The little we can

“Is it okay if I’m not perfect?” Yes, it is OK, it is only natural. It is to be expected. Very few of us can do much, but if we do the small things at the right time, we will be okay.

I wonder if people – those who notice me at all – think of me as something like the “1%” which people like to hate and envy in America because they are super rich. Not that I am rich by first world standards, but I mean, the envy is probably because people think “those guys have an easy life, while I have it tough.” And I can see why one would think the same about me.

I don’t think there are any, certainly not many, who really have it easy. Well, arguably those who are Enlightened, but usually there is a long and stony road to there. Anyway, not about Enlightenment this time. This is for the rest of us (?) who can’t do miracles even in our own lives.

You may think everything would be easier if you had more money, and I suppose if you are dirt poor that is true. But the happiness that can be bought with money fades very quickly, and you need something more grand to replace it. The joy you got from your first bike is something you can’t get again by buying a new bike once you’ve gotten your first car. Or your first Rolls Royce. You see what I mean? You have to top yourself the whole way, if you seek joy through purchases. This is why rich people say stupid things like “it is not easy for us either, the yacht took almost my whole Christmas bonus.” You probably say just as stupid things if someone in Congo could hear you.

Perhaps you resent me for being in the 1% who can eat all day and not get fat. (Actually I can’t eat all day. If I eat dinner when I come home from work, I stay full until bedtime. But you know what I mean. I never need to be hungry to stay seemingly slim.) Actually, it was not always like that. I was 20 pounds heavier for much of my adult life, until I had an illness in 2005 and became unable to digest fatty foods. You may envy me that if you want, and I will heartily welcome you to share my blessing if possible. But remember, if you eat cakes or steak or a plate of French fries, you’re gonna be so sick that you are ready to write your last will and testament. All things have their price. I did not really have the strength of will to lose weight before, although I have it now that I don’t need it…

Or you may resent me for being able to take long walks in the beautiful Norwegian nature. I guess that is something to be thankful for. But the truth is that when I come home from work, sitting down a few minutes seems like a great idea. And once you sit down, getting up is pretty hard. Norway may have a wonderful nature, but mine is so-so.

Getting up from the couch in front of the TV is probably hard. I don’t have that problem since I don’t have a TV, but getting up from a game of Sims 3 or City of Heroes is not all that easy either. This is not special for you or me. A well-known female trainer here in Norway wrote a while ago: “It is not like I don’t want to sit on the couch and eat chocolate too. But then I press PLAY and the music begins to move my body.” That was her trick to get moving: She had a source of music at hand, loaded with rhythms that filled her with energy. Once she was up and moving, she was OK. Most of us are. It is the mile from sitting to standing that is the hardest. The next mile is easy.

Another essay I read recently was by someone who had studied the nature of habits, and learned something important: Don’t set high goals. Or rather, you can have high aspirations, but your immediate goals must be so easy that you would feel stupid not reaching them. His example: Promise yourself that you will put on your running shoes when you come home from work. Don’t make a resolution to run every day, or at all. Just this: Put on the shoes. Once you have your shoes on, you can decide whether you want to take them off, or want to take a walk in them, or go running for a few minutes or for a long time. There may be all sorts of good reasons for one or the other. Just start with putting the shoes on. Unless you are ready for the ambulance, you can do that much.

And this is my sermon to you, dear congregation. ^_^ Let us put our shoes on. We can do that much. Let us put the music player handily by the couch, let us hide the snacks in the cupboard somewhere far from the TV or computer monitor. Small things like that. Things we can do, even though we are so much weaker than we wanted to be. Or you can do what I do, write a journal entry and let God or Fate read it, like when I joked that my New Year’s resolution was to lose weight without eating less or exercising more. Karma is a bit of a bitch though. I would recommend doing the little we can instead.

Why walking is like anime

Never gonna give up

Screenshot from the anime Eyeshield 21, a recent sports anime. Like most of them, it’s about never giving up.

OK, let me explain the weird title. You know that there are young people who shut themselves in their rooms and watch anime (Japanese cartoons) and read manga (Japanese comic books) all day. Well, more or less. I think that is quite understandable. Japanese serial art is quite advanced and there is a broader range of it than we are used to in the west. In Japane, it is perfectly normal even for housewives and old folks to read comics, as there are series for all kinds of people and all kinds of interest.

For natural reasons, sports series are mostly enjoyed by the young. It typically has young protagonists, often in high school. There is some chaste romance, lots of comradeship, rivalry, and people finding noble motivations for doing their best. And of course there is the whole part about getting better and better. Just when you think you have reached the limit, some new challenge makes it necessary to become even better. Well, life is often like that when you are young. And later too, although it tends to involve work more often than sports for most of us.

Now, there may be thousands of animated TV series, but I doubt any of them has ever been about walking. There are limits to how boring things you can make interesting. But the same principles apply.


Last spring I decided to increase my walking from an hour on Saturday to an hour every other day, more or less. The thing that got me started was a couple scientific articles documenting that exercise at the level of fast walking could prevent and actually reverse cancer, as well as various other illnesses. So I began taking these walks regularly. I soon made it a habit to walk for an hour each day unless it was raining.

After only a few weeks, I noticed that I had to walk longer than before to fill that hour – meaning I walked faster – and yet I burned fewer calories (according to my pulse watch). I joked that if this continued, I would eventually be able to move from one place to another just by thinking about it. Of course that is not how it works: Practice does not actually make perfect, but it still makes you pretty good. I had to run a few steps now and then to keep the pulse at the same level as it had been while just walking.

In the summer, I met my first major challenge: Pain in my right foot. It grew rapidly worse, and for a while it was all I could do to get to my job and back. But after I moved, my foot healed rapidly and I began walking even longer, including over fairly large hills. I lost weight and my pulse got even lower than it already was.

In fall, I ran into a more serious challenge. My heartbeat began to grow irregular some days, and one afternoon while I was out walking, my pulse increased to its maximum and stayed there for a while, even when I was resting. Luckily I was near a school and someone called an ambulance. So this was exactly the kind of dramatic turn that you would expect from an anime. What will our hero do now?

Well, I went back to walking after some days, but without pressing myself as much as before. With the coming of winter, roads became slippery and I only walked when necessary. As soon as the ice left the roads, I started walking again.

Recently, the heart palpitations have come back, and I have had two episodes of tachycardia (racing heart). I am on the waiting list to talk with a doctor and have some measurements of my heart while I am walking, hopefully. In the meantime, I am walking, but mostly for half an hour instead of an hour.

Of course I am hoping that the story will progress the way any good anime should: Somehow we will get around the obstacle and I will continue to walk faster and faster, until I can run like the wind. OK, not really realistic with my exercise asthma, I guess. But I can sustain a combination of jogging and walking (mostly walking with brief jogs) already, so if I don’t have to worry about the heart, I should be able to train myself eventually to jog without triggering the asthma. That would be a lot of fun.

Of course, another recurring theme in sports anime is where the hero dies and the real main character swears to take up his mantle and win to honor his memory and show that he made a difference in the world. I would rather prefer this story to not have that ending, as you can imagine! But in the unlikely case that you read this after my passing – well, there is always that. The world needs its heroes – even the world of walking. For now, I shall be quite happy to play my part though!


Temptation to preach

The doors to the sixth dimensional Realm of Light are opening

The doors to the sixth-dimensional Realm of Light are opening, in one of my favorite sequences from the anime “The Laws of Eternity”. I have borrowed the terminology from this anime and the corresponding book by Ryuho Okawa, but the actual experience was almost disturbingly familiar when I read about it.

We who feel at home with the 6-dimensional Realm of Light have a tendency to want to lead or guide others. Not because we like to lord it over others, but because they badly need guidance, even ours. A lot of us fall into the general category of “teacher”, even if not necessarily as a job title. Because we have “seen the light” as the saying goes (although to varying degree) we would love to share this with others. That, however, is easier said than done.

When we talk about spiritual matters, it is not in the way of someone who has read books. This applies even if we actually have read books. The reason for this is that when we read books, or in other ways come across some piece of Truth, it resonates with our heart and it is this resonance, which is our own (in a manner of speaking, since all is a gift) which we retain.

The Truth hits us with the force of revelation: a sharp insight, like a bright beam of light, a wow factor. It is not like learning French verbs which you need to repeat until you remember them. It is like finding a missing puzzle piece that, once put in place, stays in place, and changes the picture permanently. It usually fills us with joy, but sometimes it shocks us, or drives us to repentance. It is “really something”. It is active, it changes us. This is how a piece of Truth differs from a piece of fact. The “realm of light” could also be called “realm of truth” in this sense. There is actually much greater and purer Truth further up, as we can see from the saints (who surpass this) but this is probably the level where we start to have these wow experiences repeatedly. So, we could call this the realm of insight, the realm of inspiration, the realm of revelation perhaps.

The theoretical knowledge that contained the “piece of Truth” may even focus on something else, and remains theoretical if we remember it at all. It is the part that resonates that we remember and which remains alive to us. The revelation, to use a religious word. I don’t mean by this that we hear voices and see angels, well most of us don’t. But it hits us with the force of revelation, is what I mean.

It is an absolute conviction, to approximately the same degree that we tend to believe our own eyes. I may concede that it is possible that these things are not real, but I would do so in the same way I may concede that my body is not actually real and I may live in some virtual reality, Matrix-style or otherwise. It is possible in a philosophical sense, but I’ll nevertheless continue to assume that what I perceive as real, really is real.

But still, there is a huge difference between absorbing something through resonance and actual practice. What we can see is a lot more than we can do – or at least that is the case for me. I may have a conviction, and I may have an understanding that is so alive and free that you could wake me up in the night and ask me to speak for five minutes or an hour about the things that belong to the Realm of Light, I believe. I have not actually tested this, but apart from the physical pain of talking (after all these years of mostly silence) it should not be a problem. I should not need a manuscript, or to look up something in a book, or anything except enough water to not lose my voice. This is what I believe, based on how ridiculously easy it is to write and write and write and write about these things.

But I don’t really live the kind of life that a spiritual teacher lives. The Voice in my heart certainly could keep going for a thousand years, is what I believe, but if I were to tell all of that, I would condemn myself by all the un-practiced knowledge. The iceberg would tip over and disaster would ensue. What I should do is hide the words in my heart and let them change me.

But it sure is tempting to preach. I am torn by my urge to say all the words that should be spoken, before they are lost forever. But it is not really my job to teach you everything and remind you of everything. The Voice in your heart will do that. All I should do is resonate on the same wavelength, so as to wake people up to what is already there.

An immense beyond

A breakthrough of LightAn immense Beyond will one day burst forth and absorb the universe?

I want to share a quote from Frithjof Schuon. It is eerily double in its meaning. Perhaps you don’t find it as spine-tingling as I do, but let’s give it a try:

Our world is but a furtive and almost accidental coagulation of an immense beyond, which one day will burst forth and into which the terrestrial world will be reabsorbed when it has completed its cycle of material coagulation.

Schuon means this in a metaphysical sense; that is his area of expertise, after all. But lately, theoretical cosmologists have come to almost exactly the same description of the physical universe.

You are no doubt familiar with the “Big Bang” hypothesis about the origin of our universe. But what has gained less attention is the “cosmic inflation scenario”. In this, which is our best approximation to facts so far, the Big Bang was not actually the start of our universe. Well, it was a prerequisite for it, but the energy (for lack of a better word) of the Big Bang is not contained within our known universe. Rather, our universe appeared as a bubble of “false vacuum”, most likely one of a myriad such bubbles (although we will never be able to know, since we cannot see beyond our bubble).

Yes, what became our universe was simply a bubble in the stream that flowed from the Big Bang, a limited area that was filled with fields of potential – protoenergy, perhaps we could call it – which later coagulated into matter and energy as we know them today. The current laws of nature did not appear until this bubble universe coalesced from a field-filled bubble into actual space, time, matter and energy. (And dark matter and dark energy, presumably, about which we only know that they probably exist, not what they are.)

According to this theory, it is more probable than not that an enormous number of “universes” exist, with a varying number of dimensions, with and without matter and energy as we know them or some other waves and particles that may have a similar relation to each other as our energy and matter have in our known universe. If these universes don’t share any forces or particles that interact with ours, they could occupy the same space and time and we would never know. Of course, it is not obvious that they have space and time at all, they could have completely different dimensions.

According to the same theory, it is not at all obvious that our configuration is the most stable. If it is not, then elementary particles will eventually decay and the universe will evaporate. Or another universe might burst into ours and engulf ours, triggering a change in our natural laws that would make the universe spontaneously change into a different configuration. There is no particular reason why matter and energy should continue to exist indefinitely. There is however an extremely high probability that they will do so for many millions and even billions of years yet, so this is not exactly something scientists lose sleep over.


Atheists generally assume that consciousness is a more or less accidental function of matter and energy. Schuon, on the other hand, holds the opposite to be true: Consciousness is pervasive, the form it takes is accidental. In our universe, consciousness settles in certain configurations of atoms, but this could not have happened unless the universe was already permeated by consciousness. Much like energy and matter cannot be created or destroyed by natural processes, information theory says that information can also not be created or destroyed, only transformed. It is then no big leap of faith to assume the same for consciousness, as the next step up from matter – energy – information. Well, for metaphysicists it is not; for physicists, it may be too big a leap, perhaps.

But in any case, regardless of whether we will be around in some form to witness the end of the universe, it is still an amazing thing to speculate about. In a manner of speaking, our mind is already present at the Big Bang through the power of our imagination. If we were to know enough about the end of the universe, we would in a manner of speaking be able to “fore-see” it with our mind’s eye. The human mind, as I have said before, is not bound tightly to the flow of time. We constantly make jumps backward in time (memory) or forward (anticipation), showing that we ourselves belong to a higher dimension than the fourth dimension of time. If not, we could not traverse it with our mind.

This fifth dimension, through which we can break “the fourth wall”, is itself part of the immense beyond. So it seems likely, in a way, that the end of the universe need not be the end of consciousness. That said, most of us would probably prefer to stay in this “coagulated” universe as long as possible. ^_^

Wrote fiction today

I wrote a short story today, and was in fact planning to upload it as today’s entry. But I decided against it. I always try to write the truth, a lot of truth and nothing but the truth, or when I write about fiction, it is the actual creative process and not the finished (?) story.

Besides, it was more realistic sounding than much of what I write that is actually true, so that might cause some confusion. Disclaimers are nice and all, but after a while they may be forgotten while stories remain.

If it becomes a habit, perhaps I will make a third journal for my fiction. ^_^

Everyone else too

“I have trouble talking to people who look like they have friends” says this girl. Not all pains or disabilities are visible on the body.

“Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.” I was surprised to see this attributed to Plato, and by all accounts this is just a way to add authority to it. It is not much over a century old. But the idea itself has certainly been true since Plato and before. It is also a fundamental tenet in Buddhism, although not a direct quote there.

If we look at it simply, we can say that people experience suffering from their body, from their mind, and from their relationship with other people. It is rare to meet anyone who does not have at least two of these three more or less constantly, or at least frequently. Some carry all three of these burdens at the same time.

Even if you do not see a person wince in pain, chances are they still have their afflictions. And if not directly painful, then certainly limiting. Some weakness of the body, or some phobia, or some obligation to a family member, may keep one from the path in life that they have always been longing for. You cannot see such a thing and will not hear about it unless you learn to know them well, perhaps. But these things are very common even among those who seem successful.

Of course there are differences, and some people are simply luckier. But it is not easy to know which. It is not always those who complain the most who carry the heaviest burden, far from it.

We should understand that everyone else too is carrying a burden, and cut them some slack at the least, if we cannot help them. Unfortunately people will sometimes lash out, not knowing the other person, adding insult to injury and salting the wounds. Sometimes we may have to act to protect one person from another, to stop an injustice, but to attack simply because we are irritated or upset is not a good thing.

One of the things I have learned from Happy Science is to notice this, that illness tends to make us self-centered. If we experience pain, the first thing we drop is helping others. This is not in itself evil, for we also have an obligation to look after our own body. If we let it continue to grow sicker because we exert ourselves, we will soon be unable to even care for ourselves, even when we otherwise could have done so. But there is a seductive side to this being excused from our duties. It is something we can get addicted to, and make use of more than is right. It may even turn into a subconscious desire to fall ill, for those who are weary of their duties and wish to relax. So that is something to be aware of.

Of course I am thinking of my own recent experiences when I say this. We each have to look out for our own tendencies and temptations first and foremost.

But even those who don’t write about it on the Net, have their struggles. Let us be kind, let us be merciful. Would we not hope to meet that kind of good will ourselves on our day of need?