In 2022AD there are so many important survival issues requiring active & individual efforts to resolve them[mfn]PETs current operational areas: To encourage social development and environmental protection and improvement, and wellbeing in the whole Findhorn Ecovillage Community. See https://parkecovillagetrust.co.uk/home-portfolio/about/[/mfn] that it can be quite daunting — if not downright paralysing! We’ve only limited time, energy and funds to spend on only a very small number of these issues. Life really is about scarcity and limits, it seems. Compared to other life forms, we humans seem to have to juggle absolutely everything: decide our own life-value-criteria; see both the important positive and negative issues; evaluate them; choose between them; manifest our choices; and then learn fast from the results; and without having all pertinent facts at our disposal… Heck, we’re even invited to “ne regretter rien”! For me reality can really suck, what with all the reality-info-spin going on, and our constantly reaching bodily, emotional and cognitive limitations… We’ve all asked ourselves ‘Is that really all life is about?’

This month, I read a blog that reminded me to “lighten up dude!” It fits in with a valuable meditation theme: the nature of our individual realities. The answer is neither simple nor horizontal — either “fight or flight” — but rather, complicated and vertical — ie. “transcend”.

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One major hurdle that we really shouldn’t try to circumvent — because it is the real starting point of the search for knowledge — is how far we dare go in answering:

Who am I? Nān Yār?

Ramana Maharishi recommended self-enquiry as the principal means to minimising unhappiness ie. by removing ignorance and so abiding in self-awareness, together with bhakti (devotion) or surrender to the Self. According to him the ‘I-thought’ is the sense of individuality: (Aham, aham) ‘I-I‘ is the Self; (Aham idam) “I am this” or “I am that” is the ego. And ego is only a small part of ‘I-I’, which itself is but a small part of something else — an hierarchy of identity.[mfn]The enquiry process goes so: by paying attention to the ‘I’-thought, inquiring where it comes from, the ‘I’-thought will disappear and the “shining forth” of “I-I” or Self-awareness will appear. This results in an “effortless awareness of being”, and by staying with it this “I-I” gradually destroys the vasanas (behavioural tendencies or karmic imprints which influence the present behaviour of a person) “which cause the ‘I’-thought to rise”. When the vasanas disappear, the mind also comes to rest, since mind centers around the ‘I’-thought, and finally the ‘I’-thought never rises again, which is Self-realization or liberation: “If one remains still without leaving it, even the sphurana – having completely annihilated the sense of the individuality, the form of the ego, ‘I am the body’ – will itself in the end subside, just like the flame that catches the camphor. This alone is said to be liberation by great ones and scriptures. (The Mountain Path, 1982, p. 98).[/mfn] Body & Mind: the gap between ego and awareness of Self…

Thus, consciously chosen non-identification with subordinate parts is itself a strong argument for practising holism[mfn]in PHILOSOPHY~ the theory that parts of a whole are in intimate interconnection, such that they cannot exist independently of the whole, or cannot be understood without reference to the whole, which is thus regarded as greater than the sum of its parts. Holism is often applied to mental states, language, and ecology.  in MEDICINE~ the treating of the whole person, taking into account mental and social factors, rather than just the symptoms of a disease.[/mfn] in our individual, practical lives, and against simply accepting the downward direction of the scientific method of reductionism.[mfn]This is the practice of analysing and describing a complex phenomenon in terms of its simple or fundamental constituents, especially when this is said to provide a sufficient explanation. The opposite of reductionism is ‘holism’.[/mfn] The holistic approach is traced back to a statement made by Aristotle in his ‘Metaphysics’: ‘The whole is more than the sum of its parts.” Furthermore in combination with thinking laterally, holism could improve other important areas of our life too. For example in

    • True Cost accounting.
    • Education — in “Why politicians are all against real education”, Roger Scruton argued that universities were destroying education by trying to “make it relevant”: Replace pure by applied mathematics, logic by computer programming, architecture by engineering, history by sociology. The result will be a new generation of well-informed philistines, whose charmlessness will undo every advantage which their learning might otherwise have conferred.[mfn](4 January 1983) “Why politicians are all against real education”. The Times. issue 61421, 10; Scruton & Dooley 2016, 50–51.[/mfn]
    • Job&Role design: as David Spangler has written about specialisation:  A monoculture is a vulnerable ecology, one lacking resilience or a capacity to change as the world changes. It requires more energy to sustain because life moves towards diversity, not uniformity.  Clearly, striving to attain the highest (rather than the lowest) common denominator in our activities is not counter-intuitive to the Self… Diversity is (relatively) worthless without reference to a higher, unifying level.[mfn]As shown by the slim success of Human Rights and social legislation in actually banning US slavery since their Civil War, and in ensuring Gender Equality and Diversity&Inclusion in our day![/mfn]

Is “love all you need”?

Can you Love&have earthly success? As the masterful expositor T.H. White pens in his “Once and Future King:”

  • We, who have learned to base our interpretation of love on the conventional boy-and-girl romance of Romeo and Juliet, would be amazed if we could step back into the Middle Ages—when the poet of chivalry could write about Man that he had “en ciel un dieu, par terre une déesse.” Lovers were not recruited then among the juveniles and adolescents: they were seasoned people, who knew what they were about. In those days people loved each other for their lives, without the conveniences of the divorce court and the psychiatrist. They had a God in heaven and a goddess on earth—and, since people who devote themselves to goddesses must exercise some caution about the ones to whom they are devoted, they neither chose them by the passing standards of the flesh alone, nor abandoned it lightly when the bruckle thing began to fail.
  • Now, safe in the apple-green sunset before them, there stretched the fabled Merry England of the Middle Ages, when they were not so dark. Lancelot and Guenever were gazing on the Age of Individuals. …. It was the age of fullness, the age of wading into everything up to the neck. …. Do you think that they, with their Battles, Famine, Black Death and Serfdom, were less enlightened than we are, with our Wars, Blockade, Influenza and Conscription?[mfn]It’s surprisingly easy to update the list from White’s late 1930s… piu’ le cose cambiano, piu’ rimangono le stesse…[/mfn] Even if they were foolish enough to believe that the earth was the centre of the universe, do we not ourselves believe that man is the fine flower of creation? If it takes a million years for a fish to become a reptile, has Man, in our few hundred, altered out of recognition?

Love is much more: Marcus Buckingham argues that love and eg. work can — and should — go hand in hand:  When you’re in love with another human, it makes you feel safe, it makes you feel inquisitive, and it makes you feel uplifted. It’s the same cocktail when you’re doing something that you love. So don’t just love something that temporarily does something “good” for you&yours; it’s much “better” if all parties win by our choices; and the “best” choices are those which deliver expansive, good for more than one party, eternal/long-term advantages: functional, adaptable and sustainable ones.  Life is not an easy matter… You cannot live through it without falling into frustration and cynicism unless you have before you a great idea which raises you above personal misery, above weakness, above all kinds of perfidy and baseness wrote the Mensch-evik Leon Trotsky…

Perhaps it’s rational to partition our life motivations into two periods: “seeking a personal advantage” until we’re more financially secure, and only then adding “love &c.” into the equation? However Universal Wisdom suggests that “success” rather requires individuals to trust in Love — if not our definition of “God” — and trust in our being true to the Self in thoughts, words and deeds vis-à-vis others. Only so can we truly be wealthy (at peace with our Higher Self, whatever be our financial status).[mfn]”Small-s” self development is a personal choice that requires ego-evaluation, -discomfort and ultimately -minimalisation. It is our most difficult life-task for which we need others’ support, and “we must have at least some slight acquaintance with certain facts concerning the world in which we live–a world less than half of which we see or understand. Indeed, undignified as the statement sounds, it is quite true that our position resembles very closely that of a caterpillar feeding upon a leaf, whose vision and perception extend but very little beyond the leaf upon which he crawls. How difficult it would be for such a caterpillar to transcend his limitations, to take a wider view, to understand that his leaf is part of a huge tree with millions of such leaves, a tree with a life of its own–a life outlasting a thousand generations of lives such as his; and that tree in turn only a unit in a vast forest of dimensions incalculable to his tiny brain! And if by some unusual development one caterpillar did catch a glimpse of the great world around him and tried to explain his vision to his fellows, how those other caterpillars would disbelieve and ridicule him, how they would adjure him to waste no time on such unprofitable imaginings, but to realize that the one purpose of life is to find a good position on a succulent calf, and to assimilate as much of it as he can !  When later on he becomes a butterfly, his view widens, and he comes into touch with a beauty, a glory and a poetry in life of which he had no conception before. It is the same world, and yet so different, merely because he can see more of it, and move about in it in a new way. Every caterpillar is a potential butterfly; and we have the advantage over these creatures in that we can anticipate the butterfly stage, and so learn much more about our world, come much nearer to the truth, enjoy life much more, and do much more good. We should study the hidden side of everyday life, for in that way we shall get so much more out of it. The same truth applies to higher things–to [religion spirituality (Ed.)], for example. [Religion Spirituality (Ed.)] has always spoken to mankind of unseen things above–not only far away in the future, but close around us here and now. Our life and what we can make of it largely depend upon how real these unseen things are to us. Whatever we do, we should think always of the unseen consequences of our action.” — Charles Webster Leadbetter (writing about Freemasonry).[/mfn]

Meditate alone

The theologian Fr. Réginald Garrigou-Lagrange, in his work “The Three Ages,” noted that despite our many attempts to stay busy, to preoccupy ourselves with external conversations and distractions of all sorts, we all carry on within ourselves a heavy conversation. We just need to choose to keep our personal receiver tuned.  As soon as a man ceases to be outwardly occupied, to talk with his fellow men, as soon as he is alone, even in the noisy streets of a great city, he begins to carry on a conversation with himself . . . In a man’s hours of solitude, this intimate conversation begins again in spite of everything, as if to prove to him that it cannot stop. The center of the soul has an irresistible need which demands satisfaction. In reality, God alone can answer this need. . . . The soul must converse with someone other than itself. Why? Because it is not its own last end; because its end is the living God, and it cannot rest entirely except in Him.

The secret