For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

--St. Paul

It might be useful to resurrect the word "mynd," an archaic variant of "mind," to describe our peculiar way of looking at the world. Like Saul Steinberg's famous New Yorker cover with its bird's-eye view of the world as seen from 9th Avenue in Manhattan, we all have a severely foreshortened perspective on things, with the self looming large in the foreground and everything else crowding the horizon. It is not the world we see but my world, a first-person singular world in which everything in arranged according to its personal significance.

How do the contents of mynd differ from reality? It is no longer one world seen through countless eyes but countless worlds refracted through the individual pain and desire of each of its inhabitants. It is the difference between looking at the world through a window and looking at the world in a mirror. "The world is only the mirror of ourselves," Henry Miller wrote. "If it's something to make one puke, why then puke, me lads, it's your own sick mugs you're looking at!"

Many spiritual people set out to transcend the self. This is a bit like a hypochondriac seeking to cure himself of a disease. It's not that the self is an illusion exactly, but neither is it real. Certainly we all have a self and operate from the vantage point of self much of the time. Otherwise, who would answer when our name is called? But the self is never more than a useful fiction that enables us to hold up our end of the conversation.

We forget that we are merely players on a stage -- and bit players to boot. We quickly lose ourselves in the part, mistaking our few lines for a starring role and stumbling about with all the other walk-ons who think their roles were written expressly for them. What a strange performance it is! The whole show is performed for an audience of one, and that one exists only in the mynd, which means that in reality the show plays to an empty house.

Henry Miller, The Cosmological Eye

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