Stuck on Start

It’s odd that self-exploration is a thing. We literally explore every aspect of ourselves. What’s it like to be human? How does this feel? Why does it feel that way? How do I control this crazy contraption? Why am I thinking these thoughts? How do I better align with my circumstances?

We’re not immersed in the game of life, we’re still stuck staring at the piece we’re playing as. Why is it this color? Why this shape? What moves can I make? What effect do other players’ pieces have? Is it my turn? Can I go yet? It’s strange to feel like you’re still on start, waiting for the opportunity to begin.

But we don’t want to mess up, do we? We have to find our groove though. Just move forward and let the chips fall where they may. Yet we’ve no idea what to do with ourself, no direction in which to head. Although, a game is a simple affair, just rolling dice and proceeding on a preset path. Just take your turn, move forward one space at a time.

I suppose that’s all we can do, move ahead one step at a time. But it’s not enough to mechanically move, we must lose ourself in the game’s narrative, pretending we’ve got a vested interest in our progress. It’s just a lighthearted investment though, like any game of pretend, we simply perform as our character.

P.S. Yet who’s to say humanness isn’t a path in and of itself? Traveling the far reaches of the globe or traveling the far reaches of the mind, it’s all exploration, an activity to occupy our attention. All this time you’ve imagined yourself stuck on start, but you’ve been playing all along, the inner mystery is just part of the fun.

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Cultivating Consciousness

We spend so much time thinking about being a human-being rather than focusing on the tasks before us. Some might say to ignore this chatter, dismiss the navel-gazing and maintain focus on the physical aspects of life. Yet what’s more human than getting lost in consciousness? We’re fascinated by our own reflection.

And really, how interesting is the process of mechanically masticating our meals? The physical things we do everyday are basic and repetitive, it’s the accompanying narratives and the interactions with our companions that makes all the difference. Activities are mere filler until our observing-mind assigns the meaning.

But, a ceaseless stream of unfiltered data also flows through our mind — and the observing part of our mind must deliberately evaluate this data. For instance, when we sense an undesirable mood forming, we must mark the offending thought as unwelcome and minimize it within our mind. With practice the process gets easier and automatic.

So no, I don’t believe we need to stop staring at ourselves. Consciousness is not the problem, it’s our careless handling of the incoming data that gets us into trouble. For example, if we tried to begin a garden and let every weed grow unchecked, our garden would be in shambles. Likewise, we need to prune the mind of pestilent thoughts.

The way we know something happened is because we witness it — in other words, consciousness is the witness of our life. Consciousness therefore, is not a burden that gets in the way of living, but the very process that proves we exist. Our difficulty with life does not stem from our self-awareness, but from our mismanagement of this awareness.

Decay is an effortless force in life. Leave something alone and the landscape will consume it. Memories for instance, are maintained by repeated recall — to stop a memory, refuse its rumination. Structure, on the other hand, does require effort. If we want a satisfied mind we must endeavor to cultivate such a state.

Life Is

What is life? Life is challenge. Life is stress. Life is emotion. Life is pain. Life is labor. Life is beauty. Life is flavor. Life is laughter. Life is love. Life is creation. Do you see? Life is activity. Life is the focus of all our attention.

Interest requires impermanence. Life is what it is because that’s what holds our attention. You’ve noticed your consciousness of course, the part of you that observes your life. What an exciting show you’re privy to. Anything less than this attention-grabbing spectacle would bore you to tears.

Your consciousness can get confused though, believing itself the originator of action instead of the observer. This confusion can create disappointment — but don’t worry, you can get back on track. There’s nothing that needs to be done externally, it’s just some simple steps on the inside.

What it takes, is repeatedly reminding yourself, your consciousness, that you’re not in control here. Think of life as a story that’s already been written, you’re just following along. And from there, embrace and appreciate the story.

Whatever happens is just part of the story, and you the consciousness get to decide how to interpret life’s plot. You get to assign the labels, calling things funny or sad, good or bad. With this power, you decide the nature of your story, whether gloomy, comical, uplifting, or whatever.

Keep in mind that this is only a virtual realm comprised of temporary illusions. The images formed in our thoughts are interpretations not facts. Everything that enters existence is destined to exit. With this outlook we keep ourselves from clinging to what’s not really there.

Enjoy the story as you would any story. Simply maintain your awareness during intense times to ease anxiety. Let life tell its story, wait and see how it ends — life controls the body and its outcome — as the observer, watch patiently and politely.

Uneven Layers

In reference to the 4 layers of life, it seems as though most of my time is spent on the layer of consciousness. I don’t really appreciate the other layers, and tend to complain when directly engaged with them.

My vehicle is a small economical model that’s not much to look at. It runs okay but won’t win any races. I’m not big on upkeep, so it’s a little messy and has its dings. I don’t like taking it out because it just gets overrun by the more aggressive vehicles and frankly I just don’t like driving.

As a citizen, I barely register, figuratively and literally. I study how societal systems operate and maintain an awareness of current events, but I lack interest in direct participation. I see flaws and malfunctioning everywhere on this layer and find it difficult to grasp from a purely logical perspective.

As a human-being, I tend to lack interest in empathy and compassion — it’s a difficult layer due to my pessimistic nature, because if I look around I tend to see and imagine all the suffering of others, so it’s a bit much to reconcile. In some ways though, I’ve grown more fond of this layer over time.

As an observer, I sit and contemplate life. This is where I’m comfortable. But if the other layers didn’t exist, I’d have nothing to think about, nothing I could relate to. Because I have all the experiences and faculties of humanness, I have plenty of fodder for thought.

Conscious Questions

Is there a spectrum of consciousness? In other words, do some identify more as a passively observing witness while others identify more as an active earth-bound creature?

Do some perceive life as an artificial role to play, going through the motions of existence while having an underlying sense of not being who they appear to be?

Do some not question what they are, but understand themselves to be solely the role they portray, perceiving life as the summation of sensory input?

Do those with a dominant consciousness have trouble acting out their part and attempt to remain on the sidelines? Are those with minimal consciousness flung about by stimuli and whim?

Awake at Night

Late at night when I’ve been sitting for a couple of hours, disconnected from daily living, I oftentimes develop a hyper-awareness. No earthly entanglements distracting the mind, just pure consciousness, no body within its surroundings, just drifting thought.

And in this state, I sense a wisdom I’m not privy to during other times. If I was concerned or confused about something, I’m no longer concerned or confused. In the form of thought or written word, separated from the physical, answers appear as if from within.

In the daytime, while engaged with daily tasks, my mind is befuddled by life. I’m drawn far away from this inner self, influenced by impulses, no longer the essence of understanding. So many times, as the day begins and draws me in, I forget the wisdom and tranquility I discovered in the solitude of the quiet night.

Compromise of Consciousness

Within our thoughts, we’re so often confused by life’s outcomes. And within our body, urges often drive us to do the undesirable. So reason or intuition, acting independently of the other, seems a poor strategy.

A compromise perhaps? Can the consciousness suggest guidelines for the body to live by? Yet is the consciousness an optimal adviser, or more of an uninformed spectator? At best, this character we play is a compromise.

The naive idealist witnessing this world and the instinct-driven brute plodding through the labyrinth of life — a bewildered observer whose vehicle is set on autopilot. No instructions provided, misconceptions abound, just an awareness of a mind within meat.

And why does life try so hard to hide such a distinct duality. Constant activity engages the body, keeping thoughts ever focused on dramatic surroundings. In the tumult, the mind is swept into a sense of solidity and control.