Your Riddle. Your Void. Your Abyss. Your Nihilism. Your Madness. | How will you solve your riddle?

Hello, this is a transcript of my recent podcast, however, I’ve created and edited it with a reader in mind. Enjoy and feel free to let me know your thoughts in the comments! Have a wonderful weekend.

Transcript (So excuse some weird wording:)): Episode Link

Hello everyone, welcome to another episode. So today is another one of those episodes where I ask that you stick with me. Some of the notes I've prepared...well, it's meant to be a sort of experiment with my own self-expression. Partially motivated by this show I watched on Netflix, my current obsession with Carl Jung, and my recent encounters with the child version of myself following me around in my dreams at night(more on that coming in the exclusive newsletter).

So I will not blame you for considering this useless some useless ramblings of a madman that thinks he's way deeper than he actually is...because to be honest, I ask myself that every single day.

However, as always I've prepared this for myself, but also others, hoping my way of expressing myself helps others in their own journey of understanding the cosmos and themself. So I'd like to say I appreciate you all for putting up with me sometimes...

If you'd like some whackier thoughts about psychedelics, my dreams, and other more personal thoughts please subscribe to the exclusive section of the newsletter below (also support an independent content creator).



The journey of self-exploration, everywhere we turn and everything we do, is a movement and flow towards something. We often make a movement inwards, as I think we should. The journey of understanding your own mind, your own consciousness, in the hopes of finding answers.

But what answers lie within the depths of your mind?

What does that move inward bring us? Liberation or fear? Well, both, as you cannot have one without the other.

I've had my own experiences with my own internal void, my own perception of Nihilism. If you've been consuming my content for a while you probably know many of my opinions about that place, ones we won't rehash today.

But I see it as a place we all have in our mind, it's an archetype of the human psyche of sorts. A place of mystery; a place of horror; a place of wonder; a place of nothingness; a place of doubt.

It's the place that creates the dreams when you sleep. The same place that makes those dreams into memorable adventures and nightmarish horrors.

However, the thing my mind has grappled with throughout my life is conceptualizing why this place is important and what makes many of us avoid acknowledging the existence of it.

It's the place that creates doubt within us, but sometimes when we lean into that doubt, we find ourselves in a dark place that we cannot find the moves to pull ourselves out.

I see the void as a foundational archetype for the human psyche. You hear people talking about finding their higher selves, humbling themselves, finding wisdom, making peace with life, and finding joy in the small things. These are common answers we hear when we ask people the question, "what is the meaning of life?"

The void is the reminder and it is the actualizer. It's that place—and when I say place, it's a place within you—that keeps you humble, that's why when I say things like if you ever come to a point of believing everything I say, I'm failing at what I do. These thoughts, this research, is simply the ramblings of a student looking for others to learn from. In that process of learning, I hope others find something within their own journey of being a student.

There's no moment in time where the student becomes the teacher. This age-old archetype in our stories is a cowardice description of the evolution of knowledge. We should all be students until the end. Those who call themselves teachers are the cowards who got caught up on their own narratives. They started overly believing their own BS. And they want others to do the same—embrace their narrative.

It's a way for the teacher to spread their myth farther and wider. But should we strive to create our own? Do we desire liberation or do we fall in line with fear?

Often the teacher starts overly believing their own BS. Many of the shortcomings that Sigmund Freud faced was his inability to admit his wrongs, so he doubled down on his narrative. He was unwilling to accept insight from others, thus much of his work has been debunked. It was his arrogance as a teacher that led to Carl Jung and Freud eventually devolving their friendship, as the teacher(Freud) wanted the student(Jung) to fall in line with his ideas.

However, Jung understood the importance of embracing the never-ending journey of the student, this brought him wisdom in later years. He was one of the first people to spread this idea that life is this continuous journey of understanding your own inner personality. The personality or the inner self is not something that is found and the fixed, it's something that is constantly being cultivated.

I had a shaman once express concerns for what I do through my writing, content creation, and podcasting. As many of you know, I'm also a ghostwriter, so I'm often creating a narrative for those much older than me and that have much more life experience. The shaman was concerned that I had embraced the role of the teacher and could never take time to learn, I was baffled by this, how can one learn if they don't find a means to express their own internal thoughts?

It's necessary. It's the expression of your thoughts that creates an opportunity for learning. You cannot be a student without an outward expression of your inner self, otherwise, you will find yourself confirming your own inner monologue, you will live in your own reality. And your own reality is not always matching a more collective shared reality.

But this thought stuck with me, what is the purpose of the teacher? I see us all as students learning, moving, growing, and evolving. It's a constant cycle of give and take, a sort of dance within the human experience.

The teacher becomes blind to their own teachings, thus finding themselves falling into a cycle of cognitive dissonance.  The teacher begins wanting to only see themselves as the teacher, as though they've evolved to some next state or some next progression. When we move into the perception that we move towards a progression, we overly fixate on a future endpoint, which creates this perception of some ultimate truth for our own inner self to fixate on. So the teacher wants to see themselves as a teacher, thus only wants to teach.

Maybe the better way to put it is, we must embrace the give and take of constantly moving to and from a state of being the teacher and being the student.

As I do think many teachers embrace the life of the student, but I also see, especially those that call themselves gurus, they think achieved this full understanding of the mind, life, and some truth...they think of themselves as merely a teacher. It's foolish. You cannot be a great teacher if you ever stop calling yourself a student.


A deeper dive into the mind with the full version of the newsletter:)


But back to the void.

We see this idea of the void expressed through the Hero's journey, the archetype found in many of our stories. This is what the Odyssey, Lord of the Rings, The Matrix, Harry Potter, and many other stories represent! They are an external expression of a journey that takes place internally. That place you must overcome, accept, embrace, and love—that is the void.

You live with it, respect it, love it, and fear it—all at fucking once. 

What do you do when you remember that place? Do you embrace tradition or do you say fuck you to the narratives around you? When you say fuck you to those narratives, that's when you start creating and that's where you find your potential. You embrace the light and dark.

In a sense it's a place where madness and peace lie simultaneously, for me, I see them as Yen and Yang.

But I have a story for you to kind of express this mystery of the void, of madness, and of mystery.

In Lewis Carroll's Alice in Wonderland the iconic character, the Mad Hatter gives a riddle to Alice, he says: "why is a raven like a writing-desk?"

Later on he asks Alice, "have you guessed the riddle yet?"

Alice replies, "No, I give up...what's the answer?"

Hatter says, "I haven't the slightest idea."

Now, you might be thinking what is the point of that! But what I found fascinating is that Carroll actually never intended for there to be an answer, it was to remain a mystery. It was a question with no answer, but also every answer, the answer is whatever you want it to be. Although, whatever you want it to be, might not really be the answer.

But wait, here is what I found that adds to this idea of the mystery, our culture viewed this riddle as something to attempt at solving, they wanted to embrace the madness of the mystery—they wanted to embrace the void. The answers they found, they would have to live with them, embrace them, but ultimately live with not knowing.

A famous puzzle expert Sam Loyd suggested possible answers, people wrote in their answers to the Lewis Carroll Societ, and Stephen King inserted a potential answer in his famous horror novel, The Shining.

And I will be providing none of the answers, as this is my point, you must embrace the mystery of not having an answer. You can look, learn, and try to understand the answers of others, but ultimately it's your mystery to embrace.

Anyway, what motivated these thoughts today? Well, I watched this episode of "Love, Death, and Robots" on Netflix and they had this adaption of the short story "Beyond the Aquila Rift."

I thought about summarizing this story, but I'm going to try and present this with the intent in mind that it will be better if you watch it after. It won't be necessary for what I present, however, it might help provide that physical imagery that I know that I sometimes need.

I'm actually going to allude to a rough theme of the story, but I'm presenting this with a symbolic representation of the human psyche.

We have consciousness. We have this awareness to us, as in the "I think therefore, I am." But when we look inward, we sense our emotions, and those feeling states. Now, think of those moments you've had with anger, sadness, joy, hope, terror, love, envy, and everything else. You felt the flows of those emotions and within some of those moments, you've felt the overwhelming feeling. That feeling where you lash out, you break down, or feel those tears of joy roll down your cheek.

And you wonder, where does that come from? The mind, maybe my material brain mechanisms, or maybe something yet undiscovered. After a time, maybe you begin seeing that you add emotions to the social structures around you. An opposing political party brings you anger, a religious group brings you peace(and anxiety), and your first serious relationship provides that overwhelming feeling of love, but eventual heartbreak.

But wait, within your mind, what is beneath all of that? A hope for recognition that I'm experiencing all of this, it feels real, I'm feeling suffering, I'm feeling joy, and I'm having moments of peace—yet, the thought comes, what is this for?

I must be suffering for a reason. I must feel this love for a reason. I must feel this idea is right for a reason. I must, I must, I must...but does it must?

Here is a Carl Jung quote that I hope provides some insight on this:

"Be silent and listen: have you recognized your madness and do you admit it? Have you noticed that all your foundations are completely mired in madness? Do you want to recognize your madness and welcome it in a friendly manner? You wanted to accept everything. So accept madness too."

You see, that's the void, your own madness. Remember a time you woke up from a strange dream, those times where it sets the mood for the day. Those times you look in the mirror and that moment comes, "why am I in this body?" You look up at the stars, quite literally seeing a piece of the external void. You arrive at a party, you find yourself shifting towards the walls of the room, we stare at the people surrounding us, a disconnect occurs—an anxiety overcomes us, as for that moment we don't recognize who or what we are, we wonder what is our place here in this cosmos?

So what are we left with?

Some find a religion, a community, or a political group, somewhere to provide a narrative. Although, do you find it curious that if you don't match up enough with a particular group, you find yourself cast out and no longer allowed. For if you dare question the group, you dare to remind them of the void.

Part of us desire these ultimate answers, but often the answers provided are those given by members of humanity just as confused as we are. They themselves trying to escape their own inner void, so they give out oversimplified answers of truth for aspects of life, getting people to follow those myths in return.

However, this isn't how life in the cosmos works, if we don't allow moments of chaos within us you will never find peace, as your own inner abyss will call you back, demanding attention.

It's the place that provides us liberation as it holds an acceptance for who we are. Maybe consider this, if the description of yourself is "I'm normal"...you're not close to your true potential.

The humbling nature of the abyss is the nonexistence of certainty. That you must be the one to make your life meaningful. You can follow the narratives of others, clamping the chains on yourself that they entail—as those chains provide moments of peace, surely, yet your abyss will come calling. Your abyss wants you to liberate yourself from a more collective abyss that surrounds you. You begin to realize life does not have to be that serious.

The life of the mind has no rules.

But how it relates to that Netflix episode I mentioned is it's the recognition that sometimes we are forced to continually wake up from the trance we and society put ourselves in. The trance that often brings us suffering, as it acts as an avoidance in understanding the inner self. You will send yourself into continuous unconscious suffering if you avoid your inner abyss, but once you embrace the void, life becomes as meaningful as you desire—and for me, that might be my greatest hope for peace.

As Nietzsche said:

"Madness is something rare in individuals —but in groups, parties, peoples, and ages, it is the rule."

The abyss is all around us, so you might as well understand your own, as it's probably the closest thing to your own liberation.

Although, you can dismiss everything I've said as the narrative of a madman, something to be simply dismissed. Maybe everything I've said in this episode is meaningless ramblings of someone that has leaned too far into his own abyss; maybe this episode was a creation of a meaningless riddle; maybe this episode is as meaningful for you as you want it to be.

Stay curious.

Much love,

Brenden

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