love

Some days there is this feeling of nothingness which feels really unpleasant. There is a strong aversion to this feeling and the mind tries to fill it up somehow, usually with negative thoughts and an undercurrent unpleasant feeling. I analyzed this feeling of emptiness and it seems that though there is no gross thought, there is a subtle undercurrent thought manifesting as a feeling. It does not have any content, but it is just a mild unpleasant restless feeling - the mind seems to strongly resist it. It is from this feeling all the other thoughts are generated.

If I observe the undercurrent itself, I may be able to reach a state of thoughtlessness. I believe thoughtlessness is timelessness since time is change and we measure time by the movement of our thoughts. So no thought, no time. I was wondering if the undercurrent is actually a frequency attracting other thoughts. If I can change that frequency to love, then all thoughts would be tuned to that.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Float tank experience 3

The good part about this float was that, I slept for an hour or so before going. We lost the route on the way so it took a lot more time than expected to reach. We postponed the 9:00 appointment to 9:30 but we actually reached at 10:30. So the session was for 1hr instead of 1.5hrs for 40$. I quickly finished the bath and got in. I was quite alert and not sleepy in the float throughout. After relaxing sufficiently, I tried to examine what part of the body was having stress. I found it was mostly in my face somewhere along the forehead and nose. Also whenever I felt strong emotions or aversions it seemed to be coming from the middle of the chest. I could not really locate where the thoughts were coming from. They would just creep in any time without me able to trace their origin. I would catch it usually 1-2 secs in retrospect, after the thought has occurred. I also examined difference between day dreaming visuals vs staying alert in the present. I tried to examine the difference between different kinds of thoughts - visual, feeling, auditory and look for an area  in the head where I felt it.  Overall it was great and I was able to dig deeper than before. It felt like a really long time, even the 1hr duration.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Each moment is extraordinary

At Each Moment:
someone dies, someone is born, someone is delighted, someone is in ecstasy, someone is in severe pain, someone is living your exact dream feeling, dream emotion, there is someone having a relationship with your dream soulmate, dream lover, someone is enjoying the best lust of his life, someone gets a fracture.

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Garden analogy of significance





Imagine a garden with many flowers, shrubs, trees and grass. Lets use this as an analogy for our mental life. In your dream lover's mental garden, what would you like to be?
  • The roots = Absolutely not noticed but at the same time absolutely indispensable
  • The grass = something that is everywhere but not really noticed, but is like the underdog, it will be really missed if gone but when its there its treated with neutrality
  • All the trees = strong pillar of support, columns for a building, foundation, indispensable, again not specially noticed much when there
  • All the flowers in the garden = A representation of everything that is beautiful in her life
  •  A significantly beautiful and large flower = A special place of joy and feelings, completely unique, distinctly admired

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Evolution and our level of being

Has evolution really changed who we fundamentally are? Have the core motivating forces changed? Do all our drives still originate from the biological need to procreate and other basic instincts? Do all our fears still stem from the fear of death? Are there differences in our different states of mind or what we keep pushing toward? What are we really progressing towards? Is there a higher metaphorical layer that explains all these patterns?

Peak experience from music

If you want goose bumps euphoria throughout your body, sit in a comfortable position somewhere. Make sure the place is extremely quiet, close all windows/doors. Put on some high quality headphones. Play one of your favorite songs at an EXTREMELY low volume, your breathing should be 10 times louder, it should be THAT LOW. Say in a laptop
(volume setting of 1, VLC player volume setting of 3 - 5). Since decibel level is a logarithmic scale, I would guess the sound level would be 1000's of times softer than your usual volume.

Put a playlist of around 5-6 songs. Initially you would struggle to hear anything but keep concentrating on whatever little you can hear. Eventually it;ll get clearer and clearer and your sensitivity will increase. After a while once you get comfortable, increase the volume rapidly to your normal level or slightly more.

If its a favorite trance track esp, you;ll have a brief moment of euphoria where the music overwhelms you.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Knowledge is that which is behind the words

I have kept reading extensively on psychology, philosophy and self improvement for ages. In the recent years, it has accelerated greatly. I still use the same words, but their meaning has drastically changed and is much deeper and interconnected now. And while talking to people about these topics, I realized they interpret the same words very differently compared to me. This is another indicator that words in a language just point to experiences. Only people similar to you can understand you since they would emote to the same things. Even if you get the right feedback, still you can only assume that his/her experience is the same as yours. However, even if not true in an absolute sense, it perfectly satisfies our need for validation and belonging.

Letting go and trust

I realized that the reason I was not effectively letting go was because I did not completely trust my surroundings/external environment. I was still in some kind of fight or flight feeling. Once I focused on this trust feeling, I was finding it much easier to let go. The main areas to focus on are the eye sockets and the space between eyebrows. I guess the will center is located here and when you completely let go of the will center, you automatically reach a relaxation space where reverie, fantasy and other great feelings start to kick in. Reaching this deep relaxation space while maintaining alertness is the key to observing hypnogogia and deeper dream states.

This state in fact redefined what I thought relaxation was. Previously, I used to associate relaxation strongly with stupor or a mental numbness. Now I can see that it is possible to be fully awake and completely relaxed and its quite a wonderful state to be in.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Concept of the "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind"

This movie is one of the deepest psychological romantic stories ever. It goes to the very root of what we call romantic love which is actually completely internal/part of our dreams. We build a whole association network with the person loved.

After going through a variety of emotionally charged experiences with that person, the experience itself starts getting linked to the internal impressions of that person.
  • You associate all intense pleasure/pain sensations to the lover and he/she starts becoming indispensable to your life experience itself. 
  • The lover acts as a catalyst in bringing out cherished or emotionally charged states in you and they get intricately woven into the fabric of life experience itself. 
  • Beyond external experiences, we also start attaching this person to our fantasies and this makes this network grow into even your most primal drives in life.
That's why a common feeling after a breakup is that, I cannot/will never feel alive again. It requires a process of disconnecting/detaching the person from your life experiences or replacing them with someone else. For it to be replaced, the new experience should be more intense. More the intensity, more is the strength of the memory and association.

In the last part of the movie, near the seashore, he suddenly comes into the present moment and realizes all that he missed out. Becoming a pure observer, savoring each feeling's intensity and letting go, detaches you from the situation/context/person and gives full freedom to the experience. The experience is no longer locked into the pattern that only a certain person/context/situation can invoke it.

Becoming this observer frees up your mind into the truth and makes it spotless and you become what you always were and will be. Hence "Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind".

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Float On - Float Tank experience 2 - Jul 03











Unlike my previous float tank session, here I had the option of choosing between the ocean tank and the traditional tank. I spoke to the owner 'Christopher' about the issue not having good air circulation in the tank and therefore he recommended that I float in the Traditional one. I spoke to him about lucid dreaming too and he told me that he did it a lot of times and that it might require some practice. It was inside a room that had a shower cell and a towel, robe, earplugs etc. There was a similar earth like smelling soap inside. I quickly showered and got into the tank. I put on earplugs and they were excellent, created a almost custom mold like seal without infringing into the ear canal.

After getting into the tank, I was quickly able to settle down. The air circulation was quite good and the breathing did not trouble much at all unlike last time. The only discomfort I felt was that I was afraid the water was creeping up my forehead and that it might start coming closer to my eyes. I concentrated on my body with the usual Vipassana technique and after a while it started feeling comfortable. The experience was much smoother than last time. There were a lot of sexual content in them. I also imagined VIBGYOR in the reverse order and this time it was far better. I felt each color really well and I could also sense that there was potential for much more. I kept dipping in and out of hypnogogia.  I would suddenly start hearing noises and seeing things, but if I tried to make sense of it it would snap me out of it. This happened many times. The 1st 1 hr went by really fast(felt like 20mins). Maybe it was because of the extra shower time - about 15mins. After that it was a 2hr float which I thought would only be for 1 hr. From the 2nd hr onwards, I let go and it seemed that I could hear and see strange stuff, I had no memory of the events but there was still some awareness retained.

After the almost 3 hour session, I spoke with the owner for another 1 hr and he gave me some very useful insights. That I needed to totally let go of the "need to make sense" and just become a master/ultimate observer of everything. He remarked that it would automatically wake up both the left/right centers and you can remember the events. He told me about his color hive like experience inside the tank and the fact that he could recall it. We had a lot of interesting conversations and his general comment was similar to adyashanti which is "about nothingness, the illusion of control, to let go of concepts and live in the flow/outside you identity trying to establish itself". Another volunteer was listening to us and he gave an interesting analogy "If molecules were to have eyes and see other molecules the empty spaces between them would appear like how we see starts". The owner also gave us a good discount, so it totally cost 80$ for 2. He seemed to be really genuine and having a high degree of experiential knowledge. He also spoke about the dark room retreat in Thailand which he was planning to attend.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Approach to romantic relationships

My approach to romantic relationships is purely like how an artist would look at the world. He sees the pattern of beauty in the spectrum and expresses it in powerful creative ways like poetry, painting, writing, exotic verbal expression and other such forms. These relationships are one of the most interesting/intense experiences life can offer and I'm well aware of their transient nature too. In fact it is this transiency that even creates the significance.

Why cant people live that way? When there is mutual attraction, they can just live in the moment and try to experience positive feelings as deeply as possible and when it starts waning, let go with warm feelings gracefully. This memory imprints of this in both would be powerful and what can be a greater reward than being part of another one's dream. After all we all live in the mental consciousness where memory plays an extremely pivotal role.

Its like, you see qualities in that person you deeply admire and focus on these dream qualities. The other person does the same, tries to find their dream in you. And when you get a match, try to go to the deepest experiences till its comfortable for both. This also means both should have advanced communication skills, high emotional intelligence with diplomacy, similar level of self development and overall intelligence as prerequisites.

Enjoy and savor these experiences, etch them in your memory and radically increase your sense of well-being. Its a pure win-win relationship or rather a 1+1=3 kind of equation.

Getting primed to fantasize or dream

Though all my fantasy and creativity is inside my head, the external situation(physical/emotional influences) seems to play a huge role in my ability to recreate the experience/pulling it out of me. I dream much much stronger when the external situation guides me in that direction. Its like hypnosis, to recover a certain class or memory you need to be in the right room inside your mind.

But I strongly believe, if the concentration/visualization skills are developed very strongly and if you realize experiencially that your imagination can recreate reality itself and that therre is no difference, then it is possible to recreate any fantasy experience. The problem might be firstly I have not developed the required skill in visualization/concentration and secondly somewhere inside me I believe imagination is not real.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Difference between a VR computer game and reality

I think the key differences between a computer game in virtual reality and real reality is fear. For example: Take a computer game vs a real world business environment. The computer game is something you play out of choice. The game too has its rules, constraints etc. just like real life, but there is no fear because you do not believe it to be real. Whereas in a real business situation, the fear is back.

Both the computer game and the real one create meaning. You may be not be optimal at some game in real life (say a typical corporate situation) but have you really explored all the real life games out there? Are you playing the right game for yourself? More options and knowledge give greater choice and freedom. I try to treat real life too like a game and not take it too seriously because that's what it is. Whenever I contemplate/start looking at things metaphorically, this truth always pops up. Once you relate yourself with the observer, it opens up a new dimension.

What is the difference between a kid and an Adult?. The adult has seen many more things in his life so his meaning would be based on all these comparisons.

There was so much of meaning in India

All meaning is created by comparison. So the more the diversity, the more the meaning everything around you has. In India, there's incredible diversity ranging from people to all possible material items.
This diversity provides intense meaning to everything. Its diversity also in the mental space where you meet people who induce different emotional states in you.

However, this meaning can most effectively manipulate you too. Its a stronger illusion to come out of because there is so much around to distract you.

Meaning is the thing that supervenes on all material objects. Life is rich when your sense of meaning is rich.

Feeling of clarity

Today, while working out in the gym, I tried to do a vipassana observation as I was doing the exercise. To my surprise, I intermittently saw things with great clarity. I was still going through
some pain due to the exercise but somehow, I was separate from that and just watching it with clarity.

I thought about how it happened and how can it be maintained in daily life. I think I need to drop all concepts, imaginations etc. and simply concentrate on WHAT IS. It seems to be an elusive tricky thing to do, but that would be the ultimate grounding to reality if I can do it.

Also for improving executive function, I should concentrate on the doer and keep asking the question "what do you want to do and why?" several times during a day.

Possessions and Fear

We keep trying to get something exotic and great in our life, be it an experience or something material. When we actually get it, we admire it intensely but at the same time, I think there is also a deep fear of losing that thing. In fact, greater the value of the thing, more is this fear. It seems to be a mixed emotion. I cannot pin it down as something absolutely positive.

If what we got was an exotic experience, then the memory of that experience becomes a possession you hold on. Your fear that this memory might fade, so you keep re-imagining it many times to maintain its vividness. If its an image a person is holding of you (which we call deep admiration, love etc.), then we keep trying to maintain this image through our actions and even in our memory (by preoccupation) and are fearful about just letting it be without controlling.

What is the way of out this fear? Why do things keep changing in nature? Why is it so difficult to be detached and see with clarity? What do we really want, that we try to obtain in so many ways, even in our everyday actions?

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...