Everything Collapses to Nothing

All maps of meaning are essentially meaningless. They hold no objective value. Their only value is what people decide inside their own minds… or that people have shared across multiple minds (i.e. culture).

All narratives, all thoughts, all feelings – they mean nothing… unless you decide they do.

When you collapse all meaning to nothing (like knocking down a house of cards), what’s left is a big black empty void. Nothing exists there, nothing has meaning, nothing has value.

Philosophically, lots of people reach this point… and get stuck. This is nihilism. And it’s fucking bleak and depressing.

If you inhabit Nihilism Land for too long, you risk becoming bitter, angry, resentful, seriously depressed… and for a very small number of people: murderous.

But there’s an interesting duality at the heart of this inner void.

Yes, on the one hand, it is the utter absence of anything meaningful.

But also, it is a great source of peace and comfort… Perhaps even the greatest source of peace.

When we are mindful, when we meditate, we are tapping in to the intrinsic peace in this great void. We become separate from our thoughts and feelings. We merely witness them from a distance, without engaging in them.

What a strange paradox! This void within the human soul can be the source of utter destruction, but also the source of ultimate peace!


Humans can’t live without meaning for long. Our minds are automatic meaning-creating machines, unless you suffer from certain types of brain damage.

So what’s the foundation of your maps of meaning? Is it religion? Spirituality? A commitment to your family?

A desire for material wealth or power?

A belief you are the centre of your universe (AKA narcissism)?

What I’ve realised is that there isn’t a right or wrong foundation for your maps of meaning. All of them can be collapsed to nothing at a moment’s notice, assuming one’s thinking is flexible enough.

Each of us is totally free to choose whatever foundation we want to build our lives on. There are consequences of course, both for ourselves and for the people around us. So the onus is on each of us to become aware of those consequences and decide if the price is worth paying or not.


Because we are conscious beings, we suffer. And to make the suffering worthwhile, we need a map of meaning which justifies the suffering.

Which map you choose to construct doesn’t really matter. In essence you’re finding positive delusions to give yourself which justify why you continue to live.

You build hope for yourself, even though part of you suspects you’re building on sand, and you acknowledge that this house of cards can be collapsed at any time.

Positive delusions are at the heart of being human.

We try to convince ourselves our lives have meaning, even though ultimately, there’s only a void. We dedicate ourselves to pursuing one or more of our core values: family; status; success; fame; wealth; relationships; religion; spirituality.

Most of us live our lives acting as though we’re never going to die. We do our best to bury our head in the sand. Any one of us could die within the next 24 hours, but we do our best to avoid thinking about that uncomfortable truth.

So we build our houses of cards, our maps of meaning, the foundations for our life… something to give us hope. Something to make the suffering worthwhile.


Is it possible to get comfortable with the void? Can we be mindful all the time (or at least the majority of the time)?

Can we collapse our maps of meaning down to almost nothing… and still survive, have peace, feel hopeful? Can we be mindful, focussing only on raw sensory input, and yet also manage to avoid nihilism?

Can we orbit around the event horizon of a black hole, without gravity sucking us in and destroying us?


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I’ve Found My Life’s Purpose

People nowadays rightfully expect more from their lives than in previous generations. It’s not enough to merely have a good job, car, partner and a nice place to live.

Young people these days are crying out for something more. They’re looking for meaning.

Lots of us still dream of a fat pay cheque and getting rich. But many of us also realise that money, fame and success are ultimately hollow.

Once you have a roof over your head and can pay your bills, more money doesn’t make you happier.


For a while now, I’ve been trying to scratch an itch… I’ve been wanting to fulfil my potential. And I’ve been looking into different ways in which I might achieve that goal.

A few weeks ago, I wrote a pair of blog posts in which I explored this issue:


For almost 3 months, I’ve been attending a 12 Steps fellowship for my issues with drug addiction. It’s been a revelation. I’m changing massively.

“I used to think that drugs were the problem, but they weren’t. It was me that was the problem… me and my fucked up thinking.”

Bollinger, R. (2019)

Lofty goals can be worthwhile. But they’re by no means the most important thing.

Rather than trying to earn X amount of money, or achieve a certain level of success in my career, here’s what I’ve realised…

Who I am on a day-to-day basis is way more important than my job title or how much I earn. It’s my character, my everyday behaviour and the type of person I am that’s truly important.”

Bollinger, R. (2019)

My Life’s Purpose

I want to live every day in alignment with a set of spiritual principles, which include:

  • Honesty
  • Courage
  • Love, Compassion & Kindness
  • Gratitude
  • Awareness & Attention
  • Humility & Open-mindedness

And where I can, I want to help others to fulfil their own potential.

I also want to keep a primary focus on the here & now (the present), rather than worrying about the future or getting depressed about the past. Mindfulness will be my primary tool for achieving that.

Success as a By-Product

As long as I’m living according to the above principles, then I expect success (however you want to define that) will follow as a by-product.

I won’t need to chase money, status or prestige. If I have the right attitude towards myself and others, those things will come naturally.

At least, that’s my hope. I have faith in myself and my Higher Power.

Contrasts

I used to have nothing left to look forward to in life. I thought the only major milestones left for me were retirement and death. I was just killing time while I waited for the grave. My life was empty and meaningless. I was full of nihilism.

Now, it feels like my life has only just begun. It’s a cliche, but I’m born again. Every day is full of adventure. I don’t want to waste a single day. My life is full of meaning and purpose. (This is true most of the time… I still have occasional bad days).


I used to think drug addicts were pieces of shit, the lowest of the low.

Now, I realise that some of the best people in the world are drug addicts (at least the ones in active recovery). They’ve been to hell and back and survived. And they understand what it’s like inside my crazy head.


I used to think only idiots seriously believed in spirituality or religious ideas. I was a closed-minded scientific atheist.

Now, I’m a lot more open-minded. And humble! There’s so much that we simply don’t know. Curiosity and agnosticism seem much more appropriate than blind certainty. My current belief system takes ideas from science, religion and spirituality. I even pray to God most days!


When I was off my face, wasted on drugs, and exploring other dimensions within my mind, I thought that was the high point of my life… feelings of euphoria. I used to say to myself, “If I could feel this way all of the time, my life would be worth living.”

Now, I try not to label feelings as good or bad, they are what they are. I’m learning not to chase after pleasant feelings or run away from unpleasant ones. I’m learning to accept life on life’s terms, rather than trying to escape from it.


I used to dislike responsibility. In fact, I crafted many aspects of my life to minimise my responsibility and optimise my pleasure. And ironically, pursuing this path didn’t make me happy (except in short bursts).

Now, not only do I see responsibility as necessary for myself, I’m actively leaning into it! I actually want to be a responsible adult! When I feel proud of myself, it’s so much better than temporary feelings of euphoria I got from drugs.


I was incredibly selfish. I often ignored the consequences and impacts of my behaviour on others.

Now, I’m learning to be less selfish, to focus outside of my own head and be more caring towards others.


I used to beat myself up for my perceived failures. I made myself feel awful, worthless, pathetic. At its worst, I made myself severely depressed and suicidal.

Now, I take each day one at a time. I try to make each day just a little better than the last. Some days I’ll slide backwards, but overall I’ll make progress. I’m learning to be kind to myself. I forgive myself for my mistakes, and I try to learn whatever lessons life present me.


I used to feel very alone, most of the time. I rarely left the house unless I had to.

Now I’m part of a wonderful community of people, all helping each other. I belong.


I spent huge amounts of time distracting myself with food, the Internet, videogames and (sometimes) porn.

Now I seek what’s meaningful (not just fun or easy). I have the Courage to face my dragons instead of running away from them. I embrace reality rather than chasing fantasy.


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My Super Powers… Are Back!

After my Spiritual Awakening on the 13th Aug, I was magically gifted a set of super powers (AKA drug-induced psychosis). Over the next 2-3 weeks, these powers gradually faded and I returned (more or less) to my usual self.

Today, several of the positive effects came back strongly:

  • A strong sense that my life has purpose and that I’m in exactly the right place at the right time, doing the right thing.
  • Strong sense of motivation and direction.
  • Physical sensations: like my brain is glowing (especially in my forehead); it feels like there’s a long metal bar going horizontally through my skull, from temple to temple (it feels pleasant!); there’s a kind of soft echo to my breath and hand movements, which religious people might interpret as The Holy Spirit; my limbs feel lighter.
  • I feel especially tuned in to what feels meaningful to me.
  • It feels like all aspects of my being are aligned: physical, mental, unconscious, soul, higher self (some of these may be synonyms for each other).
  • I’m aligned with the 3 spiritual principles of Truth, Courage and Love.
  • My ability to concentrate is strengthened.
  • Creative ideas and insights occur to me in a much higher volume than usual.
  • I feel like I can easily enter the state of ‘flow‘.
  • Colours seem brighter.

The biggest downside is that I need to keep reminding myself to focus on the right thing at the right time… I was so absorbed in thought earlier that I absent-mindedly did a couple of things which put the health of one of our dogs at risk. Luckily we think he’s going to be OK, but that kind of mistake is really serious and the consequences could have been much worse.

So, my ability to pay attention may be super strong, but I still need to direct it to the right place at any given moment. I need to watch out for this.


If I lose these super powers again (which seems quite likely), how do I tap into them again later?

Great question. I think the following activities are all closely linked to entering the flow state:

  • Listening closely to my favourite music (currently it’s mostly Flume)
  • Using a gentle, relaxed Awareness to notice the things which feel meaningful to me.
  • Using my Attention to “tune in” to those meaningful things, turning potential into reality.

When I do the above, my super powers (sometimes) come back. I shall keep experimenting with this. Fingers crossed I can replicate these results at will, moving forward.

That would truly be tremendous.

So, What Now?

I feel I have a moral obligation to make the most of these abilities.

I’m going to:


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Becoming a Man [or Woman] of Action

Are you living your life like an NPC (Non-Player Character)? Are you not really living your life’s purpose? Maybe you don’t even have any idea about what your life’s purpose might be?

Then watch this:


The above video from Universal Man (Mark Queppet) resonates strongly with the Truth.

“You have to be more bored than afraid [to be productive]”

Universal Man

I will be following this guy’s YouTube channel closely. If you’re on a similar journey to me, I recommend you do too.


Here are some of my current & former dopamine loops, plus what I’m doing about them:

  • Mindlessly browsing Facebook… -> I deleted my account months ago.
  • Mindlessly watching YouTube videos even if I’m not particularly interested in them… -> I’m now much more discerning, I try to watch only videos which feel meaningful.
  • Scrolling through Instagram looking at hot babes (testosterone AND dopamine loop)… -> Deleted my Instagram account months ago.
  • Wandering into the kitchen looking for food even if I wasn’t hungry… -> I now ask myself if I really want the food before I eat. Often I’m bored, not hungry.
  • Playing videogames (used to be my biggest hobby) -> I haven’t played games at all for about 3 weeks. I will still play them occasionally, but way less than before.
  • Visiting Reddit multiple times per day… -> I’m still trying to strike a balance here because lots of my Reddit use genuinely does feel meaningful.
  • Watching pr0n (wasn’t a big issue for me really) -> I almost never watch pr0n now.

What about you? What are your dopamine loops? How are you mindlessly distracting yourself and ruining your productivity? Let me know in the comments.


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