Our thought processes inevitably tend towards definition. We seek to define outward life situations–work, relationships– as well as our “inner” states. Is she friend or foe? An inner heuristic quickly supplies an answer. Do I feel like a success or a failure today? Likewise, another heuristic.
This is a convenient layer that thought paints over what is essentially mysterious and unknown. Life as we experience it is, if we pay attention, a complex tangle of sensation, feeling, perception, thought, memory, action, bodily impulse. But our attention is sucked, as if by a magnet, toward what our specific thought processes define our life as.
We can recognise that thought is just one of many players in the movie of life. This moment is unknown. Not as an idea, but as a lived reality.
Our lives escape definition at all levels. The unknown is the unknown. Labels are fundamentally empty.
“Existence has no shape, so it can’t be understood as anything in particular.”
One of Darryl’s key points is the emphasis on transience, or change. This emphasis is not new; for instance it is central to most strands of Buddhist philosophy (for example, the concept of anatta). But Darryl’s approach is rather unique and refreshing.
If we look deeply into our lives, we have to accept that everything is changing. At the simplest level, our thoughts and moods are changing (paradoxically, though this aspect is very close to us and visible to us, we don’t see what is right under our noses). Our bodies change, our surroundings change, as do our relationships, our work. This is perfectly ordinary and banal, but the ordinariness and banality hide a deep truth.
If existence is changing, it cannot have a form. And yet–when we think of our lives, we feel that there is form, definition, somewhere in there. This is also a paradox.
The challenge is: how can “we” have a sense of rest in this flux of reality? And, perhaps untimately realise that there is no “me” in the flux?
Apart from Douglas Harding, the other non-dualist “teacher” who has had a great impact on me recently is Darryl Bailey. Here is an amazing talk of his which radically shifted my perspective on daily life. I hope to explore his insights more on this blog.