This weeks word is from one of our very own
One of the best things that has happened since I started studying with the Temple of the Jedi Order is really diving into some deep topics. In one of the lessons we studied Alan Watts and one of the interesting things he talked about is what we consider to be us.
I had heard before that humans have leaky margins and this chapter was designed to make us understand how leaky we really are. Watts spends most of the chapter describing the Gestalt theory of perception that asserts that no figure is ever perceived except in relation to the background.
You cannot truly see an organism without seeing its environment for any object’s outline is just an inline of the background. You cannot exist without the environment in which you exist in. “As the Chinese say, the various features of a situation ‘arise mutually’ or imply one another as back implies front, as chickens imply eggs – and vice versa.” You are the air that you breathe, the sunlight that you absorb, and the food you eat. Without any of these things, you would cease to exist. The neglect of including your surroundings into what is perceived as you is the reluctance to be “participating members of the whole community of living species.”
Watts goes on to say that, “Parts are fictions of language, of the calculus of looking at the world through a net which seems to chop it up in bits. Parts exist only for purposes of figuring and describing, and as we figure the world out we become confused.”
I think my favorite example from this chapter is the comparison of thinking that this planet is a life-infested rock to the human as a cell-infested skeleton. We are comprised of a plethora of individual organisms working together, so too are we an organism working together with all other organisms in the living universe.
In the end, all we perceive is just vibration that is interpreted by specialized organisms into sight, sound, touch, taste, smell, and intuition. It begs the question that without this perception would these things exist? Did sub-atomic particles exist before we perceived them?
Watts states that we have lacked the real humility or recognizing that we are members of the biosphere yet, have lacked the proper self-respect of recognizing that I, the individual organism, am a structure of such a fabulous ingenuity that it calls the whole universe into being. Our existence is not merely a piece of the entire but the whole. We just cannot perceive it all.
Thus all existence is brought forth in the eternal present for it is our collective perception that creates what is and what it means to you.