Perhaps the greatest asset of the human mind is its immense capacity, not only to distinguish among the subtlest differences, but also to conceptually identify these differences, and the things, events, and processes that emerge from establishing these differences. We are what we are, to a great extend, because of our capacity to create and utilize the languages by means of which we codify, remember, think, and desire.
We take enormous pride in this capacity because it made possible our survival in very adverse environments and circumstances, but principally because it allowed us to become the dominant species we have become. However, we seldom reflect on the drawbacks of our conceptual acumen, which are far from negligible. After some fifty thousand years of the steady development of different verbal and non-verbal forms of representation, each with its particular nomenclature, focus, and area of interest and expertise, we find ourselves psychologically defined, and therefore, greatly enclosed and divided by the languages we use and the particular bodies of knowledge these languages afford to each one of us.
Furthermore, although the power to name, measure, process, and project perceptual experience by means of different representational languages has provided us with a significant understanding of nature, the very conceptual nature of this understanding has also alienated us profoundly from the movement of life that, being undivided and actual is intrinsically and forever beyond the reach of conceptual representation, no matter how accurate, broad, and sophisticated. The map is never, ever, the territory.
Life is not the collection of relatively interrelated things, events, and processes our varied and contradictory representational languages have made of it. More importantly,we are not the separate and unique entities we have come to think we are by virtue of the same fragmentary quality of knowledge and thought.
As it is now —and much of our tragic condition stems from it— we conceive of life as a somewhat intelligible, but largely meaningless stage on which our personal characters play our their assumed or assigned roles on the strength of their particular knowledge, emotions, connections, wealth, and ambition. The alienation from life, and the psychological distance that representational memory, knowledge, and thought have created between particular human organisms and the groups with which we each identify is, naturally, the source of endless antagonism, violence, and sorrow. What is even worse, we are so attached to the conceptual cells and penitentiaries in which we have unwittingly interned ourselves, that our usual response to our poor relationship with others and life, is to engage in further efforts to thicken, further raise, or expand the ideational and image-inary walls that separate us from others and strange us from every instant's life and death.
The sense of separate existence created by self-centered thought is responsible for the cruel social and mental reality in which most human beings live and die. However, real as it appears, this fearful and hurtful condition is not the truth. The unthinkable integrity of the actual, instant-by-instant movement of life and death is the truth, and the human presence, both personal and collective is but an insignificant expression of this infinite and timeless truth. There is an awareness of the character and absurd limitations of the prison of self-centered thought that, being fearless and non-reactive, and therefore impersonal, destroys the prison by doing away with the prisoner. It is at the ever undeserved light of this awareness that the human mind realizes its blessed, unknowing participation in the mystery of life.
(It is clear to me that the words, images, and ideas used to compose this post, only aim to present a possibility of self-transcendence that lies ultimately beyond the limited reach of knowledge and thought. Therefore this offering ought to be received with the same critical understanding with which it was made. No matter how well-intended, no representation is equivalent to the truth, and never more so than in this matter of complete insight into the human condition. One thing is abundantly clear, the possibility of an enlightened mind ultimately demands discarding of all the representations that thought has created in reference to it.)