I have been photographing this year’s bloom of the Amaryllis my lovely daughter, Andrea, gave us some three years ago. Unfortunately, the resulting images are but a faint echo of the color, form, and unspeakable tenderness of this flowering. However, the actual flowering made a surprising appearance during our after dinner conversation, and I would love to give you at least a semblance of what transpired. After talking at certain length about some recent experiences in which we both failed to adequately relate with other people, Kim and I found ourselves at a thematic destination not uncommon in our on-going dialogue: the nature of personal thought and how the cultural and self-projective memory on which it is based tends to corrupt relationship.
—“Just imagine the impact on human society and the natural world of seven and half billion of us, each ensconced in his or her limited experience and knowledge, and doggedly bent on the realization of particular plans and dreams. It is no wonder we have always had such difficulty getting along with each other and seem so determined to destroy what naturally sustains our very physical presence on Earth.”
—“It is as foolish as it is dangerous to allow what we think we are to have such enormous effect on our individual and collective fate. When I reflect on the smallness of my life experience, the insignificance of my learning is, and the arrogance and wrongheadedness of even my most generous desires, I sense that human existence must have a much deeper significance than what we think and want, personally and collectively.”
—“Yes, you are right. We see ourselves as thinkers, when the truth is that we are being thought. I mean... the larger reality is a gigantic system of rather mechanical thought that sustains itself by using human organisms as its inadvertent hosts. The past experience of humanity as a whole, the tradition of every nation and group and, on top of that, the small-time past experience of every individual determines to the greatest extent the present and future thought and behavior of the entire species. Human organisms have become isolated in the fantasy of an all-important personal existence; a fantasy that, being necessarily unstable and insecure, tends to assume the right to think and do whatever is deemed necessary to somehow improve on or somehow overcome this condition without actually abandoning it. Caught in the permanently agitated personal enclave of this collective mental set-up, the individual human organism is almost totally unable to see that it is only a memory puppet remotely controlled by thought, the unquestioned puppet-master.”
—“The general system of thought you are talking about appears to me as an immense cloud, a cloud made of the images and ideas that billions of human beings entertain while thinking that they are unique entities doing what they regularly do to feel safe, to get ahead, and to pretend they are somehow exempt from death. There is more, I see bodies wearily hanging from the bottom of this cloud and then dropping off.They are the ones who are dying. They die in waves, generational waves, but the cloud remains up and floating as it always has, because the ones who drop to their death are immediately replaced by the children whose relatively innocent minds are routinely crammed with the predetermined content and ways of the cloud of thought.”
—“That is really good, an accurate portrayal of the nature of thought conditioned by particular experience! However, hearing it has brought up an entirely different one to my head. Now, iImagine all of humanity free of its subservience to the provincial and egotistical character of self-centered thought. Would it not be then like a a perennially flowering creature living in perfect harmony with its environment, and never at odds with itself?”
—Yes, I can see that, but at the same time find hard to imagine how human beings could stop being at odds with themselves and others, and humanity transcend its division and therefore no longer be at war with itself. At the level of integration you are suggesting is possible, how would individuals know themselves? You know what I mean? Who would we be if that famous and insatiable 'self-esteem' were to go away?”
—“Yes, such a radical transformation of consciousness seems impossible, but only if considered from within the same limited framework of a self-reflective mind pre-programmed by particular experience and knowledge. But it could definitely happen if a critical number of individuals would simply wake up to the idiocy of unquestioning servitude to a false sense of separate existence and the very real conflict and suffering it interminably generates. The potential for generosity and intelligent collaboration is certainly within the reach of the human mind, but only if self-centered thought is no longer dominant. All that is necessary is a clear perception of how what we each think of ourselves, others, and life in general brings chaos to our minds and relationships.”
— “Hmmm...I was just looking at the amaryllis bloom while you were talking. Why could humanity not flower just like that? We seem so stunted, ugly, and stupid carrying on and on with these divisive and stupid ways predetermined by what we each happen to remember and covet. We are so eager to destroy the innocence of our children, and we do it so that they will go grow up to be bad copies of ourselves, efficient workers and soldiers willing to serve the demands of utterly corrupt organizations, sects, and nations. I sense that the truth is that we are so addicted to self-protective and self-serving thinking, that we find it difficult to even consider the possibility of being something other than ourselves. We have become afraid of the impersonality of tenderness, terrified of the innocence and love that lie in the otherwise evident integrity of life. Look at how sweetly and vulnerably that bud asserts the truth of its unknowing participation in existence.”
—“I feel a strange sense of relief when I conceive of humanity as a strangely beautiful, ever-flowering organism. Imagine how irrelevant death could be to such gigantic organism, if only we were to stop conceiving of ourselves as separate and unique entities. Death is, after all, only the way in which life renews itself.
What humanity has come to think of life is an aberration, an unnatural, falsely plural illusion extending itself in time through its deranged plan to overcome fear and insecurity through personal fulfillment. The human mind does not have to operate in this manner. It is too cruel and idiotic. How different are we from that amaryllis bloom’s supremely intelligent communion with life?”
—“O.K., I need to go do the dishes now.”