Your experience of the world is arbitrary, yet path dependent

19 January 2023
A picture of a person wearing sunglasses in front of a graffity wall to show the empowerment of a life well-lived.
By Ben Schoelzel
As the soul and the brain of Samaṇa, Ben focuses on changing his being in the world via a 2-hour daily meditation practice, authentic relating and interpersonal meditation, as well as in an ongoing IFS-practice. He started writing poems in his teenage year and rediscovered his joy for writing with the newsletter and articles for Samaṇa.

The statement that "your experience of the world is arbitrary, yet path dependent" has a powerful realization coming with it, so let's dissect it.

Arbitrary: Where you currently are and what you are currently experiencing is entirely random - you could swap positions with any other person on this planet and you'd simply have their experience, circumstances, and life.

Path dependent: yet, where you currently are, is path dependent. Think back to all the big and small decisions and things happening (and not happening!) that led you to where you are right now, what you experience and how you feel.

If both of these statements hold true, you can work on eradicating the causes of what's bothering you right now. Before we go there, why would you do that though?
A picture of lavender with written text about the 4 facets of inner work of Samana

Waking up

Today I'll introduce "waking up" to you and the primary growth facility we use for it, so let's first figure out why it's worthwhile to get rid of what's bothering you.
A picture of lavender with written text about modalities of Samana

The "IFs" all of us cling to

Most of us live our lives with capital letter IFs:

  • "IF I get that promotion, I will be happy"
  • "IF I find a partner, I will stop being lonely"
  • "IF I travel to that place, I will have a wonderful time"
  • "IF ..."

This leads to us constantly chasing after something out there in a never-ending quest to attain that something - in short, to have a specific experience we long for. Looking at your life, you can clearly see that pattern unfolding over and over again.

Waking up offers an alternative to this: rather than saying "keep chasing after your dreams", it says "let go of them and be free (of suffering)". Nothing in the external world is permanent: holding onto anything that's changing, will inevitably result in suffering, such as, losing a job, not getting a promotion, losing a loved one, being stuck in a place, not being stuck in a place, etc..

Eradicating the "causes of what's bothering you" equals "freedom from suffering" which equals "happiness". This is something that persistent observation, e.g., via contemplative practice such as meditation, hammers home.

Waking up, e.g,. meditation, allows one to look at their experience right now and to let go of any attachment to it. You'll begin to realize that your experience is arbitrary (if the circumstances would have been different, your life right now would be different and so the experience you'd be having), yet path dependent (all the elements that came into play resulted in you having the experience you have right now). That results in you taking it less and less personal. Things simply are, they appear and disappear. You become less and less attached to what's happening to you and instead begin to enjoy the fleeting nature of everything more.
A picture with a evening sky with written text about why Samana

Learning meditation

The Samana program uses Meditation as its primary growth modality for "waking up".

The practice of meditation can be classified into two broad categories:

  • concentration practice, such as focusing on one's breath and returning to it when distracted with increasingly deeper concentration states
  • insight practice, such as working with questions or a focusing on a certain flavor of experience, e.g., the aforementioned impermanence

In order to do decent insight practice, one needs to have a certain baseline level of concentration, so the Samana Program, initially focuses on concentration meditation.

As one faces themselves when meditating, it can be one of the most difficult and rewarding activities one can engage in! Ultimately, one embarks on a path to realize what's worthwhile doing for themselves: in order to know what's worthwhile doing, one needs to sit still and observe.
A picture of hands of a monk laying in their lap
The Samaṇa program helps acquiring emotional competence, teaches ways to relate more harmoniously to self & others, assists in expanding one's awareness, and brings it all together via embodying responsibility. You can find out more on our website.

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The information in this article is provided as an information resource only and is not to be used or relied on for any diagnostic or treatment purposes. Please consult a professional for guidance about a specific condition.