Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Facets of Meaning

Originally posted on February 25, 2015

I’ve been reading about Paul T. Wong’s Network for Personal Meaning. I’ve been to a few of their conferences and think what he’s doing is good. Of course, he’s right, it seems, but also meaning-making seems to me to be an intermediate step. For many, finding meaning, co-creating meaning, may serve as a fulcrum. I guess for me it’s secondary, as I’ve already found my life’s meaning. And I seem to sense that lots of people don’t care about the meaning of their life.

But Dr. Wong does: His view is that meaning-making is a primary need and solution. It seems to me to be an intermediate step. I guess it could be important if you don’t feel it: Meaning-making sort of brings things into focus. I know too many people who have found what works for them, or they don’t care. I look back and seeking meaning was a big sub-text in the 1960s. Perhaps there are many for whom this theme strikes a nerve. I feel I know the meaning for me, but I don’t suppose others could get on with my answers—the underlying assumptions may be too elusive. On the other hand, perhaps I should not assume that their quest would be unaffected by learning about my “solutions.”  Well, here goes:

First, everyone is unconsciously creating a general sense of coherence in their life—a meaning. Most folks do this instinctively. Our unconscious minds are easily able to generate bridges that make it seem coherent, the way perceptions of projected movie stills or flipped pages seem to move and tell a story if the rate of flipping is fast enough.

For many, though, the incongruities are prominent enough so that these supervene and the meaning of life dissolves—it’s up for grabs. Then it becomes more tricky. For some of these, the repair of the sense of meaning is really quite a creative challenge. After all, what about this, or that? If that is the way that is, then all crumbles! Figuring out that is not the way it seems, or at a different level, it is, but it only seems that it means that it all crumbles; add this other perspective and it heals again. It’s quite a creative challenge.

Perhaps this struggle is one of the many that makes the cosmos such a vital place. Some folks are trying to figure out how to get past that obstacle as part of their building a canal or tunnel. Other folks are trying to balance good enough with dissatisfaction. For a few, trying to grasp the meaning of it all becomes the game. Others think they’ve gotten the answer or don’t care about the answer on a conscious, cognitive level.

I suspect philosophy dances around this quest: Is there any scheme that ties it all together, or at least most of it? There’s always the devilish-fool spirit that figures out an exception. He’s not wicked so much as transcending whatever system you’ve found closure in. Ultimately he denies reason in favor of humor. Sometimes this is done in music and the unconscious tends to weave the joke into an aesthetic development.

For me, I see it all as a fabulous, exploratory, grand dance that’s chock full of sub-quests, 84.3% of them trivial. Maybe 98.43%! So much depends on what is called “trivial” and to whom. To the players of the game, it’s not trivial, but to two levels distant, the level that finds the game non-trivial is trivial. For my sense of God, all this is included in God’s multi-dimensional exploration.

Some would have God more fixed, having lots of stuff happens of which God disapproves. Then God sends people—maybe floods and earthquakes—to hell. But that doesn’t really seem all that rational. I see it all as God fumbling around, making 84.3% mistakes, and that being okay. She had to try it out to see what would work. Or maybe as I say, 98.43 or 99.843% — like seeds, or squid eggs, or stars, even if a tiny portion emerge into life and consciousness, God is both near-infinitely prolific, probing all possible solutions, and near-infinitely inefficient, the yield being so tiny—but even that tiny is glorious and full. I doubt seriously that we’re the only one and the billions of galaxies have produced only us. It’s an unbelievably heavy responsibility, to figure out how to do it all.

So I surrender. I don’t even assume that this is God’s only laboratory or reality. I do my thing, try to help, and will die into the becoming, saying, “Oooh, I got to help!” That’s my prayer of thanks.

What I’m trying to do is to create tools—tools for thinking straighter, the better to create more effectively, to make peace, to build a better world, to generate more consciousness. My guardian angel Bud assures me that mythmaking, telling people playfully that they can mythmake too, is a tool. But is the 17th assistant to the 17th assistant to maybe something like the 17th assistant—the numbers get fuzzy as you go up in rank. He’s not all that high up, but then again, you can’t be that high and interpret or transmit the ultimate or heavenly energies without burning our poor minds to a crisp. So Uncle Bud, who used to be my conscience, like Jiminy Cricket did for Pinocchio, my superego, but as I matured he reformed and went to Coach school for angels and is now my bestest friend. Or equal to Allee, my bestest human friend.

So I use this fiction to communicate with my “higher self”—he can’t be too self-oid because I know that although I’m brilliant in some ways I’m dumb as a rock—or nearly—in other ways. So I need all the help I can get. Mind is (to me) pretty clearly many-leveled.

I’m a finger-tip cell on the tip of the finger of the hand of the arm of the body of the whatever is God and each extension is as complex and “other” to its subsidiary as what goes on in a finger-tip is to a cell on its surface. (That is, a finger tip has cutaneous and subcutaneous tissues and fat and connective tissues and capillaries and arterioles and venules and muscle edges and tendons and bones and a few marrow cells and nerves a-plenty and of different types and immune cells in the blood and on and on and all of these are connected to fingers that are even more complicated and these are extensions of hands… and that’s just a physical, bodily metaphor. Everything is more dimensional in ultimate trans-metaphoric reality.)

Nor can the finger-tip cell fully apprehend that aforementioned trans-metaphoric reality, let’s be clear. The most this finger-tip-cell equivalent can do is to have a finger-tip-cell intuition that there’s a finger-tip and beyond it a finger and so on, using analogies. Even that’s reaching—to stretch an analogy (ha ha).

Occasionally I get big ideas and think my idea-making ability can envision the great beyond. Maybe if I capitalize the words, I think, that’ll help. Okay, let’s call it the Great Beyond! Ooh, that does seem to make it impressive. Ooh, let’s put it in bold: Great Beyond! Let’s add italics: Great Beyond. Let’s imagine it in gold and fall down and worship it. Oops. That’s idolatry. Been there, done that. Okay, keep it abstract, but it’s pretty amazing and mysterious. Oh, the things puny-mind does! Somehow, it becomes a slight obsession to glorify it, and one-up your puny attempts to glorify it. Yeah, write a prayer to it? Well I’ll put it in another language that’s more sacred than your language! Nyah nyah…

Oops, the bishopreacher of this religion just called me a heretic for daring to write it in non-caps! GREAT BEYOND! oops again. GREAT BEYOND with Exclamation Marks. How many? Oh yeah, plus one !!! and that makes me holier than thou.

So many people think, “My god is better than your god.”  Maybe they add, to bolster their claim, “My god is ancient.” They may bolster in their own mind, this thought by half consciously thinking, “More male, so better.” or “More written in sacred words.”

Some folks get all mysterious or esoteric. They might say, “Not that you can express the truth in mere words.” In this direction, also, they say, “You have to use other words that stand for the real name.” And so forth and so on. I suspect that it’s all spiritual one-upsman-ship, but it’s unconscious.

Then others go out and say, it’s nature, whoo-ee. It’s the mountains and the see and lightning. Is it this dead bug, too? Yuk. No way. Then there’s this weirdo who says, yeah, dead bug, corpse, everything dead as well as alive. Everything.  Even not believing in the everything? Even taking the Great Beyond name in vain? Yeah, whatever, everything. Though I tend to believe that it’s nicer to be nice, even though some might call me a heretical nonbeliever.

Well, what if we are all human puny-brains that can never ever imagine the whole shebang and all those who build huts on the tops of temple on the remains of burned-down pyramids are just hustling for status and self-importance and “vocation” even as—giving them the benefit of the doubt—intuit that there’s something bigger than they are—which I deeply agree with. What I don’t agree with is that they or I have the slightest notion of what that bigger-ness is about, other than it’s vastly more inclusive and doesn’t care a whit whether we worship it. That’s my spirituality, and I hope you forgive me.

Meanwhile I try to help the whole be born into better-ness by creating tools for thinking, communicating, etc.


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