Filters, scripts, screens

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Well, it’s 5:30 AM and I have been up for an hour and more, swapping memory boards on a computer, doing e-mail-related things, and here I am wondering what kind of new life involves getting up in the middle of the night (perforce, being unable to breathe comfortably any longer, having already had to move from bed to recliner and from recliner to couch). Oh well, it does get me up and running.

All right, friends, what’s up, and who?

Who – as you have discovered, perhaps your most important discovery – doesn’t much matter except when a given known individual comes in with familiar energy. What is our continuing theme – how to live, and encourage others to live, a more conscious contented and productive life. If you could look back at your whole intellectual life, you would see, to your surprise, that this has been the central thread from earliest times. When you were a boy, it came in the form of wishing for (believing in) powers such as Superman had – x-ray vision, flying, etc. A little older and it came in the form of Colin Wilson’s vision of superior mental abilities and greater access. Amid many distractions (life, in other words!) your central preoccupation remained a conviction that life as you were living it was not what it should be; that you were idling away your time for lack of knowing how to work the machine (so to speak); that life was more than you could grasp, though you caught the scent from a distance.

Monroe and his techniques seemed to offer a way to the kingdom Wilson promised, or shall we say pointed to. Gateway showed you the difference between an intellectual approach and a more explosive, more utterly transformative, more powerful self-transformation through the power of love. And your life since then has been an alternation of life at one level and life at another, lower, more interactive level. At one level you trusted; at the other you did not. The one had no room for the victim/villain scenario, the other remained stuck in it. But you know all this.

Now you are into the final stage of the process, living what you know, teaching it, and mostly exemplifying it. Of course it isn’t going to be entirely comfortable, but what new phase ever is?

It is true that I feel more all-of-a-piece than ever before, but I thought that might be merely my freedom from external-life relations.

Suppose it is.  Who arranged your life and priorities in such a way as to make that possible? As usual, your external life reflects your internal life. How else could it be?

I won’t argue it, though I can think of arguments that might be made.

Even your willingness to let an argument go unvoiced and unpursued is a difference, is it not?

Perhaps. So, your central point, here?

The work you and Nancy Ford have been doing, the workshops you and Joanne DiMaggio have put on, the manuscript you are publishing via Bob Friedman, your e-mail communication with friends and acquaintances, all has been leading you to greater clarity as to what you know and what you have to say.

Yes, it has, I can see that. We are looking for an enhanced fluidity of consciousness, a greater living in the actual moment, the actual world, rather than in a largely self-created fantasy of screens and scripts.

And you above all know the seductive power and the tenacious distortions that are inherently involved in communication through words.

Do I not! Rich Spees calls me Dances With Words, but I am well aware of how much can’t be said – or rather —

Proceed. This is your specialty, you know, explaining.

I’m coming to see words as pointers. They aren’t the thing they’re talking about, but they’re useful in talking about them. But the problem is, they can’t actually do the job. This will take some setting up. Are you sure this is the best use of the time?

Yes, because your teaching now moves into another phase. Your friends know about access to the other side. They’ve seen it done and they’ve been encouraged to do it themselves, and there’s no point in spending more time telling them about it. If they want to do it, they have all the instruction they need. If they want to just read about somebody else doing it, you have no responsibility to provide the morning’s entertainment. But starting today, right now, you could begin to write out your material on the fly, so to speak. Rather than just chatting with us, you could – can – do the writing at the same time.

Interesting idea. Maybe not so different from how writing is done anyway, in fact.

Not so different, except more deliberately, more consciously.

All right, let’s see how it goes. [Omitting italics from here to end.]

The problem with words is that they are relatively fixed as signposts, but what they mean is different to each person because of the unsuspected associations each person has. To one person, “tree” means leafy shade; to another, an air purifying organism; to another, a nuisance that drops leaves and must be cleaned up after; to another, habitat for squirrels; to another, mold-friendly environment. None of these is wrong; none is the only one; none is sufficient, and – most important for our topic at the moment – none is fixed. What “tree” means to any of us varies moment by moment, dependent on context. That’s well and good, and part of the strengths, versatility, and seeming precision of language – but it also tempts us to see as static what is dynamic. It gives us a false idea of what we are hearing and what others are hearing from us.

But I don’t want to limit the example to a noun like “tree.” It’s true of any word that can be used, because it’s inherent in the process.

Let’s remember what we’re doing here: We’re pursuing a firmer, more continuous, consciousness. That’s a subtext in this discussion of words. If we lose sight of the goal, we lose the context, and the subject dries up and becomes merely abstract, merely disconnected from life.

Isn’t that what’s wrong with our lives? Aren’t we usually, or anyway often, afflicted with a deadness we can’t shake off?

My brother began sitting with a Zen group, and found that it reconnected him with parts of himself that had gotten submerged in a long life of external concerns. Now, he is not a superficial person, nor one to concentrate on externals and forget the internal. But always there are continuous unnoticed pressures on us. Career, family, health, whatever, the world will keep reminding us, and unless we learn to bring ourselves back to ourselves, it will distract us and tempt us into a more robotic, automatic existence.

Deadness, automatic existence, the feeling that we are living a life that somehow isn’t very much about us – isn’t that the thing that is the problem?

Like many of my friends, I have more or less given up on listening to the “news.” This has its price, naturally. And yet, how much of what is on the “news” has any practical relation to our real lives? How much of the concern you feel for some foreign country’s problems is in any way real within you?

I don’t mean to say that it can’t be real. I say only that listening to the news reinforces the automatic way we lead our lives, and makes it harder to stay to stay centered. Indeed, music can do that. Reading. Any form of external input. Only, reading requires more conscious intent to pick up the book and focus on it than radio does, perhaps.

This gets beside the point. To come back to it:

There is a world out there. It exists. We exist within it. Define it however you want to, you know what I mean by it. That world, whatever its true nature, is known to us only through our interpretation of it. No two people have the same internal map of the world. No two see the same scene even as they look at it, because what they associate with their sense perceptions is necessarily going to be different.

We see the world through filters. The fewer the filters, or the more we find ways to avoid using them, the closer we get to seeing what is really there.

We react to stimuli by letting automatic reactions kick in, so we speak in scripts and don’t realize that it isn’t really us speaking.

We see through screens, that prevent us from seeing what we determined not to see. (The determination, being at a level not present in our consciousness, is invisible to us).

All these things get in the way of our actually being alive and present in the world – and this doesn’t even begin to address problems like fears, prejudices, and self-defense mechanisms, all of which are closely related, obviously.

So what do all these words about the subject have to do with the problem of words? Simply that writing about, or reading about, the problem won’t lead to change, though it may lead to a desire to change. Words are pointers. When confused with the thing they describe, they seem to be an acceptable substitute – or even seem to be the thing itself – and so we read about the problem and go away convinced that we’ve done something about it. Which we have not. Not yet. It’s true that to become aware is the beginning of the way, but it is not the way, much less the goal, or the attainment of the goal.

And since I can scarcely form the letters at this point, I guess it’s time to pause.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.