Don't mistake the review for the recipe

Many of the insights in life are laid bare in plain sight, availing themselves only to the sharpest of eyes. I just finished one of the most lucid and convincing guides to the mechanism of how meditation leads to release, With Each and Every Breath by Ajahn Thanissaro (for me at this stage, it was even more insightful than Meditations, Bliss and Beyond by Ajahn Brahm).

1 of the imageries that stayed with me is the description of Jhanas. The 1st Jhana for instance has 5 factors - directed thought, evaluation, singleness of mind, rapture and pleasure. This is a standard list that can be seen anywhere from the suttas to the commentaries to sundry Dhamma talks. Where Ajahn Thanissaro brought incremental insight to me was his distinction between the causes (the 1st 3 factors) and the results (the last 2 factors). He described the last 2 results as the food review, and the 1st 3 causes as the recipe. You can obsess over all the descriptions of a delicious apple pie, but those desciptions will not guide you in baking it. Another frame is that the food critic and the chef have fundamentally different jobs.

This insight might be workaday, like duh, that is common sense. For me at this point in my life, it was clarifying. A lot of the confusion and lack of progress in different aspects of my life come from a laziness to distinguish the causes and the results. For instance, I read a lot of business news, especially of companies I admire, but those are the reviews, not the recipes. In triathlon too, reading about the top athletes' results will not help in improving my speed. If I look clearly, this is obvious to me, but this knowledge has to translate into time allocation.

Just as a note to self, these are the causes and mechanisms of action of these causes for some of the goals I have set.

The cause of enlightenment is a whole-hearted, fundamental, experience-inspired change in the mind's perception that the mental food that it has been feeding on is not worth the effort, and that when it stops hungering, there is a permanent happiness beyond space and time. The mechanism of action is a continuous mindfulness, regular evaluation of stress and its causes, and the letting go of these causes, thus leading to deeper samadhi.

The cause of wealth is the ownership of short-term under-appreciated assets. You can acquire these assets by buying them or by creating a business. Businesses are as valuable as the delta between the customer value you provide and the next best alternative, multiplied by the number of customers. The mechanism of action depends on the stage of the business, but the essence of it is the initial creation of the product and service to fit the market needs, and subsequent broadening and deepening of that product and service with minimal loss of individual value offering.

The cause of hypertrophy is caloric surplus, mechanical tension and sufficient rest. The mechanism of action for me now is eating 3 full meals + a snack, sleeping 8 hours, doing 3 sets of workouts per week close to failure, with an emphasis on muscle-mind connection and tension under stretch.

The cause of endurance and speed in triathlons is gradual improvement of aerobic endurance, muscular endurance, lactate threshold and energy efficiency of my techniques. My bottlenecks are currently my aerobic base as my lower body muscular endurance. The crux is to do longer zone 2 exercises, as well as interval trainings.

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