“… we must know first that our acts are useless and yet we must proceed as if we didn’t know it. That’s a sorcerer’s controlled folly.”
- Don Juan in Carlos Castaneda’s A Separate Reality
I’ve been involved in a forum discussion about the subjective reality mindset and how those who hold it avoid succumbing to meaninglessness. I thought I’d try to flesh out my latest response and share it here, for my own reference if nothing else.
In this discussion, I started out by wondering how, if reality is subjective and we can shape it as we wish (once we become aware of this), a slide into apathy and meaninglessness can possibly be avoided. For if meaning can be given to anything, doesn’t everything become meaning-less? In the same way that a backdrop of darkness is required for us to see the stars, not-meaning is requisite for meaning.
Others replied with variations on the following theme: there is no meaning outside ourselves, so it is up to us to assign meaning however we choose. Meaning is not intrinsic but bestowed.
The other contributors found this to be a freeing, positive discovery, but I found it pretty depressing. If nothing means anything, then what’s the point of it all? I was interested in the subjective reality and intention-manifestation paradigms, but I could go no further without running into a brick wall of solipsism.
But what if meaning is still “real” even if it’s under our control as opposed to something that arises externally?
In this scenario, we can apply the pleasing glow of meaning to anything we like. What’s to stop us, then, from choosing to see everything as meaningful? We could simply sit cross-legged on a mountain or park bench, in a state of constant enlightenment and self-contained bliss. Hmmm. Is that it, then? Is that all there is to achieve? Is that the ultimate state of existence? It seemed kind of anti-climactic.
But then I [my ego] [thought it] realized something – it’s all just shadows on the cave wall. ALL of it – enlightenment, the best ASC ever, cosmic consciousness, et cetera. Everything that we experience – what I will call Stuff – is not the real thing itself, but it flows from the Thing and is an expression of the Thing that is behind all we are able to perceive directly. By participating in the flow of Stuff-experience, we too are an expression of the Thing and that is the point of it all. Maybe.
I have a feeling that, whatever the Thing may be, it is saying something and by playing its game and engaging with life with a view to developing our consciousnesses, we can help it articulate itself more clearly. Maybe this is controlled folly. Existence is, in a way, illusory, but we have to exist anyway because there’s something bigger going, something we can’t quite grasp but can sometimes sense.
“One must always choose the path with heart in order to be at one’s best, perhaps so one can always laugh.”
- Don Juan
(Alternatively, forget all of the above and go watch videos of cats. They’re not worrying about the meaning of life, so why should we?)
- I am not talking about the movie. It’s not bad, though.
- I am out and proud about using the Oxford comma (see headline).
Picture from Subtle Energy Solutions