This is the practical part of the essay on psychology “From robot to the mindful being”. In it, we provide the necessary information to allow anyone to know what to do in general, and how to behave in certain specific circumstances, in orther to minimise the suffering we cause for ourselves and for others, and maximise consciousness. Most of this information is provided through rules of behaviour which are applicable to a few specific circumstances: if this happens, do that (or don’t do that). The rules are simple and the benefits of applying them are well worth the effort required. To help speed up the process of applying these rules, the work offers a summary that helps with remembering which rule to apply when, and what the core content of each rule is.
This book is not extensive and contains relatively simple ideas, which are easy to understand and apply to most of the situations that arise in day to day life: to the decision-making process, to work or leisure activities, to affective and social relationships and even to what we feel or think. Its aim is to help us to minimise our compulsions and become increasingly mindful and, therefore, to suffer less and cause less suffering.
Targeted Age Group:: 25-45
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This was almost necessary after writing the first book (From the robot to the mindful being: A model of the functioning and possible evolution of the human being), since the practice stems from the theory.
A. What do I want to do with my life and what I am going to do tomorrow?
In general, interestingly, people give a great deal of thought to decisions of medium importance but are carried along by events when making the most significant ones. To choose a house, a car, or even a suit, they weigh up the pros and cons of each option. However, paradoxically, they often get married based on a series of fortuitous circumstances, without a previous characterological analysis of compatibility. If someone is told they have 50 million to spend, they will likely reflect a great deal before they spend it; however, few people think about what they want to do with the 50 years of life they have left. It is as if we believe, unconsciously, that we are not the masters of our fate, so it is not worth trying to control it; which turns out to be true, incidentally, if we are robots. To stop being a robot should be our first, fundamental objective, although it needn’t be our final goal in life, nor does it require any drastic changes.
It is important to remember that what we seek, ultimately, is to suffer less and cause less suffering. All we can do to achieve that is to try and increase our mindful life and, at the same time, understand and minimise our compulsions, which are the jail that imprison us. It is an invisible jail, as compulsions tend to be unconscious; therefore, one of the aims behind the rules of behaviour presented in the following sections is to make this jail visible, to make us aware of what our main compulsions are and how they grip us, in order to strengthen our desire to control and minimise them.
As mentioned above, to stop being robots should become a “vital objective”, but that does not mean having to make significant changes in our daily activities1. However, it can entail important changes of attitude, as will be seen in the next section. What this means is that when I decide what to do tomorrow – or next month, for example – I will do the same as I have done until now: plan as best I can. It is likely, however, that as our capacity to act mindfully increases, a new “vital objective” will begin to arise – as explained below –, and our goals and actions will change accordingly.
“To minimise my compulsions” means to reduce my ego: the set of goods that my compulsions incite me to obtain and maintain. “To be mindful” means (among other things) to stop identifying with my ego. To gradually stop being a robot (reduce my compulsions and become increasingly mindful) means, therefore, that this unconscious, egocentric being called ego, which is attached to goods, is being replaced by a mindful, exocentric being2, in which the compassionate instinct, which is innate, plays an increasingly important role.
B. So what do I have to do right now? And how do I do it?
The decision to carry out a certain activity now may have been made beforehand or be the result of the current circumstances. In both cases, the rule applicable to making the decision (section 2) is the same: do not forget about tomorrow when deciding what you will do today; as will be seen later, this rule has several implications.
In many cases, the activity we have decided to do (estimating some expenses or playing tennis, for example) requires our full attention; the rule applicable in these cases is presented in section 3 (whatever you do, do it as well as you can, attentively and without haste). When the things we do require only part of our attention (walking or having lunch with friends, for example), we should take advantage of this, as explained in section 4 (whenever possible, observe your surroundings, attentively and without haste).
As group animals, socio-affective relationships are a necessary, essential part of our lives. Simply being with other people usually awakens the desire to gain their respect and esteem. Be it consciously or otherwise, we try to project an improved image of ourselves which we sometimes even come to believe. At the same time, we observe and judge the conduct of others, often harshly. There are two rules to be applied in this social context: the first (section 5) refers to our behaviour (do not deceive yourself or try to deceive others to gain their appreciation); the second (section 6) refers to our reactions to the behaviour of others (understand that others are robots just like you, and be compassionate).
Our behaviours and “physical” activities stem from certain psychic processes that combine emotional and mental activities. To control these should be the main goal of anyone who wants to stop being a robot; this is the purpose of the rules set out in sections 7 (understand and control your emotions and your ego) and 8 (understand and control your mind: think only when it is worthwhile).
The seven rules presented above (one for the decision and six for the action), which will be explained in detail in the sections below, are easy to understand and to apply, as each of them refers to a specific situation or circumstance. Section 9 also presents a summary of these rules and the links between them, and offers an example showing how they can be applied together.
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