In Part One we looked at the anatomy of relationships, in a general sense. We considered how the birth separation from our mother sets off a chain of reactions that strengthen us – as individuals in the world – but isolate us in a bubble of self, from which we form more distant relationships, perhaps only really opening ourselves to our world and others a few times in our lives…
Does our self’s journey hold an invitation to do more than this? There is a contradiction in our lives: the developed sense of self protects us from, among other things, emotional hurt. But it also ‘numbs’ the quality of experience, since everything is seen with reference to this self rather than being experienced for what it is.
Philosophers have always postulated that there is a world ‘out-there’, but that we abstract it within the mind and so deal only with a copy of reduced intensity; our minds filled with ‘routines’ that recognise a situation and replay what we historically feel about it.
In this way, we live in the past rather than the present. It’s a sobering thought…
To consider that there might be something that ‘is’ beyond the ‘me’ is challenging. The me has been carefully nurtured into our maturity so that we have fortress of self, where only what we choose can reach us – in the sense of affecting us. Even those choices become habitual, resulting us being almost machine-like, though few of us are brave enough to contemplate that.
There are various methods to loosening this barrier of self and world. One of the simplest is to learn to look again. Consider an object; say a flower. Let yourself look at it in the habitual way, but then go back, a second later, and look again. Deliberately pick out details that you missed in your usual cursory inspection. The changing hue of colour, the fragrance, the nature of the flower’s centre… Make them all vivid and challenge your mind’s usual perception.
With a little practice, you will be able to literally ‘lose yourself’ in the flower or whatever object you’ve settled on. Traditional approaches to consciousness state that we create an internal representation of the flower in our minds. The flower has reality – it’s really ‘out there’, but our consciousness of it is largely historical. Our look-again flower has much more vividness than before.
At this point, we face a challenge: do we content ourselves with the brightening of our world by doing more of the look-again process? Or do we plunge much deeper into ourselves to discover some startling truths about the very nature of awareness, itself.
In the third of this series, next week, we will look at the journey into our own truths… and where that lives.
End Part Two.
©Stephen Tanham 2022
Stephen Tanham is a Director of the Silent Eye, a journey through the forest of personality to the dawn of Being.