Thursday, October 26, 2017

Mindfulness is not a value in itself, but it is a core skill

I advocate three core skills:

Rationality and compassion, supported by mindfulness.

I recommend basic mindfulness meditation - sitting, breathing, focusing on the breath - as the best tool I ever learned to develop mindfulness.

For those who are interested, I suggest to learn basic "tantric" exercises - breathing, pelvic floor training, letting go of orgasm as the primary goal of sexual activity.

If you really want to, I suggest to experiment with some form of chastity/nofap/semen retention, and visualisation. In my experience, they make life easier and more fun.

I suspect that every exercise that incorporates mindful breathing and gets you more "into the body" will be a good supporting practice: yoga, qi gong, tai chi, etc.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

All over my body, without any effort

Okay, this is interesting. And fascinating. And quite delicious.

I've practiced PC muscle clenching and breathing for quite a few months, even years, in everyday life.

I visualized/felt the energy moving upward, as expected.

Only right now, like 5 minutes ago, I realized that, right at this moment, i have this incredibly wonderful vibrating, warm, tingly feeling all over my body, without clenching anything. It's just there. Calm, blissful, energizing and cozy.

I guess I must have created an unconscious association between a certain kind of breathing and this feeling, by all that kundalini'ing.

I have to admit that this feels like a breakthrough!

Tuesday, October 3, 2017

Tantra is all about sex!

Tantra *) is all about sex. It is not about meditation, it is not about religion, it is not about enlightenment.

It is not about intercourse either. Or about masturbation, for that matter.

It's definitely not about "cumming".

It is about bringing sexual lust and desire into all of these. Into your consciousness, into the very whole your body, (including all its holes), into your mindfulness, into your meditation, into your relationships, into your job, into your whole bloody life.


*) standard disclaimers apply: Tantra the way I practice it - practical, irreligious and secular. If your stance is that this is not truly tantra, fine - any suggestions for a more fitting word?

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Trying Street Epistemology

Last friday after the office, I went through a shopping street on the way to a good restaurant, for some baked cheese.

A little detachment from a group missionary project was preaching about the prodigal son. I listened for a while, partly out of sentimentality (I know the group from way back), but also because I really like to discuss religion. Nobody approached me, and the sermon was boring, so I moved on.

A guy followed me and asked to talk to me.

He was very polite, to the point of sweetness, very honest, very thoughtful, and had not a bit of that dreadful arrogance that some religious youngsters tend to display when they think they found The Truth.

So I exercised a little bit of what I know from Boghossian's "Manual For Creating Atheists".

It was an interesting and weird experience. On the one hand, I guess you can plant some seeds of doubt in someone's head, which is obviously a good thing. But on the other hand, I ran into a severe case of bite inhibition. That guy was 18, 20 years old. I have it all thought out, time and time again, read about it, listened to talks and debates, written about it. It's just so easy to get a guy like that stunned, stuttering, unable to give a coherent answer. It's almost unavoidable, if you grill him too much.

Of course he had seen my funny walk. Of course he told me about some prayer, where he had prayed for someone and that person was healed. Of course I know the fallacies behind that. Of course I know that memory is a creative act, and anyway it's not proof of anything.

I had him talking about his epistemology, asking how we could distinguish between good and reasons for believing something. He was off his script, and he didn't have all the answers laid out. He had to think.

All of this is good.

But still...

I don't want to do that. I want an honest debate. I want to be on equal footing. I want someone who can stand up to me, challenge me, make me think. I can't have that if my interlocutor just has no chance, due to age and experience and years and years of education.

So I left. I politely refused his offer to pray for me, and we parted ways.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

The long list of things I tried

Sometimes I'm amused by the sheer number of pseudoscientific and religious woo that I was involved in, or that I at least gave a chance, at some point. Especially seeing that during most of that time, I thought of myself as a somewhat rational person... After I wrote the list below, looking at it, I found it quite impressive and more than a bit shocking, really.
  • Fundamentalist christianity (of the catholic charismatic variety). Nothing to add here, really, we all know it's bullshit.
  • Satanism. I never actually believed it, but I was quite fascinated with Crowley for a while. I still think he's a very charming fraudster.
  • Kabbala. I never believed in it, but I read a lot of the literature and went to a lecture by the Kabbalah Centre once. I even gave a few talks on the history of it.
  • Tarot. I really wanted to believe that one. I even gave a few readings for money, until I learned about cold reading and realized that I had been doing exactly that all along, purely by intuition.
  • Wicca. I attended a wiccan ritual at some point, with high priestess and all. It was all very friendly and polite, but it felt incredibly shallow and noncommital. Coming from fundie religion, it just felt somewhat ridiculous. (Nobody was in the nude, by the way.) Oh and I had a little "temple" at home, consisting of a large cloth on which I had painted some symbols.
  • Buddhism. That one I'm still kind-of into. Over time, I learned to extract the meditative practice and reject all the metaphysical nonsense. I visited a real sangha a few times. I thought it was a valuable experience. I didn't crave any form of religious community at that point, so I never went back. I liked how the "sermon" was really more of a discussion with the whole group in one of those.
  • Tantra. Duh, you knew it had to be coming. By now I know how to distinguish between what's real and what's religious woo, so I can keep on practicing without fear of getting into anythng bad.
  • NLP (and other assorted communication teachings). That was the most expensive, by far. I did my self-hypnosis, which is one of the few things out of that whole mess that I would still recommend. It helped me give up smoking. But apart from that, it's just crap that turns people into monsters.
  • Pickup. Yes, been there done that. I never paid for any bootcamps or anything. I did get a few "lays", but I learned to see how destructive and inhuman it all really is, and I never overcame my "approach anxiety" in the long run.
  • Qi Gong, Tai Chi, Yoga etc. I would still recommend all of these, strictly as a physical workout. I practice some of it still, though I'm utterly incapable of performing any serious Tai Chi.
Just to show that I'm not completely cookoo, I never believed in: Astrology, crystals, pyramids, alien abductions, conspiracy theories, anti-vacc, Ouija boards, tachyons or Desteni.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Shallow truism of the day

"Is this the price for my inner peace?"

My little tarot experiment

At the start of this year, I picked a Tarot card for each week. I made a prediction based on that card. A few times so far, I checked my predictions against the facts.

Unsurprisingly, none of it was true. Some where somewhat close, some where too vague to decide anything. One was surprisingly fitting.

Just look at the card for September: Strength (reversed) I concluded that I would be out of my mind and undisciplined. What really happened, of course, is just the opposite: I am much more disciplined with my diet, I have been chaste for almost two months now, and I practice meditation a lot.

Still, when I pick a daily card, which I sometimes do out of curiosity, I tend to see it fulfilled in hindsight. I can almost feel my mind grasping for fitting patterns. Today it was The Ace of Swords, and yes I am doing a lot of thinking today. But, duh, I do that every workday, because of my job, I often read intellectually challenging books in my spare time, and I code weekend projects on the side. And really, a lot of cards would have been a good fit for today (so far): 3 Pentacles (I'll meet with an old friend) or 2 Cups; The Lovers (I will not talk about this one to be discreet); 4 Pentacles... I guess I can find some kind of match for almost every card.

I think it is proven beyond any doubt that there is no predictive power in Tarot cards.

It's still a fun little hobby of course.