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But are you happier? You do all kinds of life things—you buy groceries, read articles, get haircuts, chew things, take out the trash, buy a car, brush your teeth, shit, sneeze, shave, stretch, get drunk, put salt on things, have sex with someone, charge your laptop, jog, empty the dishwasher, walk the dog, buy a couch, close the curtains, button your shirt, wash your hands, zip your bag, set your alarm, fix your hair, order lunch, act friendly to someone, watch a movie, drink apple juice, and put a new paper towel roll on the thing.

But as you do these things day after day and year after year, are you improving as a human in a meaningful way? In the last post , I described the way my own path had led me to be an atheist—but how in my satisfaction with being proudly nonreligious, I never gave serious thought to an active approach to internal improvement—hindering my own evolution in the process. The major institutions in the spiritual arena—religions—tend to focus on divinity over people, making salvation the end goal instead of self-improvement.

The industries that do often focus on the human condition—philosophy, psychology, art, literature, self-help, etc. All of this sets up a world that makes it hard to treat internal growth as anything other than a hobby, an extra-curricular, icing on the life cake. In the same way a growing business relies on a clear mission with a well thought-out strategy and measurable metrics, a growing human needs a plan —if we want to meaningfully improve, we need to define a goal, understand how to get there, become aware of obstacles in the way, and have a strategy to get past them.

When I dove into this topic, I thought about my own situation and whether I was improving. Just kind of haphazard attempts at self-improvement in one area or another, whenever I happened to feel like it. How Do We Get to the Goal? By being aware of the truth. Easy, right? Truth is in plain sight, written on the whiteboard—we just have to look at the board and reflect upon it. I like to think of it as a consciousness staircase:. An ant is more conscious than a bacterium, a chicken more than an ant, a monkey more than a chicken, and a human more than a monkey.

A Definitely something, and B Nothing we can understand better than a monkey can understand our world and how we think.

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Our most brilliant scientist would be outmatched by one of their toddlers. To the green alien up there higher on the staircase, the red alien might seem as intelligent and conscious as a chicken seems to us. And when the green alien looks at us , it sees the simplest little pre-programmed ants. What about us would impress him? What would make him cringe? On one hand, all of those steps on the staircase below the human are where we grew from.

Hundreds of millions of years of evolutionary adaptations geared toward animal survival in a rough world are very much rooted in our DNA, and the primitive impulses in us have birthed a bunch of low-grade qualities—fear, pettiness, jealousy, greed, instant-gratification, etc. Those qualities are the remnants of our animal past and still a prominent part of our brains, creating a zoo of small-minded emotions and motivations in our heads:.

But over the past six million years, our evolutionary line has experienced a rapid growth in consciousness and the incredible ability to reason in a way no other species on Earth can. The Higher Being is brilliant, big-thinking, and totally rational. And things were about to get much worse. Human evolution continued to make the Higher Being more and more sentient, until one day, he realized something shocking:.

It marked the first time any species on planet Earth was conscious enough to understand that fact, and it threw all of those animals in the brain—who were not built to handle that kind of information—into a complete frenzy, sending the whole ecosystem into chaos:. The animals had never experienced this kind of fear before, and their freakout about this—one that continues today—was the last thing the Higher Being needed as he was trying to grow and learn and make decisions for us.

The adrenaline-charged animals romping around our brain can take over our mind, clouding our thoughts, judgment, sense of self, and understanding of the world. The Higher Being can see the truth just fine in almost any situation. But when the fog is thick around us, blocking our eyes and ears and coating our brain, we have no access to the Higher Being or his insight. And when the alien representative is finished observing us and heads back to his home planet, I think this would be his sum-up of our problems:. The battle of the Higher Being against the animals—of trying to see through the fog to clarity—is the core internal human struggle.

This struggle in our heads takes place on many fronts. Those are all part of the same core conflict between our primal past and our enlightened future. Being aware that the fog exists and learning how to recognize it is the key first step to rising up in consciousness and becoming a wiser person. No matter how hard we tried, it would be impossible for humans to access that light green step one above us on the consciousness staircase.

Maybe in a million years or two. We need to focus on the mini spectrum of consciousness within our step, which we can do by breaking our step down into four substeps:. We just have to understand the game and work hard to get good at it. On Step 1, the fog is all up in our shit, thick and close and clogging our senses, leaving us going through life unconscious.

Down here, the thoughts, values, and priorities of the Higher Being are completely lost in the blinding fog and the deafening roaring, tweeting, honking, howling, and squawking of the animals in our heads. This makes us 1 small-minded, 2 short-sighted, and 3 stupid. This is what makes us petty and jealous and what makes us so thoroughly enjoy the misfortune of others. You can find most of these same emotions in a clan of capuchin monkeys—and that makes sense, because at their core, these emotions can be boiled down to the two keys of animal survival: self-preservation and the need to reproduce.

Why else would people brag so much , even though if they could see the big picture, it would be obvious that everyone finds out about the good things in your life eventually either way—and that you always serve yourself way more by being modest? If not for thick fog, why would anyone ever pinch pennies over a restaurant bill or keep an unpleasantly-rigid scorecard of who paid for what on a trip, when everyone reading this could right now give each of their friends a quick and accurate rating on the cheap-to-generous or selfish-to-considerate scale, and the few hundred bucks you save over time by being on the cheap end of the scale is hardly worth it considering how much more likable and respectable it is to be generous?

What other explanation is there for the utterly inexplicable decision by so many famous men in positions of power to bring down the career and marriage they spent their lives building by having an affair? And why would anyone bend and loosen their integrity for tiny insignificant gains when integrity affects your long-term self-esteem and tiny insignificant gains affect nothing in the long term? One way this stupidity shows up is in us making the same obvious mistakes over and over and over again.

You go back to the nutritionist, who gives you the same advice, so you try it again and the same thing happens. That would probably be it right? The fog is also much more harmful than the nutritionist because not only does it give us terrible advice— but the fog itself is the source of unhappiness. The only real solution to exhaustion is to sleep , and the only real way to improve happiness in a lasting way is to make progress in the battle against the fog.

And on Step 1, this is completely true of course, given that trying to become permanently happier while in the fog is like trying to dry your body off while standing under the shower with the water running. But I refuse to believe the same species that builds skyscrapers, writes symphonies, flies to the moon, and understands what a Higgs boson is is incapable of getting off the treadmill and actually improving in a meaningful way. I think the way to do it is by learning to climb this consciousness staircase to spend more of our time on Steps 2, 3, and 4, and less of it mired unconsciously in the fog.

Step 2: Thinning the Fog to Reveal Context. Humans can do something amazing that no other creature on Earth can do—they can imagine. If you show an animal a tree, they see a tree. On the other hand, the animals in your head, like their real world relatives, can only see a tree, and when they see one, they react instantly to it based on their primitive needs.

Step 2 is about bringing context into your awareness, which reveals a far deeper and more nuanced version of the truth. This is what a journal can help with, or therapy, which is basically examining your own brain with the help of a fog expert. But the easiest and most effective way to thin out the fog is simply to be aware of it. The way to move onto Step 2 is by remembering to stay aware of the context behind and around what you see, what you come across, and the decisions you make. Some examples—. When the small-minded animal emotions are less in our face, the more advanced emotions of the Higher Being—love, compassion, humility, empathy, etc.

Step 3 is when things start to get weird. Thinking about this level of reality is like looking at an amazing photo of the Grand Canyon; a Whoa moment is like being at the Grand Canyon—the two experiences are similar but somehow vastly different. Facts can be fascinating, but only in a Whoa moment does your brain actually wrap itself around true reality.

And a Whoa moment is how you get to Step 3. I love Whoa moments. They make me feel some intense combination of awe, elation, sadness, and wonder. More than anything, they make me feel ridiculously, profoundly humble—and that level of humility does weird things to a person. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. This article is about the New Age movement.

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For the astrological age in western astrology, see Age of Aquarius. For other uses, see New Age disambiguation. Often, the definition given actually reflects the background of the scholar giving the definition. Thus, the New Ager views New Age as a revolutionary period of history dictated by the stars; the Christian apologist has often defined new age as a cult; the historian of ideas understands it as a manifestation of the perennial tradition; the philosopher sees New Age as a monistic or holistic worldview; the sociologist describes New Age as a new religious movement NRM ; while the psychologist describes it as a form of narcissism.

All manifestations of this movement are characterized by a popular western culture criticism expressed in terms of a secularized esotericism. A variety of small movements arose, revolving around revealed messages from beings in space and presenting a synthesis of post-Theosophical and other esoteric doctrines. These movements might have remained marginal, had it not been for the explosion of the counterculture in the s and early s. Various historical threads It became perfectly feasible for the same individuals to consult the I Ching, practice Jungian astrology, read Abraham Maslow's writings on peak experiences, etc.

The reason for the ready incorporation of such disparate sources was a similar goal of exploring an individualized and largely non-Christian religiosity. Main articles: Spiritual but not religious and List of New Age topics. The authors of much of this material make claims that, while not necessarily untrue or fraudulent, are difficult or impossible for the reader to verify. A number of other channeled documents address issues more immediately relevant to the human condition. The best of these writings are not only coherent and plausible, but eloquently persuasive and sometimes disarmingly moving.

New Agers are willing to absorb wisdom teachings wherever they can find them, whether from an Indian guru, a renegade Christian priest, an itinerant Buddhist monk, an experiential psychotherapist or a Native American shaman. They are eager to explore their own inner potential with a view to becoming part of a broader process of social transformation. Their journey is towards totality of being.

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By the early twenty-first century See also: List of new-age music artists and List of ambient artists. Writers who have espoused political ideas influenced by New Age perspectives included Mark Satin left and Benjamin Creme right. Indeed, if we were to examine some of the social and political threads that run through the aery fabric of New Age thinking, we would find certain themes that resonate with the necessary conditions for a left version of progressive individualism. Generally speaking, New Age addresses its adherents as active participants, with a measure of control over their everyday lives.

The New Age 'person' is also in many respects an individual whose personal growth is indissociable from the environment; a link fleshed out in a variety of ecotopian stories and romances. So, too, the small-scale imperative of New Age's cooperative communitarianism brings with it a host of potentially critical positions. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press. Woolfolk; Wesley E. Sime, eds. The New Age Music Guide.

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Boston: Brill. Chryssides, George D. In Daren Kemp and James R. Lewis eds. CS1 maint: uses editors parameter link Doyle White, Ethan Drury, Nevill London: Thames and Hudson. Ellwood, Robert Greer, Paul Granholm, Kennet Hammer, Olav Leiden and Boston: Brill. In Wouter Hanegraaff editor eds.

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Dictionary of Gnosis and Western Esotericism. Leiden: Brill. Heelas, Paul Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. Malden and Oxford: Blackwell. Malden: Blackwell. Hess, David J. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. Hexham, Irving Introvigne, Massimo An Interview with Paul Farrely". Bitter Winter. Kelly, Aidan A. Kemp, Daren New Age: A Guide. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Kyle, Richard Journal of Church and State. CS1 maint: extra punctuation link Lewis, James R.

Lewis, James R. Gordon Melton, J. New Age Encyclopedia. MacKian, Sara New York: Palgrave Macmillan. Partridge, Christopher The Re-Enchantment of the West Volume. Pike, Sarah M. New Age and Neopagan Religions in America. New York: Columbia University Press. Ray, Paul H. Riordan, Suzanne Rose, Stuart b. Ross, Andrew London and New York: Verso Books. Rupert, Glenn A. Sutcliffe, Steven J.

London and New York: Routledge. Culture and Religion: An Interdisciplinary Journal. CS1 maint: extra punctuation link Sutcliffe, Steven J.

In Steven J. New Age Spirituality: Rethinking Religion. Durham, UK: Acumen. CS1 maint: uses editors parameter link Urban, Hugh B. Whedon, Sarah W. York, Michael CS1 maint: extra punctuation link. Brown, Michael F. Saliba, John London: Chapman. Kemp, Daren; Lewis, James R. New Age movement. Links to related articles. Modern spirituality.

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