This is a book about existence. You exist in a world that is governed by nature and society. In order to perceive and interact with the world, you need to pilot a vessel called a human. You only have access to one human throughout your time here in this world, so it only makes sense for you to learn how the thing works.
Although this book contains information about almost every subject in existence, it does not contain all there is to know about anything. Instead, presented in these pages is an introduction to many different concepts that will require further study to fully understand. The purpose of this book is not to teach you everything there is to know about everything; the purpose is to show you how everything is connected.
Everything is connected
This is one of the most important and life-changing concepts that you can ever learn. It will allow you to see the world with new eyes and discover answers to questions you haven’t even asked yet. The idea that everything is connected helps you to widen your perspective to consider new possibilities outside the realm of your expectations.
One of the ways for you to experience the connectedness of everything is by reading this book according to your curiosity. Of course, this book is arranged in an order to make logical sense: first you will learn about the human you use to experience the world around you, and then you’ll learn about that world. In addition, this book has a large Appendix section with supplementary information on many different concepts.
If something strikes you as interesting or confusing, you have the choice to explore more on that topic in the Appendices before continuing. This book is somewhat of a “choose your own adventure” based on what you want to learn about. The Appendices are ordered alphabetically by section but you can always flip back to the Index to find the exact page to discover the most about a particular word, phrase, or concept. It’s up to you how you want to learn about the connectivity of existence!
If you want, you can even open this book to a random page and learn about a single concept. While each section is self-contained, there are plenty of terms and phrases mentioned in one section that are defined in a different section. This will help you to gain a better understanding of the connectivity of it all as well as inspire you to follow your own natural curiosity.
Beyond the understanding that everything is connected, this book is also intended to teach you about your perspective and how to alter it. The skeptic philosopher, Rene Descartes, established the idea “I think therefore I am.” This idea means that your existence depends solely on the idea that you can perceive it. The lens by which you observe your reality is called your perspective.
Some of the most important parts of life are all a matter of perspective: happiness, love, and connectedness, to name a few. If you have the ability to see your perspective as it is and change it to what you want it to be, you can “hack into your brain” to live the life you want to live. It’s your choice how you want to experience this world; life is what you make of it.
In order to practice adjusting your perspective, this book will give multiple perspectives to explain concepts. You may have heard of the phrase “looking at a problem from multiple angles;” in this book, you will have the opportunity to see tons of concepts from multiple perspectives. Only seeing the world from a single perspective is limiting and possibly dangerous when you need to make a decision based on that limited point of view.
Two types of perspective that this book will use are called “top-down” and “bottom-up.” A top-down perspective is one that looks at an idea through the lens of an overall rule that applies to more than just that idea. Conversely, a bottom-up perspective looks at an idea through the lens of individual perception of that idea.
To better understand the difference between these tools of perspective, let’s look at an example. Lightning strikes the ground far away from where you are standing and you see the bolt travel from the clouds to the ground, lighting up the darkened sky. A bottom-up perspective says the lightning occurred and wonders why. Perhaps there was a shift of energy from the sky to the ground, maybe a creature who lives in the clouds threw it to the ground. The reason doesn’t matter; the important point is that the bottom-up perspective starts with the actual event being observed: it happened.
A top-down perspective on the same lightning strike says that everything diffuses from a high concentration to a low concentration. The friction of water molecules in the clouds caused a build-up of electrons; the bolt was a side effect of the world balancing out the concentrations by giving the energy a path to leave the cloud and move to the ground. The top-down perspective requires understanding of a fundamental rule of the universe, the event isn’t necessary for the understanding to exist: the rule exists.
Both perspectives see the lightning bolt happen, and both have the potential to understand the true reason it happened. The only difference between the two perspectives is the path they take to link the event with the reason it happened. This book will present many ideas and give reasons for why those ideas exist at all. Regardless of which perspective you prefer, seeing each concept from multiple perspectives will give you a far greater understanding of the concept in general.
The linking of both of these types of perspectives is called enlightenment and it allows you to fully understand the idea in question. Enlightenment, in the most general sense, happens all the time. Any time you have a dispute with a friend and then discover they were only acting that way because of a misunderstanding, you are becoming enlightened to that conflict. The most famous version of enlightenment is when you can approach the idea that “I exist” from multiple perspectives. This book will give you the tools to observe yourself and your world and the connectedness of those ideas.
To fully utilize this book as a tool, I recommend you take some time to familiarize yourself with the four Human Tenets. A tenet is a philosophical rule or guideline; it is not a law that you can break. There is no punishment for disregarding the tenets; they are meant to help you become the best person you can be. There is no consequence for ignoring the tenets that cannot be fixed by following them; it’s never too late to take control of your life.
Take nothing for granted; everything that is true in this world has an understandable explanation for why it is true. It is your duty to question the world around you to find the truth and never settle until you are satisfied with the answers.
The symbol for this tenet represents both an eye looking back and an arrow pointing forward. The central idea for this tenet is “look back to move forward.” This is also the overall practice of science; scientists use past observations to make predictions about the future and determine trends.
To practice this tenet to its fullest, you only need to combine your natural curiosity with a bit of determination to discover the answers. The most common question asked by children is “why?” Our sense of wonder is with us from the day we are born. Use your tools of communication and research to satisfy your curiosity and come up with new questions that you have never thought to ask.
You are born as a blank slate, ready to receive information about how to survive and thrive in the world around you. Unfortunately, your brain does not have enough time to fully develop before you are born. Luckily, people think you’re pretty cute for at least a few years and they will want to take care of you and help you learn and grow. Lessons about you and your world will come quickly; it’s your job to absorb as much information as you can.
It’s actually a good thing our brains are not fully developed when we enter the world; our ability to interact with the world will teach us more than we could ever learn in the safety of your mother’s womb. The best way to grow is by listening, which doesn’t only refer to what you hear.
The symbol for this tenet represents outstretched arms. When you stand up from being asleep or simply sitting, your first instinct is to stretch your muscles. This is a form of you listening to your body. When you quiet your mind in the form of meditation, you will find that your body will talk with you quite frequently. It will tell you what it needs to thrive and will even send you messages to help make the best decisions for your overall well-being.
You are not alone in this world; there are others who were here before you and there will be many who arrive after you. While you exist in this world, you have the ability to manipulate your surroundings and influence people close to you. However, to create the best possible future for yourself and those around you, you’ll need to practice empathy.
To properly empathize, you must completely disregard everything you know to be you and view the world through someone else’s perspective. This can be difficult at first since you have no way to understand how your upbringing influenced you differently than others. With practice you’ll get better.
The symbol for this tenet represents a speaking mouth. When you speak, you share your thoughts; with empathy, you can choose the best words to help others understand your intentions. You can use your voice, or your actions or works of art, to connect with other people to make a change in your world.
Trust is the hardest tenet to follow because it is a continual practice. They say “trust takes a long time to build and a moment to destroy.” To trust is a decision you make on a daily, and sometimes a moment by moment, basis. Trust can overpower fear and allow you to see the world with a more open perspective.
The symbol for this tenet represents home, perhaps a tent or house. The home is quiet yet welcoming; it is constant and accepting. To trust is to accept something as truth. Acceptance, the final stage of undergoing change, is difficult to attain. However, once it is reached, you can never return to before the change occurred and you probably wouldn’t want to go back.
This tenet represents patience and the state of being. To be is to accept the world around you, as well as yourself within that world. The most frustrating part of earning your patience is that it always takes time when you must use it. However, if you can master this tenet, peace will always be within reach.
You are not a static creature; you will constantly change during your brief time here. To stay the same person throughout your life is to avoid growth. Without growth, there is no progress. With no progress, what is the purpose of existing?
You are free to choose how you will live your life; the tenets are merely guidelines. Each tenet becomes easier to follow the more you practice it. Try not to spend too much energy in a single direction, though one might feel more natural to you than the others. To be the best person you can be, you’ll have to earn all your directions.
Think of the tenets as a cycle; once you practice one tenet, move to the next one. If you cannot ask a question without listening, why ask? If you cannot listen without being willing to share what you learn, why learn? If you cannot trust that your actions will make a change, why speak? If you do not question your world, why exist?
You may find that practicing one direction gives clarity for another: questioning helps you to make greater change; listening helps you to trust more. You are a dynamic creature; you are a human.