Some of us were taught when we were children, that if you lie, you will get into trouble. Typically, the older child blames the younger child. A good parent needs to see that every child is guilty…
Growth is something perhaps we all can relate to wanting, either for being a better person tomorrow or for the sake of satisfying some end. If you can grow enough you can get what you want faster, with the idea being that if you spend time growing you can save a lot of time working more directly to accomplish whatever you want to do. In making money growing in this sense is called scaling, and its effects are very clear. If you spend 1 year to grow your business to make 100x what it would have made without the extra year, it’s clear that the best investment of time is to grow your business for a year. Money is not the only thing that matters though, so other forms of value such as quality of life, stress, relationships etc should be considered. A likely possibility is that if you invested in growing as a person first and second in your business, a better result would be yielded especially if other life factors are considered. If who you are on the inside reflects itself on average in the choices you make, it seems to be a necessary conclusion that, on average, whatever weakness or strength you have inside of you will be manifested into real world consequences depending on your circumstances and given enough time. It is also pretty intuitive to imagine that there are ways of growing that are better than others… So there must be a sort of best way, right? Is scaling your internal growth possible? What is the fastest way to grow on the inside, or the root of all growth?
My ambitious side always been intrigued by this and what heights I could achieve if I pursued the answer. I had little idea of how to go about searching it, and have generally been too concerned with building my career directly and personal issues. The self-help industry is onto something, sure, but there is heaps of information and much of it is inefficient and redundant. I read various books and about various hacks, but was never totally sold on all their ideas and they didn’t seem to go as deep as I was looking for. Thinking about this problem analytically, what is the deepest level we can improve ourselves on? Could it be personality, or character? There are many examples for these things changing in people all the time. We can all know people whose personalities changed in large ways over time (I, for example, used to be more neurotic and shyer in comparison to now), and there are even cases where people changed from looking to take advantage of people to feeling more compassionate towards others. Can this process be faster? If we are not bound to our personality or character, what exactly are we bound to?
There are a couple bodies of knowledge that are closely tied to the subject of maximizing personal growth. In psychology, you’ve got self-actualization, coined by the psychologist Kurt Goldstein. It’s at the top of psychologist Abraham Maslow’s pyramid of hierarchy of needs, pictured above. Self-actualization is basically defined as “becoming the best version of yourself” in terms of self-expression. It’s a bit of a nebulous area of psychology but one I intend to research more when I get the chance (any insights would be appreciated). Maslow found that it was very rare for people to attain the luxury of being able to pursue self-actualization, because lower needs such as physiological, safety, etc often got in the way. He also found that many of the self-actualized people shared many of the same characteristics notwithstanding their position in life. It seems that to become fully self-actualized is a bit of a holy grail, not of material worth but one of great intangible value. Here are the traits below:
Doesn’t it seem that the more actualized oneself is, the better person they are according to common sense? Is that a coincidence?
Maslow believed in a state of being higher than self-actualization called self-transcendence. Self-transcendence is a bit more vague, but has to do with how one considers oneself as expanding beyond the personal self, and as being part of the bigger picture of the universe. Think of the Stars Wars Jedi, who selflessly fought for some greater good bigger than themselves implying an element of self-transcendence. When the Jedi died they became “far more powerful” in becoming part of that something in the Force. Is it a coincidence that this idea and this movie resonates so much with us? On this topic psychology and spirituality appear to nebulously cross, and it suggestively points to the mystical legend and possibly the true holy grail of the mind: enlightenment.
Enlightenment claims to be “self-realization,” which is pretty much exactly what we are looking for if true. It has many names throughout many religions and philosophies, as Ekharte Tolle pointed out in his book “New Earth.” In Buddhism it is called Nirvana, in Hindusim Moksha, in Taoism Enlightenment, Ushta in Zoroastrianism, Kevala Jnana in Jainism, etc. It has a very similar parallel to being “without sin” in Abrahamic religions (Judaism, Christianity, Islam etc) and has rough equivalents in lesser known religions/philosophies. It can be described as simply as the removal of ego, to as vital as becoming one’s true self or best version of oneself, and to as profound as becoming one with God. Shortly following a couple big revelations that threw me into an altered state of consciousness from a couple thoughts alone (no drugs!), I became very interested in this subject. Back to the question of “What are we bound to?” from earlier, spirituality allegedly deals with the core of who we really are, our “souls” so to speak — whatever that means. Is this it — this the root of all growth — to pursue enlightenment? It’s not super clear if enlightenment is real, and to attain it does not simply mean being ostensibly at peace with one’s surroundings. Total removal of ego is more accurate, and it is much harder than it sounds… Reading about this stuff soon delved into reading about magic, miracles, and mysticism. On delving into this stuff, part of me often reiterates the thought “Uhhh is this all bullshit?” while another embraces “Magic? Fuck yeah!” If this thing exists it is perhaps the most paramount thing there is to pursue, because to do so directly means pursuing the greatest expected return for whatever you are looking for. If you want happiness, to be more effective as a person or whatever, this is the way. If you want something material, growth, etc you will become a more effective person and more capable of achieving these things. Is it possible that the process to enlightenment in spirituality is very much the same as the processes of achieving self-actualization and self-transcendence in psychology? If true, the meaning is profound and essentially proves that God exists (there is some nuance to this statement). It’s hard to verify this, but I can show some evidence. Below are the traits of the Jivanmukta, or the “liberated ones” in the Hindu philosophy Advaita Vedanta who have achieved enlightenment (Moksha).
The traits lay in a pretty similar direction as the ones from self-actualization, don’t you think? I also find it a bit striking that a bunch of people with impeccable character (the saints) allegedly performed a myriad of impossible feats in the past. It seems extremely hard for everyone to be lying… and unfortunately also a hard subject to investigate properly.
So if enlightenment exists, how do you actually achieve it?
Firstly, assuming karma is real you actually slowly attain enlightenment by existing unless you’re an infinitely massive cunt. The short explanation of this is that the world essentially “teaches” you to behave properly through your experience of living by reward and punishment. In short, the better your behavior, generally the more enlightened you are. A version and evidence of this is that as people grow older, they, on average, become better people according to virtually any perspective. This process is alleged to occur over numerous lifetimes until one’s ego is removed totally. If you look closely, all major religions have an implied version of this.
Not all paths to enlightenment are equal though. It turns out that many people in the world casually practice a philosophy and means that actually are working more directly towards enlightenment. Did you know that that’s exactly the main concern of Yoga? What many often do in a typical Yoga class is just a part of what Yoga is really about. It’s main concern is exactly self-realization or becoming one’s true self, and it happens to be one of multiple serious Eastern philosophies concerned with the subject of enlightenment. Meditation was also originally meant as a direct means to enlightenment, and incidentally meditation is one of the few ways to actually increase one’s happiness. Both happen to be very helpful towards increasing well-being as well.
Going deeper on enlightenment is a big topic, from different methods to history, religions, mystical stuff such as the Akashic Records and psychic powers, the New Age Movement, and more! I go back and forth on deciding on whether it is real or not, especially because of how much mystical stuff is associated with it. It is promising that meditation and yoga used to be part of the “mystical” and dubious category, but science has recently demonstrated their validity as actually being helpful. It ‘s also promising that there is a ton empirical evidence of enlightenment existing through its many stories of history, its role in spirituality and religion, and the many people that have allegedly achieved it or progressed towards it. The existence of these details must mean something…
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