Photo by Jason Briscoe on Unsplash

There’s No Escape from Freedom

Last night, as I got into bed, Cindy said, “there’s something going on with my Boo Boo!” I was struggling again with reconciling what seems to be happening in my experience with what other people tell me is, or should be, happening. I keep coming back to this dynamic of doubting my own experience and letting other people tell me what’s happening for me; it seems to be at the core of my suffering as a human.

I’ve been told several times that I’m a nihilist. So last night I read the Wikipedia definition of nihilism, and it definitely doesn’t resonate with me. I have no interest in complex philosophies like that. One branch of it even denies reality; I’m pretty sure I don’t deny reality.

I don’t even know what “reputedly meaningful aspects of life” means. Wild guess here: do they mean friends and family? I love having friends and family. Maybe I’m becoming cognitively challenged; even the definition of nihilism doesn’t make any sense to me; it seems totally abstract and meaningless in itself.

Most of the time, I seem to be going about my day in a state of relatively calm contentment. Now and then there is a sudden experience that I would label as discontent. It’s usually associated with a thought about how something in a different place or time should be different. For example, yesterday I suddenly (again) realized that the work I was doing was not in alignment with what I thought I should be doing.

When a feeling of discontent like that occurs, thoughts immediately arise about how to fix the apparent problem. In the past, I would have fueled those thoughts and constructed a complex imaginary world in which I was somehow creating a different reality.

What seems to happen now is that I immediately notice that I’m trying to escape from what is happening. There are sensations in the body, there are thoughts, and there is what is going on around me. I know that this is all there is. The future is just a hollow concept for me now. I know that fulfillment cannot come in the future because there is no real future. That’s not a philosophical concept; it’s plain as day.

When what seems to be happening reconfigures to be what we think of as the future, it will still be what is happening. There is no escape from this what-is-happening into another what-is-happening; that’s crystal clear to me. So I just sit with it. I’m not brave; there’s nothing else I could do. It’s like the scene with the mouth-zipping in Austin Powers, where Dr Evil keeps saying, “zip!” I habitually keep thinking that I can escape but then immediately realize that there is nowhere to escape to.

So even though most of the time it’s clear (when examined) there there is not a separate individual here, and there is simply a harmonious flow, sometimes there seems to be a struggle with reality. At those times, it feels like I’m trapped in a kind of limbo. In that limbo there is no choice, no way out, no escape for the me; and that’s just how it is.

I can’t construct an escape plan because there’s nothing to construct it out of. All the tools I would have used have been revealed to be completely illusory. I was dreaming that I could get somewhere else. I used to have a philosophy that enabled me to keep fooling myself. Now I don’t have a philosophy at all. All I have to work with is what is happening. It’s as if all these concepts that I used to think pointed to concrete things have just turned to dust and fallen from my hands.

It’s kind of an awkward situation, and I don’t know when or if it will ever resolve. As soon as I start thinking about this limbo going away, I realize that there is no escape from that either. If the limbo is happening then that’s what is happening.

I also know that this is freedom because, when I examine it, it’s clear that what is happening is the absolute, and it’s clear that the absolute is all there is. The absolute is appearing like this as perfect freedom.

An engineer-psychologist focused on machine intelligence. I write from my own experience to support others in living more fulfilling lives |

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