We now know we are animals biologically speaking. However, do we really feel we are, or do we understand this as mostly an abstract factoid. Catching the flue for the ‘first time’ in my life may (or may not?) offer an example of the how thought can separate us from feeling our animal-ness fully.
Claiming that I caught the flue for the first time must surely be untrue, but up until now I never ‘knew’ the difference between a cold and the flue. I’ve heard of flue shots and the danger of catching flues, like the bird flue of a few years ago. However, whenever I came down with fluey symptoms I ‘knew’ I just had a cold. Do you see where I’m heading with this?
No? Here’s another example. Up until about 30 years ago I’d never been depressed. I’d heard about people being depressed; I just ‘knew’ I’d never experience it myself. After my six month long episode of intense, day and night work on the correlations I experienced depression for the first time in my life. But was that really the first time? Like never having caught the flue, never feeling depression until then was most improbable.
I had felt bad at various times throughout my life up until those ‘first times’; I just never knew exactly. A bad time would eventually revolve back to a good one until the next bad one came around again. It felt as natural as, It is on disaster that good fortune perches; It is beneath good fortune that disaster crouches. Of course the cognitive experience of any animal, other than human, would not even have thoughts of ‘good’ and ‘bad’ with which to label the experience. Even so, not attaching a specific label to my experience was more animal-like than otherwise. A more murky (like muddy water) sense of being gives the mind less to dwell upon.
These two experiences exemplify chapter 32, As soon as there are names, one ought to know that it is time to stop. Giving a name to the experience increases the difficulty. Instead of blending in with the forever nameless uncarved block, naming those experiences just ‘hardens the glare, hones the sharpness, opens the door, and ties the knots’.
Evidently stopping at the ‘murky’ side of cognition is not usually what people appear to want. (Or when they do, they crack open a bottle of pop a pill). Most people find no peace of mind until their experience becomes a name that can be named. Although, to be honest, I suppose that’s why I ponder my observations. Writing about all this is just another way of naming ‘it’. Although, on the other hand, I’m always looking for mysterious sameness in order to blur distinctions. What I’m doing sounds a lot like chapter 36. To paraphrase: If you would have a thing blurred, you must first clarify it. Indeed, I suppose that is what everyone is doing.
To summarize, our mind’s space obviously needs to be filled. After all, Nature abhors a vacuum. So we name ‘it’, and think and speak about ‘it’ to fill that space. Okay, so far so good. The difficulties come when we seriously believe what we think. As one of my favorite chapter puts it: