Waves not things: the question of reality and illusion
13 Saturday Jul 2013
These most recent posts about the Void have been difficult to read, I know. They stir up all sorts of dreads, old and new, about whether life has meaning, about personal identity, reality and illusion and trickery, about purpose and abandonment and isolation, and–for some of us–about the character of God. The comments here and in my emails have reflected sometimes great distress, and I was finding it difficult to craft an adequate response. For instance (and with her permission), here is Linda:
A person once said to me, “If there is a God, this is all a joke/game.” With anger. I was aghast.
Only to read this [blog post]–that nothing is real and we don’t exist–after an ADC not long ago with my son? Wow. I’d stopped dusting, cleaning and cooking from grieving the loss of my children and my home, I sit and watch cobwebs grow. To read we are not real, no-thing is real ires me. Especially with all the suffering in this “fictional” world.
After my hellish experience I learned it was an illusion. But I rejoiced my life. Many years later I experienced unconditional love. Was that an illusion too?
What can one say? How to respond? The only legitimate response is a deep and caring silence.
Almost in the same hour, into my email came something which may speak to the issue. In Scotland, homeopathic physician Bob Leckridge (you’ve met him on this blog before) had been writing about change and illusion. His blog post is titled, “Waves not things.”
Isn’t it amazing how being human involves unrelenting, constant change? My body feels like my body. It’s always felt like my body. But there isn’t a single cell in this body today which was here when I was a child. In fact all of the cells which make up this body are continuously being renewed. Some die off, others are born. So what is this “me”? And, at this point, I just mean my physical being. Goodness knows how you pin down the subjective “self” that is me! I create that every moment of every day.
With all this constant change, how come I retain a consistent identity?
I certainly don’t feel I am a “thing”……I’m not even sure what a “thing” is! What I mean is I am not an object. I cannot be reduced to my “substance”, my cells, my molecules, my DNA even. The totality of me is more than that, and the totality of me, right here, right now, had never existed before, and won’t exist exactly like this by the time you read this.
I think I’m a wave.
What I mean is I am more like a wave, than an object.
Have you ever stopped to think about what a wave is? You can spot a wave far out from the shore and follow it as it heads towards the rocks or the sand, but that wave is not an “it”. The water particles which make up the wave stay pretty much where they are. As the wave passes through the water, the particles just move up and down in a circular motion. They don’t actually head together towards the shore.
As you follow a wave, you are watching an energy complex consistently recruit particles into a distinctive pattern or forwards but it doesn’t bind those particles into an entity. It picks them up and drops them, moving its shape through the water……
Here’s a couple of quotes from other authors about waves.
Luther Burbank: The truth is that life is not material and that the life stream is not a substance.
Howard Bloom: You are a wave. Every minute you say goodbye to more than a billion combinations of post synaptic receptors in your brain and replace them with new ones. You do the same with the cells that line your digestive tract and make up your skin. And you constantly shift your mind from one obsession to another. Yet you retain an identity. Something more puzzling than mere substance continues to impose the shifting flicker of a you…..Your identity is a pattern holding sway over a hundred trillion cells that change constantly…….Your self is a dance that uses matter to whisk from the invisible and the impossible into the gasses, dusts, and jellies of reality.
Today, so many years after my own experience of the Void, I have come to understand that, like the wave, it is only from the most superficial material perspective that we appear to be objects, to be real things. With a change of perspective we can see that, like the wave, we are most real as an underlying, enduring activity, which is invisible to the eye.
It is at this unseen level of ourselves that a mother can communicate with a child in spirit, the level at which all our interior experience exists and we can know unconditional love and the terrifying plenitude of potential. Is it consciousness itself? I do not know. I certainly do not understand. But I heve found it to be true. By living from my waveness, I am able to move, to be, to travel from despairing emptiness to the paradoxical joy El Collie talks about. I am not real as a thing; I am real as enduringness. Invisible, yet real.