Spoken by a great man, Charlie Chaplin, these words couldn’t hold more truth for the modern age.
We live in a world where the visual dominates, physicality is the only definition of reality, and the suffering that plagues us most is only that of our own internal thoughts. The world has gone mad as we’ve all become entrapped within our heads… The tools we use for our own liberation acting against us and pinning us down, likened to an auto-immune disease yet instead of affecting our physical health our mental health is the one in decline. Why is this happening? Is this really happening? There is a saying that goes “If the mind is blind the eyes are useless” but what does this mean?
The average person today has much less social interaction and contact than the prior generations and this is growing with every decade as we descend into the technological age of smart phones and social media. The social interactions we do maintain continue to dwindle in their value and authenticity. People are becoming so concerned with their image in the eyes of others that conformity to the perceived ideal has dominated over personal uniqueness and experience. Most of the social interaction we do partake in takes course over the internet, the experience of which truly only exists within your head.
We are restrained by the chains of our own creation, and what makes them so insidious is that we cannot easily see them… So how are we trapped within our thoughts and how are they actually holding us back? When you make your way to the mall or to school or to work several thoughts are usually always running in the background; “What if I don’t reach on time?” “What if I do this?” “What if this happens?” “I hope this doesn’t happen” “I hope the people here aren’t like this” often when carrying out whatever you do on a regular basis you’ll give yourself derogatory commentary such as; “I’m so stupid for saying that” “why did I do that?” “Don’t fuck up again” “I just keep screwing up”. We form all of this pre-thought in expectation of situations and harshly judge ourselves for our perceived shortcomings. There are so many various ways in which we entrap ourselves within our thoughts that it’s become a way of existence. We don’t see any other way of living in a lot of cases, it’s just how we think?
Why do you enjoy movies? Why do you play video games? Why do you read books? Why do you listen to music? Why are these what we choose to do for enjoyment? Because when you watch a movie or read a book you are no longer trapped within your head, your thought’s begin to quiet down and the usual cross-chatter that fills the inaudible recesses to the back of your awareness. You are no longer concerned about what might happen tomorrow, you no longer care whether someone likes you or not, you aren’t plagued with the worries of your day, you are only in one place in that moment and that is watching a movie. We use these medias to pull us out of our mental prison.
I’m not saying the path to freedom is entertainment because that would be a grave misunderstanding. My point being is that it is that “Experiencing” we crave, and it is that “Experiencing” which liberates. When you approach an event or situation in your life with loads pre-formed thoughts, ideas, worries, and opinions you rob yourself of full the experience. Much in the way one can be lost in thought and not hear the babel going on next to them, your own passive opinions and pondering can deafen you to the full experience of life. The path to liberation from your own mental prison put simply is serenity. Let go of your worries, let go of your predispositions, let go of that which you think you know and surrender yourself to the moment that is. This is a practice more easily said than done as our overly active internal voice loves to speak itself into existence with complete disregard for anything at hand, but doing simple 5-10 minute meditations can work wonders in terms of calming your internal dialogue.