Saturday, September 15, 2012

Homo Viator

Scott Bradley

An idea of wanting enlightenment, release, happiness, contentment is a terrible disjoint at the core of somebody's being. Where they are and where their mind says they should be otherwise are in stark contrast.
("Stab Your Own Heart"; Ta-Wan)
This is unarguably an accurate description of the human condition generally. Wanting happiness is obviously a consequence of a sense of the lack thereof. However, this wanting is not the cause of the disease, but its symptom. It does not cause "the terrible disconnect at the core" of one's being, but is the consequence of that disconnect. That disconnect, moreover, is not a consequence of some moral failing, inexcusable ignorance, or foolish choice, but of the evolution of the human species. This is how human beings are. It is a given. The question remains, therefore, how this disease might be cured, if it can indeed be cured at all.

Quite frankly, I think that that question must necessarily remain unanswered for each individual until and if it is answered in that individual. To my thinking, there is absolutely no guarantee that it can be, any more than the lion will eat grass and lay down together with the lamb, an idealistic vision presupposing a purposeful Universe. In this sense, there is nothing to realize, until something is realized. By this I mean that there is no resolution to realize until one personally stumbles upon it; but in this case, there was never anything definitive to potentially realize. It does not exist until it happens; and it only happens in an individual.

There are numerous pre-packaged "answers" on offer, and for some these suffice to provide a path sufficient to their needs. That sufficiency is not generally had in the realization of a proposed answer, however, but in the struggle to realize it. This differs little from the purpose obtained from the successes of one's sport team; only the grander issue makes it seem so.

What remains, therefore, is a pilgrimage, a journey. There is clearly a contradiction in the rise of purpose in working through one's inherent sense of purposelessness, but unless one should miraculously wake up some morning so content in purposelessness that there is neither purpose nor purposelessness, some existential engagement seems necessary.

Life is struggle. All life is struggle. This is a given; it is not a metaphysical formula, but an empirical reality. And this, consequently, is where we begin. If there is a resolution in the cessation of struggle, it will arise from within that struggle. There are no bolts from beyond.

The Spanish existentialist Unamuno entitled a book Homo Viator, by which he encapsulated his understanding of the nature of humanity as pilgrimatic. "Man the Pilgrim". There are no 'answers' pre-existing the individual's creation of them. And no one else's 'answer' will ever do.

I think where Ta-Wan and I might diverge most significantly is precisely here, though we also significantly agree. For me, the mess is in large part the 'answer', for it is my existential reality. Being human, I seek happiness. The sage's map is drift and doubt because these are the givens of human existence. This is not to say that Ta-Wan's vision of Reality is not ultimately correct, but that from the midst of the mess, it seems idealistic and offers no existential way to realize it. We are often told that existence is an illusion; this may very well be the case, but we are obliged to ‘exist’ nonetheless. We short-change ourselves when we seek an external essence, a metaphysical ‘answer’, at the expense of the messy, hungry existence that we are.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

1 comment:

  1. Schopenhauer's words: 'Man can do what he wants, but he cannot will what he wills,'

    I prefer it as 'you can do as you want but not choose your wants'

    really we follow our nature and we don't choose our nature. if your nature is to seek then accepting that makes seeking satisfying. if it is your nature to seek and never be satisfied then that is the case.

    yes everyone has their own unique way and that is what Taoism says. I'm aware that my words are not for all and not even for me some days but I read a lot of words that weren't for me and they still got me here.

    I feel that sharing our differing ways is great for our development. even a murderer teaches, making it clear to the pacifist why they are who they are.

    our paths are similar but can never be the same.


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