Publicity and “the meaning of life”

Publicity and “the meaning of life”

Sunday, October 7, 2018

6 a.m. I feel like I’ve been away on a long journey. I see I haven’t done this since Monday.

No harm in taking a break from things. Staying on the beam doesn’t mean being a Johnny-one-note, and it doesn’t mean trying to hold your attention even on one attitude, much less one thought. Intent is everything as navigator, but life has an endless series of interesting obstacles and detours; it is rarely a straight line for long, and never a straight line from start to finish. And think how boring that would prove to be, if it were!

Judith Pennington revised her report on our ILC session last June, when she had wired me up while I talked to you guys. She said I could do anything with the report that I wanted to. Any ideas? I thought about putting it on my blog, and hence Facebook.

But you are beginning to wonder if you should do more than transmit raw material.

You know, I am. I did, but I had forgotten. Yes, I realized (and forgot) that I ought to do my own article about the process of ILC, centering not on Mind Mirror but on the process as I experience it.

And now you are wondering why you never thought of that before.

I am, yes.

Well, you see the difference?

I do now that you point it out. Before, I would have felt it was self-promotion, and now I see that even if it is, so what? A different attitude, for me.

One your friends have been waiting for, for a long time.

That doesn’t mean they were right.

Nor that they were wrong. But timing is everything. The reasons behind your distaste for self-promotion may have been valid at one point and no longer valid now.

Self-distrust, you mean.

Let’s look at it more carefully.


As you look at the world around you, you see people endlessly competing, jostling, shouting for attention, saying “Look at me! Look at me! I’m important.” And it – well, maybe not “turns your stomach,” but anyway fills you with distaste.

It certainly does.

But there is a paradox involved, as you have only recently become aware.

Specifically, rereading The Founding Father and The Patriarch, back to back.

Not only Joseph P. Kennedy, not only his politician children, but everyone competing in the arena of public life has to engage publicity, you see.

And, as Joe Kennedy used to say, things don’t happen, they are made to happen.

And you have spent a lifetime waiting for recognition of invisible traits, and instead meeting reactions to traits that are far more visible but perhaps not so central – indeed, peripheral – to your own inner compass.

It makes me feel like a dope, not to have realized it, and yet in some way I still feel I wasn’t wrong.

Wrong as in “incorrect,” not as in “morally culpable.”

Of course.

Not of course. It was your feeling that to call attention to yourself in any but the most obvious of ways would be a sin of pride and a sin – if there is such a sin – of foolish egocentricity.

Is that how I thought of it?

Not consciously, but we don’t really need to talk about what you do consciously, do we? That, you can do alone, so to speak. It is the advantage of ILC as you have learned to practice it that you can bridge the conscious and unconscious materials to some extent, pretty much as much as you want, keeping it within safe limits, but moving into the unknown.

I guess I never thought of it just that way.

You were thinking of it as a way to move into unknown territory of abstract knowledge, which was your interest. It took a while for you to realize that the most interesting area of abstract knowledge – for you, for anyone – is very close at hand, but not any the easier to access.

Personal self-knowledge. Yes, I can see that. It’s all hedged around with taboos, and filters, and clever diversion techniques designed to prevent us from seeing behind the scenes.

Does it seem to you to be that way? An alternate description would be: This is your personal connection with all the rest of reality, available to you as soon as it becomes important enough to you for you to do the work of untangling it from personal quirks, kinks, disconnects, hobby-horses.

Hmm. This sounds like Carl Jung and Paul Brunton: Clear away the obstacles and you realize how much more you are than you thought.

Jung, Brunton – and Jesus, and the Buddha, and uncounted others. There are a million ways to approach it, but it amounts to this: You are not an accidental collection of psychic materials any more than you are an accidental collection of physical materials. You were laid down as a blueprint. You “make sense.” You are not a meaningless jumble. But you aren’t usually born understanding who and what you are. At rare intervals – very rare intervals – someone may be born knowing, but mostly, almost universally, you are born not knowing. You are a puzzle needing assembly, or a maze with a concealed outlet, or an algebraic equation needing solving. And that is your life, you see. You are here to figure out the meaning of your life.

I think I see. To figure out the meaning of our lives one by one. It isn’t “one size fits all.”

How could it be? The meaning of life is one thing to a flower, another to an animal or mineral or this or that human. You can’t even average it down to “Life is about growth, or survival.” Life in its intricacy is by definition about everything, visible and invisible; past, present, and future; tangible and abstract; agreeable and disagreeable.

So in a way it is useless to try to figure out “the meaning of life.”

It is, unless that quest is central to your interest, in which case the quest itself is part of your meaning. But yes, in and of itself, figuring out the meaning of life isn’t the meaning of your life, but, perhaps, an important part of it. Important for you. important to you. And the answers are going to be limited, as the questioner is limited. Nothing wrong with that.

To return to the point: Doing your work on yourself will help you get into better touch with who and what you really are, or, let’s say, with what you can still grow into. It is never useless to do that sort of exploring. But, it requires certain traits and a certain resolve, and a certain orientation, and, here is where we began this discussion. External orientation – Success! Fame! Acquisition! – leads away from introspection, usually. It is more than a case of taking the importance of external things for granted, it is a turning away from reality, though rarely seen as such.

Yes. That’s what I’ve always known.

But then you look at those famous people you admire, and you see them totally concentrated upon external achievement, relentlessly pursuing the public acclaim that will assist them in their pursuit, and you wonder, how do the two things square?

Well, I do. And I always thought, seeking publicity for yourself is crude.

Beneath you.

Beneath anybody, I should think. But I guess it isn’t so.

There’s a distinction to be drawn here – one of many, but we’ll settle for this one, at the moment. When one seeks publicity, what does he seek it for? Self-aggrandizement? Leverage? Mobilization?

I understand. You can seek publicity because it feeds the ego – the 3D-bound ego, rather than the total Self – or because it helps you accomplish something, or because it helps you get into position to be able to do other things.

Peter Wimsey [Dorothy Sayers’ creation] said, “God makes power, Padre, and man makes engines.” Nature’s forces are available; it is what you choose to do with those available to you that determines your life. So, in seeking public office, you may have no idea what you intend to do if you attain it, or may have only vague ideas, but in any case, you are going to need to beat your own drum. If you want to develop a product, or be the first person to fly the Atlantic solo, or do anything involving the cooperation of other people, you are going to need to draw attention to yourself in one way or another. The question, the real question, is always, “What do you intend to accomplish externally, and, equally, what are you willing to pay of your own life-force, to further that goal?”

There is much more to say here, but there’s your hour, so let’s leave it open-ended for the moment.

Pretty abrupt, but okay.

It is always worthwhile to leave people unfinished edges to chew on, so to speak.

On that mixed metaphor, thanks and we’ll see you next time.


One thought on “Publicity and “the meaning of life”

  1. I love the parts that remind us to bring all that we’re growing more and more aware of back to our own lives, as lived. Otherwise, I’m just reading a book. What am I willing to work with inter-personally? What am I looking for externally? As almost always happens, this session coincides with my life-as-lived. It’s part of what helps to expand my awareness of different aspects of my own situation. Working through relationship discomforts, life decisions, and my sense of self “as soon as it becomes important enough to you for you to do the work of entangling it from” everything else, does “Clear away the obstacles and you realize how much more you are than you thought.” The doubting, non-trusting, over-analytical part becomes trusting and old patterns and habits can be seen for what they are. I’m always thanking you for the illumination you bring.

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