Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Transcendence


"What you are looking for...is who is looking." - St Francis of Assisi.

When asked what particular faith or religion I follow, I have often answered that I am a bad Buddhist. I have a problem, you see, with transcendence. Still, in fact, I am a rational nondualist. It is my way of seeing things. Because it fits within many religions as well as philosophical and scientific systems of understanding, it is a bit of a challenge for me to find a label. My belief is freedom itself. And, therefore, it is free of the multitude of labels you might find in dogma and religion. What does it mean to be a nondualist? It is simple. I recognize the natural truth that the world, the self, and the universe are One.

The implications, of course, are not so simple as the realization.

Nonduality is the ancient secret of the Jewish Kabbalists and the Neo-Platonists. It is the secret behind the Perennial Philosophy. It is the arc and span of the Sufis and the Gnostics. It is the Way of the Tao. It may be found at the root of almost every world religion, girded up like the perilous mystery that it is. It is the Isian proof, that veil so often never removed...and virtually never understood or put to any practical or worthwhile use. It is soundly scientific but many people have never heard of 'non-locality' principles of quantum dynamics or particle physics.

For most...Oneness is hippy culture. The Acid Cowboy walks by and seeds your consciousness with visions that cannot be trusted. It would mean too much to be real.

And yet, Oneness is the only answer. It is as sound as knowing that the cells that comprise your own body are separate and yet not separate. It is not pseudo science. Richard Dawkins, the great evolutionary biologist would have us believe that our thoughts are comprised of 'memes'. We already know of their physical counterparts, the 'genes.'

So what are we? Are we the 'genes' that we inherited from our species and parents? Or are we the 'memes' that we sweep into the vortex of our survival mind from moment to moment? If we are just the 'genes' then you are not you at all. You are Us; If we are but the stuff of our 'memes' then are our ego constructs nothing more than 'memeplexes' of Coca Cola, first kiss, car, house, football team? Im sorry, but I'd like to think I'm more than just Texan, Star Wars at 7, broken heart at 18, Restaurant business at 23, Masonic affiliation and so on.

I'm not interested in convincing anyone. These days most people in the west dont give much thought to 'Enlightenment.' What good is it they wonder? Isnt it just something they thought about once in their youth listening to The Grateful Dead while smoking weed in their dormrooms? No. It's more than that. But its not up to me anyway.

Consider this. All things, said the Buddha, have Buddha nature. If its all one thing then something about it all, no matter the appearance of differentiation, is the same. The early philosophers such as Anaximander, Thales and Aristotle posited a universal substance. Heraclitus said, "All things come out of the One; and from all things, the One."

Oneness. Enlightenment. Nonduality. What can I do with it?

Well, we are already Enlightened. We are already 'Buddha.' But somewhere along the line we reasoned that those genes and memes make us separate from everything else and we began to believe that to be reality. We solidified a concept, a perspective and each proceeded to govern our lives accordingly.

What is practical? Truth. Occam's razor slashing aside the illusions and overly complicated and unnatural ideas.

Stop breathing right now. Stop your heart for a few minutes. Stop thinking right now. Stop seeing and feeling and... Wait. You cant. It's all on autopilot. You're not doing much of anything. Perhaps now, reading that, you're reacting. Yes...re-acting. Would that thought have crossed your mind had you not read those sentences above? Who are You?

1. Our mind is the internalization of the 'outside' world, an evolutionary capability allowing for a kind of virtual 'toolmaking' through symbolic processing. It is part gene and part meme. Both come from the world.

2. The 'Outside' world, as we perceive it, is a projection of our minds. We interact with what we expect, what we have learned, what we fear, what we hope for, what we focus on...what we desire. All of this is derived from those principle internalizations.

3. We are thus the world process. We are the world interacting with itself.

The great psychiatrist Carl Gustav Jung said, "Look deeply enough into the Psyche and you see the World."

We are the Process. Hasidic Jewish thought regards God as a Verb...not a noun. In this way of thinking...there is only God-ing.

Enlightenment is thinking without errors of observation. More simply, Enlightenment is Perspective.

People can be 'Enlightened' and then not be 'Enlightened.' Again...it is Perspective. Think of it as seeing yourself in relation to reality in the same way you might see an optical illusion from one perspective. Certainly, in the beginning, it doesnt take much to lose your concentration and lose sight. With practice and conditioning, however, such a state of awareness can be maintained. There are many methods to go about doing this...and I have my favorites.

Still, if I am any kind of Buddhist at all, I am not a great one. As I mentioned. I tend to get hung up on Transcendence. Transcendence is the act of making the two, one. It is rising above the opposites. It is reaching for something new. An infant, for example, transcends its parents.

To be fair to myself, many of us have trouble with Transcendence. But it feels wonderful when we achieve it. It is the release. It is the Middle Way. It is the string that is not wound so tight as to break and not tuned so loose as to not play at all. It rings in our ears and touches our hearts. It is beauty. It is truth. And it is birth.

Two armies face each other. Two lovers quarrel. Two political factions vie for power. Life faces Death. If only we could ... Transcend.

Some years ago I reached that momentary bliss of enlightened perspective if only for a few short months. I was in love with someone who lived in a deep state of pain. Within me, true compassion arose setting aside anger, judgment and fear. When she loved me too I was at peace.

I remember looking into the mirror one day and seeing the end of all of my ego striving and desires. I had a new home, a beautiful wife, a good business, and everything I had ever wanted. And in that moment of perfection, the mirror before me began to crack. I could think of nowhere else to go...nothing else for my ego to exist for. I sat with my wife on the couch and we looked at each other wondering what could follow such happiness.

Thoughts, like seeds, took root. It wasnt long and the mirror shattered completely. When it was too late, I remember a moment of clarity between us and peace again amidst the storm. My wife lay on the bed rubbing her stomach. "I want to have your babies," she said. By then, it was only the last vestige of our lost hope. And it took me years to realize that I had not seen that in the mirror. I had failed to recognize the most important aspect of living an enlightened life...Transcendence.

The Process of Life is unconcerned with our whims and the myriad of conditioned mirages we take on. The Process is ever flowing and will overflow those containers we make for it. It will break down the doors we lock before it. It will wash us clean if we are dirty. It will provide so long as we do not impede it. So long as I Transcend..."My cup runneth over."

Dare to break a mirror and you might just have more than seven years of bad luck...I'm telling you. But changing the world is just another way of changing our minds...if you understand them from the proper perspective.

Of late, I pay attention to areas of my life in which I am stagnating. I also pay attention to those things that dont seem to be going my way. I guess I can look at them or react to them with fear or anger. But it occurs to me that I am learning this way. And I would not have understood my past failures without such experiences. In a new light I find a new path. For that...I am grateful.

Enlightened living is 'proactive' living. One is aware of the moment at hand. And there is only really the moment at hand. And so reactions are tempered by such awareness. The memes and genes making up patterns of memory and behaviors arent the only ones running the show anymore.

You are...whoever You might be.




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