Lucifer

YouTube is a weird place. You watch something, they start recommending you “similar videos”, and after a few clicks you start asking yourself how the hell you ended up here, wasting your life watching cat videos, top ten “facts” and “did you know”, car crashes of drunken Russian idiots, and people trying to do stunts and landing on their balls. Or lighting fireworks in their assholes. You get the picture.

So, at one point it recommended the TV series “Supernatural”, so I naturally started watching to see what it’s about because it looked weird, and I’m into weird. It was kinda fun but ultimately “meh”. However, then the algorithm started recommending another TV series, “Lucifer”, which initially looked like a generic high budget TV series, less pretentious than “Supernatural” but more fun, so I kept watching. Eventually I pulled the entire thing off of torrent, before figuring out I can now actually buy it (don’t ask, there were problems with purchasing downloadable media legally in Croatia because reasons; I still have to buy the Adobe subscription through an account I set up in Ireland) and got a premium Netflix account.

It is a matter of perverse curiosity for me to learn how people perceive the Devil, from the perspective of someone who knows him personally. Lucifer from this TV series is no exception to the general rule: he’s nothing like the actual Devil. However, once you get past that, it’s still interesting in many ways; for instance, I initially dissected the theology involved and it’s apparently a combination of the Old Testament understanding, some Kabbalah, and lots of Greek mythology; for instance, Lucifer is more like Hades, or Yama in the Hindu version. He’s the Lord of Hell, the punisher of the wicked and the guardian of the underworld. His “personal assistant” feels more like one of the Furies of Hades, who torture the wicked in the fields of punishment, than anything like the Christian demons, although nominally being the latter; they could have called her Alecto and not Mazikeen, for all the similarity. Their Lucifer is not evil; he has superficial characteristics one would attribute to evil, such as having a devil-face, and enjoying the suffering of the wicked, but that’s only skin deep, as a saying goes. He doesn’t try to seduce or trick people into evil; it actually appears to be the opposite. For instance, he warns and threatens a little bully girl in order to change her ways from evil. He mocks people whom he sees as hypocrites, and mischievously plays with all sorts of “sinful” behavior such as sex, drugs and alcohol, but it’s clearly visible how he cannot stand the actual evil – for instance, vicious people hurting the innocent. He has a very elaborate way of hiding his true nature under a mask of mischief and superficial fun, but even in the first episode you can see what he really is, when a messed up friend whom he’s trying to help get her shit together gets killed; he will literally follow the trail of the murderers till the end of the Earth until he finds and punishes them. He looks unfocused and unreliable, but he is absolutely and unflinchingly loyal to his friends. He’s the kind of person who would literally die for you, but will be offended if you call him good or altruistic. That makes sense, I guess: people who pose as good or altruistic are mostly psychopaths, so it makes sense for a truly altruistic, good person to pose as the Devil. This actually plays out in the third season of the series, when a true psychopath, Kain, the first murderer from the Bible, made immortal as punishment from God, a criminal mastermind who managed to infiltrate himself as a police station chief, manages to sell himself as a calm, reliable good guy. An example of the difference is that Kain apparently saves Chloe’s life (she’s Lucifer’s love interest) and she’s grateful, but in reality Kain actually intentionally put her life in danger because he wanted to test whether she will magically make him vulnerable, as she does Lucifer. On the other hand, Lucifer saved her life so many times it’s ridiculous, at a huge price to himself – he actually killed his own angelic brother Uriel protecting her, and he never even told her about it, in fact he just looked weird and unreliable to her during his grieving period, because he would rather look like a crazy person than claim credit and make her feel indebted to him. And yes, he actually died several times in order to save her, not knowing whether he would be able to return. And most difficult of all, he prayed to God to save her life, which is a terrible thing for him because he resents God bitterly. But apparently Lucifer is perceived as the frivolous, unreliable one, and Chloe almost married Kain at one point, because he’s reliable, predictable, and everything Lucifer isn’t. The last part is actually true. Lucifer does the “deal with the Devil” thing, where he grants people favors in exchange for later payment, and Kain imitates this, being a criminal overlord. However, people who make a deal with Lucifer get a genuine benefit, and his “later payment” is usually symbolic, like “get yourself together, please”. Kain, however, gives you something that only appears to be of benefit, and his repayment actually costs you your soul, because he wants you to do something inherently evil, under threat of violence. From my perspective, Kain is much closer to the actual Devil than this cinematic Lucifer. Kain portrays himself as the “angel of light”, a “good and honest man”, while being cruel, indifferent to others’ suffering, manipulative and truly and genuinely evil. Lucifer, on the other hand, portrays himself as a frivolous playboy, up to his eyebrows in sex, booze and drugs, openly calling himself the Devil, under the name of Lucifer Morningstar, of all things, and he is in fact a saintly, angelic being, with deep emotional conflicts and issues. Essentially, he’s the angel of light portraying himself as the Devil.

Another interesting thing is how his two brothers, Amenadiel and Uriel, both try to force his hand, believing they are doing God’s will, while it’s actually the “sinful” Lucifer whose actions turn out to be most in sync with God’s will, although he keeps bitterly berating God at every turn, resenting Him for all kinds of imaginary slights, and trying to do the exact opposite of everything he perceives as the will of God. Lucifer is far from perfect. However, he is profoundly honest, outspoken to a fault, and with an unflinchingly accurate moral compass. He will tell you that he only follows his desires and that he’s the most selfish person in the world, but what he does is much more telling than what he says.

The characters are unexpectedly interesting, layered and non-stereotypical for a TV show; I was genuinely surprised. You expect something to be written in a certain way, because it usually is (yawn), but the authors keep surprising me by showing the third, non-obvious way out of a black or white situation. For instance, when Lucifer is tasked by God to deal with his Mom who escaped from hell while he was away, Amenadiel and Uriel try to pressure him into obeying what appears to them as the obvious will of God. Also, he feels pressured to honor the deal he made with God in order to save Chloe. However, he also doesn’t want to harm his mother, who, although unhinged and dangerous, seems to be well meaning. He finds the third way, something his brothers didn’t see, just because he was willing to postpone acting and suffer everybody’s wrath in the process, because he felt that the options before him were not something he could live with. When he is confronted by the arrogantly self-confident Uriel, who acts as if he’s the hand of God, and has no problem killing people to realize his goals, it’s really heartbreaking to see Lucifer who is insecure about the right way to approach things, but protects his mother and Chloe until he figures out a way to deal with things correctly. Lucifer isn’t written like a typical cardboard character; he’s deeply conflicted, flawed, prone to misunderstandings and errors, and yet he is morally and spiritually the most straight, perfect character I ever saw in a movie. In comparison, the cinematic portrayals of Jesus look like ridiculous cardboard cut-outs. He’s a genuine saint who venomously berates God through his tears while mourning the death of his friend, all the while actually understanding God, at an instinctual decision-level, better than all the outwardly pious ones, who act confident of knowing God’s will. He’s that son from the Bible, whom the father tells to go do something, and who tells his father “no”, and later changes his mind and does it, while the other son says “yes father”, and does the opposite. I found this TV show more emotionally moving than probably anything I watched in years, on a very genuine, archetypal level, where flawed characters make decisions based primarily on the inner core of their being, forced to act on an existential level, without knowledge or intellect to provide them with a safety net. You have a character who is forced to make a literally split-second decision whether to kill his brother, or allow his mother to be sent to hell, and the woman he cares for to be killed. No time to think, the decision needs to be based on pure instinct, and the consequences tear him apart. I think I find it moving because real life is like that. You don’t have the time to think, and you need to pick a tragedy that is less unbearable.

Quod licet Iovi…

There’s something quite interesting regarding expectations about spiritual practice, that I didn’t write about yet.

In yoga specifically, there’s an expectation that a very radical degree of asceticism is required in order to attain results. Essentially, the archetypal motive is that of Jetsun Milarepa living in a cave for seven years eating nothing but nettle brew and meditating. Is this really a requirement?

In order to answer this question, I need to split what’s usually known as the spiritual practice into several levels. The first level is that of initial, preparatory practice, which is the equivalent of listening very hard for a pattern in sound. When you’re trying to do that, you need to remove all the distractions. You can’t eat foods that will focus your attention to themselves, or to the effects they have on your body – eating ghost peppers is out of the question, as are drugs, alcohol or in fact anything that might be distracting, because if you try to listen very attentively for long periods of time, you will try to minimize things like other people wanting to talk to you, being influenced by substances, or whatever. So, in this phase asceticism not only makes sense, but it’s actually an absolute requirement. You can’t attempt to make a breakthrough in meditation if you’re in any kind of a demanding human relationship. You can’t do it if you have a job that requires that you dedicate the most productive part of your day to things that actively interfere with your meditative efforts. You can’t afford to have your mind disrupted by all kinds of bad influences when driving to work and back, eating junk food, getting drunk or being in a sexual relationship that will demand your full attention in order to work. So, how realistic is it for a normal person to live in such a way for a long enough period of time in order to attain success in this initial breakthrough phase of yoga?

Fortunately, you can rest assured that there is a big difference between the ideal situation, and the necessary minimum. I didn’t have an ideal situation; in fact, it was almost as far from the ideal as you can imagine. I was constantly interrupted, lived in what any traditionalist would rightly call an impure environment, and I didn’t meditate anywhere near the amount of time one would expect to be necessary in order to make a breakthrough. However, I made certain discoveries during the process, which I am about to share with you now.

First, the way meditation works is not linear. It’s not unloading sacks of beans from a truck, where you keep working in a linear fashion, and the more gets done the more you work. With spiritual practice, you need to have a high baseline of thought and emotion in your normal activity, which essentially means things that go through your mind as you do your daily chores, and I cannot stress this highly enough. This determines your outcome more than anything. You need to maintain a certain level of subtlety of thoughts and emotions throughout your day. If you drop the ball, you need to pick it up quickly; for instance, you cannot allow anger to last long, you cannot allow yourself to get depressed for long, and you cannot allow yourself to get caught in some self-perpetuated loop of low emotion. This requires that you learn to control your thoughts and emotions, and not in some radical way, where you would brutally prune your thoughtstream, but in a very basic way, similar to that of a physicist who keeps working on the superstring problem while he’s stuck in traffic, and doesn’t allow himself to get distracted – in fact, doesn’t perceive enough to actually be distracted – and when he arrives at work, he switches from his baseline level of working the problem, to the full engagement mode, where he is at his 100% concentration and capacity for some 15 minutes or half an hour, and then he needs a break, because that level of concentration is unsustainable for a longer period of time. He then gets something to eat, talks to colleagues, allows his mind to go blank and recover from the strain, and then after finishing his coffee, focuses back to work to recover the baseline, stay there enough to pick up the pieces, and give it another 15 minutes of full effort.

That’s how it needs to be done. And now the fun part: if you actually manage to keep your baseline spiritual contemplation throughout most of the day, meaning you don’t get lost in your chores, but you manage to keep the high level of thinking and feeling throughout, it means you kept your mind at the state of what would show up as alpha and theta waves on the EEG, along with the beta waves of normal thought. And those few and far between bursts of deeper meditation, they will then have a wide base of the pyramid to rely on, and your peaks will be much higher than would otherwise be possible, had you allowed your mind to go to shit for the most part of the day, and rely on meditation to fix you. It might fix you, but you will not make any actual progress. Can it be done, yes. I did it. If you think you have a complicated situation where my method wouldn’t work, I assure you, you don’t. Most people have situations that are actually less problematic than what I had to work with, and they don’t manage to do anything because they waste their time complaining instead of actually figuring out how to get things done within the constraints that are available. If you think it was easier for Milarepa to meditate in a cold cave with no food, than it is for you to meditate in a warm apartment, abundant resources, half a day of slack time and two hours available for full bursts of focus, you’re deluding yourselves. You have it easy, you’re just not disciplined enough and you don’t desire the goal strongly enough. If this desire is present, you will make swift progress.

So, essentially, once you understand that you don’t need to actually keep the full meditative state for hours, but for seconds at first, and no longer than half an hour at maximum, but you need to keep yourself in a reasonably good state that can easily be switched to breakthrough-meditation mode at will. You don’t need to be at your best 100% of the day. You just have to watch yourself so that you don’t go fully to shit for more than 10% of the day, be at your normal high-thinking mode for at least 50% of the time, and have two bursts of 15 minutes to half an hour in the day, where you will touch and try to exceed your highest peaks of achievement. It’s by no means a trivial thing to do, but I can guarantee you that it’s doable, because I’ve been there and had done it.

The second thing to have in mind is that there’s a huge difference between trying to achieve initiation, and the requirements on purity and focus in this initial state, and the state you’re in after having achieved the breakthrough. Once you attained it, either darshan or samadhi or some similarly high state, it stays with you forever. It’s burned into the pathways of your brain, it’s burned into the structure of your spiritual bodies, and it doesn’t just go away because you had too much coffee or not enough sleep. This is why a beginner yogi can look more like a yogi than a master, because a beginner needs to observe all kinds of rules and restrictions to keep himself from going to shit, and to keep his meditative baseline throughout the day. Once mastery is achieved, it’s a completely different set of rules. A beginner cannot even imagine trying to meditate in a smoke-filled bar, and I gave spiritual initiations in such an environment. A beginner cannot even think about combining sex with meditation, because distractions are too great, and my wife, an initiated master herself, learned how to wield Shivaratri, the black Vajra, by feeling the state to which I go when I orgasm, when we had sex. She orgasmed together with me in that state, and achieved initiation into this spiritual state and energy level, and could wield it later at will. What I’m trying to say is, when you are an initiated master, things get weird, and the way you learn things no longer conforms to the limitations you had prior to initiation. A master will be able to attain higher initiation through practices that would preclude any kind of spiritual activity in a beginner. Also, it no longer matters how high your baseline Kundalini level is, what brainwave pattern can you maintain and for how long, in what condition your physical body is – essentially, you can be crucified like Jesus, be in dire agony, experience pain to the point where your consciousness is so blurred that you can’t really see straight, and still write articles like this one; essentially, for decades already nobody could figure out in what state I was looking only at the output I produce, and I produced some of my best work with unbearable headaches, high fever or worse, and in retrospect, looking at the work from a much more pleasant physical state, I understood that there are no corrections to be made; the quality of the output is the same as I would produce at my peak. Also, some things seem to defy logic: for instance, I can have a very low baseline Kundalini level, and at the same time be able to access the highest states, and invoke them in others. That’s because a high Kundalini level is important when you’re attempting the initial breakthrough, but once the pathways and spiritual organs of a higher order have been formed and activated, they work regardless of the state of the physical body, and in fact, if those achievements could be lost in sickness or death, could they be said to be of any permanence and value? A beginner’s spiritual baseline can be lost quite easily, by a lapse of concentration, drinking alcohol, eating bad or spicy food, or any combination of causes, but you can basically cook a master alive and his core of mastery remains untouched. One would expect one such master to have to return to the beginner-level of asceticism in order to attain a higher level of initiation, but that doesn’t seem to work that way. This is why Marpa Lotsawa could drink alcohol, have violent moods, and still be able to guide Milarepa through necessary karmic purifications and toward initiation. How did Marpa attain higher initiation? By doing his thing, by functioning in such a way as to be able to guide an advanced student with absolute precision through a completely unorthodox and ad-hoc invented set of hoops, while drunk and chastising his wife, a saintly person, for being stupid, and chasing her around the house in order to beat her up.

As I said, shit gets very weird.

The life of Job

I’ve been thinking about the book of Job.

It was never one of my favourite parts of the Bible, because I always thought it portrays God as an unjust and cruel asshole, who gives more value to Satan’s desire to test a good man, than to this man’s wellbeing – essentially, God allows Satan to turn Job’s life into a living hell just to test whether he’ll spiritually crack under pressure and turn to evil.

But lately I’ve been thinking if maybe I got it wrong. Of course it’s an allegory, and I always understood it as such, but maybe it’s a different kind of allegory. Maybe it’s not about the superficial moralizing message, but a more profound one, with mythical power, in a sense where a myth is something that never happened, and yet it happens daily. Maybe the message is that we, here, incarnated on Earth, are Job. Not in a sense that we are surrendered to Satan to be cruelly tested, but in a more profound sense, where this world in its entirety was devised by Satan as a form of a wager with God, where he publicly claimed to have created a test that only the truly virtuous and noble souls can pass, and secretly hoped that nobody, even God were he to accept the same human limitations, could. Essentially, he hoped to create such hopeless darkness laced with deceptions and lures, at the same time separating the souls from their memory, from their powers, from the ability to leave, and he blocked their personal access to God, so that he could envelope them in darkness so completely, that the only pieces of light they can see are his own lures, set in such ways as to burden them with sin, attach them to this world, separate them further from God and essentially kill them. As they died, deceived into sin, drowning in filth they were convinced to embrace, Satan could always claim that they failed to remain faithful to God, that their spiritual virtue, so obvious in heaven, was but a reflection of the heavenly light and not their own nature, and when they were separated from what was not truly their own, they showed their true, base and lowly nature, and sinned against God.

The deception, of course, is in the fact that a saintly soul is not such due to the light of its own. Everybody shines but with the light of God, and if this light is taken from us, we are truly doomed. So this is essentially a trap for the arrogant ones, who can believe that their virtue and achievement are their own, and not merely the result of acceptance of God into their lives. I cannot claim this with certainty, but what I do know is that not all came here with the same intent. Some came here to show how their powerful spiritual being can shine with God’s light even in deepest darkness. Some were lured here with promise of spiritual evolution under pressure, which supposedly isn’t possible elsewhere. Some wanted to teach and help others who were trapped here, in essence displaying a trait of arrogance, thinking themselves above those who were ensnared and deceived, and those who already attempted to help them, and failed. Some came here because they wanted to hide from God, whom they hated. Some wanted to do evil deeds. Some were just stupid. There doesn’t seem to be a singular motive; however, the common thing is that they all perceived this place completely differently and did not understand what actually happens here, which includes the concepts of time, and process.

The error in my analysis of the book of Job is, perhaps, in the assumption that the situation was portrayed correctly. What if the wager wasn’t between Satan and God, but between Satan and Job? What if Satan told Job that he has a test for him, that only a true devotee of God can pass? What if Job was eager to show his devotion to and faith in God by accepting the challenge? What if God advised him against it, but Job was either ignorant or arrogant enough to dismiss it?

So, we are Job. Deceived, bound, stripped of our memory, separated from the light and certainty of God, surrounded with pain, darkness and evil, tempted with deadly lures that promise to ease our pain at the price of our soul, with no certainty in our hope that it will ever be better.

The book itself offers the unobvious way out: don’t assume you did something very bad to deserve your fate. Don’t repent. Don’t “curse God and die”, as his wife advised the protagonist. Accept that your condition just is. It’s not certain why it is here. Maybe it’s a punishment for your sins, and maybe you’re so perfectly pure that Satan wagered with God that he can break you, and God agreed. Maybe you wagered with Satan that he can expose you to all the rage and darkness of hell, and you will not lose faith in God. Many things are possible, and it is unwise to claim responsibility for your situation just because someone told you it’s a constructive approach. It’s not constructive to accept guilt and punishment if you are completely innocent. It is also not constructive to pass judgment and blame God for your situation, under the assumption that God created this place and He is omnipotent. The thing is, creation of this place seems to be a very complicated thing, and involved many parties, none of which seems to be God directly. Also, the parameters of this place seem to be such that God is very limited in what He can do here.

So, how can I say that God didn’t create this world? Does this detract from God’s greatness?

First of all, this place is such a nightmarish hellhole, that claiming that God created it detracts from His greatness.

Second, if you think that God needs to be attributed with the creation of everything lest his greatness be diminished, what about the computer I’m presently using to write this article? Was it created directly by God? OK, so you have to concede that God didn’t directly create some things, even very sophisticated and valuable ones. If we extend this further, did God create humans directly, or were they a product of natural evolution? It is much more rational to accept that God didn’t necessarily create most things directly, and that in most cases things that exist are the result of actions of either sentient beings lesser than God, or a result of natural forces in action, such as lightning, which wasn’t created by anyone, but is merely a result of an electrostatic discharge in the atmosphere. If lightning can exist without being created by God, why should this world have to be created by God? Why should it not be of the order of being similar to my computer, which can also maintain a simulated reality, or, should I say, reality of an inferior order? It is much wiser to say that God is the deepest reality, and that everything else in existence has reality inferior to God’s; things can exist that simulate virtual universes, and I hold one such device in my lap as I use it to write this, and the text on the screen is of reality that is less than the reality of the laptop itself, and yet it is quite real, in a sense that I write it, I can read it from the screen, I can post it on the web and then you can read it and know that it is real; and yet, is it more real than merely ones and zeros, represented by the voltage in the memory cells, mapped onto characters, and displayed on some physical device that conveys the information to your brain. Things can obviously exist in weird ways, once you accept the reality of computers, and differences in reality between hardware and software. Someone, who is not God, created a computer. Someone else, who is also not God, uses this computer, as well as the software which is on that computer, to modify the software for some nefarious purpose. So, what if this entire Universe runs on what is the equivalent of a smartphone in some higher-reality Universe, and only when you follow this rabbit hole of realities to its end do you reach God. I’m formulating this hypothetically, but to me it is much more than a hypothesis. It’s a theory, in a scientific sense, where a theory is a set of hypotheses that were experimentally verified, and form the intellectual framework for explaining the evidence.

And the most interesting thing is that, although this can all lead you to conclude that God is so very far away, hidden under a palimpsest of superimposed illusions, nothing is farther from the truth. Because, if we use the analogy of God as the computer, and various recursively nested illusions as software entities running on this computer, such as the BIOS, OS, applications, windows within the applications, and nested structures within the windows, how far is all of this from the computer? It is all the computer. It’s right here, and the entirety of software has any existence only within it, and it is given reality by having its instructions executed directly by the hardware. You are as far from God as any of applications on your computer is from its CPU and RAM. Not only does it mean that God is truly the closest to your being, it means that envisioning your existence as detached from God, or even in opposition to God, is madness – because, in the end, only God Is; only I Am.

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.