Anarchy sounds good to me, but who’s gonna fix the sewers? And would the rednecks just play King of the Neighborhood? – Jello Biafra
Do we really need our individual senses of identity? I associate myself with all sorts of things: philosophies, viewpoints, tastes, and even a few traditions that begin with capital letters, though I’m always healthily skeptical of everything in the latter category. When someone says the word “Paul”, I respond. When someone points in my general direction, I say, “Who? Me?” A penchant for high-falutin linguistics aside, I nevertheless behave like a solid entity because I still instinctively believe that I am.
We are all nonentities. Non-entities. What we call a life form is actually an amorphous process, affected by and inseparable from all other ongoing processes. I am not my body; I am not my mind. The only thing identifiable by my name is the delusion that causes me to answer to it. We are all never ending processes. When death turns out the light on your ego consciousness, the process continues as your constituent elements get recycled and your energy disperses. The “new” phenomena that will utilize the raw materials that temporarily combined to manifest you will still be the same process. The process goes like this: combine, create, disintegrate, disperse, repeat. And yet, I doubt I would take it personally if someone addressed me as “Combination, Creation, Disintegration, Dispersion, Repetition” because I still insist that the part of the process to which I’m privy is named Paul. Though I may tell myself it’s for simplicity, it’s actually for reinforcement of my favored delusions.
So…what purpose do ego-associations serve? We all sure treat them as though they were sacred. Even some of the most open-minded people I know have an Achilles heel when it comes to their own viewpoints being called into question. I’m no exception. I would never be offended to hear someone denying my status as something I don’t imagine myself to be. However, I may take umbrage were I to hear someone say that I am not a writer or a philosopher or a spiritual seeker. But why? That would be an accurate assessment because I am not any of those things. I am a fluid process. A fluid process cannot be accurately described by a label such as Buddhist or American or Progressive or even human, for that matter. All such labels imply a static, inherent quality that does not exist.
I know: our temporary phenomenal forms are so diverse that if we all somehow dropped our associations simultaneously, the upshot would almost certainly be chaos resulting from collective mental anarchy. We’ve spent millennia hard-wiring the idea of identity into our very DNA. This identity provides us with an illusory sense of stability, something solid at the center of who we are. We take comfort in our routines and pride in our masks, even though those masks are always chosen from the preexisting pool of masks invented by those who came before us. Those who wear similar masks tend to congregate and create an additional illusion of strength in numbers. This universal habit seems to keep the chaos within certain parameters and maybe that’s how it has to be. It’s just the animal that we are. We don’t know how to treat anarchy with respect so we can’t be allowed to indulge it.
I’ve explored certain esoteric paths that attempt to cut through the delusion by resting in awareness devoid of concepts. There is merit to such uncharted exploration, but were I to attempt to describe it further, it would become its own concept. Such practices have names that generally begin with capital letters. That is how a practice designed to transcend concepts becomes the very thing it purports to transcend.
This is why I am not a Buddhist or a Taoist or a Hindu or an Agnostic. I am not an American. I am not a New Mexican. I am not a Democrat or a Progressive. I am not of Irish or Italian ancestry. I am not a writer or a meditator or a philosopher or a loan processor or a punk rocker or an Antichrist or an anarchist. I am not Paul Loughman. I am not an entity.
We are all processes within a grander cosmic process. You needn’t feel personally responsible for anything because there is no separate person to whom the burden of responsibility can fall. Now isn’t that a big fucking relief? Maybe. Paul sure thinks so, but of course, he’s just a mirage obscuring an impersonal process that’s too intimidating to acknowledge. You might want to ask someone else.