When I don’t think about being damaged. I move through life, productive for a time, perhaps even confident. I forget myself. My fears are like flies that can be dusted off without any genuine interruption or consideration. I don’t even realize that I am repressing my feelings, it’s involuntary. It keeps me functional in that vaguely inhuman way that human being’s exist. Then I start to wear out, to feel uneasy, to get angry. In the beginning I don’t even realize that I am angry. I think what’s going on with everyone today? Why are they being so unreasonable? Then I start to collapse under the weight of all those pent up emotions. I think why I am still traumatized? I have a different life now. I am free. I don’t have to live in fear but I continue to live life as if the war were still raging (I have taken the war with me, I have become the war).
In a recent talk I viewed with Alan Watts he said “Now is the creative point of life” Like Merlin we actually live in reverse, our experience of now creates the past. We can’t blame the past for anything that happens today because we are the ones creating the values of the past. I thought about this and thought about this, for perhaps 10 good minutes and while I slept I am sure lol I think he is on to something but I can only parrot what he’s said at the moment.
I agree that healing comes through connection. I think that making your world safer makes you more paranoid. I think people who are traumatized that talk about it and bond recover in a way people who deny/exclude never do.
Then I started to think about the ego. The concept of the ego has always alluded me. I understand the concept of illusions and denial. I know very well that the world I perceive bares little resemblance to life at a quantum level and that the world I perceive is different than the world perceived by my ancestors and even by my neighbors (ask 10 people to describe a poem you’ve written you’ll get 10 answers). I do not think I know everything or that my view is absolute/correct/all inclusive. I do not think reality is a concrete thing that can be defined and cataloged in any particularly useful way. There is a limit to what our senses can communicate and a limit to what are brains can cope with at any give moment. As a child I could not cope with being abused so I created an alternate space for myself, a pocket, so that I could survive alongside the horrors. The ego is a useful albeit glitchy construct and as long as we inhabit mortal bodies I do not see how we could realistically dispose of it. I do not see how we could convince ourselves that we do not exist or how that would be useful.
This is where it gets tricky. I believe our beliefs shapes reality (I’d go so far as to say we are creators). As I said before whenever I repress or deny any aspect of myself it creates disease. In order to accept oneself can you really deny the existence of that self? I am not suggesting that we are separate, that our actions have no consequence, that we live in a bubble. You are me. I am you. I am sure anyone who has hurt themselves has seen the devastating impact that can have on family and friends. Yes other people take our pain personally. When I claim to hate myself, the people who love me are invariably insulted/wounded. How dare I hate someone so precious? And what does my hating myself say about them? About their judgment? Their value as human beings? The point is we simply cannot escape our connection to each other, so I deduce that we are each other. No one is alone, it is simply not possible to be alone. We are the universe, the universe is not alone. I also think if you look at beings we think of as non sentient long enough you will either imagine them sentient or realize that they are in fact sentient, but it is irrelevant the manner in which they gain sentience. Look at ants. They seem so uniform, so militant but there is always an ant that goes off does a little jig, stares at a rock for 20 minutes and then mysteriously and without fanfare returns to the regime. For a few minutes each day that ant was not a machine, he/she was something else, he/she had a private life, he/she had whims, he/she was chaos.
However, I still do not understand the point of getting rid of ego. Yes yes ego is suffering I have heard that before. The ego says this is unpleasant. I do not like this experience. Sometimes that has value, sometimes the experience is legitimately dangerous. Sometimes we are avoiding something necessary even essential to our growth and development. But if the ego is what conceives suffering. Then suffering is not suffering but experience and if the point is to learn, to grow then why are we are seeking to alleviate discomfort and disappear? Isn’t that just the ego talking? Yes there has to be some way to deduce the legitimate danger from the fear but I think we can do that better by opening up to all that we are, rather than pruning bits away. Failure is necessary so is there really any point or any merit to perfection, to establishing absolutes? What do we learn from that? So what I am saying is uncertainty is perhaps the only certainty. That sometimes we will push away an opportunity and sometimes we will step on a landmine and that is exactly what we are supposed to be doing, fumbling around. Which is better for learning the landmine or the opportunity? Who can say? Ask ego (j/k). Seriously though if belief creates reality then we created ego. We created the limitations it imposes. We convinced ourselves that the only way to know anything/anyone is to label it/them, rather to coexist with it/them.
Anyhow this is what I like about Shinto (I like many things about Buddhism too btw). Shinto does not even have perfect gods, the gods themselves are flawed as it should be. There is nothing wrong with being human. We are essentially good. Nothing negative that happens to us makes us bad even if it clouds our perceptions for a time. In Shinto it gives us permission to suffer and rejoice and that is life. If we are here now in these human bodies shouldn’t we humble ourselves to that experience and all that it entails even if we do not fully comprehend it?
We are always thinking what’s next? Tell me teacher what is the point? What is my reward for completing this lesson? I don’t know about you but I have never finished a lesson in my life. I have never said “Great now I know everything there will ever be to know about math!” or “Woot now I know every word in the English language!” Never happened. I remain a student, even when I teach I am a student first. I think that is why Shinto is concerned with life more than death.
When I was around 10 it occurred to me that I would die. I wasn’t sure what I believed would happen in the after life, if there was an after life, but the realization was frightening. I didn’t want to stop “being”. I cried and agonized over this realization for a long time and then…I had an epiphany.
If nothing happens after death: We can only be aware of ourselves when we are alive and while we might perceive the moment of dying, we can’t perceive being dead.
If reincarnation then we have not died simply exchanged one life for another.
If heaven/hell exists we have simply moved to another plane of existence
If we rejoin the universe then I expect we are neither alive nor dead but something like the Tao and thus any fear of not being is completely and utterly irrelevant. Which to me is similar to the ego, it is irrelevant. Sometimes we do see beyond into something else and sometimes we see only as far as the end of our nose and that is so.
Well I have more ridiculous musings but I will leave it there for now and with this video