David Whyte says we all enter this world reluctantly. Where is this? What is this? This is not what I ordered! As our primal scream emanates from somewhere beyond as we get the medical life-giving slap that is supposedly good for us from first breath to last.
I was not born cautious; it was built into me. I was predisposed, no doubt. A latent allergy to courage perhaps. There is no beginning or end to it, that is the good fortune.
There is no beginning or end to it because we come from the unborn. Yes, of course we are born in the conventional sense. It is crazy, “they” might say to think we are a consciousness unborn. It is “sane” to say that we are simply a mechanical assembly of consciousness components that rose up from the first amoeba, and are simply the end result of a consciousness cache flowing out of the cosmic slot machine.
We are the result of our parents, surely. But are we not also from some beyond? Even if we were to attempt to limit our extent to a result from a biological mating, could it not also be argued that we are a combinant effect that no list of elements of both of our parents, and their parents, and their parents, could define?
In a sense, these questions are easily answered, by simple affirmations: “Yes!” and “Yes!” In another sense, these questions have no answer. As it should be. Any definite answer is a limit too harshly placed, an aggression of expediency. An expediency so myopic on a target moving so fast as to make the label moot before it is fully articulated.
My current spiritual director cautions repeatedly against glomming onto any definitions. They all fall short of the infinite kaleidoscope of what is going on that ephemeral smokiness whose substance is continually slipping away; they all fall short of our capacity to sense further nuance into the ever-increasing fullness of our experiences.
We choose definition as an expression of our longing for precision. And for a moment, it might even work. But then, there is a further moment, and a further, and at some point, along these clacking celestial train tracks, pain and suffering will ensue when we do not birth ourselves into new life beyond our established and so well constructed definitions.
Consider, even science. We view it as a concrete bedrock. We have constructed it, and it is reliably verifiable, or at least so the mantra goes. Without even getting into quantum physics, which promises that the observer changes the physicality of things merely by just observation, we can consider the history of science as a work in progress that has no possible means of static representation. It is constantly growing, constantly changing; more ways of knowing and gathering, and tools thereof change our view of even the smallest components of this world, right up to the largest quasi-stellar events. Science as a bedrock? It’s more like water. Go ahead, try and hold the flowing stream in your hands.
But there we are with our definitions. It’s all very complex. When untangling complex systems, one method is to start, even stick, with a simpler model. What could be simpler than the great matter of life and death?
The first un-entanglement to make, which I hinted at the beginning of this piece, is that all these so called “systems’ are more than a system. They are not mechanical pieces in a great Rube Goldberg device, although it is so fascinating to think so, and follow the ball falling from the mousetrap into the bathtub with a hole in it, and depress the lever which moves the gears, which draw the pulley to our inevitable trilling of “Ta-da!” when the proscribed operations are complete.
But what then? What do we find when all our postulations fall short? We are left embarrassingly in empty space. Space which has been historically filled by all sorts of mystical systems from astrology to Egyptology, to Madame Blavatsky, to George Gurdjieff. Some of these, not to be dismissed, because they give us systematic ways to disambiguate ourselves from system-like thinking.
God bless all those who are so blessed to participate and ennoble such systems. But in a broken world, is there hope for all to reach into the towers, and delve deep into the caverns below them, each on their own?
Probably not. But there is always hope that we are more than the less we are presumed to be. We come from the unborn. Looking into that directly, we can see.