Saturday, December 17, 2016

Experience is a Pointer

Experience can be a pointer. One needs to step back from the experience and discern what it is pointing to. In this way the message may deliver knowledge. True knowledge, like the Self, does not change. Experience is a trip. Knowledge is the place. The journey's end.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Everything Is An Interpretation

It is said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Obviously that is not true. Many people run the programs that they inherited in childhood and have a life they like. They have their ups and downs, but overall, feel that their life is good and worthwhile. There are some however, who for some reason, want to pull on the veil of conditioning and peek behind the curtain. This post is for those who are peeking beyond the veil. 

Fundamental to life is perception. How we perceive fixes our way of being. Most never notice this, or assume that this is just the way it is, and nothing can be done about it. But some perceive that there is a stickiness to conditioning that does not seem comfortable, they scratch because the conditioning feels itchy, like something is wrong. 

Those who have the itch from childhood, to peer behind the veil, typically realize that they are different. They quickly find that their views are not appreciated, and are often ostracized for not towing the line. They may have been born introverted, but if not, their pariah status often drives them inward. 

Inward is the only option when looking beyond the veil. This inwardness if carried on, leads to deeper and deeper questions. The alienation of Existentialism is a good example of this. Existentialists promoted freedom, which they insisted must come from the individual for the individual. To do this, one had to be authentic. This striving for authenticity created a deep personal struggle to overcome conditioning. Albert Camus' book, The Stranger, is a tale of this alienation. 

Camus' approach to self examination was labeled Absurdism. This term is how those adapted to their conditioning view the questions, and the lives, of those who challenge their conditioning. Søren Kierkegaard was deeply religious but deeply questioned and gave his life to writing about authenticity. He suffered immensely. Frederick Nietzsche did the same. 

When one questions deeply, everything is suspect. This is a very uncomfortable place for the mind. As J. Krishnamurti stated, "The mind is always looking for security." Those who question, suffer, there is no doubt about it. But suffer long enough, sit with the questions long enough, does have its rewards. One might even say that one must have faith to persevere, not faith in anything in particular, but faith that answers will come because there is something fundamental about being. 

Fundamental questions bring the structures of the mind, of thinking and feeling, under observation. This points to the fact that there is something other than the mind; a truth seeking function that is deeper than any mental structures, conditioning and prejudices. This function is willing to pull apart, even shred, every piece of conditioned thinking, even as the mind suffers incredible pain. At this level of suffering, if that fundamental faith in Being is lost, if there is no hope, suicide is often the only way out. On the other hand, coming to that point is often what is required to come to something new, something deeper than the conditioned, imprisoned self. 

The Hindus called enlightenment Moksha, which means freedom. Their take is that without a burning desire for freedom, one will not have the strength to stay on the path. In the Christian tradition we have the term, "Dark Night of the Soul. This is an apt description of that period of time during which everything is undone. Those who survive the Dark night of the soul have perennially been called mystics. They have gone deep, survived the questioning, and come out on the other side. Many describe their discovery of a direct knowing that is so fundamental that there is no need or even the possibility of questioning it. This is not knowing that leads to fundamentalism, but rather an knowing that is free. No conditioning contains it. Nothing to fight over. Their stance with others is "Take it or leave it. I'm OK." 

Once the questioning factor arises and it can't be denied, the journey has begun. At the beginning it may be fun, and the ego may even get a thrill out of being rebellious. But in time, if the questions can't be dropped, the pain will rise and it will trend upward. For some it will be many years of making do with the additional burden of being alone . 
Many with this nagging persistent questioning will even call it a curse. But like all life, there is balance, and if one holds steady, answers will come and there will be freedom. 

The reason it takes so long for many is that that their conditioning is strong. It is so thick that they cannot see through it. Their path is an arduous and painstaking dismantling, piece by piece. This can take years, and usually does. Some never get through it. They have more freedom, but the woods is never cleared. But if one could get to the fundamental questions early, and answer those, the whole woods could be felled rather quickly. 

The fundamentals that underlie conditioning are the words and labels with which we think. What we think leads to automatic value judgments which we call feelings. And we tend to think of feelings as permanent settings, beyond questioning. These stumbling blocks need to be surmounted. In the end, our thoughts do not determine who we are, but they do define the person that we think we are. 

To undermine our prejudices and free our minds, we need to analyze thought, and that is mostly words. We need to analyze and question our feelings. Everything we think and feel is brought into question. So, what are these things, these thoughts, these feelings? Thoughts are concepts, and feelings are automatic value judgments based on them. These two things, thought and feeling, carry our conditioning. They are our conditioning. We weave a net of concepts and then are caught in them. 

Fundamental to our being and our knowing is consciousness. We are aware, and any thought or feeling that we have, when it comes into awareness, we are then conscious of. Sight, sound, touch, and taste, are the same process. Every though is a concept or a label, a representative of something. But no representation of an object is the object itself. We can look at a menu in a restaurant to order food, but we do not eat the menu. 

All our senses provide us with an interpretation of the world around us. The thing in itself is not known to us. When we ask, "If a tree falls in the woods and there is no sentient being to hear it, is there a sound?" We are simply pointing to the fact that sound is an interpretation of waves of air pressure. The waves are there, but with no one there to interpret the waves into sound, we cannot say there was a sound. 

Whatever exists in the universe, and whatever it ultimately is, remains a great question. All we can know is how our minds and bodies interpret it. Is there such a thing as a feeling except that we perceive it. Touch, taste, smell, sight and sound, are all interpretations of something, but the thing in itself cannot be known. Whatever that is that ultimately exists, we can only infer. 

If I see a chair in an empty room, and you come in, you too will see a chair. But if a cow comes in, it will not see a chair. It will see an object, but will have no concept of chair. Chair does not exist in its world. The cow does not see the world we do. It's interpretation is different. It will walk around the chair, but it will not think to sit on on it. It is simply not a chair to the cow. From this, we can see that from our senses to our thinking and feeling, everything is an interpretation of what is. 

There is no known thing in the universe that is known outside of our interpretation of it. The universe known to us is not known by the bee. Its interpretation of this same field is different. It exists in the same universe as us, but its knowing is not ours. So, the fundamental question is, who is doing the interpretation? 

Since everything that is known by man or beast is an interpretation, what is it that interprets? We are tempted to say, why our senses, our bodies. But our bodies are also known to us, and are themselves an interpretation. Fundamentally we can say we exist. But we can only say that because we are aware and conscious. So, ultimately we can only say we are aware. Being aware we can interpret, and that is consciousness. 

So, the clearing of our conditioning, the freeing of our minds, is a matter of realizing that words cannot define us, nor contain us. Neither do our feelings define our contain us. We are awareness itself. And when that awareness shines on us, we become conscious beings. 
As awareness itself, our problems relating to being a body and mind are minimalized. We are not limited to our body-mind. We are not imprisoned in it. Our conditioning belongs to the body-mind, not to us. 

By taking on this fundamental understanding, we can wear the world lightly. We are not a person with a mind. We are much bigger than that. We are Awareness, unbound, unlimited, carefree. When this understanding dawns, we are free. The body-mind may still have some work to do, but it can be done in good spirits, with light heart, knowing that we are free.