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About Stephan Stansfield

Stephan is the owner, creator, and editor of Peregrine Poise.
He is currently traveling and teaching around the world. When he is not helping others discover their true potential, he finds time to surf, read, and reflect on the important issues of living a good life.

Actuality and Abandon: The Potential You Cannot Reach (Or That Which Cannot Be Grasped)

Boundaries beyond comprehension impair our uniquely human experience as individuals.

Lacking the proper tools of self-realization, indeed our very lack of development towards refining our perceptive abilities, expanding our cognitive dissonances, and embracing our selflessness, one encounters the hindrances of limitation in experiencing what we call “‘being human.” Realizing our potential as humans, facing the core question/answer of who we are, consists of exploring our abilities and potentials that we simply -in our current, conditioned mental state- cannot reach. Of course we must always keep in mind the principle of reconciliation, we come again and again to coincidencia oppositorum, the mere fact that our potent plenum contains the impotent and we are forced to reconcile with it.

In his talk Warm Hand to Warm HandShunryu Suzuki speaks on three aspects of the human potential conveyed in the Buddhist context. He says, “The capacity of the human mind has three aspects: potentiality, interrelationship, and appropriateness.” Multidimensional in and of itself, the mind holds the secret to unlocking a better understanding of what we mean when we speak of potentiality. On one account, we may refer to the varying magnitude of the human mind as a better definition for our understanding of the term potential. Moreover, this notion of potency is better defined through its three basic congruities: the dimension of possibility (which is tied to practice and thus future possibility), our interrelatedness to the world, people, and things (here we must understand our bondedness to phenomena), and finally the value of rapture, felicity, or bliss. Without diving into each of these constituents now (as these are being explored in detail in later articles), we will continuation our exploration by entertaining the idea of negating these potent factors. Bare with me.

Despite our inability to use logistics in our encounters with the unknown, the potential we cannot reach does not mean that it is not a part of the human experience, a part of universal experience, but only that certain, indeed numerous potentialities  are simply untenable. Tremendous forces abound that we cannot put our meager human hold onto. This does and should not disqualify their existence, but rather humble our own tendency towards categorizing the entirety of human existence. Put simply, our tendency towards identification using labels and names slowly reduces the awareness towards awe when we encounter the abstract. Wonder is confined to daily life and  we absently miss the natural confrontation of one-pointed-ness (that so many teachers speak of) in front of our very faces.   

Setting psychic foot into the more subliminal potencies of universal experience, our grip upon reality slowly releases causing footstools to fade and where walking had once objectively appeared to be the most prevalent way of traversing our inner potentialities, a more conjoined one finds that even walking, in fact breathing, is no more than any other ‘ing’. Doing of our own ceases to the light of something en masse grandeur than our automated selves and machinations. Subjective reality appears as the hidden (or ignored) continuous force behind our own doing (hence, the priming of our usual objective focus is released), thus ceases the apprehension of the self-development process as we begin to identify with Actuality.

Throughout this process of emptying, one must (metaphorically) manage to sidestep the patterned passageways of personal thought. One must insist upon the non-avoidance of trevas, and put into practice pushing aside mental-chatter in order to allow oneself to sink into the natural gravity of the labyrinthal depths within us all all. In order to uncover Here, in order to find the minotaur, we do not lead ourselves to the center of the maze, but instead using our attentive, concentric force, dissolve the walls of our own self-armour where we always find our self in the center of a labyrinth beyond definition. By striking down one’s self and submitting to personal execution, one abides in the onslaught of personal decapitation where the opportunity to see clearly arises at the loss of the eyes. Transforming into headless man, thus a man without a self is carried to the gateways of bliss and thus equally destroyed in seeing the Holy. In spontaneous arrival, a man’s limitations and thus the entirety of the bounds of his/her potentials are placed before him. The hero cannot grasp beyond formation; he/she fumbles in experience sine control.

Within the walls of the formless boundaries of potentiation (and to be entirely clear -these walls are still of our own creation), one must cultivate claritas, clearly perceiving oneself as holy, to not only see and know, but primarily to accept (ultimately foregoing) forces, powers, and energies beyond the matrix of those that we have created in our own life. Affirmative acceptance in abandoning conceptual ties is crucial. Here we begin to realize potentials that cannot be held or grasped, seemingly useless potentials that cannot be clung to, potentials beyond our will, beyond time, and seemingly impossible to comprehend. Then again, we are headless so where are our thoughts of all this? 

In our diminishing capacities of the physical vessel, egotistical vicissitude, and in the upper echelons of our growing attention, we see there is constantly greater and greater depth to the universe. A universe beyond our conception, a universe beyond our individualistic control, and a universe that is barely within our reach, not in grasping, but in the realization that we are a part of the universe. When we begin to see deeply into the universe, accordingly into the plenitude of our very being, we commence in the process of dis-identification. It is only when we tire of grasping and accept that which can never be grasped, that we truly begin the process of letting go. Everything before was a simple practice of non-attachment. At this juncture, one integrates the process of authentic self-abandonment, a key fetter in the process of maturation.

As Alan Watts has concluded in the last page of his book, Beyond Theology, The Art of Godsmanship:  

“Not only is there no sense in clinging to what I am; the very act of clinging also implies that I do not really know that I am it! Such belief is merely doubt dressed up. The final meaning of negative theology, of knowing God by unknowing, of the abandonment of idols both sensible and conceptual, is that ultimate faith is not in or upon anything at all. It is complete letting go. Not only is it beyond theology; it is also beyond atheism and nihilism. Such letting go cannot be attained. It cannot be acquired or developed through perseverance and exercises, except insofar as such efforts prove the impossibility of acquiring it. Letting go comes only through desperation. When you know that it is beyond you-beyond your powers of action as beyond your powers of relaxation. When you give up every last trick and device for getting it, including this “giving up” as something that one might do, say, at ten o’clock tonight. That you cannot by any means do it -that IS it! That is the mighty self-abandonment which gives birth to the stars.”


Thank you Zift for the photo.

Minotaur magazine courtesy of The Guggenheim.