Saturday, December 16, 2006

The grass isn't greener on the other side of the Veil of Maya.

We are so bewitched by thought and language that it's nearly impossible for our species mind set to realize that This, indeed, is "It".

Said differently, this is as real as it gets.

What's being said here is all of a piece with the perennial appearance and reality distinction -- a distinction embellished both by the Eastern and Western worlds.

However, the distinction is completely meaningless. That's the problem.

The orient's Veil of Maya illustrates this to perfection, because it implies appearance is one side of the veil (the one we're stuck with); whereas "reality" is on the other side. Thus, the grass is always greener on the other side of the Veil of Maya.

This distinction (or duality) is also the origin of the delusional "separate self". Separate from what? Separate from reality, of course. Separate selves on this side and the true nature of things on the other, e.g., Brahman, Plato's Forms, ultra theoretical physics, etc.

But all of this is conceptual rubbish. It's just thought running amuck. Here's an example of how this works.

We Westerners like to think of time and space as metaphorical "containers" of reality, i.e., reality is a function of time, not visa versa. But it IS visa versa. My goodness, "time" is just a human way of thinking about the raw givenness of being alive. Cronos isn't eating anything. Cronos (or time) is just a human way of thinking about beingness or ISness.

Einstein was onto this when he said, "Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live".

How wonderfully said. Thus, what counts are the "conditions in which we live", because that's reality and it ISN'T on the other side of the Veil of Maya or "behind the scenes" of mere appearance.

Mere appearance is a limitation for thought, not for life. From the thinking about point of view this all makes sense since the separate self (same thing as the thinking about point of view) has to be separate from something. It's all a package deal: separate selves, intervening Maya, and reality. But it's as package deal of illusion, dreamed up (literally) by thought.

That's the core problem with thought. It's always thinking "about" something -- hence duality.

Now there's thinking and there's thinking. Really arrogant thinking (e.g., Plato) presumes to know reality directly. The trivial empirical world is knowable by the senses, but that world is mere appearance (the "mere" word again). Plato's "parable of the cave" illustrates this eloquently, but it's just a philosophical fairy tale.

Other thinking modes know the "outside" (so to speak) of reality or substance, e.g., the so called empirical primary and secondary qualities. The "inside" is true reality again, but not knowable directly. Kant dealt with this, distinguishing between thatness and whatness (or phenomenon and noumenon). A piece of genius perhaps, but still dropping the This is It ball. Buddhism's sublime Nagarjuna was in some respects similar to Kant, but more cognizant of the absolute limitations of thought.

To say it straight out, Nowing is Realitying (that probably should be said twice). Human living is not something "happening in" reality; human living is ITSELF reality process. So where's the duality?

Possibly it's a little terrifying for some of us to take in (1.) there isn't any "us", and (2.) immediacy ongoingness is the being myselfing of ultimate realness.

We aren't a duality from the This is It Realty/Universe, since NOTHING is a duality away from totality.

Plus, words like the "This is It Reality/Universe" are simply pointers at thought-transcending mystery. No one can say what reality "is", but only fear keeps us from realizing that raw, spontaneous immediacy is infinitely transcendent to thought.

Lastly, this whole business is well illustrated with mathematical models. Korzybski reminded us not to confuse the map with the territory, but neither should we confuse our mathematical (or more generally, intellectual) models or simulations with the simulated.

It's very seductive for mathematicians to do this, since the model is where are all the form and rigor are found. From the model you can deduce things (maybe even prove theorems), but it is nevertheless an abstract model of that which is NOT abstract.

The map is not the territory, the model is not the modeled, and the theory is never the theorized about. There's a quantum jump distinction here that simply blindsides thought.

But it is self evident to intelligence (which is the self experiencing of what thought thinks about and doesn't think about).