A Circle In a Circle
A circle is a spiral unresolved. In life, resolution is the gateway from ‘here’ to ‘here’ – only to be experienced, upon arrival, as a new ‘here’. Progress is non-linear – not from ‘here’ to ‘there’ – but from ‘here’ to ‘what was not here and now has suddenly become here but was always and ever here’ – or if you prefer the optimistic slant, from ‘what is not here and now has become there’ to ‘suddenly here’. We grow when we cease to be able to inhabit a way of being and, because of some bit of enlightenment or an accident, have to vacate the cottage in favor of a more substantial house. From that perspective, life’s journey is not a gradual stroll from beginning to end but an erratic and jerky experience – a journey to a new ‘here’ which is again and suddenly ‘here’.
In life some understandings are only reached based upon critical realizations. (Realizations that most certainly involves slaying a demon) Knowledge becomes useful, indeed enticing, if you first understand its purpose. Learning calculus, for instance, can be incredibly difficult if you don’t understand its purpose. If its purpose is of interest or value to you then the study will go easily and be productive. If you don’t understand its purpose or value its capabilities then no amount of intensive effort will make much difference. The same is particularly true of self knowledge.
To understand what I am getting at, imagine yourself entering a carpenter shop. Over there are stacks of wood and elsewhere there are very intriguing tools – some of them quite elegant. Some of the spirit of the shop can be experienced even if you never pick up a plane or chisel and learn how to use them. But, for the carpenter, the shop is a useful – even magical – place. Understanding the purpose of the tools and the wood and appreciating how they can help achieve a purpose in life – for instance, building fine furniture – transforms the shop into a highly productive and supportive environment without diminishing its elegance in the least.
The same experience can occur when an individual reaches a deeper self knowledge. Suddenly accumulated knowledge, experience and understandings can be deployed to a broader and more subtle understanding.
A Wheel Within a Wheel
The idea of a wheel within a wheel is useful when thinking about context. The ‘within’ within the within wheel is, of course, the self. It will ever turn in a frustrated attempt to become known. The spokes that radiate outward support the masks. If, for instance, the ‘self’ which avoids emotions – doesn’t trust its own emotions – it will cycle again and again to, but not through, the point where emotions are appropriate. Your ‘self’, upon seeing that point reached, may remind your self (If it makes things easier, substitute the word ‘mask’ for the word ‘self’ in this context – then keep the meaning of self for only when the ‘ ’ do not appear) of the danger of feelings. At that point your ‘self’ would begin to pressure to maintain the circle and avoid both the demon (fear of feelings) and the dangers of the spiral (the unknown beyond). Without an epiphany – a sudden understanding of this dynamic – the cycle may continue for an entire life.
The Illogic of it All
There is an ‘illogic’ in all of this – you would assume that you have your own best interests in mind when you construct these masks – but nothing could be further from the truth. Masks are properly seen as an attempt on the life – the very existence – of the self. (It is one of those unavoidably ‘illogical’ results of thinking about the self – when only the self is capable of thinking – that arguments between the self and its masks become focused on limits set by the masks. The self asserts ‘you are better than you have become and there is more in life than you will allow yourself to experience’ only to have the mask (the self’s own creation) reply ‘you’re wrong – we are less than we have made our ‘self’ out to be’ – hence we deceive’. There is no way around this – the purpose of the mask (the child) is to conceal an assumed but non-existent inadequacy of the self and to eventually exterminate from memory the progenitor – in other words, to commit patricide.) I suppose all of us know individuals who seem determined to finish their life without ever experiencing joy. If we look at them we would say “what a pity to live without experiencing such an emotion”. But how often might we look at ourselves and the list of things that we avoid and say “what a pity”?
So you can live within this marvelous carpenter shop called ‘your body’ – inside this incredibly varied village called ‘earth’ and not appreciate – even begin to comprehend – the things that they can show you. We can, because of our fear of sharp objects, never learn the elegance of a chisel expertly applied to a piece of wood. We can, because of an aversion to the idea of cutting, never come to experience the wonderful simplicity and amazing capabilities of a hand saw. Or we could, because of an aversion to the idea of direct action, never experience the wonderful asymmetry and elegance of a brace and bit. All of these characteristics of the ‘self’ keep us from experiencing the magnificence of the carpenter shop. What a pity.
Interregnum – The time between two reigns, governments, etc.
The pitcher stands statue-straight on the mound – his head cocked to the left as he eyes the lone base runner. The runner inches forward and then, thinking the better of it, settles back towards first. As the pitcher’s right eye transfers to the catcher behind the plate, the catcher’s right eye holds the runner. The sign is given and the pitcher nods an agreement.The batter stands in – hugging the plate. The count is three and two – three balls and two strikes – only one out. “This is it”, the batter mutters under his breath, “Here comes the old fireball – fastball all the way”.The pitcher goes into his windup – the runner begins a dash for second – the batter digs in and waits for the old number one. From behind the pitcher’s body his arm speeds forward. “Wow”, the batter thinks, “A sidearm fast ball is a thing of beauty.”But, of course, it isn’t a fastball – it’s a curveball – the batter fans – strike three. As the ball drives into the catcher’s mitt, he rises and fires towards second base. The ball slaps into the second baseman’s glove a split second before the runner’s foot reaches the bag. Congratulations – you have just struck your ‘self’ out and thrown your ‘self’ out at second. The inning is over. Virtual realities and splintered ‘selves’ can be a real bitch sometimes. (If you don’t believe it, try arguing with your self. Now, who exactly is it that who is arguing with whom? “I’m of two minds!” Yeah right!)