[Saturday, January 21, 2006]
So perhaps I should work. Disappointing yesterday that I couldn’t really get my head right to start – and I think I knew it ahead of time….
All right. We have spoken of time and space and separation and delayed consequences. All this was to lay the groundwork so that you may see more clearly that there are other ways of seeing yourselves than as individuals.
Remove separation because you remove space-time. Remove delayed consequences because you remove space-time. What do you now have? You have a situation in which it is harder to draw hard and fast – and arbitrary – boundaries between “this” and “that,” between “I” and “other.” You have a situation in which to envision is to do; yet to do is not to do anything any more permanent than had existed before it was changed. This is a very long discussion – this question of consequences without delay, and we set it aside for now, merely marking the place, as it were, so that we may concentrate on what you are like in that aspect of yourselves that is not individual and solitary.
Again – everything we say is a setting-out of at least two potential viewpoints. To see anything only one way is to force it into a strait-jacket, or rather is to force your ideas into a strait-jacket. It is not a sign of mental weakness or slovenliness to see multiple viewpoints. It is a precondition for truer understanding. Given that it is not physically possible to translate existence outside time-space into existence within time-space – that is, given that the greater cannot be comprehended by the lesser – all understanding is merely an approximation. Any view is necessarily a partial view which may be profitably complemented by other partial views from other angles. We do know that we repeat ourselves on this. We also know that merely because we repeat something several times does not mean that we are heard.
So we proceed again to five an alternate partial portrait, leaving you the task of reconciling it with other partial views of the same subject – for if you do not do the comparing and contrasting, you will merely be visiting a view, which will in no way later influence your life. To the degree that you begin to see a thing from multiple, rather than from alternate, viewpoints, your actual world will change and you will to some extent acquire mastery of what you examine.
To us you appear less as individuals made up of something solid and different than you do as hollow containers holding together many disparate threads. These threads are characteristics of all kinds. Every thing that marks you as a physical body, as an animated body, as an animal, as a human, as a ember of all the sub-categories of human, as a member of your particular clan and family, and, finally, as the particular expression of the time and place into which you were born – all these things may be seen as characteristic threads that have been gathered up within the container that you regard as “you.” Now, by this analogy – it is an analogy, remember – we mean this.
Imagine a black background, and on it, a huge number of rinds. Each ring is threaded through, and each thread connects different rings, seemingly at random. That is, a thread may pass through rings A,B,D,J,Q, and Z while a second may pass through A,J,S,T, and V, and a third may pass through only O and P and a fourth through J,S,P, et cetera. What we mean to suggest is a loose network of rings connected by threads, with each thread passing though innumerable rings but not, by far, all or even most of them. Each thread passes through many rings – but skips many. Similarly, each ring gathers many threads, but far from all or even most.
To us you in bodies are the rings, and characteristics are the threads, and to us the threads are as real and as individual as the rings. Outside time-space, you see – that is, escaping the impression of separation – there is not the same clarity of distinction between “individuals” and there is not the sense of continued flow, that space and time impart. Thus, it isn’t that we do not perceive the rings, but that we also perceive the threads. It is as if we on “our” “side” can perceive as solid and tangible something that you on “your” “side” can perceive only as abstract and theoretical. Thus to us it is permissible to say that left-handedness includes George and Sam, or that drunkenness has Bill and Charlie. This is unfamiliar to you, but after all that’s what you are seeking here, is it not, the unfamiliar way of seeing things?
When you learn to see the threads that are characteristics running between individuals, you begin to see that it is merely arbitrary to consider individuals as – individual. If what seems a “unit” cannot exist without thousands – tens of thousands – millions – of components each of which is shared with uncounted other “units” – it is as true to see that “unit” as one node in a network as it is to see it as a separate item. Either way of seeing it is somewhat correct, and either way will allow you to deal with it adequately – but neither description alone is as adequate as both descriptions together.
As your society’s environmental awareness has grown, it has begun to become evident to you, or at least to some of you, that it is as accurate to describe yourselves as sharing the same necessities like air – that is, as peripheral to the centrality of air – as to describe yourselves as central, with air being merely one of your requirements. If air can get along without you but you cannot get along without air, which has a more independent existence? If water, if food, can get along without you, but not you them, where is the primacy of the human – or rather, where is the independence? For, clearly, human activity is primary, in that it could affect and perhaps even destroy the conditions needed for its own continuation – but primacy is not the same thing and does not at all have the same meaning as independent.
A human might be described – strictly in 3D terms – as an appendage to the environmental systems that sustain life, and animal life, and finally human life. No air, no water, no relatively stringent temperature range, no chemical preconditions – no humans. That equation cannot be reversed. It is not true to say that removing humans would make impossible the conditions that allow human life.
Now, this is not a lesson in environmentalism or ecology or social science or hard science, so we ask you to return your attention to the point being made. What seem to you in time-space to be individuals – including yourselves! – do not look so separate when seen outside time-space. What seem to you in time-space merely abstractions seem a bit more solid and tangible (so to speak) outside time-space. One might say that where you see the individual rings and mostly do not see the threads except as abstractions, we see the threads as easily and as solidly as the rings.
If you will hold this image of rings and threads, it will bear fruit – if you will pardon the severely mixed metaphor.
Time for a break, we think.
Perhaps so. It’s 7:30 now. Yesterday I didn’t begin till 7 and didn’t get very far.
Faithfulness is all. What you cannot do or do not do one day you may do another.
I’m struggling, a little.
Yes you are, but look at it from another angle. You are struggling. That is, you are struggling on.
Yes. Thank you.
[Next installment posts May 1, and final installment May 3]