The idea that scares me the most

When I was a kid I remember my grandmother looking around at the affluence, yet dissatisfaction in society saying that people had lost touch with reality and needed to experience what war was like. In the 1940s she’d been a refuge in England with two small kids.

At the time, I got her point but didn’t realize the implications of what she was saying. As I grow older I realize that, sadly, most people only feel really alive when tragedy strikes, when death looms around the corner, and appreciative when we’ve either lost everything or close to loosing everything. We all know the stories; a man diagnosed with cancer realizes how fortunate he is to be alive etc etc.

Take the Stockholm terrorist attacks for instance when a truck careened down a busy, pedestrian shopping street killing dozens of people. Despite the terrible event, reports came in with how transformed people were by it. People drove perfect strangers to their destinations, opening doors to offer a warm meal to those stranded in a commute etc. Peoples warmth, empathy was reported as if it was an anomaly in what’s typically a busy, anonymous, self-aware and cosmopolitan city. One person even said that “I wish we were like this always”. Another said “Finally we look up from ourselves and see each-other”.

What scares me the most therefore is the idea that the closest to true happiness most people ever experience is associated with tragedy. The reason it’s scary is that people might even therefore subconsciously welcome tragedy and drama on all scales, personal as well as national, or global – as some form of twisted purge by which they will feel truly alive.

We all know people who create drama to distract themselves from what would be a utterly meaningless and frightening existence. We seek out drama, we hurt, we tear down, we start conflict and wars because it’s the only way we know how to feel grateful, alive and ultimately rapturous.

What I think most enlightened beings on this earth, Jesus, Buddha as well as Muhammed, tried to teach humanity was that there’s another way to joy, peace and happiness that doesn’t involve pain, misery and tragedy – “hacking” joy (if so will), peace and happiness before tragedy either strike, or we subconsciously invite it.

That’s the idea that scares me the most that it might actually be true.

What spiritual science is

Spiritual science is the act of testing out attitudes towards life to subjectively verify if there’s something to them or not. (i.e. if they have the stated results and personal benefits i.e. bring peace, prosperity and happiness). If they don’t, you discard them, if it they do – and they’re repeatable – you call it a rule that pertains to your own psychological make-up.

Prayer is one such example. People say it works – there’s your hypothesis. Try it out.

Now, that doesn’t mean any goof-ball knows how to conduct a spiritually scientific experiment as we’re talking subjectivity and imagination, not objectivity and cold hard facts. How do we tell if a prayer is recited the same way, with the same intensity, heartfelt and imagination? How do we tell if we meditate in the same way? Very tricky. That’s why it is ultimately an individual journey full of trials and errors, but one certainly worth the effort.

One simple way of engaging in spiritual science is to try finding out what thoughts make you feel really great, empowered and joyous. Maybe no thoughts at all? Keep notes as your day progresses. Do same with when you feel depressed. What conclusions can you make?

Try to replicate these thoughts and feelings, and see if you can induce a mental state. There you go. You’ve got spiritual science. You’ve just found a way to impact your spirit. That which animates you. Your energy, purpose and meaning.

As you do, you slowly change your neurophysiology to support the habit of good, wholesome, life-affirming thoughts and feelings, changing the entire pharmacology of signal substances and neurotransmitters your body is used to.

Spiritual science is how we change our attitude, and when our attitude changes – our life changes.

How to make art without ego

To find out how to make art without ego, I’d look at what one of my fav’s have to say about what I have come to understand is the essence of the act of creation in any endeavour.

“If I was asked to get rid of the Zen aesthetic and just keep one quality necessary to create art, I would say it’s trust. When you learn to trust yourself implicitly, you no longer need to prove something through your art. You simply allow it to come out, to be as it is. This is when creating art becomes effortless. It happens just as you grow your hair. It grows.” JOHN DAIDO LOORI

“Where the original expression was purely creative, editing is at once creative and critical. By cutting away the extra, we get closer to the essence of what we intended to convey.” JOHN DAIDO LOORI

That’s pretty much it. Took me 40 years and a phd to even remotely comprehend what he’s talking about – in more than an intellectual sense.

How to find meaning without purpose

Happiness without purpose is called play. Kids are great at being happy without a purpose. Drawings, clay figures and whatever they build in LEGO has no real purpose, they don’t seem to mind at all though.

Whenever I feel that my life has no purpose, I know that I’ve somehow abandoned play, and rather than doing things for the intrinsic joy, I do them for other reasons, the musts, shoulds and what if’s. Those things need a purpose, play doesn’t.

When nothing brings us joy we’ve most of times lost touch with the kid inside that just wants to play, it’s as simple as that.

For me, an easy way to play is to sit down and have a conversation with a person, to listen, speak and never know what I will say next. A lot of purposelessness we experience is just loneliness. Especially if you are a extrovert, social person and not that good at playing alone.

There are plenty other ways I play, but the trick is to find ones own and just go for it. Find what you have denied yourself for so long and let the kid out.

How religion can change the world

If you think that violence between indignated, frightened and confused males will ever end once religion disappears, think again. Where I live they bash each-others heads in after football games for not wearing the same color T-shirt.

Anyone in pain, not knowing what to do with it will unfortunately inflict it on someone else in an attempt to find peace. It’s either that or beating themselves to death, which, unfortunately, comes as a last option after realising that doing it to someone else doesn’t stop the pain.

Religion is nothing more than a conscious and heroic journey inwards to try to stop pain before someone else gets hurt. Be it loved ones, kids, parents or fellow humans.

That this journey, described as parable throughout the world in form of the Quoran, Bible and in Taoism and Sufism – what have you – is at times ‘hijacked’ by those who want to seperate and destroy should come as no surprise. It just shows the capacity of humans to misunderstand, especially art and metaphor, and twist something virtuous, beautiful and ultimately good into something desperate, vile and repulsive.

What we need therefore is not to get rid of religion, but get rid of people feeling abandoned and unimportant. Because when they do, there is no telling what guise their pain will take – be it religious fundamentalism or football hooliganism.

The way forward is to unite under the epic journey we are all on within an evolving universe, drifting together with giraffes, tax-accountants and molluscs on a rock in empty space. The way forward is to celebrate what science proves and what enlightened beings always have said – that we quite literally are ‘all one’.

The problem is however that facts aren’t real until they are felt. Here Art has a responsibility to make us feel science by vividly portraying where we have been, where we are and most importantly where we want to be.

The way religiosity changes the world therefore is by religiously reminding ourselves every Sunday, at supper, before bedtime, or six times a day – what have you – about the new “story” of who we are and who we want to be. A story that need to be contemplated, shared, and celebrated for it to have a transformative effect on the individual and society.

This story needs to help us abandon old taboo’s and form new ones. Taboo’s against everything we want to put behind us.

The biggest challenge we are facing being global warming, pollution and the destruction of the seas. That would be a good place for science, art and religion to start.

We all scientifically know that the earth is dying. It’s just that facts aren’t real until they are felt. And if we don’t out the art-pedal to the metal, it might be at our peril.

What science says about God

Science says many things about God. God being everything, science measures, ways, tests and talk about everything all the time – actually has it as its chief concern.

Science says that everything is a form of evolutionary process in which we find certain patterns of increased complexity and sophistication. There used to be Helium floating in empty space, then slugs, algae and hippopotamuses emerged. Today we have AirBnb, online tax-forms and Gangnam-style. Science tells us that all of these emerged out of this same, epic creative process that is everything.

Those who aren’t scientifically inclined are quite poetic regarding everything and suggest that a “man in the sky”, or God, sat this process in motion. Scientists on the other hand say that a big, interstellar explosion did. Neither party are exactly sure what existed previous to these events.

Both science and ‘non-science’ therefore pretty much agree that us humans didn’t make everything we see around us. Moreover, everyone agrees that we’re an intricate part of everything and what we do has an impact on everything else, more so today than ever because of our advanced science and technology.

How to become detached to the degree that nothing can affect your inner peace

Don’t misinterpret detached from the world as being disconnected from it. The opposite is actually true, you are more deeply connected to the world, a connection that is beyond surface phenomena, hence the impression of “detachment”.

Listen to what Adyashanti (a very smart dude in California) says.

“We become very deeply connected. We find ourselves able, in the moment of someone’s actual pain or in the middle of our own suffering, to connect very intimately, very purely, without any resistance. This opens up a door within us for an entirely different response—a response that’s not based in opposition. Instead, this intimacy and stillness guides us into a very precise and effective type of action, a kind of involvement born out of a deep inner connection with life and with others.”

Adya is talking about meditation, and more specifically the meditative state. Acknowledging, observing, paying attention to (or meditating) is all different words for saying loving. That’s because when you look at something not only with your eyes, not only with your discerning mind, but with your soul – love is what’s doing the looking. And that undiscerning loving-kindness that is your soul, is that deep connection we’re talking about here – often referred to as “detaching”.

Hence, I’d like to add something less elegant to Adya’s quote that

“Connecting to the world with your heart through meditation (Zen, Buddhism) or poetry and prayer (Christianity, Sufism, ) looks like detachment as you let life be in all its manifestations. You neither want to add or retract from it but just want to observe it in all its glory. In that way, love looks like a detachment, but only to the eye, the mind and ego. While in fact the opposite has happened. There is a deeper connection to life, to the world – that of the heart.”

That nothing will ever affect your inner peace is quite ambitious. And I hope that the peace you are looking for isn’t that of a vegetable, or death, the magnificent and sophisticated creature you are. You will be angry, sad, happy, silly but you will not be attached to these mental states. You won’t praise nor condemn them. Like weather, they just are, if you let them be.

The best explanation for the miracles attributed to Jesus Christ

Miracles are changes in perception. We all know what profound effect a change of perception can have in our lives, our health, society and every thing else.

The story of Jesus is an allegory of spiritual awakening, or a profound change in perception that ultimately liberates us from all the fears, worries and anxieties of life, things that create a whole host of negative consequences for our lives, health and society.

The rational explanation of the changes in perception Jesus did was that he helped people to see the world (and therefore themselves) through the eyes of love. Healing their ‘diseased’ body and mind by not only revealing for them, but also having them experience what they in essence are.

Sounds rational right? 🙂

We’re probably most familiar with similar changes in perception through the phenomenon of placebo and various therapies in Psychology. Even if the type and depth of changes that spiritual experiences produce far surpass both what the medical and Psychological sciences can provide. That’s because they both work under the assumption that something needs to be fixed, or is broken, not that we all are complete, perfect and whole.

Why we search for inner peace in the external world

People search for peace in the external world because pleasures are in the external world.

Peace, as you say, is in the internal world because peace doesn’t come from pleasures, is not something we need to acquire. Peace is what we are, peace is our very nature.

As we grow up however we abandon our nature which makes us sad and confused. When we discover that pleasures give us a moment of escape from our sadness and confusion, we think “If I can only have more pleasures, that must be the way to peace.”

So we try all pleasures in the world and come to realize that it never gives us lasting peace. No matter how much we indulge, we want more, bigger and better which gets us in trouble and creates all kinds of problems in our lives.

So we start going to the other extreme, that of denying pleasures and the external world, thinking THAT must be the way to peace. We meditate, go to India, have no sex for years, stop drinking French wines, live in a robe, basically starving ourself of pleasures.

The problem with both these are that they are too attached to external things to ever lead to lasting peace. The way to peace is neither to indulge nor deny the world, but to let the world flow through our lives by not being too caught up in it. And don’t misinterpret ‘not caught up’ as not caring or being an emotionless psychopath, nothing could be further to the truth. You actually care so much that you don’t care. Does that make sense? I guess it’s called courage, and one needs a lot of courage to find peace.

Have you ever heard the expression “If you love someone you set them free”? Well, the same goes for life. You set life free by loving it. You love life by setting it free. That’s how you transcend it. You ‘detach’ from it by being deeply connected to it – a connection based on courage, another word for heart and love – your true nature.