Friday, April 13, 2012

The thought tree, the thought web.

As I spoke in
I believe that the mind is made up of thought trees. I brought this up in a post at HighExistence and many responded, a few replied with what they thought was more appropriate: A thought "web" where thoughts are more connected to everything, rather than in chain. I do believe this to be true, but let me explain what a possible structural representation may be like.

We have very strong, deep, "Root" or "Trunk" thoughts - those which everything else stem from, one of which I am sure is "Who am I?" (for most people). This thought branches out to "What do my parents want?" "What do I love", "What am I capable of (Am I smart? Am I strong?)" etc...

But contrary to what would appear to be the case, thoughts arise from events in our daily lives, and get transferred to the very outer branches. These outer branches are much more specific like "Should I buy this for $5?" This branch thought is webbed to many thoughts, like "My friend just bought one" or "I could really use one" - these pseudological calculations are webbed to our event-induced thoughts. They are usually not important thoughts, and in eastern cultures such as buddhism, these "web" thoughts are the monkey brain - usually very little is accomplished with these thoughts, unless we can find solid proof of a logical need like "Oh its actually Tuesday and this item is free on Tuesdays".

But where does the tree structure come in?

The tree structure would come in on how you  perceive the 5 dollars and the item of interest. If you believe 5 dollars is something to be considered, then this is going down towards the base of the trunk, here you believe that spending 5 dollars isn't important. Going further down the trunk you may think of how big your paycheck is, and what possibilities that gives you. Further down you may think of how your job presents yourself - (is it an elite class job? 5$ shouldn't be anything!). Even further down you may think that you believe that you should be able to take whatever you want.

So, you see, the branches on which events "land" (per-se) are governed by your tree structure.

Had you, for instance, grown a tree with branches that ask questions like "Is this 5 dollars spent going to really make me happier?" or "Is this item of quality?" your trunk may be "What really makes me happy?" "How can I get the most out of life?"

So you see, the trees you plant are incredibly important to who you are (well - they are who you appear to be!).

The next blog will need some considerable thought. I will be contemplating how to cut and grow trees, and how difficult it truly is.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

How many thoughts are you made up of?

Hey learners.

I've found this topic to be extremely interesting. How many thoughts do you think you have a day? Different thoughts, about different things? Probably thousands, right? We wonder about all kinds of things, from the present to the past to the future, constantly questioning.

These questions often bring anxiety, depression, or feelings of victimization "Why does this always happen to me!" Well it doesn't really, although your mind constructs it in such a way as though it seems to be that way.

But that isn't what this post is about. What I'm going to get into here is we're actually really only a few core thoughts. A handful of thoughts govern all our questions. I will use the following image as an example of what I mean:

[Sorry for the crudeness, I made this in paint in about 25 seconds]

My thinking is, is that all of our thoughts actually stem from actions we have in the world, and then digress into a major "branch" of our logic tree. I personally do not know what the major branch point is, or whether there are many individual trees, so this is just an example. The reason I bring this post up is because although I have found that often, an individual is very complex, my own though structures are incredibly basic, when viewed from this perspective. I often think of only a few things in my life:

1. Questions of personal life; Am I happy? Am I being fulfilled? Am I making others happy?
2. More existential questions, such as; What is "God"? What is consciousness? What is reality? Am I sane? (Hehe)
3. Technical questions; What career do I want? What should I learn today/tomorrow? What is beneficial for me to read?
4. Anxious questions: Does this person like me? Is this alright to wear? Why don't I talk more? Why can't I be like him/her?

The questions of type 1 all fit under the question of "Who am I?", much like the picture above, while numbers 2-4 would probably fit under another thought-tree.

So, what good is knowing this? To be honest I've really not the slightest clue yet! But, I will be back with more. I hope you can relate, and feel free to let me know your thoughts if you agree or disagree.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Extreme emotions

Have you ever felt connected to everything?

Have you ever felt that your life was small, tiny, a fragment of everything's existence?

Have you ever seen your life from a bird's eye view?

I'm guessing most people have. We always see something extremely emotional - whether it be how beautiful our life is, or how terrible. But these emotions are short lived, usually no more than an hour (if soberly-derived...). Yet, most of us don't change after these, most of us act as if "wow that was crazy..." (back to work!).


Don't you ever see those movies where the person drops everything their doing, quits their job, sells their house, does exactly what they would like to? We grab that feeling (the empathy within us [See my post " A day in the life"]) for a short bit, we leave the movie theater feeling hopeful for our lives or questioning whether we're on the right path.  These extreme emotions could launch us into the ideal life. It could launch us into extreme, beneficial change, improvement, evolution.

But it dissipates. Why? Why do we regress? Why do we give into societys' norms, crumbling back into the cubicle, the manual labor, we don't sell the house, we don't travel, we don't explore the world.

As I write this the feeling rises like the tide in my gut. Slowly I, too, realize I am not at my full potential. I have a future, I have plans, goals, but they aren't what I wanted when I was 5 (a pure, although immature, perspective on life). I want to build a greenhouse. I'd like to travel the world. I'd like to live for a few months in the Yukon, the Amazon. I'd like to sky dive. I'd like to write my names on the walls of all the great cities. I'd like to invent. I'd like to solve, to create. I'd like to help.

Why do we 'settle' with our lives.

If you read this, I beg you. Do exactly what you want. Feed these emotions. Strive, build, think, learn.

Be who you are.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Evolution: The fitness landscape

Since I often read/hear incorrect perceptions of evolution which often causes people to misunderstand it. Giving evolution a goal, or an end result is a quick way to misunderstanding.
A very good way to think of evolution is “fitness peaks”. The best way of explaining this is that an organism (or a cell, or a protein, or even a molecule) has a certain amount of fitness in its environment. As a change occurs in the organism or structure, the placement on the fitness :landscape: will change. Imagine a plain, stretching out forever, and in this plain there are small bumps, hills, and a few mountains. Each of these hills and mountains represents a relatively higher amount of fitness compared to the flat plain. In an environment of water, an organism with fins will be at a hill or mountain, where as an organism with stumpy legs will probably be in a valley.
Evolution is driven, remember, by mutations, and mutations, in most aspects, are random. They are caused by radiation, and environmental influences, and sometimes simply just happen due to chance. Since this is random, we can imagine that our organisms, while undergoing certain mutations bounce and skip around this landscape. Sometimes they will go down hill, sometimes they will go up hill, but the ones that are uphill will usually have offspring that are close to the hill, and thus hills will most likely always be populated. However, once in a while, an organism can live in a valley (although perhaps difficult), but from the valley, new hills and mountains can be reached. And so evolution progresses. Humans, with brains, thumbs, eyes, ears, nose, and mouth (amongst other amazing features) are on a mountain. A very, very high mountain.
The thing with these fitness landscapes, however, is that the environment creates hills and valleys. So what was once a mountain (fins in an ocean) can turn into a valley, if say a lake dries up. Fitness landscapes also change in the predator-prey (and subsequently parasite/host + synergistic relationships). A cougar that suddenly gains great night vision will cause the deer’s relative hill to become a valley.
To make evolution more difficult, some organism mutate faster than others (for various reasons, some unexplainable). This puts a whole new spin on evolution – there is the possibility to gain the ability to change (subsequently evolve) more often – this can also cause a fitness landscape to be volatile, creating scenarios where there are no mountains or deep gullies, but nearly all foreseeable changes do little in the way of evolution.
I hope this helps understand evolution a bit more.
Real evolution has no end, no goal. The fact that we see “survival of the fittest” does not mean that changes in the genome tend to be more beneficial to organisms, statistically speaking, I’ll assume that it is quite the opposite.
At any rate, please view evolution objectively. There is no “line” of evolution – there is no thing that evolution tends to go to. Rather, it is survival, which is correlated, but not connected, that has a tendency to choose directions.

[[This post was slightly off the main vibe of my site, but it is one of my pet-peeves.]] Have fun out there!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Urban Shaman

I'm a shaman. I'm not afraid to say that, for any of the various reasons one could be.

I've tripped only a handful of times and have really learned little after my first experience, but I have learned. The first experience was as much of a opening of new doors as would be getting sucked through a high pressure hole inside out. It was not comforting :).

But what I have learned was incredibly valuable. On my way down to the darkest abyss one can experience, I climbed my way to the top again. Remembering every foot hold and pathway I took. I've been able to go back and forth from complete desolation of the soul and mind, to euphoria, and with such an ability have used to to "save" some people. I've had a handful of people email me, responding to various messages, about the words I've put out, that "saved their life".

Due to the fact that this happens, and probably will continue to happen, I never outright condone the use of psychedelics. I know their intensity, and I know the fragility of some perspectives of reality, and mixing the two can have catastrophic effects. People must show a great deal of understanding, education, and self-improvement, which is incredibly important when dealing with these substances - with an intent of spirituality, or at least something beyond "Getting high" and laughing at colors.

I've been able to help only because I have been there. I know the steps one needs to take, rather than the leaps that one wants to take (or others impose). The road from an intense, bad trip, can be a terrifying experience, with a rewarding ending.

Beyond that, however, I have realized a special ability that comes and goes - the ability to see sickness. While I was on a very low dose of ayahuasca I was able to see what was ailing people. For weeks after wards my ability to give back massages was incredibly rewarding, and actually very psychologically stimulating (as I could literally "See" the pain).

This ability to see sickness, is what I believe a true shaman holds. It is a learned trait, not something born into. It is not genetic (I don't think), so I'd hope others may be able to gain this as well.

Shamans of the brazilian rainforest are known for their ability to "see" parasites and sickness long before the conscious mind sees symptoms. Often times, weeks before one would normally go into the hospital. This is not some magical trait, or some divine information - this is simply an extremely acute sense of non-verbal communication. Our brains are extremely similar across the globe, the make up, the neurology, even the psychology - we all have very relate able (conserved) portions of the brain. A shaman knows these like the back of his or her hand, and can see when these portions are acting odd.

The stomach may seem loose, the eyes may be slightly drooped. The shoulders sunken, and heavy. The steps may be rigid, or unbalanced. Our minds adapt quickly to pain & suffering, so many times we may not even know we are in pain at all! Yet to the trained eye, all ailments become highlighted like neon-signs. Curing, is something I do not understand, and have much to learn about. Much has to do with placebo (sorry, I'd like another word) and much has to do with things beyond my understanding. Often the shaman will go into the forest, and plants will "speak" to him or her, presenting themselves for the healing process. Here the shaman takes plants which he knows to be familiar, but really has no understanding of medicinal action, and cures.

I hope to one day obtain this kind of hospitality, this ability to heal, cure, and help beyond some internet-arm-chair-psychology.