Monday 16 May 2022

Primary Thinking and the "law of undulation"

One of the obvious things about life is our inability to sustain those moods and motivations we most want. 

This may be because our wants are not good for us, spiritually good; and are therefore sabotaged by divine providence.

But other times it may be what CS Lewis termed "the law of undulation", which means that life tends to alternate between experiences, moods, emotions; with respect to attitudes, goals, energy... In sum, there are many alternations of many kinds.

Ultimately, this is because we need to learn from this mortal life, and most of us need to learn from both of the many extremes or 'opposites' of experience.

What we don't get in 'real life' we may be guided to experience in art, in dream, or by other vicarious means.

Thus life seldom 'leaves us alone' but is continually bringing problems and dissatisfaction, from which (it is intended) we will continue to learn. 

Undulation is part of this business. It does not necessarily mean we are failing, it may mean that we have experienced enough of one kind of difficulty, and now it is time for another.

I need to remind myself of this when it comes to my main goal in life - which relates to what I have termed Primary Thinking, which I regard as a means to the end of Final Participation

It is an active, conscious, and self-validating kind of thinking - in which there is the possibility (within constraints of our scope of ability) of direct understanding and correct knowing, and of personal creativity in its purest and eternal form (that is, participation in ongoing divine creation).

Yet I have periods of time when I can't do this - or, at least, it just does not happen. When, instead, my thinking is far more passive and absorptive - for example, I read fiction or memoirs, converse widely but without particular aim, watch TV or movies - and do not write notes or experiences that higher for of Primary thinking.   

Sometimes, this is because I am off-track; but other times it is an undulation; a necessary (or, at least, useful) variation on my life that enables me to widen acquaintance with the work of other minds; and to (les critically) absorb information and ideas - which later should prove the subject matter of the discernments and evaluations of Primary Thinking. 

Overall, I don't much like such variations in my life while I am in them - at times I try to fight them with Will Power - which never works, and is the wrong response anyway. But usually, in the end, it turns-out that something of significance was, in fact, accomplished in such phases. 

Providence is, after all, wiser than my personal plans. 

1 comment:

Kathleen said...

In many ways, life is not linear, and I like this idea of undulation. I too have experienced, as I’m sure all or most people have, that feeling of not achieving the day’s goals or maybe even the weeks. It can be an uncomfortable feeling but these moments of being sidetracked are necessary to our wellbeing. I think that our brains are sorting and making connections when we are busy with what might be considered frivolous time expenditures like reading fiction or memoirs (which I love also) or just spending time looking out the window daydreaming. I have come to view these moments as respites and know that soon enough I will be ready to return to the work at hand.