that universal self.

 

I have had deeper and deeper revelations surrounding these words in the last few days. Alan Watts gets me every time. 

Do you ever feel separate from the world?

Or, rather, do you ever actually feel completely at home in the world

I would imagine that the sense of separation is more common and natural than the feeling that you fully belong here and are a perfect expression of spirit, right?

Of course it is. Because this is, in essence, the human condition, when you really think about it. 

The ever-present sense of separation that we all feel is due to feeling like we are separate expressions of spirit; that we are somehow disconnected from everything around us. We believe that we are here as individuals, and our purpose within that individuality is to prove ourselves in the world. It is this sense of separation that gives rise to competition, comparison, jealousy, blame, guilt, fear...and so on. It is because we do not feel at one with everything that is--and everyone that is--that we must fight the world and 'defend' ourselves, and this results in our inability to live at peace with each other and within ourselves. 

It is also this sense of separation from nature that causes humankind to attempt to dominate our surroundings. It is this sense of separation that allows us to judge others of different race, religious affiliation or lifestyle choice. And yet it is also this sense of separation that fills us with immobilizing shame and fear, so sure as we are that there is something fundamentally wrong with us; that the rest of existence has somehow got its shit together and we are the only ones out there fumbling about trying to figure out how to not hate ourselves. 

One can assume that we think and act this way because of the mythology surrounding the Garden of Eden, assuming that we have indeed been 'cast out' from the perfection of all that is, and that our existence here is uncomfortable and painful because of that original sin and separation. 

But how different would we act if we were first rooted in this sense of belonging here? 

And is it possible that the 'sin' of separation is just something we have brought into being by thinking it to be so? That it is not us that are fundamentally wrong or flawed but that we chose to use our minds to create separation where none existed, and that is the greatest sin of all?

 

And if so (which I believe wholeheartedly), how do we remember how to get back into the garden? To feel connected to the ocean as well as to our singular wave? 

This is the root of Zen practice, of Buddhism, of Hinduism, and of Shamanic Practice. The purpose of all of these belief systems is to reconnect us with the beauty and power and meaning of life by allowing us to transcend our limited, individual egos. It is never about solidifying the self as an isolated entity here, but in remembering our place within all things, and within this great dream of life. This is everything counter to what our culture and conditioning tell us, but we all know that we're not ever achieving true personal confidence by buying another pair of lululemons or losing that last 10 pounds. Real confidence can only be achieved by reuniting the self with all that is, inspiring trust in the processes that occur in our lives and the insights and perfection that emanate from within us all. 

We--our egos, our sense of separation--are the only things standing in the way, for we have only ever left the garden in our minds.