Hail! Dear friend from afar!
Can you hear me? I believe somehow that I can reach you.
My heart burns for news from you, for pictures, weather reports, statements of faith, ideas, sensations from your standpoint there where you live, there where you breathe, where you contemplate the movement of seasons, the tide of events. Speak!
I stand looking out toward you, toward where you may be, gazing with all my eyes to the outer reaches, surrounded here and alone, the ocean before me a desert of hidden life, deep, uniformly complex, unfathomable, insurmountable.
I sing my truest song in your direction, gesticulate my most colorful flags, stomp, beat my drums most enthusiastically. My fire is bright, the smoke an obvious line to my dancing invitation: my heartfelt welcome and salutation. Hello!
How long it has been since we stood side by side? It was another life I can not remember! I only feel the loss of you as a command to reach out, to fill at least half the distance to you with my call, which is my love.
Where could you truly be, if not on the farthest star? The planets there are likely as beautiful as mine, rich with struggle and joy for travelers such as we. But do you float, do you soar? Are you substantial, like me, bound to trudge, crawl, to roll heavily over land and tumble down hills? I ask about your physical conditions, your chains, your wings.
Are you incarnate? Diaphanous? Separated, like me, from the universe by a nearly impermeable membrane of belief and preconception, incased in pliant flesh and adamant psyche, unable as I am to tolerate a shared ownership of my puny self? Please say!
Yet, nothing; no word. Perhaps it is solely my fault. I am clearly blind and deaf. Here: what I need from you, I give to you. That is fair. And perhaps you are receiving me. I will paint for you the most colorful and detailed scene my words can conjure, in hope of reciprocation. You will echo my trumpets and rainbows, I do hope!
The words I build for you, this picture I compose may not reach you, I know. What bottle could float the parsecs, so far! Or are you right here, though lost to me in another element, suspended in another phase of existence, yet feeling me? All my words, then, and more, I will compress and expand into the language that can leap, can pierce the distance, rip the curtain between your world and mine. I am pushing rhythmically on the ether here with my love. Feel my waves!
There are thousands of mysteries! Where to begin? I look (how is that?) out upon a universe from the very center point (which makes me feel important immediately)! I seem to be an individual (what joy! what loneliness!), a single being of intelligence and volition, aware (somewhat) of my surroundings, remembering a rich past (memory!), surrounded by others of my kind. Yet none of this is certain, as my past is truncated and vague, and I suffer bouts of unconsciousness. It is clear from the holes in my recollections that I can not be the author of my existence, however much I do feel myself to be. Nor can I conceive the How or Why of anything!
Being a point of view, seeing the universe around and outside of myself, requires that I am separate from it, which is an impossibility. Only gods are so situated. You see that I live a paradox! The obvious conclusion is that I am mightily deceived: but by accident or intention, and for what purpose? Does the universe benefit from my sequestered state? Am I intended to develop some new characteristic, the first of a race of beings able to feel alone, the first thereby free to learn independent action? That would make this experience of my life a purposeful endeavor, and my anguished separation a vital part of a plan. My hope spins rainbows!
Ah, I sigh. I wake from sleep, sit upright, and think of you with an exhalation of air, an expression of unsatisfied feeling. I miss you.
So you may not form the wrong idea, I must explain that my organism breathes. The main trunk of my body expands and contracts with or without my conscious involvement, taking in and expelling air, and it will do this as long as I am its occupant. I can alter the cycle somewhat, but if I increase or decrease the intake even slightly I will lose my consciousness within it, allowing the body to come back to its proper rhythm without my interference. We get used to this breathing, but it’s actually pretty strange.
Apparently, the ancestors of this organism were not content to live slowly and gently on the incoming radiation of the local star, but instead began killing and consuming the beings nearby that were so peaceful and content. (This shows that evil exists in the very beginnings of things.) Later, as more and more types of organisms were growing and struggling for dominance, my progenitors became more and more broad in diet and consumed every type of living thing they encountered.
Obviously, over time my types grew increasingly sneaky and violent, and all others became correspondingly skeptical and furtive. Though my interface with this body allows me some bit of control, and I may choose to consume a relatively narrow range of beings, those already deceased, perhaps, or those of rudimentary consciousness, I still find my body retains violent tendencies. My struggle, then, is to subdue these in favor of openness, and acceptance. I find no pleasure in violence and dominance, please be assured!
I am describing feelings to you, or moods, and they are the color of my actions. There are some few actions I am required to do to exist in this form, but the majority of my deeds are the results of my feelings, moods, preferences, likes and dislikes. These feelings become wrapped up intimately with my breathing, and with the system that rhythmically distributes liquified nutrients. Their function (phase, amplitude, and frequency), is directly tied to my mood, even so far as to say that I feel slightly better and worse with every breath in and out. Mostly, however, they change their force and rate directly upon my changes in feeling, making them a good indicator of my intentions.
Beings here of my type now, through ages of violence and craftiness, consider ourselves the masters of this planet, for good or ill, which brings me back to breathing. To access the stored radiant energy in the conquered and deceased organisms, it is necessary to physically ingest them piece by piece, and then continue to disintegrate them within one’s body using sharp teeth and acids. I am personally thankful that I am so clueless as to take no legitimate responsibility for the hierarchy of dominance on this planet. Through marvelously complex processes, within my body the vital constituent parts are brought into contact with the planet’s atmospheric gasses, which, in combining, release heat and energy internally for movement.
Except for the initial ingesting, this is all happening constantly without my assistance, at least in my personal case. My main section expands and contracts the meanwhile, rhythmically drawing in and expelling gases continuously, which I can often experience as somewhat pleasurable. My mood has become attached to this respiration, with the in-breath giving hope, and the out-breath sadness, in differing degrees. My sigh upon waking was an expression of my loss of you, which has somewhat lessened through this writing. Thank you!
What a strange letter yesterday! Please excuse my detail, but I do wish to share my conditions of existence here with you. These bodily processes are all too strange and complicated for me, truly, and I would not last a moment if I were in charge. But fortunately this organism seems to know exactly what to do to thrive, even leading me to this or that food it needs (also known as other recently living beings) by the attractiveness I experience through my different sense organs.
Perhaps in order to promote the forming of communities and families, our species has a latent sympathy for others, a sympathy we can nevertheless overcome in order to feed ourselves or to protect our kind from a perceived attack. I am saying that we can kill, but it is natural that the killing itself does not bring pleasure. After the death of a being at our hands, we will generally give thanks to the world, to our good luck, or to a deity for our continued life, and pledge to live a more honorable life in exchange for the life taken by our hands. This is in a healthy being. But we have aberrations. We have a feeling for right and wrong, but can become uncertain and lose our way.
Do you know doubt? Of this I speak. I am deaf in a room of conversation and can not notice who it is addresses me unless I am touched, and then I can not read lips. I have the belief in my capacity to understand, and know my desire to take part, but the world is blank to me on causes, reasons, directions. It can seem that all about me is purposeful action while my path is aimless existence, dumb blundering.
We here are pricked and poked, which however is a good thing since we are born with an endless capacity to linger in comfort. Comfort once found is short, and once noticed is soon gone. If we are upright too long, we need to lie prone; if too long lying we must get up. Pain drives us to change. We must eat again and again, several times daily, or else be attacked again by pain of hunger. What lies close at hand does not satisfy, so we must contrive ways to be useful enough to others to exchange our effort for their hard-earned wealth, or be crafty enough to subdue some other hungry creature and devour its life. Giving in, giving up, refusing to eat, lying down to wait for death brings on biting insects and carrion fowl not content to await our end, who will cut into our flesh in our most tender parts. So on we are driven by the whip.
Yet this must be wise. We are not ready for perfection. We here dream of Utopia, Nirvana, a place where all troubles cease, but given command of ourselves we fail. The smallest number of us would resist the temptation of satisfaction, and would continually overindulge our taste for pleasure to be rendered a twitching mass of orgasm endlessly. Reason comforts me, and thinking these thoughts, I now sleep.
Still nothing from you. I don’t know what I had expected, perhaps that you would appear alive in my dreams; I do await. As I write you I am lonely, perhaps depressed in mood. We get that way. At least, I get that way. Feeling lonely and separate, I can pretend that no one has suffered as I do for you, and then feel foolish for thinking myself so special. I assume you will understand my words, if not the feelings they convey.
So strange that none of this may be familiar to you, wherever you are! Being stuck in one time and place is maddening! Since my sight is so limited, I don’t know anything, but perhaps as a compensation I am able to imagine. This is perhaps the strangest thing. I can create any number of pictures of things how they are actually, or how they once were, or how they will be, and my pictures may be completely wrong, totally unconnected with the universe, only existing in me. I may create entire universes in my imagination!
These pictures I create can seem to me to be entirely real, and my experience of them may trigger chemicals to be released in my system that affect my mood. My physical body knows many things that I do not, and it reacts forcefully without my conscious direction. It jumps when there is a loud noise, it sweats when it is hot, gives me feelings of pleasure and pain by the release of chemicals, likely to direct my behavior toward its preservation. But there may be a malfunction and a release of chemicals for no reason whatsoever. We are often made with faults.
My mood is connected with these chemicals, at least indirectly. Mood, you say? Well, I don’t understand it, either. It must be a late development, perhaps to go along with our gradual preference of right over wrong. We do things, and then we think about things. Or we think about doing things before we do them, and think about how doing those things will make us feel. Our feeling is attached to our doing, and our thinking is attached to our feeling, and so our mood is the feeling we have about the things we did or will do.
So far so good. But the mood can get out in front of the doing, or linger without cause, and I can feel guilty or dumb for no reason. So my mood can have nothing to do with my actual life, though these moods, good and bad, can have a self-fulfilling function. Because of them I may be more productive, having an irrational exuberance and strength, or be much less, become sad unto death.
It is obvious that my higher state of being is not on a par with my lower. My composition is not uniform. The closer to the earthly element I am, the more advanced my construction. Bones, then muscles, then blood, then respiration, circulation, feelings, warmth, natural affinities, and finally thoughts, reasons, character, conscience: in other words, me. My individuality is new. The higher I mount spirituality, the younger, the least experienced, I am. Morality, conscience, reasoning is last, empathy the youngest of my features.
My corporeal body, for example, is the embodiment of wisdom. Every part of it, from the joints and tendons, to the organs, to the electrical communication system, is marvelously sophisticated. My temperature is maintained, energy is extracted from the material I ingest, the waste products eliminated, all without my conscious assistance. I, my conscious part, am an infant here and know nothing of my continued existence.
But I have echoes of a connection to a past where I was not thus. These echoes come from my most earthly parts, deep within my body. I know in my bones that you are here, that you are everywhere. The wisdom in my bones is how I know of you. It is a knowledge that does not make pictures or conjectures. It is everywhere and solid, my knowing of you. You are. Enough for today. I sleep in your direction. Find me!
Dear one, I must explain this idea of “now.” It is a mobile cubic centimeter of volition out of which someone like me seems to be alive, and it’s at once glorious and burdensome. How can I relate something so odd? It is likely just a vague idea to you, but it is NOW to me. Now is the most special thing! It is everything, the only real thing, locked as I am in the flow of constant now. All other conceptions, memories, or predictions, are not now. We are always in now if we are truly here. Oh, but the burden! I will never have this moment again! I must watch the moments pass, see them go forever, know them to be forever in my unreachable past; or I can imagine them coming toward me and try to be ready for them. When I am truly living, I do not notice the moments at all as they come and pass. To live without noticing it is best.
There is nothing more strange than this flowing but unchanging NOW. All pain and pleasure comes from it, from being in the now, being in its bondage. In pain, I wish to escape and cannot; in ecstasy, I expand to its periphery and nearly disappear.
The moment I am flowing in, my constant reference, is centered here within me, and I am unable to reach any other points directly. To move in space I must spend time (spend time!), laboriously trundling my bulk about against the pull of this rocky planet. You may well be in a state of continuity or duration that is outside of time altogether: I somewhat recall this! It was there while in our former state we were intimate, I feel, but this is almost impossible to picture from my narrow view, I am so sorry to say!
If we each were alone here, growing and learning without example, seeing ourselves as unique, we might not come to believe in the possibility of our non-existence. Even with our inability to recall our former lives, our time in duration before our present birth, we might not ever think about our coming deaths. But everywhere are examples, the painful loss of contact with friends we felt were intimate. This one-track thinking down a narrow stream of time makes a wider view of time/space impossible, so our friends grow old, die, and leave our awareness. We no longer see them and are unable to contact them. The impossible is manifest.
Life begins and ends, then, apparently. At least this is what we begin to consider. Then comes the thought of the ending even of our own being! What a thought! When this first hits us it can be devastating. It is then the clock starts ticking, funeral bells tolling, and we too easily become greedy, selfish, unkind, fearful, for we become convinced all will soon end. Our blindness squeezes out our empathy, makes us puny misers of our lives, our gifts.
The counterforce must come from deep within, a rising surge. Against all outer evidence we must be extravagant, must move through life making grand sweeping gestures. We must continually let go of pettiness, of our poverty, possessing nothing, and act out of wealth, out of plenty, allowing time to pass, allowing all things to fade from our grasp with a smile, as though it is all ours before and after the giving. It is beautiful when one mounts the surge of this counterflow.
It is then we discover the magic of the world, that by pretending wealth we find ourselves wealthy. By pretending there is nothing to lose, we discover we are in possession of all. By letting go, we gain all. The essence of this strange system of time, of now, is paradox. The center is the periphery. Everything is nothing, and nothing is everything. Now I am close to you. Good night!
Many things of paramount importance here must be assumed, as though I am walking through a game or playing a part in someone else’s play. I simply must keep going forward unknowing, picking up clues where I may.
The sensations of being alive are oftentimes so impossibly terrible or ecstatically sublime as to make me lose my connection to my individuality. There is an interface between what I perceive and what I experience, and this is where my feeling of self resides, which can cause problems. This interface can become overloaded and fail to transmit an accurate picture of my surroundings, or it can shut off altogether when over-stressed.
I regularly become tired, and then while resting I lose consciousness. This happens every several hours! I do not understand it. It is more than rest. Simply resting while remaining conscious will not relieve my fatigue.
During these periods of unconsciousness I often surface into other worlds. These are composed of variable natural laws, and when there I have amazing powers! but in returning to this first world I doubt whether I was as real and substantial there as I am here. The curious point being that, while there, I am myself and do not recall this present world (happily, I must say); but while here, where I now write you, I remember being there. In the one world I can do more, create more, travel farther, but in the other (this one) the things I laid aside confront me again upon my return. It is permanence versus possibility. Must one of these worlds be an illusion? Must one be valued less than the other, and which one?
I imagine you wondering why I would think to value one existence over another, one where there is a permanence of things, especially, if in that existence I have fewer powers. Why isn’t any world where I am “myself,” where I am an individual, considered a “real” world? To answer, I must bring up the fact that this planet has a very large number of conscious beings similar in shape and function to myself. Each of us, apparently, has a similar feeling of independence and similar questions of our individuality, and we converse. We record our thoughts and our arguments, and over time a “general opinion” emerges. The general opinion is that one is more adult when one sees the less permanent reality as “dreams,” or illusions.
Then comes the question: If one world is an illusion, why not both? Both have the feeling of reality when I am in them. The inhabitants/specters of these worlds, other beings of apparent consciousness, try their best to convince me of their vivacity, which either comforts me or drives me to despair depending on my view at the time. But I ask: If I can be tricked in one world, can I not be tricked in others?
I must rest. More tomorrow!
Dear one, there is sadness here. Perhaps it is more correct to say that we here can carry sadness. It is so easy to do! This day I awoke with it, and now carry it with me. As I write you, I intend to think it, reason with it, understand it, and thereby dispel it. It is a question whether I will succeed!
We regularly see beings here alive one moment and not alive the next, and the shock is great. Also there is deformity, illness, every sort of twisted alteration from a clear form, apart from aging. Ah, yes, you may not know aging. It is another result of a flowing time: beginnings and endings. All things progress from possibility and uncertainty to impossibility and certainty. Depending on where one looks, the prospect is bleak or beautiful.
Remembering nothing, we know nothing. So we make up stories for comfort. We begin to suspect that there is more than randomness afoot in life and death. as a way to ease our pain. You see, we are so long in this rut of unknowing that we lose the purpose of everything, don’t remember from whence we come. When one of us survives a fatal event, we look into their past for a reason, or we pretend that their future will be purposeful. The more sensitive of us begin examining our smallest acts, and rightly conclude that they are determinative, and so begin searching for signs, clues for how to avoid the coming fatal event.
Fear is a result of our narrow experience of time, and from fear come all spiritual ills, “sins” as we call them. We are distracted by the onrushing events, by the moments passing us by forever, by our inability to escape from the pain of the moment. We don’t see the bigger picture, and get lost in the detail. We glimpse the spirit hit and miss, usually only in the eyes of those closest to us; and then when they pass on, we easily lose hope.
Reality is so hard! You, in your duration, your eternity of knowing everything and living in all time, can’t conceive what reality is! Yet it could be the reason for our having our single point of view moving forward through a narrow, one-way channel of time. Strange to see your limitations, you with the wider view: you can not comprehend our narrow mindedness!
Reality is the forceful encounter with results of choices slightly further down the line for things we do now, or the facing of results now of things we or our progenitors did in the past. Again, you do not understand. With no memory of our existence outside this furrow, we experience reality as a thing without possibility, as “the way it is,” and we feel the utter loss of all other paths for the eternity of our little line of time. It is bleak!
Goodness, I do go on. I imagine you contemplating me as I might a snail, we both unable to comprehend the other through a barrier of time. But my writing helps, at least the attempt to bridge the distance to you. More soon!
How do I feel myself to be an individual, separate and alone (the reason for my writing you)? It is an odd quirk. I (I!) suppose it is the relative silence, the lack of other independent voices within my consciousness that gives me the illusion of independence. I can bring up symphonies within me full of sound and life, play out dramas, hear words spoken, but in none of these do I find a being equal to myself.
It is tantalizing to sense that there is no one, no voice, and no reason I am not in complete control of every aspect of my existence. I would seem to be the only consciously commanding being within my walls; yet I am hindered. My power is limited, my memory truncated, hazy. It is possible I may only be an entity of my operating system’s interface, an ephemeral creation of organic processes cut off and out of reach of most of the levers that direct my more complex systems. “I” may not even exist in any real sense (you see what inanities we can conceive)!
Within the limited scope of my power is a (seeming) control of my largest muscles. I have volition, at least when I am functioning correctly. I am mobile, I have the choice of what foods to ingest above some minimum, and I manage the noise or silence within my interface, but these things only after much practice. The work of my life has been to improve upon my limited freedoms, and to acquire others.
A most troubling and peculiar aspect of beings of my kind on this planet is our seeming separateness, from each other, from all that surrounds us. I refer only to those most like myself. It is a function of our interface, I believe, of our individuality dwelling between our incoming perceptions and our manufactured conceptions. Animated forms of life here that do not have this interface, though considered lower on the evolutionary ladder, live directly with their surroundings, as though with individuality comes doubt and separateness. The ladder metaphor may be faulty, naturally, since it was invented by those who place themselves at its top rung.
There is evidence that the interface has the ability to manufacture reality; hence, our doubt. The interface takes in reality, interprets it to its liking, but then an echo of that reality lingers within it, perhaps like memory. Memory is a somewhat accurate copy of something experienced earlier in time; but while experiencing the memory of reality I have the ability to alter the pictures and sounds. This can happen with and without my volition.
It is possible to view a true memory and then replay it and reshape it to be something we would rather have seen than the true scene (all the while not viewing the actual, current reality passing around us, of course). Then we will have a memory of the altered memory that can be viewed and again altered, an so on. These altered pictures can be so clear and vivid as to compete with the originals. For entertainment, you might say that this was a handy skill, but we can become lost in it. The original scenes of reality can be lost in favor of a past reality we would prefer. Do you see the problem?
In any case, I can feel alone and separate, and at the same time I can wonder if this feeling is an error, that it is impossible to be separate from anything, which can then make me feel more lost and alone. It is a circle difficult to get out of, hence my writing you.
I suppose I should back up for you, and start at the beginning.
When we first enter a body here, we are not capable of action. It is as though we are placed into a position of absolute vulnerability. I am speaking now as an observer of others; I do not remember anything of my own organic birth. If we consider ourselves to be only that which has our present consciousness and memory, then that physical birth contained nothing of our present selves, and we were formed into who we are by simply having a few years of experience. But there is a mystery about the affair.
Seeing these newly born beings, watching them coming more and more into this world day by day, one gets the strongest impression that they have come from somewhere big. Their presence fills the room.
None of this being discernible from the outset, I create the best possible motivations for my existence, life striving for life, being upon being from the consciousness of stone up awakening in the plant, crying out in the animal, through human kind up into the spheres of angels, excusiei, seraphim, all striving toward perfection, pushed and pulled in and out of corporeal form.
We are a combination of lower and higher forms, leading us to the idea of the evolution of form. If we share certain features with several species, and have many features that those species do not share, we can imagine that we and they were once united at one past stage, but that we have moved on to a higher level. I introduce you to “egotism.” Though there is a constant ranking of beings based on strength, swiftness, and size, an ego allow a ranking in thought only, a placing of oneself above others for no outward reason
Perhaps you do not even see the value of a past, of a memory of our personal past.
Why/how would I have the illusion of my Self if its existence was not a fact? More interestingly, why do I question a thing that seems to obviously be a fact?
Ah, I end where I began, simply with a feeling of you pulling me. And hope; hope that you feel me.