Understanding the inexplicable.
On many occasions we are talking about something, and someone asks for an explanation. Then they are dissatisfied with the response, and complain about not getting a satisfactory response. They seem to think a repeat of some standard meaning is required. The word explain, is from Middle English explanen, from Latin explānāre : ex-, intensive pref.; see ex- + plānus, clear;
But what do we want clear? Usually we want a clear cause, a clear reason, a clear purpose, a clear goal, and all this is our usual way of thinking. The lack of clarity is prompting a need for clarity, but this way of thinking has given us all the religions, philosophies, etc., and we have been accumulating more and more meaningful explanations. The point is, basically it, something, is not clear, and it is this we need to look at, directly, carefully.
So rather that jump to being annoyed, indignant, resentful, and complain, and all that nonsense, think not about getting explanations, but look at what to do with this lack of clarity.
It is not either a matter of clarity or dullness, by anyone, but the direct observation. When I observe for myself, I, you, him and her, this is the thinker, we are talking together, and this is listening, and learning. There is no implied clarification, it is firstly, aware of confusion, complexity, imprecision, haziness, something like that, and understanding the nature of this.
Understanding the inexplicable.
Hello Peter. Personally, I don’t mind at all when someone asks me for clarification after I’ve written something here. Such a request shows that someone has read my contribution, found it interesting enough to respond and seeks to deepen understanding. Of course, how a request for an explanation is expressed is crucial. If it is done in a polite, friendly manner then this will increase the possibilities of the inquiry going further.
Thank you for bringing this issue. I wanted to tackle this point few days ago and started a thread called: Going around in circles.
I’m involved in a discussion at present with a person who refuses desperately to look at the problem directly, in this case exploring one’s own mind. It is not the first time and it’s not the only person.
Two of his answers were:
“As for the exploration you advise, the only thing to explore is why K said this.” and:
"In this discussion group, what matters is what K said, and what he meant by it. "
What do you think of this?
I can look at something, read something, and think it is perfectly clear what I am looking at, or it is unclear. This is the usual meaning of clarity. This is clarity dependent on my preconceptions, on my beliefs, on my skills, on what I am thinking, on thought. I take all this to be enough, and work from there, or I want more information about what I am looking at. It is like hitting a nail with a hammer. What’s there to think about? When it goes wrong I try harder. This clarity is momentary, and is formed in connection with the activity, the thing, the object, the desire, and the way of thinking we have for use in daily life. To question clarity, is deeper than questioning the thinking and practices of daily life. It is deeper than trying to change the thinking or to formulate a new way of thinking.
It is believed the mind is like a developmental model and we must build on it. Yet at the same time there can be innovation, creativity, and discovery. Is this the case of interrelated models, or are they completely, distinctively, different? Does the computer bear much resemblance to the internal combustion engine? We can find shared fundamental, scientific, principles, because it is the human story. It is the way of looking with knowledge, and looking with the past in mind. This is a comparative model and the result is what we have come to take is clarity.
Clarity is not the words and ideas describing things or providing instructions. It is not ability. Clarity is a straightforward, clear observation, free from the past.
Yes, and then what I’m left with? I cannot be sure of my own clarity (nor of someone else’s), than what should I do?
I was thinking just yesterday about this problem of ourselves. K. is very categorical, either is black or white, no greys in between. But is it really so?
(I’m acting like the devil’s advocate now)
Does the fact that my perceptions are polluted by thoughts and so by the past, prejudices, biases, desires and so on, prevents me totally from having clarity in perception? From acting intelligently? I can see both in the world and in my self some sparks of intelligence, if it wasn’t so we were already extinguished long time ago.
K.'s categorical statements can lead us to a useless pessimism or cynisism. We can drag ourselves in life like people sentenced to death or to life imprisonment. No light visible at the horizon. What is your response to this?
Can you inspire others out of this tunnel?
Your cynicism is the tunnel. Face it. Wanting to run away is the prison.
Again with slogans?
Douglas, there is no mine cynisism but OUR cynisism. I was, and still am, depicting a possibility, something strictly connected with our human psychology and which is involved in Peter’s discourse. And I depicted that because it’s a challenge we all have to tackle. And how do you respond to that challenge? Giving easily crafted solutions? Smart jokes, perhaps?
Stop pretending we have the answer, we are all in the same boat, or in the same prison.
K. was a continuous source of challenges, and those challenges kept us silent. I don’t see any challenge here in this forum but only bad mimics of K.
“In negating, you have energy, vitality, clarity, like a burden being taken off, a weight taken off your mind and body. Then you feel light, and that implies energy. That energy is needed to explode, and it will explode by itself.”
Scientists Discussion in Bangalore, 9 January 1974
Thought creates (is) madness. We have never seriously done much about it. We set up systems to manage the madness, and associate with each other in ways of tolerating, or disrespecting, the madness. Our way out is all the sentimental, emotional, devotional, cultural and social activities. We are accustomed to the practical and technological efforts of the society, and find ourselves conditioned to these efforts.
Thought occupies the mind and what I think about, is working backwards, is the past.
Can I get the thinking to be moving along with the madness, and find sanity?
I am new to online discussions and I am beginning to see your point of view. And it seems that most of us are looking to arrive at a final conclusion (to certainty), hold on to what we think we know, crass in our answers, or etc. But I think that’s okay, it’s a part of this type of learning process. I read something from some philosopher a long time ago and it stayed with me but I haven’t been able to find the quote for you that may help with our approach to this entire discussion forum.
My wording not anywhere close but poor memory: A good argument will do several things: if I seem right, it will strengthen my premise. If I seem incorrect, I will drop what I think I know and gain new knowledge.
If anyone knows the actual quote, please share. I think it was Socrates.
Socrates: “I cannot teach anybody anything. I could only make them think.”
Just reading this, it applies to this insight that shatters the duality of life / death…the “burden” that we carry until there is the realization that “life has no beginning and no end”.
It could be. It stroke me that negating produces clarity, and that’s why I posted this as a kind of answer to Peter’s post. One can negate thought and all his values, and then one feels light. For a moment I thought I had understood what that clarity was. I spontaneously negated some absurd thing I saw and everything was clear. When we are attached to something there can’t be clarity. We value the thing we are attached to, so that does not leave space for understanding. But I’m aware I’m trying to explain something unexplanable…
Through education, employment, religion, sport, business etc, we have learnt a method of thinking. It is a competitive framework and we look for the best argument to adopt as reason. Process is an application based on the known. It is accumulating and building up what we know, materially, and spiritually. Selecting different parts of the old and combining them in a different way, we can invent the new. I learn about all the parts we know, and I can also rearrange these parts, or give them different colours eg.
To talk about learning, why do we restrict it to books, ideas, products, engineering, lifestyle, belief, policy, etc.? Isn’t there learning where the discoverer is growing in an unlimited world, free from the past, and not accumulating anything?
Growing may imply a self and accumulation. An unlimited world, seems like it implies accumulation and a division.
Understanding or intelligence do not imply accumulation. Learning I think may imply accumulation.
What we understand, or not, and discuss, is the known. We know how to manipulate words and ideas. But there is also the understanding, the empathy, we have which is not thought. There is a sense of the nature of the communication, before we identify what it is with thought. So if I catch this movement of thought, not make it an issue, not something to agree or disagree with, not add my opinion, not entertain my emotions, then I am really understanding, and there is a chance of insight.
Now this can be applied to our own ‘inner’ explorations as well, right? We understand something or other and it becomes the known to which we cling. And we examine ourselves according to what we’ve learned …measure and evaluate according to those yard sticks…according to the known. So there’s little chance of learning anything new.
This seems a good description of how ‘we’ work…always from what has been accumulated. But as you say, that is always the past. So is it possible to see that that is the pattern and by seeing it, negate it, again and again? K states “You are nothing”. That is the ‘door’ he has pointed at. ‘Being as nothing’ implies an emptiness as well as an emptying. Being nothing means having nothing, doesn’t it? Yet the brain for its own sense of security wants to hold on to ‘something’, anything, it seems. ‘Fear’ is behind that, to ‘be’ something? Psychological thought has to come to conclusions and those conclusions always imply the existence and continuation of the ‘concluder’, ‘me’, the ‘observer’…but this observer is the observed. These ‘masks’ or ‘personas’ are all accumulations, ‘structures’ of the past. And as you say they are ‘donned’ to meet the present moment, the ‘new’. Personas created and maintained by fear? But the fear itself is just another ‘mask’!
Doesn’t it become obvious, something, is not nothing?
Dan: This seems a good description of how ‘we’ work…always from what has been accumulated. But as you say, that is always the past. So is it possible to see that that is the pattern and by seeing it, negate it, again and again?
only when it’s seen that any pattern or image or idea is limited. It must be, right? An idea is based upon memory which is limited. My memory is different than the memory of a guy
born in India or Kenya or the South Bronx in NY
…‘Fear’ is behind that, to ‘be’ something?
Yes! Fear is there because of images too. Images from the past. So it’s the positive images battling against the negative/fearful images…trying to overcome. But it’s all in thought…all limited by past experience. All past …covering over the actual …the fact…‘what is’.
Yeah, I don’t see that ‘door’ the way you do Dan. Not saying you’re wrong…not at all. Only that I don’t see it that way. The ‘door’ to me is seeing what we are. And seeing the arrogance of the images…of clinging to my images…the known…the arrogance that says I’m right and you’re wrong…immediately making a judgment…the self protective reaction. My images are the right ones. Yours aren’t. But they’re all images. And I use these images to correct other images in myself…the inner battles. The right images vs the wrong…the good vs the bad, etc