Five Things To Deepen Your Everyday Experience

Notes on the Sunday address by Dr Francis Macnab, December 28, 2014
John Abbate

We are greater than our despair.
The negative aspects of humanity
Are not the most real and authentic;
The most authentic thing about us
Is our capacity to create, to overcome,
To endure, to transform, to love,
And to be greater than our suffering.
We are best defined by the mystery
That we are still here, and can still rise
Upwards, still create better civilisations,
That we can face our raw realities,
And that we will survive
The greater despair
That the greater future might bring.

— Ben Okri , from “Mental Fight” (1999)

In this address, Dr Macnab explores five avenues to a deeper experience of everyday life.

In the New Testament, the Parable of the Sower tells of the importance of selecting the right place to plant a seed. It must have its own space to grow, with soil deep enough for it to take root, with sufficient nutrients and a supportive environment for growth. The sower, the seed, the soil, and eventually the reaper, all play a part in the magic of growth.

The following five points prepare the ground for a different kind of seed, one from which we might grow a deepening of our everyday experience.

  1. Having a reason to live is a fundamental human need. “We can be like a seed in a jar— just there,” said Dr Macnab. “But then we can discover, given the chance, a reason to live.”
  2. Being aware of the unfolding potential beneath the surface of human experience. The figures in a painting by Manet seem to have a story to them, a depth that takes us beneath the image frozen on the canvas and into the lives we imagine for the people depicted. The discoveries of Sigmund Freud point to the presence of powerful unconscious forces hidden in the human psyche. We now have an enhanced awareness and understanding of the complexity of human behaviour, and of the unfolding potential below the surface of human experience. Above all, Dr Macnab is hinting here at “the ongoing search for the parameters of growth.”
  3. Making contact with our undiscovered strengths. We occupy our minds with so many things, both important and trivial, that we cease the exploration of our own minds. This point is a reminder to keep up the exploration of our untapped strengths and to be open to new inspiration.
  4. Rise above the brambles and the bracken of our mind to expose a larger view. “We can use the new era/To clean our eyes/To see the world differently/To see ourselves more clearly.”
    — Ben Okri
  5. Remembering the energy of vitality – remembering the goal of all our searching, “to be enhanced by an exuberant vitality, opening us to the celebration of life and light.”

Recognise in the various superficial circumstances of our lives, sometimes we can pause, or seem to pause, and see that there is something deeper happening here, giving a different meaning, a different character to life. 

—Dr Francis Macnab

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