After spending 4 days in a “self-help” seminar as a photographer (observer would also be a fitting term) and experiencing more closely the intellectual difficulties of a generation ahead of me, I would like to attempt at giving the world my perspective and potentially useful wisdom. Hopefully I can provide a modicon of peace to someone with questions like mine. These are some of the lessons I have absorbed from diverse worldly surroundings and greater philsophers than myself:
1. Your identity doesn’t exist.
The human is literally a mirror of the world around it. Your name, aspirations, values, body and everything you think create you are merely a constant flux of information flowing between a fully unified outer and inner world. Even after intense meditative self reflection, you will discover that your ego is nowhere to be found- mainly because it doesn’t exist. This can feel horrifying for many, but in essence means you are independent of a home and are free to inhabit this reality as the universe which you ultimately are. But at this point Lao Tzu would probably explain he who understands this doesn’t understand this. I certainly don’t understand this.
2. Nobody understands language.
This especially applies to people who only speak one language. After so many years of an assumed understanding of words, it becomes lost how the perceptions of others color your speak. Translations don’t help either; languages have deep cultural foundations that imbue each word with a totally different set of ideas. Intimately knowing a language means understanding the culture surrounding it.
3. Money is not the goal, and neither is happiness.
Your worth is not measured in wealth, and shouldn’t be tied to how you feel about yourself. This seems to be one of the most important lessons for these modern times in which Capitalism is becoming so aggressive. Wealth might “make you comfortable” as some might argue, but undoubtedly will leave you on your deathbed longing for the human experience you missed while you were busy making money. And the idea that hard work will pay off in riches might leave one open to manipulation. (Not to say hard work isn’t a useful virtue, but the conclusion of resulting wealth shouldn’t be misunderstood.)
And happiness, in a different way than capital, is also dangerous. Whoever decides to pursue happiness is, by nature of polarity, searching for sadness. This also supports the idea that money doesn’t bring happiness, as happiness itself can never be obtained but only momentarily experienced. Maybe this is why Plato argued that a life of gathering wisdom will leave one most fulfilled. Perhaps the best life is the one in which one is best able to wisely cope. After all, the wise man watches the rich, respected, and accomplished man from space.
4. Once one leaves, one can never come back.
This could be one of the greatest gifts- or burdens- of traveling. Once a foreigner, not even surgery can remove the new eyes. The crashing down of ignorance will leave one with the realization that there are other ways of thinking and living, and no matter which side is chosen, it is inevitably flawed. Making sense of life becomes in this way more productive but less cozy.
You finally see the fire creating the shadow on the wall, leave your chains in the cave and catch a glimpse of the sun- how can you possibly explain this to those still bound with eyes to the wall?
5. Nobody knows anything, and never will.
For the sake of our mental health, we must accept that we can only learn and never know. See every object, person, memory, and idea as a learning opportunity from which we can gather information to make life more manageable. Resist pride at all costs, for it is your greatest illusory coping mechanism. In the end, birth has tasked us with experiencing this winding, broad, unending reality and we would be clinging to our non-existent egos if we thought we knew anything.
Having spoken these words, I have proven my unknowing. I will return to silence for further thought until the next post. Oder vielleicht gehe ich einfach mal weiter trinken… Prost!