Sunday, March 27, 2011

Notes From Underwater


That was fun, wasn't it?

I gather some questions remain. Did I just channel Da? Do I believe I just spoke to Da? Who is Da? And who is "Diane Jackson", and why does her voice change so dramatically in the course of a dialog?

I hope this last series of posts helps to demonstrate the impossibility of finding out who the "real Da" was, is, and will be. Likewise, the impossibility of knowing who our "real ego" is, or anyone else's for that matter, including Da's. Or even if there is such a thing, or if Da was such a thing, or any of us for that matter.

So, to answer the obvious, maybe, maybe not. What is the imagination but a way of constructing personhood and world-in-which-the-person-arises from the raw material of mind and life? Imagination is a powerful, powerful force in this world - perhaps the very force that creates this world. And from what? A snake created from a rope lying in the dark? Imagination works in the dark to create what wasn't there from not only our fears, but our hopes, our aspirations, our desires, and our aversions. We create the very thing we are most averse to, and then avoid it. Avoiding relationship?

Where would we be without our imaginations? Alone, perhaps? How unbearably miserable. Thanks God we can create Da and self from that dry wood, ignite a little fire, and have someone to talk to. It is said by some that God created the world and all the beings in it so as not to be lonely. Probably some ego said it, though. Others say we created God so as to have someone to listen to us. Just as likely.

I'm not really sure what we can say about Da from all this. I can give testimony to my version of Da, and Elias his, and each member of Adidam can speak to their own special Da, and the books have theirs - each quote creates its own Da, and each lila another Da, and soon the world is overrun with Da's of all kinds, each complementing or opposing one another, and soon there is a minor play in the Tabernacle vying for the respect of the congregation. Each congregant has his own play, his own story of Da to play out, and that's just among the tiny fraction of humanity that cares about Da. In other congregations they have their multitude of Jesus', and Buddhas, and Krishnas, and it never really ends. Each one is both affirming and doubting the stories they have constructed, and the person who is the hero of that story. But the hero always dies. And we follow him anyway, because we must. We don't know any other way.

It's so easy to construct a person from almost nothing. A few lines and we have a stick figure, and the mind fills in the rest. A person is born. Jesus is born of the same process, and so is Da. We seldom attribute this process to our own imaginations, because that might make it all seem suspect. So we tell ourselves we had nothing to do with it. It was all a grace, and we are so humbly honored to have been given this relationship, wrapped in swaddling clothes and scriptural blankets, that redeems the heart from its lonely predicament. But there's a little tag on the toe of each born savior, reminding us that it was made in our own mind's imagination by little elves working feverishly through the night so that Santa could leave us a Divine Present under the tree each morning. The world wakes up like a present unwrapped, and like lying parents we feign surprise at the wonder of it all. We don't want to tell ourselves that we made it and put it there. The children so love the ritual of it, even they don't want to know.

So who is Da? Who cares? He's whoever we want him to be now. He had his say for a while, and now we can define him however we wish. Sinner or saint, or bit of both, like a chocolate carmel with nuts inside. How harmless it all seems now that it's mere memory. Each present moment seems so real to us we forget it was just like this each time we took a little bite out of him. And he in turn took his little bites of us too. Should we send the meal back to the kitchen for a do-over? It didn't seem quite done, to tell the truth. Only our imaginations know for sure. They can conjure new life from dusty old memories, as they are doing right now before us. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our trespassings, just as we forgive those who trespass upon us.

Da changed every day of his life, and so did we, but we somehow imagined there was some kind of permanent truth to it all, some revelation being given, something that meant something else. There's not much in common between the boy with his drunken mother and the old man drinking with his own younger selves except the drinking. That's the one constant, the drunken dream of the imagination that holds its spell over the house we all grew up in. There's an unimaginable sadness at the heart of it all, which we wish would go away but never quite does. Even lovers leave one another and end up alone after a while, and the house seems empty and cold, like a body the life departed from. Where did it go?

We like to call that "communion", but it doesn't stop us from arguing over the meanings. The argument becomes our conversation with ourselves over the nature of the thing we created from ourselves. And wars are fought and blood spilled and more departures made, and more presents unwrapped with each new birth, each new day, each lover's spat. The hemorrhaging goes on and on. We only have ourselves to blame, but how do we do that without creating a whole world to play that game in? Each self seemingly born of a different thought, each perception born of a different self, and the puzzle made overly complicated by each layer as it unfolds from the box.

Inside, a little toy.

Will this toy make us forget? Will it entertain and occupy us? Can we talk to it, and will it talk back? Can it sing or make music?

Pull the string. See what happens.

15 comments:

thereal said...

Hi BY,

A few things arose while I read this blog.


"Where would we be without our imaginations? Alone, perhaps? How unbearably miserable. Thanks God we can create Da and self from that dry wood, ignite a little fire, and have someone to talk to. It is said by some that God created the world and all the beings in it so as not to be lonely. Probably some ego said it, though. Others say we created God so as to have someone to listen to us. Just as likely."

Imagination is fine and a wonderful function of mind. In order to feel alone there has to be a "self" to identify with aloneness. All selves are a result of imagination. No-self is aware of the selves that are imagined and lets them be just as they are. When there is an identification with any self that is imagined then all manner of loneliness and craziness can result. Truly the possibilities are endless. When you see that any self you imagine you may have been, or are, or could be, is simply an act of imagination, then the freedom of no-self is what's left.

I haven't read much of Da but I feel this might have been what Da was referring to as the ego being an activity. It is not an actual thing, but an active functioning of imagination. Just like the activity of imagining and superimposing the image of a snake on a rope. The snake really isn't there, but as long as we believe it is it is real to us. Same goes for our imagined selves.


"I'm not really sure what we can say about Da from all this."

If you see the Buddha on the road kill him. In other words, no one actually needs to be saved by a teacher because a teacher can't save an imaginary self. There is no self that needs saving. Certainly we can gain insight from the wise words of wise beings, but to hoist them up onto a guru pedestal grants them an imaginary realization that becomes impossible for any imaginary self to have. No self can ever attain some imaginary realization because the self that is seeking is imaginary itself. The guru/disciple relationship promotes the idea of an imaginary self and an imaginary more realized other self. If one could find a reluctant guru they might have found something valuable. But nonetheless, a teacher is completely unnecessary. This means Da as a guru was completely unnecessary. What Da's experiment seemed to turn out to be was a big self-fest with one humongus self trying to liberate many puny selves. Da seemed to promote that wrong view.

What could have been good in Da's situation is that if he did indeed become established in the clear beingness of no-self he could have shown that it can be amidst all forms of self. One doesn't have to be a silent and unmoving Buddha like a Ramana. No-self can let all selves be just as they are because it is not identified with them. Da could have been an expression of this free from the need for any spiritual glamorization. Instead, he took spiritual glamorization to such an extreme level that it would make the most arrogant rock stars blush.


"So who is Da? Who cares?"

Indeed. Da couldn't save anybody because it is only a imaginary self that thinks it needs to be saved. What Da did was his business. What each of us do is our own business. There is no need to get those businesses mixed up by being overly concerned about the other. It's simply none of our business and has no relevance on the realization of no-self.

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Anonymous said...

...i think this relates to self enquiry - if everything is linked - or in relationship - then the enquiring mind is very important - it is related to everything that ever is or was - all the amazing people - all the amazing events - not just on this planet - amazing - this is like the story of the flower sermon - the flower was a metaphor for "everything"...maharishi used to use the flower in the same way - consciousness or mind is the key - experience is experience of a consciousness - a mental experience - mind is part of the phenomena of relatedness that is the cosmos....in buddhism it was called cittamatra....

Anonymous said...

...on relationship - buddha talked about "conditions" or "conditioned existence" -
i am beginning to see conditions as a form of relationship (to the Divine ?)..the problem of existence as one of "relationship"...

Anonymous said...


...but what can we "depend" on - if everything is impermanent...then there is nothing we can 'depend" upon. This allows one to let go of most of the world (the problem of detachment) - The only "refuge" is the Triple gem - the buddha - his dharma and the sangha....nothing else is dependable - nothing else works - nothing else is successful...

Anonymous said...

....these are only ideas to Liberate - buddha said try what works...

Anonymous said...

in buddhism - the various aggregates were subject to cessation - the release of the mind is to give up grasping to these objects that are liable to decay, death and thus suffering - the release of the mind that gives up grasping - the fading of passion in regard to these objects -this relates to sensuality - the inflamed passion of the person in regard to existence....

Anonymous said...

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the origination of stress: the craving that makes for further becoming — accompanied by passion & delight, relishing now here & now there — i.e., craving for sensual pleasure, craving for becoming, craving for non-becoming.

"And this, monks, is the noble truth of the cessation of stress: the remainderless fading & cessation, renunciation, relinquishment, release, & letting go of that very craving.

Anonymous said...

...and also there is a selfless aspect - existence of a self is not inheremt - but dependent on other causes - this means that ones existence is free of objective existence....

Anonymous said...

...Freedom to the Buddha was whether the mind still clung to objects - people - places - in the life...in the anattalakkhana sutta - the monks minds were freed from clinging ...

Anonymous said...

..What if everything was just "opinion" - in goenka the "idea" for sankhara is opinion - mental idea as opinion - Mental attachment may just be the phenomena of opinion - and not realizing something to just be the opinion of a teacher. Amazing - the buddha dharma could just be empty opinion - but so could everything. Attachment is believing something is real - and not just a mental phenomena....

Anonymous said...

all is movement - .....
if the whole world is anicca - then everything is moving (from the idea of vritti)
movement is freedom - nothing is "stuck" -
anicca means nothing is caught in any situation - everything will be released eventually

Anonymous said...

...john lennon wrote "imagine " - as if to say everthing - every experience is just a mental "imagination" - yogacara

Anonymous said...

...as the tibetans said - an "imputation" of the mind...the mind imputes "object" - where there is no self existence - just a chain of dependencies....

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