This is a statement quite often used in our culture…
As much as the majority of human beings love their routines and find a feeling of safety in predictability, one of the most precious gifts I have received and will share with you now is the teachings on groundlessness; that there is no ‘solid ground’ to find in life anywhere we look or within anything we experience. Nothing ever stays the same. Everything we see as solid is by its own nature perpetually in a state of change, fluctuation and movement, meaning anything we see as having roots in truth one moment will have been altered (even if only slightly) a moment later, making any past idea about it false. You, in fact, have changed at a molecular level since you began reading this, though you undoubtedly look and feel the same.
Musician Frank Zappa is famous for saying
“Without deviation from the norm, progress is not possible”
which in the context of this concept is another way of saying ‘without change, you or I wouldn’t exist.’ So why are we so propelled to seek solid ground in life? What’s so scary about being without ground and accepting change into our lives?
Addressing Perception of Change by Address the Ego of ‘Self’
If you are like me, up until now you have largely relied on your autopilot navigation system, the five sense perceptions, to deliver and register truth. Even those who were brought up in faith-based households still largely rely on what can be touched, smelled, tasted, heard, and seen as being the go-to of what we would feel most comfortable describing to a wide audience as being true or real. So I’m especially never surprised when these concepts are met with strong resistance by those who are just coming out of years of instability produced by addiction or recently removed from a life seemingly plagued by one traumatic event after another (which almost always came without warning). Yet my former roots as both an addict and someone who was diagnosed with PTSD in my adult life have not limited my pliability toward these concepts, but have contrarily created conditions that have made me a more suitable candidate to work with them, embrace and be soothed by them, and use them as a new default lens by which to view the world.
We are always seeking ground in this life, always looking to define ourselves and strengthen our personalities. Yet this sense of ‘self’ is inherently not a solid thing at all, but a collection of ideas we have cobbled together over time from our varying environments and the many influences contained within. This is largely the work of the default mode network found in the human mind which is currently being referred to by some scientists as the ‘address of the ego’. Without some level of mindfulness and scrutiny, the default mode network will ‘run the show’ so to speak, and the ‘show’ here is merely a presentation of past events and experiences, displaying themselves as a personality which is being delivered through what perceivably is a solid human form. Could you find these events or this personality in a microscope or touch it with your finger? Of course not, yet it appears to us as a something solid, a person we care for or cannot stand. How’s that for groundlessness?
Where Science and Spirituality Meet: Accepting Change
Science and spirituality thus far could be likened to dogs who have been conditioned for hundreds of years by their masters to fight each other as a means of proving their dominance as the letter of truth. But now we find ourselves in a fortunate time where these two kinds of dogs have dropped the ferocious act and are becoming extremely curious of each other, due to an ever-increasing awareness that they are both in fact dogs, which means if you trace it back far enough, there must be a place where the two varieties meet as one. The dogs of science and spirituality find themselves in a ‘sniffing each other’s butts’ phase, and occasionally, this even results in a highly gratifying dry hump, figuratively speaking.
Religion has long adorned humanity with a wide variety of ideas of the various dimensions said to be awaiting us in the afterlife. Spiritual people (and I find the need to make a distinction between the two) are mostly open to the possibility of life after death being a strong possibility, though not in terms as clearly defined by religious beliefs. And though the scientific community has largely worked fervently to disprove such notions as an afterlife, science has proven something that leans toward long practiced spiritual beliefs; that this material world of ours is in truth an elaborate illusion of psychedelic proportions. Science has proven definitively that what human beings refer to as ‘matter’ are actually gigantic bundles of energy vibrating at such a high frequency that they appear to the limited perceptibility of the senses as a something we can touch or experience as form. And furthermore, science states that energy (the source of matter) cannot be created nor destroyed. These two attributes sound a lot like a widely adopted, non-religious spiritualist conception of God; creative formless intelligence that has always been and always will be. So if human beings are comprised of matter, which is energy, and energy cannot be created nor destroyed, doesn’t this mean that what we have always referred to as death is not a death at all, but our lives simply becoming something else? Could this be another spirit and science doggy dry hump in the making?
Viewing Groundlessness as Openness
In closing, I feel I should share my favorite aspect of groundlessness, which is that it leans toward openness. Groundlessness is inherently non-fundamentalist, it is fluid and never still. It leans heavy on the idea that there are never any true stories, that our experiences are subjective and our lives purely relative. What appears as solid is comprised of millions upon millions of things happening all at once, from the swirling of atoms to the collections of thoughts, feelings and experiences that come together all at once to create an identifiable Jaymee Carpenter among billions of other human beings on this planet. Seeing this life as not solid also creates an attitude of reverence toward life itself, a gratitude for each day spent alive to experience it all, leading toward the inevitability of decay and, not death, but the energy of our lives becoming something unknowable.
So seeing life this way is not chaos. Chaos in my mind is believing in a false reality, trying to claim it as real and have everyone behave the way we would like them to. It’s actually deeply calming to be so much closer to the reality of nature.
So I invite you to begin working with these concepts and take a front row seat to your own inner revolution, which (as a by-product) has created more confidence within me, inevitably allowed me to have more compassion and forgiveness toward others, and deepened my respect for the trillions upon trillions of elements that create the phenomena of everyday experience. The only thing you have to lose is something that was never there to begin with… solid ground!