Thursday, October 30, 2014

My own zero

In the world of video games, if one dies in some virtual conflict, one is instantly reborn and gets to go around again.

This recreational version of the conceit of reincarnation is ubiquitous by now; and there seems to be an ever-greater proclivity, among the digitized (...we are all being assimilated) to believe that life and Being afford re-dos of some kind or another; that one can come back and have another chance at things.

In contemplating this question during our Berkshire breakfasts, it occurred to me that we all bring yardsticks to life: there is an inner ruler by which I measure things. The ruler has inches and feet marked on it by my upbringing, my education, and my beliefs; and I slap it up against everything that happens in the presumption that my own personal, egoistic, subjective yardstick has all the elements and design in it necessary to measure every situation. I believe that "zero" begins way back there somewhere in my childhood; and I am capable of understanding life through this yardstick I've created within myself.

What I forget is that there is no "zero" back there, from years ago. Modern psychology has encouraged us to believe that we can plumb the roots of our childhood in order to understand who we are; and it's altogether common to assign blame for where I am, what I am, who I am, to events and circumstances from the past.

Yet this is senseless; it sidesteps the fact that life always begins here.

"Zero is always right here," I said to my wife over the apple crisp pancakes. "We always begin right now, at zero."

In this sense, even the idea of beginning again is a misunderstanding.

I can't begin again; because there is no re-do, no resurrection, of beginning. Beginning is always and eternally now, as Meister Eckhart points out; and the moment I think I will start over, I have already misunderstood. Beginning involves this moment, only this moment, shorn of the baggage of my yardstick.

This is, of course, an enormous difficulty; in order for me to understand this fully, I have to be in relationship with a quite different energy than the ordinary energies I work with. Yet I know that it is possible; and in the midst of suffering every insufficiency I am capable of mustering (and I am quite capable in this area of insufficiency, an expert, even) I must search for this zero, this beginning that I live in the midst of.

I see that my subjective beliefs and emotional attachments glue me like epoxy to the inner yardstick; and I see that Grace has a power to dissolve that. My ego is frustrating to me; yet I'm the prisoner of it. Even at my best this force of ego has an iron grip, spread out evenly over all of my parts.

The inner practice of humility, I think, comes deeply only over the course of a long lifetime in which I begin to appreciate that I do not have the power to separate myself from my beliefs, from my yardstick, and find that ground zero at which the inner towers fall and Grace alone stands tall.

I wait for this moment; and perhaps that is the zero I ought to turn towards.


1 comment:

  1. It's almost strange that anything be otherwise than 'now'. It's called 'presentism'...there cannot be anything else but this present now...the past and future exist, now, for empsyched beings....but in nature there is only this present instant, which is the same instant as before, this is the Jurassic transformed....there is only now. :)


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