Sunday, November 30, 2008

I’m slipping into my December/winter night/self-indulgent/meditative mode. I love to sit here with just the Christmas lights on (we don’t have a tree yet, but we’ve got the colored lights up on top of the shelf in the living room along with the fake pine garland and real pinecone garland) listening to relaxing music and burning incense.

There’s something about the smell of the incense the just transports me--to my childhood and to other times and places. There’s one piece of music in particular “Fragile Majesty” by Eric Tingstad and Nancy Rumble that never fails to bring up all sorts of images and memories. Combined with the woodsy incense--I see a cabin nestled in the pines, smell the wood smoke, feel the cold, crisp air. I ache for Pennsylvania. I’m bathed in grief and relive feelings of grief and sadness from my childhood.

And even though I don’t often experience sadness anymore in my life, I recognize sadness to have been a very core part of my experience in this lifetime, and very integral in shaping who I am. The feelings of sadness and beauty have always gone together--a luscious ache. I think I was born with too big of a memory. I retain so much of what went before and carry the ache from having lost it. So much natural beauty and rich cultural beauty has been lost. The world has been incredibly uglified in the past few generations.

I’m still toying with my new way of framing consciousness. When I’m driving especially, as I’ve mentioned, I ascend out of the ego. I was thinking last night as I was driving back in the dark after dropping Collin off with P in Roggen--maybe the reason I tend to hallucinate when I drive at night is because I so easily slip the bonds of ego. With no reference points at night it’s much easier to do that in the dark. There should be some sort of warning: do not operate heavy machinery without an ego. It’s definitely dangerous because there’s not exactly anyone at the wheel.

The neat thing is that I’m catching hold of the experience as a slip into and out of that other state. I suppose all of the times in my life when I’ve experienced past life memories I’ve slip the ego and ascended to something else. It’s neat now to be more conscious of it and to recognize the absence of a little self.

What would it be like to move through life as an expression of place rather than as an isolated dot? To ascend to an identity that encompasses the environment, the whole ecosystem, of which I am a part? Can you imagine the depths of integrity I would embody? An aware expression of this place--how cool would that be?

But that gets me back to one of my major challenges in this lifetime--how would a largely egoless being survive financially in these times? I think I struggle so much with earning money precisely because my bond to ego is so tenuous. In other times and places where there isn’t a cash-based society I would do fine. That’s why I think I’m so strongly pulled toward homesteading and achieving self-sufficiency. There would be no more struggle if I just didn’t have to participate in the cash economy. Egos know how to earn money. The more ego, the easier it is to participate in the economy.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

My newest dawning realization is how often I ascend out of my personality into some larger self that seems fused with the world around me. I notice it most often when I’m driving, especially crossing Wiggins hill, but it is happening everywhere. In those moments I don’t exist--not Melanie--not my personality. I think this has always happened. In fact, I suspect I spend a lot of time being more than ego and personality. I’m just becoming more aware of it.

That John Livingston essay, “Other Selves” gives me a nice way to frame what happens. To be in the personality is to downshift into a baser, grosser, clumsier way of being. Out of a larger identity we downshift into the most limited form. We really should be spending the least amount of our time as individual selves. Only in true survival situations--eat or be eaten--should individual self be necessary.

It would be neat if I could get to a point where I can be this larger self and at the same time also be actively engaged in the world. For now the shifts only take place when I’m alone or not interacting with anyone. To actually engage in the world of human interaction from that higher perspective--what would that be like? What would be possible in the realm of human affairs?

John Livingston speculates that perhaps individual self consciousness is our most primitive form of consciousness:

What is being suggested here is that individual self-consciousness has come to be held in such untouchable esteem within our cultural ideology that we have largely forgotten or ignored the likelihood that it is no more than the most basic, radical, and fundamental form of self-awareness. And it may be not only the most basic form, but in an evolutionary sense also the oldest and most primitive, to use the word much savored by the human chauvinist. I would suggest that this most elementary form of consciousness underlies more enriched and mature forms in much the same way as the ancient so-called reptilian brain is said to underlie more recently developed cortical material. If we must speak in progressive terms, as is the custom in evolutionary biology, then we could see a consciousness of group-as-self as something of a development.

I agree that individual self-awareness is probably the most primitive kind of consciousness, but Livingston doesn’t acknowledge that before individual consciousness there was a fusion with the group and with the environment that existed, only it was purely unconscious. To fuse with the larger environment as conscious beings is a new thing and probably we humans are one of the first species to attain that (not that we’ve attained it yet in any collective sense). But we’ve been fused with the larger environment before.

What could be the benefits of being consciously fused? I guess it would be impossible to harm the environment—you’d be able to sense clearly and actually, rather than metaphorically, how you were harming yourself in the process. But beyond that, who would you become? What would human activity and human culture look like?

I suppose there wouldn’t be too many large acts of disturbance, such as wars and exploiting resources. We’d live locally, of course, and practice some form of permaculture--probably a more advanced form than now exists. There would be much more harmony both human-to-human and between humans and the natural world. We would work with the natural order, instead of fighting against it.

It’d be kind of like when foreign bacteria became an integral part of the human body, necessary for its healthy functioning. We would finally become fully integrated into the healthy functioning of Gaia. We would have settled into our proper global niche.

Now this gets me back to thinking--mightn’t all these people with Asperger-type characteristics be those at the cusp of this evolution? We’re able to shift more fluidly to that larger state of awareness. We’re not identified with the group, which is a vestigial form of tribal unconsciousness.

Geez--now that reminds me I have research I want to do on Aspergers. There are so many lines of thought I need to follow up on.