Friday, 17 December 2010
Since I Could Distinguish Betwixt a Benefit and an Injury, I Never Found Man that Knew How to Love Himself.
It seems a lot of people are very fond of the ego, identity, or whatever we want to call it today. They like the limitation. They are fond of the story of their life, their loved ones, their trials and tribulations and challenges. The struggle is appealing. The sense of "something is missing" lends an apparently meaningful search to their existence. They grieve when loved ones die, and wonder at how this body before them could at one moment be alive and animated, and in the next moment that same lump of flesh could be as lifeless as a stone. They savour the mystery. They despair of the point of it all. They are mesmerised by the story in time. They take comfort in such words as these, picking and choosing, taking from the message that our true nature is immortal that "our true nature" means the bundle of causes and conditions that make up the identity. The identity dies. It can die apparently "before" the body does. All those things that seem so important in the story can at once become meaningless, and this fills the identity with despair. Pointlessness is seen, and despised.
But what is often missed is that all those causes and conditions, whatever they are, however the mind interprets them, whatever the heart feels about them, that make up this moment, whatever its quality and flavour, is the face of immortality. Immortality is now, and life and its apparent accompanying story is not reliant on any particular outcomes. Whatever seems to be, is. Whatever seems to be, can be relished. The loved ones and the valued projects are not abandoned, or perhaps they are. The seeming unfolding and the form it takes is not what is important; simply that it is, is what matters. Every bit of the mirror is a miracle. Grief is a gift, from existence to existence. Duality is a gift, the illusion of reality is to be enjoyed. And if it is not, that is a gift too. None of it need be understood.
When ideologies and personal comfort do not matter, the story of war is most unlikely. If ambition and power do not matter, the tale of greed ceases. When the welfare of yourself and your family doesn't matter, the story of enslavement and jealousy and envy is at an end. If your identity doesn't matter, the end of the story can be anything. When nothing matters, everything is possible. Yet none of this is guaranteed. Whatever unfolds, unfolds, including the story of living too much in thought, resistant of pain, afraid of privation, and needing the phantom self to be validated. There is nothing wrong with anything that is. The ego can take comfort in this, or despair; it matters not; both are the face of limitlessness. And who knows, the story might actually seem to go a lot "better".
Two clips today. The first is from the superb Hotel Rwanda, the scene where Joaquin Phoenix, playing a photographer, tells the owner of the hotel just what happens when the west is confronted with news of tragedy in the safety of their living rooms. The second is from Beyond Rangoon, set in Burma shortly after the military refused to honour Aung San Suu Kyi's election as leader. The actress playing Aung San Suu Kyi (a New Yorker named Adelle Lutz, and David Byrne's wife) shows that man's inhumanity to man is not necessarily the norm. The heroes are the soldiers. We need both humanity and inhumanity each for the other to exist, however unpalatable that may seem. Sit back and let it all unfold.