part 1: reflection after a weekend away
Today I woke late, the sun was shining but the cold weather had crept itself past all the insulation my room could offer, icy fingers pawing at my duvet. Beneath it I lay, happily free from the usual guilt one gets when we ‘sleep in’. Like bear waking slowly after a winter nesting I emerged, finally ready, into the bright light of the day, I was my most basic self, an animal, comforted, content and smiling. I was the self that is the subject of today’s blog.
We appear to made up of three parts, a much forgotten ‘infinite self’, found occasionally on our inner search for meaning, sometimes through religion, often through contemplations or revelation. The second self is the ‘mind made self’, empowered by names, it is the character we all play in humanities odd act. This ‘ego’ has been the subject of many modern narratives on individuality and when examined, can be the cause of most of our phycological problems, simply because it is not as ‘real’ as we experience it to be.
The third, as one of my oldest friends so brilliantly put this past weekend, is the ‘monkey self’, our animal nature, the living breathing body, the cells, the hormones and the feelings. A part that has been seen for centuries as our ‘lowest self’, mainly because of its lack of predictableness and inability to match the high standards of the societies social norm. It is that part of us that feels life, the touch of grass, the attraction to another, the rage of jealousy, this inner monkey of our ancestry is kept subdued, in fear of the havoc it may cause, it remains locked away, uncared for and sad.
This part of me, of each of us, is what has enabled our survival for millions of years without the need of traffic lights, a third amendment or the latest smartphone. In today’s world, it finds difficulty in expressing itself because so much of what is natural to it has been condemned, judged as immoral, lude or morally wrong. Exercise and the gym appears to be our solution to its frustration, wear it out, tire it until we no longer feel its complaint, ensuring our ‘mind made selves’ can get on with being oh so very important without distraction.
You, dear reader, may have worked out already that I am in favour of expressing this chained animal, over trying so hard to deny and ignore it. One must understand it as a discipline or else we can easily lose ourselves to desires, or be blinded by instinct as we become reactionary slaves to our environments. This is the nature of why we fear the ‘animal’, yet if it is to remain, as it must, can we see how truly adorable it is? Easily pleased but quick to complain, wounded by words, delighted by the simple pleasures, it is dynamic, fun, often impossible, yet too intimate to ignore.
Before I left for this latest adventure I had grown ill, my life has become a rather turmoil led event through which I am trying to ‘step up’ and rise to the various challenges as we all must. Not used to this new way of life I made mistakes, took on too much sometimes, did too little at others, felt the burn of betrayal and allowed bitterness to fester and grow. I was fearing my own headspace, that time when there are no distractions, when we must face the nagging voice of the ignored and oppressed parts of ourselves.
When we find ourselves in that kind of a downward spiral, it is essential we act, because the importance with which ‘we’ indulge the unimportant is magnified and becomes as a lead weight upon our lives. From the outside, it is easy to see how these concepts we let rule our ‘day to day’ are far from worth dying for, how they are small, pathetic and without meaning and yet, their phycological weight feels very real when you are trapped underneath.
It is worth mentioning that the number of suicides today is huge, far to big and charities are flaring up in response while phycologists ponder as to why this phenomenon occurs, after all we have beds, heating, running water, everything we should want… Unfortunately to attain this comfort and safety we must whip and subdue our animal self, hold it in chains less it embarrasses us, leads us astray or has us dare question our carefully crafted realities.
For me I had arrived at a point not often visited, where everything felt too much like this, but when we arrived in the car park this past Saturday at the base of Hellvyllen, the sun was shining… Towering hills rolled around me, the autumn colours of the landscape left me in awe, my inner animal was free, liberated by a need to express itself, once more understood the critical importance of such experience. That morning as I nipped into the trees to relieve natures call I found myself kicking leaves, almost frolicking in anticipation, like a farmyard animal let out after a winter in the barn, I was where I belong.
In these moments, I felt a great compassion, not just for that part of myself, but for that part of us all that remains neglected, I indulged my desires and let them lead the way, I felt the tension of late loosen inside my chest, the bitterness giving way to the simplicity of satisfaction. I am lucky enough to know natures call, it often coincides with hardship as the concrete walls of city life become too claustrophobic, as our faith in people deteriorates and life becomes somewhat Orwellian so too does he call grow louder. In these precious moments, I can see within myself, there is clarity and a place of grounded knowing where I do not suffer. I am sure I am not the only one who finds nature to be the retreat for treatment and how well that treatment works.
The issue is often that all in the tiniest of problems (that don’t actually matter in the ‘here and now’), appear to matter a great deal when we spend too much time as the ego giving attention to them. Lost in a world where the mind responds to its name, status and possessions. Not enough importance is given to the animal self, the joy it can create is sacrificed for the fears of the ego, the fear that all will crumble if we do not answer to the name we are given, focus on a career and do what we ought to… across the years living this way of life we begin to look down on immaturity, playfulness and those who do not take us and our way seriously
We become selfish and greedy as we become addicted to achievement, we step on our brothers and sisters, we envy our neighbours and we scoff at those who see the world differently to us, still worse we condemn those who do not condemn alongside us… we are driven into insanity but we are so taken in by it, put to sleep by it, that we do not even see our own deterioration, our inner downfall. Eventually despair becomes the normal and we give up, looking forward only to social events, the chance to have and drink and be numb to all else.
Without living we cannot be alive, this is not just a concept as so many millennials have decided it must be, it is an inward reality, one that needs to be experienced, touched, felt, smelt and heard. It is a literal path as well as a conceptual one, it is not the dream of what is to come but the wonder of what is happening right now and how to appreciate that. We are forced to experience this when we adventure into the wilderness but it is missed when we indulge only in the happenings of the everyday, of the boring and mundane.
It is no simple thing, to consider oneself and face the reality of what we are, we are none of us perfect, especially our inner animal who cares nothing for rules and morality and may be a long way from what you expect of yourself. Evidence proves this must be difficult because I see so few people who are awake to who they are and instead prefer the story to the truth, personally my ability to cope with others or my own bullshit has reached its limit.
Instead of being caught up in ‘who’ we are, we instead must explore ‘what’ we are, this doesn’t happen while we revel in delight by the way we have intelligently beaten life, despite that fact that the life we beat, is nothing more than a manifestation of a human mind. The universe would likely laugh at us if it could, but I fear it would be more likely to feel sorry for us…
part 2: summery, repeating reality and a link for those unsure
Beyond the ego mind we can easily discover the animal self, a good way to do this is to sit and meditate, not because meditation has some divine effect (although it can), but it forces you to meet your mind, go beyond that and you meet the animal. Is it restless or calm? Ask questions and be the answer to attain insight, use the senses, the feelings you have and the instincts that define your character. Do you see what is been pointed to here? I hope never to deceive in this blog space, perhaps you can use the scientific part of yourself, the logical source of knowing through experience.
Therefore, the animal becomes the evidence, the smell and taste of life, it cannot be read about, told or taught, it is a hands-on practice that has tremendous power, it can revolutionise the outer self by purifying our inner space. We are none of us evil, instead we are ill, blind and taught by the blind. As I mentioned in part one, we supress ‘what we are’, to be ‘who we are’, then we will act surprised when for many people, this becomes too much and they crack. We are held into a prison of mind by our warden ‘fear’, fear of death, of what is acceptable and others, not even leaving the house until we put our outfits on. I am guilty of this anyway, giving far too much attention to what is right or wrong than we do to what is real and true.
The ‘adorable self’ is the child, it is the reason for the wisdom we see in the young, who are yet to be corrupted by their ego, they know life by living it, it is only when we tell them to be quiet, sit down and learn to be ‘human’, that this part of them is squashed. I have often wondered what a child’s reply to a question like “where is god?”, “what is death?”, “how do I be happy?”
The answers would be rooted in the truth because our ‘adorable self’ knows only reality as it is, like a science experiment that must be based on data, on facts, life made simple is how a child is viewing the world every moment, the rest is fantasy and we have indulged it for far too long. I know that if I cannot find way to balance the need to survive in the current model of the modern world, with the need to live, love, laugh and be free, to smell the mountain air, to warm my hands by a fire or simply enjoy the smallest of quiet moments, then there will be very little that is worthwhile doing.
At the bottom of this blog will be a link to an article by ‘New Scientist’, unfortunately a lot of it is locked to subscription but the message is clear and not just whimsical contemplation as this is. how we experience this world is based on the information we receive from the outside, it is not until this information arrives inside of us that it becomes, a door, a book, a chair, a building or a fabricated reality.
You are choosing the reality you experience, the extent of that which is based upon your true experience depends entirely on your willingness to see through the bullshit, the names, the labels, the ideas and notions of what ‘should be’, disregarding what is. This is not simply another story, it’s real and you need only ground yourself within your ‘monkey’ to feel it, the practice of this can set us free, and we all deserve that freedom, we were born with that right.