Mirror of Zen Blog

Thomas Metzinger on “Failing Beings”

I recently read, for the first time, the 2020 essay by the pre-eminent German philosopher of mind, Thomas Metzinger, entitled “Spirituality and Intellectual Honesty”.

This quote, in his opening paragraph, struck me deeply. And it points to the absolute need that we all practice individual choices of awakening, not merely wishing for “change” in “the system”, or from politics or social policy — but making sincere, day-to-day efforts to stay CLEAR so that we can endure the changes to come:

I predict that during the next decades, we will increasingly experience ourselves as failing beings. We will experience ourselves as beings who collectively and stubbornly act against better knowledge, who even under great time‐pressure are unable, for psychological reasons, to act jointly and efficiently and to put the necessary formation of political will into effect. The collective self‐image of the species Homo sapiens will increasingly be one of a being caught in evolved mechanisms of self‐deception to the point of becoming a victim of its own actions. It will be an image of a class of naturally evolved cognitive systems that, because of their own cognitive structure, are unable to react adequately to certain challenges — even when they are able to intellectually grasp the expected consequences, and even when, in addition, they consciously experience this very fact about themselves clearly and distinctly.

There is nothing more important to do than practice. Only practice. Only wake up. Everything else is merely rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic.

As a tapping phrase to add some “higher direction“ to Metzinger‘s words, fully aligned, with what I have just expressed above, or these words by Thich Nhat Hanh:

Like I said, “just practice.” See reality as it is. And breeeeeeaaathe….

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