I was talking to a semi famous “teacher” of Buddhism the other day and he was lecturing me and a friend about “thinking” correctly and the Buddhist vision of “right view.” Right view is part of the Eightfold Path and, if you follow Buddhism, is one of the solutions used to supposedly “end suffering.” So, there is an independent “I” that must develop a “right view” in order to be successful in ending suffering. But in looking at that cognitively constructed “I” we see that we are not exactly entirely in control as some discrete entity. (In my understanding there is no separate self in Buddhism, nor is there an “I” who is in control. How a nonexistent “I” can manipulate thinking is beyond me. I love and embrace Buddhism as a philosophy but some of it seems incongruent.)
I couldn’t help but wonder if he realizes we are a type of colony? We consist of connected cells that form our bodies along with free floating cells that are crucial to survival. (Blood, etc.) The amazing part is none of the cells appear to be aware that they comprise a Human, Being. They go along their busy lives doing whatever cells do as a normal function, interacting, feeding, passing along electrical and chemical information, and destroying alien invaders. (White blood cells are so cool!) All without a clue that you and I are walking around, and for the most part, totally unaware that they are busily forming what we consider the “I.” They act and respond as a unit to insure our survival. There are a few billion independent little beings who have their own life and existence cooperating to form “me.” They communicate and process life without me noticing them, or at least being consciously aware of them. (And form bigger colonies like Detroit, MI!)
So, is there an “I” that can control thought? My answer is no not exactly, thought happens and the entire cooperating colony of “I” has input over what rises in the stream of thought. A friend of mine who studies Zen at Plum Village in France said that viewing her body and stream of thought with the colony perspective has resulted in more humility and a knowing that we are not exactly the agents we like to think we are, I concur.
Ok, I know I’m not a coral reef with clown fish swimming around me, but when I think of myself as an entire colony of one celled creatures, it does give me a better perspective on how I operate and experience my daily life. And it gives me a unique perspective on relating to the other “colonies” engaging in life.
Take loving care of the colony today!