Many of our problems arise from not trusting ourselves. That may sound rather esoteric, but consider this. We are animals who have evolved from apes which learned to walk, use tools, build substantial shelters, record the passage of time and more. Yet we assume we are different from our ancestors, which means we disengage from the animal within, ie, don’t respect our natural selves.
This tendency makes us worship our minds and forget the brains upon whose extraordinary systems the mind floats like a fragile boat at sea. Turning from the brain, loving the enticing realm of thought, we have come to create a rich cultural existence and can thence write blogs such as this one, because we have manipulated the body to wield tools such as keyboards. This is heady stuff, naturally addictive, but it sadly means that we rarely settle back in to the basis of our beings.
Existing in ever more detached mental worlds exploited by our evolving cultures and by the makers of smartphone apps which feed on mental stimulation and gain a greater hold over us, desire leads us. Our desires become so absorbing, more real than our evolutionary history, we assume that they are us incarnate. That is our weakness, detached from our original selves, we wobble.
This is our danger. We inhabit the universe’s most amazing bit of kit, this body/brain. That makes us extraordinary. However, forgetting we are animals slips us from visceral existence. Buying more and more of what our smartphones promote, doing what social media inspires us to do, we become new creatures less able to empathise with that which surrounds us. Removed from nature we are no longer animals, we are freaks superior to everything and do not feel the consequences of our actions. That is the main problem with superiority.
It is no wonder that collectively we have generated Climate Change. If only we could turn the tide.
Well, we can. We can slow down our consumptive hedonistic activity, such as frequently travelling to distant lands and realise that it is just as satisfying living what we have come to consider a lesser life. Bit by bit, turn from desire fuelled buying and live more lightly, more sustainably, more locally. A walk along the hedges locally can, if you let it, give you more than an afternoon beside a tropical beach. We take our troubles abroad, our troubles are not resolved by consumerism, nor by consumptive behaviour, they are simply avoided temporarily by our distracting ourselves.
Satisfaction is here, here without consumerism’s cloying accumulation, without powerful experiences. It is here, in this room, upon this empty table in this simple space where we live. If you can’t see it, you have let yourself be mugged by distractions. It is to be found inside the animal that you are - in being sensually engaged without desire with the passage of this very moment, no matter what this moment throws up. I find joy in my being despite never feeling well, despite continual pain. My being, your being, our being, is deeper than that, inside is a satisfying calmness, even felt when pain wracked, dying in hospital not that long ago.
This is not unusual. I was simply able to feel it because I have allowed my attention to slip from thought and desire and to settle inside the brain/body*, to be with it no matter what it is experiencing. That animalism is profound. It is what ravers seek beside those tropical beaches but miss due to desire’s ranting. Hedonism is not wrong, it just goes wonky. Desire is animal, but fuelled, it ignites, burns us. When we relate to the reasonable animal within, sense what we are, admire the brain and what it does, when we - listen, feel, smell, see, a gentle transformation begins.
With the aid of our astonishing mind, we can live in tune with the natural world, if we do, our species will excel. Despite our supposed superiority, humanity is not removed from nature. By profoundly sensing this, not simply thinking it, but also letting deep thought engage with it, we can return to being responsible for our individual actions.
Spending a little time each day* being a body with an amazing brain, rather than a thought filled mind with extraordinary desires, we can revive our relationship with ourselves, with our Planet. We can learn to trust who and what we are and listen to that more profound being and know this is a more sound route to contentment than the muddy road of smart fed desire.
*Qui Gong helps, as does yoga, but simply doing things like washing up with total attention gets you there too. And, of course, attentively dancing in the kitchen and mindfully laughing at the joy.