Previously in the Premiseless Imperative Series:
Kimetikos I: Foundations
Kimetikos II: Theory
Kimetikos III: Practice
Anagoge I: If You Want to be Saved, Admit That You’re A Sinner
Anagoge II: Achtung, Babies!
Anagoge III: Shooting For the Existential Buzz
Anagoge IV: The Perfect Home in Just an Hour
“Daisies are like sunshine to the ground.”
– Drew Barrymore
You know all that stuff you’ve heard about getting “grounded”? How you have to find “inner peace”? Some meditation systems even ask you to visualize your “root” extending below the ground during sessions. There’s a lot of stuff about middle pillars lining up, stuff about creating sacred space, stuff about energizing chakras. There’s an idea floating around that you have to get all centered and “established” in order to acheive gnosis or enlightenment.
Know what? It’s all bullshit.
I want you to forget about it.
We’re gonna get messy.
Yeah, yeah, I know that the whole purpose of the last few exercises seemed like they were designed to get you to focus and to be “mindful.” This isn’t about being mindful, though– this is about getting unattached from all of the *stuff* that’s around you. You can’t even begin to get centered and grounded and whatnot until you’ve become as completely ungrounded as possible (without going mad, of course. Though, I suppose that if you’d like to go mad that’d be fine).
See, deep down inside, underneath everything else, no matter how good or bad things seem, no matter how tumultuous life is, no matter how broken the heart or unfocused the mind, each of us still carries a teeny tiny nougat of assumed groundedness. We have one or two things to which we cling, things upon which we lean, people on who we depend. What we want to do is to dig down deep and shake that nougat loose, so we’re completely empty and scattered before we start to try to focus and concentrate.
Why? It’s a matter of detachment. Detachment is a concept that gets bandied about all the time, particulartly by antimaterialist Western pseudo-Buddhists who confuse detachment with apathy and don’t realize that it’s super-easy to be detached from things if you can afford to replace them.
Picture the things to which you are attached: your loved ones, your house, your car, your job, your monies, your books or cds. Now picture a taught string extending from each one of those items into your head. The more you dwell on these things, the tighter the string gets. No matter how far you are from them, the string remains attached.
You can get rid of item after item after item if you want, but that string stays tied to your attention. Get rid of your car, for instance, and you have to tie the string to a bus or a bike or a regular walking route.
Detachment, or becoming scattered, cuts the strings instead of getting rid of the objects! Instead of trying to detach one’s self from big evil corporations by getting rid of big evil corporations, we get rid of our attachments to big evil corporations so that they no longer have power over us. Instead of trying to detach one’s self from political malfeasance by getting rid of politics, we get rid of our attachments to politics so that they no longer have power over us.
One our strings are cut, our attention becomes scattered. That creamy little nougat center of attention to which the strings were attached shakes free and can rattle around (scatter), and *then* we can start to talk about getting all centered and focused.
This isn’t even to say it’s always a good idea to cut every string. It’s okay to be attached to some things! I’m completely attached to my wife, my son, and to my dogs, and to my friends. The difference is that once we’ve cut all of our strings, *we* choose what gets tied where. Everything becomes equally important, and takes on the value *we* give it, not vice-versa.
This is especially important for those seeking enlightenment, because we’ve got to cut the string that attaches us to gnosis before we can achieve it. The best way to achieve enlightenment is to detach one’s self from it. Now there’s a double-bind for you!
So what to do? How to begin this process? Like the rest of our exercises thus far, it’s pretty simple, as long as you approach it with single-minded dedication and a willingness to follow through. Jesus talks about it all the time, in Canonical as well as in Gnostic scripture.
First, go outside! Trying to detach yourself from stuff is easier if you’re outside instead of in a man-made building surrounded by stuff. A park works, though obviously the more remote the place the better. Don’t go too remote, though– you don’t want to have to be attached to a camping trip with all of its issues.
Okay, now that you’re outside, run around like crazy for a while! Have fun! Play! Go find a few super-interesting rocks or sticks and then toss them away. Splash around in puddles. Swing on swingsets. Climb a tree. Have fun! Just play outside for a while, until you get tired of it.
When you’re tired of running around, sit down on the ground and relax. Take out your handy-dandy notepad, and write down at least one-hundred thngs to which you’re attached. It doesn’t matter how attached. While you list each item (or person or or or), picture yourself destroying it. Picture yourself ending all of your relationships (amicably, of course). Picture yourself burning down your house. Picture yourself losing all of your hair in a freak accident. Just keep going and going and going! Don’t stop until you’re really good and ready, but write down at least 100. When you’re done, tear the pages from your notebook.
Now, take your torn-out pages, and mess around in the dirt with them. Make a mud pie! Or, make a sand castle and put them inside! Get the pages and your hands really really dirty. Try not to think about the contents of the pages while you’re playing with them, but if you do that’s okay. Make them into a paper airplane, or a paper boat. Or, bring scissors and make snowflakes!
When you’re all done, leave the paper behind somewhere where you know it will almost never be found. Bury it, tie it to a rock and sink it in a lake, feed it to a squirrel.
Hopefully your hands will have gotten really muddy and dirty in this process, because you’re not going to wash them until the next day. Leave them as dirty as possible. Eat with dirty hands, drink with dirty hands, and go to bed with dirty hands and sleep with dirty hands. But before you go to bed, perform the next task with dirty hands.
Get a roll of black electrical tape. Using said tape, go around your house from top to bottom and cover every single word you see– all of the corporate logos on your appliances, etc. Get rid of everything that resembles a letter. Hiding is okay; if you don’t want to put tape on your books and CDs, cover your bookcases with sheets. Leave the tape on everything/keep everything hidden for as long as you feel comfortable with it.
Finally, after all of these tasks have been performed to your satisfaction, here are two final ones. For the next week, allow yourself at least three hours of time free from all restraints and free from all guilt! You can use this time in any way you see fit– take it in half-hour segments, take it all at once, doesn’t matter. You don’t have to use it for anything in particular. Do anything you want with this time without feeling guilty! Catch up on sleep. Drink that Coke you’ve been craving even though your anticorporate conscience forbids it. Eat some veal. Play some violent video games. Go shopping. Sit on your butt and watch sitcoms and eat potato chips. Stop worrying so much about what other people will think of the way you spend your time. Stop worrying so much about the repercussions of your actions. Just allow yourself some time to BE, with no values, no limits! (I mean don’t go around being an asshole to other people of course– have some dignity.)
If you play your cards right, you should be able to get through these three hours with no guilt, no concern, no worries. If you can’t, if you start thinking “I should be doing something else,” or “I shouldn’t be eating this whole chocolate cake,” then take three more hours the next week. If you think “I should be using this time to develop spiritually. I should be praying or meditating,” then go back to the beginning of this post and go through this procedure again.
If you get it right, you’ll be like… well, I won’t give away the secret, but you’ll resemble something, that something Jesus keeps talking about. Knowhutimean?
Again, you don’t have to be perfect. If you could acheive perfect detachment you wouldn’t need to read this. But, you should have an idea of how the experience of detachment feels. When you can go three hours doing something you want to do without feeling guilty, without attaching yourself to it, then you’re ready to start!
Up next: Part VII: The Path of Radical Inquiry