Mise en Abyme

DT Suzuki (preeminent zen master of the 20th century) was once asked during a conference:  What’s the fundamental principle of Buddhism?  More specifically, could he explain the fourth noble truth or the cessation of suffering through the Eightfold Path.  Suzuki answered:

Ah, fourth Noble Truth is Eightfold Path.  First point of Eightfold Path is Right View.  Buddhism is the right view, the right way of looking at the world, better than all others.  Second point of Eightfold Path is… I forget, you can look it up in the book later

No word if the attendant was enlightened.

Spiritual materialism is one of the harshest obstacles to being.  And it is a strange irony that those on the path to ego-less-ness tend to be some of the most unapologetic narcissists.  When these things are sought, they are sought with a desire, that desire is often sexual, even if it is not potentiated as such.  Attainments and insights are then to be gained by a method.  Which method you choose always extends from your earlier sensitization, your conditioning.  A method limits a person to one view and its variants, less tragically it adorns you with its trappings… the markings of your caste.  More so that you can be identified by others ,than for you to identify yourself.  It is not in a book or any particular method.  It only happens when an attempt to act from the ego becomes absolutely impossible.  Your decision, your will, has nothing to do with it at all, your illusion as being separate, or one, or empty, comes to an end and it’s all left suspended.  When we drop our methods, whether religion, psychedelics, meditation, or dreaming (and their ornaments) it is not so difficult to be.

It is not enough to say that the superposition of subjective views sums to an objective one, or that a partial sum approximates a fuller picture.  The I in relation to any, can only exist so long as it observes itself.  It is its own observer.  It subsists on the energy of others, as it is an other to itself, as the other subsists on your own energy in kind.  It is a positive feedback of validation.  People exchange threads of identity and entangle themselves with the other, and allow the other to become entangled with their own being.  A friend is one who’s agreed to sustained mutual validation .  The more you give, the more you get, the more elaborate you can become.  Because when life can not offer us meaning, it can instead provide us with sophistication.  Friendship is like two mirrors so close together they can pull virtual photons out of the vacuum (Casimir effect).  One sees the other and in the other sees oneself and in oneself sees the other and in the other sees… mise en abyme. An enemy is simply a person that does not validate you, wear your aesthetics, your charms.  But they have use too, and serve to contrast, foil, and sharpen our definitions of ourselves, via negativa.  For one does not hate in another, what is not part of oneself.  One arrangement of mirrors attracts, the other repels (Casimir effect).  But no law is broken, energies equal and opposite are formed and emptiness is conserved.

When in the presence of a localization that has returned to the void (a ‘master’ or ‘teacher’) , one’s threads fall through them.  Uncertain what to attach to they are diverted to infinity, the infinity that we are bounded by through all degrees of freedom.  The “I” is an amoeba and it can take many forms and hide out in the narrowest spaces.  Announce that you intend to do any of this and it will always escape an attempt to destroy it.  When one sees that I am the I am that I am the I, all the way out, by watching mind, infinity is plumbed, but the “I” follows you there.  You must become quicker than that order of infinity, infinitely fast—is not enough, you will need a variety of infinite greater than that well ordered series of steps taken to the end.  To be so quick, one must be light, unfettered from the tangles of the other, from the self-entangled self.

Do not think of love, do not think of enlightenment, do not think of mankind, these are tricks meant to tempt the “I” and have been employed by countless teachers.  But there are no teachers, and there are no masters, or students, only indulgence, only validation.  Starve yourself of this energy and you will die.  This is upaya.

Artwork: La Venus del espejo (Rokeby Venus); Diego Velázquez


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