I met a retired doctor here in Mandalay this week. He talked about his fascination with the concept and theory of “Emergence” and seemed to be quite attached to the notion that there was a deep truth in it. I don’t know much about it but It seems like a very open and helpful concept to me. I suggested that I think that I am as curious as he is about these kinds of things but a difference might be that I no longer search for truth in conceptual language. I have a similar desire to live in an authentic way but have discovered that we can’t really know what we desire to know at least not through conventional ways of knowing.
It is through a more direct experience that I open to what feels to me to be a more authentic way of life present to the immediate experience. It is where I discover the essence of what I am and an acceptance of life unfolding and it is where contentment is best realised.
As humans we have evolved in a way that we have come to utilize conceptual understanding in a way that is fundamental to our existence perhaps to a degree that we have become confused about where truth is to be revealed to us. I am greatly curious and drawn to books of all kinds. I see no need to deny this but I also realize that it is when our understanding of the world matches the nature of the world that we discover more and more of our world and have more ability to cope with it. We use scientific methods and develop theoretical models as ways that can help us to understand and we are best as Einstein remarked if “we are seeking the simplest scheme of thought that can tie together the observable facts. This scheme is not ultimately established. It is periodically updated.
As a representation of direct experience these formulations are always amendable. The truth is always relative and never absolute. We are better able to understand our worlds if we are aware of the distinction between our representational ability of arriving at knowledge and our more direct way of being, inquiring and intuition.
Watching the movie Lucy on the plane to Bangkok today there was a point where the chemically awakened Lucy, played by Scarlet Johanson, says that ” we humans think that we are so unique. We codify experience to make it more human. This is to more enable them to comprehend the unfathomable.”
It seems there is much truth in this. We seem to grasp on to meaning and what we genuinely believe to be truth. Is it possible that the truth is beyond the meaning that we give to it and the belief we invest in it. It is quite likely unfathomable, not known as we have come to think that we can know. It may be though that it is realized in a way more synonymous with letting go of our conventional ways. In silence it is said that the mind can open to a vastness not realized in our habitual contraction of it.
Pico Iyer forwarded one of my all time favourite books “The Snow Leopard” written by the recently deceased Peter Matthiesson. Being a committed meditator I love books that have something of a deeper reflective way and being a world traveller of a sort I love travel books. The “Snow Leopard” is a wonderful book and a mixture of both as is Pico Iyer,s writing.
In the forward of the “The Snow Leopard” Iyer indicates that he has been reading the book for twenty-five years and that every time that he reads it he receives a “different light” the book is about the writer Matthiessen,s journey in the company of zoologist George Schaller who head out on a hike that would take them 250 miles into the heart of the Himalayan region of Dolpo, “the last enclave of pure Tibetan culture on earth.” Their voyage was in quest of one of the world’s most elusive big cats, the snow leopard of high Asia, a creature so rarely spotted as to be nearly mythical; Schaller was one of only two Westerners known to have seen a snow leopard in the wild since 1950. “What began as a practical search for the rare snow leopard, revered Buddhist emblem, developed into a quest for the meaning of Being.
I have also just finished reading Pico Iyers book ” The Art of Stillness” and have included the Amazon review here.
A follow-up to Pico Iyer’s essay “The Joy of Quiet,” The Art of Stillness considers the unexpected adventure of staying put and reveals a counterintuitive truth: The more ways we have to connect, the more we seem desperate to unplug.
Why might a lifelong traveler like Pico Iyer, who has journeyed from Easter Island to Ethiopia, Cuba to Kathmandu, think that sitting quietly in a room might be the ultimate adventure? Because in our madly accelerating world, our lives are crowded, chaotic and noisy. There’s never been a greater need to slow down, tune out and give ourselves permission to be still.
In The Art of Stillness—a TED Books release—Iyer investigate the lives of people who have made a life seeking stillness: from Matthieu Ricard, a Frenchman with a PhD in molecular biology who left a promising scientific career to become a Tibetan monk, to revered singer-songwriter Leonard Cohen, who traded the pleasures of the senses for several years of living the near-silent life of meditation as a Zen monk. Iyer also draws on his own experiences as a travel writer to explore why advances in technology are making us more likely to retreat. He reflects that this is perhaps the reason why many people—even those with no religious commitment—seem to be turning to yoga, or meditation, or seeking silent retreats. These aren’t New Age fads so much as ways to rediscover the wisdom of an earlier age. Growing trends like observing an “Internet Sabbath”—turning off online connections from Friday night to Monday morning—highlight how increasingly desperate many of us are to unplug and bring stillness into our lives.
I am experiencing a dilemma.
Because I have committed my life to being aware I am attentive to the signals and to listening rather than to turning my head and indulging in distractions. I perceive the water to be rising and I have decided to build an ark partly to encourage people to open and talk about why I am doing so. Many people laugh and continue with ways that seem to contribute to the flood.
What should one do.
Should I let go of my ways because people see them to be intrusive and follow the others who are indulged in fun ways and enjoy life as they claim to be doing, ignoring the inevitable or should I continue on in silence and learn to tolerate the laughter, honouring their decisions, not disturbing the ways of others? Maybe it is that I am confused, that my perceptions are negatively focused. If I a percieve something to be a truth of an important quality that has come to me through deeper reflection and see the importance of engaging in a more collective discussion and reflection am I imposing my opinion?
The way that I have chosen to interact is influenced by an authentic examination of what I directly experience. I am only aware because I feel that awareness is important and I pursue this. My intent is not to impose my ideas but to encourage and promote dialogue. I feel that I am not reacting out of fear or personal gain but out of a love for what we are at our heartfelt essence and to what we are a part of. There are many indicators that suggest that humanity is struggling. I cant help but think that we all have a role to play in finding our way back to this essence.
In the New York times today there is an article titles “Ocean Life Faces Mass Extinction, Broad Study Says”. There is something about our habitual ways that humans are reluctant to change, that fear of something or another keeps us wanting to hold on to ways that are familiar regardless of how destructive they may be. http://nyti.ms/1Cc3rov
Sent from my iPad
The more that I am able to let go of what I have been moulded into and become, opening to what is, the more that I am confronted with emptiness and with how to cope with that. It seems that I have filled my life with so many diversions to shield me from that direct experience of emptiness, most that have been a result of a more collective conditioning. In my unexamined life I obsessed with finding and maintaining meaning and I grasped on to whatever served me in that moment fearful of the inevitable realization that there was no truth in it. Now at least I am discovering that there is something that is a part of that nothingness that I have not had the benefit of being able to see that holds more truth than all the meaning that I have been taught by others that claimed to be truth or that I had created for myself to be true. It is something that needs no definition but that is best experienced directly and that we are all a part of beyond the fragmentation, separation and division that we have created in our collective search for meaning.
I am no expert or scholar. What I am attempting to express is from my own direct experience that there is more to living and knowing than we are conditioned to understand. In conforming wholly to our conditioned ways we reduce our potential for living fully. My opinions are in no way absolute. I can not say that I know for sure but that it is more a way of seeing that comes and goes, sometimes clearer to me than others It can be reformed and adjusted and it most definitely will be because everything changes. If I were to write it again in a months time it would surely take a completely different form. I as well understand that words can not capture all of what I am experiencing; never the less there is some value in the act of attempting to express my experience.
There is much to be considered in the value that we give to human intellectual ability and cognitive capacity the way we have come to experience it such as our grasping on to mechanical ways of knowing. These abilities are a gift of a sort that allows for envisioning in alternative ways but it has its limitations as all that exists does, especially as we have come to utilize it.
I have been taught to pursue answers to questions fueled by the belief that we humans can know certain things. In some circles there is belief that we can know most everything through our learned methods.
In general there seems to exist a most unexamined, blind faith in the ability of the human intellect and cognitive abilities and ways and methods that we have developed. But belief is a passive way to understand and never as absolute as we hold it to be. I have come to realize through my own contemplation that there is great benefit in examining the concept of belief itself in a more direct and complete way. Knowing, as I and almost all of us have been conditioned to understand the process is incomplete and it can only ensure that I will always only achieve partial and limited understanding.
There is a lot to be revealed that comes from a more direct questioning and experience, not without taking the time to let go of all such learned effort. What can be experienced in this way is something that has to some degree been forgotten but that is not separate from the essence of what we are, uncovered, unmasked and absent of the assumptions and effort of how we should better be. It is something that has led us more or less to our present form, however confused that has come to be. How this has been achieved may be beyond our present understanding through our conventional ways of knowing. The ultimate realisation of it might not be achievable through effort of the mind but more from a relaxing of it that can serve to set the way for a graceful revelation. There is some value in making adjustments to our routine that allow for the inclusion of contemplation, prayer and/or meditation in our daily activities that may prepare us for that experience.
A greater realisation of contentment can be experienced as a result of this shift in our ways that I suspect has something to do with coming back to a place of functioning from a more authentic and whole place. A reconnection to our deeper essence that has somehow been obscured can be a most rewarding one in terms of adding a much-needed tempering of what humans have created in the absence of it. One might say that it is an act of humanity.
I have been recently contemplating how I might be able to come to express myself in a way that is less opinionated. I search for truth in what i share yet i know that there are times that it is mired by opinion, subjective perception and belief that I hold. I wonder at times if I am able and ready to comprehend what is true and authentic about life. On the other hand I find that in my search it seems to be revealed to me not in such a concrete revelation but through other less conventional indicators that might be considered to be internal or intuitive and at times that I am open to moving beyond being in a more conventional way. I certainly would not suggest that any thing that is revealed in this place and way could be proven to be a fact through empirical means.
It seems that I am open to honestly set all that should interfere with my clear seeing aside in order to be receptive to that which I value most about life which is to live and experience what is authentic. I prefer to come to this through my own direct experience rather than to have it handed to me by another considered to be more informed and educated on matters of truth.
We as well live in a culture and time that normalizes and values the manipulating of the self and of other in order to present a more desirable presentation for the sake of meeting ones designated needs such as employment, friends and lovers, possessions and other things. What authenticity or substance can be found in this circus I am not sure. In seeing how children are raised and of the social and familial pressures that exist that serve to compromise any such urge for authenticity they may demonstrate as developing individuals I question if there happens to emerge from the soup such an individual and if so if they might not be accepted and understood.
Ultimately I question the truth of the notion of the individual self that is stressed in our modern-day and age encouraged by a collective ideology that promotes individualism as a fact. I have no doubt that there is the individual and a distinct expression of that but the degree and evidence that we use to stress that distinction and our perceptions and the influence that arises from that are questionable. The distortion that arises out of this process is obvious to me.
So where is the authentic to be discovered through all of this. First I think I have to be able to unravel all that has been distorted in my own creation of self. Until that is accomplished how can I be sure of my own perception of truth let alone be able to express it.