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May 21st, 2020
Answer this question: Where are you?
There is certainly a standard geographical answer. We can list a continent, a country, a city, a town, a street, and a number and then append it with living room, or bedroom.
But once we’ve exhausted our ability to locate our body in relation to other people, since geographical location is –more than anything- a way that humans structure that data of distance from one another, how is the original question further probed?
Phrased another way, we can sharpen up the question and ask more specifically:
Where in your experience of reality are you?
If you pause for a moment and simply register the sphere of your consciousness, that is, the sounds that are drifting toward you, the sound of the passing car on the street, the family member jabbering away on the phone in the next room, the crackle of CO2 in the tin can of soda water, the light of the room, the shapes and textures of walls and items that light illuminates, the heat, or chilly feel of air, the humidity, the feel of that full stomach or that tinge of bored hunger. The restless lethargy, or that relaxed calmness. If you consider all of it, the entire breadth of your present moment and all it’s finer details, where in that experience are you?
We might be tempted to give the rationally seeming answer of: at the center of all those details, of course.
A fair answer, but it must be unpacked. If there is a center to this experience. Point at it, and describe what exactly you are pointing at.
Is this description possible?
The mind can certainly produce an answer. But any answer can be further interrogated. Try the exercise and then ask if that description is at all just an extension of the prior description of our experience of reality. We can touch our face and say: this is me. But that symmetrical feeling of hand on face and face on hand is still just an aspect of our reality at the moment. It’s like the feeling of the floor under our feet, or that particular geometry of light flung up on the wall. It’s part of our experience. And at the extreme end of a spectrum, there are people who have had their face blown off and yet still, there’s someone that remains….there.
So where is there?
Imagine for a moment that the backs of your eyelids had mirrors, and when you closed your eyes, you were suddenly looking back at the origin of what seems to be you. Now, we could be rather technical and say that the cones and rods that compose the cellular structure of the retina within the eye would suddenly see themselves, but this is far from how we experience the world with our eyes closed. Not to mention that the lenses in our eyes and those cones and rods themselves don’t have the capacity to resolve the smallness of their own detail. Rather, regard this question of mirror eyes within the frame of how reality is experienced.
If you suddenly had the capacity to truly look back at yourself, beyond what we see in normal mirrors, what would you see?
Is there anything there?
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