When Gensha Shibi, a Chinese Zen master, and a general
were eating cakes together,
the general asked:
- What is it that's used everyday but not known?
The master handed a piece of cake to the general and said:
- Eat this...
Camus allows us to reflect on the
meaning of life, our lives, and the lives of those around us in his book The Plague.After examining the absurdities Camus sees in
Oran we can clearly see what absurdities Camus might find in our lives and the
lives of those around us.The fact that
the residents of Oran appear to find meaning throughout the story allows us to
question whether or not Camus is prescribing a way for us to find meaning in
our lives.Consequently, one may see
that life/death seems absurd because the questioner itself is absurd.No questioner, no absurdities.
that even before the plague struck Oran people were leading absurd lives.In the beginning of the book the narrator
(Rieux) describes the people of pre-plague Oran as near robots who are enslaved
by their habits and lead shallow routine lives.Camus also thinks that the lives of people of Oran were also absurd
during the plague.We can especially
note indifference to, and refusal to deal with the problem of the dead rats.Rambert’s newspaper initially refuses to
address the sanitation problem of the rats.Michel says that pranksters were the cause of the rats ignoring the fact
that they were all over the city and the asthma patient says that hunger is the
cause while ignoring the fact that blood was spurting from their mouths.The government didn’t take action until the
newspaper went crazy about it and everyone else was unwilling to leave their
comfortable isolated routine to deal with or even acknowledge the problem. The people of Oran are too involved in their
own well being to see and deal with the suffering of people around them.Grand and Cottard are neighbors who don’t
know each other until Cottard tries to commit suicide.Grand is a poor communicator and can’t even
go beyond the first line of his book.
absurd thing that Camus sees in Oran is the plague itself. It was senseless and absurd for the plague to
be there to begin with and it also kills in an irrational manner.It has no regard for any personality, age, or
social status.It levels all activities
as meaningless and it levels all classes of people.The only thing the people can do is rebel
against it—but even that is meaningless because people die eventually with or
without the plague.
really addressing the absurdities in our own lives in The Plague.He would say
that everything we do and everything that happens to us is absurd—from our
habits to our jobs to death.None of it
is justifiable and yet we rationalize every part of it.Some, like Father Paneloux, even try to
rationalize death.Camus would say that
death is absurd just as all of our pointless habits and strivings.Camus mightliken the pea-counting asthmatic patient to anyone in society who does
the same thing every day just passing the time.
residents of Oran seem to find meaning after the quarantine.Rambert wants to escape Oran to be with his
wife.Grand wants to write a wife a
letter.By and large, the residents long
for the loved ones, and may or may not have found some meaning by rising up
against the plague.Before the plague,
the public remained unaware of the idea of death.The only thing stopping them from “finding a
greater meaning” was their own habits.In the face of death, finding greater meaning becomes more urgent.Eventually, Camus would probably say that
deep down, the search for greater meaning even in the face of death is
impossible to be justified.
surface we might adopt the idea that we can find meaning in our own lives via
loved ones, happiness, and the struggle against death.However, Camus might be urging us to ask the
question, “Why?”.Why do I want this?
Why do I want to want this? Why do I want to want to want this? What is the
meaning of life?Why should I ask what
the meaning of life is?Why even ask one
appears to be claiming that our lives are filled with absurdities.He is correct in that the very idea that “we
have our own lives” is absurd. Camus’s
inquiry about the validity of our rationalization for our actions is a good
thing to adopt if one wanted to find the truth—only for a moment though.We can quickly see that one will never ever get an answer to the question
“why?” because the questioner itself is absurd.
The questioner is acquired. Individual identity is acquired. Thought is acquired. Language is acquired. The idea “I am so and so” is acquired. Your body was given a name and when people
saw that body they said, “There goes Jenny.”
Then the idea that “I am Jenny, I am this body” came about. Not good, not bad, just acquired.
Without thinking there is no way you
can tell yourself that you are so and so and there is no way you can see
problems without thinking about it.All
of the problems in the world come from the “me” idea.I want what he
stole my wife.I
am not happy.I need more education, I need
a new car, I need to make money, I need more of their oil, etc.Wars are
started over this.He doesn’t believe what I
believe so I have to kill him.
Before you learned language you had
no concepts about yourself.As an
infant, you could not say “I”—but that doesn’t mean you didn’t exist—something was there.You can see that an infant is aware before it
learns any language.What you were
before you had ideas abo
about yourself.As an infant, you could not say “I”—but that
doesn’t mean you didn’t exist—something
was there.You can see that an infant is
aware before it learns any language.What you were before you had ideas about yourself you still are already.Anything you call what-you-are is only a
concept, only a pointer.Language is all
just concepts.For the sake of
conversation we can call it awareness.However, people can go through their whole lives paying attention to
things outside oneself without paying attention to what is paying attention.The body, thoughts, emotions, sensations, objects, goals, things that appear to be out there all
arise in the awareness that you have always been.
Nothing has ever been done for
awareness to be aware.You don’t have to
wear certain clothes, make a certain amount of money, eat special kinds of
food, or act a certain way to be aware.The
awareness is ever-present, self-shining, all-pervasive, and continuous.It appears that the awareness wakes up in the
morning and goes to sleep at night because of our habit of looking outward 100%
of the time.If one pays attention to
awareness itself, awareness aware of awareness, thenone will see that the awareness is
what-you-are and that there is awareness during the waking state, deep sleep
state, and dream state.It is beyond all
“states”.It just is.Awareness is always unaffected by whatever
appears to be going on.Hungry? Tired?
Angry? Happy?Something is aware of
it.Awareness is a concept, but what
that concept is pointing to is beyond all concepts and all opposites: love,
hate, pleasure, pain, loss, gain, fame, shame, etc.
It is not something that can be
attained in any way.It is not some far
off mysticalaltered state of
consciousness—although there appear to be altered states.For any status, pleasure, or state that can
be attained, there has to be an awareness of that state.Everything passes in time.Nothing doesn’t pass in time.Awareness is the no-thing that everything
rises from and falls back to!You are
that.You have always been that.It is shining through your eyes right now.Who has problems? Who dies? Who sees the
to me mind is mind wether its turned inward or outward.
Reply from glorymind
ok..this is all good and dandy and all.
but what again is i?
i just dont get that part.
to me mind is mind wether its turned inward or outward.
Here's a guess: "I" is the artifact of sometimes-active thought-experiences, but not that conceptual. "I" is the (delusional) doer behind actions. Experiencer of experiences. And the thinker of thoughts - that's when we exist.
And... isn't it absurd to call the questioner absurd?
All this talk of awareness... what is it again?
" ......... I`ts like.. Attentione, focus, where we choose to be, or rather... What I want to say is more like... Focus, yeah, attention, yeah, but no. More like being in tune.. or... Eh... Anyway, Gloryhole, ha! There, I said it, godamn, I tried not to but I`m just a little boy! I can`t help it! I was born this way, it`s a curse! :)