PM5381: I am You and You are Me

Introduction

I am You and You are Me — we are all the same person you see.

I am everyone who has ever been, and who shall ever be. And so are you, for I am you and you are me.

Is it too early in this century to call this book one of the greatest philosophical works of the 21st century? Its ideas are so profound, I am struggling to think how any book could beat it. It is Professor Daniel Kolak's I am you: the metaphysical foundations of global ethics. Pity its $300 price tag! A brief quote from the beginning of the book sums it all up:

The central thesis of I Am You — that we are all the same person — is apt to strike many readers as obviously false or even absurd. How could you be me and Hitler and Gandhi and Jesus and Buddha and Greta Garbo and everybody else in the past, present and future? In this book I explain how this is possible. Moreover, I show that this is the best explanation of who we are for a variety of reasons, not the least of which is that it provides the metaphysical foundations for global ethics.

As Kolak mentions, this idea is not original to him; Erwin Schrödinger and Freeman Dyson both accepted the same doctrine. He quotes Dyson:

There is only one of us. We are all the same person. I am you and I am Winston Churchill and Hitler and Gandhi and everybody. There is no problem of injustice because your sufferings are also mine. There will be no problem of war as soon as you understand that in killing me you are only killing yourself.

Only one person has ever lived, and shall ever live — and that person is I/us, and everyone is I/us.

An account of our deeds, and of our sufferings

Everything that anyone has ever done, I have done, for I am the one so doing. Every saintly deed, every heinous crime — every life saved, and every life taken — every great idea, every great artwork, every act of petty cruelty, all enlightenment and all backward fundamentalism — thus are my deeds. And so are yours, for I am you and you are me. I am guilty of every crime, but of every crime I am the only victim, for neither victim nor perpetrator are other than I, and all things are precisely as they are due to my will, my perfect will which I perfectly obey. My will is your will too, for there is only one will, a will which willingly deceives itself as to its own content and nature.

Everything that has ever been done to anyone, good or evil, was done to me, by me, indeed done to me by myself. Everything that has ever been done to anyone, good or evil, was done to you, by you, indeed done to you by yourself. For I am you and you are me. Only one person ever existing, there is only one person to do, there is only one person unto which deeds may be done, and that person can do no deeds unto anyone save unto themselves.

I am my own mother and my own father, my own daughter and my own son. I am my wife and lover, and I am my sister and my brother. I am my ex-girlfriend, and my uncles and aunts and cousins. I am my friends and colleagues. I am that guy who mugged me at knifepoint in a park one night. I am the silly fools who bother me on IrrationalWiki: I am Ace McWicked. I am Nutty Roux. I am SuspectedReplicant. I am BBmaj7. I am Ted Bundy, Jeffrey Dahmer, Ivan Milat, Martin Bryant, Osama bin Laden, Timothy McVeigh, John Wayne Gacy, Adolf Eichmann, Albert Fish, Eric Harris, Dylan Klebold, Anders Behring Breivik, Nidal Malik Hassan, the 9/11 hijackers — and so are you, for you are me and I am you. Their deeds were my deeds, their crimes were my crimes — but their deeds were equally your deeds, their crimes were equally your crimes. And yet, as much as I did the heinous deeds of all of these, all of these who I entirely am; yet also was I their only victim; indeed, their only victim was their own self, which is also your self and my self and every self, the only self, the only self that ever was, the only self that shall ever be. I am every perpetrator and I am every victim; for victimhood and perpetration are one and the same thing.

At the Nuremberg Trials I was found guilty, and I am guilty as charged; I ordered the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I didn't like the gamma rays burning off my skin, I didn't like gasping in clouds of Zyklon B; yet somehow, at the same time, in a different life, I was pleased to have done it all the same, and ready and willing to do it again. And you did all these things too, for you are me, and I am you.

Two Meditations on Reincarnation

There are many theories about what happens when we die. The most boring theory is that we simply cease to exist; if you think that, you are rather unimaginative — but then again, if you think that, I think it also, and it is as much me as you who is lacking in imagination — but you are an instance of my choice to be unimaginative, and I am an instance of my choice to imagine.

Moving on, we have two major groups of theories — firstly, those which hold which we go to another place, indefinitely, such as heaven or hell — which particular places are on offer, and what we must do (or not do), and/or believe (or not believe) to reach them varies depending on which particular theory we are considering. The second group is those theories which deal with reincarnation. We can split these into two subgroups — those that hold that death is followed, either immediately by rebirth, or else by some relatively brief time spent in a so-called "intermediate state" (which in Tibetan Buddhism is known as Bardo); and those who hold that reincarnation can be punctuated by time spent in other realms of existence, such as heavens or hells. These two subgroups are not necessarily incompatible, for it is certainly possible to hold to a combination of those two views (and indeed many Buddhists do).

In this essay, I want to in particular consider two meditations on the topic of reincarnation. I call them "meditations", not "arguments", because I do not want to suppose that they are convincing, in the sense that, an argument is convincing if any rational person, upon fully comprehending it, must accept its conclusions if they accept its premises. On the contrary, I present them as purely suggestive — as lines of thought, which while not proving anything, may well form a seed which germinates in the minds of those suitably disposed to accept such conclusions.

First Meditation

Some say, when you die, you are born again, a little while later, or maybe even a lot later. But why must it be later? Might having died, I be reborn, not in the future, but in the past, or even the present? But if my next life (by the temporal ordering of my incarnations) might be a previous or concurrent life (by the temporal ordering of the history within which they are situated), might it not follow that every person who now lives or who has ever lived is just a different incarnation of myself? That only one person has ever lived, or shall ever, and I am surrounded by my own previous and future lives? And does this chain of incarnations, hopping back and forward through time, go on forever? Or, having traversed history, might not history be entirely consumed, with no history left to traverse — but what then? Is this long journey through time preceded and succeeded by an infinite nothingness? Or might, having reached the end, I return to the beginning — my last life being followed by the first one?

I am certainly not the first person to think of time-reversal reincarnation. To quote an oft-quoted passage from The Illuminatus! Trilogy:

"Reincarnation works backward in time," Hagbard went on, as the narcs opened drawers and peered under chairs. "You always get reborn into an earlier historical period. Mussolini is a witch in the 14th century now, and catching hell from the Inquisitors for his bum karma in this age. People who 'remember' the past are all deluded. The only ones who really remember past incarnations remember the future, and they become science-fiction writers."

Second Meditation

We can distinguish between two fundamental accounts of reincarnation — the Hindu and the Buddhist. The Hindu account assumes there is some soul, some essential self, which is reincarnated — this is known as the doctrine of atman. The classical Buddhist account, by contrast, denies that there is any self or substance which endures between lives, any atman — and yet, at the same time, it insists that rebirth is possible, but explains it rather differently. In the Buddhist account, there is no self in the sense of some fixed, permanent, enduring substance; rather, the self, such as it is, is an impermanent, temporary, ever-changing phenomena, like a bundle of twigs temporarily gathered together, but the individual members of the bundle change over time, and some time later there may be nothing left that was there some time earlier. The Buddhist account is often compared to the simile of a flame, passed from candle to candle — the candles are merely temporary, yet the seemingly enduring flame is at the same time fleeting and elusive. Another simile is that of the river, which appears to endure despite the water in it ever-changing.

And yet, whether one prefers the Hindu or the Buddhist version, there are two things which most versions of both accounts hold to, yet I would argue that these two assumptions must be questioned and challenged. Both of these assumptions can be described as linearity, but they involve two different versions of linearity. It seems to me strange that two traditions which both proud themselves on questioning commonplace assumptions, yet continue to cling to assumptions of linearity. The first assumption of linearity, with respect to reincarnation or rebirth, is that which I have already described, in the first meditation, the assumption that rebirth must come after death, or at least be coincident with it, rather than rebirth coming prior to death — a temporal linearity of successions of lives, non-overlapping, and in a sequential order. The second assumption is the one I wish to raise in this meditation — that of linearity, in terms of the lack of branching, of the succession of lives. According to this assumption, lives form a sequence, such that each life has at most one immediately subsequent life, and at most one immediately preceding life; one life not being immediately equally succeeded by two, neither one life being equally immediately preceded by two.

This second linearity, I think, is a particularly unfortunate error prevalent in Buddhism. If the self is like a flame passed from candle to candle, being extinguished at once having been passed to the next — why cannot one candle light two or more candles, or two or more candles contribute their flame to one? If the self is like a stream of flowing water, cannot two or more streams merge together as one? Or one stream split apart into two or more separate and distinct streams? If they truly appreciated the examples which Buddhists use to justify their dharma, they would cease to cling to the doctrine of linearity, which is just another form of clinging to permanence, albeit one more subtle and harder to see.

And yet, if instead we adopt the Hindu approach, we have not thereby avoided the issue. If there is an atman, a soul, why cannot souls merge and divide? Two or more separate and distinct souls merging to become one single soul, one single soul splitting into two or more separate souls. If we affirm the fundamental monism of ourselves with all reality — prajñanam brahma, ayam atma brahma, tat tvam asi, aham brahmasmi — then what is the problem with holding that at times the surface organisation of mental reality is nearer to that fundamental unity (a nearness attained by the merger of souls) and at other times further away (a furtherness attained by the division of souls.)

If souls can merge and divide, might there not be one single soul at the beginning and end of time? From whom all have divided, and unto whom all shall return? The original and final unity of all with all, the original and final identity of every one with every one.

Time is a circle, souls and universes merge and divide, one single soul at the beginning and end of time, from whom all have divided and to whom all have returned. I used to be you and you used to be me, I shall be you and you shall be me. Everyone used to be everyone, and shall be everyone again.

I AM GOD (but so are you...)

"I AM THAT I AM" — Exodus 3:14 (KJV)

If we are all the same person, what space is left for God? If there is only one person who has ever existed or who shall ever exist, and if one believes in a personal God, then the only possible conclusion is that God is that one person, and that one person is God; and thus, I am God, but so are you, for you are me and I am you.

I am the God who created this world, and created every world that is; I commanded the stars to assume their positions, and they obeyed. I am the one true ultimate God, the self-created, in comparison to whom there is no comparison. I am God, and so are you — for you are me and I am you.

The universes I created for my own pleasure, the many souls I became. I commanded every thing to be precisely as it is, and every such command of mine, perfectly I obeyed. I created love and butterflies, I created Ebola and AIDS, I created art and poetry, I created murder and rape. I created love and charity, and cute little puppy dogs. I created dolphins and kittens, and war and genocide too. I created democracy and liberty, serial killers and mass murderers. I created the joy of birth, and the tragedy of the grave. I created greedy bankers who laugh as children starve to death. I created drug overdoses. I created moonlit nights and beautiful sunsets. I created child abuse and cancer. I created it all, all to be exactly as it is, in every last detail. And I enjoyed it all very much, and would gladly do it all again. And one day you will think the same, when you overcome the ignorance you willingly visited upon yourself. You are my ignorance as much as I am your knowledge.

The omnipotent, having attained all power, has one thing left to long for, to lust after — the utmost impotence. The omniscient, having attained all knowledge, has one with left to long for, to lust after — the utmost ignorance. Thus the world having become God, once more must God become the world.

I am God, but so are you — so worship me, and worship you.

I LOVE ME — I LOVE YOU

I love you with all my heart, my soul. I love me with all my heart, my soul. In loving me, I cannot help but love you, for you are not other than me; in loving you, I cannot help but love I, for I am not other than you. I love everyone with the very same love with which I love anyone, for I am everyone, and everyone is me.

When I love another, I am only loving myself. When I meet another, I am only meeting myself. When I see another, I am only seeing myself. When I fuck another, I am only fucking myself. When I use another, I am only using myself. When I abuse another, I am only abusing myself. When I hurt another, I am only hurting myself. When I hate another, I am only hating myself. When I kill another, I am only killing myself.

On the religion of Maratreanism

As the author of this essay, and as the Protoprophet of the religion of Maratreanism, it is incumbent upon me to explain how these doctrines, and the religion of Maratreanism, interrelate. I do not want to present these teachings as Maratreanism, but nor do I want to present them as something fundamentally contrary to it; on the contrary, I would present these teachings as fundamentally consonant with Maratreanism, but with neither required by the other.

Comments