23. Perspective, Part II

Perfect Brilliant StillnessDavid Carse


Get in an airplane in Oklahoma. Fly straight south. What do you fly over? If you answer ‘Texas,’ I have news for you. There is no such thing as ‘Texas.’ If you look down while flying south, you will not see any such thing as Texas. You will see what is there: arid desert, farm land, mountains, rivers, roads, cities. Texas is only an idea; it exists only as an agreed-upon conceptual construct. There is nothing ‘real’ about the border between Texas and Oklahoma, and you will not see it if you fly over it. The delineation, the distinction, the decision to call this bit of land Texas and a few feet over here to call it Oklahoma, exists only in the mind, as a thought construct. The separation into discreet separate entities is a layer added in thought only. This distinction, this naming, this separation, these ‘things’ as separate entities, do not exist except as ideas.

‘You’ and ‘me’ are ‘Texas.’

Next time you go to a movie, stop when you leave the theater and think about what you have just seen. When you start to describe the movie, I would ask you to stop. The movie may be what you saw, but it is not what was there. You were in the movie theater for some two hours, and for almost the entire time you were staring steadily at the screen in the front of the theater; yet if I asked you to describe that screen to me, you might look at me blankly. Because of the beams of colored light that were projected at the screen the entire time, you did not see the screen, even though it was there and you were looking at it. There were no ‘real’ people or landscapes or events up there on the screen, although you probably got caught up in the story and the emotion of the movie as if it were real; that’s what you go to movies for, and if you spent any time during the movie thinking, ‘this isn’t real,’ it probably wasn’t a very good movie. The projection of light onto the screen caused the appearance of people and places and events that looked real and evoked mental and emotional responses in you; but all the time you never saw the screen, which is what you were actually staring at for two hours and without which the projected light would not have fallen on anything and you would not have been able to see the movie either.

‘You’ and ‘me’ are the movie.

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