Should I Go To Jail?

I've been thinking about going to jail, probably for marijuana posession. I'm kinda worried that my fianc´e will leave me.

I know she loves me, but I think she would be pretty pissed. I think it's fair too. We are getting married, and it would be a big change in her life.

How would we have kids? Would they come see daddy in jail? Do I really want my kids to only know me from a three hour a week meeting where we're not allowed to touch?

And what about prison? I was reading a story the other day of a high school busted for posession and sentenced to weekend prison. He'd go to school and spend his weekends in a cell. Sounds like a cute way for a judge to teach a kid a lesson, and I suppose it was until the prisoner they locked him up with raped him.

I read there are very likely more sexual assaults on men in the U.S. than women because prison rape is so common. We've rounded up all the people with bad social skills and locked them up in a concrete box. Do I seriously want to go in that box?

There's a little dog park in Nashville where I go to school. It's built up the side of a hill and at the top there's a garden surrounded by a walkway. I was up there last night. I got high and did a Zen walking meditation around the circle just being there in the autumn night. Feeling the air and the moonlight. Caught up in a moment so perfect it feels poetic.

It pisses me off something fierce that I have to get high to just smell the air and feel my connection to the night. I have literally written myself notes saying, "Hey dumbass, this is really not that hard. All you have to do is pay attention to what makes you happy and then do that."

When I get high it seems so simple. That I can just forget about all the stress that I worry about. I recognize the extent to which I get adversarial with the rest of humanity in my daily interactions. I resent the people around me for thousands of tiny little reasons and it ends up poisoning my relationships.

The hill overlooks Nashville's Parthenon, downtown and the suburbs. It is an experience to look out over the amazing things that we've created. Intelligent design or not, the fact that we've forged the world that we live in is a marvel.

I wish more people could look at our past monkeyhood and be proud of it. It took like 10 billion years to get here. That monkeyhood kept us alive and has left us with the top spot on the planet.

If we could look at our monkeyhood a bit closer, maybe we could finally get rid of those last few monkey things we tend to do. The little monkey groups we make and fight between.

Call it God, call it Jesus in our hearts, call it our transcendent selves, or our Buddha nature — call it whatever you like, lots and lots of people on this planet agree that we know how to be nice to each other. That somewhere inside there is that impulse, but it gets clouded over with all our daily bullshit.

I see our weakness and our strength as the same thing. We have these amazingly plastic brains that can shaped to fit almost any mold. We can change so radically that we become an entirely other sort of organism than any other one on the planet.

During the Vietnam War, American Buddhist monks — people born and bred in these United States — sat down on the ground and calmly burned in flames to protest what was being done to a people in a place they'd never been. No other animal on this planet can calmly set itself on fire.

So, we can be something amazing. In general though we kinda suck. I live in an America where we lock people up in secret prisons and debate whether or not it's ok to torture them. Lots of people sort of think this is a bad idea, but we seem to be approaching what to do about it indirectly at best.

As I was walking around the circle, getting high and meditating, I though, "Why are we not working on this more directly?"

I mean, we literally live in a world that is nothing like humankind has ever inhabited before.

Follow your bliss isn't just some sort of magical statement. It's practical advice on what to actually do.

I've been working on honesty, truth and spirituality for over tweleve years now. I've read hundreds of books and written tens of thousands of words on faith, cognition, ethics and God. I don't have it all figured out, but I sure as shit have as good an idea of what is right for me as anyone else on the planet.

I can look at myself and say, "you should be able to see the same spiritual truth while sober than you do while high." I do say that to myself. I really do wish getting high didn't put me in a place of clarity that I can't get to while sober, but it does. Whatever moral opinions I have flounder on that empirical shore.

It actually bothers me enough that I spend most of my time thinking about it. I've actually got some ideas. Wanna hear them?

One of the premises is most people lie at least a bit. Take your boss. Pretty much everyone who has a boss doesn't tell that person exactly what they think about them. This person, after all, holds significant power over your professional life. You don't want to piss them off so sometimes you might shade the truth a little.

Pretty much all my lying is for reasonably nice reasons. My grandmothers didn't know when I was living with my girlfiend in college. It would have upset them and to what end? What do they get out of it? Nothing good that I could see and so I lied.

So, we lie. Little lies and big lies for selifish and selfless reasons. I'm not really worried about the why the lies happen, but how living in a world where we know everyone is lying to us affects us.

Because it's not like I'm revealing some amazing hidden truth. Everyone knows that everyone around them is playing some game with some goal, right? Everyone wants something, right?

The problem is I want to get to my goals as efficiently as possible. Since doing things requires interacting with lots of people I need to have some sort of guess as to what they're going to do. Because everyone's lying though, there's jitter on the certainty of that picture. Does my boss think I'm a slacker? Does my girlfriend think I'm arrogant? Maybe. I haven't really asked them directly and even if I did I can't entierly trust them since they might lie to me to avoid hurting my feelings.

Who doesn't know to lie when asked the question, "does this make my butt look big?"

Knowing the truth certainly comes with a price. It's emotionally uncomfortable to know what people around us really think. We've got millions of years of practice comminicating through lots of implicit channels — facial expressions, tone, posture. Ways of saying things while maintaining plausible deniability.

But we're getting closer and closer to not needing or wanting to be lied to any more, especially when we understand what we get in return.

Because what do I get when I know what the people around me really think. It takes the jitter out of the picture. I don't have to guess about how other people see me, I've shown them, they've told me.

Am I making sense so far? Honest expression reduces jitter in our projections of other people. Fair enough.

Ok, the second part has to do with what you have to do, as a person, because of the jitter in your projections.

Let's say I'm in he office on Monday. I've spent the weekend getting high and doing walking meditation in the park. This is, I think, a pretty cool thing, but the people in my office neither get high not meditate, so I don't talk about it.

As I'm standing there talking I have to figure out what to say, right? There's some natural impulse as to what I'd like to say and then I have to check this idea against the picture I consider to be socially appropriate and then I actually say something.

That process of filtering has to take place somewhere in my head. There's only so much meat in there. It has to happen somewhere, right?

This is why the truth is a good thing. When we are just honest to start with we both spend less time in maintaining the projection and, if the people around us are also being honest, we are able to make more accurate predictions for the time that we do spend.

What do we do with those saved cycles? Well, we get to spend them on perceptual tasks. Noticing what is going on around and inside us. We can become more immersed in the experience of whatever we happen to be doing.

Which is pretty much what happens to me when I get high. I simply cease to give a shit about what people I don't care about think and I focus on trying to really listen to people I do care about. I gain the ability to focus much more precisely than I can while sober.

Which is around the time I start considering getting arrested.

The thing is, imagine that this whole cognitive workload reduction transcendant cognitive model actually works. Imagine that it is actually true that you can make people more present in their experience of their daily lives, whatever that may be, by helping them to be more honest.

What do you do then if something that you feel has been helping you to connect to the divine in your own life is illegal in the world you live in?

What possible response is there to this other than to stand in opposition to that law?

Not that I'm in any way judging most of the people who don't get arrested all the time. They don't think that they've done anything wrong other than break a law. I actually believe that I'm part of a system that is keeping us, the organisms with the greatest capacity for peace to ever inhabit this rock, from realizing that capacity for peace.

To not do something in that situation is to be a collosal douchebag, right?

Certainly there are people on the planet that are arguably bigger douchebags around, but they mostly don't know that they're being douchebags.

Most people really do think that they're living an OK life and doing enough with their time and the resources they have access to. I don't.

For better or worse I have a really low tolerance for bullshit. I go into my job and I see that at least 75% of it is pointless and all I can think of is I get another 50 years tops.

Those 50 years seem like a long time right now, but when I think about how fast the last 30 have gone, I know that 80 will be here far far too soon.

It makes me want to not spend another second doing bullshit I don't really believe in. It makes me want to do something about the world we live in. Something that I actually believe in. Something like saying, "drugs are a complex issue that can't be solved with simple rules and we do a disservice to people to people by preventing them from making the decision themselves."

Because that's a third part of the model. What happens when people start paying more attention to their own experience?

Unfortunately, a certain number of them are likely going to get pissed off. I'm not the only one who puts up with a lot of bullshit in my life, we all do. I can pretty much guarantee that as people notice how much they're not going to be pleased.

I've asked a couple dozen people the question, "Imagine that whereever you go you always have to money to buy anything you want. It is impossible for you to want for something material. What do you do with you time?"

The answer I got more often than not was, "I don't know. I've not really thought about it."

You get caught up in the day to day grind and you forget to pay attention to what you really like and enjoy doing. That how we manage to get 75% of the people in the country to show up and work eight hours at a stretch when almost no one can be really productive that long.

Everyone knows what it is like to be at your job and hating it. You don't do a good job. You don't want to be there. You'd rather be somewhere else doing something else.

There will be a certain percentage of people when faced with the realization of just how little they enjoy what they are doing will walk out the door and never turn around.

It'd be chaotic for a bit, but I think ultimately it'd be worth it.

I'm a grad student currently in computer science. Quite a few of the guys around me kinda like what they are doing, but alot of them are in it because they don't think they can make money doing what they actually want to do.

One of the things that a person can do when faced with the realization that they're gonna die is pick some great work to try and accomplish. Find some statement to make or problem to solve and devote themselves to taking their little span of time and pour their need to create into that project.

Certainly you don't know just how long you have, but you have a guess based on how long other people similar to yourself have lived. So, you do what you can within that context and try to do the best you can.

For example, my great work is to try and be a modern peacemaker. To take these amazing tools that we have built and try to leverage them to change the ways that people interact with one another.

Behavior change doesn't happen through avoidance. That's the problem most people have with diets or quitting smoking. They only focus on what they are leaving behind and what it takes is to cultivate an awareness of how what you're doing keeps you from where you want to be.

I don't want to go to jail. Seriously. It might be mildly interesting, but I don't want to lose the freedom to be with the people I love and care for when I want to.

But I would be willing to go to jail if I thought that it would help make the world a better place.