The headless squid bowl sometimes served in Japanese restaurants is odd and fascinating. It strikes me as a metaphor for the cosmos: it goes without a head. How strange. In a sense, even conscious beings like ourselves go without a head as well. When you think about it, who really thinks your thoughts? Do you think your thoughts, or do they just come to you? Aren’t your thoughts happening because neurons stimulated by some combination of genetic and environmental factors trigger them? The neurons themselves are not conscious, and yet they are a condition of your thinking anything at all. Neurons fire in response to stimuli, and you write a blog post, or go to a Japanese restaurant–or, ewww!–avoid both of them. This is what Zennies might call the spontaneous Buddha mind in action, always present and on the move, and which we can discover directly for ourselves to be the case by simply pausing and calmly noticing it dancing all around us and in us. Who are we? We are, collectively, a Mutually Interdependent Arising, the Spontaneous Buddha Mind, the Interconnected Headless Squid. Something like the atheist’s Flying Spaghetti Monster. Yikes.
Think of this Japanese haiku:
The old pond.
A frog jumps in.
No telling how those reverberations will play out. The idea is something like what the novelist Don DeLillo writes in his novel White Noise:
Who knows what I want to do? Who knows what anyone wants to do? How can you be sure about something like that? Isn’t it all a question of brain chemistry, signals going back and forth, electrical energy in the cortex? How do you know whether something is really what you want to do or just some kind of nerve impulse in the brain? Some minor little activity takes place somewhere in this unimportant place in one of the brain hemispheres and suddenly I want to go to Montana or I don’t want to go to Montana.
Isn’t it odd to discover you have no head? That the cosmos has no head?