I'm fresh off a 14 hour audiobook binge of Alan Watts over the past week, so you'll have to excuse me if I sound a tad insane here. As the wise man once said though, you have to be out of your mind to come to your senses.
About 3 months ago I tripped on LSD. Strange phenomenology of the trip aside (recursive events, synchronicity taken to the extreme), the real spiritual breakthrough for me occurred as I woke up from it. I was already physically awake, but when I came to my senses, I realized I was in my body, and I understood. Although such a sentence is entirely inaccurate of a description through the flagrant use of the word "I".
If you asked me to elaborate any further on that particular instant, words will fall embarrassingly short - such realizations are, by their very nature, ineffable. In Daoism they call it the Dao. In Zen Buddhism they call it the void. Some might attribute the loaded word "Nirvana" to it, but it's not quite what you might think if I used such a word. Nevertheless, I won't even bother to dispel such misconceptions here - the purpose of this blog is no other than to clarify my own thoughts and experiences over the last few weeks...or months...or years. All the same, really.
It's funny, since what has occupied my mind in the past month has oscillated between the exceedingly mundane to the most deepest and most profound spiritual insights.
A crush on a girl.
Enlightenment and the dissolution of the self.
The sound of rain against my window in the night.
The irritation of construction all around Canberra.
The game of life, how we fool ourselves into believing how serious everything needs to be.
What drives me day to day. What gets me out of bed.
Not being late for an appointment in the morning.
Trying not to be awkward around that girl.
The most mixed of bags. A strange, silly but ultimately fun game I suppose.
Quite recently, I dedicated 40 minutes to write down all such thoughts. As I might expect, it ranged from mad ramblings, regular journalling, haphazard poetry to life planning. On conclusion of this personal investigation is how an unshakable and overwhelming feeling of utter solitude/loneliness lies beneath all much of my day to day conscious awareness. Writing is no exception. I was shocked to learn recently that an article I posted on Medium got several hundreds of "claps" (likes) - I had absolutely no intention of people reading it. Now I'm in the awkward position of being forced to acknowledge that people will read what I write - possibly even people I know in real life - and yet my I still yearn to put words on a page. Even now, exams are less than five days away, but I insist on writing this right now since the alternative is to go truly insane.
Aside from solitude (or loneliness? I can never tell), my personal ruminations always seem to converge to what I like to call, the Fundamental Question. No, it's not "what is the meaning of life?" (which, by the way if you didn't get the memo, is whatever makes you stop asking the question). Rather,
What should I do?
In my little storm of ramblings, I managed to write the following,
Some preliminary answers,
- What you are doing
- What you have been doing
- What you should be doing
- What you ought to be doing
- The best thing you could be doing
- The most helpful thing you could be doing
- Not that.
This is probably the part where you (and myself included) begin to really wonder if I've gone off the deep end. Oh boy you have no idea, I've been scuba diving there for years.
Well really, I suppose I ought to make sense of such things. When I ask the question "What should I do?" I really mean that. Seriously, in every possible way. Right now. In 10 minutes. In the next hour. Tomorrow. This semester. Next year. With my life. This question plagues me one every possible level of temporal analysis, and more. What should I do with regards to that girl I have a crush on? What should I do with regards to this sense of spiritual understanding of myself? What should I do about those dirty dishes? And by god if that last one doesn't get answered I'm liable to really go crazy. Dirty dishes man.
I suppose the additional layer of humor with this whole situation I have found myself in is that the spiritual understanding that I'm vaguely referring to also necessarily influences such deliberations. Not in the way I conclude what I ought to do (although sometimes I luck out and figure that out), but moreso in the way that a problem could be posed on the stage of a play, and the audience might realize they are, of course, watching a play. The stepping back. An abstraction away from existence itself, in the direction of solid reality right under your noses. At this point I can only try and grasp words as if they were smoke from a candle to describe such an experience.
My point is, it's all a game. And I know it. Even the terror of climate change. Even the clutches of romantic desires. Even the existential dread. Even exams. Even dirty dishes. I thought trying to explain the allure of pure mathematics was difficult, but trying to explain this is utterly impossible.
Listening to 14 hours of Alan Watts may allow one to understand such an idea intellectually, or even poetically. But as Watts says, one still cries out, "but I don't feel it!" Unlike a rite of passage, or some kind of accolade, this is not something you can suffer at long enough in order to get it - you either do, or you don't. Indeed meditation, asceticism, mystic practices, prayer, and all the rest of it might inspire the right conditions in oneself to "get it", at which point you see that there was never anything to "get" in the first place. It's like seeing through a window, and realizing if you focus your eyes just right, you can see your own reflection. I can point to it, but you'll think I'm pointing to something outside the window. You just need to let your eyes relax, and refocus.
Something like that.
I think I've sorted out enough metaphysical spiritual confusion for now. Nevertheless, dirty dishes, exams and girls still pose the usual troubles. As the Zen Master Dogen says:
Flowers, though we love them, still die, and weeds, though we hate them, still grow all over the place.