Humpty Dumpty Has A Great Fall
When we are stressed, things begin to shatter and scatter all over the place. It is as if the windscreen of our view on the world has shattered into a million pieces. We might even recall the apt words from W.B. Yeats' poem The Second Coming: "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold." Yeats was, of course, referring to a global crisis or disintegration of civilization in the wake of the First World War. The next line, which most people do not quote, strongly confirms this truth: "mere anarchy is loosed upon the world." However, perhaps the idea of personal disintegration is as horrible an experience or fear as that of the more global disintegration of the outer world. Yeats had summed up wonderfully in these first quoted words the experience of either inner (micro or personal) or outer (macro or global) disintegration. One thing is sure, disintegration is a horrifying experience as anyone who has experienced any form of break down or falling apart will aver.
Michael A. Singer in The Untethered Soul (See last post for details of this book and a link to his home page) suggests that we must move from "an outer solution consciousness" to "an inner solution consciousness" (p. 16). He goes on to stress that there is a part in all of us that can "actually abstract from your own melodrama. You can watch yourself be jealous or angry..." (p.16) I admit that this is far easier said than done. If one has fallen apart there is no amount of meditating that will bring you back together. You may have to have medical intervention first, as I did, before I had gained enough stability to sail alone and embrace meditation as a repaired yacht might sail anew into the wind. I have dealt with students with ASD and OCD where CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy) had not a hope of being deployed until the lads had been brought to stability by psychiatric intervention. Hence, my caveat in the first few lines of this paragraph. However, once this caveat has been accepted, reality and commonsense being equally embraced, meditation, then and then only can and does work wonders.
|Sunset, Malahide, Co Dublin, June 2013|
Putting Humpty Dumpty Together Again
We humans are at base a contradictory and paradoxical sort. We are, on the one hand driven by greed, envy, anger or ego to conquer, desecrate, rip apart and destroy both things and other sentient beings, and, on the other hand, we are inspired by justice, generosity, pity or love to help, consecrate, embrace, lift up and bind together both things and other sentient beings. Those of us who are by nature optimists believe that the second human impulse to the good vastly outweighs the former, the impulse to evil. In other words we are here brought back to the inevitable mystery of squaring good with evil. Freud spoke about these in terms of The Desire to Live: Eros and The Desire to Die: Thanatos. Indeed, in speaking so, he was commenting on the basic paradoxical nature of the human condition.
Meditation Helps Put Humpty Together
I better begin this paragraph with a caveat which I will write is capitals here: THERE SIMPLY IS NO EASY ANSWER: THERE IS NO PANACEA. Meditation is no panacea, no instant quick fix. Rather it is a help, a sort of brush to help us clean up the breakages of our life - excuse the rather awkward metaphor here. There is a centre of agency, a Still Point, a Seat where the Observer or Witness sits and from which we calmly review the scattered and broken pieces of our life. As one who tries his best to pull himself together, I find that time spent in meditation helps me to "get my act together," a very common metaphor indeed, but nonetheless very true. Meditation has to be practised on an on-going and regular basis to give one equanimity and peace of mind where things somehow hold together or cohere for us as we go through our daily tasks. One won't feel 100% most of the time, if ever, but certainly you will not be in the failure or no grade stakes where everything shatters completely.
|My shadow, June 2013|
Pointed Questions on the Road to the Still Point or Observer's Seat
Singer refers to one of his teachers Romana Maharshi (1879-1950) who used to recommend that the way to attain inner freedom was to "continuously and sincerely" ask the question "who am I" as you meditate. (p. 23) In this way, I believe, that such questioning will bring one ever nearer the Still Point of Being or the Observer's Seat (my metaphor for SP). To finish this post I'm going to use the questions I will use for my meditation session immediately after writing this post:
- Who am I that sits here?
- Who is the thinker of these thoughts?
- Who is the feeler of these feelings?
- Who is feeling this sadness that now inhabits my soul?
- Who is experiencing this confusion?
- Who is feeling this fear?
- Who is feeling this love?
- Who is the one who asks these questions?
- Who, O who is this "I"?
And so on, ever inward to the Still Point... ah but the journey is so long and so slow... caveat, caveat... caveat...