By Lee Glazier
There are, uh, only two things in the universe: 1) What’s present 2) What’s absent.
Absent things will always outnumber present things. A coffee cup is present here; 10,000 coffee cups are absent here. Eight billion people are alive right now; 609 billion have died. Who knows how many more are going to be born? The ones who have passed and the not yet present outnumber all of us.
Even though all of those people are absent, their absence is present. If it wasn’t, then they’d all be here, and I frankly don’t have enough space for that.
Silence is the absence of sound, but we can be aware of silence. So, its absence is present (the same goes for stillness and motion). Darkness and light. Self and other. When we’re aware of presence and absence as presence-absence, that’s Whole Presence.
When I’m happy, sadness is absent; both go by degrees. When I’m happy, it’s because something’s present that I want to be present. When I’m sad, something’s absent that I want to be present. What’s present in both of those situations is, ya know, want and me. So, if either of those are absent, then the situation will change.
Without want (when it’s absent), happiness and sadness swap presences because of your, uh, state of mind—not the state of things on your mind. You’re independent, yeah? Unbothered. You’re like a cool space that everything passes through in their presence-absence hoedown.
What if we take the I Am out instead?
There is wanting happiness and the absence of sadness, but no one is wanting it. After all, we’re just a symbol for the universe, dig it? A shimmering reflection of material water and an energetic breeze. Before the pond, we were rain. Before that, we were vapor. Next, we’ll be vapor again. Then rain. Then the pond. On and on.
We’re not outside the universe, even though being a self feels that way at times. The universe made you from itself. Now you’re present within it, as it. Someday, you’ll dissolve back into it, having never truly left. The universe is you, yet you shackle identity to this body and mind?
Everything that is, is present right here. Everything that’s absent is absent right here. It’s so simple and subtle, and easy to see when the self is absent and that absence is felt. There’s no boundary between you and the rest of infinity. It’s easy to stop wanting things after that because presence and absence are not-two.
We can want shit and get bummed out, or stop wanting and chill out—it’s all good.
If I identify with the little body, then wherever I’m present, the rest of the universe is absent. We’ve been divided into self and not-self. That’s a lonely existence, man. If I identify with the Great Body, the selfless self, then the universe is present everywhere. Which it is.
Notice how we didn’t need a soul to understand or experience any of that. This is all based on the physical, which means that even the anti-religious can have liberating peak experiences. Even without God or religion, these peak experiences still take faith, but it’s faith in the reasoning itself. If we understand why we’re all one, when it’s beyond a reasonable doubt for us, then we can believe in it and try to experience it directly.
I don’t understand people who can leap without looking, ya know? I want to make sure that what I’m leaping toward is actually there. I’ve done too many psychedelics to trust the senses—I need logic.
“The universe is us,” is logical and sound. Being mindful of the nonduality of presence and absence can open up our minds to experiencing the whole in the parts. I reckon we could call this holistic physicalism or something like that.
Anywho, just mellow, alright? You’re made of space-time—act like it. Take care, friends.
“Dude” Lee Glazier is a Dudeist Priest, Zen adherent and Taoist enthusiast. He likes reading, writing, hiking, taking baths, listening to classic rock, drinking White Russians, smoking, and having the occasional acid flashback. The only thing he truly believes is that everyone needs to slow down, mellow out, and unwad their underpants. He feels that that would solve all the world’s problems in a heartbeat. “Do you have the patience to let the mud settle and the water clear?”