On occasion, conversations regarding spirituality go beyond the superficial diatribes of stoned hippies and overt intellectuals overheard by annoyed college students trying to study at their local coffee shop. This evolution produces an intelligent discussion, which inquires into the process of development and methods of sustainability that the ego undergoes in order to establish and preserve some sense of identity, and of course the conversation usually begins with an acknowledgment of the pain and suffering brought about by these inbred processes. Perhaps the most genuine question of all relates back to the first cause, and the seemingly impossible predicament we all find ourselves in. To a certain degree we relate to our relentlessly rational café neighbors, who suggest that life is a game of give and take. If we wish to win we must be willing to lose, which of course implies that a certain degree of suffering is built right into the network of life. On some level it is an easy proposition to accept, because we acknowledge the pain and dissatisfaction present in our own lives. However, when we step outside for a breath of fresh air we find ourselves intuitively agreeing or least wanting to agree with the hippies that litter the lawn in front of the coffee shop. They seem to think that life is not that difficult, and in fact everything is perfect. We are left to ourselves to reconcile these two extremes. If everything is in truth spaciously-energetic how did it come to pass that feel claustrophobically-static? I agree that at times everything seems to fit together, and I want to believe that life isn’t really all that difficult, but at the same time I can never quite shake the feeling that I am missing something. This is what is meant by the impossible predicament, and how this ball got rolling is the subject I wish to address in this article. I do not want to go into detail at this point about the later stages of ego’s development. I will simply focus on the initial conception of a sense of self. All I wish to do is show that the question, “How did this ball start rolling?” presupposes that there is a ball, which may not be the case! If you would like me to go into greater depth about the development of ego in its later stages, let me know in the comment box below.
Before the beginning and after the end there is pure energy. This energy is not one, nor two, but all. Known to us as awareness, this energy manifests in a variety of forms. Images, sounds, tastes, smells, tactile sensations, memories, and feelings –the whole landscape emerges from this ocean of awareness like waves- not distinct or separate from the water in any way, but as a playful manifestation of water. This is the mind of a child. Once we come of age our initiation into society begins with our parental units consistently barking out strange noises as they point fervently at random objects within the vicinity. We soon learn that the object being pointed at is closely associated with the noise being made, so the entire spectrum of experience is shattered into a million things- mommy, daddy, dog, etc. Memory begins to collect not only the words and their intended meanings, but also the governing dynamics of language. At this point everything becomes about forming, or establishing distinct lines of demarcation. In order to form a complete sentence there must be a subject, object, and verbing between the two. So to meet the demands of those pesky adults who continually insist upon us using our words this operating system is booted up more and more, until eventually memory assimilates through repetition to the governing dynamics of language.
Memory’s primary means of communication ceases to be the archetypical symbols characteristic of what we commonly refer to as the sub-conscious. Memory’s modus operandi becomes more conversational and semantic, taking the shape of an internal dialouge. This conditioned assimilation transforms the memory into thinking. Here it is important to note that according to the governing dynamics installed by language in order to think there would need to be a thinker and some-thing to think about. At this point a conceptual crack is imputed upon our worldview, and this crack is the genesis of our discontentment. We begin to experience ourselves as distinct or other than life, and as a result we are left feeling lifeless- without meaning or content. So the belief in a separate “I” is established in relationship to a solid “other”, and overtime these dualistic concepts of self & other are reinforced through repetition, becoming in turn more and more defined. Before too long an egocentric consciousness is firmly established, as thought is charged with the task of censoring and interpreting all incoming information. Thoughts only concern in interpreting information is how it affects the supposed thinker. Once thought has reached a conclusion about the proposed effects of the information at hand this conclusion is then expressed in our behavior. Since these conclusions revolve around our sense of self, and most everyone is caught up in this game, it should be quite obvious that conflict and suffering are the inevitable outcomes, which when fed back into the perceptive system only serve to reinforce the egocentric position, until this position has been reinforced to the point that it is too dense and implodes in on itself.
So when we look closer we realize that nothing is actually wrong or need of repair, simply misunderstood, and when through insight the true nature of thought is discovered the scaffolding upon which suffering is supported comes crumbling down. “I” is little more than a concept committed to memory in order to meet the rules and regulations imposed by language, which themselves are concepts committed to memory. Furthermore, the memory itself is no self; it is little more than a wave of awareness. The whole thing is a giant misunderstanding, a cognitive illusion resulting from thought interpreting itself- a closed loop. In the final analysis nothing has changed. We are still walking around in the garden. Life is spacious and vibrant, and we are in no way separate or cut-off from life, rather we are a wave emerging from an ocean of energy. The only thing that prevents us from directly experiencing this is the belief that it is not true.
This is why meditation is so important. Meditation is not a solution to a problem- it is the recognition that there is no problem. Meditation practice as opposed to being a solution is a questioning of the idea that there is a problem. Sit and breathe. As we simply observe, it is revealed that there is in fact no problem, only a misunderstanding. Insight destroys confusion. In observation all misunderstandings fade away. “In the process of looking seeing will come to an end!”