In Search of the Prime Number

“Everyone’s looking for the prime number,” he says aloud to the empty auditorium. Echoes drift lazily from wall to wall.

“We’re looking for something that’s indivisible, that can stand on its own… that’s whole, perfect, and complete. That’s why we made God. That’s why we made emptiness, Suchness, and Buddha-nature. We’re on a perpetual quest for the lowest common denominator.”

He pauses mid-rant to take a sip of water. Like many, he spent most of his life searching for some kind of transcendent Ground, like a movie trying to glimpse the projector. Also like many, he was convinced that he’d found it on more than one occasion. But no matter how awe inspiring those sublime moments were, they left very little impact on his day-to-day life, on his behavior.

Some psychologists say that learning doesn’t just involve absorbing information, that something can only be said to be learned if it influences the way we relate with the world, the way we behave.

By that token, he’s learned very little.

“I want to believe in these comforting ideas, I want to be able to contrive some kind of understanding from these sublime experiences, but I can’t. At worst, I cling to something as Absolute, and I suffer and I cause others to suffer by being a jackass. At best, I see that my conclusions were invalid and move on.

“That’s what the Outer Way is all about: moving on. It’s about growing, learning, trying new things without planting myself into any category or abiding by any label—including the “Outer Way,” which is just an arbitrary phrase.

“The more I branch out on my own and the less I seek some kind of prime number, the more I feel like I’m on a Path, like I’m moving forward. It can be chaotic, but that’s life isn’t it?” A quaint silence replies.



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