It spent eons organizing itself into differentiated awareness capable of experiencing undifferentiated awareness. Experienced as what? Other? Why is this experience so ecstatic to me? Why is there this part of me that basks so greedily in the flickering lamplight of cosmological narcissism?
 
Maybe this is why I consume my day with mundane things, to bind myself to a social life that I have never truly developed a taste for. What fear holds me in place? Fear of death? Surely that’s a part of it.

An entity is that which is determined by boundaries, that which has definition.  In order for this to occur, there must be a consciousness of discrimination between self and other.  Whenever this occurs, there exists, at a point of critical abstraction, the possibility of turning the eye upon itself, in which self-reference manifests as otherness, where one becomes capable not only of referring to oneself (“my hand”), but also of referring to oneself referring to oneself (“I am thinking about my hand”).  From this point onward, there is the possibility of the acknowledgment of attachment to the id-entity that has been constructed.  From this point onward, there is the possibility of liberation from that attachment.  The liberation occurs through the recognition of non-liberation, that this is what is, and you are exactly that, minus absolutely nothing.  Thus, the spell of attachment to separation is broken.

First breath, a story.
I am here and breathing now.
First breath, forgotten.

The Kingdom of God is within you.

Of course, I am merely being poetic. But don’t you know that when you say, “I love sushi,” or, “This is a birthday card from my grandmother in Texas,” you’re being poetic as well? Have you fallen for your own poetry? If the real world is a world without confusion, what can you speak besides poetry? The flashlight poetry of science transforms our world into an architecture of wonder and discovery. It heals our bodies, overturns deeply held beliefs, and shows us where the hell our keys are.  The floodlight poetry of religion teleports the true listener deep into ocean of uncertainty in the blink of an eye. Being human, we can find as many things to cling to on the ocean floor as we can on the surface.  This is not the fault of the poem.  What could we know but peace in a world where we under-stood our own poetry?

“In this very one-fathom long body along with perceptions and thoughts, do I proclaim the world, the origin of the world, the end of the world and the path leading to the end of the world.”  – Gautama Buddha

The merit of empirical discovery lies in the fact that any revelations ascertained can allegedly be transmitted from person to person, via a systematized set of symbols that instruct any curious, properly equipped person to repeat several of the original apparent causes.  A new experiment is conducted, very much like the old one, and similar results occur again and again.

Here is my experiment.

1. Sit in quiet room, under a tree in a forest, or anywhere that you will not be distracted.

2. Observe your own breath for 10-30 minutes.

3. Repeat once a day for one month to the rest of your life.

By performing this experiment, I have observed the ongoing, moment-to-moment transformation of every single thing that I can possibly use to identify myself – every thought, every sensation, and every emotion.  Even this so-called body shows itself to be a mere intersection of physical behaviors, as I inhale some mass of material I did not previously consider to be myself, and exhale some mass of material that I previously considered to be myself. Patiently observing, I find no independent thing, material, mental, or otherwise, that begins with what we call birth and ends with what we call death.  What I find instead is a confluence of causal processes that shifts and changes with every blink of an eye.

What I am professing is not to be viewed as a truth of physics or biology, though each layer of reduction can be shown to reveal this relationship over and over again on a subtler, more profound level.  A 500BC observer may experience dependent origination in a flower, noticing what occurs when it is deprived of non-flower things like air, sun, and water.  A modern observer may witness this same relationship in a microscope slide of a plant cell growing turgid from contact with a hypotonic solution.  At both points the revelation could be described thusly:  “Hmm.  I call it the same thing when it is like this as I do when it’s like that, in spite of an observable change in empirical properties.  I cease to call it that only after a point in which I no longer appreciate it as that.”  It cannot be overly stressed that what is being offered here is a description of humanity’s relationship with information on the whole, from our observations of the sun and stars to the irreducible nuances of subatomic processes.  This description of the human-information relationship supports the proposition that ideas like birth, death, coming, going, etc., are myths, founded upon the delusion that a living person is a thing (static and independent) and not a process (dynamic and dependent).

The shelf-life of any definite unit of meaning (that chair, this body, those electrons) is precisely one moment, or the amount of time until a change can be observed or measured in the geometry, color, relative position, spin, or any other attribute of that unit.  The absolute use/meaning of a label is tautologically tainted by change, decaying into a class-of-uses/class-of-meanings that inevitably lose appreciated relevance to what is experienced altogether.  It logically follows that any possible sub-stance from which phenomena arise must have “subnatural” properties of both emptiness (of form) and creativity (of forms), since that-which-is-not becomes that-which-is, then becomes that-which-is-not once again.  For instance, K doesn’t absolutely become K’ and then K” any more than a human body becomes its urine, feces, breath, etc.  That which we call object-permanence is, in this process-oriented terminology, a finite set of behaviors that produce an appreciable similarity in observable attributes in a finite spatiotemporal domain.  The moon is “there” in the sky, but not there in the same place and time, and not comprised of identical irreducible components or qualities.  Witnessing, that alleged and hinted-at aspect of consciousness which cannot be reduced to any set of conditions, appears to be the only contender for a persistent condition that precludes all experienced phenomena (including measurements of phenomena that are not directly experienced), possibly leading one to maintain the assertion that it has something in common with the aforementioned creative emptiness.  However, trouble comes in when we try to comprehend those qualities of witnessing that it could possibly have in common with this subnatural emptiness.  Perhaps a parasymbolic, direct experience is the only possible means of achieving a satisfactory answer, since any re-presentation is subject to the same properties of relevance decay as any other formal process.  If such a thing were true, and I happened to be acquainted with this truth, how could I tell you?  This difficulty could explain the incongruence of materialism and idealism, and the apparent unfalsifiability of both.

If you do not agree with any or all of these claims, then please carry out the prescribed experiment for yourself and share your observations with me.  It is not my goal to be right.   It is my goal to learn.

If we cultivate love and peace, there is no way to prevent it from spreading, through our smiles, through our words, and through infinite other channels.  If we cultivate hate and violence, there is no way to prevent it from spreading, through our smiles, through our words, and through infinite other channels.  Acknowledging the subtle streams of causality flowing into and out of our minds, we can see how each of us dwelling peacefully in this moment may benefit all.  This is not a belief.  It is not a belief to say that violent thought leads to violent action, or that narcissism breeds violent thought, or that a feeling such as happiness can be transmitted from person to person.  Rather, these assertions are the result of repeated experimentation and rational deduction.  We carry these experiments out in every moment, when we smile at a co-worker, ask a friend how their day was, or yell at someone for believing differently from us.  Thank you very much.

It may be difficult sometimes, but it is important to retain the distinction between loving your neighbor and hating your neighbor’s enemy.  When a heinous crime is committed, the global internet community is rife with hate and rage against the criminal.  When children are involved, this rage knows no bounds.  We want to protect our children, our nation’s children, maybe even the world’s children.  Our senses become inflamed, and our judgment clouded.  We imagine and speak about the things we would do to that person if we could only get our hands on them.  Suddenly, it’s not so difficult to see what the person who commits acts of violence might be feeling at the time.

We may tell ourselves, “Sure I talk about killing them/maiming them/castrating them, but I’d never do it in a system where there are consequences for your actions.”  In saying that, we admit that fear for ourselves is the only thing that prevents us from being just as violent as the person we hate so much.

When we let go and merely witness our rage, we can watch it mature into something nobler – compassion.  We can directly experience how people can become overwhelmed with anger and grief, even being driven to the point of violence.  We also gain wisdom from watching as our emotions come and go,like miniature seasons, sometimes with a tornado or a snowstorm, but always moving on to a new state.  In this state of pure witnessing, we can help others in a more meaningful way than we could ever accomplish with vengeance, either real or imagined.  Thank you.