Friday, August 28, 2009

The Spider of Stored Appearances: UPDATED

"Last night I saw upon the stair A little man who wasn't there He wasn't there again today Oh, how I wish he'd go away."

That is a verse from an old "big band" novelty song, circa 1939. I am using it to introduce the idea that there is no reason to do monkey business with stored appearances.

Just for the sake of example, lets pretend that once upon a time, you dreamed that somebody came clump, clump, clumping up the stairs to your bedroom and did you an injury. Notions of "who," or "why" just don't matter. Maybe it was somebody you knew. Maybe it was the bogeyman. Maybe you were secretly in love with the bogeyman and wished he would come. Maybe you were were just fascinated with bogeymen in general. The habitual conditions that produce this sort of result are, I think, a cardinal marker of cause and effect -- but I digress.

You tell yourself this dream is so frightening. So frightening that, ever after, you put a gate on the stairs to your bedroom. You shiver and cling to this fear like a scary lover. You rationalize this in various ways, maybe saying you want to keep pets or kids at bay, but the reality is, you like to set your little stage in ways that are comfortable for your favorite scary lover dream.

Are you awake or aren't you?

The time, the body, and the circumstance no longer exist. This is to say that the body which was injured in the dream no longer exists, the apparent attack itself no longer exists, and the apparent attacker no longer exists. The dark at the top of the stairs is itself likewise transient and insubstantial.

Now, you may wish to say, "Well... the body which was attacked still exists, because here I am," but that is not precisely accurate. The body which was attacked may with equal validity only be claimed as extant for the precise moment of the attack. We may also say that was the younger body, whereas now there is the older body.

What is happening is that the stored appearances are being compared to arising play with egocentric specificity. You have an agenda so to speak. Maybe you still love the bogeyman. You love this dream of the bogeyman so much because it still makes you shiver and feel "special." It is your way of staying connected. You keep seeing the little man upon the stair... the little man who wasn't there... and you wish he'd go away?

That is ridiculous.

Do you lie awake at night, waiting for the gate to open? Do you fantasize that you will hear it when it opens? Is the gate there to "protect" you, or is it the door to a trap? This is just a flimsy gate, with a flimsy latch. A big, strong bogeyman can hop right over that gate.

So, the gate must be the door to a trap: a strand in the web you weave with your stage decorations.

You, the spider at the center of your delusions, trapped by nothing more than your own web of stored appearances.

UPDATED: Nowhere, in the above post, do we single anybody out -- but, in at least one case, "you're so vain, you thought this blog was about you." Nowhere, in the above post, do we get gender-specific. We refer to the "bogeyman," or the "man upon the stair," but we submit that is not gender-specific anymore than use of the word "mankind" is gender specific. It is just imagery associated with horror films -- scary movies. Yet, some people -- people who are firmly entrenched in spinning webs of stored appearances -- believed this post was about assaults on women. It is not. This post is about stored appearances. This post specifically uses images and icons to make the very point -- apparently rather successfully -- that stored appearances belong to you. Finally -- and here is the interesting part -- this post was written by a woman. When the spiders came piling in, it was automatically assumed that this was written by a man. Here is what one spinning spider looked like:

Quite a work of fiction, isn't it? Lets deconstruct it together, shall we? All of a sudden we have (1) a man, (2) a woman, (3) an opinion about the man, (4) an opinion about the woman, (5) a history about the man, (6) a history about the woman, (7) aggression, (8) controversy, (9) a "them versus us" campaign... the list really goes on and on, doesn't it? And to top it all? This was an anonymous post.

The operations of ego, sustaining bewilderment in samsara, are legion are they not?

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