Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Avoiding the “Annus horribiliss”

Well, this year has been bitter sweet, and has been a curiosity to mull over. I thought I would write a small essay to treat of this subject as recent events have really been bugging the hell out of me, until I discovered the root of the problem. I want to take you for a brief foray in to practical principles, so you can avoid making the same mistakes as me and guard yourself against straying away from the well trodden path of contentment.
On the face of it in 2013, I made loads of money, got a first class degree, and even bought a house. One might be tempted to say this was a very successful year for me.

This is not quite the full picture though.

All this was at the expense of actually relaxing and enjoying life. I look back at some great times this year, however, they strike upon my mind as faint now, and I have far too few to count. I spent virtually all my time working, studying, and missing out on social gatherings. I often fell asleep each evening whilst reading out of an academic text book. I focussed so hard on accomplishing things and was focussed so much on the end, that when I finally got there...

I felt nothing.

I actually had to pretend to be excited about getting my degree. I admit it, I lied to you all as I was rather unenthusiastic about it. I felt empty after I had done this and all I had was a meagre piece of paper to show for it (not really it is still in the post/ has not been posted yet). True, it can open doors in future and I am positive that it will, however, the error in my reasoning was to think that this was going to make me happy. I fell foul of that old trick and I assure you, I consider myself guarded to such fallacies.

I propose that you have a good think about these questions if you are not content right now.
Do you really think there is a magic 'on button' that you can suddenly just decide to press after any conceivable future event?
Should we really be waiting for some future event to make us happy, or should we be focussed on cultivating a rich and enjoyable life right now?

It is evident that I am not the only person to have made this mistake but I fell for this error and literally could not see the wood for the trees. Two years of immersing myself in my endeavours was long enough to blind me to reality, and I didn't realise that I was deluding myself as I was unconscious of this transition. But what really piqued my curiosity was that rather than fly headlong in to enjoying myself after my degree, I suddenly had solicitors bills to pay and renovations to save up for. I responded by volunteering for every bit of overtime I could. I figured that I could fly headlong in to this next project and I would be living the life of Riley. However, I found that I was discontented rather quickly and this led me to searching for answers as I had lost my way after foolishly thinking everything was going to be OK.

This led me to come up with some questions that we might ask ourselves in those times when we are unsure of whether or not we are on the correct path. I discovered that I failed to address logic and good reason and had become mired in folly and illusion. It was only when I turned to these questions it kicked me out of my dream like delusion and represented a welcome kick up the annus for me.

What good is money if you do not spend it, or have no time to enjoy it?

What good is owning a house if you are never there to chill or relax in it?

What good is there in missing out on socialising if you find yourself on your lonesome, or being so exhausted that when you do muster the effort to haul yourself out, you make poor company?

There is for most of us little solace or comfort we can find in paid employment, studying, or sleep. Of course, there is some mechanism or operation of the mind that makes us prone to resolve the drudge existence we might face, and this made me look to the propensity we have to orientate our minds towards the future. It is in this orientation to the future where we marvel at the fanciful ideas of our imaginations, and it is here that we can delude ourselves effectively and ignore the predicament we find ourselves in.

To yield the clue that we are actually doing this in real life, we can look for the form it most often appears in. If you find yourself saying a derivative of this following prefix to someone, you can be satisfied that your thinking admits of this error.

“I can't wait until _______”

If we are both completely honest, we know full well that when so and so does eventually happen it often fails to live up to our expectations.
This is because we have decided to place our happiness as a contingent factor upon this event and as such, we have placed massive expectations upon it and we expect to feel differently than what we do. For this reason it ultimately becomes a let down and we have failed to cultivate the happiness that we should have done by socialising and taking time out to relax in the mean time.

Do you ever notice that when unexpected events happen, we take far more pleasure from these impromptu occasions? One of the keys to happiness is to have no expectations or outcome dependence, and I flagrantly broke this rule when I placed expectations of happiness upon finishing my degree. We are all guilty of this vice in some degree or in past occasions. I was also able to focus on getting the keys to my house and delude myself in to ignoring the present moment which had become a rat race, rather than a chilled out lifestyle that I could have had. Instead of trying to address this I was fixated on the future and it is here that I fell in to error and became sucked in to the spin cycle of modern life.

All this toil and trouble we think is so important can actually become labour in vain if you stay fixated on the prize and forget about where you are right now in this moment. Fixating on the prize, instead of the moment, can only lead us to a palpable existence of emptiness and banality in its most extreme case formulation. Even someone like my good self who does not usually get caught up on the materialistic trip, can fall foul of this error too if the attention wanders and our spirits become lowered by the daily grind. When stuck in this cycle we often place importance to the ideas of the fancy and this blinds us to the unsatisfactory quality of our lives, which we should be addressing and taking steps to change.

It really hit me hard in the last few days that if I carry on heading on this trajectory, I would have made a good start to becoming the kind of man I never wanted to be. Luckily, I have jolted awake from my slumber and I leave this hazy dream with a sense of melancholy but also a great deal of hope, in that I have seen the error of my ways. Fortunately, I have had a great xmas and caught up with some great people, and have many others I will have to visit in January, as I had blindly prioritised work above all else.

Bizarre that it took me so long to realise this state of affairs, but so powerful is our tendency to get sucked in to focussing on wealth, tangible objects, and a future which does not exist yet, that we can literally become blind to that which is most important. Remember that material objects and wealth can never, in of themselves, bring us lasting happiness. My priorities were misplaced here and we must be vigilant that we are not treading fresh tracks in to the barren desert, running a fools errand towards a mirage. I have learned a valuable lesson this year, one I had to relearn again through valuable experience for good measure.

It was a 'materially successful year' for me but is that really the true measure of success?

Questions, always more questions with me and I will be treating this subject more fully in a future exposition in to human nature. I look forward to writing some more philosophy and starting my website up again in the new year, but most of all I look forward to focussing on enjoying myself again, which was the focus of four years hedonism, prior to returning to the UK! For now, I am going to crack another Stella open and leave you with the moral to this story.

'Life is a journey, not a destination' ( Ralph Waldo Emerson )

Happy 2014! xx

Saturday, 21 December 2013

New Frontiers

Hi folks, I know it has been a long time since I have posted, a year has gone by since we all walked away from Truth Strike permanently.

I have to say that I thought long and hard about whether to even resurrect this blog. I was very close to starting an entirely new project disconnected from the work I had done here, and abandon the pseudonym ghostvirus, such as the negativity associated with the name. 

However, my email inbox had various requests for chats and guidance after logging in after a year and it made me smile to see that there was a positive legacy from the work I did, even if this legacy was not entirely positive. For this reason, I decided not to start a new project from scratch, instead I am going to craft the materials I have here in to something up to date, forward thinking, and provide a resource for people who have a genuine curiosity in exploring human nature.

I have been getting many requests for help in seeing the false nature of the self. This insight is known to the Buddhists as Anatta and to us westerners as 'not self'. My blog was particularly geared around getting this insight and developing the tools to investigate this angle. 

I think that after all we had been through with the Ruthless Truth and Truth Strike shenanigans, it has taught me that the need to push this insight on to anyone was foolish at best. After all has been said and done all I can do is to try and give something positive back after creating such a cloud of negativity. 
My experience can be used to serve as a force for good now and, just as importantly, a stark warning to others of what can happen when you stride off in to the wilderness and turn your back on the correct path.

Things are going to be changing round here and I am taking this blog in a completely different direction from what it used to be. It is going to become a contemporary resource for investigating phenomena and it is going to be aimed at the layman. 
In this sense I am changing the style from obtuse philosophical ramblings, to something more clean and concise that is easily accessible. 

I am going to purge some of the old posts and I am also going to pencil in some commentary on others. This is in order to highlight the fallacies in my reasoning and also to highlight the faulty beliefs I held at that time. Others can learn from my mistakes in this way and perhaps I can shed some insight in to the delusion I was experiencing. 
In order to grow we must make many mistakes, the good thing is that these make us wiser over time and I am fortunate that I was able to see that I was stuck and needed to discard Anatta instead of clinging on to it.

As a result, I am no longer going to be available for one on one mentoring with this stuff. I have a few reasons for doing this which I will share with you, but firstly I want to tell you about the time I have spent away from working in this area. 

When we quit Truth Strike I remember being really happy about it. I felt a great sense of relief not having to deal with trolls and seekers, and this was the point when I realised that pushing this on people was no longer the right thing to do. If you want mentoring with this stuff you can go and visit 'www.liberationunleashed.com and the crew there will be more than happy to help you get this insight of Anatta. If you want to investigate I would encourage you to do so, however, I am not in the game of forcing my views upon people anymore.

The realisation hit me that I was simply on an ego trip at TS, I was identifying with playing the enforcer role. I was simply running rings around people as they were arguing from a position of delusion, and in all fairness it was easy to take apart their arguments. 
It was no longer about getting the critics to see Anatta, it was more about smashing their arguments to pieces and humiliating them. I shifted the focus on to the seekers to do the work in other threads, and I simply played the bad cop in a game of 'good cop, bad cop'. In this sense I was saving my energy to argue with critics and left the seekers to their own devices.

The meagre positive that came out of this was that I had a string of successful 'liberations' without much effort on my part. I say liberation as that was the terminology, however, I think realisation is a far better word that has no connotations other than seeing that something is real. 
What this really led me to think was that I could one day start to leave the tools for investigation out on display, so that people could pick them up and learn how to use them for themselves. This is going to be the fundamental ethos of this site from now on. I became sick to death of the word LOOK over that year and for this reason, I vow to never use the word capitalised from this point onwards.

The tool set we crafted is not the entire set though, there are far more tools that can be utilised for investigation. Autolysis, vipassana meditation, yoga, self enquiry, you name it, are all valid methodologies of investigating the phenomena that arises in our lives. 
I was na├»ve enough to think that Anatta was the fundamental insight of enlightenment in the days of RT, although by the time TS was started we had moved away from this idea. It took a while but it dawned on me that we had given too much importance to Anatta as an end itself and this had limited the potential for exploring other avenues. 

My ignorance knows no bounds, however, that makes me just as fallible as anyone else in the world and we all have much work to do in this area, or we would have no interest in the science of human nature.

There are more realisations to be had and Anatta is just one of many. I guess this is the main reason why I am no longer going to push it on anyone else. I stand by what I have always maintained about getting a handle on things, the potential to handle and even negate suffering is perhaps one of the best things about this insight. 
That is why I still recommend people do the work and why I will still continue to make the tools available. Just know that it is not a golden ticket that will solve all your problems in one foul swoop. As with everything in life, it is not about the destination, it is about the journey there, and this is one stop worth visiting briefly on the dusty road before you make haste again.

One thing that struck me about TS was that people accused us of being gurus that were deliberately misleading people. I did write a trial of truth strike part II a long time ago that rebutted this accusation. However, I have no need to post it because I no longer wish to mentor people to investigate Anatta. 
It is inevitable that if you have something you want to say then people will attribute this identity to you. I accept this. Whatever I did in that context can be construed as such, there is no need for me to explain it away, I accept your judgment whatever that may be. 

There are enough unscrupulous folk out there who claim to be in possession of the truth, or have fool prof systems you should follow. I will merely say you should be sceptical of everything and see if it tallies with your direct experience. Each version of the truth is merely a construction of language and can be interpreted in various ways, you need to investigate reality for yourself and build up your own knowledge from scratch.

In this new format I cannot be accused of posing as a teacher anymore, and the experiments and angles that I will cover will stand or fall on the solid grounds of experience. Whether the cumulative effect is enough to convince people that Anatta is capable of being realised is not my concern anymore and as such, I will no longer actively promote this avenue of reasoning. 
It is something that happened to me a few years ago and has a left a striking impression upon me. I can tell you that it is possible to realise this insight, as do Buddhist and Advaitan (albeit in a different way) philosophers. Investigate reality and get to know phenomena really, really well and see what you find is probably the only thing I will suggest to anyone. If you do that then it is inevitable that you will realise no self/ true self and the other characteristics of reality.

Each person has their own views and take on the world and it is here where I want to focus my efforts. TS and RT were never built on understanding and that is why they failed. I am just another bozo on the bus and anything I say should not be trusted or accepted without testing for yourself. 
I do not have all the answers but I have a limited understanding of some things that may help people, and I am keen to learn from others who are more knowledgeable than me. However, don't expect me to be giving you one to one mentoring as there are many other gurus out there and I do not want to be classified as such. 

I am a philosopher and psychologist primarily, and I have a curiosity and thirst for fair enquiry in to human nature, the mind, and reality. I am not qualified to dispense advice of a spiritual nature or on the mental phenomena that you experience. However, that does not mean I will not speculate my own ideas or refrain from critiquing and developing theories.

Personally, in the time I have spent away from TS I have been studying at university. I recently graduated with a first class degree and have been working in a career that is on the whole enjoyable. I have started meditating and am developing my skills in insight meditation and observing phenomena. 
I hope to make contact with others who are investigating reality like myself, and have seen Anatta and have experience with developing their insights after this point in their journey. I also hope to share some contemporary philosophical and psychological thinking and outline some of the core mechanisms of the human mind. 

I also want to focus on utilising phenomenological (looking at phenomena) investigations and mapping out some cast iron experiments that people can do to aid them in their quest for finding the truth.
I think that I can focus on the positive aspects of my past work and build on them to produce a resource that is informative, practical, and engages with contemporary scientific and philosophical theories. 

There is a lot of past crap to clear out on here but I think looking at the abject delusion I was mired with will be a testament to getting stuck on the path for two years! As for Anatta, it is water under the bridge for me now but I think it represents an important stepping stone for anyone who is really looking for the truth. 
You may take it or leave it as you wish, my efforts will be focussed on establishing concrete steps with recourse to your own experience, and focussing on gaining and sharing more insight through other investigative tools such as meditation. The site is undergoing a revamp currently to tart it up a bit and hopefully I will catch you in the new year to scratch beneath the surface of human nature.

Happy Yuletide!
Gh0$T xx

Heaven and hell suppose two distinct species of men, the good and the bad. But the greatest part of mankind float between vice and virtue. (Hume, 1748)

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