Wound Consciousness and the Flower of Enlightenment

I am approaching an idea about wound/wounded consciousness. In part, the dampening of awareness that serves as an anesthetic brings as a corresponding cost a loss of those cognitive skills that have the potential to transform, and even transmute, the experience.

Reducing something to a dull ache numbs the pain, but at a cost of freezing the system in place. The lock on it all, the outer barrier of the frozen system, is shame. This lock is like a cell membrane, in that it presents certain levers, or triggers, to the outside world. By pushing these triggers, the cell-self responds in particular ways.

In short, a what the living system of the cell produces depends on what triggers it presents to the outside world. Change the membrane and the cell can act in different ways. Change the membrane and the cell sees a different world.

This relates directly, analogically, to the issue of birth/gestation trauma. Trauma during genesis develops a particular membrane, which then goes on to serve as the means by which an individual perceives, and so responds, to the world.

Childhood presents a similar genesis.

Going in the other direction, family lines present a similar genesis. Should there be a soul that reincarnates, this process would be one as well.

As does the birth of a nation.

And on top of it all, you have a cultural system that in effect breeds for, cultivates, this genesis of the shame layer; because the shame membrane presents certain handles to the outside world that can then be socially manipulated and employed.

It is, you might say, devilishly clever.

But, by bringing awareness to our wounds we might awaken the other membranes, and with their intelligences transform our relationship to the traumatic reality.

This, it seems to me, is where grief comes in. Because it’s not just a shame membrane, but a shame/grief membrane.

One last thing: There’s something deeply interesting in the way shame/grief is represented in the biblical story of the Fall, in that it is truly original. That is: shame/grief is a response to mortality itself. This was my dad’s response to his illness, which brought certain awareness of his mortality: shame/grief.

This is the core issue in Hamlet: shame/grief in response to death; with the additional element – also present in the Genesis story – of injustice.

GERTRUDE
Good Hamlet, cast thy nighted color off,
And let thine eye look like a friend on Denmark.
Do not forever with thy vailèd lids
Seek for thy noble father in the dust.
Thou know’st ’tis common. All that lives must die,
Passing through nature to eternity.

HAMLET
Ay, madam, it is common.

GERTRUDE
If it be,
Why seems it so particular with thee?

Why, in other words, does the necessary fact of death strike you as a reason for disconsolate, anti-social, woe? Hamlet’s response:

HAMLET
“Seems,” madam? Nay, it is. I know not “seems.”
‘Tis not alone my inky cloak, good mother,
Nor customary suits of solemn black,
Nor windy suspiration of forced breath,
No, nor the fruitful river in the eye,
Nor the dejected ‘havior of the visage,
Together with all forms, moods, shapes of grief,
That can denote me truly. These indeed “seem,”
For they are actions that a man might play.
But I have that within which passeth show,
These but the trappings and the suits of woe.

He says, in short, that his response is absolutely genuine. It is the response of his very being. In Hamlet, his “so particular” response is explained by the fact of the murder and his mother over-hasty marriage to her dead husband’s living brother. But, in genesis, the same basic feeling is explained as response to their tasting of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. This topic is accordingly touched on by Hamlet, obliquely, during his initial exchange with Rosencrantz and Guildenstern:

HAMLET
Denmark’s a prison.

ROSENCRANTZ
Then is the world one.

HAMLET
A goodly one; in which there are many confines
wards and dungeons, Denmark being one o’ the worst.

ROSENCRANTZ
We think not so, my lord.

HAMLET
Why, then, ’tis none to you; for there is nothing
either good or bad, but thinking makes it so: to me
it is a prison.

This Discontent occurs in a radically different context, as the foundation of Siddhartha’s quest for enlightenment. I have no idea to what extent shame and grief are significant in Buddhism, but the concern for the injustice in matters of life and death is manifest in the concern so magnified in some schools that it requires an extraordinary scrupulousness in avoiding the avoidable death of even an insect.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Portabella says:

    The Janists, right? Would avoid killing an insect or flattening a blade of grass.

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