So far it is estimated around 107 billion people have ever lived on earth. When I was fairly new, perhaps five years old, I sensed something needed working out, that there was something behind what was being presented by everyone else around me. Divorced from the norm, I felt already doomed to be a nowhere man, nationless, bereft of life among people, alone in the crowd, I took a long look inward.
Undoubtedly we all have unanswerable questions to ask, but we can learn to trust the perfection wrapped in imperfection. We can believe that whatever curiosity the order of things has awakened in our minds, the order of things can satisfy. Everyone’s condition is another’s solution in hieroglyphics. Except when it isn’t…
One cannot truly describe experience. Poets, philosophers, artists, writers and countless others have been trying to describe the ultimate mystery of experience since the beginning of time. Phenomenology and existential philosophy tries to grasp the ungraspable… of this, which we can in the end, only point to. And without a map? Meaning, purpose and wisdom can be found in the divine, symbolic meta-stories of our great spiritual traditions and religions. And all around, within and without, lies the awesome truth we all share, hidden in plain sight, beyond meaning or measure.
According to Fernand Deligny, we live life as language-grounded human subjects, in what he calls our “thought-out-project”, bound by the straight jacket of humanity, with our so-called progress, fragmented thinking, crises in selfhood and communication, endless reductionism, positivist science and the bizarre homogeneity and regulative norms that condition our being-ness and access to our own unbelievably astounding and unlikely personal and collective existence.
So the essence of existential experience is beyond notions of space, time and separate self. Experience experiences itself in the centre of pure consciousness. Overwhelming tragicomedy of the planet aside (and it is a divine play or ‘lila‘ according to Hinduism), consciousness is, well, just conscious. It doesn’t go anywhere. Without it, perhaps we are nothing. Consciousness is the special and unique essence of everything, it gives rise to all things, this and that, birth and death, me and you, us and them and freedom.
Writing a memoir is largely a selfish affair, but I think after twelve years of it, it’s almost cooked. I started as a blogger when I was switched on by the ‘liveness’ of writing for the internet reader. The writing has matured into something to share with you.
In my youth I took the path of the seeker, to find the ultimate truth, at whatever cost. It was a path from innocent wonder and confusion to a truth, a realisation found through a path of sacrifice, pain and devastation. I write in detail about this frantic and many-facetted journey, while on this journey.
In starting to write, I had a quandary. I asked, how can I engage in personal reflective writing, when the aim for so long has been to overcome the separate-self illusion? In making this intention to ‘die before you die’ (you know the phrase), I discovered a paradox. I wrote words to try to make sense or make meaning out of life and the story keeps arising anew, the power in the pure experience fading while new horizons of understanding are generated. And I myself am soon gone, yet the pages will remain.
When I set out on the path of self-discovery as a kid, I made the commitment to become as fully conscious as I could. I knew not why I was here, despite asking, I had grown the intense conviction that I wanted to see myself and all of myself and the whole of the world objectively, from the outside, by whatever means. I perpetually asked if it’s possible. My goal was to increase my awareness to a point of transcendence over the sense of a separate self, to reach God-consciousness and no less. And I wanted the noise and questioning to stop, to be silent and to ask no more. To be.
We humans are suspicious and afraid of our own silence more than that of others. But it’s too easy to continue to speak for its own sake and rather than being reflective and silent we compete and conceptualise. Our minds frantically continue in their task of perpetually looking for something or someone to calculate and formulate and quantify, using the senses then reflecting outward, avoiding looking at the uncomfortable questions deeper within the silence of pure wonder. People talk everywhere all the time, at school, on TV, in shops, on buses, in pubs and restaurants. Everywhere in our society, people are talking, talking, talking over one another and at each other, producing a cacophony of voices with opinions, protests, debate, fight-for-your-right, false-democracy and cruel oppression, where silence is also even used as a weapon. With words we have hung, drawn, quartered and doomed ourselves and the gold of silence. Regulated, normalised society can be stifling, boring and meaningless and at times, terrifying. I know too well silence can be a radical stance, but perhaps as demonstrated by a young student in one of my private art classes who wrote on her personal mandala, “I am really not good with words”, my drive, in which this writing exercise has played a large part, is to give others the opportunity and right to be silent for a while, to not take a stance but be ‘nothing’, to allow for a deeper, truer voice to emerge, to bring us back to a state of unity with life, to experience being alive and the miracle of creation itself.
I can’t really recommend becoming obsessed with the relentless search for deeper and deeper meaning. This was about survival. My father accused me of ‘too much navel gazing’ and then the establishment labelled me autistic. The rabbit hole has some dark and quiet corners where we’re not supposed to go, but I’ve fell into some of them, and some of them came to me, and very occasionally still do.
In conclusion, when we lose authenticity and openness to the fact that everything, we included, is ultimately part of the whole, (therefore you and I are the whole), things go wrong. We talk about fairer societies and use words like diversity, equality, inclusion and belonging, yet no one can belong anywhere if we don’t know who we are, or where we are meant to be situated within ourselves to begin with. If we did, the world would be a very different place.
I’m curious about that.
All artwork & photos © J Drury 2000 – 2023