The Battle Between I and Them


The battle, it would seem, is between inner and outer realms. Those forces representing literality and appearances are constantly attempting to destroy the representatives of the heart of matters, the inner essences of things. Because the outer world is based upon order and structure. Whereas the inner can be explosive, creative chaos. The two worlds, of course, should not be and are not really at all diametrically opposed. The tricky matter of language and the way things appear is what leads to the warfare.

I once wrote to explore the beauty of language, the flow of words, the way a sentence could be so perfectly breathed, spaced, punctuated. I don’t write that way so much anymore, because at one point the sound and form of the words overcame their meaning.

I once was so self-conscious that I could never be myself before any stranger, let alone breathe properly in public spaces. I felt as though everything within me could be visibly seen, as though every pair of eyes was a judgment of my imperfect humanity.

Now, I don’t think so much of the ways other people look at me. I think of the way I look at them, if I am going to think about it at all. It is my mind itself which is the veil to understanding. Becoming, as a Zen Buddhist might say, of No Mind is the quickest path to joy. No mind, no judgment, no fear. Things are never simply the way they appear–they become the way in which they are received. I want to be the best Host to all good things in life–selfless, serving, supportive.

Self-help books these days all talk about boosting your self-esteem, building your self-image, assuaging your battered ego. I’m talking about throwing it all away. I’m talking about getting beyond yourself, because there’s something much greater. I’m talking about bridging the inner and outer worlds completely, such that the lie that there has ever been a Them and an I can be denied. We are all of one flame, and the ashes that fall in differing shades on the earth are nothing but something to contemplate, to say a few words over, and then to mix into a mulch from which living things will grow.

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Author: manderson

I live in NYC.

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