Welcome to Good Thought, a newsletter about fresh ideas for purposeful living in the 2020s.
I’m Aaron Nesmith-Beck. I founded Atman, one of the first legal psilocybin retreats, and my writing at Freedom & Fulfilment has over 1M pageviews. You can learn more about me here.
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The “They” Mistake
Untitled by Laura Lancaster
We are talking about my father dying. He tells us where he keeps his financial information, in case that happens sometime soon. It will happen eventually, of course.
“How does the bank know when someone dies?” my sister asks.
“Well, they don’t.”
She is surprised. “What? They must know somehow. They must keep track…?”
But no. The responsibility falls on the next of kin of the deceased, not “they”.
“They” show up in a surprising number of places. “They” fill the fuzzy gaps in and at the edges of our conceptual models. Filling a conceptual gap with “they” is usually a mistake.
The first form of the “they” mistake is the positive, benevolent. It is believing that “they” will take care of it. That “they” are watching and that they will make sure everything is OK. That “they” keep track of important things like who’s alive or dead, and make sure all the relevant people are informed.
“They” is our parents, teachers, authority figures when we’re children. As a child it is sometimes true that “they” will take care of it, that they will make it all OK. They often do. But as an adult, “they” is a vaguery that doesn’t serve much useful purpose.
The second form of the “they” mistake is the negative, the sinister. A fellow at a party once was complaining about the government, as if “they” were a greedy, power-hungry bunch whose singular purpose was to oppress the rest of us (in Canada!) Perhaps he can be forgiven, as he was only a university student, but his model of the government was pretty fuzzy.
The negative form also shows up when it is suggested that something good might actually happen in society. Someone jumps in to assure us that “they” would never let that happen! The negative “they” are looming over us at all times, propagating the ills of the world and tirelessly fighting against the good.
It is easy to see that the positive and negative are mirror images of the same mistake. Search your mind – which fuzzy gaps is “they” filling? Strive instead to fill those gaps with greater knowledge and understanding.
I’m excited to get back to the group journey space, and we are hosting legal psilocybin retreats in August/September 2021, November 2021, and January 2022. Apply here if you’re interested in attending a legal psilocybin retreat in Jamaica.📖 Good long read: Michael, Dwight and Andy: the Three Aesthetics of the Creative Class by Alex Danco
Alex Danco continues to produce some of the most interesting material online. (Can you tell which of the three aesthetics the author is following in this article?) I have not seen The Office, but this article and its predecessor are still good.📖 Good long read: A Chemical Hunger – Series by Slime Mold Time Mold
Everything we think we know about the obesity epidemic and weight loss is probably wrong(!?) I can’t sum this up much other than to say read it. If you don’t have much time, just read Part III. Hat tip: Alex Petralia!🧘♂️ Tucker Peck on Awakening
A fascinating thing is happening as internet communities coagulate around rational conversation about meditative practice, technique, and attainment. What results is a bunch of level-headed, empirical people talking in plain terms about the changes in consciousness that occur along various stages of the meditative path. Keywords: pragmatic dharma, stream entry, awakening. (Trustworthy people in this domain seem to eschew the word “enlightenment”.)🤯 The Virgin Christmas Elf vs. The Chad DMT Elf
Another psychedelic meme; Reddit likes it more than Twitter, apparently.
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