Photograph by the author
There needs to be a new and different kind of depth within.
So much of what we engage in isn’t received at all by our inner parts; our impressions flow through us and create reactions, but they don’t deposit any durable substance of Being within us. Lacking that, we aren’t even aware of the problem; our superficiality seems normal, and even begins to appear to be a benefit of some kind, because it fosters and feeds our selfishness and allows us to even more easily lack consideration of other people—as if we weren't good enough at that already.
I wonder, as much on my own behalf as for anyone else, how much we see that.
It needs to be experienced as a fact and a truth, and not merely confronted using the intellect, which nods very sagely when it hears about the matter, but otherwise does little. The effort that’s needed to change any of this is much more visceral and physical. It involves leverage provided by the sensation and the feeling, either one of which actually has some strength and sinew to it—if only it were awake to the need.
Instead, folks use their minds and their mechanical parts to leverage almost everything they have to deal with in life. No one sits down within their bodies and their feelings to truly sense how they are; they just sit down inside their minds and think about how they ought to do this. What needs to be seen is that the mind that’s capable of real insight is made of a different kind of material—has a different level of vibration—than the mind of the intellect. The intellect is a professional at fantasy.
Of course you read this and think you understand what it means. Maybe you do, even a little bit. But in all likelihood what you have within you is for the most part an acquired and constructed understanding: an understanding acquired from others , not gleaned from the hard work of your own inspected and related inwardness. It’s an understanding which is furthermore constructed from bits and pieces you’ve picked up from here, there and everywhere and glued to yourself like the bits of shell a hermit crab disguises herself with so she can scuttle across the sea floor without being eaten.
One has to do better than this. And in order to do that the bits and pieces have to be discarded—admittedly at great risk, because the soft parts will then be exposed—so that what is true within you can be seen.
You have to develop an understanding which first of all belongs exclusively to yourself, not what others have told you; and secondly, is rooted in the organic sensation of your Being in such a way that it becomes a single whole thing, not a patchwork of ideas you’ve stuck together willy-nilly all over your psyche in a manner that suits your own tastes.
Lee van Laer is a Senior Editor at Parabola Magazine.