Me, my phone bill and God


Go straight to Hell, don’t pass GO… (from The Laws of Eternity)

My aim in writing this is to increase your happiness.  Or failing that, your amusement!

On Friday, when I came home from work, there was a bill in my (physical) mailbox. This was from my new cell phone service provider. A month or so ago when I bought the HTC Hero (long may it live), I did so at Telehuset, since they were the ones who had it. I’m pretty pragmatic like that, even though I generally hold Telenor in low regard. It used to be a telephone monopoly here in Norway, originally a branch of the state administration, and it has never quite managed to shake that attitude completely. So I was surprised when the salesperson told me that I could actually get a cheaper monthly plan from Telenor than from the second-largest phone company, Netcom. I have never heard of Telenor being cheaper than anyone at anything ever, but hey, as long as we live we can repent. That is how I see the world. So, after carefully asking the salesman about the details, I changed to Telenor.

Unsurprisingly, the bill was somewhat higher than the salesman had projected. Surprisingly, it was well over twice as much. Out of the three parts the amount consisted on, not a single one was right, and they were all too high.

Now, I am a reasonable and tolerant person. And I certainly could afford the amount. Data traffic is amazingly cheap these days, compared with just a couple years ago, not to mention even further back. So it is not a matter of money. It is a matter of lying bastards lying to honest people. I thought to myself, this guy is probably doing this whenever he thinks he can get away with it. He will lie to your face repeatedly without blinking, without conscience, unaware that he is GOING TO HELL for his crimes. I better warn him. Come to think of it, it is probably something he has been instructed to do by his superior. No doubt they will deny it all in court, where I am going to meet them; they will lie under oath and thus ensure that they too are GOING TO HELL to learn their lesson. I really shouldn’t take them that far, tempting them to swear false oaths, but for the sake of the thousands they are swindling who don’t have the confidence to stand up against the big business, someone has to do it! As a Very Important Person, the task falls to me. But first, I should post their crime all over the web to warn everyone.

“You might want to sleep on this” said God. Or whoever my invisible friend is. “You can talk to them on Monday. Then you will find out whether they really are unrepentant liars.” So, since I have other hobbies too, I decided to not start my campaign FOR GREAT JUSTICE right away but wait till today.

So today I took a little time off from work and went to Telehuset again. In my mind, I started planning my great speech. “You don’t need to do that” said God. “Have you not read in the Scripture that it will be given you in the same moment what you shall speak?” “But someone has to be the champion of the poor!” “Perhaps they just accidentally punched a wrong code when registering the purchase” proposed God. Sure that could happen – I have punched a lot of data in my life – but perhaps they really were crooks. So while I did not prepare my speech, I just quietly made a mental note of various good ideas that happened to fly by.

Given my previous conversations with God (or whoever it is), the outcome is pretty much given at this point. The salesman remembered everything and instantly agreed that this was a clerical error that he would get to within the hour, and please to wait for the new bill. I never got to use any of my good points, much less warn him of the dangers of Hell and how I would see them all in court. Oh well.


It is kind of amusing to watch myself. Instructive too.  It really does not take more than this for me to go into battle-porcupine mode, save for the voice of God, or perhaps the voice of reason, I have a hard time telling those two apart.

Modern psychology has found that humans have “hot” and “cold” states of mind. When basic emotions are activated, we enter a hot state, and our priorities are completely different from in the “cold” rational frame of mind. In fact, another person in the same hot state of mind can predict our behavior better than we did in the cold state of mind.

These states need not be about anger or even lust.  Most adults will be able to name some amount of money for which they are willing to eat a living earthworm, but very few of them actually go through with it when it wriggles in their hand. Of course, those who do can probably earn a decent amount of money by taking part in psychological research. But for most people, it is as if a module of their psyche is conveniently switched out and replaced by another when they come in such situations.  Kind of like how computers swap memory with blocks on the hard disk, we swap pieces of our conscious self with one from the subconscious.

Kofuku-no-Kagaku have a slightly different explanation.  They believe that stray spirits of the dead are reaching out from hell to bond with people who have not brushed and flossed their mind regularly.  Then on occasions favorable to them, the spirits take over control of the body for a while to ease their own pain.  A spirit from the Hell of Strife for instance will try to get you into a fight, and so on.

I guess this is a bit like “does the sun rise or does the earth rotate”.  I can certainly see how it may look to the casual observer as if an angry person is possessed by a completely different personality.  People sometimes even say it afterwards: “I don’t know what possessed me”, “I was not myself”, “I would never do that”.  Those who speak like that are probably wrong though: No matter whether they have supernatural assistance or an upwelling from their subconscious, it would not have happened unless there was some door in their mind that opens into dark rooms.

Or at least there is in me, which is why I have to practice  self-reflection and listen to the voice from Above, wherever that is.

City of Heroes: Power Spectrum

2008-12-22 20:06:50

Colors are very important for heroes! You can’t have a green aura with a red suit, right?

And now for something entirely different.  I haven’t written about the online superhero game City of Heroes in a long time, but it is still going strong.  The question is, will it still be going strong once there is direct competition?  The people who play a superhero game are not necessarily the same as those who play elves and dwarves (although I see some suspiciously elf-like heroes sometimes). But with the release of Champions Online, there will for the first time be another dedicated superhero MMORPG, and one developed using newer technology and learning from the experience of CoH.  Learning very closely, actually, because the company that releases Champions Online is the same that originally created City of Heroes. They later sold CoH to NCSoft, a large Korean-American MMORPG company which had published and supported the game from the start.

So how does CoH prepare to meet their doom the competition? In the long run, by promises of a third expansion. There are currently two games in one, City of Heroes and City of Villains. Strangely, it is often the same people who play them both.  (I don’t like villainy myself.) A third expansion will make it possible for villains to be redeemed, gradually, through a series of quests, while heroes may become vigilantes and eventually go bad.  It will also add large new areas in another imaginary world where the heroes of Paragon City have become tyrants, and the villains freedom fighters.

This is still some way off though, and in the meantime there is Issue 16: Power Spectrum.  “Issue” is their name for the free expansions that are added to the game, typically three times a year, although not necessarily exactly every four mounts.  Some are larger and some are smaller. This one is small in the sense that it does not include new areas or radically new powersets. Instead it changes how the game works, in a number of ways.

The most obvious, if you visit the test server, is the colors.  Players can now modify the colors of all powers that have a visible effect.  Most powers have, so there are a lot of interesting colors to see.  Originally the color was hard-coded into each powerset, so it took a lot of programming to make them available to the players.  But the result may well be worth it.  The fact is that most people who come to the game with a concept of a superhero already in their head, also has color as an important part of the concept.  For instance, my Lightwielder characters from the (still unfinished) books are typical Defenders in City of Heroes, but the powerset that best corresponds to them is “Dark Miasma”. Not good!  Now, with Power Spectrum, I can change those powers to bright white, as they should be.  Your hero may vary.

While this is the most visible change, it is not the only one. The project of “power proliferation” continues, with powers that have formerly only been available to heroes becoming adapted to villains and the other way around, and some powers becoming available to more archetypes than before.  For instance, tankers and scrappers can now have an energy aura that absorbs attacks, something only available to villains before.  On the other side, villain dominators can now have Earth Assault, which is related to but not quite the same as Earth Control for Controller heroes.

Perhaps the deepest change however is not very visible. It is the way teaming works when heroes (or villains) are of different levels.  Levels play a defining role in all MMORPGs.  To go up in levels is the most important thing for many players, and it is not unusual to park a hero once it has reached the maximum level and start over with another.  But the usual approach means you move through the game world in a very defined way:  You start in the newbie zone of Atlas Park or (more rarely) Galaxy City, then move to Kings Row or The Hollows, then Steel Canyon or Skyway City, then Talos Island or Independence Port, then Brickstown or Founders Falls, then Peregrine Island, the final zone where the portals to other worlds are.

From the very start, it has been possible for a higher level hero to sidekick a lower. The sidekick operates as if 1 level lower than the mentor, but has only the powers available at his real level. The powers are boosted to the higher level, though.  Also very early came the concept of exemplaring, or reverse sidekicking, where the  higher-level hero fights on the lower level of his sidekick, but retains the enhancements to his powers, at least within certain limits, so is somewhat better than he originally was at that level.  The hero that is exemplared down does not get experience points, however, instead getting double influence points (the currency of the game).

This has changed.  Now, the team leader or owner of the current mission sets the level for all members of the team.  Lower-level characters are automatically sidekicked, and you can have as many sidekicks as the team limit allows.  (Still limited to 8 characters, not counting pets.) Conversely, higher-level heroes are automatically exemplared down to the level of the team leader / mission owner.  However, they now get xp as if they were fighting enemies their own level.  So if you would get 1000 xp for fighting a minion, you will still get 1000 xp even if it is only worth 100 to those who are naturally at that level.  This will encourage people to return to lower-level zones and help teams of younger, weaker heroes.  It is in fact possible to level all the way to 50 without ever leaving the newbie zones, if you always team with newbies.  Not a good idea, probably, unless you are my signature hero, The Eternal Newbie.  ^_^  But it is nice to be able to visit the lower zones again occasionally without having to create a new character.

Ideal or attachment


“What are you making efforts for?” This question must be answered before entering the sixth dimension in the animated movie “The Laws of Eternity”.

For some days now I have privately watched a 5-minute inspirational video from Happy Science. (It is actually an excerpt from The Laws of Eternity, the anime.)As the characters pass into the sixth dimension, the realm of extraordinary accomplishments, a question appears in the accompanying song: “Is this my longing ideal, or is it an attachment?”

This is a good question. When we are attracted to something and want to attract it, it may be either of these. It could be an expression of our innermost soul, a part of the reason why we live in this world, and achieving it would bring happiness. Or it could be a distraction, something that would keep us trapped in our illusions so we never get to be who we really are, and thus bring misery.

The placement of that line in the video is probably not an accident. Or if it is, it is a very lucky accident. Ryuho Okawa writes in more detail in his book “The Laws of Happiness”. Here he writes that a politician may be unhappy because he is not president, and an office worker may be unhappy because he is not company president. But if they found themselves in the position they coveted, they would actually soon become very unhappy. This is because most people are not qualified for such a position, and the higher you climb, the more harshly people will judge you. They may not expect too much of some random pawn in the bureaucracy, but they have very high expectations to a leader and will show little mercy if he fails, or even if he succeeds only moderately well.

Okawa believes that there are some people who are born to lead, born to achieve greatness in this world. This may not at all be apparent at the start of their life, but it is apparent in the way they act in their circumstances. These people, according to the somewhat unusual worldview of Happy Science, actually belong in the Sixth Dimension (or above, in extraordinary cases). While this is a notion of the afterlife, the useful part is that people actually live in this world according to their nature in the “real world” as Okawa insists on calling it, the spirit world. So even if you don’t believe literally in the intricate dimensional ladder, it still describes people in this world.

(A few words on that dimensional stuff. It is not quite as sci-fi as it sounds. Yes, the fourth dimension is time, but in this context it mainly means that the spirits after death are unbound by time. They are, in other words, eternal. This is a pretty common belief. In the world of Happy Science, the afterlife is not necessarily Heaven or Hell. People who don’t really have much depth may simply just keep going on as before, barely aware that they have died. The fifth dimension adds spirituality – hardly a physical dimension. The sixth dimension is true knowledge. So you see, these could just as easily describe someone still in this world.)

So a person who belongs to the category of souls that are classified as the “sixth dimension” will have a natural drive to excel. They seek excellence, leadership or dominance not out of a foolish illusion that it will make their lives easier. They know that the opposite is true, but their sense of mission or purpose spurs them on even so. For them it is their longing ideal, and they will sacrifice what is needed and do what it takes to accomplish their life dream. But when someone less spiritually evolved tries the same thing, their motivation is off, and they are seeking an attachment. They want to be admired, respected, looked up to, to have lots of money and things they can buy with money, to be able to boss others around and give orders without having to obey anyone themselves, and men are often motivated by their mating urge as well. It is all about themselves and feeling as much pleasure as possible in this life. But this rarely goes well, because such an attitude does not prepare you for the price paid for excellence.

More happy science books


Received two more books in the mail from to Happiness and The Laws of Happiness.Well, actually these were the two first physical books, the other two were e-books from ebookmall. Since I am still in my Happy Science fad, these are books by Ryuho Okawa. And they are quite good too. Of course, I expected that, as I had read excerpts from them on Google Books before ordering them.

These books have no interstellar travel or sinking continents. Even the detailed strata of the spiritual world are toned way down. Instead they mostly contain heaps of practical advice for modern people, with some theoretical groundwork of why some things lead to success and others to failure, some to happiness and some to misery.

One thing I noticed is that Okawa does not use aphorism. There are few if any short soundbites that you can underline and make into a motivational poster. Instead he usually conveys a point over 2-3 sentences of average length. Just too long for a snap quote, but very easy to understand.

Another part of his writing, which is very refreshing, is how freely he admits that he has had to grow with his tasks himself. When Happy Science was a new and small organization, he had only a moderate number of followers who were all spiritual but with fairly simple needs. He felt quite adequate to the task and confident in his abilities. But then all kinds of different people started joining, and the first ones started to become quite advanced. Suddenly he found himself at his limits, but as soon as he acknowledged these limits, he began to surpass them. So even though he sees himself as a kind of Messiah, he has had to improve himself a lot. The good news is that anyone can do that, with the right mindset.

Overall, I find it hard to deny that this man has a high spirit. He seems genuinely interested in helping people improve, and has the wisdom to do so in a simple, practical way. He does not peddle a quick cure, like you see in some modern self-help books. And he certainly doesn’t go “Just believe in me, your savior, and things will get easy”. Not at all. For a supposed sect leader, he is amazingly practical and realistic in these books. In so far as he mentions himself and his organization at all, it is as examples, drawing lessons from his own history.

The Laws of Happiness even has a section on how to succeed in your job. That was quite an eye-opener for me. Perhaps I will write about it in more detail later.

The last half of the book is unabashedly religious, but still fairly generic, using well-known concepts from Christianity and Buddhism. Once again, there isn’t much sectarian about this. If you believe you have an immortal spirit (or immortal soul, as most westerners erroneously calls it) then most of it will make sense. If not, well, the book is cheap and the first half should be useful even for those who break out in rashes on seeing the word “God”. There is also a good deal of practical advice in the last half, if you can read it without getting upset. Taking time to reflect on what you have done, or believing that our thoughts affect our lives, is not something that requires a specific named god. Although having one does not hurt either.

For the curious, there is a section about IRH, the Institute for Research in human Happiness, the precursor to Happy Science. (The Japanese name was always the shorter version.) One amusing fact is that they originally required a written application and a test, but when they expanded overseas, they were told that religions are not supposed to have tests, they are supposed to be open for anyone. So they changed their policy on that. I must admit I kind of liked the original approach. If people had to take a thorough Bible quiz to become Christians, we might be spared some pretty noisy and offensive people claiming to represent our religion. Actually, I think you need something like that to convert to Catholicism, but don’t quote me on that, I have it secondhand. (Third hand for you, then, and who has three hands?)

Still reading Guideposts, but it has some fascinating stuff too. Things that make me go “Wow, I never thought of that, now it makes sense!” That is kind of disturbing, but I accept what I can use. I cannot afford to reject truth just because it comes from an unlikely source. I don’t believe just any spirit, but seek to try everything and keep what is good. Light willing, I shall try to share some of the goodness in the near future.

Or you could get the books yourself, I guess, but I don’t know… If I had read them 20 years ago, would they have helped me at all? Almost certainly not. Even five years ago, I am not sure I would have been able to see some of what I see now. It is as if there is this huge puzzle and I have been able to see an outline for a good long time, but only the last few years are a lot of pieces starting to come together at great speed, as if handed to me just in time. So I cannot guarantee that the books will do you good, or even that they won’t do you harm. But me, I am impressed.

Alone but not alone


Don’t worry! We are not alone. Well, I guess that depends on how you see it.  This entry owes its existence to me watching another anime where someone says “Don’t fear, you are not alone” as if this was a perfectly reasonable thing to be afraid of.

This is a kind of recurring topic, I guess. Or at least I have written about it more than once.  But I think it can take another round, because it is so alien to most people.  I mean, if some blogger writes that he is gay, or that he is afraid of dogs, or that he uses a wheelchair, those are all unusual; but they still fit into categories that already exist in your mind.  But if I say that I prefer a life of  near solitary confinement, there just is no mental category for that.

“Single” doesn’t even begin to approach it. “Celibate” is mostly about sexual abstinence, or at least that is how people think of it.  “Hermit” is someone who lives out in the woods without electricity.   I don’t do that.  I go to work like a good office rat, I just avoid the watercooler.  Whenever possible I just work with the computers, although I have no fear of my coworkers:  I will approach them when needed to get a job done.  They are nice enough people.  But to compete with solitude you need to be truly great. Amazing, really. There have not been many such people in my life. (And I probably wasn’t all that amazing in their lives either.)

The confusing thing is that I am not alone when I am alone.  Well, almost never. I have experienced feeling truly alone and abandoned, and it was hellish beyond any physical pain I can remember. I can easily understand why people will  cut or even burn themselves to try to drive away the pain in the soul, but I doubt it works for long. Luckily, for me those were just brief episodes, albeit episodes that had a lasting effect on my life. Not that I would want to have that kind of lesson taught me again if I can avoid it.

To once again invoke Happy Science and the books by Ruyho Okawa, they assume that each of us have at least one guardian angel.  Usually these days there is also a second angel, a guiding angel.  I am honestly not sure if that is the Presence I experience each day, or whether that is actually God, or even some part of myself – but if so, it is far more than my better half: It is towering above me intellectually and ethically.  It is hard to imagine how I would end up in charge of my body, how I would end up being the ego, the conscious one, if my subconscious held someone like that.  Yet the Presence does not try to depose me and take control of my body – though it may occasionally influence it to halt me in my tracks if I am going dangerously wrong – but generally it is more like a saintly, tolerant older brother.  (I know this because I actually have a saintly, tolerant older brother, although we did not spend that much time together.  It is not a memory of him I experience, but there are certain similarities.)

I may get back to this topic. It is quite fascinating.  But for now, let us just accept the fact that when I am alone, I don’t feel alone.  It is not just that I don’t feel lonely.  Rather, there is a distinct experience or at least assumption of Presence.  Sometimes it is definitely more of an experience, while at other times I just take it for granted.

It seems a bit unfair, I guess, albeit in my favor.  While the voices in some people’s head say “Stab someone with a knife! Stab someone with a knife! Stab someone with a knife!”, mine says “The spaghetti is finished” or “Don’t just lie there and pray, go call a doctor.” (OK, so that was only once, but the spaghetti is pretty common.) Much of the time the Presence is not even close to speaking.  It may illuminate something I read so that I understand it with unexpected clarity, or remind me of something I heard long ago.  Or it may simply be there, quietly keeping an eye on me while I do my own things, or listening while I try to sort out my thoughts.

Women are definitely more sexy, but in pretty much any other regard they draw the short stick over and over.  There is simply no way to compete with someone who is closer to me than my own skin, nearly as much a part of my life as the beating of my heart.  Well, unless you’re the one Chris de Burgh sings about in his ballad Forevermore:

You are my lover,
you are my friend,
you are my life to the very end.
You bring me comfort,
you keep me warm,
you give me hope,
you make me strong.
You take me away to a distant shore,
and it’s with you that I want to stay

Forever is a long time. But I don’t mind, if it is like this. In truth, the main reason I am afraid of death is that I hear from so many that there is some kind of justice in the Hereafter, and I fear that this means I will have to part with my undeserved companion. If it were the other way around – if I were alone now but the Presence was waiting for me on the Other Shore – well, it is hard to say something like this for sure when Death is not breathing down my neck, but I think I would cross over with some semblance of dignity at least. But that is not how it is. Unfortunately for my death, but very fortunately for my life, I already have here something that others hope for in the afterlife.

No swine flu today

But I did not know that for sure in the morning. With sniffles, sneezes, sore throat and a small headache, not to mention that my pulse went way up when I did anything harder than amble across the floor.  As long as I was at rest, it was fine though.  In any case, I decided to give it a day and see. If the temperature grew into a real fever, I would drop off work for the duration, otherwise get back the next day.

As it happens, I got rather better over the day, so it wasn’t the flu this time.  Having been sneezed at during our gathering last week, and later in the supermarket, I did not want to pass it on until I was sure.

My boss let me work from home. (I would probably have done so anyway, since there were files to merge, my favorite work activity. But I would not have been paid for it. On the other hand, a sickday would have paid better, since there were not files and mail enough for a full day.)

This is the second Monday off in a month or less.  I know this is not uncommon here in Norway, where drinking is concentrated to the weekends.  In my case that’s obviously not the reason – I forget to buy alcohol, and with a reasonable amount of meditation I probably don’t need it anyway. Small quantities of alcohol correlates statistically with less heart and circulatory problems and a moderately longer lifespan, but it is not entirely clear that this comes from the alcohol or whether it is part of a general lifestyle of moderation.  Anyway, in my case there must be another reason, and I suspect exercise.  Having the day off, I tend to exercise a good deal more.  When I return from work, I feel tired, even if my work there is almost exclusively for the brain.

Simulated angel


OK, this is going to be a bit weird.   Then again, so am I.

Regular readers will know that I have played the Sims games from the start in 2000, upgrading to Sims 2 in 2005 and until I got Sims 3 this summer.  Over time I developed a special way of playing, where I was always looking out for the happiness of my imaginary characters.  This culminated in the Prosperity Challenge project, where I took on the role of “Guardian Angel” for a whole neighborhood of Sims, simulated people “living” in my computer.  For each and every member of each and every family, I would seek to provide a balance between their free will, their immediate needs and guiding them toward becoming the most they could be within their aspiration.

The neighborhood started as six small families, broke and deep in debt, with no skills, no jobs and no friends outside the family, and all of them having lost loved ones before seeking refuge in the small mountain village.  From this foundation I gradually nurtured a village filled with love and friendship, where the various talents worked together to create a better future for all.  A good education, a harmonious family, a career fitting to fulfill their lifetime wants.  Befriending the randomly generated, computer-controlled characters they met in school, college or work, they drew more and more people into their society, starting to take the shape of a small town. And I would still take care of each of them individually, sometimes taking into account things that had happened much earlier in their lives (and months ago in my own timeline).

What was it that tempted me to take up such a hobby?  And why did it take this particular form?  Many players of the game will torture and even kill their characters, or use them to play out scenarios of casual or uncommon sexual relations. In a way this makes sense since they play for the enjoyment of the player, who is real, while the little computer people are not.  Or not by our standards.  To me, they were conferred a secondary reality, a thin and wavering one for sure, by the virtue of living inside my mind.  They were, as I see it now, inhabitants of the second dimension.  And it was natural for me to want to treat them the way I would want someone from a higher dimension to treat me.


If we for a brief time suspend disbelief (lots and lots of disbelief) and imagine that I lived in the world described by Ryuho Okawa in his “Laws” books… suddenly this all makes more sense. Why was I drawn toward acting as an angel toward lesser beings?  Because I actually was a higher-dimensional being myself, incarnated in this world as part of my education. Probably not an actual angel from the seventh dimension, but not all that far off:  Quite possibly from the Realm of Light in the sixth dimension.  Regular readers will know that I constantly make references to the Light where others might say God or Buddha or The Almighty or some such. This fairly lofty origin (though still far from the top) would explain why I was born with unusual intelligence and a deep longing for knowledge and insight in the workings of the world, or why I wanted to be a prophet at an age where other boys wanted to be fireman or pilot. It would also specifically explain my programming skills. Perhaps I was sent to Earth merely for my own education, but probably not:  I may have had some specific task in sights when I incarnated, something that would benefit many people, as is frequently the case for those who descend from that sphere.

But unfortunately, something went off track and whatever I was meant to do, never happened.  Instead I ended up alone, watching the world as if from a distance, while helping my Sims achieve the happiness and prosperity I was sent to give the humans of this world.

Where did I go wrong? What caused me to turn my back on the human world, to “bury my talent” (to use an expression from one of Jesus Christ’s stories)? How did I forget my purpose on this plane of existence? I honestly don’t have a clue.


Of course, my cluelessness could simply stem from not living in a world where Atlantis and Mu were real continents and where most of the world’s gods and heroes were at some point real (albeit somewhat different from how they are remembered today). That instead we each only have one life in this world, and then a final judgment, if even that.  Living in a world where talents are bestowed by genetic lottery rather than celestial hierarchy, a world that will eventually be deserted and share the fate of Venus, and where all our words and all our works will be utterly wiped from the visible universe like footsteps in the sand before the rising tide.

In such a world, playing angel for small computer people may well be the most reasonable thing for one such as me to do. Probably not, though, but “it felt meaningful at the time.”

Books: The Laws of the Sun / Eternity


A world where benevolent spirits regularly assist humanity, and where humans again can become angels and help others? Who wouldn’t like that? (Picture from the anime “The Laws of Eternity”, based on the book with the same name.)

I got my first two Happy Science books! (Although it was called Institute for Research in Human Happiness at the time the book was printed, it is the same organization, Kofuku-no-Kagaku.) I mentioned this briefly on Thursday. As I try to write a review of sorts, I will treat the two books together, as they are very similar. The Laws of the Sun is more focused on history and giving an overview, while The Laws of Eternity goes into more detail on the Spirit World, but they are both set in the same world. They are part of a trilogy, with The Golden Laws still missing from my collection. That one is supposed to go into recorded history in greater detail, chronicling the lives of Moses, Jesus, Gautama Buddha etc.

First let me mentally prepare the casual reader that these books can be read in two very different ways. You can take them as a description of our reality, or think of them as describing an alternate version of our world. If so, it is a world with far more depth: This planet alone exists in 10 dimensions, of which we live in only 3. Our biosphere is surrounded by that of the fourth dimension, which again is surrounded by the fifth and so on. The total population of humanoids in these spiritual realms exceeds the people on Earth by a factor of ten, so it is no wonder the spirits are constantly interfering in life on Earth.

If you have a hard time thinking of anything supernatural that you have seen or heard of from sane people, you are probably going to treat this as science fiction. But with Happy Science already having about 10 million members after a generation, there seems to be a good number of people who think otherwise. And I can certainly see why: It is a world I’d love to live in myself. Unlike some religions, it really has a happy attitude. Hell is considered a corner of the fourth dimension, and plays the role of a temporary purgatory rather than eternal damnation. The vast majority of spirits are benevolent, and many of them are quite powerful. The people in this world can easily have the same kind of experience that I have of not being alone and receive encouragement and advice from an invisible companion.

The Laws of the Sun also presents a world with a far longer history of human habitation, going back to the age of the dinosaurs, and mentioning several waves of immigration from other planets. And continents rise and sink several times per million years, unlike the leisurely pace we are used to. This is because the planet Earth has its own godlike consciousness and reacts violently to human crimes, such as killing Jesus. We got away easy last time, but the Atlanteans were not so lucky when they buried him alive with most of his family. Jesus, Buddha, Newton and several others are fairly regular visitors according to these books.

When I just present these things out of context, you probably get the distinct impression that you have to be an idiot to believe these books and Happy Science in general. While it is certainly not hard to imagine there being 10 million idiots in the world, or even in Japan, this would be a grave failure. The books have a completely different side that I will now go into. They are deeply pious and contain treasures of wisdom.

This is the thing that keeps me confused about the books and the organization in general, as I already said before. When it comes to human life, there are profound insights that are likely to help the average person improve their lot in this world (and the next, if any) greatly over time.

There is also a calm acceptance of human weakness and folly, quite different from the fire and brimstone anger found in some religious books. It is as if the author has no dark repressed wishes that comes out the back door in the form of flaming hate against this or that particular type of sinner. For people familiar with American religion, for instance, this difference is pretty dramatic. Sure, you can go to Hell, but it is for your own good. Not because God is angry, or even because you deserve it. In Hell you get to play out those dark fantasies that you secretly believed in, and see what they result in. Hopefully you sooner or later wake up to your true nature as a shining diamond, a child of the Creator, and everything will make sense.

Now the Christian reader may find this theology unbearably liberal, but instead of going on and on about the eternal damnation, the books go on and on about the glories of Heaven. Or the Heavens, rather, as these are the afore mentioned higher dimensions. And Okawa manages to make them seem really attractive, places you’d want to go even if it means spending your free time polishing your soul. Whereas most people probably at one time or another has questioned the fun of playing harps on a cloud or singing Hallelujah for an indeterminable length of time, any good-hearted people would probably feel right at home in one of the many heavens described here. Take pride in your work? Like to make others smile? Come to Heaven! We have limitless job opportunities for people like you, and you can continue to improve yourself over countless eons until you have godlike powers to bless others. Of course, you won’t be able to use those powers for selfish means, but blessing others is the true happiness anyway.

And this is the red thread that runs through the books (and also other books I have read excerpts from). It is a deep and real understanding of what happiness is, what love is, and how it corresponds to everyday life. According to Happy Science, the primary source of happiness is a love that gives. Receiving love is important to humans, and can make the difference between despair and joy. Receiving love is like getting water in the desert. But far greater is the love that gives: It is like a river itself, that flows in cascading waterfalls from the higher heavens through the lowers until it reaches us here on earth, and even Hell itself will become a Heaven if reached by love. A person who is full of giving love will belong to Heaven already in this life.

I agree without reservation with this. As does Jesus Christ, evidently, since he is quoted in one of the oldest books in the New Testament as saying, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Jesus is, not by accident I think, also a favorite inspiration in Okawa’s books, despite his own Japanese background. Or perhaps because of it? I sometimes think that we have become immunized by the contemporary religion so that we don’t see the revolutionary message of Jesus, while a stranger may be astonished by it.

Apart from a theory of happiness, there is also one of the best definitions of love that I have seen so far (and I have written quite a few of those here over the years, as my own view has changed, generally becoming more cynical over the years.) To Okawa, love is the power that unites. It unites man and woman, parent and child, teacher and student, doctor and patient, coworkers, entire nations. Wherever we are pulled together into greater unity, the power of love is at work. As we ascend through the heavens, love intensifies, because we become more at one with each other. At the very top, after all, God is One, the Father of all. Therefore, the closer we come to The One, the closer we come to each other. Elementary, my dear Watson!

I hope you now see my dilemma. The clarity of this man’s practical spiritual wisdom is embedded in books that read like the manual of a science fiction roleplaying game. Which is it? Of course, some of the more blasphemous readers would say the same about the Bible. Woe unto you! Fire and brimstone… oh, wait…

What’s with the doorbell?


A vast expanse of lush, green grass is a beautiful sight when you are a tourist; not so much when you are a tenant with a manual lawnmower in need of sharpening.

Today was neither rain nor thunder, even a little sun. So after I came home from work and ate half a liter of yogurt, I went out to mow lawn again.  After a couple minutes the landlord arrived unannounced, with his uncle (?), mother and grandmother.  They were, they told me, just looking at the shed and carport and such, to see what they could throw away.

That is ominous. When you start clearing out the shed, it means you are planning to sell the house.  Given how many houses the family already has, this is not really surprising, but it is a letdown for me. I love this place and I hate moving.  Oh well.  I should start throwing away more things myself, to prepare for my next move, I guess.  But hopefully it is still some way off.  The “pigsty project” has been hibernating through the summer, and I have only thrown away actual garbage.  It is time to start getting rid of the two crates of comics that I was absolutely sure I would read again but have not blown the dust off since I came here three years ago, at which time I had not looked at them for some years either. Also,  shirts missing buttons.  Also, trousers with visible holes. Yes, I can wear them at home.  But you only need one pair of trousers at home where no one sees them, because, obviously, no one will see that you have only one pair when no one sees them.

Anyway!  Since these people were hanging around, I mowed harder and longer than I do on an average day.  I try to do some each day, as a kind of exercise, except when the weather forbids it.  This summer there has been more days with some rain than usual, which I deeply appreciate.  But it also means the lawns get a bit furry even by my standards.  The landlord and family prefer them with crewcut at the most.  And I suspect lawns are very important to them, since the house is surrounded by such vast expanses of the stuff.  Thus, to forestall an immediate eviction caused by contempt for the court of lawn, I worked hard for half an hour, and was drenched in sweat.

(Normally I don’t care what people think about me, but these are not people, they are my continued living at this nice place. Besides, usually I don’t need to care what people think because God sees me. But God loves grass, as evidenced by how much he has created of it and how he makes it grow; the landlord family hates grass. So usual rules do not apply.)

The thing to do when drenched in sweat is to take clothes off and take a bath, in that order. However, in the interval between “clothes off” and “take a bath”, the doorbell rang.  This was the landlord’s family wanting to give me a message.  I reasoned, however, that they would probably not want to do so while I was naked, so I put on some clothes, at which point they were about to drive away.

Usually people do just that, drive away after ringing my doorbell.  This is not because people like to prank me by ringing my bell and running. It is because in 2 out of 3 times (or so) people ring the bell when I am either asleep, bathing or on the porcelain throne.  This is out of proportion to the time I spend doing these things.  It is as if the doorbell has some kind of indicator light that I can’t see, signaling to those outside that I am not in a position to answer.  Except it is reversed so that they mainly ring it when I am otherwise occupied.

Not always though.  My old Christian friend who comes over a few times a year to pray with me and borrow my scientific magazines, somehow he manages to get through.  Likewise the kids selling lotteries for local clubs. At least sometimes.  I guess sometimes they may be among those who give up before I open.  Hard to say, since I can’t see them either. And of course there are probably some ringing when I am at work as well, possibly when I’m out on a walk.  Overall, I must be pretty hard to find. At least if you think a minute is an ocean of time to wait.  In which case, don’t come to me and ask why time flies so fast and where did the years go. The years went while you were driving like a speed maniac from house to house, ringing the door bells and running away faster than I could button my trousers.

Work, thunder and books

Slice of life today.  Even though I’ve dated this toward the end of the 20th, I could not possibly have updated it then, because this night I had unplugged my computer and modem earlier in the night.  There was a crazy thunderstorm or two.

I am not sure exactly whether this was the same thunder I walked through in the city after work, but if so, it had moved pretty slowly from there to here, and picked up a lot more electricity.  It was bad enough in the city actually.  I honestly hesitated to go out in the rapid succession of lightning, but I had already had a longer day than usual at work.

I had to go to work earlier than I usually do, because this was the day when we would get instructed in the new phone queue system, with practical exercise.  I learn fairly easily, but in things like this, nothing can replace on-site, hands-on training.  So I got up earlier than usual, had less time for myself before haring off to work, and was there longer.  It was already late afternoon; if I were to wait an hour just because I was afraid to be struck by lightning, it would be evening.  So I walked through a mostly deserted city while the rain was pouring cats and dogs and the lightnings flew back and forth above me like heavenly electrical badminton.

This was just a warm-up for the night’s light show, it turned out.  I was peacefully using my computer when it started after dark.  I thought I heard something, so I went to the front door to check.  I did not open that door.  It has a translucent part, nothing you can see any shapes through, little more than whether it is night or day outside.  At this point, it should have been night. It was not.  It was a flickering, pulsating daylight.  And the sound of water coming down with an intensity I doubt I get in my shower.

Needless to say, I soon shut down and unplugged the home office and took out the phone contact.  Then I went to the living room, stood in the middle of the dark room and watched.  The lightning bolts followed each other so closely there was no time for darkness to return between them.  The sky was an electric pulsating white that seemed to come from all directions.  I can only think of one time before I have seen the like, and then only possibly.  It was during an exam in high school.  But this was in the night, and therefore even more impressive.

Luckily the mobile phone / handheld computer worked just fine, at least for data traffic.  I am not sure it would be wise to talk in it.  Or at least not listen.

The thunderstorm had passed when I went to bed, but the power tripped off once after that, and I was not sure whether there would be more of them.  So I went to bed early, still with my computers and network unplugged.

Before this had happened, however, I had downloaded two e-books. This was around the peak of my Okawa mania (I’d already ordered several of his books from Amazon, more about them later if I live and learn)  but then I found that two of them were available as e-books for a very comfortable price from So I bought and downloaded them, and put them on my iPaq. These were The Laws of the Sun and The Laws of Eternity, two of this three most famous books.  For some reason the middle book of the trilogy was not there, The Golden Laws. I’ve ordered it in print from Amazon though, but e-books are more practical.  They take up no space, the reader is small and unobtrusive, they are searchable, and I can jump straight to highlights if I reread them.  I usually don’t reread anything, but then again I don’t usually re-watch movies and I saw The Laws of Eternity at least three times.

The Laws of the Sun is a pretty weird book.  Parts of it reads like the setting for a sci-fi role playing game, with detailed information about a number of continents that supposedly rose from the ocean and fell back over the last million years, and their civilizations. Not to mention the various levels of Heaven and the souls who live there, and how this relates to life on Earth.  But at least Heaven is not scientifically disproved.  Actually, the celestial part largely agrees with my own intuition, which was why he caught my interest in the first place.

Also, there is the small thing about the author being the Buddha reborn (which, I am pretty sure, is blasphemy to Buddhists, since Nirvana is supposed to be the final dissolution, the end of the circle of rebirth.  For some reason Buddhists are fed up with being reincarnated and want OUT of it. At least Theravada Buddhists.  I am not sure why they think it is a bad thing, honestly.  It is like eternal life except you don’t remember it.  And let’s face it, if you lived for a billion years, how much would you remember even if you did not die?)

But in between the sci-fi part and the seeming blasphemy, there is a lot of profound spiritual stuff that fits right in with what I have accumulated through life on that front. It is really confusing in a way.  If he’s just some crazy guy or Japan’s answer to Scientology, where does he have the good stuff from?

But if I ever find that out, it will probably not be in a slice of life entry.  Probably. With my life, even slices can be pretty weird.