Original Link : https://eand.co/the-great-thread-of-being-a167f10f232d
The Raw Stuff We’re Made Of, And Why it Matters
“The energy you put out into the world is your responsibility!” I couldn’t help but be struck by how funny the tweet was, whereupon someone told me it was from some guru type. Is it true? Let’s talk about “energy” and being and you and me for a moment. I don’t write often enough about this kind of stuff these days, though it’s my favourite thing to write about, because, well, the world has more pressing issues. What are we? Why are we here? Who are we, really?
This kind of sentiment —”the energy you put out is your responsibility!” — which you and I both hear expressed ubiquitously — is a kind of convenient mishmash of East meets West. It takes the formative philosophical idea of the East — that there’s “energy”, which is to say Qi, or prana, or so forth — but then combines it with the formative idea of the modern West, which is rational individualism: it’s “yours”, like a car or house or money. Feels a little off already, doesn’t it?
I think that any of us who have been close to the edge of ourselves recognizes there’s indeed such a thing as “energy.” Deep down, when you go beyond the narrow limits of the ego, there’s something that the old philosophers of the East described beautifully, because it’s so accurate to anyone who’s had the experience. A kind of luminous coiling presence, the “snake” of Kundalini, a force that’s pure in intensity as it is impossible to put into words. If you want me to describe it in words, when I was close to death, I’d experience it just that way — as a kind of coil of light, in a place of pure being, stretching into an endless expanse of stars, dust, time beyond, space beyond space.
But that coil of light wasn’t “in” me. It’s more accurate to say that it was something that poured “through” me. But even that’s inaccurate. It’s more accurate to say that it was something that was released, or experienced, or encountered, as “I” started to die. That coil of light that existed in space beyond space, in time beyond time — what was it?
Let’s think about it a little more. It wasn’t pure being — because it was in the “ground” or the “field” of pure being. Yet nor was it “me” — because, as the ancient philosopher who discovered this energy, this “Qi” or “Kundalini” and so forth rightly pointed out — it’s found where “you”, the little you of appetite and desire and money and clothes and so on ends. For the same reason, you feel “connected” when you stand on a beach — there’s nothing of you left suddenly, and somehow everything feels right, not wrong. You’re naked — now what are you?
Immediately, a few things should be crystal clear already. This energy doesn’t “belong” to “me” or “you”, because it only comes into focus when “you” and “I” and are fading. Therefore, it isn’t something that can “belong” to us at all, in an individualistic sense. To say that we must “take responsibility” for the energy of being is as wrong as saying that the summer must take responsibility for the sun. It is a thing that “belongs” to none of us.
This energy is there to teach us a lesson. A great and mighty lesson about the truth of us. A lesson that’s as difficult to learn as it is to teach, one that’s as impossible as it is beautiful, as awesome as it is tiny.
So we struggle our whole lives long with all this. Western psychology tries to treat this energy in us in a hyperrational way — with therapy and so on. Eastern thought tries to treat it in a silent, contemplative way — with meditation and Tai Chi and yoga whatnot. It’s hard to say if the Western approach has been any more successful — just witness how depressed and anxious and angry people are these days.
When it comes to “energy”, the Western approach tries to “contain” it — which is what so much psychotherapy is about, calling it “libido” and “eros”. The Eastern approach, on the other hand, tries to “channel” it, for example in yoga. And yet that approach, while I think can work better, often fails, too. Why do both these approaches fail? Because neither one brings us, first, closer to encountering this “energy” in its pure form — to really experiencing it, knowing it, bonding with it, developing a kind of intimacy with it.
So what happens? It roars through us, tears at us, wails like a banshee. It is saying: “Know me. See me. Feel me. What am I? I am you. Don’t you want to know yourself?” Of course we do. But we’re diehard rationalists — we’re taught to ignore these whispers and screams, which we can so obviously hear — and they only get louder the more they’re ignored.
Now, here’s the funny thing. Nobody doesn’t feel this energy — just stand on a beach for a moment, or stare into a sunset, bang! There it is, coursing through you — we just don’t know what to call it, where to put it, what the hell to do with it. How would we? Nobody teaches us. Nobody much even really acknowledges its reality. We walk around all pretending away the deepest parts of us.
Soon enough, by about midlife or so, most of us are wrecks. Our lives feel strangely disconnected. We feel lonely, even when we’re with our kids and families. Our work seems meaningless. We don’t seem to know our place in this universe at all. We struggle to contain this energy that’s screaming and whistling and exploding through us by now. Maybe we have affairs, maybe we blow up our careers, maybe we throw our life savings away. What are we really searching for? We are desperate by this point — truly desperate — to know who we are. Why we are here. What we are made of.
But we’re still not ready to go inside and face this energy of being itself — really just experience the truth of it for ourselves. It’s funny, isn’t it? We know we are not just bags of chemicals. We feel there is a “soul” or a “presence” in us. But we can’t quite seem to connect with it. Bang! The energy overwhelms us — and that leaves us weary, exhausted, drained, as we try to fight it, repress it, ignore it. Isn’t that how you feel sometimes? I know I used to feel drained every day, even though I was bursting with energy — until I was in something like a walking coma, numb and frozen.
So what should we do about it? What can we do? We can go towards the energy. Really go towards it. Just try to see it, and be seen by it. Just experience it. By “experience” it I don’t mean imagining coils of light in your mind’s eye (which is comforting and relaxing, but.) I mean experiencing it, feeling it, so there is nothing left but that energy. So it is you, and you are it — and that is just the beginning. Just sit there for a while if you want to do it — there’s no great secret, you’re just overloaded from modern life.
As you look “along” the light, or “into” it, depending on your perspective, you will see that this “coil” is something as magnificent and remarkable as beautiful and impossible. “Look” here means “sense”, in the way that we look with the third eye, with the witness, with the observer — not with the physical eyes, of course. So what is this “coil”?
It is the thread that links all selves. It has no ending and no beginning. It just spirals and stretches and twists and dances endlessly in this space beyond space and this time beyond time. Along it lie all selves who ever were or have been. From the tiniest insect to you and me. Selves are just artificial separations in this consciousness, which is the raw material of existence itself, as quantum physics is starting to understand. No “selves” — no “objects” — no “reality” — just pure energy.
When we say two people are in love, it means something like their place along this coil has intersected , touched, and a little explosion has happened. When we say that people die, it means they are letting their “selves” go, and returning to the ground, or the field which this coil lingers in. (You can think of this thread as alaya if you like, if you’re versed in Buddhism, all the karma in all the worlds, flowing like a great river, from self to self, conditioning them into existence.)
I’m sure by now some of you are amused or horrified or just plain bewildered. What the hell is this guy talking about? LOL — it’s OK. Before I died I would have been the first to laugh off stuff like this — pretty viciously, too. But I was desperately unhappy, too. So let’s go a little further still, if you really want to delve into a few untold secrets of being.
Energy, “Qi”, “Kundalini”, etcetera, is the thread of selfhood which we are all traveling along. It is always flowing through us because we are all just traveling along it. In that sense, it is the “cycle of life”, too, that the ancients spoke about. One self goes — bang! The next one is found, had, lived. That doesn’t mean there’s a “sequence”, really, because we are not in a linear space. We are trying to use words to explain an impossible reality, the idea that consciousness, not matter, is what is fundamental, and therefore, there is a place where all consciousness exists in its raw form, too , undivided, unseparated, one, whole. That place is the thread of being, which we sense, but which our “eyes” can never see, because our “eyes”, just like mountains, rivers, or stars, are made of it to begin with.
Now let me try to distill a few practical, simple lessons from all this. The energy you feel coursing through you is not your own. Because consciousness is fundamental, it is the truest thing in you. It is the raw stuff of existence itself. That is why it is always crying out to you to know it.
It doesn’t belong to you any more than the sunlight or the ocean does. The most that you can do is try to honor it, in a way, to do justice to it. That means letting this great thread of life unfurl through you, and that means lifting up and nourishing and nurturing every life that you touch, because from the thread’s point of view, there is no difference between you whatsoever.
To do that, though, you must have the courage and wisdom to gain some intimacy with this “energy”, this great thread of being — which is just primal consciousness, roaring through you. You have to stop the futile work of trying to ignore its pleas and cries. You have to stop pretending it’s not there, while all the time you feel unhappy and lonely for a reason you can’t quite put your finger on. You must understand your exhaustion and weariness come as much from this existential battle you are waging with your true self as they do from capitalism and supremacy and so on. You must go into it, towards it, and really know it, not just as part of you, but you, yourself, as just a tiny, evanescent part of it.
The starting point is to no longer be afraid of the idea that you are only what you’re told you are — just a consumer, a material object, a worker, in short, a brain-body piling up money and stuff — but that you might just be something much greater and truer and wholer. You are this whole thread of being, and this whole thread of being is you. In the end, you learn that — whether it is in the moments before you die, or in the moments long before them. The question is only when. So there’s no need to worry — only to laugh.
I think if you learn this early on, though, a lot of things become a lot clearer. There’s a sense of happiness, a sense of belonging, a sense of peace. That makes love truer, relationships deeper, intimacy warmer, moments more intense. It makes life something a little more mysterious, vast, impossible, tiny, beautiful. You have a higher sense of consciousness — but its better to just say a deeper, simpler, rawer, truer one.
Or maybe the rationalists are right — it’s all just an illusion, a fairy tale fools like me tell. I guess there’s only one way for you to find out.