Philosophy TuesdayDecember 22, 2015
Continuing from last week…
When it comes to who we are being and acting in the world, and the ability to affect and impact and choose our being, much like riding a bike it is largely hidden from our consciousness.* Knowing, and understanding, makes little difference.
Even more crazily, sometimes we’re not even aware of the impact in our lives (and the lives around us) of those ways of being and acting.
Outside of the moment, over a cup of tea with a friend, we can explain things so well, and in such detail, can’t we? We know why we are the way we are, why we repeat those things we’d rather not do, why we can’t be that other way, and we often even know who to blame for it all.
Outside of the moment, we can also plot going forward who we want to be, what we’re going to do (or, more often, not do) when we next do that thing or see that person or encounter that situation. We strive and plot to be more free.
IN the moment, however, that very moment of that thing is right here right now, before we even get a chance to realize it, we fall back on those familiar patterns, fall back on those things we know ourselves to be. In those moments we are, well, ’ourselves’. Just like the backwards bike, all that explanation of why we are ‘ourselves’, and all that working forward of how we will now steer instead of the usual ‘ourselves’ is all for not. We pitch over and fall.
Just like that bicycle, as Destin showed us, there has to be another level going on here, a level beyond understanding or reasoning that’s into the realm of getting, or groking, something that makes us who we are, in those moments. Something inaccessible with our “usual” ways of figuring things out or talking about it or understanding it or making a plan or strategy or etc. Just as knowing our history of how we learned to ride a bike makes little difference on our ability to actually ride it, and just as understanding the physics and mechanics and the body and etc also makes little difference.
It has never made much difference in those areas of life so important to us, those questions about how do I live the best life I can live, how can I communicate better, how can I truly forgive, how can I be more generous, loving, open, free, alive, excited, self-expressed, creative, productive, how can I have peace of mind no matter the circumstance, how can I do right to others, how can I be the best authentic expression of me I can be?
We have all changed and transformed during our lives, so it’s clearly possible.
Sometimes, even knowing that knowing makes no difference, I still (amusingly) get caught up in the trap of explaining and figuring out and trying to understand. And, no surprise, it still doesn’t work. But when I’m in the mode of discovery**, of being mindful, of exploring philosophy, practicing rigorous ontological inquiry… when I let go of the knowing I can suddenly grok what’s there and transform that area of life for me. Things open up.
IN the moment, the next time, I can choose.
I can ride the different bike and have it go the other way.***
I, we, gain access to being who we want to be.
* This is similar to where some neuroscientists are starting to question whether we have free will or not, for the parts of the brain for a decision light up before we consciously make that choice. If that’s so, do we really have freedom? Yes/no… mindfulness can give us choice possibility even if the brain bits get activated first, and transformation of an area rejiggers things so that differing, and even multitudes, parts of the brain can light up in those situations, the parts that more directly correspond with the options we’d like to have.
** This is really being willing to let go of all I’ve logically put together and so deliciously tied into a wonderful interconnected superstructure of understanding and reasoning and protective armour and boy you’re not going to get me and I’m going to be right! … letting go of that for what’s instead possible.
*** And unlike the Destin’s bike example, we can always quite easily return to riding the “regular” bike if we choose or deem it more appropriate in that moment.
**** This post was a tough one to write.