Friday, April 18, 2014

The Answer That Can Only Be A Question

Q: “How do I become a tracker?”
A: “By deepening your Awareness”
Q: “How do I do that?”
A: “Tracking is a good way to do that”
Q: “Hmmm. What exactly is Awareness?”
A: “Yes”

Language is a beautiful thing. It enables us to communicate thoughts, emotions, facts etc. We can use language both ambiguously or not. Lyrical or factual. We can take words literally or read between the lines. But sometimes we falter. Sometimes we get questions we simply can not word the answers for and it sucks. Especially if the question is by a student for the teacher.

I get that a lot. The above Q&A is a common one for me as I teach tracking and Awareness. One could raise serious doubts about a teacher that claims to teach a subject he has a hard time defining. In general I think that holds true but in this particular case it is just the nature of what is asked. Every time I get this question I have to think (and laugh) about the 'The Ultimate Question of Life, The Universe and Everything' from The Hitch Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy by Douglas Adams. The answer to that question, it turned out, was forty-two. The problem was that although the question had a simple no nonsense answer, it became obvious that we did not know what the answer meant because we do not know what the question means.

Taking away the context awareness simply means knowledge or perception of a situation or fact. That is why I always capitalize the word when I use it in the context of our natural Awareness. This natural Awareness is a vitally important concept in the philosophy of my classes but, as noted before, pretty hard to describe in words. So how can I teach something that is so hard to describe?

Those of you that have taken a class with me will know that I do not actually have to teach Awareness. We all have Natural Awareness but we do not all use it to the same extend. What I do teach are ways to have you experience Awareness. You will gradually understand what it is and be able to train it without ever needing to find words to describe it.

This would be quite an unsatisfactory article if I did not at least try to give an idea of what Awareness is. I know that I will fail at it in one way but also that, because you all have Natural Awareness, I may succeed in activating it just enough to get you to form your own idea about it.

Imagine a new born baby and how it perceives the world. Literally everything it perceives is new. The world to the baby is just a blur of colors, light, sounds, smells, tastes and tactile impressions. Over time we start to categorize all things we perceive. In particular we start to separate all other things from ourselves. The ego self is developing. We start to connect things we perceive with thoughts and those thoughts will eventually become beliefs. When we have enough beliefs we are no longer perceiving entities but judging ones.

Almost all of our beliefs are based in fear. The fear of death, the demise of the ego self, is the most powerful driving force in our lives. Yet, at the same time, we intuitively know that the self is not separate from all other things. That in fact we are all one and the same. We have the ability to feel what an other person feels and because of that we will even give up our own life to save a loved one. The ultimate sacrifice. So strong is our connection. We have empathy. We have love. We also have empathy for our pets but here we are beginning to falter. It is unusual for a person to have empathy for a tree or a rock. What is the difference? Where does the connection break up? In our beliefs!

In our lives we form beliefs that serve and further us. In our current culture, connectedness with trees, animals and rocks does not serve the ego self. These beliefs make us judgmental too. A “tree hugger” is not often a term of endearment. It has distinctly negative connotations. The term contains a judgment based in beliefs that are often forced upon a person by society and its norms. It does not serve the person at all to ignore them.

It seems we are torn between two forces. One is the need for the ego self to act and react in a way that serves it the most. The other is our deeply felt connection with everything around us and a universal love. The latter has resulted in spirituality and religion. Again the ego self managed to separate something!

With the above in mind I can try to give some idea of what Awareness is. Awareness comes with questioning your beliefs and finding (tracking!) the source of the thoughts that created them. Many of them are sourced from the sub conscious (intuition!). Awareness comes with changing back from judging to perceiving. Perceiving the whole of reality without separation or judgment. Awareness comes with embracing empathy, intuition, creativity and harmony. We can all do this! We needed to do it to survive in the wild. We still need to do this but we have forgotten how to and, instead, let our ego selves run the show. Because of that we are missing out on an awful lot of life.

Oh, so what is tracking then? Tracking is being mindful of relevant things in your Awareness!

If anything, it seems that the answers can be found only in eternal questioning. That is why I am a tracker!

Peter Friebel