People’s egos will read this quote by the Buddha and they will primarily imagine themselves in the role of the fool who probably already has their answers but they’re just too dumb to be able to see them. That’s how most of us feel right? Like everyone’s figured out some secret we haven’t?
And it’s true, if we’re living with too much ego then the last sentence does define us. But if that’s true, then it’s irrelevant to getting us where we’re going. If we can’t learn wisdom from someone else, then that means it’s the first part of the statement that we should be focusing on. There’s our lesson from the Buddha.
“Does the spoon taste the soup?” Where does experience happen and to whom? A body can be said to have senses but when you’re anaesthetized at the hospital they put your brain to sleep because that’s where we imagine the dance of experience takes place.
The anaesthesia interrupts our thoughts and without those we are unable to create a self to have the experience of pain. The idea of us only emerges through the duality of the body and mind, but if these are made into One there is no source and no delivery.
The act of acceptance isn’t to be ourselves and accept or reject some other thing, it’s to lose our sense of self and become One with experience, making the question largely irrelevant from the new perspective. As they say in Zen, one does not gain answers, one loses questions.
The famous philosophical question about a tree falling in a forest is also a question about duality. It doesn’t have an answer in the classical sense, instead there is an understanding that manages to flatten the riddle by taking a 1D view over a 2D question.
It might be easier at first to imagine the tree falling and sound waves departing its location and then they strike an eardrum. You can see how sound is dependent on a duality?
It is a wave until it strikes a receiver, who’s biology and biochemistry can turn that wave into a ‘particle’ of sound within our minds. But what if we were there but we weren’t using thought to separate ourselves from reality?
Can we see there could still be the experience within a state of oneness but there would be no separate parts? There wouldn’t be ‘things’ happening ‘somewhere,’ there would just be reality. Before we divided the world into pieces with words there were no waves, there was only the ocean.
The point isn’t to be smart and figure out a riddle, the point is to stop creating our Self and simply be with reality. We’re supposed to flow, not imagine ourselves as a molecule of water asking another molecule of water if they know what a river is. We don’t need to know the river we need to be the river.
Tribes who still live the old ways don’t have separate senses. They don’t hear, feel, see, smell and taste life, they experience it. It is one whole to them and they too are a part of that whole. If life were a giant collage on a church floor, we’d be asking about the individual pieces and the native would only see the whole.
They couldn’t even discuss it as pieces because that would require the words necessary to define a sense of separateness from the experience. To show them our ego-based reality wee would have to have them leave reality to become separate enough to learn to name the parts and then discuss their interactions with other separate people who also know the words for the parts.
Meanwhile in reality, where everything is one, creation would still be there chugging along in the background while our egos all stopped to dip buckets in the river and then name them after the river.
It’s funny, because it’s really so remarkably simple. Little kids do this every day without ever knowing that the words and ideas that we will teach them will divide reality up enough until they’ll eventually have a separate self that they can approve or disapprove of.
But I don’t think anyone reading this needs me to tell them about that. It is often people’s passion for belittling themselves is often what motivated people to read my work in the first place. Fortunately in a 1D world where there are so subjects and objects, there is no source from which those criticisms can come. In peace there is silence within us.
Following a serious childhood brain injury Scott McPherson unwittingly spent his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and the self. This made him as strange to others as they were to him. Seeing the self-harm people created with their own overthinking, Scott dedicated part of his life to helping others live with greater awareness. He is currently a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB, where he finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.