Here’s a thought I had:
Nowadays, there is a tendency to equate our perception of the world as a form of “ultimate knowledge”. It is treated as a ‘fact’ before us, like the sky or a mountain. Because of this, the world is perceived as being “set in stone” and “unchangeable”. This becomes the way we know it making the world nothing but a form of “ultimate knowledge”. In other words, there is an equation of ‘world=knowledge’. I speak of this as the ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’. This world-as-knowledge perspective makes it so that knowledge becomes the “measure of all things” creating what can be called a ‘static perception of the world’ as knowledge is static and non-changing . . . once you know it that’s what it is. The most extreme version of this is science with its rigid “this is the world” attitude, defined, unchangeable, and absolute.
I find I look at things differently . . .
THE ACT OF PERCEIVING
Life is based in perception. It defines what is known, how its known, and what is important. Perception, by its nature, is a very varied and active event in life. Because of this, one cannot equate ‘knowledge’ to perception, as in the ‘knowledge-as-perception orientation’. It is not ‘fact’ or something “set in stone”, in my opinion. That is to say, the world is experienced and lived as what one perceives, not what one knows or what the world actually is. Therefore, the conditions of perception dictate the world and what it is as well as how we associate with it. This means that the question of the world is really a question of perception. In this way, one could say that the ‘real world’ is something we can never know . . . all we know is what we perceive. As a result, I have found that whenever I look at the world I often end up looking at perception instead. This is the ‘world-as-perception orientation’. In this orientation, the question of how one perceives becomes more important than the world itself, as well as its ‘knowledge’. Because of this, I have put great emphasis on how the world is perceived.
I’ve often viewed how I perceive the world in a specific way. This is shown in this diagram (click to see):
This diagram depicts a particular stance in regard to perceiving and its specific traits. As one can see I view myself as standing in the act of perceiving the world. I am standing facing the “I don’t know”, which is really the world. As I do this I stand on the ‘authority of precedence’. As I look out into the “I don’t know” there is the “mist of precedence” coming from the “authority of precedence” which comes into the “I don’t know”. Along with this is the “mist intuition” that comes from “intuition” which hangs as if mysteriously above me and also comes into the “I don’t know”. This makes it so that, as I gaze out into the world, there is a mixture of three things:
- The “I don’t know”.
- The “mist of precedence”.
- The “mist of intuition”.
These three combine to create something like a soup: perception. As a result of all these different elements, perception is very varied and reactive. It creates a very dynamic and ever-changing situation. In other words, perception is a constantly fluid situation.
This “self” actually refers to what can be described as an ‘extended self’. That is to say, it is not just the perceiving of ones self but more. This is because perceiving, as I’m using it, consists of a combination of three different forms of perceiving:
- A perceiving of the world.
- A perceiving of the self.
- A perceiving of the self-in-the-world.
In other words, its not just a ‘perceiving’ but a ‘perceiving in the context of ones self and the world’. That is to say, we don’t just ‘perceive’ things (such as the sky is blue) but perceive things in relation to other things (the world, self). Perhaps we could speak of these three forms of perceiving as ‘contextual perceiving’? In this way, its more like an ‘extended perceiving’ that brings together different forms of perceiving into a single perceiving. It is the “self” that brings together the different forms of perceiving and allows this single perceiving. In other words, the “self” makes ‘contextual perceiving’ happen. Because of this, the “self” is instrumental in perceiving in a greater context.
Because of the influence of the “self” it makes it so that its state and condition is critical and of paramount importance. Any alteration, or change, in the “self” changes perceiving. This is why mood, growth, experience, etc. have such an impact on perceiving . . . once the “self” is changed perceiving is changed. As a result of this, there is a close connection between perceiving and the “self”. In fact, they are so closely associated that anyone looking at perceiving becomes concerned, in the end, with the state and condition of the “self”. In other words, any inquiry into perceiving often ends with an inquiry into the “self”. This is because they are so closely associated.
The “gaze” refers to our ‘looking’ out into the world. It shows that a person must look. To be more precise, the “gaze” refers to being aware. One could also refer to this as being ‘open’ to the world. Only by being aware and ‘open’ can anything be perceived.
One cannot be aware or ‘open’ to everything at once. Because of this, we are actually only aware or ‘open’ to certain things at any one time. This can be described as ‘selective awareness’. That is to say, awareness is “selected” or singled out from everything else. Because of this, we are usually oblivious to everything else not in ‘selective awareness’. As a result of this, what one gazes at (that is, what one is aware of or ‘open’ to) determines what one perceives and tends to appear to be the only thing existing. In this way, we actually only perceive a small part of what we are capable of being aware of. In some respects, its much like looking through a tube.
Often, because ‘selective awareness’ is so selective and particular we get in the habit of gazing at the wrong things and being aware of frivolous and deceptive things. Since this is all that we see we tend to ‘assume’ it to be correct. But, as I mentioned above, this is only a small part of awareness. As a result of this, learning to “gaze” at the correct things has a big influence on life. In fact, a big part of life, in my opinion, is learning what is best to “gaze” at, to be aware of, and to be ‘open’ to. This can have great impact on ones mental health and happiness in life. As a result, its healthy to develop ‘the directed gaze’. This is learning what is best, and healthiest, to direct ones “gaze”, of developing the “right perceiving”. Remember, “ones life depends on perceiving the world the right way”. If one gets in the habit of “gazing” at the wrong things then it tends to detract from life and cause problems. Developing a good and healthy ‘directed gaze’ is not easy. A person can’t just tell you how to do it. A person must look for himself. Some aspects of a ‘directed gaze’ include:
- The need for experience. This means it must be practiced. It means success and failure.
- The intention of health and finding the “right” way. A person must want to find a healthy and “right” way of perceiving.
- The need for example. It requires the need of example from other people, tradition, and belief. Regardless of how much we think we can do things on our own we tend to need help from other people in some form.
- The need for deliberate effort. A person must use deliberate effort to find the healthiest and “right” way. This is because perceiving is rooted in the “self”, as I said above. Because of this, any healthy or “right” way of perceiving must entail deliberate effort as a manifestation of the “self”. That is to say, the “self” must be involved for any ‘directed gaze’ to be effective. The utilizing of the “self'” makes the ‘directed gaze’ hit deeper into ones soul affecting who one is. In this way, the ‘directed gaze’, through the “self”, transforms a person, making it more than a perceiving but a self-altering experience.
I tend to feel that only in finding the “right” way is life achieved and grasped. In other words, one doesn’t achieve life by money, by achieving, by climbing mountains, by being famous, etc. Life is found by developing the “right” way of looking at it and perceiving it, of developing a healthy “gaze”. In some respects, this is the great battle of life.
In this way, the “gaze” is related to what I call ‘Poesy’, which is seeking a particular state of mind. I’ve written articles on this such as “Thoughts on how I am not an intellectual – the coming of ‘Poesy’ and the seeking of a state of mind” and “Thoughts on what I call Poesy“. The ‘directed gaze’ is really ‘poesy’ and the “right” way is its particular state of mind.
The “rest” refers to having a sense of solidity and certainty in life. This “rest” is based in these forms of authority:
- The “authority of precedence’ (see entry below). This could be described as ‘casual authority’ or ‘experiential authority’. This is primarily based in things we’ve done. Accordingly, it tends to have a more ‘functional, ‘practical’, or ‘mechanical’ role in life. That is to say, it is an authority that tends to be superficial and has minimal influence on ones deep inner self. It primarily has the function of allowing one to be able to function in the world.
- The authority created by the “self”. This could be described as ‘deep authority’, ‘personal authority’, or even ‘mystical authority’. This type of authority is rooted in the ‘contextual perceiving’ described above and its association with the “self” and the world. It hits deep within a person, often to the core of who one is. Because of this, it tends to have a deep inner quality that affects ones “soul”. This often gives it a ‘mystical’ and ‘religious’ quality. Its not uncommon that it becomes associated with god and the Divine in some way.
The effect of these forms of authority tends to give the quality of something like a rock for us to “rest” upon. It allows us to ‘relax’ and ‘be calm’ and thereby decreasing worry about things. This gives authority a quality of a ‘protector’. In this way, authority is like a parent and our relationship with authority is as a parent/child relationship. This is because authority entails a trust, of a ‘letting something else take care of the difficulties of life’. Because of this, the “rest”, which authority creates, is critical for living a healthy, happy, and content life. The absence of the “rest” makes for a very nervous, tense, and unhappy life. Because of this, our views of authority, which causes the “rest”, is critical in life. In fact, one should seek it and try to find authority in ones life. Some aspects of authority include:
- We need to seek, and find, authority.
- We need to develop healthy attitudes and views toward authority.
- We need to develop a relationship with authority.
As a result of this, one could say that one of the secrets of life is the acknowledgement of authority and in having a good relationship with authority. By doing this we develop a “rest” or a ‘calm’ in our lives. This means we must develop a trust and a ‘letting go’. In other words, one cannot find authority if one “has to be in charge” and “do everything”. The lack of appreciation of authority is one of the reasons why Americans are so uptight (see my article “Thoughts on the ‘uptight American’ – the price of individualism“) as their individualistic “Mr. American in-charge” attitude does not allow for a “rest”. Because of this, it detracts from their life and is, in actuality, a burden causing a lot of unnecessary mental anguish.
The “I don’t Know”
The general stance, that I have, is of looking out into the world as a looking into a mystery . . . I simply don’t know. As a result, I see the world as ‘unknown’ or ‘vague’. Because of this, my mind is sort of blank or, rather, receptive, and I am as if waiting for something to reveal itself. In other words, I find that I am “dumb before the world”. I try to not presume I know what’s going on. If I “think” I know I try to temper it with “. . . but I’m not sure”. As a result, the “I don’t know” is an attitude that one takes, a stance. Its not as easy to develop as it may seem. It takes practice.
The “I don’t know” is an awareness that:
- One has an inability to know.
- That one will never know completely.
- That what one knows may be wrong.
As a result, it requires a sense of appreciating the fact that one does not know and may never know. It is not an attitude of seeking to know as a complete fact, as if it is set in stone (an ultimate knowledge). It is an attitude that knowing is a continual endless revealing that never ends and is ever changing. This stance, I have found, is not a common one. Its also not an easy one to take.
The “I don’t know” is like being exposed to life, vulnerable, and weak. This creates what can be described as an “I don’t know apprehension”, a natural apprehension to the “I don’t know”. This is because, in the “I don’t know”, one has no ‘handle’ or ‘grasp’ on things. It creates a tendency to create solid ‘facts’ and ‘knowings’ which are really no more than a refuge to avoid the exposed vulnerable condition the “I don’t know” creates. Facts and knowledge becomes something to hide behind, a wall, a fortress to protect ones self. My experience is that most people who accept knowledge as ‘solid’ and ‘ultimate’ are generally doing just that. One could describe this as the ‘knowledge’ refuge’ . . . using knowledge as a way to hide from feeling vulnerable to life. As a result, one can see that there is an association between the “I don’t know” and experiencing life. Its because of this that seeking the “I don’t know”, as an act, becomes a seeking of the experience of life in a “raw” state, so to speak. But the effect of this is that the “I don’t know” stance requires a confrontation with ones vulnerabilities and weaknesses. As a result, it requires more of the self, which can be hard. It requires things such as:
- An activeness
- A submission
- A willingness to be flexible
- A willingness to be continually changing
- A willingness to discover things, which can be difficult
- A willingness to suffer
In other words, there is no hiding in the “I don’t know”. In this stance, one is exposed. This can put great strain on the self but this is part of its great benefit. Basically, the strain on the self develops the self.
My experience is that the awareness of not knowing (the “I don’t know” stance) is more powerful than knowing. This is true in regard to general life perspectives. Of course, when it deals with specific things one must know, such as how to change a tire, then its different. This shows that the “I don’t know” stance is a general life attitude. It isn’t necessarily directed to the particulars and details of life. In this way, it has the quality of a philosophy or religion.
The “authority of precedence”
The “authority of precedence” is an authority based on some form of previous experience. It refers to things that have already happened and which have ‘proven’ to have a truth, at least to our satisfaction at the time. As a result, it is based on experience that has, in some way, been proven true at the time. Because they have been proven true (at least as we understand it) it creates a ‘confidence’ or ‘certainty’ about things based on the truth it seems to reveals. This ‘confidence’ or ‘certainty’ becomes the authority. These include things such as things we’ve done, knowledge we know, opinions we have, activities we’ve done, things we’ve seen, and such . . . anything which we have developed a ‘confidence’ and ‘certainty’ in. In reality much of life rests upon the ‘authority of precedence’, which rests on previous experience. It becomes a great guide and beacon in our life.
One effect of the ‘authority of precedence’ is that it creates a ‘sense of certainty’ that does not need any recollection. That is to say, when something has a ‘truth’ we develop an attitude of confidence about it and typically become unaware of it. As a result, it creates a general attitude called the “confidence of precedence”. This is a sense of certainty, as a result of the many things we’ve done in our life, and becomes an attitude we have in life, a attitude of confidence. The more truth we find in our confidence the stronger the sense becomes. This sense is generally constant within us and is unconscious . . . we’re not usually aware of it. In many ways, it is a sum total of what we have done.
The ‘authority of precedence’ appears in many ways. It can be:
- Specific. This usually means its related to a specific thing. Many forms of authority only remain around certain things. They may appear only when that subject makes an appearance and then quickly disappears once it is gone. Because of this, we often forget the authority of various things and often have to relearn them later in life.
- Constant. This usually means that its a character trait. The fact is that ones character is greatly influenced by a generalized constant character of the various forms of experience that one has in ones life, the ‘confidence of precedence’. That is to say, there develops an overall “sense” of our experiences in life that develop as we grow. This ‘sense’ affects our character and is always with us and becomes a part of us. Once it becomes a part of us it remains constant and, therefore, “colors” our perception of the world and our self greatly affecting our character.
One can see that there are many versions ranging from a specific thing to a generalized life sense. These give a whole range of variety in how its manifested. Other ways it manifests itself include:
- Variable. ‘Authority of precedence’, being based in experience, tends to change with experience. In this way, it is an ever-changing and continually altering phenomena. This gives it a variable quality. In many ways, the experience of variable ‘authority of precedence’ is part of the experience of ‘living’. Being variable it makes a person variable, giving a sense of ‘living’ and ‘vivaciousness’.
- Solid. Oftentimes, we tend to get in the habit defined by our previous experience that defines our self and reality and ends up becoming something like a rut, a hole we can’t get out of, particularly as we get older. This makes us look at our life and self in a constant unchanging way. In this way, the ‘authority of precedence’ tends to become ‘solidified’ into a specific form of authority set by precedence. When this happens one often begins to feel ‘dead’. This is common in later years.
There are many cases where the ‘authority of precedence’ remains unchanged, perhaps for ones whole life, not because it has become ‘solidified’, as described above, but because of conditions. These include things such as:
- It is based in a “concrete truth”. Such as the sky is blue and that we stand on two legs. Typically, this is true with physical but less with mental activities.
- It is not challenged. There has been nothing to dispute it.
- It reflects some aspect of ones self.
- It does not conflict with a precedence we have gotten used to.
We often hold many authorities throughout our life not because they are “true” but because they have remained unchanged for some reason. Its not uncommon that a great deal of our ‘authority of precedence’ are false, or have no relevance but, being unchanged, they remain in our minds as an authority. In this way, one could say that we all develop a ‘residue precedence’ that remains with us. These are precedence that have no real value but continue in our minds as a truth because there have been nothing to change it.
Intuition is a phenomena that is often hard to explain. To me, it often has a miraculous quality about it, as it seems to come from nowhere and have no foundation in anything. It comes from many sources:
- Experience. This often creates an ability to ‘know’ that, at first, appears miraculous. In actuality, it is actually the ‘confidence of precedence’, as described above. That is to say, it is based in a confidence established by something we have already done and have become confident in. As mentioned above, we are not necessarily aware of this confidence or experience. As a result, when it does appear it can have the appearance of being miraculous or, rather, it appears as an intuition. In reality, it is really a hidden or forgotten confidence based on experience.
- The inner self. There are many aspects of the self that allow it to “know” things. Many of these seemed as if ‘designed’ into us, much like instinct. Others are abilities we just are not aware of. And, still others, are abilities that does not fit our logic and point of view of things.
- Unknown origins. Some intuitions I cannot explain.
I have always believed that intuition plays a far greater role than we realize. To me, much of the “I don’t know” is rooted in the following of intuition. I’ve written an article on intuition and inspiration called “Thoughts on instinct, intuition, and inspiration“.
Intuition has several forms:
- ‘World-dependent intuition’. Typically, intuition is nothing but “following ones gut”. In this way, one does not use a reason or logic to do things but, rather, a ‘feeling’. This intuition usually appears in relation to a situation or condition. That is to say, there is a situation or condition that creates a ‘feeling’ and one follows it in regard to that situation or condition. This creates a ‘world-dependent intuition’ that has a beginning, root, and origin in the world situation. This, in my experience, is the most common and prevalent form of intuition. This is the form that is the most influential in life.
- Instantaneous intuition. This is an intuition that as if comes from nowhere and does not appear instigated by anything. In other words, it is not ‘world-dependent’. It tends to involve itself with a specific situation such as a feeling that “something might happen”. This form is the rarest form of intuition and, from my experience, has little impact on life usually.
The following of intuition has a quality of “following life”, in my opinion. In other words, life somehow seems to “hide” in intuition. In particular, the following of ‘world-dependent intuition’ is this “following of life”. This is because of this association:
In other words, ‘world-dependent intuition’ establishes a connection between the self and life. It establishes a connection on a deep, almost mystical, level which is why it has so much impact. As stated in the article above, intuition connects us with instinct, some of the deepest aspects of our self. In this way, the ‘world-dependent intuition’ creates a deep rooted connection with life. One cannot develop this deep connection with logic, reason or thought. this shows that there is an association between intuition and a depth in life. Because of this, one should seek to develop an ‘intuitive life’.
Both the ‘authority of precedence’ and ‘intuition’ create “mists”. These “mists” are really the “presence” of the each specific quality that tends to guide and direct the “I don’t know”. It is a “mist” because it is unseen, unconscious, and not obviously apparent but influences our perceiving. In addition, it does not ‘drive’ things but ‘influences’ giving it something like a passive quality. It lies hidden from us but is there influencing what we do. Though we do not see it the “mists” have great power and influence over us. Because of this, it greatly influences the “I don’t know”.
The “mists” is primarily a sense. By itself, the “mists” would come to nothing, so it is like a half of something. It needs something from the “I don’t know” to become something, to anchor it and give it value. This is what makes them a “mist” . . . its only partial. When the “mists” merges with something from the “I don’t know” it becomes something. In that way, the “mists” becomes blended, so to speak, to our past experience, current situation, and intuition in the “I don’t know”. Because of this it is an active element and very fluid and ever-changing.
The “mists” creates a condition that has a number of effects depending on its origin. The “mist of intuition” creates:
- It allows recovery of information, knowledge, and experience.
- Its a source of ‘being there’, of a deeper sense of self.
The “mist of authority” creates:
- It gives things a direction to go.
- It creates a constancy of self in life.
Because of these, the “mists” and “I don’t know” interface, in the varied affairs of life, and creates these things like this:
- A creative tendency.
- An application of things.
- A continual doing and discovery.
- An in-world experience.
They create something like a ‘coloring’ of the world and what one does, influencing ones perceiving. Oftentimes, these are so mild one does not notice them but their influence is very great.
A big part of perceiving is the creation of “impressions”. This is basically an conception created in the “I don’t know” but with an awareness that it can change. In other words, its an acknowledgement that any conception one has may change in the future, and that ones conceptions are never ‘totally right’. It creates what I call a ‘fluid philosophy’ or a ‘living philosophy’. In this there is no ‘constant dogma’ or ‘ultimate knowing’ but it is ever-changing based on impressions that continually change. In this way, it is ‘changing’ and ‘living’ . . . a vivaciousness of ones conceptions. Because of this, it is fluid-like. This is because the nature of the “I don’t know” is one of creating fluid conceptions. This type of conception is reflective of the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’ which puts emphasis on ones perceiving, which are continually changing. A common form of conception, nowadays, can be described as solid conception. This type of conceptions are in the pattern of “let it be written, let it be done”. Solid conception is what the modern world creates: the result of schooling, education, learning, etc. This is reflective of the ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’ which puts emphasis on a ‘concrete knowing’. This is at odds with the fluid conception of the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’. In fact, because it is at odds with it, there is a tendency for solid conception to undermine or destroy fluid conceptions . . . they are not compatible together. As a result, we see that impressions are a product of the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’, of a fluid conception. But impressions are also something that the modern world, with its ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’ and solid conception, actually tends to destroy. In general, the modern world, the ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’, and solid conception is one of solidity, rigidity, and lack of variability . . . in short, a ‘static philosophy’ or ‘dead philosophy’. This point of view should be avoided.
I should point out that because impressions are variable there is no right or wrong impression. What makes them “right” is if they fit the situation and person. As a result, an impression may be right one day and wrong the next . . . it varies remember. In many ways, life is nothing but a continually seeking of the “right impression” which continually changes. We must always be on our guard and ready to accept and follow the “right impression”. This, in reality, is the main function of inspiration . . .
Inspiration is the coming together of the “self”, the “authority of precedence”, and “intuition”, in the “I don’t know”, as an active seeking. Typically, inspiration has a quality of appearing out of nowhere much like intuition, which it is associated with. Inspiration, though requires:
- Deliberate effort.
- An ability.
- An action.
This makes inspiration more of a ‘something’ someone does. That is to say, it is a result of a deliberate act a person does. Its not just any act, though. Typically, a person must have a natural ability at the form of inspiration that they are doing. Not only that, it only appears as a result of some action one does . . . a person must do a specific act. This action can be things such as music, painting, and such but, in this article, I am primarily referring to thought and awareness as inspiration.
There appears to be several forms of inspiration:
- ‘Word-based inspiration’. This refers to things that can be “found out” or expressed in an obvious way. Usually, this means something that can be put into words or thoughts. This fact makes it attainable or, to put it another way, it makes it “usable”. Words and thoughts can give inspiration a practical use that can be applied in the world. We tend to focus on words and thoughts themselves as an entity themselves. This is what can be described as a ‘word-based inspiration’. It primarily makes up most learning, study, or thought. It creates an “attainable” form of inspiration. When this happens our focus is on the words and concepts themselves. It is tangible, graspable, and, as a result, “attainable”. In this way, words and thoughts become something like building blocks that one manipulates and builds. One can fabricate great ideas and philosophies that way.
- ‘Passion-based inspiration’. In this form of inspiration one “seeks the passion before the words”. That is to say, one seeks what motivates the words and thoughts. The emphasis, then, is not on the words but the passion, spirit, or sense that caused them to be. This could be called ‘passion-based inspiration’, as I call what motivates the words as ‘passion’. Because of this, the emphasis is not on the words or thoughts themselves but on passion itself. This makes it so that this form of inspiration is not one of ‘chasing words and thoughts’, which is what “thinking” is to most people. Typically, passion is wordless, unformed, alive, variable, dynamic, ungraspable, and mysterious. In a sense, one is chasing a ‘mystery’ as it is wordless. In the chase for passion, though, one naturally has thoughts and ideas that appear as part of the chase . . . they are as if created by the chase giving words and thoughts a ‘secondary’ quality. This makes it so that the words and thoughts become something that ‘follows along’. That is to say, they do not appear first but afterwords. In this way, they are like the ‘footprints’ created by the “seeking the passion before the word”. This makes it so that the words and thoughts as if ‘materialize out of nowhere’ . . . true inspiration. The thoughts and concepts are all things that ‘follow along’ afterwords and never lead the thought or inspiration process. This, in actuality, is what I seek as I think about things and is the primary form of inspiration I do (much of this blog is the result of it).
- ‘Awareness-based inspiration’. This generally refers to a ‘sense’ or ‘awareness’ and is beyond words. As a result, this form cannot be put into words. Because of this, it is primarily a form of awareness which is why it can be described as an ‘awareness-based inspiration’. Being without words, it often has a quality that can be described as “mystical”. In this way it often has a religious quality to it. Its primary emphasis, and use, is personal.
These create something like a spectrum, from something defined to mystical. This is quite important as it shows that inspiration is not ‘concrete act’ but has many forms . . . a manifestation of the fluid quality found in the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’. In other words, a spectrum of inspiration is based in different forms of perceiving – words and thoughts, passion, and awareness – that one alternates in. As a result, in seeking inspiration a person does not just do ‘one thing’ but actually weaves in and out through different forms of inspiration. The important thing in seeking inspiration, then, is not doing one form of inspiration but the whole spectrum. In this way, we see that there are really two aspects associated with the spectrum of inspiration:
- The ‘form of inspiration’. This is the specific form of inspiration you are doing, such as thought.
- The ‘weaving of inspiration’. This is going from one form of inspiration to another. The impetus, and tendency, to change forms of inspiration is, itself, a form of inspiration. That is to say, in changing forms one must be inspired to do it . . . you don’t just ‘do it’ for no reason. In fact, its very possible that changing forms of inspiration may be the greatest act of inspiration there is.
These two qualities show, and reveal, the varied nature of inspiration.
Being Stupid in Inspiration
The fact is that being stupid leads to inspiration. An attitude of “I know” does not create an inspired person . . . it just creates a person who “knows”. Inspiration, by its nature, requires a continual sense of “I don’t know” and of being stupid. It does this because, by being stupid, the self is removed from awareness and knowledge of the world:
This ‘stupid gap’ gives a space, an opening for intuition in particular. When the self is too attached to the world it creates a self-world bond which causes a worldly attitude that is so strong that it pushes out any intuition and prevents intuition from influencing the self. Because of this, we tend to become more ‘worldly’ and focus on what we can ‘grasp’. That is to say, our orientation becomes focused on what can be ‘grasped in the world’. Being that this worldly ‘graspable’ attitude pushes out intuition shows that intuition is not something ‘grasped’. As a result, being stupid is not a ‘grasping’ attitude. In fact, being stupid is actually a ‘letting go’ of things, often a renouncing or abandoning of things, even ones sense of self. This means that ‘being stupid’ is not the same as ‘being dumb’ and ‘not knowing’, as one would normally think. ‘Being stupid’ is an attitude. More specifically, its a ‘non-grasping’ attitude even to the point of ‘letting go’ of things.
The removal of the self from the world has great impact on the self:
- Because the self is removed from the world, by being stupid, it often leads to a stronger sense of self. The self becomes more prominent and aware of itself.
- The self becomes independent of the world. In this way, a new self is created, a ‘non-worldly self’. This tends to create a spiritual orientation.
- It can put great strain on the self. This can cause a growth of the self but it can also cause great turmoil and despair and conflict as well. In fact, it can become unbearable at times.
Being stupid is not an easy task. Its a unique attitude. One has to develop it.
Interestingly, being stupid tends to create a dilemma in inspiration. Seeking inspiration is actually creating a condition that tends to destroy being stupid, which is what creates inspiration. This is because the result of inspiration is some form of “thing” which as if “solves” stupidity by creating something that is “there”, making us “un-stupid”, so to speak. This is at odds with being stupid and tends to destroy its effects. This is the ‘stupid-knowing dilemma’. There seems to be two reactions to this dilemma:
- That finding things “solves” stupidity. In this sense a person becomes ‘smart’, for example.
- That finding things make one more stupid. One only finds how little one knows.
When I was young, the former seemed to be true. As I get older the latter becomes more true. The first is rooted, in my opinion, in the illusion of ‘facts’. One thinks the facts, and knowing, are the answer. The latter is a result of finding that the facts are not the answer, that there is something ‘more’, something beyond us. In this way, it is more of a spiritual sense. In that way, the best “solution” to the ‘stupid-knowing dilemma’ is by being stupid which creates a spiritual sense and perspective. As a result of this, there is a sense of something ‘beyond us’. I’ve found that this is far more powerful than any knowing.
I should point out that being stupid is, in actuality, the “I don’t know”.
Inspiration = Seeking Life
It became clear to me, over time, that inspiration is a way to seek life. In fact, one could say that inspiration is a life style. Initially, I thought it was just ‘for fun’ and the fact that it created ideas and ‘knowledge’. As time went on, I found it did more than that. Slowly, ideas and ‘knowledge’ became minor things, trivialities, and a greater picture would emerge.
Inspiration seeks life in a number of ways:
- By giving example of how to live.
- By giving means of expression for ones self.
- By creating experiences as well as experience in life.
- By creating an increased awareness.
- By creating a base in life, and a foundation of living.
- By revealing deeper aspects of oneself.
- By creating a dynamic and varied life experience.
In short, it became an avenue of living, not only experientially but conceptually. In short, inspiration became an active participation, based on experiences, that created a concept of how to live. Its for this reason why I tend to condemn ‘learning facts’ and the so-called ‘education’ of today, which is primarily monkey see-monkey do and imitation. To put it simply, there has become a lot of ‘play acting’ of knowledge and information, nowadays, that is only an illusion. Typically, it tends to fail in a number of ways:
- It tends to lack the self.
- It lacks experience.
- It lacks spontaneity.
- It lacks originality.
- People are as if standing on the shoulders of other people (by learning things other people created).
These facts, at least to me, make seeking inspiration a very important thing to do, nowadays, as it contradicts the mechanistic attitude of today.
THE MYTH OF THE ULTIMATE – SEEKING RELEVENCE
I tend to view that there is no ‘ultimate’ truth. Or, to put it another way, what we need to do is find what is relevant to us (I wrote an article on this called “Thoughts on my saying: Truth is relevence“). Too often, in seeking “knowledge” or “learning” we try to make things the ‘ultimate’ truth. That is to say, we are trying to find truth that explains ‘everything’ and that is everything. This ‘ultimate’ thinking is the basic stance of the ‘knowledge-as-perception orientation’.
Typically, the further we move into ‘ultimate’ truth the more we move away from relevance (that is, meaning to ourselves). Or, to put it another way, the more ‘abstract’ it becomes. By ‘abstract’ I mean that it is distant from us. It becomes too ‘cranial’ and ceases to have meaning deep down. This, in fact, is exactly what we are trying to avoid and move away from. In this way, the seeking of ‘ultimate’ truth is something to be avoided.
Not only that, knowing is passive. You only know that you know and that’s it . . . nothing more is required. Its something you ‘have’. Because of this, it creates what can be described as a ‘false rest’. This often creates the illusion that it is the end, the answer . . . the ‘ultimate’. This tends to create an illusion in knowing, that it is more than it is. In addition, it creates a whole myth about knowledge and knowing, as if it answers everything.
SOCRATES . . . AND PHILOSOPHY’S DISSOLUTION OF INSPIRATION
A man who appears to have used a similar, but different, viewpoint and technique is Socrates. Many statements he made reflect aspects of inspiration I described above:
- “. . . but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the moment.”
- ” . . . for he knows nothing, and thinks he knows; I neither know nor think I know.”
- “. . . God orders me to fulfill the philosopher’s mission of looking into myself and other men.”
- “. . . he only gives you the appearance of happiness, and I give you the reality.”
- “O Socrates,” says Meno, “I used to be told, before I knew you, that you were always doubting yourself and making others doubt.”
- “. . . I perplex others, not because I am clear, but because I am utterly perplexed myself.”
- “Then he who does not know may still have true notions of that which he does not know.”
- “I, too, speak rather in ignorance; I only conjecture.”
His technique, though, was different, reflecting different conditions and a different culture. Some of these differences include:
- He saw himself as on a mission from God, as the Delphic Oracle professed him he wisest of men.
- He used a didactic techniques of question and answer with people. That is to say, he talked with people as the means of gaining inspiration.
- He was more bound by interpersonal associations, social manners, social viewpoints, and conceptual thinking.
- He put more emphasis on definitions of words as part of his inquiry. In that way, a lot of what he did is a ‘clarification of the words’.
A very significant difference is the way in which he saw knowledge was received. Socrates felt that the soul knew everything because it experienced everything before we were born, before we became human beings. No doubt this reflected the mythology and religion of the time. A conversation in Meno describes this:
Socrates. “But if he did not acquire the knowledge in this life, then he must of learned it at some other time.”
Meno. “Clearly he must.”
Socrates. “Which must have been the time when he was not a man.”
He then goes on to say that we were remembering what we already knew before we became a man. This was what he called recollection or notions. He states some interesting things about his view of recollection and notions:
- “. . . all inquiry and all learning is but recollection.”
- “All this spontaneous recovery of knowledge in him is recollection.”
- “And if there have been always true thoughts in him, both at the time when he was and was not a man, which only need be awakened into knowledge by putting questions to him, his soul must have always possessed this knowledge . . . “
- “Wherefore be of good cheer and try to recollect what you do not know, or rather what you do not remember.”
- “. . . he who does not know may still have true notions of that which he does not know.”
- “. .. our learning is simply recollection.”
- “. . . we must always be born in full possession of knowledge, and always know throughout our life.”
- “. .. having acquired it before birth, we lost it while being born, and later by applying the sense to the things in question we recover that knowledge which we once, formerly, we possessed-then surely we call it ‘learning’ will be the recovery of knowledge, which is our own? And we should be right in calling this recollection?”
In other words, the purpose of inquiry is not to learn “new facts” but, rather, to remember what we forgot from before we became a man, of recollection or “notions”. This recollection is really no different than what I call inspiration. The “notions” is really no different than what I call intuition. This, to me, shows the great inner sense of intuition portrayed in a mythical way. In some sense, he’s saying to follow ones intuition, which seems to come from a mystical source (from deep within or before one was born). In this way, Socrates was not using ‘scientific method’ to find ‘ultimate’ truth. In some respects, because he said that we are trying to recollect from before we were born he was actually looking for a ‘personal truth’ which is no different that what I call relevance.
He goes on to say that the purpose of philosophy is not just to find knowledge and information but to live a good life. As Socrates says:
- “. . . that daily discourse about virtue, and of those things about which you hear me examining myself, and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living.”
- “. . . that we should set the highest value, no on living but on living well.”
This shows that Socrates was not about learning ‘facts’ and ‘ultimate’ truths, such as what we now call ‘scientific truths’. As Socrates states: “. . . I have nothing to do with physical speculations.” To put it another way, recollection (or what I call inspiration) is nothing but learning how to live well.
He also put emphasis on the importance of doubting. Socrates says, “. . . he had fallen into perplexity under the idea that he did not know, and had desired to know.” He called this doubting the “torpedo’s touch“, from the torpedo electric ray which can shock you as a form of defense. This “torpedo’s touch” appears to be similar to what I called the ‘gaze’. It is the ‘looking into’, the tendency and need to inquire.
Socrates also put emphasis on the difference between “knowledge” and “true opinion”. Interestingly, he says that “There are not many things I profess to know, but this (the difference between “knowledge” and “true opinion”) is one of them.” The difference between these is significant. He makes a comparison with them with a “possession that is at liberty (meaning something that can leave on its own accord)” and, therefore, will “walks off like a runaway slave”. He goes on to say:
“. . . while they are with us they are beautiful and fruitful, but they run away out of the human soul, and do not remain long, and therefore they are not of much value until they are fastened by the tie of the cause; and this fastening of the, friend Meno, is recollection . . . “
And he goes on:
“But when they are bound, in the first place, they have the nature of knowledge; and, in the second place, they are abiding. And this is why knowledge is more honorable and excellent than true opinion, because it is fastened by a chain.”
In other words, ‘true opinion’ is what I call intuition, which is a sense of something. By itself it remains a ‘sense’ only. It is not ‘grasped’, or as Socrates says, it is not “bound by a chain”. When the intuition gains authority, making it more than a sense, it becomes what he calls ‘knowledge’. This ‘knowledge’ is what I call the ‘authority of precedence’. In the diagram I showed intuition as if above us, like the air which comes and goes at will . . . it is not ‘grasped’ or “bound by a chain”. I showed the ‘authority of precedence’ as the ground as we ‘rest’ on this . . . it is “bound by a chain”.
Socrates goes on to say:
“. . . true opinion leading the way perfects action quite as well as knowledge.”
This is like saying that intuition is the best guide not “knowing facts and figures”, as is claimed nowadays. Socrates then goes on to say that people cannot teach ‘true opinion’, because “. . . virtue was not grounded on knowledge.” Later he says:
“. . . virtue is neither natural or acquired, but an instinct given by the gods to the virtuous. Nor is the instinct accompanied by reason.”
Or: “. . . virtue comes to the virtuous by divine dispensation.”
Or: “. . . true opinion, which is in politics what divination is in religion; for diviners and also prophets say many things truly, but they know not what they say.”
Or: “. . . the say many grand thing, not knowing what they say.”
These state the almost miraculous and mystical qualities found in intuition.
So we see that it appears that Socrates (and myself) are not after “facts” but things that lead to a better and virtuous life by following intuition and inspiration.
Intuition and inspiration tends to be degraded by a natural process. This is the tendency to emphasize, and overvalue, the words and concepts created by intuition or inspiration. Its a natural tendency to “solidify” thought after it appears. In this way, we are able to ‘grasp’ it. Because of this, this tendency reflects a ‘grasping’ attitude. But, as I said above, intuition is a non-grasping attitude. As a result, the natural tendency to “solidify” thought brings out an attitude (of ‘grasping’) that ends up undermining and destroys intuition and inspiration. So we see a pattern:
- Non-grasping attitude – allows intuition and inspiration to happen
- Intuition and inspiration – reflective of a non-grasping attitude
- Words and concepts – the product of inspiration
- “Solidify” words and concepts – reflective of a grasping attitude
- Grasping attitude – conflicts with the non-grasping attitude that creates intuition and inspiration and undermines them, preventing them from appearing
This pattern shows a basic dilemma created by the ‘grasping’ attitude in regard to intuition and inspiration. Its a conflict of two opposing qualities. Because of this, intuition and inspiration tends to entail a continual going from non-grasping attitude to grasping attitude to non-grasping attitude, etc. Its a continual cycle that can be called the ‘non-grasping, grasping cycle’. Going from one extreme to another can be difficult and almost impossible at times . . . it can stop you in your tracks. My experience, though, is that we tend to get ‘stuck’ trying to regain the non-grasping attitude. This is because the non-grasping attitude is very hard to get going . . . a person can’t just will it into existence usually. This is because the non-grasping attitude reflects intuition which is something that comes from deep within a person. The problem is that we are not ‘in control’ of the deeper aspects of our self. Because of this, we cannot will it to do what we want . . . we cannot will intuition to take place. The result is that we tend to get ‘stuck’ here, trying to make intuition happen. Typically, we must ‘pause’ and take an inward look at our selves and ‘seek’ the intuition to get the inspiration process going again. This, though, can take a long time and some great effort. Often, once the grasping attitude appears its so strong that we completely lose sense of the non-grasping attitude making intuition even harder to find. This is all part of the dilemma’s the ‘non-grasping, grasping cycle’ create.
But because its so easy to get ‘stuck’ in the grasping attitude the natural tendency is to stay there . . . and this is often what happens. This creates a general tendency to “solidify” thought, making it concrete and ‘ultimate’. Not only that, the non-grasping attitude, by its nature, creates a sense of uncertainty and imbalance that we all struggle with, some more than others. As a result of this struggle it makes it more imperative to “solidify” to give the illusion of certainty and balance. In other words, it shows that there is a natural tendency to take the ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’ over the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’. That is to say, there is a tendency to take the ‘solid’ over the ‘fluid’ showing that the more ‘fluid’ stance is harder.
This tendency of taking the ‘solid’ over the ‘fluid’ has defined philosophy since Socrates. Interestingly, Socrates does not appear to be the one who started this tendency to be ‘solid’. This seems to of began with the work of his followers who began by making all his thought ‘solid’, as if this ideas were written in stone. In other words, they took his words-as-fact. Later, his thought would even become more ‘solid’ by being ‘systemized’ and put into a general system in relation to others. This made it so that quoting Socrates is like quoting the Bible . . . a statement of ‘solidity’. Basically, instead of learning his recollection or inspiration style - Socratic “recollection philosophy” – they focused on what he said, making them almost doctrine. This was done by Plato and Aristotle (and everyone since).
It shows a basic process in philosophy. Socrates began the process by emulating recollection or inspiration. Plato, then, tended to emphasize the words and concepts of Socrates . . . he took the words-as-fact making them solid. In so doing, he had forgot that Socrates was seeking inspiration first and foremost. Aristotle then systemized the words and concepts into a defined organized format . . . its now like a doctrine. This shows a revealing pattern :
- Socrates – Recollection (Inspiration).
- Plato – Taking the words-as-fact . . . solidifying.
- Aristotle – The systemizing of the words.
This progression tends to replicate the ‘non-grasping, grasping cycle’ even to the point of getting ‘stuck’ as well (at systemizing). In some respects, its a social version of the ‘non-grasping, grasping cycle’ and follows similar tendencies. What this tends to show is a general ‘dissolution of inspiration’ following Socrates. This dissolution appears to of followed these phases:
- As a guide. Thought and concepts are used as a guide to help a person and, therefore, is variable and can change.
- As a solid. It is taken more seriously. There is a tendency to not want to change it. Its not necessarily meant to help a person.
- As a system. It is unchangeable. At this stage, it often may actually be of no help at all in life. Even the technique that Socrates used would be “systemized” to the Socratic Method.
This tendency to ‘solidify’ made us forget the inspiration of Socrates (the ‘dissolution of inspiration’) creating what can be described as a ‘system-based philosophy’. This type of philosophy, of course, has become so dominant that it defines philosophy, science, and knowledge in Western society. In general, it has downplayed and forgot inspiration as a whole. In fact, inspiration became so degraded that it became forgotten. Instead, philosophy would become systemized into things like:
- Specific types of philosophies. This includes things such as Hegelism, Kantism, existentialism, etc.
- Specific methods of thinking. A good example is the ‘scientific method‘.
- A tendency to seek the ‘ultimate’ or ‘universal’ truth. This type of truth is really nothing but systemized knowledge taken to the extreme, such as seen in science.
In effect, ‘system-based philosophy’ was the death of Socratic “recollection philosophy” and the creation of a whole new thing: ‘systemized philosophy’. This would flower into the ultra-rigid scientific type of thinking. With the arrival of ‘systemized philosophy’ the original spirit of inspiration-based Socratic philosophy was forgotten. Basically, the concrete quality of words and concepts overpowered the active variable inquiry of a person. The ultra-rigid viewpoint of the ‘scientific method’, especially, ended up destroying the ability and means of inspiration. In other words, it shows that systemizing destroys inspiration.
INSPIRATION, THE SELF, AND BELIEF – ODIN AND SOCRATES
The Norse God Odin has demonstrated similar aspects of what I have spoken of above about inspiration. It goes deeper than Socrates, though. This is best demonstrated in the ‘Havamal’ where it is stated:
I know that I hung
on a windy tree
nine whole nights,
wounded by a spear
and given to Odinn,
myself to myself,
on the tree
of which no one knows
from whose roots it rises.
They did not delight me with bread
or drinking horn.
I peered down, searching.
I took up the runes,
shouting I took them up,
I fell back from there.
Here we see that inspiration has become a death, a loss of self. This is really a continuation of ‘being stupid’ which is, in more extreme cases, a losing of ones self. This is because, in ‘being stupid’, our self is not ‘all there’ or ‘absent’. This reveals that inspiration passes through phases, going from shallow to deep:
- The “I don’t know”. This is the looking out into the world with this as the sense making this the ‘sense phase’.
- Of ‘being stupid’. This could be described as the ‘philosophical phase’.
- A loss of self. One can say that, at this point, it has become the ‘mystical phase’.
One could say that, with the loss of self, one has truly immersed themselves in the “I don’t know” . . . it has gone to its extreme. In other words, the “I don’t know” is a prelude to loss of self, or a death. It leads up to it and, in a way, is becomes it.
Interestingly, even Socrates makes a reference to this association of death with inspiration. In ‘Phaedo’ he says:
- “. . . that this very thing is the philosophers occupation, a freeing or separation from the body.”
- “. . . . philosophers practice dying.”
Interestingly, in the condition of losing ones self one finds a tendency to rely on intuition as a guide. Intuition has this quality of looking at a great void with the knowledge that anything can appear. As a result, one tends to turn to intuition . . . the unknown . . . with the loss of self. It becomes what we rely on and use as our guide. The end result of losing ones self is the discovery of an authority portrayed in a ‘new self’, ‘new reality’, or something similar. It is something ‘new’ that has ‘great power’ (authority) over us. As a result, inspiration becomes a seeking of intuition, in the attitude of the “I don’t know”, in order to find authority. Or, rather, inspiration is to build or alter authority . . . to make it grow.
This association with authority shows a very significant element with inspiration and loss of self: the need for belief. In many ways, this shows the nature of belief, that it is the deepest of all authorities. One could describe belief as a pre-authority. That is to say, belief, as I use it here, is authority before it has been “proven”. In this way, belief can be described as the ‘passion’ of authority, the emotion that authority is based on. As a result, authority can be described as this belief, the ‘passion’ of authority, combined with some ‘thing’ or ‘image’. In other words, authority is when belief has become united with some thing. Often, in the loss of self, these new authorities entail some form of awareness, such as a sense of self, a sense of reality, an awareness of life, etc. They are typically deep-rooted and are wordless phenomena tending to create a belief without words. Many people tend to “miss” this form of authority because they can only relate to belief with words. As a result, a person must learn how to have a ‘wordless belief’.
As a result of this, the loss of self becomes a seeking, really, of this ‘passion’ of authority, before it has been united with any thing. Once the ‘passion’ of authority is found, it tends to become attached to some thing, creating authority. In this way, the loss of self creates a continual rediscovery of the creation of authority, what can be described as the ‘re-enactment of the creation of authority’:
- The loss of self.
- The ‘passion’ of authority (belief) is found and experienced.
- The ‘passion’ is united to some thing (creating authority).
- A new authority is created.
This rediscovery of authority creates a ‘profoundness’ in belief. It gives belief, and authority, a vivaciousness, power, and a life. In many ways, without ‘re-enacting the creation of authority’ there is a tendency for authority to become ‘dead’, mundane, boring, and seeming insignificant. It becomes just ‘a thing’ like a rock or a chair.
Elsewhere it is written in the ‘Havamal’ which shows this vivaciousness, power, life, and growth of self:
Then I started to sprout
and grow sagacious
and thrive and prosper;
one word from another
sought me out a word,
one deed from another
sought me out a deed.
So we see that the loss of self leads to what can be described as a ‘living authority’. In this way, authority becomes more than authority, but something “living”, a “reality”. In actuality, it is this ‘living authority’ that inspiration seeks. I do not seek ‘knowledge’, I do not seek ‘information’, I do not seek ‘learning’. The purpose of it all, really, is the seeking of an authority that is “alive”.
But, as I said above, the creation of authority must be re-enacted to continue to be made “alive”. This shows a continual need to rediscover authority which is why this is an ongoing and endless process, of continual inquiry, continual searching. As part of this process is the need to be in the “I don’t know”, as a prelude to a loss of self, in order to find it. As a result, my perceiving of the world consists of qualities such as:
- A perceiving of the world.
- A continual discovery or, rather, rediscovery of the authority in life.
- It is ongoing and endless, creating a very active and “alive” perceiving.
- It requires much of my self, of listening to intuition and loss of self, even a form of a death.
- Because of this, my perceiving of the world also becomes a perceiving of my self and, accordingly, of my-self-in-the-world.
This rediscovery of ‘authority’ creates a new self that is, in a sense, born. This shows that there is a close relationship between authority and the self. In other words, without authority there is no self. The continual rediscovery of authority becomes a continual rediscovery of self. This, basically, is a growing.
This is rather interesting in that a person must ‘have no self’ to ‘find the self’ showing that the self is not a defined and definite thing but a meandering thing, going from one extreme to the other and ranging from definite to indefinite, absent to existing. In this sense, the self is not really a ‘thing’ but more of a ‘process’ and this ‘process’, really, is inspiration.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen