Awareness: How does that Relate to Life?
[thoughts of a ~burning woman~ Sha'Tara]
Awareness: to see oneself in relation to everything else. To be certain of this: that "I" am an individual, not just a temporary flung out piece of a whole to be re-absorbed by that whole eventually.
The sense of selfhood we gain in awareness has been compared by would-be teachers of this age to a drop of water that eventually returns to the sea to be absorbed by it. Some of these would-be teachers even go on, and at length, about how wonderful such a state is and how we should all be working towards this goal of "nothingness" with all that is. I hope they attain their goal because they are ignorant and confused people who take advantage of even more ignorant and confused ones. For if all that has individuated returns to nothingness, best guess is, there wasn't any "all that is" to begin with and it was all over before it all began.
And the point would be?
Life can only know itself through individuation and simple observation tells us that life expands (grows or evolves) from individuation. Certainly, there are those individual entities who, whether of choice or programming, join to form a complex entity. Cells in a human body, for example. But these cells do not become "one" and neither does the body. I've never seen a group of people come together in separate bodies to form one physical whole. I have, however, seen many people form groups in which they express how important their individuality is to them. I have also observed them leaving group after group to return to their individual lives. So, what is the strongest: the individual or the group? Say a person belongs to a group, any group, are the thoughts of that person primarily group oriented, or individual oriented? Does that individual always thing "group" first in any situation?
Obviously there are many levels of self-awareness. To me, becoming aware is to realize that I walk down infinite corridors of time and beyond, criss-crossing past and future at the edge of consciousness. These corridors are filled with "echoes" and many are the lost wandering among the siren songs. One must remain super-alert in these places; blocking out the seductive echoes through the practice of self-empowerment and detachment.
What are those echoes that so powerfully attract the passing pilgrim? They are the imprints of time upon the mind; the ones which resonate with the "soul." Here are a few names given those echoes: God, creation, evolution, civilization, tradition, history and lesser ones such as faith, science, education, race, nation, tribe, family. This can be a long list.
The echoes never change their tones. They repeat quasi endlessly down the corridors of time. But life is change. When something happens to a piece of itself rendering that no longer viable or meaningful, life abandons it. Remember the dinosaurs. Neanderthal man. The great civilizations of Sumer, Egypt, the Indus valley, Minoan Greece. Remember the great faiths and great gods once so much a living part of the people's world: all gone except for the travesties of pseudo-history and silent deities worshipped in moldy temples for whatever goodies it is still hoped they may yet deign to bestow on the faithful.
In Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus plugs the ears of his crewmen and has himself tied securely to the mast of the ship to pass through the land of the Sirens. To fall for their sweet music is to die. How he struggled, how he screamed for a crewman to untie him and how he suffered in his madness until the ship had safely gone beyond human hearing of the false music.
So it is with the echoes of time. To listen to them, to allow one's feelings and emotions to engage them, is to die. For the echoes are but sound shadows of things that have failed or worn out. There is no life in anything that has already been tried and has not passed the test of life; that has not chosen, or been able to, morph itself or mutate into something new and improved. Life's motto: If you will not improve yourself you will become extinct.
Here's an example of an echo of time. A man and woman are looking for a new house. They come from the city to our valley and for the first time, really see the beauty of the mountains. They find a subdivision overlooking the Cheam range, for example, and taken in by their momentary feelings of awe, spend twice as much as they need to buy a house with a view. What they fail to realize is, within a few months, or years, they won't even notice that view anymore. But the mortgage holder won't lower the price of the house because of it. You no longer benefit but you continue to pay.
[quote] "A fat rat-like thing with six legs ventured nearer the bush. Instantly a black cord whipped through the damp air and wrapped around the squealing prey. [...] Evolution was still at work, pruning failures from the gene pool with unblinking patience." (Beyond the Fall of Night - Arthur C. Clark and Gregory Benford)
The pruning never ends. When I engage the topic of man's future on this world there is a general consensus, whether addressing a spiritual person, or not, that something terrible lies just ahead for the planet, certainly for man. But what I find strange, and probably should not, is the so-little concern expressed about this pruning, or what my people refer to as the great die-back.
Is Earthian man (Homo sapiens) innately aware that he has failed to respond to the call of evolution (life's call for change) and he must be eliminated as a player in Earth's future? Does he simply accept without any struggle the price of quasi-annihilation (the pruning) as preferable to the sacrifice demanded to mutate into a viable form required by the future?
Or is he just too caught up in his hubris; too enamored of his gods or too seduced by his technology to give his certain demise more than a passing thought?
For your consideration, here's a possible definition of life: Individuality becoming aware of and learning to interact positively with all other individuality.
Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis
(from the Jewish Buddhist)