Friends,

With extreme gratitude we announce the release of my new book #Human: Learning To Live In Modern Times. Very much in line with the ideologies of My Mastery: Learning to Live Through Jiu Jitsu, this book dives straight into the matter of cultivating an amazing life. Traversing the spiritual landscape from seeing through the illusion of self to serving our fellow man, this book is a guide in assisting the reader’s growth toward a self-actualized life. This is the preface of that book, and I hope it finds you well.

Pre-orders for the Ebook are available now on Amazon, and both the Ebook and Paperback will be available on Monday, December 15th.

All of the proceeds from this book will be donated to Feeding America! This means that each Ebook sold will secure and provide 62 meals to those in need, and each and every Paperback will provides 42 meals! Our goal is to use #Human to provide 100,000 meals to those in need!

We are both excited and humbled to be able to serve on such a massive scale, and we sincerely hope that you join us!

All the Best,

Chris Matakas

#Human- Learning to Live in Modern Times

Preface

“One does not discover the absurd without being tempted to write a manual of happiness.” – Albert Camus, The Myth of Sisyphus

Every reader of this book is a human being. Some are tall, some are short. Some are light skinned and some are dark. Some of us like sports. Others like musicals. On the surface, we are explicitly different as different can be. From the professions we choose and the clothes we wear, whether due to geography or religious doctrine, man on the whole appears to be a cornucopia of experiences. We as a species take so many different forms, and due to our commonplace degree of magnification on the human level that magnifies these vast differences, we tend to feel their lies a great distinction between ourselves and the rest of man. We lead our lives in such vastly different ways, and this results in an external representation of our lives of nearly infinite diversity. As different as we appear explicitly, we are equally similar implicitly. We forget that life asks each of us the same question, “Why are we here?”. This very simply query, created by our very existence regarding the nature of that existence, is asked toward each of us from birth. Perhaps that’s a bit of a bold statement, and we could agree that the question is asked of us once we have the minimum required faculties that allow our awareness of our existence, and begins to question the deeper context of our nature of being a living, breathing entity, and what we are supposed to do about it. Whether or not we have consciously entertained this notion, we have all been asked this same question, and we have all made our attempt at an answer.

In my clearer moments, I am always amazed at the seeming diversity of the human race. On the level of physical appearance, our distinctions are vast. Just within my own little corner of the world in central New Jersey, I have friends of the same age that vary so greatly I often find myself amazed at their shared DNA. From 300+ pound, burly as the day is long, immense ex-football players to 100 pound women whose beauty is only rivaled by their physical frailty. On the emotional level, we all know a buddha-like individual showing complete equanimity in the face of devastating circumstance, and we each know (and perhaps all too personally) others who at the slightest inconvenience while driving will curse the existence of another human being with the totality of human frustration. We find ourselves surrounded by left-brained mechanical geniuses who can see nothing but chaos in a rorschach blot, and right-brained, seemingly divinely inspired artists who can’t change a light bulb. Some of us base our entire world view and moral foundation on the teachings of a first century carpenter while others believe the road map for the good life lies in the discoveries of an enlightened Indian prince who lived 2500 years ago. On every level of being, we are so vastly contrasting and there is no greater representation of this than the way in which we live our lives. What is found unimaginably fascinating by some is found equally droll by others. As the explicit disparity grows exponentially, we must always remember the shared source each of our metaphysical, and resulting physical, lives possess.

Every action we take in our lives, and thoughts that so often presuppose them, is an attempt to answer life’s most perilous question, “Why am I here?”

We each answer this in a variety of ways, and even those who refuse to answer cannot help but acknowledge that the refusal to answer is in itself an answer.

For the greek mythology fan, you are well acquainted with the image on the cover of this book and the wisdom of the human experience it puts forth. For the uninitiated, meet Sisyphus. Sisyphus was a king of Ephyra, and an unrivaled headache to the Gods. Many considered Sisyphus the most cunning and deceitful of men. Sisyphus’s list of undesirable actions toward the gods is impressive: From betraying Zeus, to imprisoning in the God of Death resulting in the impossibility of mortals to die leading to the fury of the God of war, Ares. Or when he actually did die, convincing Persephone, the queen of the underworld, to let him return to the world to scold his wife for not giving him a proper burial. However, Sisyphus had specifically instructed his wife not to do this in a brilliantly successful attempt for the opportunity to return to the world of the mortals for a second go at life. Having had enough of Sisyphus’s shenanigans, the gods finally condemned Sisyphus to his final resting place wherein he was forced to ceaselessly roll a boulder to the top of a great hill which, without fail, would roll back down once he had reached the peak. This has been recognized widely across the philosophical community as an accurate metaphor for the cyclical, redundant nature of the human experience. French philosopher Albert Camus brilliantly depicted this connection in his essay, The Myth of Sisyphus:

“The gods had condemned Sisyphus to ceaselessly rolling a rock to the top of a mountain, whence the stone would fall back of its own weight. They had thought with some reason that there is no more dreadful punishment than futile and hopeless labor.

…If this myth is tragic, that is because its hero is conscious. Where would his torture be, indeed, if at every step the hope of succeeding upheld him? The workman of today works every day in his life at the same tasks, and this fate is no less absurd. But it is tragic only at the rare moments when it becomes conscious. Sisyphus, proletarian of the gods, powerless and rebellious, knows the whole extent of his wretched condition: it is what he thinks of during his descent. The lucidity that was to constitute his torture at the same time crowns his victory. There is no fate that cannot be surmounted by scorn…

..I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe henceforth without a master seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night-filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

Each of us can empathize with this Sisyphean task, and it takes only the slightest stretch of the mind to see that we share a similar fate. This has never been more apparent than in modern times. Technological advancement has drastically changed the way in which we live our lives. Thanks to agriculture, we are afforded the opportunity to settle down and build a life in a fixed geographical setting. It is commonly agreed upon that Homo Sapiens (“wise human” in Latin), have wandered the earth for 200,000 years or so, and agriculture has only existed for the last 12,000 of them. For over 99.9% of our existence, we wandered in accordance with the seasons and wildlife to survive. It is only with the advent of agriculture that we have settled down, and laid to rest our wandering nature. We looked up at the same sky each night, shared the same surroundings each day, and thus began the monotony of daily living. Now it is this very means of convenience that has all but guaranteed our survival which allows for the pursuit of passions and hobbies, the structure of organized education, and simply the free time and comfort to entertain life’s biggest questions rather than constantly fight to exist.

It is our conquering of nature that is our very source of Ennui.

Today, at least in first world countries, our lives are a model of efficient routine. We wake in the same house each morning along side the same person. We eat the same breakfast while we watch the same news show. We drive the exact same route to work in which we perform the same tasks with the same coworkers. We frequent the same bars, and watch the same sport teams with the same friends. At this juncture, Sisyphus might empathize with OUR existence. I am not implying that our current mode of living is a punishment in redundancy, or that the agricultural revolution and the structure that followed was a mistake. I am simply noting the similarities our existence shares with that of the mythical Sisyphus. Whether you realize it or not, your life is awesome.

The very fact that you are reading this book proves this. Your engaging in this text is only made possible because enough people loved you as a child to actively ensure your survival. You can only read these words because someone taught you how to read. You only have the time to read this book because you have a life which is not in constant need of self-preservation. You can only focus on these words and entertain these notions because you have adequate food and water to do so, and an intellect of inconceivable capabilities to convert these words into meaningful experience. Not to mention we live in a society that allows free speech and affords you the opportunity to read according to your desires without persecution. Our lives are monotonous and sometimes downright mundane, but they are awesome. The most average of us now, lives a higher quality of life than the wealthiest King a few hundred years ago. In the truest sense of the word, we want for nothing.

However, along with all of the benefits of such a society comes with it an equivalent frustration. Never before have we been so bombarded with stimulus that is downright detrimental to our progress as humans. From billboards, television, radio, and the internet, our conscious attention is constantly being vied for by subservient phenomena. Yes, we don’t have to traverse the plains in search of food anymore, but our constant attention regarding what the latest Kardashian is doing is probably not the best use of our newly afforded free time. The more stimulus that lies outside of your self, the harder it becomes to search within one’s self for the true determinants of peace and happiness. Our ever growing connection with other humans due to technology is a wonderful tool for community, but when left to run rampant becomes a source of a constant struggle to be better than one’s neighbor, and to downplay our own experiences in the face of another’s. The modern man will meet more resistance on their path toward inner calm than ever before. With constant access to screens and stimuli, we are remapping our dopamine-addicted brains to seek constant external stimuli as we unconsciously dampen our own abilities of introspection and self-awareness. We walk from room to room within our homes with our heads looking down at a screen, as we lack the conscious ability to deliberate over the fact that we have offered our lives up to a socially accepted invention that takes from us more than it provides. Our advancements in communication and information sharing are an incredible testament to human achievement, and each of us holds within the palm of our hands access to the totality of human knowledge. This is a remarkable gift capable of great benefit to our lives. I am not blaming the technology. I am simply bringing to light that the remarkable advancements of technology are only rivaled by our misuse of them.

In modern times, the great teachings of old and personal development have never been so accessible while the same holds equally true for the impediments to this very progress. Each of us holds within our being the unlimited potential toward a loving and knowledgeable relationship with our existence. We each have the opportunity to cultivate a life driven by personal growth and service of our fellow man. We each have the opportunity to genuinely love every other inhabitant of this world, and recognize them as an extension of ourselves.

Now each of us plays the role of Sisyphus in our own lives. The question is not how do I rid myself of my boulder for this is impossible. Our opportunity, and with it comes complete freedom of/ and responsibility for one’s life, is to choose which boulder we shall push and our relationship toward our labor. With the blessing of being a human comes tremendous responsibility. We are bestowed this life due to no effort of our own. We are given the opportunity to play the greatest game of all, the human game. The only problem is this game came without instructions. Each of us has been searching for that instruction booklet to understand the rules of the game. Some of us look in religion while others look in philosophy. Some decide not to look, which is in itself a philosophy. This book simply serves as an alternative instruction manual to help you play the most majestic of games, the human game, and I hope it finds you well.

Let’s begin…

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