Some time ago I walked through a high school that I have never been in (it was actually Skyline High School in Salt Lake City, Utah). As I walked through the halls a lot of memories came to me of when I was in school. Looking at all the lockers lined on either side of the halls made me think of all the social drama that must take place along here. I can imagine all the emotions, feelings, happiness, and despair that happen here every year.
But, as I reflected even more, deeper feelings came to me, particularly originating from my grade school years. The more I thought about it the more I could see that this revealed some interesting things.
A BUILDING THAT IS “ALIVE”???
As a child, the school building often had this quality of being “alive”. It was as if it was a living being. Perhaps one could call this a “spirit” or that it had a “soul”? This sense of a living being was not felt in one way, but in many ways, over many years. It did not come as one “great revelation” but something more “in the background”, a sense, or like a casual awareness. In fact, its so casual-like that it would be easy to forget. Not only that, there was a spectrum of experiencing this living being. They seemed to originate in a sense. Some aspects of this sense includes:
- As something in the back of my mind.
- As a deeper sense of the mind, an intuitive sense.
- As a self-evident fact, something that I did not question.
- With an other worldly sense (the more worldly sense I had the more it faded).
I’d often see images, reflecting these senses, as if in a flash or an image that would come and go quickly. Often, they’d appear in the course of the day as if out of nowhere and often for no apparent reason. I don’t think I ever “thought” about it. In other words, I did not intentionally ponder it. Instead, these t seemed to come to me. Here are some examples of how the images appeared:
- It often appeared as an image of a man, usually an old bearded man. Though he was old he seemed to have this great youthful power.
- Sometimes, it seemed as if the building was the ribcage of this living being and we lived within it, as if we were enveloped in it and protected by it.
- At other times, the building seemed like arms reaching down to protect and embrace us all.
- Since the building was something that was primarily something that covered our heads it had this quality of a parent or someone who watched over us. It often had this quality of “something that was living above us”.
- At other times, it felt like this great mysterious thing that I could not fathom which inspired my awe.
I also felt the living being in other ways:
- I often would dream of things such as exploring areas of the school I should not be (such as the administrative rooms, janitorial rooms, store rooms, and other rooms I had never been in or was not permitted to go in). In these rooms I seemed to “find” aspects hidden aspect of myself in the dream.
- Often, when I was at school, I would “sense” things in rooms and this often appeared as an image in my mind, of a man, or people, or something else. These were often very real. In a sense, they had the quality of ghosts.
- There was a sense that there was more. That is to say, its as if the sense of the living being actually led to other things and places.
- It seemed as if the sense of the living being led to a great secret. It was as if life was somehow found here and was protected here, kept as a secret.
- With this sense of more and secrecy I found I wanted to seek it.
- At other times I would daydream and imagine what the living being and secret may be.
So we see that there is much variation in this sense of a living being.
THE PARENT AND THE TRIBE
I would not say that the living being was like a “god”. Rather, it was more like a “mystical being”. It did not seem to be something that controlled the natural world, animals, weather, or other things of the world. It was closer than that. It was something removed from the world and nature. It was primarily a sense of human “family”. In other words, the “mystical being” was a sense of the “family”. It had qualities such as:
- Protection. This ‘parent’ was as if over us, watched us, and protected us.
- Origins. It is the source of our origin.
- Belonging. I felt as I, and all of us at school, belonged to this ‘parent’. It gave me place, belonging, and purpose.
- Realness. All this was very real and seemed a self-evident fact.
- Comprehension. The world seemed to make sense as well as my place in it.
- Power. It seemed that there was great power there.
- Mystery and awe. There was something about it that seemed beyond me, that I could not grasp.
- Secrecy. It seemed to hold a great secret.
- Questing. There seemed a desire to seek this sense and be a part of it.
This ‘sense’ of the “family” is, in actuality, the sense of “the parent and the tribe”. With the living being I felt this sense for it, in actuality, represented this sense. Through it I felt this strong sense of a parent watching over me and felt I was a part of a people. This instilled in me this great sense of belonging to a people. To me, it felt sacred. But with the damaging and undermining effect of the modern world on human society, as well as the idea of a people (that’s “racist”, remember!), I have found myself at odds with the modern world. In fact, it was the modern worlds attack on “the parent and the tribe” that first made me grow to hate the modern world. I found “the parent and the tribe” as precious and a sense I loved. As a result, any attack on it was considered almost sacrilegious. It seemed to hit something deep within me. This would become more evident as I found myself seeking the secrecy . . .
THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SECRET
I found that the sense of secrecy became very important to me. When we went somewhere, such as on a field trip, I would feel this sense of secrecy, often very strongly. I remember one instance (of which there were many like it) in which we went to a park with our class. Me, and some other boys, would venture off going into the woods and out-of-the-way places. There I often felt what I would call a “great profoundness”. It created a great longing in me to be in the woods away from people that continues to this day. Typically, these were places where few would go or were meant to go. In some cases, we weren’t supposed to be there. They seemed “forbidden” or even “forgotten” places. It was in places, such as these, that I often felt the sense of the “secret” most profoundly.
Later, I’d even feel this secrecy feeling at places where there were big constructions (such as a dam or a construction site) which often had this “living being” quality similar to the school building. In other words, I found that many large buildings, and constructions, often had this “living being” quality. These places, though, were different than school as typically I was alone or with a small number of people. Because of this, they often developed a strong secrecy sense.
The places that created this secrecy sense, I found, created a sense of being “half in, half out”. I was close to society but, at the same time, I was distant from it. In fact, I felt that the reason why these senses were often so profound when I was on a field trip is because society was “over there” and the secret was “over here”. This gave me, in a sense, the “best of both worlds”. To this day, I seek to be “half in, half out”. It seems to be the best place to be.
As I got older this ‘secret sense’ got more intense and turned into a desire to be alone in nature. When I was without society the sense of secrecy, and the profoundness it created, was stronger. Being in society tended to make it fade and slowly disappear. Because of this, I sought, and still seek, this solitude. There I could find the secrecy.
As I sought the secrecy I found that it led to many other things:
The secret as the world
This tendency to be away from society showed that there was more to the “parent and the tribe” than human society. It went deeper than that. As I sought the secret I found that I went further into the world. That is, of the sky, earth, nature, etc. In other words, the secret showed another aspect of things, that the world is also “parent and tribe”. It shows that the sense is more than a people but a sense of the world, of belonging to the world, of seeing it as a parent and something you belong to. In this way, it went beyond society and the people.
The secret as self
I found that I seemed to grow and find my self in this ‘secret sense’. In fact, my self almost seemed to reside in it. Because it was removed from society it made me feel even more of a self, as it was me alone and in solitude. One effect of this is that, when I am in society, I seem to lose a sense of self and who I am. Or, to be more precise, in society I felt my ‘social self’ which tended to make my ‘self-as-me’ fade and disappear. Since I grew to become fond of my ‘self-as-me’ I found that the ‘social self’ tended to become too strong and this seemed to be a death to me, as if a part of me had died. In this way, “too much society” was like dying to me.
The secret as the “hunting instinct”
The secret, and the quest for it, seems to hit another aspect of life. To me, it seems to be associated with the “hunting instinct”, so to speak. By this I mean a deep inner drive and need to “hunt”. This is a male trait as I’ve never seen it in a female. It seems an instinct, as if it has been “wired” into us by nature. This “hunting instinct” primarily can be described as a “looking out into the world for life”. This “life”, initially, was no doubt food, when we used to hunt for animals. This, it seems to me, has progressed so that the “hunting instinct” has become a hunting or seeking for life. As a result, the “hunting instinct” has created a great need to hunt, seek, and quest after life for many of us. Because this hunting is set apart from society, in the secrecy, it is a typically solitary affair. This further puts emphasis on the self. (I’ve written several articles about the hunter such as “Thoughts on the ‘hunter stance’ – its interior form” and “Thoughts on how shamanism seems to be related to a hunter society” that you might find interesting).
The secret as life
With the “hunting instinct” as a hunting or seeking for life it becomes clear that the secret is, in actuality, life. In this way, life is found in the secret making the secret a source for life. In this way, the secret has this quality of great importance and need. Because we are always hunting for it there is always this sense of “its beyond me” with life. This is because a person never quite finds life . . . it is something that is always sought for, always remaining “beyond us” and never fully achieved. This makes it so that the sense of life is rooted in a perpetual need and seeking. This, of course, implies, that life is “hidden” or always elusive. To put it another way, it is secret. We are always seeking to “discover” or “disclose” this life that is hidden from us in the secrecy.
The secret as sanctity
Life, though, is more than just living. At its core, life is a reference to sanctity or sacredness. That is to say, the secret is really sanctity. When I say “sanctity” I mean that great inner sense of life in things. Sanctity is really a sense of life so deep that it is beyond us, beyond our comprehension, and beyond our self. Because of this, we cannot really ‘grasp’ it. In many respects, the “hunting” or seeking is this attempt at ‘grasping’ at sanctity, something we never really achieve. As a result of this, the ‘secret sense’ has a very spiritual-like quality to it.
The secret as a whole . . .
What the ‘secret sense’ really reveals is a sense of life that one seeks and hunts for. It is a sense of life that is so deep that it is beyond our ability to know or ‘grasp’ it: sanctity. Because of this inability, it remains hidden or secret from us. Despite this, we still hunt for it, for it is life.
It also reveals that a big part of the sense of life is the “parent and the tribe” which really refers to a sense of origins and belonging. In many ways, one cannot truly “live” without a “parent and tribe”. It is for this reason that I found that there is an association between the ‘secret sense’ and the “parent and tribe”. This is no mistake.
This fact, it seems to me, tends to be forgotten. In the U.S. people tend to think that to “live” means to “do” and “achieve” primarily. In other words, they see it in a self-satisfying hedonistic way no doubt reflective of the American hedonistic lifestyle. As a result of this, they tend to see that to “live” is an act, something they do. I, on the other hand, am actually speaking of a “sense of life”, which is not the same thing as an act. The description of the “living building”, and the ‘secret sense’ above, is based solely in a sense, an awareness. More importantly, it is an awareness that influences how I view and behave in the world, as well as how I view my self. This, in my opinion, is the basis of “living”. In that way, one could say that “living is a sense”.
Some common themes that all this brought out are:
- The importance of the ‘sense’ or awareness.
- The importance of origins (the “parent”).
- The importance of belonging (the “tribe”).
- The importance of the self.
- A sense of life.
- The need to seek or hunt.
- The fact that things are ‘beyond us’.
All these different qualities are like ingredients in a great soup, mixed together to make a whole. In many ways, they are all a part of the same thing.
Copyright by Mike Michelsen