Monday, November 19, 2018

When the Character Rests

Character is a set of attributes that distinguish an individual. It is a set of tendencies which we inhabit, like it or not. The situation tends to make us strive to be better, to somehow enhance the character or purge ourselves of it. As our character matures, we appreciate those who are honest, entertaining, or courageous.

Novels are about character. The author Rachel Cusk has said, "The idea that he, or that anyone, could find a different way of living, by a different way of inquiring and listening — that’s an idea that I have, of not necessarily what my book could do, but what any book could do."

She also said "The speakers suffer from feeling unseen, and in the absence of a reflection they are not real to themselves. The tyranny of conventional stories: the fates and the characters that we inherit."

If this is the case, one becomes dependent on others to be seen and validated. Others become a prison in which we see ourselves. Is there no alternative to this prison of neediness that compels us to depend on others for validation?

It seems to me that the "word mirror," and "means of knowledge" that is Advaita Vedanta answers the author's dilemma. The itch that makes us feel like the character we are is unreal, is based on solid ground. Non duality points this out very clearly. The essence of what we are is not a character, but Being itself.

Cusk asks if there is a different way of seeing and listening. Yes there is, and it has been around for thousands of years. Sadly, there are few takers. Real inquiry confirms the itch is indicating the right direction. We are not the characters we play, and the itch is the pointer. But what else do we know? Can we survive what psychologists like to label depersonalization?

Yes, a different way of inquiry and listening exists. Is it the fact that it is not well known, or is it that it is scary, and the risk implies diving into the unknown? Risking of oneself into the unknown is not without its casualties. We know this. Few take the leap.

“A journalist recently told me that she had been sent to find out who I was,” Cusk said. “There seems to be some problem about my identity. But no one can find it, because it’s not there—I have lost all interest in having a self. Being a person has always meant getting blamed for it.”

Non duality has an answer to not being blamed for one's personality. If one studies non duality, a process is provided. It is a means of knowledge, a means of inquiry into the Self. One does not need to complete the leap in one jump. There are steps, each with an uncovering of a sample of the truth. Take them one at a time. Chew on them and let them sink in. Transformation will happen.

This human ennui that makes our character seem unreal is the doorway. Admitting that ennui, and taking a look is the first step. It is said that a journey starts with a single step. It is that first step not taken that stops the journey. Yet once the first step is taken, the next one is a little easier. Soon the path appears before us. Sign posts appear and the confidence to follow deepens. The end is assured.

When an opening unveils Awareness as our being in itself, a shift occurs that reveals the character for what it is, an appearance only. It does not disappear, but takes its rightful place in the playground. It is now free to play without fear. Your real Self watches without judgment. How nice is that?


Emiliania huxleyi said...

I am delighted to find Rachel Cusk & non duality in the same post! Who would have thought…

Maury Lee said...

Glad you noticed. Interesting name you have. You are everywhere. In the ocean and the wave.

Anonymous said...

"I have lost all interest in having a self. Being a person has always meant getting blamed for it.”

These two sentences sum up what life is really all about--and the panacea for whatever ails "you" ! Thanks for the great essay.

Maury Lee said...

Thanks for letting me know you liked the essay. Confirmation is a kind of love, isn't it? You hit the nail on the head. It was those two sentences that prompted me to write the essay. The question is, did Cusk come to this conclusion from her direct experience or did she bring studies of non duality into her work. I don't know. My thought was, wow, she's coming to the same conclusion that the ancient rishis did. In this case it shows that this discovery can be had at any time in history. A direct experience and understanding that the personal self is a problem, and that there is a way to look and listen without it, or at least see past it to a deeper universal essence.