THIS IS HERE! (or are you disappearing?)

disappearingThis is about “How to disappear completely” (in a good way).

Some people get the wrong idea about “disappearing.” As Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860) saw it, reducing self interest leads to the “calm and confident serenity afforded by the virtuous disposition and a good conscience…” (Nineteenth Century Philosophy, p. 120).

Moreover, says Schopenhauer, “The egoist feels himself surrounded by strange and hostile phenomena and all his hope rests on his own well-being…”

alone and afraid.gif

“The good person lives in a world of friendly phenomena… the knowledge that every living thing is just as much our own inner being-in-itself as is our own person, extends our interest to all that lives; and in this way the heart is enlarged” (p. 120).

enlarged heart

“Therefore, although the knowledge of the lot of man generally does not make his disposition a cheerful one,” writes Schopenhauer, “the permanent knowledge of his own inner nature in everything that lives nevertheless gives him a certain uniformity and even serenity of disposition” (p. 120).

And, as we all know, serenity is so enjoyable.

virtuous life
See the Virtuous life of Nick Otterman.

Serenity is freedom and tranquillity is lovely. It is time once again for all good philosophers to enjoy the lighter side of being.

schopenhauerMom1
Existential Comics “Schopenhauer’s Mom”.

According to science, perceptions of time and motion depend upon the observer’s position. Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle, quantum mechanics, chaos theory and complexity theory all point to things being relative.

relative_failure_080514_1704If you’re a relativist, it’s not that things aren’t true one way over another, it’s just that, what’s true for you might depend upon context, laws of physics and your personal and cultural beliefs.

But for now, for the sake of something profundus—that’s Latin for “deep, boundless, and not bounded”—we set relativism and all other isms aside.

Imagine you are a marble trapped inside a three-dimensional box. 

You hover around inside this box. You see six walls and eight corners. If you move in any of the familiar dimensionsup/down, left/right and front/backyou hit a wall.

There is no escape.

marble in a cube

Now imagine your marble body “lifting” into the fourth dimension of time (as shown in ghostly red in the illustration). In this “lifting” your position remains unchanged. You don’t come near the walls. You simply elevate to a new three dimensional layer of the four dimensional space.

As you “lift” into the fourth dimension, you see your storied existence as if from a distance. You see the universe interconnecting.

This isn’t a shift to selflessnessthat is to say, you give of yourself and still see separation. This is the freedom to rest your face completely (even if it makes you look angry).

resting faceThis is a shift from first personI am living my life! We do things our way”and second personYou wait here”—to third personhe, she, it, they—with one’s self observed and observing.

From this perspective, everything is you. A child kills herselfthat’s you. Ducks in the parkthat’s you.

Begin perspective shift and self expansion (and we don’t mean a pig-out on Cheesies).

You are like a disembodied narrator describing. You can’t see through a character’s eyes, but you can imagine.

This awareness of your self as subjective and objective interconnected, pops the bubble of how you see the world.

first-second-third-person-grammar-

This is the realization that other people are as water-balloons floating in water. “I am who I am,” as someone once said. It’s a sentiment we have when we look in a mirror and think of Popeye.

This is the freedom to be what you are and will be.

Read the following instructions and then do them:

  1. Look around.
  2. Go for a walk without swinging your arms.
  3. Look at everything from the side of your eyes.
  4. Listen as if you hear something.
  5. Walk and look at the ground as if you’re 30,000 feet up above in an air-plane.
  6. Think to yourself, “This is me. This is me seeing. I see this. This, is what I see. I can see myself seeing.”

Shazam.

You shift from outside world and inside self separated to a world of here and now as perceived by the one perceiving. It is all of a thing. From a third person self-included perspective, you shift to a decentralized position. You see yourself and others as funny (in a nice way). What you see is seen and seeing

walkingincircles2.jpg

Just as Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1543) shifted from Earth as centre to sun followed by NASA shifting from sun as centre to a supermassive black hole called Sagittarius A-star! so too can you shift from yourself as centre in space and time to a decentralized position in an imagined fourth dimension. This shift is revolutionary and quite possibly could save the world (and probably will).

Like Mike Milligan said (Mike Milligan is a character in season 2 of Fargo), “Now, ironically, in astronomy, the word “revolution” means “a celestial object coming full circle. Did you know that? Which, if you think about it, is pretty funny, considering here on earth it means “change.”

This shift is an epiphany. From a first person perspective your life began and will end. All you really know is, “I am here,” but there are two ways to look at “I am here.”

The first way is to say that an individual person is located in a place called “here.” In this, you, as a self, experience the world as separate from your body.

The second way to look at it goes in the opposite direction. The statement, “I am here,” is a statement of fact. It means what it says. It means that “I am here,” Literally. It is to see yourself in what you’re seeing. “Here” is not just a location, but everything and you’re in and of it.

I am here,” is like saying, “I am Jimmy,” or “I am bored.”… I am here.

vase face

This is the third person perspective. You switch from a world of “things” ‘out there’—positive shapes against a negative background from a single vantage point, that being, your body—to seeing the space between not as empty but as connecting. With this shift in awareness, you see yourself as the place you are seen in.

To loosen a knot one must trace a string’s path and slowly loosen things up. To loosen the knots of a befuddlement one must first be self-aware. Self-ignorance is a leading cause of unhappiness, insecurity and self-injury. (But no more.)

Today, with the resting-face of true freedom, we accept our lot in this life with humour and love for this story that we tell and are told has an ending.

References:

Nineteenth Century Philosophy

Advertisements

A Way of Seeing (Part 2)

truth2

Must we discuss heavy topics such as truth, reality and the best way to live? Isn’t it enough to spend time doing interesting and pleasant things? Shouldn’t we be like young children, free of heavy thoughts and therefore lighthearted?

Isn’t it better to not know certain things? Like, isn’t it better to not know the feeling of cancer?

When we’re young,  death is something that happens to others—the old and infirm and/or unlucky—but then, one day (if it hasn’t happened already), a simple truth suddenly hits: Death happens to everyone—including you.

Put that in your pipe and smoke it.

cheat deathAs hard as it is to imagine, one day, there won’t be another. One day, nothing will happen and you won’t know what happened. You will be gone like those who have gone before you.

wakeupandsmellcoffee

You will join the non-existent and leave only remains but this reality need not cause anguish. There’s nothing you can do. Fuhgeddaboudit. Some people see death as an opportunity to “live every moment.” To them we say, “What! Are you crazy!”

“Just look!
Even the blossoms that are destined to fall tomorrow
Are blooming now in their life’s glory.” ~Takeko Kujo

bloomingtrees
“Where does your face go after death? I do not know. Only the peach blossoms blow in the spring wind, This year just as last” ~ an  āgama sutra.

Maybe when you die it will be like before your parents were born. Maybe there’s a trick to this death truth.

9-6

The difference between reality and truth is: “Reality has been existent ever since the beginning of the universe. On the other hand truth is something that you have proved ” (source). Reality is multidimensional. Things appear as they do to you based upon from ‘where’ you are looking. 

The “world” is a felt experience but like Wittgenstein said, “The world of the happy man is a different one from that of the unhappy man” (Tractatus Logico-philosophicus).

In answer to “What is the meaning of life?” Eckhart von Hochheim—aka Meister Eckhart (1260-1328)— said, “Whoever were to ask life for a thousand years: ‘Why do you live?’—if life could answer, it would say nothing but: ‘I live in order that I live’” (source).

moonrisebythesea.jpg
Caspar David Friedrich, Moonrise Over the Sea, 1822.

People have versions of reality that conceal certain aspects but to make the world a better place, it takes acceptance of all of reality and not just the bits we accept.

How a person responds to ethical principles determines that person’s character. For billions of people life means surviving. Life means eating, sleeping and eventually dying.

poor2.jpg

The problem seems to be one of money: how to get, spend and save. It’s economics—oil prices, real estate, stocks, debt, GDP, jobs etc.. The purpose of life for billions of people is to get money.

materialism cartoon

Then again, some people don’t care too much for money.

Some people see being creative as their life purpose but regardless of what you think your purpose is (if you have one), you probably don’t mind feeling happy.

As Kurt Vonnegut wrote in A Man Without a Country, “And I urge you to please notice when you are happy, and exclaim or murmur or think at some point, ‘If this isn’t nice, I don’t know what is.’”
are-you-happy.jpg

Positive psychologists Seligman and Royzman (2003) identified three types of theories of happiness: Hedonism, Desire, Objective List and Authentic Happiness. Which theory you subscribe to (knowingly or not) has implications for how you live your life.

hedonism
Hedonism theory mantra: “Go for it! What the hell!”

Hedonism theory is about maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. It’s a popular theory. It’s all the rage. Seligman and Royzman (2003) object to it however. They say it can’t handle someone like philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein who lived in misery but died saying, “Tell them it was wonderful!” (source).

Desire theory counters Hedonism by saying that it isn’t about pleasure: it’s about the fulfilment of desire that makes us happy. But again Seligman and Royzman object, saying, if one’s desire is to collect dolls, no matter how satisfying it is to have a big little doll collection, it doesn’t add up to a happy life.

johnnydeppscollection
Desire theory mantra: “I want that!” Image: Celebrity collections.

Countering Hedonism and Desire theories is the Objective List theory. It focuses on “happiness outside of feeling and onto a list of “truly valuable” things in the real world” such as career, relationships, service to community etc., but again Seligman and Royzman object, saying, a happy life must take feelings and desires into account.

objective list
Oxford philosopher Derek Parfit’s “Objective List” Lecture

Seligman and Royzman point to Authentic Happiness theory saying, “there are three distinct kinds of happiness: the Pleasant Life (pleasures), the Good Life (engagement), and the Meaningful Life”  (Authentic Happiness). It’s positive psychology. It’s all the rage. But even if Authentic Happiness covers all bases theoretically, there’s a more deeply rooted problem.

Cross section of soil showing a tree with its roots.

Any quest for happiness through positive psychology is one-sided and self-centred. It’s essentially an unrewarding vision of a full human life because it’s still about another “me” feeling better.

Cue music: Primal Scream “Loaded”.

nietzscheBuddhaEpictetusplayingsorry.jpg
Sorry! And the Nature of Suffering,” Existential Comics.

Look at a candle burning. It gives light and heat as long as it burns wax. It lives on wax. It dies as wax wanes. Humans are like candles. We are chemicals. We die as our time wanes and each generation carries our species one step further in time.

how a person is like a candle
A person is like a candle.

sunflowerEach moment must pass away for us to live another. Death is a continuous process.

Living things die as they live but we prefer not to notice.

We’d rather not focus on those who die before us but on the days and nights left to us (see: The Light of Enjoyment and/or Death Clock). But then, maybe being greedy for the pleasure of living isn’t good either.

In Human Minds Margaret Donaldson writes of a man who could put one hundred rattlesnakes into a bag in twenty-eight seconds. The act illustrates something fundamental about humans: We form unique purposes that we pursue with tenacity. If strong feelings are attached, we’ll even die or kill or perhaps maim in pursuit of our purpose.

We share with other animals certain urges—hunger, sexual desire and musicality—but as Margaret Donaldson writes in Human Minds, “it is characteristic of us that we are capable of transcending these urges, though not easily” (p. 8).

calvinandhobbesonselfindulgence

When something that was interesting suddenly isn’t, people get bored. People get angry and argue with others and themselves. The trouble with arguments of self-wanting is that, not only are they self-centred, they’re self-sustaining.

Donaldson says that coming up with a purpose for our lives is easy “because we have brains that are good at thinking of possible future states,” (p. 9) but it is in self-focused single-mindedness that we’re apt to misinterpret reality.

fatalflaw

We feel satisfied when we dispel an illusion but if the illusion serves a purpose, we don’t  want it dispelled. Consider the world of Walter White in the TV show Breaking Bad.

walterwhitesaymyname.gifAt the prospect of death Walter corrupts his morals for money. He thinks ‘ends justify means,’ and finds himself enjoying money and power. Money and power become his purpose.

He becomes poster child for materialism and ego. The Double Whammo. “Say my name.”

Materialism is either a preoccupation with the material world—as opposed to intellectual and/or spiritual—or it’s the theory that everything in the universe is matter. We’re surrounded by matter so it seems only natural that we should be distracted from spiritual and/or intellectual pursuits, but what if problems are caused by materialism and/or ego?

What then?

 

Enjoy Perfect Understanding

true detective tree 2

And rise with me forever, across the silent sand. And the stars will be your eyes, and the wind will be my hands” (“Far From Any Road”). Sometimes it feels like we’re puppets at the mercy of wider forces and hypocrisy is the norm. Most people wonder on occasion whether or not they’re making the most of their time. If we had it to do it over, would we do it again? Should we be doing something different with our time?

We put pressure on ourselves to enjoy every minute as bucket lists items pile upIn the time it takes to read, “Right this second,” you might ask, “Am I wasting my time?” but herein is the question: What is time for?

sword of damoclesTime can feel like a Sword of Damocles hanging above your head. Anybody who enjoys wealth, luxury and power lives under threat and anybody who has nothing envies those who have what they want. Gated communities imprison the pampered as poverty imprisons the poor. Questions about whether or not you’re making the most of your time happen when you’d rather be doing something else. In moments of boredom, irritation and/or annoyance, that’s when the present turns into the past like the end of a toilet paper roll running out fast.

As you watch a truck commercial you’ve seen a thousand times, scrub a stain that won’t come out or do anything you don’t like, you might wonder, “Am I missing something?” 

Time is fleeting. It’s cliché. Time flows regardless of wanting. Is time ever really wasted? Soon you and everyone you know will be dead. You’ve seen old films. You know the score. We can’t help but do what we don’t like and all good times end. We’re between the proverbial rock and a hard place.

As the astronomer Arthur Eddington observed in 1927, there’s an asymmetry to time. We experience its flow in a one-way direction: forward, like an arrow. You can remember the past but not the future. You can turn an egg into an omelette, but you can’t turn an omelette into an egg. You can put cream in your coffee, but you can’t take it out.

Days pass like words in a sentence—here and gone, here and gone. You were a baby, now you look different. You’ll change again before you’re finished. You might want to hold time in a bottle and make days last forever like Jim Croce (1943-1973), but unless you’re an X-man, that’s probably not going to happen.

Our trouble is that we divide things into “either/or” opposites—nature~nurture, individual~collective, self~other—but that obscures the in-between dynamic of life. Truth is between. Fortunately our brains are capable of showing two contradictory and mutually exclusive behaviors at the same time (The Complementary Nature).

coffee out of time

When time no longer feels like it’s on your side, when you’ve spent your day doing what you don’t like and your night vicariously living someone else’s fictional life, you might think of “Nights In White Satin” and the line, “Another day’s useless energy spent.”

When there’s a job that needs doin’, but you don’t do it: time is a wastin’. When you’d rather be doin’ somethin’ different: time is a wastin’. Like June and Johnny said, “A cake’s no good if you don’t mix the batter and bake it. And love’s just a bubble if you don’t take the trouble to make it”  (Time Is A Wastin'”).

You might think that you’re wasting the time you have, but that’s the thing about time. You don’t have it: It has you. You are time passing and resistance is futile”.

piece of cakeYou’re like a candle burning itself out. Time for you to lighten up. Remember what Mary Poppins said, “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun. You find the fun and, ‘Snap!’ The jobs a game. And every task you undertake becomes a piece of cake, a lark, a spree, it’s very clear to see” (“Just a Spoonful of Sugar”).

Suppose you’re angry. You think, “I’m angry!” You elaborate the feeling with stories of justification but the more you think in “stories,” the more distracted you are from the present. Saying “I” and “mine” started the process so if you watch the story you tell without identifying with “I” and “my,” you blow out the “story” and disturbing emotion like a candle.

Happy Birthday. You are free.

eleutheromaniaWhen you drop labeling things as “I” and “mine,” you feel the world directly. Disturbing emotions are empty of identify and so is everything else. Look at the one who feels. Look without distraction and anger turns to nothing. Nothing stands alone. Everything is taken together. You see the world through a window where what’s outside is seen through your own reflection. We divide between self and everything else but everything else is one seamless landscape.

window reflection

In the Mind Of A Rampage Killer scientists talk about how the emotion centre of the brain (amygdala), “goes into overdrive when a threat is perceived.” If the threat isn’t real, higher level thinking (prefrontal cortex) sends “a message to the amygdala to calm down, but if the wiring is faulty, the message may not get through.” A boy who flies into rages says, “It’s kind of like a werewolf. When a werewolf turns into a werewolf, it doesn’t know who he is, it doesn’t know where he is, it just wants to hurt and fight people.”

i'm turning into my mother

To enjoy without needing anything, go into an equilibrium and watch. Watch the present with your senses. Watch the stories you tell yourself without identification and gain perfect understanding.

To be free of duress and drama, forget stories and assumptions and your mind will be empty of greed, anger and delusions of grandeur.

Whether or not you think you’re wasting time is subjective. As the Western fiction writer Louis L’amour said, “The only thing that never changes is that everything changes.” If you don’t believe it, look in the mirror.

Like George Costanza on Seinfeld said to Kramer, “What you call wasting, I call living. I’m living my life!”

What if getting the daily news really is enough?

 

Step Into Enjoyment (take one)

elevator door
The old joke goes, “A salesman tells an American that he has a new invention that will do half his work for him. The American replies, ‘Great. Give me two.‘”

Suppose a person named Emerson, of whom you’re familiar (and avoid), is in an elevator that you enter. “Oh great,” you think without pleasure. This is the last person you want to meet, but it’s too late to turn around. Emerson smiles brightly. You do likewise, but dimly. In Emerson’s eyes you see the sting of your dislike which makes you dislike even more. It’s not that Emerson is a bad person—just boring, an innocent, a nerd.

Stepping into the elevator, you assume the position: facing the door watching floor numbers count down—14…12…11…. And you think, “Why is this elevator so slow?”

Hawaiian music comes from a speaker in the ceiling. “That’s Gabby Pahinui singing “Hi`ilawe”,” says Emerson. “Oh, really?” you feign interest, roll your eyes and then, something remarkable happens.

In a beautiful voice Emerson sings “Hi`ilawe” in English,

waterfall3

All eyes are on Hi`ilawe
In the sparkling lowlands of Maukele
I escape all the birds
Chattering everywhere in Waipio.
I am not caught
For I am the mist of the mountains.
Waterfall,
Nothing can harm me at all.
My world is so very small
With my waterfall I can see
My rainbow calling me
Through the misty breeze
Of my waterfall.”

The song ends and you are hit by silence and stillness. Time is suspended between now and later, like the elevator that is suspended between up and down.

A fog of indifference lifts. Emerson’s lack of guile disarms social defenses. In an instant you know yourself and forget yourself. You see and hear—not as “you” seeing, but as “seeing” itself—as a body-and-mind seeing, you grasp things directly (see also Enjoy a Perfect World).

slothhappy

You feel giddy and silly as you and Emerson laugh. You wake up to the moment. You feel the space around you as if it’s a ghostly solid connecting everything together. You feel yourself inside a body that has an outside appearance that’s inside an elevator that’s inside a building that’s outside on a street and inside a biosphere.

And you wonder: “If everything has an inside with an outside that’s inside something else, where does it begin? where does it end? The experience of experiencing yourself experiencing feels like an awakening! 

In school Emerson was voted least likely to succeed. Like the Invisible Boy in the movie Mystery Men (1999), Emerson is invisible because no one is looking. It’s a power developed after years of being ignored.

mai tai2
“A drunk man’s words are a sober man’s thoughts.”

And a new thought occurs: Why not be nice to Emerson? It won’t hurt. Maybe it’s from the music or the wine you had with dinner (or the Mai Tai before), but right now you feel a loving warm glow for all the Emersons in the world.

So you smile. It is your gift. You give generously with your teeth.

You realize that you are not a mind attached to a body and neither is Emerson.

You are just two human beings in a world dancing without moving as you fall through space in Hawaiian time.

You once saw Emerson try to talk to people. Emerson quoted the philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer who said, “The ox does not butt because it happens to have horns; it has horns because it intends to butt” (A Perplexed Philosopher, p. 154). People looked at one another as if Emerson were a talking houseplant.

Unfazed, Emerson held up a pen saying, “I don’t write because I have a pen. I have a pen because I intend to write! It’s a matter of will that I am what I do! I don’t enjoy being Emerson because life is enjoyable. I enjoy being Emerson because it is my intention that life be enjoyable! All that we are and will ever be is an intention. We fly in jets because people contributed intelligent effort towards that intention. With intention and will, we devise ways to make our want happen.”

Someone said something stupid (and it wasn’t “I love you” like Frank and Nancy Sinatra) and everyone wandered away talking about their day. Emerson stood like a statue listening to a song no one could hear and then went invisible.

On the ground floor as the doors are opening, Emerson says, “Do you mind if I ask you a question?” and then, without being given permission asks, “Do you enjoy being you?” 

Of course you do! (Don’t you?) What a stupid question! You have to enjoy being yourself! If you don’t enjoy being you, you can’t enjoy! (Can you?) It’s like what the great Sammy Davis Jr said in song, “Whether I’m right or whether I’m wrong. Whether I find a place in this world or never belongI gotta be me! I’ve gotta be me! What else can I be but what I am?”

In this world increasingly crowded, where people become traffic and virtual reality is deemed more desirable than the physical, in anonymity we assimilate into social functions like machines in a hurry as we crush nature and lose a sense of being in the world.

As William Barrett, author of Irrational Man (1958) observed, it is from one’s being in the world in the most mundane, factual and ordinary sense that we feel aware (William Barrett Interview, 1978).

existential GPSThat we split reality between observer and observed isn’t obvious. We’re often on auto-pilot, thinking thoughts that may or may not be stupid, but sometimes—on vacation, while washing dishes or doing nothing, in a relaxed moment—we emerge from being babies in a baby world to feeling aware of our self being here in this world!

Much of life’s unfolding is beyond our controlling. One thing happens, then another, and another, in an interconnected chain of consequences like a Rube Goldberg (1883-1970) machine, until one day, without awareness, nothing happens and you stop waking up.

Today we plant donut seeds in the form of Cheerios. We do what our Mamas and Pappas told us when they sang, “Do what you want to do. Go where you want to go” (“Go Where You Wanna Go”).

listen to a sea shellToday we celebrate you! We celebrate you, not to be egotistical, narcissistic, solipsistic or to show you how equally equal you are with 7.5 billion other people (according to a Worldometer).

We celebrate you “being in the world” so that you can feel as happy as Tommy (aka Roger Daltrey in The Who musical) singing “I’m Free” after he’s healed from not seeing, feeling and hearing.

keystokingdom
Knock, knock. Who’s there? ‘Doris.’ Doris who? ‘Doris locked, that’s why I knocked.’

Sensory awareness is a key. Sensory awareness isn’t about holding something like a key as a means to the instrumental task of opening a door. Sensory awareness is to be drawn to a particular aspect, like a key’s shiny metal, its cool texture, or lovely “Click” when it opens a door.

Sensory awareness is when you take a call from nature and hear yourself hearing. Everyone has sensory awareness, but not everyone engages in sensations thousands of times a day, but such is the intention of a lover of wisdom. Sometimes all it takes is an absence of hurry.

Enjoy a Little Dream

tower_of_babel
“Tower of Babel” by Damian Parlicki.

A philosopher has a dream. In the dream she’s lying on her back beside a precarious tower. From her vantage point, it’s like she’s inside the Eiffel Tower looking up. The top looks far, far away.

Without a sound and ever so slowly – like a cargo ship setting out to sea – starting at the top, the tower begins to fall in slow motion straight down upon the dreamer.

With terror and disbelief she thinks, “That’s it. I’m dead.”

bottom-of-the-eiffel-tower-looking-up
Inside the Eiffel Tower looking up.

Within a minute she will be killed. The screaming words of AC/DC come to mind, “I’m back in black. I hit the sack. I’ve been too long. I’m glad to be back” (Back In Black, 1980) or as another poet put it:

This is the end, my only friend, the end.
Of our elaborate plans, the end.
Of everything that stands, the end.
No safety or surprise, the end (The Doors, “This Is the End,” 1967).

snuffed-candle

In death there is no pain, only regret.

It’s like the final scene in the the TV series The Sopranos. The family is in a diner talking and eating onion rings as “Don’t Stop Believin'” by Journey is playin’ on the jukebox. Just as Steve Perry sings, “Don’t stop!” BINK – it cuts to black silence and remains black silence for longer than is comfortable. Ten seconds elapse before credits roll.

The silent black nothingness surprises us. We want to go back, but can’t. It’s the silent slam of a door.

Some will win. Some will lose. Some were born to sing the blues.
Oh, the movie never ends. It goes on and on, and on, and on…
(Journey, “Don’t Stop Believin‘”, 1981).

AJ says, “Focus on the good times.” “Don’t be sarcastic,” says his father. “Isn’t that what you said one time? Try to remember the times that were good?” “I did?” says Tony with pause. “Yeah? Well, it’s true, I guess.

And so it is that we too focus on good times and let bad times roll off like duck water. It is now the dreamer who is included as one of “those people who died, died” like in the song by Jim Carroll.

And then… the dream ends. She wakes up. She sees her bed, a cat in the window and hears crows singing brightly, “Caa! Caa! Caa!” There is no tower. There never was. Dreamers see worlds behind closed eyes.

water-off-a-ducks-back“Is that what it feels like to die?” she wonders, looking around at what was old made new.

“Is it, BINK – cut to black silence, roll credits? What if death is like being born? How would you know? Do you remember being born? Do you know when you became aware of yourself as you?”

Is it not the case that as far back as you can remember, you’ve been you? Are you not the only you you’ve ever known? It’s always been you. It’s always been now.

And so it has been for anyone ever. All we know is now! Here you are then something happens – a tower falls, a bit of cancer: Cut to black silence. You’re gone then BINK! back from a dream beginning anew.

That could explain why squirrels and birds look so surprised.

time-is-fluid

Time feels permanent while you’re in it, but it isn’t. The year could be 1822, 1922 or 2022 – doesn’t matter – you roll in the time you’re in.

man-in-1822Flash – you’re at work. Splash – you’re eating dinner. Zip it’s tomorrow, all the while, without interruption, you’ve been yourself to you alone.

What if we each become aware of our self as we go along living from the beginning but the you-ness in each of us feels (and is) the same! Why not? Maybe ‘you’ is a relative term?

After all, we’re all ‘you’  to each other and ‘I’ to ourselves. Every night you close your eyes to disappear and every morning you open them to be yourself again and so does everyone all the time.

Everything is in motion. Cue music: “About Time” or “The Knick.”

cat-in-windowA woman says, “I’m Mavis. I live in Moose Jaw. I’m middle-aged, overweight and I work at Tim Hortons.”

Mavis has an idea of herself that others have come to share, but no one but Mavis knows what it’s like to be Mavis from birth to demise.

When Mavis is gone, only the idea of her will remain.

A man says, “I’m Archie from Arizona. I teach high school and play video games.” Archie has been acculturated. He knows who he is and goes around proving it. He judges others using himself as exemplar.

self-awareness

Charles Dickens wrote, “A wonderful fact to reflect upon, that every human creature is constituted to be that profound secret and mystery to every other” (A Tale of Two Cities).

What is that secret? Can you see it? Peer into the pupil of another. What do you see? Do you see a black hole the same as your own? Maybe they’re not even just the same as in similar but the ‘same’ like the space around a star is the ‘same’ space near or far.

close-up-of-eye2
Eye see you.

A black hole isn’t a “hole” at all. It isn’t even black. It’s an orb in space that looks black because light can’t escape. If you jumped on one you’d descend towards it so slowly that “it would take an infinite amount of time” for you to be atomically disassembled and added to it (Universe Today).

Isn’t it odd how black holes look a lot like pupils in eyeballs, which, by the way, also absorb light rays (Wikipedia)?

black-hole
Artist’s conception of a black hole, Universe Today, 2015.

An old philosopher said, “Each day is a little life: every waking and rising a little birth, every fresh morning a little youth, every going to rest and sleep a little death” (Schopenhauer, 1851). The question is: If your lifespan is 24 hours, how will you live it?

A trick to enjoying a rock and roll philosophy is to recognize the significance of existence and in Hard Times rock it like Ray Charles and in Good Times roll like the Cars.

Enjoy the role of you playing you always and forever (or at least until a tower falls on you).

Moods, Will and the Meaning of Being

cars-3

It was the philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) who said in Being and Time (1927) that there are ways of understanding things other than intellectually (Crtichley, 2001).

Before a person has a theoretical reaction, a thought or a thunk (past tense of think), there is an emotional mood. Everyone is always in some sort of mood. Right now your mood could be excited or indifferent, interested or bored.

coffee shopYour mood could be open to enjoyment like a 24 hour diner or closed like a bank after 5 PM. It’s a matter of will and 1-2-3:

  1. will yourself (to enjoy)
  2. take action (or inaction as a wise philosopher would)
  3. happy possibility

The first step is a matter of will. The philosopher Schopenhauer used “will” in the same sense as words like “desire”, “striving” and “wanting”. He held that all nature (including man) is the expression of an insatiable will to life and he thought that it’s through will that mankind finds suffering.

You might think that if desire (or will) is what causes suffering (as a lot of Buddhists do), remove the desire or will and suffering ceases but the desire to remove desire is another desire. You can’t desire not to desire. That’s desire. So the trick is not to desire not to desire (that can’t be done). Use desire to your advantage.

if there's a will there's a wayCounter the view of will = suffering with these simple words of wisdom: Where there’s a will, there’s a way. Will enjoyment. Will a good life. Pay attention to moods. Work with them and don’t deny them.

The way a person sees something is as much determined by one’s mood as it is by what one thinks about what one sees. Moods are first. An image can elicit a happy response or the opposite.

sunsetLet’s say you had an argument. You’re mood is angry and sad. You know life is short. You take action. You go into nature (wherever that happens to be) and you see a sunset.

In an angry mood sunsets are meaningless but if you relax into beauty a bad mood fades. If you think, “This too shall pass,” a sunset that was meaningless becomes sublime. You can become the sunset seeing itself. Stop. Do nothing. It’s a matter of time. Being takes time.

sunsetMoods aren’t just feelings to colour your mental life. Moods are the way each of us experiences life in this world. Moods are connected to our very being.

The biggest question for lots of philosophers, has been the question of the meaning of being a human being (try saying that fast!). The question of the meaning of your being a human being can’t be reduced to a scientific study. How do you explain the meaning of your being?

To Heidegger the basic idea of being is simple: being is time. And time, well, it comes to you with your birth and ends with your death. If you want to understand what it means to be a human being, try projecting your life onto the horizon of your death (Critchley, 2015).

park benchPhilosophy is the love of wisdom. As a philosopher of enjoyment, you are sensitive to the wisdom found in the enjoyment of living – good and bad. For most ancient philosophers including Socrates (or “Socks” as they called him in high school), the wisdom that philosophy taught was how to lead a good human life. For the ancients, a good human life was a happy one.

To be wise, your aim (and will) should be to enjoy being. Why not? Life is a waltz. The waltz of living. Don’t look at your feet. 1-2-3, 1-2-3. 1-2-3. Enjoyment is the thing.