Beyond Boundaries

Yet perhaps we cannot go beyond names. Perhaps to even try is to descend into a state of infinite regress. “This tree is a white pine.” But before we call it a “white pine” we call it a “tree.” And before we call it a “tree” we call it “it.”

Can we reach a state beyond names? Beyond labels of any kind?

turtles all the way down
turtles all the way down

Most folks schooled in the contemporary neo-advaitic tradition would say “yes, we can reach a state beyond names.” We can be aware of “awareness” itself. Or “God” maybe, if one tracks the language of A Course in Miracles. “That which cannot be named,” “Presence,” “I am that I am,” And so forth.

But notice that each time we do this, we are using language. And language is always referential. And the word is never the thing. And the thing always has a name. And the name . . .

So the snake eats its tail. So this sentence is not the next sentence you read.

Of course, we sense a beyond or behind or above or overarching. Of course there seems to be an All. But that is just the nature of infinite regress to a human observer. We can lay our fingers on the pulse of infinity, press the folds of eternity to our cheek. It is all within us as we are within all and . . .

And we are back in language again, as if we never left.

There is no starting point. There can’t be. How can you claim there is something without claiming there is something?

There is only this, which can be objectified, externalized, talked about, thought about, named, shared, hidden, found, modified, framed, reframed and reframed yet again. It is turtles – excuse me, “turtles” – all the way down.

When I say there is only this – this this – it arises in part from the understanding that saying anything more in an absolute sense is prohibited. Not prohibited by some authority figure like God or Emily Dickinson, but by experience itself. It’s just how it is, or how it appears (and what, really, is the difference?) to a human observer.

Yet it also arises from desire – a desire inherent in language and in our bodies, which are actually not separate either from language or from one another. There is something that longs to be expressed and received, a mutual gift-giving that seems to be the essence of us, as if love were what bodies were for, or even what bodies are, maybe.

This longing includes by definition both self and other and it arises as a unity. My desire to speak presumes you: you are my desire.

Why get lost in the whether we call it dual or nondual, God or not-God, this or that or something else altogether? It is simply joy: our joy, given and received by giving again. And without the other – who could be our self – it is not.

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