Retraining Our Sensibilities
2021 has been a quite disastrous and traumatic year for many, hasn’t it? If the events of 2021 haveb’t yet taught us that we need to retrain our sensibilities, I don’t know what will — perhaps not even Jean Gebser’s “global catastrophe”.
I was reflecting on this after listening to Iain McGilchrist read from the Introduction to his new book (in two volumes) entitled The Matter With Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions, and the Unmaking of the World. There are two parts to the reading, both well worth the listening.
McGilchrist is certainly one who is attempting to retrain our sensibilities, even if only as a matter of survival. If you have read Jean Gebser’s great book The Ever-Present Origin with the appropriate degree of attention, you probably realised that Gebser, too, has attempted in his writings to retrain our sensibilities, or reconsidering what usually passes by the phrase “common sense”.
Learning, in other words. But I like to use the phrase “retraining our sensibilities” — the need to let go of old sensibilities (sometimes called “belief systems”) that not only no longer produce favourable results, but begin to appear like a mass psychosis — the problem of “21st Century Schizoid Man” who no longer functions effectively in social or physical reality. McGilchrist also addresses that problem in some of his talks.
Retraining the sensibilities is a bit like losing your mind (or your “identity”) in a good way — by dropping formulaic and cliched ways of seeing and hearing things (called our “expectations”) and simply paying attention. This is sometimes called “Silent Mind” or just “mindfulness”. It’s just a matter of attention.
(For those unfamiliar with Jean Gebser, the introductory chapter to The Ever-Present Origin entitled “Fundamental Considerations” is available online at http://www.jean-gebser-gesellschaft.ch/Dokumente/Considerations.pdf . There is also his final statement on The Integral Consciousness (1973) that I have reproduced earlier in The Chrysalis).
So I hope you find something useful in McGilchrist’s reading (and various talks) that will also help you retrain your sensibilities.