02 May 2016

pain and time/ the wisdom of insecurity

-the increase in our overall sensitivity makes us peculiarly vulnerable.
-the further the power of consciousness ventures out into experience, the more is the price it must pay for its knowledge.
-if, then, we are to be fully human and fully alive and aware, it seems that we must be willing to suffer for our pleasures. Without such willingness there can be no growth in the intensity of consciousness.
-the more we struggle for life (as pleasure) , the more we are actually killing what we love.
-the reason that we want life to mean something, is not merely that we are trying to get away from an immediate experience of pain. nor is it for any such reason that we assume attitudes and roles as habits of perpetual self defense. the real problem does not come from any momentary sensitivity to pain, but from our marvelous powers of memory and foresight- in short from our consciousness of time.
-for an animal to be happy it is enough that this moment be enjoyable. But man is hardly satisfied with this at all. he is much more concerned to have enjoyable memories and expectations. with these assured, he can put up with an extremely miserable present. without this assurance, he can be extremely miserable in the midst of the immediate physical present.
-this is the typical human problem. the object of dread may not be the immediate future. it may be the problem of 'next months rent' . Or the spoiler of the present may not be a future dread but something out of the past, which haunts the present with a sense of resentment or guilt.
- the power of memories and expectations is such that for most humans the past and the future are not as real, but more real than the present. the present can not be lived happily unless the past is cleared up and the future is bright with promise.
-if my happiness at this moment consists largely in reviewing happy memories and expectations, i am but dimly aware of this present. I shall still be dimly aware of the present when the good things that i have been expecting come to pass. for i shall have formed a habit of looking behind and ahead, making it difficult for me to attend to the here and now. If then, my awareness of the past and future makes me less aware of the present, i must begin to wonder whether i am actually living in the real world.
-the future is quite meaningless and unimportant unless, sooner or later, it is going to become the present. thus to plan for the future which is not going to become present is hardly more absurd than to plan for a future which, when it comes to me, will find me 'absent', looking fixedly over its shoulder instead of into its face**
-they fail to live because they are always preparing to live. instead of earning a living they are mostly earning an earning, and thus when the time comes to relax they are unable to do so.
-the human problem: there is a price to be paid for every increase in consciousness. we cannot be more sensitive to pleasure without being more sensitive to pain. by remembering the past we can plan for the future. but the ability to plan for pleasure is offset by the ability to dread pain and to fear the unknown. furthermore, the growth of an acute sense of the past and the future gives us a correspondingly dim sense of the present.
-but does the desire for something prove that the thing exists? 
-it would seem that , in man, life is in hopeless conflict with itself. to be happy, we must have what we cannot have. in man, nature has conceived desires which it is impossible to satisfy. consciousness seems to be natures ingenious mode of self torture.
-we must look into this life, this nature, which has become aware within us, and fine out whether it is really in conflict with itself, whether it actually desires the security and the painlessness which its individual forms can never enjoy.

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