The subject of transcendence as it relates to our subjective experience of consciousness is pretty broad in scope and complexity, and while it is one of the core issues when we speak of our inner life and world, it is not a simple matter to address it in a single blog post. There is a great deal of literature on the subject available to anyone at the local library or on the internet, and for those with an abiding interest in the subject, much that has been written will probably have already come up during any number of research efforts. This episode is not intended to answer every question at one sitting, nor is it presented as a comprehensive essay on the subject.
Part of the reason I wanted to take on this series was a result of how I struggled with my own efforts to sift through the overwhelming amount of material available about consciousness generally, realizing that in order to help the average reader make some degree of sense out of it all, it might be easier at first to present the material in a more measured and “bite-sized” fashion. Writing blog posts for more than eleven years now seems to have made some difference in giving the visitors here a way to begin thinking about the ideas I write about, without getting too bogged down always in technical language and deeply philosophical subject matter, but I thought by creating video content showing how I personally relate to the subjects I write about and trying to entertain as well as inform, might make them a little more interesting.
My trip down to the southern states last week was a fabulous opportunity to share time with family and friends in a beautiful natural setting in South Carolina. I was able to spend hours soaking in the beauty and serenity of several of the barrier islands off the coast and was able to film extensively during all the activities in a magnificent natural landscape. In this episode, I only share a few brief cuts taken from the many I made overall, but I will be putting together several more videos in the coming months as time allows.
I used the catch phrase, “Less Than Zero,” for the subtitle as a way of introducing the idea of transcendence not as a huge subject to ponder, but rather as an idea that everyone can begin to think about. Transcendence is not a negative number, but it is insubstantial in nature and has no physical equivalent in everyday life. Zero is nothing, and transcendence brings us to a state beyond “nothingness.”
I enjoyed creating this video after recording the narration, which erupted spontaneously as I reflected upon the many beautiful moments of my trip and the experiences of blissful communion with some spectacular scenery. We must abandon our temporal mindset and silence the voice within us when we wish to allow the transcendent to become known to us. There is no single way to arrive in that “place” where transcendence abides, but if we wish to reach it, we must seek it out.
4 thoughts on “Consciousness Video Series: Episode 5: Transcendence Intro”
Deeply affected by this and watched it several times with great enjoyment. I am of a very similar state of mind and find that what you say resonates with me deeply.
Like you, my retirement into the void continues daily as I choose quiet inward reflection over outward involvement in the world.
I hope you do not mind if I say that I found a distinct melancholy there – although perhaps that is more a reflection of my own customary state of mind than yours. Note that I do not say “unhappiness” or sadness. Just quiet resignation. Perhaps joyful melancholy would describe the feeling I got if that does not sound too contradictory.
It struck a particular note with me tonight. My wife is away in London with her ailing 90+ year old parents who can not be long for this world. I am fond of them but realize the end must come. For all of us. Who knows what follows, or does not.
Deeply reflective and beautifully done.
It has made my evening that much better.
I’m glad that my recent efforts resonated with you so well, and that you gleaned some benefit from my earnest attempt to communicate the important aspects of what has become a deeply personal endeavor. While I feel certain that I am slowly improving as I go along, it has been quite challenging to construct content that both expresses my genuine thoughts, but also engages the viewers and visitors here. Your generous analysis is much appreciated.
Your description of finding “a distinct melancholy,” is both fair and reassuring in a way. I loved your turn of phrase “joyful melancholy;” it is quite apropos and not contradictory in the sense that you mean it. I think it is possible to hold two opposing ideas in our thoughts simultaneously, and while the subject I am talking about tends to evoke a sort of pensive mood in order to express the general idea of it, it is clearly part of being a human person and as such should not carry any sort of negative connotation. When we quiet our minds and hearts, and step back from that often-self-critical voice inside of us, setting aside our thoughts and feelings temporarily, it may evoke a sort of melancholy when we return once again to our normal waking state. Evolving as a human person in the general run of things, examining deeply personal aspects of our inner world, particularly now at this stage of life, requires some introspection that may not have been available to us earlier in our lives.
Thank you so much for your kindness in describing my efforts, and I am encouraged by your response to press on.
” trying to entertain as well as inform”
I think the best sort of entertainment DOES inform. I watched Anatomy of a Scandal on Netflix recently. It “entertained” me, in a sense, but made me deeply uneasy. Although guilty of no crime myself, this was my university and these were the sort of people I used to mix with. I was “informed” that this was not how I would live my life given another chance. Difficult to explain in a way. And I’m really still not so sure why I was so disturbed.
Your remarks prompted me to review the Netflix series over the weekend and I can appreciate your response well. For you, having spent time in that very environment as a young university student, looking back on the people and places in which the story is set, and recognizing similarities in the characters within the story with other individuals you “mixed” with, must have amplified what was, even for me, a fairly disturbing story. The severity of the circumstances depicted in the series was, no doubt, intended to increase the drama, and the goings on “behind the scenes” in the personal lives of the characters, entangled as they were in such a startling way, made for an intense telling of the story.
I found myself oddly sympathetic at first to the husband, but quickly felt at odds with each new revelation. I told myself that it would be impossible to conduct myself as the husband did, having so many advantages in his life and such a beautiful family, but I am a much different person to begin with, and would not consider my life as “privileged,” in the same way that his was. The film makers played to the tendency of the average person to be envious of such “privilege” and to get some satisfaction in seeing him get into such trouble. You may have encountered such individuals in your travels and even though you took a different path yourself, some of it might have seemed a bit too close for comfort. This was obviously a work of fiction, but it employed familiar scenes and believable characters, to strike just enough of a familiar chord to make us all uncomfortable.
I am sorry to hear that your wife’s parents are in need of assistance, and equally hopeful that however their circumstances unfold that you and yours will find grace and solace as events unfold. I have already endured the loss of my parents and in-laws some years ago, and to have a life of 90 plus years can be a blessing of sorts, especially if one is reasonably intact and able.
Contemplation of “what follows or does not” is an essential aspect of our reflective nature as humans, and my efforts here have often crossed into areas that include this important subject, mostly in the sense of a philosophical and spiritual endeavor. It is much easier to approach such contemplation with a “joyful melancholy” while we aren’t experiencing the grief of loss itself, and I have always been of the mind to work through the relevant subjects when possible, and to learn from the experience of loss when it comes, in order to help myself and others to endure the travails they impose at those times. Your own blog frequently contains a kind of hard-won wisdom from your own experiences that I often find helpful when pursuing the analysis of my own.
All the best to you, Anthony, as always…John H.