Being itself is
beginningless and endless. It doesn't occur in time, it just is, without
has always been and will always be, and there is no other alternative. We
exist, and everything else exists, forever. We exist permanently in each moment
and also we exist across time. Our time isn't an illusion as some have said,
it is merely a secondary reference to the reality we are connected to. We are
not existence evolving but we are the universe evolving, moving from one
timeless place to another, moving from timeless places we call the past to
timeless places we call the future, somewhat like turning the pages of a book.
We commonly refer to existence generally with two
words, something and nothing. All objects are somethings.
In the absence of objects there is nothing. What we imagine to be nothing is
simply neutrality and balance. The world we know is made up of positives and
negatives. When there are no positive or negative imbalances there is the
nothing of balance.
Presently, we see somethingness as a very good
state to be in, and nothingness as a very bad state to be in. Often we think of
others or ourselves either as being something significant or meaningful or
valuable, or we think of others or ourselves as being nothing significant or
meaningful or valuable. The dichotomy of "something versus nothing" is very
basic to how we see the world. There are several very basic statements we make
constantly as we relate to being. These statements are:
1. I am (something).
2. I am nothing.
3. You (someone or some group) are
something (important, purposeful, of value).
4. You are nothing/ or
you are not (relevant, important, existent).
People say and think these simple statements
constantly in their everyday interactions and conversations with others. In
looking down on someone they are saying "I am, you are not". In being
submissive to another, the person is saying "I am not, you are". Very few people
remain in one statement consistently with all the people they interact with, but rather their
statements change in every interaction. With one person they feel like they
don't match up, like they don't matter, with another they feel themselves to
be more than the other. The myriad of ways that each person defines these
statements in their attitudes about themselves and others creates the core and
complex tapestry of each person's personality and identity.
These states we are discovering are very similar to
the attitudes identified in Transactional Analysis, presented in the popular
book I'm Okay, Your Okay. In transactional analysis there are the four
basic attitudes a person can maintain, of which the first two are the most
I'm not Ok, your Ok
(I am not anything/nothing, you are)
I'm Ok, your not Ok (I am something
good, you are not anything/nothing)
I'm not Ok, your not Ok.
(I am not anything/nothing, you are not anything/nothing)
I'm Ok, your Ok. (I
am, you are, the same - wholeness, undivided)
Notice how the first two statements differentiate
and thus define a boundary between the self and the other. Competitions and even
wars exist where groups make statements of We are, you are not. In such
cases one group attempts to expand their boundary onto the other.
These basic statements exist hand in hand with our
attitudes and opinions about everything. They largely define where we are in
life. But further still, they are the most
basic expressions found in nature. They are literally the basics of what is possible. You
either are (something) or you are not (something). If you are something
you are defined, and you are pronounced apart from other things, and you are
arisen above being nothing. The next step is to recognize how these attitudes of being something or
nothing can be related to masculine and feminine.
statement is of the masculine nature.
I am (something, that which is relevant: that
knows, feels, sees, and in radical extreme: I am all that matters, and even
the illusory statement, I am all that exists).
boundary - outside of one's self ------------------
You are not, or you don't
matter (in negative extreme, not relevant not important,
not individual or independent, not sensitive, in radical extreme:
unreal or non-existent).
This statement is of the feminine nature.
I am not, or I am not what is
important (in negative extreme, not relevant, unimportant, not
worthy of anything, dependent, unable to think for myself, unreal,
in radical extreme: I am non-existent).
----------------- imagined boundary
- beyond one's self -------------------
You are everything / something (that which
is relevant: important,
that which thinks clearly, to be followed,
food source, creator, i.e.
mate, family, boss, job, friends, groups).
The masculine state claims "I am everything (all somethingness) that matters,
while the feminine state claims "I am nothing, and what matters is you (the
mate), my family, a group or community. The feminine places relevance outside of
self and the direction of energy is outgoing. The masculine sees self, spouse,
children, group, community, as an extension of one's own self. By nature there
is some degree to which the masculine denies the separate experience(s),
emotions, attitudes, knowledge, power, and beliefs of the other. This can be
those lower in status or less fortunate, meaning those who are smaller, weaker,
less attractive, poor, less skilled, less adept, and less powerful. The
direction of energy of the masculine state is ingoing. To some degree the
feminine state denies their own emotions, attitudes, knowledge, power, and
Of course the masculine and feminine are not at all
exclusive to male and female. I am not sure these two states are even correctly attributed to men and women. We each switch back and fourth constantly, and
harbor layers of one attitude then the other, such as the deep feelings of men
toward women as everything that matters in life, and the deep hidden
women often make (I am), being child bearers or creators of life, to mother
nature, God, universe, etc. It may be that the true masculine nature is found measurably more in women, and a great deal
of men's behaviors are attempts to turn the tables, so that they can see themselves as the God figure. Men often put a
great deal of effort into trying to convince women they are not the God figure, and that men are more like God, when
they know intuitively and plainly that the mother or woman exists in the creator role. I suspect this causes an
unconscious existential anxiety in men that is visible worldwide and throughout history.
It is easiest to relate these
two basic divisive attitudes to people who
are extremes on the personality scale and seem to constantly remain in
one state or the other. An obvious example of the masculine I am
is someone who is arrogant, egotistical, driven; someone who recognizably needs
to be dominant over others, or needs to seem more important than them. Interestingly what creates the
am drive is the fear of being nothing or of not being anything important. One
particular state of mind, either the masculine I am or the feminine I
am not, commonly overlays the other.
Some people are stuck in exercising the I am not statement and
they identify their being instead with others or something outside of
themselves. They might identify with another person, their family, their job or
employer, or some large club or group. We all know and appreciate the attitude
of the wife who considers herself unimportant in comparison to the well being of
her children or her husband. Of course various ways of mildly suspending the
self are necessary in any cooperative venture, such as raising children or
facilitating a business. Men often find self-identity
through being associated with a club, a religion, a political party, a sport
team, a famous person, or a geological region such as a state or country. Sports
are almost always a competition over the statement of I am the best
and yet the cooperation necessary of a team requires individuals give themselves
over to the team.
In the quest to be significant, a person tries to expand his
self, or what he sees as himself, outward, either creatively or destructively. A
person might expand their sense of self to include others either by becoming
dominant or controlling of them, or by submission to the control or mindset of
another person or group. It is as if each individual or group has a circle
(boundary) around it which can expand beyond the group or a physical body
outward into the universe. We create these boundaries, so naturally we can move
them around. Often we pretend our influence on others expands our own personal
physical reality and makes us greater than we are as an individual person. The
boundary circle can also contract inward so that what exists in the outside
world to some measure overruns and erases the self of the person who has
I have come across I am, and I
am not, described by psychologists many times. In a must read book,
Erich Fromm describes basic dominative and submissive attitudes. He writes:
Man is torn away from the primary union with
nature which characterizes animal existence. Having the same time reason and
imagination, he is aware of his aloneness and separateness, of his powerlessness
and ignorance, of the accidental-ness of his birth and death. He could not face
this state of being for a second if he could not find new ties with his fellow
man which replace the old ones regulated by instincts.
There are several ways in which this union
can be sought and achieved. Man can attempt to become one with the world by submission
to a person, to a group, to an institution, to God. In this way he transcends
the separateness of his individual existence by becoming part of somebody or
something bigger than himself and experiences his identity in connection with
the power to which he has submitted.
Another possibility of overcoming separateness
lies in the opposite direction: man can try to unite himself with the world by having
power over it, by making others a part of himself, and thus transcending his individual
existence by domination.
In being a creator a person moves toward unifying
with the environment, expanding their sense of self outward by positively
shaping the world in their own image. In being a destroyer or vandal a person expands
their circle as well, they expand their sense of void or negative space, in order to destroy
the positive, to destroy that which makes them seem irrelevant. In expanding
one's own state they become big
enough to encompass the problem they cannot solve any other way, which is primarily
the identification of oneself as negative derived from their relationship with others, not necessarily
others who are positive, but who
define themselves as positive or better in relation to them.
Typically in being destructive a person has not
yet learned to love, to be creative, to be functional, or to be cooperative, all
states which once learned a person refuses to abandon them.
Such are general ways that we positively transcend the imaginary boundary of
self toward a union with the rest of the world. That union is clearly visible in
the I am, you are, statement. I am, you are, the same existence. We are
both the universe. Such conclusions are ultimately inescapable. All identities
are secondary aspects of a unified reality.
Physically we are each made of the same atoms which exist in other people and
the objects in our environment. All we are, each person, is a different pattern
of those objects. We each constantly trade atoms with our environment as we
breath, as we take in food and exfoliate. We also constantly absorb and emit
heat and energy, just as we constantly absorb and emit all kinds of information
through our senses and muscles. We are absolutely dependent on the universe
around us because we are inseparable from it. The boundaries we assume are
ultimately illusions. There are no real boundaries. We are merely a universe.
Through the course of time we are each naturally evolving away from identities
and boundaries toward the statement of I am the universe, you are the
universe, we are the same, we are the one being. It is a very long
journey, but when those boundaries do finally break down, seeing the wholeness and
unity of the universe is not merely an attitude, it is more a quite different reality
and very unique way of seeing existence.
Good and Evil Directions
We are motivated in both positive or negative
directions by our awareness of the conflict between the two realities of
something and nothing. Conflicts
are naturally disturbing, and thus the boundary between the self and everything
else is disturbing. Since we assume that something and nothing contradict one
another, and essentially imagine each as an individual reality, we attempt to
resolve the conflict between one state and the other by making one overcome the
Man can create life, by giving birth to a child....by
planting seeds, by producing material objects, by creating art, by creating
ideas, by loving one another. How then does man solve the problem
of transcending himself if he is not capable of creating, if he cannot love? There
is another answer to this need for transcendence; if I cannot create life, I
can destroy it.
It is easy to misjudge the good or evil of
creativeness and destructiveness. The world is not divided up between good and
evil. There is a deep hypocrisy in human beings, where those who have
experienced a predominantly pleasant life (positive) define what is right or
wrong, good or bad, merely from the base of their own experience, without having
any respect for the real experiences of others who have had very few
pleasantries and instead destructive experiences in their life (negative). It is
the denial of others that is evil. There are so many different settings to people's
individual lives and each setting establishes a different perspective on
reality. None of them can be correct since each is incomplete, and the
incorrectness of both sides is quite extreme at this point in history.
What is bad
or unhealthy is the extreme states of I am, you are not, or
I am not, you are. Both are imbalances. Both result in evil, either in
the destruction of others or the destruction of self. However, the movement away
from balance and unity toward individualization and uniqueness must be
appreciated. There is a sort of realization of the self, which is extremely
important and healthy. It is what we are, definition, form, even though all such
form relies on imbalances. It is expressions of the extreme states that produce
evil, such as, you are nothing, I am nothing.
The unified whole is nothing without individual form. There is no cosmic balance
without imbalance. There is no infinite whole without the finite. The innate
objective of life and growth is to become whole by becoming full, rather than
becoming whole by becoming empty. So actualizing our individuality and being
what we are is a healthy and required part of that process. That path first
leads out into definition and form, then back toward unity. So our evolution is
very much a sort of exploration of imbalances and individuality, a road that
often leads away from unity even if it eventually produces a transcendence past
illusory divisions and ends at unity.
Another psychologist, Karen Horney, the most
brilliant throughout history, describes
what she identified as basic "conflicting attitudes toward others" as well as three major attempts at solution.
Horney thus identified three neurotic personalities, as shown below:
1. Moving against people
(domination; expanding one's boundary; I am, you are not)
2. Moving toward people (submission;
collapsing one's boundary; I am not, you are)
3. Moving away from people
(resignation, destructiveness; I am not, you are not)
In one of her early books explaining her model,
entitled Our Inner Conflicts, Horney describes her first recognition
of a system behind her patients neurotic trends:
I could see that a neurotic need for affection,
compulsive modesty, and the need for a "partner" belonged together. What I failed
to see (yet) was that together they represented a basic attitude toward others
and self, and a particular philosophy toward life. These trends are the nuclei of
what I have now drawn together as a "moving toward people."
I saw too, that a compulsive craving for power
and prestige and neurotic ambition had something in common. They constitute
roughly the factors involved in what I shall call "moving against people."
And of the moving away types Horney writes:
Instead of moving away from others, the neurotic
moved away from himself. His whole actual self became somewhat unreal to
him and he created in its place an idealized image of himself in which conflicting
parts were so transfigured that they no longer appeared as conflicts but as various
aspects of a rich personality.
Horney's main work explained in Neurosis and
Human Growth is so applicable to every person that
one finally realizes that neurosis is inescapable, it is a part of being human. It goes
with being alive. It comes along with having a mind and thinking. I included this last part because of the way she describes how the "whole actual self" (wholeness,
or I am, you are) becomes separate from either false self. The
false selves, like something and nothing, are realities within themselves. Granted, ultimately they are not, but internally they are complete universe's within themselves, in the case of neurosis, as well as in
nature. Seeing the world as many finite things all arisen above
non-existence is very different than seeing the world as being less than the
whole. One view sees things as more than nothing, the other sees the finite
world as less than everything.
A Look At
Extremes - I Am Nothing
In the I am nothing / you are something - everything
attitude the person sees themselves as being nothing important or
relevant versus some part or all of the external world as being
something-everything that is relevant. These people become followers, who commit
to another person, religion, group, or a cause, and sacrifice their own choices,
powers, and perceptions. The extremes of this personality are marked by an
inability to think original or other thoughts. By nature, due to the direction
of their evolution, they internally limit their interaction with the rest of
reality. This is true of both identities. The direction of experience is to
shrink toward a point, although it is surrounded, the person exists within the
point and is aware of the self with a sense of contraction.
One helpful example in understanding the effects of the extreme
I am nothing, you are everything personality is someone who has destroyed their own ability
to think rationally, a common example being where a person has given themselves
over to religious dogma. In cases of schizophrenia, the person minimizes themselves to the degree that the conscious mind is disabled from having any influence upon its own content, the result being any cyclic fear
or irrational thought can permeate consciousness, leaving the body helpless against paranoia and both idea and visual hallucination. The core cause here is simply an internal perception that one's self is nothing, leaving
the person unable to act or control their mind based upon their own self interest or preservation.
I Am Everything
Of course the extreme result of I am, you are
not is not much better, since rather than denying the self, here the person
denies the outside world. They have continual difficulty making the outside
world cooperate, so eventually they remove themselves from the persistent leakage between
their self and the greater reality. They break away from an outer reality. They
resort to imagining their own attitudes and self to be the whole of reality. In this case
the internal chaos is self designed. The persons thoughts become reality
In most cases events in a person's life pull them back from the inward spiral toward either extreme attitude,
away from positive or negative directions,
in which case the person's world begins to expand as the boundaries between self and other dissolve.
However, it is interesting that with those who are not pulled back, in both cases, even the person trying to expand their borders outward, instead finds the result to be an ever shrinking
sense of self and power, neurotically resolved only by further denial of
the other, not only the outer world but eventually one's own senses and
physicality. In what are obvious psychotic extremes the boundary of self ends up
shrinking inward toward a single point from which the person finds no solace.
This direction toward a collapse of self happens to perfectly correlate with the
basic structure of the cosmos, or physical reality as is understood at least
partially today in science.
As the universe evolves
forward it moves toward the uniformity and balance of absolute zero, while the
evolution of time originated from extreme imbalance, or what we call the big
bang. The big bang originates from a positive point, which is the outermost
extreme possibility. The original state of our universe, called the Alpha state,
could not be any smaller, or more dense, or more energetic, than it is at the
beginning of time. It is the most radical case of imbalance, that is, besides
the opposite negative extreme. This basic structure with outer points of
positive and negative extremes around a balance center is the same structure
that defines our attitudes and personalities. A person's neurotic evolution
toward extremes is analogous with some part of the universe moving backward in
time toward the positive or the negative Alpha state, and a person's positive
growth forward is analogous to the evolution of time moving toward absolute
Uniformity destroys individuality. It erases pronounced differences between
groups of things. When many things unify we end up with no things. We can toss all sorts of foods into a soup pot and cook them
until they break down into a single medium, and thus a number of defined parts
have broken down into a single uniform substance. The many have become one,
and yet we see that one as nothing. Everyone has heard the
reference of a polar bear in a snow storm. Things blended together become what
we define as nothing, but all the things are in there.
Nothingness, the ultimate expression being empty space, lacks the presence of things. Nothing
be thought of as a space that is uniformly empty of any distinct substance in
any discernable form. The word nothing properly breaks down into two words: no things.
And I cannot better simplify the true and proper meaning of a real nothing
that exists and is a valid part of existence. Within a world of many different
things the only requirement of a nothing is that it doesn't express
pluralism. So empty space is the prototype of nothing. And most often when we use the
word nothing, this is our meaning. We refer to the nothing of empty space. "There is nothing in the refrigerator."
When properly used, the word nothing refers to a place or space without any
distinguishing features, and therefore singular in form. Nothingness
can not be reduced further. The great error is to assume an absence of
thingness is equivalent in meaning to non-existence. Imagining that
non-existence is possible or a sensible concept is equal to imaging the phrase
"being doesn't exist" is possible or can somehow make sense (see
why a universe exists timelessly).
So although empty space is
the extreme of formlessness, the assumption that empty
space has no content is absolutely erroneous. Empty space is absolutely and
perfectly full. It is just perfect uniformity, and that uniformity or
singularity is all that nothing can be. We
incorrectly associate valid examples of the real and physical nothing with the
anomalous and unreal concept of non-existence. Empty space is without form,
but if we imagine it doesn't have content, then we have gone too far. The
absence of things is not non-existence, it is the perfect symmetry of things.
I have known about these basic states for many
years but still have only begun to see the incredible dynamics within each person, myself included, as
we alternate back and fourth between each attitude and the next in different situations. It is just amazing to me how
behind one attitude there exists layers of opposite attitudes somehow woven
together into a cohesive way of thought and personality. The husband stands tall
claiming I am, yet in the next moment all his work and
accomplishments are seen to be for his wife and family. We all oscillate back
and fourth between similar attitudes. Fortunately, as sure as the
direction of the universe toward zero, it is cosmic law that we all eventually
end up at the "I am, you are" state, and we all end in an "I am the
Universe" stage of awareness where there are no boundaries.