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Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Action v Reflection (cont.)

A post from William:

... I think the whole subject of contemplation, adoration or action alludes to whole lot of things that are not really simple.

One of the first questions is obviously, is the metaphor used of contemplation, adoration or action reflecting what really happens when people do not get involved? I am not convinced that it is. So why do people not get involved and is it right to describe this as contemplation? It could be that they do not have anything to say about it or as Fr Ted said, it may not be of interest. But things are not so simple as saying things don’t interest you. I can feel comfortable with my life and take no interest in someone who needs help. I can be so divorced from other parts of the world because I have not experienced it,…although I may take a passing interest, I can’t comment.

Does this reflect a tension between contemplation, adoration, or action? And this assumes that these activities are separate. Hello……they are not! The only place they exist as separate entities is in an abstract sense…in idea only. You know what this means? This means that I can live in an abstract reality that is self perpetuating and self justifying. The intellect can always come up with reasons and justifications for ones own behaviour (ie ego). It is true to say that people will say something when they are interested though.

How do you move from non interest to interest? From non engagement to engagement? I have encountered many people who….well…can be described as not motivated. No ambition….and I have also encountered people who are motivated…by the wrong things…and yet others who do not appear motivated…..but you sense there is a real potential there….ready to go…...but they have not found that something that they feel passionate about. It is not easy to find that thing in life that really touches your heart and that lasts. And it is a journey to get there. I do not think you are born with it….although you may recognise those things that touch your heart as a child….before you get to complicated and filled with information that serves to confuse. Though wait a minute…the really interesting thing here is that those things that touch your heart and can move you usually (and I can’t think of any exceptions) are about something bigger than yourself. It is about being connected to something bigger than just you.

This is where I think Dave is spot on when he say’s that reflection or contemplation has to be informed by action, and that the environment gives you the framework in which we can think. Sometimes, though there is something touches one person who is in the same environment as another, and they have the…..whatever it is….and they don’t just do nothing….they do something. So what is it? I think there has to be some self honesty, and integrity (about what you do...because it is possible to think all the wonderful things and do nothing…thinking too much can be self delusional).

You can think a lot of wonderful things,…but do not have the qualities to match them in action. It is action where we face our own demons….our fears….doubts about who we are…do I believe in this enough to carry it through? Do I inconvenience myself and cause myself discomfort and possible injury to do something that is right…or for someone else? You only feel these dilemmas at the point of action. But it is difficult, and perhaps not possible to go from ones comfort zone to the big stage without meeting your little challenges along the way. It is,…I believe,…when you encounter something a little bigger than yourself and challenging….that poses a question to you…that you have your opportunity. There are many…..but again it is difficult to go from not facing those opportunities to facing them.

Part of the reason is that we hardly live in the moment. Our minds are so encumbered with information and concerns about the future…or the past…or what I have to do tomorrow…that we never know what it is like to grab now….the opportunity that comes NOW. I think mortality is something that can teach you to seize the day.

Returning to boxing as a metaphor for life….in the boxing ring you meet the challenge…your opponent…and this evokes a number of feelings in you…it may be fear, to which you may respond by becoming overly aggressive…or by alternatively by retreating. But you can decide how you will respond. When you slow things down enough to give yourself the chance to be choice-full…this does not have to be a intellectual exercise….it is a whole response…it is you.

One last thing. I think there is something really interesting about this thing that Dave suggests of “being informed by action”. You see I think by and large we learn to think and be as isolated minds and beings. It is the “ego I”…that does the thinking. But would you believe that there are a whole different set of thoughts…ideas…perceptions that you feel when you are connected to a larger reality…to someone else…..when you can switch of your own intellect….or lower your mind down to listen to something else.

This is a self that is not the ego self…..but a self that is connected to something bigger….that we are all connected to because we have this amazing thing called consciousness (or if you are inclined..spirit). This is the mover and shaker. You get connected…and you live the connection…you move. You act. There is no thinking about it…or contemplation….you know what to do. Or what you need to do. Whether you carry through with it is another matter. But it may become something that you may look back on and feel regret that you didn’t stand up and be counted.


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