• Category Archives Literature
  • Tom Waits

    2015 Artist of the year.

    Tom Waits

    Tom Waits

    My interest in music rarely comes through simply listening to an artist and buying their album, instead I participate in an organic process of familiarising myself with a personality. Tom Waits is an atypical celebrity, which is to say somebody without the celebrity ego. He conveys a high level of empathy and belief that to others may seem eccentric.


  • The Matrix Realised

    What follows are some realisations I achieved through a recent viewing of The Matrix (1999). I also highlight some interesting parallels between this movie and the world of Tron.

    Don’t think you are know you are: our knowledge comes from the mind. A mind born in our consciousness; the same space that occupies our concerns, sadness, joy and emotions. Within this space comes our inner chatter, our thoughts. “Am I saying the right things” “What do others think of me” “Am I attractive?” These are things we may think about, they come from the same place as the one Morpheus suggests when saying to Neo, “Don’t think you are, know you are”. So the latter “know you are” part of the dialog belongs to true self, that which is beyond the story of you, beyond the self to the inner-self. It is outside our thinking mind.

    Neo and Smith: Mr T Anderson born in the matrix and Agent Smith a sentient program within the matrix, are opposites. Neo is a prisoner of the Matrix and Agent Smith is a prisoner of reality, Smith is an entity bound to a single real construct designed by the machines. Neo breaks free of Mr Anderson’s reality The Matrix and Agent Smith tries to escape his prison of the machine running the matrix – he wishes only to infect the wider machine network and consequently the entire physical and simulated reality, to change it to his version of perfection.

    Its all about not knowing who you are, but being who you are.

    This serves as a lesson for the difference between knowing who you are and being who you are, as Morpheus himself puts it: “sooner or later you are going to realise… there is a difference knowing the path and walking the path”.

    Interconnection with Tron Legacy: An apparent analogy can be found in Tron Legacy. Kevin Flynn (The Creator – and also The Dude) is a human born in his reality the same as Agent Smith was created in his. Flynn then created his vision (at the time of Tron Legacy) of perfection and named it The Grid to which he later became prisoner. So by inference Kevin Flynn is similar to Agent Smith but was born rationale.

    In the same way the Master Control Program (MCP) relates closely to The Architect of the matrix. The MCP is the operating system or interface for the physical processing system of the machine, The Architect of the matrix is the program for the machine mainframe.

    The creators of the Matrix claim the look was inspired by the Korean language credits at the end of the movie Tron. – The Matrix Code wikia.


  • Dream Reality

    We all dream but nobody really talks about their dreams, do they?

    We dream every night for hours, the dreams themselves consist of moments, hours or even lifetimes. Yet we remember them as false memories; blurred and difficult to recollect, something clearly separate from our reality.

    The taunting paradox is that we experience dreams, we perceive them through experience, but deny they are an experience rooted to a specific reality. What if they were the same thing?

    What comes first, the perception of reality we experience, or the act of experiencing this reality? Both equally coexist as true and false. Perception is equally biochemical and neurological in nature; our ability to remember comes from experience that in itself is based around perception. This logic produces the same outcome to both dreams and reality.

     

     


  • My Way

    There is no teacher who can teach anything new, he can just help us to remember the things we always knew” –
    Michael Cretu: Engima – Odyssey of The Mind

     

    My journey into the spiritual, the metaphysical, the awareness of Buddhism, of philosophy, and my interests in the ways of Zen, is a unique one. In a way these things have always been with me, but as my understanding grows I can now identify these things that have always been present in my life. By identifying them I mean I can now put names to the things that have always been with me, however I never really held much stock for the name of a thing.

    My earliest and retrospectively my most fundamental discovery of meditation, of observing ones thoughts from a higher consciousness, started when I was five. Understand that it is difficult to describe this awareness without diminishing the essence of what I experienced. I have always felt selflessness. Even as a young boy I felt there was something inside of me that is bigger than me, connected to everything.

    In a way I feel there have always been two parts of me, or perhaps to put it more succinctly, I have always believed there have been two of me. The outer me, that which bears my personality, and the inner me, that which is beyond perception. The inner me resembles a still empty space, not dormant but attentive, a passive watchfulness.

    Like many people of today whose parents have divorced, I experienced unhappy times in my younger days, surrounded by confusion and grief. As a five year old I remember going to bed and simply crying for attention, I would stay awake for hours listening to the fighting downstairs. One particular night I became entirely exhausted through upset and sadness, and after a time I quieted. I withdrew completely into the darkness of my bed. Instead of seeking attention I decided to try and make myself disappear, to close myself off completely from everyone and everything. I remember fantasising about dying and that if I remain completely still and slowed my breathing I would eventually fade away. So I decided to focus all my attention, my vision, my thoughts, on a single point on my Care Bear wallpaper. Not looking at the wallpaper but looking into the wallpaper, not moving my gaze to any other point. Slowly and with practice I found that by staring at a single point for long enough everything would go dark, all sight was lost to darkness, this void was not that associated with sleep but that of a waking darkness, eyes open and alert.

    Over time I explored this new sensation by focusing on different objects, a lamp, the ceiling, and found that each time I did so my feelings, whatever emotion I brought with me would be lost. I had found something amazing, a secret sanctuary known only to me, a space I could go to anytime I wanted. By focusing long enough I would enter a space where all conflict, unhappiness, people and life’s problems were no longer there, they existed outside this place, and as I grew older I realised they don’t exists at all. My five year old self believed I was floating in space, observing thoughts like distant stars.

    I remember on several occasions this experience became too intense, all senses would become hypersensitive, every sound became amplified, time seemingly slowed down to the point where I could hear everything, my breathing would become a loud rhythmic beat and I could almost sense myself floating above me – a peripheral vision or feeling above my body. And as a five year old this experience was frightening, something I tried to explain to my mother but was unable to describe it.

    The Zen Mind is the beginner’s mind, 
    which sees everything as if for the first time
    Daniel Levin – The Zen Book (2005: inlay)

     

    Now being 31 I am able to recognise this story as one of meditation, of finding the present moment. I regard these early accounts as something truly profound because at the age of 5 I was unable to recognise these very acts as ones of meditation, of mindfulness, to me these things had no names, no actions or correct practices, they were totally natural. To my 5 year old self it was a secret I used to escape my emotions. At the time I certainly had read no books on the subject nor was I influenced by media or other people. And so I stumbled upon a practice that was pure without even being aware of such a thing – and to me this is something as adults we spend our lives trying to achieve. When we are older it is difficult to perceive without the interference of concept, we are constantly driven to name things, to think about things we see instead of simply seeing them, of simply being present.

    That is how my journey started, but maybe it would be more accurate to say that at the age of 5 I re-joined my path to awareness, my path to knowing who I am. This practice is not something that can be learned, this practice is something we already know, it can only be experienced, and by doing so we remember that which we always knew, a bit like life really.

    A note on the opening paragraph:

    In the opening paragraph I described my experience as a journey into the spiritual and philosophical realm, I mentioned my belief in Buddhism and Zen, but to now end this discussion I would say this. These established arts, these beliefs and interests are useless, they are irrelevant. Simply put they are all based on memory, they are learned but not in the true sense. One can study Zen, one can be learned in the many teachings of Buddha, but these are static, they are memorised and recalled at will, but learning is always in motion, and my approach is to experience these things, spirituality, Zen, and then forget them, to look at them without knowing, to experience them from a fresh naive perspective always. Jiddu Krishnamurti discusses this most succinctly in his opening to The Limitations In Our Mind.

    Profound Related Links / Posts:

    Conversations on Compassion with Eckhart Tolle
    How do we break the habit of excessive thinking?
    Krishnamurti – How Does One Learn About Oneself ?
    Jiddu Krishnamurti – The Limitations In Our Mind.

  • Ain’t Nothing but a Thing!

    Today’s: Mind Nugget.

    We fear that which we do not understand. Today I was afraid of performing an Oracle database process, my fear stayed with me up until the precise moment it didn’t. And this is not dissimilar to life really.

    The process itself was straightforward, yet I was afraid because it was unknown to me, something I had not encountered before. I feared everything before that process and the possibilities of everything after it. The moment I executed the process my fear was gone, cleared from the deep murmurings of the mind.  A fitting analogy then for how we experience life, the importance of truly being aware of the present moment. We are not present in the past nor can we experience the future, so why the fear?

    J.K Rowling’s Hermione had it right. “Fear of a name only increases fear of the thing itself.

    Why fear the future or worry about the past, we exist in neither plain.

    Live now.

    Love now.

    Fear not the past, it cannot be changed.

    Fear not the future. It hasn’t happened.

    And certainly don’t fear the present, by the time you do that moment will have passed.


  • Mind-fullness

    Mind-fullness

    mind the gap!

    What follows is an account of the value of mindfulness.

    It is the nature of a busy mind to become lost in thought. Of course there are warnings along the way. Life has a way of reminding us that we have gone astray from ourselves, but these go unnoticed as we wander blindly through life.

    After a very stressful day at work I eventually got home and made myself a bath, something intended to help me relax, help me tune down and find my neutral space. As a lay in the hot water I began to contemplate.

    the drive to work, how I had spent the entire day with wet feet, the resulting smell of my shoes and worrying about what people might think, the report that wasn’t processed properly, was it my fault, did I do something wrong….I am still quite new to the company, would they consider firing me….? I really don’t fit in very well, I try to be smart but this does not feel right to me,…oh my shoes really smelled bad today,….are they monitoring my performance…oh I hope I am meeting my targets, I have come so far and would be lost without my flat…

    But instead of being in a relaxed state I found my thoughts racing, I wasn’t unwinding, I was deeply lost in thought, watching them race by as I lay trying keep up. Thoughts endlessly tangled like brambles confined between the walls of my mind, each mini-thought leading me down a path of new useless avenues. Without truly being aware, the bath had turned cold. 45 minutes had passed by and I achieved nothing. Sure my body was clean, my muscles relaxed, but my mind, my sense of self, still stressed and work focused. My thoughts were entirely focused on the past, the future, but blissfully unaware of the present moment.

    Then as if waking to my senses for the first time I stood back from thinking, the thoughts were there but now I simply began watching them pass by, choosing not to entertain them. Only then did I register the bath’s temperature, only then did I begin to relax.

    The lesson learned here [the realisation was] is I too easily get lost in thought. The true value of this awareness comes precisely at the moment when one stops following the tangle of thoughts. The fascinating paradox here is that one cannot think about not thinking, it’s a state of mind achieved only in practice.

    — Related Posts: —

    I am Nothing


  • Society and Human Consciousness

    Society and Human Consciousness by Jiddu Krishnamurti

    [The relationship between conditioned minds]

     

    I have long been gripped by a particular piece of audio used in the opening few minutes of Trance-Formation by Max Igan and for a long while I was unaware to whom it belonged to, however after digging deep I discovered they are the words of Jiddu Krishnamurti – a philosopher, a spiritual speaker, and a reluctant messiah. The following entry is an interpretation of Krishnamurti’s words and an earlier piece of writing on the same subject, the two pieces are wonderfully complimentary of Society as a System, and The System as an analogy of Society.

    We have created this society…

    An immoral destructive civilised society to which we are responsible.

    We have surrendered our fundamental selves to the building of a system that ultimately recognises a society not of individuals but of personalities, of ranks and status.

    We are trapped by this society, this system of apathy and suffering. We are conditioned (which is to say that we have inherited a conditioning) to which we no longer think outside of ourselves, our needs and wants, we cannot see beyond society and its influences.

    Some have fought against this conditioning.

    People have tried to cause change. Groups, sects, cells, whatever they have identified themselves as, they have formed together to cause change.

    Change in politics, change in government, change in territory or in wealth and power.

    To change society…

    But society is the relationship between people. And that is the problem, that is the crisis…

    It is not a political crisis, or economic crisis, or a crisis of war…the crisis is with ourselves, it is an internal crisis.

    The great struggle is not between nations but between individuals and themselves, their perceived selves, their I. We cannot change society but we can change our conditioned minds, each of us.

     

    The only way to change the System / Society is simply by becoming fundamentally aware of ourselves, by understanding ourselves, by weakening our conciousness beyond the thinking mind – and this follows nicely onto a previous post: I Am Nothing, which describes the journey of this awakening, and was inspired by another spiritual speaker, author and teacher Eckhart Tolle.

    The following is the opening words to one of Krishnamurti’s lessons, of which are the inspiration to the above writings and mentioned content.

     

    The System

    The System.

    There is no beating it.

    It will continue to be long after we are gone.

    But we can stand outside it.

    We can choose to see it, and by seeing it we can withdraw from it, learn not to be influenced by it, and with help we can separate ourselves from it.

    But time’s hidden hand comes into play when we least expect it, this vision becomes weakened as life gets in the way, and slowly we become integrated into the thing we have long protested.

    To many this process is transparent, and to many it appears as something positive, something to aspire to.

    Often it is wrapped in false progression, a promotion at work or the promise of more money, more responsibility, and in time we become an advocate of the system.

    Some are so hopelessly blinded by it that they actually believe they are doing good, but in the same breath manipulate and recruit others into forgetting their own values.

    Status becomes the poisoned apple of choice – and they soon become entirely lost.

    However there are those who remain resilient, often rejected poorly paid and with personality disorders, they may be among the homeless, the depressed, or the drug dependants, but they have withstood the system.

    You see none of us are born into the system.

    We are not imprisoned by the system, we walk into it with smiles and open doors, we build our own bars and gladly throw away the keys.

     

    Future Writings:

    It is becoming apparent that my journey into Beyond The Thinking Mind, Zen, and many of my spiritual wanderings and philosophical questions are all connected, and indeed at the heart of all is human nature, the mind and I. And so many of these posts will start to form a connected web featuring references from and links to other existing posts.

    Jiddu Krishnamurti


  • I am nothing

    If I talk to myself, who is talking to who. I have split my mind into two me’s. But wait, look it this saying again “I have split my mind into two me’s” – well this creates three entities – the two me’s and the I that split them. It is this I that we can never “know”, it is this I that we truly are. This I is not something, some object or version of me, it is nothing, – or better put it is no thing. It is not my name, nor my personality, these are simply more splits, more externalisations – more interpretations of the true I.

    I am not a name, I am not my person, as my person changes, it grows old, its cells are ever changing and it, the body, is not permanent. Yesterday, tomorrow, later, as I type this, these moments have passed or are yet to come, but they not a part of who I am, they do not belong to my now, to I.

    The events, jobs, possessions, do not make up who I am. My nationality, age, parents, are not part of who I am, they are what I perceive them to be, what I see them as in my mind. I see my couch, but it does not belong to me, my lounge is littered with furniture and shelves and these occupy my living space but they are not in my inner space, they share no connection.

    I watch my thoughts pass by but I do not belong to them, I stand back away from them in a stillness, I let them go by without following them, they are not I…. Understand that I do not need to let them go, because I was never holding onto them.

    Spirituality and Happiness – teachings by Eckhart Tolle

    The above interpretation was inspired by a teaching from Eckhart Tolle, click here. Eckhart Tolle is a learned spiritual teacher of Beyond The Thinking Mind and many other Zen and wider spiritual teachings, he is also a gifted public speaker and offers many talks, lessons and guided meditations – his online site can be found here.

    Advice for those who would follow:

    Of course we can read the many self-help books, the many excellent literary works on Zen, spirituality, the many Buddhist teachers, journals on Thought, guided meditation texts, however at a primary level these have already lost their essence through their inevitable transformation into text (the core data, the true lesson, has been converted into information – a book). Books adhere to a format – chapters, titles, structure, language and vocabulary – in my experience it is best to first listen to a teaching, cast away all preconceived notions of structure and simply have dialog with a teacher. There is nothing wrong with reading but the written word lacks the organic spontaneity of speech, the immediate awareness of dialog, the connection.

    Applying awareness to life

    Having been introduced to a new (or very old) way of thinking, a way of finding that attentive stillness, stepping into that spatial calmness, what then would happen if we apply this knowledge to the scenario mentioned previously in On Speaking and Listening? If as children we were guided down this path, would we then have the ability to truly listen, to speak truly? How would this affect our Western culture, our ingrained way of life?

    Whats next?

    The concept of I, oneness, is something fundamental to Zen Buddhism, here we have had an introduction, a window into finding that inner space, but I am to explore further – and exploring is exactly how we [ I ] perceive these lessons, its an exploration of the spaces behind thought, behind the busy mind, beyond the this and that. I look forward to publishing more soon.


  • On speaking and listening

    “The louder a man shout’s, the more profoundly he’s wrong” (Gallagher 2009)

    One early evening, around 5.30pm, I caught a bus from Northampton town centre, a routine commute after work, travelling back to my home town Kettering. It was a slow journey and I was in a particularly stilled frame of mind, senses keen and thoughts clear. I decided to listen in to the conversations of my fellow passengers. It dawned on me that many of us, given the correct social setting, will talk and talk and talk, without communicating a single interesting idea, without contributing anything of substance to the discussion. Why is it that we to0 often invest such energy into talking but fail so triumphantly at not actually saying anything of consequence.

    The art of storytelling, of truly connecting to a person through speech has been lost. Television, smart phones, social media, and cultural shifts at large have made the once tribal celebration of speech, the art of talking, unnecessary. We now communicate feelings more aptly through abbreviated digital messages than we do through talking. Spiritually connected to the wafer-thin glass-fronted box of lights than we are with each other.

    And if we have lost the art of talking, how then does this affect our ability to listen?

    Like those on the bus, often our egocentric nature relentlessly drives us to have our say. Our inability to sit back and absorb a conversation results in nothing more than driving a conversation into a debate, a verbal abyss where no wisdom is conveyed nor any connection made. Now this may be expected on a cramped bus, already swamped with the noise of traffic and commuters, but let’s now take this example and place it in a care setting, or among the elderly, or in a therapeutic environment where listening is fundamental to all those involved.

    In a care-home environment, often the only pleasure for its residents is to be listened to – the opportunity to tell a story and rejoice in having somebody kind enough to listen, to share in their experience. Empathy cannot be achieved without being able to listen, and in the fields of psychotherapy this is essential, it is primal and it is something modern man has forgotten. When working with Kettering MIND the following exert was given to me on the instruction that I read it before beginning my training in the skills of listening:

    To hear, one must be silent, says a wise man to his apprentice in a fantasy novel. The silence extends to calmness, as far as possible in the physical setting, but in any case within the listener. Yet the silence is far from passive: active listening, albeit watching, thoughtful monitoring of oneself – all go to make up the skills of listening, enabling us the better to hear what the speaker is really saying. Only then dare the helper presume to speak.” (Jacobs, 1985)

    At the end of a particularly riveting lecture on Business Information Systems I, having remained silent throughout the discussion, I was asked my opinion on the subject. More to satisfy my tutor’s curiosity than contribute, I spoke my mind. Just before I left the lecture hall my tutor pulled me aside and said this: I talk little but what I say is profound. This has stayed with me over the years, and has confirmed the importance of active silence, of truly listening.

    Like a virus, this slow decay of our ability to talk and listen may affect our other senses, a slow death of the instincts transforming us into slaves of our own advances.

    We live busy stressful lives, always connected and available on-demand, indeed actor and comedian George Carlin one described modern man as “a high-tech low life”, “a top gun bottom feeder” “a raging workaholic, and a working rageaholic” – spoken with true wisdom during his his 2005 stand-up, Life is worth Losing

    During a 6 mile walk through rich fragrant blossom filled streets my senses were on overdrive, I stopped at nearly every tree, every flower, and simply breathed the air, filling my very soul with sunshine. I realised then that smell is potentially another endangered sense – think about it – when was the last time you walked down the street and simply smelled? When did you last smell a flower, when was the last time you acknowledged the freshness early morning rain or the sweetness of blossom, the earthy smell of fresh tilled soil?

    This deprivation of sense may be seen to effect memory – and with dementia on the increase in the over 60s are all these things contributing factors? Are we really that disconnected to our instinctual primal abilities – are we dead on the inside?

    [recommended reading: The Alchemy of Voice by Stewart Pearce: yes it’s a form of self-help book but I discovered this great read during my studies in 2004, its informative writings on the origins of speech and its use in modern times was enlightening, and complimentary when looking into the art of listening – how often do we listen to ourselves (listen to how we speak not just what we say)?

    —[more on this to come]—

    * Gallagher, B: The Prisoner: 2009, AMC and ITV television miniseries.

    * Jackons, M, 1985

     


  • Is Hell exothermic or endothermic

    What follows is an inspirational example of lateral (outside-the-box) thinking to an otherwise ordinary scenario, this writing has followed me since my university days, unfortunately, like much of the porn at the time, the source of this is unknown as it came from our student intranet which subsequently was plucked from the internet.

    The following is supposedly an actual question given on a University of Washington chemistry mid-term. The answer by one student was so “profound” that the professor shared it with colleagues, via the Internet, which is, of course, why we now have the pleasure of enjoying it as well.

    Bonus Question: Is Hell exothermic (gives off heat) or endothermic (absorbs heat)?

    Most of the students wrote proofs of their beliefs using Boyle’s Law (gas cools when it expands and heats when it is compressed) or some variant.

    One student, however, wrote the following:

    First, we need to know how the mass of Hell is changing in time. So we need to know the rate at which souls are moving into Hell and the rate at which they are leaving. I think that we can safely assume that once a soul gets to Hell, it will not leave. Therefore, no souls are leaving.

    As for how many souls are entering Hell, let’s look at the different Religions that exist in the world today. Most of these religions state that if you are not a member of their religion, you will go to Hell. Since there is more than one of these religions and since people do not belong to more than one religion, we can project that all souls go to Hell.
    With birth and death rates as they are, we can expect the number of souls in Hell to increase exponentially.

    Now, we look at the rate of change of the volume in Hell because Boyle’s Law states that in order for the temperature and pressure in Hell to stay the same, the volume of Hell has to expand proportionately as souls are added.

    This gives two possibilities:

    1. If Hell is expanding at a slower rate than the rate at which souls enter Hell, then the temperature and pressure in Hell will increase until all Hell breaks loose.

    2. If Hell is expanding at a rate faster than the increase of souls in Hell, then the temperature and pressure will drop until Hell freezes over.

    So which is it?

    If we accept the postulate given to me by Teresa during my Freshman year that, “it will be a cold day in Hell before I sleep with you, and take into account the fact that I slept with her last night,
    then number 2 must be true, and thus I am sure that Hell is exothermic and has already frozen over. The corollary of this theory is that since Hell has frozen over, it follows that it is not accepting any more souls and is therefore, extinct…leaving only Heaven thereby proving the existence of a divine being which explains why, last night, Teresa kept shouting “Oh my God.”

    THIS STUDENT RECEIVED THE ONLY “A”