4 minute read ⏰
Does anyone else feel like they're getting closer to something? Like something is on the horizon? Something big?
Perhaps I should start by explaining what my feeling is with the best words I can come up with when describing an intangible experience. It feels like:
- a wave about to crash
- a big wave about to crash
- a skydiver jumping out of an aeroplane
- a ball accelerating faster and faster
All these examples are trying to describe the feeling I'm having. I can't touch this feeling, I can't grab on to it. It just comes. Then it goes. But when it comes, it comes so close to my heart that it almost feels like I AM it. An excitement waiting to happen, about to peak, about to be free.
This post isn't about that feeling in particular. It is about trying to identify what really is a feeling and what to do with them.
Here's an example:
I feel like I should eat a pizza today for lunch. However, I know I don't have enough money. I know I'll be paid in 2 days though. But I know I'll get charged interest on my overdraft if I do get the pizza. Should I still eat a pizza today for lunch?
I feeeel like I should - I really want a pizza today!! But I know logically - financially - that it would not make any sense in doing so. I would be down, say, 20p, from the interest rate charged. But my gut and intuition says I should! It feeeels like I should!
Notice the last sentence. "It feels like I should" - what is 'it'? What is that 'something'? Me? Well, it definitely feels like it's coming from "me". But what about this other logical voice inside my head? Why is there friction between the two things? Am I two things? Feelings and thinking?
This quickly leads to the rabbit hole of you asking yourself: "what am I?". To make a long story short, the famous philosopher, mathematician, and scientist René Descartes concluded in his Discourse on Method (1637) that one of the only things you can be certain about in life is that you are a thinking thing.
"Cogito, ergo sum" — "I think, therefore I am"
A thinking thing? In other words, you have a brain that thinks - your inner voice inside you - and that is enough to know that you exist as "something", we're not sure what that something is, but something is thinking and because something is thinking that must mean "I" HAVE to be "something".
I am onboard with Descartes line of thought. Though, there is something missing to his argument which I've been pondering for a while.
My question stems from meditation. If the purpose of meditation is to observe the mind, like sitting on a boat in an ocean, what happens when we truly quite down the mind? When there are no thoughts, and you enter a state where you are truly present. What happens to Descartes argument?
I have stopped thinking. But I still know that I exist.
I like to think that we can narrow down our human experience down to two things:
- You are a thinking thing
- You are a feeling thing
The mind can think. The mind can feel. You can think. You can feel.
In a strange way, you are two things at once. Feelings and thinking can be separated. They can contradict each other, there can be friction between the two. You are both one at the same time. It is the decider, the one who chooses what to listen to, that is the real you.
However, this still begs the question, how can we trust a feeling? Where do feelings come from? It is still a debated topic. We know parts of the puzzle, but we still lack the knowledge to see the full picture. Through my experience, it is like my feelings have a life of their own, while the more logical side of me sits angrily in the corner watching me make terrible financial decisions on buying a pizza for lunch.
Published on 30th April 2021