contemporary nonmeditation reading

“What are some relatively recently written books that aren’t about meditation but will make serious meditation go more smoothly?”

[in no particular order; these books are not perfect; for some categories I might have chosen better, but a few are unique and excellent even if flawed]


Wired for Love: How Understanding Your Partner’s Brain and Attachment Style Can Help You Defuse Conflict and Build a Secure Relationship by Stan Tatkin

[this one is recommended for the principles, which are stratospherically, superlatively good. everything else, side-eye]

Arousal: The Secret Logic of Sexual Fantasies by Michael J. Bader

How We Die: Reflections on Life’s Final Chapter by Sherwin B. Nuland


Everyone Poops by Taro Gomi


How We Live by Sherwin B. Nuland

Cult: A Love Story by Alexandra Amor

time estimates update

In my blog header and in one of my posts I say “>=2000 hours or even sometimes >=1500 hours,” based on the best data I had. I now/still think that’s a decent “typical extreme lower limit,” but I now think most people are going to be looking at 5000-10,000 hours. That’s mostly an empirical extrapolation, again from a very small sample size. I have some refined thoughts on minds vis-a-vis recursive combinatorics and NP-completeness. But, pretty much none of my core beliefs on transformation have radically changed (though I’m continually learning about all of this and they might!). I just think it’ll typically take longer than I thought, for most people. Not good news but not critically bad news.

More on this and an improved blog header soon/eventually.

I realize 1500 versus 10,000 is highly relevant for planning purposes given risk and nonmonotonicity. There’s a thing I could have done better, here. And, I will think about this, at the very least.

exoteric doctrine v0.2

[Update: Somehow one of these got left out. It’s back where it should be: “Without exception, and no matter […]”]

If I want to do an organization, institution, or movement, that may be facilitated by an exoteric(?) doctrine. Here is a first pass:

  • Objective and singular truth exists (and/or objective reality exists and objective truth corresponds to it).

  • Objective and singular goodness(/ethics/morality) exists.

  • The human mind is typically confused, uncertain, and ignorant. (Or, a typical person is…)

  • Nevertheless, we can know typically error-prone approximations of that objective truth and we can know/do approximations of that objective goodness.

  • Further, the human mind is asymptotically perfectible. That is, we can become better people in a practically unlimited way, all things being equal.

  • ???There are more worse ways than better ways to interact with oneself and others.

  • In any moment you are the final arbiter of what’s true and good. You have to trust yourself while also being open to being wrong. This is hard but can get easier.

  • It’s possible to do more harm than good when trying or intending to do good and become better. (Also, you are the final arbiter of what’s better.)

  • Using systematic (albeit self-adapted) method is often or at least sometimes a good way to improve one’s approximations of truth and goodness. Stated alternatively, we can systematically seek to get the things we want and we can systematically come have better wants (want better things).

  • Some methods are better than others, depending on what you’re trying to do, such as knowing and doing better.

  • We want what we want until we want something else, and it’s ok or good to want what we want for as long as we want it.

  • Perhaps evil or malevolence is objective but things are only bad relative to your skill, power, and knowledge. Perfectibility (asymptotically) includes solving all your problems on your terms, in your words, until there is nothing left that is bad.

  • You might not feel good and safe all the time, but it’s good to want to feel good and safe, and it’s good to seek to stably feel good and safe or to feel good and safe as much as possible.

  • Without exception, and no matter how subtle the feeling, there’s always a valid sense in which, if it feels wrong it is wrong. [i.e. if X makes you feel wrong, then X is somehow wrong.] People often will systematically and relentlessly deny the relevant sense in order to try to immorally coerce and control you. Senses other than the relevant sense can be used to Inappropriately destroy institutions. People trying to control you will try to convince you the former is the latter (among an unlimited number of other tactics that don’t refer to groups or institutions.) Of course, you could be mistaken about something or both could be happening. But that’s what the controlling people will do.

  • You might get hit by a bus or meteor or your cryo chamber might run out of geopolitics or something. But, it’s possible to have a good life, anyway, and it’s possible to impeccably work to reduce the chances of such bad things while having a good, complete, rich, full, life.

  • Most people will probably be happier striving for and maintaining a stable romantic pair-bond and having one or more kids.

  • Love properly labeled and defined is probably a uniquely important thing.

  • Some truths are exceptionless/universal and eternal or sempiternal. With correct method, you can know those truths by making use of whatever experiences you’ve already had (because those truths will massively redundantly inhere in those experiences without exception.) Some truths and knowledge of correct/good/moral knowledge/behavior are contingent (or relative to, or contextually dependent on, this world and time and place) and, to obtain them, you’ll need to dispel ignorance, to have experiences, to learn. You’ll be wrong and bad a lot. Also, you are good.

  • Progress is often multidimensionally nonmonotonic.

  • These are just words. This is just your interpretation of these words. Are there even words? You can’t know anything for sure; and that can be ok, with application of method or just because. There are more precise and accurate and deeper and more correct ways ways to say all the above.
  • More and more and more of everyone may come together to do good things that we couldn’t do alone.
  • Sometimes, an edgy joke should go here.
  • Let go…