Below is a demonstration of Troxler fading, which is my way of showing that life is a movement. While fixating your gaze on the black crosshairs, you should notice the lilac colored dots slowly disappear from your peripheral vision, and then reappear again whenever you slightly shift your gaze on the cross hairs.
There are many ways to demonstrate this phenomenon, but this one was chosen because most can experience the effect quickly. From a scientific perspective, the phenomenon is attributed to adaptation of the neurons in the visual cortex, (and jazzed up a bit with some tricky coloring and visual stimulation) and this adaptation applies to all sensory systems.
It's possible to create a similar effect with a simple tiny black dot on a white sheet of paper. The goal is to fixate on the dot without shifting away from, or around, the dot. The dot that you're looking directly at will eventually disappear. It does so for the same reason that low level background noises fade, and odors (like our own body odor) cannot be detected. However, this principle operates in a much larger context of experience itself, and that's what I want to talk about.
Neuronal adaptation is a fancy way of saying sensory perception operates by detecting change, or what I'll refer to more generally as movement. If it doesn't move in some relative way in relation to the perceiver, it cannot be experienced. This may be a sensory stimulation or change in stimulation, or the arising of a thought or feeling.
In other words, it applies to the entirety of our experience because it is fundamental to experience itself, to the process of perceiving. The experience of life is the experience of movement, which lends a new meaning to the cliche, 'The only constant is change'. The idea that life is experienced only as a movement has some far reaching implications.
Thoughts and feelings are experienced only as they arise and fall, and there is no such thing as a static thought or feeling. If a thought or feeling appears to be 'stuck', it's only because we stimulate that thought or feeling (using thoughts) repeatedly in order to create that illusion. All thoughts and feelings are fleeting and cannot become oppressive unless we expend a great deal of effort to make them so. It also means that no feeling, good or bad, can remain unchanged as an ongoing part of our experience. It also explains why we DO keep recreating certain thoughts and feelings. The ego itself, being no more than a collection of thought movements, literally vanishes unless we continually recreate the movement of those thoughts. And we become unfeeling unless we continually recreate feeling as momentary movements. There's a strong motivation to continue both the self identity and the feelings.
The most meaningful implication is that nothing that is permanent can ever be experienced by mind, though of course it's only important if there is, in fact, something permanent. There is something that you already know before you have any thoughts about it: you know that you exist. You don't know anything about what that is because it is not moving, but you know that you must be present before anything can move in your field of experience. You know that it never changes, and it can never appear precisely because it never changes, and yet this 'presence' is more obvious than any part of your life experience.
You can never experience your own existence, as such, through a mind that can only experience movement. All that you can experience is the expression of that existence in the form of movement. This existence is itself formless, and is the only existence there is. This is what some call God, and if the essence of existence could move, then mind would be able to experience that essence rather than just that essence as it 'moves'. And so I say, what you are is God dancing in front of a mirror, admiring your own reflection.
Other 'Philosophy of Life' articles: