(Written on 13 November 2014)
What, does that title sound like a joke? Well, I am here to tell you that it’s not.
You see, despite what you may believe you are no passive observer of this world. Ever. It may appear that way due to the relative consistency of your observations; our brains are excellent at deluding us.
You are not in fact watching and experiencing a world of objects and objective forces around you. Instead, you are experiencing your perception of this world; or, rather, you are perceiving your experience of this world. That means that you are creating this world.
There is no world “out there” which you can hope to perceive more accurately. The world is your perception. It can be no other way.
How can you prove that there is a world of objects out there which each “person” in it merely has a different perception of? You can’t. As with all perspectives, you can buy into this model but you cannot prove it. The only proof exists in your experience. You can try your very hardest to convey what is to you the Truth to someone else, but it is impossible to provide them with exactly what you are experiencing.
And now I’m just assuming that the other person, like yourself, thinks and feels and perceives. You cannot prove that either, by the way. Instead we merely assume that these images/objects we perceive to be “humans,” like ourselves, share the same internal processes that we do- both psychological and biological. And maybe we can find biological proof by means such as dissection and simply observing that other people eat food and get rid of it just as we do.
But how about psychologically? Sure, people have created all sorts of questionnaires from which they place people on a scale or give them a score that attempts to be objective, and they’ve gone to great lengths to present the psychological biologically. That’s how the pharmacological industry does so well.
But when someone says that they’re angry, what do you think the odds are that they experience anger exactly as you do? Heck, how similarly do you experience anger now as you did five years ago? Can you even assuredly call them by the same name?
The concept that reality is a culmination of your experiences is called subjective reality, and it is the only reality you can be sure of. To clarify, objective reality is the model which is based on mind-matter dualism—that is, reality (or the world) consists of physical objects, and from the objects known as brains this thing called consciousness arises, which we don’t understand and sometimes like to write off as nonexistent.
In objective reality, the physical is primary. Each of us is an observer of the collection of objects that comprise the world. Even though you can’t see or hear me you assume that I exist, and at one point (right now, for me) I sat behind a computer and typed this article. You assume that this collection of words was produced by a person somewhere, just like you yet who is not you.
On the contrary, subjective reality states that mind and matter are really one, in that consciousness is primary. This means that your “physical” reality arises from your consciousness. Everything is a reflection of your consciousness. An objectivian might understand it as walking around inside your “brain.”
You know what is exactly like that (I hope)? Dreaming. That’s right. Simply put, subjective reality rests upon the assumption that reality is a dream. What we objectively know as dreaming is but another phase of reality with a different set of rules; it too is part of the dream.
Allow me to emphasize that your reality is not, according to subjective reality, a reflection of your ego-identity; that would be Hell. Rather, it might be safer to say that everything you experience is not a reflection of your consciousness per se but rather of consciousness itself.
What you perceive as your consciousness- your thoughts and feelings- is but a piece of the proverbial pie. Of course, that’s taking more of an objective approach to it.
There is a spectrum which consciousness can be measured across, and you are a receptor of a certain part of this spectrum depending on how you interact with consciousness. Consciousness includes your thoughts and feelings (subjective experience) and the world around you (“objective” experience).
Your reality-input varies from day to day. I know mine is radically different than it was two years ago, and markedly different from even two months ago. However, it’s not too different from two days ago. Consciousness pays little mind to time, of course. This is because it is not bound by time. Time is simply an objective concept that allows us to make sense of this reality and perceive changes in consciousness. Without it there would be no physical world (and that, of course, is because time is inextricable from space. Thank you Einstein).
I could take this quite far (maybe even write a book about it. Hm…), but the main thing you need to understand for now is that your outer world is a reflection of your inner world. Perhaps even more important: this includes what we objectively know as your subconscious mind.
What Consciousness Wants
Now, why all this mumbo jumbo anyway? I just want you to explain the title so I can yell at you about being blindly optimistic and illogical and unfair! Darn it Kim!!
Alrighty, well, here it goes. You see, all consciousness- your consciousness included- wants is to expand. On a crude level, I could that that’s it. Wayne Dyer said something along the lines that your soul doesn’t want pleasure or fulfillment or even love. All the soul wants is to expand. And really, from one perspective, that’s all it’s ever doing. Even if your reality is becoming more constricted and you are suffering under these strict rules you (and it) are still ultimately expanding.
Was that anti-climactic? Because that was it. But perhaps I should explain further.
Please notice the presence of the word ultimately in “ultimately expanding.” That is the key to gold here (if gold has a keyhole, I guess).
When your reality is becoming more constricted, this basically means it is becoming more mechanical. The rules are becoming more complex, and the restrictions, much tougher. Enforcement is machine-like—the powers that be never miss a beat (just like in 1984, as I discussed in Orwellian Values).
In this reality the day to day grind feels hard. Movement is slow-- you feel heavy to drag around all the time. You are strictly bound to the rules of physicality; if you miss a meal or an hour of sleep you’re down the tubes. On the same coin, physical pleasures are the most desired- perhaps the only ones you can be sure of.
Because of the overwhelm of your being by physiological, habitual (habit loops), and external environmental factors, you don’t really feel like you’re in charge. Consciousness is still around just the same as it always has been, but you can’t be sure it’s even a thing. Maybe all these little woodland creatures are just nonconscious robots, and humans are just more complex versions of them who are still just as- if not more- dumb.
Do you have any idea of what I just described? That’s not just some crazy constricted-reality concept that I got from a swami. That’s depression. Cold, hard, good ol’ chronic hopelessness, helplessness, and haplessness. That is a loved word in our society, ain’t it? Everyone’s throwin’ it around these days (swami’s a nice word too. I’d become one of those just so I could hear it all the time).
To get back on point, when you live in such a reality as this it’s hard to envision that your consciousness is expanding. How can this be? All you feel is that the hole inside you is expanding. That don’t feel like consciousness to me!
Creating What You Want
There are two things you must understand for this to make any sense: (1) You are always creating your experience, regardless of how consciously you are doing so; and (2) You can learn from this experience, and change it thus.
I’ve already explained (1) with subjective reality. Now it’s time for the equally juicy (2) (of course, in the rating of attractiveness a 2 is juicier than a 1, but that’s only a small, indirect aspect of what I’m talking about here).
Now, I could argue that (2) and (1) are really the same thing, in that you create a particular experience because you want to learn from it. Based on your present state, or spectrum-reception of consciousness, you create a certain experience in order to change and raise that state of consciousness [and move on to the next experience, from which you will also learn, transform, and enjoy].
Had I known four years ago that I would learn so many things via depression I probably would have said, Bring it on, Willy. I can take ya (I don’t know who Willy is). Had I known a year and a half ago that my extremely rapid fall into severe depression would just as quickly prove itself to be what I needed to transform the way I perceive myself and my world and finally come out on to the lighter side of life, I would have been ecstatic.
Of course, if I was ecstatic I wouldn’t have been depressed. If I had known all that time that my suffering would ultimately lead to a broader understanding and ever-increasing enjoyment of life, I still might have continued to suffer for some time, but I simultaneously may have been at peace. I would have known that in time everything would turn out okay. I just would first have to learn one thing, and then the next, and then the next.
And of course, when I was depressed, I just wanted to be normal and able to enjoy life. I don’t know about the first one, but I sure as heck got the second. So didn’t I get what I wanted?!
Okay, okay, Kim, so let me get this straight (do I look insane when I change my point of view like this?)—when you are suffering you learn things through that suffering that ultimately allow you to get what you really want. Is that correct?
Yes, sir, yes it is! But I’m not sure that that paints the whole picture. You see, that more or less says that you don’t want the suffering- you just want the nice stuff that comes as a result of it.
But you would be wrong to say that, my friend. You don’t just want the package. You want the whole darn bureaucratic mailing process that gets the package to you. Perhaps I should say, you don’t just want the shiny object. You want the slimy, greasy, smelly one that looks like 5th grade-lunch too. You want all of it.
Whoa whoa whoa, okay, I was buying into your mumbo jumbo stuff for a bit, but now I’m mad. Who said I wanted to be depressed? I want this darn crap over with!
Hm, I just may know you better than you know yourself, mi amigo! Now I must discuss with you our beloved American ideal of instant gratification. To me, instant gratification is an oxymoron. When you bite into that chocolate cake you’ve been eyeing (or that slice of eggplant if you’re me) it feels pretty good.
But let’s crank it up a bit, and say that the act of moving your jaw up and down becomes your highest aspiration each day. You get food in your mouth the very instant you think about it. You don’t even make the food yourself- you just eat it.
What happens now? It’ll still feel kinda good, but soon enough you’ll feel at least mildly depressed. You’ll be in a hyperhedonic glut. Oof, those are the worst. Simply ask any American and we’ll tell you of all the desperate days and nights of overeating for emotional escape. They just might not explain it quite like that.
So tell me- if I just exploded into nirvana right now and became one with the larger consciousness system, do you think I’d feel fulfilled doing so? Do you think that without a preceding lifetime of relative struggle and progressive learning and growing that I’d even be able to comprehend that statement, let alone appreciate the fact that I am creating these words in the way I am right now? Likely answer: Not-at-all.
When you take my struggle, you take my life.
The Place of Struggle
I’m not saying that life is supposed to be hard and chronically disgustingly uncomfortable. If I believed that I’d tell you that the Place of Realness is where you become unrelentingly macho, able to bounce a cold, cruel world off your pecs and control every painful thought that dares enter your mind.
And you know, in a way it kind of is that. But on the path to Real you become more able to learn from the hard stuff and also appreciate and, yes, enjoy it more. In this way the hard stuff- both in the moment (immediate, like power-lifting) and in time (e.g. a breakup) become less so. What used to be a challenge is now commonplace. Don’t worry- there are always more challenges to come (what, did you think you were master of everything? Okay, okay, I have had that thought. I confess, and I was very, very wrong).
I have to admit, there have been several points in the last year where I almost wished I was depressed again because the challenge is so exciting, and in it you’re so innocent. Now, I probably was feeling rather hopeless about my present and future when I had these thoughts, and I understand that hindsight was waaay off there; depression is not at all an exciting thing to be in. If it was it would simply not be depression.
But the challenge-principle is true; and, of course, in the subjective reality experience negative emotions are often transmuted into something beautiful. There is a sort of joy in sorrow. At least some degree of sadness comes to be a thing of enjoyment- unusual, twisted enjoyment perhaps. Rather than being twisted, though, I think there is an understanding that profound learning and change are nearby.
Either way, sadness is no longer painfully endured. I think what’s going on is a semi-conscious knowing which says that yes, this is exactly what we need. It is time to grow (and to kick myself in the pants of understanding).
I have to clarify that you don’t need apparent difficulty and adversity in order to experience fulfillment and enjoyment. I ran a 100 Kilometer (62.2 mile) race about 2 and half months ago, and I can’t say that it really felt “hard” at all. Yes, I experienced some potent pain throughout most of it, and yes, I did consider taking a nap on the side of the trail, but I’m not sure that I felt like, Oh, woe is me, I must remain trapped in a struggle for the next 13 hours. Every step will be tough and excrutiatingly painful, but I will have to keep up the effort even when I am exhausted. That simply was not my experience. In fact, I’m not sure that it ever is.
I pretty much never describe anything as being “hard.” It doesn’t mean that everything comes super-naturally to me and without fear or pain or ambivalence, but I think I have a sense that the path events take is just kind of what it needs to be.
It’s kind of like how I never say the words “I’m bored,” because I could never say so genuinely. That doesn’t mean that I never wish I was doing something else, but rather that I am never so disengaged as to feel at the mercy of the eventlessness of the world. That just doesn’t make sense to me. I can always engage with something- even my own thoughts.
Even when I was depressed I never felt bored. I’ve wanted to escape, sure, but I always had plenty of thoughts to mull over and be tortured by. The 3000 meter race in Track is the most apt to be called boring, and I used to like telling my friends, If you’re bored, you’re not trying hard enough. How can you be bored during a race? You’re fricken running as fast as you can! Of course, now I don’t have much of a concept of “trying hard,” either, but that can rest beside the point.
Perhaps in time I will be better able to explain my lack of comprehension of these concepts. And this follows with the principle that your concepts of things change as you do. Today’s struggle is by no means that of five years ago. Running a mile is a struggle if you’ve never run in your life. After five years of consistent running this no longer holds true.
Really all I am trying to tell you is that whatever you are experiencing right now- no matter what it is- you want it, and you are creating it.
When I’m sad, I want to be sad. I want this sadness to imbue me with a sense of humility that enables me to better understand and empathize with myself and other people. When I begrudgingly perceive that someone is taking what’s mine I know that this is an opportunity to understand my presence in this reality as a stewardess, rather than a proprietress. And when I give into habitual urge and break off a split end and damn, why did I do that, now I’m going to be stuck doing it all day, I know that really it’s what I wanted (it’s an urge, of course).
I want this challenge. I want to experience the shame so that I remember that I’m human, and I can better connect with others who are experiencing shame. I want this challenge so that I may competently convey to others how to overcome their similar challenges. I love the challenge.
They say that ecstasy is the love of a struggle. I say, What else could it be? It means that your consciousness is ready to explode into expansion. Isn’t that what you really want to happen?
Please don’t take this as an excuse to avoid pursuing your higher aspirations. Instead, realize that whatever you’re experiencing now is a step on the path to them. And, just like this current stone you stand on, you create the next- even if you think it is hardened lava that erupted from a volcano 10,000 years ago (which it kind of is, but that’s beside the point).
What do you really want? You may not even know. You might have to create a bit of craziness to find out.
Okay, if the title really doesn't work for you maybe a certain song will help you out. It sounds different from me but the message is the same.
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
You can't always get what you want
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need
-"You Can't Always Get What You Want," by The Rolling Stones
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