What Is and Who Is Speaking, Listening

Daniel Beck-Ohara

What is listening and who is listening? To try to give an answer would mean to use descriptions, notions and concepts which were exclusively constructed during the individual lifetime in the world of personal experience, the parts out of which these descriptions would be built, would again originate in the own world of personal experience. But the world of experience belongs to the world of fragmentation; in this world of fragmentation we never find identity, we only find viability which always appears together with differences. Knowledge, which is always fragmented, is not "a something" given, but it had to be constructed. Knowledge, as long as it is in the field of experience, is not a picture of the real world. Its use is limited in giving a basis for actions, concepts, conceptual operations which fit the purposive contexts in which we use them. Therefore is the environment always a part of each observer's domain of experience and not an independent external world (Glasersfeld, Radical Constructivism). The

pre-Socratics already argued that a reality independent of the human ways of knowing was not accessible, because man cannot step out of his ways of knowing. The sentence that "man is the measure of all" has therefore to be read and understood as "man is the measure of himself"; because man always sees through his own eyes and understands through his brain and expresses himself through his thinking. In this way he creates his subjective and therefore unique world. He can never do a comparison with an objective world because he is absolutely limited to his brain and thinking. In creating his unique world the already given frame is involved which prevents man from seeing what really is.

Man's excentric positionality is at the very root of his, in our society as strong valued, abilities: He can look at himself, at everything as an object. As a subject facing objects, he can strive for "objectivity". But he will with certainty realize that the very objectivity which lets him understand all this is yet the wall, the very boundary separating him from "true suchness". This positionality is the very wall which prevents man from knowing himself as well as the other and characterizes any human knowledge. Knowledge is dependent on the separation-link between the seer and the seen. Definitions formulate the essential characteristics of a phenomenon by establishing its boundaries (de-finitio) and thus by distinguishing it from other phenomena. Such distinction based on excluded contradictory opposites is the most basic principle of knowledge and therefore of science and philosophy. Philosophy doesn't lead beyond the barrier which prevents man from truly understanding. Philosophy realizes that it must juxtapose to know, that it must separate, that it must define - and just this delimitation separates it from "thruth". Science and philosophy aim at knowing, and knowing means necessarily knowing something. The something of knowledge is by its very nature defined by boundaries: something. Whatever can be known is in some way defined and therefore finite. The world accessible to human reason is thus marked by prevasive boundaries, and whenever such boundary is crossed, man faces another, more inclusive or exclusive boundary. Any knowledge is chained to finity, to boundaries, to distinction, and to opposites; and while it can identify and relate finite objects to each other, it cannot break through to infinity. Man cannot be content with such knowledge and must forever try to go beyond anything limited and finite, but the truth cannot be identified with any of the the entities that show up in it and remains concealed.

We look for help, for a way into and places of deep silence in a restless moving world. Places where the measurable time becomes primeval times, the right moment of the true being (the Greek “kairos” as opposed to “chronos”) - the real life time - ; places rooted and realized in timelessness; in short: an invitation to an unknown journey. As boys we constructed small boats and put them in the creek. The world journeys of this games always came safe home, always attained their aims at the other shore. The dreamlike of such "world journeys" stayed sheltered in the unity of all being, the Oneness. These world journeys didn't know anything about the journey where every shore is left behind. Nevertheless there was the first slight touch of what is needed when going the way where everything is left behind: namely to open oneself towards the heavens and simultaneously to root oneself deep in the dark of the earth (Martin Heidegger, Holzwege). A journey about which we do know nothing, a journey which cannot be caught by knowing. For whom we go this journey? For whom we go this very life? Where we go to, for what do we live?... to answer these questions, to respond to this amazement is the purpose in life - to answer perhaps with a life nourished from love rooted in gratitude; to answer with one's own going the way. This waying does not mean going a way that is already at hand, but it has to be created every moment anew. And under this way, the way to our aim has transformed itself. It has transposed itself from being some deed of ours to a selfless going, to the essence. And so we have to live on our way an eternity at each station along our life-journey. Then the days will no more be an unauthentic, senseless succession, but they become days of unlimited diligence. The repetition of the days now signifies the unbroken succession of diligent practice. And whatever the horizon will be, there will always be another side to it, the beyond-horizon. And for all visible things to be possible, it is a prerequisite that there is space which cannot be seen and this space is sheltered by the unlimited.

In a world where modern communications are abolishing physical distance, resources are shrinking, population is growing exponentially, and environmental problems are escalating, reflexes of understanding and sharing become a necessity. We are challenged to throw off "the fatal temptation to worship our dead selves and perpetuate our past mistakes” (Lewis Mumford, Condition of Man). We must dare to renew ourselves by renewing our vision of our relationship with others and with nature. For all the fascination the "global village" evokes, this term which we owe to Marshall McLuhan, is no more than a guiding fiction for a certain model of a social development. The "global village" does not exist in reality - also for the admirers it is not more than a virtual reality. The world of today, our civilization's culture of the "survival of the technologically fittest" has conditionned men to distinguish what is valuable from what is worthless in a narrow frame of ego-centered terms/values of novelty and efficiency. Mainly asked is calculative thinking, a thinking that computes, computes ever new, ever more, it never stops, never collects itself. It is not a thinking that contemplates the meaning that reigns in everything there is, it does not demand of us not to cling one-sidedly to a single fragmented idea, and not to run down a one-track course of ideas. To survive successfully in these standards means to build up a strong egocentric personality. But true life/life in suchness begins from a letting go of the ego, its spirit is the one of inquiry and discovery, but never of measurement, because this would mean again division in subject/object and therefore fragmentation. When the person-centered mode of being is dropped, personality becomes a mask through which there is shining the Truth.