la petite morte is what dreams have in common with reality

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some say “life is a big dream”. I disagree with that.

“life is just a big dream” however sounds somewhat more true.
the word “just” signifies a kind of limitation. here it means that life is at most as limited as dreams are.
maybe dreams have more limitations than reality.
but obviously the author of this saying is convinced life has some important limitations in common with dreams.

I guess I have to explain in more detail why I used the notion “at most” instead of “at least”.
let’s start with set-theory: a set is a collection of elements.
however at the same time a set is also a collection of elements that fulfil certain properties.
a finite set can have each of its objects individually listed in such a description, an infinite set can not.
the reason is that for defining some properties only finite-length expressions are allowed.
so when dealing with sets of infinite size, one really is dealing with limitations of some predefined infinite set.
to define an infinite set you take another infinite set and add limitations to it, you throw out elements.

now lets say life is a set of things that could happen, particularly my life is a set of experiences I could potentially have.
dreams are part of my life too, for me it is possible to re-experience all the same things I already experienced in dreams.
those things happened in my mind while I had these dreams. wouldn’t be surprising if my mind could repeat that.
even when I am awake and perceiving my surroundings, I can still additionally experience these things.
this is called hallucinations or day-dreams. therefore the set called “life” additionally contains what otherwise isn’t part of the set called “dreams”.

life has less limitations than dreams, in terms of what one could possibly experience.
for example when awake I can experience defecating, and my creations will remain real. can’t do that in mind alone.
some things possible in reality simply are not possible in dreams. hence dreams have more limitations than life even more than waken life.
the trick here is to interpret dreams as experiences of mind, instead of taking the hallucinations at face value.
then it is natural that experiences of mind also are possible when fully awake.
leaves the question, does life have any limitations at all?
but it is for sure, the limitations we have in life also apply to dreams, they merely are irrelevant there since dream-experiences aren’t bodily experiences.

I have been told, the limitation life has in common with dreams is that both are completely pointless.
you live your life, and eventually you die, there is nothing you gain. similarly a nice dream eventually ends — in disappointment.
also the other way around: all your life long you had those fears, as death comes they all are pointless, a gigantic relief.
at least this is the current time’s interpretation of the quote I made at the beginning.
we can’t really know how the words were originally meant.

dreams are so much more than life could ever offer. a dream is like an experiment in a laboratory!
all the things that encumber us in our waken state, they all are gone in our dreams.
we even frequently lose our memory of life’s hardships, when we dream.
in these ideal conditions we can experiment with our mind’s potentialities, explore mind’s limitations.
can’t do that in the mess we call “life”. in dreams we are responsible for the order, when awake this responsibility is shared.
who ever tried to re-live experiences from a dream also in waken reality, quickly will get disappointed.
some people are capable of experiencing hallucinations, alike to the ones experienced as dreams.
but even for these people such experience is more limited than within dreams.
the biggest difference is that when sleeping we have our eyes closed.
so while waken hallucinations  must adapt to our surroundings, dreams only adapt to our 4 facial senses.
light falling on the eyelids, smells, sounds, tastes, all find their way into dreams.
but when hallucinating awake there further is the sense of touch, and actual shapes we see with our eyes.
these two make it quite impossible to hallucinate for example about sexual experience. but wet dreams we can have anytime.

So, what is the meaning of waken life then? why not just live in dreams all the time?
truth is all I said in the previous paragraph is unimportant, except maybe for a scientist who writes books about mind.
the most important characteristic of dreams and of reality in general is the continuity, the (relative) stability.
we do something, and it has an impact, we are the cause for some effects. our actions are what makes life meaningful.
of course no effect is forever. nothing will last. but relatively to our lifespan, we can actually build up something reliable.
some of our deeds will have effects for hundreds of years.
throw a plastic bag into the ocean and you made a monument for centuries.
for your whole life you then can rely on any fish caught there to contain remnants of your contribution.
dreams have something similar too, but there time-spans are much shorter since dreams are shorter than life is.
and also relatively speaking, the effects dreams have on the future is much more limited than what we do when awake.
the difference here is that dreams depend on mind only. as soon as mind forgets, also its seemingly stable creations disappear.

one just can’t live in dreams alone, our mind isn’t meant to be used that way and our society hasn’t yet automated the gathering of food.
maybe in future this will change, maybe in future nobody will ever forget anything and eating will be a relic of the conservatives.
but till then we have to face the facts. human isn’t meant to live life inside of whatever mind.
even in terms of learning and understanding, our mind isn’t really trustworthy.

this worthlessness of mind, in terms of instability and fragility, this is the only thing that equally limits waken life and dreams alike.
any student will tell you: memory is the biggest challenge in acquiring knowledge, healthy nutrition comes second and could also become part of the same problem.
of course we have great memory, we could learn thousands of books by heart. but that’s not the problem I’m talking about.
let’s look at dreams for example: you see a wall, then you turn around, and as you look again the wall is gone. why?
obviously you noticed the wall is gone, so it cannot be a problem of memory. you remember there’s supposed to be a wall.
same with the student: after many exercises, a completely analogous problem at the exam seems unsolvable. black-out.
and even when the exam is passed, later in job and wherever applicable in private life, all the training is wasted.
we learned things in school and in reality we never even get the idea to apply them. why?
in both, dreams and school, mind is only as strong as it was a moment ago.
you didn’t perform the algebraic exercises a moment ago, then you now must relearn how to do them.
in a dream you stopped looking at the wall, so it isn’t surprising when it’s gone completely.

you must keep mind occupied with some activity, otherwise that activity will need to be re-learned anew.
as a rule of thumb, after 2 weeks without training, whatever abilities you had are lost.
an exercise must be repeated once a week to keep mind alert for that kind of situations.

there is the saying “for a man with a hammer as the only tool, every problem looks like a loose nail”.
this point of view, this seeing only loose nails all around you, I claim this point of view has a time-limit.
i.e. you put your hammer aside for a week or two, and you’ll stop seeing all those loose nails.
maybe other people have a different time-limit, but for me it is at least 1 week and at most 2 weeks.
when I was pretty good at some math stuff and I didn’t do it for that time, I am not good at it anymore.
of course I still can do it, my memory of how to do it isn’t lost, I just stop being so masterful at it.

in dreams there is no such time-limit, instead some sort of attachment is required.
in order for the wall to stay where it was as I turn my back to it, I must continue to feel its presence.

maybe I hear the wall, in the sense that sounds from behind it are muffled.
or maybe I feel how the air-currents get stopped by the wall, or I see its shadow.
maybe I feel the coldness of the wall or I feel how it is looming behind my back like a giant.
luckily this kind of continuity can be trained, now I even am able to leave a room and return to it without problems.
however, that kind of training too has the derogation factor. after about a year without training also this ability is lost.

now to summarize: human is changing all the time, nothing is forever, most things wont hold even for a lifetime.
abstractly seen, if a human had only a single ability, it would be as if that human would reincarnate every week, into the same body.
once a week it would be as if that human died, and someone else is then occupying that body.
this new host still has the same physical set-up, also the same knowledge, but character and abilities differ.
it’s as if the previous host would have left behind some book, from which to re-learn the abilities.
similarly also character can be re-acquired from the remnants of the previous person in that body.

but this kind of relearning has the same limitation as any kind of communication:
the main landmarks of the knowledge can be conveyed in detail, but it’s up to the person to connect the dots.
in mathematics one could say that only a countable subset can be conveyed, the completion must be done manually.
but this isn’t accurate, our memory can only store a finite amount of information, no communication can go beyond that.
so we have some limited description, some thoughts telling us what to do, how to do it we must figure out.
keep this in mind next time you learn something new, it really matters how you store that memory.
no matter how good you are at something after learning it, it’s important to formulate what you learnt for your future selves.

I think at this point I should emphasize, when I talk of death, I mean it!
in my experience it is wrong to beautify the memory-loss into something happening concurrently.
it’s really a cut, one moment I had an ability and the next moment I don’t have it anymore.
but it’s also wrong to claim the real you is dying at some point in your body’s life.
it’s always a small loss of abilities, one ability after the other is lost, till a whole bunch is gone.
also it happens at random time, mostly at a time you relax, for example during sleep.
and most importantly the loss isn’t being noticed till you need the things lost.
it’s as if part of you died and you are facing some zombie instead, some alien person.
in such moments we then say “why did I do such a stupid thing?”
of course it isn’t an alien, we just suppress the fact that nothing is forever, even our mind dies — piece by piece.

no matter if dream or reality, in a way we all die a little from time to time, repeatedly. always keep in mind that secondary mortality.
what’s the point in learning anything at all? you wont improve your abilities after these 2 weeks of training.
whatever new tricks you learn after that time, you will forget about all the old tricks which you then neglected.
if your goal is some kind of mental achievement, never waste more than those 2 weeks.
you want enlightenment? it takes only 2 weeks! if it doesn’t then you will never reach it! give up! or at least focus your life on it!

well, that really isn’t true. as I implied while talking about dreams, the ability of not-forgetting can be trained.
in dreams I have managed to do that, why not when awake?
if abilities of mind are as important for you as they are for me, do that!
keep track of how quickly you lose abilities and make that time become longer.
the secret to this it to avoid being distracted. in the dreams mind must be continuously occupied with the objects.
similarly when awake keep your mind occupied with the abilities you want to keep.
make a list of what abilities you need and create a training-schedule.
this schedule isn’t the important thing here, what one must learn is to be more systematic in the training.
if mind wanders off into unrelated fields, a lot of time is wasted that could have been used for being occupied with some new tricks.
and most importantly, always keep track of what your mind does do, at any time.
it’s important not to be controlled by circumstances, and instead keep up control of the own mind…

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Abstraction of Emotions

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English: Robert Plutchik's Wheel of Emotions

English: Robert Plutchik’s Wheel of Emotions (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

the word “Emotion” describes something one can’t actually talk about.
the reason is that I distinguish between a perception and the thing perceived.
Emotions are what we perceive when we have feelings.
so one can only talk about feelings and not about emotions.
however, abstractly the two are connected. therefore the title is justified.

in science it is unknown if  hormones cause what we call feelings, or if it’s the other way around.
therefore the notion of emotions is even less understood by the psychologists.
seems psychology focuses on investigating feelings only.
still, in future the knowledge on feelings might become useful for investigating emotions.
for this to work, first one must distinguish between two kinds of feelings:
Warm Feelings I call every perception that is directly and strongly correlated with measurable circumstances happening beforehand.
Cold Feelings I call feelings perceiving more abstract circumstances happening in the body, and stuff that isn’t measurable at all.

I emphasize: Warm Feelings are any kind of perception, including our 5 senses,  including things we see.
especially a man having a crush for some woman, or a woman having a crush for some Man, these really are Warm Feelings.
various substances in the blood play a role in this perception. it really doesn’t matter if those appear only afterwards.
the trick is to divide every single feeling we have into a Warm and a Cold aspect.
in other words, first comes the Emotion, then Cold Feeling, then changes in the body, those then are perceived as Warm Feelings.
so in investigating emotions, the Cold Feelings are what one should take a closer look at. Warm Feelings are uninteresting.
doesn’t work that way though. human is unable to distinguish between Warm and Cold Feelings.
for example if the love for your beloved one is becoming weaker, is it weakening of Warm or Cold Feelings?
maybe a majority of divorces are just the result of hormonal changes? maybe love wanes because you eat the wrong things?
or the other way around: allegedly increasing frequency of sex will strengthen a relationship. does it strengthen Cold Feelings too?
obviously Warm Feelings will be strengthened because there’s a gratification happening regularly.
neuronal networks work that way: gratification causes strengthening of pathways in the network.
when you gratify being together with husband/wife by various pleasures, is it still Love?
more logically is that changes in the brain create an addiction for the person, or a pavlovian reaction.
you want to be pavlov’s dog? be it sex or even just attention, all these cause merely Warm Feelings.

the notion of “warm feelings” we usually associate with such things like love and such.
that’s why I choose it. what we commonly call love is just hormonal perception and addictive reactions.
eliminate all the gratifications you get, what reasons for your love do remain?
what remains I call “affection”, the Cold Feeling that comes with various emotions we feel for eachother.
in comparison to the Warm Feeling of love, affection is very cold. it’s only about how we are affected!
love contains a lot of desires and expectations that draw us to another person.
the behaviour of being drawn to eachother is commonly called a warm feeling.
similarly the feeling of getting a lot of attention is nourishing for us.
being drawn to eachother, being nourished by eachother, that’s what people even call “hot” feelings.
but if I say “your way of working has affected me, has inspired me” that’s a cold way of saying “I love you”.
especially these kinds of feelings have nothing to do with sexuality or wanting to found a family.
these are emotions that are unconditional, a truly unconditional kind of love.
what most people seek though is a hot love, an egoistic love full of expectations.
afterall, this hot love is what is getting gratified by pleasure, through nature’s dictate.

as tibetan buddhists say, everybody is seeking for bliss, for unending pleasure. they promise buddhism can offer that.
so generally speaking buddhism is a religion focused on giving us Warm Feelings.
this is seen in many aspects they emphasize, but also in their choice of words.

buddhists seek to stop the suffering of people. they have a feeling of being obstructed by the sufferings of others.
just getting into bliss isn’t sufficient for them, they also want that others get the same bliss too.
this compassion they feel is called “karuna”. “Kam” means bliss, “runa” means stopping.
one specific method, in the tantric branch of buddhism, is using sexuality to attract people.
they have the idea that there is a moment of bliss in sexuality, maybe this could point at what real bliss is.
their method is to get people towards an orgasm without emission of all the things that have functionality in reproduction.
i.e. men wont ejaculate and women too will rise their passion indefinitely spreading bliss throughout their body.
this goal of orgasm without emission they again call “karuna”, but for other reasons.
still it’s the same word, so in a way all these things are related: obviously bliss is a Warm Feeling!

the actual goal of buddhists is the “ultimate mind of enlightenment”.
it’s described as “wisdom consciousness in the continuum of Bodhisattva directly realizing emptiness”.
the word bodhicita is understood as “mind of enlightenment”, the “altruistic intention to become enlightened”.
remember the notion “emission of all the things that have functionality in reproduction” in the previous paragraph?
what actually is being emitted by men and woman during ordinary orgasm they call bodhicitta too.
so in their choice of words they already indicate that what they really want is the reproductive part of sexuality.
no matter how the nature of this goal, feelings caused by reproductive mechanisms are Warm Feelings, so is the goal!

to be fair I must also mention that aside from bliss buddhists also seek so-called “emptiness”.
however, the tantra sex division insists that this is achieved for a moment during sex too (and lost in orgasm)!
emptiness means that all notions we have about the world lose their dualistic judgements.
we see stuff and immediately draw conclusions on whether they are good or bad, beautiful or ugly, and so on.
purely seeing the world without such judgements, through emptiness, is the only way how bliss actually is possible.
if we would constantly judge things, we end up feeling bad about the bad things around us.
being unaffected by the badness is how during sexuality the good feelings are kept alive.
would we start judging badly about something, arousal would wane, sex would be no fun.
but even though the feeling of “emptiness” happens in sex, it seems to be a Cold Feeling.
there is no known physical phenomenon that would match this feeling.
substances in our blood don’t change that much through orgasm.
neither do scientists speak of whatever phenomena ending because of orgasm.
but yet we all know how judgemental one is right after or during orgasm…

just to clarify, in tibet there are 2 major kinds of buddhism:
one kind calls the pearls of wisdom it is founded on “tantra”. as in tantric sex.
the other kind calls such pearls of wisdom related to the own school “sutra”. as in kamasutra.
however, both require their monks to be mostly without sex, especially when in the monastery.
so don’t let the words mislead you into believing they would be any more liberal than western religions.

oh, and as a disclaimer: I know only very little about buddhism.
I know it’s a religion originating from what is now pakistan.
I know what I have read in some books.
a religion is about what the participants say though.
you just can’t read some bible and you know everything there is to know!

but there seems to be an alternative I must investigate myself:
the dzogchen branch of tibetan buddhism is focusing on leaving things the way they are.
that means no changes in the body, but yet a different state of mind, different feelings.
clearly those feelings must be of the Cold kind. they make use of warm feelings too though.
for example practitioners are controlled by fears and various kinds of placebo.
but those are all just tools, and it is made clear from the beginning that they wont matter lateron.

in summary I propose that the reader might ask the important question:
does my favourite religion focus on Warm or on Cold Feelings?
in terms of learning to cope with our emotions religions play an important role.
all the things we cannot measure but that still affect us, they all are handled by religions.
the things we can measure are being handled by science. in science you find knowledge on Warm Feelings.
so what use is a religion that too does focus on Warm Feelings and neglects Cold Feelings?
in order to live we need knowledge on both, the more we know the stronger is our grip on life.
if it’s just one-sided knowledge, our grip on life will be rather like holding dry sand.
whatever goals we choose for life, Warm and Cold Feelings bust be understood equally.
a firm grip on one and the other will valve away the things we’re trying to get ahold of.

most people want to control their feelings. some might even succeed.
but isn’t that alike to controlling how we perceive visual input by hallucinating stuff?
for Warm Feelings control is primarily a self-delusion, once feelings arrive something else caused them.
those people then retreat into controlling the mechanisms leading to the feelings instead.
wont work with Cold Feelings. we don’t know how they are caused!
so in effect all attempts of control just end up in the delusion of being in control.

being in control is a Cold Feeling. none-the-less it is an uninteresting kind of feeling.
the thing being perceived through the feeling is the abstract notion of controlling.
in a way this is a much warmer feeling than other Cold Feelings.
the only reason it isn’t a Warm Feeling even though control is measurable:
human tends to rely more on self-reflection than on actual self-perception.
if you want to outperform most other human beings, just get rid of that!
assert your own risks, find out what dangers could await you in future.
always be aware of what your current situation is in terms of risks.
this knowledge then will set you apart from others who don’t do that.

in general, as I implied above throughout this article, one must distinguish between control and knowledge.
both are about predicting the future, Knowledge is about doing it actively, Control is the passive way.
when you feel in control it is a prediction that things will go your way in future.
when you have knowledge however, you predict the future in terms of probabilities.
whatever knowledge you are lacking you can make up by an estimate for likelihood.
regardless how you use that knowledge, control never is possible this way.
the more you know, the better you will understand that you don’t know everything.
especially it is totally unpredictable how the world will work.
you never know if you haven’t made a mistake, if you are aware of all possibilities yet, and so on.
on the one hand, with control you wont get the awareness that full control is impossible.
knowledge on the other hand leads to the insight that what you know is just a tiny fraction of reality.
therefore only knowledge is capable of breaking the deceitful mirror of self-reflection we rely on.
similarly only a desire for control will lead to the Cold Feeling of safety and stability.
the choice between knowledge and control is a choice between loss of self-delusion and loss of risks.
if it is risks you want to fight, control is what you must obtain.
if you want to get rid of all lies, Knowledge is what you must seek.
I prefer Knowledge, I prefer being aware of my risks instead of fighting them.
I think it is important to realize that the two are mutually exclusive.
Knowledge is not available when living a sheltered life, for knowledge one must visit other places, take risks!

understanding the own Feelings is one thing. it’s important for predicting the own behaviour.
but also very important is to actually take the risk of allowing the own feelings to surface.
an Emotion causes a Feeling. and some feeling will cause certain changes in behaviour.
if the behaviour is suppressed, the feelings will get suppressed too, as if some abstract eye-lids were closed.
the underlying emotions still exist, but such a person will fail to perceive it.
more exactly only a small part of the body will fail to perceive the emotion.
the unwanted behaviour will vanish because the responsible body-part is blind.
the rest of the body will perceive the emotion though. this results in imbalance.
especially it’s an imbalance of information, some body-parts know more than other.
mostly it’s then the conscious mind that knows nothing.
it’s easy to get rid of fear, doesn’t mean you’ll stop trembling and your body will obey you…