Thursday, January 3, 2013

The Urge To Merge

Scott Bradley


I have lifted the words of this title from Wu (The Butterfly as Companion) but do not intend to address them in the context of his usage; mostly, I just like their ring. Like so many phrases or words I offer here they sometimes seem sufficient in themselves to provoke (or evoke, as Wu would say) thought without my going on about them. These posts are, after all, intended to make you think. (Just as they are intended to make me think by making myself write them). These words are such words, I believe — so why not forego my blabber and think on them yourself (or not)?

We do indeed have an urge to merge in many ways (in love, in friendship, in sex, metaphysically). One happy reality regarding this urge is that it will most certainly be fulfilled, albeit not necessarily as we might wish — in death, not probably as gods of our own planets, as the Mormon mythology has it, but, more probably, in extinction. Still, we are in no position to complain. And that being the case, we are in a position to be thankful for things as they are.

It may be that our ultimate merging in death is equivalent to extinction, but that is not the case in life. Here and now, in life, our urge to merge finds compromise in sub-mergence. We merge as discrete individuals and experience something of mergence on the one hand, while retaining our individuality on the other. Wu (I-self) loses wo (me-self). The result is the experience (because experienced by "I") of sub-merging. "Me" is the self's "other" ["my counterpart", as some translators have it], which when transcended, allows that all other "others" likewise be transcended. At least, this is the theory. (If it happens for me, I'll let you know.)

Mergence may be, and sub-mergence is, a two-way street. If I become all things, then all things also become me. In losing the egoic-self (I-me), we gain all that is. As cool as this may be as a hypothetical reality, however, it is more the practical implications of the possibility to which I am drawn here. This is because, though the actual sub-mergence may be merely hypothetical, the implications can nonetheless be brought on board here and now.

I say "brought on board" meaningfully. It means an inclusiveness that is truly inclusive; it means that if I have an enemy, for example, that enemy can be understood as me. If someone accuses me of a failing, and I take that to heart, either in acceptance or rejection, I have already brought them on board, without necessarily realizing it. What sub-mergence allows is that I not only realize that this person is inside me and thus a part of me, but also that I affirm and embrace their presence there; he is me; his criticism is my criticism; his issues are my issues. And despite all the self-criticism (echoed in me as the criticism by this 'other') that may swirl about within me, there is also that fundamental self-affirmation which is life, and this now applies to the 'other' within me as well. Thus is the 'other' affirmed as I affirm myself.

Now you might wish you'd foregone my blabber! But then I have in any case at least fulfilled half my purpose — I have taught myself something and helped myself to remember it.

You can check out Scott's other miscellaneous writings here.

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