If you’re tortured by your own preferences you’re using them wrong.
A few reminders to You, Creator of Everything.
(Some teachings from my early days as a student — absorbed, forgotten, and reconstructed here for your consideration.)
- You’re here because it’s fun.
In the beginning, there was The One.
Omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent.
But it was boring. Nothing to experience and no one to experience it with.
So The One created Space, and Things, and Time. And The One split into Self and Other, to have someone to interact with.
2. Reality is what we agree upon.
If you experience something and no one else does, the best you can achieve is Certainty.
If someone else agrees with you — if you get external validation—then you have Reality.
If you see a deer out your living room window, the best you can be is certain that there was a deer. But if someone else in the room says, Hey, do you see that deer?! — at that point the deer is real.
Everything we call reality is no more and no less than the parts of our experience we’ve gotten agreement on.
3. As an alternative to indifference, we assign value to our experiences.
Sunsets and vanilla ice cream and death are intrinsically value-neutral. They’re neither good nor bad.
But we decide that we love sunsets, and hate vanilla ice cream, and feel sorrow when someone dies, because doing so lends richness to life.
We do it because it’s fun.
We assign value to our experiences. We establish an emotional relationship to people, things, events, experiences.
But then we try to get others to agree to the necessity of that relationship.
We try to find others who agree (or convince others to agree) with our love of sunsets, our hatred of vanilla ice cream, and the sadness of someone’s death.
Because then we have reality (rather than just certainty) about the value of those experiences.
Sunsets are now intrinsically beautiful, vanilla ice cream is intrinsically nasty, and death is intrinsically mournful.
And then we get comfortable with the feeling that they’re set in stone.
So it can be helpful to remember that whenever we’re tortured by our own preferences, it’s a sign we’re using them wrong. And to remember that they’re arbitrary and quite malleable.
4. We experience cause and effect in reverse order.
(This may be the hardest one to grasp, but possibly the most valuable)
We tend to use cause-and-effect thinking as a way of trying to predict or control the environment.
But we go overboard trying to ascribe cause and effect relationships to everything. We’re constantly doing forensics and projecting into the future in impossible ways, to come up with what amounts to a “Lucky Shirt” formula for success.
The obvious never occurs to us. Experientially, effect comes first. Cause follows after.
A baseball crashes through the window and we look outside and see kids running away… then we come to a bunch of conclusions / reconstruction / assumptions about what happened.
We experience the effect, and then identify the cause. In that order.
Once you really get this, you can create the effect that will bring about a certain cause.
Decide right now that conditions are right for you to be happy and that life is amazing, and the world eagerly throws a ton of support toward your viewpoint that life is amazing.
Start having fun and the party ensues. No fun, no party.
Be the person you would be if you had a boyfriend/girlfriend and you instantly wake up to all the boyfriends/girlfriends that are standing in line to fill the void.
To learn how to do something, do it. Do it, and you will learn how to do it.
Be a victim and the world will gleefully, ruthlessly victimize you.
You get the idea.
The back-story is a construct, created retroactively to support the now. Create the effect and the cause follows. Experientially, this is how the world works.
5. How to experience cause and effect.
To cause something: create the space, create the objects in the space, and create the time they exist in.
For example, throw a surprise birthday party for your friend — invite others to your house on Friday at 7 pm, order a cake, buy candles, manufacture a cover story for your friend to come over.
To experience the effect of something: create the space, create the objects in the space, create the time they exist in… and forget that you did it.
Think of this like rummaging around in the freezer and finding a lasagna you totally forgot you made a long time ago. It feels like a gift.
Or to take the birthday example, when you are the surprise birthday guest, be sure not to think about everything you did to be such a good friend as to inspire others to want to throw this party for you. Forget that you manifested it.
Basically, forget that you are The One and that you created all of this in order to have the richness of experience you’re having.
6. Our experience hinges on how responsible we feel for creating it.
Fear — scary movies and roller coasters—can be enjoyable since we’re aware we chose it. We caused it. Whereas fear-inducing things that happen to us, out of our control, tend not to be so pleasant.
Likewise, let’s say you tip a waiter a 10-spot, or toss it into a street musician’s guitar case. Well that’s a very different experience from losing that same $10 to a mugger, or a strong gust of wind.
So no wonder we gravitate toward being in control. However…
7. We experience the worst bad, as well as the best good (that’s better than we can conceive of), when it feels like it’s happening to us.
Things we ourselves cause to happen are never as bad as things that happen to us.
For example, you can’t tickle or torture yourself.
Likewise the best good things are also things that happen to us.
So the very best birthday party you can throw for yourself won’t be as good as the very best party that your friends, who know you inside and out, can throw for you. Precisely because your own party will always be limited to your conception. You’ll never be wow’d or blown away by it.
This means two things.
First, there is the potential for us to pleasure each other better than we are capable of pleasuring ourselves.
And second, in order to experience the best good that’s available to us, we must be willing to relinquish control.
As long as we retain control we limit the amount of good we can experience to only that we ourselves can cause. We block the full effect of what the world can deliver.