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Cultivating the inner life in dark times: Sanity and self-actualization, or delusion and escapism?

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posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 12:30 AM
Gloom is shading darker into bitterness and violence around the globe. You all are well familiar with the litany: Unrest in the Middle East; the developed economies in economic freefall with the bottom nowhere in sight; soaring food prices in third world threatening to light the tinderbox of large, disaffected, poverty-stricken populaces; the deployment of frightening technological prowess for ever more repressive ends as a lockdown surveillance society emerges; cultural tensions, the decay of the old order and morality, not to mention the rule of law and the very fabric of civility; nightmare pathologies blossoming in stressed-out societies that are overmedicated via their very food and water...and even darker visions lurching into view.

Amid all this, how are we to cultivate our inner life? By "inner life" I mean, in the widest possible sense, the solitary, the personal, the transcendent. Perhaps, in your case, it is the clarity of focused concentration brought to bear on whatever intellectual pursuit most interests you. Perhaps it is a spiritual or mystical practice or tendency. Perhaps a dedication to a craft, job, sport, or other pursuit that goes beyond dilettantism and means more to you than money. Whatever it may be, we all have the options of constructing rich inner worlds that corkscrew off in many directions, and most on ATS have done extensive work on themselves in this sense, in some way or other. Entire lifetimes could be (and have been) spent by the worlds' greatest geniuses plumbing the depths of intellect, spirit, reason, and emotion...without coming close to exhausting the infinite within.

I am curious as to how ATS members view the inner world, especially as times darken. Don't forget, some of the most profound exploration of the inner world has taken place in history's darkest times. Renee Descartes opened the doors to modern philosophy while scribbling away as a young soldier amid the hellscape of the Thirty Year's War. Religious saints and hermits, Eastern and Western alike, built magnificent metaphysical edifices in bleak landscapes of torture, barbarism, brutality, and unspeakable misery.

And yet at the same time there is always the nagging sense that to turn too far inward is to in some way abdicate part of your humanity -- the social, the political. Is excessive navel-gazing simply infantile escapism and a turning away from the hard choices and responsibilities we must bear? Anyone with children knows you can't run off to the mountains and grow a beard in a cave alone, for example, and the demands of compassion keep us tied to this world -- to protect our families, to serve our communities. Others yet say that the strongest path of all is a fusion of the inner and the outer. ("Zen in daily life is ten-thousand-times as great as Zen in silence" -Zen master Hakuin Ekaku [paraph.]).

What does ATS think? How do you balance the inner and the outer spheres? It is a wide topic, and all comments are welcome.

edit on 2/6/11 by silent thunder because: (no reason given)

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 01:16 AM
Even if some think you're a crackpot lunatic.. I have to say I truly think you're trying to post a positive message to enlighten others and relieve stress.. I find this quite noble and admirable of you.

Star and Flag.

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 01:38 AM
You ask a question "thousands" have asked before. Almost like asking for the meaning of life. BUT

with our growing level of hygeine (only works if others around also contribute) and growing level of technology (again works best with more using tech) wait a sec.. I seem to see a trend..

no worries, evil will come and snuff out your idea. Grand as the concept seems, this world will be wiped clean soon most probably. and Im a cheerful guy personally, I just see as more "awakening" is happening, the more people "create" their own realities and just plain believe in nonsense. This world had its chance, and the general population got F**d big time.

I wish it werent so, but as the days turn to months, turn to years.. yeah. In my generation, it will pop..(im in my mid 30s)

Theres my first prediction.. should start my own thread.... lol no actually the potential end of our current civilization is no laughing matter, but since no one else seems to take life seriously, why should I? arent i an energy thingy that will live past this corpeal body.. what matters what happens to my matter?? lol

(sry Carnival du Quebec parade tonight, maybe had a few to many drinks lol)

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 03:03 AM
The whole world is recreated fresh each moment, and on first waking in the morning, before we remember who we think we were, anything is possible.

When our thinking changes and our perception of the world and the way it REALLY works changes, and when we start to become the very change we seek without, starting with ourselves, then it's a whole new ballgame, and at the very least we will be much better equipped to respond to the vissisitudes of life with a much higher degree of equanimity, even in the midst of the chaotic storm.

There's a rock of peace upon which anyone can found their "house", and it's available all the time, all we have to do is find it.

It's also a fucrum point of leverage by which to plant seeds of optimism capable of moving whole mountains of historical causation.

For me I then turn to my faith, not as blind faith, but as the only reasonable and logical conclusion to draw in the face of any amount of adversity or suffering, recognizing that love conquors all and rules the universe.

The human species just needs to get back into alignment with our true self and our true spirit and destiny, so that arriving where we first started we will once again know that sacred place as if for the first time, and have the courage to willingly accept our divine birthright prepared for us from before the very foundation of the Earth.

Everyting else is just BS and details, imho.

There is only one thing going on of any consequence or sigificance whatsoever, and once we figure that out, then a way will be made.

"Someday, after mastering the winds, the waves, the tides and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love, and then, for a second time in the history of the world, man will have discovered fire."
— Pierre Teilhard de Chardin

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 03:28 AM
reply to post by silent thunder

As I learn ever more horrible things about the world we live in, I contemplate the psychology and philosophies which contribute to those things. In so contemplating, I also have to think alot about my own life philosophy and how it can be improved. I imagine ways to improve on our dominant philosophies as a civilization.

An old friend of mine told me that obstacles are opportunities. They give us an opportunity to improve, to surpass our expectations, to rise above our supposed limitations. I guess I try to think of it that way. We're being challenged to become better. By "we", I mean human society. And it seems, to me, like our development relies on our philosophy. Our social/political/spiritual philosophy.

So, anyway, I don't really meditate or anything, not according to the modern definition anyway. The old definition is "to think" really, and I do alot of that. Isn't that funny the more 'new age' definition of meditation is actually "not thinking"? Hmm... interesting.

I'm not as positive and enlightened as I felt I was before I started allowing myself to learn about 'conspiracies'. Now I don't think I can feel so satisfied and "at one" until I figure out exactly how/what I am going to contribute to my world. Most of my time is spent staring at my navel, as you put it... not to escape really, but to figure out a way we can all escape together.

posted on Feb, 6 2011 @ 03:31 AM
Currently, I perceive my inner world as a vast and complex machine, however, in the background is me, pulling the levers, making adjustments, re-designing, re-building, and upgrading various parts and components. Whenever a weakness is detected, I immediatley rectify it. In the background is an advanced model of human behaviour, that is the framework of my sense of morality. It is a remarkably complex process, however, I have found the spark of life, the best way to describe it is "hope" and I have noticed that just about every individual that lacks "hope" is in some way or another trying to get me to "fall" back to "reality".

Addition: My model of human behaviour has become complex to the extent of reaching into the very fabric of the the natural laws that govern the living world, that is, the core principles and rules that all life has to obey. I find that many of the problems of this world are due to what is called "sin" or basically, going against the core principles of nature in an attempt to escape the problem of "death". At the core of all evil, is the fear of death, the fear of permanant and final death.

You could say that, Eve was given the knowledge of her own death. The other animals just "exist" and do not perceive "death" or "nonexistence".
edit on 6-2-2011 by SystemResistor because: (no reason given)

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