This blog is no longer being updated. About this blog.

We Are All Here To Do What We Are All Here To Do

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,…
(The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats)

I envision my consciousness like a wave of the sea which eventually crashes on the beach and ceases to exist. My mind is just a process which will come to an end someday.

I feel like I should be immortal only because the only world I’ve ever known has included me in it. As a child, I imagined every event that happened before my birth in black and white as if the world wasn’t fully real until I entered it.

Is this observer truly me? If the observer in my head defines me, what happens when I drift into dreamless sleep? Where am I then? Does death feel different than drifting off to sleep?

Or does the process which defines me also include all of my body which supports that observer? Without my body, my mind wouldn’t exist. Is my body part of my self? Does my self even further include the world which gives nourishment to my body and gives shape to my thoughts? What uniquely defines me as me? Where is the line where I end and everything else begins? Can an honest line be drawn between me and not me?

Is my self essentially my intelligence? My personality? My memories? What if I am in a car accident on my way home tonight suffering a traumatic head injury and all of those are taken away from me? Am I still me? Or have I become someone else? Have I ever ceased changing from one person to another?

Is there any truth in the idea that there is a clearly defined self which persists throughout my life? My body changes. My mind grows and changes. The material that makes up my body is continually cycled in and out. The flesh and blood which currently make up me isn’t the same stuff which made up my body as a child. I am constantly in flux, continually remade.

I eat death. Death gives me life. I die in turn each day giving birth to new life.

The only self I can point to is a whirlwind, a wave, a flame which has an apparent beginning and an end. It comes together from other processes, gives birth to still others, and eventually becomes unrecognizable.

Why should I become attached to this process of experience that is my self? What the Lord gives, he also takes away. It is not equitable to mourn the end which is the natural consequence of the fact of my wonderful existence.

As I see myself outside of ego, death begins to lose its fearful power over my mind.

I try to live life to the fullest not because it will ultimately make a lasting difference in the universe. All life will probably come to an end in the distant future. I live now because that sterile future comes only after many people live and die. I live so that I can make my personal experience better and to improve the lives of future generations in any way that I can. The universe doesn’t care, but I do. I live in curiosity, compassion, thought, and passion because I am human. That’s what humans do.

See Ego—The False Center.

[Adapted from my comment to a post at Letters from a broad.]

Tags: , , , , , ,


  1. Dorothy Roeder said,

    June 2, 2007 @ 5:42 pm

    The wave does not cease to exist when it reaches the shore. It merges back into the ocean and becomes part of the whole which sustains it, gave it form and took back that form then recreates another.

  2. Jonathan Blake said,

    June 2, 2007 @ 7:24 pm

    Thank you for your words, Dorothy. Is the wave eternal, or is the ocean?

  3. NewIvory said,

    June 5, 2007 @ 1:20 pm

    every wave in the ocean is unique. if that one wave reaches the shore and crashes on to a rock…. then that one unique wave is gone. it will go back to where it had been before and will stay there to merge and flow in the same ocean for a new wave to be born.

  4. Jonathan Blake said,

    June 5, 2007 @ 2:57 pm

    From a materialist viewpoint, it seems that waves and humans are both part of something larger: the ocean and humanity respectively. When they crash on the beach or die, something that can’t be sharply defined comes to an end and we can no longer recognize that distinct wave or human as being operative in the world. Yet there are echoes and ripples which continue even though we don’t really perceive them as being part of the individual we knew. The energy of the wave is conserved traveling through the water, the sand, and the air. Each human’s life continues to have an effect long after death.

    So we each seem to have a place in eternity even though we don’t continue in conscious experience of the world after we die. The wave metaphor is very instructive to me.

  5. Black Sun Journal » Archives » The Humanist Symposium #3 said,

    June 9, 2007 @ 8:11 pm

    [...] Blake from Green Oasis pens a zen-like reflection on the ephemeral nature of human existence, the questions of what defines selfhood, and the [...]

  6. Green Oasis » The Humanist Symposium #3 said,

    June 10, 2007 @ 1:23 pm

    [...] third edition of the Humanist Symposium is now available. A post by yours truly has been [...]

RSS feed for comments on this post