At the end of a ride on a great wave we find ourselves gasping and spitting, with the sharp tang of brine penetrating our sinuses, sand in our eyes. Our minds filled by a euphoric kaleidoscopic replaying of the ride’s thrills. Meanwhile, the next wave is about to land on us, pushing us down into the coarse sand, stealing our next breath, whether we’re ready for it or not. We’d like to be able to cherish the moment just passed, riding not just effortlessly but borne along upon the power of wind and water. We’d like to rush back out and do it again. We’d like it all to just stop, even for just a moment, for a lot of contradictory “reasons.”
Most days follow on from the day before and are followed by another in such a way that at any given moment, and certainly in retrospect, the salient sensation we’re left with is of partaking in continuity. This is an aspect of the workings of the mind and is related to; and it might be said it is subsumed within; our sense of a stable personality extending via retrospection backwards through memory to include what we call, “Our Lives.” We feel that we are the same person we were in the past. We expect to continue to be the same person until we die.
The broken state of our world has become so obvious that further efforts to list and attempt to convince those who refuse to recognize it are beyond counterproductive. We are easily distracted by nightmare scenarios, psycho-dramas, playing-out alternative doomsdays, whose only purpose is as a mechanism to keep us stuck, helpless, and increasingly incapable of responding. There are two facts, beyond the destruction of the “Natural” World – the home for all our social, cultural, and private worlds – that demand our attention and have received little or no consideration in any broader arena.
This quote pops up on my feed the day after the question of desire arises in a conversation with Jeppe Graugaard. Desire is one of the grand themes, and as such, it is difficult to avoid being overwhelmed by the subject or tangled in the many cliché associations that have clotted around it. What brought focus onto desire this time was two-fold: That money is abstracted desire and that when we seek to find coherent action we need to have ways of recognizing desire with its many disguises and discover how we might be able to let our desires arise in us; see them take shape; and then watch them slip away or dissolve; without being trapped in the compulsion to follow their dictates.
A simple question: Why not continue to be bound by desire? “If it feels good…?”
Delusion is completely convincing. This point can be difficult to acknowledge. When we suffer under a delusion we accept its rationalizations completely. We simply cannot see any incoherence in our outlook. We are certain.
How then can we tell whether attending to coherence is not just another delusion?
We are perturbed and react out of our displacement. Coming to terms with futility, finding an emotional ground by accepting Grief, discovering our interdependence, we come to trust. Following this path internally we integrate our selves. Following this path in company we develop community.
Whenever someone challenges our valid sense of urgency we are compelled to repeat a litany of real and imagined aspects of the Enormity we all face. It’s as if to hear things are dire and, that for this very reason, we need to slow down; is just too much to bear. Anyone making this claim must just not be paying attention.
Recently, Antonio Dias employed a phrase that I quite like: “the Edifice of Thought”. The painstakingly constructed modern edifice of thought now rests upon some pretty wobbly foundations — the metaphysical assumptions of the Newtonian-Cartesian paradigm that have now become very dubious and uncertain. Chief among these dubious assumptions is metaphysical dualism, or what is called “the mind-body problem”, which has become a major impediment to our resolving many of the crises of Late Modernity.
Thought shapes thinking. We cannot think differently unless we become aware of how thought shapes our thinking.
There is a shape implicit in thought, forming a trajectory for our thinking, that is there as we gather a thought. Right there in the act of thinking itself.
Technological thinking, institutionalized, taught thinking, what we call rational thought is shaped entirely by an Edifice of Thought. It never looks at, is blind to, even the existence of Thought as an edifice, a bounded world. It takes its sense of bounded-ness as being the result of essential limits on what is possible; what is realistic, in its terms. But, even when we question thought and take forays outside these boundaries thought is still exercising control, in the sense of giving a particular shape, to how we think.
We are infatuated with the idea of The Future™. Breathlessly running through what appears to be a menu of options as if to be a Modern Human is to be able to sit in judgement, weighing our choices with delicate discernment, whether to accept a heaping helping of Techno Fantasy or dawdle over a tasting menu of potential Apocalypse.
Even le nome du jour for the present; The Anthropocene, insists that what will be no more than a sliver of an irradiated film of organic carbon taking up no more of the geological record than the thickness of a fingernail, at most an Anthropopause, must in our infinite self-regard inflate into an entire geological Epoc. Echoes of Homo Sapiens sapiens….
One of the fundamentals of Qi Gong, a practice that is all about fundamentals, is that we attend to where and how we are grounded. Not in some academic manner, parsing theoretical constructs or honing philosophical arguments; in Qi Gong the ground we attend to is this scrap of Earth’s surface directly under our feet. We stay with the facts of gravity and skeletal-muscular resistance that make it possible to stand and move. We disabuse ourselves of willful delusions that tend to destroy our balance while filling our heads with visions of unattainable powers. We repeatedly, in a sustained manner, work to embody our complete dependence on having a place to stand and gravity to resist. Without these, and air to breathe, nothing can be done. We return again and again to these facts.