A book came in the mail today. It was ‘A New Earth’ by Eckhart Tolle. It is a spiritual novel, taking a holistic look at three major religions together to talk about the looming evolution of human consciousness. Tolle seems to be suggesting, from the two and a half chapters I have read so far, that the evolution will come about by people becoming aware of their egos, or ‘waking up’, en masse. The book has been surprisingly engaging. I was skeptical of it at first. In this nation filled with capital-obsessed people fraud is rife and prevalent. The endorsement of Oprah’s Book Club only made me more hesitant. Was this book going to be some sort of feel-good, bourgeoise, spiritual guidebook written by a fake guru? It may be a feel-good, bourgeois, spiritual guidebook yet, I have only read a fourth of it. Would I be able to tell if it was? I don’t know. Regardless, it seems to have arrived right when I needed it. I was in danger of becoming pretentious and losing sight of my goal.
My goal is to learn, grow, be authentic, connected, and as human, as I can. Most people want that. At least it seems that way when you really break it down. But this primary goal is often forgot because to achieve it is to live a different way of life than society tells you to. It is not a different way of life in the sense that it is better or worse. I would just say that it feels authentic. We have collectively built a society that tries to divert us and distract us from this goal. But it is hard to be a conformed member of such a society when you can see past all the materialism. I just hope that Tolle, and the many others who are having conversations about a looming consciousness shift, are right. There is a fast-growing number of people that seem to want to live on this world in a completely different way. A growing number of people are realizing that we probably will have to live in a completely different way out of ecological necessity.
Anyways, I was losing sight of all this. I was getting caught up in the politics of the campaign season and current affairs important or not, getting into idealogical arguments, and getting wrapped up in my own ego. I forgot about the big picture. So this book came at a good time. It will rebalance me a little. Information can end up replacing wisdom, so it is good to just stop thinking every now and then and just be. Further down the road I hope I can manage to keep in balance, with the intellectual and spiritual parts of myself complimenting each other. Maybe ‘down the road’ will be tomorrow.
What an authentic existence is, or what an authentic human is, has remained a mystery for the majority of people for seemingly all of time. In Western culture, and here in America especially, people are being repeatedly sold the latest guides to self-improvement and personal development. Questions like who am I? and what is my purpose? are asked by most people. Yet, depression, isolation, and loneliness are prevalent emotions in our society. Why?
Maybe we haven’t been asking the right questions. Maybe, we have been looking at the issue from the wrong angle. All the questions, guides, books, and teachers have a similar thing in common: they claim to know the answer about how to make someone a more authentic person by fixing something that is wrong with them. But, as it turns out, a person’s happiness is directly correlated with the strength of their relationships. It is not about what I can do to be a better person. It is not about what MY purpose is. It is not a journey of SELF discovery. It is not something that is wrong with ME. Maybe, the key to authenticity has a lot less to do with us as individuals and a lot more with how we relate to other people. Maybe, the key to finding happiness and a place in this world is not about inserting ourselves into whatever we think we want at the time, or who we think we should be at the time, but to build positive relationships with people wherever we go and let our place in society manifest itself. There is a reason why the questions of who am I? and what is my purpose? are asked so frequently yet seemingly answered so rarely. The reason is maybe because these aren’t the right questions to be asking. Maybe the questions we should be asking are who are WE? and what WE as a species, nation, community, or family can do to better the lives of all of US? Purpose is such a stagnant concept. It is hard for me to imagine, people being as adaptable and flexible as they are, for someone to have any one purpose as an individual for their whole lives. Our purpose might take different forms in different parts of our lives, but we can always have the goals of being authentic and compassionate.
Life is a process. The objective of this process is balance. Sometimes it feels like trying to balance to balance a perfect sphere on top of another perfect sphere in a moving car. Basically it feels futile. Sometimes this process is fun, but many times the futility of it, the absurdity of it, is too obvious and sobering. This is part of the process though, which makes it even more frustrating. Being consciously aware of the absurdity of the process, aware of how you react to it, and aware of how you should react to it all at the same time is mind-bending, and frankly exhausting. But the latter awareness, the awareness of how you should react to the process, is not really an awareness. It is an expectation. It is an expectation created by our minds and our societies.
I don’t like expectations. Expectations are distorted views of reality that attach people to certain imaginary outcomes. Maybe this is the key to why I find the process insufferable, the expectation of my reaction to the process. What is this expectation? How am I supposed to react to this process? Am I supposed to let pervasive suffering dominate my life? Am I supposed to be perpetually optimistic? Is my expectation even my own, or is it socially or culturally grounded? These questions only add to the suffering. My expectation is that the process will eventually lead somewhere, to some discovery of self, some revelation. But I also know that there is no end to this process. I do not know what happens when the organic body ceases to function, so I cannot say that this process ends in death. The awareness of our smallness, of our ignorance, of our perishability, is only balanced out by the awareness of our wholeness, our not needing to know but to be aware of, and our poetic mortality. But what balances out futility and absurdity? Continue reading Finding Balance Amongst Absurdity