« Making Sense with Sam Harris

#249 — Distance & Arrival

2021-05-14 | 🔗

In this episode of the podcast, Sam Harris and David Whyte further explore his work in his book Consolations: The Solace, Nourishment and Underlying Meaning of Everyday Words.

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This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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ok, the briefest of housekeeping here. just want to announce that the first season of my podcast with Ricky Travis, slightly mental has dropped and eleven episodes are available at absolutely mental dot com. The first those episodes- we were these Tirana on the podcast, so there eight new ones and thank you all for letting us demo the series on you. anyway. I have a tremendous amount of fun doing this with Ricky His conversations really are just like the ones We ve had in private to date so he you wanna ride along with us, we can do it and absolutely mental dotcom. Ok,. Today I am speaking with David White Dave is a poet and he's been in the past before.
truly wonderful voice has been producing more more content for us. overt waking up his poems and short essays and extemporaneous Reflections are slow, accruing over there and its really wonderful, Here is the next instalment we discuss a few more of his short essays from his book constellations. Speaking with David, I feel like I'm speaking with my alter ego in some ways, his own different from maybe they're so many places where we converge anyway always great fun to speak with him. and now bring you David White I back with David White David, thanks for joy, again, Sir the pleasure. So we have many more things to talk about taking me there,
road map you have set out in your wonderful book, constellations, the audio of Witches SAM slowly. In its way into the waking up app and so we have to remind people. This is your book of essentially pros, poems or short essays is focused on civic words a few more of those words today, but you also a poem through. Do you read out- and this is this is a peace. I wrote in a deep kind of reverie last weekend Building on an original book of palms called pilgrim. Many of the Many of those palms took them. Edge of a journey to a place that we set for ourselves, and especially it The form of going to Santiago De Compostela which has such a fashionable pilgrimage right now Geller Heartfelt Insincere, one across northern Spain.
So this is called for the road to Santiago we all have the experience of the wonders experience actually of packing for a new trip. but there's something about going to a place of ultimate meaning for us which is represented by Santiago. Where I feel We already have what we need, so this this was written out of that experience, very sharp on for the road, This anti don't make New declarations about want to bring and what leave behind for the road to Santiago, don't make, new declarations about want to bring. I want to leave behind. Bring what you have bring, what you have. You are always going that way. Anyway, you are we're going now all along. I like, lot so on,
distinction between being a tourist a pilgrim always fascinate him on this. Office. if you're moving your body from one place to another here, going some foreign country, because you want to go, Or even some sacred place, because you want to go there, this distinction is really just in the mind of the traveller, but it it's a pretty profound one. Exactly and there were always. You know in the chronicles of Pilgrims are always those who were just out for the holiday on the left and just to get away to, especially in feudal times where your life was so so stand by your responsibilities. To those above you going often pilgrimage. Was an enormous parts of medieval life. In England and all across the continent, but
We're usually both you know where, where a pilgrim who gets gets caught up the delights of tourism along the way, and do you know where you were creatures of remembering and forgetting And you could say that the that tourism is a form of temporary, forgetting it begins in delight a bit like opening the internet in the morning. It begins in delight short lived. He said, and I am a creature forget him, because I have forgotten that it ever began and delight at this point. Yes, well, in part of the year part of the dynamic of the internet is human beings, are so desperate for news here. For a voice from the other side that somehow going to change their present, and that setting off into the internet on the morning is the same
as the same call that every human being feels towards all the great pilgrimage sites that have lived in an hour, from human cultures, whether in MECCA, your toe over a, our. If your analyses fan Ets, grace luncheon, something happened there. That was extraordinary, that you ha are going to touch and you are going to actually incarnates it in your own in your own life, so it's very. very ancient in everyday, dynamic and human life that over there is just. Lightly more important than here, where I'm seventeen different and I'm gonna, to make a journey out of here too there something extraordinary is going to happen along the way, and almost always something more extraordinary than I'm prepared for
I always say that no one really survives. The real conversation with something other than themselves, No one survives the real pilgrimage. If your sincere the new arrives, is not its net. the person who began in the first place. Yet I am that might be the crucial distinction. I think when you are pilgrimage Go to He changed by the trip always explicit right. It's not you that you're interested or yes, you just want I've heard some places. Great it's an inner process. The Adler focused on as a lovely little piece salmon, the irish tradition, by an irish monastic. You can imagine the pilgrimage from Ireland to Rome Indy. six or seven or eight century was quite perilous inquiry. Extraordinary, but it's just a few lines, but he says to go to Rome.
To go to the Rome Great the journey, little the gain If you do not take him with you, you will find him there? to go to Rome Great the journey little again. If you do not take him with you, you will not find in their costs, the image of Christ in the christian tradition, but whatever yarn the name you have far for the guy calling in your life, if you down stay within the gravitational well and invitations to pull off calling you will that is a mere tourists, but I think, there's a lot of self forgiveness necessary in every pilgrimage, just as there is in every life of forgiving yourself for all for all of your eye of the IRA, peregrinations, you could say
all the hours you wasted to them, which In the end, you find her and all the great story say you didn't waste minute along the way when you, when you finally arrived there. That's a point that I think is will return to in discussing some of these words. But I have a question about parliament, this line dont new declarations about to bring and want to leave behind what. What were you thinking in terms of declarations, this has to do with are the essential way that we hold the conversation of life. And on any journey, the way we hold that exchange between those we meet along the way and the landscapes remit along the way. The events we meet along the way both joyous and traumatic so there's a way, no matter your outwards, a consensus that you hold
the conversation of your existence not essay destiny, I'm looking at the way that are swag, which seems fated, actually can. be an understanding of the dep by which we hold dear conversation in so, I always think every human being lives out their destiny, no matter what they do, But you can live out your destiny through distance in exile Through never consummating your desires, or you can leave it out at a deeper level. and your life is a scam, is completely transform because of the depth of attention And intentionally that you bring to the conversation is still your essential nature. It's just that you are inhabiting it. In a full away, I mean you I'm in that
Exactly what you're here app is all about generous, is inviting people into these deepest states. Conversational states, I would say wild leaving the essential foundations of of the way your maid. we'll let some wasn't it Destiny and discuss destiny Destiny always has a possessor as in my destiny or your destiny or her destiny It gives a sense of something we cannot avoid. Does something waiting for us. It is a word of story. Book omnific dimension does, the is hardly used in everyday compensation. It is a word that invites belief or disbelief. We reject the ordering of events by some fated unseen force all we agree that they see
to be a greater hand than our own working at the edges of even the most average life, but speaking of destiny, not only Grant says a sense of our own possibilities that gives us an intimation of our flaws. We sense, along with Shakespeare, that what is unresolved are unspoken in a human character. My two overwhelm the better of our when we choose between these two poles of mythic triumph off face failure. We may miss the everyday conversational essence of destiny off you influenced by the very way we hold the conversation of life itself. Never mind any actions we might take on neglect to take two people, simply by looking at the future in radically different ways have completely deaf
print futures from one another awaiting them. Now matter their immediate course of action. Even the same course of action coming a different way of shaping the compensation will result in a different outcome. we are shaped by our shaping of the world and our shit to gain. In turn the way we face the world- alters the face- that we see in the world The way we face the world alters the face. that we see in that world. Strangely, Every person always lives out their destiny. No matter What they do, according to the way, shape the conversation, but that destiny be lived out on the level of consummation are of complete frustration,
for experiencing a homecoming or a disk. Sense of constant exile. or more likely. Some gradation along the spectrum that lies between it is said, our destiny, our life but the sense of satisfaction involved and the past ability of fulfilling its promise may depend more upon a? participation a willingness to has it ourselves in a very difficult world, a certain form of wild in reality with our gifts are familiar eighty with our own depth, our own. discovered, surprising breadth. always along activists and robust vulnerability equal to what any future may offer our destiny
is faded not only by great powers beyond our beckoning horizon, but by the very way we shape and hold the everyday conversations of a familiar life or death. The is faded not only by great powers beyond our beckoning horizon but by the very way we shape and hold the every day conversations of Familia familiar life. The idea of Destiny, as you point out, is further. The term we dont use very. Nor do we use fate. Very often these would unfashionable. idea. Although. In another moment, I think people believe or want to believe that
The things in our lives happen for a reason right. That has not there's not a lot of accident. it is interesting to consider this this question of whether- things in our lives could have been otherwise. In we live with the sense of the possible we were given a choice between various options in in every moment really and it always seems coherent, ask well what would like be like. Had I taken a different path, but. the least possible that What actually happens is the only thing that could have happened to me in any case the counterfactual, the no possibility is simply a thought The current us the travel down. What whatever path we ve actually taken, the hell. You think about this in terms of your own life. I do
I do feel it is possible to MR tied in your life hear their great lines by the great german port Royal K, unaware he's looking out at the garden in the autumn, as things are dying away, and he says He says no more things will happen and even the thing and at its about having MR tied in his life, and he says no more things in happen will happen and even the things that do happen will teach you. Even you, my god, and you are the one who draws them daily deeper into your depths, the sense. I do remember, for instance, coming to the end of years of hard work towards a particular goal, which was which was degree and Marine Zoology, which was no easy fate. For me, my eye was always an artist. I was always more artistically inclined more literally inclined, but one
was fourteen or fifteen. I saw this extraordinary figure it Jack Cousteau sailing across Alan television set and sighed saved, a notion to follow the life of the often about the good ship, calypso and so on? I put myself into the salt mines of biology chemistry in physics in and but ass, I was coming towards me. final examinations- and there was a time the terrible bust in the life sciences. There were no jobs, there are no jobs anywhere, die and I decided instead of facing up to extreme heartbreak and disappointment in not getting any jobs I wouldn't apply for any at all. So this turning away and away from. from your original joy, you know the original place you ve, set yourself you're turning away from Santiago, because the dish
point meant you into at you know it's just too strong and but I went to see to see my girlfriend at that time. I live on the northern side of snow and she left on the southern side. We didn't see each each other very much. She lived in a remote valley. On a farm at the top of a wonderful place, cocoon pendant, dies famous, rich witchcraft. Actually, Alister Crown he used to call up the devil in a tower the bottom and I'd always I'd hate shy crime be dropped off. I would Whistler's. I went past this ruin tower where where all of this necromancer used to take place and war. up to the farm. While I arrived this time, I just done all my examinations. I'd made this very serious young man's vow, not to apply for any jobs, because I didn't want to be existential disappointed. You know I didn't want to be sifting plankton station in in the hour
Hebrides either. I wanted that a region A blue water image when I, at the far end it a communal, The communal farms are lots of people live there. I knocked the door, and I could tell there was no one in just the echo doubts miles from anywhere. There was a star I'm coming enough, the Irish Sea behind me, I'm half way up the mountain ass. I let myself in as you do. When you're a student and I was like Goldilocks in the house of the three best who is number no I'm down, I said well I'll, get a fire going for them. When they come back. It was quite cold. You know, so I got a fire going and then I said: well, I make a cup of tea and if they turn up their lever cup of tea already met Janice. I made it to you. I can tell you David that in the film version of this you are prompt. cannibalized by which will I tell you something more extraordinary happen because I fell asleep in the chair and literally at midnight, there was a knock on the door,
said: wait a minute if someone's knocking the target means they dont lived here either as and where I tell you this farm is remote, is halfway up the mountain side, with the wind blowing and the rain blowing die. I opened the door. There is a slightly dishevelled figure. Having walked up the same track, the die walked up and and he's looking for someone else who lives in the house who also isn't there, and I said: well, I don't live here but come in sit by the files of a cup of tea and and we sat down and die and as you do with a complete stranger, I said I start asking him what he did in his life. He had this wonderful leather bag that was filled with papers. I noticed Yossi opened at put it down the side. You know It didn't quite fit with his attire. He looked like this wonderful pilgrim Yeah, but that here all of these papers, I said, what's here
sure work by the way he said? Oh, I I walk around doing audits of while of wild words enough in England and Wales. Here and I audits in the carrying capacity of these old woodlands and trees. I basically get the up unity of spending a lot of time in these wild places, counting everything in and and putting it together as to how health Did the system looked at him with my mouth open because it was a representation in a way of what I wanted in my life and I said. How did you work like that, and of course I was asking my why have you if an up on your own dream though I wouldn't have consciously known, I was asking myself that, but that's what I was doing. Why have you got off the road to your Santiago. And he said you really want to know. I said yes, he said
was a drug addict in North London, and I to kill myself and I Looked at him ass, it really said that, swear. I started I was in a flat with other drug addicts. We all mistrusted and hated each other, all stealing from another that they addiction was the greatest thing of all. One rainy day when I was in there by myself. I tried to throw myself out of the window, but- it was an old fashioned sash window, which I had to lift up. and I was so weak at the time that I got here half way out. with my hand in this flower box, that was in ruins outside and the sash window came down on the back of my shoulders and I was so weak I couldn't get out of there. I was staring into this flower box, but there was a two drip from there about falling into. One
On the floor box and this little stream going through tiny landscape. I've gotta had nowhere to go? No friends, I started working my hands in this ground to known Andre. Ray moulding at all, and I, must have been there. Forty five minutes are now before one of my flat maids came in and help me get out, but in time as my hands were working in that ground. I knew what I was supposed to do. And the hardest thing I ever did in the years that followed was walk. Past me, dealer literally. Sighed the block of flats where we lived and not on a friend's door and you take man, I got Taken in, I started doing less scraping just in a physical away laboring, I went to night school. I then I got a degree and then I got a masters Now you see me here so
I do believe. You know that he could have been wedged in that window and come to ground here, and he would have lived out his destiny from the distance of longing through the misery of, is addiction to things that represented where he wanted to go on a temporary basis through drug experiences. You know. Which can be remarkable in themselves in about sustaining them. Is another discipline? but also I do believe that I could have been sat in front of the fire I'm not asking that question. And my life. I would still lived the same life on the way to Santiago, but I would have lived it out through distance and longing- and be a parallel kind of admiration through reading, but perhaps not through consummation sides,
It's sad I mean that I suppose that's why You speak about someone. You talk about volition, Supposed to willpower that does as a way of coming into your body coming into your voice. Coming in to your speech, in which you have a completely different future. Then then, if you do, you do that. It strikes me as fundamentally serious attention mystery, never recedes. Andy again were always confronted with Simply what happens right? The thought that does occur to you. The memory that does arise the intention that actually becomes effective. That leads to action. It's like were true. I've in a car but were not looking through the windshield at the future, were looking in the rearview mirror
it's already passed and in some ways, we we have more control over the past then. future. At least we can change what the path asked means to us in a way that decisive in the future that we really don't know, what's going to happen next, you know you in this conversation we dont and where we have a plan with a road map. In a way, I know the words we want to talk about, but thus far, we ve talked about very little that has been planned. And so it all just unfolding Point when you look at your life, it it seems. Like thank you made this point and in one of your s eyes and in consolations I believe it could have been a poem, but Is there an image of you stand then, the back of a boat looking at the wake, rather than I'm looking for? Yes, yeah and you have a say were always in the presence of the week,
we're leaving yet in the world. but there is not to say that its entire They pass at EU level a line in you know this a destiny there. We are shaped by our shape of the world- yes, in acting on your environment, Youtube Angela, now creating an environment that is acting back on you. I am sometimes even in credit we powerful ways that determine everything here. We have all of these inherited qualities, but we can bring them to work together in a way which is which has occurred the vat catalytic too, new possibilities. I have one. They only palm That's I have wrote under commission were one commissioned by the Boeing Company for the triple seven aeroplane. I tried work but their top leadership and dad. They just launched the plain and they'd wonder. They had won an air space, trophy they Collyer trophy and they wanted a palm at this
but your dinner said to the executive, who had been sent to request. Step. I said poets dough do very well under these circumstances, accept that, but I'll have a go at it. And down, he and I suddenly had this really power physical sense of all of the time I spent on aeroplanes. my life of non stop travelling and the remarkable in biblical scenes you often see out of the window, looking down. You know over the Mississippi delta shining. like a national guitar as Paul silence. I do all of these remarkable scenes, and yet it's it's. Secretly remarkable how often people have the shutters down. and then we watching and they're watching something really unremarkable on that little screen. Confronted and death,
you. Have you hit upon one of my pet paves here that the fact it middle It's been a long time since I've been on airplane we're still under the the shadow of covered here. But the idea that people would prefer to spend five or ten hours in a dark tube. Watching their screens when under conditions of daylight. There is a better view of earth than they have ever seen in any other circumstance unfolding aside that window it SAM yeah. I find that very frustrated exactly so. I've often that that dynamic his actually because people can't really the stand, the invisible forces that are holding them in place so part The dynamic is not the whole dynamic, but part of the dynamic is I'm actually not here I've. Travelling at five hundred miles per hour- thirty six thousand feet above the ground with no visible means of support,
but every now and again as the aeroplane drops downs, especially if you're coming into land through lack of humidity and temperature you'll often see the solid white lowering suddenly suddenly form around the around the wing. How, when you Look at that solid white line. You realize that The forces that are holding you in place are actually a solid is concrete, are actually made up of a conversation. Between the shape of the wing and the velocity of the air around around the itself here, If you only have the wing you'll, just travel like a missile him and and hit Europe. Sorry, if you only have velocity here, you'll get hit your destination like a target, you only have the wing you'll stall without the velocity, but you put the two together
You can travel thousands of miles now. The interesting thing is that shape, has been there since the beginning of time as a potential for human beings, the shape of that wing. I forget the technical term for it, but all Space engineers now I check airfoil, I think yes, die but it was only a hundred and twenty years ago that those two qualities were brought together.
So this is a peace. I wrote in his about its about holding a conversation team levels if you'd like to continue listening to this conversation, you'll need to subscribe SAM Herriston work once you do, you'll get access to all full length, episode of making sense podcast, along with other subscriber only content, including bonus episodes in a maze and the conversations I've been having on the waking up at the makings, has podcast his ad free and relies entirely on listener support, and you can subscribe now at San Paris network
Transcript generated on 2021-05-16.