Entertainment and wisdom. To make progress with love I had to give up entertainment. TV, radio, fiction, movies, live shows and concerts, browsing the web: any venue where I'm just a consumer, not a student or creator. Entertainment kept me from making progress for most of my life. It filled up the hours I needed to do that work. Now that I've surrendered my life to wisdom entertainment has a place in my life again. My wisdom uses fiction, in the form of movies, for a dual purpose: keeping the psychological intensity of making progress from overwhelming me by giving me a breather when I need one, and gently augmenting the work I'm doing via the content of the movies wisdom chooses for me.
One step. The spiritual path is extraordinarily demanding. Love demands I give all I have to give. There's an old saying that if I take one step toward god, god takes a hundred toward me; god does almost all the heavy lifting on the spiritual quest. If I do everything humanly possible to make progress, my wisdom will do the rest, the 99%. I have to examine how I spend my time, looking for ways to make all my activities count toward making progress. Doing anything mindfully makes it count. But some things can't be done mindfully. I can't harm myself mindfully; mindfulness would prevent that. The same goes for activities of no value, things I do to kill time, like entertainment. Thoreau famously said As if you could kill time without injuring eternity. Any venue where I'm just a consumer is worthless. Entertainment kept me from making progress with love until it became an integral part of that progress.
Stories. According to my wisdom there are two kinds of story: mental and wisdom. A wisdom story is a tool a wise person uses to convey wisdom to those capable of receiving it. All the other stories are mental. Wisdom stories are vanishingly rare. Wise people choose not to speak, as Lao Tzu noted. But when he said that Lao Tzu was telling a wisdom story. These stories my wisdom tells are wisdom stories. Using me as a tool my wisdom is conveying wisdom by showing what happened to me in my life. I am not the storyteller. My wisdom is. The next paragraph is about mental stories.
Experience. My experience consists of everything I can sense directly via my eyes, ears, taste, smell or touch. Stories are not part of my direct experience. Thanks to mass media and the web, we have access to a vast number of stories. Stories are not part of my life; they're mental projections. Especially the news: all the stories about what's going on somewhere else. News stories are not part of my life. They are unreliable. All of them. For any news event, I can find thousands of stories. I will pick a story that fits my preconceptions. Other people will pick other stories. All of the stories are equally unreliable for my uses because I wasn't there. The senses are notoriously unreliable, but I have to rely on them to survive. If an event is in my life, I get the information I need via my senses directly, not filtered through anyone else. Not filtered through any agenda, political or editorial. The real thing, up close and personal.
Music. Music is a special case, because of what it is: sound waves. Sound waves can come from a musician directly or via technology. Once you introduce amplification, the sound waves are no longer direct. Recording and now broadcasting technology have made it possible for me to experience music at home that's better than live music. Music doesn't have reliability issues because it's not trying to accomplish anything. It's simply a work of art. A work of art has no agenda. An agenda means it's propaganda, not art. Luddites will blather on about the superiority of live music. There will always be luddites dragging their knuckles I mean heels. Nobody but other luddites cares what they think, thank heaven.