How do you feel when you receive an email or a text message from a friend who has reached out to you electronically? Perhaps the message creates a tiny ripple of connection or separation from this other person. Think about how much of your day is spent extending, reassembling, or defending your identity, shifting restlessly from a spirit of collaboration to feelings of personal rejection or disappointment, or to feeling of pride. Meanwhile, in the background of our struggles with our identity, hovers a sense of an underlying unity with All Else, an experience of being “in the soup”— a daily, constantly shifting pulse of our engagement with our status as separate beings and our status as creatures enveloped by the reality we learn to think of as lying outside us, though in fact it is entirely what we are.
Scientists postulate that infants start life with a sense of self utterly mixed up with an awareness of the mother and other people in its surroundings. Infants can’t separate their emotions from the emotions of others. Development of the separate self, development of an ego, perhaps begins as a seed in the brain of a fetus and then expands to the self that interacts and creates the reality it lives in.
It seems we have been trying to think our way through the primal paradox, or out of, it since the beginning of human time. But consciousness itself keeps us bound within the primal paradoxical terms.
Who am I? Is that a fruitless question? These days, it’s one almost everybody asks as if there were an answer. Am I really separate from the car I drive, the job I go to, the thoughts that pass through my head? Well, yes and no, you might say, acknowledging the primal paradox.
Natura Morta? Natura Vive!
Whole Everything Nothing
John Z. Amoroso
The Primal Paradox in Stages of Psychological Development
The Primal Paradox: the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life
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