We continue with the discussion among Flora Sapio Larry Catá Backer, Paul Van Fleet and Betita Horn Pepulim in which Paul van Fleet considers the problem of liberation of individuals even within their societal cage.
In my opinion, such "cages" are:
"In every cry of every Man,
In every Infants cry of fear,
In every voice: in every ban,
The mind-forg'd manacles I hear..."
- William Blake, "London."
Perhaps we do live in a reality in which it is difficult to think about the development of the individual with the onset of political repression, economic hardship, and social constructs. And yet the individual persists anyway, the individual still "becomes" in spite of the constructs in front of them. To think that hardship retards the "becoming" process, is a misnomer; the individual realizes themselves in accord with, and in spite of, the conditions under which they are placed. Just because an individual in the political, social, or economic cage may not be the same as an individual in a relatively "free" state, does not mean that the individuals are not going through the same process of becoming.
I believe that it is too early in our inquiry to consider the individual in a social, political, or economic sense until we derive the true nature of the individual. This must necessarily come from an understanding of mind. Not the mind, or the brain, but the nature of mind, from a collective sense as reflected in the vessel of the individual. Mind is, first and foremost, the first aspect of reality to which we are introduced, and, in my opinion, mind "meets" reality from our first perceptions.
I am reminded of the poem by Dogen:
"Enlightenment is like the moon reflected on the water.
The moon does not get wet, nor is the water broken.
Although its light is wide and great,
The moon is reflected even in a puddle an inch wide.
The whole moon and the entire sky
Are reflected in one dewdrop on the grass."
The nature of the individual, in Dogen's view, is in perfect reflection - reflection of the other, of the self, and of their surroundings. To regard such surroundings or conditions as a "cage" seems to be to be completely antithetical to the idea of liberation. We are liberated upon realizing that we are one with the times in which we live, and that we "become" in relation to those times. If we start from the illusion of separation, and see how our current social constructs reflect that separation, we are at an appropriate starting point to consider a system of personal liberation.
Is there, then, "stuff" of the individual? Only reflection - the individual brings life to the world, and the world inspiration to the individual. Causality must. therefore, be an illusion - in a Humean sense and a Zen sense. We cannot prove chains of causality, we only have a sense of them because of an impulse to control a world that never needed control. There is no first cause, only a constant defining and redefining of an individual and a world that make no sense without each other. There is no chicken and the egg dilemma here - the chicken and the egg validate each other. So we can see the individual as intermeshed with the world, and the world intermeshed with the individual. Neither has primacy, so long as the nature of mind reflects clearly in the individual.
As such, telos (as we understand it via Aristotle) is a myth. This type of purpose is a key ingredient of separation - it tells us what we believe we should be doing in the world, without a focus, as Flora brings up, on what we are doing right now. "When hungry, eat. When tired, sleep." If there is no separation between us and the world, as I have theorized here, then there is no separating "purpose." Now, "purpose" is a varied term, and if we characterize purpose not as a self-imposition, but see it as something that we cannot help but do, it becomes equal to the aforementioned process of becoming. Action and conception unify, and Flora's rightly asked question concerning the primacy of conception and action becomes more and more of a moot point upon reflection.