Reflections on Prometheus Rising


“What the Thinker thinks, the Prover proves.”

Robert Anton Wilson

Domesticated primates (humans) think themselves into their relative neurological realities. Within the framework of these “realities,” they make assumptions about what is true and false, right and wrong, essential and inessential, real and fake.

Humans filter the universe through their nervous systems. They don’t perceive what is objectively true (which is not to say that an objective truth does or doesn’t exist), but rather, they interpret a particular aspect of reality. Mediated through their past beliefs, experiences, conditionings, and so on, they may “see” all of their life through the “reality tunnel” of the Marxist, Fascist, Atheist, Christian, Buddhist, feminist, misogynist, Democrat, Republican, protestor, cop, doctor, patient, Caucasian male, African American female, pessimist, optimist, lover, fighter, bad son, good daughter, and so on.

People make endless guesses about their identities and the identities of others, often without realizing they are doing so. While it is easier to see the prejudices and biases in others, it is more difficult to see those same qualities within.

“Every type of bigotry, every type of racism, sexism, prejudice, every dogmatic ideology that allows people to kill other people with a clear conscience, every stupid cult, every superstition, written religion, every kind of ignorance in the world all results from not realizing that our perceptions are gambles.

We believe what we see and then we believe our interpretation of it; we don’t even know we are making an interpretation most of the time. We think that this is reality.” (Wilson, Robert)


People not only don’t know but they don’t know that they don’t know. Their specific “reality” appears to be the true one, while other people’s realities, the more they diverge from their own, seem increasingly bizarre and nonsensical.

Human minds often function as if they were made up of only two parts: the Thinker and the Prover. Whenever the Thinker is convinced of a given reality, the Prover will unconsciously work to organize all “evidence” in favor of it being true. Signals that are consistent with the Thinker’s preferred reality tunnel are incorporated into it while other signals (that are irrelevant, unpleasant, or contradictory) are forgotten, ignored, rejected, resisted, and rationalized.


Human brains are matter in spacetime. They’re wrinkled organs, weighing close to three pounds each. There are roughly 100 billion neurons in one brain. These neurons communicate with each other electro-chemically in vast networks.

Brains generate ideas, influenced by all the signals that they have been exposed to in every moment, from an ancient set of scrolls, to a drama on TV, to a fight with a sibling, to the taste of a strawberry, to the warmth of sunlight, and so on. Nervous systems control a lot of what is taken for reality, such as thought, memory, emotion, touch, vision, breathing, temperature, pain, and so on.

While ideas are not equal to all of reality, they can make up the approximate models of given realities.

Just as brains resemble the hardware on a computer, ideas are its software. Anything, from psychedelic mushrooms, to the organization of a political revolution, to eating a vegetarian diet for three years, can change the consciousness of a person.

Certain programs written onto the hardware of the brain are genetic imperatives, imprinting, conditioning, and learning. The mind is bound to what it imprints at vulnerable stages of its development. Its software turns into hardware over time, further setting the structure for conscious thought.

Out of an infinite number of signals in the universe, the domesticated primate (human) is imprinted with a limited number of those signals during different stages of life, contributing to the development of a sense of self. Learning, conditioning, novel experiences, and so on, add to this structural foundation. As the brain matures from birth to old age, more intricate models of reality may build up over time.


At the level of the oral bio-survival circuit, humans are hardwired from birth onward to seek a sense of security, nourishment, and a womb-like feeling of safety, while avoiding what is harmful, dangerous, and life threatening.

“In summary: the bio-survival circuit is DNA-programmed to seek a comfort-safety zone around a mothering organism. If a mother isn’t present, the closet substitute in the environment will be imprinted.” (Wilson, Robert)

Domesticated primates (humans) are genetically hardwired to look for security in their family, immediate group, and tribe. They may be further conditioned to identify with other symbolic groups such as the university they attended, their profession, the religion they were raised in, a political party that had impacted their adolescence, and so on.

They may even transfer their security-need onto symbols such as money, which in itself is of no value (you cannot eat money) except in the agreed upon value determined by other members of that particular group.

“In traditional society, belonging to the tribe was bio-security; exile was terror, and real threat of death. In modern society, having the tickets (money) is bio-security; having the tickets withdrawn is terror.” (Wilson, Robert)

Those who do not belong to the same group are often categorized as outsiders, or even, enemies. They’re perceived as hostile, aggressive, or challenging to that group’s interests and purpose. Any element, from a dissident citizen’s writings to a protest for systemic change, which could threaten the security of the group, is resisted and rejected.


The emotional-territorial circuit is concerned with power, dominance and submission, superiority and inferiority.

People unconsciously struggle for status in their social group. In a tribe, members fit into various roles, each person assuming different responsibilities and functions. Some members assume top dog roles while other members fall into bottom dog roles.

These roles can be divided into the four quadrants of “I’m ok/you’re ok, I’m ok/you’re not ok, I’m not ok/you’re not ok, I’m not ok/you’re ok,” under the basic terminology of Transactional Analysis.

This model, along with other similar models, which represents the earliest imprinting and subsequent conditioning of one’s ego role in society, will vary based on the strength of early imprinting, the dynamics of the group in relation to the individual, how successfully the individual is conditioned out of robotically following an imprinted role, and so on.

Furthermore, each of these four quadrants, while convenient, can be endlessly divided into ever finer categories. People don’t exist in one of these quadrants completely, but rather, fall on a spectrum in between these extremes, which will shift as their nervous systems change.


Humans (domesticated primates) use symbols and are used by symbols. Those who control the symbols have the power to control other people. These symbols include, but are not limited to: art, music, mathematics, maps, and words.

Symbols often rule the lives of people without their awareness of them. Certain ideas have been passed down from generation to generation, transferring between nervous systems from thousands of years ago to this very moment. Over a long enough span of time, some of these ideas have begun to no longer seem like representations of certain realities, but as unquestioned truths, such as with the State, the wheel, the plow, the alphabet, agriculture, Roman road systems, etc.

Symbols, such as words, do not exist in isolation. Words carry around underlying assumptions about psychological states, emotional tones, explanations of the physical universe, and references to innumerable aspects of what makes up existence and meaning and purpose.

“Since words contain both denotations (referents in the sensory-existential world) and connotations (emotional tones and poetic or rhetorical hooks), humans can be moved to action even by words which have no real meaning or reference in actuality. This is the mechanism of demagoguery, advertising and much of organized religion.” (Wilson, Robert)

The semantic time-binding circuit makes distinctions out of raw experiences. It puts labels on the ineffability of life. Its purpose is to endlessly divide and sub-divide, categorizing all the universe into predictable patterns, which make sense.

Every new generation adds information to former generations, re-classifying the outdated information of the past. Novel connections arise between what once existed and what currently exists, leading to discovery, insight, and progression.

While entropy shows a gradual decline into disorder, information is negative entropy, coherence and order, where understandings birth out of chaos. When information increases exponentially, new patterns are recognized from a randomness of events. Over ever shorter periods of time, more advancements develop in music, art, technology, science, and so on.

Despite all this informational “progress” over the centuries, the majority of domesticated primates (humans) are still trapped in their lower, more primitive circuits. They have evolved with reptilian and mammalian brains from earlier epochs in time.

Lower circuits can often be manipulated through a fear of outsiders, threats to safety, challenges to trusted authorities, appeals to tribal loyalty, and a distrust in those who are perceived as different, alien, or hostile.

While the first two circuits establish homeostasis in a civilization, the third (semantic, time-binding) circuit seeks out higher states. The third circuit has always been controlled, partially or totally, through the creation and enforcement of rules, taboos, prohibitions, laws, traditions, rituals, and cultural games — most of which are unconscious, unstated, and seen as “common sense.”

Those who are in power want to control third-circuit insights, and establish order, because ideas that are unknown and new and radical often challenge the power structures already in place. There have always been fluctuations between progressive ideas and traditions, but as time passes in civilization, so does the informational content.

Informational content may act to support all of life such as with movements for equality and rights, medicines that treat infectious diseases, scientific revolutions that upend the fundamental understanding of spacetime, and so on. On the other side, informational content can destroy all of life, such as with nuclear bombs, drone strikes, oil spills, assault rifles, child labor, book burnings, etc.

Everything that has manifested in civilization — from planes to trains, skyscrapers to highways, napalm to baby clothes, microwaves to toe rings — has birthed because of ideas, connecting symbolically through imaginations, developing, changing, self-correcting, evolving over time.

Through imagination, people exist with a potential for generating unknown amounts of growth and destruction. In a world of limited resources, overpopulation, and institutions that seek to maintain their primate order with warheads, lower-circuit manipulations, and ink excretions on paper to establish their power, there is another force that is still accelerating: information. Through information lies the possibility for high knowledge, liberation, and awareness.


The socio-sexual circuit awakens during adolescence — at the onset of puberty. During this vulnerable stage in human development, sexual preferences, taboos, dysfunctions, and fetishes have the highest chance of being imprinted. These imprints may be due to chance, trauma, genetics, and environmental influences.

People generally mimic what’s deemed as acceptable by their culture while hiding what is not, keeping certain parts of their sexual profiles secret. Every tribe has its own rules about what is considered sexually moral and immoral.

There are, in every society, controls over sexual self-identification and related behaviors. Whether these controls are ignorant or enlightened, biased or liberated, is one matter. Nevertheless, the innate purpose behind these measures is to influence the survival, variability, and evolution of the gene pool. Those who make and enforce these rules often want power over what people can and can’t do, which in turn, gives them more control over their choices, values, identities, and meanings.

Despite these attempts at domination, there will always be unknown variables in sexual attraction, reproduction, mating, and future evolution.

“Taboo and morality are tribal attempts to govern the random element — to select the desired future.” (Wilson, Robert)

Those who act as authorities in select groups within their societies, such as monks, nuns, priests, shamans, teachers, philosophers, parents, politicians, scientists, journalists, celebrities, and so on, decide what symbols are acceptable and unacceptable, moral and immoral, right and wrong. Those who control these symbols can control the limits of information.

The socio-sexual circuit keeps a check on the semantic time-binding circuit. Frequent checks are necessary to prevent an unrestrained rise of innovation and to keep order.

Children are generally taught to follow the rules of their given society, to accept those rules as normal. They are not commonly taught to question their leaders, criticize those in authority, or develop into critical independent thinkers.

Tribal guides, such as parents, teachers, priests, and police officers, desire for children to think/act semi-robotically, mimicking agreed upon values, following the traditions of the past, so they’ll be accepted into the preferred roles of their groups.

Most people are programmed to be just smart enough to do their roles properly, but not smart enough to question the roles they are placed under. They are trained to follow certain unspoken rules within their groups (of gender, class, race, age, etc.) but not to question them too much.

They will vote for leaders who appeal to their primitive circuits, such as charismatic politicians who claim to be patriots, who denounce outsiders that threaten their traditional values. To stir up the emotions of the population based on outside threats, to speak eloquently about hope and change, is a way for those in power to manipulate ordinary people. Politicians prey on vulnerabilities, reinforcing a desire for security and a fear of the unknown.


Groups often apply similar tactics to re-imprint the nervous systems of individuals. Many cults, militaries, religions, and terrorists, who have re-imprinted (brainwashed) those who were initially outside their groups, used methods of isolation (removal of contradicting realities), harsh punishments for unacceptable behavior, rewards for acceptable behavior, the reinforcement of group superiority over individual inferiority, mind-altering drugs, initiations to earn special statuses, the normalization of security inside the group (protective mother/father figure) alongside a fear of the unknown (outside perspectives), etc.

“The easiest way to get brainwashed is to be born. All of the above principles then immediately go into action, a process which social psychologists euphemistically call socialization. The bio-survival circuit automatically hooks onto or bonds to the most appropriate mother or mothering object; the emotional-territorial circuit looks for a ‘role’ or ego-identification in the family or tribe; the semantic circuit learns to imitate and then use the local reality-grids (symbol systems); the socio-sexual circuit is imprinted by whatever mating experiences are initially available at puberty.” (Wilson, Robert)

Domesticated primates (humans) are born with nervous systems. These nervous systems can adapt to a wide range of different reality-tunnels. Whereas in the past, groups may have existed separately from other groups, while still maintaining a sense of stable reality, in modern times, in this interconnected world, groups bump up against each other constantly, clashing over what reality is.

The symbol systems that some groups hold to be true and logical and moral, to other groups, are seen as false and nonsensical and immoral. Many groups confuse their symbol systems (maps of reality) with reality itself. To the most dogmatic believers, their reality is the only true reality. Anyone who opposes them is deluded, immoral, or heretical.

In modern times, through a constant exposure to different reality-tunnels, group identities are being challenged more often than before. The more dogmatic the group, the more dangerous it is for that group to be around outsiders with dissimilar views.


Beyond the first four circuits (oral bio-survival, anal territorial, semantic time-binding, socio-sexual) is the neurosomatic circuit.

Pranayama breathing, meditation, visualization of white light, prolonged sexual play without having an orgasm, psychedelic/cannabis consumption, among other techniques, can trigger highly pleasant and unpleasant sensory states, depending on the level of the practitioner.

Yogis, gurus, mystics, and heretics have described this circuit as an orgasmic experience, union with all/God/the infinite/the divine, crossing the abyss, and so on. Some have entered this state through a terrible internal struggle while others seem to naturally flow there without much suffering.

The fifth circuit is intuitive and non-linear. Whereas the third circuit hyper-thinking rationalist will build linear models of reality, and the second circuit alpha will behave differently based on who is dominant in the social hierarchy, the fifth-circuit mystic will sense the gestalt, the organic whole, between data points in infinity.


The neurogenetic circuit moves beyond all lower circuits. This is the circuit of genetic memory, the collective unconscious, the Tao, non-duality. Coincidences become significant and paradoxes are solved with wordless understanding. There is no true distinction between what exists out there and what exists within.

On the level of this circuit, infinity fits within a flicker of sunlight. All of the cosmos, from the quarks inside of atoms to the planets of distant galaxies, from the birth of the Big Bang to a child’s sigh on an Argentinian beach, interconnects with each other, rising and falling, being and not being. Life and death are like the root systems of expanding trees.


The mind becomes what it focuses on. A mind that thinks about thinking is meta-thinking. To think about thinking about thinking, ad infinitum, to reflect all of life like a mirror, to be totally absorbed in an idea, a feeling, a moment, without any mental separation, is to use the meta-programming circuit.

This circuit can program all the lower circuits, switching between them like channels on a television set. Similar to non-action in Taoism, the meta-programmer adapts to each circumstance, engaging life fully, while not holding on.

The human brain may be physically small compared to the universe, while inside the brain, the entire universe operates. As the mind encounters certain reality-tunnels, the mind can inhabit the logic of those reality-tunnels, while knowing that there is more out there.


The nervous system takes in a limited number of “existential” information, or data points, from the infinite possibilities of the universe.

Then the nervous system creates models of reality from this changing data — editing, combining, classifying, removing, adding — mostly below the level of conscious awareness.

So many thoughts, feelings, perceptions, sensations, and so on, are processed every millisecond. While at the same time, most of people’s lives are forgotten. Irrelevant/contradictory information is constantly being ignored, resisted, rejected, and rationalized.

Only fragments of experience are selected to fit into one’s conscious beliefs.

Even those experiences are constantly interpreted. They’re being analyzed, misremembered, revised, and forgotten.

People narrow their perceptions even more by filtering their identities through the different symbol systems of race, class, gender, politics, religion, height, fitness, personal hobbies, sexuality, ad infinitum, creating ever more distinct reality-tunnels for themselves.

Domesticated primates (humans) are a lot more creative than they will ever realize. They are the artists of their own existence, capable of, but not always aware of, neurologically programming their relationship with the universe. They inter-are with all that is. Every person creates his or her own universe while the universe is creating every person.


All human systems have degrees of order and chaos within them. As this balance shifts, so does the system and those who are in it. The more complex the system becomes informationally, the more unstable it will become as well.

As information increases exponentially, major transformations will take place in the system, which will radically change the realities of future people — sometimes intentionally, sometimes not.

Look at the difference in perception between a hunter-gatherer and an industrialist, an astrologer in ancient Egypt and a quantum physicist in the 20th century, a child factory worker in 1890 and a computer software engineer in 2019.

The breakdown of an old system may be the sign of a breakthrough into another model of reality, another visionary step, another way of seeing.

From death, life springs, but from life, death returns. Just like a caterpillar bursting through the hold of its cocoon, exposed to the wind, stretching out to flap its colorful wings, for only a moment, before eventually meeting its end.

Systems are not isolated information organisms, destined to evolve or self-destruct, while unable to affect anything outside of themselves. They are interconnected with the energies of other systems, gleaming with promise like the beads of Indra’s Net.

As entropy is a measure of the increasing disorder in a closed system, there is still the quantum probability of energy underlying the fabric of every event non-locally. As information increases in an uncertain but probabilistic state of coherence to chaos, order to disorder, systems will change and neurological realities will adapt to their interplay, until there is another transformation in consciousness.

Blackout Poem (9/4/21)


You are

the world

I am

the world

being.


Change is

the dance

of you and I.


The physical universe is

the living now.


I have realized the present is

all there is.


Never pretend

you look out there

for God.


Get very quiet

look inside, awake

a sane consciousness.


In chaos

a secret order

irritates

an understanding

of ourselves.


Made from the texts of Alan Watts and Carl Jung

Loving-Kindness in Each Moment

Mettā is loving-kindness.

When we have mettā, we’re kind, respectful, compassionate, gentle, loving, and caring. We want to express our unconditional goodwill. Our minds — bodies come together as friends. We’re accepting rather than judgmental, tender rather than harsh, forgiving rather than punishing.

Thich Nhat Hanh, peace activist and founder of the Plum Village Tradition in Zen Buddhism, wrote that “Mettā meditation is a practice of cultivating understanding, love, and compassion by looking deeply, first for ourselves and then for others.”

When we can heal ourselves, then we can heal the world.

Ajahn Brahm, Theravadin monk and Abbot of the Bodhinyana Monastery in Australia, wrote in Bear Awareness, “If you have loving-kindness toward other people, they’re no longer a problem. With loving-kindness toward yourself, you’re no longer a problem to yourself. And when you have loving-kindness toward every moment, beautiful mettā to this moment, you’re on the highway to enlightenment. The path becomes so easy.”

We can open our hearts to every moment. Even when we make a mistake, yawn with tiredness, forget to accomplish a task, lose our patience with someone close to us, or dread an upcoming event, we can be compassionate toward ourselves.

Every experience can teach us to look deeply within.

“Life always gives us exactly the teacher we need at every moment. This includes every mosquito, every misfortune, every red light, every traffic jam, every obnoxious supervisor (or employee), every illness, every loss, every moment of joy or depression, every addiction, every piece of garbage, every breath. Every moment is the guru.” (Beck, Joko)

When we silently repeat our phrases of loving-kindness, we are cultivating our mettā. We’re watering the seeds of peace, love, and non-duality, rather than the seeds of violence, hatred, and discrimination.

“May you be happy, may you be healthy, may you be at peace” are a few common sentences that we can speak for our loving-kindness meditation. We can even say “Love… [pause] Peace… [pause] Joy… [pause]” or whatever words touch our hearts. In the spaces between every word, we can connect.

“The words just light the match that ignites the mettā. The feelings that come after the words, that’s mettā.” (Brahm, Ajahn)

At the beginning of our practice, words will point our minds toward mettā.

After enough practice, we will no longer need to use our words anymore.

“This is how we practice loving-kindness. We use the words to generate an emotion, and when that emotion is strong, we turn toward the emotion and let go of the words. The words have done their job. If you wish, you can visualize it like a golden light in your heart.” (Brahm, Ajahn)

No matter how we meditate, whether we’re walking on a path in the forest, sitting on a soft cushion, or driving down the freeway after work, we can be kind, we can be present, we can be compassionate. As we breathe in and out, as we settle into stillness, we become more aware of what passes. The moment doesn’t need to be any different than it is.

As we watch our feelings, thoughts, and sensations, they will come and go.

Letting them go is an act of mettā.

“Make peace, be kind, be gentle — that’s all you need to do. When the mind is restless, make peace, be kind, be gentle. That’s a goal you can always achieve. If you can’t make the mind still or let go of the thoughts or get rid of the tiredness, you can always make peace with it. You can always be kind, you can always be gentle — that’s within your power no matter what’s happening. And that’s all you need to do. Peace will follow along, and the joy of kindness and the beautiful equanimity of gentleness will be with you.” (Brahm, Ajahn)

We often get so caught up in our views, in our expectations for how our lives should be, that we suffer needlessly. It’s not necessary for us to prove that we’re tough meditators, sitting in cramped positions, unmoved for hours, gritting our teeth.

We don’t need to force our minds to concentrate.

We don’t need to achieve any special state either.

It’s far better for us to be kind and gentle.

We can be happy with who we are in each moment. We don’t have to look outside ourselves for peace. We often imagine that we’ll finally be content after we meet our soul mate, write a best-selling book, land a lucrative job, raise a family, get rich on the stock market, but after our goals are done, we will only return to ourselves, again and again, until we seek the next big thing.

There will always be more that we want, more that we can’t have, more that we don’t want to lose, more that we have already lost. We might believe that one day, we will be happy and peaceful and loving, but not yet. Not until we have achieved X or have become Y. The time of our happiness will always be an idea in the future. It will forever be outside our reach.

What we don’t realize is already within us.

If we want to find peace, we have to be peace. If we want to find love, we have to be love.

It begins with us now.

“Root out the violence in your life, and learn to live compassionately and mindfully. Seek peace. When you have peace within, real peace with others is possible… If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.” (Hanh, Thich Nhat)

A Talk About Nothing | Ajahn Brahm [Reflections]

“To help us understand the beauty and joy of nothingness Ajahn Brahm talks about his spiritual experience in the jungles of Central America. Ajahn Brahm challenges us to spend half a day on our weekend doing nothing (just simply giving ourselves an opportunity to become peaceful).”

Reflections:

Meditation is not so hard. All we have to do is do nothing. We’re so used to doing things, dwelling on what we do, don’t do, don’t want to do, and will one day do, that we forget what it’s like to do nothing. But when we can let go of our thoughts about the past and future, when we can rest in the space of the moment, not trying to gain anything, go anywhere, or be anyone, we can find so much freedom.

We can take delight in being who we are.

We’ve become habituated to planning for futures that will never come, busying ourselves with errands, dwelling on our past mistakes, desiring what we don’t have, and avoiding what we don’t like, that when we do have the chance to do nothing, we often are still trying to do something.

To do nothing is easy. All we have to do is let things be.

Then we can watch the trees grow.

Notes on a Dharma Talk by Sr. Thuan Khanh: Self-Care in Times of Grief

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

When we cannot care for ourselves, we cannot care for our loved ones. To first take care of ourselves, we must come back to who we are. We can mindfully return to our bodies, environments, and relationships, over and again. We depend on these elements to be.

Sometimes as we cope with our grief, our suffering overwhelms us. We may avoid experiencing any feelings of uncertainty, fear, and sorrow. Instead of opening ourselves up to what is happening, we harden our hearts instead.

We can take small steps to heal from our losses. Walking in nature, eating healthy foods, meditating, and so on, are some actions that can nourish us.

We can bring our minds back to our in-breath and our out-breath. Our breath doesn’t need to be forced. We can find presence from walking, talking, sitting, laying, eating, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, going to the bathroom, listening to the rainfall.

We can be with what we are doing in each moment. Our breath is like the root of a tree, even while the branches are shaking. No matter what we are feeling, we can return to our stability.

Whenever we are feeling distressed, we can stop and consciously breathe. When we are no longer hiding from our fear and sorrow, uncertainty and doubt, we can look at our true nature. Then we can learn to accept what is.

As we wake up each morning, we can smile, and give thanks that we are alive another day. We can wish all beings happiness, health, and peace. As a lotus grows from the mud, our compassion opens up when we are aware of our suffering.

When we nourish ourselves daily, when we live peacefully, we can offer our peace to our loved ones. Each of our steps on this earth is a continuation of our ancestors, descendants, and communities. We depend on the lives of others just as the lives of others depend on us. We cannot be without the trees, the sun, the rain, the sky. We’re not separate egos in bags of flesh.

Breathing in, we are solid.

We are with all things.

Breathing out, we are at home.

We are with all things.

Our healing begins now, not only for ourselves, but for all beings.

Seneca: On Virtue as a Refuge from Worldly Distractions (Letter 74)

Letter 74. LXXIV. On Virtue as a Refuge from Worldly Distractions

Notes:

While undergoing hardships, why do some of us develop our resolve while others of us fall into despair? Then there are some of us who are happy, even while we are poor, while others of us are poor, even while we are rich.

To find peace in our lives, we must forgo externals that are out of our control. We can be happy with what is honorable instead. Virtuous choices are in our control. When we focus on what is in our power, we are pleased with what we have, and do not seek what we do not have.

Virtue is not only our practice, but a reward. We do not do virtuous deeds to win the approval of others or to boast about what we have done, but for the sake of the virtue itself.

We can cultivate our characters through our thoughts and deeds. When what we think and do harmonizes together, we are not lacking anything anymore. Our minds are calm, undisturbed. We are free.

We can choose to suffer from distractions and wretchedness. We can dwell for years on fears of the past and future, while both remain absent from our lives. Or we can be virtuous, which is a beginning and an end. We can live fully now

On the Shortness of Life (Seneca)

· Our lives are generally not as short as we believe them to be. We just waste a lot of our quality time, distracting ourselves with what is trivial and pointless and inessential. Then we regret the time that we have lost when it is too late.

· We often tell ourselves that after years of hard work, we will finally relax into our retirement and do what we want in our old age. But why should we live authentically when we are about to die, when we could have lived before then? What matters is to live now rather than hoping for some abstract future that may never come.

· We guard our possessions, but we give away our time without the same sense of protectiveness. When we don’t value what we have, and crave after what we don’t need, we suffer.

· Time will never return to us once it has gone. It is our responsibility to treasure it. It is easy to be distracted, misled, and lazy in our efforts, wasting years of our lives on paths that undermine us.

· It takes us a lifetime to learn how to live. It takes us a lifetime to learn how to die. How many mistakes have we made, how many choices have led to our suffering, so that we could earn our wisdom?

· A worthy life is not measured in years, but in the wisdom of our thoughts and actions. We may survive until we’re fat and wrinkled and gray, but are we grateful for the preciousness of each moment? Are we committed to our integrity? The person we will one day become is based on what we do in the present.

· No one will bring us back our lost years. No one will return us to our former selves. We can’t go back to our past, but must adapt ourselves to the moment we are in, and act virtuously. What we postpone until tomorrow may never come. There may never be a tomorrow.

· Statues will wear down into dust. Plants will wither into the sun. Humans will decompose, eaten away by maggots. Even the greatest civilizations of the past have all fallen under their own weight. Everything will break down. We grow out of decay and will eventually return again. What will we do with the time that we have left?

Practicing with Unpleasant Emotions | Thich Nhat Hanh

Our sadness, fear, despair, anger, and so on, all begin as seeds in our store consciousness. When they are watered, they become mental formations. There they gain in energy.

When a painful feeling arises, we can first return to our mindful breathing. We can say to ourselves, “Breathing in, I am aware of the despair in me. Breathing out, I hold my despair with kindness.”

We do not try to hide or run away from our painful feelings. There is no need to blame ourselves or act out against others for feeling in a certain way. We are simply aware of what we are feeling and care for it. Our feelings are our babies.

When we are mindful of our own suffering, and tend to our suffering, we can be mindful of other people’s suffering and tend to them too.

Mindfulness isn’t attacking or hiding. We are looking deeply at the nature of our feelings. Through our gentle awareness, we can transform our feelings.

  1. Recognize our pain
  2. Embrace the pain
  3. Bring Relief
  4. Touch Insight and transformation