I wanted to use this blog post to address some of my philosophical concerns about life. Recently I have dipped my toe in Buddhism and Stoicism. I am quite interested in what happens to us after we die. The most immediate answer that springs into my head is ‘probably nothing’. But how can we really we sure?
For a long time I have been interested in Taoist philosophy and the idea that when we die we simply mutate into another form of energy. There is a book by the Process Work founder Arnold Mindel where he talks about a dying woman who has a vision of a bird fluttering. He speculates that when she dies that she has taken on the new form of a duck or bird on the Willamete River near Portland Oregon. To me this idea is attractive. It has a certain aesthetic and poetic beauty, that at the moment of death we transmute into some other form whether a bird, animal or plant.
For a long time I was caught up in the world of Process Work and Taoism because it offered these kinds of poetic or aesthetic explanations. For various reasons at some point I felt let down by Taoist philosophy and now I feel I want something harder, more concrete, more tangible to hang onto. Even though I have the Tao Te Ching on my bedside locker often now I look at it and feel in the harshness of life it has nothing to offer me. Poetic visions and poetic niceties just don’t seem to cut it for me anymore. Yet there are still the same questions about life and death and no real answers. I partly feel as though we need to know what life is to be able to live it well.
So far on this blog I have posted a lot of information about anthropology and related matters. I see myself as kind of an amateur anthropologist picking my way through the universe, making sense of what is around me. Now I want to more explicitly tackle the mental health and philosophical side of these questions.
People might say these philosophical questions don’t matter but it’s beliefs that move whole societies and make the world go around. I wanted to write some blog posts that tackle this because I feel that I personally have got lost in the maze, particularly going up the blind alleys of process work and Taoism. I wanted to explain my route and explore new avenues.
I think there is value in Taoism but I also think it is hijacked by the new age industry. Obviously there is some wisdom in it as it’s one of the world’s major religions but I think these things require a degree of circumspection or scepticism, doubt that previously I didn’t apply.
I am also curious to know what life is really all about. If I could go around for years with a faulty belief system and magical thinking what are the other 7 or 8 billion people doing. What does it all mean?
In a way I still love Taoism and process work but it’s like I’m now upgrading to use the version 2.0. I want to map my explorations and recently forays into Stoicism and Buddhism.
I also wanted to talk about the world of spiritual exploration. How for me that got bogged down in an 18 month long mental health crisis of alarming proportions. And how when it came down to it there was no guidance. None of the $100 an hour teachers were able to help me. There was just a wasteland and it was scary and it wasn’t filled with aesthetically pleasing rivers and ducks.
I want to explore how being an explorer whether spiritual or not or just someone looking for answers can lead you onto the rocks with no perceptible way off. I have found in these situations no one can really help you.
So I’m going to write some more about these philosophical questions because I think they are important and may help others asking similar things.