“Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.” (Henry Ford)
Now about two very different perceptions of self (or selves, if you like) and world. One could be called ‘the maker’ while the other could be called ‘the perceiver’. Actually, their origin is the same. They like to play is all.
In other words, a self can split itself into maker and perceiver – or agent and consumer, if you like, in order to make life more interesting, more exciting.
That is not to say that a maker doesn’t perceive or that a perceiver doesn’t do anything. I only draw this distinction to make a point. I am not going to illustrate this point straightforwardly. Rather, I will try the indirect route and use images to get the message across.
The message being what Mr. Ford’s statement brings to mind. And it’s not gonna get solved once and for all. I am here to raise questions. If you do not find them useful, drop them.
The time is moving… the world is moving … who is moving?
I am sitting in a bus and it rolls forward…. but no! it’s the bus next to this one that moves backward… Or is it?
I remember that when I was a child I used to be a natural philosopher. I wondered about stuff like that. And I still do. Yet the tricky thinky mind becomes so quick in the course of time that it begins to elaborate on sense experience before any real sense of wonder can arise.
Thus, the drama of both individual psyche & collective trauma is based on the replacement of the wondering child by the wandering mind. The more we (because I is mano-maya, mind-made) wander off into the future and past, the more we are prone to take the role as perceiver/consumer of the world and to regard time as objective. With all the anxieties about what’s gone & what’s next. The more the mind rests and is present with what happens right here right now, within this body, the more it acts as an agent/producer of the world. Time is subjective. With all the fearlessness that comes with it.
Whenever a change happens from one state to the other, it is almost always accompanied by some social or existential fear. Change-induced anxiety arises.
Most of the time, identity clings to one or the other point of view. Why? Not sure. I guess because there is a sense of losing control over perception if there is no I-me-mine. Also getting stuck in language properties plays a major part.
Sometimes I think that I am in control. Then again, something unexpected happens, and I realise I never had any control at all.
I get it. And then I forget it.
The bus keeps moving. And so am I. Or no, I am not, it’s that other bus over there. And those other people in it. They are moving, not me.
And sometimes they are moving me. Pushing me around. Sometimes I push them around. Leibniz’ monads revival.
This has been going on for decades. I hear people encouraging me to take my life into my hands so that my story will be a successful me-story. No more space for mystery.
People keep pushing me into believing I am in charge. And the more I believe them, the more they are convinced they are in charge. Because if others believe you, you start to believe in yourself, am I right? And this certainly works both ways (…right?)
Active and passive – fast and slow
The simile of the bus that moves – or doesn’t move – reminds me of fast vibes and slow vibes and the perceived speed of sense experience, i.e. phenomena arising and passing.
Thaddeus Golas’ A lazy man’s guide to enlightenment is a valuable read in this regard. He says that everything tends to move slowly when you are vibrating fast et vice versa. That’s also the reason why 3½ seconds can seem like an eternity when you have an accident, being hurled out of a vehicle, all senses in hyper-mode, body suspended in mid-air, turning to one side, trying to land skilfully, capturing memories, fragments of thought, regret, a shiver, the anticipation of the impact, pain coming my way.
Vibrating fast? What’s that supposed to mean? Right. There we go again. Predicament. Either you know what I am talking about or you don’t. If you do, then no explanation is needed and if you don’t, then every word will only contribute to more confusion and delusion. Nota bene: No accident is needed to experience fast vibrations.
Next time you’re sitting in a bus (or train, if you like) next to another bus or train, remember: How does it feel to be tricked by perception? Can you trick yourself into perceiving something that isn’t there? I know I have done so many a-times. When desire is strong enough humans can imagine anything. When love is strong enough humans can endure anything.
Pure love is the highest vibration. A fact of life, to be experienced by every single one of us. Which brings me to a question of utmost importance: How can we ever reach such a level of pure love without training in pure awareness? Without seeing clearly, will not love always be tainted love?
Without learning to be content, without preferring euthymía over acquisition of fleeting phenomena, what else will our actions elicit but inappropriate responses born of a burning sense of lack which is the prerequisite for any ego drama, be it on an individual or a collective scale? Without inner stillness, how could we ever reach eudaimonía, that sense of having a clear conscience and a stable voice that tells us what to stay away from when the going gets tough?
How to develop our inner demon Socrates used to talk about? How to find real long-term happiness independent of circumstances? Happiness that we do everything else for in our short lives on earth. All the while we keep looking for happiness outside we obstruct its arising on the inside.
Any ideas what all these questions have to do with Ford’s statement?