Living in a cave doesn’t make you a saint

I’m quite certain there will be misunderstandings regarding my last article, so I’ll explain things a bit.

I originally started this explanation by stating how you need to focus on God and not on what you need to do in the world, because if you have a connection with God, the world will not be able to overwhelm you. However, I decided it’s too abstract a concept for most people, and this needs to be explained somewhat differently, because for those people who didn’t experience either darshan or samadhi, God is a vague and abstract concept, something that can hardly outweigh the very real evils of this world.

On the other hand, I occasionally write about computers and show the equipment I’m using exactly in order for people not to think that I recommend living in a cave and eating nettle brew like Jetsun Milarepa.

So, what do I mean when I talk about withdrawing investments of your energy from the world? It means you don’t expect the world to do anything. It doesn’t have to be good, it doesn’t have to be evil, and it’s not your duty to make it different. You were put here for unknown reasons, and what you have to do is be yourself, remember God and don’t get lost. You don’t project your hopes into some future better life. You don’t fear future evils. What you need to do is live in such a way, that it doesn’t interfere with your efforts to remember God and not get lost.

Now, if you ever had a vision of God, and tried to maintain it in your consciousness, you will know that it’s incredibly difficult. Every evil or ignorant action will extinguish it immediately. Every unfocused action, every automatic reaction to a blow that came from the world, and it’s gone, you can’t remember God anymore. You address someone automatically, in a way inconsistent with God’s presence, and you lose God. Essentially, in order to just maintain that one singular condition that I mentioned, you need to become a saint, a living presence of God in the world, or you will fail.

The next thing to have in mind is that the result of this exercise will not be the same for all people. Dressing yourself up to be acceptable to God, and modifying your behavior to be the vehicle for your meditation on God will be vastly different for different people. As a result, some will attempt to be liked and approved of by God. Some will attempt to think God’s thoughts. Some will feel and manifest God’s will. Complete withdrawal from the world, or complete hostility towards the world, or an attempt to act in such a way as to remind other beings of God and show them the way out by personal example, by being outside while inside, those can all be the results of this kind of meditation. The saints are not rubber-stamped from the same template, they are original solutions to the common problem, based on the same general approach: be of God while in the world, and have your eternal destiny in God, not the world. And yes, it can look as if you’re trying to enrich the world or make it better or what not, but that’s merely a corollary, and you’re not investing your energy in the world, you’re corroding the evil nature of the world by remembering God’s light and beauty amidst this ugliness and horror. God’s presence doesn’t enrich hell, it negates it. Negate ugliness with beauty, negate impotence with power, negate poverty with wealth, negate ignorance with knowledge, negate cruelty with kindness, negate injustice with justice, negate lies with truth. This can appear similar to Jordan Peterson’s concept of making it worthwhile, but it’s the focus on God, on the transcendental reality, that makes the difference. You’re not trying to make world a better place, you’re trying to live in a way that reminds you of God, and thus create a small island of heaven amidst hell. You don’t use your own strength, your own energy: you invite God into your life and surround yourself with His holy presence. You hold on to His light, and never let go. You do things in the world that need to be done, all the while trying to maintain His holy presence in your awareness, thoughts and actions, because it’s what you do in the little things that determines your destiny. Awareness of God is how you wash the car, pet the cat, shop for groceries, apply thermal paste to the CPU, write code, wash the dishes, cook, have sex, walk, run and sleep. Renunciation is not a mere absence of things, where you live in a cave and eat nettles, it’s the way you do things – you don’t abandon God so that you could pet the cat, you abandon the world and see God through the cat, surround the cat with God. Essentially, if you renounce the worldly nature of things, you can do anything in God. There isn’t that much difference between a house and a cave, and nettles and a steak; both show your physical inability to live without food and shelter, and you need to work hard just to remain alive, in both cases, and if you can be godless in a house, believe me, you would be as godless in a cave. Poverty and physical renunciation don’t impart holiness on their own, nor do riches negate holiness on their own. It’s meditation on God, or forgetfulness of God, that either create or negate holiness. This world is not passive – it will actively fuck with you, and you need to actively resist it by focusing on God, who is your desired destiny and salvation. Meditation doesn’t just happen, it’s a war against the forces of darkness, where by invoking the names and attributes of the Lord of Light you punch a hole in this damn place, and establish a foothold of God’s presence on the territory of Satan. And it’s not your energy and effort that makes it possible, and the effort doesn’t exhaust you or bind you – it’s only a choice that is yours, a choice to allow God into your life, one small piece at a time.

And unlike the investments of energy and effort into the world, the results of this path remain forever.

 

Let it go

I watched a recent Jordan Peterson interview on the Joe Rogan show:

Other than agreeing with the common sense stuff that he’s saying, I found one particular issue that bothers me.

Essentially, what Dr. Peterson says is that life is full of suffering, but one needs to find a positive purpose to dedicate one’s life to, that will outweigh the cumulative burden of suffering contained in one’s life, and make it subjectively worthwhile.

My problem with this is that it starts with the first noble truth of Buddhism, that life is wrought with suffering, but then comes to the opposite conclusion, basically that one needs to invest even more energy into his relationship with the world, not noticing the causal relationship between the investment of spiritual energy into the world, and suffering.

So, what was Buddha’s answer to this problem, if we put aside the four noble truths thing, which nobody seems to understand properly? Buddha’s answer is, basically, that there are several components to the human experience, and the result of their interaction is suffering. First component is the world as such – it exists in a way that is extremely conducive to suffering if you get entangled in it. Second component is misunderstanding, where the world is seen as something that will give you desirable results; this is also known as projection of one’s spirit and goals into the world. Third component is inertia, where you tend to repeat the same mistakes that got you entangled in this mess in the first place; essentially, you react to painful experiences by investing more energy into the world, in attempts to make it all better, the way a gambler tries to cover his past gambling debts by making increasingly larger and more dangerous bets.

And this is why Dr. Peterson’s argument bothers me, because it sounds like very dangerous advice, from my perspective, and I think Buddha would agree. He’s not the first one who came up with this idea – it’s the main mechanism that increases spiritual entanglement and increases harm to the point of total spiritual exhaustion and destruction. Essentially, the people who are totally desperate because of suffering already tried investing increasingly more into the world, to the point where they are left with nothing but humiliations, pain and karmic debt. So what do you say to such a person – oh, you should try and project more energy into the world, invest more, make another high stakes bet that will make it all good? I don’t think it’s a good idea.

I know that non-Buddhists, and non-Hindus for that matter, will find my argument unconvincing, because the workings of karma and energy-investment will be foreign to them, but in that case I will refer to Christianity. It was Jesus’ opinion that the worldly battle is already lost and that one should not even attempt to play it – let the dead bury their dead. Build on solid rock, not on sand. Don’t gather wealth of the kind that is consumed by rust and moth. Put your faith in God, make God your goal, project your fulfillment into the kingdom of God, not into the kingdom of man. Don’t try to keep this life, because you will lose it; give it up, and get true life in eternity. You see my point?

Both Śakyamuni and Jesus start with the same basic assumption as Dr. Peterson, that this life is wrought with suffering, and that this can break one’s spirit quite easily. It’s the solutions that differ. Jesus says, put your faith in God, not in this world, because this place will kill you. Don’t resist evil, don’t strike back, carry your cross calmly to the place of execution, follow me. Buddha says, follow the path of renunciation and detachment. Release, don’t hold. Don’t retaliate. Feel the pain, allow it to flow through you, and release your hold over the world, because it will poke and prod you to increase your grip, to invest more, to try to fix problems, to try to cover pain with pleasure, and it doesn’t work, because the solution doesn’t exist in this world, the solution is nirvana, the calm ocean of spirit that is indifferent to anything this world has to offer or threaten with.

Sure, it’s quite easy to follow this advice all the way to despondency and depression. If you don’t strike back at injustice, you will feel hurt, helpless, worthless. If you don’t try to do good in response to evil, what will you do? Choose emptiness? Those are valid arguments. One would think Buddha and Jesus thought of them, but surprisingly they haven’t, and you know why? Because you might think and feel that this world is the only one, or the best one, or the real one, but they knew better. Their advice wasn’t for people who live in a real world, it was for video game addicts, who will moan and bitch about their scores and levels and virtual gadgets going to waste, and the advice of the enlightened ones is, in the immortal words of Queen Elsa of Arendelle, “let it go”. Just let it go, let it die, don’t retaliate, don’t try to invest in yet another round of bets that will cover your prior losses. Turn around and leave. It’s not the real world, in fact you are more real than the world. The world isn’t giving you anything, in fact you are keeping it alive with your investment of energy. Withdraw, become aware, remember God, enter nirvana, regain your inner equilibrium, realize that the fulfillment you seek is beyond the confines of this place and is possible only in God. That’s what they are telling you, and that’s what I kept telling everybody until I bored myself to tears with repetition. So that’s my issue with Dr. Peterson’s roadmap for humanity – it doesn’t see past the confines of this world, and if you apply it as recommended, it is more likely to doom you than to rescue you, because the solution to being stuck in a hole isn’t to start digging more vigorously. At least if you’re not smart enough to start cutting a staircase into the walls of the well.

 

About immigration and shitholes

The leftists had a fainting spell over Trump’s qualification of certain places in the world, from which people want to immigrate into America, such as Mexico, Syria, or Caliphate of Lower Takfiristan (also known as ISIS), as shitholes.

This comes after they already had a crying spell over poor immigrants who live in hellish conditions in various shitholes and need to be allowed to immigrate into America, because compassion, big heart and all sorts of bullshit.

Make up your fucking minds, because you can’t have it both ways. Either all places are equal and there are no shitholes (removing the need for immigration), or some places are shitholes and there is a need for emigration from there but then you:

  1. can’t whine about Trump calling them shitholes because that’s what they are, and
  2. can’t whine about Trump imposing strict regulations on immigration from shitholes, because all sorts of bad people live there and you need to be careful whom you let in.

So which one is it, then?

The next issue is, if those places are shitholes, and people who emigrate from Shitholistan into America don’t assimilate, and instead try to change America to make it more like their beloved Shitholistan, that could be a problem.

If those places are not shitholes, and all people and places are equally wonderful, stop all immigration immediately because it’s pointless.

Also, if you object to places being qualified as shitholes, stop trying to qualify parts of America that voted Republican as shitholes. How about that, eh?

My desktop computer

Since I already started talking about computers, I’ll tell you what I’m using.

This is my desktop PC:

I built it myself, as I always do; I optimized it for silence first and power second. Silence wise, it’s built in Fractal Define C case, with Seasonic FX 850 Gold PSU in hybrid mode (which means the fan is off until it is really needed), there’s a huge CoolerMaster 612 v2 CPU cooler which is massive enough that the fan doesn’t really need to spin fast unless I’m pushing it. The GPU is Asus ROG Strix 1080ti, which is silence-optimized so the fans don’t spin at all in normal use, and even under full load all you hear is a whisper.

The CPU is a i7-6700K with 32GB RAM, SSD drives and a HDD. In normal use, the HDD’s whisper is everything I hear; the fans are tuned to work below audible threshold. Under full load, the fans are set up to get rid of heat as quickly as possible, silence be damned, and the top of the case is a dust filter, so hot air can rise up via convection, and since this is an effective method, the fans are never really that loud.

This is my desk. The monitor is LG 43UD79-B, the 108cm 4K IPS unit, which is the reason why I had to upgrade the GPU; Lightroom was rendering previews very slowly in this resolution, and since this operation is GPU-driven, I got the overkill GPU, and once I did that, I said what the hell and got the Logitech steering wheel so I can use it as a racing sim. The keyboard is Roccat Suora FX mechanical RGB, the mouse is Logitech G602. The microphone is Rode NT USB unit, which I use for skype. You can see the 15″ Macbook pro on the left, and misc gadgets and remotes on the right.

The machine runs Windows 10 as host, and several virtual machines with different configurations; the main one is Ubuntu Trusty Mate which I use for writing scripts and all the Unix work. The main reason why I got such a big monitor is so that I can always have one eye on the work-related chat on the right, while I do other things on the left. Also, I like the way my photos look on a really big screen, which approximates print size of a meter in diagonal. The entire rig is hooked to a UPS, so I don’t have to worry about losing work due to power outages or spikes, which, fortunately, happen only once or twice a year on average.

Essentially, this is a rig that “just works”, and it’s where I spend most of the day.

The era of a super-desktop PC

I read something interesting in a computer magazine, I don’t know exactly when, late 1980s, early 1990s perhaps, that the concept of a “home computer” is going to become obsolete, not because there won’t be any home computers, but because there will be too many for the term to make any sense – like, which one, the one in the microwave, in the TV, in the HVAC thermostat, in the networking router… and it actually went farther, so now we have not only the computerized appliances, but also computers in many shapes and user-interface paradigms; voice-controlled watches, phones, tablets, tablet-laptop hybrids, laptops, all-in-one desktops and conventional desktops, gaming consoles, and also the super-desktops, also known as either workstations or gaming PCs.

The super-desktop is an interesting category, because it’s usually called just the “PC”, the same as an ordinary unit found in businesses, the word/excel machine, but it’s a wholly different beast, of the kind that was known in the past as either a supercomputer, or a desktop minicomputer, also called graphical workstation. You see, when something can drive several TV-sized 4K displays, run multiple virtual machines at once with no lag, render movies, or process terabytes of other kinds of data, it’s no longer in the same category of things as a machine that is of nominally the same shape, running the same OS, but is weaker than one of its virtual machines.

So, what is a super-desktop, or a “gaming PC”, as they are euphemistically called? What is a machine that can drive an Oculus Rift VR system? The most honest description is that it is an alternative reality creation device. It creates simulated universes you can interact with and join. If you run a car racing simulation and you wear Oculus VR goggles, and especially if you have one of those seats that re-create mechanical shocks, you are essentially joining an alternate reality where you participate in a very convincing and physical activity, much more so than a dream, for instance.

So, what is the main difference between this and an ordinary computer that can play immersive games? Only quantity, but the thing is, if you increase quantity far enough, it becomes a quality of its own. If you increase the mass of an asteroid enough, it becomes a planet. If you increase the mass of a planet enough, it becomes a star. If you increase the mass of a star enough, it becomes a black hole. It’s the same thing as with human brain – add more neurons and suddenly completely new phenomena start taking place. Have only a few, you have a worm. Add more, you have a fish. Add more, you have a frog. Add more, you have a lizard. Add more, you have a rat. Add more, you have a monkey. Add more, and you get a man, and suddenly it’s no longer just the mass-equivalent of many worm ganglia together, it’s the phenomenon that can launch robots on Mars, fly cameras near Pluto, observe the beginnings of the Universe, break matter in ways in which only supernovae do, and even know God.
A super-desktop computer is not just a PC, and a PC is not just a glorified Commodore 64. It’s a machine of such power, it can add another dimension to human experience. It can immerse you in a realistic alternate reality where you drive supercars on race tracks, fly fighter jets, or fight dragons. It can literally provide you with a dynamically generated, interactive sensory input, which is a definition of an alternative reality. But there is a danger to that. Alternative reality is another name for illusion, and having such powerful illusion-creating devices at your disposal can allow you to add another layer of indirection between your consciousness and reality.

If it allows you to escape from issues that you are supposed to face and solve, it can also allow you to waste your life. There’s only one tool at our disposal that can do that, and it’s called drugs. Drugs can allow you to escape real issues and bury yourself in a world where there is reward without necessity for achievement. Powerful computers can become a drug-equivalent, a wish fulfillment tool which removes the necessity of achievement from the equation. As all powerful tools, they can really fuck your life up. Also, as all powerful tools, they can allow you to do more and better things.