When you’re fully and happily engaged with an open focus, say, when lying on a beach or enjoying good company, this activity tends to subside. When you are feeling misunderstood or devalued, or when you are concentrating and trying to shut out extraneous activity, this sense of self moves more to the foreground.
This contraction, combined with our ability to think about ourselves in the third person, gives rise to the objectivised sense of self as one who stands over and against his or her world, as one thing amongst others and who constantly strives to secure themselves against the flux of life and death. Thus I experience myself as separated from life.
This separation creates a nostalgia and yearning to reconnect. The name we give to our lost sense of connection is ‘God’. Frequently, when asked about their wellbeing, people will reply, “Getting there.” Where (apart from a grave) are we all getting? And will we know when we’ve arrived?
Like the proverbial carrot tied to the donkey, our sense of separation leads us ever on to an ever receding end point where our divided sense of self, as both subject and object, rejoin in ecstatic union, mythologically symbolised as heaven or paradise (or in prosaic contemporary parlance, ‘self actualisation’). We seek heaven in our relationships, in knowledge, in power. Everyone wants to come home.
The human story is a holocaust of trusts betrayed, hearts broken, lives destroyed by our endless quest for paradise and just like Narcissus, the frustration arising from the recognition that the desired fulfilment is unobtainable can lead to extreme violence against oneself and the world.
Once the spell of the objectivised notion of self is undone and the shroud is lifted, all that remains is the present moment, uniquely instancing to itself in what is before you right now (including, of course, any continuing feelings and thoughts of self-contraction).
This is it. End of story.
The shift in perspective from regarding oneself as a separate actor / knower of an external world to realising oneself as an occasion of the manifestation of self illumined, dynamic Oneness — and that manifestation-to-no-one is all there ever is / was / will be — can be frightening and disorienting (is this the ultimate dark truth, the emptiness we all fear?) but in the end its embrace is an invitation to drink the living waters of life itself. It’s the true beginning of faith.
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~ by Eric Best