There are times when we begin to have self-doubt about much of what we have tried to carry out in the world. When reflecting upon our lives and wondering if we have made a difference in the world, we sometimes neglect that which makes our spirits lighter. We often become detached from a healthy lifestyle by allowing routines and small matters consume our lives. When one reaches this place, we begin to reflect upon that which will take us to another state of being, a place that is usually provoked by something we love, something that will transform our thinking and bring about happiness…..For me that element is…playing some music.
Unfortunately we can often become distracted, and become over time practice behaviors that become habits that will lead us down a darker road than the one we should have liked to walk. Sometimes the habits of our thinking can distort the nature of ‘things-as-they-are’, and we become disconnected to fundamental healthy living choices. There are many tales and talisman of those who become “disconnected”. If our focus is too narrow, or too broad, we just may be leaving much of our experience to the realm that erodes these experiences. We then little by little become stricken with a decay in our thought on how we should relate and live in the world. Thus we begin a process of alienation that started with an imbalance somewhere in our own habitual routines which ultimately pull us away from what is truly important in our lives.
“If you can’t explain it to a six year old, you don’t understand it yourself.” – Albert Einstein
Take a look at the cases for addiction. One can become addicted to any number of things based on our “perception of being!” We are profoundly affected by the environments we accommodate. I posit this claim on the history of psychological studies in the fields of human motivation, developmental psychology, behaviorist conditioning, cognitive and gestalt findings, from Jean Piaget, Abraham Maslow, Carl Rogers, (et. al.), and the Eastern influences of Taoism, Buddhism and Confucian teachings. This is also noted in studies of the Enneagram with conclusive findings supporting my following claim.
Addiction is not caused only by the drugs themselves. Addiction is caused by a sense of isolation and disconnection in the addict. It’s not the drugs—it’s your cage.
So our placement in the world, our views about the world can somewhat determine our “Being” in the world. Our decisions about how we live, are ultimately important when finding meaning in our relationships.
When we become disconnected from
Values not based on ego / self
Humor and Laughter
we may be heading towards hurtful discord and disharmony.
Being Disconnected is an anti-Taoist state of being
The quintessential question we often displace is about being! How does one fit into the world? We can become distracted, overstimulated by our passions, but there may be some consequences to our choices that we make about our relationship to the world and in the world. We must first understand what in this world is critical for our “Being!” How should we relate to it, the people in it, and what sources should we align ourselves to?
Through the process of immersion one can reconnect to the world. If we follow paths that lead us down a meandering road full of distraction, such as problematic learned behaviors, maladaptive dissonant behaviors, or faulty poor environments which damage our awareness and dissuade our better natures; then we may find ourselves in an existential bewilderment.
One must use all of our senses and abilities to “Feel” this immersion. It is not purely intellectual. It is also emotive and felt from the “Heart”! I cannot stress the importance of this connection since much of our “detachments” derive from within the mind, but are not solved without the heart being involved. A disconnection can be largely caused by our will’s overpower other parts of our sensing apparatuses. Thus we become lost, yet still don’t know why we have disconnected our way from the things that sustain our being the most: family, friends, hobbies, music, et cetera. We give into our ego, and distort our other relationships that alienate our Being. Alternately we can become lost in our passions, and leave our intellectual judgements at home on the porch. Like the saying ….”If you don’t wanna run with the big dogs, than stay on the porch!” An anachronism that seems to fit in this case.
There are many instances in which one can alienate themselves from that which sustains them. Sometimes it is from powers outside of their control, yet they have to deal with the aftermath of burdens of such events such as parental alienation. How we cope with the events in our lives is our decision. We are responsible for seeking out solutions that will bring about our salvation. Part of the process of healing, is directing ourselves to open our hearts again to receive the natural positive vibrations the universe has to offer us. When we close ourselves to this, we risk the chance of becoming overloaded and thus become jaded!
So what’s your Muse? What will bring you home again if indeed you stray from source of your fulfillment and well-being?
“Here is the vicious circle: if you feel separate from your organic life, you feel driven to survive; survival -going on living- thus becomes a duty and also a drag because you are not fully with it; because it does not quite come up to expectations, you continue to hope that it will, to crave for more time, to feel driven all the more to go on.”
― Alan W. Watts
“Society, as we have constituted it, will have no place for me, has none to offer; but Nature, whose sweet rains fall on unjust and just alike, will have clefts in the rocks where I may hide, and secret valleys in whose silence I may weep undisturbed. She will hang the night with stars so that I may walk abroad in the darkness without stumbling, and send the wind over my footprints so that none may track me to my hurt: she will cleanse me in great waters, and with bitter herbs make me whole.”
― Oscar Wilde, De Profundis
“Simplicity, patience, compassion.
These three are your greatest treasures.
Simple in actions and thoughts, you return to the source of being.
Patient with both friends and enemies,
you accord with the way things are.
Compassionate toward yourself,
you reconcile all beings in the world.”
― Lao Tzu, Tao Te Ching
We sometimes mistakenly believe that we are granted some fortune of providence if we follow the lessons of our faith. Problems often arise when we start to ask why do we have to endure such misery when contrary circumstances admit themselves into our lives and show us that all is not peaceful in the realm of man’s governance. At times we shut down our inquiries into leading happy lives, and become shadows of ourselves when we disband our alignment with trusted values and become lost in the pursuit of false promises. A loss of meaning may become dominant in our thinking if we allow these elements to take our attentions away from the qualities that bind us as human beings.
We may become lost in following a path that takes us away from recognizing the beautiful gifts we often neglect or fail to see in our lives. Thus when we suffer from some condition that causes us discomfort, some disease that causes us pain, we will appreciate the times when our bodies did not have to suffer under such conditions. This is an awakening that may or may not come to us, but if it does, it is as if a new door of discovery has opened again to us.
When you open your world up and begin to see just what you have been missing, you will immediately appreciate the feeling of what you are experiencing because it was sorely needed. A healthy environment, in opposition to an unhealthy one is a prime example of how we benefit in many ways from such distinctions. Disallowing the simple things that you can appreciate is not unlike starving yourself of nutritional values that nurture the soul. We sometimes become intensely focused on our careers, or some other focal activity that distracts us from the essential nourishing elements in our lives, and the result is the failure to see the forest through the trees. If this distraction is not attended with the presence of a balanced perspective within our lives, than we risk loosing sight of other amazing features that qualify a life as being fulfilled.
The affirmation of receiving our sight back after having an outdated prescription updated, as we re-experience the world with much more clarity in our vision is a tale that comes in many forms. We have ignored these illusive features right in front of us because we are engaged in other aspects in our life, and therefore we lose appreciation of some of the more fundamental yet beautiful things in our everyday lives.
The scent of our loved ones hair, and skin, or the sound of our children’s laughter are a point of contention. When you stop enjoying these basic human experiences, you have descended into the lowest kind of existence. You have inadvertently turned yourself against important human functions that ties you to the rest of humanity. This sacrifice may turn your perceptions that will lead you to question your former beliefs.
Take the examples of thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche or John Paul Sartre. Nietzsche created much of his philosophy when he lived his formidable years slowly succumbing to general paralysis of the insane (GPI; tertiary cerebral syphilis). Influenced by Arthur Schopenhauer, his claims were in direct contradiction to the values of the time. His ease in the world became clear when his philosophy projected himself outside of the world he was living in. One free of physical torment, and mental anguish.
Nietzsche’s enthusiasm for what he called “the transvaluation of all values” stemmed from his contempt for Christianity and the entirety of the moral system that flowed from it: indeed, “contempt of man”, as Nietzsche states near the end of The Antichrist. Nietzsche perceived the moral framework of Christian civilization to be oppressive: reproduction derided as sinful; life as a mere investment for the hollow promise of an illustrious afterlife; and death valued over life. The transvaluation of all values would mean the exaltation of life rather than the exaltation of suffering, and an acceptance of every instinct or lust as organic and therefore valid, and so beyond the scope of moral condemnation. What one desires would be merely what one desires, rather than either sinful or pious. What one desires would be the product of stimuli rather than the product of “will”.
With J.P. Sartre, we see another way of thinking by predicating meaning from existence. Much of his philosophy resulted from the influence of the phenomenology of Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger and his incarceration by the German army during his service in WWII before the French were liberated by the Allies.
Herbert Marcuse criticized Being and Nothingness (1943) by Jean-Paul Sartre for projecting anxiety and meaninglessness onto the nature of existence itself: “Insofar as Existentialism is a philosophical doctrine, it remains an idealistic doctrine: it hypostatizes specific historical conditions of human existence into ontological and metaphysical characteristics. Existentialism thus becomes part of the very ideology which it attacks, and its radicalism is illusory”.
In Letter on Humanism, Heidegger criticized Sartre’s existentialism:
Existentialism says existence precedes essence. In this statement he is taking existentia and essentia according to their metaphysical meaning, which, from Plato’s time on, has said that essentia precedes existentia. Sartre reverses this statement. But the reversal of a metaphysical statement remains a metaphysical statement. With it, he stays with metaphysics, in oblivion of the truth of Being.
Looking at the life works of such authors within their encapsulated “mindsets” has much to say about how they felt, and what they believed. So too is the average person’s philosophy when dealing with most topics that involve human emotion. We will find relevance in the arguments we subscribe to by relation of our influences, our logic, and our feelings. How that translates into how we live in the world will also be a challenge for us to undertake. A choice we must make either consciously or not. The dividends it yields in a life are contingent upon the philosophy that is exercised the most. Surely some things may not come to be in our expectation, but surely, some things just might be valued with proper perspectives and make life all that more enjoyable.
Why do I tend to relate to those Existentialist types?
Earlier in my life I found myself disconnected to the world via my account of my relation to family and my friends. I would often gravitate to the works of those who spoke in terms that I could relate to and found myself reading much about existentialism.
Sometimes I hear the words of Albert Camus whisper vehemently in my ears. His ideas about Absurdism and his philosophy I can often relate to, yet I find that I am somehow somewhere else in my thinking and being. The thoughts extended by my friend Mr. Camus does compel me to think on what he has said, but I feel he is missing something in his assessments.
Many writers have addressed the Absurd, each with his or her own interpretation of what the Absurd is and what comprises its importance. For example, Sartre recognizes the absurdity of individual experience, while Kierkegaard explains that the absurdity of certain religious truths prevent us from reaching God rationally. Camus regretted the continued reference to himself as a “philosopher of the absurd”. He showed less interest in the Absurd shortly after publishing Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus). To distinguish his ideas, scholars sometimes refer to the Paradox of the Absurd, when referring to “Camus’s Absurd”.
His early thoughts appeared in his first collection of essays, L’Envers et l’endroit (Betwixt and Between) in 1937. Absurd themes were expressed with more sophistication in his second collection of essays, Noces (Nuptials), in 1938. In these essays Camus reflects on the experience of the Absurd. In 1942 he published the story of a man living an absurd life as L’Étranger (The Stranger). In the same year he released Le Mythe de Sisyphe (The Myth of Sisyphus), a literary essay on the Absurd.
The turning point in Camus’s attitude to the Absurd occurs in a collection of four letters to an anonymous German friend, written between July 1943 and July 1944. The first was published in the Revue Libre in 1943, the second in the Cahiers de Libération in 1944, and the third in the newspaper Libertés, in 1945. The four letters were published as Lettres à un ami allemand (Letters to a German Friend) in 1945, and were included in the collection Resistance, Rebellion, and Death.
Camus presents the reader with dualisms such as happiness and sadness, dark and light, life and death, etc. He emphasizes the fact that happiness is fleeting and that the human condition is one of mortality; for Camus, this is cause for a greater appreciation for life and happiness. In Le Mythe, dualism becomes a paradox: we value our own lives in spite of our mortality and in spite of the universe’s silence.
– “The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human call and the unreasonable silence of the world”
While we can live with a dualism (I can accept periods of unhappiness, because I know I will also experience happiness to come), we cannot live with the paradox (I think my life is of great importance, but I also think it is meaningless). In Le Mythe, Camus investigates our experience of the Absurd and asks how we live with it. Our life must have meaning for us to value it. If we accept that life has no meaning and therefore no value, should we kill ourselves? In Le Mythe, Camus suggests that ‘creation of meaning’, would entail a logical leap or a kind of philosophical suicide in order to find psychological comfort. But Camus wants to know if he can live with what logic and lucidity has uncovered – if one can build a foundation on what one knows and nothing more. Creation of meaning is not a viable alternative but a logical leap and an evasion of the problem. He gives examples of how others would seem to make this kind of leap. The alternative option, namely suicide, would entail another kind of leap, where one attempts to kill absurdity by destroying one of its terms (the human being). Camus points out, however, that there is no more meaning in death than there is in life, and that it simply evades the problem yet again. Camus concludes that we must instead “entertain” both death and the absurd, while never agreeing to their terms.Meursault, the absurdist hero of L’Étranger, has killed a man and is scheduled to be executed. Camus made a significant contribution to a viewpoint of the Absurd, and always rejected nihilism as a valid response.
“If nothing had any meaning, you would be right. But there is something that still has a meaning.” Second Letter to a German Friend, December 1943.
Camus’s understanding of the Absurd promotes public debate; his various offerings entice us to think about the Absurd and offer our own contribution. Concepts such as cooperation, joint effort and solidarity are of key importance to Camus, though they are most likely sources of ‘relative’ versus ‘absolute’ meaning. In The Rebel, Camus identifies rebellion (or rather, the values indicated by rebellion) as a basis for human solidarity.
“When he rebels, a man identifies himself with other men and so surpasses himself, and from this point of view human solidarity is metaphysical. But for the moment we are only talking of the kind of solidarity that is born in chains.” __The Myth of Sisyphus
Despite his opposition to the label, Camus addressed one of the fundamental questions of existentialism: the problem of suicide. He wrote, “There is only one really serious philosophical question, and that is suicide. Deciding whether or not life is worth living is to answer the fundamental question in philosophy. All other questions follow from that” Camus viewed the question of suicide as arising naturally as a solution to the absurdity of life. In The Myth of Sisyphus, Camus seeks to identify the kinds of life that could be worth living despite their inherent meaninglessness.
If “absurdity” is the human failure to find meaning, and our existence is one that we create, than where do we look to find these answers? What is the natural antithesis of this argument?
• Existentialism says the existence of the person is above and before everything else, and the concept of existence before essence is of central importance in existentialism.
• Personal meaning of the world is at the core of existentialism whereas in absurdism, realizing personal meaning of the world is not that important.
Let us first start by looking to each other. To what depth can we reach another if we are alone in the world? If we believe the existentialist philosophers saying that existence precedes essence, than to what avail do we fathom the distance between two people?
In my experience I can say I have seen the depths of my despair and I do not wish for anyone to experience life with this disconnection. But with each fall, the mind can still reach for answers that may take us to tumble before we see anything that makes sense to us.
I think that the greatest human achievement lies not in our philosophical discourse but is in our capacity to love. When the concept of love is realized, than all other doctrines seem to evaporate before our eyes. From what I’ve read about the distinguished philosophers who struggle to find meaning in the world, they seem closed to the idea of the transformational qualities of love. If you can put aside the psychological and philosophical issues we often invent, our experience of the world is greatly shaped by the unifying connections to one another.
The fulfillment of how we treat each other is the primary concern we ought to establish without any debate over other human pursuits in the material world or the philosophical realm of our minds. Tend to the purpose of giving love and the rest of our subjective problems will often vanish before our eyes.
The greatest human tragedy must lie within our failure to love. Quite simply if we are able to give ourselves in an authentic loving way to the universe than our lives will exponentially benefit from the elation of our toils.
The argument made here is that the absurdity found in Camus can equally be found in the failure of human beings to co-exist in a loving biosphere. Our failure to exercise our choices to conduct ourselves in ways that will diminish any angst created by our minds detachment from others. A central thought we find in existentialism is a detachment that views the world as external and devoid of our being connected to it.
“Man is condemned to be free; because once thrown into the world, he is responsible for everything he does.
It is up to you to give [life] a meaning.”
“Thrown into the world”…. is a presumptuous statement by JP Sartre. I understand exactly what he means, yet I have considered that we are human and therefore must interact with the environment, thus we are an agency in the world whether we are “thrown” into it or not! My pragmatism will often counter the thinking of the existentialist when matters such as these present themselves.
I once viewed the world in such a way due to my relation to the world at that time, where my head was, and how my emotional balance presented itself to the world. I now see things within different harmonies of mind. A reasoning harmonic that includes many teachings that render choices we make in our lives. I choose to look towards a path that best seizes the opportunities I have once deserted.
If you look to those on their death beds, the top 10 regrets in life should give you a clue about how we should lead our lives. Why do we let triviality take precedence over our lives? I think after the wiser words of those whom have lived longer than we have is a place to look when we find our mortality is staring back at us in the mirror.