What is it that we are incessantly looking for?
What is it that we are always trying to escape?
Industry has cultured a mechanical war inside our minds. Every day a battle rages between the conscious heart and the machine mind inside. Obdurate we are in choice, essentially the war of wars, and at least as far as any gun-hoe rationalist will tell us, our every day choice lies between accepting Ayn Rand objectivism or choosing to settle for the less than spectacular pseudosciences of the heart. Souls seemingly lost for solutions that coincide with the rational mind are decidedly dropped for more tenable answers. We are stuck remotely between interior collapse of the psyche and coincidentia oppositorum. Our foolish hope: doublethink. We believe by choosing one, the other is fulfilled. At the very least we hope, which of course, is not so rational after all.
Beneath a nagging will to take action in our lives to acquire more, we experience a particular mental realm of spinning. Wheels constantly turning, leaving us insatiated -victims of our own incessant thought matters- which rarely subside. This churning process, referred to by Steven Pinker as mentalese, is a meta-linguistic process that occurs behind our thoughts and thought to occur even before we learn language.
Our heads tell us we should be doing more while our bodies hesitate to take the complimentary countermeasures that these actions necessarily demand. We think we want more, yet we do not commit to doing more. This constant rotary of our psychic appetite against our physical instinct to conserve energy creates enormous stress and unrest for the psyche (and our mental motivation). It seems the cog-mind is constantly churning, burning, and running off meat-powered mentalese.
What is this unquenchable, non-physical thirst always threatening us?
Desire. Craving. Tanha. Trsna. That ceaseless word that consumes nearly every minute of our human existence rarely stops long enough to admit,
“Now I’m completely satisfied. I no longer crave attention. I no longer need to be physically satiated, or psychically attentive. My sexual frustration is at ease. My genetic urge to procreate, to feed myself, and to sleep has managed rest. No longer am I trying to escape this moment for fear of my own survival. Indeed, there is no other end to meet than living in this exact moment-to-moment. I’m perfectly content to be. There is no other where than here: physically, mentally, or spiritually. ”
Where ambition ceases, the cessation of appetition soon follows.
The re-discovering of universal recollection.
Ooh and ah are fulfilled and even yet more fullness pervades…
And by this treatise, who of us can or will affirm their achieved status as constantly filled?
Dare anyone speak outwardly about their permanent bliss?
Trapped by our ability to literally express ourselves, words contain an experience beyond them causing nothing more than a personal bias towards the transpersonal.
For these reasons, the sage remains silent or answers in logically confusing riddles.
An Introduction to Peak Experiences
Most of us will admit there have been these rare occasions in our lives when our inner needs and desires have been completed fulfilled, albeit however short the satisfaction lasted. Psychologist Abraham Maslow called these moments in our lives where we are somehow removed from our temporal confines as peak experiences. In these moments of rarity, our instinctual appetite to possess more dissolves and our never-ending, overwhelming lack of security for our substance becomes equally content to be. Relaxed, vulnerability becomes impossible. Open acceptance reigns. Self-liberation prevails.
Our disparity disappears into the overall magnitude of life alive. We are in-tune to, in fact we are, the vital pulse of the universe not subtracting. We no longer wish to have anything. The will to possess ourselves leaves us brisk and light. We no longer wish to build, break, or defeat others. We no longer want to store, amass, collect, procure, produce, or secure anything more for ourselves or in regards to our futures. In opening to the experiences of these unique moments of our lives, one ceases even to think about one’s sense of a self. The one and one, the individual, is far removed from any sort of personal sense of having an experience allowing a greater sense of wholeness to be apprehended. In this all too removed sensation of selfless rapture, the psychic universe expands ahead of conceived physical restraints. Insight and the outer world of cosmetic appearance consciously fuse as All in One to what is often referred to as the original wholeness of Self. Here, we are perfectly content and lacking no-thing. This mode of existence is referred to in certain philosophical circles as the ontological lexicon “Being.”
What we all too often fail to see from our preconditioned lens of western culture is that instead of our primary motivation being based out of an original experience of interior wholeness like the one mentioned above – Integrity, our primary motivation –that is, the core belief of our perceived character, and the behavior which reacts from it, has been so conditioned by western technocapitalism towards the influence of consumerism that any sort of integrally-based conduct has been abandoned.
In times such as these, the relevance of questioning the capitalistic motor of our socio-economical status as ourselves is never more apparent. What is meant more specifically here is the presumption that are not we as individuals, parts of the whole which we name our society? And thus by this admittance, if society’s motivation is so immotile in deconstructive consumerism, shouldn’t we question if we too are ourselves? Is not this the individual motif of our generation, our deepest rut, primary battle, and inescapable climb?
Have we abandoned the head for the heart, or vice versa? Are we forsaking half our entirety to live in complete extreme of the other? Abandoning any sense of spirit for scientism, or so convicted to our religious notions that we’ve neglected science? Have we denied ourselves the right to integration?
The Ideal We Strive For (The Stake of Striving’s Sake)
Most of us western folk have this image in our heads of an ideal life we will somehow reach in the future. An image that promises everlasting happiness, undying rest, and constant relaxation, our very own Shangri-la, where we can travel the world, enjoy life’s finer commodities, and finally settle down from our days of distraught and difficulty inherent of progression. The ideal usually entails a time removed from our current living situation whereby using our powers of foward-sighted-ness we see our future hedonistic selves living an extraordinary life of materialistic abundance. There we dream of the brand new sports car sitting in the driveway. We imagine the stereotypical brick American house with a fenced in backyard for our dog or dogs (if we are lucky) to run around freely. Then we superimpose the illusion even further by dreaming of ourselves at one of our many nightly house parties, (mind you, that we are the host of, of course!) surrounded by our bourgeois peers sipping some Argentine Malbec out of crystal stemware removed from the aftereffects of a luxurious dinner.
And for our entire lives we strive to reach this ideal. Worst of all, even the most well-respected life coaches, authors, and motivational speakers tell us in their books or at their expensive seminars that we need to begin designing our very own ‘dream board.’ They tell us to cut out pictures from our favorite magazines and create a collage of all our future desires. If we stare at the dream board long enough each day, we will eventually be living in our dream house, driving our imaginary BMW, and making love to the most attractively, photo-shopped woman alive. They encourage us to engage in superficial motivations and imagine our hedonistic selves far removed from where we are now. This is terribly upsetting that these people who consider themselves thought-leaders, informed intellectuals, and inspirational writers believe that the greater part of human motivation lies in “having” more, “accumulating” more, “possessing” more, and that with each new property & territorial form we gain, the happier we -and our humanity as whole- will be. To what foolish ends do they encourage such uncanny behavior! To end, this obsession with objectifying our reality must stop.
When so many of us have so much, do not still we want more? Is not our desperate thirst ever quenched?
Rarely do we feel completely content and sure that we are where we should be. And this is rather unfortunate for the appropriative masses; I believe –in fact, there is so much more. The lack or rather the inconsistency of peak experiences in our lives is under shelved, under served, and under experienced. Too few people are talking about joy. That is to say more eagerly that the knowledge that we do experience during occasional moments far removed from the concerns of our tedious little lives in order to feel the universe-at-large is of the upmost importance for humanity to redeem itself from this sickness embedded in materialism. Acknowledging this very moment of being alive and becomming so far removed from (or attentive to) the peddlesome ignorances of what is our daily life rushed to and from and always somewhere, we encounter a sense of unity, the subterranean intuition beyond the surface of one’s self, a supreme knowing beyond an individualistic scope of understanding where the metaphysical certainty in which our lives is constantly immersed in is open to be experienced (in fact, this is more often than not the actual reality we are submerged in), but our very ignorance towards this choice of a reality is cut off simply because we’ve failed individually, and as a society, at cultivating our attention towards it. Peak experiences are perhaps closer to our wishes of salvation than any afterlife. I believe the very lack, or inconsistency, of these instances of metaphysical resolve, these “magic moments” throughout our lives is due by and large to our western indoctrination, capitalistic culture of consumerism, and our overall sexual/creative repression as a Abrahamic-based society as whole. In short, our social and cultural patternings limit who we are and who we can become.
Purchasing Who We Are
We are conditioned at an early age to satisfy our desires through the act of purchase. Buying is a trend we’ve associated with our craving’s cessation. In attempting to alleviate these sufferings, the feeling of lacking, being unsatisfied in general, all of which are essentially considered dukkha, we’ve created a reward system to handle our inherent nature. Utilizing our volitional control to satisfy what we’ve associated as desire on a materialistic level instead of cultivating the concentration to see past materia and into the workings of the fundamental substructures of the mind, a holistic perception of reality is rarely developed in the person. Our lack thereof is understanding. Wanting only leads to more wanting, the enjoyment of buying to more buying.
And what do we make of our society of self-consumption, a society of every man for himself? Does buying expensive bottled water actually relieve our thirst anymore than free-flowing filtered sink water offered up to everyone? Does the bottle’s marketing relieve our daily anxiety anymore than say a cup of cold water from the fridge at home? Maybe water is not the most exciting mark to strike a flame here? Shopping goods may better serve our purpose. What about a new pair of Nike Airs, Gucci purses, and designer bras? Does the superficiality of our clothing and its branding actually make us feel more secure about who we are and help our acceptance amongst our peers? Are we better off buying from a locale of selfishly-based cause and concern? More specifically, does living out of this “having more” mode alleviate life’s uncertainty, disparity, and idle suffering? Is there something deeper than purchased goods that we are looking to undergo, perhaps some qualitative depth in our experience of being alive? Is there something beneath the appearance of what we “have” that we intuitively crave, perhaps that which cannot be purchased or possessed?
Experience has shown me that most certainly, there is.
What We All Desperately Want
What we are desperately looking for is genuine connection.
Every attempt at merging ourselves hints at the basic condition of Life -the original fusion. You see, we seek authentic relationships around the board: from bona fide relationships with friends and family, to authentic work experiences with our peers, to labors built around creative, spontaneous, self-motivating habits located in environments where we are free to express ourselves and who we are.
We want to share. We want to give our hearts to causes greater than our pathetic, tiny-mattered, self-centered personalities. We want to embrace and expand, but not of our own accord; we want to experience the triumphal return of grace and know with a certainty that a guiding invisible hand is at play over our lives. We want something to trust in eternally. Some power greater than our meager minds. We’ve been so indoctrinated in individualism that we’ve forgotten how to trust anyone other than that paranoid voice inside our head -which as most psychologists will tell us is not the most authentic source to follow if we are going to invest in the longevity of our well-being. Yet, we choose to leave ourselves short-sighted, lacking options simply because we don’t know better.
We’ve neglected unity in our self-image. We are so busy framing who we think we should be that we’ve forgotten to see the world through a larger frame –who we are and who we are together. I wholeheartedly believe that we are all looking for someone we can always depend on, who’ll be there when the bad days strike us down and put us in our tiny little dependent places. As much as we desperately want another to be with, to connect to, to communicate with, to confirm our beliefs, so too do they desperately want our companionship.
I believe our tendency toward avarice is developed and reinforced by certain social stigmas that portray (and reward) the greedy in entertainment mediums. I believe that when we’ve destroyed all our chances at quality relationships, we’ll realize what we’ve done. I believe when we’ve shot down all our opportunities at connecting with others and we are forced to communicate with our wardrobes full of designer clothes, the time-bound cuckoo of our own doing appears and forces us to reckon with our temporal restraints. When not a single clothe reciprocates a sound, all we’ll hear is our voice, the utter acoustics of our own internal company.
I believe we are so worried about what we don’t “have” and losing what we do have that we end up working our lives away in the name of “having.” We’ll end up sacrificing the best parts of a great life and by the time most of us realize our foolishness, what has been lost in time is not nearly as replete as our 60-hour workweeks. By then, we’ll have lost out on nearly a lifetime of enjoyment, creative indulgence, and original, qualitative experiences, including personable relationships. We’ve lost countless unique moments and in return, what have we chosen? The sacrifice of a great life lived for what could be always had and halved. The problem is…that we care more about losing and gaining possessions (including people and our possessive love towards them) and we fail to appreciate the un-possessable, innate, and uncertain mystery before us now.
Not nearly enough time is there to live and know you are alive, especially from a volatile sense of the word.
Perhaps this obsession with having is an attempt to relieve our certain lack of control over ourselves, our lack of trusting each other, and the uncertainty of what will happen to us. Maybe, this inner obsession to possess and undermine is an attempt to prove to ourselves that we do “have” a say in our lives, or in the least a say about something, anything for that matter. It is our attempt at saying “Yes, you are significant.”
We have this thing and this thing and this thing, don’t you see all of my possessions? “I have more than you. I am better!” The head screams and by this point the heart shatters. A million pieces scattered to loss. Meanwhile, the bludgeoning of another’s mind comes from an intellect suppressed by imagined idols, false gods, mythological duty, and a distorted sense of spiritual security. The hopes and dreams of a life recollected after death becomes more of a concern and entertainment than what is presently familiar and readily alive. This avoidance to the present moment for the sake of dreamlike wishes and self-preservative fairy tales is nothing more than a tragedy for humanity.
The more we try to hide from reality, the more we try to hide behind a façade of what we each have, what she has, and what they have, the more we stain the cosmetic reflection between us.
Deep down, we are pathetic animals scared to come to terms with life’s uncertainties.
Death is coming for us and escape we cannot.
Deep down, we are in ruin because our say is not final, yet Life continues its advance, regardless of how we feel about the direction.
We have merely but a series of moments to choose what matters. A reality fluctuating where our role constantly changes as all flows through us. Nothing is guaranteed, despite how constant the price tag looks. In the store of life, mark-ups and sales happen all the time. All we ever ‘really have’ is this moment to enjoy our browsings. We are searching for not simply that which we cannot afford, but for that which we cannot buy, and in our every selection of less, more becomes unveiled. After shopping around a bit for something we find attractive or that which is attracted to us, we come to terms with the process of bonding (whether we like it or not), deciding what we want, waiting in line, and ultimately checking out.