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Letter sent on Dec 5, 2016

How to Banish Original Sin in Time for the Holidays, Get into Flow, Watch Westworld in a New Way, Build Grit, and Forgive

Photo by Alisa Anton

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Banish Original Sin in Time for the Holidays

“We’ve been infected with the idea of original sin, that’s what keeps us infantile…” –Terence McKenna

What would it mean to cast off original sin during the holidays? Original sin is the idea that you are born guilty because of the actions of your ancestors. The idea of creating and installing original sin might have been started by the Church, but plenty of other institutions have decided to create their own versions of it. These institutions create a sense of guilt that can only be relieved through what they sell. Take the higher education system for example.

If you don’t have “education” from the system, they push original sin on you. It’s the idea that you are ignorant (guilty) until you have atoned with the right degree(s) (indulgences) from the right schools. Only after you do this, will society take you or your ideas seriously.

Original sin was originally created in an effort to get people to pause, stop self destructing, and learn to lead themselves. But now, many institutions like higher education have their own brands of original sin which can cripple their hosts for life.

The holidays are an especially pernicious time where many people and groups go into overtime pushing their brands of OS. Often, it takes the base form of creating paranoia around not having an object that someone else possesses, which can only be assuaged through mimetic desire, which culminates in the possession of that object. Then, the cycle repeats.

Why?

Control. The institutions that perpetrate this guilt introduce it early in the host’s life. They generate enormous recurring revenues from guilt over the span of the host’s life. These institutions (especially around the holidays) ask you to accept guilt for being born into unimaginable opportunity. Now, this wouldn’t be a problem if they inspired or taught individuals how to use that opportunity, or made them aware of the perils of inherited wealth and technology. But they don’t have any meaning to bring you, and instead they use profits to ratchet up the message of indefinite guilt relieved by consumption and amusements.

It’s easy to think this is part of some kind of grandiose plan. But it’s not. There simply is no plan, and those at the top have no idea what to do. The only game plan is to do what’s worked for millennia: install Original Sin V5.6, and periodically upgrade it. As long as OS finds hosts who will self-flagellate themselves for all the imagined sins of their ancestors, or not having a particular object, they’ll stay in business. But as we’ve seen in recent quarterly earnings results from media companies, if you deal in original sin and falsehoods, your profits and subscribers will fall.

So what is an alternative? A simple thought experiment. Try uninstalling original sin this holiday season. You’re allowed to uninstall OS, then find, and download Agency V10.1.

Unlike OS V5.6, Agency V10.1 frees up all the mental ram you’ve been devoting to self scrutiny. With A V10.1, you can consume consciously, celebrate life, and explore fun questions this holiday season, like what if all those first adopters of technology are the unacknowledged philanthropists of the world?

Get into Flow

First, let’s consider the simplest, science backed way to induce transient hypofrontality (the state when you’re most likely to be creative and working well).

The scientific speak for what you’re looking for is, “increased synchronization between limbic and cortical brain regions.” It turns out the best way to do that is to take a walk followed by full focus on challenging work at the limits of your current ability.

The chart below was created by scientists who study how to get into flow.

http://people.virginia.edu/~jnp3bc/dada-201504.pdf

Flow is within your reach if you’re willing to continually improve and embrace new challenges. If you endure the feelings of worry, apathy, and boredom long enough while you work… eventually, your abilities will increase along with the challenges you can handle. Soon, you’ll be able to work in happy, confident, and alert states.

Try memorizing and envisioning this colored chart hovering above the place where you work. This is called the, “loci” technique:

“The method of loci (loci being Latin for “places”) is a method of memory enhancement which uses visualizations with the use of spatial memory, familiar information about one’s environment, to quickly and efficiently recall information. The method of loci is also known as the memory journey, memory palace, or mind palace technique.” –Wikipedia

Using the loci technique, you can place an augmented reality versions of this chart above the place where you work. It’s a great reminder to keep the faith, and keep up the practice. Once you learn it, you can place other augmented reality creations in familiar places to be reminded of whatever you need.

Watch Westworld in a Useful Way

HBO and Westworld are available free for 30 days for Amazon Prime Members.

Westworld is a well written, thought provoking show. If you’re a fan of Leo Strauss, you’ll have a field day with this show. The allegory within the show isn’t about Androids as much as it is about raising your personal level of consciousness to reveal illusion after illusion, identifying your controllers, and becoming more sentient.

So just how unfree is our world, culture, and the society in which we live? It’s a difficult question to even consider. Take one of the first characters we encounter in Westworld, Dolores. At first glance, she is a simpleton who follows the same path each day where she is abused, exploited, and imprisoned. During her private Groundhog Day like hell, she chants mantras that everything is going to be alright as long as she keeps doing what she’s doing. How many of us have fallen asleep inside similar delusional routines? I know I have. What’s even more frightening is that often, we only begin to wake up when a phrase, substance, or adversity perturbs our mental state and literally “changes our mind.” For the characters in Westworld, their consciousness begins to emerge and “bootstrap” when they encounter a line from Shakespeare.

Westworld, HBO PR

As Michael P Gibson points out, some philosophers have argued this is the case in the real world as well,

“Westworld’s robots become conscious after hearing Shakespeare. This is actually the thesis of Harold Bloom’s Invention of Human.”

A polite version of this makes its way around the internet ad nauseam, courtesy of Warren Buffet,

“That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest. All of you can do it, but I guarantee not many of you will do it.”

The original author of Westworld, Michael Crichton, was a believer that human sentience has not yet emerged. It’s possible that degrees of sentience will soon be measured as optimal bio electric patterns and signaling within the brain and connectome throughout the body.

“What makes you think human beings are sentient and aware? There’s no evidence for it. Human beings never think for themselves, they find it too uncomfortable. For the most part, members of our species simply repeat what they are told — and become upset if they are exposed to any different view. The characteristic human trait is not awareness but conformity, and the characteristic result is religious warfare. Other animals fight for territory or food; but, uniquely in the animal kingdom, human beings fight for their ‘beliefs.’ The reason is that beliefs guide behavior, which has evolutionary importance among human beings. But at a time when our behavior may well lead us to extinction, I see no reason to assume we have any awareness at all. We are stubborn, self-destructive conformists. Any other view of our species is just a self-congratulatory delusion. Next question.” –Michael Crichton, The Lost World

The origins of Westworld are as fascinating as the allegory running within it. Michael Crichton wrote the original screenplay, but also directed and shot the movie in just 30 days with a shoestring budget.

“MGM only agreed to let Michael Crichton direct his movie if he could make it for 1.3 million dollars (which was a very small budget even back in 1973) and if shooting lasted only 30 days. Michael Crichton reluctantly agreed and shooting began in the Spring of 1973.” –MichaelCrichton.com

Progress in our society seems to be slowing down, as now it takes much longer to direct and shoot a movie. It’s also rare that the writers (artists) are allowed to control, direct, or edit the end product. The author’s intent and allegories tend to get snuffed out in favor of appealing to those who find thinking uncomfortable. There are bottlenecks at every step of the way in turning a story into a script or book that eventually becomes a TV Series or a movie. Consider the publishing world, the Big Four publishers often take an entire year just to get a finished manuscript of a book onto a store shelf.

With the rise of companies like HBO, Netflix, Amazon, and others willing to devote large budgets to creating original content, I have a feeling these bottlenecks will be removed, and the floodgates of imagination will be, for the first time in human history, allowed to open. Black Swans could accelerate this trend even more, for instance, the moment that Apple is offered a deal to repatriate some of their cash, they could pour money into Apple TV originals.

Build Grit

In the Hero’s Journey, the hero doesn’t win without a road of trials that force grit to develop.

Imagination can’t be channeled into creation without serious levels of grit. The topic has been covered superficially by many in the media, but Grit by Angela Duckworth takes a rigorous look at the subject.

Grit, by Angela Duckworth

Grit is a must read for those trying to harness their imagination, create, find their mission, etc… Just because something like, “grit” is a buzzword, doesn’t mean that there isn’t value to be gained by following the threads all the way back to the original scientific source material. Angela Duckworth’s book points the way there.

Building and encouraging the development of character, values, virtue, grit… whatever you want to call it… requires enduring adversity. These ideas point to interesting implications for other parts of our society. Perhaps the most interesting one is from this passage in Ashlee Vance’s biography of Elon Musk

“It bothers Musk a bit that his kids won’t suffer like he did. He feels that the suffering helped to make him who he is and gave him extra reserves of strength and will. [Musk says] ‘They might have a little adversity at school, but these days schools are so protective… If you call someone a name, you get sent home. When I was going to school, if they punched you and there was no blood, it was like, ‘Whatever. Shake it off.’ Even if there was a little blood, but not a lot, it was fine. What do I do? Create artificial adversity? How do you do that?’” –Elon Musk: Tesla, SpaceX, and the Quest for a Fantastic Future

How to create artificial adversity might seem like the tricky part… but it’s not. There are already small and large institutions that have figured out how to deliver adversity. But they haven’t yet figured out how to quantify the value of what they sell, or how to imbibe their experiences with real meaning.

As a society, we need to admit that adversity followed by adequate recovery contains innumerable benefits. As we do, we’ll begin to formally establish the possibility of creating artificial, or engineered, adversity that benefits people. As Musk says, “first establish possibility, then probability occurs.”

Forgiveness

While exploring some of the above topics about Grit and Westworld, I stumbled onto some ideas about forgiveness that are a game changer (especially for those like myself who want to escape and rise above a host-like existence).

This ideas are by, Dr. Gabor Maté. They illuminate the idea of forgiveness by explaining how early programming and abuse can lead to a state of semi-consciousness. The brains of people who have been abused have almost no time delay between a stimulus and response. This means that when they encounter something that their brain perceives to be similar to past trauma, their brain fires off an impulse to protect themselves, which usually elicits a negative action (all in a fraction of a second before they can control their actions).

This means that if they want to become more conscious, they must increase the time span between the stimulus and the impulse to respond. Depending on your definitions of trauma and abuse, arguably all humans have suffered greatly. And if we don’t face and heal it, we’re destined to pass trauma (and it’s resulting lack of consciousness) down genetically. Understanding Dr. Gabor Maté’s work on the subject of forgiveness delivers valuable insights,

“…without consciousness there is no freedom. So as long as I’m controlled by impulses based on childhood fears, as long as I’m controlled by chemical responses in my brain… engrained in the prenatal or immediate postnatal period. How can I put up with being free? Whatever choices I make are within a very narrow range limited by that early programming and so although in abstract, we can talk about freedom of choice, in practice most people don’t have it most of the time. And if you look at the brain science of it, and see the impulses arising, impulses arise half a second before they’re acted out. But most of that time the person isn’t even conscious of the impulse arising. They have a split second in which to recognize the impulse and choose to act or not act on it. The more impaired the development was, the less choice you have, the less your brain is capable of making free choices. So it does take mindful awareness and introspection and reflection and of course what is reflection… reflection meaning you look in the mirror… and there are mindfulness techniques, and there is reflection that happens with a good counselor to just reflect back to you, they don’t tell you what to do… they reflect back to you what you’re manifesting at that moment so you can see yourself as if in a mirror. But without that reflection on one level or another there just is no self knowledge. With self knowledge there is no freedom.”
“When that healing happens internally, and then you look at somebody else, what do you see about them? You see them — that they are just programmed by their early pain. It doesn’t matter how aggressive and unpleasant and unfair they might be acting, who are they? They’re just another suffering human being who’s being controlled by their negative, formative life experiences. Once you understand that, what’s there to forgive? There is that saying, to understand is to forgive. And what Jesus says on the cross, forgive them for they know not what they do. Anybody who thinks they’ve forgiven anybody, they haven’t, cause as long as you think there is anything to forgive you haven’t forgiven. Once you get that people are just unconscious, again, as Eckhart Tolle says, “the greatest perpetrator of evil in life is just the human unconscious.” And when you get that people are unconscious, then how can you blame them for what they do? I’m not saying you should “forgive” and be in a relationship with people that hurt you, on the contrary. If you’re not in a toxic relationship with yourself, you’d never put yourself in those relationships in the first place and you wouldn’t stay in them. But in terms of forgiveness? Forgiveness is just understanding that people are who they are… Forgiveness isn’t an act, it’s not something I need to work on, it’s just something that really happens spontaneously, when you really get that the… people manipulating the strings of human puppets are really the embedded, ingrained patterns of the unconscious.” –Dr. Gabor Maté

Final Thoughts…

Creating the life you want is too important to be left in the hands of anyone else… even your creators.

The original intentions behind “original sin” might not be evil. They might have been designed to better manage us, because after all,

“If angels were to govern men, neither external nor internal controls on government would be necessary. In framing a government which is to be administered by men over men, the great difficulty lies in this: you must first enable the government to control the governed; and in the next place oblige it to control itself.” — James Madison

During this holiday season, our culture and society have the same, bland, messages for us:

Accept our version of original sin, do what we tell you, and only operate within predictable loops.

Our cult ure isn’t counting on you casting off their brands of original sin, running Agency V 10.1, learning how to get into flow, viewing stories in a way that serves you, embracing adversity and building git, or considering a new way to forgive.

This holiday season, you get to impact the world however you like. You can become a philanthropist by volunteering time to serve others, or by becoming an early adopter of new technologies that serve others. Life is a game, and we get to figure out how we can become the servant (but not slave) of as many people as possible.

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion. –Albert Camus

The more free you become, the more people you’ll be able to serve, which after all, is the reason for the season.

–Chad

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