Soul-less

I am reading brain books; neuroscience. The one I\’m reading now, \”Brain-Wise\” does the best job of explaining how an awareness can come into being out of neuronal activities. I am just starting the part about how life itself can come into being from cells without any divine intervention. That is, being alive can start from dead materials of construction. I haven\’t read the details yet.

But I do think it is important to allow myself to think of myself as a personality made out of remembered experiences and survival skills, and the uniqueness does not come from a cell but from neurons.

And then I got on my elliptical. I like this exercise because I can close my eyes and stopper my ears and just think for an hour. I can believe life came from cells not God. Without a Creator, I can\’t answer, \”Why is there something instead of nothing?\”

Every account I\’ve read of someone\’s God experience involves trauma to the brain itself or the emotions.

Can I, an aware living set of cells, evolve a spirit that same way I evolved a consciousness? If so, I doubt if I would be the first one. If the thesis is true, then someone else must have done it. Jesus? Buddha?

I need to explore nothingness some more, and indeed keep reading.

My other dilemma: I have found several races in Texas during the summer. Now that I\’ve found these races, there is no need to get on an airplane. But I am holding credits that need to be used. I think I\’ll eat the loss of at least one ticket. I probably will use the others. But I certainly can\’t decide where to go. St Louis in September is the most likely choice. Maybe God will tell me.

Easter 2013 Multi-Day

On Thursday, I got in 3 hours of workout plus strength.
On Friday, I got the private marathon done plus strength.
On Saturday, I did the half marathon plus elliptical plus strength.

Now it is Sunday. I\’m headed to the park for a long walk, plus additional cross training this evening.

Pretty decent 4 days of workout; a multi-day. Just for me. Part of the anti-dopamine project. Downward Mobility in the material world. Drinking the dregs of my personal energy.

But down in my guts, the one thing I always wanted was the spiritual connection. From the start, I observed strange religious behavior and I believed that those people knew God, or Jesus. I tried everything to achieve the reality.

I never made it.

Now that I am studying neuro philosophy/science (brain books), I can\’t claim that beliefs are based on anything other than warped survival instinct.

But study of A Course in Miracles does help me deal with my fear and have happy days. So do endorphins. But I don\’t know more than that.

I hope some day I have the spiritual connection. It is the hope and dream of a lifetime; which is slowly and depressingly eroding.

I think I\’ll go buy something.

Private Marathon – 2013 #3

Today was my third private marathon of 2013. If I walk 13.1 miles tomorrow, it will be my 5th reverse Goofy.

I never know when I am starting out if I will make it to 26 miles. I just have enough water and gel and an energy bar. Then it depends mostly on how my feet feel. Then there is time and weather. Most important, it depends on my mind. I noticed today that I tell myself I\’m going to quit right up until I get over the 16 to 17 mile hump. Then, by the time I get to 19 or 20, if my left heel is not in trouble, I find I cannot waste the time and effort it took me to get that far. So I keep going. When I get to 23 to 24 miles, I will keep going despite any pain, but I might walk it out. All this is mental work. It is called going through the wall.

During this run, I was thinking about the cost of marathon races. Almost all of them cost around $100, whether you eat their food or not. Then there is transportation cost and sometimes hotel cost. All this is necessary to get an official result and a medal. My private marathons have the same human fuel cost, but are otherwise free and take much less travel time and much less hassling with people.

I am not really training for anything right now. I run the miles because I want to. Doing miles is somehow wired into my mental circuitry. I said the strangest prayer ever today: Dear whoever is running my mind and making decisions, if you want me to keep going, you will have to do it.

Somehow I kept going, in fact was not able to stop.

I\’ve been reading brain books. The latest one \”Brain Wise\” by Churchland is easy to read and very informative. I almost understand how an aware self can emerge from neuronal patterns of habit, memory and survival needs. I am in awe of the realization that more than 90% of my thought life is completely unconscious. and almost all of my behavior is originated in survival mechanisms.

Here is my first Marathon Maniac group photo taken at the Navy Marathon last week in Corpus Christi. I am in the yellow sweatshirt. There were several more Maniacs at the race but they didn\’t happen to make the photo.

And here is an awesome picture of me at Seabrook Lucky Trails 2 weeks ago. Notice I purchased this photo (no watermark). I bought a 5×7 so my home scanner would do a decent job with it.

Of Groups, Chunks and Mirrors

I could have gone to Kansas City today and spent all day tomorrow running 50 miles in a snow storm.
I cancelled that and instead I\’ll be in Corpus Christi running a marathon:

I have some space in my life to build new chunks: compression of conscious data according to its inherent structure or the way it relates to preexisting memories. I live on interconnected facts assembled by awareness.

There may not be an I who does this. There is an abstract principle of life; at least I insist that there is. Is this a divine principle? I don\’t know the God behind it. I do know that when I seek the more silent area of my consciousness, I feel more calm and am able to go about my day with less stress.

Walking away from organized religion, I lose the meaning and purpose of life. The path of no-purpose is not grounded and therefore frightening. We scramble for something to hold on to in order to feel ok about ourselves. I have intentionally ripped my self from the society which gives it position.

I try again to know who I am without others approval or opinion. Like, what races or how many miles would I do if I had no one to tell about it?

Reading this blog, someone knows what race I am going in; but there is no one I\’m reflecting off of regarding this activity. I need to know. If something is purely for myself, with no outside input, would I do it?

I think I have a better chance of re-writing the ancient survival chunks (like continuous eating) and finding a new awareness of life if I do it apart from society. Society seems to force the ongoing dogma instead of going outside the norms. (see \”The Ravenous Brain\” for chunk explanations).

I just came back from a 13.6 mile jog. Many thoughts as I went along.

For one, if I maintain a certain speed of about 14 min/mile, I have no trouble with my skeletal deformities.

For another, I recently had an experience with a group. I got them mad at me because I didn\’t go along with their norms. They stoned me electronically. All groups are like this; either play nice or face the consequences. I know this and I know how to play nice. But in this instance, I felt like saying my opinion. They didn\’t like it. I got stoned.

This experience caused me to think about relationships. I see most of them as mirrors. That is, this group was a mirror for me to posture and preen in front of, receiving compliments and affirmations as long as I behaved. To some extent, my actual life and thoughts were affected by the mirror.

So now I have walked away from that mirror. I wonder how I will shape my thoughts and experiences without that mirror. I have other mirrors for other purposes; but how will I be in that particular area?

The Non-instinctive Life

I\’ve left aside spiritual reading for a little while in order to read some neuroscience (brain books). It is a kind of spiritual study if you admit that you can\’t define God or Spirit until after you define physiology and chemistry and evolutionary patterns.

Currently reading \”The Ravenous Brain.\” This morning I read, \”We overeat because normally, in nature, food is scarce, so when there is a plentiful supply, the desire to stock up is incredibly powerful. We suffer heavy stress, even when there is not even a remote threat to our lives, because we are built to strive desperately in a dangerous world. We are also engineered to impress — to rise socially as far as we can — partly to secure more resources, but also to find sexual mates. Sex is one of the main driving forces of adult life, because, after all, passing on our own brand of genetic ideas is the main evolutionary purpose of our existence.\”

So I understand my fights and my fears. I understand those powerful urges, maybe not overcome even if a different conscious choice is attempted.

Prayer is a belief that one of these instincts can be met by divine intervention.

I went running. I noticed that cigarette butts laying on the ground represent a threat to my life. I thought about how I evaluate every single man in terms of his usefulness as a mate or as a threat to my safety. The people closest to me are most likely to try to control my behavior so that I am not a threat to their evolutionary success. Some of my exercise is in the \”survival of the fittest\” category. The little things I do to please the boss or gets positive attention are evolutionary difficult to escape behaviors.

I try to give up the dopamine reward cycle. I am not fat. I don\’t go along with the tribe. I don\’t want to live a food centered life. I\’m celibate. I don\’t know if I believe in God or not at the moment. I want to run endless miles. This represents eternity to me. I still sit in silence and listen. My intuitive thoughts come this way; I just don\’t think it is God talking to me. I go to work, pay the bills and have no purpose.

A Mental Game – Ultracentric Learning

That\’s what ultra-running is for me. I learned something really significant this weekend at Ultracentric.

When I quit the race, it was because I thought I was going to die. That is, I thought that I couldn\’t get any nutrition due to the squirts, that the shivering was due to shock and that I was suffocating in my car. So my brain instructed me to do something about it. A cheap room at the Holiday Inn was all I could think of. And once I put my chip in the timing tent, and left the race site, my game was over. I know me.

But, the next day, I knew I could\’ve gone back and walked some more. Today, I jogged 8 miles and did another hour of cross training plus some TRX upper body. Clearly, I didn\’t leave my soul or my heart on the race course.

So I figure that my brain kicked in to survival gear long before I was anywhere near dying. But since I live in my thoughts, I was powerless to go against survival gear. I could only obey it\’s command to find a warm room and also go home as soon as possible. I think that people who have crew are able to have the crew solve their problems, and tell them they are not going to die. But alone, you believe whatever is in your mind and act accordingly.

But even if I had a crew, I\’m not sure I\’ll ever do 100 miles. I still am against tearing up my body/feet so bad that extended recovery is required. I like being able to workout again 2 days later. I\’m all about the long term and the middle way. 50 miles is within my training envelope. I seem to be able to do it without too much trauma. I forget that 50 miles is still a hell of a long way.

So, despite my self knowledge, I know I\’m not done dicking around with 24 hour events. And Thanksgiving weekend is nothing but a personal multi-day running experiment for me. I have no friends or family and disagree with the whole premise of national gluttony celebrations in a nation of fat people. I disagree with eating meat in general anyway. So I look forward to miles and cross training time and weight lifting. Don\’t forget the strength.

My next race is 12/29; and its in Houston. So 50 miles and home to my own bed!  Love it.

Eat and Run

From http://www.weightymatters.ca/2012/06/coca-colas-chief-scientific-officers.html

Honestly, I usually intake 2,200 kcal/day. That is not that much below the average. I could be gaining weight just like everyone else; except I exercise 2 hours a ,and barely stay ahead of weight increases. For weight maintenance, for me, it doesn\’t matter if its any particular type of food. Too many calories is too many calories no matter how healthy.

I eat healthy but too much.

Being a solitary in silence at home, I notice more thoughts than people distracted with others in their household or constant media input (TV on all the time). So when I pack my lunch in the morning, trying to decide what food to bring to last for 10 hours, I feel the fear of starving. No really.

There is no chance I will starve anytime soon, but the fear of not having food ready to hand does exist in my brain. It is an amazing thing to understand.

It s not just a fear of starvation. It is a need for satisfaction. Sitting quietly in an office, I can feel its ongoing urge. But no reasonable amount of food will ever fill this need. All the reasonable amount of food is gone before I ever know it.

There is never a happy lets stop now. I may force a stopping point after eating all the food and looking for more. The feeling of full lasts briefly. As soon as there is an iota of room inside, I eat. I try a piece of sugar free gum for temporary relief.

Do you realize how strong is this programming and how powerless over it, especially if unconscious of it.

I also realize that my brain is not capable of eating less. I can shift around what I eat; but the ability to not eat is not within my current synapse logic prose.

Purpose and Belief

I realize that I, and humans I know, believe we have a higher/divine purpose for our lives. We think that we are better at thinking than those animals, so \”God\” must have created us for some purpose. I realize I totally believe this: there is some reason why I am alive. And I think there is some soul or inner higher divine consciousness which will tell me my purpose.

Unfortunately, I have utterly failed to hear anything from this soul. If I say I have, I am actually just making up a story. But as of yesterday, I realize that I am just being. I have said in the past that my goal was to just be. I have in a sense achieved that. As soon as I accept \”just being\”, I am almost willing to accept \”nothing\” as my purpose. Logically speaking, God does not need anyone to have a purpose. In fact, to be only love means that you have no purpose. Purposes make that person special. They add a coloring of belief that we are special to God. So in a sense, purposes negate love because they make us special, therefore not love alone.

My condition of \”just being\” means that I have reduced my activity in the world. The type of creativity of a person just being is different because it has less physical interference. I hope that just being leads me away from specialness and closer to understanding my life at its most fundamental concept.

I continue my study of the brain (reading two books at the moment). From \”The Believing Brain\” (Shermer) I have learned of patternicity and agenticity as behavior controlling modes. Patternicity is the tendency to find meaningful patterns in BOTH meaningful and meaningless noise (experience). Patternicity is association learning. The implication is that we run our lives by pattern recognition and habit, not real thought. Agenticity is the tendency to infuse patterns with meaning, intention and agency. That is, we often impart patterns we find with agency and intention and believe that these intentional agents control the world, sometime invisibly from the top down; instead of bottom-up causal laws and randomness that makes up much of our world. In agenticity, we naturally think there is a \”god\” controlling everything. Reflect on the implications of this evolutionarily developed capacity for assigning experiences to god and not randomness. Astounding.

So I have been trying to buck the system. If you wonder why I have emotional difficulties, its because I am bucking the system.

I just started reading \”The Master and His Emissary\” (McGilcrist). His book is starting out exploring the asymmetry of the brain and how the different operating modes of each hemisphere affect our experience of the world. The hemispheres attend to the world in two completely different ways. Knowing these differences, I can begin to use them to change my experience of the world. And then I have to return over and over to the essentially chemical nature. One side responds more to dopamine and the other more to noradrenaline. I do participate in the dopamine reward cycle and the effects of other hormones.

Honestly, I think it is improper to say \”there is a God\” or \”my life is for a purpose\” until after I understand something about the brain and how I experience the world (react to it, believe in it, make decisions about it).

So when I sit alone in my apartment in utter confusion about soul or God, its because I\’ve allowed these questions to be raised. I don\’t accept divine presence or divine life at face value. I have to account for evolutionarily evolved thinking patterns and the biochemistry of the dopamine reward cycle.

Whatever I think is pretty much not true.

But I can burn calories if I want. Today, I slept in; meaning its too hot to do a long run. But working out on ex-machines is actually a more effective endurance workout that struggling slowly along in the heat would be. So now I will face the machines for several hours and deal with forces in my brain wanting to quit. Running outside is mentally easy. Running on a treadmill is mentally difficult; but worth the experience for its reflective value. Why should I care what I am doing?

Happy and Resolved!

Today, I did my usual Sunday morning sleep in. The problem is that, in the summer, sleeping in can mean its too hot to run. Today was such a day (sunny and headed to high 90s temp, not couting humidity). After getting up, I read the blog for the 3,100 mile Self Transcendence race. I was interested in how the female runner was. She had ran 2,800 miles and then pulled a calf muscle and was hardly able to walk. But she had showed up at the course anyway to keep walking. This inspired me to try and do something outside even though it IS too hot (can\’t keep your body cool).

My drinks were already made so I quickly shoveled them into a cooler and headed to the car. I decided to drive 25 miles north to a park that had a very hilly but 90% shady bike path. I got in 18 miles before it was really too hot. My car thought it was 97F in the sun.

Then, my usual afternoon of shower, eat and lay on the bed reading and reflecting. I did my meditation even though I realize it might just be brain chemistry I\’m initiating. But I got this intuitive thought: Pittsburgh or no Pittsburgh, I am going to raise the bar on my thinking. That is, no matter where I live in the material world my project of mental re-programming is the priority. I do get to choose different from society. You can re-wire your brain. My choices may only be a shade different, but they are ground breaking in the evolutionary sense. So I am resolved to keep going.

I also added up my mileage for July (325 miles) and 96 hours of workout (includes cross training but not core/strengthening). This helps me feel positive about my Colorado running vacation.

But somehow, my resolution plus the running today have caused me to feel happy. Somehow, the dopamine reward cycle got triggered and I feel happy. I feel happy about the future, partly because I am no longer dependent on Pittsburgh for my self esteem. I am free to feel happy about myself and keep doing the work I think is important regardless of where I live.

Happy! Yes!

Believe it or Not

I am in the city where our corporate HQ is. I am going to an interview for a promotion tomorrow.

I am in a mental state such as I\’ve never been. I\’ve been dismantling my religious belief systems for a few years. And I\’ve been reading books about the brain lately (ie how do we get beliefs). So sitting on the airplane, I thought about the dichotomies and I thought about my beliefs about myself. Here is a simple layout.

If I get the job:

  • is it because God or a higher power wanted me to have it?
  • is it because I created it from my own thoughts?
  • is it luck?
  • is it talent?

If I don\’t get the job:

  • is it because I think I\’m not good enough?
  • is it because I never get what I want because the cosmos doesn\’t give it or my thoughts are screwed up?
  • is it because I\’m somehow a bad little girl?
  • is it because nobody likes me?
  • is it because of politics?
  • is it because the competition was truly better?

So you see, whether I win or lose, I\’ll probably make up a story about why this happened or what it means. That\’s my point. I see how we make reality what we want it to be and imbue it with irrational spiritual idealizations. The story may or may not involve God. The story may or may not involve my psychology. The story may or may not involve thoughts creating reality. The story is likely to involve some irrational belief system to which I adhere unknowingly. But I will believe the story.

Except for once in my life, I am aware of what my mind does. I can actually choose detachment or ambivalence. I don\’t have to believe anything. Letting go to this extent is going beyond some of my former boundaries. My only chance of ever having an original thought or experiencing freedom of thought is to buck the ancient and modern programming in every way I can. It is likely that there is no truth.

If I keep this up, I\’ll someday soon enjoy a sunset just because it is. Period.