A Feeling That Never Quite Goes Away


 There is a certain feeling that never quite goes away. It is a particular feeling - or we might say, a certain level of awareness - that can never quite be swept aside.

 It is a force or power that lingers in the depths of our being, even if we have done our best to keep it buried there.

 The philosopher, Ted Honerich, calls this capacity that "wholly resilient proposition.” (David Papineau and Ted Honerich, Introducing Consciousness, Philosophy Now, June/July 2016)

 Which is that there is a never quite forgotten inborn feeling, or awareness, that has a wholly resilient quality to it.

 It has, in other words, a spring-like quality to it. An enormous power of resilience. It can spring back even if long buried. It is a level of knowledge that can come bounding back even if you have done your best to toss it far away.

 Which parallels the Yogic picture of the human potential of awareness as coiled up like a serpent in your own psychic depths. There is a level of coiled up knowing waiting to be unsprung. 

 Until that unfolding of spiritual awareness, you are in no condition to know much. Why? Because you’re inwardly clogged. You’re stuck. You’re bound. The best part of you - that part of you that could know something worth knowing - is coiled up.

 Awakening occurs when that pent-up, or bound up, power of awareness, is struck by the power of grace.

 It is then that a long buried, but resilient knowledge, gushes up, or springs forth, like a dolphin leaping from the ocean.

 Honerich defines the wholly resilient proposition as the awareness that we, as conscious beings all share that, when we think, feel, or see that there is more going on than the physical dimension alone.

 There is a something more to us - a built-in dignity of awareness - that defines our humanity.

 We possess an innate level of knowing that resists any reductionist philosophies that assert that when we think, feel or see that all that's happening is neurons firing in the brain.

 The suggestion being made here is that though you might define yourself as a materialist, physicalist or atheist that, try as you might, you will never quite succeed in pulling the stunt off. 

 You will fail to reduce yourself to the physical dimension only, because you cannot quite get over being human.

 Try as you might to become a Gollum, you remain a Hobbit, even if hard to recognize. 

 For there is always the danger to your degrading self-definition as a materialist, physicalist or atheist that, someone may know you and see better into you than you can see into yourself. 

 Someone pure in heart, sagely and seer-like, will see you as you really are, and not in terms of the atheistic mask you wear. She will recognize what’s in you, in spite of your thickheaded posturing.

 She will see into you and expose you, even if you’re an atheist in full throttle - an atheist on steroids - an atheistic battering ram.

 The truth is that there remains in you - the most hard-boiled atheist, the most vehement physicalist, or avid materialist - a noble instinct, which is that level of awareness that resists all reductionist philosophies.

 The point is to say that in spite of yourself, you are not just a thing, machine or animal. 

 There is something, I am saying, even in the raging atheist that, retains a resilient capacity to break free. A power remains that may yet overtake your best God denying assertions. 

 You can’t quite get rid of it! Just when you think you have dispensed with it - once and for all - it is there again - calling for your attention. 

 For it is, says Ted Honerich, “the proposition that never lies down for long. It always gets up and fights again."

 It is a power of awareness that I would argue is intrinsic to our sense of ourselves that, however long ignored, denied or repressed, “always overtakes more people than are ever convinced by philosophers.” (Honerich)

 What you most deeply are comes springing back. And you may be shocked to find yourself in the presence of that which you have long denied and repressed.

 An awareness long suppressed rises up. It springs back. 

 As in the case of Christopher Hitchens apparently, at least to some degree.

 In a book called The Faith of Christopher Hitchens, by Larry Alex Taunton, the author asserts that his friend, Christopher, though an avowed atheist, maintained a certain degree of openness to spiritual possibilities.

 Mr. Taunton tells of many hours of conversation with his friend, Christopher. Some of that time was spent studying the Gospel of John together. 

 It is asserted as well that Christopher was open enough to admit that among the attractions of belief was the assertion that the universe gives evidence of having been finely tuned

 In the words of Hitch himself: “At some point, certainly, we (atheists) are all asked which is the best argument you come up against from the other side?

 I think every one of us picks the fine-tuning one as the most intriguing,” adding that "you have to spend time thinking about it, working on it. It’s not trivial.” 

 Are we seeing here in Hitchens that he hadn’t quite closed the case against God? I don’t know. 

 But based on the above, it gives support for what I am trying to say here that in all of us, whatever our philosophical stance, there is a feeling that never quite goes away.

 It is a resilient feeling that can re-surface at critical points in our lives.

 When it does, this awareness of deeper dimensions can be life transforming. 

 My sense is that if there is even but a slight sense of this feeling that it is worth cultivating.

 In my experience, everything is to be gained and nothing lost.

 My sense is to light and stoke this fire of awareness until it blazes.


Song from Toverpeeks, Kettel