We are certainly not born of this but most of us are at some point conditioned into a materialistic world. For me there is a danger that a person falls into if they are not able to open beyond that way. That is to become spellbound by those shadows, reflections and images that hold our gaze in this materialist world. I see a huge possibility that this fixation is at the heart of our looming human social, political and Ecological crisis. One is inevitably led away from the essence of self in this conditioned distracted way of habitual focus.
It is no easy task to resist this materialistic temptation and one must be committed to facing and enduring any perceived unpleasantries that arise in facing a more authentic experience of existing. I can relate to what Bertrand Russel wrote : Before I die, I must find some way to say the essential thing that is in me, that I have never said yet—a thing that is not love or hate or pity or scorn, but the very breath of life, fierce and coming from far away, bringing into human life the vastness and the fearful passionless force of non-human things .. . BERTRAND RUSSELL Letter to Constance Malleson, 1918, quoted in My Philosophical Development p. 261
For me it is not only essential to say this essential thing but to be it. yet as George Orwell wrote "To see what is in front of one’s nose, “needs a constant struggle.”
The aspects of our existence that limit us, Merleau-Ponty says, are the very same ones that bind us to the world and give us scope for action and perception. Everything in me longs to be free of bonds, of impediments and limitations and viscous clinging to things but these days, an ever emerging side of me is more aware and accepting of these limiting aspects of my existence. There is no real refuge in the denial of these aspects. All of my actions and thoughts are related to this limitation and I realize that all thought is merely an attempt to make explicit my hold upon the world, which is at the heart of what I am. If I am true to this way I am free, not in spite of or beneath these motivations but because of them. For me to live a meaningful life, that particular signification of nature and history that I have come to be, does not restrict my access to the world; it is in fact my means of communication with it. I no longer hold ideals or beliefs that arise out of my relative way of seeing, so tightly or on to perceptions of how I, or others should be and what the world is. Added to this, if I can bare to be so open; and to remain in such a way, I will continue to live with this understanding until life should reveal to me something that might change that. Being open to this kind of revelation and change is the best thing that I can do not to live in a dream world.
After all of this, I experience at the core, a Consciousness astonished at itself and this limitation that is inseparable from that. From that I contemplate and intuit that there is something rather Devine discovered in acceptance of this limitation.
“For many people the debate as to the ultimate reality of the universe is an academic one, far removed from the concerns and demands of everyday life. After all, reality is whatever it is independent of our models of it.” This line from Rupert Spiras new book “The Nature of Consciousness” is most relevant for me. But to a large degree, regarding many other aspects of living we generally , no longer pay attention to a more direct experience of life having had come to a norm where we accept the conclusions and developments of others we consider to have more expertise than us. Consistent with this way of thinking we have come to see the world and even ourselves in terms of fixed concepts that have been handed to us, that we have come to believe in and that has weakened a trust in our own resources. We no longer trust in discovering for ourselves, paying attention to our own innate intuition and ability to relate, connect to and understand a world that we are not separate from.
In our modern consciousness we have become deeply conditioned , attached to the notions we have been told are fact such that we are evolved and that we are more cival and knowledgeable than ever before.
What if this sense-of-self that we are so attached to is a construct—composed of automatized, mutually reinforcing ways of thinking, feeling and acting? If we take the time to investigate, reflect and contemplate we way come to see that this is likely that through fixed untested notions our perceptions have been molded in ways that don’t reflect a deeper truth but that we can come to realize the limitation and illussion involved in this thinking. In that contemplation there is the possibility of evaporation of our conditioned assumptions that comprise our sense of self. In this there is the possibility of seeing beyond cultural and traditional boundaries.
I notice that when I express my experience to a companion it involves a much more intimate and authentic process than if I am sitting down to capture my reflections in writing. More specifically the act of connecting and communicating in an intimate way with another seems to allow for deeper insights than if I am attempting to illuminate my reflections in writing. There is more of an abstract, subject – object shift in that reflection and expression of it in the later. Its a more of an individual, mechanical – cerebral process that is introduced.
It seems that many philosophers made wonderful insights but than seemed to become so caught up in the individual literal reflection and expression which took them into this very abstract bifurcated process. At times they have become quite obsessive about their individual insights seeing them as ultimate and fixed revelations. These days I am more and more aware that this kind of individual effort is limited. It loses, or is missing something of which it is inseparable from.
Humans are involved in an ongong search and have come to some conclusions about how we might best come to know ourselves. From this tendency to abstract our experience it is possible that human kind has come to accept a modernized mind-body dualism grasping of our immutable human condition that is quite possibly just another historically determined understanding; one of many possible. My experience has led me to realize that finding out who we really are doesn’t come in words, but only as an intimate experience, an awakening.
Rabindranath Tagore wrote “Listen, my heart, to the whispering of the world. That is how it makes love to you.”
Not being adept at the German language, I am finding a lot of time to paint and sit in silence these days. I especially appreciate listening to the endless songs of the swallows here in Eschersleben. I also spend many hours painting and it seems to do something to my awareness that I am not sure about at this time. I just know that I am more attuned to the world around; focused on the noises, smell, nature and sensations around me. In that place I am really beginning to see and catch how my thoughts unconsciously go to anxious themes. I am much more ready to embrace and release that energy. There was a long period of time, (years ) where that awareness of the anxiety was immense. It seemed to reach a point that it dominated. Its origins were somewhat unconscious to me. I suspect that it was more that I was finally ready to face the chronic suppressed anxiety that was underlying my shaky identity. All of this is more conscious these days, at least for now.
Expressing this experience of life and living is easier in painting. It seems to be rather spontaneous and not ot the will. Using words to express it can not be done without considering the role of awareness and sitting in silence. Out of that I have realized the relationship between suffering and the delusive sense of self. Another relevent insight is that the way that I experience the world affects whether I experience suffering or not. My perception of time has a big impact coming to see that there exists a relationship between feeling that I am living authentically and the way that I experience time. Our conditioned world has encouraged a temporal relationship to time. Awareness of that relation has revealed that the consequence of that is identitying with the subject or ego consciousness. That ego is in fact quite lacking in the experience and awareness of life and is perpetuated by the creation of a duality between consciousness and object. In this way, thinking as the thinker is in an ongoing place distinguishing one pole (e.g., success) from its opposite (failure) in order to attain the first and reject the other, but that bifurcation does not work because the two terms are interdependent.In that duality there is an endless cycle of focus on thoughts of security or relief from existential anxiety that is itself a consequence of this dualistic thinking. That pursuit is itself a process of bifurcation.
These days I am discovering another way of relating to that anxiety, encouraged by investigation in silence and that is not to evade it but to “become it” and see what comes from that. It seems that It is a part of me that cannot be fixed, cured or denied. Embracing the split that the mind has created seems to be a more authentic response that allows for a more comprehensive and holistic exploration and embracing of self. That experience is beyond what words or a dualistic way can capture or comprehend.
Every woman who tries to create love with an emotionally unaware partner, suffers. Self-help books galore tell us that we cannot change anyone but ourselves. Of course they never answer the question of what will motivate males in a patriarchal culture — males who have been taught that to love emasculates them — to change and to choose love, when the choice means that they must stand against patriarchy, against the tyranny of the familiar. We cannot change men but we can encourage, implore, and affirm their will to change. We can respect the truth of their inner being, a truth that they may be unable to speak: that they long to connect, to love, to be loved. — bell hooks
And than it’s not necessarily an easy road to openness. Habitual ways are difficult to change. The prevalent Western worldview promotes individualism and narcissism, it’s economic system encourages and rewards greed, and society as a whole seems to be entranced in consumerist addictions and fantasies. They allow for the possibility of a kind of worship of a mysoginistic, narcicistic inividuals such as Donald Trump.
The biggest challenge for me has been to sort through all this and to get myself pointed in the right direction. A big pert of thst has been coming to be comfortable with my vulnerability and what might be more a authentic essence of me that has been veiled in my search for security.
Still, these days, I seem to habitually want to react in that western way that I have been taught to think and behave. I am finally realizing that there is no such way that does not ultimately compromise what is authentic of me; never the less I have spent most of my life trapped in this state of thinking and reacting.
In these more recent times, there has been something akin to a leap of faith; beyond the ability of books,theories and how-to philosophy, that has enabled me to see more directly and to follow where that faith leads me. There is something more authentic in this; no need to act in a way searching for improvement or truth. I am instead led by “that” in the shedding of all that I have accumulated of my identity that is not of my humanity. The German word for this is “Gelassenheit”, the translation being ” releasement”