Delete Yourself (Part III)

There’s really no agreed upon point to existence. Not that existence is devoid of meaning, but there’s no complete consensus on what meaning is. Actually, it’s not like a concise point to anything could even exist; or that it would change anything if we knew what it was. For all we know, we’ve heard the real-deal meaning of existence a bajillion times in different mystical forms and it has made absolutely zero difference in our lives. But that’s an obvious point there, isn’t it?

In olden times, before technology and the human populace were so widespread and commonplace, life moved a lot slower. Communication took longer and people were not constantly multi-tasking. There was time to contemplate things, or rather, perceive things. Nowadays it seems like stuff has to be happening right in front of our eyes to seem like any progress is being made. Perhaps our thought patterns have changed with industrial lifestyles to scheme or analyze instead of praying or imagining. Who knows.

I actually consider attachment to our heavy thinking to be a result of not having enough time, that it comes from anxiety. I think the romantics and existentialists and so on didn’t necessarily think a whole lot more than anyone else, but their lives crossed a modicum of perception and awareness with a penchant for serious academic understanding crossed with new ethical progresses.

Modern technological life tends to make life physically easier on our bodies (even though intense mental work is supposed to be even more taxing on the body) and the average life span is longer. But this is also a side-effect of humanity’s tendency to hoard life. Materialism is a blatant symptom of the attempt to own and possess things, all of which are inherently devoid of a self in the ultimate sense. But whaddya gonna do? People search for answers in their own ways, and all humans across time have desired a solution or a way to ease the pain. Because… doesn’t pain get us all in the end?

One question of philosophy and religion: Is there a self or no self? A lot of people have some kind of awakening experience or read a bunch of Indian philosophy and then declare that “all is one”. But really, isn’t that still a sense of self? When we say all things are interdependent, that they’re all reflections of other actions, isn’t that more akin to the idea that all is zero? I get that impression from Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s talks and writings. He’s mentioned how people will attach themselves to the ecstatic feelings of union they encounter in meditative states. But that just results in a really huge, expansive sense of self. Not to mention, when people really dig on those experiences or talk about having them a lot, it just means they aren’t that experienced with them. Or they haven’t learned much from them. It’s like the folks who get really good at martial arts and then enjoy beating people up or asserting their power. They’re missing the point of the skill.

As one matures on the quest to destroy (or unroot) suffering, one begins to see formerly pleasurable actions as boring. It begins with the simpler things in life and progresses onto sensual cravings and so forth. One experiences the awareness that their end result is suffering. Again — these things are realized with the body, not intellectually.

But how is this insight into the suffering of activities different from the perspective of nihilism? After all, nihilism is a sense of boredom too, a sense of disenchantment. I think it really lies in the fact that a non-nihilistic person experiencing the fruits of realization will simply side-step boring or unwise activities without analyzing them very much or obsessing over activities before they happen, whereas the nihilist sits and is bored or exhausted by all things because they will not ultimately yield any permanent or satisfying results. The nihilist is enchanted by doubt and criticism, phases which we all go through from time to time.

But you know, it’s funny because when you do things without speculation upon them, they do yield lasting and permanent results in your life experience. It’s just not the visible, empirical, measurable activity portion which has that result — it’s your relationship to the activity and its effect upon your field of perception. I don’t really like science, but when I read a page about the theory of “bubble universes”, it made perfect sense within my intuitive sense of the cosmos. Of course universes appear and pop or shrink like bubbles. The cosmos is a mind stream. What a crazy dream is all is.

Which reminds me… about that non-dual “life is a dream” new-age stuff: It’s not wrong, it’s just that it doesn’t help anyone to tell us life is a dream. Not unless the philosophy is actually going to give us hints or a practice strategy as to how to get out of the dream or see it for ourselves. ‘Coz just brainwashing yourself with a mantra into thinking life is a dream is a pretty depressing way to live it out.

But then it is a dream on some level, just like everything I create flows away from me with its own existence. And from really high above, the dream looks gorgeous and beautiful. Kind of like how we look at a cityscape from high above. Up close, the city looks polluted and dirty, but from high above the grand scheme of it all can be seen. It’s not that the city does not still have problems, but it becomes a marvelous work of art.

Life is like that too, when seen from a distance. Even periods of depression or anger… they just look quaint or charming (and sometimes funny or sad) when we reflect on them later during disease or old age. Only the good times matter, right? Maybe that’s why even terrible people can delude themselves into thinking they lived as a good person. Who wants to cling onto the negative experiences or perceptions of a life?

Incredible, that even this whole universe is nothing but a single teardrop. Ultimately, “it will all be lost, like tears in rain.” That’s what is so bittersweet about this whole ordeal. When we desire some grand ultimate truth, or some profound and concrete meaning, or the secret to life, we’ve just got problems with our own ego. But you gotta do what you love, so if you love that…

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2 Responses to “Delete Yourself (Part III)”

  1. “Which reminds me… about that non-dual “life is a dream” new-age stuff: It’s not wrong, it’s just that it doesn’t help anyone to tell us life is a dream. Not unless the philosophy is actually going to give us hints or a practice strategy as to how to get out of the dream or see it for ourselves.”

    Exactly. Would you see Buddhism as a series of strategies for realizing this ? I enjoy repeating the word “Sunyata” – emptiness – when I feel anxiety on the bus.

  2. Yeah, I have faith in Buddhism as an effective practice strategy, although it’s not something I practice formally at the moment (current formal training = Daoist, although I haven’t gotten very deep into actual ritual, so it’s not my “religious persuasion” just yet). Following a period invested in black magick, I got involved in Buddhism and found it to be rather rewarding, dropped the magickal angle and have been that way ever since.

    ‘Course, all the dogmatic crap in Buddhism is depressing like in any other religion. It really just comes down to finding a teacher who fits with you, I suppose. An art is only as good as the artist, blah blah blah. And obviously there are Buddhist cults too and crazy fundamentalists. I think I may write about some of that next. It’s just too juicy to ignore!

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