How often do we allow ourselves the opportunity to consider what’s really going on?
And I don’t mean we take in fully and assimilate (as best we can) what we read, or what we’re told or even believe, but to sit with our thoughts, feelings and sensations absent a goal or destination.
No, I’m not talking about meditation.
I mean to be with…and be everything — even if or especially if you’re in a world of hurt.
I’d guess, from my experience of life, not long enough.
Indeed, as Peter Zapffe said in The Last Messiah, we seek out endless distraction to fill up our lives, aided and abetted by the media and our insatiable greed for must-havery, instead of having to confront all those demons or regrets that follow us to the end of our days.
I accept that what I’m describing is not universal, i.e. not everyone is plagued by existential or psychological angst and, in fact, goes to the end of their days content with how they’ve lived out their life, but I’m convinced the problem is still considerable for many people.
So you sit, you ruminate and there’s nothing more than the distraction of thoughts.
Always those damned thoughts.
I’m not sure but if all you’re seeking is answers to the same old questions, I fear you’ll never find a settled place, if only because there are no answers that will ever satisfy fully what it is you’re seeking. Why? Because they’re based, on what you believe the world to be. What do I mean? I mean everything you’ve been told, whilst well-intentioned, was a lie or at least an innocent misrepresentation based on what that person and the person before that thought was the case.
I’ll take something very simple: nature. (Not that you spend much time thinking about it save perhaps the extent to which it’s disappeared and is disappearing with increasing speed.) Right now, you see or experience nature based on what you’ve been told or have read; and you label it and associate it with a flood of emotions; I’ve talked before about a tree but it could be anything.
On one level, it’s perfectly understandable that you need to know what certain things are, particularly those things that might kill you but (and this is something I’d love you to comment on in the section below) those things cannot be described, particularly if you don’t or can’t rely on your memory.
Now for me, as soon as this point hit home it broke asunder my relationship with my thinking self on the basis that the moment I was caught on the horns of another life-sucking dilemma, it was easy to fall into a space of peace (if not reverie) if I allowed myself the opportunity to say: “It or they are not true”. Sure, the thought might sound true but when I looked at the thing I was vacillating over, I knew that it was nothing more than an indescribable, moving shifting experience. I don’t want to say energy because I can’t talk about that from my direct experience. Ineffable perhaps might be a better word. And even the fact that I had thoughts was nothing more than what I’d be told.
I realise that this all sounds terribly New Age or woo-woo and given my left-leaning, realty-obsessed habitual way of seeing the world, I could easily dismiss this idea as complete crap but the longer I dwelt in this space, the harder and harder it became to be attached to my thinking. That’s not a coded way of me saying I’m enlightened but I certainly feel awake to the fact that whereas in the past I could ascribe labels to everything, now it’s a case of not believing any of it and understanding that the very ground of my assumed being is nothing more than what I’ve been told.
Look at it another way — and this you can do from your own experience — your body, i.e. the physical reality, works perfectly well without thoughts. Your heart, lungs, kidneys, blood, fingers, toes and hair growth. You don’t direct them. You don’t tell them to move in a different direction; and you don’t worry about any of them unless that it is you’re sick. If that’s right, then why do you pay so much attention to your thoughts which you can no more describe accurately than locate their source and less still find a switch to enable them to be different to the ones that you’re now receiving?
At this stage, if I might be permitted to quote from The Last Messiah:
But as he stands before imminent death, he grasps its nature also, and the cosmic import of the step to come. His creative imagination constructs new, fearful prospects behind the curtain of death, and he sees that even there is no sanctuary found. And now he can discern the outline of his biologicocosmic terms: He is the universe’s helpless captive, kept to fall into nameless possibilities.
From this moment on, he is in a state of relentless panic.
Such a ‘feeling of cosmic panic’ is pivotal to every human mind. Indeed, the race appears destined to perish in so far as any effective preservation and continuation of life is ruled out when all of the individual’s attention and energy goes to endure, or relay, the catastrophic high tension within.
The tragedy of a species becoming unfit for life by overevolving one ability is not confined to humankind. Thus it is thought, for instance, that certain deer in paleontological times succumbed as they acquired overly-heavy horns. The mutations must be considered blind, they work, are thrown forth, without any contact of interest with their environment.
In depressive states, the mind may be seen in the image of such an antler, in all its fantastic splendour pinning its bearer to the ground.
Of course, for those seeking an escape from their mental torture, they’re apt to rush forward looking for a teacher or (ye gads) a Guru. I did — not the Guru part — but, in the end, all I was left with was a deep suspicion that I was being ‘sold’ magical thinking. As an example of this, I remember only too well questions opining on the state of awakeness that the said teacher was supposed to inhabit, and the answer was always something on the theme: “Just this.” And in my world that just doesn’t cut it!
To be clear, I’m only sharing these words with you to invite a different conversation that seems intent on solving everything. My view is that there is nothing that can be solved because what you seek is what you already are and ever will be, even if large parts of your assumed persona causes you no end of grief.
I think that’s enough for now but over the course of the coming days and weeks, it’s my intention to share with you some further reflections bearing upon the above rubric.