Dinner and a Movie

July 13th, 2019

When you don’t cover up the world with words and labels, a sense of the miraculous returns to your life that was lost a long time ago when humanity, instead of using thought, became possessed by thought.

Eckhart Tolle

I am all about abundance.

The lesson of abundance (as opposed to scarcity) is that in reality, there are no limits. There is plenty of food, even for 10 billion humans and all other species left on Earth. There is plenty of energy. We can run out of oil, but can we run out of the sun?

We can argue about overpopulation or pollution or other excesses of development. But it’s all an argument about limits: about what is given, given the circumstances. Some believe in the “singularity,” the ability to exceed the limitations of our bodies: to escape them, to get out of them. Some believe we can exceed the limitations of the Earth: that we can escape it, get out, and colonize space. But if we’re so powerful, why do we have to get out?

Getting into the heavens and eternal life are just old ideas repackaged. But neither the body nor the earth, our “eco-body,” is where the limits are. The limiting factor is our minds/culture. And that limitation ties us together. Nobody is separate, free, and can escape. It’s like trying to escape your shadow. Wherever you go, there you are. You take your Achilles heel with you.

Humanism, or more precisely, progressivism, is the idea that progress (technology, etc.) can solve all our problems. But the very thing that humanity puts its faith in is what limits us. And that is our ideas. Our limits are all imagined.

We live in a world that is not only abundant but unlimited. That’s because reality is one big dream. Freedom is a matter of knowing this. And knowing it looks like loving life. We all love ourselves very intensely; that is why we want to survive. Some of us love our families, our country, our species, etc. But whatever you love, you’re attached to. If you love anything short of everything, you’re going to have fear.

The solution is not to not love anything; it’s to love everything. Today, this isn’t easy. We aren’t just individuals free to choose what we love, that is, what we are attached to. We are products – or rather, vehicles – of social and biological conditioning.

Fortunately, we have not one but two selves: the small self and the big Self. The small self is what we’re attached to. It’s also known as the ego. The big Self is the one that gets attached. It’s also known as consciousness: the “I” (or eye) or witness. The ego is just part of the dream. Consciousness is the dreamer: not the movie but the one watching it. This Self is free. And that’s who we really are.

Humanity has fallen in love with its tools. We use our tools, like our hands, to manipulate. The Indo-European root man can mean hand or human. Man or men, as in mental, can also mean thinker. Man is the thinker. And thought is the original tool.

Tools are powerful, and for the same reason, dangerous. Think of a knife or an explosive. All tools are drugs. They can make life easier or more pleasant. Like a credit card, they can also make life miserable. Our love for tools is an extreme attachment: an addiction. We are addicted to thought when we can’t stop thinking.

Thought is traditionally represented (as in The Tarot) by a sword. The word “decision,” for example, means to cut off. But like any tool, the sword is dangerous. It is double-edged. It can cut through illusion and it can also create it.

Thought is conceptualization. Reason requires it. You can’t think about things until you have an idea of what those things are. These ideas are concepts. Those concepts are static. They are generalizations. They are limited in space and time. You draw a dotted line around a certain set of characteristics and say “that is Alan,” “that is a chair,” “that is capitalism,” “that is a black person,” or “that is how white people behave.”

You can see the danger in this. Conceptualization is powerful because to some extent, you may be right. You can study things and get an idea of how they behave. This is what science is all about. Science is the project of finding out what is true, what is given. But truth is all conceptual. It’s just generalizations about limits. And the truth is that it’s all imagined. It’s all made up. In reality, there are no limits. There are no rules. Anything is possible.

What we see in the world that looks like rules, what we see in the universe that look like laws, are just habits. They are habits of mind: for as a dream, the world is a mental construct.

The goal is not to break all our habits; it’s not to stop thinking; it’s not to destroy or dissolve the world. That’s not where the limits are. We designed this, and for good reason. It’s entirely possible to wake up in the dream, not out of it. You don’t have to leave the theatre to realize you’re watching a movie — and stay and enjoy it.

The lesson of abundance is that there’s plenty for everyone because there isn’t really any one. The idea of the separate, limited self is an illusion. It’s an addiction. We love the very thing that limits us: our concept of ourselves.

When you love life, not just the small self, you’re no longer a stranger in a strange land. You feel at home. Then every movie is a home movie.

When you know you’re dreaming, there is nothing to fear. It’s all good, it’s all food. Dinner is a movie.

When we see that food isn’t just what has to pass through the mouth, then we can all be fed.