What I know about Soren Kierkegaard

Kierkegaard’s dilemma was that despite his love for Regine he believed himself to be incapable of becoming a good husband, so to spare her he breaks off the engagement, telling her he was never truly serious about their relationship in the first place.

He wrote a lot about anxiety. He stated that, when we become anxious, we are overtaken with fear and trembling, as if we were on the edge of a precipice and afraid of falling. Then he said we should jump; take the leap into faith, embrace God for whom all things are possible.

He also tells us that either we shelter ourselves in the illusory belief that the individuals, doctrines and institutions we rely on for self-fulfillment are sufficient (bad) or we dismiss our worldly distractions, realize our declining physical body and face the existential horrors of life (good).

Whew!

I think he thought about things too much. He should have just gone out and had a good time once in a while.

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And they all lived happily ever-after

I’ve been thinking, lately, about what it might mean to realize an extended period of calm, peacefulness and tranquility; halcyon days of pleasant meanderings through a benevolent natural world and happy encounters with grounded, enlightened people. It seems a bit of a fantasy requiring, in this day and age of political unrest and perpetual world-wide tragedy, a sort of head-in-the-sand dismissal of reality.

Maybe I’m just allowing myself to be distracted, not seeing the whole forest, lost among the trees. I suppose I could strive to remain awake in the moment, not get overly obsessed with situations beyond my control, you know, realize the world around us is ever-changing. I, perhaps, need to reacquaint myself with a Nature in constant flux and modify my sense of propriety so as not to assume it should be for everyone, everywhere.

Can right mind, I wonder, see a reality in which all live happily ever after; if not, how about a centered life free of the sufferings of expectation?

The Impossibility of Becoming Self-less

The thinking seems to be these days among neuro-scientists and phenomenologists that the concept of Self is an artificial construct evolution has foisted upon us in the interest of fending off extinction. By providing a focus upon which to differentiate options for action, evolution has provided, over considerable time, the means to improve our potential for personal survival. I’m guessing things like:” is that Sabretooth Tiger looking at me thinking about a meal in which case “‘I’better think about reacting” and so forth, has developed and perpetuated the myth of the Self.

So, I guess there really is no ‘Self’ other than a concept our consciousness has found useful to limit possible choices in order to provide some bit of stability within our limited sensible abilities; which also means the ‘World’ our artificial ‘Self’ recognizes is but a tiny fraction of what is actual out there existing around us.

But our sense of Self, researchers assure us, is pretty much impossible to eradicate as enlightening as it might be to do so. We can, though, I suppose, think seriously about growing our world awareness through meditation which is, after all, a ‘Self’ subordinating enterprise.

And Then Nature Took Its Course

I’m being led to understand, through some quite credible readings, that it’s likely physiological variations, like elevated heart rate or shortness of breath or even a stubbed toe precede emotional states; which means, I guess, one might be more likely to develop romantic feelings for a jogging partner or feel an excessive animosity for an athletic opponent after spraining an ankle.

So, I was thinking about this after my bi-weekly exercise regimen the other day when it occurred to me that I did indeed feel a sense of bonding with and good will toward my companions, nothing romantic you understand, but a familial closeness with the good people in our group. Whether I would have developed those same feelings had our relationships developed as, say, library board members I don’t know but I do kind of doubt it. I suppose one could over-intellectualize the issue, debating which came first the heart palpitations or the feelings but better, I think, to just keep exercising and let nature take its course.

Things were going along pretty well and then disaster struck

I don’t know why it is but for me there always seems to be an ominous presence just beyond daily occurrence that, no matter how nicely everything seems to be proceeding, in my mind disaster is just a tick away from happening.

I live, I guess, with a close companion who harbors a certain pessimistic perspective or, maybe, just maybe is offering fair warning of impending disaster I better take note of. The thing is, as disasters go I really can’t say I’ve experienced anything, you know, particularly devastating in terms of life and death occurrences. But, nevertheless, whenever things are moving along smoothly there is, in the back of my mind, a sense of impending doom.

I really can’t explain it but I suspect I will be compelled to live with my pessimistic companion and the angst he causes me as long as I draw breath. After that I suppose I’ll have to admit I was fairly warned.

Reality

I’ve been reading that the sensory input we experience during our waking hours is a bombardment of information most of which never registers within our consciousness, but, nevertheless may find itself lodged within our unconscious mind, which may explain how we come up with those Trivial Pursuit answers seemingly out of nowhere.

And, since conscious memory is selective by necessity, the inability to grasp all data the senses provide and our need to offer feasible explanations to ourselves and others, our verbal presentations of what has happened is almost always a pretty far cry from factual evidence.

So, I guess we may be somewhat excused if the personal narratives we conjure don’t exactly jibe with reality. And, since we’re doing everything within our limited sensual powers to spell out what’s going on around us maybe we need to reassess what exactly reality is.

Ideals and Ideology

I’ve been reading, lately, about the disconnect between ideological beliefs and hard facts; that firmly held beliefs sometimes get in the way of accepting objective knowledge when the two don’t exactly mesh. I guess we all have our ideological beliefs, what we see as appropriate, preferable directions and outcomes that our culture as we understand it, would best observe; perspectives that have come to us through our intuitions or religious beliefs or communion with like-minded folks. Pluralism being what it is, though, belief systems will never coalesce into a single dominant ideology.

Objective knowledge on the other hand, that knowledge that we obtain from careful observation and thoughtful painstaking data collection doesn’t require belief: it comes to us as a dynamic fact that shouldn’t be thought of as divisive in terms of ideologies. But, I guess were having a hard time these days separating beliefs from hard facts.

Anyway, I was thinking that it would be really good, ideal really, if we could all come together around the realization that what we desire is a shared common ground, a cooperative and peaceful humankind progressing through shared knowledge. We must not let ideologies get in the way of our idealism.

A Larger World

 

It’s occurred to me recently that perhaps my world is shrinking.  Having fallen into a fairly consistent daily routine that finds me usually no farther than maybe 25 miles from my home most of the time and limiting my sources of information to those outlets that more or less support my views, not to mention the fact most of my social contact is with people pretty much just like me, I think I may be closeting myself.  I think I may be losing any personal empathy and understanding I may have once had to a diverse, pluralistic world.

It may be time for me to step out of the artificial safety of my insulated life, embrace the discomfort of the unknown and grow my world.  I need to do this before the most abhorrent of conditions, fear of the other, sets in; I can kind of feel it coming on.

I will venture into the public square, strike up conversations with those of unlike mind, seek out folks of unfamiliar cultural values and maybe even venture into situations where language barriers exist.  I need to renew my faith in the benevolence of those with whom I share the planet.  I know such benevolence exists.  I’ve realized it in the past.  There’s still time for me to save myself.

Now

So, it’s come to my attention that the only true reality is now: the past is no longer and the future is yet to be. Yesterday isn’t now although it was now then and the future may become now but isn’t now, now.

As we conjure up what was but is no longer now our remembrances assume only an approximation more or less accurate as to how it was when was then was now. And, though we may plan and anticipate how it will be when will be is now we have no certainty of that now until it becomes now.

I do think there is value in conscious awareness of now as opposed to too much concern to was then and will be; I think focus on now suppresses the ‘I’ which requires, for it to be well-defined, a bit of a time line.

Plus, being here now opens conscious awareness of all sorts of things one misses when one’s mind is fluctuating between was then and will be. So, now I’m going to definitely focus, as well as I can on now rather than going to.

I’m finding it to be a bit of a struggle.

Seeking Common Ground

Public discourse sure seems divisive these days. There seems to be a lot of people holding pretty strong oppositional opinions on a host of contemporary issues. The disagreements appear to be pretty deep; not just apples and oranges but more of a god/Satan divergence; a profound philosophical divide beyond any sort of reconciliation; neighbor versus neighbor has led to political gridlock. I’m inclined to level some of the blame for the situation on football; it’s all come down to a win or lose situation.

Which has led some wise pundits to suggest we need a change of attitude; a spirit of compromise along with a sense of civil exchange of ideas; allow the other side their dignity while articulating your own point of view clearly and calmly and try to avoid taking the issues personally.
I grant you this isn’t an easy task when you know for certain the other side is clearly wrong. I wish I could tell you I’m immune to this discordant dilemma but reading the news from the perspective of my favored apps keeps me regularly angry at the other side, and, I suspect, the other side is similarly seething while absorbing the bias of their favored sources.

The conundrum brings me back to a need to spend more time on my meditative practices: focus on by-passing the Self, allowing disquieting thoughts to evaporate, strive for ultimate nature of being, seek believable truths. It’s difficult but I can think of no better solution and maybe I’ll eventually reach a point of toleration for those on the other side.

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