The Human Operating Manual


***Working Intro & Notes***



Nature of consciousness (mind-body problem)

Cultural fear and stigma

Religious perspectives



How to prepare 

Perception: Opportunity or fear. A chance to express compassion for others or the fear of the unknown after death (afterlife or not) and the cause of said death (process).  

Bereavement of others. The fear of own death is different to the fear of others dying.

The only thing that we know is certain, is death. If uncertainty is what causes us fear, and the only thing that we have to fear is death, it would suggest that coming to terms with death is the key to embracing life. 

BJ Miller: A Beginner’s Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death

Longevity and Limitations:

  • Longevity linked to decreased genes involved with neural overactivity:
  • Super-centenarians have high cytotoxic T cell count:
  • Gut bacteria may alter aging process:
  • Reliable age prediction test:
  • Tea drinkers live longer:
  • TOR pathway in worms:
  • Mediterranean diet improved gut microbiome linked to healthy aging:
  • Heavy stress and lifestyle can predict longevity:
  • IF:
  • People aged 95+ show greater brain connectivity:

Hunter Gatherer Notes


The only way to avoid grief is to live a life without love. Grief has evolved multiple times across species, always in highly social organisms with parental care.

Modern approaches to loss and to grief tend to overemphasize metrics and logistics and spend too little on meaning and narrative (What did he bring to us? How are we better for him having lived?). We often don’t want to see the body, or sit with it at all. Death is at a remove, and this particular hyper-novel situation, in which it is our choice to not confront the corpse of a loved one, can render us more confused in the aftermath of death.

Grief is us recalibrating our brains for a world without one of its central pieces. We must reformulate our understanding, as we are no longer able to go to that person (or animal) for words of wisdom or comfort, but we are still able to think back, to learn from, and to take comfort in the relationship that can no longer grow, but can still be remembered. We don’t want to believe in their permanent absence, and so our brains create fictions, ghosts: Was that him turning the corner at the café we used to frequent? Surely that was her—I know her hair, her jacket—getting on the train. Grief is the downside of high-bandwidth interdependence. Grief is the downside of love.

  • Take time to grieve in a way that feels right to you. In the middle of deepest, earliest grief, sometimes you will be joyous, and sometimes you will not be thinking about the one whom you have lost. It ebbs and flows, loses some of its power over time, but never disappears entirely. No matter what, honor your memories and your inclinations.
  • Spend time with the body of your loved one after they die. Those who have lost loved ones to situations from which their bodies could not be recovered often suffer from prolonged periods of grief. When we view our dead, sit with them, and talk with them, we set a foundation upon which our grief, our neural recalibration, can be moored.

Waking Up Notes

The Truth of Suffering

Even while safe, most of us feel a wide range of painful emotions on a daily basis. When you wake up in the morning, are you filled with joy? How do you feel at work or when looking in the mirror? How satisfied are you with what you’ve accomplished in life? How much of your time with your family is spent surrendered to love and gratitude, and how much is spent just struggling to be happy in one another s company? 

Most people seem to believe that we have only two ways to think about death: We can fear it and do our best to ignore it, or we can deny that it is real. The first strategy leads to a life of conventional worldliness and distraction—we merely strive for pleasure and success and do our best to keep the reality of death out of view. The second strategy is the province of religion, which assures us that death is but a doorway to another world and that the most important opportunities in life occur after the lifetime of the body. But there is another path, and it seems the only one compatible with intellectual honesty.

Status Anxiety Notes

Death reveals the fragility, and so perhaps the worthlessness, of the attentions we stand to gain through status. In good health and at the height of our powers, we are spared any need to wonder whether those who pay us compliments are doing so out of sincere affection or in some evanescent quest for advantage. We seldom have the courage or the cynicism to ask, Is it me they’re fond of, or my position in society? Illness renders the distinction quickly and all too cruelly evident.

While the thought of death may occasionally be abused (to alarm individuals or groups into doing things they might never do otherwise), it may help us to correct our tendency to live as if we could afford to defer forever, for the sake of propriety, our underlying commitments to ourselves. Contemplating our mortality may give us the courage to unhook our lives from the more gratuitous of society’s expectations. In the presence of a skeleton, the repressive aspects of others’ opinions have a habit of shedding their power to intimidate.

We may also find some relief from status anxiety by dwelling on the deaths of other people, particularly those whose accomplishments in life have made us feel the most inadequate and envious. However forgotten and ignored we are, however powerful and revered others may be, we can take comfort in the thought that the lot of us will ultimately die.

Ruins bid us to surrender our strivings and our fantasies of perfection and fulfilment. They remind us that we cannot defy time and that we are merely the playthings of forces of destruction which can at best be kept at bay but never vanquished. We may enjoy local victories, perhaps claim a few years in which we are able to impose a degree of order upon the chaos, but ultimately all will end. If this prospect has the power to console us, it is perhaps because the greater part of our anxieties stems from an exaggerated sense of the importance of our own projects and concerns. We are tortured by our ideals and by a punishingly high-minded sense of the gravity of what we are doing.

We may best overcome a feeling of unimportance, not by making ourselves more important, but by recognizing the relative lack of importance of everyone on earth. 

Rabbit Hole Blogs

JayPT +