Do not take what I have said as argumentative, it is rather a flow of thought.
I like arguments, I don't like fights. I see an argument as a conflict of ideas. Conflicts mean change. Change is good (from my point of view). A conflict is not a fight. A conflict is the intersection of different points of view.
I also studied mainly from books but have tried to incorporate each system into my life at least for a time.
I never tried to incorporate various systems in my life. I simply went along with the ones that appealed to me, those that fit to my personality. I never tried to mold my personality to other systems.
I was never attracted by religions. I have a very independent and rebel personality, so I don't like when others tell me what to do. In the case of religions, gods would be indirectly doing that. In contrast, yoga is offering a way to seek the root of sufferance. It doesn't tell people what to do, it doesn't tell people what is right and what is wrong, it doesn't tell people what The Truth is.
The explanation of things you write about through science I have sought through religious writings of various backgrounds.
I have also studied Eastern philosophy, yoga. I was never much interested in physical exercise. I wanted to meditate but I am not patient enough. What attracted me to it was the way it dealt with the mind, with what is beneath everything we think is us.
However, I never liked all the metaphors used in it, I was never comfortable with its teachings about forcing the body or the mind to take a spartan path, and I never liked the way it promotes the dissolution of the mind. Well, certainly, I was never taught by a real teacher, I only had books, so I can't say if all these were my distorted understanding of the distorted information which reached me, or the real teachings of yoga. Anyway, I took from yoga what I liked, but for the rest I just let my inner nature prevail and I believe I have succeeded in removing the veil of illusion: conditioning.
There was a time when I was chasing "The Truth". Then came a time when I realized I was wasting my time. Nature forced me to see the Edge, it forced me to see the difference of points of view: Life and Death... and I saw no other truth than the lack of it. Nature simply is and it requires no beliefs, no truths.
To see the Edge one simply needs to renounce searching for the unfindable. There is no Truth, but only perception of Reality. Attempts to find the Truth result in the illusion that there is some item (some concentrated concept) which can be called Truth. In contrast, Reality is everything.
Do you think you could have known that "truth" was unfindable if you had not at least attempted to find it?
Well, I once thought it would be nice if there would be an absolute truth, but I also wondered how can something be an absolute truth. I wondered how it might look. It was like I stopped evolving in order to understand my goal, searching for this truth. Was it real or an illusion?
So, I had to stop wondering, if for no other reason then at least because I couldn't reach it.
How did you realize you were "wasting your time"?
Yoga's teachings say that a yogi must not waste his time trying to achieve supernatural powers. It also teaches that there are many ways to reach a goal, but it's important to keep in mind that goal instead of constantly stopping for something that's on the side of the path.
The reason is very simple: the goal is one, and that is what the yogi has to seek. Everything else is a distraction that slows down the yogi from reaching his goal. Thus, stopping to look at these distractions is a waste of time. However, each individual has his own path to follow.
Once I realized that absolute truth was not my goal in life, I stopped wasting my time.
I personally don't think any struggle which produces growth inside is a waste of time.
Yes, but how do you know when you've grown?
How do you find your path?
You stumble on it. It's personal for every individual.
I would have loved to see you write about Beauty.
Beauty and ugliness are linked to our (feeding) needs / instinct. Most of what represents a threat against our health is considered ugly / disgusting by our brain. Beauty is whatever brings us an advantage.
For example, a human is disgusted by a corpse or by blood flowing from the body (or by the inside of the body - think at a surgery). In such moments, most humans suddenly feel sick at the stomach. These things are a threat to our health or life; they represent the danger.
On the other hand, when a human is sexually involved with another human, he feels the need to touch, lick and kiss his partner.
The stars, for instance, seem to relax us. Sleeping under the open sky, looking at the stars has a soothing effect on us. That's why we consider them beautiful.
This may be non-poetic, but it's reality. We use the words beautiful and ugliness to indirectly refer to things that are either good or bad for our health and lives.
Beauty also seems to exist within our collective unconsciousness as a vision of paradise - how does any culture seek to define it except by an end to suffering and the beauty within it.
What people think doesn't reflect how the human mind works. The mind has a few common limits, but beyond those humans can think fundamentally different. The article about the human mind is not about philosophy, is not about how people regard things, but about how our mind is built to work.
In this case, Beauty is an illusion, a non-existent paradise where one can rest after having to deal with Reality's problems. The content of the illusion doesn't say much about how the mind works, but the fact that it exists does say a lot.
The stars currently serve us no purpose.
Of course they do. They are our origin. We exist because of them. Without them we would not exist. It is not important if something serves us a purpose this moment. It is important if that something could serves us or has served us (us, the biological beings). Our subconsciousness computes all scenarios.
It hurts to be on the outside looking in because you can't believe the illusion once you know its there.
Yes, the flock instinct. It binds individuals in groups and increases the chances (or the individuals and of the group) to survive. Of course, those individuals who are independent, suffer. They must simply fight more than those who accept the flock instinct.
Why is lying a bad thing?
It's about one's own personality.
It depends on what type of mind one wants to have. I prefer a sane mind, as in a mind capable of distinguishing truths from lies, as in a mind who resists (accepting) lies because they destabilize the sanity of the mind, the direction in which the mind goes, the type of mind that nature gave me.
One might argue that if an individual believes that lies are true, the individual is perfectly happy. I call this individual brain-washed, as in someone with a weak mind, one whose mind is incapable to withstand the pressure of sifting through every little thing he / she is being told (to accept as truth), one who has submitted to the control of others.
And why is the individual being told lies? Because someone wants to control him / her in order to gain money, sexual partners, power, subjects who bow to someone's greatness.
If a lie is a treated as truth then there is no difference between truth and lie. How would a computer work if it could not distinguish 0 from 1? How would math work if there were no way to distinguish 1 from 2?
I abhor lies, but this doesn't mean that they all have the same effect on me. Some I am willing to let go because they make a story, as in not intended to surreptitiously replace My Reality. Some I let go because if I were to let them affect my life by picking every one of them apart and exposing it to others, they would have a negative effect on my time, energy, mind and body.
I don't let people see the good in me because then people would expect that. I don't wanna live by anyone's expectations.
The alternative is to live for the rest of your life hiding what's best in you and doing things which are against your own nature (since you're hiding your real nature)... but wait... that's the brain's greatest trick - hiding your best, doing the opposite, yet making you think that you're the (wo)man.
In reality, "other people's expectations" is a simple justification of those who value their commodity and don't want to be bothered evolving, because evolution means paying (high) costs.
You want to not be influenced by them, yet in fact you have just been influenced to hide who you really are. And this is what the other people want: you to hide who you are so that you don't spread your real nature, your good side, or you to do what they want. Also, there is a side effect: you get used to it and keep on doing it.