Saturday, August 27, 2011

Crossing Uncrossable Chasms

I love quotes; have collected them for years decades. If pressed, it would be hard to choose a favorite even though i have probably quoted T.S.Eliot hundreds of times more than any one else.

Only those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.

I live by that quote in every aspect of my life: personal, professional, mental, spiritual, physical. And even though it has caused me countless amounts of grief as i hit walls that stop my progress even though i want to push further, i still find myself living by its rule.

And yet...

And yet, when i sit down and consider it, i have to admit that the quote i would want on my gravestone (if i wasn't going to be cremated) isn't that, but this one by Marcel Proust:

The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.

If this one sentence was widely understood, truly understood, and adopted by the world's population, the world would be a different place.

For most people, the world is, and always will be, divided into me & you, me & the world, inside my head & outside my head, my life & everybody else's life. The world is divided up into three separate camps, with uncrossable chasms separating them: subject (me), object (the rest of the world), and the relationships between them.

Everything we do, everything we think, everything we say originates from the "me" camp. No matter how subtle, everything starts from our desire to make "me" feel better. Even our spiritual journey starts from the desire to alleviate "my" suffering, or the desire for "my" ability to help "others."

If you are a serious practitioner, however, there is a better path; one where you actively and persistently work at noticing how often, and how subtly, what you do/think/say originates with the concept that "I" am separate from "everything else."

The path i'm talking about doesn't exist above the normal categories of subject, object, and relationship, it doesn't try and unify them — it dissolves them. Completely. The signposts along this path all ask you to stop, take a breath, and realize that everything you see, hear, taste, touch, and smell is filtered through your mind. That all perceptions, hence everything about that "out there" that we think we know, is filtered through our beliefs, ideologies, fantasies, education, etc. In other words, through all that conditioning we have taken on board since the moment of our birth.

As you do this often enough, persistently enough, and for long enough periods of time you come to understand that everything is a creation of your own mind. Every thing that you think you know, every thing that you think you are has been made up by your mind. Yes, the physical world is real and "out there," but so are you. Not you, that bag of skin and bones, but you, the being that you really are. You come to understand that everything, with no exceptions, is a constituent part of who and what you are; that you are a constituent part of every one and every thing out there.

A sense perception hits your eyes. A sight consciousness arises. So far, completely neutral in meaning and value. Then the mind gets involved and all of the sudden there is a 'you,' an 'it,' and some relationship between them. If you can learn to get around this step, the object, the subject, and any relationship disappears and there is simply 'everyday mind.'

As the frequency and duration of this openness, this emptiness, increases, it begins to bleed over to the way your every day discriminating, thinking mind works and interacts with the world and the word 'experience' begins to take on new meanings.

No comments: