Monday, 31 January 2011


The worst thing about being human.  loneliness. Aloneness.  Knowing that whatever you experience is only that.  YOUR experience.  Do we ever share anything?  Do we?  Everything that's  seen, felt, touched, heard, tasted is always a unique experience and totally contained  as a point of view.   We try to share, but it's a subjective experience.  How shit is this. That we can never touch another.  And that's the essential yearning of living.  To connect, touch and share.  And we never can.

Until we're not.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Gonna have to face it, you're addicted to...

Do you smoke?  Want to give up?

It's not just about the addiction to nicotine though is it? The need to feed the craving becomes central to your life.

How many fags have I got left in the packet?  Will they get me through the rest of the day?  Shall I get some now?  Do I have enough money on me - should I just get 10 or 20?  Where's my lighter? Do I have enough matches?  What if I run out at 11.00 this evening, will I want another and what about tomorrow morning? I've only got a fiver on me and we need milk, bread and I need some ciggies; can I do without the milk or bread?  When can I have my next one?

And so the addiction to fags becomes central to your life - everything revolves around it.  It snakes into everything that happens.

Sometimes when you're absorbed in doing something, you forget.  But then that itch emerges and you're reminded that there's something that you need.  Something that needs attention.  Needs attending to.

Perhaps, smoking ain't your bag.  Perhaps it's shopping or sex or booze or drugs or gossiping or working hard.... there's an inexhaustible list.  Pick your poison - perhaps you've been through them all,

But each of us is addicted to something - the central one:  Me.

It pervades the experience of living.  Defines it.  Shapes and colours it.

Am I Ok?  Do they like me? Am I good/bad? Am I worthy?  What is my purpose? What shall I do? Am I doing it right? Am I good-looking/sexy/clever/rich enough?.....

At some point, some people give up smoking... and at some point, some people give up the belief in being a 'me'.  The belief that there's a 'me' that is in control.

And what a relief.  Life no longer revolves around the addiction.  It's gone.  And it's obvious that if you can do without the addiction now, it was never necessary in the first place - it was just a phase, compelling at the time  but not real.  Because if it was,  it could never have stopped.

The interesting thing about no longer being addicted is that it's not just that the addiction is not there, but that it no longer seems to control living. And even more interestingly, there's no control over whether it continues or not.

Have a look at that.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Are you Listening?

It's a difficult thing to do.  Listen.  REALLY listen.  The therapy community call it active listening,  I believe.  And it is - active, that is.  Looking at it, there are 3 requirements as part of the process to true listening.

1st:  You have to get yourself completely out of the picture.  Completely.  And part of that is being able to notice the thoughts that come up. To be able to see those too, see the judgements and the prejudices.  Recognise that they're there and then swerve right round them.  This means actively listening to what comes up in your head too.

2nd: Focus.  You have to completely hone in on what is being said.  On WHAT is being said.  Not on what you think they're saying, or what you would like them to say, or what they should be saying.  But what is actually being said.

3rd:  Evaluation.  Only when you're out of the frame and you are really hearing what's being said can real evaluation and response come up.

It sounds like a contradiction to say that you have to get out of the way AND focus AND evaluate - but that's exactly what happens.  The process isn't effective unless all  three are going on.

If you focus, but you're still doing it through your personal lens, you won't hear what's being said.  You'll hear what you want to hear.  You'll colour it with your own experience, prejudices and conditioning.

If you get yourself out of the way, but don't focus, you're just listening to an entertaining babble.

If you get out of the picture and focus, but don't evaluate, you get caught up in the emotion  and the drama of what they're saying.  Although the contradiction is that sometimes, it's necessary to get caught up in their story - it's a part of the focussing, really understanding and feeling what they're saying - what their experience is.  But then you have to pull back and  see what the mechanism is.  What's the story that's being told.  What is it REALLY.  Is it true? What is the drama being spun?  It's only when you can see it for what it is that you can say that the listening is effective.  Because then out of that comes whatever is necessary to get them to hear what's going on too.  And that's the purpose.  There's no point in letting someone ramble on and on.  It's pointless to just 'be there for them'.  It does no good.  In fact it does a lot of harm.  It just digs the groove deeper and deeper.  The purpose is to point them in the direction of hearing what it is they are saying.  And that's different in each case.

Ultimately, what is necessary is for them to see that what they're saying IS a story.  For instance, if the story is coming out of a reaction to physical situations, e.g. if someone is getting the crap beaten out them every night and being told they're a worthless piece of shit, then the story may run along the lines of:  "I'm trapped, I've got no choice, I'm not worth it."   The purpose here is to see if they can look at the story from a different angle.  Because the best result (physically) is for them to get out of that situation.  Just telling them to get out won't have any result, they'll just keep repeating the same 'I'm trapped' line.  So you have to see it through their eyes.  Exactly why they are saying that they're trapped, have no choice and aren't worth anything.  And to do that you have to really listen to everything they're telling you - you need some detail. Then you pull back and look at how you can prod and lead them into looking at why their story isn't true.  At the alternative.  And there is always one.

The absolute purpose of real listening is to steer someone into  seeing WHAT THEY ARE SAYING, why they're saying it and to realise the actual truth of the situation.  To see through the story that's being concocted - that's just been whipped up out of the circumstances, conditioning and upbringing.  To see that mechanism and hear the penny drop.  For them to realise that it is a story - it's not the truth.

It's not easy to do though, mostly because there's an extremely strong investment in stories continuing.  There is drama and intense emotion (the stuff of life) and it all spins out from the 'me'.  All that drama and intensity keeps 'me' right bang slap in the middle. and the stories whip up and constantly point back to 'me'.  Frustratingly, though sometimes they'll see that it's a story, there'll be a 'stop'............. and then they'll dive straight back in to another story but with even more intensity.  Damn. Because it's really uncomfortable for someone to see that when you take away their story and their drama, there's nothing left.  There's a lot of people who will continue in deeply abusive and physically painful situations because it feels more comfortable than giving up the fabrication.  If they see that what they are is the story, then there's nothing left.  And that freedom can seem very frightening and so the mechanism turns back and perpetuates itself with even more force and drama.

What makes someone 'stop' and accept the story as just that?  No idea.  The movement of life.  Perhaps the story becomes boring - it's been repeated so often that the intensity dulls and there's a willingness there to look at it and drop it.  It just wears itself out.  Often though, what will happen is that the story gets dropped....  and then another one is taken up again straight away.  Double damn. So the beaten victim becomes the fleeing victim then the 'recoverer', then the 'survivor', then the 'advocate' - the story just takes another character in a different fantasy.

It can be a very tough nut to crack - someone's story.  And they've got to want it more than they need the story.

Saturday, 22 January 2011

We are such stuff...

I 'got' the 'life is a dream' analogy this morning.

Some people remember their dreams, others say they don't dream at all: I dream vividly several times a night, and wake up during the night or in the morning out of whatever dream I'm having.  This morning was no exception.   I used to think that 'life is a dream' meant that it is fleeting, ephemeral and wispy - and to be honest, it doesn't feel that way (it may well be when you get right down to the crux of it), but to me it feels solid, definite and here. But this morning,  I understood that life is like a dream because there's no-one doing a dream just like there's no-one doing waking life  (and the dream is just part of that life).

A dream contains vivid experiences, drama, action, feelings - just like in waking life.  But even though we say 'I dreamt', we don't purposely orchestrate or direct the dream.  There is just a dream.  We say 'it's in my mind or my brain' - but that's just a concept. When there is dreaming, there is just the dream.  It may be  fantastic or vivid or dramatic or peaceful or happy or terrifying. You could say that it's created by the mind or the brain - that it's produced by electrical impulses in the brain, but that brain process is not being done, controlled, created or decided by anyone.

Some people say they can dream lucidly; that they are aware that they're in a dream and  can decide what to do in the dream.  Ludicrous!  Because the character they are in the dream is a DREAM character - it's part of the dream.  They're not ACTUALLY in the dream - there is just the dream and contained within the dream is a dream person thinking and feeling and saying 'I know I'm in a dream and I'm going to decide what's going to happen next'. But that is just the dream!  That's the story, the form that the dream is taking.

And when a person wakes in the morning and says 'I had a lucid dream.  I decided what to do in the dream' - it's just more of the dream.  It's just labelled 'waking life'.  There's no more  a someone or something in control of the waking life,  than there is in the dreaming life.

You can no more decide what you are going to dream during the  night than you can decide what you are going to do when you get up in the morning.  The person that wakes in the morning is just being 'done' - like the dream, it just happens.

Monday, 17 January 2011

Reality - quarks or dance?

Watching a programme called: Horizon - Reality.

I had previously found this programme interesting and (eeeeurgh) thought-provoking.

However, tonight, the first 'say what?!' came in the form of:

There are 6 quarks, and 6 'otherthings(can't remember the name)' ... but are there?

There could be 43 oojamaflips and 9 whatjamacallits and a host of 'dooobrees'.  But would it make any difference?  CAN you find reality by looking for it?

Jaysus - these guys have spent billions (count them)  BILLIONS!  on a "Teletron" ( I get a picture of Dr. Evil in Austin Powers here) which is blasting and banging particles together, like billions and trillions of times, in order to find some hypothetical 't' particle.  They think it may exist, they think they've found it... but .. oh shit.. maybe not.

To find reality you don't have to do anything.  Do you?

It's just here.

Can it be described?

And then some Prof Quantum Physicist bod just said: 'Mathematics becomes the only explanation of reality.'

And to that the narrator said: "The ultimate definition of reality is staring us in the face."

A lot more supposition  follows with regard to Black Holes,  and how once you've been sucked into a black hole nothing can get out....

So ..... how do they know?  How do they know that nothing comes out... if nothing comes out!

(and I'm reminded of that British Railways Station joke "Please don't stand too near to the edge of the platform or you may get sucked off"! Quantum Physicist version: "Please don't get too near to a blackhole or you may get sucked in"... hmmm.. it's not so funny, is it?)

Fuxake.  Come on... these blokes  control budgets of billions just to find out what is already staring them in the face.  Give that narrator a fucking Nobel Physics Prize.  And use the billions you save to solve world hunger... or something a bit more bloody useful.

And the play out song to this programme is: "Is that all there is?  Is that all there is,  my friend?  If that's all there is, then let's keep dancing."


Sunday, 16 January 2011

I Know!

I spend a lot of time shouting at the T.V. when I'm watching it.

Drives the kids and husband mad, I'm suspecting.

But something kind of hit me today (there's a song title in there, M'sieur Bowie!).

And it's this:

Advertisements are like thoughts.

As a container for information, there they are: that 1 minute slot blaring out its message.

And (now this is from a complete vivality point of view, you understand) 99.9% (scientifically proven, just like the bleach ads) of the information in these adverts is complete... bollocks.

So, there's a 60 second slot and it says for instance:  Buy this yoghurt; be vital and alive with shining eyes and glossy hair and a flat stomach and you will find love everlasting with the man/woman of your dreams and live in a dream house and have fabulous children... and yada, yada, yada.  They paint a picture that has no basis in reality.  How often have you seen an advert that said something like 'buy this washing powder, it'll get  most of your clothes clean, hopefully.'?


They both deal in the non-existent, the happy-ever-after. (or the 'Oh, my God, what if!')

Thoughts are advertisers of  'WHAT'SNOTHAPPENING' (to borrow from Paul Hedderman).

They sell you a crock of shit, that's not happening now, has never happened, and will never happen.

And they get paid for it.  Not in money, like the advertisers - but in attention and energy.


Most of the programmes on TV are fictional (unless they're documentaries or news stories, and even that's debatable!).  But adverts tend to have this air of 'listen to me, I''m telling the truth' about them.  As though they're 'fact'.

Just like thoughts.  There's a tendency to believe that what thoughts are saying is what is actually true.  Only when you stop and turn your attention to examining the content of the thoughts rather than getting engrossed in what they're saying, do they become laughable... just like the adverts on T.V.  Turning your attention to how untrue the content of thoughts  is, is like shouting at the adverts on T.V.  for being ridiculous.

And I'm not stopping - cos it's fun!  How about you?

The Games We Play

I have two sons (well, I don't 'have' them ... sometimes it seems like they 'have' me!) who like to play  Call of Duty on the XBox.

You may or may not be familiar with this game, (it's like all games really), but  in this one they pretend to be a character within the game that is being run by the xbox machine and played out on a tv screen. Furthermore the players interact, via a headset,  with other players who are also pretending to be other characters, but can be in different rooms anywhere in the world, providing they're hooked up to the interweb.

So,  at this very moment one of  my sons is playing COD and he's moving his character around murdering and pillaging willy nilly (and the morality of that don't even bear going into ;0).) AT the same time, he's 'talking' to a friend of his who is sitting in his bedroom down the road from us (but he could be on the other side of the world) moving his character around (apparently he's trying to 'nick' my son's sniper!).  This particular son gets very involved when he's playing this game ("What the hell, you just shot him clean in the face!" he says delightedly *shudder*).  He can get so involved, that he'll be shouting at the other characters, both the  screen characters, and the players who he's talking to over the headset, and it's clear that he's having a lot of fun.

Why do we love to play games? From Monopoly, to Poker, to Twister, to Dungeons and Dragons, to girls dressing up as Princesses and big girls dressing up as ... well, whatever pushes their buttons, to COD, to politics etcetera, etcetera...

I find this question fascinating for several reasons.

The vivality point of view sees it this way:

We think that the game-playing is an escape from reality.  In some way we are trying to shore up the belief that there is a 'me' who actually exists as an autonomous, controlling entity. i.e "This game I'm playing on the xbox isn't real, I can switch it off and walk away."  So by comparison, there's an assumption that the game we are playing of being a 'me' that CAN decide to switch off the xbox and walk away IS real, and THAT belief has to be very persuasive in order for it to be so convincing.  In playing a game, we are using it as a contrast to emphasis what is believed to be the truth ..... when in fact what it does is parodies it!  It points to the truth that just as in the game on the screen of a character being moved around and played, so the person that seems to be doing the playing is no different to the online character/fantasy.

Furthermore,  games make the players feel like they have some sense of control, of power.  And also that they can,  at any moment,  relinquish that control and power - just walk away - and it is that freedom that is part of the enjoyment.  Do we play games because we know deep down that we have no control, no power?  And if that's seen, well then ....... that's freedom?

And if we pull back and  look at living from the point of view of being a character that's being lived, then there is only the playing.  And the freedom comes from not even HAVING to choose whether to walk away or continue to play, because that decision can never be made by me/you, because there's  nothing that makes that decision.

Finally:  There's something particularly juicy and engrossing  about the game of annihilation.  All games, at the  ultimate level,  are about winning;  vanquishing the other players.  But  games like COD (and Angry Birds, which is my game of choice)  are specifically about trying to seek and destroy.   We play at annihilation - because to face the fact that life IS annihilation is too raw.

(And my son's just said "Oh, I'm quitting the game.  Because you keep killing me").  Ah, the irony of metaphor.    I'll leave that one hanging ......

Ultimately, though,  it's all just in the playing - even if some bastard down the road is nicking your sniper!

(Then again, I could be talking a load of auld vivality bollocks, and there's just a young kid sitting in his bedroom, pretending to blast the living daylights out of his friend... wink, wink)

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Reality Impact

Yesterday I knocked someone over whilst driving my car - (as opposed to using a baseball bat or a battering ram!)

Miraculously, she was fine.  Or as far as I know, she may have got home last night and died of delayed shock, but since I've had no call from the police, I'm guessing that all she's doing is rubbing arnica on some bruises.

Aside from the fact that the actual event itself was dramatic, unexpected and totally random, it led to several insights into reality from my point of view: Vivality.

So this is what happened:

Sitting in the left hand lane at a crossroads, waiting for the traffic light to turn green so that I can drive over the junction.  A car is next to me on my right, but several feet in front, waiting to turn right.  The traffic light turns amber and then green. There's the sound of a car horn, and I pull away from the lights. Then, BHAM!, out of nowhere somebody hits the right side of the car bonnet, flips right over the front of the bonnet and ricochets off the left front side landing on its back in front of my car.  Whilst the body is boogying with the bonnet, I slam on the brakes and think  'I've killed her', a feeling of physical alarm (nerves firing) a profound sense of horror and shouting 'Fuck, No!'

All this happened in the space of probably 3-4 seconds.

I pull on the hand brake and unbuckle my seat belt, and the woman starts to move and get up.  I think:  'No, don't move', and then realise that she isn't dead.  But then fear that even though she's moving doesn't mean that she isn't seriously injured or about to die.  I get out of the car and move towards her.  She looks confused and distressed and I ask her if she is o.k.  She replies ' yes' and apologises, looking straight into my eyes, and continues by saying 'It was my fault'.  I reply something along the lines of 'Don't worry, I'm so sorry, are you sure you're ok?'.  Then a couple of other people join us, one leads her on to the pavement and a man says to me 'do you want to pull your car over'.  I get in turn left, park and put on the hazard lights.  I get out again and go over to her.  A man is talking into his mobile phone, I'm not aware of what he's saying.  I ask if she's ok, again.  She says yes and a lady with her tells me that she's her next door neighbour and she'll take her into the coffee shop we're standing outside and tells me not to worry, she seems fine but she needs to get in somewhere warm.  They go into the coffee shop and not knowing what else to do, I get back into my car and just sit there.  A woman gets out of the car parked in front of me and walks up to my car door and asks if I'm o.k.  At which point I start shaking and crying - gone into reactive shock.  The woman advises me to wait until I'm calm before driving away.  She leaves and then a man approaches my car, asking 'is she alright? She just stepped out in front of me.'  I realise it's the driver of the car who had been on my right at the traffic lights and that it must have been him sounding his horn as the woman stepped out in front of him. As I drive a low, 2 seater, his car would have concealed that there was someone crossing in front of him, which is why I didn't see her.  I tell him she was fine and he leaves.  After a minute or so, I drive to my original destination.

Then starts the interesting bit (and I'll explain why the 'accident' wasn't interesting in a while, so bear with me): The thoughts start.

They come thick and fast for the next 10 minutes:

'oh my god, I can't believe that happened' 'thank fuck she was alright' 'what if she hadn't been alright' 'imagine if i'd killed her' i could go to prison, i couldn't live with having killed someone' 'it was her fault' 'i didn't do anything wrong' 'did i do anything wrong' 'did i pull away too quickly' 'should i have stayed and made sure she was alright' 'is that ambulance there been called to see her' 'how can i just carry on driving'.  And some imagining of me telling people about it, and their reaction - all in the form of thought images.

And on and on and frickin' on.

And meanwhile the driving to the destination is happening completely on automatic.

(Just to say that I did phone the police when I reached my destination and they confirmed that an ambulance had been called and had checked her out and she WAS fine.)

Then the day continues on it's way.

So .....  that's what happened in Vivality.

In REALITY, what happened is this:

Woman standing at traffic lights, legs start walking and woman crosses in front of car.  Car horn sounds, woman carries on walking.  Another car accelerates and moves forward.  Woman walks into car as it's moving forward and momentum carries the body over the bonnet of the car and onto the road ahead, whilst body in the car applies brakes of car.  Car stops.  Woman in road moves and stands up, woman in car gets out and walks towards other woman, there is talking, and walking to pavement.

That's all that actually happened.  And that's why it's not interesting.  It's just what happened.

And as part of that happening there were thoughts,  which conceptualise the actual continuous happening and chunk it into AN EVENT.

And not just an event, but an event that happened to 'me' and to 'her'.

'Me' and 'her' also a part of the continous flow - tagged by thought only.

Thoughts that added speculation, drama, causality.

Vivality speculation:  'oh my god, I've killed her'
Reality: She wasn't dead.

Vivality speculation: 'What if I'd killed her?'.
Reality: She wasn't dead.

Vivality drama: 'If' I'd killed her, I might go to prison, I couldn't live with it'.
Reality: She wasn't dead, I wasn't going to prison, I was living with it.

Vivality causality: 'It was her fault'
Reality: She no more decided to walk in front of a moving car than I decided to knock someone over.

And whilst those thoughts were part of the continuous happening they did not in any way describe the reality of that stream of action.

The action happened entirely spontaneously, in a continous flow.  There was no cause.  There was no effect.

In fact, nothing happened at all.  There was no static event - but the thoughts tagged and described it, somehow setting it down as a permanent picture, like a mini-film; complete with sound effects, commentary, dramatisation - a little soap-opera.  A complete figment of thought.

And even though the thoughts didn't describe the reality, they were (and are right at this moment) no more than an uncaused flow of continous reality.

The CONTENT of thoughts is Vivality (or Johnality or Sueality - insert appropriate name).

THAT they are is reality.