The Gordian knot is a metaphor for an intractable problem, a problem of untying an impossibly tangled knot. According to Wikipedia, the intractable problem is easily solved by finding an approach to the problem that renders the constraints of the problem moot. Hummm…constraints. Is the problem so big that I feel powerless to do anything? Is the problem a reality that cannot be changed? Constraints suddenly suggest to me a lack of freedom in some way. The intractable problem has got me tied up, constrained.
Humans are unbelievably good at worrying over problems until they realize a solution.
What is my modern Gordian knot? It is the coronavirus pandemic? Is it our divided country with a stalemated government? Is it the elites robbing the middle and lower classes? Is it the struggle of day to day life where you seem to slip back a little every day? These problems might be the Gordian knot for society at large and worried over by the media.
My life\’s Gordian knot is not these outer circumstances. My Gordian knot is the conundrum of being and Being. Who am I really? Who or what is Being Itself? I feel the overlap of my being and Being Itself. My desire for more consciousness seems to be what forms the Gordian knot, a knot that is hopelessly tangled. I despair of having the level of self-transcendence that I desire. Pure existentialism is my Gordian knot.
I sought Being through drug or alcoholic euphoria, through ultra-marathons, through fasting, through monastic life. In the end, I am here alone with my being. Alone? Well no. It is quite easy to behold Being in my awareness when I quietly focus without grasping.
Consciousness itself is the Gordian knot of every human being. No matter the circumstances, all of us wonder, some of the time, about what we are doing here. Some of us ponder the question incessantly, continuously seeking depth and meaning. Others do not have much time for pondering as the concerns of survival are far more urgent. But all of us pick away at the knot.
Did Jesus have the answer? The Buddha? Does the Dali Lamma have the answer at the moment? Love? Is the answer ineffable, a thing that can be sensed but not articulated? Who am I to play amateur philosopher anyway?
In Beyond Good and Evil, Nietzsche says, \”In spite of all the value which may belong to the true, the positive, and the unselfish, it might be possible that a higher and more fundamental value for life generally should be assigned to pretense, to the will to delusion, to selfishness and cupidity. It might even be possible that what constitutes the value of those good and respected things, consists precisely in their being insidiously related, knotted and crocheted to these evil and apparently opposed things–perhaps evening being essentially identical with them (12).\” ( the bold is mine)
You cannot have meaning without the meaningless. Or truth without lies. Or wisdom without the foolish. Many others have said this before me. What one of us is not a tangle of truth or delusion and falsehood? This contrast cannot be avoided in any human life.
Am I concerned for the soul of a nation or my own soul? What would Jesus do? Hardley any of us would go into the desert with Jesus. Life is too hard out there, too harsh, too stark. Yet, facing my own being, my own tangle of truth and lies is harsh. It takes a desert of only sand and sun to see what really is there.
Love. What the fuck! Take a deep breath. Would another cold shower help? I\’m not Wim Hof. Despair? Is that what this is? Humans despair of ever knowing their own truth? Fucking Gordian knot. No, I haven\’t answered any existential questions.
Freedom is in facing the Gordian knot of my own existence, facing the chaos, and shouldering a good life anyway. Despair is balanced, or maybe even overcome, by forward motion. Despair is long forgotten when I am working on an expansion project. The Gordian knot does not exist for me when I\’m engaged in being fully alive. In this sense, the material world where I can achieve transcends the material world of pandemics and governmental chaos. But both are needed.
I went for a run today. I went to the forest for 10 miles. It is cloudy, misty, and cooish. I loved running. A plane could be heard overhead, but not seen due to the clouds. Birds were heard overhead, and I could see them in the trees. The cloud of unknowing is what exists above me, but it doesn\’t matter. I know what is up there anyway.