A NEW PHILOSOPHICAL DAOISM XII

The concept of no-fixed-identity suggests that one can release one’s grip on one’s particular self-identity while still enjoying the same. The spirit of play can help to illustrate this arrangement. Play requires taking the game seriously, while simultaneously understanding that it is in fact just a game, something made up for our enjoyment. It’s only fun when not taken too seriously.

We can play at being a someone. There’s transcendence involved here. But who is “we”? There is always an assumed someone, it seems, and transcendence is a ceaseless dialectic—certainly beyond logic and maybe even time. We can imagine or experience the non-dual only because we remain dual. Self is essentially dualistic, and self is required if we wish to think and experience life. This is why I believe no-self means no-fixed-self.

This is intended as descriptive of an actual experience, of course, and not simply as an idea. Can one actually realize this? I, at least, cannot say for sure. I can only testify that the exercise (play) of attempting to do so yields some interesting and enjoyably incremental results. How does one attempt to realize it? Again, I can only speak of my own practice—imaginative meditation.

Clinging to a fixed-identity—one that can be lost and must forever be protected and propped up—let’s call it an egoic-self (a self trapped in itself)—is mostly just a bad habit. Self is an evolved habit—not an evil—just what’s happened. There’s no need to disparage it. But nor is there any reason why we shouldn’t wish to improve upon its performance when some aspects of it prove dysfunctional. Nothing’s perfect. Nothing’s “meant” to be. Imaginative meditation amounts to the consideration of other possible, more beneficial habits—new ways of thinking and being. It entails venturing forth into new experiences—mystical experiences.

Imagination takes place in the spirit of play. Nothing need be taken as “real”—it’s all just having fun because that’s the best we can do, and fun is fun. Religious-mindedness is taking things far too seriously, and that is the death of fun.

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