Happiness in daily living

Something completely different :slight_smile:

What we’re really looking for is happiness in daily living.
Happiness is what’s there when suffering is absent.
Happiness is unbroken peace of mind regardless of circumstance.
The flow of Life is always pleasure or pain.
Suffering is our psychological attitude towards the flow of Life.
Suffering manifests as 1. guilt, 2. blame, 3. pride, 4. worries & anxiety, 5. expectations & attachment to outcomes.
The root cause of all suffering is our false belief in personal doership.
When we investigate how decisions are made in Life, we find that, without exception, they come about based on a person’s genetic make-up & conditioning through Life.
Our feeling of free will is both an illusion and a gift.
The experience of being alive as a human is designed to feel as if we are free to do whatever we choose in each moment.
Our own free will is never different from the will of Life.
When we deeply understand/feel that Life unfolds according to destiny, our attitude of doership & attachment falls away and peace of mind persists.

That’s my clumsy summary of a conceptual framework laid out by Roger Castillo. This is his YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC3nxl1CdbbysJB_KUBaLEfw/videos

He posits that all spiritual teachings ultimately aim at dissolving beliefs by way of encouraging critical thinking. “The only (knowable) truth in the manifestation is that consciousness is at the heart of your experience.”

Feel free to discuss or ask me to elaborate on any of the concepts. :slight_smile:

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That’s right :wink: “Destiny” is essentially the same as “genes & conditioning”.

According to the framework, Life puts false beliefs in place when we’re children, but may dissolve them later on (by subjecting us to spiritual teachings/experiences, etc). Once we’re 2 1/2 - 3 years old and we acquire language, the belief of being a separate, independent entity isolated from the rest of Life is put in place. Our parents teach us guilt (“it was wrong to run over that vase, you could and should have avoided that by walking slower”) etc.

There is a feeling of free will in each moment (thank goodness), but when we examine our actions, can we find any factors that go into them other than our genes & conditioning? If so, what are they?

Seems like an idea, but denying myself the illusion of free will or even viewing my past through the lens of free will is probably what keeps me motivated to keep going with anything.

Knowledge doesn’t always set you free. Learning that the only meaning in life is whatever I can make up only made life hollow to me. I create new frameworks only to find myself annoyed at the arbitrariness of it. Learning that free will (particularly the ability to “will what I will”) is impossible only left me another thing to think of and keep me down on nights where I’m wishing I had the “courage” to end it all.

Somehow the illusions make things feel less hollow. The highs get higher, the lows get lower, but the warmth feels real. Which I would argue is much better than ambling through the shadows of nothingness.

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Very interesting. In the context of this framework, “genetic make-up” doesn’t just mean DNA. Rather, it loosely refers to the entire organism (body/mind) as it grows in time: The sperm and the egg meet, an embryo forms, a human being is born, its limbs grow, its brain develops, it goes through puberty, ages, decays, dies; the human being as an expression of the genetic blueprint that is created at conception.

In fact, in Roger’s words, “genetic make-up” and “conditioning” are not really two separate things. Once the embryo forms, throughout its development and Life, it is constantly subjected to conditioning (or simply “circumstance”) that shapes it in addition to whatever it inherited from its parents. The human being (and hence its decision making) is never isolated from circumstance/Life.

What are epigenetics a result of, if not conditioning/circumstance? Do they exist outside of cause & effect?

Are diseases and accidents then only conditioning even if they have direct influence on one’s body? #withoutexception

Depends what you mean by “spirit”, I guess. :slight_smile: According to the framework, yes, we’re biological robots - but our “output” is the irreducibly profound experience of being alive.

All that can ever be known is your own experience. In its most basic form, when all other layers are absent (for instance, right after waking up, or during meditation), the experience consists of the impersonal sense of “I am.” You are conscious (and when you’re not, there is no experience). Does that mean you have (or are) a spirit?

I’m truly sorry, in the end, my posts only meant I’m too sleepy.

Not sure I see your point. What else are accidents, if not conditioning? Diseases, depending on their nature, might either be an expression of your genes or a result of “external” conditioning, but as I tried to explain above, distinguishing between genes & conditioning is somewhat moot in this context. The point being made is that no one exists in a vacuum or could ever be separate from the universe/Life.

Don’t be sorry at all! I love contemplating and discussing these things. :slight_smile:

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Whenever people say stuff like “everything we do is based on genetics” it tells me that they have a profound mis-understanding of the role that genetics plays in human development.

Books like THE AGILE GENE are shedding more light on just how complex this tangled hierarchy is:

Saying that something is “all genetic” or “all free will” or “all conditioning” is comforting to us, because it takes something incredibly complex and narrows it down to something we feel we can understand.

But - unfortunately - reality is that which does not go away when you stop believing in it, and to actively ignore any of the factors in this complex, tangled hierarchy will blind us to actions we can take at all those levels.

So yeah, genetics inform physiology which informs neurlogy which informs neurochemistry which infroms instinct which informs behavior which informs belief systems which informs cognition which informs creativity which informs our ability to re-make ourselves in our own image again and again.

None of these elements exist in perfect isolation from the others - they are constantly having various degrees of influence and effect on each other, and those effects go both ways. Environment and behavior can trigger genetic changes, or activate dormant genes which become active under certain circumstances.

So - yeah - the idea that “it’s all X” may be a comforting story we tell ourselves, but it’s just a story…

Your mileage may vary
Void where prohibited
Some cars not for use with some sets :wink:


I have taken a cursory glance at everyones responses here, so i appologise if i repeat anything or contest something that is already contested, but i should like to do so in my own way if at all possible.

The very notion of giving up ones free will to be happy is in and of itself an oxymoron. If i have the choice to give up free will, but do not take that choice and chose to keep it, does that mean that it was always going to be that way? And if i do choose to give it up, was that always inevitable? If its a choice to give away free will then that means that even should you choose to give it up, you still have free will.

Unless of cource you believe in something like Fate and destiny which are nothing more than words we use to do what is expected of uis, or things that we knew were going to happen. Or for events happening that are momentus. Like it was destined that a person gets married to the love of their life, like its destiny to break a leg because of a fall, or simply, it was destiny to simply take another breath like you have done for litterally every moment in your life.

The only other destiny there is is the destiny of a god, and or some great plan.

Because, genetic memory, while a thing that exists, does not predetermin what is happening in our environments, and as such no destiny can be derived from genetics.

For example… humans have evolved so that we have deveoped an Appendix. Which is now a vastigial organ. It is essentially useless, and leads to people almost dying very often. It exists because of Genetics. But it has no bearing on what happens in our life or the choices we make. Sure, if and when it descides to expload, giving you endemitriosis and spesis, you will deffinatly descide to go to the docs and get fixed up… but that does not determin every aspect of your life there after.

Much in the same way that our grant parents, and great grant parents and so on worked mostly terrible jobs, mining, manufactoring, and the like… they passed on genetic memory of that, but many of us today do not find ourselvs in simmilar jobs.

So ruling out genetics having a baring on my future, lets jump back to gods and destiny. I think i personally rule out destiny as the future isnt something that can be realistically known for certain, we can only forcast, and hope we are right… but the fact of the matter is litterally anything could happen, and we could be killed in a momnet, or we could live to old age… but we cannot know for certain what the future is.

And Gods, im going going to disparage anyones religion here, but i will say that i do not believe in any gods, and as such they have no hold over me, and i’ve no reason to surrender myself to a higher power that in my opinion does not exists.

Happiness however… its not something one realises you have in the moment. Its an afterthought much of the time. We go through life and sometimes we just exist, in the moment. that is not surrender, its just being. It also happens that something good is usually happening at the same time… but good is a subjective statememnt, one persons happiness can be derived from one thing, and nothers misery from that same thing.

Therfore, happiness depends greatly on your perception. And as such, it is things like attatchment and the inability to let go of negativity that can indeed cause pain and suffering, much in the same way, that if we do not remove a splinter it will continue to pain us, and much of the time it will get worse, until it is removed.

But one can also be happy in siffering too. One can recognise that they have had a shit hand to paly the game of life with and still enjoy it. Enjoy their circumstances and what they have and choose to do that. That isnt giving up free will, that is using it to better control your mood and mental health.

And for those that think that my way of thinking is cold and unmeaningless… i dissagree for one simple thing… Real memory.

Our life can be measured not by how much we own, or how much we know, but what and who we are. The more real friends you have, and the betteryou treat your family, and if you were kind and if you talked and interacted with people, and do things… that is when you can say that you have made ripples in time.

You will change the life of every person you meet. leaving a small trace of who you are on them. A single conversation can change a person who perspective of life. And if you have children, you can pass on what you know to them, and so on down the family line, and you continue to exist, if not in name, but in the memeory and indeed who your family then become as people. It could be something as silly as the way you fold a piece of paper, to the way you scratch your head, or tie a shoe.

But it could also be that you help save a persons life, not quite in the litteral sense, but help them become who they wanted to be, and from them, and their prosperity you canlook back and say, “yes i helped him, and he has come so far.” and know that perhaps he will pass on the same kind of help that you gave to him. That is what meaning is for me. being able to pass on parts of myself to the different people of the world and indeed my communities… which is sort of ironic considering the fact that I’m basically a social recluse.

Anyways, this is my response. Thanks for the topic of conversation, i like to dabble in philosophy like this.


I think I should clarify for people what I believe the point to be:

he’s saying free will is illusory and that everything we think or do was essentially always going to happen. The whole “genes and conditioning” thing is just him making a point that some outside “will” that you have independent of causality doesn’t exist, and that if you had enough data and calculations (which, granted, would probably take several universes worth of data and computing power) you could predict exact probabilities of which choices you are going to make, and exactly which quantum phenomenon caused the less probable ones.

Really the key factor in this idea can be summed up in a phrase: “A man can do what he wills, but he cannot will what he wills”. You may think something, but you don’t choose for that thought to show up in your head, because if you did, you would have to choose for the thought that chooses to show up, and choose for the thought that chooses the thought that chooses, ad infinitum. So what you think is outside your control. And those thoughts are put together to make choices and actions. Which means if these thoughts are outside your control, and those thoughts outside your control are controlling your actions, then you, the observer, do not control your actions.

Now, of course there are a few mental leaps some people take when thinking like this, usually leading to defeatism and the like, so typically how I like to explain my position on free will is that “I don’t believe I do, but I believe I should act and think like I do.”


I get what you are trying to say, that in theory that is a person could know where every ginfle atom and aprticle in the iniverse was, he could realistically predict the future. And indeed guess the probability and causality of everything. But that is impossible, and still does not rule out free will, the ability to choose.

Just because you have no autnomy of the random thoughts that a person can get, also does not mean that you are not in control of your actions, even if some thoughts dictate how you act.

This is in part, part of the effect of nature vs nurture. A persons nature… their thoughts, are indeed effected ny their surroundings or their ‘nurture’. But one can still act independantly of that nurture and nature in some reguards. A person who is born in a desert and can survive in that desert comfortably, can still choose to live in another palce if they so wished.

I dont believe that free will is as complicated as you are making it out to be, and or its absence.

If however… everyone knew where all atomes and particles were in the universe and as such could know everything. They then still have a choice to make… what to do with that information. Do they use it for good, for evil, for themselvs, or for others. Do they actually use the ability once they have the ability? using the ability to do that is also a choice. Everything comes down to descisions. And while those descisions we made are usually based on thoughts, and feelings… they do not nessisarily dicatate how things will happen.

Basically my argument can be boiled down to one simply statement… “there is always a choice.”

And in that we have free will.

There is a choice, but is it you who choses?

And a big part of it is what you define as you, which a lot of people count as “consciousness” or whatever it is that is observing reality and your thoughts.

I think this video points it out quite nicely: https://youtu.be/8kX62n6yNXA

But identity philosophy is a whole other idea.

This is less directly pointed at it, but might also be relevant: https://youtu.be/X3rl5O_92Co

I recently came up with this thought: while there are some who, on the ground that we perceive our will only a short time after the brain has already formed it, would say that this part of the brain drives us like a charioteer his horses, making us believe we do the things we do because WE want to (while it’s in fact the charioteer), I, on the other hand, say that this is still us, but a hidden facette of ours that we cannot percieve consciously. That’s why “know thyself” is an incredibly difficult task.

As for happiness, I stick with what Epicure or the Stoics say on this subject: to be content with what I get, to know what I really need, and to not let my mind be disturbed by useless passions.


There is a choice, but is it you who choses?

Well, I just chose to reply … earlier I chose to read most of the topic … I could have chosen to do neither, so I really must wonder if those were not my choices, then someone should explain who did the choosing for me …

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Well, if we look at your brain and body as a set of chemicals, then whoever, or whatever “chose” is whatever being decided to put those inputs to your body.

And really, does anyone have to choose? Does anybody choose for the die to fall face up on a 1 instead of a 6? Does a single bacterium choose to reproduce? How about Tardigrades? Where does fee will begin? Can’t some cataclysmic event like the Big Bang happen anyway without someone starting it?

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Two other books that shed some light on this entire question are

In ON INTELLIGENCE, Hawkins talks in detail about our pyramidal neurons, and how “what we expect to experience based on previous experience” can have a strong effect on shaping “what we experience in the moment”.

In HARE BRAIN TORTOISE MIND, they go deeper into the layers of how each aspect of your brain contributes to what you end up doing. And yes - you are absolutely right - there are layers to this process, and the frontal lobe making meaning out of your choices does indeed happen last in order. In other words - by the time you put words around whether you decided that you like somebody or that you’re going to have tacos for lunch instead of soup, some other aspect of your brain tipped that decision one way or another milliseconds before you put that meaning into words.

However, as the books point out, all of those other layers of patter-recognition, pattern-making, and prioritizing one thing over the other are still your brain - they are still YOU - forged from the interaction of your life experiences, your temperament, your particular personality type, what you enjoy, what you stay away from, etc.

Sure, some of the bottom layers of that happen so quickly that it’s almost impossible for our top-layer awareness to peek down in there and become aware of how we’re making these thousands of priority decisions every moment. Just like when you’re reading this text, you’re not paying attention to your brain’s visual center doing edge detect stuff on individual letters, or chunking that together into predictions of what that word might be, and correlating that with predictions of what the previous word was and what the next word might be, and then passing those predictions on to your Broca’s and Wernecke’s area to parse into actual words that you’re hearing in your head, and then finally passing it to the frontal lobes so some other part of you can make meaning out of those words and correlate them with your own life experience to see if you can relate to it or not.

However, even though there are all these layers, they are still YOU, and they were all shaped by various degrees of genetics, physiology, neurology, instinct, patterns based on your life experience, and your own preferences for what you enjoy or avoid.

Picking the top-level of that hierarchy and saying that only this one little slice represents YOU and everything else is somehow alien, or foreign, or a black box that you can safely ignore because you don’t know what’s going on in there is - well certainly a valid strategy because it gets used a lot - but it also leaves a LOT of useful information out…

So what the framework really means when it says “genetic make-up” is this:

Do you consciously decide to dream? Do you consciously decide to beat your heart? To filter out alcohol in your liver? To scratch an itch? To grow out your beard? Your toenails? Do you make a conscious decision to process the auditory signals going through your ear in order to hear? To flip the visual information upside-down to create a right-side-up image of the world?

At which point does choice make its appearance? When do your actions start to qualify as something you consciously chose to do? Once they’re accompanied by a thought?