Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Why Does it Hurt so Much?

If all of humanity were one single person, perhaps the image we would get is that of someone reeling down the street with one hand over their eyes and the other hand extended out, feeling for obstacles. More likely it would be a constantly morphing figure; old-young, man-woman, hips thrusting, club-wielding, alternatively weeping and laughing... a constantly shifting CGI effect, moving in two directions at once while always remaining in the same place while cities rise and fall.

George Orwell once said “If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever”. He also said, “Maybe this world is another world’s Hell.” There’s some truth to that. He might have better said, “Somewhere in this world at all times someone is stamping on someone’s face with a boot.” Or, “You can find Hell on Earth and Heaven too.” He wasn’t wrong, just extreme and not precise.

If it is happening to you, you could well believe that is all there is to this world. What strikes me is the irony of the landscape and the soundtrack; something like the rampage scene in Clockwork Orange with Beethoven. Bad things happen with flowers reaching toward the sun and Karen Carpenter singing “Close to you”. Shadows reach from beneath the trees at the playgrounds edge. They reach through childhood and beyond.

A clear mind, an undeceived mind knows that sorrow follows life. It’s a temporary world. Everything is on its way out from the moment it arrives. You are guaranteed to lose everything. Everything you love, no matter how tightly you hold on to it, will slip away. All of the evidence tells us so. Regardless of the irrefutable evidence, we don’t want to know. How can we harvest anything but pain? That which brings us the greatest happiness will hurt the most when it goes.

From a certain perspective life is grim. We have the long and short run of temporary fortune. We have the capacity to hope and dream. We can make the best of things but it ends and we are gone. We are on occasion ennobled by great sacrifice. Sometimes we are held up ignominiously before the entire world. Entire religions are formed around ennobling sacrifices. Somehow, in some lives, the act of giving up everything and being humiliated and killed inspires more hearts than any other accomplishments in the world. Now why would that be?

Why do we grant such honor to such seemingly sad tales? It is because these tales hold forth a conviction of some shining land beyond. There is something in the human psyche that is convinced that this world is not all that there is. History teaches us that this is a hard place. It shows us injustice on all sides. It gives laurel wreaths to undeserving frauds and ignores the best of us. It punishes virtue and rewards those who profit from human weakness and need. It honors murderers and thieves and explains their sins as being necessary for the times and the common good.

On the television and the radio, in the shop windows, on the billboards and the sides of buses are the lies of the moment repeated until the new lies replace them. False promises for a hundred thousand products that will change our life, reshape our form, end our loneliness and make us special are everywhere you look. This is the world that promises that something outside of you will transform what is within. Something outside of you will heal what it cannot touch and you will be all that you ever wanted to be. That’s not ever going to happen.

There is a reason that life tears you apart. It isn’t a pointless exercise of some biological imperative. It isn’t because an unfeeling, indifferent universe or a psychopathic God naturally causes or wants you to suffer. Life torments, tears and presses down upon you in order to liberate you into an eternal state of unending bliss. That is its precise and never changing intention and purpose. This is why life sends these examples of ennobling sacrifice.

If an angel of light enters into your dark prison and attempts to lead you out of your confinement and misery and you have confused your higher destiny with the rot and corruption of your mortal state and you wrap your arms in the prison bars and cry out to be left alone, then what?

Every temporary and mortal condition in this life, all of your losses, failures and humiliations; the bad health, the tortured circumstances, the intricate and unique composition of all your distress, is to direct your attention away from the prison house of your flesh. Every spiritual master; Buddha and Jesus Christ, Krishna and Lao Tzu... all of them that were and are and all of them since say the same thing. They give out the same game plan for behavior on the way and they promise the same result, NO MATTER how it might seem to conflict within the theater of your dual purpose mind... no matter how it may conflict with what you think you want.

27/7 across eternity there is a broadcast going on within. Outside is another broadcast which drowns out the broadcast within. The pain of existence is what eventually turns your attention from one broadcast to the other.

So, what do you do? If you know all of this, how do you work in your own best interests to cooperate with your liberation when, time after time, you continue to be your own worst enemy? It begins and ends in the mind. The first thing to grasp is that there isn’t anything you can do. Everything you are doing is the problem. There’s a trick of the mind that has to do with a re-positioning; it adjusts your awareness of personal effort to the understanding that everything proceeds from one will.

The practice of a disciplined life is nice work if you can get it. Yoga is a marvelous and complete system, if you could only understand it. The realm of the Hermetic Sciences and the occult are a wonder for the one in one hundred million who have come to the point where they can comprehend it. Solitude is rapture for the unique soul so disposed to its beauty. There are few enjoyments that can equal being a lonely star shining in the firmament. Such stars are not lonely. Movie stars are lonely.

We, the many, are seldom possessed of such discipline or capacity for higher knowledge. For some of us it is as Blake said, “The temple of excess leads to the palace of wisdom.” For the majority it is more like Woodsworth and the “lives of quiet desperation.”

No matter who you are, or how dense you may have been, everything changes when you recognize the Sisyphean nature of how your life has been. That isn’t your life. That is just a station of the cross, a temporary wayside. You cannot untangle yourself. The moment you recognize that everything is working toward your greatest good is the moment you can participate in the event by letting go of everything ‘before’ it gets snatched from you. It’s the leap of faith. It’s the raindrops merge into the ocean. It’s the actual moment when conception begins.

You can fight this and you do. It is what we all do all of the time. Eventually you will admit defeat and claim the victory and hear that timeless guitar lick that is the essential sensation of everything that ordinary rock and roll ever promised you. You will own the universe and be wonderfully at home within it the moment you recognize the mind behind it all.

You can’t get there by attempting to practice disciplines you don’t understand under the tutelage of people who don’t understand them either. You can’t get there analyzing texts and practicing magical rites. Strange uniforms and cycling rituals won’t take you there. The secret is in ‘what’ you love and losing everything else will ultimately leave you face to face with it. If what you love is eternal then it cannot be taken from you.

That piercing sensation of overwhelming love is the presence itself reminding you it is there and leaving no doubt that you are too. Only you know how long you will go on tormenting yourself. If you can’t feel anything then maybe you should prime the pump. Just remember who put your hand there and from what source the force to prime originates. Then... why... then it is mere child’s play.

Visible sings: Songwriter by Les Visible♫ Rocket Ship ♫
'Rocket Ship' is track no. 7 of 10 on Visible's 2006 album 'Songwriter'
Lyrics (pops up)

Songwriter by Les Visible


Anonymous said...

In order for us to recognize that something exists, something that stands in contrast to that 'thing' also must exist. For example, if everything was red, "red" wouldn't exist for us. Almost everyone can recognize the fleetingness of human existence. We all see how temporary this material existence is: we recognize our bodies and thoughts changing over the years, etc. In order for us to recognize this there must be something in ourselves that is not temporary. It's that essence within us that allows us to witness the fleeting nature of the human experience and ultimately (I'm thinking) offers us a way out. Applying that to what you are talking about here, it would seem that the point of individual suffering is to facilitate a shift in identification from the temporary aspects of what we think we are to the background awareness or essence that we actually are. Sometimes it happens by force (extreme suffering) and sometimes it's a conscious decision. All of this spiritual stuff revolves around the shift being a deliberate act.

Great essay today. Sorry for my long reply here. Sometimes it takes me awhile to make my point.


Anonymous said...


"There is a reason that life tears you apart."

Yeah. It's because I love so much and so many of life.

That's it baby! Man oh man, are you smokin', sizzlin', hot, hot, hot. Must be the heat? teehee

Wholly wow. That is music to mine heart. And now I need some new words to describe this essay, and the feelings and thoughts I get from it. :) On the other hand, maybe mmmmmmmm will suffice?

Every one deserves to read this, I'm a gonna' share it with some other hearts I know, online and off.

Take care man. Keep going. Please? Ok, that's just me being greedy now.

Did I say Thank You yet? Perhaps a Domo Origato ;)


ciao, annemarie


That was superb. And not long at all.

Compare and contrast. How else could we learn? And learn to appreciate? When my son was young he asked me why we had to have bad weather, like rainy days. After I explained that we all needed water, the plants and animals too, I told him that if every day was sunny, warm, dry, and clear, then how would we know (to appreciate) when we were having a good (weather) day.

Thank you :)

Anonymous said...

"27/7 across eternity there is a broadcast going on within."

btw Les, did you mean 24/7 in this, 8th paragraph from the bottom? If not, just ignore me, and I'll try to figure out what 27/7 means. heehee

ta, am

Visible said...

A play on words, since you can't measure eternity with time.

Hey Ben... seldom am I writing one of these when you don't come to mind. You've been reading and commenting here longer and more often than anyone else.

Have you gotten down to see Roy Eugene Davis again? I keep wanting to see him before he passes but I don't know when I'll be in the U.S again. He may outlast me any way; relatively speaking.

Anonymous said...

Les -

Believe it or not I still vividly remember the very first post of yours I ever read over at the "Fray". It resonated so strongly with me and I'd never read anything quite like it. And the same is still true now. These essays are one of a kind and are uniquely powerful. They have helped me tremendously on my path. I think in certain cases this writing has the power to induce instant and permanent change within the reader. I'm sure that I speak for most anyone that comes here when I say we are all grateful for your contribution.

As for Roy...I've seen him several times since our initial encounter a few years ago. The most recent time was March of '06 when I was visiting my parents who just so happen to live about 20 minutes from Roy. We also correspond via email every so often. When I was there he seemed very good, we had a great visit. I know he's probably approaching 80 but he takes very good care of himself and appears to be in excellent health and his mind is very clear and sharp. I'd imagine you have plenty of time to see him. If you don't want to come to the US you could probably catch him in India, Germany, or Italy. He goes to all of those places every year (even now at this age).

Let me know if you do decide to come to the states.

Annemarie - Thank you for the kind words. Makes me feel better...kind of felt like I was rambling on up there.


Anonymous said...

You've done it again you bastard.
What! Brought me to tears.

Anonymous said...

About 15 years ago, while I was speeding recklessly through morning city traffic in fear of a family tragedy occurring, I suddenly thought, "I can't do this".
I could kill myself and that wouldn't help anyone. And I shouldn't let other people, no matter how near or dear, do these things to me - endanger my life through fear.
It was an awakening.
I realised how lucky I was to have had what I have had, to this point in my life.
This particular perceived tragedy wasn't and life goes on.
But it was an awakening.


Singing Sparrow said...

Thank you.
I waited such a long time for your return and then I kept saying as I read-this is not the same person and I even felt afraid. I guess this is in the nature of being in love with someone out there.
Then I remembered to look over to this the mirror site and boing there you are.
Sometimes I understand so overwhelmed by love flowing and then in a twinkling I return to my agreed upon self.
Love to you and gratitude.

Visible said...

Just posted a new essay here at Reflections in a Petri Dish,


Anonymous said...

Please don't be embarrassed by this - none of us has perfect memories, least of all this writer - but I hope that it may be of some use to you in the future to be reminded that it wasn't in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World that the quotation "If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever" appears, but rather in George Orwell's 1984.

There is no need to publish this comment.



Anonymous said...

I guess what you are really talking about is detachment. If you can detach from every experience good or bad then you begin to understand how temporal this life really is. I appreciate your post.....

Anonymous said...

Sometimes I wonder...
Like clymela I look constantly for your work.
I waited so long for your return and when you did (this time) it wasn't you.
You are up to speed now and that is very much a relief and appreciated.
But, do we have so little going on in our life that we dote in anticipation of some new article from you? Is our mind so bereft of whatever you give us to be constantly searching for more? Are we so narrowly read that we have no other reading materials to abate our need? Maybe we’re autistic.
As I said, sometimes I wonder.

Visible said...


My deepest apologies. You are correct. I didn't understand your wording for a moment. I thought you were saying I had attributed the phrase to Brave New World- I got the quote by googling "Huxley and the first part of the quote and I got several hits for Huxley having said it. The reason I screwed up is because someone once told me the quote was by Huxley and so I was checking for the precise wording. After reflecting on what you had said I went and checked it with Orwell and that proves to be the source.

Once again, I am sorry I didn't understand what you were saying, The Brave New World reference threw me off. I will correct that portion immediately. I am grateful when anyone clears something like this up for me. I am in your debt.

Carmenisacat said...

Ah well and I popped back in.

It is really nice to see someone who wants to try to soothe others.

I guess I ought to try to attain more of that but seemingly...am unable.

There is a world wide fitna going on you know. It is my belief that there are preparations being made inside of every human heart. For some..I guess..that preparation does not bode well but for others who know about the eventual return of everyone to the very same thing via their death...there is security and peace in that.

What many people fail to gather (imho) is that peace isn't about this place. This place (as you have artfully represented in this musing) is temporary.

And it is Ali ibn Abi Taleb (pbuh) who said: Be in this world like a traveler.

Nice writing and good luck in where you travel.

Salaam wa alaikum wa rahmatullah.

Visible said...

LJ... Yes, here is a world of struggle. However, GOd is supreme and there is no force that can be raised against God so we should have no fear in our passage.

Good luck to you as well, but better that blessings accompany you. Luck is fickle and uncertain.

Anonymous said...

Probably fortunately, I didn't get a chance to read your original response to my message before you retracted it, so I have no idea what misinterpretation you may have put on it or what invective you may have sent in my direction as a result. At any rate, I am happy to accept your apologies for the offence that I might have felt if I had been able to read the response.

And just for the record, I only mentioned Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" in my message (together with Orwell's "1984") because I assumed that you had probably confused the two renowned dystopian novels when trying to think of the origin of the quotation - as I might myself have done.

Actually, I should have emailed my message to you, but I was too tired and lazy to go through the procedure (as I am now :-) ).

P.s. Have you read Huxley's "The Doors of Perception"? I would think that it might be right up your street.

Visible said...

I don't send invective. It wasn't anything like that.



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