I tend to believe in a massive, massive degree of flexibility in the human brain/nervous system. It seems like with enough effort, you can make it experience the world in almost any way you’d like.

This gets even stronger when social structure and group beliefs are tied in.
This is probably the biggest part of my suspicion towards many descriptions of enlightenment.
A lot of it sounds like a braiding two things together:
1- convincing yourself that blue is your favorite color.
2- bricking your computer so it only shows a blue screen.

Except the computer is your whole phenomenological experience.
When I read or hear what some people mean by “enlightened state,” it’s hard to not think that it sounds a bit like they spent years studying the experience of lobotomy patients, convincing themselves that this was the best thing,
And then went and got the lobotomy.
And then kept a tone of “this is all I’ve ever wanted. In fact, it’s all that *anyone* has ever wanted. You just have to admit to yourself that you want it, and then you can achieve it too.”
And if you doubt them about it? “Well, look at all these groups and historical figures and social beliefs that back me up.”
And if you decide not to go for the lobotomy? “That’s okay. Perhaps in a few lifetimes you’ll have the wisdom to realize that this is the way.”
this has been sitting in my drafts for like a month and a half and still feels too risky to tweet.

Even though this *particular* description of enlightenment isn’t super super common around here, let alone some kind of orthodoxy.
Found this again, wondering why it feels so risky.
1: I feel like some people will read this as an attack on them specifically, or their traditions specifically. —I don’t mean it that way, it’s just hard to express my intuition on it without it sounding like that.
2- Also seems low-status to say around here. I can already hear some flavors of reply: “oh that’s just your ego talking, learn to let go of it and you’ll see the wisdom like me”
3- I feel like if I’m criticizing the description of enlightenment I see around some places, I should be supplying a description that feels better to me.

I don’t have more than a hazy intuition of one.
Kierkegaard’s “Leap of Faith” thing comes to mind, but sits v uncomfortably.

I guess for any tradition, religion, system, etc, you have to “leap” and accept certain ideas/axioms before the rest makes sense or feels right
It’s like any game:
If you start asking during a soccer game WHY they don’t just use their hands or run the ball outside of the lines or sth—

The question doesn’t make sense. You just have to take the leap and accept that the rules of soccer are the rules of soccer,
And that they exist to help you have a fun and fair game.

Only when you accept that are you free to start honing the specific skills and awarenesses that will make you a good soccer player.
I think running across Rob Burbea has largely cleared the above up for me.

I might say more in a quote tweet later, but for now I’ll just finally hit send on all this as a record of a couple? few? months of thought on this.

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More from @the_wilderless

25 Jan
Starting with Politics of Experience & The Bird of Paradise, partially cuz is has some of my favorite Laing sections,
And partially cuz it’s the only book I have brought 2 copies of with me through multiple countries, cuz my first copy got too worn but I didn’t wanna lose my notes
This part is from late in the book, but captures something about the attitude.
Laing very much refused to be beaten down into submission—even while constantly looking around and calling out the dereliction of the world, he refused to sink into it
Read 39 tweets
25 Jan
The basic jist of this book goes something like:
Sometimes the dynamics of a family force a member of that family into impossible double- triple- and quadruple-binds, where no action, no thought, no belief fits in with the prevailing dynamics and counterdynamics…
In some of these cases, it affects the family member (usually the child, who’s mind is developed within the constraints of these binds) such that they are unable to cope with, or even find a hold on, consensus reality. This is the cause of some amount of severe mental illness.
When I was going through college and talked about Laing with some psych students and profs, they bucked pretty hard whenever the ideas that family affect mental health were brought up.
Read 10 tweets
24 Jan
I saw some post the other day about how westerners turned eastern religion into something ugly and corporate, and it was the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.
If you’ve ever been to spiritual centers in Varanasi or Hanoi or Seoul or Lumbini—or read any historical travelogues from eastern pilgrimage sites, you know they needed no help figuring out that religion could be a raucous money-making racket.
This image some people have of eastern religions as these pure beautiful things that are of a higher vibration and a finer cosmic fabric... it’s utter bullshit and projection.
Read 4 tweets
23 Jan
There’s a very specific way to brick yourself that looks like increasing awareness,
but is really just the mental/social equivalent of thinking too hard about how breathing works and suddenly realizing you’re hypoxic and might die if you don’t stop thinking and let your body *do*
“So your “love” for me is just your experience of my experience of you matching your experience of your preference for my experience of you, all of which I’ve come to grok as an ur-gestalt of sociophenomenological—“
“Yeah, I’m leaving you for Tom”
“But Tom doesn’t even meditate!”
It seems to come from an assumption that if you make explicit things that are generally implicit, this is a sign of heightened/deepened awareness

But usually, people are quite aware of these things. Just not linguistically aware of them.
Read 4 tweets
23 Jan
There’s a narrative something like
“the complicated basics of a spiritual practice are needlessly convoluted, but it’s necessary to begin there as a scaffolding for later experience/advancement”
For example—“we’re all headed for Unity, but the first step is to work with the 4 elements, 7 planets, 12 zodiacal energies, and their requisite corresponding angels, intelligences, governors, herbs, etc… then later it all falls away”
Other example—“we’re on our way to enlightenment, but you must first memorize and work with the 8 fold path, 4 noble truths, 5 Kleshas, 6 bardos, 4 marks, 9 yanas, 5 skandhas… later you’ll move past these, but they’re important to begin”
Read 11 tweets
17 Jan
I knew a girl in Michigan who everyone around me loved and found super sexy and desirable.

She creeped me out. Something about her just seemed slimy, hollow, without any “there” there.
One day we got stuck hanging out alone when other friends left for a bit.
I decided to be a little rude and just straight up ask her some version of “what’s your center? How did you become what you’re like?”
She looked at me a minute, then told me that she’d read “The Art of Seduction” by Robert Greene when she was a teen, absorbed it, and never looked back.
Read 7 tweets

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