I want to make one thing absolutely clear. I am not a Zen Buddhist, I am not advocating Zen Buddhism, I am not trying to convert anyone to it. I have nothing to sell. I’m an entertainer. That is to say, in the same sense, that when you go to a concert and you listen to someone play Mozart, he has nothing to sell except the sound of the music. He doesn’t want to convert you to anything. He doesn’t want you to join an organization in favor of Mozart’s music as opposed to, say, Beethoven’s. And I approach you in the same spirit as a musician with his piano or a violinist with his violin. I just want you to enjoy a point of view that I enjoy.
Experience the world as a child! We freely except vibrations of color, sound, and motion, but as we grow, we are taught to judge what is good, and what is bad in our encounter with the world. We accept our concepts and forms of our language and confuse them from what is actually going on. We engage the world through our intellect, and become lost in the words and reasons we attribute to the world, without experiencing that what is as it is!
Our psychological abstractions that makes us human, also alienates us from our being in the world. We have forgotten to be in the moment and can lose ourselves if we do not attend to the here and the now. There is the now and zen, both which are mutually inclusive. To be in the here and now is to be in the zen of a moment. Attending only to the sensory stimuli of the world, but not calculating it, measuring it, or labeling it, but rather to experience it without distraction; that for what it is as it is without human interventions of language and thoughts!
A person who thinks all the time has nothing to think about except thoughts. So he loses touch with reality, and lives in a world of illusion.
Ego is a social institution with no physical reality. The ego is simply your symbol of yourself. Just as the word “water” is a noise that symbolizes a certain liquid without being it, so to the idea of ego symbolizes the role you play, who you are, but it is not the same as your living organism.
Allan Watts: Buddhism : The Religion of No-Religion
I am amazed that Congressmen can pass a bill imposing severe penalties on anyone who burns the American flag, whereas they are responsible for burning that for which the flag stands: the United States as a territory, as a people, and as a biological manifestation. That is an example of our perennial confusion of symbols with realities.
Allan Watts: Audio lecture “Individual and Society”
The dimension of being that disrupts our ability to experience that which is in the world, is often a very popular approach to how we come to “know” the world. The way we divide and label things, the scientific approach can tell us many things, but they often confuse our world and our being in it.
How much time and effort do you spend thinking that maybe you might be incorrect and wrong about what you know about life and your role in it? Are you fulfilled in the life you are leading, and does it beg the question why is there so much discontent? Is there something that you believe is fundamentally wrong with the world but you can’t put your finger on it, or is it an issue that you believe you can do nothing since you are only one person?
I surmise that reflective people would agree that if the sum total of events that create a person’s life are siphoned, managed, and processed through their conscious perceptions (additionally at times their unconscious perceptions), and furthermore their intuitions, and ideas also share this evaluation, then these impressions could be ultimately channeled through the logic of their belief systems, about themselves and the world, thus deriving a world view inclusive of their persona’s ego. This world-view would include the known thoughts and feelings of others that we listen to, and those who influence us and our thinking. The phenomena of experience can indeed shape us over time and is a major reason for our questioning the meaning in our lives and the meaning of a life that we create. The sources of information we trust are only as effective as we allow them when they align with our thoughts, feelings and beliefs.
In the course of a person’s life, challenges to their ideas, beliefs, and feelings from others may result in a re-evaluation of their assessment of themselves. Life can be a challenge for many reasons, and even more so for those in the scrutiny of others depending on their place in the civic world.
One starts to question the foundation of their belief system when it is challenged by people who face you with a different view. People you know, people in your family or professional life that will often comment on their observations of your status in some way. Even more disturbing is when the unexpected counter-message that differs from your own beliefs is brought to you over a period of time and it seems to still be a surprise to you. For obvious reasons delusion, denial, and deceit among many other possibilities will disrupt a person if they are not ready for that contingency. This includes that an awareness of all perceptions of the events are known, or that each side of the experience is contemplated.
Other reasons for reaching this plane of thought is when the chronological and emotional maturity levels of an individual strikes us and makes us do things that try to remind us of a younger self, or alternatively tries to fill a void in the angst we are experiencing in some other way of acting out as a result from these feelings. A balancing maneuver to equalize the disturbance perhaps. The mid-life crisis as shown takes on many avenues in fruition. Other reasons for asking these philosophical questions earlier than in the mid-life cycle of an adult is that one may experience something that disrupts their world view, weather or not it is conscious or something that compels them from a subconscious directive. Something that makes them ponder more than what they now experience and suggests that they need something else to replace or supplement their condition as they see it. Maybe some experience that crushed their world view in some way, or someone who challenged them to be more than what they have become could be the impetus that makes them take some form of action to correct this discovery. The death of a close one, or family member, or some other catastrophic event that made them approach their lives from an entirely different perspective. For me many questions arose at a very early age when I began to search for a better possible life because of the family chaos that evoked trauma and suffering as I was growing up.
The awakening at an early part of my life was when I was exposed to the work of W. Somerset Maugham‘s 1944 novel which was then turned into the 1946 film The Razor’s Edge. The remake in 1984 would emerge and would lead me to the earlier works which I can say changed me from that day forward.
It was the first time that I identified with the main character Larry Durrell, finding an affinity that matched my own yearning passion. Weather the character is based on a real person or if it is purely a fictional character, the answer may never be truly be known for sure. (see the wanderling for further clarification).
“The man I am writing about is not famous. It may be that he never will be. It may be that when his life at last comes to an end he will leave no more trace of his sojourn on earth than a stone thrown into a river leaves on the surface of the water. But it may be that the way of life that he has chosen for himself and the peculiar strength and sweetness of his character may have an ever-growing influence over his fellow men so that, long after his death perhaps, it may be realized that there lived in this age a very remarkable creature.”
-W. Somerset Maugham, THE RAZOR’S EDGE-
The learning of such a character was only an outlet in my realization that others too searched for answers they did not quite understand. Seeing this on film, and then reading the book made me more aware than ever before just how I was not alone in this mad quest for wanting more out of life. The stigma of not being able to fit in with others at times was largely due to my nature, my continual quest for answers as I watched others my age act to impress their peers, or act to attract attention from others. They acted in ways that led me to question why does this ego thing always interfere with our dealings in the world. The sociology in youth is a very powerful force upon the group if the mind is still not ready for the austerity of the undeveloped mind.
I do not claim that I have any benefit from this vantage point at this time simply because I realized I knew nothing and used my observation skills to learn what others had demonstrated to me. It was out of these times that I wandered and floated through my existence knowing that there was something more powerful for me to connect with, than just what some of my peers were exposing me to. I also learned that it is essential to take risks, to meet life head on, and not to be an armchair observer. One must take part, socialize and navigate the social realm, or they would quite possibly lose out on many lessons to be learned, and in extreme cases resort to becoming a recluse. I remember the term we used in relationships between men and women of my age during our adolescence. If we were stricken to being immature or had over-exacerbated ego’s, than we would treat each other in ways that would result in our identifying this treatment as playing “Games.”
The basic reason for game playing in relationships is to acquire something desired. Wanting an emotional or a tangible reward presents a reason to use covert tactics. Some games have become such a part of the personality that the gamer hardly realizes he or she is involved in a game of psychological cat and mouse. Most of these tactics seem to be ego related and combined with a lack of social skill it can make a risky combo. Even to this day I see adults continuing to “play” off of each other in many different types of relationships. What is sad is that many still do not know why they resort to such efforts, since it is all they know, or that they have not yet learned better methods for acquiring the desired object. The thought of rejection, or to protect the fragile ego may be a reason for such tactics, but the risk involved does have a price.
So again I ask, what moves you? What is there in life that eludes you and makes you want something more from it that you are not receiving? For as many people who ask these questions, there are also as many answers that will continue to evade some, and touch others. To be human is to answer and ask! To be human is to succeed and fail. To be human is to seek and succumb. The choice you make is the life you give the presence to. The meaning you assign is the reality you live. Which life will you choose?