I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to know.
As a kid I remember trying to figure out how Santa could visit every house in our subdivision let alone the city, state, country, WORLD.
I puzzled over a child’s book about the moon and various theories about how we got it. My favorite was the one where it was like a giant pimple that got bigger and puffier, and then like taffy stretched until it tore loose.
On and on it went. The search for what was true.
I figure that search if taken seriously (most don’t of course, and live out their lives in normal day-to-day fluff until one day they cease breathing), it leads to one of two outcomes.
If it’s undertaken in some desperation and fear of annihilation, then I figure it leads to fundamentalism. Such folk breathe a sigh of relief, life is survivable!, and close up shop and live out the remaining time in normal day-to-day fluff until one day they cease breathing. Since the journey was taken in desperation, the conclusion that “I am saved, no more need be said or thought” becomes the black box of all black boxes, survivable by the onslaught of all FACTS to the contrary. It thus becomes not a search for truth, but an easy fix to my anxiety issues.
The other outcome is never really an outcome at all for most, but entails a life spent in searching. Unwilling to accept the first “pretty” truth offered and thereafter to sit with the
fundamentalist mentality, we accept what appears true, only to discard it as we learn more and realize that truth is but an appearance, and the search proceeds.
Ultimately we end up with a lot of possibilities but few sureties.
We leave a trail of discarded theories and books behind, encompassing the fields of philosophy, theology, particle physics, neuroscience, and cosmological models. (Am I the only one who bemoaned the loss of a pet theory such as the “steady-state universe as the damnable “facts” insisted I must?)
We read about Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Confucius, Buddhism, Sikhism, Zen, New Age, Old Age, Wiccan, and every conceivable “science” of the mind.
And it all comes down to partial answers and belief.
Every so-called guru has his/her answer, but as Jed McKenna asks, where do they roll out their “graduates”, i.e. fully enlightened beings, meaning people who KNOW? Every teacher has those who claim he/she has “changed their lives forever” and an equal number who cry charlatan. And they are probably both right.
I’m told to seek what is true. What is unalterably, perfectly, demonstrably true. And I am asked to ask again and again, “who am I?” Those operating in delusional dreams will answer, wife, mother, seamstress, student and other rot. Those semi-conscious, like myself, will respond smartly with a great deal of egotistical holier-than-thou-ism, “a spiritual being having a human experience”. We are both equally wrong I suspect, or both right. I doesn’t matter.
We have no proof we are either. We only think. René’s famous quote “I think, therefore I am” or cogito ergo sum to those who want to appear smarter than the average dog, is trite, and quite possibly wrong. For we must recall the Matrix and it’s consciousness in the circuit board which is merely an update on Plato’s cave.
We are left in the end, as I see it at least with nothing more than the statement that “a mind exists”. It may be mine, but that is just the beginning. There may be others, and perhaps one great one, or we may be all parts of one great one, or we may only be a created computer “mind” inhabiting a stage, playing out scripts or doing inprov at the behest of “a” mind.
I can only operate from this mind that I appear to have. The rest is all supposition and appearances.
That may be the only truth, this thinking thing, and I might well be wrong in that too.
If you have ever had the experience of sitting in a group of people at any social occasion or otherwise, and felt suddenly “pulled back” and aloof from all going on around you, observing even yourself from a “corner” of the room, then you know what I mean here. Is this reality or have we slipped in these moments into an open doorway we mostly fail to see? Do we glimpse the Matrix as it were, in such moments?
Are we like Jim Carrey in The Truman Show, or like Bill Murray in Groundhog’s Day? How can we tell?
We are told we must wake up! And we do this by asking questions and being relentless in stripping away the rot and retaining only the kernel of truth at the center.
Is there a center? Is there anything beyond the peelings?
I can reach the point that tells me that I am not what others think I am, nor even what I think I am. I am the product of what others have thought of what I have said, thought, and done, and how I have responded and molded myself to that. Where did I conform, retreat, stand my ground, or ignore what others said? How strong was my “self” or non-self as the truth seekers would say? When I peel away the layers of this false me is there a me at all in the end?
Does it matter?
Is it better to live in the illusion rather than be no-self?
It’s all about fuzzy concepts of non-duality in which mind and the universe are seen as the same. It’s a thoroughly Asian concept prominent in most Eastern religions, but finding purchase in the West among neo-Platonists. Mostly the West interprets it as a mind/body oneness.
Somehow this is seen as preferable, this non-dualism, but why that is so is not yet apparent to me. It’s also considered de rigueur to claim that the universe is a friendly place ready to do our bidding. Again, I’m not sure why.
So, if you see me, and I seem to be gazing into the sky, and I seem to be standing there, doing nothing, well I’m not. Doing nothing that is. I’m thinking. That’s the only thing I know to do.
If I come up with something I’ll be sure to let you know. But I’ve been told that we each have our own row to hoe and the universe will deliver us what and who we need exactly as we are ready to receive it, and in that uniquely unique fashion, we are all in this on our own.
There is peace in the truth.
(PS. If all this sounded slightly black, then I definitely set the wrong tone. It’s quite E N L I G H T E N I N G. )