I’d Love to Change the World but…

Part III – Political Identity (what being politically identified does for us)

Identity, political or otherwise, continues to be an enduring theme in my life. Political identity as well as voter participation is of course optional. Many of us are though, invested in a political vision, and view the world through political lenses. We place politics high enough on our list of priorities to stay informed; read newspapers, watch news programs and perhaps even read political books. The influence of Politics in America has increasingly infiltrated many of our social structures; schools, churches, businesses, while awareness of who we are ethnically or through our life style distinctions are punctuated more than ever. Perhaps because access to the world at large has increased, and technology continues to bring more voices into the cultural conversation, political awareness and identity is on the increase.

My sense has always been that from out of the continuity of experience, from which I know that I am me and not another, there is an ever extending chain of events that through their effects on what I see, feel, sense and know, change the aggregate sense of self that carries me forward. Sometimes changes wrought from terrifying or painful events bring regret, and cannot be undone, calling for a reconciliation in order to bring some peace of mind. I found this to be true from both bad choices I have made in my life as well as from exposure to violent images and events, whether in life experiences, or in films or books.

To live with the knowledge of evil brings pain that cannot easily be reconciled with the desire for peace and goodness. For even when we are sometimes able to choose the good, we remain in a world frequented by evil and live in a world of ambiguity of moral effects. There is not always a clear path to the good, and certainly no absolute knowledge that what I do brings about the goodness intended without some unintended evil. Also, it is as if the weight of the collective evil can be in our hearts and spoil our peace. Although letting oneself get pulled down into darkness will never dispel evil from the world, we live much like Rilke shows us, with a foot in both worlds.

With that in my mind I come to view the spectrum of political identities for their vision and the fantasies they engender.

Perhaps too, it may be that politics has come to the foreground of American culture because we all sense, in varying degrees, the trouble our culture and our world is in. What seems to heighten our anxiety that something must be done to fix us may be the paradox of living in a world where an amazing amount of technology and information is instantly available to us. Why then, can we not fix our problems, right now? (Would you like to supersize your order m’am?)

Although there are many distinctions between political identities, just as technology and information are speeding up, they all share in an increasing sense of urgency for the implementation of our fantasy* of solutions offered for the problems as we imagine them to be. But, it seems, the more we do, the worse things get. Both ends of the political spectrum embrace the notion that the world is going to hell in a hand basket, although one side tends not to believe in a literal hell, so for them it is simply going to be the end of the world as we know it.

Either way, or anyway, what are political identities doing for us? Like a lot of ways in which we come to define ourselves; as a lover of sports, music or the arts, political identity can bring us a sense of belonging and shared experience which may lead us to fulfill a creative impulse and, or, give us a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. What differentiates political identity from other ways of engagement may lie in what propels the political impulse as well as in our experience of the engagement and to what ends that engagement serves.

Perhaps it is true that the larger the investment in a political identity the more investment in one’s cosmology there is. Cosmology here meaning the kind and amount of meaning an individual sees in his life and the lives of others and the order of the world as a whole, including a perceived absence of meaning and order.

That our cosmological views of the world have in the last few hundred years shifted from being theologically to scientifically based would not be hotly contested. Although there are variations to style and degree, how much we include God or the gods in our cosmological view to a large extent determines our political identity. Boiled down to their essence, there is the Scientific view in which there is either no god at all, or no god who directly or personally effects us, and therefore We, the People are it. Our capacity to govern, plan for the future, understand our world and how it works depends solely on scientific, economic and political knowledge. The power of politics and government are then placed entirely in our human hands. Laws are man made, hence subject to revision according to place and time, and have no ultimate claim to authority outside of ourselves.

At the theological end of the spectrum, all power and authority gets placed in the hands of God. Though there are variations among religions as to what God’s law is and how those laws should be practiced, what matters most for where on the spectrum of political identity one places oneself, is one’s teleological view of the world. The amount of control we believe God has over human and cosmological affairs directly correlates to how fixed we believe God’s law is and so determines how human law should be practiced and how much influence humans have to affect the ultimate outcome of humanity and the Cosmos.

Our view of teleology very nicely accounts for the difference in political views. It may not account for all differences, but will help us to account for differences not only between atheists who place their faith and trust solely in Science and personal knowledge, and theists who place theirs solely in God. Perhaps both extremes are equally dogmatic and therefore equally dangerous. We can see this more clearly by following the root of the ideas of both views outward to their display. I am not however arguing for the middle, a lukewarm place where we compromise for the sake of some imagined “agreeable” outcome. The point here is to simply consider the implications of the view at both ends of the spectrum where I believe the tension and polarity are amplified.

But if we are truly in a world where what matters is only matter, who cares for that world? If we place a higher value in the material world over and against the spiritual world, where all valuation occurs; love, beauty, desire, dreams, where will our hearts reside? And even if Scientific knowledge reveals every last detail to the millionth decimal point and discovers the means to control everything, from the weather to food production to human behavior, we will still have war, hunger, sloth, greed and death. For these are the woes of humankind which can only be attended to by what matters to the heart, and at root are spiritual concerns that a belief in God, or gods concerns itself with.

But, the religious view that requires us to take our battles abroad, outside to the world of strangers, instead of keeping the struggle home where the personal battle with our and other’s suffering is seen, felt and lived, is just as much of a dead end. A religious view that believes God calls us to battle, other than as an act of self-defense, invites us to never put down the sword while making the claim that we have direct knowledge from God to do His bidding.

Both of these extremes take us beyond the limits of human knowledge. Pure hubris! I would argue that there is no science that will make us love the world enough to take care of it and manage it. And I would argue that we cannot insert God into the timeline of history and call His shots for Him.

*By fantasy I do not mean to imply a falsehood, but rather acknowledge that image is primary to our knowing, and so, however true our ideas may turn out to be if and when materialized, they primarily enter us through images, notions and fantasy. If not for fantasy and imagination, no new idea would ever come forth to fruition. We mistakenly think of reality in opposition to fantasy, but reality  too, is first an idea and refers to what we think of as the material world. Ideas, fantasy and imagination lack material substance, but they are the primary “stuff” of our mental world and can therefore be just as true or false as material things.

Thanks to Alvin Lee and Tens Years After for the theme:
Ten Years After – I’d Love to Change the World

Blame it on Kindle

Wow, January is three-quarters over and I have not posted since Christmas! I’ll blame it on receiving a new Kindle for Christmas. I have read six or seven books since December 20 – so much for cutting down on my book bill!

The best part of Kindle is being able to buy books that the bookstores never keep in stock because apparently only myself and forty other people are interested in such topics as cosmology, meaning, identity and such:) I love the Amazon website for it’s reviews and ease of use.

Yes, life has been busy, I am working hard on my pipe band side-drumming as my husband and I are planning a trip next month to a 5-day long pipe band drumming workshop.

I have been off on a tangent which started from reading about NDE’s and has led to a most curious insight from one of the books I read. Apparently one of the current debates among scientists is whether consciousness is created by physiology, or consciousness precedes biology and therefore is the source of living organisms such as ourselves. Hmmmm……

That’s a lot to think about and certainly turns the world on its head. It would help explain how intelligence has been made manifest. I have never understood how intelligence could come from nothing, or even evolve little by little from the smallest particles of the big bang to Us. But, if there were a field of consciousness somehow entwined within the very fabric of the universe, that would at least account for the drive towards manifest consciousness such as we are an example there of.

Why would life forms become more and more complex? Why do life forms such as ourselves seek to be more and more conscious of who, what and where we are?

But what if consciousness, understood as a pre-biological thing-y-ness of the cosmos, could be understood to be the source of intelligence limited in our experience by the physiology of our brains?

This obviously doesn’t answer all the questions. The idea that the big bang comes from nothing does not make sense to me. It would seem that there needs to be something or someone, a Source, eternally existing with no beginning or no end. Is that something God, or the underlying Grand Consciousness and Intelligence of all?

It makes sense then, that our capacity to know and our ability to perceive is limited by our human equipment. So, it’s possible that true knowledge of who and where and what we are is not something we can access. One of the regular bloggers that I read seems to have lots of answers, and he may be right, but alas, I am no scientist and struggle to understand, and am certainly not in any position to affirm or refute what he or any scientist says, but I am most fascinated with cosmology.

On another note, I am coming to a greater understanding of how much we are limited and expanded through our sense of identity. The way in which we identify ourselves internally and externally can limit our perception of the world and also widen it.

I think our capacity for identity, when too narrow, hampers us from the ability to deepen our relationships to both people, things and world views and that one of the keys to freedom is to be aware of one’s ability and limitations in our experience of identity. The world seems to tempt us to over identify in all circumstances, and to see our identity as both static and literal when it really is dynamic and imaginal.

More on that later, but for now it’s back to Quantum enigma’s, Bio-centrism, NDE’s and other related reading.

Less than zero

So, what exactly is it that people are doing with their lives? That is the question that carried me through the next few years following the big dream. Feeling that some semblance of sanity had returned it seemed that life was waiting for me to finally cut a path through the heart of my existence.

On fire, I could hardly contain myself with so much energy and emotional freedom. For the first time in my life I had a sense of being “one of” rather than a feeling of waiting to be born. But alas, I was to find out again and again that there are aspects of yourself, inner drives, modes of perceiving that still bind you. For me it is the drive toward knowing and understanding the meaning and purpose of existence that sustain me and are as necessary to my being as are food and water.

It would be the highest form of self betrayal were I to ignore, deny or in any way seek to be rid of this instinct for meaning.


But before I was to settle down with a fuller acceptance of what sort of life I wanted to live there were a few more wayward flings left to experience. Although I am not often given to regret my actions, I did discover during this time that there are consequences for choices made and that nothing satisfies like love, and by love I mean the conscious willing kind, whether in family, friendship, or some creative endeavor, love is the greatest work and brings the highest rewards.

None of the modern indulgences of sex, eating, drinking or the selections from the menu of alternative lifestyles were very satisfying for me once the high that comes from being secretly outrageous, right-under-the-nose of, all your “normal” friends and family wears off.

After a few years of sampling some of what the modern world has to offer, all I really wanted was to find someone to make a home and be with who is willing to travel together the long road of life, through all the day to day beauty, wonders, sorrows and losses that come our way.

I wanted to know that love really matters and makes a difference in people’s lives and that transformative experiences can happen to anyone.

I wanted to stop hurting people and not to be hurt by them. The further I go in my closest relationships the more I see that love is a choice you make moment to moment. The best we can do is to know that we are continually making choices with every breath and step we take and to try to be there when you show up.

It could be that life’s long song finally catches your ear, maybe at different times for each of us. Maybe some people do manage to avoid ever worrying about whether there is an over-arching meaning to their life, maybe some people are naturally inclined to accept and live an unreflected life as it happens, but as I have aged I have found it very disturbing to think that we humans and the little marbled ball we call Earth are IT.

Can we really claim the title of the most conscious being in the universe? Can intelligence come from non-intelligence or lesser intelligence? Is there nothing besides human consciousness that knows, in the sense that we know, that we’re alive? I find that so incredibly hard to believe. How can life come from nothing? What is the drive, the spark that brings the world into being? I am no scientist, but I have never heard a satisfactory explanation for how it is that I am here, and know I am here.

Just as disturbing, is the human awareness and experience of good and evil. Not so much the natural cycle of life and death, that life feeds on itself (disturbing as that is), but more specifically the distinctly human kind of evil that we all seem to play our part in. Try as we may, it’s as if the good is never sustainable. Everything means less than zero

This sort of thinking would lead me back to the religious question of, is there a Creator? I had become comfortable with the notion that nature is an impersonal force in which evolutionary processes compel life forms forward and if there were anymore to it, we don’t have enough information to come to any conclusions about it.

Perhaps because I had experienced a deeper and clearer sense of myself as a person, the idea of an impersonal force of nature no longer satisfied.

And so began a renewed search and reconsideration of the claims of Christianity, starting with C.S. Lewis and of course the Bible.

“I gaze into the doorway
Of temptation’s angry flame
And every time I pass that way
I always hear my name
Then onward in my journey
I come to understand
That every hair is numbered
Like every grain of sand.” Bob Dylan


The sins of the father…

“Anyone who wants to know the human psyche will learn next to nothing from experimental psychology.  He would be better advised to abandon exact science, put away his scholar’s gown, bid farewell to his study, and wander with human heart throughout the world.  There in the horrors of prisons, lunatic asylums and hospitals, in drab suburban pubs, in brothels and gambling-hells, in the salons of the elegant, the Stock Exchanges, socialist meetings, churches, revivalist gatherings and ecstatic sects, through love and hate, through the experience of passion in every form in his own body, he would reap richer stores of knowledge than text-books a foot thick could give him, and he will know how to doctor the sick with a real knowledge of the human soul.” — Carl Jung

 Reading Jung left me with the sense that my intuition and experience of the world as a messy place was not an unreasonable conclusion to come to. I spent a lot of time in the following years reading and psychically attending to the darker and more shadowy side of the world. No longer an innocent, I wanted to know and perhaps try to understand all that humans had been through and how it was that we got to our time in history. Why did humans seem to perpetuate so much evil? Was it the lack of security from easy access to basic necessities such as food and shelter along with powerlessness in the face of disease and each other? What made us seemingly so different from the animals?

Animals also live with the same scarcity of security and live and die not unlike we do, but they don’t seem bothered in quite the same ways as we do. They kill for food, fight for dominance, but rarely to the death of rivals within their own kind. But humans have filled history with an interspecial rivalry that continually leads to conquest at the great cost to each other and to ourselves.

But, it wasn’t for the horror of history that my interest remained fixated on our collective past. I wanted to understand psychically what it is that humans are doing. All of this was part of my ever-expanding search for a sense of myself, an identity. My life felt unstarted, directionless, as if I had been dumped into an alien world a total stranger. This might have been a common situation experienced by many, but if so, I was not aware of it. Partly, because I had just enough fear keeping me from finding out from others, and partly because most people I approached with conversations about cosmological concerns did not seem to share either my sense of alienation, lack or misplacement of identity or a strong and incessant drive to understand who and what we are.

In the historical search lies a sense or a pull to “get to the bottom of the problem.”  Who or what then is to blame for our condition? There have been many answers to this question, and I think that how we answer this question plays a part in what direction we steer our boat in the cosmological ocean. It never occured to me then just how much the personal state of my life was driving this quest for understanding and that perhaps this was why other people did not pose the same questions to themselsves.

I noticed that after absorbing the history of a millenia or two worth of mankinds failings that a feeling of dispair and cynicism seemed like the most appropriate response. It was tempting to resign myself to the view that perhaps mankind was a blight upon the universe and my small and trivial life was just one more wink in the sleep of the cosmic nightmare. But the coming to such a negative conclusion did nothing to quench my thirst for understanding. Sigh…

Inspite of our seemingly trivial and pointless lives there remained for me the quest of knowing who I am and to finally bring the quest directly to my own doorstep. If my thirst for understanding was not sated by the knowledge of our collective human history, what then? What did my psychic appetite want?

What drives each of us to be who we are and especially our own peculiar pathologies? Is it the sins of the fathers, genetics, astrology, culture, personal or collective guilt?

In my late twenties, my sense of being lost and without direction, ironically, or coincidentally, put me on a path that eventually found me living alone, 3,000 miles away from family and familiar friends. At last I reached a place of wilderness in an unknown territory, both psychically and geographically. In 1991 I had moved from my native Long Island NY home of 33 years to Portland, Oregon. Although I moved out there with a male companion, by 1993 we had gone our separate ways. In hindsight, I am surprised that I stayed out west. I was terribly lonely, and felt like I was forever circling around the Great Abyss. 

Faster than I could run away from it, the aloneness that surrounded me created a space that gave a new shape to my life. Once that space had been created, there was no longer any way to deny that I was the problem and any real answers to my personal pathology would be found only through learning to live in the dark unchartered depths of being alone with enough courage, space and time to live in the day to day of the mess of my own being. There was something for me to do now and knowing that meant no turning back.

I cannot say whether the sins of the fathers brought me to this place, but I think I felt like they did. Everything in my life seemed entangled with everything else, from human history to family history, I could not tell the difference between me, my life and anything or anyone else. I could not tell how I was getting from one place to another let alone why. I felt pulled from one experience to the next as if I were riding in a car with no driver. Before I could ever hope to be in relationship to others I had to have some way to be able to have a sense of who I was and what I wanted and where I wanted to be. I needed and sorely lacked a vision.

The next two or so years would be the most tumultuous, tortured and crazy years of my life. But it’s true that what doesn’t kill you will make you stronger.

CONSOLATIONS
“The broken part heals even stronger than the rest,”
they say. But that takes awhile.
And, “Hurry up,” the whole world says.
They tap their feet. And it still hurts on rainy
afternoons when the same absent sun
gives no sign it will ever come back.
 
“What difference in a hundred years?”
The barn where Agnes hanged her child
will fall by then, and the scrawled words
erase themselves on the floor where rats’ feet
run. Boards curl up. Whole new trees
drink what the rivers bring. Things die.
 
“No good thing is easy.” They told us that,
while we dug our fingers into the stones
and looked beseechingly into their eyes.
They say the hurt is good for you. It makes
what comes later a gift all the more
precious in your bleeding hands.

~William Stafford

“Thou shalt not make to thyself a graven thing, nor the likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or in the earth beneath, nor of those things that are in the waters under the earth.

Thou shalt not adore them, nor serve them: I am the Lord thy God, mighty, jealous, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me: And shewing mercy unto thousands to them that love me, and keep my commandments.” Exodus 20, Douay-Rheims translation

The trouble with you is the trouble with me

It would not perhaps be fair to place too much blame on Taoism, Zen Buddhism, eastern spirituality for a lack of contentment that remained my constant companion, but the depersonalization I absorbed from eastern ideas mirrored my sense of disconnectedness. Intellectually, I may have found comfort in eastern ideas, especially Alan Watt’s idea of the individual ego as fake or illusory. My unsettled sense of self and inability to feel authentic enjoyed Watt’s disparagement of the ego. I suppose that ideas of every persuasion have their abusers.

We suffer not only from the pain of a wound but pile suffering upon suffering because of not wanting to suffer, and for wanting to be anywhere but where we are when we are suffering. What a leap from simply suffering, with a seemingly endless rippling effect.

But, I think suffering wants something from us.

Suffering can move us through, relocating us to some new way of seeing, even if reluctantly, and makes us more aware that we are alive, not able to go about the day in our usual fashion. We sometimes ask, why me? We find the limits of our control, over both ourselves and others. All the more so in proportion to how much control we are accustomed to assuming we have, or would like to have, both over ourselves and others.

In eastern thought, I think the aim is to be one with life and to live without desire and attachment in a way that conflicts with the separateness each of us knows in our lived, historical, and perceived individuality. Oneness or unity may be inviting, or a vision of a reality beyond us, or desirable, as selflessness promises the release of the tension felt in the ontological fright of being alive now, but will never erase our knowing that we were not always alive and won’t always be alive, which is, in all honesty, an inescapable reality of our individuality.

It is in the day to day living, leading one day to our death, that truly makes us alive and aware of our separateness. It is as persons, uniquely moving through time and space, in relationship to all else, that we create or discover meaning. Michael Meade says, “there is no way not to be who you are and where you are right now.”

There is an inherent tension in being alive because we know we weren’t always here and we know we will die. How baffling, how terrifying it is to know that we are finite, and yet to be given the awareness that transcends our personal historical time, and more space than our single lives occupy. We live multi-dimensionally through the bounty of memory, images, time and space and with whatever powers that influence us.

During the time I was attracted to eastern thought, the thing missing most from my life was both an understanding and acceptance of what it is to be “in relationship to”, whether to others, or to myself. Running away from my individuality was an attempted escape from fear and conflict that I experienced with others.

To be in conflict, both internally and externally, created a desire to move beyond the uncomfortable limits of personhood, and perhaps attracted me to reach for something that relieves the tension and conflict of being-in-relationship. Who wouldn’t enjoy the security and wisdom that an infinite and omniscient being has? A worthy striving, or unstriving, however one imagines the path toward that state of being. And before I understood clearly that there are limits to knowledge, I believed that it was just possible to achieve such a state.

Looking at the mess that being finite, limited individuals has wrought, I wanted something else, some other way to be. But, what if our lives as individuals are God’s idea of extravagance and necessary because relationship is part of the motion of the universe? The mess is okay, but wants something from us.

Many a disillusioned westerner will do anything to run from or disidentify with the mess of the world and especially the burden of history. The danger being to reject western culture without enough reflection to know what is that is being rejected.

And so, a tone of complete rejection of Western culture dominated my thoughts and studies for several years. Little did I understand at the time how common was my thinking even when I was feeling the pangs of my own personhood trying to be born.

The road is long…

Reading Alan Watts gave me a sense that I wasn’t crazy for wanting to know, for wanting more understanding about who and what we are. In his writings I at least found someone who had similar questions about being alive and being human that I had.

In hindsight, the ongoing question that was becoming my life, revolved around questions of or relating to identity, both of self and of things. Somehow I had come to believe that others had a stability in their sense of themselves that I was, for one, both missing and wanting. The feeling of missing some integral part of myself that would make me feel whole, was, as I understand it now, the sickness itself, rather than the fact that I was indeed missing something. Now, I better understand, both in myself, and in others, that missing something, or the lack of feeling whole or complete is part of  the natural state of being. We are beings in flux, that is what time brings.

True wholeness is perhaps static, or maybe divinity itself, where as life as we experience it is flow. Yet, there is something about us that allows for a sense of continuity, forming what we know as our identity. But this sense of ourselves is continually built upon our experiences, churned into memories, by both how and what we remember, images that stick, those non-verbal thingies that come to reside in us. We rely upon our capacity to be conscious of the stream of our lives, yes? Just as our capacity for making choices depends upon how much we can see, from our past and present and imagine as the consequences there of and the options available to us to move on.

The flow that time presents to us, and the movement that the changes of being alive bring in the day to day, I believe, create a tension between the tendency towards a static sense of who we are and the reality of motion and flux that we live in the day to day. We must carry with us some static sense of both who we are and who others are, or nothing could be assumed. I think for awhile, a lack of an ability to make peace with what can be carried forth and what to let go of describes the place I lived. Very scary…

First Grade – by William Stafford

In the play Amy didn’t want to be
anybody; so she managed the curtain.
Sharon wanted to be Amy. But Sam
wouldn’t let anybody be anybody else
he said it was wrong. “All right,” Steve said,
“I’ll be me but I don’t like it.”
So Amy was Amy, and we didn’t have the play.
And Sharon cried.

Amazing Journey Part II

The last day of the last trip to Eliot, Maine, where I spent a week at the Baha’i summer camp, something happened as I was leaving. As I stood looking around the dormitory where I had stayed the past week, I became overwhelmed with a parting sadness. In a completely spontaneous burst of emotion predicated on no particular event, I started crying in way that I never had before. I knew in an instant that I would not return to the camp, ever. I knew, somehow, that my life was about to change, at least the inner life. I could sense the shift even if I could not find words to describe it. I could not stop crying to the point of utter embarrassment.

If I remember correctly, I was in between Junior and Senior year of high school. My senior year was a “do or die” situation as far as school work went. I had squandered my education for the last three years, digging myself into a hole deeper and deeper each year. The only reason I made it out of 11th grade was by the grace of the NY state Regents program and the rules of engagement. After failing every class that year I crammed for the Regents finals the entire month of May, passed all the tests which entitled me to move on to 12th grade. Shortly after I graduated, I heard they had changed the rules and no longer allowed such shenanigans, and perhaps, rightly so.

Anyway, after graduating I began to drift, feeling no sense of direction, and bogged down with self loathing, fear and misery. I felt as if I didn’t get life, as if some common assumption that others were capable of making, allowing them to get up each day and know what to do and what to want, was lost to me.

And drift I did, for several years. But one thing remained true, that I was still on some level wanting to make sense of life, wanting to know everything. Perhaps, not knowing much of anything, I just didn’t know where to start, and so stumbled in and out whatever path I happened to find myself on.

One day, I was in a bookstore and I came across a book with the most curious title “The Book: On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are.” Hmmm, instantly I knew I must read this book. I didn’t know I was going eastward with this read, but certainly if one travels eastward long enough, he will eventually get back to the west.

 Alan Watts, the author, was a former Anglican Priest who had become disillusioned with western culture and began to study eastern thought, from Taoism to Krishnamurti. Many of his books talk about what he calls western man’s split between mind and body. Here is a four-minute sampling of Alan lecturing:  http://www.alanwatts.com/ra/OP_Thinking.mp3

His idea that we are not what we think, nor who we think we are, was enticing to me and spoke to my very lost and restless sense of self and being. So, as is typical of most everything I attend to, I devoured all of his books. I knew he was saying something of importance to me and his ideas helped me to sense that there is a split between one’s inner world, or mind, including all our thoughts, opinions, and intellectual knowledge and the totality of who/what we are.  One cannot ever explain how they manage to beat their own heart. Our mind is but a part of our entire being. Whatever it is that keeps us alive, you know, what a scientist my refer to as homeostasis, is not consciously in our control, thankfully, you might say.

This may seem obvious, but Watts was not convinced that we live as whole beings. He suggests that language has the ability to trick us and split us off from the totality of who/what we are. His primary example, we say we have a body, but really we are a body. So, who is the “I” that has the body? Well, there’s the split, if we mistake the language we use for reality.

Watts seemed to think that western culture, more than other cultures, lives in an unnecessarily psychologically divided way, which keeps one cut off from himself and others in a way that is unhealthy. But as I studied his writings I also studied his life. He struggled with alcoholism, and by some accounts was hell-bent on having out-of-body experiences to the point of obsession. He died at age 58 of heart failure.

Oh no, there’s more?