In times, when we have direct access to countless tools of self-knowledge and search for one’s path (yet ignoring them all the same), the act of knowing oneself stops being revolutionary, and becomes a necessary hygiene procedure. Self-knowledge as an act of directing one’s attention towards the unknown parts of yourself, is a psychic/somatic clean-up. French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet once said: "dirt is the element out of its place”. There’s nothing wrong or pointless or inherently “bad” inside of us. We do not need to be fixed, cured or converted. But what we do need is a re-arrangement. A feeling that’s out of its place, repressed in the dark, becomes a toxin. A fixed idea that’s out of its place, sitting on throne of our attention, becomes a toxin. Hormones and neurotransmitters that are out of their place, become toxins. And the toxins are destructive for the ecosystem. Especially, when disposed without being recycled.
Likewise, a person out of their place becomes toxic. And when a substance, feeling or person becomes toxic, is when the violence begins. Have you ever seen a perfectly realised and satisfied person passionately punching another person in the face? (apart from kickboxing, sure).
The only real method to stop violence is to give the parts of the (eco)system to come home to where they belong. Only then the “organ” becomes organic. But if we pretend to intellectually comprehend, what this organic order should look like, we do not stop the violence, but breed it further.
Only when we start to listen – truly, gently, with all attentiveness and care – to the deep necessities of our bodies, minds and hearts, only then the violence will start giving in.
Two important remarks:
1. being “on the right place” doesn’t mean to be always pro-creative, because without destruction no (eco)system can survive.
2. there can even be no visible or recognisable “whole” or “system” those organic parts belong to – organs without body.
When I talk about “organic place”, I do not mean the Cosmic Order or the Place in The Circle of Life. Because any perfectly completed system with a predisposed order is doomed. A closed matrix with a given algorythm necessarily comes to stagnation and dies. This is why, spare us, Universe Almighty, from those therapists, ecologists and political strategists, who pretend to know where the “natural place of all things” is.
Because it is not even a place.
It is an ever-changing state of movement. The taoists and Buddhists knew their math before the European paradigm conquered us all with its stagnant “Universal Harmony”.
When we try to find our “place in the Sun” (or Saturn) as some fixed coordinate in a predisposed unchangeable system, we squeeze our Being in the box. Or a mathimatical matrix with no development. The very idea of a fixed “Cosmic Order” can thus be violent. By the way, Hitler has fulfilled his astrological chart pretty well, and was obsessed with the idea of getting sh*t right in accordance with the perfect fundamental Order (Star Wars’ First Order suddenly comes to my mind).
If you want a good animated illustration of what I’m trying to say about mechanical approach to the meaning and purpose of life, watch Soul (2020) or Ergo Proxy (2006), depending on your personal preferences: the former is simple, short and cute; the latter is a pure intellectual gore to your eyes and brains (purely genius though!). We are no mechanisms to have a defined “raison d’être” that serves a purpose in the “substantial whole”.
We, especially we Europeans, do love to brag about “Universal Order” of all things. But our Universe expands and changes every second, according to what scientists tell us. Therefore we say about its “parts of the whole” only conditionally. Because there is no fixed whole. Any “existing” system, be it an ecosystem, society, body, psyche or Universe, is an ever-changing thing that cannot be completely defined. Therefore I call its “organic parts” I mentioned earlier – “organs without body” (I know that Žižek did it first, so I’m not taking about his interpretation, even though it’s somewhat close).
Gilles Deleuze spoke of the body without organs – a virtual potential of every system or a “body” to be changing, creative, insane, undefined. I am, however, talking about the organs without body – conditional parts that can temporarily constellate in a form of a “body”, as a virtual whole. Like a shoal of a fish, that has no defined borders, changes its directions and consists of separate fishes that temporarily aligned.
But If the “whole” is not really something that we can pin down as even “existing”, how do we talk about its parts being on their own “organic place”?
If I were a white-bearded zen master, I’d tell you to look for answers in the ocean.
But I'm no zen master.
So, if there’s no “whole”, how do we even speak of its parts and their organic place? How do we know where’s the right place for us? Wouldn’t it be better to say: to hell with all that “purpose of life” bullsh… gobbledygook; and just live one’s life like there’s no tomorrow?
The answer is: it definitely would!
With a tiny little mini elaboration on that: you won’t be able to be truly satisfied in what you do unless you feel a deeper value of it, which is born out of love to what/how/with whom you do it.
You can compare it with sex: a fast distracted handiwork or a quickie with a person you don’t really feel for is incomparable with a deep penetration and engaging all of your erogenous zones with a person you love. It’s the job of the psychotherapist, astrologer or any other depth work specialist to help you to switch on all the “G-spots” of your life.
Our brain is a meaning-making machine, it organises our experience according to the meaning and value of different events. The problem is, we often misinterpret “meaning-making” as nailing it down to a very concrete activity, thing or person. It is indeed crucial to ground one’s inner experience with the outer one, being an indicator of psychological maturity. One thing is to know what you love, but we shall also understand how to organise our time, resources and attention in order to manifest it concretely.
But it is precisely why the so-called “purpose” is so beautiful and intriguing in its nature – it’s dynamic, ever-changing, and once we concretise it, it demands further development. If we approach our “purpose” without this readiness for further development, our life becomes a series of fails. “Oh my god, my then-dream job now bores me to death!” or “Why couldn’t our marriage stay the same as 20 years ago!”.
Heavy spoilers to “Soul” (2020) ahead!
Do you remember that moment, when Joe walks out of the club after rocking his first big gig he dreamt about for his entire life? Instead of being satisfied he feels completely empty. He finally realises that being attached to his own “purpose” as a fixed idea of a very particular thing, he nearly killed off his own Soul and the Soul of his protegé. Under his influence, 22nd becomes a lost Soul, fixed on nailing down her purpose instead of living it. The movie ends with the realisation that the “permission to live” is granted not when they find a proper activity that “fits”, but when they find joy for it.
Our “purpose” isn’t written down in a book; neither we find it pinned down in our astrological chart. There’s no Cosmic Order in which we’re obliged to “fit in” like the good little puzzle piece. A good astrologer is not the one who knows what Mars in 10th house stands for and is eager to tell you have to become a cook or join the military, but the one who helps you to find the voice of your own love.
In a sense what we, astrologers and psychologists, do, is guiding you towards your own “hall of everything”, so you can find what hits THE spot.
Because only when we feel that connection to that longing and joy in you, is when we’re all ready to live.