Topic 4 – Me, Myself and I

Posted by on September 23, 2012 in Series-The View from Here | 11 comments

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Episode 4We are all a product of the unique way we organize data coming in from the world around us, a product of our worldview. The world is as the world is, but for each of us, it is instead a product of how we  experience it—meaning what thoughts we entertain about it and our emotional response to those thoughts. Read that sentence again. It is key. We have been duped into believing we’re interacting with the world when, in fact, we are interacting with our own thoughts about it. We rarely experience the world just as it is. We create it for ourselves through our thoughts, and our experiences of those thoughts. I don’t know about you, but when I got that, really got that, I felt like one of the lost children of Israel, as if every other creature on earth had been invited to live as a member of the grand family of life, but me. That’s what our worldview does to us. Not that we don’t belong, for we do; not that we’re not intimately a part of everything, for we are, but it doesn’t appear that way to us. Crazy,eh? Mary Oliver captures so poignantly where we find ourselves:

The place I want to get back to
is where in the pinewoods
in the moments between
the darkness and first light the
two deer came walking down the hill
and when they saw me
they said to each other, okay,
this one is okay,
let’s see who she is and why she is
sitting on the ground, like that,
so quiet, as if asleep or in a dream,
but, anyway, harmless;
and so they came on their slender legs
and gazed upon me not unlike the way
I go out to the dunes and look
into the faces of the flowers;
and then one of them leaned forward
and nuzzled my hand, and what
can my life bring me that could
exceed that brief moment…

We’re on the outside looking in, into our heads that is, while fully equipped to live in a different way, but seemingly not able. Yet, deep down we sense this contradiction, or we wouldn’t tear-up or sit in awe as we read this poem. We want to belong some way, some how.

It doesn’t take much of a jump to begin to understand why we struggle so relating to one another. In the midst of a conversation, work project, or ensuing romance, we have our own experience of it and they theirs. It makes misunderstanding rampant. It makes trust and openness often an act of sheer courage and faith.

I used to watch my border collie each morning as I undid his tie-up, and we walked off to another day of shepherding. Creag was ecstatic about the day’s possibilities, his eyes wide with anticipation, running circles around me for the utter hell of it. I wondered what it would be like to start my day in that state of unadulterated joy. I envied him. My dog was present with the world just as it was, but me, I’d stumble up the drive to the barn rapt in thought: lists of to do’s, worries, plans; nothing that reflected the world just as it was in that moment where Creag was living. And don’t think it was the lists or plans that were the problem. It was me making them my world, when my reality was  walking up the drive, surrounded by the day unfolding in a beautiful part of the world.

Can you believe it, all this trouble, trial and suffering the result of a syntax—the manner in which our language is structured—coupled with our early conditioning that teaches us to place our attention primarily among our thoughts in our head rather than in the place where we might be standing with whatever is happening there. This results in the world feeling more like a stranger than a friend. We become wary of it and the creatures that inhabit it. It should be getting clearer now, why we struggle so with the world and have the problems that we do and never seem to be able to completely solve any of them—meaning resolving them such that they do not appear again, i.e. war ends, starvation ceases, love exists without end. Instead, fear becomes a fact of life and the desire to control— our answer to being afraid—asserts itself as our common response, creating a reaction that keeps the wheel turning. Such a context makes our lives rife with tension, worry and belligerence.

To try and change the world from within our syntax is futile. Surely we’ve noticed our singular lack of advance in stopping war, crime, or inhumanity. The syntax is the problem. Working within it to produce real change is the proverbial rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. Or more eloquently put by Einstein—you cannot solve a problem at the same level of consciousness that created it. Can we free ourselves then from this conundrum? Indeed we can. Know Thyself is the first step. Topic 5: Squeezing the Infinite into Your Briefcase will help us a bit more to that end.

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11 Comments

  1. Very deep and philosophical Christina but such a great effort into plumbing the depths of our place in the world.

    • You are right, David, it takes quite an effort to see through our false sense of self . This false sense is why we have such difficulty as humans on this earth. And the difficulty is that we cannot transcend something we are unknowing about. So it was never a strictly philosophical piece of work for me, but rather the critical step. To thine own self be true is only possible when you can know what thine own self is and what it isn’t. I truly appreciate your observations and thoughts on this David. Thank you indeed.

  2. I don’t want to interact with the world as it is. That’s too depressing. I would rather interact with the world as I want it to be. That’s why I write. I create a world and make it as happy, as lonely, as depressing as I want it to be.

    • Oh I do understand. What I didn’t make clear , so thanks for this, is the “world” that I’m referring to is the natural world, not the world as mankind has created it. Interestingly, we also create that “other” world, the one we live in, only we have little awareness of this all important fact.

  3. Wow. You are rewriting the incomprehensible life manual, Christina! This is so what we needed. A step by step, example by example, how-to. Your clarity of thought and ability to put that into words continues to be beyond remarkable! Looking forward to the next chapter with great anticipation!

    • Thanks, Jo. We are all here as resources to one another. And loving that you too are, in your own heartfelt and poetic style are adding to this conversation. Tree cheers for Renewable Wisdom. http://amzn.to/PDkIjy

  4. People see what they expect to see. They hear what they want to hear. The believe what they are taught to believe. To do otherwise is to rebel. Viva el revolucion!

    • I couldn’t agree more, Jack. Unfortunately, we always run out the door to change the world, when the true revolution must take place within each of us.

  5. Christina – your posts always seem to parallel something going on in my life. I recently listened to an author – her name now escapes me – who had written a book on just this subject. She contended that we – I took her to mean our society – is basically unable to leave in the moment. That we can only do that for a fraction of a minute and then we are automatically plunged into thoughts of the future – what to do next or how we should write about this experience – or analyzing what deep meaning this moment has, etc., etc.

    Pulling our heads out of our minds for even a short period of time every day would make a big difference in our own lives and probably the world as a whole. Thanks – love this post.

    • That was supposed to be LIVE in the moment.

    • You’re bang on, Kathy. It is as simple and as difficult as that – be present. The simple part is that the internal conversation is what keeps the entire ruse going, and the difficult part is that too, as it has very little inclination to hush. One of the reasons to do this work that I’m writing about, coming to know this false sense of self inside out and backwards, is because we’ll see through some of the contradictions the false self sets up, and when we do, those parts of the charade drop away. And the conversation about that particular aspect dies away as well. Your last sentence is bang on, for the more time you can be aware of the moment, the stronger the intent becomes to be there. The truly good news is: We are never out of the moment. There is only this moment. It is the conversation rampaging in our minds that steals our awareness of this all important fact.

Thoughtful comments are always welcome!

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