Training the 3rd Eye: Finding the Little Joys in Life

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One of the great concerns of living a contemporary life, is our ability to spend the majority of our time racing from one thing to the next. We applaud the one who is always busy. We praise the one who checks off every box on their to-do list. 

All of our technology, with it’s capacity to accomplish many things throughout the day, often leaves us spinning our wheels. As DJs and musicians, we scour the internet for that perfect track to round out our mix. We think we need this plugin, or that synthesizer, and then we’ll be able to make the music we desire to spring forth from our soul. We should absolutely be spending our time finishing that track we’ve been putting off, or starting that mix we meant to finish on Sunday. But, now it’s Wednesday, and we've done neither of those things. 

When we are unable to accomplish our intentions, our spirit aches. Mindless consumption does nothing for us in accomplishing what satisfies our souls. When we are unable to accomplish the dreams of our lives, our souls cannot heal.

How to heal that aching spirit is what Hermann Hesse (July 2, 1877–August 9, 1962) addresses in a spectacular 1905 essay titled “On Little Joys,” found in My Belief: Essays on Life and Art.

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Great masses of people these days live out their lives in a dull and loveless stupor. Sensitive persons find our inartistic manner of existence oppressive and painful, and they withdraw from sight… I believe what we lack is joy. The ardor that a heightened awareness imparts to life, the conception of life as a happy thing, as a festival… But the high value put upon every minute of time, the idea of hurry-hurry as the most important objective of living, is unquestionably the most dangerous enemy of joy.

“Our intentions are the basic infrastructure of our lives, out of which all of our inventions and actions arise. Any real relief from our self-inflicted maladies, therefore, must come not from combatting the symptoms but from inquiring into and rewiring the causes that have tilted the human spirit toward those pathologies.” 

— Maria Popova

I am listening to/watching one mix right now; Techno: Reinier Zonneveld Boiler Room Berlin Live Set - May 2017. The temptation to divert my attention, open Soundcloud, and skim over 5 other mixes I found yesterday is high. 

The nagging urge to go find new music to buy on Beatport, and get lost for an hour in finding a few new tracks to add to a mix; I know, will turn into me filling my cart with not just $10 worth of music, but over $100 - which I don’t need to be spending right now.

To open Facebook, and scroll mindlessly looking for something interesting, will only be met with some sensational nonsense, that will divert my attention from finishing this article. 

Hesse laments how modern life’s “aggressive haste” — and what a perfect phrase that is — has “done away with what meager leisure we had.” He writes:

Our ways of enjoying ourselves are hardly less irritating and nerve-racking than the pressure of our work. “As much as possible, as fast as possible” is the motto. And so there is more and more entertainment and less and less joy… This morbid pursuit of enjoyment [is] spurred on by constant dissatisfaction and yet perpetually satiated.

I love this song he produced:

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Invocation - Feat Deva Premal (Original Mix) - Reinier Zonneveld — Centaur

purchase on Beatport

Hesse considers what moderation looks like in the face of seemingly unlimited possibilities for what to do with one’s time, and although the options available have changed in the hundred-some years since, the principle still holds with a firm grip:

In certain circles [moderation] requires courage to miss a première. In wider circles it takes courage not to have read a new publication several weeks after its appearance. In the widest circles of all, one is an object of ridicule if one has not read the daily paper. But I know people who feel no regret at exercising this courage.
Let not the man* who subscribes to a weekly theater series feel that he is losing something if he makes use of it only every other week. I guarantee: he will gain.

Let anyone who is accustomed to looking at a great many pictures in an exhibition try just once, if he is still capable of it, spending an hour or more in front of a single masterpiece and content himself with that for the day. He will be the gainer by it.

Let the omnivorous reader try the same sort of thing. Sometimes he will be annoyed at not being able to join in conversation about some publication; occasionally he will cause smiles. But soon he will know better and do the smiling himself. And let any man who cannot bring himself to use any other kind of restraint try to make a habit of going to bed at ten o’clock at least once a week. He will be amazed at how richly this small sacrifice of time and pleasure will be rewarded.

Hesse offers his prescription for breaking this trance of busyness and inattention:

Just try it once — a tree, or at least a considerable section of sky, is to be seen anywhere. It does not even have to be blue sky; in some way or another the light of the sun always makes itself felt. Accustom yourself every morning to look for a moment at the sky and suddenly you will be aware of the air around you, the scent of morning freshness that is bestowed on you between sleep and labor. You will find every day that the gable of every house has its own particular look, its own special lighting. Pay it some heed if you will have for the rest of the day a remnant of satisfaction and a touch of coexistence with nature. Gradually and without effort the eye trains itself to transmit many small delights, to contemplate nature and the city streets, to appreciate the inexhaustible fun of daily life. From there on to the fully trained artistic eye is the smaller half of the journey; the principal thing is the beginning, the opening of the eyes.
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To tell the truth, I was interrupted in finishing this article, because from 44:00min on till the end of Reinier Zonnenveld’s Boiler Room set, I got up from my computer and starting dancing. Losing myself in his master touch behind the decks. 

It is this tiny joy I found, in listening to one of my favorite tracks being performed live, by an artist I admire — that has brought an incredible amount of joy to my day. It is what makes my life incredible, my ability to get lost in the feeling and emotions of music.

While, it is not immediately apparent to most, that getting lost in music is a way to train the 3rd eye, I would ask you to kindly reconsider that notion. Music is a huge part of training the 3rd eye, because we get lost in something that is greater than ourselves. Something that brings people together from all walks of life, nationalities, creeds, religions, sexual orientations and beliefs. 

Bringing us all together - into contact and connection - with the true nature of our being; love and joy. 

via: Brainpickings & Boiler Room