Beyond the Myth of Sisyphus


Ever since Camus we have imagined Sisyphus happy, pushing his boulder
This “hero” accepts his fate and is devoid of hope
The perfect absurdist hero

What a hopeful chap that Camus, but such hope, he fails his own test
His boulder rests firmly atop his absurd postmodern hill

Camus can go no further, yet Sisyphus persists
Do not ask if he is happy (surely he is not)
Instead ask, does he accept his fate?

He ought to throw up his hands and beg forgiveness to the gods
Yet he persists
Why?

His actions speak for themselves
What do the actions of Sisyphus indicate about his beliefs?

What do your actions say about your beliefs?
What do you believe, really?

that pain is real, that suffering is real
that there is life, that there is death
that there is good, that there is evil
that there is truth, that there is knowledge

that truth is knowable amidst lies and deceit

that chaos is real, that order is real
that beauty is real
that God is … ?

For all our talk, we sure do act as if we believe

evidenced by his actions, there is only one belief Sisyphus holds
he fails — and he fails — and he fails
yet he tries again — and again — and again

It is as if the infinite power of the gods
to knock his boulder down back down the hill
has been matched by his stubborn refusal to give up

If the story is to be believed
Sisyphus once chained death and escaped the underworld
That is why the gods punish him

But clearly something still motivates him
He must believe that this impossible task is in fact doable
He once saw past the gods, he rejected them

I imagine his mind is freed of ego
and yet he is not happy, far from it
His torment is real — and – it – is – frustrating

He persists despite his
liberation from the unnecessary suffering of false beliefs
the gods of these traditions punish him daily
And he pushes against them eternal

He toils in a meaningless way
I do not see him as a hero nor as happy
I do not believe his fault was for defying the gods
No
Sisyphus once knew a path out of hell
His fault is a lack of wit and ingenuity,
a lack of wisdom and creativity,
to truly surpass what he must know can be surpassed

We can not not Believe

IMG_4296One of the most important things I’ve ever learned, is not to get lost in the metaphors of belief.

Before you dismiss beliefs in God or gods or faeries or elves or nature spirits or a belief in a mechanistic universe devoid of any supernatural entities — before dismissing the beliefs of others, recognize that all human perceptions are illusory and false, all of them, pretty much by definition they are not real, they are abstract metaphors attempting to make sense of a world outside of our senses.

If you’re going to dismiss false beliefs, then start with your favorite color, your favorite music, the beauty of a sunset — these are false beliefs. The sun doesn’t set. Color and music exist only in your mind, they have no external reality and there is no scientific basis for what is known as the qualia of these experiences.

We pretend science is mechanistic and yet every scientific breakthrough happened through a creative and playful insight, a creation of a new metaphor that while useful is still as false as all the others.

All of our ambitions and our every “will to power” is as natural and as false as believing in tree spirits. We devise these metaphors in attempt to make sense of the world and ourselves. We are the creators of these perceptions and there is no difference between you as the perceiver and that which you perceive.

But can you stop believing in music and color, can you truly stop believing in magic? Is it even possible not to embrace false beliefs?

Every time you think about “a life worth living” or “doing the right thing”, you are under the delusion of a false belief.

It is impossible to be human without these experiential beliefs.

But it is possible to know that a belief is false and still be uplifted by the power of that belief — it profoundly doesn’t matter that there is no external reality to the beauty you experience listening to music, or watching a sunset, or spending a quiet afternoon with a lover, or appreciating a babbling brook — to be human is to live with and of these metaphors.

The problem with beliefs is not that they are false, all beliefs are false, you may say some are useful and some are not — but even that conjecture of usefulness is itself a false belief (useful to whom? and to what end?).

The problem is when we get lost in the metaphor. The moment you see your beliefs as real, that is the problem — the moment you forget that your perceptions are only perceptions, that is the problem — this is what leads to religious fanaticism and suffering of all kinds; and while it’s natural to have false beliefs, it is wise to live with and of the beauty of beliefs. Believe in music, believe in art, believe in God if it inspires you to be kind, believe in tree spirits if it helps you to feel connected with nature, just don’t get lost in the metaphor, it’s not real, and that’s okay.

Revolutions

HavanaHavana, Cuba — Quiet, peaceful, and relaxing; there is a gentle ocean-air breeze– fawning playful nymphs dancing with the wind and water.

Island culture– there is so much potential in every smile and every laugh.

There is no perfect society, no perfect system, but perhaps there is the best in this moment.

If you struggle today hoping for a better tomorrow, have you not merely sown the seeds for tomorrows struggle?

We create the next moment continuously from the seeds of the present moment. The more I live, the more I travel, the more I realize that conflict produces only more conflict.

Often a conflict ends from the exhaustion of one side or another, usually both, then you have no peace– just exhaustion.

While there is no perfect society, there is a perfection in each moment; not yesterday, not tomorrow, but now — simply to make the best of the moment. In every moment there exists the divine; the actuality of the moment — it cannot exist anywhere else.

Engage with profound awareness in the world around you; recognize that you are this moment, the perception of the world as separate from you is an illusion — for who is perceiving? It is simply the universe reacting to itself, in only an abstract sense are you a component of that reaction.

The tree, the bushes, the wind upon your cheek, the lover lost in thought; all things you perceive are you — most literally abstractions in your head, and most profoundly all part of the motion of the universe, which if you like, is easily abstracted as “you”.

This is true of everything, there is no non-arbitrary division or separation between you as the perceiver and you as the thing perceived.

The perfect system, the ideal utopian civilization is easily understood with this awareness — do not be surprised if utopia is nothing but a euphoric calm, or a loving kindness, or a profound and simple freedom from suffering.
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Any change may be possible, yet only without suffering can we attain growth and prosperity. Otherwise we are simply repeating our suffering: the same tired conflicts and divisiveness, the same endless revolution after revolution.

In a Dream

In a Dream by timwarnock

In a dream I heard the gurus talking with the anti-gurus, about inner gurus and outer gurus. There were priests and philosophers, holy men with flowing robes. There was much worship and ritual, talk of enlightenment and how to breath.

“Breathing”, I thought, I’m doing it wrong.

The dream reminded me of the psychonaut splendor of a drug induced mind. Altered states of consciousness, doors of perception swinging to-and-fro. The kind of experience that teaches a profound lesson: there are different states of consciousness, different ways of thinking, different methods of thought.

“Thinking”, I thought, I’m doing it wrong.

Can I awaken from this dream? To awaken, a mind needs not drugs nor gurus nor rituals. That’s all part of the dream. The mind need only awaken from its dream of ego, the thought of self. The mind can easily function without the thought of self, try it, let it go; and with it the gurus and drugs and rituals effortlessly fall away.

If it persists then nourish the thought of self such that it knows it is but a thought, and become as the dreamer dreaming — a wakened lucid dream — follow every desirous path of ecstasy and pleasure, all the way to transcendence.

I am the dreamer dreaming. I try and try to awaken from this dream, but the dreamer cannot awaken, for the dreamer is the dream, and ceases to be when awake.

In blissful silence the mind awakens, the dream ceases, and for that eternal moment, there is no dreamer.

There are no drugs nor gurus nor rituals that match such a state. It is a bliss of “breathing” and “thinking” in effortless harmony such that if there were still a dreamer, the dreamer would think, “this is right”.

Who is it that is Aware?

Who is Aware? by timwarnock

We often claim to be self aware. But who is the self that is aware? And what exactly is this self aware of?

Think of all that we do not see, the entirety of the electromagnetic spectrum, the microscopic life, the contouring space-time from gravity. Beyond the boundaries of the universe, beyond space and time, we have no awareness at all, but only mystified speculation — just imagine the infinitude of existence invisible to our perceptions. Our mind can know only what our mind can know; a near infinite potential in a potentially infinite cosmos.

Awareness is merely the function of the mind. It is as useful as color vision, and equally arbitrary in its mental mapping. Awareness is the razors edge of the perceiving mind, it cuts and abstracts memory and sensory input, creating concepts, creating "things" — "things" separate and divisible from other "things". Obviously this is a necessary function of a mind; imagine seeing an apple in a tree, perceiving it as a separate "thing" is quite helpful (especially if you’re hungry). But is it so separate? To a creature that eats only leaves, think how beautiful the individual leaves must appear, leaves that are the healthiest to eat might appear in brilliant tasty hues; to such a creature, the apple may appear no more interesting than the bark appears to us.

If you believe you are aware of the outside world, then consider that your perceptions exists only as a function of your mind, perception is just as much of a thought as the thought of "I", or the thought of duality that separates the "I" thought from the thought of "awareness".

All thoughts are movements of a mind that is fundamentally connected and inseparable from the universe that the mind attempts to perceive.

For this reason it is often said that self, or "I", is an illusion. But what does that mean? It is one thing to understand this in theory, and quite another to experience it directly in the totality of action. It means that this sentence, as you read and even hear a narrating voice, is in your head, reactions to sensory input combining with memories and learned skills; it is a beautiful flow state. All thoughts and emotions follow this same pattern, continuous reactions concocting sensory input with memories, temperament, and beliefs. The mind is an amazingly flexible mechanism to filter and concoct sensory input and memories, forming abstractions that serve as a custom representation of reality (which changes in each moment) — what a wondrous movement of energy!

What does it mean for a mind to be aware of the illusion of ego, of "I", the illusion of awareness itself? Can you be aware that “you” and “awareness” are illusionary? It is perhaps like a dream where you know you are dreaming, a lucid dream in an otherwise wakened state; with this understanding consciousness cannot be the same, how could it? How easy it becomes to let thoughts come and go, to think naturally and breath naturally.

The only thing you need to do, the only thing you can do, is to be aware that everything that is, is now; and that "you", and even your awareness, are illusions– and the truth, that which is beyond mere thoughts and speculation, is experienced. Truth is not a divisible thought– how could a thought capture what is beyond thought– instead truth is realized in the totality of actions of the non-dualistic mind. Ego thoughts may come and go, inversely as the bliss of being comes and goes. There is wisdom in realizing– deeply and profoundly, and not just intellectually– the nature of these illusions; and to think freely, a lightness and bliss in every breath.

Most of us feel the pressing need to learn the truth of our existence, yet we often ignore what is already known and knowable, sometimes preferring the cognitive dissonance of dogmatic ideologies to the rapturous awe and uncertainty of the universe — the very universe that we are part of and one with; including the illusionary "I am aware" thought.

The Library is Transcendental

The Library is Transcendental by timwarnock

The Library of Congress has over 34 million books (and over 150 million items) — meanwhile, I read maybe 50-60 books in a single year. In my lifetime I will read only a few thousand books. Even the most voracious readers, reading several books a day, will consume far less than one-tenth of one-percent of the books available at the Library of Congress.

This is over 800 miles of bookshelves.

For perspective: 10-feet of bookshelves will cover what you might read in your entire lifetime (assuming you live a long life) — that’s it, just ten paces through even a small local library.

Even the smartest among us, with superior memory and astonishing talents of speed reading, will cover 50 or 100 feet of bookshelves; that is far less than what is currently in stock at your local library.

But we don’t have to read every page, right? I know the story of Treasure Island but I never had time to read it. We may know of 100-times more books than we have actually read. But even then, we still haven’t left the local library. All the books you have ever heard of (and will ever hear of) is but a tiny fraction of the books available.

Think of all those stories you will never read; the echoes from our past, the tragic love stories, the historic lessons and the vast wisdom that guides humanity forward.

Think of all the stories you will never know exist. Think of the books that you and everyone around you have never heard of, stories loved by people elsewhere, whose lives were changed by reading those books. Think of the books that would change your life but you will never know they exist.

In each of these books people from different cultures and ages are speaking to you, and you can hear only a tiny fraction of the stories told.

Such tragic beauty, I want to hug a librarian.

The Universal Beauty of Mathematics

When I hear someone say, “I hate math” or “I’m bad at math“, I cringe slightly, and respond almost embarrassed, “I like math, it’s quite beautiful“.

I sometimes go on to defend my belief that there is no useful difference between art, math, and science — none. I’ve had this conversation many times with many people.

Is math beautiful?

Most people seem to agree in theory — and I hear (all too common) stories involving painful memories of math classes. As if the beauty in mathematics is out of their reach, perhaps only beautiful to some nerd minority.

I remember my own math classes when I was young, and I cringe again.

The teaching of Mathematics, a language to express the ineffable beauty of existence, is reduced in classrooms everywhere to a painful Pavlovian conditioning of forced computation.

Imagine for a moment, that instead of teaching children to read and write, that we instead forced them to copy (like little drawing machines) printed books but only one letter of the alphabet at a time. Never learning to read, just forcing them to copy all the A’s on page, and then to copy all the B’s, and so on.

So a young student begins with the letter A and painfully fills in A’s on a blank sheet of paper attempting to match them to the A’s they see in a printed book.

Teachers hold up answer sheets to make sure the young students copied all the A’s and copied them to all the right places on their practice page.

This is a very good copy of the A’s,” the teacher will say.

And then as they get older they copy more and more letters, A’s, B’s, C’s and onward. We do not tell them why they are doing this, we do not tell them that these letters have any relation to their spoken language. And whenever a student asks why they have to do this, we tell them, “because I said so“.

Eventually, years later, a student has copied all the way to Z and finally copies entire pages of printed books. This student can now graduate.

As this student graduates she expresses in angst, “I will never need to do this again, I hate letters“. And she is illiterate, and so is most of this imagined society that forces children to copy letters without ever telling them why.

But perhaps this student goes to college, and while in college she decides to learn more about these letters. She takes an advanced class in letter writing.

She wonders if there are more letters to write, maybe new letters that she has never seen before. She has heard that these letters contain beauty, but she cannot possibly understand how.

The class she takes is called “Letter Theory”, and the teacher begins by asking a simple question,

What is a letter?”

How absurd, the student thinks, obviously a letter is what she’s been copying her entire life!

The teacher goes on, “when we put these letters together they form words, like the ones I am speaking now

Shocked, the student exclaims, “certainly not all words are made of letters, there are so few letters and so many words that we speak

The teacher smiles and replies, “all words, all the ideas you have ever heard with your ears, every lecture, every song, all of it, can be expressed using combinations of letters

Years later, the student has learned about grammar, semantics, composition, literature, poetry — and now she finds beauty in the letters that she never understood before.

Letters are amazing, just as numbers are amazing.

Mathematics is the study of beauty, and it is expressed in numbers.

You need not be a great writer to understand and experience beautiful writing, and you need not be a professional scientist or engineer to understand and experience the beauty of numbers.

Imagine if only professional writers learned how to read, that is our current world concerning mathematics.

If you have never experienced the beauty of numbers, understand that your entire education has failed you, and you are mathematically illiterate. Most likely, you have learned only drilled computation, and perhaps touched upon Algebra or Calculus without any explanation of what you were actually doing and, most importantly, why.

If you believe you are bad at the computation that was drilled into you at a young age, you are not alone; if you believe you were good at those computational drills, you are wrong — all humans are bad at computation. All of us. Our greatest computational geniuses are slower and stupider than even the cheapest pocket calculator. We don’t hire humans to be computers, and we don’t hire humans to be printers — fortunately, we are not training humans to be printers, but we are training children to be computers (really slow error prone computers), and we are robbing them of mathematic literacy.

And if you are mathematically illiterate, you are also (necessarily) scientifically illiterate.

This failure to teach math results in widespread illiteracy, and an inability for many people to read and express the beauty of existence, a poetry in numbers that opens our eyes to the infinite beauty of life.

When we stare at the stars and express their beauty in words, we have religious mythologies — and when we stare at the stars and express their beauty in numbers, we have a scientific revolution. For tens of thousands of years humans have had scientifically illiterate explanations for the stars (pinholes in a celestial blanket), but with the language of mathematics those stars became far grander and far more beautiful than anything we could possibly have imagined.

It is in that moment where science, math, and art converge into a unified inquiry — the study of existence, the study of infinite beauty.

Moment-to-Moment

Moment-to-Moment by timwarnock

Can we shift our consciousness such that thinking occurs through moment-to-moment awareness of the world rather than through a remembered self?

A remembered self is a narrative, it is any of the stories the mind constructs about who we are, what we ought to be doing, how important we are, etc.

And yet memories are malleable and function only by association, that is, they are triggered by either thinking or by sensory contact. You can shape your memories as easily as you change your clothes.

Everything in memory can be (and is) arbitrarily framed and filtered to the mood, temperament, and conditioning of the mind. The continuous flow of thoughts from memory are concocted and evoke conditioned reactions such as judgments, moral intuition, etc. These judgments are independent from reality and depend only on the concocted perception.

No wonder we spend so much time with anxieties, regret, and divisive beliefs grounded in nothing but perceptions (be it racism, politics, or religious differences).

This is not a defensible position for any thinking or decision making strategy.

Understand, memory is memory, it is flawed and episodic; reasoning from memory is an error prone approach to thinking.

In the biases of a remembered self, we lose much, and gain only needless suffering.

We suffer when the mind is not fully engaged in the moment; when a remembered self is striving to engage, to “be present”, it cannot, it suffers; when the remembered self is striving to happiness, it suffers, it suffers because memories and thoughts can never engage in the unknown, they can never experience bliss.

Rather than thinking from a remembered self, we can think from awareness of the world as it exists; i.e., we can think from the experience of what is actually happening, the experiencing self.

The experiencing self perceives the immediacy of what is happening, right now.

Our mind automatically seeks coherence and consistency in its thinking, hence with awareness of the world as it actually exists the more likely that coherence seeking thinking will model the actual world; at best awareness leads to sustainable bliss in each moment, at worst it produces more intelligent decision making and more effective strategies towards any perceived goal or desire.

This can serve as the basis of actual science, actual art, actual learning, actual creativity, actual everything! Thinking solely from the experiencing self ceases the silly suffering of the remembered self.

We spend much time on these two selves. Truth is, there are not two selves, there is only a single process of thought.

Is it possible to think differently and free ourselves from the silly attachments to a remembered self?

In other words, if your mind can think differently, to cease the concoction of memories that lead to suffering, and instead engage fully into life with blissful awareness, then why not do it?

Can you discover life anew in each moment?

Can you discover yourself continuously as you discover the world around you?

This actual world, free of the delusions of a remembered self, abounds in such infinite opportunity that bliss is a natural and wonderful reaction to the world as it truly exists.

Wisdom of Blissful Awareness

Wisdom of Blissful Awareness by timwarnock

Suffering arises in the mind through perceptions and judgments of the world, in particular when those perceptions conflict with the world as it truly exists. A surprising amount of human thoughts follow this pattern of suffering; how we think we should be treated versus how we’re actually treated, or how others should be treated, how the world should be, and so on.

In other words, suffering requires the clouding of our awareness to reality; a division, created in our mind. These divisions become conflicts of expectation, ideology, and all the usual moral, political or aesthetic value judgments.

It is the very function of the rational mind to divide, to be dualistic, and this process is extremely useful in technical and mechanistic actions (such as writing, driving, playing a piano, etc).

But is this rational process useful outside of mechanistic actions?

To answer this, let’s put the question differently: can wisdom exist when the mind reacts to ideology and belief, at the expense of being aware of the world as it is now?

Wisdom can exist only in actions, not in theories, actions not born of thought, but action born of awareness of the here and now, such that rational thought becomes a filter onto action (and not the cause of action).

There is no value, none, to being governed by moral, political, or aesthetic values. These attitudes which dull the mind and inhibit wisdom can be discarded entirely. What wisdom is it otherwise? Wisdom is not born of a dull insensitive mind that unconsciously reacts to conditioned ideologies and beliefs.

See the world as it is, holistic and free, beautifully independent of every judgment and opinion.

And rather than have occasional moments of clarity and bliss, can we sustain this from moment-to-moment?

Perceptions happen naturally, and between perception and reality there is often desire. Desire to cease being the reality and become the perception. This is, more or less, the cause of suffering, despising the world as you see it (often unintentionally) and comparing it to the world as you believe it should be — and more importantly, this desire can also be the key to the cessation of suffering and the experience of endless bliss. In other words, within the cause of suffering is also the solution.

Transform the desirous energy that usually leads to suffering into awareness of the here and now.

In this awareness, the energy of desire is transformed, and rather than increasing our dissatisfaction, it can destroy the very cause of our dissatisfaction.

Simply put, with awareness of the world as it truly exists, suffering ceases. And interestingly enough, bliss emerges, choicelessly, when the mind is so aware.

The experience of bliss that arises from desire expands the mind, more and more, so that we overcome all self-imposed limitations. Our mind reacting to the here and now is not the same as it was reacting to opinion and belief, it is a truly free mind.

If the mind is to be alive, flourishing in wisdom, not dull and mechanistic, then you absolutely must understand and do what you love (that which excites and arouses you most); and do so with the fiery awareness of what is, and not the clouded smoke of what should be.

Every moment is an opportunity to feel awe.

Live with such profound blissful awareness that there is not a moment to spare for the sufferings of ego.

All Things as They Are

Life is; I believe; fundamentally, simple.

All things are exactly as they are; unchanging in this moment, and continuously changing in the next moments. Everything in this moment is the culmination and product of all that came before. Change in the next moment is inevitable.

Have you watched your desires as they change from moment-to-moment? Can you capture a desire and follow it from moment-to-moment? Try it.

A simple experiment: Think of what you desire most; the craving which you have been spending most of your time thinking about recently. Whatever it may be, material or intangible. As it’s been in your thoughts it likely has a name, if not, give this desire a name.

Perhaps this desire fits to some ideal for yourself, perhaps it makes you a smarter or more interesting person, or produces happiness or contented freedom. Maybe it’s a desire for world peace, or maybe for a new car — whatever this desire is, look at it openly without any judgment. Imagine how it looks and how it feels.

Now look around. Right in front of your face, see the world in this moment, now. See how this world is absent the desire you just named; if you wished for a new car, see that it is not there — if you desired peace, see the violence in yourself and all around you — see all things around you that produced this desire. See the unchanging reality of this exact moment. Without judging or naming just simply observe this moment exactly as it is.

Your desire may seem separate from this world– Yet is it separate?

Is not this desire part of this world in this moment? Is this desire yours to possess, or is it just a reaction, as a hungry man craves food?

This desire, born of thought, is fundamentally connected with the world as it is. In fact, is there any difference between the ‘you’ who is desiring, and the thing desired? Are these not both the same thought (the ‘you’ desiring and the ‘thing’ desired)?

This thought, this desire, is the very reaction to the world as it actually exists.

Can you be fully aware of the world as it exists, such that desires are seen in their rightful context?

Aware of what you are doing, aware of the movement of life in each breath– What happens?

Gratitude and bliss, loving kindness to all things seems to be the emergent reaction when a mind is fully aware of what it is doing. But forget I said that, find out for yourself what happens.

To really be so aware (not just in theory but to do so actually), you cannot suppress judgment or violence or ideology, just simply let it be and see past it, see the mental concoctions that produce those actions and thoughts — aware, simply aware, and see what happens.

With such awareness, aware of things as they actually are, we are free to live without any constraints of ideology or thoughtless-desire. You are doing what you are doing, exactly as you do it — where you go is the reaction of now, be aware; mindfully aware; and see the actions flow from the insight of awareness, not the limits and anxieties of impermanent desire and ideology.

And now without all the imagined complexities of life, when one is free to see things as they are, beyond the limits of ideologies and beliefs– then in that moment, life is truly and fundamentally simple.