End Game Concept #2: Nothing

“It’s nothing! “And this and…”, it’s nothing! “But this thing…”, it’s nothing! “But last night an angel…”, nothing. “Yesterday I almost died!”, nothing. “I had an experience, it was so…” nothing. “I want to be free!” Nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.” – Mooji

The world is filled with nothing, but don’t trust those nihilists, this is a nothing that matters. Because, nothing matters. In part 2 of the series of “End game concepts”, comes, literally, nothing.

Let’s look at a popular idea, self-worth. You imagine it’s something that can be given and taken. Something that you have more or less of compared to your partner, compared to your competition. At work, in relationships, everywhere. Except that’s wrong. Worth isn’t a resource, it can’t be given or traded. It doesn’t activate when it’s validated or confirmed. It won’t start existing no matter what you do, or what anyone else says or does. Worth is a nothing. If it’s not something you can measure or compare, it doesn’t exist, it really, truly is, nothing.

Oh no, what if self-worth was truly not a thing? Could it be that you might live or behave differently? Why not try it out? There is a bigger problem now though, isn’t there? What if other things, aren’t a thing, and are instead, nothing?

Next comes, more nothing. Fear is a lovely kind of nothing. It’s the nothing that is trickiest, because it appears to be everywhere and in everything. Now there are very real fears, bullets for instance, are certainly something to be scared of. Stepping in front of moving traffic too, certainly a valid fear. Most other fears, are a lot less scary. In fact, facing a fear, has the potential to get you something. You may face it, and get nothing, but if you do not face it, you’re guaranteed to get nothing. Thankfully most fears, you’ve also made up. They are also nothing. Think of the last thing you were afraid of doing, but that you ended up doing anyways, how did it feel once you did it? Did you notice how 100% of the fear was entirely made up? Did you realize that, when you decided to ignore the fear, it was… nothing?

The last bit of nothing, is also the strongest. This is the spiritual practice I’ve found to work best. It’s a true return, to nothing. On the same wavelength as profound indifference, the spiritual practice of nothingness is the path to discovering who you really are. When you find out, nothing is actually as real as you thought it was. The need to listen to your parents, the need to follow the career path your on just because you went to school for it, the need to be married by 30. They were all decided by no one, and actually mean nothing.

My practice of spirituality is to wipe away all the nothings, and see if something is left, but I feel there will just be more nothing. How pleasant is that? Nothing to do, nothing to be, nothing to accomplish. Infinite possibility. In this space inside of you, that was once filled by the biases of your family, your culture, your education, once you’ve broken down all those walls, you truly are left with nothing. A beautiful nothing where anything can happen. Where you can truly see yourself and the world, in its full beauty. Where anything you want can be manifested, and you’ll still continue to be who you really are, nothing.

End game concepts are difficult and also, powerfully simple. They can be integrated the moment they are read, or they can be worked towards over time. Don’t believe either option is true, because, well, nothing is really true. Try it out for yourself, question your beliefs, your thoughts, your actions, your habits, and find what’s left when you wipe away all the things that are actually, nothing.
 

 

 

End Game Concept #1: Profound Indifference

“Real nobility is based on scorn, courage, and profound indifference.” – Albert Camus

In this new series of posts, (they have their own category and everything), I’m going to be covering what I call end game concepts. These are mindsets and concepts that are a sort of ‘end goal’. These are the ones you can use all the way until your grave, then maybe into your next life too.

Allow me to save you the trouble of your initial objection “profound indifference” sounds like an excuse not to care about stuff! That wouldn’t be very “profound” though, would it?

Here is an excerpt from the spiritual teacher Krishnamurti to help explain it a bit better:

Indifference comes into being when you listen to that noise with no resistance, go with that noise, ride on that noise infinitely. Then that noise does not affect you, does not pervert you, does not make you indifferent. Then you listen to every noise in the world – the noise of your children, of your wife, of the birds, the noise of the chatter the politicians make – , you listen to it completely with indifference and therefore with understanding.

Profound indifference is to be unshaken by the events of what you are observing, of what is going on inside of you or outside of you. You may take action against injustice, but your core, your real self, remains still. You did not do it because you are reacting, because they threw you off your state, but because you remained “unshaken”, you were able to respond with your full set of resources.

A clear mind, an unbiased and non-judgmental mind, one which sees the full situation for what it really is. Imagine how your perspective of the world and every situation may be then. This is the true way to live authentically in each moment.

Lets look at the following real world example, and then look at it from a reactive position, and one of profound indifference.

You’re on a first date. Perhaps you just came out of a long relationship and you haven’t gone on a date in a long time, and you want things to go well. You really, really want things to go well. Right now you’re exploring again and not really sure what you’re looking for in the short or mid-term. You know you need time to take everything in, and see what the world has to offer you right now.

The first date goes well, and you even got a kiss at the end, it seemed to be great fun for both of you. You really like the other person, and you have a feeling they like you too. You move onto a second date, half way through, they ask “where is this going? I need to know before we continue.”

Things got a bit intense, a little fast, didn’t they? Your gut reaction may be based “well, we’ve had a really great time, I really like this girl, and it seems like if I want to keep going at this, I’ll need to commit to her”. The risk is you rush into something out of fear of hurting the other person, and end up dragging something out because you couldn’t be honest with where you were.

Now let’s look at the “profound indifference” approach. You don’t let the current situation decide your response. You think back to what your situation is, what’s going on, and what you’re looking for. You accept that you aren’t ready to commit to anything serious yet, and you’re still trying to figure things out. Yet you also know you really like her, and want to see where things go, and as such, you respond something like this:

“I’ve had a blast with you so far, I’d love to keep seeing you and see where things go. I’d be interested to know how you feel about all this so far too. I just need to let you know that since just coming out of another long relationship, I’m still in an exploration phase right now. I’m not sure how much I can commit to any one relationship right now. If you’re not cool with it, I can understand, feel free to take time about it to decide what you want to do. We can keep seeing each other until you find someone to commit with as well. At this point I’m happy to explore whatever happens. I’d certainly love to keep seeing you based off our time so far though, I just needed to let you know where I’m at”. 

Some readers may see this as flakey and an inability to commit, but I’m certain they would agree a fully heart-driven answer of authenticity and what a person is really thinking, is much more valuable then a reaction in the moment that will sound good now, but be tragic and painful later.

Lastly, you may say “well that sounds all well and good, but I’m not sure I can do that kind of calm and honest answer with so many emotions up in the air”. You’re right, right now, that may be difficult. Don’t wait until that moment though. Practice it in each moment. With each choice you make. In every situation you are. Check in with yourself, notice where your biases are, how you may be compromising yourself to make others feel good or to avoid some other pain. Notice when you are reacting to a situation instead of deciding what you actually want to do.

Don’t wait for the most stressful or intense situation to start practicing “profound indifference”, do it every chance you get. It will take time, but end game concepts are like super powers, and they are worth taking the time to develop.

Relationship talk based off the teachings of the great lifestyle and no-BS guru James Marshall.

The Worst Case Scenario Experiment

One thing that makes it possible to be an optimist is if you have a contingency plan for when all hell breaks loose. – Randy Pausch

You spot a mistake you did in your workplace, and you panic. You ponder that if you tell your boss, they’ll think you’re a failure, and you’ll be fired. Maybe you just started, maybe you’ve made mistakes in the past and you’re afraid of making more. Thus you run the scenario in your head, you tell your boss, you get into trouble and you’ll get fired. You’re not afraid of being fired though, you’re afraid of the impact that will have. You won’t be able to survive it, you’ll never find another job, you’ll end up on the street. If you have a family, they’ll suffer and it’ll be all your fault. Quite the world to carry on your shoulder’s isn’t it?

The Stoic philosophers ran through these scenarios on purpose, and often even forced themselves to take part in them because it allowed a sort of planning for the unknown. It may sound a little crazy, especially when the self-help community is all about smiles and rainbows. Where does a ‘worst-case scenario’ fit into all of it?

There’s two parts to the original scenario, the first is, is the expectation of being fired realistic? Second, if it is realistic, is the scenario that would result from it realistic? What are the actual chances you’ll end up on the street a failure because of losing one job? Heck – what’s the likelihood you’ll be fired for making a mistake, in any place worth working in?

So try this exercise, take anything you’re afraid of, and escalate it as much as possible, until it becomes hilarious, and then go even farther.

You’re in a terrible relationship, and you’re afraid to break up. But let’s say you do break up, let’s imagine the worst-case scenario does happen. It turns out your partner was ‘the one’, and you’ve fucked it up. You continue through life struggling with relationships that are much worse, and you only wish you would have stayed in that previously, less-terrible relationship. Eventually you decide you’re just unable to have relationships and stopped believing in love all together. You move into a one bedroom apartment and get a couple cats and a dog. There is your love, they won’t betray you. As you go through your 60s and 70s alone, with your animals, you wonder what could have been, if only you stayed in that first terrible relationship. How much better would life have been?

Perhaps you’re more creative then I am, and you can come up with even worse scenarios, great! What’s the actual likelihood of all of that happening though? What’s the likelihood that the relationship that requires one too many sacrifices is the ‘best you’re gonna get?’. Only you can really answer that for yourself.

Next time you’re terrified of something, search inside yourself for your worst-case scenario and find what you’re actually afraid of. Perhaps in the meantime you’ll find how ridiculous it all sounds.

The effortless way to do (almost) anything

“Life is really simple, but we insist on making it complicated.”
Confucius

What if it was a lot easier to change something about yourself then you ever imagined? What if all the effort came from your perspective, and your imaginary fears? Are you tired of never getting better at something because you’re afraid to even start, because you’re no good at it?

It’s time to break the habit, starting with the habit of believing whatever it is, is so hard. If someone else is doing it, then it’s doable. Within reason, of course. Perhaps drop your NBA dreams if you’re 5 foot 2, but for the things where there isn’t a physical limitation, don’t put so much value on how hard it was for someone to accomplish it. You won’t do a good job from spending the whole time before the starting line.

So now that you realize that you’re creating imaginary difficulty, let’s look at how you overcome anything.

  1. Notice when you’re doing the thing you don’t want to do
  2. Do something different
  3. Repeat until you’re doing something you’d rather be doing

Phew, maybe it’s time to take a break.

Let’s take meeting a new stranger, for business or for love.

  1. Notice you’re creating all kinds of imaginary anxiety, as if people meeting isn’t a simple thing built into our DNA. Realize it’s actually no effort at all to say Hi to someone.
  2. Go and say Hi
  3. Say Hi to enough people, until the imaginary anxiety is seen for what it is, imaginary.

If you’ve been spending your whole life deciding things are difficult or out of reach, evaluate how much that’s helped you. See how different the process of overcoming the obstacle is, when you break it down and see it for what it really is, effortless.