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When I was 16, I performed relatively poorly in my GCSE exams, exams which every kid in the UK takes. Having missed most of my classes, and barely studied, I received a D in math and an F for French (which I think is funny). I’m a little embarrassed to even write about this, and I’ll try to redeem myself by letting you know that four of my nine grades were C: for physics, biology, English language, and English literature. Any small success I had was basically down to luck, and it was terrifying to take those exams with no…


Me being silly at a friend’s house. The sunlight happened to bathe me through a skylight.

I started meditating consistently in the summer of 2001. I had just finished developing the first Microsoft Xbox, and I literally sat with my feet on my desk. I should have felt proud and satisfied. I had a beautiful, big, brand-new house in Silicon Valley, and an Audi and a Porsche. I was a multi-millionaire and had more money than I knew what to do with.

Sitting there in my office, I noticed that I couldn’t relax. I felt dissatisfied and anxious, and I had no idea why. Shortly afterwards, at my 27th birthday party, I drunkenly walked from guest…


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She stroked my leg under the table in the Student Union. I liked that, so I married her. I’m serious. This is what I’m like; I tend to go all-in immediately. I commit like crazy. At least this is what I used to be like. I’ve changed a lot since then.

Soon we had sex, first in bed, and then in the shower. It was pretty good. Three months later, I proposed to her in bed in Paris. That was the same bed we spent most of our time in while in Paris. …


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There is a one key skill that you can develop that will make you masterful in relationships. Without this skill, your relationships will be unsatisfying and short-lived. With this skill, you will be fully in control of your relationship destiny, enjoying relationships that are fulfilling and long-lived. This article focuses deeply on this one key skill.

Many people believe that when they are hurt by their partner, their emotional reaction is the responsibility of their partner. …


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I was on a five-day, solo backpacking adventure in Yosemite National Park, listening to Guy Spier’s book The Education of a Value Investor (paid link), when I felt the inspiration to start writing letters of gratitude. As I climbed up through the alpine wilderness and sat looking across the surface of lakes mirroring snowcapped peaks, I learned about how Guy had incorporated the practice of writing notes of gratitude into his life; this busy hedge fund manager writes three notes of gratitude per day. …


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Mischievous. Loud. Caw-caw. I screech my truth; all that matters. Primal, confident, sacred, profane. Screeching out clear and gruff commands: “Stay back; make space; this is mine.” It cannot be judged. Judged by whom? This is the purity of silence ripped open by the harsh reality of survival. Called forth from the endless, eternal womb of potential; this is an embodiment, a call to arms and legs.

It’s not pretty. It’s rough and scraggly and real. It’s ruffled feathers; it’s scraps on the wing like dog-fighting pilots: get back, get out; this is my space in the world; it is…


This is a rendition of one of my knots

I’ve not been doing well recently. I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, depressed, and anxious. Yesterday, I posted the following on Facebook:

I seem to be suffering from depression and anxiety. I think it’s related to stresses at work. I’m in a situation where I don’t seem to be able to advocate for what I need. I have no idea about how to get myself out of this pickle. I have some kind of conflicting programming that is making me very stuck.

This generated an outpouring of love and support from my friends, with many offering to spend time with me, listening…


Cindy with a message for bullies

Cindy and I were walking along a street in Central London, her a few steps ahead of me. She passed into the view of two lads in their twenties who were standing on the steps of a house. I was still obscured by the wall of a neighboring building,

“Hey gorgeous, give us a smile,” yelled one of the boys wearing a suit and tie. He then turned to his male companion to calibrate the effectiveness of his heterosexual confirmatory signaling.

As he turned back to look at the object of his insecurity, he was surprised to find another male…


I rode this motorcycle to and from my most-recent ten-day retreat

An Old Student’s Perspective

As I write this, I’ve attended a Goenka-style ten-day Vipassana retreat four times, which makes me an “old student.” These retreats represent industrial-grade meditation training and practice, demanding around ten-and-a-half hours of meditation per day. If you’re reading this, you’ve probably either attended at least one, or you’re planning to attend one. In order to get the most from these retreats, here are four things I’ve learned to value.

Return to the Practice

Everyone’s retreat experience is unique, and different content seems to come up each time for the same person. For me, a recurring thread that runs through my retreats is some form…


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and what AI seems to be revealing about it

I’ve lost friends over this because a denial of consciousness undermines a final refuge of the arrogance of selfhood: universal consciousness. But even most normal people are strongly insistent that consciousness is a real thing, a special thing, and that they possess it. The problem I have is that there’s not only no evidence for it, but what people seem to be referring to as consciousness is explainable as an effect no more unusual, no less materialistically explainable, than water flowing downhill.

Now I’m not going to get too far into the metaphysics of non-separation. At least initially, I’m not…

Duncan Riach

An engineer-psychologist focused on machine intelligence. I write from my own experience to support others in living more fulfilling lives | duncanriach.com

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