Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Eight Principles That Could Change The World

So, after my success with last night's post, I decided that today I would take the time to try and set down the essential principles of my work on a single page.  To do that, I had to leave out any attempt at justifying the principles, providing supporting evidence or examples, or anything like that.

It turned out to be a lot easier than I thought it would be, though.  I had expected to cover the page with a lot of brief references to complex ideas, but I ended up instead with just eight fairly basic principles:

  1. Success does not require you to become someone else -- just you, with less baggage.

  2. Indecision is the source and essence of all "effort" and "suffering" -- and indecision's sole source is the fear of loss.

  3. Fear of loss is an emotional attachment to something you believe you have, and it should not be confused with the merely rational desire to trade as little as possible to get what you want!

  4. The worst fears of loss are ego-based: fear of disrupting the image we project to others.  These fears are the worst because, unlike a legitimate crisis, they can never end.

  5. Fears -- no matter how trivial -- tend to engage the brain's "crisis management" mode, causing us to conserve energy, avoid risk, be less intelligent and creative, and to shrink from pain instead of reaching towards pleasure.

  6. Opposing fear through willpower is useless, since this does not eliminate the fear itself, and therefore keeps the brain in crisis-management mode.  To live a happy life, therefore, does not require courage: it rather requires the absence of spurious fear.

  7. Likewise, any change which is produced by forced attention to one's actions, is not really a change at all!  It is nothing more than a split between one's previous attachments, and one's current intentions.  (A new inner conflict, in other words!)  Therefore, if your actions do not serve you, change the cause of those actions, rather than the actions themselves.

  8. Our essential nature is fearless, pleasure seeking, and creative.  But these qualities are blunted and suppressed by our learned programming.  Thus, we cannot attain these qualities by adding more mental programming!  Instead, we must edit or delete the existing programs whose output is fear.  Otherwise, we are simply increasing our sources of inner conflict... and therefore, our suffering.

Not particularly poetic or eloquent, but not a bad synopsis.  These ideas essentially explain why trying to copy successful people doesn't help people who are stuck, why popular conceptions of change and self-improvement are so unhelpful, and so on.

On the flip side, these ideas say nothing at all about how to edit or delete the existing programs, but that's to be expected.  That stuff is technology, rather than science or philosophy.  And by its nature, technology is a complex beast.  The brain includes many different routes through which to arrive at fear: conditioned responses, social codes, personal judgments, perceived social rank, subconscious prediction...  just to name the first ones that come to mind, that I currently have methods for finding, editing, and deleting.

(And that's not even counting the fact that the brain loves to hide its fears under layers of rationalization.  Sometimes I have to drag a client kicking and screaming through a series of, "and what's bad about that?" questions until they get to an ego-fear like, "Well then I'd be a failure.")

But anyway, this is a start.  If we're really going to change human nature, one human at a time, we sure could do a lot worse than to begin with these ideas.