Illusions We Live – Part I – Today’s column references a piece of art called “Illusory cube” acrylic on fibreboard by Monika Buch (1983). It’s from a book entitled “Optical Illusions” by Bruno Ernst (aka Hans de Rijk), a Dutch mathematician, sculptor, and author. Find “Illusory Cube” in today’s paper and see whether it bends your mind as it does most viewers.
In the painting, three large bars, themselves each composed of 25 small bars, form a ‘concave cube.’ Or is it something else?
After a few seconds, the image inverts into a convex cube.
Some people see the convex image first. Perhaps some people never see both images.
The eye switches back and forth, first, noticing how the thinner bars are transformed into transparent streaks, like shafts of colored light, illuminating the cube from three sides. Enjoy flipping it back and forth in your mind. Like a visual Fidget Spinner.
I hope Monika Buch’s art captivates the reader’s eye just as it does mine. It messes with our certitude about what is real, and advances one of this column’s recurrent themes: That the secret theater of our individuated consciousness, as ego, is identical with the mind’s choices of metaphors.
And these metaphors often turn out to be contradictory, even illogical when placed side by side for our examination. On the one hand, for instance, we make our plans assuming that tomorrow will be more or less like yesterday. Food, energy, communications, medicines – you name it – will always be available to fuel the pursuit of our private happiness.
FEMA says we’ve got maybe three days of food (and everything else) in the just-in-time pipeline. The next assault on our sanity will likely begin with oil-fracking in the Ozarks.
Another recurrent theme is that all the differences in the outside world are the result of our mental modifications. If so, then the question rises as to where and how does the inwardness of our subjective experience derive from mere matter?
And why do we deeply connect to other species – even keep them as pets in our homes – and silently empathize with their hearts, intentions and feelings?
Well, mind-to-mind reciprocity is a universal and obvious feature of life. And many, many souls transcend their egos through pure love for the Witness of All. Thereby, they say, we can enjoy our true nature, can see the One Light shining throughout the drama linking all life’s names and forms.
So why does our insane war on life continue?
Well, for one thing, knowledge is a temptation that man will never fail to abuse. In our system, knowledge is not independently sourced from (and as) life’s holoweb, but is deemed the “intellectual property” of whoever discovers it first. Knowledge is something to be newly invented by law; it exists solely to be attached to the personal desires and motives of those involved.
Christians, on the other hand, call God “all-knowing.” Hindus call this all-pervading intelligence the Purusha, or supreme soul. In all religious traditions in fact, “He” (as it were), is called Knowledge itself.
How can we visualize this in more practical terms?
If you imagine a circle, the inner space is finite and the outer is infinite. If you accept the existence of an inner space with limited knowledge, automatically you have to accept an infinite space with infinite knowledge. Without infinite there can be no finite. The thought of one implies the other.
[Ed. Note: Read that paragraph again. Seriously.]
We feel that our minds and knowledge are limited and finite. So, there must be a source of infinite knowledge beyond that. But who owns this source?
The itch to possess temporal things is conflated with the independence of both knowledge and time. It’s the primary illusion that, once installed through linguistic trance, sustains organized authority.
How are we going to find peace with nature? I like this quote from the Gospel of Thomas:
“Jesus said: If your leaders tell you, ‘See, the kingdom is in heaven’ then the birds of heaven will be before you. If they tell you, ‘It is in the sea,’ then the fish will be before you. But the kingdom is inside you and outside you. When you know yourselves you will be known; and you will know that you are children of the living father. But if you do not know yourselves, you live in poverty and you are poverty.”
Like the water the fish are swimming in but can’t see, we are blind to our own programming. In ordinary dualistic consciousness we cannot know this unity state, this kingdom of heaven, however much we might yearn for it. That’s because our mind collapses everything into a translation of our personal history, into the primacy of ‘I, Me. and Mine.’
It will take a whole lot of locally produced loaves and fishes to keep things going if the trucks stop rolling.
Let’s begin thinking bigger at the scale of sustaining our whole watershed communities. The restoration of simple trust, and thereby the control of, our government, will be the intended product.
But how can we do it? The Farm Resettlement Congress offers bioregionalism as a watershed-bounded, holistic model of economic decentralization as the most likely way to preserve the Ozark heritage. It is an open-source template that prioritizes health and well-being in rural Americana.
Balance means to go beyond what we’ve been willing to look at so far, means illuminating the cube of our “certain truths” from new angles. This is the key to bringing back our young people from the urban wilderness and reconnecting families with the land. The slogan, “Permaculture Nation in Our Generation” is doing just this by sending a signal in shorthand: “Bring me a higher love!”