The Way to Understanding (& Peace of Mind)

Philosophising is all very well but you have to live the life. Live the experience, live the knowledge. Understand, and accept,  movement and change. Know when it is time to hold still. Learn and grow and keep learning. This is the way to understanding (for me, at least).

It’s all about putting it into practice.

It’s all about finding peace of mind.

I have to point out that it is my understanding, my peace of mind that I seek. There is no absolute understanding as far as I’m concerned …. unless someone can show me differently.

My understanding of the world around me will be shaped by my perception of it. This is unique to me. The events that shape my life are also unique to me because I perceive them in my own unique way. (This will be for a number of factors that I won’t go into in depth here at this moment. Suffice to say that nature and nurture both play a part.) So two people who experience the same event will have different memories and feelings about it afterwards. In time these  differences will probably grow because of the individuals internal ‘construction’ or ‘de-construction’ that takes place in all our lives.

By this I mean … what do I mean?

When something happens in our lives, and it need not be a major event, just a passing occurrence, a spoken word, a gesture from a loved one, we ‘construct’ that event in our psyche. We try to make meaning from it. This happens largely subconsciously but will surface for more extreme occurrences. We apply meaning as well as seeking it afterwards. You will be familiar with the question, “What happened there, then?” frequently asked of ourselves as well as of external events. You will have told yourself some of what just happened there but you will also be asking yourself questions. This leads us back to our understanding of the world and our perception of it …. our uniqueness. No two people will come up with exactly the same reasons and answers for the same event, however close their answers are. Delving psychologically will possibly reveal further differences in how they arrived at their reasoning.

So, I am unique. A bit scary if I think too much about it. But I wouldn’t want to be any other way now I have tasted this uniqueness. Subsequently, my search for inner peace will be quite lonely at times as no-one else can share it!

And isn’t that the wonder of it all?

I’ve done it before, I can do it again.

The Tao of Physics?

A Thousand Colours describes exactly one of the things I’m trying to explain here. I just wanted to put it in my own words as well.

Existence = Essences, threads, facets, aspects … it doesn’t matter what you call them, they’re all the same – only different. It all amounts to the same thing. There are myriads of each of them, only they are all one.

Think Quantum Physics (is light a wave or a particle or both? Can a particle be in two places at once?), Zen, Tao, Buddhism, and you’ll get the idea. Separate facets indeed, but the Light that shines through them all is One!

I’m not talking about a god-like figure, or being, when I refer I to a Light (whatever Lao Tsu meant). No, I’m thinking more along the lines of a basic ‘essence’ that underlies everything. Something intangible and transient that is the basis of allexistence. The tinted fragments of existence all shine because of the sun of being … if you’re getting my drift.

I’ve just ordered a book called “The Tao of Physics: An Exploration of the Parallels between Modern Physics and Eastern Mysticism” by Fritjof Capra. I read some of it years ago. What amazed me about it was how close the ‘physics’ side of it was to Eastern Philosophy. Some of the quantum stuff was close to reading the ‘I Ching (or Book of Change)‘ (Richard Wilhelm). It all fitted.

I understood the’ I Ching’ better.

  • The I Ching holds that life is movement and that it develops through the conflict of opposites – change. All existence is based on movement and change. Through reading the I Ching we can cultivate an understanding of the world and ourselves. Without this understanding, the text is useless.

I understood quantum mechanics better.

  • Everything is linked and it depends on how you look at it as to how you will see it – physically, psychologically and emotionally. How you look at things determines how you experience them and subsequently how you behave because of that experience.

Sound familiar? Think psychology, particularly Cognitive Behavioural Therapy! Life is movement and change – it is inevitable. How you perceive movement (and our experiencing of the events on the way) determines how you behave because of those experiences. This is what makes us experience emotions and act on them, whether consciously or subconsciously. How often do we act on something only to wish later that we had done something different?

The way I understand it, we have one perception of events at the time they happen, which shapes our understanding of the world around us at that moment. This is our unique, individual, existential view of a particular fragment of existence, of reality. There is a reality going on ‘out there’ regardless of our perception of it. But is that reality all of our perceptions, or just yours or mine? Is reality determined by perception? Does it depend on collective perceptions to make it accepted as reality?

To view an alternative perception allows us to have an alternative understanding of the event and our behaviour. The same event looked at from two different angles …… And back to quantum physics!

How am I doing explaining myself?

I know what I mean but I wanted to explain it in a way so that others can understand as well. It might help me to understand it all better! And reading back over what I have just written I do understand what I’m trying to say.

It doesn’t mean you will though!

The conflict between wanting to be alone and wanting to belong?” (see last post)

Good question! Am I hitting one of the nails on the head here?

I often disassociated myself from the world through fantasy, from a young age. I can remember when I was about 7 or 8 pretending to be a prince exiled from his land with death threats out against him.  Was it because I wanted to feel different or more important? Or was it because I was different, whether I wanted to feel more important or not.

After my parents split up, I often felt that I wanted to disassociate from the family. I didn’t get on with my brother, I wasn’t seeing my father and I had rows with my mum. Hence I haven’t seen any of my family for years.

Do I feel different? I don’t know, what does ‘different’ mean? How would I know? Do I feel more important? I do as a person … I feel more valued and that I have more value.

Did I want to belong? Yes! I tried that in other ways, but it never lasted. I needed something more long-term to really feel like I belonged. It comes from the people you know such as partners and friends and is more a feeling within than anything else. It’s about who you are – with – who you are with, whether with yourself or with others.

Do I feel like I belong? In some ways I do. In some ways I don’t.

This is all a bit existential but maybe that’s the underlying root ….. the loneliness of being ‘me’. No-one else can experience what I experience in the way I experience it. So now I have to ask the question:

Do I belong to me?


I guess I do. Would I have me as a friend? I guess I would. There are things about me I’m not happy with but I have that with some of my friends. I’m sure there are bits of me that other people aren’t always so happy about! I think I’d be quite vocal (offering constructive criticism) towards me if I was my own friend!

I like being on my own and I like being with other people. I think I’m fairly gregarious. I like talking to strangers. I can be considerate and inconsiderate. I can be kind and hurtful. I can take criticism when it’s offered. It’s when the negative aspects come out that I don’t like it. I jab away at something rather than addressing it full on. Strange, seeing as how I can be quite direct and out-spoken about some things at times. Trouble is, it often takes me a while to work out what is bothering me and then I have to find a way of expressing it and dealing with it.

I can be very good at pushing people away from me when I want to be on my own. That is something that can last for some time until I feel I’ve righted whatever was troubling me or got that feeling of being the man I like again. It happens at the very time I need someone. Contradictory or what?! Opposites is another word that springs to mind. That comes from my psychotherapy training. The pain of opposites. Do I (we) create one painful situation so as not to experience another situation that may hold a lot of fearful unknowns, or that may be painful in itself … or both?

Note: The pain of opposites is basically about the extremes of opposing feelings for one reason or another. It might be that a ‘good’ experience or feeling might appear enhanced because it is such a strong contrast to opposing experiences or feelings. And vice versa.

The Big Question

Well, that was strange. I just met my brother in the supermarket …. briefly. He was with Val and has put on weight. When he asked me what I was doing in there, I found myself hearing his response to the same question had I asked it, “Shopping. What’s it look like?” The most talking was done by Val. Her son, Thomas, is now 25. He was just a baby the last time I saw him! Tim asked me where I was living and when I told him he replied, “Well, I wouldn’t know, would I?” We got outside and I remarked that I’d forgotten where I’d parked the car (I had forgotten) and then said, “Well, see you in another 10 years maybe”. I think I caught a hint of an odd look from Val but I wasn’t facing her full on so I can’t be sure. And then I walked away.

I didn’t feel any compunction to hang around, like I might have done had it been a long-lost friend, but I was left with an odd feeling. Indifference, slightly irritated, wanting to ask loads of questions about our family, not wanting to know anything about him and his life, and vaguely wondering what his reaction was and what he was feeling after I left them.

Did the irritation come from not asking the questions I wanted to ask? Or was I irritated before I went into the supermarket? I felt as though I didn’t want to be in there when I entered and I felt vaguely irritated with the cashier, who was being the model employee … all smiles and telling me what to do with my card in the reader, as if I didn’t know.

The questions I wanted to ask could come from other members of my family but I have about as much chance of asking them as I have of asking Tim. I don’t know where he lives and I don’t know where the rest of the family are. I could always find out. It wouldn’t be too much work and it is possible.

The big question.

So What Stops Me?

Nervousness at meeting them after all this time, maybe? Fear of the differences in knowledge between us? The overwhelming memories that may come flooding back? The density of the interwoven threads of the fabrics of our lives? The conflict between wanting to be alone and wanting to belong?

I don’t know them. They’d be strangers to me. Or would they? Some of them may be dead. I don’t remember half their names.

I haven’t seen any of them for about 35 years! Not properly anyway. The last time I saw the majority of Mum’s family was at her funeral. That was 20 years ago now.

And then they were gone.