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A New Insight

I love challenge. My competitive streak is widely known amongst my friends and I’ve become accustomed to others’ apprehension about playing even trivial games with me. Of course, others enjoy that side of me (if they’re on my team and like winning, for example). But that (honestly, good natured) aspect of me is a microcosm of how I seek much of the pleasure in my life. I seek gratification in attaining professional success, dreaming up novel or strong arguments, looking superficially good, finding a great romantic partner – for the most part, standard goals.

In my quest for strong arguments I find it useful to immerse myself in the arguments of contrary opinion. So I’ve been thinking about attempting a contrary path to pleasure for a while now. I’ve researched a bit on The Insight Mediation Center and am tempted to try it out. It seems so opposite me without being antagonistic to me that I think it might be a healthy new experience.

Honestly, this wasn’t me having an epiphany or me challenging myself by trying out creationism or communism. Among some other people I hugely respect, Sam Harris has been pushing nonbelievers to open themselves up to “spirituality” without the woo. In this otherwise unremarkable Nightline interview with Sam, it is revealed that he’s planning on writing a book on spirituality “devoid of God.” I couldn’t be more excited to read something like that.

Furthermore, in his response to Edge’s latest question, Sam explains how thought is the “primary source of human suffering and confusion.”

I invite you to pay attention to anything — the sight of this text, the sensation of breathing, the feeling of your body resting against your chair — for a mere sixty seconds without getting distracted by discursive thought. It sounds simple enough: Just pay attention. The truth, however, is that you will find the task impossible. If the lives of your children depended on it, you could not focus on anything — even the feeling of a knife at your throat — for more than a few seconds, before your awareness would be submerged again by the flow of thought. This forced plunge into unreality is a problem. In fact, it is the problem from which every other problem in human life appears to be made.

Andreas Kluth also frequently points out the benefits of a “still mind” – he even nominated Patanji, who expressed this notion, as the greatest thinker in history. Blogging demands a mind cleanse every so often as well.

Do any readers have any insights or advice they’d like to share about my search for a new perspective?

  1. January 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm

    You’ve put me in august company. Thank you. Harris, as it were, expresses/channels Patanjali perfectly in that quote.

    “…In my quest for strong arguments I find it useful to immerse myself in the arguments of contrary opinion. … am tempted to try it out. It seems so opposite me without being antagonistic to me that I think it might be a healthy new experience…”

    Great attitude! Hurrah. Let that be our guiding light.

  2. Bill
    January 18, 2011 at 8:26 pm

    Dan-Welcome to the journey we all face at one time or another in our lives. I went from devout Catholic to experimenting in other religions to no religion to agnostic to spiritual. By spiritual I mean that I am open to something, not sure what it is, but open the comfort I reach by simply hoping. I tried to learn the right path to this “spirituality” from others, but at the end of the day, I believe the discovery must come from within. The good news is that it really isn’t as complicated as the “religious” would have you believe. One thing I have centered on (and interestingly you have brought forward) is the idea of thought. I am open to thoughts having a greater impact on our lives than we think. Whether it string theory or the Law of Attraction, I don’t know. So while it may be important to focus on something, I choose to focus on either the positive or the present. I’m sure you have heard about “living in the now”. I think this pattern of thought is safe. Two books I recommend for greater insight than I can provide are Eckhart Tolle A New Earth and Michael Singer’s The Untethered Soul. Of course, spirituality is like dieting- so what works for me may not be good for you. Just my two cents. Bill

  3. January 18, 2011 at 11:25 pm

    Thank you gentlemen, appreciate the responses.

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