After Comfort

by Antonio Dias

We have resigned ourselves to accept that life’s purpose is to chase after comfort. This leaves us in a very uncomfortable position. We begin to prod and peer to see what might come after comfort….

Money, power, agreement, advantage; these all promise comfort. The key here is in promise. In our appetite for comfort we accept unfulfilled promises, repeatedly violated promises, for the reality. We prop each other up with poses of optimism, even pessimism and cynicism and nihilisms of all sorts, maintain our attention’s focus on bolstering illusions. Each tear in the fabric of lies is patched with another scrap of delusion.

Within this dynamic we don’t much investigate what comfort is, or how we might look at it in some other way. The more vaguely we hold the assumption that this hollow term, comfort, signifies something of great importance the easier it is to maintain the entire edifice of illusions. And ease, after all, is comfort’s handmaiden.

How do we even begin to sort out comfort?

Unless we develop insights into the way our dis-ease leaves us craving for any toxic simulacra we cannot gain any traction on this question. The addict’s notions of what may bring him fulfillment is always corrupted by the ravages upon his organism brought about by his addiction. Before we can look at how healthy organisms interact with comfort and discomfort, before we can have any notion of what these might mean, how they work, we need to illuminate our present condition. Not with an eye to “reform” it, or minimize its effects, to progress to some more “advanced state.” We need to just examine it, look at it, allow its boundaries and contours to come into view.

This has to do with our profound misunderstandings regarding change. Change never results from striving. Wishing for change, working for change, fighting for change, or marching for change; are all displacement activities. They keep us busy. Busy-ness keeps us occupied. This occupation holds our attention, and while it is focused in this way it cannot do anything that will actually bring about change.

Change, psychological change, which underlies any social or physical change in the human realm, is a change of state. An existing state has its equilibrium which maintains its resilience – for good or ill – and it resists change. To effect a change in state there needs be a disruption of that equilibrium that destroys its resilience and allows the elements that make up the current state to disassociate and reform into a new state. As with any physical change of state, say from liquid to gas, or to solid, there is no intermediary stage. There is no “trying to evaporate stage.” There is a liquid, and then, there is a gas. – We’re speaking here on a molecular level. Each molecule, the integer of such a reaction, has an immediate state change. The mass of molecules might be said to be in an intermediate stage, but just because some molecules are in one state and others are in another. The same can be said for social massings too.

How does psychological change then come about?

The mechanism we have relied on, without much result, has been to strive after change. These are elements of thought. If we use this term, thought, as Krishnamurti & Bohm established it. It contains all of our programing and conditioning. It can be described as the way in which we use our brains as processors. We program our brains and then play and replay these programs. Some are “logical” and others are “emotional.” But in all such cases they are limited. As with any programming, you can only get out what you have put in. No amount of increasing knowledge, experience, information, or data; no incremental “perfecting” of the programming itself; will bring us any closer to removing such limitations. N to whatever power is still infinitesimally small in the face of the infinite. Here is the “equation” describing a “proof” of futility.

All of this striving after programming our way out of our perceived dilemmas is thus trapped in the realm of thought. Within this realm we operate within conflict and negotiation. We either fight, or we bargain. Each again “promises” us comfort, or some vague “improvements” aimed towards Heaven or a “better Future,” or “restorations” of some lost state of grace.

There is another way to operate. Let’s call it working with insight. Let’s call it entering into the Implicate Order underlying the Universe. For an in-depth examination of David Bohm’s Implicate Order please satisfy yourselves through whatever study you’d like to make of it. Explaining it, beyond a rudimentary level, or convincing anyone of its validity here, would be examples of futile action on my part.

Thought, especially when tied to such a powerful processor as the human brain, becomes an all-consuming activity. It is enthralling. It is such a vivid display that it insinuates a conviction that if all this activity is there there must be an actor directing it. If there is thought there must be a thinker. We reach DesCartes’ peak of delusion, a statement that is both true and a complete misunderstanding of our condition,

“I think, therefore, I am.”

Yes, “thinking creates the illusion that there is an “I.” This “I” therefore thinks. This “thinking” brings the “I” into “existence.” Perhaps the most perfect example of circular logic!

Then again, what logic is not circular once it is relied upon beyond the simple realms in which it has utility. Paradox is the way the logical perceive the limits of their system. Most often those limits are seen as boundaries for any human action. We retreat within the “comfort” of the known….

Yet there is another way. When we work with and develop insight we are not within the limitations of thought. This can seem a fine point. We so easily slide out of an insightful attitude back into thinking each time we attempt to preserve some insight by fossilizing it into an “idea.” Then we gather around this idea and march off into ideology….

But if we remain within insight. That is to say, if we develop our receptivity to it, and accept a discipline of quieting thought’s impulsive drive to reassert itself, we are in another state. While thought promises to “convince,” insight illuminates.

There is such a gulf between these two attitudes. Thought’s limitations can best be seen right here in this distinction. It is a self-referential assortment of behaviors and habits. It begins with what is already within it, be they ideas, or memories, or expectations of any kind; and it moves us around – keeps us busy – and then returns us where we began, to what we already had. Insight illuminates what is there.

Insight illuminates what is there. This does not prejudice how we respond to what we find. It does not hold us to any preconceptions. It shines a light on illusions and conditions and does so in a way that has no coercion, no violence, no negotiating, no fighting in it. When we recognize insight we “see it.” Nothing to be convinced of or coerced into accepting. We find light and we walk into its illuminating glow. Our actions flow from our direct engagement with what is – as it is illuminated at this point by this insight. Not something then to be held onto as a “promise” of anything at some other time.

Here is another point at which we balk over remaining within this realm of insight. Our expectations of comfort, which can be seen to array themselves around a few basic appetites; to be free of pain, of want, to have assurance of continual “good fortune.” These are the enticements that lead us into accepting those promises we began with.

If we – through an accumulation of insights – have had these illusions illuminated by insight so that we achieve a state change and are no longer held to these false promises. And, if we can see the way our delusions have kept us insisting on something that is neither real nor even something worthy of our aspiration, we come to an insight into implication.

There is no order that is not embedded in a greater order. There is no chaos, only orders that are beyond our capacities to understand. The Universe, The One, brings itself into being in a continual process of emergence. It is holographic, not in the short-hand sense of being an illusion projected into space, but in its original meaning as something that is autograph. Something as with a signature, that holds all of its meaning in every detail and all of its detail in the whole of its meaning. Such an order pulls possibilities out of what is implied and then brings them into explicit being before these forms are transformed by further implication to take on the next explicit form. This foment occurs at every scale and in every way and at all times and in the instant.

As we recognize this – again it is not a question of convincing or logic per se. It is an act of profound recognition. We see how this is true as our being resonates with this truth.

As we do this we see that our notions upon which we base our sense of comfort are illusions. The stasis we strive after. The assurances, the “promises” we so much want to believe; are simply not possible.

As this occurs we go through a process of transition. This happens before any real change is effected. We lose our habitual comfort and begin to be introduced to what we’ve been calling joyful disillusionment. We begin to recognize how leaving our illusions behind makes us stronger. How this opens us to compassion, first within our selves and then spreading towards everyone and everything else. We find that joy is not some precarious state, but an expression of our natural buoyancy. As we stop “drowning” and begin to gain confidence in our swimming, we realize that it is no loss to give up on these comforts. It is a gift.

At this point change happens.

After comfort is change, and all this implies….