What is BeneathTheNoise?
Have you ever sat silently, staring either into your eyelids or into some shape before you and began trying to count your breaths? Perhaps you could not get past 3 without a phantom problem jumping in front of you. Perhaps you routinely reach 25, but trail off into fleeting insights of your perceived thought process. Or perhaps you reach 100 and back, but nonetheless watch the plethora of your consciousness wiggle about in the meantime, a scientist studying the massive idolatry which is his own consciousness.
These mental idols are The Noise. Meditation can reveal them and disarm them temporarily, but the truth is that they were born of the earth with you. Something always lies beneath them.
My greatest moments of personal enlightenment and growth have often been preceded by years of reading, mentally criticizing information on a subject, and prior strong opinions. But, they occur as a thunderclap nonetheless. Suddenly I am lifted to understanding by the rejection of a paradigm rather than the apprehension of one. The water builds up, but it alone cannot break the dam. But, what can? What reveals to us our own underlying sound?
Perhaps, more simply, have you ever in your silent sitting, stared at your flickering anxieties and asked “why”? Sometimes I have done just that, and I was lead to a state of simplistic realization. All the noise is layered, a nested and opaque algorithm driving thought. And each simplistic layer can be heard only with the most radical form of honesty (after all, honesty must be heard before it can be seen).
A personal example, thought and observed during meditation:
Thought: “Why am I never focused on the task at hand? I’m getting no work done. This sucks”
Observation: I am feeling a driving need to read other specific things when I work, as they are more interesting and cannot result in failure.
Thought: “I have always had a problem with such things. It must be genetic or something. What meds can I use to stop it?”
Observation: I often focus just fine, and this is a rationalization. I have created a paradigm to justify my lack of focus when it occurs, one that absolves me of responsibility because it considers failure as inevitable.
All this was not thought in an instant, but it all began to resolve in that instant. Of course I say began because implementing change is not so simple and requires both action and the eventual adaptation of a superior paradigm. However, radical honesty now pairs with radical ownership. I go to a friend and tell them about this paradigm, and I instantly feel uncomfortable. Why? Because I now own something I fear more than failure, and I have given up any attempt to hide it. And my friend might first think of me as weak after I say this, but as they reflect on similar situations themselves they will likely realize two things. Not only am I like them, but our connection has revealed something internal and beneath the noise.
Conservative societies with repressive majority policies have always rejected true honesty and have molded religion as an antithesis to the idea of self ownership, because these things are the most powerful tools for people to define their own individual identities and destiny (the worst nightmare of such societies). Identity politics likewise often drives resistance to radical honesty and ownership in ideological minority groups because it is seen as a danger to group identity. We live at a time where people are permitted a near absolute level of honesty and self ownership. It’s the time to be vigilant, and that’s why I have this blog.
Years ago in my undergrad, such noise was present that I learned to be open in my poetry. Then, I reached a local minima of anxiety and only broke further fears as needed. I withheld things from myself when they didn’t pose an immediate pressing issue, when my mind reached a steady and manageable state of entropy. This is called standard adulthood, and it kills all poetry. I reject this paradigm.
Rather, I now aim for meditation, radical honesty and radical ownership in my life and my relationships with people. Issues of gender, sexuality, career inadequacy, relationship stress, identity crises, political questioning, the nature of friendships and life goals are things most of us are faced with daily. But I aim to speak freely, evenly, and thoughtfully with no fear, to myself and to others. And that is poetry, that is what this blog is about, and that is what is Beneath the Noise.
Free (a poem from 9 years ago)
Free from classes, free from books
Free from people’s judging looks
Free from drinking, free from food
Free from temporary moods
Free from all obligations and chores
Free from items, free from stores
Free from needs, free from wants
Free from letters,words and fonts
Free from guilt, free from shame
Free from unnecessary aims
Free from future, free from past
Free from first and free from last
Free from order built by fools
Free from words which power tools
Free from peoples lies and games
Free from things made all the same
Free from hand-me-down beliefs
Free from nations and free from fiefs
Free from groups and labels too
Free from the wars which always ensue
Free from body, free from lies
Free from all ill conceived highs
Free from preconceptions made
All expectations, all traditions obeyed
That for a moment I may be completely free,
Free from all but beautiful reality,
What might I feel? What might I see?