Monday, March 02, 2009


Life is what happens while you are making other plans.
When I first heard that little cliché I thought, yeah sure, I know that. Still I went on making plans. Silly me.
Now I find that the older I get the less I know and life keeps going on with or without my approval.
All of which leads me to wonder.
Is it me?
Or is it a recording of me?

When the film The Matrix came out, I noticed that a lot of people were all agog at the concept the film introduced. I have been reading Science Fiction since I was 12 so the idea was not startling to me. In fact it was rather ho-hum and, to me, not very well done. It was rather cartoonish, not at all the kind of science fiction that I enjoy. Still, the movies did introduce an alternative way of thinking into people, worrisome though it may be to think we are really controlled by some kind of super computer. For perhaps a nano-second or so, people had a look at their concept of themselves and wondered – am I real? The thought did not last long, in part because it is not at all safe for the psyche to think in this way. I seriously doubt that this thought was more then a momentary blip in the consciousness of most people who saw the movies. It would be there and then they would settle back into their normal state of being, studiously ignoring the small voice within saying, "What if it's real?" It's not real, but it is an interesting metaphor describing what is real.
If we are paying any kind of attention, we have a problem, a quandary. On one hand we have our personal life to live and, to our individual consciousness, it is of supreme importance. On the other hand we are aware, to a greater or lesser degree, that life does go on, whether we pay attention or not; whether we even exist or not. This paradox is probably the source of most of our deeper anxieties and is also the probable source of many of our conflicts with one another.

One of the great consolations of any religion is being told that you are privy to a wonderful secret that only the few are allowed to discover. This is even truer in esoteric groups. We are told that we are special; even though a part of the doctrine will be that we are not. It is another paradox. I suspect that a subconscious reason for this kind of thing is what I mentioned above; the sneaking suspicion that we do not matter at all and therefore must find a reason to matter; just as in the movie The Matrix. This is silly.

We each of us matters because each one of us individually has our own peculiar relationship with the Universe as well as our own particular collection of experiences and attitudes. We are each unique and the Universe needs each and every one of us to understand itself. Never the less, because of the apparent size of things, we continue to wonder if we really matter. So what can we do to counteract this suspicion of ours? The intellect won't do it because an honest person always suspects what the intellect tells him. The emotions won't do it because the fear of being wrong is always there. What will work?

I have been trying to think how it is that I have no problem with the idea that I matter. All I can think of is that it was a gradual realization. Some of it comes from deep meditation but perhaps more comes from observation of how I have changed over the past 30 years. So, once again we come to the conclusion that what really works, in almost every endeavor to understand ourselves and our environment, is simply paying attention. Constantly asking yourself what you are doing, not why, just what, why comes out of what. The problem with why is the possibility of self deception and that blocks realization. Just ask yourself what you are doing at any given moment and something happens inside that I cannot quite explain but it's a good thing.

Love & Blessings, Musawwir


Jello Dean said...

To me, The Matrix is the technological version of the concept that the world we perceive is a projection emanating from a reality that is quite different.

Then some Manichean Dualism is stirred in to make it an adventure story and a hero's journey. We humans seem to enjoy that.

Anonymous said...

Reality is what we believe to be real. Not more, not less!

Musawwir said...

My use of The Matrix as an example was really just a way of getting into the core of the idea. Consider the next two paragraphs instead.

Abi-Ru Shirzan said...

When I was teaching Plato's Parable of the Cave, I also showed *The Matrix* in class. (The filmmakers, from what I have read, were also philosophy students.)

Attention is a good way in. There are different ways of paying attention, I believe, and different "things" to which attention can be paid. We can become immersed in the environment or one aspect of it. We can turn our attention inward so that we are oblivious to the environment. Sometimes the flame of a candle is all that there is. Sometimes the curtain catches on fire and we are so focused on a task that we do not notice. As you point out, there is not a single way to hear the whisper of a single Secret.

On the other hand, just as in the children's game of "telephone," the whisper we pass on to someone else may be based on a partial or a personal truth. There may be distractions in the environment that interfere with communication, or there may be a problem with the listener's listening--or the whisperer's whispering.

As you have mentioned, the ability to be at ease with paradox is probably of great help. Understanding that we are both nothing and everything, both plugged into every detail of the Universe and a Universe unto ourselves.

Lots of people I know have taught themselves to despise the scriptures used to torment them when they were young, but I have to say I still find them helpful. Relevant to this discussion, I think, is Psalm 8.

"When I consider Thy heavens, the work of Thy fingers, the moon and the stars that Thou hast ordained,

What is man that Thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that Thou art with him?

For Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour."

There's the paradox, beautifully expressed. That works for me.