On Bringing Forth Reflexive Domains

One element of reflexive domains is that they are not pre-existing. We do not discover or detect them. Rather, they arise with us. We bring them forth as they bring us forth. This is love.

When I say “bring them forth” I do not mean that we will them into being. For we, too, are brought forth. We are not our own author! We arise with the reflexive domain; as we specify, or distinguish, it, in turn it specifies or distinguishes us.

Seeing this mutuality clearly allows one to experience living as reflexive. What we call the self is simply a reflexive loop – really, many reflexive loops – intertwined with an apparently infinite number of other reflexive loops. The shared loopiness is the reflexive domain.

One way to give attention to this, is to attend one’s ordinary experience in a simple but focused way. Take my cup of coffee this morning. In order to perceive “cup of coffee” I must distinguish it. I must separate it from what it is not.

Thus, the mug of coffee is not the table on which it rests. It is not the east-facing window that frames it. It is not the room in which the table and window are found. It is not the house in which the room is found, nor the town in which the house is found, nor the country in which the town is found, nor the planet on which the country is located, nor the solar system in which . . .

You see where this goes? In order to specify the coffee mug, the entire universe must also be specified. The mug – and the whole cosmos – come into being at the same time. Absent one, the other is not possible. They mutually specify one another.

It’s true we ordinarily don’t think of it this way. It’s true that when we look at the coffee mug we don’t also realize the universe. But that does not make the observation untrue or unhelpful. You can, if you like, look at your morning tea or coffee, and see in it the literal shape and form of the cosmos.

And to say this is simply to say that the mug – and the cosmos – and the awareness of both – arise together in a reflexive domain, that is neither a beginning nor an end, but simply a process. And, as a process, it is stable unto other observers who observe it in their own reflexive domain – one that the present-awareness we call the self may not have the slightest inkling of, just as your coffee mug is probably not aware you are using it to give attention to the cosmos.

Our living changes a little based on this insight. It’s harder to sustain anger and jealousy and greed and so forth. Since everyone can be our own self, the need to “win” or “possess” loses a lot of its intensity. The desire to help seems to come to the fore, probably as a function of self-love, or just love itself.

But even if it doesn’t, it’s okay, because the domain itself simply goes along, endlessly transforming and looping and folding. War, famine and pestilence can’t deter it. Not seeing it doesn’t deter it. I can’t see the back of my head right now but the hair on it grows just fine.

However, we notice as give attention that this ongoing process, this infinitely transformative loopiness, these sensuous undulations, are responsive. It is possible to give attention; it is possible to respond. We can try to feed the hungry; we can invent vaccinations for diseases; we can be dialogic rather than monologic. We can choose non-zero sum games rather than zero-sum games.

We can seek and find coherence.

All this is a way of saying that reflexive domains are creative. Creativity is their essence. It is natural to bring forth love and coherence. It is natural to be playful and peaceful. It is natural to serve one another.

This is a lovely thing to perceive! The work becomes less about our own “awakening” or “enlightenment” than simply attending the bringing forth of love in a reflexive domain whose transformations are fundamentally loving.

Thus, we aren’t inventing love or fighting for love or insisting on love: we are simply giving attention to the love that naturally arises as a function of the reflexivity that we naturally are. There are blocks to love, yes. There is looking away from love, yes. But these are not proof of hate! They are not proof of the absence of love! Rather, they are emptinesses whose form specifies love. When we see this, the love that is is naturally brought forth is brought forth.

For example, I might notice that I am impatient in the classroom, and that my impatience makes some students anxious, frustrated, confused. But the very impatience and its effects make clear what love is – love is the patience and kindness which soothes anxiety, calms frustration, and clarifies confusion.

The apparent absence of love testifies to the ongoing presence of love, and when it does, then love is present. Love is brought forth.

Love does not actually become absent. We merely forget about it, or fail to notice it, or stubbornly resist it. But love is akin to breathing. It’s just there. It inheres in living. We can become more or less skillful, attentive, responsible and so forth with respect to breathing but so long as we are living, we are breathing. Just so with love.

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