The Elusive Nature of Perfect Clarity
In 1968, in a rare and revealing interview with Playboy magazine, the master filmmaker Stanley Kubrick made some startling and candid admissions about his perspective on life. At one point during the interview, he gave us this striking, and now famous, quote:
“The most terrifying fact about the universe is not that it is hostile but that it is indifferent. If we can come to terms with this indifference, then our existence as a species can have genuine meaning. However vast the darkness, we must supply our own light.”
Kubrick inadvertently summarised 20th century existentialism in one short and eloquent paragraph. The existentialists proposed that there is no inherent meaning in anything we see, but that we are each solely responsible for creating meaning. Striving to “live” this meaning authentically gives our existence validity.
In a specific and limited sense, they made an important observation. Within the context of relative reality, there is no perfectly objective perspective in relationship to anything we see. All perspectives are relative. What we see and understand is governed by the senses, the mind, thought, emotion and our own personal and cultural conditioning.
Yet there is a deeper reality that any human being can access when they are prepared to let go of the relative dimension of the mind and the senses. If we go sufficiently deep, we can touch an Absolute dimension of reality that blows apart our relative sense of self, time and space.
When we are convinced beyond any doubt about the ultimate nature of Being, and the evolutionary context of all manifest reality, what emerges is an existential context that has ultimate meaning at its core.
From this point forward, we can at least be absolutely sure of one thing: the Absolute itself. When we dare to go this deep, there is existential relief in the direct experiential cognition of something that is absolutely true – not an object, but a principle.
This recognition can enable us to cultivate a kind of authentic, unshakeable self-confidence that is rooted in the Absolute. Yet simultaneously, we can fully acknowledge the starkly contrasting truth that we will never see anything with absolute objectivity.
There is a healthy tension between these two positions. On the one hand, we have the spiritual self-confidence that emerges from an experiential certainty in that which is absolute. On the other, we have the humility to understand that our view can never be complete.
If we can hold this tension lightly, a kind of liberating clarity can emerge. It becomes possible to hold multiple perspectives without getting lost in one or other relative dimension of experience.
Anchored in spiritual self-confidence, we can learn how to embrace an integral orientation characterised by a tentative “leaning in”, where we are always simultaneously cognitive of, and trying to see beyond, our own limitations.
In this talk, Andrew Cohen explores the elusive nature of perfect clarity, and reveals the delicate interplay between certainty in an absolute principle, and our ever-imperfect perception of manifest reality.
Andrew CohenResident Teacher
Andrew Cohen is a spiritual teacher, author, cultural visionary and inspirational speaker. His work has been acclaimed by luminaries from all walks of life, from academics to philosophers to spiritual pundits.
Andrew has become known for his willingness to boldly cast aside the sacred cows of the spiritual world. His work grapples with demystifying the wealth of knowledge found in the great wisdom traditions, and with making enlightenment deeply relevant to a post-modern audience.