Updated: Oct 5, 2022
What follows is excerpt chapter 2 from my book, sOl: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vTiq9R90XtmhWYkFFsDmf4GZkTSxhqdWeTJPORK34fpyE7qiiCJ00eheLYznSUnIgbu7fN_2EDVZpB7/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000
sOl contains inspirational verses, aphorisms, & quotations not included here. For the full experience, check out the book!
overall scheme - expansion & contraction of self-conception
Going from the center outward, we experience expanded self-conception, until eventually we realize ourselves to be all - non-self, anatta. This is union with gOd.
Going from the edge inward, we experience contracted self-conception, until eventually we conflate self with organism. This is union with ego.
Our self-conception expands as we open our hearts & minds. We accept reality & our feelings. We open ourselves to experience. We stop fixating on our preferences, & we surrender mental absorption for presence in the here & now. We go from self-absorbed to receptively aware.
Our self-conception contracts as we close our hearts & minds. We judge reality & our feelings. We fixate on our preferences, compulsively seek & avoid particular experiences, & lose touch with the here & now by slipping into mental absorption & compulsive activity. We go from receptively aware to self-absorbed.
insight & perception, reality & mind
We become aware of information. Content. Data. Patterns. Forms & features. The substance of experience.
Information that seems to arise from within, we call insight. This inner realm of information we call mind.
Information that seems to arrive from outside, we call perception. This outer realm of information we call reality.
dilation one - self & that
At this most contracted dilation of self-conception, we divide the world into self & that, into me & everything else.
We think of ourselves as organisms & the world around us as an assortment of things.
At this level we tend to treat our thoughts as literal truths. We study & serve our preferences - pursuing what we desire, avoiding what bothers us, & disregarding the rest (this three-part framing echoes ancient Indian teachings about the three kleshas, or poisons: infatuation, aversion, & ignorance).
We sense ourselves as fundamentally alone. We recognize others are human too. But they're over there - that. Only I am here. Only I am I. This sense of isolation & exceptionalism reinforces self-absorption.
dilation two - sOl & this
At this second dilation of self-conception, we divide the world into sOl & this, into perspective & what's beheld.
We think of ourselves as perspectives - sOls. As sOls, we behold. We behold insights arising within. We behold perceptions arriving from our environment. Our purpose isn't survival or even thriving. Our purpose is to behold.
Our sense of self-absorption decreases. We still conceive of ourselves as individuals: we recognize that our perspectives are distinct & seemingly exclusive. But we feel less alone. We don't draw a boundary at our skin & treat all beyond the boundary as other. We conceive of ourselves more as an aperture, and we experience the intimacy of insights & perceptions flowing through the apertures we are. We see the world as relative. Our
certitude around beliefs & claims loosens. We think of ourselves less as agents and more as observers, & we appreciate that each observer simultaneously participates in a shared environment & enjoys a unique viewpoint. Our decreased self-absorption makes it easier for us to celebrate our diversity & uniqueness while also honoring our similarities & our fundamental Oneness. We recognize - I am an I, and you are an I, too. In other words - you are a you, and I am a you, too.
dilation three - spirit & us
At the third dilation of self-conception, we begin losing our sense of divideness. We appreciate distinctions between organisms. We appreciate distinctions between sOl perspectives. We respect boundaries for practical purposes. But we no longer define ourselves based on distinctiveness.
Instead, our self-conception emerges more from a sense of what's common to us all. We conceive of ourselves as unique expressions of the shared whole. As ocean waves briefly rising into the sky before surrendering their energy and returning to the sea. We can connect with others far more deeply than before because we recognize our distinctions to be like foam & our commonality to be like the sea. We sense, to our depths, that we are one. Our fixations on differentness & otherness give way to a profound sense of communion with each & all.
In this mode, life becomes less about achieving personal goals & more about experiencing the miracle & mystery of being. Why did I come here? What do I have to offer? What helps me connect with my deepest & richest sense of being? Our focus shifts from managing life to exploring life. From getting mine to sharing me. We recognize that our bodies perish & we do not. That time is the soil in which sOls grow, mature, & bloom. That you over there
are as much "I" as me over here. That when I spite you, I spite I. That when I love you, I love I. That when I embrace you, I embrace I. In that embrace, we may say as one: I am One.
dilation four - gOd & One
The ultimate. Not really a dilation of self-conception so much as surrendering self-conception. We are no longer identified with perspective. "I" and "you" are interchangeable. And kind of silly. "Blorg" and "blerg" substitute for them just fine. Smiling & laughter become the most honest greetings. We've dropped the masks of separateness & embraced the wholeness we collectively are.
We recognize that perspectives are vehicles for experience. They're how we discover ourselves anew. How we temporarily abandon our omni perspective - all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving - to become instantiations of seminess - semi-knowing, semi-powerful, semi-loving. We recognize that at dilations one, two, and three, we are doing exactly what we want to do: contracting our self-conception so we can temporarily forget our gOdness & experience what it's like to be (1) a human fending for itself in a realm of seeming scarcity & peril, (2) a sOl discovering a broader sense of being, & (3) a spirit awakening to the astounding truth that the dance & the dancers are one.
In truth, we were never in peril. There was no true suspense. Our organic lifeform may have been in physical peril and experienced emotional suspense. But that was always a layer of temporary experience atop an infinite & unharmable truth. Our true nature was never in jeopardy. It only seemed that way to sell the dream. To make the experience that much more immersive, engrossing, & real. Awakening from the dream, we laugh joyously at the silliness of all our fretting, while also appreciating the experiences & richness such fretting made possible.
There was never any true loss or danger. There was, on the whole, nothing bad. Only a wealth of experience that first plunged us into the most radical depths of self-absorption & forgetting, and then gradually softened our clenching, freeing us to unfurl into our fullest & truest form - everything, anything, & nothing at all.
To see more content related to this chapter, visit: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/e/2PACX-1vTiq9R90XtmhWYkFFsDmf4GZkTSxhqdWeTJPORK34fpyE7qiiCJ00eheLYznSUnIgbu7fN_2EDVZpB7/pub?start=false&loop=false&delayms=3000