Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Way of Paradox: Seeking Enlightenment In Chaos

Core Values:

  • Personal Freedom
  • Radical Self-Reliance
  • Radical Self-Expression
  • Passion
  • Innovation
  • Knowledge for its own sake
  • Creating art


  • Be an adult. Know your limits. Handle your shit.
  • Consciously examine and reevaluate all your assumptions about yourself. Regularly. When you need help, consult your therapist or your best friend about your blind spots. Assumptions like "I should do things this way because that's how it's always been done in the past" or "I should do this because others might judge me harshly if i don't" are almost always useless. The same is usually true of ones that start with "I can't".
  • Discard any useless assumptions or limitations you or others have placed on you. The easiest way to identify useless assumptions is to familiarize yourself with common logical fallacies.
  • Be awesome all the time, however you define awesome. Set goals and annihilate them. This is how you level up in real life.
  • Emotions are not commands. Neither are other people's opinions, or whatever that judgmental voice in your head has to say today. Listen to what they have to say, evaluate it while looking for useless assumptions, and then decide whether to accept or reject. Then make a free choice based only on your personal core values.
  • Help those who desire and deserve your help. Don't waste your time and energy on the lazy or the closed-minded. Always help a friend in need if you can, though. Friendship requires regular maintenance just like anything else.
  • Practice mindfulness every day, multiple times a day, in as many different ways as you can. The goal is to pull you into the moment so that you can experience more fully the parts of life you enjoy most. Your brain has two basic waking states: mindfulness and autopilot. Make sure you're using the autopilot for menial tasks like washing dishes or finding your way someplace you've been many times before. If you catch yourself on autopilot during a conversation or while creating art, pull yourself back.
  • Create something every day. Art counts. So does writing. So does magic. Creation is food for the soul.
  • Cultivate positive addictions, such as daily meditation, exercise, yoga, martial arts, etc.
  • Determine your own personal practices for the pillars of earth, air, fire, water and spirit. Make sure you base them on not just your strengths but also your weaknesses. As far as possible, practice at least one of each activity every day. Doing your astrological chart will be useful for determining your relative strengths and weaknesses, elementally speaking.
  • Develop a plan to transform each of your weaknesses, if not into a strength, then at least into something you're passably okay at.
  • Find a way to monetize whatever you're good at. Having a job that you love and that fulfills you improves quality of life more than anything else, since most people spend over half their conscious hours working.
  • Practice embracing a thing and its opposite, then dwelling in the resulting cognitive dissonance. It may be scary, unsettling or uncomfortable at first, but stay with it and you'll eventually come to enjoy it. This will prepare you for accepting the reality that things are never as simple as they seem, that many apparently contradictory things can be true without them being able to be reconciled, and that poeple can disagree with you without automatically being wrong or stupid.
  • Practice paradigm shifting regularly. Try seeing things from your enemy's point of view, not to understand them better, but just because it's difficult. If you hate doing a particular, compare it to other things you hate doing and see what they have in common. Usually you'll find a wrong base assumption there that you can correct.
  • Determine your base assumptions about life through introspection, conversation or writing. Examine them and figure out which ones are potentially self-defeating, then rewrite them so that they're empowering instead.
  • Always strive to improve yourself. Relentless improvement is the key to self-respect, and it also helps you with being awesome all the time.
  • All sources of information are valuable. Your intuition is your unconscious mind's way of warning you about danger, so listen. Similarly, if you find abb idea you think is wise or good advice in a work of fiction, write it down. Keep a journal of such quotes. Looking through it periodically for common themes may help you to identify core values, useless assumptions, or blind spots.
  • Read and watch as much as you can about whatever your interests are. This may seem obvious, but many people don't give themselves permission to do the things they enjoy. Don't be one of those people.
  • Abandon guilt in favor of regret. Guilt is always useless because it leads to self-shaming instead of change. Regret, on the other hand, implies a desire to do better next time, which is far more useful. When you fail - and you will, especially at first - analyze the reasons why and adjust your actions and assumptions accordingly. Then do better next time. Deciding that you're wrong or bad or sinful or stupid is not going to help things at all.
  • The less often you make absolute statements, the less likely you are to look foolish in retrospect. Someone with different base assumptions is usually going to find a counterexample that you haven't considered. Feel free to express your opinion whenever you like, but avoid saying things "are" a certain way (rather than "i think ____" or "i feel ____" or "it appears to me that _____") because it leaves no room for differing opinions. Avoid "always" and "never" for the same reasons.
  • Mirroring helps set other people at ease. If they're very to the point, then only tell them exactly what they need to know. If they like to chat a lot about random things, feel free to share about your life too. When listening about something that doesn't particularly interest you, you can still be happy for the other person because it's something they're into. There's no need to say things like "i'm not into that" unless they're trying to convince you that you should be. Doing that unnecessarily makes people feel rejected.
  • Never put your Sword down, but don't be overly skeptical either. Balance in all things.
  • Don't take things personally. Other people's reactions are rarely about you. They're about that person's habituated behavior patterns and assumptions. 
  • Strive to be assertive, respectful, kind, fair, and calm. Other people have no right to tell you what to do, but telling them so will tend to upset them, especially if they disagree. Avoid asserting your will over others unless they are harassing you in some way.
  • The Paradox Rule: Any apparent paradox or contradiction you notice hints at a flaw in someone's understanding. Make it your business to find the faulty assumption underlying any paradox you notice, so that you can learn from it. Paradoxes allow you to pierce maya to see the deeper layer of truth that lies beneath.
  • Use the most precise term possible for whatever you're trying to describe. For example, avoid "good", "bad", and "evil" in favor of more useful distinctions such as helpful/unhelpful, useful/useless, or cruel/kind. The former terms are laden with eons worth of guilt and shared assumptions, while the latter ones are far cleaner.
  • Words have the power to create or destroy. Do not use them lightly. Calling a person or thing bad or stupid creates an expectation in your mind that this will always be so. Which, in turn, leads to useless assumptions. Conversely, striving to keep your word at all times creates the expectation that when you say something will happen, it is almost certainly going to happen. This is what real power looks like.
  • Some of these tenets may not suit you. Contemplate the reason why, looking for useless assumptions as always. None of these ideas are set in stone. This is an open source document, so if you find no useless assumptions around a tenet, you should modify it or delete it. Personal enlightenment is personal. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. Go be awesome.