Saturday, April 11, 2009

What We Are

That which we are most fundamentally within ourselves is not our ego. Yet that which we are most fundamentally within ourselves is not the ‘they’ either.

To my understanding, Heidegger, in rallying people to be authentic by shunning the impersonal ‘they’ of an unchosen, prescribed social conformity, was not, alas, asking us to get in touch with what we are most fundamentally within ourselves. Instead, he was asking us to identify closely and loyally with our ego, that is, with the ‘idea we can choose to have of ourselves’. For this reason, his existentialism created a new problem as it solved another. It solved the problem of inauthentic conformity to ‘essential’ forms of social existence. Yet, in the wake of that solution it ossified our being into a new, rigid straightjacket – identification with the self-chosen ego.

That which we are most fundamentally within ourselves is neither the inauthentic they, nor the authentic ego, but embodied spirit. Or to put it more simply: God found present within and, as it might seem, trapped inside our being. It is not only society, with all its conventions, that is our gaoler. We are our own gaolers too. To be truly free is to have freed God from within ourselves. To do this we must not only free ourselves from inauthentic conformity to externally imposed social roles; we must free ourselves from ourselves, that is, from the very idea, however authentically chosen it may be, that we have about ourselves – about who we think we are.

Such a freedom is a kind of death; such a freedom a kind of resurrection.

And with that I wish you a very Happy Easter.

p.s. there is no Easter in China.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Beautiful Dream - to me

My family are staying at my paternal grandfather’s house. He is still alive, though he died in 1977. My Dad is still alive, though he died in 2006. My mother, brother, sisters and I, and other cousins, are there for someone else’s funeral, though I don’t know who. I think perhaps my paternal grandmother, who died in 1992. Grandad talks to me for a short while – tall, thin and in a suit. This is weird only because I don't think I ever talked to him at all, so I wonder how my brain pieced together a personality, and how accurate it is. Later, we all go to bed. Dad doesn’t want to talk to his father, but my mother asks him to, ‘this time’. As grandad comes towards us, we clear the way to make this possible. He embraces my dad, who begins weeping as he stares up into his eyes, while my grandad smiles down at him reassuringly. This meeting happens on the stairs, and I am directly beneath them. I can’t see this encounter clearly, though my sister can, who is closer. I move round the stairs to try and get a better view, but wake up. I tell myself this dream would not be forgotten but I got up and wrote this anyway.