If you have a moment can you please clarify something on your blog:
“I mean that when Moe hits Curly on the head with a sledgehammer, Moe is really only hitting Moe on the head with a sledgehammer. It only appears to be Curly getting hit.”
What does this mean? Moe smashes Curly’s head. Curly dies. Moe lives on.
Now I understand that nothing is truly autonomous; but… How is Moe killing Curly, actually Moe killing Moe?
For one thing, you must not be a Three Stooges fan. Curly doesn’t die when he gets smashed on the head with a sledgehammer by Moe. The sledgehammer gets all bent up and Curly just says, “Ow!” Look what happened to the axe on the photo on top of this article. Curly was fine.
But I understand the question and I’ll try my best to answer it.
The answer is that although it appears to us that Moe and Curly are eternally separate entities, that’s not really how it is. Both Moe and Curly are manifestations of the same underlying reality. And not just in an abstract or metaphorical sense. That’s really how it is.
The same something that looks out through Moe’s eyes and perceives Curly, also looks out through Curly’s eyes and perceives Moe. And it looks out through your eyes to perceive both Curly and Moe. If Moe were to kill Curly, that same something would outlive both of them and also be both of them. There isn’t anyone else here at all.
I would expect the follow-up question to be, “How do you know this? It sure doesn’t seem that way to me!”
This is a perfectly reasonable question. Because it doesn’t seem that way to me either a lot of the time. But once you manage to catch on to the reality of this situation even for a moment, you can never let it go.
This understanding of things is radically different from the way most people look at stuff. It is so extraordinarily different that certain delusional folks, when they come across someone who has had a glimpse of this, get way too excited about that person and start calling her a sage or a saint. Those people will never give the folks they follow a moment’s peace. Or, conversely, they get way over excited about that person and call him a heretic or a lunatic. They either venerate the person all out of proportion or they lock him up or even kill him.
More people are aware of this view than are willing to talk about it. These folks don’t like either of those options. So they stay quiet or they just tell a few close friends and swear those friends to secrecy.
Then, of course, there are those who mimic people who’ve understood this stuff because they want the fame and money that sometimes accrues when people venerate those guys. Unfortunately you can also get yourself killed this way if you’re not careful.
The reason I bring this up is that I’m always careful about announcing how I know this to be true. Much as I’d like to move out of this fleabag one-bedroom in Akron, I’m aware of the dangers involved as well. So every time I mention how I happen to know this, I always go out of my way to make it clear that I am as big of a dunce as anyone could possibly be.
The thing is, you yourself could see this too if you were willing to put in the work involved. Anyone — absolutely anyone — can see it if they want to. But most people are too lazy and they never will.
I have managed on a few occasions to get just clear enough in my mind and body to see that my mind is not my mind nor is my body my body. They are both manifestations of something that’s way, way bigger than me. And yet this something is more me than I could ever be.
And still I have to pay my own insurance bills. What’s up with that?
Anyway, this is pretty much the same explanation as you can find in any one of a dozen or more decent books on the subject. If you’re really interested in understanding it clearly then you have to put in the work yourself.
Ten years of daily zazen practice usually suffices for most people to at least get an initial understanding of why Moe and Curly aren’t really different from each other in the sense that we usually think.
You can get started today.
And if you want to get started with me, beginning Sunday January 15th 2012 I will be hosting Zazen every Sunday night at 7 pm at the Akron Shambhala Meditation Center. The address is:
133 Portage Trail Ste. 202
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio