The Circle

Many years ago when I first started to meditate and otherwise seek the deeper meaning of my life, I asked a wise old man what I could trust to guide me,  since many of my beliefs had turned out to be nothing but blind biases–and since reality was clearly so much strange and subject to change.    “You can always trust your search,” he said.  “If you’re searching for truth, you’re moving in the right direction.”

Recently I read that the great Zen sage Dogen taught that the path of practice is really a circle.  He meant that practice and enlightenment are one.  He also meant that we sit down to practice–when we become still and open enough inside to realize that we dwell in mystery–we are linked with fellow seekers and great awakened ones past, present, and future.   It comforts me these days to picture myself as part of a great circle that stretches back to the dawn of humanity.  I can see our earliest ancestors walking in file out of Africa and fanning out around the globe–all of us of one heart and mind, seeking the higher ground of some indestructible truth.

What is my strategy for surviving the current crisis?  Basically to be useful and as kind as my flawed ego-ridden being allows.  To volunteer when asked.  I trust my ongoing search and the growing intuition that the goal of all our human searching here on fragile Earth is, in the words of E.M. Forster:  “Only connect.”

6 thoughts on “The Circle

  1. Hi, Tracy,
    nice reflections…
    “I can see our earliest ancestors walking in file out of Africa…”
    Well, in the spirit of your evocation, I wanted to share this gorgeous interview with the musician and high shamanic initiate in the Bushmen tradition of Kalahari, Dr.Bradford Keeney:

    warm greetings
    Jose Luis

  2. By the way…
    Dr. Keeney says that the Bushmen call us the “line people”, meaning that we have forgotten that “All is a Circle”… ; )

  3. Dear Tracy,
    just one more thing.. ; )
    This web is fascinating (I have found key-words and resonances between Dr. Keeney’s experiences and the author of this site:i.e. living recursion,hyperconnectivity,scalar learning…etc.)
    warm greetings
    Jose Luis

    “The person I wish to speak to, is you. And what I want to speak about is our so-called ‘nature’, which, in simple terms, is a way of pointing toward what we are and do in reality (rather than merely in human models or concepts).

    I hope that you may find the inspiration to go seeking your own nature in your own way, for this is really the only ‘approved’ way of experiencing it, or learning more about it. Who is this way ‘approved’ by?

    By everyOneThingWhereWhen. Essentially, it’s approved by the reality in which we exist and of which we are transient expressions. This reality is neither a thing, nor a being. It is more a metaBeingThingWay. That is to say, it is more than a being, inclusive of all things, and is a way of emerging into and departing from existence which is ever-more-diverse in its modes of expression and disappearance. (There are, it turns out, some metaphors or comparators which our common experience lacks. Many of them are combinations of those we already possess. You will encounter a few such combinatory terms in this essay: do not be alarmed. They are not indications of insanity or megalomania on my part. They are instead invitations to experience uncommon perspectives on ‘what-ness’ (the underlying class of identity to which some referent belongs)).

    As all of us are aware, there are many extant traditions and religions, philosophies, &c., which would like to dictate to us what we must be or do or think in order to fulfil some sort of obligation which we purportedly acquired during the process of becoming human. The basic idea promulgated by these organizations is that our birth resulted in some ostensible debt which we must repay under pain of (insert any of a number of hideous punishments or losses here).

    There are others, slightly more palatable, which imply that certain delights or rewards will be ours if we will only (insert various catalogues of difficult practices, avoidances, or procedures here). These latter are certainly the more civilized of the two, but both of these modes of admonition are outright lies. The fact is this: reality exists entirely without books and traditions.

    Reality and living beings were doing this long before our species arose to representational awareness, and both will continue to do so long after our species departs the stage. Beings of every possible kind experienced both their natures, and the fulfillment of those natures without the aid of experts, traditions, texts, or even concepts! Truth be told, most experiences of actual fulfillment have nothing whatsoever to do with human conceptual models about them. Even those reached through the vehicle of some tradition are well-known to explode forth with such incredible and irreducible novelty as to defy every possible explanation or map!

    Given this fact, which any of you may verify with a small amount of personal research, one is left to wonder why all of these traditions exist, and what their actual functions are. The answers to those questions are probably worth the effort required to reveal them, however it is not a part of my current intention to explore those questions in detail. Let it then suffice to mention a few relatively obvious features of the answers: humans generally believe in conserving information across the boundary of generations, because we believe that the only information that survives the death of those possessing it must have been recorded in such a manner (i.e. as an object) as to render it available to future generations (i.e. oral traditions, writing, &c.).

    Although I find this idea just as rationally compelling as most people do, I do not really believe it, because it is my experience that there are other modes of accessible records which exist with or without the recordings of human beings.”

    (…) “Perhaps the single most urgent and important thing for us to realize is that Earth is a biocognitive unity — which, in simple terms, means that the sum of the experience of terrestrial life forms is a shared dimension.

    Whatever is happening to any being here, is happening to all the beings here — and the complexity of the sum, is the complexity available to each individual — in a dimension we don’t yet believe in — simply because our sciences have not ‘discovered’ this dimension.

    A long time ago, this dimension was called ’spirit’, which meant ‘the dimension in which all beings are connected’. The problem here on Earth is that the most complex creatures — humans — are extremely busy erasing the anciently conserved biocognitive complexity that surrounds us, and replacing it with mechanical and industrial momentums which torture and toxicify the entire terrestrial environment. Since this game of biocognition depends upon local and distributed complexity, health, and diversity the result of our activity is the erasure of the very source and basis of our own intelligence, and as this process proceeds — we are rendered less and less likely to be able to notice this effect.

    We’re dumbifying the planet, and ourselves, by wiping out the complex animalian and vegetative biointelligence of our world. The more we erase, the less capable we are of noticing the results, because the results are inhibiting our relational intelligence in waves that magnify themselves the process proceeds. We cannot see what we’re doing for a simple reason: we don’t believe that there’s any connection between the health of the biosphere and our intelligence. Instead, we believe a fable — that intelligence is inherent to our persons or species.

    It isn’t.

    In fact, as anyone who even briefly examines this will see, human intelligence is a transmission game. The representational aspect is transmitted by contact with human cultures, and the inherent biocognitive aspect is transmitted by experiential immersion relations with living environments, as well as that invisible dimension we spoke of which connects all the life-forms of Earth in a web of co-emergent ‘likeness’.

    The way Earth assembles intelligence is fundamentally relational, and our species rose to our seemingly-complex position in this game partly because in the genesis-phase of this rise, the biocomplex diversity of Earth and our experiential environments was explosively magnificent.

    But something got mixed-up in our species, and very early on we began attacking the sources of our own relational intelligence: we made war against the animalian biosphere, and in so doing, we underwent a bizarre and systemic trauma where the damage we there inflicted was instantly reflected in ourselves, our activities, our potentials, and our cultures — just as it is today”.

  4. Greetings, Jose Luis: I find this really intriguing, thanks. Last week, I was sitting in silence with my daughter and friends in the middle of the dunes in Pt. Reyes National Sea Shore, in California. I experienced drinking in myriad impressions–a kind of food that I usually do without as I toil at my computer. I wondered why we modern people routinely think of Bushmen and early humans as being deprived of abundance, when it is clearly us who are deprived. Thanks again, Tracy

  5. Lord Pentland said at Cave Junction, Oregon a few months before his death: “… it is entirely possible the whole of humanity will destroy itself.”

    My book “Ar’txu’lan tries to open up this question, not to quick fixes but to bring it to a finer quality of attention that might be able to see that how each of us are, in our moment to moment time bound lives, is contributing to the doward slide of humanity.

    Are we really interested in this question? Do we understand that no amount of ‘activism’, whether great or small can ‘fix’ the situation. Forces on a very large scale are involved in the fate of humanity, not just Man. The Earth, The Sun, The Planets all have a say or an influence on the Fate of Man.

    But what is my part, your part? Is it not to understand what I am, not tomorrow, not in a couple of hours but now am I present to my manifestatiohns?

  6. I believe my role is to learn to be available to my life one moment after the next. I’ll check out your book. T

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