The fulfilled life

What else does this craving, and this helplessness, proclaim but that there was once in man a true happiness, of which all that now remains is the empty print and trace?

This he tries in vain to fill with everything around him, seeking in things that are not there the help he cannot find in those that are, though none can help, since this infinite abyss can be filled only with an infinite and immutable object; in other words by God himself.

I had heard of the God-shaped hole, but found the quote at this comment. I must read Pascal.

Quakers would say there is that of God in everyone. It is one of our creedal statements. For us, it is not a matter of inviting God in, but letting God out. However that inner God made demands upon people, and when one demand was fulfilled, God asked more. I cannot remember enough detail to google- if Quakers remember the story, perhaps they could say the name- but recall a man asked to be truthful in all he said, including in his business, and not wanting to go so far along the road, because it would hamper him in making a living, he thought. Then he went that far, and was truthful, and God asked more.

He found the blessing in it. Not ducking and diving and trying to trick others, we found that our reputation for honesty was an advantage in business, and when we could not go to University, we could still make a good living.

I have decided. I am not altruistic. I am not good (you do not have to be good…) nor do I want to be. I love helping, reconciling, because I want to build community. I want my nice, safe Support Network. I got that jargon from Service Users, as the mental health support teams call us. If I imagined I was “good”, I might imagine that was the way to be good, and resent others for not being “good” in the same way; if I imagined I was “altruistic” I might resent others for not being grateful enough. Building connection in the insane world I find myself in is hard enough, coming to this understanding has been hard enough, through different understandings which may be better or worse, and I may move to other understandings. God is not in my understanding expressed in words but in my knowing, as the goose’s honk communicates without words.

I want to survive, I have never felt safe, I feel pulled in different directions, I judge my acts so am divided against myself. A house divided cannot stand. The verbal understanding, where my judge lives, cannot overcome the feeling animal.

In that comment thread, Sonel also said, Men think logically. Women think through emotions. And I thought, Yay! Affirmation! I am a woman! Then Roughseas went and spoiled it. My neurotic judging and questioning does not help.

If there is a fulfilled life-

you see here am I postulating it. I name my desire. I pursue my desire, from the heart of me, and that is fulfilment. And stuff gets in the way, and I get peeved and resent being peeved, for I should be fulfilled. Would not it be nice? Er-

I write here of subordinating rational thought in words to emotional response. Possibly reconciling them to work together is the answer. Or something else. I am a work in progress. If it were easy, it would not be so interesting.

I wrote this on 5 January, before my last two posts. What a way I have come in a week!

Murillo, The Immaculate Conception of the Venerable Ones

6 thoughts on “The fulfilled life

  1. If we are ex-istent beings (think Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase, No. 2) and not Cartesian embodied essence beings, then we will be incomplete for as long as we ex-ist. The next romantic relationship, or more money, or more things, or social status, or whatever is never going to complete you. You see people trying to “complete” themselves that way all the time, and it never works. They always think the same thing: “Is this it?” The best you can do, in my opinion, is to enjoy your process of becoming authentically and creatively, while finding some measure of completion by dwelling with God or the Absolute.

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    • I am an animal. If I stub my toe, or if I am tired or hungry, the cracks in the civilised veneer- rational being something like Descartes’ soul moving the body through the pineal gland- show. Much of my thought, processing, deciding, is unconscious. My spiritual journey comprises removing barriers to expression of my animal being and bringing the unconscious to consciousness; and other things I cannot yet articulate.

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      • You are “thrown” (you might have begun to exist in 1250 in Spain or 2790 elsewhere. You had no say in the matter). You ex-ist (a process of becoming). You are “worlded” (there is no simple subject-object duality). You live largely in the “They” (you know what “one” does, and for the most part do it). You “cope” with “ready-to-hand” equipment (e.g., the pencil you wave as you speak without calculating every movement is “gesturing equipment”). For the most part that is what you are “about” (in both senses of the term) in the world, i.e., you are human-being-in-the-world (Dasein), not a Cartesian embodied essence being plopped down into a world. You can enter the hermeneutic circle of self-understanding, but you can never be completely objective about yourself (there is no God’s-eye view). You are interpretation all the way down.

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        • I quite like the idea of monism- any classification of stuff into things is arbitrary- and am aware that just as I take in food and my atoms and cells change, so I take in ideas and impressions and my understandings change. I will look up Dasein. That makes sense.

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          • Well, you may not like what you find, Clare. Remember, his early work is foundational to continental philosophy. It can be awkward at times. I ignore his political stupidity. Sartre, Merleau-Ponty, Derrida and Foucault liked his early work, too.

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