Here’s the skinny: Be honest with yourself about the present situation of your world, but don’t buy into hysteria. Through living intelligently and developing yourself consciously (educating yourself, building your skills) surely you can ride through almost any situation and solve any problem.
When it’s time to change, it’s time to change. When the world is spiraling downward, or even upward, at a rapid pace you cannot afford to live in the past. Look to where the world is going in the future and also what truths you see underneath all the chaos. Based on these, decide on a general direction for your life (at least, for now).
As long as you have a high drive for learning, you cannot be scathed by any force on this Earth.
Biological warfare is steadily becoming more potent.
Cybercrime is on the rise. Criminals become more and more sophisticated, able
to reach more and more victims with less and less effort. Terrorists find
better ways to spread terror.
The economy is uncertain. Some days the numbers look better, but they conceal the fact that unemployment is on the rise. Corporations continue to outsource: they don’t love want to deal with employees anymore. They’re too much of a hassle. Yet, college students continue with their education, waiting on the pie in the sky that is a job. Hopefully the old geysers have moved on by the time I get out of here.
Your possessions are not safe. With a melody of key-presses all your savings can be taken from you. With one slip of your information, you can lose everything. You can try to lock up your things, but taking them is old school. Quite frankly, bank robbers and thieves have fallen on the prison totem pole. It’s baby stuff: someone will figure it out easily enough.
Your health is not safe. It would only take one Joe-blow to place a few drops of poison or disease in the water supply and kill everyone you know. You only need one freak nuclear-accident to ruin the health of an entire region for the next 100 years. What might be swimming around in your water and your air right now?
Your life is not safe. It only takes one kidnapping, one shootout, one bombing for everything to come to an end.
There are people who want your money. There are people who want to exploit your skills. There are people who want your body. There are people who want you dead.
Does that scare you?
Money, of course, is no guarantee. Soon enough the hackers might come up with less and less loot, because consumers just don’t have as much money anymore. Surely someday the work you do will outsourced or automated. That, or you’ll just plain be replaced by someone better than you. On top of that, the economy is already going to hell, so you might not have many other options. How long can you deny it? And what will you do when the day comes?
Privacy is no birthright either. Someone could hack the camera on your computer or cellphone and start watching your every move. When you leave the house, how often are video cameras on you? And who’s on the other side of those cameras? Surely you know that the cameras in public places can and have been easily hacked, and also that your phonecalls are screened by the government.
How about your medical records? How private are those? Surely insurance companies have some dirty little details on you that you’d prefer they don’t know. Can you even have sex or take a shit without someone knowing anymore?
I just don’t get it. A readily-available water supply, a phone that allows me to contact anyone almost anywhere, security cameras, doctors, my job: these things are supposed to keep me safe. I thought law enforcement was supposed to be effective. Doggone it, I thought the government liked me. But now I have to wonder: are the things that are supposed to keep me safe killing me? How about you?
You can run. You shun this society and separate its problems from your own. Surely you don’t have to put up with all this junk. But when you find that your sparkling spring water has been tainted with agricultural runoff, your catch of the day has gone extinct, and you can only walk so far before you’re somehow confronted with civilization, can you really say that your problem and its are not the same?
Ah, no worries: there is no need to run. I know what is coming. The old world is going to collapse. Let the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Let the economy spiral downward. Let criminals run rampant and crack every algorithm, DNA included. Let the education system become more pitiful, and let the students of it become more confused. Let this world spin out of control, beyond the point of recognition.
The great break is coming. It seems so obvious: life on this planet is steadily becoming more chaotic, and one day we will have to change the way we do things dramatically. The great revolution is on its way. We only need to watch and be ready.
Are You Sure?
See what just happened? I told you wait. You know what happened as a result? Nothing. You did nothing, and you got nothing. Maybe it only lasted an instant, but it still happened.
Do you really think that if you just continue doing what you’re doing everyday some magical world-transformation is going to happen? If everyone else does the same thing, how long will we have to wait around for this breakthrough? Will it inevitably happen in a matter of months? Or will it take a few years? Or will it take longer than you can stay alive for?
The world ends somewhere everyday. For the buffalo of the Midwest, the world has ended. For most Native Americans the world ended in the 19th century, by the same forces that killed the buffalo. For many who remain today, the world looks bleak. For animals born on factory farms, the world ends the moment they arrive in it. For the Tutsi people of Rwanda, the world ended in 1996. Coincidentally, that’s the year my world began. Certainly I have ended some worlds since that time.
Miles Olsen writes about this in Unlearn, Rewild. Some people are waiting for a colossal end-of-times at which things will take a dramatic turn and finally start going right or end completely. Meanwhile, for millions of life forms the world is coming to an end every moment. This isn’t just by extinction or deliberate killing: most of it is by natural (undeliberate) death. Millions of people die everyday. Come on- you’ve always known that one.
Okay, but my world is still here. It may be going to hell, but it’s still here. Things are just going to stay the same for a long time if I keep them that way and wait. Trying to keep things the same, of course, means stagnation, and stagnation is really regression. That means things will continue to get worse.
But what else can I do? What am I not seeing here?
Yeah, I know that I create my reality. I know that I can do whatever I want here. But, I can only do that within the constraints of this reality, and those constraints are changing like crazy as time goes on. All this stuff is still going on around me- this whirlwind of chaos. I could just let the world pass me by, but if I’m too unaware I’ll get chewed up and spit out. I could also jump into the fray and hysteria, but how on Earth will I be effective? Who really wants to do that anyway?
I suppose this is why many people choose to continue about their daily business. :P
But is it unreasonable for them to do so? For a short time it might look like the world is about to end for one reason or another. Then, soon enough, there’s a change that brings things back to being normal-enough, and that permits many of us to continue living as we have been.
Perhaps what is unreasonable is to expect people to change quickly. Do you really think people are going to overhaul the way they live their lives because a few things might happen? Who cares? If the current system is serving most of us well enough, why not continue with it?
I could counter that by pointing out all the things that are indeed wrong with the system, but I’m not sure that that’s my point.
Is it futile to try to get people to care- that is, about anything? Can we really expect people to become sufficiently concerned about the health of the Earth before it becomes so wrecked that we’re all bound to die? Can the mass of people be derailed from seeking out fruitless and unnecessary jobs? Should they be?
When I was learning how to drive not so long ago I thought that people should read their car’s manual and know how to perform basic repairs. They should know their car well and be able to diagnose its problems with some competence. Of course, I have yet to achieve that competence, but when people get into something they should really know what they’re getting into- right?
Should it be the same with computers, primarily so that people are better able to protect themselves from those who want to do them harm? Shouldn’t we all be given a tour through the hacker’s mind so that we can better defend ourselves against him? Should we know some coding and hacking ourselves, so that we can at least have a better grasp of what the hacker does?
Or are these issues to leave to the companies and specialists who make a living working on cars and computers? Shouldn’t we be able to enjoy these things and go about our lives with little conscious maintenance of our tools? Doesn’t a good organization take care of these problems for us?
If something exists it inherently can be used for good or for evil. It can be exploited for unintended purposes in either direction. It can also be hacked and rendered useless or have its functioning changed entirely.
To some extent, this counters the notion that technological advancements are bad because they enable people to do more bad. This statement is true, but they likewise enable people to do more good. It’s like money: technology is an extension of and magnifies our qualities. If you want to hurt people, technology enables you to do so on a larger scale. If we wish to understand ourselves might we benefit from bringing those qualities out?
Yeah, at a glance it looks like those qualities suck. Look at all the people mindlessly playing games and scrolling through Facebook on their smartphones all day. Look at all the people who sit back passively in their chairs and watch television. So many of us are getting fat because of this stuff. We need to do something. We need to get away from it.
But is it the technology that’s turning us into mindless blobs? Or is that a quality humanity already has, which technology merely brings out?
Sociology tells us that material culture typically changes faster than nonmaterial culture. This means that objects that are important to us, such as cellphones, come into existence before our beliefs and values change to accommodate those objects.
This may explain why technology has a way of bringing out our mindless-blobbiness. That is the state we default to without any guiding values or principles. Perhaps, then, the mass of humanity is lacking in clarity about the meaning of their lives, and what is truly important to them. Technology reveals this deficit to us.
“The mass of humanity,” of course, doesn’t mean everyone. For some people, as I’ve stated, technology allows them to effectively be more evil. For others, technology magnifies their ability to serve humanity. And for others still, it reveals more of their insanity to more of the world.
Of course, no one is pure good or pure evil, and no one is totally (by some measure) sane or insane. I am reluctant to say that there is anything within ourselves we should actively seek to suppress, except on a momentary basis (e.g. you think about punching someone… don’t do that!). I don’t suggest that you act on every urge that arises within you, but do acknowledge your potentialities.
When you enter denial you lose power. If you deny your desire to do something ineffective or evil you still are denying a part of yourself. When you put energy into holding part of yourself back, how powerful and effective can you expect yourself to be in other aspects? Probably not so much.
What might you do instead?
The Darkness and the Light Within
For the major possessions in our lives- our automobiles, our computers, our drugs, our skills, even our bodies- it may serve us to be aware of the good possibilities, the bad possibilities, and the hackability of these things.
When you hold the person you care about most and she tells you I love you, be aware of the immense power you wield in that moment. This person is not necessarily weak, but she is incredibly vulnerable. She’s putting a lot- herself- on the line. She may not need you to respond a certain way, but, hey- maybe she does.
You can return the love and create synergy, allowing both of you to become more powerful than you ever could be alone. Or you could exploit that love and that power, for whatever reason, and destroy her (in some sense).
When you are aware of the full spectrum of possibilities you are better able to act appropriately should those possibilities arise. You can also better appreciate the current reality. When someone hugs you they could easily stab you in the back, or at least slip something out of your back pocket. But when they don’t, well, isn’t that kind of nice? :)
This mindset is not to be confused with constant worry nor with being unpolarized. I wrote about polarization in Enemies of Consciousness. You can orient yourself toward the love pole, and become a lightworker, or toward the fear pole, and become a darkworker. Love means that you see the highest good as the best interest of the whole, and you are thus motivated to serve others. Fear means that you see the highest good as the best interest of yourself, and you are thus motivated to serve yourself.
Love is typically related to gains in consciousness (in short, personal development) and is the object of subjective purpose, which I discuss in Work, Play, and Purpose. Fear is typically related to material gains and is the driver of objective purpose. Subjective purpose entails that the task has deeper meaning to an individual. Objective purpose seeks only to make observable, external changes, and may or may not care for consciousness.
The point of my telling you this is to show you that the crooks and criminals of the world aren’t necessarily insane or broken. They just have different views of what is in their best interest. Whether consciously or unconsciously, people always act in what they perceive to be their best momentary interest.
I have said it before: emotion is more powerful than logic, and we first do what makes sense to us at an emotional level. What is sensible is different for each of us, and it can be changed.
Most people alternate between fear and love motivation, sometimes wishing to help others while other times acting for their own material gain. The loving mother who takes good care of her children yet stays at her job just for the money is likely a common example of this. Sure, that money goes toward her service to her children, but couldn’t she earn that money by a more loving means?
As you could guess, by constantly switching directions means you don’t get very far, and thus you are ineffective. Steve Pavlina calls unpolarized people “Non-Player Characters” (NPCs), a term I for some reason like. A lot.
If you’ve played video games you know how ridiculous and unfocused the NPCs (e.g. the AIs, or “computer-players”) can be- particularly those that aren’t bosses. One second they’re over here, the next second they’re over there doing God knows what. When they’re your enemies, you laugh at them; when they’re your allies, you loathe them. They act like drugged monkeys. I wonder how many of us would admit to being like that.
Lightworkers do not ignore or deny fear. If they did it would be wrong to call them powerful, as this denial would take away their power. Instead, they seek to define and then defy their fears with direct action. In doing so they reduce their fear and are thus able to become more loving. I would attest that they also form a more accurate perception of reality in this way, as fears are often representative of some lie we believe (e.g. running a lot will kill you into oblivion and you will die).
Fear and love are ultimately the only two emotional states we experience. All negative emotions can be classified under fear, and all positive under love. When a lightworker chooses to be aware of the darkness within himself he can look into the face of fear and then choose to transcend it.
In An Unusual 30 Day Trial I choose to recognize my shame around eating and seek to reduce it by doing what it doesn’t want me to do (eat more). I was gifted with fear-reducing results almost immediately, and I expect to see more. Now I am sharing this success with you, so that you might give it a try for yourself (if needed) and see if it improves your life, too.
In contrast, a darkworker would probably not fear gluttony or resource-consumption in themselves. He might instead fear bad health, and seek to make gains in his health. He would thus allow his fear to drive him toward these gains, which might look like improving his diet, restricting his calories just enough, and exercising. His fear would persist because he needs it to in order to stay motivated to act in this way.
Each of us is guided by fear in some fashion. The darkworker seeks approval of his fear. If you fear bad health, go get good health. If you fear being alone, go get a mate. If you fear being broke, go get money. Winning fear’s approval is an ongoing process that will persist until you die. The fear is not going anywhere.
The lightworker seeks the disapproval of his fear. Whatever outcome he fears, he walks directly toward. If I live in constant fear of gaining a couple pounds and I’m at a low weight as it is, then I might just go gain them. If and when I lose them I can let them go with a newfound love, rather than loathing, of myself. If I fear being alone, then I might take some time to do so. When I reduce the fear I will again be able to connect with people out of a love of sharing my joy with them.
If I fear going broke, I might just allow myself to be so for a little while. The Roman senator and Stoic philosopher Seneca, who was incredibly wealthy, deliberately lived as a pauper for about one day a month. When he sought out poverty rather than more money he was able to ask himself at the end of the day, Is this all I really feared? When that fear goes away you can then find more love-oriented ways of making money, and you can appreciate every dollar that comes in without really needing it.
In this way, I am able to transmute the darkness within me into something love-oriented. Perhaps I am afraid now, but in time I will learn from this fear, and what I learn will help me to be a better person. As long as I have a high drive for learning there is no enemy to my consciousness. The darkworkers only keep me on my toes, pushing me to keep growing and be my best. Ultimately, they may help me to become better than I could have without them. If you want to keep up this game, I’m down. With every blow you build me up.
Tim Ferriss explains the lightworker approach to fear (though with different terminology) in an episode of his podcast called “The Power of Negativity” (episode 17). It’s short, simple, and possibly easier to understand than the writing of Kim. :P
Lightworkers and darkworkers tend to differ in their fears somewhat, but not entirely. I sometimes fear failing to attain my potential, live my life to the fullest, and serve people in the best way that I can. I’m not sure that a darkworker would care much about those things. I do, however, fear loneliness and ill health sometimes; but, unlike darkworkers I will see through these fears as time goes on. Those guys are stuck with them for life.
The Unpolarized Problem
To return to the eating example, I probably don’t even need to tell you how an NPC would act. Just look around. They’ll make a New Year’s Resolution to lose 20 pounds, they’ll get a gym membership and go maybe 10 times, and they’ll try to put themselves on some fad diet. Then they’ll binge one day and feel bad about it, and their gym-attendance will become more sporadic, and then finally they will, in time, just give up on the whole thing and go back to however they’ve always been.
For the most part the NPC sets goals without a larger context within which to set them. He wants to lose 20 pounds, but he has no idea why. “To get healthy,” he says. Whatever that means. He is unaware of his motives. There is no higher purpose for his actions. At least when you’re with a darkworker you know that they’re driven by self-interest. With NPCs you can’t be sure, because they aren’t even sure themselves much of the time. They’re unpredictable.
Think about it: Who buys into hysteria? Who complains the most, yet is also the most ineffective at getting anything done? That’s right. It’s the NPC.
When you stand for nothing, you will fall for anything. When you lack a larger context for your life, life will chew you up and then spit you out. When you fail to reconcile the light and the darkness within yourself you will be overrun by paralysis.
I must wonder, then, if it is NPCs who contribute more to this end-of-times than darkworkers. By taking the path of least resistance, conforming and living passively, you can actually cause quite a bit of destruction. I’ve said it already: just look at the Earth. How much might you contribute to environmental degradation on a daily basis? If you live in America, probably a lot. And you try to live neutrally, thinking that you don’t hurt anyone. If you’re as much of a glut as the rest of us, you might be hurting everyone.
The people who want to take your money and kill you- how much worse are they, in reality, than you? The only difference between them and the rest of us is that their destruction is deliberate. I’m not giving myself a hall pass on this one; like you, I am guilty as charged. I’m conventional enough.
Perhaps it would serve to recognize, then, that each one of us contributes to this end-of-times. By allowing myself to stagnate I contribute to degradation. I suppose we just came full circle with that one.
The most strongly polarized lightworkers and darkworkers reflect the love and the fear that is present in all of us. They are the magnification; money and technology are the magnifiers. It’s how we perceive and what we do with these things that makes all the difference in what world we create.
This world is a co-creative project. Each of us is responsible in this co-creation. The more we deny this fact, the closer this project gets to being thrown in the trash. It would be nice if designated people took care of all my car and computer needs for me so I can use these things without thinking about them, but in the end how well would that serve me? If they- as well as I- could not be hacked and broken, what would we be? What worth would we have?
What would it really do for me if I had no potential for darkness or suffering? Would I even be powerful? Would I even have a need to be here?
How Shall I Act?
When it appears as though the world is ending, logic and emotion are likely at battle. For the most part, that means reality defies what we have been taught to buy into and live with comfortably. A major stock market crash (think recessions, depressions) exemplifies this. Higher reasoning tells us that we cannot continue living as we have been, but the degenerate logic (a result of emotionally-held learning/conditioning) we listen to more often tells us to stay within the system and just try this one little thing differently. Come on, you don’t have to go that craz,y man. If it worked before, it’ll keep working now.
What exactly you should do I cannot answer concretely, for that must be tailored to the situation and to the individual. Though we likely face similar challenges, what you should do and what I should do are not the same. Each of us has different needs and capabilities that will require us to act differently. In addition, variety generally is beneficial and even necessary to the survival of the whole. If we all use the exact same solution we may soon go down in flames.
Certainly, however, I can provide a basic answer. I will do so in two parts: first based on aspects of life, then on the Realness principles.
For part one I shall be brief. Here are the realms of concern and what you basically might do about them:
Money: Diversify. Build multiple streams of income.
Health: Begin (or continue) exercising and start adding healthier foods to your diet. Remove junk as you go along. Try not to get swamped into hype at the micronutrient level, or you’ll never make progress. If you know it’s junk, get rid of it. The first requirement to being powerful and to existing is health, so don’t skimp here.
Career: If the call to lightwork resonates with you in some fashion, heed it. Find the place where what you want to experience, how you can grow, and how you can serve others (and perhaps help them grow) all intersect, and see how you might earn money at that place. What form this will take (a business, a job, volunteering) must make sense to you also.
Skills, skills, skills: The more skills you have and the greater a variety of skills you have, the better. Skill-building is certainly the best way you can prepare for any disaster. Know how to survive in the wilderness, how to repair your car, and how to protect your computer and you’ve already got gold.
Educate yourself: An offshoot of skill-building, educating yourself is crucial to success in all of these areas. If you don’t know what foods are healthy or how you can make money, there’s plenty to be read and heard on the topics. Step one to investing in a better reality is to invest in your knowledge.
I know that throughout this article I suggest you should upheave your life and start making major changes. I don’t really mean that, because going too out of whack might just add to the fuel of hysteria. Plus, it may not be necessary. However, monumental disasters have happened before. Your life can change in an instant. Ever heard of the Great Depression?
To accurately diagnose when things are going wrong and when you must change, it is crucial that you practice honesty, openness, and foresight. First, be open to all possibilities (e.g. the world is ending) and accept, at least momentarily, what is happening. Don’t lay back and accept it passively; rather, just look at what might be happening.
Be open to your inner reality as well: if you have a strong response to a particular option, make note of it. This is where honesty comes in. If you feel or think a certain way, even if you know it reflects inaccuracy, be honest about it. Own your response—it reveals something about you.
Foresight is your bs-meter. Once the possibilities are laid out on the table, filter through all the hype.
The process isn’t totally linear, as the Realness principles are not mutually-exclusive. The use of openness generally requires foresight, typically the more frightened and inaccurate you are. It’s hard for you to see a good reason to be open-minded, so you must use universal (higher) logic to tell you, Trust me on this one- it can work.
The overall process of seeing reality more accurately will likely bring you into Adventure, since you might have to do something totally new and wild and crazy to resolve the situation. Trusting your own judgment along the way and seeking to improve your situation entails Love, since you are connecting with and serving (helping) yourself.
What a nice way to transition!
When you choose to live with distrust you rob yourself of the potential to grow and you push yourself into a corner of fear—and it’s probably not the kind that will get you mates and money. Remember that fear persists when you seek its approval. Sometimes you will be right to distrust others, but can you afford to distrust yourself?
When you are cynical of your drive to love and suppressive of your desire for greed, where does that get you? When you have no trust, how can you live? How can you step outside when you expect assault, or even eat when you suspect your food has been poisoned? When you resign trust to purely external possibility you must attempt to change your outer world, as a darkworker would (and thus be fueled by fear), or suffer paralysis. I suspect that a darkworker trusts in his ability to create change, whereas the NPC does not.
The lightworker is not, in contrast, naïve. Based on trust in himself and his own judgment he can choose how much trust he places in his external world. Such trust- which is synonymous with acting on inspiration- is a skill to be practiced. Ultimately, he trusts that he will learn as needed, even if that means that sometimes judgment fails him and he loses.
One of the major factors in distrust and the perception that the world is ending is the concept of ownership. The premise that people want to take my job, my money, and my life is only scary if I think I own and am entitled to these things.
This external-focus indicates fear-based living. Fear-based living says that I am what you see here. I am my body, I am what I do, I am my possessions. When I live in fear I perceive that I need these things, and as long as I pursue them my fear will persist.
Ironically, letting go of fear can better enable you to attain the things fear wants. Certainly it is easier to be in good health when you aren’t constantly awash in anxiety.
When I know that I am more than my body I do not need to fear you hurting me. When I do not fear being hurt, can I be hurt? When I know that darkness is only fleeting does it still wield power over me? When I refuse to give meaning to your deeds, do they bear meaning any longer? Would you still be successful at self-gain, and I still suffer at loss? Or would this event fall dead to the ground, leaving each of us unphased?
Ending: The Immortality of Consciousness
The world will continue to change, both by conscious and unconscious means. Whatever happens, I suspect I need not fear it because it is only a reflection of what is within myself, and do I need to fear myself? This doesn’t mean that I won’t be afraid, but nevertheless I will seek the truth underneath it all.
People may rob me, cheat me, lie to me, beat me. One day, someone might even kill me. Something will. Surely this is no scarier than would be slowly killing myself over time, such as through stagnation. Surely there is nothing which can truly cause my death but my own self.
And so it is with you. Live proactively. When you are faced with biological assault, identity theft, and job loss, choose to learn from the situation. No one can take learning away from you, even if they rip out your brain. Reality arises within consciousness, and consciousness cannot be killed. You may be down, but you are never out. Someday you shall be reunited, in some form, with your higher processes.
You are allowed to feel afraid. Know that behind this fear lies a deeper truth. When you choose to seek the disapproval of your fear it has no legs to stand on. When you step up to the great bully, the world, and grab it by the beard you will find that it comes off easily in your hand, and was tied on only to scare away timid adventurers (at least, that’s what Emerson said). This planet may be bound for hell, but that doesn’t mean you have to be.
If you can do no other, laugh at the sheer ridiculousness of impending doom as the world goes up in flames. Hell is hilarious, and it exists only so long as you buy into it.
When you have run out of choices, laugh with the knowing that you may soon meet with Truth on the other side-- wherever that side may be.
Tim Ferriss: http://fourhourworkweek.com/podcast/ (episode 17 is only on iTunes)
-includes reference to Seneca: Letters from a Stoic and On the Shortness of Life
Miles Olsen: Unlearn, Rewild
Inspiration: Marc Goodman, author of the upcoming Future Crimes
-Interview with Tim Ferriss: http://fourhourworkweek.com/2014/12/09/future-crimes/
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(Written 3-5 January 2015)