The Gestalt image for me is a personification of the yin/yang, an abstract symbol in human form, in a story. The Princess and the Hag is story or metaphor that points to an abstract principle or formula of life, life’s recipe with which experience is cooked and served. We eat the serving of life, and ask, “Who made this? Can I have the recipe?” But if the meal is bad, we also want to know who made this crap so we can never go to that restaurant again.
If we could have the recipe we would know how we make our experience either good or bad, either a princess or a hag. But in our reality map, experience is created either by God the Cook or random nature. The meal was planned by someone, or an accident, but either way we don’t have the recipe. The Cook won’t give away his recipe. But are we asking the wrong question? Do we have the wrong assumption?
What if I am the cook of my experience and don’t know it. If I just had the recipe? What if I have the recipe but it’s unconscious. I’m cooking in my sleep and eating what I cook when I’m awake, thinking someone else, God, demon, or fate cooked my meal.
But someone or something is cooking this life up. Who is it? Is the Cosmos (Nature) cooking it? Is Life cooking it? Is God or Satan cooking it? Or is it just an accidental cooking, something thrown together without a recipe or purpose. We seem to oscillate between these answers, never settling on one. If I were cooking my life, then why do things go wrong?
I keep coming back to the Comparing Mind, the dual mind, the worldly mind that perceives the world and itself as being either low or high, the Princess or the Hag. Our acculturated mind is a cleaver that divides the Princess (good) from the Hag (bad) and then chases the Princess and runs from the Hag. When we catch the Princess, She turns into the Hag. When we catch pleasure, we get sick of it. Nothing is fixed. Nothing is permanent. The Princess cannot be permanent.
Who is the cook of this mess? My comparing mind is the hidden cook. Whatever life serves me I compare it with the known, my memory, and accept or reject it. But no matter if I accept it, it can always be better, and if it is perfect, how long does that last?
Restless, we roam the kitchen of the world looking for the perfect lasting meal. Oh…wait..now I’m thinking of Anthony Bourdain. No wonder he committed suicide. He realized there was no end to his wandering.
What is the end of our exploring? As TS Eliot wrote: When we come upon where we started and see it for the first time.
Seeing the meal for the first time, even though we have eaten it before, is the state of innocence, before we are conditioned with the comparing mind by our culture as manifested through our parents.
Milking the Gestalt metaphor for the last drop, the state of innocence is when we see the image for the first time and see nothing but an ink blot. That is the ONE before Two is born by the cleaver of the comparing mind.
But this doesn’t mean you can’t prefer this over that, it just means the when you cleave reality into this and that, both are equally good, yet you prefer one over the other. Everything is potential. Whatever you fix, turns into its opposite given enough time.
So, now I see that I’m the Cook, but there is no recipe. I just make my world out of the stuff given to me. There is no good or bad stuff, there is just stuff, just what’s given in my historical place and time, in this moment. But wait, there must be a recipe, a formula. This is it: no matter what I gather, what I’m given, I always create in integrated meal. My formula is to restore the One that refers always to the inkblot that is the source of the princess and the hag. This ONE is present in either pole of the divided reality. But it is transcendent of the princess and the hag. The Princess and the Hag are transparent to the transcendent or the Ink Blot source, that is always present but never perceived.