Reading Notes #13
Do you feel more like a solid or a liquid?
One of the things I enjoy about reading multiple books is when they overlap in some distinct way.
Sometimes the overlap is simple, like an uncommon word I learn in one book, which pops up repeatedly in another book.
Sometimes the overlap is disagreement, or a very differing perspective, on a single point.
Here’s one of those:
“…an individual who has actually reached such a level of firm contact and expansion of the real “I” will also possess attributes such as the ability to accurately judge the consequences of his or her actions, the constant exercise of his own will, an ability to do—to initiate acausal events—as well as a bearing or attitude that is consistent with itself in all situations and conditions. Most of all, such a person does not lie to himself.”
Then along comes Ram Dass, in the book Grist for the Mill, and is like, Nah:
“The senses are just working by themselves. There is hearing occurring, but there is no listener. There is seeing, but there is no seer. The senses are just all doing their thing, but there's nobody home. If the mind thinks, I am aware, that is recognized as just another thought, as part of the show passing by. It's not awareness itself. Thoughts are going by like a river, and awareness simply is. When we become just awareness, there is no more 'me' being aware.
By letting go of even the thought I, what is left? There is nowhere to stand and no one to stand there. No separation anywhere. Pure awareness. Neither this, nor that. Just clarity and being.”
Laura: “Get in touch with the real I and you’ll be able to act, do, live honestly.”
Ram: “Cute. Nice thought. But there is no real I.”
Point-not-being which one of these perspectives is right or wrong, better or worse. The point—for me—is to hold both. To play with them. Maybe to ask: When is this point of view more helpful? And when is that other point of view more helpful?
And maybe to acknowledge how much I long to find a way, a principle, a point and nail it down as the once-and-for-all truth about a thing. And then to ask why I feel that longing. What’s the need? It’s got to be about security, about fearing pain, about trying knowing enough so I can be in control of what happens, or at least predict it accurately and try to prepare.
Prepare how, though?
I keep coming back to the idea that the fear of something generally turns out to be a much worse experience than the something-itself. So the whole pursuit of knowing it all so I can make accurate predictions is self-defeating. If what I predict is good, then I’m taking all the delight and surprise out of it by knowing it ahead of time. And if what I predict is bad (in the sense of I don’t want to experience it), then I’m giving myself a double-negative by creating the experience of fear of what I don’t want, along with the actual experience I don’t want.
Ram Dass sums it up:
“What we're looking for is who is looking; it's happening all around us, and we are what's happening.”
By trying to know enough, by generating worry and fear and negative anticipation, by seeking control, I end up creating what I’m trying to avoid: the experience of something I don’t want.
That Karma’s a quick bitch.
“We are trying to be. And being includes everything. We now recognize that if there is anything at all that can bring us down--anything--our house is built upon sand, and there is fear. And where there is fear, we aren't free.”
All that to say, it probably doesn’t matter whether there’s a real I or not.
Are you at your core of being a definable solid foundational essence or a continually fluid flowing movement of experience?
That’s the kind of question that is a distraction, an exercise in seeking after knowledge instead of being in life. And the answer, anyway, isn’t which one is correct. The answer is just Yes.
The Secret History of the World and How to Get Out Alive by Laura Knight-Jadczyk
Grist for the Mill by Ram Dass