Okay but how does this work? How does this “undoing” take form? How does it avoid slipping back into the nonduality loop? How does it not become more mere spiritual navel-gazing? Or semantic Vedantic cleverness masquerading as wisdom?
Play a game. Imagine that you could only ask one more question for the rest of your life. You can learn one more thing. What would it be?
Often, when I play this game myself or with others, the question is some variation of: how I can be more helpful? Where “helpful” is consonant with “loving,” “useful,” “forgiving,” “creative” et cetera.
In other words, when push comes to shove, ruthless honesty generally compels us to see that what we are really about is not ourselves but the collective – the all-of-us-together being all-of-us together. It doesn’t always work out that way, and we seem endlessly capable of forgetting it, but in the end, we are as Humberto Maturana says in Biology of Love, “loving animals.” We want to give to one another. We want to love.
So it figures that given a last chance to learn anything, what we want to learn is what will make us more loving.
Once we are clear that what matters is not our own spiritual shindig but rather the grandly inclusive shindig we are all of us throwing and sharing in right now – making love, making bread, making shelter, making art et cetera – what new questions arise?
In my experience, these new questions tend to be more pragmatic than abstract. The metaphysics fade. The word games are displaced if not dissolved. If we are serious about enacting our desire to feed hungry people, then our question is: how do we feed people?
And then our question breaks down yet further into helpful chunks: who is hungry? What are they hungry for? Where are they? How do I get food to share with them? How do I execute the mechanics of sharing, where “mechanics” means gathering food, delivering it, ensuring timeliness, cleanliness, freshness, consistency, funding and so forth.
Naturally that leads to new new questions: has somebody already answered these questions? Where is the knowledge housed? Rather than invent the wheel anew, can we just assist with an already-existing wheel?
And so on and so forth where “so on and so forth” includes feeding hungry people, learning how to keep feeding them, and then sharing that learning in order to generate a sustainable communicable practice of love within and for the collective.
When we are serious about solving problems for the other, then we are going to be focused locally, which means we are going to have to be in communion locally, and we are going to have to give up some modicum of control locally.
We are going to do all of this and we are going to just see what happens. And what happens will happen, and we will respond again, and something new will happen . . .
And in this we are always just trying to think in a new way – not in a self-as-center way, not in a humans-as-god-like way, not in a God-will-do-heavy-lifting-way, not in an I-know-what-works way, not in a look-at-how-special-I-am way.
We are just seeing that we don’t have all the answers, that we aren’t sure of all that much and so need to go slowly and humbly and cautiously, that “right” is always relative, that “perfect” or “best” tend to obstruct – sometimes fatally – “better.”
Love is natural but there are a lot of obstructions, many of which masquerade as wisdom and intelligence and reason. We have to be careful.
It is going to take a long while but I think the language of spirituality and religion are mostly defunct and need to be gently retired so that a new way of thinking and relating can come into being. We can hasten that evolution of clarity and peace simply by giving attention to what arises and responding to it gently and with care.
This is a great list: And in this we are always just trying to think in a new way – not in a self-as-center way, not in a humans-as-god-like way, not in a God-will-do-heavy-lifting-way, not in an I-know-what-works way, not in a look-at-how-special-I-am way.
And the recognition of religion/spirituality as the same and underlying seeking as any other (looking for love in all the wrong places), might be the essence to finally get from it. I like the idea that in a hundred years (1000?), “spirituality” will be a quaint, primitive word that is archaic because people are being what was once made different by making it something “other”.
Thanks for reading, Mike. That last sentence of yours is lovely and welcome. I am very grateful for your insights.