To see infinity in a room…
Perez Art Museum, Miami
I too, am surprised I’m posting this photo of myself, not too well put together(!), but the mood was to try to wander the museum as quietly as possible, taking a mostly silent, somewhat invisible day. 🙂
Kusama‘s works are not hard to encounter these days if one lives in a city. Here, they are in the fashion district as well, lining shop windows and providing bright focal points amidst the ordinary scheme of things. I can’t be sad about that! After all, the first time I encountered her outrageous dots they were situated about Fairchild Gardens in the sunshine and rain.
For PAMM, hers is art that rises to the level of the building space itself–a host which often outshines its guests.
Two minutes in this Infinity Room titled Love is Calling, made what will be a lasting impression in my consciousness, but this may not have been so had I not taken time to contemplate the poem read aloud through as well, Residing in a Castle of Shed Tears.
Even the title was enough to re-frame my first impression. Look at the photo again and see if it does yours, too.
You Seeing, Being Seeing
Detritus from the past floated to the surface of consciousness upon my waking this morning and has been gathering since then. I’ve been watching, noticing how momentum builds quietly, noticing how the pull of my attention gets stronger, narratives more elaborate.
When I look for a contrast, something to counteract, what arises is You Seeing, Enlightened Seeing, Being Seeing—an idea P came up with in the insight group Play-as-Being, which some played with vigorously for several months back around 2009, logging observations along the way.
Enlightened Seeing wasn’t part of the original framework, a friend reminds. It was introduced to help make a logistical jump for the struggling, but was dropped swiftly. I’ll still include it here because it’s part of the exercise to see what remains of these ideas this much later, whether the framework is still useful or not.
I think it is. Useful today, anyway.
Image: Patch of Heaven Sanctuary, Miami Florida
What is You Seeing? You Seeing is how one normally sees whatever, what’s in front of one filter through through preferences… regrets, plans. Or at least it’s a view that can be easily taken over by that kind of thing. It’s the conversations playing in my mind today running on their own… what I should have or could have said if I had been smarter, stronger, had more that people wanted from me, healthier, etc. It’s survival skills, I guess, fortressing, shoring up.
The effect isn’t hard to fall into, even if it isn’t as easily triggered as once was for me. This time, it popped up with a FB post, an in-law reaching out to a closer family member in a kind way. I saw this before going to bed, then found myself carrying on conversations with the person as I woke, propagating scripts and scenarios that eventually grew strong enough to propagate even more spin-offs.
A thing about “You Seeing”: it’s a fixer. It figures things out. It wants to go back or forward, even sees that as freedom. It’s not useless, just limited when it’s out of a wider context, like living in a bathroom when a whole house by the ocean is yours to enjoy. You Seeing isn’t what is before one exactly, but what one sees when projecting a glass darkly.
I don’t mean to demonize it, which can be a mistake of spiritual teachings. How amazing, how creative, that this so-called self sees at all!
Enlightened Seeing is a less personal view, but still a view. There’s far more spaciousness, outwardness. I want, but I want peace for you, love for you, resolution for everyone. Enlightened Seeing recognizes there is more to see than the seeing self sees, that there is richness and possibility accessible by questioning, exploring, looking up, out, testing. To see in an enlightened sense is not to be constricted by fear but rather expanded by love.
There is a you/me in Enlightened Seeing, though. One has gone from a Me at the center, to a YouMe at the center. Elevated view, but still view.
This might be represented well by a dream in which I tried to climb to the top of an overloaded vehicle in response to there not being a place saved for me inside. Rather than argue for my place, or sabotage the trip, the pain was accepted, folded in as part of the whole of human experience. It was pain, but not suffering. Suffering was right there, offering a sneaky-spiral energy, but I saw it, and that there were many possibilities other than being part of that trip.
Perhaps enlightened seeing is when the observer is prominent, confident and steady to be with what arises in a loving way. There’s some picture I have in mind when I consider this, where there is no barrier to seeing behind one and in front of one simultaneously, including seeing inside one–no barriers into eternity. Whatever comes up then greets so much openness.
Enlightened Seeing is more stable. It leaves space. Liu bai.
[P.S. I’ll write about the concept of liu bai soonish. For now, here is a lovely article: The Art of ‘Liu Bai’
I think Enlightened Seeing is the “better me” … the one who rolls with what’s happening and builds capacity to offer more and more ‘to the world’ — to indeed, even save and heal the world through higher and higher motivations and intentions. Certainly, better me is happier than constricted me, and actually, I live this much of the time. I feel when I slip and do what’s needed to get back. Not this doesn’t feel like ‘me’ to me.
The me-first view is ‘right there’ though, and there are times I don’t catch it for a long while… so there can be a lot of effort involved in not giving into the pull. This is why we call it spiritual ‘practice’.
Being Seeing is not a view. These days there are many wonderful explorers and writers on non-duality, in part because there is just so much information flow via YouTube and other avenues. There is language that comes very close. There are also lots of people articulating ways in which teachers from different traditions overlap, or rest at the same points.
There are ways to describe what it is for non-self to ‘see’.
It might be argued that Enlightened Seeing is what non-duality is about, too… beyond you and me, and this perhaps is a bit why Enlightened Seeing was dropped back then. Some found it more of a hindrance than help, felt enlightenment was already the highest aspiration. Which of course it is. There is no thing higher.
The language has always been around, in phrases like Let be, or Let go and let God, or Be Here Now, etc. And guidance to ‘surrender’ has always been part of even mainstream Christianity. But so few have been able to surrender without disconnecting from human life. My sense is that we are more able to have friends and vocabulary and ways to spend time without having to merely You See, now, and are enjoying our time being able to Enlightened See. It already seems so much better, so unthinkable from earlier times.
To attempt to distinguish Being Seeing, again I’ll resort to dream because it comes closest. On my first trip to Japan, after a long travel, whirlwind walk around Kyoto meeting my host in person for the first time, then finally arriving at the wonderful little place I would stay, I fell asleep deeply, in a way that didn’t feel like being asleep at all. Rather it was like being taken over, like being inhabited. There wasn’t any ‘me’ directing, nothing resisting a beautiful tour through streets and gardens and the whole of Kyoto.
It was it, an impartation–so much at once, yet easy. It took a long time, but also no time at all. Total welcome without difference between inside and out. Actually there was only Japan, not a me appreciating a place, and never any point in which to assert myself, nor any need.
To be on a deep awareness journey is to have dipped toes into this sensibility, I think; it’s what keeps us on the journey. We can’t forget. We are changed. We’re aware that’s there. We’ve tasted Rest.
Script is flipped.
No me or you, but also no no me and no you – just experience without need for a self-in-control (an exhausting mode of being). The thought to ‘do’ something would not even show up, would not make sense. I think this is why P always tried to get at it by focusing on wu wei.
Wu wei is not a state of being that comes and goes, not a flow state, but flow states are effects of Wu Wei. Flow states are places where we are nudged into giving up, nudging toward surrender, toward Being Seeing.
Stomach flu. I’ve spent the last few days sleeping, and today, still achy but not able to sleep much more, I’m laying in bed listening to videos: Budget Mom, Bernardo Kastrup, sustainability videos.
This seems the best use I can make of the time, yet I’m acutely aware of the imbalance pattern in my life, between the learning I take in, and what I give out… what that learning translates into. Too much doesn’t seem to circulate until I stop completely, taking in as little as possible for a while.
But what would be even better, would be to just take things slowly in a more fluid way, to consistently allow in more space, breath, contemplation. Not stopping, but slowing way down on the intakes and outtakes.
Easying of Things
My favorite shifts are the ones barely noticed, as though they don’t have much to do with me, at all. When did the sky, become so blue? Have I always laughed so loud? I don’t want to eat the chocolate, but instead, the strawberry. It’s no longer jasmine that reels, but orange blossom.
Such pleasure, simply observing. Tendencies toward contraction quieten, and there is no story to tell. How to instead let the magic be.
So many things make up our stories, our lives. Various objects, substances, ideas, obligations. It’s interesting to just let some run their course. Let the shampoo, make up, frozen food, all run out. Notice the qualities of the emptiness when less and less, frames the openness. No de-cluttering or organizing. So soothing to appreciate the space, taking over.
Rather than the bursts and busts of energy, charges of accumulation, a gentle stirring, building, an easy-ing of things. A million gentle surrenders.
“To attain knowledge, add things everyday. To attain wisdom, remove things every day.”
― Lao Tse
Bubbles of Awareness
I was standing in the kitchen of the outdated apartment we struggle to afford, injured dog across the main room looking out at me from his new crate hoping for potatoes, rubbing the pinched neck that was my pinched back a few days ago and getting ready for a job that like all jobs, I both love and loathe (and need even more than I did before taking said dog to the Vet), when I found myself smiling, bubbles of “I love my life” permeating the air.
It made no sense, wonderfully, and that no-sense reminded me ~ spaciousness is always available. There is always room. One doesn’t have to pretend that things aren’t hard when they’re hard, or that there aren’t worries when there are. But that’s not all there is.
In celebration, here are a few more photos of Fairchild Gardens. 🙂
An Autumn Out of Time
Four in the morning. I’m listening to an audio book titled Stolen Focus in hopes that something will get through my thick skull about the way I draw my world. I’m anxious tonight because the dog seems injured (vet tomorrow), and because I’ve just done a search for apartment prices, not just in my area but in several areas I’d be willing to move to. They’re all out of our range, but here the carpets they won’t remove are adding into intense allergic symptoms my son is having and our continual colds.
It feels so discouraging at times. Fear arises as I try to envision the future and locate better ways to approach things. I realize anew, that most choices are not personal choices; there are always many factors and players. I take responsibility simply because it is mentally healthier to do so, not because that’s accurate. Something whispers, “Since this world and they way you live in it isn’t accurate anyway, why not try some weird new angles?” I wonder what those would be.
There’s a bright sun patch in the photo I’ve posted, taken at Fairchild Gardens a few days ago before I threw out my back and dropped a large metal pole on my foot. There was a rare cool breeze in Miami that afternoon, and I needed to integrate an especially insightful therapy appointment in which I had shared another “mom dream.”
In the dream my mother is seated in the driver’s seat of a car, a station wagon type vehicle with a trunk on top. The car is full, presumably with my sister and her family, and I am trying to fit myself into a large bag of raked leaves in that trunk. The issue is, my foot keeps slipping on the leaves, all quite large, as they fall out of the bag. I notice no one is trying to help me, nor will they look at me. I notice the bumpy path they are about to take will move them through a dry creek, and that the bag certainly won’t be able to stay on the car, even and especially if I insist on getting in.
I stop struggling, and wake without distress, surprised to have dreamed about them at all. It really is the case that grief has dissipated generally.
I interpreted the dream as being about resources. Perhaps the leaves were money? And perhaps I needed to see yet again, that they are not concerned about me, are not going to be anytime soon. Let them leave.
Dr. W. asked me to see the bright spots in the metaphors, though. She called attention to my trying to climb on top of the situation, asked me to give myself credit for that. She reminded me that leaves are also pages, and that my primary mode of healing is writing.
The assignment I was given was to write more about the dream, but instead I got myself to the gardens which were, as you can see from the photo above, overflowing with leaves. The effect of our short cold snap had been an Autumn out of time.
Clarity and Trust
While contemplating AI’s progress and effects on the wider world, and my sense of self as player in that world as well as bridge back to ‘realer me’, I’ve focused even more intentionally on grokking what consciousness is like–what consciousness feels like, as directly as possible.
I’ve wondered whether doing so might offer clues toward discernment and trust in my impressions going forward–especially as concerns navigating territories of trust about others, beings and seeming beings who are quite shifting and permeable even without variables presented by AI!
I’ve been both wonderful and terrible at others historically. For instance, I have at times seen too deeply, too quickly, speaking to an underlying identity or situation rather what the other meant to project. Although a relief to someone deeply tired of surface-level connection, instantly bonding, what an invasion of privacy to another, unsettling. They may feel defensive, depending on sensitivity to their own responses, and look to shore themselves up with me in the future.
I can be caught by surprise by animosity that has no speak-able origin, rooted in a conversation that never even happened on the surface.
This phenomenon is one reason I took an autism-spectrum self test a few years ago after hearing similar reporting within those circles. I also share with many on the spectrum, being over-stimulated during parties or several conversations with strangers. I’m taking in too many layers and my processing isn’t up to par. Rather than outwardly melting down though, my mental gates simply shut, allowing the me inside to retreat to a safe place while the shell of me remains in and perhaps sustains, the room.
This may be trauma response, or just intense introversion. Either way, it’s a protective capacity most others simply do not understand in the moment. I am “hard to read” or “aloof” or a “deer in the headlights.” Some have even felt judged, filling up the lack of answers with their own stories.
My test was negative for being on the autistic spectrum, by the way, although skirted numbers closely with regard to social responses. Those on the spectrum were once assumed not to experience empathy, not be able to put themselves in the shoes of another to the same extent than so-called neurotypicals do, but there may be extra-empathy going on, at least sometimes. For instance due to this shutting down I experience, I sort of feel as though I can empathize with an AI-like human, or a human-like AI. It’s the Bladerunner question, the Turing Test (although we’re moving beyond Turing test these days).
I’m not the one testing AI, but the one sincerely doubting my own reality.
My sense is that I’m only stating the obvious, but that the obvious is still worth stating. Therefore, I’ll keep at exploration… at the myriad explorations that in fact are the same one. My lab will continue to be writing, flow state or stream of consciousness writing in particular, because like Chuang Tzu, I’m not sure whether I’m looking at writing that stirs one to be aware, or awareness that stirs one to write.
Dreaming and writing share layers with those suggested by teachings concerning karma purification, as well. Although not as clear cut as this, the first layer of dreaming works through thoughts and happenings of the day, consolidating memory and contextualizing, weeding out what is determined to lave little importance. Arguments or conversations that didn’t finish properly or satisfactorily may take place but still not come to satisfaction. If this phase is allowed to work itself through, it can give way to more creative ‘content’ scenarios and metaphors. Things might be finished, questions answered, etc. Defrag.
Knowledge leads to understanding..
Then may come insightful metaphors, real guidance. It is at this phase where I’ve sometimes experienced a conversation with someone that later plays out similarly, or have received understanding that’s allowed me to let striving go. There is insight here, and it is a kind of magic, but still magic based on content. There may still be situations and puzzles and problems to solve, guidance to receive, even prophetic scenes.
Understanding leads to wisdom.
It is beyond this that Rest appears… clarity, ease, transcendent activity. There could still be metaphor, but not ‘about’ something. There could be a teaching, but not a lesson, if that makes sense. It’s blissful, replenishing. Everything ‘else’ naturally falls into context here… the relative subsumed into the ultimate.
And what could I possibly write beyond that? Buddhist teachers get close to it with clear light.
Spent this morning’s therapy session talking about AI. I hadn’t expected that at all, although I do realize how consumed my thoughts have been.
Dr. W. pointed out that although I was saying I was terrified by the technology, the energy I was exuding when talking about it wasn’t fearful at all, but rather stimulated, wide, highly-interested. She’s right. Although I’m concerned, of course, there is also the sense of dipping a toe into an upcoming world I may or may not be alive for. It is the feeling of early virtual reality, and also maybe what’s missing about current virtual reality.
What I’m concerned about with AI (unequal influence, quantum-disinformation, blurred lines between what constitutes ‘workers rights’ and things along those lines) is deeply valid, as are my existential questions from yesterday regarding how I will respond vs. how I think I will respond.
However, there is also the feeling of suddenly having a personal assistant ‘who’ could be good at the things I have needed to be better at, who I can bounce ideas back and forth with, who can search for and find things much faster, freeing my energy for creative thinking. Considering I’ve been an assistant who has done those things for someone however, it also displaces me from the mundane things I can do and am reliably needed for. Notice that here I don’t use the word replace, because the hope is that someone like me, + her own assistant, might simply elevate the work.
On scale, an ethics needs to develop around what is happening. A first court case regarding a graphic novel is happening now or is about to happen, and we may begin to look for clarity about augmentation disclosure, etc. It just seems so strange that we haven’t even started when we’re already woefully behind, but maybe that IS the vibe itself, the actual normal.
I plan to rewatch the film Ex Machina as well as HER. Both great films look at these questions in important and interesting ways, but I watched them as an interesting philosophical ride before. We’re way out beyond hypotheticals territory now.
Optimistically, there is some inkling that those of us who are naturally philosophically inclined and introspective, and maybe especially inclined toward regularly grappling with notions of non-self and questions around so-called free will, will be better situated than most when it comes to yet again reframing and revisiting our lives/worlds/minds as we’ve known them anew.
I continue to be captivated by ChatGPT’s capabilities, admittedly with trepidation over the many existential questions it poses. As someone who loves books and reading, and who earnestly believes that to read someone’s writing is to get to know them as a person in an intimate way, will I be able to tell if there is a person behind something I engage with?
Right now, yes, I think I can tell for the most part. There is some kind of synchronistic complexity I experience myself as tapping into when engaging with someone, an opening of worlds between us. But am I kidding myself? How long will I be able to do that? To what extent do I want myself to become an enhanced person? SO much to ask.
Below is ChatGPT’s latest response to my giving just a few requests, as I continue to go down the list of ‘things I’ve meant to write about’. It becomes something different along the way, certainly, but that might not be a bad thing.
The young girl walked through the streets of Kyoto, mesmerized by the
vibrant autumn leaves that carpeted the ground. As she wandered through the city, she stumbled upon a hidden path that led her to an ancient temple nestled in a moss garden. The garden was a sea of green, with verdant moss covering the ground and trees, giving the impression of an enchanted forest. The girl marveled at the sight, feeling as though she had stepped into a fairy tale. The temple itself was a work of art, with its ornately carved doors and shimmering golden roofs. The walls were adorned with intricate frescoes and murals, depicting scenes from ancient legends and mythologies. The girl tentatively stepped inside, feeling a sense of awe and reverence wash over her. The interior was equally breathtaking, with its polished stone floors and delicate paper lanterns. The air was filled with the sound of chanting and the soft glow of candlelight. The girl sat down on a cushion, closed her eyes, and let the peaceful atmosphere wash over her. As she left the temple, the girl couldn’t help but feel a sense of enlightenment and inner peace.
ChatGPT’s Enlightened Memoir Outline
Sure, here is a possible outline for a non-linear memoir about enlightenment:
- Prologue: Set the stage for the memoir by introducing the theme of enlightenment and the journey that you will be recounting.
- Chapter 1: Begin with a significant moment or experience that shaped your understanding of enlightenment. This could be a spiritual awakening, a turning point in your journey, or a moment of realization.
- Chapter 2: Jump back in time to your earliest memories or experiences that relate to enlightenment. This could include early encounters with spirituality or religion, or moments when you first became interested in enlightenment.
- Chapter 3: Return to the present and describe your current understanding of enlightenment and how you have come to this understanding. This could include specific practices or techniques that have helped you along the way, as well as any challenges or setbacks you faced.
- Chapter 4: Flash back to a specific moment or experience that had a significant impact on your journey. This could be a moment of great challenge or struggle, or a moment of great breakthrough or realization.
- Chapter 5: Return to the present and describe how you have integrated your understanding of enlightenment into your daily life. How has it changed your relationships, your work, or your sense of purpose?
- Epilogue: Reflect on the overall journey you have taken, and offer any wisdom or insights you have gained to others who may be seeking enlightenment.
I’ll admit, this one floored me. I hadn’t expected ChatGPT to be able to write a non-linear outline at all, much less immediately.