i am curious how you might explain further the idea that knowing the name of my cat captures the essence of our different viewpoints.
I thought I’d address my friends comment here, just to do it justice.
Let me begin by a story that supposedly Jeff Foster tells:
He was out walking with his mother when she said, “Oh, what a beautiful tree.” In reply he launched into a long explanation of “There is no tree!”
A year later, he realized his response had been somewhat ridiculous. Of course, there was a tree to be enjoyed while on a walk.
Having realized there is no-self, how long and how loudly do you want to keep beating that drum?
I think you and I differ on this point.
To me too much drum beating or “fierce freedom” risks inherent contradiction and outright fundamentalism just as surely as a right-to-lifer shooting a doctor does.
And how does my asking for the name of your cat address our different perspectives?
It too centers of the emphasis we place upon the experience of no-self.
I have no idea what logic initially led me to make that statement regarding the name of your cat. Memory is gone.
But, while struggling to recall my thinking, this image filled my mind:
It was a curious situation to be asked for a stream of logic and only come up with an image. But, with time I realized that our perspectives lay rooted in the differences between the two.
Now, I can say this:
When I hear, “There were three cats: roach, spider, cricket,” I notice that my heart goes, Ahhh. I draw closer and pay attention. And when I discover, “Roach died,” again I feel my heart.
In knowing something as simple as a name a whole story springs up and with that story comes love.
I don’t want to miss that, even at the risk of being lost or hurt by what unfolds.
Now, I grant you “roach” has nothing whatsoever actually to do with ultimate truth.
And perhaps its only due to my conditioning it has an effect upon me. But, rather than jump, “Oh God, a story! Stories can’t be true.” I am happy to enjoy the wave of love.
Knowing that the tree is an illusion, why not go on and enjoy it?
You could say that this is my perspective. And it struck me that in all of our discussion of the profound experience you had surrounding the death of roach, you never named her (or him - I still don’t know that detail). And it struck me as very curious that you felt no need for naming.
It was always, “The cat died.”
It sounds almost like Joe Friday wanting “just the facts ma’am.” And Joe will get the job done.
He just proceeds from a different perspective – that of the intellect, that serially logical gray line.
The intellect inquires into the nature of the self and discovers there is no-self to be found.
It realizes the danger and allure inherent in a flowery story. It is only logical to reduce the risk of slipping back into a self, back into illusion - so shave the story back “to just the facts.”
But, “The cat died,” is just as much a story as “Roach died.”
In one case intellect, and likely ego, does a cutting back? In the second case heart, and likely ego, surrenders into love.
To me our perspectives appear either predominantly intellect or heart centered. The heart would like a name, simply for the warmth. The intellect feels no need or even prefers the nameless.
That said, I would also emphasize that it’s probably much more accurate to say, one steps forward from the left foot while the other begins with the right. You obviously are learning deeply about love. And I can use my head. Heart and mind do work together, just as surely as left and right foot do… but still, there seems to be a preference of footing.
So, to end this in the spirit of merging heart and intellect, I’d like to share this video.
I never knew that the idea of love was brought to the west by the Sufis. And I love the concluding line:
this is the shoreless sea;
here swimming ends
always in drowning