Monday, June 18, 2012

Here I am

Letter to Jack
17 June, Sunday

I am the consciousness that dwells within this instance of an individual that has just wakened from a most fitful sleep.  I am the consciousness that has chosen to put into words the thoughts that have mysteriously revealed themselves to me as though they were my own.  You, on the other hand, are the particular consciousness dwelling within another distinguishable, finely tuned, entity that has been led along by circumstance and twists of fate to come upon and read these rather odd thoughts captured in this string of words.  You and I both share the sensation of peering through windows within a swiveling home of a head, sitting atop an elongated form capable of movement that proceeds either this way or that.  You and I are now in the act of making contact and that makes us now both we.  We are involved in the act of being familiar as one is to another when the words I choose are words you know.  Of course, the words I see and speak and hear have not quite the same weight and meaning that you choose to give these very same words that are now seen and heard and felt within yourself …yes, felt, but let’s hold that thought for later.  Actually you and I don’t puzzle through words as though they were a concept new to us.  No.  Individual words seem mostly a blur, having only the faintest register on our consciousness.  Instead we bundle the simpler ideas of singular words into somewhat grander, more sprawling and, probably, more arguable thought.  I can amuse myself by thinking I, as representative of this particular instance of a consciousness – I am clearly expressing to you now what is being made aware to me – me, once again, being a name much like I that has come to act as a pointer to this one particular instance of consciousness.  In fact, though, I would be wrong.  Your understanding of what it is I now write is probably somewhat different than what it is I have intended.   Now! there’s a word for you – intent.  Actually, whatever intent there may be is most vague to me, as it appears I have no understanding, none, of what it is I say before I say it.  Should that revealed truth alarm you and discredit me?  How am I so different from the lunatic that rambles on before you with no particular object to his discourse?  What I now say to you may well be thought of as the ramblings of someone having been twirled about a few too many times.  It is all so like the dream from which I woke tonight; I was much surprised by the twists and turns of the story recounted to me even though the story could be said to be my own invention.  That would be curious if we didn’t already know that that statement is absolutely false.  Who could believe I am capable of weaving tales with such imagination and, if I may say so, a tale filled with instances of implausible gibberish.  I would only flatter myself in thinking I could be so creative in recollecting a world having so little basis in the physics and psychology of our shared reality.  I would be more truthful by saying that I am only the recipient of the story that was related in this dream.    Maybe I should take it one step further by saying I have been the recipient of the memory of the dream that was related while I was absent.  Believe me when I tell you the details of this dream have no importance, no bearing on what it is I say.  Still, I will give you a sense of its flavor because your mind wants something here to grasp.  Quickly picture yourself a stranger among very strange people.  You have no idea how you arrived here but you are clearly discomfited by your circumstance.  How have these deeply shadowed forms any meaning for you?  You push your way through the gathered looks and murmurs until an exit appears and you quickly flee.  Soon you are driving through the darkness and, you discover to your horror, incriminating evidence lies on the seat next to you.  There follows a long journey down a nearly deserted road into the dead of night.  The headlights capture a rural mailbox and you pull up, get out, and stuff the evidence into the box.  You exhale with relief.  You’re safe; wait, no!  You’re startled to find you were never alone.  Inexplicably an individual of quasi-legal status has made his loathsome presence known.  He wants you to identify yourself.  That’s it.  It’s all about your identity. 

Did this help you?  I think not.  Remember, I am but the mere consciousness that inhabits this form that I have come to think of as being comfortably mine.  Yes, if nothing else, I am emphatic that this one thought be treated as fact... for now.  This form from which I peer should rightly belong to me.  Were that not the case and I should be displaced then… where would my place of residence be?  I am lost without my form.  There can be no residence waiting for me in oblivion.  Were this most intimate habitat within which I reside to become nonfunctioning - a post-biological structure decaying under the pleasant sun of our heartless physical realm – well, I can’t imagine how I would proceed.  I cherish having awareness of my own particular instance of consciousness.  It seems so inextricably wrapped with this organic form, chemically optimized to stir life from the otherwise remnant molecules of unspectacular odds and ends.  After all, if consciousness alone could see why is it we have eyes?  If consciousness alone could harbor thought why is it we rely on the mind generated by this brain of which I confidently feel I now inhabit?  A brain, mind you, built atop a foundation left by reptiles, amphibians and the humbug likes of insects.  And now it seems an appropriate time for me to also insist that you share this concern of mine.  You are not only fondly attached to your own consciousness but you also believe that your own consciousness is, in fact, the real you - the very limited extent of all that there is to just being simply you.  You of the no frills you.  You without the calliope serenade… you, you, you are just you.  You are a separate consciousness from me.  What purpose does consciousness serve, if any, in this realm of existence?  I have no idea.  It appears it didn’t seem fit that I should know.  Instead, I am left with the belief that I am a singular identity, separate from other singular, isolated identities, acting out their own existence before me just as I proceed with my own favored act before them.  Why is it we should so strongly feel this to be true?  Is there benefit to believing an illusion?  I believe that illusion is a fundamental part of our experience with existence.  The question I would like to ask is just what that illusion might be?  I have spoken as though I am a consciousness inhabiting a particular mind, but that I may also be an entity separate from this brain, separate from this physical form.  Yes, I have expressed my fear that I am too intimately linked with a fragile physical being, destined eventually to break down, cease functioning and eventually to disintegrate into some organic ooze that becomes an enticing soup of nutrients for our simplest life forms.  Can it be that my illusion is that I only inhabit this form and that, truth be told, I am but one and the same as the form itself, a mere expression of an instance of biology, and that my sense of consciousness, my sense of identity, is but a misunderstanding?  It is an unintended consequence that results from our  degree of self-awareness which, incidentally, is not shared by other animal types that inhabit this earth.  By the way, who says consciousness requires specific identity?  Let’s concede for the moment that consciousness survives physical death.  The need for the survival of a corresponding identity that was associated with a particular instance of a species at a particular point in time seems irrelevant to consciousness.  It might just bring all sorts of useless baggage into the spiritual pool. 

What meaning have these thoughts for you?  Have they touched you?  Earlier I said that we not only see words and hear words but that we feel them, as well.  I believe that you, like me, share an emotional reaction to most every idea formed by words.  That is not to say we share the same emotional response to an idea, but that we do react emotionally, and not just rationally, in our understanding of ideas.  Ask yourself why.  Why is there no purity in our reason?  That is a different question as to why we are fallible in reasoning through facts.  We are ever companions with our emotions.  Doesn’t it seem obvious to you that we are more likely to corrupt our own reasoning ability when the result leads to something that we believe violates our own self-interest?  So now we tread upon the idea of self.  I think my belief that consciousness is my identity is rather incomplete.  How can I hold onto the belief that I am an expression of transcendent consciousness harbored within a physical form when my actions are so easily influenced by feelings of desire, fear and need?  These emotions are responses defined by physical reality and require no conscious thought.  They strongly suggest that if you want to survive you behave in the proscribed manner.  Thank God for that.  As I said, where would I reside if this form I inhabit didn’t have an opinion one way or the other regarding its continued presence.  Of course, given that I am the resident decision maker of this habitat it seems natural I should consider existence important to me and my body a necessary prerequisite to my further existence. 

I can safely say I have resolved nothing.  Still, what a refreshing stroll I've just had.  The puzzle remains out of my grasp but I feel I have added some clarity for myself by nicely organizing the puzzle’s pieces just a bit.  Also, there are a couple of new topics tempting me to ponder despite the fact they have no chance of being answered.  How inscrutable is the Western mind.  Did you just say the more appropriate word might be confused?  I remain a consciousness, startled by a dream and wakened from a fitful sleep.  

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