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The Four Faces of Mara

Preface

In 2023, I did my first Darkness Retreat.

For four days, I lived in complete darkness.

One of my big insights was that I felt like a hypocrite.

I had discovered Existential Risk Theory in 2022 and it completely derailed my life. My dreams didn’t make sense anymore in the light of the truth that Western Civilization was caught in a malignant momentum that could cause an extinction event.

I began to talk and write passionately about existential risk, but as I attracted attention and admiration for it, I began to feel a subtle sense of self-loathing.

I didn’t have the language for it then, but I knew I was still spending almost all of my waking hours sleep-walking. Consistently contributing as an accomplice to the malignancy.

It wasn’t until my second darkness retreat a year later, in February of 2024, that I realized what I needed to do.

I needed to learn how to tell a good horror story.

My conception of a good horror story is something like Stephen King’s magnum opus The Stand.

Evil is real, it is powerful, people die, and yet, God (as the true, the good, and the beautiful) is present throughout the tragedy and carnage.

I realized I needed to cultivate my capacity to write horror for two reasons:

  1. horror will help me see the dark truths more vividly
  2. noticing the horrific aspects of our collective situation will help wake me up

Have You Seen The Movie Memento?

The horror story began 1,600 years ago when the Buddha began teaching about Samsara.

You likely have seen this picture before:

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This is how Buddhism represents Samsara.

I find the Nolan Brother’s movie Memento is a powerful modern symbol for what Buddha was attempting to describe almost two centuries ago.

The protagonist has Retrograde Amnesia. He has to create elaborate systems to help him remember.

Buddha was trying to let us know that we are all that protagonist.

What we’ve forgotten is that our mind is trainable, but until it is trained, it is unconsciously fused with the eternally unfulfilling pursuit of the desirable and the avoidance of the painful.

We forget the eternal truth that all phenomenon is transitory. Good and Bad.

We forget that the sense of being a separate self is an illusion.

When our untrained mind is unconsciously chasing the desirable and avoiding the painful, we are in a perpetual state of suffering.

The good news is Buddhism has produced an elaborate system for waking up.

But before we learn the system, let’s be brave and acknowledge the facts that reveal the horror story.

Introduction: The Attentional System

In order for the rest of this essay to make sense, we’ve got to learn a little cognitive psychology.

Your conscious mind is comprised of three distinct attentional systems.

  1. Alerting
  2. Orienting
  3. Executive

We’re born with the alerting system. It is the attentional system that detects when something in our awareness deserves focus.

The average neonate spends between 11% and 19% alert. The rest of the day they are in a kind dream state.

The Orienting system begins to activate around 7 months. This is the system that begins to process light and sound as a means to locate novel stimuli. This is the classic head-swiveling at the sound of a loud noise.

The orienting system takes about 4 years for it to full develop. Once it does, humans begin to exhibit what is called ‘Executive Attention.’

Executive attention grows out of orienting.

Orienting is instinctive, reflexive.

Executive attention is intentional orienting.

Executive attention is the capacity to place our attention where we want it to go. The degree to which humans can cultivate executive attention is what differentiates us from animals. And whether we like it or not, well-trained executive attention is the most powerful predictor for nearly every measurable kind of positive outcome we know how to measure in psychology.

When we first emerge into the world; our nervous system is trying to develop the capacity to focus. I imagine if a plant could shine a light like we do a flashlight, the first part of its development would be to arrange the biological architecture that could produce light.

Once that is stable, now the plant starts to swivel its light towards interesting things happening in the forest. As that capacity grows, eventually the plant realizes it has the capacity to aim its light.

However, aiming the light does not get rid of the reflexive orienting response. Executive Attention is in a constant state of dynamic tension with the instincts that govern the orienting response.

So our luminescent plant has the capacity to aim it’s petaled light, but its aim is constantly being pulled to different spots in the forest by our instincts.

In a simplified way, this is what the Buddha meant by karma.

There is a 4th attentional system called meta-cognition.

This is technically considered a quality of awareness (awareness is the twin sister to attention; they combine in all of us to produce our conscious experience moment to moment, from the birth of our consciousness until our death — and if the Buddhist cosmology is true, maybe after death).

Meta-cognition is the capacity to notice when our attentional system has fallen into an unconscious, automatic, distracted state.

When meta-cognition and executive attention play nicely with each other, we acquire the capacity to re-direct our attention back to where our intention would like it.

For the meditators, you’ll notice this dance between meta-cognition and executive attention is the crux of what meditation (in the style of the buddha taught it), is all about.

The life-changing insight I took 32 years to learn is this:

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What we in the west think samadhi means, what we lazily call enlightenment, is not the esoteric abstract thing we think it is. Samadhi is developing the capacity to effortlessly intend your attention to stay where you want it to stay, for as long as you want it to stay there.

Buddhism is a 1,600 year old scientific enterprise of the interior world (the mind).

Samadhi is not the end. It is a beginning.

What will you do now that you’re awake?

The Four Faces of Mara

In Buddhist lore, Mara is the King of Demons.

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When the Buddha finally awoke from under the bodhi tree, Mara noticed and was enflamed. So he rose over the horizon, filling the sky with his 10,000 children. The demons of lust, confusion, pride, envy, distraction, laziness, gluttony, sedation, and 9,000 others all flung their weapons towards the buddha.

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In response, the buddha placed two fingers to the earth, letting Gaia Sophia know he had awaken. She bore witness to his truth and pulsed a vibratory shockwave into Mara’s legion and all the demons and all their weapons turned to blooming flowers.

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The sky was filled with a 100,000 petaled mosaic of what happens when the awakened heartmind touches the children of Mara.

It’s one of my favorite stories, and I’ve conjured this image in some of my most harrowing transpersonal experiences, but we’re going to focus on Mara today.

Mara, the King of Demons, is a testament to how monumental the task was to wake up 1,600 years ago. Distractions, confusions, and the perpetual unconsciousness of the mind was so profound it warranted the symbol of Mara.

Humanity has been dancing with Mara since our first conscious thought.

Modern science, in close collaboration with the current living Buddhist masters, have been able to translate the symbol of Mara into four primary mental tendencies:

  1. Mindlessness
  2. Mindwandering (specifically Rumination)
  3. Multi-tasking
  4. Reactivity (Dukka)

In the following four sections, we’ll explore each of these more fully.

The good news; all four faces of Mara are alchemized by cultivating meta-cognition and training executive attention via concentration practices.

Note: from here on, when I say concentration, I mean executive function.

First Face: Mindlessness

The first face of Mara is what cognitive psychologists call Mindlessness.

Mindlessness is defined as:

“losing track of the task at hand or failure to maintain an attentional set. Everyday behavior becomes mindless when we lose track of why we are engaging in a given behavior.” Langer, Blank, Chanowitz, 1978

Mindlessness is when our attention melts into complete identification and fuses with the habit we’re currently engaged in, but the habit engaged is either out of context or fragmented.

Examples:

  • Walk into a room and forget why you’re there? Mindlessness.
  • On Instagram in the middle of the day? Do you know why you’re there? Mindlessness.
  • Ever read a paragraph of a book and forget totally what you had just read? Mindlessness.

Professor James Reason (what an awesome last name), studied these kind of lapses in a 1984 scientific article.

He found over 30 types of mindlessness lapses, which can broadly be summarized as:

  1. doing something without full attention
  2. forgetting the plan
  3. forgetting the intention
  4. having the feeling you should be doing something but forgot what it was
  5. acting differently then intended

Reason, 1984

Reason explains these lapses as temporary suspension of an executive attentional system resulting in some kind of cognitive or action system failure.

A review of the relevant literature flesh out the following causes of mindlessness.

Common cause of lapses:

  1. repeating same action mindlessly
  2. doing an intended action but to the wrong object
  3. unintended thoughts or actions intruding on the task at hand
  4. omitting intended actions
  5. boredom and/or sleepiness (Wallace, Vodanovich & Restino, 2003)
    1. Boredom is actually #1 predictor for lapses (Carriere, Cheyne & Smilek, 2008)
  6. a preoccupation with the past (Langer, 1992)
  7. when the current task is beyond our abilities (Smallwood et al, 2004)

The popular psychometric test, Mindful Attention Awareness (MAAS), defines mindlessness as:

“the presence or absence of attention to, and awareness of, what is occurring in the present.”

The creators of this test found that mindlessness is significantly correlated with cognitive errors.

The research on mindlessness could be summarized thus:

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Boredom leads to mindlessness and mindlessness leads to carelessness.

Most Westerners will find it surprising that boredom is one of the children of Mara. Boredom is a function of an untrained attentional system.

Mindlessness, the first face of Mara, can be dissolved through training concentration in the style the buddha taught.

I’ll make it clear later, but concentration training in the style the buddha taught, is the most effective protocol we currently have.

Brown, 2022.

Mindlessness’s Sibling: Distraction

Distracted Concentration is different than Mindlessness.

Researchers in this field make it clear to draw a disctiction between mindlessness and distracted concentration.

Mindlessness is when the attentional system has completely lost the intention of the ‘task at hand.’

Distracted concentration is when working memory is holding the intended context and intention, but is currently distracted by something else.

Mindlessness is completely forgetting you intended to write a paper for school and find yourself at the end of day baffled that you spent your evening texting and checking social media while the current show your binging passed from episode to episode in the background.

Distracted concentration is being interrupted by your phone buzzing while you’re reading this, taking a moment to check your phone to make sure it’s not an emergency, then turning it on do not disturb, placing it face down, and then returning to this essay.

The capacity to notice the distraction but not even need to check it, but to simply continue with the task at hand is called ‘sustained attention.’

One of the key skills Buddha’s concentration protocol cultivates is sustained attention, because one of the most enduring and sticky aspects of the untrained mind is what Buddhism calls ‘the problem of partial staying.’

The problem of partial staying is one of the most humbling processes I’ve ever been exposed to.

This is the phenomenon of the Westerner having to practice meditation for weeks or months to get to the point where they can finally recognize that they’re constantly partially staying with the breath.

I struggle with this every day when I meditate.

It looks like this:

I sit down and close my eyes. After a few minutes to allowing my mind to settle, I begin the intention of concentrating on my breath. The intention is to shine my concentrated attention into the phenomenon of the breath so fully that it occupies my entire attentional system.

I count to 10 breaths, and I start over if I notice I got lost in thought and forgot the current count. If I detect any shade of doubt as to what the count is, I start over (cuz that means I was wondering).

On good days I can get to 10 four or five times in 30 minutes.

But the truth is, it’s only on great days where I notice that the entire time I was meditating, and counting to 10, some sliver of my working memory was also enjoying commenting on how proud of myself I am, or some neat insight about my work, or remembering I should text someone back.

The problem of partial staying is not that my mind wandered; it’s that my mind was wondering while I believed I was focused solely on the breath.

We’ll explore it more later, but the solution here is to cultivate increasing the intensity of your concentration.

The important piece to remember: Buddha’s concentration protocol dissolves the problem of partial staying (if you stick with the practice).

Factors That Aggravate Distraction

  • Noisy, high-traffic homes correlate with less responsive mothers which correlates with more distracted children (Wachs, 1989)
  • High number of siblings correlate with less parental attunement which correlates with attentional disorders (Wachs, 1989)
  • Television correlates with attentional disorders (Green and Bavelier, 2003)
  • Use of the internet correlates with attentional disorders (Green and Bavelier, 2003)
    • Use of video games actually correlates with enhanced attentional capacity

The first face of Mara is the face of Mindlessness and her brother Distraction.

Second Face: Mindwandering

The second face of Mara is what cognitive psychologists call ‘Mindwandering.’

This section is nuanced, so let’s get clear on something before we dive in.

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Mindwandering itself is not bad. In fact, it is essential to a creative, fulfilled life. However, the default style of mindwandering found in Western cultures is not only not good, it might be the single most powerful cause of our historic discontent.

Research has discovered that most individuals, when not engaged in a task, default to a specific kind of cognition called mindwandering. This system is called the ‘Default Mode Network.’ This is considered “a physiological baseline of the human brain.”

Gusnard & Raichle, 2001, p. 688

The Default Mode Network is considered by western psychologists as ‘a physiological baseline of the human brain.’

Matthew Killingsworth (another incredible last name), and Daniel Gilbert found in a 2010 study that the average Western adult spends 46.9% of their waking day mindwandering.

It’s worth noting that the methodological design was self-report (using a program installed on their phone, ironically enough lol). It’s a known phenomena that people tend to unconsciously change their behavior when they know they’re being monitored and this effects self-reporting. It’s argued that this kind of ‘random sampling’ via a program on their phone reduces this effect.

I say that to say, if the reported number is 46.9%, my gut would bet it’s higher.

But let’s say it’s 50% of our waking life.

What does that mean?

What they found feels like modern science stumbling over Samsara.

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Killingsworth and Gilbert found that “mindwandering is significantly associated with everyday unhappiness.

They go on to say, in no unclear terms:

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“Mindwandering is the cause, not merely a consequence, of unhappiness.”

So, we have Gusnard & Raichle saying that mindwandering is the physiological baseline of the brain, and Killingsworth and Gilbert saying we spend 50% of our waking like in this state, and that it is the cause, not merely a consequence, of unhappiness.

This is one of the faces of Mara. Let’s get to know it a little deeper.

Triggers for Mindwandering

  1. cease engaging in or getting distracted from the task at hand
  2. becoming passive
  3. intending to rest or close eyes
  4. turning away from an active external orientation

Gusnard & Raichle, 2001; Mason, et al., 2007; Raichle et al., 2001; Raichle & Snyder, 2007

Mindwandering is characterized by a very specific kind of mental content:

  1. spontaneous cognition
  2. stimulus-independent thoughts
  3. momentary lapses in attention
  4. inner thoughts, fantasies, feelings, and musings (Smallwood & Schooler, 2006)
  5. spontaneous emerging personal autobiographical memories
  6. reviewing recent past experiences
  7. anticipation of immediate future experiences
  8. fantasies and reveries about the self

Buckner et al., 2008

Remember at the beginning of this section when I said mindwandering is not bad, but that the default style Westerners tend to mindwander is toxic?

It’s because mindwandering is technically different than what cognitive psychologists call ‘rumination.’

Mindwandering moves from topic to topic in a kind of pleasurable dreamy way.

Rumination is when our mind tends to get caught in a kind of circular thinking about something we want but don’t have, or something that is currently true that we don’t want to be, or something that might happen, but hasn’t yet, that feeds anxiety.

Rumination is the child of Mara that sneaks in through our mindlessness when we mindwander.

For most of us, most of the time, what happens is we begin mindwandering without intending to, and then we eventually land on a thought constellation that sucks us in like the gravity of a dark star. We might end up thinking for 30 minutes how our colleague disrespected us the other day then notice we drove on autopilot all the way home from work.

This kind of mindwandering has been found to be:

  • correlated with feelings of personal conflict and unresolved matters (Christoff et all., 2009)
  • an active attempt to process past trauma. (Traue & Pennebaker, 1993)
  • directly related to the development of psychopathology and certain psychiatric conditions. (Anticevic et al., 2012)

Note: If you find yourself mindwandering often towards memories that happened more than 9 months ago, you would likely significantly benefit from completing James Pennebaker’s Expressive Writing Protocol. If you want a modern version of this protocol with some extra goodies, check out the ‘Make Your Myth’ course I created. If you want a free resource, check out Andrew Huberman’s podcast on this technique.

A Reframing of the ‘Default’ Mode Network

Daniel P. Brown, the primary author I’m pulling most of the citations from, was an incredible human.

He once organized a conference for the Dalai Lama to come speak to a group of the highest tiered researchers in the country. One of the participants asked the Dalai Lama what his thoughts were on the Default Mode Network’s tendency to generate what is called ‘negative self talk.’

The Dalai Lama didn’t understand the question. He had to talk with his two translators for many minutes before he seemed to understand what was being asked.

He turned toward the crowd incredulous, and exclaimed “Why would you let the mind do that?”

Daniel Brown loves this story, and his professional opinion on it is revolutionary if true:

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The DMN’s negative self talk is a Western phenomenon, and that mind-wandering as the default mode is not universal, especially not in cultures where mind training is given to children

Daniel Brown was a Harvard professor; a world-leading authority on attachment disorders, a world-leading expert witness is cases involving hypnosis, and one of the most highly recognized Westerners in the the Buddhist culture.

He think’s mindwandering, the thing we do at least 50% of the time, and which is also highly correlated to our unhappiness, is optional. We can train our minds out of it.

Third Face: Multi-Tasking

The third face of Mara is Multi-tasking.

Multi-tasking is the belief and attempt to direct the conscious mind towards more than one task at a time.

Multi-tasking is a kind of blind arrogance. The research on multi-tasking is eye opening.

First, multi-tasking isn’t possible. Instead, what is happening is the attentional system rapidly ‘task switches’ between the different tasks.

(Koch et al., 2018; Yang et al., 2008; Zhang et al., 2015; Douglas et al., 2017)

Each task-switch resets our 15ish minute requirement to drop into deep focus.

(Monsell, 2003)

Task-Switching significantly slows performance on completing a task.

(Dove et al., 2000)

Task-Switchers don’t notice how badly their performance is impacted by attempting to multi-task. Not only do they not notice their impairment, they show a significantly inflated estimation of how well they did on the task compared to people who didn’t multi-task. (Sanbonmatsu et al., 2013)

A summary of the scientific literature: multi-tasking makes impairs your speed, effectiveness, and your self-awareness. It keeps you from dropping into focus, and it’s an illusion.

And the arrival of The Shimmer has amplified our cultural multi-tasking arrogance to Greek tragedy proportions.

The Shimmer’s Refraction of Multi-tasking

There are three types of Shimmer multitasking scientists have measured:

  1. combining Shimmer task with real life task
  2. combining tasks from two or more different Shimmer platforms (phone and computer)
  3. engaging in multiple tasks within the same Shimmer platform (listening to a youtube video and reading the comments)

Children who grow up with a television in the background have reduced sustained attention capacity.

Schmidt et al., 2008

Cultivating the habit of watching tv while being on your phone is correlated with “reduced ability to filter out interference from irrelevant stimuli.”

Lin, 2009, p. 15521

Kids who use The Shimmer a lot do worse on tests that require task-switching compared to low-shimmer use kids, because they regularly let irrelevant information seep into their attention.

Ophir et al., 2009

High-frequency Shimmer multitaskers “showed poorer performance on measures of academic performance, working memory tests…and worse statewide scores on standardized tests.”

Cain et al., 2016

Heavy Shimmer task-switchers show impaired working memory, even when no distractors are present, which likely impairs their ability to create long-term memories; they also show higher rates of impulsivity which impair their performance on intended tasks.

Uncapher, Thieu, and Wagner, 2016

A study done by Loh and Kanal, 2015 sums up the third face of Mara and it’s amplification by the Shimmer:

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“The Internet is reshaping human cognition.”

Kids who grew up in The Shimmer “gravitate toward shallow information-processing behaviors characterized by rapid attention shifting and reduced deliberation. They engage in increased multitasking behaviors that are linked to increased distractibility and poor executive control abilities.”

If you’re reading this and know this section applies to you, check out the following three Cal Newport books. They helped me more than anything else.

  1. Deep Work
  2. Digital Minimalism
  3. Slow Productivity

And like the first two faces of Mara, the Buddha’s contraction training protocol can dissolve our modern addiction to task-switching.

Fourth Face: Dukka

The day after the Buddha awoke under the Bodhi tree, he walked to the nearby town Sarnat, and gave his first teaching on the Four Noble Truths.

The first truth has often been translated as ‘life is suffering,’ but this is not an accurate translation.

A more accurate translation of Dukka is ‘reactivity.’

Translated into modern language, Dukka is the vast network of unconscious habits we’ve accumulated up into the present moment that produce suffering.

Daniel Brown emphasizes;

“It is important to not translate dukka as suffering (it hides the method). When it is translated as Reactivity, the method is revealed. If you learn to notice the inherent reactivity of the mind, you can change it.”

Our reactivity is primarily encoded in us via our childhood attachments.

Whatever your painful patterns are; in intimate relationships, in your inner dialogue, in your patterns with money, your weight, your appearance, the perpetual feelings of unworthiness, or unlovableness, all of it is what the Buddha meant by Dukka.

This is the fourth face of Mara.

The West has erected a vast armory of attempted therapies to address the myriad ‘mental disorders’ that arise from our dukka.

Some work partially, many don’t work.

What Daniel Brown referred to as ‘the method’ in the above quote is Buddha’s concentration training protocol.

A 1,600 year long trail of contemplative researchers all share the same discovery:

If Dukka is the water most of us spend most of our time drowning in, training concentration is learning how to swim.

Let’s go learn how to do it.

The Elephant Path

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In The Elephant Path: Attention Development and Training in Children and Adolescents by Michelle G Bissanti M.Ed., Daniel P. Brown, Ph.D., & Jae Pasari, Ph.D., they reviewed all the literature on what actually improves executive attention and meta-cognition and their prescription is that most mindfulness meditation protocols don’t actually improve either executive attention or meta-cognition.

What does?

The kind of concentration meditation found in what is called ‘The Elephant Path.’

The Elephant Path, written by Asanga in 506 AD, originally called ‘The Nine Stages of Staying, is said to have been ‘downloaded’ to Asanga by the future Buddha Maitreya!

Imagine my surprise, after reading 176 pages of dense scientific writing to then read this sentence.

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Anyways, the Nine Stages has been the fundamental protocol for all schools in the Indo-Tibetan Mahayana lineage has used for over 1,500 years. Brown, 2022

The Elephant Path is a 9 stage protocol that trains concentration. I’ll explain the first level, then provide what is regarded as the best modern book for beginners interested in starting The Elephant Path.

Starting Point: The Ordinary Wandering Mind

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The ordinary wandering mind is represented by the wild elephant. It runs after whatever catches it’s attention (reflexive orienting without executive attention or meta-cognitive awareness).

The monkey represents the reflexive orienting system.

This is called the ‘chasing after mode.’

In the Elephant path picture, there is a meditator following the elephant. He has two tools.

A rope and an elephant prod.

The rope represents concentration (anchoring the elephant to an object of concentration, such as the breath).

The elephant prod represents meta-cognitive awareness. The meditator consistently prods himself to notice if unconscious mind-wandering is happening.

When detected, the meditator activates the rope of concentration. It is also the elephant prod that assesses when new meditation strategies need to be used, such as doing light stretching before meditating to calm the tendency of fixating on tight muscles.

There are three main tools of concentration used on the Elephant Path:

  1. directing concentration to the object
  2. engaging the concentration object more intensely
  3. applying meta-cognitive awareness to detect distraction and stay on task

Think about when you enter the Shimmer.

If you don’t explicitly know what your intention in the Shimmer is, you did not bring your rope of concentration. This means your elephant will be stampeding in a casino-style fun house of hyper-stimulation that trains mindlessness and multi-tasking.

However, if you enter the Shimmer with an intention, your intention can become your rope of concentration.

Last night I wanted to read a post I saw on Instagram the day before. I opened my phone and saw my wallpaper (please feel free to copy this):

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I said to myself that I would spend less than 10 minutes, and I would only look at the post I intended to look at. I downloaded the app (I delete it after each use), avoided clicking on any stories or looking at my scrolling feed (which is designed to mimic the addictiveness of a slot machine), and looked at just the post I wanted to.

I still ended up looking at other posts from the artist who created the original post, which if I’m honest, was a lapse in attention. But once my 10 minute alarm went off, I had a metacognitive moment of realizing my mind had wandered, allowed the humbling truth to land in my awareness, then closed and deleted the app.

The second tool of concentration is intensifying. This is when we use concentration to notice more vividly the details of the object of concentration.

Have you ever noticed when you’re scrolling in the Shimmer when you start skipping every story or reel even if you like it? Noticing this can serve as a cue that you are currently in a bout of mindlessness. After noticing this, you can choose to bring your full attention to the next post, reel, or story, and attempt to intensify your concentration on it.

Once that next piece of content passes by, get off the app and delete it for the day. Your mind is telling you that you’re distracted.

The third tool, meta-cognition, is essentially the capacity to notice the repeated lapses in concentration, and then enact new strategies to aid in ‘staying awake.’

Meta-cognition notices you need to delete or block social media apps on your phone during the day (if you don’t have the willpower to ignore their temptation). Meta-cognition notices when you ‘hate follow’ someone (you follow them to bask in your judgement of them).

Brefczyski-Lewis et al. (2007) found that the main difference between beginning and advanced concentration meditators was whether the meditator activated the right dorsalateral-prefrontal cortex, the meta-cognitive neuro-circuitry of the brain. The difference between beginning and advance meditators had little to do with number of years meditating, but mainly to do with whether meta-cognition was utilized as a skill, as a way to self-correct and improve concentration strategies.

Meta-cognition is the foundational skill to cultivate.

Want to Start The Elephant Path?

It’s the way.

The Mind Illuminated by John Yates Ph.D., is regarded as the best beginner text written in English.

Buddha In The Shimmer

To summarize, the four faces of Mara have been the source of human suffering since we developed a conscious mind.

The effects of Mara have been amplified by the Shimmer.

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Meditation, in the style of The Elephant Path, is the most empirically effective protocol humanity has produced for dissolving the faces of Mara.

But what would the Buddha do in the age of the Shimmer?

In an age where the dominate world culture is sick with the spirit of Moloch, that this sick culture has the means to trigger an extinction event, and that this culture has produced the Shimmer, which is amplifying Moloch’s malignant distortion, what would he teach?

I’m no buddha, but my current response is:

  1. Meditate
  2. Do Dharma Sprints
  3. Eat Death Cookies
  4. Share Art