The Cycle of Seeing exercise demonstrated for me, many of the elements we’ve been learning for the past seventeen or so weeks. Selecting the ten ‘things’ put a focus on how I model experience to ‘short-hand‘ each ‘thing’ from a countless selection of choices in order to refine and easily understand and recall them. I also saw how I construct stories by constructing the linear list of ‘things’, and then spinning it, the way I spin my daily stories of identification, desire, and worry… from waking till falling asleep at night. Working with the exercise actually creates the space and sub-spaces in which to construct the context of the ten ‘things’, a spinning world that I cycle over and over — as the phrase comes to mind, “To see the world in a grain of sand.”
As I continued over days spinning this micro-cosmos of ten ‘things’ more fascinating effects happened. While I didn’t see a ‘self’ manipulating the creation of the ‘things’, I did feel the presence of the narrator, controlling the process of gathering, organizing, deciding, valuing, discarding, and the interpreter by setting up a distance between itself and the ‘things’. And the distance was actually felt as a tension, a gravity of ‘will’ holding the things together made out of a value system I seemed to have set up in advance without fully understanding the consequences of doing so. Such tight control was maintained until I got good at spinning, and I got sort of cocky about how easy it was, and then something extraordinary happened… As if through a magnifying glass, I saw deeper into how I structured my whirling world.
The value scale I used in choosing my ‘things’ was; good equaled ‘easy to recall,‘ and bad equaled ‘hard to recall.’ So I always chose easy over hard. Every choice based on that value system called the subject-self into play from a predetermined perspective. I saw that my value judgments were ‘self-assumed‘; they were presuppositions that not only defined but limited my ‘seeing’ of the ‘things.’ My initial unquestioned attitude about what was good or bad kept me in a repetitive one-dimensional tunnel-vision, sifting through models, like mental photographs. And this was essentially a flat, spiraling world or context, which seemed to keep my focus confined to boundaries of my own making. For example, when I chose to remember my puppy as one of my 10 things, I chose a photo of her, not a nebulous memory of her. It was easy to recall a very specific, frozen, picture. But to just recall her by name would have brought all kinds of images to chose from. Way too many to consider. I had to simplify, or ‘summarize‘ her as a ‘thing’. It dawned on me how I summarize my experience all the time in order to manage memories.
As I said I got better at cycling and remembering the ten ‘things’ and visualizing their detail, and so my tight control seemed to ease up. As I kept spinning the ‘things’, and relaxing control, suddenly, I lost the subjective perspective, I forgot ‘me’ and seemed to become the ‘thing’. The value system in place dissolved, the constructed nature of the ‘thing’ seemed to ‘deconstruct’ the values, while at the same time retain its objectness. All of a sudden distance and gravity dissolved, there was tremendous freedom and a sense of expansion or opening as I became free to be all I knew of the thing, in a more full and richer way… the ‘things‘ and I were one, we were made or put together out of the same stuff.