Casey: We’re not OK that death is coming. What does that mean?
CSH: You’re clinging on to the kind of consciousness that a body has. Matter, generally, is conscious. But when you organize it into networks that allow it to toss things around in a spacetime rhythm and manage a body for food, safety, and reproduction, then a higher-order of implementation arises which is conditioned and impermanent, but which has a kind of vividness of reality. Out of MEST arise certain striving or negentropic forms, and these have another kind of reality—the mereological pseudo-reality of a composite. For Aristotle, the only composites which count as real are those with an internal negentropic striving, not just composites that persist for reasons of inertia.
So there are two levels: substance (subatomic particles, the real realities) and, on top of this, systems of relations of substance. There is clay, and then there is the shape of that clay. The shape of the clay has secondary reality; the clay itself, primary reality. But some shapes have an almost-primary reality, and these are shapes of living organisms. They contain an inner life that works to maintain the shape over time, so that the shape-maintenance is itself a force and so a proper being (unlike the being of the bowl-shape). Outer biological shape is really just the expression of inner physics.
Another analogy: the cell vs the organism. The “basic unit” of life is “really” the cell. What is alive, then, are your cells. The shape they happen to be arranged in is outside the basic units (literally). The shape is a higher order of implementation, like the Mac OS riding on top of machine language, which being closer to the infrastructure of the computer’s material being is more real.
And an organism, in turn, is a cell in a social body. Is the social body “real?”
We identify with our corporeal and sensory existence. And then we try to network our existence in sensation through a literal mechanics. We’re bringing matter together into a system of grocery stores, delivery trucks, beds, … . We’re secreting beds and chairs and tables into the material Lego box from which we ourselves are made, so that our DNA pattern snake can have a happy little reality to flow through. Our DNA pattern snake is flowing around a Lego box and is playing with the different Legos to create a nicer and nicer Havingness for itself. It wants nicer and nicer material Havingness.
But you die. So you have to let go of having. Death is just a Havingness eraser. Yeah! Death is a having eraser—that's all.
Casey: You know what I think is really disturbing to think about? Someone like the Dalai Lama doesn't actually produce himself, but relies on people producing things for him.
CSH: That's right. You have to have surplus to have such a person.
Casey: Not just giving him food, but things like a temple, and things …
CSH: Someone's getting surplus value. And other people are losing value. That's right. It's feudal. That's why the Chinese are really strident in their ethical anti-Tibetanism. Because it really is feudal. Mao was like, “WTF? Slaves and god-kings? Are you guys serious?" So Mao was actually trying to be helpful. And the Dalai Lama says that he's a Marxist in his autobiography from 1991. Oh, I lived with Tibetans in Dharamsala for a year, and I always enjoyed bringing this up, and making other pro-Marxism comments.
Casey: The Dalai Lama, as opposed to most of his followers, is so incredibly political, it's strange.