Money is a meaning-laden symbol that shapes our thinking far, far more than many of us would care to admit. Some of us admit this matter with a sense of pride, although they might not make the statement as such (in other words, via euphemism, such as “I have a strong work ethic”, “dedicated worker”, “ambitious”, etc.) Others direct their thinking into strong abreactions and anti-formations.
This symbol that inspires humans toward (or away from) work proves that we exist (at least we live our mental lives) inside a kind of architecture of imagination. We even let this structure dictate more subtle and personal ideas like self-worth and our own attractiveness. We allow these extra-personal structures to break into our inter-personal mental life and become internalized judges and set measures and boundaries for us. Rarely do we question them, and if we do question them, do we ever question them enough?
In the West, we live in a situation in which the more personally significant symbols have been bullied into the background. This grates on our more original self, or maybe our “actual” self (for our current life situation requires a virtual self). A life-energy that we were born with, that connected us to our mother and to the energies that existed before we did. That same life-energy with which more “primitive” cultures seemed to have a direct line has been obviated or occluded by these brash money and media symbols; but, these old energies have not disappeared. We perhaps have become unable to recognize them, but they have not disappeared. When they disappear, if they ever should actually disappear, all life will disappear, and we will not know that they have gone because we will then be the void and will not be. (yikers)
Since we generally lack the symbolic vocabulary to engage the originating energies, and assuming we want to reengage them, we must make a beginning of scratching away the occluding symbols of our current society, so that we can see the symbols that point toward and gives us clues about these source materials. Many religions are able to accomplish something akin to this with icons. But when other symbols block the way, we have to find a way to disassemble the blocking architecture. (Incidentally, this is probably why Atari’s “Breakout” has had so many iterations, the idea strikes home, but we wonder why this little game is so fun, frustrating, and why we can’t seem to stop…)
Some Buddhists do this “breaking out” with the Kong An exercises, some people do this with LSD, others may use sweat lodges or asceticism to remove the barrier and place them in the more direct path of these symbols and the energies they whisper about. While most of these techniques have their qualified merits, they are not all very accessible to many of us. Stories are.
Stories are accessible.
These next few posts will make an attempt at this kind of reintroduction. The goal is for us to be able to disengage the interruptions of the market symbols (buying and selling) and to allow for a reconnect with the source materials. When we are reconnected to the source materials, we might discover that we are able to sense that harmony which exists within us even now, but that we are unable to read or to see or to feel.
While other techniques can work, they can also be romanticized or be used to exploit people. These upcoming articles seek to present the symbols and allow for the reader to experience them originally, without a specified structure for that experience.
“The sun is in the sky everywhere, why does a cloud obscure it?” 1st gate of Gate 7 of Seung Sahn’s 12 Gates