Thursday, July 23, 2009

How is Unity expressed in story?

I love the unanswerable questions. And I love to learn as much as my subgenius mind can handle about everything we humans have so far come to know in our pursuit of answers to the unanswerable. Parallel passions--science and metaphysics--gradually led me to glimpse a perfect interweaving of current knowledge and ancient wisdom. Quantum physics intertwined with Advaita Vedanta. Spacetime as a metaphor for Oneness. Superstrings pointing to Nonduality.

Meanwhile, I labored away at writing stories. Imaginary characters with lives and hearts and pains all their own kept jumping up and asking to be acknowledged. Inspired by literary realism, postmodern and classic, lush or minimalist, I worked at exploring psycho-spiritual states and getting something both meaningful and beautiful onto the page. Then out of all that jumble rose the challenge that got my blood pumping at a whole new rate....

If everything is One, how is that expressed in story?

Well, it's been done, with various degrees of success, in all kinds of ways:
--exegesis of various cultural mythologies
--allegory or parable with a "moral"
--stories from the lives of famous gurus or holy men
--the conundrums of time travel (see my friend's book The High Priest of Prickly Bog)
--fanciful alternate realities like those of Italo Calvino
--narrative thought experiments ala Jorge Luis Borges
--straight science fiction: on other planets, things behave differently
--variations on the sword and sorcery genre
--human encounters with angels or extraterrestrials
--magical realism

Trouble is, none of these appealed to me. Or rather, they were not what I was doing as a writer. I wanted to write literary short stories, about us, ordinary people, our everyday tragedies and existential crises, the mundane epiphanies that move us all incrementally forward. Real life.

It was my invented characters themselves who offered me the key. Of their own accord they had began lurking on the edges of each other's stories. But I wasn't sure what that meant. Then one day as I surveyed the whole array of stories and fragments, a complex web of faint shimmering lines seemed to materialize before my inner eye. These people, like all of us, were connected by invisible threads, coincidences, ephemeral glancing touches, by which subtle influence was being exerted, life paths changed in seemingly tiny, but possibly powerful, ways. We were like cells in one giant body, all going about our business transporting enzymes from one place to another and effecting change on other cells, but with rarely a glimmer of awareness of our own impact.

To suggest this newfound truth seemed to me the best way I could express Unity. Still, just as in this thing we call "reality," the needs, hopes, dreams, heartaches, addictions, and loves of daily life are the foreground. To see the background is another level of perception altogether.

I'm entirely a beginner on the road toward Unitive Consciousness. But that vision of all human beings interconnected by a vast intangible network of influence, invisible energy lines weaving us together, became the engine driving the finishing, assembling, and publishing of my story collection.

So, does it work? Does it matter? Does The Principle of Ultimate Indivisibility say anything useful? Can this odd combination of literary realism and esoteric philosophy create its own public? Or is it all a big illusion (delusion) in my mind? I really don't know. I hope you'll read it and tell me what you think.


  1. Since we are one, we can not be interconnected. How could something be interconnected if it is one? It is the ultimate illusion of separation that even creates the possibility of the thought of being interconnected, because interconnection requires some kind of separation to begin with. So ultimately, even the idea of being interconnected is an illusion then, isn't it? This is the ultimate indivisibility. But I didn't write this. You did. Did we?

  2. As writers, we're using our magic to bring out the truths we discover, and one of the best ways is via the story. I grok the arena you're working in here and looking forward to seeing a copy of the book on my nightstand.