Ocean Gradients

The crazy thoughts I had as a kid seem so refreshing these days. Useless, but so charming! I used to wonder things like, “who has the most absolutely painful life in the universe?” or “who is the most beautiful, attractive woman who has ever existed?” and so on. Nonsensical thoughts, maybe, but curiously appealing nonetheless. Because you know that someone somewhere in this cosmic sea, really has had the more horrific life ever. And someone has been the most beautiful, or charming or smart or kind-hearted, or strong or athletic. There have to have been the best and worst in everything, right? The highest and lowest points of the waves.

Ah, but the quality of everything seems to exist due to a qualitative gradient. You know how it is, everything is only good/bad, exciting/boring in comparison to other things. That’s why we gain experience in things over time: relationships, skills, techniques, expressions — we can only observe how good they are in comparison to how bad we were. Or vice versa. And then amusingly, most of us don’t recognize how valuable something is until we don’t have it.

We consider professional athletes to be so good because compared to us they’re way better. But then you put boxers from different weight classes against each other and it changes things. Or put some super-aliens against NBA players (already done in a film with Michael Jordan called Space Jam) and the NBA players look pitiful!

It works with everything — we just get ensnared by things in comparison, and paradoxically, temporal pleasures of the present moment. You think you’re in love with your first boyfriend until you meet your second boyfriend. It’s just in comparison, right? But at the same time, it’s the different individual flavors which pull you in. You can’t make up your mind! There’s no one best flavor!

Not that our tastes or qualitative measurements are even accurate. Too often people become bored of the rhythm of things and seek some kind of change and become emotionally attached or invested in such a decision (i.e. cheating on a spouse, buying a new car, moving, getting in a fight, finding new friends). Never see what you become, the grass is always greener, etc.

So, what is the difference when we sit “wuwei” — sitting and forgetting? Everything only exists right now, the past and future are just bubbles, thought worlds (like our whole cosmos, haha!), dreams and distractions. This is why, in the present moment we can get rid of mental attachments to pain or pleasure (although it’s usually pain), because there is no qualitative speculation upon anything else. I mean, there is in retrospect, and you react naturally to negative or positive states of mind, but there is no conscious qualitative measure of things in focused awareness.

If you are really good, you can just observe pain as it happens and not get involved, not give into the mental and physical impulses that accompany recognizing it. If you were even better (and possibly crazy/lazy) you could be stabbed or maimed or burned and not get mentally attached to the pain. Deep meditative practices can result in this, the ability to separate one’s mind from sensory conduct and stimulation.


2 Responses to “Ocean Gradients”

  1. searchingwithin Says:

    Very good article. I have alway thought that we chose to see something bad, or good depending on our perspective, and the way we choose to see and feel things, all the while having the power to change that, at any given moment that we so truly choose.

    However, your article put a different and enlightening perspective on it all. One that I need to stop and take notice to. Something that in our hearts we have always known, but do not stop to think about.

  2. Hi SW,

    It’s great to hear you found it to be of value! I was concerned that this post was a little bit complicated or vague, but your comment has assuaged my worries!

    All the best,

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