Feeling as the inward aspect of life
The personal is something inherent in the nature of order and in the universe — not a late comer to blind matter as scientists have thought, but rather, since the origins of time, a vital substrate underlying matter.
I believe the personal feeling I have touched on in this chapter, which is directly connected to order and life, is a mobilization in which my vulnerable inner self becomes connected to the world. It increases my feeling of connection and participation in all things. It is feeling, not emotion. It does not — directly — have to do with happiness, or sadness, or anger.
Rather, it is the feeling of being part of the ocean, part of the sky, part of the asphalt on the road.
It is personal, even when it occurs in nature, because somehow it awakens “person-stuff”; we may even sense that it is made of person-stuff, and that it connects with the person-stuff in us. To understand order, we must understand that it is profoundly like this. Life is the person-stuff. Recognizing this life in things is equivalent to saying, “The universe is made of person-stuff. I always thought it was made of machine-stuff, but now I see that it is not.”
Once we recognize that feeling and life are somehow one and the same thing, and that the structure we call wholeness is connected with a ground where matter becomes personal, then we begin to see the depth of the revolution in thought to which the idea of wholeness leads. The external phenomenon we call wholeness or life in the world and the internal experience of personal feeling and wholeness within ourselves are connected. They are, at some level, one and the same thing.
Now we begin to see that the idea of a center is something which unites objective life — as a quality which exists in space — and the personal feeling that can occur in us. When the center occurs, is intensified, we shall see […] that the space there begins to resemble the human self, begins to be connected to the personal. A structure which has life becomes more and more personal as it reaches more and more wholeness, because it becomes more and more deeply imbued with self, with the feeling of which my experience of self is made. Thus the very odd thing which happens is that space itself becomes more deeply functional — more well organized — as it begins to resemble more and more deeply the human person.
The ultimate criterion for whether something works in nature, just as in buildings, therefore also depends on the extent to which it resembles the healthy human self. This extraordinary conclusion will give us a clear and succinct summary of the vast gulf between Cartesian mechanics and the view of the universe which I put firmware in this book. It also points to the inspiring depths which may exist in the making of a building, and shows us why art is not a trivial, interesting practice — but something utterly fundamental to our human existence, and to the nature of things as they are.
The connection between order and feeling is fundamental. In some fashion, profound order makes us feel our own existence: it causes deep feeling in us when we come in contact with it. It has deep feeling within itself. Wholeness, even though it is an external phenomenon, is inseparable from our own reality which is presumably internal. Our understanding of. Holding and the way we make buildings within the understanding of this phenomenon have the capacity to close the gap between objective and subjective, and will allow us to live and work in a world where what is outside ourselves and what is inside ourselves are properly connected.
Wholeness and feeling are two sides of a single reality. Within the modern era, we have become used to the idea that feeling is something we experience subjectively — while life, if it exists, is something that exists objectively out there in the world of mechanics. In such a mental framework, the idea that feeling and wholeness are two sides of a single thing can hardly even be understood.
But as we study the phenomenon of wholeness, as I’m trying to do, it teaches us to change our understanding, and to reach a reorganization of our ideas about the world in which this equivalence of living structure and deep personal feeling not only makes sense but is also the most fundamental fact of our existence.
When we experience something which has deep wholeness, it increases our own wholesomeness. The deeper the wholeness or life which we meet in the world, the more deeply it affects our own personal feeling. Centers which have life increase our own life because we ourselves are centers too. We feel more wholesome in the presence of things which have wholesomeness in them, because we, like other centers, are intensified by them.
#book/The Nature of Order/1 The Phenomenon of Life/7 The personal nature of order#