“But it is a general principle that ‘you can’t go home again,’ you can’t really regress, the adult cannot become a child in the strict sense. You can’t ‘undo’ knowledge, you can’t really become innocent again; once you have seen something, you can’t undo the seeing. Knowledge is irreversible, perceiving is irreversible, knowing is irreversible; in this sense you can’t go home again. The only possible alternative for the human being is to understand the possibility of going on ahead, growing older, going on ahead to the second naïveté, to the sophisticated innocence, to the unitive consciousness.” Abraham Maslow
It’s a strange thing growing up - for you are ever mindful of the trinity within: who you once were, who you are now, and who you could become. And all of these identities are incompatible with each other. Their incongruity rests in the fact that only one of them is actual - the rest are pragmatic fictions. The narrative of your former self is only a tale - its concrete form is in your current habits and predispositions. So too, your future self is a story - but is alive and breathing and is made manifest by choices and decisions. And so our present self is sandwiched between the past and the future, between habits and decisions. And you can never undo a habit. And you can never shy away from decision. And so you must you stand fast in the middle.
A strange thing might happen in the middle. You might just notice your strength.
“I seem to have such strength in me now, that I think I could stand anything, any suffering, only to be able to say, and to repeat to myself every moment, ‘I exist.’ In thousands of agonies…I exist'. I’m tormented on the rack…but I exist!” Fyodor Dostoyevsky
A curious strength boils up from within when you watch a habit arise and remain unperturbed. You are literally watching your former self rear its head. And maybe it’s a childhood habit - and who would yell at a child? Love all that arises, even habits that no longer serve you. And in loving it you let it go - and in letting it go you’ve made your decision to grow up.
This recognition is the great mystery. The recognition that you can live in the space between feelings and actions. Your strength is now seen to come from neither your past nor your future, but your capacity to bear them both in the present. And as such, happiness is not found in longing for the subjective past or in hoping for an objective future - but in the happening of the mysterious now. All saints speak of this mystery, and those who catch a glimpse can never go home again.
“Once this recognition has taken place it is never possible to invest our desire for lasting peace and happiness in objective experience with quite the same conviction again. Although we may forget or ignore it - our understanding will impress itself upon us with greater frequency and power, asserting its undeniable and unavoidable truth. We turn away from this intuition at our peril” Rupert Spira
As you recognise that the road to unicity is a road of strenuous relinquishment - you obtain the vantage point of all the Buddha’s of a bygone age. And while this vantage point is expansive - it requires of you the utmost discernment. For you must be ever mindful of the past and future as they arise. You must be able to understand what actions lead to righteousness and what actions are but attempts to recreate childhood.
“Your view is like the sky. Your actions as fine as barley grain” Padmasambhava
This point by Padmasambhava, the establisher of Buddhism in Tibet, is very subtle. It brings an answer to the recent issue of Spiritual Bypassing. This is using the tools and techniques that facilitate unitive consciousness to sidestep personal issues, to become apathetic towards emotional disfunction, and to ignore calls to action. Doing so is a regression to infantile consciousness - but since you can’t really regress - it is simply a travesty. Verily, the path to unicity neither bypasses, enhances, nor transforms the ego. It simply goes beyond it. And when you go beyond something, it’s still right where you left it. So your actions are as they were before, and what is required of you from life is the same. Or as Jack Kornfield put it: “After ecstasy, the laundry”.
Even with all the whistles & whistling,
the calls of the birds,
this, my mind, doesn't waver,
for my delight is in
oneness -(Theragatha 1.49)
Don’t waver when birds call you and land on your shoulder. Bear them kindly, let them sit and rest, but some of them need not be fed any longer.
It is as it is.
Enlighten and Motivate / View and Action