And so once again to cognitive dissonance – this intriguing talent above all human talents – this innate ability to deploy selective awareness (blinkers) to screen out the reality of universal transience and all the pain that brings to those who cling, simply in order to carry on having as good a time as can be moment by moment because that's all we any of us have here – a few brief moments to have a good time, before we're off back into the mystery in a relative blink of an eye.
And we know it, but we don't show it.
Even (and especially to ourselves).
We come, we go like flowers in the garden enjoying their season in the sun, and despite the fact a hundred summers when they're done will seem as short as a single one, we manage to skilfully delude ourselves it goes on forever like this. It's how we're able to take the details of life seriously enough to participate in the game.
Were we not deploying selective awareness and were more keenly aware of our own transience an overwhelming sense of futility might tend us to possibly not be bothered enough about any of it to make enough effort even to breathe let alone get out of bed.
That is a valid description of one important aspect of what's conventionally, crudely framed as depression, incidentally.
So we don't think about it. We distract ourselves from it by immersing ourselves in the relatively superficial frivolity/frivolous superficiality of daily life on Earth, with all its complex convoluted layers of artifice and pretension, as if it has some sort of ultimate significance. Which ultimately, none of it does of course. An important international football match and the staggering levels of investment of energy, time, money and emotion involved is a good example of this.
The Taoist way incidentally, is to simultaneously be awake on at least two levels – awake to our own transience, to the transience of everyone and everything, and awake to the details of the game, always with an eye to mastering your moves and thereby optimizing conditions.
Aware of your own transience you stop being blazé about life and start appreciating every moment you have, you start appreciating the precious value of those you love, and indeed of everything, for all of it is Tao in disguise. And you start loving it more, caressing it with your energy as you go along. And because you're more alive you have more cosmic intelligence running through you.
Remaining aware of this while simultaneously applying yourself with aplomb to the ten thousand things is the master's way. It requires merely an agreement with yourself to engender the state and remembering to practice it as a meditation device for brief moments but often throughout day and night, particularly when beset by an attack of mental and/or emotional flux and flurry.
The mechanics of it are:
1 deploy your thinking mind momentarily to think about what you're experiencing in your body, instead of thinking about all its usual nonsense.
2 notice your muscles – soften and relax them all.
3 notice your posture – uncrumple yourself – put more length into spine and breadth across your shoulders.
4 notice the weight of your head and upper body – stop fighting gravity and ;et the weight sink into your hips.
5 notice you have a front and rear section – forwards and backwards of the earholes respectively. The front is where the whole experience of mundane life is fielded. The back is the realm of the original pre-societal-conditioning limitless self – the realm of the subconscious (where all the real action goes on)..
6 elect to identify with that because it's infinitely knowing instead of identifying as usual with the one referenced to the ten thousand things who sits in the front.
7 notice seen from back here the reality of your inevitable coming and going elicits no surprise or even sadness because back here you're looking through the eyes of the eternal and the eternal fully appreciates how nothing lasts and nothing about any of it is personal.
8 reinforce your intention that despite all worldly activity amounting to little more in import than an important international football match, you will nonetheless remain overjoyed to apply yourself with the fullness of you brought to bear to each and every moment henceforth, and do so with love and awareness for and of those around you, and consequently enjoying wonderful success in every aspect of your life even though you'll not be carrying any of it with you to the other side when you leave.
Once you've got the steps it takes but a second or two. And it will change your life forever (within anywhere between 3 weeks and 3 years depending on how well you apply yourself to it).
There is no more important technique in the universe incidentally, so read the steps again twice more if you fancy something good to happen.
My own cognitive dissonance, meanwhile, remains a constant source of amusement for me, for there I was in my studio this week, in just short of 50 degree Spanish heat with the fan on, blowing a beautiful breeze on my back as I stood slaving over a hot microphone working on the vocals on Volume 2 of AMPED, and for the very first time in my life it occurred to me to wonder how come if you blow hot air through a fan it feels cold – why when moving hot air fast doesn't it feel hot instead?
I googled it and as I'm sure you know it's to do with the faster moving air evaporating your sweat faster and creating the illusion of cold, while all the while you're actually slightly warming the room even more for using an energy-intensive appliance.
It struck me as utterly bizarre that I'd never once previously in my whole life ever stopped to wonder why a fan blowing hot air makes it feel like cold air. Discussing it with various people, it turns out I'm not alone in that, and that most people have never wondered about it either.
And that's cognitive dissonance for you.
On the other hand, and why I'm amused not bemused, is how when for whatever reason dissonance changes into resonance, it's such ineffable joy to feel the gleeful curiosity of a child learning about the world.
And now all the remains to say – well if I had time and you did, there’s a whole universe of things still to say, but for now, open yourself to a large bundle of beautiful surprises I just asked/told the Tao to send your way