Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Breaking the Impasse: The Essence

The Essence of truth is not in the logic or reason, but in the imagination and creativity, and therefore, can be partially explained in two statements: First, anything that one can imagine has some level of truth, and therefore, any statement that can be made and understood, no matter how weird and absurd, has some degree of truth. Second, no statement can capture the whole truth, completely and purely, because if it does, then it does not leave any room for imagination and creativity, because then the logical/rational mind can grab that statement and force it on other parts of the mind, or rather, because then one group if the society will be absolutely right and others will be absolutely wrong.

Therefore, truth of language is always partial.

That is why both competition/challenges and cooperation/security/safety are critical elements of truth. The base of creativity and imagination is rooted in the sense of security and safety, and it is cultivated by forces of competition and life's challenges.

That is why, no matter how hard I try to explain my point of view, they are always incomplete and have holes and gaps in them. There must be room for individual imagination and creativity. 

Breaking the Impasse: The Nature of Impasse

It is very difficult to articulate the nature of the ``impasse'' except to offer symptoms and anecdotal examples. In our personal lives, we feel it as a general sense of emptiness and lack of meaning and purpose, widespread depression and anxiety, and pervasiveness of addictions and different method of numbing oneself. I think these are all signs of a deepening dissociation within us, between different areas of our psyche (our logic/reason, our emotions, and deeper layers of psyche).

In our society, we observe the dissociation between areas of science and technology, arts, and religion. Science and technology is the area that is presumably governed by logic and reason. Arts are considered to be the arena of our emotional life. Religions deal with deeper layers of our psyche, furthest from logic and reason. In between, we have our political and economic systems that are ruled by a mixture of logic, emotions, and deeper motives.

I personally find the impasse strongest in the emptiness of words, of people talking about things without believing any words from what they say, or even worse, people believing that they mean what they say when they actually don't. It is not dishonesty in my opinion. It is a matter of deep fears slicing our internal and external lives into disjoint and meaningless islands.

We have become so reliant on our conscious minds and its main apparatus, language, that the situation feels completely hopeless. I believe, however, that there are some ways of breaking through this impasse and my previous post [Breaking the Impasse: Basics] was an initial attempt to outline two main ways that have been naturally developed throughout history.

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Breaking the Impasse: Basics

I think human race has reached an impasse that will grow more evident in the twenty first century (if it survives it) and that is related to the dominance of the conscious mind and words on all important aspects of our lives, or rather, the lack of balance between the conscious mind and other parts of the mind and body. The imbalance/dominance is so pervasive that we do not even realize it anymore. It has made, first and foremost, many aspects of our lives, and specially our words, empty.

There are two partial remedies that have developed through hundreds, if not thousands, of years: competition and security. I will try to explain the two here, but my explanations are subject to the same caveat that I have outlined in the first paragraph, more or less, because the nature of this impasse has eroded all our explicit communications of true meaning and essence!

Competition: It is painful to listen to both liberals and conservatives. Each group suffers from its own fears and prejudices. However, the competition between the two groups, or rather their opposition and constant challenging each other, creates a balance and sometimes astonishing results. In order to take action, we need to leave the state of balance and go in one direction. The good news is that there are always people on the other side of the argument and they counter our efforts. What is important to keep in mind is a sense of humility about our own positions. We do not have a monopoly on truth. In fact, truth is not even a well-defined objective entity. The truth is the outcome of challenge and competition, hopefully but not necessarily.

Security: In order to survive life's challenges, we need to have our own safe zones, relatively free of competition and challenges. As children, our parents and home is the basic element of the security that we can develop and carry through our life. The most important thing we can do in our life is to share this secure zone with others, typically those who are close to us. I am specifically thinking that, for example, we all have some activities that make us calm and centered. This activities are -not- challenge free, but we have grown expert in them to the extent that we can keep our balance while facing tough challenges. Like a good cook that can deal with making a few complicated dishes at the same time. What is most rewarding is to let others be present with us during our (centering) activity with its challenges and grow in that presence. We can share that sense of security/serenity without words and through mere presence. This is best exemplified in the stories of mystic/Zen masters.

The idea has been brewing for a while but was forced into labor by this video:

Jonathan Haidt on Coddling U. vs. Strengthening U.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Of Fathers and Sons

My parents arrived here two weeks ago. I was looking forward to their visit after 15 years, and in spite of my expectations, or maybe because of my expectations, the past couple of weeks have turned out to be the most difficult time of my life. A number of times, I became so frustrated that I cried and sobbed alone. This is me, a 45 years old male, frustrated with my 75 years old parents. Clearly, I love them a lot, otherwise I would not care much for them and be hurt so much.

In the past few years, I have become increasing aware of parts of me that were hurt and damaged in my childhood and adolescence. One major thing that I missed then, and apparently still missing now, is spending time with my parents, specially with my father. In the past few month, I imagined that I would use the time of their visit to spend more time with them and engage in some fun activities specially with my father. I remembered some vague memories of my father working on different projects, with calm and focus, and always wondered why I had not been more engaged with him. Deep down, I thought (although, this is not `thinking', but more like `operating' from a certain place) that I had a problem, was lazy, or did not try hard enough. I also imagined that if I had a child, I would love to share with him/her some of the activities that I enjoy.

The first time I tried to do something with my father in the backyard, a few days after their arrival, he completely ignored me and kept working as if I did not exist. I tried to talk to him that same night and  tell him, indirectly, that I really want to spend time with him. (Why indirectly? Because I have not had the courage to talk directly about my need.) The next day, same thing happened. I felt crushed and confused. I re-lived memories of my childhood (of being excluded and alone) and in a strange way, all the hurt and suffering of that time came back to me, not as visual memories, but as pure pain.

I realize how childish the whole thing sounds. But this is exactly the nature of the wounds and sufferings that we carry from our childhood. They look childish and stupid from outside. But from inside, they hurt like hell and they can easily push us toward depression and/or anxiety.

After a few occurrences of this pattern of behavior, I decided to let go of the idea that this trip is an "opportunity" for me to make up for the lost time of my childhood. That reduced the pressure considerably, and let me evaluate the situation better. It seems to me that my father is very competitive and his work ethics/habits are not compatible with me. He is even competing with himself when he works alone, and if I am present, he cannot help competing against me too! I like to do things differently, let's say in a leisurely fashion, with calm and focus. The truth is that we probably cannot work together anyway. I may just have to let go of the fantasy of working with my dad altogether and simply enjoy their stay as much as I can.

Another frustrating point is that I realize that Sima's work habits is very close to my father. They actually enjoy working on projects. Although, to be honest, they do -NOT- work together, because they are both super competitive and they prefer to work alone. Neither of them does understand my Zen approach to doing things, lol.

Anyway, I am still analyzing this, and I am still bothered a lot by the whole thing. I just hope that I can enjoy part of my time with my parents somehow.

PS. In a very strange way that I cannot fully explain, this post is closely related to the previous post, [Parting of the Ways]. The symbolism of "God" is closely related to the relationship between father and son (as in holy trinity, for example). "Parting of the ways with God", therefore, can be a premonition of the difficulties that I was going to encounter in my relationship with my father. It is as if I am forced to confront the differences between myself and my father, in the harshest way possible, and hence, to accept my own identity as separate from my parents and specially my father. In this way, we are parting ways, saying goodbye, to each other.

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Parting of the Ways

I had this strange image the other night that God and I have had a parting of the ways and have come to the point of separation in our journeys, which does not make sense because, first, I am not sure that I fully believe in an "external" God, and second, the "internal" God that I find quite plausible is an omnipresent unknowable entity within me: how could we separate our ways?!?

There are a number of issues surrounding this image that I am not sure I want to write here.

So, here we go .... 

IT'S NOT ...

.. ``It's not your spread, and it's not how strong you are, and it's not how fast you are, because you have all those thing...