Wednesday

Homo Deus; Immortality and Happiness

Immorality and happiness wrapped into one.
"Yuval Noah Harari, author of the critically-acclaimed New York Times bestseller and international phenomenon Sapiens, returns with an equally original, compelling, and provocative book, turning his focus toward humanity’s future, and our quest to upgrade humans into gods." A quote from his latest book Homo Deus.


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From his Ted talk. Professor Harari

I don't know Professor Harari (Boker tov!) but I did want to comment on his latest book, where he talks about happiness, and humanity's drive to discover immortality.

In the book, he offers the Buddhist concept that happiness or sadness are emotions that are sensations - confined to the experience that we have on a daily basis.  It's what drives the entertainment industry, Big Pharma, silicon valley, gaming - the desire to create instant happiness or feelings of euphoria.

You can find that drive for "happiness" (for lack of a better term) all around us - so that even "waiting for a bus" can be entertaining via our smart screen.  We've come to want, demand instant gratification, technology and drugs are designed to make us "feel happy" instantaneously.  It permeates our culture and our daily lives.  (I've been told that a high percentage of the people working in the tech industry have SSRI drug prescriptions - from someone who would know - and the reason is not to just "dull the senses" but also to help "focus the mind.")


So let me screech to a halt for a moment.

A cloud screeching to a halt. Pacific Palisades.

He talks about how happiness is a sensation - but he does not ask what causes happiness. He talks about how we seem to be striving for happiness, but neglects to identify the actual emotion of happiness - what causes it?  We can fully understand that it is a fleeting experience, but what causes that fleeing experience?  (And by extension is there a pill for that?)

Let's examine something that has been scientifically proven to cause happiness.  Let's talk about a study that was done at the University of Wisconsin by Richard Davidson over ten years, that scientifically proved that people who want to attain or experience happiness can.

Tonglen.

Wait, what?  


Professor Davidson with a happy fellow HHDL

Professor Davidson's study, using monks with MRI showed that meditation can "cure or alleviate symptoms of depression."  How? By doing the same thing that SSRI drugs do - regulate the serotonin that is directed by the amygdala.

So the simple answer is; "How do I create happiness? Through meditation."  The term has been altered to "mindfulness" because too many skeptics thought it was associated with some kind of esoteric yoga pose they'd have to learn.  The simple answer is "mindfulness" will create happiness. 

But meditation is like saying "dance."  There are many versions of dancing.  And to say "Just dance and you'll get better" is probably accurate, but for those who are interested in designing the "fastest, best way" to that feeling, might consider what dance that Professor Davidson used.

I attended his lecture at UCLA where he presented these results a few years ago. The room was filled with Los Angeles psychiatrists, doctors, eager to find a way to lessen their client's addiction to Prozac or other SSRI drugs. Particularly they asked questions about helping young people to not use SSRI drugs. 
Light at the end of the tunnel.

Why? Well, there's a fairly high percentage of people who have adverse reactions to SSRI drugs. The number is as high as 15% (one Doctor told me) but basically we're talking about suicide, or ideations of violence.  (Every mass shooting since Columbine has had some history with SSRI drugs. It's in the data.)

So what if there was a method with NO SIDE EFFECTS that could have the SAME RESULT?

That takes us back to Tonglen.

I asked Professor Davidson what Tibetan meditation he'd used with his study. He told me "Tonglen, but a non-specific version to not skew the results. I asked them to meditate on the earth as a whole, instead of an individual."
Professor Davidson, University of Wisconsin

The reason for that is - because the meditation itself asks the meditator to imagine an ill person across from them, and to draw the illness out of the, to merge it with a healing light, and to alter that "ill" or "sick" energy and turn it into a "healed" or "Healing" energy and breath it back into the person they're imagining in front of them.  

To ensure that one monk wasn't focusing on one person, he'd asked them to substitute "all the ills of the planet" instead of one particular individual.


Why is this important?

Because as a metaphor, Tonglen is a creative imagining of helping your neighbor get well.

It's asking your brain to be compassionate towards another individual. To imagine their illness, to draw it out of them and into you, to heal it with your inner light, or your connection to a healing light, and to imagine breathing healed light back into the sick person.
Meditation as a metaphor
There is no scientific proof that this technique helps the person that you're meditating on. After all, it's equivalent to "praying for the long life and health" of another individual.  There's no proof that works.

But there is proof that it cures YOU. That doing that kind of exercise changes the shape of your amygdala, helps regulate serotonin, cures you of depression. There is evidence that tonglen cures depression.


Got it?

So when we're discussing how to cure people of depression, how to help focus the mind, how to make the world a happier place.... it's simple. Start with tonglen.
A place where tonglen was practiced centuries ago.

I described it recently in a talk I gave - mind you, I'm not a Buddhist. I'm not a practitioner of meditation, I'm not an instructor. I'm not a teacher. I'm not qualified to teach Tonglen, nor am I trying to teach it to anyone, or give medical advice.

Someone asked me recently if I'm a "credited life coach."  I said "No, but I'm a credible afterlife coach."

Look it up, or discover it for yourself.  But at its essence, this form of dance - this form of meditation is effective at curing depression and MAKING PEOPLE HAPPY.

So let's begin there, shall we?

It's one thing to talk about happiness as a sensation - or merely a fleeting feeling. But if we're going to talk about "how to make people happy" there's a simple easy way to do that for yourself.

Do something selfless.
Sorry, couldn't resist. Minions.
Do something for someone else. Help them. You don't have to meditate on this. Literally stop what you're doing, call someone who needs your help and make them laugh.  Walk an elderly lady across the street. Pet your dog more. Play with your cat.  But do it in the way that is selfless.  "This is what you'd like to do, let me help you to do it."

I know this sounds "Christian."  Because he was talking about the same science.  ("Hacking the Afterlife" goes down an entirely different path with the story of Jesus, and his training in a Buddhist monastery, but I digress.)  What's important is the concept behind what I'm saying.  "Do unto others" is an actually prescription of behavior.


Wait, what? It's that easy to be happy? Who knew?
You don't have to do it all the time. But if you want to be happy, or to experience happiness, give things away. Give away your humor, give away your love, give away your possessions.  People give away things not just because they drag them down, or the energy tails them around - but because by giving things away, by putting intent into the giving away, you've helped regulate the serotonin in your amygdala.


Now... onto the second big topic in this discussion.

Immortality.

In Homo Deus, the author argues that the "next big thing" in the tech and medical industries is the pursuit of "Immortality." He talks about using nano tech, how we eventually will become "part machine" and part human, and that tech will be available to the people with the most money.  That health and immortality will be available to the wealthiest individuals.

Well, I'm sorry to dispute that.  


Record scratch. In outer space.
Immortality isn't something to be attained.  It's something to be realized.

You want to be immortal?  Read the following, and voila, you will become immortal.  I'm granting immortality in this blog, and if you don't want to be immortal stop here. Don't read any further.  Go about your day, and forget that you came here to read this post.  Because... I warn you... if you do, you will become immortal.

How does one become immortal?

By opening your eyes.


Not me in another life.
But a good likeness.
Rodin

There's a wonderful parable, both Buddha and Jesus had a moment when their followers said "What's heaven like?"  In Buddha's case, he touched the ground. In Jesus' case, he showed the other fellows on crosses - heaven.

It's here. It's all around you.  It's in the touch of a loved one, in the eyes of a soul mate. It's in the taste of a mother's cake, the smile in a father's laugh. It's in your child's giggle.

Because here, in life, on earth - this is the play. This is the stage.  Think of it this way - two thirds of your energy is always "back home" - in the between lives realm where we exist forever (immortality anyone?) relatively, and we come here to experience the planet Earth and all its foibles.

So two thirds of your energy is ALWAYS back home - always experiencing other friends, loved ones, classes, realms, teachings, experiences - while here on Earth we experience (roughly) about a third of what our energy is capable of.  People claim that's because the human brain can't handle "that much energy" as we'd blow the circuits.  It's also the reason why people who are avatars on the planet - who brought more of their energy to the planet - had such a profound effect on it.


Things on the planet we miss when not here.
As one avatar told me "It's because my energy is more closely aligned with source, that's why people had such a profound reaction to me in that lifetime, and continue to revere and connect with me." (I was hearing this information come through a medium who was connecting with this particular avatar.)

Immortality - the thing that we seem to seek in life - is literally at our fingertips.  There is no death.  There is only life.  People do not die, they step off this realm and go elsewhere.  Most go "home" (their words) where they return to their natural state, which includes a feeling of "unconditional love."


Not home. But a place we like to call home.
You can experience that immortality while you're on the planet. And it's through the experience of unconditional love.  Because that's the natural state of being. So if you want to know what it's like to be immortal, open your heart to everyone and all things. Allow yourself to feel that unconditional love - the kind of love we don't see in commercials, don't see in literature, but we do experience in a mother's love, or a parent's love, or the love of a pet.

You want immortality? 

Just open your eyes. Then open your heart. But it has nothing whatsoever to do with opening your wallet.



(And you got it here for free. Don't have to have wealth to attain immortality. You just have to have eyes to see, and a heart to open. My two cents.)

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