An unusual and beautiful poem about the everyday loss of ego
My stepdaughter and I circle round and round.
You see, I like the music loud, the speakers
throbbing, jam-packing the room with sound whether
Bach or rock and roll, the volume cranked up so
each bass note is like a hand smacking the gut.
But my stepdaughter disagrees. She is four
and likes the music decorous, pitched below
her own voice-that tenuous projection of self.
With music blasting, she feels she disappears,
is lost within the blare, which in fact I like.
But at four what she wants is self-location
and uses her voice as a porpoise uses
its sonar: to find herself in all this space.
If she had a sort of box with a peephole
and looked inside, what she’d like to see would be
herself standing there in her red pants, jacket,
yellow plastic lunch box: a proper subject
for serious study. But me, if I raised
the same box to my eye, I would wish to find
the ocean on one of those days when wind
and thick cloud make the water gray and restless
as if some creature brooded underneath,
a rocky coast with a road along the shore
where someone like me was walking and has gone.
Loud music does this, it wipes out the ego,
leaving turbulent water and winding road,
a landscape stripped of people and language-
how clear the air becomes, how sharp the colors.
The body-mind is simply an object. There’s no-one in there. It’s just a mechanism that works. It’s an organism that grows up and works and is conditioned and has feelings, thoughts, preferences and habits that go on, and there’s no-one in there doing that. That is simply oneness arising as a body-mind organism which is, in a way, a divine puppet in that it just responds and reacts to whatever’s going on without any self-volition. However, there is no puppeteer. There is no script, no plan, no destiny, no fate … it is all timeless being appearing as something seeming to happen.
You can neither search nor give up searching. Searching will happen of its own accord until it stops. If you try to give up searching, you will search for a method to give up searching.
“Award winning film makers Boris and Claire Jansch go on a journey to unravel what it means to be alive. What if the search for happiness was based on a huge misconception, a misconception that has been drummed into us since birth, that we are separate individuals.
This radical and challenging documentary ventures into the heart of the mystery of identity, flipping the idea of spiritual endeavour on its head, revealing a message so profound and yet so simple that it might just end the search.”
Liberation is freedom from the burden of being a
person who apparently has to make choices and
decisions; choices and decisions which have con-
sequences. What a wonderful relief it is to see that
there is no choice, no person, no separation. Noth-
ing you have ever done has ever led to anything
because you have never done anything. No one has
ever done anything although it appears that things
have been done.
Isn’t it wonderful that you have never made a
choice in your life? There is nothing to regret, noth-
ing to feel guilty about. Nothing could ever have
been any different, nothing could ever have been
any other way. Isn’t that a relief? Nothing matters.
There is nowhere to go. There is nothing that has
to be done. There is no meaning and no morality.
There is no help and no hope. You can let it all
go, you can release all the tension. You can begin
to enjoy the wonder of hopelessness and the gift
of meaninglessness. You can begin to enjoy your
In liberation it is seen that nothing has any
meaning, it is simply what it is. The story does not
stop. The story continues but now it is seen that
it is just a story. All the passions of your apparent
life are just stuff happening. The conflicts, the loves,
the struggles for control and power, the victories
and defeats are simply phenomena arising in one-
ness and falling away again with no meaning at all.
Nothing has any more significance than anything
else or could ever be greater or lesser. The Trojan
war and a glass of beer are equal.
Except, of course, to the mind.
We see a rainbow, but what we have is drops of rain and light—a process. Similarly, what we ‘see’ is a self; but what we actually have is a whole lot of thoughts going on in consciousness. Against the backdrop of consciousness we are projecting a self, rather than a rainbow. If you walk toward the rainbow you will never get there.
David Bohm, Thought as a System
I had posted this wonderful quote from Bohm several years ago; I now feel I have understood something new about it.
A whole lot of thoughts going on in consciousness. To this, Bohm would probably add, there are a whole lot of feelings floating around too. On top of which there is a subtle sense of self fleetingly dancing in there somewhere; and it is this sense of self, which is in essence a thought/feeling, that somehow seems to anchor all the other stuff that floats around in consciousness.
Try as we might, we cannot pin it down; the rainbow simply cannot be found, for it is ultimately an optical illusion. For this reason, probably, Ramana insisted that we try to find out the “I” thought. Seek and ye shall not find, for it is fundamentally illusory.
I absolutely love this metaphor: drops of rain and light posing as a solid self. Drops of thoughts and emotions. Can we merely see them as drops of light, sun, rain? Nothing else is required.
I have just begun a very exciting book, Nonduality, by David Loy. It is a philosophical analysis of three major non-dual philosophical systems: Advaita Vedanta, Taoism and Buddhism. It explores notions such as nondual perception and action in a rigorous and yet readable manner. Though is is primarily an academic work, it has already in a couple of chapters opened up some “real-life” philosophical puzzles that have haunted me for some time now!
I came across it in Joan Tollifson’s reading list, which is a rich source for books in the non-duality ballpark.
Very excitingly, the author himself has uploaded the book as a scanned copy here. Please read for a sophisticated and exciting glimpse into the most profound philosophical traditions on the planet!