Functional Prayer Guide

Do not pray for success.

Pray for the wisdom to see the ways you can best serve the world.  You will begin to cultivate the image of a better world in your heart. Work, in service of the world according to that image. You will be more successful than you can imagine.

Do not pray for happiness.

Pray in gratitude for the aspects of your life that make you happy. You will begin to cultivate a habit of giving thanks for all of the good things in your life. Work, maintaining and growing those aspects of the world that make you happy. You will be happier than you can imagine.

Do not pray for forgiveness.

Pay for the courage to see how your actions have harmed yourself and others. You will begin to cultivate a habit of care in your actions.  Work, repairing the damages you cause the world.  You will feel more at peace than you can imagine.

Faith without works is dead.

Work in service of faith endures.

The Journey Home

A frame is pushed upon the stack.

An electron, stable in its orbital, is hit by an incoming photon. Its energy level increases.

A  boy, stable in his youth, experiences something unexplained. His life becomes complex.

A pebble is dropped into a lake, and the ripples travel outwards towards the shore.


The wave from the ripple starts as a unified whole, but because the pond is not a perfect circle, the same ripple hits the sand at many different  places and times



Eventually the ripple from the pebble completes its exploration of the shore. Its story is compete. The most interesting location was where a boy scoops brown water from Lake Lorelei,  and pours it into a turquoise bucket. They boy sits in the warm sand and imagines the lake getting shallower, as he fills the bucket with water.

“If I pour this bucket into the lake, the lake will get a tiny bit deeper,” he imagines, and sees that it is true.

“What if i just poured a single drop into the lake – would the lake still get deeper?”  He imagines, and sees that it is true.

It smells of damp, with mussels on the rocks, and the creaking of a pontoon boat tugging at the dock – but he doesn’t notice these, because he is lost in thought.

The boy becomes a teenager. He continues to imagine.

He explores, he journeys – he learns about the world.

He stumbles, he fails, he fails.

He dreams, he yearns – he wonders through the world.

He pleads, he cries, he wails.

He gets back up, and tries again – over and over – until lying on the floor is just a less comfortable way of standing, until getting back up becomes a habit.


The electron returns to its stable energy level, and emits a wave packet – like a ripple in the lake.


The wave packet from the photon travels outward from the surface of the star – a sphere at first, just like the ripple in the lake was a circle.  The ripple in the lake, caused by a pebble falling, explores all points of the shore – some sooner than others. The photon in space, caused by an electron returning to its natural energy state, explores all branches of the multiverse – some sooner than others.


The longest path in all cases is discovered – to maximizing learning, to increase the quantity of the external world reflected by the internal world, to strengthen the fidelity of the reflection that reverberates along the strands of conscious experience, braided through spacetime like the strings on a harp.


The boy becomes a man.  The electron returns to its ground state. The ripples subside. The stack frame pops.

All knowledge comes from grasping the infinite – and all journeys eventually lead home.

The Mental World Matters – We Ignore it at our Peril

It is not the enforcement of laws that prevents crime – it is the widespread belief that laws will be enforced which prevents crime. The difference is important.

If the law is always enforced, but people believe it never is, then they will still commit crimes because they don’t expect to be caught. If the law is never enforced, but people believe it always is, then nobody will commit crimes for fear of being caught.

The beliefs matter more than the reality.  Changing people’s beliefs without changing reality changes the way people behave. If reality changes, but people’s beliefs don’t, people’s behavior won’t change.

The mental world matters. We ignore it at our peril.

It is not the enforcement of contracts that helps business – it is the expectation that contracts will be fulfilled.

If contracts are always enforced, but people believe contracts are never enforced, then they won’t sign contracts and the economy will flounder. If contracts are never enforced, but people believe that contracts are always  enforced, they will still sign and follow through with the contracts, and the economy will flourish.

The beliefs matter more than the reality. The mental world matters. We ignore it at our peril.

Yes – People try to align their beliefs towards reality.  A world in which everyone believes “the contracts are always enforced” will not last long as people’s experience tells them otherwise.  Yet we all know that everyone believes things which are wrong. No thinking person can reasonably state with certainty that all of their beliefs are correct.     It is the beliefs which determine outcomes in relationships between human beings, and enforcement only serves as a mechanism to spread a belief – we must constantly remind ourselves that enforcement is not the goal in itself.

We often hear “A monopoly on violence is the basis of all civilization” – this is stupid idea that only an unthinking moron could support. I apologize for my violence in this verbal space  but i hold the monopoly here, so you must be respectful.  If you think my argument is absurd – then I hope you apply that same logic to the application of violence by a monopoly in the promotion of peace. Police going around smacking people on the head with sticks all day – as long as it’s the same police force – is not the basis for a civilization.  A distributed group which applies violence rarely, and only in response to immediate threats – that is a basis for civilization, even if it’s not a monopoly.

The absence of violence is the basis of civilization. The monopoly adds value only if it leads to the absence of  violence, so people can go about their day-to-day lives without fear of violence.  People would much rather live in a world where many different groups used violence, but rarely, and always predictably, to stop immediate threats – than  a world where a single monopoly applies violence frequently and randomly.

A world in which violence remains changed, but people’s expectation of it goes down, improves.  A world in which violence remains unchanged, but people’s expectations of it increases, becomes palpably worse.  A world in which perceptions are accurate is ideal – but we don’t have that, and we need to stop pretending that we do.

The thinking “as long as we get the laws right, and then always enforce those laws, the world will get bet getter” – is totally absurd on its face.  It’s equivalent to saying “if we can just come up with the right reasons to be violent towards one another, then the world will improve.”  The existence of uncomputable functions should make this obvious to you. Or if you aren’t big on computing theory, read I Robot, or just follow up on  the story Jesus.  It doesn’t matter what set of principles you choose, unthinkingly and violently enforcing them will not make the world better.

“We must only use violence when we have an appropriate reason” is certainly an improvement on “We must use violence whenever we wish.” But the improvement is the filter – the reduction in acceptable reasons to use violence – not in the application of new, fresh forms of violence.

A monopoly on violence accomplishes nothing without the peoples’ faith in it. Enforcement of laws does nothing without people’s faith in it.  Enforcement of contracts does nothing without people’s faith in  it. The expectation of all of these things is what drives progress and makes commerce possible.

This is why lawlessness by the law is so destructive – because it threatens people’s belief in the law to be fair and impartial.

In Case of Emergency, Shatter Ego

i am not a process, but the pattern.
i am not a system, but the shape.
i am not a rapid, but the river.
i am not the ocean, but a wake.

i am not the etching, but an image.
i am not the constant, but a rate.
i am not the message, but a relay.
i am not a signal, but the wait.

i am not a digit, but an index.
i am not a value, but a space.
i am not a body, but a person.
i am not a vertex, but a face.

Here’s What It’s Like to Find Eye Contact Uncomfortable

Like many people on the autism spectrum, I don’t like making eye contact with people unless I know them and I trust them. Eye contact feels very intimate to me.  A handshake is one thing, but when I look in someone’s eyes, it’s a very information-dense channel.  It feels far too intimate for me to feel comfortable making eye contact with strangers or people I barely know.

Unfortunately for myself and other autistics,  our society says it’s important for me to make eye contact with people so that they feel comfortable, and that they know they can trust me. As a member of a small minority, what makes me comfortable is irrelevant.  I’ve learned to do what makes other people comfortable, because this gets me better results – but it still feels weird.

To understand how this feels, imagine someone saying the following:

“We live in a world where the polite thing to do, when you talk to someone, is to use your hand to rub the other person’s genitals. Not too hard! That’s weird, and creepy. That’s it. Just a light, gentle touch, to show the other person that you are trustworthy and honest. People who don’t rub your genitals when they talk to you – they must be nervous. Or uncomfortable.  When they act uncomfortable, it makes everyone else uncomfortable.  Why are they so uncomfortable? They are probably lying to you! My Daddy always told me, you should never trust a man who doesn’t stroke your shaft when he’s talking to you.”

And while they’re saying this, they are reaching for your genitals.

See how weird that is?

But to a culture which finds that level of intimacy normal and acceptable among strangers, if you don’t do this thing that makes you uncomfortable but everyone else insists is normal – then you get labeled the weird one who makes other people feel weird.

People who are not neurotypical are often said to have a “disorder” because they have trouble getting along in the every day world – which means they have trouble interacting with neurotypical people.   At one level, this makes sense – if you have trouble functioning, you could use some help.

But are we really the disordered ones?  The world as it is now is full of racism, sexism, homophobia, nationalism, and all kinds of other divisive, hurtful things people do – and these are all considered normal. 

Imagine a politician who truly loved all Americans equally. This person cares equally when any American dies – equally – regardless of who that American is. This means they either spend all day curled in the fetal position sobbing at the injustice of the world, or else they don’t even blink when their friend dies.  Either way, that person is unelectable – and yet, the tenets we claim to uphold – equality and concern for our fellow man – suggest that behavior is, ostensibly,  the ideal for someone in our culture. A person who says “I care for about 150 people, and then by extension maybe 1000 or so other people. Everybody else doesn’t matter much to me, but I’ll do my best to account for their concerns because that’s my job” – that person would be telling the truth, and would never get any votes.

Until we think our society, as a whole, is healthy, we should probably stop labelling those who have trouble interacting with an unhealthy society as broken.

How To End the Culture of Constant Outrage

There are a lot of things to be outraged about. As the saying goes, “If you aren’t outraged, you aren’t paying attention.”   And yet, we all do have limited attention, and most of us need to spend most of that attention to focus on our work and ourselves, or else our own lives suffer. Outrage directed constantly at different things in the larger world is exhausting and can lead anyone to burn out.

How can we stop this?

Let me start with one example I see starting to change: In my social network, I am already seeing the loudest critics of violent “Muslims” to be real Muslims who say “this is not what the Prophet called for” – these are friends of mine who are Muslim, but outraged at the acts of terror, far more upset than anyone else i see. They are leaders of the 21st century for doing this.

You may think, “Isn’t that the ‘no true Scotsman’ fallacy?”  You’re right, if it’s one Scotsman defending the group “Scotsmen” from accusations by someone angry at the actions of a different self-identified Scotsman, then the line of argument is ineffective and weak. But if it’s one Scotsman attacking the outside Scotsman, saying “you can’t be part of our group if you act like that” – it’s a powerful argument we need more of.

We’re at a turning point in the 21st century here, where every large group is under attack from the outside from every other large group – because all large groups have problems just like all people have problems. “But we are a good group of good people! You attackers, who are not part of the group, must be the bad ones” is a PR tactic from the 20th century that fails because we all know it’s disingenuous and doesn’t really work.

The way out of this constant bickering and internet anger-mobbing is for every group to publicly exercise the self-criticism necessary to be a good person. Each group must show that it acknowledges its own flaws and works on them. The word corporation just means “body”, and if you think of your body as a collection of diverse drives, wills, goals and aims, all operating the same flesh-covered skeleton, you can focus on strengthening your good side while improving your weaknesses, instead of responding with anger when someone says ‘here is how you can improve.’

Imagine how much better the world is when the loudest critics of violent cops are not their victims, but real cops who put the law above their own lives, who genuinely live to serve and protect.

Imagine when the loudest critics of hurtful “Christians” are real Christians who say “we must serve the marginalized and the downtrodden first, as Jesus calls us to do, above all else.”

Imagine when the loudest critics of the greedy corrupt, banking system are real capitalists who say, “capitalism doesn’t excuse you being an asshole; it’s not in anyone’s self interest for you to rig LIBOR, cheat foreign exchange rates, or launder money for drug lords.”

When you see an outside group doing something horrible,  I suggest that the anger you feel might best be directed inward at self improvement, either on your own corporation (Your Body and Mind, Inc) or else a larger corporation you’re part of, such as a social cause you believe in, that maybe has a few rough edges, but overall is trying to do something good for the world – which is pretty much how every group sees itself.

When all groups start self-criticizing, discerning adults can see whose self criticism is most genuine, and that will help us determine which groups we can trust – even if we don’t agree with them. Of course there’s still plenty of room for groups to criticize each other. But if you aren’t doing at least 1:1, self-critcism:other-criticism, you’ve probably got blind spots, and you’re probably turning other people away.

That’s a much better world.

A System is Created (Plus Bonus Extra Unrelated Story)

A system is created.

The system says: “Here is how the world works. These are the things that people need. These are The Good Things, which give people what they need. You will be rewarded for doing the Good Things. These are the Bad Things, which hurt people.  Punishing those who do Bad Things is a Good Thing and will be rewarded.” The system satisfies some human needs, and this makes people happy – but all systems have flaws, and this system is no exception.

The system rewards people for doing the Good Things – but the system sometimes gets wrong how much Good a Good Thing accomplishes, and so it rewards some Good Things too much. The system punishes people for doing Bad Things, but it sometimes gets wrong which things are actually Bad Things, and how bad those Bad Things are.

Some people do good, regardless of the system they are in.  Most others will follow the system, regardless of they good they do.

The Good Things Which are Excessively Rewarded draw in more people who do them – because people want to do Good Things, and because people like being rewarded.    As people are drawn to do the Good Things Which are Excessively Rewarded, the portion of the system which exists to reward those Good Things grows and grows – until these Good Things are now rewarded beyond all proportion to the Good that they accomplish. The other Good Things are now rewarded substantially less.

Those Who Punish the Doers of Bad Things are rewarded, because Punishing Those Who Do Bad Things is a Good Thing. In order to do more Good Things, the Punishers must find more Doers of Bad Things to punish.  Minor Bad Things are made into Major Bad Things, and things which are harmless are made into Bad Things, so that Those Who Punish the Doers Of Bad Things can do more Punishing of Doers of Bad Things.

Eventually, there mare any Bad Things which are not bad things, and they are punished beyond all proportion to the hurt they cause.  The people who get the most rewards are those who Punish Many doers of Bad Deeds (which are not actually bad) and those who Do Good Things which are good but not as good as the rewards suggest.

Human needs are not met. People suffer. People fight. Many Very Bad Things happen, so that a new Good Thing can happen:

A new system is created.


A plant grows towards the sun. The sunlight hits the leaves on one side of the plant, which triggers growth on the opposite side of the plant – the side which faces the darkness. Increased growth on the darker side of the plant causes the plant to bend towards the light.

If the part of the plant which had the most sunlight grew the fastest, the plant would bend away from the light, and get none. Instead, because the growth of the plant happens most in the areas which get the least amount of sunlight, the plant bends towards the sun.