Rick and Morty and the Meaning of Life — Part II — Screw Enlightenment, Become An Adult Instead

Daniel Jeffries
31 min readFeb 21, 2021
Rick in Season 4 — Courtesy of Adult Swim

Spoilers ahead — If you haven’t watched all of season 4, then stop reading now. If you already watched it on Inter-dimensional cable then you’re golden.


You can find part one of Rick and Morty and the Meaning of Life right here.


At the end of Rick and Morty season 4, we learn the great secret of Beth and her clone.

It’s the climatic moment of something that started way back in Season 3 when Beth turns to Rick in a moment of terrible existential despair and says :

“Dad, I’m out of excuses to not be who I am. So who am I? What do I do?”

Rick gives her the answer. Take a big risk. Do something. Get out there. Change.

He tells her to “saddle up the Universe and take it for a ride.”

What does she say?

“I can’t do that. My kids. Jerry. My job. And as much as I hate to admit it, ABC’s The Bachelor.”

When faced with a life of wild adventure and possibility she freezes. She could fail, or die, or wind up alone and unhappy and at least now she has a life with some kind of meaning and certainty to cling to, even if she hates that life.

So she does what most of us do when we get the call to adventure in the great hero’s journey. She refuses. Then she doubles down on her past choices and takes comfort in the banal pleasantries of watching TV or browsing the web to look at vapid idiots on Instagram.

It’s like eating McDonald’s in a foreign country. You know it doesn’t taste good but at least you know it’s not horrible and it beats the risk of eating at a random place that could go terribly wrong.

We refuse the call because the most important thing to most human beings is not living the life we were meant to live, or sex, or money, or self-awareness, or success. It’s thinking good about ourselves no matter what. It’s called self-serving bias. We’ll do anything to think ourselves good, righteous and just, no matter how bad we screw up. We’ll blame everything that goes wrong on outside forces and conspiracies and luck. We’ll alter memories, block out and discard new evidence, selectively interpret any and all new information, and retrofit experience to fit beliefs we already have even if it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

And because of that we stay stuck.

We’re like a grasshopper cocooned by a spider, drugged by the spider’s venom, wrapped tightly with web, unable to move. “We’re still alive but our existence bears no resemblance to our authentic grasshopper selves,” writes the world’s most dangerous and eye-opening author, Jed McKenna, in Spiritual Warfare.

But that’s not the end of the story. Unlike us, Beth gets a second possibility.

Rick offers her a way to cheat herself out of making the choice.

He promises to clone her so she can take both paths in life.

In one life, Beth stays a wife and a mother with a simple, routine existence filled with obligations and painful self-sacrifice. In the other, she strikes out for a life of adventure, saddling up the Universe and taking it for a ride, transforming into a badass woman warrior and battling the galactic government as Space Beth.

But season 3 leaves us hanging.

We don’t really know if Rick actually makes her clone.

It’s not until the last episode of season 4 that we learn the secret truth. He made the clone all right. She becomes Space Beth, the Universe’s Most Wanted, as she battles the intergalactic empire.

But there’s a bigger twist to the story: Beth asks Rick to make another choice for her. She wants him to decide whether real Beth stays with the family or leaves for adventures in the great beyond.

Not only does she fail to make the choice about a life of obligation or a life of adventure, she doubles down on her indecision and punts the question to Rick, even with a backup copy of herself that nobody gets in real life. It’s the ultimate example of what we do as humans. When it comes to making a real choice, most of us would rather not make one at all.

She rationalizes this because she’s trying to find out if her father loves her. Does he want his real daughter to stay close to him or does he want her to leave and live her best life? She’s really asking if he loves her in two very different ways. We can love someone by keeping them close to us or we can love them by setting them free.

But more than anything Beth is looking for a way to cheat her way out of having to make a decision.


And she’s got one other person to accompany her too: Rick.

At the end of the season 4 finale, Star Mort Rickturn of the Jerri, we find Rick sitting despondently in the garage. Instead of making the choice for her, we learn that he ripped the “clone” and “Beth” labels off the cloning pods and spun them so he couldn’t tell which was which anymore.

Rick makes the worst decision possible. Not choosing. Even failing to choose is a choice and it’s the default one we all make again and again. We leave it up to fate, gravity and random chance.

In part one of this series I told you that at the heart of Rick and Morty is a choice.

I thought I knew what that choice was when I wrote the first article:

“Will you crumple in despair, knowing the horrifying truth that life is totally meaningless or will you strike out for a life of fun and adventure?”

Wrapped up in that question is a thousand other questions about the meaning of life:

  • What’s my purpose?
  • Why do we die?
  • Why does evil exist?
  • Does anything I do really matter?

It’s the question of all great stories throughout all time, the hero’s journey.

Will you take on the great monsters of the world, setting out like Gilgamesh to do great deeds and build an empire, knowing that you can’t really win?

In the end the most you can ever become is “the momentary master of a fraction of a dot” before you’re swept away by the sands of time.

At the end of the story, all of our great deeds come to nothing and even if they’re remembered by historians, eventually even those memories will fade into oblivion on a long enough time scale. Look back far enough at history and you start to realize the tales of great kings and queens and emperors are myths, with ancient kings “stopping” floods, inventing everything from tea to math, and changing the weather like they’re Marvel superheroes. It doesn’t take much to realize that somehow accuracy and legend got mixed up into a gobbledygook that no longer reflects anything even remotely close to true. Go back even further than that and you end up in pre-recorded history where everyone who ever existed is nameless and faceless.

In Hamlet, Horatio wonders if even the great men and women of history all smell and look the same when they’re dead.

And Hamlet tells him maybe we could “trace the noble dust” of Alexander plugging a hole in a barrel.

The greatest masters of this little blue dot, whether they conquered the world like Alexander or discovered quantum mechanics like Einstein, are nothing but dust blown away by the winds of time. Or as Tyler Durden says in Fight Club, “We are not special. We are the all-singing, all-dancing crap of the world.”

But over the years, since I wrote that piece, I’ve had a very different take on the ultimate questions of life.

That’s no surprise because the person who wrote that piece doesn’t exist anymore. Who I am now is a light years journey from who I was then. I barely remember that person and how he saw the world. It’s like a dim memory of a movie I saw twenty years ago. I can remember the vague outlines and a key scene or two but not much else.

I do know that I was on the verge of the great hero’s journey but I hadn’t actually made it yet. I understood it in my mind but like Beth I hadn’t really taken the full leap from the precipice. But not long after I took the hero’s journey for real. I threw off a safe, comfortable home life and took off for a life of wild adventure.

I got divorced, swept aside obligations, comfort and safety, quit my job, and traveled the world, getting lost in lands near and far, with nothing but a backpack and one small suitcase. I didn’t even have an apartment to return home to if I fucked up and failed. And along the way, I lost bits of my mind and bits of myself. I lost close friends to death and disease and overdose. I made a small fortune and threw it away in a Kafkaesque legal battle. I broke down and experienced the depths of despair and loneliness, crying in the shower in some foreign land where I didn’t know anyone and couldn’t speak the language.

But I also climbed windswept mountains, ate mouth watering deserts in tiny cafes in the far reaches of the world, danced for two days straight in clubs with ear shattering bass, made love with goddesses, swam in deep blue seas, and moved to another country without so much as a plan but faith that it would work out. I lived, laughed, loved, fucked, ate, and drank. I did it all and then some.

And now I’m back to tell you what I found on the other side of the journey.

What did I find?

The real question is not will you live a life of adventure and possibility or crumple in despair. It’s this:

Will you make any choice at all, ever, in your entire life?

Rickturn to Part One

In part one I warned you about poking around the limits of your reality cage because you might not like what you find.

You might find that everything you thought you knew was wrong, that you can’t really know anything except “I am” and that “nobody belongs anywhere, nobody exists on purpose and everybody’s going to die.”

Or you might find that the price of the life you want is much higher than you ever imagined. On my great journey, I lost a woman who cared for me no matter whether I was successful or broken, three cats that I loved more than most people, a happy and perfect little house, a warm safe space, friends, comfort, safety, consistency, understanding, money, and much, much more.

It all started because I opened the glowing box of knowledge and once I did there was no turning back.

In part one, I recommended that you don’t read a book called Spiritual Enlightenment the Damndest Thing by Jed McKenna unless you like dancing with nukes and want to risk blowing up your whole life and losing everything you ever loved, along with your sense of self, your sense of purpose and your grand unified theory of you.

But I have it on good authority that many of you ignored me and read it anyway.

So here we are. Let’s deal with what that means for you now.

Where do you go from here?

Let’s start with this:

What do you really want?

In part one of Rick and Morty and the Meaning of Life, we got to the bottom of things, a bedrock of anattā/no-self/nothing/emptiness. Let’s build our way back up from nothingness though because it sure doesn’t feel like nothingness from where I’m sitting watching the snow drifting outside my wind on this wonderful winter day in the middle of this wonderful dream I’m living.

Before we get to what you really want, a better question to start with is:

Who am I?

Getting the answer to this question will lead you back to the “what do I want?” question but now you’ll be able to answer it better. One question proceeds the other. If you don’t know who you are, how can you know what you want?

Of course, if we’re not careful we could end up back at “nothing.” In the cosmic undifferentiated sense you are nothing/everything/a paradox/God/the Universe/the Matrix/the dream itself/all things and nothing at all. A dream within a dream, a simulation within a simulation, the product of a hallucinating Brahman or any other metaphor you want to describe the indescribable. The song you learned in childhood is everything you need to know about the nature of existence: “merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily, life is but a dream.”

That’s a little hard to work with though.

So maybe we can leap up a few layers in the dream construct and figure out a more practical answer, something we can work with here.

What is the basic structure of you? What are “you” made of?

Beliefs mostly.

Your beliefs form a tapestry of narrative over time that creates the grand illusion of you. But have you ever stopped to ask where your beliefs and ideas really come from?

Once you start to dig into them and tear them apart, you realize what a flimsy and rotten foundation most of them are built on.

In one of my favorite books, Thinking in Bets, world champion poker player Annie Duke shines a bright light on how this strange and mysterious process works.

“Here’s how you think you form beliefs:

  • We hear something;
  • We think about it and vet it, determining whether it is true or false; only after that
  • We form our belief.

It turns out, though, that we actually form abstract beliefs this way:

  • We hear something;
  • We believe it to be true;
  • Only sometimes, later, if we have the time or the inclination, we think about it and vet it, determining whether it is, in fact, true or false.”

Miss Duke chalks that up to our evolutionary wiring. We spent a few million years running around in the forest. If we heard a tiger in the bushes it made sense to believe it rather than doubt the tiger really exists. The people who doubted the tiger are dead. The people who believed it, lived.

But we no longer live in the forest. We spent 12,000 years in the agricultural revolution living on farms, and a few hundred years in the industrial revolution. Now we’re either living in the post-information age, or the Anthropocene Age.

We spend our times in cities and on social media and we hear all kinds of crazy things on the global insane asylum that we call planet Earth. You might hear that COVID spreads via 5G towers, or that the New York Knicks are going to win it all this year, or that the solution to our energy problems are tiny microverses in infinite regress inside your car battery.

But despite being surrounded by a bunch of crazy people saying crazy shit all the time, we’re still wired by evolution to believe whatever we hear almost instantly and automatically.

And unlike in the past when we’re wrong, we don’t get eaten for it, we get rewarded for it.

And that’s where the problems really start.

We have a global, instant feedback system of other insane people, bathing us in the warm glow of dopamine by agreeing with us. No matter what you believe, there’s someone out there who shares your wacky beliefs even if you believe that Finland doesn’t really exist, Prince Charles is a vampire (he is pallid and humorless), and that the lizard people are really in control (they are — all hail Crockubot).

But worse, it’s not just crackpot conspiracy theories that we believe. Even common knowledge we take for granted is often nothing but an illusion.

For instance, dopamine isn’t really a pleasure and reward chemical but we all still believe it because it’s been repeated so often that we think it’s true, in a classic example of how not-true things become “true.”

“For all we know, everything we’ve ever known, is just some shit we made upppppppppp.” — Glory to Glorzo song from Promortyus epside.

(It mostly is.)

Even worse, we also seem to have very limited capacity to form early, foundational beliefs that make up the mysterious entity known as “I”.

By the time we’re ten or twelve we’re filled with a random collection of beliefs and after that we mostly just stop learning. We come to a grinding halt, as if our harddrive is filled up and we need to delete something to make room for other more useful apps but we’re too lazy to do it so we just leave everything right where it is and live with it.

We pick up those beliefs from our upbringing, our random geo-location in the matrix, school and the bullies there, teachers, partners and parents, experiences, that one time you went to a rave under the Brooklyn bridge, and shit you saw on 8Chan. If it sounds like we pick up those ideas haphazardly that’s because that’s exactly what happened.

It’s a bit like in this passage from the book Ready Player Two:

“My friend Kira always said that life is like an extremely difficult, horribly unbalanced videogame. When you’re born, you’re given a randomly generated character, with a randomly determined name, race, face, and social class. Your body is your avatar, and you spawn in a random geographic location, at a random moment in human history, surrounded by a random group of people, and then you have to try to survive for as long as you can. Sometimes the game might seem easy. Even fun. Other times it might be so difficult you want to give up and quit. But unfortunately, in this game you only get one life. When your body grows too hungry or thirsty or ill or injured or old, your health meter runs out and then it’s Game Over.”

Unfortunately, most of those randomly acquired beliefs become etched in stone. We’re Peter Pan. Most of us stop learning around age twelve and we’re basically a finished product that barely changes the rest of our years on Earth. We’re children wearing adult costume bodies.

If you never grow up you never really develop the capacity to reflect on your condition in any meaningful way and never bother to try to escape the self-created prison you’re in right now.

But how is that really possible?

How is it possible that so many people could not know that they’re children wearing adult costume bodies? For that to be possible, it would require a society where they’re surrounded by other children everywhere they go and it would need to be so widespread that it was just considered normal, so nobody noticed or thought to seek a solution, so no solution is forthcoming.

That is exactly what’s happened.

We live in a society of, by, and for children.

Nobody ever taught you to think for yourself, or reflect on your beliefs, or asked you how you came to believe what you believe, or how you got to be the way you are, because everyone around you is a child too, filled to the brim of their operating capacity with childish beliefs. And to children all beliefs are sacred and true. No matter what those beliefs are, they’re all sacred cows and anyone who dares to disagree or disturb those beliefs is the enemy who must be stopped at all costs.

History’s greatest punishments are reserved for heretics: Burning at the stake; the death of a thousand cuts. That’s what societies do to people who dare to question the childish beliefs of the society as a whole. As soon as someone stands up and says, “Hey, we might want to rethink this whole sacrificing children into a Volcano thing, it’s seems crazy,” then they get thrown in the volcano too.

There are no healthy societies on Earth and there never have been and there probably never will be. You never had a real teacher because mostly they don’t exist and every teacher you ever had is just another child in an adult body.

“When I was a child I spoke and acted as a child, but when I became a man I put away childish things,” — says the Bible, in 1 Corinthians 13:11.

Except, actually, pretty much nobody put away their pacifiers.

If there ever was a healthy society, maybe one of the myriad Native American societies and cultures, or something from long ago pre-recorded history, then it was wiped out by unhealthy societies filled with crazy people who liked to kill and steal things. In fact, the crazy societies that took over the Earth were so crazy that they imagined they were more enlightened then the people they were slaughtering and stealing from and since they were successful at slaughtering, conquering and stealing from everyone they’re all that is left on the Earth and that means you, me, and everyone else you ever met are the direct descendants of crazy people whose minds are seething with wild and unfounded beliefs.

Which makes you crazy.

Worse, it makes you crazy in a way that you don’t even know you’re crazy.

This craziness manifests in a number of ways, such as, but not limited to: racing minds that can’t stay quiet and worry about meaningless stuff for no reason while completely ignoring meaningful stuff and real threats; inventing stuff to worry about when nothing to worry about exists; believing utter nonsense as absolute fact; worshiping false idols and imaginary gods of all shapes and sizes; imagining that everything that happens to you is someone else’s fault or bad luck; believing that running naked in the snow or taking cold showers will make you live longer; or believing that pandemics are hoaxes put together by an evil cabal of Mr Burns like rich folks designed to enslave you further.

But don’t feel too bad. The odds are really stacked against you, since you never had a real passage to adulthood.

Nobody told you to go out and hunt a water buffalo by yourself or die trying.

And since that happened to everyone, you now live in a society which has not “advanced beyond the stage where girls play dress-up and boys torture frogs,” as McKenna writes in Spiritual Warfare.

Your beliefs are not your own and they never were.

That’s the bad news.

The good news is you can do something about it.

A Guide to Where the Fuck You Are Right Now

So where are you and what can you do about all this?

You can do the impossible. You can grow up.

To grow up, you’ve got to reset your randomly assigned beliefs with ones that actually help your play-through of this wild and wonderful game we call life. To do that you’ve got to question every belief you have until you find something that’s actually true (or as close to true as possible that it doesn’t really matter). You’ve got to dismantle yourself, eat yourself alive (not literally), digest yourself fully and regurgitate yourself (also not literally) as something new and fully formed.

But how do you do that?

As Hemingway said “the fastest way to do something is to actually do the thing.”

Get out a piece of paper. Start writing it all down.

What do I believe? Why do I believe that? Who or what put that idea into my head? Does this belief help me or hurt me? Does it limit me or set me free? Who taught me that? Why did they teach me that? What was their agenda? What was their interest in making me believe that?

Start digesting it and tackling it and looking at it from every angle. Assume nothing you know is true and start from there. Rebuild yourself up piece by piece by piece. Don’t stop until nothing is left hidden from you.

It’s the same as the creative process anywhere. You can’t think without paper. Write it down.

You also need to start asking the big questions:

Who am I? What the hell do I want in life? What’s wrong in my life and how can I fix it?

It takes time. A couple of years, more or less, if you’re really trying. The more you look at who you are, the more you can realize what you want to keep in the garden of your mind and what weeds you have to pull out. This is the process of becoming an adult, letting go of useless beliefs, putting away childish things.

When I started looking at myself I realized I had a lot of crazy beliefs, like other people were always wrong and I was always right, or that I already knew everything, or that love was suffering. I believed that I was doing everything right in my relationships and couldn’t understand why I was attracting the exact wrong people for me until I woke up and realized I was most definitely not doing most things right in relationships and that if I wanted to attract someone amazing into my life I would have to become someone amazing myself because like attracts like. You can’t attract a beautiful bird with a poison flower and I had a lot of poison flowers.

I was like an AI fed the wrong data. In my mind and heart, I had “day” labeled as “night,” “left” labeled as “right,” and “up” as “down” for almost everything and you should expect to find the same. As you start to dig into your head, you’ll find cherished beliefs burning away like tissue paper as you expose them to the light.

It’s like in the movie Inside Out where the boxes with “facts” and “opinions” on the “train of thought” get all mixed up when the main character, Joy, knocks the boxes over.

“Oh no, these facts and opinions all looks so similar.”

“Eh don’t worry about it, happens all the time.”

Being an adult means it’s time to stop mixing facts and opinions up.

If you were paying close attention to the McKenna books you might have noticed a progression from “Spiritual Enlightenment the Damndest Thing” to “Spiritual Warfare.” The goals of the books change from getting to spiritual enlightenment (the biggest booby prize of all time) to growing the hell up instead, a state McKenna calls “Human Adulthood.” My own life took this path too, after my hero’s journey. I spent time writing a book on how to live life as an adult, as I was becoming one myself.

“Human Adulthood is what everyone really wants, not truth or enlightenment.

“This is where you find all the good stuff and a lot less of the bad. You have to grow into it, of course, continue to develop and mature, learn and expand, but that’s where all the perks are; profound and abiding contentment, the ability to manifest desires and shape events, the ability to do less and accomplish more, find your true calling, connect with your higher self, never stub another toe, and so on.

“And Human Adulthood is what everyone, spiritual or not, religious or not, atheist or not, should be setting their sights on. This is what I’ve come to understand in my years of teaching and writing.

“If I were to give advice, I would recommend Adulthood to everyone and Enlightenment to no one. Human Adulthood is life-positive, Enlightenment is life-negative. Human Adulthood is the real prize. Spiritual Enlightenment is pointless and meaningless, and should only be sought by those who have absolutely no choice in the matter.”

- Jed McKenna. Spiritual Warfare

And that’s what I would advise too.

And after going all the way down the rabbit hole into the absolute meaningless of all things like we did in part one of this series, you’ve got four choices:

  1. Crumble in despair and/or slide headlong into addiction, vice, boredom, the illusion of safety, trivialities, conspiracy theory, blaming evil forces (government, aliens, the opposite party, some other culture/religion/idea). This is a path to an early and ugly death and an endless funhouse mirror of fake realities that will make you miserable your whole life.
  2. Take the hero’s journey and do great and terrible things (awesome but not for everyone).
  3. Block it all out and go back to sleep and believe whatever crazy ass, unexamined nonsense you want to believe like everyone else (the blue pill in the Matrix).
  4. Or simply grow the hell up by examining all your beliefs and tearing out all the ones that grew in there like weeds from society, culture, religion, country, advertising, the Internet, TV, parents, celebrities, your first love, your imaginary childhood friend Bing Bong on your sled powered by rainbows, memory parasites who take the from of Wacky character family members, social media, politicians, and other insane sources of misinformation. Then replace those beliefs with better beliefs so that you can pick your own adventure through this magical wonderland of awesomeness we call life.

Direct Experience of Reality and Trusting Yourself

But once you start questioning your beliefs, how do you know what’s really true?

Since you’re surrounded by people who don’t question their beliefs you’ve got to release your reliance on trusted 3rd parties and trusted authorities. You’ve got to open your eyes and look for yourself.

You have to stop relying on non-you authorities and make a direct observation of reality.

And you’ve got to root out things that you know “for sure” that aren’t true. As Mark Twain said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you in trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” (Actually he probably never said it but it’s such a good quote that who cares?)

So how can you be more sure about what’s true and what’s not true?

By aligning your beliefs as closely as possible with objective reality.

Objective reality? Does that even exist?

Not really.

But knowing that gets you nowhere again.

You can argue that objective reality doesn’t really exist but you’d just be getting tangled up in a web of your own weaving again.

As Einstein said, “the distinction between the past, present and future is only an illusion, albeit a stubbornly persistent one.”

In other words, while objective reality may be an illusion, it sure is a persistent one, so you’re better off working with it.

As you may or may not have noticed by now, the dream state we call life is very regular. You do not wake up and find that all the trees outside your house are moved and replaced with a sign that says “insert tree here” like in a Phillip K Dick novel. Reality is rendered perfectly. There’s no tearing and frame rate drops ever. The resolution is infinite. There are no glitches. If the trees are removed there is a good reason, as in someone came to get them and pulled them out with a backhoe.

Since the dream state has some pretty easily measurable and consistent rules, you can learn these rules and work with them. You can learn your place in the great flow of all things and how to work with it and how it works with you. You don’t really need me or anyone else to do it.

In fact, you’re the only one that can do it. Nobody can do it for you.

Adulthood is about knowing the nature of the dreamstate, knowing the terrible truth at the heart of existence that all returns to nothingness, and still accepting the ride that you’re on but living it by your own rules and controlling what you can control. It’s about learning the real rules of the game, and embracing the game fully and completely. It’s about going all-in and loving it.

As Dan Harmon said, “We have this fleeting chance to participate in an illusion called I love my girlfriend and I love my dog. How is that not better?”

If you can get your mind right and put away childish beliefs you can experience less self-made suffering and only suffer when something truly bad happens. That eliminates 90% of the suffering for you, since most of what happens to you is entirely made up. Your wrong beliefs lead to more and more suffering. It’s like those long division problems in grade school. If you got the first step wrong, then the other 19 steps are wrong automatically.

For instance, if you believe that heroin is the best relief of your suffering and that it won’t get you in the end then you will learn as one of my close friends did that in fact it will it eat your whole life and you will die from it. Wrong beliefs play out with a perfect trajectory almost every time.

The path to adulthood is a simplified version of the eightfold path, which I call the threefold path:

Right understanding, leads to right thought, which leads to right action.

By the converse, wrong understanding, leads to wrong thought, which leads to wrong action.

Let’s imagine that you believe something that doesn’t line up with reality like “love is suffering,” as I did. That’s exactly what you’ll get then, a relationship filled with suffering and sadness and conflict. But if you can root that belief out and realize that “love is suffering” is just something you learned, or made up, or observed by watching the insane asylum of children-adults, then you’ve got a shot at experiencing a love of fun and laughter and light (and occasional bouts of sadness/conflict but a lot less of them).

But without beliefs that match objective reality, you’ve got no shot. You can’t get anywhere near what you want. You started off in the wrong direction from step one and it should be no surprise when you discover you went the wrong way and ended up some place you didn’t want to be, hating everything in life, and believing everything is unfair and out to cheat you.

Wrong beliefs are like trying to get healthy fruit from poison trees. Poison trees always give poison fruit. If you join a cult and it takes all your money, your belief in that cult was to blame because it led you to your delusion in the first place. If you have a friend who steals from you and you keep that friend in your life thinking they’ll change then you shouldn’t be surprised when they steal from you again.

The best way to line up your beliefs with reality is this:

Test, test, and test again.

You can’t know for 100% sure that something is true but you can get to a point where it’s true enough.

For instance, if you sit there and observe the waves rolling in on any beach, they will keep rolling in and rolling out no matter how long you look. If you look up videos of beaches you will see the same. If you ask anyone who ever watched the ocean they will tell you they saw the waves rolling in and out, so it’s a safe bet to say that “waves roll in and out.” Of course, it’s possible that somewhere, at sometime, someone missed the sea not doing its job and the waves didn’t roll in and out but nobody ever bothered to document that and so we can return to the understanding that the sea does its job 24x7 with absolute perfection.

We can also assume things like gravity exist. Of course, you are free to believe that gravity doesn’t exist. Nothing is stopping you, because you can believe any insane thing you like, but if you go jump out of a 100 story window you’ll find that gravity wins and you lose.

Every time you get tangled up in a philosophical argument with yourself and say “there’s no way to know anything for sure,” I want you to remember the story of a student monk who came to his teacher distraught.

“What’s wrong, my son?” said the great teacher.

“Well, I learned in my philosophy class that nothing is true and it doesn’t matter what I believe because you can make a good case for either side of any argument,” said the student, shoulders slumped.

“I see. Well then, could you convince me that your nose doesn’t exist?”

“Of course, first of all…”

But the teacher punched the student in the nose before he could continue and said:

“What hurts?”

For all the purposes that matter, your nose exists and the waves roll in and out perfectly and gravity has a perfect record. It’s entirely possible that somewhere, sometime a miracle happened and someone didn’t actually fall to their death. They floated away like the girl who jumped off a mountain at the end of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and soared to the heavens. But probably not, so gravity = real is a good bet.

There’s something called a Zero Knowledge proof in cryptography and it offers a way to continually test your beliefs. You don’t need to know anything about math or cryptography to understand it. You just need to know something about Alibaba’s Cave from the illustration below.

At the back of the cave is a locked door. Bob says he has the key to that door but Alice doesn’t believe him so she asks him to prove it. Now, Bob doesn’t want to show her the key because she might steal it from him. So Alice takes a different approach. Alice stands at the front of the cave and Bob stands in the back next to the locked door. She tells him to go through the door and come out to the left.

Bob does it, so he must have the key right?

Not so fast.

Bob could have just started on the left hand side by luck and not really have had the key. So Alice asks him to do it again, telling him to appear from the left or the right randomly. She repeats this process again and again and again. Eventually Bob has done it enough times that he’s proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he didn’t just get lucky and that he actually has the key, even though he never showed it to her.

There’s a vanishingly small chance that Bob just got lucky 1000 times but it’s so vanishingly small at this point that it’s not even worth thinking about anymore.

Continually test your own beliefs as well.

Are they still true? Does that still make sense? What if I’m wrong? How would I know? What do I know? How do I know it? How can I prove it?

As you begin to question everything that got into your head by random chance, then you can start testing everything you know against the outcomes.

If someone tells you he’s got a miracle diet of chocolate and butter and wine, you can test it against everyone else who’s ever written something on diets and safely rule his nutcase theory out. You are free to believe you can eat whatever you want and smoke two packs a day and that nothing bad will happen to you but you don’t have to look around very hard to see how that belief plays out over time in smooth, linear, pre-determined certainty.

You’ll find that when you start to look really closely you’ll see how more and more beliefs play out over time. You’ll see what ones bring pain and suffering and what ones bring joy. You can discover what beliefs will work for you and which ones will work against you at every step. You’ll look very differently at your past, your culture, your leaders, your society, religions, history, the future and more. I’m not here to tell you which beliefs will start to look insane. I’ll let you discover the many, many mad beliefs for yourself, but the more you look the more you’ll realize how much of the world is founded on insanity that took root and is now masquerading as perfectly normal.

It ain’t normal.

Weed your mind.

And the more you weed the garden of your mind, the more room you have to start planting the flowers and trees that you actually want your garden.

And as you do that, you get closer and closer to making the life that you actually want for yourself.

You can start making real choices instead of living life like a non-self aware program that has all its decisions pre-programmed in by its inherited beliefs. You don’t want to be an NPC, a Non Player Character, with a limited range of stimulus and response. You want to be the protagonist in the story.

Then the real fun begins.

What will you do with your new self?

Do you want to take off and explore the world? Do you want to paint? Climb mountains? Drive race cars? Become famous? Become anonymous? Do you want to change the world? Do you want a simple family life, where you actually choose a partner you find amazing, instead of a relationship you just stumbled into because he/she/they were close by when you reached mating age?

You can decide to be Space Beth and take down the intergalactic government or you can decide to be Earth Beth and stay at home or anything else you can possibly imagine. You can choose to be a saint or sinner or a sage or priest or a celebrity or a simple baker of cupcakes with smiley faces on them.

The only question that matters is this:

What choice will you make?

Will you let fate, gravity, or pre-programming, or a role of the dice, or your father Rick make your choices for you? How about society? Religion? Culture? Your parents? Shit you learned in the fourth grade from an unhappy teacher with self-esteem problems? Something else you learned from the priest in 6th grade who never had a wife and who’s talking about relationships?

Or will you finally find the courage to clear out all the clutter in your mind and make a real choice for yourself?

And can you live with the consequences of those choices? Those will no longer be hidden from you anymore either as you look clearly and directly at life and where different choices will likely lead you. A formula 1 racecar driver knows he will likely die an unnatural death but he can choose to do it anyway, knowing that he’s found what he was meant to do in the world. He can make a choice, despite the consequences, with open eyes.

But no matter what you chose, unlike Beth, you don’t get to cheat.

The Universe didn’t ask if I wanted a clone so I could stay in my marriage and simultaneously get out there and dare greatly on the high seas of adventure. It said do you want one or the other? Pick one thing and the other doors close forever on you. There’s no magical reset button, just as Morty learns in season four’s Vat of Acid episode when he asks Rick to make him a reset button “like in video games.”

Rick makes him the reset button but it doesn’t really work out like Morty planned.

At the end Morty learns he didn’t go back in time at all. He simply jumped into a different timeline.

He made every horrible, selfish, stupid and sadistic choice and then Rick combined all his memories back together so he had to live with his decisions, just like you and I get to live with all the dumb, horrible decisions you ever made. There’s no do-over. You make choices and they stick and there’s no going back.

But you can go forward. You can start to make much better choices. You can grow up and become a true adult in an adult body. You have a choice. A real one.

I spent most of my 45 years on this Earth as a child in an adult body.

I count myself lucky actually to be a fledgling adult now.

I count myself among the luckiest 1% of 1% of people to have ever lived. That’s because the vast majority of humans who have ever lived died as children parading around in adult costume bodies and never knowing it. Princes, kings, emperors, queens, priests, sages, politicians, titans of industry, TV talking heads, celebrities, writers, Instagram influencers, all of them just kids, yelling, screaming, pouting and shouting “I want it because my sister has one and it’s not fair!”

You too can grow up if you want it bad enough.

Who wants what? How badly? Why? Who’s sincere? Who’s just accessorizing? Who’s using waking up as a way to go more deeply asleep? Duality is a tangled forest in which many self-styled freedom-seekers wield the machete of discrimination with all the effect of a butter knife. Not knowing where, if anywhere, they want to go, they’re happy enough where they are. Fearing the genuine, they embrace the counterfeit; opting for words and adornment over authentic change, fueling delusions of spiritual progress with empty practices and useless knowledge, turning in place to create a sense of motion.”

-Spiritually Incorrect Enlightenment

Stop turning in place and make a real choice.

But don’t wait too long.

Because you don’t want to wake up one day when you’re 90 and realize you were 12 years old all along.

And now it’s too late.


I’m an author, engineer, pro-blogger, podcaster, public speaker. My upcoming book, Mastering Depression and Living the Life You Were Meant to Live tells the story of how I battled the dark forces of existence and still found a way to live a big, bold and beautiful life.


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Daniel Jeffries

I am an author, futurist, systems architect, and thinker.