Friday, January 15, 2010

Fingers & Farts, and the Limits of Free Will

Picking up where the above post left off, and coming back to Lion Attacks:

When faced with a hungry lion, zero intellectual interpretation of the situation is needed, so far as "do I run or do I make a stand?" goes. The body would simply know what to do and do it; the adrenalin rush would ensure that there was no hanging about making conscious "decisions" about it. ("Lemme see now....")

In a way, this is always the situation: every act is a life and death act.

This is what surrender comes down to, IMO: reducing the element of intellectual decision-making until all that is left is pure response. And pure response is always an opening and softening, no matter what is happening on the outside. (One can run or fight to the death while opening and softening.)

Granted, in many circumstances less extreme, we do have to make a conscious decision to act upon a response, to embody a subtler movement of being and turn it into real action. This is one more paradox of self-awareness: the more we assume responsibility for our thoughts and actions, the more we come to see that we have almost no say in them, save at the most wonderfully shallow level.

The fingers do not move the hand, much less the body.

An easy analogy would be a passenger on a train: he has lots of freedom of movement so far as where he wanders on the train, who he interacts with, and even possibly where he sits; and most of all, on where his attention goes ~ whether inside or outside the train. Yet the traveler has absolutely no say about where the train is going or what stops it makes. He could choose to jump off while it's in motion, but (besides pulling the emergency chord) that's the only real way he can override the train's trajectory: by self-destructing.

If a starving baby (or in my case, a tiny black kitten) is placed in our path, this is the conscious Universe doing its thing (i.e., it's a grand circumstance that was presumably beyond the conscious control of any of the players). Whether we attend to that baby or not in no way depends on whether we have personal sovereignty, but simply on whether we allow ourselves to respond to a movement of being (assuming there is one). Such movement is the Universe gently nudging us into that baby's path (and it into ours), in order for some exchange to occur.

It may be no more than noticing and connecting to that baby, or it may be taking that baby home and adopting it. That decision, however, isn't ours. Personal sovereignty is the illusion (and insistence) that we ever get to determine the outcome of something on that scale. It may seem like our decision, but that doesn't mean it is. I'd say it only means we aren't sufficiently sensitive to movements of being, even when they are moving us. And so we take credit for our actions, and blame ourselves when we act wrongly. Credit and blame (the whip and carrot) are the business of sovereignty, but have no meaning to the Universe.

We are only responsible if we are able to respond. If we simply act on our own volition, from a place of personal sovereignty, based on our beliefs and opinions about what is the right thing, etc, etc, although we are still accountable, we are not responsible. We are simply being used as an unconscious tool. Our actions then will always be unclean, because only conscious action can be clean.

The only way to be out of alignment with the Universe would be to attempt to serve our personal agenda, including (or especially) the personal agenda of "serving the Universe." It doesn't matter what it is: if we really think that we are doing it, then we are holding onto our sovereignty and acting unconsciously, which means we are being driven by unconscious wounds and patterns. (And dark entities.)

Those who aren't the Universe's fingers are merely its farts.


Anonymous said...

nice essay. i have to agree with your breakdown of surrender... i feel that i get into the space of surrender (though not all the time or even consistently), and one of the things i feel is that i'm not making any decisions... i'm in a flow that i'm usually on just the other side of or something. it's like the more response-able you are, the less "responsibilities" you feel, no pressure. i've heard you talk about the idea of personal sovereignty before, and i think i have a better understanding of what you mean after reading this post. cheers!

Indigobusiness said...

Nicely put. Particularly the last line.

I've found that, without surrender, I drag around my goods and bads. Painfully.

Burdens are for shedding, I reckon.

Anonymous said...

These spiritual window-shoppers,
who idly ask, 'How much is that?' Oh, I'm just looking.
They handle a hundred items and put them down,
shadows with no capital.

What is spent is love and two eyes wet with weeping.
But these walk into a shop,
and their whole lives pass suddenly in that moment,
in that shop.

Where did you go? "Nowhere."
What did you have to eat? "Nothing much."

Even if you don't know what you want,
buy _something,_ to be part of the exchanging flow.

Start a huge, foolish project,
like Noah.

It makes absolutely no difference
what people think of you.

Anonymous said...

Hey Jason...its Matt...up late tonight and read your post....reminded me of these poems by Rumi....(one above and...)

God has given us a dark wine so potent that,
drinking it, we leave the two worlds.

God has put into the form of hashish a power
to deliver the taster from self-consciousness.

God has made sleep so
that it erases every thought.

God made Majnun love Layla so much that
just her dog would cause confusion in him.

There are thousands of wines
that can take over our minds.

Don't think all ecstacies
are the same!

Jesus was lost in his love for God.
His donkey was drunk with barley.

Drink from the presence of saints,
not from those other jars.

Every object, every being,
is a jar full of delight.

Be a conoisseur,
and taste with caution.

Any wine will get you high.
Judge like a king, and choose the purest,

the ones unadulterated with fear,
or some urgency about "what's needed."

Drink the wine that moves you
as a camel moves when it's been untied,

and is just ambling about.

my word verifucation is "bullsest"...ha

Anonymous said...

one more!

Gone to the Unseen

At last you have departed and gone to the Unseen.
What marvelous route did you take from this world?

Beating your wings and feathers,
you broke free from this cage.
Rising up to the sky
you attained the world of the soul.
You were a prized falcon trapped by an Old Woman.
Then you heard the drummer's call
and flew beyond space and time.

As a lovesick nightingale, you flew among the owls.
Then came the scent of the rosegarden
and you flew off to meet the Rose.

The wine of this fleeting world
caused your head to ache.
Finally you joined the tavern of Eternity.
Like an arrow, you sped from the bow
and went straight for the bull's eye of bliss.

This phantom world gave you false signs
But you turned from the illusion
and journeyed to the land of truth.

You are now the Sun -
what need have you for a crown?
You have vanished from this world -
what need have you to tie your robe?

I've heard that you can barely see your soul.
But why look at all? -
yours is now the Soul of Souls!

O heart, what a wonderful bird you are.
Seeking divine heights,
Flapping your wings,
you smashed the pointed spears of your enemy.

The flowers flee from Autumn, but not you -
You are the fearless rose
that grows amidst the freezing wind.

Pouring down like the rain of heaven
you fell upon the rooftop of this world.
Then you ran in every direction
and escaped through the drain spout . . .

Now the words are over
and the pain they bring is gone.
Now you have gone to rest
in the arms of the Beloved.

Jason Horsley said...

thanks Matt! Have you put these to music yet? ; )