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A Thousand Moments Later—Identity and Isolation

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Below is part of the outline I wrote for the voiceover for my film, A Thousand Moments Later.

Identity and Isolation

  1. a strong sense of self implicitly cuts one off the the others and creates a feeling of isolation.
  2. from here this sense of self becomes rigid. well defined. set in its own ways. Separate. Alone.

In the very process of creating identity is embedded a kind of isolation. That is, when we think “I am” we are carving ourSelf out from all that is not Self.

Not a big deal in most cases but inherent in this is the seed of all our problems and indeed all suffering. Why? Because it is fundamentally a misunderstanding how we actually exist in the world.

No one lives in total isolation. We live in a relation to other people and things. From a Buddhist point of view the conventionally existent self arises in the process of identity and is therefore dependent on the other for its existence. We are and have always been interdependent with all the people and things around us, and this is a good thing.

We are the stories we tell ourselves about ourselves. To some extent we, therefore, are the authors of this story. Not in any new age kind of way but in a very deep philosophical and cognitive way. No you cannot manifest a new car or dream house but, you can change the story you tell yourself about the things that life dishes up. That much is true.

Therefore in order to fully understand and appreciate this way of being we need to ask questions about how we are, not who we are but, how we are – how we exist as a dependent relation.


A Thousand Moments Later—Voiceover Outline

In working on the voiceover for my film, A Thousand Moments Later  and I created this outline as a means of working through, in my head and out loud, the details of what it is that I’d like to say….but from my of a academic point of view. Or perhaps a better way of saying this is, this following outlines points at the meaning behind the voice-over, which I hope is much more beautiful than the following dry academic prose.

Outlines….they are always an interesting exercise. Indeed one of the most enjoyable aspects of writing for me. But it may not make a lot of sense because I write from the outside in. What I mean by this is I take the big picture and whittle my way into the details. This means that this kind of outline is both very important to my process, and never really a completed document. It has a life of it’s own and grows and chances constantly. Therefore, it may not make a great deal of sense to anyone but me.

Sorry for that. Still, I thought it might be interesting to someone out there. So here it is.

Each part reflects a section from the film. Making somewhat of a loose argument and expressing in it’s entirety the thesis and theme of the film.

  1. Self and Isolation
    1. a strong sense of self implicitly cuts one off the the others and creates a feeling of isolation.
    2. from here this sense of self becomes rigid. well defined. set in its own ways. Separate. Alone.
  2. Relation and The Other
    1.  When self is seen within the context of a relation a certain cognitive process can take place – what Martin Buber called the “I” “It” relation.
    2. (If viewed incorrectly ) Inherent in this relation is two seperate identities viewed as alone and wholly seperate. Me here; you over there.
    3. This leads to a kind of tension explicit in the division of the two.
    4. This then deepens the rigid sense of self as a seperate “thing” with it’s own likes and dislikes that are owned by only itSelf.
    5. When these are left unfulfilled tension implicit in this relation solidifies into resentment.
  3. Self & Other/Mereology
    1. But when two separate selves are viewed as something bigger than mere singles entities something else happens. This is technically name mereology — place enough timber together and in the right order and you can have a chair.
    2. What is it that gives rise to the feeling that we are greater than ourselves?
    3. What is it that creates this larger entity. When does a bunch of sticks become a chair?
    4. Clearly it is us that decides.
    5. But this choice to couple two person together and call it something else gives rise to a feeling of togetherness.
    6. And this is a conscious choice.
  4. Shared Identity & Eudaemonia.
    1. With a sense of you are bigger than yourSelf come a sense of well being.
    2. This comes because you are no longer focused on yourSelf.
    3. You begin to focus on this shared identity rather than just your own perspective.
    4. The mind become larger, wider, deeper.
  5. Dependence & Imbalance
    1. But if this shared identity is taken to be the source of happiness for oneSelf then there is an cognitive imbalance. That is to say, a sense of well-being can come from a shared identity but not always.
    2. This belief will grow into a feeling of dependence. As if your happiness is dependent on this thing that is separate from you.
    3. When this is done you’ve in effect created a self identity and thus another “I” and “It”. Only the “It” is the relation itself and not another person.
    4. This happens mostly at a level of consciousness that is below ordinary thinking. At a feeling tone. Something spoken without words.
    5. At this point it has turned dysfunctional. That is, the shared identity is no longer shared and as a result it has broken down.
  6. Loss of Self (Control)
    1. Implicit in this feeling of dependence is a feeling of a lack of control – as if one’s Self is dependent on this shared identity for it’s existence.
    2. From there feelings of losing yourSelf arise.
    3. And from there ridigness and confusion
    4. Blaming the other for this loss of control may arise because the subtle shift from shared identity, to imbalance, to dysfunction was not noticed.
    5. This can result in one lashing out at the perceived source of misery.
    6. Removing oneSelf from the experience is the only option.
  7. We Always Have Choice
    1. There is in fact little one can do at this point.
    2. Something must change. Something will change. Whether you want it to or not.
    3. In the end the only thing you can do is choice. Not making a choice is still a choice. It is a choice to act in the same dysfunctional manner you’ve been doing so far.
    4. So you must be brave, believe in your own potential, and jump.
    5. What is this jump? It is the simple act of choosing.
    6. If you want to be alone, choose that.
    7. If you want a sense of togetherness and well-being that is greater than oneSelf, choose that.
    8. But to do so one must redefine love as something that you give rather than something you get if a shared identity is to remain in balance and this requires a conscious ongoing choice to give.
    9. Therefore, in the end, to love, is to choice to love.

(In Buddhism love is defined as an aspiration or wish that one or many have happiness and it’s causes. It is therefore something we give and thus a very different way of viewing “love.” )

This is a working document. It may change over time. And I may in fact create articles for each section.


All This Rawness

There are times when things feel so dark, so black, that there is no coming out the mess. And yet there is. There is always a way forward. A way to make sense of this world. This life. And that way is art. Pick something up. Create. Feel. Love. Be. For if you are not brave enough to feel life as it is with all its rawness how will you helps others remove themselves from the quicksand of Samsara?


We Carry with Us

We all carries with us the potential for being wild.

Is this a good thing? Well, if we are creators then why not?!

Why is it that being wild equals being destructive? Why not take those impulses that make you feel like cutting loose and translating them into work that can help the world evolve?

I believe this can and should happen. I believe it is important for my own well being and those around me to continue to make stuff.

What if, instead of the following the fear of the “what ifs” and instead we made stuff anyways?

I leave you with that to ponder.


Darkness is important as it reveals the light

Everyone, at some point, feels a little down. It is simply a part of the human condition. We should stop telling ourselves that it’s somehow bad to have these moments. Physical pain is a way of your body telling you that something is wrong. Like that, these moments are pregnant with information that reveal what is wrong from another, and deeper, level.

Now, what I am not saying is that we need to feel sadness in order to feel happiness. No.

What I am saying though is when or if you do feel down do not be so quick to move from that place as it is the source of great insight into the human condition – into your personal condition. We are all different in this regard. Only you can know what your condition is like. Only you can see it. Therefore only you can fix it. Others can help but in the end only you can fix yourself.

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So, next time you feel down do not distract ourself with some meaningless activity. Don’t just go and do something, anything, in order to make yourself feel better, or at least not feel bad. Instead use that time wisely. Spend some time in that place. Sitting quietly watching the feelings. It might reveal something. But be gentle while there for it’s a fragile space and one must be careful. Look too closely and the feeling will dissolve. Don’t look at all and knowledge will not reveal itself.

Overtime and with practice I promise it becomes easier.

 


Getting Stuck

I’m sitting in front of my computer trying to find something to write about. I’m feeling blank. Slept badly, I guess. Is this writers block? No…I don’t believe in writers block. But I do believe that ideas need time to appear. And that sometimes, but not always, they appear when we simply let go. There we are! There’s the idea for today. And that is, the notion of letting go and it’s opposite of trying to hard.

Letting go is also a practice. It can be scary and thrilling. But it is without a doubt a useful skill to acquire. Letting go lets me get unstuck. As it did just then…Letting go is the releasing of conscious effort and just seeing what happens. Some people like to plan. Sometimes this is good. But it can also lead to a rigidity in thought and outlook. When you see yourself getting stuck…let go! let go! let go! Trust me it will be worth it.


Silence is a Practice

Silence is something I’ve cherished over the years. It was hard to find at times. Something I longed for when I could not find it – as if life was out of focus. I’m not talking about the silence of sitting alone. I’m talking about the silence of a still mind.

Why was this? How is it that this kind of silence can be so hard to find? Surely it’s a matter of going into a room alone and sitting there watching your own breathing. Meditate for 5 minutes at your desk during a lunch break. There is your silence you might retort.

Well, here is the thing: Some days are too busy; some too slow. And we are often left in the middle, balancing on the edge between stress and boredom, ever aware we are falling left or right. So it’s a balancing act. This is the practice. Yes.

Now, if you have family or a partner then double the issues that prevent balance. Culture, lineage, and idiosyncrasies couple together to make the practice even more difficult.

Or do they?

Perhaps we can learn from each other. Working together and learning from issues of culture, how you were raised, or those “little things” that make you, you…or your partner, them. Working together as a team to create an environment where the practice is rewarded, not judged. Where silence is not a form of punishment but a practice worth cultivating.

But it is true that silence that is a lack of noise is needed at first in order to create silence of mind. Don’t conflate the two but do know that one is needed for the other to be practice.


The Power of Introspection

Introverts are not shy. Not always. How do I know? I’m one. And I’m not shy.

You can google Myers Briggs test, and do the test. It was helpful to me. I hope it is for you as well.

But what I wanted to say to you today is this: introvert or extrovert; these are mere orientations. Know this. Understand this. From understanding come unerstanding. When integrated into your own life it becomes wisdom. Wisdom and skill can then be used to help ourselves and those around us have better lives. Lead better lives.

Introspection couple with a basic curiosity will lead you evolve. Of this I have little doubt because I’ve seen it. The human condition is not fundamentally stable. We can change; we do change. Healing is the result.

 

 


Hiding?

Day two of this new daily blog practice. Yes it is a practice.

I’ve been reading, or more correctly listening to Seth Godin a bit over the last few days. Turns out he is much more than just a business marketing guy. He cares about the world and more importantly, people. I like this about him. And he has some interesting ideas about our future too. That is why I was listening.

Indeed, Seth is the reason why I am trying (again) to reboot writing here. See, over the years I have written long posts about philosophy, short ones about life, and all shade in-between. Nothing felt right. I did not know why. Which is probably why it never really lasted.

And he did not tell me anything I did not know already in his talks but he did point out something that was slightly hidden. And that is the degree to quite I hide. Hide from myself. From others. Those l love and love me back. What makes us do this? White knight syndrome perhaps?

How Seth pointed it out was this. “whenever you find yourself scared by doing something you are on to something. Make a ruckus!” Simple. Straight forward. And missed my many…including myself for many years. It’s vague enough to be inserted back into the readers life as they see meaningful. I did just that.

Firstly, here is why I missed it (in part). I am not afraid of most things. Change? No problem. Uncertainty? Nope! The unknown? Never – I have got on a plane and left Australia without much of a plan several times in my life and enjoyed that feeling.  Not for a holiday with money in the bank but with almost nothing. Because of this I’ve always thought myself quite robust in this regard. I’ve started projects time and time again with a real fear it might not work out but I’ve done it because I had to see for myself. I believed in an idea and myself enough to at least try, and when it failed (as most have) I have picked myself up off the floor, learning something from the process, and tried again.

But I wrongly assumed I did not suffer at all from the type of fear Seth was talking about.  No. For it is scary to be vulnerable in front of another. Indeed in front of you. But if we do not do this are we really leading a full life? I’ve banged on about leading a good life for years. Turns out I was hiding from it all along. Now comes the work.

 

 

 


Finding Time to be Quiet
HHDL thanka

Screenshot from a video I made years back while in India doing my PhD.

Today I feel like writing. I woke this morning feeling good.

I sat in front of my computer. Turned to youtube trying to find inspiration with a Seth Godin interview someone tweeted. But in the end all I was left with was a headache and a feeling that I am not honest enough to have anyone take me serious. It’s a depression place to be in. I mean I believe in myself. I feel like I can make art that people are interested in seeing, hearing. reading.

Finding time to be quiet will always make me a better man.

Clarke