These are my reflections, the contours of a mystery that seems, at first, like just words
An old man was walking down the road outside his village at sunset. After a time he passed someone who greeted him warmly. “Hello old timer, how are you today?” The old man paused and began “Well…” But before he got any further the other had continued on. The old man passed four more people, each who greeted him and continued on in this way before he could answer their question. When he came upon the fifth and final person who likewise greeted him, the old man quickly replied “I am fine thanks, and you?”.
“I’m lonely.” the other said, and continued on as he spoke.
The old man died the next day.
[Note: after writing and rewriting all of this, having a lot of time to sit with it, I will leave it up because there might be bits and pieces that could be worth considering, but overall its a bridge to the wrong place. I don’t have any confidence that reading it would improve someone’s life as much as silently sitting together one more time would. Maybe I missed my chance to lighten the load because I hadn’t lightened my own. I don’t plan to write anymore. This was valuable for me because it sort of exposed so many subtle and desperate layers, and since hitting the road, having large expanses of time with no way to dampen the inner clamor, I’m remembering again what everything I wrote was supposed to be a reflection of, and just in time.
In the last five months, in this little corner of paradise, I often wake up in the night and follow Moopsie outside to look up at the star-filled sky. At these times the land is the night. The wildflowers, the scattered gnarled orange trees, and the woods that ring the fields are unified as a layer of shadow, and the bright sky seems instead to be the world, where on land, we’re upside down in the darkness.
Tonight it was quiet and clear, no wind, no waves, no clouds. Lately I had been seeing shooting stars flashing overhead. This time it reminded me of a story from my earlier years. In it the protagonist returns to a shaman he had visited earlier on. At one point, when the protagonist sees a shooting star, the Shaman says that the star was the soul of a warrior, a lost soul, a pitiful soul that never found its way to the great beyond.
I’ve written a lot, in the past two months. Almost out of time, it had begun to dawn on me that none of it would be able to recreate the sense of context that it’s always been addressed to. That story I mentioned, though I have nothing obvious in common with the protagonist, was bigger than my world when I was young, more detailed.
Its only in noticing much later, all the details, that I see how big, how much of the world stories sometimes reflect. I re-watched the artist’s other less famous show recently and, thinking of the shooting star scene and the ending, it occurred to me how the majority of her audience would call them tragedies, stories ending the way they do perhaps merely to make us feel something. And again, it took both shows, and 20 years to see this, but what the endings reflected was not despair or nihilism, but the reflection of impermanence, the wind against which we build our dreams. I think the significance of this condition, in the secret heart of the latter story, had to do with how the part of us looking to reach paradise is the part that cannot enter.
The stories that stand out to us are part of the context that no one else can see, when they see us move through the world. Sometimes its something that, without being understood, would make it impossible to understand a person’s life choices and trajectory, the meaning of everything.
The inspiration we surround ourselves with is sometimes offered to others as a bridge, because we’re often standing in very different places when our words, seeming to pass through the air, are making leaps of dimensions, from experiences too big to tell, into images, into sound, into meaning, and up to the gates of a different perspective.
There are details that, in the absence of, break any story into a fragment. That I was impatient, that I had to finish it now, and at every point in the past when it wasn’t ready has threatened to cast the vast profit of my experience into the void. The TLDR version of my story might yield some cautionary tale or another about the danger of neglecting the fundamentals, or about the consequences of isolation, something to do with tragedy or madness.
Perhaps as arcane as what I have said or written before has seemed to you, it seemed equally distant to me, depending on how, in recent days or hours, I spent my time. I’ve spent a larger proportion of my time, I think than most, doing what suits me, and the moments in which what I’ve been trying to say has seemed close, relevant, when it flowed and made sense, those moments corresponded to a mode our society has no tradition of accessing.
Part of my haste had to do with how connected, through the web, we are now. Technology has accelerated us along the course, and in the manner, of our thinking. We can reinforce or entertain, or preoccupy ourselves almost anywhere and indefinitely. Our relationship to technology keeps us out of a mode for the subtle, and I think this has represented what is for me the feeling that society is speeding toward its conclusion.
I’ve been as much a casualty of this as a critic.
This is only part of the reason I failed. If I saw myself in a race against this process, I also saw this as my job, something society can’t readily interpret, or make money from, something that put what shouldn’t have been rushed on a timer.
Resuming this on my last full day, I chopped out everything I had written below this point, the almost six thousand words that were a last attempt to leave something useful. Not because of how it was constructed, a lot of it being the best ways I had found to date of describing certain things, but because of the way it diverged from how it felt as I began to write, the goal I am remembering as I write and erase.
The songs I used for this are not to arbitrarily appropriate a sense of drama, but because this is what it sounds like, what it feels like, when I look at the world.
I don’t usually have a strong reaction to tragedy, unless you explain that reaction in terms of how I often spend my time. For a long time, I’ve seen the seeds of larger events, in the smallest.
Each tragedy, interpreted elsewhere as bad deeds, from bad people, from a certain perspective, is a natural extension of certain inner conditions it goes against the modern inclination to explore. People talk in terms of impeaching the president, or getting rid of capitalism, but its a framework that is far more broadly shared, that creates the conditions for the people and institutions that are later seen as representing ‘the problem’ to arise
The world from how my perspective has evolved isn’t an evil place or filled with bad people. I see beauty on the edge of all suffering because I’m conscious of something, in relation to all suffering, that hasn’t been widely considered, much less tried. All of suffering’s expressions are clues to its resolution, are feedback we interpret as experiences that shouldn’t be happening. In this sense, one way toward resolution, is into and not away from these events.
These songs remind me of our movement through time, to the place I wont see, where the bitter becomes sweet.
Having spent some time on forums where people alternately: seek to rationalize their desire for relief through death, or unconsciously are looking for someone to give them a reason to live, or to try and give those reasons to others, it occurred to me that living or dying is not a matter of logic. Our minds are capable of rationalizing literally anything, but the drive to die relates more to how we react to our experiences, than to any inherent meaning in the experience itself. We find the words later for how we already felt, but how we feel is an extension of how we perceive.
We interpret events for how they relate to the survival of our body or, in safer circumstances, our image. As we look out onto the world, we don’t realize that the resulting scope of cause and effect is thus limited. We usually look no further than how we, or what we identify with, will be explicitly effected, no further than the obvious benefits.
The benefits of a cinnamon roll are obvious and instant, the benefits of meditation are not.
A further example of this is how we interpret food usually only for its capacity to bring us pleasure, where the consequences of agriculture wrap around out of sight of these narrow horizons and into illness, the destruction of lands, the undermining of future generations.
Our relationship to food is something we are so protective of, you might find yourself preparing to defend yourself from some impending animal rights argument, but I only bring this up as an example of how: what we perceive as acting in our own interest, on a small scale of cause and effect, can go against our interest on a larger scale.
The ego, which is basically a survival process, in this way, works against survival where it pulls our attention out of a deeper picture of cause and effect. That winning, or gaining, or convenience, in the short term is our political, economic, interpersonal standard, leaves us perpetually surprised or outraged when the wrong thing happens.
I’m not wasting time to make a lesson that might seem obvious, about responsibility. The larger but more subtle point is about how we can’t really perceive the limits of our perspective, in a moment, or in general, and the world looks the same out of our window, whether we are thinking big or small.
And just as cycles of tragedy are feedback, evidence the easy explanations can’t fully contextualize, so too, sometimes, are the outliers, the people it seems we need to save, to find a way to make normal.
I knew a girl in college who was working on a thesis that posed depression as a resistance strategy. I thought this seemed slightly over the top but it did allow me to consider how depression, or other so-called mental illnesses, are interpreted as a problem of the individual rather than, possibly, a person’s relationship to their circumstances.
It is repeated, and assumed, that our society is the most rational, and democratic, and free, that has ever existed. Because we notice mental suffering in acute circumstances, its easy to seem like a personal problem. The eye test can’t account for everyone putting on a brave face, who in taking for granted their circumstances as normal, don’t want to appear weak.
Furthermore, taking a pill often brings about an equilibrium with one’s circumstances so the conventional view doesn’t seem unreasonable.
I bring this up because shifting relationships, both to what is inside, and outside, can also alleviate or remove the suffering called depression. It may be easier to just take a pill, but then, as a society, we are only covering up reality, as it tries to tell us something about how we are living. This is the entire pattern of our civilization, the quest to conquer nature, where we build levies in a swamp, and plant crops in a desert, and sit in boxes cut off from the forests and the breeze and call the results human nature.
My life, in the last several years, what could look like a story of squandered fortune, or failure, unfolded in relation to a world that attachment to the ordinary priorities makes very difficult to see.
I don’t lament how I, or what I tried to do, was perceived because I was lonely, or because I wanted validation.
My inner sense of priority shifted a long time ago, at the same time that my field of view did.
And the root of that transition, the point at which I’m lost in translation, is something people don’t know they believe.
When a thought isn’t perceived as a thought, its called reality, and the process of living on top of that thought becomes “the real world”, a territory of cause and effect.
It then becomes possible for phenomena caused by living on the basis of that belief to be explained elsewhere. This is how clarity and majority work against each other, because when a pattern becomes normal, it becomes harder to trace certain other conditions to it.
The belief that: “I am this, and you are that”, what I would have called “the idea of being”, if I had managed to rewrite my book idea, is not perceived as a constituent of what we call tragedy. People can observe conflict along identity lines, and then say identity causes it, which is a picture that subtly excludes the mental processes that are culturally automatic, to the point where they seem normal.
What I was trying to do was create a mirror for those reactions we have to events in the world, that inner awareness can give us a choice regarding.
This is a very old process that has been reached, and practiced and guided in countless ways, all of which are inaccessible to a person living and tacitly believing in the modern way.
There are perspectives and corresponding solutions that are locked away by what we don’t recognize as a general complacency about reality that our faith in science and technology only deepen.
Without having seen the deeper basis of these claims, one may yet find one’s self thinking “what a belligerent egomaniac this guy is” or one may begin devising a list of the products of the scientific method. That is, we often begin to fight, without knowing how the full arc of a discussion ties in to our self-interest. If you were to put this down now, I’m sure you could have very good reasons.
Assume for one minute, that your conclusions would change, if you saw the whole thing.
Regardless of whether that is the case at this time, to deflect prematurely, is a way the unobserved ego, our identifications, allow us to rationalize our position, something that can limit our access to the unseen size of the world, larger arcs of logic or cause and effect. Just as the cinnamon roll is always right at the small scale of how it tastes, on larger scales of our health it might not necessarily be right. The same is true for our attachments to what we know.
The ego’s priority is to be right. The priority of this project, was to contextualize the feedback we are receiving from reality that is ordinarily interpreted as bad luck, bad genes, or bad people.
There is a reason I have insisted on this over the years, beyond merely the defects of my personality.
This isn’t addressed to the higher levels of clarity we sometimes shift to when challenged, where we say “obviously, don’t judge a book by its cover” but to the shallow layer we react from, spend most of our time in, that is expressed by our definitions.
The egoic perspective is not rooted. In the same conversation we can shift between arguments that are mutually contradictory because the “things I know” is an assemblage that isn’t constituted toward a certain purpose, and therefore it doesn’t require consistency. We can take whatever position makes us already right. For instance, when pressed, a person might begin: “I’m not racist”. If this can’t hold he shifts to: “So what, everyone is”. If this can’t hold he may then argue that he is justified because of such and such statistic and so on.
The only consistency between each position that supposedly explains his actions is that he is right. This shows that he hasn’t reached his conclusions by a rational process, though he think she has, because his reasons contradict each other, and even if each is dispelled he holds to the conclusion.
He is not debating with clarity in mind, but out of the egoic priority of being right.
Society’s solution is merely to call him a racist and hope he shuts up, and believe that what they are witnessing is either a. his bad character, or b. human nature. Neither of these views affords a solution, and the former would allow people to miss that they share in common the framework that makes a racist perspective logical. Neither of these views perceives the cause as unconscious identification. To perceive it in this way implies the solution, which is: to become conscious of one’s identifications, become conscious of the prior commitments through which truth becomes distorted, detached from objective clarity.
This is as relevant a process for the critics as the criticized, if not more, because someone who doesn’t care about others isn’t preoccupied with finding solutions to social problems.
We don’t have a choice regarding our rationalizations until we get into the habit of noticing them as they arise, wherein we cease to implicitly identify with them.
The value of all of this is not in having the right thoughts, its in being able to use the mind toward specific goals and not to be used by the mind via the narrow priorities of the ego.
I wish I could tell all the stories of the people and moments that prove what we are really capable of. I wish I could communicate only about the silence, where the impulse to react with aggression or violence dissolves.
Outside, the woman who runs the property and her partner are fighting. Expectation and control and resentment are not necessary or inevitable to a relationship. They reflect only a stage preceding self knowledge. Its only a layer of us that fights. If you could see the girl who brought me here flow, it would change your idea of love.
The ego isn’t, per se, gone, only its horizons are small against the potential for human freedom. At a certain point we remember the bigger picture through the moments that once seemed to necessitate conflict.
Science can’t follow us, because it can only observe the mechanics of the brain and not the moments in the subjective process where things can shift. And in becoming one with their phones, the youth, will perpetually click and swipe away from, bury, the waves of their inner experience, that are the gates to the deeper view.
My life is footprints in the sand, that cannot recreate the story that leads ultimately to the sea.
These words are no different. They swirl in dizzying circles, that seem to lead nowhere because we expect, in words, to find truth, something that makes sense to us. And the way I have always written has always produced resistance.
There are many possible ways to interpret this. Which one a person chooses, not just in this but in all the moments that we don’t realize are turning points, has critical implications for human destiny.
Truth is an illusion we cling to that has bound us to the coincidence of our foundations.
It needn’t be something exclusive. You can think of it alternatively like a pattern, something like a shape that, when repeated, creates itself on grander and grander scales.
Our reality is built out of the truths we, and others, carry out; like frequencies, each truth echoes off of the world in a specific way, creating the structure of harmony and dissonance into which our lives breathe. Like a vase, with the semblance of form it gives to water, the world today is just such a semblance, the persistent echo of certain truths that give the appearance of walls, facts, of different and opposing things, when it is all just water and the filters we pour it through.
We look through our truths for the world, but seldom, as if in a vacuum of choices, for how our truths lead us to live in it.
My words are just sign posts, for something extending far out of sight from the road. My story ends as it does because I saw something so big I could not be swayed by the conventional flow. From that flow, there are only a few words for people who deviate: recluse, eccentric, dreamer, slacker, crazy, loner, failure, none of which conveys the differences in context that meaningfully differentiate one journey from another.
Do I blame society? Not now. I felt, in the times I left, we were incompatible. I could walk through the world pretending, but then it was hard to reach the space from which to reflect on everything, because I began to suppress my perspective to avoid what I thought at the time to be futile conversations. But it was from these conversations, historically, that I had eventually learned from, about how people react to symbols, about the gap between what they say they want, and what they let distract them. It was tiring because my own ego would stir and start rubbing against someone else’s. Ultimately it wasn’t the environment or other people that were the problem, it was my relationship to everything.
Everything that anyone else does that seems to justify our reaction, is only a clue of a distance we still haven’t travelled into self-awareness. No one else is responsible for anything we do. Other people’s actions are only a turning point, a fork in the road.
To observe our identifications, rather than to identify, is the process of being able to change the human story. We don’t lose anything by ceasing to believe we are one or another idea, by attaining the perspective that our thoughts are only scenery. It was confusing for me because the stream of considerations I was working on was a means for thought to lead beyond itself, an elucidation of the bars in an invisible prison.
I was so convinced about the process being right, not what I wrote, but what that writing was referring to, that I lost sight of how it might not have been the right way. If no one could see how to use a tool, then its bad design right? This is where my ego stepped in, and, in a way, how the message became distorted, how a piece of truth can be dangerous.
In the end I’ve been the only beneficiary, that I’m aware of, of this journey. I had wanted to upload a mutation into the cultural genome, so that seeing through our own thoughts and motivations might eventually become standard.
It wasn’t to swap one belief system for another, it was to be a tool for measuring where the respective truths at the bedrock of our perspective lead, what they allow us to try.
Understandably, I guess, no one ever understood the big picture of what I was going for. Even though every conversation, every political showdown is filled with evidence for it, it still seemed too abstract. The connections between how we think, what we say, and what we experience, I noticed other people didn’t notice them as readily.
What has moved me, for a long time now, as the usual preoccupations have ceased to, are stories told in a way that they reflect the degree of intensity that tragedy and crisis sometimes evokes, but which is generally felt unevenly across a society bombarded by bad news.
Regarding one show, in an online forum, a person mentioned that he was glad he “didn’t live in that world”, even as the story culminated in an elegant, brutal, allegory that was one hundred percent applicable to our society. Among other things, it dramatized the relationship between narratives of superiority and inferiority, and the sense of righteousness that persists among innocent people, whose inheritance is a world shaped by those narratives, who succumb to them and therefore see themselves on the side of justice, even as with the best intentions they continue to spin the wheel that grinds us against each other.
Others commenting on the ending remarked on the intensity of the final episodes, an intensity the show was able to convey, but which events in the real world presumably were not. This explains why it appeared to be merely a fantasy world with nothing in common with their own. Ironically, it is through the same process, of growing up surrounded by the consequences of certain narratives, that other people appear in such a distorted way that we don’t recognize the size of their experience. And so, just like the show seemed, politics can seem like a matter of there being two sides to every story, and the truth, and the blame, being a compromise in the middle. This assumes that the stakes and intentions are the same for everyone, that the proximity of burdens, is shared.
The degree of intensity that events awaken in each of us, informs our judgment about what is important, how important. This is something art can help us recalibrate, the balance of what is happening and how much we feel.
Each of us sees our self in a different story, and so how fitting a work of art seems to us will always depend. The background music I listen to when I write, or the silence sitting outside in the orchard, is a bridge to a feeling that without, makes my work very difficult to contextualize. Everything here seems out of proportion, because we all have a different sense of what world we’re in, and different noise in the background. I may be a bit more out of sync with everyone else through years of watching tragedy at the axis of identity, which so often tells people all they need to know. This is a different experience of course, from directly experiencing tragedy. In the aforementioned show, most of the people who directly experienced it, wanted revenge. To the same proportion do people in real life see their cause as the defeat or silencing of the others they deem responsible.
Who do you defeat if everyone is holding on to the same underlying truth, from which distance will inevitably spring, from which it creates this world we think is the only one?
It is the inner process of creating distance, formalized in our belief in categories, that is at the root of so much of what we blame on a type of person, or human nature. Its only by becoming conscious of this process at the moment it is happening, that we can change our cycles.
The premise, that no one is anything more or less than human was the beginning for me.
Our problem solving in our daily lives, as well as at the political level, is like an equation where we keep getting the wrong results: discord, lack of empathy, exploitation, degradation, murder, and yet the root of the equation has been overly simplified to satisfy a predilection for perceiving order.
The truths the ego latches onto, about who each of us is, reinforce a sense of meaning. Its a compulsion not motivated by clarity but self/ego-articulation. Because we can’t be an idea, believing that we are leaves us insecure, like trying to build a house out of a cloud, and so the constant need to create and reinforce narratives that distinguish “us”.
We appear in these narratives of who is what, and who is good often merely by the coincidence of our birth and not by our actions or any process of inner reflection. And so these narratives contaminate the political process because they create alignments that have nothing to do with what each of us really has at stake in a political moment. People oppose others casually, not realizing the intensity of the other person’s situation. We think in terms of reality and common sense, and through how things feel to us, not recognizing that how we feel may be the result of long processes of escape and separation, and that other people aren’t necessarily overreacting; they might be trapped in the deep end of the story.
This is why politics is a theatre of resentment, where people undermine others, believing they are doing the right thing. We can’t see each other, and we can’t begin to, because doing so would upset our personal foundation of meaning, which we defend reflexively.
This is the gravity of the unobserved ego, why all political, social, environmental problems are actually spiritual problems.
Because someone who considers himself a scientist might not believe in the soul, he would never embark on the quest of the soul, wherein he might see all the things he thinks automatically, that shape his rational process. He would be hung up on the existence of the soul, not realizing that whether or not the soul exists or not doesn’t even matter, and that its only by inferring a distance beyond one’s perspective that that perspective can grow, not just in data, but in dimension. Part of the reason some people believe god doesn’t exist is because of how ridiculous the god concept they’ve heard sounds to them. And so when they hear “god”, its a specific concept they are rejecting, that then becomes a barrier throughout life, to certain journeys that use the same word but with very different meanings and implications.
This is the surface of the world we are stuck on, where we argue whether something is good or bad, whether it exists or doesn’t exist, when we’re not even talking about the same things. This is the price of efficiency to merely conclude, agree to disagree, everyone has a different opinion, where we recognize only that we see things differently, but don’t make any special effort to see why where we are tricked by agreed-upon terminologies.
So what is the relationship between all of this and my, or your, fate? I started at the conclusion, an alternate premise that provided me a deeper field of cause and effect. The connections between the smallest events and largest that became visible as a result made it clear that the conflict between the world everyone said they wanted, and how they think, made that world unattainable.
The word impermanence, like any other heading, cannot, just in hearing or saying it, reveal all the dynamics it could potentially be applied to, all the ways in which it is expressed in our lives. When it comes to death, our relationship to it–as something bad almost evil–is a sign of a part of reality we haven’t meaningfully integrated. In capitulating reflexively to the fear of death, we fail to realize how we constrict our perspective. The chances we wont take, the people we wont meet, the ideas, the activities, the experiences we will never know, while still believing our judgment is complete.
This goes beyond merely dangerous situations. Because we confuse our self concept with our life; we react to perceived threats to our image as if our body itself is under threat. To an extent this is valid because how you are perceived in the community influences your chances to survive, but if the glue of the community itself is a perspective that cannot see beyond threats to the image “you’re a hipster if you do this” “you’re a hippy if you do that” “you’re gay if you love him” we will never meet the deeper world where peace and freedom can be seen as rational and plausible, authentic. This is because how far we will explore is limited by the value of what we will, consequently, “be” by the threat to our image of: “the type of person who does __”. We then begin to act to try to “be” or “not be” something, and not for what effect that action will have on the world.
Think about veganism, what is often a choice based on consequences is instead broadly twisted into a meme of self-righteousness. The implications of what we do are avoided and it instead becomes an issue of being something, a good or bad person, depending on who you ask.
These fears move us seamlessly, and manifest in rationalizations for avoiding or dismissing something, rationalizations we don’t see in relation to those fears. We think we are acting rationally but our reason is applied retroactively on the basis of how our cultural instincts, the memes about who is good and bad, position us. It is in this way that our sense of judgment is distorted by egoic necessity.
This is why people in non-authoritarian societies are also, not necessarily, free.
That it is possible to observe your own thoughts shows that consciousness is deeper than thought. Ordinarily our thoughts drive us, the world is understood only to the extent it appears in our thoughts. By sinking deeper into observation of them, their egoic force begins to fade, the implicit belief in them fades. We are ordinarily consumed by identification with thoughts. Thought itself is the maze between us. If one can see another person from that deeper place of consciousness, one can see how each person has been a prisoner of their own identity, their own thoughts. Compassion automatically flows from this perspective, because you can see how unconsciousness precludes meaningful choices about how we act.
Whether the notion of “oneness” is perceived as merely a pretty but impractical idea, or as a deeper truth depends on the extent to which a person has brought their awareness into the layer beneath the thought process, in which all thoughts appear and disappear.
Like clouds in the sky.
In a way, what I have tried to write, and the inclination of everyone I know to avoid it is a metaphor for this journey. Will this help someone in coping in their day to day grind? Not immediately. Therefore aren’t they right to ignore or dismiss it? That depends on what they want. If we only want to change the world in the same ways we have always tried, then yes. If, however, we want to change the things that seem like they can’t be changed, then it would only be something similarly counterintuitive, existentially unpleasant, that would be able to loosen our framework enough to allow this.
The current society’s conclusion is the inflexible state where truth is connected to identity. This was always a default, where the gravity of each person’s self idea warps what reaches them and what they interpret simply as reality. Only now our influences are such that its harder to find the space in which the size of this problem can be felt, in which the story of it can be tolerated, in which we might see a way out.
With the availability of easy stimulation, entertainment, distraction, its harder than ever to go against the modern grain. Normally we have to have some idea of how we would benefit, to follow something that can’t produce those benefits instantly.
These are my reflections, the contours, only, of a mystery that seems, at first, like just words. It jumps around, but everything that’s said here has a point, and in the end, hopefully what it culminates in will relieve you.
In the course of my beautiful life, I found myself, one moment, on a rock in the middle of a river, sitting suddenly outside of my original cultural point of view. It was like seeing everything from the side, like an adjacent sun casting long shadows. I saw my spirit in that depth, in the world we’re ordinarily only on the surface of.
Seven months later it happened again, and bit by bit, peculiarities of how we see brought me more and more into an equilibrium with a fundamentally different underlying premise.
I think of spirituality as the process of becoming conscious of the internal processes that keep us tied to really shallow ambitions.
The experiment of my life provided a direct contrast, in the ability to formulate solutions because we diverge on specific premises, who we are (identity), how we know (signifier -definition). There are words, practices, beliefs, you may have dismissed in the past not realizing they express a difference at this level, the premises upon which each of us is standing.
I think for most people, for most of our lives, a “spiritual practice” becomes an adornment, a source, for the ego, of distinction. What, ideally, would lead us out of bondage to our image instead is used to unconsciously fuel it.
Our identity remains first, in this case. Spirituality remains second. Just as our economy remains first, the environment second. It seems obvious that it has to be this way.
I used to wonder if I would ever meet, or had already met, someone who had, or would, fully, cross over, who had settled their own image as a currency that was maintained only to afford them a credible position from which to try to heal our society.
Its hard for our own experience not to become the end, the cause that trumps all others. I was premature in that, in my haste, I’ve been writing from a distance I haven’t fully crossed.
What I’ve been doing has been more important to me than being respected, or surviving. This, for a long time, was the standard I searched for in others. Even still, I watched myself follow the path of comfort countless times. What I told myself was that I needed a break, and I knew that this was often a rationalization that followed a groove etched much deeper down.
Is this not the human condition? If I had travelled as far as this story would suggest, the fact that I couldn’t keep it together makes a strong case for an inner nature, or ‘who we are’. But I always had a choice. I think its as human to do what is necessary as it is to fail.
I don’t think its impossible for our society to be radically transformed because I’ve see the process from the inside. Society can wake up from the dream of the self. That people sometimes identify with what the sages say, thinking truth rather than going through the process of self-realization can’t be helped. But, the more people pursue these broader horizons, the easier it will become for everyone else.
The wave, of people who have begun the journey, is often tangible. Its something that saves you the time, of writing lots of words.
Where I’ve lived for a lot of the last eight months, its not so rare, the inkling of what these words are reaching toward. Certainly I could have done a better job, including with this, but progress isn’t always merely the sum of where we started, and what we are inspired by, or even reject. Our influences sometimes pass through us and into unexpected forms, in times we may never witness or take note of.
The greatest atrocities provoked responses that may have precluded still greater atrocities. In a similar way, all of the ‘negativity’ I have experienced and endlessly discussed has inspired me to seek ways to dissolve the barriers to what is beautiful.
The girl I know here described this island as infinite. She said that people who have lived here for forty years still discover new corners of experience, as time goes by.
Paradise is on earth, as is hell. If they have counterparts after death, I can’t say, but no matter what temporary condition we are experiencing someone has had it and yet thrived. This speaks to Buddha’s point that suffering is a matter of perspective. Pain may be inevitable but we have more control over our own suffering than we realize.
My worry has not been that the earth becomes hell, but that we lose the tools to find paradise. Its not in things. Its not in facts. It fades, the longer you sit inside, staring at a screen.
I haven’t reached anyone, not in writing at least, but I know that I’ve been lucky to follow the scattered clues deeper, closer to the center. Maybe at best I could describe my process, even if I don’t have a mind or memory for more relatable stories.
Fortunately not everyone who has glimpsed at least a part of this mystery has failed on the basis of this problem. Why I still felt the need to contribute was something others didn’t put so much emphasis on, the idea of being.
To name a few, Eckhart Tolle, Osho, Sadhguru, Somerset Maugham in the Razor’s Edge. Hermann Hess in Siddhartha and Beneath the Wheel. They’ve found ways of pointing, with words, in the direction of things that aren’t so obvious.
I never managed to create the perfect chain of sentences, but at least I was able to experience something of their intent.
Thank you to everyone I’ve crossed paths with, everyone who has tried to help or save me, or bring me back to earth. Whatever our interactions or your reasons I listened to everything even if only years later. That is not to say I always, in the end, agreed, but I at least had to balance what I’ve been pursuing against it. I reviewed my actions, even the ones that didn’t prompt direct complaints, even if I didn’t say sorry, I’ve had a lot of time alone to see all the moments I missed the mark.
“Being” “right” has done me no good. I’ve only benefitted to the extent I’ve been able to let go. That I haven’t, fully, by writing this, perhaps you will take that as what I mean by love. Barring reincarnation, none of this holds any profit for me, for my ego, when I’m gone.
So hopefully you wont question, too insistently my motives. All that will be left is a broken mirror, revealing pieces of the surface of the self. The rest is, of course, up to you.
This is the fragment of my story. The fragment describing the events from which everything started to turn. The fragment that is a clue to the shapes of the future. But ultimately, just a piece of something I can’t quite say. You’ll have to infer a distance travelled, that in the end, made it all worthwhile.
As for the remaining ‘”whys?”. I’ve gotten this far with a lot of help, more than I deserved, if you think of our actions as an exchange. I always wondered about how my experiences coincided to bring me closer and closer, to this mystery, how what happened was always more profitable than what was intended. My life was an experiment in trusting the unknown in which I found a bigger world, at the expense of material stability. I accepted the terms. I’m not in any emotional or psychological distress, in fact I feel quite clear. My life has been linked so tightly with my story, although it wasn’t necessary that it had to be this way, one sort of follows the other.
The roots of what blooms in the future, will be buried in the ground of time, it is no special tragedy for the gardeners who never found their way, who fall in the night, becoming the soil they were always destined to be.