February 13, 2011

The Death Of Valentine’s Day.

Photo courtesy of Mark J Sebastian.

The search for certainty is a game…

A dreadful and violent game with no end. It is the incessant pursuit of something that does not exist. Often times, the recognition and acceptance of its absence is called love.

From a certain point of view, love is a frightening thing.

It shakes the ground I stand on. Love is an atmosphere so spacious that it makes no allowances for certainty. Any and all possibilities come to pass in love! It is frightening from the ego’s point of view because, without the appearance of certainty the ego’s identity is drawn in for questioning. A self-centered consciousness is obsessed with the acquisition of certainty because, it is dependent upon it.

Certainty is the ego’s Holy Grail.

Since the Holy Grail is a product of the imagination, it is never actually acquired. Now, it maybe that I fool myself—that is get tied up in various forms of self-deception, but no real certainty is ever attained. I may consume some line of reasoning or adopt a new philosophy that appears to encapsulate or explain away my predicament. Or I may choose to ignore the situation all together saying, “Oh, it’s fine. Really, it’s not a problem!” But all this is self-deception—knowledge is a gross misunderstanding of the question, and pretending there hasn’t been a question asked is plain stupidity! Regardless of my approach, the need for certainty is persistent, even in the face of persistent failure. It never really goes away.

From a self-centered point of view, the absence of certainty is the presence of fear.

So, fear maybe defined as the ignore-ance of love. The ego hates love! Therefore, the ego ignores it’s spacious center. Under the veil of ignorance nothing is seen as it is. We ignore space by obsessing over an image—if self-centeredness means anything, it means that. Everything is judged on the basis of how it affects this image—either, positive or negative. Positive enables the continuation of ignore-ance. While, negative forces the ego to confront the fact that it is a hollow shell. The ego wants to remove all such threats. It wants to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the situation is safe. It wants to child proof the world by running background checks on everyone it comes into contact with. The ego is paranoid, and for good reason. The self-centered mind is in search of certainty—finished products. The ego is afraid because, it is dependent upon something that it has never managed to find!

The conceptual mind resents life because, the conceptual mind sees life as a giant contradiction.

When we attempt to capture life in words or static images, as the ego-centric mind does, life appears to be a great big paradox. When the spacious center is ignored, thought seems to be a finished product. We have put the cart before the horse. Thought is preceding basic experience, which is insane. We are trying to tell life how it should be! We have forgotten that it is the duty of thought to express or reflect reality; not the responsibility of life to reflect our thinking. To the contrived and rigid mind, life seems no less ridiculous than sitting in the carriage trying to pull the horse along! This is why, as G.K. Chesterton said, “Contradiction is just truth standing on its head to get your attention.”

In life all things die. However, life goes on. Life never began and will never end. Time passes. As a result, our concepts and ideas become expired. All things in life are dying because allthings in life are born. Things are born. They are contrived, mental fabrications. The energy that thought attempts to freeze or conceptualize is unborn. It is free of coming or going. Life is uncreated—free of birth and death, but our concepts are created—bound by birth and death. They are contrived frames that attempt to transform life into static images. Finished products. Certainty. These static images are expectations set in motion by fear.

We create expectations as a way of avoiding our fears.

In this case, we are trying to avoid our greatest fear. The fear of death. We try to conceptualize and own these slices of space and time because, we are dependent upon them for validation and confirmation of our own existence. We need them to tell us we are alive. We call these slices of space and time boyfriend or girlfriend, friend or enemy, etc. They are reference points—objects-in-space we use to determine our own location. We use them to establish our identity. If Ican call you boyfriend, then I have acquired a sense of meaning or purpose. A role to play. I get to play the role of girlfriend. When I identify you as an enemy does it not enable me to take the high road? To identify myself with what is right? It is this sort of inbred co-dependent relationship with thought that enables the ego to ignore the fact that it is nothing more than a collection of expired concepts swirling around an empty center. The ego is an illusion. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. It exist as an illusion! We are objectsinspace.

Is our self-image not dependent upon such reference points?

If not, then why do we resist change? Why do we suffer? What happens when the writer has nothing else to write? Does he not cease to be a writer? If I remove the bath from the room, is it still a bathroom? When the relationship ends do I not cease to be ‘girlfriend?’ And when the relationship begins doesn’t the bachelor role expire? Doesn’t it follow that if there is a beginning there will be an end? The ego is suspicious, and for good reason! This system of identification is fragile to say the least.

All things come to pass.

Is this a problem? Well, from a certain point of view it is the problem! A self-centered state of mind is dependent upon relationship or entertainment. That is why meditation considers boredom or loneliness a healthy situation. It is an invitation to discover a center-less or spacious state of mind. However, the ego needs the “other” to validate and confirm the image it is projecting upon the backdrop of impermanence. This is so because, life/death challenges this image in every moment. The dualistic mind needs these reference points to scream louder than life, “I see you. You are there!” This need is the need for certainty. The ego wants to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that it’s reference points will be there to confirm it’s existence. So, change—the nature of “things”—is the main dilemma as far as the ego is concerned.

Unfortunately, the only certainty that is found is the fact of life, which is death.

There will come a time when the other loses their voice. They have screamed and screamed until they cannot utter another word. The reference point is gone. Where are you?

When you realize that you have misplaced yourself, what will you do? Will you look for another voice? Will you continue to play the violent game of Marco Polo—seeking to determine who and what you are, your position in this world, by clinging to the fading voice of yet another thing? Or will you be vulnerable? Are you willing to be lonely? Will you stand there butt-naked—just another objectinspace?

When the feeling of loneliness sets in, will you let go of words to discover that deeper dimension of life which carries on even after death?

In the Garden, God asked, “Adam, where are you?” This is the eternal question. Can you watch yourself die? Can you sit there patiently and observe your own death?

If you can, you will find that Love is the space which accommodates birth and death. You will realize that Love is your original face!


For more on change and our relationship to it, check out, “Life is Verbing.”

It is part 3 in the ten week meditation and spirituality discussion group I am hosting here on Elephant Journal. (there is video with meditation instructions!)

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