Being surrounded by death is life when your dreams are different,
being surrounded by life is death when your dreams are eternal.
Just be between life and death…
This CenterTao member’s reply brought Schrödinger’s cat to mind! Google [Schrödinger’s Cat – minutephysics]. What do you think?
Yes, I see it that way. I find that we are attracted to the point-of-view that best reflects how we need to see the world at that time. For a time the Bhagavad Gita served as my perceptual cornerstone. As my needs changed, its usefulness waned. Although, it reflects one way of seeing things that still appeals to me – just not as deeply. The Tao Te Ching grew to be my perceptual cornerstone. Then along came the ‘day and night mare’ of correlations.
That set my mind adrift and it ain’t getting any better. 🙄 Does that mean ‘blowing your mind’ with correlations is a bad thing? That’s unanswerable now because good and bad have become a blur in mysterious sameness. My perceptual cornerstone seems to have no corners or stone.
It is interesting that I can neither recommend nor caution against moving into a mental space which is ‘indistinct and shadowy‘. Perhaps because the question is irrelevant. The mental space we occupy is the one we need to occupy. No will, free or otherwise, is involved as far as I can tell. In each moment, we end up where we need to be. I blame gravity.
Thanks for that. I ran out of time thinking of a reply last week. But here I am back now.
Maybe I see a difference between your approach of placing less trust in opposites, and the “model” I have, which I think is a Zen one. Although as I write this down, I’m beginning to wonder if maybe the differences are just in the terminology:
I have noticed that there is more than one way my mind can work, and it is only in one mode that all these opposites exist. This is the one that uses words to think, most of the time about itself in relation to the world. And it seems like the regular way, not least because it’s the only one that speaks up for itself.
But sometimes if I try or if something happens, it can switch off, or at least move into the background. What replaces it is another kind of thinking, that brings with it a view of the world which I don’t think sees things in terms of opposites.
I don’t think it sees things in terms of similarities either though. It just doesn’t have time for comparisons.
(I wonder if I can make a comparison without using words in my head. I ought to try and see.)
One noticeable effect this has is that I act and come up with ideas in a spontaneous fashion. I don’t seem to get in my own way.
Now this sounds a bit like your “loosing faith in opposites” and gaining “taith in mysterious sameness”. What do you think about that?
I can see ways in which they may be different.
(By the way, thanks for sorting out the wysiwyg editor Luke)
Great questions! How will my reply measure up? Oh well, here goes. I’d say Tao’s yin and yang describe how minds tends to work, i.e., contrast stimulates neurons which produce perception (true of all living things). That doesn’t mean what we perceive truly reflects what is actually there (“objective existence”). Our species has attached words and names to those perceptions, which in turn allow us to think our thoughts. Left at that, everything would be just fine. We run into difficulty as we go on to believe what we think and then to think that we know.
I find that to be the case, though it is not that the mind is different. Rather, it is the emotional trust one places in what the mind ‘thinks’ it perceives and knows. The less you trust this, the less “opposites” dominate perception. As trust in the mind’s certainty wanes, faith in mysterious sameness waxes. Trust, faith? Put another way, when trust shifts away from seeing reality in opposites, it must (by default I suppose) shift towards seeing reality in similarities. It all boil down to which you trust, opposites or similarities. With trust in the later, contentment in how things are become easier, for even if things change, they are still the ‘same’. It is odd, but that’s another story.
Zen’s “world of opposites” is referring to how our mind works, how it forms concepts (including, I suppose, the concept of reality). Would you agree with that characterization? Our conscious, conceptualizing mind grasps amd works only with relations, no absolutes: dark-light, good-bad, desire-contentment. Duality.
What about the Tao’s yin and yang, the prototype of opposites – is that talking about the same dualism in our head, or in Taoism do those opposites have an objective existence of their own, outside of the mental realm?
It’s difficult to think about reality stripped of all discussion of our own conception of it. So, to put my question another way: If one’s mind were different, in such a way, might it be possible that to that mind, the world is not made up of opposites?
Or is that impossible or nonsensical from a Taoist point of view? Is the world really full of opposites, and any conscious mind will always discern that?
Two steps forward, one step back, or vice versa. Anyway, I’ll take another crack at the cat.
Did I say worship? It not an issue of “worshiping”; it is the issue of seeking an “ideal”, which sounds in your case like the ideal of spontaneity. As for “worrying”, call it concern, an urge to seek a solution. All animals feel this and react to fix whatever problem they feel they have. The difference is they don’t “think” they have a problem. However, they “feel” they have a problem. It is in the “feeling” that the angst resides, not in the thinking that accompanies it in the case of our species. We just “think” we are different from other animals.
All animals experience the ‘grass is greener’ instinct/syndrome. It is what keeps life on the move seeking the ‘greener pastures’ that promise enhanced survival. Zen is simply another of humanity’s myths that mirror the ‘grass is greener’ instinct. In Zen’s case, the ‘greener grass’ is spontaneity. It is a very appealing hoodwink I’ll admit, especially for those of us for whom the God hoodwink falls flat.
Luke Abbott says
Hmm. I guess Papa went in and stuck some paragraph breaks into your post. The problem lies in the edit plugin program. It offered some better formatting but fails in other ways. So back to the original plain text editor.
As a self-conscious aside, all the carriage returns in my posts now seem to be being stripped out. And my paragraphs run into each other. I don’t think I’m doing anything different from last week. Any ideas webmaster?
Watching myself, being self-conscious, is not necessarily what I would call “worrying”. The reason for wanting to wind down the watching is that it is the antithesis of spontaneity. For me, wanting to spend some time being spontaneous, being “in the zone”, not watching myself, and not watching myself watching myself, is not worshiping an “ideal”.
It is eminently practicable and brings with it an entirely different result than simply seeing another side of things. It is not like attaining other goals: Once there, since I’m not watching myself, I am no longer interested in the goal, how well I’m doing, what goal to seek next. There is no other side that beckons. The grass is not greener anywhere else, because all comparison ceases.(*) When I am able to be spontaneous I find I am more capable, more alive (the only way I can describe it) and fun to be around it would appear. And when I’m back to being self-conscious, I find I that I am self-conscious in a more muted and altogether more relaxed and helpful way.
(*) Is that too Zen? The first near match I can find in the Tao Te Ching is in Chapter 2:Therefore the sage keeps to the deed that consists in taking no action and practises the teaching that uses no words.”no action” I take to mean acting spontaneously, not acting with a conscious purpose. And “using no words” is exactly what I’m writing about (sic – LOL)
What makes you think that? Perhaps you are holding onto an ideal paradise where “there’s no watching”. How is this any different from the widely held ideal of a Heaven where there’s no suffering. I sense such fantasies arise from what we feel to be missing, and so hunger after.
This is curious in that if you were truly missing something, like starving to death, freezing to death, dying of thirst, etc., you would likely have no thought of anything missing other than food, warmth, or water, etc.
This brings me to suspect that we inherit ‘potential worry energy’, the degree of which varies between individuals. Our emotion will find a suitable something to focus that energy on. When we are relatively safe and comfortable what is that innate ‘worry’ emotion going to do? Find something ‘wrong’! Does not this “watching” fill the bill for you? Ironically, for another, “not watching” would be the ‘wrong’ to fill their bill.
Perhaps to put it another way: It is as though you’re a butterfly wishing you could “watch”, if as a butterfly you could “watch” such a wish. Butterflies fly; minds “watch”, and naturally so.
I guess what you are saying is that thinking about reality is as much a reality as anything else? Well … what I think I meant by being “in direct touch with reality” was kind of just “doing”, rather than thinking about what I’m doing, or what I should do.When I was in “direct touch” running around with the kids, working out when to swerve and which way to jump, I wasn’t thinking “I’m in direct touch with reality”. I only did that later, when I was no longer acting spontaneously. As soon as I start reflecting “this is fun”, “this is living” I guess I’m not longer in direct contact – I’m watching myself rather than looking at what is in front of me.I think in that sense, that what I mean by being in “direct touch” is more like being in the middle of the river, in the flow. Doesn’t matter which side of the river you are on, you are still watching the river rather than swimming or floating in it. Watching with a glad heart on one bank, watching with a worried heart on the other. But swimming in the river, there’s no watching.
I’ve notice that being in “direct touch with reality” and “pondering the nature of life and death” are two banks of the same river (two ends of the same seesaw, two sides of the same coin, etc). Don’t we long to float in the river, be at the fulcrum, hold the coin, etc?
Now then, perhaps we already are. It is just that we think we are not. Why? Perhaps the hunter-gatherer instinct drives us to keep looking for that greener grass where we ‘will’ find the next tasty morsel.
We dream of a ‘golden mean’ as we swing to and fro. Perhaps the swinging is the ‘golden mean’. It is just that nature blinds all living things to the ‘big picture’ so life will work, i.e., to keep life hopping along seeking survival.
Paddling in winter is enough to put me in direct touch with reality (my aim) – my feet get so cold it makes my teeth hurt.
But I also did play tag on the beach with the kids. That was even more effective at hoodwinking me into ceasing to ponder the nature of life (and death, if we must).
But not for long!
Carl Abbott says
“paddle my feet in the cold ocean”? Don’t stop there… jump in! We go down to do yoga and tai chi every other day or so and jump in afterward. I especially enjoy floating on my back and looking up at the blue sky imitating green blue algae.
“When I hear of Schrödinger’s cat I reach for my gun.” (Stephen Hawking)
Interestingly – to me, and hopefully causing no offense to others – ny initial reaction on reading the post was to resolve to go down to the beach tomorrow morning and paddle my feet in the cold ocean.