Diving Deep into Unconditional Love through Psychedelics, Oneness, and The Four Immeasurables

I recently watched a video from Big Think featuring author, philosopher, neuroscientist, and rising mindfulness expert Sam Harris. In the video he discusses an experience he had at age 18 while on MDMA, and what caught my ear was that his account is perhaps one of the most perfect descriptions of unconditional love I have ever heard.

You can hear it from the 4:20 mark in the embedded video below.


Sam Harris on a transcendent experience of unconditional love:

And what was revelatory about it was that it was an experience of absolute sobriety. It was not – there was no druggy component to it. We just became clearer and clearer and clearer in our thinking and feeling. And the crucial component of this was a loss of any feeling of self-concern. I was no longer looking at myself through my friend’s eyes. I was no longer worried about what he was thinking about me. I was no longer subtly correcting course based on changes I saw in how he was perceiving what I was saying. It was a whole veneer of fear frankly that I didn’t know was there that got stripped away. And there was just kind of naked awareness of the present moment and what came into that void was a very clear understanding that I loved him, that I – here I was, you know, 18 or 19 and I was not in the habit of, you know, thinking about how much I loved the men in my life. And here’s one of my best friends and I just realized with a, you know, it sounds absolutely pedestrian to say it but I realized that I wanted him to be happy in a way that was just – it was like, you know, a lightning bolt. And the – what was truly revolutionary about this insight was that the feeling that came crashing down to that point was just, you know, boundless love for one of my best friends and absolutely no egoic self-concern, no possibility for feeling envy, for feeling any kind of petty emotion that separated myself from him. But then I realized in the next moment that I would feel this way for anyone who walked through the door. There was nothing contingent on our relationship about this feeling. It was not a – it was not justified by my friendship with him. This was the way I felt for every other conscious being. So this is the way I would feel for the postman if he walked through the door. And that suddenly opened my mind to the possibility of being like Jesus, whoever he was.

Finding and Chasing Oneness

Having experienced this kind of self-transcendence and pure abundant love myself, I knew exactly what Sam Harris was describing. At some level it’s probably the greatest feeling I have ever felt. And it’s very easy to get caught up in the spiritual search to repeat this experience, because it’s easy to feel a sort of void without it. This [chasing oneness] is something spiritual teacher Matt Kahn speaks on in his video Emotional Oneness.

Matt Kahn’s approach to the spiritual journey is about bringing the mind and the heart back into alignment for an internal realization of oneness for an inside out approach to oneness with others. This is achieved by reconnecting to your inner child, or as Matt Kahn calls it – “the innocence of your consciousness” and “the guardian of your soul”. Matt Kahn’s idea here is that until you give the attention to your innocence that your ego demands, it “won’t allow the things that you’re here to create and experience in your life to be recognized in your present moment reality”.

Matt Kahn on taking a heart-centered spiritual journey in Emotional Oneness:

So someone could say the most beautiful words, “all is one”, and if they’re not in the ‘all is one experience’, I would say “that’s not true” – and people would go “what is he talking about? All isn’t one?” No, all is one – when you’re in that space. And so, what I want to teach you is what’s the doorway that brings you into the space of the experience that you’re hungry for. Because when you’re in the space, the joy is: what your freed of is the hunger. The oneness doesn’t satisfy your hunger – you become satisfied by becoming freed of your hunger. So by chasing oneness you don’t get freed of your hunger, you just become hungrier.

…Emotional oneness is internal alignment; your mind and your heart are soul mates, and emotional oneness is when the soulmates of mind and heart have reunited in holy matrimony. And when that is disproportionate or imbalanced, your mind seems to be in the way of your heart, or your mind and heart are saying two different things – it’s almost like your mind and heart seem to be competing for attention – and you seem to be in the middle of this battlefield. Or you’re the one trying to keep your mind silent so you can focus on your heart, or you’re trying to ease the fearful heart, because of how noisy the mind’s being – and you’re in the middle of a battlefield, a spiritual battlefield, and it’s all because the mind at the heart are not on the same page. 

So what brings the mind and the heart into holy matrimony – what reunites the mind and the heart as sacred soulmates is you deepening the relationship with your own innocence, your own inner child. In a lot of spiritual traditions the focus is on “understanding, unraveling, overcoming, transcending – the ego”. And ego gets a real bad wrap; in fact, in some spiritual traditions if you have confidence people think you have an ego – confidence is actually an aspect of your soul.

And when you take the heart-centered journey you realize ego is just a character, an inflated character that your inner child concocts as a way of getting the attention from others it didn’t feel it gained from the past. So ego is an attention seeking device on the psychological level that the inner child employs, and if you’re trying to unravel your ego – destroy it and get away from it, you’re sending messages of abandonment, resistance – isolation – to your inner child, and then your inner child has to get even darker to get your attention, saying – “I’m not going to be loved by them, but they’re never going to ignore me” – then the inner child becomes what’s called ‘the shadow’. 

…Because it doesn’t matter if you’ve heard somebody say “We’re all one” and you just repeat that, what matters is if you have gone deep enough to extinguish the hunger. Cause once you extinguish the hunger then you can feel the one that you are, not just know the one that you are, or repeat the one that you are.

Note: Having spent ample money on therapists, I found massive value from Matt Kahn’s teachings in Emotional Oneness and I highly urge you to set aside a FULL Hour to watch the video. It’s something I watch every week. It always helps bring me into alignment. Keep in mind, this is a live talk and not scripted – and sometimes Matt Kahn says things that make me laugh or even shake my head, i.e., some of his more new agey, cosmic / starseed prophecy type stuff, but he delivers therapeutic and self-compassion oriented teachings that provide me with a deep sense of inner security, similar to how I feel after a really great therapy session.

Other videos from Matt Kahn that I have enjoyed are Finding Safety, and The Love Revolution.


So having found this experience of unconditional love that Sam Harris described, and having begun to work to consciously reconnect to my inner innocence and cultivate an internal sense of emotional oneness as Matt Kahn teaches, I’ve become far better at getting out of my own way and experiencing oneness with others. And this is important to me. My highest spiritual value is “Unconditional love and heart-centered living”. My affirmation for this value is: You are unconditional love for self and others at all times and live a heart centered life.

As anyone on this same journey of unconditional love knows, embodying this value requires dedicated, conscious effort on many levels – from meditating and maintaining your health, to being mindful of the conversation happening in your own head.

Unconditional Love is Not Exclusive to the Psychedelic Experience 

It’s easy to think that it would be great if I could just be an enlightened trust fund baby and take pure MDMA whenever I needed to reconnect to that deep sense of oneness, but that’s not a viable option – for anyone. And although Sam Harris states that his experience with MDMA was ‘indispensable early in his inquiry’, even he knows not to dismiss the dangers.

Returning to the content of the Big Think video in the beginning of this entry, Sam Harris references his own pursuit to recreate this original experience through meditation and spiritual study abroad, and he also acknowledges that this experience is possible without MDMA:

And it prompted me to seek to have this experience in other ways, you know, for many, many years. I spent years studying meditation in various contexts, mostly in India, Nepal. And, you know, I can say you can have this experience without MDMA. It’s not, MDMA isn’t the only way to have it. And the truth is virtually any experience you can have with psychedelics you can have without psychedelics because all psychedelics do is modulate the existing neurochemistry of the brain. They’re not doing something that the brain can’t do on its own. You’re just playing with neurotransmitters or mimicking neurotransmitters. I have had the same experience to more or less a similar degree just through meditation. But it’s clear to me that I would never have suspected that such an experience was possible but for my experimenting with MDMA in the beginning.

I appreciate that he does not dismiss the value of MDMA as an initial catalyst for his journey, but had he not believed this experience were possible through natural means – he very well may have gone on to become another burnout who eventually took too many drugs and had too many bad trips, eventually abandoning his spiritual journey altogether. Thankfully this was not the case, but I have encountered numerous anecdotal stories from people for whom this was the case. I can think of nothing more of a nightmare to me than losing my spiritual identity – this is in essence, my connection to  my intuitive self.

Psychedelics are a Key to The Door Guarding the Path, Not The Path Itself

I’m glad Sam recorded the original video for Big Think, because it’s difficult to be “pro psychedelics”, while maintaining a rational and grounded perspective. Unfortunately, their illegal nature has prevented mental health professionals and university researchers from establishing a safe and well studied framework for facilitating these experiences. In my eyes the psychedelic experience is merely one key that opens the door to the self, but it [the psychedelic experience] is not the path itself.

Long before I ever ingested a psychedelic in a spiritual context I had read something from Deepak Chopra that essentially said ‘the same experiences are available through meditation’. So, for me I inherently understood this could be attained through natural means.

I tried to located the exact quote [from Deepak], and could not – but interestingly, I did learn that his awakening came from an early experience with LSD, and I did find the following, from Deepak:

If your only experience of spiritual unity has come through hallucinogens, you are more inclined to think you need them in order to have that experience, instead of recognizing that higher states of consciousness are your natural developmental birthright and can be awakened through the meditation practices. 

Having heard this at an early age gave me the foundation to respect psychedelics as agents of change and not ways of being.

Psychedelics vs. Meditation

Anyone who has taken LSD knows that it’s an intense experience – one that will invariably provide you with a dramatically different perspective on life. Asserting that the same thing is available without taking LSD seems a major stretch; although, I would say it is not – sure, you aren’t going to be blown away by the glowing colors of Pandora’s user interface like you would on LSD, but you can go deep below the self and into your own unconscious awareness. And this is where the real magic happens – what people call ‘connecting to source’ or ‘higher consciousness’. It should also be noted that my meditation practice is still in it’s relative infancy, and someone like Deepak Chopra or Sam Harris has far more experience traversing the meditative plane than I do, so when they say the same thing is available, they may likely have had deeper experiences within their minds than I have yet had with mine.

Note: If I have one complaint about the new age community it’s that those who seem to have abused psychedelics as a path to spirituality dilute both the meaning of spirituality, and the purpose of psychedelics. For me, spirituality is about optimizing my mental health, rather than jeopardizing it. I keep in mind the fact that Steve Jobs did LSD, but he most certainly did not abuse it, nor center his life around it; however, he did delve deep into Zen principles, but according to an article on Jobs’ spirituality: “he didn’t stay long enough to get the Buddhist part, the compassion part, the sensitivity part”.

Keeping it Simple:  It’s About Spiritual Practices, Not Spiritual Experiences

I want to continue to mature spiritually; however, I know that it’s important to keep the path simple – and that’s why I’m writing this. It can be very difficult to distill the spiritual path into something that’s simple, yet effective – something that doesn’t rob you of the other aspects of your identity. To me this is the danger of those like Eckhart Tolle who advocate a very hard line approach to “enlightenment” that can lead followers to dive head first into full on dissociation from who they are.

I enjoy some of Tolle’s ideas, but I do not place others on pedestals, nor do I subscribe to the cult of personality. This is one of the reasons why I enjoy those like Sam Harris who promote a kind of psycho-spiritual approach to spirituality. which melds ancient truths with modern neuroscience and psychology.

To me, the spiritual path is about spiritual practices, not spiritual experiences.

So, when I heard Sam Harris define unconditional love for his friend as ‘wanting him to be happy’, something made me want to look deeper into this simple phrase.

The Four Immeasurables 

The True Impetus for this entry was when I began googling ‘love is wanting others to be happy‘.

I came across the Buddhist concept of Brahmavihara, or The Four Immeasurables (Not to be confused with The Four Noble Truths).

The Four Immeasurables Meditation referenced in the video above is available for free, if you join as a guest of GoBeyond.org (I have no affiliationn with this organization.)

The Four Immeasurables from Wikipedia:

  1. Loving-kindness: the hope that a person will be well; “the wish that all sentient beings, without any exception, be happy.”
  2. Compassion: the hope that a person’s sufferings will diminish; “the wish for all sentient beings to be free from suffering.”
  3. Empathetic joy: joy in the accomplishments of a person—oneself or another; sympathetic joy; “the wholesome attitude of rejoicing in the happiness and virtues of all sentient beings.”
  4. Equanimity: learning to accept loss and gain, good-repute and ill-repute, praise and censure, sorrow and happiness all with detachment, equally, for oneself and for others. Equanimity is “not to distinguish between friend, enemy or stranger, but regard every sentient being as equal. It is a clear-minded tranquil state of mind—not being overpowered by delusions, mental dullness or agitation.”

The source wikipedia cites has much more information on the Four Immeasurables than included above, and obviously there’s much more to Buddhism than a few paragraphs, and I certainly do not claim to be an expert on Eastern Philosophy, but I am a firm believer in increasing your quality of life through the knowledge and timeless wisdom available via the study of ancient texts – as I have done with Stoic philosophy.

While it’s too early to offer an educated opinion on The Four Immeasurables, I immediately love that these tenets are not only a powerful set of paradigms for relieving suffering, but also a set of very healthy, humanistic principles for living gently. It blows my mind that at 29 years of age I have never been exposed to this. This is precisely the information our society should be teaching the next generation – lord knows I could use it.

However, even without exposure to The Four Immeasurables beforehand, I already had a preexisting understanding and appreciation for these virtues individually as a result of my interest in mindfulness and my own inquisition into my soul and the soul of the world.

Putting it All Together

I’ve covered a lot in this entry – and please keep in mind that 7Saturdays is very much a personal, non-commercial blog, and as such is a living record of my own journey through life.

Ultimately, my spirituality is central to my identity – but I am not a spiritual teacher; although, these entries are designed to profit you too, my dear reader.

At the end of the day, I truly want to embody unconditional love – and I know that it doesn’t come from taking drugs, or watching hours of spiritual videos, but living in a way that’s harmonious with my own nature, and the nature of the world.

I’m a heart warrior and an idealist, and that means I will always hold dear to the principles of  kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. While these are among a myriad of virtues I value, unlike many of the other virtues I desire to embody, I know these things come from within. Unconditional love, and oneness, and connection is what you are, and provided you have been blessed with good mental health, these things are all naturally in your nature, whether you know it yet or not.

Being born into the complex world of modern society is not conducive to unconditional love, but it’s not prohibitive either. You just have to dive a bit deeper to find it.

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Read this next: The Importance of Mindfulness and the Connection between Mindfulness and Meditation

We are All in Flux: The Importance of Coping with Whatever Comes Your Way

Tonight I received another superb answer to one of the questions I subscribe to on Quora.

What is the most important life lesson that you have learned up to this point?

The answer is as follows:

Life never goes as we plan. We are all in flux from the moment of birth. The most important lesson I have learned so far is that the ability to cope and handle whatever comes my way is the most important tool one has.

Coping skills are unique to each person. Each day we face the unknown. Are we ready to handle each day? When things happen such as a crisis, a death,  a heartbreak, a lost job etc…”This too shall pass”. Always keep stepping forward. Sometimes we must take baby steps to get back up, but we must take the steps.

If you look back to your younger years and remember what was so frightening to you back then, and look at yourself today, you will understand how we continue to grow, outgrow, and move forward no matter what we encounter. It is the nature of life. So be here now and love those you care about NOW. Take chances, be your own individual part of this grand universe of which we are only a little speck in the grand scheme of things. This is the most important lesson in my life and I am happy for it.


Accept that Flux is Guaranteed

An almost obvious truth, but it’s taken me 29 years to learn to accept the unalterable fact that there is no destination in life and that flux is guaranteed. In fact, one of the best things I have done for myself is to fortify my soul to face the reality of constant change. I’ve done this by giving my own inner-child the security I need to feel okay.

Hold Fast to Who You Are

As I wrote in These Require No Gifts of Circumstance, ‘inner-peace and true wellbeing are grounded in knowing who you are, what you believe in, and what you’re made of’. Everything outside of these core tenets of your identity is simply beyond your control.

For me coping is about holding dear to the things that make me “me”. The things that cannot be taken or broken. This is what keeps my inner-child secure.

For there is no doubt that you will be tested, and you will find yourself alone and traversing the bridge from night to morning as the wolves of fear clamor at your door. As F. Scott Fitzgerald wrote in The Crack Up, “in a real dark night of the soul it is always three o’clock in the morning, day after day”. So, when you are there – and there seems to be no rescue coming to your aid, then you must hold fast to who you are (this seems to bestow tangible consequence to the maxim “this to shall pass” – for you will still be who you are).

Be Stoic: Anticipate Loss

Beyond this practice of staying connected to my true-self and remaining mindful of my inner voice, Stoic philosophy has been instrumental in allowing me to cope with adversity with far greater ease today than I could muster in my younger years.

A large part of the reason this answer spoke to me deeply is that it puts adversity and flux into the greater context of life as an inherent aspect of being human. I don’t think I had ever accepted this [flux as part of living] until this year, when I began to study Stoic teachings at a much deeper level and started to view loss as an anticipatory emotion.

The ancient Stoics encouraged the practice of rehearsing and imagining loss, as Epictetus writes in Enchiridion:

This you ought to practice from morning to evening, beginning, with the smallest things and those most liable to damage, with an earthen pot, with a cup. Then proceed in this way to a tunic to a little dog, to a horse, to a small estate in land: then to yourself, to your body, to the parts of your body, to your brothers. Look all round and throw these things from you. Purge your opinions so that nothing cleave to you of the things which are not your own, that nothing grow to you, that nothing give you pain when it is torn from you; and say, while you are daily exercising yourself as you do there, not that you are philosophizing, for this is an arrogant expression, but that you are presenting an assertion of freedom: for this is really freedom.

See Misfortunes as Mere Setbacks Rather Than Abject Failures

I think previous to this practice [of anticipating loss] I was denying flux as a base aspect of life; as a result of denying adversity as an inevitable facet of being alive, I naturally viewed my misfortunes as abject failures rather than normal setbacks. My losses up until recently in my life had broken me numerous times.

Understand That The Majority of Suffering is Self-Imposed

I think I almost felt as if I was karmically persecuted at some level; just an unfortunate wretch, bound to go through long spells of suffering. But now I sigh, knowing the suffering was largely self-imposed (Thank you Stoicism). For I know now that I will be okay no matter what, and I no longer hold up my worst days against my best. Instead, as the answer’s author advises, I focus on being here now and loving those I care about NOW – and I am capable of doing this because I have learned how to (effectively) cope with whatever comes my way.

For You’re One of The Lucky Ones

Note: The original Song and video are great as well, but I find this remix slightly less melancholy.

Sometimes I don’t think it’s fair -
But I smile,
Because life is good to me

You might think this notion silly,
And for a time, I did too
But trust me –

You see, I’ve been in love twice
And provided I go on living,
I believe it will be thrice

And that’s alright by me, for life is quite sweet
Because I can fuck everything up
And still grab victory from the jaws of defeat

So I look back lovingly on rainy drives and sunny days in parks
Yet I look ahead now – and I know,
There’s always light after dark

And to the heart long-hurting for a love whose time has passed
I verily tell thee:
Unclench your wrectched grasp
Love only that which is fated for you,
And once you release the rest
You will begin anew

Yes – you will live again with an open heart
But for this to happen,
You must accept the gift of a new start
And please, don’t think this advice generic or naive
It’s the declaration of my twenties, from the wisdom of it’s eve
-
Because back then,
You never thought she would leave
But now you see
You’ve been given the gift of a reprieve

So survey all you have,
And go create all you need
For you will love, and you will be loved again
And you will have to let go of it all, again and again
And this is life
So live with head and hopes held high
For you’re one of the lucky ones

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Edit: As a poet I’m fairly transparent, and I think it’s safe to say this will be my final poem on relationships for some time as it caps a series of poems I have written during and after a breakup (from someone with whom I remain on relatively dear terms with). Heartache is certainly fertile ground for any artist – but there is more to life than relationships, and I think I’ve tilled the soil well.

I’m very thankful to have come out of love and loss a better man for having been through it. There were times I never would have imagined that could be possible. And I’m sure I owe a lot of my healing to the poems themselves, and it’s my very hope that they help heal something within you, my dear reader. Love and light – love, and light.

Applying The Rule of 3: Is it true? Is it Necessary? Is it Kind?

I enjoy subscribing to certain questions on Quora.

Today I received an email with a particularly good answer to the question: What is the best advice your father ever gave you?

The answer I received is as follows:

My father told me to follow the rule of 3 in life.
Some of the examples are:

If you want to buy something, ask yourself 3 questions:

    Is it necessary?
    Do I need it right now?
    Is it worth its price?

If answer to all of this is yes then only buy it.

Before you speak anything, ask yourself 3 questions:

    Is it true?
    Is it necessary?
    Is it kind?

If the answer to all of this is yes then only speak.
 
This has helped me tremendously in my life because I can apply this method to almost everything in my life.


Of course, this is the kind of thing we see posted on social media almost daily – with a myriad of inaccurate sources, and as such, it can be easy to let it go as unnoticed as any of the dozen-or-so quotes you may encounter on a daily basis.

However, what makes this wonderful is that it’s not just a quote, but a paradigm; a lens via which we can look through to gain better clarity before we act.

How many times have we spoken without certainty that something is necessary, true, or kind?

How many times have we purchased something that wasn’t necessary, that we didn’t need right then, or that wasn’t worth the price?

By applying the “rule of 3″, as the answer calls it, we have a simple framework for making better decisions.

Interestingly, upon Googling the quote, it turns out it originates from a Victorian book of poems called “Miscellaneous Poems,” published in 1872 (Source: FakeBuddahQuotes.com). The poem is written by Mary Ann Pietzker and is aptly titled “Is It True? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?

“Is It True? Is It Necessary? Is It Kind?

Oh! Stay, dear child, one moment stay,
Before a word you speak,
That can do harm in any way
To the poor, or to the weak;
And never say of any one
What you’d not have said of you,
Ere you ask yourself the question,
“Is the accusation true?”

And if ’tis true, for I suppose
You would not tell a lie;
Before the failings you expose
Of friend or enemy:
Yet even then be careful, very;
Pause and your words well weigh,
And ask it it be necessary,
What you’re about to say.

And should it necessary be,
At least you deem it so,
Yet speak not unadvisedly
Of friend or even foe,
Till in your secret soul you seek
For some excuse to find;
And ere the thoughtless word you speak,
Ask yourself, “Is it kind?”

When you have ask’d these questions three—
True,—Necessary,—Kind,—
Ask’d them in all sincerity,
I think that you will find,
It is not hardship to obey
The command of our Blessed Lord,—
No ill of any man to say;
No, not a single word.

May the Rule of 3 serve you well my dear reader – and perhaps as the gentleman’s father had taught him to apply a rule of 3 for purchases, you too can create and apply your own rules of 3 to help you make better decisions in your life; i.e., before you eat, ask yourself “Am I hungry?, do I need to eat something?, and is this healthy?”

This is just an example made up on the fly, and of course life isn’t always that simple, but picking up little tricks along the way like the rule of 3 can help us improve our ability to make healthy and intelligent decisions. As the answer’s author wrote: This has helped me tremendously in my life because I can apply this method to almost everything in my life.

On Choosing to Be Kind

Update: 10/31/2014

I wrote this entry while being emotionally riled, and while I feel I did an effective job of being constructive with my emotions and providing a great deal of substance to the reader, I do not feel I wrote all of this in the proper tone or from the optimal perspective.

As such, I was thankful to come across a good article this evening on the subject of good and evil, as the ancient Stoic philosopher Epictetus saw it.

While I feel this doesn’t negate what I have written, I think it contributes a vital perspective to my narrative.

To quote:

“When you see people, things, and circumstances during your day, Epictetus advises us to break away from of our habit of seeing them as good or bad. Their labels of good and bad can only be attached by our judgment, not from who or what they truly are. They are simply part of nature and the world we all work within.”

Even from one who reviles us?’
Why, what good does the athlete get from the man who wrestles with him? The greatest. So my reviler helps to train me for the contest: he trains me to be patient, dispassionate, gentle. You deny it? You admit that the man who grips my neck and gets my loins and shoulders into order does me good, and the trainer does well to bid me ‘lift the pestle with both hands’, and the more severe he is, the more good do I get: and are you going to tell me that he who trains me to be free from anger does me no good? That means that you do not know how to get any good from humankind.” – Epictetus.

“Here, Epictetus isn’t only saying problems aren’t bad but that they can be beneficial! If this still doesn’t make sense to you, then consider the weightlifting room at your local gym. Some people spend hours using those heavy weights in various positions and movements. In fact, they usually pay membership dues just for the privilege. They view these weights as a good. However, if someone has a job that requires he lifts boxes with similar weights as found in our gym example, would he think lifting those boxes is a good? Probably not. He certainly wouldn’t pay membership dues for the privilege. Instead, he expects to be compensated. So there you have two similar activities that are viewed by people as different because their interpretations are different, not the activities themselves.”

“Therefore, next time we run into someone angry or face a hopeless situation, we must remember what Epictetus has taught us today.”

This reinforces the themes of Stoicism and the value of adversity that were originally included initially within this entry, but I wanted to add this update as I think it places greater focus on these perspectives, which can greatly lighten the burden on our soul. All in all, not my favorite entry because of the emotionally fueled place it came from, but I’m happier with it after the addition of this update. For all intents and purposes I must remind myself that ‘this is a blog’, and as such I am allowed to make mistakes in conveying my ideas. – LB


I want to make this a short entry because it’s not worth many words, but it’s worth saying.

Edit: this is not a short entry, but it’s very much worth reading. Enjoy.

There are shitty people in the world.

As much as I have clung to the denial of this truth in my unconquerable lust for idealism, I can no longer deny this as a basic tenet of life – some people just fucking suck. And I don’t mean this in the way of people letting you down, sure that happens; however, what I’m talking about is the people who are well over the black and white line of decency on the spectrum of humanity.

I’m talking about people who physically threaten others, people who project their ugliness onto others where they inherently sense vulnerability, and people who just don’t give one iota of fucks about you and would probably enjoy whatever harm would come to you. People who in fact make a concerted effort to perpetuate whatever kind of harm or injury they might inflict on you – verbal, emotional, physical, or psychic.

If you read me you know that I’m a positive person. If you know me, you know this. But there’s no use in pretending these people don’t exist. We’ve all encountered them – within and beyond our circle of friends.

These are the bullies in life – male and female, straight and gay, of all races and classes. These are the people who wish others ill will – and whether they gain pleasure from it I cannot say, but they certainly aren’t averse to your suffering and at the very least they are indifferent to it.

And what of these less than great individuals – how do we go about living in a world where we have to share the same beautiful air with these absolute jerks?

I’ve never really asked myself this.

Up until now I suppose I’ve reacted as child might when confronted with someone who is just plain nasty; I’ve felt a mixture of equal parts hurt and shock. A kind of how on earth? feeling.

But I’m tired of it. I’m tired of being surprised by the ugly side of humanity, and in my twenty-nine years I’ve seen my fair share of it. As I once heard someone quip: “If you ever meet someone who tells you they haven’t been abused, then you are talking to a goddamned liar”. We’ve all been subject to abuse; we’ve all been treated far worse than we deserve -whether we know it or not, but it’s not difficult to single out instances in our lives where another has denied us our humanity, our dignity. This is a part of life. As is said in Rocky IV, life ain’t all sunshine and roses; the world is a very mean and nasty place.

Regardless of the inevitability of this, I’ve always done my best to meet incredulous persons with compassion. After all, we have all acted poorly; we’ve all been guilty of being shitty at one time or another and we all carry the scars of living. But at the same time, some of us don’t put our poison into others – instead, we use coping mechanisms and we integrate our experiences into our interpersonal behavioral schemas in a manner that is basically benevolent towards others.

So, what separates those who internalize their pain and transfigure it into something livable from the people who externalize it in a manner that makes life less livable?

I suppose compassion has a lot to do with it. But one of the little known things about compassion, and one of the things that makes compassion so interesting, is that compassion for the self is not relative to the amount of compassion we have for others. This is grounded in university research (Kristin Neff PHD).

The lack of correlation between compassion for the self and others is very counter-intuitive at a certain level – but once you examine this it makes perfect sense: some people possess ample compassion for others, yet have very little for themselves, yet others have ample compassion for themselves, yet they have very little compassion for others.

Frankly I’m slightly envious of those in the latter category. Not that I think it’s admirable to have less compassion for others than for yourself, but it’s certainly rational and pragmatic to a degree. I’ve lived my life with a deep degree of compassion and empathy for others. And as anyone in my shoes knows, there is a thin line between compassion for others and being an absolute doormat.

Being compassionate has caused me to remain attached to people long after I should have let go. Being compassionate has made me love people who could care less about what city I live in today. Being compassionate has made me very naive in many ways. It’s difficult to look back on this facet of myself and feel like this has been a strength of mine – but it’s been a virtue nonetheless. It’s made me a better person. It’s helped me stay connected to my innocence. It’s helped me stay optimistic and openhearted. It’s helped me be forgiving of others, but the downside is that I have always assumed I was due the same forgiveness I would give another.

And this is where life starts to feel unfair – when you feel like the world’s not nearly as kind to you as you are to it.

And so, at 29, here I am – and as I write this I am feeling like there are far too many rough edges and sharp corners in the world.

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Poetry: The Asker and The Giver

When you numb
You don’t heal the pain
You merely go beneath the surface
Where you can’t feel the rain

But what you really need,
Is just the safety to breathe -
The security to be yourself
– Beautiful and free

See yourself as you wish to be
And be yourself as you wish to be
Let go of the present – it’s soon to be the past
Claim what is yours, it’s within your grasp

You can receive what you wish
But you first must ask
Then it is yours -
Go complete the task

You are the giver and the receiver
The wisher and the believer
So believe believe believe,
And receive receive receive

But you must act
That is all you must do
Carefully choose your plans,
Then dutifully follow through

For you can be, do, and have anything,
But no one can do it for you -
Just as you cannot do this for someone else
So do it for happiness
Do it for wealth

The world is yours
And everything in it
So if you’re in the game of life,
Be in it to win it

You can be anything
Who are you?
What are you commanding?
By what do you do?

Create value -
Then deliver
And this is how you are to be
Both the asker and the giver

Meditations Session Six: The Immortal Soul, Embracing the Tribe, and This Thing Called Life

In accordance with my Meditations, and in the spirit of my original Transcendental Realizations, I dove deep into my mind the other night on a journey of loving self discovery.

My intention with this spiritual and meditative journey was to go deep within my psyche and do some healing to remove the subconscious barriers standing between me and my desires. Two nights before this I dreamt that I cut open a small spiritual statue I own and in my dream I replaced the head of the statue with the outstretched open-palmed hand, and the very night after this journey I dreampt I was climbing high up a mature tree and pulling down the old, dry branches – so, if the inherent symbolism of my dreams is any indication then I think it’s safe to say I did progress greatly in the desired direction of my intentions.

So after a beautiful day spent at the beach with my father, and an evening spent journaling and eating frozen yogurt, I am seated here tonight listening to good music and transcribing my notes verbatim from this meditation.

The first set of notes were taken first thing in the morning after spending the night meditating with candles and music. The next were written in my journal in the park near my house after waking from a deep slumber.

The Immortal Soul

  • To became one with the soul is to meet your loneliness, to feel oneness with the sadness of life, to have seen the full spectrum of being human
  • To understand the human experience is to innately feel it
  • To transcend a human experience is to have one
  • It’s all oneness – as it is, with my lot as a man
  • To be imperfect is perfect
  • The point of anxiety is no anxiety
  • Once anxiety has given you something abandon it

Embracing Your Tribe (Your Humanity)

  • A part of every human desires death (Freud?), but it’s escape they want
  • We are all our fathers
  • There’s no escaping your tribe (being human)
  • Forgiving your tribe (and yourself) requires embracing all of it – because you’ve seen it (good and bad)
  • There is no forgiving yourself for what you didn’t do
  • Don’t hate yourself for being a good guy
  • Being human is messy

This Thing Called Life

  • Everything’s already happened before in the universe’s eyes
  • It’s a painting, not a masterpiece [life]
  • No meaning will make sense of it
  • No writing can encapsulate it
  • It’s what is
  • Life’s fair for neither sex
  • But you’ve got to claim a seat at the table to eat
  • There is such a thing as evolutionary consciousness
  • Suffering is shared amongst humanity
  • It’s not your job to suffer for all of humanity
  • Make right of your life
  • Make it yours entirely
  • Life is a romance
  • And a comedy
  • Don’t try and relive anyone else’s coming of age
  • You can’t win it because it never ends
  • There’s no arrival point in life
  • You are here
  • Attitude and outlook is everything
  • Life is an evolutionary process
  • Your life can only be as good as you make it
  • Will Smith gets it (see end of post)
  • Rise up. Rise above.
  • No one can deny you your frame
  • Perception is everything

From my journal

  • Really saw my situation in a much needed light. Many realizational facets of it but mainly a sense of my share of being a human being.
  • And a deep sense that no one can deny what you bring into consciousness.
  • And consciousness is reality and our perception dictates what we experience.
  • No one can deny you your frame.
  • - redacted re: childhood shame, and learned inner programming about self-worth -
  • I feel like last night I reconnected with both my innocence and an ancient part of me – my ancient masculine
  • But facing the ancient masculine, and your masculine sexuality is about owning your lot as a man. To take what you’ve been given in life and (use that energy to) make it better.
  • Anyway, I’m tired of over-analyzing, over-thinking – I need to acknowledge the anxious insecurity of that.
  • I’m ready to live. No one big answer is going to give me the ticket to that.
  • I’ve got to live. My life is my life. My name is my name.
  • I don’t want to live through the lens of sad songs.
  • I want to change the tone of my life from the (American) narrative of “I’m a hardworking man with a good heart, just trying to make it” – to “I’m Lawrence Black, cut from the same cloth as the greats, and I am an openhearted soul-rebel and I am thriving!”
  • Last night was facing the shame of the wild man and accepting that life is facing the shame but seeing that it is false – it’s a part of life, of being human to feel that [shame], but part of being human is also seeing that the greatness exists as well.

Bonus: Get Jiggy With Serious Truth