Starfish Division

The starfish gestured to the side of the tide-pool, where a deep mark had been cut into the rock. “What do you make of that?” he asked.

Nin hopped over and studied the gouge—the depth, the width, the angle. “I would say this is the mark of an eagle’s claw.”

“Right you are! You have not seen the eagle, but by its interaction with the rock, you know of its existence. This is how beings come to know themselves—by their interactions with the world, and with other beings. By living and gathering experiences—by leaving claw marks on the walls of the world—they come to understand their essence and their nature.”

The starfish crawled his way to the wall and ran an arm over the eagle’s mark. “Imagine you are nothing but a jellyfish, floating in an endless, featureless sea. No stimulation, just a calm unchanging blue. How could you know yourself? With no stimulus there can be no response, and with no response there can be no introspection. I have often thought that the world exists only for our benefit, to use as a mirror and canvas.”

“But if I am a mirror for you, and you are a mirror for me, are we not of the same essence?” asked the starfish. “Are we all just separated and self-aware pieces of some greater whole?”

The starfish flexed its spindly body. “But what kind of thing would divide itself—hurt itself—to know itself? Would I tear off my own arm just to know the shape of it? Ah! How frustrating!”

Nin had no answer to these questions.