Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Thank God I can't have everything I want.

What do we see when we look upon all that surrounds us from the vantage point of our two eyes? There's my nose, the tops of my cheeks; my body sits below, arms and hands stretched out before me, fingers quickly typing these thoughts.

When I think about the astonishingly vast inner workings of the complex vessel that is my body, it makes it all the more ridiculous to believe that I am my mind and my thoughts. Try this thought on for size: the voice in your head, that of The Thinker, is just one among your brain's many functions. You don't call your iPhone "Siri" just because that's the function that can respond to you verbally and processes verbal requests. Nope, you know that your iPhone has an infinitely larger capacity to access the world of information. So do you.

Considering that our minds and thoughts are subject to change, and influenced by factors as simple, straightforward, and chemical as food and sleep, why then have I spent so much of my life hinged to something so discursive, passing, and transient as thoughts? What affect has identifying with my thoughts had on so many of my experiences and relationships?

The body enables my life experience and all of my connections, yet it can separate me from my experiences, and from others if I identify myself as The Thinker. The Thinker would like me to believe that I am just a voice contained in my body, and that the way I see things is the way things actually are, because that reinforces its own importance and guarantees its own survival. 

But consider for a moment that you'll never be able to see your own face, with your own eyes, in all of its three dimensional glory! Who are you and why are you so sure of yourself if you never will, and never have, so much as set eyes on your own face? Our viewpoints are limited. We must respect that.

Lots of lessons come of all this mind-boggelry. One lesson that I've been trying to experience as much as possible is to see other human beings, animals, and elements of nature as subjects, not objects. There is boundless substance in everything we look upon. Nothing is simply "what meets the eye." 

When I remember not to take everything that I see at its face value, not to flatten anyone else into one dimension, it reminds me to react more slowly and with more compassion. This creates more time and space in my experiences with my surroundings and with others. It increases my respect for my own vast complexity, while increasing my respect for the complexity of every aspect of my external world. When I stop flattening myself into a one dimensional view and voice, I also pause before objectifying others in this way. I take what they say with less gravity; I make a greater attempt to acknowledge the whole of who they are.

When we are in this state of knowing, when the Knowing mind, the God mind, the Soul, succeeds in being louder than the Egoic mind, The Thinker, the incessant voice that's always coming up with perspectives, opinions, and contradictions, there is less static, less conflict, less irritation, and less neediness. 

It's the needs that get me. Need to be warmer, need to elsewhere, need to be understood, need to be right. Need to be cool, need to be liked, need to be loved, need to be forgiven. Need to be seated, need to be served, need to be needed, oh God! The list could go on for a lifetime -- and that's exactly what I don't want to happen. I want to practice counteracting this tendency to follow every little thing my mind says, and I want to practice it now, before I've followed a lifetime of perceived needs to all the shitty places they'd love to take me.

Because most of our needs aren't really needs; they're just wants. And thank God I can't have everything I want. I'd be an absolute monster if I could. I'd probably just trample everyone; spend my life endlessly showboating in anticipation of a resounding applause; justify every tantrum, every shitty mood influenced by too much sugar or too little sleep. I don't want to be that person: ruled and fueled by my ego. Whenever I remember to be aware of the limitations of my singular viewpoint and experience, my ego lessens in volume and prevalence. Those are better moments of a better me.

Happy birthday (yesterday) to the late and eternally amazing Alan Watts, and happy birthday (today) to my incredibly amazing friend Ben, who I admire so much. Ben linked me to the video that I'd like to share, below. I've become a YouTube subscriber of HDvids101, the creator of this gorgeous video illustration to accompany this Alan Watts lecture (and others on the HDvids101 channel). I'm thankful for the wealth of knowledge that is so easily and freely accessible to us here in 2014! Please enjoy this inspiring Watts talk that discusses some of this which I've written about today, plus so much more, more clearly and eloquently than I can yet, but aspire to someday!

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