New Experiences, New Ideas
Every day people ask wonderful questions about the meaning of life, the significance of truth, the essence of reality, the purpose of existence, or the pathway to freedom. I so much appreciate these students, colleagues, mentees, and friends, for such abiding interest helps keep our eyes on a higher order, a broader perspective. Here is a question presented by a student/colleague that prompts useful some insights.
Dear Dr. T
Richard Rohr, OFM said: “Without new experiences, new thinking is difficult and rare. After a new experience, new thinking and behavior comes naturally and even becomes necessary.” --Rohr
My question is: are these new experiences meant to let go of the Self as we think it is, and allow truth (Love) to sink into its place?
Not quite. The “Self” as capitalized, is thought of psychologically as the Idea of a Unified or Ultimate Being, which is the source of all consciousness. From that perspective, those seeking ultimate consciousness or unity (peace, love, or whatever highest good one seeks) would not be seen as letting go of the Self. Rather, this “Self” is what they would be striving to identify with, the final goal of their search for ultimate meaning.
This all sounds quite cryptic. It is enough to take Richard Rohr’s words in their simplest meaning. “We” (as centers of awareness), reside in material bodies. There must be some meaning to that mind/body relationship. This calls closer examination.
We now know that it is through physical experience that our minds gather information. Without this neurochemical action, the exercise of the senses, there would be no learning, no expansion in knowing, no memory.
Certainly it would follow then, that without ever-new experiences like sight, smell, hearing, touch, banter, play, striving, little learning, let alone higher insight or intuitive thinking, would occur.
Neuroscientific research today happily bears that out. It is those who use their bodies, engage in new behaviors and challenge their thinking apparatus that thrive, and experience a happier life. This is the meaning of the Greek concept of Eudaimonia: the good striving for self-realization. Milena ago, the ancient philosophers and mystics, through thoughtful reflection, came to this same conclusion: In order to thrive in happiness, seek the Self.
Rohr is saying that to grow and expand in Self-knowledge, we must be active participants in the world; we must behaviorally apply through new action the learning we have captured in memory through previous action. In this way we keep the cycle of action-learning-action going, and hence, have the opportunity to evolve.
Seeking, recognizing, and accepting Truth is the ultimate magical formula that promotes positive understanding and learning, and then new action. Truth is the only energizing principle that prevents the new learning and action from spinning off into delusion. Sadly, many take that path, living—and feeding on delusional ideas. This is ego identity. Existing mostly according to the prompt of ego without subjecting behavior to the scrutiny of the Higher Self, leads quite easily to delusional thinking and consequent delusional action.
Therefore, it is by way of having this intimate partnership with Truth that the eventual love you speak of is generated. But, what is love? Here are some rather advanced portrayals of Love born of Truth:
* Realization of ultimate unity
* Recognition of oneself in all else
* Abandoning self-serving behaviors in favor of a pervasive mutuality
* Seeing through all diversity to its underlying essential core.
If this all too complex, it is only due to my inability to adequately express these simple truths to our tenaciously linear minds in simple words. As our consciousness evolves, more adequate words and concepts will reveal themselves and ring in our minds with a joyous universal tone.
I invite any discussion. Happy thinking.
Dr. T (2015)