Beyond Alienation



It begins with the awareness of a constant nagging feeling, a deep-seated emotional hum that cannot be turned off or avoided. It has always been there behind every word, thought or deed, behind every sorrow or joy, behind every tragedy or triumph. Being human is strange indeed. And with it comes an existential sense of "I AM" that the mind cannot completely grasp. We go about our business often masking that feeling temporarily through the distractions of daily life. But everywhere we turn we butt up against the starkness of our being. It even haunts our dreams. We tell ourselves that we hold fast to beliefs about ourselves, god, love, money, the world, family and relationships. But it takes so very little to force us to loosen our grip on our ideologies or abandon them altogether. We are then left speechless and shocked; we realize that we are strangers unto ourselves. We take this to be a fundamental sense of alienation that we cannot seem to shake. We try to comfort ourselves with visions of oneness. We tell ourselves that we are all equal, that we are brothers and sisters in the eyes of god, nature or man-made laws. After all we belong to races, religions, regions, communities, and clubs. But once we are alone lying in our own bed, even with a partner next to us, we are again enfolded by this existential sense of "I AM". It is a sphere that no one can penetrate. Again, we feel as strangers unto ourselves.

In some sense, history is the account of our constant attempt to extinguish this existential feeling. For this reason we engage in the most violent of wars to the most pious religious practice. In fact, the most cunning way in which we try to do away with this feeling is the "practice" of spirituality. Trips to church, the temple, synagogue or mosque are one of the many ways. We also go to yoga retreats or take up meditation. It is through spirituality that we wage war on our existential malaise. It is truly a violent affair. In the search for answers, we run to prophets, gurus, saviors, psychologists, self-help books, meditation practices, temples, holy places, altered states of consciousness, astral planes and so on. Spirituality becomes a hang-up and a form of distraction or self-deception. It is a way to hold on to oneself or a way for putting off the real confrontation with oneself. It becomes a decorative garment with which we cover up our true nakedness. The result is a deeper sense of alienation or disillusionment. We become imprisoned by our search for enlightenment or salvation, which is really the attempt to flee our alienation. Ironically Jesus, after whom all Christians model their lives, spoke out against the practice of spirituality. He rebuked the high priests and religious leaders of his day for putting on spirituality as a decorative garment, wearing it as an accessory in the marketplace of life.

When we awaken to our alienation, we are confronted by our existential solitude. Loneliness arises when we seek to escape that solitude. Loneliness is a movement away or an escape from that very place where we ought to stay, under the Bho Tree or in the Garden of Gesthemane. In holding our place, we embrace our alienation. It leads to the crucifixion of all of our preconceptions. We are left naked, nailed to the cross of our ideologies high above the earth for everyone to see. It is here, in our darkest hour, that we completely surrender. No god or savior comes to our aid. No method of escape can be found. Everything falls silent as we die to the very notion of who we are. With it, our alienation is extinguished. Darkness gives way to light and we find ourselves reborn as truly free human beings. We become as the sky, open and vast for all storms and clouds and light to pass through us. We awaken to a new-found vigor and freedom to sway with the ever-changing winds of life and to weep wholeheartedly with the passion of a torrent or to celebrate a joy with childlike zeal. We ascend on wings of freedom to a space that transcends the four corners of the Universe. Here, thoughts and emotions arise like the colors of the northern lights. They freely ebb and flow and dissipate as we let them go without hangups. With them, we are free to die and be reborn, unencumbered. We reflect every movement of life. We are just as happy to rise boisterously with the morning sun as to quietly melt with the snow at the onset of Spring. We are all that is under the heavens and more. We are the heavens and the earth and all that bridges them.


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