The Forbidden Heights - Your Life is a Myth

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Your Life is a Myth

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Your Life is a MythWhatever you are currently doing and whether you know it or not, you are living by some kind of myth. You are acting it out. You are a vehicle for it.

A myth is a symbolic story of the relationship between your life and the world. It is a paradigm that is whole, coherent and forever unfolding. It can also be described as a psychological reality that moves without coincidences. It is laid out like a pattern or a track from start to finish, and your life follows it. If you could look at it from a bird's eye view, you would see the beginning and end simultaneously, as part of a unified movement.

A myth in itself is never right or wrong but is simply the reflection of your chosen relationship with the world. But that choice, which you have already made, may have you living your life uniquely and creatively or sleepwalking through it.

Absolutely no one, no parent, teacher, preacher or savior, is able to tell you what your myth is or should be. It is your dynamic, unique story that only you can stifle or help along to blossom like a flower. You may never be able to fully see and understand your myth because it lives beyond the borders of static concepts. It is in many ways paradoxical, but getting in touch with it may prove to be the most important thing you will ever do...

There are personal and collective myths and they may be local or global. Most of us live unaware of the myth we subscribe to, even though we have actually chosen it at the most fundamental level. Insofar as our story is not uniquely ours, or that we are mindlessly living the same story as countless others, our myth dictates an inauthentic life for us. It is a lie, an illusion and we know it in our depths. Our ignorance or lack of understanding makes it inauthentic and does not allow us to recognize or take responsibility for the choice we have already made. In that respect, we have the sense of living according to someone else's rules, being pushed around as victims, lacking some kind of purpose or meaning and not having the choice to live as we wish. We see ourselves as born into a society that already has its own laws and taboos, which we must follow. We are given a name, told how to behave, what to eat, what we should learn, how to judge and be judged, what god we should or shouldn't follow, when to work, who to trust, who to love and oftentimes how to feel.

It is indisputable that the paradigm that we live by today is full of competition, conflict, and corruption. Not knowing what else to do and not having the energy to change it, we repeat the pattern, perpetuate it and even vehemently protect it and pass it on to our children. We often persecute or put to death those that try to expose the myth by which we are living. From the beginning, we are never given the chance to recognize the inauthenticity in which we are immersed. But we continue to hurt others and to be hurt.

One of the myths or ideas we collectively live by, at least in certain areas of the West, involves fierce competition and the pursuit of happiness through wealth. Part of this pursuit involves sitting for hours in metal boxes on stretches of earth paved with hard asphalt, breathing toxic fumes from each other's vehicles or recycled, conditioned air. And if there is any question to the sanity of this behavior, most of us shrug it off and go on about our business. We scurry either to our jobs or our homes, the majority of which are enclosed by rigid, unnatural straight lines with virtual or fake lighting. Even the food we eat is becoming increasingly synthetic and the medicine we take is even more toxic to treat the effects of our unhealthy diets. But this is only the tip of the iceberg. All these things are reflections of the collective myth we are living. They are symbols or indicators of the insane relationship we have with ourselves, our environment and with each other. But we collectively ignore them.

At the heart of that collective paradigm is a common personal myth shared by countless people who have become mere reproductions of each other and whose uniqueness has been drowned out by ignorance. It is that of the modern individual with an inherited vision of his life. He marries and perhaps has children and pursues a career with dreams of owning a bigger home or a better car. He constantly hurries from place to place, working hard, sitting in an office or a factory day after day, doing something that he doesn't particularly enjoy but saving for his future retirement. He spends relatively little time with his family or friends in hopes that someday he will have all the time in the world. He checks his bank balance or investment accounts and his moods swing with them as he watches the numbers constantly rise and fall. Any free time that he has is spent as an escape from his work, in the form of a vacation or occasional sex, or on the maintenance of his life so that it can continue in full force at work. While he may have some hint of the neurotic state of his life, he thinks to himself that someday he’ll be free, when he retires; but for now he must pay the price for that coveted future, which may never come. Ever since he was a child, his parents and teachers have always told him that he must prepare for this moment in the future and that he must give away his life now and be serious. He will gain his life later, he is told, when he is old and tired. Of course they were taught the same by their parents and teachers.

The modern individual is in fact mistaking the symbol for that which it represents. He is neurotically chasing after money, which is a symbol of wealth and happiness and security. But money in its pure and real form is nothing more than paper or coins or numbers in a bank account. It is worthless until it is spent. And there is always the risk that these numbers may dissipate into thin air or never get spent, but the modern individual continues to chase after them and hoard them like they were food. But this insatiable hunger leads him to utter starvation.

The psychologist Carl Jung wrote: "The psychological rule says that when an inner situation is not made conscious, it happens outside, as fate." Most of us are caught up in propping up the myth that we unknowingly live by without ever pausing to question it, and we suffer the consequences of it in our lives. In fact, we exasperate the issue by masking it. We put our energies in projecting an image that we want others to see, even though it drives us to misery. We buy things that give us no real satisfaction but only short-lived pleasures. We take pills to numb the pain or drink alcohol to have a fleeting moment of inhibition. Worst of all, we lose hours upon hours staring into a box that emits two-dimensional images and sounds of other people's lives and problems. And strangely enough, that virtual image on a 25-inch screen is not big enough. We enlarge it by buying even bigger screens, perhaps 50 or 60 inches, as if we are trying to desperately get close to something real through that virtual image. It provides us with an array of virtual, emotional colors and needs including laughter, excitement, fear, horror, war and sentimental feelings. It tells us how to act, how we should dress, who we should follow, who we should hate, what to buy and eat among many other things. Certainly, there is a certain splendor in every myth and this one is no exception. It beautifully reflects the relationship we have with the world, no matter how dark and horrific it may be.

How do we escape this madness? How could we stop living by these myths? Simply, we cannot because our lives will always be symbols for the relationship we have with the world. Any resistance to the current myth is expressed in that relationship and serves only to affirm and strengthen it. Any attempts to measure or analyze ourselves or our ignorance are part of the very pattern that we are living. In other words, we are the result of the tension between the intended or real impulse to our life and who we think we are or should be. We cannot direct or control our myth. It directs us. Each myth is unique to each individual; therefore, we can never follow the myth of another, no matter how great we think that myth may be. Our rational mind is the greatest obstacle to recognizing our myth because the intellect's function is to compare, conceptualize, compartmentalize and seek security. In doing so, the mind places limits on the impulse of life. But myths are limitless and in some way magical. They come from a deeper realm, from the same place as dreams and they operate with the same energy that simultaneously digests our food and divides our cells and processes our bodily functions and wets our eyes accordingly when we blink, all without our conscious knowledge. The understanding of the choice for a myth has to be made at that level, in those depths and we cannot bring it about through rationalization or conscious, intellectual effort. Rather than fighting against its limitations, the challenge is to open up the mind and make it transparent to the myth. But no one can tell us how to do that. At best, we can try to put ourselves in situations that break habit, security and repetition and invite spontaneity and a certain amount of chaos. It is in those situations that this energy, which drives myths, comes forth and acts out of its own intelligence.

Your myth is much bigger than you. It cannot be found as you would find the nearest post office because it is a dynamic, living thing. But you can let it find you. You cannot create it, direct it or even fully see it with your linear-thinking mind because your myth is constantly unfolding. You can align yourself with it by coming to understand or clearly recognizing the paradigm that you may have been living. That recognition is the absence of ignorance, which is the root of inauthenticity. That recognition, in a most psychedelic way, is itself the blossoming of the myth that your life truly intends. The acceptance of the choice that you have already made to follow a certain myth, whatever it may be, is the beginning of authenticity. In other words, the act of recognizing and accepting the choice, or accepting the responsibility for your life as it is, transforms the relationship you have with the world. It is a heroic or symbolic act and the myth reflects it. Therefore, what makes a myth authentic is not something out there in the world or in a set of ideologies; rather, it is the convergence in you of the choice you have already made with your acceptance or understanding of it at the most fundamental level. The story out there merges with the story in you to form your unique story.

Each one of you knows in this very moment whether or not you are living by the myth that your life's impulse craves. As you begin to fully accept the life that you have been living, all aspects of it, inner and outer, start to come together as if they were pieces of a giant, mysterious puzzle. The world begins to move in the same ways as dreams do, with fluidity. That is to say, you start to recognize connections and meaningful patterns where you did not previously think to exist. People and events start to act in symbolic ways and you come to notice that there are no coincidences. All undulations in your life, pain and pleasure, sadness and joy, fear and desire, hate and love and all other dualities begin to move together towards some significance that you can feel but can't conceptualize. You begin to sense that there is somehow an interdependence in the mighty, opposing forces in you and the world. Through these forces a rhythm emerges that shapes your story and gives it its uniqueness and dynamic nature. You come to consciously realize that your life is a symbol for that rhythm; and while you can't grasp it completely, you can mysteriously put your finger on its pulse. It is something beyond pleasure and pain, joy and sorrow, understanding and ignorance. You become a co-creator of your unique myth, without effort or control. You and your myth are like two fine gems that reflect each other in their glowing brilliance. You are it, through and through.

God's finger about to touch Adam's - Michaelangelo
 

Comments  

 
+3 #10 Your Life Is a Myth - THE FORBIDDEN HEIGHTS - MYTH - TRUTHGuest 2014-03-30 19:37
Excellent web site you have here.. It's hard to find excellent writing like
yours these days. I truly appreciate individuals like you! Take
care!!
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0 #9 ReplyKen 2009-11-30 13:58
"Ok, so how are we to do that???? If you are asking this question, then I guess I failed at making my point..."

No it's ok, you managed to convey the point well enough, only the point itself is inherently flawed. Not that I am in disagreement with most of what you say, but the existentialist philosophy and conclusion that everyone has to find his own way (or find his own way of letting it find you, or whichever way you want to put it) has always had trouble, not least from the obvious fact that exorting people to find their own way is in itself a universal rule, however general it may be.
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+1 #8 Re: ReplyFrank 2009-11-30 11:48

Hi Ken, Let me see if I can clarify. Yes, defragmentation is also the work of the intellect. For the Buddhists, Nirvana ultimately is not something apart from this fragmented world; rather, it is the world as is. In Jesus' words from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas: "Heaven is spread upon the earth and men do not see it." So we're on the same page there.


Letting go, through the meaning that I intended, is not an intellectual act but rather the result of the existential failure of the intellect. It is recognizing the futility in the search or in trying to be or reach something that you are not. And yes, there is no method or path so precisely there is a paradox here and it is intended as such. This the difficulty in using words to talk about this subject. At best, all these words are a meditation, a koan that does not point to some content that we can process. The ultimate goal of this article above is not to provide information but to arrest the reader with the rhythm of the words or the flow of ideas and pitch him/her into a word-less realm.


I agree that we are still bound by society's rules because they are really our own. We cannot escape that fact. Each of us is a microcosm of society with our own conflicts and issues and hopes, etc. To blame someone else or to try and change society is really futile. To quote Jung: "Who looks outside dreams; who looks inside awakes."


As for the "right act", I was referring to your own, unique myth. That's what I meant when I said that there is one that is right for you. And it cannot be someone else's act nor can you choose it. It chooses you if you get out of the way. Ok, so how are we to do that???? If you are asking this question, then I guess I failed at making my point...


I highly recommend this gem recording from Alan Watts. He is much better than me at expressing the point:


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8aufuwMiKmE

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0 #7 Re: ResponseFrank 2009-11-27 09:03
There are certainly better or worse acts to play but which one is right for you? Which one resonates with your life and gives you the sense that the life you are living is the life that you intend to live? I don't think you can find it by thinking it through like you would planning a trip. We are all really symbols for something beyond our intellectual capacity to grasp "it". Yes, there is a method or a process but the intellect can't touch it because that process is multidimensiona l while our intellect is linear. We get a sense of this in the act of creating art. I can at least speak from my experience... I have never done anything creative while actually observing or being mindful intellectually of the process taking place. That act of creation is itself a liberation, a resonance and the artist brings that resonance into form with all of his/her being. Later perhaps the artist or the audience may study the art and see patterns or processes that we can point out, critique, etc. and map them out through linear thinking. But that multidimensiona l impulse behind it all does not care about articulated methods and processes.

So the recognition itself, that we are an act, that our lives are a myth, is liberation. It is a recognition of the individual "I" as an illusion. The illusion is that there are separate events, people, etc. That fragmentation is the work of our intellect. And while it is practical in some respects, it is certainly detrimental and even horrific in others, as we see all around us. I have grappled with this for a long time but have found that no philosophy, words or concepts can really get "it" because that "it" is dynamic. Concepts and philosophies and descriptions are static. Even science is telling us that our Universe is filled with paradoxes beyond imagination and that the basic nature of reality is psychedelic. The world is an act of perception. And no amount of thinking about it will give you the experience of it.
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0 #6 ResponseKen 2009-11-27 02:39
To me the realization constitutes in an action of the will, which involves a method, and this is intellectual in nature, or at least partially intellectual.

Recognizing that each of us is living an act is a recognition which results from a process. Even "letting go" is a conscious act of will. This is what Sartre had in mind when he said that we are condemned to be free.

That this act becomes synonymous with what people deem themselves to really be leads is in itself a realization, and the realization that this is so by a particular individual for the same individual is a realization which can be reached as per above.

Now my second point is related to this. I can agree that I am playing out an act, and my realization of this will still have me play out an act (I will be playing it out authentically - here the philosophy becomes more complex as issues of will come into play), and some acts are better than others. That is why I think mere realization is not enough; it is admittedly a seperate issue, but my point is that living the authentic life is not enough, one could live an authentic life (i.e. realize, however this happens) and *then* wish for another, that is one realizes that it is an act, and then also realize that there are better acts to play.
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0 #5 Re: Good pointsFrank 2009-11-26 13:55
Ken, thank you so much for taking the time to read the article and for your feedback. Your comments challenge me to express my thoughts more clearly. It is difficult to get to the root of this topic and express it because it is fundamentally paradoxical. Just like most everything else, coincidences are a matter of perspective. Where one sees coincidence, someone else may see meaning and connection. Where one sees choice, another may see fate. As Neo from The Matrix would say: "The problem is choice." We get caught up in some intellectual acrobatics trying to sort things out and determine whether we have free will or our destinies are predetermined. All I'm saying is that there is a space within the human being and above the intellectual stratosphere where life can be paradoxically lived without choice but with absolute freedom. This is the point J Krishnamurti kept harping on.

The limits we feel exerted on us by the world or society are all self-chosen. The world is simply the result of a relationship between you and me (and others like you and me). We can blame the government or our parents or our religions but in the end, we are responsible for the life we are living. Maybe I wasn't clear enough in my article but I am saying that you cannot just will to live an authentic life. Rather there are other "forces" within us that drive us to the life that we are living. And to that extent, we've already made our choices. We can however understand those forces and those choices and accept our lives as they are (and again this acceptance cannot be done by force). There is no method to that. So one comes to a singularity of sorts where one lets go (Jesus: "he who loses his life will gain it"). And in that letting go and in recognizing that each of us is just an act, our authenticity comes through.

In the end, it is all a fantastic, phantasmagorica l drama. If you want to eat, you have to put on an act, like a suit and tie and work in an office or a factory or whatever, in order to get money for food. But most people think that this act, this mask is who they are. In the end, no words or thoughts are going to change anything. That realization itself is simultaneously the beginning and ending of our search.
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0 #4 Nota BeneKen 2009-11-26 06:51
N.B. I did not mean to attack what you yourself explicitly stated (namely the modern individual's idolization of money). My point was rather addressed at the fact that whereas the "act of recognizing and accepting the choice, or accepting the responsibility for your life as it is, transforms the relationship you have with the world", it does not do much else. In order for the possibilities to change, then the attitude of society as a whole must change.

New ideologies might bring about better myths. They will all be myths perhaps, and their authenticity depends on us, but I can of better myths and worse myths, and I'd rather authentically accept the former.
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0 #3 Good pointsKen 2009-11-26 06:25
"People and events start to act in symbolic ways and you come to notice that there are no coincidences."

I beg to differ. Coincidences will still be there, in any way one chooses to view the world. Even if it is my, our, choice to do something, or even if it all planned out ab initio, whatever position one takes does not rule out coincidence. If all actions are the result of my choice, then it is still a coincidence they they *coincided* with actions the result of someone else's choice, if it was all planned out (by a divine being, by laws of nature, by a life force) then for me as the individual, that is for my consciousness, it is still a coincidence that two actions meet, even if they were planned. I cannot see how coincidence implies freedom, or lack of. Perhaps actions are not arbitrary, but arbitrary or not, actions can coincide in either case. (of course one can use concidence to mean mere arbitrariness, which is the common usage of the word, in which case my argument would be naturally redundant.)

That aside, I find the thoughts very clear and conveying priceless insights. Then again it is not much more than a good summary of Heidegger. Still, I cannot fully accept this, or the latter's position. I have always found something lacking in existential philosophy. I can, and in fact do, agree with its main position, but I cannot accept that money is *merely* symbolic. It is that, and it is that entirely in a Marxist sense, but so long as it stands for something else, like work, it is something more than that.

What I mean to say, or rather where I am heading, is that we can all talk about making one's choices and living the authentic life, but as long as life is arranged in certain ways, then we cannot be fully free. That is our world limits our choices. After all Heidegger himself talked about possibilities available to us.

I can understand and realize, awake and be aware, and this I agree is more authentic. But I cannot live according to my life's impulse if things are left as is. It is not wholly up to me as an individual: there is, to an extent, a certain force exerted by society on its members. And this cannot be shunned away with a mere appeal to authenticity. At the very least it has to be an appeal to m[censored] authenticity, for I cannot be an authentic I if I starve to death, and as it is, I have to be inauthentic (or at the most authentically inauthentic) for a certain number of hourse in order not to starve.

Of course if the authentic life is *simply* the authentic attitude, then I agree that what I have just said is irrelevant. In that case however, authenticity loses its appeal.
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+1 #2 Re: BeautifulFrank 2009-10-11 00:51
Thanks for the kind words Mark. There is really so much wonder around us and yet we can't see it by saying to ourselves "I must appreciate the wonder in my life." That would be trying to live life intellectually. There is no path or method. But in my opinion what we can do is live our life as if we intended it to be the way we are living it. The works of Joseph Campbell on myth and religion really helped me when I was asking that same question. If you haven't heard of him, please check him out.
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0 #1 BeautifulMark 2009-10-10 18:21
That was a very beautiful essay. I have been going through a dry time in terms of experiencing the miracle of living a human life. Your words reminded me of the wonder our lives are, if we take the time to realize it.

Living in a world that seems to constantly demand so much of our attention and energy, how can we live authentic lives?
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