Life With Toast

Static Illusions

I can see a pyramid from my desk. The Transamerica Pyramid isn’t Egyptain, but in a way it can feel just as eternal. Everyday, rain or shine, it stares at me, permanent. If I threw my desk back in time 20 years to the same place, it would have seen the same pinnacle. Many faucets of modern society give this static, unchanging atmosphere. For practical purposes - a city constantly crumbling would not work - it makes sense. But it’s also comforting to know that 5th street will be there even if you haven’t seen it for some time.


When we turn this permanent state-of-things inwards, we start to accumulate illusionary debt. The debt of self-doubt, of self-criticism and the debt of confidence “this is how things are”: I am X, this person is Y, this commute is Z. By believing in a unchanging world we constrict our conscious attention to broad strokes of generalizations. We are forced to square our unchanging views against a constantly changing world, the pieces don’t fit. In this way, we lose sight of impermanance, which is the true reality of the Transamerica tower, along with all experiences and physical forms. These debts - according to Buddhist philosophy - arise from a incorrect view of reality, which is clear of our filters we overlay on perceptions, and is by nature constantly in flux. In fact, you can verify this at any time. Look closely at anything you feel is stable, whether it is a skyscraper or idea about a loved one. It is not static, it vibrates and shakes and dances. Some cases this happens extremely slowly (e.g. a mountain), but take 5 minutes to track your mood, emotions and thoughts and you’ll feel the futility of constraining our experiences to some unchanging idea or view we have.

There is freedom in letting our static debt go. By seeing the impermenant nature of all things - the 2nd law of thermodynamics agrees here - the importance of our thoughts and attachments lessen. Just like when we are lifted from financial debt, static debt frees resources to use elsewhere. To use in gratitude, in appreciation of passing moments, in the shared cycles we are all a part of.