Monday, November 19, 2012
Experience and Essence
by Rob Roa
15 November 2012
Discussed Text: Levinas, "Bible and Philosophy," Ethics and Infinity
Experience is a vague word. Sometimes you don’t have experience if all you’ve ever known is “true blue Ateneo”. Others will say you lack experience even if you’ve been around the world contracting business affairs. For some, one game in the UAAP is enough to call experience, where for others, a player needs four years to be called experienced.
Obviously it is true when we call experience “the world of more meanings”. Meaning is essence, and therefore experience is part of the world of more essence. Does this mean the more we experience, the more we discover the essence of the world? Or do we discover the essence of ourselves?
In experience, we cannot separate ourselves from the world, as we are experiencing it, so therefore the essence of the world, is a part of our own essence. What we have experienced of the world, each moment of action that we can be consciously aware of, makes up our own essence. Our own meaning.
At one point in my life, I was a server (a more fancy term for waiter) at an acceptably high class restaurant back home before I came to the Ateneo. In serving food, I was a server. I was being a server. I was experiencing the world of serving and working (almost full time), and because I was immersed in that world, I was discovering my essence, as a person being the server.
Or even more reflective; I came to the Philippines thinking it would be a “good experience for me” and it has turned out to be just that. So as I experienced the Philippines, I was discovering the essence of the Philippines, but at the same time I was discovering the essence of being Filipino. Now does this mean before I arrived in Manila, I wasn’t a Filipino? Not necessarily, but when you can finally experience the land of your parents birth, there is more essence to be conscious of.
There is just more to experience. Or more to the world of more meanings. More to the world of more essence. Experience is a never-ending chase to know everything, but of course we must pick and choose what we want to be part of our essence. We can’t have it all, nor do we want it all, but there is always an experience that calls us and is ready to become a part of us.
One last question: when we experience more essence, are we simply discovering it in ourselves? Or allowing some essence of the world to become part of what we are being? Or maybe do we just become aware, or conscious of something else in the world, which changes our own essence, or meaning.