The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Many Paths, One Mountain

I'm sitting in a motel room in Jacksonville Florida. In a couple of hours I'll drive three hours up to Quincy to pick up Jason, who has apparently been having a great time with his grandma and grandpa. Then we'll drive to Tallehasse to fly home. Friday I teach three classes at the L.A. Screenwriting Expo. Nicki's mom Toni will come down Saturday, and we'll have a theater party probably Saturday afternoon to see QUANTUM OF SOLACE, for which I just can't wait. I'll probably be meeting with Vin Diesel some time in the next week about Hannibal (the first voice tracks have been laid down, and they sound great!) and next week I'm up in Oregon for Orycon. I'll be having a room party Saturday night for friends I don't have time to sit down and nosh with. Then back to L.A...

##

Lots going on. And at the center of it is a sense of quiet joy. Forty years ago, somehow I knew the world would change in my mid-fifties. I'm 56, and have just witnessed what may be the single greatest event in the history of black people on this planet. How the fuck did I know? Don't know. But it makes me re-evaluate a number of things.

##

Was it a Freudian slip when I said Obama's election was "the greatest event in the history of mankind"? Hey, maybe. But I know that would be absurd. My real thought about the "greatest event in the history of black people" would probably be the invention of fire. But that gets into arguments about what a "black person" is, as well as the fact that we have no idea when and where it happened--and at least one definition of "event" includes "a shared experience." In other words, landing on the moon was important as a technological achievement even if no one knew about it. But the fact that an entire country pooled resources and talents, and then the action itself was witnessed by a gigantic proportion of the human race--THAT made it even more significant. I know of no single, volitional accomplishment/event in black history that has more personal, national, or global implications than this one. Yep, he stood on many, many shoulders: but that's part of the point. It's not about him: it's about US. As a country. As a people. As human beings on every corner of this planet. It validated everything I've ever believed about the nature of humanity and consciousness itself. Of COURSE there are still problems--and will always be. This country will never be any better than its citizens. I don't see perfection in MY mirror. Do you in yours? Unless you do, get over it. We're doing the best we can as little bits of protoplasm, and that's pretty damned good.

First, I no longer believe that I have to concern myself with the negative consequences of destroying my ego shell, of actually achieving sustained non-dualistic awareness. I used to worry that I couldn't be certain that I would be a good father to Jason. Yes, plenty of people said I needn't worry. But I couldn't take the chance. Now I know there is no threat. I am what I am, and have been since childhood. I love my family, I love my life, and there is nothing to fear. Love is at the core of me. The road before me is far clearer than it has ever been. I see, quite clearly, the contribution I can make to the world in the next decade. This time, this moment, is what I have prepared for my whole life.

#

Seeing a thing, and watching people that I love floundering in their lives, blinded with pain and fear, and wondering how in the living hell I could help them...that has led me down some strange paths, to the point where I see this thing that I give lots of different names: "Lifewriting", "I.D.E.A", "The 101 Program"--and so forth. All doorways to the same place.

I am aware of the limitations of any path, or any label. There are genuine risks is walking the path between life and death, and those risks are minimized by managing the intermediate steps and providing balance. A few thoughts:

1) I am obsessive about balance. Without balance, the obsession necessary to achieve excellence can tear your life to pieces.

2) I assume that people are lying if they say they don't want money, a romantic/sexual partner, and a smokin' hot body. I know DAMNED well that these three don't actually apply to 100% of human beings...but frankly, I think they apply to better than 99%, and that's good enough for me. My apologies to those who have genuinely grown beyond the desire for these things...but then, if you've genuinely grown beyond them, you know exactly what I'm talking about, and my intentions. If my statement about what everyone wants causes any emotion save mild amusement, take a closer look.

3) Enlightenment is the door of perception that opens at the moment of death...only you open it before you get there.

4) Enlightenment has no practical value--however, the precursive stages "awakeness" and "human adulthood" are about as useful as anything you can possibly imagine. Every one of us should aspire to these two things.

5) The doorway to adulthood is sometimes called "the point of conation"--a word of relatively recent origin that relates to will, drive, and the ability to take responsibility for who and what you are and do.

6) There are many paths, but only one mountain.

7) My path of awakening is to take TOTAL responsibility for every action you take, and every result you have in the arenas of physical health/fitness, personal relationships, and career. On a Newtonian level, yes, the universe affects us. But how much? Impossible to say. I suggest that you assume that you are co-creating your life with the Universe, take responsibility, and go for it. No excuses...but retain compassion for the child you were. At every moment of your life, you have done the best you can with the resources you have.

8) The core components, boiled down to the simplest components I can find, are:

a) A time frame of at least 6 weeks. We use 101 days.

b) Intermittent Fasting (or eating ONLY fresh fruits and vegetables every other day) during this time frame: to increase energy, free time, and force contact with core emotional truths.

c) The Soulmate Process--looking at relationships as a mirror. And the relationship you yearn for most deeply as a mirror of your own idealized or corrupted self.

d) The Five Tibetans. As a simple, basic "False Physiological Profile" or "Perfect Template" technique, it's the best I've found in terms of accessibility. Anyone who can knock off 21 reps easily doesn't NEED it, that is absolutely true. But for an investment of ten minutes, with free information on performance available all over the internet, the Tibetans are hard, hard to beat.

I use Scott Sonnon's "Be Breathed" technique inside the Tibetans--which creates a doorway to stress management on a grand scale. And if you confront the demons in your life without ever letting stress become strain, you are going to grow at your maximum rate, without ever hurting yourself.

e) Triangle Goal setting. Five times a day, at every hour divisible by a three, you stop and breathe for sixty seconds, while visualizing a triangle. In the middle of the triangle you visualize the end point of your three major goals (body, mind, relationship) that you want in 101 days. If visualization is a challenge, "feel" or "hear" the end points.

#

And the nifty thing is that I can talk to someone on the phone, or over the internet, and ask them what's going on with their Tibetans, fasting, and meditation/goals and get a snapshot of EXACTLY where they are in the process of their lives. Unbelievable diagnostic tool. I honestly don't know how to make this more available, or simpler.

Can any of you? As a doorway to actually owning your own life--with FULL acknowledgement that there is more we can add to this...have I made it too complicated? Is there anything non-essential here, in creating a human being who makes the world safer and better for our next generation of children? Can you see any dead weight?

I'm listening.

16 comments:

suzanne said...

nit-picking cronishly:

fire wasn't invented
it was domesticated . . .
as I think on it
probably the very first domestication

Anonymous said...

I don't want a smoking-hot body. I had it for years, and I got tired and depressed dealing with the way men treated me. I couldn't walk home from work without some man honking and asking if I wanted a ride, and then if I said no, he'd swear at me and swerve the car toward me as he drove off. And on and on. Even now some people perceive me first as a sexual being and second or later as a person with dreams and intentions motivating my behavior other than "incite sexual desire." No matter how modest my dress or behavior, there are too many men who see only their sexual fantasies.

It's *way* easier being fat than dealing with that. When I'm fat far fewer men think of me sexually, so there's room in their brains to think of me other ways.

Mike Ralls said...

>How the fuck did I know?<

My opinion? Combination of looking at changing social trends while guestimating how long they would take to kick in, reading too much sci-fi, and pure coincidence. Also, humans have a tendency to disproportionately remember the predictions that came true while forgetting the vastly greater number of predictions that didn't.

> Of COURSE there are still problems--and will always be. This country will never be any better than its citizens. I don't see perfection in MY mirror. Do you in yours? Unless you do, get over it. We're doing the best we can as little bits of protoplasm, and that's pretty damned good.<

ᅠTruth.

> Without balance, the obsession necessary to achieve excellence can tear your life to pieces. <

I watched "All that Jazz" a little while ago. Great movie about this key concept.

> Enlightenment is the door of perception that opens at the moment of death...only you open it before you get there.<

When you talk about completely shedding your ego-shell and going full tilt after enlightenment, it scares me some for your sake because, counterpoint here and in my opinion - Enlightenment as you use the word doesn't actually exist and those who make the claim of having it are the result of humans having a cobbeled together brain that just barely managed to kludge together concisenesses and self-awareness because they were evolutionary useful. But it's a jury-rigged structure and if you poke it too hard with itself it can and will break.

And if I'm wrong and you are right, can't eternity wait? Don't most myth's and legends say that looking at the face of God causes one to go crazier than a shit-house rat and that you shouldn't do it or even try?

> the ability to take responsibility for who and what you are and do.<

Everything that has happened in my life, and every person I have been, is my responsibility. I resisted that for a long time, but have come to view it as a very useful viewpoint.

>I suggest that you assume that you are co-creating your life with the Universe,<

That's a really nice phrase.

> b) Intermittent Fasting <

Do you ever feel like you're getting diminishings returns from IF? I've done a couple 36 hour fasts in the last month, and I just don't wake up with that tingly feeling and intense awareness of every single square inch of my body being alive and eating its fat. Is that a good thing that my body is adjusting to IF, or is it a sign that I need to mix things up?

Oh, and if it would be useful for your book I could send you a spreadsheet of my daily weight and body fat % while on IF.

>And the relationship you yearn for most deeply as a mirror of your own idealized or corrupted self.<

What would be an example of a relationship that someone yearns for that is a mirror of their corrupted self?

> e) Triangle Goal setting. Five times a day, at every hour divisible by a three, you stop and breathe for sixty seconds, while visualizing a triangle.<

Often when I try to do this it ends up looking like the Tri-force from the Legend of Zelda games.

> Can any of you? <

Looks good to me, I've certainly improved my life a lot over the last 3 years by following at least half of the above.

Posts like this, even the parts I view as being false to reality, are why I come here every day.

Best wishes,
Mike

davidroel said...

Destruction of the ego doesn't happen. What is destroyed is attachment to the ego, identification with the ego.

(There are people who have destroyed their ego -- that's called schizophrenia, and they're in rubber rooms.)

Put some Ken Wilber on your to-read list. :)

-Dave in Anaheim.

Marty S said...

Steve: Excellence may be your goal, its not necessarily everybody's goal. Some people are more interested in other things, like happiness, contentment, or just a lack of tension. Everybody needs some money, but few people need a billion dollars to be feel happy and successful, so for each person financial success is having sufficient money to satisfy their personal needs. At least at my age, I'm more interested in a healthy body than a smokin hot body and lastly, while romance and a good sex life are nice what's better is having found someone who on a daily basis can put with all my faults and still want to stay with me.
In any case that's my take on life.

Lynn Gazis-Sax said...

I remain skeptical about the intermittent fasting; on the other hand, since part of the reason I rarely fast at all is being married to someone with diabetes who needs to keep his consumption of carbs steady rather than fluctuating (and wanting to keep him company with the diabetic diet), I'm glad you're allowing the modification of fruits and vegetables on fasting days.

Anonymous said...

Im clearly my own dead weight.
this is timely. these past 2 weeks had my first non-suicidal suicidal thoughts in yeeears. today i made myself get up and shower for the first time in days. I kept telling myself: you take one step, even it you FALL the Universe will be there to catch you. I'm very interested in the 101. I'd been absent from here so long I thought I'd missed it. Thanks steve. Do we just start? Funny thing,today I said "I might eat only fruit and vegetables tomorrow...maybe live food would help". I'm listening...

Josh Jasper said...

On an unrelated note, I just picked up a copy of "Becoming Batman: The Possibility Of A Superhero" by E Paul Zeher. Interested in me sending it to you when I'm done with it, Steve?

hospodi said...

Steven, you left out humility, mercy, help from above. Short prayers for people are "arrows toward heaven"

watching people that I love floundering in their lives, blinded with pain and fear, and wondering how in the living hell I could help them.

Some guy said...

To Steven: I think there are a lot of people who don't really want "smokin'-hot" bodies, like me. In my case, it has nothing to do with personal evolution or transcending any desires. Mostly, I've always been primarily a nerd, so genius is what I'd lust after; athleticism never seemed to have that much to do with my self-image. The body I have is familiar and comfortable and mostly functional enough for my purposes. (You've seen it; we spoke briefly about a Kundalini Equations sequel at worldcon. Large fellow, but with a sway-back, pot-belly, and one foot in his mouth.) Also, there's function. In today's fashions, a smokin'-hot body implies artificially low fat levels. That strikes me as countersurvival, especially if you live in a cold climate, and you lose some shock insulation no matter where you live. Finally, I do traditional (as opposed to American) tai chi, and, unfortunately, success for males normally means that you're going to look like you have a pot-belly even if you don't. I'm not thrilled about it, but I know that I'd much rather get good at tai chi than have sleek flat abs.

Some guy

Some guy said...

To Anonymous: For what it's worth, a lot of men do really have other priorities than looks. You may be talking to an attractive girl but if she's not intelligent and your eyes are glazing over the attraction can die pretty quickly. Hey, you can always ogle her from out of earshot. ;0)

To stress that this isn't just a PC theory, a couple weeks ago a stunning beauty of my favorite physical type and I struck up a few conversations at a local coffeehouse and then she came by my workplace. (Let me stress that I absolutely do not normally receive this kind of interest. I'm a pot-bellied librarian and she was significantly younger; we're in male fantasy territory here.
:0) ) However she seemed to be a bit of a flake, and too self-involved and judgemental so I quickly lost interest. The beauty was nice, but just not key.

In contrast, if I'm talking to a physically unattractive woman and find out that she got her Ph.D. in physics or some such, I find a slimy grin coming to my face as I lean towards her and say "Reeee-alllly...?" I don't think I'm actually rubbing my hands together, but I wouldn't be surprised.

So my long-winded point is that despite all the commercials, cliches, and jokes a lot of guys genuinely are looking for things beside beauty- nice if you can get it and easier to spot than more important qualities, but definitely not a priority.

Some guy

Some guy

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