Circuitous Journeys & Unfinished Jigsaws


The Universe is shaped exactly like the Earth. If you go straight long enough, you end up where you were. – Modest Mouse

There is a deep, dark secret underlying our shared human struggle. There are some who, whether motivated by naivety or a sense of duty, have attempted to remove the wool from our eyes only to find their compassionate dispatches censored, destroyed or locked away by self-appointed puppet masters of the religions that oppress us. The passing of centuries thus untouched by this taboo wisdom habituated us to the oppression until we came to rely on it. Indeed, the 21st Century Western mind knows of no other reality than this carefully crafted fiction that traps each of us in the nightmare of incompatible strains of pride and obsequiousness.

An ubiquitous understanding of unity is a threat to the power structure. If I and my oppressor are one, it follows that I can find emancipation without permission or instruction from a so-called higher authority. At the level of the Ultimate, there are no opposing directions on the path. You can retreat 10 paces only to find that you’ve simultaneously advanced the same distance. Boundaries dematerialize and selves merge into Self; minds interlock like scattered pieces of a jigsaw until the big picture appears to Mind as Mind. Our egos drop off the Godhead like an infestation of fleas exposed to poison.

Sounds of crying, wailing, whining, sighing shake me from my reverie and compete for my attention. From the din, I can discern the anguished voices of friends, loved ones and benefactors. I want to extend a thousand life preservers to my suffering tribe but the only view conducive to the alleviation of suffering is that which acknowledges no tribes. With tears in my eyes, I turn my back and leave them to sink or swim in the churning ocean of delusion.

The only escape from suffering in the fetid swamp of self-absorption is the intimidating process of stinging self-negation. If you believe you have been wronged by another, I cannot help you. If you believe you have been unfairly burdened by circumstance, I cannot help you. If you believe there is a pot of gold at the end of the laborious journey, I cannot help you. If you even believe that there is an end to the laborious journey, I cannot help you. If you think that you are solid, separate and independent, I cannot help you. If you believe in ownership, I cannot help you. If you believe in discrimination between phenomena, I cannot help you. If you understand that you are but a drop from the sea that must return to the sea after having exhausted its usefulness as rain and atmosphere, you do not need my help. If you understand that there is nothing to take personally since all people are but temporary playthings of conscious Unity, you need no comforting.

If you understand that you are not what appears in the looking glass, that solidity and independence are illusions, that you are just one display of phenomena empty of inherent solidity, you have discovered your true identity through its very negation. Those who abide in this knowledge raise no complaints and seek no hands to hold. We never see them because they have abandoned their homes and wandered far from the tribe. We wonder where they’ve gone although they are sitting right beside us, patiently waiting for us to garner the courage to understand what we’re not so that we can start being what we are. We imagine they are exploring exotic lands beyond the horizon while they smile at our folly and wonder when we’ll notice that their destination was this very spot, this very moment. For the journey was one of awareness, not miles. Nirvana is nothing but Samsara seen through eyes possessed of clarity.

Om gate gate paragate parasamgate Bodhi svaha.

18 thoughts on “Circuitous Journeys & Unfinished Jigsaws

  1. Another great post, full of wisdom. I think I’m going to put this bit on my noticeboard as a reminder for when I get bad reviews:

    “If you understand that there is nothing to take personally since all people are but temporary playthings of conscious Unity, you need no comforting.”


    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks, Caroline! That bit was actually some Toltec wisdom finding its way into the otherwise Buddhist tone. There’s a fairly recent book that’s usually found in the New Age section called The Four Agreements and it’s based upon ancient Toltec scripture from South America. One of the 4 agreements implied in the title is “Take Nothing Personally”.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. It’s excellent advice, and something I will always tell others but sometimes forget myself. I’m finding it easier to spot unfounded ego reactions these days, and to delay responses until they’ve been sense-checked, but those initial responses that tell us to be offended are pretty ingrained.

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  3. I wonder if there is an inherent contradiction in a philosophy of negation and detachment that also tells you “you are but a drop from the sea that must return to the sea after having exhausted its usefulness as rain and atmosphere”. If one is so detached as to forego interactions with those that haven’t, wherein lies the “usefulness”? I know I am asking questions as an “unenlightened”. But I also know that is ok. *shrug* Just points I ponder.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Those are great questions, and it would seem that I already contradicted what I wrote here in my earlier post called Hypocrisy, where I called out spiritual leaders for failing to take pragmatic action. The trick is to understand that this is not a contradiction. You still help others post-realization because when you realize there is no difference between you and them, helping them is the equivalent of helping yourself. So you are absolutely correct: one can provide no tangible help to others if he refuses to leave his contemplative cave.

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      1. That makes more sense. I am of the belief that our true connectivity is our only hope. The trick, I believe, is to be able to control what one sends forth, while being able to handle what one receives. Those with empathy, the true “tender hearts”, are the ones at risk, I fear, of being overwhelmed by both the negative and positive energy currents swirling about this Big Blue Marble. I want to hold them. Those so disconnected from their spirit within and the spirit within others do not concern themselves with petty things like that. I pity them.

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      2. “The trick, I believe, is to be able to control what one sends forth, while being able to handle what one receives.”

        Extremely well said, Brandewulf! How difficult it is not only to control our own emanations but to receive emanations from others without judgement, of ourselves, of them, or of both of us at once. What is it about the human condition that makes us so sensitive to such vibrations? Imagine a world where we learn to interpret these connections for what they are …

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    2. Here’s another important distinction I neglected to point out: pain and suffering are not the same thing. We can and should always do what we can for those currently in pain that is beyond their control. But suffering is created by the ego and is therefore the responsibility of the one who conjured it. A simple illustration: if a friend of yours suddenly punches you in the face for no apparent reason, it will cause physical pain for anywhere from a few moments to a few days. For the pain, I can offer you an ice pack…or a Percocet. However, when the pain has subsided, if you refuse to let it go by ruminating on the treachery, betrayal or unfairness of a situation long past, this is suffering and the only person with the ability to abate the suffering through the negation of ego-generated stories is the storyteller himself.

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      1. That is an understandable difference. The sign of a good teacher is one who breaks terms and ideas down to an understandable level for their students. I have learned I have this skill when I have been involved with instructing. I believe you have it as well.

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  4. Stunned silence. I am sitting here shaking my head, trying so hard to absorb the words you just wrote because I know that my understanding of this post is essential. I must understand this. It hit home in a way I can’t even explain. I am going to read this over and over again, until I am confident there is nothing left for me to learn. Then I am going to read it again…and again. You are on a pedestal, Paul, and you just elevated yourself to new heights. Brilliant. Masterful. Un-fucking-believable. Just a few of the things racing through my mind at the moment. Wow. Bravo, my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow, Tanya — I hope you understand how grateful I am to know you. Not because you compliment me and say nice things, but because your sense of wonder is something to which most of us can only aspire and it fills me with joy. A friend did raise a very valid counterpoint in the comments section here reminding me that my essay was woefully incomplete. So I just finished another post in an attempt to remedy that oversight, and now I see that that second post of the day is also inadequate. But that’s the fucking coolest thing about the pursuit of truth and wisdom, isn’t it? One can never claim to be finished with the matter.

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  5. This is it exactly, an awful denial of Eastern Wisdom, belittling it and this one: “pride and obsequiousness” sums it up. Anything that gets through the cultural security net is perceived as a threat to the power structure, it could be there’ll come a time when banks don’t offer loans to Buddhists anymore; that tenacity of clinging to ‘me’ and ‘mine’ is noticeably absent. Buddhists are not a safe bet, because at any time they might happily give everything away. Banks don’t like freedom from suffering; enslavement to sensory input keeps them in business. Great post! The “If you – I can’t help you,” repetition at the end, is like the oral memorization form in the Theravada teaching which had no writing system: “Thus have I heard…”

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