I wrote this several weeks ago and forgot to publish it.
As usual, I have been sitting around thinking too much about things lately. Several topics have been regularly crossing my mind: resuming my meditation/zen/mindfulness/whatever practice, practicing drawing, how to derive meaning from creative pursuits without feeling the need to share with anyone, and reducing the complexity of my life (both mentally and materially).
It’s a little ironic since my frequent thinking about these things is counterproductive for two of the things mentioned above; excessive thought creates unnecessary mental complexity and also takes me away from a state of mindfulness. Once I even found myself wanting to google “Why do people write so much about Zen when its practice is basically not thinking and doing nothing?” I found this to be very funny because when I had that thought, I realized that I have read hundreds of books about Zen/Buddhism/mindfulness instead of spending those thousands of hours just meditating. My understanding of these things would probably be better if I had spent all that time sitting and staring at a wall instead of reading all those books.
I saw a quote somewhere recently and wrote it down in my notebook (but I can’t remember where it’s from):
Gaining is delusion. Loss is realization.
I think this quote is simple and reasonable – putting more things into our minds increases our confusion (due to added complexity/distraction), removing things from our minds increases our understanding (due to reduced complexity/distraction). I have also been encountering similar themes in my exploration of gnosticism and non-mainstream Christianity. If anyone is not familiar with Buddhism or Gnosticism, the above quote is based on the idea that ‘enlightenment’ or ‘the kingdom of heaven’ is attained when a person has moved beyond duality, thought, reasoning, etc. Anyway, this same kind of ‘less-is-more’ idea applies in many contexts: simplicity and restriction lead to greater creativity, too many choices makes it hard to decide on anything, too many possessions can cause both mental and physical burdens, too much consumption takes time away from creation, etc.
Now let’s get back to my dilemma. I have these goals, and I’m aware that basically all of things I want to accomplish will require me to disconnect from the internet a bit, consume less, stop checking social media, stop googling every question that crosses my mind, and just focus on doing what I need to do. In other words, I need to stop getting distracted by bullshit and just do the things that I actually already want to do. It’s like what I wrote about in Product vs Process; there is no way to gain any skill without practicing, no matter how much time we spend obsessively reading about it. The only thing holding me back is me letting myself stay distracted by passive consumption. It’s easy to get addicted to the endless information and distraction available online, and hard to get away from it. Will update later if I ever make any progress!
I will probably write a post about consumption vs production, active vs passive consumption/production, critical consumption, or something like that later.
As always, feel free to contact me if you have something to say!