Handling Difficult People the Three Illusions Way

How do you handle people in your life who are being a pain in the ass?

Well, for a start, we know that we have no free will. So we’re going to handle them however our current neural state handles them. Our neural state is the current structure of our brain, the way our memories, experiences and genetic pre-dispositions have been encoded in the synapses and chemicals of our brains.

However, something you read or hear today can change that neural state for tomorrow. The brain it plastic. It changes over time with every new experience or insight.

So – we know we have no free will. We also know that the other person has no free will. They are behaving exactly as they have to, based on their own neural state. They are an actor on a stage, forced to read certain lines, to play a certain part. And it’s hard to stay angry at someone who has no control over their actions. You can’t be angry at the sky for being covered in rain clouds. You can’t be angry at tree for shedding its leaves during winter. And you can’t be angry at a person for obeying their nature. It’s like the old story of the scorpion and the frog (Google it if you don’t know it, and try to find the version told by Orson Welles).

If someone is acting badly towards you, it often means they aren’t happy. Happy people, with healthy self-esteems, usually don’t treat others badly. They try to build the people around them up, make them feel good about themselves. They lift people up, they don’t knock them down. So if the person treating you badly is unhappy and doesn’t have any control over their behaviour, they are probably upsetting more people around them than just you, which, in turn, makes those people dislike them, which makes them feel worse about themselves – and the cycle continues.

So when someone is lashing out at me, I normally feel sorry for them.

On top of that, we also know that the concept of “identity” is problematic. We have realised that there isn’t a “me”, a distinct collection of atoms that is separate from the rest of the universe. So when someone is being mean to me, who, in fact, are they being mean to? They are being mean to the universe, to themselves. Now – do you think the universe cares? Does someone on the other side of the planet care what this person thinks, says or does? Does a tree care? Does a dog? No? Then why should I care?

They can’t be attacking “me”, because there is no “me” to attack. As Bob would say, there is no “reference point”. It’s like water off a duck’s back. Insults and attacks slide right off. The hardest problem I have when being insulted is to fight back a smile, which itself is unkind and can make the other person feel worse. But it’s actually quite amusing when someone exposes their pain and anger so openly by turning it on someone else. Not that the fact that they are hurting is at all funny, but just that their behaviour is so transparent and immature. It’s like when my five year old gets angry about something and tells me that he’s the boss of the house. His defiance is hilarious but if he sees me smiling, he gets even angrier. It’s the same with mean people. They can be unintentionally funny. So try not to smile. Even when it’s blaringly obvious that their anger towards you is an indication of their own issues.

So, once we understand that we shouldn’t take their insults and attacks personally, how should we handle the situation?

Usually I’ll try to think about what they need from me at that moment. My goal is to initially defuse the situation, then try to turn into something positive, where there are no winners or losers. But that’s hard to do, even with the Three Illusions, because our brains are designed with a “fight or flight” response to threatening situations. When we are being attacked, our subconscious defense mechanisms kick into gear – adrenaline courses through our veins, and our conditioning kicks in. Even after 30 years of completely accepting that I don’t exist as a “me”, my F/F system still kicks in from time to time. But it gets nipped in the bud pretty quickly as my post-Three Illusions wiring kicks in. After a few seconds to a few minutes, I’m usually thinking about how to defuse the situation so it doesn’t escalate. And I’m still not great at this part of it. My instinctive response is to think “I don’t exist, they don’t exist, this is all just a story going on in my head, it’s all just atoms” and to disengage. Which honestly probably isn’t the best way of handling these situations. So I’m trying to get better at it.

People’s egos usually want to be assuaged and they want to be heard. So it’s helpful to say something like “I see where you’re coming from, let me think about it some more and come back to you with a more thoughtful response. Can we park this issue for now and talk about it more later?”

Buying some time for both parties to calm down.

The important thing is that I’m not left with any anger, resentment or anxiety over the confrontation, because I know neither of us has any free will and I feel empathy for the person who is attacking me. This helps me think about what the other person needs from me and how to create a positive outcome for everyone.

The Voight-Kampff Test

On average, about one percent of the population rank highly on the psychopath test. But there are certain kinds of organisations that have a higher percentage, they seem to attract psychopaths like poop attracts flies – the military, the police, politics, religion, finance. It makes sense – they are all industries that provide ready access to power over others, one of the things psychopaths crave. Psychopathic cultures occur when a lack of institutional checks and balances allow psychopaths in power to hire other psychopaths.

It looks like this is another sector that might be thick with them.

Day to Day with the Three Illusions

What is the day to day experience of something who understands the Three Illusions? 

This is really what people often want to know. How would my life be different if I investing time and energy into understanding this? Is it a profound-enough difference to justify the investment? Or will it turn out to be a waste of time and energy because it’s either ultimately meaningless in terms of reducing my emotional pain, or it will be too difficult for me to absorb and I’ll quit it like I’ve quit other things before, without experiencing much of a return on my investment? 

I’ll attempt to answer the first question first. 

My day to day experience is much like yours in most ways. I wake up, have a coffee, greet my wife and youngest child, and eventually go about my day – work, play, phone calls, emails, writing, recording, research. Most of it is inherently enjoyable. Some is not. After work, I play with my youngest child, have dinner with the family, get the kid to bed, then go back to work, while my wife usually sits beside me, doing her own work, reading or watching a show. Then we retire to bed, go to sleep to start again. 
What may be different from you is that, in my life, there is no stress. No anxiety. No fear about the future. No guilt, no resentment, no anger lasting more than a moment. No feelings of self-hatred,  no emotional or psychological pain. 

I’m completely at peace with the world around me and my place in it. And that peace has lasted for 30 years. 

Why is there such peace? 

That’s what understanding the Three Illusions provides. 

Understanding the illusion of free will means I know that every single action that I have done, or will ever do, was/is 100% determined by forces beyond any control. This means I can’t feel guilt at my past actions because they had to happen exactly as they did. I can still feel regret that things happened that way – as in, if I could have designed the perfect universe, I would have made things happen differently, either because of the impact of my actions on myself or on others. However, I know that things had to happen as they did, because free will doens’t exist, never did exist, cannot possible exist, and so I fully accept all of my past, present and future actions, just as I fully accept the actions of those around me. This removes anger and resentment from my life, because how can I resent someone who did exactly what they had to do? 

Understanding the illusion of time means I don’t worry about the future because I know that everything that will happen in the future is already happening right now. I know that “time is relative” – as in our experience of time is relative to our position in space-time and that the prevaling view of physics is that all of time co-exists with the present moment. Everything that has ever happened or will ever happening co-exists with right now. Which means the future is set in stone. It’s already happened. We just have to catch up to it. And so I accept the future as a foregone conclusion, which prevents me from worrying about it. It’s like watching the first episode of a TV show after the series has already gone to air. I don’t worry about how the characters will end up, because there is absolutely nothing I can do about it. Worry is an activity that is tied to the idea of being able to change future events and the concept that there might be multiple ways things can turn out. Of course, if it’s already happened, there is only ONE way it can turn out and we can have zero impact on that – so worrying about it is meaningless. 

Finally, understanding the illusion of identity means I fully accept that “Cameron” is an illusion of the senses and that the reality is that “what I am” is merely the entire Universe – and that this is also true of everyone else, and every THING else. Things that appear to happen to “Cameron” has a little importance to me as things happening right now on the surface of Mars, or things that happened last week in my favourite television show. They are interesting to watch and I might laugh or cry along with them. Last night, for example, I teared up at an episode of 30 Rock. I’m not even kidding. But I know the characters and their situations aren’t real. They are a contrivance, manufactured, and they have exactly as much reality as I give them. I can laugh and cry at them in one moment, then turn the TV off and forget all about their trials and tribulations. 

All of this means that life is experience without any significant psychological or emotional pain. All events are greeted with the same level of anticipation and essential happiness. We accept everything that happens as being necessary to the story. Life becomes a breeze. 
As for the second question – this isn’t hard to understand. The only questions is whether or not you can accept it. Quite often people will say “I get it, it’s hard to argue with, but I just can’t seem to accept it.” 
But I can explain it in a few seconds:

Decisions are thoughts. Thoughts are properties of the brain. The brain is made of atoms. Atoms obey the laws of physics. Therefore all decisions are the result of atoms obeying the laws of physics. Therefore there can be no “free will”.  Einstein explained that time and space are dimensions of the same construct. That’s why we call it “space-time”. And, as all points in space co-exist, therefore all points in time must also co-exist. Therefore the future has already happened.  The atoms that make up your body are billions of years old. Most of the atoms that made up your body 10 years ago are today something else. The atoms that are you today, were something else 10 years ago. The atoms that will be you 10 years from now are currently something else. Which atoms are you? If we could put on magic glasses that allowed us to see at sub-atomic levels, we would notice (according to quantum mechanics) that atoms don’t have a hard shell. Their outer shell is made of electrons which, most of the time, exist either as a wave function and/or a probability cloud (in QM speak:  a wave function from which a probability distribution of the location of an electron upon measurement can be inferred). So the electron “shells” of your atoms cross over with the “shells” of other atoms – in the air around you, the furniture you are sitting on, the people around you. Therefore all things literally blend into one another, and all of these things are the “body” of the universe. We are the universe experiencing itself. 

That’s the essence of the Three Illusions. Grasp this and you will live a life free of psychological and emotional pain. It really is that simple. 

For more on The Three Illusions, check out the podcast or book.

How To False Flag A War With Iran

On the Bullshit Filter this week we covered the recent Gulf Of Oman oil tanker attacks and the US claims that Iran did it.

As evidence, the US proferred up some grainy spycam video of what they claim to be an Iranian ship pulling an unexploded limpet mine off one of tankers.

We explained on the podcast all of the problems with this evidence, but get this: In 2008, investigative journalist Seymour Hersh claimed that during a previous incident in the same Straits of Hormuz, there was a meeting in Dick Cheney’s office about how to start a war with Iran. According to ThinkProgress: “during the meeting in Cheney’s office, an idea was considered to dress up Navy Seals as Iranians, put them on fake Iranian speedboats, and shoot at them.”

HERSH: There was a dozen ideas proffered about how to trigger a war. The one that interested me the most was why don’t we build — we in our shipyard — build four or five boats that look like Iranian PT boats. Put Navy seals on them with a lot of arms. And next time one of our boats goes to the Straits of Hormuz, start a shoot-up.

Occupy Wall Street’s Children

Remember when New York cops pepper sprayed peaceful protesters during the Obama administration?

Imagine if that happened today under Trump?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Occupy Wall Street. A common criticism of it at the time (2011) was that the protesters didn’t have clear demands.

And that criticism might be appropriate. Or maybe it missed the point?

One thing OWS did do was popularise the idea of the 1% and 99%.

Which, of course, Bernie Sanders used to made his surprising rise as a credible voice in American federal politics, nearly upsetting the entire DNC applecart, causing major rifts inside the organisation, as they had to resort to rigging the primaries to shut him down.

What many people don’t remember is that OWS was started by Kalle Lasn, the publisher of AdBusters magazine. He was inspired by this podcast I did with him back in 2009 (kidding… or am I?).

Kalle and his team released this poster with the infamous hashtag #occupywallstreet.

Now Sanders didn’t win the DNC primary, let alone the White House – but what he did achieve was the partial rehabilitation of the word “socialist” in American politics. And here we are a few years later, where “Four in 10 Americans prefer socialism to capitalism” according to an Axios poll.

What do I take away from all this?

A poster and a hashtag can have consequences well beyond a protest.

Russian Agent My Ass

Let me make this as simple as possible for the people in the slow section. Even if Vladimir Putin had personally turned up on Julian Assange’s doorstep and handed him a gold-plated USB stick containing the DNC emails wrapped in red ribbon, along with a box of Lindt chocolates, a bottle of Dom Perignon and a long red rose, IT STILL WOULDN’T MAKE ASSANGE AS RUSSIAN AGENT.

Do you know what it makes him?


That’s what journalists do – they get information from sources and publish it. It doesn’t matter if you don’t approve of the source or approve of the content – it still makes him a journalist.

Anyone who is trying to push the narrative that publishing information given to him by Russia (if that indeed did happen) makes Assange a Russian agent is selling you a line of bullshit. And if you buy into it, you’re the dupe. You seriously need to examine your epistemology and heuristics.

BTW, the last I heard, Assange was firmly denying that his source for the DNC emails was connected to Russie. Now – maybe he was mistaken. Maybe he was lying. But who should you believe on this issue? A report written by American intelligence services, who have lied to the public continuously for the last century? Or Julian Assange who has a perfect track record of providing verified leaks? And isn’t it a coincidence that Julian Assange has been forced offline for the last year and chance, first gagged by Ecuador in March 2018 and now in jail, unable to respond to Mueller’s claims?

A handy coincidence, indeed.

True Journalism

I guarantee the people who decry Assange “outing national security agents” would have zero problem with, say, the NYT exposing Russian agents in Washington or Russian top secrets. What they are actually protesting is anyone exposing AMERICAN agents and AMERICAN secrets. They would likely applaud the NYT. And if the Russians sought to extradite the NYT journalists and publisher to stand trial in a kangaroo court for exposing their agents, these people would cry foul. So it’s not the principle that they have an issue with. They are just buying into the US narrative that anyone who exposes American secrets is an enemy and not a “true journalist”. It’s a FOX NEWS narrative. Anyone who truly values press freedom would understand that the role of the press is to expose secrets. Plenty of journalists and publishers who aren’t on good terms with Assange have come out and said exactly that over recent weeks. And, as I keep reminding people, Assange won Australia’s highest award for journalism. So the claim “he’s not a true journalist” is ridiculous. As is the claim “he’s a Russian agent”. The fact that he exposed dirt on the Clinton campaign does not make him a Russian agent. IT MAKES HIM A JOURNALIST.

QAV with Alan Kohler

Check out our interview with one of Australia’s most respected finance journalists, Alan Kohler. Alan gave us his thoughts on the economy, unemployment, internet stocks, lying CEOs, and his role with the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation. 

QAV podcast with Alan Kohler