Oct 042017

Maybe it has been there for many months. Possibly years even. The dark night of the soul, in whatever form it may be, whether chronic illness, loss, pain, suffering, continuous failures on too many fronts, depression that knows no end – whatever it may be.

Maybe we have accepted it. After all, we have the power to try and alleviate our situation and condition. We do whatever we can, whatever we can think of, whatever we can afford. But for how long? How long does it take before we feel defeated… when we give up… when we break down?

And even when we do give up – it’s not as if anything has changed. The suffering continues, each moment feels like eternity, and the hope… where is the hope? We cannot even remember when exactly we lost it. It was that long ago! Somewhere along the path of struggling and trying and failing and coming up with new tactics; somewhere in that battlefield hope was lost and gone.

And yet hope, couldn’t care less that we’ve forgotten all about it, that we lost it. It’s not offended. Suddenly, out of nowhere, it’s here. Like the very first rays of dawn after a night that has gotten darker by the minute. We did not expect it. We were not prepared for this. We may even be afraid. Afraid that this hope is just a teaser – being lifted upwards for the sole purpose of being slammed down with even greater force.
But here too, hope doesn’t care. Like a child smiling at us when all around us there’s devastation from an earthquake or a hurricane. That smile is untouched by the outside ruins. That smile exists on a realm of its own. We may dismiss it for as much as we want, but we cannot ignore the very fact that it touches us in a way undeniable. It’s there – or rather – right here. And when it is, we see all the ruin very very differently. Just like putting on a pair of tinted glasses. Nothing looks the same as before. The suffering was so real a moment ago, hope was nowhere to be found or remembered a moment ago. But that moment ago now feels just like eternity ago. This is more than magic – it’s almost diabolic.

We have an inherent need to understand. We have a need to have an idea in our mind about how things work, how the world works, how life works. Perhaps we do this so that we know what to expect, perhaps as a way to protect ourselves from unpleasant surprises. Or perhaps we have this need so to allow us to feel belong and connected, rather than alien to this world and this life. This need that we have, may be something that we are consciously aware of, but may also be something that’s controlling us, pulling our strings and pushing our buttons without our awareness, knowledge or consent. Regardless, we constantly try to understand how things really work and how we ought to interact with this reality.

Too often, when reality unfolds in accordance with this understanding of ours, we become more convinced that “we got it”. We may actually believe that we know what to expect. That we cannot be too surprised by anything. This is not entirely unlike arrogance – but it’s a protection mechanism. How else could we possibly take a step if we think that the floor is not solid? This may be a necessary protection mechanism for us to use. If we have been suffering for a very long time, having hope could just hurt us even more.

And yet suddenly… it is now here: Hope!


Sep 062017

A thought comes to my mind: “I want to go out and take a walk!”. Looking more closely at it, it’s not just a thought. It is accompanied by some urge, plus a mental idea of reward (as a result of pursuing that thought), and also an emotional backdrop of wanting or needing.

A moment ago this thought was not there. Suddenly it is in my mind. I had no control over its absence a moment ago; I had no control over its appearance just now. And yet I am likely to follow it, or otherwise be tormented by it if I don’t.

Where did this thought come from? I know that I did not create it. Do these thoughts come from inside or outside of me? What’s controlling their appearance or absence?

Theoretically, I could have received just about any thought at all. Why then did I get this specific thought?

Am I to be blamed for creating this thought whether knowingly or unknowingly? Is it possible that I am unaware of creating these thoughts and emotions all by myself? I can honestly say that the emergence of these thoughts, emotions and urges are not a conscious act on my part and in fact the instantaneity of these emergences are much much faster than my consciousness’ ability to register it, until much later. And I can only assume that in large majority of cases, many of these thoughts go completely unnoticed.

And whereas I get a thought about going out to take a walk, another person gets a thought about having another (alcoholic) drink while somebody else gets a thought about killing a person. Their thoughts, just like my own, are accompanied by an urge and a mental idea of reward once the action is pursued. They are no more in control of the emergence of these thoughts/emotions/urges than I am. And yet our society doesn’t blame me for going out to take a walk, while it blames the other two. This is not to pass a judgement on society’s behavior in this instance – after all – by taking a walk I’m not hurting anyone, and by killing someone, or driving under influence I do, or potentially so. And so I understand society’s stance. But regardless, both myself and the other two people are in essence victims, of powers greater than ourselves, over which we have no control. Sure, we can acknowledge these thoughts/urges/emotions, deny them, fight them, try to ignore them. But experience keeps demonstrating that the more we fight them, the more power they seem to have over us.

Looking closer at this mysterious dynamic, I can see  that there are at least three elements at work here:

  1. Content: What exactly the thought is;
  2. Intensity: How powerful are the urges, emotions and mental justifications that accompany it;
  3. Timing: The exact timing when thought appear may have a different effect on us.

Fear for example, is just one aspect of this picture, and we all know very well how powerful fear is in controlling us. The fear of loss keeps perpetuating so many of us working in a job that we don’t like. The fear of loneliness keeps so many of us in relationships that are hurtful and poisonous. This is not the exception – it is the rule.

Are we being controlled without our knowledge or consent? Without even suspecting? And if so, controlled by who? Or by what? After all, we regard ourselves as free-willed, self-sovereign entities, capable of doing whatever we want or choose to do, or not do. But is it possible that this very Will – which we call Our Own, is not in our control at all? What if this “self will” is predetermined for us?

If these thoughts/emotions/urges are not in our control and yet control us, then why are we here? What’s the point? Are we mere game pieces on a board game? And even if so, what’s the purpose? Is it possible that there’s no purpose?
But life continuously demonstrates the purpose of everything, and science continuously discovers these purposes and dependencies. But what if that’s what we see simply because that’s what we are capable of conceptualizing?

And how can I possibly end this article? It feels as if it has opened a portal into a terrifying abyss and that there’s no way back.

Perhaps this article is not meant to have an end. Perhaps this article is an open door, an invitation to those who dare to explore a treacherous terrain.