I strongly feel that since the last lunar eclipse at 21/1 constantly things are happening that upset us, coming as if we need to look through new lenses at our own positions and behaviours in situations that are happening to us.
I mainly write by listening to personal and collective experiences that they are occurring during the same period and relate to the same or similar issues. Of course everyone's experience is unique and I trust that everyone connects to and gets what they need from whatever is happening around them.
Over the last few days I have been noticing the difficulty that people have in regards to dependence on and independence from something, this may be a habit, e.g. the use of substances or on someone, e.g. a relationship, etc.
I think that for whatever people do-even destructive things -there is a reason behind it.
We satisfy a desire, a need, a 'want', we respond to an emotional state or to an external stimulus etc. A well-known example is when we feel sadness or loneliness that, in order to feel better or to ' fill the void ', we may eat something specific that will 'fill us up' like a pizza or a chocolate. Likewise, if we had a difficult and stressful day we might afterwards want to drink alcohol or smoke to calm down and relax.
I do not attach any particular value or judgement to the examples and habits I am using here. We all do the best we can at any given time.
So to the extent that we systematically connect an emotional state or stimulus with a specific response or action, then a dependent relationship is being created. Clearly there are levels of dependency as well as different ways such as physical, emotional etc.
So this relationship serves a function, it offers something to the person to continue living his life as he thinks best. If this relationship is disturbed, then the person may feel confused and possibly seek to create another similar relationship with something or someone else.
In the case of an addictive relationship between people, we see people being attracted to and constantly creating relationships with people who bare similar characteristics (of course they are not the same people). In these relationships, the role they may take, the outcome of the relationship and how they may feel in the relationship may constitute a familiar field that offers them a sense of security, intimacy and certainty not only for themselves but also for their lives in general.
A somewhat addictive relationship may be the relationship of parents with their children since children in a young age depend on their parents for their survival. If such relationship continues on a practical and emotional level from both sides when children reach adulthood then it can become problematic mainly for the children because it will be difficult for them to become adults.
We often use the term 'independence' to describe adulthood, implying essentially that we were once addicted to something and now we want to become independent, i.e. to acquire more, if not absolute, freedom of movement, away from the necessity of the relationship and its cause and effect, i.e. we have a need and we wait for the other to fulfil it for us or wait for the other to make us feel good or in a particular way.
I think that this is one of the most difficult tasks in a man's life, not so much for the impossibility of completing it as for the degree of its complexity. It requires from people to realise what kind of relationships they are forming, the effects of their relationships in their lives, whether they the power and the resources necessary to change them, the possible impact of changes on others, the carving and defining of a new, unknown path to what independence is for them and, finally, walking this path with the hardships and successes, with the joys and fears they may experience.
But what is essentially independence?
We have already seen how it relates to dependence, constituting its opposite pole as to the possibility or not of making free choices.
But could it be a continuous, life-lived situation in a society?
Part of becoming an adult (at least according to psychotherapy) is the acceptance and pursuit of interdependence. If we think about it in its most practical form, we find that daily we depend on others for our food (cultivation, harvesting, distribution, cooking), our hygiene (garbage collection, doctors, etc.), our health and so on. Everyone serves a -as equal in my eyes- function as part of a whole, similar to the organs, muscles, bones, blood, veins etc in ones body that work together in collaboration for its well function and well-being.
The same is the case for everything we consider a whole with consisting parts such as a family, a tribe, a society, a city, a country, a continent, a planet and so on.
In psychological (and spiritual terms) the 'dependent' and 'independent' positions are the same as the 'child' or 'parent' positions in the sense that they describe unilaterally a complex situation, man himself and how she lives her life. The 'interdependence' and the position of the 'adult' -again in my own eyes- offer the empirical possibility and, therefore, the space of freedom for all of us to be one or the other, sometimes providers, sometimes receivers, sometimes children, sometimes parents, sometimes supportive, sometimes being supported.
We might be doing it already , but we might not realising it and let alone admit it.
An important prerequisite is the agreement that we all play the same game...
My New Self
If you have read my previous articles, you have already found out my interest in the concept and experience of self. What do we mean when we say self and how this can affect how we finally experience and act our lives?
Let us think of the conscious part of ourselves as the driver of a car. The car itself can be our body, our life and whatever we consider to be part of us and we can control it.
This car has a certain shape, colour, size, characteristics etc. and for what we know it is we have corresponding thoughts, emotions and judgements. In other words, the driver may like the car's colour and that it goes fast, but he may not like that it is making noise and requires frequent checks. He may like that it is small and elegant but may not to like that it does not accelerate fast enough and can not reach high speeds.
Imagine how emotions, thoughts and behaviours get complicated when the drivers start comparing themselves and their cars with each other. One goes faster than the other, one is prettier than the other, one is more powerful than the other etc, consequently one driver can go faster to overtake the other, he may feel that his car is less attractive from another, that it is more defective or, on the contrary, that he has got the most beautiful, the more functional etc.
The car allows the driver to go faraway places that might not have gone otherwise, to do new things, to see new landscapes, to have new experiences etc.
At the same time the car due to its specific form has limitations in size, colour, horsepower etc. which affect both the driver and his behaviour, he has specific space to move, specific maximum speed to reach etc.
If a driver thinks he has a 'jalopy' that is not beautiful, does not go fast, is not big enough and does not have much space to move himself in, then he will always go slowly, envy the other cars that go faster and would be upset that does not have the same beautiful car. Perhaps again he will not to do any of them and enjoy the slower journey and what he can see at a low speed, to use to the maximum of the space he has to move, rejoice that exists and moves etc.
Now think about the possibility of the driver getting out of the car and while the car continues moving on the auto pilot, to go and sit in a tree, walk in the woods, swim in the sea, climb a mountain. Imagine the difference in experience, sensations, abilities, images and contact with other stimuli.
That's the difference between who we think we are and who we truly are. We have learned to be the drivers of a particular car that takes one route, with specific speed, specific characteristics etc. and therefore the possibilities for another experience are being limited based on our specifications and perceptions of our car. As souls, however, we have greater possibilities of experience.
How many times have we not finally accomplished something that short before we thought we couldn't? How many times have we found (in meditation or elsewhere) a moment of inner peace when all around us was stress and pressure? How many times have we not cried from joy, we have not fought our joy and we have not enjoyed our sorrow?
If, even a little, it resonates with you that we are essentially intangible, then the forms that the soul can take are infinite within a finite body.
So what do we gain by staying at the wheel of a car that restricts us or is full of dirt or does not allow us to do what we want to do?
What is the attachment to the 'I am this', 'I do that', 'this is how I want things to be' versus the flow of 'I am this and the other', 'I do this and that', 'I was that and now I am different' ?
With love and appreciation,
Experience and Knowledge
In my previous article I mainly discussed the use of knowledge as to how we relate with the world and ultimately with who we are. But I felt that I did not speak enough about the relationship between experience and who we are. Allow me the 'obsession for the detail', but I consider this a very important matter conceptually because to a certain extent it describes the 'lens' or the method through which everyone gets to know and experiences oneself and consequently the world.
If we accept my hypothesis, the knowledge that we have about the world and about ourselves derives from all the information and experiences we have about them and relate mainly to the past. We are waiting for specific things to happen and anticipate how we should feel and act in certain circumstances. To a large extent it is a cerebral process that defines what we are and what we are not, what we like and what we do not like, what is good for us and what is not, what should be done and what not.
In this light the significance of the experience lies in the surprise (sur + prise), that is, which takes us out of boredom and the expected. When we expect to have a specific feeling, to do something in a certain way, something specific to happen as it has been in the past, the occurrence of something different surprises us, it moves us and invites us to see things differently and effectively allow ourselves to experience something new.
Of course, when something new happens or happens as we do not expect it, we feel insecure, our world a little shaken and the feel we have for ourselves a bit unsettling. What was familiar and part of our daily routine has now been moved, like the house where we live suddenly from white turns into green and we want time and energy to understand the change, manage it and incorporate the findings to a new set and to a new self.
A typical example is when fall in love where we do and say things that are not exactly in our "character", we are in a constant vigilance and excitement and we live it all in the superlatives, we find ourselves to be different, 'greater' and having different abilities than we already know. I have intention to analyse the situation and the imaginary of love here, but I wanted to bring him as an example of how the experiences of different emotional situations, leads to new paths of existence and understanding of ourselves and of the world.
If we expose ourselves to truly unknown situations that attract us and feel the emotions (whatever they are, fear, agony, longing, emptiness, completeness, etc.) that are created, then we may come to a shocking conclusion, that we are not who we thought we were. And by extension, that we do not know everything about ourselves, that we do not know much about others and about the world, that what we consider ourselves is much more fluid and flexible than we think.
It is one thing to understand such truths with the mind and another to understand them with the heart. Without giving precedence to either one, a truth is assimilated throughout when assimilated by the entire organism. I have felt deeply the agony of experiencing oneself once as strong and specific and once as faint and vague that diminishes and extends in moments.
For me this is one of the greatest and most beautiful challenges of life, that the absolute stability we seek in order to feel complete and whole is a utopia, is essentially the incentive to continue to evolve and to grow. In order for this to happen we need a 'vehicle', a self that is much more subtle and flexible than a specific set of rules and aspirations for how one should be, how others and life should also be.
Converse frankly with people who have lost someone in their early life or who are long term sick or who have had very painful experiences. For any such experience you need to break a full circle, a familiar figure that a man used to have in his life in order to incorporate the new information into a new reality and self.
The denial, the pain, the egoism of 'Why me?' and at the same time the awe, gratitude, enthusiasm, humility, and union are only a few stages of acceptance of every change.
These are not easy lessons, but yes we have the ability to take them as long as we surrender to what is greater than us and through us expresses and is being expressed, exists and creates.
Knowledge and Experience
This text is about a topic that often appears in my mind and I hear people talk about it very often lately.
The Western lifestyle is based to a large extent on the importance of knowledge. We go to universities to study, we do retraining, we read books, we go to lectures, or we don't do any of that because we know enough and we don't want to know any more.
Acquiring knowledge helps us to find, maintain and evolve into a job, to become important on the area of our choice, to better understand how this complex field that we call the world, human beings, human societies, animal kingdoms, machinery, universe, etc.operate.
But what is knowledge really? In science, philosophy, art and various practices, knowledge is collected or created by continuous observation, testing (experiment) and application. It is the distillate of an active, systematic process that essentially what is collected as information becomes a base, an axiom, an organized information system.
Based on this information (sensory and cognitive) and its evaluation we interpret and relate with the world. For example, we know that if we put our hand on a very hot object, it will burn. So to some extent we know that we and the world operate in certain ways, the ones that the knowledge suggests.
With knowledge to a great extent we have managed to control ourselves (diseases etc) and the world (weather conditions etc). It gives us the ability and the power to predict the results of acts and conditions in order to act in the best possible way for our benefit, initially to survive and consequently to live in the way that everyone chooses to live.
But what is knowledge than processed experience?
Before the organized knowledge systems (schools, universities, colleges, institutions, etc.) people had direct experience with their environment. Knowledge was verbal and was transferred through direct experience. For example, if a father wanted to teach his child or someone else in the community how to hunt in order to feed the family, then he would take him hunting and teach him the ways he knew, regardless of how successful they were. If there was no father, then someone experienced and knowledgeable from the community would teach the nascent hunter.
Knowledge has clearly released many possibilities and people have access to information that would previously be impossible to learn. My intention here is not to demonise knowledge, but in the light of the vast field of life to explore the question about the relationship between experience and knowledge.
Knowledge is primarily related to the mind in the sense that the complex and computational abilities and functions of the mind are needed for the processing of complex information. For example, if we want to achieve a certain result then we need to collect and apply specific knowledge, that is, ways, ideas and actions to achieve it.
In contrast or better complementary experience is more related to the heart, to the unknown, to the confidence in something new. The experience surprises because it does not concern both the expected and the known but the unknown and the new, something that does not exist as information.
In the above example for achieving a goal, if the applied knowledge, does not bring the desired result, then we need to update it, to seek new information that will help us towards our goal.
A more concrete example, if we have an interview for a job that we want to have, then we can prepare for it by studying, reading, working our levels of stress and self-confidence to increase the possibilities to get it. Clearly there are factors that are beyond our control, such as the fact that we do not know who else is candidates for the position, what are the selection criteria etc.
No matter how much knowledge we have acquired previously, if during our interview we do not apply or do not know how to answer a question or have a stress on us, then the outcome of the interview will not be the desired. That is, the very experience of the interview shows whether we have implemented what we have learned or need to learn about ourselves and the world to finally achieve our goal.
If we extend this thought to the whole field of life, then we realize that knowledge succeeds in the constant relationship of application and feedback (we experience, learn, experience, etc.). The expectation of a certain result from people, relationships, life, etc. arises from the mechanical perception of the world that it functions and behaves in a certain way, the one we know, suits us and makes us feel good etc. For example, it's like we expect that vendors in a pastry shop should always be smiling with everyone, ignoring that they might be experiencing a loss or something difficult that is not fitting to our own state or expectation.
Of course we all have desires for how we want things to be, but that does not mean that things will be as we want them to be.
The experience involves to some extent a 'letting go' into the unknown, that something may happen in an experiment or in an interaction that we had not thought about or predicted before or that is not in line with the expectation we had about ourselves and the world.
And there the 'miracle' begins, the contact with a greater field of knowledge (and experience) that transcends what we already know about ourselves and life and invites us (without necessarily being easy) to something bigger (higher self, spirituality, god you choose the name).
For some people this development, becoming their 'higher' version that combines the unknown, joy and wisdom is a way and purpose of life, for some others there is nothing but what they already know and have experienced.
This is yet another personal choice..