The Folly of Seeking
Updated: Oct 12, 2022
The pursuit of goals can be deceptive. We believe that our desires can be satisfied by obtaining some “thing,” or in other words, coming to have possession or control. Western science, mathematics, and technology continue to be based on this idea. Rational action seeks to organize reality into categories of things, boxes if you will, so that things exist within their boxes and do not exist outside them.
Have you ever considered the correspondence between language and the "external" world that it is trying to describe? What is the amount of information conveyed by a word such as “rock” or “tree?” Can it possibly compare to the subtle intricacies that make each rock and tree unique? By doing so, rational language captures incomplete impressions of reality that gloss over its true nature. As a result, we forever live on a perpetual hamster wheel, seeking to reach the object of our desire – an end.
Sure, we occasionally feel like we’ve achieved a level of mastery or reached some place of satisfaction, but the quest is not so easily resolved. The target moves again and again because desire is never content.
We, as reality seekers, know this feeling all too well; and in some ways, it is characteristic of the human condition. However, there is one remedy that I know:
Recognize that reality is not logical since nothing can be said about everything. You can't put the whole of being into a box and trying to do so only leads to an endless pursuit.
People tend to think that they are disconnected from each other and from their physical nature. We have separate minds that exist within our physical bodies distinct from everyone and everything else. My only recommendation for treating the seeking condition is to challenge those fundamental beliefs. In future articles, I will break this down and give concrete examples to the extent that this can be discussed.
Thanks to my favorite philosopher, Alan Watts, for inspiring today's article. Try one of his podcasts if you'd like to study this further: