Everything has to start somewhere, for if there is no beginning, then inevitably, there cannot be anything following it, because otherwise, when would it have begun?? So since we need a beginning, let us begin at the beginning. The beginning of what you may ask?? To this I answer, the beginning of ourselves. Where do we start off, as people?? By this I do not mean people as in the larger population, but each person individually, where do we begin, and consequently, where do we end, since the notion of beginning itself brings about the idea of an ending?? The easiest and most frequent answer to this is that we begin and end where our bodies do, that we are defined and delimited by the physical shells we inhabit.
Yet is this an accurate answer?? In some sense, it is, because we are indeed restricted to our bodies while navigating the physical realm, we move with them, use them to interact with the outside world and they determine countless factors that influence us in our everyday life. Yet, despite all of this, is this really where we begin?? Isn’t there something deeper, more profound?? A whole other universe which we know exists, but are not necessarily always aware off, in the same sense we are of our bodies?? I believe so, and all it takes for anyone to verify the existence of this other realm, is to close their eyes and imagine themselves being in a place, any place, which makes them feel good, relaxed, at peace, and at home. The place in itself is irrelevant, but the simple fact that we can imagine ourselves being somewhere else than where we currently are shows us that there might be something other within us than only the body which delimits us. So since there is this mysterious place within our closed eyes, where do we fit in?? Are we only bodies who have the ability to imagine themselves in another place, imagining being whatever’s happening behind our shut eyes, which does not overlap the “reality” we see around us, and in which our bodies reside?? Or are we the opposite, creatures of our imagination who possess a body in the real world so that we can navigate in a realm common to others surrounding us?? Which comes first, the body or the mind?? This seems to be the question we have arrived at here, and it is a nice leap into the quest for where we begin as individuals, because we possess both of them, and even though they may have parts overlapping each other (inevitably…but going into depth there will be a story for another time), they are easily distinguishable.
Just as a clarification, throughout this post, and probably throughout most of my writings, what I refer to as the “real world” is nothing less than the reality we share with others, what two distinct individuals perceive the same way, or similarly, because everybody’s perceptions vary slightly. Also, what I refer to as mind in this case is simply what goes on in our heads, which no one else than ourselves will ever be have any kind of direct access to. Weird isn’t it?? The idea that there is a whole world within our heads that no other person will ever have access too…none other than ourselves, of course!!
Where were we…oh yeah, mind vs body…such a classical debate…well since we are looking for where we begin as individuals, why not go to the only place where we are perfectly alone, namely our mind?? I mean, our bodies are shared with the outside world, but since we are always within our heads, and that our minds usually act…well think…faster than our body can act, it seems to me that the realm within, i.e. our mind, comes prior to our body.
So now that we have found that mind comes before body, we can pursue our exploration of ourselves within this realm. How to do so?? Now this is a tricky question…how can we differentiate anything that is going on in our mind, and separate it so we could potentially analyze it properly?? I must admit that this is a question I am struggling with myself, because we have now fallen into the struggle between reason and intuition. But, what are those exactly??
First, let us take a quick look at intuition, because I believe that the key to our quest lies there (SPOILER ALERT!). Intuition is when we know something, whatever that might be, without having to think about it, it just sort off comes to us, but then we are convinced we know it. Intuition is something that we feel, more than something we think about, because there is no process to reach a certain intuition, it just seems to fly through our heads, but once it does, we are convinced of its truthfulness without a doubt. This may sound very vague and unclear, but intuition is intimately linked with our emotions and feelings, which are themselves very vague and unclear, but are nonetheless present and influence us tremendously. Animals, for example, thrive on instinct, because they do as they feel at all times, and follow their innermost desires or emotions, whether is has to do with hunger, fear, or joy.
Reason on the other hand has absolutely nothing to do with our emotions. It is the cold machinery we use to analyze the world, it is what we use to convince ourselves to do something which does not feel right, and it is what we use to solve complex problems. Reason has a certain power over us, to the extent that we let it, because unlike emotions and intuition, reason does not simply come and take us over, but it is rather a process in which we fall, whether it be consciously or not. That is where the key of reason lies: it is a process. The certainty of it does not just dawn upon us, as is the case with intuition, but we have to look for the end of it, we have to bring ourselves to the conclusion by thinking. As useful and important as that may be, it has also the danger of leading us to over-think, which then creates a blurriness between what we feel, and what we think we feel. Reason pushed to the extreme is embodied in machines and robots, because they do not possess the capacity to feel, and hence can only work with what they analyze and process.
To come back to where we begin as individuals, after having described reason and intuition, I believe that the best place for the answer to lie would be somewhere we could not corrupt by thinking, somewhere we can only know because we know it, i.e. instinctively. So if intuition is really the place where we all start as individuals, what does this imply for us?? Well, firstly, it would mean that all we ever wanted to know about ourselves is already inside of us. Secondly, those gut feelings we have, perhaps we should start listening to them. Thirdly, that annoying inner voice nagging at us when we are doing something we know we should not, well, that voice is actually us. Fourthly, we should stop doubting ourselves when we are truly convinced of something, especially when it has to do with ourselves. By this I do not mean that we should ever doubt anything that crosses our minds, quite the opposite, because reason can be a really dangerous master, and our perceptions may be erroneous from time to time, but it also means that, despite everything, we know what is best for us. And only once we have reached the point where we trust ourselves, truly trust ourselves, then we know that the fire we all have burning inside, is what drives us forward. Yet, to light that fire, one must be able to believe in one’s capacity to do the things one wants to do, and get rid of all doubt which may end up casting a shadow on it. We have to believe in ourselves. Only once we do, can we truly know where we begin as individuals, because how can we ever figure out who we are, if we cannot even believe that we might hold the right answer?? We could not, plain and simple. I know how cheesy this may sound, because it has been said countless times before, but this is where it all begins. Once we know we have the capacity to figure out who we truly are, and also believe the answers we may find, then we can progress on the path of self-realization, as difficult and unexpected as it might be.
Sadly, the world we live in does not promote any of this, because we are too absorbed by the superficial to dive deep into ourselves and find the things which truly matter. Which is also why I believe that meditation should be part of any school curriculum, starting as soon as the children have the capacity to sit down, close their eyes, and concentrate on their breathing. This is how to maintain the fire inside alive, we need to breath air into it constantly, and nourish it with things which make us feel happy about ourselves. No one can ever be content with themselves, if they are too busy focusing on things outside their inner realm, because no matter how many things you have laying around you, or even how many people you may have surrounding you, in the end, you will always be alone in your head. Our true self lies within, no one else can ever find that person for us, because we will always know ourselves best. It is our path, our quest, our mission, in order to be able to live the life we always wanted for ourselves.
Until next time,