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Individuality vs Collective Consciousnes

Café-Salon Philosophique #47

November 6, 1999

No. of Participants: 10

Evening's Discussion: "Individuality versus Collective Consciousness"

Samuel began the group discussion by asking participants to share topics of interest. Some topic suggestions were, "What influence do we have as individuals in the world?" "Why can't I live the life that I want?" "Working through Sound," "Why is there no free time?" "Why do we stay enslaved to Society?" "How does one obtain happiness?"

"It depends upon the choices one makes in life," said Nora. Life presents mirrors for reflection, depending upon what one needs to see or wants to see. When one can see the sameness or alikeness from the reflection of the other, then something is being learned. This is the beginning work towards peace and understanding within the self.

Samuel reminded us that we are all a drop in the ocean, but yet, we fail to explore the ocean. His "Fish Story" is a good illustration of that.

"Once there was a fish who lived in the great ocean, and because the water was transparent, and always conveniently out of the way of his nose when he moved along, he didn't know he was in the ocean."

Well, one day the fish did a very dangerous thing for a fish. He began to think: "Surely I am a most remarkable being, since I can move around like this in the middle of empty space."

Then, the fish became confused because of thinking about moving and swimming, and he suddenly had an anxiety paroxysm, and thought that he had forgotten how. At that moment, he looked down and saw the yawning chasm of the ocean depths, and he was terrified that he would drop.

Then he thought: "If I could catch hold of my tail in my mouth, I could hold my self up." And so he curled himself up and snapped at his tail. Unfortunately, his spine wasn't quite supple enough, so he missed. As he went on trying to catch hold of his tail, the yawning black abyss below became ever more terrible, and he was brought to the edge of a total nervous breakdown.

The fish was about to give up, when the ocean, which had been watching with mixed feelings of pity and amusement, said, "What are you doing?" "Oh," said the fish, "I'm terrified of falling into the deep dark abyss, and I'm trying to catch hold of my tail in my mouth to hold myself up."

So the ocean said, "Well, you've been trying that for a long time now, and you still haven't fallen down. How come?" "Oh, of course, I haven't fallen down yet," said the fish, "Because, because - I'm swimming!"

"Well," came the reply, "I am the Great Ocean, in which you live and move and are able to be a fish, and I have given all of myself to you in which to swim, and I support you all the time you swim."

But here you are, instead of exploring the length, breadth, depth, and height of my expanse, are wasting your time pursuing your own end." From then on, the fish put his own end behind him (where it belonged) and set out to explore the Great Ocean."

By Samuel Avital (Le Centre du Silence Work Book, Pg. 85)

When we are little, we are taught to seek approval for things that we do. Cultures, societal norms, the work ethic teaches us to conform to "the group" or to "the organization's" way of thinking. We forget how to be alone, enjoy solitude, or "don't have the time" to learn and discover new things about our inner self.

The next question was, "What makes us resist being individuals while at the same time being part of the whole?" Nora says, "We use our minds to categorize people. We learn to be apart from each other and grow up with prejudices towards our fellow man." John says, "The world is full of distractions which keeps us from learning about our selves, others and being one with everything." He calls the outside distractions, "escapes," referring to TV, books, the media, radio, drugs, and alcohol just to name a few. The mass, "sheep conscious" society accepts and willingly participates in these distractions.

Samuel then asked, "Why is there difficulty in accepting others totally for who they are?" John says, "Because most of us function from our own "little worlds" of needs and wants rather than looking at the bigger picture." Our life centers around jobs, school, religion, etc., instead of learning about our self so that we can relate to others in a new way.

The next question was, "What is aloneness?" Solitude is totally being alone with the self and functioning from self reliance. "The Cosmic Accordian" or "Universal Principle" are ways we can think about and experience "being alone together." Nora believes "we have lost the art of socializing." She has observed how when people go out to social events, "they sit apart," never really socially interacting. "We just "sit there" for the purpose of supposedly being entertained."

Samuel commented on the fact that, one of the reasons he formed Café-Salon Philosophique was to provide the time and space so that people could gather together for engaging in an active and lively discussion in a social setting.

"Merely Existing" reigns over learning about the "Essence of One's Self," says Samuel. Not many of us are working towards discovering who we are as humans. We are "too busy" striving for money, power, material gain. We carry conflicts. We want to be happy, but yet we don't take the necessary steps towards doing it. We say one thing and then do something else. We fail to change our way of thinking.

The group then briefly discussed the elements of existentialism and how it applies in life today. The philosophy of existentialism is based on "emphasizing the uniqueness and isolating individual experiences to what supposedly is seen as an indifferent universe." Human existence is regarded as "unexplainable" and existentialists stress freedom of choice, with one being "responsible for the consequences of one's own acts."

In other words, a person has personal freedom to choose to live their life any way they want, but this does not affect the "Laws of Nature" or the "Ways of the Universe."

Samuel then asked the group to define, "Success in Your Life." Success for Frank is, "feeling alive and sharing with other people." John feels successful when "he is happy." "When my problems are solved, that is success," said Damien. Sam is successful when he "sets goals and accomplishes the goals." Heather is successful when she "learns, grows and changes with life, and does not drudge through it." Prashant likes to have a "positive impact on people by creating change that will make a real difference." David is successful when he is "at one" with all. He likes to reach out and touch people creatively through his art work. Allie feels successful when she "understands her self, and effectively communicates with others."

Our next Café gathering will be held November 20, 1999 at the Boulder Bookstore, 1107 Pearl St., Boulder, CO 80302. Start time is 6:30 p.m. Invite your friends! Come with an interesting topic in mind.

"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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About LCDS

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.