Each of us is an awe-inspiring creation made from more or less the same parts which come together to form an entirely unique being. But while everyone is an individual we all share at least one thing… It could even be argued that anything conscious, anything alive, even anything in existence shares this piece of knowledge. It is so inherent that all problems seem to stem from it: envy, wrath, gluttony, lust, sloth and greed. And for the reason that we all share it, we desperately want to ignore it.
We can approach what “it” is through how we communicate. Not all words offend all people, but there are certainly patterns of language that offend a majority of people. Although vulgar, lewd, or profane words don’t share an underlying meaning, they all seem to point to the same basic truth — a fear that we all share. While these may not have a particular order, I like to think of them in this way:
CURSE WORD ALERT — DO NOT CONTINUE IF YOU HAVE A ‘SENSITIVE DISPOSITION’
- Shit, piss, asshole (excrement or waste product)
- Fuck, cunt, cock (sexual reproduction)
- Damn, hell (death or the afterlife)
How are the meanings of these seemingly disparate words related?
They remind us of the boundary between our ‘selves’ and everything else.
And this is the one thing that we all invariably share: we all have an inside and an outside; a ‘me’ and a ‘you’; a body and an environment.
Our powerful disgust at gore (the innards of an animal), our extreme fear of death (the dissolution of bodily boundaries), and our illogical shame at sex (the unification of two individuals into one, unbounded body) provide evidence for this theory.
But these two distinct, physically separate spaces (in and out, myself and my context) are actually quite inseparable. Boundaries like our skin and the walls of our houses and the atmosphere around the earth are actually all illusions. Not in the sense that they don’t separate two distinct spaces, but in the sense that no boundary is absolute. No separation can possibly be real, since you can never remove ‘things’ from existence. It almost seems vital to our survival as individual units of experience to feel separated from each other by boundaries and space. Otherwise, how would we make self-serving decisions to keep our own body out of harms way? This mutual fantasy has many names; like perspective, subjectivity, consciousness, experience, etc etc.
We do have brief moments of clarity where we see the illusion as just that: a fantasy. We call this feeling ‘spirituality’ or ‘a religious experience.’ Many people attempt to seek out this knowledge, or ‘expand their minds’ by using psychoactive substances like LSD or mushrooms.
But we often forget that boundaries are proven false just by being, because we are composed of smaller pieces and we compose things bigger than ourselves. The cells that make up our bodies are undoubtedly alive, and while the definition of “individual organism” gets hazy here, they certainly have access to your insides… because they are your insides! Similarly, you have access to their insides because they are your insides…
On the bigger side of things, working for a company, or having a significant other, or living on earth makes you a part of a larger organism that has a life of its own. Legally speaking, corporations are ‘people’ too — they have physical bodies, motivations and goals, and they require the input of ‘energy’ and excretion of ‘waste’ in order to survive. In that sense you have access to the innermost workings of a living being, because you are a functioning piece of it!
The organisms that you compose have access to your insides, not in the technical way that a surgeon my have, but in the way that you have access to the insides of your cells — you are the same being.
And while we try to ignore this idea with all our might and label it “vulgar, lewd, profane, disgusting, fear-inducing, shameful” and many other words with horrid implications, there is no reason why it can’t and shouldn’t be uplifting!
Reminders that boundaries are an illusion necessarily imply that all things are connected. The fact that this can bring hope is evidenced by the pseudo-swear words: God and Jesus Christ. These words aren’t always considered profane, but when used “in vain” can be strongly offensive to some. ‘Faith’ has massively negative connotations for atheists and secular individuals (and I would know…), because it refers to a believe without evidence — that God exists. But I’ve come to see that “God” refers to the undeniable truth that all things are one, that we are but pieces in an unbelievably massive organism, and that every individual (no matter how big, or small, or inanimate) shares a perspective. Of course, when we confuse any individual perspective for “Truth” we get horribly confused and think that god might look like a man, or might actually be a single man, when God is really just Everything and Everything is really just God.
This can be troubling to the highly logical and the highly religious, but as any logician or theologian knows, all logical systems are flawed. There is no use in arguing, because no single perspective is true, or correct, or accurate. But all perspectives share the property of being, and, whether or not we want to admit it, that is enough to connect everything to everything else.