Hey Dan —
Great piece, thanks for sharing the musing.
One of your last lines, “If we were to somehow detach ourselves from it, who would that “we” be?” got me thinking. It seems that by “it” you mean reality, from which I agree we cannot detach ourselves (although that’s what most of us ostensibly do, believing we’re some separate entity from the whole). But an interesting tangent off that is the phenomenon of detaching ourselves from our experience of the reality we perceive, which you speak a lot about.
This comes largely from the Asian philosophies, prominently Buddhism, etc. But that question, what would happen to the “we” that we feel we are if we disentangled ourselves from the experience of reality, is rich, and the core of many spiritual quests. According to many Jñānis, the “we”, the true self beyond concepts and transiencies, is just pure consciousness, something that Jack Kornfield writes a nice little piece on.
In the end, I agree with you that even if we can all agree on some concept of an underlying self — a we beyond ephemeral experiences — we’ll never be able to adequately put it into words. Which is frustrating, because since we can’t communicate it to anybody, or truly read about it anywhere, if we’re interested in contemplating the nature of reality, or looking for it, we’ve no choice but to discover it for ourselves, within the depths of our experience; the parts that can’t be put into words.
Emerson had a good line on this:
“Whilst the doors of the temple stand open, night and day, before every man, and the oracles of this truth cease never, it is guarded by one stern condition; this, namely; it is an intuition. It cannot be received at second hand. Truly speaking, it is not instruction, but provocation, that I can receive from another soul. What he announces, I must find true in me, or wholly reject; and on his word, or as his second, be he who he may, I can accept nothing.”
Would love to hear what you think, thanks again for the great read.