It’s funny. I often come here in the heat of analytic passion, sharing with my readers whatever book or new philosophy I’ve come across, or continuing down one certain line of thinking.
Some recent personal insights have caused me to reflect on this, and the least I can say is I feel refreshed, breathing anew. This blog will still be important to me, to share things–but in a way that psychological push I’ve had (knowledge as a never ending banquet for my mind) has eluded me. I still absolutely love delving into a good book, particularly a philosophy book, but something has really changed.
In philosophy, we’re often identifying our reality with a way of seeing the world. We question things, equate knowledge with analysis, insight and perception. This is a great tool for unlocking new knowledge, personally and with others. But we’ve often heard of another kind of wisdom, one that doesn’t entirely equate reality via thinking about it.
Thought, often enough is considered to be a primary tool of the mind. I think we can take a lesson from eastern philosophers when they speak of duality and paradoxes. Often, a paradox is a sign of harmony: night and day, dark and light, aggressive and passive. They compliment and define each other. If we apply this to human nature, we might see ourselves as thinking, feeling beings, punctuated by quiet stillness or silence. Deep sleep, followed by a flurry of words and emotions. Might it be good to explore this other side, to balance a chattering mind with a still one? Both surely have their purpose and contribute to a harmonious lifestyle.
And so one of the major breakthroughs, for me at least, is attuning myself to the silence as well as the chatter. It soothes the mind like a good song; a dance between silence and musical notes. This brings a certain joy to one’s life, a creative, intuitive component to life often misunderstood as idleness or sloth.
It can help center you, giving energy to your thoughts and spurring insight, both in philosophical ventures and in friendship.
I had been reading B. Alan Wallace lately, and learned Pythagoras was not only a philosopher who utilized intellect, but a mystic who listened to silence. Cultivating this into a modern lifestyle can truly help, not merely for psychological well-being, but as insight and transformation for our contemporary culture as a whole.
Coming back around now, I think I’ve finally learned to appreciate the wisdom in, “Know thyself,” which isn’t merely intellectual knowledge but insight into one’s nature. Couldn’t we take ourselves further, deeper if we were not always filling the world with words, but listening to it too?
Sometimes we identify ourselves too strongly with our words, our ideas. Psychologically, we do this often enough not with abstract ideas, but thoughts in the form of memories, experiences, associations. “I am ___.” We also identify ourselves with the emotions that accompany and interweave this. All in all, this makes a nifty not or web we call “me.” What meditation does, or really, what silence does is help us recognize the human experience has the potential to be something that is not quite a “thing.” It’s more of a state, a knowING, rather than the known, a beING rather than an object of being. This may sound complex, and yes, often words trip up in attempting to describe this surreal, serene state of presence with ourselves.
All in all, silence and meditation loosen our bonds with the sense of Self, which can often become so wound up, we become bound in anxieties and psychological baggage. So much so, that some of us may defend ourselves, “but, this is who I am!”
Taking a moment to observe ourselves through meditative practice, the person taking the time might notice that he or she is capable of observing their thoughts and feelings, but what then is the observer? A deep state of awareness may follow, like a cool river washing away the fragments of anxieties we were originally hung up on. This open, flowing state is equated with the “bliss” in spiritual practices, but to me it is also expressing the potential for human beings to mature into something beyond words, beyond names and limited concepts. It is that wordless, nameless state that more profound experiences may occur–satori, enlightenment, meeting God.
Of course, all such names are not present, at least, not in focus as much anymore, we are taking flight, the “flight of the eagle” as Krishnamurti had once described. Dare we, for a moment, not limit ourselves to being lost in the self?
On a purely physical level, we might say that the mind is associating neural pathways that are more integrative, less fragmented, more active and less reactive. The human being stepping up into their great potential through self-insight. One thing we are often afraid to do is just that–look into ourselves.
PS: I’m putting together a thesis right now. Trying to balance out the heavy studies with meditation practice. How do you handle a heavy mental work load? Upcoming writing will probably include Jean Gebser’s work, Ever Present Origin, Wallace, and Teilhard. Thanks for dropping by!