“A human being is a spatially and temporally limited piece of the whole, what we call the ‘Universe.’ He experiences himself and his feelings as separate from the rest, an optical illusion of his consciousness. The quest for liberation from this bondage [or illusion] is the only object of true religion. Not nurturing the illusion but only overcoming it gives us the attainable measure of inner peace.”Albert Einstein, 1950
“It’s all one big thing. The apparent good, the apparent bad, the apparent ugly. All of it can only be exactly as it is – one massive interrelated unfolding. In this sense, it is astonishing. The sheer force of it all. And here we are – somehow – bearing witness.”Where There Is War, There Is Art
On 12/21/2021, I had a vivid epiphany: Selfish desire is empty. When selfish desire is silent, shockingly, there is bliss. I felt disoriented. In the proceeding days, I found this. Clearly the author had been in my shoes, describing how I had felt (and still feel) quite viscerally. I’ve been sitting with this truth ever since.
On 2/23/2023, 430 days later, I experienced a second vivid epiphany, which seems so completely ordinary in writing, but from the inside, struck like a thousand lightning bolts. It came days after reflecting on where the world is headed, seemingly, chaotically.
I was having a difficult time – losing some sleep and up late – the only reasonable thing to do in response was sit, in stillness, and let things settle. In that sitting, came the following:
“My life is transforming radically from the inside. Continually reconciling my behaviors and impulses vs that of all known humanity so far as I can see, while at the same time, finding stillness again and again. Stillness creates space for truth. Ultimately the line blurs between ‘me’ and ‘all others’. I can find no exact line – it doesn’t exist. I am no ‘one’. We are all this. We are all part of this big massive mystery unfolding.
‘I am he as you are he as you are me and we are all together’
We, the ‘apparent’ separate entity- have no fucking idea what we are, where we came from, or or what drives us. We are quite literally a living mystery – us! All of us! Look at your own hands in awe! Look into outer space and say, holy fucking shit, that is ME! That is us! We are all it!
How can little you ever care about selfish dreams ever again?? You can’t! Life can only ever be a celebration of itself!
There is zero reason to be afraid.
There is nothing to lose.”
To say I fully grasp this would be silly. I need time. I’m not sure it’s worth writing much more, near term. Frankly, what more COULD be written here? In a way, this feels like the last piece of a jigsaw puzzle I didn’t recognize I was constructing. At the same time- I permanently humbled and excited, that I know so very little.
The next day, I typed “separation is illusion” into google, a term that encapsulates this perception. The first result was an excerpt from Einstein, among thousands of similar ones from various authors. While I may have fondly read this sort of thing before, and felt sympathetic abstractly, it feels direct, now.
In essence, no matter what happens in this apparent universe we share, it is undeniable to say we are all part of it. It is not us vs the universe. It is not us vs humanity, or factions of humanity. It is all one big thing. We can conduct ourselves in a way that feels golden, interact with this experience in a way that feels golden, but everything that happens is simply the massive universe doing what it will, around us and through us. It can never be bad or good or right or wrong. It just is.
At the very core of our essence, there is a knowing. This knowing is obscured by a lifetime of the fantastic machine known as our mind. But if one sits carefully, digging carefully through rubble of decades of sheer human life and mental fantasia, a relationship with this knowing can be kindled. From here, insights spring. (or so it would seem).
What comes of this knowing, in death? We cannot be sure. What we can be sure of, is it’s all OK. Both right now, and then. Empirically speaking, we were the mystery prior to experiencing this specific human life, and we will be the mystery after. When apparent separate entities are seemingly hostile and antagonistic toward other apparent separate entities, we might feel understandably disturbed, while simultaneously realizing there is a larger mystery at work, here. This realization a way of nullifying worry or concern.
A north star, then, might be living in light of this. Do apparent good, hold it all gently, and not worry so much. Explore human potential not for the sake of legacy or urgency, or fear of death. Explore because it is the very invitation you find yourself in possession of – on behalf of vastness. When the invitation expires – that’s quite alright. Serve others. Be good. Don’t hold on too tight. Have no fear, the absolute best experience in life is right now. Nothing will be missed, nor can you regret missing it. These are only mind games.
A deleted scene:
There is one split-second feeling that isn’t captured in my journal entry. That is, the feeling that life is a dream from some other place – unconfined by human perception.
Now, of course, this statement will perish immediately under critical scrutiny. Please note: this is unconcerned with scrutiny, nor does it need validation, nor does it matter.
I am merely saying that, this is something I felt. It is compatible with the experience above, but at the same time, not some kind of fortification.
Most practically, it is a reminder that CAN withstand scrutiny from billions of minds:
Life is a big fucking mystery – all of it – everything “out there” INCLUDING us, and everything “in here”. The only absurd thing is, we spend so much our lives not recognizing this. In fact, we tend to become highly skilled at ignorance late in life.
But of course, rehabilitation is not only possible but abundantly obvious. This is today’s greatest treasure – the “abundantly obvious” part. That is to say, it is possible to rehabilitate awe.
2 responses to “Separation Is Illusion”
Thought provoking stuff, and expertly written. Just wish I was as articulate as the author and I will have to read a number of times to take it all in, my mind is foggy.
Like the snippet from I am the walrus and the genius that was Jon Lennon.
I think it may persuade people to switch off the mindless TV go outside and look at the sky and reflect
Vicky, your words are kind. Whatever fondness you feel here- for Lennon, or others, consider it’s because you have the same within you. The same genius, the same capacity to articulate and appreciate what these words and poems are trying to refer to: a vast truth we are all connected to. Not as isolated individuals… but together. More than we can comprehend, but at the very least, we can see – we are it.