Why people fail at spirituality

People fail because they don’t actually want to succeed.

That sounds weirdly counter-intuitive, and they will forever protest against that statement, citing this or that reason or obstacle – either the spiritual technique isn’t working, or the guru isn’t “authentic” enough, or something else. Basically, they will change philosophies, religions, gurus and techniques ad nauseam, and the only things they will “improve” at are arrogance and cynicism.

When I say they don’t actually want to succeed, I mean that the professed goal of their practice is often different from the actual one. The professed goal is to “attain enlightenment” or “find God”. The actual goal might be to feel like you’re better than other people, so you’re creating a system of values that places you at or close to the top, with little effort. That’s why religious cults are famous for being a refuge for losers; outside, you’re nothing, but inside, you’re a bhakta of the Lord, or one of the “saved ones”, or whatever they think of themselves. It’s always easy: modify behaviour, change language, sometimes change outward appearance, eat vegetarian food, believe in the official doctrine, and you can pretend to be spiritual. It’s something that is easily done, provides great ego-boost, and the reason why people continue this charade often for decades is, basically, because they leave only when the price of continuing becomes greater than the price of letting go. Everything is measured in ego-stimulation or ego-trauma; what will people think or say, how will they perceive you, what will be your perceived social status. It’s probably wrong to say that those people don’t attain spiritual goals – it’s more accurate to say that they define spiritual goals in different terms than one would normally expect. If your goal is to feel great because your community thinks highly of you, and you mistake that feeling of ego-affirmation for spiritual bliss or something, and you genuinely have no goals other than to attain an even greater degree of this feeling, you won’t see this either as a spiritual wrong turn, or as a costly mistake. Someone like me might see it that way, but from your perspective, you’re doing great and I’m just jealous of your great success at spirituality. Only when the degree of ego-stimulation wanes will you actually start using your intellectual faculties to re-assess your situation, because if it feels good, you’ll just continue doing it. But when you’re on the bliss-high, the only “spiritual work” you’re doing has the function of increasing your stature within your community. The concept of actually deconstructing your desire-structure and other self-perpetuating patterns, of seeing how you use your energy to power ideas, to test moving your mental energy to different things, withdrawing it, increasing the strength just to test control, that’s not something you actually do. If spirituality is “a thing” in your social network, the social network is the primary interest, and “spirituality” could be cars, computers, guns, or breeding exotic animals, for all it matters. So, if you’re failing, you need to really honestly think about what you are actually trying to do. When people don’t make progress at something, it usually means they are quite content with their present situation, and they don’t see anything that’s so bad that it would require great sacrifice and effort to change. If they wanted to join a religious organization for the feeling of community, belonging to a group and having a common purpose, and they attained that, I’m not necessarily going to perceive their situation as “failure”. I would perceive it as failure only if their goal was to actually gain experience of the transcendental reality, to gain insight into their own spiritual momenta and attain power over themselves and spiritual states and energies in general. But if that’s not the goal, then not attaining it is not failure, it’s Tuesday.

American circus

I’m back from Hvar, and I must admit I’ve been naughty and occasionally went online to check the news, or, to be accurate, to check how the American civil war v.2.0 is going. Honestly, the amount of outright madness I’ve seen was enough for even me to grab my head in “what the actual fuck” moments.

One of the biggest WTF moments was the realization that the stock prices are in inverse proportion to the state of the economy, basically the worse the economy is doing, the more the stock prices are surging. That’s because the federal reserve bank essentially promised to buy out the failing companies, so the greater likelihood of a bankruptcy, the greater the likelihood of a fed bailout, which is then expected to raise the stock price and people are buying in anticipation. However, that’s the point where America kissed the free market goodbye, essentially transforming their entire economy into something so entirely state-controlled and regulated, that China looks like free market heaven in comparison. Essentially, they broke the fundamental of the free market capitalist economy, which is that stock prices reflect profitability of the company itself. As of now, the stock prices reflect only the expectation of state intervention. However, if everything on the market is broke and requires state intervention, it reminds me of something I’ve already seen before, which is the state of the economy in Yugoslavia before the collapse, where the main points of political contention were the big companies that employed lots of people and couldn’t be allowed to fail, so state money was continually pumped into them to compensate for the losses, and since the state itself was not productive, meaning it couldn’t come up with enough actual money for this process of fixing broken industry instead of being propped up by the productive industry, it resorted to printing money, which caused a devastating hyperinflation that at least contributed to, if not outright caused the collapse of the Yugoslav state. People can point at nationalism as the cause of the breakdown all they want, but, as in the Soviet Union, the surge of nationalism was preceded by a serious economic crisis – currency collapse, shortages and the basic inability to make a living from honest work, because prices were adjusted daily, and salaries were adjusted monthly. After a few years of survival in such a devastated economy, people tend to just throw in the towel and say “fuck it, I’m done with this”, and they want things to change. Basically, the nationalists say that the big federal state is to blame for all this, which is of course true, and promise to make it all better by tearing it all down and reclaiming the statehood on the smaller, national units, which of course is a fallacy but at that point of economic exhaustion the people just aren’t interested in that kind of nuance. They want things to change, and immediately, because their condition is unbearable. Essentially, when you have a situation where the economic condition of the majority of the population is unbearably bad, any sufficiently organized political force that offers some way out might cause complete breakdown and disintegration of a large federally organized state, especially if one part of the federation has reason to believe that the other part is taking advantage of them and causing their problems, so political solutions are no longer possible. In Yugoslavia, Slovenia and Croatia had good reasons to believe that they were being systematically economically degraded by Serbia, which controlled the central government and used their productive economies to prop up unproductive parts of the country, basically bleeding them for money that should have been used to improve their own infrastructure and living conditions. In America, there is a very narrow segment of the population that lives in New York and California, that controls the entirety of the flow of money, and is perceived to bleed the rest of the country dry, creating the impression where work of an investment banker is worth millions of dollars a month, while work of a normal middle-class person is worth a few thousands a month, and the situation is getting even more extreme as a function of time. You can’t convince me that the work those stock market people are doing is actually that much more valuable than work of some engineer that designs sophisticated machinery or electronics; rather, they are the ones in the control room of the financial system and they are exploiting its weaknesses to make most of the money that’s in circulation circulate in dead loops where they bleed this mass for percentage points, and this money never gets to be invested in the actual economy, because that’s seen as “risky” and slow. This makes the entire economy ungrounded, like a tree that’s all branches and no roots, because roots are seen as “unproductive” and the branches are the sole measure of success. Essentially, if your company stock price is seen as the sole measure of value, and your engineers and workers are seen as a liability because they just cost money, you get started on a vicious cycle where you fire your most expensive workers, basically the engineers that design the product, and you hire marketing people to boost sales, and you get loans that are invested not in the actual development and manufacturing, but in buying your own stocks, which will raise the stock price as the sole measure of value. Then you get a company that is an empty shell containing only debt and salespeople, and the problem with this is that every single company on the market has to adopt the same measures in order to keep up with the competition that would otherwise obtain better financial indicators, thus getting preferential access to credit and, thus, a lever that would give them a huge competitive advantage. This also means that the risk-assessment in the banking sector is tuned to prefer the bigger companies, to the point where all the money is sucked into a dark tornado cloud of the biggest companies, while the small and medium sized businesses are seen as “high risk”, because they actually are dealing with the free market and they have free market issues, which the banking system sees as the messy cesspool of risk and non-compliance, so when the government wants to make an infusion of money into businesses, you need to understand what happens. The state does it through the banking system: the central bank prints money and offers a cheap loan to the commercial banks that then resell it to the businesses. Since the bank can’t just set aside its normal risk management and compliance procedures just because the politicians want to help small businesses, what actually happens is that the bank’s risk department does a SQL query on the table of companies asking for loans, sorting them by risk overhead, ascending, and spending all the money on the top 5 or 10 claimants, of 100000. Those 5 are always the bank’s existing clients, and the ones that are the biggest, and with the biggest extant loans. So, that’s why the government can’t even theoretically help the small businesses – the entire mechanism is already rigged to suck all the money into the biggest companies, and it can’t be modified just because someone said so. It’s actually illegal for the banks to go against the recommendations of their risk departments, so, whatever the politicians say about propping up small and medium businesses, for the most part they are either deceiving you or they don’t know what they are talking about, because it technically can’t be done. What can be done is to reduce the taxes, because that’s not done through the banks, but through the revenue service. However, as a rule, the taxes don’t really go down, so such measures are short lived.

So, when the communists tell you that this quagmire is evidence that capitalism is a corrupt system, I don’t really know what they are talking about, because true free market capitalism is practiced only by the group that is almost completely excluded from this entire corrupt charade: by the small and medium business owners and freelancers. They are engaged in a no holds barred cage fight with the competition, where they have to struggle through increasingly limiting and pointless “state regulations”, and they can’t get loans from the banks because what they do is “high risk”. The part of the market where all the money is, meaning the feedback loop between the federal reserve bank, the commercial bank, big business and the politicians, is a state-regulated, state-controlled fraud scheme in which companies race to go bankrupt first because then they get to be bailed out by the state, which cleans up their liabilities and toxic assets and makes them all shiny and new, and the bill for this entire thing is of course served to the general public and the next generations, because all those government bonds issued to fund all the money printing are going to mature eventually, although it’s obvious that nobody really takes the option of actually servicing all that debt seriously. Right now, they are printing money like crazy while it’s still perceived to be worth something, they are using it to suck up all the resources from the economy, and when it all collapses they’ll just reset the system. Basically, the entire thing can be seen as a financial equivalent of a thermodynamic system which pumps energy from the coldest part of the system (the poorest part of the population) into the hottest part of the system (the wealthiest part of the population). The game ends when it reaches the point where all the resources have been sucked away from the 99% of the population and the top 1% has all the worthless monopoly money, and of course all the actual resources which they obtained with the said money before it became worthless.

Perhaps the most toxic part of the entire problem is that the system collapses with some regularity, and with each cycle the politicians claim that it collapsed because there wasn’t enough state regulation, so they introduce additional layers of regulation, which is of course muddy water in which the biggest players navigate most easily because they can afford whole legal departments to deal with it, while the small businesses are increasingly crippled by the need to deal with all this unproductive administrative junk, and this also means that the banks are less likely to give them loans, because of the stringent risk and compliance procedures. This means that with each cycle of regulation, the system is increasingly more rigged to favour the biggest players and to extinguish the free market capitalist part of the economy. In turn, this means that every cycle makes it more profitable to play with money and regulations than to do anything actually productive, which basically means that the regulations that are intended to make the system less corrupt in fact make it more corrupt. You can’t explain that to the common people, who think that state regulations exist to save them from the evil capitalists who “want to break the law and thus cause the market crashes”. In fact, the feedback loop between the state, the banks and the biggest companies is the problem, and the laws and regulations are a toy for the stupid masses. Basically, what the stupid masses believe is that a private doctor needs to be “regulated” in order for them to be safer. In fact, when a private doctor is “regulated”, it means he has to spend most of his time filling forms to comply with regulations, which makes him spend less time with patients and charge them more money for it to be able to pay for the government-imposed overhead, which makes the quality of his service less valuable and more expensive, essentially making people the opposite of safe. A doctor that fills forms instead of dealing with sick patients does not improve patient health and safety. Replace “doctor” with any occupation and you’ll get the same result; the regulations degrade the quality of service across the board, making things cost more and be worth less, but they are almost impossible to remove once they are in place because people are stupid and they have been made to believe that all those evil capitalists are out there to get them, and the thick book of regulations and the government imposing them are the only thing that saves them from doom. Also, there is a huge difference between what certain laws and regulations are in their essence, and how they are marketed to and perceived by the general public. Anti-money-laundering laws, for instance, are perceived as something that is meant to prevent the mafia from using money that originated from various forms of crime, in order to finance “clean” investments. That’s how it was marketed to the general public. What it’s actually about is the state wanting to assure that it can raise taxes as much as it wants, and you can’t move the money to an offshore company where the taxes are normal, in order to avoid being robbed by a state that ran out of money due to its fiscally imprudent practices and demagoguery (basically buying voters with tax money), and decided to introduce a demagoguery law stating that the evil kulaks took and hid all the money which is why people are poor, and the good state now needs to find and bleed all the kulaks and then everything will be great. That’s what it’s actually about, and the term “money laundering” is there just to convince the stupid general public that it’s about “dirty money”. No, dirty money is the only thing that is explicitly not the target of such laws and regulations, because such money is easily dealt with by other laws – for instance, if the money was actually a result of criminal enterprise, this criminal enterprise would be broken up by the police, crime would be proven in the court of law, and the money resulting from crime would be confiscated. No, what all those laws against “money laundering” and “financing terrorism” are about, is preventing Julian Assange to get funding for his project of revealing government crimes, and for preventing “kulaks” from “hiding wheat in the attic”. It’s a Stalinist overreach in state power, designed to do all the dirty work extrajudicially, basically delegating all the spying and evil to the banks and financial institutions, so that the cases never even go to court, because then it would be obvious that the entire thing is completely baseless and a violation of someone’s rights. This way, the state and the banks conspire to rob you of your rights in such a way that you never get your day in court against them and they can basically do whatever they want, while the people in general see the name of those laws and think it’s all for the good, because money laundering and financing terrorism are baaad (in sheep voice). When the problem becomes so bad that even the general population start taking notice, it’s already too late in the game of totalitarianism for anyone to be able to do anything about it. It’s like the Nazi Germany – why do you object to citizens being routinely stopped at checkpoints and asked for papers? Only criminals would have a problem with that. The problem is, the state’s idea about what is “criminal” might differ wildly from yours. You think a criminal is a murderer, a thief or a rapist. They think a criminal is a journalist who found out and released truthful information about government crimes to the general public. Just watch the Assange case. They invented false charges against him to deceive the general public, and when those were dropped, they invented other false charges, and what is the truth? The truth is that the American state and its entire government system is profoundly corrupt and inherently criminal, and he revealed the facts that showed this quite plainly to the general public, thus spoiling the corrupt government’s public image and making its job of controlling the population harder.

The situation with the recent police violence is similar – usually, the police can hide its criminality behind a fig leaf of some actual crime they were fighting, but when they murdered a few people in broad daylight, for minor infractions, and were recorded doing it, for all to see, it became very difficult for the general public to maintain the illusion of police only doing good work against hardened criminals and having to use violence because, well, they are being forced to. The facts of the matter are different: the police was trained to be extremely violent and arrogant, to use maximum force against minor provocations and for minor offences, and they are increasingly treating the people of America the way American military is treating foreigners in hostile countries – it’s police safety first, not serve and protect the citizens.

Of course, then we get to the point where a mob of black thugs and white communists starts robbing stores to “liberate” all those Nike shoes from the stores of white capitalist oppression, and people start wondering whether police might actually have a point, and it is truly difficult to see either side as good.

In any case, the calls to defund the police can easily be understood for what they are: government power needs to be scaled down because it went too far, but of course that never happens, because once the government gets power, it keeps it until the entire state structure is torn down, and sometimes even that only changes the flag and the name.

The apparently racial background of the issue is completely fake and is the result of deep racism of the American black community – I recently watched a video where a white guy describes his experiences with the police in the recent decades, and those experiences are as violently abusive as anything a black American could point at. However, he rightly notices that the problem is the militarization of the police force and a major change in its attitude, where police started actively looking for trouble and acting violently without any good reason, while a black person would immediately point to race as the cause. Why, because American blacks are the most racist people on Earth, who hide all their own failures behind the veil of imagined racism, while it is a fact that other blacks are the main problem a black person needs to overcome if he wants his life not to suck.

Some thoughts on various things

Recently my son asked me whether we can get out of the mode where we’re prepared for an immediate disaster, basically whether he can take the laptop out of the evacuation backpack. I thought about it and said this: “The last few times I went out for a walk, 2 out of 3 times I ended up going to a big sports/outdoors store and I always came home with a few additional pieces of survival/emergency preparedness gear. I bought several thermally insulated stainless steel water bottles, a fixed blade hunting knife, cordage, inox cups, a spare backpack, gas-powered cooker, several LED battery lights and similar stuff. I didn’t really intend to, I did it on autopilot, without planning or thinking about it, the way a squirrel collects nuts on instinct. Also, you’ve seen me collect gold and silver. So, you tell me, if you see a squirrel collecting nuts in a hurry, on instinct, how likely do you think it is that spring is coming?”

No, I don’t know why I’m doing it, and I don’t know what’s coming, but I’m a squirrel collecting nuts and acorns to put in various holes in trees, and feeling good when I’m doing it, and it basically does itself on autopilot, I’m not having an intellectual plan of any kind, and if you asked me, I would tell you that for most probable crisis-types, this kind of emergency preparedness is futile and meaningless, but it’s something that a physical body does in response to a certain type of subconscious premonition. So, that’s what’s been going on lately, and I didn’t write anything here because I didn’t really know what to say. Everything I said before still stands, and I have no real updates, other than that my body is quite badly damaged by the coronavirus; I seem to have permanently lost a significant portion of my lung capacity so I get winded much sooner during any kind of exercise, which aggravates my excessive weight problem which always arises during the winter, when I can’t go out for long walks and just sit at home, eating the quantities of food I got accustomed to during the high-activity periods, and this time “winter” just got extended by a few months. A combination of excessive weight and low oxygenation equals strained heart, which is not good. All in all, I’m not in the best of conditions and I am trying to fix it with a fast/diet, with limited success due to the fact that everything that’s actually effective in reducing weight is also putting my brain first in low-sugar mode, and then in keto mode, both of which are impairing or outright disabling my spiritual abilities, which is something I am not willing to put up with.

Gold has been steadily rising, and silver was behaving excessively poorly, which is contrary to all expectations that are to be made based on the laws of supply and demand, so it’s obvious that the market is controlled, but that doesn’t tell us by whom, for what reasons and to what end. Before the weekend, silver started slightly outperforming gold, but the ratio between them is still over 100, which is historically unprecedented in how bad it is. One could say that it’s a good time to buy silver, but that is based on the assumption that silver is going to rise, and/or that gold is going to stagnate or drop, but this is all based on the rationale that silver is going to re-assume its historical role of a secondary monetary metal. Having in mind that historically silver was a secondary monetary metal only because it was impractical to mint gold coins of such low value for daily trade, and today we can use electronic purchasing systems to settle trade in very small fractions without any additional difficulty, this assumption is highly dubious. In fact, considering how gold was recently re-instated as a class 1 security, and nothing of the sort is even in the cards for silver, gold remains a sure thing, with an almost certain further growth until the amount of gold stored in the central banks reaches at least 40% of the value of the overall monetary emission. Silver, however, remains a highly speculative investment and I’m very glad I kept my investment in silver limited to a lower percentage. I am, however, happy to have it, just in case it starts behaving like a new Bitcoin, which it might, but I can’t give you the probability because I don’t know all the factors involved.

Also, Biljana got the new 16” Macbook pro, and I of course tried it and was mostly underwhelmed, because it felt almost completely identical to my mid-2015 15” model, which is the highest praise I can give a laptop, essentially saying it’s great and if my 15” died I would buy it without reservations, other than the price. The new GPU is excellent, leagues better than anything Apple put in their laptops before. I ran Valley benchmark on it in 1600p on ultra and it ran perfectly, in high frame rates, and the laptop managed to cool itself normally once it ramped up the fans, stabilizing around 75°C. This essentially makes it a capable gaming laptop, in a pinch. The problems are the USB-C charging without any external indication that the battery is full, no magsafe, no legacy ports, no upgradability, and the price is obscenely high here in Croatia, with 25% VAT on top of higher European prices and stuff. To calculate in hard currency, the price here was two ounces of gold, but since I bought gold instead of the laptop while gold was much cheaper, and the laptop remained at the same price as before, I can almost talk myself into believing that I saved money buying it now instead of earlier, although I know I’m deceiving myself. 😊 Anyway, that was the only thing I bought recently that doesn’t fall into the category of “gathering nuts and acorns”, and my squirrel-self is not happy about it and wants to return to gathering gold coins and survival thingies as soon as money allows. 😊

And of course, with the ominous feeling of impending disaster on the horizon, a vacation on Hvar is postponed indefinitely.

Some fun

Having nothing more important to do, I’ve been learning the Nürburgring tourist track on the simulator.

The problem is, the pedals keep sliding on the floor, which does not contribute to accurate timing. 🙂 I drove the Audi this time instead of the BMW, they are very similar in almost everything, other than Audi wiggling and drifting a bit on the limit allowing you to save the situation sometimes, while the BMW just loses the tail and spins out.

Talking about the BMW, I repeated the same laptime with it:

I can’t seem to beat that time despite the fact that both cars could go faster; it’s just that I lose time on the mistakes that are partly due to the fact that the force of pressing the brake pedal actually moves the pedals on the floor and that messes everything up, and since I keep it close to the limit, imprecision during braking results in errors. The other cause of errors is me sucking. 🙂

OK, I think I memorized the track enough not to crash due to forgetting that bend; let’s speed this up:

And some fun in heavy fog:

My times are actually improving, even with the fog as a test of memory.

I actually shaved more than 10 seconds off my best time with the BMW: