News-in-Transition

Thursday, 13 July 2017

Image source - Scott Stulberg/Corbis

By Paul Rosenberg

When was the last time you tasted the sublime?

When did you last feel wonder?

Can you remember feeling awed by something?

These are things we need, if we are to thrive. They are fuel for the higher human abilities. If we lack them, as is currently endemic throughout the West, our higher abilities will lag.

For lack of better terms we can call these feelings “upward movements of the heart,” and we are diminished when there is a lack of them. Without them we fail to develop our higher capacities and insights. We slide more and more toward becoming, in one critic’s words, “mere trousered apes.”

I am certainly not the first person to notice this. Here, for example, is something Albert Einstein wrote on the subject:

The most beautiful thing we can experience is the mysterious. It is the source of all true art and science. He to whom this emotion is a stranger, who can no longer pause to wonder and stand rapt in awe, is as good as dead: his eyes are closed.

Here’s a comment from Mozart:

Neither a lofty degree of intelligence, nor imagination, nor both together go to the making of genius. Love, love, love, that is the soul of genius.

And here’s a poem from Richard Feynman:

Out of the cradle
onto the dry land
here it is
standing:
atoms with consciousness;
matter with curiosity.

Stands at the sea
wonders at wondering: I
a universe of atoms
an atom in the universe.

We need these things.

Currents to the Contrary

Sadly, the modern West has become a mad scramble to distract as many sets of eyes as possible, and to keep them – to own them – for as long as possible. And so long as professional distractors own your imagination, you won't experience much in the way of awe.

Think of Google and Facebook; these outfits bring in billions of dollars per month, based almost entirely on how much human attention they can capture. Likewise the many news networks; they get paid according to how many people watch their images for how many minutes. These people are serious about owning your brain cycles; they employ armies of employees to count, gather, plan, and improve their ownership of your eyes.

Please understand the content they deliver serves only to grasp your attention.

Certainly websites like Freeman’s Perspective also want your attention but not for its own sake. I want your attention because I think we have something worthwhile to communicate, not to own your brain. Facebook and Google want to own you… the inner you.

Likewise the lords of academia[1]; they want your mind to bear their impress... permanently.

Consider, for example, the many academics who espouse cold, rationalist, materialistic philosophies: that we are no more than preprogrammed machines, that words can never really communicate anything, that humanity is ignorant and dangerous.

Have you noticed that they reek of “smarter than thou”?

Then if you have the opportunity, examine their lives for beautiful acts, for loving passions, for kindness and deep benevolence. If your experience is anything like mine, you’ll notice a striking lack of those things.

The Contrasts

Among the greatest of all contrasts to the upward movements of the heart are those pertaining to dominance, status, and rulership. They are natural antagonists.

Think of drinking in the wonders of the universe, the beauty of nature, the glorious love between a good parent and their child… and then contrast those things with the blight of the dominator “protecting” you at the point of a sword… of the politician cultivating your fears like a gardener cultivates a garden… of the lover of status who feels pleasure when seeing you beneath her.

Dominance, status, and rulership are the drives of the people who abuse us. And they are primary causes for our elevated experiences being diminished.

Moving Past the Blockage

We need to get away from these people and beyond these foul concepts. And once we do, life will expand. Here to make that point is a final quote, this one from Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel:

The loss of awe is the avoidance of insight. A return to reverence is the first prerequisite for a revival of wisdom…

The things that contribute to our higher nature have been driven away from the Western world, and often systematically. Humans who are denuded of the higher things are far less trouble to rule, and they are far easier to manipulate… to own without their noticing...

Read more: Freeman's Perspective

 

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