Ontology Crisis: Do You Exist??

“Men need some kind of external activity, because they are inactive within.” – Schopenhauer

SchopenhauerSchopenhauer, a German philosopher, walked this earth from the late 18th century to the mid-19th century, and he came to adhere to a faith in transcendental identity. Currently, I am not deeply versed with his work or philosophies, but I understand that he was influenced by Eastern philosophy.

This German philosopher and I share the same personality according to the Enneagram test.  “Men need some kind of external activity, because they are inactive within.” is a quote attributed to Schopenhauer and appeared during my personality study. Now one of my favorite quotes, it represents an ideal with which we should be acquainted.

If you busy yourself with cumbersome things for a long enough period of time, you will find yourself wishing you could do something else. You want to do something else because you are not fulfilled in what you are doing; in other words, you are not being you.

I know a number of individuals who, at some time or another, discovered that they are uncomfortable being alone for long periods of time. I speculate that this phenomenon occurs, at least in part, not because no one is around; rather, it occurs because you are the only one around – and you may be uncomfortable with yourself. Generally, being uncomfortable with yourself happens because you either know yourself well enough to believe you are worth disliking, or you know yourself so little that you are a stranger to your very self. I tend to believe the former is more commonly believed, and that the latter is more commonly the case. Once you come to a true understanding, or nearly true understanding, of what and who you are, you will understand that you are valuable.

You may or may not have noticed that 99% of the last paragraph is written in 2nd person: I repeatedly talked about you. This means that my assumptions are entirely up for debate, because I am not you. My question for you is the one I ask myself frequently: “who are you?

Becoming active within is vital because you are involved when I ask:

  • What do you believe?
  • What/who do you love?
  • Why are you here?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What is your dog(s)’/cat(s)’ name?

You can claim neither to have faith nor lack faith in anything without first knowing who you are to claim it.

Is faith, belief, religion, morality. etc. present without you first being present? No. If you are sleeping inside, your faith is a dream.

I do not suspect Schopenhauer holds any contention to external activity, but I suspect he would contend with external activity meant to distract from internal activity.

To my brothers and sisters in Christ: Is “ministry” your external activity? Or is it a surging from deep within that you can neither suppress nor escape?

To everyone: If you have not done so already, do a little “soul-searching”. It may just be worth it; after all, this is life you are living. You should live it as beautifully as you are.

Further Reading: I See Dead People: An Old Adage  is my response to You Are What You Love by Phill Easley; both deal more with personal identity and may be a helpful step in self-discovery.

 

 

 

 

I See Dead People: An Old Adage

“In America especially, we are wrapped up in what people think of us. Our entire [culture] is grounded in cliques, social status, and brands. The core of this groundwork is the “need” to have the right people like you. Since when has that mattered? Are you running for a political office? If the answer to that question was no, then focus on you, not them…” – Phill Easley,  from You Are What You Love

Referring to and moved by the simple quip “You are what you love, not who loves you”, Phill continues to delineate on a number of identity issues to which several souls succumb: many people identify themselves via the identity of a significant other; certain people, perhaps, identify themselves solely by a political or socioeconomic class; and others, even identify themselves in terms purely based out of religious conviction. These are but a few sources anyone can draw from the identity pool: ethnicity, sociocultural stigma, marital role, career choice, technological devices (phones, gadgets, computers, gaming systems, etc.), internet (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, etc.), and so on and so forth. None of these even slightly relate to who a person is. If all the of the aforementioned identity-bubbles were painted grey and popped, what is left? The inside is left; you are left.

The initial clause, “You are what you love…”, is inspirational; the latter clause, “…not who loves you.”, is liberating. Most people find peace in something – even if that something is nothing in particular. Most times, people are inhibited from doing that something by: physical barriers, metaphysical barriers (e.g., others’ expectations; self-imposed expectations), depression, demotivation, a career path or lack thereof, and the list goes on. That anyone’s peace-bringing something, or nothing in particular, would be suppressed by external or internal forces is grievous.

If we live without allotting some or much of our time for the something that makes us, us, then our life lived without our something is devoid of truth. If a lie is presupposed not to exist, then our pseudo-us may also be presupposed not to exist. If you fail to do what makes you, you; you, though existing, fail to live. Ignorance of one’s self is ignorance of life – a special form of death. The initial clause, “You are what you love…”, represents your something; the latter clause, “…not who loves you.“, represents your something unshackled.

“What do you love? What of you, by you, and from you is so inseparable from your being that its very absence would make you stop being you? That is who you are. And it is only through discovering what you love–that inmost core, hardwired into the recesses of your soul– that you find you.” – Phill Easley,  from You Are What You Love

Mirror Image: Meeting New People

Familiar faces are fairer once acquainted with. Faces in my coffee shop ventures appear, respectively, on certain days of the week; i.e., if I go here or there, at such and such a time, I will likely see so and so. A familiar face once pierced the acquaintance film that separated a friendship.

Some matter of time ago, a man, to whom I am strongly bound today, introduced himself to me. His first appearances occurred while I habitually, excessively walked to Climb Nashville and Dose. Occasionally, as I was walking, I would find him walking; other times, I would find him bouldering at Climb Nashville. Another time, I found him walking to Dose, as I was; and we walked and talked on the way ‘til we purchased our coffee, indulged, and went our separate ways.

These happenstances transitioned into intentional plans. We would meet up maybe every other weekend; and through time and discourse, I came to understand this man’s thoughts.

“Contentment incarnate” best describes his overall disposition. Most content people are satisfied with what they have; this man is content with what he does not have. He is satisfied not with what he has, but with not having. He does not desire anything that is beyond him and only superficially desires what is not. My pragmatism deeply reverberates his detachment.

David and Jonathan supersede our relationship by only a few degrees. My unlikely friendship emulates the covenantal love hallmarking David and Jonathan’s:

“As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. And Saul took him that day and would not let him return to his father’s house. Then Jonathan made a covenant with David, because he loved him as his own soul. And Jonathan stripped himself of the robe that was on him and gave it to David, and his armor, and even his sword and his bow and his belt.”

To this day, the man’s name escapes me albeit the mirror he stands in every morning. For now, I will call him John.