So, when I say that when I see people I understand them and so can move on [see "I Study People"], it is not that I claim to understand the complexity of who they really are, nor that I understand ‘the human’ and the entire human condition, because I do not, and never claimed to. I would love to deal with, and interact with, and learn from, who people really are; the problem is that most people simply do not live on that level, their true ‘not-selves’ are hidden behind their wall(s).
I love to deal with who people are, but most of the time I only encounter what they are, for they do not express who they are, they do not want to, and often mistake what they are for who they are.
What someone is interests me very little. This is what people do not understand about me. They think I hate people, or that I think I am above them, or better than them or something. But that is not the case. Not even close. I love people. But I don’t like the façade, and most people live their lives with the façade in full swing, and I am over the façade, I get very little out of it except for those surface-level pleasures we can get from it. And I can enjoy such pleasures as much as the next person, but I see them for what they are, and they are certainly only a part of life; but for most people it is their entire lives. Now, again, I’m not saying that people aren’t ‘deep,’ or complex, but rather that they simply don’t tap into that (for lack of a better term) ‘truer’ part of themselves very often, at least around other people (if they’re even able to, that is, which is up for debate).
I simply can’t live most of my life on that essentially superficial level. I don’t want to. Who people are, and ‘whos’ interacting with each other, speaks to what I love about life, the beauty and passion and vitality of life. This is what I want. It’s just hard to find.
Now, a lot of people, some of whom are very smart, get a glimpse of all this, see that ‘the superficial world’ and the so-called pleasures of life are not what it is all about, and they take the other extreme; they deny this part of life, they deny or dismiss the illusory Matrix, and try to focus instead on what they think is not the Matrix. Examples are religious ascetics and philosophers who focus on metaphysics. I think that this is a mistake.
It is important to point out here that I am aware of—and recognize the truth of—the idea, which some ancient Hindus seemed to understand very well, that the path to enlightenment is through the self; in other words, that the ‘divine’ is (‘in’) everything. Or, said another way, that the only way to get to reality is by way of the illusion. To ignore or attempt to side-step the illusion is to ignore reality. To attempt to bypass the illusion, and try to find a positive metaphysics or spirituality, is to completely miss the point, to veer completely off the path. It is, in reality, an exercise in futility.
And so the point is that only by living life can we understand what lies beneath the surface. We can only get to the beauty and reality of truth and life by way of the illusory. This touches on the human truth that only through suffering and hardship comes enlightenment, understanding. And so it is true that we must jump in and live life, we must look to life for the answers. All of the answers, all of reality, is to be found ‘in’ the illusory, is to be found through the illusory.
I’m not the one to say where each person is on their path. But just because someone has an experience does not mean that they will learn from it, really gain from it. Most experiences are wasted experiences. Especially because people focus so much on the immediate, on the visceral, on the pleasure-principle. They mistake pleasure, and the fulfillment of desire, for happiness.
So, again—it is not what you experience but how you experience it that matters. Even people who crave new experiences can be in rut if they are not really moving forward with or because of those experiences.
The stuff of life is our material, it has within it everything we need to learn and grow and move to the ‘next level’ of being. This is why I say I am a student of life. It takes time and effort. There is no getting around this. There are no short cuts, at least that I am aware of. And the person who really gets it would never want a short cut, because he/she would see the ignorance, selfishness, and futility of looking for one.
The effort needs to be put in.
Maybe, like childbirth, it is harder for some, easier for others. This is fine with me. I don’t think this is unfair. It is simply the way it is. But, I think that it is safe to say that it is much harder, and takes much more time and effort, than most people realize. Especially when they do some of that effort and get a little along and then either get tired or sick of it, or realize that they can’t get the things they desire in life while doing it, and they decide that they ‘get it’ and stop. I think this happens often with people who make a little effort. And it is why any time I encounter people who think they get it, who think they have done it, I say that that is the only sign I need that they haven’t.
Anyone who thinks they ‘know’ surely does not. It’s actually quite nice and tidy the way that works. Another example of life being infinitely more simple, and more complex, than most people understand.
From my personal notes, 8/12/00