Participation And The Self

Picture by Gregory Colbert
Picture by Gregory Colbert

I have been saying that we come from the One, from Unity. By that I mean that the One, the unity, is prior to diversity. The unity we emerge from does not have a historic beginning; it didn’t Big Bang into existence. That is why when I say we come from unity I also highlight the fact that we are not going there, and neither are we returning to the One; it is not to be reached, attained through some kind of enlightenment, practice or path[i]. This One is never “lost,” it shows up as participation; all beings and things participate in the whole of everything everywhere, including all beings anywhere in the whole/all.

The participatory process goes on all of the time, for most phenomena and beings as receiving > transforming > giving, which also means that there really is neither matter nor spirit but rather an endless diversity of patterns of participation in continually changing constellations.[ii] These patterns can span several realms – for us those are the sensory, feeling/energy, cultural, and intellectual-conceptual realms[iii]; each one of us having a unique developmental fingerprint of relative clarity in these realms. We’re all different and unique, fundamentally, and as such we participate in all realities all of the time. We’re never not participating.

All this has made it utterly clear to me that any move towards unifying individuals is a power-move, as it is always also attempting to strengthen the position of some humanimals over others. A power-move, because any deliberate move towards unification is always also exclusionary; at the very least it excludes those that do not wish to be unified, maybe because they want to be independent or because they have different views. There’s nothing bad about power-moves like this, really; the move is in synch with what evolution does on a much larger scale.

Picture by Gregory Colbert
Picture by Gregory Colbert

Going for unification always also adds a new differentiation: it creates another us and them, a new difference and maybe even incommensurability. Take any social group you care to think of: if some of the differences “flare up”, and a serious attempt at unification fails, which is bound to happen over time, the group splits apart and we now have at least 2 groups. So power-moves towards unification create diversification, and that is how they – in synch with evolution – add to the growing complexity of ways of living, and of life.

Within ourselves we can see the power-move as the attempt to unify the psyche, the ego being the “personification” of that move. If, on the other hand, we simply accept the diversity inside our brain, mind, soul, spirit[iv], the whole “ego-problem” disappears; it’s not relevant anymore. Now the ego is just one of the psyche’s participants, and obviously at its very best when serving the individual. Grabbing power over an individual, pretending to be the one that unifies the whole person, the whole you, pretending to be the master and as such trying to make all other selves internally, and often also externally, serve this self-ego… that is the disease that has befallen most of humanity.

When I started to deeply see and accept the participatory nature of all existence a deep and lucid peace among the “inhabitants of my psyche” emerged, among the ego and all the other selves or sub-personalities that share this body and for a time or a season believe, “This is me.” And once this peace and lucidity stabilizes to some extent you will rarely find yourself in opposition to unfolding reality, even if at times you may work for a radical change of the way realities habitually unfold nowadays. And you start to discern ways and means how to interact generatively with all individuals, voices, and beings as participators in this mystery in which we’re all embedded. [v]



Picture by Gregory Colbert
Picture by Gregory Colbert


[i] And I’m not speaking about the experience of oneness. That experience is beautiful and deep, and may be useful as a tool of personal verification (although it appears that this experience can be easily replicated by shutting down that region in our brain that continually situates us in 3-D space, tells us where our skin ends and “the world” begins). Please do not confuse the experience of oneness with the unity, or the One, I am speaking about here.

[ii] I am sure that the body, the embryo or the impregnated egg does not get possessed by some disembodied entity, soul or spirit but rather that all beings participate in the whole of all realities to which the domains of memories of past lives, for instance, and so endlessly on also belong; they are not intrinsically other that the so called physical realities.

[iii] What we call physical reality, matter, and what Henry Corbin termed “Mundus Imaginalis”, including the mystical and “psi”-realities as well, is another way to look at these realms.

[iv] And once we truly see that there never is anything in psyche that does not participate in our wholeness as an individual this is almost inescapable.

[v] When first I wrote about this on the roof at Riad Anayela in Marrakesh I added: Ah, the profound and joyful peace that comes from contemplating this! I’ll stay. Here. Where one self hands over the reigns to another self gracefully. Where the deep contraction of a self gives way to the expanse of selves. Where no rule nor ruler is required. Where the deep relaxation that that comes with all this “holds what formerly was known as “I” together with nothing, nothing whatsoever.” Because I’m already home here; we all are…

Participation – The Bare Bones

Picture by Moebius
Picture by Moebius

Those that have been following my shenanigans may have noticed that my view on reality has turned. I’ll abbreviate the conclusions here in 4 points, and leave explanations to some future post:

  • We are “coming from” the One, from unity; we’re not going towards it
  • Every being and thing, all moves towards greater diversity and complexity; the consequence for humans beings: we’re becoming more and more individuated and unique, and different
  • The prior unity shows up as participation; every being and thing participates in reality
  • The ‘new’ spirituality of the 21st century is conscious, or rather lucid participation, meaning that one is aware of participating (rather than, for instance enacting a ‘neutral observer’ or witness-consciousness) with every movement, however transcendent that movement may be…
  • So participation, in the way I’ve started to understand it, is an expression of the prior unity across all diversity, and it seems like it’s basic process in living beings is one of receiving > transforming > giving.

When lucidly participating in reality it seems there is no more category that would tell you how to measure matters across any kind of good-bad spectrum or true-false gradient. All matters of concern, and even those of no concern to us, are rather constellated in patterns of participation. If a choice happens within that frame it is one of fitness, “How well does this fit with what we’re constellating here, the carpet I am weaving, the poem I’m writing, the arrangement that I’m in favor of? How well does this strengthen the constellation’s connective sinews, their flexibility and strength to hold this together in the space I prefer?”

There are really no rules in lucid participation; there are just patterns and constellations, which means that the usual moral canon doesn’t work. They’re not adequate to this understanding.  What is generative needs to be determined, if indeed it does, every moment afresh. What gives other beings and things greater degrees of freedom needs to be discovered anew every single time.