A Familiar Discomfort

The mind can be a prison of sorts. In some way, we are trapped. Our flesh contains us: our bones the bars, and our body the cell.

What do we do with the time that we are given? After all, how could you explain life without time? How can we desire to halt motion, for without motion, we are dead – existence is rooted in time.

And the importance of roots can never be stressed enough. We want good roots. Because we know we will need them to be sturdy in nature’s harsh winds.

We never face losing it all more than when we doubt the integrity of your roots. When you doubt the very thing that is holding you up, you begin to fear, with a swelling intensity, that you might fall. It’s impossible to be certain of anything without the confirmation of the persistent, function, soothing sound of your roots.

What sound you ask. . . the sound of life: the ebb and the flow; the expansion and the contraction; the on and the off.

Yet, more often than not we spend our lives flickering, never holding a light. Flickering light is better than no light at all, but it is far inferior than true light. For flickering lights still allow the way for darkness, but, when something is truly seen, one cannot fear.

When light shows somethings’s true colors, it cannot be unseen. For there are those that experience color and then there are those that experience art.

God and Order

Our world is ruled by disorder. Ask a physicist why time is perceived as flowing in a direction and they will say it is due to entropy, which merely is a scientific way of saying disorder.

The universe is increasing in disorder (entropy), thus time appears to flow in the direction of past to future. In the past, there was less entropy and, therefore, more order. In the future, there is an increasing amount of disorder.

Take this from a cognitive perspective for a second. Your past is comprised of events that happened. They feel more concrete and solidly grounded in existence, because we know (or believe ourselves to know) that these certain events did in fact occur. Now, go the opposite direction and think towards the future. The future is ruled by probability. Thinking of the future from the present is like running probability simulations of what is likely, or possible, to happen in our lives.

The real question becomes: Why was there order to begin with?

In the opening lines of the Bible, it gives rise to the notion that, before there was light, there was a great void, formless and dark. In this primordial state, we find a state of complete individualization — even all the particles are in isolation, as to have yet formed a connective bond to one another.

It is this initial bond that fulfills the verse of “‘Let there be Light'” (Genesis 1:3).

A non-Biblical analogy is the science of your brain. Think to that first neural connection forming in a burst of energy. This initial burst of life cannot be understood, nor meaningfully explained. And, even if we somehow could meaningfully describe life itself, it would encapsulate all the words that have ever used to describe life. It would be all that ever was. Regardless of the mechanism of how, the result was that your brain formed neural connections and has continued to do so throughout your life forming neural networks.

 

Questioning The Known

What is the direct outcome of a war? After the smoke has cleared and the seize is over. The goal has turned from destroying to reconstructing, with what are you left? A conqueror and a conquered. One is clearly superior to the other in some form or another, either by better skill, training, numbers, resources, or natural favor, there was a discrepancy in a quantifiable fashion in order to determine one loser and one winner. There was something that broke the stalemate in which a victor protruded.

All of worldly existence is held together because opposing forces in equilibrium. But what holds these forces in equilibrium? Tension. When in equilibrium, the tension is equal; but, when it is broken, such as the case of the aftermath of a war, the tension is unequally distributed.

But, where is the tension being skewed; where is this new unequal tension being held? In the minds, hearts and spirts of humans. Therefore, it was being held in psychic space. Psychic space is different than physical space in that it does not, to the best of our knowledge, consist of physical space; that is, in the means that it can be measured and said to be in ‘this’ place or ‘that’ one. Physical space is left to the quantifiable, the observable, and the seen (aside from dark energy, and dark matter that are, at the least, accounted for through negative derivation).

Many pathologies arise from the fact that due to the unobservable nature of the psychic realm it is somehow less real than the physical. This distortion is being further augmented as we continue to place more faith in material science (including neuroscience) because it implicitly is discrediting the invisible, and intangible and somehow imaginative. However, the truth is the psychic frontier is one we know quite little about and are therefore afraid to be faced by our own intellectual inferiority in the face of a virtually untapped knowledge domain.

The Paradox of Existence

We are always being torn in two. We live within the tension between opposing forces. Life involves both the processes of living and dying happening simultaneously: Some live to die, and others die to live.

We live a paradox and we are one. We both desperately want to be free but are paralyzed by the true totality of what freedom means. We want to find love but find it terrifying once we are actually truly in love with someone whose well-being directly dictates our own. We seek truth at all cost, except when the truth is far more unbearable than the majesty of our fantasies.

We live this way because existence comes with the knowledge of knowing that we may someday not exist (or, at least, exist in an entirely different form). In the forefront of our minds, we live; but, in the background, we know that we may cease to exist someday. To some this may scare, while others don’t care; but, nonetheless, the thought is ever presently there.

Session: 3

I vacillate between apathy and emotion like the seasons flux from winter to summer. When I feel, I feel. And, when I don’t, I don’t. Neither is truly painful or inherently distressing. The times of apathy simple give my emotions a context.

When you’re feeling apathetic, you see the world for what it truly is. You don’t sugar-coat the facts of the world to make existence easier. You see things from uncaring and impassive eyes that don’t even care enough to want to distort reality into your own liking. Apathy transcends like and dislike and leaves you in a place of isness. This is a place stripped away from labels and judgments of liking, loving, hating, wanting, craving none of these aspects play a role; their values are set at zero. Instead, you just observe the characteristics of whatever it is you are gazing upon or thinking about. You do so in a neutral manner because everything in life is devoid of feeling when truly consumed by apathy.

I do not know if I believe that apathy consumes you in the same way a fire would. It’s more that the apathy is always their and in the cold winter seasons of emotion numbness, it isn’t the apathy that takes over, but the disillusioned self and worldview that leaves.

Session: 1

I can think of all sorts of scenarios: good ones, bad ones, those that are different – but none of them have ever truly manifested. The imaginative plane never comes out exactly on the experiential plane. This discrepancy is what makes life interesting. No matter how well we can predict what will happen. The true depth of the actual sensory-perceived experience will never be the exact same as the mental construction.

We run these simulations all the time in our heads, playing out scenarios while implementing the most up to date knowledge and use of your current mental software to analyze and judge a scenario based on some specific criterion.

A Man’s Role in Social Change

Tony Porter references “the man box” as a list of assumed characteristics of a man that are imposed upon men through socialization. He talks throughout the video about this stereotype of men that they cannot show weakness because this shows vulnerability, and this leaves the individual’s identity susceptible to attack. Therefore, the remedy provided by this stereotype is to stuff down emotions repress them, and the repression of emotion is a prized characteristic among men; it illustrates what means to be a ‘man’ because it is supposed to illustrate strength. However, I believe it does quite the opposite.

Suppressing emotion does not show strength, it shows cowardice. The acceptance of emotions and walking out into the uncharted waters of vulnerability show courage and bravery. Real strength lies in the ability to be comfortable and secure, while simultaneously being vulnerable. I believe we should be fostering the traits of resiliency, sensitivity, hardiness and adaptive self-regulation in both men and women. However, the dominant narrative self-perpetuates through culture.

My mom was the strongest caregiver of my life and my most influential role model. She encouraged the idea that there are times to be tough and there are times to sensitive. But toughness was not strength and sensitivity was not weakness. Instead, she prized perseverance as strength. It was not about never having problems or being invincible to struggles; it was about addressing them and handling them properly. It was not about not having fear; it was about handling fear with courage.

However, I still have to work to overcome what feels like a built in script of this “man box.” It serves as a point of reference – a template for ‘manliness.’ A template that I believe has largely been impressed upon me through a combination of cultural influence and socialization. I think much of this idea of “manhood” is transmitted unconsciously and, therefore, only resolved through awareness. However, awareness alone is not enough to uproot erroneous world views. It also requires action. Tony Porter’s uses his horrific anecdote to demonstrate how all men take part in this “collective socialization” which allows for violence against women. Therefore, it is the impetus of all men to change this social paradigm.

Reference: https://www.ted.com/talks/tony_porter_a_call_to_men