synthetic zero

September 9th, 2009

There are times when you’re making love and the boundaries of the self seem to become porous, and the energy of the other person and your own seems to merge together. It happens spontaneously, without effort; and every time this has happened to me, the other person reported experiencing the same thing, at the same time, even using the same words to describe it (i.e., it felt like energy merging, or I felt your breathing flowing into the interior of my body through our skin and vice-versa, etc.) Magda O told me, however, that she feels this interest in “merging” is somehow reductive, because it assumes that the merging occurs between two separated individuals, whereas actual merging can only happen between someone and the entire universe.

When I’ve experienced this, however, it always seems to be when there’s an element of that larger sense of opening to the universe, as well; that is, both people seem to have to have their sense of a personal boundary weakened, so you become somewhat transparent or porous, to everyone, to the world as well as other people and beings. It seems to be made much more likely when both people are in a mode, so to speak, of relating to the world in this way, i.e., in a way which emphasizes separateness much less.

So I suppose I both agree and disagree with Magda regarding whether thinking about this merging is reductive. I certainly think the usual idea of merging, in terms of trying to encompass or unify with the other as a sort of hysterical romantic ideal involves all sorts of assumptions about individuality, acquisition, separation and unification. But, on the other hand, the fact that the concrete experience of merging can happen spontaneously, mutually, and intensely with someone when both people are already feeling open to the universe, where their sense of a personal boundary is opened up, suggests that this merging can be a side effect of authentic presence, a way of being which has a transpersonal quality beyond just the relation of two individuals.

And while I certainly agree that this merging ultimately has to be about an opening to the whole universe, one cannot discount the specific relatedness of it; I don’t love you only because you’re part of the universe and I love the universe; I also love you in your absolute particularity; not as a separated individual, but including your specific radical presence, right here with me. You’re not just a tiny fragment of the vastness, you are the vastness, right here and now, including me and everything else, but very much paying attention to you as that vastness. And in this merging I do not encompass you, swallow you, but rather we remain radically unknowable to both ourselves and each other, while not being in any fundamental sense, apart.

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