There is something about self-conscious spirituality: all kinds of religion involving preaching and moralising, and talking to oneself in a split and divided way – good ‘I’ against bad ‘Me’ – that is profoundly phoney.
Nobody ever transforms himself into an enlightened pattern of life by dividing himself into two pieces: good ‘I’ and bad ‘Me’ – wherein good ‘I’ preaches to bad ‘Me’ and tries to make me over.
On the one hand there is the conscious ‘I’, at once intrigued and baffled, the creature who is caught in the trap. On the other hand there is ‘Me’, and ‘Me’ is a part of nature.
‘I’ fancies itself as a reasonable fellow, and is forever criticizing ‘Me’ for its perversity – for having passions which get ‘I’ into trouble, for being so easily subject to painful diseases, for having organs that wear out, and for having appetites which can never be satisfied.
Is it not an unnatural paradox that ‘I’ resists change in ‘Me’ and in the surrounding universe? For change is not merely a force of destruction.
Life and death are not two opposed forces; they are simply two ways of looking at the same force.
The movement of change is as much the builder as the destroyer. To resist change, to try to cling to life, is therefore like holding your breath: if you persist you kill yourself.
In thinking of ourselves as divided into ‘I’ and ‘Me’, we easily forget that Consciousness also lives because it is moving.
If you look at it carefully, you will see that Consciousness – the thing you call ‘I’ – is really a stream of experiences, of sensations, thoughts, and feelings in constant motion.
But because these experiences include memories, we have the impression that ‘I’ is something solid and still.
The difference between ‘I’ and ‘Me’ is largely an illusion of memory. In truth, ‘I’ is of the same nature as ‘Me’. It is part of our whole being, just as the head is part of the body.
But if this is not realized, ‘I’ and ‘Me’, the head and the body, will feel at odds with each other.
We shall then have a war between Consciousness and nature, between the desire for permanence and the fact of flux.
This war must be utterly futile and frustrating – a vicious circle – because it is a conflict between two parts of the same thing.
It must lead thought and action into circles which go nowhere faster and faster.