How do we live a life where we can
be a source of wisdom for others? How can we manage our faith, fears and most
of all enjoy the experience? The quote which interested me the most is the
following which answers these questions.
up defining yourself – to yourself or to others. You won’t die. You will come
to life. And don’t be concerned with how others define you. When they define
you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever you interact
with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but as a field
of conscious Presence. You can only lose something that you have, but you
cannot lose something that you are.”
Why is it a good idea to stop
defining ourselves? Because, definitions are often not 100% correct. Imagine a
group outing, mostly young men wearing polo shirts. The waitress asks for their
order, one of them orders a veggie burger and sweet potato fries. A friend
sitting across from him asks,
“Sameer, are you a vegetarian?”
has a decision to make in a split second; he can choose from two different
producing its own different results.
A. Answer yes! This will produce a
quick understanding in the group.
B. Answer sort of but not really! Which
is the truth but may lead to more questions.
A is attractive because it answers the question quickly, although Sameer eats
meat on occasion. Answer B is the correct answer, but he knows it may cause him
to be the center of attention with follow-up questions. What really is a
“vegetarian?” There are many different answers to that question. But collective
social behavior prefers using general definitions to keep everybody understanding
the conversation. In “The Motive for Metaphor”, Stevens describes three uses of
language as the following.
“1. ‘The language of consciousness or awareness’ is our means
of ‘self-expression,’ our means of responding to the natural environment: ‘the
world as it is.’ This language produces conversation.
2. ‘The language of practical sense’ is our
means of ‘social participation,’ our means of taking part in our civilization.
This language produces information.
3. ‘The language of literature’ is our means of
entering the world of imagination: ‘the world we want to have.’ This language
produces poetry, first of all.’
The first two
categories precisely describe the context in which Sameer found himself at that
restaurant. It was not the time or place to start a lengthy philosophical
discussion on the definition of “vegetarianism” and how he defined himself. He
1. Respond to his friend with a general definition “as he is”.
2. Take into account “social participation” and that not
everyone at the table is interested in “the world as he would want to have it”.
But, Sameer also could
have started a group conversation about his understanding of the definition
“vegetarian”. He could have included others and ask for their opinion to get
involved. In this way, he would fulfill the first part of the quote above.
“Give up defining yourself – to yourself or to others.
You won’t die. You will come to life.” (Tolle)
For instance Sameer in
starting that conversation would encourage the group to think more closely
about how definitions should not define us. If he encounters any hostility from
any narrow-minded peers, he can be comfortable with the following.
they define you, they are limiting themselves, so it’s their problem. Whenever
you interact with people, don’t be there primarily as a function or a role, but
as a field of conscious Presence” (Tolle)
However, it is
ultimately up to Sameer whether not he wants to be a “conscious presence” or
the “enlightened one”. He will have many other opportunities to do this.
This type of vocabulary “conscious” and “enlightened one’ has
a deep, spiritual tone to it like the content of the film “The Waking Life”. In
the film, the dream world and waking life are explored and intersect to make us
question our existence. When Sameer digests this film, or if he has this level
of understanding which is explained below.
“It is this surreal existence, flourishing
with endless ideas and possibilities, that ultimately leads to the question —
Are we sleep-walking through our waking state or wake-walking through our
dreams?” (Google Synopsis)
A lucid dreamer is
one who lives in a very high level of awareness, in so much that one can
determine if one is dreaming within the dream. There are many ways in which
lucid dreamers are able to figure this out. In a dream state, time is not
linear it flows in a different way. So, a good way to figure out you are
dreaming is to check the clock twice within 5 seconds. In a dream state, the
times will be completely different. Or, what I’ve found is that technological
devices have a blank face like a plastic toy from a kindergarten class. So, if I
ever pull out my cell phone and it doesn’t look right I know I’m dreaming. After
I make that realization, I then have the ability to manipulate the world in
which I’m experiencing in a circular loop. But, it is not a full 100% control,
it’s a loop where I enjoy floating around the city. Although, despite this
great ability to fly, the sky can get bitterly cold and scary if you are
floating above a dark abyss of forest. If Sameer has reached this level of
consciousness, he will take this opportunity to become a teacher. He will not
perceive this as a negative but a positive experience to be able to educate and
engage with his friends. Once he does this, he will notice that there will
still be challenges. But, his response to them will be “enlightened” and he
will enjoy a profound new power in being able to positively influence the
Earlier in the description of the waking
dream floating through the air, I mentioned that it can quickly turn quite
scary. This is where our primal emotion of fear kicks in. We tend to think of fear
as a negative experience. But in the TED Talk by Karen Thompson Walker “What
Fear Teaches Us”, she describes that fear is an imaginative tool or story which
we can use to prepare ourselves. To Karen fear is an imaginative story, which
read correctly can be used to avoid disaster. Fear is us projecting ourselves
into the future, after walking down a certain path. So, she describes a study
where successful entrepreneurs have a “productive paranoia” which leads them to
prepare for imaginative eventualities or challenges. Instead of dismissing
their fears, they translate these fears to acknowledgement and action which
prepares them for the worst. Therefore, at our highest form of consciousness we
can welcome fear because it prepares us to solidify our existence or to balance
In the book “Not Wanted On the
Voyage” by Timothy Findlay it describes this desire for balance in our lives.
“In the dark that followed – Lucy said; “where I was born, the
trees were always in the sun. And I left that place because it was intolerant
of rain. Now, we are here in a place where there are no trees and there is only
rain. And I intend to leave this place – because it is intolerant of light.
Somewhere – there must be somewhere where darkness and light are reconciled.
So, I am starting a rumor, here and now, of yet another world. I don’t know
when it will present itself – I don’t know where it will be. But – as with all
those other worlds now past when it is ready. I intend to go there.” (Findlay)
This understanding of “power in the
conscious” is central to this excerpt as well. In which Lucy sees something
wrong in her life and desires a more balanced version of it. This like us
dealing with fear. Her awareness or “consciousness” of the issue is the first
step towards a solution. Such is the same with “lucid dreaming” or Sameer
making the quick realization that use this question as an opportunity to add
his own definition to the conversation. After making this realization, she is
able to start a rumor of the place where she intends to go. This is a clear
symbol of understanding one’s own power in faith. According to the Gospel of
Mark, Jesus also taught this lesson.
“Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask
for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” (Mar 11: 24)
He understood that
first one must make the realization of what lacks, then give thanks for the
solution, truly believe that the solution has come and it will.
So, this is the way in which I
believe we must live a fulfilled life. Truly understanding and living out these
principles will allow us to live a life where revenge is not necessary. In
Hamlet, we see so much unnecessary suffering due to an immature understanding
of life and seeking to avenge others. Let’s live lives which are fields of
conscious presence and a blessing to everyone we meet!