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A friend recently asked some questions to help her make sense of events that had recently shaken her worldview. I thought I would share my response.
Life is strange if you reflect upon it for long enough. Even staring at a single word on a page for long enough will make you question its validity. It begins to lose its meaning...
Your relationship with the world is personal, you derive meaning from it from everything you have experienced in it up to this moment... When the plates of your life are shaken as strongly as yours have been... It is almost impossible not to begin to question the purpose of life, your role within it... and everything that is supporting your life as you are now experiencing it.
This world you were living in for all those years is outwardly the same but your perception of it has radically shifted. Some of the supports and crutches that gave you stability in your world view have ended. You are now faced with a paradigm shift... A time of reflection and introspection; a phase when you try and make sense of this new perspective... It can reveal to you elements of your reality that you never questioned... And so what you might say - I preferred it before...
Before continuing I would like to impress upon you that what I write is not only limited by the written word but my subjective experience - my opinions are subject to the same influences of ignorance as your own... My own investigation into the same questions you pose were borne of my own subjective suffering, loss and loneliness... Such is the nature of suffering - whatever cloak it wears - it tests our spirit... If it were all roses - would we ever really deeply question our place in the universe as we saw it.. or be pushed on to really uncover what lies behind this drama we call life?
In brief, we have been taught to believe we live on a rock... Circling another rock in some space somewhere... Our life as we understand it is supported by the other rock... The distance between these rocks is just right to support the correct temperature to support life. It also needs another smaller rock to circle it - which gives rise to tides... etc... we have accepted these assumptions and many more... it is how we function...
A Tsunami can bring on the next ice-age because - everything is interconnected - including our minds and belief systems - the balance is delicate because of this interconnectedness. Our daily awareness is completely unaware of so many supporting conditions that need to be in place for us to just breathe let alone do something as miraculous as give birth to new life. We can go a whole life without questioning any of these assumptions. And without cause why should we..?
It is often suffering that shifts our gaze to make such fundamental reflections. There is incredible depth to experiencing something as "annoying" as a puncture... For all the conditions that had to be in place for it to happen stem back to the beginning of time... It is lofty... but even science cannot refute the infinitesimal odds... This level of subtly is the domain of the spirit... and we are never apart from it. Simply reflecting upon the miracle of good fortune to be born into a human body with everything functioning more or less as it should, with honest gratitude and humility, can awaken us to direct experience of the spirit. What is the "spirit"?
I would define it as a divine romance, between the compound odds of all the conditions that need to be met to support our reality and our subjective experience of that reality dancing in emptiness... Those experiences we cannot capture with reason are called mystical and mysterious because they cannot be defined, they can only be experienced - only then do they become known to us... but they can fade as easily as a dream fades. However when they touch us again we remember everything we had forgotten, before again drifting back into slumber...
But it is subjective, the timely chain of events that has brought you into being is not dissimilar to the chain of events that has brought me into being - we live on the same planet but we were born at different times, in different places, different parents etc... But we have both taken human form, by this I mean to say the chain of events that has led to the development of the eye as a receptor of consciousness, the heart as a pump, the lungs etc... has formed over myriad time - the odds are astronomical... but the human body - the human race share this causal chain of events... this is what "karma" is... the long tail that stretches back to the beginning of time... all of those moments influence this present moment.
If we investigate our reality we can see that when something grows it follows a pattern... phi spirals, the golden ratio - its mystical - but in order for a seed to grow it needs to have the right conditions, the right ph in the soil - enough sunlight, temperature, water - without these the seed will rot... even this requires the right conditions. If we take the seed apart we cannot find the map... the blueprint that tells it how to grow and how to change - when we look we cannot separate out and identify this intelligence - because the same intelligence is within us - changing us... We cannot bite our own teeth, these riddles in the dark, these zen koans point to this very quandry - but often we end up looking at the finger instead of what is being pointed to - which is the unpointable! It cannot be worked out with reason... reason points... it is the unpointable!
"Joker in The Dark Knight, when he says everyone is happy so long as there's a plan..."
this is a piece of the jigsaw... of your subjective experience of life... it is something that you recognise... but its not the whole picture, the whole puzzle - but it will help you to recognise other pieces that fit into it... on its own its meaning is limited. In the right context - at the right moment its meaning is replete. Our life is like a jigsaw but it is a jigsaw of time as well as space, of emotions as well as thoughts... and it keeps changing...
"I don't feel I fit in here, I never fit in back home."
You are not alone... growing up through adolescence and my early twenties, I was completely lost and felt out of place in almost everything I did. To compensate for this, I would try and "fit in" by acting within social norms or act out to try and carve out an identity that fit with what I thought an adolescent or adult should be like to gain favour, friends, prestige and recognition. I would also try and suppress my suffering through smoking dope and drinking etc... At a fundamental level I was acting out of ignorance... my view of the world was ignorant, I was acting from a place of woundedness, that only compounded that sense of victimhood. I was trying to change myself to fit an external picture of what I had thought / been led to believe by external sources (media / friends / parents) that I should be. Happiness was not really part of it - being thought of as cool was far more important.
As I began to let go of this self-image of who I thought I was, the internal pressure of self-identification began to fall away... seeing that my opinions didn't count was liberating because there was nothing to defend. These thoughts that had plagued me for years - the self-criticism and self-judgement - the knock-on judgement of others, these thoughts, that everybody shared, I saw were no longer mine. I did not own them. I did not create them. They were recycled. I imagined them as thought beings that just jumped from one mind to another. if the conditions were right and the ground fertile enough they would take root for a while and grow. Advertising and marketing are like the pollinators for these for these thought beings. Feelings are equally shared across humanity...
You are not alone, feeling out of place in the external world is natural if we are basing our place in the world on a self-created image of who we think we are. You have the opportunity to witness this because in a sense - the person you thought that you were has radically shifted. The thoughts beings that were nicely nestled in your mind had the perfect conditions to live there, but now the conditions have changed - there is a void - those thoughts that previously gave you comfort in ignorance have left the building! By ignorance, I mean ignorance of the truth of life's purpose... everyone suffers from it - its essentially actions driven by our unconscious striving...
So now you are in a sense fertile for the next bunch of thought beings... so be careful where you seek comfort... This analogy of thought beings is not there to creep you out but is just another device to help you see that you are not your thoughts - there is far more to you than that!
"It's really weird!"
Isn't it!
"what was it that made you decide to do that. It's a long way from home. Was it clear to you what you wanted. I'm wondering whether if it will it become clear in time what I'm supposed to do because feeling this disassociated from the world around me is not nice, and sounds moderately crazy when I put it that way, but I'm not."
It was hard... but there was a point when i began to surrender the person I thought I should be... it was hard because in the beginning it turned upside down. Emotions went crazy - constant doubting - relationships with people I used to habitually seek comfort in... to reinforce my sense of who I thought I was began to crumble... Everything that reenforced my sense of who i thought I was and should be was tested - and it continues to this day. Those thought beings are always testing whether the conditions are right to nest. But somehow something universal in my relationship to the world began to wake up... I might even be so bold to say as a spark of divinity entered through my vulnerability... and the more i surrendered to that vulnerability the stronger the flame grew... and a trust in the universe grew root... it is this that provides the stability to uproot physically, It was less that I chose to move to France, than I waited until the conditions were in place to support it... there was a sense that it may happen but equally other things could happen.
When you can let decisions make themselves, with as little interference in the outcome as possible, you begin to witness why it could only be the way that it is.
"People ARE strange."
That's what makes life so wonderful. Dance with it. Let go of yourself and dive in! There are no answers, you create them when you let go of all the questions
If you won the lottery tomorrow... what would you do? Work backwards...