Everybody has heard this phrase before, but today I’d like to point to a much more elusive aspect of this reality, one that clouds our vision and distorts our perception of life every second of every day.
Everything that we feel is normal, as humans, we feel is normal because it’s a habit. This includes eating, walking, talking, breathing, and even being shaped the way we’re shaped.
Look at your legs. Look at your arms. Feel your face. How would you feel if you didn’t have a deep-set habit that your form is somehow normal? And I’m talking philosophically here, I’m not talking about whether you’re skinny or fat or whatever. I’m talking about your form as a monkey. Having two hands, two feet, a nose, two eyes, etc. It could be considered a very strange form and a very odd body to be in, but we feel completely at home in it and never even think about it. We think of ourselves as “people,” a kind of “gold standard” among creatures on earth. We hold ourselves as gods among the animals in a way.
When you walk, you don’t feel strange or amazed doing so. You just walk. One long leg moving in front of the other, and then the other one coming up to move in front of that one.... if you didn’t have a deeply ingrained habit of walking and perceiving it as a normal thing, you’d be much, much more in touch with your animal nature.
And putting on clothes especially! We feel so normal doing that. We get up in the morning and slip on a shirt, pants, whatever, and it’s like “yeah, I’m a person. I’m getting dressed.” The habit of seeing ourselves as people instead of animals greatly clouds our vision. Look at your hands. Look at your arms. Look at yourself sitting there. Why do you feel normal and comfortable? Like this is a normal way of being, of doing things, of perceiving? What do you think this is, really? Outside of “I need to go to college, I need to get a job, I want to have a family.” What is this Really about?
What do you think life might be about, outside of all the things that everyone’s always told you you need to do? School and work are just things we get programmed into doing, like a machine. There’s nothing personal about that. Having a family happens because the species wants to reproduce. So what’s going on here?
We likely will never know. But for now, it is a good thing to try and break free of the habit of perceiving all this as something normal. People are born, and they’re told “You’re so and so, you have to go to school, get a job, and have a family,” and the baby later repeats “I am so and so, I have to go to school, get a job, and have a family,” and that’s it. That’s how deep the level of thought is with a lot of people. It’s literally no different than when I program my computer to do something and then it executes it.
Break free of the habit of perceiving those steps as a kind of “center” of reality. I’ll say that again. Break free of the habit of perceiving those steps (school, college, work, family) as a kind of “center” of reality. The earth to the universe is like a femtometer to the earth, but in many people’s perception, all these earthly things are stretched way out of proportion, to fill nearly the entire universe. They know there’s other universe out there, but they experience this planet and our doings as a sort of staple or pillar in the universe. It’s not. Perceiving our form, our actions, our aspirations and systems and philosophies, as a kind of “norm” is a habit. A habit that constantly takes us away from the bizarre and mystifying question of existence.
Begin to perceive life and think about what this Really might be, at its true nature. In the presence of that mysterious question, life becomes much more alive.