Unlightenment: The Power of Not Taking Yourself Too Seriously

“People suffer only because they take seriously what the gods made for fun.” ~Alan Watts

It turns out that enlightenment is just having a really good sense of humor. We are all merely punchlines to a terribly funny cosmic joke.

But the real question is this: what do we do about it? Do we have hard feelings about it or do we cultivate a disposition of lightheartedness? Do we take it seriously and tighten our grip or do we take it sincerely and loosen up a little? Do we curl up into a ball of existential angst and cry ourselves to sleep or do we have a sense of humor about it? Do we tremble, tremble, tremble or do we laugh, laugh, laugh?

The path to enlightenment was never meant to be easy. It’s an arduously Herculean task, a painstakingly Nietzschean mission, a laboriously Promethean undertaking.

Hell, life is difficult even if you’re not seeking self-improvement, Eudaimonia, or enlightenment. It’s hard if you’re sitting on your ass wasting your life half-alive, and it’s hard if you’re on your feet kicking ass and living life to the fullest. The latter may be more fulfilling, but it’s also riskier, more challenging, and more painful.

But this article isn’t about enlightenment. This article is about unlightenment. It’s about laughing at all the bullshit. It’s about pulling the overreaching Guru’s pants down. It’s about knocking the holier than thou plastic shaman off his high horse. It’s about blowing smoke up a haughty nun’s skirt. It’s about cultivating a good sense of humor while in the trenches of enlightenment. It’s about painfully rolling over in the gutter and still managing to be awestruck by the stars.

To breathe or not to breathe, that is the question:

“There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide. Judging whether life is or is not worth living amounts to answering the fundamental question of philosophy.” ~Albert Camus

Sometimes feeling better is just a matter of acknowledging how awful you feel. Sometimes self-improvement means sidestepping self-preservation. Not acknowledging how you feel can lead to repression, psychosis and suicide. By acknowledging it, you give yourself a way out. Acknowledgment is the safety line that you can use to climb out of depression.

Rather than sugarcoating shit, own your shit. Rather than blowing hot hair up your own ass, just acknowledge that you’re full of hot air. Just admit that you’re more than likely full of shit. Then let that shit go. Release it. Surrender your ego.

It’s okay. It turns out that we’re all full of shit to some degree or another. As Scott Adams poignantly surmised, “The human mind is a delusion generator, not a window to truth. The best any human can do is to pick a delusion that helps him get through the day.” But accepting it, embracing it, then letting it go, sets you free.

If you are ignoring your own unhappiness, pain, and anger, and then covering it up with a pretend smile, a fake laugh, an insincere self-affirmation, or some pseudo-enlightenment bullshit, then you’re going nowhere real slow. In fact, you’re slowly imploding. You’re inadvertently regressing. Your repression of your emotions is slowly transforming you into an emotional wreck.

You’ve got to own your shit. Be unhappy with your unhappiness. Hurt with your pain. Seethe with your anger. Roll with the punches. Then let it all go with a deep breath and a fuck you. Embrace it. Own it. Release it. Repeat. It’s so simple it’s stupid.

Okay, maybe it’s not so simple. But it beats the alternative: stagnation, regression, psychosis or suicide. Only after you’ve owned your shit should you dare to don other masks. Before enlightenment, unlightenment; after enlightenment, more unlightenment.

Get out of your own way:

“There are plenty of difficult obstacles in your path. Don’t allow yourself to become one of them.” ~Ralph Marsten

If enlightenment is having a good sense of humor, then unlightenment is the sense of humor. In this sense, unlightenment is the heart and soul of enlightenment.

There will always be speedbumps and setbacks along the path. Similarly, there will sometimes be smooth spots and cloud-nines. Mostly it’s a rollercoaster ride. There will be waves and there will be troughs. There will be ups and there will be downs. When we’re up, we need to guard against haughtiness, arrogance, and dogmatism. When we’re down, we need to guard against nihilism, depression, and suicide. Humor helps with both.

Humor helps us get out of our own way both when we’re high on life (on cloud-nine) and when we’re down on life (in the trenches). It’s the ultimate existential salve. It cuts through the high and mighty bullshit just as it parts the watery shit in the sewers. It knocks makeshift gods off aggrandized pedestals just as it transforms demons into allies. It tricks our fixed mindset (whether pessimistic or optimistic) into flexible mindfulness.

Indeed. A good sense of humor can get you through just about anything. And even if it doesn’t, at least you’re laughing. At least you’re not taking yourself so damn seriously that your heart wants to punch its way out of your body. At least you’re not so hung-up on whatever that your soul wants to kick your head out of your own ass.

There are no answers, but change is an absolute:

“To change one’s life: 1. Start immediately, 2. Do it flamboyantly, 3. No exceptions.” ~William James

If you’re on the path toward enlightenment for answers, then you’re on the wrong path. The path is more about questions than it is about so-called answers. The journey is the thing. Even when answers happen to arise, they should be a reason to question rather than an excuse to settle. That’s what the following Zen proverb is hinting at: “If you meet Buddha on the road, kill him.”




Scientists Discover Huge Amounts of Aluminum In The Brains of Deceased Autistic People

by Robert F. Kennedy Jr

Scientists have been aware of aluminum’s neurotoxicity for decades. Although aluminum’s apologists have tried to shroud the metal’s risks in manufactured controversy, a growing number of reports by researchers in the United KingdomFranceCanadaIsrael, the U.S. and elsewhere has furnished substantive evidence linking aluminum to neuropathology, including the epidemics of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and autism spectrum disorder (ASD).

Aluminum levels were particularly high in the male brains, including in a 15-year-old boy with ASD who had the study’s single highest brain aluminum measurement.

Dr. Christopher Exley—one of the world’s leading experts on aluminum toxicity—has shown that chronic intoxication with myriad forms of this “ubiquitous and omnipresent metal” is exacting a high price on human health. Dr. Exley and other aluminum experts such as molecular biologist Dr. Lucija Tomljenovic have confirmed that aluminum readily and actively traverses the blood-brain barrier to selectively accumulate in brain tissues, where it induces unwelcome changes in brain biochemistry. As Dr. Exley has noted, “There are no ‘normal’ levels of brain aluminum,” meaning that “its presence in brain tissue, at any level, could be construed as abnormal” [emphasis added].

Below is a video of him speaking on his study.

Documenting Aluminum in the ASD Brain

In light of the fact that even minute amounts of aluminum can have adverse neurological consequences, Dr. Exley’s newest paper—which reports on the first-ever study of aluminum in ASD brain tissue—is groundbreaking. Published in the Journal of Trace Elements in Medicine and Biology, the paper documents some of the highest values for aluminum in human brain tissue ever recorded. Using a two-pronged study design (see box), the researchers measured and characterized aluminum deposits in brain tissues from five to ten ASD donors, most of whom died in their teens or twenties.




Ayahuasca, Iboga and Expanding Your Consciousness

Ayahuasca and Iboga… kindred medicine sacred plants have been pushing themselves into the collective consciousness of the 3D world.

For thousands of years indigenous tribes have structured their cultures and cosmologies around the wisdom gleaned from communing with these sacred plant teachers.

At this time there is a widespread and growing interest in these sacraments as a means to heal and clear energetic blockages from the body so many in the world suffer from.

“Grandmother Medicine is wise and powerful. Perhaps the plants themselves are catalyzing new opportunities for survival of their wisdom as well as their rainforest home, and maybe us too!” — Jonathon Miller-Weisberger

Used in shamanic and ceromony practices, Ayahuasca, native to South America, is a entheogenic brew; banisteriopsis caapi, and other DMT containing plants such as chacruna, or psychotria viridis.

Iboga, native to the rainforest of Gabon, Africa, is an entheogenic root bark of the tree, tabernanthe iboga.

Both of these sacred plant medicines are taken ceremonially as medicinal rites to facilitate physical and psychological healing, and to teach ethical living, develop spirituality, strengthen family and communal ties, and to deepen one’s connection to all life.

They are the center pieces of shamanic traditions that have for ages been full-spectrum healing arts that address the total human needs of individuals and communities alike, while addressing energetic imbalances between humans and nature. They bring a human being into direct contact with the mystical nature of life and consciousness.

In assisting with the planetary ascension, both of these sacred plants are working their way into the consciousness of the world at a time when the planet is under severe ecological assault and the individual is being polluted with toxic foods, bombarded with fear and suffering from dreadful mental & emotional health.

Mother Earth, the shining blue pearl of life in a vast sea of space is the source of all life.

The propagation of truly organic-living-light wisdom via these sacred plant medicines into humanity is her conscious effort to redress the damage being done to the planet and each other, whose communication is limited to the forces of nature with the ability to inspire, expanding consciousness, transforming lives and loving us through it all.

“We are not talking about passive agents of transformation, we are talking about an intelligence, a consciousness, an alive and other mind, a spirit. Nature is alive and is talking to us. This is not a metaphor.” — Terence McKenna

Transformation is the key to navigating these critical times, and these sacred plant medicines strike at the root of the planetary shift. It takes tremendous courage to step into the “spirit fire” with these sacred plant medicines, but for those who do, will feel their own destiny, their divine purpose.

One will be renewed and cleansed, with heightened energy and abundant inspiration, activating dormant DNA codes at the highest potential. Fear is understood as the illusion that it is, emotional healing happens instantly, and the infinite nature of human consciousness is revealed.

One reassess their connection to nature and sees, senses and directly feels the sentience in all things and embraces the connection to the cosmic web of life. Deep, enduring questions are answered, and forgiveness is granted. The spiritual seeker undertakes personal ascension and a new life path unfolds based on Love-Unity.




The Observer Effect & The POWER of YOUR THOUGHTS! (How QUANTUM PHYSICS Explains REALITY)

The observer effect how quantum physics explains reality (the power of your thoughts) Quantum physics experiments confirm that consciousness creates reality. This video will outline those experiments to make the observer effect easier to understand. According to quantum physics, there are an infinite number of possibilities in the quantum field. And this field contains a reality wherein you already have everything you currently desire. We each have the capability to use our mind, with focused observation, to collapse that reality from wave (energy) form, into physical form. When you learn how to fine tune your skills of awareness and observation, you can effect your life and your reality in any way you choose, and create any experience you wish.

Law of Attraction does not bring positive results without positive beliefs and positive patterns. These principles are the secret formula to follow if you wish to align with your desires the way countless others have. You are a limitless creator. Learn how to break free from self-imposed limitations and live the life you desire!




Kozyrev’s Mirrors – Bending Time & Altering Consciousness

Kozyrev’s mirrors open up those enclosed in them to new perceptions.

Those enclosed within these specially shaped concave aluminum mirrors have out of body experiences and see visions that far exceed even LSD. The Russians have done immense research on Kozyrev’s mirrors.

Mystics and prophets of old were assured that the mirror, especially concave, can empower a person’s ability of clairvoyance. We faced today’s scientists with the unusual properties of these mirrors: physicists, biologists, geneticists, psychologists …

Scientists from the Siberian Branch of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR at the time decided to deal with the mysterious properties of concave mirrors. Based on experiments and theory of time from Leningrad astrophysicist Nikolai Alexandrovich Kozyrev, the researchers produced a special mirror design and the end of 1980 and started experimenting with a mental image transfer over large distances. In the global experiments twelve countries of the world were employed and nearly five thousand participants. The results exceeded all expectations. In most cases up to 95 percent of the telepathic information was received correctly. These results can not be attributed to accidental coincidences … 

What if the secrets of concave mirrors were carried away when their biggest expert died – a scientist in the thirteenth century called Roger Bacon. How did he manage to look for hundreds of years ahead and to predict the invention of the microscope and telescope, cars and airplanes, ships powered by engines? How did he knew about galaxies and extragalactic nebulae, the structure of biological cells and the process of embryo formation, composition and operation of gun powder?

Is it a coincidence that during the experiments with Kozyrev mirrors over the laboratory UFOs were seen regularly? What about this so called the field of fear around the mirror setting? The glowing symbols that appear in it? What happens to a man once inside Kozyrev mirror? What is up with the “information space” (collective memory, akasha) and how researchers can obtain information not only from the distant past of humanity, but also from the future?

What is the importance of a concave mirror on planetary scale, and how it can act on people and equipment? What are the prospects of the concave mirrors in medicine, aerospace, scientific knowledge of the world? And finally, why the sensational results of Siberian and Ural scientists are virtually unknown to the people?

These are the questions that this documentary addresses.




How Ayahuasca Made This CEO Unplug from the Matrix

To become warriors, the cohiuanos must abandon all and go alone to the jungle, guided only by their dreams.

In this journey, he has to find out, in solitude and silence, who he really is. He must become a wanderer dream. Many are lost, and some never return.

But those who return, they are ready to face what is to come.

—Karamakate, Embrace of the Serpent

I lived many lifetimes that night, and parts of my identity peeled away, never to return. I was shocked out of the “dream trance” that had defined my existence until that moment. This seems to be a common occurrence under the influence of Yahé.

I was 19 years old, visiting tribes in the Putumayo, deep inside the Ecuadorian Amazon basin. It was balmy, teeming full of unfamiliar organisms, many of them venomous. Gigantic trees towered over a multi-layered tapestry of life. I knew the Amazon was shrinking by 7% a year and I wanted to experience its magic before it might disappear completely if humanity continues to accelerate towards the proverbial cliff.

My group visited an old medicine man who lived a humble existence in a hut on the side of the river. It was important to me to learn more about traditional healing practices in the region. Ancient practices that spanned through the millennia, carrying ancient knowledge that I now believe carries information crucial to the survival of our species. As our group was leaving, the man mentioned to our tour leader that he would be drinking ayahuasca that night.

This was just the opportunity I had been waiting for.

One wonders how people in primitive societies, with no knowledge of chemistry or physiology, ever hit upon a solution to the activation of an alkaloid by a monoamine oxidase inhibitor. Pure experimentation? Perhaps not.

—Richard Evans Schultes

Being an avid reader of John Perkins, Terence McKenna, and Richard Evans Schultes, I had always felt inspired to drink this sacred medicine in its place of origin. These writers explored both the individual and collective unconsciousness, the spirit world that we come into contact with through the portal of plant medicine, and our everyday reality. I wasn’t necessarily looking for healing. It was more of an intuition, and a desire to experience authentic indigenous culture as well as follow in the footsteps of some of my then heroes.

These warrior writers brought up the collective imperative questions that we as a society must ask ourselves: What is the meaning of industrial development? Where are we going? What can we learn from indigenous tribes?

I started to wonder about these questions, too.

The tour guide left me for the evening with the old man, who must have been at least 80. He was joined by his brother. Neither of them spoke much Spanish—only their native Kichwa language. One candle burned in an otherwise dark room.

I had one cup, and then another, waiting for what seemed like an eternity. Still, I sensed no change in perception. So I insisted on a third cup, immediately after which I began to feel very ill. This was accompanied by a rising tide of anxiety. Within 15 minutes, I began to vomit. I didn’t stop until six rounds of purging had completely emptied me. It was then that I witnessed a myriad of physical and nonphysical things leave my body—things that had been buried deep inside of me for years.

Afterward, I lay down and closed my eyes in wonder as many of my past transgressions passed through my mindscape. I went into a retrospective on my relationships with each of my family members, and my girlfriend at the time. In different ways, I was not fully showing up for each of these relationships. A sense of compassion welled up inside me due to this realization, and I became overwhelmed by a feeling of sadness, almost a crying, and I soon felt that this was no different from the pain of the jungle itself, no longer separated from my own feelings, as the permeable walls of self dissolved.

The world is as you dream it,” he said at last. “Your people dreamed of huge factories, tall buildings, as many cars as there are raindrops in this river. Now you begin to see that your dream is a nightmare.” He bent to pick up a stone. “The problem is your country is like this pebble.” He threw it far out into the river. “Everything you do ripples across the Mother.

—Numi, Shuar Shaman

After that sleepless but intensely rejuvenating night, I became a missionary of Mother Ayahuasca, an embodiment of Gaia herself. I surrendered to her will and stopped worrying or trying to understand why I am here. One of the powerful messages that was delivered to me that night was that humans had always been integrated with the natural cycles of the biosphere, but in these times we have forgotten our relationship with nature, which is the source of all life. Almost all of our social and environmental problems today can be traced back to this disconnection.

Ayahuasca reawakened this connection in me.

Through the years, I have drunk ayahuasca more than 30 times. It never gets any easier. With each time, I continue to sink into the experience of surrender, and trust that the universe will give me all lessons at the moment I need them.

The seed of the new world sprouts within each one of us. The ayahuasca experience is a huge catalyst for this, as is meditation. We can also water the seed by spending time immersed in nature, in small communities, similar to how our ancestors lived.

Through my own transformation with ayahuasca, I have come to understand that social and economic transformation will only come after a critical mass of individuals have undergone a personal transformation.

NuMundo, the project I founded in 2013, was born out of this conviction.

NuMundo is not mine; it is a vision expressed through me with the intention of scaling the transformational experience, in its many diverse forms, to reach millions of people around the world.

Once personal transformation occurs, we need to be supported, as previous notions of our role and purpose are no longer relevant. NuMundo is a support network that serves to integrate people into this emerging culture—to connect them with follow-on experiences at “impact centers” around the world. Impact centers are physical locations where a new way of being is embodied – ecovillages, indigenous communities, retreat centers, organic farms, even rainforest conservation sanctuaries.

Today, a critical mass of people is waking up. It is of fundamental importance that we support each other and build bridges that make the transition easier.

NuMundo is an educational network, equipping people with the practical skill-sets necessary to build a regenerative economy. We focus heavily on permaculture, a design science based on ancestral ways of living in balance with nature. More than the future basis of economics, permaculture can be viewed as the programming language of nature. We can utilize it to restore degraded ecosystems, increase biodiversity, and generate abundance for human beings and all life.

According to NuMundo’s theory of change, the creation of physical spaces that embody a new culture can accelerate that critical mass of awakened humans. The contemporary urban landscape is programmed with a value system embodied by a vast underground network of cables; a legal and economic system governing human interaction and even consciousness itself; a culture of consumerism fueled by fear and desire; and widespread stress generated by the financial pressures of rent and other basic needs.

It is difficult to transform one’s consciousness in such a system.

A new culture needs a new program.

NuMundo’s impact centers are physical centers of impact, holding a vibration of a different reality.  There are 380 impact centers in the network, and more join every week. Rancho Mastatal, the center I’ve been based at in Costa Rica for the past year, is an education center for sustainable living. High school and college groups from North America pass through the Ranch monthly, where they are immersed in an experiential learning program involving bioconstruction, permaculture, and nature awareness. The ranch is managed by a core group of six team members, and supported by a group of six apprentices. The ranch borders a national park with stunning waterfalls, and bird watchers from around the world come every year for the chance to spot rare species.

When we step into a different vibration, we can begin to unlearn. Ayahuasca and other ancient consciousness technologies like yoga, meditation, and diet, allow us to deprogram, to unlearn, and to decondition social patterns imposed by the dominant society. Our impact centers act as schools for unlearning, for transformation, and for discovery of passion and purpose in this lifetime.




The Evolution of Consciousness – Part 1

This is the first in a series of articles by KAMLESH D. PATEL about the evolution of consciousness, and how spiritual practices are designed to help consciousness expand and evolve.

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The Science of Spirituality

Part 1 – The Three Bodies

When we talk about weaving a destiny, a future for ourselves, what do we mean? In the worldly sense, we want a good life. From my one-bedroom apartment, I want a five-bedroom house; from owning one factory I hope to own ten factories; I dream of being promoted from the position of a clerk to that of a CEO; I want a happy and fulfilling family life, and to raise children who also have fulfilling lives.

From the spiritual perspective, we are concerned with a much bigger picture. In order to explore this further, we need to first describe the human makeup. We have a physical body made of flesh and blood that is the most solid part of us. While it changes a little bit, according to how we live our lives, it doesn’t change much. Physical evolution happens over longer periods than one lifetime, so we don’t expect our physical body to evolve in this life. The physical body is associated with matter.

We also have a subtle body, also known as the astral or mental body, that is associated with energy and vibration. This is what we call the heart and mind. The third body we have is our causal body, the cause of our existence, which is also known as the soul. The causal body is associated with the absolute state of nothingness, the substratum of existence. This causal body is pure, unchanging and immutable, so it is does not need to evolve.

With the physical and the causal bodies, we cannot expect to find evolutionary changes. When we want to change our thinking and our patterns of behaviour, during any process of self-development, be it psychological or spiritual, what evolves or transforms is the middle layer, the subtle body. Spiritual destiny has everything to do with the purification of the subtle body by removing the layers that surround it. In the mineral kingdom, all three bodies are so closely tied together that it is difficult to separate them; they don’t have much freedom. To the extent to which they can free themselves vibrationally, they have different qualities and we give them names like Gold, Lead, Osmium, etc.

Spiritual destiny has everything to do with the purification of the subtle body by
removing the layers that surround it.

In the plant kingdom, the three bodies are a little looser. Look at a tree. How do you know it has a subtle body that responds? Have you seen flowers that open up when the sun comes? How do they know? They respond so nicely, turning as the sun moves. There is also a plant called Lajvanti, and when you touch it the leaves fold in. When there is a breeze, or even a storm, the leaves and branches of trees dance, but the moment someone tries to cut the branch of a tree, it becomes agitated.

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You can feel it. In plants, the subtle body, and the causal body are very tightly tied together, and the subtle body cannot express much. In animals, there is a still greater separation, and in human beings all the three bodies are labile or loosely connected. Among different human beings, there are also differences in separation. The three gunas in Vedic philosophy — tamasic, rajasic and sattvik — are based on how loosely or how strongly the bodies are connected.




Darker Still: Black Mirror’s New Season Envisions Neurotech Gone Wrong


The key difference between science fiction and fantasy is that science fiction is entirely possible because of its grounding in scientific facts, while fantasy is not. This is where Black Mirror is both an entertaining and terrifying work of science fiction. Created by Charlie Brooker, the anthological series tells cautionary tales of emerging technology that could one day be an integral part of our everyday lives.

While watching the often alarming episodes, one can’t help but recognize the eerie similarities to some of the tech tools that are already abundant in our lives today. In fact, many previous Black Mirror predictions are already becoming reality.

The latest season of Black Mirror was arguably darker than ever. This time, Brooker seemed to focus on the ethical implications of one particular area: neurotechnology.

Emerging Neurotechnology

Warning: The remainder of this article may contain spoilers from Season 4 of Black Mirror.

Most of the storylines from season four revolve around neurotechnology and brain-machine interfaces. They are based in a world where people have the power to upload their consciousness onto machines, have fully immersive experiences in virtual reality, merge their minds with other minds, record others’ memories, and even track what others are thinking, feeling, and doing. 

How can all this ever be possible? Well, these capabilities are already being developed by pioneers and researchers globally. Early last year, Elon Musk unveiled Neuralink, a company whose goal is to merge the human mind with AI through a neural lace. We’ve already connected two brains via the internet, allowing one brain to communicate with another. Various research teams have been able to develop mechanisms for “reading minds” or reconstructing memories of individuals via devices. The list goes on.

With many of the technologies we see in Black Mirror it’s not a question of if, but when. Futurist Ray Kurzweil has predicted that by the 2030s we will be able to upload our consciousness onto the cloud via nanobots that will “provide full-immersion virtual reality from within the nervous system, provide direct brain-to-brain communication over the internet, and otherwise greatly expand human intelligence.” While other experts continue to challenge Kurzweil on the exact year we’ll accomplish this feat, with the current exponential growth of our technological capabilities, we’re on track to get there eventually.

Ethical Questions

As always, technology is only half the conversation. Equally fascinating are the many ethical and moral questions this topic raises.

For instance, with the increasing convergence of artificial intelligence and virtual reality, we have to ask ourselves if our morality from the physical world transfers equally into the virtual world. The first episode of season four, USS Calister, tells the story of a VR pioneer, Robert Daley, who creates breakthrough AI and VR to satisfy his personal frustrations and sexual urges. He uses the DNA of his coworkers (and their children) to re-create them digitally in his virtual world, to which he escapes to torture them, while they continue to be indifferent in the “real” world.

Audiences are left asking themselves: should what happens in the digital world be considered any less “real” than the physical world? How do we know if the individuals in the virtual world (who are ultimately based on algorithms) have true feelings or sentiments? Have they been developed to exhibit characteristics associated with suffering, or can they really feel suffering? Fascinatingly, these questions point to the hard problem of consciousness—the question of if, why, and how a given physical process generates the specific experience it does—which remains a major mystery in neuroscience.




Letting Go

by Steve Taylor Ph,D

A few months ago, I completed a research project at my university about purpose.  We began with the hypothesis that there are different types of purpose. We identified seven different types, beginning with no purpose, survival purpose (in other words, just getting by from day to day) and religious purpose. We also identified ‘self-accumulative’ purpose, (which means accumulating money, status or power), altruistic/idealistic purpose, and ‘self-expansive’ purpose, which means developing yourself creatively or spiritually. Finally, we identified ‘transpersonal’ purpose, which is the ‘spiritual‘ feeling of serving a purpose that is bigger than you, without much conscious effort or intention. It’s when your purpose seems to flow through you, and carry you along, rather than you pushing it along.

We had some interesting findings, especially in relation to age. There was a negative correlation between self-accumulative purpose and age. That is, the older a person was, the less important money, possessions, status, and power were to them. Meanwhile, there was a positive correlation between ‘transpersonal purpose’ and age. The oldest age group (65-plus) were most likely to feel this kind of ‘spiritual’ purpose, while the youngest age group (18 to 30) were the least likely. (Interestingly, we found that women were more likely to be more oriented around transpersonal purpose too.)

Our research investigated the relationship between different types of purpose and self-reported happiness too. We found that ‘no purpose’ and ‘survival purpose’ were most strongly related to unhappiness, while altruistic, self-expansive and transpersonal purpose was associated with happiness. And transpersonal purpose was most strongly associated with well-being.


Why should older people be more oriented around a ‘transpersonal purpose’? Does this imply that people become more ‘spiritual’ as they get older?

Some evidence for this comes from the theory of ‘gerotranscendence,’ developed by the Swedish psychologist Lars Tornstam. Tornstam suggests that aging can be a process of spiritual development. His research has shown that about 20 percent of people (more women than men) over the age of 65 attain ‘cosmic transcendence’ in which they feel connected to the universe and that they are part of everything alive. They also feel a strong sense of the presence of people who are physically elsewhere.

My own view is that this is because getting older entails letting go of some of our psychological attachments. It means that we are no longer able to depend on external things as much for our sense of identity and well-being. We have to let of our attachments to the future, to our appearance, to our possessions, our success, and so on. This is partly because we move towards the end of (or retire from) our careers, and also because we move closer to death.

This ‘letting go’ is one of the primary characteristics of spiritual development. All spiritual traditions, from Buddhism to Sufism to Taoism, emphasize the importance of not being dependent on external things for our well-being. They tell us that we should not care too much possessions, about ambitions and worldly success, and so on. Rather, we should find a natural source of well-being inside ourselves; a natural contentment that isn’t disturbed by the events and circumstances of our lives. So, for some people, getting older seems to mean becoming more rooted in this inner well-being, as opposed to chasing after sources of external happiness.




Former Facebook Executives Warn Social Media is Destroying Society

By Carolanne Wright | Contributing writer for Wake Up World

For those of us who use social media, we’ve all experienced the familiar “I’ll pop onto [insert platform of choice] for a minute, just to see what’s going on” and then realize, hours later, we’re still scrolling through our news feed, clicking the like icon or having our blood pressure rise by a troll’s diatribe or some other unpleasant post.

Regardless that a Harvard study has established social media platforms are highly addictive – and as pleasurable to the brain’s reward center as food, money and sex – I still often curse my lack of self-control and wasted hours where these sites are concerned.

Although I’m well-aware of the dark underbelly of social media, it’s surprising to see two former Facebook executives — former President Sean Parker, and former Vice President for User Growth, Chamath Palihapitiya — very publicly announce that Facebook is “ripping apart the social fabric of how society works,” and that it’s specifically designed to exploit human vulnerability and psychology.

Cultivating a Culture of Impatience and ‘Fake Brittle Popularity’

During an Axios event in Philadelphia last year, Parker warns that Facebook was intentionally designed to consume as much of our time and attention possible. Using manipulative psychology, the platform is structured in such a way to give you a little dopamine hit for each like and share, which in turn encourages you to contribute more content and interaction.

“It’s a social validation feedback loop… the creators [of Facebook] understood this consciously, and we did it anyway.”

Palihapitiya agrees. In a recent talk he gave to students of the graduate business school at Stanford University, he states:

“The short-term dopamine-driven feedback loops that we have created are destroying how society works: no civil discourse, no cooperation, misinformation, [and] mistruth. And this is not an American problem; this is not about Russian ads; this is a global problem.”

He says he feels tremendous guilt for the role he played in developing these tools that are ripping society apart.

“So we are in a really bad state of affairs right now, in my opinion. It is eroding the core foundations of how people behave by, and between, each other.” Palihapitiya said. “You know, my solution is I just don’t use these tools anymore. I haven’t for years. It’s created huge tension with my friends. Huge tensions in my social circles.”

In short, he didn’t want to become programmed — and his children “aren’t allowed to use that shit” either. He strongly recommends that everyone take a “hard break” from these platforms.

“You don’t realize it, but you are being programmed … but now you got to decide how much you’re willing to give up, how much of your intellectual independence.”

Moreover, Palihapitiya believes social media platforms have encouraged our society to be extremely impatient, fostering the expectation of instant gratification. They also strengthen our “perceived sense of perfection” with short-term signals: hearts, likes, thumbs up, which we confuse with true value.





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