What’s My Real Motivation?

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I feel like i’m a pretty damned good writer, researcher, and thinker, for the most part. All of the impact i hope to make in the world will be through these mediums, other than music and language learning, which i’m pretty good with as well.

So why do i feel so stagnated? I’m traveling the world, i’ve got a decent formal education and a more than decent informal one, i have a pretty solid resume, and philosophically i haven’t felt lost in ages. So right now i should be embracing everything i hope to do in life: Writing essays, music, and studying languages (right now, Arabic) like nobody’s business. Instead, i’m just sitting here, wasting my time. Yes, i’m just getting over a bad illness. And yes, i’m in a rather restrictive country void of vegetation and any readily observable culture beyond the Qur’an (there’s plenty of culture if you go digging in the right places, but it’s harder to find when you’re here than say, China). But these aren’t viable excuses. Where’s my motivation?

Up to this point in my life i have little to show the world of my personal success. If i died, there would be some anecdotal stories of my impacting a few lives, but in terms of creative work, not much. Again, mere anecdotes. But impacting even a single life and having solid proof of it is a beautiful thing, and creating positively and with integrity should be cherished. I should be happy with this? Why am i not content with it?

What do i want? And Why?

I want knowledge and experience so that i can create art, ideas, concepts, books, and so on in order to make a huge difference in the world, because this has always been my obsession. At first it was almost pure ego when i was very young. At the age of 6 as one of our first assignments in 1st grade we had to write what we wanted to do when we grew up. Firefighter? Policeman? Doctor? Scientist? Nope. I wanted to be the ruler of the world. Then as i aged i convinced myself and others that it was about humanity. The desire for world domination became one of benevolence and then faded by the end of middle school. Taking its place was the very modest goal of “rockstar.” Until the age of 15, when i decided i also wanted to be a monk and become enlightened. The desire for monasticism remained in the back of my mind until around 20 or so, and may well come back one day. Obviously enlightenment grew to my chief aim. I realized that conquering the world was nothing compared to conquering the self. Even omnipotence with an untamed mind would be nothing.

But clearly this idea of grandeur and this goal of “greatness” has been ever-present throughout my life. I ask myself: Why? I have convinced myself and others that the motivation is one of compassion for humanity, but i don’t know how much is in fact my ego. A man with an ego that fears death and realizes that true immortality lies only in effective action which is memorable to the world. So the question shouldn’t be “where’s my motivation,” but rather: “what is my motivation?”.

At literally every stage of my life this has been a core motivation along with finding romantic love — which may, no doubt, stem from the very same fear given that procreation is the other assumed route to immortality. I have finally reached a freedom from the desire for love for now — i know i’m not yet the man i want to be for the woman i hope to have. So i think i must approach the world just the same. I’m not ready to create great things or leave indelible marks upon the world. I’m not ready to impact thousands or millions of lives for the better. I’m not yet such a man. So i can only focus on improving myself until such time as i am such a man. Death with integrity is indeed more valuable than an “immortal death” where one’s legacy outlives him.

And speaking of death, recently more urgently pressing on me has been the fear for my own well-being in the soon-to-be future. When i return to the States i will have no money, no guaranteed job anywhere, a bunch of uncertain plans for what to do next, a car that’s out of commission, no credit, and thus no particular means to do anything. But with about all of these things there is little i can do right now, and it’s impacting my vacation and my studies.

So first things first: I need to lose all my fear. All of it. Fear for my well-being in any sense. I will be just fine and i have to know it.

Second, i need to work on developing myself in all the areas that i care about: Body, Mind, Soul (or spiritual mind, rather, since like all Buddhists i don’t believe in the existence of a metaphysical soul outside of consciousness), Languages, Music, and Writing.
Body — i need to work out; my body is very weak, as its been complaining all year.
Mind (Task Positive Network) — study of all the subject areas which interest me as well as particular focus on these three areas of life goals:
Languages — Arabic for now, and beginning next month also Tagalog
Music — Writing and recording songs, but only as i feel i need to
Writing — every day if i can, but for my own development only
Spiritual mind (Default Mode Network) — Meditation, reading religious texts, and improvisation on guitar for mere enjoyment

Third, i need to just travel around, talk to people without fear, enjoy myself, and not concern myself too heavily with “failure” as if i could somehow “fail” at traveling. Without fear that i will die as soon as i return home, this will be much easier.

All in all, if i carry these out long enough i should purify my motivation, until it is transformed into pure bodhicitta.

-J. Ibrahim Abuhamada


Humanity is Never (/Always) at a Crossroads

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I don’t think humans ever reach a collective crossroads, or else they are constantly in the center of one. I think the metaphor’s purpose is to raise the urgent need for change in some form, but the idea it conjures in one’s mind is far from the truth. We exist in perpetual change: Permanent, inexorable change. We can always shape that change consciously, or relegate the direction of change to agentless processes.

There are always forces of entropy and order in a tug-of-war at play in every level of every system. Thus change and interdependence are ultimately indivisible sides of the same aspect of reality. Their unity holds the key in understanding the preciousness and power of a human life. To this aim, the misleading notion of the one, grand “crossroads” is actually fairly effective. But forget the idea of it, and instead embrace the idea it seeks to impart which is that your time as a human being is very precious and deserves to be taken full advantage of in the pursuit of creativity, wisdom, compassion, and connection to the ever-changing sea of systems upon systems which make up our shared reality, and in particular the beings which breathe life and sentience into that interdependent whole.

The Meaning of Communication

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Life is a combination of sensory experience and creative myths and metaphors around the complex and biotic organizations of sensory experiences. Beyond lucid clarity and awareness this is what makes up conscious experience. Every mental object amounts to a myth or metaphor of an aspect of objective, physical existence. Language, at the broadest level, is any attempted representation of a mental object, event, or phenomena–itself being a representation of some aspect of physical existence (thus making language “representation of representation”).

As soon as there is an effort to communicate through art or language (including math), there is the attempt at engaging two or more consciousnesses into an act of temporary union. This union through the sharing of experiences is the root of all forms of communication between organisms, and it is the purest form of connection that we can achieve in this world at this point. Communication, including language and art, is therefore the most basic expression of the human will, for it is the will that drives us away from the suffering of disconnection and towards the contentment of its opposite.

Here is the underlying force which pulls life inexorably onwards. It is why, when a person is drawn into connection with their senses and inanimate objects, it is the highest symptom of an illness of the will or spirit. Whether brought about from the person’s community or the person themself, they have failed to attain the necessary degree of connection with other living things to allow them to thrive in contentment as a living, conscious organism. A will wasted on sensory experience is an ill; the cure is pure connection to other conscious beings through the myth and metaphor of lucid experience.

An Authentic Lens on My Life and Romance

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I’m tired of all the bullshit that society puts into the heads of men and women about what’s attractive. And i’m tired of inauthenticity in people for fear of how they will be viewed by others.

When i think about the subjects that interest me: languages, philosophy, science, religion, spirituality, the arts, music, consciousness, sociology, etc., i’m filled with a burning enthusiasm: The kind of enthusiasm that children get when they’re going to an amusement park or opening presents on their birthday. I’m in awe, constantly in awe, of the growth and development of my own consciousness, as well as the consciousnesses of those around me, and of the world as a whole.

I lose myself in creative endeavors: Nightly in improvisation on guitar, and regularly in the form of designing new methods of study, of thinking, generating new ideas, unlocking the mysteries of “life, the universe, and everything.” And for 21, i’d say i’ve done a pretty decent job so far.

My general nature in life is to try to learn from every single little experience. For me, play is learning; pleasure is learning; dancing is learning; taking an intoxicant (on rare occasion) is learning; love is learning; all of life and existence is knowledge–fuel for the fire of my comprehensive life education. Why is this? Why do i hold the view of the entire universe as a classroom designed solely for my own personal enlightenment? Because it CAN be. Because it should fucking be. Because any moment not spent trying to better myself feels to me like a moment of life, a breath lost, a gift left unopened (or at least unused).

Why am i this way? What do i hope to get out of this? I hope to attain enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. I hope to be the very best i can be, and know the most i can know, so that i can create the most i can create to advance the human species, and to help the most people. This is EVERYTHING. This is all that matters. Yes, it’s fucking intense. But to me, witnessing suffering in others makes it justified. I don’t understand how one can learn of the brutal rape and torture of a little girl somewhere in Asia, or the death by starvation and dehydration of a group of homeless children in Africa, or the sufferers of a natural disaster who watch their family die, or witness racism, sexism, homophobia, and the infinite crippling ignorances of the human race and NOT want to devote themselves to fighting this raging fire of strife and pain that burns in the world as it forever has, however futile it may be to attempt such an impossible task.

So yeah. I can be a tad intense from time to time.

But despite this intensity which largely defines the core of who i am, i enjoy life. I love life. Life is fucking incredible and amazing and awe-inspiring and beautiful and full of wonder. I want nothing more than to dive head first into the endless sea of creativity, information, and beauty of which existence is composed, and to then share that with the world until the suffering is all but gone. And we exist in a time where this is more possible than ever! Even if never fully attainable, i can never imagine doing anything else.

So when i go to a party and have a couple of drinks and dance, when i relax, masturbate, procrastinate my duties, or any other un-productive action, i attempt to extract from that experience every last iota of information and wisdom that i can draw from it. This is what makes me feel alive. It’s what makes me feel awake. And i want nothing more than to wake up and to help others awaken.

This is because when you awaken, you awaken to all the beauty, bliss, peace, wisdom, and love that is possible for our miniscule, limited spheres of consciousness to manifest and comprehend. When you awaken, you are truly happy and on the right course to spread your happiness and creativity to others.

I have long had a struggle in life with romance. My life has been a balancing act between this awesome, spiritual, wise, creative, beautiful world, and this area of life which seems “other” and separate somehow. Romance has taught me more perhaps than any other thing in my life, and i have extracted from the experience of it knowledge which, if i lived in an earlier period of human history, i might have called divine. But it remains a sort of vague mystery to me. It remains a kind of black hole of confusion, self-doubt, uncertainty, anxiety, anger, and my own suffering. Invariably, when i have engaged in some sort of romantic involvement i feel unable to devote the energy i wish to devote to my task of growth for the sake of the world. But without the romance i have invariably been inspired (sometimes by the prospect or the disappointment of the romance itself) to multiply my efforts and my energies in creativity, wisdom, knowledge, and compassion every day.

It makes me feel lonely–a strange kind of lonely–because it’s not a social loneliness; I caution to even call it emotional. This loneliness feels strangely biological. And with said loneliness, on top of the weight of my chosen life task, i am a fairly tense person. This tension means i don’t like to waste time with bullshit. The tension makes me nervous and self-conscious around just about any woman around my age. The tension is contributing to my genetic predisposition to balding, which at this point is irreversible, save expensive treatments. The rest of my senses appear to be gradually weakening as well, (which i am trying to fight through exercise to increase my strength) and i can’t imagine the tension is helping this at all. I don’t usually notice the tenseness because i usually feel emotionally pretty relaxed. But through taking an intoxicant or engaging in a profound spiritual practice or event, i feel the difference in relaxation profoundly.

And unfortunately for me, loneliness, tension, not putting up with bullshit, balding, nervousness and lack of confidence in social skills with the opposite sex, and an intense view and goals in life make one generally romantically unappealing. But is this a curse, or a gift? Is this a major life lesson? Probably, but what is the lesson meant to teach? Possibly nothing in particular–it might just be up to me to derive what meaning from it i so choose. But what meaning is the ideal one for my growth? I don’t know. Romance has felt strangely alien to me throughout my life, as has material/sensory pleasures. Am i fighting for something not meant for me?

My questions will be answered soon. Many are in the process of being answered (or i already know the answers, but have to ask the question again anyway in the hopes of finding a different answer). I hope i can meet a woman one day who embodies similar life goals and interests. I hope i can meet a woman who is day in and day out filled with a child-like energy and happiness at scholarly subjects and creative works like me. A woman who can inspire me and be inspired by me. A woman who accepts me, who i can accept likewise. A woman who isn’t so bothered by my intensity, and who instead meets it with the kind of calm i need to truly relax. I hope such a woman exists. But what i really hope is that whatever i need to grow the most and help the world the most is what will unfold for me, even if that means being lonely.

For now, i will just be lonely. But rest assured i will fucking learn from it.