Friday, August 1, 2008

The Search

A friend just asked me: If the drive to search comes from within, are people who are happy or miserable, as the case may be, deep in UNreality land responsible for their failure to search or search hard enough or respond to awakening calls around them?

In a word, no. But the terms of the question make it unanswerable. The terms of the question smuggle in assumptions that are already false. The key word is "responsible".

"Responsible" implies that there is a standard of virtue, of goodness, and if you measure up to it then you are good, and if you don't, you are bad, and it is totally up to you. Some people do, and some people don't. Some people are responsible and some people are not. Those who are, are better than those who are not.

What we would like would be to congratulate ourselves for our spiritual attainments, for our consciousness, for our understanding. We want to approve of and love ourselves, and in this world of separation we need to have a reason. We cannot love and approve of ourselves unconditionally. In the Matrix essays I wrote that we cannot find what we are looking for through searching, yet it is the search that allows us to be found. So if someone has not been found, we can blame them, right? They just aren't searching hard enough. We are, and they are not. We are better than they are.

One of the commonest phrases of judgement is: "So-and-so could at least make an effort..." We stand in disdainful disapproval of the ignorance of others, thinking that we, in their shoes, would not be so ignorant, so apathetic, so irresponsible. This thought gives us license to approve of ourselves.

The truth is that all of us are, in one way or another, in Unreality Land. We are all sojourners on the walk into separation and back to reunion. Each of us explores a unique part of that territory. Some of those explorations take a very long time, requiring total immersion in a deep realm of what you call Unreality. We each spend exactly as much time there as necessary to complete the experience. When the experience is almost complete, we get restless. Its reality wears thin and we sense a larger realm awaiting us. This is when the Search begins. It does not and cannot begin before then. If you see some children having a game of make-believe, you don't pull them out of it before the game is finished.

If you are a crusader for truth, in whatever political, social, or psychological realm, by all means continue to broadcast your message. These days there are many restless people. Unreality Land is falling apart; it isn't coherent anymore. More and more people crave a new way of understanding things. There are many people searching: knowing the world they've accepted isn't quite right, not knowing what they are looking for but knowing it is there. But as you broadcast your truth, don't condemn those who just don't get it. It is not through any failing or inferiority that they aren't interested. They aren't supposed to get it. They are at a different phase of the cycle of growth, perhaps the phase of exploring and growing into a new realm. We don't rip a baby from the womb before it is ready (well, we do, but that's a separate issue!)

I am also NOT saying that those in "Unreality Land" are babies and we are more mature. The cycle of birth, growth, confinement, death, and birth repeats endlessly, within each biographical lifetime and beyond it, overlapping across many areas of life. Someone can be highly evolved in one area of consciousness and an ogre in another. But even this explanation can be misleading. It isn't that there are a given number of life subjects, as in school, and we progress or "evolve" upward in each of them. While there are some commonalities, essentially each of us has taken on a curriculum that is unique. You could even say that those most deeply immersed in unreality, in the world of separation, are the most heroic. They have explored the painful reaches of separation the most deeply, and have the longest road back. That takes courage.

When someone is ready to transition into truth, he will attract someone or something into his life to provide the necessary experience or information. Maybe that someone is you! A teacher or a healer is called, and the appropriate attitude is one of humble gratitude for being the agent of another person's self-teaching or self-healing. What you provide might not even be the "truth" in any absolute sense. It is merely something that a person needs right now to make a transition.

Let me give just one example. For some people I knew in high school, Marxism was the "truth" that brought them into an expanded reality. It brought them out of an inwardly focused, depressive rage into a broader, more encompassing understanding of the impersonal origins of the wrongness in the world. They grew and thrived, for a time, in the worldview of Marxism, until eventually it too grew confining. That is how it works: what was initially liberating eventually becomes limiting. The same happens quite often with cults, spiritual groups, religious groups, activist movements, and so on. We progress from to broader and broader understandings, staying in each world exactly as long as is necessary.

11 Comments:

At August 1, 2008 at 12:14 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

"You could even say that those most deeply immersed in unreality, in the world of separation, are the most heroic."

Most heroic but not more virtuous, not better than others for being the most heroic?

I'm in the slow group of one here, but I'm trying to understand what you're saying.

 
At August 1, 2008 at 7:13 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'll try posing my earlier question again. From your essay:

"Responsible" implies that there is a standard of virtue, of goodness, and if you measure up to it then you are good, and if you don't, you are bad, and it is totally up to you. Some people do, and some people don't. Some people are responsible and some people are not. Those who are, are better than those who are not.

Then:

You could even say that those most deeply immersed in unreality, in the world of separation, are the most heroic. They have explored the painful reaches of separation the most deeply, and have the longest road back. That takes courage.

I'll try posing my question again. If courage and heroism are virtues, by saying you could say some explorers are the most heroic, aren't you presupposing your own standard of virtue? I'd say that people who are forging new ground in discovering more of reality could be considered intrepid souls, but I wouldn't say MOST anything to describe them. Most, least, average, outstanding, excellent, mediocre, fair to middling... Why use such descriptions if what you've just said about unique curricula and paths is true? If you consider certain paths as those that call forth the greatest degree of certain virtues, what of all the other paths? The most heroic line of thought puts me right back in the judgment loop.

 
At August 2, 2008 at 10:13 AM , Blogger Charles Eisenstein said...

Right. Notice I said, "You could even say..." It is just a way to think about it, an antidote to the usual direction of judgement which says that those who are the most messed up are the bad ones. Really what I want to express is my sense of awe and gratitude when I contemplate the enormity of the journey that some souls have launched themselves upon: the journey of addiction, for example. It is also a way to forgive ourselves for the violence we have committed as a response to our own pain. Please do not misunderstand me: it is fine to be proud of yourself! You can be proud of yourself without needing to compare though. The value of your accomplishments is not enhanced or diminished by the failures or successes of other people.
Charles

 
At August 2, 2008 at 12:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for clarifying that. I did notice that you said could say, which is why I italicized it. I could say that some paths draw forth the MOST compassion, too, as an antidote to diminishing people's humanity by judgment of their actions. If I pursued such antidotes long enough, I might begin to see some reality beyond or beneath slogans such as compassionate conservative. At least it could (I almost said should) help me see through George Bush's shadow side to the reality of whatever path he's on.

 
At August 2, 2008 at 2:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Each of us explores a unique part of that territory. Some of those explorations take a very long time, requiring total immersion in a deep realm of what you call Unreality. We each spend exactly as much time there as necessary to complete the experience. When the experience is almost complete, we get restless. Its reality wears thin and we sense a larger realm awaiting us. This is when the Search begins. It does not and cannot begin before then. If you see some children having a game of make-believe, you don't pull them out of it before the game is finished.

Let's hope there's something left of life and the planet when Homo sapiens have finished up with their games.

 
At August 6, 2008 at 4:19 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know if there still exists in our hearts a ghost of a kernel of hope that Dante's Inferno might be true for Adolph Hitler and those we perceive as having behaved injuriously in ways beyond run-of-the-mill foibles, we're not dwelling in truth. It is a challenge, especially if a conception of true humanhood is not clear as the truth beyond the negatives of hate, malice, violent aggression, sadism and so on.

I think Gandhi may have been effective by reflecting back to the British their own perception about their best selves, which couldn't live side by side with a role as oppressor. In cases where such perception seems to be absent from another, who in reality is not separate as an other, the challenge is greater still.

If we are to "be the change in the world we want to see," we must grapple with these beliefs as they've individuated in ourselves. Otherwise, I know with myself, I can fall into a false appeasement sense and excusing or denial of the real pain of injury, either that I have committed out of pain or another seems to have inflicted from pain.

If you substitute truth for Christ and religious discipleship for abiding in one's highest understanding of truth and truth-impelled actions, then one could see the problem of nonjudgment and forgiveness in light of Dietrich Bonhoeffer's work on what he called Cheap Grace.

In the Matrix examples you've been writing about, Neo may be tempted to return to the familiar plugged-in world, which I think would be similar to denying what Bonhoeffer calls the cost of discipleship. That is, denial of the demands truth places on us and enjoying substitutes for the reality of truth-experience.

I would appreciate it if anyone here has anything they could share on how they may have come to terms in their lives with nonjudgment and release from injuries they may perceive as having been caused by an "other's" or their own injurious actions. Thank you.

Ursus Maritimus

 
At August 19, 2008 at 5:40 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just commenting on the stuff that comes up. Aren't these extremes the basis of control-paradigm mindsets? No wonder people are in denial or hitting the bottle or gorging on food or smoking like chimneys or yelling, mad as hell and not going to take it anymore. Us/Them, Here/There or Us-Here-Now? How to solve the problems which can't be solved with the kind of consciousness from whence they emerged, e.g., can't anger a way into a more beautiful world?

U.M.


youtube



psychohistory



reed

 
At August 20, 2008 at 4:03 PM , Anonymous Chris said...

U.M.,

I had a look at your exchange with "Bogomil" on R.S. (I can't post there yet: site's rejecting my request for a password...).

I agree with you and disagree with Bogomomil. What you say here about "control mindset paradigms" ties into that whole difference of vision.

I think most people actually see things the way Bogomil does. I think dualistic visions have their place and their usefulness, provided we remember they are fictions. (In siding with you and disagreeing with B., I'm thinking dualistically.) The trouble arises when we don't recognize the fictive, subjective element in these divisions, when we mistake a useful intellectual device, a cognitive tool or hermeneutic for some kind of ultimate reality.

I think the main reason why we adhere to "extremes" of "control paradigm mindsets" as you call them, is precisely that most of us DO think what Bogomil thinks: that Hitler caused the Holocaust by following his "natural," "predatory," "animal" nature. What Richard Dawkins calls "the selfish gene".

I disagree. I think this is a misunderstanding of animal drives and predatorial instincts. I have no doubt that many a great writer would agree with Bogomil: Plato, Augustine, Darwin.... but I also believe others, like Shakespeare, Blake, Nietzsche would NOT agree with him at all. Shakespeare was not a dualist. Shakespeare would've understood exactly what C.E. talks about in ASCENT.

William Blake, as he so often does, helps clarify the issue. The violence of a tiger is real, and potentially destructive of human aspiration, and human life. Blake had no Walt Disney Lion King sentimentality about nature. Thus he wrote his famous poem THE TYGER ("Tyger tyger burning bright") to describe and come to terms with his feelings of awe and terror in the face of a predatorial animal.
There's nothing warm and fuzzy about it. And yet, it IS a celebration, not a condemnation, of The Tyger: an archetype of feline majesty.

But this has little or nothing to do with what Hitler did, or why he did it. Hitler's violence against the Jews was NOT the violence of a tiger. Rather, it resembled the mindset of resentment, bitterness, alienation, envy, and spite he describes in other, very different poems such as A POISON TREE ("I was angry with my foe, I told it not, my wrath did grow...") and the second NURSE'S SONG ("When voices of children are heard on the green, / and whisperings are in the dale / The days of my youth rise fresh in my mind, / My face turns green and pale" [i.e. pale with sick envy at a youthful joie-de-vivre she no longer feels healthy enough to share]).

If you go read those poems, you'll see clearly the strong difference between an animal's "natural" violence and the hatred and resentment, the "civilized" cruelty of repressed human beings, as Hitler himself clearly was. Thus, Blake confirms Nazi psychology avant la lettre. He rejected dualism and Puritanism. He would've agreed with you and disagree with Bogomil as to why the Holocaust happened.

 
At August 20, 2008 at 11:34 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris,

Thanks so much for your response. I don't have enough time right now to delve into the literature you cite, but those are interesting insights to ponder. I don't see Shakespeare as particularly non-dualistic, so that will be good to talk about.

If you go to the psychohistory site I linked and visit the Alice Miller page, you'll read some very thought-provoking ideas on Hitler's depravity and the Holocaust, which she believes were rooted in German child-rearing practices at the time, as well as Hitler's personal obsessions. Also interesting commentary on Augustine.

I think we're probably all dualists insofar as we're tripping along through Unreality Land. Thanks for exploring possible maps that lead to a better place and a way forward. I may be able to return here over the weekend.

U.M.

P.S. The site won't let you have a password? How odd.

 
At August 23, 2008 at 1:56 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chris,

When you wrote, "I think dualistic visions have their place and their usefulness, provided we remember they are fictions. (In siding with you and disagreeing with B., I'm thinking dualistically.) The trouble arises when we don't recognize the fictive, subjective element in these divisions, when we mistake a useful intellectual device, a cognitive tool or hermeneutic for some kind of ultimate reality," I began to think about dualistic thinking as fundamental to thought based on Aristotelian dualistic logic. A cannot be A and not A at the same time. True/false and other binary divisions, oppositions.

It is very difficult to see this as merely a useful tool or reasoning device when we are so steeped in it as the basis of human rationality.

I found a book that I thought you might be interested in. From what I've read on the site, it seems to arrive at many of the same insights as AoH:


theendofsuffering


Tell me why you think Shakespeare is not a dualist. "To be or not to be..."

Merrick's essay has generated a lot of discussion on R.S. I don't understand the math or science of what he's saying, why, for example, we have ten fingers and toes instead of fourteen or eight. It reminds me of Oliver Sacks's Musicophilia, Tales of Music and the Brain, the power of music that is inexplicable in conventional scientific or neurological terms.

U.M.

 
At August 25, 2008 at 7:29 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It really bothers me when everyone here starts shouting and talking at the same time.

U.M.

 

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