This article is a 3-part series on “Achieving Life Balance”, and has been adapted from Etsko Schuitema’s book, Intent.
The Two Moments of Unconditionality
In the article “Achieving Life Balance – Step 1” published yesterday, we discussed that the process of maturation of the self in the process whereby the intention transmutes from the focus on taking to a focus on giving. This process of moving from the one to the other is clearly not instantaneous. It is a whole human life that separates birth; the point of the most unconditional expectation, from death; the point of most unconditional surrender.
At birth, a human is all about expectation. Because it is at birth that the sum total of an infant’s potential lies before it. It has not had anything yet. It has not achieved anything yet. From this point of view, an infant is pure expectation with nothing yet realized. It is still going to get it all. It really does not matter if ‘it all’ is another eighty days of metabolic misery or eighty years of ease. An infant is here to get it all from the other. On day one, the infant is here to get in the fullest, most absolute and unconditional sense.
It is equally true that at the moment of death, one loses everything unconditionally. At this point we have received all that we would have been destined to receive. There is nothing left to get. In fact, there is all to lose – to give. When we die, we give it all, unconditionally.
Our lives are therefore pinned between these two unconditional moments. We arrive getting it all and we leave giving it all. The process of maturation which transmutes our lives involves a movement from the one extreme of unconditional taking to the other extreme of unconditional giving.
A counter argument to this could suggest that at the point of death the subject does not give it all, rather all is taken away. On one level this is of course true. If the will of the person dying is not synchronized with the cataclysmic event of his death, it would certainly be true. After all, what is the difference between an experience of something being taken from one to experience to giving something? This difference has to lie in the intention of the person going through the experience.
Consider a situation where money went to another person from your hand. Whether the money is stolen, or whether you have gifted it to someone willingly, in both cases, the money has left your possession. The only difference in both the cases is that of intent. In the case of theft, the money is taken from you because you had not intended to give it. In case of the gift, you intend to give the other person the money. The difference between taking and giving lies in your INTENT.
If the loss of the money is unavoidable, the person who gave the money has an affirming and successful experience. The person who has it taken from has conversely experienced a negation.
Death must therefore have two potentials. The one unbridled horror that must ensue when the acquiring self sees all its aspirations nullified in an instant. Under these conditions, death is the great rape, the most extreme experience of being taken from. It is an absolute and annihilating negation. On the other hand, if the subject is able to hand it all over unconditionally, death becomes the most elevated and ecstatic statement of giving possible, precisely because it is unconditional.
Since our lives inevitably aim us towards the direction of death, it suggests that both appropriateness and inner health must be associated with cultivating the capacity to willingly and deliberately GIVE unconditionally.