Living Beyond Illusion – are you up for crossing the threshold?
We live in challenging times; a world fast-filling with strife: wars, competition, struggle, debt, exploitation, inequality, degradation, etc. And, if the findings of world-leading scientists are to be acknowledged, time is not on our side.
There is much to be upbeat about and plenty of inspiring examples to point to of people in all walks of life striving for a better more sustainable future. And yet, much of the time, the solutions we come up with to our many pressing challenges tackle downstream effects while leaving the underlying causes gapping. So often we apply solutions with the same mind-set that created the problems in the first place.
Is there an underlying source – an original corruption – that is the root of these ever-widening and deepening challenges?
I believe there is.
The ’original corruption’ is a way of attending that completely identifies with the ‘I’ or ego and its forms – physical, thought, emotion. This egotistic way of attending obscures reality in a way that sees our selves as separate from each other and from our neighbourhood. It projects a mental abstraction of ‘self’ as separate from our true nature, our soulful receptive presence which we were born with and is innate throughout Nature.
The egotistic self is a re-presentation, a mental abstraction that we develop as a tool for interacting with the world. It is like a split personality in that it separates a sense of ‘I’ from our true nature and then projects this ‘I’ as the mental image of ourselves as a defined, discrete ‘I’ dislocated from the world around us. Whereas a sense of ‘I’ is important for our personal development, analysis and planning, it becomes potentially abusive when consolidated into a projection that subsumes how we naturally are. The tragedy comes about not because of the existence of the ego but when ‘assistant’ considers it to be ‘master’ and so the fragmented self becomes the dominant way of attending and our true Self suppressed.
This mental abstraction brings anxiousness, defensiveness, competitiveness and fearfulness which encourages a modus operandi of ‘having’, ‘wanting’, ‘owning’, ‘consuming’, ‘exploiting’. Its hallmarks are impatience with the present moment, nervousness, boredom, resentment, jealousy, discontentment, vanity, resentment, etc.. We can notice these surfacing within us often quite regularly, especially in the humdrum distractive environment of today’s consumerist culture.
It is what Einstein called an optical illusion of consciousness – the ego’s mis-representation of reality that fast becomes an all-consuming masquerade that separates ‘I’ from the ground of our being. This is the root cause of our unsustainable socio-economic model: a sense of separation and dis-ease rather than inclusion and attunement. According to the spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle, this illusion of separation is the ‘original sin’ as it is what creates all the problems we face in the world today.
So how do we go about rectifying this root cause?
‘To end the misery that has afflicted the human condition for thousands of years, you have to start with yourself and take responsibility for your inner state at any given moment. That means now.’ Eckhart Tolle
Many people increasingly speak of ‘presencing’ as a way to go beyond the confines of ego-consciousness. For instance, Peter Senge of MIT has explored how presencing is vital for the future of leadership and has set up a Presencing Institute focused at helping future business leaders. While there are many tools and techniques to help facilitate a state of presencing into our activities – for instance Otto Scharmer’s Theory-U – the essence of presencing is feeling the aliveness of the present moment beyond the ego’s sense of separation. This can be experienced by feeling our inner body; feeling the awareness beyond thought by shifting our attention from external form to aliveness inside us, the tiggling of energy in our fingers and toes, for instance, or the ebbing and flowing sensation of our breath, or the tides of love available to us as we authentically listen to each other, for instance. This ‘bodymind’ awareness helps ground us in the present moment.
To presence is to ‘let be’ without categorising or analysing what arises in our midst – easier said than done! Learning to let go of our mental abstractions and ego-identifications is not a plain sail yet it is vital for our evolution at this critical time. None but ourselves can undo our sense of separation from source. Now is the time to feel the aliveness of Nature, our true nature, the anima, the intense mystery and with it a humbling responsibility of co-creativity – alert, participatory awareness.
Ancient practices like T’ai Chi and yoga can help here as can meditation, mindfulness techniques, heart-based awareness, etc. to assist the quietening of mental chatter. This may allow the ego to loosen its incessant grip and permeate more readily with the ground of our being in our midst – this is to attune with Nature, Akasha, Tao, God – life beyond original sin. This is the heart and soul of living sustainably. It may feel like a struggle to begin with, especially while our minds are racing with the stress and busyness of today’s world – the list of things-to-do, twitter messages, meetings, rush hour traffic, bills to pay, phone calls to take, and so forth. Yet, if we wish to get to the root of our problems, we cannot avoid doing this most fundamental of undertakings – bringing our awareness into the unadulterated present moment. Emancipation from mental slavery, as Bob Marley would say, starts with our selves freeing our minds.
What is now called for is a new cosmology, a new story, which re-visions our inter-relations; this new logic re-cognises the vivid, lucid, aliveness of our inter-relational selves within Nature. In re-awakening to the all-pervasive presence of Nature flowing within and all around us, we open up to the oceanic aliveness in our midst. We are all of soul – anima – animate and conscious. Consciousness is flowing through all we do – tuning into this aliveness is the beginning of our sustainable future. It has direct benefit to our selves, our interrelations with each other and our engagement with the wider fabric of life – we become conscious co-creators rather than carcinogenic parasites.
Small moments of true aliveness come through being present in what we are attending to whether it be completely listening to the other person, freed from the desire to cut across or assert our view or prepare a response or say ‘I’. It is simple, yet not always easy, to open up the ground of our being. This is what makes us Homo Sapiens live up to our name of ‘wise humans’, this is the humility that grounds us as we place new steps of change.
As Mother Teresa says’ ‘we can not do great things, only small things with great love’.
Charles Eisentein speaks of any action – no matter how small or seemingly insignificant – that transforms the experience of separation into one of inclusion is a step towards the new story, whether acts of generosity, support, giving, encouragement, forgiveness, love. Anything that violates the old story of separateness opens up the new story through us and our ways of relating to others. We are the portals of the new paradigm, this is our destiny, and there is no time like the present. The more we open up to life the more we re-cognise that the solutions are all around and within us. Our own worst enemy becomes a true friend.
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