Dialogue Add comments

My Dear Kat,

We had a wonderful weekend together: a delightful blend of togetherness and alone time; working together, and mind-blowing sex, the like of which is so different and transcendent that both of us struggle to find words for it.

I could go on more about the weekend, but instead I’d like to tackle the issue of union.  Take these as preliminary notes on a subject I do not understand.

One of my earliest encounters with this was Alan Watts, who wrote of the self being an illusion.  I took that to mean that the self must be destroyed, vanquished, conquered to reveal the cosmic world beyond, but maybe I misunderstood him; perhaps he meant that the self is not the outer limit to our experience; we see it like the walls of a jail cell, limiting where we can go, but these walls are in fact illusory.  I’d have to read him again to see what he actually wrote.

I remember years ago, seeing some graffiti in Brixton1 saying “Irish Go Home!”  Underneath, someone had written “How about the Scots?  And the Welsh?  Brummies, too.  People from Golders Green.  And those from Herne Hill.2”  A brilliant commentary on where we draw the boundary between friend and foe.  These days I try to expand the range of who counts.  I still struggle with Republicans, though.  Reading Ken Wilber’s ideas about spiritual growth helped here.

Then there are a number of material-world arguments for unity.  I start with the hypothesis that the model of an observer independent of the world is false.

  • Firstly, it leads to the mind-body problem.
  • Secondly, Heisenberg demonstrated the fallacy at the sub-atomic level: the observer and the phenomenon are inextricably linked.  I’m not claiming that Heisenberg extrapolates to the macro world, but I do say that we of necessity interact with it and hence affect it.

So my model is somewhat like a book with pages; we think we are individual pages, but we are connected together in ways that are not seen by inspecting an individual page.

Let me list some of the ways we are, in fact, connected.

  • If you looked at us in 4 dimensions, you would see a single tree.  (I have my doubts about treating time as a 4th dimension, but that’s another topic.)
  • We are, by and large, made up of the same DNA.
  • We are indisputably made of the same stuff: atoms.

And lastly, there is the direct experience that you and I keep having; of US, independently of the individual sense of self.  It is very strange, because it feels like something is there, and it’s not me, and I’m not perceiving it through my senses (because they give rise to the “me” experience), but something is there.  It’s intensified by touch, and even more so by sex, but even under those circumstances, the sense is of familiarity.  One more thing about it: the sense is not of being fulfilled or completed, but of being added to, like finding a complete wing in a house that you never knew existed before.

[1] An inner-city area of London.
[2] An adjacent area of London about a mile from Brixton.

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