|Sent on:||Monday, April 28, 2008 11:20 PM|
The Illusion of Conclusion
Have you ever noticed a tendency to rush towards conclusion? It can be one of the deepest habits that we learn from the world around us. It is the belief that there are endings to stories, processes, journeys, relationships and even our life. It is the belief that there must be a last moment, a final scene, a dramatic, climactic crescendo, then a descent into a vacuous silence that signals���. the end! But it's an illusion. Yes of course the movie ends and the credits roll. But the movie is not real, it's just continuously changing coloured lights projected on to a screen. It's just dancing images that we filter through our perception and ascribe our personal meaning. After the lights stop flickering on the screen, the movie continues in the place where the movie was really created and seen, within our consciousness. The movie that is 'real life' goes on, and we allow it to go on, but only when we realize it's just a movie!
The ending of a relationship seems to be the end of 'the relationship', but it isn't. It can never end. We may never physically see and meet that person ever again, but the relationship abides within our consciousness, sometimes consciously and sometimes subconsciously, as a memory. And memories are forever! That's why wars seem to end when the battlefield is empty, but they rage on in the minds and hearts of men.
Arrival in London from Paris, or in Beirut from Seoul, may appear to be a journeys end, but in reality it's not, because the destination is not a place where we sit and then suddenly do nothing. They are not end points, because thought and action doesn't end when we physically arrive anywhere. And besides, what exactly is 'where'? London and Paris are not even places, just labels for pieces of land and buildings. Where do London and Paris, or any city for that matter, begin and end? Is there a line drawn in a field somewhere? No, they are just ideas which become agreed labels for geographical locations where people congregate. Locations where everything and everyone is perpetually moving, changing, shifting��� never endingly��� without conclusion!
What really pulls the rug out from under the 'illusion of conclusion' are the many cycles which exist around us in the world we share. The water cycle, the carbon cycle, the economic cycle, the night and day cycle and the cycle of the seasons are never ending, perpetual in their motion, and there to remind us everyday that in any cycle there are no conclusions. Even our own life cycle has not been proved to have a conclusion. At the point of what is called death the material of the body continues on as it reverts to its five constituent elements and becomes food! And no one has yet demonstrated exactly what happens to consciousness when it decides to exit the temple of form.
Does anyone know the beginning of life, of time? Does anyone know of the ending? It appears not. There are many theories sustaining many possibilities, but there is nothing conclusive. There can't be because there probably isn't and implicit in all probability is inconclusiveness���if you see what I mean! So you could say there are no 'points of beginning' and no ending points. Or if you insist on beginnings and endings then every point, every moment, could be viewed as an ending and as a beginning, thereby cancelling each other out and creating perpetual continuity.
So why do we develop the tendency to create the illusion of conclusion and then rush towards it? Why do we often live more focused on endings, on the destination, than on the journey there? Why do we jump to conclusions so quickly only to realise it wasn't a conclusion at all? There are seven possible reasons and, as you will probably notice, each one is inconclusive!
Because we want 'it' to be over.
Whether it is the journey, the relationship or the task, we often want it to finish it fast because we do not like the journey, or the person or the process of the task. There is no joy and the absence of joy means the presence of some level of misery. So we hurry towards the end so we can be free of our misery and move on to something else and the promise of something better. What we don't realize is the joy we are missing cannot be discovered in the task, or in the relationship, or the journey, only within ourselves. But no one told us. If we knew that then we might learn to find joy in ourselves regardless of what we are doing, who we are with and wherever we 'appear' to be going. Have you ever noticed that when you really 'enjoy' doing something or being with someone you never look at your watch? Your awareness is in a timeless state and you never invoke the illusion of a conclusion.
Because we have learned to believe there are endings in life.
Yes of course the chocolate bar comes to an end, as does the taste of the chocolate. Or does it? The memory of the taste does not. It is that memory that continues, and sets up the craving for the next bar and what seems to be a new pleasure. So we seem to have beginnings and endings of frequent pleasures, sustaining the idea that there are 'pleasure endings' over which we have no control. And yet, at a deeper level, we might discover that the real 'pleasure of life' is self generated and not stimulated. But as long as we believe the pleasures of life are stimulated we are destined to sustain one of our favorite illusions, that all good things must come to an end.
Because we want to avoid understanding the other
Sometimes when we judge the other there is the tendency to make the judgment final. It's just too inconvenient or it's too challenging to get know and understand 'them'. So it's easier to create a conclusion about what they are like and hold that conclusion as a reason to avoid engaging with them. And when someone challenges our judgment , as people do, we also don't want to be proved wrong so we say, "I have made up my mind about him/her, and I have come to the conclusion that���."
In the court room it appears the judge passes a final judgment on the defendant. In reality however they pass a judgment on the 'history' of the defendant. All of which appears to conclude the case. But it doesn't. A person is not their history and a person is not 'a case' that can be closed. People's lives go on, and on. Unfortunately we tend to define people by their past history creating an inevitable but false conclusion. In fact we do the same to ourselves about ourselves. We may even say, or think, "Yes I have always been like this, or behaved like that, it can't be changed, it's the way I am, it's my nature, it's fixed". It provides us with a conclusion which we can use justify our avoidance of the effort of changing the ways in which we feel and live.
Because we believe in right and wrong
Who are we to say what is right and wrong? It certainly varies from culture to culture and it's usually shaped by the prevailing belief system. Some say killing animals is wrong and then they eat them. Some say killing people is wrong and then they go to war. What's right? What is wrong? We tend not to like these kinds of contradiction or ambiguities, and yet we also tend not to want to take the time to deeply investigate and clarify the morality of our actions, so it's easier to believe in the apparent finality of a right and wrong, especially if we are the creator of that finality. Some of us have also been taught to equate being happy with being right, so we are always trying to be right so we can be happy. Being right is then seen as an end point, a moment when we can be happy ��� at last! So we seek to create and rush towards a finality that might deliver a moment of self satisfaction. A moment we can rest contentedly in. But it can only be a moment, and therefore inconclusive, because who has the right to say what is right and what is wrong? Ultimately no one, is that right?! Mmm!
Because we tell stories
The construction of a story usually involves a beginning, middle and an end. The novel or the movie must come to a 'satisfactory conclusion' so that we can go home and get on with our life. But the story is not real, it's manufactured and the idea that there is an ending is also manufactured and built in. The reader of the novel, the watcher of the movie and the actors who play the characters don't suddenly end. 'They' are real and they continue. Real life is a never ending story. But it's as if we can have a moment of rest in a 'neat ending', which is really a moment of relief from our own endless personal dramas, by taking refuge in the happy ending of a fairy tale, or a romantic novel or in the life of the action hero. All stories are therefore 'fairy tales', an escape from the pressure of continuously creating our own story, which can never have an ending. Or is that just another kind of 'conclusion illusion'?
Because we want to control the process and therefore the outcome
Victory and triumph are perceived as conclusions to some form of heroic effort. We have a tendency to memorialize them, and someone is remembered for just one moment, one achievement, one victory. So we learn to aspire to achieve, to be victorious, to ascend to 'the heights', and implicit in that aspiration is that when we get there then there will be an end to effort, a conclusion to our endeavours. But is there? We still have to get out of bed the next day and face the challenge that makes us all potential but unsung heroes ��� facing the world and living an authentic life each day without desiring anything to end at any time in any way.
Because our language is designed to come to a conclusion���apparently!
Our construction of language has the idea of endings built in. The linear nature of the sentence must end in a full stop if sense is to be made of what is said. So we create our communication in such a way that there appears to be endings - endings to ideas, to concepts, to experiences, to conversations. But there are no such endings. Everything either continues or fades. But whatever fades still abides somewhere, in some form, usually in consciousness, as memory. And in the meantime the actual creators of language, you and me, we go on and on and on.
And so to conclude! One of the greatest paradoxes of our modern lives is we create the illusion of a thousand conclusions, of fixed and final endings, while at the same time we fear 'the end'. But reality is always there to remind us that what is 'real' goes on. Life flows on. When we fully see and willingly embrace the perpetual never endingness of all that is real we enter 'flow', and the joy of living both dissolves and replaces the desire and the fear of all forms of possible endings. Or in slightly simpler terms, whenever you want an end to anything you are avoiding now!
Question: In what areas of your life today do you tend to create the desire for a conclusion and what is it that you would like to end exactly?
Reflections: Why do you think you want to bring these things/processes to an end?
Action: Be aware of all that you say this week that implies a desire for a conclusion or ending of things.