All problems come from having a body.
Our body is separate, discrete, individual.
Our consciousness rooted in our physical brains also feels separate and individual
Yet we can sometimes feel that we are more; that our identity can dissolve and we are one with all things
This is the contrary pulling we experience.
We protect our bodies, our boundaries, our time, our property, our reputation.
But this work is never over. As soon as a house is built nature starts pulling it down with rain from above, damp from below, insects, fungus and living things banging and battering from all around.
This is the way with everything we do and often we feel the opposing forces of the world are so strong we must fight to the death; some may use a philosophy for survival. There is a useful rhyme in the film Cloud Atlas:
The weak are meat
And the strong do eat.
This is how we view the vegetation and animals of the world. This is how we view other people when we fight wars or legalise slavery or take from another because we can.
Yet, we may sometimes imagine ourselves into the skin of another life, big or small, from a human to a microbe, that also fights for the integrity of its being.
This may shake our conviction. It is hard to take the life of something once you feel its beating will to live is the same as your own. You may feel that you love this thing as yourself.
Next is another complication. You realise that if neither of you kills then both will starve. The chain of being is the food chain.
If you follow the links in this chain you see that the whole thing is a way of mixing atoms up into new combinations. It’s a game of simultaneous killing and co-operation.
This leaves us in an awkward situation. Whether we kill or be killed we are doing our job for the universe. Yet, as conscious beings aware of the struggling individuality of all bodies, we don’t want to kill or be killed.
So, our separateness and our love for all things gives us a holy conundrum.
We may find some horrid problems as we work this out. We all read or hear harrowing stories. Many people experience these things sometime in their lives.
If you are a social worker, policeman or nurse you may come across, for example, a young baby cold, hungry and dehydrated covered in shit and cigarette burns. You may find later the baby has cracked ribs, broken limbs and brain damage and will live a life of otherness.
You may open your eyes one day and find that you are the person who has done this to their child. Or you may be the child living your life with this inheritance.
Everyone will have some story that is unbearable for them to contemplate; that makes them unable to feel love or union. They may feel angry as Bob Dylan:
You who philosophise disgrace
And criticise all fears
Bury the rag most deep in your face
For now is the time for your tears.
What can be done with this? You may strengthen your barricades and gather your weapons to attack the strong who harm the weak.
Yet still, your imagination and empathy may get the better of you and put you unexpectedly into the skin of the abuser. You may feel their weakness and struggle for strength. Or you may notice yourself taking from another because you can. Or remember a moment you came close to doing something unforgiveable. You may feel you have actually done the unforgiveable.
Clearly our hearts cry out to protect the weak and we must be strong to do this. But every so often we feel a sympathy, an understanding for the strong we are fighting against.
It is very awkward. Are we separate or are we one?
But put your imagination back to the weak and innocent. How would it feel to be the babies tortured and killed by their parents; the children starving around the world; the diseased everywhere; the animals living nasty, caged lives; the caterpillars eaten alive by the wasp lavae and countless other brutal examples from the natural world: all of the creatures suffering without the adequatio to take consolation from philosophy, simply suffering moment to moment till death?
It is hard to be in those skins. We jump straight back out. But we can’t forget them or put them behind walls where we can’t see them. We return over and over to stories, books, films, news reports, conversations. We know the ocean of suffering is there. We look over the coast defences and wish we could forget the safety of our bodies and jump in.
And if you did what would you do? Best wait till you know what you are doing. The news will be on in a minute. The authorities should be doing something about it anyway. That includes God. How can cancer and parasitic worms be right?
To be separate or to be one is quite a problem.
Is it viable to balance in the middle? Take an impersonal view of oneself and others as protagonists in the food chain of life while keeping ones heart open to the subjective feelings of all?
What would that be like?