You, You, You

Like any seeker I started by looking outside myself. I looked for the right way to be, the right teachings and teachers to follow, the right posture to keep, the right pattern of breath, the right shape of body. Eventually I was told to look within. To seek what I sought in the raw sense of being. My “you-ness”. The pure simple presence that underlies what I call “me”, lacking any labels or identification, being the ground and source of all of that. “Look at yourself. Look at you.” That’s what I was advised to do. So I did. Layer after layer was discarded. Thing after thing found and put aside as not “you” since I was the one doing the finding. Along the way I would have glimpses into the “core you” of others as well, seeing past their presentation into their pure presence. Deeper and deeper I pushed my looking. One day there was a… crumble. Not a pop, or explosion, or sudden opening. Just a crumbling away of the interconnected set of memories and habits that form who I thought I was. But, that was only me thinking it. I felt it quietly tumble down leaving only a you. It returned of course, to one degree or another depending on the day, but once you see a thing crumble it’s hard to quite believe in it anymore.

There, at the base of you there is only you. Awareness is only things effecting things, encountering each other, leaving traces.  What I found of my “you” was that there is no you standing apart from anything else in order to be aware of it.  Even my most primal “self sense” dropped away the instant I realized I was aware of it and therefore it was not me.  The more I looked, the more I did not find until finally I came face to face with the fact that all and everything is only ever just you playing out as you in order that you might have a sense of you.  Perhaps not even in order for that to be, but it just happens to be that way.  You cannot find a you apart from that, which means (from what I can find anyways) that all of that, just as it is, is you.

So, at the most basic level it seems like there is no you to find, and yet you know that.  You know that because everything encountered affirms you.  The most banal circumstance in day to day life screams out, “You!”  So, there you are.  You are the ground of all.  You are also all arising phenomena reminding you that you are you, what else could they be?  You are the person living the life, doing your thing, making your way.  At any level that you decide to look at what is going on, there you are.  No matter where you go.

Bottom, middle, or top – you find you there.

In short: You are a cosmic parfait.

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Contraction, Constraints, Restrictions and Rules

So, what do we got here?  On the largest scale we have reality.  All of it.  All of it in the idea of the Greek word “Kosmos”.  This is contrasted with the word “cosmos” which (loosely) means all that we know.  “Kosmos” on the other foot means all that we know, all that we can ever know, all that we have heard of & can ever hear of, and all that we do not know (as individuals) and never will.  In other words: literally everything and every no-thing.  Reality.  That is the blanket against which, and from which, all that we encounter is displayed.

By it’s nature an individual life, a particular point of view, is a contraction of reality.  No single life, no matter how long or how broadly traveled will ever encounter more than a portion of reality.  The individual experience in entirety is necessarily a part, a sub-set of all that is.

Within that life, as it processes all of the input, the capacities of the inroads of experience (the six senses of seeing, hearing, touching, tasting, smelling, thinking with their organs of eyes, ears, skin, nose and brain) further constrain that which is captured of reality.  Our eyes only see in a certain spectrum, for example.

These impressions are then organized into concepts.  These are built up from your own experience and the transmitted knowledge of your culture.  At this stage I am considering such wide conceptual frameworks as, “Thing to hold something to drink.”

Further into the restriction of concepts comes a “cup” as opposed to a “glass”, or “bottle”, or “thermos”, or “cupped hands”, or “camel pack”, or “sponge.”  So, “cup” is a subset of, “thing to hold something to drink.”  These lead into thoughts about the uses of cups and their possible design, their historical import and so on.

With thoughts we also further restrict down into what is allowable and what is not.  I remember the first time I saw a coffee cup being used to hold pens and pencils on a desk. It blew my mind.  I was eight.  That was something you just did not do with a cup, and yet there it was.

In this way our contractions, constraints, restrictions and sub-sets become rules we operate by.  They are the guidelines we use to navigate life, the games we play and how we play them (and which games are even allowed.)  For the most part we go through life living by the rules formed by our conceptual restrictions without even knowing they are there.  Becoming aware of them through mindfulness, meditation, journaling, introspection, psycho-therapy, role-play, voice dialogue, chemical expansion of reality tunnels, etc we free ourselves from being unconsciously within their grip.  Once we are awake to them we can see which are “set in stone” (we can only have our own point of view, eyes see in a certain way, and so on) and which ones are subject to modification or change.

In short, once we know that the rules are there and how they are formed we can begin to play the games our way, abandon games which are no longer useful,  and even make new ones.

Life is a grand, amazing adventure, an most of it does not have to be the way we accept it.  By opening ourselves to the constraints we move in we can test their plasticity and malleability.   We can change what is by changing how we let ourselves be with what is.  We can change the game.

When You are No Longer You

The Law of Identity, that is, cannot hold in  process-world ‘where,’ as the mathematical physicist says, ‘every electron has a date and is not identical to itself from one second to another.’ – RAW

I’ve been reading Email to the Universe, the last book Robert Anton Wilson wrote before he concluded his time as a living human being.  He is one of my favorite sources for exploring the inner workings of Taoist thought.  RAW uses the word Process as a translation of the word Tao, which he picked up from Ezra Pound.

One of the distinctions RAW works on in the book is the self-concept (and by extension other-self-concept) held by two basic camps of thought. There are the Western paradigm folks who nail things down into discrete packets of stuff in space. These we can call Spacers.  Spacers are also fond of pointing as the current location a thing holds.  Then there are the more Easter style paradigm peeps who note that a thing changes over time in a continuous process of existence.  This crowd we can call Timers.

Spacers hold that a thing is a self-contained component discrete from other things and stands on it’s own even while being part of larger organizations of things, and conversely composed of smaller discrete things.  A table is a specific thing that is composed of parts like legs, top, joints, etc.

Timers see that a particular thing, say a table, changes over time and is simply the state of the thing as it is now.  A table used to be a tree and will one day be termite food.

The funny and obvious thing is that both camps are right, just from a different view.  We are all nested and nesting in an infinitely complex web of interconnected things.  We also are subject to change over time.

For me this call into question the idea of names.  In the Spacer view it is sufficient for a person to have a specific label to track there place in the configuration of stuff that makes up reality.  This is not really sufficient for the Timers though as the Travis that is writing this is vastly different to the Travis who was watching TV while living at home twenty years ago having never even thought of being a writer.  So, it makes sense to attache a time stamp to the name-label to keep track of just who we are speaking to, or about, on any given occasion. Since the function of a thing is also affected by where in an arrangement of things it happens to be a locational stamp would be useful too.

This would allow for a much fuller conception of a person to deal with.

That’s what went through my head anyways.  What do you think?

Signed,

Travis-(s)San Francisco, CA 94110, (t)1/9/2011 ~ 00:32