My dreams were so vivid last night. I can still taste them a little, aromas linger. Lovers just out of reach, cats chasing mice, sultry intrigue, neon lights, blade runner rain. These are the stories I now tell myself about my dreams, about why I awoke with lust and longing.
For what am I but a nebula of stories that follow a name or a number? I narrate and curate the ones I can. I could spend my life defending, denying, corroborating, or embellishing, polishing, pruning, preening, feeding, watering down, and fleshing out my stable of stories. I can even write new ones. But these are only novel permutations and recombinations of previous experiences, memories remixed, chopped and screwed, distilled and decanted.
But I am more than stories, as are you, I suspect. I am consciousness embodied in a single point of awareness endowed with attention to focus and intent to set. I was a bottle of love notes bobbing in a sea of illusion. And then I hit bottom, and smashed upon and through the glass floor to find that down is because of up, and future is because of past and present. The only place I've ever been is here; the only time I've known is now. Today is the only day I have lived.
If we allow our thoughts, the past, the present and the future ones, to link up in a series, we put ourself under restraint. On the other hand, if we let our mind attach to nothing at all times and towards all things we gain emancipation. — Tan Ching, via Alan Watts
These are not riddles. These are simple truths I was taught to hide from. How fucked is that!? Most of my life I have operated on the promise of a brighter tomorrow. Of redemption or salvation. Of progress. Of the pursuit of happiness. Fictions! Tomorrow never comes!
Until this year I walked around thinking that my actions cause effects. They call it causality, consequence. This is a pillar of logic. And it's made up. It's not real. I think you'll agree that the earth is not flat, but will you consider that causality itself is bunk and unproven. Sounds crazy I know, but let's do an experiment.
Slap yourself in the face.
What do you feel? Sparks? Stinging needles? Warmth rush to your cheek?
Did your slap cause these feelings?
Try it again. This time do not slap yourself in the face.
Now what do you feel?
You can take the difference of these facial sensation states and then model for yourself what a post-slap face feels like. Then you can deduce that the slap caused that post-slap state of face. Or...
Or you can remove causality from your model of reality.
Without causality you experience a moment where you slap your face, and a moment where your face stings and grows warm. If you experience them in succession, ask if you can take them out of succession. You cannot. What follows is not necessarily the result of the prior. And because you cannot change the priority in that succession of experiences, you cannot know that one caused the other. Did that get confusing?
The gist is that we cannot relive a moment or the one before it, so we cannot know if one moment has led to another. The only test for causality would be a perfect replay.
Put another way, you cannot have those moments back to do another way. All you empirically know is that you slapped your face and then it felt some kind of way. You can't go back and not slap your face to see if it still would feel that kind of way in that moment. We can't uncrash the car into the bulldozer and find out if that's what left us broken and mangled and blissfully alive while our friends are barbecuing in the wreckage. We just are here and now in this changing condition, which is always the case.
In light of the unprovability, and even unfalsifiability as Karl Popper might cast it, of causality, our ignorance becomes truly profound. What we think we know has no basis for belief. We started out ignorant af, and we haven't changed all that much. We can choose to believe the stories we are told. We can adopt the models of reality we encounter. We can accept that the events of the present moment result from events in past moments, and assume that future events will unfold according to the effects of our actions now. Or we can not do that.
We can experience reality without causality, without blame or praise, without accounting and projection. We can take that big carrot out of the sky and have a carrot feast in the streets. From this non-causal perspective, there's nothing to strive toward. The future is never going to arrive. We are saved! This is redemption. This is it!