Thoughts on inequality as the natural order of society

In a recent conversation I said something interesting:

I was mentioning how I was noticing an increase in the extremes of society.  I speak primarily of how much people make.  Just where I live I know guys in their 40’s and 50’s who are making $13.00 an hour, which is practically a non-survivable wage.  Elsewhere where I live I am seeing people with million dollar homes, and people driving Ferrari’s, and so on.  In fact, some of the display of wealth I am now seeing is absolutely disgusting.  I said “here we are in what is supposed to be the most wealthiest country in the world, which is supposed to be for the people, and I’m seeing a horrible inequality in the population”.  Of course, this observation is not new.  What was different was what I said about it.

Normally, people display contempt or a disgust at it or they try to offer some “solution”, as if its “not supposed to happen”.  But I said that, according to my observation of history and all that, it seems that a spectrum of inequality in society, from rich to poor, is the natural order of society and that there is nothing you can do about it.  In other words, there is always going to be an inequality between people no matter what you do.

THE QUESTION OF NEED

This tendency to inequality suggests that the inequality is something like a manifestation of a “tension” in society.  The tension seems to describe a conflict of need versus availability.   More specifically, it is the need or want of something, within a body of people, but in which there is not enough to satisfy everyone.  For example, there are only 10 cars at the auto dealer but 30 people want them.  This creates a naturally appearing inequality . . . there will be those that “have” and those that “have not”.  There’s not much you can do about it.  This creates a perpetual “tension” that exists in society and which never goes away.

In this materialistic society people tend to think need is all about wealth or materialistic things but it seems that the need tends to be either one of two things or a mixture of them:

  1. Material – what money can buy.
  2. Social – status, prestige, and acceptance.

I think that many people underestimate the power of the social form of need.  In many cases I’ve observed I’ve found that people don’t just want material things for the sake of having them but for the social significance they stand for.  In this way, a lot of “materialism” is really a form of social needIn this way, my observation is that most of the “tension”, caused by inequality, is social in origin . . . people want what can be described as “social wealth”, which basically means that they want to be viewed highly in the society.  In most societies, most of the time, this is what everyone is clamoring for.

It seems, to me, that “social wealth” has caused a lot of misery in the world.  In fact, I would even venture to say that most of the misery caused by inequality in the world originates from the striving for “social wealth”, not by actual poverty or starvation or being destitute.  What’s interesting, and tragic, about this, is that “social wealth” is not a matter of life or death and is not as important as it seems.  That is to say, a person can live without “social wealth” and live happy content lives (in fact, most people do in the world).

Because “social wealth” is not as important as it seems, and causes such misery, it reveals a lot about the power of need.  Its not that people actually need it but its the power of need that causes the misery.  In other words, its the power of need over us that is the issue.

THE POWER OF NEED AND ITS DISGUISING BY CIVILIZATION

In many societies peoples needs are basically satisfied.  They are not starving, are taken care of, and there is often not a lot  of clamoring over “social wealth” but, yet, there will be an inequality and people will be in misery.  To be precise, my observation is that people will find something to need (which is often a form of “social wealth”) and, as a result, an inequality will all-of-a-sudden appear.  The result:  an undue and unnecessary misery will appear.  In short, the power of need is often what causes inequality and its misery, not actual need.

This power of need, in my opinion, is a result of how all living creatures are “wired”, so to speak.  When you go out into the forest, for example, and see all the animals scurrying around, bugs flying, etc. what do you think they are doing?  Are they just leisurely roaming around, taking a tour of the forest?  No, they are seeking for food.  All living things are “wired”, so to speak, to seek something and that this is pretty much a constant force in life. 

Humanity is no different.  But the illusion, and conditions, of civilization make it appear as if we do not need to continually seek something.  In a way, civilization makes us lose sight of, and forget, that we are living creatures too and are “wired” to perpetually seek things and are, accordingly, in continuous need.  As a result, on one hand, we need to seek and, on the other hand, we are wrapped up in the illusion of civilization . . . and one had doesn’t know what the other hand is doing.  As a result, this continual need appears “out of place” or “doesn’t fit” from the civilization point of view.  In actuality, the power of need, which is the perpetual need to seek, is a very big part of life and, in actuality, dominates life.

Because of civilization, it seems, to me, that humanity has lost its “seeking origins”.  That is to say, civilization has made us lose touch with what we are actually seeking.  It has detached us from the need to seek for food, for shelter, for the support of a tribe, for a mate, etc. that is so prominently displayed in older societies.  What they seek is “basic”.  There’s nothing dramatic about it.  There’s no fancy mansions, no Ferrari’s, no great social power, etc.  Civilization has made us forget that what we are needing and seeking is “basic”.  Its as if civilization has detached us from this sense of the “basic” and, instead, given us these fancy and grand civilization-based images and wants.  In this way, we could probably say that the nature of civilization has caused much of the misery of inequality by making us not want what is “basic” but other grander things. 

ATTEMPTS AND TRYING TO SOLVE INEQUALITY

Interestingly, there have been numerous attempts to try to solve the problem that inequality creates.  So far, nothing has worked.  As I said above, I believe that this is because it cannot be solved as humanity is always in need and will always be in need.

Interestingly, much of these attempts at a solution, in Western society, are Christian in origin and are rooted in Christian mentality and belief.  In fact, the attempt at trying to solve the problems of this inequality seems to be a Christian quality as very few other societies have tried to solve it.  This is not all that surprising as Christianity began during a time when there was conflict between the Roman Empire and smaller cultures.  As a result, it tried to be an “answer” to problems between people, emphasizing many Christian traits, such as:

  • An emphasis on all the people.
  • Peace and love.
  • Charity or giving things to people.
  • Organization.  Because of the very organized nature of the Catholic Church in Western society, its not surprising that the idea of an organized system to solve the problem were viewed as a solution.  Examples include democracy and communism.

Some of the attempts at solving inequality, based on Christian mentality, include:

  • Democracy
  • Organized charity
  • Capitalism
  • Communism
  • Socialism
  • The idea of “equality”
  • Many of the ideals of America

None of these have worked all that much.  About all that they have done is to put a band-aid on the problem.  It may work for a time, but the inequality always ends up appearing again.

In some ways, they may have even contributed to the problem or created other problems.  Charity, for example, makes people dependent on it . . . “equality” creates an unfair distribution of things . . . organized systems, such as communism, only create a controlling system, etc.  About all that works, it seems, is a case-by-case daily helping of people who have problems.  So far, no large scale effort or system has worked or been effective.

MISTAKING SOLUTIONS WITH TRANSITORY CONDITIONS

Its easy to confuse what appears as a “solution” with transitory conditions that exist at the time.  In other words, when an idea of a “solution” appears, which happens to coincide with a condition that lowers inequality, people often mistake the two and believe that the lowering of inequality is because of the “solution”.  For example, after WWII, the U.S. went into an economic boom.  Many people have claimed that it is a result of “democracy and capitalism”.  But it seems, to me, that it was a war that caused this economic boom.  In this way, the post WWII economic boom is more a result of the conditions of war than on the American political/economic system.  As time went on the inequality reappeared . . . the condition caused by the war was wearing off.

THE IMPORTANCE OF “CLASS MENTALITY”

It seems that one of the ways people deal with the inequality is by developing what can be called a “class mentality”.  This is an acceptance of the conditions that one lives in, regardless of what it is.  There develops a sense of “us”, a sense of being part of group or a “class”.  What this sense does is make it so that people accept or deal with the conditions they are in.  In this way, it makes it so that people live with, and are content, with what they have.  In addition, they have the support, security, and identity, of that group.

ILLUSIONARY POVERTY CAUSED BY COMPARISON

Contrary to popular belief many people, who would be considered “poor”, are often the happiest of people.  This is seen in primitive societies, for example.  In other words, I find that being “poor” is not necessarily as bad as it seems . . . many people can be considered “poor” who are happy.  But people can become unnecessarily miserable, and feel bad, because of various conditions, such as:

  • The idea that everyone should “be the same” in a society.  In a sense, the idea of a “classless society” presupposes some people to become miserable particularly when they see other people who are benefiting.
  • The association with other classes.  Seeing the conditions of other people, who may be in better or worse situation than one is in, can make one feel bad.
  • The fall of “class mentality”.  The fall of being part of a specific group makes one lose the security and belonging of that group.  As a result, one feels miserable.  In this case, one could say that the misery caused by the inequality is not really in being “poor” but that there is a fall in the “class mentality”.
  • The demonstration of wealth.  Seeing displays of wealth can make one feel :”poor” and bad.
  • The appeal of consumer products.  Many consumer products make one want them and the inability to have them makes one feel bad.  Consumerism, in many ways, have probably contributed a lot to people feeling “poor” and miserable as a result.
  • The need to support a family.  Having to support a family causes great burden on a person and can make one feel miserable and “poor”.  A family puts great stress on a person to have to follow societies norms and ways.  As a result, ones “standing in society” plays a great role.  I’ve always thought the responsibility of a family is responsible for causing a lot of a sense of being “poor” and is responsible for a lot of unnecessary misery.

In these cases, we see that the misery of being “poor” is not necessarily in being “poor” but is when a person stands next to someone else who has more or see’s something they want and can’t have.  This makes one look and feel “poor” and miserable, even though one may not be.   In this way, we could speak of several forms of being “poor”:

  • Material poverty.  This is “actual poverty”, when one is in actually in need.
  • Poverty of comparison.  This is an “illusionary poverty” . . . a person appears “poor” because other people have more or one wants something one can’t have.  In this condition, one can survive well, and be happy, if they really wanted.  Its a matter of how a person responds to the comparison and if one takes it badly.

THE CONTINUAL FLUCTUATIONS OF INEQUALITY IN A SOCIETY

There are many fluctuations in inequality that happens in the society.  For example, there are situations in history where more of the population will be poor or where there may be more rich people.  Its like history fluctuates from one side to the other.  Regardless of this, the inequality is always there but the amount of people in each group fluctuates from time to time.  This gives illusions of “improvement” and “degradations” of the economic condition of society.  Many economists, it seems, will ascribe it to success or failure in various programs or systems.  It seems, to me, that its more the natural ebb and flow of fluctuations of society.  Sometimes, these are instigated by programs or systems that are implemented.  Sometimes, they are not.  Either way, they tend to even out after a while.  This is because, it appears that in normal conditions there is something like an “even distribution” between rich and poor.  This is occasionally upset by new and unusual conditions which instigates an unevenness . . . there may be more poor or more rich.   And when there is more poor or rich people it tends to be transitory and eventually equals out over time.  This more or less means that things like “bad times” are a result of conditions that, over time, will “even out” . . . they don’t last forever.

AFTERTHOUGHT

This automatic fluctuation of inequality, and its automatic balancing, would mean that there is no solution to inequality.  Any attempt at a solution is transitory and balances out over time.  This is because of the power of need in humanity, which endlessly creates need, which leads to inequality.  As I said above, its not uncommon that much of this need is illusionary creating unnecessary misery in the population.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Society | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on how a lot of research I do is to avoid being deceived and to maintain personal integrity in the face of “mass mentality”

Here’s a thought I had:

Many people think that a persons interest in a subject is a result of that person being “interested” in it as the motive.  Interestingly, I have found that a lot of my interest in specific subjects is not a result of being “interested”.  A lot of the subjects I have been interested in are more to ward off being deceived.  In other words, there is a sense, in me, that I am being deceived by people and society.  As a result, it has made me pursue my own personal inquiry into things so that I am not “led on” to believe this or that.  In this way, I have sought out what is important and relevant to me and to not blindly believe in things.

These subjects that have received great influence include:

  • History
  • Society
  • American mentality and character

In all these subjects I maintain a continual inquiry and observation to establish what I feel is going on and to have an idea of what seems to be going on.  I do not want to “blindly agree” with things, what people say, the media says, or even what “educated people” say.  Instead, I want to know from personal inquiry.  The main point is to find what I feel to be correct and what my “gut” tells me is true.  I don’t what to be told what is true but to discover it for myself.

It appears, to me, that this feeling of being deceived is a result of conditions in the U.S. after WWII which have created a sense of “being perpetually deceived”.  These conditions include:

  • The media.  The media, with its overwhelming prevalent presence, throws just about everything at you that is within its grasp.  This includes a multitude of opinions, information, gossip, advertisement, etc.  Its like a continuous ongoing noise that never ends.
  • Education. Schooling, frankly, has a similar effect of media.  Its more specific though, revolving around specific subjects.  Regardless of that, it is just a proliferation and demonstration of this or that opinion, information, etc.  It can go on endlessly.
  • The prevalence of different opinions and point of views.  All my life, I’ve heard of nothing but opinions and points of view.  Every time I turn around there is another opinion or point of view.  Its become a confusing mess.
  • Of the endless bouncing around of what’s “right” and what’s “wrong”.  I find it hard to believe a society that continually changes “right” and “wrong”.  One minute what was “right” is “wrong” and what’s “wrong” is “right”.  I just can’t believe in a place like that . . . it puts great doubt in me.
  • The absence of authority.  The U.S. has done everything in its power to destroy authority.  As a result, this destruction of authority has caused an absence of something to say “this is correct”.  What this is done is to turn everything into an opinion and that’s what everything is, an “opinion” which basically means it has no authority and meaning.  As a result, everything has become “this and that, this and that”, with no meaning and authority to the point that America has become one big society of an endless ongoing “blah, blah, blah”.
  • Various social problems, particularly those that surfaced during the Vietnam War protests.  These problems caused a big conflict in the U.S. about various social issues that are largely unresolved.  Everyone has their point of view that they view as “right”, of course.  In some respects, it has tore the U.S. apart, one group thinking this, another thinking that . . . God only knows what’s right or wrong.

Basically, listening to this society is like a perpetual and endless contradiction in which “everyone is right and no one is right”.  This leads to the logical conclusion:  “I can’t believe anything”.  And I don’t.  Because of this I have had to do my own independent inquiry and come up with my own viewpoints.  Sadly, because it is so ingrained in the society it has forced me to do a solitary and independent inquiry, not depending on or leaning on anything that originates in this society.  Because of this, I have become set apart and removed from this society.  I always say “I have one foot in and one foot out” of this society.

Interestingly, I’ve known about this since the 1990’s but have only realized its significance recently.  The fact is that much of my life has been spent in avoiding being deceived by American society.  Its become clear now, after all these years, that I do not trust American society, what it says, what it produces, or most of its people.  That is something hard for me to say but its the truth.  I believe, though, that it is founded on real-world reality and conditions.  What this means is that American society has forced me to put reliance on myself, not on society, which is normally the case.

Its also become clear that much of the conditions above adds up to a “mass mentality”.  In other words, American society is “mass mentality” in nature.  It follows and moves to whatever the masses say and want.  It does this whether the masses are right or wrong.  In this way, American mentality is like a big lumbering beast that, once it moves in one direction, it all moves in one direction because its so big it can’t stop its movement.  This has always scared me about the American mentality:  it is dictated by the movement of the masses, not by a wisdom.  The absence of wisdom in the American character and society has always worried me and puts doubt in me.

Because the American mentality is a “mass mentality” it means that, to be a part of it, one must have a “mass mentality” point of view.  This means that a person must accept the “mass mentality” as lord and master.  In other words, one gives up ones self to the “mass mentality” and accepts its dictates, whatever it says.  This means a loss of self and ones integrity as a person.  In short, “mass mentality” tends to destroy or undermine “personhood”.  As a result, not only did I do research into things to avoid being deceived but to maintain a personal integrity in the face of “mass mentality”, which is all around me.  In this way, American society has become something of a threat and much of my research is to avoid this threat.  This has always bothered me as its basically saying that a person must defend themselves against the society.  It seems, to me, that society should be helping you but that’s not what it looks like to me.  If I completely followed this society I would become a “mindless nobody that believes whatever its told”.  As much as I hate to say it, that’s what a lot of American look like to me, especially the girls.  To me, it seems sad and I think this is one of the problems of large civilizations.

This defending yourself against society, it seems to me, is commonly seen in large societies.  This is why many people go against society, rebel against it, and need time away from it.  Even the other day I was saying that when people have to “get away” (such as in a vacation) it is a subtle way of saying that the society has become a threat to them.  I said that stuff like this “is often a sign of a society that has become too large”.  I do think the U.S. has become too large and is having the problems of being too large, one of which is the response I have spoken of above.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Dehumanization and alienation, Modern life and society, Stuff involving me, The U.S. and American society | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on aging: “the great truth of life”, everydayness, a dream interpretation, and discovering the “old self”

Here are some thoughts I had:

REFLECTING ON MY LIFE

As I turned 50 years old I thought a lot on my life.  I seem to do this ever time I go into a new decade.  I did this when I turned 30 and 40 as well, for example.  Basically, what I do is reflect on my past life and what I feel about it.  I think of what I’ve done, if I have lived the way I want, if I am on the correct path in life, and so forth.  Typically, my general conclusion seems to be:  “I played the cards that were dealt me”.   To put it another way, “I made do with what I had.”   What this is more or less is saying is that I played along with the conditions that life has given me.  In addition, I tried to play the conditions to my favor the best I could at the time, or at least as much as I was able to, or to the best of my understanding at the time.  Naturally, looking back on things, I can see that there were times I should of done this or that or that I may of done things stupidly.  I feel, though, that this is the normal condition of life.  Everyone plays that part whether they think they do or not.  My life has shown that all we can do is play the conditions that life give us . . . we don’t really have that much control and we never have as much as we think we do.  Life deals the cards and we play it.

As with most people, the conditions of life did not give me anything dramatic.  There wasn’t anything particularly bad and there wasn’t anything particularly good.  It is like an even mixture of everything and nothing was particularly extreme.  In this way, life was an “even temper”, perhaps even monotonous.  Again, I think that this is typical for most people.

In this way, I experienced what most people experience and reacted similarly to how other people reacted.  In other words, my life was not a whole lot of different than other peoples . . . my life has been rather “normal”.

BECOMING “50”

But the age “50” has this particular image or quality to me.  When I turned 50 I thought I would be different than I am now.  I guess I thought I’d be “older” (actually, I feel about 30).  I thought I would be gray haired with a lot of physical impairments, but I’m not that way (though some has appeared but not that much).  All this made me think a lot on what “50” means.

One thing that I said is that “50” means a new phase of my life has begun:  I am approaching old age.  That is to say, youth is waning . . . it is passing by.  Because of this, there is now a sense of something new, a new phase, a new season, and a new world.  It seems, to me, that I am on the threshold of a new condition of life.  I feel, in a way, as if I am walking into a foreign country for the first time not knowing what to expect.  In this way, there is a sense of a change in who and what I am.  “50” means more than a change in ones physical state (that is, getting old) but a change in ones self.

“GETTING OLD”

I seem to think that a big part of “getting old” is a realizing, whether conscious or not, of a number of things, such as:

  • The failure of “thought-created conceptions”.  This refers to the awareness that our ideas, opinions, beliefs, etc. (the “thought-created conceptions”) are really not as important as they seem.  In fact, in many ways, they are an illusion.  We begin to discover, from experience, that what we think is great is not the great thing we thought it was.  In addition, what we thought was “right” is not as right as we thought.  In addition, what we think is going on isn’t as important as it seems.  Because of this, we often lose an interest in the “affairs of the world”.  We find that “having an opinion” isn’t that big of a deal either.  All in all, all these conceptions we have of the world, how it works, what’s right, and such, actually slowly fade in importance.
  • The failure of experiences.  We find that things, such as having fun and seeking experiences, is not as important as we thought.  There is generally a lessening of a desire to seek experiences and doing things.  In this way, there is a tendency to just “want to sit” or do simple things, like walking or gardening.  All the fun, experiences, and “doing stuff” we craved in our youth isn’t that important anymore.

What these reflect, in my opinion, is a growing sense of a “constant” in life that appears in “old age”.   Because of this, something like a new awareness appears, what I jokingly called “the great truth of life”.  This is the awareness of the fact that life is actually “mundane” and “everyday”, with a great “sameness”, and that this is the base and foundation of life.  Everything else is actually minor or insignificant or “just another thing”.  In fact, one could say that it becomes apparent as one gets older that a lot of life is actually nothing but”fluff” and, because of this, it is often illusionary to the point of being empty and meaningless.  In some respects, one could say that in youth we are deceived by all this “fluff” and that the discovery of this deception is, in a way, a trait of “old age”. 

“THE GREAT TRUTH OF LIFE”

“The great truth of life” creates a sense of a “continuous everydayness” in life.  This sense, naturally, is not all that glamorous and is full of “sameness”, which makes “old age” seem “draby” and “dull” to many people, especially the young.  It also makes it hard for older people to accept old age.  In fact, “the great truth of life” is seldom overtly recognized, it seems to me.  For most people it remains an unconscious sense that remains unconscious.  Many people, though, will refer to it from time to time.  They’ll say things like “I’ve found it really doesn’t matter what you think is going on”, or “Its best to not get too involved in things”, or “You go out and play soccer, I’ll just sit and watch”, and so on.  It reveals a “movement to sameness”, deep down, but its not overtly acknowledged.

Another common form of the awareness of “continuous everydayness” is in the statement that they are “tired”.  In many ways, this feeling of being “tired” is more like saying “all those things I took so much stock in during my youth aren’t that interesting to me anymore . . . but I won’t admit that to myself”.  In this way, a part of them wants to believe in the qualities of youth but another part of them has moved away from it.  This creates something like a tug-of-war in their mind and eventually a sense of being “tired”.  Another way to express this, perhaps, is that they are “tired of trying to be young”.

The awareness of “the great truth of life” also causes a great reorientation of ones perspective, stance, attitude, motives, and such toward life.  As a result, a person tends to look at life more differently.  This makes a person interpret things differently, see things differently, remember things differently, and have different priorities.  This can make people in “old age” seem weird, bizarre, out-of-touch, and so on.  To the young, this may make the older people seem to not be “with it”, unreliable, or even stupid.  My own experience is that many older people are usually “with it” but just in a different way, looking at things from a totally different angle.  In fact, I’ve learned, from experience, that you listen to older people and what they have to say . . . they generally reveal more insightful things than the young could ever even imagine.

One effect of this great reorientation to life is that there is a tendency for certain things to take place, such as:

  • Things are remembered differently.  When one gets older a person has seen and experience many things.  As a result, there develops a “monotony” in things and experiences . . . they almost blur together.  Because of this, its not uncommon for things to be “overlooked” more easily.  For example, a person may see something and then forget what they saw just moments before!
  • As I said above, ideas and thoughts tend to lose their value.  Because of this, a person is less “thought motivated” than in youth which causes a devaluation in the importance of thought and its effects.  For example, a person may think “I need to go into the other room and get a pencil” but when they go into the room they can’t remember why they went in the room!

Things, such as these, tend to cause what appears as a “memory loss”.  Both of these I have experienced quite a few times even to the point that I wondered if I was suffering memory loss.  I don’t believe I am.  I felt it was a change in reorientation in life as a result of getting older which is common with older people.  I see it all the time in older people who have excellent memories.

THE ILLUSION OF YOUTH

As I said above, one could say that “the great truth of life” refers to the discovery of the illusion of youth.  This is not to say that youth is all an illusion or deception.  Initially, it has great value and worth, such as these things:

  • Youth takes us above life and transcends life.
  • Youth gives us value and meaning in things.
  • Youth places us in the world. 

It is through these things that youth as if “sucks us in”.  This is because “youth is what implants us in the world”.  This is because youth is something that must be “discovered”.  In this way, youth often has a great exciting quality to it.  It becomes an avenue of the discovery of our selves and the discovery of the world.  This is a great event in our life and often tends to have great impact on us as people.  In fact, its often so impactful that people won’t let it go.

But, as time goes on, these qualities of youth fade and lose their importance.  This is because, once we become “implanted in the world”, the qualities of youth lose their value and importance in life.  As a result, youth ends and a new phase begins, which is “old age”.

But there seems a transition phase from youth to “old age”.  This is an age where the youthful qualities are fading but their remembrance still has an impact on us.  As a result, we tend to maintain it and want to keep it going.  Deep down, though, their value is ending.  This “maintaining the qualities of youth when the youthful qualities are fading” is the phase when youth becomes and illusion and a deception.  In this way, we could say that there are three phases from youth to “old age”:

  1. Youth as having meaning to us – it is valuable and necessary, it “implants us in the world”.
  2. Youth as losing importance but its maintained – youth slowly becomes a deception and illusion.
  3. “Old age”, when we start to let go the illusions of youth – we begin to discover “the great truth of life” and that life actually rests on “everydayness”. 

What all this shows is that youth and “the great truth of life” of “old age” are in opposition and contradict one another.  In this way, they are actually incompatible.  Its really no wonder that there is often great conflict between youth and “old age” and why it is often hard for some people to get old.

REACTING TO “THE GREAT TRUTH OF LIFE”

This sense of “the great truth of life” seems to naturally appear in people but it gets many different reactions such as:

  • They deny it, which generally is a denial of aging, and they often have great problems as a result.
  • They fight it, generally by trying to stay young or by being “active”.
  • They ignore it, and will often refer to it, but they don’t get to the point that they are really aware of it.
  • They become aware of it and follow its lead.

It seem to me that the awareness, acknowledgement, and acceptance of “the great truth of life” is critical in healthy aging and in growing old.  To not accept it makes a person “stuck in the illusion of youth”, unable to move on in life as a person.  This, from my observation, actually puts great stress on a person, makes them age quicker, and turns them into “grumpy old people”.

THE IMPORTANCE OF “THE GREAT TRUTH OF LIFE”

“The great truth of life” is an awareness of the “everydayness” of life.  This is critical in life as “everydayness” is the base of life, the foundation.  Everything is built upon this truth.  All that one does, think, believe, and do is based on “everydayness”.  One could compare it to the earth which is a continuous constant.  Everything else, such as youth, experiences, the “thought-created conceptions”, and such, are all built upon it . . . they are like the tree’s and animals that come and go.  Its almost as if, when we’re young we as if “live” in the area above the earth in the sky with the birds.  As we age we as if slowly “sink” closer to the earth.  We first move away from the birds and become closer to the squirrels and the animals.  And then, in “old age”, we become close to the earth which is the “great constant”.  Another way to look at it is that “the great truth of life” refers to the constant of life.  The youthful qualities refers to the transitory qualities of life.  In this way, life is actually a movement from transitory to constant.

Interestingly, much of the comparison of old age and youth display this contrary quality.  This is reflected in a saying I have often said:

“In youth one learns . . . in old age one unlearns.”

This shows how youth is primarily a learning of things, about the world and about ones self.  We are as if “absorbing” everything in youth.  But, in “old age”, the opposite happens . . . we unlearn things.  In this way, its as if we are abandoning all the unneeded things we’ve learned in our youth.  We forget things, don’t care about things, and so on.  In this way, “old age” is like an “about face” from youth. 

THE DREAM ON MY 50TH BIRTHDAY AND ITS INTERPRETATION

The night after I turned 50 I had an interesting dream:

“I went to an old neglected house.  I was with several other people.  We went in and found it abandoned, a mess, and in shambles.  I went downstairs and saw a mess.  I noticed some thing, a creature of some sort, that seemed to be crawling along the floor.  It scared me.  I noticed that it walked on four legs and that it had huge cloth bandages around its snout and behind its eyes, around its head.  It seemed to be a rhinoceros.  It was as if the horns and ears had been cut off.  I was very frightened and asked one of the person upstairs, who I was with, to hand me my rifle.  As I did this someone’s dog came down and started to sniff the creature.  I felt that if this dog doesn’t do anything it can’t be a dangerous animal.  Eventually, the dog didn’t do anything, so I assumed the creature is not dangerous and went about looking around the basement.  I found myself starting to clean up the place but thought it was weird that I was the only one doing it.”

The next day I reflected on this dream.  I said that the basement is an aspect of myself that is neglected and forgotten.  It refers to “old age” that one neglects and forgets in ones youth (one could say its neglected because “old age” isn’t considered in ones youth).  The rhinoceros seems to come from the “rhino” character which is seen in the comics of Spider Man.  I do not anything about the character but a relative of mine said that the way it was portrayed in one of the superhero movies was incorrect . . . they showed the “rhino” as a mechanical suit worn by a man which, he said, is not the case.  Actually, I do not know if this is true or not and it is this, really, that is the meaning of the rhinoceros:  it refers to something in which I do not know its origins and don’t know anything about it.  In this way, the rhinoceros is really a reference to an “old self” which I know nothing about.  This “old self” was “damaged” and neglected by the ideas of youth (much like the neglected house).  It has been so neglected that it has had significant parts of it removed, such as its horn which, in a way, is what makes the rhinoceros what it is and gives it its frightening quality.  In this way, I said that the rhinoceros, with its horn especially, is a reference to a power that resides in the “old self”.  In other words, there’s a power in old age that is only found in a self that old age creates, the “old self”.  My starting to clean up the basement shows that I have begun to search for my “old self” and its power.  My finding that I’m the only one doing it shows that this is going to be a solitary endeavor.  My initial fear of the creature shows that there is a fear of old age and what it is . . . it scares me, which it does.  The dog sniffing the creature suggests a need to “search” for this “old self”.  In this way, the dream is as if saying:  “There is an aspect of ones self that has been neglected but in which one needs to seek.  It is another self that old ages creates.  It may be frightening at first but have patience and search and seek it out . . . it must be discovered in order to find its power.  If one does not find this power one will suffer a ‘death’ in old age.”  This ‘death’, it seems to me, is a hindering of ones growth and self by perpetually trying to remain in the youthful self.  In many respects, this ‘death’ is “getting old”.

After I said all this I began to speak that a new quest has begun . . . the hunt for the rhinoceros, the “old self”.  I can feel this as something that needs to be search for and found.  In other words, “old age” requires a discovery of a new self that one has within:  the “old self“.  This need to discover a new self, associated with age, isn’t new.  After all, isn’t this what we did when we were young?  When we reach adolescence, in particular, we are seeking to find who we are and what we are.  What we found, at that time, is the “young self”.  Much of our youth is spent in finding this “young self” . . . it takes decades.  It is the success of this hunt in our youth that makes one “live” and find “fulfillment” which is what makes youth so wonderful.  I felt that this is true of old age as well, that there is a time when the “young self” needs to be replaced by a new self.  The problem is that most people tend to think that there is only one self, the “young self”, and that this persists through ones whole life.  As a result, there is no seeking of the “old self”.

I felt that there are some things associated with this question of the “old self”.  This includes thins such as:

  • That “old age” is not a continuation of the “young self”.
  • That “old age” is a discovering of a different self, an “old self”.
  • That the “young self” must die in order for the “old self” to be discovered and live.
  • That the “old self” goes in a different direction, often opposite, of the “young self”.

In other words, it seems to suggest that, in older age, our “youthfulness” is as if shed like an old skin so that a new skin can appear.  If one does not do this then one remains in a “wore out young self”.

And so, on the eve of moving into old age, I can feel that a new quest has begun for me, like the quest for the holy grail, a seeking of life, a new life, and in a new way.  Interestingly, the way in which youth and “old age” is opposed to each other may be why its so important to discover the “old self”.  Its like a “new way” or “new person” that is oriented to a new condition and reality of life.  Its like a new phase, a new direction, which requires an abandoning of the way one was.

I seem to feel that if I do not find the rhinoceros, or the “old self”, I will slowly become an old bent over man who feels alienated and detached from life, as if life has left me by.  I will age and my body will not work as well.  I will become grumpier and angrier as I get old.  In other words, I seem to think that the discovery of the “old self” is critical for a persons health, both physically and mentally. 

INITIAL THOUGHTS ON THE QUALITIES OF THE “OLD SELF”

I do not know what the “old self” is yet (as I’m not that old) but I seem to see some qualities, such as:

An awareness of ones limitations

In youth one is discovering and finding what they can do, and we always find that we can do things we didn’t know we can do.  In this way, youth often has a quality of a “surprise” of our abilities.  In old age, this is often not the case.  Instead, we have a growing awareness (or should be) of our limitations and must modify our lives to fit it.  For example, we become aware of our physical endurance, what type of stress we can endure, what we are not good at, etc.  As a result, in old age we change our lives around our limitations.  The more we do this, the better our life will be.  In this way, we could say that “in youth we discover our capabilities . . . in old age we live around our limitations”.

A “regression”

I seem to think that an older person should not seek “youth”, which is commonly done.  Instead, a person should try to  become more childlike.  This makes a point that there is a difference between youth and being childlike.

“Youth”, to me, is associated with things like:

  • Sexuality.  To me, there is a close association between “youth” and sexuality.
  • A strong sense of being-in-the-world.  A big part of the power of “youth” is in this placement of ones self in the world, actively participating in the affairs of the world, and being a part of it.

These qualities give “youth” its “oomph” and power, making it very influential in our lives.

Childlike qualities, though, do not reflect these.  One could say that it predates them.  In this way, “youth” is definitely not the same as being childlike.  To be childlike is really a reference to the “spirit of innocence” a person had when they were a child of 7 or thereabouts.  It does not mean becoming like a child or acting like a child.

The power of being childlike is that it has a “spirit of innocence” which has, within it, an “inner life”.  This “inner life” hits deep into ones self, and in ones past.  Its a source of life that lives with us all our life and is always there.  It seems that, as the power of youth fades in old age, its life fades.  If a person relies on the life found in youth, which is dying in old age, one also dies within . . . and one really grows old.  The “spirit of innocence”, on the other hand, has been within us all our life, even though we may of forgotten it, and hits deep within us.  As a result, one of the best sources of life, in old age, originates from this “spirit of innocence” that is found in being childlike.

I would say that most of the happier older people I see have this childlike “spirit of innocence” quality.  Many even have a quality of being “children” though they do not act like it.  It seems to have an invigorating, enlivening, and stimulating quality.  Because of this, it seems that it would be good to develop this quality.

Finding joy in “sameness”

It seems, to me, that a lot of “old age” is associated with “sameness”, as I said above.  Because of this, finding a joy in this “sameness” is critical for a joy in old age.  Many older people “find themselves in sameness” and remain as if disoriented in it.  Other people will try to continue the activity of youth (Interestingly, many people have this image of retirement as a continuation of the years of youth . . . they will fish, golf, travel, etc.  In short, they think they will be active like in youth).  But finding a joy in “sameness” is much harder, perhaps one of the harder aspects of old age.  My observation, though, is that people who are more content in “sameness” and “don’t need to do this or that” tend to be happier and more fulfilled in old age.

As I was reflecting on the themes of this article I was surprised that I had referred to some of these themes before, in previous articles, such as:

“Revelation of an Old Man”

Thoughts on memory loss – the “relaxed memory”


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Advice, Dreams and their interpretation, Life in general, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Stuff involving me | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the “era of the dissolution of knowledge” – revealing the importance and loss of worth in knowledge and the need for “human relevance”, with remarks about belief

Here’s a thought I had:

It seems, to me, that we are in what I have been calling the “era of the dissolution of knowledge”.  I’m finding that knowledge means almost nothing anymore.  Its as if knowledge has lost its “oomph”.   It seems that knowledge is becoming more and more “dissolved”, “diluted”, or in a disarray.  Its got to the point that any knowledge, really, is just another “statement said”, “another opinion”, “another fact”, etc. to add to an already too large collection.  To me, its as if everything has become nothing but an endless “babble”, a continuous statement of facts, opinions, information, etc. that has no real value and which eventually leads nowhere except the illusion that we “know” more.

Because of this dissolution, I’m finding it harder and harder to find someone to talk to.  In fact, it was during conversations with people that I began to notice the problem.  When I talk to people I notice a number of attitudes that have appeared particularly recently:

  • That nothing has any real value.
  • That no one listens.
  • That things are not viewed as “sacred” or having any deep meaning.
  • That there’s always another point of view.
  • That everything can be proven wrong.
  • That knowledge is treated as “trivial”.
  • That any “knowing” has become nothing but a game of “who knows the most” . . . the one who remembers the most wins!

Because of these things I’ve almost given up talking to people about things anymore. What’s the point?

I should note that by “knowledge” I mean the combination of these two things:

  1. Information.  This refers to what is known, the “matter” of knowledge.
  2. Worth.  This refers to how this information is taken, the “meaning” of knowledge.

To me, knowledge consists of these two things, not one or the other.  What has happened recently is that there has developed a great over emphasis on information (the “matter” of knowledge) and a devaluation or absence of worth (the “meaning” of knowledge).    But to truly be a “knowledge”, and have any value, any knowledge must have both.  This is because they both work together and support each other.  The way in which they compliment each other can be stated this way:  worth is the real value of knowledge but it needs information as a means for that worth.  This means that by destroying worth we destroy knowledge, literally, and turn it into “matter” – information – which has no real value.  Once knowledge becomes information it becomes nothing but “this or that, blah, blah, blah”.  This, it seems to me, is what is happening today.

The dilemma, then, is that we are losing worth in knowledge, not information.  Knowledge, in general, is becoming nothing but a mess of endless information and facts.  In some respects, never have we had so much information but, at the same time, never has information been so worthless.

Some of the causes of the growing worthlessness of knowledge include:

  • Lack of unity . . there are too many points of view.  Everywhere you turn there is some new point of view, opinion, or what have you.  This causes a lack of unity, consistent belief, and fosters doubt, confusion, and uncertainty.   What this reveals is that in order for knowledge to have worth there must be consistencyYou can’t have continuous contrary, new, and conflicting information.
  • There is no authority.  Recently, we have lost our religion, culture, social structure and other forms of authority.  This has made a dramatic hit on knowledge.  The fact is the worth of knowledge originates with authority . . . when there is no authority, there is no worth.  Therefore, in these times of continuous undermining of authority, the worth of knowledge is also undermined.
  • There is often no real care or concern about the “meaning” of knowledge . . . its looked at superficially.  I’ve noticed a complete absence of this idea of a “deeper meaning” in things recently.  Knowledge has become “mundane” without any special revelation or meaning.
  • Knowledge is used only as a means to an end.  A common “end” that is seen nowadays is that knowledge is used as a way to get a job, and hold it.  Without the influence of a job there would probably be no real interest in knowledge at all by most people!  Other “ends” include social status, intellectual pride, and such.
  • There is a lack of “humility”.  One could say that the humble attitude of a “student”, of someone who doesn’t know, and knows it, has become a rarity.  A “student”, nowadays, is someone without humility.  They are only waiting to hear the information so they can remember it.  Once they do this, they assume that they are now experts as a result.  In this way, there is a lack of an attitude of “actually listening”, of sitting oneself down “as a student” and listening.  Everybody is too much of an expert to do this (remember that, nowadays, people have seen in a documentary, read it in a book, taken a class on it, heard about it, or whatever).
  • Its too accessible . . . you just “read it”.  In fact, you can just “google” it and find any information you want.  Knowledge is now something that is just read it or heard.  This devalues knowledge.  It also makes it so that people don’t “listen” . . . they can access it any time.
  • Knowledge is a matter of memory . . . you don’t work for it.  Most knowledge, nowadays, is nothing but finding out what someone else said or did.  In this way, knowledge has become a matter of “standing on the shoulders of other people”.  A person doesn’t really do any work to discover it on their own.  I have always believed that “knowledge is better earned than learned”.
  • There has become too much information.  The mere quantity of knowledge that has appeared just in these 50 years has been too much to “digest” . . . its become a blur.  In this way, the excessive quantity of information has had an effect of devaluation of knowledge. 
  • The quest for “scientific truth” has taken the “inner human meaning” out of knowledge over the years.  We must remember that scientific thinking became pitted against religious thinking, particularly beginning in the 1800’s.  The society before that time took a primarily religious form of thinking.  What amazes me is that people tended to forget that the original “religious truth” was never meant to be a “scientific truth”, of explaining things abstractly.  “Religious truth” can be stated as a truth where the things in life are made to have “inner human meaning”.  “Scientific truth”, on the other hand, tended to be a cold, abstract and distant form of meaning which often did not cater to “inner human meaning”.  But, as the 1800’s progressed, and into the 1900’s, this “scientific truth” began to supplant “religious thinking”.  This, it seems to me, was a critical event.  Basically, the moving of knowledge into the cold, abstract, and distant scientific thinking these past 200 years has been instrumental in the devaluation of knowledge . . . it began a pattern of looking at things without “inner human meaning”.  This caused a destruction of the worth in knowledge and the growing prevalence of information.  In fact, one might even be able to say that science began the dissolution of knowledge.

One of the qualities that seems to appear in these things can be described in the words “humanly relevant”.  In other words, this whole problem really revolves around the “human meaning” in knowledge.  Basically, there are now too many things that are detracting, destroying, or undermining the “human relevance” in knowledge.  Really, all the above examples are different forms of the degradation of “human relevance”.

With this, we see this pattern:

  • The worth in knowledge is based in if it is “humanly relevant” or not. 
  • Information is knowledge that is not “humanly relevant”.

The prevalence of the information point of view shows how there is a loss in our “human relevance”.  In this way, it shows that the loss of worth in knowledge is a sign of our growing dehumanization and detachment of “human meaning”.  This loss of “human meaning” has given knowledge a cold almost dead quality.  Personally, I think that quality reflects people nowadays.

Some aspects of this appeared in a recent conversation I had with a guy about 30 who was working on his masters degree.  In this conversation it became clear that I took the “old school” point of view, when knowledge, particularly University-based knowledge, was viewed as having “great meaning”, almost to the point of being sacred.  This point of view, I realized, originates from the period of Christianity, when Christian belief dictated much of the attitudes that surrounded knowledge at the University (which is why its viewed with such “deep meaning”).  He asked me why I dropped out of the University and some of my replies revealed this thinking:

  • I said that I did not want to be an appendage, handmaiden, or marionette to the system.  It became clear to me that this is what the University expected me to be.  In fact, my passing depended on it!  This meant that my conforming to its dictates is what was important, not the meaning in it. 
  • I said that I had to believe in what I learned.  I can’t “learn it to just pass the class”.  I found that difficult to do, almost sacrilegious.  This shows a sense of depth in knowledge, that it had to hit me “deeply”. 

Looking back on it now I could see that I dropped out of the University because it no longer reflected those “old school” Christian-based principles seen in the original Universities.  Interestingly, even when I dropped out (about 25 years ago) I can recall stating that the University has ceased to be a University and it has become what I jokingly called the “trade school a la Grande” . . . people were there only to learn what was required to get a job!  Instead of learning to weld or be a mechanic, as in a trade school, they learn “bigger trades”, such as being a surgeon or a lawyer.  This is way it is a “trade school a la Grande”, because they learn a more involved trade.  It was no longer a “University”.  I can recall making a big point out of this back then.  I can see now that I was actually defining a University in that “old school” way, based in Christian principles reflecting the importance of meaning in what was taught and a meaning that hit deeply into a person.  This sense, evidently, has been lost now.

He, on the other hand, treated knowledge as dead information, a means to an end, and in a cold, abstract, and distant way.  He saw no “inner meaning” in any of it.  He learned it, whether he agreed with it or not, in order to pass the class and get a job.  There was a complete lack of “personal meaning” in any of the knowledge.  In addition, there was a lack of a general “human meaning” in any of the knowledge.  In short, he did not see knowledge in a greater context.  Knowledge was treated almost like money, a means to “buy” something, so to speak.

Its because of things like that it seems that there is a crisis of knowledge nowadays.  Its become nothing but information and without any real value or worth.  It seems that knowledge is going through a great dissolution and breakdown, losing meaning and worth.

In actuality, what this is really referring to is a failure in belief . . . things have become dead information, nothing is really believed.  And so the “dissolution of knowledge” is really a dilemma of belief.

I tend to feel that the reason why belief is so important is that it “implants you in the world”.  It does this in three ways:

  1. It makes the world relevant.
  2. It makes you relevant.
  3. It makes what you do in the world relevant.

In other words, the more a person believes  in something the more you and the world become relevant.  When a person does not have belief there is an absence of relevance and people become “detached” from life.

I should point out that when I say “belief” I do not necessarily mean religious belief . . . it primarily refers to a belief in “something”. Typically, though, the best form of belief tends to be religious-like in orientation.  That is to say, it is a belief that there is “more” to things than we think.  In this way, we could say that there are two forms of belief:

  1. Positive belief – a belief in something that is known and defined.
  2. Negative belief – a belief in something unknown and undefined (that is, that there is something “more” that we don’t know).

To truly have belief a person must display both, in my opinion.  Interestingly, contrary to what is often supposed, many forms of religious belief are actually a form of positive belief, without negative belief.  They tend to believe in a “specified dogma and god” which is completely delineated and defined.  In this way, they are not really a “complete belief” but more of a strict, rigid, and narrow belief system.

The overemphasis on knowledge, such as is common nowadays, tends to enforce a positive belief orientation . . . its only what you know that matters.  This tends to create an orientation that has qualities such as:

  • It tends to be “dead”, rigid, and detached.
  • Its illusionary (that is, knowledge gives the illusion that you have a grasp on things).
  • It has little or no relevance.

These are qualities that are taken when things become nothing but “information”, as I said above.  This suggests that positive belief is comparable to “information” and negative belief is comparable to “worth”.

This is quite significant as it shows that worth is not found in “knowing” something.  In other words, the fact that you “know things” does not automatically make or give them worth.  There must be more.  This means that all this learning, remembering, and such, which goes on so much nowadays, does not necessarily lead to a worth in knowledge.  In other words, learning, by itself, tends to undermine the worth of knowledge, which is exactly what we’re seeing.

Negative knowledge, and its association with positive knowledge, tends to display itself in several interesting ways such as:

  • Discovery – For many people, the “power” of knowledge is not in “knowing” (which, of course, is positive knowledge) but in the “discovery”, so to speak, of something new.  In other words, its not the “having of knowledge” but the condition of “just about to find something new” that is appealing and influential.  In this way negative knowledge is displayed.  This is because, in “just about to find something new” they are looking at the unknown and undefined.
  • Applying – The applying of positive knowledge in ways that are unknown initially also demonstrates the unknown and undefined quality of negative knowledge.  Here, people have to “figure things out” which means that they “don’t know”.

In both of these cases, we see that the “power” of knowledge is not in “knowing” by itself, but in having knowledge to use (positive knowledge – something definable) and having to discover something about it (negative knowledge – not defined).  In this way, we see how these two forms of knowledge actually complement and work with each other.  Truly, it is in associations, such as these, that we see the “power” of knowledge.

Positive knowledge tends to be defined.  That is to say, it has a quality of “localization” . . . it is “this” or “that”.  In other words, positive knowledge tends to cause a “narrowing down” in perspective. For example, when you look in the sky and see the clouds you cease to see the clouds and, instead, see cumulus clouds.  It takes it out of the entirety and narrows it down to, usually, a word or concept.

Negative knowledge, on the other hand, tends to be more general.  It see’s things in the respect of the greater context of things.  In other words, negative knowledge tends to be holistic.  The sense that “there is something more” makes one look “beyond what is obviously there”.  This requires the deeper aspects of ones self to do, in my opinion.  In this way, the negative knowledge orientation as if forces one to “pull out deeper aspects of ones self”, often revealing aspects of ones self that a person didn’t even know they had.  In addition, being more holistic this orientation tends to place ones self in the greater context of the world.  In so doing, it places one in-the-world as a reality (which is lacking in the positive knowledge orientation).  With these qualities its no wonder that the negative knowledge orientation contains worth, which causes relevance, which causes meaning.

People who take the more “information” orientation of positive knowledge tend to lack these qualities . . . not only does knowledge become “dead information” but they, in a sense, become dead inside and in relation to the world.  Since this orientation is so prevalent nowadays it has turned knowledge into something “dead”.  This quality of knowledge being “dead”, as well as the people who learn it, has caused a breakdown in the worth, meaning, and relevance of knowledge which is the “dissolution of knowledge” that I am speaking of.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Dehumanization and alienation, Education and learning, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Religion and religious stuff, Science and technology | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on “chemical bias” – the problem of the chemical interpretation of cellular activity and life in general

Here’s a thought I had:

I have always questioned DNA and other aspects of cellular activity.   I have a hard time believing that cellular activity, and life in general, is all based on chemicals and chemical reactions.  I have always felt that there is more to cellular activity than chemistry and DNA.

I tend to feel that there is a bias toward a chemical interpretation.  The reason for the tendency to chemical interpretation is no doubt because they are using chemistry as the primary means of their inquiry.  In other words, the use of chemistry as the primary way to look at cellular activity has, of course, created a bias to a chemical point of view.  What else would you expect?  The problem with this is that its like looking at things through a pair of, say, blue shaded glasses.  Sure, you can see things but its all bluish . . . everything has a bluish tint.  Even though you can make out shapes and images you are missing something . . . other colors.  The same thing happens with cellular activity.  Everything is looked at through “chemical shaded” glasses which, of course, makes everything appear to be “chemical” in orientation.  Some things can be seen, of course, but something is always missing.  More than likely, this something is something science (especially chemistry) can’t measure.  As a result, the chemical interpretation is only a partial picture of what’s going on.

Many of these question came up as I was looking at embryology (I actually wrote a previous article involving similar things called “Thoughts on the growth of tissues in embryology“).  I became fascinated with how cellular tissue grew and developed.  The more I looked at it the more unconvinced I became that it was DNA and chemicals causing this.  I agree that they are involved but I think there’s a bit more to it than that.  To me, DNA is comparable to finding the fossilized bones of dinosaurs.  Sure, it tells you about them but a lot is left out.

In addition, some things are hard to believe.  For example, I find it hard to believe that the RNA just “happens” to find all the chemicals it needs just floating around the nucleus as it moves along the DNA to create specific types of chemicals for all the myriad growth and differentiation that takes place in embryology.  Then the chemical must float around the nucleus, find its way out of the nucleus wall into the cell and find its way out of the cell well.  Then it has to find its way through all the other cells to find the right cell in which it will initiate a chemical reaction, and so on.  All this just happens to take place in such an ordered fashion that growth, for example, just happens to be symmetrical with even growth throughout the embryo.  That sounds too unbelievable to me.  And this is all controlled by DNA???  But we must remember, there is no ‘master DNA’ which means that none of this is controlled by a central source but each cell is working independently.  What’s causing a unity in their functioning . . . the chemicals floating around in the cells that unite them all?  I find that hard to believe.  There has to be more to it.

Some time ago, I had written of this same point of view from another angle.  I spoke of something which I called ‘life gravity’ (“Thoughts on biology and the nature of “life” – the ‘life gravity’”  and “More thoughts on the ‘life gravity’“).  To be frank, this is a word that came to me as I wrote the first article.  It is really a word the reflects the idea that there is ‘more’ to things than we think.  It primarily speaks of the idea that there is something else that seems to “move” life, another “force”, “energy”, or “gravity” that makes life go in a specific direction.

I still believe that there is something “more” that is going on than chemistry and DNA.  I think “chemical bias” has, in a sense, deceived many people into thinking that this is all that matters.  Right now chemistry gives a lot of “answers” which gives the illusion that it explains all.  But it is only one means to discovery.  I think there is so much more than any of us realizes to all this . . . more than chemistry can answer.


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

 

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Thoughts on my statement: “I am not knowledge” – aspects of knowledge in relation to the self and the importance of intuition

Recently, I have been finding that I feel particularly dumb in life.  Its like I don’t know anything.  I look at all that I thought, and think, and it all looks ridiculous and naïve in a way . . . its just a bunch of words and ideas.   Its like I only think I know but really don’t. More importantly, I know that there is great truth in this that, deep down, I really am dumb.  This is probably why, in the past little while, I have begun to say:

“I am not knowledge.” 

This got me to thinking about it:

“KNOWLEDGE”

I should point out that when I speak of “knowledge” here I am really speaking of it in a broader sense.  I speak of these two things:

Actual knowledge – this refers to information, facts, etc. . . . the “substance of knowing”.

Knowing – this refers to an act or ability . . . the “attaining of knowledge”.

These are really distinct and separate things but they are also intimately bound together.  Because of this, I react to them similarly and often view them as the same thing.  In this article I will speak of them, together, as “knowledge”.

“WEARING KNOWLEDGE”

The statement “I am not knowledge” states that “knowledge” – “actual knowledge” and “knowing” – is something that is separate from me.  In other words, “knowledge” does not make me who I am.  In fact, I’d say that “knowledge” is something that comes to me from “somewhere else”.   It is not a part of me and, in that sense, is “alien” to me, a stranger or foreignor.  In this way, “knowledge” is really no different than putting on a jacket or a hat . . . you just “put it on”.  One “puts it on” by “learning” it.  Once one “learns” it one “wears” it.  This more or less is saying that “learning” is the same as putting on clothing . . . its something separate from you that you “wear”.  I sometimes jokingly speak of this as “wearing knowledge” or “knowledge-as-clothing”.  

But, just like clothing, “wearing knowledge” tends to change the way a person looks, to themselves and others, and can alter the way they view themselves.  This change has a number of effects, such as:

  • Functional value – it makes a person “fit in”.  For example, “learning” the ways of a culture makes one fit in to the culture or “learning” how to be a lawyer makes a person fit into and become part of the lawyer profession.  In addition, being able to fit in to how the world works helps one to survive and live.
  • Illusionary and deceptive – it makes a person appear to be something else than they are.  This often becomes an illusion not only to other people but to the person themselves.  It can even get to the point of being a deception.
  • Revealing quality – it can help a person discover hidden or other aspects of themselves.  Changing the way a person appears can often reveal or bring out hidden aspect of themselves they did not know they have.  In this way, it can lead to a revealing of things.  It does this primarily by creating a condition where what one thinks one is or knows is as if put “off guard” by the change in ones appearance.  This assumed knowing is as if “challenged”, so to speak, causing a tension which often brings out other aspects of ones self.

One can see that there are good and bad effects with “wearing knowledge”.

The main problem with “wearing knowledge” is primarily that it does not necessarily reflect the person deep down.  In this “era of education” this is becoming a big problem. People are “wearing knowledge”, to such an extent, that they no longer know themselves.

My observation is that “wearing knowledge” generally starts by having “functional value” which gives it a legitimacy and relevance.  This often slowly turns into the “illusionary and deceptive” form over time.  In effect, they eventually deceive themselves by “wearing knowledge”.  This can become particularly dominant for some people.

The “revealing quality” appears from time to time in most people, but tends to only be strong in certain personality types.  Typically, people who “wear knowledge” tend to not develop the “revealing quality”.

Overall, though, I’d say that the “functional value” is the strongest and most prevalent value of “wearing knowledge”.   In other words, the main value of “wearing knowledge”, for most people, is in its quality of making a person “fit in”.  Some of the reasons why this is so important include:

  • It makes a person part of a group.
  • It can help a person “get ahead” and can give them advantage.
  • It causes a unity in a population of people.
  • It helps a person to adapt to the conditions of life.

Many of these reflect social conditions and show that there is a close relationship between society and “wearing knowledge”.  Because of this, “wearing knowledge” tends to be something that society promotes as a value.  In addition, it promotes and strengthens society as it helps people to survive in that society.  Because of this, “wearing knowledge” has a very strong social orientation and value.

But it must also be pointed out that, because of its more social orientation, “wearing knowledge” tends to not reflect personal inquiries or personal qualities. This, in my opinion, is one of the great illusions of knowledge and is one of many aspects of knowledge that is not understood.  My experience is that people who seek knowledge begin with the “wearing knowledge” point of view and generally remain there.  As a result, a person who is “knowledgeable” is generally nothing but a person that is “wearing knowledge” and remember that this is based, as I said above, on social values and themes. In this way, all they are seeking, really, is knowledge that is known and accepted by society.  If they are looking at things from a social values and themes point of view (which is generally the case) then its generally OK.  But when they are inquiring for “personal” reasons, such as a spirituality or deeper meaning in things, then there tends to be problems.  This is because the social values and themes, found in the “wearing knowledge” point of view, seldom reflects “personal” aspects.  As a result, there often develops a mismatch of motives which causes things like:

  • They tend to get misled and misdirected.
  • They get deceived.
  • They overemphasize certain things and neglect other things.
  • They become like blind sheep following the herd.

Its because of things like this that the emphasis on”wearing knowledge” point of view often tends to hamper peoples personal development.  This is because it is primarily based in a social orientation.   In actuality, this tends to lead them away from themselves.

KNOWLEDGE AND “I”

It seems, to me, that it is not “I” that is the origin of “knowledge”.  It seems, to me, that “knowledge is something that comes to me from somewhere else.  In this way, it shows that it is separate from me and removed from me.  As a result, I treat it that way, as something removed from me.  In this way, “knowledge” is not “mine”, so to speak, but a separate entity altogether.  In other words, I see “knowledge” as removed from my self and a separate entity.  This means that any “knowledge” does not contain my self, of who I am.  More than once have I said that things such as:

These all reveal a feeling that my thoughts don’t seem to be coming from “me”.

Being that “knowledge” is removed from me the “I” tends to feel stupid and dumb, oftentimes.  Some of the ways the feeling and being dumb appears include:

  • I forget things.
  • I can’t get seem to retrieve certain trains of thought or facts.
  • I contradict myself.
  • Things become relevant/irrelevant very easily.
  • I lose interest in subjects.

In other words, I become “flighty” and “absent-minded”.  This is because the “I” is not “rooted” in “knowledge” and, as a result, “bounces around” going from here to there as easily as the wind changes direction.  One  could, perhaps, refer to this as the “non-knowledge-focused orientation”.  In opposition to this one could speak of the “knowledge-focused orientation”.  In this orientation, of course, “knowledge” becomes the basis and mainstay of the self and “I”.  Because of this, the “I” becomes rooted in “knowledge” and becomes equated with the “I”.  A person then “becomes knowledge”.  The “knowledge-focused orientation” is very common in this society.

Looking at the qualities of this feeling of being dumb one can see a number of things such as:

  • That “knowledge” is separate from me.
  • That “knowledge” is limited and narrow, even when it comes from within me.
  • That “knowledge” is variable and changes.
  • That “knowledge” is not the great thing it seems to be. 
  • That “knowledge” comes and goes.

These qualities conflict with the “I”.  In fact, my observation is that there is a great disconnect between “knowledge” and the “I”.  As a result, “knowledge” often tends to fail in life.  Most people, at least in one point of their life, will experience this sense of the failure of “knowledge”.

WHEN “KNOWLEDGE” FAILS

In life there is a point where “knowledge” begins to fail.  There becomes something like a conflict between “knowledge” and the “I”.  Its almost like there are phases in this conflict:

  1. Being “simple”.  This is ones original state, of not “knowing”, much like an infant.
  2. The “knowing”.  This is when one gains knowledge.
  3. “Becoming knowledge”.  This is when one becomes “learned” and “understands”.  In this state we tend to equate knowledge with ourselves and often “wear knowledge”.  This can be a very satisfying feeling as one feels they are accomplishing something.
  4. The “knowing” begins to fail and “does not satisfy”.  One finds that the “knowing” ceases to be the great thing it once was nor does it seem to answer anything.  Often, this phase appears when one begins to develop a stronger sense of “I”.  In this way, it is a sign of a growing disconnect between “knowledge” and the “I”.
  5. One begins to have a sense that there is something “more” than “knowing”.  With the failure of “knowing” one begins to sense “something else”.  In many cases, this is a growing sense of “I”.
  6. The separation of the “I” and “knowledge”.  This is when one begins to see that ones self is beyond knowledge.
  7. The contemplative attitude.  This refers to an “awareness without knowledge” basically.  It primarily entails various forms of awareness that is rooted in the self and “I”.  It can go to the great depths of ones self.  Its often a sign of a great sense of self.  Most people don’t go this far.

Interestingly, the state of contemplation tends often takes on traits similar to the first phase, of being “simple”, and then the process as if starts over again.  Because of this, we could really refer to this as a cycle.

But, it seems to me, that many people, at least in this society, would have a hard time making it to phase 6, and possibly even phase 5.  This is primarily because they just see “knowing as knowing” and not as a manifestation of the self.  This has a lot to do with the fact that this is a knowledge worshiping society which tends to hinder the development of phase 6.   One effect of this is that they reach phase 5 and feel a frustration in life.  Many people will feel this frustration all their lives.

THE “KNOWLEDGE”/SELF RELATIONSHIP

The nature of “knowledge” is that it is often the “window of perceiving the world” that allows us to see, experience, conceive, and view the world.  As a result, we tend to equate this “knowledge” of the world with our self.  But our self is neither the world or our “knowledge” of the world.  This fact becomes more apparent when “knowledge” fails.

A major reason why “knowledge” fails is because our self grows and develops, particularly as we age.  As the self grows there is a tendency for a greater sense of a disconnect between the self and “knowledgeOften, there reaches a point where a person will either seek the self or maintain “knowledge”.  If the path of the self is chosen the self generally continues to grow.  As a result, there develops a greater sense of disconnect to the point that “knowledge” fails and all that’s left is the self.  One effect that this can cause is a sense of being “dumb”.  

One thing this shows is that the self is, in actuality, “dumb” and is without knowledge or “knowing”.  Accordingly, when the self becomes dominant one becomes, or feels, “dumb”.  In a way, being “dumb” often shows that the self is dominant.

Because of the “dumb” nature of the self there becomes little use of “knowledge” when the self is concerned.  As a result, there is a tendency where the self is known “without words” and in other ways other than “knowledge”.  Some of these include:

  • Faith.
  • Belief.
  • Doing.
  • Beingness.
  • Contentment.
  • Contemplation.

All these deal with the general qualities of the self and do not, accordingly, involve knowledge or knowing.  Many of these qualities, interestingly, are more prevalent in primitive, smaller, and older societies. This fact shows that primitive, smaller, and older societies tend to take a “non-knowledge-focused orientation”.  Societies that are more developed, larger, and newer tend to take a “knowledge-focused orientation”.  

One fact that this shows is that the more developed, larger, and newer societies (that is, more modern societies) tend to actually degrade the self, not develop it, as it usually claims.  This fact may be one reason why modern societies tend to dehumanize and alienate peopleThe self simply does not figure prominently in more modern societies.

EFFECTS OF A KNOWLEDGE WORSHIPPING SOCIETY

In this society there is a tendency to worship knowledge.  This point of view is seen in many more modern societies.  But, the problem is that these societies preach that “knowing” is everything.  This orientation, as I said above, tends to hinder the development of the self.  The over emphasis on “knowledge” tends to make it difficult to allow it to fail and allow the self to grow.  There then becomes a dilemma where one part of a person wants to follow the self but it doesn’t know how.  This is because its in a society that only emphasizes “knowledge” and, as a result, the path of the self is not known.  This causes a number of reactions such as:

  • They try to find another way of “knowing”.  This often appears like “experiments”, such as another belief system or religion.  Usually, this works for a while but fails in the end.
  • They learn more as a way of following the “knowledge” orientation.
  • They resign themselves to the fact that they are dumb.
  • They become indifferent.
  • They develop contempt.

Typically, a knowledge worshipping society creates a “self-suppressed” condition that actually hinders the development of the self.  A segment of the population will try to develop the self, using techniques as shown above, but they usually never quite develop the self.  It seems that the people who develop the self are generally people who are “on the fringes of society” and, accordingly, are not under its control.  This allows the self to develop more freely.

INTUITION AS A FORM OF “SELF-KNOWLEDGE”

The self, though, does have an innate form of knowing.  I generally refer to this as intuition.  It is a form of knowing that originates from “inside” or within us.  In this way, it is not really a form of “knowledge”.  It does not depend on a learning or a knowing that comes from without.  The qualities that seem to promote intuition, it seems to me, are:

  • An openness.  This means an ability to be open to it, and to allow it to happen.
  • A receptiveness.  This means an ability to receive it into ones mind.
  • A recognition.  This means an ability to recognize its value.

Many people have intuition but never use it because of some failure, such as in one of the qualities describe above.  These qualities all describe an aspect of the self.  In short, the self must be “prepared” and “open” for intuition.  Otherwise, intuition comes through one ear and out the other.  This shows that intuition is a matter of the self.

Because intuition comes from the self, and originates from within, it tends to be wordless and dumb, just like the self.  As a result, there is a tendency to not be able to understand it.  In addition, we tend to not recognize intuition when it does appear.  In this way, intuition is something that one must “discern” or, rather, see amidst the myriad reactions, feelings, and thoughts one has.

Intuition is really an active relationship of the self with the world.  It is not a “knowledge” in the sense of “I know this or that”.  In this way, we could describe intuition as an “active knowing”.  Intuition then becomes a perpetual discovery and a revealing that never ends.  It is also never complete but ongoing.  Its in perpetual flux and change.

Interestingly, even though intuition comes from within it often has this appearance of coming from without us, as something separate from us.  (this was seen, for example, with Socrates – see my article “Thoughts on how I perceive the world – inspiration and the “I don’t know” – with remarks about Socrates, philosophy, Odin, and belief“).  No doubt, this is because of its deeper origins . . . the conscious self perceives it as something else.

 THE EFFECT OF AGE – THE QUESTION OF WISDOM

As one grows older the sense of self usually develops as well.  One effect of this, oftentimes, is a growing sense of becoming dumber as one gets older.  One feels that “they never really knew”.  Another aspect of this is that we really begin to see how dumb we were when we were younger and that we only “thought we knew”.  In short, knowledge tends to fail when we grow older.

Because of this, one tends to take a more “intuitive” view of life as one gets older.  This, it seems to me, is the source of a lot of the so-called wisdom of old age.  Normally, we say it is based in “experience”.  I feel that there is truth to this but I feel that there is other aspects not mentioned.  The failure of knowledge, based on the growing self and its leading to a more intuitive sense in life, seems a major element in the development of wisdom.  This would mean that wisdom is not based in wholly in knowledge or experience.

One of the reasons why wisdom can be so powerful is that it is based in an intuitive sense and tends to describe an attitude of an active participation in life.  In other words, wisdom is often a sign of an active participation in the world.   This is why wisdom often appears as “advice” or “suggestions” and does not appear as “facts”.

AFTERTHOUGHT

Overall, we find that the self and knowledge are not as compatible as it may seem.  In actuality, knowledge or what I know, or think I know, is not who I am nor does it make me who I am.  The self, by itself, is actually dumb and without knowledge.  But the self contains a form of knowledge in intuition.  One could say that intuition is the “knowledge of the self”.  In this way, one could say that “real knowledge” is intuition, the knowledge that comes from the self, which is dumb and without knowledge.

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Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Dehumanization and alienation, Existence, Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Inspiration, free association, and intuition, Modern life and society, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the control of money and the problem of “pressure” in life with remarks about “personhood”

Here’s a thought I had:

Recently, I saw some teenagers and a thought came to me of some advice I would like to of given them.  The more I thought about it the more interesting it got.  I started off by wanting to give them this advice:

“Don’t make money run your life.”

Its true that we all need money to survive but we want to avoid it having control over us.  There needs to be a balance that is achieved.  There is a time and place for money and there is a time and place without money.  One doesn’t want to make it the focus of life.  To make money run your life is to live a degraded life, in my opinion.  It basically causes you to become something like a puppet to it and, in so doing, you cease to live and be a person.

THE CONTROL OF MONEY

I see three ways where money can have control over a person:

  1. When you are poor you are controlled by the lack of money.  In other words, not having money makes a person have to need money and, accordingly, a person then is controlled by it, out of necessity.
  2. Neither rich or poor, but average income, where ones attitude and how one manages affairs dictates how controlled a person is.  This is the “middle path”.  Here a person wavers between rich and poor.  This is usually where most of the population is located.  Often, people here are the least controlled by money.  Its not uncommon that a person has to learn how to do this though.  Many people have problems with this.
  3. When you are rich you are controlled by what money can buy.  Life becomes a matter of spending money.  It then begins to dictate what you do and how you live.  It can even begin to dictate how you view yourselves and your position with other people (like a class struggle or a “keeping up with the Joneses”).

What we see, then, is that people who are rich are just as controlled by money as poor people, but in a different way.  In fact, I’d say most rich people are slaves to money. Many, though, don’t see that.  In many ways, this is the problem with being rich, you’re controlled but you don’t realize it whereas when you are poor you know it.  Overall, being either poor or rich, they both seem to lead to a controlled life.  The greatest opportunity to not be controlled by money is usually in the “middle path” . . .

The middle path

The best path, in my opinion, is in the middle, neither rich or poor.  Typically, this means that a person makes an average wage . . . nothing spectacular.  You’re usually making what most people make.  This is why another advice I would give is:

“Get the ideas out of your head of owning mansions and expensive cars.”

In other words, don’t think in a rich way and try to not make your plans in life involve money.  In short, if you don’t think rich you don’t expect to be rich.  To take the middle path a person needs to take a middle path perspective and attitude. 

I must also point out that, to take the middle path, a person must be in a situation that is conducive to this path, the “middle path condition”.   In many cases, this condition is threatened because a person is pulled or threatened into the poor condition or, oddly enough, they may even be pulled to the wealthy end.  This being pulled or threatened to either condition tends to upset the “middle path condition” and tends to undermine it.  If this does happen the “middle path condition” can be harder to achieve than it seems. What this shows is that the “middle path condition” tends to require a constancy.  You can’t be pulled back and forth between different conditions.

THE “PRESSURE”

Making an average wage, though, creates a condition where a person is always in need in their lives.  They need money to pay bills, to buy foods, etc., etc.  This creates something like a “pressure” that one feels, like a great burden on ones shoulders.

This “pressure”, we must remember, is a normal condition.  All living things feel this “pressure” in one way or another:  plants, insects, mammals, etc.  When you walk into the forest, for example, what you’re seeing is plants fighting for the rays of the sun and the nutrients of the soil.  In addition, insects, animals, and other living things are continually seeking food.  When you see insects flying or crawling around that’s what they’re doing. When you see squirrels scurrying around and jumping from branch to branch that’s what they’re doing.  All nature is filled with this “pressure” because all living things are in need.  If we could tap even a small amount of the energy of this “pressure”, found in living things, it would probably supply power to the whole world!  In short, all living things are in a continuous never ending need.  We are all seeking.  That’s the way it is and that is the condition of life.  This means, more or less, that the “pressure” is a normal part of life.  In a sense, life is about the “pressure”.  Looking at it that way, we could very well say that a person does not live unless there is “pressure”.  Therefore, depriving oneself of “pressure” deprives a person of life and living.  This means, then, that there is more to “pressure” than what it seems.  It isn’t just a burden, a weight, a worry . . . its a source of life!

In this way, becoming rich is a way to deprive oneself of life and living because it deprives one of the “pressure”.  Being poor, on the other hand, as if “drains” a person of life, the “pressure” is now too great.  In both cases, a loss of life takes place.  It seems that the reason why the middle way is better is because of the “pressure” that exists there and that it is the source of life . . . one is neither deprived of it or overwhelmed by it.  

This “pressure” can be described as having several qualities:

  • It has a great seriousness to it.
  • Its continuously present.
  • It is never ending.

In some sense, its like a great shadow that hangs over us all the time, throughout our whole lives.  There’s no escaping it.  If one thinks they have escaped it then they are only deceiving themselves.  In this way, “pressure” is something one lives with.

Struggling with “pressure”

Many people struggle with this “pressure” and for many different reasons.  Some of these include:

  • Personality.  Some peoples character may predispose them to being oversensitive to “pressure”.
  • Social conditions.  Various social conditions may predispose people to a greater or lesser sense of “pressure”.  Some social structures can do this as well as things like a “class struggle” and even some qualities of culture.  Various form of competition tends to intensify it as well.
  • Actual conditions.  Difficult conditions, such as bordering on poverty or uncertainty about ones future, may intensify the “pressure”.
  • Uncertainty.  Often, one is unclear of the severity of the “pressure”.   It seems that uncertainty about “pressure”, and what it may mean, often causes an intensification of the “pressure”.  In some ways, this may be the worst form of “pressure” . . . of knowing about it but not knowing its severity.  Sometimes, the struggle with “pressure” is imaginary.  At other times, its not as bad as it seems.  And still, at other times, it is a real legitimate concern.  Sometimes its hard to tell if ones worries are truly real.

The struggle with “pressure” may cause people to do things like these:

  • It makes some people despair and become hopeless.
  • It makes some people apathetic, not wanting to do anything.
  • It makes some people dream of being rich.
  • Some people will try to be rich in order to alleviate the feeling of “pressure” (this can be done legally and illegally).
  • They learn to “manage” it.

So we see that there are many different responses to it, ranging from good to bad.  It seems, to me, that a significant way of dealing with “pressure” is by managing it . . .

Managing “pressure”

Some of the ways to “manage” the “pressure” include:

  • Making concessions.  This basically amounts to having modest wants.  It includes things like not having expensive tastes, no frivolous spending, buying modest things, etc.
  • Developing the right attitude and ways.  This includes things like not expecting to be rich, accepting conditions, learning to be modest, etc.
  • Accepting the fact that, in life, a person is always in need . . . accept the “pressure” and live with it.  This seems to be a difficult thing to do sometimes.
  • Have or develop a belief system that gives meaning to life and life’s struggles.  In many cases, this is religious or religious-like.  Often, it develops as a result of experience.
  • Learning how to manage ones life so that its conditions are in your favor. This generally requires some know-how and experience.  Some people may be better at this than others.  This can also help maintain the constancy of the “middle path condition”.

Doing things, like these, allows one to live in the presence of “pressure” but not to be overwhelmed by it.

NECESSARY AND DEEPER WEALTH

It seems, to me, that there are different forms of wealth:

  1. Necessary wealth.  This is wealth that is necessary to survive.  It includes what money can buy (food, clothing, shelter, etc.) and other necessary things (such as air, the ability to move around, sight, and such).
  2. Deeper wealth.  This is wealth that is “deeper”.  It is a wealth found beyond necessary wealth and money.  It cannot be bought.  It tends to be an interior sense that can border, at times, with being spiritual-like.  In actuality, this is the greatest of wealth’s.  In fact, in my opinion, this is the wealth that a person should most seek.

To me, there is a relationship between these two wealth’s.  This is because both are necessary.  I’d describe necessary wealth as having a quality of a foundation.  Upon this foundation is built deeper wealth.  This describes a relationship, that they both work together:  deeper wealth requires necessary wealth to survive and necessary wealth allows deeper wealth to be meaningful.

It seems that “managing” the “pressure” tends to develop the meaning and value of deeper wealth.  This is because the “pressure” is rooted in life and living, as I said above:  life is found in the “pressure”.  And we must remember that deeper wealth is “deep” because it is beyond things and hits deeper into ones soul.  Because of this, there is a close association between “pressure”, deeper wealth, and life.  Therefore, by “managing” the “pressure” one finds “deeper wealth” by “living”.   It does this by doing these things:

  • It allows us to “tap” the life that is found in “pressure”.
  • It allows us to not be overwhelmed by “pressure”.
  • It allows us to live beyond “pressure” and find deeper wealth and life.

In so doing, we tend to live a life beyond money and a life where it does not control us.

“PRESSURE”, THE SELF, AND OTHERS

It is harder to deal with “pressure” when one has a family or is responsible for other people.  It would probably be more accurate to say that it gives it a new depth and meaning.  This is because of things like these:

  • The concern over other people makes it more serious.
  • There is actually a disconnect because other people are not a part of ones self.  One is “acting on the behalf” of other people, so to speak.
  • Its based more in an abstract instinctual need.  Typically, when on has a responsibility for other people it has an instinctual-like basis, such as in a family or an extended family (such as ones country) . . . one doesn’t just automatically feel a bond with strangers where there is no instinctual bond.  This instinctual connection creates a bond that is “abstract” because it connects ones self with other people who are separate and removed from you.  Its a “bond at a distance”, so to speak.

In short, other people tends to create more of a “pull” often making the “pressure” worse. Sometimes it can become so overbearing that it causes problems.  Many people may struggle with it and it may stress some people out.

But, we must also point out that since life and living is found in the “pressure”, having responsibility for others is often a great source of living.  For some people it is the source of living and is what make life matter.

LIVING WITH “PRESSURE” AND “PERSONHOOD”

In many ways, the issue of money (at least in the “middle path condition”) really revolves around living with “pressure”.  This means that dealing with “pressure”, as well as managing it, are critical aspects in life.  I think I’d go on to say that a significant part of ones happiness in life revolve around how one manages and lives with “pressure”.  In other words, for most people, money isn’t the issue, they just think it is. My observation is that, for most people, money is seldom the problem they think it is. More often than not, it is about “pressure”.  It seems that the more problems you have with “pressure” the more problems you will have with life and, probably, the more unhappy you will be.

There appears to be an innate recoiling tendency against “pressure”.  That is to say, a person as if automatically dislikes and avoids it.  In many ways, this is the problem of “pressure” and why we struggle with it.  This dislike makes us struggle not only with it but often against it.  Many people end up fighting against the “pressure”, treating it as something like a threat.  They often become bitter, preoccupied with money, and develop images in their minds of an “impending tragedy”, as if the world is going to come to an end.  This is even though they, in actuality, are not “hurting”.  This is a good example of how “pressure”, or the inability to manage it, can greatly deteriorate life and cause unnecessary despair.

But this same innate recoiling tendency probably hides one of the reasons why “pressure” is so important in life.  The reason why:  the innate recoiling forces a person to confront life.  In other words, the recoiling tendency places a burden on a persons self that “wakens a person to life”, so to speak.  In this way, ones self is “awakened” and, accordingly, one is forced to “live” as a person-in-the-world.  What this shows is that “pressure” is closely related with “personhood” and that this is associated with the recoiling against “pressure”.  So we see this pattern:

need>>>”pressure”>>>recoiling tendency>>>self is awakened>>>living>>>personhood

In many ways, the recoiling tendency is the self “being forced to be awake”.  It seems, to me, that many people do not “awaken” primarily because they allow themselves to be recoiled and avoid the “pressure”.  Looking at things from this angle, we could say that deeper wealth and life are found by the self being awakened, often forcibly, by need and “pressure”.  This makes one a person-in-the-world and develops “personhood”.  When money controls you (by having too little or too much) this is hindered or even prevented.  


Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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