Thinking is Suffering

sufferingstatue

Thinking is suffering, as Eckhart Tolle says somewhere. Thinking is all about problems and the search for possible solutions to these problems. This is all thinking is – over and over again. The unspoken assumption is that the thinking is ‘a means to an end’ – that once we find the solution then everything will be fine and there won’t be the need for any more wearisome thinking. The assumption is that once the solution is found then all will be well. We will then find peace. We’ll have arrived.

 

This however never happens. We all know very well that this never happens – if it did happens then we would all be going around in a Zen-like state of calm the whole time and we aren’t! Each ‘solution’ only ever leads on to another problem; each answer only gives rise to a clutch of new questions. All is never well – if it was then there wouldn’t be all this thinking going on and there always is all this thinking going on. The thinking is there because all is not well, because there is some sort of a problem somewhere, and so clearly we are never without problems. Things are never OK…

 

There is always thinking because there is always a problem, because there is always an issue that needs to be resolved. This state of affairs doesn’t necessarily seem like suffering to us however. It doesn’t seem like suffering because we generally feel that we are getting somewhere – we experience the thinking as taking us towards some kind of resolution. As Alan Watts says in one of his lectures, we’re always ‘almost there’; the resolution or prize is always there just around the corner and because of this (erroneous) perception we don’t experience the process of thinking as being largely (if not entirely) futile.

 

This isn’t to say that rational thought is always futile. There are of course instances where the thinking process is genuinely useful! There are in other words times when there are legitimate problems out there and where we are legitimately trying to solve them. During the day this only happens from time to time however – as we would easily see if we started observing ourselves and our thoughts, we think all the time and only a few of these thoughts are there because there is actually a practical need for them! Legitimate problem-solving happens only from time to time – it’s not the main business of the day. The main business of the day – which is where most of our attention or energy is going – is a project that we are not actually allowed to be aware of, an ongoing project which is consuming the lion’s share of the resources (so to speak) and yet which at the same time we are not allowed to see ourselves being engaged in.

 

Being engaged in a full-time project that we not being allowed to acknowledge ourselves to be engaged in it is a strange enough idea by itself but it gets stranger – we’re engaged on a full-time basis on a project that we’re not allowed to know about and which is actually completely impossible to complete. This therefore is definitely as recipe for suffering. This is the best recipe for suffering there ever could be! But WHAT – we might want to know – is this undercover project that we’re not allowed to know about, and WHY is it so impossible to complete? The project that we’re talking about here is (we might say) the project of maintaining our arbitrary way of looking at the world, our arbitrary way of ‘being in the world’, and the reason this task / project is impossible to complete is because nothing that is arbitrary can be kept going forever. Nothing that is arbitrary can be made permanent. Because the task that we are engaged in is impossible it isn’t really a ‘task’ at all – it’s simply a jinx. It’s a jinx that we can’t see to be a jinx. It’s a jinx that is disguised as a legitimate task…

 

And even if the so-called ‘task’ of perpetuating our particular way of seeing the world, our particular way of ‘being in the world’ were possible (which it clearly isn’t) it would still be a completely pointless thing to do. Why on earth would we want to perpetuate an arbitrary way of looking at the world, an arbitrary way of being in the world? Why on earth would we want to perpetuate or make permanent a particular limited pattern of thinking and behaving in the world when it is no more valid than any other way? Why would we want to spend all our time stuck in a particular groove when there are so many other grooves to explore? What we’re actually doing here is, in this not-allowing-of-any-other-possibilities, is artificially keeping things the same when they don’t really need to be kept the same. We’re repressing change; we’re repressing the natural way of things. We’re actually blocking the life-process itself and this has got to be a ‘suspect operation’!

 

It’s a ‘suspect operation’ because on the one hand it is impossible to do and on the other hand it causes an immense amount of pain and frustration because we don’t know that it is an impossible thing to do (because we don’t know that it is a ‘jinxed task’). We’re going against the natural order of things for no good reason at all – we’re going against our own true nature. This isn’t a ‘moral’ or ‘ethical’ matter we’re talking about here. It’s purely practical – it’s about not being absurd or ridiculous. Why after all would we go against our own true nature? Why would we act contrary to what our heart actually wants? The reason is of course that we’re not in touch with our true nature; we’re estranged from ourselves, we’re estranged from our own wisdom and intuition. We have been ‘cut-off’ from the source of wisdom and intuition that lies deep inside ourselves. As we have said, we don’t even know what we are doing! We don’t know that we are engaged on a full-time basis in the particular ‘suspect project’ that we are engaged in. We don’t know that the project is suspect and we don’t even know that there is a project! We’re committed to ‘the jinxed task’ without knowing that we are…

 

To go back to what we started off by saying, thinking is suffering and the reason thinking is suffering is because we are trying – with our thinking – to do something impossible without acknowledging that this is the case. Of course thinking can achieve real things (genuinely helpful outcomes) in the world and if the only time we were thinking was on this strictly practical ‘thinking only when we need to think’ basis then all would be well. Thinking would not necessarily be suffering in this case. It might be demanding and arduous but there would be a real result. But just as soon as we take the trouble to observe ourselves and our thinking we can’t help seeing that most of the thinking which is going on is not of a practical / helpful nature. By far the largest part of our thinking is simply a type of ‘restless grasping’. What we’re grasping for – whether we realize it or not – is a type of security that just doesn’t exist in the real world. We’re looking for a sense of security in relation to the arbitrary construct, the arbitrary way of looking at things, the arbitrary modality of being, that we have somehow (without actually meaning to) identified ourselves with.

 

One way of putting this is to say that we are looking for the validation of our particular arbitrary viewpoint or position. ‘Validation’ in this context means proving to ourselves that our arbitrary viewpoint or position is not arbitrary at all, and this very clearly is not going to be possible. We’re trying to prove that something which isn’t true actually is true. We don’t of course see that this is what we are doing – we are driven by a need that we don’t examine, a need that we never question, a ‘need’ that we just automatically go along with. If we were to be slightly more aware of what is going on we would see that we are being driven by a type of deep-rooted insecurity – we’re trying to make an uncomfortable feeling go away. This attempt to run away from an uncomfortable background feeling of insecurity is what is driving our thinking – it is the only thing that is driving our thinking. We neither know what this feeling is nor do we care to know – we just want to make it go away and that is that!

 

It is also the case that we may have (temporarily!) succeeded in feeling secure in the way that we want to. Security-seeking isn’t our number One motivation in this case; it has been put to one side for the time being. It has been forgotten about. But the thing about this is that just as soon as we solve the pain of the insecurity we incur a different type of pain which then needs to be fixed just as the first type of pain did. The one itch replaces the other. ‘Security’ contains a type of pain all of its own – the pain of suffocating boredom, the pain of sterility, the pain of ennui or meaninglessness, and the way we try to fix this pain is by looking for diversion, looking for distraction, and so this is another thing that will drive our thinking (if we are not being driven by the need to escape from our own insecurity). Both the need to find security (which equals ‘validating our particular limited pattern of being’) and the need to escape from the tedium or meaninglessness of this security once we have found it, (i.e. the need to distract or divert ourselves) come from the same root, therefore. The need to be continually distracting (or entertaining) ourselves seems harmless or normal enough to us but it comes down to ‘covering up the problem’; this type of thinking it is therefore facilitating a problem we don’t know about, it is perpetuating that invisible problem.

 

When we look into the matter we discover that almost all of our thinking is about compensating (or trying to compensate) for the irresolvable insecurity that comes with being identified with an arbitrarily limited way of looking at the world, an arbitrarily limited way of being in the world, whilst trying to make out that it is not arbitrarily limited. In very simple terms, we’re ‘shoring up the self-image’ (or ‘trying to shore up the self image’) – this basic (conditioned) need gives rise to a range of different types of thinking but they all come down to the same thing. They all come down to ‘trying to make something be what it isn’t’, trying to pretend something isn’t there when it is there, trying to make something better when ultimately we can’t make it better. It’s like scratching an itch to relieve the unbearable irritation it is causing us – the scratching may provide relief from this intolerable itch, but only at the price of making it worse later on.

 

We might be trying to solve some kind of thinking – the kind of problem that triggers our repressed feelings of existential unease or insecurity – or we might be trying to pleasantly divert or distract ourselves. We might be experiencing our insecurity via an urge to prove ourselves or compete successfully with other people in a similar mind-frame to ourselves; we might be struggling to be accepted or approved of within a specific social context and as a result be thinking either that we’re doing well or not doing well, thinking that we’re either on the way up or on the way down. We might be in some sort of a desire state and thinking about how great it would be to get our hands on the longed-for goal, or we might be thinking about what strategy would be best for helping us succeed in our aim. We might be in an angry frame of mind and thinking about how thoroughly rotten someone is and how they richly deserve for something bad to happen to them (or we might be thinking about all the ways in which we could play an active part in making sure that something bad happens to them). We might be in an envious state of mind and be thinking about how someone has got something that we would very much like to have, or we could be paranoid and be thinking about external forces are working against us. Whatever way we’re thinking it always comes down to the same thing however – we’re trying to get hold of something that it’s just not possible to get hold of, we’re trying to get hold of something that just doesn’t exist.

 

This brings us to one last way of looking at why thought is suffering, why to think is to suffer. We’re looking for ‘the good thing’ but the thing is that we are looking for the good thing because of the way we think that it will validate us. If it didn’t validate us then that wouldn’t be any good at all! It’s not really the external value we care about, that we’re interested in, but the way in which that external value will say something about us, do something for us.

 

We’re looking to validate ourselves, as we have just said. But the thing about this is that it just isn’t ever going to happen – we can’t ever be validated in the way that we want to be. We’re grasping for the impossible. The conditioned self (which is the problem-solving self, the analytical self, the thinking or rational self) can’t ever be validated because ultimately it just doesn’t exist. Ultimately therefore, our thinking is driven by the unreal conditioned self’s hunger to be real (in the sense of being ‘permanent’ or ‘non-arbitrary’), and this is the root cause of our suffering…

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Advertisements

When Thoughts Come…

head_spinning_thoughts_swimming_by_syverhus-d4vzisj

‘When thoughts come, throw them away’, says Ouspensky. When Ouspensky says this he doesn’t mean that we should fight against our thoughts or try to control or correct them. If we fight against our thoughts (or in any way try to control them) this simply means that we are afraid of them and fear causes us to stick to our thoughts as if with superglue. Fear is superglue just as desire or craving is superglue, and so if I am trying to get rid of my thoughts out of fear (because I perceive them to be a threat) then this is always going to have the opposite effect. Fighting against our thoughts doesn’t make them go away, and neither does trying to control them. This is the basic principle that we never seem to grasp…

 

When Ouspensky says, ‘When thoughts come, throw them away’ he means that we should no longer be looking for something from them. If we believe that our thoughts have something in them that we need then straight away we have given our power to them. Straight away I am the servant of thought rather than its master. When we feel that our thoughts have something in them that we need then this is an addiction! We have set thought up in a position of unquestionable authority over ourselves. When we have this sort of relationship with the thinking process then we are ‘the helpless addicts of thought’, and this is the normal way to be…

 

Of course, it makes no sense to say that we shouldn’t feel that our thoughts have something in them that we need, or that when thoughts come we should throw them away. Words like ‘should’ and ‘shouldn’t’ only ever come from the thinking mind anyway – they come from our ideas of right and wrong. To say that we should throw away our thoughts (or that we shouldn’t be looking for something from them, something that’s somehow going to change everything) involves us in a paradox therefore – it involves us in the paradox of ‘thought trying to escape from thought’ (which is the same thing as the paradox of ‘thought trying to free itself from thought’ or ‘thought trying to control thought’). This is the paradox that we are caught up in the whole time without realizing that we have been caught up in anything. It is – for us – an invisible paradox, but we’re caught up in it all the more for not seeing it.

 

It’s not that we should throw away our thoughts or that we should free ourselves from the shackles of our own thinking. This would put us in the utterly absurd position of saying “We have to be free” which is a very clear example of the type of paradox that we have just been talking about – what we’re saying when we make a statement like this is in essence that ‘we’re not free not to be free’ which of course means that we’re not free at all! If I say that I have to be free (or that I ought to be free) then what I am actually doing is embracing slavery in the name of freedom. I am slavishly conforming to the rule which says that there must be no rules! If we were truly free then we would be free not to be free but this is a subtlety that the thinking mind always glosses over in its heedless rush to attain its goals.

 

When Ouspensky says ‘When thoughts come, throw them away’ this is not then a moral imperative – it is not any sort of imperative at all. It’s just that if we were ‘in the state of unconditioned consciousness’ rather than ‘stuck miserably in the thinking mind’ (which is how we usually are) then when we see thoughts coming along then we wouldn’t experience any attachment to them, either of the positive or negative variety. We wouldn’t be drawn to them and we wouldn’t be repelled by them. We wouldn’t experience either fondness or aversion to them; we wouldn’t ‘clutch at them’ and neither would we ‘push them away’. This is like getting advertising leaflets coming through the letter box – when we are in ‘unconscious mode’ then we are, in all probability, going to be drawn to the glossy images, attracted to the phoney promises that are trying to draw us in. In this case we’d pick them up and find them interesting – we’d get absorbed in them, sucked up into them. But if we were conscious rather than unconscious then we wouldn’t have any interest at all in the junk mail that comes through the letter box on a daily basis because we know well that there’s nothing worthwhile in them! We’re wise to this kind of thing and so we don’t get hooked into reading through them – we know what we’ll find in it before we look into it and so there’s no need to bother. We pick it up and put it in the recycle bin without wasting our time reading it. When we see junk mail we simply throw it away…

 

This isn’t because we’re afraid of what’s in the junk mail – because we think that there’s some kind of ‘badness’ in it that will contaminate us – it’s simply that we know very well that there’s nothing in it! Exactly the same is true in the case of our everyday thoughts, therefore – we don’t get sucked into them because we know very well that there’s nothing new, nothing worthwhile in them. This tends to sound rather outrageously radical. How could we possibly say that ‘there’s nothing worthwhile in our thoughts’? What sort of statement is this? Admittedly the majority of the thoughts that we think on a routine basis are fairly inane and not really worth bothering with but we nevertheless believe that there’s good stuff to be had in there too, if we ‘sift through all the dross’. We firmly believe that there are nuggets of purest gold to be had there as well, if we only could get lucky enough to come across them, and so we spend every day engaged in ‘sifting, sifting, sifting’…

 

Our everyday type of thinking might therefore be said to be like the lotto in this respect, in that we keep at it on the off chance that we will win something! It could also be said that our everyday type of thinking is like the type of entertainment we get on TV – the truth of the matter is (when it comes down to it) that the stuff on TV is just ‘more of the same, more of the same’, and this ‘same’ was never really that good in the first place! We carry on watching regardless however, and it could be said that the reason we persist is because we have the unconscious assumption that there has got to be good stuff in it somewhere, which we might find if we keep on dutifully watching all the programmes. And so it is – we might say – with our everyday old thinking. It might bore us silly but – out of either hope or a sense of misplaced loyalty – we keep on faithfully engaging with them!

 

Most of us would probably object to this view of the thinking process. What about creativity, we might object? What about genuinely ‘insightful’ thoughts, what about those flashes of realization that may change our lives forever? Or on a humbler level, we might ask what about those clever ideas that may help us to ‘get ahead of the competition’ in the cut-throat business of modern life? This objection is confused, however. Creativity and insight don’t come about as a result of thinking, as a result of exercising the mechanism of rational thought. The great scientists have always say that their insights came about not as a result of thinking long and hard about the problem but rather through ‘letting go’ and letting the realization come all by itself, without forcing. August Kekule (like a lot of other organic chemists of his time) thought long and hard about what the chemical structure of benzene might be, but the answer came into his head only when he gave up and forgot about trying to work it out. The solution actually came to him on the Clapham omnibus – so the story goes – in the form of a spontaneous visual image of a snake biting its own tail.

 

Similarly, any poet will tell you that you don’t ‘think’ a poem into existence – the essence of the poem comes out of nowhere, it just comes into our head all by itself. It’s not really ours at all. This is necessarily true for all creativity – creativity means that it is new, and the mechanical thought process by its very nature can only ever look for ‘new combinations of the old’. This is all a mechanical process can ever do. It is true that coming up with ‘new combinations of the old’ can sometimes pay dividends (like writing novels or TV series by a formula, for example) but there is no creativity in this – it is just banal entertainment, just as our everyday thoughts are ‘banal entertainment’. Thinking does not produce profundity no matter how much effort we put into it! Actually, what gives birth to profundity is stillness of mind, not the ongoing mechanical activity of the everyday mind, which blocks spontaneity and creativity at its very root. As Krishnamurti says,

Thought is always an outward response, it can never respond deeply. Thought is always the outer; thought is always an effect, and thinking is the reconciliation of effects. Thought is always superficial, though it may place itself at different levels. Thought can never penetrate the profound, the implicit. Thought cannot go beyond itself, and every attempt to do so is its own frustration.

 

…Thought is response to any challenge; thought is not action, doing. Thought is an outcome, the result of a result; it is the result of memory. Memory is thought, and thought is the verbalization of memory. Memory is experience. The thinking process is the conscious process, the hidden as well as the open. This whole thinking process is consciousness; the waking and the sleeping, the upper and the deeper levels are all part of memory, experience. Thought is not independent. There is no independent thinking; “independent thinking” is a contradiction in terms. Thought, being a result, opposes or agrees, compares or adjusts, condemns or justifies, and therefore it can never be free. A result can never be free; it can twist about, manipulate, wander, go a certain distance, but it cannot be free from its own mooring. Thought is anchored to memory, and it can never be free to discover the truth of any problem.

All of this is not say that thought isn’t useful within its proper domain because of course it is – it is because thought is so powerful a tool within its proper domain (which is the practical, concrete, down-to-earth world that we relate to every day) that we over-generalize it and over-apply it to imagine that it is useful for everything, in all possible domains. The thinking mind – as has often been said – is a ‘survival tool’ and so inasmuch as survival is important, so too is this tool. What we easily tend to forget however is that life is about more than just surviving! Where thought isn’t so useful (or rather the exact opposite of useful) is – we might say – in the non-concrete realm, which is the realm of our actual unconditioned being, as opposed to the virtual reality domain of our conditioned or concrete identity. When we treat thought as if it were above everything – including our actual being – then we necessarily reduce our being to the level of the crudely mechanical, and do not permit ourselves any more subtle (i.e. less concrete/literal) existence than this. In other words, when we over-value rationality then this means that we do not permit ourselves a spiritual life, because the thinking mind cannot conceive – and cannot therefore acknowledge – any such possibility…

 

Living in a wholly concrete world (i.e. living in the ‘gross’ rather than the ‘subtle’ realm) is – despite its appalling banality – nevertheless intensely attractive to us because it allows us to hold tightly onto a fixed or definite view of reality and ourselves. It could be said that when we are not using the instrument of rational thought within its proper domain (when we are ‘over-valuing’ it and making it therefore our ‘unquestionable master’) what we are actually doing may be called ‘holding on for the sake of holding on’. What we’re holding onto with our thinking are the literal/concrete productions of the thinking process and so really this is a case of ‘thought hanging on to itself’.

 

Thought hanging onto itself is a loop of logic however and a loop of logic – as every student of philosophy knows – is tautological, which is to say it has no actual substance. It is appearance with no content – it is a statement with no basis. So what we’re holding onto doesn’t have any real substance to it, even though the very reason we’re holding onto it as tightly as we are is because we imagine that it does. We cling to our concrete conceptions because we assume that they alone are real, but the ‘truly real’ has no concrete black-and-white character. As the Buddhist teachings say, the truly real has no character at all! Reality as it is in itself has no ‘form’ – it has no form because it is what all forms are imprinted upon. This rather difficult idea is often explained in terms of the ocean and the waves that travel upon it – the waves seem to be real because they are what we see, but actually they are transient and lacking in any essential nature of their own. This is to say, what we call ‘a wave’ – as if it were an actual thing in itself – is essentially an illusion. What is real is the ocean, but we don’t see it for the waves. What’s more, we can’t grab hold of the ocean because it is ‘characterless’; we can’t hold onto it (or ‘define’ it) because it is not a form, but that which gives rise to all forms…

 

So the nature of reality is such that we can’t grab hold of it and this is what we find unattractive about it! Saying that we find this lack of anything to hold onto ‘unattractive’ is putting it mildly – actually we find it totally terrifying, which is why we prefer to relate to our concrete-conceptual reality (the reality that is made up of literally-understood things), even though this concrete (or literal) reality is an illusion. What we’re holding onto with our thinking is lacking in any real substance, but it does nevertheless provide us with something that we are very fond of. What it provides us with is a basic kind of ‘familiarity’. It provides us with two things: it provides us with a reassuring sense of familiarity and it provides us with something to do – an ‘engagement’, an ‘activity’ that is essentially repetitive and therefore not challenging for us. It suits us only too well to be ‘rehashing the old’, therefore – it suits us precisely because this way we know that nothing truly new will ever comes up. At the same time however this safe and reliable ‘repetition of the known’ is very, very tedious, very, very sterile (or ‘stale’) and so we have to do something to disguise this dreadful tediousness, this toxic sterility, this poisonous staleness. That’s why the ‘rehashing’ business is so important – we can’t get away with thinking the same old thought over and over again, that would be pure torture!

 

Thinking thus provides us with an occupation which is ‘ontologically unchallenging’ (meaning that it doesn’t challenge our idea of ourselves, our idea of ‘what it’s all about’) but at the same time as being ontologically unchallenging it is also superficially diverting, superficially distracting, which means that we don’t get tormented beyond endurance by the sheer absolute undiluted tedium of what we are engaged with! This then is a great package – it seems to offer us everything. It seems to offer us the escape from radical risk that we so badly want without us having to pay the price for it, which is ‘all-pervading unendurable ennui’. On the face of it, therefore, we have it cracked – we have the very thorny problem of ‘ontological fear’ cracked once and for all. Somehow, by this clever double-dodge, we seem to have ‘pulled it off’…

 

Actually, of course, we haven’t got away with anything. In fact we’ve created a worse difficulty for ourselves – albeit a difficulty that we are unable to see. This combination of factors (the absence of ontological challenge along with the superficial diversions or distractions that stop us noticing it) is actually an extraordinarily deadly mixture. It has (we might say) a property that we hadn’t thought about, a property that we didn’t expect, something that we hadn’t necessarily bargained for. The combination of ‘zero ontological challenge’ and ‘non-stop superficial entertainment’ is ‘deadly’ in that it is guaranteed to send us fast asleep. It is guaranteed to ‘put us under’, to anaesthetize us as if with chloroform or halothane. It is as if we are going around wearing a sealed helmet that has a little device piping in a potent anaesthetic gas the whole time, a narcotic agent that is guaranteed to ‘put us under’ and ‘keep us under’ for the duration of our lives. Only this isn’t regular sleep that we are talking about here but ‘the sleep of the soul’, ‘the sleep of the spirit’…

 

Our non-stop thinking puts us very effectively to sleep, in other words. It’s a narcotic just like heroin or television or alcohol or gambling or fashion magazines or social media sites or power games or any other of the entertainments that we love so much. It’s a drug, not to put too fine a point on it, and we’re all well and truly addicted to it. Non-stop thinking is our drug of choice – a drug, what’s more, that we can manufacture in unlimited quantities wherever we go. We’ll never run out! When we are thinking away to ourselves, lost in our internal monologue, then we have effectively ‘exited’ the reality of the here and now. We have taken up full-time residence in the ‘mind-created virtual reality’ of our thoughts. We’re in a bubble of thought. We’re in our own personalized little dream-world. We have just enough awareness left to perform routine-habitual tasks such as driving a car, going to work, going to the pub or out for a meal, watching sport on television, cooking the dinner or chatting to a friend, but that’s it. It’s mechanical stuff only. And sometimes we hardly even have this little bit of ‘left-over’ awareness available to us to properly carry out the task we’re engaged in – we might for example miss the traffic lights changing from red to green, or eat our entire dinner without noticing that we have done it, or completely fail to hear what our friend was saying to us…

 

Eckhart Tolle puts this succinctly in his quote – “The human condition: lost in thought”. It’s not just because we are day-dreaming (and thus conspicuously absent, even to our fellow sleepers) that we can be said to be ‘lost in thought’ – the most super-efficient goal-orientated / analytical type of thinking is just as good for getting lost in. When we relate to the world (or to ourselves, or to other people) on the basis of thought we aren’t relating to the world at all – we’re relating to our concept of the world, to our idea of the world. The proof of this is the bland, bored, jaded, ‘matter-of-fact’ way in which we do this relating – when we relate to the conceptually mediated version of the world (to our ‘rational simulation’ of the world) this keeps us asleep. This is why we generally look the way that we do look – dully fixated or absorbed with our goals, with our hopes and fears, with our old familiar ideas and beliefs. It’s all just a well-worn routine…

 

There is nothing to excite our astonishment, our childish sense of wonder, when we look at the world through ‘adult eyes’. Actually, when we look at the world through ‘adult eyes’ there’s nothing worth seeing there at all! What we see is just an accumulation of ideas, an accumulation of thoughts and the world isn’t like that at all – the world ‘as it is in itself’ doesn’t have anything to do with our banal, crummy, infinitely tedious second-hand generic conceptualizations of it…

 

When we look at the world (or at ourselves, or at others) without the layer of conceptual mediation getting in the way (without it superimposing itself on reality) then – and only then – do we ‘come back to ourselves’. Then – and only then – do we ‘wake up’…