Vipassana is the art of focusing on the Process of living properly. Vipassana is the second most important thing to know in the world.

Vipassana is the second most important thing to know in the world. Vipassana is the art of focusing on the process of living properly. Vipassana, as a concept and practice, dates back to the earliest concepts and practices of Buddhism. The goal is to gain power over all things by gaining power over the mind. By controlling the thoughts that enter our minds, we can have more control over how those thoughts manifest in our behavior and our attitude. By being conscious of our thoughts, we can be aware of which thoughts are being pushed on us by outside forces – such as wants for status and wealth, versus those that we naturally come up with.

Vipassana is most often practiced by individuals that attend 10-day meditation retreats. During the 10-day retreat, the practitioner meditates for hours each day, does not indulge in any vice, conversation, or distraction of any kind, eats minimally and only for sustenance, and is to pay attention to each behavior that the individual engages in – whether that behavior is normally conscious or unconscious.

By bringing attention to not just the conscious behaviors but also the unconscious, we learn to focus on what we are doing at all times. By focusing on what we are doing at all times, we train our minds not to wander. When our minds don’t wander, they stay present on the activity we are doing. When we are fully engaged and focused on the activity we are doing, we receive the pleasure of not worrying about the past or future. Vipassana can be considered practical because we are more likely to excel at the task at hand if we are giving it our full attention. It can also be considered practical if we eliminate activities that do not benefit us through realization of what really matters.

Vipassana is so important because it is one of the few activities required for being happy. Worry, desire, and fear are three things that prevent us from being happy. These all necessarily require us to be thinking about the future. Worries and fears will only manifest in the future. Desires are things we want to obtain in the future. By living in the moment, we necessarily eliminate worry, desire, and fear. Regrets from the past cannot be undone. Vipassana eliminates regret.

When we eliminate worry, desire, and fear, we are happy. This requires rejection of external stimuli, a mind that is kept from distraction, and focusing on the present moment and any activity that is being done right now. When our mind wanders, we begin to think about future obligations. Those obligations are always means to satisfy our desires and eliminate worry. But fulfilling those obligations only makes us better at fulfilling obligations. It doesn’t make us better at ceasing to worry. Ceasing to worry happens by living intentionally in the moment, not in fulfilling obligations.

The only thing in life more important than Vipassana is the Buddhist concept of Samatha. Samatha is the calming of the mind. This is practiced by meditating, and can be practiced anytime. The concept of Samatha is to clear the mind of all thoughts, or at least get to a point where we don’t have uncontrolled thoughts.

It is only when the mind is calm that we can engage in Vipassana. We cannot concentrate on the present activity if we have an active mind that is full of constant thought. By practicing Samatha, we can calm the mind by training it to have fewer thoughts. This isn’t suppressing thoughts, it is an exercise we can do to have fewer thoughts that act as distractions from our lives. Instead of having numerous thoughts, we can control our thoughts by practicing Samatha.

In summary, Vipassana is important because it is necessarily required to live in the moment. Living in the moment is important because:

  • Focusing on each moment is important for peace of mind and understanding the right thing to do.
  • Happiness is found in the moment, where there are no worries, fears, wants, or regrets.

Vipassana is less important than Samatha, which is the most important thing to know in the world. Samatha is the calming of the mind. Only with a calm mind can one focus on each moment and, doing so, practice Vipassana. Because it is prerequisite for Vipassana, Samatha is more important.

Multiplicities of humans organizing via horizontally stratified rhizomes will overtake all existing centralized institutions within our lifetime

Multiplicities of humans organizing via horizontally stratified rhizomes will overtake all existing centralized institutions within our life. That’s a heck of a sentence, so let’s start by breaking it down before we get into why these rhizomes will take over.

Multiplicities are a large number of something – anything. In this case, large numbers of humans will organize into rhizomes. A rhizome is a concept based on a botanist term for an underground plant stem that extends horizontally to grow new roots and, at times, stem up to surface as a new, connected plant. The roots continue to extend horizontally, and the roots can form nodes, which send stems up to the surface. These roots and nodes can connect with other plants, or just continue to grow. This is in contrast to many plants which dig roots vertically to reach nutrition deep in the ground.

Like vertically reaching plant roots, most organizations are structured in vertical hierarchies. Institutions generally have owners and below them managers and below them workers. The workers do the actual building – the actual creating. Bosses and managers set direction and strategy for the workers.

There are many centralized institutions. Centralized institutions are any system where there is an oversight committee or gatekeeper in place to monitor and regulate the inputs or outputs. For instance, academia is centralized because there are federal and state requirements for both students and teachers dictating what must be taught and which students to allow. In banking, there are rules that dictate the flow of money and credit and interest rates charged. Even news organizations can be institutions if they have to comply with government regulation of content, or their ownership’s regulation of content.

In the next 50 years, these institutions will go away. The bosses and manager system will be replaced by less expensive and more-easily reached systems. Like the rhizomes, systems will be right under the surface, with quick access available for individuals. The future systems will be less expensive because people will be able to share their ideas directly with other people. Overhead will be eliminated. Also like rhizomes, the systems will be organized horizontally rather than vertically. This means that people will not organize themselves according to traditional hierarchies.

Traditional hierarchies will be destroyed as more people have access to more systems and more individuals. Consumers will have more options for the content they see and more choice in the source of products and services. Likewise, producers will have more options to create products and services for others. The big institutions are the current gatekeepers. Hollywood producers control the content that makes movies that people have access to, rather than it just being up to the people. News companies control content in newspapers, TV, and top news websites. Venture capital companies determine which companies get funding and, through funding, the ability to scale and reach a large audience.

While gatekeepers are incentivized to find great sources (people don’t want to watch, let alone pay for, bad movies), they aren’t as efficient as the completely free market, and they can insert their bias. The metoo movement started as a revolt against Hollywood gatekeepers that acted creepy because they held so much power over the careers of aspiring actresses. Political bias has had individuals (Gavin McInnes) and companies (Gab vs Microsoft) all but shut down by suppliers powerful enough to operate as gatekeepers.

These systems will be global in reach, and local in their availability. By eliminating these gatekeepers, more people will be able to reach an audience, regardless of their politics or gender. If no one gives them attention or money, it’s because no one thinks the individual is worthy of attention or money. Step your game up.

Technology such as Bitcoin and blockchain are making this possible. Bitcoin has the potential to eliminate banks and venture capital. This will allow more people to have access to funding and reaching customers. Not only are they means of removing institutional middle-men, but Bitcoin enables a lot of these other applications to work and to tear down institutions as well. By eliminating financial gatekeepers, individuals or companies can then bypass the corporate gatekeepers that would otherwise make them stick to their rules and boundaries in order to reach an audience. This is the case for modern movie and journalist content as well as products and services in the market.

Because of the burdensome overhead, there aren’t practical options to reach target customers. Music and movies must please the masses of they are going to make a profit. By removing the overhead and giving producers direct access to consumers, producers can profit if there are a small number of individuals that are interested in consuming their products – and those customers can be located anywhere in the world. This allows for more direct access to what consumers want, and what producers are good at creating.

In summary, multiplicities of humans organizing via horizontally stratified rhizomes will overtake all existing centralized institutions within our lifetime. This will happen because:

  • We will have more access to choices as funding becomes available. Through funding, we will be able to reach customers on a small scale, internationally.
  • As gatekeepers are eliminated, these will open up new job opportunities and business needs. These will not be filled by central institutions.
  • Technology, such as Bitcoin and blockchain, is enabling the overtaking of middlemen.

Christianity is literally true

Christianity is literally true. By that, the story of Christ in the New Testament is a story that actually happened. If a story has happened before, then it is true. Because the story of Christ happened, it is necessarily true.

Many people confuse the story of Christ with historical events. Not all the events in the New Testament necessarily happened in Jerusalem in the year zero. That doesn’t mean the story isn’t true. Every story in the New Testament is a story that happened, and continues to happen.

The story of Jesus is an archetypal story. That means that it is a typical story – one that happens frequently. Archetypal stories are told as lessons or warnings. They have happened before and are sure to happen again. If your story can end as a tragedy or a comedy, its best to align yourself with the right version. We can learn from archetypal stories because they are symbolic of what is possible, and they are easy to relate to, since we experience similar trials.

Jesus’ story is an archetypal example of the hero’s journey. The hero’s journey is the cycle of myth that Joseph Campbell documented. A man takes a risk by stepping into the unknown. He learns to make sense of the unknown, he conquers the fearful while undergoing a transformation of his spirit (becomes wiser), and returns from the unknown stronger and more prepared for the world.

Jesus ventured away from home at a young age. After his baptism, he goes into the desert and fasts for 40 days. He rejects pleasure and temptation during this fast. He then returns to the world to share his knowledge and recommend virtue to others. His teachings were rejected by many people. They didn’t just reject his teachings, they chose to silence him from preaching to those that wanted to listen. He continued to fight for what he most believed in – the spread of virtue. In the end, he was put to death in the most humiliating, extreme way possible. When he rose from the dead, he returned to the world to continue preaching virtue.

Jesus lived this journey that we all experience. We all are called to adventure at different points in our lives. We choose to accept to go into the unknown at some points, and those are the ones that change us. This could be going away to college to develop skills and gain knowledge. This could be a promotion to a new job position where we are initially unfamiliar with the requirements for success. This could be tackling an addiction.

This adventure can destroy us mentally and physically, or we can conquer that which is unknown. We can get fired from the job, fail our classes, and start drinking again. Or, we can excel in the new job and realign ourselves for the next promotion. Either way, we are changed in the process. We acquire new knowledge or skills which allow us to return to the known world better prepared for anything that can happen.

New skills or knowledge is required to return to civilization. Without it, the adventurer is unable to make sense of the unknown, and he is unable to return. If he is unable to return, the unknown either breaks him down until he is left with nothing, or he continues to try to learn and make sense of it. Like Jesus when he rises from the dead – we rise out of the struggle of an addiction or a new job where we are incompetent to a level of mastery over the known world. Our mastery could be over the known world of addiction, the new job, or virtue as a means to eternal joy.

Jesus’ story is both archetypal and significant to all of us, and it is also an extreme example. His story gives an extreme example of every major event that we all experience on our own hero’s journey. He chose the most extreme adventure – one that would seek eternal joy but kill him in the process. Likewise, we choose our adventure, and we face the same obstacles – temptation and fears, that Jesus faced.

In summary, Christianity is literally true. It is true because it happened. The story of Jesus not only happened once, but it happens all the time. It is the story we all go through as we venture into the unknown then acquire knowledge and wisdom to return stronger and more prepared for any events.

Human nature is mostly fixed, though human behavior can be modified via game theoretic incentives

Human nature is mostly fixed. This means that our likes, dislikes, and the things we show attention to are predictable. These qualities don’t vary from person to person, or group to group. Human nature evolved to be this way. Our psychology, which determines our nature, evolved just like any organ or limb in any animal. It evolved to maximize our ability to survive and reproduce.

It is in our want to survive and replicate on a genetic level that leads us to define what feels good, what doesn’t, and what deserves our attention. Basically, we are awarded, psychologically and chemically (by release of hormones that make us feel good), when we do things that move us towards more security and a better chance of survival, or closer to reproducing. The easiest example is sex. Sex feels good because it is a reward for doing what is in our biological interest – reproducing and passing on our genes.

Another example is our taste buds. We are awarded with a taste of sweetness when we bite into an apple. The sweetness tells us that the apple is an edible source of nutrition. We evolved to find apples attractive and also taste good.

Because human nature is largely fixed, we can modify behaviors by appealing to game theoretic incentives. Game theory is the study of mathematical models related to decision making by rational individuals. Game theoretic incentives are incentives that appeal to the rational decision maker.

The rational decision maker in a theoretical game model will make decisions that maximize his ability to survive and reproduce. By understanding the psychological drivers that determine how a human best secures survival and replication, human behavior can be predicted, since we are likely to act in ways that will maximize the two biological desires. Humans can also be incentivized to act in certain ways by playing off of the knowledge of how people are wont to act.

Going back to taste buds, it is possible to employ incentives that prey on our psychology and the wants we evolved to have. For example, we said apples taste good because they are sweet, which suggests that they are nutritious. Processed food companies prey on this behavior by creating very sweet foods that appeal to our taste buds. Our taste buds evolved to tell us what is safe to eat, and to award us when we choose correctly – such as in the case of an attractive and sweet apple. Our taste buds did not evolve to identify when manufactured food takes advantage of the sweet flavor and gives us good feelings without giving us nutrition. That is why people can be trained to return to a food that is extremely unhealthy for them – the chemicals being released in their body are pleasure chemicals. These pleasurable feelings suggest that what the person is doing is good, and that they should do this again.

Human psychology can be manipulated by employing tactics that appeal to our psychology. Positive feedback works better than criticizing faults because it engages pleasurable sensors.

Even sex can be manipulated. Men and women both evolved to find certain characteristics attractive in the other sex. For men, this means an attractive woman is young (fertile), healthy (not fat), and has hips and a butt (can deliver strong children). Women find a man attractive when he is wealthy (resources suggest survivability) and when he is intelligent and able to communicate that intelligence, which suggests that he is reproductively strong. Women wear makeup to make them look younger, clothes that eliminate the appearance of weight, and push the boobs up and their butts out. Men wear expensive watches and boast about their grades or employer. We seek to deceive not because we are bad people, but because we get rewarded for the behavior, which makes us feel not only like we have done no wrong, but that we are actually doing the right thing.

How do we know whether we are being manipulated by others that are preying on our deeply-ingrained nature? We must be objective about the world. We must not let our passions – whether positive or negative, blind us from what we are doing.

In summary, human nature is mostly fixed, because nature tells us what to like, dislike, and show attention to. Human behavior can be modified via game theoretic incentives because:

  • Incentives appeal to our fundamental psychology.
  • We can encourage and discourage behaviors that appeal to our psychology.

 

All humans have an inherent drive towards violence and dominance

All humans have an inherent drive towards violence and dominance. Like the positive attributes in humanity, some of this is biological, some of this is because of societal pressures.

We evolved to maximize two outcomes – our own survival and replication. In order to maximize this, we evolved to cooperate socially in order to build up a tribe – a community of people with similar interests that add to the collective strength and efficiencies of the group.

We also evolved to be competitive. We are competitive because we get energized by driving toward something – even if that thing is at the expense of others, and because we are rewarded for winning in competition. Being engaged in a task comes from this drive – this want to succeed. Being engaged in a task focuses the mind. Focus allows us to be present in the moment, which can be used to be productive and accomplish or to have fun.

We are also competitive because we are rewarded for winning in competition. This applies across all games – all opportunities to be competitive, and it applies interpersonally as well as socially. There are winners and losers in life. Some people live longer than others, one guy marries and has children with the hot chick, and one person’s company gets funded and goes on to make billions of dollars. This happens at the expense of others. One guy settles for a woman he sees as less attractive. Another dies early. Employees at one startup work hard for years but get crushed when they don’t get additional funds while a competitor does.

There are psychological rewards for success across any of these games. By “winning” we are given the satisfaction of a job well done. We reap fruits of the hard effort we put in. Accomplishment is a big motivator. It gives us meaning, and reinforces that we are valued by society when we do a good job. This allows to have confidence in what we do, which manifests in mental strength and more confident actions and decision making in the future. This is why positive reinforcement has been proven to be much more effective than negative reinforcement in order to get results.

Likewise, social rewards come in many forms. Socially, we can get public recognition for a job well done – such as our name in the newspaper, a bonus, or a pat on the back. In the sexual market, we are rewarded for being more attractive. If we are best able to communicate our ability to appeal to a woman’s want to survive and replicate, then we can be given access to sexual favors from that woman (or women). It is in this competition that we seek to be better than others. Humans will out-work and out-charm other humans at the expense of other humans.

Another aspect of competition is the jealousy and greed that emerges as a result. When people achieve and reap the rewards society has to offer, we look at them with contempt. It takes a wise man to be unfettered by the success of others. Jealousy is a very natural feeling. Jealousy emerges when we are not being rewarded by society at the rate of others. We become resentful because they pose a threat to our ability to appeal to the other sex, to money and resources, or the status of being a leader in the in-group.

Similar, greed is the obsession of the accumulation of things. This usually comes at the expense of others too. If someone controls wealth and power, they will be rewarded with sex, status, and control over others. These things feel good when they are experienced, and they reward with more material goods, which also feels good. Greed is a reinforcing loop that leads to more greed, which comes at the expense of others.

While jealousy and greed can motivate an individual to build the skills and knowledge necessary to climb a dominance hierarchy to achieve the status and wealth he set out to realize, there are downsides these traits. Jealousy and greed make us wanting of more. They reinforce that we are not good enough, or don’t have enough things, and in doing so make us want. When we want, we are necessarily not content with what we currently have.

Wars and acts of terror happen for these reasons. We feel threatened by another group, or we are greedy for resources that other people have. So, we seek destruction and dominance in order to satisfy our cravings, which can surface at an individual or a societal level.

When we aren’t content with what we currently have, we have two options. We can acquire more (status, things, etc). This is more likely to be chosen by people that are greedy and jealous, because they have been rewarded for their greed and jealousy in the past. The other option is to stop wanting. This requires psychologically detaching ourselves from the wants and needs of a given competition. Most of these competitions are externally pushed onto us. We can reject them, and learn to be happy with what we have.

Finally, human beings are inherently violent because we despise the routine. We hate being bored, and we actively seek things to interrupt what is normal. We get drunk after a good day (or bad day). We change sex positions into something more risqué. We travel somewhere we’ve never been.

If we were given a “perfect society”, where everyone was happy and received what they want and were also rewarded for their efforts, it would not take long for people to destroy the whole system. We would bring the perfect system to ashes because it’s boring. We crave adventure. We crave the disorder that keeps us interested and motivated to learn how to overcome that disorder – to create order out of chaos.

In summary, all humans have an inherent drive towards violence and dominance because:

  • We are competitive and compete for status and sexual favor.
  • We are jealous, manipulative, and greedy.
  • We despise the routine.

All humans have an inherent drive towards being loving and caring.

All humans have an inherent drive towards being loving and caring. We have a natural want to get along with other humans and to love others, and we are rewarded psychologically and socially when we do this. It makes us feel good when other people feel good, we have greater access to good things like sex, and we can be rewarded in business with more money.

Our genes evolved with distinct goals in mind. These goals shaped the psychology of humans, which manifests in our behavior. These are our primal drivers in life. There are two genetic drivers in life – survive and replicate. Genes, which do not contain the capacity for conscious thought, have a want to survive as long as they can, and to reproduce to ensure the continuity of that gene for generations. As genes work together to build a basic, non-thinking animal, those goals makeup the existence of the species. Even as consciousness develops through the growing brain, the ancient, animalistic part of our brains still have those desires hard-coded into our wiring.

All humans have a primal desire to survive and replicate. To survive means to not die. Our genes want to live as long as possible, and so do humans. We are afraid of death, even though it is natural and inevitable. We worry about the future, we have insecurities, and we get nervous because of the primal want to survive and not die.

A lot of this is biological. We evolved to get along with others. It is in our best interest for survival to be liked by others. To be liked by others is to not be excluded from the group. To be excluded means to have a smaller tribe, and to have a smaller tribe – especially in caveman times, meant to be exposed to more risks such as war by other (larger) tribes, fewer access to resources, and attacks by saber tooth tigers.

We want to replicate. To replicate, we need to have sex and multiply our genes through the production of offspring. To do this, men must have sex with a woman and she must keep his seed. The act is simple. If a man meets a girl in a bar and gets her drunk and has sex with her, his work is done. He is partly incentivized, psychologically, to do that. That’s why the act feels good. However, is also disincentivized from that have sex and never see her again behavior.

If a man leaves the woman he impregnates, he faces consequences from the law through child support payments and alimony. Even if those consequences weren’t enforced by the law, he would still face ostracization from his tribe – from his local community. To leave the woman with the responsibility is to be dishonorable on both an individual level, and on a communal level. He will not be trusted in the community and, from that, unable to participate in the local economy, unable to date or have sex with other women, and unable to maintain relationships with men. In this way, people are self-policing. One person can inflict harm, but he will be ostracized from his community and will have to establish himself somewhere else. It’s much easier and more beneficial to be a good person – and humans tend to like doing the easiest thing.

We enjoy when others are happy. Not only does companionship increase the strength of our local tribe in times of war, but we actually get a positive hormonal kick when we recognize that someone else is happy. A rising tide lifts all boats. We are rewarded, chemically, for making others feel good or, simply, by others feeling good. But, when others aren’t feeling good, we are rewarded for showing sympathy and care in order to change their mood and get them feeling good again.

This is why we have fun when we go to bars and parks to interact in a positive way with others. We enjoy when others are positive and happy, so we go to places that encourage that behavior. It’s “fun” to go to these places and see and be a part of people laughing, dancing, and sharing in common experience. Many times, the shared, common experience is reflecting on a work day where everyone hates their boss or traffic or the local football team’s rival that won the game on Sunday and beat the point spread. Even when the common experience is negative, it still brings people together to relate to each other and show sympathy for the common situation. We call it “happy hour” even when we say nothing happy at all.

Humans are rewarded in the economy when we get along and consider the care of others. This manifests in a couple ways. One, when we are trusted by others, others are more likely to do business with us and transact their goods and services for our own. In caveman days, that could be the initial segregation of duties. I’ll kill a bear for food, you build me a place to live. This economy only works if people trust each other. The economy in 2018 is built on trust also, it’s just less in-your-face. But we don’t return to businesses that we don’t trust. We don’t visit businesses with one star on Yelp, and we don’t visit businesses our best friend said stinks, because we don’t trust them.

The second economic incentive to love and care for others is that if we understand and have empathy for the wants and needs of others, then we can provide products or services to fulfill those wants and needs. We will be rewarded in the market for having empathy and the creativity to solve problems that others have. If many people share that problem, you can turn a profit. Even if only one person has the problem that you were able to solve, you did a good thing.

In summary, all humans have an inherent drive towards being loving and caring. This is because:

  • It is in our survival best interest because a tribe will defend us.
  • We feel good, physically, when others are happy.
  • We can be trusted in business transaction.