synthetic zero

August 21st, 2011

Today I was walking down the street in Manhattan. Everything feels so vivid, constantly, so large, open, vast. But the other thing which is acutely present for me as I walk down the street is the suffering, the pain and difficulty, the anger, even as, at the same time, there’s a sense of such tremendous… power and beauty? Through it all, I started to wonder, what is the point of me feeling this? I mean, in some sense, yes, there isn’t anything particularly special about the position “I” seemed to be in at that moment, though it feels vast and present, it’s also rife with error and not in any way fundamentally different from anyone or anything else around me (not that the others are in any fundamental sense separate from me). But there’s still this issue — what’s the point of “me”, to the extent that is meaningful to refer to, looking from this vantage point, so to speak, when all around me is such suffering? Suffering in the midst of radical okayness, even so, still suffering.

Every person I passed seemed to shout at me their condition, their situation, so to speak (not that “their condition” actually means something all that well-defined…) and so I started to contemplate this. The tremendous sense of responsibility, a desire to try to work with this odd situation, this strangely okay yet at the same time suffering- and error-filled “situation”.

After a while I started to think, well, this is sort of hubris, it’s not as though I don’t still have much to work on for myself, but the whole “project” of working on my own practice seemed a bit odd. It’s clearly possible for humans to live in this radically, radically different manner, vastly more open and present and engaging with much more of the present being-ness than we usually consciously engage with. Yet at the same time, what’s the implication of that? It seems to be the primary implication is at the same time everything opens up in this vast way, one is also hugely aware of the suffering as well (although “suffering” isn’t really as problematic as it seems, it’s still a serious matter). It just seems to me all my “projects” really ought to be contextualized in this larger situation of the whole world and suffering and pain, so even as I continue to work on my own errors and issues, the problem of how to work with this larger context is still always vividly present.

It is beginning to feel as though part of my larger self includes a vast net which catches the beauty and the pain of the world all at once. It’s excruciatingly, even painfully beautiful and powerful and vast and wise and sad and lovely and breathing and tired and vivid and tragic and satisfying and nourishing and dirty and depraved and cruel and compassionate and light, light, light. The net drags on, gossamer-like, invisible, without weight, trawling up all this and feeding it through my body/energy/mind which isn’t separate from any of it.

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2 responses to this post:
  1. Melinda says:

    I’ve always felt that, no matter what I’m interested in, no matter what I do: somewhere, somehow, the end-result of all my efforts must have a positive effect on the immense suffering going on outside myself. Not much else matters.

    August 29th, 2011 at 12:25 am
  2. Cal Godot says:

    I am nothing but the empty net which has gone on ahead
    of human eyes, dead in those darknesses,
    of fingers accustomed to the triangle, longitudes
    on the timid globe of an orange.

    I walked around as you do, investigating
    the endless star,
    and in my net, during the night, I woke up naked,
    the only thing caught, a fish trapped inside the wind.

    –from “The Enigmas” by Pablo Neruda, translated by Robert Bly

    October 4th, 2011 at 1:10 pm

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