The Wisdom of Insecurity de Alan W. Watts

I.

To the degree, then, that life is found good, death must be proportionately evil. The more we are able to love another person and to enjoy his company, the greatest must be our grief at this death, or in separation. The further the power of consciousness ventures out into experience, the more is the price it must pay for its knowledge. It is understandable that we should sometimes ask whether life has not gone too far in this direction, whether “the game is worth the candle,” and whether it might not be better to turn the course of evolution in the only other possible direction -backwards, to the relative peace of the animal, the vegetable, and the mineral.

II.

After all this, the brain deserves a word for itself! For the brain, including its reasoning and calculating centers, is a part and product of the body. It is as natural as the heart and stomach, and, rightly used, is anything but an enemy of man. But to be used rightly it must be put in its place, for the brain is made for man, not man for his brain. In other words, the function of the brain is to serve the present and the real, not to send man chasing wildly after the phantom of the future.

III.

You want to be happy, to forget yourself, and yet the more you try to forget yourself, the you remember the self you want to forget. You want to escape from pain, but the more you struggle to escape, the more you inflame the agony. You are afraid and want to be brave, but the effort to be brave is fear trying to run away from itself. You want peace of mind, but the attempt to pacify it is like trying to calm the waves with a flat-iron.

IV.

But very obvious things are often overlooked. If a feeling is not present, you are not aware of it. There is no experience but present experience. What you know, what you are actually aware of, is just what is happening at this moment, and no more.

V.

The real reason why human life can be so utterly exasperating and frustrating is not because there are facts called death, pain, fear or hunger. The madness of the thing is that when such facts are present, we circle, buzz, writhe, and whirl, trying to get the “I” out of the experience. We pretend that we are amoebas, and try to protect ourselves from life by splitting in two. Sanity, wholeness, and integration lie in the realization that we are not divided, that man and his present experience are one, and that no separate “I” or mind can be found.

VI.

If, on the other hand, you are aware of fear, you realize that, because this feeling is now yourself, escape is impossible. You see that calling it “fear” tells you little or nothing about it, for the comparison and the naming is based, not on past experience, but on memory. You have then no choice but to be aware of it with your whole being as an entirely new experience. Indeed, every experience is in this sense new, and at every moment of our lives we are in the midst of the new and the unknown. At this point you receive the experience without resisting it or naming it, and the whole sense of conflict between “I” and the present reality vanishes.

VII.

To remain stable is to refrain from trying to separate yourself from a pain because you know that you cannot. Running away from fear is fear, fighting pain is pain, trying to be brave is being scared. If the mind is in pain, the mind is pain. The thinker has no other form than his thought. There is no escape. But so long as you are not aware of the inseparability of thinker and thought, you will try to escape.
From this follows, quite naturally, absorption. It is no effort; the mind does it by itself.

VIII.

Discovering this the mind becomes whole: the split between I and me, man and the world, the ideal and the real, comes to an end. Paranoia, the mind beside itself, becomes metanoia, the mind with itself and so free from itself. Free from clutching at themselves the hands can handle; free from looking after themselves the eyes can see; free from trying to understand itself thought can think. In such feeling, seeing, and thinking life requires no future to complete itself nor explanation to justify itself. In this moment it is finished.

The Lonely City de Olivia Laing

I.

If you´re lonely this one´s for you.

II.

What does it feel like to be lonely? It feels like being hungry: like being hungry when everyone around you is readying for a feast. It feels shameful and alarming, and over time these feelings radiate outwards, making the lonely person increasingly isolated, increasingly estranged. It hurts, in the way that feelings do, and it also has physical consequences that take place invisibly, inside the closed compartments of the body.

III.

If I could have put what I was feeling into words, the words would have been an infant wail´s: I don´t want to be alone. I want someone to want me. I´m lonely. I´m scared. I need to be loved, to be touched, to be held.

IV.

If they had earlier been lonely, they now have no access to the self that experienced the loneliness; furthermore, they very likely prefer that things remain that way. In consequence they are likely to respond to those who are currently lonely with absence of understanding and perhaps irritation*.
*Robert Weiss, Loneliness: The Experience of Emotional and Social Isolation.

V.

Loneliness profoundly affects an individual´s ability to understand and interpret social interactions, initiating a devastating chain-reaction, the consequence of which is to further estrange them from their fellows.
When people enter into an experience of loneliness, they trigger what psychologists call hypervigilance for social threat (…). In this state, which is entered into unknowingly, the individual tends to experience the world in increasingly negative terms, and to both expect and remember instances of rudeness, rejection and abrasion, giving them greater weight and prominence than other, more benign or friendly interactions. This creates, of course, a vicious circle, in which the lonely person grows increasingly more isolated, suspicious and withdrawn.

VI.

If you are not being touched at all, then speech is the closest contact it is possible to have with another human being (…). The irony is that when you are engaged in larger and more satisfactory intimacies, these quotidian exchanges go off smoothly, almost unnoticed, unperceived. It is only when there is a paucity of deeper and more personal connection that they develop a disproportionate importance, and with it a disproportionate risk.

VII.

That loneliness can derive from the conviction that there is no person or group to which one belongs. This not belonging can be seen to have a much deeper meaning. However much integration proceeds, it cannot do away with the feeling that certain components of the self are not available because they are split off and cannot be regained. Some of these split-off parts… are projected into other people, contributing to the feeling that one is not in full possession of one´s self, that one does not fully belong to oneself or, therefore, to anybody else. The lost parts too, are felt to be lonely.
Melanie Klein

VIII.

 The way I recovered a sense of wholeness was not by meeting someone or falling in love, but rather by handling the things that other people had made, slowly absorbing by way of this contact the fact that loneliness, longing, does not mean one has failed, but simply that one is alive.

IX.

Loneliness is collective; it is a city. As to how to inhabit it, there are no rules and nor is there any need to feel shame, only to remember that the pursuit of individual happiness does not trump or excuse our obligations to each another. We are in this together, this accumulation of scars, this world of objects, this physical and temporary heaven that so often takes on the countenance of hell. What matters is kindness; what matters is solidarity. What matters is staying alert, staying open, because if we know anything from what has gone before us, it is that the time for feeling will not last.

How to love de Thich Nhat Hanh

I.

True love includes a feeling of deep joy that we are alive. If we don´t feel this way when we feel love, the it´s not true love.

II.

Often, we get crushes on others not because we truly love and understand them, but to distract ourselves from our suffering. When we learn to love and understand ourselves and have true compassion for ourselves, then we can truly love and understand another person.

III.

We tend to wonder if we have enough to offer in a relationship. We´re thirsty for truth, goodness, compassion, spiritual beauty, so we go looking outside. (…) A true partner or friend is one who encourages you to look deep inside yourself for the beauty and love you´ve been seeking.

IV.

Sometimes we feel empty, we feel a vacuum, a great lack of something. We don´t know the cause; it´s very vague, but that feeling of being empty inside is very strong. We expect and hope for something much better so we´ll feel less alone, less empty. The desire to understand ourselves and to understand life is a deep thirst. There´s also the deep thirst to be loved and to love. We are ready to love and be loved. It´s very natural. But because we feel empty, we try to find an object of our love. Sometimes we haven´t had the time to understand ourselves, yet we´ve already found the object of our love. When we realize that all our hopes and expectations of course can´t be fulfilled by that person, we continue to feel empty.

V.

To love is to offer the other person joy and a balm for their suffering.

El libro de los cinco anillos de Miyamoto Musashi

He aquí las reglas que observar por todos los interesados en aprender este Código Marcial:

Primero, no pienses en nada malo.
Segundo, cultiva la Vía.
Tercero, expande tu cultura y conocimiento de otras artes y técnicas.
Cuarto, aprende los principios de distintas profesiones.
Quinto, identifica los perjuicios y beneficios de todo asunto.
Sexto, intuye el verdadero valor de las cosas.
Séptimo, percibe lo que no se ve.
Octavo, presta atención a los detalles más nimios y las cosas más insignificantes.
Noveno, no hagas lo que no sirva para nada.

Ante todo no hagas daño de Henry Marsh

La vida sin esperanza es tremendamente difícil, pero con cuánta facilidad consigue la esperanza, en definitiva, volvernos necios a todos.

Ve y pon un centinela de Harper Lee

I.

(…) El señor Stone puso ayer en la iglesia un centinela. Debería haberme dado también uno a mí. Necesito un centinela para que me guíe y me diga lo que ve cada hora a la hora en punto. Necesito un centinela que me diga “esto es lo que dice fulano y esto es lo que quiere decir de verdad”, que trace una raya en medio y diga “aquí hay una justicia y aquí hay otra” y me haga entender la diferencia…

II.

-Es por el alcohol. Dime qué tienes dentro de esa cabecita.
– Un espacio en blanco, mi señor*-respondió débilmente.

*Cita de Noche de reyes, de Shakespeare.

III.

La isla de cada ser humano, Jean Louise, el centinela de cada uno, es su conciencia. Eso de la conciencia colectiva no existe.

IV.

Yo fui en tiempos una joven muy rara,
que sufría de tedio y a la mínima se desmayaba.

Tokio, año cero de David Peace

Tokio Año CeroMi duda siempre ha sido la misma: ¿por qué nunca he percibido rencor por parte de los japoneses hacia el ejército invasor tras la Segunda Guerra Mundial? ¿Porque realmente no hubo, porque siempre me salto veinte años de historia y abro los ojos en un Japón ya reconstruido o porque a nadie le interesa hablar de este tema en profundidad?

Hace unos meses, para intentar comprender, me apunté a un curso impartido por la Universidad de Tokio llamado “Visualizing Postwar Tokyo”. En él, el profesor Yoshimi Shunya asegura que el motivo de esa ausencia fue el traspaso de culto: sustituyeron al emperador por el General McArthur y siguieron con sus vidas.

¿Pero qué vidas tenían? ¿Cómo vivieron los japoneses en Tokio justo después de la guerra? ¿Pasaron hambre? ¿Qué hacían para conseguir comida? ¿Acudían al mercado negro? ¿Las mujeres se prostituían? ¿Tenían empleos? ¿Cómo funcionaban las instituciones? ¿Y la policía? ¿Era corrupta? ¿Cómo trabajaba el ejército estadounidense para controlarlas? ¿Qué pasó en Tokio justo antes de que llegaran las reformas?

David Peace responde con dos onomatopeyas: “ton-ton”, el incesante sonido de los martillos que construyen y reconstruyen edificios y “gari-gari”, el infinito picor producido por los piojos que poblaban todas las cabezas japonesas. El Tokio del año cero de David Peace es miserable, corrupto, podrido, triste, deprimente, asfixiante y desesperanzador. Pero interesante, revelador y real también. El hilo conductor de la novela negra son los asesinatos cometidos por Yoshio Kodaira y la investigación del detective Minami. El asesino es real, el policía, ficción.

Si bien su retrato sensato de la capital japonesa un año después del fin de la guerra me ha resultado más útil que cualquier otro relato histórico de no ficción, la forma en la que está escrita la novela desquicia. Despista también. Requiere una atención fuera de lo habitual y, por qué no decirlo, la destroza. En la portada comparan a Peace con Ellroy. Para mí no existe la similitud. Ellroy sabe dónde está el límite porque sabe escribir. De Peace, pese a que entiendo sus motivos, no puedo decir lo mismo.

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