This is my view regarding the spiritual quest of the human condition.
Stillness of mind is characterized by mindfulness rather than aloofness. How is it achieved? First, one's inner correlations--one's beliefs, attitudes, intentions and desires--must be in harmony, they must be coherent and cohesive. When they are in conflict, they produce thought haphazardly, because there is friction, unrest, like a loop or chain reaction. In order for one's inner correlations to be in harmony, one's beliefs, attitudes, intentions and desires must be scrutinized and deliberate. One must have a sufficient base of philosophical understanding to serve as a point of reference whereby priorities and order may evolve; in other words, one must understand the process of how one's inner correlations influence and interact with one another and with external reality. And this is all perfectly practical and logical too, as indecision and lack of clarity confuses desires and hampers intentions, efforts and results--therefore this is a main starting point, perhaps the superior one, to the spiritual quest of the human condition for all people (lots of people of faith circumvent it totally but they are not right-hand path they are simply in ignorance).
As one progresses down this path, unanswered philosophical or spiritual questions create disharmony in one's inner correlations, as one is undecided in what orientation to align themselves. For the person living an examined life, these unanswered questions directly influence their daily attitudes, desires, thoughts and actions, because they live a purposive life that is ordered, as well as possible, according to priorities. Meaning, truth, emotion, logic, these all serve to form priorities by acting as foundational points of reference, depending on how one approaches and answers the over-arching philosophical or spiritual questions of their paradigm; some people may orient themselves around logic and truth exclusively, for example. Eventually, as the questions remain unanswered and grow increasingly daunting, some turn to faith, some settle for compromise, some fall into ignorance, and some fall into the grips of existential crisis (or a combination thereof).
Confronting these questions in existential crisis through logic is the left-hand path, whereas turning to faith is the right-hand path. Some seek out the confrontation, for others the confrontation seeks them out, and many turn to faith in the trial of it; this is understandable, as the marketplace of ideas today is a poor source of help as one seeks to find answers to the questions, and society's influences distractingly and obfuscatingly affect one's life and state of awareness. Those who succeed in overcoming their existential crisis through logic generally do so by making assumptions or leaps of faith and by trusting in experiential learning, finding some inner source of spiritual power / identity and / or developing some hodge-podge philosophical or spiritual paradigm... it really isn't too pretty. Many turn to faith, some maintain makeshift left-hand path paradigms, some become Buddhists, some become nihilists, some become atheists or agnostics, etc.
In today's marketplace of ideas I particularly appreciate Buddhism, as it hinges on logic and experiential experimentation and only makes assumptions insofar that the human condition which is experienced is indeed the human condition. Or if it does not assume, if it does not make a leap of faith per se, then it accepts that there exists no other real foundational points of reference beyond logic and experience, therefore it accepts those two as sufficient because they are all there is. It is at this point where I may be tempted to disagree with nihilism: what is, is, can we not say that is sufficient, must we poke further holes into its emptiness?
However I do not disagree with nihilism this way, because my left-hand path paradigm takes the Buddhist logic and experiential understanding of the human condition and expands on it by pursuing the logic end further. If the nihilist accusation is that logic cannot unequivocally confirm the solidity of experience, then the sought after defense is a logical framework establishing the nature of the human condition and how it arises, so that the human condition becomes in effect a priori. It is along this vein of thinking that my path travels, and I believe I have succeeded in establishing said framework. I believe this marks the true and proper course of continued left-hand path evolution.
I explain the beginning of this new logic in the first chapter of a text I'm working on:
Much confusion in the marketplace of ideas revolves around what initially seems like a paradox regarding the nature of eternity, or more specifically regarding the question of whether eternity begun at one point or whether it has just always existed. Considering the old analogy of eternity being in causal terms a function of dominoes toppling over in sequence, the preceding domino always causing the proceeding domino to topple, on one hand it seems eternity must possess a beginning point whereby the first domino topples over and triggers a chain reaction, yet on the other hand it seems eternity cannot possess a beginning point for any such chain reaction cannot ‘just happen’ but rather itself requires a preceding trigger / domino. Or, to employ a classic phrase, if God created everything then who or what created God?
First, let us be sure to consider eternity in causal terms. It can be and often is argued that, in many ways, eternity is not like a flow, sequence or chain reaction, that it is in fact non-linear, and that it is flawed to apply to it the concept of a beginning point. Perhaps the perceived linear quality of causal continuity is only derived by our minds by a manner of geometric analogy and in real experiential terms there is nothing linear about it. For our present purposes, however, eternity is taken to constitute a continuum strictly and exclusively in the sense that the principle of causality is real, that reaction is necessarily always contingent with action. For our present purposes, the point is only that eternity possess a flow, a direction, insofar as reality is causal in nature, insofar as an action ripples through time affecting that which has yet to occur (the 'future') rather than that which has already occurred (the 'past').
Some would in fact dispute even this, citing scientific hypotheses and studies (in quantum mechanics, etc) suggesting the relationship between cause and effect could, however bizarre it may sound, actually be relative in nature in that effects may somehow influence their own causes before they happen. It must be still further clarified, then, that for our present purposes what is important is not how the potential outcome of burnt toast could perhaps affect the possibility or probability of one ever inserting the bread into the toaster in the first place, rather what is important is that the heating coils of the toaster are only capable of burning the bread, not of 'unburning' the bread. Even if the sequence of animation were somehow played out or unfolded in reverse order, still only the animation's perceived order would be reversed, while the actual interactions to which the animation's rendering pertains—the underlying causal correspondences—would retain their continuity: the heating coils of a toaster could never unburnt toast.
This basic but important fact that there is a continuity to eternity’s unfoldment insofar as reality is causal in nature is shown in figure A, where this continuity is represented by a line and directional arrows and where each instance of causal sequence, each proverbial domino, is represented by a black dot. To be perfectly clear, figure B shows that the continuity does not have to be straight or linear, it amounts to the same thing, as the directional arrows remain all in the same direction. Figure C shows an impossible scenario, where the arrows are reversed as if the heating coils could actually render toast unburnt. Furthermore, let us pretend that in fact figure C were actually possible, if eternity’s continuity were to unfold both ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’ in time simultaneously, as shown in figure D. Normally, as shown in figure E, a given domino X impacts on a given domino Y. However, as shown in figure F, if eternity were to unfold both ‘forwards’ and ‘backwards’ in time simultaneously, then every domino would simultaneously impact on both ‘future’ and the 'past' dominoes as well as be impacted by both 'future' and the 'past' dominoes equally—an absurdly impossible scenario as everything would be 100% relative without any points of reference or foundation.
What all this demonstrates, beyond a doubt, is that if the ‘past’ is not constantly being writ as much as the ‘future’ is, if the distant tail end at the beginning of eternity is not in movement constantly regressing further backwards into time, then that end of eternity must be static, a fixed point, a point of original creation! The paradox as to whether or not eternity possesses an initial beginning point has been solved, we now know that it must possess one, however the question still remains as to how just exactly this original domino could have ever come about in the first place.
Following this (and which I have yet to formally put into writing), I believe the only possible explanation as to the initial arising of eternity / reality is that first there was emptiness, and then emptiness realized its own emptiness more fully, manifesting in convention. This is a very complex point, not merely a clever use of terminologies, and requires a certain level of stillness of mind and considerable contemplation to fully grasp. It can be explained in words, but experience of stillness and emptiness is necessary in order to fully comprehend the meaning of the words--not in the sense that one must make a leap of faith in the validity of experience, but in the sense that to some extent language is too limited to fully explain it, at least insofar as I am able to wield the paintbrush of language (but one can grasp things logically in their mind in a way beyond words and language, still without relying on experience).
Furthermore, and specifically to address a nihilist accusation surely to be made, I identify the source of initial arising of eternity / existence to be emptiness because it is the only possible option not in the sense that it is the only option my limited human mind can presently conceive of, but in the sense that arriving to the solution through the process of elimination transcends the limits of the human mind behind the equation if part of the equation itself, part of the process of elimination, involves a systematic, logical, a priori theory of deconstruction down to indeed the first instance that any possibility were even ever possible in the first place. It is crucial to grasp the a priori thread leading from causal continuity to the beginning of eternity.
I do not expect these last two paragraphs to be very persuasive, but it is the best I can do at this time, and I write them more in order to tell my story as part of this thread than to necessarily persuade. Having realized this basest common denominator in Emptiness within an infallible logical framework, I can then deduce various truths about the human condition, in terms of Emptiness being that which sprouts the individual agent of consciousness and underlies the human condition. I write this in order to more fully illustrate where I'm coming from in my forum exchanges with you. (And I use the term "you"... liberally.)