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You and Your Brain

Friday, 25 September 2015 by

Who you are–and everything you experience–starts with your brain: your moods, relationships, energy level, creativity, intelligence, and ability to learn. Your brain determines your personality, motivation, confidence, persistence, happiness, inner peace–and your ability to love and be loved. If you’re anxious, unhappy, or unproductive.. …that, too, comes from your brain. We all have brain areas

We each create what I call an “Internal Map of Reality” as we grow up. This Internal Map is my name for a collection of internal cognitive processes that create: ++How you feel (and other internal states)… ++How you behave (or fail to behave, in some cases)… ++Which people and situations you attract or become attracted

I was in New York being filmed for a documentary this last week and was away from my email when I heard the news about Robin Williams’ suicide. An event like this really makes you think, doesn’t it? Robin Williams was one of those rare people who felt like family to almost everyone. He entertained us and made us

The Great Matter of Life and Death

Wednesday, 05 January 2011 by

I’ve written a lot about impermanence and cause and effect over the last year. I’ve said that there is no escape from these two aspects of the human condition–an idea many of you have resisted (and, I might add, I’m not surprised–resisting these two conditions seems to be what human beings do).

Over the New Year’s holiday someone posted the following comment about how he had personally responded to my remarks about this topic. Rather than just post my answer under his post, as I often do, I’ve decided that this is important enough to warrant a separate post.

Though this is quite short, I think it will really give you something to think about.

THE COMMENT: I think I may have taken some of your advice too closely, or used it in the wrong way. I took what you said about impermanence and said, ‘If I’m happy I can’t enjoy being happy because it’s impermanent and will go away’… which keeps me from being happy when I notice it. It’s quite strange, and like I’m waiting for something to let me go ‘full happy’. Except if I ever noticed that I was on ‘full happy’ I might say, ‘hey stop that’. –James


(This is part 3 of a 3 part series, so if you haven’t read or listened to parts 1 & 2, please do that before you read or listen to this one–unless you really don’t care whether any of this makes sense to you.)

When we left our story of chaos and reorganization a few days ago, I’d just revealed the exciting answer to this question:

Why, in a universe that is irrevocably falling apart, do some things (including you) become more complex, more ordered? How, in such a universe, could something as complex as life develop?

Then I told you all about dissipative structures–open systems that grow and evolve in response to their environement. This was so fascinating to everyone in the blogosphere that thousands of blogs instantly linked to this one. (And then I woke up.)

At any rate, let’s continue our story because I want to explain something closer to home: How all of this affects your life, at the most practical level.

Here, then, is the second Big Question: Why do we fight this process of chaos and reorganization (you do, you know)? Why is this fight unnecessary–and, does it really cause most of your suffering ? (Yes, it does.)

I’m posting this comment about my last post, and my response, as a post of its own, and as a FINAL way of dealing with the recent wave of people who don’t like my opinions about magical thinking and so forth.  Take it or leave it, folks. If this doesn’t do it, I’m done with this

I thought this question in response to my last post was significant enough that it deserved its own post. I think you’ll find it very thought-provoking.

Are the events of life random? Do we live in a stupid universe or is someone watching over us? Or, do we create our own reality? How responsible are we? What, then, is karma? Are we just paying for our sins in this life?

Good grief. Why do people ask me these things?!


You said we live in a giant matrix of cause and effect.  In a previous blog post you made a passing reference to “random” events.

My question is this, do you believe the popular, overused saying, “There are no accidents?” Or do you believe, as you have seemed to indicate a couple of times, that things can happen randomly?

I straddle both the eastern and western world views at times so I grapple with this question often.  I’ve personally witnessed that outward circumstances can change when you’ve healed elements in your own consciousness, so it would seem to point to the idea that it’s all just done with mirrors.

Do you agree w/what all the New Age gurus say–that you create your own reality?  Most of these teachings evolved from New Thought, and I’ve been involved in a New Thought practice for several decades.  Because of my training, I’ve endlessly taken responsibility for my lot and worked hard to change myself to overcome it.  I’ve struggled long and hard with this as I have a “reality” I’ve not wanted for a long time and I’ve worked endlessly on myself to effect a shift in my experience.  I’m still working and still stuck.

So the question of karma comes in.  Am I just doing penance for past mistakes in other lives?  Will no amount of work or awareness or witnessing my internal processes eradicate a debt that predates this life?

The Human Condition

Tuesday, 28 September 2010 by

Two letters about some key aspects of the human condition, and my answers:

In this first letter, is it just my silly positive thinking, or do I have something else in mind when I ask this man to make a list of the benefits of losing his job? You decide.

Hi Bill,

You suggested that I make a list of the benefits of having lost my job. I think that is a crazy thing to do and I very much resent the idea of positive thinking. In fact, to me positive thinkers are just deluded fools who don’t have the guts to face the inevitability of death. Sooner or later, the sun is going to blow up and all living things, whether they have perfect abs or not, will be reduced to ashes. What I don’t get is why, while this is all coming my way like a truck barreling down the highway, I have to live and eat and have a family and buy a new air conditioner. I think you are asking me to play Scrabble while I am on a train that goes somewhere I don’t want to be, as though it could possibly help me enjoy the ride and divert my attention from what is really going on.

Boy, do I get some good letters. Here’s another one, with my answer.

Hello Bill,
I’m interested in understanding better why people in general can know that a certain way of life is good for them but continue on a course that isn’t. For example, smoking or being overweight. There is as much information available as we’d care to read on both topics, but people continue to do what is not good. Are they all “unconscious incompetents” even though they cognitively know what they are doing is not good for them. I haven’t smoked in many years but have just lost some weight and want to keep it off permanently. I “believe” being at this weight is good for me. What beliefs do I need to be aware of and guard against to stay at this healthy weight. How do I reach “unconscious competence” on this issue?



You’ve hit on precisely why becoming more aware provides a solution to every human problem that has a solution (some don’t). People do most of what they do OUTSIDE their awareness, which means they do it automatically. What you do with awareness, though, you have a choice about. Awareness creates choice, and what I teach is largely about how to direct your awareness to what YOU DO inside your head that creates:

1) how you feel and the other internal states you experience,

2) how you behave,

3) which people and situations you attract or become attracted to, and

4) what the events around you seem to mean.