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The ‘human condition’ is a contractive recoil from relationality – from the deep reality of our inner connectedness with every thing and every being around us. We recoil because were we to feel this inner connectedness it would render our identity - our very sense of self - entirely fluid. We would feel and know ourselves as part of a sea of souls in which identity flows in currents - mixing and merging aspects of self and other without any loss of spiritual individuality. In the recoil, we reactively contract ourselves into a fixed identity that we call ‘I’. This contracted self feels contained in its own skin, its consciousness confined in its own skull. It experiences relationality only through tense emotional reactivity on the one hand, or the ice-cold representation of relationships in intellectual and scientific concepts on the other. The contracted self is like a fish that experiences itself as separate and apart from the sea in which it dwells and all the other life forms within it. Such a fish would soon die and become a mere frozen fossil of itself. The expanded self on the other hand, is like a fish that feels itself to be a part of the sea in which it dwells. It does not feel itself as a body bounded by its own skin. Rather through that very skin it feels the entire sea around it as its own larger body – one through which it can directly feel all the other fishes and life forms within it. Our spiritual individuality or ‘inner self’ on the other hand, is like the fish that knows its ‘self’ as but one living self-expression of the sea itself – not a being living ‘in’ the sea but a being lived by the sea. As the soul-sea that lives it, it knows itself not just as one self but as many - as each and all of the life-forms that it gives rise to from itself. When the fluid water of feeling freezes, the result is the petrified human condition portrayed by Friedrich as the Sea of Ice and Wreck of the Hope. For then human beings no longer know themselves as every body and every being they can feel - let alone as that larger soul-sea that is their innermost self and source. All they know is the wreck that is the contracted self.


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