I do not hold with private meditation as a path toward insight. It may quiet the stream enough for you to corral your thoughts. Perhaps you can better see into the corners of your mind, what might be called subconsciousness if that wasn’t such an abused and now meaningless term, but they are still your thoughts. They come from nowhere else than your body-mind experience. If anything, sitting for an hour or more in contemplation is more likely to reinforce your existing biases and ideas because you are gaining no new perspective, no views from outside your conditioned mind.
It seems to me that most of the problems we face have roots in the limits in human imagination and vision, especially that of one particular group of people who believe ardently in their own superior intellect, their absolute correctness, their better selves; and they do not allow for legitimacy in the baser opinions of anyone else — all of which stems from the tendency of this group to find wisdom solely from within their own rather delimited minds…
Let me tell you a secret. There are no minds. There are no names. There are no labels, no boundaries, no distinction and rank. There is no male, no female, no alive or inert, no good and no bad. There are no bodies. Individual particles do not exist except when we attempt to observe them — which tells us much more about our perceptual capabilities than anything true about the world. There is only flow. We attempt to carve kings and heroes and significance from a fluid world and write novels lamenting the inevitable transience. We give ourselves names in intricate order while the world laughs at our delusions, merrily throwing mycelia and quarks and cats into our paths just to confound us.
We have known this for a long time. Our own science does not work properly in a world of division and individuation. Labels slide off as soon as we attempt to affix them to the things we aim to observe. We can’t make anything hold in any system of our own devising — because it is of our own devising and no more. It is not real. Reality is protean. It won’t stand still long enough for us to hang a notecard around its neck. We don’t like it. So we make boxes to hold the real. And train our eyes to not see all the inconsistencies bleeding from our false narratives.
We carry on this pretense merely to assuage our insecurities. We so want to be superior. We want rank for ourselves, and so we make the entire universe conform to our silly ideas of merit. We want to be more worthy than others so that we can justify taking more than we could ever use. We are self-invented selves aggrandizing all within reach to ourselves because that is what we invented selves to do. Our socio-economic systems of organizing these selves are built on this fallacy precisely to preserve this fallacy. And there is your black-hole donut economics…
Once you have seen this, have felt it in the expansion of your body and the dissolution of its boundaries, it is very difficult to participate in the human world. It is all so paltry and boring and small. Mean little beings with greedy fingers, calling each other names so as to grab more and more and more nothing. It is all so stupid. It is all so wasteful. Spending this magnificence of being on drawing lines in sand and arguing about where to place one’s feet.
So much sadness we create for ourselves. We want to hold eternity in an appellation and loudly lament the inevitable inability to contain time. Time is flux. We know this. Only when it stops changing is there death and that death is complete. We do not want death, but we infants also do not want change. We do not like mutability dancing away from our grasp. And so we are sad even in the midst of this splendour. We created sadness and gave it its power over us.
In truth, we created all power over. Over, under, higher, lower. What do these all mean in a water world? Imagine what rank means to a fish. We can imagine this. It is all very natural to see with fish perspective, to feel the ocean waters interpenetrating our flesh, to flow through and within this great pageant of interbeing. This is our natural state, our mother’s womb. We created over and under so that we can understand gravity, which is all well and good, until we forget that force is an intermingling dance between, not an imposition of will.
Will is also a human invention. Well, of course it is. What is will in the streaming river? Where does will reside in rippling time? How does will dance with the coruscating stars? Will is absolutely befuddled in the grandeur of being. Will plops down on his truculent ass and whines about insignificance and meaninglessness when he feels himself to be so fine and lordly. Because that is what we made him. That is his name. And that is the one name that will stick. Because it is wholly of our own invention.
Will does not exist. Nor power. Nor over and under. We laughably small things with outsized egos, we created all this nonsense, this non-reality, this non-existence, in order to make ourselves large in the face of the incomprehensible universe. We want so to signify. We have made beginnings and endings and impermeable walls just to say I am for a brief moment. We made ourselves small and bounded. When our birthright is eternity. Or as long as there is, in any case. We made ourselves insignificant when meaning interpenetrates the entirety of being. Just because we want to be exceptional, not of that being, not within, but over. Which… leaves us… nowhere.
This is all the product of residing in a small mind. You can not get to the universe from within a self-imposed barricade. You can not see the stars when you train your eyes inward. You can not even see that there is no inward. You are bounded by your own imagination. How’s that for paradox! But we created that also. Dichotomy does not exist in a boundless world in which labels will not heed our commands.
So lament the human condition at your own peril. It is not really human or a condition. But it is limiting. And destructive. As any un-being will tend to be, I suppose. The end of the world as we know it is not much of a grand finale, except when we make it so. Meditate on that… and, as the hippies say, free your mind… it isn’t yours or a mind to begin with anyway… wisdom comes from the interpenetrating flow… which you will never find solely within your imaginary self…
©Elizabeth Anker 2022