The Aristotelian Detour

And the Excluded Middle Way

I’ve been writing lately about this experience you can have in a sitting practice of non-separation, and how fundamentally it clashes with our commonsense view of ourselves as being unique individuals who exist separate and apart, distinct from all others, clearly defined and continuous in time. Interesting to me is the boundary between these two contradictory ways of relating to experience, the separate and the non-separate. Perhaps because of my work as a theater artist, I experience this boundary very much like the border of a stage. When we practice meditation for a while, we learn to experience a strong reactive emotion without enacting it—the reactive emotion still does its thing, but it is now at a slight remove from us, exactly as if, again, it were performing on a stage. Across that imaginary line all our fears, hopes and sorrows leap into life, a vivid promenade of fantastic creatures signaling through the flames before subsiding into empty space. We stumble across some trigger—the glance of a stranger that evokes the way our father turned away from us when we were five, say, or perhaps the way the light filtered through the trees one morning year ago in our back garden—and the tent show runs, threatening to carry us away. Back in those shadows upstage, check out my greed in his sharkskin suit as he sharpens his switchblade. In the spotlight to the right, meanwhile, my criminal passion begins its little striptease, and, right over here, ladies and gentlemen, please observe the shivering albino land squid of my shame as it juggles its collection of china plates and inflatable plastic beach balls. Oh, and over there—look fast—the galloping Mongol horde of my anger has gathered to decimate the cities of Europe. Read Full Article