Thursday, March 6, 2014

Do you exist if no one can see you?

I am on my third and last 18 hour day of three consecutive 18 hour days bracketed by two 14 hours days.
I am doing fine. Last night, right before the Kung Fu class was supposed to begin, I ran around madly to clean up and vacuum. I vacuumed vigorously for 5 minutes before I noticed the cat was sitting there staring at me.

That struck me as odd. The Mad Kitten hates the vacuum cleaner and takes off like a bat out of hell when ever I vacuum. And here she was, in the same room while I had been vacuuming away for 5 minutes. Perhaps we had turned a corner.

Perhaps I had forgotten to turn on the vacuum cleaner. Turns out, the face of judgment was again her wonder at how I manage to survive in the world and have all the treats. I had been madly vacuuming with a vacuum I forgot to turn on. Three 18 hour days, two 14 hour days - I am doing fine.

I am running such a horrific schedule this week because things are going so well. Except for the fact that all the make up classes and workshops from cancelled nights due to snow have tumbled into this week, plus a new one started. Plus the deadlines for the papers and articles about the work at Oasis have arrived (one down and one to go, will pass on links to the journals in March). Plus the fact that we got a 2013 best of Providence for Martial Arts award and people are starting to want to come - this week -right now. Plus the fact that as the world turns, one of the things I do at Oasis has taken on a life of its own and become a business selling to the public with the profit supporting one of the programs there ( All of this has happened and suddenly rushed into one week - and I am doing fine. I can vacuum with my mind, its a new super power.

The question I posed to the new session of my workshop, Writing Your Self Into Life, was do you exist if no one can see you? But before you answer that, and before they could - we started to talk about the nature of vision. It is said that all animals have eyes that have evolved to help them survive. The King Fisher cannot see reflections on water, the better to spot the fish beneath it needs to survive. Nocturnal animals have better night vision because...well...they are nocturnal. Humans, the great us, the we - are unusual in that we are functionally blind. In fact, our wonder brains are so into eliminating unnecessary stimulus that we not only can't see our own noses, but we don't really know what we look like. Every time we look into the mirror, we are seeing a riot of memory, experience and hope - and rarely our face. The same is true when we look at someone else.

Now think about what this means when we look at another person. Think also what it means to how we see or perceive anything. There has been a lot in the press lately about how lazy our brains our, they jump to conclusions because they don't think paying attention to detail is important. In short, to be present and to see yourself - let alone anyone around you, takes diligence and work. Lots of work. It is not a skill can you acquire and have for life. It must be practiced every second you wish to be present.

But how important is it really to be present? I have talked a little about the necessity of delusion for preserving mental and spiritual health. If we saw the reality of life all the time, we would not survive. We are not so much driven to survive, as driven to imagine. And our vision has conveniently evolved to allow us to see in this way.

But what type of animal lives by imagination?
It is just a puzzle. Just a question.
Do you exist if no one can see you? Can you exist if you cannot even describe yourself?

The first session of the workshop focuses on how we have to have evidence outside of ourselves to prove that we are here, and who we are. Our self lies in our external details. This is also how we communicate with others. How we dress, the cars we drive, the way we walk, the way our houses look - are all mirrors to show us we are they. The people we fall in love with - mirrors to reflect our existence and who we believe we are.

What is beneath? What is there when take the external away?

That is a question that can't be answered, why? Because without our reflections - we would cease to exist.

A wise man once said, "You have so much to do, why waste your time on this?"

Oh yes, the first assignment for the workshop is to write a description of the room that is the waiting room to your soul - using only the details of what is and is not there to describe your soul.

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