POSITIVE PHILOSOPHY: MOVEMENT WITHIN THE LIMIT
To begin an investigation is always to know that our feet are in fact not substantially rooted. When we speak of what we truly know our words become markedly brief. Our ignorance suffers no such limitation. Let us say this, then: we are not standing on solid ground. The river is at once the same and not the same. Standing on the shore is a temptation but it too is inadequate. But to begin we have to take a step. Without a word we come to the main point. And with words we become further embroiled. It is time to begin to clear out the underbrush, to lay bare the soil. Let us begin then by asking how far away from ourselves we allow ourselves to step in order to begin. Where does the beginning fall, that is? Does it stand by us, even inside of us somehow? Perhaps the beginning is in our hands, and our eyes remain only silent spectators. Or perhaps there has not been a beginning. We approach the matter sideways. Maybe the beginning is really the ending, and when we begin by looking for a beginning we have actually already finished before we have started. That is a difficult place to pull ourselves out of. The beginning I seek is my horizon, and as such serves as the propellant which pushes me forwards. The beginning as such remains empty. Surrounding it is an assortment of tools, or devices. Or perhaps more accurately put – constructions.
Any beginning is always inadequate. The words will never fit right. That, however, is not a condemnation, but rather a statement of fact. We begin to form an idea of what might drive, at a certain level, the functioning of these constructions. And here we encounter a more or less serious problem. The ground has been so thoroughly prepared that we are at a loss as to where to place the seed. It lies in our hands, glinting back up at us with what might be construed as a mischievous air. We step a little further back, since we are now being taunted by seeds. In this retreat we find something of a haven. The question comes back to what to do and how to do it. We see that there is in fact a certain logic to the question of how far back we need to step.
Stepping too far, again, raises the question of just how far away from ourselves we want to move. We do not, after all, really know if we are the same as we were. The call to know yourself is raised to its proper height. We can look back in order to attempt to glean something from that distance in the same way we can look across the seas and oceans in search of an elusive emptiness. We must neither get carried away with the excitement of the unknown nor withdraw into an opiated ball of self-obsession.
Looking back and looking out both carry certain risks, as does any ill-advised looking in. It is the method that is primarily in question. These three lookings are all contained and contain. The constructions we seek are presumably quite familiar with this territory. So a certain reaching that does not lose sight of the principle actors is not a bad place to stand, at least temporarily.
In this way we approach, but do not touch. We will never touch, for what we are after is not something of that sort. The construction is suspect. In fact, all the mechanisms with which we have grown more or less familiar are somewhat suspect.
That is not to suggest that we can strip them away and walk about naked in the garden once again. It is more in line with a re-recognition that these are tools, but tools which when used consume one. The constructed, the mechanical, becomes us, and we become rigid and as life die, although we may continue to live and breathe on a superficial level. Because we are stuck inside of this process we have to begin shying away from asking 'How?' and 'Why?'. These little words form a mechanism filled with wheels, every turn of which takes us one step further away from the place we would like to go. We stand on a line that is neither thick nor thin, sharp nor dull. We move in a sphere that reaches all around us – forwards, back, and to the sides. We come out of the soil and are moved by the stars. Functionality might be considered a fundamental aspect of this movement, but it is not the functionality of a machine.
The flexible matter we guide ourselves by we call the past, but as such it does not exist; only in the loosest of ways can we speak of the present or the future. The structure has been developed – that much seems certain. There are additions and improvements. With each added voice the past grows more mysterious. The words stand there; we look at them, staring blankly. The only true (in a technical sense) seeing that can grasp this is a seeing that has actually expanded itself, like a balloon. But which has also thus become thinner, weaker, more vulnerable. We notice how different this condition is from that of the everyday, which might be thought of as a tight, compact sphere. The value lies precisely in this extension, in which the rear and sideward extensions exist together and in imperfect harmony with the forward thrust.
It is of course precisely this lack of compactness which creates the problem of value. And the possibility.
To place a frame over the fluid is to kill it – rigidity is the cause of death. We have operated and within the surgery we have lost the patient. The effort to reach is at once the loss of everything. The matter returns, as it must do, to the sphere mentioned earlier. In the extension, in the end, the issues grow too thin – the notion that there is a necessity to reach back, or not to reach back for that matter, begins to obscure until the issue itself is stillborn. It is not a question of imperative, as in we must, or ought to, do this or that. We are driven to do this or that, there is that about which there can be neither doubt nor question. It is in such arenas that we should engage our greatest energies. Energy is where we place the focus, and within that placement, where we are as a result directed. The question is always given to us with two parts, while what we are interested in is the pivot. To speak positively does not mean to follow blindly. What we are looking for is not a binary system, although a binary system is a part of what we are looking at.
We should consider the sciences as burdens, and not shining examples to be followed and imitated. To move beyond their limitations is idea whose time has come. But not merely for the sake of movement – no, rather as a possibility which exists, as something that can be thought. Standing still we too are able to finally move. What we are looking at is creation. The ability to move is followed by the necessity of movement. The areas into which we move will of necessity be unclear, dark, and perhaps might cause unease. Unease might be a sign of poor preparation and conditioning, or it might be the healthy anticipation we feel before the starting flag falls.
We are speaking of activities and processes. To ask what something does is actually to investigate into the process it is – what it is is what it does, how it shapes itself. There is nothing that stands alone. Creation is not pulling something from nothing. It is rather a continuation, a forging ahead. Following is always limited. Being limited is the cause of the illusion of activity. The illusion of activity comes when we busy ourselves with projects without a guide. There is a line that is present, which has been made and also requires continued making. It is a mechanism that is not mechanical.
We have moved to the side. The mechanisms in which we were to have interested ourselves have retreated and thus reasserted themselves. Each has a certain tendency towards such behavior, but also has a host of other tendencies. To say these compete against each other is to fall short of the mark. The less you know the more clearly you can see this. The certainty of death is a relaxing moment lying in the warmth of the sun. The dissolution is not grounds for fear but does call for caution. To know yourself is never quite as easy a proposition as is assumed.
We hold the spoken in common. We drink from this never ending stream. The elements which most readily go unquestioned are actually the most pivotal ones. Air rises from water, soul is vaporized from what is moist. Fire awakens activity. Things fall back to the earth and are washed away by water, which feeds and nourishes all things, which are again forged by fire.
We step back a little, look around, but see only ourselves. So we return. In this condition, we feel ourselves released. It is not that the past is heavy but rather that the words are inadequate. Stepping away as return is stepping towards, and what we step towards has no borders. Simply because we have surrounded ourselves with shapes and forms does not mean we are entitled to speak about them. To remove the borders is to step away. This stepping away is return. Remove the borders and nothing but empty forms remain. These forms demand to be filled. Let us stop half way, and leave the forms unfilled. To say all is emptiness is not an extreme statement.
Past the limit we fall over the edge, but at the limit we can comfortably rest. The limit is the definition of who we are. Every statement about what this limit is simply reinforces it. We fear the idea of removing the limit because it is the same as death – death as entry into the limitless – which is not to say infinity. The limitless must be held steady as that which has not been constructed. Within the unconstructed there is nothing to attach to. What we are changes, flows, adapts around this central principle.
We move with our limit. We step carefully, keeping the limit at its proper distance. We know what is inside of this sphere, while outside there is only chaos. We begin to see the nature of the construction we face. Limits are constructed out of our actions. Our activity transforms the world. We create a horizon; we impose the limit. We develop control over the field we have framed. We carry all possible answers within the sphere we create. Only once something can be determined to exist can it be considered to be real. We train on the use of this mechanism, we grow proficient and wish to spread the circle, to expand the sphere of application. We have direction and purpose. We are content. The process has a beginning and an end. We believe that we can step into the same river twice. The gods are patient and wait for the child to grow. There is nothing to wait for. There is not another place. There is only this place. What is enclosed is empty and what stands beyond is empty. We must return to our root. We cannot do so without guides or limits. Guides and limits, however, can only take us so far.