Tuesday, 8 August 2017

"Learn from your mystics is my only advice"

My brother's imagined lyrics from Roxy Music's Editions of You (from the band's second album For Your Pleasure) set us both thinking. The line of course is 'learn from your mistakes', but Bryan Ferry's lyrics were not particularly clear when listened to on a C90 cassette bootlegged from vinyl and played on a mono tape player.

The imagined line makes for an excellent starting point for a short post about how we seek out the sense and meaning of life.

Which mystic? Let me start with one mentioned to me recently by my brother - G.I. Gurdjieff. Many years ago, at least half a lifetime ago, I read his Meetings with Remarkable Men, intrigued by that heady late-19th/early-20th century mysticism which blended European, Middle Eastern and Far Eastern metaphysical influences. Learn from your mystics, but don't follow them. Take on their insights, mull them over, work through them. "The soul is the totality of moments of self-awareness." Well, that's one way of seeing it - but not the only one. Today, our mystics see a rich spectrum of possibilities rather than One Way; David Eagleman's Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives gives 40.

As we grow older, our consciously observed experiences act as a scalpel that whittle down the inchoate confusion that surrounds us, that so overwhelmed us as children, into ever-sharper definition. The ways of nature and humans become less mysterious as we subject them to decades of conscious observation. But still we are far from total awareness. Still we seek answers and solutions. For instance, how can the good person overcome the evil person without resorting to evil?

The answer is out there for us all to seek. We will not have it delivered for us on a plate. Nuggets are to be found in the great religious works - but only nuggets, for us to smelt into a material from which parts for a working prototype can be made. How we choose to build it is up to us; but it will not have been handed down through the ages. Nor will it have been hidden in esoteric or hermetic writings of mystic philosophers. They will have seen a glint, a sparkle, yet the entirety lies above and beyond us all in the here-and-now. We can but evolve spiritually towards it, one life at a time.

We observe. Some of us see greater detail than others. We are curious. Some of us go to greater lengths to get answers than others. We judge - then we re-evaluate those judgments in the light of new insights and experiences. Some of us are continual learners; some of us don't bother. Others like to hold on to what they learnt as children and question it never. Is it laziness? Lower levels of consciousness? Regardless of your education or even your innate intelligence, if you are curious and questioning, if you observe consciously, your spirit will grow.

We live upon an unfolding continuum; we were, we are, we will be.

We will be intrinsically, spiritually better, but only as the result of learning, experiencing and putting the insights gained into practice; improving our behaviour continually. We should not strive for perfection but instead for continual improvement, slow, steady, incremental.

We die. We return to forever, to the infinite and eternal. "Everything dies, baby, that's a fact/But maybe everything that dies someday comes back." Musicians - some musicians - the conscious, observant, curious musicians - are mystics. I'll leave it there with a line from Atlantic City by Bruce Springsteen from his album, Nebraska, that belongs to the ages.

This time last year:
Out where the pines grow wild and tall

This time four years ago:
Behold and See [Short story, Part IV]

This time five years ago:
A new-found fascination for Mars

This time six years ago:
Rhetorical question: why the fuss?

This time seven years ago:
Varsovians! Ditch the car - buy a quarterly karta miejska

This time eight years ago:
The limited interests of mankind's geniuses

This time nine years ago:
Into the fading light

This time ten years ago:
Ar y Ffordd i Pwyl Rhydd

I have written today; put down my thoughts; looking at Google Analytics I can see that by this time next year, this post should have been read by between four hundred and six hundred people, which fills me with satisfaction; I can go to sleep to rest easily, the day has been fulfilled.


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WmPerry said...

OH no! don't tell me things like that! "Learn from your mystics" is the line that makes the song something unruly and sung by a narrator that is a particular(peculiar) voice and not a dismissable bundle of typewritten phrases.
He (the singer) is absolutely the same guy that is making his stand where his studebaker takes him.
He also does the "whoo-hwoow!"s They're like 'amens' from someone loopy on the fumes from their own vinyl pants.
i love when BF is undignified eccentric fun to sing along with- yelping and ullulating nonsense and dressed for a pre-raphaelite dis-co-teque.
OH-you'll love this: kevin eldon as chairman mao(?) sings 'virginia plain" its FAR better than it should be. its not just funny-actually its not funny, because its too good- the his slight chnese accent and chicken head movements are great.while fetching you the link i saw its a riff on "nixon in China" -a sort of explanatio...not really.
sorry for the wordy jabber