First, we must become conscious of ourselves: of our words, our actions, our thoughts and our senses. Buddha taught this, but it is reflected everywhere (think as simply as Dark Side of the Moon, or The Little Prince). I try for awareness because I think it will help me understand what I want and how I can get it – a kind of life-map, if you will. There’s no sense trying to become an international Opera soprano if you’re not willing to have your balls cut off. After some self-reflection, I think peace of mind is my first priority, as I can’t be solely happy if I’ve worries in the back of my mind. Likewise, I can’t really think about something until I think about it.
(By this I mean you can’t worry and think at once, just as you can’t write a letter and carry on a conversation at once. This shouldn’t be confused with the feeling of worry, which does not actually occupy the mind. If you can think of two things at the same time … fuck.)
With this awareness also comes knowledge of what is fleetingly satisfying and what provides redeeming feelings. The simplest example is likely the fact that it’s more satisfying to learn something or play sports than it is to sit around and masturbate all day. You’ll call me somewhat of a Freudian, but I think the comparison is clear: sleeping and smoking weed nonstop gets so boring after a while; you’ll need to go do something. That’s not to say this is never permissible – on the contrary, I think it’s necessary in some ways. But if you dedicate yourself with mind and spirit to accomplish something and you realize that success, it is often much more deeply gratifying than something easy. The trick is to be aware that this feeling will come if you work for it – to positively reinforce your mind with good feeling every time you do something right, which isn’t necessarily easy (in either case).
Once you become aware, though, you realize the effect you have on your environment and the people within it. You begin to see the extent of your influence, and so you cathect it (i.e., to ‘love’ it – it is ‘important’ to you, like your job or girlfriend). However, seeing the world around you and how you can affect it, you develop a feeling that the world matters, and that there is some sense to life. Thus, your actions matter, and if you hurt or help someone, it matters. In fact, I think it only matters if you decide it does. If you don’t, then you are free to enjoy the easy pleasures of the world, but in my short-lived experience it’s rarely worth it. The entire gray-area in between goes without saying.*
If you think there is some meaning – anything you want – in life, you are faced with a subsequent level of responsibility. If you are aware of your self and desire peace of mind, you must mind the self to act the way you believe it should act. Think about what matters for your life. Some believe money matters – I disagree, obviously, and think that kind of attitude stems from lack of self-awareness. To think is to temporarily silence the impulsive feelings in order to reap the rewards of conscious thought. That is what makes us human.
For complete peace of mind – a blessing? – you need to believe everything you do is right. This means you need to question yourself, to challenge your actions and be open to confrontation. This is dedication to the truth, to being wrong, to humility. I think everyone has little things they wouldn’t want anyone to know about, much less take away. I’m not interested in complete “perfection”, if you can call it that; I just think whatever we enjoy doesn’t need to be hidden. If you are trying to improve, you should be open about mistakes. People often lie to cover up the simplest inadequacies – but why? I think we each have a web of lies, big or small, that we have to work to upkeep. It’s tiring and will never allow for total peace of mind. This is what I mean by shifting your perception: why be afraid of challenge or judgment? They give opportunities to grow, and if you truly try nobody can accuse you. If you constantly give effort, you dispel the inadequacies you feel about yourself. Quite simply: you cannot solve a problem without solving it.
The interesting thing about this whole process is: no matter how much effort you put in, the reward is always greater; it is simply that we require great awareness to always see it. The reward is in the journey, the chase, the process. Good effort often leads to some result, but just as in poker, results can be misleading. However, through continuous growth, you always become more aware and more able, and results improve rapidly. It becomes easier to will yourself to do things for your own good, and then reward yourself for it. It’s like a vicious cycle of self-love.
I wrote this after trying to climb some trees. I was edgy tonight and wanted to expel some anger – the best way to do this is physically. For half an hour, didn't focus on anything except climbing trees. I tried about eight times to climb this last one, but I didn’t make it. It was a great effort though.
I rambled for a bit – sorry for the lack of structure. Please leave comments and disagree with me.
*This may sound stupid, but I thought of this theorem that if you’re debating any moral scenario and you can think of two extreme cases, then there is gray area anywhere in between. Kind of like extreme value thm but for life.