March 22, 2022•460 words
I was reflecting on what I wrote before about the trap of knowledge and how the pursuit of it can so easily inflate and distract rather than actually be of use. I still think this is often the case but last night I also experienced how gaining a more thorough intellectual grasp of something can be useful in transcending it.
It was centered around an addictive habit of mine, which I wasn't really seeing as such until I opted to read up on it rather than indulging. Once I did, the broader ramifications became clear and I saw that it wasn't worth the overall costs. Exploring the experiences of others also put it into a starkly unappealing light. I could relate to what I was reading and I had to ask, is this what I want? The answer was an obvious no.
I'm coming to see how easy it is for a whole life to slip away in hundreds of small acts of indulgence. It's only in zooming out and seeing how much time has passed and how much I've avoided and neglected while caught in the orbit of my habits and addictions that I really take it in.
There are so many socially acceptable addictions these days. We don't call them that but that's what they are, or at least what they often become. Some part of us wants to stop but it never seems to be the right time, and so we indulge, rationalize and stuff it back into the shadow because it's too uncomfortable to admit that we're not always in control of ourselves, and that we're afraid to leave the comfortable wombs that our addictions create. As soon as any healthy level of growth-related anxiety kicks in we have about 100 little dopamine injectors calling for our return. So we stay for just one more hit - just one more episode, one more snack, one more drink, one more smoke, one more pill, one more video, one more post, one more message, one more day...
So the introduction of deeper and broader knowledge can be helpful as a stepping stone to transcendence. Maybe even necessary, if only because of how distracted and disconnected we are from our bodies and instincts. Most of us seem to need to have everything conceptualized and externally represented via narratives, graphs and figures to bring us back to our senses. Eventually though, this too needs to be let go of. For myself, it seems to work well as a temporary substitute for the thing I'm trying to grow beyond, liking inserting a smaller thorn to push out a bigger one. Moving progressively through less and less corrosive habits so the underlying wounds can slowly be exposed and healed along the way.