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The Nature of Reality

Café-Salon Philosophique #73

January 6, 2001

No. of Participants: 14

Topic for Discussion: "The Nature of Reality"

Samuel welcomed everyone back from the holidays. After introducing himself, and telling the group a little about Café-Salon, he asked participants to share why they chose to come to this gathering. Steve was invited by Deb. Deb has been coming for quite some time and enjoys the discussions. Rick was here visiting with his friend Tina from Basalt, Colorado.

Tina saw it in the paper and was drawn by the words, "meaning and purpose of life." She says she has known of Samuel for years, but couldn't remember from where. Chris was here by a personal invitation of Samuel. Rae comes frequently to the discussions.

Samuel often coins himself as a "provocateur extraordinaire." One of his goals for Café discussion, is to elevate the conversation above the normal, everyday way of thinking and talking. He provokes and tries to stimulate engaging people in a more deeper, meaningful conversation.

In Society, "there is physical presence, but we are not present." "We continue to function as automatons, and are unaware." We do lots of talking without daring to explore and think deeper.

Participants were then asked to share topics of interest. Rick and Gerhardt wanted to know, "why we are here?" Giovanni asked, "What makes a leader?"

Deb has been grappling with, "What is the nature of our reality?" Steve was thinking along the lines of, "What is the nature of curiosity?"

Everyone agreed that they wanted to discuss, "The Nature of Reality." Deb asked, Is there an objective reality, or are we a world of collective and different opinions. Why do we not have a common reality? And why do we think so differently?

Rick said, "we are like an artichoke or onion.We have to peel through the subjective layers to get to the objective core." The group then discussed the subjectiveness of the ego versus the objectiveness of the essence of a person.

Steve says that facing the objective can be "terrifying." "People don't want to deal with reality." Rick brought up the metaphor of the mirror, and described how we are looking at an "endless reflection." "We are watching the watcher, and the watcher is being watched." He thinks that after the 4th or 5th subjective layer, it is irrelevant. We then have to face our own consciousness.

Samuel asked, "Who contains the consciousness?" "How do we go beyond the ego, beyond curiosity?"

The group then talked about how curiosity is a good way to explore the self, but most people just stop there. They don't want to go beyond the surface. They dare to go no deeper.

Giovanni, a chemist, related the concept of peeling the artichoke or onion to something he has observed in his work.

In his world of chemicals, there is the good intention of developing something in the form of a pill that will benefit other people. He says, that "over the years, the original formula of the medication changes because you have to add this ingredient for this symptom, and add that ingredient for that symptom." Before you know it, the original product is no longer in its original form.

One of the things Giovanni likes to do in his work is get back to the original formula of the product and try to improve on that. So for him, he has to go through the subjective in order to get to the core of the real active ingredient in the formula.

One of the participants asked, but are we a thing? A process? A product? Are we just the outer appearance?

Samuel commented on the fact that the scientist will think, see and start from the outer (subjective) and have to work inward towards the core. The alchemist, or artist, begins from within and peels outward, radiating from the center.

Most people are not open to this challenge. They do not make the effort or take the time and are uncomfortable with silence and stillness.

Rick used the metaphor of the trap door. He thinks that a trap door represents an edge. When that happens, he wonders what he got him self into? Another metaphor he brought up, was experiencing the water tubes at Glenwood Springs. "It's like going into the invisible or unknown. You can't stop your self, you have to take the plunge."

Deb was still pondering over "why it is so difficult to define life?" Also, wanting to know what the essence of her self is versus the collective essence.

Samuel said the trap door concept represents a certain conditioned way of thinking. "We get trapped by our limited way of thinking," said Giovanni. We need to step back and look at what's happening from different angles. "Things can look alot different from above. But, if we choose not to look in a different way, we never get there."

The group then proceeded to "babble" on about trap doors, climbing stairs, quoting mythological characters and asking lots of questions on how to possibly get to the essence, the core of one's being. Also, everyone was wondering if it were even possible to start from center.

"One has to become the traveler of your own journey, the author of your own life," said Samuel "The journey is the destination. We have to be present at all levels. In this world 75% physical and 25% mental, and in that world 75% spiritual and 25% physical."

Analogies of the onions, artichokes, trap doors and stairs can lead our minds to a confusing place. We forget how to put it all together because we live life at such a hectic and chaotic pace.

Giovanni said it this way, "There once was a monkey in a room where there was a banana hanging from the middle of the ceiling. He wanted that banana in the worse way. Everything he tried, he was not able to reach the banana. He made various attempts at trying to stack box after box on top of each other, but they kept tumbling down to the ground. The monkey had now become so preoccupied with trying to stack the boxes, without success, that he forgot what he originally had started out to do - to get the banana. And so there he was, in a room full of scattered boxes.

Rae said, "we are really here to do nothing." She quoted an author who wrote a book about "doing nothing." Alot of participants didn't understand that concept.

What is doing nothing? Really, it is only when you have worked from the inside out, and know how to navigate your self in the world, do you really know how to do nothing. "To do nothing after knowing is wisdom," said Samuel. "We have to go through a process of learning."

Gerhardt says "doing nothing is a cop out." "One has to be actively involved in order to enjoy the journey."

Samuel asked, "why are we afraid of someone who knows?"

We then "bounced back" to discussing the "traps of language.""Words, symbols, forms are very limiting," said Samuel. We become trapped in languages by trying to define everything. Giovanni said that, "we have borrowed from cultural ways of thinking." "Whatever the tradition is, the trend or comfort zone, is where we function from in our way of thinking and doing."

Are we puppets? Why do we not allow ourselves to speak, think and do for our selves? Why do we tend to follow the ways of the world, the trends? What is your reality? Is there really a common reality in this world?

We left with still unanswered questions and continued the conversation downstairs in the Café.

Our next Café discussion will be held January 20, 2001 at the Boulder Bookstore located at 1107 Pearl St. in Boulder, CO. Start time is 6:30 p.m. Bring a new and interesting topic!

Reported by Alessandra

"Samuel brings awareness to the soul of people and gives the artists who work under his direction the need, dedication, and love for the world of silence and the beautiful art of movement."


- Marcel Marceau, BIP 1961

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LCDS is an independent school for self-discovery through the human Arts.  The school offers seminars and workshops teaching the concepts of Theater, Mime, and Movement.