The following is an excerpt from an article written by Michael Stone, found in his book “Awake in the World”. Find it on the Centre of Gravity website, along with his other books.
“Organizing in the Natural World” by Michael Stone
“For life in the present there is no death. Death is not an event in life. It is not a fact in the world. Our life is endless, in just the same way that our field of vision has no boundaries.”
-Wittgenstein, Tractus Logico-Philosophicus
What does it mean that our field of vision has no boundaries? I look into a river and see fish and stones and there is nothing other than everything. It’s a cold winter day, and my son wanted to have a long bath before school this morning. He said the water was just “really hot snow.” Before it can put an end to its own elaborations, the mind creates the world out of boundarylessness. Such union is the basis for the mind-body-world to begin with. These words are just the words of winter. Winter writes itself on the branches and grasses. but when I am in stillness, I can’t find the line between those branches and the limbs of my body.
Although a person is not exactly water and earth and air and fire, we are also not separate from those elements either. We are not separate or identical to the elements. If we search for any one thing we can pinpoint as objectively real – one thing we really depend on for our existence – we will fail. We can’t land on one defining characteristic.
The yoga that precedes “this” and “that,” “mind” and “body,” is percolating through your every movement today – every thought, word, and deed. Everything you think and feel and do is temporary. Everything you see and hear is passing away. This reminder of death in life is following each and every one of us. A simple and gentle reminder but relentless nevertheless: don’t drift. Don’t squander your life. Mind is not just a human function or organ but the natural condition of living systems. Wherever there is life there is mind. Biological systems, from embryos to social insects, get tremendous mileage by using vast numbers of easy-to-find, unreliable components to achieve complex evolutions reliably. One year after a forest fire, the land is itself on fire- teeming with insects and other breathing creatures.
Mind is always organizing. We humans classify the raw data of our experience by giving it name and form. Mind is what puts name and form together. When we can see that our mind is a kind of synthesizer, we can step back and watch the choices that our minds make moment to moment. The greatest freedom we have is being able to clearly see that in any given context, we have choice. We can decide what kind of attentions and attitude we bring to the object showing up here and now. And it can change. This life and death cycle of thoughts and attitudes reminds us that choice is always present. There is immense freedom in choice. How we pay attention is a liberating resource.