Learning to avoid suffering

I find that things are easier when there is money to pay the rent. But there are also times when I can’t pay the rent and bills.

During those times I sit back and think: “The one thing that is certain (death) has not been avoided in good times and will never be avoided. Every moment is there to be experienced and observed.”

Every moment must be experienced and observed. Once we live life as an observer we discover a wonderful device that can help us avoid pain and suffering. The key word here is device. Learn a method of detachment, then let go of the method. If you gained something from a particular meditation technique, great.

Allowing it to pass by as just another experience is ok too.

Genius From Outside the League

I find it tremendously awe inspiring to read about work that continues on in spite of fierce opposition. Researchers or writers who bring up concepts which fall outside of so called “mainstream” academia invariably receive a fair share of ridicule if they are acknowledged at all before some traction takes hold and support for their work begins to build. Sometimes their life’s work becomes accepted and confirmation becomes undeniable. Though it’s just as likely that they are never welcomed into the world of accepted knowledge. A few eventually have their thesis accepted and incorporated into the textbooks.

Foucault’s pendulum, Paris. Photo by Ben Ostrowsky (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sylvar/70589378/) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
Let’s not forget that it wasn’t too long ago that the earth’s rotation was still in doubt. On January 3, 1851, Leon Foucault set about to test the rotation of the earth.

In his fascinating book Pendulum: Foucault and the Triumph of Science, Dr Amir D Aczel recounts what a struggle it was for Leon Foucault to convince the nation’s mathematics that the earth was rotating on its axis. He tells us of the struggle and eventual triumph of this self-taught physicist.

Foucault had been working on making the perfect pendulum for months.  Wires, metal cutters, measuring devices, and weights were all employed in its construction. What he finally came up with was a 2 meter long steel wire attached to the ceiling of his cellar in a way that allowed for free rotation without resulting torque. At the other end  of the wire, he attached a 5 kilogram brass bob. It was a free-swinging pendulum, suspended from the ceiling.

 Aczel goes on to tell us that: “Once the pendulum was set in motion, the plane in which it  oscillated back and forth could change in any direction. Designing a mechanism that would secure this property was the hardest  part of his preparations. The pendulum had to be perfectly  symmetric: Any imperfection in its shape or distribution of  weight could skew the results of the experiment, denying Foucault the proof he desired.

He held his breath as the pendulum began  to swing. Suddenly the wire snapped, and the bob fell heavily to  the ground. Three days later, he was ready to try again. He care-  fully set the pendulum in motion and waited. The bob swung  slowly in front of his eyes, and Foucault attentively followed every  oscillation.  Finally, he saw it. He detected the slight but clearly perceptible change he was looking for in the plane of the swing of the pendulum. The pendulum’s plane of oscillation had moved away  from its initial position, as if a magic hand had intervened and  pushed it slowly but steadily away from him. Foucault knew he  had just observed the impossible. The mathematicians—and  among them France’s greatest names: Laplace, Cauchy, and Poisson—had all said that such motion could not occur or, if it did,  could never be detected. Yet he, not a mathematician and not a trained physicist, somehow always knew that the mysterious  force would be there. And now, he finally found it. He saw a clear  shift in the plane of the swing of the pendulum. Léon Foucault  had just seen the Earth turn.”

To be told that something is impossible by none other than the top minds in one of the most intimidating disciplines could be enough to make many people quit. But this didn’t dissuade Foucault. In the end he had such a strong case that his opposers had to concede he may be on to something. The French Academy of Sciences still took their time in allowing him in as a member. It wasn’t until 1865 that his application to be elected as a member was successful.
His tenacity and determination is inspiring. His story also shows that new ideas take time to work their way into the body of accepted knowledge.
Of course after making this point I will point out that being outside “mainstream” doesn’t mean someone is right nor does it mean they are wrong. I have read many books by authors that many consider “fringe” writers. Some make a strong case, others seem like cranks and crackpots.
I find great pleasure in examining any argument, trying to get a complete picture and forming my own opinion without being influenced by the prevailing consensus. I think appeal to consensus smacks of cowardice, and if nothing else is lazy. Since the majority can be right as often as it is wrong we can’t rely on consensus for the forming our own opinions.

How to Get Everything You Want

This may seem like a joke, but it really isn’t.

Now, don’t skip on ahead to see the punchline. I’ll get to it. And it’s no joke, though you may laugh a little when I tell you.

There is a way to get everything you want, and it’s actually kind of amusing. But like I tell people when I teach them how to perform a magic trick: “Please remember how impressed you are before you know how it’s done. Once you know the secret you will be disappointed that it was so simple. Remember what your feelings were like when you saw the trick and were astonished.”

Looking for ways to get what we want is what occupies much our time. The struggle is real. There doesn’t seem to be any real formula. We try and try again. Sometimes our efforts pay off, and when they don’t there’s usually something to learn from the experience. That’s what I like to tell myself. It’s good for morale. And often true. But learning from experience is the hard way to learn. If we can learn from someone else’s experience we’re likely to avoid some trouble or even pain. Specific advice is great when you can get it but we often have to settle for general advice. And general advice abounds. As with everything else this type of product will vary in quality.

One thing that many systems have in common is that they help you work on your attitude toward life. In the process you come across more than your fair share of quotes which some people find trite like Attitude determines your altitude and If you think you can, you can. If you think you can’t, you cant  and all that jazz. While some people will run as fast as they can from any kind of “self help” program, others, like myself, will give these types of things a go.

Not to brag, because really it should be more embarrassing than anything else, to date I have listened to The Abundance Course and Financial Freedom by The Release Technique, the Sedona Method, the Silva Method, The Effort Free Life System, You Can Heal Your Life, Project Yourself, Natural Hypnosis, hypnosis tracks by Dr Adam Eason, Dr Lee Poulos, Steve G Jones, Paul McKenna, Brainwave Sync, and possibly more, but that’s all I can remember at the moment.

Those are just the audio courses I have managed to get my hands on, not to mention all the books that have crossed my path.  One thing I have learned. More than one thing actually, but yeah, one important thing I have learned which I may have learnt much earlier had I simply paid attention when watching The Lion The Witch and The Wardrobe is that what we think we know is never everything there is to know.

When Aslan comes back to life, the children are shocked because after all according to the laws of The Deep Magic his life was forfeit. Aslan then explains:

It means that though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of time. But if she could have looked a little further back, into the stillness and the darkness before Time dawned, she would have read there a different incantation. She would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.
―Aslan describing the Deeper Magic (The Lion the Witch and The Wardrobe, Chapter 15)

Yes. There’s always a deeper magic.

This is something I find exhilarating. To explore something and then to discover that there’s a more advanced edition. A Deeper Magic.

What I find fascinating is that the solutions I come across are often not “the latest thing” but are actually pretty old. And I’m not talking old as in “I came across this 100 year old book” as Rhonda Byrne says in The Secret. I am talking about 2 and a half millennia old. Very old.

Yes it was around 2500 years ago that several philosophers came up with some very interesting ways of getting everything you want.

Did you know that both Lao Tsu in China and Gautama Buddha in India came up with ways to get everything you want around the same era in history?

And here’s the secret.

You ready for it?

It’s this.

You learn to not want.

Then you’ll have everything you want.

Because you won’t want anything, therefore you have everything you want. Which may be nothing, or it may be lots of things.

Like I said, it sounds like a joke. But it actually isn’t. It does work. Now it gets a little tricky at this point because the truth is that you may end up getting the things you wanted before you started giving up your wants, or you may end up in a state that you would have thought is pretty crap before you gave up wanting all the things. But either way if you think about it, you’re better off. In your mind, anyway. The theory is that this state involves less suffering.

But can you have your cake and eat it too?

Maybe.

After all,

There’s always a deeper magic.