Thoughts on existentialism and the crisis of authority

Here’s a thought I had:

It appears, to me, that I take many views that are seen in a type of philosophy called existentialism.  I, though, tend to interpret it differently.

THE “ILLNESS”

In some respects, existentialism is primarily looking at a specific quality or “illness”, so to speak.   This “illness” has the quality of a ‘complex’ which has traits such as:

  • The idea that something important has “died”, is gone, or is missing.
  • The idea that we’re lost as a result of this.
  • This creates feelings like doubt, anxiety, despair, etc.
  • This causes a tendency, and need, to rediscover what has died.
  • But, regardless of what we do, there is no solution and, therefore, a dilemma is created in life, one which can’t be answered but is always there.

. . . the existential dilemma.

In my opinion, this is a naturally appearing condition in humanity at least in some form or another.  But, due to historical circumstance and situation, it has been particularly exaggerated these past several hundreds years in Western society.  Its a dilemma that seemed to ‘appear’ right after the Napoleonic wars, especially, and grew in intensity as time went on.  It almost seems to go through stages (at least in philosophy):

  1. The discovery.  This would be like the early-mid 1800’s.
  2. The defining.  This would be the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. 
  3. The realizing.  This would be the early to mid 1900’s.
  4. The forgetting.  This would be the mid to late 1900’s.

In other words, the existential dilemma, as a whole, has a quality of discovering an “illness” but, finding ourselves helpless against it and unable to cure it, we end up forgetting it. 

But, we must remember, the “illness” still continues.  Overall, the existential dilemma has become a forgotten enigma, as if drowned by the events of history which have, it seems, molded the existential dilemma into new forms.  In other words, its existence has caused other reactions, particularly recently, than the original philosophical explanation.  Despite this, its fact continues to exist and influence things.  Sometimes, the dilemma is hidden behind some form of thought or thinking, of principles or points of view, such as:

  • Justification – As a cause (for example, that its a “liberation”, or a “freedom”, etc.).
  • Explanation – As something to give other explanations for (such as that its caused by consumerism, cellular phones, the Republican party, not enough fiber, etc.).

But, being so deep set it often affects people differently, beyond thought, such as:

  • Experienced – As an underlying despair or anxiety (this, of course, captures the existential dilemma in its original form).
  • Non-acknowledgement – As something not acknowledged and ignored.

In other words, the reaction to the existential dilemma tends to go in a thought and non-thought pattern.  In actuality, this tendency reveals a basic problem found in the existential dilemma . . .

THE PROBLEM OF PHILOSOPHY AND THOUGHT

One aspect that the existential philosophy reveals is a condition that is created by philosophy and thought in general.  Since this is a “thinking society” this problem permeates this society and, no doubt, causes the general existential dilemma we now see in society.  To put it simply, the tendency of philosophy and thought is to come up with all these fancy ideas which seem to work but, in reality, we are running around in circles getting nowhere.  In other words, it shows the ‘illusion of thought’.   That is to say, thought actually tends to deceive us in a number of ways, such as:

  • It makes us fabricate things that aren’t happening or true.
  • It gives us the illusion that, just because we thought it, it is “solved”.
  • It makes us get lost in all the complexity, ingenuity, and novelty of thought.

This illusion becomes particularly pronounced with existentialism because, in respect to all other philosophies, it tends to be focusing on a dilemma (the existential dilemma) and, accordingly, it is an attempt at explaining it.  Because of this, it makes it very specific and focused in its orientation.  As a result of this fact, its “philosophizing” brings out the ‘illusion of thought’ rather prominently.  No matter how much they philosophize about it, the dilemma is never “solved” nor does it ever seem completely explained.

The ‘illusion of thought’ tends to follow a particular path of thinking:

  1. The dilemma is defined.
  2. They philosophize about the dilemma.
  3. They find a solution that “makes sense”.
  4. It appears that they have “solved” it.  But they haven’t “solved” it . . . they just “think” they do.
  5. The dilemma is not solved.
  6. They are right back where they started.

In actuality, nothing is “solved” . . . they just philosophized about it to their satisfaction giving an ‘illusion’ of a solution.  This shows how the tendency of philosophy and thought, in general, is to emphasize one phase – the solution that “makes sense” – and to rely totally on that phase as the panacea of it all.  This is typical of philosophy and thought as a rule.  This over reliance is, in effect, the cause of its failure but because it “makes sense” we still hold onto it as if it is true, making it seem or appear true.  The nature of philosophy, then, is not if it is true but if it “makes sense” to us and believe in it enough to give us the illusion of the “solution”:  the ‘illusion of thought’. 

It shows that philosophizing and thought can actually keeps us away from a “solution”.  In other words, the explanation becomes everything to such an extent that it develops an almost god-like quality with great authority.  Sometimes these explanations take on religious proportions as an explanation.  Because of this, we become deceived by it all . . . dazzled by the explanation.  But, yet, it gets us nowhere and are unwilling to admit it.  We “need” the explanation that “makes sense”, whether it works or not.

This shows that “thought” and reason isn’t as powerful as it seems, nor is something that necessarily  “makes sense”.  Since philosophy is primarily based in thought and reason it shows that philosophy is limited in its effects and outlook.  Relying on logic, reason, thought, and things that “make sense” isn’t necessarily the answer to things.  This is why philosophizing often doesn’t work and, no doubt, is why there are so many types of philosophies.  In many ways, the existential dilemma reflects this fact:  the failure of thought. 

One of the reasons why this is so significant is that there is a tendency to view thought as authority.  In other words, there is a tendency to view thought as being the authority.  Oftentimes, this is any thought, particularly if it is thought over “serious” things, such as we find in philosophy.  But thought is not authority.  Just because one “thinks” or has “ideas” does not automatically give it authority.  Because of this, there becomes a confusion between thought and authority, a tendency to equate the two:  the ‘thought-as-authority confusion’.  This confusion reveals that there are several aspects to any thought:

  1. The actual thought.
  2. The authority behind the thought.

Though they may seem identical they are actually totally separate entities.  In other words, authority exists separately and removed from any thought.  In this way, thought only “captures” the authority.  It does this by putting it in words, ideas, concepts, and such.  To put it another way, thought is an “interpreter” of authority.  This gives thought the quality, really, of a language:  how you interpret it depends on what language you speak.  Different cultures, different religions, different points of views, different people . . all interpret the authority differently and, accordingly, give different thoughts to describe it.  I have found that its not uncommon for two different thoughts to sound totally different, at first glance, but actually are saying the same thing, only in different ways.

Because of this, it is very important to not get too carried away with ones thought or, rather, interpretation.  This, though, is not easy.  Very often we tend to get so involved in our thought that we forget the authority that it represents.  This is a common problem with anyone who thinks, such as philosophers.  Too easily, they get deceived by their own thoughts.

And speaking of authority . . .

RELIGION, GOD . . . OR SOMETHING ELSE?  THE QUESTION OF AUTHORITY

Generally, the dilemma of existentialism is often viewed in the context of religion, such as in Nietzche’s statement “God is dead”, at least in the beginning.  This, in my opinion, is one of the things that has led everything off the track.  Its no surprise that they viewed it religiously as they were coming from Christian times.  Its only natural that they would look at things in that way and interpret things in that light.

I tend to feel, though, that it is rooted in something more than Christianity.  One of the reasons why I say this is that the change that happened after the Napoleonic wars, it seems to me, is not really religious but cultural.   In other words, it is not god who ‘died’ but something else.

And what do I believe that some thing else is?

It seems, to me, that what died is authority.  Naturally, in the 1800’s, they used the best example of authority that they understood:  religious authority and the authority of god This is what people were taught for centuries.  But there was something else going on underneath the Christian religious teaching, another form of authority.

But what type of authority?

My feelings is that it is cultural authority.  Why is this?  Because it was at this time that there were great cultural changes happening.  In many ways, the centuries old pattern of Western cultural tradition were beginning to be undermined at this time.  But, even then, I feel that cultural authority is too general.  It seems that there is still another authority that is not being mentioned.

But what is it?

I feel that it is the authority of the tribe.  In other words, th authority issue does not deal with religion and god as much as we were led to believe.  The explanation of religion was an easy one as it fit in to the ‘accepted explanation’ and the ‘accepted explanation of the faithful’ of the times.  But the idea of the tribe has all but been forgotten in Europe, hidden behind centuries of Christianity, social and political conflict, change, etc.  In short, we have forgotten that Western society and culture is tribal in nature.  Germanic society is tribal in nature . . . it always has been.

This shows how I tend to feel that Christianity, in particular, has made us forget our tribal nature.  This is because of some traits of Christianity such as:

  • It is taught to us, forcing many of our original beliefs into the background which often made us forget them.
  • Its a formal belief system, meaning that it is defined whereas a lot of ‘tribal belief’ is not so defined.
  • It preaches an all pervasive religious authority in the Church, Doctrine, and God which takes emphasis away from the tribe.
  • It is manifested in overt behavior such as rituals, morals, ethics, etc. to make impress it upon our minds.

In many ways, these have been as if “overlayed” upon our tribal nature and as if hide or disguise it.  These traits are very different from the qualities of the tribe, which include things such as:

  • There is a strong sense of people.
  • There is a sense of belonging.
  • It is a specific style of way of life.
  • It is developed from experience, not necessarily from being taught.
  • The beliefs are not necessarily defined or delineated.

It shows a big difference:  Christianity is dogma-centered, the tribe is people-centered (keep in mind that by ‘people’ I mean ‘ones people’, who one belongs to, and not ‘people’ in a general overall sense).  These are two totally different orientations.  One could say that, though Christianity brought in a new orientation in thought, it did not destroy the original tribal orientation deep down inside.  This continued to exist but in the ‘background’ or, if you prefer, unconciously.  As a result, we actually had two forms of orientation in Western society:

  1. A tribal orientation.
  2. A Christian orientation.

Both existed side-by-side in the society.  In actuality, we were influenced as much by one as the other.  One was overt and formally acknowledged (Christianity), the other was not (tribal).  As a result, any change or alteration in the ‘tribal sense’ tended to be ascribed to other things, such as Christianity.  This, it seems to me, is what we see with existentialism:  ascribing to Christianity what actually took place with the ‘tribe sense’.

As a result, what has actually “died” is the authority of the tribe, not Christian dogma or “god”What we actually lost are traits of the tribe, such as our sense of belonging, our connectiveness, and the presence of being part of a ‘people’, which is what happened after the Napoleanic wars.   This loss has created a great sense that something is “gone”, “missing”, or has “died”, which is a significant part of existentialistic thought.

Many things happened after the Napoleonic wars that helped cause the fall of the authority of the tribe.  In fact, many actually pre-date it.  They, or their effects, just became more pronounced after the Napoleonic wars.  These include:

  • The rise of liberalism.
  • The rise of the middle class.
  • The French Revolution.
  • Democracy.
  • Individualism.
  • Overpopulation.
  • Exposure to other ways and ideas.
  • Political strife causing doubt in authority

These all created conditions that undermined the authority of the tribe which affected the ‘tribal sense’.  One will notice that religion does not figure prominently showing, as I said above, that there is a lot more than religion in this situation.

One can see that existentialism, and the existential dilemma it describes, is a reaction to historic circumstance and conditions and reflective of a social problem.  In other words, its a reaction to the conditions of the times. Existentialism, in my opinion, is not a problem of the individual person.  Otherwise, it would naturally be there and we’d see it regularly.

There appear to be phases, based on the mentality and conditions of the times, that are reflected in particular existential philosophers:

  1. Religious phase (1800’s) – Kierkegaard.
  2. Religious/scientific (late 1800’s) – Nietzsche.
  3. Scientific (early 1900’s) – Heidegger.
  4. Political (mid 1900’s) – Sartre.

All these philosophers describe the mentality of the times from the point of view of their specific historical circumstance.  In other words, each form of thought is a reaction to historical circumstance.

Jean Paul Sartre, for example, used French and Western ideas of freedom (which also entailed individualism) in his explanation of existentialism.  He tended to see it as a dilemma of ‘freedom’ reflecting the mood of the times.  To me, this is nothing but the ‘politicalization’ of existentialism.  That is to say, it is seeing the existential dilemma  through the current existing political ideas of the times, caused by WWII.  It seems, to me, that this shows how rooted this philosophy is to the times.

The condition of ‘freedom’, as Sartre describes it, actually refers to the effects of an absence of authority as well as the lack of the ‘tribal sense':  the lack of direction, of belonging, of purpose, etc. . . . all the traits of the existential dilemma.  When these are lacking we feel disconnected and alone (the absence of the ‘tribal sense’).  But he is associating it with the political idea of freedom and, therefore, as a great ’cause’.  In so doing he, in a way, glorified the condition of the existential dilemma by associating it with politics and calling it ‘freedom’.  In this way, the glorification of freedom is really the glorification of the fall of authority, an ironic and contradictory conclusion.

THE NEED FOR AUTHORITY . . . THE DIFFERENT FORMS OF THE EXISTENTIAL DILEMMA

Because the existential dilemma is based in a lack of authority it shows that there is a need for authority.  In other words, it reveals that the dilemma of Western society, after the Napoleonic wars, is a dilemma of authority . . . we are needing an authority but its not there.  Because of this, much of this period of history entails “attempts” at somehow “regaining” authority.  Since humanity is made up of many different qualities the dilemma of authority, reflected in the existential dilemma, appears in different ways, such as:

  • The ‘personal existential dilemma’.   This is the dilemma as felt by the person and individual.  It primarily appears as a form of philosophy and as opinions about things.  This is what is generally spoken of when one speaks of the existential dilemma.
  • The ‘social existential dilemma’.   This is the dilemma in the society in general.  Because it is a social situation it does not entail the individual person exclusively.  Its existence in the society, though, tends to affect the individual person and is often what creates the ‘personal existential dilemma’.  It also often creates a tendency to have great belief in social ideals, morality, etc. as a “solution” to maintain or create social authority.
  • The ‘governmental existential dilemma’Because government is part of the society, and made up of people, the existence of the former existential dilemma’s tend to create an existential dilemma in the governmental (that is, a crisis of governmental authority).   As a result, there is a tendency to try to create governmental authority.  This is usually by the creation of a governmental theory or principle (such as democracy, communism, fascism, Nazism, liberalism, etc.) which was very prevalent in the early-mid part of the 1900’s.

In all cases, a distinquishing trait is the creation or need of some sort of theory, principle, or idea as a representation of authority.  Often, the theory, principle, or idea is treated as “the authority”.  In actuality, it is nothing but the convincing of ones self that it is authority and the ‘final answer’.  Because of this, they come and go like the wind but, to their adherrents, they are treated almost like a god.  Perhaps this shows the desperation behind the need for authority? 

The absence of authority often tends to create a reaction which basically amounts to creating false or pretend authorities to fill the void:  the ‘pseudo-authority’.  This is done in a number of ways, such as:

  1. ‘Mock authority’.  Basically, because there is no authority it creates a tendency for some people to “mock” authority.  This is basically a pretending that they have authority, at least in some way.  When its not there it forces some people to pretend that they have it. I first observed this tendency in myself.  I noticed how I often talked in an authoritative way, often without knowing anything.  As I reflected on it I could see that what I was doing was trying “recreate an authority that should be there but isn’t”.  In this way, I tried to become the “absent authority” . . . I was performing a ‘mock authority’.  This was not done out of arrogance but out of desperation.  I need an authority and, since none is there, I have no choice but to be it.  Once I noticed it I began to see it in many other people.  Its almost pathetic, all of us running around trying to pretend to be an authority that isn’t there simply because we need it.
  2. ‘Glorified authority’.  This primarily consists in making something out as authority even though its not.  In this way, they tend to glorify things a lot, making things out bigger than they really are.  This glorification can be toward governments (as seen in Nationalism and democracy), people, beliefs, ideas, and such.  Its seen a lot in the media and social opinion.
  3. ‘Pining for authority’.  This is not really the creation of a new authority, as described above, but a reaction to its absence in which one has a longing for what isn’t there.  In so doing, it as if establishes a form of an authority – the ‘negative authority’.  This authority does not really exist but is a condition created by its absence making it a false form of authority.  A person basically yearns or pin’s for authority.   This ‘pining for authority’ makes up a lot of the ‘personal existential dilemma’.  In fact, I tend to feel that the existential dilemma is primarily ‘pining for authority’, at least in some form.  This pining causes the desperation, anguish, and despair that is such a big part of the existential dilemma.

Unfortunately, all the ‘pseudo-authorities’, described above, have largely failed.  They simply do not work that well.  Despite this, they still persist if for no other reason than the fact that there’s nothing else.  In this way, Western society is now dealing with a new form of authority:  the ‘pseudo-authority-because-there-is-no-other-alternative’.  In other words, we are no longer dealing with a ‘naturally appearing authority’ in society anymore but, rather, a multitude of pretend authorities.  The question is if I “accept” it or not more than the fact that it is authority.

Because this new form of  authority is based in what one “accepts” we could speak of a ‘whim-based pseudo-authority’.  In other words, what determines what is authority is our “whims” at the moment.  This has created a condition where much of society, nowadays, is based in “catering to whims”, primarily to gain the “acceptance” that it is authority.  This is seen a lot with politicians (particularly during voting season), the media, and consumerism.  In other words, things are now catering to peoples whims so they will “accept” them as authority.

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Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Christian conversion, Existence: Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Historical stuff, Modern life and society, Philosophy | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on fighting with nunchaku’s

Nunchaku

(Different types of nunchaku’s.  From Wikipedia.com)

I have always been interested in nunchaku’s.  Normally, people get interested in them by watching Bruce Lee.  Though I have seen Bruce Lee with nunchaku’s, and thought they were neat, I don’t think that is what got me interested in them.  I believe this came from going to all these martial arts stores when I was a kid.  I looked at books on nunchaku’s and thought they were neat weapons.  They were so simple and look so innocent.  This made them particularly unusual.  They do not have the normal image of a weapon which, in a way, was probably what most interested me about them.  I was also fascinated about all the different movements and things that could take place with these simple weapons.  In addition, despite their looking simple, they were quite a weapon and could do a lot of damage and even kill a person.   All these things made this weapon interesting to me.

Bruce Lee nunchaku

(Bruce Lee in “The Chinese Connection”, my favorite film of his.)

I’ve always felt that most peoples view of fighting with nunchaku’s is what I would call ‘theatrical fighting’.  No doubt, Bruce Lee had a hand in this.  In a way, it made nunchaku’s a form of a performance or show.  This ‘theatrical fighting’ with nunchaku’s seems to primarily consists of things like this:

  • ‘Flipping’ the nunchaku’s around excessively.
  • Repetetively changing from one hand to another.
  • Using big arcs and movements.
  • Using unnecessary positions and movements.

Stuff, such as these, makes nunchaku’s look really neat and impressive.  But I always felt that a real fight would be totally different.  I’ve never seen an actual fight, of course, but it seems that it would require different priorities and concerns than is found in ‘theatrical fighting’ creating a whole new form of behavior and action.  In fact, I can see it being something totally different.

To begin with, it seems to me that there are three main points in actual fighting with nunchaku’s:

  1. ‘Control, control, control’.  Fighting with nunchaku’s is nothing but control.  Because of this, one must avoid things, and movements, that decrease ones control.  This would be most of the bulk of ‘theatrical fighting’.
  2. ‘Safety, safety, safety’.  That is to say, one must use them in such a way that one doesn’t get hurt.  This may sound easy but its not.  A big part of learning nunchaku’s, I think, is learning to handle them safely.
  3. Be directed in ones actions.  When you make a movement make it count.  Nunchaku’s are no weapon to do frivilous actions with.

Some aspects of these are:

Do not ‘flip’ the nunchaku’s around excessively.  The reason for this is that once its in motion it has to finish its motion.  In effect, when ‘flipped’ the nunchaku is out-of-control . . . you are at the mercy of its movement.  You might be able to alter its movement, to some extent, but it primarily has a life of its own.  Because of this, its best if there is minimal ‘flipping’.

Not only that, if you have to move while its in motion (which, I suspect, happens in real fights) you may actually move yourself into the nunchaku’s movement and hit yourself!

Use single action movements.  Try to limit movements to one action as much as possible.  This makes the nunchaku more in ones control.  In addition, it makes ones effort more directed and ‘final’.

Use your dominant hand for the main motions.  The dominant hand allows for more control and directedness in ones actions.  Use the non-dominant hand more for supportive motions or only as necessary.

When making a movement, make it strong, forceful, and decisive.  With ‘theatrical fighting’ almost all movements are done as if casually as the intention is to flip it around for show.  Basically, the nunchaku’s are just moved about the place with little strength and force.  In actual fighting, I’d think that you’d want to make each strike count as much as possible.  Because of this, one would want to put more force and energy in each movement.

Another reason for a strong, forceful, and decisive movement is that it makes the free end of the nunchaku’s more determined in its course and thereby follow a specific path.  This will help prevent the free end ‘flipping’ around unpredictably, even after a hit.

Avoid changing from one hand to another.  When one changes hands with the nunchaku’s, one actually loses an element of control and may even lose control of the nunchaku’s completely.

Learn how to stop the movement of the nunchaku’s with the body.  Because of the high movement of the free end of the nunchaku, one has to be adept at stopping its motion.  This often entails letting it hit part of the body, such as the shoulder or leg.  This is often best done by having the end of the free nunchaku closest to the rope or chain hit the body.  In any motion, one must have a means to stop it on ones body.  Therefore, all actions really entail three elements:

  1. Setting up for the motion.
  2. Making the motion.
  3. Stopping the motion.

Of course, one must learn to stop the nunchaku without hurting ones own body.  Since this is so critical it seems like this should entail a lot of the practice on nunchaku’s.

Learn different ways to slow the nunchaku’s movement down while in motion.  One way to do this is to ‘flip’ the nunchaku in a circle while in mid motion.  This movement sometimes ‘absorbs’ some of the motion making it slow down abit.

Another technique, that can sometimes work, is to quickly move the nunchaku in a direction that is not in its originally intended movment.  In this way, it disrupts the normal movement of the free end of the nunchaku.  If this is done, in mid-action, it can sometimes slow the movement down abit.  For example, if a person ‘flips’ the nunchaku downward and then quickly moves the nunchaku outward, for example, it disrupts the movement enough that it can sometimes slow it down.  Usually, though, you have to be careful where the free end of the nunchaku goes.

I’ve always felt that, to have any effect, a person has to primarily aim at an exposed bone on the opponents body.  Hitting body mass, such as muscle, will hurt but I don’t think it will automatically incapacitate a person (though I’m sure it can if done properly).  If one hits an exposed bone (such as the shin or ulna bone of the arm) one may very well break it or, at the least, make it hurt horribly, which can bring someone to their knees.  Hitting someone on the head may crack their skull and possibly kill a person.  What this means is that the nunchaku seems to have three ‘hit zones and effects':

  1. Cause pain – hit body mass such as muscle.
  2. Break bones – hitting an exposed bone.
  3. Death – hitting the skull.

Because of this, we see that nunchaku’s are only deadly in a limited sense, but it can cause a lot of pain.

Remember that the nunchaku’s don’t always have to be ‘flipped’ to be useful.  ‘Theatrical fighting’ emphasizes movements of the nunchaku’s making it seem that this is all it can do.  They can be used in many other ways such as blocking the opponents weapon or to hit the opponent.   In fact, I often wonder if this should be the main orientation of the nunchaku’s, with the ‘flipping’ done only at certain oppurtunities and times.  In this case, the nunchaku’s would be handled something like a double stick weapon most of the time (which happens to have a rope/chain connecting the two pieces).  In that way, they are ‘flipped’ sparingly and only as needed.

The nunchaku’s are limited as a defense.  The length of each end of the nunchaku is only about as long as ones forearm (something like 12-14″).  This does not give much defense against attack.  It would be like defending oneself by two small sticks.  In addition, having two pieces of wood connected by a rope/chain doesn’t off much either.  I’ve always felt that this limited defense capability was one of the nunchaku’s main weaknesses.  This is why I always felt that, in actual fighting with nunchaku’s, one will want to try, as soon as possible, to make a decisive strike upon ones opponent.  In other words, one should try to bring the fight to a close as soon as one can otherwise the opponent may be able to use the nunchaku’s weakness as a defense to his benefit.

The great strengths of the nunchaku’s are its longer reach and that a strike can be damaging.  The free end of the nunchaku extends the weapon quite aways, even beyond some weapons.  Not only that, the movement of the free end, with its momentum, has a damaging effect.  In fact, it has the potential of being more damaging than many weapons, such as a staff or even a sword whose strength is in its cutting ability.  One could very well say that the momentum, caused by the movement of the free end, IS the main strength of the nunchaku.  Because of this, any fighting with the nunchaku should take advantage of this capability and use it as effectively as possible.

The power of the nunchaku is in the momentum created by the rotation of the free end, caused by two rotation points:  the rope/chain and ones joints.  The rope/chain offers a very small and restricted rotation point with a small arc.  By itself, it can’t really achieve much momentum to be effective.  Ones joints, on the other hand, offer many variations and forms of rotation points.  This is because there are a multitude of joints and combinations of movements originating from the wrist, elbow, shoulder, and even waist.  A movement of the nunchaku from ones joints tends to make the nunchaku swing in a greater arc than the rope/chain by itself.  As a result, it develops great momentum.  A typical movement of the nunchaku, though, entails rotation from both points – rope/chain and ones joints – which as if gains the benefits of both rotation points and, in a way, amplifying it.  Because of this, in any movement one wants to try to ‘flip’ the free end (that is, cause a rotation about the rope/chain) and rotate the nunchaku about ones joints.  In general, the movement of ones joints will follow the rotation of the free end of the nunchaku.  In a movement with great force the movement of the joint may actually go faster than the movement of the free end to the point that the free end is actually pulled by the rope/chain making it as if follow along.  Probably the most powerful, and used, joints are the shoulder and elbow, which are generally used in conjunction.

With all this, it seems that an actual fight with nunchaku’s would probably entail little ‘theatrical’ or showy movement.  In fact, it may entail very little movement, only quick sudden actions.  This would give a whole new image to nunchaku fighting .

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Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Other stuff, Stuff involving me, The military and war | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the ‘experience gap’ – the importance of experience in “personhood”

Here’s a thought I had:

I often speak of what I call the ‘experience gap’.  This basically refers to a condition where we are seeking or relying on an experience that we never had.  Because of this, the experience is replaced by other things, such as concepts and ideas – mental fabrications – which give the illusion of experience.  As a result, we develop what can be described as an ‘experience-as-mental-fabrication point of view’.  In this way, the experience becomes an abstract mental fabrication and, therefore, is not a “real” experience in any way.  We tend to treat it as real and, in so doing, we deceive ourselves.

The ‘experience gap’ shows that there are two conditions:

  1. The ‘false-experience’ condition.
  2. The ‘actual experience’ condition.

The ‘false-experience’ condition is when it is just something ‘imagined’, usually, or that is ‘abstract’ . . . something considered to be true but not a reality. In other words, it is an experience that did not take place.  The ‘false-experience’ condition sets the stage for the ‘experience-as-mental-fabrication’ point of view.  The ‘actual experience’ condition, on the other hand, means that it has been experienced.

In actuality, most people live in the ‘false-experience’ condition most of the time, particularly nowadays.  This is particularly aggravated by things such as:

  • TV and media
  • Too much news
  • Too many ideas
  • Too much learning
  • The social media

Things, such as these, tend to cause a prevalence of things like:

  • Imitation
  • Abstraction
  • Information
  • An absence of actual doing

These tend to create a condition that promotes mental fabrications of experience, creating an illusion of experience.  This is basically the ‘experience gap’.  Being devoid of ‘actual experience’ we could speak of an ‘experience poverty’ that the ‘experience gap’ creates.  This may progress, with some people, to what can be called an ‘experience starvation’ where people are so desiring of experience but can’t seem to achieve it.  My observation is that people who reach this state will continue to seek experience in mental fabrications which is actually what caused the problem in the first place.  Because of this, it becomes like a viscious circle that goes around and around and gets nowhere.  Perhaps we could call this the ‘circle of the experience gap’?

Problems, such as these, are far more serious than it may, at first, appear.  The reason why this is so serious is because we ‘become our experiences’.  We rely and need experiences to live, grow, and become someone.  We do not become what we imitate, what we think, or what we know (that is, mental fabrications do not make us a person).  In many ways, “personhood” is found in experience.

This fact shows a close association between the person and experience.  But, as I mentioned above, the person is based in experience making experience an integral part of the person.  Because of this, one could say that the “person” is made up of two elements:

  1. The self.
  2. Experience.

This makes it so that the association between the self and experience is critical.

But what is the quality that makes this association?

It is relevancy.

Basically, the self, by its nature, is something that is removed from experience.  Because of this, it needs something to connect itself with experience and unite them into one.  Relevancy establishes this connection.  It makes the experience important to the self, establishing an association.  Personhood, then, needs relevancy to make experience important and meaningful.  Without it, experience tends to have no value.  This connection is the ‘person-relevancy condition’.   To put it another way, relevancy allows the experience to be “absorbed” into the self.  This “absorption” becomes “personhood”.  So we see this pattern:

self>>>>>relevancy>>>>>experience

This association creates the person.  But, in the ‘experience gap’, relevancy is removed creating this condition:

self>>>>>>>>>>experience

The lack of relevancy makes it so that experience is not “absorbed”, creating a ‘gap’ in experience:  the ‘experience gap’.  When this happens there developes a ‘dilemma of personhood’ as one of the qualities of personhood is missing.  In effect, personhood is disrupted, altered, or prevented.  Because of this, the ‘dilemma of personhood’ creates a number of problems such as:

  • Anxiety and despair.
  • An absence of growth.
  • A sense of detachment . . . alienation.
  • A sense of artificiality.
  • A tendency to blind following of things, such as trend.

In other words, the ‘experience gap’ tends to cause various forms of mental problems and dilemma’s.  This is because it disrupts with “personhood”.  This shows that relevancy is very important in a persons life.  This is why it is wise for a person to seek relevancy in life.  This must be done in a variety of ways such as:

  • Active relevancy – finding relevancy in what one does.
  • Observational relevancy – seeing meaning in things.
  • Passive relevency – finding meaning in what happens to us.

This shows that there are different forms and grades of finding relevancy and meaning.  In other words, a person doesn’t just “find” meaning and that’s that.  To truly find relevancy and meaning is to discover the many different forms of it.

Another significant aspect of relevancy is what I call “para-experience”.   These do not consist of experience, itself, but are qualities that as if supports, guides, and buttresses experience.  Because “para-experience” is so closely associated with relevancy it can be as important, or even more important in some cases, than “actual experience”.  This is because “para-experience” as if aligns or directs experience to a good end.  In this way, “para-experience” is critical in giving experience a relevancy.

“Para-experience” seems to have two main forms:

  1. Social “para-experience”.  This primarily says that society determines a lot of relevancy and meaning in experience.  Examples include culture, belief, social framework, etc.
  2. Personal “para-experience”.  A persons character and personality can have great impact on ones “absorption” of experience and its relevancy.  Examples include awareness of ones situation, the framework and context of what one does things, how one views ones worth in what one does, one emotional state, etc.

Both of these, really, seem to consist of the creation of a number of qualities:

  • A persons “stance”.  That is, how they see themselves in the scheme of things.
  • A persons “attitude”.  This is the general way in which a persons looks at things.
  • A persons “awareness”.  This is how much a person knows what’s going on.

These, in a sense, are the qualities of “para-experience”.   Through these qualities experience is aligned and directed, helping to give relevancy to experience.

An absence, or distortion, of these qualities (the “para-experience”) can create an ‘experience gap’ even though a person may do things (that is, have experience).  Without the “para-experience” to guide and direct it experience can become almost worthless and have no meaning.  Perhaps we could call this particular type of “gap” the ‘para-experience gap’?

A good example of this is how a person who has no culture to give their experience meaning has a similar reaction as the ‘experience gap’.  What this means is that even with experience the absence of the qualities to support it and give it meaning can have the same effect as not having the experience!

Another example is the following of ideals.  When a person “does things”, because its the ideal, it tends to create an ‘experience gap’ (some examples of that, seen in this society, is a lot of sports, going to the University, and such).  This is because a person is “doing things” because of the abstract idea of “its the ideal”.  The focus is on the ideal not the experience.  This makes the experience “less than experience”.

The ‘para-experience gap’, because of its nature, can create unique effects such as:

  • An emptiness in life
  • A meaninglessness.
  • A feeling that one has done nothing in life.
  • A sense of not being connected.
  • A nihilism, a belief in nothing.
  • A poor view of life.
  • A narrow view of life.

So we can see that the ‘para-experience gap’ can have great impact on how one lives.  In fact, it can make life miserable.  This is because its absence leaves a big hole in a persons life . . . something it missing . . . ones experience has no value.

The existence of ‘para-experience’ tends to create what can be described as ‘character’.  One could say that character is the “absorption” of the ‘para-experience’ into ones self.   In other words, character shows the impact the ‘para-experience’  has on ones personality, personhood, and self . . . it “absorbs” it making the ‘para-experience’ part of its nature.  In this way, ‘para-experience’ is critical for the development, growth, and health of “personhood”.  This is why things like culture, belief, and being genuine to ones self are so important.  In short, for character to “work” a person must:

  • Believe in something (like a religion, a world view, etc.).
  • Belong to something (like a culture, a people, etc.).
  • Be a ‘person’ (that is, participate in life and uphold themselves).

In ways, such as these, character develops in a person allowing the ‘para-experience’ to manifest itself.

Character can be described as a ‘pre-ordained’ way of reacting or, to put it another way, a “guided reaction” or, perhaps, a “guided experience”.  It does this by creating a pre-established way or pattern of reacting and doing things.  This makes it so that a person “knows”, at least deep down (and usually unconsciously), how one will react and do things.  This creates several effects:

  • It builds and grows with experience.
  • It creates a confidence.

In these ways, character as if “builds a person up”. It ends up helping a person in life, helping one to adapt and grow with life.

One of the unfortunate effects of character, though, is that it becomes limited.  The ‘pre-ordained’ reacting to things becomes monotonous and one sided over time.  It may make a person ‘rigid’ and predictable, decreasing any spontaneity and originality.  It often leads to ‘habit’ in experience.  This seems to be a problem as a person ages, in particular.  This can become an ‘experience gap’ in itself.  Perhaps we could call this the ‘over-character gap’?  In this way, it shows that there is actually a “climax” with character and its effects.  In other words, it follows this pattern following ones age:

  • No character – birth to late childhood
  • Growing character – late childhood to adulthood
  • Climax of character and its effects – adulthood
  • Decreasing effect of character – late adulthood to early old age
  • Rigidity (the ‘over-character gap’) – early old age to death

Character appears to “climax” in adulthood (about the 20’s to 40’s).  In other words, old age, itself, creates an ‘experience gap’ by the growing rigidity of character (the ‘over-character gap’).  Perhaps we could speak of this as the ‘old age experiential gap’?  This ‘over-character’ is probably what makes people “old”.  They become more narrow-like, limited, and lacking in spontaneity.  This makes them appear detached, unconnected, and such.  Interestingly, these are signs of the ‘para-experience gap’ described above.  In other words, in old age it often happens that character, which is the result of ‘para-experience’, ends up becoming so strong that it ends up creating a ‘para-experience gap’.  This, of course, is the ‘over-character gap’.

With the “climax” of character it seems that experience becomes a “full experience”.  Here, everything is mixed together in the correct way like a bowl of soup (the self, “personhood”, experience, relevancy, ‘para-experience’, character, etc.).  Often, this is perceived as “living”.  As one ages this period of time is often looked at nostalgically and can be spoken of as “back in the day”.

But, as the ‘over-character gap’ develops and grows there often becomes a splitting of the self.  This splitting seems to be a result of the fact that the rigidity of the  ‘over-character’ becomes so strong that it begins to “strangle” the self.  As a result, the self as if “detaches” itself and becomes separate.  This creates a new orientation of the self or, perhaps, a ‘new self’ begins to appear as a response.  This new orientation of the self tends to be a moving away from experience in the outer world and a growing development of a more interior-based self.  A person becomes more self-absorbed.  Their experience and views often becomes the measure of everything.  There begins to be a growing rift or division between the world and the self.  This can go to such an extent, in old extreme age, that the outer world practically disappears.  Perhaps we could speak of this as the ‘post-character self-absorbed self’?

One of the effects of the ‘post-character self-absorbed self’ is the deterioration of the “full experience”.   Life seems “less lived” or “less vivacious”.  For some people, life may of even seemed to of “died”.  This can become one of the dilemma’s of growing old.

We must keep I mind that a person cannot truly experience everything they do.  In addition, a person should not seek to experience everything to the fullest.  That’s as bad as having no experience.  Its simply too much.  Instead, one should seek experience that is relevant.  To put it another way, a person should seek quality in experience.  One could very well say that a “full experience” is experience that is relevant to the person, giving it quality.

Another aspect of the “full experience” is the need for awareness.  A good example of this is something that happened to me.  In my twenties I suffered from a lot of anxiety.  During this time I was Mr. Scholar, studying this and that.  I became very ‘cranial’ and learned a lot about things.  That is to say, I became too abstract dealing with ideas, information, and such.  And then, one day, I had this strange sense that I had become too ‘cranial’ and have become alienated from my self in some way.  And so, what I did is to sit and observe myself doing things.  That is to say, I’d become aware of everything I did.  I no longer brushed my teeth, for example, but became aware of myself brushing my teeth.  When I reached up to open the door I became aware of my hand reaching up to reach the handle.  In short, I became aware of what I did, however small.  Once I did this, I found that a number of things happened, such as:

  • My anxiety went down.
  • I seemed to be more “in the word”.
  • I seemed more “in tune” with life.
  • I seemed to grow and develop.
  • I felt more of a person.

In short, I had developed an ‘experience-as-mental-fabrication point of view’, because I spent too much time thinking and studying, which created, in me, an ‘experience gap’ which deprived me of a “personhood”.  This caused me anxiety.  Only by becoming aware of the experience of living did this anxiety go down.  This shows that, sometimes, just the lack of awareness can cause an ‘experience gap’.

This lack of awareness can be caused by a number of things:

  • Not being aware.
  • Having other things that interfere with awareness (such as my studying and thinking too much).

This shows a close association between experience and awareness.  In other words, to experience one must be aware of the experience.  I spoke of similar things in “Thoughts on ‘Practicing Awareness’“.

In actuality, the ‘experience gap’ can be described as a form of dehumanization and alienation.  This is particularly so as a lot of this is caused by the condition of the times (too much info, machines doing too much, etc.).  In so doing, it degrades the person and as if undermines them causing problems with growth and development, as described above.

We see, then, that the ‘experience gap’ reveals the complexity of experience as well as its importance.  It also shows how many things can interfere with experience and that it can have great impact on a person.  More importantly, it shows the importance of having a good healthy relevant quality experience.

——————

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Dehumanization and alienation, Existence: Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Life in general, Philosophy, Psychology and psychoanalysis | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the three most influential men in my life and their significance to me – Newton, Freud, St. Antony – and the “great inquiry”

In my life there have been three influential men in my life.  Initially, I thought this meant nothing significant but that they only had a quality that influenced me for some reason.  But now, after all these years, I tend to think differently.  I can see that they had great and tremendous influence to the point that they, really, helped determine the direction of my life.

THE THREE MEN

In actuality, as I reflect on it, I can see that these three men did not necessarily cause a change in me but, rather, they represented a quality that was already in meBecause of this, I ‘identified’ with them and, in a sense, saw myself in them.  In this way, they became a reflection of me, more than anything else.  In my ‘identifying’ with them they gave a ‘means’ for these inner qualities to appear, allowing them to come out.  In this way, my ‘identification’ with them helped to give these inner qualities a direction and meaning.  It is for this reason that they have had great power in my life.

The three men are:

Newton

(Isaac Newton.  Painting by Godfrey Kneller, 1689)

1. Isaac Newton

It was in grade school that I saw a documentary on Isaac Newton.  This was some time in the late 1970’s.  For some reason, there was something about him that attracted me.  I began to like him and have ever since.

For years, though, I thought that I liked him because of his intellectualism and how he thought about things.  Recently, I’ve begun to realize that there is actually another reason.  Interestingly, it took 40 years to realize this (it shows how slow I am).  The quality I admired in Isaac Newton is that he inquired for the sake of inquiring.  In other words, he had no ulterior motives.  He did not seek money or fame or even a desire to make a discovery.  In other words, what attracted me to Isaac Newton is his honest and pure inquiring for the joy of inquiring.  When I look back on my life I can see that I moulded my life on this idea.  I have sought, for 40 years now, to inquire for the sure joy of it and for no other reason.  Its rather interesting that I’ve only realized this after a lifetime of following it.

As part of this inquiry I cannot express the importance of honesty and purity here.  That is to say, it must be done to satisfy an inner need only, not for social benefits (like status) or monetary benefit.  This makes it a very personal and deep affair, hitting to the depths of ones soul.  These qualities of honesty and purity I have never seen in any other person.  As far as I know I’m the only one who “preaches” it.

Freud 1921 2

(Sigmund Freud, 1921)

2. Sigmund Freud

In the mid 1980’s I became interested in psychology and, subsequently, in Sigmund Freud.  I even intended to become a Psychoanalyst for a period of time.  Naturally, I would practice a ‘self-analysis’ as part of learning psychoanalysis.  This would have great effect on me.

Looking back on it now I can see how Sigmund Freud and ‘self-analysis’ taught me a number of things:

  1. The free association of psychoanalysis taught me to let things come out naturallyThis emphasized, again, the importance of honesty and purity in what I was doing.  I could not distort things but let them happen in a natural way being pure and honest about it.
  2. Analysis taught me to watch for whatever appeared I had to be observant and watchful for the things I felt, thought, said, and did.
  3. It taught me to find a meaning out of the things that appeared.  I had to put what often appeared as a bungled mess into an order with meaning and value.  I also had to put them into a greater context.
  4. Analysis taught me inner inquiryI had to be an ‘observer of myself’ and look within myself.

In other words, what attracted me to Freud was the means for inner inquiry and the use of a technique and the putting of everything into a greater meaning.  These have had great impact on me to this very day.

Antony the great

(St. Antony the Great of Egypt)

3. St. Antony the Great

My interest in monastacism, beginning in about 1990, introduced me to St. Antony the Great, who was the first hermit monk in Egypt.  He had great influence on me and still does.  His life I admire and respect.

Looking back on it now it seems that I was attracted to several things in St. Antony the Great:

  1. He abandoned the worldThis taught me that one can go beyond the world and look into areas one did not realize was there.
  2. He revealed to me the power of mysteryI was able to see that things were beyond me and to appreciate it.  This taught me a whole new way at looking at the world.
  3. He taught me courage All this required a courage as one is as if walking blind in the world.
  4. He taught me contemplation.  Through him I would begin to see what contemplation is.

He was the one who helped me to ‘turn away’ from convential logical thought and to go beyond ones society, viewpoints, and self.  This is because he, of course, abandoned everything and went to live in the desert.  As a result, St. Antony became a model for ‘pushing the limits’ and ‘facing the unknown’.

THE IMPORTANCE OF LOVING MENTORS AND THE CREATION OF THE ‘GREAT INQUIRY’

Each one of these men I loved.  That it to say, they weren’t just “guys” to me . . . they were like mentors.  I loved who they were and what they did.  I would learn about their lives and looked up to them.  Looking back on it now I can see that this love was, perhaps, the most important aspect of them.  Without it I don’t think they would of ever had the impact that they had.

I should point out that this love was not for the person himself (all of who died before I was born and of which I only knew through books).  I loved what they represented within me.  In this way, I actually loved the representation.  This made it so that the representation became, in a sense, my mentor.

Because it was a representation it went beyond the person and what they did.  As I got older, I began to find that these representations actually referred to something in particular . . . they referred to an association with the world.  That is to say, each mentor represented a specific way of relating with the world.  Not only that, the representation each represented referred to an active me-world association.  Because of this, the associations they represented had the effect of “opening the world” to me.  This made it so that the love I had for the mentors became a love for these associations and, accordingly, the world.  In effect, the love I felt ended up becoming a combination of many things:

  • A self-love (or, rather, a self-respect).
  • A love of another person (mentor).
  • A love of an active association with the world.
  • A love of the world.

All this is as if combined into one.  This turned this love into a very broad form of love ranging from me to the world.  In so doing, it as if united me and all the world into a single “entity” to love.  This gave the three mentors a unifying quality and an avenue for a love of the world and a way to love the world.

The particular avenue of love that appeared to me, and which they represented (which reflected me deep down), is what I call the “great inquiry”.   This form of love began with Isaac Newton, who initiated it.  He began a process of the “great inquiry” which included these qualites:

  • A “looking into”, of inquiry, of searching, of questing.
  • A finding of “wonder” in things.
  • A “making sense” of things.
  • A participation, a doing.

In this way, one could say that he initiated the seeking and questing that makes up the inquiry.

I should point out that the “great inquiry” is not really an “inquiry”, as you’d normally think, but much more.  In the “great inquiry” I am not inquiring to “learn” or to “find things out”, nor am I trying to find information or knowledge.  This isn’t some school research project.  In actuality, the “great inquiry” is more of an expression of love.  This gives it a whole new quality.  Over the years I’ve found that its this love that I am actualing “inquiring” about.  I seek and quest for it.  In that way, in the “great inquiry” I am actually inquiring for a means or avenue to associate and love the world.  In other words, I am seeking to continue the association with the world that the mentors started . . . I am continuing off where the mentors ended, and in my own “special way”.

Keep in mind that a significant part of the “great inquiry” is the means of associating with the world.  In actuality, this association with the world is the avenue for love . . . its how the love is manifested and displayed.  This is why the mentors were so important as they showed me this association and, through this association, I had a means to love the world.  This makes it so that the “great inquiry” is actually an inquiring or seeking for the ‘correct’ way to associate and love the world.

Not only that, anything that comes from the “great inquiry”, such as any “insight”, “discovery”, or “learning”, is just a confirmation of that love.  Its as if the world is saying, “yes, we love you too” by giving me something in return.  This makes this association:

association>>>>confirmation

In this way, confirmation as if “completes” the association, making it whole.  As a result, a big part of the “great inquiry” is that I need to gain “something” as a form of this confirmation.  This usually is a form of discovery of some form (be it “insight”, “knowledge”, or whatever).  Because of this, the “great inquiry” is a perpetual endless discovering of things.  In some sense, its this “discovering” that makes it like an “inquiry”. 

To me, the greatest form of this “discovering” is inspiration, the seeking of things that seem to “come from nowhere”.  Because of this, the “great inquiry” has become a seeking of inspiration for me (for aspects of inspiration see “Thoughts on Seeking Inspiration“, “On how I really don’t know what I’m talking about – the seeking of inspiration, ‘active knowing’, and character“, and “Thoughts on how I perceive the world – inspiration and the “I don’t know” – with remarks about Socrates, philosophy, Odin, and belief“.  In general, knowledge, facts, and information are not something I look at highly.  They are just ‘things’, inanimate and dead.  They do not entail “participation”, just “integration” of these things into ones mind (that is, you just “know it” or “learn it”).  Since the “great inquiry” is about association, as I said above, it needs more than that . . . an association needs “participation”.  Inspiration entails a “participation” . . . it comes from within and one must bring it out.  In that way, its like a creation of something and a pulling out of something that lies within.  One of the effects of this is that inspiration causes a transformation.  That is to say, it requires a process where it becomes “a part of you” and changes you (for example, see “Thoughts on the process of comprehension“).  Knowledge, facts, and information, on the other hand, are things that one only “knows” and they do not create transformation.  As a result of this, the “great inquiry” becomes an inquiry into the transformation of ones self.  So we see that the “great inquiry” is more than inquiring after facts and information but a change in ones self, to become a different person. 

Another thing thats unique about the “great inquiry”, I’ve found, is that it is actually a seeking of an awareness.  In other words, its like an inquiry to find a new awareness of life or, more properly, a specific state of mind.  I often speak of this specific state of mind as ‘poesy’ (see “Thoughts on what I call Poesy” and “Thoughts on how I am not an intellectual – the coming of ‘Poesy’ and the seeking of a state of mind“).  In this way, I am not inquiring for information or knowledge.  In the “great inquiry” I am actually inquiring for a specific state of mind.  This awareness and state of mind becomes a great avenue for associating and loving the world.

Its interestingly that the last mentor ends with St. Antony the Great, who devoted himself to the love of God.  This is not surprising as the world and God are really the same.  As a result, the love of the world is the love of God making the “great inquiry” a form of loving God.  In this way, it can be very profound and deep in nature.

All in all, the “great inquiry” places me in the world as part of an existing and living world.  It establishes me, as a person, in the greater context of the world and with an association and means to associate with the world.  In that sense, the “great inquiry” is an inquiry into myself, the world, and myself-in-the-world.  As a result of all this, we see that the “great inquiry” entails many different qualities such as:

  • A seeking of an assocation with world.
  • A seeking of inspiration.
  • A transformation of self.
  • A seeking of a specific state of mind.
  • A love of god.
  • A placing of me in the world as a living reality.

All these are under the “blanket”, so to speak, of a generalized love that began with the love of the mentors.

So, you see, the love toward the three mentors was instrumental and crucial . . . without it, what use would they of been?  Through the love of them, and what they represented to me, I was able to discover a specific way to associate with the world which became, for me, an expression of love and an active association with the world.

———————

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Inspiration, free association, and intuition, People, Philosophy, Poesy - Seeking a state of mind, Stuff involving me | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on the symbol I use for contemplation – describing the act and traits of contemplation

Over the years an image kept appearing in my head.  It revolved around contemplation and the awareness of the world.  It developed over a long period of time (about 20 years).  Why it began to appear in my mind I cannot say.  But, it has stuck and has developed quite a lot of meaning to me.  Its not uncommon for me to use it as a ‘guide’ to help me as it became a representation of the ‘act’ of contemplation and the general stance of contemplation.

Interestingly, I have always had difficulty defining contemplation.  It seems to continually change and never remains constant.  Not only that, I’m always saying new things about it.  This has made it so that I, oddly enough, am always having to redefine and rethink what contemplation is.  As a result, contemplation is a varied and changing quality.  I would say that, in general, contemplation has qualities such as these:

  • It is an ordered state of mind, a ‘controlled consciousness’, so to speak.  It is something ‘practiced’ and performed by someone.  In many ways, it is an exercising of certain qualities of the mind to create a different perception of the world and self awareness.  As such, contemplation can be compared to an exercise.
  • Contemplation has become a particular stance in life, a way of looking at the world.   This tendency, I think, is natural if one practices contemplation.
  • I tend to feel that certain people are inclined to practice a contemplative attitude and way.  In other words, contemplation is often a reflection of a specific type of character.  This makes it very person-specific.  People who are not inclined to it do not do it and generally can’t understand it.   

“Contemplation” is actually a form of prayer in Christianity.  I learned it when I wanted to become a monk.  I wanted to join the Camaldolese Benedictine or Carthusian Order (both are hermit orders). I was particularly fond of contemplation as taught by Pseud0-Dionysius, “The Cloud of Unknowing”, St. John of the Cross, Brother Lawrence, and Miguel Molinos, among others.  These generally taught a mysticism, of an ‘unknowingness’ of god, a dominant theme of being aware of god as the base of everything, as well as a wordless expression of love.  This is something that I seemed to take to quite easily, almost instinctively.

After I decided not to join a monastery I still continued to practice it, but in an altered form.  This shows, I think, that contemplation somehow ‘spoke’ to me as a person . . . it was something I was compelled to do, not because of religion or belief but because “I” needed it for some reason.  Over the years it continually changed and has now gone in a whole other direction than the original Christian contemplation becoming, in some way, something totally different.  Despite this, I still continue to call it “contemplation”, which it, in actuality, really is one the whole . . . its just changed abit.

Contemplation led me onto things such as shamanism (where the symbol first appeared – see below) which even made it go further from Christian mystical prayer and is something totally different.  I’ve written about shamanism in other articles in this blog (for example, see “A time when shamanistic ‘journeying’ scared me . . . I thought I was going mad: questioning shamanism – the ‘belief show’” and “Thoughts on defining shamanism: an ‘active belief system’“).

THE ACT OF CONTEMPLATION

The act of contemplation can be described by Pseudo-Dionysius in his book ‘Mystical Theology’:

“. . . dear Timothy, in the diligent exercise of mystical contemplation, leave behind the senses and the operations of the intellect, and all things sensible and intellectual, and all things in the world of being and nonbeing, that you may arise by unknowing towards the union, as far as is attainable, with it that transcends all being and all knowledge. For by the unceasing and absolute renunciation of yourself and of all things you may be borne on high, through pure and entire self-abnegation, into the super-essential Radiance of the Divine Darkness.”

I found myself doing this, almost as if by nature, by an event that took place in about 1990 (I’ve written about this event in various other articles in this blog).  I took a walk, by myself, into the woods.  While there I felt what I called the ‘presence’.  It was a sense of a ‘something’ about me that seemed ‘alive’.  I found myself yearning for this ‘presence’.  Almost, as if by nature, I would do what Pseudo-Dionysius describes.  I would focus my mind on the ‘presence’ and as if ‘forget’ about everything and myself.  The ‘presence’ became the focal point of my attention and being.  I found myself “lost” in this ‘presence’.  This act is basically contemplation.

THE DEVELOPMENT OF THE SYMBOL

The symbol which has developed, is this:

Contemplation symbol

The slow development of this symbol is quite revealing in what contemplation means and why specific things represent what they do.  I think it also shows the natural tendency, when dealing with mystery, of assigning ’emblems’ or ‘symbols’ for things of a mysterious nature.  This tendency seems innate as people have been doing it since the beginning of time all over the world.

The first image that appeared to me was, I believe, in the mid-90’s or thereabouts.  It appeared during my “very” shamanistic days, where I’d sit for long periods of time in the woods and ‘shamanize’ (or, at least, try to).  During these times, it often seemed that I bordered on madness.  Because of this ‘shamanizing’ something like a mythology appeared about the world and how it worked, as often seems to happen with shamans.  Since this mythology is personal in origin I speak of this as ‘personal mythology’.  In many ways, this symbol is an offshoot of that personal mythology.

It was during one period of ‘shamanizing’ that this image flashed through my mind:

Contemplation symbol_tree

I knew almost automatically what it meant.  It is based on the mythology that had appeared during that time.  The two half circles represents the image of the ‘great tree’, as I called it (the top being the leaves, the bottom the roots, the center is the trunk).  To me, the ‘great tree’ held the world together.  It holds two opposites together (represented by leaves and roots) and kept them in their place.  I first saw it in a shaministic journey dream and was surprised that this same image was common in shamanism.  The two circles represented who I call the ‘great parentage’, namely the mother and father in nature.   It also has representation of opposites as well, as the tree reflects opposites as do the mother and father.  As I reflect on it now, it almost has a yin-yan quality though I didn’t see it that way then.  I often was struck how this image resembled a face (two eyes and a nose) and felt that was part of its symbology (the “face of existence”, of god).

Often, when I went in the woods to sit down I often got a stick and made this symbol in the ground.  In that way, it was almost like a ‘symbol of what I was there for’.  Often, I’d sit and look at it reflecting on its meaning.  As a result, I began to see more meaning and representation in it.  No doubt, it led on to the greater elaboration of it and the ongoing symbols that would develop, as described below.

Over time, the representation of the ‘tree’ also became a representation of the self, as my growing mythology compared the self to a ‘tree’.  Just like the ‘great tree’, the self had to keep opposites together and maintain an integrity.  In this way, we are “kin” to the ‘great tree’, performing a similar function.  This made the symbol a representation of something about the self.  In other words, instead of seeing the world in it I also saw my self.  The more I saw the self in it the more it began to represent my self’s association with the world and, with this, the symbols began to grow and the symbol grew more complex.  In this way, the symbol began to represent contemplation.  This reveals some meaning in the nature of contemplation, that contemplation is, in actuality, a form of relationship between ones ‘personal self’ with the  ‘self of the world’ (meaning ‘existence’ or god).  This, in fact, may be the best definition of contemplation.  With this we can see three phases in the symbols development:

  1. The symbol as the world (the ‘great tree’ and ‘great parentage’).
  2. The symbol as self.
  3. The symbol as self’s association with world . . . contemplation.

With this, we can see that the symbol has developed a great depth and meaning through time.

At first, I thought the initial image just ‘appeared’ but, one day, I happened to look at one of my hats.  On it was a patch of the Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME).  I bought this hat from SNAME in the mid-1980’s when I wanted to be a Naval Architect.  I always had a great fondness for this patch (and still do).  Here is the emblem of SNAME:

Very prominently, in the middle, is the ‘midships’ symbol:

This symbol is used on ship plans to represent the center of the ship.  I knew that this symbol had a bearing on the symbol I developed as the similarity is more than obvious . . . the similarity is too striking.

Not only that, I have always felt my interest in ships has a relation to contemplation.  This is because contemplation, in some respects, is like being in a ship passing through existence and the mystery of life in ways such as this:

  • A ship on the sea can be compared to the self in existence.
  • Both the self and a ship travel in a far greater element (the sea and existence).  That is to say, they are as if specks in the element that they travel.
  • In both, a person is ‘enclosed’ and separated from the element that it is in.
  • In a ship one is aware of ones ship very prominently and in contemplation one is aware of ones self in existence.

In this way, even the origin of the symbol shows a ‘hidden meaning’ behind it that is quite revealing.

Interestingly, this symbol would reappear again when I became interested in Heraldry.  I, for fun, created my own coat of arms.  This is what I came up with (click to see):

Coat of Arms – Mike Michelsen

In this symbol I have shown a stylized symbol of a tree of which half is in the earth (below) and the other half in the air (above).  The tree, of course, represents the great parentage and the self.  This shows that this symbol had great meaning to me.  I also like to compare it to a keyhole, as if it is opening into a ‘new world’.  The motto (“Character first”) refers to the idea of maintaining ones self as a person in the world (character = self-in-the-world).

THE MEANING OF THE SYMBOL

Each part of the symbol has a meaning and represents something.  These are shown below:Contemplation symbol_notation

Each part describes a specific function that is important in contemplation.  These are:

  1. The ‘Firmament’/Mystery.
  2. The “Presence”. 
  3. The “Passion”. 
  4. The “Emptiness”.
  5. The “Duality”. 
  6. The “Self”. 
  7. The “Ember”/Beingness.

All these elements, together, make up contemplation.

1. THE “FIRMAMENT”/MYSTERY

 Contemplation symbol_firmament

The “firmament” represents the unknown, that which we cannot nor will ever know.  It is, in effect, mystery and represents the unknowingness of life.  It, therefore, represents that which is ‘beyond us’, and ‘beyond human’.

Because the “firmament” is ‘beyond us’ we tend to disregard it.  There’s often a tendency  to completely neglect it.  But a big part of contemplation is being aware of it.  In other words, “I must know that I cannot know”.   This entails an ‘acknowledgement’ and ‘awareness’, which much be done regularly, that there is the unknown and that one will never know.

2. THE “PRESENCE”

Contemplation symbol_presence

This is a ‘sense’ of ‘something’ about us.  It is, really, the presence of god.  But, more importantly, it is a presence of something ‘living’ about us (which I call ‘living existence’), not that something is ‘just there’ (which I call ‘dead existence’).  This may sound trivial but it is very significant and critical.  Because of this, the ‘presence’ is often perceived as a person or a being.  Often, it has a quality of a parent, of something watching over us and protecting us.

In some respects, the ‘presence’ is a sense of the ‘firmament’ as ‘living’.  The ‘firmament’, by itself, is just a sense of mystery.  The ‘presence’ is much more than that but there are times when they blend together and become the same.

Interestingly, it is the feeling of the “presence”, in about 1990, that actually changed my life and turned me into a contemplative.  This little “sense” made one of the greatest impacts on my life.  This shows the power of the ‘presence’ and its importance.  In actuality, the ‘presence’ is the beginning and end of contemplation.  One could say that there are three stages in contemplation:

  1. One begins contemplation by becoming aware of the presence. 
  2. In becoming aware of the presence one goes through the ‘battle of contemplation’ which consists of the transformation and growth of the self (which are reflected in the symbols below) and the establishing of a relationship between ones ‘personal self’ and the ‘self of the world’ (meaning ‘existence’ or god).
  3. As a result of the ‘battle of contemplation’, and the growing relationship, one begins to become closer to the ‘presence’. 

In this way, one as if makes a great circle going ending where one began.  Of course, this circle never ends and continues on.

3. THE “PASSION”

Contemplation symbol_passion

I often describe this as the ‘force’ or ‘energy’ that moves things.  It is what I call the ‘livingness’ in life.  This sense is very important as contemplation is not just an awareness but an ‘absorbing of passion’ as well.  In many ways, this ‘absorbing of passion’ is what causes a transformation of self.

Notice how the passion flows from outside the presence to outside again.  This shows that it is a “mysterious force” which seems to have no beginning or end.  It is just there.

There are really two forms of ‘passion':

  1. The ‘passion of existence’.  This is the ‘passion’ that moves the world and is perceived as removed from us and separate.   
  2. The ‘passion of the self’.  This is the ‘passion’ within us, that has origin in us, and moves through us.
  3. The ‘passion of unity’.  This is the ‘passion’ of ‘existence’ and ‘self’ unified and as if one.  This shows, in effect, that the two former ‘passions’ are related and there’s a point where they are the same.

All these must be sought and ‘absorbed’.  That is to say, they must become a part of ones self and who one is.

‘Passion’ becomes more apparent as one becomes more aware of the ‘presence’.  Basically, the ‘presence’ begins to grow ‘dead’ and inanimate.  This can become one of the great struggles of contemplation.  In actuality, one is finding that the ‘presence’ is only a ‘doorway’, a signpost, to something else . . . it leads to ‘passion’.  This requires one to seek, and find, ‘passion’.

‘Passion’ can be experienced as a feeling or emotion at first.  Its often described as ‘love’ in Christian contemplation.  There is truth in this and one can often begin by feelings of love.  But to restrict ones self to a specific emotion or feeling restricts ones contemplation.  One must look beyond emotion or feeling.  This is because ‘passion’ is not a feeling or emotion, though it can cause these.  ‘Passion’, to me, is deeper, coming from the depths of the self.

Interestingly, ‘passion’ describes a ‘hunger’ or ‘need’ or ‘want’ or ‘poverty’.  As living things we are always in want of something, be it air, food, experience, meaning or what not.  In other words, ‘passion’ reflects want.  We are always in some form of need or want AND we always need to have it satisfied.  In other words, we always feel ‘lacking’ in some way.  This sense of ‘lacking’ causes a “want” to end the ‘lacking’.  This “want” is essentially ‘passion’.  Because of this ‘passion’ can be described as having these qualities:

  1. A lacking.  This is a feeling that we are need of something.  This feeling is so strong that we feel it at least part of the time.
  2. A want.  This is the desire to satisfy what is lacking or, in other words, the desire to not be lacking any more.
  3. An object.  This is the “something” that will satisfy the want and, as a result, end the lacking.

So we see that ‘passion’ is a desire to get rid of a feeling we always have (the ‘want’) which originates in a feeling that something is missing in us (the ‘lacking’).  To put it another way, ‘passion’ is the continual seeking or questing to try to become “whole”.  Since we never do become “whole” it is an ongoing never-ending questing.  No “one thing” can satisfy this quest.  As a result, we are always bouncing around between these two extremes:

  1. Feeling lacking.
  2. Feeling satisfied.

This shows that we do feel satisfied or “whole” at times.  But its only temporary.  ‘Passion’ is much like being hungry.  When we need food we feel hunger.  When we eat it is satisfied and hunger disappears.  But soon hunger reappears.  It is no different with ‘passion’ (in fact, hunger for food is a form of ‘passion’ but more specific).  This same thing happens with contemplation . . . we bounce around between lacking and satisfied.

In fact, in contemplation one feels these three qualities:

  1. The sense of lacking. 
  2. The seeking.
  3. The satisfaction. 

In many ways, these three qualities create something like a circle which goes around and around . . . lacking, seeking, satisfaction, lacking, seeking, satisfaction, etc.  In this way, one could compare contemplation to the hunger for food, something that never ends and continually alternates between feeling hungry and being satisfied.

There are many forms of want which makes something like a spectrum:

  • Need.  This is want-as-innate-need.  It is primarily interior and tends to lack ulterior and personal influence.  In this way, it reflects deep inner needs of the self.
  • Hunger.  This is want-as-a-necessity.  In other words, it refers to the want of things to keep us alive, such as food, water, warmth, meaning and such.
  • Desire.  This is want-as-luxury. This primarily consists of wants that are personal, that satisfy personal desire and whims.

In dealing with ‘passion’ one must learn to ‘refine’ and ‘delineate’ ones want and learn to want for the right reasons.  This can easily become a major hurdle in contemplation and take years, in fact, a lifetime.  It would not be far off to say that a significant part of contemplation is nothing but the continual quest to “want correctly”, which is a process that never ends.

Only by “wanting correctly” can ‘passion’ be fully embraced.  This is because want has great impact on ones self, such as:

  • “Correct want” hits to the depths of the self.  “Incorrect want” misleads one from the depths of the self.
  • “Correct want” makes one’s self directed and focused.  “Incorrect want” tends to cause confusion.

In other words, “correct want” leads to the self.

Why is this so important?

Because contemplation is an act of the self.  Through contemplation the ‘personal self’ and ‘self of the world’ is known and experienced.  This shows the importance of the self in contemplation and that, in many ways, contemplation rests upon the self.  As a result of this, the self must be sought and developed.

The “correct want”, that one seeks in contemplation, is need.  In other words, one seeks “innate want”, that inner deep hunger and longing.  In some respects, contemplation can be described as a “quest for innate want”.  This need is something that affect us and influences us.  In general, it does not control us.  We must seek it.  That is to say, we seek need.  In this way, we find that the seeking, itself, is the need.  But, we must remember, that the seeking implies a continual sense of ‘loss’ or ‘hunger’ or ‘want’.  In other words, seeking implies that something is ‘lacking’ in us . . . we are as if incomplete.  As a result of this, as part of the seeking we often feel what can be described as a ‘loss’, or unfulfilled, or unsatisfied, or incompetent.  This sense of ‘loss’ is often one of the first signs of ‘passion’.  But we must beware.  From the sense of ‘loss’ we can take several directions:

  • We can feel only the ‘loss’ – this is ‘passion-not-experienced’.  In this case, nothing ‘moves us’ and we grow stagnant.
  • We can feel the ‘loss’ as a desire to find what’s lost – this is ‘passion-experienced’.  In other words, we feel something that ‘moves us’ . . . ‘passion’.

We can see, then, that ‘passion’ is often experienced in the experience of ‘loss’.  The sense of ‘loss’ is only a sign that ‘passion’ is there.  I say this because there is something like a war that is often required to have ‘passion-experienced’.  In many cases, it is something that one must fight for.  It can often take great courage and inner penetration into ones self and soul.

It seems, to me, that ‘passion-experienced’ is not an emotion or feeling (though it can create those).  It seems like an ‘inner stirring’ of the soul that seems so deep that its wordless.  Perhaps one could even describe I as ‘beyond the self’?

The type of want called hunger is a want that needs to be respected.  Respecting hunger is one of the means, I believe, of respecting life and ones condition in life.  Knowing that we hunger in order to survive can, at times, be humbling as it reveals our weak dependent nature.  It also ‘implants’ us in the world, as worlds children who as if look to the world as a parent for its sustenance.  As a result, respecting hunger is very important for being aware of who “we” are in the world.

The type of want called desire is something that needs to be controlled.  This is to say, one should not completely shun it.  Desire is something that we do, in fact, need but only at certain times and in certain proportions.  In other words, desire is something that we don’t want to dominate us.  Fulfilling desire can cause great happiness and contentment in life, but not when its all the time and out-of-control.  Its power is such that it can easily overpower us.  Once it overpowers it we become its slave.  Because of this, one must be on guard against desire.

The object of want is a significant aspect of ‘passion’. Wanting the wrong object can bring ‘passion’ to a halt.  In this way, in contemplation we are always chasing the correct object.   One could very well say that this chasing of the correct object defines contemplation.

  1. An actual object.  This refers to something tangible and physical.
  2. A thought or conception.  This primarily refers to knowing something.
  3. A state of mind/awareness.  This refers to a particular condition of the mind and self.  Usually, this is without thought.

In contemplation we are primarily chasing the state of mind/awareness form of object.  In other words, we are chasing the state of mind/awareness that satisfies the want and ends the lacking.  Because it is a state of mind/awareness contemplation is very spiritual in nature.

4. THE “EMPTINESS” 

Contemplation symbol_emptiness

‘Emptiness’ is a very important trait of contemplation.  Without ’emptiness’ contemplation cannot happen.  This shows the fact that things easily muddle our minds.  In other words, contemplation entails a very ‘touchy’ part of the mind that is easily distracted.  Because of this ‘touchiness’ contemplation often has a quality of extreme delicacy or sensitivity.  Any disruption brings it to a halt.

There are many forms of ’emptiness’ such as:

  • Worldly emptiness.  This means being devoid of worldly affairs and actions.
  • Sensation emptiness.  This refers to being in an area that does not cause great sensation, such as a noisy area or being in an area where there is much worldly things happening.
  • Thought emptiness.  This means being without thought.
  • Emotional emptiness.  This means being without emotions and feelings and not letting them influence us.
  • Self emptiness.  This means being devoid of ones sense of ‘outer’ self.

In some respects, in the act of contemplation ’emptiness’ can be described as entailing things such as:

  • Being in “empty” location and condition.  That is to say, being in an area away from the noise of the world.
  • The emptying and clearing of ones mind and self.  This is critical for contemplation as one cannot contemplate with a muddled mind.  This does not mean that the mind is ‘blank’.  What it means is that the mind must be ‘free from interference’.
  • The loss of ones ‘outer’ self.   In this way, ’emptiness’ tends to lead to ones inner self.

The purpose of ’emptiness’, really, is to loose ones ‘outer self’.  Since the ‘outer self’ is worldly everything associated with the world must be “emptied” (sensations, thoughts, emotions, etc.).  Only when the ‘outer self’ is lost do we find our ‘inner self’.  This shows that the purpose of contemplation is to put oneself in a condition to find ones ‘inner self’.

  1. The act of emptying.
  2. The finding of emptying.
  3. The finding of ones ‘inner self’.

Each phase creates its own challenges and difficulties.  The act of emptying is difficult in itself.  But its even harder to “find” the emptying.  One may be so busy doing the act of emptying that one may never realize that one is emptied.  It takes skill, I think, to find when one is empty.  It even takes greater skill to find ones ‘inner self’ in the emptied state.  In many ways, these describe the basic challenges of contemplation as everyone, I believe, will have problem on all three levels.

5. THE “DUALITY”

Contemplation symbol_duality

‘Duality’ refers to how things tend to be in opposite’s describing a natural duality in life.  This is reflected in the horizontal line showing that there is a top and a bottom or an up and a down . . . duality.  The theme of duality is continually seen in contemplation and, I feel, plays a major role.  As a result, one must learn to be aware of it and play along with it.  That is to say, to use it.

‘Duality’ seems to appear in two ways:

  1. Extremes – its either “one or the other”
  2. Spectrum – its the same as extremes but there are gradations

In contemplation one see’s both forms.

I’ve found that contemplation is not a ‘one-state act’ but one that entails many states AND the ability to alternate between them and even from one extreme to another.  As a result, contemplation requires that one be variable and able to change.

Some common duality themes found in contemplation are:

  • Life/death
  • Superficial/deep
  • Worldly/other-worldly
  • Thought/thoughtless

These themes are a reference to the many states of mind that are required in contemplation.  To be frank, one cannot contemplate if one cannot change their ‘state of mind’ in contemplation.  It shows that there must be a willingness to be a different person and to reflect a different self.  If one cannot do this then one cannot contemplate.

An importance of duality is also seen in the fact that both make a whole.  That is to say, duality does not just mean two opposites but it also refers to making opposites relate to each other.  In other words, it refers to the ability to make what appear as contrary things relate to one another.  This may sound easy but it is not as easy as it seems.  As a result, duality leads to ‘wholeness’.  Reconciling different and opposing things is one of the great challenges of contemplation and life in general.  In some respects, life is nothing but a reconciling of opposing qualities, in some way or another.  Just as duality requires a person to be variable it also requires a person to be constant.  This dilemma, itself, is reflective of duality.

6. THE “SELF”

Contemplation symbol_self

The self refers to the maintaining of oneself as a ‘unit’ or a ‘whole’.  Indeed, the self is a sense of self-as-opposed-to-the-world, as removed from the world.  It requires a sense of being a person in relation to everything else.  As a result, it is associated with an ‘inner sense of integrity’.  This sense, felt more deeply, turns into the ’ember’ (see below).  Because of this the self, and its development, is associated with a relationship and conflict with the world.  As a result, the “self” actually is made up of three elements:

  1. The self.
  2. The world
  3. The self-in-the-world.

So we see that “self” means more than the self but an awareness of the world and a relationship with the world.  As a result, world perception, and world association, is very influential in regard to the self.

Contemplation requires the self to change or grow.  As a result, contemplation can often ‘force’ the self to grow.  Often, great stress is laid upon the self as well as great demands.  This causes a great deal of conflict in contemplation.  One could even say that this ‘forcing the self to grow’ is one of the great benefits, and values, of contemplation.

Notice how, in the symbol, the passion passes through the self.  This is because it is the ‘passion’ that “moves” the self.  Because of this, it requires that the self be developed and grown.  The self, after all, is what guides ‘passion’ and directs it.  This shows that there is a great, and strong, association between ‘passion’ and the ‘self’, that they are intimately bound together.  There are even times when they cannot be distinguished apart, where they become one a ‘passion-self’.

There are also levels to the self.  The self is not just one ‘entity’.  Much of the self is hidden from us, and inaccessible.  In actuality, contemplation can be described as trying to regain or contact these other hidden aspects of our self.  In this way, contemplation has the quality of ‘making for a greater holistic self’.  It does this by more uniting varying aspects of the self, seen and unseen.  Keep in mind that the self is so deep that one can never know it all nor fully make it completely whole.  As a result, this continual quest for a ‘holistic self’ is an ongoing never-ending affair.

There are also “cycles of the self”.  That is to say, self’s are born, live, and die.  Because of this, one must “assist” in the “cycle of the self” and in the different phases of our self:

  1. The consummation of the self. 
  2. The birth of the self.
  3. The growth and development of the self.
  4. The dying of the self.
  5. The death of the self.
  6. The burying of the self.

Because we have many levels of the self we have, in actuality, many self’s, all in different phases of the “cycle of the self”.  This requires us to be very observant and watching of our “different self’s” and to “assist” as required.  In some respects, a great deal of contemplation is nothing but observing our “self’s” and reacting to its condition.

One of the great difficulties we have is that we tend to keep our older self’s (that is, we don’t let them die).  This keeping of our older self’s hinders us and our development.  As a result, contemplation generally causes a continual dying.  This means a continual abandoning of old ways and perceptions.  This is not an easy thing to do.  I often think it is one of the hardest things to do.

Closely associated with the death of an old self is the birth of a new self.  It seems, to me, that the death of an old self often spurns the birth of a new self, making them closely related.  Though it may “assist” in the birth of a new self by keeping the old self’s we hinder the growth and development of the new self.  In some respects, the keeping of old self’s created a very “crowded mind” that “suffocates” any new self.  In this way, part of the ’emptiness’ (as described above) is the emptying of our mind of old self’s.  Often, the birth of a new self is “assisted” by forgetting what one is or thinks they are.  In other words, by becoming “self-dumb”.    I, myself, will go around thinking to myself, “I don’t know who I am”.  This, in a way, creates an environment for a new self to appear (that is to say, it is not “suffocated” by other self’s).

7. THE “EMBER”/BEINGNESS

Contemplation symbol_ember

The ’ember’ is a reference to what can be described as beingness, a sense of self-as-living.  In other words, its not just a sense of ones self as “there” but as “living there”.  This distinction may sound minor but is very critical.  When one is “living there” it is as if one is an ember glowing.

As mentioned above, it seems to derive from a deeper sense of the self, of that ‘inner integrity’, which turns into the ‘passion-self’.  In some respects, its the next step, showing three stages:

  1. The self.
  2. The ‘passion.  The self united with ‘passion’ . . . the ‘passion-self’.
  3. Existence.  The “ember”/beingness.  The ‘passion-self’ united with the existence.

In other words, the self unites with passion which unites with existence.  This creates beingness or the “ember”.  Everything as if becomes “one”, united.  In this way, one becomes ‘existence’ and ‘ones self’, bonded by ‘passion’ or a “livingness”, all at the same time.  This often creates a great sense of “God” or sacredness as well as a profoundness.

In many ways, beingness is an ‘existential integrity’, of feeling a part of existence.  Often, this sense gives contemplation a very profound, mystical, and sacred quality.  This makes it something like a ‘centering’, which is why I portrayed it as a small circle in the center.

WHAT THE SYMBOL SAYS OVERALL

Basically, the symbol as if says:

“In the presence and mystery of existence, a passion flows giving things life.  This passion flows through the self, which must use it and guide it.  This passion forces the self to change and develop, by being born and dying, continually becoming something new.  In so doing, the self becomes more united and a part of existence and, accordingly, becomes more a part of life and living.”

It describes a general stance.  This stance is made up of many parts and qualities.  In other words, it shows that contemplation is a conglomeration of:

  • Acts.  This is what one does.  It can be described as being active.
  • Awareness.  This is what one opens oneself to and allows to happen.  It can be described as being passive.
  • Conditions.  This is the reality that one is in.  This reality is ones physical state and mental state which set the stage for the two former qualities.  It can be described as being encompassing as this reality surrounds a person.

It shows that contemplation, as I use it, is not a single “act” but something made of small things that lead up to a whole.  In many ways, this is a main goal, to get the whole of it all (see below).

THE IMPORTANCE OF ‘LIVINGNESS’

The importance of what I call ‘livingness’ cannot be underestimated.  Livingness is a sense created, and needed, by the contemplative attitude.  It seems to me that, sometimes, the lack of this sense brings contemplation to a halt.  Without this sense, contemplation goes nowhere.  Not only that, there are times when contemplation is nothing but the “fight” to gain a sense of ‘livingness’.  In fact, I’d be tempted to say that contemplation is nothing but the quest for, and embracing, of a sense of ‘livingness’.  Because of this, the sense of ‘livingness’ becomes critical and paramount in contemplation and nothing to look at lightly.

‘Livingness’ could appear in many ways such as:

  • A sense of being alive.
  • A feeling or sense of ‘livingness’ in things
  • A profoundness of god or a ‘livingness beyond’.
  • A sanctity or sacredness.
  • A sense of god.
  • A profoundness.

This ‘livingness’ is experienced on many levels no doubt as a result of the many levels of self’s we have (see above).  That is to say, there are different depths of ‘livingness’, from what can be described, on one extreme, as a superficial ‘sense of living’ to a deep inner ‘mysterious sense of livingness in the world’ on the other extreme (often perceived as a sense of god).  Really, one finds that the forms of ‘livingness’ is endless.   Not only that, one finds that ‘livingness’ has such a range that it can appear from a ‘life’ perspective to a ‘death’ perspective.  In other words, there is a ‘livingness’ even in the “dark” aspects of life . . . conflict, pain, despair, suffering, death, etc.  Its because of this that the “dark” aspects of life must be embraced and accepted as much as is possible.  To put it another way, contemplation requires the “dark” aspects of life to be whole and true.  To avoid this is to only ‘half contemplate’.  This makes it so that contemplation is often filled with conflict, pain, despair, suffering, death, etc. . . . one must learn to live with them.

What one finds is that there is ‘livingness’ in everything.  Because of this, its a continual quest trying to find it.  Each new situation, each new quality, has its unique form of ‘livingness’ that must be found.  This makes contemplation like a continual endless questing or seeking.  This means that ‘livingness’ is not just “one sense” that one discovers and then says, “that’s it . . . I’m done”.  In actuality, its only the beginning.

THE ‘CONTEMPLATIVE ATTITUDE’

Each symbol described above has a ‘practice’ associated with it.  That is to say, a person does a ‘something’ pertaining to each quality and which manifests its quality:

  1. The practice of the ‘Firmament’/Mystery.
  2. The practice of the “Presence”. 
  3. The practice of the “Passion”. 
  4. The practice of “Emptiness”.
  5. The practice of “Duality”. 
  6. The practice of the “Self”. 
  7. The practice of the “Ember”/Beingness.

In many respects, the practice of all these different practices constitutes contemplation.  Contemplation isn’t just “one thing” but is made up of many things. many qualities, and many things that must be done.  Each of these things or qualities must be ‘practiced’ and developed.  This makes contemplation a very involved and complicated affair, far more than what it may seem initially.  In fact, I’d say that contemplation has gone in so many directions, and depths, that it has been mind-boggling to me.  It has gone from “just an act I did” (like a hobby) to a life-involving affair.  In other words, contemplation is ‘life-encompassing’.  In some respects, contemplation brought all the different aspects of life into one place.

As I said above, contemplation is a continual practicing of each quality.  But one practices each individual parts for something more:  the entirety of it all.  As it is said in this saying:

“Doing the parts, practicing the whole”

In other words, as one does the different qualities, or parts, one begins to establish a sense of the whole, of the entirety of it all.  Once one becomes proficient in the individual qualities, or different parts, and develops a more holistic way, one can be said to develop a ‘contemplative attitude’.  When this attitude is developed one can say that they are truly practicing contemplation in my opinion.  If a person only does this or that quality then they are doing ‘aspects of contemplation’.  My feelings is that it takes a special person to develop the ‘contemplative attitude’.  I feel that many monks don’t even develop it.

In addition, I tend to feel that nobody can develop a continuous ongoing ‘contemplative attitude’.  In other words, the ‘contemplative attitude’ comes and goes in a persons life.  To put it another way, it has its ups and downs.  There are times when its strong and there are times when its weak.  A person may even develop it for a short period of time only to lose it, perhaps for the rest of their life (I think this happens for many monks).  The reason for the continual up and down of the ‘contemplative attitude’ is because it is not a ‘real-world attitude’.  That is to say, though it is life-based, it is something akin to a spirituality which is removed from the ‘real-world’.  But, because we are human, we need to be in the ‘real-world’.  As a result, the contemplative, in actuality, must alternate between the ‘contemplative attitude’ and the ‘real-world attitude’.  This causes a continual ‘up and down’ of the ‘contemplative attitude’ in a persons life.  Sometimes, the change from one attitude to another can be quite dramatic, even to the point of being traumatic.  The ‘real-world attitude’, for example, can literally feel like having the carpet pulled from underneath ones feet.  From this condition, one may have to struggle and fight to regain the ‘contemplative attitude’.  It may even get to the point that one just “finally gives up”.  This conflict, I feel, is one of the reasons why people who become contemplatives have the ‘character trait’.  Its exactly this ‘character trait’ that allows them to weather these conflicts and persist.  In some respects, this shows the depth of conflict that can happen in contemplation.

THE DIFFERENT DIRECTIONS OF CONTEMPLATION

The practice of contemplation tends to lead to many places.  In other words, it doesn’t just lead to “one state” (such as ‘enlightment’).  Typically, contemplation is viewed as purely having a religious sense and purpose.  Because of this any other way is shunned.  One could call this the ‘focused contemplation point of view’.  Its a result of viewing contemplation intending to direct the mind in a specific direction and to be in a specific state (such as, in creating a union with god).  As a result, in this orientation, this is where one focuses ones effort and concentration.

I tend to feel otherwise.  My experience is that contemplation leads to many wonderful, fruitful, and life-based phenomena and events, such as:

  • The “quiet”.  This refers to a complete calming of ones self.  It often leads to a strong sense of the ‘presence’ or the ‘self’.
  • A sense of being a part of existence or God.
  • A profoundness.
  • A strong sense of sacredness.
  • A different awareness.
  • A strong sense of self.
  • A different sense of self.
  • A separation of self.  This can even lead to things like shamanism, as it did with me (see my article “Thoughts on defining shamanism: an ‘active belief system’“)
  • Living images.  These are seeing ‘images in the world’, something like a ‘vision’.  See my article “Thoughts on observing the “nature-as-living” images – the ‘cross-self experience’ – the ‘pre-imagination’“. 
  • A humility.
  • A tendency to cry.
  • A ‘worshipfulness’.  That is to say, a desire to ‘worship’, honor, or respect nature, life, sacredness, etc.
  • Hummin’.  This is a term I use for a tendency to hum, sing, do poetry, and such.
  • A desire for expression.
  • Thinking about things.
  • Reflection.
  • Insight.
  • A seeking of inspiration.
  • Daydreaming. 
  • A desire to do some form of work.
  • Distractions.
  • An inability to control thoughts or feelings.
  • Conflict, pain, and suffering. 

These are examples of the many different ‘directions of contemplation’.  They show that contemplation leads to many different qualities.  Some are good.  Some are even bad.  It also shows that contemplation does not necessarily lead to contemplative-like things.  This shows that contemplation can be a ‘platform’ for things that are not contemplative and have nothing to do with it.  In other words, what begins as contemplation may not end there.  This means that there are many directions of contemplation with a range like:

  • Contemplative
  • Partly contemplative
  • Not contemplative

Because there is a movement away from contemplation it can create quite a dilemma. Basically, one must determine if one should persist in contemplation or ‘follow along’ in another direction.  The ability to do this requires great inner inquiry, self-knowledge, and experience.  It also requires many failures and ‘wrong directions’.  In many cases, there are no ‘wrong directions’.  Only ones good judgment can determine that.

Because there are so many directions it as if ‘infuses’ these other things with the contemplative quality.  In other words, they become ‘contemplative’.  Because of this, one finds that one literally ‘bounces around’ between the many different ‘directions of contemplation’ in the actual “act” of contemplation.  That is to say, one does not maintain one constant direction.  This, I believe, is what normally happens, regardless of how focused one is or thinks they are. 

THE COMING OF A “CERTAIN STATE OF MIND”

The ‘contemplative attitude’, over time, tends to create a certain state of mind.  This “certain state of mind” is almost impossible to define or, rather, put into words.  Many years ago I called this state of mind ‘poesy’ (of which I’ve written articles of in this blog).

One finds that this “certain state of mind” as if colors and influences life and everyday things.  Like a mist it permeates into all aspects of life.  In this way, the ‘livingness’ of contemplation becomes a part of everyday life and is seen in all things.  Since ‘livingness’ is associated with sacredness and god, it as if makes one see the ‘sacred’ or ‘holy’ in everything.  In fact, one becomes surrounded by  a ‘sacredness’ and ‘holiness’ to the point that one becomes ‘sacred-like’ and ‘holy-like’.   Life, then, is changed and altered as a result.  This is another example of the ‘life-encompassing’ quality of contemplation.

Because of the coming and going of the ‘contemplative attitude, as described above, one finds that one is either seeking or maintaining the “certain state of mind”.  This is because it tends to have a precious quality and grows to be something very dear to ones heart.  The loss of it can be like a death.

One also finds that life, really, is nothing but a state of mind and it is through this state of mind that life is lived, experienced, and embraced.  In some respects, the state of mind is the most precious thing there is in life.  In it is life.  In it is the means to live.  In it is the means to be.  Without the correct state of mind what use are things like money, objects, social status, and the like?  The state of mind makes everything.  It is the base of all experience and being.   As a result, the maintenance of a correct state of mind is critical.

In seeking and maintaining the “certain state of mind” one finds that many things are not as important as we thought.  We have to adjust our priorities and look at life in a different way.  Life becomes, I think, more simpler and less complex.  In effect, the whole world changes.  The world changes because we have changed showing that, in reality, the world we see is actually a reflection of us and who we are.  As my saying goes:

“When I look out at the world I see my self looking back at me.”

———–

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

Posted in Contemplation, monastacism, shamanism, spirituality, prayer, and such, Existence: Awareness, Beingness, Consciousness, Conceptionism, and such, Philosophy, Poesy - Seeking a state of mind, Religion and religious stuff | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Thoughts on ‘modern idiocy’ – of how ‘ways are better than ideas’ and my saying ‘live beyond ideas’

In a conversation some time ago there was discussion about dating.  Basically, a female had difficulty in getting a boyfriend.  She said that “guys are idiots”.  Later, this got me into thinking that amounted to this:

She said that “guys are idiots” but, on the other hand, guys always say “girls are idiots”.  In this society, we tend to blame the person and focus on the person.  As a result, we say “they” are the problem.  In actuality, the problem, it seems to me, is not that males and females are idiots but that the situation is idiotic.  In other words, the whole dating scene has become idiotic.

I went on to say that its idiotic because we have abandoned the ways that have existed for centuries in regard to being male/female, dating, marriage and such.  This loss of the ways of wisdom has, accordingly, caused a deterioration of male/female, dating, marriage, and such.  This has basically turned it into an idiotic situation which, of course, makes idiots out of everyone.

In many ways, the abandoning of the ways of wisdom of the past have turned male/female, dating, marriage, and such into a free-for-all.  It is unguided, undirected, indiscriminate, random, undisciplined, uncontrolled, etc., which makes for an idiotic situation, which tends to fail or create problems.  The ways of wisdom of the past usually prevented these things from happening.

As I grow older I am finding that there was great wisdom in the ways of the past and that one should not look down on them . . . the “advanced” people of today, with all their high-and-mighty ideas and principles, are NOT creating anything better.   In fact, in my opinion, its getting more idiotic.  After making observations like this I’m finding that I emphasize more and more that if the people of the past did something, and had some custom or tradition, there was a reason for it . . . it does not matter if we understand it or not.  In short, the people of the past created customs for a reason, out of a wisdom.  Because we have abandoned these we have lost that wisdom and its effects.  We have, accordingly, become ‘modern idiots’Many of the modern problems we have, it seems to me, are a result of ‘modern idiocy’ and the abandoning of the wisdom of the past.  In short, in abandoning the ways of wisdom of the past we have lost the benefits that their existence created.  This has made us, really, a dumber sort of people.

Wisdom, as I am using it here, is very unique.  It deals with many aspects of life and living.  It does this by using ‘ways’ which are patterns of behavior.   Some traits of the ‘ways’ of wisdom include:

  • Its a pattern of living based in how you live.
  • It is based in experience.
  • It is passed down to the next generation, generally, in an unwritten idealess way.
  • It is based in a belief system of some sort.
  • It requires a constancy to establish the way or pattern of living.

These are qualities found in what is often called culture.  In many ways, culture is nothing but an elaborate form of the ways of wisdom, reflecting a particular way of living of a people, based in experience.  The fall of culture, then, is really the fall of ways and wisdom and, accordingly, the creation of ‘modern idiocy’.

Because the ways of wisdom are rooted in how people live it brings together many aspects of human reality, known and unknown.  As a result, it tends to affect a greater aspect of life and encompass a greater aspect of human reality.  Being based in experience, ways of wisdom become a culmination of things that ‘work’ in human reality.  Because of this, they encompass aspects of human life that we are not immediately aware of.  In fact, the ways of wisdom often go way beyond conception and thought.  This is because wisdom is rooted more in what we actually do, not what we “think” or think we do. 

An example of this was mentioned in the conversation we had.  There was mention of how guys will get girls pregnant.  Because it was not a ‘serious’ relationship to begin with, there is no marriage or commitment.  As a result, they do not help with the raising of the kid, even with money.  This, of course, was condemned (and, naturally, the male is all at fault for it . . . the female is always treated as an innocent bystander).  It was condemned “on principle”, that it did not fit the idea that it was right.  This point of view sounds good, and reflects an ‘idea’ that makes sense, but it neglects certain realities and truths about human nature.  The main emphasis is primarily the ‘idea’ and what ‘it’ means . . . that is the focus.  There is no consideration for anything else.  But the problem is that ‘ideas’, by their nature, are narrow and limited and, as a result, they tend to neglect many other things (see below).  This neglecting of other things that ‘ideas’ tend to do, or so it seems to me, is what causes a lot of problems seen in ‘modern idiocy’.

In regard to what was mentioned above the human fact is that the father needs to feel more of a connection with his kid to inspire him to help it and ‘be’ the father.  I’ve even heard guys say things to this effect:  “why should I pay all this money to a kid I hardly see?”  This shows a reality that many of us probably don’t want to admit:  that it requires more than the fact that its “his kid” to create a bond that is strong enough to make him want to take care of it.  I know enough about the male character to know that the male needs things like these to feel a strong bond and connection with his kid:

  • He needs to feel he’s part of a “team”.  He must see himself, and the kid, as part of a “team” in which everyone plays a specific role and place.  This “team” used to be marriage and the family.
  • It all needs to be part of a greater context.  That is to say, he must see himself, his child, and his association with his child, as part of a social structure and a belief system, with a place and purpose.  This used to be things like tradition, culture, and religion.

The idea of “it’s his kid” is simply not enough in the real human world.  It doesn’t matter how romantic or good “loving his kid because its his” may sound.  Its simply not enough on the human level.  The ways of wisdom, seen in the past, have encompassed traits such as these (not narrowed it down to one ‘idea’ of “it’s his kid”).  Accordingly, the older ways tended to create strong bonds between father and child which tend to be lacking in this idea-based world, nowadays, by supplying these other qualities.

This example shows how we have placed an ‘idea’ (that a father “should take care of his kid even though he has little contact with it”) before anything else and, despite how good it sounds, it comes out lacking.  Its an example of how the emphasis on ideas, nowadays, has undermined and destroyed the effects of wisdom and created something like an ‘idiocy’.   This is because wisdom is not rooted in ideas but in ‘ways’.  In fact, a lot of the wisdom of the past has no “idea form” at all and was often implemented “without words”, only as an act.  This is one reason why wisdom tends to be lost so easily . . . its wordless.  Wisdom tends to be “learned” by example, not by using words and ideas.  They’re not taught in the classroom, for example.  Wisdom generally entails things, and understandings, that cannot be spoken of.  In this way, the ‘practice of the ways’ becomes the ‘learning’, what can be described as ‘learning of ways’.   Nowadays, we are in the ‘era of ideas’ . . . everything revolves around ideas.  Everything is based in what this idea means or what that idea means.  Learning is primarily ‘idea learning’, to learn ideas.  Because this orientation is so dominant it makes us think that its the only form of learning there is . . . but its not.  When we emphasize ideas we are limited by what the ideas invoke and mean.  In this way, we are actually restricting ourselves to these aspects of the mind which reflect the idea orientation.  But the mind is more than that . . . its more than ideas . . . human life is more than ideas.  To limit our life by ideas is to severely restrict our mind, our selves, and our life.  This is because ideas are not all-embracing and are limited in nature.  Human life needs more than ideas!

Ways seem to entail more of the mind than does ideas and, accordingly, create a more holistic perspective and life.  In some respects, ways make life human.  It does this in ways such as:

  • It is an act.  This act appears in many ways such as attitude, deed, action, and thought.
  • It entails participation.  It generally entails something in which a person ‘plays a part’ with other people or ‘takes their position’ amidst people.  These people can be ones culture, ones spouse, etc.
  • It is generally transmitted by example.
  • It often entails symbolism.  This shows how it affects other aspects of the human mind, not just the ‘idea part of the mind’.
  • Sometimes, it may entail ideas.  Usually, these ideas are not abstract in form but symbolic, representational, or mythological in nature.
  • In some respects, ways have the quality of a play where a person plays a specific role and position, turning life into something like a performance.  In this way, it creates meaning in things and a holistic orientation in life.
  • It reflects a belief system.  Generally, ways and wisdom are reflections of a general world view that describes how the world works.  Often, its based in religious or cultural beliefs.

So, we can see that ways brings together more aspects of the mind than does ideas, going way beyond what ideas can entail and encompass.  Because of this, it seems that ‘ways are better than ideas’.

In fact, not only are ideas more limited than ways but it seems that ideas tend to destroy ways and wisdom.  This, no doubt, is because ideas entails so little of the mind and self.  This narrow orientation makes what little wisdom, that is found in the idea, so narrow that it becomes almost insignificant.  Because of this, intellectualism, knowledge, education, learning and such (which Western society so prizes) tends to undermine ways and wisdom.  Because of this, they do not make people “wise”.  In other words, knowledge does not equate with ways or wisdom.  Just because your a college graduate, or know a lot, does not mean you’re wise in any way.  My experience is that most people that are “wise” have little education.  To be frank, it seems that the less education you have the more “wise” you are inclined to be.

Another thing that undermines wisdom is ideals or, rather, trying to follow an ideal.  Idealism tends to destroy wisdom because it follows after ideals, which is really a glorified idea.  This makes it so that an idealist is only chasing after ideas.  In addition, an idealist is usually trying to make the ideals ‘real’.  In some respects, idealism is the problem of ideas taken to the extreme.  This is because they’re trying to make the idea happen, whether its right or wrong, practical or not.  They believe in the idea so much that they try to ‘force’ it to happen.  What dictates life, for them, is the idea.  As a result, idealism tends to create people who “live in the clouds” of their ideas.

Once destroyed, wisdom is almost impossible to retrieve or revive.  As a result, the deteriation of ways of wisdom is a tragedy.  In addition, the creation of new ways of wisdom is not an easy thing.  There are many problems, particularly nowadays, that hinder any creation of wisdom, such as:

  • There are too many ideas.
  • There are too many overeducated people, filled with learning and ideas to the brim.
  • There is no way to establish a pattern or way because there are too many disruptions or interferences.
  • There is little or no belief.
  • There is no bond of a people or a culture.
  • There is too much change.

Because of things, such as these, wisdom cannot be created that easily.  In this sense, we are losing one of the great ‘unspoken understandings’ of human life (wisdom) making a more limited lifestyle (the ‘modern idiocy’ lifestyle).  Here no one knows whats right or wrong, what male and female is, what marriage is, etc.  In addition, there tends to be no social hierarchy, no leader, no direction, no belief, and such.  This shows that many human institutions originate from ways and wisdom.  In fact, human institutions are not only the manifestation of ways and wisdom but create the means and avenues for ways and wisdom.  Without human institutions there’s practically no way for any wisdom to manifest itself.  This is why we are seeing the ‘modern idiocy’.  Some human institutions that seem to derive from ways and wisdom, but also are means for ways and wisdom, include:

  • Religious belief, tradition, and customs.
  • Cultural belief, tradition, and customs.
  • The image and association with authority.
  • Social hierarchy.
  • Right and wrong or living the ‘correct way’.
  • Social roles and obligations.
  • Male and female identity.
  • Marriage.
  • The ‘correct’ association between the sexes.
  • Family life.

Things, such as these, practically define human life showing how much ways and wisdom affect us (or did) and how human life is rooted in them.  Because of this, the loss of ways and wisdom have contributed to our alienation and dehumanization . . . its made us ‘less human’. 

Looking at these human institutions, one can see that a common theme in all of them is this idea of a ‘correct way’, of doing things in a certain specific way.  This, of course, is what a ‘way’ is.  But it can also be described as a ‘moulding’ of a person into the ‘correct way’ and because ways and wisdom encompass a greater part of the mind and self, as described above, they create a more holistic ‘moulding’ of a person, a more complete person (much more than what ideas do).  Much of this ‘moulding’ is manifested through human institutions which has created human life.  In other words, ways and wisdom ‘mould’ a person and, in so doing, create a person . . . a human person. 

What all this shows is that the emphasis on ideas (which includes things like knowledge, education, etc.) is actually moving us into a form of “idiocy” that, in a way, defines the modern world today.  The emphasis on ideas actually restrict our minds, our selves, and our lives making us, in actuality, less human by creating a more restricted and narrow human life.  This is the origin of my saying:

“Live beyond ideas” 

——————

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

 

Posted in Culture, cultural loneliness, etc., Dehumanization and alienation, Education and learning, Life in general, Modern life and society, Psychology and psychoanalysis, Society | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Thoughts on how I perceive the world – inspiration and the “I don’t know” – with remarks about Socrates, philosophy, Odin, and belief

Here’s a thought I had:

Nowadays, there is a tendency to equate our perception of the world as a form of “ultimate knowledge”.  It is treated as a ‘fact’ before us, like the sky or a mountain.  Because of this, the world is perceived as being “set in stone” and “unchangeable”.  This becomes the way we know it making the world nothing but a form of “ultimate knowledge”.  In other words, there is an equation of ‘world=knowledge’.  I speak of this as the ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’.   This world-as-knowledge perspective makes it so that knowledge becomes the “measure of all things” creating what can be called a ‘static perception of the world’ as knowledge is static and non-changing . . . once you know it that’s what it is.  The most extreme version of this is science with its rigid “this is the world” attitude, defined, unchangeable, and absolute.

I find I look at things differently . . .

THE  ACT OF PERCEIVING

Life is based in perception.  It defines what is known, how its known, and what is important.  Perception, by its nature, is a very varied and active event in life.  Because of this, one cannot equate ‘knowledge’ to perception, as in the ‘knowledge-as-perception orientation’.  It is not ‘fact’ or something “set in stone”, in my opinion.  That is to say, the world is experienced and lived as what one perceives, not what one knows or what the world actually is.  Therefore, the conditions of perception dictate the world and what it is as well as how we associate with it.  This means that the question of the world is really a question of perception.  In this way, one could say that the ‘real world’ is something we can never know . . . all we know is what we perceive.  As a result, I have found that whenever I look at the world I often end up looking at perception instead.  This is the ‘world-as-perception orientation’.  In this orientation, the question of how one perceives becomes more important than the world itself, as well as its ‘knowledge’.  Because of this, I have put great emphasis on how the world is perceived.

I’ve often viewed how I perceive the world in a specific way.  This is shown in this diagram (click to see):

Perception of world

This diagram depicts a particular stance in regard to perceiving and its specific traits.  As one can see I view myself as standing in the act of perceiving the world.  I am standing facing the “I don’t know”, which is really the world.  As I do this I stand on the ‘authority of precedence’.  As I look out into the “I don’t know” there is the “mist of precedence” coming from the “authority of precedence” which comes into the “I don’t know”.  Along with this is the “mist intuition” that comes from “intuition” which hangs as if mysteriously above me and also comes into the “I don’t know”.  This makes it so that, as I gaze out into the world, there is a mixture of three things:

  1. The “I don’t know”.
  2. The “mist of precedence”.
  3. The “mist of intuition”.

These three combine to create something like a soup:  perception.  As a result of all these different elements, perception is very varied and reactive.  It creates a very dynamic and ever-changing situation.  In other words, perception is a constantly fluid situation.

The “Self”

This “self” actually refers to what can be described as an ‘extended self’.  That is to say, it is not just the perceiving of ones self but more.  This is because perceiving, as I’m using it, consists of a combination of three different forms of perceiving:

  1. A perceiving of the world.
  2. A perceiving of the self.
  3. A perceiving of the self-in-the-world.

In other words, its not just a ‘perceiving’ but a ‘perceiving in the context of ones self and the world’.  That is to say, we don’t just ‘perceive’ things (such as the sky is blue) but perceive things in relation to other things (the world, self).  Perhaps we could speak of these three forms of perceiving as ‘contextual perceiving’?  In this way, its more like an ‘extended perceiving’ that brings together different forms of perceiving into a single perceiving.  It is the “self” that brings together the different forms of perceiving and allows this single perceiving.  In other words, the “self” makes ‘contextual perceiving’ happen.  Because of this, the “self” is instrumental in perceiving in a greater context.

Because of the influence of the “self” it makes it so that its state and condition is critical and of paramount importance.  Any alteration, or change, in the “self” changes perceiving.  This is why mood, growth, experience, etc. have such an impact on perceiving . . . once the “self” is changed perceiving is changed.  As a result of this, there is a close connection between perceiving and the “self”.  In fact, they are so closely associated that anyone looking at perceiving becomes concerned, in the end, with the state and condition of the “self”.  In other words, any inquiry into perceiving often ends with an inquiry into the “self”.  This is because they are so closely associated.

The “gaze”

The “gaze” refers to our ‘looking’ out into the world.  It shows that a person must look.  To be more precise, the “gaze” refers to being aware.  One could also refer to this as being ‘open’ to the world.  Only by being aware and ‘open’ can anything be perceived.

One cannot be aware or ‘open’ to everything at once.  Because of this, we are actually only aware or ‘open’ to certain things at any one time.  This can be described as ‘selective awareness’.  That is to say, awareness is “selected” or singled out from everything else.  Because of this, we are usually oblivious to everything else not in ‘selective awareness’.  As a result of this, what one gazes at (that is, what one is aware of or ‘open’ to) determines what one perceives and tends to appear to be the only thing existing.  In this way, we actually only perceive a small part of what we are capable of being aware of.  In some respects, its much like looking through a tube.

Often, because ‘selective awareness’ is so selective and particular we get in the habit of gazing at the wrong things and being aware of frivolous and deceptive things.  Since this is all that we see we tend to ‘assume’ it to be correct.  But, as I mentioned above, this is only a small part of awareness.  As a result of this, learning to “gaze” at the correct things has a big influence on life.  In fact, a big part of life, in my opinion, is learning what is best to “gaze” at, to be aware of, and to be ‘open’ to.  This can have great impact on ones mental health and happiness in life.  As a result, its healthy to develop ‘the directed gaze’.  This is learning what is best, and healthiest, to direct ones “gaze”, of developing the “right perceiving”.  Remember, ones life depends on perceiving the world the right way”.  If one gets in the habit of “gazing” at the wrong things then it tends to detract from life and cause problems.  Developing a good and healthy ‘directed gaze’ is not easy.  A person can’t just tell you how to do it.  A person must look for himself.  Some aspects of a ‘directed gaze’ include:

  • The need for experience.  This means it must be practiced.  It means success and failure.
  • The intention of health and finding the “right” way.  A person must want to find a healthy and “right” way of perceiving.
  • The need for example.  It requires the need of example from other people, tradition, and belief.  Regardless of how much we think we can do things on our own we tend to need help from other people in some form.
  • The need for deliberate effort.  A person must use deliberate effort to find the healthiest and “right” way.  This is because perceiving is rooted in the “self”, as I said above.  Because of this, any healthy or “right” way of perceiving must entail deliberate effort as a manifestation of the “self”.  That is to say, the “self” must be involved for any ‘directed gaze’ to be effective.  The utilizing of the “self'” makes the ‘directed gaze’ hit deeper into ones soul affecting who one is.  In this way, the ‘directed gaze’, through the “self”, transforms a person, making it more than a perceiving but a self-altering experience.

I tend to feel that only in finding the “right” way is life achieved and grasped.  In other words, one doesn’t achieve life by money, by achieving, by climbing mountains, by being famous, etc.  Life is found by developing the “right” way of looking at it and perceiving it, of developing a healthy “gaze”.  In some respects, this is the great battle of life.

In this way, the “gaze” is related to what I call ‘Poesy’, which is seeking a particular state of mind.  I’ve written articles on this such as “Thoughts on how I am not an intellectual – the coming of ‘Poesy’ and the seeking of a state of mind” and “Thoughts on what I call Poesy“.  The ‘directed gaze’ is really ‘poesy’ and the “right” way is its particular state of mind.

The “rest”

The “rest” refers to having a sense of solidity and certainty in life.  This “rest” is based in these forms of authority:

  • The “authority of precedence’ (see entry below).  This could be described as ‘casual authority’ or ‘experiential authority’.  This is primarily based in things we’ve done.  Accordingly, it tends to have a more ‘functional, ‘practical’, or ‘mechanical’ role in life.  That is to say, it is an authority that tends to be superficial and has minimal influence on ones deep inner self.  It primarily has the function of allowing one to be able to function in the world.
  • The authority created by the “self”.  This could be described as ‘deep authority’, ‘personal authority’, or even ‘mystical authority’.  This type of authority is rooted in the ‘contextual perceiving’ described above and its association with the “self” and the world.  It hits deep within a person, often to the core of who one is.  Because of this, it tends to have a deep inner quality that affects ones “soul”.  This often gives it a ‘mystical’ and ‘religious’ quality.  Its not uncommon that it becomes associated with god and the Divine in some way.

The effect of these forms of authority tends to give the quality of something like a rock for us to “rest” upon.  It allows us to ‘relax’ and ‘be calm’ and thereby decreasing worry about things.  This gives authority a quality of a ‘protector’.  In this way, authority is like a parent and our relationship with authority is as a parent/child relationship.  This is because authority entails a trust, of a ‘letting something else take care of the difficulties of life’.  Because of this, the “rest”, which authority creates, is critical for living a healthy, happy, and content life.  The absence of the “rest” makes for a very nervous, tense, and unhappy life.  Because of this, our views of authority, which causes the “rest”, is critical in life.  In fact, one should seek it and try to find authority in ones life.  Some aspects of authority include:

  • We need to seek, and find, authority.
  • We need to develop healthy attitudes and views toward authority.
  • We need to develop a relationship with authority.

As a result of this, one could say that one of the secrets of life is the acknowledgement of authority and in having a good relationship with authority.  By doing this we develop a “rest” or a ‘calm’ in our lives.  This means we must develop a trust and a ‘letting go’.  In other words, one cannot find authority if one “has to be in charge” and “do everything”.  The lack of appreciation of authority is one of the reasons why Americans are so uptight (see my article “Thoughts on the ‘uptight American’ – the price of individualism“) as their individualistic “Mr. American in-charge” attitude does not allow for a “rest”.  Because of this, it detracts from their life and is, in actuality, a burden causing a lot of unnecessary mental anguish.

The “I don’t Know”

The general stance, that I have, is of looking out into the world as a looking into a mystery . . . I simply don’t know.  As a result, I see the world as ‘unknown’ or ‘vague’.  Because of this, my mind is sort of blank or, rather, receptive, and I am as if waiting for something to reveal itself.  In other words, I find that I am “dumb before the world”.  I try to not presume I know what’s going on.  If I “think” I know I try to temper it with “. . . but I’m not sure”.  As a result, the “I don’t know” is an attitude that one takes, a stance.  Its not as easy to develop as it may seem.  It takes practice.

The “I don’t know” is an awareness that:

  • One has an inability to know.
  • That one will never know completely.
  • That what one knows may be wrong.

As a result, it requires a sense of appreciating the fact that one does not know and may never know.  It is not an attitude of seeking to know as a complete fact, as if it is set in stone (an ultimate knowledge).  It is an attitude that knowing is a continual endless revealing that never ends and is ever changing.  This stance, I have found, is not a common one.  Its also not an easy one to take.

The “I don’t know” is like being exposed to life, vulnerable, and weak.  This creates what can be described as an “I don’t know apprehension”, a natural apprehension to the “I don’t know”.  This is because, in the “I don’t know”, one has no ‘handle’ or ‘grasp’ on things.  It creates a tendency to create solid ‘facts’ and ‘knowings’ which are really no more than a refuge to avoid the exposed vulnerable condition the “I don’t know” creates.  Facts and knowledge becomes something to hide behind, a wall, a fortress to protect ones self.   My experience is that most people who accept knowledge as ‘solid’ and ‘ultimate’ are generally doing just that.  One could describe this as the ‘knowledge’ refuge’ . . . using knowledge as a way to hide from feeling vulnerable to life.  As a result, one can see that there is an association between the “I don’t know” and experiencing life.   Its because of this that seeking the “I don’t know”, as an act, becomes a seeking of the experience of life in a “raw” state, so to speak.  But the effect of this is that the “I don’t know” stance requires a confrontation with ones vulnerabilities and weaknesses.  As a result, it requires more of the self, which can be hard.  It requires things such as:

  • Humility
  • Faith
  • Belief
  • Hope
  • Spontaneity
  • An activeness
  • A submission
  • A willingness to be flexible
  • A willingness to be continually changing
  • A willingness to discover things, which can be difficult
  • A willingness to suffer

In other words, there is no hiding in the “I don’t know”.  In this stance, one is exposed.  This can put great strain on the self but this is part of its great benefit.  Basically, the strain on the self develops the self.

My experience is that the awareness of not knowing (the “I don’t know” stance) is more powerful than knowing.  This is true in regard to general life perspectives.  Of course, when it deals with specific things one must know, such as how to change a tire, then its different.  This shows that the “I don’t know” stance is a general life attitude.  It isn’t necessarily directed to the particulars and details of life.  In this way, it has the quality of a philosophy or religion.

The “authority of precedence”

The “authority of precedence” is an authority based on some form of previous experience.  It refers to things that have already happened and which have ‘proven’ to have a truth, at least to our satisfaction at the time.  As a result, it is based on experience that has, in some way, been proven true at the time.  Because they have been proven true (at least as we understand it) it creates a ‘confidence’ or ‘certainty’ about things based on the truth it seems to reveals.  This ‘confidence’ or ‘certainty’ becomes the authority.  These include things such as things we’ve done, knowledge we know, opinions we have, activities we’ve done, things we’ve seen, and such . . . anything which we have developed a ‘confidence’ and ‘certainty’ in.  In reality much of life rests upon the ‘authority of precedence’, which rests on previous experience.  It becomes a great guide and beacon in our life.

One effect of the ‘authority of precedence’ is that it creates a ‘sense of certainty’ that does not need any recollection.  That is to say, when something has a ‘truth’ we develop an attitude of confidence about it and typically become unaware of it.  As a result, it creates a general attitude called the “confidence of precedence”.  This is a sense of certainty, as a result of the many things we’ve done in our life, and becomes an attitude we have in life, a attitude of confidence.  The more truth we find in our confidence the stronger the sense becomes.  This sense is generally constant within us and is unconscious . . . we’re not usually aware of it.  In many ways, it is a sum total of what we have done.

The ‘authority of precedence’ appears in many ways.  It can be:

  • Specific.  This usually means its related to a specific thing.  Many forms of authority only remain around certain things.  They may appear only when that subject makes an appearance and then quickly disappears once it is gone.  Because of this, we often forget the authority of various things and often have to relearn them later in life.
  • Constant.  This usually means that its a character trait.  The fact is that ones character is greatly influenced by a generalized constant character of the various forms of experience that one has in ones life, the ‘confidence of precedence’.  That is to say, there develops an overall “sense” of our experiences in life that develop as we grow.  This ‘sense’ affects our character and is always with us and becomes a part of us.  Once it becomes a part of us it remains constant and, therefore, “colors” our perception of the world and our self greatly affecting our character.

One can see that there are many versions ranging from a specific thing to a generalized life sense.  These give a whole range of variety in how its manifested.  Other ways it manifests itself include:

  • Variable.  ‘Authority of precedence’, being based in experience, tends to change with experience.  In this way, it is an ever-changing and continually altering phenomena.  This gives it a variable quality.  In many ways, the experience of variable ‘authority of precedence’ is part of the experience of ‘living’.  Being variable it makes a person variable, giving a sense of ‘living’ and ‘vivaciousness’.
  • Solid.  Oftentimes, we tend to get in the habit defined by our previous experience that defines our self and reality and ends up becoming something like a rut, a hole we can’t get out of, particularly as we get older.  This makes us look at our life and self in a constant unchanging way.  In this way, the ‘authority of precedence’ tends to become ‘solidified’ into a specific form of authority set by precedence.  When this happens one often begins to feel ‘dead’.  This is common in later years.

There are many cases where the ‘authority of precedence’ remains unchanged, perhaps for ones whole life, not because it has become ‘solidified’, as described above, but because of conditions.  These include things such as:

  • It is based in a “concrete truth”.  Such as the sky is blue and that we stand on two legs.  Typically, this is true with physical but less with mental activities.
  • It is not challenged.  There has been nothing to dispute it.
  • It reflects some aspect of ones self.
  • It does not conflict with a precedence we have gotten used to.

We often hold many authorities throughout our life not because they are “true” but because they have remained unchanged for some reason.  Its not uncommon that a great deal of our ‘authority of precedence’ are false, or have no relevance but, being unchanged, they remain in our minds as an authority.  In this way, one could say that we all develop a ‘residue precedence’ that remains with us.  These are precedence that have no real value but continue in our minds as a truth because there have been nothing to change it.

The “Intuition”

Intuition is a phenomena that is often hard to explain.  To me, it often has a miraculous quality about it, as it seems to come from nowhere and have no foundation in anything.  It comes from many sources:

  • Experience.  This often creates an ability to ‘know’ that, at first, appears miraculous.  In actuality, it is actually the ‘confidence of precedence’, as described above.  That is to say, it is based in a confidence established by something we have already done and have become confident in.  As mentioned above, we are not necessarily aware of this confidence or experience.  As a result, when it does appear it can have the appearance of being miraculous or, rather, it appears as an intuition.  In reality, it is really a hidden or forgotten confidence based on experience. 
  • The inner self.  There are many aspects of the self that allow it to “know” things.  Many of these seemed as if ‘designed’ into us, much like instinct.  Others are abilities we just are not aware of.  And, still others, are abilities that does not fit our logic and point of view of things.
  • Unknown origins.  Some intuitions I cannot explain.

I have always believed that intuition plays a far greater role than we realize.  To me, much of the “I don’t know” is rooted in the following of intuition. I’ve written an article on intuition and inspiration called “Thoughts on instinct, intuition, and inspiration“.

Intuition has several forms:

  • ‘World-dependent intuition’.  Typically, intuition is nothing but “following ones gut”.  In this way, one does not use a reason or logic to do things but, rather, a ‘feeling’.  This intuition usually appears in relation to a situation or condition.  That is to say, there is a situation or condition that creates a ‘feeling’ and one follows it in regard to that situation or condition.  This creates a ‘world-dependent intuition’ that has a beginning, root, and origin in the world situation.  This, in my experience, is the most common and prevalent form of intuition.  This is the form that is the most influential in life.
  • Instantaneous intuition.  This is an intuition that as if comes from nowhere and does not appear instigated by anything.  In other words, it is not ‘world-dependent’.  It tends to involve itself with a specific situation such as a feeling that “something might happen”.  This form is the rarest form of intuition and, from my experience, has little impact on life usually.

The following of intuition has a quality of “following life”, in my opinion.  In other words, life somehow seems to “hide” in intuition.   In particular, the following of ‘world-dependent intuition’ is this “following of life”.  This is because of this association:

self—–‘world-dependent intuition’—–life

In other words, ‘world-dependent intuition’ establishes a connection between the self and life.  It establishes a connection on a deep, almost mystical, level which is why it has so much impact.  As stated in the article above, intuition connects us with instinct, some of the deepest aspects of our self.  In this way, the ‘world-dependent intuition’ creates a deep rooted connection with life.  One cannot develop this deep connection with logic, reason or thought. this shows that there is an association between intuition and a depth in life.  Because of this, one should seek to develop an ‘intuitive life’.

The “mists”

Both the ‘authority of precedence’ and ‘intuition’ create “mists”.  These “mists” are really the “presence” of the each specific quality that tends to guide and direct the “I don’t know”.  It is a “mist” because it is unseen, unconscious, and not obviously apparent but influences our perceivingIn addition, it does not ‘drive’ things but ‘influences’ giving it something like a passive quality.  It lies hidden from us but is there influencing what we do.  Though we do not see it the “mists” have great power and influence over us.  Because of this, it greatly influences the “I don’t know”.

The “mists” is primarily a sense.  By itself, the “mists” would come to nothing, so it is like a half of something.  It needs something from the “I don’t know” to become something, to anchor it and give it value.  This is what makes them a “mist” . . . its only partial.  When the “mists” merges with something from the “I don’t know” it becomes something.  In that way, the “mists” becomes blended, so to speak, to our past experience, current situation, and intuition in the “I don’t know”.  Because of this it is an active element and very fluid and ever-changing.

The “mists” creates a condition that has a number of effects depending on its origin.  The “mist of intuition” creates:

  • It allows recovery of information, knowledge, and experience.
  • Its a source of ‘being there’, of a deeper sense of self.

The “mist of authority” creates:

  • It gives things a direction to go.
  • It creates a constancy of self in life.

Because of these, the “mists” and “I don’t know” interface, in the varied affairs of life, and creates these things like this:

  • A creative tendency.
  • An application of things.
  • A continual doing and discovery.
  • An in-world experience.

They create something like a ‘coloring’ of the world and what one does, influencing ones perceiving.  Oftentimes, these are so mild one does not notice them but their influence is very great.

IMPRESSIONS

A big part of perceiving is the creation of  “impressions”.  This is basically an conception created in the “I don’t know” but with an awareness that it can change.  In other words, its an acknowledgement that any conception one has may change in the future, and that ones conceptions are never ‘totally right’.  It creates what I call a ‘fluid philosophy’ or a ‘living philosophy’.  In this there is no ‘constant dogma’ or ‘ultimate knowing’ but it is ever-changing based on impressions that continually change.  In this way, it is ‘changing’ and ‘living’ . . . a vivaciousness of ones conceptions.  Because of this, it is fluid-like.  This is because the nature of the “I don’t know” is one of creating fluid conceptions.  This type of conception is reflective of the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’ which puts emphasis on ones perceiving, which are continually changing. A common form of conception, nowadays, can be described as solid conception.  This type of conceptions are in the pattern of “let it be written, let it be done”.  Solid conception is what the modern world creates:  the result of schooling, education, learning, etc.  This is reflective of the ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’ which puts emphasis on a ‘concrete knowing’.  This is at odds with the fluid conception of the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’.   In fact, because it is at odds with it, there is a tendency for solid conception to undermine or destroy fluid conceptions . . . they are not compatible together.  As a result, we see that impressions are a product of the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’, of a fluid conception.   But impressions are also something that the modern world, with its ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’ and solid conception, actually tends to destroy.  In general, the modern world, the ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’, and solid conception is one of solidity, rigidity, and lack of variability . . . in short, a ‘static philosophy’ or ‘dead philosophy’.  This point of view should be avoided.

I should point out that because impressions are variable there is no right or wrong impression.  What makes them “right” is if they fit the situation and person.  As a result, an impression may be right one day and wrong the next . . . it varies remember.  In many ways, life is nothing but a continually seeking of the “right impression” which continually changes.  We must always be on our guard and ready to accept and follow the “right impression”.   This, in reality, is the main function of inspiration . . .

INSPIRATION

Inspiration is the coming together of the “self”, the “authority of precedence”, and “intuition”, in the “I don’t know”, as an active seeking.  Typically, inspiration has a quality of appearing out of nowhere much like intuition, which it is associated with.  Inspiration, though requires:

  • Deliberate effort.
  • An ability.
  • An action.

This makes inspiration more of a ‘something’ someone does.  That is to say, it is a result of a deliberate act a person does.  Its not just any act, though.  Typically, a person must have a natural ability at the form of inspiration that they are doing.  Not only that, it only appears as a result of some action one does . . . a person must do a specific act.  This action can be things such as music, painting, and such but, in this article, I am primarily referring to thought and awareness as inspiration.

There appears to be several forms of inspiration:

  1. ‘Word-based inspiration’.   This refers to things that can be “found out” or expressed in an obvious way.  Usually, this means something that can be put into words or thoughts.  This fact makes it attainable or, to put it another way, it makes it “usable”. Words and thoughts can give inspiration a practical use that can be applied in the world.  We tend to focus on words and thoughts themselves as an entity themselves.  This is what can be described as a ‘word-based inspiration’.  It primarily makes up most learning, study, or thought.  It creates an “attainable” form of inspiration.  When this happens our focus is on the words and concepts themselves.  It is tangible, graspable, and, as a result, “attainable”.  In this way, words and thoughts become something like building blocks that one manipulates and builds.  One can fabricate great ideas and philosophies that way.
  2. ‘Passion-based inspiration’.  In this form of inspiration one “seeks the passion before the words”.  That is to say, one seeks what motivates the words and thoughts.  The emphasis, then, is not on the words but the passion, spirit, or sense that caused them to be.  This could be called ‘passion-based inspiration’, as I call what motivates the words as ‘passion’.  Because of this, the emphasis is not on the words or thoughts themselves but on passion itself.  This makes it so that this form of inspiration is not one of ‘chasing words and thoughts’, which is what “thinking” is to most people.  Typically, passion is wordless, unformed, alive, variable, dynamic, ungraspable, and mysterious.  In a sense, one is chasing a ‘mystery’ as it is wordless.  In the chase for passion, though, one naturally has thoughts and ideas that appear as part of the chase . . . they are as if created by the chase giving words and thoughts a ‘secondary’ quality.  This makes it so that the words and thoughts become something that ‘follows along’.  That is to say, they do not appear first but afterwords.  In this way, they are like the ‘footprints’ created by the “seeking the passion before the word”.  This makes it so that the words and thoughts as if ‘materialize out of nowhere’ . . . true inspiration.  The thoughts and concepts are all things that ‘follow along’ afterwords and never lead the thought or inspiration process.  This, in actuality, is what I seek as I think about things and is the primary form of inspiration I do (much of this blog is the result of it).
  3. ‘Awareness-based inspiration’.   This generally refers to a ‘sense’ or ‘awareness’ and is beyond words.  As a result, this form cannot be put into words.  Because of this, it is primarily a form of awareness which is why it can be described as an ‘awareness-based inspiration’.  Being without words, it often has a quality that can be described as “mystical”.  In this way it often has a religious quality to it.  Its primary emphasis, and use, is personal.

These create something like a spectrum, from something defined to mystical.  This is quite important as it shows that inspiration is not ‘concrete act’ but has many forms . . . a manifestation of the fluid quality found in the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’.  In other words, a spectrum of inspiration is based in different forms of perceiving – words and thoughts, passion, and awareness – that one alternates in.  As a result, in seeking inspiration a person does not just do ‘one thing’ but actually weaves in and out through different forms of inspiration.  The important thing in seeking inspiration, then, is not doing one form of inspiration but the whole spectrum.  In this way, we see that there are really two aspects associated with the spectrum of inspiration:

  1. The ‘form of inspiration’.  This is the specific form of inspiration you are doing, such as thought.
  2. The ‘weaving of inspiration’.  This is going from one form of inspiration to another. The impetus, and tendency, to change forms of inspiration is, itself, a form of inspiration.  That is to say, in changing forms one must be inspired to do it . . . you don’t just ‘do it’ for no reason.  In fact, its very possible that changing forms of inspiration may be the greatest act of inspiration there is.

These two qualities show, and reveal, the varied nature of inspiration.

Being Stupid in Inspiration

The fact is that being stupid leads to inspiration.  An attitude of “I know” does not create an inspired person . . . it just creates a person who “knows”.  Inspiration, by its nature, requires a continual sense of “I don’t know” and of being stupid.  It does this because, by being stupid, the self is removed from awareness and knowledge of the world:

self———-stupid———world

This ‘stupid gap’ gives a space, an opening for intuition in particular.  When the self is too attached to the world it creates a self-world bond which causes a worldly attitude that is so strong that it pushes out any intuition and prevents intuition from influencing the self.  Because of this, we tend to become more ‘worldly’ and focus on what we can ‘grasp’.  That is to say, our orientation becomes focused on what can be ‘grasped in the world’.  Being that this worldly ‘graspable’ attitude pushes out intuition shows that intuition is not something ‘grasped’.   As a result, being stupid is not a ‘grasping’ attitude.  In fact, being stupid is actually a ‘letting go’ of things, often a renouncing or abandoning of things, even ones sense of self.  This means that ‘being stupid’ is not the same as ‘being dumb’ and ‘not knowing’, as one would normally think.  ‘Being stupid’ is an attitude.  More specifically, its a ‘non-grasping’ attitude even to the point of ‘letting go’ of things.

The removal of the self from the world has great impact on the self:

  • Because the self is removed from the world, by being stupid, it often leads to a stronger sense of self.  The self becomes more prominent and aware of itself.
  • The self becomes independent of the world.  In this way, a new self is created, a ‘non-worldly self’.  This tends to create a spiritual orientation.
  • It can put great strain on the self.  This can cause a growth of the self but it can also cause great turmoil and despair and conflict as well.  In fact, it can become unbearable at times.

Being stupid is not an easy task.  Its a unique attitude.  One has to develop it.

Interestingly, being stupid tends to create a dilemma in inspiration.  Seeking inspiration is actually creating a condition that tends to destroy being stupid, which is what creates inspiration.  This is because the result of inspiration is some form of “thing” which as if “solves” stupidity by creating something that is “there”, making us “un-stupid”, so to speak.  This is at odds with being stupid and tends to destroy its effects.  This is the ‘stupid-knowing dilemma’.  There seems to be two reactions to this dilemma:

  1. That finding things “solves” stupidity.  In this sense a person becomes ‘smart’, for example.
  2. That finding things make one more stupid.  One only finds how little one knows.

When I was young, the former seemed to be true.  As I get older the latter becomes more true.  The first is rooted, in my opinion, in the illusion of ‘facts’.  One thinks the facts, and knowing, are the answer.  The latter is a result of finding that the facts are not the answer, that there is something ‘more’, something beyond us.  In this way, it is more of a spiritual sense.  In that way, the best “solution” to the ‘stupid-knowing dilemma’ is by being stupid which creates a spiritual sense and perspective.  As a result of this, there is a sense of something ‘beyond us’.  I’ve found that this is far more powerful than any knowing.

I should point out that being stupid is, in actuality, the “I don’t know”. 

Inspiration = Seeking Life

It became clear to me, over time, that inspiration is a way to seek life.  In fact, one could say that inspiration is a life style.  Initially, I thought it was just ‘for fun’ and the fact that it created ideas and ‘knowledge’.  As time went on, I found it did more than that.  Slowly, ideas and ‘knowledge’ became minor things, trivialities, and a greater picture would emerge.

Inspiration seeks life in a number of ways:

  • By giving example of how to live.
  • By giving means of expression for ones self.
  • By creating experiences as well as experience in life.
  • By creating an increased awareness.
  • By creating a base in life, and a foundation of living.
  • By revealing deeper aspects of oneself.
  • By creating a dynamic and varied life experience.

In short, it became an avenue of living, not only experientially but conceptually.  In short, inspiration became an active participation, based on experiences, that created a concept of how to live.  Its for this reason why I tend to condemn ‘learning facts’ and the so-called ‘education’ of today, which is primarily monkey see-monkey do and imitation.  To put it simply, there has become a lot of ‘play acting’ of knowledge and information, nowadays, that is only an illusion.  Typically, it tends to fail in a number of ways:

  • It tends to lack the self.
  • It lacks experience.
  • It lacks spontaneity.
  • It lacks originality.
  • People are as if standing on the shoulders of other people (by learning things other people created).

These facts, at least to me, make seeking inspiration a very important thing to do, nowadays, as it contradicts the mechanistic attitude of today.

THE MYTH OF THE ULTIMATE – SEEKING RELEVENCE

I tend to view that there is no ‘ultimate’ truth.  Or, to put it another way, what we need to do is find what is relevant to us (I wrote an article on this called “Thoughts on my saying: Truth is relevence“).   Too often, in seeking “knowledge” or “learning” we try to make things the ‘ultimate’ truth.  That is to say, we are trying to find truth that explains ‘everything’ and that is everything.  This ‘ultimate’ thinking is the basic stance of the ‘knowledge-as-perception orientation’.

Typically, the further we move into ‘ultimate’ truth the more we move away from relevance (that is, meaning to ourselves).  Or, to put it another way, the more ‘abstract’ it becomes.  By ‘abstract’ I mean that it is distant from us.  It becomes too ‘cranial’ and ceases to have meaning deep down.  This, in fact, is exactly what we are trying to avoid and move away from.  In this way, the seeking of ‘ultimate’ truth is something to be avoided.

Not only that, knowing is passive.  You only know that you know and that’s it . . . nothing more is required.  Its something you ‘have’.  Because of this, it creates what can be described as a ‘false rest’.  This often creates the illusion that it is the end, the answer . . . the ‘ultimate’.  This tends to create an illusion in knowing, that it is more than it is.  In addition, it creates a whole myth about knowledge and knowing, as if it answers everything.

SOCRATES . . . AND PHILOSOPHY’S DISSOLUTION OF INSPIRATION

A man who appears to have used a similar, but different, viewpoint and technique is Socrates.  Many statements he made reflect aspects of inspiration I described above:

  • “. . . but I shall use the words and arguments which occur to me at the moment.”
  • ” . . . for he knows nothing, and thinks he knows;  I neither know nor think I know.”
  • “. . . God orders me to fulfill the philosopher’s mission of looking into myself and other men.”
  • “. . . he only gives you the appearance of happiness, and I give you the reality.”
  • “O Socrates,” says Meno, “I used to be told, before I knew you, that you were always doubting yourself and making others doubt.”
  • “. . . I perplex others, not because I am clear, but because I am utterly perplexed myself.”
  • “Then he who does not know may still have true notions of that which he does not know.”
  • “I, too, speak rather in ignorance;  I only conjecture.”

His technique, though, was different, reflecting different conditions and a different culture.  Some of these differences include:

  • He saw himself as on a mission from God, as the Delphic Oracle professed him he wisest of men.
  • He used a didactic techniques of question and answer with people.  That is to say, he talked with people as the means of gaining inspiration.
  • He was more bound by interpersonal associations, social manners, social viewpoints, and conceptual thinking.
  • He put more emphasis on definitions of words as part of his inquiry.  In that way, a lot of what he did is a ‘clarification of the words’.

A very significant difference is the way in which he saw knowledge was received.  Socrates felt that the soul knew everything because it experienced everything before we were born, before we became human beings.  No doubt this reflected the mythology and religion of the time.  A conversation in Meno describes this:

Socrates.  “But if he did not acquire the knowledge in this life, then he must of learned it at some other time.”

Meno.  “Clearly he must.”

Socrates.  “Which must have been the time when he was not a man.”

He then goes on to say that we were remembering what we already knew before we became a man.  This was what he called recollection or notions.  He states some interesting things about his view of recollection and notions:

  • “. . . all inquiry and all learning is but recollection.”
  • “All this spontaneous recovery of knowledge in him is recollection.”
  • “And if there have been always true thoughts in him, both at the time when he was and was not a man, which only need be awakened into knowledge by putting questions to him, his soul must have always possessed this knowledge . . . “
  • “Wherefore be of good cheer and try to recollect what you do not know, or rather what you do not remember.”
  • “. . . he who does not know may still have true notions of that which he does not know.”
  • “. .. our learning is simply recollection.”
  • “. . . we must always be  born in full possession of knowledge, and always know throughout our life.”
  • “. .. having acquired it before birth, we lost it while being born, and later by applying the sense to the things in question we recover that knowledge which we once, formerly, we possessed-then surely we call it ‘learning’ will be the recovery of knowledge, which is our own?  And we should be right in calling this recollection?”

In other words, the purpose of inquiry is not to learn “new facts” but, rather, to remember what we forgot from before we became a man, of recollection or “notions”.  This recollection is really no different than what I call inspiration.  The “notions” is really no different than what I call intuition.  This, to me, shows the great inner sense of intuition portrayed in a mythical way.  In some sense, he’s saying to follow ones intuition, which seems to come from a mystical source (from deep within or before one was born).  In this way, Socrates was not using ‘scientific method’ to find ‘ultimate’ truth.  In some respects, because he said that we are trying to recollect from before we were born he was actually looking for a ‘personal truth’ which is no different that what I call relevance. 

He goes on to say that the purpose of philosophy is not just to find knowledge and information but to live a good life.  As Socrates says:

  • “. . . that daily discourse about virtue, and of those things about which you hear me examining myself, and others, is the greatest good of man, and that the unexamined life is not worth living.”
  • “. . . that we should set the highest value, no on living but on living well.”

This shows that Socrates was not about learning ‘facts’ and ‘ultimate’ truths, such as what we now call ‘scientific truths’.  As Socrates states:  “. . . I have nothing to do with physical speculations.”  To put it another way, recollection (or what I call inspiration) is nothing but learning how to live well.

He also put emphasis on the importance of doubting.  Socrates says, “. . . he had fallen into perplexity under the idea that he did not know, and had desired to know.”  He called this doubting the “torpedo’s touch“, from the torpedo electric ray which can shock you as a form of defense.  This “torpedo’s touch” appears to be similar to what I called the ‘gaze’.  It is the ‘looking into’, the tendency and need to inquire.

Socrates also put emphasis on the difference between “knowledge” and “true opinion”.  Interestingly, he says that “There are not many things I profess to know, but this (the difference between “knowledge” and “true opinion”) is one of them.”  The difference between these is significant.  He makes a comparison with them with a “possession that is at liberty (meaning something that can leave on its own accord)” and, therefore, will “walks off like a runaway slave”.   He goes on to say:

“. . . while they are with us they are beautiful and fruitful, but they run away out of the human soul, and do not remain long, and therefore they are not of much value until they are fastened by the tie of the cause;  and this fastening of the, friend Meno, is recollection . . . “

And he goes on:

“But when they are bound, in the first place, they have the nature of knowledge;  and, in the second place, they are abiding.  And this is why knowledge is more honorable and excellent than true opinion, because it is fastened by a chain.”

In other words, ‘true opinion’ is what I call intuition, which is a sense of something.  By itself it remains a ‘sense’ only.  It is not ‘grasped’, or as Socrates says, it is not “bound by a chain”.  When the intuition gains authority, making it more than a sense, it becomes  what he calls ‘knowledge’.  This ‘knowledge’ is what I call the ‘authority of precedence’.  In the diagram I showed intuition as if above us, like the air which comes and goes at will . . .  it is not ‘grasped’ or “bound by a chain”.  I showed the ‘authority of precedence’ as the ground as we ‘rest’ on this . . . it is “bound by a chain”.

Socrates goes on to say:

“. . .  true opinion leading the way perfects action quite as well as knowledge.”

This is like saying that intuition is the best guide not “knowing facts and figures”, as is claimed nowadays.  Socrates then goes on to say that people cannot teach ‘true opinion’, because “. . . virtue was not grounded on knowledge.”  Later he says:

“. . . virtue is neither natural or acquired, but an instinct given by the gods to the virtuous.  Nor is the instinct accompanied by reason.”

Or:  “. . . virtue comes to the virtuous by divine dispensation.”

Or:  “. . . true opinion, which is in politics what divination is in religion; for diviners and also prophets say many things truly, but they know not what they say.”

Or:  “. . . the say many grand thing, not knowing what they say.”

These state the almost miraculous and mystical qualities found in intuition.

So we see  that it appears that Socrates (and myself) are not after “facts” but things that lead to a better and virtuous life by following intuition and inspiration.

Intuition and inspiration tends to be degraded by a natural process.  This is the tendency to emphasize, and overvalue, the words and concepts created by intuition or inspiration.  Its a natural tendency to “solidify” thought after it appears.  In this way, we are able to ‘grasp’ it.  Because of this, this tendency reflects a ‘grasping’ attitude.  But, as I said above, intuition is a non-grasping attitude.  As a result, the natural tendency to “solidify” thought brings out an attitude (of ‘grasping’) that ends up undermining and destroys intuition and inspiration.  So we see a pattern:

  1. Non-grasping attitude – allows intuition and inspiration to happen
  2. Intuition and inspiration – reflective of a non-grasping attitude
  3. Words and concepts – the product of inspiration
  4. “Solidify” words and concepts – reflective of a grasping attitude
  5. Grasping attitude – conflicts with the non-grasping attitude that creates intuition and inspiration and undermines them, preventing them from appearing

This pattern shows a basic dilemma created by the ‘grasping’ attitude in regard to intuition and inspiration.  Its a conflict of two opposing qualities.  Because of this, intuition and inspiration tends to entail a continual going from non-grasping attitude to grasping attitude to non-grasping attitude, etc.  Its a continual cycle that can be called the ‘non-grasping, grasping cycle’.  Going from one extreme to another can be difficult and almost impossible at times . . . it can stop you in your tracks.  My experience, though, is that we tend to get ‘stuck’ trying to regain the non-grasping attitude.  This is because the non-grasping attitude is very hard to get going . . . a person can’t just will it into existence usually.  This is because the non-grasping attitude reflects intuition which is something that comes from deep within a person.  The problem is that we are not ‘in control’ of the deeper aspects of our self.  Because of this, we cannot will it to do what we want . . . we cannot will intuition to take place.  The result is that we tend to get ‘stuck’ here, trying to make intuition happen.  Typically, we must ‘pause’ and take an inward look at our selves and ‘seek’ the intuition to get the inspiration process going again.  This, though, can take a long time and some great effort.  Often, once the grasping attitude appears its so strong that we completely lose sense of the non-grasping attitude making intuition even harder to find.  This is all part of the dilemma’s the ‘non-grasping, grasping cycle’ create.

But because its so easy to get ‘stuck’ in the grasping attitude the natural tendency is to stay there . . . and this is often what happens.  This creates a general tendency to “solidify” thought, making it concrete and ‘ultimate’.  Not only that, the non-grasping attitude, by its nature, creates a sense of uncertainty and imbalance that we all struggle with, some more than others.  As a result of this struggle it makes it more imperative to “solidify” to give the illusion of certainty and balance.  In other words, it shows that there is a natural tendency to take the ‘world-as-knowledge orientation’ over the ‘world-as-perceiving orientation’.  That is to say, there is a tendency to take the ‘solid’ over the ‘fluid’ showing that the more ‘fluid’ stance is harder. 

This tendency of taking the ‘solid’ over the ‘fluid’ has defined philosophy since Socrates.  Interestingly, Socrates does not appear to be the one who started this tendency to be ‘solid’.  This seems to of began with the work of his followers who began by making all his thought ‘solid’, as if this ideas were written in stone.  In other words, they took his words-as-fact.  Later, his thought would even become more ‘solid’ by being ‘systemized’ and put into a general system in relation to others.  This made it so that quoting Socrates is like quoting the Bible . . . a statement of ‘solidity’.  Basically, instead of learning his recollection or inspiration style – Socratic “recollection philosophy” – they focused on what he said, making them almost doctrine.  This was done by Plato and Aristotle (and everyone since).

It shows a basic process in philosophy.  Socrates began the process by emulating recollection or inspiration.  Plato, then, tended to emphasize the words and concepts of Socrates . . . he took the words-as-fact making them solid.  In so doing, he had forgot that Socrates was seeking inspiration first and foremost.  Aristotle then systemized the words and concepts into a defined organized format . . . its now like a doctrine.  This shows a revealing pattern :

  1. Socrates – Recollection (Inspiration).
  2. Plato – Taking the words-as-fact . . . solidifying.
  3. Aristotle – The systemizing of the words.

This progression tends to replicate the ‘non-grasping, grasping cycle’ even to the point of getting ‘stuck’ as well (at systemizing).  In some respects, its a social version of the ‘non-grasping, grasping cycle’ and follows similar tendencies.  What this tends to show is a general ‘dissolution of inspiration’ following Socrates.   This dissolution appears to of followed these phases:

  1. As a guide.  Thought and concepts are used as a guide to help a person and, therefore, is variable and can change.
  2. As a solid.  It is taken more seriously.  There is a tendency to not want to change it.   Its not necessarily meant to help a person.
  3. As a system.  It is unchangeable.  At this stage, it often may actually be of no help at all in life.  Even the technique that Socrates used would be “systemized” to the Socratic Method.

This tendency to ‘solidify’ made us forget the inspiration of Socrates (the ‘dissolution of inspiration’) creating what can be described as a ‘system-based philosophy’.  This type of philosophy, of course, has become so dominant that it defines philosophy, science, and knowledge in Western society.  In general, it has downplayed and forgot inspiration as a whole.  In fact, inspiration became so degraded that it became forgotten.  Instead, philosophy would become systemized into things like:

  • Specific types of philosophies. This includes things such as Hegelism, Kantism, existentialism, etc.
  • Specific methods of thinking.  A good example is the ‘scientific method.
  • A tendency to seek the ‘ultimate’ or ‘universal’ truth.   This type of truth is really nothing but systemized knowledge taken to the extreme, such as seen in science.

In effect, ‘system-based philosophy’ was the death of Socratic “recollection philosophy” and the creation of a whole new thing:  ‘systemized philosophy’ This would flower into the ultra-rigid scientific type of thinking.  With the arrival of ‘systemized philosophy’ the original spirit of inspiration-based Socratic philosophy was forgotten.  Basically, the concrete quality of words and concepts overpowered the active variable inquiry of a person.  The ultra-rigid viewpoint of the ‘scientific method’, especially, ended up destroying the ability and means of inspiration.  In other words, it shows that systemizing destroys inspiration.

 INSPIRATION, THE SELF, AND BELIEF – ODIN AND SOCRATES

The Norse God Odin has demonstrated similar aspects of what I have spoken of above about inspiration.  It goes deeper than Socrates, though.  This is best demonstrated in the ‘Havamal’ where it is stated:

I know that I hung

on a windy tree

nine whole nights,

wounded by a spear

and given to Odinn,

myself to myself,

on the tree

of which no one knows

from whose roots it rises.

They did  not delight me with bread

or drinking horn.

I peered down, searching.

I took up the runes,

shouting I took them up,

I fell back from there. 

Here we see that inspiration has become a death, a loss of self.  This is really a continuation of ‘being stupid’ which is, in more extreme cases, a losing of ones self.  This is because, in ‘being stupid’, our self is not ‘all there’ or ‘absent’.   This reveals that inspiration passes through phases, going from shallow to deep:

  1. The “I don’t know”.  This is the looking out into the world with this as the sense making this the ‘sense phase’.
  2. Of ‘being stupid’.  This could be described as the ‘philosophical phase’.
  3. A loss of self.  One can say that, at this point, it has become the ‘mystical phase’.

One could say that, with the loss of self, one has truly immersed themselves in the “I don’t know” . . . it has gone to its extreme.  In other words, the “I don’t know” is a prelude to loss of self, or a death.  It leads up to it and, in a way, is becomes it.

Interestingly, even Socrates makes a reference to this association of death with inspiration.  In ‘Phaedo’ he says:

  • “. . . that this very thing is the philosophers occupation, a freeing or separation from the body.”
  • “. . . . philosophers practice dying.”

Interestingly, in the condition of losing ones self one finds a tendency to rely on intuition as a guide.  Intuition has this quality of looking at a great void with the knowledge that anything can appear.  As a result, one tends to turn to intuition . . . the unknown . . . with the loss of self.  It becomes what we rely on and use as our guide.  The end result of losing ones self is the discovery of an authority portrayed in a ‘new self’, ‘new reality’, or something similar.  It is something ‘new’ that has ‘great power’ (authority) over us.  As a result, inspiration becomes a seeking of intuition, in the attitude of the “I don’t know”, in order to find authority.  Or, rather, inspiration is to build or alter authority . . . to make it grow.

This association with authority shows a very significant element with inspiration and loss of self:  the need for belief.  In many ways, this shows the nature of belief, that it is the deepest of all authorities.  One could describe belief as a pre-authority.  That is to say, belief, as I use it here, is authority before it has been “proven”.  In this way, belief can be described as the ‘passion’ of authority, the emotion that authority is based on.  As a result, authority can be described as this belief, the ‘passion’ of authority, combined with some ‘thing’ or ‘image’.  In other words, authority is when belief has become united with some thing.  Often, in the loss of self, these new authorities entail some form of awareness, such as a sense of self, a sense of reality, an awareness of life, etc.  They are typically deep-rooted and are wordless phenomena tending to create a belief without words.  Many people tend to “miss” this form of authority because they can only relate to belief with words.  As a result, a person must learn how to have a ‘wordless belief’.

As a result of this, the loss of self becomes a seeking, really, of this ‘passion’ of authority, before it has been united with any thing.  Once the ‘passion’ of authority is found, it tends to become attached to some thing, creating authority.  In this way, the loss of self creates a continual rediscovery of the creation of authority, what can be described as the ‘re-enactment of the creation of authority’:

  1. The loss of self.
  2. The ‘passion’ of authority (belief) is found and experienced.
  3. The ‘passion’ is united to some thing (creating authority).
  4. A new authority is created.

This rediscovery of authority creates a ‘profoundness’ in belief.  It gives belief, and authority, a vivaciousness, power, and a life.  In many ways, without ‘re-enacting the creation of authority’ there is a tendency for authority to become ‘dead’, mundane, boring, and seeming insignificant.  It becomes just ‘a thing’ like a rock or a chair.

Elsewhere it is written in the ‘Havamal’ which shows this vivaciousness, power, life, and growth of self:

Then I started to sprout

and grow sagacious

and thrive and prosper;

one word from another

sought me out a word,

one deed from another

sought me out a deed.

So we see that the loss of self leads to what can be described as a ‘living authority’.  In this way, authority becomes more than authority, but something “living”, a “reality”.  In actuality, it is this ‘living authority’ that inspiration seeks.  I do not seek ‘knowledge’, I do not seek ‘information’, I do not seek ‘learning’.  The purpose of it all, really, is the seeking of an authority that is “alive”.

But, as I said above, the creation of authority must be re-enacted to continue to be made “alive”.  This shows a continual need to rediscover authority which is why this is an ongoing and endless process, of continual inquiry, continual searching.  As part of this process is the need to be in the “I don’t know”, as a prelude to a loss of self, in order to find it As a result, my perceiving of the world consists of qualities such as:

  • A perceiving of the world.
  • A continual discovery or, rather, rediscovery of the authority in life.
  • It is ongoing and endless, creating a very active and “alive” perceiving. 
  • It requires much of my self, of listening to intuition and loss of self, even a form of a death. 
  • Because of this, my perceiving of the world also becomes a perceiving of my self and, accordingly, of my-self-in-the-world.  

This rediscovery of ‘authority’ creates a new self that is, in a sense, born.  This shows that there is a close relationship between authority and the self.  In other words, without authority there is no self.  The continual rediscovery of authority becomes a continual rediscovery of self.  This, basically, is a growing.

This is rather interesting in that a person must ‘have no self’ to ‘find the self’ showing that the self is not a defined and definite thing but a meandering thing, going from one extreme to the other and ranging from definite to indefinite, absent to existing.  In this sense, the self is not really a ‘thing’ but more of a ‘process’ and this ‘process’, really, is inspiration.

—————

Copyright by Mike Michelsen

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