I was suddenly inspired to write an essay after a conversation with my brother. It is a culmination of the struggles I've had lately, their apotheosis into essay form.
The Parameters of a Decision
We fancy a decision is made in a moment, as if some spark in a neuron fired this way instead of that -- a minimum of freedom in which synapse it traversed. What we do not see is that we decide not in moments, minutes, or days, but we decide with our life, with all our life. We can only decide at the moment what our whole life has prepared us to decide, and though we feel the intensity of the choice, the power of the will, what we do not know is that our agency is limited to what we've chosen before, what the world chose. Our crises are logical, inevitable; this is the moral law, this is karma. Our every word and choice sets us and situates us. When we cry out in tragedy -- "Why did this happen?" -- we would do better to ask, "How could this but happen?" Divine necessity.
Likewise, love at first sight took a lifetime to prepare -- two lifetimes in fact. And we fathom and guess a whole lifetime of friendship in that first glance.
Events can't but happen, want to happen, and I mean even the worst of them -- murder, theft, rape, genocide. When we can see the divine necessity in these things, the inevitability, we can plumb their logic and untie them. Freedom is necessary.
We spend months unconsciously preparing ourselves for a decision and then some chance thing reveals to us what was there all along. The simple minded people say, "if only I didn't stub my toe at that moment, if only I didn't cheat that one time, if I didn't make that one mistake," lacking a respect for necessity. The accidental mistake is the least part -- if not this thing, than the other. How we beat ourselves over the inevitable chance accident, not seeing the larger picture, that the entire weight of the universe bears down on us.
We make decisions through counsel, through friends, through watching others try and fail. We don't really know what is possible for us. This man succeeded, but would we succeed if we tried the same? On this project, everyone has failed and miserably, but then one man does it. We don't know what is possible until we do it. What is impossible once is possible twice.
The innermost spark of the Self, our utter being, that necessity we are in utter individuality, contains an inevitable logic that extends to the farthest reaches of the universe. Knowing this is a mere curiosity. Feeling this is mysticism. Seeing this is wisdom. All the external forms, all the religions and gods and prayers, all marriages, romances, adorations -- all these external relationships -- collapse and utterly when we embrace Ama in our arms.
Having tried so hard to lose ourselves in others -- to live for your family, to live for your spouse, to be the model employee, the perfect parent, all these external contrivances are a crutch and will inevitable fail you each and every time. Certainly we can succeed at those things, and that has some value, but as far as our purpose goes, to expand the power of the self to the reaches of the universe, to be what you are, to be yourself, to realize your potential, you cannot do it if you bow to man or God. If you live for another, you do not really live for her. She will ultimately betray you. That is because she is not what you think, she is an excuse, an escape. However, what is yours to face, your dread necessity, is as inevitable as death. Nobody can save you from it, and likewise nobody can take it away from you. Nothing you could do, no sin, no crime, no atrocity, can steal the gift from your hand. It is yours forever.
Nevertheless, we come to our inner sanctum through external adventure. We fight the monster, win the girl, beget children, get a promotion, all those things. This is the curiosity of the language, when we say, perhaps, the wife is Ama, the family, Ama, for with Ama there is no idolatry. She is already in everything. Wherever you look, there she is. Whatever you worship, whatever you believe it, it is her already. So how is it that she betrays you?
What you take for betrayal, loss, failure, death, would better be termed, "Returning what was only yours to borrow in the first place." Whatever can be taken from you is temporary, besides. Nobody can take your soul, and deeper than the soul is the self, sacrosanct, which none can touch, no god breach, no angel behold. That inner sanctity of necessity is forever its own, and only the mind, that part that escapes into the body, into the world, can hope to return to the ground of existence: your mind only: the bliss of nonexistence. For we weave into and out of existence in this manner.
The emergence of self into world comes with a decision of the I. However, what we call deciding is perhaps better called "stylizing." We do not choose with one moment. Our stylizations over a life time develop enough resonance to incur further decisions. Our little faults lead to big problems, our little graces to mountains of success.
It is best then to not esteem your successes or failures according to popular benchmarks – number of dollars earned, fame, number or beauty of sexual partners, anything like this. Those may expose dramatic self-overcomings. They also may not. Impressing mom, dad, child, and wife, intoxicates. We feel we can at last believe in ourselves when others believe in us. We fool the world. But we do not fool ourselves. Not really. Lissidy in the mirror at the center knows the truth, and you will be mocked, subtly, with ever success, never quite believing it, wanting more always more. Take yourself on your own terms: seek no secondary testimony.
Your relationship to yourself, the correspondence between I and self, cannot be supplemented by anything in the world. Everything in the world will finally mirror and reflect that inner structure.
We seek advice, and in our desperation we listen to all the advice we can hear, hoping for the words that will finally give us hope, finally give us assurance that what we so strongly want and need will finally be ours. And the wise among us judge and evaluate the advice against and in terms of the character of the adviser, his or her position in the world, and how they personally relate to their advice: what their advice has indeed made of them. The wisest men refuse to advise. Only fools have it all figured out.
So we listen to people speak of their experience, and there is nothing more poetical and heartfelt than listening to anyone at all speak sincerely of their experience. We evaluate their words and we infer. We know this man's soul is a logic, and we want to know how deep the logic goes, how far it will take us. Some people are helplessly mortal. Their advice may bring immediate success. But it is not eternal. It lacks the Odin eye on final things. The wise man keeps one eye on his whole autobiography, and never loses his sense of being situated in a stretch of world history. We can like Prometheus, who is forethought, choose to have our liver ripped out each day by an eagle. Knowing full well that giving fire to man would include his own torture, he nevertheless did the act. Having foresight does not mean ease and comfort. Those seeking such things are infatuated with the immediate, and carry all the shallow vices that no god bothers with – gluttony, lust, greed, envy. What makes these vices so shallow is that they are corrected readily not with oaths or anger, but with an austere look at the big picture. They are not deep faults, deep vices. They are tricks and traps for shallow minds.
The wise man has his own problems, and the God has his own antagonists. We keep ourselves challenged to keep ourselves growing. We seek a life of problems, of challenges, of struggle, because we wish to grow in power. That is why the I left the self: to gain more territory for itself, to return to the self stronger and rich with gifts. We cannot ultimately regret any experience, nor doubt its necessity.
The petty game in romance and friendship is to push the other away and blame them for leaving. That simple strategy is at a child's level, and so we readily understand it. We can trick a lover into believing she has all the agency: we can trick a friend into owning the guilt of ruining the friendship. Such stratagems can go deep, and at their deepest there is a menace and magic to them. We do this to others all the time, Lissidy lives in each of us, and we can rightly say that the ultimate responsibility for a murder is a town, not an individual. Certainly the individual must bear the responsibility and the punishment, but even here, we cannot punish anybody without also punishing ourselves. As the father who spanks his son, he suffers in his heart.
We spend time with children, with animals, with the insane, not because we tire of adults, but because they expose the adults to us. Abnormal psychology exaggerates normal psychology, making the subtle blatant. Cartoons do this: expose the hidden logic that is working in the everyday mundane world. Tragic events, news worthy items may seem to belong to a realm of existence, to "The world" where all the bad things happen, but safe in our neighborhood, nothing bad happens, so long as we pray to God each night to protect us. Only all those bad things do happen to us on a subtle level. We are raped, murdered, cheated, blackmailed, mocked, humiliated, the worst, in subtle inflections of the voice, in the words of others, in our own self talk. All the news can do is expose the logic that is already in our daily lives.
So we sound it all out, we see a snail do snail things, and it somehow exposes a secret to the relationship we have with our uncle. Wisdom is the capacity for analogy. Wherever you look, you will see your problems, and if you are escapist, and enter the dream world of entertainment, or the intoxicating world of romance, your problems will be projected there too, in a different form, invisible, inevitable. And that's okay. Sometimes we lack the power and cunning to fix our problems, and must return to them more mature, having solved them is easier forms.
All this talk of an omniscient omnipotent father figure at last exhausts our interest. Ama is much more subtle than that. She is knowing and forgetting, omniscient and ignorant. She leads us into temptation, she tries our logic, she sounds us out. She is the ultimate antagonist and yet the bestower of the deepest blessings. Having understood this, there is nothing left for you to worry about. I speak of the structure of your being, your eternality, and your farthest form, how wide your star will shine.
We must thank in our heart the lover who betrays, the god who fails to answer our prayer, the disciple who leaves, the child who dies. Had we not lost the thing, we would still believe we had it to begin with. We might have projected our value, or deity, or God onto it. That is fine for a time, but there is a time to grow up, and to put the shallow God down and seek the deeper God. What we once hoped for as children we may now laugh at as foolishness. And as adults, we are still babes to our future self. What we seek so earnestly, to the point of suicide, is a vanity, a nothing – not the thing, not real. That we seek it so eagerly is good for us, just as in basketball the players are so eagerly bent on doing a ridiculous action, putting a ball in a hoop.
We care, we manage to care, about who has the talent to put that ball through that hope. This activity that helps nobody in any way. We call such people "heroes" sometimes, exposing, if nothing else, that being a hero doesn't amount to much anyway. And in the same way we get worked up and really care about nothing at all, some article in the news, a political issue, this excuse to have passion, to finally feel something, to rage and hate or love and adore. The objects of these passions matters so little we could almost say, like the basketball in the hoop, that it is boring. There is nothing to it. What matters is that we collectively pretend these things are important. An entire language, a rhetoric, is invented to make us care. But after all it is all a game.
And so we are empowered by our blindnesses. If I blind myself to my faults, then I can structure the hydraulics of my heart to swell, to have that bravado necessary to sway people, or dare risky things. If I blind myself to my successes, I may have a much needed moment of self-pity. Seeing any one thing is blindness to all else. And so we may choose to systematically blind ourselves in order to achieve a given purpose. Ignorance is strength.
The weakness in this is that those who are not blind in that regard can either expose us to what we have tried not to see, or else use that same thing against us. As with the news stories which sensationalize the every day, so do people do this every day in subtle ways without knowing anything of the sort of going on. Most crime is harmless. So much of language is subterfuge.
We put our meanings in the world, and their our consciousness, our superconsciousness lies. We set up the entire game, in trifles, in fumblings and pretending. We are much larger than we know, and our influence is universe wide. To see this, to really see it, requires a rare art of perception. We don't in fact need to see this at all or ever believe in it. The mere tuning of the ear to the idea is enough: you will know by and by.
What do beliefs matter anyway? They are a game, a move. Sometimes a fake. What can be doubted is not eternal. That we have to hope for a thing shows we don't deserve it. That we have to believe in a thing shows it doesn't exist. That we have to pray for a thing shows we cannot have it. There is something deeper than all this, these moves in that particular game. I mean the primacy of being the divine, of being in your heart the god. False beliefs, strange beliefs, popular beliefs, are blindnesses, and being blind helps you hear. Being dumb helps you listen. Being insane exposes the insanity not in some men, but in all.
Independence is the deepest virtue. Self reliance the ultimate austerity. And all this leaning in others, believing in others, needing others, is an escape from our duty, like Oedipus running from fate. It will work to fate's favor.
Be a fool. Be humiliated. Be mocked and jeered at. What does any of that matter? Hold to your own, it's the only thing that matters, the only thing that will impress the only person worthy of impressing: yourself. I invent a whole language just so I can be clear of all this rhetoric that has suffocated from my youth. I play the fool, seem to care when I don't, believe in fact I do care, when deeper than that I laugh at my subterfuge. It never catches me, none of it. It's all a game. What matters is power, what matters is love, and of my love and power none escape. I am lord over it. I triumph in all things. Ama laughs. We laugh with her.
Us allists at least have this to our credit: a deep sense of humor. The prankishness of our deadpan glare, the silliness of a suicide – deep down we are blissful. The decision has been made. What is all this pomp and ordinace to get it out?
"Believe in me because I don't believe in myself," so a man might insinuate. He never knows he says it, doesn't know he has asked it, but that's the metalanguage. To have an ear on the metalanguage, what meanings are actually conferred in all this boring banter, requires if anything the art of introspection, and also the cunning of a psychologist. Yet we all do it all the time, and the better as we get older. We cease to fall for the same tricks, we see through lies.
Better yet we outsmart our own lies, cease to trap ourselves in comfortable traps, cages to serve as a protective home. We cease to attract the same sort of trouble, grow up a little, seek bigger game. We at last open our eyes. The metasphere, or logosphere, presents things as gists and summaries. For better or worse, I only have a memory for such things, I forget all the annoying details. Certainly all sorts of auguries and magic can be pulled out of details the way a forensics officer can solve a crime based on a microscopic drop of blood. Yet the sense for gists, and patterns, for wholes, for larger structures, is the mark of age.
Often in making a decision, we realize in an epiphany that something has already been decided. By us, yes, but that any further consideration is merely a commemoration ceremony. We may have decided the thing long ago, and all this advice seeking is perhaps a bit of vanity, perhaps some seeking for clues to style things just right. It's all a lot of show. The gross structure of our lives, the decade by decade moves, tell no lies. The overall shape of a life, the geometrical configuration, makes every fault and fissure again necessary and fated.
So when and where is a decision made? And should we trouble ourselves with it? Whether tortured or carefree, the decision will happen. We might fear to make the wrong decision, but we can step back, get meta with the situation, look at the language, and see things from a birds' eye view. There is more going on than we could ever fathom. So let us at last hold to principle, these things that are eternally true, no matter what our position, no matter where we are, and trust, finally, that whether or not it seems we have succeeded, we in fact will and always will. Having that, the principles of the situation, the deepest gems from your soul, you need never fear regret. Who can regret doing their best? Who can regret living on principle? Perfection is easy. Time is now.
-- R ᴤ88s Я --
Perfection Is Easy