Tuesday 18 February 2020

Self-remembering - then what?

Self-remembering has seemed a very important thing to strive for, ever since I first heard of the idea (from Colin Wilson) more than forty years ago. To be aware of Me, Here, Now is to awaken from that zombie like state that afflicts/ is-chosen-by most people - most of the time.

But having become aware of ones-self - what then? What should we do?

For some, self-remembering seems to be an aim in itself, itself the goal to strive for. This corresponds to a wish to return to the passive immersive state of early childhood (at its best) - a kind of open-eyed wonder at the situation of being alive in the world.

For others, self-remembering leads to the (meditative) attempt to lose the self (lose the ego); to stop thinking, to lose 'consciousness' and return to what is regarded as the primal one-ness. To cease to be a person. 

For myself; I hope that self-remembering will lead on to an awareness of living in a world of Beings; and that I am in relations with these Beings - and an active recognition that this is an ongoing-creation: God's creation - the unfolding product of personal purpose.

Today, as I was in a public space - I 'came to myself' and attained self-remembering, and then became aware of the situation. Strangely, although I was surrounded by dozens of people; all of them were cut-off from the web of relations, gave-off no living vibes - and there was a much more significant relationship to be had with the non-human aspects of my environment - the stones and buildings, the trees and vegetation.

This seems so common as to be almost a fact of modern life. When I go to a beautiful historic city, such as Norwich or Oxford, the city itself is far more alive than the inhabitants; the city is vibrant and conscious and purposive - the inhabitants little more than ghosts of Hades, wandering aimlessly or rushing around dementedly.

And the same applies to England. I am aware of England more in rural areas - rural Northumberland, for example, is so alive and conscious and purposive that it is impossible to ignore when I am in a self-remembering state. But again most of the people are not.

It is very strange. It is as if the land itself is a conscious organism, with definite purpose; and the people merely mites crawling on its surface - convinced that this great slow-moving beast is dead and inert (dead and inert in a way that nothing truly is).

Nearly everybody has chosen to believe that this whole world is meaningless, purposeless, dead; and now this has spread to the verge of a self-belief. It is as if the nation is on the verge of a mass delusion of personal unreality: that we are all nothing more than our own delusions, and the fear is that we ourselves are as unreal as we consider the non-human world to be. 

I keep hoping that some of the crawling mites will realise where they are, and what is potential in their situation; and will join with it in a spirit of love. But so far it doesn't seem to be happening.



Anonymous said...

(Forgive me if I have already touted this book on your blog.)

There is a book describing the disconnectedness that you describe. It's aimed at both a corporate-based and a church-based audience.

"This Land of Strangers" by Robert E. Hall.

The first 10 chapters describe the problem, and chapters 11 through 13 suggest ways of resolving the "Relationship Crisis." He calls his recommended solutions "Relational Leadership", leading by building relationships, and not in the "programmed" way that has become fashionable in organizations over the last 25 years.

In the US, it's available on Amazon for cheap on the used listings, usually $6 and under including domestic shipping.

I wrote two reviews of it. The second link has some phrases that I highlighted.




Epimetheus said...

It's surreal to live in a rotting, decaying civilization, and then to have a dog run up - tail wagging, panting, tongue out and happy. The land and the animals and vegetables don't seem to be going through any spiritual decline whatsoever.

Wm Jas Tychonievich said...

I've had that experience before, too, when I'm suddenly aware that I'm conscious and that no one else around me is. I have to wonder if it's sometimes illusory, though. It always brings to mind the classic xkcd comic where a man is sitting on the subway thinking, "Look at these people. Glassy-eyed automatons... I'm the only conscious human in a world of sheep" -- and everyone else on the subway is thinking the same thing!


But I think it's probably not an illusion, not really. After all, most of the time *I'm* a glassy-eyed automaton, too. Moments of self-remembering are the exception rather than the rule, so any time you suddenly "come to yourself," it's a pretty good bet that most of the people around you have not done so and are not as conscious as you are at that moment.

It's an interesting observation, though, about the landscape itself seeming to be more "alive" than the people. "Ev'ry prospect pleases, and only man is vile!"

Bruce Charlton said...

@E - Maybe this is a reason why animals (esepcially dogs, cats and horses) are so important to some people. And young children.

@Wm - Some people are awake - sometimes you walk past someone and catch his or her eye; and are almost shocked to recognise that here is someone awake and aware.

What I find most striking is the indifference/ hostility to self-remembering - people go to extreme lengths of self-distraction to avoid anything of the kind.

But it was the contrasting aliveness of the non-human world that I was wanting to highlight. Perhaps somewhere like Oxford is this most extreme. The people who occupy (precisely that) the university are much like the BBC: a nest and beacon of all that is most materialist, shallow and corrupting in the modern world (plus that it is seething with numbskull tourists); yet the place itself (with - for me - the Inklings links) - buildings, meadows etc - can be among the most inspiring I have experienced; especially early in the mornings.

(I've been visiting for some 45 years; but I haven't actually been there for four years, and every time I return it has become worse - eventually it will go under.)

Otto said...

Wm Jas,

That XKCD cartoon (#610) was published on July 15, 2009; before the invention of the modern smartphone (post-iPhone era). Nowadays, years later, I tend to travel by metro every day, and I am always literally the only one in the entire carriage not looking at my phone but looking at my surroundings. (I also reluctantly bought a smartphone years after everyone else.) So the cartoon is out of date, and you can easily know if you are part of the Borg or not!

Jared said...

I think part of our self that we remember is our determinations: the things we prefer and how we choose to move forward under difficult conditions. I think how we are under difficult conditions is a better indication of who we are than how we are when we have it easy.