Preface: What follows is a stream of consciousness, outlaying some of my philosophy as a writer and as a human being. Part art, part manifesto, and pure generosity of spirit, this is my life; my writing is the thing that allows the hours to pass like minutes. And now, at nearly 4am PST, I lay me down to sleep, laptop before me to read what I have written for the first time since pressing publish. One step closer to dreams, and for me this is the stuff dreams are made of.
P.S. If you are short on time, scroll to footnote 16 (Yes, I really did venture down the rabbit hole tonight) to read my poem, ‘The Shaman’.
I think unfortunate things do happen as part of objective, material reality: people die in fires, people die from lack of access to food and water, and reality sometimes falls short of meeting our hopes and dreams. And however great the apparent senselessness of the causes for our sufferings may be, I do not think them meaningless. Unfortunate acts and outcomes are only meaningless if we choose not to bestow meaning to them. This meaning, our interpretations, the stories we tell ourselves about what happens to us – this is our reality, which is a subjective experience, inseparable from material reality, for we cannot detach ourselves from our consciousness (Footnote 1).
Our ability to interpret our lives – from ice-cream on a perfect summer’s day, and first loves, to deadly fires, and abuse – this is the determinate factor behind our reality; it is not what happens to us but how we understand it that determines our reality. Perception is not reality. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth. Perception is merely our understanding – our “truth” about reality. For an emotionally deranged person, the world is a hell, for a healthy, happy child: a heaven.
Perception is merely a lens, the filter through which we see; however, the problem with our perceptions is that they are shaped from the day we are born by forces outside of ourselves. The rarest thing in the world is a man who can see beyond his own perception. It has taken me thirty years to begin to.
Having peeked behind the curtain of “reality”, beyond the doors of perception, I have come to realize the single greatest power in my possession: my ability to decide the truth.
Now I am a mystical being, and by mystical, I am saying that I believe there are unseen forces at work – now, whether I influence these forces or whether something greater than myself is lining up pieces on the board – matters not (Intuitively, I feel religion strips us of our belief in the former – but that is another dialogue altogether). My point being, I subscribe to the belief in the power of my consciousness. And the power of my consciousness is simply my ability to find patterns and meaning – possibilities – where others do not. And to exercise the power of my consciousness, I live a life that has a spiritual dimension to it.
This spiritual dimension, is simply another filter in my toolkit – something that allows me to connect to my inner intuition. And my inner intuition is my connection to the unseen, the felt forces.
These felt forces show themselves in dreams, and in my desires. Desires, as I refer to them here, are more than hopes. Desires are the things we fear admitting to ourselves, whereas our hopes are desire as society would have us believe is possible.
And this is where I am first leading: to the concept of what is possible.
I spent my first three decades on earth limited by my hopes – my desires buried beneath the things I thought were possible.
And, of course, this makes for someone who is a victim, rather than the hero, of her own life.
But this is not about heroism. I already wrote that. I am writing this because I dance around these concepts, but then “reality”, aka perception, smacks me in the face with a brick, and I forget about everything beyond it. I forget my free will entirely. I forget the gift of creation, which is my ability to decide the truth. My ability to live beyond the influence of perception, which is shaped by everything that exists within society: the ingredients of collective consciousness.
Again, here I must say something that I have said before, which is that there is no conspiracy: it’s just greed. And greed, as far as humans have wielded it, is evil; for greed is power, and power is control, and control is the basis for survival – from factory farms to societies.
Keep in mind here, I am exploring my mind, feeling out my philosophies as an individual and as a writer. Because my paramount message, as my intuition currently leads me to feel, is that we have the ability to be free.
Because nothing can stop us from being who we want to be – other than our own perception. And life is, as I currently understand it, a game of potentials won by wills. And it’s stronger wills than ours, whether these be the wills of society or our lovers – all the things that manipulate our egos – which control our perceptions.
It is a shift in experience, from experiential to existential, that can help us align our perceptions more closely with reality. Not reality as the forces capable of controlling wills have us believe, but material reality – objective reality.
I understand the human condition, because I have experienced it as only one can whose will has been broken by forces capable of destroying a human will. For me this force is alcoholism – the crack of the bourgeois.
Today, I am focused on strengthening my perception, aligning it more closely with both the physical and the metaphysical forces that make up material reality. Returning to my aforementioned kryptonite, I will say that it [alcohol] completely destroys my ability to hear my inner voice – the part of me capable of experiencing reality without the filter of my ego. And for me to experience life as my potential is capable of actualizing it, I have to remain vigilant against these forces, these addictions.
As Carl Jung wrote: “Every form of addiction is bad, no matter whether the narcotic be alcohol or morphine or idealism.”
And alcohol is not my only addiction. Idealism, lust, ego, thinking, all the things that appeal to my values – all the things capable of controlling them – these are all dangers to my ability to actualize my potential. Because if you can control a person’s values, you can control a person. And I am tired, my soul has suffered too much as a result of my ego exerting pains far beyond necessity upon me. And of course, the ego suffers as a result of our values being defined or manipulated by external forces. Thankfully humans have free will. Free will is the thing that allows us to separate the utility of thought from the feeling of thought.
Only, most of us are like lab rats – our wills are broken. Broken by the things capable of operating on our brain’s pain and reward centers. These things are not merely chemicals (Footnote 2), these are also experiences capable of producing the sensation of pleasure in our brains. And nothing is capable of producing a pleasure as potent as the kind of pleasure that the ego is capable of inducing. This is why we are all addicted to social media. It’s pleasurable. And pleasure is marketable. People will pay money to feel good – even if the people paying the money aren’t us, but the advertisers who are selling us more shit to “feel good.”
So, if pleasure is so readily available – and it is true, whether we realize it or not, that we are all experiencing pleasure on a daily basis – if pleasure is so readily accessible, why are we all so miserable? Why are we all so lonely. Why has love died?
Because what we are missing from our lives is fulfillment. But the problem with fulfillment is that you cannot sell it. You cannot put a price on it.
As I often joke: The best things in life are free, the second best are VERY expensive.
Now, whether the cost of these second best things in life is a quarter million for a Lambo – or our souls, I am not sure, but I’m inclined to believe the latter, in most cases.
I’m not anti material things, I like supercars and yachts – and I will get back to this (The part about not being anti material-things), but first let’s return to the discussion about the lack of fulfillment in our lives and the resultant misery we collectively face. (To put this feeling into words, I would describe it as “a soul in pain.”). I am not someone who uses reductive logic to say thought is all, therefore, all suffering is a choice. Don’t get me wrong, it is to some degree (I am a practicing Stoic) – but not all suffering is choice. The suffering I am first addressing is the kind my friends and I, fortunate people, face.
It’s not starvation or true suffering, instead it is simply a deeper part of life, of ourselves, that the human condition has removed from us. And this is our human nature (Footnote 3).
This is the cost of living today, the cost of the human condition: it is the loss of our nature.
In our formative years, we begin to lose it, and by the time we are adults, our perceptions have been entirely programmed (Footnote 4) so that we have forgotten what fulfillment feels like. Our brains have been short circuited, and pleasure has become the default reward we are wired to seek, rather than fulfillment (Footnote 5), which our nature leads us to, naturally.
So, the typical solution for those who intuitively understand the dynamic I am outlaying (And I think we ALL intuitively understand it), but the typical solution for those who have managed to free themselves from their egos enough to unplug from the matrix, is typically the same solution, which I think the system is perfectly happy with, and this solution is typically something like: Okay, well, this kind of life (society) is crushing my soul, killing my inner child, so, let’s slave away enough to travel the world or to build a place and grow vegetables and raise our kids to have fulfilling lives.
And there’s nothing wrong with this solution, I think it’s a wonderful solution. My own solution borrows much of the beauty of this solution – but I don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. And throwing the baby out with the bathwater is denying that we can find fulfillment in material things.
Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying money alone buys happiness, but nor am I someone who denies that there are wealthy people living fulfilled lives, financial success can be a significant part of a person’s fulfillment (Depending on their values). Their soul – and yes, they do have one – their soul is happy behind the wheel of their Porsche. As would mine would too be (993 C2S, please).
So, there is no one-sized fits all, society renouncing solution to the human condition, which is really just this addiction to pleasure at the nearly complete obliteration of fulfillment. And maybe the system (Footnote 6) does have a problem (Or rather it’s own Darwinian solution, Footnote 7) for the Screw this capitalist bullshit, let’s just make love and grow vegetables solution – I don’t know. But what I do know is that there is another solution that practically no one is considering (Footnote 8), and no one is considering this extant solution because it is an idea most people would not understand. And it’s an idea most people would not understand because it’s an idea most people have never experienced – myself included (Footnote 9). And most people have never experienced it, because it’s not part of the human condition – at least not yet (Footnote 10).
The solution is, like any true change inducing solution, a paradigm shift big enough to change the game.
Because the game, as it stands and has stood since the dawn of modern – what may for many intents and purposes be called collectivist society – has been a kind of Darwinian capitalism, where shit runs downhill (Footnote 11).
And what I mean by this is that in the modern villages we call cities and nations, there are a lot of people who simply lack the resources to live – not even fulfilled lives but lives free from suffering.
And suffering is not a lack of access to the newest phone – as any fortunate enough teenager would lament – but lack of access to medicine for a sick child, shelter for an abused woman, and treatment for an addicted man (Please pardon my gender stereotyping). It is a lack of access to the basic things that compromise human dignity and perpetuate suffering – very often via fear and violence (Footnote 12).
It’s one thing to think about how we, the relatively privileged, can escape the “rat race” and grow our vegetables and have sex in the back of our Teslas (Footnote 13), but the
real greater problems we need to think about solving are those beyond our backyards – and as I discovered growing up, in mine (See footnote 9).
But here’s the thing, the solution (Footnote 14) is not Socialism or anything radical or even an Alinskian organizational master-plan for solving the plight of the underserved, but, rather, the solution is designed to benefit people at all levels.
Please do not think me anti-climactic, but the solution is an idea whose time has come:
It is abundance.
And by abundance I do not merely mean a large quantity of something, as in: for the people in Baltimore to have more, the people in the valley need to have less; by abundance I mean that there is enough for everyone. And to institute (Footnote 15) this idea, we merely all need to understand it. Change the way you look at things and the things you look at begin to change.
By abundance, I mean that there is enough compassion and sensitivity for all of us to become more attuned to our own human nature, as loving, compassionate beings – as biologically similar to our enemies as to our friends. By abundance, I mean that there is enough for us all to address our innate desire to lead fulfilling, highly individual lives.
Right about now, you might be thinking I’m just another white guy with more idealism than practicality, but I believe it is more than idealism.
If I have learned one thing in my life of value, it is that on the opposite side of judgement lies understanding. Just as there is no conspiracy and it’s just greed, there are no worthless human beings – it’s just ignorance – and sometimes mental illness, and sometimes even tragically combined or even collectively associated.
What I am talking about is perhaps a bit seemingly abstract, but the only way for us to make the world better for our children is to change the collective consciousness of the world we live in. And to do that, we all need to change the way we see things. And to do that we need to change the way we understand reality.
Because I look at the younger generation – not saying I know a damn better – but I see a lot of value placed on status over character. I’m not saying status is a bad thing, it’s just not everything.
Like I said, I am not anti material-things; I love material comforts and all, but I just have a bit more depth than to think that I need to rob from Peter to pay Paul, a belief our modern breed of Darwinian capitalism has instituted. A wise man once said, I’d rather have the man without the money than the money without the man. Well, I’m saying that we can have both. You can be the man or woman and have the money, but what makes you is how much class you have. And how much class you have has nothing to do with how well-heeled you are. Class is how you treat people and how you respond to how they treat you. And no, this is not dignity. Dignity is something inherent to all beings. Dignity is something you and everyone else in the world deserves. Dignity is valuing people and valuing yourself too. I’m not pushing some highly subjective concept like “people over profits”. I’m talking about people and profit.
I’ll admit, I’ve faced the crisis of not knowing whether I needed to move to India or Silicon Valley – but I need not be Steve or Siddartha. I can be Lawrence Black. And, in truth, I am both hippie and supercar loving capitalist. My desires, the things buried beneath my hopes, are leading me to a life as individual as I am.
Yes, I do have a business that I could be pulling down six figure months on if I paid it attention, but where my passion really lies is in fostering discussions. This is why I write. To examine myself, to examine reality and know that words have the power to change it all (Footnote 17).
There’s a quote I really need to dig through my library for a proper source on, but in essence, what she says is:
“It’s no coincidence that repressive governments and regimes silence their artists and writers first. Running a society is, after all, complex business, and one poet or writer is, theoretically at least, enough to bring the whole thing down.”
And I love that, because it shows the power of an idea whose time has come.
Only, I’m not trying to bring anything down. I’m just trying to illuminate the human condition – and – really show people what reality can be. We don’t need less billionaires, we need more.
And this is the essence of abundance.
We live in a country where any (US Born) boy or girl can become President; and we all have a right to pursue our desires. But we need to think about the world at large too. Because while there are only so many heads of state (And no, we do not need more) there are billions of people on this planet, and billions of people who should have the right to dream, to pursue their desires.
My dream is to write books. And yes, I want to be famous as a writer, I think it would be cool. I have an ego, and I recognize that when properly nurtured, this is a healthy thing. But it is really about something greater than me, and this is, in essence, the key to fulfillment – to being happy.
And happiness, for everyone, is the essence of my idea of a solution to the human condition. Because there really is an abundance of it on this planet. We’ve just been led to believe that there isn’t enough (Footnote 16).
And that’s an idea whose time has passed – for me at least.
And I hope after reading this, it does for you as well.
1: This is not entirely true. We can detach ourselves from our consciousness -our egos – through the aid of religious experience, love, or entheogens, which all seem, to me at least, to share something special in common between them, which is that they dissolve our egos, which is the part of us that filters reality through the things we wish to be – or not to be – true.
2: Destructive, habit producing drugs – and this includes alcohol – are the most destructive forces against the human will, forces that thankfully education provides an excellent defense against.
3: It is within our nature to experience fulfillment. Fulfillment is an inherent part of sentience. And to put fulfillment into words, I will say that it is the feeling of having happiness in your soul (I smile just reading the words).
4: Whether it is by design or not, I care not to answer that question. As I said, there is no conspiracy, it’s just greed. I am more focused on the solution than the problem, which other, more intelligent people, do attempt to outline.
5: Fulfillment, unlike pleasure, is not addicting (Hence, fulfillment is not profitable – just look at the world’s most fulfilling careers, and not the shit “studies” tell you, I’m talking poet, teacher, farmer).
6: Like I said, no conspiracy, just greed, but if there is a “system” (And there is) this system is merely it’s own collective consciousness – an uber consciousness or a power consciousness – think of the elite – these are the people who use the knowledge I possess in ways that are destructive to other human souls.
7: Ironic how the organic lifestyle that many seek as a solution requires so much capital to afford – i.e., the system then becomes a necessary evil for those who want to eat all organic… hmm (7.1).
7.1: Keep in mind, this is all pretty much me just thinking aloud. Like I said, I am thirty and exploring my intelligence and what I might apply it to (7.2)
7.2: I am a writer and will always be a writer – even if life finds me a conscious capitalist billionaire, I will still write and sell books for the benefit of other human souls. This is the cloth life has sewn into me, the oak tree in the acorn.
8: Aside from perhaps some of the world’s most practiced thinkers, as I have my idealistic suspicions that thinkers Brin, Page, Musk, and perhaps (Although he’s always struck me as more of a Gates than a Jobs mind 8.1) Zuck, do plan to become a part of this solution, which paradigm led technology will lead the way for. Of course, I could be wrong, but I am tempted to reach out to them anyway – (8.2).
8.1: I will happily overturn mine, and many other’s suspicions, to the contrary opinion.
8.2: Surely one of them (wants to angel invest in my Book 8.2.1).
8.2.1: Elevator pitch: A 21st century Les Miserables (8.3, 8.4) – not a retelling, but a modern, paradigm shifting tale of the human condition.
8.3: ‘Great Novel of The People‘
8.4: ‘The Strange Power of Les Mis, the book‘ (8.4.1)
8.4.1: Here’s to you, Chris Hughes...(See 8.1, 8.2.)
9: Growing up, food scarcity and shelter was sometimes a problem for my family (9.1).
9.1: A problem that my parents will forever be my heroes for managing to solve. I love you both to the farthest stars and back.
10: Enter this.
11: And this is where I hit the breaks slightly, because I am not a political nor economic genius, but there are brilliant, well-educated minds who do analyze and solve these problems, or at least theorize solutions.
12: I am not a sociologist nor an anthropologist, but I understand that these are not cultural problems, but human problems.
13: Can you actually have sex in the back of a Tesla? (13.1)
13.1: Consumer reports really needs to be doing a more practical heuristic analysis.
14: This word was contextually ruined for me as a writer by a man with a bad mustache and bad brains. Listen history: no one person has the “solution”. We all do (See footnote 16). Because we are all part of the problem.
15: I don’t much care for this word either, something about it just screams ‘dystopian underpinnings’. I picture a government like North Korea’s having a lot of ministries, responsible for instituting things, “for the people”. Eek!
Teller of stories
Soldier of good fortune
For the children,
For the feminine,
For the masculine,
For the divinity in consciousness
Keeper of the light
Brave for the scared
For there is nothing to fear,
But fear itself
And fear itself is merely the shadow on the wall of the cave,
Yet, we think it real
And so we are afraid,
To turn our backs on darkness
And face the light within us
For it was never a distant thing,
The truth, has always existed in man
But all humankind
The keeper of the light
For the children,
For the feminine,
For the masculine,
For the divinity in consciousness
Soldier of good fortune,
Teller of stories,
Remind the people of what you have gone off and remembered in the darkness
That we are all shaman,
That the medicine we need is the divinity in consciousness
For the masculine
For the feminine
For the children
We are the light,
The forgotten who have remembered
Hearts that broke open to heal the whole wide world
We are One
We are all family
But we stare in darkness,
Afraid of the light
For there is nothing to fear,
Not even fear itself
Be the light,
Join us in brightening the shadows,
And together, let’s watch the whole illusion disappear.
One by one
Two by two
Few by few
Tribe by tribe
Our shared guilt absolved
These are problems we must work together to solve
There is no conspiracy
Wielded by the most afraid
By those whom we deny our love to most
These monsters we have made,
They are only a projection of our our darkest parts,
And those cast in the fire,
Suffer demons for us all
It’s a great misunderstanding.
Based around the idea,
That there isn’t enough.
We must see through the illusion we created
Or live in fear forever.
The choice starts with every one
Keeper of the light,
Or cast in the fire,
Thus religions were born
But the shadows only grew
For nobody believed,
We the few
They called the shaman a heretic
And sometimes, powers came to be
Wielded by the most afraid
In their high towers,
From the people who could love them
If they only trusted,
That there was enough to go around
They become drunk on the worship
Of their power and the fear they weild
Power = Fear
Surrender = Love
If everybody could only trust
That there is enough.
But nobody believed the shaman
Until he became a King.
He did not die for our sins
He died because of them.
And the greatest sin of all,
Keeper of the light,
Become a King
And the people will listen
But run around telling kings,
And they will kill you for it.
And only when kings become men,
And men become kings,
Shall the meek inherit the earth
Take back your power.
Wipe away your tears,
You have the light of truth now.
And they can never take it away from you.
Help men see.
But don’t run around telling kings
For they will be the last to know.
Enough of the meek being the first to go.
Return to this poem,
Your own truth
It is hidden from those who know it not.
It is Love.
A long time ago,
Men remembered these things
But they were afraid to say it was them
And so they gave the credit to imaginary kings
It is time
That the meek shall rise
And know themselves as divine
For the children,
For the feminine,
For the masculine,
For the king and peasant, the hero and villain, and the god and martyr, in us all
The thing is:
We are human too
But we needn’t give up desire and dreams
For those are beautiful things
And there is enough for us all
For love is the divine substance
And to create more
We need only give it away
My bounty is as boundless as the sea,
My love as deep; the more I give to thee,
The more I have, for both are infinite.
William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet
Footnote 17: Words do have power. And really, any art does. We just happen to live in the age of analytics, where art for entertainment’s sake rules, but the real task of the artist is much more meaningful. If you, whoever you are, have artistic desires, I implore you: follow them. For while you may not save the soul of mankind, in trying, you will save your own. And really, this is what we must all do. For art is as simple as using your own humanity to create change in others. And to me, this is more fulfilling than any interface I could optimize or any check I could cash. But seriously, Zuckerberg, holla at me. Someone will. And if not, I’ll just optimize a few interfaces while Rome burns, and my writing will come slower. But it will come. Nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. Not even me.
Note: I do not own any copyright on the image at the top of this essay, which is from the motion picture, Les Miserables, which I suggest everyone read the book ; )