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.
“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.
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!
As Sam Harris puts it, the illusion of free will is itself an illusion.
When we observe our thoughts, we see that they float up and pop up into our consciousness. We are not creating our thoughts. In fact, we cannot know what our next thought and emotion might be.
The present is a deep mystery.
This is what the great masters of non-duality were struggling to convey: that there is no central controller organising itself and the world. Stuff happens, and “we” lay a layer over it and make ourselves the protagonists of our narratives.
A truly liberating insight.
Our minds are so eternally busy constructing schemes for self-improvement, happiness, enlightenment, that we fail to notice the ever present moment and the reality that shines behind it.
We cannot try to be more aware, to grasp the present better. When we try to do so, we fall into the same trap of improving the self.
We could instead notice that there is no one in here who could possibly become better in any way.