Following feeling, relying on liking or wanting, we are not free. The freedom to do as we like is not freedom of choice because we are ruled by the powerful property of feeling; we cannot choose apart from liking and disliking. Likes and dislikes may be articulated in the form of sophisticated-sounding opinions, but the decision is made for us by feeling. The Western world places a high value on personal feelings and opinions: Each individual has a right to an opinion. But rarely do we question how we have arrived at our opinion. Upon examination, we may discover that opinions tend to stem from convenience, familiarity and selfishness–what feels good or what is pleasing or comfortable to us. Upon this basis, we act and receive the consequences of our action. Even if we compile a large number of such opinions, there is no guarantee that we will develop a wise perspective as a ground for action. Often this process only creates a mass of confusion, for opinions of one individual tend to conflict with the opinions of another. If there appears to be agreement, we tend to assume this agreement will remain stable. But agreement only means that the needs of the individuals involved are temporarily similar and when those needs shift, agreement will evaporate. To make certain decisions, we rely on logic or scientific findings, which are supposedly free from personal opinion but are still weighted with the opinions of a particular culture. This style of knowing is founded on particular distinctions and ignores other possibilities. The evidence is clear that the scope of modern scientific knowledge is limited, for this knowledge is not yet able to predict and control the side-effects resulting from its own use. Its solutions in turn create more problems, reinforcing the circular patterns of samsara. Only understanding that penetrates to the root causes of problems can break this circularity. Until we explore the depths of consciousness, we cannot resolve the fundamental questions that face human beings.
Dharma Publishing
I've thought about that often since. I mean, about the word nice. Perhaps I mean good. Of course they mean nothing, when you start to think about them. A good man, one says; a good woman; a nice man, a nice woman. Only in talk of course, these are not words you'd use in a novel. I'd be careful not to use them.Yet of that group, I will say simply, without further analysis, that George was a good person and that Willi was not. That Maryrose and Jimmy and Ted and Johnnie the pianist were good people and that Paul and Stanley Lett were not. And furthermore, I'd bet that ten people picked at random off the street to meet them, or invited to sit in that party under the eucalyptus trees that night, would instantly agree with this classification-would, if I used the word good, simply like that, know what I meant.And thinking about this, which I have done so much, I discover that I come around, by a back door, to another of the things that obsess me. I mean, of course, this question of 'personality.' Heaven knows we are never allowed to forget that the 'personality' doesn't exist any more. It's the theme of half the novels written, the theme of the sociologists and all the other -ologists. We're told so often that human personality has disintegrated into nothing under pressure of all our knowledge that I've even been believing it. Yet when I look back to that group under the trees and re-create them in my memory,suddenly I know it's nonsense. Suppose I were to meet Maryrose now, all these years later,she'd make some gesture, or turn her eyes in such a way and there she'd be, Maryrose and indestructible. Or suppose she 'broke down,' or became mad. She would break down into her components and the gesture, the movement of the eyes would remain, even though some connection had gone. And so all this talk, this antihumanist bullying, about the evaporation of the personality becomes meaningless for me at that point when I manufacture enough emotional energy inside myself to create in memory some human being I've known. I sit down and remember the smell of the dust and the moonlight and see Ted handing a glass of wine to George and George's over-grateful response to the gesture. Or I see, as in a slow-motion film, Maryrose turn her head, with her terrifyingly patient smile... I've written the word film. Yes. The moments I remember all have the absolute assurance of a smile, a look, a gesture, in a painting or a film. Am I saying then that the certainty I am clinging to belongs to the visual arts and not to the novel, not to the novel at all, which has been claimed by the disintegration and the collapse? What business has a novelist to cling to the memory of a smile or a look, knowing I so well the complexities behind them? Yet if I did not, I'd never be able to set a word down on paper; just as I used to keep myself from going crazy in this cold northern city by deliberately making myself remember the quality of hot sunlight on my skin.And so I'll write again that George was a good man.
Doris Lessing