The Abyss of Want

disclaimer: this post is very silly and should not be taken seriously if you don’t take it seriously

If you ask the question ‘what do you want,’ and then follow it up with an infinite series of ‘why do you want that’, and ‘well why do you want that?’, it quickly gets murky.

When I took acid, my primary (goal?) activity was learning and fulfilling what I wanted. I realized that I wanted to become more confident. To fulfill this, I had to then realize what I actually wanted was to avoid the pain of rejection. To fulfill this, I had to then realize what I actually wanted was to know myself more. To fulfill this, there was more to know, and more to do, and more to know…
Over time I progressed down each rung of the ladder, shedding bits of myself each step, until I got to what I thought was the bottom. I thought it was the bottom for a long time. It went like this:

“I want nothing. I am nothing. I know nothing. I am no one. I have no attachment, because there is no one to have it. There are no beliefs. There is no difference between what ought to be and what is.”

I had wanted to fulfill my wants. The fulfillment of want meant the abolition of want, for a fulfilled want is no longer a want at all – and such was the floor of the abyss. In full self knowledge, there was nothing else to look for.

I was a mess of contentment. I was nothing, I was dead.

The experience of being dead is a funny thing to think about, because we always substitute something in to serve as a model for ‘death.’ We think about being huddled in a dark room forever, or sleeping, or the loss of everything we loved, or a great cloaked figure with a scythe, or our loved ones who’ve passed – but death isn’t any of these things. As soon as you think about “what death is,” you aren’t thinking about death at all, you’re thinking about an experience that you might have. What “death is” is every experience you are not having, right now, and haven’t before, and will never have again.

Subjective death, by its own definition, is impossible to understand, and that which is definitionally incomprehensible is synonymous with nonexistence.

I’m attempting to explain the reason why the floor of the abyss was not the end. Life is inevitable. The movement away from nothingness is an absolute necessity.

The floor opened up and I fell (because falling was an absolute necessity) to a level that looked familiar. And it was here that I realized that moving away from wanting nothing meant that now I had to want something, because what else is there?

I wanted to feel tension again, answerless and longing. I wanted to unknow what I had learned. I didn’t want to feel the benevolent god of my own watching eye, in all its infinite love, destroying my ability to feel unsatisfied – because being something again meant being unsatisfied.

I was back at the beginning, and it was here I saw that the abyss of want was a circle.

This realization was deeply humbling. A good friend once told me that the very last trap on the path to enlightenment is thinking that you are enlightened, and this has come back to knock me down again and again. The circle brought me right back around to where I had been before, to where everyone else had already been all this time. What I’d ‘truly’ wanted was to feel desire, and everyone else had already been doing it. I felt a little sheepish, that I’d had the audacity to think my chase had been better than anyone else’s. Everyone I’d looked down on, even a little – deeply religious people, shallow people, angry people, ‘overly rational’ people – they were all exactly where I was, desiring things even more than I was. They were the ones who had beaten me to my destination, without even moving.

Enlightenment is a great joke. Enlightenment is nothing at all. I am something now, clinging hard to somethingness, and so I am not enlightened. Neither are you, or any other something in existence; really, you should only try to go get enlightened if you are fond of great jokes.

13 thoughts on “The Abyss of Want”

  1. While I agree that the answers are already all around us, it is less that they are enacted and more how and that we realize them. In coming to hear more clearly your approach and nature you can more readily choose rather than feel directed. I don’t think that people have their own approach lessens the realization, and that what you gained was liberty from expectations within yourself, something we can release but often are not even aware of.

    It sounds though like rather than approaching nothing you approached a desire for absolution through ablution of oblivion. Then perhaps got attached to this idea of nothing because it was a goal in knowing, and realized that what this was not an answer, merely a confusion and lacked the luster it seemed to from the distance.

    While you are coming back to feeling, have you come to know the feelings of both having and not having better?

    Life is for the living, I always thought it odd that people would put themselves above the nature of life. It can be nice to pretend we can slice off parts of our self to simplify and find simplicity. Life is simplistic though, we just have a complex time putting it into other frames.

    The last conflict of enlightenment I’ve found is that of manifestation and that with all we have, all we know, all we can do, for others all we can do is walk with them through their woods, or make them thornier. It might be worth noting them is as much our self for us as others.

    Where has this taken you now?

    1. I figured Nietzsche would have something to say around Rumi. I’ve always felt Rumi to be much more fleurid prose and poetry than consciousness, a good mirror if you like gilded bars but as Nietzsche came towards his end he stepped out of nihilism’s common misconception a bit and made his own fleurid poetry

      “Man is something that shall be overcome. Man is a rope,tied between beast and overman – a rope over an abyss.What is great in man is that he is a bridge and not an end.”
      ― Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarathustra

      Not really an awakening, but amidst all statements I think there is more truth if the meaning is read and the feeling is heard, than the words and the symbolism implied.

  2. reading this remind me of a close friend who once told me that for him to really understand/be/move forward (or it’s opposite depending the case, i believe) it was shifting. shifting between ways and of doing, being, thinking, every th ing. And yes, true, never trust a buddha right? but i feel so much siddhartha speechs (hesse) in those and these words/ideas. anyway i liked the post.. thanks

  3. I was driving home from my cousin’s house after a night of hanging out and playing MtG with him and some friends. It was foggy out–he lives in the middle of nowhere, half an hour north of Baltimore–and I was pretty fucking high, just listening to music as I drove along a route I’d driven plenty of times before. This time, however, the fog made it difficult to see past what was immediately outside my windows, and only a fraction of the distance my headlights could shine ahead of me. The sum of these factors was an experience of complete isolation from others and the outside world, coupled with the comfort of absolute familiarity with my immediate surrounding, and devoid of any need to think about my actions; driving was purely a function of my procedural memory and required no real thought on my part. Essentially, I was just there, comfortable, alone, doing nothing but existing for the duration of this ride through the fog. One of the only significant or substantial thoughts I remember having at this time was that this experience was the best metaphor for death I had ever experienced: to be alone, disconnected from all people, and without any demands imposed upon my conscious being. It was neat, for a while, but I was more than a little relieved when the fog lifted closer to the city, and I was once again driving in the real world full of people and things and demands and desires.

  4. You’ve articulated something I’ve been unable to. This something is the reason I can’t seem to get past this rut in my life. I thought I had purpose. I thought I was on “my track to enlightenment.” My interests were contrived. This is contrived. And now there’s nothing. I’m a boring and useless. Where do I go from here? Where are you going from here?

    1. I don’t think contrived or artificial is devoid of meaning. I believe that is something Aella was speaking towards. The nothingness though is as much a something we imagine as any other contrived aspects. The question isn’t what we are when we reject, but what we are when we don’t need rejection or objectifying. It is not the contrived things that disturb, but that they are contrived without us or meaning. It is hard to jump ahead of ourselves, and perhaps hearing where you are before you try to get to your final destinations will help you see what is both around you now and where you are when you get there.

  5. I haven’t done much acid, but I can relate to this realization. I used to be disconnected from my emotions, and therefore I did not know what I really desired. I was an ‘overly rational’ person so instead of trying to regain feeling I tried to think my way out of it. “What should I desire? What could I desire that would be best for humanity?”

    But desire doesn’t work like that. I ended up very depressed.

    Coming out of the depression involved reconnecting to my feelings and thus forming desires and interests.

    1. Thank you. I found your comment to be extremely valuable and a great insight on what I’m currently attempting to work through.

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