Identity

I was in an art class a few weeks ago discussing the topic of identity. This particular little thing took me a lot longer than everyone else it seemed and seemed to consume my thoughts at home with a need for just the right felt tip pens to finish it off. It was a breathe of fresh air after being confronted with weeks of writer’s block and a near total lack of creative and philosophical inspiration. Perhaps it’s true what my old friend from university said that I miss the visual creativity and my subconscious is crying out for a return to the media. Or perhaps it was a precursor to a conversation I had days after beginning this project with someone I care about very much. This person, following a mental break, reflects and makes art from what they were feeling at the time, finding it near impossible to verbalize feeling like a ‘snail mushroom’.

Strange how an oversized doodle is the only thing that has brought me any real creative interest over the past fortnight as the days become shorter and the nights become a little more restless each day. What then, can I learn from my own expression of identity aside from being a big nerd with a thing for sci-fi?

I ask myself this, in the stoic sense: what purpose does my action serve? Or perhaps, when it comes to writing on philosophy or creativity, what does my inaction serve? My mind moving from one little project to the next, drifting through thought processes in a fever dream of obscure fleeting ideas. I am comforted, however, as should you be, that everything in a rut has been experienced before and will continue to be experienced by the human nature. Which is almost ingrained in our identity as Star Wars references are ingrained in mine. I tell people all the time who claim to be feeling alone that they are not truly alone in what they are feeling as otherwise words would not exist for it in the first place. Obviously, feeling like a ‘mushroom snail’ is a little more niche which requires some other advice for that one but you get my point.

We drift through this existence always, as I have been drifting in my own. I think back to the advice from a friend: where is your action. I ask myself this, but then I ask, what is in my nature to act for and what does that mean for who I am? It’s something we all need to ask ourselves, isn’t it? Who we are before we act. Or perhaps alternatively, it is what we chose to act upon and how we act that defines our identity more than our innate being itself.

I was reading a few weeks ago that events and personality traits formed from events leave markers on DNA and can be passed through to offspring. So if a person is identifiably callous, the child shall have traits of callousness. It seemed a bit questionable and sparked another internal debate about condition versus nature. Going back to my own pseudo-theory that:

Biology + Condition = Person

So I look to my doodle, one that I seemed to spend so much time on when I could have been mind mapping ideas for short stories, full length novels and screenplays. I see perhaps only 2 things within it that relate to biological function rather than condition. Those being: the representation of sexual identity and the constellation of Taurus, showing my birthdate (vaguely). Or perhaps, I am being cynical of my own development, claiming to be a being entirely made of other people’s creations and influence. Perhaps the stack of books under my coffee of the philosophers and spiritual leaders are a biological factor. Perhaps human nature is instinctively driven to search for meaning, for the divine path, for the harmony with The Way and all of its manifestations. Perhaps that’s the point of this very minor exercise, to reflect on that fundamental truth that all things we experience as human beings are in our nature to experience and come together as ultimately the collective human identity as well as the identity of the individual. Each element representing a deeper complexity from the strange fascination with the unknown represented by Cthulu to the desire to explore and find purpose in the stars with the U.S.S Voyager.

Or perhaps, it’s really not that deep and doodling at work to stop me from counting the ceiling tiles over and over again is just that. Who knows, give it a try for yourself, let me know what you find. If anything to save you from counting ceiling tiles.

Quick Quote Post: 14

Tonight I was apart of a roleplaying event, and a quote came up from one of the players whose character is a drunkard swashbuckling space pirate. On the topic of the character killing people for profit and being judged for it, a phrase came up:

“Isn’t it ignorant to judge another’s lifestyle?” – X

I thought about this, in reflection of a stoic sense outside of the Jedi context, and I turned to Marcus Aurelius for comment where I had none.

“Whenever you are offended by someone’s lack of shame, you should immediately ask yourself: ‘So is it possible for there to be no shameless people in the world?’ It is not possible. Do not then ask for the impossible. This person is just on of the shameless inevitably existing in the world. Have the same thought ready for the rogue, the trator, every sort of offender. The recognition that this class of people must necessarily exist will immediately make you kinder to them as individuals. Another useful thought of direct application is the particular virtue nature has given us to counter a particular wrong. Gentleness is given as the antidote to cruelty, and other qualities to meet other offences. In general, you can always re-educate one who last lost his way: and anyone who does wrong has missed his proper aim and gone astray.

And what harm have you suffered? You will find that none of these who excite your anger has done anything capable of affecting your mind for the worse: and it is only in your mind that damage or harm can be done to you – they have no other existence.

Anyway, where is the harm or surprise in the ignorant behaving as the ignorant do? Think about it. Should you rather blame yourself, for not anticipating that this man would make this error? Your reason gave you the resource to reckon this mistake likely from this man, yet you forgot and are now surprised that he went wrong.

Above all, when you complain of disloyalty or ingratitude, turn inwards on yourself. The fault is clearly your own, if you trusted that a man of that character would keep his trusts, or if your conferred a favour without making it an end in itself, your very action its own and complete reward. What more do you want, man, from a kind act? Is it not enough that you have done something consonant with your own nature – do you now put a price on it? As if the eye demanded a return for seeing, or a the feet for walking. Just as these were made for a particular purpose, and fulfil their proper nature by acting in accordance with their own constitution, so man was made to do good: and whenever he does something good or otherwise contributory to the common interest, he has done something what he was designed for and inherits his own.” – Meditations 9.42

Perhaps space piracy is not what Aurelius had in mind when he discussed this point. Yet, who knows, maybe he did or maybe applications of curing cruelty with gentleness and meeting ignorance with expectation and indifference were as relevant in the 1st Century as they are in a galaxy far, far away.

Z3N0

Sweet Spot

I find myself in at a bit of a loose end when it comes to hobbies and career with both things seemingly rather vacuous and without any real fulfilment. Currently as it is, my hobbies of gaming and roleplaying have been a little lacklustre as well as my own visions of returning to work and the routine. This great fatigue seems rather endless and as such, I have turned to the old faithful of Marcus Aurelius:

“Live through life the best way you can. The power to do so is in a man’s own soul, if he is indifferent to things indifferent. And he will be indifferent if he looks at these things both as a whole and analysed into their parts, and remembers that none of them improses a judgement of itself or forces itself on us. The things themselves are inert: it is we who procreate judgements about them and, as it were, imprint them on our minds – but there is no need for imprinting at all, and any accidental print can immediately be erased. Remember too that our attention to these things can only last a little while, and then life will be at an end. And what, anyway is the difficulty in them? If they are in accord with nature, welcome them and you will find them easy. If they are contrary to nature, look for what accords with your own nature and go straight for that, even if it brings you no glory. Anyone can be forgiven for seeking his own proper good.” – Meditations 11.16

It’s hard not to spiral into a strange stagnant despair of things and to stop the thought process before it takes off is the challenge of us all. Which is worsened by watching the world and observing the actions of world leadership, those who ideally we are to aspire to look up to, abandon their own obligations to themselves and each other, giving up or acting with obsessive passion to achieve nothing but more mess. Yet then, like Aurelius says, it is the job of the stoic to look for what accords with your own nature, and remove the impression and judgement.

“Unhappiness, is a sign one has lost one’s balance. – Barsen’thor, Star Wars: The Old Republic

I find that more and more the true balance is much more challenging than riding a bike, which was difficult for me enough as it is. But like riding a bike, when you get it, you just get it and you never forget. You have to block it all out, all that distraction and noise and focus on what is in accordance with you, within. Because you will find it. Finding that sweet spot of time and space that allows you to breathe and seeks out both the detail and big picture in harmony and see past a thing with total understanding and unmoving eyes is something that becomes a habit.

It can be applied to any problem or impression ultimately but it is not a case of not having emotions of a thing or being blind to the emotions of others, but understanding them and not letting them overwhelm or control. In the end, the only thing you can control is yourself never circumstance, even when you feel like you have no control over the self, in fact you do, it just requires that aforementioned sweet spot.

One such experience, is finding myself dismissive of things that would once annoy the hell out of me. The root cause: ignorance, both malicious and accidental. It’s not person or people but ideas born of ignorance, which leads to fear, and …

Fear is the path to the dark side … fear leads to anger … anger leads to hate … hate leads to suffering.” – Yoda, The Phantom Menace

Et cetera.

When we learn to become dismissive of these things – by being indifferent to things indifferent – and understanding that hatred is just a key to unlocking more of our own suffering at the hands of a concept or ideology and our impressions of them, it’s like a weight being lifted. It’s something that I personally had to experience and have multiple times with my own anger towards individuals, actions and concepts ranging from the hubris of Western military intervention to the all consuming insecurities of a former friend and the destructive tools of deflection they used. Ironically, the latter was diffused with the realisation that I have been guilty of the exact same thing – it’s funny how things look in the mirror sometimes.

It’s not a simple ask but when achieved it will seem so simple all along, like riding a bike for the first time. That sweet spot, the wonderful slice of clarity where everything just slips away may come too late for comfort but it will come. It just takes a little work to find it.

Z3N0

Concepts of Self

I’ve found myself increasingly attached to concept over reality when it comes to things I become passionate over and for things that irritate me to my core. Such things like story ideas, frameworks of how things should be and could be, development of philosophical thought and reflection. Ironic, how the real world bothers me less than the fantastical and in comparison never scratches that depth that the fantastical does. It’s almost as if that I have created a disconnect within myself and those around me to establish myself as a calm presence yet my own internal world in a warzone of its self.

I know for a fact that for the past few days and weeks, my own growth within has been tangible to my own observations and from others yet for the life of me, I cannot seem to shake this conflict between yin and yang and the passions of my own imposed impressions of vague thoughts. This is most experienced when playing Star Wars The Old Republic and roleplaying imaginary aliens fighting imaginary creatures. I spend hours on these concepts and developing plans and perfecting the tiny corner of the tiny corner of the tiny corner of my own imaginary landscape. Not just for myself but for others to enjoy and have a proper and enjoyable escapism. Yet isn’t it amusing, how escapism itself is so anti-stoic. How can one live in the moment by not living in this moment but literally another, in a galaxy far far away? So I play a character who is my aspiration, my goal for development of the self, the higher mind as it were and my philosophical, spiritual and intellectual superior – with minor quirks of course, for some separation to not be entirely lost in my second life like Dwight from The Office. It’s a helpful concept, like looking at art in motion and a concept in motion with a continual free forming journey. Yet these concepts, these minor obtuse details irritate me more than the thought of my own death.

Strange is it not? That such things can have a hold on us. As someone who roleplays as being a Jedi without attachment, it becomes rather laughably ironic that I hold an attachment to something so intangible. Yet I have gained friends from this experience and learned lessons about the self along the way with this art being my own guiding light.

Tonight for example, I was irritated and came into conflict with someone I consider a close friend over the specific decorations of a specific room that’s not even real. What was the purpose of the conflict? What did either of us gain other than hurting each other’s feelings – another failing of my philosophy but at least one I can recognize.

In the end, I ask myself, can I call myself a stoic? Can I call myself a philosopher of the school or at least follower if I cannot seem to confront this very simple thing? I lean on a crutch here, what crutches do you need? I’m perfectly capable of living up to my own aspirations without the need of an amphibian Jedi avatar yet I find it comforting, I find solace and peace method acting. If Stanislavski would see me employ his technique of theatre, I suppose he would be impressed with my dedication of playing the stoic man. I play the part, I become the part, that is the goal, it’s what always has been the goal, has it not for all those walking the Path?

You play the part and you keep nudging yourself and returning to the reflection and the texts until it becomes a part of you. Like muscle memory or just you. It’s like learning times tables, we will stumble and fall and trip and bitch and moan. Eventually though we can say that four times six is twenty-four without a second’s thought or even that. It is a skill in the end not a talent. I see myself failing everyday in lots of different ways but I see myself growing too. I see myself identifying the mistakes and I see myself trying to move on from them. Perhaps from this minor thing, mine and my friends relationship is irreparably damaged, I don’t know but I’ll accept consequences of that as my failing to learn from.

“Waste no more time arguing what a good man should be. Be one.” – Meditations 10.16

Z3N0

Wake Up(!)

Today, just moments ago in fact I was a witness to a conversation where I was told watch some Facebook shared videos that will explain away the Coronavirus Pandemic and explain that Donald Trump’s true purpose in his presidency was to expose the abusers of young children in the ruling powers whoever they may be. Within this video was a clip of Jason Mamoa and his own children and he was hugging them and the video posed this as some gross act of abuse on strangers.

That’s fake, clearly.” – X

No it’s not look at it in context with the rest of the video he’s doing something wrong clearly or he wouldn’t be part of this.” – Y

We live in a time where we are told to question everything about what we see and what we are being told yet some refuse to question themselves. They seem incapable of questioning their own assumptions of how things are and how they truly are.

Suppose we all wake up and see abusers everywhere we look, what does this mean for the average citizen or audience of this over-shared poorly edited video? Nothing of course, rationally, if this all powerful organization ruling everything and stealing our children in the night really were what this video claimed them to be, then they would have the power to ensure it was not spoken about in the first place. The video would never have been shared on such a regulated platform instead would have been written via typewriter and copied with an analogue press.

“It all links back to Obama! This affects all of us?” – Y

First of all, I find this fascination with Obama amazing, in fact all fascinations with the inner workings and intricacies of Democratic politicians. I half expect my next conversation with Y to be about how Alexandria Ocasia-Cortez’s shoe size is the secret code to an underground bunker to where the all-powerful are hiding Bin Laden.

What do we do with all this information when we have it? What use is it to any of us to live our lives without fear? Where do we go with this fear aside from projecting it onto others, living some misanthropic purgatory waiting for The Great Reset whatever that means.

“I just want to live a happy life and get on with it.” – Y

“Okay so do that.” – Z

“I am but no one else is: wearing masks and not opening their eyes.” – Y

It all goes back to the same primal fear of not being in control, of craving the good old days that were just days. Back before the internet before it all went wrong with Bill Gates and Tom Hanks and myriad of other public figures who are all involved somehow. Back in the days with Agent Orange, MK Ultra, the public destruction of Marilyn Monroe, Chernobyl, the Cold War, the assassination of JFK and Martin Luther King Jr, and the massacre that never happened in 1989. The good old days?

Good old days for whom?

The world changes, all things change. We must accept in our capacity that things are as they are and a symptom of Providence and a part of the natural wider Whole. If there is an imbalance, the scales will handle themselves in time. But I ask, man from the pub, “what can you do about any of it that will make a tangible difference outside of your own mind?”

Of course a highly defeatist attitude for some, who didn’t love The Lego Movie? Yet masquerading pure fear and panic as acceptance is not acceptance. It’s deception of the self. Whatever that fear may be, whether it be COVID-19, becoming obsolete, being forgotten, strangers moving in next door, failing your MOT, or even that your BBQ is ruined by rain. Dig deep because you can’t kill weeds without finding the roots.

“The universal cause is a torrent, sweeping everything in its stream. So, man, what does this mean for you? Do what nature requires at the moment. Start straight away, if that is in your power: don’t look over your shoulder to see if people will know. Don’t hope for Plato’s utopian republic, but be content with the smallest step forward, and regard even that result as no mean achievement. How worthless are these little men in the public eye who think their actions have anything to do with philosophy! They are full of snot. And who will change their views? Without a change of view what alternative is there to slavery – men groaning and going through the motions of compliance? Go on, then, talk to me now of Alexander and Philip and Demetrius of Phalerum. I shall follow them, if they saw the will of universal nature took themselves to her school. But if they simply strutted the dramatic role, no one has condemned me to imitate them. The work of philosophy is simple and modest. Do not seduce me to pompous pride.” – Meditations 9.29

So I say to you, wake up to philosophy of the universe and follow the true way. Accept wholly or you will be living a masked misery which is the same as misery and the world looks at you like a mirror. Be the change you want to see or not at all. There are no half measures in finding your balance.

“Do or do not, there is no try.” – Yoda, The Empire Strikes Back

Z3N0

Empathy Sponge

Something I live with and only recently came to terms with, as in acceptance (thank you, stoicism), is that I am an empath. I’m not sure what that means scientifically, the Myers-Briggs Type Index isn’t particularly helpful as I flit from INTP to INFP to INFJ depending on the test and that’s the extent of my psychological knowledge. Although, I have seen lots of crime shows and read a book on neurology but that hasn’t seemed to be of any help. The spiritual discourse, is much more accessible to me: taking on other’s energy and having to clear it off and having stowaway emotions and the like.

Example A:

I was at work and a member of the team began to share some things about their lives and started crying. Everyone had lots of things to say and I didn’t – I was busy. When the moment passed and she was okay, someone said: “Z, such a typical man, can’t deal with emotions.”

I left the room shortly after and stood in the toilet having to deep breath and fight back tears that I knew weren’t mine.

Example B:

I have a highly controlled and very closely monitored libido, primarily for stoic reasons. Power over the self is the ultimate power – the only power I have – and due to Lockdown, things have been quiet on that front. Yet I’ve recently connected with someone who I admire for being so free with their sexuality and accepting of it rather than control it or lock it down. Suffice to say, the closer we have become as friends and as connected we have become, it has had an affect on me. A testament to the connection perhaps as we’ve never met in person.

Example C:

My hobby of a night is to play Star Wars: The Old Republic and have an active role in a roleplay guild – like Dungeons and Dragons but in space. It’s almost like method acting as while not nearly to the same extent as they do for my character, things bug me ‘ooc’ or out-of-character. It shouldn’t, I know this: it’s fictional puppetry yet the personalities seem to have an effect. When the group is calm, having fun through the characters so am I. Yet when they are not, I feel myself agitated.

While the energy of most people washes past, when I make connections with individuals, it seems I catch stowaways. For a stoic, this is a challenge and perhaps entirely contradictory to the entire philosophy. Yet, I disagree. I think it’s a spiritual or psychological thing I just happen to have that I can adapt to or be drown in it. Maybe I’m alone in my experience as an empath: these emotions hit me, I don’t know what to do with them and they hang on like a heavy backpack. Sometimes, of course the burden isn’t too bad like in the case of my sexually liberated friend – not bad at all.

Yet it takes a toll on me, physically. After a day at work where I may encounter hundreds of people all with their own energies, emotions and ailments, I am mentally drained to a point where I struggle to keep my eyes open. Some days at work, I may not even do anything physically demanding, spending most of it sitting, yet I feel like I’ve ran a marathon.

I deal with it because I have to. I manage it and protect myself through meditation to empty my mind and aura. I choose my friends more carefully based on the baggage I end up having to carry which is not an indictment of them at all. Perhaps it is sometimes. A person who is deeply angry at the world with no intention of changing just from the energy that they present is worth avoiding where possible. In another sense, it’s been helpful when I can understand another person better and do what I can for them in my capacity acting in a virtuous way. Of course I can get the wrong vibes. Sometimes they cross wires with my own feelings and others’ feelings but navigating that is part of the process of not just an empath but a stoic – even just as a human being.

Meditation is the key to being a healthy, functional empath. There was a time where I would absorb all the energies around me and become so tired and dismissive of everyone that I just told them to fuck off because I’d rather be alone. It makes things more intense, this ability that I’m still only the cusp of empowering. It makes every relationship feel richer and intimacy the more intimate. Yet the price is then, disappointment or a betrayal of the self when this becomes or is unhealthy. As a child I was always called sensitive yet I never appreciated it for two reasons. For one Batman was my icon and secondly, it felt untrue. I was being sold a simplistic lie that never sat well. I am a stoic but I’m also an empath; a rocky road to be sure, but my only road.

So, I put it out there, fellow empaths: how have you managed? I’d love to hear from you; let’s help each other. Or not, of course, if you don’t want to. As individuals and as rational beings: we got this.

Z3N0

Puppy Training

I got angry last night – properly angry – for the first time in a long time. It was over Star Wars of all things. How ridiculous is that? If anything, after the fact I was more angry with myself for being angry than the cause. It came very fast and hit me before I could circumvent the feeling with rational thought. It surged like pain from the fingertip to brain and I could track its progress like a child watching the lightening after thunder. It was almost comical for the soul to watch my mind do things. The timelord watching their TARDIS break down for literally no reason – a nice analogy I’ve made before, I’ll link it at the bottom.

There’s no other person let down by my state, just me. It feel like I’m looking at a sad puppy who just shat on the carpet. I am both the observer and the puppy. The only way for me to move on from here is clean up the shit and move on and try to train the puppy better to not do it again. Not try – do. Of course, Marcus Aurelius has some words for us, I’m going to write them out here not just for the sake of sharing them but for my own sake for reflection. Philosophy – stoic philosophy – is my Scooby-Snax to train the puppy.

“Enough of this miserable way of life, enough of grumbling and aping! Why are you troubled? What is new in this? What is it that drives you mad? The cause? Then face it. Or rather the material? Then face it. Apart from cause and material there is nothing. But you should know, late though it is, see your relation to the gods also: make yourself simpler, and better. Three years is as good as a hundred in this quest.” Meditations 9.37

If I strip things back, lets remove the TARDIS imagery: we have a figure in a garden; a walled garden in the centre of an endless forest. The walls are hundreds of metres high and tens of metres thick made of a deep jade stone that circle this impenetrable Valhalla. I’m sipping tea in this garden, basking in the sun, paying no mind to storm clouds, I’ve an umbrella. What does your simple space look like, when we strip things back? It’s funny, some may even call that convoluted. Let’s remove all imagery – nothing but endless vastness of consciousness and an observer who witnesses this vastness.

“Who observes this vastness?” – Mooji

“Above all, no agonies, no tensions. Be your own master, and look at things as a man, as a human being, as a citizen, as a moral creature. And here are two of the most immediately useful thoughts you will dip into. First that things cannot touch the mind: they are external and inert; anxieties can only come from your internal judgement. Second, that all these things you see will change almost as you look at them, and then they will be no more. Constantly bring to mind all that you yourself have already seen changed. The universe is change: life is judgement.”Meditations 4.3.4

And to that end, without needing to add anymore words of my own:

“Remove the judgement, and you have removed the thought ‘I am hurt’: remove the thought ‘I am hurt’, and the hurt itself is removed.”Meditations 4.7

Is there much more to say? I have to take ownership of my own feelings, my own unnecessary feelings that I failed to control. I have to move on, knowing the only person who is let down is me. I am grateful that those around me were supportive and allowed me to remove myself from the environment to recharge and reflect. Personally, I think it was a rather successful reflection with the conclusion: I lost my shit over immaterial, indifferent things – actions of strangers.

I’d like to confirm, this incident has nothing to do with Gina Carano as every Star Wars seems to be these days, I disagree with her politics but I’m sure she’s a perfectly reasonable individual. In fact, as stupid as it sounds, this anger arose from the specifics of medicine in the Star Wars lore.

Go ahead, laugh. It’s okay, I’m laughing too.

Z3N0

Here is the link to my previous post, mentioned. Also, for those who want to look further about Mooji, here is the link to his Youtube channel which I recommend for excellent meditation practice:

https://www.youtube.com/user/Moojiji

https://z3n0.com/2021/03/17/bigger-on-the-inside/

Bigger on the Inside

Your brain, your mind, in my opinion should and does act like Doctor Who‘s TARDIS.

It’s impregnable. It can take you anywhere and it’s vast, so infinitely vast that it defies sense. This TARDIS, your space-time capsule, is parked within a larger, more traditional vessel: your body. Let’s break it down further into sci-fi analogies: you are a Doctor Who timelord – immortal and with a complicated lore – inside a TARDIS parked in the Emperor’s chair of Star Wars‘ Death Star with it’s millions of moving parts and crewmembers – not unlike the brilliant flow of your own biology. You, this grand instillation of craftmanship are an institution in a single point in space and time wholly present in its own environs yet with infinite potential to wherever, whenever, anywhere in time or space within.

I’m not an expert on biology so the analogy there is loose but like the Death Star, I know for a fact that I too have a vulnerable exhaust port.

Let me break down the known lands of your TARDIS:

The Console Room: this is where the magic happens. All the drama and big decisions are made here and it’s your waking mind where you see everything. It reflects your personality; it can be clean and crisp and ordered or a little grungy and a mess but loveable, nonetheless.

The Library: here is the ever expanding databanks of your mind. Within is stored everything you’ve ever experienced and learned. Of course some of the books are a little dusty and a few of the servers at the back have gone offline after years of neglect, but they still hold the data that makes you you.

The Secondary Console Room: here all of your subconscious thoughts are directed without you even knowing. They work tirelessly without reward to keep you going and learning even as you sleep, as the main console room is vacant for the night.

The Engines: this area is another unseen hero. As you think and do, the engines keeps everything else powered and moving, using a labyrinth of wires connected to the grander “Death Star”, directing more mechanical decisions. That spark of life, that electrical charge begins here and directs everything else.

Living Rooms: rooms of requirement for particular personal needs or reasons to hold specific memories, purposes or responses.

The Wardrobe: is where we see ourselves, the masks we wear, the cultivation of our identity and sense of self.

The Bedroom: where we retreat within to sleep, truly sleep and dream while the Engines and Secondary Console rooms keep ticking over. This is a room perhaps we all recognise the most, spending 1/3 of our lives here.

The Zero Room: the perfect zen place where we return to in meditation free of thought and all feeling. Here we can heal ourselves and float in the nothingness. Here the laws of physics do not apply even in by our own metaphysical understanding, where telepathy is the only form of communication with the outside.

The Eye of Harmony: the clue for this is in the name. In Doctor Who the Eye is practically the soul of the TARDIS that connects it with the multiverse. We have a similar mechanism in spiritualism: The Third Eye also known as the pineal gland. While in the show it’s a angry orange star, for us, it is a deep indigo expanse much like the very vortex of time itself that can take us anywhere in the multiverse.

Finally, there is the timelord: you. The immortal soul inhabiting this TARDIS, pottering around, having adventures, going everywhere at once but never moving from your point in space. Through the rewrites and reincarnations, you evolve and may find yourself in new TARDIS’ with different interiors, different Death Stars that are not at all Death Stars and more like the Enterprise-D from Star Trek. And so, when it is time to leave to a new incarnation, do so with the grace of a true series finale and a spectacular bow out.

To close, and like a bad habit, I shall echo the words of Marcus Aurelius to remember:

“Things of themselves cannot touch the soul at all.” – Meditations 5.18

Like the well-dressed timelord you are, you soul is, despite the threat of danger: you’ll be fine and you’ll be back.

Z3N0

The Jedi Code Part 2: Taoist Boogaloo

So I did a bit more reading after last night’s post – albeit a rather lazy glossing over details kind of post. It deserved more depth so here it is.

In The Book of Chuang Tzu, specifically “Chapter 1: Wandering Where You Will” there is a rather familiar sounding code:

The perfect man has no self;

The spiritual man has no merit;

The holy man has no fame.

Does this sound familiar to you as it does to me? The Jedi Code speaks of contradictions such as this because wouldn’t such a perfect man be deserving of a sense of self? A spiritual man worth having a sense of merit? Or the holy man, is he not worth knowing? Like the Jedi of our favourite sci-fi franchise, Chuang Tzu seems to have a belief in altruism as a point of being the foundation of the human condition rather than egoism. Of course, famously his teachings oppose Confucius’ emphasis on social structure and order perhaps being more in line with the spiritual Jedi belief of The Force and the oneness with all things. Such as the quote from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back:

“You will know (the good from the bad) when you are calm, at peace. Passive.”

Confucius, in my view would see this a a ridiculous notion. His reverence for social structure and using ones virtue to change a culture to a more couth format requires a person to be active not passive. You cannot be an observer and an actor in the same sentence.

“I could not prove myself in office. That is why I acquired my skills.”Analects 9.7

“The Master wanted to live among the Nine Yi barbarian tribes. Someone said, ‘But they are uncouth. How could you put up with their ways?’ The Master said, ‘A gentleman has lived among them, so how could they be uncouth?'”Analects 9.14

Here we can reference Dr Peter Joyce’s words on deviance here as mentioned in my previous post which I shall link at the bottom. From a certain point of view, Confucius’ gentleman (junzi) may have been as seen as uncouth himself in his own conduct based on the reaction from the others around him in the foreign culture. Of course Taoists such as Duke Ai and Confucius while having key philosophical differences, still were on friendly terms and agreed on the aspect of virtue:

“Confucius and I are not in a relationship of the subject and nobleman, for our friendship is founded upon Virtue.”

I shall share a few lines from “Chapter 11: Leaving the World Open” from The Book of Chuang Tzu:

“So the sages contemplate Heaven but do not assist it. They are concerned to perfect their Virtue but do not allow it to encumber them. They set forth according to the Tao but do not make plans. They work with benevolence but put no reliance on it. They draw extensively upon righteousness but do not try to build it up.”

My reading of this is that the Taoist sages are passive actors who hold self-improvement as more important than the act of trying to improve others. How can we help others before we help ourselves? Even RuPaul Charles lives by this:

“If you can’t love yourself, how in the hell can you love somebody else? Can I get an amen?”

It’s not a zealous act, it’s tempered and moderate. Benevolence is worked with but no relied upon, which I believe is another thing we can live by as either stoic or hypothetical Jedi. We act benevolently but do not rely on others to do the same. Without this expectation, there’s no disappointment. It’s a balanced approach, that the Swedish may call lagom. A passive still lake is such because it exists in balance with itself: the interior ecosystem in harmony, the surface undisturbed.

There is no chaos, there is harmony.

While Taoism at is core is a far more spiritual ideology than stoicism (the spell checker amuses me here, with Taoism demanding a capital letter but stoicism doesn’t), they seem to compliment each other in the teachings. When they come together, we can see the formulation of the Jedi Code. While I’ve not begun my readings on Buddhism, I’m sure the same could be said for that too. Perhaps this was the intention of the creators of the Jedi Code back in 1987 in the Star Wars: Roleplaying Game. In any case, in my opinion, the text is a digestible standard to live by and adapted as the individual stoic sees fit. That’s what I love about stoicism: it’s not binding to one reading, it’s unique to every persons’ path. Some purists may scoff at me, going on like the Jedi Code is second only to Marcus Aurelius himself but so be it. If the philosophical Frankenstein that is Jedi teachings inspires people of all ages to look within, to see what Zeno, Epictetus or even Chuang Tzu saw, is this not a good thing? The path to enlightenment has to start somewhere and if it leads to stoicism, Taoism, Buddhism or any other form of spiritual and philosophical school, what right does anyone have to judge? After all:

There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

Z3N0

For references of Dr Peter Joyce see my other post:

https://z3n0.com/2021/03/03/marcus-aurelius-and-an-introduction-to-criminology/

The Jedi Code

There is no emotion, there is peace;

There is no ignorance there is knowledge;

There is no passion, there is serenity;

There is no chaos, there is harmony;

There is no death, there is the Force.

Does that sound reasonable to a stoic? I think it does. It sounds almost Confucian in it’s nature. Of course, a classic Confucian would replace the words “The Force” with “The Rites“. Similarly, a Christian may use the term “God“, a Muslim may use the term “Allah“, a spiritualist may use the term “Universe” and so on and so on.

It’s a code of contradictions at face value as we know both peace and emotion to exist similarly to passion and serenity. While in my view there is only harmony and chaos is an illusion, a debate could be made of that too. In my view, the Code of the Jedi is quite possibly the best reflection of a aspirational philosophy in pop culture.

The Youtuber, Papito Quinn makes the point that perhaps the Code would make more sense if each line started with the prefix: when. Becoming:

When there is no emotion there is peace.

Aside from removing the comma, the meaning creates an aspirational code rather than a fixed one. On a personal level, the Code for me is something I could see myself living by. I think to an extent as a stoic (still feels fraudulent saying that) it’s like putting on a comfortable jumper. It fits well, it’s warm and fuzzy, and has a picture of Baby Yoda on the front. Of course, being a space wizard comes with other quirks but at its core, the fundamental philosophy of the Jedi code is sound and with a few lexical tweaks is a very viable avenue for a big fucking nerd stoic such as myself.

Specifically, where the Code could draw criticism is in the 3rd line. How can you live without passion? Are you, Z3N0, not passionate about philosophy? Passion is not the same as love or compassion. In my view, passion as a concept is the first step on the way to obsession. Passion is the fire in desire, it’s the uncontrolled drive behind ambition. I’m not an ambitions person but I do have direction of career and personal standards. It’s like love: there are different kinds. A hedonist would scoff at me and call me a incel (perhaps just not hedonists – HA!) but sexuality and intimacy is not the same as unhealthy passion. It’s good to see passion, sure, but you could never accuse Gordon Ramsay of a stoic disposition in the kitchen or Nicki Minaj of being serene in art.

In any case, the 2nd line is what I seem to live by, and this blog is perhaps a tribute to:

(When) There is no ignorance, there is knowledge.

Z3N0

P.S. Check out Papito Quinn’s channel here for more Star Wars philosophy:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoUU60BITkH760oFPI6O3tQ