WTF is Liminosity?

For starters, it’s not a typo for luminosity.

Something is liminal if it’s in transition. The term was first use by anthropologists studying coming of age tribal rituals. At a certain part in the ceremony, the participants social roles would all fade away and they’d be lose themselves in happening.

Liminal events are packed with potential. They’re pregnant with a degree of meaningful chaos that can only be found in moments of true freedom. To the onlooker, they might seem disorganized. To the participant, there’s a flow to such moments that reveals a deeper order to things.

From this liminal space, the members of the tribe being celebrated would emerge with their new roles. Children emerge as adults, lovers as newlyweds, the warrior as a chief, the apprentice as the master.

Liminosity is a flavorful word describing the quality of the situation—its nature. A poetic term to describe such events in retrospect.

Liminal and liminosity are fantastic translations of anicca or impermanence.

Impermanence doesn’t quite convey the whole meaning of anicca. Constant change also falls short. Words are power tools; they’re crafted to do a certain job, but the task itself is what prompts their creation.

Despite moment of Suchness being indescribable, words are important. Learning a new word can totally influence the way you view things, words can open up parts of our minds that were inaccessible without them.

Liminal is word like that. All things are liminal, they’re in a state of constant transition perpetually becoming other than they are. The man who began typing this has already become something new. The moods and conditioning present at the beginning have already shifted gears.

Without memory, I’d have no knowledge of that former self. This means that, beyond the mind’s clever design to craft a sense of continuity, there was no former self at all. How could there be when everything is perfectly transitory?

That experience, of the unfiltered flow of the liminal, is liminosity—a quality of the whole that applies equally to all the parts.

In liminosity, all roles, labels, and divisions are arbitrary functional misunderstandings. They’re functional because, well, without those misunderstandings it’d be tough to function to all.

It’s tough to eat, drink, sleep, go to work and have sex if you don’t perceive separation and continuity. That’s why it’s harmful to seek prolonging liminal moments beyond their scope. No one can dwell in raw liminosity. Hell, dwelling in it would be the antithesis of it.

You can’t be a Buddha all the time, you can’t be just Awake all the time. When the moment demands you to be wholly Awake, you’ll be Awake. When it doesn’t, you won’t be. But that lesson lingers on and continues to shape your path without you needing to do much of anything to cultivate it besides observing the liminal nature of all things.



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