Living in a torrent of forces

Saturday, September 23, 2017

6 a.m. First full day of Autumn.

All right, I think I know where you are going next. At least, it has been in my mind recurrently. Passions. Or, emotions, at least. I have been hearing that we live in a sea of emotions.

Do you not think it is interesting that philosophers and scientists attempt to explain the human life without beginning from the self-evident fact that human life is dominated by emotion? You are not creatures of thought, or logic, or abstract yearnings for knowledge, or any of the things you may consider yourselves to be when you sit down to define your lives. You are people living an endless procession of emotions, even the calmest of you, even the iciest and most self-centered and autistic of you, even the most sociopathically self-centered of you. Your lives are not about thought or about rational development. They are the living of forces from well beyond consciousness or thought.

Pretty broad brush we’re painting with, this morning.

It did get your attention, perhaps, and in this case, that is not so easy. You have such a firm opinion of something so obviously incorrect, it is necessary to shout, you might say.

You had a friend who was convinced that he felt no emotions. He thought of himself as a hard-headed scientist, seeing himself – seeing life – rationally, surrounded by people whose lives were driven by emotion. The fact that he was wrong but certain could sum up the human situation in this regard. You are the conduits of vast impersonal forces, and you rarely suspect the fact, because when you are aware of the forces flowing through you, they seem to be your forces, mobilized for some personal reason, or provoked by some personal encounter. And when you are not aware of them, you forget the awareness you had had, and you go back to thinking yourselves rational self-directed beings.

Not sure who you are describing. I don’t have any such illusion, and I don’t know anybody who does. We know we –

Oh, do continue!

Very funny. All right, the sense of what you meant just penetrated, and so I do see your point. And I guess I’ll be better able to say this than you will. I can at least use a one-inch brush instead of a paint-roller.

I interrupted myself because I started to say that I and my friends realize that we are subject to intractable problems – emotional biases dating back to childhood, sometimes; the effects of past traumas; what analysts call complexes; persistent failings we are unable to root out. But I stopped when I realized, that is exactly what our friend here just said: I was defining us as rational beings with problems, and we could at least equally well be defined as creatures living lives shaped by forces beyond our control. Or, not quite. By forces either beyond our control or forces needing to be controlled.

But that is an advance in understanding, is it not? You are not rational being interrupted by occasional (or even frequent, or even continual) emotional forces. You are compound beings living your entire life as conduits for forces that flow through you, you doing what you can to channel and direct them. That is not the picture John Locke would paint of humans. Nor B.F. Skinner. But equally it is not the point of view of Freud and Jung and those who accompanied and followed them. They recognized the role of passion in the human, but they assumed that the human occupied a detached place that was affected by the emotions and what they knew as the problems of the person. They did not necessarily see that in any person’s life the central fact is that the 3D individual is a conduit of forces from beyond. They tended to see the 3D individual as a separate unit affected by these forces. We have repeated this now, several times. We wonder: Have any of you actually heard it?

Some will. I did, I think.

We will repeat it from time to time, because you may find the concept elusive. Your physically separate and seemingly independent life accustoms you to thinking your mental life equally separate, and your civilization accustoms you to seeing your emotional life as an offshoot of your mental life, which is ridiculous but persuasive because habitual.

You know, I think that for the first time I understand why the metaphysical types and the religious types can not be made to take each other seriously!

Not to mention the scientific types, the “hard-headed realist” types and especially the worshipper of an idea of the mind as an ideal. Go ahead.

It is not just a temperamental difference, nor a matter of prejudice, nor of strongly held opinion, though that is how I have usually seen it (on either side). They aren’t using the same definitions!

They do not consider the same forces, no. They define the world differently.

And that isn’t a matter of opinions, but of orientation. It seems clear at the moment, so I’d better write it down. Religious thought begins by seeing humans as living in a torrent of emotion

Not quite.

No. not emotion. Well, a torrent of forces, call them, that often manifest as emotion or even as persistent non-rational motivators. Religious thought proceeds from a recognition that we as individuals are not the basic unit we think ourselves to be, but are conduits of vast inhuman forces that they perhaps personify as God or Devil, or perhaps see merely as illusion. [I was thinking of Buddhism, here.] For those who do not see life in this way, religious thought seems nonsensical, superstitious.

I think, though, that my own brush broadened at the tip during use just then. Still, I think it is a valid insight. And you can see that psychotherapy is halfway toward religious thought, only it persists (as far as I know) in thinking the individual the unit it seems to be, rather than the construct and community it also is.

All right, now you, and at least some of your readers, will have made the adjustment. You will find life looks differently, only – look close to hand, don’t succumb to the temptation to look only (or primarily) at others, or at society at large. Look to your own lives: What else do you know so well? What else can you know “essence to essence,” so to speak?

This is very interesting. With that one fundamental insight, we can proceed beyond futile arguments about the track record of organized religions, and about points of dogma, and about most of the things that prevent discussion on sympathetic grounds. Once realize that the great divide is between those who think us independent units mostly motivated by reason and those who see us as conduits of vast impersonal forces, and lots of things clear up, including where (relative to that divide) we ourselves belong.

Bearing in mind, of course, that this is one way to divide the world.

Yes, like the joke, “the world is divided into two kinds of people, those who divide the world into two kinds of people and those who don’t.”

It is useful at any given moment, but remember that the cake may be sliced in many different directions, to yield different, equally valid, divisions. But this particular division should prove particularly useful just at the moment.

And that’s it for now? We’re still ten minutes short of an hour.

But a logical place to pause, and an opportunity for people to examine the nature of their lives to see if they agree with what has been said.

Okay. Many thanks. Very interesting insight today.


11 thoughts on “Living in a torrent of forces

  1. Frank, this has been an interesting week with your posts and everyone’s contributions and questions. Based on yesterday’s post I had the thought of shifting my perspective from seeing myself and those I encountered as flows of energies rather than individual personalities. It was easier to do with people that I didn’t know rather than with friends or family. The differences are hard to put into words but one thing that I realized was how much my judgments and preconceived ideas change the energies of my experience. Viewing from an energetic perspective rather than only through our physical personalities allowed me to step back a bit and watch the energies of each situation unfold. Although my relation to the energies seemed to be from a somewhat removed perspective in actuality I seemed to be very present in the moment with my participation in the energies of creation.

    Thank you for your thought provoking work and this forum.

  2. Best post ever! This is truth for me. And not just me. I’m remembering the quote about nothing is faster than a thought but an emotion, and Daniel Kahneman, a psychologist who won a Nobel Prize in 2002 for showing that people are not the rational agents that economists had thought they were, and certainly feminism’s recognition of the value of emotions. “Look to your own lives”–this, I think, is where spirituality is supposed to begin and end. I’m in the midst of an emotional fracas with my brother, and we were already scheduled to talk this morning. This post has made all the difference in how I’ll approach that talk. It has me laughing out loud. We are not rational beings, occasionally having emotions, often against our will. We are emotional beings, through and through, meant “to channel and direct them.” That’s where our choices come in. Thanks so much for getting the words, Frank! And thanks to your source.
    PS–thank you, Karla, for your comment.

  3. Hereby declaring no coincidences exists! Thank you very much.
    And to read these latest postings of yours making it Complete to me !
    Frank, Karla and Jane…. I`m just back home from a weekend travel to a visit with my sister & the family of hers. If talking about contrasting energies…. To be objective about our emotions and “to channel and direct them” in a constructive way ! We are emotinal beings. When away got a phone call my dear (“our” cat as my husband loved the pussycat deeply likewise) pussy was killed by a car.
    When my husband calling me, his voice tried not to cry(I could “hear it”), and by my big surprise the tears came in my eyes, and cried a bit myself.
    And when coming back home last night the house FELT EMPTY, as a empty shell. No pussycat happy meeting me….Sigh !

    ….A peculiar life it is….Inger Lise.

    1. Inger Lise–I had my cat for 21 years. How is that not a member of the family? He was of barn-cat stock and remained pretty independent, which I loved about him. At the end, he developed brain lesions and I held him as they put him to sleep. I know there are things he helped me carry, and I heard his foot steps in the hall for a long time after he died. Thanks for sharing your story. I’m raising my cup of coffee to you and your cat.

      1. Thank you very much for your lovely words Frank. I have loved what you told about the cat-owners. You`re absolutely right about “the cat is owning us, more in us “owing” them.

        And Jane.
        Oboy ! 21 years !!! Wonder if a Barn-Cat living that long because of the freer environment about them and no cars in sight ! You`re absolutely right about their inborn independency (their nature).
        Our last cat became only 8 years old. But when we had a farm once upon a time, also had more cats around us together with our dearly beloved Border-Collie. The dog became 15 years old after the hard work in the field…..The Border-Collie a wise Shepherd to our sheeps and some goats.
        Yes, treating the animals with Love and Care, and our beloved pets are returning their unconditional love & loyality back… a hundred –
        thousand times over back to us.

        Jane Roberts telling much about her cats, and what Seth explaining about their cats to be there with them as family-members. Highly impressive.
        Indeed agree with you feeling them around after “death.” But have not noticed anything as yet.
        I am to recal a vivid/lucid dream some days after our Border-Collie “passing over”…. I could watch her in the dream-landscape, running about into the well-known hills we used to go. Susie(the dogs name) was happily running as ever over the fields towards me. And I knew she wanted to show me she was happy and doing fine. When Susie lived with us in 15 years of time…. always to have FELT Susie was A LOVE TREATISE for us; and showing us how to behave against each others in cooperation(gathering the flock), as Susie did out of unconditional love all the time.

        Seth says our pets are “aspects” of us. Pretty thought-provoking matters indeed.
        Peculiar enough but we are Loved by “somebody out there.”

        B & B, Inger Lise

    2. Inger Lise,

      My sympathies on the passing of your cat. My two cats that passed were my baby girls, each one unique and special. One of them named Pandora always greeted me at the door when I came home from work. She would raise her paw straight up in the air as if to say hi and then wait for my hug. Can’t say enough about all our beloved pets and how much I learned from them and how much they are all still missed. Wow Jane, 21 years …

      Sending love to your hearts.


        1. I have two rescue cats now. They are for sure smarter than I am, and I think of them as my teachers. My son teases me for how sappy I get about them, but there you have it.

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