Complete stance

Wonder

Peak view

Wondrous perceptual field at Schiehallion peak, courtesy greenzowie

Our aim here is to understand wonder as a texture of the complete stance.

In wonder, you perceive nebulosity and pattern simultaneously, and impose neither meaningfulness or meaninglessness. (That’s what “the complete stance” means.) We’ll look at what wonder is, what it implies, and what its value may be. And we’ll discuss how to cultivate wonder as a method for adopting, maintaining, and stabilizing the complete stance; and as a prerequisite for other textures such as curiosity, play, and creation.

Peak experiences

Hillwalkers at the peak of Schiehallion

Schiehallion peak image courtesy William Starkey

One way to understand the complete stance is through similarities and differences from peak experiences. Religious experiences such as “enlightenment” or being “born again” are the prototypes. Secular peak experiences may also be induced by mountains or oceans, music or art, sex or drugs.

Words used to describe peak experiences overlap with ones I use to describe textures of the complete stance. Some are wonder, richness, reverence, wholeness, aliveness, simplicity, playfulness, effortlessness, spontaneity, ecstasy, creativity—and completion itself!1 The feelings of peak experiences overlap extensively with the complete stance—but the two are not at all the same.

The appeal of complete stances

Child sitting on the trig point on the Schiehallion peak

Sitting on top of the world. Specifically, the surveyors’ marker at the peak of Schiehallion.
Image courtesy Russel Wills

Complete stances resolve problems of meaningness: nihilistic depression, harms of blind faith, the anguish of ethical dilemmas, bafflement about what you should do with your life…

Misunderstanding meaningness makes many miserable. Overall, the book Meaningness aims to give you tools to shift from confused stances that cause unnecessary suffering into complete stances. Those are accurate understandings that engender enjoyment of the ways meaningness works in everyday life.

This chapter is the heart of the book: it explains how to find your way to complete stances, what you may find there, and why they might be attractive enough to commit to them. The chapter is somewhat abstract, so the following ones explain how to apply this understanding in specific sorts of situations.

Textures of completion

The complete stance, the way of being that recognizes the inseparability of nebulosity and pattern, shows up in characteristic textures. For example: wonder, play, and creation.

These textures may appear spontaneously as qualities of thought, feeling, and interaction, at times you adopt the complete stance. They spring naturally from the dynamic interweaving of nebulosity and pattern.

The previous book page, “Finding the complete stance,” may have seemed unhelpfully abstract. This section on the textures describes what the stance is like, so you can recognize it as it arises.

You can also deliberately enter into the textures, as methods. You can nudge yourself into a texture, as a way of adopting the complete stance in the moment. And you can practice the textures as methods for stabilizing it longer-term. As such, they are parallel to the eternalist ploys and the nihilist evasions. These are all tricks for stabilizing the corresponding stances.

Creation

This page is unfinished. It may be a mere placeholder in the book outline. Or, the text below (if any) may be a summary, or a discussion of what the page will say, or a partial or rough draft.

Play

This page is unfinished. It may be a mere placeholder in the book outline. Or, the text below (if any) may be a summary, or a discussion of what the page will say, or a partial or rough draft.

Humor

This page is unfinished. It may be a mere placeholder in the book outline. Or, the text below (if any) may be a summary, or a discussion of what the page will say, or a partial or rough draft.

Pages

Navigation

General explanation: Meaningness is a hypertext book. Start with an appetizer, or the table of contents. Its “metablog” includes additional essays, not part the book.

Subscribe to new content by email. Click on terms with dotted underlining to read a definition. The book is a work in progress; pages marked ⚒︎ are under construction.