Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Epiphany, Eureka, and Inspiration

Epiphany, eureka, and inspiration are the peakest experiences a person can enjoy in this world. They dislodge stuckness and open up fresh insight, leaving us euphoric. Who wouldn't want that? They arrive, famously, in a flash, via a mysterious channel that's clearly distinct from everyday thinking.

These blessings stem from reframing, that’s all. Blind to our infinite freedom to shift perspective, we enjoy the beneficial aftermath of inadvertent shifts with befuddled gratitude. Since we haven't, as a species, fully framed our framing, major shifts seem to manifest as a thunderbolt from heaven; a gift from the muses. “What the hell was that?!?”

Feel free to exit here. That was quite enough to chew on, and below there be dragons. Please take your personal belongings with you. We know you have a choice of blogs, and we appreciate your business. Have a pleasant afternoon here or wherever your Internet surfing might finally take you.

God (or Spirit, or Muse, etc.) seems to deliver epiphany/eureka/inspiration because these things appear out of the blue, unrelated to - even disruptive of! - our thought-stream, which we falsely assume to be who/what we are. We forget that we are both thinkers and framers. So if we don't think it, it must be coming from someone else!

Highly creative people, with some inkling of their own reframing latitude, are sometimes deemed "touched by God" because they can periodically pull off small magic tricks, i.e. epiphany/eureka/inspiration. The faculty is notoriously fickle because, again, humanity hasn't quite framed its framing. Once you've framed a process, a clarity arises to make everything feel easy. And it's coming. The messiah will soon arrive, and he will be you.

The connection between reframing and epiphany/eureka/inspiration explains why this Slog belches up more insight than the average blog. I have a naturally lithe perspective, and am increasingly able to frame my framing - it's a work obviously in progress - making these outcomes more easily available (if there were some way to explain this stuff without seeming to boast, jesusfchrist I would do so in a millisecond, and thank goodness for sparse readership so I don't draw my deserved snark).

Epiphany, eureka, and inspiration are a whole other thing from the everyday, that's for sure. Everyone agrees on that. The flavor is utterly different from normal cognition. For one thing, this stuff arrives far more swiftly than thought does (contributing to the "thunderbolt from the blue" impression). As I once wrote,
Perceptual framing is instant. It can expand from microbe to Milky Way without the slightest latency. Once we make the flip, it always happens instantly.

A visceral experience of simple reframing can be had by "flipping" between the two views of this optical illusion:

You’ll notice there’s no lag whatsoever. It's not a process, which takes time and uses resources. It's an instant shift (once it happens), effected by the subtlest possible exercise of subjectivity. A choosing, nothing more (and it’s utterly monogamous; we can’t span multiple perspectives any more than we can simultaneously see both faces and chalice in that optical illusion).

The really big question is: who makes the choice?

I'll direct your attention to the noticeable fact that both options in the optical illusion pre-exist. The whole universe works like that, in fact. All notes are pre-struck, all options pre-exist, and we create the impression of external dynamism via an internal movement of attention. This entire big flashy show we find ourselves in is instigated and animated by the subtle exercise of subjectivity - by ceaseless internal framing. We select.
Per that last link (here it is again), this is also how we traverse/unfurl the multiverse. Each framing choice branches to a fresh parallel universe (did you really imagine we'd go to parallel universes via, like, spaceship?).
We become depressed when perspective freezes. The world appears to stall in a state of monotony. Fluidity is necessary for humans to enjoy their lives, and it’s generated by freely dynamic framing (never blame circumstance; it's all in your perspective!). Perspective freezes because we get lazy, and/or forget that it's we who choose; we who frame; we who shift. We forget we’re free. Freedom’s like a smartphone feature we’ve forgotten about.
Standard note: I'm working on a book of exercises to re-establish the ability to freely shift perspective; I'll need beta testers, so watch this space.
Not to further overload this brutally bottom-heavy posting, but here's a strange truth: you will become depressed even if perspective freezes on a spectacularly lovely framing. This is why very advanced meditators (and, come to think of it, new lovers) often become lethargic. Their bodies are depressed even though their minds relish unwavering delight. Bodies don't do well with unwaveringness of any sort, including "delight" (that's why we insatiably crave widely diverse experience, including so-called negativity). As perspective freezes, the world loses its worldliness.

Again, the big question is: who makes the choice?

Obviously, it's you. But is it the you with a name and a body and a back story? You were framing before you had a name, when your body was completely different and you'd accumulated none of the back story. Here I'm coaxing the reframing of all reframings, if only you'd care to shift. Again: who makes the choice? Here's a hint. The "you" with name and body and back story is a framing, not the framer.

None of this can be adequately explained in a 900 word essay, so the links are not pro-forma. They explain the assumptions underpinning these supremely counterintuitive conclusions. I've chosen to develop and explain these ideas - which are way more than dry philosophy (everything that makes your head throb isn't pointy-headed navel-gazing abstraction; this stuff is the key to being happy and creative and evading depression and understanding how the world actually works) - via the medium of blogging because it allows me to leave a breadcrumb trail. The breadcrumbs are essential!


Varsha said...

Been reading your blog all afternoon and I`m in heaven. Insight porn is my favorite genre and it`s always lovely to find a new blog like this. Eagerly looking for those workbook exercises. The hardest part about reframing is remembering that such a concept exists and bumbling my way through how to do it again.

Jim Leff said...

The word "porn" very nearly got you deleted, especially replying to an old posting!

Thanks for the comment!

The exercise notebook is hard because I've been interested in this stuff for so long that I'm fully out of touch with what it feels like for it to seem mysterious. And unless you can really empathize, it's impossible to guide (this Slog's already damnably confusing).

While I await that eureka, I can suggest stuff to fool around with. Two of the most popular framing avenues are forgiveness and humor (I talked about them here: https://jimleff.blogspot.com/2019/09/forgiveness.html and https://jimleff.blogspot.com/2020/02/humor-and-humorlessness.html). Those two are a lovely way to get started, because both are so familiar....though we may dole them out stingily (how many times have you heard that humor is inappropriate "at times like this").

Try foolling around with them, free-form, like a kid practicing wiggling his ears. See how easily you can make these shifts (especially when you're in an incompatible mood). After you've played with the machinery in every way you can imagine, gingerly start exploring deeper extremes (it's advanced work; don't try too soon or you'll be frustrated, or, worse, find yourself satisfied with a dryly abstract framing execution, more intellectual than actual, or, even worse, fall into a nihilism where "nothing matters". Nothing DOES matter, but it's a light and joyful conclusion, not mopey. Take your time, gradually digest what you discover, and slow-build the more dramatic stuff), e.g. can you forgive the most dastardly people? Can you joke about the worst tragedy that ever befell you?

There's a break-through point when we firmly but blithely push through what are immediately seen as arbitrary limits (and if you feel mopey/nihilist about it, you went too fast; as with any sadhana, self-pacing is eseential). If you push through via humor and forgiveness (which, again, are at least somewhat familiar), wielding them at will and all the way, then you can do the same JUST AS EASILY with surrender, discovering the de-mythologized and even banal truth of that realm. It's all just playful shifts of perspective, aka framing, which have always been freely available to you. It sounds fresh when I say it because I frame the framing differently! Hope the pep talk helps! Sincerely, Sri H.H. Some Stupid Blogger (Rinpoche)

Jim Leff said...

One more thing. No matter how we forget (and humanity's original sin is this forgetting), it never gets rusty. It's always solidly right there whenever you want to ply it. You might "bumble" with remembering to reframe (i.e. getting stuck in frozen perspective and projecting that stuckedness on the world rather than our own perspective of it), but reframing is our most innate skill, ever ready to be used.

Keeping it practical/pragmatic is smart, but if you want to get mind-bendy (not at all necessary for plying the reframing faculty), this series of postings explains the disquietingly actual basis for all this, which ties into, well, kind of everything: https://jimleff.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-visualization-fallacy.html

Blog Archive