Had a pleasant evening last night with friends. When I go to bed, sometimes I like to listen to a little music, and I'll pick a song that I think I want to hear. Last night it was Patty Griffin's When It Don't Come Easy.

I don't know nothing except change will come

Year after year what we do is undone

Time gets moving from a crawl to a run

I wonder if we're going to ever get home

You're out there walking down a highway

And all of the signs got blown away

Sometimes you wonder if you're walking in the wrong direction


The time in my life when I learned the most, was the time when it felt the hardest. I wrote "felt" instead of "was" because it was a feeling, and "was" is the past tense of the verb "to be," and one of the things I learned was about being.

Being and nothingness.

There are philosophers and scholars who I'm certain would say that I've got this all wrong, and they may be right. I'm an authority on nothing.

But one of the things I stumbled on was the work of a Japanese philosopher, Kitaro Nishida, who tried to integrate eastern and western thought. That's a topic for another day, but it's a place to start if you're so inclined. May not be the best place, but everyone's gotta start someplace.

Anyway, mu, "nothingness" is "the ultimate ground of being." Being only has meaning against non-being, nothingness. Existence, the universe, God, is the negation of nothingness. An affirmation. An act of faith. "Yes."

Act. Action. Being and nothingness in the field of time. Action creates time.

Consciousness apprehends the duality of being and nothingness, apprehends its own existence, and derives its action from each of these "binding opposites" (Heraclitus). The action that proceeds from being proceeds from faith, from an affirmation of being, from the negation of nothingness. The action that proceeds from nothingness proceeds from fear, from a rejection being, to the return to nothingness.

Our consciousness, consciously or unconsciously, most often the latter, contains and proceeds from this same duality. The power of consciousness is the power to choose. It's a very weak power, as much of our behavior is unconscious, habituated, conditioned.

But, as with the power of our muscles, we can increase our power to choose, through effort and learning. Few of us will ever become the Buddha, or Neo, or Jesus. Perhaps none of us. Perhaps no one ever did. But we can become more powerful in choosing which aspect we wish to present to our consciousness, one of faith or the other of fear.

One of the things I learned is that love is faith in action. Anger is fear in action. Lots of things have been said to be opposite of love, the most clever seems to be "indifference." I don't think indifference exists in this context. Indifference, to the extent that it is used with a negative connotation, I think relates to the absence of compassion; and, in any case the opposite of "action." I don't wish to debate this, I just wanted to acknowledge I'm aware of it.

There's also the eros and agape aspect, and in this instance I'm referring to the latter, and that you may assume that I'm seeing "God" in being, in all of being, and others can debate that if they wish as well.

In physics there is velocity, uniform motion, the constant change of position with respect to time, and there is acceleration, the constant change of position with respect to a changing amount of time. Uniform motion is dx/dt, the first derivative, acceleration is dx/dt^2, the second derivative. Acceleration, to change velocity, requires an application of force.

Courage is love in action, the second derivative of faith with respect to time. Hatred, or, perhaps "cruelty," is anger in action, the second derivative of fear with respect to time.

Each requires summoning some effort beyond the uniform.

While consciousness can apprehend the duality of being and nothingness, it often doesn't direct the faculty of attention to it. Attention is a finite resource, intrinsically linked with time. There is some reason to believe that our attention "bandwidth" is variable, though by no means unlimited.

We are social beings, we are all alike and we are all different. We do not exist as atomistic, discrete, disconnected, separate entities. We are all in this together. Siddhartha wasn't compelled to seek enlightenment all by himself, and couldn't have found it without a lot of help along the way. Neo didn't die in The Matrix, because of Trinity's faith in him. Because she loved him.

"Now get up."

Was Neo the hero? Or was Trinity?

Is that even a question?

Anyway, we get to choose.

Faith or fear. From whence your desire?

As always, I'm an authority on nothing. I make all this shit up. You're very strongly encouraged to do your own thinking. It's harder than it sounds, I know.

But if you break down

I'll drive out and find you

If you forget my love

I'll try to remind you

And stay by you

When it don't come easy

When it don't come easy

Originally posted at Notes From the Underground 05:57 Saturday, 15 April 2023