Because we assume that consciousness is simply a passive reflection of the world, we fail to grasp its real function, to act as a kind of laser beam cutting into reality to reveal its meaning. By “meaning” I am not talking about a rational argument or explanation, but the same kind of insights one might experience when one reads their favorite poets. Meaning of this kind is an immediate, unreflective appreciation, like that delicious sense of relief when we are thirsty and feel a cold drink going down our throats. It is essentially a sense of grabbing hold of reality. It communicates to us the insight that the world is interesting, infinitely more interesting than we give it credit for being.
In some ways we passively accept what is known and do not actively pursue and discover for ourselves what is interesting and mysterious about life.
These two prior paragraphs were a rewording of a section of Gary Lachman’s book and discussion of Colin Wilson’s idea of “consciousness”. “A Secret History of Consciousness”
It is often the case that with the vast resource of information available to us we passively accept that the expertise of others is more of an authority of what is known and do not actively pursue and discover for ourselves what is interesting and mysterious about life. We do not seem to realize what is missed in this passive embracing of life.
I’ve been reading the poetry of Mary Oliver often these days mostly because it takes me away from the fixed perspective and opens me to a more imaginative, formless place. I have come to realize that ideation, the formula, the concept prevent me from looking at the fact of what is. They have become conventional escapes in our modern lives that keep us unconscious, contributing to a sense of seeming as if “life” were something else. We seem to receive a great deal from denial. The world looks the way it does because of it; in some way or another in our refusing to see it as it is and as long as we are interested in our present way of living we will not abandon our denial. Our denial gives us a world to explore and control over that world. In some way that offers a sense-of-self that can thrive within the knowledge offered. As we keep ourselves occupied with tasks, important or not, we avoid facing life. We keep a safe and comfortable distance to the issues that are sometimes hard to look at and we become dependent on the noise of thought for self-validation at the cost of being with something more real of ourselves. We have experiences to seek out, problems to ponder and solve, and pleasures to pursue. We get it all, but it is all nothing. In general these days I like to read writers that share my experience that the fixed idea, formula, concept so often prevents us from looking at the fact of what is. There are many of them that have Come to see this truth of life.
An influx of knowledge at the end of the 20th century sheds new light on the situation of human beings in the universe. Parallel progress in cosmology, earth sciences, ecology, biology and prehistory in the 1960s and 1970s have modified our ideas about the universe, the earth, life and humanity itself. But these contributions remain disjointed. That which is human is cut up into pieces of a puzzle that cannot form an image. . . The new knowledge, for lack of being connected, is neither assimilated nor integrated. There is progress in knowledge of the parts and paradoxical ignorance of the whole. – Edgar Morin
What has contributed to our human ability to see in pieces can cause us to become stuck in abstraction and fragmentation. Tom Cheetham writes “The world is distant from the Divine to the extent that we are trapped in the dogmatic, the fixed and the literal, to the extent that we can only see the the apparent, the letter.” (A reference to the origin of language being symbol.We have lost that) John O’Donohue also suggests that In the Western tradition, that line, that threshold between light and darkness, between soul and body, God and human, between ourselves and nature has often been atrophied. When the threshold freezes, the two sides get cut off from each other and the result is dualism.
In his search for something more whole, the Physicist David Bohm writes about the the limitations on knowing and the human process of perceiving and that what we take for reality are often “surface phenomena, explicate forms that have temporarily unfolded out of an underlying implicate order”. The “implicate order” is the ground from which reality emerges. In our fragmented seeing what arises here, that is no less relevant, is often missed.
As humans we do have a capacity to expand our perceptions, to see in a more whole way and to realize the ultimate interconnection of all. This is essential if we are to address problems that have arisen as a consequence of actions created from our history of being in which we confound the esoteric with the subjective (the subjective experience is not measurable and therefore is unreal) and the exoteric with the objective ( objectivity is associated with the exoteric and is measurable, material and that is what is real).
It’s a beautiful sunny, blue skied day here but it doesn’t do the same for me as a similar day in Canada does. Perhaps it is more that I miss the closeness to nature; being able to walk outside my door and find myself alone in nature, whenever I choose to. There is something about being in nature that allows me to settle into what I am. There are so many layers and actors in role here in Germany and in Canada as well but it’s more that nature is closer and that I can escape those not so intimate influences much more easily.
In nature; I am not compelled to contend with what mankind has so blatantly, in disregard, created. I don’t think that it,s avoidance as much as a submergence. What has become unconscious arises there; allowing for awareness of a bond with nature and a creative imagination that is more clearly revealed at those depths. There is an experience of transcendence in this; of the rising above a way of a world largely trapped in an , orientation that is an exhaustive materialistic pursuit of ephemeral goals. In transcendence, there is a leaving behind of a host of superficial problems that have arisen out of that orientation.
In nature, I am, closer to the “Imaginal”. I distinguish between imagination and thinking in the use of this word and the quote by John O ‘Donahue that I have included here illuminates that somewhat. “The imagination tries to take change and inhabit it in a way that allows it to be transfigurative rather than destructive. The lovely thing about the imagination is that, whereas the mind often sees change and thinks everything is lost, the imagination can always go deeper than the actual experience of the loss and find something else in it. There is an amazing difference between the way the mind sees something and the way the imagination sees something.”
Crossing Unmarked Snow by William Stafford
The things you do not have to say make you rich.
Saying the things you do not have to say weakens your talk.
Hearing the things you do not need to hear dulls your hearing.
The things you know before you hear them, those are you and this is reason that you are in the world.
Seeing the Illussion
There is a ‘painted veil’ before our eyes that contributes to an illusion about life. It has provided me with some sense of superficial and illusive security. From the silence I am able to realize the presence of the ” veil” that enables the realization that the life that I have perceived and the refuges that I have habitually sought are somehow unreal and contribute to lessen my integrity. It has all been a part of making what is boundaryless in life into a hard surface, partly to reduce feeling vulnerable and exposed. One can easily become so engaged in the pursuit of excess that moulds and forms that superficial surface to the point that one can no longer sense the true shape of oneself.
But beginning to glimpse beneath that hard surface I see that there lies a living, vital, magical world that the rigid and relatively impenetrable surface has hidden. The meditative, contemplative life has been transforming me and I think, not without grieving the loss of the illussion. Not depression, but lots of grief , but with a clearer seeing. I can no longer engage in activities that contribute to the surface creation and sustenance. Part of this deeper realization involves understanding how living a veiled life has isolated and desensitized me, draining me of humanity and compassion. My exposure to Asia and to myself has contributed to opening to something else, bigger than myself, that is very difficult to resist; however much it involves an adjustment, there is an increased awareness that most of us in what we call the west are privileged and that there is a duty of privilege and that is absolute integrity.
Discovery cannot come as long as you cling to the familiar. —NISARGADATTA MAHARAJ
These days I find myself more than ever looking to immerse myself in silence; allowing myself to sink ever deeper into that alchemical stillness.Out of the silence I am able to escape from blindness wrought by my conditioning. Following that conditioning I cling to the familiar. In silence there is a light that illuminates the compromising, self indulgent and limiting habits and patterns and the resistance to change. One such, most enduring, collective, conventional norm is the embrace of a most atrophied complacency that often passes for achievement and respectability. Contemplation for the best part enables a seeing of what ultimately has been a barrier to what is active, dynamic and authentic of existence. Out of silence I may become briefly aware, at moments, of my mind as an active power, and not, as it usually appears to me, a passive reflection of the “real world. I am aware that our minds are active and able in other ways than the limited ways that we have been directed to use them.
I understand that what emerges from the stillness determines what I am, discovering that I am energized and refined in this wordless essence. Life is endlessly unfolding and an ongoing process of transition. In opening in such a way, the external veneer of self that I have invested a life time in creating and sustaining is melting; a slow dripping into oblivion. As I slowly emerge from that, I rediscover a sense of innocence, creativity and nakedness long ago forgotten. There is apprehension in the unknown that is encountered here. Experiencing that which in my fear and ignorance, I have endlessly avoided I only now realize that there has been something essential in the knowledge of myself that has been hidden that could possibly be understood with new insight. It’s ironic that I am only now finding the courage to face what I have always inevitably feared. I thank God for that courage. I need It in order to be present to those experiences that I have in the past shuffled into the darkness and that I once again encounter in silence.
John O’donahue writes “There is within you the presence in a refined sense of everything that has ever happened to you, and if you go looking for it you will find it. A lot of the experiences that we have in the world are torn, broken, hard experiences, and in broken, difficult, lonesome experiences you earn a quality of light that is very precious”.