Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Living life to the max

Decided to write this to support Mr Stepvhen's excellent blog post “CarpeVeritas”.
In particular I want to dissect what it means to live life to the full and explain how this insight of no self, fits in to the core of this.

So one of Steph's points, he is asking what is the principle of living life to the Max? Is it really just sex, drugs and rock and roll, or, can we boil it down to something more meaningful?
So we are going to lay it out simply here, we are going to outline the maxim your life is based on and then we are going to do some thought experiments, to highlight this maxim. We will then look at vanity briefly and then we will look at your long term goals and demonstrate how you are actively sabotaging your own happiness.

So let's outline your current view. We have investigated the shopping and fucking mode before. Basically, worst case scenario, your life is like a crack addiction to draw a very aggressive analogy. You bounce from hit to hit and you can't even see through the façade, that you call “your life”. It has no value, other than what you perceive it to be. You are subject to an illusion, a simple mistaken perception. That is the sum total of what your life amounts to.

If you could actually muster up five seconds of honesty and see this in real life, then you would be free.

If you believe your life is real and has intrinsic value, then you are like the crack head scratching around in the fibers of the carpet, for another rock. Why do I feel justified in using this analogy? Well to put it simply, your life is orientated around hedonism. Lets look at the definition:

he·don·ism (hdn-zm)

  1. Pursuit of or devotion to pleasure, especially to the pleasures of the senses.
  2. Philosophy The ethical doctrine holding that only what is pleasant or has pleasant consequences is intrinsically good.
  3. Psychology The doctrine holding that behaviour is motivated by the desire for pleasure and the avoidance of pain.

Really, it is that simple, this is your life and that puts you on the level of a crack head, simply because you are running the same maxim on a cognitive level. Not to equate you as a junkie, of course but this analogy, is similar in the sense, that it is always about the end result; a dose of feel good. Of course it may sound insulting but really, I am trying to emphasise the main point which is this: your life is constructed around hedonism.

This is the centre of gravity for your life.

We already know that everything you do is designed to bring you pleasure and avoid pain, this is stating the obvious. There is nothing wrong with this in itself, this is simply a useful survival program and a chemical reward system but you have never looked at the extent to which this goes and how this survival program, is manipulated by society. Don't forget, this desire for pleasure and avoidance of pain, is the most natural thing that arises in us, that is not in question but for us to treat hedonism as an end in itself, is where our problem lies.

So lets do a thought experiment, to drive this point home. Pick out anything in your life that you desire. It can be any object you want. Any object you like, whatever you want but make sure its a short term material object of some kind, a new coat, car, or whatever. Then ask yourself what will you get from buying this thing? The answer may be to look good, or because you need transportation. Then the final step is always to ask yourself; “why do I want this?” The answer every time, is because you think it will make you happy or feel good.

If you don't derive this answer, then simply ask what will it mean if I have this thing repeatedly to each new answer you derive, until you conclude “because I will be happy/ feel good”.

If you don't come to this answer you are being dishonest. If this wasn't the case, you would be happy with a blanket or a reliant robin but we both know your vanity wouldn't allow you to do that. Likely when you come to this conclusion, you will have a mental image of the situation, of some kind. This is the planning faculty in action, we have just glanced at the goal setting mechanism of the brain.

As I said, there is nothing inherently wrong with this goal setting mechanism but when it becomes twisted to propagate a fantasy and an illusory sense of realism, then it becomes detrimental to our own well being. We are programmed in to repeating this consumer pattern and by the very nature of this society, it reinforces this mentality in each of us. We can question whether the system is wrong but we need only concern ourselves with the reality we face right now.

Rather than being happy in the present moment, our reward system is manipulated by the new jeans, the nice shoes, the smart car and the consumer trappings. They are transient fleeting feelings and like the crack head needs their fix, many of us are chasing our tails, trying to fill a gap in our lives with material goods, that we cannot possibly hope to fill.

These material fixes, are nothing more than our hedonistic hits and our short lived, flaky feel good factor. This has been discussed at length already but it always amounts to propping up a flaky self image to other people (that no one else gives a shit about), which allows you to feel good about yourself aka: your vanity, it always boils down to vanity.

vanity of vanities; all is vanity” (Ecclesiastes 1:2)

Apologies for quoting the bible but they got a point for once. Your hedonistic crack fix, is tied in to feeding your vanity.

Guess what?

Your vanity will NEVER be satisfied.

You are keeping the wolves at bay, to put it simply. What happens when something penetrates the façade you present to the world? It collapses like a house of cards and your illusory self esteem is shattered. Then you direct all your resources in to rebuilding your self image, which amounts to nothing, because your have literally been configured, to live a lie from day one.

The trouble is, this becomes the very mechanism, in which, we inadvertently use to actively suppress our natural expression of happiness.

Try the thought experiment with a long term goal now. This is important, as we will demonstrate an aspect of the mind where you are sabotaging yourself.

So, you hold on to these long term goals and dreams, some of them are realistic, granted. As long as they are realistic, you can be safe in the knowledge that one day, everything will work out for you. I mean, lets cut to the chase here. You also hold a belief that everything is going to work out for you. As an example, maybe your in a shitty low paid job you hate and you think buying your own house will make you happy one day. Only, you will probably never be able to afford one. You have already done the maths, it doesn't add up.

That doesn't matter though, you will still believe it is going to happen for you one day. You will blind yourself to the reality of your situation. You will simply lie to yourself, because to you, it is unthinkable. You believe this system will provide for you, you may even believe that you are entitled to this. No. The system has you by the balls and you are trapped in your situation but you won't accept it. It might not have even crossed your mind that you aren't in control of your destiny, the system is. Try dropping out for a few days and see how far you get. Remember the weapons of mass destruction lie that you swallowed?

Swallow it you did.

You carried on with your life and told yourself “It doesn't affect me, it's miles away”. You lied to yourself and rationalised your inaction, you kept turning in to work, you kept doing the same thing, you clung to your hopes whilst all the time, trying to ignore the fact that this system doesn't give a fuck about you.

No offence intended, it is just a machine, its impersonal, you are just another worthless cog, no matter which way you look at it. You have no value in society, you are just another straw man paying your taxes. If you believe that the system cares about you, then you need only look at the fact that smoking is not banned, because money is more important to the system, than whether you have lung cancer. Incidentally if you do smoke, you are likely going to die an early, nasty death. To avoid this reality, you merely tell yourself you are going to give up soon and you focus on anything else, apart from the reality you are facing.

Maybe you work well in the system, maybe you are a dysfunctional cog but every facet of your existence, rotates around this central pin, of an illusory self image, propped up by hedonistic desire. Maybe if you meet this partner, go on this holiday, it is still the same situation. You have said this to yourself; “I'll be happy once x happens”. You just don't see it. Its not your fault, we were all blind, we all lied to ourselves but lets be objective here.

The goal setting mechanism, has been manipulated in to these extremes by societal conditioning. By partaking in this hopes and dreams, fantasy mentality, not only are you lying to yourself, you are actively repressing your own happiness. You are engaged in a hit and hope strategy, where you are waiting it out and hoping for something to come along and make everything better, be it something planned, or some sudden change of circumstance. You actually believe this don't you? Be honest now for once in your life, you actually do hold this belief.

It won't work out for you because you are lying to yourself.

The lie simply changes and morphs in to some other desire object and in this projected time frame, you have made it so that you can't be happy, since you are attached to the fruition of your desires and the hedonistic maxim.

You even fully believe that your life happiness, depends on these things.

What does this mean for you, if you genuinely believe that you can only be happy when “x” criteria is met? Jeesh, you are actually doing this. You are repressing your natural expression of happiness actively.

Some of you may be really extreme, you may even make a wish when you blow out the candles on your birthday cake, you may close your eyes and wish really hard for something that will make you happy. You probably always tell yourself; “if only”.

Well, my Grandma bless her, she taught me a few things that held me in good stead. First she taught me that gambling is a complete waste of money over the course of your life (do the maths) and secondly she delivered me this profound lesson at the age of twelve:

Wish in one hand, shit in the other and then see which one gets full first”

Ain't that the truth, bless her cotton socks.

Of course, I have used a hard case here and this example was extreme but in doing so, I have given you a tool to identify these aspects in your own life. This is a pattern of thought simply, I am sure you can find some ways you have deluded yourself but the striking thing is, the level of dishonesty we have with ourselves in real life, is simply mind blowing. Undertake the looking process and you will witness the fortress you have built around your idea of self, which amounts to nothing more than wholesale self deceit.

Our goal getting mechanism, has been warped to make a projection of our false self in to the future. It is through these desires, we form attachments and in part, that contributes to the illusion of the self, gives it credence and also becomes the mechanism, in which the expression of happiness is repressed. I'm not talking about walking around in a state of ecstasy the whole time, forget about the hippies telling you that crap, that is simply more hedonism and a trap. This is about non - attachment to fantasy projections and not relying on hedonism as the sole means of fulfilment in your life. Hedonism is cool, I still do things because I feel good, there is nothing actually wrong with this in itself but...

Pleasure is a natural by product of enjoying your life, not the far flung and distant goal of your life.

That doesn't mean you should not aspire for things, or be ambitious, this is not in question but you need to know, that pleasure, should naturally expresses itself when living life to the full and should not be treated as an end in itself.

It doesn't have to be like this. It is not as though you can just decide to adopt this by choice but there is a way out though. I'm not selling you happiness, or feel good crack. I am empowering you and giving you the tool of honesty to apply in each area of your life. How you use it, is up to you. It is not always pretty when you use honesty and it requires courage to do so but I would rather live a life of honesty and face the the raw imperfections eye to eye, than take solace in a lie. That is really the stark choice you are facing, so which is it going to be?

So ask yourself, are your hopes and dreams serving you well, or are they keeping you locked in a perpetual cycle of defeat? Be honest here, maybe its time you looked to see if this self was actually real, could it be that you are actively sabotaging your life?


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