Knowing: Direct Experience or Concepts?

I am discovering  the limitations of  living life through the fixed use of conceptual formulations and ways of knowing that I was,  at an earlier age, conditioned to use. Direct experience is coming to replace concepts as a more holistic guide from which I  negotiate and understand life which has in turn led me to a different way of understanding, relating to and using concepts.

My life is constantly changing as is the way I perceive, express and understand life and life events. Fixed and abstract use of concepts in no way capture that  process. So in my efforts to express and share that direct experience I am constantly exploring and experimenting with new and creative and authentic ways to reflect that. The concepts that I use may change from day to day, depending on the dynamics that are involved and that affect me and any new insights that might have arisen at that particular moment and day.

The quality of consciousness changes for me  from day to day. There are many influences, some of what I have mentioned here,  that I am connected to, or not, that influence that. When I am able to bring awareness to my experience it has the most profound affect on how I live and how I fit into  life.

What is the Truth of Our Knowing

If we are commited to an honest process of self examination we might have discovered that somewhere in our recent past we have held to rigid notions of certainty about the correctness of our views and  along with that possibly  a reluctance to consider alternatives and  a tendency to believe that any intelligent person who has thought things through would agree with one’s own opinions. In our lack of openness there might exist a tendency to prefer more simplistic conceptual  views of the world that are not too complex or intellectually demanding. We might attatch and defer to our beliefs, not caring or able to find the time  to indulge in a more honest and open exploration.

I have come to realize the benefits of doubting and  questioning, that it can  be very helpful in coming to deeper  realizations .  Questionig how our perception and belief relate to and comfuse truth, especially  if we have not reflected on and/or investigated how the mind operates or influences our ideas and perceptions? What. is involved in moving to a more comprehensive, honest alnd intimate way of looking at things, and in becoming comfortable with exploring more diverse  ideas and how can we foster more openess to knowing through direct experience?

Humans need to know or at least to hold some explanation or belief  for things. There is fear nvolved in not knowing.  We seem to become quite attatched to our experience as we have come to formulate and conceptualize it. Is there something of us that has a need to  grasp on to a belief for the sake of simply believing that we know  and how much does that belief interfere with and determine how we experience the world is and how much does that grasping and need to know block an openess to experience the truth of what we are.

Stuck in Not Knowing

I have been struggling at times finding my way in a society of humans that seems to be lacking in compasssionate response to one another and destined to destroy itself. I have no difficulty realizing the inadequacy and limitation of conventional social thinking and the perceptions that influence it. I am aware as well of my own limited thinking and other ego/personality limitations so much so that it has been somewhat of a challenge to take myself too seriously or at times to like myself. Something of that comes from the fact that I dont know what do with my life or how to respond in this place of “not knowing” 

Something Rodney Smith wrote the  other day struck me. “The truth is not a set way of perceiving reality, but a release of all” In all the work that I have done over the years  at coming to recognize and deconstruct the “not knowing ” in  the ego, there is something there left in the fear remaining  around the hole, that is tied to the past. I can see more clearly, now that the ongoing  task is to meet that residue of fear in awareness. Rodney Smith suggests something that is relevent to me “The more we surrender our separation, the quicker we complete the work of dissolving our fear. Patterns that hold less identification are quickly released, but eventually we have to confront those areas where we are still tied to the outcome, image, or expression of our personal pain. These are areas requiring great sobriety and maturity. We know awakening involves our total being, but we may still hold a little of ourselves in reserve. We dawdle, hoping for a reprieve. The sense-of-self plays its final card, its wistful need for nostalgia. Will we disappear like a hand through water, leaving no trace of our place on earth, no small monument to “me”?

Practicing Awareness

I am more aware these days of the separation that my unconscious thinking has created and am more able to face the anxiety that dominates modern life from a more authentic sense of self as a being inseparable from that life. Realizing my being and its greater connection has involved a refining of awareness. I heard the line “the practice of awareness” suggested the other day, which takes some of the discomfort away from the aversion I have had to the notion that we must practice to become something different from what we are. It seems to me that to walk the way of being true and authentic to myself and the world that I am a part of that I must be aware. I have no plans or intentions to make myself better other than to follow where my heart leads me and to unfold from that and “practicing awareness” seems to be of assistance in this way.

There is a saying of Chinese Buddhism that goes, “A Bodhisattva avoids the causes; the ordinary person tries to avoid the results” In awareness there seems to be some realization that there is significance in learning to bear the pain that is a consequence of our modern collective choices. From understanding fully the disastrous consequences and origins in our thinking that has contributed to them we can perhaps take a different approach to making collective decisions. It involves an inviting in, what is real and what is here now. Much of what has lay hidden out of clear sight.

Return to the Heart

To attend to and follow the heart has not always been an easy task for me.There have been many influences in life that serve to interfere with and compromise that; opinions, definitions, concepts amd diversions in life that take me away from a more authentic orientation to self and life. That I might be able to return to a connection to the heart when I am lost is my ongoing hope.
One of Victor Frankls most relevent insights from his book “Man’s Search For Meaning” is the realization that forces beyond ones control can take away everything one possesses except for one thing. That is the freedom to choose how you respond to the situation. For myself a return  to the heart is always an option and it is helpful to remind myself, as Rodney Smith suggests that “the hearts love is found by releasing all that is not love”.i

Coping With Vulnerability

There is something of what I am that is incredibly vulnerable. It seems to underly all that I have created myself to be and looms forward at moments of increased lucidity, if I am able to cope with the sense of groundlessness that it brings. The frozen perspectives of self and world that have become isolated from the fluidity of life seem to have been maintained in order to establish mental certainty in an often-confusing world. In these moments of awareness I see the illussion that these fixations assume of my self. Efforts I make to express a truth of what lay beneath this are inadequate. In that place of being vulnerable there is nothing that I can assume to know since knowing provides insulation and separation from that deeper experience. All known truth seems to be relative in terms of using that process of language to capture any substance. I can however be aware of what my experience is outside of knowing, however insufficient my words are in attempts to express that. My experience is the most  authentic way of realization.

I am helpless in my vulnerability and it seems that it is something of my authentic experience that I hope to come to live with as opposed to becoming and dwellng in something of an illussion for the sake of providing a superficial sense of security.

Before Self-Comprehension Can Begin

Before I could begin to discover who and what I was; before I could begin to search and understand, I had to survive. I realize now that a large part of my early years were about survival. I didn’t know where or how to begin to live and so it was an endless search for who and what I could trust in. There was often only the instinct for survival, at that time, the insane fumbling actions and  drive to find stability and security, however misguided and superficial it had been; in that chaos.

I went to see the documentary movie “I am Not  Your Negro” today at the TIFF. Last week it saw Denzil Washington’s “Fences” and last month it was the movies  “Hidden Figures”, “Moonlight” and “Loving”.  These were all about Black America and the  struggle and adversity that African-Americans have encountered.  Much of the focus on life for a large percentage of them was survival.

At a social level my struggles and life issues did not compare with the suffering that they encountered. But even the white Americans who have been the oppressors were struggling with survival it seems. Fear of how black Americans  would respond, in their freedom, must have been a concern for them. Why else would they choose to live a broken, fragmented  and delusional reality that slavery and segregation  brought. Yet how can anyone truly  come to know themselves  in this atmosphere of fear and insecurity that their social and personal delusions reinforced.