A philosophy of contemplative science can easily become a dense entanglement of language and concepts whereas a poetry of contemplative science can invite fresh ways of seeing. In this prose/verse I try to illumine some of my thinking about cognition and knowing. May the timbre of these thoughts quicken the edges and membranes we share.
Buddhists speak of ‘Mirror-like Wisdom’.
Biologists speak of autopoiesis.
Christ said that if he were to remain silent
the very stones would declare his presence.
Sheer existence itself is a form of speaking.
Speaking is relationship;
dynamically interacting participant/components in the act of producing the very components that comprise the integrated organisation producing those components
and so on . . .
Each relatively autonomous living system,
is a dancing of cognition in the act of making itself, making a world.
Selfing/knowing appears as an edge,
a border place, a boundary, a membrane,
a space of distinction between this and that.
A distinction with preference.
A distinction with value.
A particular community responding to other.
Membranes that close in on themselves define interiors and exteriors.
This is a molecular domain,
a form of cognition,
a dancing of dancings of knowing.
Eukaryotic cells have exterior membranes but
their interiors are filled with membrane enclosed spaces.
Each enclosed space is itself a world of collaborative activity.
Worlds interpenetrating worlds without obstruction.
Knowings of knowings, within knowings.
Inside my skin belongs to me. It is very personal and I guard it carefully. Outside my skin is other. It doesn’t feel so personal. The entire world of experience that I am, arises as an evolving field of integrated knowings. Each one of us calls this by the same name – “my mind”. Strangely, I not only ‘have’ a mind but I appear ‘in’ my mind, as too does the entire world. Outside my knowing is unknowable. Yet the unknowable knowings that are you, are appearing in my knowing, and so the outside unknowable is thriving inside my mind. Inner can’t exist without outer and outer can’t exist without inner. The world exists within me while simultaneously I exist within the world. And so, where does this leave us? inside? outside? both? neither? This is a classic Madhyamika four faced conundrum, a philosopher’s maze and a madman’s nightmare.
Pause with me for a moment. Feeling the rhythms of your breathing, embrace the full aliveness that you are. We move. We respond to the worlds within and around. We are the respondings of worlds within and around, and this responsiveness is the first sign of our aliveness. We reach out while shifting within, this internal shifting shaping the ways we are reaching out. We are breathing, in a breathing world. Such knowings! Such breathings! Such feelings and formings, seemingly durable things, ephemerally solid in space – this space – this particular space of knowing which is you,reading these words and thinking these thoughts!
We live as edges – living edges –
places of meeting and merging and mingling:
you, me, him, her – each a hedgerow, a linear wilderness of becomings,
the abandoned ignored places where everything happens.
Caterpillars and nesting birds, ants and hedgehogs and copulating worms,
We exist as communities of edging,
Places where this and that meet,
Transient parliaments of cognition
Lives within lives
All doing it together
Baby worlds learning to speak
The world around us is an ecosystem.
This is common public knowledge.
But the worlds within the enclosure of self
are also ecosystems.
This is rarely recognised or appreciated.
Coming to love the exterior world is widely praised.
How noble. How glorious. How good!
Coming to love the interior of the world is hardly thought of.
And yet my beingness is the collective conversation of these cusps.
Distinct becomings in heartfelt conversation
And me, the arising conversation posing as a monologue,
Such a mystery
This unexpected waking up
We stretch our arms and yawn a great releasing sigh.
Getting out of bed, we greet the day of the only life we have.
Getting out of the bed of unexamined assumption,
we greet in freshness
This quiet and natural and unspectacular impossibility.
Saying good morning to Mary
Two fresh universes flowing in and through each other
Gatherings of worlds
These birthings of newness
All of me present, with and for and in and through, all of you.
Edges on the edge.
and ever closer too.