Take it or leave it.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

CALL ME SIR REAL

Andre Breton, Frenchman and founder of the Surrealist movement of the 1920s, writes: "the human condition is extremely precarious. Anything can go wrong at any time."

The truth of this statement was revealed to me recently at a party. A friend with whom I was conversing was leisurely munching on finger foods when suddenly his front tooth fell out. What an inopportune time to be visited by such catastrophe. He immediately left the party. At any moment we can be besieged by back spasms, the power fails, our computer crashes, we break a leg, etc. Just to name a few of my mishaps.

Ours is a lifespan ridiculously short in light of all we intend to achieve. We submit to a very few simple instincts - namely to eat, drink, sleep, defend and mate - and we do so inexorably. Our power to think we overrate, especially in light of the fact that we so often fall victim to routine, and "we are carefully channeled by society in predefined directions so as to be watched, or else we prefer not to think or to think badly," as when our thought processes are dominated by prejudices and peer pressures, half-truths, unrealistic expectations and imaginary fears.

We lie to ourselves at every turn. We act as though we'll live forever and build castles in the clouds. We ignore the inevitability of our own demise even in the face of a loved one's death. We lose the uniqueness that is our birth right and our own true prize in the mass of uniformity that is public opinion. 

But it doesn't have to be so. We must be like philosophers and seek "to understand nature through ourselves and not ourselves through nature." And do so in all humility. We as humans do not enjoy absolute superiority over all other beings, though it may seem like this to our biased perspective as we dominate the lower animals and exploit the earth's resources. Despite our pretentious views, we are not the world's crowning achievement. The belief that the human species is the ultimate goal of evolution is much too anthropomorphic - like imagining God with a beard and flowing hair. If a bird could speak English and you asked him to describe the Creator, he'd surely tell you about a Supreme Being with wings and a beak.

Instead we must use what little we know of ourselves to "reconnoiter" what surrounds us. And to do so through the intuition which Surrealism purported to uncover. 

Start with automatic writing. Sit down, grab a pen and a scrap of paper, and give free rein to the ideas that come to the surface of your mind. Set them down, however random and disjointed they seem. Don't edit or attempt to make sense of the apparent nonsense that will follow. It will be like a waking dream. See the exercise through. A couple such sessions and you'll have yourself a chapter of a novel, or like me a blog post and a screenplay of questionable merit.

"The human condition is a state of manifestation like any other," as the metaphysician Rene Guenon writes. "It is situated in the place assigned it by its very nature in the hierarchy of degrees of Existence." 

The place we occupy in this universe and on the evolutionary ladder, with its limits, confers on the human neither superiority nor inferiority relative to other creatures. It simply is what it is. We are as we are. Our human-ness acquires for us special importance because we find ourselves in it for this brief span of time allotted to us. Our point of view is relative and contingent on our present mode of manifestation. As human beings we do not occupy a privileged place in the whole of universal Existence relative to other beings, like the tree and the bee. Every being takes itself seriously and is the center of its own world. If you don't believe me just observe your dog delighting in its being-ness. It is that being-ness that is important. And how hard can it be to just be. Really hard, if thoughts get in the way.

Speaking of which: an update on my meditation journey. I am now on day 11 of 100. During this stretch I have not masturbated, because images of fine females flitting through the mind makes it hard to focus on nothing. Besides, as each ejaculate contains between 200 and 500 million sperm, it feels like such a waste of all that energy and all those resources to just spew them out indiscriminately, not to mention cruel. It's life we're talking about here, guys! 

Each meditation consists of sitting cross-legged in front of a candle and staring at the flame as I rid my mind of thoughts for the span of about a half an hour. It's not so much trying not to think as watching calmly as thoughts arise and subside and enjoying the thoughtless space in between, in which you experience pure being, or turiya, as it is called by the ancients. I find it helps to imagine that the candle flame is in me and then that I am the flame, consciousness burning steadily and brightly without the impediment of those breezy gusts of emotion and cerebration. For "first you are in the light; then the light is in you; finally, you are the light and the light is everywhere."

When I began the practice my body would get quite antsy. I'd fidget. My back would tighten up. I'd need to prop myself against the bed to remain erect. My legs would fall asleep, necessitating my recrossing and sometimes straightening them. 

Yet after about a week of practice I can now sit erect without support and sometimes can go the entire half hour without recrossing my legs, although they still often get all tingly. The mind images that arise are fewer and fewer, and subsequent to the meditation there is greater and greater calm. This is an effort, as this beautiful Sanskrit mantra states, to go "from the unreal to the real" - that is, from the world of transient images and sensations to the perfect awareness in which these images appear. The consciousness which is identical to God, and which I AM and YOU ARE! For more on meditation, click here.

I don't know where surrealism fits into all this. I suppose it is not too much of a stretch, in light of my vow of celibacy, to mention the surrealist painter Dali, whose work "The Great Masturbator" is pictured below. But I always enjoy a decent pun so I now call myself "Sir Real."


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