Meditations on My Self
This morning after sitting around and paying attention to nothing for a long while, the pedestrian thought that loitered and would not keep moving down the sidewalk became a realisation.
My self, which I know is an illusion, a trick of perception, occupies too much of my time. I know this fully with my mind even if my heart still clings to safe delusions.
The easiest thoughts to dismiss are the good ones, the comforting ones. The memories of past loves long gone. My mother’s unconditional love, my sister’s devoted, admiring love. The eulogies and compliments I’ve received over time from those who have borne the patience to get to know me just a little bit beyond our facades.
The pleasure I took in surprising my friends with my true nature is easily exiled, easily erased from the Book of Illusion resting on my dusty shelf. But today I awakened to the fact that so it is of the slings and arrows my memory flings at me. The regrets, the failures, the self-loathing for being so much less than I imagine myself to be.
I have welcomed hatred like a long lost friend. When I am targeted by malice or false accusations, I somewhere believe that I am well deserving of acrimony; that deep within me is a broken porcelain doll wearing a torn, stained dress. I have sought refuge in self-hatred, in depression, in the idle futility of it all.
After all, cynicism is just another mask worn by our own complacency.
This morning, the light shone on me and I laughed at how insidious my vanity could be. To soak in self-loathing is as deluded as celebrating false glories. None of my past is real apart from what I insist on carrying into this present like a troublesome burden; weighing down my footsteps. Stalling the will to keep on moving, with the current, a little further down the road. Misery, the sister of Narcissus, loves company and the good liquor I buy her. But she’s too needy and crazy and no real friend of mind.
I may feel brave wrestling with my demons but they are in truth, made of the same scattered dust as my angels.
My Buddha tells me that enlightenment lies in the transcendence of seeming dualities. The trick of mind in seeing beyond black and white to the full spectrum and subtleties of the colors surrounding me. I can hold my inner sense of self, both magnanimous and self-damning, one in each hand and then bring those hands together, accepting both as one simultaneous truth.
I can know myself completely, even the parts left out.
Rumi says that beyond right and wrong, beyond good and evil, lies the desert of disillusionment.
At the end of the desert there is an oasis and in the middle of the oasis is a fountain and that fountain is the source of all Life.
Do me a favour, next time you feel down about yourself, undeserving of love, miserable and useless; do not blow the feelings away but rather hold them in one hand. Then with the other hand conjure the feelings of pride, of self-worth of glorious love. Hold each sense of yourself like a ball in each of your hands while substituting either/or with both/and. Now bring your hands together in gratitude for the whole of who you are.
Tell me how that feels.
Write it here, just beneath these words.
One of my friends tells me to forget my past but I keep looking at it and trying to figure out what the hell happened and was that all my fault. I’ve had plenty of time alone to examine it and I remember my early childhood without being hypnotized. It might be meditation or not, I’m not sure. But I agree with the old saying that a life not examined wasn’t worth living. And now I think I have something that people who never slow down or spend time alone never get, intuition. Also self acceptance.
September 23, 2018 at 4:06 am
I’m not suggesting that you forget about your past; just that your “past” is merely memory. Memory is not always accurate in judgement, nor fact. We remember things a certain way. Others remember the exact same event differently. Memories are merely shadows on the wall compared to the present moment in which you are reading these words.
I can read my memory as the shadow left by my past; but it is not the same as my actual past because the past no longer exists beyond its shadow. The past can be recalled like a dream, but has no substance that can compare to the present moment in which you are recollecting the past. We keep intersubjective records, dates, times and accounts; but these are merely the prompts for shared hallucinations by which we socially contract with others.
In the real world there is no past, there is no future there is only the present in which we carry the past and anticipate the future, another shared hallucination.
I won’t contradict Socrates except to say that to examine your own life one must examine the means by which we define and corroborate that life. As well as distinguish between our dream of a past and future and the reality we are actually experiencing here and now.
Thank you for reading and thank you for your comment.
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September 23, 2018 at 7:40 am
Interesting theory of time. I’m not a philosophy student, but I see my past present and future as one life. It’s all one short time. I can only move in one direction through it but I can look back and forward. I trust my memories as facts not hallucinations or dreams. My past is what made me who I am today.
September 23, 2018 at 1:22 pm
Seeing your whole life as one time is not a bad idea. I’m being literal by explaining that your memories may correspond even accurately, to real events in your past, which you can corroborate with evidence and the memories of others. But these ideas are still not the reality that your senses are presenting you in the present moment. I’m sure you’ve seen SF plots where the main character’s memories have been contrived and implanted (like Westworld). Since all of reality stems from this moment in time (like a fountain), its important to be able to distinguish between memory, anticipation and reality. Just saying.
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September 23, 2018 at 1:41 pm